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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?

 

Opportunity/Request

Monday, February 18th, 2019

Nothing earth-shattering in this post today. I’d just like to ask you to pray about a unique opportunity I have today. Even if you get this “after the fact” I’d still like to ask you to pray.

I moved to Spencer to pastor Owen Valley Christian Fellowship in November of 2005. I wanted something different…for my life…as a pastor. In some ways I guess you can say I was tired of playing it safe. I had been a pastor for 30+ years and it was time to get out of my comfort zone and to put “feet to my faith.” As time moved on I tried to do that. Some intentional; some not. I dreamed of the church being involved in the community so when a question came asking if we did anything for Thanksgiving, I said, “No, but we will.” So within 3 weeks we started serving a Thanksgiving dinner. From Day 1 it was a success.  If we did something for Thanksgiving why not Christmas? So we started a Christmas breakfast. The traction has been slower but we had a good turnout at the Lions Club (we use their building since it is in town) this past Christmas and also delivered over 60 meals. In time I found myself involved in different organizations in our community. Due to the need to cutback some, I am now involved as a board member of the Owen County Chamber of Commerce. Three years ago they were looking for a venue to host what are called Legislative Breakfasts. One year there are three of them on the 3rd Saturday of January through March; another year there are four of them. This is our third year hosting the meeting.

Through these meetings I have had the opportunity to meet some local politicians who truly care and have a heart for their districts.  One such man is Bob Heaton. He played basketball at Indiana State with some other guy named Larry Bird. Bob is a Christ-follower with a heart for truth and for the people he represents.

Now comes the part where I tell you of my opportunity and request.  NO IT IS NOT RUNNING FOR PUBLIC OFFICE. I would not even consider that in any way, shape or form.  It is something I consider much more important. Bob asked if I would be interested in opening the session at the Indiana House with prayer some day. I said, “Yes” (with a little bit of fear and hesitation).  Lo, and behold, I got a call asking me to open the session of the House on Monday, February 18th at 1:30. So today is the day.

I’d like to ask that you pray for me and that I might have the right words to say. Thanks.

Essentials

Monday, February 11th, 2019

There are two sayings I adopted years ago that to me still stand the test of time:

“In essentials, unity; in opinions, liberty; in all things, love.”

“Where the Bible speaks we speak; where the Bible is silent we are silent.”

These two sayings would take care of a lot of “hills” people are dying on when they don’t need to.

My conclusion: We minor in majors; we major in minors.

Think that through. When it comes to doctrinal issues, there are some non-negotiables (I know that is not word but I still use it), some majors we simply cannot compromise on. The virgin birth of Christ. The divinity of Jesus-that he was fully God and fully man. Popular thought heresy says Jesus was born a man, became divine, but went to the cross as a man. (Can you say Bill Johnson?) The sacrificial, substitutionary, redemptive act of Christ on the cross for our salvation. The physical resurrection of Jesus from the grave. The ultimate return of Jesus to bring an end to life on this planet as we know it. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one. The Bible as God’s authoritative Word, inspired and inerrant. Those (and others not mentioned) are majors and should not be compromised on.

But our religious culture is fast pushing them to the side in order to major in minors.

While I believe homosexual activity is sinful and wrong, I don’t believe it is the unpardonable sin. I also don’t really make a big deal about the creation story. I believe very strongly in “In the Beginning God…”  If the creation of the world was 7 24 hour days or whether “day” was a longer span of time, is not a game-changer to me. “In the beginning God.”  He can do whatever He wants to do in whatever way He want to. But do I think it is a matter of salvation? No, I don’t. While I don’t think we ought to “uncouple” ourselves from the OT as Andy Stanley says we should, I also don’t believe we find our salvation there. The Law was given as a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ, Paul says, so we can’t dismiss it. But I don’t go to the Law or the OT to find my salvation. I find it in Christ, in His story as told in the NT.  That is a major I can’t minor in.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Just be kind. 🙂

 

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.

January??

Monday, January 7th, 2019

If I lived in Arizona as several of my online friends do, what I am about to write would not sound too crazy. If I lived in Florida, where some folks from the church are visiting and some old friends from the church now live, you would not think I sound crazy.

It’s January here in Indiana. January 6th (yesterday) to be exact. You know…the land of cold and ice and snow. Not like Norway, Sweden or even Canada. But the land of cold and ice and snow. (Cue Led Zepplin here)

I rode my bike yesterday. I rode my bike Saturday as well. 14. 5 on Saturday. 17.5 on Sunday. What gives? A bike with snow shoes or ice crampons? A road bike with huge treaded (not a word) tires made for mountain biking? Wrong on both counts.

Weather in the high 40s/low 50s on Saturday. When I started on Sunday my truck thermometer read 60+ degrees.  I was wise. There have been times I have ridden and been under-dressed and shivered my way home.  I recently found out the gloves I bought for winter riding were only good down to about 30. After that…shiver me fingers. They hurt so bad I cut a couple of rides short. But Saturday I worked up a good sweat. Sunday I worked up a good sweat but was also smart in that I packed some liners for my short-fingered gloves and a headband for my ears.  It is crazy how quickly it cools off when the sun goes down.

I enjoyed my two days of decent-weather riding. Makes me long for warm weather riding which is just around the corner. (I’m an optimist).

Some things never change though. Thinking I was okay and forgetting that  in cold or warm weather proper nutrition is a must, I failed to hydrate and eat right when I was done. I paid the price during small group last night when an inner thigh cramp seized my whole upper leg and I had to get up and massage and stretch. Some things never change I guess. You’d think at the age of 66 and after years of riding I’d learn my lesson. Some heads are hard.

If I may, allow me a spiritual application. Learning from our mistakes is essential. Proverbs tells us “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The moment I get hard-hearted or hard-headed, I’m in trouble spiritually. I’m convinced a follower of Christ is never too old (or too young) to learn. I pray I never stop learning. I’d like to stop learning from all the dumb mistakes I make, but you gotta stop making them and that might never happen! 🙂

LeafTurning

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

The new year is about here and there will be a lot of talk about “turning over a new leaf.” I personally hope my life is more exciting than a leaf blowing in the wind.  🙂  Every year I post this video and want to do that again.  It’s one of those “traditions” you know? Besides, I have a much more important one to show later so I want to get the frivolous out of the way.  Click here to see the video.

I have never been one to go over the past year and relive good and bad memories. I came to realize that I couldn’t change what happened so why do that? In some cases it would be like torturing myself and in other cases it might be hard not to gloat or “wish for again.” I believe there are lessons to be learned if I look, but too much reflection can sometimes be detrimental. So I don’t take longing looks at the past.

I also take longing looks at the future. Jesus said in Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” I take that to mean not to worry about tomorrow. Why should I when I can’t change things anyway? I have no control over them. But I know the ONE who does. 2019 is going to happen (unless Jesus returns first) so I can only prepare myself the best way I know how: spiritually.

I’m not a resolution-setter.  (Nor am I an Irish one). 🙂  I basically have one idea: How can I live my life with grace and honor God doing it? After spending two years going through New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp and all of 2018 blogging about it at Be Transformed, my heart and eyes have been opened and softened. The journey was not always easy. It was time-consuming and at times, inconvenient. But daily blogging was a discipline I am glad I did. My next attempt will be called Living in the Shadow and will take the place of Be Transformed in name and content only. It will be hosted on the same site but I do not plan on posting every day. I’m thinking maybe 2-3 days a week. I’ll tell you more when it gets underway.

But I want to close this post and 2018 with a song that has become a favorite and will be my focus for 2019. I hope you will join me in making this a reality.  Click here to listen to the song.

HAVE A SAFE AND ENJOYABLE END TO YOUR 2018 AND  A STELLAR BEGINNING TO YOUR 2019.

Forgotten

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

No one likes to be forgotten. Unless, of course, they have done something wrong.  Then they want to hide and never be found!

But consider the Christmas story. A manger. A baby. A stable. A star. A long ride. A full inn. Mary. Shepherds. An angel (Gabriel). Zechariah. Elizabeth. Wise men. Bethlehem.

There seems to be one forgotten player in this drama. I’m sure you figured it out by now…Joseph. The man made a monumental decision and commitment and we forget him! He loved Mary so much he was willing “not to embarrass her but to divorce her quietly.” Some may think he was ashamed but keep in mind the difference in culture. Besides, you see his real heart come out after he heard the news the child was to be Messiah. Immanuel. Jesus. So he went against all odds; against the culture of his day; against everything his insides told him to do, and took Mary to be his wife.

But that’s it! That’s all we know except for a few side references. He showed his love for Mary and the baby and his  willingness to listen to God by taking them and heading off to Egypt. We see him when Jesus turns 12 and he hunts for him in the Temple.  But after that…ZERO. NADA. COME UP EMPTY.

What a noble man! This morning (Wednesday) during my New Morning Mercies reading, I read Isaiah 48:1-11 as supplemental reading. I was struck by verse 11: “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. (emphasis mine) God refuses to share His glory with anyone else. Not me. Not you. Not the most well-known pastor/preacher/evangelist/author/TV personality, etc. NO ONE ELSE!

So my question is this: can there be anyone more deserving of being noticed for not taking glory than Joseph? But its a catch-22 really. He would not have wanted known. He would have deflected the glory away from himself and toward the one who deserves it. Maybe I ought to take a hint?

There is a Christmas song we sang this past weekend and I have requested again for this coming Sunday’s Christmas Sunday service. It is this one and I can’t hardly think of a song more suited for a topic like this. And I would love to hear your thoughts.

Bucket

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Once a month I read to Mrs. Lee’s Kindergarten class for what is called Real Men Read. There are a number of men in Owen County and Monroe County (and perhaps others) who go into a class to read to kindergarten students. This is my 3rd year now for taking part and I honestly believe that I receive more than the students do. Mrs. Lee does a wonderful job with the children and has them prepared for my visit. After the first year I requested the children wear name tags so I can call them by name. She willingly obliged.

But that is not why I am writing this post…although Mrs. Lee and her assistant deserve a lot of praise. It was the book I just read that I want to write about.

The name of the book was How Full is Your Bucket? It was a delightful book about a young boy named Felix whose grandfather told him that everyone has a bucket.  For every kind word said to them, a drop of water goes into their bucket. For any kind thing they say or do for someone else, water drops into their bucket but also into the one who gives the compliment. It works sort of like the old “change in the pocket” idea.

One day Felix was having a bad day and his bucket was about empty. His sister was not nice. He reached for and dropped a box of cereal. His mother yelled at him. A school bully was mean.  He was wiped out. Then came a class where the teacher praised him for his essay. A drop of water went into his bucket. The class loved his story-laughing and clapping when it was done. More water. Another student said something nice to him. Drop.  Soon Felix was complimenting people and putting water in their bucket, but also in his.  He came home with a full bucket. He even put water in his sister’s bucket by letting her build a tower out of his blocks.

The implications should be easy to see. Just one from me: encouragement goes a long way. Not only do we brighten someone else’s day, but we shine some light on our own. While we are putting drops of water in another’s bucket, we are also adding to our own.

I can attest to that. One of the most thrilling parts of my month is my visit to Mrs. Lee’s class to read. They are fun to interact with (I’m sure they can be pistols as well), and certainly fun to read to. It makes my heart feel good to walk into class and hear, “Hi Mr. Bill!”

How much do you add to someone’s bucket?

Tips#3

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

I’ve been addressing a very touchy subject which really affects those who are struggling with pain and suffering. What sometimes happens is well-meaning people saying stupid ignorant things for various reasons. I’ve been using a book by Dave Furman called Being There as a reference.  You can check out the two previous posts on this subject here and here.  My summary of the first two posts of “Whatever You Do, Don’t Do These Things” is below. For a fuller discussion please check out the links to the previous posts.

#1- Don’t Be the Fix-it Person

#2- Don’t Play the Comparison Game

#3- Don’t Make It Their Identity

#4- Don’t Promise Deliverance Now

#5- Don’t Encourage Them to Just “Move On”

#6- Don’t Bring on the Inquisition.  The last thing a person suffering needs is the 3rd degree. When I was in the ER hallway for 8 hours following my bike wreck, I had some come by to see if I was okay. I was so grateful they didn’t give me or Jo the 3rd degree. Was it a car? Where was it at? Did he go into a ditch? All sorts of scenarios went through peoples’ minds I’m sure, but they were gracious enough and didn’t ask. Since I was somewhat out of it from time to time they were also wise enough not to text my phone.  If you find yourself in a visiting situation, this is not the time to “play Job’s friends” and ask questions like “Was it his/her fault?” If you are at a funeral home, don’t go asking if the person was close to the deceased person. When at a loss for words the best thing to say may be, “I just want you to know I love you and am praying for you.” The Bible says to “Weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.”  So…do you really think I wanted to hear questions?

#7- Don’t Be Hyperspiritual.  I’ve heard this. You have too. Sadly, and to my horror, I’m sure I have even said it.  Can you imagine how insensitive it is to go up to someone who has just lost a baby or a father or a (fill in the blank) and say, “Praise the Lord! They are in heaven!” Or “Praise the Lord no more pain!” It is one thing to agree with the grieving person who might say that, but to offer it? WOW! That is the height of insensitivity. How about the cliches we use: “Look on the bright side.” What bright side? “I’ve just lost someone close to me for crying out loud!” Sorry…better get off my soapbox.  Again, the best thing to do is just be there.

Whew! I am long-winded. I’ll continue this another post. Please feel free to comment and if you think this is helpful please pass it along.

Presence

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

I’m going to be honest…I have no idea where I am going to go with this post. I think you will see why. I do have a point but getting there might be like “going ’round Robin Hood’s barn” as we used to say (back in them old days). 🙂

I’ve been reading Skye Jethani’s book Immeasurable about the soul of Church, Inc. I’ve written two other posts which have flowed out of it. You can read them here and here. But something I read just today really stuck with me and I don’t know what the solution is. Let me explain.

When I was a young pastor I was told visit, visit, visit. I often found myself out every afternoon and many evenings visiting with people from the church. So much so I often neglected my office time and even my family (at night especially).  It wasn’t unusual to be driving by someone’s house and saying, “Oh, I haven’t seen them in a while. I’ll swing in for a few moments.” So I would…whether the spouse was there or not. But as Bob Dylan sang so eloquently: “the times they are a changin’.”  It was no longer kosher (translated: acceptable or safe) to just drop by to see someone, especially if they were a member of the opposite sex. So I found myself tied more and more to my office. Studying. Napping. Reading. Napping. “Counseling” (Can an untrained pastor really do this? But that’s another topic for another time). But even the latter had to be done a certain way. Ryan and I have set a policy that we will not be in the church building; at a meal; in a car; or any setting with a female who is not our wife without someone else in the building or with us.

Then I read this in Skye’s book: “The antidote to popularity-based authority is the quiet power of pastoral presence.” (p.138)  His point in the chapter is many people will listen to someone who is popular (i.e. TV/radio hucksters and some legitimate speakers) before they will listen to their own pastor. It is called platform. And their platform is bigger than most local pastors. Definitely mine. But that raises a huge question: how do I/any pastor do the pastoral presence thing and still be cognizant of the moral perception of others?

What do you think?