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Category: Devotions

Think About Such Things

Finally, brother and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

~ Philippians 4:8 ~

I love friends. They help me laugh. They help carry my burdens. They help me not take myself so seriously. They inspire and motivate. In particular, I love Tim Seeling. He is my friend. Recently he came over and helped me hang cabinets. It was really enjoyable just being with him. Laughing. Telling stories. Sharing time. And, of course, he came at a time when I really needed him. The difference that he brought to the table in my motivation was… well… motivating. The effect Tim had on me by just coming over and being a friend was that it made and still makes me smile and leaves me warm with gratitude to him and to the Lord. And it makes me think… when I grow up I want to be like Tim. I want to be a friend.

Rob Schmidt, pastor of worship and arts

Balance

Paul Tripp, author of our favorite devotional, New Morning Mercies, recently posted that there are 3 central attributes of our lives… “God, relationships and work.”

Thinking about work, we can easily find reward, satisfaction, security, recognition and friendships. In fact, we are so drawn to work that our family relationships and spiritual life often suffer or are neglected.

As to life’s second attribute, we are profoundly relational beings. We all need and seek relationships and connection. One reason we are tired of self- isolation is that we need the physical connection with friends, family and acquaintances. Lack of these things causes loneliness and depression. (That reminds me of the old relationship story that in a divorce, a woman will have 4 or 5 close friends and a man will have his dog!)

Covid 19 has slowed life down and reminded us how important it is to keep these 3 areas in balance and prioritized. We have felt loneliness; we have missed relationships; and we have paused from work and enjoyed aspects of living and relationships that we may have overlooked in busier times. 

And finally, this season has reminded us of the most important aspect of living… our life with God. Without that, all else becomes purposeless and empty. With it we have love, joy, peace and hope thru all the vicissitudes of life. We choose our priorities. Let’s keep them right and put our Heavenly Father on the throne of our life where He can fill us with His presence and make our lives full and complete and worth living.

Pope Francis reflecting on Covid 19 recently stated, “it is a time to choose what matters and what passes away; a time to separate what is necessary from what is not; a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you Lord, and to others.”

Don Wolf, elder

Following the Forbidden Fruit

Oh me, oh my-oh
Look at Miss Ohio
She’s a-running around with her rag-top down
She says, I want to do right but not right now…

~ Gillian Welch, “Look at Miss Ohio” on Soul Journey ~

“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.”

~ Jonah 2:8 ~

You know that feeling you get when you want to do something you shouldn’t? Or you know the right way to go but you want to go the wrong way because the wrong way seems so appealing, dangerous, exciting, delicious, forbidden… like the fruit in the garden. Often it seems that I am one button click away from a misstep, one word or sentence away from saying something I know will hurt, anger, aggravate; one wrong turn away from going down a road which leads to a place I know well, a place I both hate and love in a twisted broken sort of way. 

So why do I do these things and take these missteps? What is it I am really after? Sometimes it’s not so easy to answer this question but it is generally a no brainer that the taking of the misstep will definitely NOT take me where I want to go. In fact, it generally leads to a place I know well; a place of pain, brokenness, isolation, and damaged trust. Truthfully, this behavior is no less than a modern-day form of idolatry, a 21st century form of bowing down to some 21st century cow in order to get something or control something. And as it was back then it is now… I lose. Every time! 

Sometimes the evidence presents itself straight away as I end up deep in the mire and the muck. And other times, it takes quite a while to realize that the misstep has taken me, slowly by small degree, far from where I wanted to go. O, how the heart approaches what it yearns. Thankfully, I belong to the Lord and have been created to walk in communion with him. And graciously, he never ceases to draw me to himself and I fully trust that one day my wayward path will find me at rest and at home with him. Until that day, Lord, may my steps be true and the longing in my heart follow after You. 

Rob Schmidt, pastor of worship and arts

Confession of Faith

During this time of “Stay at Home” I’ve had time to reflect on milestone events and circumstances (the “peaks and valleys” we navigate) that have shaped my life. My faith journey began as a small child being brought up in a home with Christian parents. Going to Sunday School is a fond memory followed by a big Sunday dinner prepared by Mom.  

As I grew older, I decided that Baptism and Confirmation Class (strengthening a faith that already exists) was a step I wanted to take to grow closer to God. So in May, way back in 1973 (yes, I’m dating myself), I was Confirmed into our church and started my personal commitment to be a follower of Christ. I wanted to share the Invocation & Confession of Faith from that Confirmation day so long ago, which is still valid today as a reminder that God is always with us! Each day we can come to him and ask that his Spirit fill us with HOPE, PROMISE, and a COMMITTMENT to follow HIM:

Almighty God, it is through the life, death, and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ that we now come boldly to this moment. What you began long ago, make fresh in this hour, we pray, and continue in us forever. We have come in need, reminded of the emptiness of much of life, yet full of hope because of your promise, and supported by love that has reached out to us and taken root among us. Let your Holy Spirit work in us now, so that our words and thoughts may be true prayers, and our acts of dedication adequate responses to your goodness, mercy, and grace, through Christ we pray.  Amen  

Thanks for letting me share this with all of you. I miss our sweet time of fellowship at DCC and look forward to the time we can all be together in REAL-TIME again! Stay healthy and be BLESSED!

Cindi McDonald, elder

Uniters in a Divided World

Pastor Jim asked me to write a devotional.  I normally stick to serving in the music ministry (playing drums), but here are my “Safer at Home” thoughts in this new Covid-19 world:

Our recent sermon series covering the current big and controversial topics in the press and society really got me thinking. As Christians are we supposed to identify as “red” or “blue” politically – or should we have a completely different identity that isn’t really either “red” or “blue”?

One of my favorite guiding principles in Scripture is Matthew 25:34-36:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’”

What would Jesus do when it comes to helping the less fortunate? Would he let politics divide his people? I don’t think so. Our guiding principles should be based on scripture.  

As a country we have become so politically divided that common ground is increasingly hard to find and hate often displaces love and compassion. If we are going to be “light and salt” in our communities, we also need to handle the politically divisive stuff differently too – and rise above it, guided by the Spirit.

When we truly demonstrate “The fruit of the Spirit” in our lives, others will want what we have and we will be like a magnet for the church and for Jesus. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Gal 5:22-23).

Father, help us to be Uniters in a divided world, and help us find our identity not in this world but in your Son… especially during this very challenging time.

Dana Christiansen, drummer guy!

From Daily to Weekly Devotionals

Now that the county is beginning to open up, we are changing our devotions. We will be sending out a devotion every Wednesday to give you a middle-of-the-week chance to reflect and pray. 

Remember to join us for church this morning at 10:00 a.m. as we live-stream our services on our DCC YouTube channel. You can easily access it by going to dillonchurch.org/live. And don’t forget to access Julie’s video for your children.

If you want to join us for communion, we’ll be serving drive-through communion today from 11:30-1:30. Drive around back and we’ll meet you at the rear entrance. No need to get out of your car!

In this together with you,

Jim Howard, pastor

Beauty Through Time

“She was to me more than the Shulamite to the singing king, fairer, more spotless; a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.”  

Simonides speaking of his late wife, in Ben Hur

It’s not very popular these days to speak of one’s wife in these ways, although it could be amusing to drop this line at a party. When I read this line, though, I was struck by how truncated my view today is. With my media-saturated sized brain, I have come to think, though not necessarily by choice, about women in a somewhat two-dimensional fashion. As a young single man, meaning no offense, the woman I wanted to be with was yea tall, athletic, funny, endowed with “huge tracts of land,” and gorgeous. Now as an older very happily married man I look at that list and realize how far and wide it misses the mark; and this is not to say that I am more than pleased with Darla’s physical appearance. “A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon” – each of these metaphors capture the essence of being with a woman through time and hit more closely to her character and what her character brings forth. 

This notion of character expressing itself through time I find almost completely absent in our current day rendering of the “perfect woman.” Since being married to Darla, I have been so steadily blessed by her that this notion of her person being compared to a garden, a well of living water, and a river seems perfectly fitting. She is always bringing laughter into our house. She cares for our boys and me in ways of which I wouldn’t even think. She blesses us and people around her with compassion and support. She is thoughtful and generous with her time and money. When she speaks, her words bring life and laughter, strength and encouragement. And she is always like this. Well…almost always. Like a river or a garden or a well, she is continually bringing refreshment, encouragement, strength, laughter. I am free around her. She is my home and that makes her beautiful. 

I write this because I find this way of viewing the human person missing in our day and age and yet it is so very helpful. How do we view ourselves? As a constant place like a garden that provides rest and refreshment, safety and strength? As a well from which people can drink and are set at ease so much so that their hearts become light and bring forth laughter? As a constant stream that has the means to provide good things for those whom the Lord sends our way? For me, understanding myself in this time-enduring way is inspiring and feels like setting my course by the ever fixed north star that will serve as an inspiration for my feet until one day I am finally home.

Rob Schmidt, pastor of worship and arts

The Empty Places

Some of our women have been involved with a study that looks at what is “missing” or, the “holes” in our lives. How God deals with that, and what effect it has on our faith.

This time of separation, and, in some cases, alone-ness, has definitely allowed space to evaluate and contemplate the holes that exist in our lives and in our blanket of faith. My blanket is pretty holey, for sure. It reflects the stretching and rending of a willful life, the stain of tears shed in despair, the fraying of disappointment and dashed hopes, the shreds of prayers not answered to my liking. It also represents some of the self-inflicted holes I have “poked” into my blanket – from just being ornery!

My holey blanket is also a holy reminder of the promise that God will fill all the empty places in my life with his grace, if I accept it; with his hope, if I will let it in; with his redemption if I embrace it.

Stay hopeful, as God will redeem us, and we will be able to really embrace again!

Jude Mitchell, church lady

What will I do differently after this is all over?

Something I keep asking myself lately is “How will life be different after COVID-19?” And “How will I DO life differently when this is all over?” I honestly don’t know. Goodness, there’s so much I don’t know in these strange times.

There’s been a lot of talk about grace recently. When I say “grace” I mean it in the non-Christian context: basically, meaning let’s give each other a break. And let’s give ourselves a break and not beat ourselves up! Some of the more encouraging social media posts involve people saying things like “We are all trying to figure this out,” or “Stop judging people if they are doing things differently than you right now” or… “Give people grace.” These kinds of comments resonate with me the most because I certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers about this mysterious virus and this strange time we are in as a world.

So, grace. That’s how I want to be different when all this is over. I want to give it more freely and share Jesus’ story of grace with people. A lot of people are talking about it right now but they don’t know what it REALLY means. Grace being the gift that is freely given by God so that we can walk with him and know him intimately. Really the best gift anyone can ask for! Jesus probably does that a hundred times (or more!) a day for me. He loves me in spite of my faults and failures. If only I can be that kind of person to every person I encounter. 

Darla Schmidt, admin assistant

MR. ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

(Gal 5:14)

As I reflect on my spiritual journey, I am thankful for my many mentors that took the time to patiently help me gain a glimpse into God’s truths. My most recent spiritual mentor was Mr. Rogers. Yes, that’s right, Fred Rogers of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Now I must confess that I was never a big fan of Mr. Rogers when his show became nationally syndicated. I suspect, as a very cool 15 year old with bangs that touched my eyebrows, that I may have watched him for all of about three minutes before quickly turning to Man from Uncle, Laugh-In, Star Trek or even Lassie or Mickey Mouse

Nothing would have been more embarrassing than to have one of my buddies or my older brother walk in and see me watching the slow-speaking, sweater-wearing, dorky Mr. Rogers. Even when my kids were small, I never took the time to sit with them and watch Mr. Rogers. Although I didn’t have to fear my brother walking in on me, I was just way too busy to dedicate my very valuable time watching Mr. Rogers slow routine: walk  in the door, take his coat off, change his shoes, change into his trademark cardigan sweater, all while singing the show’s theme song, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

My wife and I recently watched A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a movie starring Tom Hanks that gives a humorous and revealing glimpse into the life of Fred Rogers. Fred Rogers started his career as a producer and puppeteer on a local TV show in Pittsburg, was ordained as a  Presbyterian Minister,  and finally became a beloved household name producing, writing the scripts and songs, and hosting over 900 shows over 33 years. While not necessarily a theological giant, Mr. Rogers provided important lessons on how we should accept ourselves and others and to love everyone in our neighborhood.  

While these are hardly new revelations, Mr. Rogers lived out his love for others in a unique and consistent way. Fred Rogers, as an international celebrity, was arguably busier than most of us, yet he took time to get to know many of the folks he met. He carried a camera to photograph these new friends, and created files with their pictures, along with details from his conversations with them, their families, their passions, work, joys and struggles. Mr. Rogers took the time to listen and held that “listening… is a prerequisite of love. One of the most essential ways of saying ‘I love you’ is being a receptive listener.”

Fred Rogers once stated that every day, he gave an expression of care to each child to “help him realize that he is unique” and would end each program by saying, “You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you. And I like you just the way you are.”

As we near the end of our self-isolation and as we hopefully move into days with more freedom, maybe we can remember just a few of the very practical, transformative practices of Mr. Rogers: to listen more intently, care more deeply and pray more purposefully and intensely.

Steve Hill, elder