Pastor Don Wolan

Pastor Donald Wolan
Downriver Christian Community Church
Melvindale, Michigan

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Jokers Are Wild

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." - Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities
"Perception is more important than reality"
Lou Holtz former college Hall of Fame football coach

How do we view reality and judge various actions as being either right or wrong? In the famous novel A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, the view and judgement of the times and circumstances depended upon the societal positional view lived under and accepted. If an individual was part of the ruling elite during the French Revolution and was being demonized by the poor uneducated mobs, his view indicated that trouble was brewing and his head would soon be demanded as payment for perceived crimes. If a person was part of the repressed and despised majority, liberation was at hand and a new and glorious day was dawning. Perspective - the way we view reality - dictates to us what we believe reality, as well as right and wrong, ultimately to really be!

Some people believe that reality is not the world they live in and that everything in this world is merely an illusion. The real world exists in some other dimension that they lack direct knowledge about, but that they know exists! Like Neo, the main character in the movie Matrix, reality was the world he lived in prior to taking a red pill. In reality, that world was really all an illusion to him! The true reality for Neo was a dark and foreboding world controlled by machines creating an alternate reality for the rest of humanity under their diabolical control!


In the movie Inception, the lines of reality were blurred by different levels of dream consciousness! Each dream level was reality to the dreamer, but not the actual reality they truly lived in. Determining which level was the real level of ultimate reality was a very difficult task for both the audience and those in the storyline. To be trapped in a sub-level of dream reality could quickly become the true reality for the dreamer! Whew!

Movies like these give us cause to pause and reflect on what ultimate reality really is and how we can know what it completely entails. Atheists will insist that ultimate reality is nothing more than all matter and energy in the universe. Hindus believe ultimate reality is Brahman. Brahman is non-dual pure consciousness, indivisible, incorporeal, infinite, and all-pervading like the sky. Brahman is of the nature of existence-knowledge-bliss-absolute-the ground of all existence, basis of all awareness, and source of all bliss. It is the reality of all realities, the soul of all souls, one without a second, the constant witness of the changing phenomena of the universe. From the absolute point of view, Brahman alone exists.

As Christians, the Bible reveals to us an existence and reality beyond this life. This reality is outside of our space and time dimension but intimately entangled with it. To understand this basic scriptural truth is to have a foundation for all the other things we believe about the world and the way it works. To accept this view is to accept the total worldview that flows from it. On the other hand, to reject this view will leave one with a false view of reality and establish a different set of core beliefs about the world and the way it works.

The Bible says in Proverbs 23:7: For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.

According to the Bible, a man's thinking is very important and will determine what kind of person he will develop into and how he will perceive reality. If the thinking is good, the man will be good. If the thinking is evil, the man will be evil. Pretty simple stuff until we understand the things that influence thinking in the first place. Ideas that influence our thinking make their way into our hearts through an assortment of avenues. Cultural mores, education, entertainment, religious training, associates, and various philosophies all contribute to shaping us as human beings. Author Richard M. Weaver wrote the famous book Ideas Have Consequences and investigated the role ideas have in the formation of our beliefs and actions.

Just recently, a lone gunman walked into a crowded theater in Colorado and opened fire on the patrons of a movie with a high powered assault rifle. The movie that was playing that night was the new Batman movie - The Dark Knight Rises - and was one of the most eagerly anticipated movies in recent years. Theaters around the country were packed for the midnight opening night showing of this popular series finale and viewers were very excited to see and participate in the circus-like atmosphere surrounding the event. Shortly after the movie began in the Colorado theater, the tragic events unfolded and pandemonium ensued. Twelve people died and many more dozens were injured and hospitalized. The news quickly went national, and the media quickly descended on the scene trying to get the scoop on the tragedy. The man who committed this horrible crime was taken into police custody as questions quickly surfaced as to the cause behind this man's irrational act. Information concerning who this man was and what he believed or thought was slow in coming, but one piece of information about this man made it to the national press quickly. He was quoted as saying, "I'm the Joker!" To the unobservant, his ridiculous comment made little sense except that he was "copying" and "identifying" himself with the actions of the Joker in the previous Batman movie.

On the other hand, this deranged killer and psychopath might have been trying to communicate to the rest of us his worldview and ethical code. Like the Joker in the Batman movie, The Dark Knight - played by Heath Ledger - this man might have been laying down all his cards for all of us to see. His perception of reality as well as right and wrong might have been that of the Jokers. Perhaps to him, there was no moral code of absolutes, such as right or wrong, and like the Joker, he didn't have to abide by anyone's rules. The Joker tells Batman during the interrogation scene that, "The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules!" This may have been the killer's worldview and philosophy, and he surely was acting it out unashamedly.

The question that troubled me was where did he possibly ever get that kind of idea in the first place? Never mind that we are bombarded continually through movies, the press, the educational establishment, and "experts" that life is really meaningless, there is no God to whom we will have to answer for our actions in this life, man does not possess a soul, and that there is no afterlife to look forward to or prepare for. Like the old Schlitz Beer ad, the world's dominate philosophy says, "You only go around once in life so you've got to grab for all the gusto you can."

The killer who intentionally identified himself with the Batman movie character Joker acted as the Joker would have acted. Exhibiting a total disregard for life or property, this real life Joker acted out in real life the ideas that dominated his mind! Watch the scene from the Batman movie The Dark Knight and listen carefully to the dialog between Batman and the Joker. The Joker laughs at Batman's and the public's "moral" code and tells us what his is.

The gunman in the Colorado theater shooting was logically walking out his own moral belief system that paralleled that of the Joker. If there are really no ultimate rules to abide by - that they are just man-made constructs - and this is what the Joker really believed, then we are free to construct our own reality and make our own rules. In his reality, the Colorado killer did not consider life "sacred" or the taking of it "wrong"! To him, the taking of the lives of other people holds the same moral grounds to him as the taking of the life of some pesty insect. When you make up your own reality, you are the ultimate god everyone has to answer to, and their life or death are in your hands.

May God grant us the wisdom and ability to communicate the life changing and ultimate reality view of the  Gospel of Jesus Christ to all. Ideas really do have consequences - whether good or bad - and are walked out every day by every human being. The battle we face as Christians is a spiritual battle with ideas forming the battle line of engagement. Until the ideas of the gospel win the day in all spheres of life, we can be sure that these type of events will happen on a more frequent and possibly more violent basis. Let us be diligent and faithful to the great commission entrusted to us because the jokers really are wild.

Stay Holy, My Friends!

Pastor Don

Monday, July 16, 2012

Running For Cover?

On July 8th, the Texas Rangers and the Minnesota Twins were finishing out the first half of the 2012 baseball season when a bolt of lightning and a clap of thunder sent players, umpires, and fans scurrying for cover. It wasn't just a distant flash that they saw and noise that they heard. This flash and noise exploded right over the stadium in dramatic style and startled everyone who was there.

Ron Washington, the manager of the Texas Rangers said, "I thought I was dead!" Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire stated that "I've never heard anything like that! It scared everybody!" Mike Napoli, the catcher for the Texas Rangers, was in full catcher gear when the lightning and thunder exploded. He immediately took off running toward the Ranger dugout and said afterwards, "I don't remember what I was doing, but it freaked me out!" Minnesota's Josh Willingham happened to be on first base when he saw and heard the lightning and thunder and hit the dirt immediately. Teammates laughed and said he was making dirt angels. Ben Revere tweeted "My heart stopped when I heard the thunder at the stadium. Glad no one heard me scream like a little girl, too!! Lol." Maybe the funniest quote came from Minnesota's Denard Span:"That's the loudest noise I've ever heard. I thought Jesus was comin!"

It was comical to watch the video of grown men running off the field or hitting the dirt when God just burped. As I meditated on this comical event, I begin to think about the intimidation and impact loud and boisterous proclamations from the world's leading voices have upon the church and its mission. "Experts" declaring that there is no God, that life came about through random processes, that Christian morality is a detriment to any civilization's progress and enlightenment, or many other declarations have sent numerous Christians running for cover or hitting the ground in fear with their faith greatly shaken!

I was recently approached by a person who was shocked that someone in a church community actually believed in "millions of years of evolution" and "space aliens seeding the planet with life!" This was too much for this person to bear and believe! How could someone who has attended church for numerous years even begin to consider that these things were true? I explained to this person that their concern was well grounded and that their astoundment was shared by me as well.

It is a sad fact in many churches that the people who profess to believe in the inerrancy of scripture quickly abandon this belief when challenged by the so-called experts. Just like the lightning bolt and thunder clap that startled fans and players alike and sent them running for cover, so too do many Christians abandon their faith in the inerrancy of scripture and run for cover when their core beliefs are attacked and ridiculed publicly. "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!" They are filled with pride, deception, and false knowledge. They give an illusion of infallibility, power, and authority, but when the curtain is pulled back, they are only fallible and fallen men acting like God speaking authoritatively about reality!


The word of the Lord, however, is true and trustworthy as opposed to the corruptible and changeable word of fallible man. Acts 17:11 states:
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Brothers and sisters, may we constantly examine the teachings and proclamations of the world against the infallible standard of God's Holy Word. May we either hold to or reject them based upon their compliance to God's holy reference and may we stand tall and confident when the lightning and thunder of man's declarations challenge the unshakable foundation of God's holy revelation - the Holy Bible! There is no need to run for cover or fear their powerless displays and attacks, but let us pull back the flimsy curtain of confidence surrounding them, exposing their corrupt intentions and teachings, and make a public spectacle of their thinking to a world ready for God's unchanging truth! When we do this under the anointing and direction of the Holy Spirit, we will see these so called experts running for their lives and running for cover!

Stay Holy, My Friends!

Pastor Don

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

We Are Family!

We Are Family - Sister Sledge
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev'rybody and sing
Ev'ryone can see we're together
As we walk on by
(FLY!) and we fly just like birds of a feather
I won't tell no lie
(ALL!) all of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We're giving love in a family dose

Living life is fun and we've just begun
To get our share of the world's delights
(HIGH!) high hopes we have for the future
And our goal's in sight
(WE!) no we don't get depressed
Here's what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won't go wrong
This is our family Jewel

Sung to the tune of the Gilligan's Island theme music:

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale
A tale of a mission trip
That started in ole Detroit
The morning of June 20th

The team was made of all sorts of saints
Their leaders brave and sure
Ready to minister to everyone
Any time, any place any where!

Any time, any place, anywhere!


They started in San Cayetano
Moving dirt, cement, and sand
Then moved down the road to Pantanal
To give Pastor Lenon's church a hand

At Casa de Nino's with the kids
The women toiled and fared
To clean the rooms and repair broken stuff
They showed the kids they cared

They showed the kids they cared!


Then off to San Blas the team did go
With expectations running high
Through heat, bugs, rain, and dangerous roads
 The bus did have to drive

Once in San Blas, we prepared ourselves
Through prayer and encouragements
To minister to God with all our might
 And then to the plaza we went

And to the plaza we went!


The weather started getting rough
And the team felt really down
But Pastor Don shouted, "Get ready to go,
The ministry MUST go on!"

Into the downpour the team did go
Smiling and working hard through all the rain
They ministered to all in the plaza park
And clearly thought Pastor Don was insane!

They thought Pastor Don was insane!


The next day brought them no relief
The sun was scalding hot
 They started dropping just like flies
From Mexico stomach rot!

The trip back to Tepic was even worse
With sickness taking its toll
They drove through a tropical hurricane
Hitting everything on the road!

Hitting everything on the road!


On Sunday the team was at half strength
So what were they to do?
Remember, the ministry MUST go on!
But who's teaching Sunday School?

While at the church more problems came
Alma was the first to go
Then Bobby Guzman's stomach started to growl
LOOK OUT! He's gonna blow!

LOOK OUT! He's gonna blow!

Bam (Ech)!

On Monday things got even worse
Nine of us were all that were left
To minister in Los Blancos and some tiny town
Not even on a map!

The temperature was a million degrees
With all our water now gone
No toilet for a bathroom break 
Remember, the ministry MUST go on!

The ministry must go on!


We finished Monday tired and worn
So back to the camp we went
Tired from long hot day
And all our strength now spent

The trip was finally over now
All that remained to do was to go home
We thanked the Lord for all he did
Recognizing he's still on the throne

He's still on the throne!


I tell this tale in poetic form
The truth has been stretched a bit
To make you laugh and think about
Joining us on our next mission trip

So if the Lord lays on your heart
To join us in Tepic
Make sure you hydrate really well
Two weeks before the trip!

Two weeks before the trip!


The team thanks you for all your support
Through your prayers and offerings
The seed we laid will bring a harvest
Of praise to our Lord and King!

Our mission trip to Tepic, Mexico was once again very successful and fulfilling with stories of God's amazing work too numerous to be told! Please read all the team members blogs for first-hand accounts of our adventures, challenges, and victories!

I am once again indebted to many people who helped make this trip the success it was. 
  • Thank you to Candace Hodge and Wes Fritz who scouted out the land one week prior to our arrival and had all our supplies ready for the team's arrival and ministry.
  • Thank you to Sarah Callahan for all your research, patience, and insight in preparing the logistics for the team's travel.
  • Thank you to Pastor John for your continued support, financial assistance, and patience with me in the midst of this year's preparation. 
  • Thank you to Carol Russell and Mark Hogan whose assistance with leading the team allowed me to address other matters while in Mexico.
  • Thank you to ALL the team members who went this year. I will NEVER forget your enthusiasm, your dedication to the Lord, and your ministry in behalf of his glory! I can never thank you enough or with words that would really reflect how much I appreciate your sacrifice and  dedication.
  • Finally, I want to thank ALL the Downriver Christian Community Church family and friends whose prayers, words of encouragement, and generosity in financial support helped make this trip the success it was. May God richly bless everyone and return back to you a hundredfold increase!

I think the highlight for me this year were the daily devotionals that each team member gave. I was utterly amazed at the preparation and insight each team member had with applying the scripture to our daily situations and at the seriousness in which each member presented their devotion to the rest of us. The following is a list of each member's devotional topic. PLEASE ask them about the devotionals - you will really be surprised at the depth of understanding and insight their teachings brought forth!    

Team Members and their Devotional Topics:

Mark Hogan: Preparation
Ashley Haring: Prepared for Good Works
Kim Mott: Psalm 150
Candace Browning: Work
Cynthia DeLeon: Inadequacy
Candace Hodge: From the Pit to the Mountain
Renee DeMaggio: The Master Craftsman
Barb Kanalos: Left out, Relax and Let Go, Holy Spirit
Toni Bugeja: The Love Letter
Wes Fritz: Being a Servant
Samii Ismail: David and Goliath
Ed Lindlbauer: From the Valley to the Mountain Top
Mayra DeLeon: Included and Developed Friends
Bobby Ramirez: True Worship!
Tyler Mott: Perseverance, Stand in the Gap, Strong Leadership!
Josh O'Rourke: Beautiful Feet!
Miguel Peguero: Building Strong Relationships with Each Other, Iron Sharpening Iron!
Alma Villarreal: The Hurricane!
Codey Haring: The Road to Persevering!
Bobby Guzman: Take the Land!
Jacob Walls: God's Will and Plan is the Best Will and Plan Cause God's an Awesome Man
Mark Hogan: The End 

Stay Holy, My Friends!

Pastor Don