Friendship

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#Shepherd#Platform#Integrity

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

In Psalm 78:72 it says of David “With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with skillful hands.”  Some translations use the word “integrity” for upright.  This verse is talking about David’s approach toward the people of Israel. David served the people as their shepherd with integrity. That verse has always been at the forefront of my brain ever since I read it years ago.  It serves as a challenge to me to shepherd the people i serve with integrity.

Maybe that is why I have not cared whether I became “known” or not.  Oh…wait a minute. That’s not true. There was a time I cared a lot…an awful lot. I would hear of friends of mine who were preaching at large churches or conducting meetings in other churches and the “J” word would kick in. (That would be “J”ealousy for those who are unsure).  But then I began to think about time and schedule. I began to be involved in watching my daughters play ball. I wondered about sermon prep. When did they have the time to do that while jetsetting all over the globe? (Then I found out many of them have assistants who do all the research and sometimes even write the sermons).  I thought about the one thing I really like to do as an aside (cycle) and wondered when could I do that? Certainly not on a plane or in a hotel (stationary bikes are another word for B-O-O-O-R-I-N-G!).  Perhaps the biggest revelation in all this was “finding” the verse from Psalm 78. When would I have the time to be a shepherd?  Now, if I wanted to be a CEO-type  then, by all means, have at it! But I wasn’t called to be a CEO. I was called to be a pastor, a shepherd. The day I realized that was the day I quit worrying about what others thought; how big I could get; how “known” I could be; and became satisfied with being a shepherd of the church God gave me to serve.  Amazing how the perspective changes.  My worst enemy (ME) was put to death that day.

I’d rather be found faithful shepherding my sheep in an obscure, out-of-the-way little town than be serving an image of myself being applauded.  I’d rather be here than anywhere else.

#TryAgain#EarlyBird#NeedyourHelp

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

Back on January 30th I wrote the following post:

http://billgrandi.ovcf.org/wordpress/?p=15108

I’m here to ask you for your help again. I’m not much of a fundraiser to be honest.  I would have a hard time making it as a missionary who had to raise his own support and had to go around seeking donations or support. So this is definitely out of my comfort zone.

I’m not going to give you a great big “snow job” about this. I’m not going to beg.  Okay…I would do that if necessary.  🙂  (Picture a dog on hind legs begging. That would be me.)  But only because I believe so strongly in helping those with MS (Multiple Sclerosis). I know of two folks here in Spencer-Marge and Kirby. Marge has had MS since 2000 and they told her she would be in a wheelchair and a home in 6 months. She has had her struggles but she is still walking. Kirby was diagnosed in 2006 and I just found out about it a little over a year ago (so don’t forget that you never know who might be impacted by the work that you do).  Marge has been part of our worship team for several years and Kirby and Ronda have been attending OVCF (Owen Valley Christian Fellowship…the church I pastor) since Easter. Their son, Hunter, is now playing guitar in our worship band.  I know there are more that I am not aware of. In Indiana alone, the MS Society reaches 9000 individuals but based on the most recent prevalence study, there could be another 10,000 people that the Society hasn’t even reached yet!

Like most diseases, MS strikes each person differently. The meds they take affect each one differently as well. The Bike MS or Cruisin’ the Crossroads (as it is called) ride I am taking part in will help raise money to reach a common goal: to end MS forever.  Your contributions will go directly to MS research, outreach, and assistance for those living with MS. For more information on how the society helps people living with MS, you can follow this link to the Navigator program website.   It is a “flat pledge.” In other words, there is no “I’ll pledge 50 cents a mile.” Whatever you pledge is your pledge and you do it directly to the National MS Soceity. I would be honored if you would do it under my name as I try to raise at least $800 for the ride.  Go to that page and hit donate. It is pretty self-explanatory. To date I am at $745. I would consider it a big deal to hit the $1000 mark.

Here is part of what your donation will help happen.

All that to say…if you are able to donate in my name I would be honored. Thanks for reading and donating.

{Note: this post was edited with the help from the MS Society to better explain their mission}.

#ReadThis

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

We are so different…she and I.

I’m white. She is not.

I’m a man. She is not.

I’m tall. She is not.

I have no hair. She has tons of it. 🙂

I like rock music. I’m guessing she does not.

I’m a lifetime heterosexual. She was a lesbian.

I write for fun. She writes for her livelihood.

But one thing we have in common. We both believe in the power of redemption that comes from the Cross of Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on that cross.

Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been

I have to admit my first thought about reading this book since its release several months ago was I don’t want to read or hear of another “I-was-born-this-way-so-don’t-ask-me-to-change” book.  But after reading review after review I decided to take the plunge and buy it. Then I had to read it after a few weeks on my shelf. (In fairness, I was reading another book at the time).

I. AM. SO. GLAD. I. READ. THIS. BOOK!! I would highly recommend it to everyone. JHP’s way of saying things shows her “wordsmith” talents. I don’t need to be a fan of her style of poetry or music to like the way she says things in this book. Straight-forward.  Non-compromising in her stance. Honest in her discussion of her past (molestation, abuse, drug use and lesbianism). I was impressed when on page 37 she said, “It is important to note that sexual abuse is not what made me gay. Nor did fatherlessness. They only exaggerated and helped direct the path for what was already there-which is sin.”  No blame. No “I was born gay.” Just a note at the bottom of the page stating sin was the culprit. Thank you JHP for that truth.

I tire of those who hate gays. No…make that I distance myself from them. I don’t hate gays; I just don’t believe their lifestyle choice is biblical. I firmly believe same sex action is sin. But hating the person is not Christ-like nor is it ever going to reach someone with the message of the love of Christ.  Just the exact opposite.  Our little community has a very vocal homosexual community. It boasts of having one of the best attended PRIDE festivals in the state, maybe the country. Tolerance they ask for only goes so far until you disagree with them. Recent vandalism against their property was uncalled for. But they are still people. Still people like thousands of others in our community and around the world who need Jesus.  Thanks to JHP’s book, I not only have a better attitude toward them, but I also have a book I can put in their inquiring minds and hands that will show them Jesus’ love.

My plan is to include some of her quotes in another post since this one has already gone on so long. I’d like to think you will look forward to that post. 🙂

I’d highly suggest you buy and read this book. Then pray for opportunities to pass it along or to put it into practice.

Surprise!!

Monday, April 8th, 2019

This past Sunday the church I have pastored since November of 2005 surprised me and Jo. The picture which follows will tell the story.

Yeah…you’re seeing that right. It has been a bucket list of mine for a long time. Jo’s bucket list got lighter almost two years ago when someone gifted us with a week’s stay at a Timeshare in Daytona Beach. She has always wanted to go to the beach. They felt after my two bike accidents and major back surgery as a result that time away was a good thing. We agreed. 🙂 🙂

The back story to this trip is several months ago I asked Jo what she thought about a a cruise to Alaska. We contacted an old friend who had renewed her travel agent license (and whom I also think was in on this “deception”)  but after getting prices to the cruise and flights to Seattle we decided to back off and save for another year. We were okay with that. We would just take little junkets to Ohio and other places to get away which didn’t require a lot of money.  Combine that with the need for a new roof this summer and a new driveway and some needed house repairs and you have a recipe for waiting.

Fast forward to yesterday. It has been a really emotional week and weekend (see my other blog for April 8), even several months, so this could not have come at a better time. We were both stunned when Ryan put two chairs down where I stand to preach and asked us to come to the front. He started by asking me how long I have been doing this (being a pastor) and I said 45+ years. He then asked Kris, a lady whose family is going to Alaska this summer and close friends to the agent in Florida, to come forward. Kris presented us with the bucket and an all-expenses paid trip to Alaska, including air fare.  Can someone say, “Knock me over with a feather?” Jo & I were both so stunned we didn’t even cry.  In all my years as a pastor I have NEVER been treated by a church to something this magnanimous.  It looks like we are going to shoot for the first of September when they have an opening rather than wait until next year.

I thought I would share my/our surprise with you. We are blessed. And this is just a small part of the heart of these people. I have never felt so loved as I have here.  This is just a minor reason why. And I can honestly say that even without something this generous, I love these people.

Appreciation

Sunday, March 24th, 2019

Tonight is one of my favorite nights of the year.

IT IS VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION NIGHT!

Once a year Ryan, Diana and I give a night to honor our volunteers.  In the past we have done skits; shown videos of Tim Hawkins and other Christian comedians; provided a full-course mean (catered not cooked by either of us); given away prizes and just had a general all-around good night. I like to spend the night personally thanking each volunteer for making things go this past year.

Last year we switched things up a bit by renting our local Tivoli theater and showed The Incredibles. We gave each volunteer a ticket for free popcorn and a drink, gave away prizes, and had a great time. We decided to do the same thing this year. Good thing because all three of us have been swamped with life and this takes a bit less effort than doing skits, finding and paying for a catered meal, setting up tables and chairs and clean-up. This year we will be giving each volunteer a ticket for a free popcorn and drink and also have some door prizes to give away. What are we showing this year? The movie I consider one of, if not THE best animated movie ever made. CARS. A movie with a message about cooperation, pride, teamwork and getting along. All essentials for any team-volunteer or paid- to be successful.

If you are from OVCF and have volunteered and happen to be reading this, strap on your seat belt, grab some popcorn and a drink, and enjoy the ride with us! By the way, we never turn anyone away who wants to join us. I’d like to invite you to come join us if you are reading this from somewhere else on the planet but you may find that hard to do. Come virtually. About 6:00 pop in CARS in your DVD player, make some popcorn and grab a pop or water and join us. Sorry we can’t share our door prizes with you. The M&Ms might get melted or old (or eaten) by the time they reach you. 🙂

Explanation

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

I’ve been absent for a few days from this blog. Sunday afternoon, after our morning worship, Jo, Tami and I took off for a few days in Ohio. Tami is on Spring Break, as is our nephew, so it seemed like an excellent time to get away and enjoy our family. We had a crazy time with a 12 year old who keeps us in stitches. We also realize those days when he likes to be with his grandpa and Mamaw and Aunt Tami are winding down so we have to take advantage of them.

I got back into Spencer in the early afternoon and after unloading a boatload of stuff, I came to the office where I am trying to catch up on several things. Why am I trying to cram so much into one afternoon? Because tomorrow 2 other men and I are heading to Terre Haute for a Church Safety and Security Seminar which will run from 9-4:30. Unless I miss the boat I suspect I am going to be one tired puppy.

While I was gone I made my way to Panera Bread on Tuesday morning while everyone else was sleeping in order to have some Quiet and Reading time. While there I wrote this:

I’m calling this Spoken Words vs Unspoken Words.

It seems, at least to me, that we are a nation of spoken words. What I mean by that is that it is hard for us (for me) to keep my mouth shut. It’s almost like I/we are afraid of dead air. Tragically, when words are spoken it is more often than not words better left unsaid. A couple of Proverbs I’ve read recently are reminding me of the wisdom and prudence of keeping quiet, or at least of measuring my words before I speak.

To read the rest please click here or check out my other blog, LivingintheShadow.  Living in the Shadow is a daily devotion I write from what I am reading or from Scripture. Hopefully always challenging and equally uplifting. I’d love to have you join the email list if you’d like to.

Heroes

Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

I’ve been absent from this blog all week. Along with daily ministry life, I conducted a funeral yesterday (Tuesday) of a lovely lady. It has got me thinking of heroes. Not the fake Marvel kind. The real kind.

The funeral was for a beautiful lady named Carolyn. She has fought Parkinson’s for 10 years. She was a vibrant lady up until the end, even after her diagnosis. She refused to allow this ugly disease to stop her from enjoying life. As was stated by several members of her family (son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren) she refused to give up and give in to the disease. The last couple of years it began catching up to her, but the anesthesia for a knee replacement is what really took her down. Carolyn is a hero because she refused to quit. Her family are heroes because they loved her well. All of them. Three boys who adored her. Their wives. The grandchildren and sadly, great-grandchildren (3) who will never really get to enjoy her arms.

I spoke at length with one of my family members yesterday afternoon.  His wife has had had Alzheimers since 2010. She can no longer talk or walk but he continues to take her to the mall to walk (she rides while he pushes) and to care for her at home. They will be married 59 years this June. Not only is that love, my uncle is my hero. He loves her well.

I spoke with a brother of mine last week. Just shy of their 18th anniversary she suffered a stroke that has left her unable to play music, among other things.  He has had to move them from San Diego to Washington state due to finances. He also is care-giver for her Down syndrome son, who is probably 30 something I’m guessing. My brother is my hero. He is loving her and him well, even two years into this ordeal.

Kirby and Marge have been living with MS (Kirby for over 10 years; Marge even longer). They refuse to give up. Even flare ups are seen as “blips” in their full life. They are examples of “the rain falls on the just and the unjust,” but also of those followers of Christ who refuse to quit. They are the inspiration for me riding in the MS150 in August.  Heroes both.

Real heroes don’t wear capes; have indestructible shields; fly at the speed of light; smash when green; wear a suit of armor that talks to you; shrink or grow in size; or any of the other characteristics we associate with a superhero. My heroes are real people.  Real people who put their pants on the same way I do, but show extraordinary love and grace. Real heroes are people who love well. They live well by giving their lives away.

How about you? Know any heroes you need to tell?

DrawingPeople

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

My last post was sort of snarky in that it was tongue-in-cheek. It was either not read much or people just chose not to comment. (Can I hope for the latter?)

Anyway, I thought I would use a quote I read from Scott Sauls’ book from Weakness to Strength. I highly recommend it especially for anyone in leadership. In a chapter he called Opposition: The Unlikely Pathway to Neighbor Love, Scott used this quote:

We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it. Madeline L’Engle

There are some people who see it as their mission in life to tear down other people. I know there is a need for discernment when it comes to cults, false teachers, etc. But I’m not sure there is value in name-calling and “demonizing” someone due to their choice of lifestyle. Please don’t misunderstand me here: I believe the so-called “alternate lifestyle” is sinful, but they are still people. I used to be one of those preachers who said “I tell it like it is and if you don’t like it argue with the Bible not me.” I now realize that was and is the wrong approach.

Scott summed up Madeline’s words with these:  “No amount of cultural opposition stopped Jesus from working to change the world through love.” I can’t argue with him.

All that to say this: perhaps instead of being hateful and judgmental toward those who oppose us, maybe we can take the position of lovingly disagreeing while maintaining our Biblical stance. It doesn’t mean I am compromising; it means I am trying to reach people with the message of the love of Jesus with honey instead of vinegar.

What are your thoughts?

 

Anniversary

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

Oh, for the ease of emojis. It is not as easy putting pictures on a blog as it is to use an emoji while texting. If so I would find one that pictures a celebration.

Today is the anniversary of me starting Cycleguy’s Spin. February 20, 2008. This is post #2,837.

It is hard for me to believe I have been at this for so long. A lot has changed. A lot has happened. I have seen people come and go. Some who used to blog don’t any more. For what reason, I don’t know. Blogging used to be “the thing” but FB, Twitter, Instagram and all the other newer, shinier models have stepped in. I’ve stuck with blogging because I am not into social media. It used to be a joke in our house that Jo got to do FB because I had my blog. She originally connected to it to keep up with the girls, but she is hooked. Me? I am glad I never got involved. They say it would be better for blog traffic but I’m okay with that. They also say I would be able to keep better track of “my people.” That’s alright. They don’t need a hound dog. Besides, I have spies all over the place! 🙂

A lot has happened. The church moved its location from the sports complex to our own building (we bought an already existing one). That was in 2010. In January of 2011 I found out we were being embezzled. But God was more than sufficient.  In 2009 I was riding with a friend and a dog came out of the yard and took me down. I was hit by a hit and run driver in 2016 and in 2017 I had a horrific crash (which Tami was kind enough to remind me that this past Sunday was the date of my two year anniversary). I became a board member of the Owen County Chamber of Commerce about 6 years ago. The church has seen its ups and downs but God has been good. We paid cash for a renovation in 2012 and for a much-needed youth addition in 2017-2018.  Our sights are set on an adult worship center now.  We had our first Day of Service in 2009 and now partner with The Connection church for a semi-annual Day of Service (Spring and Fall).  Our 2009 launch of a now annual Thanksgiving Dinner was one of the best things we have done and it has morphed into a Christmas breakfast as well.

I started another blog, more of a devotional one, in 2018.  It was called Be Transformed and was focused around New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. I changed its name to Living in the Shadow at the beginning of this year and also changed my focus. I invite you to check it out here.

But through all of this and more, God has been the mainstay.  He has given me a love for the people of OVCF and for the community I never thought possible. I love living and serving here and honestly see myself nowhere else.

This is getting way too long so let me wrap it up. I thank you for being one of my readers. I appreciate it more than I can express. I know some of you are praying for me. That means even more. I’ll keep writing as long as I feel I have something to say. From the very beginning my guiding theme has been Live the Adventure.  I have received a few momentos along the way:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My firm belief and guiding principle:

And finally: I was listening to Switchfoot while working out yesterday and heard this song for the first time. It has been on repeat since then. It sums up my theme for my life.

Thanks for being a part of my life.  Live life well. It is an adventure.

EarlyBird

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

Here in Indiana this morning when I came to work it was 4 degrees (so said my mirror. It blows up at 0) but the wind chill is supposed to be near -35 or something ridiculous like that.  Other reports say -40. I mean, what is another -5 degrees when it is already so cold it freezes your breath before it even leaves your tightly closed lips? So it might seem a bit strange that I would write about this subject.

Think August. Around these parts they call them the “dog days of August.” That’s because after a hot, sweltering summer, August usually says, “Ha. You think it has been hot and sweltery? Take a look at this!” When it is this cold I dream of days of 90+ when I can ride or go outside or have the AC in my truck and house. Not now. I couldn’t get my AC this cold if I tried. If I could maybe it would serve as a “warm up” or “conditioning” to winter weather! Nah.

Anyway, they say “the early bird catches the worm.” I’m not interested in birds or worms, however, I am interested in presenting something to you. Last September I was supposed to participate in the MS150 ride in Lebanon, IN.  But it was the weekend we were trying to recreate Noah and the Ark. Actually, I think God was reminding us what it was like. We had, in one weekend, from 7-12″ of rain. So the ride was cancelled. I was bummed. I had trained for it and my friend, Dave from Arizona, was here to ride it also. I’m guessing they decided to change the date hoping August would be drier than September.

On August 17 I will be planning to ride the MS150.  It is a fun ride but it is also a fun(d)-raising ride for MS research. My goal this year is $800. Last year it was $500 and I surpassed that. I upped the ante this year and hope to surpass it again. From frigid January to a “balmy” August, I have just over 6 months to raise that amount. I would be honored if you would donate toward the MS150 ride in my name. If you go here to my page and follow directions, it will allow you to do so. I am sponsoring a team called 3 Feet Please, something I happen to be rather passionate about. 🙂  Bet you can’t tell!! (See header)

I’m not going to hound you here. I will remind you from time to time about it. I do hope you will consider helping the cause. I get nothing for this. No kickback. No financial reward. Just the satisfaction of doing something I love for friends like Kirby (a local friend) and Marge (a member of OVCF) and others who are suffering.  Thanks.