PACKER FAN, PASTOR

I really want it to be done on Wednesday…but it probably won’t.  Sure the political ads may end, but the disgust that comes from people who disagree with my views won’t be done.  I dislike that more than the political ads.  Our country is extremely polarized right now, but it’s not so much that we disagree with each other, but we attack each other, and at times it can be pretty hateful.  This situation doesn’t deter me from voting, but it also doesn’t encourage me to vote all the more.  I don’t vote to “stick it” to someone.  I vote because I enjoy the opportunity to have some kind of input into what is going on in my local, state and federal government…no matter how “minor” that input may seem.  I also have a dad who is a veteran, and there’s a piece of me that feels I shouldn’t waste something that men have given their lives to defend.

Back to my original point…I’ve seen a few comments about how pathetic or stupid or ignorant we evangelical Christians are for voting based on our morals, especially when based on Biblical principles.  I’ve seen people go as far to say something to the tune of, “If you vote based on moral conviction, you probably would have voted for Hitler back in the day because he stood for many of our moral convictions during his campaign.”  Nice…see part of what I’m talking about, though?

I don’t hate women, but I feel compelled to stand up for those who can’t stand for themselves, like unborn babies, hence the reason I’m pro-life.  I don’t hate homosexuals, but if you’re going to give me the opportunity to choose whether or not they should be allowed to get married, I’m going to choose to not allow it (by the way, check out this for what I think is a great message on this issue and this for my favorite political ad).  And though I don’t think everything Israel does is good or correct, I’m not about to support someone who wants to attack it or encourage Israel to shrink back from promises that God made to them (like land, go to page 4 to see how big Israel should be).  I’m compelled to vote on these things because of my convictions that I have based on my relationship with God and His word.

His word also gives me the boldness to not worry so much about the economy, jobs, healthcare and taxes.  It’s not that I don’t think those things matter, they’re just not at the top of my priority list based on my convictions.

And therein lies the problem.  A lack of respect for others convictions.  We can disagree until we’re blue in the face on various issues, but to be hateful to each other because we think differently and choose different paths…that’s uncalled for.  So I encourage you to vote tomorrow…and vote based on your God-given convictions and don’t allow man to intimidate you in your decisions.

PACKER FAN, PASTOR

My goodness, I was just complaining about the very issue I struggle with when it came to the Packers’ loss to the Colts  a week ago…inconsistency!  I think it’s been a month since I’ve written in my blog.  I broke what I think is the cardinal rule for “making sure people read your blog”, and that is blogging consistently.  My bad and my apologies.

Speaking of the Packers though, did you see that amazing game the other night?  If not, here are the highlights (feel free to mute the commentary).  I was very pleased to see the Pack play 60 minutes of solid football.  I’ll be really happy if they can do it again next week, and the week after that, and the week after that…and so on all the way up through the Super Bowl.  Why?  Because I love it when my team is consistently winning.  I love positive consistency.  And I don’t think I’m much different from any other human being.

We all love positive consistency.We want relationships with our loved ones to consistently be loving, nurturing and strong.  We want our physical bodies to be consistently healthy, lacking in sickness and disease.  We want our jobs to at least be there consistently providing consistent income.

I’ve heard many people, and you may be one of them, say, “I work better in chaos.”  Truth be told, if we took a step back and looked at how “well” we work in chaos, we’d probably see more broken relationships than we’d like to admit and work that might be done, but also substandard.  The heart of the issue is chaos really isn’t all that great.

When we have positive consistency, things get done and usually done well.  When you continue at something, you tend to get better at it and have better results.  Mike McCarthy, coach of the Green Bay Packers, calls it “stacking successes”.  You have one positive, and you build on that creating positive consistency.  The Packers hope they can win this upcoming week, stacking successes creating positive consistency…a plus for his team and the fans of that team.

This same principle can happen in your life.  If you consistently  change the oil in your vehicle, it will run better.  If you consistently exercise and eat right, you body will be healthy.  If you are consistent with positive communication, your relationships will get better.  If you consistently pray, read your Bible, step out in acts of faith (tithing, sharing the gospel, giving to those in need) and hang out with other Christians, your relationship with God will get better and you’ll start seeing miraculous things happen.

Now off to think about my next blog post so I can be consistent with it and hopefully see more readers. :-)

PASTOR

When I was in college, they had an annual job fair for all us students.  All sorts of companies and “mom and pop” shops would gather in the gymnasium, set up booths and hand out applications.  I went to it once.  The first company at the door was a hardware store.  For some odd reason, I remember this interaction really well…I walk in and the two guys standing there said to me, “Now there’s a guy that needs to be working in a hardware store.”  I smiled politely and kept on walking thinking to myself, “You don’t want me anywhere near a tool chest because I have no clue what to do with half of those things.”  It didn’t help that I was wearing jeans, boots and a long sleeve flannel shirt at the time.

However, about two weeks ago I might have been mistaken for the handy-man type again…and no, not because of my lack of fashion.  I actually had to repair two eye sores.  One was the rail on the “deck” connected to our front enclosed porch.  Somehow the rail busted off of the post and I needed to reconnect it along with “patching” the post.  The other thing was a hole in the ceiling over the entry way to the church.  Apparently the last fix wasn’t permanent, and pieces of the ceiling were on the floor.  I patched it up.  Both items are now fixed…they don’t look great, but they’re fixed.  However, I still don’t consider myself a handyman.  Have you ever heard the saying, “Standing in a garage doesn’t make you a car”?  Yeah, just because I was able to fix a few things definitely doesn’t make me a handy-man.

This last week I started a message series on stewardship.  Most people’s thoughts turn straight to money when this is brought up, but I’m challenging the folks in my church to go beyond that and look at their entire lives.  After all the definition I gave them for stewardship was, “The careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care” (I got that from Merriam-Webster.com).

What does this have to do with my story?  I’ve met plenty of people who say they’re not sure “who they are” or “what they’re supposed to do”.  Some absolutely desire to be someone else and work really hard to be something they’re not.  They stand in a garage and try their best to be a car…but it just isn’t going to work.

In the first message in this series, part of the challenge to people in the church was to make the most of what God has given you.  I used the story Christ told in Matthew 25:14-30 about the master who gave money to three of his servants to watch over while he was away.  The first two servants double the money, while the third hid his, not losing any of the money, but also not gaining anything.  The first two were commended and rewarded while the third was condemned and banished from the household.

Friends, God has given you various gifts and talents to be used for His purposes.  You need to use those to the best of your ability.  If you’re in a funk not sure of who you are, or what you’re supposed to do in this life, you need to talk to God who owns all of it and find out what He has for you.

I’m not a handy-man, I’m a husband, father, pastor and Packer fan! :-)

HUSBAND, PASTOR

It’s been a while since my last post.  My apologies to my faithful followers (all two of you, mom and Stevie :-)).  Just kidding!

Today is September 11th, and of course, a ton of memories of what happened on this day 11 years ago flooded my brain.  Stevie and I had been married a whole 8 months and 10 days.  I just got out of the shower and Stevie called me telling me to turn on the news.  As soon as the tv warmed up, there it was…a picture of smoke billowing out of one of the towers and then a second plane crashing into the second tower.  I remember feeling shocked and wondering what was happening as the news reporters were somewhat hysterical trying to report what was going on.  Then when the towers came crashing down, the emotions flooded over me and I started crying and praying for those who had loved ones in those buildings.  I remember not being very “fearful” of where my family was…Stevie had just called me and we didn’t have any kids yet.  None of my extended family (parents, siblings, in-laws, etc.) worked in any tall buildings, so I just figured they were safe and feeling the same emotions I was feeling.  I did go to work that day and had plenty of discussions with co-workers about what was going on with the towers, the plane in Pennsylvania and the Pentagon.  Needless to say, not much “normal” work got done in the group home that day.  When I got home, I remember feeling really odd when Stevie and I heard a plane flying over head, and then feeling somewhat comforted when the news reporter stated that if anyone heard any planes or helicopters flying it was military aircraft…but not completely comforted because I wasn’t sure if that military plane was about to shoot something down.

Plenty of mixed emotions were felt that day…a little fear, a little anger, a little patriotism, a little sadness, a little shock…but at the same time, a quite a bit of peace.  I realize that may come off a bit oxymoronic, if not rude.  I mean quite a few people just lost quite a few loved ones…how could one feel any sense of peace in the midst of such tragedy?  But that’s what is promised in Philippians 4:7 for those that follow Christ.  Interestingly enough, church attendance sky rocketed the Sunday following September 11, 2001.  Many wanted to grab at that peace that God so freely gives, and many received it.

I saw many tributes and remembrances on Facebook today, as there should be.  But the real tragedy coming out of 9/11, if I may be so bold to say, is that though many will remember what happened and the lives lost that day, too many will forget the God that they turned to that day or September 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 or 17, 2001 as they cried out for peace and comfort in a time of tragedy.

There’s a saying that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it…we may never repeat the tragic events of 9/11, but too many repeatedly fall into a pit of despair and restlessness because they’ve forgotten God.  If that’s you friend, turn back to God and regain peace in your life!

PACKER FAN

Here it goes, my bogus and bold predictions for the NFL.  You could say I’m living somewhat vicariously through this blog.  I’ve always had jobs in the back of my mind I would be doing if I wasn’t in ministry.  One of those jobs would be a sports reporter (others would include being the general manager of a team in the NFL or a truck driver…maybe I’ll explain these choices in future blogs).  So out comes the sports reporter in me.  

They’re “bogus” because I have absolutely no inside knowledge of any team in the NFL.  All selections are mainly based on my gut instinct.  They’re “bold” because I did something a little different this season…I went through the entire NFL schedule and picked the winners.  That makes it very interesting when predicting how the season will end up (especially when teams are in the playoffs who I thought wouldn’t be, i.e. the Saints, and teams that I thought would make the playoffs but won’t, i.e. the Eagles).  I will give you my weekly picks through out the NFL season so you can see how great…no, probably how horribly this will end up. 

So here goes, each division with each teams overall record and the teams above .500 (a record of 9-7 or better), they’re conference record so you can see how I think the seeds play out…although most of them don’t matter because the head-to-head matchups settle most of the seedings (Packers v. 49ers, Falcons v. Cowboys, Saints v. Eagles and Ravens v. Patriots…you can tell who I picked in those games based on the playoff seedings).

AFC

EAST                           NORTH                     SOUTH                        WEST
Patriots (13-3, 9-3)         Ravens (13-3, 9-3)          Texans (12-4, 10-2)           Chargers (11-5, 8-4)
Jets (10-6, 8-4)               Steelers (12-4, 9-3)          Jaguars (4-12)                  Broncos (8-8)
Bills (6-10)                    Bengals (7-9)                  Colts (4-12)                      Raiders (6-10)
Dolphins (4-12)            Browns (2-14)                Titans (3-13)                      Chiefs (5-11)

NFC

EAST                              NORTH                        SOUTH                   WEST
Cowboys (12-4, 9-3)        Packers (13-3, 10-2)            Falcons (12-4, 9-3)        49ers (13-3, 10-2)
Eagles (9-7, 8-4)               Lions (11-5, 8-4)                Saints (9-7, 6-6)             Seahawks (7-9)
Giants (8-8)                     Bears (9-7, 5-7)                 Panthers (7-9)               Rams (5-11)
Redskins (4-12)                Vikings (4-12)                   Buccaneers (6-10)          Cardinals (2-14)

PLAYOFFS:                   AFC                                                 NFC
WILDCARD-                 (3) Texans over (6) Jets                       (3) Falcons over (6) Saints
                                       (5) Steelers over (4) Chargers               (4) Cowboys over (5) Lions

DIVISIONAL-              (1) Ravens over (5) Steelers                 (1) Packers over (4) Cowboys
                                       (3) Texans over (2) Patriots                 (2) 49ers over (3) Falcons

CHAMPIONSHIP-       (1) Ravens over (3) Texans                  (1) Packers over (2) 49ers

                                                  SUPERBOWL- Packers over Ravens

                                    

AWARDS:
MVP- Aaron Rodgers, QB Packers
Offensive Player of the Year-  Aaron Rodgers, QB Packers
Defensive Player of the Year- Clay Matthews, OLB Packers
Offensive Rookie of the Year- Russell Wilson, QB Seahawks
Defensive Rookie of the Year- Morris Claiborne, CB Cowboys

                                                  

PASTOR

I want to take an opportunity today to do some “Lord boasting“.

First, He has blessed my family and me so greatly, I can’t thank Him enough.  There was a period of time a little while ago where I was really contemplating “hanging up the church ministry stuff” for a few reasons that I’m going to keep myself.  Turns out God was just building patience in me and has blessed us greatly in the position He’s given us here in St. James.  We have a very friendly and caring congregation (not that the ones in the past haven’t been for those of you reading this) that has been a great support since we’ve moved here.  The deacon board at our church is very open and seems enthusiastic about reaching out to the community with the Gospel (based on stories I’ve heard in the past, this is a huge blessing my friends).  I know we’re still new to this, but the Lord is building a great foundation for us when the road gets rough.

Second, in the last couple of months he’s been blessing the church…quite a bit happening within the last week.  The congregation has responded very positively to the challenge of giving to missions and the giving has increased quite a bit in the last couple of month.  The increase is enough for our church to be able to bring in a few more missionaries.

In the last week, we sold our bus for the price I was hoping but wasn’t looking like we were going to get; got a new roof on the parsonage just as I thought we were going to have to get a little tough with the company doing the work (“battle” averted); and yesterday we had a great turnout for the annual church picnic.  I was a bit nervous about changing up the service and having it leave the building and take place at the picnic spot…on top of it, I scheduled it for an hour later.  Turns out, it was the highest attended service we’ve had since taking on the position!  Best blessing of all, we saw a few people give their lives to Christ and build the Kingdom of God!  Many were fed yesterday physically and spiritually.  It was a really great day.

Now I just need to remember this stuff when the road gets bumpy, if not filled with craters.

PASTOR

A couple of weeks ago, I got really angry.  The kind where you can feel your face get red, and you’re literally “hot under the collar”.  I really wanted to yell and go all crazy.  What I was doing was watching YouTube.

The original reason for watching the videos was that I was looking for more information on this thing called the Higgs boson.  It’s a science thing and I was wanting to share some stuff to my Wednesday night group about it as we had gone through a DVD series on a creation vs. evolution/Bible/science thing (it was a good series and you can check out more info here).  Of course, part of what I’m trying to do is figure out if and how this Higgs boson thing works with or against the Bible.

So, as I’m looking at these different videos, of course there are other videos that are there with their claims that they can prove that God doesn’t exist, or that the Bible is false, or that the Bible has contradictions…and like a moth to a flame or me to a chocolate candy bar, I move my cursor and click on the various videos.  As I’m watching these videos, two things are happening.

First, the positive thing.  I’m coming up with some pretty good arguments refuting what I’m seeing and hearing, especially since I’m just coming off the DVD series I mentioned above.

Second, the negative thing.  I’m getting pretty steamed by some of the arguments posed, or by the language being used, or the fact that one of the videos is being presented in a way to get a Christian hot under the collar and it was working on me.  But Dave, what do you mean negative?  Isn’t that what we as Christians are supposed to do?  Get angry at people who want to diss on God and start showing them who’s the boss?

NOPE…let me explain.

First, Christians serve an almighty, all-knowing, ever-present, all-loving, merciful God.  He does not need us “angry and arrogant Christians” proving His existence.

Second, I heard a great phrase a while back in a chapel service at the college I attended.  The speaker said, “Getting angry at a sinner for sinning makes as much sense as getting angry at a blind man for walking into a tree.”  That phrase popped in my head as I was getting hot under the collar, and I started thinking about the times that the Bible shows Christ during his time here on earth frustrated (pretty much any time he talked to a pharisee) or down right angry (kicking everyone out of the temple with whip in hand).  I started to realize a very important theme there…Christ seems to only get frustrated or angry with those who already know the truth and are not following it and misusing it.

I cannot recall a time where Christ gets frustrated with someone who doesn’t know God…he lovingly helps them and shows them the way.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not trying to get soft here.  I firmly believe that our God is the supreme judge who knows all things and that those who declare Christ as Lord will be judged for their works, and that those who choose to ignore Christ and push him away will face the consequence of eternity in a lake of fire, but we don’t have to preach that message in an angry and arrogant fashion to those who don’t believe.

We need to allow the fruit of self-control to grow in our lives, and lovingly show the way to those who need the Gospel.

It’s so easy for us to sit on a high perch and look down on those who don’t know the truth and angrily curse them (because I’m telling you right now, it’s not a blessing when you’re sharing the Gospel that way).  Don’t be like the priest in Luke 18:9-14…be like the tax collector.

PASTOR, HUSBAND

What a morning… I was at the home of a member of my congregation this morning to help her with a clogged drain in the kitchen sink.  It was pretty disgusting.  Water just started coming up from the drain when she turned the water on.  It stunk and had all sorts of food particles in it.  It’s one of those two sink jobs, so when she would run the disposal, the drain in the other sink would shoot up water like the Old Faithful Geyser.  Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but water was shooting up.

So, first things first, I started plunging.  That did nothing but take the water from one sink, and send it to the other sink.  So then I tried what I will now call the “double plunge” in which I took two plungers and tried to plunge both drains at the same time.  Still nothing, but maybe a chuckle from the woman watching me.  Then I decided to plunge one sink to empty out the other sink, then use the other plunger as a cap in the empty sink (since when I tried it with the actual cap, the cap just blew off).  I thought I had an angel working with me as the plunger in the empty sink started to plunge all on its own as I plunged the drain in the sink full of water…nope, it was the law of plunging physics in action as when I plunged it one hard time, the other plunger shot out of the sink (I’m pretty sure an angel would have been able to hold the plunger).

I then decided to keep the one sink dry by plunging the other sink full, and then dumped Drano kitchen crystals in what I thought was the “empty drain”.  After following the directions and releasing the plunger, all that I just dumped in the drain came up and I was back to square one with two sinks half full of nasty old kitchen water.

At this time, I decided to head under the sink to begin to take apart pipes.  This would probably be a good time to mention that I know absolutely nothing about plumbing (as if you haven’t guessed that already).  I undo the pipes and the sinks drain out their water and various food particles.  I figured I’d have a clog full of nasty that I would have to clean out…but nope, nothing.  The pipe was empty, not terribly clean, but empty enough to know that water could flow through it.  So I connect it all together again, run the water and after a couple of seconds it starts to back up again.  Needless to say, I’m pretty irritated an hour and a half into this job, but I’m pretty sure I have a good understanding of what needs to be done.

I drain out the sinks again by disconnecting the pipes, put them all back together and use the handy Drano crystals again, this time in what I know is an empty drain.  After two doses and one quick plunge, it was all good and the lady had her sink back.

What did I learn from all this?  Well, while I was doing all this, I was really thinking, “I should be doing ‘real’ ministry right now.  You know, sitting at my desk doing prep work for any of my upcoming teachings or sermons; maybe heading to a nursing home and visiting with some folks there; possibly walking down the street and sharing my faith; how about heading over to the local food pantry to see if I could be of assistance there, etc., etc., etc.” (That was a short list, by the way, of things that pastors do  who are in full-time ministry in case you ever wondered.)  I was then reminded of a message I heard from a guy named Josh McDowell at a youth pastor’s conference I attended about 8 years ago.

In the middle of the message he said, “Your family should never come before your ministry.”  I’m surprised no one fainted or died from the lack of oxygen from the one large collected gasp of the roughly 5,000 people in the auditorium.  Why the response?  Every pastor knows the order of priority in his/her life is God, then family and then ministry.  We all thought we were seeing the end of Josh McDowell and his ministry.  Then he said, “Your family should be your number one ministry.”  ‘Nuff said…point made!

Wait! What?!?! How did you learn that lesson?

Oops, my bad…forgot to tell you, the congregation member at the beginning of the story is my wife.

PASTOR, PACKER FAN

Ode to Chick-Fil-a

A poem by David Ciske

How dare you, o Chick-Fil-a

You took a stand

And now you shall pay.

Though in America,

Land of the free and home of the brave,

You are to keep quiet,

Take your thoughts to the grave!

 

So some will boycott

And stand against,

While others will balance

On their white picket fence.

Still some will not care

Not saying a word

While a group will rise up,

Chirping, like a bird.

 

From the Word of the Lord

They will show their support,

Pointing to Psalm eighteen

Verse twenty through twenty-four.

 

So do not fear

And do not sway,

Oh sandwich maker of chicken breast filet.

The Lord God Almighty

Will reward you some great day!

 

PACKER FAN

I’ve been away from the blog for almost three weeks…you’d think I have a ton to say, but I’ve got other outlets for release so I won’t make you read half a novel in this blog post.

What a week this is turning out/going to be!  First, I painted our kitchen and my office.  Second, the Packers start training camp this week, technically Thursday (physicals and what not today).  Third, the Olympics start Friday.  All of these things have one thing in common-preparation or prep time.

Painting the kitchen and the office took quite a bit of prep time.  In the kitchen, there was a layer of wallpaper and then two wallpaper borders over that at the top…not cool.  At the office, I have a wall of wall board with four layers of wallpaper.  Because it’s wall board, scoring and spraying glue remover was out of the question.  Lots of scraping, elbow grease and sweat on that wall.  Couldn’t get it all off, so now I have what I call a “textured wall”.

Packers training camp is prep time and I’m telling you what, there’s not a single U.S. Olympian competing over the course of the next couple of weeks that did not put in a ton of prep time.  There was a Snickers commercial a few years ago…shoot, it might have been 15 years ago…with a soccer player kicking around a soccer ball talking about all he had to do for practice.  He ends the commercial with the line, “I hate practicing, but I love to win”.

The interesting thing about prep time, though, is that results vary.  Not every U.S. Olympian is going to medal.  The Packers aren’t the only team heading to training camp this week and only one of 32 teams will win the Super Bowl (that one will, of course, be the Packers).  You should see my “textured wall”.  Prep time doesn’t guarantee perfection or even winning results, but it does help a team, athlete or painted wall look formidable/presentable. 

We can all fool each other for an hour or two and make it look like we “have it together”.  That was a common message preached in church on Sunday mornings when I was a kid.  How many families were like mine frantically getting ready, looking for shoes, yelling at each other to get out of the bathroom or out of bed or into the car or whatever?  Then we get to church, and everything was “perfect”.  No problems at all…our clothes, smile and hair looked nice and we treated each other like angels.  I’ve come to learn that many people do this…not just church going folks.  Married couples going out to dinner with each other, moms at play groups, guys heading to the golf course…they all seem to “have it together” for the time that they are hanging out and some do, while the others are completely “messed up”.  Maybe the couples argue all the time, maybe a mom constantly berates their kid, or maybe one of the guys struggles with alcoholism.

I guarantee you, though, the difference between those who actually “have it together” and those who don’t is prep time.  Those who “have it together” in public are working on their marriages throughout the week.  Whether it’s having a date night alone, calling each other during the work day or just talking to each other every day (you might be surprised at how many married couples don’t do that).  Those who “have it together” in public are working on their relationship with their kids through out the week.  Playing with them and giving fair and productive discipline at the right time. Those who “have it together” in public practice self-control and don’t let occasional pleasures become horrid addictions.  I can go on and on with examples, but I think you get it.

Do you want to actually “have it together” instead of just playing the part around your friends?  Take a lesson from a professional sports team, Olympians and a painted wall…put in the prep time during the week when no one else is around.