Summer is Here

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Summer is here and this means it’s time for our Annual Gathering.  This is a great time for those who are able to attend this blessed event.  It’s an opportunity to fellowship with old friends (I know….careful), learn new things to help keep your secretariat strong, and of course worship together as brothers and sisters in Christ!

If you haven’t attended, please consider coming next year!  If you are coming to join in the fun this year, I can’t wait to see you!

We have an exciting agenda put together for you and the Host Team from Great News has been working hard to provide an over-the-top experience for us all!

God loves you and so do I,

Your brothers in Christ,

Steve Gielda

National Lutheran Secretariat – President

The Power is On

I was off and at home the other day when the power suddenly went out. It is a very uncomfortable feeling, I think, as the house shuts down and everything goes off. To go from some TV “noise”, lights on and the air conditioning to nothing is very unusual. Initially a helpless kind of feeling, and a quick review of my account to be sure I had not forgotten to pay! (That wasn’t the issue!). In this case, it was a city wide outage and homes and businesses were all effected. Thankfully they got the power back up and running an hour later! That hour though turned out to be interesting. When you don’t have power other things get done!

I took a good book and went out and sat on my porch for a little while. I haven’t done that in a long time, I took care of a few chores that had been waiting, and there was a sense of peace about things. My neighbor stays home with her 5 year old so I went over to make sure they were okay. You begin to wonder how long it will go because of food in the refrigerator and freezer. It gave some comfort to see power trucks go by knowing they were working on this and would the power restored quickly.

It came back on and there seemed like life again in the house! Clocks buzzed and whirled and needed reset. The TV came on, the lights and it felt safe and comfortable again! Can we make the comparison with the spiritual life? If you are like me, you probably have times when the spiritual “power” God gives in Christ seems to be “off.” And you wonder when it might come back on. Meanwhile, we plug along doing the routine of life.

Suddenly a spark ignites in us! The song comes true that has the refrain “somebody’s praying you through!” and you feel uplifted. I get that from church, I get that from my prayer time or time in  God’s Word. I get this recharge from community and being in relationship! And to know someone, somewhere is praying for me! And as I pray and reach out to encourage others, my own power in Christ gets restored! Be uplifted today, friend, the God who loves has defeated darkness now and forever!!


Pr. Doug

There will be a lot of energy and “power” at the NLS National Gathering! Still time to get on board, join us! Visit

Lessons from the road

Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I drive for a living, sort of. I average 2 hours a day, I’m not complaining, it’s part of my life based on where I live and where I work! In fact, I have driven “for work” all my professional life. I went to college at Indiana University (one hour from Indianapolis where I lived) and remember the drives back and forth to Bloomington with my college roommate buddy. My first job was as a Regional Consultant based out of Atlanta where I traveled the country by air and by highway. I then moved to outside sales for a giftware company. In those days, pre-computer, I lugged around my samples and sold store to store.

I traveled the state of Indiana for that job, selling gifts, stuffed animals, and the now-famous troll dolls!! I was promoted to a Regional Sales Manager and began to travel a two state area between Indiana and Kentucky. I eventually lived in Kentucky for a few years and still commuted back to Indiana.

I moved to  new home construction sales and had long drives to the subdivisions where I was placed. Years later as I began my ministry career attending Trinity Lutheran Seminary located in Columbus, Ohio where for three years I had a weekly 6 hour round trip drive!

11 years later after living locally near the church’s I pastored, I began the Crawfordsville (where I live) to Indianapolis/Brazil commute. I’ve learned a lot about life from behind the wheel:

*guys in older model pick-up trucks always have their left elbows out the window…

*I chuckle when I see the prison signs followed by the inevitable “don’t pick up hitchhikers” sign….

*dogs love to hang their head out the window, cats not so much…

*no matter how “clean” the rest area looks, it always feels dirty to me….

*billboards are now mostly electronic, flashing multiples messages at us. I love the one I saw once “Ignore your teeth, they’ll go away!”

*motorcyclists on highways seem to be taking a risk with their lives…

*there is usually an abandoned car on the side of the road somewhere..…

And for more than 30 years I haven’t had any major accidents or problems in bad weather during all this commuting. And I appreciate knowing now, that no matter where we go, how we get there, or what happens Emmanuel (God with us) (Matthew 1:23) is always there! Be blessed this week, drive safely, and enjoy life, God has the wheel!!!

Come travel to northern Ohio and join your VdC family for the Annual Gathering! It’s never too late, come and be with us!


Pr. Doug


Evil is a choice. — Spiritual Director thought for the week

I came home after church yesterday and just wanted to relax a bit before taking on the afternoon chores, yard work, etc. I turned on the national news and learned of the incredible devastation in Orlando at the Pulse nightclub. Lest we doubt that evil is alive and well, this is proof evil is. This is a very hard concept for people to understand, including myself.

Evil is a choice. We have been granted free will and we have choices we can make and we do that every day. We can choose our attitude, our personality to some degree, we choose what we say and how we act. This week especially talk with those close to you about these events. Talking helps us process. Guard how much of the news you watch/read because you can easily become overwhelmed.

In times of high stress like this it is important to stay on your normal routine, to rest, to pray to God and rest in God’s loving embrace. That is the same Embrace being given to Orlando today and those affected. This is the same Embrace that holds us close when we are scared, and cannot make sense out of life. But we must move forward.

Give blood, donate, pray, and reach out in any way that you can. Hug your family, tell them you love them, and continue to live. After all, the opposite of “evil” is “live”. Please talk with your Pastor or Spiritual Director if you feel “stuck” or need help processing this event.

Peace be with our country, leaders, and those responding to this crisis and the families and loved ones,

Pastor Doug


Happy Father’s Day ! Remember, Dad, our job is to follow Paul’s advice in Thessalonians 5:11 “Let us encourage one another”. Encourage your children and grandchildren no matter their age!!


A Little Privacy Please

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

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

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

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


Pastor Doug



Road Rage

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

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

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

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


  1. DOUG



Memorial Day


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

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

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

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

Peace be with you, blessed Memorial Day week,

Pastor Doug


Pr. Doug Givan, MDiv

Board Certified Staff Chaplain

St. Vincent Health, Clay/Indpls

“New York Minute”

Have you ever heard the term “in a New York minute?” I heard it from a colleague over lunch this weekend as he referenced how quickly he would do something. I’ve heard the term before but have never given it much thought. I mean I generally understand things go “faster” in New York and I know the city itself never sleeps, etc.

So a visit to Wikipedia sheds light on this term “a New York minute.” It has been used for years and there are stories, a short film, and even a song by that title. But the upshot of the definition of the term is “the time between when a light turns green and the driver behind you honks!” That’s a New York minute… seems like in New York cars honk at each other much easier than my experience here in Indiana. If you honk at someone here, or get honked at, it seems to be taken personal. People get mad and fly the international sign of disapproval!

Since I commute, I’d say I use my horn a couple times a week. Usually I honk at the driver ahead who has pulled out in front of me, or taken their time to make a very wide and sloppy turn. In Crawfordsville, where I live, we have a very popular stop light that does not have a left turn arrow and for the driver to turn left they have to block the left hand lane altogether. And what makes me mad is that just a block ahead is a light with the arrow to turn left that would make it so much easier for everyone.

What is our hurry in life? Speaking from my own experience, I find myself often “rushing” to slow down. A consistent mantra I say often to myself is to slow down. Saturday I visited a person in a nursing home and near the parking lot they have a lovely little pond occupied by a geese family: mother, father and 4 goslings! I loved stopping to watch the baby geese fall in line with mother out on the water, while the Dad geese (goose?) stayed near the edge watching me. It was a God-given “Doug minute!” I gave myself some minutes to slow down and notice the beauty around me.

We all rush, we all put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to rush and hurry and the reality is we have all the time in the world. I thank God that God always has time for us and is never in a hurry. God will always listen, always available and sometimes God speaks to us in the middle of the night because that’s when God can finally get us to slow down and listen.

So consider how fast you are going. Try saying to yourself over and over today “slow down, God has this” or something similar. Take your time, we only have so many minutes in our lives to live! I think this week I’ll honk less and give the driver ahead of me some space. I’m never in the hurry I think I am. Take time for some “______” (insert your name) minutes to slow down and enjoy! Trust me, it’s more enjoyable to listen to the geese honk than the car behind me!

Peace be with you!

Pr. Doug,

NLS Spiritual Director

*P.S. I would, however, appreciate your registering for National Gathering in Ohio this July…..wait for it…..”in a New York Minute!” Visit the web site at


Remembering your original weekend.

I want to go back and visit Epworth Forest camp in North Webster, Indiana. It’s the camp where I made my weekend, and where I have served a number of teams. The memories are countless, the images still very moving, the experience the most incredible in my life. I hope you can also remember your original weekend, and the sight, sounds, and smells of the Spirit of our Lord.

A favorite memory is the chapel where we held worship, and the times I’ve kneeled at the Altar rail. The great food in the dining room surrounded by a warm fire and the fellowship of many. The view of the lake and having Sunday morning worship lake side all great memories. I remember commandeering the golf cart and chasing the geese only to get in “trouble” by the Rector…

On the Friday morning of my weekend I asked one of the Pastor’s to come and pray with me. The two of us, in the chapel, birds chirping, the smell of wine and candle wax from the just-held worship service, and prayer. Tears, pain, struggle all left at the feet of Jesus. A part of our Fourth day our Service Sheets invite us to have an Altar visit from time to time. Some evening after a meeting or service go back into your sanctuary and go the altar area. Just pause. Just quiet your mind. Listen to God.

The Altar visit always alters our way of thinking and it happens every time we partake in Holy Communion and/or prayer.  As you reflect back on your weekend with me there is something hard we must do. We have to let that wonderful, inspiring memory go. We have to thank God for all the experiences, for all the prayers, for all the memories, and then go and make new ones.

Plan to come in July to our National Gathering in northern Ohio and make new memories. Come and participate in “new” worship, prayer, and visiting the altar. Come, the table is being prepared and all our invited and welcomed!

May our God of the Day of Pentecost (this Sunday) move us to make new memories, new friends, and to serve in new ways in our local and national Via de Cristo. I’ll leave the golf cart alone if you’ll come with me to the altar…..


Pr. Doug Givan

NLS Spiritual Director

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 8th! We’ve been honoring Mom’s officially as the second Sunday in May since 1914. I think May is a wonderful time of year as the weather turns, and the flowers bloom we honor our mothers. My own mom passed in 2014 and for the last two years this holiday has made me realize what a gift I had in a loving, caring mother. I know that’s not the case for some.

I try not to feel guilty over time lost in her later years, especially the last year of her life. As she became ill and it was hard for her to get around I would always find her by the aviary of the nursing home where she lived. She loved to watch the birds and would rock on a rocking chair and partially sleep some of the day away. In her last year or so of living, whenever I greeted her with “I love you” she would say back to me “I loved you first!” I treasure those words still today!

It’s true, our mothers loved us first, but before that our God loved. Our God knew us and loved us “before we were created in our mother’s womb” (Jeremiah 1:5). And that love of God exists still today. All that we are- mind, body, soul was created, known and loved by God before we were born. Mother’s Day is the second Sunday of the month of May, not the second Tuesday, or Thursday. Why is that?

When we gather for worship we honor the God we love. Can’t we say that God’s love is like a mother’s love? Unconditional, unending, and unyielding, it is a life-giving love and the two can be celebrated together. And so now we get to love God back, because each day we are alive we celebrate as “God’s day!”

God bless all mom’s everywhere,

Pr. Doug
NLS Spiritual Director