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Mondaysurprise

Monday, October 8th, 2018

I walked into my office this morning and saw this:

There were actually more under my desk and behind my chair. All told there were probably 20-24 balloons just laying around in my office. Somehow I think the Great Instigator aka former Youth Pastor or Youth Pastor’s wife allowed the teens to go into my office. Actually, I leave my door open during the day so he wouldn’t have had to let them in but I’m suspecting he or his wife may have been behind it.  I was excited though. It actually went with my office decor i.e. Hi-viz lime green bicycle sitting in my office.  (I leave from the office during my lunchtime ride so I just leave my bike here).

What’s the occasion? Well…other than being teenagers (whom I may or may not bug from time to time), tomorrow (Tuesday) is my 66th birthday.  I’d like to think they love me so much this is their way of showing it.  Ice cream would have been much better but then again, it would have left quite a mess. So, I guess the balloons will suffice. 🙂

Ryan & Hope do a superb job with the kids (all ages).  They love them unconditionally. They listen to them. They laugh with them. They go places with them. Ryan visits them at school during lunch time. They even get into trouble with them. AHEM! But he is also teaching them a servant’s heart. This week they are on Fall Break and two of the days will be spent serving.  Wednesday is an all-day event at IDES in Indianapolis.  They will be paying for and packing meals for disaster relief.  They have a little fun afterwards by going to some climbing wall and adventure place. Friday they will be serving in the community after working some around the church building.  Ryan and Hope have servant’s hearts and I’m glad to see they are trying to teach and instill that in our teens.

And what better song for this occasion can there be than this one? Trust me though when I say it was not one of my favorites as a teenager.

So…how is/was your Monday?

 

Tips#4

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

I apologize. I haven’t been as energetic posting this week as I had planned. I wanted to give a few days for the RoadID video of me and Jo to hopefully find some traction but then life hit and has a way of interrupting. I’m sure you know what I mean so I won’t belabor that point. I’d like to continue my series on “Whatever You Do, Don’t Do These Things.” You can read the previous 3 “Tips” posts here, here, and here.

#8- Don’t Play the Avoidance Game.  One of the most common reasons people don’t respond to a friend or person in need is fear. That’s right. Fear. Fear of saying the wrong thing. Fear of not knowing what to say. So they say nothing. Not only do they not say anything but they also avoid the whole situation.  They ignore the person’s pain completely. And in all honesty, that is sometimes more hurtful than truly trying to be a caring friend and saying the wrong thing or being tongue-tied. Not saying or doing anything or staying away can cut deeply.  Don’t stay away!

#9- Don’t Pledge General Help. “If there is anything I can do let me know.” “If you need me give me a call.” I don’t know how many times I have heard this said by some well-wisher at a funeral. I know they mean well but I have yet to find someone calling someone and saying, “You know. It’s been a hectic two weeks with mom being sick and then having her funeral last week. I really could stand to have my house cleaned. You said I could call you for anything. I’d like to ask for your help.” So be careful of pledging general help. Now…offering specific things like maybe babysitting or taking food or “running interference” is more like it.

#10- Don’t Condemn Them. The last time I looked we were not God. To pronounce God’s judgment on someone or to maybe toss out a false and helpful tidbit is uncalled for. I’m thinking of Job’s so-called friends right now: “What secret sin are you hiding?” “What are you doing that God is trying to get you to stop?” “Maybe He is trying to get you to stop smoking or (fill in the blank).” Do you remember the time in Jesus’ ministry when the disciples asked, “Who sinned? Him or his parents”? The truth is we have no idea what God is doing so why pretend to? Worse yet, why accuse? We do live in a broken world so death and suffering is part and parcel of it. But don’t condemn.

I hope these posts have been helpful to you. I was mindful of them as I visited in the hospital yesterday, especially since I was shy of details. May they help you be a better “minister” to hurting people.

Tips#3

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

I’ve been addressing a very touchy subject which really affects those who are struggling with pain and suffering. What sometimes happens is well-meaning people saying stupid ignorant things for various reasons. I’ve been using a book by Dave Furman called Being There as a reference.  You can check out the two previous posts on this subject here and here.  My summary of the first two posts of “Whatever You Do, Don’t Do These Things” is below. For a fuller discussion please check out the links to the previous posts.

#1- Don’t Be the Fix-it Person

#2- Don’t Play the Comparison Game

#3- Don’t Make It Their Identity

#4- Don’t Promise Deliverance Now

#5- Don’t Encourage Them to Just “Move On”

#6- Don’t Bring on the Inquisition.  The last thing a person suffering needs is the 3rd degree. When I was in the ER hallway for 8 hours following my bike wreck, I had some come by to see if I was okay. I was so grateful they didn’t give me or Jo the 3rd degree. Was it a car? Where was it at? Did he go into a ditch? All sorts of scenarios went through peoples’ minds I’m sure, but they were gracious enough and didn’t ask. Since I was somewhat out of it from time to time they were also wise enough not to text my phone.  If you find yourself in a visiting situation, this is not the time to “play Job’s friends” and ask questions like “Was it his/her fault?” If you are at a funeral home, don’t go asking if the person was close to the deceased person. When at a loss for words the best thing to say may be, “I just want you to know I love you and am praying for you.” The Bible says to “Weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.”  So…do you really think I wanted to hear questions?

#7- Don’t Be Hyperspiritual.  I’ve heard this. You have too. Sadly, and to my horror, I’m sure I have even said it.  Can you imagine how insensitive it is to go up to someone who has just lost a baby or a father or a (fill in the blank) and say, “Praise the Lord! They are in heaven!” Or “Praise the Lord no more pain!” It is one thing to agree with the grieving person who might say that, but to offer it? WOW! That is the height of insensitivity. How about the cliches we use: “Look on the bright side.” What bright side? “I’ve just lost someone close to me for crying out loud!” Sorry…better get off my soapbox.  Again, the best thing to do is just be there.

Whew! I am long-winded. I’ll continue this another post. Please feel free to comment and if you think this is helpful please pass it along.

Tips#2

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

As promised (I know you were waiting with baited breath), I want to continue my posts on basically what to say and what not to say to a person who is hurting or grieving. These are adapted from the book by Dave Furman called Being There. The first three were in this post and while I’m going to list them here, you can check out a further explanation by checking out the post.

#1. Don’t Be the Fix-It Person.

#2. Don’t Play the Comparison Game.

#3. Don’t Make it Their Identity.

#4. Don’t Promise Deliverance Now. This is really huge right now in the religious world. False teachers/cult leaders/prosperity teachers and other heretical personalities are promising deliverance. You know how it works. They come to you saying, “I just know you are going to be healed. God has told me He will do that.” They might even tell you to think positive. Think good thoughts, happy thoughts. Get rid of all negativity. Kum-ba-yah and all that other rot.  IMHO you are not there to be their personal faith guru or their guarantor of God’s healing power. I get so sick of heretics making false claims of healing, getting peoples’ hopes up only to watch them and their faith come crashing down because “God didn’t come through.” I do like what the author says is key to this thought: “Instead of promising deliverance in this life, point them to God’s presence and a future hope that will never let them down.” (p.119)

#5. Don’t Encourage Them to Just “Move On.” You find this in the more “I’m going to take you to the good side by constantly telling you to leave all your troubles behind” kind of person.  That approach seems so calloused if you ask me.  This person is literally telling the hurting person his/her life has been on hold for way too long and it is time get over it.  Now…granted there is a fine line between wallowing in your pity and grieving appropriately. Grieving is so essential, but so is adequate grieving. When we, by our words or actions, tell people it is high time they got over their grieving, we are essentially saying, “I’m tired of dealing with this issue with you.”  One of the things I keep telling myself is people grieve differently and at different speeds. Do I think some people “milk” it? Sure. But, at the same time, who am I to think someone “ought to be over it by now”?

Well, I’m sorry this has gotten so long. I didn’t think I had this much in me. 🙂 Anyway, I’ll post some more tips in another day or two. I invite you back for another visit. And feel free to share this if you think it will help someone.

 

Tips

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Not restaurant tips but helpful tips. Further explanation: I just finished a book by David Furman entitled Being There. David lives with a chronic nerve disease so he was passing along what it was like and also how we as friends and followers of Christ can just “be there” for people. One chapter was titled Whatever You Do, Don’t Do These Things.  He gave a list of 10 infamous things to remember when trying to help/minister to those who are hurting.

He introduces the tips with a story. I’ll abbreviate it. Two pilots were landing in a small city and accidentally touched down at a much smaller private airport seven miles away from their intended destination. They barely survived a crash landing. During their approach they were in touch with the control tower and were told they were 15 miles away from their target.  They responded they had their target in sight and were going to land.

Upon landing they had to stomp on their brakes extra hard to avoid going over a ledge, and nearly crashed the plane. They admitted to being shocked at their mistake and told investigators that they saw the lights of the airport in front of them and so they landed there. They honestly thought it was the right airport!

How crazy is that story? But it lends itself to what David is about to tell us.  It doesn’t matter how sincere you are if you are landing in the wrong place. We can be really sincere in trying to help people but saying and doing the wrong thing can be (or should I say “is?”) bad. It can be devastating to the hurting person. Okay…so what are his 10 “laws?” I’m going to split the 10 into 2 posts so as not to overwhelm or go too long.

#1. Don’t be the Fix-it Person.  Don’t be the person who offers unsolicited advice or unsolicited medical “miracles” to the person who is hurting. Don’t you think they have tried about everything already? I’m sure if they are seeking to be free from the chronic pain they have gone to a ton of doctors and have probably tried every homegrown recipe there is. Instead of advice, ask questions to understand them and their situation better.

#2. Don’t Play the Comparison Game.  When you talk to people don’t try to compare their sickness, pain, illness to yours or someone else. Your occasional gout flare-up is nothing like the pain from chemo. Your granny’s (from your third cousin removed) illness is not the same. Don’t compare the person with yours or anyone else.  Above all…don’t start with “At least”…they are better off or something cockeyed like that.

#3.  Don’t Make it Their Identity.  In other words, every time you see or talk to that person don’t ask them about their illness or their bank account or whatever it is that has them in pain. Don’t make that their identity. In fact, sometimes it is best just not to bring it up. Maybe a slight mention when it arises but stay away from identifying them with the illness or pain.

Okay…I’m going to stop there. This is getting way too long. I’ll continue with the next post. Hope these help.

Presence

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

I’m going to be honest…I have no idea where I am going to go with this post. I think you will see why. I do have a point but getting there might be like “going ’round Robin Hood’s barn” as we used to say (back in them old days). 🙂

I’ve been reading Skye Jethani’s book Immeasurable about the soul of Church, Inc. I’ve written two other posts which have flowed out of it. You can read them here and here. But something I read just today really stuck with me and I don’t know what the solution is. Let me explain.

When I was a young pastor I was told visit, visit, visit. I often found myself out every afternoon and many evenings visiting with people from the church. So much so I often neglected my office time and even my family (at night especially).  It wasn’t unusual to be driving by someone’s house and saying, “Oh, I haven’t seen them in a while. I’ll swing in for a few moments.” So I would…whether the spouse was there or not. But as Bob Dylan sang so eloquently: “the times they are a changin’.”  It was no longer kosher (translated: acceptable or safe) to just drop by to see someone, especially if they were a member of the opposite sex. So I found myself tied more and more to my office. Studying. Napping. Reading. Napping. “Counseling” (Can an untrained pastor really do this? But that’s another topic for another time). But even the latter had to be done a certain way. Ryan and I have set a policy that we will not be in the church building; at a meal; in a car; or any setting with a female who is not our wife without someone else in the building or with us.

Then I read this in Skye’s book: “The antidote to popularity-based authority is the quiet power of pastoral presence.” (p.138)  His point in the chapter is many people will listen to someone who is popular (i.e. TV/radio hucksters and some legitimate speakers) before they will listen to their own pastor. It is called platform. And their platform is bigger than most local pastors. Definitely mine. But that raises a huge question: how do I/any pastor do the pastoral presence thing and still be cognizant of the moral perception of others?

What do you think?

Flashback2

Monday, August 13th, 2018

In a previous post I wrote about having a flashback. I’m not going to recap it. You can go here and read it for yourself. To continue my thoughts:

Skye’s definition/description of “Church, Inc.” is this:

It is shorthand for ministry devoid of mystery, for pastors who assume that the exercise of their calling is a matter of skill more than the gravity of their soul. It represents the exchange of the transcendent calling of Christian ministry with mere management of religious institutions and services. If ministry is encountering the heat and light of an uncontrollable sun, Church, Inc is the tanning salon in the local strip mall.

Skye goes on to ask a very complex question: the attraction to religious consumers is easy enough to grasp, but what is the appeal for pastors? The answer is not an easy one and I suspect he will spend the book dissecting it.  I’m only in chapter 6 and I think I’ve gone through a pen while highlighting!! To top it off he includes this quote by Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the United States Senate:

In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and woman centered on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome, where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe, where it became a culture. And, finally, it moved to America, where it became an enterprise.

BINGO!

Jesus didn’t set up an enterprise. He established his church. He didn’t tell the disciples to “Go, learn the business principles of the world, then take the message to others, and I will be with you to the end of the age.” I think it high time pastors get back to being pastors (shepherds), and churches get back to being churches not small businesses.

There is so much more to say but…

So…

OFF SOAPBOX (for now).

More to come.

Flashback

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

Flashbacks are bad…usually. I guess it depends on what you flash back to.

Several years ago I was the pastor of a church when there was a major shift in a pastor’s responsibility. I was always used to seeing myself as a shepherd, as one responsible for the care and feeding of the sheep. Then along came a shift. The shift involved the pastor taking on more of a CEO position and the church being run like more of a business model. I attended John Maxwell’s seminars. Bought his and others’ books. Tried to implement the whole paradigm shift to the church.

I. FAILED…BIG. TIME.

Yep. I failed. Miserably. I knew when that happened that my time was limited in that current pastorate. I couldn’t make the shift to the CEO/business model.

MY. TIME. WAS. INDEED. LIMITED.

I moved on to another church…one that didn’t have or want that model. Good thing. I would have failed there too. My tenure there was not as long as the previous one, and definitely not as long as this one. But that was for other reasons completely.  In the meantime, I read several books which helped me tremendously. Two books by E. Glenn Wagner: The Church You’ve Always Wanted and Escape from Church, Inc cemented my decision.  Another was Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome by Kent & Barb Hughes. Two books on preaching which helped were Famine in the Land by Steve Lawson and The Passion-Driven Sermon by Jim Shaddix. They helped convince me of my purpose: preach the Word and quit worrying about modeling the business world.

FLASHBACK TIME

Why? I started reading a new book today: Immeasurable by Skye Jethani. It is subtitled Reflections on the Soul of Ministry in the Age of Church, Inc. Sounds like it would be right up my alley. Two quotes hit me hard  The prelude to the Introduction:

There are no measures which can set forth the immeasurable greatness of Jehovah…If we cannot measure we can marvel. Charles Spurgeon

The wrong approach put a premium on numbers and results.  You measure success by numbers. They were the qualifiers. When I was entertaining the whole idea of Church, Inc I was losing my focus on people as people and seeing them as numbers to be counted. Chairs to be filled (we didn’t have pews).  🙂

This post is getting long-much longer than I like to go- so I will continue it with another.

AdditionUpdate

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Okay…so we have been working on a building addition for over a year now.  Let me rephrase that: we have been physically working on the building addition for over a year. We have been working (translated: saving) on this addition for probably close to 3 or 4 years. We made a commitment we would not borrow money for it. We saved until we had enough to put it all under roof. We then continued as we had the money. Funny: work never stopped. God was so-o-o-o-o faithful and so were His people.  Three Sunday’s ago the Preschool class meet in their room because of the need to renovate the check in room and what will become Ryan’s office. This past week the Elementary kids made the transition. I thought I’d have a little fun with this post and show you what was and what is now.  My computer crashed several months ago and I lost everything, including pictures. So I painstakingly went back in time (where is Doc Brown’s DeLorean when I need it?) to find the post where I showed some early inside photos. You can see that here:

http://billgrandi.ovcf.org/wordpress/?p=14180

Below are some photos I took today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From top left to right: (1) What the room looks like as you walk down the short entry hall past the bathrooms.  (2) Inside Jo’s classroom from the door. it is the door on the right in the first picture.  (3) Middle left: Another look inside Jo’s classroom.  She chose to have vinyl flooring laid for ease of movement and cleaning. Each classroom has a TV (Wifi accessible) and a white board. (4)  The stage area (which is not quite done yet. (5) Looking across the from Jo’s classroom. Classroom on right. Mechanical/storage on left. (6) Girl’s bathroom.

Pictures don’t tell the whole story but if you take a look at what was and what now is, we have come a long way. God has been so faithful and so good! I honestly believe He honored our “no borrowing money” policy. We were the recipients of some anonymous gifts which greatly blessed us. A lady left some money so we took 10% for missions; paid off the remaining mortgage; and put the rest toward the addition. It allowed us to start construction. The folks at OVCF were so faithful in their giving and even in offering some physical labor but, to be honest, we went with professionals to do most of the work. In the long run, it saved time and money.

I’m going to share some more pictures of renovation we are doing in my next post.  Hope you enjoy rejoicing with us.

Words

Friday, July 13th, 2018

As in Last Words…

Last words are important. The last words I remember my father saying were that “I was a friend of the family.” His dementia had robbed him of knowing who I was because the last time I saw him he did not know who I was at all.

I remember the last words of Dan. After resisting the call to give his life to Christ, he eventually found himself in a tent of oxygen and dying. He finally allowed me to share Christ with him and even though he was unable to talk (or barely open his eyes), he squeezed my hand to let me know he had prayed to accept Christ. Then there was Jim.  He had constantly turned down any invitation to follow Jesus (but did go to church with his wife upon occasion).  He took a “shine” to me, even though they attended another church. While in the hospital he was unable to talk anymore and every time I would go to see him tons of family were around. So I finally wrote it all down, had his wife read it to him, and then he had her sign his name because he was unable to. A day or two later he entered eternity.

Last words can be done is so many ways. Vocally. Squeezing a hand. Signing a name. Blinking eyes. All are last words. I finish my series from Joshua this Sunday with Joshua’s last words to the people of Israel. To sum up his words I would put it this way:

REMEMBER THE PAST. DON’T STAY THERE. FOCUS ON THE FUTURE.