Thursday, January 29, 2015


I'll be teaching on forgiveness this weekend in our services.  I ran across this illustration that I think says a lot.  Two men at a nursing home had been quarreling for years.  One of the men thought he was on his deathbed so he called his foe over to his bed and said, “John, I forgive you for what you have said and done against me over the years, and I want you to do the same for me.”  The other man, with tears in his eyes, agreed that he too would like to forgive and be forgiven.  Then the man in the bed said, “But if I get better, this doesn’t count!”
If we don't forgive, we are bound to the people we cannot forgive.  An unforgiving spirit is little better than being like inmates of an internal concentration camp.  While we often try to punish and imprison those who hurt us, the reverse actually happens.  When we don't forgive, we end up being tortured.  The worst prison in the world is the prison of an unforgiving heart.
Lewis Smedes said, "When I genuinely forgive, I set a prisoner free and then discover that the prisoner I set free was me."
Think about it...

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Journey

Birthdays cause you to reflect.  Well, at least they should.  I am now 57 years old.  Life has been good, but there have been a lot of twists and turns.  I've certainly racked up a lot of miles on this body.  I've made decisions, but good and bad.  I've erred and I've succeeded.  Regrets?  Sure.  Overall - it's been a great journey.  It's not always about the destination.  It's about how we get there. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Thinking Out Loud

I've been away from my blog for what seems like forever.  Ok, it's been since August?  It's so hard to keep up with everything.  I've been teaching online courses, pastoring my church, chasing my senior daughter in her last year of high school, hanging out with my son at the gun range, etc.  Here are some rambling thoughts...

My greatest joy:  My children and grandson.  They are all such joy to me.  I can't imagine life without them!  It's great watching our youngest transition during this senior year of high school into a future collegiate person.  My son and I are growing closer each week, and he's been coming to church again every week for the past 3+ months.  My oldest daughter, my son-in-law, and my grandson, though far away, are so very dear to us. 

My greatest challenge:  Ministry is always a challenge.  I've been told that most pastors don't have what it takes to turn a church around.  Those who do, do it once.  A handful can do it twice.  I've been at EWC for 13+ years.  God has been gracious and we've seen good growth.  We've started a second service (Saturdays at 5:00 PM) and our overall attendance continues to climb.  I do find myself growing tired.

My greatest question:  What's next?  Am I growing toward a ride into the sunset or does God have a new mountain for me to climb?  What does the future hold?  More of the same?  Something new?

My greatest fear:  Please refer to my greatest question.  :)

My greatest ambition:  To follow Christ. 

By the way, you can follow me now on Facebook.  Just look up David Dignal.  If I know you, feel free to "friend" me.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sorry, St. Francis

St. Francis of Assisi is famous for having said, "Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words."  Now, I think I understand his intention:  be a witness in your actions, even if words are hard to come by.  I once read of a young man, who, as he was greeted by the pastor leaving church following an especially powerful message about witnessing, said in a whisper, "I believe in witnessing; I'm just in the Secret Service."

My friend Mark Wilson says, "Silence, when it comes to undercover Christianity, isn't always golden.  Sometimes, it's just plain yellow."  He goes on to write, "Too many cowardly Christians hide behind the skirts of St. Francis."  We definitely need to let our love for others show in our actions.  We need to do good things for our neighbors.  We need to display the love of Christ in all that we do.  But at some point, we have to own the responsibility to share with others the message of the gospel.  It's necessary.  We must use words.

We talk about what we cherish, what we love.  What are you going to talk about today?

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Last evening, our Vacation Bible School team gathered at the church to decorate for this year's event that starts this coming Monday evening.  While we had a lot to do, it was great seeing a couple of dozen people working and laughing together as we prepared for our upcoming children's outreach.  Energy flowed all over our campus as the team gathered to do the task before them.

As we worked together, I had the following thoughts about teams and teamwork.  These are not in any particular order.

1.  Common Goal - Teams function much better when everyone is on the same page - each team member knows the goal and is working toward making that goal a reality.

2.  Delegation of Responsibility - Everyone on the team needs to know what their responsibility is.  A good team leader points the other members of the team in the right direction.

3.  Leadership - The team responds to capable leadership.  A clear sense of who is in charge is vital.  Everything rises and falls on leadership.

4.  Affirmation - Team members accomplish more when compliments are flying around.

5.  Celebration - Teams that take time to celebrate their accomplishments tend to accomplish more than those that just work toward the goal and go home.  Applaud others.  This is similar to affirmation but is very intentional and is aimed for the entire team.

6.  Laughter - Enjoying each other and having fun is key to accomplishing great tasks.

There are many other things that make up great teams, but this is what I saw in action last night.  I was thrilled to see our team come together and get so much done, having fun all evening long!  Thanks everyone!  You are an outstanding team!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What Would Our Church Look Like If..."

As we worked through specific teaching on discipleship this summer, I asked this question to the people of our church:  "What would our church look like if...?"

Here's a bit of the background to that question.  When I became the pastor of this church over 11 years ago, it had been in significant decline for many years.  In fact, the consensus of the leaders was that it would close within five years if something didn't change.  Since that time, God has been leading us into a more missional mindset and the church has grown significantly.  As I stated in a previous blog, we are adding another service to our schedule to try to facilitate additional growth.

To be honest, a great deal of our growth has been transfer growth - people who have come to us because the church they were in was not effectively ministering to the community.  Transfer growth has helped us by bringing us a number of new leaders and resources.  As a result, we've done more than we thought we could do several years ago.

However, transfer growth doesn't really increase the Kingdom of God!  All it does is "shuffle the deck."  So I've been asking our people to think about their family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and those they see as they drive down the street.  What would our church look like if we really reached out to those who need Jesus the most?  And, what would our church look like if we reached out to those who are really different from us?  What if we made ourselves really uncomfortable and reached those who are in poverty, or who have children with disabilities?  What if?

Since that time, God has been changing the hearts of some of our people.  There is a growing passion to connect with those who have the greatest needs.  It's challenging.  But it's so rewarding as we are beginning to see some previously unreached people coming through our doors!

So I ask you, what would your church look like if..."  You can fill in the rest.  But please, fill it in!

Monday, July 14, 2014

People Helping People

We have a woman in our church who has been in the hospital or rehabilitation center since November 11, 2013.  I don't mean she's been in and out of the hospital.  She's not been home since 11/11/2013!  Her battle has  been a lengthy one.  On more than one occasion her family and I have thought we lost her.

On several occasions she has been close to giving up.  I started telling her months ago, "If you don't think you have enough faith to see this through, you can borrow mine."  I firmly believe that her testimony will reach many lives once she is healed.  I don't know why God is allowing her to go through this, but He has sustained her and is growing her faith in a powerful way!  The church family has been praying daily for her healing, and we just believe that He will heal her completely!

As you can imagine, the medical bills for a situation can be staggering, even with the best insurance.  The church board has given some assistance to the family over the past few months, but we needed to go a step further.  I shared with our congregation the need to help out, and in just two weeks, the church family raised nearly $2,500.00 to put toward medical bills!  In addition, her husband's employer called when they heard what we were doing and added another $500.00 to the total!

Other acts of kindness and love have been extended.  Visits to the hospital and rehabilitation center.  Donating parts and labor for vehicle repairs so the husband could get to work and the hospital to check on his wife.  Cards and notes.  Flowers.  It's amazing to see what God has been doing to extend His love to a family in crisis.  Let's keep it up until she comes home!