Saturday, June 28, 2003

And this from perennial favorite, Glen VanderKloot's daily e-mailed inspirations, OnLine with Faith, from several days ago:

A Thought for the Day

Is it disillusioning to have icons like Martha Stewart and Sammy Sosa
accused of wrongdoing? The truth is, all of us fall short of what we
should be. Sin is about missing the mark, and God says that all of us
shoot off-target more than we care to admit. (David Mains)

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Bible Verse
Romans 3:23:

All of us have sinned and fallen short of God's glory.
(Contemporary English Version)

Lord, I know I fall short of your expectations. Forgive me and keep
me from judging others when they fall short. Amen.
Motivational speaker Brian Tracy cites this as his e-mailed "quote of the day" for today:

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another." – Charles Dickens Good stuff!

For All You Romantics Out There

In his book, Happiness is an Inside Job, Loyola College professor John Powell writes:

"Of course, expectations have a lot to do with our happiness. It is one of those life lessons that is hardest to learn. To the extent that we think our happiness will come from outside things or even other persons, our dreams are destined for death. The true formula is, H=IJ. Happiness is an inside job.

"Most of us are hopeless romantics. And sadly, romantic hope does not die easily. We continue to dream our unreal dreams. We glorify reality with Technicolor expectations. We build castles in the sky. We keep thinking of life and happiness as a combination lock. Once we learn the right combination, we will have it made. But frustration will always overtake us as long as we put our happiness in the promise of things or in the hands of other humans.

"A few years ago a divorce lawyer submitted the opinion that most divorces result from romanticized expectations. Jack thinks that being married to Jill will be utter bliss. He calls her 'Angel' and 'Sweetie.' She is all he will ever need. He sings her the romantic lyrics of love songs. Then, shortly after the wedding bells have become an echo, the truth sets in: There are unpleasant moods, weight gains, burned dinners, hair curlers, occasional bad bread and body odors. He silently wonders how he ever got into this. He secretly thinks that she has deceived him. He had gambled his happiness on 'Angel Face' and has apparently lost.

"On the other side, before marriage Jill's heart beats a little faster whenever she thinks of Jack. It will be such heaven to be married to him. 'Just Jackie and me and baby make my Blue Heaven.' Then there are cigarette ashes, his addiction to sports events on television, minor but painful insensitivities. Clothes are left lying only in chronological order. Her knight in shining armor has turned out to be a 'one-man slum.' The top of the toothpaste tube is missing. The doorknob he promised to fix still comes off in her hand. Jill cries a lot and starts looking up 'marriage counselors' in the yellow pages. Jack carried her off gallantly into the sunset. From then on it was all darkness.

"Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce. Sixty-five percent of all second marriages end in the same traumatic sadness. Disillusion always seems to follow when we expect someone or something else to make us happy. Such expectations are a parade that always get rained on. The place called 'Camelot' and the person called 'Right' just don't exist. The anticipations always seem ecstatic, but they are soon swallowed up in the darkness and disappointment of night. Our mistake begins when we expect happiness. I once saw a cartoon of a huge woman standing over her diminutive, seated husband, demanding, 'Make me happy!' It was a cartoon. It was meant for laughter. It was a distortion of reality. That's why it was funny. No one can make us truly happy or truly unhappy." (pp.2-3, Happiness is an Inside Job)

And now, a few thoughts that Powell's words inspire in me...

The Bible warns that we have to be careful about being led by our hearts: "The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse---who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)

Too many times, we allow our hearts to be in charge of our lives. In fact, we must take charge of our hearts.

Because the heart is devious, it's always pointing us to "shortcuts" to happiness. "If you'll spend your life with that person," you'll be happy, our hearts tell us. Or "If you buy that in that neigborhood...take that job...join that health club..." Blah blah blah. These are all romantic delusions, bound to disappoint.

What we need is heart transplants...Change our hearts and our lives will change. We'll stop putting unrealistic expectations into every relationship and contentment and happiness will come as byproducts. I'm not always "there," contented and happy, but I am 90% of the time.

The key? The Psalms tell us: "Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4). A transformed heart will not have delusional desires---although God will plant big dreams in the hearts of those who follow Him. A transformed heart will have as its object becoming all that God intended for us to become and following not where our heart leads, but where God leads. "[S]trive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness," Jesus says. (Matthew 6:33)

People whose hearts are transformed by putting God first in their lives also won't expect other human beings or things in their lives to deliver the happiness, contentment, and fulfillment that only God can give.

As to marriages and our relationships, they may be gifts from heaven, but they will also require work and sacrifice on our parts to maintain. Every person contemplating marriage or jumping off the "fidelity wagon" in order to take up with someone new ought to know that.

Here, the sage advice of noted romantic Paul McCartney, from his song, We Got Married, seems appropriate: "It's not just a loving machine, it doesn't work out if you don't work at it."

Friday, June 27, 2003

Here's another thought from the daily e-mailed inspirations of Pastor Glen VanderKloot. Glen is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church of Springfield, Illinois. You can subscribe to OnLine with Faith, the name of these daily e-mails, by writing to Glen at


Sometimes the roughest road may be the best way to get where you are going.

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Bible Verse
Proverbs 3:6: Always let him [God] lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow. [Contemporary English Version]

Lord, give me the courage to keep going even when the way is difficult. Amen.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

My son, Philip, shared this quote with me today. It's from Albert Schweitzer, the Nobel Peace Prize winning missionary-physician. I love it:

"Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate."
Albert Schweitzer

When Jesus Christ is one's Lord, it makes the risk of sharing His kindness with others a less daunting thing. Confident of God's amazing grace, we can fearlessly share kindness with others!
We're getting ready for an exciting weekend at the congregation I serve as pastor, Friendship Church. Here's why...

(1) Friday, June 27, from 7:00 to 10:00 P.M., we'll have our monthly 3N Party. This month brings a special wrinkle: Comedian Marty Daniels (my kid brother) will bring his stand-up insanity to the evening. He begins his performance at 8:00 P.M. Cost is one buck...You can't beat that with a stick!

(2) Saturday, June 28, beginning at 9:00 A.M., we'll have a Churchwide Rummage Sale. Friendship folks have rummaged through their closets, garages, kitchens, and dresser drawers for items that are usable but which they no longer need. Proceeds from the sale will support a cookoutreach later in the summer.

(3) Although I will be around throughout the weekend, our youth are leading worship on Sunday morning, beginning at 10:00 A.M. Tara Weyant, a senior at Indiana Wesleyan and one of our very own young people, will share the message.

All of this happens in our brand new building facilities at 1300 White Oak Road...and you are invited!

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Changing Your World through Faith
Mark 4:35-41

[Shared with the people of Friendship Church, June 22, 2003]
[The themes for the messages I’m sharing with the congregation I serve as pastor these days are suggested by materials provided by the staff of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Burnsville, Minnesota]

I know a man whose mother was a professional worrier. One day when this man was a little boy, he was tired and decided to take a nap. (This is an absolutely true story.) While he was sleeping, a storm began. It was a loud one: thunder, lightning, torrents of water pouring from the sky. Mom was in a panic and had the little boy’s siblings in a panic too. “Where’s Todd?” one of the kids asked. “Todd is taking a nap,” another voice answered. Todd’s mom was appalled! So, she went and woke the sleeping boy up. “Todd,” she said in a reproachful tone, “how could you sleep through something so terrible?” “I was tired,” the yawning boy explained. To this day, Todd wonders what good it did for his mom to wake him up and invite him to panic along with the rest of the family.

Panic is a pointless way to react to life. Panic accomplishes nothing. If we want to change our worlds for the better—our own personal worlds and the world in which we live, panic won’t get us there. Nor will fear. But another force, a positive force incited by God within us, can help us change our worlds!

In our Bible lesson for this morning, we have a famous incident involving Jesus and His first disciples. To a point, it’s very much like what happened to Todd as a boy. Jesus has spent a long day teaching and knows that on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, a lot of work awaits Him. Exhausted, He tells the disciples to set sail. Even today, the Sea of Galilee is subject to sudden, fierce storms. And that’s what happened during this trip. Our Bible lesson says that the storm was so ferocious that the boat in which Jesus and the disciples rode was being swamped. Most of Jesus’ first followers were familiar with these waters; they were fishermen who knew how awful a Galilean storm could be and presumably, should have been seasoned in handling what happened. The old pros were overwhelmed by this storm, though. They thought for sure they were going to die.

But Jesus was asleep. The disciples were as appalled as Todd’s mother had been. So, they did the same thing that worrying mom did: they woke Jesus up. I think they did that without any expectation that Jesus could do anything about the storm at all. Their low expectations show in their question of Jesus, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” “Jesus,” they’re saying, “how can you sleep at a time like this? Don’t you care that we—you included—may be drowned by this storm? Wake up and panic with us!”

Here’s where this true incident gets really interesting. Jesus yells at the wind and sea and says, “Peace! Be still!” The wind stops and the sea calms. Filled with awe, the disciples consider what they have just seen and wonder whether this teacher they’ve been following isn’t just a man, but also God. (That’s why they ask, “Who then is this, that even the wind and sea obey Him?”) But after calming the storm, Jesus turns to them and asks His own questions: “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

What was Jesus saying in asking those questions? Was He saying that if you have faith in Him, you’ll have no storms in your life? Hardly! After all, Jesus was riding in the very boat being swamped by a storm. But maybe that’s the point: If you’re going to have storms in your life—whether they’re emotional, psychological, spiritual, relational, physical, whatever, it’s good to have Jesus along for the ride. He promises to do no less for those who believe in Him and follow Him. “I am with you always,” He tells us.

Nor does Jesus mean that He will make the storm go away always. He did at this particular time. But each and every one of us can name people—people who trusted Jesus with their whole heart, mind, soul, and strength—who nonetheless found their lives swamped by the storms that can ravage any member of the human race. Yet, they pressed on and kept trusting Christ. A man I once knew had so many adversities and illnesses before he finally died that he might have been aptly called Job Junior after the Old Testament man who endured so much suffering. But he kept trusting in Christ. He faced everything with a calm I could hardly imagine. From him I learned the truth of that old saying that says, “Sometimes, Jesus calms the storms and sometimes, He just calms us.”

I think Jesus was saying this to His panic-stricken disciples: When we follow Christ, no matter how overwhelming our circumstances, we have all we need to face anything in life. We can even confront death and know that for always and ever, we belong to a God Who gives forgiveness of sin and everlasting life to all who trust in Jesus Christ above all things. Panic and fear in the face of life’s storms won’t help us change our worlds or to change the world around us. But faith in Jesus Christ can do just that!

But it’s fair for us to wonder, can faith really change the world? I believe that it can!

During World War Two, a young couple living in Poland found their world and all their dreams collapsing around them. The husband was sent to fight in the war and didn't return. As years passed, friends of the wife told her that she should proceed with her life because her husband had obviously been killed in battle.

But this young woman’s faith was so strong. God had convinced her that her husband would be returning. And God did bring her husband back. He had been a prisoner of war, but now he was home.

That wasn’t the end of that couple’s storms, though. They wanted to have children, but learned that they couldn’t do so biologically. So, the wife prayed that God would send them a child they could adopt. She promised God that if God would give them a child, they would raise the child to be God's servant.

One night the wife felt as though God were calling her to go outside. It was a cold night. When she looked down the street, she caught sight of a woman pushing a baby carriage. In it was a newborn baby. It turned out that this woman had many children at home and couldn’t afford another mouth to feed. She was on her way to an orphanage.

The wife was convinced that God had brought this little newborn to she and her husband! They adopted her and named her Jasia.

Jasia turned out to be a very intelligent little girl. Her parents raised her to know and follow Christ, but Poland was a Communist country. Atheism was official government policy. The Communist regime though, sought out bright young people like Jasia. The best opportunities came to young people involved with the Communist youth leagues. Jasia became a leader in these groups.

But her parents didn’t give up on their promise to God, though. They basically tricked Jasia into going to a Bible camp. In the midst of a Bible study, Jasia bolted from the camp and ran into the forest. What she heard overwhelmed her in a way reminiscent of the disciples’ reaction that day on the Sea of Galilee. Jasia came to see that she couldn't run from God anymore and offered her life to Godto be God's servant.

Eventually, Jasia became a leader in the underground Christian church in Poland. Today she is the Director for Children's Ministry for the Lutheran Church in Poland.

Faith can change the world! Jasia’s parents’ faith changed her world. And through her faith in Christ, God continues to use Jasia change the world around her. She touches the lives of hundreds and thousands of children each year in the churches and camps of Poland.

I want to say a word to you parents today. For many of you, I know, helping your kids have a personal relationship of trust with Jesus Christ is the highest priority of your parenting. And it should be! But sometimes, our children reject faith in Christ. I want to offer you a word of encouragement. It may take years and years for your kids to embrace Jesus Christ. But if they’ve observed you closely and seen you following Christ, no matter how imperfectly you may feel that you have done so, you can be sure that the Good News—message of the great God of all loving us so much that He became one of us and died for us and rose for us to give us new lives—has gotten through in some way. Of course, all of us must decide for ourselves whether we will follow Jesus. But if you’ve shown your kids that Christ is real for you and if you have prayed for them and done your best, you can be at peace. It just may be that when a storm hits in the life of your rebellious child, they’ll remember your faithfulness and decide that they too, want to surrender to the love and grace of the God we know through Jesus Christ.

Faith can change our worlds. That starts to happen when we realize and live with a simple but powerful reality: Jesus Christ is bigger than all our storms!

[The true story of Jasia was told by one of the pastors at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Burnsville, Minnesota, and was shared in that congregation's Thematic Worship toolkit.]

Monday, June 23, 2003

"At the risk of being redundant," he said, preparing to repeat himself, "here's an announcement I want to share with you again about an important upcoming event." If you're going to be in the Cincinnati area this coming Friday night, why not come and enjoy the show mentioned below?

[for immediate release]
Comedian Marty Daniels, developing a reputation for being "clean, smart, and funny," will perform on Friday night, June 27, in the building facilities Friendship Church, 1300 White Oak Road, just west of Amelia. Doors open at 7:00 P.M. and Daniels begins his performance at 8:00 P.M. Cost for the event is $1.00 per person.

A veteran of radio and the music industry, Daniels is wowing audiences with his fun perspectives on life. He manages to get laughs without resorting to profanity or sexual innuendo. What's particularly remarkable is that Daniels is gaining attention for his talent not within what some call "the Christian ghetto," but at mainstream comedy clubs, venues at which coarseness and profanity are often accepted practice.

Marty harnesses the madness of life in ways that leave corporate groups, marriage conferences, and comedy club patrons doubled over in laughter without the guilt. "Okay," the comedian says, "with half the guilt."

Daniels is, as he would put it, "the much younger brother" of Friendship Church's pastor, Mark Daniels. "I'm glad that we're able to present Marty to our community in this way," says Mark. "He's a genuinely funny man and I think it's good for people who may associate Christian faith with prune-faced legalism to know that when Christ makes you confident that God loves you, you're able to laugh...a lot."

For more information about the performance or for directions to the church building, contact the Friendship Church office at 513-752-5265. For more information about Marty Daniels' comedy, go to

And here's something else from Marty, this for people in the Columbus area...

Reynoldsburg, OH - On June 16th a home was set on fire by arsonists. The family of Five (5) was sleeping. This attack took the life of a mother (Pamela Lee) of 3 children and her 8 year old daughter, Ti'ana Lee. The home was destroyed. Left behind to rebuild their lives are an aunt and the two young sons of Ms. Lee, Tremon and Marquis.

On July 2, 2003 a group of area comedians will be performing a benefit concert at Three Cups Coffeehouse 7524 East Main Street in Reynoldsburg to establish a trust fund in their names for future education, career or business dreams.

Performing at this benefit will be area comedians...

Dan Swartwout
Dawn Holley
Roxane Larimore
Kirk Crawford
and Marty Daniels

The show begins at 7:00 PM. A financial donation will be taken at the door.

Those not able to make it to the show can contact Sally Mowery at Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corporation by calling 614-422-3171 or emailing her at