Thanksgiving

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Plans

Friday, November 24th, 2017

My take on the old adage of “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” is simple: “The best laid plans of men often go down the tubes.”  I can’t even begin to count (I only have 10 fingers and 10 toes) how many times I have made plans only to watch them fall apart {translated: blow apart}. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against making plans. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants a lot on a daily basis, but I also know there are times planning definitely needs to happen!

Being a nomad in ministry was never my plan. But it happened. We moved from Grayson, KY (college) to Akron, OH, to Kirkpatrick (Marion),OH, to Massillon, OH, to Fortville, IN, to Danville, OH, to Terre Haute, IN, to Sandusky, OH, to W. Market St in Spencer, IN, to our current address of 563 E. North St to ???? (Well, I hope nowhere else).  🙂 It seems like in a couple of them we no sooner put our stakes down than we were moving our tent again.

There are times God’s plan is clear as a bell, but often it is cloudy at best. Seeing mud would sometimes be clearer. But I do know this: no matter the circumstance, I know God ALWAYS has my best in mind. Always.  Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.”

My sermon Sunday concludes my short 3 sermon series on “I am Thankful” by being thankful for His Plan. I’m having a special guest Sunday, a dear friend. I don’t want to say “old friend” because he may take that wrong and since he is a Black Belt in TKD…I don’t think so. 🙂  He has some interesting stories to tell about God’s leading when he and his wife moved like a nomad as He opened doors in really amazing ways. Opening one of those doors gave me the privilege of meeting he and his family in 2007. Say a prayer for Ryan (techgeek) Sunday.  Thanks.

Patience

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Okay…before you think I’m going to go from being a friend to meddling 🙂  I want to put you at ease. I’m not going to rehash the age old adage of “patience is a virtue” and stuff like that.

Let me take it another direction.

Several words are used to describe or define what characteristic of God I am speaking about Sunday: longsuffering (the old King Jimmy word) or patience. We like to talk about God’s patience because it speaks of longevity. You know…I can keep doing and doing wrong and God is patient with me. People keep putting off salvation because they want to believe God is patient and even after death His patience will be experienced.

God is a god of perfect love, one with an incredible amount of patience. I should know: I’m typing this. I used to think God was this demanding judge, standing with a paddle in His hand. Psalm 103 paints a totally different picture of God.  That does not sound at all like a God who just can’t wait to get His hands around your throat! Nor does it sound like a God who can’t wait to throw darts at your picture. God’s love for His people knows no limits. And I am thankful for that!

But don’t be fooled. There will come a day when God’s patience will run out and a less favorite attribute will become a reality: His wrath. That is another subject for another day.

I would appreciate your prayers for this Sunday’s worship. Thanks.

Otherwise

Monday, November 13th, 2017

I used the following poem in my sermon yesterday. I think it says what needs to be said without a bunch of commentary. It was written by Jane Kenyon and was quoted in Alter Ego by Craig Groeschel (pages 151-152)

I got out of bed on two strong legs.

It might have been otherwise.

I ate cereal, sweet milk, ripe, flawless peach.

It might have been otherwise.

I took the dog uphill to the birch wood.

All morning I did the work I love.

At noon I lay down with my mate.

It might have been otherwise.

We ate dinner together at a table with silver candlesticks.

It might have been otherwise.

I slept in a bed in a room with paintings on the walls, and planned another day just like this day.

But one day, I know, it will be otherwise.

Kenyon wrote this poem in 1993, upon learning that her husband, Donald Hall, had cancer. Ironically, it was Kenyon, not Hall. who died a year later after a fierce and swift battle with leukemia. “Otherwise” came unexpectedly. But Jane Kenyon didn’t miss the blessings of God in each day. She learned the art of gratitude.

As I said, no commentary needed. Enjoy the blessing of today!!

Thanks

Friday, November 10th, 2017

Growing up we were taught a number of things. When our girls were growing up we taught them several things. Sadly, many do not teach them anymore. I heard it tonight at a meeting called Owen After Hours which the Owen County Chamber of Commerce sponsored.  I was working the greeting table. And I heard it. And it wasn’t even prompted by her mom.

There is a new mom (and family) whose daughter calls us Mamaw Jo and Grandpa Bill. Okay, she hasn’t quite said those words yet but she does know who we are. She is about 13-14 months old. She is being taught these two things.

What are they?

When you want something you say the “magic word.”  Which is?  PLEASE.

When something is given to you, you say the other magic phrase (2 words). Which is?  THANK YOU.

Forgotten words by many kids. Let me rephrase that. Forgotten words my many adults and children. Does it really take that much breath to say “Thank you” when I hold the door open for someone? I was taught that men do those kinds of things.

Is it too much to say “Please” when you want something? Instead of just “give me” as though someone is entitled to it!

My sermon series over the next 3 weeks is going to take a look at Thanks. Gratitude is fast becoming a lost art. The whole thing with contentment and being thankful for having our needs met is often discarded for the desire for more and of thinking, “This is mine!”

Maybe, just maybe, I can help us to become a bit more thankful along the way. This week is using Luke 17: 11-19 as the basis for “I’m Thankful for His Provision.”

Here’s something to think about, something I read:

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

Reason

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

Daniel Hamlin and his family are five of the neatest people you will ever meet. They came to OVCF just a tad over a year ago in a search for something different than what he/they had grown up in. They were also concerned for their three children (one a teen and another real close and an adorable young girl). So he actually first heard of OVCF from living in the community about all his life, but when Daniel started searching with earnest his father told him about us. Daniel checked out the church website and then a few podcasts. Something resonated in him and a “chance” encounter with him at a local restaurant (we were supposed to eat somewhere else) led to him coming to OVCF. They have not left (that’s a good thing…a very good thing). He is a fine young man who wants to seek God with all his heart and wants to lead his family that way also. The following is what he posted on FB after helping with the Thanksgiving Dinner the church puts on annually.

Today, our church provided Thanksgiving meals to the community.  At one point my family was tasked with delivering 5 meals to a local low-income motel.  As we stepped out of the car I realized that we were probably not relatable to those who were receiving the food.  I had grabbed my LL Bean jacket, the boys were wearing Nike shoes and shorts (yes, shorts in November), we were a clean cut family.  One lady asked us to come in to her apartment.  After passing through the blanket that draped the door we enter her cluttered, dark apartment.  She had no kitchen table and had an aged container of Ramen noodles sitting on the stove.  We delivered her the prepared meal and she became emotional, expressing thanks for the food.  Amy asked her if she had any Christmas needs and she responded that she would like prayer for her son who suffers from scoliosis.

As I reflect back on this, it brings new appreciation for the Incarnation.  Just as I felt that our appearance would make us not relatable to those we were serving, if Jesus had come to earth in all of his power and glory we would not be able to relate to him.  Instead, he came to earth as a baby, grew up as a man, was tested, tempted, beaten, suffered loss and eventually killed.  I’m thankful that because of God’s grace and his love for us, Christ made himself relatable by becoming human.

And that, my friends, is the reason for the season.

I would say Daniel has it right. Not only that…do you see any doubt he will be able to lead his family well? I don’t.

Thanks

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

As I write this it is a rainy Wednesday. The day before the world in general (with a few exceptions) will focus on Thanksgiving. True, some find football a whole lot more fun, but not this boy. My Thanksgiving Day will consist of the following:

The church serving our community a lunch from 11-1:00 at the local Lion’s Club (their building is in town and the church building is not). We will also deliver a whole bunch of meals.

I have two traditions that I have done for years. I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Santa Clause” sometime Thursday. Well, our local theater is going to show “IaWL” on Sunday for free so I will go to that. So Jo and I plan to watch “White Christmas,” one of my other staple movies during the holidays.

I’m guessing a nap might be in there somewhere.

I will take some time to be thankful. My recent car/bicycle accident has me a bit more reminiscent than normal. To be aware that only 2″ separated me from either permanent damage (paralysis) or even death, tends to wake up even the sleepiest soul. I’m not going to rehash the scene. You can read it here and here.  Unfortunately, even though my memory wants to erase the event and forgive the perpetrator, my body keeps reminding me of it. On Monday I go to a general surgeon who will take a look at the giant hematoma on my left hip where he used me for a bumper car. I had to go to Urgent Care last week, and when nothing happened and things got worse with the rest of my leg, I went to my family doctor Tuesday. The surgeon will decide if it is be drained (can you say knock me out?) or let it go. It will be 3 weeks to the day that it happened. Not a day goes by that I don’t remember because my body reminds me.

However, I am also impressed by God’s amazing design and how it heals. The bruising is lessening (it has moved from my hip to my thigh/hamstring, to my knee, to my calf and now to my foot. The painfully sore bruised shoulder muscles (inside) have healed enough to start lifting weights again. I have yet to be back on my bike. Not because I’m afraid but because of the discomfort of this hematoma.

I’m thankful I’m alive. I’m thankful I have a family who was concerned. I’m thankful for a marvelous church family who showed me in spades how much they love me. It has been my pleasure to love them for 11 years. In less than a week they showed me what I meant to them. *Tears on cheeks right now* I am thankful for you, my online family, who have said you would pray for me. I believe you did. I still pray for the one who did it. Not for vengeance but so I can forgive them.

This has gone longer than any post I have written in the past 4 or 5 years so it is time to shut it down. 🙂  Thanks for listening. Thanks for your prayers. Be truly thankful this year.

LIFE

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

I had planned on giving you an update of our Day of Service but LIFE has a way of throwing Clayton Kershaw curve balls at you. Yesterday (Monday) I was riding my bike about 2:30 in the afternoon. I had gotten a late start due to thngs at the office. I was a little over 4 miles away from the church building (where I keep my bike) when out of nowhere a speeding early model Ford Escape-like SUV decided to use me as a bumper car. It is so surreal-terrifying; anger for being hit and left; not sure what or if anything is broken; searching for your phone to take a picture then call 911; to watching a hematoma blow up to ungodly proportions on your hip; to spending 6 hours in an ER waiting for X-rays ; to being so sore & knowing tomorrow is going to hurt worse; to gratitude for friends close by & those far away (people you don’t even know) telling your daughters they are praying for their dad; to unlimited thanks to a good, good Father it was not worse-all go through my mind even as I write this.

I am grateful for the outpouring of support I have received. This is one of a cyclist’s worst nightmare (paralysis being the worst) and tears roll down my cheeks as I write this out of gratitude for God’s grace & protection. I do hope they find the perpetrator-not for the purpose of revenge or medical bills help-but so he/she will NEVER do this again. People who leave scenes like this are cowards of the highest order. Did they do it on purpose? Did they hit me then realize it and run? Were they texting or playing with their phone or looking down? Did they realize what they did & run? Are they even aware of what they did? Questions which will probably go unanswered.

I may never know the answers to those questions. It bugs me but I am more concerned now with fellow cyclists who face the same cowardice & recklessness.

In the end, I’d appreciate your prayers for a full & complete recovery. Share the road folks. Cyclists have as much right to be on it as cars do. Stay alert while driving.

12

Monday, October 17th, 2016

This coming Sunday we will celebrate our 12th anniversary as a church community. I shared the following this past Sunday. I realize many of you who read this are not part of OVCF, but there are some who do, some of whom were not here Sunday to hear this. So I thought I would include it here, especially for them.

“Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power. Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness.” Psalm 145:4,7

I want to ask you a personal favor. Would you email me at pastor@ovcf.org a paragraph or two about a time when God has used the ministry of Owen Valley Christian Fellowship to bless or help you? You might share about an individual who helped you, a conversation you had, a youth group event, mission trip, Bible Study, or a sermon. If you choose, you can ask to keep it anonymous. The best reflection we could have for our 12th Anniversary is our church family sharing stories of God’s wonderful goodness being lived out by His people through OVCF over the last 12 years.

The plan is to share some of your responses this Sunday, but also to share throughout the whole month of November about God’s goodness and our gratitude for His goodness. Your responses will also be an added bonus during our prayer time when we pray for the Educator, college student, etc.  It will be a great way to say thanks.

Perhaps you are reading but are not a part of the OVCF family in Spencer. Why not do this for your church/pastor and let him know of your gratitude? Why not start here and tell me what you are thankful for?

REMEMBER!!

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

I wasn’t going to write another post this week but felt an overflow of gratitude and wanted to share it with you. First, remember to take some time Thanksgiving Day to do what the day reminds us to do:

GIVE THANKS

Our church family will be serving a FREE meal from 11-1:00 for the community. For those unable to come, we will deliver. It started last year when I heard about some folks who needed a meal. Despite the bitter cold, it went well. Because our homeless population is not a normal population (living under a bridge in a tent village, etc) it is hard to reach them. I heard of one just yesterday (Tuesday) who lives in the woods and unless he wants you to find him you won’t. I’d sure like to find out where he is and take a meal to him. But the person I was talking to does and will deliver it for us. We have another who lives in a camper with no heat or electricity and “watches over” a house which has been condemned because of flooding. So many hurting & broken people. So many different stories.

I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams. I’m not rolling in dough. I have no retirement. No SS. No big 403(b). I don’t live in a mansion. I choose not to wear fancy clothes. I drive a dependable truck. I serve a simple church with a simple building which is too small, but we choose to not rack up debt.  We choose to serve our community as much as possible. We choose to love.  I would not want to be anywhere else for all the money in the world.

I have a wife whom I love and have been married to for 42 1/2 years. I have two fantastic daughters, a son-in-law, and a one-of-a-kind grandson who lights up my world.

I have friends I have made down through the years. Doug, a college classmate. Jim, a cycling buddy and a true friend whom I still get together with. Ron & Joyce, older (than me) friends whom I tolerate since they like the St. Louis Cardinals. And friends I have made in the 10 years here whom I count as the dearest of all. I work with Diana and Ryan, the two best staff people I have known and worked with. I have online friends whom I have never met in person but feel a connection with.

Above all…I have Jesus. My life. My all. My reason.

Yes…I am blessed. “And I thank You, Father, for giving me blessings beyond counting. May my life be one of thanksgiving to You in every way, every day.”

Thanksgiving

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Deb asked me to write a post for Thanksgiving for Faith’nFriends. Because my schedule is hectic this week, I am going to use it for this post. I’m also going to be lying low the next few days. I will have a post for this weekend which will go live on Thursday night. This is a lot longer than I normally write but she wants something over 500 words. Enjoy… BTW: this will go live on Wednesday morning at Faith’nFriends at 8:00 (Eastern time).

I asked myself the same question I ask myself every year when it comes to sermons for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. What do I say that hasn’t already been said?

“Hello…Bill (think Biff knocking on McFly’s head in Back to the Future). Who says you have to say something different?”

True that. So a simple post it is.

I’d like to propose a small proposition statement: Forgettable: thanksgiving. Forgettable holiday: Thanksgiving Day. Unforgettable: God’s steadfast love.

Let’s take the first two. One simple question will set up why I say “forgettable.” Here it is: what is the one thing we often fail to do each day? Answer: be grateful. It is so much easier spouting off to God this unending shopping list of ideas/things He can and ought to do for us/things He should do for us/how He can answer our prayers with what we think is best. Thankful heart? Maybe…if we get around to it. So…now you know why I think thanksgiving is forgettable.

Second: forgettable holiday. Seriously (as my daughter says)? Do I really have to go into this?

Halloween hadn’t even passed before Christmas decorations and gift items were already on the shelves of WalMart, Target and all the other big box stores. Our local theater has been advertising for a free showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” for close to a month (and yes, I will be going). It won’t be long before we see sparklers taking the place of lights; Santa’s sleigh being pulled by 8 tiny rabbits; the wise men & shepherds wearing costumes; and a heart replacing Jesus in the manger. Sarcastic I know. But am I wrong? Think about it: Thanksgiving Day gets a bum rap. We love it because it means school is dismissed; work is shut down (for most professions); we get to eat without feeling guilty (because we will head to the gym the next day); we get to watch football instead of having social interaction. (I, for one, am not a football fan so it doesn’t matter to me who is playing). And wonder of all wonders! Black Friday is the next day kicking off what? The Christmas season (which has already been in full swing).

So…thanksgiving is forgettable. Thanksgiving Day is the forgettable holiday (or often overlooked).

One thing should not be overlooked, forgettable. We dare not forget God’s love never changes. Romans 8 is a feast of truth. There is way too much for me write about here but let me give you some ideas.

Romans 8:1-2. Can there be any greater blessing for which to be thankful than knowing you have been set free from sin and bondage and are no longer under condemnation?

Romans 8: 16-17. So many live with insecurity-with their lives and their salvation. Take a closer look: children and heirs. As I am want to say: Holy mackerel! Can there be anything much better?

Romans 8: 28-29. Everyone focuses on verse 28 but verse 29 says, “He has predestined us to be conformed to the image of Jesus!” That is another “Holy mackerel!” moment.

Romans 8:31-39. The coup de gras. Is there any more powerful set of words and thoughts put together under “one roof” than those? “Who shall separate us…?” “Neither death nor life, nor angels…”

Don’t let Thanksgiving Day pass by without taking some time to read and ponder the powerful truths in Romans 8. I have this sneaking suspicion you won’t forget this Thanksgiving for a long time.