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Drowning

Friday, February 15th, 2019

It sounds somewhat presumptuous to say, “No one should worry.” Even as I write that or say that I feel like I should have a shield or some armor or at least plan to duck. Within any room; within any event; within any church, work, or school, there are worriers.  Research has shown that worry causes serious health issues: ulcers, colitis, nerves, sleeplessness, and a host of other ailments.

As I began working on the theme for this year (Unsinkable), I also began working on some sermon ideas. One of the ones I came up with was “Icebergs,” those things which can sink us or our faith.  It is common knowledge Titanic was sunk by an iceberg which was under the surface. Many people’s faith is sunk by icebergs under the surface.  One of the biggest, but one often given credence by us as “concern” is worry.

My sermon Sunday is from Psalm 37:1-11 and verse 23. This happens to be one of my favorite in the Bible so I’m looking forward to it. The writer of this psalm makes it really easy for even the casual reader by telling us what the solution to worry is by highlighting some words at the beginning of the verses: Trust. Delight. Commit. Be still. Refrain.  I’ll finish out by talking about “the steps of a man are established by the Lord…when he delights in His way.”

Thanks for your prayers.

It’s been a busy week so the blog took a backseat. Thanks for being patient.

Faith/Feelings?

Friday, February 8th, 2019

First, let me just say we needed Noah the past two or three days. It has rained like “cats and dogs.” So much so that school was let out early today (Thursday) and some of the kids were stuck at school anyway because the buses couldn’t get through. One school had all three access ways flooded. Oh…but tonight!!! It is supposed to go down to 18 degrees. Talk about a royal mess!

Anyway…now for my regularly scheduled post.  🙂

The battle between faith and feelings has been and will continue to be ongoing. There are many who doubt God’s faithfulness and love because their feelings have betrayed them. Enter Psalm 13.  I wrote about this psalm at my other blog here on January 8. When I decided to extend my sermon series on Psalms I decided to incorporate this Psalm into that series. I’m not going to reiterate here what I wrote there. I’d like to ask you to venture over there.

But one thing I do want to emphasize is what kept David anchored were his beliefs in the certainty of God’s character, based on the certainty of God’s promises, even though his feelings were all over the map. We would do well to do the same.

It has been a crazy week for me so I have not posted much on this blog. I do post every day at my other one since it is more devotional and based on my morning Quiet Time and journal. But I do covet your prayers this Sunday.

EarlyBird

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

Here in Indiana this morning when I came to work it was 4 degrees (so said my mirror. It blows up at 0) but the wind chill is supposed to be near -35 or something ridiculous like that.  Other reports say -40. I mean, what is another -5 degrees when it is already so cold it freezes your breath before it even leaves your tightly closed lips? So it might seem a bit strange that I would write about this subject.

Think August. Around these parts they call them the “dog days of August.” That’s because after a hot, sweltering summer, August usually says, “Ha. You think it has been hot and sweltery? Take a look at this!” When it is this cold I dream of days of 90+ when I can ride or go outside or have the AC in my truck and house. Not now. I couldn’t get my AC this cold if I tried. If I could maybe it would serve as a “warm up” or “conditioning” to winter weather! Nah.

Anyway, they say “the early bird catches the worm.” I’m not interested in birds or worms, however, I am interested in presenting something to you. Last September I was supposed to participate in the MS150 ride in Lebanon, IN.  But it was the weekend we were trying to recreate Noah and the Ark. Actually, I think God was reminding us what it was like. We had, in one weekend, from 7-12″ of rain. So the ride was cancelled. I was bummed. I had trained for it and my friend, Dave from Arizona, was here to ride it also. I’m guessing they decided to change the date hoping August would be drier than September.

On August 17 I will be planning to ride the MS150.  It is a fun ride but it is also a fun(d)-raising ride for MS research. My goal this year is $800. Last year it was $500 and I surpassed that. I upped the ante this year and hope to surpass it again. From frigid January to a “balmy” August, I have just over 6 months to raise that amount. I would be honored if you would donate toward the MS150 ride in my name. If you go here to my page and follow directions, it will allow you to do so. I am sponsoring a team called 3 Feet Please, something I happen to be rather passionate about. 🙂  Bet you can’t tell!! (See header)

I’m not going to hound you here. I will remind you from time to time about it. I do hope you will consider helping the cause. I get nothing for this. No kickback. No financial reward. Just the satisfaction of doing something I love for friends like Kirby (a local friend) and Marge (a member of OVCF) and others who are suffering.  Thanks.

January??

Monday, January 7th, 2019

If I lived in Arizona as several of my online friends do, what I am about to write would not sound too crazy. If I lived in Florida, where some folks from the church are visiting and some old friends from the church now live, you would not think I sound crazy.

It’s January here in Indiana. January 6th (yesterday) to be exact. You know…the land of cold and ice and snow. Not like Norway, Sweden or even Canada. But the land of cold and ice and snow. (Cue Led Zepplin here)

I rode my bike yesterday. I rode my bike Saturday as well. 14. 5 on Saturday. 17.5 on Sunday. What gives? A bike with snow shoes or ice crampons? A road bike with huge treaded (not a word) tires made for mountain biking? Wrong on both counts.

Weather in the high 40s/low 50s on Saturday. When I started on Sunday my truck thermometer read 60+ degrees.  I was wise. There have been times I have ridden and been under-dressed and shivered my way home.  I recently found out the gloves I bought for winter riding were only good down to about 30. After that…shiver me fingers. They hurt so bad I cut a couple of rides short. But Saturday I worked up a good sweat. Sunday I worked up a good sweat but was also smart in that I packed some liners for my short-fingered gloves and a headband for my ears.  It is crazy how quickly it cools off when the sun goes down.

I enjoyed my two days of decent-weather riding. Makes me long for warm weather riding which is just around the corner. (I’m an optimist).

Some things never change though. Thinking I was okay and forgetting that  in cold or warm weather proper nutrition is a must, I failed to hydrate and eat right when I was done. I paid the price during small group last night when an inner thigh cramp seized my whole upper leg and I had to get up and massage and stretch. Some things never change I guess. You’d think at the age of 66 and after years of riding I’d learn my lesson. Some heads are hard.

If I may, allow me a spiritual application. Learning from our mistakes is essential. Proverbs tells us “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The moment I get hard-hearted or hard-headed, I’m in trouble spiritually. I’m convinced a follower of Christ is never too old (or too young) to learn. I pray I never stop learning. I’d like to stop learning from all the dumb mistakes I make, but you gotta stop making them and that might never happen! 🙂

Difference

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

We often hear people talking about “making a difference.” Their desire to make a difference will have one of two affects. One, they will think about it; stew over it; lament over the state of things; cry over it; even speak about it; but do nothing about it!

There are also those who want to make a difference and it will change them. No longer satisfied to sit on the sidelines, they will become advocates and fight for something.

That is not a political statement. I despise politics-government, home, church, sports, and anywhere else where there are people who think they can throw their weight around and get what think is theirs. Even if it means lying, cheating, slandering, gossiping, and a host of other ugly things.

Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25 was not a political statement. Sheep on the right; goats on the left. Nope, not a political statement whatsoever. But it was a statement pertaining to following Jesus by caring for others. You have seen them: the hungry, naked, thirsty, lonely, in prison, homeless.  Making a difference in their lives is what Jesus is talking about. I asked a question Sunday: How do I make a difference?  How do I show compassion? I answered it this way:

Allow our heart to break.  Someone once said, “Break my heart with the things that break the heart of God.”  Melinda Gates, Bill’s wife, once said, “If you want to make a difference, you have to let your heart break.”

Ask God for a mission. Many missions are started because of personal experience. I’ve dreamed for years of opening a home for abused or “lost” woman. Our little community does not have the sex trafficking issue a big city does (at least that I know of) but alcohol and opioids have played havoc with families. Seems like daily I read of another bust or broken home and children finding their way to DCS. Scary thought that.

Making a difference starts with me. With you. And one person at a time. But we have to start.

ReturningtoReclaim

Friday, October 26th, 2018

Every year the church I pastor, Owen Valley Christian Fellowship, has an anniversary. (I’m sure that is news. But it is good news!)

Every year Ryan (our youth pastor) and I give a “State of the Church” address. We reiterate our Mission and Vision to the people in order to keep it in front of them.

Every year we follow that with a celebration. A Pitch-in dinner and some good old laughing and talking…and, of course, good old eating some good old food.

This year is no different. Only this year there is a twist…or two. About 2-3 months ago, at the request of the other leaders,  I was asked to keep the growth of the church in front of the people. So I developed what I called FIT. No, it is not a fitness group. FIT stands for Future Initiative Team. We have met twice now and have pinpointed some future ideas of what we need/should/could possibly do down the road. We then delineated them into “Big Ticket Items”; “Items which need our attention but in time”; and “Items which require immediate attention.”  We brainstormed quite an extensive list and this past meeting I “assigned” and asked for volunteers to follow up on the items, especially the immediate ones.  Long story short: following the message this Sunday, I’ll be giving a brief presentation of what we have come up with.

The other twist is the Dedication of our new Youth Addition. I’m excited the Chamber of Commerce is coming to have a ribbon-cutting for us, along with Ryan talking (briefly) about what all is going on in the addition and I’ll close in prayer.

It will make for an exciting day. I’d certainly appreciate your prayers for us. Please ask God to put His hand on our young people and that we be wise in how our building is used. It was never intended to be used for us alone. Twice a week, for example, WRE (Weekly Religious Education), a totally voluntary program for the local school kids uses our building. The kids give up a free class time to attend. Ryan is heavily involved in it.

And lest I forget: Our Mission and Vision is as follows:

Mission: To Connect People to Jesus

Vision:

  • To be Passionate Pursuers of Jesus
  • To be models of Truth and Love
  • To be involved in our Community

I would appreciate your prayers for us this Sunday. A lot of people have had a hand in making this addition a reality. Youth Addition or not, the church (OVCF and as a whole) needs to do more celebrating. We intend to do just that.

Tips

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Not restaurant tips but helpful tips. Further explanation: I just finished a book by David Furman entitled Being There. David lives with a chronic nerve disease so he was passing along what it was like and also how we as friends and followers of Christ can just “be there” for people. One chapter was titled Whatever You Do, Don’t Do These Things.  He gave a list of 10 infamous things to remember when trying to help/minister to those who are hurting.

He introduces the tips with a story. I’ll abbreviate it. Two pilots were landing in a small city and accidentally touched down at a much smaller private airport seven miles away from their intended destination. They barely survived a crash landing. During their approach they were in touch with the control tower and were told they were 15 miles away from their target.  They responded they had their target in sight and were going to land.

Upon landing they had to stomp on their brakes extra hard to avoid going over a ledge, and nearly crashed the plane. They admitted to being shocked at their mistake and told investigators that they saw the lights of the airport in front of them and so they landed there. They honestly thought it was the right airport!

How crazy is that story? But it lends itself to what David is about to tell us.  It doesn’t matter how sincere you are if you are landing in the wrong place. We can be really sincere in trying to help people but saying and doing the wrong thing can be (or should I say “is?”) bad. It can be devastating to the hurting person. Okay…so what are his 10 “laws?” I’m going to split the 10 into 2 posts so as not to overwhelm or go too long.

#1. Don’t be the Fix-it Person.  Don’t be the person who offers unsolicited advice or unsolicited medical “miracles” to the person who is hurting. Don’t you think they have tried about everything already? I’m sure if they are seeking to be free from the chronic pain they have gone to a ton of doctors and have probably tried every homegrown recipe there is. Instead of advice, ask questions to understand them and their situation better.

#2. Don’t Play the Comparison Game.  When you talk to people don’t try to compare their sickness, pain, illness to yours or someone else. Your occasional gout flare-up is nothing like the pain from chemo. Your granny’s (from your third cousin removed) illness is not the same. Don’t compare the person with yours or anyone else.  Above all…don’t start with “At least”…they are better off or something cockeyed like that.

#3.  Don’t Make it Their Identity.  In other words, every time you see or talk to that person don’t ask them about their illness or their bank account or whatever it is that has them in pain. Don’t make that their identity. In fact, sometimes it is best just not to bring it up. Maybe a slight mention when it arises but stay away from identifying them with the illness or pain.

Okay…I’m going to stop there. This is getting way too long. I’ll continue with the next post. Hope these help.

MSagain

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

This early Thursday morning finds me driving to Methodist Hospital in Indy for a lady in the church who is having a very delicate brain surgery for what is called AVM. It is way too complicated for me to tell you about it so I have given you the link. Her name is Karen and I know she would appreciate your prayers.

So rather than write a new post, I thought I would ask you to pray for her.

But I’d also like to draw your attention to my MS post. I received an email yesterday (Wednesday) telling me I had reached my fundraising goal. But I want to keep going!! If you haven’t already done so and would consider helping out, please follow the prompts from the MS post.

I sure do appreciate your help. Oh…one of the comments to the post is from a woman named Amanda. She attended the church I pastored in Terre Haute (I left in 2000) and I had the privilege of performing the marriage of her dad and his wife. Please take the time to read her comment. I’m making a donation in her name to MS.

Thanks again.

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).

Relief

Sunday, April 15th, 2018

Welcome to my Sunday meanderings.

Have you ever noticed how sometimes things just seem to pile up?  We have those seasons when stuff happens, in spades. Not every once in awhile but what seems like an onslaught. As many of you have experienced, it isn’t just one thing; it is a myriad of things.

Cancer diagnosis in friends. (A complication in one came in while I was showering this morning).

Marriages falling apart.

Deaths of friends and the funerals which follow (3 in the last month).

A three-week old baby requiring open heart surgery.

A host of other “beat downs.”

Plus one very tired pastor who needs a break (which is coming).

I’m preaching about HOPE this morning. Hope in a forever home. Good thing I believe in that. If my hope is not connected to forever, my hope will somehow die.  For hope to be hope it must carry with it the promise that all which is broken will be repaired, and that it will remain repaired forever.

I’m glad I have Someone to lean on. If I didn’t I don’t know how I would handle this onslaught right now.  Maybe that is why I have chosen two songs for this week. They are throwbacks. The singer is Mark Farner, former lead singer for Grand Funk. His conversion is a great story but his music is timeless. His lyrics are clear so you shouldn’t have any trouble listening and understanding. So check out this song then go to this one.

Have a great week bolstered (as I am and will be) by the truth I serve an amazing God who understands.