Story

...now browsing by category

 

MDRecap

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

In my last post I asked for prayer for several folks and ended with saying my next post (this one) would be a recap of Mother’s Day. If you look here you will see I had help Sunday. I asked three women to speak alongside me. I thought I would give a synopsis of what they spoke about.

But first, they all did a phenomenal job! First to last. I could have totally stayed out of the picture (but I couldn’t) and it would have been fine.

AMY HAMLIN

Amy has been married to a phenomenal man with a very muscular physique (so he says) named Dan (is that good enough Dan?) for 21 years; a mother of 2 boys and a girl; and takes her desire to follow Jesus seriously. Amy spoke about Hannah, the mother of Samuel, who gave her long-awaited son to God. She and Daniel had waited over 7 years so Hannah became very alive to her. Eventually, Hannah’s (and Amy’s) waiting was fruitful and a son was born. Amy did an excellent job of tying in waiting on God and faith. {Note: My apologies to Amy. My original said “close to 18 years” but Dan said, “I know Amy looks young but it has been 21 years.”} I also apologize to Amy for underestimating her time with Dan. 🙂 🙂  And in case you can’t tell, I love these guys.

DIANA MARKLAND

I happen to know Diana pretty well. I work with her everyday. Diana has been married almost 30 years and has two sons. I asked her to speak on being a “warrior woman.” Conversations we have had over the past year or so precluded me asking her on that topic. She has a picture in her office I bought her of a warrior woman.

Diana spoke about being a woman who fights for her marriage, her children, her life…like a warrior. It was very inspirational and challenging to the women who were here.

JO GRANDI

I happen to know this woman!  This June will be 44 years together and that love has brought 2 adult daughters, a son-in-law we love as if he is our own, and of course, the best grandson in the world. (And no, I am not prejudiced! Just the facts). 🙂 Anyway, Jo spoke…haltingly at times…about dealing with my 2 bicycle wrecks and the possibility I could have died on either one, especially the last one. (The face plant and helmet split in three places is a dead giveaway). Jo spoke about feeling “closed in on,” of being rushed before the wreck and how the wreck caused us to slow down and breathe. She closed with a video. Enjoy! I cannot tell you how proud I was of her.

Actually, I was so pleased with all three ladies. I could see a “fear” in them of standing before people, but I also saw a strong confidence because they were God’s spokesperson for that time.  If you would like to hear their talks you can go to the church’s website and listen to the podcast. The strange guy’s voice you hear is mine. 🙂

It was a good and enriching day. Thanks Amy, Diana, and Jo for making it extra special. Now…next year? Look out ladies! I’ll probably be avoided for the whole year now.

3Feetplease

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

ADVOCACY

I think deep in the heart of all of us is something we are passionate about. Sometimes that passion is self-driven, i.e. something sticks to us like glue and we become an advocate for it. Sometimes it is need-driven, i.e. I don’t like the sex trafficking issue so I become an advocate against it. Sometimes something happens to us that “drives” us to not being able to leave it alone.

Things like best friends being killed by distracted drivers. Things like being “buzzed” then given the finger when you motion with open arms. Things like being stalked by a big diesel pickup then being covered in black smoke as he “accelerates.”

Things like bike wrecks caused by a hit and run driver. I’m pretty sure most of you are aware the latter happened to me on November 7, 2016. So has being buzzed and covered in black smoke. It was the former, though, which has led me to a web site and to become an advocate. The site is 3feetplease.com. (It is being overhauled and the new look is to be ready by the end of the week).  Below are some of the items available. (There is also a T-shirt which I will have to include in another post).

I rode for years without ever having trouble with a car (except for nuisance from jerks)…until that November 7th date last year. A person’s perspective changes a lot when he is the victim. I plan to become an advocate for the 3 Feet Law in Indiana and with help from Bob Heaton and Rod Bray I hope it becomes a LAW in Indiana. Will it stop it? Probably not. But drivers need to know the law and that there are consequences to disobeying it.

Someday

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

I was sitting in my chiropractor’s office Friday and since I had forgotten to bring something to read (DUH!), I picked up a Men’s Health magazine. I ran across an article about a trainer named Bobby Maximus. (Sort of reminds me of Gladiator.  🙂 )  I give you that, not as a stamp of approval on Maximus, but as a “give credit where credit is due” thing. Anyway, they had some sayings which Maximus is fond of using.  Several of them struck a chord…one I’ve heard before: “Do what’s right, not what’s easy.”

But the one that stayed with me so much I wrote it down and use it now is this:

There are 7 days in a week. ‘Someday’ is not one of them.

It is easy getting into that mode-whether we talk about our physical condition; our exercise program; a relationship we want to cultivate; a goal we want to realize; and especially our relationship with God. I don’t really need to go into detail as to each of these modes, so to speak. We all know how it applies to our physical condition or an exercise program, etc.

I do find it somewhat disconcerting when I consider how I have used the “Someday excuse” when it comes to cultivating my relationship with God. “Someday I will have that Quiet Time.” “Someday I will pray.” “Someday I will learn that verse.” Someday. Someday. Someday. And Someday never gets anything accomplished.

I’ve written about my two bike wrecks. No need to go into them again. If you want to read about it go here. But those two wrecks have taught me some serious lessons…one of them is don’t use “Someday” as an excuse to get things done which need done. Don’t keep putting things off.  For example, Jo & I are in a much better place than we have been for years, largely because of this philosophy.  Talking more. Hugging and snuggling more. Kissing more. I’ll stop there. 🙂 🙂  (I know Tami…TMI)

Don’t keep saying “Someday.”

Fog

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

As in stupor. Lull. Clouded mind.

This morning (Tuesday) I was reading a devotion from New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. I’m not saying this lightly: I am not sure there has ever been a devotion that hit me so hard and so “where I live” as this one. I’m going to give you snippets of it in this blog and then include it at as a whole at the end.

Human beings, who were created to live in awe of God, are in grave danger when familiarity causes them to be bored with God.

That was just the opening line! But he wasn’t done.

Familiarity is a beautiful thing…But the blessing of blessings is to be familiar with the ways, the character, the presence, and the promises of God…Yes, familiarity is a wonderful thing, but it can also be a very dangerous thing.

By this time he had my undivided attention. Something began to ring in my ears and in my heart. Something disturbing. Convicting. Unnerving. Truthful.  Then came this:

Every human being was designed by God to have his hopes, dreams, choices, words, actions, desires, and motivations shaped by a jaw-dropping, heart-controlling, life-shaping awe of God…Familiarity causes us to lose our awe of God. What once stunned us doesn’t anymore. {Note: you can read the rest on your own below}

Here is what I wrote in my journal:

“I wonder, as I think back, if this is some of what happened {Note: previous to my bike wreck in February}. Had I lost my awe of God? Had I taken Him for granted? That, (along with a couple other factors), could be the source of my stupor and lull of the desert from mid summer to my wreck in February. I may not know what caused the wreck, but as time goes by I seem to get a better handle on my (spiritual) struggle leading up to it. And that is good. 🙂 As I do, a little more of me wakes up. And that is very good.” 🙂  (In case you are new, if you read here you will find out what happened.  You can find out what I did my first Sunday back in the pulpit after the wreck here. And then read this post to find out a recap of what has been happening.

I know we each have our own journey we are traveling. This may have absolutely no relevance to yours. That’s okay. Then again…maybe it does. Below is the whole day’s devotion. I hope it is clear enough for you.

 

 

Restart

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

I wore this T-shirt today (Sunday). Someone from the church picked it up for me since they know I absolutely love this movie. (And yes, I wear T-shirts to preach in on Sunday morning. I serve a church where wearing a tie usually means a funeral or a wedding).

Unless I miss my guess most of us have had a time or two or three where we have wished we could turn back the clock or travel back in time for a “do over.” I’m reminded of a song Jo likes to listen-“Dear Younger Me” by MercyMe. Well, as we all know we can’t hop in our DeLorean and travel back in time and change the course of history…our history. Sadly, we can’t get a “do over.”

But, in reality, life isn’t about “do overs.” Life is about what is ahead. Jo and I have been talking a lot lately about forgetting the past and looking ahead. We can’t change it but we can make a difference in the days to come. Craig Groeschel, in his new book Divine Direction says:

It’s not too late to change the story that you’ll tell one day. You can start something new. No matter how desperate, uncertain, afraid, or stuck you may feel right now, your story isn’t over. Page 28

At the end of Back to the Future 3, Marty and Jennifer are talking to Doc who has come back to 1985 in a train. When Jennifer shows Doc the picture and says something about their future, Doc says, “Nobody’s future has been written yet. So make it a good one…both of you.” He is both right and wrong. Our future is known by God. He orders our steps according to Proverbs. But since none of us know our future, we need to make it the best one we can. And to quote Craig again:

There is no better time to start writing your future story than right now. Page 46

That’s pretty good and solid advice. Taking a DeLorean seems easier. Just change it before it happens. But that is not going to happen. So start today and make it a good one…following the Father’s plan and steps.

Messy

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Well…I did it again.

NO…I DIDN’T HAVE ANOTHER BICYCLE ACCIDENT!

Saturday night I told Jo not to be surprised if I scrapped the sermon for something else. I felt God nudging me about it while I was studying. In fact, I almost went back to the office Saturday evening. I didn’t. But Sunday morning, in spite of the Daylight Savings Time shift, I was up and in my office and cranked out a sermon to preach.

I called it Messy Grace. It was a follow up to last week’s sermon when I opened up about my wilderness journey. I needed to  bring some closure to that sermon and “felt led” to address the issue of messy grace.

Sometimes grace is messy. Sometimes grace is rubbing shoulders with people who are not like us. Jud Wilhite, a pastor in LasVegas and the author of Stripped tells the story of a lady who said she was leaving the church because she didn’t like the type of people who were showing up and “you never know what you might get from those type of people.” I suspect God was more grieved over her comment than “those type of people” attending church.

Grace was extended to me by my family this past week. The people of OVCF extended grace to me by their texts, emails, comments, and phone calls. I’d like to close with this picture of a wall hanging Jo and I bought shortly after Christmas. Little did I know how much it would be appropriate to us.

Interrupted

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

If you saw the last post, it was a description of Sunday’s sermon: Black/white.

Well…it was supposed to be. Until that Sunday morning when God interrupts the thought-process and says, “I want you to go in a different direction.”

So “Black Hats/White Hats” was held over until this coming Sunday. God had other ideas. I want you to know I’m not really into that. I prepare for a reason. I study for a reason. I practice on Sunday morning to an empty auditorium for a reason. I am a firm believer that if people come on Sunday morning to hear “me speak” (to hear a word from God as He has taught me), they need to hear something worth listening to. Half-baked, half-prepared sermons which use the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as an excuse for not studying and preparing tell the people they don’t matter and the pastor doesn’t care.  That’s not me. So when I no sooner begin my sermon and I sense the Holy Spirit prompting me to put it all aside and talk from the heart, I don’t jump up and down like Horshack on Kotter saying, “Ooh ooh ooh.”

That is what happened though this Sunday. I no sooner made two comments:

“Along with the fake there will always be a real.”

“Underneath it all we need to see that Looks can be deceiving.”

At that point I told the people to put their Bibles and notes away. I confessed to them that for the past 9 months or so I have been wearing a mask. I wore a mask so when they asked, “How you doing?” my stock answer was, “I’m fine.” Problem is Bill wasn’t fine. Bill was running on fumes.  He was empty.

It took two bicycle accidents to get my attention. The first didn’t work because it wasn’t my fault and I was able to move on too quickly from it. But this second one was a doozy. I’ve written about it here. I’m healing physically, but spiritually is taking longer. If you would like to listen to the podcast of Sunday’s talk, you can link here.

Your continued prayers are very much needed. Priorities need realigned. Relationships need mended and realigned as well. Thanks ahead of time.

Musings

Saturday, February 25th, 2017

Some of you may be wondering where in the world Bill has been? I mean, I was on track with “getting with the program” of regular posts, and keeping you updated on sermons and life. It has been a week since I last posted and I either have a very boring life or something else has happened. Trust me when I say I don’t have a boring life so that can only mean one thing…something else happened. I wish I could say it was something as minor as a computer glitch or time constraint or something small. But I can’t. Perhaps a picture can paint a thousand words:

Last Friday, the 17th, I was 3 miles from home after riding about 15 miles when I hit the pavement. My mind has blacked out what happened. I don’t know if I hit a stone; a manhole cover that was slick on its end or something else. The next thing I knew I was flopping down the hill like a rag doll. My bike is mangled in some way but I have yet to see how badly. My collarbone was broken in four places (surgery done this past Wednesday); I have three broken ribs; multiple contusions on my body and a huge hematoma on the back and right hip that is uncomfortable. I did a face plant as you can tell. The next two pictures will tell that story.

Without the helmet, I would hate to even think of the results. Not only is the outer shell cracked and bent as you can see, the inner shell is also split. I seriously do not understand the silliness of riding without a helmet- bicycle or motorcycle. Male/female vanity doesn’t stop pavement. Who knows what Jo and my family and church family would be dealing with now if I had chosen not to wear the helmet. Years ago I made a decision to never ride with someone who didn’t wear a helmet. No helmet=no ride.

I’m going to write more as the week progresses and I get a little more acclimated to a schedule. In the meantime, would you mind praying for me and I recuperate? Pray for Jo & Tami as they put up with my stubbornness of wanting to do things. Pray for Janna, Jason, and Braden who live 4 hours away. Pray for the church family. And pray for Ryan who is preaching again this weekend in my place.

Struck

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

As I mentioned in the last post, it was Jo’s birthday. I survived the caning I received for telling her age, but other than that I have come out of it relatively unscathed.

We did go see Hidden Figures. What a moving picture! I was born in 1952 and even though I grew up during the age of segregation, I was basically naive. My mother was not a segregationist by any stretch so I was taught all people were worth something. I was never allowed to use the “n” word in her presence, nor was I allowed to make fun of any handicapped person. (Kids can be cruel you know?) I grew up living in the projects, low income housing units built for the steel workers in the 20s, I believe. Improvements had been made but I was still a son-of-the-projects.  I look back now and remember the separate housing units for the black people (that’s one of the names they were called. That and colored people). But I can also look back and realize some of my friends were black kids. I played sports with them. I went to school with them. I was affected by, but in the dark when the riots of ’69-70 hit home to my little town of West Mifflin, PA. I grew up in a high school that was about 1/3 black so I was not out of sorts like so many whites and blacks were. In fact, while former friends were fighting and calling each other names outside before school, I stood inside with Jeff Goldblum (yes him…a Jew); John, a white Catholic; Bruce, a black with concert violinist aspirations; and me, a white Christian. So I knew of difficulty with the races but isolated myself against it.

The movie, Hidden Figures, showed the ugliness and inequality of the whole racial situation. It was, to me, a blight on our country…to think of the Civil War and the freeing of slaves as basically a non-event in our nation’s history. I was struck by the way people were treated.

If I were you, I would make plans to see the movie. Go prepared to get angry. Go also with Kleenex because there are both happy/laughing moments, and also weepy moments. Above all, go prepared to be struck by the reality of God’s love for every individual…no matter the race or color.

Fools

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

This past Sunday I spoke about the verse where Paul says, “We are fools for Christ’s sake.” While the fool is not a complimentary term, I went another way with it. I went with the idea that God embraces the ridiculous.

I love to talk about my two daughters. Seldom do I get the chance to brag about them, so today I want to brag about my oldest, Tami. She recently wrote a blog that I want to highlight and ask you to check it out. She says it very succinctly and, if I may brag, very well. I’d like to ask you to read it here.

One of the things I did was change the word fool to the word crazy. I started with this video. With that thought in mind here are some of the crazy people and highlights Tami also mentioned (just in case you didn’t read her post):

Abraham– Obedience is easy when it fits into our plan or our scheme. Abraham was willing to obey even though it was crazy.

Namaan- Sometimes we are asked to take steps of wild obedience where we have no clue where it will end. Stop too soon and we miss out on God’s phenomenal blessings. (Note: Imagine if Namaan had stopped at #6)

Gideon- It doesn’t matter the size of the army or enemy coming against you when God is fighting your battle for you.

Hosea– Though we fail; we are not failures. Though we are unfaithful; God is faithful. Always.

As Christ-followers we are often asked to do bizarre-appearing actions. Some might actually call us crazy. But I’d rather be called crazy for stepping out of the status quo than be bored to tears and bore everyone else along the way.