Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Insanity

It is often said that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. I have also heard it said, "If we continue to do things the same way we have always done them we will get what we already got."

Each of these point to how we can get in a rut with our lives. We come up against a wall and all we do is bang our head into it over and over rather than look for a new way to get around the wall. The old way worked so good once upon a time. But the old way, although very comfortable, isn't producing any fruit anymore. It is time to do something different to step out of the comfortable into the uncomfortable. Growing is often times uncomfortable. I remember the pains in my legs as a kid as I was growing. Jesus doesn't call us to comfort he calls us to growth.

We are having trouble connecting to God but we don't do anything more or different than we are all ready doing. We wonder why we cant hear God but we are not listening for God. What we are doing has probably got us all that it is going to get us. I think it might be time for us to try a new thing rather than just keep doing over and and over what we have already done. It doesn't make any since to keep banging you head into the same wall. Sing a new song. Get a new routine. Worship in a new way or a different style. Pray more. Worship more. Spend more time with other followers of Jesus. Serve more. Serve in a new way.

Revival is about breaking away from the same routine. It is about doing something different so that God can do new work in us.

Change is an important part of growth. We cannot expect to do the same things and get different results. That is a crazy talk. Yet, in the church we tend to want things to be the same yesterday, today, and always. God is, but we cannot be, our prayer life, our worship life, our service and devotion to God and others must always be growing and changing if we expect to get a new result. Otherwise we just dig a rut that causes us to slip into insanity. We just play church.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, June 28, 2010

Revival

Tonight we are going to begin a time of revival at Dockery Chapel. My good friend from Kenya, Pastor Paul Migowe, is going to be preaching and my friend Ronnie Elliot and his wife will be leading our music as well as our own musicians at Dockery. It is going to be an amazing three days of worship.

So, why are we doing this? Why do a revival? What is a revival? What is all this about?

The short answer: God.

It is not about me. It is not about Pastor Paul or Ronnie and Peggy Elliot or the Dockery Chapel praise team. It is not about any of the people that will be here tonight or any of the three nights. It is all about God.

Revival is about us focusing our lives on him. Revival is about us seeking God. Revival is about us listening to hear God speak to us and responding to God.

Revival doesn't happen in a church building it happens in a human heart when we open our hearts to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower us to live a new life for Jesus.

If revival is going to happen it begins inside each of us. I often hear people say, "let's pray for revival in the church or in our country." Well, revival begins in our hearts. As an individual is ignited and revived by the Spirit of God revival takes place. Revival of a church or a community happens one human heart at a time.

Tonight we will have worship that will invite us all to open our hearts and lives to God.

The question for all of is "Will the revival begin?"

Let it begin in me Lord.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thank God It's Friday!

Thank you God! Thank you for always working in my life thank you for those moments that I actually understand and see your fingerprints on my life and the activity around me.

God is always working. Always. I am so grateful for those moments that I actually begin to see that God is and has been working all along. There are times that we don't notice. There are times that we feel like God is not working. But, I am confident of this, God is always working in my life even when I don't notice or feel that he is. Days, months, even years later I can look back and see where God is at work. In those precious, fortunate moments I can see and feel God's fingerprints.

I am thankful that God is at work and I can trust that he is always working in all situations for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes. (see Romans 8:28)

I don't know what you are going through but I do know that God is working in it. Be sure to look for the good that God is doing and give God thanks for his fingerprint on your life.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pretending

I have always been pretty big on not pretending. After all this blog is titled "I refuse to play church." That is a statement about not pretending. I don't want to pretend to be the church. I don't want to pretend to follow Jesus. I want to follow Jesus.

I don't want to pretend that I am someone or something that I am not. I want to be real about my struggles, my faults and my need for Jesus. I want to be real about my love of Jesus and make Jesus' love real for others. I don't want to pretend to love Jesus and my neighbor. I want to love with the heart of Jesus. I don't want to pretend.

When we pretend the only person we fool is ourselves. No one else is really fooled. God is certainly not fooled and neither are we really. This morning, I had a thought go through my head. This is the thought that God has given me this morning in regards to being real about our lives, our love and our relationship with Jesus. "God does not pretend to love you."

"God does not pretend to love you."

God's love for you/me is real. God doesn't love you/me with an ulterior motive. He doesn't love you because he benefits from it. God never pretends to love us. God is love. God doesn't pretend to love us and neither should we pretend to love him.

Love today.

Look for those that need to be loved and love them.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Connect the Dots

When I was a kid I liked to do those connect the dot puzzles. The ones where you draw a line from one dot to the next, in numerical order, until finally you have connected all the dots and you have drawn a picture.

Discerning God is a lot like those connect the dot pictures at times. We keep following God where he is leading us. We get a "dot" here and a "dot" there. We can't see the picture but we move from dot to dot. Something or someone gives us a dot, a sense of what God desires and what God is doing and someone or something else gives us another assurance that God is at work. God reveals to us a piece of what he is doing through prayer and it is another dot. We move from dot to dot putting the dots together and the picture starts to become more clear.

Just like the connect the dot puzzle as we connect more dots we get a better idea of what the final picture is. We begin to see more clearly what is coming as we connect the dots. The challenge, I think, is to not focus on the dot. The challenge for us is to see that the dot is only part of a bigger picture. We have to wait on the Lord and follow him to the next dot. We have to do the work of connecting the dots and putting them together so we can more fully understand what God is asking of us.

I just love it when the picture starts to become clear. I love it when I begin to see what God is doing. What is the picture that God is making in your life. Are you looking for the next dot? Are you looking for the first dot? God does have a plan for all of us. We need to seek it and discern it. We need to connect the dots.

I am confident of this. It is a beautiful picture.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

WOW- Our God is an Awesome God

I have to tell you this story although, I am really at a loss for words when I try to talk about it. It has to do with God bringing Paul and I together to do ministry and the connection that God is making between Dockery Chapel Church and Overcoming Broken Hearts Ministries in Kenya, Africa.

I have been praying for two years for God to give me a clear understanding of the vision that He has for Dockery Chapel and how to articulate it in a clear and concise way. This prayer resulted in the vision statement of Dockery Chapel that is, "Living the Love of Jesus, Connecting the unconnected, Growing in Relationship with Christ." Some time back I shared with the people of Dockery through a message series what this vision means for us and how it describes who we are, what we are doing, and where we are going. We also have developed a strategy and six practices that are necessary for us to live the vision that Jesus has for us. I tell you this because I am trying to get to the amazing thing that God has done. Sorry it is taking me so long. Anyway, I created a document that encapsulated the mission, purpose, vision and strategy of Dockery Chapel that I had been praying about for over two years. When I was making this document I was not happy with the front page. I felt like it wasn't right . It was missing something. I decided that I needed to put a picture on the front. I needed a graphic and went searching graphics for the perfect picture. I was wanting something that when I saw it spoke to me about the love of Jesus in a real and tangible way. I was looking for a picture that visualized "Living the love of Jesus". I searched and searched and could not find anything, so eventually I just drew one.

I drew this picture for the front of our vision brochure that describes who we are at Dockery Chapel.

Paul shared with me a document that he had that explained the mission and vision of his ministry in Kenya. God had given him this vision and they started the ministry four years ago . Two year ago had a logo designed for Overcoming Broken Hearts International Ministry and that logo was on the top of the page of the document that he gave me. When he showed me the document the first time I noticed the logo and mention how I liked the logo. This was on Sunday after church. I read through the information that was on the paper and set it aside to look out in greater detail later. Yesterday morning I looked it over again. It is amazing how the vision of both of these churches seem to match up. Last night we had some friends over visiting with Paul and as we were talking I looked down at the table where the paperwork that Paul shared with me was and also the document about our vision that I shared with Paul. The images of both documents were side by side and I was just overwhelmed by a sense of God's awesomeness.
This is the logo for the ministry in Kenya.


Are these two ministries meant to partner with each other? If God would only give us a sign then we would know. All I know is that our vision brochure was not complete until I had the perfect image. I couldn't find the right one so I had to draw it myself. I needed a heart with a cross coming out of the middle of it.

What is it that Bill Engvall says? Oh, ya, "Here's your sign!"

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Paul and I are talking face to face

If you follow this blog from time to time you might have read about a connection that God has made between me and a friend in Kenya, Africa. (You can read about it by clicking this text) We have been talking with each other for several months through emails and short telephone calls. All the while we have prayed for one another, our families and our churches. If you have followed this story you might know that my friend Paul is a pastor to people with disabilities and that he himself is in a wheelchair as a result of polio when he was a child. For as long as I have known Paul he has said that he believed that God would make a way for us to meet face to face and talk about how we can work together for the Lord and partner in ministry.

Well, in Christ all things are possible!


Paul is here with us. He is staying in the boys bedroom. He worshiped with us on Sunday in his new power chair that was provided for him by God through the people of Dockery. Paul is going to be leading us in a revival and bringing God's word to us as we meet face to face. He will be staying here at Dockery until July 7th and minister with us a to us throughout this time. The revival will begin this Sunday 9:30 AM and then Monday -Wednesday evening at 7:00 PM. If you get a chance to come and hear my friend I know you will be touched and blessed but his heart for Jesus. If you cant make it to the revival just stop by the house, the office, or stop us on the streets and say hi.

Our God is an awesome God who makes the seemingly impossible possible!

Love today.

In Christ Love and mine,
Doug

Friday, June 18, 2010

Dad's Day is Coming

Dad,
I am so blessed to have you as my Dad. You have protected me, provided for me, taught me, disciplined me and above all you have loved me. Thank you for always being there for me. Thank you for teaching me how to be a man. Thank you for the life lessons and for the correction. Thank you for being there in the celebrations of life and for being with me in the low places. Thank you for believing in me even when I didn't believe in myself. Thank you for inspiring me, encouraging me and comforting me. Thank you for never, ever, giving up on me. Thank you for doing for me what I could not do for myself. Thank you for always loving me. I pray all of this in the name of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Say thanks to your dad. TGIF.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mountain, Get out of My Way

The scriptures tell us that it takes just a little bit of faith to move mountains. If we will just trust God enough to know that he is God and we are not. If we have enough faith to trust that God can do what we can not. If we will just trust God with faith as small as a mustard seed, we can say to mountains get out of our way-- move over there.

What is your mountain today? What are you up against? What seems to big for you to handle? What is it that you are stressing over? What are you worrying about?

Trust God. Trust that God is real. Trust that God can do what God does. Trust that God hears you. Loves you. Trust. Focus the little faith that you have in you on your God. Introduce your mountain to your God. Your God is bigger than your mountain. He will make a way for you where there seems to be no way. Say to your mountain, "mountain, get out of my way!"

God is with you. His grace is enough.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Prayer

Good Morning God!
Today is your day. Today is about you not about me. Help me to give up the control of my day and give control to you. You are in control not me. Help me to have self-control and to not try to control others. Help me to trust in who you are and that you know better than I what is best for me and what I need. When I find myself worrying or stressing gently correct me and turn my thoughts toward you. Humble me when I put my trust more in me and what I can do than in you and what you can do. Love through me today. Care for others through me today. Encourage and inspire others through me today. I surrender who I am and what I do to you today. I am letting go of the controls and giving them to you. Lead me. Search me. Shape me. Mold me. Use me. Let your will be done not mine. I love you.
In Christ's name I pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dreams

What do you think about dreams? The ones that you have when you are sleeping. Sometimes dreams can be just crazy. Yet, sometimes they can seems so very, very real. In the Bible we can read about several occasion where God spoke to his followers through dreams.

The other night I dreamed that I finally had a conversation with the person who owns the property where I think God is calling us to open "The Dock." The Dock is the name that I have put on the ministry that God has laid on my heart and the people of Dockery Chapel. The Dock would be another site for Dockery Chapel to do ministries like feeding the hungry and serving the poor in our community. It is a place for us to live the love of Jesus and connect the unconnected. It is palace for people to come together and connect to God and others. A place for kids and young people to connect to people who love and care for them through after school programs and other ministries. It is a meeting place for all God's people to connect to God and others as they journey along the waters of live. A place for all people to connect to the source of live. It is a place to find some stable ground, a secure connection, and protection form the waves of life.

In my dream there were children, young, people and adults running around and filling the place. Everyone happy and smiling. Everyone so excited about the possibility of what God could do in and through the property we where looking at. I could see kids learning and being loved through after school programs. I could see people hanging out and sharing coffee and their lives with each other. I could see people sharing in communion and serving each other around dinning tables. I could see people worshiping God that would never before see themselves in the church because they didn't feel welcome or comfortable. I could see those that had a lot and those that had nothing eating together at the same table. I saw the hungry being fed physically and spiritually. This was all happening as the owner of the property was showing us around the place. I was filled with awe and wonder.

There was also an amusement park around the two buildings with rides and games. I am not quite sure what that part meant. I remember thinking the trustees will not like this and will want to know if insurance will cover it.

Everything seemed so real. So possible. So right on. I wanted to stay there and take in all that God was doing. I didn't want to wake up. But I did. It was a dream about a dream. Maybe God is trying to tell me something. Maybe it is time to have a conversation with someone about making a dream that God has a reality. Minus the amusement park, that might have just been an overactive imagination. But, you never know...

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, June 11, 2010

Selfishness

I got my toes stepped on the other day. I needed it. I was caught in a moment of only thinking about myself. I didn't realize that I was doing it but God allowed me to see and I am thankful that he did.

I was just focused on me. I had a friend that was going through a situation of life that I could have been a friend and should have been a friend but because I was just thinking about me I didn't even take time to stop, look, and recognize a friend who was dealing with the stuff of life. I was celebrating my moment and failed to take time to focus on someone else. I was self centered, too busy, in too big a hurry to do my thing that I didn't stop and ask "how are things going?"

Two days after seeing my friend and not stopping to invest in them because I was celebrating me, I learned that they were dealing with major decisions at the time of my celebration that was causing them not to celebrate. You see in the midst of our highs there are always people experiencing life's lows. I cant get so into myself that I fail to see others and invest in them. Jesus wants us to always take time for the other. He wants us to move away from self centered selfishness to Christ centered and thinking of others. I am grateful for the grace of my friend and the grace of God. I am thankful for the Spirit crying out in my soul to make me aware of how far I still have to go.

Look for ways that God might use you today to be a friend to others.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Yay God!!!!

I can't believe that it has taken me this long to say anything. It is not that I am not excited, grateful and thankful, because I am. It is official, as of Monday, I have been appointed to serve as the pastor of Dockery Chapel UMC for one more year!!!! Yay God!!!

I have said it before and I will say it again. I am the most fortunate pastor that I know. Dockery is a wonderful church. I love all of you very much. I am so fortunate to serve and grow along side this wonderful faith community. I know I don't tell you enough how much I love you and how great a church you are. Today I want to make sure I tell you.

I love you Dockery Chapel.
You are a wonderful, amazing, Spirit led church.

Your heart to reach beyond the walls of the building to live the love of Jesus and connect the unconnected brings glory and honor to God. Your commitment to grow in relationship with God rather than just do religious things is inspiring to me. I could not ask for a better church family to share my life with and live out the ministry of Jesus. We know that greater things are still to be done yet you do great things for God everyday. I look forward to many years of "Yay God's!!!" ahead. You all Rock!!! I love you.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Smiles or Frowns?

Do you think that you make people smile? When you think about the conversations and the encounters that you have had today, did you inspire smiles or frowns?

I think that we should always work to make the smiles out number the frowns. I hope that I can make you smile. I pray that I don't do or say something that causes a frown. We always impact people either in a positive or a negative way. I would like to say that we can have no or a neutral impact but, I don't think that is true. It would be if we had no feelings or were not spiritual beings who are connected by God's Spirit. However, we are not unfeeling and spiritless so, we are impacted by each other. Every encounter brings about smiles of frowns. Positive or negative experiences.

If at the end of the day we can say that we made more people smile than frown than I would say it has been a good day. If at the end of the day people smile because they saw Jesus in us than I would say that is a very good day. Smile God loves you and so do I.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Annual Conference

I have been away for the past four days at our church's annual conference. For those unfamiliar with the United Methodist Church we are a connectional church system. This basically means that we all work together and each local church is part of a larger church. The Annual Conference is a time for us to come together to do the annual business of the church and to connect on the larger level to each other and to God.

This years Annual Conference was a special one that really helped me to understand more fully what it means to be connectional church. This year I was ordained at Annual Conference. After 11 years of ministry as a licensed and commissioned pastor I have been ordained as an Elder in our church. After being recommended by my home church, a district committee on ministry, and the conference board of ordained ministry and elected by my peers the Bishop laid hands in me, prayed over me and ordained me as an elder in the United Methodist Church.

When I knelt before the Bishop I was surrounded by others who also laid hands on me. There was a bishop from the Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church and a Bishop form the Presbyterian Church, USA who also stood there. They represented the connection to the larger UMC and to the Church everywhere. We are all connected. Jesus prays in the garden that we all would be one. Also, there with with hands on me where Jon, Jeff, Dick and Steve. Steve is my DS. He is my immediate boss. But, he is a friend and colleague in ministry. I have known Steve most of my ministry. He pastored a neighboring church when I first started in ministry. Dick is a friend that has always been there for me. He gave me my first Senior Pastor appointment. Dick, Jon and Jeff have been there through highs and lows of ministry. They have prayed for me and supported me. Jon is the pastor that led me to Jesus. Jon helped me to understand that I could be used by God. Jon has been a shoulder to lean on, a mentor to learn from and a friend to laugh with. Jeff has been a friend for many years who has been used by God in special ways in my life to encourage me and to show me that God never leaves me or forsakes me. Jeff has always reminded me to look for the good every day.

But there was not just them standing there. My family also stood up with me. So did people from the churches that I have served throughout my ministry. Also, there were friends that I have met and made in the last 11 years of this journey. Friends made in seminary and through ministry. As I felt the weight of the hands on me as the Bishop said "I ordain you"... and "take your authority", I felt the connection. I felt the Spirit that connects us all together. I was ordained by the church. I felt the presence of that first group at Pleasant Hill UMC that said they thought God was calling me to ministry. I felt the connection to the people who for the past 11 years on boards of ordained ministries have affirmed God's calling and said they think i should be ordained. I felt the presence of all the people that have allowed me to be their pastor. I felt the presence of all of the communities that I have served in. I felt the presence of my family who has always supported, prayed for and encouraged me on this journey. The connection came together for that moment. I could see more clearly how we are all connected as one. When we are together we can physically connect by placing our hands on each other but we remain forever connected by the Spirit that lives and dwells in each of us. Even when we cannot physically make a connection God connects us together.

Each Sunday, for ll years of ministry, I have had the congregation hold hands for the benediction and tried to remind them of this connection. Although, I have continually lifted up that we are always connected, I still don't fully understand all that that it means. But, I do know that I have discovered it in a new and deeper way through the connection that was made with everyone at my ordination. I am truly riding a Holy Spirit high that I felt in the moment of feeling the connection as those hands where placed on me. This might sound silly. I am sure it does. Words are a silly way of trying to describe a God beyond description. But they are all I got for this blog. Recognize your connection to everyone you meet. Look for the face of Jesus in all that you encounter today. Tune in to the connection that is making you one with the other.

Love Today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, June 3, 2010

God is Bigger

We have some new CD's in the family truckster. The songs are songs that I have heard before but now, thanks to Chic-fil-a, we can listen to them every time we ride in the car. The CD's are Veggie Tale songs. What a great prize to go with a kids meal. Music- not a toy that breaks- but music that tells kids about how God loves them and cares for them. I am not a big eating out guy and certainly don't promote particular places but, if you are going to give your money to a fast food joint it just makes since to give it to one that is closed on Sunday and tells kids about how God loves them.

Anyway, there is this one song that keeps running through my head thanks to these new CD's. The lyrics are:

"God is bigger than the boogie man,
He's bigger than Godzilla or
the monsters on TV.

God is bigger than the boogie man,
and He's watching out for you and me."

What are you facing? What are you going through? Did you know that God is bigger. Your God is bigger than your situation. Our God is bigger than our circumstances. Your God is big enough to handle it. Your God is big enough to get you through it. Your God is big enough to tackle it. Big enough to protect you. Big enough to provide what all that you need. Your God "is bigger than the boogie man and he is watching out for you and me!"

Give it to God.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Contact Lenses

Last week I got contact lenses for the first time. I have always held back from getting them because I just did not like the idea of sticking something into my eye. My eyes are sensitive and I figured I would not do well touching my eyeball. Too irritating, I would just wear glasses.

I can't believe how much I like wearing contacts over my glasses. I can see so much clearer. No dirty glasses. No frames to push up on my face. I wish I would have done this years ago. Oh, it is still a little irritating at first when you put them in and touch your eyeball but it is worth it. I can see like I have never been able to before.

A little irritation, some discomfort, and then I can see better than I could see before.

I think this is true about life and our relationship with God. Sometimes we go through tough times. Some times we go through things that are irritating or difficult but if we will lean on Jesus and trust in God when we get through it we will be able to see better. We will be able to see with the eyes of heaven. When we lean on Jesus we and persevere through the difficult moments are faith is sharpened and we grow in our understanding of just how good God is and sufficient He is for our needs. Our eyes get opened to see with our eyes of faith.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Re-creation

Memorial Day was yesterday. It was a good day. I got to spend time with family and friends and experience God's love, grace and presence through relationships with others and time spent in and with his creation.

By the grace of God I was able to run and complete my first 10K run. It was a run to benefit the Fellowship of Christian athletes and provide scholarships for kids to go to camps. The race was wonderful and I got to meet a lot of new friends and amazing people. I got to spend time on a beautiful morning running with God. Every time I hit a hill, or just got tired I thought of the song lyrics that say, "I lift my eyes to the maker of the mountains I can't climb." Amazingly I finished 2nd in my age group and even got a medal.

I then spent the rest of the day with family and friends. We played. We talked. We laughed. We shared around the table. We enjoyed the beautiful day that God had given us to be together. It was a good day. It was a God day!
Everyday is really.
Yesterday I noticed him at work in the common everyday things. I experienced him use family and friends, strangers and running, laughter, conversation, food, Frisbee football, washer games, hospitality and the great outdoors to recreate me in his image and make himself known to me.

I pray that my eyes can see again today.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug