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Satisfaction

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

There are a lot of things which bring us satisfaction. Some are not worth it; some are. Some are temporary; some are eternal. Some eat us alive; some give us life. As I see it, satisfaction can largely depend on your motives and expected results.

This past Thursday I was satisfied. In case you were born under a rock, Thursday was Thanksgiving Day. You know…eat till you drop. Eat till your buttons pop. Eat till you vow you will not eat again all day. Okay, at least until your next meal at another relative’s house or during the game (if you watch them).

Thursday for us was an absolutely beautiful day. The past few years it has been so frigid we had popsicles come inside after standing outside with a sign announcing our Thanksgiving Lunch for the community. But not this year! It turned out to be in the 50s and sunny.  It was a great day for a bike ride…I mean…a Thanksgiving lunch.  My day started early with my Quiet Time of Thanksgiving to the God who blesses me more than I deserve. Jo & I made our way to the local Lion’s Club where we hold the lunch. We started there when we didn’t have a building of our own and now that our building is sort of outside of town, we still use the LC for accessibility. We had a local lady who wanted to make pies for us so we arrived early to meet her. Sarah made 5 pies and some sugar cookies. Good thing I’m not a pumpkin, apple cinnamon, or pecan pie eater!  🙂  Eventually, others started arriving and preparations were underway.

I’m in charge of deliveries. I don’ t make them. I have men and women who do. So once people start coming I start humming. We have it down to a system now which works pretty well. And I had plenty of people who were more than eager to help in delivering the meals to whatever address I gave them, even some which were a 20-25 minute drive.

I know you don’t particularly want to hear those kinds of things. If you are like me you are saying, “Get with the program Bill! How many meals did you deliver? How many people did you serve in house?” I’m glad you and I think alike. Last year we delivered about 50 meals and served 15-20 in house. This year we blew the doors off both those numbers.

We delivered over 70 meals (not counting all the leftovers we took to the EMT’s).

We served over 30 meals to people who just wanted to come in and sit down to a Thanksgiving meal.

Now you can see why I am satisfied. Contented. Fulfilled. We helped a lot of people that day. We expect nothing back from them. But we are the ones who benefit by giving. I think Jesus was onto something when He said “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”  🙂  I know, in spite of how tired I was after all the lifting and carting before and after, there was a sense of A-a-a-a-a-a-h inside.

Two things hit me:

  1. We are going to turn right around and do a Christmas breakfast from 7-9:00 on Christmas morning.
  2. Neither Jo nor I brought any turkey or dressing or anything home.  I didn’t need the turkey to induce a nap. It just happened.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving Day. I sure did.

Difference

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

We often hear people talking about “making a difference.” Their desire to make a difference will have one of two affects. One, they will think about it; stew over it; lament over the state of things; cry over it; even speak about it; but do nothing about it!

There are also those who want to make a difference and it will change them. No longer satisfied to sit on the sidelines, they will become advocates and fight for something.

That is not a political statement. I despise politics-government, home, church, sports, and anywhere else where there are people who think they can throw their weight around and get what think is theirs. Even if it means lying, cheating, slandering, gossiping, and a host of other ugly things.

Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25 was not a political statement. Sheep on the right; goats on the left. Nope, not a political statement whatsoever. But it was a statement pertaining to following Jesus by caring for others. You have seen them: the hungry, naked, thirsty, lonely, in prison, homeless.  Making a difference in their lives is what Jesus is talking about. I asked a question Sunday: How do I make a difference?  How do I show compassion? I answered it this way:

Allow our heart to break.  Someone once said, “Break my heart with the things that break the heart of God.”  Melinda Gates, Bill’s wife, once said, “If you want to make a difference, you have to let your heart break.”

Ask God for a mission. Many missions are started because of personal experience. I’ve dreamed for years of opening a home for abused or “lost” woman. Our little community does not have the sex trafficking issue a big city does (at least that I know of) but alcohol and opioids have played havoc with families. Seems like daily I read of another bust or broken home and children finding their way to DCS. Scary thought that.

Making a difference starts with me. With you. And one person at a time. But we have to start.

Reflections

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

This past weekend OVCF, the church I pastor, celebrated its 14th anniversary. OVCF was started when some people, who attended another church in town, were tired of “doing church” as they always have. It was birthed sometime in October of 2004.  Jo & I came in November of 2005.  I have been asked if I started/planted the church. I tell them No, but I sure feel like I did. They had not had a pastor for close to 9 months (he had only stayed about 3 before he felt he needed to move on); had no Mission or Vision to operate by; and did not have a lot of things in place. What they did have were some people eager to learn and serve.

I inherited both. We had a rough patch in 2009 caused by various reasons, but other than that, it has been a fun church to pastor.  In the first quarter of 2017 I watched several families choose to go elsewhere. One because of a move away from our area. They were dear friends of me and Jo and still are. I miss Ryan and his family.  One was because they were seeking the kind of “religious experience and high” we did not offer. They chose to put their stock in the NAR and some other questionable teachings.  Since then 2017-2018 has been up and down as we have tried to find our “wings.” Every church goes through those times. I’m a lot more patient and understanding of those times than I used to be. I figure God is in control and not me so there isn’t much I can do except continue to love and serve Him and the people He has given me to pastor.

With that being said, Sunday was a wonderful day of celebration and thanksgiving to God for what He has done! We had a great service (you can listen on podcast if you care to).  I’d be honored if you would take a moment to listen. We had tons-and I mean tons-of food! The Owen Country Chamber of Commerce came and did a ribbon cutting for our new youth addition. We had a meaningful dedication and then said a very weary “see you later” to the folks.  At the end of this post are 4 pictures of some of the changes made as a result of our addition. The first two are Before and After in our hallway. The Before is really not a true picture since I remembered to take the picture after the walls had been done. They had been covered in canvas. The next is a view of our new nursery with a door for access to a soon-to-be-finished playground for the little ones. The final one is the new security check-in for our youth addition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a good day.  I appreciate each one of you who prayed.

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?

Discipline

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

Discipline. I didn’t like it as a child; I don’t like it as an adult. Even though I know why and understand it better, that does not mean I like it any better. Hebrews is very clear as to why God disciplines us: “…but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness, for the moment all discipline seems painful than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

For the rest of my thoughts on this topic, please check out my other blog here.

You might be thinking, “Boy. Bill sure took the easy way out today.” Well…yes and no. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is Braden’s (our grandson) 12th birthday. Since we are unable to get there, but more importantly we would barely get to see him due to football practice tomorrow night and school on Thursday, we couldn’t see much sense in driving 4 hours for an hour peek at him. But he is off school on Friday so we plan to leave Thursday and spend the whole day with him on Friday then return Saturday morning.

So with the short week and a very busy 3 days, my priorities have to shift some to getting things done among the visits I have with various people Monday through Wednesday. My plan is to post one more time this week (the weekend) and then hopefully find my life back to normal…whatever that is. 🙂

Have a great rest of the week!

GetEven

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

Okay…so I posted a picture of my office on Monday morning after the young people were done.  You can see it here.  

So when Ryan got here on Monday morning he found his office covered in green balloons. Balloons under his desk and on his desk chair…which he did not see until he got into his office.  I may or may not have done that. I’m not telling. 🙂

Diana took Monday off because her son was married on Saturday (and no she was not in mourning). In actuality, not only was she tired from the affairs of the wedding, she and Jim celebrated their 29th anniversary on Sunday so I told her to take Monday off. When she got here Tuesday morning someone (but I won’t mention Ryan’s name) took the balloons and put them in her office. I should have gotten a picture but failed to. Diana should have been mature enough to stop it but no-o-o-o-o-o-o. What can you expect from a 40 something year old lady?

I got back from a bike ride on Tuesday (I treated myself for my birthday) and I came back to this:

Children! She actually took some time to do this because when I may or may not taken the balloons to Ryan’s office, they may have wanted to cling to whomever did the dastardly deed.  So I did what any mature individual would do the next morning…no I didn’t take them back to Ryan’s office…I took my knife and busted all 25 of them. Such maturity and restraint shown don’t you think? However, it was a pain to clean up all the balloon pieces which flew everywhere.

But there is something good here. Since you are here I’ll take you on a partial tour of my office. At the very top are two puzzles of Titanic I had framed, and display of Titanic books. To the left is my set of the ESV Reader’s Bible. Above that is a canvas sign given by Janna which says, “Life is an Adventure…Enjoy the Ride.”  To the right of it and hidden by something is a picture from several years ago of Braden, me and Optimus Prime we had taken at Pigeon Forge. Just above my desk chair is a card from Jo which she gave me on Valentine’s Day (one of my favorites from her) and to the right of that is a card I put into a frame of George Bailey and his family with “Bill Grandi…the Richest Man in Town” inscribed on it.  To the right are some tricks of my trade: books, Study Bibles, and some note cards. On top is a display of bicycles people have given me.

So much for the tour. I could show you the rest of my office but I don’t have those pictures. 🙂

And in case you read the previous post: Ryan did not inspire the young people to decorate my office with balloons. I got the confession out of Hope. She’s a lousy liar so I simply had to ask and all she said was, “I may or may not have.” Guilty!!

Today is Thursday as I write this. I am finally finding time to do this. Hope your week has been a good one and filled with mischief, good things, laughable moments, (fill in the blank).

Tips

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Not restaurant tips but helpful tips. Further explanation: I just finished a book by David Furman entitled Being There. David lives with a chronic nerve disease so he was passing along what it was like and also how we as friends and followers of Christ can just “be there” for people. One chapter was titled Whatever You Do, Don’t Do These Things.  He gave a list of 10 infamous things to remember when trying to help/minister to those who are hurting.

He introduces the tips with a story. I’ll abbreviate it. Two pilots were landing in a small city and accidentally touched down at a much smaller private airport seven miles away from their intended destination. They barely survived a crash landing. During their approach they were in touch with the control tower and were told they were 15 miles away from their target.  They responded they had their target in sight and were going to land.

Upon landing they had to stomp on their brakes extra hard to avoid going over a ledge, and nearly crashed the plane. They admitted to being shocked at their mistake and told investigators that they saw the lights of the airport in front of them and so they landed there. They honestly thought it was the right airport!

How crazy is that story? But it lends itself to what David is about to tell us.  It doesn’t matter how sincere you are if you are landing in the wrong place. We can be really sincere in trying to help people but saying and doing the wrong thing can be (or should I say “is?”) bad. It can be devastating to the hurting person. Okay…so what are his 10 “laws?” I’m going to split the 10 into 2 posts so as not to overwhelm or go too long.

#1. Don’t be the Fix-it Person.  Don’t be the person who offers unsolicited advice or unsolicited medical “miracles” to the person who is hurting. Don’t you think they have tried about everything already? I’m sure if they are seeking to be free from the chronic pain they have gone to a ton of doctors and have probably tried every homegrown recipe there is. Instead of advice, ask questions to understand them and their situation better.

#2. Don’t Play the Comparison Game.  When you talk to people don’t try to compare their sickness, pain, illness to yours or someone else. Your occasional gout flare-up is nothing like the pain from chemo. Your granny’s (from your third cousin removed) illness is not the same. Don’t compare the person with yours or anyone else.  Above all…don’t start with “At least”…they are better off or something cockeyed like that.

#3.  Don’t Make it Their Identity.  In other words, every time you see or talk to that person don’t ask them about their illness or their bank account or whatever it is that has them in pain. Don’t make that their identity. In fact, sometimes it is best just not to bring it up. Maybe a slight mention when it arises but stay away from identifying them with the illness or pain.

Okay…I’m going to stop there. This is getting way too long. I’ll continue with the next post. Hope these help.

Disappointment

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

We all have our share of disappointments. Some have more than others and they run the gamut of examples.

Disappointment for a grade lower than I thought.

Disappointment for being passed over for a promotion.

Disappointment in losing the big game.

Disappointment in one of our children making wrong choices (although we don’t stop loving them).

The list goes on and on. I’m guessing there is a different disappointment for every person who might read this.

So when I write about my disappointment it might seem sort of silly. Juvenile. Frivolous even. So be it. We just had some folks come back from Disney World (Florida).  I can guarantee they would have been disappointed if their trip, planned for close to 6 months and costing them some hard-earned money, was not all they had hoped. Fortunately, it was and their three children can attest to that. When you work and plan and work and plan then work the plan and it is not what you thought disappointment is sure to set in.

I’m disappointed. The MS ride I had planned for; raised money for ($800 thank you everyone); trained for and have been looking forward to was canceled. There was a good reason, obviously, or they wouldn’t have canceled it. It is called M-O-N-S-O-O-N. That’s right…a monsoon. I know. I know. Indiana doesn’t have them. Oh yes we do! Especially when Hurricane Gordon decides to send his remnants to the Midwest.  It started raining Thursday night/Friday morning sometime  and eventually developed into that monsoon I spoke about. By the time Jo & I had driven to Indy; picked up Dave (who flew in from Arizona); and made it to the MS kick-off site, they had already canceled it. Friday. The ride was Saturday. Disappointed yes. Wise decision? Most definitely. It would have been totally stupid to ride in the driving rain and on the slick roads. We received somewhere (I heard) between 5-12″ of rain.  I don’t know. What I do know is it was wise to cancel. Not only does the pavement get slick, the lines get like ice. There was a potential for devastating wrecks.  And trust me when i say riding in the rain in wet cycling clothes is no picnic. In fact, it just might give new meaning to “Ride from (you know where).”

So…for all of you who gave toward my ride. Thanks. The money still went to the MS Society. For all of those who prayed for a safe ride. Thanks. It was better being safe than sorry.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though. Sun too. 🙂 Dave has asked me to come to Arizona to ride in the MS ride that takes place in Phoenix this coming March. If we can swing it, I plan to do that.

I’m a firm believer there is a purpose and meaning in all of God’s workings. One of these days I’m sure I will see His reason for this disappointment.

 

Test

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

Although I don’t subscribe to everything in his books, my favorite of the ones he wrote was Wild at Heart. I’m speaking of John Eldredge and what became his seminal book. He had a statement that became a mantra for many men, me included, for a long time.

Every man has a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.

The beauty to rescue is easy for me. It is Jo.  She is my #1 priority.

It is the other 2/3 of that equation which is my challenge.

I fight a daily battle with sin. Since I live on Planet Earth; I am a man i.e human; I am a sinner. True…a sinner saved by the merciful and powerful grace of Jesus, but a sinner nonetheless. I will battle my flesh til the day I breathe my last breath. (I don’t believe in sinless perfection here on earth).  Ephesians 6 is clear that my battle is “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (6:12 ESV).

Every man has an adventure to live. It is easy to settle in. No excitement. No adventure. No challenge. While I love what I do as a pastor, I also realize there is “another part of me” that wants a challenge. I know not all men feel this way. Some are content…way content. I am content to a point. I love Jo. I love my girls, son-in-law and grandson. I love my brothers and their families. But those don’t count in the contentment scale.  Neither does loving what I do.  Some men hunt. Some fish. Some build things. Some snow or water ski. Some play competitive basketball or another sport. Me? I cycle. I love the challenge of climbing a hill (even if it is super slow). I love sweating. I love the euphoria of coming down a hill much faster than I went up. I love the tired feeling when I am done. It is a good tired.  I love it when my legs are toast after a ride and “toasty” for the rest of the day.

Maybe that is why I am challenging myself with the MS150 this coming Saturday. But I do know it was the reason I got up early to have my Quiet Time on Monday (a holiday) before I headed for Linton, IN on my bike. It was 15 miles of hill after hill. Then it got flat about 1/2 way through, but the 9 mph wind was against me for the next 15 miles.  It was a test. A challenge I wanted to take. Jo stayed with me as she followed me in my truck. And if the truth be known…it was for her too. I wanted her to be proud of me (it’s a man thing trust me).

I finished the 30.9 miles in 2:15. The heat index had climbed to 85+ by then (10:30) so I called it a day. I do have some sense about me still. 🙂 🙂  In my head, I passed the test. And yes…I was proud of that. We did go out to eat and then I took a nap in the afternoon. On purpose.  But it was good.  I could wax spiritual about all of this. But why? I found out something about myself…and the God to whom I prayed for strength. We did it.

YES…WE DID IT!

Advice

Friday, August 31st, 2018

Several thoughts go through my head concerning advice. It is warranted? Is it kind? Harsh? Does it come from someone who cares about me? Is it solicited or unsolicited?

It’s not always easy listening to someone else, whether they have our good in mind or not. None of us like to be someone’s verbal punching bag.  Admittedly, the hardest advice to take is that which is corrective. The passage of Scripture I’m speaking about this Sunday is one of those: Proverbs 6:1-15. I’ve titled it Pull Up a Chair because I want it to be like we are asking someone to come sit with us for a spell and chat.

There is so much practical advice in this passage of Scripture!  Here is how I’m approaching it:

Don’t get entangled.  (Verses 1-5)  Some very practical advice tangled up in things we need to avoid. In particular, co-signing on a loan. There is a lot to say about getting ourselves tangled up.

Don’t be lazy. (Verses 6-11)  No one wants to be compared to a slug let alone be called one! Laziness is something to avoid.

Don’t be divisive. (Verses 12-15).  There is no doubt we get our fair share of snakes in the grass. Divisive people are charming on the outside but snakes on the inside. We are being warned against them.

These are all common everyday issues. Solomon gives some very wise advice. I’m praying I share it with loving candor, sort of like pulling up a chair and having a heart-to-heart chat.  Your prayers would be appreciated.