Sunday Meanderings

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#Memories#Goodtime#15th

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

This past Sunday the church I pastor celebrated our 15th anniversary. We had a great time in many respects. We had everyone meeting in one service. That is always a favorite. The singing was good with so many people in one building. The spirit was good. We had some folks who were regulars but had to move away because of health surprise us with a visit. That brightened a lot of people. We had an excellent pitch-in with some of the best food on the planet (and I made none of it).  I did hold my eating down to a mild roar.  🙂 There was a ton of cooperation of setting tables and chairs up and tearing them down and putting them away.  All in all it was a mighty fine day.

During my sermon I reiterated our Mission and Vision, especially for our new folks. I’ll put it here for you:

MISSION:

To Connect People to Jesus

VISION:

  • To be passionate pursuers of Jesus
  • To be models of truth and love
  • To be involved in our community

After speaking about those for a few minutes and explaining how they work, I unveiled my theme for 2020. Although I have the first series already mapped out (It is from 2 Cor.4), the rest of it is a work in progress. I’m convinced that many followers of Christ are swept downstream because they do not know the truth of the Gospel. With that in mind, here is my banner and theme for 2020:

I’ll not say much the rest of this year about it as I will be doing a series through November on “Servants” and one in December on “Don’t Miss It!” But come the first of the year, I’ll be focusing on TRUTH. I’ll keep you updated, as I normally do, via this blog.

By the way, I am not one for promoting myself but they record my sermons and then put them online for others to hear. If you would like to keep pace with  where OVCF is in study, I invite to take a listen. You can go here to check it out.

#Dead#Alive#YouChoose

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

As I wrote that title I couldn’t help but think of Bon Jovi’s song Dead or Alive. My sermon this morning was on the postcard to the church at Sardis. I called it “To the Dead Church.”  One of the ideas I tried to stress was that we need to see this letter as more than one sent to a church body, but we also need to apply it to ourselves as individuals.  One of the thoughts during the message was asking the question When is a church dead? The answers are jarring, but I also want to apply them to us as individuals. So, I’m going to put the four answers I gave to that question and then allow you to make the personal application. I have already done that as I prepared; misery loves company so join me! 🙂  When is a church dead?

#1- When it is content to rest on its past laurels.  Many churches have banners and plaques throughout their building which testify of their past. It’s like little Johnny who was being shown through the church building by his father when they came upon a plaque with names. He asked his dad what that was for and his father said, “They are the names of the men and women who died in the service.” He asked, “Which one-morning or evening?” We chuckle but sadly that is way too often true. (Nowadays it is first or second not morning or evening).

#2- When it is more concerned with form than spiritual reality. We make sure we fit into a mold. The pastor can’t speak too long we have things to do, places to go. Besides, we want to beat the other churches to lunch.  This can be especially harrowing in a small town where options are limited. We make sure we have communion, take offering, sing all hymns or no hymns, offer an invitation. Seriously? That shows a church is alive?

#3- When it focuses more on social ills and politics than changing people’s hearts and minds through the life-changing message of Jesus. There is nothing wrong with being socially aware and conscious, but the church does not exist to change the environment. We exist to carry the message of the God’s life-changing message.

#4- When it is more concerned with material things than spiritual things. “Nuff said. When we hired Ryan one of my first words to him were “People over programs.” We have reminded ourselves of that often. Another: “People over buildings.”  We had a dream of an adult worship center but it was cost-prohibitive.  I was so proud of our leadership when they said, “No” to the building and put things on hold.  God made it possible to pay off our mortgage early as well as build the youth addition debt-free.  We are now in the dreaming stage again and will remember the adage: “People over buildings.”

I think you can see how those can apply to individuals. But it is one thing to see; it another to do. Let’s do it! Let’s not be caught in the “Sardis cycle.”

 

Shock

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

It is the afternoon of Father’s Day. I’m in la-la land (translated: my eyes are glassy and my mind is in a fog). But I wanted to write something. But all I’m having at this moment is random thoughts. So I thought I would share them with you and you can take them or leave them. 🙂

I received a FD card from my oldest daughter, Tami.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She thought it was funny. I told her not to quit her day job. Actually, none of that is true. It is true I got the card from her. It is true she thought it fit and was funny. What is not true is the conversation. I laughed. I did tell her via text: “I’m honored you think I’m a bit weird. You wouldn’t want all normal people. How boring is that?”  Being a father to Tami and Janna and a grandfather to Braden is one of the highlights of my life.

I was in the chiropractor’s office and picked up a Men’s Health magazine to read and ran across a page called “THE (Above) AVERAGE GUY.” I asked them to make a copy for me. Here is a bit what it said:

$89,420 average cost for four years of college now. $372,397 average projected cost in 2033, when your 3-year old today heads off to college. That’ll scare the heeby-jeebies out of ya’!

37% of kids say they wish no parents would watch them play.  (Could it be they know something we don’t? Like it matters more to parents than their kids and kids want to have fun?)

Tony Hawk, arguably the world’s greatest skateboarder. Coolest dad ever? His kids on him turning 50.

  • His 9-year old: “He hasn’t finished Mario Odyssey, and he can’t dance!”
  • His 15 year old: “He steals your food.”
  • His 18 year old: “He’s in bed by 9 p.m.”

There you have it. Wisdom for the ages. 🙂

And since I’m in the shock mode: here is a song solidly based on Scripture. It is long but epic. I’m sure it is probably not most of your cup of tea but I like Theocracy and love this song.  Just for fun I asked the lady who signs our services if she would do this.  🙂

Hope you had a good Sunday-father or not.

Pledge

Sunday, May 27th, 2018

Memorial Day should be a day of remembrance. In honor of each one of our men and women who served our country, I give you this video. Not a song. Much better. You may have heard it before but it still stands true. Enjoy!

I should add: Jo & I were at home the other night and she was flipping the TV stations and ran across a video advertisement for his old shows. Man, did I laugh! Anyway, this man had a serious funny bone. He also had a serious bone. This is one of them.

Here’s the video

Holy

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

Every day I live I am reminded of Isaiah’s words in chapter 6: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts!”

What could possibly have gotten Isaiah so worked up and so “slain” that he admits to having unclean lips and living in the midst of unclean people? Only one thing really:

He. caught. a. glimpse. of. the. holiness. of. God.

It must have been an earth-shattering sight for him. A “take me to my knees” sight. A “rock my world” sight. Words fail me when trying to find the words to describe it. This sort of thing happened once to me. I was on a much-needed personal retreat of 4 days of fasting and praying. I needed to clear some things in my head, but more importantly, in my heart.  I was walking the property I was staying at and praying when I found myself on my knees. Overwhelmed and overcome by the weight of it all. For once I felt like I was standing in God’s presence. So began my journey out of legalism and into freedom. But it all started with catching a glimpse of God’s holiness. I didn’t froth at the mouth. I didn’t convulse. I didn’t have any ecstatic experience. I was just overwhelmed.

Here is a song I’d like you to listen to. It is long (a little over 9 minutes) because it is a medly of two songs. They are both good alone. Combined they are powerful. Hope you enjoy. More: I hope it brings you a reality of God’s holiness and helps you focus this week on Him.

Relief

Sunday, April 15th, 2018

Welcome to my Sunday meanderings.

Have you ever noticed how sometimes things just seem to pile up?  We have those seasons when stuff happens, in spades. Not every once in awhile but what seems like an onslaught. As many of you have experienced, it isn’t just one thing; it is a myriad of things.

Cancer diagnosis in friends. (A complication in one came in while I was showering this morning).

Marriages falling apart.

Deaths of friends and the funerals which follow (3 in the last month).

A three-week old baby requiring open heart surgery.

A host of other “beat downs.”

Plus one very tired pastor who needs a break (which is coming).

I’m preaching about HOPE this morning. Hope in a forever home. Good thing I believe in that. If my hope is not connected to forever, my hope will somehow die.  For hope to be hope it must carry with it the promise that all which is broken will be repaired, and that it will remain repaired forever.

I’m glad I have Someone to lean on. If I didn’t I don’t know how I would handle this onslaught right now.  Maybe that is why I have chosen two songs for this week. They are throwbacks. The singer is Mark Farner, former lead singer for Grand Funk. His conversion is a great story but his music is timeless. His lyrics are clear so you shouldn’t have any trouble listening and understanding. So check out this song then go to this one.

Have a great week bolstered (as I am and will be) by the truth I serve an amazing God who understands.

Meanderings

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

This is a Sunday meandering post. So many thoughts going through my head I don’t know what to do with them all.

It all started out on Friday when I visited the hospital on my day off to see an older lady whose husband went to be with Jesus about a week or so before Christmas. They would have celebrated 50 years this Spring. She has been extremely lonely but continued to go on. Until last Sunday night when she found herself in the ER and ultimately admitted (I will withhold medical condition). Surgery Monday didn’t tell them much (translated: nothing). She has been in and out of Progressive/Critical Care all week long. Saturday (yesterday) I was in the hospital visiting a very sick woman and her family.

I also visited another man whose condition has worsened over the past couple weeks. The good thing? I was able to lead him to salvation. The interesting thing is he is stone deaf and his hearing aids weren’t working. I tried three times to talk to him but he could not hear me. So, one morning as I prayed, I asked God how I could reach him. I typed it out and left it with him. After having it read to him, he had his wife sign on the line (he could not grip a pen).  Yay!!

Saturday was a day of interruptions…all day. Long story short: I was unable to sync with the sermon so I decided to do my New Morning Mercies for Sunday a night earlier. Pay dirt! As I journaled it was liked God was saying, “Here is your sermon for Sunday.” So I got up at 3:15, came to the office, and wrote a sermon. Although it is somewhat unsettling, I have learned not to argue with God. He was there today.

Our Resurrection Sunday service went well. We had 296, but more than that, we had a good spirit.  So many thanks have to go around. WOW!  People came early to help set up.  Abram Farm Event Venue had a wedding until 12:00 last night so we could not set up until this morning. But in about an hour all chairs, tables, and things were ready to go. The Worship Team was excellent! Everyone who could helped clean up. It was a great day to be part of OVCF and part of the church. I even think the sermon went okay (so I’m told).  Out of the music set was the song I want to feature this week. I am not a fan of Hillsong but I do like Brooke (Frazier) Ligertwood. Here is her leading worship with the song.  Brooke is a real popular pop singer in Australia.  Here is one of my favorites by her.

Well…I sure was long-winded. That’s what happens when you meander. 🙂 Have a great week!!

Appreciation

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

I am writing this ahead of time….with anticipation of showing appreciation.

For the past 4 or 5 years the staff (Diana, Ryan and I) have shown our appreciation for our volunteers of the past year by having a celebration in their honor. Our modus operandi has been to have a catered meal; an evening of fun and hilarity; I walk around during the meal telling each volunteer how much they are appreciated; give away door prizes; and just have a general evening of fun and relaxation. Our volunteers are honored.

So this year we have decided to mix things up a bit. No catered meal. No church building. The rest will stay the same. We decided to go to our local theater for our appreciation night. We will still have the door prizes and giveaways…with a twist. We will be showing a movie: The Incredibles. Why? Because we think our volunteers are incredible! The best on the planet! Instead of a catered meal we are providing every person a ticket for a free popcorn and soda.  As I mentioned we will still have the door prizes and giveaways, but as they leave they will receive one more thing of appreciation.  I can tell what it is since it is a surprise, but I’m not posting this until the night starts. It is a specially baked cookie of The Incredibles logo. Just one last thing to remember the evening by.

Image result for the incredibles logo

Every organization, especially every church, relies on volunteers to get things done. I guarantee the things which get done around here would not get done if it were not for our volunteers. It is so much bigger than any 3 people co0uld pull off.  So, if you are reading this as part of OVCF, thanks for volunteering. If you are reading this from elsewhere, I thank you for volunteering in your church or organization.

How do you volunteer?

WHEW!

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

Life can be so many things.

Sometimes it is running so fast you seem to barely be able to catch your breath. WHEW!

This past week has been like that. As I mentioned in this post, we took off Monday for Sandusky, OH to see my sister-in-law.  We arrived home late afternoon on Thursday and immediately started doing laundry. I have developed an allergy to some common chemicals which means I have to take my own towels, bedding, etc and the first thing we need to do is wash them when we get home. Friday was catch up day suspecting this weekend would be super busy.  I was correct. We hosted Matt & Laurie Krieg from Hole in My Heart Ministries (more info to come).  So slowing down has not been an option.

Jo is making plans to return to Sandusky sometime this week to see her sister (who has been moved to a rehab place where they can clean and dress her wound, administer antibiotics, and give her therapy for walking). She will be there 6 weeks. All that with a view to our leaving for a much-needed vacation on October 2nd. Someone in the church graced us with a timeshare as a gift so we are taking advantage of that! I’ll share more about that in a later post.

I am thoroughly expecting the WHEW to turn into an Aaaahhhh (sigh of contentment) during our time away. Thanks for being patient with me while away, but most of all for praying for Jo’s sister. She is not out of the woods by any stretch but is making strides toward healing.

Homecoming

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

Maybe Homegoing is a better way to say it.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15

Saturday. September 9th. 4:00 PM. Mike Murphy went home.

Mike fought a valiant battle. He remained upbeat as much as he was able until the disease robbed him of the ability to show it. He lost his physical strength. He lost his ability to verbally communicate. Eventually the cancer which had spread throughout his body robbed him of his ability to even breathe.

But throughout the ordeal, which really wasn’t long compared to some, Mike maintained one very important thought: “I know whom I have believed and I know He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him for that day.” Mike’s attitude soon reflected the same I saw in my late mother: He would fall asleep and wake and with disappointment say, “Oh, I’m still here.” He wasn’t in a hurry to leave Sheila, his wife of 17 years. (I married them in June of 2000 in Terre Haute, IN). He was in a hurry to see Jesus, the One who loved him, saved him, gave him the love of his life, and would say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Mike is home.

Thanks to all of you who prayed for Mike and Sheila. She needs your prayers now as she makes the necessary preparations for his celebration. They have asked me to speak at his funeral. I’d appreciate your prayers for me as I prepare my remarks. That, of course, means my presence here and at your place will be up in the air.  I’m sure you will understand if I don’t make it by to comment.

I’m glad I can approach Mike’s funeral with joy (mingled with sadness of course), but joy because I know where he is spending eternity.  I cannot say that for all funeral services I do, nor am I happy when I do one where the person has rejected God’s love and invitation. The odds are 1 out of 1 that we will die. Are you ready?