Story

...now browsing by category

 

#Different#WildandWooly#AllOkay

Monday, June 17th, 2019

If you read my post June 16-Weekend Extra from my other blog, you will know the general basis for this post.  Saturday afternoon and evening we had storms rumble through our area. Okay so they did more than just rumble. Some touched down. Yeah, we were “blessed” with the presence of tornadoes. The town proper of Spencer was spared but some of the outlying areas were not so fortunate. A little town a few miles southwest of Spencer called Freedom had a tornado touch down but fortunately it was not deadly. Downed power lines and mangled trees was about all I think. Several others touched down as well. One did some major damage to some barns and houses and a power substation (REMC). The substation which supplies power to the church building. Our house provider is Duke Energy and they had our power back on around 3:00 am Sunday morning.

The church building was another story. When I got there yesterday (Sunday) at 3:45 it was pitch black. I am writing this at 5:25 am on Monday and as far as I know it it is still pitch black. I’m at home so I have power. I’ll check it when I am done working on my sermon. But my purpose of this post is to tell you about our Sunday worship.

OVCF and its leaders have always “prided” themselves in their ability to adapt. Now, as I say that, I am not referring to the attractional church idea of adapting to culture. We have tried to stay “fluid” in our thinking about ways to do things. That was on full display yesterday. I contacted a few folks (Youth pastor, secretary, and Worship Team leaders) and told them about not having any power and can we do an Unplugged service. EVERYTHING, and I mean everything, was unplugged. No lights. No A/C. No plugged in instruments. No cordless mic to speak with. No fans. Well…you get the idea. Diana, the church secretary, sent out a mass email and posted it on the church’s FB page about the time change: one service at 10:45 instead of two (9 and 10:45). Then we waited and wondered if anyone would show up. Over 100 people showed up! Some had lost power for a short period of time. Some had lost it for most of the night. Some still had none. But they came.  We opened blinds for light. The front doors were left open. We put some lanterns in the bathrooms. We did the same in the children’s wing. Those teachers and kids were troopers. We sang. We had communion. We gave. I preached (the weak link in the whole morning). We prayed. We laughed (especially when someone’s phone went off with an emergency signal for flash flooding).  I referenced believers in other countries who meet like this every week due to economics or due to government interference.

It was a good day. I was proud of the folks who make up OVCF. I am honored to be their pastor.  I thank them for their willingness to adapt (in a good way). And I thank God for showing us we don’t bells and whistles to worship Him. All we need are hearts open to Him and willing to meet Him anywhere, anytime, and in any circumstance.

#Stand!#Don’tBowDown!

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

With traveling to PA and then to Ohio my week definitely got away from me as did posting about Sunday’s sermon. Let me put it this way: I started a new series last week that will go through the whole summer. I am calling it Heroes. The first one last week was from Daniel 1. If you read that chapter you know it is the story of Daniel and his 3 friends: Rack, Shack and Benny (as Veggie Tales puts it).  It was titled Cooperation without Compromise. Daniel and his 3 friends had the choice all of us have when confronted by a “test.”

  1. The first option is Absorption. This person basically is absorbed and assimilated into the culture.
  2. The second option is Withdrawal. This is commonly seen in cults and, in the days of the early church, the Essenes. We see this now in the Amish people who believe withdrawal is the best way to avoid evil. (Have I got news for them!)
  3. The third is Cooperation without Compromise. This is the Daniel way. I’d like to encourage you to read Daniel 1 to find out how that happens.

This week’s sermon is called We Won’t Bow Down! Bet you can’t guess what that story is about!! 🙂  If you guessed Daniel’s three friends give yourself a virtual high-five. Daniel 3 is where the story is.  I’m not going to say much more about it here except this- Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego made a choice not to bow down to the image. They were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace when they were given one last chance to change their minds. I love their words: “We believe our God will deliver us but even if not we will not bow down!” WOW!!

So Sunday I’m going to take that very familiar story and try to breathe some life into it so that we can all walk away, especially the dads, with a resolve to stand not bow. Your prayers would be appreciated. Thanks.

#Goodman#Worthemulating

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

I was in the presence of a good man last night. I might even venture to say a great man.  My Uncle Bob is the last of the family. My grandparents had 3 natural children and adopted one. My mother was one of those natural children, and my uncles Bill and Bob were the other two. My mother and my Uncle Bill have both moved on to their heavenly home. Both victims of cancer.

My Uncle Bob will be 83 in August. My Aunt Dee will be 82. They live in Arlington, TX and have for as long as I can remember. They have also lived in the Azores, Okinawa, Grissom AF base, and places I can’t remember. He served 31 years in the Air Force and after he retired he served as a postal carrier for 11 years. His knee finally let him down and like his dad before him and his nephew (that would be me) after him, a knee replacement had to happen. Two of his children live near them and one lives in Utah.  The last time we saw them was back around 2011 when they had made a trip to the Northeast (New Hampshire) to see Aunt Dee’s family and then they swung down through to see me and Jo. They were on their way back home when he called Monday night and asked if we could meet up for supper.

Sounds normal doesn’t it?  What is so special about that you may be asking. You see…Aunt Dee has Alzheimers. She started it about the time they came by in 2011. She cannot speak or tell you what is on her mind in any way, shape, or form.  All she does is mumble with an occasional strong-willed sound (like when I tried to help her drink and she wanted to do it herself).  They will soon be married 59 years this year. He takes care of her 24/7. Each morning he gets her up and they go to the mall to walk (he pushes her in a wheelchair).  He feeds her, bathes her, helps her do all that needs to be done. But you know what he really does? HE LOVES HER WELL. We ate at Cheddars last night with them and spent one of the most delightful evenings in memory. We laughed. Reminisced. Talked about family. (My dad was never keen on family so being a close knit one with mom’s was never a priority so we lost touch with cousins long time ago).  Oh yeah, did I say we laughed a lot? It was getting to be 8:30 when we finally said our “Goodbye’s.” He needed to get Aunt Dee to bed so they could get up and make the long trek back to TX.

He has been through a lot watching his bride deteriorate as she has. Screaming all night long. Unable to speak or communicate her love for him. But watching him lovingly rub her shoulder or labor to get her from her chair to the van was proof of something Jo said earlier in the evening: “In sickness and in health. For better or for worse.”  He was a living embodiment of that commitment.

Thank you Uncle Bob for a real live example of someone who loves well. For all time. No matter the situation.

#ReadThis

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

We are so different…she and I.

I’m white. She is not.

I’m a man. She is not.

I’m tall. She is not.

I have no hair. She has tons of it. 🙂

I like rock music. I’m guessing she does not.

I’m a lifetime heterosexual. She was a lesbian.

I write for fun. She writes for her livelihood.

But one thing we have in common. We both believe in the power of redemption that comes from the Cross of Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on that cross.

Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been

I have to admit my first thought about reading this book since its release several months ago was I don’t want to read or hear of another “I-was-born-this-way-so-don’t-ask-me-to-change” book.  But after reading review after review I decided to take the plunge and buy it. Then I had to read it after a few weeks on my shelf. (In fairness, I was reading another book at the time).

I. AM. SO. GLAD. I. READ. THIS. BOOK!! I would highly recommend it to everyone. JHP’s way of saying things shows her “wordsmith” talents. I don’t need to be a fan of her style of poetry or music to like the way she says things in this book. Straight-forward.  Non-compromising in her stance. Honest in her discussion of her past (molestation, abuse, drug use and lesbianism). I was impressed when on page 37 she said, “It is important to note that sexual abuse is not what made me gay. Nor did fatherlessness. They only exaggerated and helped direct the path for what was already there-which is sin.”  No blame. No “I was born gay.” Just a note at the bottom of the page stating sin was the culprit. Thank you JHP for that truth.

I tire of those who hate gays. No…make that I distance myself from them. I don’t hate gays; I just don’t believe their lifestyle choice is biblical. I firmly believe same sex action is sin. But hating the person is not Christ-like nor is it ever going to reach someone with the message of the love of Christ.  Just the exact opposite.  Our little community has a very vocal homosexual community. It boasts of having one of the best attended PRIDE festivals in the state, maybe the country. Tolerance they ask for only goes so far until you disagree with them. Recent vandalism against their property was uncalled for. But they are still people. Still people like thousands of others in our community and around the world who need Jesus.  Thanks to JHP’s book, I not only have a better attitude toward them, but I also have a book I can put in their inquiring minds and hands that will show them Jesus’ love.

My plan is to include some of her quotes in another post since this one has already gone on so long. I’d like to think you will look forward to that post. 🙂

I’d highly suggest you buy and read this book. Then pray for opportunities to pass it along or to put it into practice.

#ILied

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

Yeah…I lied. Well, not on purpose. It’s funny what a pastor will do when God steps in and stops him from doing what he had worked so hard to do.

Yeah…that be me. And God.

Saturday morning I was studying for my sermon when I “heard” this voice say, “Hey Bill! put that aside. I have something else for you to do.”

“Say what?”

“Yeah. I want you to put that prepared sermon aside and I want to preach on something else.”

“God, is this you? Am I hearing you correctly?’

“Yes, it’s Me. And yes, you are hearing me correctly. I want you to preach on something else. I had you read and blog about David, Nabal and Abigail on Friday for a reason. Now I want you to put it to use.”

“And how so?”

“I want you to preach what I tell you to preach on Sunday. I don’t want you to focus on mothers but on women in all stages of life. ”

So I did. I called the sermon A Wise Woman and used I Samuel 25 as my Scripture. Shortly after the sermon is done you can find it on the church’s website and listen to the podcast.  I hope you find it challenging and good for your heart, especially if you are a woman.

As for the sermon on Suffering from Romans 8: 18-27? Stay tuned next week for it.  There was an old commerical: “When EF Hutton speaks everybody listens.” Well…when God speaks Bill has to listen.

#GoodFeeling

Monday, May 6th, 2019

I don’t know about you but seldom does a good feeling or contentment hit like it does when I have done something for someone else. But this post is not about me; it is about others.

Ever since 2009, the church I pastor (OVCF) has been having what I call a Day of Service (DoS). We started simple with one in the Fall of 2009. The church was struggling. We had gone through an ugly staff dismissal. We had seen our youth group drop like a rock due to kids graduating and going to college. We had experienced what every church hates: a small group use their time together to kick someone in the teeth (that would be me). I chose not to respond and we lost that whole group except for the elder and his wife who chose to stand up for me. Our attendance had fallen from close to 200 to about 120-130. I chose to challenge our people to take our eyes of ourselves and reach out. We had a phenomenal day.

Ever since then we have chosen to a DoS to people in our community. We expanded by asking another church to join us. Except for a few minor doctrinal points (they are Calvinists and I am not), we get along well. They also wanted to do something so we joined forces. We expanded the DoS to twice a year (Spring and Fall) with an emphasis on different projects. The Spring projects are larger involving small businesses like Horse Angels (a horse rescue place), Humane Society, a rescue dog kennel, as well local people who need help. In the Fall we change oil for those who need it free of charge. We also do the bulk of our local work for the people during this DoS.  Last year in the Spring we invited the Chamber of Commerce to join us. They also helped with the Fall event and then this Spring’s event.

That event was yesterday (Sunday). We were a bit more energetic in our approach. Our list included Horse Angels, the Cunningham dog rescue kennels; Humane Society, MyPath (a local effort to get a walking path going), Uplands Peak (a vegan farm animal rescue work); Roadside clean up; Spencer lawn and home help; and Gosport (a local town) clean-up.  We had some good cooperation from both churches and the Chamber. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, especially considering we have had nothing but rain the past year. (Okay slight exaggeration but close).  🙂

I was really proud of the 40+ people who represented OVCF during that 3 hour period. I drove around and they were working hard. Cleaning out dog pens. Mucking long overdue horse stall (and yes, the smell was as bad as you can imagine). Helping mulch. Entertain animals. Clean up litter from the side of roads. (Why can’t people throw things away, but not outside?).

All in all it was a good day. Thanks to all who helped make this a good DoS. And most of all, I pray Jesus was glorified.

#Poppingbuttons

Sunday, April 28th, 2019

Last week Jo and I took off on Tuesday morning for Ohio. We had received word from our daughter, Janna, that our favorite grandson was going to be receiving an award but that neither she nor Jason were going to be able to go. So we begrudgingly drove over to be at his award ceremony.  The catcher of this is that he did not know so we simply told him we wanted to see them all…which was true! We just didn’t tell him the whole story.  Tuesday night we all went out to Texas Roadhouse, which is typical when we do go.  He didn’t know we were celebrating him.

Anyway, the next morning we made our way to his school, signed in, got our visitor tag and sat and waited. He did not know we were there until I had to scratch my head and he saw the movement. So I smiled, wiggled my fingers underneath my chin, and watched him smirk.

Here is his award:

We were so proud of him, hence the #poppingbuttons title. He was excited about receiving it (can’t you tell?).

He may have not been too excited about receiving the award but we were!!  Here are two more pictures from his award day. One when his principle was taking his picture and let me horn in on it and the other with his mamaw (and yes, he is getting taller and getting close to her).  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a whirlwind trip. We came back Wednesday right after the ceremony. But it was well worth it.  Now you know what we did for two days last week. I love this boy…er soon-to-be-teenager…er young man. And he really is my favorite grandson!

Victory!

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

Some of the thoughts I plan to share Sunday:

Sooner or later death comes. The statistics are staggering: 1/1!!

Science has done nothing to deal with death. It may be prolonging life in some cases. It has definitely helped alleviate pain. But it hasn’t solved the problem of death.

Death is our enemy. But to followers of Jesus death is a stepping stone to something much better.

Jesus abolished death. His resurrection which we celebrate today conquered it. It is because of the cross where forgiveness of sins was paid for, and because of the resurrection where victory was won, that we have and can talk about hope today.

Praying you have a great Resurrection Sunday!

PrayersAppreciated

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

The next two days will be days of an intense need for prayer.  I wrote on my other blog, Living in the Shadow, about the ordeal of this past weekend culminating in the death of a friend early Monday morning. You can read about it here.  The need for prayer is this afternoon is 4 hours of visitation and tomorrow another hour of visitation leading up the celebration service. My real concern is not so much me as it is the family. Misty was a hub in that family.

This is one of those times which is hard to understand. About a month ago I performed the funeral of a 70+ year old lady who had suffered from Parkinson’s for about 10 years.  But what to think of a young woman (the age of my daughter) struck down with cancer leaving behind two teenagers and a husband who adored her?  She fought bravely over the past year after being diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.  She promised her family she would fight, and fight she did. Even several weeks ago when I was called to the hospital and they were expecting her to go after suffering a brain bleed that affected her speech for a few days, she was flanked by her children and told them, “I’m still fighting.” She fought on until she could not go anymore. After just a few days in the Hospice Care Center, she lost her battle…BUT WON.

Death is not a thing of beauty. The Bible calls it an enemy. Its power is legendary since the odds are 1/1 in its favor. Nevertheless a statement made in I Corinthians 15 tells us the real truth: “He must reign until He has put death under His feet.” (verse 26-27)  All science has done has possibly prolonged death in some cases, but it has and never will solve death.  Sooner or later death comes, but it is not the end. For the follower of Christ, it is just the beginning.  The beginning to so much more.  Saturday morning I was asked to come the Hospice House so Jo went with me. She loved Misty as well. Jeremy, her husband, was playing different songs she loved.  He chose LeAnn Womack’s song from a few years ago “I Hope You Dance” and then followed up with “I Can Only Imagine.” WOW! If that doesn’t tell a story!!

Today Misty is dancing in heaven. She is seeing and feeling better than she has in a year since her intense battle began. I’m going to miss her. I’m also jealous. But someday that will be me and for the first time in my life I will be dancing and singing on key. 🙂

Prayers are appreciated for all involved in today’s and tomorrow’s ordeal. Thanks. And one more thing, how about checking out Lisa’s post about her experience she just went through.  It is called “After Death, More Life.”

Effectiveness#3

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

This is my last post on the idea of Effectiveness as the church’s moniker and guiding principle. I’d encourage you to read Effectiveness #1 & #2 to see what my stream of thought has been.

Skye minces no words when we says,

We have replaced the love of the living God with sacrifices to the Idol of Effectiveness. When we bow to this idol, it steals our joy and replaces it with an unbearable burden. (P.24)

Because I was enamored with Church, Inc for awhile, I not only agree but also have to add something else. When I was pursuing this false idol the words which came out of my mouth quite a bit were “Excellence,” “Relevant,” ‘Impactful,” and others. All things were to be done with excellence and if not, I was embarrassed. Relevance is still around today. I dress casual but trust me when I say I DON’T wear the latest fashions (including $1000 shoes); sport a sleeve of tattoos (not that it is immoral but I just choose not to); nor do I globe trot the country because I have the latest “hot” thing. I prefer my local church and being a shepherd.

Here is what I finally learned (and Skye backs it up…not that he needed me to say that! 🙂 ): God does not judge whether I am relevant, or doing things with excellence or am making a global impact. He is more interested in me being faithful to the calling He has placed on my life. At the end of the day, that is all I need to concern myself with. Have I been faithful to Him? I don’t think He really cares about HOW I did them (excellently, etc) but whether I DID THEM for His glory.

Effective or Faithful? I cast my vote for Faithful.  How about you>