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#PowerofOne#Stand!

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020

I was reading during my Quiet Time this morning about the power of one. So I began to ponder it more. Much is said about the difference one person can make-good or bad. Consider some people who made a difference, even though they sometimes stood alone:

  • Patrick Henry- “Give me liberty or give me death!”
  • Henry Ford- He believed in the automobile and wanted to see everyone have one (as long as it was basic black). 🙂  I’m sure glad that changed!
  • MLK, Jr- His “I have a dream” speech has inspired millions of people of all races that equality is possible.
  • Jackie Robinson- Baseball and sports is what it is today largely because of his persistence and talent. When one talks about Jackie you also have to include Branch Rickey, the man who took the chance (in spite of the fact some accuse him of a publicity ploy).  He still took a chance.
  • Martin Luther and other Reformers- “Here I stand. I can do no other.”  What a powerful stand he took against the monster of the Catholic Church.
  • Winston Churchill- he took an unpopular stand-at first- against Nazi Germany. He certainly proved PM Chamberlain wrong.
  • Abe Lincoln- need I say much here?
  • John MacArthur- agree or not he has stood on his conviction and was willing to risk fines and criminal charges.

There is also the other side of the coin-those who stood on the wrong side. Benedict Arnold (the opposite of Patrick Henry). Billy the Kid.  Jesse James and the James Gang (not the motorcycle guy nor the rock group). ANTIFA. Rogue cops. Hollywood elite who cave.

But let’s focus on the ones who make a positive difference-that first list. I’m sure you could add more to that list. Go ahead and do that. We are all called to make a difference. Maybe not in a big way…but to make one where we are. We, as Christ-followers, were never to just put our head in the sand like an ostrich and pretend a challenge is not there. Each challenge we are presented with is specifically designed for us. Our response will determine the outcome. We can take a stand-even if it is alone- or we can go along with the whims of other people.

CHOOSE.  But make sure it is for a righteous cause and has God’s stamp on it.

#ConversionStory#KeepitReal

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020

I’ve just finished reading the three accounts of the conversion of Saul/Paul- Acts 9, Acts 22, and Acts 26.  Paul is efficient in each of them. Consistent in each of them. In other words, he doesn’t embellish, add to or take away a particular thought or action to make a stronger point to his audience. He doesn’t heighten emotion to make a stronger point to his audience. He says nothing more to Agrippa in chapter 26 than he does in his defense before the people in chapter 22.

Some people like to do just the opposite. In an effort to be relevant (whatever that may mean) or to present a more enthralling conversion experience, they embellish their story. I’ve read and heard some whoppers in my days. Mine is simple: I was 8 years old; fell under conviction that is what I must do; went forward on Palm Sunday; and was baptized (with others) on Easter Sunday, April 17, 1960. No big sin. I wasn’t a drug user, a pill-popper, a rebel (except as a sinner against God), a murderer, a rabble-rouser, or an obstinate, extremely disobedient child. I was simply a young boy who realized he was a sinner and wanted to accept Jesus. (I also confess I wanted to take communion but that’s a whole ‘nother story).  🙂  No confetti. No big brass band. No one lining up to hear my stirring story. The only sound heard was angels singing, rejoicing, as Luke 15 says.

Every man’s experience is different. No conversion stories are the same. I did not have a “Damascus Road” experience, but that makes mine no less important or special than someone who is radically saved and tells others. Here is what I think: You tell your story. Tell it truthfully. Who knows who may be listening?


#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?

#FromtheHeart#Observations

Friday, May 29th, 2020

This Sunday is a week of transition on several fronts.

First, we plan to meet in person for the first time in at least two months at 9 and 10:45. We will have some safety recommendations in place and we will expect them to be followed in order for all to feel comfortable.

Second, it is a week of transition from the series on Colossians (which I finished last week) to a new series I am starting next Sunday called Promises, Promises.  In our grand scheme of things Ryan was going to preach this weekend so I could go away while he went away this past weekend. However, his plans changed, but then he let it be known that he did not feel he should preach the first Sunday back to in-person worship.  So I changed my plans to be here in the morning and then leave after our worship for a few days in Ohio.

Ryan paid me a great honor by believing I should preach this first Sunday back. As I was studying for it, I decided he has had as much influence, if not more, during this pandemic mess as me, only in a different way. His shepherding of the kids was out-of-this-world and I felt like I wanted to share the “stage” with him. So I asked him to join me for the morning as we just talk about what we have gone through. I drew up four questions I’d like us to answer:

  • What we observed
  • How we felt
  • How we filled our days
  • What’s on the horizon?

Those bullet points might lead you to believe it is about us. It isn’t. Neither one of us would be comfortable if it was. We are going to be sitting in chairs and just talking to the folks as if we were sitting in their living room.  Please feel free to join us at 10:45. That is the only service which will be live streamed.  You can join our FB page at Owen Valley Christian Fellowship-Spencer, Indiana. Ask to be approved and either Diana or Tami will approve you.  You will then have access to our page 24/7,  as well as the live stream.

In any case, would you please pray for me, Ryan and the church as we prepare for Sunday? Thanks.

#Manipulation#Critique#Toxic

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

I just finished reading When to Walk Away by Gary Thomas, a book I mentioned in my last post about Finding Freedom from Toxic People.  It has been a really good book, one that will take some time digesting and reading over the highlighted thoughts and sections. I want to use one of the thoughts as a springboard for this post.

If you are like me you tire-and I mean really tire-of people accusing us of basically being mean and narrow and bigoted.  You say something they don’t agree with and you can hear it coming from a million miles away: “Aren’t you Christians supposed to forgive? How come you aren’t acting like a Christian?” Or they will say, “You are nothing more than a narrow, bigoted hypocrite.”  To quote Gary:

They don’t really care if we’re acting like a Christian though. They just want us to do what they want us to do, and they’re using our faith as a weapon to manipulate and control. (p.146)

I always find it interesting when someone who does not claim any allegiance to Christ or to Christianity or to Biblical principles tries to lecture us on those very same issues. Do you sense a disconnect here?  People like this are masters at lecturing or deciding for us how we are supposed to act AND YET they make no claim-they even scoff at the idea-of following Christ.  The problem as I see it is that the atheist or the non-conformist or the immoral person wants to spout off their junk, but when someone questions them or stands against them they rear their ugly head in shock and toxicity and shame-throwing. They are masters at lecturing us how we ought to behave and yet are unwilling to listen to the truth because it will go against their carefully crafted lifestyle and belief system.  They aren’t so much interested in me acting like a Christ-follower should as much as they want me and you to do what they want us to do.  Long story short: approve of their lifestyle and belief system and not counter them or make them feel guilty.

My purpose as a follower of Christ is to please God. To bring fame to His Name. To honor Him in all things.  I have to keep in mind my approval by others is not on the table. Don’t allow someone to manipulate you into playing his games by his rules.

#Reflection#Addition#Subtraction

Monday, May 4th, 2020

This morning I was going through some old journals trying to find something I had copied and had used at one time. I finally found it, but in the meantime I ran across something else I had written (circa 2011).  Here is something for you and me to think about as we head into this new week:

Everyday I do something that either adds to or subtracts from another person.

Lie-Stealing truth

Plagiarizing- Stealing credit

Murder- Stealing life

Am I a giver or a taker? And adder or a subtractor?

#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).

#Ashes#Lent

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

I want to start out this post with a confession, something you need to know right up front.

I come from a tradition that does not observe Lent. When I was in high school I would see teachers, and maybe a classmate or two, walk around with this black spot on their forehead. I remember one teacher, Mr. Bano, who had this dark spot on his forehead. I almost…almost…went up to him and said something about having a black smudge on his forehead. But I didn’t. I’m glad because he had been to his Catholic church that morning before school.  I didn’t know.  Strangely, I grew up with a large contingent of Catholic people in my school and I had no clue what was going on.

Fast forward to the early ’70s when I was in Bible college (yeah I’m that old) and I was being taught the “evils” of other beliefs-of denominations, cults (agreed), and other faiths (agreed). We were above the others in that we were not a denomination. (I now say hogwash to that theory). Anyway, I was still not taught the idea of Lent.  I also do not consider myself a part of that particular group any more. And haven’t for multiple years.

It wasn’t until I was here in Spencer that I decided to stop being ignorant of something so widespread.  I found out Lent was (supposedly) a solemn time of religious observance that began on Ash Wednesday until what is called Maundy Thursday.  For more you can read here  or here.  I still have to confess that I am not much into special day observances like Lent. Resurrection Sunday (Easter) and Christmas are different.  What I never grasped was this whole idea of giving up something for 40 days for what? One year I tried it. I gave up caffeine pop. The day it was over I had my Diet Dr. Pepper. What did it accomplish? Ummmm nothing, except I didn’t drink caffeine pop.  One year I gave up chips. That wasn’t so big of a deal. At one point I had given up fries and chips for 7 years for my health. I am now into month 15 of giving up pop (soda to some of you).  I can’t say it is a spiritual thing because it is not. It has been a health thing. I’ve been drinking water with extra lemons at restaurants (it does make the bill cheaper), but like I said there is no spiritual significance attached to it.  I don’t drink coffee at all. Can’t stand the taste of it. We are a coffee-less family, except for one member of our extended family.

All that to say (finally! you must be thinking) that I am challenging myself during this Lenten season. Not to give up something, but to add something. As much as I can, I am going to challenge myself to blog some type of Lenten thought here on this blog. I also have to say there might be some cross-pollination between this blog and my “Shadow” blog.  That nature of the beast requires some “shortcuts” along the way. I will also tell you that I will be using John Piper’s excellent little book, The Passion of Jesus Christ, as a way to “seed” my thoughts. I have read it twice before (I have the colored underlines to prove it) but it has been a couple of years since I have. I’ll give credit where credit is due.

I hope you will join me as I try this self-imposed challenge.  In fact, if you would like to get “meaty” with me and take up the challenge on your own blog, then I welcome it and will link to your post as well.