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Will Reed #SpecialGuest

Thursday, November 3rd, 2022

It was around 2017 when Will and Teresa Reed returned home on furlough from the mission field in Africa. By the time they came home they were hurting. From the trauma of a hostile environment that caused them to move 3 times, to being personally traumatized, as well as severe exhaustion that came from a baby who never slept, they needed to come home. It was during that time they came to visit OVCF as one of their supporting churches. All of that combined caused some severe anxiety and PTSD, which the counselor told them they needed to deal with. It was recommended they stay home and heal.

It is now 2022 and with the necessary healing taking place (and also the birth of two more children), Will and Theresa sense God calling them back to Africa under the auspices of the mission organization, SERGE. It was the same one they were involved with before.  Their plan is to return, Lord willing, to Nairobi, Kenya to serve with SERGE as counselors/helpers/support (and any other words that fit that description) in 2023.

Will is preaching this Sunday and will also tell the story of their healing and subsequent “call” to return to Africa. Pastor Ryan, Diana, Jo and I had lunch with them almost 2 months ago to renew our ministry with them.  The leadership of OVCF is committed to putting them in the mission budget for 2023. The folks need to meet them and see what a genuine and real couple/family they are.

Please pray for Sunday.  For Will as he preaches. For them as they consider their move and raise the funds to do so. And pray for the church as we are challenged to follow God’s calling on our lives, no matter where it leads. Join us if you are able to in person. Or you can’t, then please watch the live stream at 9 and 10:45.

Next week I start a 4-week series on Feasts with a Purpose.  I’m going to take a look at two different OT feast each week and how they show us Jesus and apply to Christ-followers today. Join me won’t you?

#Contagious

Friday, October 21st, 2022

No, I don’t have COVID.  But I do know some people “freak” whenever the word contagious is used.  It used to be about polio or the flu or Bubonic plague or some other sickness. Now we are drawn to that pandemic no one wants to talk about. (Fine by me).

But you know it can be a positive thing as well? Every church has distinctives which set it apart from various other churches. I’m not talking the name on the building. But marks which identify the church as unique and the place to find what a person is looking for.  On October 30th, OVCF will celebrate her 18th anniversary as a church body. I personally believe it is a great time to step back and evaluate where we stand. We certainly are not a perfect church, and can always do better.  It is my prayer that this will serve as a challenge for us to make a more concerted effort to be contagious (in a good way).

“You can’t always tell a book by its cover” so the saying goes.  The saying also is true about the church. You can also not tell a church by its buildings. All sorts of decisions are made by people simply by looking at a building…many of them wrong. What really matters is what happens inside that building and then what happens when the church that meets there goes out into their sphere of influence. 

I’m going to challenge OVCF on three characteristics:

  1. A contagious church is a place of Grace.
  2. A contagious church is a place of mentoring.
  3. A contagious church is a place of fellowship.

I hope you will join me Sunday at 9 and 10:45, either in person or live stream.

#Cancer#Resepctable

Friday, July 29th, 2022

We have the Big 10. You know…the 10 Commandments. “You shall have no other gods before you.” “You shall not murder.” “You shall not commit adultery.” And others. The biggies.  People will also throw in some of their social issues with them. Curiously, there is one we tend to leave off the list. In fact, of all the cancers we have been talking about, this one most people will take the least seriously than any other. The cancer?

Gluttony.

I’m going to be honest. I don’t have an axe to grind.  I like to eat like all the other folks do. I used to say, “The Apostle Paul said, “I buffet my body, not buffet (like endless eating) my body.” I have to admit that I preferred the latter more than I should have. Pizza. Ice Cream. Chinese. Age has slowed me down some I’m sorry to say, but I do still like to eat! 🙂 

Gluttony is more than just overeating at Thanksgiving or Christmas or some special occasion. The failure to see that fact is flabby thinking about the Bible and what it says about this “respectable” cancer. I call it that because it normally doesn’t show up on someone’s list of sins.

This Sunday I am going to be preaching about what the Bible says about this “respectable” cancer.  I would love to have you join us in person, or if that is not possible, online.  We have two services at 9 and 10:45. Both are live streamed as well.

#Cancer#Envy

Friday, July 1st, 2022

I read of a movie called The Prestige. I have not seen it so I will rely on someone who has. It is the story of rival stage magicians in late 19th century London. Both men were brilliant and ambitious. Both want the best. The film follows the obsessive drive they each have and underneath their drive to be the best is a fierce competition which leads to murder and self-destruction. Their rivalry, fueled by envy and jealousy, wreaks havoc in their personal and professional lives.

Proverbs 14:30 says, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”

Socrates called it “the ulcer of the soul.” Envy is a sickness of the soul, a consuming, wasting spiritual disease (cancer) that devours its host from the inside out. Like cancer, it eats away at us from the inside out. So many people are being eaten alive by envy (and its evil twin jealousy) they don’t even know it…or recognize it.

My series on 7 Cancers continues this week with my sermon on envy I’ve entitled “The Green-Eyed Cancer.”  Think “green with envy” and you get the picture.  I hope you will join me in person or via live stream. We meet at 9:00 and 10:45.

#Surgery#Atpeace

Monday, June 13th, 2022

As the title says, I am scheduled for surgery. It is to take place tomorrow morning (Tuesday) at 8:00. It was originally scheduled for 11:30 with a 9:30 check in time. But they called Friday saying they had a cancellation and moved me up to an 8:00 time for the surgery.  Check in time is 6:00. I won’t have an issue with that but Jo doesn’t do mornings so it will be interesting. 🙂

I ask for your prayers. I don’t anticipate any difficulties but I am not the ONE who is in charge. For more of my thoughts on the surgery and some lessons from Psalm 31 please visit my devotional blog, “Living in the Shadow.” You can find that particular devotion at https://livingintheshadow.ovcf.org/2022/06/13/june-13-3/

Thanks.

#PPA

Sunday, April 10th, 2022

Ever heard of PPA? You should have by now if you listen to any news feed. One of the most iconic actors of the past couple of decades was recently diagnosed with it. PPA stands for Primary Progressive Aphasia.

Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with it.

How ironic it was, then, that just a few weeks ago I listened to an Alisa Childers podcast where she interviewed a Christian philosopher and writer named Doug Groothius (pronounce grew-ties with the “s” sounding like a soft “s”). When I listened to the podcast I never caught the illness Doug’s wife suffered from and which was the inspiration for his book, Walking Through Twilight.  I was so intrigued by the interview I ordered his book and began reading it this past weekend.  Doug’s wife, a member of MENSA and a brilliant editor and writer of all his books, was diagnosed with PPA.

Here is a short “walk through” of PPA:

  • Often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s or “strict” dementia, it is different. Alzheimer’s starts at the back of the brain and moves forward; PPA is a frontal lobe disease. It is a rare form of dementia.
  • They all act alike in many ways. Forgetfulness. Lostness. Blank stares. Inability to recognize people or remember things. PPA also carries with it the inability to put words or thoughts together. My non-clinical way of saying it would be it is like having dyslexia of the mind.
  • There is no cure. It gets progressively worse.  At the time of the writing of his book (2017), Becky had suffered from it for 15 years.  (She went to be with Jesus in 2018).  It is an emotional wrangle for all involved-spouse, family, caregivers, even pets.

His book? You have to buy it. That is all I can say. I am about 1/2 way through it and have found myself drawn into his story and his struggle-with life, with God, with the way things are. Even though Doug is a philosopher, he doesn’t write like one who is “over my head.” Trust me, though, when I say you will enter into his story. You will ride the waves with him as he struggles emotionally and spiritually.

Walking Through Twilight: A Wife's Illness―A Philosopher's Lament

My father had dementia (he died at 90). My mother-in-law had it. My sister-in-law has it (mild form so far). I can guarantee this book has given me a new perspective on the “world” of the one walking through this twilight with someone they love.

BUY IT!! READ IT!! WEEP WITH IT!! REJOICE WITH IT (she knew Jesus)!!

And say a prayer for Bruce Willis and his family. I’m guessing they don’t know Jesus. They will need Him and the strength and comfort He offers.

#SundayMusings#LiveVsStreaming

Sunday, January 23rd, 2022

Note: I wrote this today (Sunday) as I awaited the opportunity to preach knowing things would be greatly different. These are my musings.

As I sit here this Sunday morning, a mixture of emotions flow through me. Due to the state and county both being in the red (COVID-wise not politically), the decision was made to do live stream only this morning.  Add to the state and county statistics the fact that some of the church people are also testing positive or simply struggling with illness, it seemed the wisest thing to do.

Am I happy? I would be lying if I said I was.  But I also understand. As far as I’m concerned, someone getting vaxxed and boosted is a matter of personal choice and I will not take a side on that issue. It is not for me to impose my will or thoughts on someone, even though Jo and I have both been double vaxxed and boosted.  She will be 71 next Sunday and I am 69. Yeah…she robbed the cradle. 🙂

No, my issue is not even a health issue. My issue is how much I look forward to Sunday morning and seeing people. Sure, I do get to do what I possibly love more than just about anything-emphasis on “just about.” I know I’m a social creature and I really look forward to seeing people, laughing with them, hugging them, fist bumping them, and just all around greeting people.  I love seeing smiles and the joy of connecting with people I have grown to love. I love seeing new people and the fact we have some “mo” right now makes it a bit harder to take this break. But that is the way of life in 2022…and in 2021…and in 2021.  I just think there is great value in meeting together.

But thankfully, we have live stream-a vital second to our ministry. Where would we be without it? Given today’s scenario, we would have to cancel services or require (gasp) everyone wear a mask. I’m thankful for the live stream. I remember how we started in late 2020 with nothing more than an iPhone.  The live stream has really been a life saver.

My personal hope is that this will just be a one week glitch. If not, we will use whatever means we can to get the message of Jesus to others. I pray God will bless our efforts and I am going to take Him at His Word that His words will never return void.

#SoberCycle#Review

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

I can count on one hand the good things I think that have come out of the pandemic of the past close to 2 years.  One was the church implementing a live stream. That was most definitely good because it was very much needed. The other is podcasts, as in, I started listening to them. I have always said that I have trouble listening and driving. So I listened to music almost exclusively.  After I started listening to podcasts I had to change my tune. I figured out the reason why I could listen to them: they were not sermons.  Sermons are by nature one-sided so my mind wandered. Not so with most podcasts.  Honestly, I no longer listen to some of the podcasts I started with.  Some got too complicated. Some too business-oriented. Some too large-church oriented (I’m a pastor of a church in a small town so no relevancy there).

But one I have continued and consistently listened to is Bleeding Daylight hosted by Australian Rodney Olsen. I first “met” Rodney when we crossed paths while blogging.  We also had something in common: he was  a cyclist. Anyway, Rodney’s podcast is his interviews with various people who have overcome challenges and “kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.”  Like all interviews, some kept my rapt attention and some I lost interest in. One of the most recent featured a woman by the name of Sherry Hoppen from Hudsonville, MI.  Sherry’s story is one of addiction to alcohol.  It kept my attention from start to finish, not because I have an issue with it (I have never had a drink), but because I have some I know who do.  It was for them I listened; it was for them I was blessed.

Sherry has written a book chronicling her journey in a much more in-depth way than the podcast could do.

Sober Cycle: Pedaling Through Recovery One Day at a Time

I confess that I am hesitant to review or even suggest a “self-help” book.  Most of them are of the “your best life now” genre. I loathe that approach. Life is a challenge; life is tough, and no amount of self-talk will get you out off that treadmill. But Sherry’s book is much more than self-help. It is a memoir of sorts.  It is a revealing book. It is a brutally honest book.  Since I have never had an issue with alcohol, I do not totally understand its grasp on people. Sherry enlightened me as to the struggle addicts face. I wanted to simply say to her, “Well, then walk away. Don’t drink” but it wasn’t that easy.  And to my friends here, I now have a better idea of what they are going through.

I gave my copy to my friend. I now have another. I know another friend who has one waiting for him when he comes out of rehab.  I have to admit that I was impressed by Sherry’s battle, but I was totally impressed by her husband, Craig, who stood by her through it all. I know many husbands (and wives) who would have walked out and away at the first sign of addiction, let alone stay with her for years as she struggled.  Kudos to Craig!

I must also tell you that Sherry’s hobby is cycling.  Her first real effort at getting free from her addiction was a bike ride from Michigan to Maryland.  But her addiction was so bad she even started the ride with a hangover. I’m telling you folks, you need to read this book. For yourself. For your friends. For your alcoholic friend or relative.  And then pass it along.

Oh, one more thing. Sherry’s ministry is called She Surrenders because that is what it took for her to finally get free. Surrendering daily to the lordship of Jesus.  I can’t speak highly enough of Sherry’s book.  You can order from her website (https://www.shesurrenders.com/ or if you prefer, Amazon.

 

#RandomThoughts#VaxxNoVaxx

Monday, October 11th, 2021

I’m hoping this does not sound like a political statement or rant since this is not the time or place for that. However,  after speaking with someone last night about the “mandate” which has come down to his work and the lives affected by it, I’d like to add my .02 worth.

I am neither pro-vaxx or con-vaxx. It is my personal opinion that each person, each family, must decide what is right for themselves. And please don’t get me started or side-tracked on the whole stupid mandate-mask or vaxx-thing. Trust me when I say I have feelings about that. (Bet you didn’t know that! 🙂 )

I chose to get vaccinated. I had COVID as many of you know. It ravaged my body so that I lost 48 pounds in about 4 weeks time. After a couple of procedures cleared me from some things, it was decided I had gall stones blocking my bile duct. Two more procedures were needed to make things right. I feel God restored my health, although there are still some lingering long-haul affects. I chose to be vaxxed-not because I wanted to or even needed to (ever heard of antibodies?), but for another reason.

I chose to be vaxxed for other people. I wanted people to feel safe around me. I wanted them to know if I visited them in the hospital, nursing home, in their own home, on the street, and especially here at the church, that they could feel safe around me. Again, it was my personal decision and I will judge no one who is or is not, just as I will not judge over the wearing of a mask.  (Please don’t get me started on forcing young children to wear one. Okay…you twisted my arm…what a crock!)

Let’s turn this: When Paul wrote to the Corinthians in I Cor. 8, he would not abuse his liberty at the expense of others. In other words, for the sake of others, he would forego meat offered to idols.  “Hold the hamburger please” would have been his words. 🙂 

Jesus went to the cross-not for Himself-but for the sake of others. For me. For you.

What a great way to live! Living for someone else.  Perhaps we need to start asking ourselves the question, “Who am I living for?” What do you think?

This post is my opinion. This blog is mine. It is not stating the views of the church I pastor or the elders of the church. The opinions expressed here are strictly mine. 

 

#LawsFamily#Testimony

Saturday, August 28th, 2021

I’m not preaching this Sunday because Mike, Trisha, and Ryan Laws are our special guests.

I have been anticipating this for over 2 months. Mike donated his kidney to his son in order to save his life.  A perfectly healthy, 13 year old, soccer-playing teenage who in a matter of days found himself in the ICU because of a kidney disease is the basis for the Laws’ story. The foundation of it though is the faithfulness of God as they cried, trusted, sought answers, watched Ryan lay in a bed unable to respond, until finally both Mike and Trisha were tested as matches. They decided Mike would be the one to give his son new life. What greater father/son love story could you find? 

Oh yeah, there is one. God the Father giving up His Son on the cross for our salvation.

Please join us live at 9 and 10:45 as they tell their story, a testimony to God’s incredible love and faithfulness.

And BTW: Mike has been back at work and Ryan is back at soccer going full bore.  You gotta hear their story!