Sunday Morning Priorities

Hi Friends:

This came to me on Facebook yesterday in my news feed and I share it with you! It’s one of those cartoons that makes you think as you look at it and ponder the deeper meaning. In this case, it’s about the priority of God and worship in your life. It is a picture of a young man in football uniform telling his coach he can’t make the game Sunday morning because he is going to be an acolyte at church (an assistant for a worship service).

Sunday morning I was with a delightful group of people at their church as the substitute pastor. They have a long history in the community but have struggled lately and do not have a full time pastor. Attendance was about “half full” Sunday and as I drove home I went by a soccer fields and I had to look twice! It was two fields put together and it was packed! There were kids running every which way and parents on blankets and lawn chairs. The church I attended was half empty, the soccer field was full! And I thought how sad that the soccer people have finally found an opening in the week when practice and matches can be scheduled: SUNDAY MORNING! And it’s not just sports that have long infiltrated Sunday morning….it has become just another morning in our world. People work, the retail world is open and ready for you, youth sporting events are scheduled, people sleep in, and life carries on. (Now, to be fair, any number of those soccer families could have attended earlier that morning, the night before or another service at another day/time!)

I remember “back in the day” when stores were closed on Sunday. It used to be a day of rest, where you went to church Sunday morning, had a home cooked meal and then rested for the week ahead. We do have one of the Ten Commandments teaching us “Remember the Sabbath (rest) day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath.” (Exodus 20:8).

So I celebrate the Sunday (or other day) gathering of God’s people for worship! I love a cartoon that gives us a solid reminder of what is important. And I want to add that whether you have a church home or not, God is still love, and God still loves and forgives you. It’s just nice to hear about that love and forgiveness in a Sunday morning church service!

Peace to you,

Pastor Doug
NLS SD

P.S. Don’t forget “altar call” as part of the 4th day spiritual life! Go to the altar to be altered before or after church, or even better when not many are around in the building, and have your prayer time. You will feel the spirit of God.

“War Room”

Friends:

I love to see movies and I would like to recommend “War Room” to you! I saw it over the weekend and it is part of Hollywood’s renewed interest in putting together specifically Christian movies. There have been several out over the last couple years and I always enjoy seeing them. I couldn’t help but be moved by this beautiful story and movie while also hearing the “explosions and gun fire” from the next door movie theater! That seemed to be very symbolic of life itself.

The upshot of the movie, without giving anything away, is about prayer. The main characters in the movie have cleaned out a closet in their home and turned it over into a prayer closet! They go into this closet to pray, thus the title “war room” to write down prayers and post them on the wall. It is a wonderful reminder of the power of prayer in our lives and how prayer can change lives.

There is a lovely verse about prayer from the Old Testament 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” We are called by the name of Christ (Christians, meaning “little Christ”), we do humble ourselves thinking of others before ourselves, and we pray. God does not care about the words you use to pray or when or how you do it. Turning from our wicked ways is to stop what we know needs stopped in our thoughts, words, and deeds. We have now the forgiveness we need which comes from Jesus. It is ours always and forever as a free gift of grace. The “land” that is healed today I would say is our hearts! Our hearts are healed when we pray.

You do not necessarily have to have a prayer closet or a specific place you pray although many do that. Some like the constancy of a certain space, but God hears our prayers always no matter where we are, how we pray, or the words we use. And that’s a beautiful thing for us today in the midst of the challenges of life and the press and stress of daily living. Either develop a “war room” in your home or take your “war room” with you as you go! And take some time this week to see a movie that will really touch your heart….as only God can do!

Peace,

Join me in prayer for pilgrims to come and make weekends, for all of us to have boldness to ask people to come make a weekend, because it was so good for us! We just can’t keep it to ourselves….

Peace,

Pastor Doug Givan

Staff Chaplain

Clay, Brazil

Seton, Indy

dgivan@stvincent.org

 

No magic, just Jesus!

I have always wanted to be a magician! I received a magic game set when I was in my teens and used to do some magic for my brothers and friends. I never developed any tricks of my own, they always came in the box! I’m sure if you are like me, you watch magic tricks or shows enjoying the performance with this nagging need to know how it gets done! I love the “behind the scenes” stuff and magic is fascinating! I have seen TV programs were the most popular magic acts are featured and then they show you how it is done. Many professional magicians not happy about that! Behind the scenes….how do these magic acts get done?

I know there are many trap doors, tricks, and gimmicks on some of the acts. Others are done with a slight of hand or others cause you to focus attention on one hand while the other slips in to a pocket or something. Now, the live bunny coming out of the hat I’m not sure about. I was at a restaurant recently where they had a magician going from table to table. It was interesting and I’vet learned in my old age to enjoy the tricks and not worry with how they are done.

Over the weekend I came across a show on TV hosted by Penn and Teller, very famous magicians. They have invited amateur magicians to come on a show and perform magic for them. If the person can “fool” Penn and Teller they win a spot to be the opening act for the Vegas show. It’s just incredible the magic that can be done while you are watching….flames light, cards get torn up with something written on them, only to reappear elsewhere, items disappear and reappear. Yesterday a magician had someone pick a page out of a phone book. The magician then tore up the phone book, threw all the pages in the air, and with his sword picked out the correct page! It was pretty neat to watch. Have you, like me, been in situations where you would like to disappear? Would magic have been helpful somewhere along the way?

Some think that Jesus rising from the dead was magic. If it was magic that raised Jesus from the dead, there is no way we would have the church we have today or the millions and millions of believers who follow the ways of Christ. It was not magic that raised Jesus from the dead…it was God! There were no trap doors, no secrets, no games being played here. It was real, it happened, and there is nothing secretive in the behind the scenes action. There was a song years ago that had a line I remember “Arise, my love, arise my love, the grave no longer has a hold on you..” The tomb is opened, Jesus is alive, and the “magic” is that we get to believe, we get to share this with others and we get to live it out in our lives. The tomb wasn’t opened so Jesus could get out, the tomb was opened so we could go in. Look around, “He is not here, He has risen!”, see the grave clothes on the floor? (Matthew 28:6) It’s not just at Easter, it is for today! Buried in problems, financial issues, family or marital magic needed?? Listen to God: Arise, my love, arise my love, the grave (of troubles/problems) no longer has a hold of you. Rise up to this new day, new week, new month and live anew. No magic, just Jesus! No tricks, but God’s unconditional love for you and me.

Pr. Doug

Have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend….I hope you get some time to rest and enjoy the magic around you…..

 

Doug Givan

Staff Chaplain

St. Vincent Clay (Brazil)

St. Vincent Seton Specialty (Indianapolis)

 

dgivan@stvincent.org (email)

 

What’s your mission statement?

Trinity Mission has two thrift stores in Crawfordsville and Lafayette. They sell donated items to raise money for programming to help men restore their lives. It’s in their mission statement to share the loving grace of Jesus with men who have been on drugs, alcohol or been in prison. They want to transform lives and I’m happy to be a part of it. I donated at the back door Saturday and went in the front door to purchase (doesn’t seem to make sense to me)!

You know mission statements have been around forever it seems like. Companies work together at retreats or board rooms to come up with a “mission statement” about their company. I am not talking about a “vision statement” because that is altogether different. Most every company has one and if you Google the company name you will find their mission statement. It will try to sum up what the company is all about and what is their driving purpose in business.

It just occurred to me that we can also have a mission statement. Do you have a life philosophy or statement that drives your life? You probably do you may or may not know it. The way to get to it, in my opinion, is to traverse the 18 inches from head to heart! The mission/plan/purpose God has for you will be what “lights” up your heart, what you are passionate about, and what drives you. We are way too analytical stuck in our heads when God works through and with the heart! Follow your heart, as they say, and you will be in touch with God’s will in your life. Last week I had dinner with an Aunt and cousin. The aunt had volunteered in the community for over 30 years after raising her kids. She said simply “I just try to give back!” That was her mission…to give back. You and I may have different ones, but if you think about it most of them circle back to sharing the love of God with one another.

In our personal mission statements as we serve and are active in our church or community group we are sharing God’s love. When you volunteer you are helping others, when you donate (and purchase!) you are helping others, when you give of your time you are serving and helping others.

Jesus was very clear about this saying “I did not come to be served, but to serve..” (Matthew 20:28).

Do you have a personal mission statement? Why not start today? Do you know your local Secretariat mission statement? Here is the National Lutheran Secretariat mission statement: By grace, with the Holy Spirit, we challenge leaders to discover and achieve their personal calling, assisting them to influence their environments with the Gospel.

As we enter another week of serving and loving the Lord let us serve and help one another. It’s the best way to show the love of God and that’s a great mission for us.

God Bless,

Pr. Doug

*Any clergy reading this are invited to the Facebook page, VDC SD’s so that we may dialogue on issues, ideas, etc. I understand you have to go to the group and request to be allowed in??  I will then gracefully, happily, “click” you in. Join us??

 

Thoughts from the National Gathering

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

It is my joy, honor, and privilege to write sharing some thoughts of our recent National VdC Gathering, thanking you for the opportunity to lead, and reminding you of a couple of things regarding this ministry. All that while not being too preachy!
Our National VdC Gathering was a joy! The seven worship services were wonderful and uplifting in oh so many ways! The palpable presence of God’s in each one. Kristy Nabhan-Warren, our keynote speaker, grounded us in history and provided encouragement for the journey. The Forums were structured for discussion on aspects of our ministry: weekend, 4th Day, Secretariat, and “What are you going to do” with what you heard. The  conversation and sharing surrounding all this was glorious. While there were many encouraging “high points” for me, the most heart warming was: “next year I am going to make sure I bring someone else to this Gathering because I learned so much!” Next year we “Gather” at Lourdes University in Sylvania, OH, July 21 – 24.
After dinner on Saturday of the Gathering, we said “good bye” to Tedd Smith, your VP for Outreach for the last two years! His love for the Lord and 4th Day Movement ministries is so deep. Please pray for him in the coming months as he works through some physical challenges. He knows God is the ultimate healer – please pray for wisdom (doing the right things at the right time) and God’s presence in all he and his wife Billie experience. We also said good bye to Alice Allison, in abstentia. Alice was not able to be with us since her doctor advised her not to travel. In conversations since, she is doing well and “returning to ‘normal’! With that said, please continue to pray for her. Finally, I was thanked for my service with a gracious gift. Please know it was my joy to lead this ministry over the last four years. I learned so much: about this ministry, about your challenges and opportunities, about how God works in everything we do – the good and especially in what we believe are not so “successful”; and finally, about myself. Thank you from the depths of my being!
I close with some reminders. First, we work in God’s creation, not ours. Relax in the stretching God provides. As when a muscle is stretched, if we tense-up during the stretch, we will end up hurting ourselves. Next, discover and confide in your Aaron. Just as God told Moses, when he felt ill prepared, Aaron’s are important for they often provide insights and encouragement. Finally, I know the key to success: prayer! Without prayer our heart is not right and neither is our definition of success. And the corollary, the key to failure – be all things to all people. If Jesus couldn’t do it, how in the world do we think we can? Be about God’s work in the places and spaces God leads you!
May you each know God’s grace, mercy, peace, and presence!
Ed
PS: Steve Gielda asked me to write this – look for a Musing from him in the not too distant future…probably October!
PPS: If you were not able to attend the Gathering, viadecristo.org home page provides a link to the daily Conexiones that provide a great synopsis of the various Gathering activities.
In Christ –
Ed

Bird Watching

I find great comfort and joy in watching birds. Whether on the telephone wire or scrounging around for food, I love them especially the ones of rich colorful feathers! I’ve recently put in a bird feeder and a bird bath in my yard in eyesight of my easy chair. Last week I finished yard work and refilled the feeder(s) and got fresh water for the bird bath. And within minutes of my getting out of the way they came. I would like very much to get birds of color to my yard but I fear I don’t quite have the set up. I live on a busy intersection in town and neighbors all around. I don’t offer the quietude they seek, as I understand it, so I enjoy the occasional bright red cardinal that comes but mostly have the “regular” looking birds of brown and black combinations. I also just hung a hummingbird feeder in hopes of drawing them as well.

I could hear the birds singing from the nearby trees when I finished recently doing yard work recently: “Oh Doooouuuggg??  Can you please refill the birdfeed for us with rich, exotic and tasty seeds? And then, if it wouldn’t be too much to ask, get out of the way? If you stay nearby you make us nervous.” As I watch them feed I notice two things: there is a hierarchy of who gets to eat first and who has to wait, and they are extremely nervous. I constantly see the birds looking for predators and  getting scared and taking off. They all flutter as a group to the nearby tree as I go out for the newspaper or mail. If something outside spooks them they take off the same way. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a “relaxed” bird just chilling at the feeder, or eating the fallen seeds on the ground.

We are like that, you and me. We are anxious, worried, and while we may not physically look around a lot, we are looking for something. And God knows. And only God can fill the desires of our hearts. God gives us such a great encouragement about this from Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6:25 and following. Just paraphrasing, but God invites us to notice the flowers in the field and the birds of the air and how much God takes care of them. Then, Jesus says, we are of so much more value than the flowers and the birds, we can know that God will take care of us all the more. The Lord invites us not to be anxious or worried about tomorrow, but to live into today because God will take care of us. God will take care of our every need.

Since the Bible is clear, “we have all sinned and fallen short” (Romans 3:23) we will be anxious anyway. In fact, we might read that wonderful passage in Matthew and be anxious because we read it. We do not stop there! In the death and resurrection of Jesus we have hope in the Gospel Good News that we are saved (could we say, made non-anxious?). So with every anxiety that comes, we send it on to God, give thanks and pray and know this pattern is a part of life. As the birds fly to nearby trees for cover and safety, we can “fly” to Jesus for comfort, peace, and a calm for daily living.

Jesus says “I am Living Bread, whoever comes to me will never be hungry, whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6). We just keep flying back and forth…..from the world we know and back to Jesus for comfort, peace and hope. Then back out into the world again to feed others, and let our colors shine!

GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS,

Pr. Doug

Chaplain

St. Vincent Clay (Brazil)

St. Vincent Seton Specialty (Indianapolis)

dgivan@stvincent.org (email)

Where does the time go?

I can’t believe we are in mid-August already! Where does the time go? At one of the Dollar stores I saw that Halloween candy and supplies are out and ready for purchase. A clerk says Christmas merchandise is on the way! It won’t be long and they will have their Valentine’s Day products out I am sure. Labor Day, the official end of summer, is 3 weeks from the time I am writing this and that means fall is on its way. Here in Indiana I love the seasons as they change and can’t wait for cooler air and the trees turning bright colors! I could do without Daylight Savings time, but no one is asking my opinion. It always strikes me as odd that we can grab our clocks and turn them one way or the other to adjust for the lighting outside. I don’t get it.

I think often of what it would be like to turn the clock way, way back! I long for the days of my youth and especially think often and give God thanks for my childhood cul-de-sac where neighbors knew each other and kids could play outside safely. Working in the hospital environment forces me sometimes to push my clock ahead a few years and wonder when I will be admitted, or what illness I will have someday. I like to worry about my health and then not necessarily make any changes.

I keep a calendar but a lot of my upcoming schedule I already know. Appointments, activities, meetings are generally in my head. Maybe that’s why some nights it’s hard to sleep. A new storage facility is opening up in my town and I was thinking I should go and store some things to give me more room . Then I thought maybe I should just take stuff to donate instead. Why hoard at this point? I counted 18 shirts in my closet half of those I don’t like or don’t wear! (Some shrink while hanging there, I don’t know if it’s humidity or what… J). So I feel God nudging me to give stuff away, to kind of “thin out!”

A friend recommended a book for the second half of life from Fr. Richard Rohr called “Falling upward”. It’s about spirituality for the second half of life and he is going to suggest it’s the best time of life, and the time to get close to God. Often we think of growing old as a time of loss, grief, medical issues and health concerns. I think I’d like that….to think more about “falling up” toward the Lord as we live out our days. I know I can’t go back and change the many things I would change. I know I cannot go forward and yet anxiety often pushes me to look into the future of what I cannot see. I think it gives more meaning to the Bible verse “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad…” (Psalm 118:24). Not every day will we feel like rejoicing and being glad, but when we dare to take in what God has planned for us here in this life and in the next we can at least smile! The problems, challenges and difficulties will still come, and God will still hold all time in God’s hands. I think I’ll let it all go….and live for what I have in front of me, no matter how fast it seems to go by.

GLYASDI, PEACE BE WITH YOU ,

Pr. Doug

 

where does the time go?

I can’t believe we are in mid-August already! Where does the time go? At one of the Dollar stores I saw that Halloween candy and supplies are out and ready for purchase. A clerk says Christmas merchandise is on the way! It won’t be long and they will have their Valentine’s Day products out I am sure. Labor Day, the official end of summer, is 3 weeks from the time I am writing this and that means fall is on its way. Here in Indiana I love the seasons as they change and can’t wait for cooler air and the trees turning bright colors! I could do without Daylight Savings time, but no one is asking my opinion. It always strikes me as odd that we can grab our clocks and turn them one way or the other to adjust for the lighting outside. I don’t get it.

I think often of what it would be like to turn the clock way, way back! I long for the days of my youth and especially think often and give God thanks for my childhood cul-de-sac where neighbors knew each other and kids could play outside safely. Working in the hospital environment forces me sometimes to push my clock ahead a few years and wonder when I will be admitted, or what illness I will have someday. I like to worry about my health and then not necessarily make any changes.

I keep a calendar but a lot of my upcoming schedule I already know. Appointments, activities, meetings are generally in my head. Maybe that’s why some nights it’s hard to sleep. A new storage facility is opening up in my town and I was thinking I should go and store some things to give me more room . Then I thought maybe I should just take stuff to donate instead. Why hoard at this point? I counted 18 shirts in my closet half of those I don’t like or don’t wear! (Some shrink while hanging there, I don’t know if it’s humidity or what… J). So I feel God nudging me to give stuff away, to kind of “thin out!”

A friend recommended a book for the second half of life from Fr. Richard Rohr called “Falling upward”. It’s about spirituality for the second half of life and he is going to suggest it’s the best time of life, and the time to get close to God. Often we think of growing old as a time of loss, grief, medical issues and health concerns. I think I’d like that….to think more about “falling up” toward the Lord as we live out our days. I know I can’t go back and change the many things I would change. I know I cannot go forward and yet anxiety often pushes me to look into the future of what I cannot see. I think it gives more meaning to the Bible verse “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad…” (Psalm 118:24). Not every day will we feel like rejoicing and being glad, but when we dare to take in what God has planned for us here in this life and in the next we can at least smile! The problems, challenges and difficulties will still come, and God will still hold all time in God’s hands. I think I’ll let it all go….and live for what I have in front of me, no matter how fast it seems to go by.

GLYASDI, PEACE BE WITH YOU ,

Pr. Doug

 

Misery and pain

I now know misery like I never have before. I know physical pain, bruising, swelling and the joy of pain medication! I know what it’s like to have 3 people in your mouth! I had a tooth pulled Friday after losing a partial bridge Thursday! I get dental work done at the IUPUI dental clinic where senior students work with you (overseen by dentists) and it’s cheaper. So, anyway, there I was Friday afternoon getting a tooth pulled experiencing the above.

After the two students couldn’t jar the tooth loose, they went to get the dentist. This process of the dentist coming in and out, multiple tools being requested from the tray, the sound of that lovely drill (won’t mention the smell) went on for two hours. At one point when they stepped out I was in tears, literally. I was so miserable, in pain, it was hot in the room and the feeling of plastic against my face was all I could take. And none of them noticed.

The dentist said something to me now and then. The third student kept announcing “Pressure, pressure, you’re going to feel pressure.” I just wanted her to feel some “pressure” at one point. They missed my upset, they missed “patient care” in the truest sense. It was another great reminder to notice our patients and family members in our work together. Tears should stop us in our tracks while we listen, care, or just hold the hand.

I take my share of the responsibility for poor dental care leading to these problems. I once saw a bulletin board that said “Ignore your teeth and they will go away.” I can tell you this is true. Please keep up your regular checkups and cleanings so you don’t have to go thru what I went thru. What kept me going that afternoon was a pocket cross I carry that I put in my hand. I kept that cross and turned it in my hand and prayed like a mad man! I felt the comfort of God, and, of course, the ice cream on the way home helped!

We will have pain on this earth: physical, spiritual, and emotional. Count on it happening. Maybe it is right now in your life. Hold closely the Cross of Jesus, who died a horrific death and experienced pain like we will never, ever know. Only to rise again three days later defeating death. All for you, all of that for me. We are so richly blessed. As we meet others along the path of life in varying degrees of pain, reach out and be a comfort. Hold a hand, listen without a lot of words, and bring comfort. That’s what God does for us, it’s the least we can do for each other and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ!

Let us pray for full fall weekends, many team members and many pilgrim/candidates! We love you Lord and all God’s people said “Amen!”

Pastor Doug Givan
Staff Chaplain
Clay, Brazil
Seton, Indy
dgivan@stvincent.org
“Through the cross, you are flawless….” Song lyric by Mercy Me

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!)