January, 2012

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Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

The past several weeks I have featured posts on Unchained here, here, here, and here.   Happily, they have become some of the most popular posts on “The Spin.”   Unfortunately, I haven’t had any new ones step forward to offer their story, so you are relegated to hearing from me.  🙁   I thought I would highlight some blogs that I have read this past week that said some “good stuff.”  But before I do that I would like to share an email I received.   In this post, I asked prayer for several families going through, shall we say, interesting times.  If you go to the end of that post you will see I had asked prayer for Jason & Andrea, a fellow pastor and blogger who pastors Breakthrough Church in Alaska.  He, Andrea and their three children went to Japan to adopt a young boy.   I had emailed Jason my post on Miracles, because their story of making it to Japan is truly one in itself.   This is the email I received from him.

I forget you’re not on Facebook–we’ve been updating every step of the way there. On Saturday in the rush of getting off a train, we lost our bag. That bag had between $600-$700, our prepaid rail passes to get us back to Tokyo, and OUR PASSPORTS (including the one for our new son that we had received the day before). Amazingly, that morning we gathered in prayer as a family and I led us. The word I kept coming back to was ‘peace.’ From Saturday to Monday, I had a sense that God had his hand on the bag and we would get it back. When Monday morning came, we had to start contacting the Embassy and figuring out steps to take if the bag didn’t return. The hardest one was my wife calling the social services about replacing our son’s Japanese passport, but while she was on the phone with the social worker, we got the call that they had found the bag! We weren’t sure exactly how much was in my wife’s wallet, but if someone took some, they didn’t take it all. The main thing was those passports! Replacing those and the rail passes would have been thousands of dollars (we didn’t have), but God turned it around and we celebrated thoroughly! Thought you might enjoy hearing that. Besides those here, you’re the first one to hear the whole story. 🙂

Is that not insane how God came through?  I got chills when I read that…and I’m not a chilly-kind of guy.   I know there will be skeptics who will pooh-pooh the whole thing, but that will not change the story.   🙂


My word count is getting high so let me just give you a post or two I think you ought to check out.

Two on the money!  Here and here.  One word about the latter one: BAM!

 For your funny bone: here.

Made me think:  here.

More?  Sure. But enough for now.  The title came from my favorite movie, Back to the Future, where Biff knocks on George’s forehead and says, “Think McFly.  Think.”  I believe that many of us have stopped thinking.  Enjoy.  Any you particularly liked?  Any links you would like to share for me and other readers? 

Do you have an Unchained story you would like to share. Email me: pastor (at) ovcf.org. 


Monday, January 30th, 2012

I mentioned in this post that I had attended The Elephant Room last week and that I hoped to share some of my thoughts with you.  (I know you have been waiting with baited breath for my eloquent lessons)  🙂  I took some notes as I was able (room was dark; they talked sort of fast; I couldn’t pause or rewind; and I can’t think of what was said, if I am trying to listen to what is being said).  I will be able to do that when I get the DVDs.  The next day though I sat down and went through the notes I was able to take and wrote the following thoughts/quotes in my Moleskine.  When you get the pastors who were there in one room, a ton of stuff gets said that goes unrecorded by hand.  So…here are some thoughts for you to consider.  Mine follow.

Do I want to make a point or do I want to make a difference?

Gut punch!  So many people/leaders have their own agenda, and they want to make sure YOU GET THEIR POINT!  Sadly, that is often at the demise of making a difference in someone’s life.  It has been my experience that sometimes, no matter how “right” I think I am, it is better to lay aside my point for the sake of making a difference in a life.  I am not talking compromise of truth, but even that can be handled more tactfully at times.

Will I be a Kingdom builder or an empire builder?

Please notice the capital “K” in Kingdom.  I did not write down who said this, but it stuck with me.   I have no pretense of building an empire in my small corner of the world, although I have seen some small town/small church pastors walk around like a banty rooster, lording over their “chicks,” attempting to keep them under claw.  If God chooses to grow any ministry, it should be His fame that gets spread;  not ours.

Ministry is not a right; it is a privilege.

Pastor James MacDonald made this statement.  I can almost picture when he said it; it hit me that hard.  I used to think because I was a pastor I should get special treatment.  What garbage!  I am honored that God has chosen me to do what I do, but I would hope that if, for some reason it was stripped from me, I would still serve Him.

I teach what I know;  I reproduce what I am.

WOW!!  That is loaded!!  So many thoughts come to mind, but I will let you draw your own on that one.   If you get a chance, check out this post that is sort of along the same line.

Okay, so now it is your turn.  Of the four statements, which one “clocked” you a good one?  Why?  I would like to hear from you and get your thoughts. 


Sunday, January 29th, 2012

The year was 1982.  I seem to be able to remember it like it was yesterday.  We, as a family (girls age 7 and 3), had gone to a Christian family camp.  It was the first time we had ever camped in a tent.  That is a story in itself.  🙂  The last day of the camp was Friday morning.  Late Thursday afternoon a storm came through (they say it was the tail end of a tornado).  We were in a session with adults and the girls were with the kids program, and had actually been separated for class.  After the storm passed (it was ugly), we made our way quickly to where the kids were and found Tami.  Ever the diligent older sister, she was crying because she couldn’t find Janna.  We took her hand and found Janna with some adults,  a little scared but safe.  We went back to our canvas tent to find it soaked.  We made due for the night and the next morning pulled away.  I had 1/2 tank of gas to get us home, and due to some unexpected expenses, we had enough money to grab a snack breakfast.  The camp was easily 3-4 hours away and I began to pray: “Lord, I have 1/2 tank of gas left; some young children; and no money.  Please get us home.”  I was driving a 1980 Chevy Citation, loaded to the gills, and we made it all the way home.  THE GAS GAUGE NEVER MOVED!  I know, I know.  Some will read that with skepticism, but it is true.  The gauge never moved.


We knew we would be coming home to empty cupboards.   We unloaded and then I checked the mail that had come while we were gone.  I saw an envelope from a pastor/friend in Ohio.  Remember: this is August.  Enclosed was a check for $100 with a note: “Bill, I just found out that we never paid you for speaking at our Prayer Breakfast.  Find that check enclosed.  Forgive me for forgetting.”

Did I tell you the check came in August

Did I also tell you that I spoke at the Prayer Breakfast in December

Ask me if I believe in luck, chance or coincidence.  You would be better off asking me if I believe in prayer.  Jeremiah 33:3 says,  “Call to me and I will answer you, and tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”   God was big into show-n-tell during that stretch of our lives.  He can do show-n-tell any time He wants!  🙂

I used this story to close my sermon and the “Transformed by Prayer” series Sunday.  It is a lesson that I/we have never forgotten.  Have we worried since then?  Yes, I am ashamed to admit.  But God always pulls me back to that story.  He is in the “showing you great and hidden things” business.  How about you?  Has He done something amazing for you?  Why not share it with us? 



Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Have you heard the story about the history of Levis?  David Jeremiah in his book Signs of Life tells it (edited for space):

Levi opened a textile mill in SanFran.  One day a gold miner walked into the shop and started in on him: ‘Look at these. I bought these 6 months ago, and they’re full of holes.’   When asked why the miner told him they worked on their knees most of the time.  Levi knew they needed stronger fabric for the knees, so he suggested canvas.  The rest is history, as they say.  Soon miners across the West were wearing Levi Strauss’ jeans.  (p.83)

It is said that James, Jesus’ brother, had the nickname “Camel Knees” because he spent so much time on his knees praying.  William Cowper, a poet and hymn writer , once said, “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.”  All month long I have been focusing on “Transformed by Prayer.”   My sermon this week is on “Worn-out Knees.”   I am not saying this to garner any sighs or pities, but I truly don’t feel adequate in preaching on this subject.  I am very, no make that VERY aware, of my lack in the praying department.  Basketball and age have caught up with me so kneeling long-term is an almost physical impossibility.  But that is not what I am speaking about.  A person doesn’t have to physically kneel to pray; not if he has his heart kneeling.  A person doesn’t have to physically bow his head; not if he has his heart bowed in submission.  What does bother me is not the kneeling part, but the submission part.  And the practicing part…the doing part.

My Scripture for Sunday is Jeremiah 33:1-3.  There are some amazing truths in those 3 short verses.  We would do well to see and apply them.   Hudson Taylor once told a missionary couple who was getting ready to move to China: “You must move forward on your knees.”   That is my prayer for you…for me…for all Christ-followers.  I like the way the Christian rock group, Petra, once put it: “Get on your knees and fight like a man.”

I am showing this lyric video Sunday.   To see the original video that will stir your soul, check it out here.  I pray for a revolution to happen in my life, in the church I pastor, and in your life.  Are you praying that God will move in your heart?  Are you praying that God will do a revolution in your church?  Join me won’t you?

Thanks to Dan for an awesome banner this month.


Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

I attended the Elephant Room on Wednesday in Louisville, KY and had planned on sharing some thoughts about it in this post.  However, it dawned on me that I would be getting home late Wednesday night and would probably definitely crawl quickly into bed when I got home, so the last thing I will want to do is stay up and write a post.  I will save that for a post or two next week.   So, I thought I would write a post as a PS. of this post from Tuesday by using a quote/section of the narrative to make a point.

To set the stage (without giving too much of it away): Michael, the main character, has just found out where his assignment will be. It was not what/where he thought it was going to be.  As he talked to his sponsor about it, the following conversation ensued:

Michael, the future of our church is in grave doubt.  If there is a future, then you and others like you are that future.  It will be better for you to be on the periphery than at the center because the center is rotting and collapsing. The future of the church is at the edges, and there you’ll find a willingness to abandon what’s dead, to meet the spiritual need, to fearlessly preach the gospel-that is our way to survival. 

There has been a lot of talk lately about research that has been done, and how the young people are leaving the church in droves.  The 15-29 are fed up with “organized religion” and are exiting the church.  Research has also found they are fed up with…are you ready for this?…entertainment and being entertained when they do go.  I about blew what was in my mouth all over my keyboard when I read that. What an indictment against today’s media/entertainment oriented churches that think “give ’em hype, give ’em loud music, and they will come.”   Ironically, the article I read also said they were heading  back to churches that preached the Bible and included some hymns in their worship.  (Time for a Gibbs slap here).  Do you mean to tell me that all those who have been saying, “Preach the Bible.  Be true to the Word.  Don’t pander to the masses” may actually be right?

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is exactly what I am saying.  Deemed old-fashioned by the “hip dudes,” Biblical preaching is what they are craving.  Connecting with God in worship is what they are looking for.  As Michael’s sponsor was saying, the center (the “in” group) has lost its way.  It is those who maintain biblical integrity, who fearlessly preach the gospel, who are the future of the church.   Even the video that went viral last week missed the point if you look closely.

Perhaps the best way to close this is with the closing of that conversation:

You are a remarkable young man.  You will do great things, Michael, not as the world defines them, but great in the way God defines them.

Well spoken words.  What are your thoughts about the future of the church?  Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts?  Feel free to express your thoughts. 

By the way: one of the comments asked where I found the stats about young people leaving the church.  You can find that article here:


Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

The fourth installment of Unchained is written by fellow blogger, Jon Jacobs, who blogs at Imperfectly Perfect.  When I asked for volunteers to contribute, Jon stepped forward.  I like that in a young man!  It sure beats twisting someone’s arm!  🙂  Jon’s story is somewhat different than the other three, which you can read here, and here, and here.   I met Jon by way of blogging and have come to really respect this young man’s thoughts.   He shows a heart for God that I wish I had had when I was his age.  Take your time and read through his thoughts and then feel free to comment after reading.

One of my all time favorite books is Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. Miller is very honest in the way he writes, and even though, our stories are vastly different, I could still relate to his feelings on the church. When Bill asked me to write a post on my own personal experience, I immediately thought of that book.  I had wanted to pull up a quote from the book, but, not surprisingly, I have no idea where my copy of the book is. Funny, how that always seems to happen. Anyways, there is a part in the book, where Miller accounts his own churchgoing experience, and essentially, he states that sometimes a church is not for you.

I’d like to use that same line of thinking with my own personal experience. Also, I’d like to state, that my intention here is not to bad mouth anyone, but rather, shed some perspective on what I believe is a very important issue. Now, when I was thinking about what to exactly write, my mind was going in a thousand different directions. I could go on for pages about this and that, but I’m pretty sure you don’t want to read that, and I don’t really want to write that, either. 😉 Yet, one thing, really stood out to me: the youth.

I’m 22 years old, and I believe, one of the most fundamentally important things, about any church, is that there should be an environment that encourages future generations. I believe this aspect was sorely missing from the church that I grew up in. On paper, I guess you could say we had those kinds of things; we had Sunday school, we had monthly “youth” meetings, we had those yearly type celebrations…just to name a few. However, the problem was that, I never felt comfortable in my own skin, and I know I wasn’t the only one.

Our Sunday School felt really tedious; there were grades for different age groups with a curriculum. Obviously, when you’re a little kid, you don’t really know what you’re doing, but the bigger issue, was when I got to the older grades. The classes felt more like a lecture rather than a discussion. We memorized verses, but honestly, I couldn’t even recite half of them to you know (or tell you what they really meant). Also, Jesus isn’t boring, but it sure felt that way. Looking back at that time, I really wish we could actually talk about things that teens dealt with, how those lessons, those verses, could apply to our lives….to my life. But, we didn’t.

That really is the core of the problem that I faced at my home church. We didn’t talk about anything…everything was just swept under the rug. Not only did we not talk about anything, we weren’t really comfortable to talk about pressing issues. Why? Well, because, Sunday after Sunday, we were being told what we should and shouldn’t be doing. TV was bad…you were kind of looked down upon if you did have one. No one should go to the movie theaters because that was bad. Girls shouldn’t wear pants, or makeup, or jewelry. It was just a bunch of rules shoved down our throats.

Now, I don’t know about you, but no one wants to really hear that on a weekly basis, especially if you’re a teen or young adult. The sad thing is that it pushed a lot of the older youth away from the church. As a teen, I saw so many of the older kids leave, or just pretend to care. I knew what was going on; they knew what was going on….everyone was just saving face, playing the Sunday game.

The situation makes me sad because there are a lot of things; I wish I had said back then. Things, I wish I could get off my chest had I felt comfortable enough. Teens go through a whole lot of things, and to just ignore problems, just makes things worse down the road. The thing is, this is the future of the church, and, I truly believe, we should invest in them. Now, I’m not saying, ignore everyone else. What I am saying, is that there needs to be an environment where people don’t feel judged, where they see what the love of God really means. A place that cultivates community and allows people to form deep bonds. That’s what was missing from my home church.

I would also like to add before I wrap things up, that I am very thankful to my parents as well as my college experience. I got to really grow close to God during college; I was able to find a group, and church where I felt God’s presence, and I felt comfortable enough to talk about things. Also, to my parents, because they recognized the flaws with our home church, and were totally fine, when I told them that I’d be looking for another one. There’s a lot more I could say, but I’ll end it now.

Thank you for reading, and thank you, Bill for the opportunity to share a little bit of my story.

Thanks Jon for sharing your story.  I will be away for the day attending The Elephant Room with some other pastors.  I will okay comments but will not have time to comment.   Jon will keep up with that.  Thanks for reading. Would you like to submit a post for this series?  Email me: pastor (at) ovcf.org.


Monday, January 23rd, 2012






Strong words I know.  I don’t say that about many fiction books, mainly because to many pastors, fiction is a side dish.  For me, it is serves as part of my lifeblood.  It is no secret that I cycle (road bike).  But it is sort of hard to cycle, when ice and snow cover the roads (as they have been).  Temps the past couple of weeks  have been more like the winter weather we expect in Indiana.  Not much snow but cold, blowing wind, and Friday night we had some ice thrown into the mix.  Winter time becomes my hibernation time.  I either work a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle or read fiction books.  My latest was Dancing Priest by fellow blogger, Glynn Young.  Glynn blogs at Faith, Fiction, Friends.  This is his first book, and I certainly hope it won’t be his last.

I am going to speak in riddles for a moment to give you some insight into the book;

This book isn’t “deep,” but it is deep.

This book isn’t meant to be challenging, but it will challenge you.

This book isn’t meant to be a life-changer, but it is life-changing. 

“Okay Bill, explain yourself.”   Thought you’d never ask. 🙂  Glynn’s book is the story of several people, and the choices they make.  Michael is the main character, and even though he is Anglican (and I am not), I relate mostly to him for several reasons: he becomes a pastor, and he also cycles.  🙂  There are several other characters-some major players, and some are sort of “fill in” players (that I hope he will develop in the next book).    I felt some were left unfinished, but maybe that was the plan.  😉

I found myself with tears in my eyes on several occasions because of some of choices made. I found myself smiling sometimes.  Glynn introduces the bicycle world to the reader, does a better than average job making it understandable, but doesn’t dwell on it or overdo it.   I like that he doesn’t preach at his reader, but does get his point across about the importance of a relationship with Jesus.  It was cool watching him develop some of the skeptical characters (one in particular).  Michael, though not a perfect character (none of us are), has to make some tough decisions along the way.  I like how Glynn develops that process.

I am not a scholar, so I can’t tell you about the nuances of language, etc.  I can tell you that this is a good book, well worth your purchase.  You will be glad you bought it.  You can also get it for your Kindle or Nook.  Personally, I like book in hand.  🙂  Well done, Glynn!

I bought this book on my own and this review is totally unsolicited.  That means I get to say what I want.  😛   I say, “Buy it!”


Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

This is going to be a two-pronged post.  Hopefully you will stay with me.  🙂

This afternoon (Sunday) I did a memorial service for a couple whose little girl went to be with Jesus 20 minutes after birth.   I mentioned her  birth/death here.  She had actually been born January 4th.   Her brother is still doing well, although he is in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Indy.  Being a pastor is sometimes fun. Sometimes it isn’t.  The latter is the case here.  However, it does offer one of the greatest times to give hope.  I have absolutely NO DOUBT where she is right now.  I was able to offer the parents/grandparents/friends that hope this afternoon.

I love that passage in Mark 10:13-16 where Jesus rebukes the disciples for shoving away the little children.  If there is ever a passage that shows the heart of Jesus toward children it is that one.  I have never experienced the loss of a child, so the last thing I would ever think of doing is saying, “I know how you feel.”  Not only is that a bold-faced lie, but unless one has been through that kind of loss, it is best to keep the trap shut.  Know what I mean?  Pastors…or any person…although well-meaning, can do unrepairable damage by pretending.  I would like to ask you to say a prayer for Joe & Erin and baby Joe.  We have prayed each week for them, and Joe told me they would like to come and visit.  Almost their whole day is spent at the hospital, so when Joe gets out (6 more weeks at least), maybe they will.  I sincerely hope so we can continue ministering to them.


In the interest of space (and word count), I’d like to just give you the Scripture I used for the questions/statements from the message. To see those questions/statements go here.   I will just give the number and the Scripture will follow.

#1:  Psalm 8:3-4139:13-18

#2: Matthew 7:7-11; Romans 8:28-29; Eccl. 3:11

#3: Luke 11:5-13; 18:1-8  Jesus taught these two parables to teach men not to be discouraged in their prayer lives, not to bug God until He gets upset enough to finally grant our request.

#4: Romans 8:26-27; Jn.14:26-27

#5:  no Scripture directly.  I did say this: sometimes being a follower of Jesus puts us under greater trial so we can be a tribute to Him, so we can bring glory to His Name. 

#6: James 1:5-8  God wants us to ask Him, not for Him, but for us!

#7: No specific Scripture but two questions to consider: 1) Are you listening to God; and 2) Are you harboring anything against anyone?

To say I am a little spacy would be an understatement, to be honest.  🙂   I look forward to putting my head on my pillow tonight.  🙂  Thanks for your prayers for Joe & Erin.  Thanks for your prayers for me.  Say a prayer for Jason & Andrea as they are  in Japan adopting a little boy.  Keep praying for Dan, Ashley and Logan Black.  Anyone else you want to add to that list? 


Friday, January 20th, 2012

Where do you go when you have a question?  Better yet, where do you go when you have a question AND need an answer?   I think we can be honest and admit that we all have questions.  Some are easy to answer, like “Daddy, who made God?”  You know…easy ones like that.  😛  Then there are the hard ones like, “Daddy, where do babies come from?”  The answer to that one is simple: “Go ask your mom.”

Just kidding, of course.  Tough questions are a parent’s worst nightmare… from the simple ones like “Who made God?” (Answer: I don’t know); to the really hard ones that test a parent’s moxie.  Jenn recently posted about a tough question Shiloh asked here, but I believe she answered it correctly.  How about this one: “Daddy/mommy, I heard “this word.”  What does it mean?”   What parent alive hasn’t had those uncomfortable moments?

I recently posed a challenge to the people of the church I pastor.  I also posed that same challenge to my readers here.  In case you are unable to do the “link thingy,” I asked the folks at the church (and you) to write down any question about prayer they/you may have for a sermon I was preparing for January.  This week is that sermon.   To be totally honest, I don’t fashion myself as some “Question Answer Man.”  I am a student myself with a ton of questions.  But I have taken the questions/statements and worked hard to answer them.  Here they are:

#1: I am too insignificant for God to even spend His time listening to me.

#2: The answer will be something I don’t want to hear or am not prepared to hear.

#3: I’ve prayed for this before and I think God is tired of hearing about it, or He’ll be mad that I keep asking.

#4: I don’t pray because sometimes I don’t know the words to say.

#5: It is easy to pray when things seem to be beyond my control, and I need to look to God for help and guidance.  We sometimes forget to pray when everything appears to be going well.

#6: God already knows what I am going to say; He already knows my needs; why should I pray?

#7: I am praying but it seems like either I am not getting an answer or God simply isn’t listening.

Whew!  Makes me sweat just typing them.  🙂  Of course, you realize there are a ton more I could deal with.  I took the easy ones.  😉  I am not naive enough to think I will be able to answer these questions to everyone’s satisfaction, but it is a start.  Hopefully it will be a start for dialogue and some good old-fashioned digging into the Word.

I’ll let you know Monday how it turned out.  Or you can listen to the podcast and let me know what you think.  Seriously, please pray for me.  It is a whole new approach for me.  Thanks ahead of time.  Do you have any questions about prayer? 


Wednesday, January 18th, 2012




WHO IS NUMBER TWO IN YOUR LIFE?  Better yet, who is second?

Please look to the right of this post.  Look at the Badges section.  You will see I AM SECOND in a big, bold rectangle.   I suspect that is hardly new to most of you.  I Am Second has been around for several years now and has been making an impact in the lives of many people.  They are making that impact because of Whom they represent and what they represent.  It features athletes, musicians, artists, adulterers, divorced, and (fill in the blank).  Some are household names; some are not.  You will find people from all races; all walks of life.  Some are young; some are old(er).  But no matter who they are…they all have one thing in common: they are second.  Second because Jesus is first.

Several weeks ago I bought I Am Second, but was in the process of reading another book that I needed to finish.  Monday afternoon I started reading it and didn’t stop until I was done (except for supper with Jo). I even stayed up later than normal. 🙂  I laughed.  I shed tears.  I choked down emotions.  I praised God for lives HE changed.  MLB PlayerJosh Hamilton.  Former KORN guitarist Brian “Head” Welch. “Biggest Loser” Michelle Aguilar. “Porn Again Pastor” Nate Larkin.  Skateboarder Brian Sumner.  Surfer Bethany Hamilton.  NFL Player Sam Bradford.  UFC fighter Vitor Belfort. And more.  The website has a whole list of “I Am Second” people with their video testimony.  The newest is country singer Josh Turner.  Not all the stories are about being strung out on drugs or alcohol.  Some were abused. One was a hater.  One couple divorced after an affair and remarried over 10 years later.  Some overcame fear.  If you are at all like me, you deal with people like this all the time.  You may even be one.   The whole principle of the book and the I Am Second movement can be summed up into 5 words:



I don’t have the time to sit down and watch unlimited videos, like I do reading.  For people who don’t like to read, by all means, watch them.  But, for me, this book was the answer.   For sure the videos show the “human” side of the person as they sit in a chair and tell their story.   The book told a little more.  It isn’t heavy reading.  Don’t expect a theological treatise.  But DO EXPECT God to rock your world!  You will not be the same.

Have you read this book yet?  Any thoughts?  If you haven’t I hope I have encouraged you to buy it and read it.