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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.

Effectiveness#2

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

“I’m afraid of living an insignificant life.” So said one speaker at a conference. That’s a good sentiment. I could say that as well. I might say it as “I want to leave a legacy.”

But here’s the rub: what is significant? What kind of legacy? Well….I guess it depends on who and what one listens to. If I listen to the world’s definition of significance, I’ll hear something totally different from God’s definition. Ask someone the definition of significance and most will tie it to something they have done-even though it may be something truly worthy like a home for unwed mothers, or a shelter, or feeding the homeless, etc. But that significance is tied to “do.”

When that idea creeps into a Christ-follower’s thinking, or the church, then it is easy to think my value (significance) is related to what I do, what I have achieved. I tie how I feel about myself to what I do. So the “bigger” something is the more significant my life appears to be.

NOT. TRUE.

Significance is not found in what I do or even don’t do. My value to God is based on what I am in His eyes. He isn’t going to hold me up and carry me on His shoulders to be praised before an adoring crowd. I’m not going to be ride the wave like a coach or star player after a huge victory. My significance is not based on my effectiveness (see Leader A vs Leader B again in that first post), but on my relationship with God. Service is good but it should never trump being with Him.

What do you think? Better yet, ask yourself how you view your significance. Is there a change I need to make so I can see myself through God’s eyes?

 

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. 🙂

Blues

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

Several definitions come to mind with the word:

  1. Plural of the color on the ROYGBIV spectrum.
  2. Type of music usually done with deep emotion. There are the standard blues artists B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin, Darrel Mansfield and Glenn Kaiser (the latter two were/are in the Christian music scene).
  3. A state of mind often compared to depression or defeat. “I have the blues today” or “I’m in a blue mood.”

Be assured those are my definitions. They are not scholastic or academic by any stretch. Me? An academic? Will never happen. 🙂

It is not embarrassing to admit to bouts of the “blues,” even as a follower of Christ. Some of the most prominent names in Christendom were prone to it. Charles Spurgeon was one of them. But his went even deeper. I used to be foolish enough to think all one needed to do was “buck it up” and quote Scripture and praise God and all the blues will be lifted. Try telling that to someone who struggles with clinical depression. You might get swatted across the face (if they care enough to do it).

My sermon Sunday is entitled “Stop Singing the Blues.” I’m using Psalm 77 as my Scripture. It is another psalm by Asaph. He reveals quite a bit about his struggle with the blues (as I will call it), but he also finishes by giving us a good remedy for those times when we struggle and feel overwhelmed. I have no desire to give a sermon on “Five Easy Answers to Your Depression” since I don’t know 5 answers nor do I preach those kinds of sermons.  I will, however, emphasize Asaph’s approach to it all. {Hint: it starts at verse 10 then to verses 14-15 and then check out verse 19}.

Your prayers would be much appreciated. Prayers for clarity. Prayers for receptive hearts. Prayers for God’s Word to speak and penetrate. Thanks.

This will complete my series on An Anchor. I have been preaching from Psalms since the beginning of the year. I’ll be away next Sunday and Ryan, our youth pastor, will start a series I am calling “Last Words” (7 last sayings of Jesus) which will take us to Resurrection Sunday.  Then on to Romans 8.  If you care to listen to any of the sermons on Psalms you can catch the podcast on the church website.

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?

Faith/Feelings?

Friday, February 8th, 2019

First, let me just say we needed Noah the past two or three days. It has rained like “cats and dogs.” So much so that school was let out early today (Thursday) and some of the kids were stuck at school anyway because the buses couldn’t get through. One school had all three access ways flooded. Oh…but tonight!!! It is supposed to go down to 18 degrees. Talk about a royal mess!

Anyway…now for my regularly scheduled post.  🙂

The battle between faith and feelings has been and will continue to be ongoing. There are many who doubt God’s faithfulness and love because their feelings have betrayed them. Enter Psalm 13.  I wrote about this psalm at my other blog here on January 8. When I decided to extend my sermon series on Psalms I decided to incorporate this Psalm into that series. I’m not going to reiterate here what I wrote there. I’d like to ask you to venture over there.

But one thing I do want to emphasize is what kept David anchored were his beliefs in the certainty of God’s character, based on the certainty of God’s promises, even though his feelings were all over the map. We would do well to do the same.

It has been a crazy week for me so I have not posted much on this blog. I do post every day at my other one since it is more devotional and based on my morning Quiet Time and journal. But I do covet your prayers this Sunday.

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.

B-r-r–r-r

Monday, January 21st, 2019

It was 3 degrees this morning when I woke up at 3:30.

3 Degrees!!!

We are supposed to have a barn burner of a day today. The high this afternoon is supposed to be 11. Yes, you read that right. All you in the south. All you out west (specifically Arizona and parts west of that). Don’t you go getting all high and mighty just because you are basking in the 60s, 70s or 80s.

However, I would be willing to trade places for a month or so.

My friend, Dave, lives in Tempe.  This winter he said he was tired of the heat of Arizona so he decided to work from another locale. He is in Maine for 6 months. Somehow I’m thinking I might have picked a better place. But I texted with him yesterday and they got 6″ of snow and he was loving it! Yeah…he’s not right either.  (Tami says that about me a lot).

What made me sad about the winter storm that came through our neck of the woods (although we didn’t get it as bad as they said nor as bad as others) was we had to cancel church services yesterday. In a land of 4 wheel drive trucks and FWD SUV’s we had to cancel for only the second time in 9 years. The other was a deluge of snow which hit early Sunday morning, and after several of our worship team members slid past the entrance, we decided “not a chance.” So we scrambled getting everyone notified. This time we had a system in place and everyone was notified Saturday night.

I hate (strong word) canceling church services. I miss being with people. I miss smiling and laughing with people I love. I miss preaching. What I didn’t miss is the possibility of people trying to make it and having an accident. Owen County is a lot of back roads. One good thing: my sermon for this past Sunday will be preached this week. I also came to the office and redid all my sermons through May. So there was some good to the bad.

Nothing really monumental. Just a chat. Have a great week!

Shameless

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

Shameless plug here. I make no bones about it. I’m not going to call it something else. I’ll call it what it is. 🙂 I wrote the following at my other blog, LivingintheShadow:

Ever since I read Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur in 1993-1995 for the first and second time, I have always been stopped by Psalm 13. There was a scene in the book where Yoma (a wise old man) led Jason (the main character) through this psalm. No matter how many times I read Psalms, I ponder this chapter because it made things so clear to me years ago and still does. Here is how it breaks down:

For the rest of the post and my thoughts please go here:

I would be honored if you would check out my other blog and consider subscribing. See the side bar for a direct link to LivingintheShadow. Thanks.

Shining

Friday, December 28th, 2018

Well…happy after Christmas.  I’m guessing for you several things are true:

  • The Christmas “glow” is over.
  • A new year faces us in a few short days.

There are those who have already taken down their lights or have stopped turning them on at night. Leaving them up because of frigid weather is not an excuse around here lately. I rode 17.6 miles in 40+ degree weather yesterday (Wednesday).  But for most the season is over so why prolong it?

Others hold onto Christmas as long as they can.  I once read of a family who kept Christmas lights burning all the way through March because their son was to return home from the war and they wanted him to be able to celebrate his favorite holiday as though he never missed it.

But whether lights stay up or stay off is not the point my sermon Sunday. One of the beautiful things about the Christmas story is that it doesn’t offer just my past forgiveness and future hope, but everything I need right here, right now. And I’m not talking about My Best Life Now g-a-r-b-a-g-e.  2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” How is it that the people to whom Peter was writing to were immersed in suffering and yet it also says God has given them all they need? I will be trying to answer that question this Sunday.

Along with that I am going to briefly mention the 5 things God has given us the power to break free from:

  1. Fear
  2. Regret
  3. Discouragement
  4. Denial
  5. Desire for control

Peter finishes his thoughts with these words: “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”  Prayers are appreciated as always. And thanks.