Category: MidweekMessage

Midweek Message 04/07/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #53

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #53!  I know I made your day showing up in your inbox since you were waiting with bated breath to see if I had decided the MM was done or would continue.  Surprise! And that is the correct word as many of you responded to my short survey last week. Thanks for taking the time to let me know you appreciated the MM. I’m glad you have enjoyed it and found it to be a good way to stay connected. That, after all, was the reason I started writing it to begin with.  A couple of you added that if it is a burden for me or Diana to do it then it would be okay to discontinue sending it.  I enjoy writing (as seen by my blogs and my journals) and like the discipline it takes to sit down and write.

As you get this edition of the MM, Jo and I will be heading toward Ohio (or may have already arrived depending on when you read it). Our grandson, Braden has his first ballgame on Thursday evening, but since Janna has him on Wednesday this week, we wanted to see him and take him out to eat after practice.  On Thursday morning we will be heading up to Sandusky so Jo can see her sister. Vicki has been in a nursing home with dementia for almost two years now and it has been since before COVID started that Jo has had a chance to see her. They were going to allow her 15 minutes for a visit but when Jo told them we would be driving 7 hours and haven’t seen her since February they signed her up for a “compassionate care” visit. 30 minutes. But that is better than nothing and sadly, we are not sure if she will even remember us. We would appreciate your prayers for the extra driving, but also the emotional toll it may take, especially on Jo. Seeing your sister going downhill is not a fun thing. Some of you know how that is. Our plan is to stay until Saturday so we can go out to eat Friday night with Janna and her friend, Mike. Ryan is preaching Sunday so we are planning on being elsewhere.

Some who don’t know our situation may wonder why I leave when Ryan preaches. It certainly isn’t because I don’t respect him. He has my highest respect. It isn’t because he does a terrible job. He doesn’t. He is a good communicator. I leave because it is “his day” not mine. If I am here, then people want to put their focus on why I’m not preaching. I also need some time away to stay fresh. Besides, I want you to miss me!!  🙂

Just a heads up: After next week’s sermon (the 25th) closes out the series on Ecclesiastes. I will be preaching an 8-week series called Eyes Wide Open. I’m going to look at how Jesus treated people: the leper, the centurion, the woman at the well, and others. We are going to see people through the eyes of Jesus, which I believe will be helpful as we come in contact with people from all walks of life. I am enamored by how Jesus related to the outcasts of society, the ones no one wanted to be around. One week we will look at how Jesus dealt with religious people (Pharisees) who thought they were always right. I think it is going to be an exciting series to do (it is one I have never done before) and I am looking to learn a lot.

Hey Ladies! Just a reminder, OVCF Connections Women’s Ministry has planned a Coffee and Chocolate event! Before the pandemic hit, the ladies had a couple of well attended gatherings. They are trying to get back on track and it sounds like this will be a great time to do just that. It is Saturday, April 24th from 2-4:00 in the church auditorium. Sally and Hope have worked hard to make this special. Please join them!

I am currently reading a book called After Doubt by A.J.Swoboda. If you follow any religious news at all, one of the biggest bombshells in recent years has been what are called “deconstructions.” In short, it is people (men and women) who turn their back on faith and all they have known and sometimes deny God exists and sometimes just walk away from faith. Because of people I read about, this has been a hard read, heart-breaking actually, to see how and why people do that. Two quotes stand out from the last page I read:

“People who tell me there is no God are like a six-year old saying there is no such thing as passionate love-they just haven’t experienced it.” (William Alfred-p.56)  Just because we don’t believe doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

And here is one for the ages: “We won’t be judged on whether we liked the Truth. We’ll be judged on whether we followed Him” (Swoboda-p.56) The Apostle Paul wrote “Let God be true, and every human being a liar.” [Rom.3:4] No matter what man may say; no matter how much they may “broker” their thoughts about who God is; they cannot change reality. God is God.  Faith is not based on our feelings, even though our culture wants us to base right and wrong on them. Truth is truth and cannot and will not be changed. He is Truth. Jesus said, “I am the Truth…” Nothing will make that go away.

Have a great week. I love you all.

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 04/07/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #52

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #52. I am honored you are taking some of your valuable time to read this MM. I seriously don’t want to waste your time so I have something I’d like to present to you.

I started this to keep in touch with you during the pandemic. Although it is not over yet, it seems like we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. So here is the favor I have to ask. Because I value your time and mine, I’d like to know what you think of the MM. I have included a real short 3 question survey. Please take a moment to read it and answer it. Please return the answers to me at pastor@ovcf.org or if you are concerned you might hurt my feelings (you won’t), you may reply to Diana at secretary@ovcf.org. Here you go:

  1. Do you read or do you not read the MM?
  2. If you were writing it, what improvements would you make?
  3. Do you think I should continue filling your inbox with the MM?

 

That is it. Three simple questions. We send this to about 100+ email addresses. Diana also posts it to our FB page and it is also posted on the church’s website. That is a lot of extra work for something not read or wanted. So would you please take a moment and send an email to me or Diana and answer the three questions? And trust me: I’m not looking for pats on the back. Just answers. You can do it anonymously if you prefer. Thanks.

No pressure on that survey. It’s just that the earth may go out of orbit and the sky may fall if you don’t respond. 🙂

Well…Resurrection Sunday was all I had dreamed it would be. It was so good to see people face to face I hadn’t been able to see for what seems like an eternity. Our online service is essential but nothing can take the place of a church community being together.  The best part were the visitors who came and the smiles on people’s faces. To see and hear about the activity in the youth area warmed my heart. To see the generosity of so many knowing that unless designated the offering would be going to missions. And boy did you guys come through!!  In fact, you came through in spades. We were able to give 5 missions $1125 each, plus our regular offering was outstanding. I was especially stoked by the missions offering. Some missions have really been hurting due to the pandemic so the gift we were able to give speaks highly of your heart. Thank you so much!

I’m not foolish enough (plus I have been around the block a few times) to think this coming week will be like this past Sunday. But I sure can dream! 🙂 I look forward to seeing the momentum this gives us.

I’ll be resuming my series on Ecclesiastes this Sunday. Ryan will be preaching on the 18th (Eccl. 12:1-8) and then I will finish it on the 25th. My next series will be “Eyes Wide Open,” a look at how Jesus responded to individual people, especially those who were considered outcasts. Then beginning the first week of July I plan to start a 16 week series on Mark-“The Gospel for Busy People.”  That could always change though so please don’t hold me hostage if it does. 🙂

Transparency time. Some will say, “Oh-oh” but rest easy. Whenever people look at the church and judge its “success” or not, it is often judged on numbers and offering. I have to admit being caught up in that in times past. Even with Resurrection Sunday, I had to guard against that thinking. “We were ‘successful’ because our building was full and our offering was good.” But I know that is not the way to judge the church.  Just today (Tuesday) I finished a book called A Church Called Tov.  That is pronounced with a long O and is the Hebrew word for “good” and speaks of the whole idea of a church developing a goodness culture, as opposed to a toxic culture.  It was quite revealing and challenging. I hope to write a study of the book and go through it with the elders first, then if it goes well with anyone who wants to study it.  Here are two conclusive thoughts it brings out at the end of the book:

A tov church is a Christ-bearing church. Its culture embraces the pursuit of “Christoformity,” a life surrendered to Jesus for the sake of others. (Recap of thoughts from pages 217-219)

Growth is good, but the purpose of the church is not numerical growth or filling seats. The purpose of the church is conformity to Christ. (p.219)

Just those two thoughts alone give rise to ideas to ponder. Following Jesus is more than words; it is actions- actions which are good. Hence, a tov (goodness) culture.

That’s it for the week. I hope you have a fantastic week. I love you all.

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 04/01/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #51

 

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #51! I really appreciate that you have entrusted some of your valuable time to allowing me into your inbox. I know there are a whole lot of other things clamoring for your time and attention so thanks for taking the time to read this small attempt to keep in touch with you.

The past few days have been typical Indiana Spring days. Rumor has it (but since when can the weatherman predict the weather?) that Resurrection Sunday is supposed to be sunny and in the 70s. Now you’re talking!!

Speaking of Resurrection Sunday. I have been announcing several important items concerning that day. I’d like to reiterate them for you one last time or just in case you haven’t heard them. 🙂

  • We will have two services-one at 9:00 and one at 10:45 (this service will include children’s programs). These times are for both in-person and online.
  • Even though we will add some seating, we will still be limiting the seats. If you are concerned about the spacing for the chairs, we will be using the youth addition as an overflow during the first service only. The service will be streamed to that area. The young people will be occupying that area during the second service so it will be unavailable. If you are still concerned, please feel free to join us online.
  • Until this past Sunday, I failed to tell you something really important. Our practice for the past few years has been to use the Easter offering for missions. We’d like to continue that practice this year. Unless designated (like for Building Fund), all monies will go to missions. For those of you who are not familiar with what we do: we take the offering for that day and give it all away. In this case, we divide it up among the missions we support on a monthly basis, and sometimes even add a mission, and send it to them as a way to bless them. I believe God has honored that commitment in ways we cannot see-for us and for them. Please keep that in mind when you consider giving for Easter.
  • This Sunday is the first Sunday of the month, typically the Sunday of our masked service. But at last month’s service they graciously changed it to next Sunday, the 11th, so they could spend Sunday afternoon with family and friends.
  • Above all, please remember the meaning behind the day of celebration: Jesus is alive! For some it may just be another Owen Valley Sunday (remember that song Pleasant Valley Sunday by the Monkees?), but for Christ-followers it is a day of celebration. So whether you are in-person or watching the live stream, please take time to celebrate the greatest day in history.

 

The Christian group, Fee, did a song called O Happy Day with these lyrics: “The greatest day in history/Death is beaten You have rescued me/Sing it out Jesus is alive!/Empty cross and empty grave/Life eternal, you have won the day/Shout it out Jesus is Alive! He’s Alive/O Happy Day, happy day/You washed my sin away/O happy day, happy day/I’ll never be same.”  It is a great, up tempo song that will get your feet tapping and bring a smile to your face. Go to YouTube and type in Fee O Happy Day and it will give you several options or use this link: https://youtu.be/GirtIPZRZeg

Go ahead. I give you permission to stop reading and listen. But please come back!  🙂 By the way, our worship team will be leading us in this song on Sunday, so please give the song a listen!

Springtime also means sprucing up. Dick Hogan mowed the church lawn last Saturday for the first time this year. J  Diana will have a sign-up sheet for volunteers to mow and weed eat the church lawn on the info table. We sure could use your help with that this summer. We could also use some volunteers to help with the flower beds around the building. If you would like to do that please contact Diana to coordinate times with her. One of the first impressions people get is what the building looks like at first glance. If it looks clean and nice that makes a positive impact. But the opposite is also true. If things look shabby and unkempt they will often just turn away without a glance inside or a chance to meet people. So if you can help, please call the church office or sign up at the info table.

Resurrection Sunday is always a big day in the life of any church. We are no different. Please pray for all involved in the celebration of the Savior’s resurrection from the grave. I look forward to celebrating with you.  I love you all.

Pastor Bill

 

 

 

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Midweek Message 03/24/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #50

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #50. 50!!! As the saying goes: “Who’da thunk it?”  Of course if you look at the bigger picture who would have thought this whole virus thing would still be going on? Certainly not me.  As I think back I can honestly say I don’t know what I was thinking. Know what I mean? 🙂

I am writing this early this week, Monday to be exact. We will be heading to Ohio sometime tomorrow (Tuesday) to see Janna and Braden. (Braden if you are talking to Jo. LOL)  Many of you know that 2020 saw the end of Janna’s marriage and the arrangement is that she gets him every other week and the “off Wednesday.” This is her week to have him and since his dad is picking him up early on Saturday for Spring Break out-of-state, Janna will also have him this Wednesday.  With baseball in full swing for Braden and April a pretty full month already for me, Jo asked if we could take a trip over to see him.  Yeah…like twist my arm! This weekend is moving weekend for Janna (she is moving into another place) so this will also give us a chance to offer some help. I’m still limited to what I can do because of the gall bladder surgery almost 5 weeks ago but I think I can still lift a fork or spoon when needed. 🙂 We hope to be home around noon on Thursday. Your prayers for a safe trip would be much appreciated.

It was good to see some faces in the audience yesterday we haven’t seen in a while. I was pleasantly surprised of the number of folks who were here despite it being the end of Spring Break.  The greatest surprise visitor was Kayliana Beckwith. She is now a month old and has my utmost respect (or is that jealousy?) for the full head of brown hair. It was in a mohawk and mom and dad said it just stays that way even though they try to change it. I can remember when Braden had one. I cannot remember when I ever had one. Anyway, it was good to see Matt and Mary bring her to her first church service. And…I put her to sleep while I preached!  She had an excuse, but the adults?  Now…that is a different story. 🙂  We had some other folks who were here also. (I even got hugs from them). It is nice to see people slowly make their way back to the church building.

We’ve been announcing the past several weeks about our Resurrection Sunday service. As we have been saying, we have chosen not to use Abram Farm this Easter. Bill & Suzie are very gracious to us but we just think at this time this is smarter and safer. We will be offering two services that morning-one at 9:00 and the other at 10:45. They are our normal times so it will not throw folks off who plan to watch it via live stream. We know there will be those who would love to be here, especially since it is Easter, but are still hesitant in being in a crowd where masks are not required. We respect that, so we are making it so that those who are used to tuning in at a certain time will be able to do so.  We will also have the children’s worship area available for use during the first service for those who want to come but are concerned about the crowd. We usually have a masked service on the first Sunday afternoon of the month but they were kind enough to move it to the next week. So if you prefer to come to a masked service, April 11th at 1:30 is our next one.

Just this morning I finished reading Tim Keller’s new book, Hope in Times of Fear. It is subtitled “The Resurrection and the Meaning of Easter.”  In 2002 he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He recently retired from being the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, a church he started in 1989. Shortly after he announced his retirement, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. So writing on the resurrection is pretty important to him. As it should be to all of us. His final words at the end of the last chapter, titled “Hope for the Future,” were these words: “Jesus has secured this for us by his death and resurrection. When this assurance abides in us, our immediate fate-how the current situation turns out- can no longer trouble us. Defiance comes from looking at ourselves. Hope comes from looking at Him.”  I’d just like to add a few words. Whether it be the pandemic, whether it be the prospect of cancer or natural causes taking our life, or whether it be a hardship that wears us down, we have the assurance of a hope the world simply cannot offer. Someone might say, “What a blind hope! There is no God and there is no hope beyond the grave.” Although I disagree, that may be so. But I’d sure rather place my faith in Someone and something greater than to die and regret the choice I made. It is like someone has said, “If I die and I’m wrong I’ve lost nothing. But if you die and you are wrong, you have lost everything.”

 

FYI: Jo and I got our first COVID vaccine this past Tuesday. Our second shot is scheduled for April 19th.

I hope you have a great rest of the week. Know that you are loved.

 

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 03/17/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #49

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #49. Thanks for letting me into your inbox this way and taking the time to read the MM. Just when I think it might be time to hang up my pen computer, I have people email or text me that they really appreciate hearing from me this way.  I have a story to tell you so I’m going to get right to it. I am actually setting aside working on a sermon this morning in order to write this while it is still fresh in my brain. (It gets scary if I wait). My story is actually a dream I had last night (Monday).

I woke up in a sweat. My t-shirt and pillow drenched. This was different than other nights. It wasn’t the temp that woke me. The dream was vivid, almost real.  I am writing it down as I remember it, as I sat in my chair and relived it after getting out of bed at 1:00 this morning. Here is my dream:

I was the age I am now and the pastor of a church. A small church like this one. I was out of the room at the time but they were enjoying a pitch in meal. There were, I’m guessing, close to 100 people there. Included in that number were about 5-6 from a previous church where I was dismissed under a cloud. The previous church was making changes. It was reaching people who were not “their type.” Suddenly the long-time members were not comfortable with the piercings, and the gauges, and the grunge-look, and the “perverts” who were finding love and acceptance in the Gospel. A bottle of booze was found in a drawer in my desk and business cards of a “working girl” and a questionable masseuse were found among my other cards. False accusations flew until Jo and I quietly left. We had no idea where, but God led us to a place where I found a job and eventually began to pastor a start-up church.  At this dinner, some of the renegades from the other church did their best to plant seeds of doubt and indiscretion into the minds of the people.

When Jo and I came in (we were late because we were meeting with some new people), I was surprised to see them there. The strangers from the past church began to move forward and I could tell they were “loaded for bear.” But they never got a word out of their mouth. One young lady, the healing from piercings and gauges evident, stood up and said to them, “I have no idea why you are here. But it would be best if you would leave. I am saved and have hope because of Pastor Bill’s ministry to ‘my kind.’” A young man, dressed somewhat similar but obviously trying to transition from what he once was spoke up. “I was about to take my own life and had given up hope in my former lifestyle, when someone told me about Pastor Bill.    I am here today, alive and healing, because of him.” The couple whose marriage was dead. The young mom who wanted to call it quits. The husband/father whose job had become his idol, but he was losing his family. It went on and on. I never had to say a word.

Then a surprise. An older couple from the previous church group spoke up. “We (the two of us) came to see what was going to happen. But we have also come to apologize to Pastor Bill for what we (our group) did. We planted the bottle in his desk. We planted the cards in his business cards. Our church has lost all the folks we had gained, but lost even more. We lost the respect of our community and even of our own people. We are separating ourselves from these others. We are here to ask forgiveness.”

That is when I woke up. Sweating profusely and drained. Not agitated. Drained. Like I had been put through a wringer. I’m not a purveyor of dreams. I’m not one who puts a lot of stock in them. And I’m honestly not sure what this all means. I know what I’d like it to mean.

As we move deeper into 2021 life is returning to “some normality.” It will never be the way it was, no matter how much we want it to. Be that as it may, I find my love for OVCF growing. I know our influence in this community is not done by any stretch of the imagination. But what will it be? Without compromising the Gospel, will we reach those who want to live an alternate lifestyle? Those who are coming to the end of their road and want to give up on life? Those whose lives are wracked by sin, poor choices, and a lifestyle filled with emptiness? Those who look like they have it all together but really are just shells? Couples ready to call it quits? Children who are abused and mistreated? Addicts? What impact will we have when we come to the end of 2021? I realize no one can answer those questions since only God has the knowledge to do so. But I sure am curious. 🙂  Aren’t you?

As I sat in my chair and replayed the dream, I could not go back to sleep. So I rode for an hour and prayed. I prayed for “my monthly people.” I prayed for me, for you. For wisdom. For guidance. For us to be ready for what God has in mind.

Thanks for reading my different MM this week. And no, I haven’t lost it yet.    Yet… 🙂  Have a great rest of the week. I love you all.

 

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 03/10/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #48

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #48!  It’s a place where all your anticipation is satisfied and your longing for good meaty chit-chat is met. Aaaah yeah. I’m guessing there will not be too many who would say reading this is the highlight of their week. But I’m glad you took the time to drop by and take a few minutes out of your busy day to waste your time enrich your life.

What an absolutely gorgeous week it has been so far! The weekend was fabulous and this week is starting out the same way. Not too many days from now we will celebrate my brother, Rob’s, birthday. Oops, I mean the first day of Spring. Now you know why my mother named him Robin. Also, back then Robin was a boy’s name. See…you learned some bit of history because of this MM.

But there is something even more important coming up!  This Sunday, the 14th, you need to make sure your clock is turned ahead. Remember Spring forward/Fall back. I suspect there will be a lot of bleary-eyed people walking around on Sunday. They will either be trying to figure out where to find that lost hour of sleep or wondering why in the world they are late to everything.  🙂  Me? I go to bed early enough so that even if I lose that hour I still get the same amount of sleep I normally do. (No laughing or rolling of the eyes allowed).

I want to keep you informed about our Resurrection Sunday worship services. As I mentioned in last week’s MM, we will not be using Abram Farm so we can have one service. While Bill & Suzie have given us an open invitation-providing it is not in use- we feel it is wiser to stick with the two services here. I could spin your head with all the logistics and “hoops” we have to go through to make a service at Abram Farm happen, but I won’t. Some of you may be wondering about space. We will, obviously, keep an ear to what Governor Holcomb says, but even then we are still going to play it safe. Adding chairs is an option but it will done wisely. The first service will have the advantage of the youth room as an overflow. We can live stream it to the TV there so if you want to be here, but are hesitant about the “crowdedness” of the auditorium, that will be a definite option. Unfortunately, that will not be an option during the second service due to the children’s programs taking place. I think the best thing to say is to keep your ears open for information we will pass along as we get closer. If you have any questions please feel free to call the church office (812-828-9840).

It has been several MMs since I mentioned to you that the elders (Wayne Akerson, Jeff Carlson, David Robertson), as well as Ryan and I, have committed to praying for each family of OVCF. We each pray for a specific group (usually about 19 people/families) and then switch the next month. I really appreciate the men making this commitment and I sincerely hope you can sense their prayers for you.

This Sunday is the start of a series I will be preaching on the Cross. It culminates in a sermon about the Resurrection.  Some of you grew up in church traditions which observed Lent. Lent is the period of 40 days which begins on Ash Wednesday (February 17th this year) and ends on Resurrection Sunday. While I am not observing Lent by giving up something (as many do), I am trying to focus on the cross and its purpose and fulfillment. One of the surprising emotions it has elicited out of me has been thankfulness. In a recent blog post, I referenced the song Once Again by Matt Redman. It has a chorus of “Thank you for the cross/Thank you for the cross/Thank you for the cross my Friend…” I got to thinking: the cross was a symbol of ugliness and hatred. How can I be thankful for it? My conclusion: I am thankful for the cross because of what it means, what it accomplished. I could go all “preacher mode” on you but I won’t. 🙂 I’ll just invite you to listen in person or online to the upcoming sermons to figure out the answer to the question of how can I be thankful for the cross?

Speaking of online, thanks to those watching and “signing in” to let us know you are watching. We have now begun to include an estimate of those watching in our weekly bulletin. I’m excited many of you are watching (even though I miss seeing you). One more thing: don’t forget to invite others to watch it as well. I’m hoping and praying we will see people come to know Jesus because of our efforts. One person makes the effort worthwhile.

Thanks for your time reading this MM. I love you all and pray this Easter season will be a very special one for you in many ways.

Pastor Bill

And here is something to put in the “yippee” or “who cares” department (depending on your perspective). Jo and I are scheduled to get our first vaccine on the 16th. We aren’t special; we are just old. 🙂

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Midweek Message 03/03/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #47

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #47!  I hope your week has been going pretty well for you. I gotta tell you that the sunshine of the past week or so sure has me hankering to get outside…to ride. But the doctor has put the kibosh on that for a few weeks so I have to be content to ride inside and spend my lunchtime at the Y. But really…hasn’t the sun been absolutely gorgeous? Sure, we are still reminded by the cool air that it isn’t quite shorts and t-shirt weather but the illusion is enough to keep you going and to dream of “soon-to-be” days. Come to think about it: we turn the clocks ahead on March 14th.  Spring will be here sooner than we think (but not nearly as soon as we wish).  We can always dream can’t we?

This Sunday I want to remind you that we will offer a Masked Service at 1:30 for those who still prefer that option.  For some reason it slipped by all three of us on staff.  My apologies from us for failing to include that reminder each week. Please don’t think for a moment we were trying to marginalize you. For those unsure of this service, the only requirement is wearing a mask at all times.  And if you didn’t get enough in one of the first two services you can wash/rinse/repeat with the masked service. 🙂  I look forward to seeing some of you there.

Owen County has now gone to Blue in the “COVID watch.” That means we can add more chairs but, to be honest, we are still trying to be cautious.  We still have space between the rows that is a shade over 5 feet, leaving you 6 feet from the person in front of you. But it severely limits the number of chairs we can set up.  That leaves us with some questions which I will try to answer here:

  1. How tight is it? Like I said we still have adequate space between rows and currently only have about 60 chairs set up.  So far, that has been adequate given that people have been slowly returning to the church building.  We will continue making adjustments as we feel safety allows.
  2. What about Easter Sunday? Good question.  We have tried in the past to have one service during Christmas and Easter at Abram Farm. COVID wiped both out last year. And it is going to wipe out meeting on Easter Sunday at Abram Farm this April.  That, and there being so many logistics we have to work out, just tells us to stay in our current building and offer two worship services as we are currently doing.  Keep watching for more information concerning Easter Sunday services.
  3. What about the children’s ministry classes? They are still in full-on mode. We have seen an uptick the past couple of weeks in students and we are excited about that. (I think I saw Ryan doing the Happy Dance the other day).  There are some other thoughts floating around about the youth area so stay tuned!
  4. Space seems to be an issue. What is in the works for more space? I’m glad you asked that! Before COVID hit we were already in discussions as a Building Team concerning an addition to our current facility. For obvious reasons we had to put that on the back burner as we waited to see what would happen, how long, and how we would be affected. Now that we are hopefully seeing the “light at the end of the tunnel,” I have asked the Building Team to reassemble on March 22nd to begin talking again about our options. Nothing is set in concrete (pun intended) so it will be a good time of discussion and ideas.  We will keep you up to date. Just for your information: we do currently have $115,125.50 in the Building Fund.  Thank you for your continued giving to the BF, even during the pandemic.

 

That leads me to a topic I seldom say much about, but should.  Thanks to God’s goodness and your generosity we have been a very blessed church. Each week it seemed as if I read or heard of churches closing, or looking to close in the future, or having to lay off staff because their finances have dried up. But week after week you all have come through in a big way.  I simply cannot say, “Thank you” enough for that. It has allowed us to continue ministering and helping others who really needed it.  That is only possible because of God blessing us and you following His lead. I can’t say it enough: Thank you.

One item of follow up. In last week’s MM I sent you a video of a friend, Mike Laws, and the tremendous work of God in their lives as a result of his son, Ryan’s kidney disease and ultimate failure. April 21st is kidney transplant day.  (Mike is donating his kidney to Ryan). They, and Trisha, his wife, have to isolate for 14 days previous to the surgery so my plan to visit and to pray with them in person cannot happen. Pray that they all stay healthy. Their older daughter, Brooklyn, will be staying with a friend so she can go to school.

“Changing your mind can change your life.” Think on that.

Space is running out for me. Who made me so long-winded?  🙂 Love you all.

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 02/24/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #46

 

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #46.  I’m b-a-a-a-a-c-k!  After taking a week off due to my surgery, I am eager to reach out to you this week. I really wanted to try to do a MM last week but with meeting with the pre-op doctor and then having to be at the hospital at 6:00 on Wednesday morning I decided it was wiser to wait instead of “throwing something together” just so you could get a MM. 🙂  As you probably know by now the surgery went well. I came home the same day and have enjoyed being taken care of my bully. I mean my nurse. She has taken exceptional care of her lousy patient. In fact, I asked her today (Monday) if she cared if I went to the Y. Yeah…that’s the kind of patient I am. I’m getting a little antsy/stir crazy/restless (take your pick of adjective) but I deferred to her wishes.  I have a follow up on Thursday. I’ll see how that goes. 🙂

 

Yesterday (Sunday) was an extra special day. Owen County is now in the Yellow which means we were able to add chairs and could have up to 100 in our auditorium. Of course, the reality is we can’t seat 100 people on a good day. We have the chairs; just not the room.  We did add about 10 chairs and it was good to see people in both services, especially the new faces.  It was especially good to see people returning who have, out of caution, chosen to stay away. I respect that and appreciate those who not only wanted to be safe, but also those who want to continue being safe. We will continue offering the live stream for you to watch. In fact, I can honestly promise (unless something goes horribly wrong) that live stream is here to stay. However, a shout out goes to you who have been joining us online and have been letting us know you are watching. Over the last two weeks we have been able to keep a fairly “accurate” count of those watching on their device and I have been pleasantly surprised of the number. So thank you for taking the words to heart about checking in.

 

Speaking of the live stream: we sure could use some help with volunteers for that and the sound board. No experience necessary. You will be taught!!

 

Okay…I need your help!  (No comments from the peanut gallery please).  Seriously, I would like to get your opinion and thoughts. During the month of March I will be preaching a series on the Cross and on the first Sunday in April it only stands to reason a sermon on the Resurrection. Then for the remaining 3 weeks Ryan and I will be finishing the series on Ecclesiastes.  Here is where you come in. I have two series running through my head right now. One is a series on the Gospel of Mark and the other is a series on Seeing the Heart of Jesus.  The latter will focus on how Jesus responded to people as He walked among them. The woman caught in adultery. Jairus and the woman with the issue of blood. The man born blind. The self-righteous Pharisee. The basic premise: with all the ugliness going on today, how would Jesus treat people? Maybe we can learn something. Ultimately, both series will be preached; I’m just looking for which one you’d like to hear first. Do you mind letting me know? Just shoot me an email (pastor@ovcf.org) or text me or respond to this email and Diana will forward it to me.  Thanks ahead of time.

 

Not being able to do much physical activity has given me the opportunity to read more at home than I normally do. I’ve been reading a book called After I Believe by James Emery White.   Short recap: now that I have become a Christ-follower, what’s next? He tells a story: the church in Russia met in small groups at night throughout the week in order to avoid arousing suspicion of the KGB informers. One of the underground small groups began to softly sing a hymn together when two soldiers walked in, pointed their guns at the group, and announced, “If you wish to renounce your commitment to Jesus Christ, leave now!” Two or three of the members left quickly, and after a few more seconds, two more.

Then one of the soldiers looked at the remaining group, pointed his rifle, and said, “This is your last chance. Either turn against your faith in Christ or stay and suffer the consequences.” Then he pulled the bolt of his gun back to make it ready to fire. Two more slipped out. No one else moved, not even the parents of little children cowering in fear. Then one of the soldiers shut the door, looked back at those who stood against the wall, and said, “Keep your hands up-but this time in praise to God. We too are Christians. But we have learned that unless people are willing to die for their faith, they cannot be fully trusted.”

 

That is a great story which raises a valid point: can I be trusted? Am I willing to follow Jesus no matter where it takes me and where He leads me? The obvious answer is none of us really knows what our response will be. We might be like Peter-a lot of braggadocio but short on staying power.  Or when push comes to shove we might really stand firm. I know which one I want to be. Let’s be prepared for whatever may come down the pike in 2021.

 

Have a great rest of the week.  I love you all and look forward to seeing you in the coming weeks.

 

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 02/10/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #45

Hello and welcome to midweek message #45!  I’m so glad you are taking the time to read this short note from me. I know some of you wait with bated breath each week for this and can hardly contain your excitement when you see it in your email. No? I’ll pray for you then! 🙂  Seriously, I do feel honored you would take the time out of your busy day to read these few words.  Thank you.

WOW! Winter sure has hit hasn’t it? Like I said in last week’s MM, after a lull that had us thinking, “Maybe…just maybe…we will get away with not much snow this winter” old man winter sure has hit with a vengeance.  When it started snowing Monday evening when the elders started our meeting at 5:00 and I didn’t think it was going to offer much. How wrong I was! By the 6:15 ending time the snow had really started coming down and accumulating. Park hill was fun. It would have been a great place to have had a sled, except for the guard rail, the bridge and the drop off into the White River at the other end.  But other than that it would be a great ride!

It sure was pretty though. Watching new fallen snow always gives me chills, I mean, always reminds me of spiritual truth. Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” (NLT) (Highlight mine) And please notice the promise from God, our Father.  Walk out your door after a newly fallen snow and see its purity and pristine beauty. That is exactly what Isaiah is picturing for us in that verse.  So take heart! While you are grumbling about having to shovel snow, remember God is giving you a vivid picture, a one-on-one illustration of His gracious and generous love.  It is a love which takes our sin and all that ugliness and makes us white as snow.

Okay, off my preacher box. 🙂 What do you expect though, right?

OVCF has a great opportunity this month to help provide for a very much needed and worthwhile local mission. New Beginnings Pregnancy Resource Center (NB) is having their annual diaper drive this month. We have chosen to partner with them because we believe in what they do. NB has been in Spencer for a long time, a lot longer than I have been here (15 years).  I was privileged to have served on the board at one time but had to step aside after my cycling accident. I had to find some respite and being involved in so many things needed to change. Anyway, I believe in the mission of NB, as do the leaders and many of the people. I hate to say it because it will sound political, but after Monday’s decision about not offering medical care to babies who live through an abortion, their mission becomes even more critical.  How can you help? Obviously, they will take financial help. But during this month you can help provide some much needed supplies. Their most needed supplies are diapers-size 4 & up; Pull-ups-all sizes; and baby wipes.  To help you out because NB has had to adopt some modified hours due to the pandemic, you may bring your gifts to OVCF during the week (we are always here in the morning) or on Sunday.  I would love to see NB flooded with the needed supplies.

I know you may think I am a broken record but I cannot stop talking about the elders of OVCF. I mentioned in MM#44 (the last one) that they have committed to praying for the church family. Last night I had us all switch names so each one of us will be praying for a different group of people this month. But let me also give you a brief rundown of some thoughts from last night’s meeting.  Last month I had given them various articles I have recently read about the church in 2020 and now in 2021.  Last night we discussed 5 Big Attitude Differences that Separate Growing Churches from Declining Churches. We not only had a good discussion, it also bled into next month’s article on 8 Disruptive Church Trends that Will Rule 2021. We all agreed that today’s church is not like yesterday’s church in many ways. One is a big one: the majority of attenders may no longer be in the room.  With the advent of live streaming the Sunday morning service, many will stay home. We acknowledge that and rather than fight it, we want to go with it. We will be talking about that more next month, but here is something you can help us with. We know many of you are watching online but choose not to (for various reasons) sign in and let us know you are there. Would you mind helping us with that? All you need to do is comment and say, “Bill and Jo are here.” (Please don’t). Or “the so-and-so family is here” with the number.  We are trying to get a more accurate count on those who are tuning into the live stream. And no, we won’t be sending Big Brother after you. Thanks for doing that for us.

And did you know we have two new additions to families this past week? Congrats to Rob and Cassie Hoene (Stella) and to Matt and Mary Beckwith (Kayliana).  I pray God will bless their socks off as they raise these two young ladies.

I love you guys and pray that you all stay safe and healthy.

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 02/03/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #44

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #44.  I hope your week is going well. After going almost all of December and January with barely a hint of snow and winter weather, we have gotten some lately. We can always look on the bright side and say we have not received the snow and blizzard-like conditions some folks have and did this weekend. Whew! I sure am glad I’m not in the Northeast right about now. I have a friend in Arizona and one is Florida [yes I have friends 🙂 ] who are sorta rubbing it in right now.  I told them I don’t want to speak to them.  We have one family who used to attend OVCF then moved to Florida to live and work and I asked him when he is moving back. He had the nerve to ask me, “Does it still snow in Indiana?” As if that should be a deciding factor!! 🙂  Above all though I hope you are staying warm and healthy.

These are interesting times we are living in. Not just the pandemic. Not just politically. Not even religiously (there is a lot of whacky stuff going on). We live in an age of unprecedented fear, anxiety and questions. I wrote in my Living in the Shadow blog (Here’s a shameless promotion: have you been reading it? Did you know you can sign up to get it in your inbox?) about reading an article last week about the Top 10 songs people turned to during the pandemic. Some I was unfamiliar with due to who sang or wrote them. But there were some which were a pleasant surprise. One was It is Well With My Soul.  I saw multiple versions that were sung by many groups all over the world…by Zoom. Another was Great is Thy Faithfulness-my favorite hymn. That would be the one I want sung at my memorial service. Another is No Longer Slaves. With lyrics like “I’m no longer a slave to fear/I am a child of God” it is no wonder. Isn’t it interesting that two hymns were the “go to” songs of a generation far removed from hymns? Tragically, so many people are living in fear-not just of Covid but of life itself-and are missing out on the peace and joy Jesus offers. I heard just yesterday of someone paralyzed by fear of the future. There is one lesson (among many) I have learned over the past year as the church has sought to do the right thing and watched God come through in big ways. One lesson: God is always faithful. Always. I once heard someone say, “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.”  Nowhere in the Bible do I see God bringing us to the fire, the water, a pandemic or whatever and then saying, “You are now on your own. Good luck with that.”  Nope. My Bible tells me God is a rock, a refuge, a shelter in the time of storm. It also tells me that He will never leave me or forsake me. I choose to take Him at His Word.  I hope you will and do. If not, now is a great time to start. Just pray a simple prayer of “Father, I’ve done a lousy job of trying to run my own life. I’m tired of living in fear and dread. Help me to live in the light of Your presence. Help me to turn all my affairs over to You.”

The month of February has been designated New Beginnings Pregnancy Resource Center (NBPRC) month. We were just going to announce the diaper drive but as the staff was talking and then as I evaluated my sermon on “Life is Sacred” from three weeks ago, we all felt it would be a good thing to focus on NBPRC this month. They are in need of diapers size 4 & up; pull ups (all sizes); and baby wipes. You can bring them here and we will make sure they get to NBPRC. Their hours are varied and also go along with the school system schedule (schools are closed, so are they). It may be easier for you to bring the supplies here to the church building.

Just a reminder to you: your elders are praying for you every day!  I have said it before and will say it again that I am so honored to be serving with men who love Jesus and love you. The fact that they would take time each day to pray for you and your family should speak volumes to you as well.  May I ask you to do something? How about letting them know how much you appreciate their prayers. A word. A note. A text.  A phone call.  They will be encouraged by your heart.

I leave you with three sayings I have kept under my blotter for a few months:

  • Jesus doesn’t collapse when your life does.
  • God doesn’t run away from runaways.
  • You can make excuses or you can make progress but you can’t make both.

 

I love you all. Thanks for praying for me.

Pastor Bill

 

P.S. We’d like to ask you to consider supporting Hilltop Christian Camp through the Polar Plunge.

POLAR PLUNGE INFO…

This year’s Polar Plunge is VIRTUAL, and we have the option to do it as a group. Eight brave, OVCF souls are rising to the challenge to do the Plunge this year together as a group. We have set a goal of $750 toward Hilltop’s 75th Anniversary Fund which will pay for the new zip line at Camp. You can contribute until Feb 14th directly to Ryan as cash/check (please make payable to Hilltop Christian Camp) or on the camp’s website: https://hilltopchristiancamp.com/donate (Click “Donate Directly”, then “designated” and in the comments type: “OVCF Polar Plunge Team”)

P.S. If you have questions, please contact Ryan (youthpastor@ovcf.org). Thank you!!

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