Affirm – September 5th, 2016

Have you ever had your proverbial “back against the wall?” You remember, don’t you? Whatever the situation you were in, your opponent kept pushing and pushing until you had nowhere else to go. From any direction, things didn’t look so good. You were in a bad spot and you knew it.

Well, let me ask you another question: Have you ever been in a situation that seemed totally hopeless – until “the tables were turned”? You remember that too, don’t you? Everything was bleak and black and then before you knew it or could even explain it, everything was cheerful and sunny. Friends, that’s what God can do to accomplish His purposes in any situation and God can turn the tables in your situation even today.

I tell you that because I just finished reading the book of Esther this morning. I love that book of the Bible. Let me share with you a few of the many contrast in this book. Consider these contrasts, showing how God turned things completely around to protect His people and preserve His plans:

  1. Mordecai goes from sackcloth and ashes (4:1,4) to royal clothes and a crown (8:15).
  2. Mordecai goes from sitting outside the king’s gate (4:2) to a place of honor inside the palace (8:1).
  3. The Jewish people appear vulnerable and marked for annihilation (3:13); yet become a formidable group, striking fear in other nations (8:17).
  4. The Jews go from severe mourning (4:3) to great rejoicing (8:16).

Friends, God is more than able to take seemingly hopeless situations and work them out for the good of His people. Here’s what the Apostle Paul said about our lives being taken care of by God…
“… God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” Romans 8:28 MSG

Did you read that? “Every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Though you might not be able to see it because things seem bleak and black – above the dark ominous clouds the Son is still shining. He’s working everything out.

Father,
I rest secure knowing that my life, every detail of my life, is being taken care of and everything is going to work out for good. My praise, thanks and adoration go only to You. In Jesus name I come, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

August 29th, 2016 Afirm

We consistently see the advertisements. I’ve noticed them with more frequency lately. Not only do I see them on TV commercials but now seeing graphic, heart wrenching interviews on the social media, like FaceBook.

I’m talk about that issue of texting while driving. The latest one I saw showed a young person sitting comfortably in a room, being interviewed and nonchalantly answering some innocent questions about if they text and drove and why they text while they drive.

Then, in walks into the room, a very pretty young lady. You can tell when you first see her that she has some physical issues. She walks with a limp… her left arm is stationary… her hand unusable… her face is a bit deformed, most noticeably around her mouth as she speaks.

She introduces herself and immediately begins telling her story. Never once does she talk with hate or anger, but with simple compassion. She was in the car of her parents when another driver who was texting crossed over the centerline, forcing a semi to have to move over which caused a head on collision with her parents car. Both her parents were killed immediately. She was in the hospital for 2 months. Most her her bones were broken. She had many surgeries. She spent an enormous amount of time in therapy, but she survived and now serves as a living testimony as to what can happen when we text and drive.

I share that with you today because I read in these words in my Bible…
“Be generous with me and I’ll live a full life; not for a minute will I take my eyes off Your road.” Psalm 119:17 MSG

Now we all understand that when the Psalmist wrote this, they didn’t have vehicles like we do today. They had horses and donkey’s and camels, who though some go could fast would never reach the speed of today’s transportation. Going off the road took real effort. You purposefully had to stop watching.

Friends, it’s easy in today’s fast paced world to take our eyes off of Jesus. And because of the speed of our times, it only takes a split second for us to end up in the ditch, sometimes not only hurting ourselves but also others.

God in His grace, laid out a road for each of us to follow – it leads to Him. But if you take your eyes off of Him, like texting while driving, you may end up in a terrible accident.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: While driving through your daily activities, “…keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed.” Hebrews 12:2 MSG

Father,
Through the power of Your Spirit today, help me keep my eyes on You and not be distracted by any text. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. M.M. Marxhausen

August 22, 2016 – Affirm

Last week I had a great talk with my cousin Kim on the phone. I haven’t talked to her in… I don’t know how many years. Her husband is a pastor down in Texas. Kim and I are the same age and have a number of other cousins who were all born the same year (must have been a good year to have kids!)

Kim had sent me an email concerning our family tree and asked whether I’d be the point person for my dad’s family in getting her updated information. So far she’s traced our family line back to the early 1700’s. While talking with her, we shared stories of growing up and things we remembered. Our conversation was peppered with a lot of laughter.

I share that with you because as I was reading the in the book of Ezra today, I ran across some verses that described a group of people. Here’s what it said…
“… They weren’t able to prove their ancestry, whether they were true Israelites or not… They had thoroughly searched for their family records but couldn’t find them.” Ezra 2:60,62 MSG

How unnerving would that be? Not being able to know where you came from, or who you were? Not being able to prove your existence?

Well, I happen to think there’s a lot of people who have that same problem in a spiritual manner. They’ve forgotten who they are. They’ve lost track of their family inheritance. They no longer have any records of their spiritual ancestry.

Now they may have lost that due to many circumstances and situations, but none-the-less, they no longer know they are children of God. They belong to a huge family where there’s plenty of love and care, but they’ve become disconnected. They’ve become spiritual orphans and most often we don’t do anything to bring them back into the family.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s what God says to you, to me, to them…
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine.” Isaiah 43:1 MSG

Jesus said…
“I will not leave you orphaned.” John 14:18 MSG

So here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Do you know someone who needs a family? Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s your coworker, neighbor, spouse, best friend. Why not welcome them home and introduce them to their family and let them know they belong!

Father,
We are Your children. You created us… You redeemed us… You empower us. Please remind us often how blessed we are to be in Your family. Thank You for adopting us. As You’re looking for those who are orphaned, open our eyes to see them too and invite them in as Your children. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. M.M. Marxhausen

Affirm August 15th 2016

Affirm 2016

I’m one of those people that some might call ignorant when it comes to world news. I haven’t watched the news or listened to the news in many, many years. It just got too depressing. Every day the bad news just kept mounting up – shootings, drugs, racial hatred, injustice. It wasn’t just a single occurrence, but multiple occurrences with different people in different places.

I remember getting agitated because everyone wanted to tell me they bad news but nobody wanted to offer a solution. I know it sounds too simple, but Jesus is the answer for the world today. I then began asking myself what, if anything, I could do to bring change to this desperate situation?

In the Old Testament of the Bible, there was a king by the name of Josiah. And even though Josiah was a godly king, he couldn’t change the history of Judah and he couldn’t change the punishment that would be inflicted on Judah for their disobedience. But because of his faithfulness, he would see peace and prosperity in his lifetime.

This is what God told him through a prophet when he decided to just do the right thing…
“Because you took seriously the doom of judgment I spoke against this place and people, and because you responded in humble repentance, tearing your robe in dismay and weeping before me, I’m taking you seriously…” 2 Chronicles 33:27 MSG

As I read that this morning, I started thinking that maybe I/we need to take the posture of Josiah. What if we atoned for our own sins and stopped concentrating on our history or our future? What God has ordained for our country and the world is already put in place. There’s nothing we can do to do stop His divine plan, but we can bring peace and prosperity to our own lives by restoring the covenant God made with us, by worshipping God alone rather than the gods of this world. Once we tear down the idols in our lives, we can live lives as God intended them to be. We can be complete in Him in a world that is increasingly falling apart.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Start with yourself. Look within. Pray like King David prayed, “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for Yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong – then guide me on the road to eternal life.” Psalm 139:23-24 MSG

Father,
Start with me. Cross-examine me. See for Yourself who I am, what I’ve done, and grant me mercy. Forgive me and by Your Holy Spirit lead me to You. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. M.M. Marxhausen

Affirm 2016 August 8th 2016

Let me share a scripture with you today…
“I’ll get all the prophets to lie.” 2 Chronicles 18:21 MSG

The nations of Israel and Judah had been at odds for many years. They were one nation – one people – at one time. But circumstances divided them.

Years later and now different kings, there was a time that the King of Judah, Jehoshaphat was doing business with the very wicked king of Israel, Ahab.

Ahab invited Jehoshaphat over and treated him to a meal “fit for a king” that was intended to soften him up a bit. You see, Ahab had ulterior motives. When Ahab thought the time was right he suggested an alliance between Israel and Judah so they could fight together against another nation, because Ahab knew he couldn’t win alone.

Jehoshaphat was hesitant and suggested that they consult the Lord. The result was a pre-arranged prophetic display from some of Ahab’s hand-picked prophets, 400 to be exact. Jehoshaphat saw right through it and asked for a second opinion, this time from a real prophet of God.

It’s now that we meet Micaiah. I picture him as a little fireball of a fellow with a bald head. In fact, his feistiness has already gotten him on the bad side of King Ahab. King Ahab doesn’t appreciate Micaiah’s truth telling.

Micaiah says this campaign will end in massive defeat, especially for Israel. When pressed on the matter he gives an imaginary scenario in which the Lord calls a heavenly angelic advisors meeting. The Lord wants their ideas of how to get Ahab to make the foolish decision to follow through and attack. Finally, one angel says it won’t be hard to do; he’ll just get all of Ahab’s paid prophets to lie to him!

As you can imagine all these so called prophets don’t take kindly to being called liars and pandemonium breaks out. Ahab has Micaiah thrown into jail and proceeds with his battle plans. It’s his last battle.

What’s my point in all this: It’s really not hard to find people who agree with us. Some folks really like us and think we can do just about anything; they tell us to go for it. Others want to score points with us… others are intimidated by us… or really don’t care one way or another.

What’s most important is to find people who know what they’re talking about and who will risk telling us the truth, even if it’s not what we want to hear. Are you surrounded by people like that? Because those people are priceless.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Thank the Lord for good friends who tell you the truth in love and then go thank them for being your friend. Be a friend… Make a friend… Bring a friend to Christ!

Father,
Thank You for putting people in my life who are willing to tell me the truth. Help me to be that kind of friend as well. In Jesus name, Amen.

Rev. Dr. M.M. Marxhausen

Night Shift

The Night Shift is a TV show on NBC about the Emergency Room night shift of a hospital in San Antonio. It first aired on May 27, 2014 and currently runs in a third season. I like the show,  but I also know a little about the reality of the ER, and not every staff problem or medical issue can be solved in 50 minutes!

I greatly respect the night shift associates who work in the St. Vincent hospital system. They are the “unsung” heroes of patient care, who often don’t get recognized or included in day time events. At one hospital as I enter for work they are coming out the door and usually look tired and ready for sleep!

I have worked as the overnight Chaplain a number of times and it is taxing physically. Being up all night (at this age!) takes a toll on the body and throws off the body rhythms of sleep and awake time. Usually there is activity somewhere in the hospital, a patient can’t sleep due to worry and anxiety and they’d like a prayer. Sometimes death is near for a patient and the chaplain brings comfort to the family. And, yes, the ER is alive and active and there is always ministry available there. The nursing staff does not seem quite so “harried” at night, and always seem to enjoy talking, sharing about their lives or seeking prayer.

I remember my first week on night shift at our 86th street hospital in Indianapolis. At night the hallway lights dim and things get much quieter. Most patients sleep if they have their day and night times aligned! But the work of patient care goes on. I remember an overhead code being called that there was an emergency in the one of the patient rooms. It was amazing to see how quickly so many people came running from all corners of the hospital! There were doctors, nurses, techs, pharmacy carts, and someone from every discipline on the scene or nearby. It was incredible sight to see as help was rushed to the patient.

You and I probably have done a “night shift” or two along the way. There have been times when we can’t sleep, we are awake, we have “busy brain” and anxiety and worry become bedside companions. It’s at those times we give thanks that God is always awake and does not take sleep, does not rest! God sends a care team of angels to hold us, love us, heal us, and guide us.

Psalm 121 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains, my help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth. Behold, God who does not sleep is your keeper, and the Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.”

I once saw a quirky sign that said something like “If you can’t sleep at night, it’s probably God telling you to listen because God finally has your attention!” In other words, during the day we are often to rushed to listen, too busy to pray, and to harried in our own lives. As you sleep tonight let God be your keeper, and your guard and then anxiety, worry, etc. can’t get in!

A new National Spiritual Director has been elected and you are, or will be, receiving his devotional. If you would like to continue receiving something from Pr. Doug, please send your email address asap to him! (if you already have, you do not need to repeat). Thank you and congratulations to Pr. Mark Marxhausen, from Minnesota!  

Peace,

Pr. Doug

Chaplain

A Final Thought

Greetings Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

We just had a wonderful week at the NLS Gathering in Sylvania, Ohio! Thanks to the Host committee for a great experience. Because it was so hot I was especially thankful for the golf carts!

As you may or may not have known, a new National Spiritual Director was elected and his name is Pr. Mark Marxhausen! He is from Minnesota and you will soon hear from him and learn about him. Please keep him in your prayers as well as newly elected VPA, Butch Seely and the rest of the board.  They exist to serve the Lord and all of our Secretariats. It was a blessing, honor and great privilege to serve 6 out of the last 8 years as your NSD!!

I thank current and past board members for your support, encouragement and prayers! I believe I am leaving the position in a better place than when I found it and believe Pr. Mark will take it further along.

Many of you from last week asks about continuing to receive my weekly devotionals and I’d be glad to do that if you will send me your email address.  You will begin to receive a ‘Chaplain Corner’ from me (same thing as before). Pr. Mark has a devotional he has been doing and will soon begin to send his to you!

As part of my report last week I told the story of a VDC ‘alumni’ I knew from years ago. He hasn’t served or been involved for several years and in talking to me about VDC while at church he asked a question. He asked ‘Via de Cristo. …hasn’t that about run its course?’ I told him that it had not, and in fact was nationally and locally going strong !!! After serving Nationally I can say with certainty the VDC movement is alive and doing well. You who read this and all who attend national gatherings are the reason!!!

We welcomed a two new Secretariats last week in North Dakota, and in North Carolina! This November our Vice-President of Outrach, Wendy Showalter,  will travel to Papua New Ginuea as a keynote speaker for their VDC movement!!!!!!! Counting them plus Latvia and other places we are an international movement!!! We are alive and well for Jesus!

In my sermon Sunday , as NLS Gathering concluded I talked about ‘gap living’! There is a ‘gap’ in life between the reality of life and the way we would really like things to be. Every Secretariat lives into this gap: wanting more weekends, team members participating, more pilgrims, more spiritual directors and, of course, more money!! But Jesus covers that gap with the cross of Christ and the joy of Easter morning!  We love and see a living, moving, active Lord ready to meet us in the gap and work with us in grace, love, and hope!

In 2008 when I was first elected NSD I said what I say now and know you do as well : I LOVE THE LORD JESUS AND I LOVE THE VIA DE CRISTO!

Please send your email if you’d like to still receive my weekly thoughts……thank you one and all it was a great ride! God loves you and so do I!!

Pr. Doug,
former NSD

We are off and running

Friends-

We are off and running! The NLS annual gathering begins this week on Thursday. We gather in the name of the Lord to do the business of Via de Cristo, worship, fellowship, and to learn and grow our movement. If you aren’t able to attend, please pour out alot of ‘prayer palanca ‘ for us! For safe travels and a good three days for Jesus.

Our brother, Dr. Alan Sager has written extensively about our Via de Cristo. In an article titled ‘Looking again at VDC essentials’ he lifts up the idea that ‘we must remember that Jesus came to earth on a divine mission. …and as we truly follow the Lord we join Him in that redemptive work to change the world! ‘We are part of that mission….whether you make it to Ohio or not…we are part of God’s mission and i think our mission can be summed up: we love the Lord and we love the Via de Cristo!

When life is tough and stress comes pressing in, we remember that we, personally, our called to love Jesus and to share His love and grace with our world!. When we focus on Jesus and others life is good! Support your local Secretariat,  pray for the National Board that we would all keep focused on God’s mission to make Christ known to the world! And know we will pray for you also this weekend!

God loves you and so do I!

Pastor Doug Givan

“Encouraging words are like apples of gold in settings of silver”  Proverbs 25:11

Mary and Martha

Whenever I am asked how I’m doing I tend to say something like “Nothing a nap wouldn’t help!” I go by the empty rooms of the hospital where the bed sheets are clean and crisp, the room is dark, the air conditioning is on and they look so inviting! (I would never do that of course, I am being humorous!). The idea of “siesta” where everyone takes an hour or two off in the afternoon would probably go a long way to resolving some of the stress we feel in our daily lives. I napped over the weekend and it was glorious!

I think we are all a little tired. The national news can overwhelm and exhaust us easily. The heat returns this week in Central Indiana, and the simple push of daily life is about all we can handle. We feel a great deal of stress, anxiety and worry and sometimes cannot even name the source of those feelings. Our plates are full and we are doing all we can.

There is a rather famous Bible story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42) where Jesus has come to their home for a visit. Mary is sitting at the Lord’s feet listening to him teach. Martha is busy in the kitchen and worried about getting everything together. She asks the Lord “Do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself?” (vs. 40). Jesus answered “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken from here.” (42).

We are worried and distracted by many things! There doesn’t even seem to be time to nap. But there is always time for Jesus, there is always time to slow down, sit at his feet, and listen! We have to make quiet, rest, deep breathing a priority in our day and just do it!

Today so many possibilities exist….on line, audio books on tape, on our phone, tablet or other device to get into God’s Word. Try to slow down some today, take a few deep breaths, and with quiet around you listen to God. You will likely fall asleep and have a nice couple minute nap! No worries, Jesus also said “Come on to me, all you who are heavily burdened and I will give you rest!” (Matthew 11:28).

COME REST IN THE GLORY OF OUR LORD NEXT WEEK AT THE NATIONAL GATHERING! IT’S NOT TOO LATE….GO TO www.viadecristo.org AND JOIN US IN NORTHERN OHIO!

 

God bless you all,

Pr. Doug

NLS SD

 

Summer is Here

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Summer is here and this means it’s time for our Annual Gathering.  This is a great time for those who are able to attend this blessed event.  It’s an opportunity to fellowship with old friends (I know….careful), learn new things to help keep your secretariat strong, and of course worship together as brothers and sisters in Christ!

If you haven’t attended, please consider coming next year!  If you are coming to join in the fun this year, I can’t wait to see you!

We have an exciting agenda put together for you and the Host Team from Great News has been working hard to provide an over-the-top experience for us all!

God loves you and so do I,

Your brothers in Christ,

Steve Gielda

National Lutheran Secretariat – President