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


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).



God bless you all,

Pr. Doug



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!!


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


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!!


A Little Privacy Please

I just want to drop off my recycled items by myself, just once! This may sound weird, but the recycling facility in my town is the busiest place ever. I have dropped by at all hours of the day, evening, weekends and evenholidays, and there is always, always someone else there! Now I realize it’s  not my private domain but the area where the bins are located is relatively small. Once back into your car you cannot see on the other side what the driver next to you is doing!

Yesterday around 5:30 I ran a few errands in town and everything was quiet. On my way home I stop at the recycling place to drop off my items. The car in front of me also pulls in, and there is someone next to the bin already dropping off her stuff! I start to unload my trunk when an older woman pulls up next to me, hops out and tosses her bag into the bin. For her to do that she steps in front of my car and takes her time dumping out her bag, in the same spot in the bin where I was tossing in! I had to wait a second for her to finish before I could continue! I just want, one time, one time is all I’m asking, to drop by and not have anyone else around!!

Well, we all recycle and thank God we have a place we can drop off things in town. But don’t you feel “crowded” sometimes? I mean I know we have to share space with 6+ billion other people on the planet, but I like a little bit of privacy. Last evening I stepped out on my porch to refill bird feeders. Again, maybe it was my mood, but I just wanted to be left alone a minute. My neighbor pops out for a smoke on the porch and wants to chat. I know, I know, love thy neighbor.

So I couldn’t find any private space yesterday except of course in my home. I know God is the God of crowded places as well as in private. I am thankful that my best “God moments” are mine, and mine alone mostly enjoyed in privacy and quiet. Take some time out today, this week, to find your quiet, private space and enjoy your time with God! There is nothing to “recycle” with the Lord, as God makes all things new!


Pastor Doug



Road Rage

Road rage is a growing epidemic. The CBS show “Sunday morning” had a special on it this past Sunday and there is another road rage incident caught on camera in today’s national news! I once had a “road rage” incident several years ago. The driver in front of me thought that I had obviously followed too closely. When we arrived at the stoplight he hopped out and came back to speak in some “unkind” language! I had no idea and really don’t think I was tailgating but it was scary.

What is it with us? Are we really always angry? What is our hurry? I mean with technology today we can always call ahead and alert someone we will be late. The response of “road rage” seems out of order because the offense is usually not worthy of that type of anger. But I think a lot of people drive with their stress, frustrations of life, and problems pushing the pedal! Whenever I’m cut off, or someone angers me in driving, I try and think what they must be going through. Maybe they are on their way to the hospital for a dying spouse, or parent or something like that. Perhaps they just got devastating news from a spouse who no longer wants to be married….there are countless possibilities.

Because I commute so much I know the feeling of frustration when other drivers don’t drive like me!!  We cannot move cars out of our way, we can’t influence the other driver really, we have to focus on the control of our own car. And that’s a great analogy for life. We can’t control others, we cannot make people act like we want them to act. Ultimately, we have no control.

Father Tim, from the Mitford Series by Jan Karon, says the prayer that never fails is “thy will be done!” Really that’s all we want, isn’t it? Thy will be done, O Lord, in my personal and professional life, and for those I love and care about. Thy will be done! And slow me down while driving and, in fact, slow me down in my life, Lord! Amen!


  1. DOUG



Memorial Day


Eleanor was the first shut-in I ever called on some 20 years ago as I began my ministry. She had recently become widowed and was facing a number of health issues as well. Like many in her situation in our culture today the children and grandchildren had moved away, were busy with their own lives, and barely called or wrote. Now that I have worked in the hospital setting five years I see it all the time. Many families abandon their older parents and grandparents.

As I talked with Eleanor about the love of God, as I read Scripture about the presence of Jesus with us always, she said something that always stuck with me. She said, “I forget to remember.” It has happened often to me and probably for you as well. We often “forget to remember” to pray, to be in God’s Word, to attend our church of choice and to love and serve one another. It’s easy, so much clutter occupies our minds and thoughts these days, it’s so hard and yet so easy to forget.

I believe that God also “forgets to remember.” Oh, God remembers us as persons, as souls, individuals to love, but God forgets to remember our sins. That is what forgiveness and grace are all about. Forgiveness is ours; I wonder why we remember so easily our mistakes, sins and decisions we wish we would not have made? When the God we love and serve, who gave us Jesus to die and rise again for those sins, has forgotten/forgiven. “I forgive their sins and remember them no more…” (Hebrews 8:12).

This weekend, Memorial Day will be filled with lots of activities for many of us. Over the course of a three-day weekend (for many) remember those who served our country and have paid the ultimate price. And then, as you remember to pray, bring to mind all those men and women who currently serve around the world. They need us to remember them, always.

Peace be with you, blessed Memorial Day week,

Pastor Doug


Pr. Doug Givan, MDiv

Board Certified Staff Chaplain

St. Vincent Health, Clay/Indpls