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#Challenge#SeeingGodInvolved

Friday, December 27th, 2019

Hard to believe isn’t it that this Sunday will be the last Sunday of 2019? As they always say, “Where did the time go?” My theme for 2019 was Unsinkable. Over the year I looked at different Psalms which anchored our faith. I took a look at the sayings of Jesus on the cross.  I spent several weeks in Romans 8- IMHO one of, if not the, greatest chapter in the Bible. We spent the summer looking at various OT heroes-Daniel; S-M-A; Deborah- and then a multi-week study on Joseph. I rounded out the year by looking at the 7 churches in Revelation; being a servant; and finally, of not missing Christmas.

We now stand at the brink of a new year with no clue what it brings. I’m sorta glad of that. Depending on what it is to be like (and only God knows that) could determine where I felt like getting up or staying in bed.  I kid.  The theme for 2020 is TRUTH and I’ll unveil that graphic next week.

Every year at this time pastors across the land will be preaching on the past and the future. I am willing to wager (although I am not a betting man) more that one pastor will say something like this: “You have no clue what 2020 will bring, but one thing I can guarantee-whatever it brings you will not be able to navigate it alone.”

My sermon this Sunday is titled “I Challenge You!” My challenge for me and for my folks (and you by proxy) is that we allow God to be actively involved in our lives-past, present and future.  I’m using Exodus 33 for my text this Sunday and will be approaching it from two plains: God At a Distant (33:1-6) and God In The Present (33:7-23).  Lots of rich OT history to show God’s distance as a result of sin/choices and God’s presence in the present using the Tabernacle as the backdrop.

A little different sermon for me but one I pray makes a point about God’s desire for us to know His presence in our lives. I’d appreciate your prayers as I close out the year. I’ve also been fighting a cough that wracks my vocal chords and makes them raw. The doctor says all signs are clear. So prayers for my throat and an end to the cough would be more than welcome.

#ChristmasChallenge#Post21

Saturday, December 21st, 2019

Tomorrow is our Christmas worship at another venue. For the past couple of years, our neighbors, Abram Farm, have offered us the use of their venue for our Christmas and Easter worship.  We like to be together at least on those two services and worship as one body in one place. Due the space limitations of our building, we appreciate the opportunity to be together. It takes an extra effort by many of our people to help us make it a good experience. We have to move our music equipment (drums, stands, keyboards, etc). We hire a local man who does sound stages all over the state to do our sound. He also has his own equipment which saves us having to cart ours over. We have to meet at 7:00 on Sunday morning to set up because she has a wedding Saturday night. We have to come back Sunday afternoon to put things away. The parking lot is a challenge so we shuttle folks from the church lot to the venue. Fortunately, our properties are right next to each other.  We are blessed that Bill & Suzie are such great neighbors. They offer us the use of their venue as a gift to us. WOW! After our first use of the venue for Easter several years ago we gave them a gift of money that blew them away. However, they told us the only way we could use the venue again was if we would accept it as a gift on their part. We accepted although this past summer we paid to have loads of gravel brought to their property for their road.  One of our men was gracious enough to do that.

Anyway, our worship will be at 10:00 so if you are thinking about it, I would appreciate your prayers. My message will be simple and will follow the theme I had developed for the month: Don’t Miss It! Tomorrow’s sermon will be called Don’t Miss Christmas! I’m using three example of people in the Bible who did. I cannot take credit for the thought. It came from John MacArthur’s book God With Us: The Miracle of Christmas. Here are the people I will be using and the reason they missed it:

  1. The Innkeeper- he was preoccupied.
  2. Herod- he lived in fear.
  3. The Religious Leaders- they missed it because of indifference.

There are more I could add, but the atmosphere will already be foreign and I prefer to “whet the appetite” for more than to go too long. The venue does not have childcare space so we make up one for the nursery. But the other young ones have to stay with the parents and that can be challenging.

Your prayers would be much appreciated for things to go well. But most importantly the gospel will be preached and hearts will be touched to not take Jesus’ birth for granted and to miss its message.

Please check out my fellow #ChristmasChallenge bloggers:

Diane at Hadarah

Ed at Word!

#ChristmasChallenge#Post13#Gifts!#Don’tMissThem

Friday, December 13th, 2019

In his book When God Whispers Your Name, Max Lucado wrote about a fictional game called “What’s Your Price?” The contestants were presented with options and must choose one. The pot was fed more when the price was 10 million dollars. You might be shocked to know what some of the choices were:

  • 25% would abandon their family.
  • 25% would abandon their church.
  • 23% would become a prostitute for a week.
  • 16% would give up their American citizenship.
  • 16% would leave their spouse.
  • 3% would put their children up for adoption.

That’s not counting the 7% who said they would murder; the 6% who would change their race; and the 4% who would change their sex.  I realize some may choose to argue with those stats…that’s okay. But that leads me to a point.  For whatever reason, we are becoming (some have already become) people of no commitment.

As a result, we are often missing out on the three gifts most people would love to have: Love. Joy. Peace.  Those three ideas are probably the most talked about gifts people want and need for Christmas.

I’m posting this today and then will be using those three as “seed” for my #ChristmasChallenge. They are the crux of my sermon Sunday so I would appreciate your prayers as we get closer to Christmas and try even more to bring the focus on Jesus. Thanks.

#Don’tMiss#Announcement

Saturday, December 7th, 2019

I’m a little bit behind for posting this. Sorry about that. My week was anything but normal. Besides, what is normal anyway? But I guess better late than never.

Depending on circumstances, announcements can be either a curse or a blessing. How many of us can remember the announcements made over the loud speaker at the beginning of every school day.  (Oh you can’t remember that far back? They didn’t have PA systems when you went to school? I’m sorry. 🙂 )  You don’t mind hearing announcements of a special award or a day off from work. But you don’t want to be on a airplane and the captain coming on the speaker saying, “Strap in folks. We are going down.”  Then there is the infamous church announcement time when most don’t hear or it goes over their head. Gender reveal parties are all the rage today as the big announcement is made about the sex of the baby.

Can any announcement be bigger than the proclamation to the shepherds at the fields of Bethlehem? While we have Christmas plays with cute kids dressed up in towels and robes and groans of “Ooooh” and “Aaaah” and “Ain’t he cute!” coming from our mouths, this story is so much bigger than that.

My sermon this Sunday continues the theme for this month of “Don’t Miss Out!”  As you probably can guess, my sermon will be based on the story of the angel’s announcement to the shepherds. While I will be talking about the shepherds, the main idea will be the names Jesus is given: Savior, Christ, and Jesus (Matthew 1).

I’d appreciate your prayers for Sunday. And I thank you ahead of time.

#ItBegins#EssentialTruth#Don’tMissIt!

Saturday, November 30th, 2019

And so it begins…

The race to Christmas. Much of the way we celebrate Christmas finds its roots in our younger years. We carry traditions with us. Some we ditch; some we keep observing.

Growing up nothing we ever put out except the lights. No tree. No gifts. No nothing. But when we woke up Christmas morning the whole house, especially the living room had been transformed. We don’t do that today. Our tree goes up Thanksgiving Day or the day after and stays until the day or two after Christmas.Gifts are placed under the tree as they are wrapped.

Growing up we were taught not to use our Christmas gifts (except for games) until after the real tree was taken down. We don’t that one either.

We NEVER opened a gift until Christmas morning. We don’t do that one either, however, I did get Jo’s family to compromise. One gift on Christmas Eve; the rest Christmas morning.

One fact is a constant though: the meaning of Christmas has never changed. The teaching of that meaning has never changed. The impact of that meaning has never changed either.

Just as there is a backstory to each of our histories of Christmas, there is a backstory to the story of Christmas as well. Christmas didn’t start at the manger; it started years before we can conceive. Before the OT.  This story was formed before recorded time and if we were somehow able to put it on the silver screen there would be no CGI or animation able to convey it.

I have given my series for this month the title of “Don’t Miss It!!” Each sermon (4) will be one aspect of Christmas which is so important we dare not miss it.  It would be a tragedy if we did. This Sunday my sermon will be taken from John 1:1-14 and my aim is to show the essential truth of Christmas.  A.W.Tozer once said:

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.

When you think about Christmas what is the first thing that comes to your mind? My desire is to lay the groundwork for a meaningful Christmas by presenting the essential truth of Christmas. May you know that as well. I would appreciate your prayers.

#SayingThanks#1/10#StigmaHealed

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

We are in the season known as Thanksgiving. I tell you that just in case you were born under a rock yesterday. 🙂 In many ways, Thanksgiving is the forgotten season. It is sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas, both seasons which play very well into our consumeristic society. Candy and gifts. What more could you ask for? The way Thanksgiving is overlooked it makes you wonder if we won’t see Uncle Sam in a sleigh pulled by 8 tiny rabbits.

My sermon this Sunday is taken from Luke 17:11-19. It is the story of the 10 lepers who asked for healing. Jesus sent them on their way and as they went they were healed. Only one took the time to come back and say thanks. Leprosy was an ugly disease and to be cured from it was monumental. It boggles the mind to think only one individual stopped and turned around to say thanks.

I guess I shouldn’t be so critical though. How many times have I been blessed or seen God move and forget to say thanks? My simple challenge this week will be to remind the folks to say thanks. Not to take God’s goodness for granted.  Your prayers for Sunday would be appreciated.

*************************

I’d like to challenge you to do the same. With Thanksgiving next week, it is a time for reflection. Be sure to set aside some time to do so. Jo, Tami and I will be heading to Ohio early Monday morning to visit her sister and then stop off for a night in Columbus to our grandson and his parents. 🙂 Thursday noon the church is serving a meal for the community. I will approve your comments but will be missing most of the week. Thanks for reading.

#NoFence#NoLimits

Friday, November 15th, 2019

I don’t think anyone would argue with this statement:

Being a servant often requires we step outside our box and do what doesn’t come naturally and or easily.

That is the basic premise of my sermon this Sunday. Being a servant often requires we become uncomfortable in our service. Sometimes it is disarming, in that we find ourselves in situations which try our patience; test our mettle; even call on us to make hard decisions.

Could there be any parable more in line with that thinking than the Good Samaritan? Talk about someone who went out of his way and out of his box! There was no love lost between the Jews and Samaritans so Jesus’ example really had to fry them. The fact He used two Jewish religious leaders as part of His story left little to the imagination. Amazingly, it was this man who wasn’t supposed to stop and help, did. It says he had compassion on him, bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them, put him on his own donkey and took him to an inn to recover. When he needed to leave he even left extra money for further care.  I think I am safe in saying this Samaritan went way beyond what was expected, and certainly stepped outside the box to care for him.

The story is found in Luke 10:25-37. You now know where we will be studying this Sunday. And as always, your prayers would be much appreciated.

#Intangible#Watching#Waiting#Working

Friday, November 8th, 2019

I had totally intended on giving you a report of our prayer time this past Sunday but life happened. Some good; some not so good. But I will do that at the beginning of next week. For now, I’d like to just give you a heads up about Sunday’s sermon.

Almost every decade some false prophet comes along who claims to have figured out precisely when the Lord will return. The JW cult was founded on that premise, and even though their leader was wrong multiple times, it still thrives. (GAG!) Back in 1988 a book became popular with the title 88 Reason Why Jesus Will Return in 1988. Methinks he may have been wrong.

I find it fascinating that not even Jesus knew when He would return. What He was concerned with was preparing His followers until He did return. My sermon this Sunday morning will be three parables Jesus told to do just that. Here are the three parables with my emphasis.

  1. Two Servants (Expectant Watching) Scripture is Matthew 24:45-51
  2. Ten Virgins (Patient Waiting) Scripture is Matthew 25:1-13
  3. Three Stewards (Diligent Working) Scripture is Matthew 25:14-30

Of course, as you probably know each of these will stand on their own so my thoughts will be capsulized. I’m focusing on this month’s theme: Servants. So each of the parables will look at what or how a servant is to be. There  is one word which makes its way through all three of these parables: faithfulness. All three exhort us to be ready.

I’m excited about continuing this series on Servants and using these three well-known parables. Your prayers would be greatly appreciated. It has been a long and tiring week of ministry. I always need God’s Spirit when I preach.  This Sunday is an extra dose. I know He is sufficient. Thanks.

#Servant#Don’tForget#3Essentials

Friday, November 1st, 2019

Ever since 2009 the church I pastor has had a Day of Service (DoS). It is a day where we serve the community.  Our first one was humble in its efforts but very successful. We changed oil and did some light mechanical work as well as help people who were unable to get things done to their houses (prepare for winter, clean up after the flood, and more). We missed a year or two as we found our footing at our newly purchased building but eventually we “got it going” again. Then we saw the need to do two a year. We invited another church to join us and then two others. They fizzled out before they started but the first invite (The Connection) formed a great working relationship with us. The Spring DoS was cleaning up after winter’s havoc, preparing flowerbeds, and general maintenance. The Fall DoS involved the mechanical work on vehicles, cleaning gutters, as well as getting ready for winter. This year (2019) we had one in the Spring but had some unfinished work so OVCF took it upon ourselves to finish the two jobs that needed done.  Our last 2-3 efforts also involved the Owen County Chamber of Commerce.

All things change. After the two very tedious jobs this year which required a lot of man hours, I started feeling unsettled about asking our people to go to the well one more time. Then I studied for the first letter in Revelation-the letter to the church at Ephesus- where Jesus commended them for their hard work and service, but had one thing against them: they had left their first love. So I started praying and meditating on that and realized those words were very relevant to us. So during that sermon I told them my thoughts and that I was calling off the DoS (It was considered “my baby” by the others) for the Fall. I “felt” God was saying, “Bill, you guys have been so busy doing for Me, it is time to just be with me.”  So this Sunday we are having an afternoon of a Guided Prayer Time through different “stations” in our building. From 1-3:30 this place will truly be a Holy Place. My next post will tell you more about it.

But I decided to carry on with my initial sermon for that Sunday and to develop a whole month of sermons. My theme is “Servants” and my Scripture this Sunday is from Micah 6:6-8.  The Scripture tells us three items every follower of Christ (a servant) needs to have:

  • Do justice
  • Love mercy
  • Walk humbly with God

I would appreciate your prayers for me this weekend. I would especially love it if you would pray for the church as we meet. Learning to be a servant who does those three acts is absolutely essential.

I will be closing the sermon with this song.  Hope you enjoy it.

#Memories#Goodtime#15th

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

This past Sunday the church I pastor celebrated our 15th anniversary. We had a great time in many respects. We had everyone meeting in one service. That is always a favorite. The singing was good with so many people in one building. The spirit was good. We had some folks who were regulars but had to move away because of health surprise us with a visit. That brightened a lot of people. We had an excellent pitch-in with some of the best food on the planet (and I made none of it).  I did hold my eating down to a mild roar.  🙂 There was a ton of cooperation of setting tables and chairs up and tearing them down and putting them away.  All in all it was a mighty fine day.

During my sermon I reiterated our Mission and Vision, especially for our new folks. I’ll put it here for you:

MISSION:

To Connect People to Jesus

VISION:

  • To be passionate pursuers of Jesus
  • To be models of truth and love
  • To be involved in our community

After speaking about those for a few minutes and explaining how they work, I unveiled my theme for 2020. Although I have the first series already mapped out (It is from 2 Cor.4), the rest of it is a work in progress. I’m convinced that many followers of Christ are swept downstream because they do not know the truth of the Gospel. With that in mind, here is my banner and theme for 2020:

I’ll not say much the rest of this year about it as I will be doing a series through November on “Servants” and one in December on “Don’t Miss It!” But come the first of the year, I’ll be focusing on TRUTH. I’ll keep you updated, as I normally do, via this blog.

By the way, I am not one for promoting myself but they record my sermons and then put them online for others to hear. If you would like to keep pace with  where OVCF is in study, I invite to take a listen. You can go here to check it out.