Opinion

...now browsing by category

 

Presence

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

I’m going to be honest…I have no idea where I am going to go with this post. I think you will see why. I do have a point but getting there might be like “going ’round Robin Hood’s barn” as we used to say (back in them old days). 🙂

I’ve been reading Skye Jethani’s book Immeasurable about the soul of Church, Inc. I’ve written two other posts which have flowed out of it. You can read them here and here. But something I read just today really stuck with me and I don’t know what the solution is. Let me explain.

When I was a young pastor I was told visit, visit, visit. I often found myself out every afternoon and many evenings visiting with people from the church. So much so I often neglected my office time and even my family (at night especially).  It wasn’t unusual to be driving by someone’s house and saying, “Oh, I haven’t seen them in a while. I’ll swing in for a few moments.” So I would…whether the spouse was there or not. But as Bob Dylan sang so eloquently: “the times they are a changin’.”  It was no longer kosher (translated: acceptable or safe) to just drop by to see someone, especially if they were a member of the opposite sex. So I found myself tied more and more to my office. Studying. Napping. Reading. Napping. “Counseling” (Can an untrained pastor really do this? But that’s another topic for another time). But even the latter had to be done a certain way. Ryan and I have set a policy that we will not be in the church building; at a meal; in a car; or any setting with a female who is not our wife without someone else in the building or with us.

Then I read this in Skye’s book: “The antidote to popularity-based authority is the quiet power of pastoral presence.” (p.138)  His point in the chapter is many people will listen to someone who is popular (i.e. TV/radio hucksters and some legitimate speakers) before they will listen to their own pastor. It is called platform. And their platform is bigger than most local pastors. Definitely mine. But that raises a huge question: how do I/any pastor do the pastoral presence thing and still be cognizant of the moral perception of others?

What do you think?

Flashback2

Monday, August 13th, 2018

In a previous post I wrote about having a flashback. I’m not going to recap it. You can go here and read it for yourself. To continue my thoughts:

Skye’s definition/description of “Church, Inc.” is this:

It is shorthand for ministry devoid of mystery, for pastors who assume that the exercise of their calling is a matter of skill more than the gravity of their soul. It represents the exchange of the transcendent calling of Christian ministry with mere management of religious institutions and services. If ministry is encountering the heat and light of an uncontrollable sun, Church, Inc is the tanning salon in the local strip mall.

Skye goes on to ask a very complex question: the attraction to religious consumers is easy enough to grasp, but what is the appeal for pastors? The answer is not an easy one and I suspect he will spend the book dissecting it.  I’m only in chapter 6 and I think I’ve gone through a pen while highlighting!! To top it off he includes this quote by Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the United States Senate:

In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and woman centered on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome, where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe, where it became a culture. And, finally, it moved to America, where it became an enterprise.

BINGO!

Jesus didn’t set up an enterprise. He established his church. He didn’t tell the disciples to “Go, learn the business principles of the world, then take the message to others, and I will be with you to the end of the age.” I think it high time pastors get back to being pastors (shepherds), and churches get back to being churches not small businesses.

There is so much more to say but…

So…

OFF SOAPBOX (for now).

More to come.

Heart

Friday, August 10th, 2018

Someone has said, “A wise man learns by the experience of others. An ordinary man learns by his own experience. A fool learns by nobody’s experience.”

The two characters in the movie Chariots of Fire were Eric Liddell and Harold Abram. Both were passionate about running, but in different ways. Abram runs in order to prove something; he is a man whose life is motivated by ought, by duty, by law. Liddell runs because as he says, “When I run I feel God’s pleasure.” There was a young lady here who was feeling a lot of pressure when she was running. It was taking the fun out of it for her. I saddled up to her before a race and told her the story of Liddell. Then I looked at her and said, “Run well and feel God’s pleasure.”

You see…it is true what Liddell says. When asked where his power comes from to see the race to the end, he simply said, “It comes from within.”

One of the most familiar verses in Proverbs is 4:23: “Keep your heart will all vigilance (diligence), for from it flow the springs of life.” My purpose this Sunday is to probe what that verse means, but in particular the whole idea of what is the heart? In this sermon Proverbs will go from theorizing to probing. Very pointed. Very convicting. Perhaps C.S.Lewis says it best: “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slime because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Your prayers would be much appreciated.

Flashback

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

Flashbacks are bad…usually. I guess it depends on what you flash back to.

Several years ago I was the pastor of a church when there was a major shift in a pastor’s responsibility. I was always used to seeing myself as a shepherd, as one responsible for the care and feeding of the sheep. Then along came a shift. The shift involved the pastor taking on more of a CEO position and the church being run like more of a business model. I attended John Maxwell’s seminars. Bought his and others’ books. Tried to implement the whole paradigm shift to the church.

I. FAILED…BIG. TIME.

Yep. I failed. Miserably. I knew when that happened that my time was limited in that current pastorate. I couldn’t make the shift to the CEO/business model.

MY. TIME. WAS. INDEED. LIMITED.

I moved on to another church…one that didn’t have or want that model. Good thing. I would have failed there too. My tenure there was not as long as the previous one, and definitely not as long as this one. But that was for other reasons completely.  In the meantime, I read several books which helped me tremendously. Two books by E. Glenn Wagner: The Church You’ve Always Wanted and Escape from Church, Inc cemented my decision.  Another was Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome by Kent & Barb Hughes. Two books on preaching which helped were Famine in the Land by Steve Lawson and The Passion-Driven Sermon by Jim Shaddix. They helped convince me of my purpose: preach the Word and quit worrying about modeling the business world.

FLASHBACK TIME

Why? I started reading a new book today: Immeasurable by Skye Jethani. It is subtitled Reflections on the Soul of Ministry in the Age of Church, Inc. Sounds like it would be right up my alley. Two quotes hit me hard  The prelude to the Introduction:

There are no measures which can set forth the immeasurable greatness of Jehovah…If we cannot measure we can marvel. Charles Spurgeon

The wrong approach put a premium on numbers and results.  You measure success by numbers. They were the qualifiers. When I was entertaining the whole idea of Church, Inc I was losing my focus on people as people and seeing them as numbers to be counted. Chairs to be filled (we didn’t have pews).  🙂

This post is getting long-much longer than I like to go- so I will continue it with another.

Lonely???

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

Back in the 1970s a group which seemed totally out of left field made an impact on the music world. In a world of heavy and hard music came a threesome who played mostly acoustic music. No blaring guitar riffs which went on and on. No double kick bass on the drums. No speed drumming. No thumping bass guitar beating out a low end rhythm and sound. Even some of the lyrics were strange or seemingly incomplete/incoherent:

“I’ve been to a desert on a horse with no name it felt good to be out of the rain.” Some speculated it was about heroin.

“Oz never did give nothing to the tin man that he didn’t, didn’t already have/ And  cause never was the reason for the tropic of Sir Galahad.” Say what?

Others were fun songs. Ventura Highway. Muskrat Love.

Some were philosophical. “Don’t cross the river if you can’t swim the tide.” Makes sense to me.

But there was one which struck a chord for many. It is my song for the week. The late Dan Peek, was a member of America for years but left all the fame and fortune behind to follow Jesus.  I still have his vinyl album called “All Things are Possible,” his first release to the Christian market. Same signature sound. Smooth. Acoustic. Mellow. But the one song America did is the one I’m highlighting this week. I’ve got Dan’s music (as well as America’s) on my Spotify playlist and this song came buzzing by me this week. I’m going to put Dan’s version first here and then America’s version here. You can hear the difference because Dan found the answer.

Listen

Monday, July 30th, 2018

Just listen.

https://youtu.be/sIaT8Jl2zpI

I failed to post a song yesterday. Got busy. Watched Incredibles 2 with Jo (great movie. Laughed a lot).  Prayed for what to write or say.

N.O.T.H.I.N.G.

Then I remembered a song while returning from a chiropractor appointment that Jo played for me while we were coming back from Ohio this past Saturday. I couldn’t remember what it was…the name…the words. All I remember is the tears that formed in my eyes as I listened.

So I found it. And I want to share it. Profound. Insightful. Probing. Truth.

So listen…just listen…with an open mind and heart. I did.  (I’m not really this singer’s biggest fan. I like my music rockier). May this song be a light for you today and for you this week.

MS

Tuesday, July 24th, 2018

No, I am not writing this post to announce that I have MS. It is an announcement…an announcement of a different kind. It is actually an announcement welding together two parts of my life-one a passion; one a concern.

Anyone who knows me knows of my passion. Hint: take a look at my header. I have a two-headed passion. No, I am not two-headed. 🙂 I am a cyclist and I heavily support 3 Feet Please.

But I also have a concern, made more important because I have some friends who are sufferers. MS or Multiple Sclerosis. Marge is a vital part of OVCF, the church I pastor. Marge is involved in our worship team; her husband, Ray, is the primary “runner” of our soundboard. I have grown to love them both. Marge was diagnosed in 2000 with MS and was told it would be just months before she would be in a nursing home and to get a wheelchair. She refused to then; she still refuses to. She recently changed to a much less stressful job so that should help even more.  Her MS flares up upon occasion which makes it difficult for balance, but other than that no one would know.

Kirby Stogsdill is a well-known individual in our community. I’ve come to know Kirby through my involvement with the community in various ways. His two children graduated from Owen Valley with some of the kids from OVCF. Kirby and his family attend the local Methodist church in town. Super nice guy. I noticed him having trouble walking one day and a few days later I saw his daughter and asked her if her dad was okay. She said, “It is just his MS.” Well, knock me over with a feather. He was diagnosed in 2006 (shortly after I moved here and before I knew him). Every 6 months he receives an infusion (basically chemo he said) to hold his MS at bay.

On September 8th I am molding my passion for cycling and 3 Feet Please with my love for Marge and Kirby and others like them to take part in the MS150 ride in Lebanon, IN. Dave (from 3 Feet Please) and I formed a team…oddly enough 3 Feet Please…to ride in the MS150. He is making the trip from Arizona to do so.  A young lady, Cassie, who is Marge’s daughter, has also signed up to ride with us.

HERE IS WHERE YOU COME IN!  The team has committed $600 and we have already reached that goal. I have committed to raise $300 and am 1/3 there. I would be honored if you would donate to MS in my name. Here’s how you do it. Go to the MS150 site. Go to the Donate tab and type in my name: Bill Grandi. It will show you my name and click on View. Yeah…you get a picture of me and Dave. I’m the good looking one. 🙂 Above the picture is DONATE TO BILL. Click there and follow the directions. And just to be clear: I receive nothing from this except the satisfaction of riding for a good cause. All donations go to MS Research.

Marge says thanks. Kirby says thanks. All the MS folks say thanks. And I say thanks. I’d like to blow the lid off the donation box. (Note: I received permission from both Marge and Kirby to share their story).

GRACE

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

I recently shared this on my other blog, Be Transformed, and decided it needed to be “heard” by more. It had so much power, so much oomph, that I could not pass it by. I wrote it in my journal so I would have it, then used it in my post on Be Transformed.

My worst days are never so bad that I am beyond the reach of His grace. And my best days are never so good that I am beyond the need of God’s grace. Every day should be a day of relating to God on the basis of His grace alone. Jerry Bridges

WOW! Is that good or what?

I’m ashamed to admit this but there are times I take grace for granted. Not the “I can sin because I know God will forgive me” taking for granted. I just forget it is there for me. Days are tough and I forget because I am preoccupied. Days are good and I forget because I’m not hurting.

So…let’s make a vow together to live each day in grace. Up or down…Grace.

My song this week is from a man who knows grace…big time.  It is very upbeat and is a great way to start and then continue your week. Here’s your song for the week.

Surrender

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

I spoke today about Joshua’s last words to the people of Israel before “he went the way of all men.” (23: 14) Included in his last words is the very familiar challenge of 24:15:

CHOOSE THIS DAY WHOM YOU WILL SERVE

That phrase is more, and has to be more, than a cutesy little plaque we put on our living room wall or on the door which enters our home. I found something as I was studying which I never knew before.  The Hebrew construction of this verse (and I know no Hebrew so I take it the scholars are right) indicates what Joshua is saying is “I have chosen; I am choosing; and will go on choosing.”

Is that not cool or what?

That sort of lays to rest the cutesy plaque. That also puts to rest that coming to Jesus is a one-time deal. It is more than saying a prayer; signing on the dotted line; being baptized; making a public confession or any other form of admission to following Jesus. The life of following Jesus is one of surrender.

My video today is here. The lyrics are pretty clear as you listen. May it be your anthem for this week.

Words

Friday, July 13th, 2018

As in Last Words…

Last words are important. The last words I remember my father saying were that “I was a friend of the family.” His dementia had robbed him of knowing who I was because the last time I saw him he did not know who I was at all.

I remember the last words of Dan. After resisting the call to give his life to Christ, he eventually found himself in a tent of oxygen and dying. He finally allowed me to share Christ with him and even though he was unable to talk (or barely open his eyes), he squeezed my hand to let me know he had prayed to accept Christ. Then there was Jim.  He had constantly turned down any invitation to follow Jesus (but did go to church with his wife upon occasion).  He took a “shine” to me, even though they attended another church. While in the hospital he was unable to talk anymore and every time I would go to see him tons of family were around. So I finally wrote it all down, had his wife read it to him, and then he had her sign his name because he was unable to. A day or two later he entered eternity.

Last words can be done is so many ways. Vocally. Squeezing a hand. Signing a name. Blinking eyes. All are last words. I finish my series from Joshua this Sunday with Joshua’s last words to the people of Israel. To sum up his words I would put it this way:

REMEMBER THE PAST. DON’T STAY THERE. FOCUS ON THE FUTURE.