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BREAKTIME!

Monday, November 20th, 2017

I remember my grandfather talking about break time. He worked for USS (when it was still a viable entity) as a welder. He looked forward to breaks. Those were the days before cell phones when breaks were spent laughing and eating. Not like now. Pull that phone out and start texting and maybe take a bite between texts. Grandad used to pack his lunch and I would sometimes be there when he did. Two slices of Roman Meal bread with ketchup only in between them. I’m not sure if it was because of frugality or because he just liked it. I can think of better things to put between two slabs of Roman Meal bread (which I still like a lot) than ketchup. Jo thinks it is hilarious (and makes sure others know) that I sweat (nose and forehead) when I use ketchup. (Note: My uncle (grandad’s son) just reminded me about the mustard-between-two-slices-of-bread sandwich).  Memory is the first thing to go.

Anyway…grandad looked forward to taking some time to ease his tired muscles and joints from the grind of welding by relaxing. He was an avid Pirate fan and would listen to the night games if he worked the night shift with his transistor radio connected to this huge battery by a gumband. (Go look up Pittsburgh-ese for what it is).

I’m taking grandad’s suggestion. I’m pulling away for a few days. I have a couple busy days leading up to Thanksgiving, but the biggest plan is for Thanksgiving Day. The church is serving a dinner from 11-1:00 to the community. We have done it for the last 4 years and each year it has grown. What has really grown…and this is the part I’m directly involved in (Jo does the meal)…is delivery. So far we have over 40 deliveries of Thanksgiving meals to make. It’s a lot of work but a lot of fun. The people pitch in to help. I get to organize and send them out. All the folks have to do is call in for a meal and we will “jimmy John” them their meal.

The best part of the week though is Friday. Janna and Braden will be coming in for the weekend while Jason works on their bathroom. I think that is a pretty good trade-off!! I’d say Jason can take all year but I don’t think that would fly very well. 🙂 They will be here all weekend. Yeah…I will be preoccupied.

I’m going to pre-program my weekend post. It will come out White Friday. (Why do they call it Black Friday anyway? Because you lose all your money?).

Anyway, have a great Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for many things: Jo, Tami, Janna, Braden, Jason, OVCF, my family-at-large, my friends, and for you.  Blessings to all and to all a… Oops wrong holiday.

Patience

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Okay…before you think I’m going to go from being a friend to meddling 🙂  I want to put you at ease. I’m not going to rehash the age old adage of “patience is a virtue” and stuff like that.

Let me take it another direction.

Several words are used to describe or define what characteristic of God I am speaking about Sunday: longsuffering (the old King Jimmy word) or patience. We like to talk about God’s patience because it speaks of longevity. You know…I can keep doing and doing wrong and God is patient with me. People keep putting off salvation because they want to believe God is patient and even after death His patience will be experienced.

God is a god of perfect love, one with an incredible amount of patience. I should know: I’m typing this. I used to think God was this demanding judge, standing with a paddle in His hand. Psalm 103 paints a totally different picture of God.  That does not sound at all like a God who just can’t wait to get His hands around your throat! Nor does it sound like a God who can’t wait to throw darts at your picture. God’s love for His people knows no limits. And I am thankful for that!

But don’t be fooled. There will come a day when God’s patience will run out and a less favorite attribute will become a reality: His wrath. That is another subject for another day.

I would appreciate your prayers for this Sunday’s worship. Thanks.

YOU

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Pat Williams, a leadership writer and also senior vice-president of the Orlando Magic, once wrote:

A leader is not just someone who takes charge. A leader is someone who takes charge and does the right thing. It’s not enough to make a decision; it needs to be the right decision resulting from strong character. It is not enough to take action; it needs to be the right action, prompted by strong character. (Leadership Excellence)

There are three illegitimate sources of influence people fall back on: Position, Power, and Prestige. None of those will “hold their weight.” When push comes to shove, they are nothing more than a house of cards.

In your mind, what is the single, most important character quality a leader (or anyone for that matter) can show? If you said “being a servant” give yourself an ice cream treat!  If you don’t like ice cream, I take gift cards. 🙂

Teams won’t be winning teams until they learn to serve each other.  As long as each player is in it for himself or herself, that team will not win. No pitcher has pitched a no-hitter without 8 other guys on the team. We should use our influence not to gratify or satisfy self, but to serve others. We take that very seriously here at OVCF and have worked hard to make that part of our church culture. This Sunday we have one service followed by a meal with The Connection (a church in town we have asked to join us) and then the two churches will spread out into the community doing free service for everyone who called to ask.  No strings attached…just service.

Your prayers for good weather (chance of rain) and for safety would be much appreciated.

Lazered-in

Friday, October 27th, 2017

When our girls were born in 1975 and 1979 there were no such things as sonograms. Least we had never heard of them. Today, they are pretty much a staple in pregnancies. Most couples have a sonogram done because there is nothing quite like going to the doctor’s office, hearing the assuring rhythms of a little heartbeat, then seeing the image of the baby on the screen. The doctor prints off the black-and-white picture, says, “See that? You have a boy!”; and the parents treasure the opportunity to show their parents and friends, even posting it on social media. The wait for the birth seems excruciatingly painful (in more ways than one), but they do it for the sheer joy of holding the baby in their arms.

The sonogram (in theory) serves as a picture of what is to come. They provide wonderful images, but are really only a shadow of what is to come. And so it is with Scripture. The shadow of the OT gives way to the substance of the New.

There are two core values we hold dearly at OVCF which go hand in hand.  Those values are Word-Focused and Authenticity-Minded. As Paul told Timothy: “Continue in what you have learned…all Scripture is breathed out by God…” A proper focus on Scripture brings a proper focus upon our lives.

My sermon this morning continues the HILLS series by looking at our Core Values.

Jesus-Centered

Word-Focused

Authenticity-minded

I’ll cover the other two next week. Your prayers would be appreciated this week. Thanks.

Reflections

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

I had every intention on posting this immediately but life got in the way. Plus…I needed time to process the weekend. So much was going on that my head literally “swam.” (I am still suffering from some vertigo so that is not far from the truth). 🙂

My day Thursday was highlighted by picking up a new friend at the airport. His name is Dave Waechter and he is now the leader of “3 Feet Please,” the advocacy group for giving cyclists three feet of safe distance when being passed. Dave and I hit it off immediately. He likes pizza. He loves ice cream. He loves cycling. He loves to talk. And even though he is a very intelligent man, never once did I feel he talked down to me. He is involved in IT consulting and has been with the Suicide Prevention Network in Tempe since it started. He has a good and kind heart. The death of his friend, Lynn, by being hit by a car while cycling has deeply affected him but he is using it to make things happen. The big disappointment (besides not being able to ride this trip) was his daughter, Nina, his cohort in cycling was unable to come with him. Dave fit into our family like we have known each other all our lives. Jo & Tami felt very comfortable with him. And I was particularly thrilled he enjoyed being with us Sunday and felt very at home.

Sunday was the really big day I wrote about in this post. Our celebration was super and, I believe, God-honoring. Ryan and I both talked to folks who were here. You can listen to the podcast if you’d like by going to the church’s website and clicking on the podcast. Because we both spoke it is a bit longer than normal. What I wish is you could have been here to listen to the people singing their praise. WOW! I literally stopped to listen and felt emotions well up within me. I honestly believe the people were “heart-engaged” and not just lip-engaged. We had some great food afterwards, along with laughing and joking, and a good time being with people. And the weather? WOW! I’m not sure we could have asked for more ideal weather. 70s. Sunny. A slight breeze. Just an all around beautiful day.

To bring even more drama into our weekend, we all attended the New Beginnings Pregnancy Resource Center banquet on Saturday night. Sunday night Dave and I went to our local theater, the Tivoli, to watch Luther.  This is the 500th year anniversary of the Reformation and Martin Luther started it all with his 95 Theses nailed the Wittenburg Church door.  I took Dave back to the Indianapolis airport at 5:30 this morning.

So I had a full but very good weekend. Thanks to all who were praying. Thanks to Dave for taking the time to come and visit. Here are two jokers joking:

Yeah…we are a tad bit strange but you gotta have some fun! Thanks for joining me today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebration!

Friday, October 20th, 2017

Who doesn’t like a good celebration? Or for that matter, who doesn’t like a good reason to have one?

This Sunday, OVCF will celebrate our 13th anniversary. We have not gone overboard with it. That will be saved for #15 I suspect. Our plan is simple: have one service that morning. Follow that with a pitch-in dinner hopefully using the shelter (if the weather cooperates). Eat until we can’t eats no more!

Ryan and I will be presenting our Mission and Vision. We tag team well and it makes for a nice break. They don’t have to listen to me ramble on. Nor do they have to listen to Ryan do the same. I’ll talk about the Mission (To Connect People to Jesus) and the first two points of our Vision: 1) To be passionate pursuers of Jesus, and 2) To be models of truth and love.  Ryan will pick it up from there and talk about 3) To be involved in the community. He has a Power Point presentation of the teens helping at IDES in Indy just last week.

Then we will answer a few questions the people posed to us about your future building and our current construction. All in the purpose of update and accountability.

Looks to be a great day! I’d appreciate your prayers for us as we celebrate what God has been, is doing, and will do.

Politics

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

I’m not big on politics. Frankly they turn my stomach. I simply refuse to preach politics from the pulpit. I won’t endorse any candidate from the pulpit and seldom say much on a more personal level of discussion. But while the following article from Chuck Swindoll might be speaking of politics to start, it switches gears quickly and speaks about an even more insidious cancer which eats away at pastors, churches, and people in general. Here’s Chuck:

I see it every night on the news. The politics of backslapping and handshaking and making sure “so-and-so” isn’t turned off—it’s maddening! (We call it “smoke-blowing” here in Texas.)

At the end of the political rainbow the pot of gold is “favorable public opinion.” Period.

If we’re not careful, we can let politics work its way into our churches. And even worse, into our pulpits. In fact, the pastorate is a breeding ground for this sort of thing—maybe more than most professions.

I love the way the apostle Paul keeps our motives clean and focus sharp:

For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:4–5 NLT)

People-pleasing is a very tempting allurement, especially for people in ministry, because most of what we do gets done through people.

When needing volunteer positions filled—whether . . .

  • In the nursery
  • For a Sunday school class
  • Among the ushers
  • In our music ministry

It’s easy to massage our words and say more than we mean . . . or say something other than what we mean. (That’s called a lie.) The pastor must resist the temptation to flatter. We must refuse to play both sides against the middle.

Don’t go there. Why? Because once you start, it’s hard to stop.

When a pastor is a people-pleaser, he sits on the fence so as not to offend anyone. He remains neutral when he should NOT be playing it safe.

He tells people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear.

That’s not pastoring . . . that’s politics.

Look at the apostle’s words one more time. I find myself both challenged and refreshed by Paul’s transparency:

Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.

—Chuck

I spent way too many years as a people-pleaser, i.e. playing the political game. As I got older I realized that was a losing game. So today, while I try to be sensitive to people and their feelings, I also realize sometimes “politicians” can be the biggest hindrance to the church being the church.

Are you a people-pleaser? Is your pastor one? Are you part of the reason he is? Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

JesusContinued

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Francis Chan once wrote:

We all see problems in the church. We don’t need another book to point them out. We need the faith to believe that the solution is really quite simple: the Holy Spirit.

What he says is absolutely true. While no follower of Christ would deny His existence, I’m willing to bet there are millions of church-goers across our nation who have no clue who the Holy Spirit is, nor could they confidently say they have experienced His presence in their life.

We set ourselves up for this you know? The benchmark of success in churches has waffled-no make that bee-lined- from purpose and lives being changed to attendance and sometimes the offering. Far more than we would like to admit many churches adopted the “entertainment” mentality of the 80s-90s, i.e. entertain the people or they will get bored with church and go to the one that does it best. We became a church nation of church hoppers looking for the next, best fix.

Who got lost? The Holy Spirit. What go lost? Well, in the words of Bono (whose music I’m not really a fan of) but with whom I can agree on this: “Religion is what happens when the Spirit has left the building.” We can preach without Him. We can have discussions about the Holy Spirit and not have a clue of His powerful effect on a person’s life. And, of course, there are those who can make wild claims of the Holy Spirit’s work and be totally empty or lying or a heretic.

This Sunday, as part of the “Hills” series, I am preaching on the Holy Spirit, or as J.D.Greear calls Him: “Jesus, Continued.” His thought, which I will be focusing on, is “The Spirit inside you is better than the Jesus beside you.”  I’d appreciate your prayers for me and for the folks who listen.

Invasion

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Mention history and ask for examples of invasions and one is likely to hear about Normandy, an invasion so horrific the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan and other movies like Band of Brothers cannot do it justice (although they tried).  over 150,000 troops were committed to the initial invasion, employing 6900 vessels, 4100 landing craft, and 12,000 airplanes flying 14,000 sorties. The death tool was astronomical.

History is filled with invasions like that. In one sense, the great invasions of history are analogous to the way in which God chose to deal with the enemy’s rule over the earth. He invaded, but not with guns and ammo and an army trained and armed to the teeth. Instead, He chose a different kind of invasion. One of the HILLS of our faith is God became flesh and lived among us in the person of Jesus Christ (Christmas). Then He lived a sinless life only to find Himself being led to a cross where He would die for the sin of the world and then raise from the dead (Easter).

That is one of our Core Beliefs, a HILL we will die on defending. Your prayers are much appreciated

Lighthouse

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Meet Nina and the Lighthouse at Presque Isle. Presque Isle Light is one of three lighthouses on Lake Erie. It is located on the northern shore of Presque Isle State Park.  It stands 68′ tall, was constructed in 1872 and became automated in 1962. For more information about this lighthouse go hereThis site here also gives some really interesting insight into the lighthouse.

I spent five years pastoring a church in Sandusky, Ohio so I made frequent trips to the lighthouse at Marblehead, OH. If captains and sailors could speak today I’m sure they could tell fantastic stories of Marblehead, Presque Isle and others. Countless lives were saved and ships averted disaster because of the light from the lighthouse. It used to be manned by individuals. What a lonely job that must have been! But what an essential job it was also.

The importance of the lighthouse cannot be diminished in any way. Its light shined through all kinds of weather. I used to drive to Marblehead in the middle of January just to see the ice build up and to see how far out it went. You could see Kelly’s Island from the lighthouse and there were times it was shut down and only a plane could get people off the island. I don’t know how many lighthouses are still working and shining its light, especially with the more sophisticated equipment on ships these days.

Nina is Dave’s daughter. Dave wrote about the death of his friend, Lynn. Nina was riding on a tandem with him when the accident happened. The Presque Isle lighthouse was Lynn’s favorite. Part of Dave and Nina’s therapy was going to the lighthouse and having the above picture taken. Therapy comes in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Below is also some of Nina’s therapy and her tribute to Lynn. I wanted to use this during the week I was having my surgery and had guest writers but it was unavailable. Nina drew this from a postcard and drew it all freehand. I’d say quite a gift!

The spiritual application is easy. Jesus once said, “I am the Light of the World.” Elsewhere the Bible says, “People who live in darkness have seen a great light.” I’ll close this long post with this song. If you have trouble with the lyrics (which you shouldn’t) click on Show More below the video.