Sunday Meanderings

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Someday

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

I was sitting in my chiropractor’s office Friday and since I had forgotten to bring something to read (DUH!), I picked up a Men’s Health magazine. I ran across an article about a trainer named Bobby Maximus. (Sort of reminds me of Gladiator.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ )ย  I give you that, not as a stamp of approval on Maximus, but as a “give credit where credit is due” thing. Anyway, they had some sayings which Maximus is fond of using.ย  Several of them struck a chord…one I’ve heard before: “Do what’s right, not what’s easy.”

But the one that stayed with me so much I wrote it down and use it now is this:

There are 7 days in a week. ‘Someday’ is not one of them.

It is easy getting into that mode-whether we talk about our physical condition; our exercise program; a relationship we want to cultivate; a goal we want to realize; and especially our relationship with God. I don’t really need to go into detail as to each of these modes, so to speak. We all know how it applies to our physical condition or an exercise program, etc.

I do find it somewhat disconcerting when I consider how I have used the “Someday excuse” when it comes to cultivating my relationship with God. “Someday I will have that Quiet Time.” “Someday I will pray.” “Someday I will learn that verse.” Someday. Someday. Someday. And Someday never gets anything accomplished.

I’ve written about my two bike wrecks. No need to go into them again. If you want to read about it go here. But those two wrecks have taught me some serious lessons…one of them is don’t use “Someday” as an excuse to get things done which need done. Don’t keep putting things off.ย  For example, Jo & I are in a much better place than we have been for years, largely because of this philosophy.ย  Talking more. Hugging and snuggling more. Kissing more. I’ll stop there. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ย  (I know Tami…TMI)

Don’t keep saying “Someday.”

Thoughts

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

Random thoughts from Sunday:

Any time I have gone away, I have always tried to come home either later Sunday or sometime Monday or Tuesday. I was reminded again of why. We went away from Wednesday through Friday. I made it home in time (45 minutes to spare) to take tickets at the high school basketball game. I slogged through Saturday’s preparation for my sermon. While the sermon was done physically, the spiritual part of me needs Saturday to get it in gear. Nope…didn’t happen. I like coming home the early part of the week since it means I will have time to prepare myself. Today was one of those days when it was a “little bit of me and a whole lot of God.”

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A few thoughts from Sunday’s message are pertinent to Christ-followers:

“Our salvation is the most important thing about us. If we have it, we are wealthy beyond belief. If we don’t, we are most to be pitied.” James McDonald

An unchanged life is a sign of an unchanged heart.ย  (Me)ย  This debunks the myth that I can live anyway I want and still call myself a Christian.

Real knowledge is not knowing something; it is in knowing Someone, a Person…Jesus Christ. (Me)ย  All the knowledge in the world will amount to nothing without a personal knowledge of Jesus.

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I have been asked to consider something wa-a-a-a-a-y out of my comfort zone or even my “desire” zone. I’m not at liberty to say what it is, but if you wouldn’t mind saying a prayer, God knows what it is about. Interestingly enough, Tami (my daughter), has approached me with an opportunity she has which will require stretching. You might want to include her. I hope to link to her blog this week as she writes about it. Thanks ahead of time.

There is some Sunday meandering for you. Random I know.

TESTS

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

I disliked taking tests. Maybe dislike is the wrong word. Maybe hated is a better one. ๐Ÿ™‚ Actually, I didn’t mind the essay kind. I could “blow off” and hope I said enough to make my point. I didn’t mind multiple choice because somewhere along the line I might remember and get the right answer. I disliked strongly (how about that choice of words) the True/False kind.

One of the biggest struggles I run into among fellow Christ-followers is the assurance of salvation. Too many are always questioning “Am I saved?” “If I die today would I go to heaven?” “How can I know?” While I personally have questions about what is called Eternal Security, I don’t believe a follower of Christ ever has a reason to doubt their salvation. Based on what you ask? Well, Sunday I gave two tests to ask as you seek to figure out not only your own, but who might be preaching a strange gospel. Here are two from I John:

  • Belief in God and the certainty of sin. [1:5-6,8,10]ย  False teachers and doctrinal errors are spread when there is uncertainty about God and sin. John tells us “God is Light.” He also tells us “in Him is no darkness at all.” Ever since the Fall man has tried to excuse sin. We call it a “mistake” or a “failure” or a “disorder, illness, or addiction.” Call sin what it is…sin.
  • Belief in forgiveness of sin and confession. [1:7b,9] That verse 9 stands like a rock for me. We can deny it. We can argue. But we cannot erase that verse from the pages of Holy Writ. What is written is written. Way too many followers of Jesus live in the past and think they cannot be forgiven. The tense used for forgive is one which not only shows past forgiveness but specifically present forgiveness. And since my tomorrow is actually today, forgiveness is always there.

I’m sure you can think of more. But these are huge to the freedom of every follower of Jesus. What do they say to you?

Recap

Monday, October 24th, 2016

The church’s 12th anniversary celebration is now history. One service. A packed auditorium (even with over 15 regulars gone). A good spirit. A so-so sermon. ๐Ÿ™‚ A great pitch-in dinner. And a good offering to go toward our new (and modest) youth addition (which will wait until at least the Spring to be started).

It is always strange when things are changed around. Instead of two services at 9:00 and 10:45, we had one at 10:00. We’ve been announcing it for over two months so I’m thinking most, if not all, got the memo. We had every available space used with 155 chairs. The spirit was excellent. We prayed it would be and the folks came expectant and excited. We have some fantastic cooks so the pitch-in was good. My only beef is because I go last-on purpose-there was very little meat left I could eat. Very little anything for that matter. But there was chocolate!! I’m okay with that.

The offering was over $7100. That puts our Youth Addition Fund over $86000. Our goal is $140,000 as we intend on paying cash for the addition. We thank God for His goodness and the generosity of the people.

The sermon was so-so. Ryan and I both preached, with him adding his thoughts from the Youth Pastor side of things. We will need to reevaluate and streamline I think.

All in all it was a “most excellent day.” For those ofย  you who pray for me/us every Sunday, thank you so much! We prayed before everyone showed up that God would be praised and glorified and the fame of his Name would be spread. Our prayers were answered.

I hope to share some of my sermon thoughts over the course of this week with you.

TheWeek

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Sunday I used this illustration. You may have heard it before:

Once upon a time there were twin brothers. One optimistic. One pessimistic. For the sake of understanding their differences, their mother enlisted the help of a noted psychologist.

The psychologist instructed her to put the pessimist in a room filled with various sizes and shapes of wrapped presents. The optimistic child was to be placed in a room filled with manure.

With this task done, the mother and psychologist visited the children to gauge each one’s response to his circumstances. They found the pessimistic child sitting among his presents, gazing at them in complete disbelief. When asked why he had not opened any, he simply stated, “They couldn’t possibly be for me!”

Moving on to the next child, they were a bit concerned to see no sign of him in the manure-filled room. They called for him, and his head emerged from one of the piles. When asked what he was doing, he answered, “With this much mess, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”

Fanciful. Probably not true. But telling. You/I have a brand new week ahead of us. We can choose to make it a bummer of a week or we can choose to make it a week of good things.

Choose wisely.

Report

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

I thought I would bring you up to date with a report about how the week went for the group that went to New Orleans this past week. You can read about it here and here.

The week went well. Other than a few minor mishaps-someone twisting a knee playing volleyball, finding some red fire ants to be pesky, the inability to go to the Gulf due to an algae that can become a flesh-eating bacteria if your immune system is low, missing out on seeing where NCIS New Orleans is filmed due to construction-they had a fantastic time. After the hard and amazing work they all did, especially the young people who went along, they had about a day and a half of sightseeing.

Their major project was finishing a shed which another group had started. Mission accomplished. They worked even through the half day they were supposed to have in order to finish the project. Meanwhile, Jo and one of the young ladies applied their sign-making skills to doing a new sign for the front of the church building. They were in the lower 9th ward, a ward affected by a broken levee. Here it is 11 years later and they are still trying to make things happen. 2nd Rose of Sharon Missionary Baptist Church I salute you!

This Sunday many of them dragged themselves out of bed to make it for the end of our first service and then stayed for the second in order to give a short “this is what impacted me the most” contribution. They were all touched by a homeless man, William, who was a school teacher but had suffered a brain aneurysm, lost about 1/4 of his skull, was now homeless but “preached” to them about God’s goodness.

I like the way one put it: “I went expecting to bless others. Little did I know how much I would be blessed by so many people.”

They got home after midnight Saturday night and were tired puppies. But they all said they would do it again. Well done Ryan E, Ryan S, Josiah, Jo, Keegan, Aleah, MaryRose, Elizabeth and Donnie. May your life be impacted eternally (and may you have impacted others as well) with the selfless giving of your time and money to go and serve.

WaitingGame

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

As I write this (Sunday morning) it is a waiting game. A faith game. A hoping game.

We have had a Day of Service planned for today since last Fall. The forecast Monday through Thursday has been 90% chance of rain…all day. How is that a problem you say?

One of our service projects is to help clean up and plant trees for the new MyPath initiative. The path is a walking/running path from the local Y to McCormick’s Creek State Park.ย  It is outside.

Our other service projects are the Humane Society shelter; a local person who has kennels and rescues dogs (they just took in 15 and found out one was pregnant. 15+3=18 new dogs plus the ones they already had); outside cleanup at the local Y (trash, playground, etc); some outside help for some local folks; and visiting the two nursing facilities in town. The only one which could go off without a hitch if it rains is the nursing home (for obvious reasons).

Our plan is to have one service today at 10:00 followed by a short meal. We will then head to the fairgrounds where another local church meets and team up with them to do these acts of service from 1-4:00. Afterwards we will be making our way back to the fairgrounds for a meal with The Connection (the newest church in town). Teaming up to get this done and to cover more ground is a first. ๐Ÿ™‚

All that to say: you can see why a 90% chance of rain led us to begin praying hard for no rain today. Or if it did…wait until after 4:00!! I’m praying for no rain or at least a 4:00 start time. I’ll let you know how all that shakes out.

Meanwhile, I’m excited to partner with The Connection in serving our community.

I’m editing this at 5:33 pm Sunday evening. The weather was absolutely gorgeous!ย  No rain whatsoever. Thank you God for answering prayer!! And for those of you who prayed-both OVCF people and my readers-thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚ A lot was accomplished.

FollowUp

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Like many churches we had a big day on Resurrection Sunday. We had our service at our building and asked folks to consider coming to the first service if they could. These people here are fantastic! We had 131 in our first service; 145 in our second. Yeah…I’d say that was pretty evenly rounded. Good thing we did it that way though. No way could we have ever fit that many in one service. It was a good day. A fun day. It was also the first time in 3 years we were in our own building.

I told this story:

Dr. Donald Barnhouse was a pastor at the 10th Avenue Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1927-1960 when he died one month after being diagnosed with a large brain tumor. When he was in his 30s his first wife died of cancer, leaving him with 3 children. Grieving as he drove to the memorial service with the children in the back seat he watched a truck pass by and cast its shadow across the car.

He turned to his oldest and asked her if she would rather be run over by a truck or its shadow. She guessed the shadow because it couldn’t hurt her. “Your mother has not been run over by death,” he replied, “but by the shadow of death.”

Death is not an enemy anymore. Check out this verse, especially the last phrase. The Greek word for “abolish” means “to render inoperative.” Death has lost its victory; death has lost its sting. Here’s a video I showed Sunday. Enjoy!

God

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Solid

How’s that for a title? An overwhelming title at that? It’s so overwhelming I asked Ryan to preach this week. ๐Ÿ™‚

Actually, he will be leaving for a mission trip to Liberia, Africa on March 28th (You can pray for he and Hope and their three children…plus the two foster children they picked up last Monday) so I asked him when he would like to preach. He chose this week since it worked best for his preparation (both trip and regular duties).

You gotta admit…I dodged a bullet. I mean, how in the world does one go about preaching about God? That is a such a vast subject and truthfully, it can never be exhausted.

I’ve seen his outline and it looks like he will do a fine job.

I’m taking the Sunday off and attending a church in Terre Haute, one we tend to worship at when I am out of the pulpit. I leave-not because Ryan does a lousy job (he doesn’t), but because if I am here it is still “my show.” I want people to go to Ryan and see him as a perfect complement to my ministry. For this Sunday he is “da man.”

So…I’d like to ask you to pray for him. Pray for the people who are here to listen. Our Spring Break starts so many head out of Dodge. I KNOW he will be glad to know you prayed for him.

Volunteers

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

Every non-profit (and some for profits) needs volunteers. In fact, I think it can be safely said that many non-profits would not last if were not for volunteers. Our local theater has one paid employee. Everything else is run by volunteers (concessions, ticketย  booth, media, etc).

Most food kitchens and shelters and organizations which reach out to others are largely run by volunteers.

Churches are no different. We would not survive if it were not for volunteers.

For the past three years, Diana (our church secretary), Ryan (our youth pastor), and I have said “thank you” to our volunteers by having a Volunteer Dinner. We have done several different things over the years as entertainment but the one thing we have not changed is the purpose: it is our way of saying thanks to everyone who has volunteered over the past year.

Carried a chair? Volunteered.

Taught a class? Volunteered.

Played or sang on the worship team? Volunteered.

This year we have approximately 70 who have signed up to come. We will have a buffet/catered meal for them. (I draw the line at cooking!) ๐Ÿ™‚ We will have give-aways. We will have entertainment. We will have lots of fun. But most of all, I love making the rounds and thanking everyone for their service this past year. It is a tiring evening by the time we have set up and torn down, planned and executed, but it is well worth it.

To all of you OVCF-ers who read this: Thanks from the bottom of my heart for a job well done and for making a difference in our lives and in this community. See you tonight!!

What does your church do to say thanks? I’m all in for new and fresher ideas I can implement.