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#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>

Surprise!!

Monday, April 8th, 2019

This past Sunday the church I have pastored since November of 2005 surprised me and Jo. The picture which follows will tell the story.

Yeah…you’re seeing that right. It has been a bucket list of mine for a long time. Jo’s bucket list got lighter almost two years ago when someone gifted us with a week’s stay at a Timeshare in Daytona Beach. She has always wanted to go to the beach. They felt after my two bike accidents and major back surgery as a result that time away was a good thing. We agreed. 🙂 🙂

The back story to this trip is several months ago I asked Jo what she thought about a a cruise to Alaska. We contacted an old friend who had renewed her travel agent license (and whom I also think was in on this “deception”)  but after getting prices to the cruise and flights to Seattle we decided to back off and save for another year. We were okay with that. We would just take little junkets to Ohio and other places to get away which didn’t require a lot of money.  Combine that with the need for a new roof this summer and a new driveway and some needed house repairs and you have a recipe for waiting.

Fast forward to yesterday. It has been a really emotional week and weekend (see my other blog for April 8), even several months, so this could not have come at a better time. We were both stunned when Ryan put two chairs down where I stand to preach and asked us to come to the front. He started by asking me how long I have been doing this (being a pastor) and I said 45+ years. He then asked Kris, a lady whose family is going to Alaska this summer and close friends to the agent in Florida, to come forward. Kris presented us with the bucket and an all-expenses paid trip to Alaska, including air fare.  Can someone say, “Knock me over with a feather?” Jo & I were both so stunned we didn’t even cry.  In all my years as a pastor I have NEVER been treated by a church to something this magnanimous.  It looks like we are going to shoot for the first of September when they have an opening rather than wait until next year.

I thought I would share my/our surprise with you. We are blessed. And this is just a small part of the heart of these people. I have never felt so loved as I have here.  This is just a minor reason why. And I can honestly say that even without something this generous, I love these people.

Effectiveness#2

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

“I’m afraid of living an insignificant life.” So said one speaker at a conference. That’s a good sentiment. I could say that as well. I might say it as “I want to leave a legacy.”

But here’s the rub: what is significant? What kind of legacy? Well….I guess it depends on who and what one listens to. If I listen to the world’s definition of significance, I’ll hear something totally different from God’s definition. Ask someone the definition of significance and most will tie it to something they have done-even though it may be something truly worthy like a home for unwed mothers, or a shelter, or feeding the homeless, etc. But that significance is tied to “do.”

When that idea creeps into a Christ-follower’s thinking, or the church, then it is easy to think my value (significance) is related to what I do, what I have achieved. I tie how I feel about myself to what I do. So the “bigger” something is the more significant my life appears to be.

NOT. TRUE.

Significance is not found in what I do or even don’t do. My value to God is based on what I am in His eyes. He isn’t going to hold me up and carry me on His shoulders to be praised before an adoring crowd. I’m not going to be ride the wave like a coach or star player after a huge victory. My significance is not based on my effectiveness (see Leader A vs Leader B again in that first post), but on my relationship with God. Service is good but it should never trump being with Him.

What do you think? Better yet, ask yourself how you view your significance. Is there a change I need to make so I can see myself through God’s eyes?

 

Effectiveness

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

I’m going to steal from my other blog for this week. I have been reading through (for a second time) and writing about a book by Skye Jethani called Immeasurable. I thought I would take this week here to write some thoughts about a chapter he titles Effectiveness. For today, here is a test:

Leader A. Lifted an entire nation in a time of despair. He mobilized his people against unimaginable odds with a clear vision and inspiring passion. He launched a movement that has impacted literally everyone alive today. He set in motion an industrial and scientific revolution that produced the first computer, the first jet airplane, began human exploration of space, and unlocked the mystery of nuclear energy.  Almost every aspect of the modern world has, in one way or another, been influenced by this man. By the time he died at the age of only 56, everyone on the planet knew his name. Without a doubt, Leader A changed the world.

Leader B. Lived during the same era. In fact, he died just 21 days before Leader A, but his life was very different. At the height of his influence, Leader B ran a school with just a hundred students. He wrote a few books but was not widely regarded.  He was beloved by his friends and family and had a reputation for being both intelligent and faithful, but at the time of his death almost no one knew his name, and most considered his life’s work unfulfilled-including Leader B himself.

So, given the choice, which leader’s strategies would you rather study? Which man’s life would you rather emulate? Which leadership conference would you rather attend-the one featuring a keynote address by Leader A, or the one with a small workshop in a back hall facilitated by Leader B?  GIVE YOUR ANSWER NOW (before I give the punch line).

If you are inspired by the world-changing effectiveness of Leader A, congratulations! You’ve chosen Adolf Hitler. Leader B was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who was executed by the Nazis for his relentless opposition to Hitler.

So…how did you do? Whom did you pick? You see, simple effectiveness is not enough.  We often equate effectiveness with success. I once heard someone say, “It is not success that matter; it is faithfulness that matters.” I agree. To be “successful” is not wrong; it’s okay. But it is far better to be faithful to what we have been called to do.  I want to pursue this line of thought this week. Hope you will join me.

OldAgeObservations

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

My title is Growing Old vs Getting Old.

There is a well-worn saying that stands the test of time:”There are two things which are certain-death and taxes.” No argument on that!! The rub is the part which usually precedes the death part: old age.

We have milestones in our lives. 21 signals “adulthood” (as if). 30 for a pastor was/is the magic age, i.e. a pastor is now old enough to show maturity, gain respect and to have been around the block a few times. 35-30 is supposed to be the pastor’s most productive years-something about youth and energy and learning. 🙂 40 is a tough age for some. 50 is even tougher because a sense of mortality is kicking in. 60 is seen as the start of the downhill slops. 65 is “retirement.” Beyond that? It’s anyone’s guess (largely because I’m not there yet).

I’d like to invite you to read the rest of this at my other blog, Living in the Shadow. I’d be honored if you would visit and consider leaving a comment there or here (or both). 🙂