Category: MidweekMessage

Midweek Message 01/21/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #42

 

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #42! Thanks for taking the time to read this each week. I know it is the highlight of your week. 🙂  Some of you are probably wondering, “And I wonder what he is going to say this week that will be earth-shattering?” No? You are probably the wiser of us then.  Anyway, I’m glad you are taking the time to read this.

 

We had both our first in person and online service this past Sunday in four weeks. After being virtual for three weeks due to Covid, it was decided to cautiously take that first step to see how things would go. I had no idea what to expect to be honest. Getting back to pre-Covid days may never happen again. Who knows? It took us almost 3 months to start picking up some steam after the first shut down, then we found ourselves having to shut it down the Sunday after Christmas. But we made it through the first wave and with God’s help we will make it through this wave as well. I am totally convinced He is in charge and was not surprised by any of this. He knows the beginning and the end. Being the human I am I want to say, “Would you please hurry up and bring that end we all so badly want?” 🙂  We had some folks venture out and come Sunday. Some of you chose to stay home. And that’s okay. There is only one thing I ask: would you mind just saying, “I am here” or “The so-and-so family is here” or something like that so we can get an idea of how many are tuning in? Thanks.

 

I want to tell you about something your elders are doing. In December I asked them to start praying on a regular basis for the folks at the church. I took the directory that Diana puts together and divided it up between the 5 of us (3 elders plus Ryan and me).  For one whole month they were given a list of about 19-20 names to pray for. At the beginning of this month I shifted the list around so we would all be praying for a different group of people. I asked them to have the freedom to pray however they would like for you-every day for all or to split their list into equal numbers for each day. “Whatever floats their boat.” Speaking for myself, I have enjoyed praying for the folks I have had in December and now the new list in January. It sure beats the old “Father, be with the church family today.” That is such a general prayer I wonder even if it goes beyond the ceiling of the house. It has truly been a great experience for me to pray for the latter part of the alphabet and now the first part.

 

 

Now…here is where you come in. May I challenge you to do the same? If you are unsure start with the leaders (Wayne Akerson, Jeff Carlson, David Robertson, Ryan and me). Take one of us a day. Then maybe you can get a copy of the directory from Diana and start a prayer walk through the directory on your own. Even if you don’t know someone that won’t matter. God knows them and He hears your prayer for them. Take two or three a day if that is all the time you have. The amount of people you pray for does not matter; it is the fact that you prayed which does. If you have trouble understanding what I just said rack it up to my Covid brain and give me a call or text. I’ll try to explain better. And if you would like a copy of the directory and can’t get here to get one, I will be glad to bring it by your house and either visit or just leave it in your door. Diana is happy to e-mail you a copy of the directory as well, just ask (secretary@ovcf.org). J I honestly think it will change you and I know it will change the ones you pray for.

 

Speaking of the elders, we are blessed with some good men. In some of my reading I am astounded by the churches faltering because they have not adjusted or are unwilling to adjust to what is being called “the new normal.”  I will sarcastically say, “Normal? What is that?” Anyway, one of the big attitude differences that separates growing churches from declining churches is the “We Can vs We Can’t” mentality. To summarize: “Growing churches believe they can; Declining churches believe they can’t.”  Henry Ford once said, “Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re right.”  What I have appreciated about these men you have chosen to lead OVCF is that they are willing to try things and even if we are wrong, at least we tried.  Frankly, this whole mess we are in is not our preference. I personally liked it when we didn’t have to worry about live stream and people staying away. But that is no longer an option. We either do both or we don’t survive. I’m proud of working with men who said, “We gotta do this.” Supported it all the way and still do. I’ve worked with leadership who would have balked with the words “We never did it that way before.” (called the seven last words of the church).  Would I like to see our building full? Sure. We all would. But we gotta do what we gotta do. And your leaders were willing to try. You can thank God for men who were not stuck in the mud of the past. I sure am.

 

Well, my time is up for this week. I hope you are having and will have a good rest of the week. I love you all.

 

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 01/13/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #41

 

Hello!  Welcome to Midweek Message #41. I hope you are doing well, staying safe and healthy. Thanks for taking the time to read this week’s message.

 

Well, the first big announcement is that we will be back to two in-person services this week.  After a three-week hiatus, the elders have decided to bring people back together this week. After the staff and our spouses (and some family members) tested positive for ‘rona, and then it seemed like about 30-40% of the church family also tested positive (even those who had chosen to stay home and not take a chance of being exposed), it was decided the safest course was to go virtual. For three weeks it was Jo, Ryan and me on Sunday morning.  Why us? Well, we had all tested positive (and Jo and I do live together) 🙂 so we said, “The show must go on.” So on Sunday morning Jo did the Power Point and Ryan ran the live stream. And me? I just sat there and looked handsome. Ha. You can gag now. Except for the one week where Xfinity interrupted our service for almost 15 minutes, everything went well.  Now…since all of us are back to work and we took an assessment of the church family, we decided to cautiously offer in-person services. I reiterate the criteria:

  • If you feel lousy, please stay home and join us on-line.
  • If you feel hesitant, we understand. Again, stay home and join us online.
  • We will take the usual precautions here at the church building. Take advantage of the hand sanitizing stations, the individual communion servings, and be aware of those who might want their distance.
  • We ask that you help us by wiping down your seat, door handles, etc. with a wipe provided to help sanitize the area for the next person.

 

As we have said in the past, this will be evaluated on a week-by-week basis.  We are aware of the “Red” status of Owen County, but I am especially appreciative of Governor Holcomb’s desire not to police churches. Frankly, I believe we should be “adult” enough to do that ourselves.  “Red” says no gathering over 25.  That brings up a point: why still have two services since you don’t know how many will come back and the numbers may be slim? That is exactly why two services. While Gov. Holcomb has not mandated churches, we do not want to take advantage of our “freedom” and abuse it. We may barely reach that number the first service but since the children’s program will be operating, we don’t want to take a chance of overloading that second service.  So please, if you have any questions, direct them to the staff or one of the elders (Wayne Akerson, Jeff Carlson, and David Robertson). We will do our best to answer any questions you have.

 

I hope you took the time to read the short note which is written in the email carrying this MM.  My use of a possible “off-base name” for the virus had the potential for misunderstanding and a hindrance to the spread of the Gospel. I had two men who cared about me and the Gospel say something to me. I was mortified that what I wrote could have been so offensive it would turn someone away from hearing the Gospel.  That is a prelude to what I want to mention here.  I say this with all the love I can muster. I am not on social media of any kind, except my blogs which are not widely read as far as I know. (You read them I know!!)  Anyway, even though I am not on FB or Twitter or any of the other media sites, I hear. I have ears that listen. And what I am hearing is distressing me. Social media is not a place to air your dirty laundry and spew out vitriol and hate speech and political opinions so rabid that it would make Jesus blush. In fact, I would suspect He would say, “Stop! Do those words project me? Do those words show my heart?” Social media is like texting in some ways. I do text a lot but I also realize I have to be careful how and what I text since the possibility for misunderstanding is magnified. Comments on social media are the same. Dialogue is good; inflammatory rhetoric is not. Our country is divided enough as it is without followers of Christ adding to it. Sadly, unless checked, it can also filter into the church. So instead of seeing a brother or sister in Christ, you see an adversary. Here are some simple rules for commenting online and even in person:

  1. Does it glorify Jesus? Would people know I belong to Him by what I have just posted?
  2. Is it kind? Recently it was brought to my attention how judgmental someone was toward another when commenting about wearing/not wearing a mask. I’m wondering since when were we given the right to judge another person and say “they got sick because they don’t wear a mask all the time”? Case in point: Tami wore a mask all the time-school, in public, even at church- but she still got it. You don’t know the circumstances surrounding anyone getting ‘rona so be careful of being judgmental. It borders on self-righteousness.

 

My space is up so I’ll sign off for this week. Thanks for reading. Remember I love you and look forward to seeing you in person (someday).

 

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 01/06/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #40

 

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #40.  You missed me didn’t you? Now be careful what you say. You could destroy a super sensitive ego if you say, “You were gone?  Seriously?”  Not really but it helps to dream doesn’t it?  🙂 I guess one could say the ‘ol COVID virus took out its revenge on me. But I can honestly say I have not had it as bad others have. Many in our church family picked up this strain that was particularly nasty and raised my prayer level for them. I’m continuing to pray for those who have recovered and especially for those who now have it. All of the staff and their spouses got it. But praise God we are all on the mend.

 

Diana has already sent out an email telling you about being virtual only again this Sunday. Trust me when I say this is NOT what any of us wants. The elders, the staff, no one. But it is the safest way to go to stop the spread of this virus in our church fellowship and our community. As Diana’s note also mentioned we will continue to monitor this on a week-by-week basis. Each week the staff gets together on Thursday to look at the stats and what is suggested for OC. We made it earlier this week due to the ugly stats we are facing and the hard times our church family is enduring.  Thanks for understanding and please, if you have any questions, just ask.

 

Many of you were watching the live stream this past week and then all of a sudden lost it. Ryan posted on the church’s FB page and on YouTube that we had an internet outage here at the church which lasted approximately 7-10 minutes. I could see Jo signaling to Ryan and then see him rushing around trying to figure out what was wrong. I appreciate his diligence in trying to troubleshoot the problem. It was not our equipment nor yours. It was something beyond our control. At the end of the broadcast Ryan did come up and tell what happened and mentioned that you could go to the podcast on the church’s website and listen for that missing section. And to think…it was a dynamite sermon. LOL

 

I think most people are familiar with Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper and Magnolia Farms in Waco, TX. When Jo and I happened upon Fixer Upper in 2019 I was instantly captivated by the show. I am not a DIY person (unfortunately) but loved watching the transformation of a house. Of course, you would expect me to make the connection to the transformation of a person, but that is not my point here. At the beginning of the year, Chip posted the following blog on Magnolia. I included it in Cycleguy’s Spin blog for the New Year, and even though I’m sure many of you read my blog, I still thought I would include it here for you:

 

Let’s just call it like it is: 2020 was rough. Not rough around the edges. Not rough in a lovable sort of way. Just straight up rough.

Watching the news, hearing messages of doubt, and division, stories of loved ones passing away, seeing so many lose their jobs and live at odds with their neighbors. That stuff gets to me, it’s heartbreaking, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

But you don’t need another reminder of what this year cost. Across the board, we all lost something. We all sacrificed something. We all watched something we had worked incredibly hard for be put on hold or forgotten or lost altogether. And without a doubt, we need time to grieve and reflect on the heartbreak, the sadness, and the loss.

But maybe today is a time to be reminded that darkness always gives way to light, that endings always give way to new beginnings. That the ups don’t last forever, and neither do the downs. Between peaks there are always valleys, and no matter how long we’re in the valley, we can always look up and see that we’re not just wandering around in vain, that hope really does carry us forward.

It’s been said that there’s a time for everything. A time for weeping and a time for laughing. A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to mourn and a time to dance. We’ve all lived through these varying seasons before, but never all together. This year changed that.

And it got me thinking.. whatever it is that divides us pales in comparison to the thread that weaves us together, that guides us toward an understanding of why we’re all here. What it all means. What this life we’ve been given is really for.

For me, as I step into 2021, I know we can all love more. We can all understand more. We can all listen and learn more. We get a say in how we respond to all that’s happened in 2020, how much hope we’re going to carry across the valley and how much light we’re going to shine into the darkness. Through the words we speak. Through forgiveness. Through how we engage with our neighbors. Through the way we empathize with those who have lost in unimaginable ways. Through the way we talk to our kids about all that’s going on. Through the way we support those in need. We get to decide how much goodness and beauty is shared throughout our homes, our cities, the world. Right now, wherever we are.

I pray we take with us the eternal lessons of 2020 and hold fast to the hope that is just around the corner.

Good words I want to leave you with this week. Love you much.

 

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 12/30/2020

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #39

Good morning and welcome to Midweek Message #39!  I appreciate you taking some time out of your busy day to spend a little bit of time with me. Of course, that is if you read this. If not then I guess you are missing out on one of the best part of your day…despite what Folgers says. Anyway, I am glad you are here.

First up is a reminder about our food bags. Food is coming in but names are not. To date we have received one name. In the past this has not been a problem because we offered bags to those who came in for breakfast or when we delivered food to them. But, as you know, that breakfast has gone the way of just about everything else due to ‘rona so we are short on names. So please…if you know of anyone who needs some food please let Jo know or call the church office (812.828.9840).  The information will be recorded and passed along.

Second, this a friendly reminder about the Christmas Eve service at 6:00.  It will include some singing of carols, communion and a short meditation. My reason for having one is simple: we all need a time to relax and get away and enjoy the season. We are even going to laugh a bit during the evening. It might last 45 minutes but I can promise it will be worth it.

Third, even though this may be a weird season to say we are going to celebrate Christmas, the real meaning and joy of the season is not confined by walls, doors or a virus. The last I heard the size of a person’s heart cannot be determined by outside influences.  May I suggest you get creative in your way of showing you care? Pick up your phone and text or call, or horror of horrors, send a card with a hand-written note in the mail. Of course if you do the latter you may have to have the emergency squad standing by. It might be such a shock to someone’s system to actually receive something the old-fashioned way. Here’s another suggestion: how about finding some children and send them a card and include a small gift card of $5 or so for some place to eat? I have yet to meet a child who didn’t like to receive mail and none…zero…NONE…who didn’t like a gift card to eat somewhere.  And DO. IT. LOCALLY! You are making both a child happy (and their parents), but also helping the local businesses. You will be glad you did and it will make your heart so warm you won’t need hot chocolate.

Fourth, for several Midweek Messages I thanked people for their contribution to the ministry of OVCF on Sunday morning. The teachers and helpers in the youth department. The teenagers who help lead the worship in the youth department. The two ladies who help at the check-in desk. Those who are involved in the live stream and some “techie” stuff on Sunday. We have several who each week make sure the soundboard is manned (or is that also womanned?) Thank you, Macy and Emily for joining the soundboard team! I think all these folks deserve a round of applause. Thanks to all of you for a job well-done, even when you try to silence me.

I’m not too sure about writing a MM next week. You all have enough to do during the Christmas week without me clamoring for your time. So please allow me to share some thoughts with you that I recently read. They are from a Christmas devotional called Come Let Us Adore Him by Paul David Tripp (a highly recommended one by the way). I am on my 6th time through in the last 4 years. While writing about Isaiah 9:6-7 he gave the following ideas on what every sinner desperately needs:

  1. The government would rest on the shoulders of Jesus. Everyone one of us needs freed from the bondage of self-rule. He is the bondage-breaker.
  2. Jesus would be a Wonderful Counselor to us. Sin makes us all fools. Jesus came to rescue us from ourselves.
  3. Jesus would unleash mighty power on our behalf. His power enables us to defeat our enemy. We have an Almighty God on our side!
  4. Jesus would lavish on us His fathering care. He is one Father who will not let us down, speak harshly to us, do things that would harm us, or turn his back on us.
  5. Jesus’s reign would be righteous in every way. Not righteous as in the slang of today. Gone is corruption, selfishness, and injustice.
  6. Jesus’s rule would never, ever end. His is a kingdom without end.
  7. God will make sure that what He promised would happen. Unlike so many today who don’t keep their word, God is the opposite.

 

What better news is that? I’d suggest putting that in some stockings and give it as a gift to yourself and to others. Have a great rest of the week and an even better Christmas week. I love you all. I am “proofing” this on Wednesday before Diana sends it. Would someone please tell me what that white stuff is that blanketed my car?

 

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 12/08/2020

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #38

Good morning and welcome to week #38 of the Midweek Message. I hope this finds you and those you love doing well. If my calculations are correct (it is math after all and I don’t do math well) when you get this there will be 16 days until Christmas. I’m going to get out my crystal ball and predict that Christmas will be different for most, if not all, of us this year. I mean, let’s face it. It is 2020 after all so what can we expect? I know ours will be different for sure. No trip to Ohio for us or for Janna and Braden to come here. Either Tami will have to quarantine or Janna will for her work. So I guess we go to the UPS store to have everything packed and shipped. Then let’s hope Skype or Zoom works. I have already heard of family gatherings that have been canceled. But church life continues and I have several items of interest for you.

First, this coming weekend we have been challenged by Steve and Erin Pendleton to sign up for a 24 hour prayer vigil, particularly focusing on our country. Several signed up Sunday on the physical copy. Monday Diana sent you the link to the Google Docs so you can sign up online. Steve and Erin’s desire is for us to blanket that 24 hour time period with prayer. They are asking you to sign up for a 15 minute time slot, and you can choose as many as you want. Their desire is we take that time for personal confession and repentance, and to also pray for our country and leaders and against the evil forces of the enemy. The dates are December 12-13 from 8:00 a.m. Saturday to 8:00 a.m. Sunday.

Second, because we have had to change our normal fare of fixing breakfast on Christmas morning for the community, we switched gears just a bit. We still have people in the community who are in need of food so we have decided to make bags of food available to anyone you may know. Rather than take a chance that we would have random food brought in, we have compiled a list of food items we would like to have. That list is available here at the building or you can call the church office (812.828.9840) for the list. We would like to have the food here by the 20th; assemble the bags on the 21st; and have curbside pick-up from 10-2:00 on the 22nd. As I mentioned in the last MM, we will not be announcing this to the community but we do want you to help us get the word out by giving us names of folks/families you know who may need some help this Christmas.  One of the important lessons Jesus taught was “when I was hungry you fed me.” We feel that is something we can help with this Christmas. So if you know of anyone who needs help, please give us their information (we have forms to fill out), or have them call the church office giving your name as a reference. If they are unable to pick up the food, we would ask that you deliver it if you gave us their name. If that is impossible please let me know and I will make arrangements to have it delivered. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Jo at 812.821.1897 or the church office (number previously given).  With Covid playing havoc with jobs, school and schedules, I’m sure we all know someone who could use some help.

Third, the magic number is 16!!!  That is the magic number for those who came to our first masked service this past Sunday.  There have been a number of folks who have been tuning in online to watch the live stream but have occasionally mentioned how much they miss “church.” But they feel very strongly about masks being worn and so they have chosen to not come. After talking with some of them, they were excited to consider a masked service separate from our two on Sunday morning. This past Sunday afternoon we had 16 at a 2:00 masked service. Afterwards we had a Q & A time and it was decided to have a masked service the first Sunday of every month at 1:30. Announcements. Prayer time. Communion. Sermon.  The plan is to keep it within an hour. You are more than welcome to come. Just know a mask is required. And pass the word around to others you know who would love to go to church but can’t. I promise no sheep-stealing or recruiting.

I see my space is running short so let me give you some brief information on a couple of items. I can give more detail in the next MM.

  • We are going to offer a short Christmas Eve service at 6:00. With the upset of our normal Christmas routine, I thought it would be good to offer a respite. Music. Communion. Short devotion. It should all happen in the space of about 45 minutes. Love to have you.
  • The elders of OVCF really do care about each of you. Over the next several months you will be the focus of prayer by each one of them. The directory has been divided evenly (fun fact: 9.6 families. Who is the .6?) During the month of December they will be praying for “their list” and then in January the lists will be swapped. Not only will you be prayed for specifically, you may also expect some form of correspondence (email, card, text) from them. I’m honored to work alongside men who care about more than just making decisions.

 

Well, my space has run short. Know you are loved.

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 12/02/2020

Midweek message #37

Good morning and welcome to Midweek Message #37.  I find it hard to believe that I am still writing this MM. I started it in order to just keep in touch with you shortly after ‘rona hit and I saw that it was having a greater impact on you and me than I originally thought it would. And I don’t think anyone…ANYONE…ever thought it would still be playing havoc with our lives almost 10 months later. But here we are. Life has changed dramatically in so many ways and I believe I can honestly say it will never be the same. But I’m glad I serve a God who never changes. Who never moves. Who never cracks. Who never panics. Who never bites His fingernails and wonders what He is going to do next. Psalm 27:1 is still true: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

It will be December 2 when you get this and the Christmas season will be into full swing. No doubt some things will change (we anticipate spending Christmas here this year, for example). Our annual Thanksgiving meal was cancelled (wisely) but an ongoing result of the virus is the change to our Christmas plans. We didn’t do the Giving Tree, opting instead to give a monetary donation to Tri Kappa to help them purchase gifts for children in our community. (We received a really nice note of thanks from them). Every year we also offer a Christmas breakfast at the Lion’s Club. This year that has also changed. There will be NO Christmas breakfast this year. However, we can’t forget about our community. So Jo & I would like your help in reaching people in our community. We all know people/families who will be in desperate need for food. We are asking you to pick up one of the lists of canned goods and non-perishables we would like to include in bags and bring that food to the church building before the 20th. We will pack them on the 21st and then distribute them on the 22nd. It will be curbside pickup only. The exception would be if the person is unable to come then the person giving their name would be responsible for delivering it. But here’s the deal: an open invitation will NOT be given to the community. I hate to say it but every Tom, Dick and Harry will be bombarding us if we do. However, if you know someone who needs help, you can give us their name or have them call the church office (812.828.9840) and have them give us your name as a reference. We will then put together a couple bags of food for them. We anticipate “rogue” phone calls for help (as well as every other food bank in the tri-county area) so unless you give us their name or they give us your name as a reference, they will not receive any food. Sadly, we have to do this because every holiday brings out those who want to “use” the system and organizations. There are forms to fill out with name, address and number of people in the family. We will do all we can to help people the best we can. But as you can see, we definitely need your help in making it happen.  And here is some further help: if you would prefer not to shop for the food, you can give money to me, Jo or the church and we will do the shopping for you! Can’t beat that can you?

On to another subject: there was some interest shown in the “masked” service idea.  I’ve contacted those who did respond. It is not too late to give your thoughts as to whether you would like to attend one. At this point, I plan to offer one this Sunday, the 6th at 2:00. That will be the initial one and then those who attend can discuss in detail the next steps. This will at least be a starter and then we can go from there.  I can tell you the service will be simple-Communion; the sermon that I preached that morning; and a discussion time following as we try to figure this out in more detail. There will obviously be no nursery or children’s program.  And keep this in mind: anyone is invited to attend! Just remember you must wear a mask.

FYI: Steve and Erin Pendleton have a burden of praying for our country, especially at this time. And I believe we would all agree it is needed. They would like to have a 24 hour prayer vigil on December 12-13 starting at 8:00 a.m. on the 12th and running through 8:00 a.m. on the 13th. You will be asked to sign up for 15 minute time slots and you can sign up for as many as you like. You may sign up as a single, a couple or with some friends.  Erin will have a hard copy for you to sign this Sunday and Diana will include a link in the bulletin she will be sending later this week. Steve and Erin will be telling us more from the pulpit during announcement time this Sunday.  Any questions you have should be answered at that time.

The Christmas season is upon us. I know for many this will not a fun time. One of the messages of Christmas is the Love, Joy and Peace available to all. Jesus came to bring and to give all of those to us. Of all people, we who are Christ-followers have the most to be excited about. We have embraced the message of those three words and we have the privilege of sharing that message with a world that so desperately needs it. That last statement-“the world so desperately needs it”- is said every year. But I think it is safe to say it most definitely is true this year. After all 2020 has brought us, Jesus brings us something much, much better. Those three words should resound inside us. Let me challenge you to find someone whom you might know needs to hear about those three words.  In the meantime, always remember you are loved.

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 11/25/2020

midweek message #36

Hello and welcome to an early edition of the Midweek Message. I had thought about not doing one this week but after last week’s lengthy MM, I thought I would add this one and just get it out early.

I think we are all tired of a lot of things right now.  The virus and all the life changes it is bringing about. The political arena and its mess. The economic upheaval as we “watch” the market fluctuate, unsure of what is to come. The realization that some will truly suffer this Thanksgiving and we feel like our hands are tied. To top it off I suspect many of us don’t feel like being thankful.  Well…my plan for this MM and my hope is that it will give you something to hope in and be grateful for.

Over the past two weeks in my sermon, I have emphasized four reasons why we can be thankful for God’s blessings. I’d like to start out by reiterating them for you:

  1. God’s blessings are numerous and varied. God’s blessings are as different as you and I are. We are not cookie cutters, all alike, and all blessed the same way.
  2. God’s blessings are beyond what we deserve. When someone asks me how I’m doing I will often answer, “Better than I deserve.”  I am continually amazed and astounded at the richness of God’s blessings on my life.
  3. God’s blessings are poured out on the just and the unjust. This is hard for some to understand but it is true. Don’t compare-focus on the way we have been blessed.
  4. God’s blessings have a purpose. No follower of Christ was ever meant to keep God’s blessings to himself. I have a saying: “Blessed to bless.”

 

And keep in mind that sharing your blessings doesn’t mean it has to be money. It can be a smile. A compliment. A kind word.  Go old school and send a note in the mail. The important thing is that we make an effort to share our thanks with someone else by blessing them.

I recently read an article entitled Pastors, Choose Gratitude Over Grumbling.  Obviously it was directed to pastors, especially those who pastor contentious churches. People choose to take sides in the way the church is “run;” the direction it is going; even in politics. He concluded his article by giving eight practical ideas to spur gratitude for the church where God has placed the pastor. I want to modify them some to make them applicable to us all. So here are seven practical ideas which you can use to be grateful for and express that thanks to God:

  1. Recall God’s faithfulness and power throughout OVCF’s history. I know some of you do not know our history but God has been with us since our beginning in 2004. We would not be where we are today if not for His blessings. Through floods. Through the temporary meeting place to making this building available. Through struggles and joys, He has always been there.
  2. Thank God for His salvation. There is no greater gift given to us than this. Jesus dying on the cross for our sins and the salvation it brings is worth our praise alone. What a huge gesture on God’s part!
  3. Observe how God is at work and thank Him for it. Even something like a virus can’t stop God’s work. Take stock of how this time has caused you to grow and mature.
  4. Take time out of your day to pause and thank God for the little things that come your way. The kind word of a friend. The hug of a child. The kiss from a spouse. Your job. It just takes recognizing the little things.
  5. Tell others about God’s goodness to you. Even over the past 9-10 months we still can find something to be thankful for. Share it with a friend. Make sure your family is aware of God’s faithfulness and goodness.
  6. Talk with others about how they are doing. Don’t isolate yourself from others. I have found that when I am “down” sharing with others or spending time with others alleviates that. I come away refreshed. There are ways to do that if not in person.
  7. Redirect your heart away from grumbling and complaining. The enemy (Satan) wants to use any opening to get into your head and heart. Number your blessings. Don’t allow those negative thoughts to find a home.

 

That’s all I have to say for this week. Short. Positive. Encouraging. So I’ll close with this: I am so grateful to be your pastor. Many of you don’t know it but this past week was the anniversary of my first official week in 2004. I have never regretted coming to the small town of Spencer. There have been highs and lows; ups and downs; people coming and people leaving. Some have visited and stayed, while others have visited and never returned. Some have gone to other churches and sadly, some have left and gone nowhere. But that is church life. In reality, that is life…period. I have learned the best thing I can do is to serve the people God has given me, to shepherd them as best I can. So this Thanksgiving, I will be sending up a huge “thank you” to God for you.  Thank you for the privilege of serving you. I love you all.

One more thing: last week I mentioned about looking into a “masked” service.  Response has been positive. If you are interested, please let me know.

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 11/18/2020

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #35

 

These are crazy times aren’t they? There is one thing we can say for sure. Life sure isn’t boring, is it?  Take this past Sunday, for example. After about 6 weeks of all virtual we finally got back to in person worship. That first Sunday saw 88 people make their way here. It slowly and steadily grew into the 90s but then we were able to open the children’s wing for classes and we found ourselves hitting the 120s. Still below pre-COVID by a lot but at least we were making our way back. Then this past Sunday all virtual again. Thanks for adjusting for that.

If you tuned in Sunday you heard why. Thursday, the 5th, Diana and I met with some ladies outside at the MyPath pavilion. Tuesday we learned that one of them tested positive for COVID, so we decided to be cautious and quarantine. It was decided I would preach on Sunday with only three people here-Ryan, Jo and me.  That new equipment worked well and I hope you were able to tune in and listen.

So what now? The elders met last night (Monday) to figure that out.  We remain committed to upholding the values we established earlier this year:

  • We want to be safe.
  • We want to learn as we go and continually improve.
  • We want to follow the rules.
  • We want to go slow as we ramp up.
  • We will continue live streaming.

 

IMHO we have done fairly well with those. We have maintained that if you are in the high risk or vulnerable group that you either consider watching live stream or wear a mask. At the meeting I presented an article I found which asked what should churches do now that COVID is spiking again?  The main reason I did that is to ask: Do we need to take a step back?   The answer: yes and no. Here is what we decided:

  1. We will have two services in person this Sunday and continuing forward. We believe gathering together is so sacred that we need to keep the in person option open.
  2. We will do our best to honor the capacity limit of 50 people each service/area based on our county metric being ORANGE right now. We will not turn anyone away. If we exceed that limit, we may add additional service times to alleviate our crowding.
  3. We will continue to arrange seating, as we have been, to allow for appropriate social distancing.
  4. Although we will not make it a requirement, we encourage the use of masks, especially for those who are at high risk or have an increased vulnerability. We love to see everyone but if you are in the high risk or vulnerable group or unsure about participating, please consider joining us for the live stream services.

 

None of the leaders is in favor of not having in person service. We will do everything we can to accommodate what will allow us to meet in person.

 

In fact, here is something we tossed around (an idea given to us by someone): We would like to try a “masks required” service (a service where everyone wears a mask) on a different day/time of the week. It may be scaled down some but it will at least give some folks the chance to see others. Are you interested in that? Please let me know:

  • What day or night works for you?
  • How often would you like to meet?
  • Would you be okay with a scaled down service that might not include the Worship Team?

 

And one more thing on that: the youth program WILL meet this Sunday at 10:45. The teachers can’t wait to see their students again.

I have to put a plug in here for Ryan. When we knew we were going online only this past Sunday, Ryan decided to do the same for the Sunday night ROOTS youth group. The attendance was about half but I appreciate Ryan’s heart to not go rogue, but also to creatively have something for the teens.

I was not going to have a MM next week due to Thanksgiving but with the length of this one, I was unable to include some information. Look for a MM message the early part of next week. I guess I could call it the EMM (Early Midweek Message).

Thanks for understanding and “going with the flow” this past Sunday. It has been said that OVCF has always been a church that adapts well. We have had to do that with floods and construction. And now we can say that about COVID. I’m honored to be the pastor of such fantastic people and to serve alongside some good men who truly love Jesus and OVCF.  Love you all!

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 11/11/2020

MIDWEEK MESSAGE 34

 

Good morning and welcome to MM #34!  I hope you are having a great week so far and that the rest of the week is even better.  Okay…so where to start? Well, I can promise you this: it will not be politics.  Tell you what. Let’s make a deal.  Let’s leave all that junk behind during this MM and talk about some good things.

The past few MMs I have tried to focus on people who are making a difference.  I have told you about the teachers and helpers in our youth department.  I wrote about how some of our young people are taking the initiative and helping our youth program by leading in worship during their group time.  I told you about the two ladies who make sure our youth sign in area is running smoothly. And last week I mentioned to you about the individuals who are helping in the live stream area. This week I want to draw your attention to the other “unsung” heroes on Sunday mornings.

  • Did you know that every week I send an outline of my sermon to Diana, Ryan Spires (who still puts content on our website) and hand-deliver one to Jo? I’m guessing you can probably figure out why I do that. 🙂 Every week Jo sits in front of the computer and types my outline on Power Point slide after Power Point slide. She does the same for all the songs we sing. She proofs it over and over to make it right. Even Tami has helped some. I think she is fantastic! (No bias there). Week after week she does all the typing and except for help occasionally from Kathleen Glaser Armacost and Tami, she is there every week for both services.  Fun fact: I have occasionally said, “Hon, please put up the next slide” and it wasn’t her…it was Kathleen! I sure am glad Gary is a good guy!
  • Every week several people run the sound board. Times have changed and with new technology they may think they are not as important, but I disagree! After all, they control my mic. (Now that is scary!) Thanks Ray, Linda, Macy, Vicki, and Emily (a newbie)!
  • I’m betting I forgot someone so look for an apology next week. LOL

 

Every week there are some forgotten people. They are those who tune in online and watch the live stream. It is easy to forget them as “out of sight out of mind” but that would not be fair. They stay home for various reasons. I know some who have jokingly (least I hope it is) commented they really enjoy watching church from their recliner, in their pajamas, and a bowl of cereal in their lap. I hope it isn’t in their lap but in their bowl. Others are watching because of health reasons. I know some who are watching because they are unable to come so far. My friend, Dave from Arizona, is one of them. I also know there are some who prefer to stay home due to Covid.  All are legitimate reasons (except maybe the recliner one 🙂 ) but truthfully, I am glad to see there are those who watch. That is why live streaming is here to stay. I miss seeing the folks on a personal basis but respect their wishes and it warms my heart to know they still care enough to watch. I long for the day when we can all rejoice together again.

We have been through a lot in 2020. If you don’t mind, I’d like to share some thoughts with you from Dr. Lee Warren, a brain surgeon and a podcaster I listen to. The book of Habakkuk in the OT is a very short but powerful book. Habakkuk asks the same questions we all have asked sometime in the past, in the present, or may in the future: Why? and How long?  Here are six helpful lessons I gleaned from Dr. Warren’s podcast;

  1. God’s ways are different than ours, but we can trust Him.
  2. God is always in control, even in times of great chaos and confusion.
  3. God always wants what’s best for us, but sometimes getting there is really hard.
  4. Our job is not to always understand HOW God works, but to trust that He IS working on our behalf all the time.
  5. We can never find peace or joy in circumstances, only through faith.
  6. We get frustrated when we think God should work on our timeline, but we get peace when we relax and realize His timing is always perfect.

 

If you take the time to read Habakkuk you will notice he wants answers to his questions. I’m going to be honest: being patient and waiting is not a strong suit of mine. I’ve gotten better as I’ve matured but it sure is taking a long time! I think the lesson we can learn is important. We have no control over things in our life-daily routine, spouse, children, world events, you name it- but we know the One who does. I figure it’s time to trust Him with my daily life and the outcome of every day. Any takers with me?

On a more serious note: with the recent outbreak of Covid in our community, we have decided it is wiser to cancel our Thanksgiving meal for the safety of all involved.  Maybe Christmas will be different!  I love you all.

 

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 11/04/2020

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #33

Good morning and welcome to MM #33!  I appreciate you taking some time from your busy day to cozy up and read this.

It sure is hard to believe Thanksgiving will be here in just a few weeks. Even amidst the year we have had time still seems to fly right on by us.  This came home to me even more as I have been working on sermons. I finished my two sermons involving Thanksgiving and have been working on my Christmas sermons.  Now, that will get you wired!  Christmas already?  Yep, in less than two months.  6 ½ weeks. 51 days. Sorry I don’t know the amount of hours, minutes and seconds. The math taxed my brain to figure out the weeks and days.  🙂  Anyway, time flies by us. I guess that is why one of my philosophies to enjoy life while I can. Make the best of it now. No, I’m not espousing my best life is now. I am saying that we need to live life fully and abundantly as Jesus said we could.  (John 10:10)

One of the “most fun” things I have done over the past couple of years is the Real Men Read program.  It was sponsored by the United Way in Bloomington. They asked for men to read to Kindergarten classes. Ryan was the first of us when he started reading to Cara King’s class at MCES.  He liked it so well I thought I would try it. I have been reading to Mrs. Lee’s class at SES for the past 3 years. The RMR program was suspended this year in Owen County (for some crazy virus thing) so I contacted Mrs. Lee about reading on my own. Tami, our daughter, is a Kindergarten teacher so she has plenty of books I can borrow and Mrs. Lee said that it sounded like a great idea. We have had to make some changes, like I had to read outside the first time. It has been cancelled several times for various reasons (one of them because it was raining) but today (Tuesday) I am scheduled to read. It has to be outside, which I am okay with. That may be sort of tough to do in the winter months though.  🙂  So I will enjoy it while I can.  Maybe I can do “Frosty the Snowman” one of those days!!  Given how cold it might be maybe I could find a book about Frosty and his popsicles. Okay…I can see you rolling your eyes as you read.  But then again, maybe I gave you a chuckle at my lame attempt at humor.

The past few weeks I have tried to focus on the youth area and highlight them some. This week I’d like to begin a couple of weeks focusing on some adults. During the pandemic when we were shut down, we were just one of many churches who were not ready for broadcasting our services. But that first Sunday, Tami took her iPhone and broadcast to our FB group. I heard I was like a bad Japanese movie- the audio and video were not in sync. Each week Tami worked hard at making it better and she succeeded. I was still like a bad Japanese movie. An actor I’m not. 🙂 Then someone donated money to buy some new equipment and the quality changed overnight. First, thanks to the person who made the donation! Second, I owe a big, huge shout out to Ryan for getting the equipment up and running! He was way out of his comfort zone when we started this. I can’t say enough about how Ryan persevered, wanted to give up, then kept going. Until…Joe Pavich stepped up to the plate. Man, Joe was a lifesaver. He saved Ryan’s sanity. And he saved a lot of headaches. Each week it improved. Joe trained Karen Turner to do the live stream and she now does the first service.  Austin, whom Ryan met while doing ministry at the high school, is now involved in helping with the second service. So my shout out this week goes to those involved in the streaming of our weekly services. Thanks Ryan, Joe, Karen and Austin!

One last thought: I mentioned earlier than I have been working on Christmas sermons. My theme is A Grand Production. (Every time I type that my fingers want to do “Grandi” instead of Grand. Why is that?) It hit me this morning how appropriate the Christmas message is. Today, Tuesday, is voting day.  I have no clue how it will turn out. Neither do you.  I would ask two things though: First, we all remain civil to each other even though we may disagree on our choices. Second, we pray for our country no matter the results. Only God can bring the spiritual revival which is needed. But what struck me as I worked on my sermon this morning was how relevant and how the Christmas message of “Peace on earth” is so desperately needed. And just think: we have the story to share.  There is no question our country is in an upheaval.  Hate speech. Mean acts. Vitriolic words. Cities burning. Peoples’ lives taken for granted.  I wrote a blog about what Jesus has done for E.VE.R.Y.O.N.E. because to Him All Lives Matter.  I based it on Romans 10: 9-17 where it uses the word “Everyone” twice and the word “All” once.  The love of Jesus is for all people-no matter their class, color, creed, political persuasion, lifestyle, status, job, or lot in life. He loves each one and offers His peace to all.  My prayer for you, for me, for our world, is to come to Jesus, the only One who can give the meaning to life so many crave.

Well, I’ll step off my soapbox and say thanks for reading.  I hope you have a great rest of the week. I say this seriously: I love you.

Pastor Bill

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