Friendship

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Serving

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Martin Luther once said,

A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to no one; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to everyone.

Service should be something every follower of Christ should be willing to do. A servant is what every follower of Christ should be willing to be.  Why? Well…that’s easy. Our role model once said, “I did not come to be served, but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many.” Hmmmm.

Joel Manby wrote one of the best books on leadership I have ever read. It is called Love Works. The book was loaded with solid advice on leadership, primarily leadership is being a servant to all. He had some quotes I found really good:

Being unselfish doesn’t mean thinking less of yourself-it means thinking of yourself less. (p.88)

A little bit later he wrote:

The difficult journey of life is to move from a selfish heart to a serving heart.(p.88)

This Sunday is our Day of Service where we serve our community. We have asked The Connection Church and the Owen County Chamber of Commerce to join us again in our effort to serve and help others. This Day of Service offers free oil changes and light maintenance for those who can’t afford it and any yard work which needs done. Last year at this time we had a deluge that Sunday. I’m praying for good weather this year. We have about 8-9 oil changes and close to 30 people to help with their yards.

My sermon was chosen for this specific day and this specific topic. Your prayers for both would be appreciated.

Reflections

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

This past weekend OVCF, the church I pastor, celebrated its 14th anniversary. OVCF was started when some people, who attended another church in town, were tired of “doing church” as they always have. It was birthed sometime in October of 2004.  Jo & I came in November of 2005.  I have been asked if I started/planted the church. I tell them No, but I sure feel like I did. They had not had a pastor for close to 9 months (he had only stayed about 3 before he felt he needed to move on); had no Mission or Vision to operate by; and did not have a lot of things in place. What they did have were some people eager to learn and serve.

I inherited both. We had a rough patch in 2009 caused by various reasons, but other than that, it has been a fun church to pastor.  In the first quarter of 2017 I watched several families choose to go elsewhere. One because of a move away from our area. They were dear friends of me and Jo and still are. I miss Ryan and his family.  One was because they were seeking the kind of “religious experience and high” we did not offer. They chose to put their stock in the NAR and some other questionable teachings.  Since then 2017-2018 has been up and down as we have tried to find our “wings.” Every church goes through those times. I’m a lot more patient and understanding of those times than I used to be. I figure God is in control and not me so there isn’t much I can do except continue to love and serve Him and the people He has given me to pastor.

With that being said, Sunday was a wonderful day of celebration and thanksgiving to God for what He has done! We had a great service (you can listen on podcast if you care to).  I’d be honored if you would take a moment to listen. We had tons-and I mean tons-of food! The Owen Country Chamber of Commerce came and did a ribbon cutting for our new youth addition. We had a meaningful dedication and then said a very weary “see you later” to the folks.  At the end of this post are 4 pictures of some of the changes made as a result of our addition. The first two are Before and After in our hallway. The Before is really not a true picture since I remembered to take the picture after the walls had been done. They had been covered in canvas. The next is a view of our new nursery with a door for access to a soon-to-be-finished playground for the little ones. The final one is the new security check-in for our youth addition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a good day.  I appreciate each one of you who prayed.

Bucket

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Once a month I read to Mrs. Lee’s Kindergarten class for what is called Real Men Read. There are a number of men in Owen County and Monroe County (and perhaps others) who go into a class to read to kindergarten students. This is my 3rd year now for taking part and I honestly believe that I receive more than the students do. Mrs. Lee does a wonderful job with the children and has them prepared for my visit. After the first year I requested the children wear name tags so I can call them by name. She willingly obliged.

But that is not why I am writing this post…although Mrs. Lee and her assistant deserve a lot of praise. It was the book I just read that I want to write about.

The name of the book was How Full is Your Bucket? It was a delightful book about a young boy named Felix whose grandfather told him that everyone has a bucket.  For every kind word said to them, a drop of water goes into their bucket. For any kind thing they say or do for someone else, water drops into their bucket but also into the one who gives the compliment. It works sort of like the old “change in the pocket” idea.

One day Felix was having a bad day and his bucket was about empty. His sister was not nice. He reached for and dropped a box of cereal. His mother yelled at him. A school bully was mean.  He was wiped out. Then came a class where the teacher praised him for his essay. A drop of water went into his bucket. The class loved his story-laughing and clapping when it was done. More water. Another student said something nice to him. Drop.  Soon Felix was complimenting people and putting water in their bucket, but also in his.  He came home with a full bucket. He even put water in his sister’s bucket by letting her build a tower out of his blocks.

The implications should be easy to see. Just one from me: encouragement goes a long way. Not only do we brighten someone else’s day, but we shine some light on our own. While we are putting drops of water in another’s bucket, we are also adding to our own.

I can attest to that. One of the most thrilling parts of my month is my visit to Mrs. Lee’s class to read. They are fun to interact with (I’m sure they can be pistols as well), and certainly fun to read to. It makes my heart feel good to walk into class and hear, “Hi Mr. Bill!”

How much do you add to someone’s bucket?

GetEven

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

Okay…so I posted a picture of my office on Monday morning after the young people were done.  You can see it here.  

So when Ryan got here on Monday morning he found his office covered in green balloons. Balloons under his desk and on his desk chair…which he did not see until he got into his office.  I may or may not have done that. I’m not telling. 🙂

Diana took Monday off because her son was married on Saturday (and no she was not in mourning). In actuality, not only was she tired from the affairs of the wedding, she and Jim celebrated their 29th anniversary on Sunday so I told her to take Monday off. When she got here Tuesday morning someone (but I won’t mention Ryan’s name) took the balloons and put them in her office. I should have gotten a picture but failed to. Diana should have been mature enough to stop it but no-o-o-o-o-o-o. What can you expect from a 40 something year old lady?

I got back from a bike ride on Tuesday (I treated myself for my birthday) and I came back to this:

Children! She actually took some time to do this because when I may or may not taken the balloons to Ryan’s office, they may have wanted to cling to whomever did the dastardly deed.  So I did what any mature individual would do the next morning…no I didn’t take them back to Ryan’s office…I took my knife and busted all 25 of them. Such maturity and restraint shown don’t you think? However, it was a pain to clean up all the balloon pieces which flew everywhere.

But there is something good here. Since you are here I’ll take you on a partial tour of my office. At the very top are two puzzles of Titanic I had framed, and display of Titanic books. To the left is my set of the ESV Reader’s Bible. Above that is a canvas sign given by Janna which says, “Life is an Adventure…Enjoy the Ride.”  To the right of it and hidden by something is a picture from several years ago of Braden, me and Optimus Prime we had taken at Pigeon Forge. Just above my desk chair is a card from Jo which she gave me on Valentine’s Day (one of my favorites from her) and to the right of that is a card I put into a frame of George Bailey and his family with “Bill Grandi…the Richest Man in Town” inscribed on it.  To the right are some tricks of my trade: books, Study Bibles, and some note cards. On top is a display of bicycles people have given me.

So much for the tour. I could show you the rest of my office but I don’t have those pictures. 🙂

And in case you read the previous post: Ryan did not inspire the young people to decorate my office with balloons. I got the confession out of Hope. She’s a lousy liar so I simply had to ask and all she said was, “I may or may not have.” Guilty!!

Today is Thursday as I write this. I am finally finding time to do this. Hope your week has been a good one and filled with mischief, good things, laughable moments, (fill in the blank).

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.

Advice

Friday, August 31st, 2018

Several thoughts go through my head concerning advice. It is warranted? Is it kind? Harsh? Does it come from someone who cares about me? Is it solicited or unsolicited?

It’s not always easy listening to someone else, whether they have our good in mind or not. None of us like to be someone’s verbal punching bag.  Admittedly, the hardest advice to take is that which is corrective. The passage of Scripture I’m speaking about this Sunday is one of those: Proverbs 6:1-15. I’ve titled it Pull Up a Chair because I want it to be like we are asking someone to come sit with us for a spell and chat.

There is so much practical advice in this passage of Scripture!  Here is how I’m approaching it:

Don’t get entangled.  (Verses 1-5)  Some very practical advice tangled up in things we need to avoid. In particular, co-signing on a loan. There is a lot to say about getting ourselves tangled up.

Don’t be lazy. (Verses 6-11)  No one wants to be compared to a slug let alone be called one! Laziness is something to avoid.

Don’t be divisive. (Verses 12-15).  There is no doubt we get our fair share of snakes in the grass. Divisive people are charming on the outside but snakes on the inside. We are being warned against them.

These are all common everyday issues. Solomon gives some very wise advice. I’m praying I share it with loving candor, sort of like pulling up a chair and having a heart-to-heart chat.  Your prayers would be appreciated.

Friendship

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

As I write this I am anticipating spending time with an old friend today. When I say “old” I mean it in various ways. Doug is about 6 months older than I am so that means he is 66.  He’s old; I’m not. 🙂  But even more than that: we have been friends since we met in college. I was a second semester freshman at my college when this hippy-looking dude came onto campus driving an AMC Javelin. Long hair. Big mustache. Yeah…neither were allowed at the school. He had attended Milligan College in TN for the first semester but transferred because many of his friends attended where I did (although I did not really know them except by name). I said, “Hi” and we chatted for a few minutes. We went our separate ways as he did the “check in as a new student” thing and I had other things to do. Doug joined the basketball team and integrated himself into my world. Our friendship could really be called an acquaintance at that point since we ran in different circles. He ran with a group who called themselves “H Bomb,” named after the dorm complex they lived in. I ran with Jo and a few others.

It was during our senior year in third year Greek (we both questioned our sanity) that we really got to know each other. His future wife was also in Miss Morgan’s Biology class (we sat next to each other). Graduation time was approaching and Doug asked me if I would be interested in a youth ministry. It was then he told me his dad’s church in Akron, OH was looking for an Associate/Youth Pastor. I attended a weekend youth retreat, interviewed, preached and was hired. Doug became the Youth Pastor at a church in the northern part of Akron and it was then we developed our friendship. We met each day to play one-on-one basketball (1/2 way for both of us), planned youth retreats and outings together, and attended multiple youth conferences together. We had an affinity for laughing and joking and eating pizza. Over time our ministries have taken us hours apart but we somehow made a way to get together. Whether it was to stay for a day or two or just meet for lunch (always pizza), we made a way.

That’s what friendships do. They make a way. He has retired now from being a full-time pastor. He sits around and watches Kentucky anything and eating bonbons.  Kidding.  He is retired now from full-time ministry (pastor) but still preaches at a little country church on weekends. But his greatest love, besides Vicki, is he is a full-time grandfather. Gotta envy that sometimes. 🙂

Anyway, today we meet for lunch. You guessed it: pizza. Topp’t in New Albany, IN. A very small homegrown chain his son manages. As MWS sang, “Friends are friends forever if the Lord is the lord of them.”