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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.

 

Involvement

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

I interrupted my posts from last week to interject one about Sunday’s sermon.  I’d like to finish that series of posts with this one. For the purpose of review you can see the others:

Mission

Vision #1

Vision #2

#3: To be involved in our community.

It is easy-as a church and as individuals-to bury our head in the sand or to put our hands over our eyes and say, “It doesn’t happen here. If so, I don’t want to know.” The church needs to stop hiding behind its walls and stained glass windows (which we don’t have) and get involved. Change won’t happen unless we do. We will bemoan the fact “our town is going to hell in a hand-basket” but really have no right to say that unless or until we do something to stem the tide.

Speaking for OVCF, we have no desire to be one of those churches.

It used to be (and I’m ashamed to admit this) but my world was secluded to the church and church people I was called to shepherd. I did very little, and cared very little, for those outside the church walls. How ugly is that? Then I harped on the people to invite their friends and neighbors. I look back now and say, “Why? Why would I invite anyone to hear me?”

Everything changed when I moved here…gradually. I fell in love with the people of the church first, and by proxy, the town. But then I started making myself available in the community. I’m a member of the Chamber of Commerce board and other ventures. We have an annual Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas breakfast where we serve the community free. I’ve recently taken a deep interest in human trafficking and will be talking to a local judge who is spearheading the task force as to what we can do. Next Sunday, the 6th, OVCF will be partnering with two other churches in the community to do our Day or Service. The church building is a registered Safe Place venue.

I could tell you so much more. Huh, maybe I will in the next post. GET INVOLVED. DON’T HIDE BEHIND WALLS.

Pursuit

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

In my last post, I talked about the Mission of OVCF. You can see that post here. I realize there are all sorts of different explanations for the difference between mission and vision. I have one that I feel comfortable with and use that as a guide.

The Mission is what we do.

The Vision is how we hope/plan to accomplish that mission.

MISSION: TO CONNECT PEOPLE TO JESUS

The $1000 question is “How can we make that happen?” The following is what was shared Sunday. In order to be cognizant of length, I’m going to do this in three posts.

#1: WE DESIRE TO BE PASSIONATE PURSUERS OF JESUS.

Our #1 goal is not to build a big church. It is not to have a huge nursery or the best youth program. Our first and primary pursuit should be running fully after Jesus. It goes without saying: we cannot lead people where we ourselves are not going or have not been. That would be like taking your child into the forest and telling them to follow a path and then going the opposite direction. Makes no sense.

Paul knew this principle. In Philippians 3:10 he wrote, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.” The word know is the word which means “intimate knowledge.” In other words, Paul was drawing a line in the sand between a head knowledge and a heart knowledge. There are tons of people who know a lot about Jesus, the Bible and other teachings. The atheist knows the Bible and knows the teachings of Jesus! But it is head knowledge. We need heart knowledge.

A passionate pursuer of Jesus desires to have a heart knowledge, one full to the brim and running over. Are you one?

ID

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

If you look into the right margin of the blog, you will see an icon with RoadID. If you click on it, it will take you to a website of well…RoadID. RoadID is a series of products designed to tell people who you are in case of an accident. I wear three. The Slim ID. The FIXX ID.  And the Sport ID. I wear the Slim 24/7. The other two I wear when I am cycling. The motto of Road ID is Its Who We Are. In case of an emergency it is designed to let them know your name, age, contact person, any medical alerts, doctor (in my case) and a saying (Live the Adventure). You can actually design one however you want.

My message during the 12th Anniversary of the church was just that: It’s Who We Are. I also involved Ryan so he could give his thoughts from a youth-oriented perspective.

I started with this quote:

Without vision, there is rarely direction. Without direction, there are no goals. And without goals, there is not progress.

Our goal- our Mission- is simple and straightforward:

TO CONNECT PEOPLE TO JESUS

We get our cue from Jesus who said, “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”  He also said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinner to repentance.” We get our cue from Matthew 28:19-20.

To my way of thinking: it is sort of hard to mess that up.

Recap

Monday, October 24th, 2016

The church’s 12th anniversary celebration is now history. One service. A packed auditorium (even with over 15 regulars gone). A good spirit. A so-so sermon. 🙂 A great pitch-in dinner. And a good offering to go toward our new (and modest) youth addition (which will wait until at least the Spring to be started).

It is always strange when things are changed around. Instead of two services at 9:00 and 10:45, we had one at 10:00. We’ve been announcing it for over two months so I’m thinking most, if not all, got the memo. We had every available space used with 155 chairs. The spirit was excellent. We prayed it would be and the folks came expectant and excited. We have some fantastic cooks so the pitch-in was good. My only beef is because I go last-on purpose-there was very little meat left I could eat. Very little anything for that matter. But there was chocolate!! I’m okay with that.

The offering was over $7100. That puts our Youth Addition Fund over $86000. Our goal is $140,000 as we intend on paying cash for the addition. We thank God for His goodness and the generosity of the people.

The sermon was so-so. Ryan and I both preached, with him adding his thoughts from the Youth Pastor side of things. We will need to reevaluate and streamline I think.

All in all it was a “most excellent day.” For those of  you who pray for me/us every Sunday, thank you so much! We prayed before everyone showed up that God would be praised and glorified and the fame of his Name would be spread. Our prayers were answered.

I hope to share some of my sermon thoughts over the course of this week with you.