Down from the Mountaintop

I felt it right as I left the parking lot. It stayed with me all the way home and still does today. I faced traffic on the way home and fought to stay awake. When I got out of the car at the gas station they looked at me kind of funny. I looked down at my cross and nametag and wished I was back on the mountaintop. The “it” I’m talking about is what I face after every national VDC gathering, and every weekend when I serve.

It is the Sunday night blues. The return to the real world of grass that needs cut, bills to pay, laundry to do and work to return to. I always have a hard time coming down, so to speak. We that gathered in Illinois had a tremendous experience I believe. The worship, the fellowship, the learning and prayers that were shared have us all inspired to go back and get to work. One of my personal highlights was the presentation of the “Cotton Patch Gospel”. This incredible one man performance was funny, inspirational and very moving. He acted out the Gospels with a southern “vernacular twist.” When he did the final scene of the resurrection he got up on a table and said “It Worked!” Yes, it worked, and yes the Gospel works. (You can find him on line or Google his name Phil Kaufmann.)

As one or more people said to me there is great momentum leading to Sylvania, Ohio next July. Mark your calendars now July 21-24, 2016. One person joked (not me) that it will truly be “Holy Toledo!” Our new president, Steve Gielda, will be a driving force as we go to the next level. We all must do our part as we pray for Steve and the National Secretariat, for our local Secretariats, and as we serve on teams, reach out and sponsor a pilgrim and so on. Our movement is alive and well. We received lots of positive feedback on the weekend and there is new energy generated! The same God on the mountaintop goes with us now. (I know that, I just had a really great time though.)

When Jesus was on the mountaintop (The Transfiguration Matthew 17:1-9 and other places) He was touched by God and became radiant. So do we in the encounter with Christ in VDC, in the written Word, in the Waters of our baptism, at the Table of Wafer and Wine, as we drive in traffic, do laundry and cut the grass.

And then the Scripture teaches that as they all came down from the mountain a great crowd was waiting on them. Look around, friend, a great crowd is waiting on us to go with Good News! Whether you were with us over the weekend or not, there is work to be done. And we can do it. God can and will do it through us…..we are ready.

Oh, I almost forgot! You are enough! You are enough, be “light” on yourself this week and it will feel like a mountaintop all over again!!

God Bless you all,

Pr. Doug

NLS SD

 

(Thank you to the many readers who spoke with me over the weekend in thanksgiving for this little devotional thought for your week!)

2015 Annual Gathering

The National Gathering for our beloved VDC begins this week at Augustana College in Illinois! To me attending a national weekend is like an extension of my own weekend when I went through. Fellowship, Worship, listening to talks on the Christian life and the VDC life…it’s awesome.

Do you remember your weekend? Remember the feelings, the fear and trepidation melting in to incredible joy at the end of the weekend?  I remember my table, I remember outdoor worship by a lake, I remember the surprises of Palanca and I remember the incredible service. I mean there were guys outside with flashlights, holding doors open and bringing drinks to the table. The food was incredible. On the Saturday of my weekend, at lunch time, one guy ate 7 sloppy joe sandwiches! (we had a little impromptu contest…and he survived the rest of the weekend).

In preparing to go to the National gathering I ran across my team roster and photo. Tears of great joy because I don’t think I’ve ever felt as close to the Lord as I did that weekend. A few of the guys have gone onto their 5th day and I grieve their loss. Others have dropped off the radar and I’ve never seen them since to serve together on a team. I wonder why I’ve not contacted them and I know life gets in the way, time goes by.

Coming to a National VDC event is as close to my original weekend as I will ever get! I feel it sometimes when I serve on a team, but when you gather with brothers and sisters from all over the country it’s pretty incredible.  If you are reading this and are coming I look forward to being with you. If you are reading this and not coming I invite your prayers for us, that all might be renewed and inspired to serve the Lord in our Via de Cristo ministry. And you can know that we who gather will be praying for you!

GLYASDI,

Pr. Doug

National SD

Relax, Refuel

I only had a little gas left in the lawn mower so I hoped and prayed it would be enough to finish the yard. I didn’t feel like taking the container and refilling it. I wasn’t feeling 100%, tired, and really didn’t want to cut grass at all yesterday in this humidity. But grass waits for no one and away I went. I am down to the end of the yard and the lawnmower starts to stutter. I try to hurry as much as one can while cutting the grass! And sure enough the mower stops with just a little of the grass left to cut.

The story of my life it feels like. I figured I’d wait and finish that part tomorrow after getting gas for the container. Running out of gas for the lawn mower is not nearly as  bad as running out in a car! I’ve never had that happen, knock on wood, because I usually fill up before I get that low. I belong to triple AAA and am pretty sure they can bring gas, if I should run out. I have been close a couple times, when the light comes on and there are no gas stations in sight!

Outside of cutting the grass and going to church yesterday was a day of low energy and not much “gas” to do anything. I relaxed and rested. I watched a couple movies and just stopped the busy-ness. I fought hard against the voices telling me how much there was to do, to organize and to try and get done. And I think we all need to take time out to rest from time to time. Low on energy today? Out of “fuel”? It’s okay, our God allows for rest and gives us time off if we will only take it.

Jesus took time in the Bible to go away (Mark 6:46, for example) and pray and to rest. It is this kind of rest that, ironically, refuels us and gives energy for the tasks at hand. It’s what a day off is for, or a vacation. Time away is needed to “recreate” ourselves and re-energize. Wal-mart has their back to school stuff out and they will want us to rush the end of summer. Don’t worry, no one can take the well-deserved time out from you. Just give it to yourself today, this week, this month. Do you have lots of time off available? Useone or two days just for you. Nothing on the calendar tonight? Good, leave it that way and allow yourself to rest. The dust, the “to-do’s”, the laundry and dishes can wait. You are re-fueling!

 COME AND BE REFUELED AT THE NATIONAL GATHERING! STILL TIME TO GET ON BOARD! VISIT OUR WEB SITEWWW.VIADECRISTO.ORG FOR ALL THE INFORMATION! Feel like you are being called to rest and worship and fellowship?  Come to Illinois, and be refreshed in God’s grace,

 

Peace,

Pr. Doug

NLS SD

 

Go Bless America

Every time I plugged in the green electrical cord into my garage outlet a fuse would blow. It didn’t seem right that there were a few sparks coming from the plug-in nor did it seem right to have the fuse go out every time. I even tried different outlets outside the house because I desperately needed to trim my yard and home with my electric trimmer! So my handyman brother suggested there may be a difference in the green electrical cords and the orange ones I am used to. After all, it was his green electrical cord he gave me along with a “holder” that mounted up on the garage wall.

So I visited my local hardware store and was shocked at how much extension cords can cost, and the variety. I’m not spending nearly $100 just so my extension cord can light up and show me it’s working. I’m not buying a yellow one for $89 so I kept shopping up and down the aisle. Then amidst all the varieties I found one for $19 that was for outdoors and was 100 feet long! I plugged that in and everything worked perfectly, no sparks and no fuses blown! I guess the “amps” or something inside the cords can be different amounts and be too strong for the outlet.

I also have noticed a difference when I “plug in” to my God and when I am “unplugged!” (Pun intended! ) Last Sunday at church singing some of the national hymns like “God Bless America” was so inspiring. Yes, we know that God has blessed the whole world in Jesus our Lord and Savior! What a difference having God in our lives and hearts and souls. We have a friend in Jesus who longs to carry the heavy burdens we face in life (Matthew 11:28) all we have to do is “plug in” and let go.  God Bless America seems too big for me to handle. I need it simpler and easier to apply to my life. When I shrink it down the “America” around us is our family, work, neighborhood and every place we go. Because God has blessed me/us we can go and bless the “America” where we live and work and play. How do you bless someone else? I’d say love them, care for them, listen to them, encourage them, show interest in them and their lives. There are countless possibilities.

Church signs and retail store signs all seemed to have the words “God Bless America” on them for this past weekend. One such sign was missing the letter “D” and I thought that really does sum up the plugged-in existence we have in the Lord today! Friends, let’s “Go Bless America!”

 COME AND BE BLESSED AT NATIONAL GATHERING! STILL TIME TO REGISTER AND GET ON BOARD! COME BE BLESSED AND REFILLED SO YOU CAN COME BACK AND REFILL OTHERS…..

 Pastor Doug Givan

Staff Chaplain

Clay, Brazil

Seton, Indy

dgivan@stvincent.org

“Have faith there is a reason you go through certain things. I can’t say I am glad to go through pain, but in a way one must in order to gain courage and really feel joy.”   -Carol Burnett

 

Grace

Grace, peace, and mercy from God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit!

Let’s focus on the first word of this greeting as an encouragement in our walk with God and our work in this ministry: Grace. What a marvelous word! Volumes have, and will be, written on the subject. The second talk of a Via de Cristo weekend is titled “Grace” and energizes the process of renewing our relationship with the creator, redeemer, and sanctifier of the universe. As you know what’s awe-inspiring about grace is God freely gives it. I once heard grace described as “God loves you no matter what – deal with it!” Grace and unconditional love is not very common in today’s world. A few questions inside a question for your reflection: “How do you deal with God’s amazing grace? Put it on a pedestal and worship it? Put it in the closet and bring it out only when it “seems” right? Exercise it daily in your dealings with others created in the image of God? Possibly something else?”

God’s grace and love for us, and all creation, is boundless. I suppose that discovery, coupled with the understanding that as believers in Jesus (God: Son), God: Holy Spirit is always with us, is what propels us, energizes us to do what we do in our daily lives and in this ministry. If you heard me say this before, it’s worth repeating: When you come face-to-face with God’s love, you realize that nothing, absolutely nothing you do or say will cause God to love you more. With that, everything is done in response to God’s love rather than to gain God’s love.

I love the priestly blessing recorded in Numbers 6:24. However, I modify the last word to reflect God’s grace and love for us. “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you shalom.” Shalom is more than the absence of worry and conflict – it is the certain knowledge that God is with us: loving, guiding, comforting, and keeping us, now and forever.

In Christ –

Ed