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Involvement

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

I interrupted my posts from last week to interject one about Sunday’s sermon.  I’d like to finish that series of posts with this one. For the purpose of review you can see the others:

Mission

Vision #1

Vision #2

#3: To be involved in our community.

It is easy-as a church and as individuals-to bury our head in the sand or to put our hands over our eyes and say, “It doesn’t happen here. If so, I don’t want to know.” The church needs to stop hiding behind its walls and stained glass windows (which we don’t have) and get involved. Change won’t happen unless we do. We will bemoan the fact “our town is going to hell in a hand-basket” but really have no right to say that unless or until we do something to stem the tide.

Speaking for OVCF, we have no desire to be one of those churches.

It used to be (and I’m ashamed to admit this) but my world was secluded to the church and church people I was called to shepherd. I did very little, and cared very little, for those outside the church walls. How ugly is that? Then I harped on the people to invite their friends and neighbors. I look back now and say, “Why? Why would I invite anyone to hear me?”

Everything changed when I moved here…gradually. I fell in love with the people of the church first, and by proxy, the town. But then I started making myself available in the community. I’m a member of the Chamber of Commerce board and other ventures. We have an annual Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas breakfast where we serve the community free. I’ve recently taken a deep interest in human trafficking and will be talking to a local judge who is spearheading the task force as to what we can do. Next Sunday, the 6th, OVCF will be partnering with two other churches in the community to do our Day or Service. The church building is a registered Safe Place venue.

I could tell you so much more. Huh, maybe I will in the next post. GET INVOLVED. DON’T HIDE BEHIND WALLS.

Models

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

The other two installments of will bring you more completely up to date and put you in line with this post.

MISSION: TO CONNECT PEOPLE TO JESUS

VISION #1: WE DESIRE TO BE PASSIONATE PURSUERS OF JESUS.

VISION #2: WE DESIRE TO BE MODELS OF TRUTH AND LOVE

This one can get a little dicey. We have to run a fine line between acceptance of the individual and approval of sin. The church is being slammed hard in this area. You know that as well as I do. We are being asked to compromise biblical values in order to be more inclusive. We are being seen as judgmental or (dare I say it?) homophobic because we take a stand against what we believe to be an unbiblical and unacceptable lifestyle.

The fine line we walk is between compassion and compromise.

Sadly, the church today is known more for what it is against than it stands for. Rather than being a card carrying member of the placard-waving Westwood clan, perhaps we would do well to be known for what we are for.

  • We stand for the acceptance and approval of each person as one who matters to God. (There. Now you know what I think of the Black Lives Matter/White Lives Matter/Hispanic Lives Matter stuff. WE ALL MATTER and are loved by the Heavenly Father).
  • We stand for building a stronger family.
  • We stand for the decrease and abuse of drugs, alcohol and children.
  • We stand for putting in safety measures to stop the easy access to pornography.
  • We stand for young people and helping them get out of human trafficking.

Models of truth and love. Easy to say; not so easy to do. What say you?

Pursuit

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

In my last post, I talked about the Mission of OVCF. You can see that post here. I realize there are all sorts of different explanations for the difference between mission and vision. I have one that I feel comfortable with and use that as a guide.

The Mission is what we do.

The Vision is how we hope/plan to accomplish that mission.

MISSION: TO CONNECT PEOPLE TO JESUS

The $1000 question is “How can we make that happen?” The following is what was shared Sunday. In order to be cognizant of length, I’m going to do this in three posts.

#1: WE DESIRE TO BE PASSIONATE PURSUERS OF JESUS.

Our #1 goal is not to build a big church. It is not to have a huge nursery or the best youth program. Our first and primary pursuit should be running fully after Jesus. It goes without saying: we cannot lead people where we ourselves are not going or have not been. That would be like taking your child into the forest and telling them to follow a path and then going the opposite direction. Makes no sense.

Paul knew this principle. In Philippians 3:10 he wrote, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.” The word know is the word which means “intimate knowledge.” In other words, Paul was drawing a line in the sand between a head knowledge and a heart knowledge. There are tons of people who know a lot about Jesus, the Bible and other teachings. The atheist knows the Bible and knows the teachings of Jesus! But it is head knowledge. We need heart knowledge.

A passionate pursuer of Jesus desires to have a heart knowledge, one full to the brim and running over. Are you one?

ID

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

If you look into the right margin of the blog, you will see an icon with RoadID. If you click on it, it will take you to a website of well…RoadID. RoadID is a series of products designed to tell people who you are in case of an accident. I wear three. The Slim ID. The FIXX ID.  And the Sport ID. I wear the Slim 24/7. The other two I wear when I am cycling. The motto of Road ID is Its Who We Are. In case of an emergency it is designed to let them know your name, age, contact person, any medical alerts, doctor (in my case) and a saying (Live the Adventure). You can actually design one however you want.

My message during the 12th Anniversary of the church was just that: It’s Who We Are. I also involved Ryan so he could give his thoughts from a youth-oriented perspective.

I started with this quote:

Without vision, there is rarely direction. Without direction, there are no goals. And without goals, there is not progress.

Our goal- our Mission- is simple and straightforward:

TO CONNECT PEOPLE TO JESUS

We get our cue from Jesus who said, “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”  He also said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinner to repentance.” We get our cue from Matthew 28:19-20.

To my way of thinking: it is sort of hard to mess that up.

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.  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. 🙂

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!  No rain whatsoever. Thank you God for answering prayer!! And for those of you who prayed-both OVCF people and my readers-thanks. 🙂 A lot was accomplished.

Solid!

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Solid

 

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”  Bilbo Baggins in Fellowship of the Ring

That statement sort of sums up how I feel. To wade into the minefield of truth is dangerous business. If we don’t keep our moorings, we could be swept off into who know where. But failing to do so, leaves us like we are wearing a pair of too large pants without a belt. They are going to come down and reveal personal items to others. 🙂

Truth: the inadequacy of what you believe will soon be exposed for all to see.

Things sure have changed. When I was in college I heard about a preacher named J.W. McGarvey (late 1800/early 1900s). During his lifetime the Bible came under siege and someone asked him if he was going to defend the Bible. His answer was striking: “No. The Bible doesn’t need defended. It defends itself.”

I’m not too sure that is a reasonable-or viable-argument today. The fight over the Bible has become more and more volatile, more and more pronounced.

TRUTH MATTERS

Over the next two months my sermon series will be looking at truth: God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Bible and the Church. I’m calling it SOLID! because our day and age requires we do what Peter says, “Always be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within.” I’d appreciate your prayers.

MessyGrace

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

First, I apologize for this post being a bit longer than my normal ones. Just warning you…. 🙂

When I first came to OVCF I carried with me a strong desire to be a church of No Perfect People Allowed. Not only was I ready to do church differently after serving at a very traditional church (I loved the people though), I was also greatly influenced by John Burke’s book, No Perfect People Allowed (which I devoured twice and led in some small groups). I’m veteran enough now to know copying someone’s methods won’t work, but the ideology was something which resonated in my spirit. Fortunately, the folks here were ready to jump on board with me.

In all honesty, neither I, nor they knew exactly what that would mean. No one does. It certainly means more than the way a person is dressed or whether he/she is OCD. It is about creating a come-as-you-are culture in the church. The scenarios are numerous and I would actually encourage you to pick up Burke’s book (as well as Unshockable Love). The reality of this type of church culture is an “open door” policy, some of what you have no clue what you are getting into.

Enter….

Product Details

Caleb is a pastor now. He was also raised by LGBT parents. His father and mother divorced, his mother had her lover/wife, and years later he learned his father was also gay. He marched in gay pride parades as a youngster, and experienced the hatred and bitterness of some Christians toward his family.

But then Caleb surprised everyone by becoming a Christ-follower. Maligned, but never disowned by his parents, Caleb stood firm in his convictions. He loves his parents; loved his mother’s wife (now deceased); and continues to have dialogue with his (now converted) celibate parents.

The purpose of his book is to show that Jesus’ command to love your neighbor does not have a clause which says, “Except for ______________” That exception is, as you can guess, for the LGBT people.  I liked the way Caleb interspersed his personal story with stories of people he met along the way (both straight and gay) and how they impacted his life. What I really like is Caleb doesn’t give blanket, easy solutions to the issue. You know where he stands on the morality of homosexuality, but never once do you find a condemnatory tone.

Grace, by its very definition is Messy.

Right after reading Caleb’s book, I read another one.

Product Details

Out of a Far Country by Christopher Yuan and his mother, Angela Yuan, is a book you also need to read.  Raised by Chinese parents (atheist), Christopher eventually adopted the gay lifestyle and lived full-bore as a gay man. His hatred for all things “God” is real. His mother’s unexpected conversion spurred that hatred even more. But eventually praying parents (after some time his father also converted to Christ) who continued to love him; a drug-addled existence; getting caught and imprisoned for selling drugs;  being diagnosed as HIV+, led to his conversion. Today Christopher teaches as an adjunct professor at Moody and also travels speaking on homosexuality and the church’s response (as his health allows). Yeah, there was no miracle “cure” for his HIV+ status. This is Christopher’s story and reads quickly. There is no lambasting over the homosexual issue. Christoper, like Caleb, sees them as people in need of a life-perserver (Jesus) who offers what so many are looking for.

My suggestion is you get your copies of both of these books. I believe it will open your eyes and heart to a whole new approach toward those in the gay lifestyle. And while you are at it, check out Matt & Laurie’s site Hole in My Heart here. They are both open and honest about their struggles (Laurie with SSA and Matt with porn).

Well…you have my thoughts. Time for you to act. Let me know what you are thinking.

Centered

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

So…I have a question for you to think about.

And I will say right up front this is mostly focused on those who attend church and have a reasonable idea of what they are looking for when they do.

For as long as I can remember, the tradition I grew up in would say things like “We preach the Bible here.” “We are a church which preaches the Bible and nothing else” (as opposed to any creed). “We are a Bible-believing, Bible-preaching church.”  (Let’s hope so).

I now wonder if perhaps those are the wrong things to say. Say what?

I wonder if we have put so much emphasis on “Bible-preaching church” that we have almost made an idol of the Bible. Don’t get me wrong. (Go here and read the fourth statement. Those are my words in print). But I can remember from my teen years being told we are not to worship the Bible but the God/Author of the Bible.

So…here’s my question: Which is better to say: “We are a Jesus-centered church or a Bible-centered church?”

What do you think?

Reporting(A)Live

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

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I’m going to be honest with you: I’ve been so excited over our Day of Service I’m having trouble knowing just what to say.

WOW!!! seems small.

FANTASTIC!! seems inadequate.

BEAUTIFUL!! seems simplistic.

SUCCESS!! seems bombastic.

But all those words describe how I feel the day went. For those of you who do not know what I am referring to I would suggest this post and this post (in that order).

All told about 60-70 people hit the streets, yards, porches, bathrooms, and centers of Spencer Sunday afternoon. We took off by 12:30 eager to work and arrived back at the church building staggered between 3:30-4:45. We replaced a storm door; built steps; fixed a bathroom & installed a fan/heater; changed oil, filters, shocks, and a strut; raked so many leaves they could have buried the town; cleaned gutters; served a meal to seniors; raked and blew leaves in the cemetery (which is coming under fire because the folks can’t keep up with the work required); cleaned flower beds; replaced leaky faucets; and other things. Our people were tired, thirsty, hungry (for ice cream), but smiling real big. Several even asked to do this real soon, like more than once a year. I was happy to tell them a Spring Day of Service was already on the docket…just not a concrete date yet.

I received a call today from one very grateful lady for the storm door.

Yesterday I was told over and over “thanks” for the oil change.

Then I heard the One who matters say, “Well done, good and faithful servants.” But I also heard, “Okay, now. Make is a lifestyle.” That is my prayer: it will be a learning experience and become a way of life for all.

Thanks to all of you who prayed and asked about our day. Honestly, saying thanks seems less than adequate. But if nothing else happens, I do hope it will inspire you to do something for someone else.  That is one way to follow the example of Jesus.

Service

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

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Can a pastor be so stoked that he is ready to jump past several days to get to the day?  Please say “YES!!!”  Here’s why.

This Sunday, following a short message (Aaaaah yeah) and a soup,crackers, & pb sandwich lunch, close to 70 of our people will be heading out into the community to serve. We will be feeding meals to seniors in a center. Working around that same center doing gutters, flowerbeds, raking leaves, etc. We will be going elsewhere fixing a bathroom for one elderly lady and putting steps in so a man can use his walker to go up and down the steps. (They are currently too steep). We will have crews raking leaves, cleaning out gutters, gathering shrub, helping some move, giving free oil changes and a host of other odd jobs.

I AM STOKED!! Too see over 70 people volunteer to give up 3-4 hours on a Sunday afternoon to make a difference has got me wired. There is so much to do in our community we are even planning a Spring event.

There is also some silver lining when we are all done. We will be coming back to the church building for each person to build their own ice cream sundae…AND…(if they want to) give a short testimony of what they did and what they learned.

The sermon is on Choosing to Serve but I suspect the best sermon of all will be the folks who head out to put feet to their faith. I’d appreciate your prayers for our venture, for safety for all, and an impact to be made. Not for the church but for Jesus. Thanks.