#Shepherd#Platform#Integrity

Written by cycleguy on June 19th, 2019

In Psalm 78:72 it says of David “With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with skillful hands.”  Some translations use the word “integrity” for upright.  This verse is talking about David’s approach toward the people of Israel. David served the people as their shepherd with integrity. That verse has always been at the forefront of my brain ever since I read it years ago.  It serves as a challenge to me to shepherd the people i serve with integrity.

Maybe that is why I have not cared whether I became “known” or not.  Oh…wait a minute. That’s not true. There was a time I cared a lot…an awful lot. I would hear of friends of mine who were preaching at large churches or conducting meetings in other churches and the “J” word would kick in. (That would be “J”ealousy for those who are unsure).  But then I began to think about time and schedule. I began to be involved in watching my daughters play ball. I wondered about sermon prep. When did they have the time to do that while jetsetting all over the globe? (Then I found out many of them have assistants who do all the research and sometimes even write the sermons).  I thought about the one thing I really like to do as an aside (cycle) and wondered when could I do that? Certainly not on a plane or in a hotel (stationary bikes are another word for B-O-O-O-R-I-N-G!).  Perhaps the biggest revelation in all this was “finding” the verse from Psalm 78. When would I have the time to be a shepherd?  Now, if I wanted to be a CEO-type  then, by all means, have at it! But I wasn’t called to be a CEO. I was called to be a pastor, a shepherd. The day I realized that was the day I quit worrying about what others thought; how big I could get; how “known” I could be; and became satisfied with being a shepherd of the church God gave me to serve.  Amazing how the perspective changes.  My worst enemy (ME) was put to death that day.

I’d rather be found faithful shepherding my sheep in an obscure, out-of-the-way little town than be serving an image of myself being applauded.  I’d rather be here than anywhere else.

 

#Different#WildandWooly#AllOkay

Written by cycleguy on June 17th, 2019

If you read my post June 16-Weekend Extra from my other blog, you will know the general basis for this post.  Saturday afternoon and evening we had storms rumble through our area. Okay so they did more than just rumble. Some touched down. Yeah, we were “blessed” with the presence of tornadoes. The town proper of Spencer was spared but some of the outlying areas were not so fortunate. A little town a few miles southwest of Spencer called Freedom had a tornado touch down but fortunately it was not deadly. Downed power lines and mangled trees was about all I think. Several others touched down as well. One did some major damage to some barns and houses and a power substation (REMC). The substation which supplies power to the church building. Our house provider is Duke Energy and they had our power back on around 3:00 am Sunday morning.

The church building was another story. When I got there yesterday (Sunday) at 3:45 it was pitch black. I am writing this at 5:25 am on Monday and as far as I know it it is still pitch black. I’m at home so I have power. I’ll check it when I am done working on my sermon. But my purpose of this post is to tell you about our Sunday worship.

OVCF and its leaders have always “prided” themselves in their ability to adapt. Now, as I say that, I am not referring to the attractional church idea of adapting to culture. We have tried to stay “fluid” in our thinking about ways to do things. That was on full display yesterday. I contacted a few folks (Youth pastor, secretary, and Worship Team leaders) and told them about not having any power and can we do an Unplugged service. EVERYTHING, and I mean everything, was unplugged. No lights. No A/C. No plugged in instruments. No cordless mic to speak with. No fans. Well…you get the idea. Diana, the church secretary, sent out a mass email and posted it on the church’s FB page about the time change: one service at 10:45 instead of two (9 and 10:45). Then we waited and wondered if anyone would show up. Over 100 people showed up! Some had lost power for a short period of time. Some had lost it for most of the night. Some still had none. But they came.  We opened blinds for light. The front doors were left open. We put some lanterns in the bathrooms. We did the same in the children’s wing. Those teachers and kids were troopers. We sang. We had communion. We gave. I preached (the weak link in the whole morning). We prayed. We laughed (especially when someone’s phone went off with an emergency signal for flash flooding).  I referenced believers in other countries who meet like this every week due to economics or due to government interference.

It was a good day. I was proud of the folks who make up OVCF. I am honored to be their pastor.  I thank them for their willingness to adapt (in a good way). And I thank God for showing us we don’t bells and whistles to worship Him. All we need are hearts open to Him and willing to meet Him anywhere, anytime, and in any circumstance.

 

#Stand!#Don’tBowDown!

Written by cycleguy on June 15th, 2019

With traveling to PA and then to Ohio my week definitely got away from me as did posting about Sunday’s sermon. Let me put it this way: I started a new series last week that will go through the whole summer. I am calling it Heroes. The first one last week was from Daniel 1. If you read that chapter you know it is the story of Daniel and his 3 friends: Rack, Shack and Benny (as Veggie Tales puts it).  It was titled Cooperation without Compromise. Daniel and his 3 friends had the choice all of us have when confronted by a “test.”

  1. The first option is Absorption. This person basically is absorbed and assimilated into the culture.
  2. The second option is Withdrawal. This is commonly seen in cults and, in the days of the early church, the Essenes. We see this now in the Amish people who believe withdrawal is the best way to avoid evil. (Have I got news for them!)
  3. The third is Cooperation without Compromise. This is the Daniel way. I’d like to encourage you to read Daniel 1 to find out how that happens.

This week’s sermon is called We Won’t Bow Down! Bet you can’t guess what that story is about!! 🙂  If you guessed Daniel’s three friends give yourself a virtual high-five. Daniel 3 is where the story is.  I’m not going to say much more about it here except this- Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego made a choice not to bow down to the image. They were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace when they were given one last chance to change their minds. I love their words: “We believe our God will deliver us but even if not we will not bow down!” WOW!!

So Sunday I’m going to take that very familiar story and try to breathe some life into it so that we can all walk away, especially the dads, with a resolve to stand not bow. Your prayers would be appreciated. Thanks.

 

#TryAgain#EarlyBird#NeedyourHelp

Written by cycleguy on June 12th, 2019

Back on January 30th I wrote the following post:

http://billgrandi.ovcf.org/wordpress/?p=15108

I’m here to ask you for your help again. I’m not much of a fundraiser to be honest.  I would have a hard time making it as a missionary who had to raise his own support and had to go around seeking donations or support. So this is definitely out of my comfort zone.

I’m not going to give you a great big “snow job” about this. I’m not going to beg.  Okay…I would do that if necessary.  🙂  (Picture a dog on hind legs begging. That would be me.)  But only because I believe so strongly in helping those with MS (Multiple Sclerosis). I know of two folks here in Spencer-Marge and Kirby. Marge has had MS since 2000 and they told her she would be in a wheelchair and a home in 6 months. She has had her struggles but she is still walking. Kirby was diagnosed in 2006 and I just found out about it a little over a year ago (so don’t forget that you never know who might be impacted by the work that you do).  Marge has been part of our worship team for several years and Kirby and Ronda have been attending OVCF (Owen Valley Christian Fellowship…the church I pastor) since Easter. Their son, Hunter, is now playing guitar in our worship band.  I know there are more that I am not aware of. In Indiana alone, the MS Society reaches 9000 individuals but based on the most recent prevalence study, there could be another 10,000 people that the Society hasn’t even reached yet!

Like most diseases, MS strikes each person differently. The meds they take affect each one differently as well. The Bike MS or Cruisin’ the Crossroads (as it is called) ride I am taking part in will help raise money to reach a common goal: to end MS forever.  Your contributions will go directly to MS research, outreach, and assistance for those living with MS. For more information on how the society helps people living with MS, you can follow this link to the Navigator program website.   It is a “flat pledge.” In other words, there is no “I’ll pledge 50 cents a mile.” Whatever you pledge is your pledge and you do it directly to the National MS Soceity. I would be honored if you would do it under my name as I try to raise at least $800 for the ride.  Go to that page and hit donate. It is pretty self-explanatory. To date I am at $745. I would consider it a big deal to hit the $1000 mark.

Here is part of what your donation will help happen.

All that to say…if you are able to donate in my name I would be honored. Thanks for reading and donating.

{Note: this post was edited with the help from the MS Society to better explain their mission}.

 

#Whirlwind#FunTime

Written by cycleguy on June 10th, 2019

As I mentioned in my one and only post from last week I would be absent from this blog. It was a whirlwind week. We left Sunday after church for Ohio where we promptly got detoured in Indianapolis which took us out of our way.  The state bird of Indiana (the orange barrels used for construction) was clearly evident. They took us about 20-30 miles out of the way.  Monday we took off for PA and enjoyed a great time (Rob did an excellent grille job) with 2 of my younger brothers (I have 3). We laughed a lot. Tami rolled her eyes a lot as she watched the 3 brothers “show off” their humorous tendencies.  Tuesday we drove to my old hometown and saw the house I grew up in, the high school I attended  (which has totally changed), the “projects” where I spent the first 12 1/2 years of my life, where my grandparents lived, and where my mother was living when she went to see Jesus.  What Tommy James sang about in his song Smokey Roads is true. Braden was not impressed at all.  I guess I should have expected that. What 12 1/2 year old boy wants to spend time in a truck looking at relics?  🙂  The house I moved to in the middle of 7th grade and graduated from high school living in. My mom lived here for a few years after my dad left her and now my brother, Garry and his wife and daughter live there.

Eventually we got to our destination after some other stops along the way.  Here is one of our stops. It is called Mount Washington and it overlooks the Three Rivers area.

Finally, our destination.

The Pirates lost 12-5 but we were not there to see the end. After the Braves were ahead in the 8th inning Tami was content to leave. She was bummed, I think, because she missed the Freddie Freeman Home Run in the top of the 9th. I’m glad they won for her birthday present. The Pirates won the next two.  🙂  She left PNC park a happy girl.  I made her ride hooked to my bike rack on the way back to Rob’s.  J/K.  We did make national TV though.

We drove back to Ohio on Wednesday, stayed the night, then drove to Sandusky for the less thrilling part of our trip. Jo’s sister was in the hospital so that is never fun. But we saw she was taken care of and returned on Friday about 7:00.  I was ready for bed for sure!

Our “adventure” in Sandusky isn’t over because there is so much to do now that she is in a long-term facility. So my next few weeks are up in the air. Your prayers would be much appreciated.

 

 

#Absent

Written by cycleguy on June 2nd, 2019

I may be absent from my blogs for a couple of days. Not sure.  Tami’s 44th birthday (and yes I gave her age) is Monday. She has always wanted to go to PNC Park in Pittsburgh to see my Pirates play. Actually it would be more accurate to say “her Braves” play my Pirates but this is my blog. 🙂  So for her birthday we are taking her since they are playing each other on Tuesday.

We plan to leave after 2nd service today and head to Ohio. Spend the night and take Braden (our grandson) with us to the game.  I asked him “If you had a chance to watch the Pirates play the Giants who would you root for?” Without hesitation he said, “Giants because the Pirates are in the same division as the Reds.” Same with the Dodgers. Then I asked him if the Pirates were playing the Braves who would you root for? He said, “Neither.” Hmmm. I’m going to have to teach that boy a lesson in grandfatherly-love.  Anyway, we will be staying with my brother, Rob, and his wife Joy, and also have a chance to visit with one of my other brothers and his family on Monday night.

We had planned on returning home on Wednesday but Jo’s sister was taken to the hospital on Friday night so we will drop Braden off then head up to Sandusky to stay for a day or two.  I’m not really sure about posting here or on my other blog. Guess I’ll have to see what transpires as well as internet connection.

I’d appreciate your prayers for safe travel, a good time, and for Jo’s sister.  Thanks.

 

#Providence#Luck?

Written by cycleguy on May 31st, 2019

“Man, I was so lucky I was not standing where I had been. That thing would have fallen on me.” “I just happened to be there at the right time and in the right place.”

Those are the kind of statements we make concerning events that take place in our lives.  Maybe it was a close call. Maybe it was a desperate need we had. Maybe we felt alone and was ready to do something drastic. It isn’t unusual to hear people talk about luck or chance or happenstance. I do not believe in luck or chance or happenstance in the follower of Christ’s life.

Chuck Swindoll defines providence as

The events of our lives are not ruled by chance or blind fate by our loving Lord and Savior, who works out His plan and His purposes in the lives of all His children.

My sermon Sunday will from Romans 8:28-30, home of one of the most well-known, most-memorized and oft misunderstood passages in the Bible. There is some powerful truth in those verses and I hope to bring those truths out this Sunday. Your prayers would be appreciated.

 

#Goodman#Worthemulating

Written by cycleguy on May 29th, 2019

I was in the presence of a good man last night. I might even venture to say a great man.  My Uncle Bob is the last of the family. My grandparents had 3 natural children and adopted one. My mother was one of those natural children, and my uncles Bill and Bob were the other two. My mother and my Uncle Bill have both moved on to their heavenly home. Both victims of cancer.

My Uncle Bob will be 83 in August. My Aunt Dee will be 82. They live in Arlington, TX and have for as long as I can remember. They have also lived in the Azores, Okinawa, Grissom AF base, and places I can’t remember. He served 31 years in the Air Force and after he retired he served as a postal carrier for 11 years. His knee finally let him down and like his dad before him and his nephew (that would be me) after him, a knee replacement had to happen. Two of his children live near them and one lives in Utah.  The last time we saw them was back around 2011 when they had made a trip to the Northeast (New Hampshire) to see Aunt Dee’s family and then they swung down through to see me and Jo. They were on their way back home when he called Monday night and asked if we could meet up for supper.

Sounds normal doesn’t it?  What is so special about that you may be asking. You see…Aunt Dee has Alzheimers. She started it about the time they came by in 2011. She cannot speak or tell you what is on her mind in any way, shape, or form.  All she does is mumble with an occasional strong-willed sound (like when I tried to help her drink and she wanted to do it herself).  They will soon be married 59 years this year. He takes care of her 24/7. Each morning he gets her up and they go to the mall to walk (he pushes her in a wheelchair).  He feeds her, bathes her, helps her do all that needs to be done. But you know what he really does? HE LOVES HER WELL. We ate at Cheddars last night with them and spent one of the most delightful evenings in memory. We laughed. Reminisced. Talked about family. (My dad was never keen on family so being a close knit one with mom’s was never a priority so we lost touch with cousins long time ago).  Oh yeah, did I say we laughed a lot? It was getting to be 8:30 when we finally said our “Goodbye’s.” He needed to get Aunt Dee to bed so they could get up and make the long trek back to TX.

He has been through a lot watching his bride deteriorate as she has. Screaming all night long. Unable to speak or communicate her love for him. But watching him lovingly rub her shoulder or labor to get her from her chair to the van was proof of something Jo said earlier in the evening: “In sickness and in health. For better or for worse.”  He was a living embodiment of that commitment.

Thank you Uncle Bob for a real live example of someone who loves well. For all time. No matter the situation.

 

Security

Written by cycleguy on May 25th, 2019

If i were to ask you what, in your mind, is the most dangerous philosophy we face today, what would you say? In days gone I might get answers like Nazism. Socialism. Communism. White Supremacism. Liberalism.  And maybe you can think of another.

But I am inclined to believe that the most dangerous philosophy we face is Humanism. On the surface it looks good. It is good we can celebrate the advances we have made, but it also gives a false hope that all things can be solved by human ingenuity. Like the words to the opening of ’70s TV show Six Million Dollar Man: “We can make him better. We can rebuild him.” So we have this crazy idea that we can solve anything…which leads to the ultimate conclusion we don’t need God.

And yes, it has infiltrated the church. “God helps those who help themselves.” How many do you know who believe that is in the Bible? Or we adopt this idea we can work our way to heaven. “Just be nice to people. Tolerate all beliefs.” Talk about poppycock human thought! Of course, the question that comes is “Good according to whom?” “I can pull myself up by my own bootstraps. I don’t need help, especially God” is another lie.

The ultimate question is “Can God be trusted?” In this week’s sermon from Romans 8:31-39, Paul takes to task those who doubt God is sufficient.  I’m going to approach this Scripture seeking to look at a series of questions Paul asks (4 + 1)  so we can see God is on our side.  I would appreciate your prayers. Thanks.

 

#LoneRanger#DIY

Written by cycleguy on May 23rd, 2019

On my other blog, Living in the Shadow, I touched on this idea of being a Lone Ranger or a Do-It-Yourselfer (DIY). Since that is more of a devotional blog I had to limit what I said and how I applied it. I’d like to expand on my thoughts here.  Perhaps you might like to read my devotion here and then come back with an idea of where my head is.

As a pastor, it is easy to get the “heady” idea-both personally and given by others-that I (any pastor) is a solver of all sorts of problems. When I was talking about going into the ministry when I was in high school, I can still remember my mom turning in the car and saying, “Just remember, honey, to do it for the right reason.” You see, back then the pastor was “the parson” and looked up to by about everyone. The business community respected them. The schools looked to them for help.  No question the people in the church sought him out for help in about every area of life. As I see it, pride was a constant enemy to guard against.  But, of course, it is no longer that way. For the most part it is because of our changing world. But some of it is our own fault.  Pride did become an issue. As well as several other nefarious acts.

As I have gotten older I have realized more and more that the Lone Ranger with the silver bullet was not wise. For years I thought I could do my work on my own, by myself. Experience AND AGE has taught me differently. In spite of myself, I have come to see God is so much bigger than I had given Him credit for and can actually work better if I get out of the way! 🙂 🙂  We often hear people talking (myself included) about how we often put God in a box. Well, I have come to the conclusion that is what I often did. Not on purpose mind you, but I have to now admit that. I had narrowed Him by my own attitude.

You can see how God handled that in Numbers 11 and by checking out my devotion. But what is interesting to me is Joshua’s reaction.  He had been with Moses since childhood and saw God’s involvement as a threat to Moses’ leadership. Moses gently corrected him. Joshua saw God as acting outside the system he was used to. But God was expanding Moses’ influence and Joshua’s perception and world. I like the quote I read by Skye Jethani in his book, Immeasurable. He writes:

Rather than operate like the wind, we’d prefer the Spirit operate like an electric fan that we can control to perpetually blow in the same direction. (p.90)

I’m not an advocate of “willy-nilly-Spirit-work” but he has a point. Sometimes God just doesn’t operate like we would like Him to. “The wind blows where it wants” is also true of the work of the Spirit. What Joshua needed to realize, and I do as well, is that God will do what He wants with or without my input or help.

I need to get out of His way. I also need to realize I am not a Lone Ranger; I need others to help do the work. Moses had 70 others (Numbers 11). Joshua had to get with the program. May I, may you, be humble enough to submit to His agenda.