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#Faith#TruthfulSayings

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

I wrote a blog post here about reading Dr. Lee Warren’s book I’ve Seen the End of You.  Here are some thoughts from that book for you to think about this week:

With the prism of faith, we see only blurred lines of pain, disease, and disappointment.

Faith aligns what you think you’re seeing with reality. It shifts your focus from the problem to the promise.

Faith allows you to see it’s okay to have doubt but we doubt the doubt more than the promise of the One who never breaks His word.

Faith doesn’t keep us from having problems. (My note: Hear that all you health/wealth/prosperity (un)gospel teachers?) It just gives a clearer view of how God is responding to them.

Doubt is not fatal if we recognize it for what it is: a smudge on the lens. When we realize that, wipe it clear, and put the glasses back on, we’ll be okay.

The things we think we know are more like cataracts. They can obscure and blind us to the truth of God’s work around us that is plain to see when our eyes are healthy.

(All taken from page 254 of Dr. Warren’s book)

I’d like to highly recommend you read his book. I am now reading his previous book, No Place to Hide which covers his time in Iraq as a medical surgeon in Balad. It is gut-wrenching so far. More praise to our armed forces!!

 

#/DreamBig#GoodRead

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

Every once in awhile (not very often) I will look in the mirror or say to myself, “I wish I was younger.”  After 22 miles on a hot, humid and hilly day in the saddle this past Saturday, I got off my bike completely spent and found myself saying, “I wish I was younger.” (Yeah, I didn’t get any sympathy from my wife either).  When I cut my grass (I walk it) and my back, legs and knees are sore when I’m done, I wish I was younger.  When I look at what used to be Mr. America type muscles (cough! cough! That’s a joke son. I say. I say. That’s a joke) and see that I can no longer get the size I used to (especially since I don’t use steroids), I will say, “I wish I was younger.” When I make my way to bed between 9-9:30 so I can get up at 3:30 and it is still light out, Jo and I will sometimes say, “We’re pathetic.” (Translate: we didn’t do this when we were younger).  When I used to memorize a good part, if not all, of my sermon and now have trouble with the title, I will say, “I remember when I was younger.” 🙂

Just recently I finished a book only I didn’t wait until I was finished to say, “I wish I was younger.” I was saying it all along.  I have loved reading Bob Goff’s books- Love Does and Everyone Always. They were gems to read.  Going on that I picked up his newest book, Dream Big. He didn’t disappoint. His engaging and out-of-the-corner-of-his-mouth way of speaking and writing make me chuckle. It also had me underlining. I took notes. Each chapter began with a short pithy statement that alone was worth the price of the book. It read quickly. It is not filled with deep theological truth that makes you stop and chew on it for days.  That is not his style. But you cannot go away from any one chapter not thinking. His stories capture you. His honesty and transparency are refreshing.  Bob has the ability to laugh at himself and also to be serious about the passions which drive him.

But I wish I was younger.  If I was in my 20s or 30s or even 40s this would be a book I would read over and over, probably once a year. But at age 67 I’m near the end of my dreaming big stage. Not that I’m done dreaming or hoping or wanting to serve, but I WISH I WAS YOUNGER! I’m giving this book to my daughter, Tami, to read. She’s only 45 and has dreams. I want her to pursue them, especially since teaching kindergarten kids in school is no longer what it once was. Masks on kids? Seriously? Social distancing kindergarten kids? Seriously? “Pursue your dreams Tami.” And you who might be reading this: pursue your dreams. Especially if you are young and still have time to dream big.

Yeah…if I was only younger. My suggestion: go out and buy this for someone you love and care about. Read it with them and challenge them. Mentor them to pursue their God-given passions.  Let me leave you with just three quick quotes from his book:

Live on the edge of yikes. (p.155)

I love that!! Here is another:

Be where your feet are. (p.127)

That is an old South saying. And one more:

Don’t act like you got it all figured out. Nobody wants to give that person extra time.  Instead, be humble, self-aware, and punishingly truthful. (p.15)

There are more…way more. Enough to fill two journal pages.  Get the book for yourself and read it.

Dream Big: Know What You Want, Why You Want It, and What You’re Going to Do About It

#MyChallenge

Monday, June 29th, 2020

My sermon yesterday was on God. How He promises the impossible and does the incredible.  I used several Scriptures during the message.

“Ah, Lord God! It is you who made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard from You!” Jer.32:17

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” Jer.32:27  (Rhetorical question from God)

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Gabriel’s words to Mary in Luke 1:37

“What is impossible with men is possible with God.”  Jesus’ words to the crowd in Luke 18:27

David and Goliath. (Was a little boy really supposed to even have a chance against a veteran soldier who was also a giant?)  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the furnace. Daniel in the lion’s den.  Moses parting the Red Sea. God was a God of miracles, One who did things way beyond what could be imagined.

He made the promise: “Nothing is too hard for me.” He kept it. He still does.  My challenge to the folks yesterday and to me was to trust God with what seems to be impossible situations. He promised He would come through. His track record is impeccable. 

Join me. Won’t you?

#Where’sBill?#GreatDisappearningAct

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

I’ve been largely absent from this blog this week. Okay…I haven’t been here at all, except to tell myself I ought to post something. I could shoot you all kinds of excuses but you might think I’m just blowing smoke. I don’t smoke so it can’t be that.  It’s just plain being busy.

Ryan is out of the office this week. I told him several weeks ago I expected him to find a week where he, Hope and the kids can get away. No office. No media (although I have no control over his phone use).  He has been working hard through this whole COVID thing trying to stay in touch with the kids. Lots of ZOOM meetings with them. Studying to make their time productive.  He even had an early Sunday morning time with the elementary kids! They sang; they danced (the kids did); he taught them and they loved it. He did too. But then he would rush to the church building and be one of the 4 who were here-Jo (Power Point); Tami (recording for FB); Ryan (sound and recording); and me (preaching…I think).  He took on the added responsibility of helping get our fledgling recording of the worship started and moving. He also had two weeks of Wilderness Week at our church camp cancelled (they cancelled the whole summer). So along with some frustration was some sadness.  He was tired and wore out.  So they went camping.

Today is his and Hope’s anniversary (#15 I think) and they decided to spend it together backpacking. Not to worry. They spent their honeymoon camping as they traveled cross country.  I affiliate with strange people you know? 🙂 In all honesty, there is no underestimating his value to the team. I am so grateful that he left a secure bank job to become our youth pastor. The dude knows how to minister. 

My week has been full with appointments, one that went way past my normal bedtime.  Yesterday I spent time visiting some folks who would love to be there on Sunday but are being cautious because of underlying health issues.  It was a fun afternoon. But when I do those things it takes me out of the office.

So…out of office…no blog. I know, I know. Makes you sadder than all get out. I love my job. I prefer to call it my calling. I love seeing people. It has been a good week.  I look forward to tomorrow except for the doctor’s visit at 7 a.m. which is a follow-up to lab work from last Friday. But I get to spend the day with Jo! That’s always good.

Hope your week was good. Anything you can share about it that will put a smile to my face?

#Strength#WearyDays#BiggerGod

Friday, June 19th, 2020

I’m sure you have heard the American prayer. In fact, I suspect you have probably prayed it as have I. That prayer is simple:

Lord, give me patience…and give it to me now!

As I write this post, and as I prepare to preach on Sunday morning, I am a poster child for this prayer. It is far more common than I (and possibly you) would be willing to admit. Patience is not a virtue of many most Americans. We want it and we want it now. Case in point: the recent COVID shutdown. The first week or so we were patient and sort of reveled in the change. But as it went on longer we saw signs of impatience creep into our lives. Many who said, “No way will I go out” began to stretch the boundaries. 

We see this “I want it now” mentality in newlyweds.  They don’t want to wait to get things they grew up with. Without even realizing it they want what their parents had and spent years planning and saving for. We end up in debt up to our eyeballs because of our impatience.

Following God is no different. We want answers…NOW. We want God’s direction…NOW. When truthfully, waiting is the last thing we want to do. But oftentimes we are called on to wait. Sunday’s Scripture is most definitely one of the key passages about that: “Those who wait on the Lord…”

Sunday’s sermon is the second part of Isaiah 40 that began last week. This week is from Isaiah 40: 28-31: “Strength for Weary Days.” Thanks for your prayers for me and the church as we meet.

 

#Loved#Surprised#WOW!

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

I have a file in my office I have titled “Makes it All Worthwhile.” It is filled with cards, notes, pictures and miscellaneous things people have sent or given me over the years to remind me of their love, prayers, thanks, and all-around encouragement. With the onset of texting I sometimes receive encouragement that I cannot put into that file. Yesterday, was one such day.  I was in the dermatologist’s office and when I got back to my truck checked my phone.  I had received the following text. I am withholding the person’s name but will text that person with the link to this post. I want him/her to know how much their text meant to me.  Here is the text:

6 different times in the last two days, I have had you heavy on my heart. I did some digging and found this in Jeremiah- “and I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”

This is what I feel like I’m supposed to remind you of:

The crap of the world right now can be discouraging. Can feel like you aren’t able to do what God has called you to do in the capacity you normally do it. But don’t be discouraged by that. You are reaching people that you may have never reached because you are forced to do so online. You got this because God’s got this and you are totally a dude after his own heart.

Love you! Happy Tuesday!

My response:

“Was in doc office and don’t take my phone in. I’m emotional over your text because you care. And I love you and appreciate you for that. It has definitely been different but I’m also seeing God come through in a big way. I’m excited about telling the folks how.”

One of the people I shepherd sent that to me.  A guy can go a long way on encouragement like that. He/she has no idea how that made my day and my drive home yesterday morning. So here is my question to you: have you told your pastor how much he means to you? I guarantee it will go a long way in lifting his spirits.

#Surrender#Preparation#ReadingGod’sWord

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

In my last post I mentioned that I was looking for something in one of my old journals. I found it, along with the thoughts from the previous post.  I would like to include what I was looking for in this post for you to keep and have available.

There is a story behind this. Back in late 2016 and early 2017 I was dry. I had been hit by a hit-n-run driver while riding my bike in November of 2016. In February I did an endo while going down a hill. To this day I have no clue what happened. But as painful as the lessons were, combined they woke me up from my slumber.  This reading was one of the first things I latched onto after the first accident (or shortly before). I knew I wasn’t right and something had to give. I share it with you:

O Holy Spirit of God,

come now and live forever in my heart and in my thoughts.

Be the inspiration, through the Word,

for all my thoughts and deeds.

Take possession of my imagination and grant

that all my thoughts may be in line with the Word.

Take possession of the deepest core of my will,

and through Your Word, control my life in its totality.

God-given Word, be with me in my silence and in my words,

when I work and when I relax, in the freshness of the morning

and also the melancholy of the night.

Grant me the grace, Spirit of the Word, to delight

in the mystery of Your pronouncements.

Make my heart an altar and pour the

purifying fire of Your love into it.

Spirit of the Word, be with me today in everything I do.

Don’t let me deny friendliness and courtesy to those around

me, for I know I’m being true to the Word in the way I treat others.

O Holy Spirit, be with me when I

read and study the Word today.

Grant that it would refresh my spirit

so that I will keep on seeking in it

the pure, and the good, and the true.

Lord Jesus, You broke the bread there at the lake,

break every day Your Bread of Life for me, O Lord.   Amen.

It reminds me of the hold hymn “Break Thou the Bread of Life” and I would find myself breaking out in a quiet song after reading it. May this reading open your heart to listening to God speak through His Word.

#Drive-By#WorthIt#

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

Have you ever wondered if what you are doing is making any kind of difference in someone’s life? I think we all have those thoughts. Something we do goes unappreciated or at least unnoticed. We don’t hear a thank you for some heartfelt action we took. We gave it our all and instead of encouragement someone finds fault. That’s the way of life I guess.

BUT IT SURE IS NICE TO HEAR GOOD WORDS UPON OCCASION!

In one of my recent posts, I mentioned by “drive-by” approach.  You can read about that here.  I am not doing it so I can hear good words back. I am doing it for two reasons: 1) So the people know they are loved and being cared about; and 2) for me. That’s right. It is for me. I miss people and if this gives me a chance to pray for and then chat with people face-to-face then I’m happy. I am also convinced it was an idea that came from a pastor’s heart to a listening God.  It has gone well so far. I’ve had 3 afternoons of visits and most have been home and come to the door or stood on their porch. Yesterday (Monday) I had 2 not home-which I expected- and 2 home. I had fantastic visits with people (making sure we were more than 6 feet away. I found out one was home and I didn’t know it. I’ve asked her permission to reprint her email to me. She says a world of truth in it. I have edited it to keep out the name of her company.  She gave me permission to include her name.

Good morning Bill,

Last Thursday (business name) told us that we were staying home until at least June 1st, then we would go back in waves, what those waves look like, who knows. I am studying the minor prophets with the girls in bible study, there I was being Jonah for sure, pouting under my plant, feeling sorry for myself. I even told God, I know this is wrong, I need to keep my focus on you, this is just more circumstances, but I’m sick of staying home all by myself, all kinds of me me me stuff. I tried to spend some time reading Paul, my favorite writer in the Bible, pray more, but with the raining, windy, colder weekend, I was still Jonah. Monday morning came, I went to my computer and I said Lord I know I pouted most of the weekend, even tried to pretend like I wasn’t, but you know where my heart is. I just couldn’t shake it. Sometime Monday afternoon, all of the sudden I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. I wasn’t praying at the time or even thinking about what was going on. It just made me stop what I was doing, it just felt like a big wave washed over me, my stubbornness pouting self just left. I said thank-you Lord, I was tired of pouting under my plant. I just couldn’t see what I needed even though I knew where the answer was. Thanks for just removing my pouting stubbornness on your own, making my mind clear to focus back on you. I went to the mailbox, around 4:30, and when I came back to the house, I saw your card. I missed it on the way out. I thanked God, for you. I sat down on the porch prayed, for you and our church. I thanked God, that he listened to you to speed up my recovery, and to put a stop to my pity party. Everyone keeps saying that these are some strange times we are dealing with, but honestly if you read the Bible, know about the spiritual warfare, this is nothing new to God. Our world has turned their back on God, we as Christians need to show the world our joy, and peaceful heart, that you can only have through God. It’s a really an opportunity to display that, I could not focus on that pouting. Thank you Bill, I know not all prayers have such a quick response but from my heart to yours, thanks for the push.

Gail

All that to say I was humbled by her email. I was certainly humbled God used me that way (and that quickly).  But let me leave a word with you. If you know of someone who needs thanked for an “above and beyond” during this time, take the time to tell him/her.

#Drive-By

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020

Say the phrase and you are sure to get visions of someone driving by and shooting at will or maybe at a specific target. I want to give a new picture and reality to the word “drive-by.” I realize even as I write this or say this there will be those who disagree; will call me reckless; etc.  Save the hate speech. 🙂

Monday afternoon I was riding my bike. During most of my rides I play mind games with myself.  Or is that mindless games? I don’t ride to think; I ride to relax. I ride to gain perspective because you know how exercise frees the mind, especially when you are in pain. I wasn’t in pain in the sense of hurting, but the 14 mph wind out of the SW was killing me.  Not just hurting…killing me. I rode yesterday also. About froze my you-know-what off since I underestimated the 15 mph W wind that lowered the temps into the 40s. I did stop back at the office and put on some more clothes (arm and leg warmers and a jacket) but didn’t have anything to cover my head or ears. My helmet is designed to allow air flow. Trust me…it did flow through! I wondered if I would have any ears when I got back after my 14 mile ride.

Anyway…it hit me hard on Monday how much I miss seeing the people at the church. I am a social creature.  I sent notes to everyone several weeks ago (over 100). I try to text or call. I preach each week via FB. But I miss the personal touch of seeing, laughing and hugging. So while I was riding an idea came to mind. One I began implementing yesterday. Why not do a version of a drive-by? I hit 4 out-of-town homes yesterday (and one I couldn’t find). No I didn’t throw stones. I threw prayers. Actually, I pulled into their driveway and prayed specifically for them. I texted them to see if they were home afterwards and told them what I did and to look outside. Every family, to a “T,” came outside on their porch to say hi. I stood by my truck, maintained a safe distance, and chatted with them.  Got to see some of the little ones who will give me hugs on Sunday (but could only smile and wave). Even some of the adults who will.  Got to fist-bump a couple teenage boys. And the best medicine of all? I got to laugh with all of them. I have a mask but one wasn’t needed…not at the distance I was at (except for the teen boys. I had to fight off their hugs. Yeah, and if you believe that I have some swamp land in Arizona I’d be glad to sell you).

All in all, it was a great afternoon. Gave me the social interaction I needed. Hopefully gave them a sense that they are loved and missed.  I plan to do take a couple hours in the afternoons and do some more drive-bys until this thing is over and we can see each other in person and up close.

#Anniversary#Celebration#Honored

Monday, April 20th, 2020

I took a break last week from posting on this blog except for the sermon. After posting on two blogs for over a month, a break was needed. Something happened yesterday that I wanted to share.

April 13th is a day that has significance to me.  On April 13, 1932 my mother was born. She went to be with Jesus in March of 2004. So when April 13th came this year, I thanked God for her influence in my life and then moved on. I am not a real sentimental person on things like that.

But something else happened on April 13th. To honor her in one of the biggest ways I could think of, April 13, 1975 was the day I chose for my ordination into the ministry. I had been preaching since I was a Sophomore in college (1972) but that was my official day of being licensed as a pastor. I had heard of it while in college but I didn’t like the reasons some of them did it: to be an official pastor which basically gave them a free ride on Vietnam. I can also remember my mom telling me not to become a pastor because of the respect and “fame” and honor given to clergy. Back then, pastors were seen as upright and worthy of respect. (My how times have changed!)  Anyway, when I saw how some acted and talked and chased woman, I didn’t want to move too fast on this idea of being ordained (not that I did those things). I wanted it to be an occasion where I knew what I was doing and was serious about my calling.  As I reflect on those ideas today, I’m not sure I knew either! What I did know is that it was a big step for me.

So on April 13, 1975 I chose to honor my mother, whose influence on my faith is unquestioned, by being ordained on her birthday. Besides, as I got older I figured it would be easier to remember one date instead of two. Remembering Jo’s birthday and my two daughters was hard enough.  I’ve never made a big deal about special days in my life, except for my wedding date (which I am trying to remember…oh yeah, June 16, 1973) and the birth of my girls (June 3, 1975 and August 23, 1979).  Let’s see…mine is…oh yeah, October 9, 1952.  And I hereby refuse to publish Jo’s birthday since I value my life.  But trust me when I say she is a tad bit older than me, like from January 30, 1951 compared to mine. (But please don’t tell her I said anything! I love my life!!)

But I digress. Yesterday during the virtual morning worship, I welcomed people to the worship and moved away from the pulpit to let the first song play. It wasn’t the one I picked and looked up and it was a slide show Tami had put together honoring my 45th anniversary of ordination. To say I was blown away would be an understatement. To say I walked away to gather my emotions before standing before the people again might (not) be a lie. Anyway, I was honored and humbled she put this together. And I was especially honored folks responded.  It was hard to see via the FB worship so she has posted it on YouTube. It was public at first but she is taking it private. You have the extreme privilege (I’m humble too) to be given the link to watch it.  Here is the link. Hope you enjoy it. And yes, you will notice two people missing from it: Jo and Janna (my youngest).  Least Tami still loves me. 🙂

I have so many people to thank for 45+ years.  But most of all, I want to give praise, glory and honor to the ONE who called me into this high calling. He has been a beautiful picture of grace, forgiveness, patience, and transformation through all of this. And thank you Tami for doing this (she was last one).