Opinion

...now browsing by category

 

#Listen#ListenFirst#ListenMore

Friday, July 23rd, 2021

A man consulted a doctor and told him his wife was going deaf. “I ask her what we are having for dinner and she doesn’t answer.”

“Bring her in,” the doctor said, “I’ll examine her.”

So the man brought his wife in. The doctor had her stand fifty feet away. He said to the man, “Go ahead and ask her what’s for dinner.”

“Hey honey,” he said, “what’s for dinner?”

Next, the doctor had the woman stand forty feet away.

“Hey, honey,” the man said, “I said, what’s for dinner?”

After going through this routine several times, the doctor finally had her stand five feet away.

“Hey, honey,” the man said, “for the sixth time, I said, what’s for dinner?”

The wife looked at the doctor then back at her husband. “And for the sixth time, I said, spaghetti!”

The man thought his wife had the hearing problem, but he was the one with the problem.  Sometimes we can be so sure of ourselves, so sure of something that we are hearing or not hearing, that the real message does not get through.

I don’t need to tell you how true that is when it comes to listening to a message/sermon or advice or to resolve a conflict.  We are so sure of ourselves that we hear but don’t really “hear.” That is especially true when we have to have the first word, the middle word and the last word.

Mark 4 is filled with teaching by Jesus that we need to listen to. My initial title was Listen First, Talk Second but after working on it I decided to change it to just LISTEN!  I would love to have you join me this Sunday if you can be here in person. If not, please check it out as we live stream both our services on YouTube or the church’s FB page.  And as always…if you can’t join either, your prayers would be most appreciated.

#Disrespect#CelebrateFreedom

Sunday, July 4th, 2021

I posted this Thursday but then needed to post my sermon for Sunday so I decided to repost it for the weekend.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY TO ALL OF YOU!!

Every week since the pandemic started thousands of years ago, I have put out a weekly Midweek Message that is emailed to everyone on our list. The link is posted on the church’s website as well as our FB page.  It is also picked up by our local Chamber of Commerce and posted on their page.  It is-generally-an informative letter to the folks of OVCF about happenings at the church and in the community, and it was (and still is) my effort to stay in touch (since for so long physical touch and presence were impossible).  I wrote the following in this week’s Midweek Message. I share it with you.

As many of you know, I try really hard to avoid politics in person, and especially from the pulpit. In fact, I can promise you that nothing political will come from the pulpit. But with July 4th coming up this Sunday I would like to add some thoughts to this MM. The most recent display of disrespect given by an “athlete” sort of raises my ire a bit. A female hammer thrower, who may have been ticked off more because she placed 3rd (who really knows?), turned her back on the flag during the playing of the National Anthem and then placed a t-shirt over her head. That kind of disrespect does not sit well with me when several things are considered. One, we still live in the greatest country on the planet. This country isn’t perfect but it is still the best place to live. I sometimes wish those who threaten to leave if they don’t get their way, would. Let them go where they don’t even have the freedom to say what they are saying about the U.S. Second, their actions disrespect all those who served, gave up their families and even their lives, to give us the freedom we enjoy. Third, it says that all those who fought for our initial freedom in 1776 were misguided. It spits in the eye of great men like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and others who saw a new horizon for us. It puts down all the men and women who served. It says to all the great African Americans like Martin Luther King, Jr, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas and others that they wasted their time and efforts to make a difference. Fourth, if they are so disgusted by the USA why are they competing for a place in Olympic history? As I post this, the protestor is trying to back pedal and rationalize. Hmmmm. This July 4th I hope you will take the time to celebrate living in a land of freedom. Are we perfect? No, of course not. Neither is the church, but I celebrate it anyway. Be proud of living in a free nation, made free by the blood of all races, colors and nationalities willing to serve and sacrifice.  Okay…off my soapbox. 🙂

The view expressed is mine and is not to be taken as speaking for OVCF, its leaders, or the staff.

#Dirty#Cleansed

Friday, June 25th, 2021

I read recently that some are convinced that if WWII did not happen the History Channel would not exist.  He goes on to explain that “it seems that the vast majority of HC’s programming either deals with the war in general or Hitler in particular.  Hitler’s bodyguards. Hitler’s hideouts. Hitler and the occult. Hitler’s suicide.” One of his henchman, Dr. Josef Mengele, was dubbed “The Angel of Death” because of his horrific work with Jewish prisoners.  He saw them as experiments to be played with, not as humans who were God’s image bearers.

Back in the late 70s/early 80s, pop singer, the late B.J.Thomas came out as a Christ-follower. A string of records and awards followed in the Christian music industry. I remember one of his songs was entitled Using Things and Loving People. That is the correct order. But sadly, we often tend to turn it around and say, “Love things and use people.”

How do you see people? For the past 2 months I have been preaching a series called “Eyes Wide Open” where I focused on how Jesus saw people.  The final sermon is this Sunday and it focuses on the woman caught in adultery in John 8.  A poster child for one who needed grace in a big way. And Jesus came through! But it causes me to question my own response to people.

Please join me in person or via live stream at 9 and 10:45. You can find the links to the live stream (the church’s FB page or YouTube) on the church’s website (ovcf.org). If you can’t be here or watch, then please say a prayer for us.

#Transformation#LittleMan

Friday, June 18th, 2021

“Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he/He climbed up in the Sycamore tree for the Lord He wanted to see/And as the Savior passed that way He looked at Him and smiled, and said, ‘Zacchaeus, you come down! For I’m going to your house today.’ “

Anyone who has been raised in a church has probably heard that childhood song.

I’m not going to say anything earth-shattering with my next statement: we live in a world that is deeply polarized. If 2020 and the beginning of 2021 taught us anything (besides certain organizations ought to be banned-dare I say cancelled?- and/or held accountable), it is this truth: we are deeply polarized. Divided. People take sides on so many levels and on so many topics-race, gender, politics, work, sports, neighborhoods, you name it- and we fight over those sides.

Sadly, many of Jesus’ followers are no different than our culture-now or even back in Jesus’ day. We have a critical (but not discerning) eye. We rant and rave about just about everything. I’m not opposed to taking a stand against certain inequities, but it can be done without ripping someone apart.

Imagine if Jesus had had that type of approach to people like Zacchaeus. He would have thrown him out of the tree instead of asking him to come down. Gone would have been the loving and caring approach He took toward all, except maybe the bulk of the Pharisees.

Zacchaeus’ life was transformed by his encounter with Jesus. I am praying for the same response in this Sunday’s message. As people see how Jesus responded to Zacchaeus, we see a perfect example of how we ought to approach someone who disagrees with us but is seeking something.

I would love to have you join me this Sunday at 9 or 10:45- either in person or online. If you can’t make it or have a church family of your own, then I would appreciate your prayers.

#48#Seriously?

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

I am going to take today’s “devotion day” off.  I know you are disappointed. I can hear your tears from here.  (I can dream can’t I?)

I have a good reason though. Sometimes I write a devotion that very morning and post it.  Sometimes I write and work a day or even two days ahead.  Today…I’m a slacker. But I have a good reason to be.

Today I have the honor of celebrating my 48th year with Jo as my wife.  Questions abound:

You mean she put up with you that long?

You mean she stuck around with you during all those moves?

You mean she stayed with you even with all your quirks (her words) and strong points (my words)?

The answer to all of those is Y.E.S.  Believe it or not the answer is a big fat YES.

Like all couples we were naive enough to think it was going to be all good.  I’m here to tell you honestly…it was not. But we never gave up. The “D” word never crossed our lips.  We never have had a fight. (She is a lousy fighter and arguing with a brick wall is no fun at all).

Instead, we had a lot of quiet nights and lousy sleep until we decided to hash it out lovingly. We talked about it. Cried with each other.  But never raised our voice with each other. Some might say that is not good.  But you have to know Jo. She is not very excitable (except at ball games).

We spent and spend a lot of time together…and still like each other. Go figure! And there is no one else I ‘d rather be with.  There are some things we do together. (Get your mind out of the gutter folks).  We like to eat out. We like to visit with friends. We love going to Ohio and supporting Janna and Braden, our grandson. We love Tami and are so proud of what she has become and who she is.

There are also some things we don’t do together.  I ride a bike. I work out at the Y. She does not do either. She hates exercise. I love it.

I am blessed. She does all my sermons for me on Power Point. She knows where I am going to go with a point she has done it so often. Although…I have been known to throw here a curveball every now and then.  We took our first “our couple” trip to Florida in 2017 because someone gifted us with it. It was the first time we went somewhere and knew no one. The in 2019 the church blessed us with a dream trip to Alaska to celebrate my 45 years as an “official” pastor.  I was ordained April 13, 1975 but had actually been a pastor in a church before that.  I started preaching in 1972. I am not ashamed to admit I would love to go back to Alaska. We dodged a bullet with that one

though. We had almost postponed it until September of 2020. Can anyone say COVID?

Long story short: Today is Jo’s day. Our plans are no plans. The only two things I know are 1) we will eat out somewhere; and 2) we plan to visit our church camp and see Pastor Ryan and the campers from the church around lunch time.

I have not been the perfect husband. Bet you are surprised. 🙂  But love her I do. And I know she loves me. How long this party will last only the Father knows.  But until then…I look forward to spending more years with Jo. I’d say “I love you honey” but she doesn’t read this and I would hate to think someone reading this would take that wrong.  And yeah…that is another of my quirks. She rolls her eyes a lot at my jokes (if she could roll her eyes. She rolls her head instead).  Okay…I better call it quits before she decides to read this and you end up reading my obituary.

Have a great day. See you, Lord willing, tomorrow morning. BTW: I wrote this Tuesday afternoon.

#Truth#Confrontation

Friday, June 11th, 2021

Sometimes I feel like my name ought to be George McFly. He is the father of Marty McFly in the movie Back to the Future. When Marty goes back into the past to 1955 he finds out his father was a milquetoast back then just as he is in 1985. There is one scene early on in the movie where Marty comes home to find the family car has been wrecked by Biff (the bully in the movies). Biff is bullying his dad and after Biff leaves, George looks at Marty and says, “I know, son, I know. But Biff is my boss and I guess I’m not very good at confrontation.”

I suspect not many of us are good at confrontation. In fact, if I was to make a list of “Worst Things To Do” or “Things I Despise Doing,”  I’m pretty sure confronting someone would not be high on most people’s list. Unless, of course, you are a sadist and enjoy making people’s lives miserable.

We all have toxic people in our lives, people we would just as soon not be around for any length of time…if at all. Jesus seemed to spend a lot of time around toxic people. They were called Pharisees. Sunday’s sermon, Eyes of Truth, is from Luke 7: 36-50. It is the story of Simon the Pharisee and the “sketchy” woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears.  How He deals with both is a classic lesson to learn.

Join me please either in person or online as we live stream to the church’s FB page or YouTube. Want to know how? Go the church’s website. Right underneath the banner for this Sunday’s sermon are the links for both. Simple and easy. See you there!!

#Social#VitriolicSpeech

Monday, June 7th, 2021

I’ll say it right up front: I am not on any social media-but then again, some of you already know of my disdain for it. I’ll go one step further: I don’t miss it. AT. ALL.  (Want me to tell you how I really feel?) 🙂

I read an article recently that was talking about what will keep a church from growing in the coming years. Know what one of them was? A pastor who doesn’t or won’t use social media.  My first reaction was benign- neither here nor there. Then I got upset that whether I am on social media or not will determine whether the church I pastor grows. Say what? Then part of me-a very, very small part- could see his point. Presence breeds an audience. So I left it at that.

I’m still not planning on using social media (except if this blog is considered social media). I’d probably get cancelled anyway since I’m not “woke” enough.  (Don’t care either). But there is something else which comes into play for me.

I don’t need all the vitriol I hear about and sometimes have read to me, i.e. so-and-so said this, “_________.”  Filling my mind and heart with garbage is not my idea of fun.

What prompted my thoughts this morning? Try reading Colossians 4:5-6 and try not feeling the same way. “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Your speech must always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (NASB 2020)

The NLT has an interesting take on that passage: “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”

Frankly, I don’t trust myself. People spout off the whole BLM/CRT mumbo jumbo and my blood begins to simmer. To see a “woke” culture cancel everyone who doesn’t toe the party line and spiel their putrid garbage fries me. To see blatant hypocrisy and lies only gets my dander up. What hurts even more is to see and hear about the anger and the hate and the vitriol and strong, sometimes vulgar language, and lack of love words come out of people I know makes we want to shout, “No! This is not the way! This is not the Jesus way!”

So, you see…I don’t trust myself to practice Col. 4:5-6 (no matter what translation you read it in). Better to avoid than to wallow in the slime.

“Father, may my conversation always glorify You. May it always be ‘with grace and seasoned with salt.’ May my words be those of healing and encouragement.”

This same post is also at my other blog Living in the Shadow. You can also find it here.

#Endearment#Desperation

Friday, June 4th, 2021

I suspect most of us have heard or used the phrase:

Hurting people hurt people.

We might also have heard the phrase:

Desperate people do desperate things.

There are many examples of both hurting and desperate people in the Bible. One story actually has them both in the same side-by-side story.  If you turn to Mark 5: 21-43 you will find those stories.

Jesus knew what people needed. When they needed it. One thought which is so important to see is that Jesus didn’t just pity people; he empathized with them.  The sermon this Sunday will look at this essential which Jesus modeled and all who call themselves His followers need to do the same. Go ahead. Check out the Scripture and see if you don’t get the same idea that I did.

A desperate father.

A desperate woman.

They both came to the right place and Person. Watch how Jesus doesn’t just show pity; he shows how to take pity to another level. 

Well…you know my Scripture. You know my main thrust. May I ask you to join me in person or via live stream? I’d love to hear from you.

#MemorialDayThoughts

Monday, May 31st, 2021

I have also entered this same devotion at my other blog, Living in the Shadow. Please feel free to comment either place.

I have never served in the military. When I was in high school registering for the draft was a law. When I was in college it was a law also. When I turned 18 on October 9, 1970 I was a Freshman in college. But I was required to register so I hitched a ride from a school buddy and made my way to another town in Kentucky to do so. I was never called and to this day do not know what my number was. I was exempt because I was in a Bible college studying for the ministry.

I did not go to college to bypass the draft, even though I know of some who did. They really had no business being in that college because they had no desire to really be a pastor.  Without trying to be too judgmental, their lives showed it.

I did not know what VietNam was all about. I was naive when it came to war and political things. Call me guarded. Call me shielded. Call me sheltered. I do know if I had been called on to defend the freedom of this country, I was willing to do so. But I didn’t have to.

Others did it in my place. I am grateful.  I am beyond thankful for the men and women whom we honor today, those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.  I keep thinking of those who want to destroy what we have; to take it and give it away to some lawless nation; to compromise the foundation of our great nation to satisfy their own whims; and as they do, compromise their own words to get what they want. Sacrifice does not do that. Sacrifice is no where close to the “what-I-can-get-out-it” mentality that dominates today’s thinking.  I still say that if they don’t like living in the United States of America then take their wretched philosophy and governmental garbage (socialism) and 1) move somewhere else (you know…as they threaten to do so) and 2) take their wretched ideas and put them where the sun don’t shine. (Sorry if that is too crude).

As you consider today, think of it as more than a holiday (and in many cases) a day off work. Remember the sacrifice paid for your freedom.  Here is a thought: did you worship yesterday at the place of your choice?  Try that in a socialist country.  I don’t think we are perfect and I certainly don’t worship the USA. I am not a Christian nationalist. But I am a grateful American whose Christian faith recognizes the God of all humanity as the One True God and as the One who has truly blessed us.

‘Nuff said. Soapbox put away…for now. 🙂

#JesusAtHisBest#Endearment

Friday, May 28th, 2021

If you happened to be raised in the church, you learned or at least heard two songs as a child: “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” 

“Jesus loves me this I know/For the Bible tells me so/Little ones to Him belong/They are weak but He is strong/Yes, Jesus loves me…”

“Jesus loves the little children/All the children of the world/Red and yellow, black and white/They are precious in His sight/Jesus loves the little children of the world.”  (No racist language in that song because Jesus is not).

The love Jesus had and has for children is unquestionable. It is because of His love for children that OVCF has a love for our children.  Pastor Ryan works hard to bring a well-rounded program for all ages. (It is a rare bird who can be all things to all the children and doesn’t put one age group over the other. Ryan is one of them).

We are trying something new this Sunday. Every month which has a 5th Sunday will be “Youth in church” Sunday. The children who are normally elsewhere in the building having their own worship and class will be experiencing “big people’s church” with their parents and other adults. I have asked Ryan to join me in a interview-type of setting to discuss why we are doing it; to help the adults to see what takes place on a given Sunday; to talk about his goals for the Sunday morning children program; and what might be coming down the pike in the future.

It will be very relaxed and much different than a normal Sunday. I will be opening with a short “visit” to Mk. 10: 13-16 and then Ryan and I will do the “interview.” I’d like to invite you to join us in person or on line.