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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. 🙂

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, ticket  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!) 🙂 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.

Islands

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

We often hear “no man is an island.” That is true. I know there are people who think “I need don’t need anyone else.” I believe that person is lying or highly delusional.

I also know life is a series of challenges. To do them alone is not what we were meant to do.

I say those two things because this past Thursday Jo & I saw a movie called 94 Feet, a faith-based movie filmed in Evansville, IN. Friday night we saw The Finest Hours. I’d recommend them both but it is the latter which I’d like to draw lessons from.

It is based on a true event which happened in 1952. You can read more about it here. My purpose here is not be a spoiler or to even really talk about the movie. It is the lessons I took away from it.

First, challenges may seem impossible, and may even mean almost certain death, but meet them head on. You and I face challenges every day. Some do appear insurmountable. Some of those are our own making. Some are put in front of us by God. Face it.

Second, when you have been “called” to do something, follow through. The characters were called to be members of the Coast Guard. This story is about following through.

Third, we will face people who doubt us; who challenge us; who demean us; and who will undercut us by words or actions. Do it anyway.

Fourth, challenges are best faced with people who will support and encourage. We need each other through good and bad times.

Finally, share the spoils. It wasn’t one man who did it. It shouldn’t be one man who gets to reap all the accolades. (Spoiler alert!) The last man off the boat was the hero of the story.

I’d recommend you going to see the movie. IMHO it is much better than it is given credit for. It is intense (action-wise). There is no sex. There are a few swear words but very minimal. Oh…go to the bathroom before the movie starts. There is a lot of water!! 🙂

Hometown

Sunday, December 6th, 2015

We didn’t grow up in Spencer, Indiana. I grew up in a suburb of the big city of Pittsburgh (Pop: gazillion). Jo grew up in several places, but calls Sandusky, OH home. (Pop: 35,000+)

So…how did we end up in a little town called Spencer (Pop: 3000 on a good day); Owen County (pop: about 22,000+ on a good day); Indiana?

It is a long story that may be told here some day, but not this time. We moved here in November of 2005 (just celebrated 10  years…along with Diana, the church secretary…errr, office manager…who started the same week I did). I had pastored a church in Terre Haute for 13 years (1987-2000) and Sandusky (2000-2005). We used to drive through Spencer on the way to Bloomington or Salem or Nashville (IN). I always saw it as a quaint town without much to attract a person to.

My view has changed. From the moment we came, the church has welcomed us with open arms. As I/we became more entrenched in the community, and as I became more involved, the community has also opened their arms to me. Jo working for the BMV didn’t hurt any since she was a good, solid worker who showed a lot of patience.

I consider Spencer my hometown. As a member of the Chamber of Commerce board and the New Beginnings Pregnancy Resource Center board, a volunteer at the Tivoli theater, and general all-around Sanguine (much to Jo’s rolling of her eyes), I am excited to call Spencer my home town. This past Saturday, our “downtown” was showcased. There is a lot of revitalization being done and many new shops, small businesses and store fronts are being opened and remodeled. An excellent coffee shop (Main Street Coffee) run by the Hogan family (Josh & Brianne and their 7 children) also sells my favorite tamales (Bivi’s Tamales…a lady from the church who knows how to make real tamales). A new Thai restaurant. The Dragonfly Gallery, a quaint but cool little store. Diamond K Sweets (some of the best, mouth-watering chocolate you will ever taste). And more are coming. It is fun watching “my” hometown perk up.

Jo & I also spent Saturday afternoon watching kids “mall” sugar cookies, icing and sprinkles as part of a big indoor carnival. The ladies from the church provided the cookies for Linda, one of our ladies who helps with the fishing team. You would be proud of me…no sugar cookies for me. 🙂  I’m not fond of them. However, if they had been chocolate chip…LOOK OUT!

Small towns will make a comeback, I predict. At least I think Spencer will. I’m proud to be a part of helping and watching Spencer be one of them. I anticipate even more in the future.

Just a little small town nostalgia for you… What do you remember about your hometown?

Warning

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

snow-falling-at-night-awesome-2

White stuff? What is that white stuff? More specifically: what is that white stuff falling from the sky?

Saturday started like many other days…lots to do and only a limited amount of time to do it all in. Someone was borrowing an 8′ table from the church for her booth and since I have a truck I told her I would bring it. Her Taurus vs. Nissan Frontier.  I win. While heading there it was overcast. Yay! I won’t have to wipe down the table. But since I knew I would be heading back in about 6 hours I left my cover folded up, exposing the truck bed. No problem…I have a Rhino liner.

When I headed back to see Jo and to eat lunch at the Tri Kappa bazaar, it was overcast and spitting rain. Shortly thereafter I was playing with one of the little girls from the church when someone told me to look outside. I wish I hadn’t! White stuff falling…thick and moist.

Perfect for snowballs or a snowman but lousy if your truck bed is open and you will  be carrying a table later.  Really lousy if you aren’t ready for that white stuff to fall. I mean…summer just got over!

I think it is safe to say there is a warning there. Winter is coming. Get ready. Get out those gloves and coats and hat (no hair requires one).

Too bad we don’t spend as much time getting ready for Jesus coming as we do getting ready for winter.

Ponderings

Monday, November 9th, 2015

I messed up this past weekend. A least here at Cycleguy’s Spin. For some reason I spaced it and blogged over the weekend about my sermon. “Aaaaah wrong week Bill.” The sermon mentioned in this weekend’s blog is not until this coming weekend. We had a guest speaker this past Sunday. Will & Teresa Reed visited with us over a year ago and have since been in South Sudan. Due to the unrest they found themselves home much sooner than expected so we asked Will to speak and bring us up to date. He did a tremendous job. (Teresa was at  another church speaking). I’m going a lot out of memory with this but here some of what he shared:

They were in Mundri, which is a  “city” in the southeast part of Sudan.

Sudan has only known war something like 65 out of the past 80 years. They became the newest country in the world just a few year ago but then started fighting among themselves.

They have found the people of Mundri willing to establish relationships and be friends without expecting handouts.

They had to evacuate Mundri due to the fighting and have found the government forces to be the main culprits of looting and destruction.

The people of Mundri have been living in the bush off leaves, twigs and anything else to sustain life but still say, “God is good.”

They were living in conditions which were not “ideal.” I will spare you the market and bathroom stories.

So much more. But Will & Teresa can’t wait to go back. Their target date is January or February. I have always felt it took a special person to be a missionary. That thought was solidified. I am not ashamed to admit that while I found their story fascinating, even riveting, I have no desire to do that. I will support those who do but do believe being a missionary would fall under spiritual gift.

One other pondering which hits closer to home: I walked away more aware and grateful for what I have. Shame on me when I take God’s blessings for granted. Do you find yourself taking stock from time to time about the blessings you have?

RollerCoaster

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

One of the phrases from the movie Independence Day is “Hello boys! I’m ba-a-a-a-a-ck!”

I’m not going to be quite that boisterous but after being gone for the better part of a week, it is good to be back.

Like many visits, I was on a roller coaster. I had the good time of driving about 6 hours and spending time with Jo. I listened to my music from time to time (but not too loud since she is not fond of it), but for the most part we talked. We spent the night in a hotel in order to cut short my next day’s drive and arrived early enough to change our plans that I could visit my dad in the nursing home. UP

We got to the nursing home and had to wait almost 2 hours for him to get back from the hospital (having tests) only to have him not know who I was. He also wanted to know who that lady was sitting across from him. As typical of most dementia patients, he asked the same questions over and over. We finally left after being there almost 3 hours. DOWN

We had a chance to spend time my two brothers. Rob & Joy were tremendous hosts…allowing us to stay with them. Joy played the super host even though her schedule is full. My third brother, Garry, and his wife and daughter came over to visit. We had a fun time. UP

We drove to Ohio and watched Braden practice football, spent Friday with him, and celebrated his 9th birthday on Saturday before we had to head home. UP and DOWN.

Life is a roller coaster. It is full of UPs and DOWNs. Highs and lows. What I’m glad about is God is on the mountain top and in the valley. It would be nice to live on a mountaintop but it is not practical. Nor typical.

Thanks to all who prayed for our trip. It was safe and routine (which is sometimes good).

Celebrate

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

One of the hardest things for many to do is to celebrate someone else’s fortune.

Either we don’t care

OR

our competitive juices get to flowing

OR

The ugly green monster rears its ugly head.

The Bible says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.” I’m afraid many of us do the opposite. We weep with those who rejoice and rejoice at those who weep. We have trouble seeing someone get ahead or enjoying something we ourselves want. And if someone gets ahead of us competitively…well there is just no reasoning with us.

That is why the video I am asking you to take a look at stands out so much. You may not care much for baseball. This video comes from the Little League World Series. What the young man batting does is phenomenal, but the real “star” of the show is the pitcher’s reaction. Watch it here.

Being a baseball lover, I absolutely love the action. The hit. The teammates. But this pitcher’s response is priceless. Maybe the church can learn a thing or two on how to rejoice in others’ pleasure.

What do you think?

 

JOY2

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

I did something different this past Sunday. I spoke about JOY (I am going through the fruit of the Spirit) and talked about the hindrances to joy and also the enhancements of joy. I chose to do it differently: the enhancements were actually the “answers” to the hindrances. Here is what I mean:

HINDRANCES

  1. Not understanding the difference between happiness and joy.
  2. Sin in our lives
  3. Misplaced confidence
  4. Experiencing trials of faith
  5. Grumbling and Complaining

ENHANCEMENTS

  1. Understanding the source of joy
  2. Confess and forsake sin
  3. Trust in God
  4. Proper perspective
  5. Give thanks

Sometimes things come a bit more easily when preaching than at other times. This was one of those time it came fairly easily. Don’t you wish having joy was that easy? There are times it is easy…when everything seems to be going our way. But that is not joy. That is happiness. Joy is apparent when not everything is going our way-when “C” comes to haunt us, we face financial reverses, nagging health issues, criticism and rejection, or even outright persecution. That is when we find out about joy and where it comes from.

One more simple word: pass the joy around. What about you? Do you have joy or happiness?

GIFT

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

I’ve been doing some soul-searching the past couple of weeks, especially these past couple of days with Father’s Day upon us. FD is like Thanksgiving in many ways: it takes a back seat to Mother’s Day like Thanksgiving often does to Christmas.

My situation is even more unique. Being a pastor, my girls received another moniker: PK. Pastor’s kid. Preacher’s kid. Translated: kids under a microscope. Kid living in glass house. Kid most often embarrassed by father’s profession. What has gotten me reflective of late is an article I recently read about PKs. The gist of the article was how many leave the faith-some to return and some not to. It is a tenuous balance to be sure. Kids want to be “themselves” but feel this great pressure to not be left out or to stick out like a sore thumb.

The greatest hindrance, though, is the double life PKs often see their parents live, especially the father. They also see and hear firsthand the church wars waged, as they see and hear things said about their mom and dad no child should hear. They also see and hear things about people and churches no child should from their parents. While I certainly wasn’t a perfect father (there is only ONE of those), I sincerely hope I left my girls with something of value.

You see, we ALL leave behind something-a legacy if you want to call it that-which our children and grandchildren either adopt or discard. While I never had a flashy financial picture to give them, I know I could have done better (I rue the day I ever heard of a credit card and financing for new cars).

One thing I don’t regret: trying to pass on a legacy of faith. I wanted/encouraged my girls to forge a faith of their own. I knew and know that my faith would not see them through life-only their own would. And while I can’t leave them a financial empire, I can leave them with something even better: a love for Jesus.

That is my greatest gift. What will you leave behind?