“Losing People”

It’s such a paradox. I don’t think there are words to clearly descibe the emotions. It’s that deep bittersweet feeling of losing someone really important in your life, and also rejoicing in their personal victory over death.

Last week, 2 Very Loved People (VLPs) in my life here in Arthur, left this world, to begin anew with God.

Sandy Dolan: an amazing trailblazer of a young woman and a saintly teacher of God’s Word as an older woman. The number of people whose lives she touched and changed seems to be endless. I just happen to come along toward the end of her earthly life, but still I reaped all the blessings of her spirit for God and for children. And we are ALL Sandy’s children. Even now … or maybe even more so now … she continues to bless us all. After all, as Sandy’s children, we now have our own personal Sunday School Angel in heaven. And as hard as the loss of her earthly life is, we now have her spirit for eternity. Let’s apply it wisely.

Lucas Otto: one of the most happy-go-lucky superstars I’ve ever encountered on a ballfield. Lucas had the precious and rare gift of liking everyone on the team. And showing it! Does that sound simple or naïve? It’s neither. It’s difficult and profound. And it’s such a beautiful thing to be around … the way Lucas would joke around and share that great smile (one that I’ll never forget), not just with his friends on the team, but with every player on the team. He united our starters and upperclassmen with our rookies and subs. How? He liked them all … and he loved them all. Lucas was a gifted young man who never put himself above other players. He made friends with all of them. And that’s why so many opposing players and teammates of Lucas – are hurting over this loss. Let’s hold all of them, as we hold Lucas’s family – close to our hearts as we keep lifitng them in prayer.

Funerals are hard for me to attend. My heart breaks to be with so many heartbroken loved ones of the deceased, and the overwhelming expressions of love and gratefulness for one life. Funerals show our true nature – in the end, it’s all about the love, isn’t it? People have many names for funerals these days … for me, it’s more like a love-fest. I just wish we would have more of them for the living, rather than waiting till death comes.

Despite the sadness of losing people in our lives, people that we have risked to love with all we have, there is still, and always, light in the darkness. For everyone. Death is merely a human experience. Earth is the only place that it happens. Sandy and Lucas have left earth, and death, behind. They are free from all that would hold them back from God. And as Jesus told us, there’s a room just for us, too, when we leave death behind. And that day, like these past days, will be full of sadness for those left behind, but then as now, God will bring victory over death, and peace to His people.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

Pastor Bob Silvanik <><                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Read more

God Bless Sandy Dolan

Perhaps you’ve already noticed. Sandy is still with us, and will be till our time comes.  Her spirit is all over our church, in every room, part of every song, within each of our hearts, and watching over us now, so that all our Vine Street kids have their own personal Sunday School Angel in heaven.


Here are some thoughts that I shared yesterday at Sandy’s service. 


Finding Sandy in the Gospels:


  • As the single woman who comes to the altar to present her offering. Of course, she came with children, and she gave all she had. Jesus told his disciples that she gave out of her own poverty. “She put in everything she had,” He said. That’s so Sandy …
  • As the sister of the “rich young man” who came to Jesus to find the key to eternal life. Jesus knew the man’s heart, and told him to sell everything he owned and then give the money to the needy. The man walked away sad, because he owned so much. His sister, however, did as Jesus said and one day inherited eternal life. That’s so Sandy …
  • As the woman at the well, who served Jesus water, and then discovered the meaning of “living water” – the kind He offered. When she drank of that water, she went to her village and saved the whole village. That’s so Sandy …
  • As the woman with the alabaster jar filled with precious oils, who intrudes upon men eating together so that she can anoint her Lord with the oil she has brought. That’s Sandy …
  • As the mother-in-law of Peter, who was ailing with a fever upstairs in her room when Jesus came by. He went up to see her alone; ordered the fever to leave her; and then He lifted her and she began to serve Him. That’s so Sandy.



As you can see by now, Sandy Dolan shows up all through the New Testament. In fact, I’m willing to go so far as to suggest that when 12-year-old Jesus stayed behind in the Temple to be with the scholars and experts in the law, I’m pretty sure it was Sandy in that Temple teaching the Bible to her young student.


Indeed, there is enough Sandy in the New Testament to establish a brand-new gospel …. The “missing fifth gospel has now been discovered – The Gospel of Sandy. It contains the daily situations and encounters Sandy had in our village, and how she and God walked through life serving God and serving people. It’s the Good News of Sandy Dolan!


The 5 things I learned from Sandy:


  • Putting “Kids First” can NEVER be wrong!
  • Never stop teaching the stories of the Bible.
  • Little things done with great love matter a lot!
  • Nothing compares to spending time together with someone.
  • Only when things are beyond your control should you miss Sunday church.


I’m wearing five love bands leftover from VBS this week to remind me of each one of these lessons. If I only make a little progress on 1 or 2 of these, I’ll still be carrying Sandy’s spirit of humility, grace under pressure, peacefulness, meekness and, of course, selflessness. Won’t you join me? I will have a basket of love bands on the front lobby table at church. Pick one up (or five!) for yourself.


  Have a blessed week … but treat each day like it’s the only one we have … love recklessly.

Pastor Bob <><         












Read more

Learning From a Real Smart Guy

 “The Conversation”

(Author unknown)


Professor: You are a Christian, aren’t you, son? Student: Yes, sir.    Professor: So, you believe in GOD? Student: Absolutely, sir.

Professor: Is GOD good? Student: Sure.

Professor: Is GOD all powerful? Student: Yes.


Professor: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to GOD to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But GOD didn’t. How is this GOD good then? Hmm?

(Student was silent.)


Professor: You can’t answer, can you? Let’s start again, young fella. Is GOD good? Student: Yes.

Professor: Is Satan good? Student: No.

Professor: Where does Satan come from? Student: From … GOD …


Professor: That’s right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world? Student: Yes.

Professor: Evil is everywhere, isn’t it? And GOD did make everything. Correct? Student: Yes.

Professor: So, who created evil? (Student did not answer.)


Professor: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don’t they? Student: Yes, sir.

Professor: So, who created them? (Student had no answer.)


Professor: Science says you have 5 Senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son, have you ever seen GOD? Student: No, sir.

Professor: Tell us if you have ever heard your GOD? Student: No , sir.


Professor: Have you ever felt your GOD, tasted your GOD, smelt your GOD? Have you ever had any sensory perception of GOD for that matter? Student: No, sir. I’m afraid I haven’t.

Professor: Yet you still believe in Him? Student: Yes.


Professor: According to Empirical, Testable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says your GOD doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son? Student: Nothing. I only have my faith.

Professor: Yes, faith. And that is the problem Science has.                Student: Professor, is there such a thing as heat?

Professor: Yes.

Student: And is there such a thing as cold? Professor: Yes.

Student: No, sir. There isn’t. (The lecture theater became very quiet with this turn of events.)


Student: Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don’t have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.

(There was pin-drop silence in the lecture theater.)


Student: What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?

Professor: Yes. What is night if there isn’t darkness?

Student: You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light. But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? In reality, darkness isn’t. If it is, well you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?


Professor: So, what is the point you are making, young man?

Student: Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed. Professor: Flawed? Can you explain how?


Student: Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good GOD and a bad GOD. You are viewing the concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, Science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing.

Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it. Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?

Professor: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do.


Student: Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?

(The Professor shook his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument was going.)


Student: Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor. Are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher?

(The class was in uproar.)

Student: Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor’s brain?

(The class broke out into laughter.)


Student: Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor’s brain, felt it, touched or smelt it? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir?

(The room was silent. The Professor stared at the student; his face unfathomable.)


Professor: I guess you’ll have to take them on faith, son.

Student: That is it sir … Exactly ! The link between man & GOD is FAITH. That is all that keeps things alive and moving.


By the way, that student was ALBERT EINSTEIN.


I found this “conversation” while restackiing the stacks on my desk. I’m not sure who gave it to me (if it’s YOU, let me know!). Uncle Albert is demonstrating to us how important an open mind is, as well as the self-willingness to stretch your comfort zone and grow some new flowers! That’s what I’m trying to do this summer. Let’s do it together.


Oh! By the way. The topic I really wanted to write about was my favorite Einstein quote. This quote had a very large impact on my approach to learning. It was one of the lessons that helped lead me to God. Why? Because it “allowed” me that I could embrace the reality of  the concept of “faith,” and that faith can be more powerful intellectually than knowledge. At least it should be.


Here’s my favorite Einstein quote:


“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”   ~ Albert Einstein


Let’s do some faith-based brain yoga!

   <>< Pastor Bob

Read more