October, 2017

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Masquerade

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

This is not about the evils/horror/(take your pick) of Halloween.

I couldn’t sleep. No, it wasn’t because of some heavy weight on my heart. I took an inadvertent nap. After a very busy day I sat down in my chair to read. Next thing I knew: Bam! It was a 1/2 hour later. Way too close to bedtime to take a 20-25 minute snooze. Stop I stayed up (actually got back out of bed) to spend some time reading my devotions for today (Tuesday). They were about costumes.

Spiritual fakery is one of the chief tools of the enemy. It is one of the key ingredients of spiritual blindness. 

I don’t know if Paul David Tripp planned for his devotion to focus on costumes or not but there it was.  He writes: “The kingdom of self is a costume kingdom. This is because one of the enemy’s most useful tools is the ability of wrong to imitate right.” 

Hallloween is all about masks. Who can hide who they really are the best? Many followers of Christ are becoming or are already adept at hiding who they really are. Present company included. Wearing the clothing of the personal kingdom to hide the real me. Often wearing a costume to cover me. Sin does that. Since sin wants to reign in me, can I expect anything less?

I’m thinking that maybe instead of spending so much time worrying about the rightness or wrongness off Halloween, maybe we should concern ourselves with our own masks & masquerade.

What do you think?

Integrity

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Part of my sermon Sunday was on being Authenticity-Minded. That brought in the subject of the title:

INTEGRITY

When I was studying I ran across a couple of quotes which said volumes to me and, of course, used:

Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. Mother Teresa

Another one came across loud and clear:

Integrity doesn’t come in degrees: low, medium, or high. You either have integrity or you don’t. Tony Dungy

It is never easy being real. Or honest. Or vulnerable. Or a person of integrity. Tragically we live in a world where people are more shocked by a display of integrity than the lack of it. More and more people are surprised when someone does something right or out of the ordinary to set things right than when someone fails.

Authenticity involves our integrity. Practicing integrity means our behavior matches our beliefs. But keep this in mind: personal integrity is not the same thing as your reputation. Your reputation is who other people think you are. Your integrity (or lack of it) is who you really are.

Craig Groeschel wrote a book called Alter Ego. In it he tells a story of when his golf coach caught him stealing a golf ball from a miniature golf course and kicked him off the team.  He said, “If you’ll steal a golf ball, you’ll steal other things.” After some pleading on Craig’s part, the coach took him outside to talk and said words Craig says he will never forget:

If you have integrity, that’s all that matters. And if you don’t have integrity, well…that’s really all that matters.

Wise, wise words. And in my mind, that about sums it up.  Any thoughts?

Lazered-in

Friday, October 27th, 2017

When our girls were born in 1975 and 1979 there were no such things as sonograms. Least we had never heard of them. Today, they are pretty much a staple in pregnancies. Most couples have a sonogram done because there is nothing quite like going to the doctor’s office, hearing the assuring rhythms of a little heartbeat, then seeing the image of the baby on the screen. The doctor prints off the black-and-white picture, says, “See that? You have a boy!”; and the parents treasure the opportunity to show their parents and friends, even posting it on social media. The wait for the birth seems excruciatingly painful (in more ways than one), but they do it for the sheer joy of holding the baby in their arms.

The sonogram (in theory) serves as a picture of what is to come. They provide wonderful images, but are really only a shadow of what is to come. And so it is with Scripture. The shadow of the OT gives way to the substance of the New.

There are two core values we hold dearly at OVCF which go hand in hand.  Those values are Word-Focused and Authenticity-Minded. As Paul told Timothy: “Continue in what you have learned…all Scripture is breathed out by God…” A proper focus on Scripture brings a proper focus upon our lives.

My sermon this morning continues the HILLS series by looking at our Core Values.

Jesus-Centered

Word-Focused

Authenticity-minded

I’ll cover the other two next week. Your prayers would be appreciated this week. Thanks.

Dreamer

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

Found on the inside of a yogurt cup:

I have always been a dreamer. But truthfully, I have not always known what to do with those dreams. Growing up I wanted to be a professional baseball player. I had no clue about training, sports camps, hitting camps, and all the extras. Then I wanted to be a professional basketball player, but again my knowledge was limited. I didn’t know about year-round training, lifting weights, strengthening my body and amping up my ability. I realized some success in college and was even told I was scouted my Junior Year (if you can believe what my father was told), but I was nowhere near good enough.

Dreams require a price to be paid. Dreams require bigger dreaming. Dreams require big goals. I’m proud of both of my daughters. Have I told you about my grandson yet?  🙂 I’m excited to be a part of their dreams.  Next week, Saturday, November 4th, Tami, our oldest, will fly to Phoenix for a Revelation Wellness retreat. It serves as a wellness effort but also will allow her to be certified as a wellness consultant. Her health issues have made her sensitive to other peoples’ needs for good health.  I’m proud of her as she has saved her money, paid for this trip, and will soon fly to chart a whole new experience for herself. She is pursuing her dreams. I couldn’t be more proud of her for trying something out of her comfort zone and spreading her wings.

Think Big. Dream Big. Those are two good phrases which describe Tami’s venture. You go girl!  And while you are it, would you please say a prayer for her as she travels and while she is there? God has been gripping her heart with the simple truth of His Word as she has studied for this class. Pray she will continue to listen. Thanks.

Reflections

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

I had every intention on posting this immediately but life got in the way. Plus…I needed time to process the weekend. So much was going on that my head literally “swam.” (I am still suffering from some vertigo so that is not far from the truth). 🙂

My day Thursday was highlighted by picking up a new friend at the airport. His name is Dave Waechter and he is now the leader of “3 Feet Please,” the advocacy group for giving cyclists three feet of safe distance when being passed. Dave and I hit it off immediately. He likes pizza. He loves ice cream. He loves cycling. He loves to talk. And even though he is a very intelligent man, never once did I feel he talked down to me. He is involved in IT consulting and has been with the Suicide Prevention Network in Tempe since it started. He has a good and kind heart. The death of his friend, Lynn, by being hit by a car while cycling has deeply affected him but he is using it to make things happen. The big disappointment (besides not being able to ride this trip) was his daughter, Nina, his cohort in cycling was unable to come with him. Dave fit into our family like we have known each other all our lives. Jo & Tami felt very comfortable with him. And I was particularly thrilled he enjoyed being with us Sunday and felt very at home.

Sunday was the really big day I wrote about in this post. Our celebration was super and, I believe, God-honoring. Ryan and I both talked to folks who were here. You can listen to the podcast if you’d like by going to the church’s website and clicking on the podcast. Because we both spoke it is a bit longer than normal. What I wish is you could have been here to listen to the people singing their praise. WOW! I literally stopped to listen and felt emotions well up within me. I honestly believe the people were “heart-engaged” and not just lip-engaged. We had some great food afterwards, along with laughing and joking, and a good time being with people. And the weather? WOW! I’m not sure we could have asked for more ideal weather. 70s. Sunny. A slight breeze. Just an all around beautiful day.

To bring even more drama into our weekend, we all attended the New Beginnings Pregnancy Resource Center banquet on Saturday night. Sunday night Dave and I went to our local theater, the Tivoli, to watch Luther.  This is the 500th year anniversary of the Reformation and Martin Luther started it all with his 95 Theses nailed the Wittenburg Church door.  I took Dave back to the Indianapolis airport at 5:30 this morning.

So I had a full but very good weekend. Thanks to all who were praying. Thanks to Dave for taking the time to come and visit. Here are two jokers joking:

Yeah…we are a tad bit strange but you gotta have some fun! Thanks for joining me today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebration!

Friday, October 20th, 2017

Who doesn’t like a good celebration? Or for that matter, who doesn’t like a good reason to have one?

This Sunday, OVCF will celebrate our 13th anniversary. We have not gone overboard with it. That will be saved for #15 I suspect. Our plan is simple: have one service that morning. Follow that with a pitch-in dinner hopefully using the shelter (if the weather cooperates). Eat until we can’t eats no more!

Ryan and I will be presenting our Mission and Vision. We tag team well and it makes for a nice break. They don’t have to listen to me ramble on. Nor do they have to listen to Ryan do the same. I’ll talk about the Mission (To Connect People to Jesus) and the first two points of our Vision: 1) To be passionate pursuers of Jesus, and 2) To be models of truth and love.  Ryan will pick it up from there and talk about 3) To be involved in the community. He has a Power Point presentation of the teens helping at IDES in Indy just last week.

Then we will answer a few questions the people posed to us about your future building and our current construction. All in the purpose of update and accountability.

Looks to be a great day! I’d appreciate your prayers for us as we celebrate what God has been, is doing, and will do.

Awakened

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Several years ago I reviewed a book by an online friend. It was called Shaken Awake by Allen Madding.  Since it was before I met many of you here, you can read my review of that book here. Several weeks ago, Allen contacted me and asked if I would review his newest book, Awakened.

Product Details

Shaken Awake was centered around a snow storm which hit Atlanta and literally crippled the city. After all, since when has it snowed like that in Atlanta? You can read my thoughts on Shaken Awake by reading the review.  Allen follows on the heels of that book with a sequel, which he has entitled Awakened.

The sequel follows the soul-stirring result of Pastor Sam and one of his leaders, Phil, as they are both moved to the depth of their soul because of the snow storm. Not only that, Pastor Sam is deeply rocked by the death of a homeless man on the steps of the Peachtree Church which he pastors. The church is in dire straits financially, as well as morale, and “what will we do about our future?” Pastor Sam comes in contact and befriends Fred, Miss Gladys, Lewis Davis and other homeless people in his continuing journey to come to grips with the homeless population and how he can help. We also meet others who are not part of the homeless community- community leaders, movers and shakers- who take an interest in the homeless of their city.

Eventually Pastor Sam and Phil hear of a community in Austin, TX (a real-live one in real life) called Community First! Village and its corresponding outreach called Mobile Loaves and Fishes, which has done an amazing job of listening to and addressing the needs of the homeless in Austin. That real life ministry is led by Alan Graham. After a visit to Community First!, Pastor Sam and Phil know they have their work cut out for them. Community First! is a planned community designed to address homelessness. (I have Alan’s book in my Amazon cart).

I don’t want to say any more about the gist of the book because I would have to put up Spoiler Alert! all over the place. So let me just encourage you to buy Allen’s book. I had trouble putting it down, but forced myself so I could go to bed several nights in a row. My reading time was limited so finding the time to read was a real struggle but I made time after I started reading. 10 minutes here. Half hour there. An hour or two here. That is how caught up I was in this book. My emotions were all over the place. My mind raced to make application to my little town. I want to do something to change this whole situation. I believe you will also be stirred by reading this book and may even want to become locally active in addressing the homeless situation in your community.

Allen has written a great book and has presented a doable challenge to all of us.

Politics

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

I’m not big on politics. Frankly they turn my stomach. I simply refuse to preach politics from the pulpit. I won’t endorse any candidate from the pulpit and seldom say much on a more personal level of discussion. But while the following article from Chuck Swindoll might be speaking of politics to start, it switches gears quickly and speaks about an even more insidious cancer which eats away at pastors, churches, and people in general. Here’s Chuck:

I see it every night on the news. The politics of backslapping and handshaking and making sure “so-and-so” isn’t turned off—it’s maddening! (We call it “smoke-blowing” here in Texas.)

At the end of the political rainbow the pot of gold is “favorable public opinion.” Period.

If we’re not careful, we can let politics work its way into our churches. And even worse, into our pulpits. In fact, the pastorate is a breeding ground for this sort of thing—maybe more than most professions.

I love the way the apostle Paul keeps our motives clean and focus sharp:

For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:4–5 NLT)

People-pleasing is a very tempting allurement, especially for people in ministry, because most of what we do gets done through people.

When needing volunteer positions filled—whether . . .

  • In the nursery
  • For a Sunday school class
  • Among the ushers
  • In our music ministry

It’s easy to massage our words and say more than we mean . . . or say something other than what we mean. (That’s called a lie.) The pastor must resist the temptation to flatter. We must refuse to play both sides against the middle.

Don’t go there. Why? Because once you start, it’s hard to stop.

When a pastor is a people-pleaser, he sits on the fence so as not to offend anyone. He remains neutral when he should NOT be playing it safe.

He tells people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear.

That’s not pastoring . . . that’s politics.

Look at the apostle’s words one more time. I find myself both challenged and refreshed by Paul’s transparency:

Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.

—Chuck

I spent way too many years as a people-pleaser, i.e. playing the political game. As I got older I realized that was a losing game. So today, while I try to be sensitive to people and their feelings, I also realize sometimes “politicians” can be the biggest hindrance to the church being the church.

Are you a people-pleaser? Is your pastor one? Are you part of the reason he is? Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Sunrise

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

One of the values of being on vacation is one has a choice: do I get up or do I stay in bed? Except for one morning, I chose to get up early. I got up, had my Quiet Time of reading my devotions, Bible and New Morning Mercies. I journaled so I could contribute to the online group “discussion” I have with 5 other guys, then I headed to the fitness center. I was impressed with the size and machines available. I didn’t get any pictures of my working out because I didn’t want anyone to be blown away by tested muscles…or by asking, “You work out?”  🙂

But what getting up early and heading downstairs to the center afforded me was opportunities to see scenes like these: 

And my favorite:

The latter was Sunday morning as we took our last walk on the beach before we left. We flew to Orlando on Monday, the 2nd, then on to Daytona Beach. But we needed to leave the timeshare by 10:00 Sunday and head back to Orlando. We were meeting old friends from OVCF, Caleb & Wendy Petree, for lunch. That was our timetable. The rental had different ideas as it wouldn’t start. So we waited for over an hour for a jump. We did get to meet up with the Petree’s.

I told the folks this past Sunday, “You can take the preacher out of his church but you can’t take the church out of the preacher.” So while we were walking the beach I had an audience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah…they didn’t listen very well. I couldn’t even keep the interest of the guy riding his bike. They were, for the most part, ignoring me. Go figure.

As I mentioned earlier, we made our way to Orlando to meet the Petree’s and went to an Irish pub at Disney Springs. The food was okay but the entertainment was superb! I felt like I was back watching Riverdance. The three musicians were fantastic, especially the female fiddler. The 4 dancers (2 guys/2 girls) were absolutely phenomenal. We sat right by the stage and saw it all up close. Their feet moved faster than my eyes could take it all in I think!

Monday, the 9th, was monumental on several fronts. First, we flew back to Indiana. Second, it was my 65th birthday. I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday than with my bride of 44+ years. We owe a debt of thanks to Jerry & Gail Horn who made it all possible with the gift of the timeshare. They have yet to realize the “salvation” they brought to me and Jo. After two bicycles wrecks, 2 surgeries, 2 brushes with death, it was much needed. So a very public thank you to Jerry & Gail. I kept their names quiet until after the fact. 🙂

That was our first walk on the beach. This is one I captured and I’m not sure she even knows.

And this tells our story. Tami says it is sappy. But…oh well…

Thanks for coming along on my journey. Hope you enjoyed it. I will be back to my regularly scheduled-type-of-posts in my next one.

Eatingandsuch

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

I’d like to continue my travelogue for a post or two more. Eating is a staple of any vacation…unless you are on a dieting vacation where you watch all you eat. That was my kind. I watched it from my plate to my mouth. Besides Aunt Catfishes we also ate at Joe’s Crabshack.

We have heard a lot about Joe’s but have never eaten there. It was a long walk down the beach to Joe’s but well worth it. I had shrimp and fish and Jo had fish and chips. Interesting fact: I asked our waiter if they had any hurricane damage and he said, “No. The windows are hurricane windows and stood the test.”  That certainly can’t be said of all the buildings around there.

On Thursday we took the suggestion of one of the men from the church and visited Ponce Inlet. They have a famous lighthouse there, a beautifully build brick one as you can see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ponce Inlet is named after Ponce de Leon, an early traveler and founder. The lighthouse had 203 steps and in the 85+ degree heat neither Jo nor I were willing to tackle walking the steps, especially with the $7 each price tag. So I settled for 3 souvenirs I brought back for Ryan, Diana, and myself. Here they are:

They are to remind us Jesus is the Light of the World and we shine His light for Him to be seen. The above picture on the right tells you a little bit about the lighthouse.

We were going to eat lunch at…are you ready for this name?…”Down the Hatch” but it was closed due to the hurricane damage it sustained. They catch the fish and bring it in and cook it right on the spot. I was sort of disappointed but that’s the way it is.

We weren’t the only ones who wanted to eat. As we walked away from Joe’s I saw these birds lined up along the top of the railing. I don’t know if they were looking for some unsuspecting person to play “bombs away” with or whether they were looking for food to scavenge. I told Jo they looked like they were getting ready to pounce.

And finally, don’t let them kid you they don’t have something for everyone. We were able to get Braden a t-shirt which said, “Legends are born in October.” Don’t have a picture of that one. But I do have a picture of one made just for me because they knew I was coming!

I know…sick. But had to have some fun along the way. Tomorrow will be my last travelogue journey. We had a tremendous week. I hope you enjoy coming along for the ride.