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Do I Even Matter: The Struggle for Mom’s

It’s Mother’s Day Sunday! Was your mother sometimes a Dr. Jekyll – and other times a Mr. Hyde? My mom used to give me the evil Mr. Hyde eye in church. That’s when I knew a spanking was coming.

Nancy Ortberg has a great talk entitled, "The Jekyll and Hyde of Motherhood." Here is part of it, enjoy!

When I became a mother, I found a Jekyll inside of me. For the first time there was a person in my life whom I loved more than I loved myself. I was doing unselfish things because I wanted to. I was becoming a patient and kind, calm, reasonable, generous, thoughtful, loving person. I thought, this is a good thing, this person who is emerging. I loved being a mom.

But then there is another person who comes out sometimes when I am a mom, a person I don't know, and I want to say, "Who is she? How can I make her go away?" At one time I had a three-year-old, a two-year-old, and an infant. I awoke to the fussy baby. He clung to me like a baby monkey hangs onto its mother and would not let me put him down.

While Johnny was clinging to me, my toddler was unwinding the toilet paper and making designs in every room of the house. She also took all of the books off the shelves and started tearing pages out of them. While this was going on, my three-year-old was begging me to play Candyland. I hate Candyland. There was a mound of dirty laundry threatening to suffocate me. There was no food in the house, and I had to go to the grocery store.

At the grocery store, I had a baby clinging to me, a toddler in the grocery cart, my other one running up and down the aisles; and the grocery cart was so full I had to kick the pad of diapers down the aisle. In the toilet paper section, I fought to hold back the tears as I thought, what am I doing with my life? Look at me.

Back at home, I unloaded the groceries, fixing lunch while the ice cream melted. Then I took the kids to the park before rest time. A park with three children is not fun. I kept counting, one two three. I came with three; I've got to leave with three. By the time I got home I hated myself. I hated my children. I put them in their rooms and shut the doors. Of course, none of them slept. And I went into the garage, and I cried. I just thought I was going to lose my mind.

I felt like I was becoming an impatient, frazzled, rude, angry, frustrated mom; and I was splitting into two people. Not all moms are like that. I know moms who are patient and kind toward their children almost all of the time. I admire them. I don't like them, but I admire them. That is not me.

But just when you think you've got God figured out, he goes outside the lines; he meets you in a hundred different ways. And he does something amazing by telling you that he loves you even with that Hyde creature living inside of you. God is interested in redeeming that creature and changing it. If you're honest, you can say that Hyde lives in you. I know Hyde lives in me. But the good news is that Jekyll lives there, too. And I celebrate that person who is like God.

Hope to see you Sunday!

Dan

What are you worth?

According to thoughco.com, the elements in our body are worth about a buck. Our skin, if tanned and sold as leather, would be worth another $3.50, so we could round it up to 5 bucks - if we had a lot of skin.

However, let’s say we aren’t worried about legalities here. If we sold our body parts on the black market, Wired magazine says we could be worth up to $45 million. That’s way better than my life insurance. Don’t tell JoLynn.

But God says we are worth more.

Much more.

He says we are worth the sacrifice of His Son.

Inconceivable. Incomprehensible.

And true.

As soon as we believe, God gives us a new life, brings us into his presence, makes us a new home and prepares for us a new name.

We may not understand it, and we may fight to get the truth past our heads into our hearts. But, truth isn’t reality as we see it. Truth is reality as God sees it. What are you really worth?

See you Sunday.

2 bannerThe Struggle for Approval

How much of your life have you wasted trying to gain the approval of others? Wasting part of your life is one thing—wasting part of your 30th anniversary is another.  I wrote about it in an article to Christianity Today.  It messed up an important event - but hey, I got published.

Here is part of the article:

Bad Timing

It should have been a grand time. My wife JoLynn and I were on an Alaskan cruise for our 30th anniversary. I learned a grand lesson, but I didn’t have a grand time learning it.

There were 1200 people on the cruise, 400+ who chose this cruise to hear mega-church pastor/author Max Lucado speak. He had sold over 80 million books. I’ve sold 10k. Why is it when I meet "big name" people I make an idiot out of myself?

Before the cruise I was hoping – praying for a chance to meet Max. I’d love to write more. So some counsel, a bit of help, an endorsement was in my dreams. I got close.

After white water rafting in Juneau, we had some time left to blow money in town. I bought a hat. We then headed to a chocolate shop where I ordered a month’s worth of dark chocolate to last us through the afternoon. When I turned around, there was my wife, JoLynn, talking to Max and his wife as if they had known each other for decades. JoLynn is from Texas. Texans can do that. But there was a problem.

I’m not Texan.

I stood by stupidly with water dripping off my new made-in-China "ALASKA!" cap listening to the conversation. My mind was a 1970s Timex watch trying to run Windows 10. My screen was blue - my cursor frozen. JoLynn had this "Don’t-destroy-the-moment" look in her eyes. I did.

All I could think about was what I needed. What I wanted. I wanted him to like me, to ask about me, to be able to tell my story. So I broke into a story about our son.

"We have this boy Caleb," I blurted out, "he is 16, our youngest. All of our kids, we have four of them you see, well all four and the husband of our oldest, that makes five, well we were all plus JoLynn and I, that makes seven I guess, well we were sitting around the table one night and .. . Ugh." AWKWARD.

Not knowing what to say next I stammered around for a bit, smiled too big, tried to make small talk, felt like an idiot, saw the confused shocked look on JoLynn’s face, tried again, did worse, felt worse, smiled bigger, dug in deeper, and pretty much died in mid-sentence. I’d give more details, but pathetic reliving is painful.

JoLynn dove back in, elegantly asked about how they were doing on the cruise, and said we needed to go. I said nothing.

We walked for a long time. JoLynn broke the silence talking about something else. I said to myself, "Self," I said, "maybe it didn’t go as bad as I’d imagined." It was 24 hours before she told me it did.

"So, why do you think you get so intimidated by certain people?" JoLynn asked.

"What do you mean?"

"You know, like yesterday…"

I had really, really hoped she hadn’t noticed. More than that, I had prayed it wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined. She noticed. It was.

"It’s just me. I’m just that way. Sorry." I thought she would get off my case, that it wasn’t something I could do anything about. I was wrong on both accounts.

She told me to "Lean into it." And to "Figure out why you’re that way." Ugh. It still amazes me how well I married, and yet how I still hate it when she is right.

Whispers

The next day I got up early to be alone and pray. I’m an extremely non-charismatic kind of guy. When people say "God told me…" it makes me nervous. I want to ask, "Was His voice high or low? Does He still speak in Hebrew?"

But at this point I knew I needed to hear something specific from God. I threw my narrow view of how God had to work overboard, and asked God to speak to me. Then I read and prayed and prayed and read and mostly listened. Silence. Thinking I couldn’t change, and that God wouldn’t speak, I wasn’t too concerned. I should have been.

Through a combination of His Word and my silence, I believe the Spirit spoke to me. One word kept coming back to me over and over again.

Others

I would have preferred a paragraph. Job got three chapters. But there I go again, Job Envy.

Others. I couldn’t let it go. It took about 24 hours before I was convinced God was speaking to me, and I understood what He was trying to say. The two great commandments – love God and love others. Loving God? I can do that. But Others? Wanting to impress others isn’t loving them. It’s loving self.

The reason JoLynn could talk to the Lucado’s and I couldn’t – was because she cared about them. She was asking them about their kids and grandkids, about their anniversary (they have the same 30th anniversary date as we do). I tried to talk about me. She understood the cruise wasn’t a vacation for them – it couldn’t be when you are speaking twice a day, signing books over lunch and having to listen to weird ALASKA-cap-wearing pastors in the chocolate shop.

I wondered about my motivation for ministry. Why did I want our church to grow? Why did I want to see people come to Christ – for their freedom or so I could have a baptism service? Why did I want to write – to help others or to say I’d published? Sometimes the truth you need to hear to deal with your depression is depressing.

A few days later the cruise was about over and Max was signing books. JoLynn wanted to go. I didn’t embarrass her this time, and Max was gracious enough to pretend the chocolate shop never happened. Sometimes being invisible is the best you can hope for. Max even did the obligatory picture with us, which we now have plastered on our church website with the subtitle, When Out of the Pulpit, Max Lucado Worships HERE. Marketing Genius.

Am I wrong, or is Max grimacing?

Below is a response to that CT article. It felt good to know I’m not the only one who struggles for approval. This Sunday we will look at this problem, and God’s answer. Hope you can join us.

Subject: Hello from a pastor in IA

Hi Dan, 

I've never written to an author of an article before, but I just wanted to let you know I read your article in the Leadership Journal and it really struck a chord with me. I'm 26 and 1 year into my first head pastorate.

Your story about meeting Max sounds exactly like what would happen with my wife and I were I to be in the same situation. Last week our church had some "cool" visitors (for the 2nd week in a row!) that I really wanted to impress. I was so scared, I didn't even talk to them in the meet and greet time. 

By God's grace, I got up there, and after praying, "Lord, help me to just speak the truth, it's not about me, it's about you" and delivered what God wanted me to.

I struggle with joy in ministry because I'm so worried about what others think of ME, not concerned about others for God's sake.

This is me in a nutshell... I guess, reading your article has helped me to look my motivations in the eye. I really want to change this, but I'm guessing it's going to be a loooong road.

I just wanted to tell you thanks for being honest, and letting God use you.

struggle to measure up banner5 Ways to Tell if You Struggle to Measure Up

Did you know I once fell 50 feet while pounding in a piton on a previously unclimbed ice pitch while rescuing my CO while training for the Rangers in the Grand Tetons? That may be a bit of a stretch. Actually, a friend fell maybe 30 feet while on my belay at Enchanted Rock in the mostly flat state of Texas. But, I’d rather tell the first story.

I want to measure up, to be liked—admired even. However, that can make lying easy, and living expensive. It seems we all have this innate belief that we have to meet certain standards to measure up. "If people believed I climbed in the Tetons they would think more of me and then I would be happy and successful." Right.

You might struggle to measure up if you. . .

Exaggerate about your rock climbing, or your back scratcher collection, or dalek impersonation or whatever else it is you weirdly want people to be proud of.

Spend more on others for Christmas than you can afford, and spend all year paying interest on VISA. But if that is you, I’m good to exchange gifts with you this year if you want.

Lie about why you are late. Sure the traffic on Paseo slowed you down for 5 minutes, but why are you giving that as the reason you were 20-minutes late?

Buy the flashy car with the horse on the front (Ferrari not Pinto) to look like someone you aren’t. I’ve been told Tom Selleck would have been cool without it (Magnum, P.I. for those too young to know), and I would just be broke with it. But what does JoLynn know?

Use cologne by the case. You might think it will help get the girl, but trust me, it won’t.

God gives us the answer to the struggle to measure up. It’s a fancy word called, "Justification." He tells us that our worth isn’t based on what we do, but on what He has done, and continues to do for us. Once we realize this, we can start telling the truth, spending less, and may even smell better.

Hope to see you Sunday!

 

Wake Up! 5 ways to help this Easter

 

Have you ever been driving along and suddenly wondered where your brain has been for the last 15 minutes? Somehow you’re still on the road, shaken but OK. 

 

When I was a courier we called this entering “The Bogel Zone,” named after a street in Dallas. The Bogel Zone is an odd mental state where life is unconsciously flying by, and you are clueless. Maybe that isn’t so odd after all.

 

The Bogel Zone is responsible for 100,000 police-reported crashes every year. But, you can enter it without driving. It’s probably safer that way.

 

On that first Easter morning, it seems like everybody but Jesus was in The Bogel Zone. It’s almost like he returned undercover.

 

Mary Magdalene, the first to see Jesus, was so out of it she thought he was the gardener. The two disciples going to Emmaus spent most of their 2-hour walk explaining Jesus to Jesus. That makes me feel good, knowing Jesus went out of his way to meet with two clueless disciples going the wrong direction. 

 

That means he probably cares about us too. 

 

Easter is a great time to wake up and get out of the Bogel Zone. Ephesians 5:14 Is a great promise for Mary, the two disciples and us. “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” 

 

5 ways to help this Easter

 

  1. Ask God to show you who to invite to church. A neighbor? Coworker? Friend? You can use the card you were given at church last week.

  2. Fill out the connectionCARD in your bulletin - so visitors will see you do it & feel comfortable doing it too.

  3. Think Others First. Greet everyone around you. Park far away. Take the worst seats. Leave some snacks for those who come late.

  4. Remember – Services are at 8 & 10, w/snacks in-between, and nursery and toddler care at the 10:00 service only.

  5. Pray that those who hear the gospel will commit their lives to Christ.

 

Chart provided by LifeWay Research