Pastor Don Wolan

Pastor Donald Wolan
Downriver Christian Community Church
Melvindale, Michigan

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kids Say the Darndest Things!

When I was a kid, one of the funniest shows on television in the weekday afternoon hours was the Art Linkletter Show. Staying home from school in the late 60s was not the fun time it is now with access to the Internet, Facebook, Skype, hundreds of cartoon television networks on cable TV, or a multitude of computer games accessible from phones, tablets, or home computers. In my day, we had four regular television stations and three or four VHF stations. Television shows were very limited for a "sick" kid staying home and knowing which programs were on when could make the difference between going to school or faking a sickness to stay home from school and enjoy the day off.  There was NOTHING worse than staying at home watching Bill Kennedy at the Movies or one of my mother's afternoon soap operas! Going to school was better than enduring an afternoon filled with that plateful of nonsensical slop, so a "sick" kid had to know his stuff if he were going to pull a fast one on his mother and enjoy a day of pampered service and cartoon hilarity!

Art Linkletter, on the other hand, was a show that aired every day in the early afternoon and was an adult exception to a day full of kids' entertainment. Art Linkletter hosted a show in which kids were asked questions about what they wanted to be as adults or some other leading question about them or their families. The answers the kids gave were funny and came across with a sense of innocence that led to making their answers even funnier. This portion of the Art Linkletter show was a favorite with everyone and spawned a copycat version hosted by Bill Cosby later in the 80s.

The reason I mention this particular show is I was thinking about the darndest things that many Christians say. Sayings that we have all heard a multitude of times, but leave us with the same sort of  astonishment and laughter because of how ridiculous or how apparently "Biblical" they sound. How many times have you heard the following "darndest things" coming from the mouths of Christians?

  • God knows my heart! (Yes, it is deceitfully wicked above all things... - Jeremiah 17:9)
  • God wants you to have the best life possible now! (Take up your cross and follow me... - Luke 9:23)
  • Don't judge anyone! (Stop judging by mere appearances and make righteous judgments... - John 7:24)
  • You have to forgive everyone! (If you don't forgive their sin, their sin will not be forgiven! - John 20:23)
  • God told me to...! (Something that clearly contradicts scripture! - Isaiah 8:20)


In this day of religious confusion, distortion, outright challenge, and denial, it is imperative that we as followers of Christ represent him in the most accurate way possible. Pithy sayings and humanistic platitudes dominate the speech and thinking of most Christians rather than a solid foundation and knowledge of God's Holy Word for the many difficult questions people ask or the circumstances people find themselves in. May we wholeheartedly devote ourselves to the meditation and study of God's Word in 2013 as we continue to present God's way of salvation for mankind. Let us quit saying the "darndest things" we Christians are known for and present to a world in desperate need of God's wisdom the solid knowledge of God's Holy Word!

Stay Holy, My Friends!

Pastor Don

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Recently, I had a dream in which I was standing next to a small ranch house that I knew was mine. The house and yard were clean and well-kept on the outside, except for a small porch that was near the side door. The porch itself was not very high off the ground - maybe two feet high at the most. The porch was made out of cinder blocks and it appeared as if someone were breaking it apart to put a new porch on the house. Most of the cinder block was broken, and a dirt infill was supporting the inside of the small porch walls. As I stood in the driveway looking at the house and porch, rats began running to and fro all over the drive, yard, and broken porch. The rats were trying to get into the house, but could not find an entrance in order to get in. Suddenly, all the rats disappeared by running in all directions away from the house. There were two rats left near the house. One climbed up through the siding, but still could not get into the house while another ran into a hole that was in the dirt of the broken up porch. I remember trying to step on the rats to kill them, thinking to myself that the house would really be nice if I could just get rid of these nasty rats.

When I arrived at church that morning, I told Bob Cassady the dream I had because he was standing in the driveway with me in my dream. Bob is someone I always check out dreams or some type of discernment with because of his spiritual giftings. Bob and I had a good laugh about the dream and pretty much knew what God was trying to show me. The only other person that I shared the dream with was Carolyn Russell, and she probably thought I was pulling her leg as usual.

Later that night, I received a phone call from Sherry Menchaca. She told me that she had just called Bob Cassady because she had a weird dream on Sunday morning and wanted to see what Bob thought about it. As she began to tell Bob about her dream, Bob began to laugh at her. Poor Sherry was probably thinking that Bob was laughing at her, but he was laughing because he "knew" what was coming. She began to tell him that she was at a house in her dream and rats began running all over the yard looking for  way to get into the house. Sherry thought to herself that the rats could not get into the house because the foundation ran too deep. All of a sudden, the rats took off in all different directions and disappeared. There was one rat remaining who did not run off. He looked at Sherry, but Sherry stared him down and said to the rat I know who you are. The rat then slowly tucked his head and ran away.

The Downriver "Rat"!

After Sherry finished relaying the dream to me, I told her about the dream that I had and the confirmation her dream was to mine. I also told her what the interpretations to the dreams were and the importance of keeping an eye out for things that would try to infiltrate our lives to undermine our spiritual integrity and health. There are numerous "rats" in our lives that would work behind the scenes, bringing pestilence and death to wherever their infected bodies might transverse. As Christians, we are told to keep a diligent watch over our lives, hearts, and thoughts keeping them unstained by the world or the world's ideas.  When these "rats" gain a foothold, they multiply, quickly destroying whatever structure they might be in or under.

When the Philistines in the book of Judges captured the ark of the covenant from the Israelites in battle and took it back into their country, God struck them with a plague of rats. The rats destroyed their crops, infested their houses, transmitted disease throughout their towns, and made life miserable for the inhabitants of the Philistine territories. The Philistines pleaded with their leaders to get rid of the ark for they knew that the rat problem was associated with their possession of the ark. Once the ark was sent back to where it rightfully belonged, the rat problem stopped and life returned to normal.

First Samuel chapter 6 says:
When the ark of the Lord had been in Philistine territory seven months, the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we should send it back to its place.”
They answered, “If you return the ark of the god of Israel, do not send it back to him without a gift; by all means send a guilt offering to him. Then you will be healed, and you will know why his hand has not been lifted from you.”
The Philistines asked, “What guilt offering should we send to him?”
They replied, “Five gold tumors and five gold rats, according to the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers.  Make models of the tumors and of the rats that are destroying the country, and give glory to Israel’s god. Perhaps he will lift his hand from you and your gods and your land. Why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? When Israel’s god dealt harshly with them, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way?

May we be watchful and diligent in our prayer lives and our walks with Jesus, continually being on guard against those "rats" that would infiltrate and destroy the work God is doing in each of us as well as our country. This year, may we keep our eyes open and our hearts ready for attack as we continually face the unrelenting onslaught from these "rats"! 

Stay Holy, My Friends!


Pastor Don

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


For those of you who may get bored by the doldrums of the winter months and are constantly looking for an activity that looks fun, adventurous, and extreme, may I suggest you investigate the sport of Zorbing! For those of you who do not know what zorbing is, let me try to explain the rudimentary rules. First of all, zorbing involves getting inside a large plastic air inflated ball that can hold one or two full grown men. Next, the ball is rolled down a hill or the person inside the ball moves it like a hamster by walking or running inside it. Since the ball is made of a very durable and safe plastic, the ball can withstand great outside pressure and will not pop or lose the air cushion of protection. People use these Zorb Balls to run races, walk on water, fall down ski hills, or just about any other crazy idea that would seem like a good time.

Recently, two Russian men got inside one of these Zorb Balls and decided to go down a ski slop. They were told that the ball was safe and that it would not roll off course. They were also told that everything was going to be ok - not to worry, just enjoy the ride! They were also told that there was a man at the bottom of the hill who would stop the ball once it reached the bottom of the hill. Well once the "ride" began, there was no way to control the Zorb Ball or the direction it would take. The men also could not get out of the ball once it started moving. Unfortunately for the two men inside the Zorb, it went off course and over a cliff, down a mountain and left one of the men dead and the other one seriously wounded. So much for it being "safe," "won't roll off course," or that "everything was going to be "ok." Watch the following video for the unfortunate real "ride" these two men went on.


I could not help think about people who take other people at their word when it comes to traveling a certain direction in their lives. They are told by these people that everything will be alright and fun, that it is safe - just enjoy the ride and someone will be there to stop you at the bottom. No type of background or character check is done on the men who control the ride or the safety record of the ride. They are believed or trusted on the basis of faith in their word.

Many Christians have made the same foolish decision to "get into the ball" based only on the good faith word of those controlling the ball or the idea that "it looks safe and others have done it." There may be no greater example of foolishness within the church today than believing these two simpleton ideas.

The Bible says in Proverbs 16:25:
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death and wide is the road which leads to destruction!
The Bible says in Matthew 7:13:
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

Taking someone at their word without having a solid Biblical foundation for the trust in the first place will always result in the same disaster that the two Russian men experienced. Getting into a supposedly safe-looking environment, rolling off the proper course, moving without any direction or control, trusting that man can stop us and our plummeting while eventually going over the cliff and falling to our death is a risk many Christians not only make but also take to their detriment.

As we progress into 2013, may we be aware of the pitfalls and traps laid out before us this year. May we test everything and hold fast to that which is good and be suspicious of those offering us a "new, exciting, and relevant ride," "safe from danger," and that "everything will be okay"! May we proceed with diligent caution, heeding the advice of Christ to take the narrow path. It may be the slow, boring, and safe path, but it will lead to safety and eternal life, not a tumble downhill and toward death.

Stay Holy, My Friends!

Pastor Don

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Aztec Two Step!


Years ago, I was looking for a professional plastic chess set in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I had been searching the Internet for a local chess store in the Detroit area and the nearest one I could find was 40 miles away in Ann Arbor! I did not want to purchase a set sight unseen so I packed up one of my sons and we went to Ann Arbor in search of the store and a chess set.

I found the store I was looking for on Main Street in Ann Arbor after parking three blocks away, paying a ridiculous amount for parking, and then taking nearly an hour to find the store in the busy section of town. I probably walked past the store ten times as I walked back and forth, up and down the street looking for the store's address.

When I went inside the front doors, there was a long, large stairway leading down into a dark and dirty basement area. The lighting in the stairway was negligible, but the old musty smell of the wet basement brought images of a New York sewer system to my mind. As I descended the stairway, I fully expected to see a sign at the bottom of the stairway reading, "Abandon hope all ye who enter here!" At the bottom of the staircase stood a large wooden door that was made of oak and was warped into the door frame. Advertisements of visiting poets, musicians, political events, and causes blanketed both sides of the stairway as well as the door in front of me. After muscling the door open, I went inside.

Inside the basement room, my eyes slowly adjusted to the low level of light. Through a glass wall, I could see another room with all sorts of chess games in it. I went through a second door tentatively and yelled out a hello to anyone who may have been in the room working. Nobody responded to my loud greeting, so I walked in and made myself at home. As I was looking at the different chess sets, music came over a couple of loud speakers and a small man came out of a back room. This man was approximately 5' tall, of medium weight, bald on top of his head with long gray a pony tail dangling from the back. His clothes consisted of a tie-dyed shirt, worn jeans, and leather sandals - just like a hippie from the 1960's!


I introduced myself to the man and, after a little frivolous chatter, I soon realized this man had probably been sequestered in that store basement since the 1960's with no change in this man's life except the loss of hair and an occasional outsider coming into the store every blue moon. The music on the loud speakers was animating the man in such a way that there was a bounce in his step as he walked around the store with me. Trying to be nice, I asked the man if that was a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song that was playing and that he was singing along to. With a look of utter contempt, he told me that the song was The Persecution and Restoration of Dean Moriarty by Aztec Two Step! The what by who I said! The Persecution and Restoration of Dean Moriarty by Aztec Two Step he proudly stated again! When I told the man that I never heard of the song or the group and that they still sounded like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to me, I could see his hippie blood pressure rise without the aid of illegal drug stimulants. He launched into a history lesson about the group, their unrecognized musical genius talent, and the public's perverted and uneducated view of what constituted great counterculture revolutionary music!  

I retell this somewhat humorous story as we head into a new year because I want to correlate it to the actions of most of the modern church. The old hippie was keeping watch over his small chess empire and relishing in days and experiences long past, refusing to move on with his life into a new future and content with living separated from reality. Similarly, most of the modern church and its people have retreated into a hermetically-sealed protective spiritual zone and have refused to face and address the needs of society as well as those in their churches. We have adopted the Rodney King philosophy of "can't we all just get along?" without the slightest inclination to judge actions and teachings that have flooded into the church and that will eventually render the church impotent, irrelevant, and defeated!

Indeed, we have all the trappings of being alive and relevant - latest Christian songs, numerous children programs, various mission outreaches, hip clothes, and whatever else passes for "The Christian Experience" these days, but the real power of Christianity is in covenantal committed relationships. Relationships, first of all, between Jesus and us. Secondly, relationships between his people - the church. Both these relationships, however, must be subjugated to the authority of God's holy word for their genuineness and legitimacy as well as their source of strength! To claim to be a "church" where Biblical covenant relationships are non-existent or superficial is to have a body without the beating heart and is a prime example of a "church" operating outside of any covenantal or Biblical context. This type of "church" is but a mere shadow of the real thing. Without a willingness and dedication to get to know our brothers and sisters on more than just an external level will leave a church with superficial relationships that will eventually erode once the real business of living and working with each other gets underway or when real persecution suddenly arrives. The early church in the book of Acts met daily, broke bread, prayed, worshiped, and lived together. They were intimately involved with each other's lives down to the smallest detail and proved it by the laying down of their property and lives for each other. This type of Biblical covenantal relationship transformed the entire Roman world in a matter of 40 years and changed the course of history forever.

As we head into 2013, may we come out of the proverbial basement, change our sense of time and what is really important - covenant with our Lord and with each other. Let's march confidently into the upcoming year with a new vision to serve the king and each other with renewed vision, strength, and purpose. Let us stop living in the past and upon past accomplishments and push out into deep waters to harvest a new catch. And unlike Aztec Two Step that was limited to a particular audience and small geographical influence, we have been called to disciple all men and all nations with the life changing and good news of the Gospel! Now, that's a two step I can dance to!


Stay Holy, My Friends!

Pastor Don