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#Where’sBill?#GreatDisappearningAct

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

I’ve been largely absent from this blog this week. Okay…I haven’t been here at all, except to tell myself I ought to post something. I could shoot you all kinds of excuses but you might think I’m just blowing smoke. I don’t smoke so it can’t be that.  It’s just plain being busy.

Ryan is out of the office this week. I told him several weeks ago I expected him to find a week where he, Hope and the kids can get away. No office. No media (although I have no control over his phone use).  He has been working hard through this whole COVID thing trying to stay in touch with the kids. Lots of ZOOM meetings with them. Studying to make their time productive.  He even had an early Sunday morning time with the elementary kids! They sang; they danced (the kids did); he taught them and they loved it. He did too. But then he would rush to the church building and be one of the 4 who were here-Jo (Power Point); Tami (recording for FB); Ryan (sound and recording); and me (preaching…I think).  He took on the added responsibility of helping get our fledgling recording of the worship started and moving. He also had two weeks of Wilderness Week at our church camp cancelled (they cancelled the whole summer). So along with some frustration was some sadness.  He was tired and wore out.  So they went camping.

Today is his and Hope’s anniversary (#15 I think) and they decided to spend it together backpacking. Not to worry. They spent their honeymoon camping as they traveled cross country.  I affiliate with strange people you know? 🙂 In all honesty, there is no underestimating his value to the team. I am so grateful that he left a secure bank job to become our youth pastor. The dude knows how to minister. 

My week has been full with appointments, one that went way past my normal bedtime.  Yesterday I spent time visiting some folks who would love to be there on Sunday but are being cautious because of underlying health issues.  It was a fun afternoon. But when I do those things it takes me out of the office.

So…out of office…no blog. I know, I know. Makes you sadder than all get out. I love my job. I prefer to call it my calling. I love seeing people. It has been a good week.  I look forward to tomorrow except for the doctor’s visit at 7 a.m. which is a follow-up to lab work from last Friday. But I get to spend the day with Jo! That’s always good.

Hope your week was good. Anything you can share about it that will put a smile to my face?

#Monday#StartoffRight!

Monday, June 15th, 2020

“Rainy days and Mondays always get me down” is what the Carpenters sang back in the Dark Ages.  That’s circa early 1970s for you young ones. 🙂

Monday often sets the pace for the rest of the week.  It is “Back to work” time.  The attitude we have will set the tone for our day and our week.  Our Worship Team led us in worship this past Sunday with the following song. I’m not going to say much more about it.  The first time I heard it I was driving and Jo put her phone on YouTube and we listened to it in my truck. I was blown away by the sound and the lyrics.  I am starting your week off with that song. I guarantee that once you hear it, it will stay with you.

Here is the song.

#AllLivesMatter#NoMatterWho

Monday, June 8th, 2020

I wrote this for my Communion Thought/Mediation for this past Sunday (yesterday).  As I laid my head on the pillow last night I was thinking ahead to this morning’s Quiet Time.  This came rumbling back into my mind and when I woke up this morning it was still there. I decided I would share it with you today.

Events of the past week/week and a half have probably both sickened us and angered us. The death of someone should sicken and sadden us. The wanton destruction of lives and property is despicable and should anger us.  What I am about to say is not a political statement as you will see at the end:

Black lives matter.

White lives matter.

Chinese lives matter.

Russian lives matter.

American lives matter.

African lives matter.

Homosexual lives matter.

Straight lives matter.

Unborn babies’ lives matter.

Birth defected babies’ lives matter.

Young lives matter.

Old lives matter.

Rich lives matter.

Poor lives matter.

American lives matter.

Muslim lives matter.

The list is endless. Nowhere in the Scripture does it say anyone’s life doesn’t matter. Nor does it say anyone’s life is worth more than another.

How do I know that?  Romans 3:23 tells me “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  We are all infected with the same disease. It is called SIN. 

As a result…WE ALL NEED A SAVIOR.

And again, how do I know that? Because John 3:16 hasn’t changed. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (ESV)  There is a saying which says, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.”  It does not matter who we are. It does not matter what color, race, nationality, status in life we are. We all have to come to the cross on the same level-sinners in need of a Savior.  No one group of people is singled out as being more important or more deserving of God’s love than any other.  (End of devotion)

We all must recognize our sad, sorry state of the inability to meet God’s standards and realize we are all the same. No life matters more than any other. 

#PromisesPromises#Wisdom

Friday, June 5th, 2020

Most people are familiar with one of the most amazing stories of wisdom in all of literature. It involves two mothers fighting over a dead child and a live child. Discarding the dead child, they began to argue over whose the live one was. The arbitrator declares to split the baby in half and give each one a part. One says, “Yes” while the other says, “No.” The judge decides the one who said no is the real mother simply because the real mother would never want her child to die. You probably recognize that as a story in the life of King Solomon, who shortly before that event had taken over as king of Israel.

I started working on this first sermon in the new series, Promises, Promises, on May 11th.  I think it was week #1952 of what had become known as the lockdown. Okay, so maybe it was only week #9, but you have to admit to some it sure felt like an eternity! 🙂  When the Covid-19 mess took over, I decided to change my whole summer series of sermons and focus on Biblical promises/answers to challenges which have risen as a result of life (not just the virus). Then the George Floyd event happened.

The question we all face is this: “What now?” How do I respond not only to the whole Covid thing, but also to the senseless killing and violence as a result. How do I filter my own thoughts? We need to start by seeking wisdom-divine wisdom-not man’s wisdom. As we have seen, man’s wisdom falls short.

My sermon Sunday is Wisdom to Find the Right Page and will be from Proverbs 1: 1-7, 20-32.  What better place to start than there? I would deeply appreciate your prayers as I start this important, and possibly life-changing series.  And just as an aside: you can watch it on our FB page or on YouTube as it is live-streamed. The link to those is on the church’s website. Thanks for visiting here and for your prayers. 

#Different#GraceNeeded

Monday, June 1st, 2020

I’m in Ohio for the first part of this week so I will say right up front that I wrote this Saturday night. Sunday has not happened yet (obviously) 🙂   So as I write this I have no idea what tomorrow (Sunday) will bring. I am cautiously optimistic since that tends to be my nature.  But here is what I wrote Saturday night:

Costi Hinn is Bennie’s nephew. Several years ago he broke away from the health/wealth/prosperity (un)gospel Bennie preaches (and still does) to follow Jesus. In a recent blog he wrote, Costi wrote the following (referring to navigating the COVID-19 crisis and getting back to assembling together:

If there is one word to describe how we must navigate re-assimilation it’s this: grace.

I can see that. Even among the three of us (Ryan, Diana, and me) we have different ideas. I’m more eager to get back together and if I had my druthers go full bore. I agree with the man in my congregation who said, “Bill, I am so tired of hearing certain words: masks, social distancing, hand sanitizer (and others I can’t remember).” Even though Jim is in a highly volatile business (grocery store), I can’t argue.  Ryan is tired of the whole mess and has seen his plans for the summer go up in smoke and new ones will have to be developed. Diana is the cautious one of the three. Always has been. But we agree to disagree and move on. We worked on putting a plan in place we all agreed on and we will continue doing that.

  • I am the spur ahead, but sometimes careful, optimist.
  • Ryan is the contemplative direction (he likes spreadsheets) and thinking things through logically guy.  🙂
  • Diana is the cautious realist. (She is female after all).

Blend all three together and you have our reopening plan. We need all kinds of people and grace is needed.  I haven’t always liked the slow moving but it is necessary to tone me down. If I was a betting man (which I’m not), I probably irritated the two of them somewhere along the way.  I despise the idea of wearing a mask and social distancing.  Our people spoke through the survey we sent out and so in deference to them I will do what needs to be done.  Oh yeah, and the governor of Indiana, whom I respect for the way he has tried to handle this mess.  🙂

Here’s what Costi says:

  1. Optimistic people are a blessing to my life.
  2. Cautious people are a blessing to my life.
  3. Different gifts and approaches make us all more effective.
  4. People matter more than my opinion.

So…what will it be? Grace or bull-headedness?

“Father, help me to choose grace, to choose love over my own desires and wisdom.”

Note: I have also posted this on my other blog, Living in the Shadow.

#FromtheHeart#Observations

Friday, May 29th, 2020

This Sunday is a week of transition on several fronts.

First, we plan to meet in person for the first time in at least two months at 9 and 10:45. We will have some safety recommendations in place and we will expect them to be followed in order for all to feel comfortable.

Second, it is a week of transition from the series on Colossians (which I finished last week) to a new series I am starting next Sunday called Promises, Promises.  In our grand scheme of things Ryan was going to preach this weekend so I could go away while he went away this past weekend. However, his plans changed, but then he let it be known that he did not feel he should preach the first Sunday back to in-person worship.  So I changed my plans to be here in the morning and then leave after our worship for a few days in Ohio.

Ryan paid me a great honor by believing I should preach this first Sunday back. As I was studying for it, I decided he has had as much influence, if not more, during this pandemic mess as me, only in a different way. His shepherding of the kids was out-of-this-world and I felt like I wanted to share the “stage” with him. So I asked him to join me for the morning as we just talk about what we have gone through. I drew up four questions I’d like us to answer:

  • What we observed
  • How we felt
  • How we filled our days
  • What’s on the horizon?

Those bullet points might lead you to believe it is about us. It isn’t. Neither one of us would be comfortable if it was. We are going to be sitting in chairs and just talking to the folks as if we were sitting in their living room.  Please feel free to join us at 10:45. That is the only service which will be live streamed.  You can join our FB page at Owen Valley Christian Fellowship-Spencer, Indiana. Ask to be approved and either Diana or Tami will approve you.  You will then have access to our page 24/7,  as well as the live stream.

In any case, would you please pray for me, Ryan and the church as we prepare for Sunday? Thanks.

#Loved#Surprised#WOW!

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

I have a file in my office I have titled “Makes it All Worthwhile.” It is filled with cards, notes, pictures and miscellaneous things people have sent or given me over the years to remind me of their love, prayers, thanks, and all-around encouragement. With the onset of texting I sometimes receive encouragement that I cannot put into that file. Yesterday, was one such day.  I was in the dermatologist’s office and when I got back to my truck checked my phone.  I had received the following text. I am withholding the person’s name but will text that person with the link to this post. I want him/her to know how much their text meant to me.  Here is the text:

6 different times in the last two days, I have had you heavy on my heart. I did some digging and found this in Jeremiah- “and I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”

This is what I feel like I’m supposed to remind you of:

The crap of the world right now can be discouraging. Can feel like you aren’t able to do what God has called you to do in the capacity you normally do it. But don’t be discouraged by that. You are reaching people that you may have never reached because you are forced to do so online. You got this because God’s got this and you are totally a dude after his own heart.

Love you! Happy Tuesday!

My response:

“Was in doc office and don’t take my phone in. I’m emotional over your text because you care. And I love you and appreciate you for that. It has definitely been different but I’m also seeing God come through in a big way. I’m excited about telling the folks how.”

One of the people I shepherd sent that to me.  A guy can go a long way on encouragement like that. He/she has no idea how that made my day and my drive home yesterday morning. So here is my question to you: have you told your pastor how much he means to you? I guarantee it will go a long way in lifting his spirits.

#Compelled#GiveItAll

Monday, May 11th, 2020

I’ve been reading When to Walk Away (Finding Freedom from Toxic People) by Gary Thomas. Lots of good stuff! I am learning so much! But there was a statement he made that rang true to me and has stuck with me.

Don’t worry about what you don’t yet have. Just give whatever God has given you.

I think all of us, no matter who we are, wonder from time to time if we are giving God all we can.  Or sometimes we feel somewhat incomplete is what we give or maybe unequal to the task. “If only I could do…” or “If only I had…” Next time you are hankering a pity party consider the saying above. I heard it once said, “God is not so much interested in your ability, as He is your availability.”

Be compelled to be His. Be compelled to Give it All.

#Drive-By#WorthIt#

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

Have you ever wondered if what you are doing is making any kind of difference in someone’s life? I think we all have those thoughts. Something we do goes unappreciated or at least unnoticed. We don’t hear a thank you for some heartfelt action we took. We gave it our all and instead of encouragement someone finds fault. That’s the way of life I guess.

BUT IT SURE IS NICE TO HEAR GOOD WORDS UPON OCCASION!

In one of my recent posts, I mentioned by “drive-by” approach.  You can read about that here.  I am not doing it so I can hear good words back. I am doing it for two reasons: 1) So the people know they are loved and being cared about; and 2) for me. That’s right. It is for me. I miss people and if this gives me a chance to pray for and then chat with people face-to-face then I’m happy. I am also convinced it was an idea that came from a pastor’s heart to a listening God.  It has gone well so far. I’ve had 3 afternoons of visits and most have been home and come to the door or stood on their porch. Yesterday (Monday) I had 2 not home-which I expected- and 2 home. I had fantastic visits with people (making sure we were more than 6 feet away. I found out one was home and I didn’t know it. I’ve asked her permission to reprint her email to me. She says a world of truth in it. I have edited it to keep out the name of her company.  She gave me permission to include her name.

Good morning Bill,

Last Thursday (business name) told us that we were staying home until at least June 1st, then we would go back in waves, what those waves look like, who knows. I am studying the minor prophets with the girls in bible study, there I was being Jonah for sure, pouting under my plant, feeling sorry for myself. I even told God, I know this is wrong, I need to keep my focus on you, this is just more circumstances, but I’m sick of staying home all by myself, all kinds of me me me stuff. I tried to spend some time reading Paul, my favorite writer in the Bible, pray more, but with the raining, windy, colder weekend, I was still Jonah. Monday morning came, I went to my computer and I said Lord I know I pouted most of the weekend, even tried to pretend like I wasn’t, but you know where my heart is. I just couldn’t shake it. Sometime Monday afternoon, all of the sudden I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. I wasn’t praying at the time or even thinking about what was going on. It just made me stop what I was doing, it just felt like a big wave washed over me, my stubbornness pouting self just left. I said thank-you Lord, I was tired of pouting under my plant. I just couldn’t see what I needed even though I knew where the answer was. Thanks for just removing my pouting stubbornness on your own, making my mind clear to focus back on you. I went to the mailbox, around 4:30, and when I came back to the house, I saw your card. I missed it on the way out. I thanked God, for you. I sat down on the porch prayed, for you and our church. I thanked God, that he listened to you to speed up my recovery, and to put a stop to my pity party. Everyone keeps saying that these are some strange times we are dealing with, but honestly if you read the Bible, know about the spiritual warfare, this is nothing new to God. Our world has turned their back on God, we as Christians need to show the world our joy, and peaceful heart, that you can only have through God. It’s a really an opportunity to display that, I could not focus on that pouting. Thank you Bill, I know not all prayers have such a quick response but from my heart to yours, thanks for the push.

Gail

All that to say I was humbled by her email. I was certainly humbled God used me that way (and that quickly).  But let me leave a word with you. If you know of someone who needs thanked for an “above and beyond” during this time, take the time to tell him/her.

#AvoidThese!#Devastating

Saturday, April 25th, 2020

I’m a little bit late posting about the sermon this week. It, despite the encouragement to stay inside, has been a busy one. You can read here the approach I have taken starting this week.  That took me away from the office two afternoons.  But I am loving it and actually getting to see some people at a distance. It has satisfied, for now, my desire to see the people and to let them know I am thinking of them.

There is a tradition in Poland I read about. It started over 700 years ago. Every day from the steeple of St. Mary’s Church a bugle is sounded. The last note of the bugle is muted and broken, as if some disaster had befallen the bugler. This 700+ year commemoration is in memory of a heroic trumpeter who one night summoned the people to defend their city against the hordes of invading Tartars. As he was sounding the last blast on his trumpet, an arrow from one of the Tartars struck and killed him. So there is always a muted note at the end. The Krakovians (Krakow, Poland) have never forgotten this heroic warning.

Part of American history is the warning of Paul Revere that the British were coming. Some of you are old enough to remember the air raid drills in school where they hoarded us together in the hallway with no windows, sat us down, had us put our heads between our knees, and cover our heads.

Our life is filled with warning signs. Some very blatant; some as subtle as a lump or a cough or a stumble. Some are heeded immediately; some pushed aside as a cold or aging. The current Covid-19 virus has a list of warning signs of possible infection. The Bible is filled with warnings.

Some of those warnings are of a false gospel.  Read Galatians 1 for Paul’s feelings about the false gospel. In this week’s passage- Colossians 2:16-23- Paul warns them of three false teachings to avoid.  I’ll make it easy for you. They are legalism, spiritualism, and asceticism. You might be surprised how they are applicable to our day and time.  We will, once again, be using FB to stream the service. We have new equipment coming which someone donated the money for so please be patient with us as we try to overcome the hurdles which we were (admittedly) unprepared for.

Thanks for your prayers.