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

Let’s focus on the first word of this greeting as an encouragement in our walk with God and our work in this ministry: Grace. What a marvelous word! Volumes have, and will be, written on the subject. The second talk of a Via de Cristo weekend is titled “Grace” and energizes the process of renewing our relationship with the creator, redeemer, and sanctifier of the universe. As you know what’s awe-inspiring about grace is God freely gives it. I once heard grace described as “God loves you no matter what – deal with it!” Grace and unconditional love is not very common in today’s world. A few questions inside a question for your reflection: “How do you deal with God’s amazing grace? Put it on a pedestal and worship it? Put it in the closet and bring it out only when it “seems” right? Exercise it daily in your dealings with others created in the image of God? Possibly something else?”

God’s grace and love for us, and all creation, is boundless. I suppose that discovery, coupled with the understanding that as believers in Jesus (God: Son), God: Holy Spirit is always with us, is what propels us, energizes us to do what we do in our daily lives and in this ministry. If you heard me say this before, it’s worth repeating: When you come face-to-face with God’s love, you realize that nothing, absolutely nothing you do or say will cause God to love you more. With that, everything is done in response to God’s love rather than to gain God’s love.

I love the priestly blessing recorded in Numbers 6:24. However, I modify the last word to reflect God’s grace and love for us. “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you shalom.” Shalom is more than the absence of worry and conflict – it is the certain knowledge that God is with us: loving, guiding, comforting, and keeping us, now and forever.

In Christ –


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



God has no “favorites”

Ok, time to confess. I’ve been holding back, haven’t talked about it, but it’s time. Sometimes you can keep secrets, sometimes you can’t. I love the music of Barry Manilow! Bam! It’s out there, I feel better. I’ve loved his music since the 70’s and just really believe his lyrics to be so, so powerful. Who among us doesn’t have a “Mandy” or a “Mark” (whatever the name might be for a boyfriend you let slip through)? His music can make you dance, laugh, cry and feel real joy. Not many artists, in my humble opinion, can do that and do it over decades! If you Google his name you will get over a million hits and today he is 71 years old and on a tour right now.

At one time in 1978 he had 5 albums circulating in the top ten on the charts. I can say I might be one of the few on staff here who have actually attended a Barry Manilow concert! It was awesome as you can sing along with almost every song. “This one’s for you”, “I made it through the rain”, “Even now” are some of his hits and he has done commercial jingles as well(State Farm, Band-Aids, etc.) He appeared multiple times on American Bandstand and is a multi-award winning artist. And it’s okay if you don’t like his music, or some of you may have no idea who I’m talking about!

We all have favorites! For every musician or group you listen to there may be someone else who doesn’t care for their music. And that’s okay! God has created us all different, with all kinds of musical tastes, and all kinds of hobbies, interests and past times. It’s all good. Over the weekend my family played “Corn Hole”. It’s a ridiculous game of tossing bean bags onto a wooden “platform” that has a hole in it. If you make your beanbag go in the hole or on the platform you get points. My two younger brothers are good at this, I am not. It takes a special “arch” to your beanbag in the way you throw it.

God has no “favorites” liking one person over another. All are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), and all of us are equally loved by God. In and among that love comes the gifts God has given each of us to use in the world of Via de Cristo! Some to be table cha’s, some to be rollista’s, some to sponsor, some to cook, some to clean, some to talk, some to pastor, rector/rectora, BUT ALL TO INVITE!!  C’MON, remember who invited you to your weekend? Invite someone else today and throughout this summer gearing up for fall weekends. You and I are gifted for such a time as this. This is our ministry and it will keep on keeping on “singing” out to all the lost and saying together “Come, Holy Spirit…”.

Oh, I almost forgot. I want to invite YOU to come to the National Gathering this July! Join us in Illinois and check everything about your national organization at! GLYASDI,

Pastor DougS


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

Memorial Day holiday

Every May, the Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway is the highlight for visitors from all around the world. I remember taking time off from work to go to the track, or on weekends to qualifications. I’ve even attended the actual race a couple times. One year my friend had a company suite and that was by far the best way to watch the race! We had tons of food and drink with about 50 seats near the start/finish line. It was incredible. Other memories include what used to be called the “snake pit” and hanging out, enjoying the weather, throwing the Frisbee and relaxing. One year I met and got the autograph of Gene Hackman! And, of course, refreshments and watching the cars practice.

One year a couple buddies and I took a red wagon to carry our “supplies” to our seats in the third turn. We emptied the wagon, tied it to the fence and up we went to our seats. The next year we did the same thing, only there were a dozen other red wagons there also! The race, the experience of sights, sounds and people, is something everyone should experience.

From time to time just driving by the track is pretty incredible and I always wished I’d taken a drive around the track when they allowed that. This week the track and racing become the focus again, especially with the three airborne accidents that have already happened. We pray for a safe race and for the fans to enjoy the Greatest Spectacle in Racing!

The race, in all its glory, is not the reason for Memorial Day weekend obviously. The 500 race, just like family reunions, having a three-day weekend, picnics and travel are not the reason for the holiday either. While all those things are nice and important, it is even more so that we take time out to remember those who have gone before us. Especially all the men and women who died serving our country. In the national news this week another Marine died in a helicopter crash. Those serving our country didn’t just die years ago or wars ago. No, they are still dying even today. We remember and we give thanks, and we hold their families in our prayers. We are also thankful for our loved ones who have gone before us and Via de Cristo brothers and sisters entering their fifth day.

So as you and I rush around this weekend, have a lot of activities or no activities, take time off, go to the race or whatever we do let us remember and give thanks. We hold tightly to the promises of Jesus at the end of the Gospel of Matthew: “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” ( 28: 20). God is with us in Christ, and that helps soften the loss of loved ones,

God bless you this week and for the Memorial Day holiday,

Pr. Doug

NLS Spiritual Director

Pastor Doug Givan

St. Vincent Hospital Clay
St. Vincent Seton Hospital, Indianapolis

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

Springtime in the Rockies

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

One thinks of Easter – one also thinks of spring. Isn’t it grand to know the grass is greening, trees are beginning to bud, some flowers have bloomed while others are showing green sprouts. The essence of spring is predictable but never precisely.

Similar, I think to the God we serve. I opened with: “Grace, peace, mercy, and love from God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit!” Is God’s grace predictable? What about God’s peace? Is God’s mercy predictable? How about God’s love? Since volumes have been and will be written on each of these, I won’t try to answer them precisely. I will, however, make a bold statement – like the changing of seasons, they are more than predictable, they are assured to those who believe and even before their belief. They, however, present themselves in very unpredictable forms.

It is springtime in the Rockies. The grass is really green: moisture and fertilizer assured that outcome! However, if it would only quit precipitating (both rain and snow) so I have a chance to mow before I need to hay and bale it! Some trees are leafing out – some have bud swell – others haven’t even “budged” because of a weird November (there is worry many have died). The crocuses and daffodils have been and gone. Iris are getting ready to present their marvelous colors. Green shoots on rose bushes indicate they too will bloom. Predictable – but – not even precisely for it is in God’s time with each season different offering both excitement and joy.

God’s grace, God’s peace, God’s mercy, and God’s love are predictable to those that believe, even before there is belief – but – never precisely. A friend recently suffered a stoke. Was it predictable – possibly to some in the medical community. However, I don’t believe anyone on this planet could precisely predict the date, time, and circumstances of the “event.” Was God’s grace present – oh, yes! The friend prayed enroute to the hospital, by helicopter, God be with me – if this is it I’m ready to be with you, if it is not then that’s okay too! Did the friend know God’s peace – most assuredly. However, not the peace defined as the absence of difficulties – the peace that presented itself was the certain knowledge God was with him. Was there mercy – oh yes, but not as anyone might have predicted! The friend told staff members attending to him of God’s great love for not just him but for all of them…WOW! Was there love? As I spoke with the friend’s spouse, there was God’s love: love of the medical team, love of neighbors, love of friends, love of Christian brothers and sisters. Oh, my – the love that was present in her eyes as she related many ways God’s love was present.

Predictable, oh probably…precisely, no one could have even come close! God’s grace, peace, mercy, and love…oh, how wonderful! The amazing part of all this is: we are not unintentional bystanders on the stage of life. God gives each of us the privilege of being on the stage in the exact spot where we find ourselves to tell of God’s unbelievable grace, peace, mercy, and love for all of creation.

May God richly bless you this day and forever.

In Christ –


Bucket List

Hi Friends:

I have always wanted to drive a semi-truck! I want to sit up high and feel the power of the huge truck going down the highway. To shift all the gears with country music playing and my CB radio sounds awesome! (I know, I need to get out more). I’m not so interested in living out of the truck, however, as I know some of them have beds and living space behind the cab. Yesterday my brother was telling stories of 25 years of driving a semi for UPS. He drives at night and goes from Indianapolis to Louisville or Chicago and returns. I once asked him to meet me somewhere and let me drive, but he reminded me his company does not allow that! I remember as a kid traveling on vacation and trying to get each semi driver to honk his horn!

I live in Crawfordsville, Indiana where we have 4 State highways that merge in town! State Roads 32, 47, 136, and 231!  In addition, we have 2 exits off I-74 and I’m sure all of that was designed around our town having Nucor steel and RR Donnelly (publishers) and many other factories and companies. We have a lot of semi-truck traffic! I don’t care for semi’s in traffic, they can’t accelerate very well and I always want to go around them. As I come into town from these highways I usually pass them but sometimes there is a line of cars behind the semi and I’m stuck. I often thought if I was the semi driver I’d pull over and let people by but they don’t ever seem to think that way!

So driving a semi goes on my “bucket list” where I also have several other things that are important to me before I die: like holding a grand-baby (daughter Emily is 24 and a few years away I hope!), visiting the M and M factory and adding more color to my diet, traveling to see the sights I haven’t gotten to like Mt. Rushmore, Niagara Falls, and Washington D.C. How is your bucket list coming? Are there things you want to do, see, people to meet and be with before the Lord calls you home??

I’m with people all the time on their death bed, or nearing the end of life and not one have said they wished they’d worked more, or spent time away from the family, or worried about things they couldn’t control. No, most want to finish their own bucket lists and have more life to live. You and I do not know about our future or how much time we have left, we just know Who holds that future and Who holds that time. Jesus encourages us often to be ready and alert to His return: “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”( Matthew 24:42). To me, if I may, what I think Jesus is saying might be: “Live, therefore, live boldly and make each day count. Try, try again, don’t give up. Follow your hearts, use your skills and gifts and passions to meet God’s greatest need around you, love one another and serve me with joy…”




Pastor Doug Givan


St. Vincent Clay (Brazil)

St. Vincent Seton Specialty (Indianapolis) (email)

“We are so preciously loved by God that no created being can ever know how much and how sweetly and tenderly God loves us.”

God loved you first

As my mom’s health has slowly declined early in 2014, it has become my job to escort her to the car after any family event. My dad, on the other hand, mostly prepares to drive away as soon as he can. Because they have 55 years together my mom will just roll her eyes and shrug. My mom is also incontinent so Dad spreads out a couple of trash bags to cover her car seat. I help her in and give her the standard kiss/hug and say “I love you.”  A few months ago she replied to me, “I loved you first” and that was her tag line ever since. It was so awesome to hear that it floored me!

Long story short, she was placed in a nursing home and last week my family was called in for a case conference with their staff. I’ve sat in on many, many case conferences but it sure is different when you are on the other side of the table! This experience with my mom has changed my thoughts and feelings regarding these conferences. I will now feel more deeply for the patient and connect more emotionally with the family.  The person in the bed is not identified by their room number but really by the fact they are a person, and they have a family who loves them deeply. They are with us for only a short time to receive the very best care we can manage.

Once on a tired Sunday afternoon my mom and I were on rocking chairs in front of the bird aviary at the nursing home. Fluttering about were over a dozen different birds of every rich color of the rainbow! They flew in and out of nests, two lovebirds nestled a new baby, and this one ol’ guy full of yellow, and some weight, just sat there and stared at us through the black mask around his eyes! This is my mom’s favorite spot and I find her here often.

She liked to “doze,” where she is kind of sleeping but also communicates with me. I’m used to this because it happens every Sunday when I preach (ha-ha!). So I got out my devotional booklet that I use and read her some Bible passages, reflections and prayers. Whenever I paused she would say, “That’s right” and agree and we kept rocking. She has never attended church nor been a woman of prayer or Scripture as far as I know.  A few visits ago she told me that the nursing home had a Christian musician come sing hymns. She said he took requests so she raised her hand and requested her favorite hymn “Old Rugged Cross.”  I had no idea.

So I told her of God’s love for all of us, of Jesus dying on the cross on Good Friday and rising from the dead at Easter. I told her about grace, forgiveness, and that God is with us no matter what we are going through. Then I said, without really thinking about it, “God loved you first, Mom.”  And she said “That’s right, hmm, hmm that’s right.” And we kept rocking.

My mother passed on to Jesus a year ago and let us all remember God loved our mother’s first!  I send this to you who are Mom’s right now as a reminder that you still have time to tell your kids and grandkids that God loved them first and so do you!!

 Happy Mother’s Day!