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#Calling#Shepherd#Presence

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

This post is a little bit of both worlds: the world of the “big church” and the world of “I’m a shepherd.” They will intertwine so I hope I don’t totally confused you. 🙂

When I started on my journey as a pastor while I was still in college (1972), I admit to total “duncity.” I know that is not a word but that is the way I would describe myself. Clueless might make more sense. What did I know? It was the summer following my Sophomore year and I was asked to preach at a country church-Mt Camel Christian Church in Mt. Sterling, KY. It was 100 miles away from the school. I worked all week and then would head down either sometime Saturday or very early Sunday morning. It was aptly named…it was at the top of a mountain.

As I graduated and became more acclimated to the pastor’s life, I began to see that I was to be a shepherd of the people. I took that seriously, sometimes too seriously, at the sake of my family. I was gone a lot. I didn’t know any better, plus that was the day and age of the visiting pastor. Office work all morning and visiting in the afternoon and many evenings. In my mind I was shepherding my people.

Then came Church, Inc. That was the time in the 90s when being a pastor switched gears. We were no longer shepherds; we were CEO’s. How can I say this? EPIC FAIL for me. And in my mind EPIC FAIL for the church as a whole. I’m not going to mention any names of the gurus, but being a pastor was no longer about being a shepherd but being the “chief vision-giver” of the church. Frankly, I despise that moniker. For one, I don’t work well in a vacuum. I dream best when surrounded by others who can dream as well. Batting ideas off each other. Seeking God’s purpose and plan more than my own.  Not doing things and making decisions unilaterally (although I sometimes have too) but including others in the dreaming and planning process.

Somewhere along the line I came full circle. The best part? I became a shepherd again. Granted I don’t go like I used to. Safety issues (translate that #MeToo, etc)  have changed the way I do ministry. I no longer see females alone, in my office or in their house or at a meal in a restaurant. If they can’t say it with Jo around, they don’t need to be telling me. (She or someone will at least be in the building if I meet with them at the office). But being a shepherd has allowed me to once again adopt something I read from Skye Jethani’s book, Immeasurable:

When I enter the room, I represent the presence of God.

That is especially true of visitation in a hospital or nursing home. I am Jesus to many- and honestly?- that is a very scary thought. But it is true. I am their shepherd and I represent Jesus. No CEO type pastor who sits in an ivory tower; is isolated from people; or looks down on people from “the sacred office” can say that.  I had to learn the hard way that I was wired to be a shepherd.

I would rather represent Jesus any day than some stuffy Church, Inc organization. You can’t put a price on people’s lives and hearts. No matter how badly Church, Inc wants to do that. So leave me out of the Global Leadership Summit and other Church, Inc gatherings. “Father, give me a heart for the people of OVCF.”

I apologize for the length of this “rant.” Thanks for reading this far.  If you have gone this far, I’d sure like to know what your thoughts are.

#Caring#Empathy

Monday, September 23rd, 2019

I have been a pastor for over 45 years. In those years if I have heard it once I have heard it a thousand times (and wish I had asked for $1 every time I did! I could retire and live off the interest. 🙂 ). The statement I have heard often from both nurses and even doctors is “Doctors and nurses make the worst patients.” I’ve seen cool, calm and collected nurses under extreme pressure melt when it comes to their own treatment.  I’m guessing it is one of those “I know too much” kind of deals. You know…they know what all could go wrong.

When I had my bike wreck in February of 2017 I spent 8 hours in the hallway of the Bloomington Hospital ER. Even though I had gotten there mid afternoon, I waited. It was a Friday in IU town. Although in and out of it due to pain, I was aware of the screaming person in one of the rooms due to drugs. I was aware I was put off for treatment or x-rays because a college student came in high and had an accident. And while I have my thoughts about being pushed aside for stupidity, I found something else.

E.M.P.A.T.H.Y

I was on the receiving end of delayed treatment. I laid in that hallway for 8 hours being pushed aside for others. Broken collarbone. 3 broken ribs. Multiple contusions to my face and hands and legs, i.e. road rash (but fortunately not a head injury due to my helmet which was split in 3 places). I now know what it is like when people tell me they sat or laid in the ER for hours waiting for treatment. Been there done that.

Empathy is a great gift. It allows one to know what another is going through and to feel with them. I’m reminded of the Scripture which says, “He was in all points tempted like we are yet without sin.” Imagine that! Jesus, the perfect, divine, virgin born Son of God knows what I am going through and how I struggle with sin.  He is not some far-off or far-out dude; He is the “close by and I understand what you are experiencing” Savior.

How are you with empathy? Do you feel it when others hurt? Do you take the time to let them know you are thinking of them (without telling your whole story)? As a follower of Christ we are told to cry when others cry; to laugh when others laugh; and to feel when others feel.  How well are you doing?

#Test#HardestTask#MajorRoadblock

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

In your mind, what is the hardest thing you have done or need to do?  I’m not going to beat around the bush on that question. I think one of the hardest things anyone has to do is to learn to forgive.

I have heard this quote or some variation of it for years:

To err is human, to forgive, divine-to forgive and forget supernatural.

Some of you may be old enough to remember the movie called Love Story, which starred a very young Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw.  It was a blockbuster hit for those days (1970) and was actually the first date Jo and I had (it didn’t end well). It contained one of the dumbest statements that I think has ever been made: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Now…that statement assumes that a real relationship will never require saying, “I’m sorry.” Forgiveness should just happen. There should be no special initiative on the part of either party.

But I beg to differ.  I hope we are all smart enough to realize any relationship takes time. Marriage. Friendship. Pastor/sheep. And I would be remiss if I left out the part forgiveness plays in any relationship. Forgiveness is never easy, especially when a great wrong has been done to you.  Makes you wonder about Joseph doesn’t it?

I believe this may have been his hardest task. This week’s sermon covers that time of his life when his brothers come seeking grain because of the famine. He recognizes them immediately but they don’t recognize him. There is quite an exchange which takes place until his “great revelation.” It will be a challenging sermon for all of us. I’d appreciate your prayers as I prepare.  Thanks.

#Done#Finished/UnfinishedBusiness

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

The 2019 BikeMS is history. After a long wait and months of training and fund-raising, the ride was this past Saturday. Dave, my friend from 3 Feet Please, made the trip from Arizona with his son and daughter. Chris drove with him; Nina flew in Thursday. We met up at the hotel Thursday night. It was mine and Jo’s first time meeting Chris and Nina. They were a delight! Chris’ first words were to Jo when he said, “I heard you like Mexican!” Guess where we ate supper Thursday night?  🙂  If you guessed El Toro in Indianapolis give yourself a virtual high five!!

Friday we drove to the site of the ride, checked out some things, registered, then Dave and his two took off to visit relatives in Fort Wayne. Jo & I drove the route so I could check it out then spent the rest of the day just chilling.

Saturday started out beautifully. We made it to Lebanon and Dave set up the 3 Feet Please tent and merchandise. He was giving away bears and t-shirts and had a drawing for 3 winners. We finally took off for our ride and 9 miles out the young lady who was riding with us (and was ill-prepared) had a flat. That took close to 1/2 hour to finally get on our way. She went flat again about a mile down the road and we finally made it to the first stop where they replaced the tube. She didn’t flat again but we were way behind. By the time we got to the lunch stop we had ridden about 2 miles in a steady rain. While there it came down in buckets and we were told we would be unable to leave until 3:00. It was 1:45 at that point.  Dave and I made a decision to call it a day. The young lady could not have made it back and staying with her (we would never leave her) would have gotten us back to the home place about 5:00. So after 38+ miles we called our rides (Jo & his son) to come get the three of us.  Although I was disappointed in not doing all 65 miles (which I think might have ended up closer to 76), I was content.

I’m thankful for:

  • Many of you who donated to a great cause. MS can strike anyone at any time. I rode for Kirby and Marge and everyone else who suffers from this disease. I was able to raise $1100.
  • A safe ride. Roads are not closed off just because there are a plethora of riders.  Dave’s friend, Lynn, was killed on an MS ride by a 93 year old man who thought he could pass a ton of riders at one time and when he found out he couldn’t swung back in taking out Dave and Nina on their tandem and hit Lynn so hard she flew over them.
  • Dave, Chris and Nina for making our weekend extra special. Dave paid for our two nights in the hotel which allowed us the opportunity to relax and not do a lot of driving. It allowed me to study some on Friday so I wouldn’t be so tired and ill-prepared for Sunday. The three also made their way to OVCF to worship with us Sunday and go to lunch before he took Chris and Nina to the airport.
  • Dave came to Spencer yesterday (Tuesday) to ride with me. We were able to get in 20 before the skies told us we better cut this short and get to the church building (where we left from). That might have been one of the smartest decisions I have made lately. The skies opened up shortly after we got there. We would have been soaked to the bones. It was fun riding with a friend whom I’ve come to love like a brother. (Now we just gotta get to Arizona. Sounds like a great January/February trip).

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the three of us in our 3 Feet Please cycling kit. But I did get two pictures of our help.  On the left is Jo, Chris and Nina. On the right is Chris and Nina. (In the back is my bike).  Marge also helped but was not in the picture (by choice, hence the empty chair).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all it was a great day and a great experience. An absolutely fun weekend spent with friends and some down time with Jo. Lord willing, I hope to ride again next year. So start saving your pennies! I am!!!  🙂 🙂 🙂

#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.