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

The Power is On

I was off and at home the other day when the power suddenly went out. It is a very uncomfortable feeling, I think, as the house shuts down and everything goes off. To go from some TV “noise”, lights on and the air conditioning to nothing is very unusual. Initially a helpless kind of feeling, and a quick review of my account to be sure I had not forgotten to pay! (That wasn’t the issue!). In this case, it was a city wide outage and homes and businesses were all effected. Thankfully they got the power back up and running an hour later! That hour though turned out to be interesting. When you don’t have power other things get done!

I took a good book and went out and sat on my porch for a little while. I haven’t done that in a long time, I took care of a few chores that had been waiting, and there was a sense of peace about things. My neighbor stays home with her 5 year old so I went over to make sure they were okay. You begin to wonder how long it will go because of food in the refrigerator and freezer. It gave some comfort to see power trucks go by knowing they were working on this and would the power restored quickly.

It came back on and there seemed like life again in the house! Clocks buzzed and whirled and needed reset. The TV came on, the lights and it felt safe and comfortable again! Can we make the comparison with the spiritual life? If you are like me, you probably have times when the spiritual “power” God gives in Christ seems to be “off.” And you wonder when it might come back on. Meanwhile, we plug along doing the routine of life.

Suddenly a spark ignites in us! The song comes true that has the refrain “somebody’s praying you through!” and you feel uplifted. I get that from church, I get that from my prayer time or time in  God’s Word. I get this recharge from community and being in relationship! And to know someone, somewhere is praying for me! And as I pray and reach out to encourage others, my own power in Christ gets restored! Be uplifted today, friend, the God who loves has defeated darkness now and forever!!

Peace,

Pr. Doug

There will be a lot of energy and “power” at the NLS National Gathering! Still time to get on board, join us! Visit www.viadecristo.org

Lessons from the road

Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I drive for a living, sort of. I average 2 hours a day, I’m not complaining, it’s part of my life based on where I live and where I work! In fact, I have driven “for work” all my professional life. I went to college at Indiana University (one hour from Indianapolis where I lived) and remember the drives back and forth to Bloomington with my college roommate buddy. My first job was as a Regional Consultant based out of Atlanta where I traveled the country by air and by highway. I then moved to outside sales for a giftware company. In those days, pre-computer, I lugged around my samples and sold store to store.

I traveled the state of Indiana for that job, selling gifts, stuffed animals, and the now-famous troll dolls!! I was promoted to a Regional Sales Manager and began to travel a two state area between Indiana and Kentucky. I eventually lived in Kentucky for a few years and still commuted back to Indiana.

I moved to  new home construction sales and had long drives to the subdivisions where I was placed. Years later as I began my ministry career attending Trinity Lutheran Seminary located in Columbus, Ohio where for three years I had a weekly 6 hour round trip drive!

11 years later after living locally near the church’s I pastored, I began the Crawfordsville (where I live) to Indianapolis/Brazil commute. I’ve learned a lot about life from behind the wheel:

*guys in older model pick-up trucks always have their left elbows out the window…

*I chuckle when I see the prison signs followed by the inevitable “don’t pick up hitchhikers” sign….

*dogs love to hang their head out the window, cats not so much…

*no matter how “clean” the rest area looks, it always feels dirty to me….

*billboards are now mostly electronic, flashing multiples messages at us. I love the one I saw once “Ignore your teeth, they’ll go away!”

*motorcyclists on highways seem to be taking a risk with their lives…

*there is usually an abandoned car on the side of the road somewhere..…

And for more than 30 years I haven’t had any major accidents or problems in bad weather during all this commuting. And I appreciate knowing now, that no matter where we go, how we get there, or what happens Emmanuel (God with us) (Matthew 1:23) is always there! Be blessed this week, drive safely, and enjoy life, God has the wheel!!!

Come travel to northern Ohio and join your VdC family for the Annual Gathering! It’s never too late, come and be with us!

 

Pr. Doug

 

Evil is a choice. — Spiritual Director thought for the week

I came home after church yesterday and just wanted to relax a bit before taking on the afternoon chores, yard work, etc. I turned on the national news and learned of the incredible devastation in Orlando at the Pulse nightclub. Lest we doubt that evil is alive and well, this is proof evil is. This is a very hard concept for people to understand, including myself.

Evil is a choice. We have been granted free will and we have choices we can make and we do that every day. We can choose our attitude, our personality to some degree, we choose what we say and how we act. This week especially talk with those close to you about these events. Talking helps us process. Guard how much of the news you watch/read because you can easily become overwhelmed.

In times of high stress like this it is important to stay on your normal routine, to rest, to pray to God and rest in God’s loving embrace. That is the same Embrace being given to Orlando today and those affected. This is the same Embrace that holds us close when we are scared, and cannot make sense out of life. But we must move forward.

Give blood, donate, pray, and reach out in any way that you can. Hug your family, tell them you love them, and continue to live. After all, the opposite of “evil” is “live”. Please talk with your Pastor or Spiritual Director if you feel “stuck” or need help processing this event.

Peace be with our country, leaders, and those responding to this crisis and the families and loved ones,

Pastor Doug

NLS SD

Happy Father’s Day ! Remember, Dad, our job is to follow Paul’s advice in Thessalonians 5:11 “Let us encourage one another”. Encourage your children and grandchildren no matter their age!!