The “Great Commandment”

Self-loathing. It’s a term that I recently heard that describes how we feel about ourselves. If my 20 years of experience in ministry tells me anything at all, I know that at one time or another we have all done some self-loathing. We generally don’t like ourselves very well, the bar of self-expectation is very high. Most of the time, we loathe (hate) our outer appearances be it hair, weight, or something else about our looks. It can also come from something that happened to us in the past that makes us feel that way about ourselves.

I had a friend once who hated her shoulders. I know of some who wish for a different hair color (or just to have some hair!), size, or weight. I don’t know what it is, but it seems to me that self-loathing, or self-hatred is very easy to do. It could be a “voice” from our past like a critical parent who always made us feel less than. It can come from many sources and/or many people in our lives and I have wrestled with this demon myself throughout my life. I especially see this in regard to the spiritual life. No one I’ve met prays, reads their Bible, or worships like they think they should. The guilt and shame are very high. The bottom line is that we have a choice on how we are going to look at ourselves, and self-loathing should be the last thing we do or think about.

In several places in the Holy Bible we have what is called the “Great Commandment”. We are “commanded” by God this way : “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind and with all your strength. Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF.” (Mark 12:30, caps mine).
We are commanded my friends to love ourselves, love our neighbor and love God fully. That God given commandment takes precedence over anything we say or feel about ourselves. Love yourself. Lower the bar of expectation with grace over law.

It will take forgiveness and it will take a shift in the way we look at ourselves. If God loves me despite all that I think is wrong with me, maybe I should change and begin to be easier on myself and to really, really love myself. We all are so, so hard on ourselves. What would it mean to be “easy” on ourselves? Try it, you will like it! It will not always be easy, but we can do it. I’m the only one I have! I cannot change (much) about ourselves so I will begin to look through the eyes of love remembering Jesus died on the cross so that all our “self-loathing” and sin could be taken down to die with the Lord, only to rise again clean and fresh and new. Every day, every moment “die” to that self-loathing, and rise to self-love. Seems to me I should think of myself as God does and that lightens up the heaviest burden.

Pr. Doug (email)

“I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something hopeful.”

-Bob Hope

“May the Lord continually bless us with Heaven’s blessings as well as with human joys..” Ps. 128:5


Directionally Challenged?

Good Day Friends!

I have a poor sense of direction and I admit it! I get lost pretty easily and don’t quite have the hang of how best to use my phone, etc. This problem of being “directionally challenged” reared its ugly head when I went Saturday to perform a wedding. This particular city near me (Lafayette, Indiana) also has several state highways coming through town plus interstate I-65 and Purdue’s campus. Like a lot of larger cities the names change as you drive down the street and go from a “numbered” street like St. Rd 52 to a “named” street like Sagamore Pkwy. I just always get lost.

Saturday I had a wedding to perform in Lafayette at the American Legion. I looked it up on Google maps where it showed just one American Legion in town. I arrived and stepped into the entry and I quickly find out there are more than one American Legion posts! I am at the wrong one. It is now near 2 p.m. (wedding at 3 p.m.) which is when I told the bride I’d like to meet with the bridal party before the service! I head out with new set of directions and a growing panic. Then I relax a bit remembering they can’t get married until I get there!! I start out to look for River Rd. which, if you go south, is also St. Rd. 231, and/or stay north and it’s St. Rd 43.

I pull up at a gas station to get directions. Back in the day, the gas station attendants knew the area and could be a great source of directions. Not so today as the clerk inside the store had no idea. Outside I see a guy pull up and I ask him, and he has no idea where this second American Legion could be.  So with growing fear and anxiety I pull aside and get my phone to call the bride. All of a sudden the same guy I had spoken with comes to my window. He is holding his cell and has looked up the directions for me! He gave me the directions from his phone and I got to where I needed to be in plenty of time. (Figuring out my phone and A & T navigation is for another time).

At the hospitals where I work I always ask people if they need help or directions. I’ve overheard people asking at gas stations and I offer to help. There is something kind of neat when we help someone get to where they want to go. I believe the same thing goes for us in the spiritual life. We lose our place sometimes and need to get redirected. If that describes you today simply ask God for directions and you will feel great peace. God knows the way, and walks with us along this great path of life. When we get lost, or fall off the path, God may even send a stranger to get you back on track! Ultimately, God has given us Jesus to direct our ways and to lead the way. I love the image of Jesus in front of us leading the way, beside us to encourage us, and behind us to catch us when we fall. Jesus himself, when trying to direct the lost disciples after Easter, says “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6).





Pr. Doug


Pastor Doug Givan


St. Vincent Clay (Brazil)

St. Vincent Seton Specialty (Indianapolis) (email)

“I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something hopeful.”

-Bob Hope

“May the Lord continually bless us with Heaven’s blessings as well as with human joys..” Ps. 128:5


Happy Father’s Day

he came up to me after church to chat. This is his custom whenever I sub at his congregation. I served on team when he made his weekend several years ago and we have even served on teams together over the years. I have always admired his son making his weekend and what that might have been like for this father and son. He doesn’t reunion with anyone, he doesn’t really fellowship with anybody at church, and I know he has not been on a team in a few years. As the topic turned to Via de Cristo he said “Via de Cristo? Hasn’t that about run its course?” I ask you the same question:  “Have we run our course?”

There are many, many of our leaders who are burned out and burned up. The 80/20 rule is alive and well and that is that 80% of the ministry is done by 20% of the people. The complaints are loud and numerous about not getting the candidates/pilgrims, inability to fill teams, and financially not being able to afford to come to the National Gathering. The politics of this issue or that issue, or this part of the denomination “playing” with the other part. I’m kind of tired of it, really. The Via de Cristo did not begin “out of the blue”, it began because of Christ drawing people to Himself, and providing a weekend mechanism to do that.

We are a tired culture. We don’t rest, we are busier than ever, and life is stressful. And then a weekend comes around and God stirs the hearts and souls of a few saints and a team gets formed and pilgrims are invited and we are off and running. This is our Father’s World, and on this Father’s Day week we remember God is alive and well and God will spur us on to continue our beloved movement! We may need to die to some old ways of being and rise up to some that are new. We may be battered and torn some, bruised in some areas, but still alive, still breathing, still hoping. My favorite hymn sums it up:

“This Is My Father’s World,” ELW 824
This is my Father’s world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world;
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world;
the birds their carols raise;
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world;
he shines in all that’s fair.
In the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world;
oh, let me not forget
that, though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world;
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is king, let heaven ring;
God reigns, let earth be glad!

Happy Father’s Day!

Pastor Doug Givan


St. Vincent Clay (Brazil)

St. Vincent Seton Specialty (Indianapolis) (email)

“I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something hopeful.

-Bob Hope

“May the Lord continually bless us with Heaven’s blessings as well as with human joys..” Ps. 128:5


Consider sending a note

Brothers and sisters in Christ:

I came into work today and there was a note attached to my keyboard that said “Blessings to you, Doug” and was a surprise! I love receiving notes/cards and I think you do also. In our overly electronic world we have lost the fine art of sending a hand written note or card to one another. Years ago I attended a workshop where it was suggested that we mail a card to someone we appreciate. Ever since that class I have loved sending cards, and I especially love to send cards for no occasion! I have to admit I don’t do it as often as I did when I was a Pastor of a local congregation but I still love to do it.

PALANCA is not just for the pilgrims on weekends, it is designed to uplift and encourage anyone. And when you send a card you are also encouraged. Prayerfully think about your Secretariat members or reunion group and send a card to whomever God brings to mind! You will not believe how the Spirit will work in this!

At the conference over the weekend one vender sold greeting cards she had made and decorated herself. They are beautiful and I bought a couple packages of her cards. She has a “funny” set of humorous cards with messages like:

“I was addicted to the Hokey Pokey, but then I turned myself around.”

“How beautiful it is to do nothing and then rest afterwards.”

“Lord, help me to be the person my dog thinks I am.”

“Laughter is the shortest route from adulthood to childhood.”

And the more inspirational:

“The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything.” –Julian of Norwich

Consider sending a note to someone this week just to tell them thanks or to appreciate them. You will be uplifted and they will as well. Let’s not forget God has sent us the greatest love letter ever in the Bible and it is for us that the Scripture can inspire and encourage. “All Scripture is from God and ….is useful for equipping all for good works.” (2 Tim. 3:16).


 Pastor Doug Givan

Staff Chaplain

Seton, Indy

“God’s glorious grace says: Throw guilt and anxiety overboard-draw the anchor-trim the sails-man the rudder-a strong gale of My Spirit is coming!”   -Charles Swindoll