Great Lakes Church
Dave Nelson

Toxic Relationships (Part 1)

As we kick off this holiday season, most of us will be forced to interact with some sort of toxic family member that has the potential of ruining Thanksgiving or Christmas for us. There is almost no way of escaping this. Noxious people are everywhere.

Maybe for you, it's the drama queen in your life... or an angry person... or maybe it's the critic... or chronic complainer. Regardless of who it is, you have two choices:

Choice #1 - Set up boundaries with the toxic person, by limiting your time and/or conversations around them.

Choice #2 - Add fuel to the fire by using your words, actions or attitude to stir up the poison that you know is inside the toxic person.

This is pretty much a no-brainer.

Do you remember Mark Wolford? He was the snake handling pastor from West Virginia who died earlier this year when a venomous snake bit and killed him. I hope I don't come across as lacking compassion, but c'mon... this guy was D-U-M-B. Years earlier he watched his dad die from being killed by a snake. You can't mess with something that is potentially lethal and cross your fingers hoping to be unharmed.

So be nice to toxic people this holiday season and most likely you'll be okay!

By the way, here's a photo of Pastor Mark...


Toxic Fear (Part 2)

If you're looking for ways to eliminate fear from your life, I've got some pretty bad news... it's not going to happen. Self-doubt, insecurity, irrational thinking, and at times, a feeling of hopelessness will dominate our life during various seasons. There's really no way of escaping it. 

Fear is a God-given emotion and it's here to stay.

Although it sounds nice in theory, a fear free life would not be a good thing. It would actually be a catalyst for self-destruction. That's because there are a lot of things we should be afraid of!

The fear of not providing for our family can motivate us to work harder.
The fear of being overweight can lead us to take care of our health.
The fear of losing a connection with our kids can fuel us to be active and involved in our parenting.

But like almost anything in life that's left unguarded, fear can become a bad thing. Instead of moving us towards action, it can paralyze us into inaction.

That's why we always have to keep our fears in check. We do this by remembering what God told Joshua many times as he transitioned into the leader of Israel after Moses, "Be strong and courageous, because I am with you wherever you go." 

Do you really believe that? It's true. God is with you wherever you go!

Toxic Fear (Part 1)

If you've ever heard Disney's annoying song "It's a small world", then you know how easy it is for a message to get trapped inside your brain and replay itself over and over again. Our minds have an amazing ability to retain information! That's why we think so much.

Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff we think about has a negative impact on us...
  • A struggling economy
  • Terrorism
  • The "crisis of the day"
  • Scandal
  • War
...the list goes on.

And whether it's because of fear mongering, urban legends or even a little dose of reality... there is no question that we have evolved into a culture of fear. We're are afraid of everything!

The irony is that as Christ Followers we ought to be the most optimistic people on the face of the earth. In fact, Psalm 27:1 provides this insight, "The Lord is my light and my salvation-so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?"

King David, who penned those words, was actually a pretty fearful guy. He was driven by some of his biggest insecurities. Yet he worked at disciplining his mind to remember this very simple truth...


Toxic Words (Part 2)

Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences."

Think about that. 

The words you speak to your spouse, or co-workers, or kids are either bringing life to them or death. 

Something as simple as a word or phrase has the power to build others up or tear them down. It has the power to energize someone's day or ruin their day. It has the power to motivate them to do something great with their life or do nothing with their life. It's has the power to help them discover their talents or blind them from their talents.

Do not minimize the power of your words.

Here are some simple phrases that can help you bring life to someone else today...

Thank you.
I'm proud of you.
I love you.
I'm grateful for...
You're really good at...
I'm privileged to be able to... (ie - go to work today, live in a free country, etc.)

On average, we speak about 16,000 words a day. How are you going to use your words?

Toxic Words (Part 1)

James 1:26 is of the most intense verses in all the Bible. Here's what it says...

"If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless."

Wow. That's more than intense. It's scary!

Think about how many outlets we have to express what we're thinking: Facebook, Twitter, blogs, texting, email, instant messaging, YouTube, cell phones, and more. Within seconds, our unfiltered, cheap and irrevocable words have the potential to nullify our religion.

Gossip... Hate-filled rants... Negativity... Lies... Manipulation... Belittling... Cynicism... All of those things somehow overshadow the praying, giving and serving we do in any religious environment.

That's why one of the best prayers we can pray is from Psalm 19:14, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."

Toxic Thoughts (Part 2)

I just watched an interesting documentary on Netflix called, "Happy". It's a film that features various studies on what it takes for people to be happy. Here are some of the discoveries worth noting:

50% of our happiness is determined by genetics... 40% is determined by our actions and thoughts... and 10% is determined by external circumstances (money, health, weather, etc).

Did you catch that? 10% of our happiness is determined by stuff we have very little control over, but spend a lot of time pursuing. 40%, however, is determined by things that are totally within our control. Things like...

- Spending time with family and friends
- Regularly expressing appreciation and gratitude to others
- Choosing to have an active lifestyle (doing things with other people)
- Serving people through kindness and actions

Basically what this means is that the people who choose to live their life with and/or for the benefit of others are the ones who end up being the most happy!
Another interesting discovery was this: After our basic needs are met, external circumstances matter very little. They noted that the happiness rating between someone making $5K a year as compared to $50K a year was dramatic. However, the difference between a person making $50K a year and someone making $50,000,000 a year was hardly noticeable.

Wow! Choose happiness.

Toxic Thoughts (Part 1)

My guess is that regardless of what time of day you're reading this, you've already been assaulted with negative, discouraging, cynical or discontented thoughts.

There is almost no way of escaping this. Toxic thinking is everywhere.

That's why it's possible to live in one of the most blessed times in the history of the world and still trick our minds into believing that true happiness is just one purchase... or one promotion... or one relationship away.


Train your mind to think differently, as Philippians 4:8 talks about:

...Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Regardless of the situation...

It's possible to find something to complain about or be grateful for.
It's possible to find the good or the bad.
It's possible to find something that increases your worry or increases your faith.

One of the biggest lessons that life teaches us is that you will find what you're looking for.

So look for the good today!

The Complicated Story of Great Lakes Church...

The story of our church, like many other churches, is filled with highs and lows. This past Sunday, we showed a 44 minute documentary that was filmed & edited by a former staff member, Tony Peterson, and his amazing crew of volunteers! It captures the heart of what we do and tells the story of how God is able to connect random people, events and painful circumstances in order to turn a dream into a reality.

Thanks to everyone who has bought into the crazy idea of creating a church for people who don't go to church. I'm excited to see what the next chapter of our journey looks like.
If you haven't seen the video, here it is. Hope you enjoy.

We Were Part of This...

At the end of 2011, Great Lakes Church decided to financially support and help launch Saints Community Church in New Orleans.

Despite the fact that we have different styles of helping people find and follow Jesus, we are both committed to the idea that faith without action is useless (James 2:17).

Yesterday, while in Louisiana, President Obama gave a shout-out to a church that was helping people deal with the devastation of Hurricane Isaac in a practical way. He was referring to the work of Saints Community Church, who sent people out on Sunday morning to help some of the victims.

When I saw this, I was totally pumped knowing that the people of GLC gave money to help start a church that we would never personally benefit from, but other people would!

You can watch the shout-out around the 6 minute mark...

The Best Is Yet To Come!

Great Lakes Church has been on an amazing journey over the past four years.

48 months ago, in August of 2008, my family and I packed everything we owned into an ABF moving truck and make the 2000 mile journey from Seattle, WA to Kenosha, WI. 

Our hope and dream was to launch a church that made it easy for people to find and follow Jesus Christ. And although there have been a lot of ups and downs in our journey, we've been able to see the beginning of our dream unfold . So as I prepare for our upcoming vision series, "Losing My Religion"... I have more energy that a 6 year old with ADHD. This is a very exciting time for us!!!!

There are lots of great memories behind us and a whole lot of vision in front of us. Without trying to create too much hype, I really do believe that the best is yet to come.

So my prayer today, and throughout the upcoming series, is the same one that Habakkuk prayed thousands of years ago...

"Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known..."   Habakkuk 3:2

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