A Lovely Wedding Ceremony

It was a lovely wedding ceremony centered in a lovely converted dining room in a historic building located in an old historic town.  I didn’t know the couple very well, I was asked to perform the service through a friend.  Family and friends gathered, the room was decorated and everything was ready.  I asked the couple to take a relationship survey and they scored extremely high.  They were meant for each other, and very happy to be getting married.  During the ceremony as they exchanged vows the bride wept so deeply touched and so very happy.  Then they did a “sand ceremony” where each of them took a container of colorful sand and poured them together into a third container.  It’s a beautiful symbol of two becoming one and a lasting memory of their ceremony.
I focused on a verse “God is love” found in the back of our Bibles in First John, chapter 4.  In the love this couple has for each other, God resides.  God loves us each and everyone and it does not matter what we have done or not done, said or not said. I often say in wedding homily’s that the great joy of relationships is that sorrow and problems are cut in half, and the good times, the joys are doubled!  It’s important to have someone in our lives who can be that “sorrow carrier” and “joy doubler” for us!  I hope and I pray that is the case for you today, that you have someone like this in your life.And I pray even more that you are this for someone else!  Isn’t that why we have reunion groups?  Isn’t this why we provide contact information for the team after the weekend?  Let’s share a little “4th day” love with someone today!!!

And whether or not you have someone like that, God is like that for all of us.  In fact, God is the great “sorrow eraser” and the “joy giver” in all things!  Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew 11:28 “Come to me all you who are heavily burdened and I will give you rest.”  And in the Gospel of John Jesus said “I came that you might have my joy, not as the world gives, but as I give!”  We have been joined together with Jesus through His life, death, and resurrection and now our hope, love, joy and peace remain in us forever.  Feeling distant in your relationship to God?  Check and see who moved!!  And then, the very Good News of God, is that we are always allowed to come back. God’s Riches At Christs Expense (GRACE)! To be “re-married” again to the God of love in Jesus, who is with us always to the end, no matter what. To carry burdens and bring joy, and why can’t we be that for someone else today??


Pastor Doug Givan
St. Vincent’s Hospital Clay

All Saints Day

All Saints Day will be celebrated in many churches Sunday. Falling on the first Sunday in November, it is a day to recognize all the saints that have gone before us. Many churches will light candles in honor of the members of the church who have died in the past year and remember them and their families in prayer.

In our Lutheran tradition we understand ourselves to be both “saint and sinner” at the same time. A simple belief system, really, we are all sinners as the Bible says:  “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:23. But at the same time we are sinners we are also saints….saved by God’s grace and love for all people. Because of the work of Jesus, and not ourselves, we are saints who now are charged with doing the work of Christ out in the world.  We are now the hands, feet, eyes, and ears of Jesus listening for the cries of those who are without. We look for places where we can help out. We walk to where we are needed and our hands reach out to show care to another.

You can research all you want on-line and find a great deal written about saints from how you become one, the new movie out called “St. Vincent” to the New Orleans Saints! What it means to me is to care about others.  It is just that simple, to care for others. What does that mean for us in the VDC to “care” for one another? I am tempted to list 3 or 4 things like finding our “alumni” those who attended awhile back and we haven’t heard from or seen them on a team.  Maybe we can find ways to more effectively recruit pastors and lay folks to attend our weekend or people to serve.

Yes those are all great ideas…..but maybe we should just pray.  On this All Saints Day week let us pray as the saints God has called us to be, pushing back against the sin before us.

Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful….

Let us pray,

Pr. Doug Givan

Spiritual Director, NLS

The Voice

She doesn’t like me, I’m convinced.  I try to do what she says and follow instructions, but I seem to always mess up.  It could be at the very beginning of our time together or at the very end.  I am not that quick to do what she wants even though I try.  I work it out to make it easy for both of us but she has this uncanny ability to know.  She always seems to need to ask for help which slows me down and makes me mad.  And then other people watch me and shift their stance as they wait.  I’ve seen others work with her flawlessly, so now I’m to the point where I just ask for the help in advance.

I’m talking about the woman (OK, it’s just a voice, but still) at the automated checkout lines!  Every time, every time I go through the attendant has to be notified.  Larger grocery items I put directly in the cart, but if I don’t push the button that says that she rings the attendant.  And, in fact, when I do put the item directly in the cart and push the button in time, the attendant still gets notified.  What I hear most often in the automated checkout lines?   “Attendant has been notified!”  And the voice seems to get angrier the more errors I make!  We move rather quickly from “Welcome valued customer” to the notification “Attendant has been notified”.  Then she comes over to reset the thing. What I hear is “Attendant has been notified” and I think the voice is really saying, “You’re an idiot, please use another line!”
I can’t start over without the attendant’s help.  Whatever the error they have to come over and reset or reset via the machine she has that connects the automated checkout lines.  it happens every time…..so, friends, we enter another week of our lives it’s mid-October already!  The weather is changing, leaves are turning colors, fall break just concluded in my neck of the woods and Christmas is some 68 days away!

Have you made some errors along the way?  Don’t worry, “God has been notified” and has reset your life for you in the Good News of Jesus life, death, and resurrection!  The past is erased and you can continue on doing the best you can.  We hold one another in prayer and I ask that we especially pray for Seton, Lafayette associates as the countdown to closing continues.  From one of our readings today at church “Rejoice, again I say rejoice, the Lord is near.  Let your gentleness be known to everyone, do not worry, but instead by prayer and supplication let all your requests be known to God.  And the peace of God that passes all understanding will be yours.”  (Philippians 4:4-9).


A Carrot, An Egg and A Coffee Bean

I had a wonderful weekend attending Men’s #72 Indiana-Kentucky Via De Cristo!  Whenever you pull aside from life and take time away to renew your faith, fellowship with others, eat too much, and worship it is good for the soul!  So while tired today it is “well with my soul.”  In talks and in fellowship time I learned again of the pain we all go through in life.

One man talked of his son committing suicide, one lost a marriage, another guy has current family issues, another would like to go into ministry but there is a long way to go before he could get there, serious health issues affect another.  I could go on but you get the point.  Life is hard but it becomes less so when shared with others and in prayer.  I think that’s what we do in the Via De Cristo, we as a team take on the pain and struggles of those attending and we serve them “washing their feet”.  They experience Jesus first hand and the load is lightened, if not forever in many cases I’ve witnessed, for the weekend.

Right now I am re-reading for the umpteenth time  the “At Home in Mitford” series by Jan Karon.  I highly, highly recommend them by the way.  In the book I’m reading now the town mayor is running for re-election.  Her slogan is “Mitford takes care of its own!” and I think that’s a great idea!  Our slogan “The Via De Cristo takes care of its own” and we do that with palanca (spell check wants to replace this word with “parlance”?), hugs, meals prepared, drinks poured, and the care and compassion of having three days with Jesus!  Through our VDC we see Jesus and through Jesus we learn again that God always takes care of His own!!!


Pr. Doug

NLS Spiritual Director



A Carrot, An Egg and A Coffee Bean

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee.

The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked. “What’s the point, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity–boiling water–but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?

Don’t tell GOD how big your storm is. Tell the storm how big your GOD is!


Good Morning Everyone!

Are you stressed today?  Feeling overwhelmed, anxious and worried?  It’s okay to feel these things stress follows us all around.  We’ve all read about the “flight or fight” syndrome our bodies and minds go through when stress comes.  According to www.dictionary.com the word is defined as “a specific response by the body to a stimulus”, or “physical, mental, emotional strain or tension.”  A quick Google search with the word “Stress” yields over 38 million results!  We are stressed sometimes everywhere we look!

At the end of this week I am headed to a spiritual retreat weekend and will bask in the joy of Jesus and I am stressed.  I have a lot to do before I go and certain things I don’t want to forget, so I’ve started a list.  I’m praying and then I look at the list.  It seems odd to me to be stressed out before a spiritual retreat but I believe it’s normal.  We all react differently to different situations and therein lies the key to dealing with stress.  It is in our reaction and the way we see things.  Then on the way home I see a woman sunbather out in front of her home (on highway 39) I thought was odd on a late September day.  Then I thought “what do I do to relax?”  So we went to the movies and I enjoyed “The Equalizer” with Denzel Washington (Not for everybody, pretty graphic).  Movies are my own “time out” and a way to relax.

What do you do to take care of yourself?  How do you relax?  Can you relax?  That’s the deeper question.  And I’m very sure that most if not all of our stress we put on ourselves.  We mentally make the worse situations come real, we beat ourselves up, we put pressure on ourselves and push over and over.  Consistently in my ministry with patients I am offering “permission” to not be where they think they should be or to be doing what they think they should be doing!!  I ask that they be a “patient” patient and rest so that they can mentally and physically help their recovery.  And for you, also, I give you permission to be stressed and just “owning” it deeply reduces it!  What can you let go of?  What can you give away to God?  And maybe the question is why do we heap so much on ourselves?

In Ezekiel 18:32 God encourages Ezekiel by saying “Turn, then, and live”.  Ez is kind of stressed in this chapter and God does what God does best…offering a second chance.  Let’s turn from our stress and live today!  There is much to do-NOT to add to our to do list, NOT to add pressure or stress-these things we “GET” to do we don’t have to do:  time in prayer, helping someone less fortunate, loving one another, donating to help a worthy cause, serving our patients, showing compassion.  And what can we do to help alleviate the stress of someone else?  If we take on some of the stress of someone else we are lightening their load-not adding to ours, subtracting theirs.  To God be the glory, we have an any-time retreat available with the Lord every time and anytime we get stressed!  I went to a pastor’s conference once and on the stage of this auditorium was this huge banner up that said “RELAX, YOU’RE NOT IN CHARGE!”

God bless,

Pr. Doug


Feeling my Age

Hi Friends:

I am not ashamed of my age, I’m 54! I will, however and take note, be 55 soon and very soon!!! (I am very pleased to remind you I “act” much, much younger of course!). Late last week I was at a local retail store and the cashier (who looked like she was 10 or 11) said “I gave you the discount” as she rang up my purchase. “Oh”, I said ever so pleased, “what discount is that?” And the little girl said “It’s our senior citizen discount for people 55 and over”. I just didn’t say anything else and thanked her and figured I am close enough to 55 I’ll take any discount I can get.

Go from this to my mailbox. The AARP folks are after me. You know, they wouldn’t need my donation if they stopped sending me all this junk mail!! I get something from them every other day at least, and I’m being totally serious! Unbelievable…..now they offer some good discounts when you belong….nothing wrong with the organization, it’s just way to much marketing for me. So I’m feeling my age today…..add to that it’s the Autumnal Equinox day today at 10:30 tonight we officially begin Autumn!

I love that season, it’s just the time to mark another change, another calendar change and life moves on at a rapid pace! No matter your age today, physically, emotionally, spiritually we have Good News! Our God is with us and loves us unconditionally, and age/time do not effect our God! In the Bible a verse says “A thousand years in your sight are like a day just gone by…” (Psalm 90:4). Enjoy your age today, you and I will never be this young again!! We don’t need to worry about the rest of our life and it is not up to us to answer all our questions about life…the who, what, where, when and how stuff is God’s. Let go today, friend, and enjoy this day! Tomorrow is all ready for us because God is there, and yesterday is forgiven and forgotten. Above all else, be yourself, you are God’s gift to the world!

Yesterday I was speaking with an “alumni” of our local INKY VDC. He said he hadn’t served in several years mainly because he didn’t know any of the guys anymore he said. He is older, retired and as we talked about VDC I could tell he was “done” with it. He said “Do you think it’s run it’s course?” And I said “No, God in Christ is still calling, still blessing, and still instilling the desire to grow as His disciples!” VDC HAS NOT RUN IT’S COURSE, OF COURSE!!! Burnt out alumni will always be there…..I don’t think I’ve seen him at Ultreya’s and he said he was not in any kind of reunion group. It encourages me to encourage you to reach out in your community! I hope and pray the local and national newsletters reach all our people. If you know of an address or email address change for yourself or another VDC person then let your local Secretariat know! And be aware, look around, pray, and a) always recruit people to come, and b) recruit alumni to come back attend a renewal weekend ( in INKY we offer a spot for a person to go through their weekend again), go to Ultreya, find a reunion group and to get involved.

Our God in Christ continues to guide, and bless our movement literally around the world! Keep on keeping on in your world, no matter your age!!! thank you for all you do to serve the Lord in our VDC!

Grace and Peace,
Pr. Doug
NLS Spiritual Director

On being “welcomed”

Good Day Brothers and Sisters in Christ! Decolores!

Messiah Lutheran Church, Brownsburg, Indiana celebrated 50 years of ministry yesterday. I served there from 2000-2005 and was one of several pastors who returned to a worship service and a luncheon. It was neat to be back and see so many old friends and dear people. As is often the case, a Sunday morning hymn lyric will stick with me all day. Yesterday it was a hymn called “All our welcome” and is a beautiful hymn about welcoming all who come to worship.

Isn’t it wonderful to be “welcomed” when you go somewhere?? Sort of like the Wal-Mart greeters? We have all been somewhere probably where we did not feel welcomed and it’s uncomfortable. We have signs in some of our homes that say “Welcome” and we have “welcome mats” and welcome celebrations. I’m not sure why we say “You’re welcome” after we get a thank you but I digress. According to dictionary.com the word “welcome” means “greeting”. Just greeting one another is all we need to do to welcome them and make someone comfortable.

When I see someone coming down the hall who I don’t recognize I will usually ask them if they need help or directions and I always greet them and introduce myself. You know sometimes this hospital environment is not very welcoming. When we ask a pilgrim to attend a weekend we are giving them the ultimate welcome from Christ. In fact, isn’t that what we do all weekend long? We make them feel “welcomed” and we greet them with handshakes, hugs, palanca, great worship, food and fellowship. Let’s be welcoming and invite someone to attend.

A line or two from the hymn along with the refrain:

“Let us build a house where hands will reach beyond the wood and stone;
To heal and strengthen, serve and teach and live the Word
Here the outcast and the stranger bear the image of God’s face;
Let us bring an end to fear and danger

All our welcome, all our welcome, all our welcome in this place”

We need not look any further than our brother Jesus who welcomed all who came to Him. Nobody turned away. No one “rescheduled”, it was Jesus spreading His arms out on the Cross to die for us and rise again for the ultimate, life giving, eternal welcome. Let’s share that today!

Pr. Doug Givan

Patience is a virtue

Brothers and Sisters in Christ-this is a weekly devotional thought I sent out to the hospital where I work as chaplain.

I went shopping for a battery this weekend.  Pretty boring, huh?  My grass trimmer do-hickey won’t last more than 3 minutes or so and my brother has offered me one of his batteries as a replacement.  But he lives 90 minutes from me and I don’t want to wait so I go out on my own.  I go to the local hardware store and the battery is $40 and I’m mad.  I’m not spending that on a battery when if I’m patient I’ll get one in the next couple weeks.  Meanwhile, I want to find it cheaper and my trimming is overdue in the yard!!

I go to two large “box stores” in my town and each have a battery like I need, but alas, they also are $40!  So we have in my town a little “Thrifty store” that looks like a cross between plumbing, building supplies and farm implements.  I’m not sure who they are trying to draw in but they only have an electric trimmer for $29 which I could do.  As I look at the electric trimmer I remember I’ll need a longer extension cord than what I currently have.  And of course, the 100 foot extension cord is around $10….sigh…I’m up to near $40 again and this time I’ll have to drag around a cord.  All I could picture was me out by the curb 100 feet and 5 inches from the house and not being able to reach the edge and waving to the cars that go by thinking “Look at that guy!”

So another great analogy to the spiritual life isn’t it?  We want what we want and we want it NOW!  Patience anyone?  Do you know the prayer for patience?  “Lord, give me patience and give it to me now!”  I talk about this with almost all the patients I visit….I ask them if they are a “patient patient” and it’s so hard.  Be patient my friend, all good things come to those who wait.  In my life how this works is to remind myself constantly to slow down.  I feel an internal “push” to get to the next thing, do the next job, move to the next moment” and I lose any kind of present moment happiness sometimes.

The Lord models this for us.  Just imagine all the people that begged for His time and attention…..but also notice how often Jesus went up the mountain, or away somewhere, to pray (Matthew 14:23 for example).  When is the last time you just stopped and prayed?  Or stopped to give thanks to God and name 4-5 blessings?  Have you ever visited the chapel for a little quiet time, or to download?? Try it today and be patient first with yourself and then with others and thank God that life is beyond our control!  All we have to do is follow….and wait!  That’s what I’m doing about my battery, I’ll be seeing my brother this weekend and the grass can wait!

Pr. Doug Givan




Musing from the President for February 2014

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

I just finished an interesting read: not a fan by Kyle Idleman.  Kyle is a teaching pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY.  The book differentiates fans and followers with the subtitle: Becoming a completely committed follower of Jesus.  I don’t I agree with everything he writes; however, several times during my reading I wondered: “Am I really a follower?”  If Jesus asked me to go and do, as he asked Peter to go prepare the room for the Passover, would I drop everything and “get-er done!”?  Or, would I respond selfishly saying: “Well, I would sure like to help – but – I am not sure I know how!  And, you know I only have a couple of hours open on my calendar in the next couple of weeks!”  An honest, periodic assessment of our relationship with God is a good thing.  The purpose of the weekends we so diligently prepare for are for time away to nurture the relationship of fellow Christians with the God that loves them and desires a deeper relationship with them.

There are so many things happening in our lives these days.  I know in the depths of my being that the God we serve, the creator of all that is seen and unseen, loves us more than we can imagine or ever know.  We all know life is fragile.  Think about the impact of the last perturbation to your schedule and what it did to your life!  Even with a longstanding, deep relationship with God, we are distracted – becoming selfish because after all, it is really all about us!

I don’t know the “trouble you’ve seen, or are currently experiencing.”  I do know that God, in and through Jesus, came to the created, to demonstrate love.  God hasn’t left us alone.  God: Holy Spirit is with us and those that love God are close by to encourage us in our struggles.  Recently, I had the privilege, and honor, to witness a small group of God’s people work to encourage one another in a very difficult situation.  The details are not important.  What is important is they came together in God’s love to nurture and encourage one another to build up the body of Christ.  The task wasn’t easy – it was down right difficult.  However, they put aside their personal agendas with the goal of building up the body of Christ for God’s glory.

May the work of this ministry continue in and through each of us as we pray: “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love….”

God bless you as you deepen your relationship with God and one another.

In Christ –


Nusings from the president – November 2013

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

I am amazed that it will soon be Thanksgiving.  I am not really sure where summer went and autumn, well that too is fading into the shadows.  However, I enjoy Thanksgiving.  It was and continues to be a time for family gatherings – a time to just be thankful.  Right now, I would ask you, the reader, to take a moment, maybe four or five minutes, and just “be.”  Be thankful.  Thankful you are where you are.  Not concerned about where you should be – or – could be – or – would like to be.  There is no question, no matter where you are things could be better – and – things could be worse.  Having a thankful heart is difficult, especially when we look at our surroundings and wish.

Please don’t get me started on what I wish for because there are many things I wish were different.  However, there is one thing that I am really thankful for: the ministry God has reminded us we have – being Christ to the people we encounter.  The smile on our face is genuine.  God: Holy Spirit has energized the spirit in our being.  Our actions and lives are not perfect but we are forgiven.  The most exciting thing for me in all of this is somehow, someway God always manages to take my efforts no matter how poorly thought out and make them all work together for good.

As we prepare for this upcoming holiday, I commend Romans 8 to your reading.  I am once again reminded it is all about the journey.  It is being Christ to one another and those around us.  We were energized by our weekend experience to serve God because before the beginning of time, God loved us.  We go into our daily lives knowing God is with us to encourage us and others.

Give thanks with a grateful heart – now and forever!

In Christ –