Category: MidweekMessage

Midweek Message 09/22/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #76

 

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #76!  Today is considered the first day of Fall. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’m glad life is moving along (at least for me… 🙂 ) and I know there are many who love the Fall weather, but I have a different “take.”  The first day of Fall means one day closer to Winter and I know I am definitely NOT looking forward to that. But it is what it is so I rejoice I have another day to live.

 

I want to give a shout out to the Connection Women’s Ministry this week. Sally Carlson and Hope East have really worked hard to form a ministry where the women of OVCF can “connect.” They were just getting some “legs” when COVID hit and, of course, that put everything on the backburner. Except…the prayer ministry that Adienne Robertson had started. They were meeting and praying via ZOOM. Now that things have started returning to “normal” the Connections Ministry is trying to gain some steam again. They recently had a Bunco Night which Jasmine St. John did a wonderful job organizing (so I have been told). Future plans include a Ladies’ Night Out planned for October23rd; a pitch-in Brunch on November 20th; and after a break for December, a Coffee and Chocolate get together for January 29th. If my memory serves me correctly (and that could be suspect these days), that was one of the last events they had before COVID shut everything down.  If you want to know more, Diana made cards with all the events and they are on the back table (& bulletin board by the offices).  Way to go ladies!!

 

An event which captures the whole church family is “17 on the 17th.”  OVCF celebrates our 17th anniversary on October 17th.  I mentioned Sunday that we are working really hard to make that happen in one service. Our big hang up has been finding a tent to hold 250. It seems like everyone wants a tent this Fall!!  There is no way we can expect our building to hold that many, especially in these times when people need to feel safer health-wise. Plus, we would not want to be rebranded as Sardines. The Church of the Sardines just does not have the same ring as Owen Valley Christian Fellowship. 🙂  (As an aside: did you know there was a church named “Outbreak Church”?  They changed their name when they reopened after COVID restrictions were lifted. I chuckled about that name. But you have probably already figured out I have a weird sense of humor.) Anyway, we are looking all over for a tent to use that will allow us to meet together.  Would you mind praying about that please?

 

Some more information about that day. The nursery and children’s programs will meet that day. The elders made the decision to split the offering that morning between the Building Fund and Missions, unless designated.  I like the idea. They sense an urgency in making more room so we can worship together as one body, but also the urgency in helping others take the Gospel to those who need Jesus. As of this writing we have $151K+ in the Building Fund! The Building Team is hoping to be able to make some type of presentation that morning so you can see what we are working on. So pray and plan for that day.

 

Monday night I finished reading a book by Joe Dallas called Christians in a Cancel Culture. It was very eye-opening and informative. It really got me thinking.

 

  • First, a definition. The Cambridge Dictionary defines Cancel Culture as “A way of behaving in a society or group, especially on social media, in which it is common to completely reject and stop supporting someone because they have said or done something that offends you.” To take it further, to be cancelled really means to be silenced, forcibly shut down, or completely cut off by a friend or loved one. (p.26)

 

Sadly, this not only happens in culture (need I say more?), it also happens in the church. Those who teach an orthodox view of Christianity are often cancelled by those who want to be more progressive. We are cancelled by the culture because we are “out of step” with what is right and wrong (according to them). Many churches or pastors don’t speak up because they are afraid of offending someone. But Elie Wiesel, former Nazi concentration camp survivor once said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” I am convinced that we are being “cancelled into silence” for fear of being written off as radicals. To speak up about and against certain sins is a sure way to be cancelled in our culture. But as Mr. Wiesel hints at, “Neutrality is not an option.”  You have probably heard the saying attributed to Edmund Burke: “The only way for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”  IMHO, the church has three options: 1) Join in. 2) Say nothing. Or 3) Stand up and speak the truth. To me, the first two are not options. Too much is at stake these days (as it has always been). To not tell the truth puts us in the category of someone wanting to pander to culture and be “liked.” It makes us dishonest if we withhold the truth, or are evasive to avoid conflict. Not knowing how much time I have left on this earth, nor how much longer God will wait until He sends Jesus to call His followers home and separate the sheep from the goats, I have really been convicted of my need to speak up for The Truth of God’s Word more boldly when given the opportunity. Now and in the future.

 

What I just wrote will also serve as a preview of my 2022 theme: “For Such a Time…” At this point the first two series will be one called Brave from the book of Daniel and the second one called Truth Decay (Uncompromising truth of God’s Word).  More on that later.

 

Thanks again for allowing me to invade your inbox.  Until the next time, I covet your prayers for my days and ask you to pray for boldness for me. I look forward to seeing you Sunday. You are loved.

 

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 09/15/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #75

 

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #75!  It’s always good to meet with you on a weekly basis. I hope your week is going well. We sure have had some beautiful September weather haven’t we?  Sort of makes me sad though. That means Fall is almost here and winter is around the corner.  I know. What a downer. So let’s move on to some good stuff!! 🙂 

 

First, I want to thank all of you who were able to come to the 9/11 memorial for Brett Wood and to honor the men and women who lost their lives on that fateful day. I have not heard an official count (probably never will) but I was so thrilled to look out and see so many people. In spite of the current political climate, that all seemed to be forgotten for at least one hour as we paid tribute to heroes and to one of our own.  The high school choir did an absolutely fantastic job with their song (Mr. Latta does a great job with them doesn’t he?). Perhaps it was “required” for them to be there, but it was so good to see their response to an act of terrorism and heroism which took place before they were even born. The two soloists did a wonderful job. The buglers did a moving Taps rendition. The speakers did a great job, especially Colonel Allen. The display of close to 3000 flags was just mind-boggling. (Did you hear Sharon Barger’s grandson, Nolan, who is attending American University in D.C, texted her to tell her that his university was inspired by Spencer’s display and were going to do the same?)  I had the honor of sitting next to Brett’s brother, Nikk, and when he put the yellow ribbon around the tree was asked to hold the flag which had been presented to him. I was most definitely humbled with that task. About the only thing I can’t comment on was the food provided by the Sheriff’s department. A previous commitment took me away too soon to eat. But I’m guessing it was good. 🙂

 

It was an emotional day for me. I wish I could put my finger on it. I got choked up as I tried to say the pledge and as the choir sang “God Bless America.” They asked us to sing along with them and I was unable to.  I think I have possibly figured out why.  I never served in the military. When I was in college and turned 18 the Vietnam War was raging. I was a freshman in Bible college and went to another city in Kentucky to register for the draft. (It was required). Because I was a ministerial student, I didn’t have to go into the military. (My draft number was also high). Every once in a while I wonder where I would be and what I would be like if I had experienced what so many of our vets experienced. Would I have come home scarred? Would I have come home to a “less than stellar welcome as many of them did?” I will never know. Maybe that is why I am so emotional when I have the chance to honor those who served.  Now you know some of my thoughts. Let me finish by saying I am extremely grateful to live in America, the greatest country to live in, even with all its flaws and foibles.  

 

I told you in the last MM that the elders would be meeting Monday, the 13th, and I would share some news concerning OVCF’s upcoming Anniversary. It is being called “17 on the 17th.” There will be more info coming your way but here is some of what we discussed. 

  • First, it will be on October 17th. Genius I know, but I would like to ask you to put that on your calendar right now so you can make every effort to celebrate with us. 
  • We are making every effort to offer one service that morning. Having two services that morning just does not seem right to the staff and listening to some of you, we are not alone. The elders do not like the idea of two services either. So we are investigating several options for that morning. Stay tuned for more info on that. By the way: if we can accomplish it, the one service will be at 10:00 and you will want to get here early
  • We are having a pitch-in following the service. Chicken will be provided by Chambers’ Restaurant. The rest of the feast will depend on you. A sign-up sheet will be provided for Jimmy & Christine to know how much chicken to prepare, but also for you to let us know what you plan to bring.  
  • Every Easter we give our total offering (except what is designated) to Missions. Every celebration in October our total offering (except what is designated) has gone to the Building Fund (BF). Except for the last three occasions when all three special offerings went to Missions. God has blessed OVCF in so many ways and we feel it is our responsibility to be generous and to give away. As of this writing, the elders have decided to transfer a surplus from our accounts to the BF. (Yes, God has blessed us that well!) That will put the BF at $149,546.07 after the transfer is made! The elders have also decided the offering for our celebration will be split in half-50% to Missions and 50% to the BF.  I, personally, like that idea. It gives us the opportunity to get closer to our goal of expanding, while keeping our eyes on our mission: to connect people to Jesus. I keep reminding myself that Jesus was into people, not buildings (when the disciples marveled about the magnificence of the Temple He said there would come a day when not one stone would be left on top of another). That is a very strong motivation for us to not be in debt over a building. Nothing shoots down the ability to help others like a church owing a lot of debt. I praise God for the foresight of the leaders who have not allowed that to happen here. 
  • Diana has been preparing flyers and cards to advertise the anniversary. There will be extra cards for you to share with friends and family if you would like to invite them. 

 

That’s all for now about “17 on the 17th”. More will be coming as it is available. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact the church office and we will try to answer them if we are able to do so. 

 

One more word about the elders: they love you all and continue to pray for you each month. I am honored to work alongside men who truly care about the church they have been called to help lead. 

 

I’m going to call it a wrap for this week’s edition of MM. I feel I have given you a lot of “food” to chew on this week. I love you all and hope you have a great rest of the week. 

 

Pastor Bill 

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Midweek Message 09/08/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #74

Hello and welcome to MM #74.  Thanks for taking the time to read this. With the holiday on Monday, which already gives a shorter week than normal, and my day off on Friday, which makes it even shorter, I had considered not writing a MM this week. In fact, I told Diana this Tuesday morning that I would probably not do one this week. I think she was surprised. Or maybe that was delight in her eyes since she is my editor and corrector of “all things made right” for the MM. 🙂  

But then I sat here in my office and started thinking about it. Since it is late being written and since Wednesday morning will be busy with a staff meeting, and it might not be ready to send until Thursday, maybe I could call it “Late Midweek Message.” But that sounded…well…not too smart so I nixed that. So here I am, late Tuesday afternoon and soon to be heading home for supper. 

Why the change of mind?

Well, you could say it is the way of a somewhat jumbled old man and I might agree with you a bit. At least today. 🙂  You could say I received a sudden burst of inspiration from “on high” but I’m not sure that is exactly correct. 

So…why the change of mind?

I started thinking about what has happened the past couple weeks and what took place Monday, on the lawn of the courthouse here in Spencer. Jo, Tami, and I went to the memorial for the 13 fallen soldiers in Afghanistan where Ryan White led the memorial service. It was moving. I had never been at a roll call before. 

Then, this afternoon, I started thinking about Saturday. The anniversary of 9/11. You know…that incident we said we would “never forget” but so many have? I can tell you exactly what I was doing when it happened. I was living in Sandusky and three of us men were heading to another city a couple hours away for a seminar on church finances. We talked all the way down oblivious to what had happened. Until… Until we arrived for the seminar and they had it on the big screen. They kept it on as the seminar was taught. I have to admit I remember N-O-T-H-I-N-G from the seminar. But I still remember the images of the planes and the buildings. You know what is sad? I had NO clue what the Twin Towers were at the time. I was oblivious to their significance. I learned soon enough. I sat by the TV for hours in the evening the next day or two hoping and praying they would find people alive. I changed my sermon that Sunday morning and spoke from my heart, and then one year later spearheaded a memorial service at one of the local school auditoriums which involved pastors and churches from all over Sandusky. I cried on 9/11. I cried one year later. I still tear up when I see the planes hit the towers and see them crumble. I am not ashamed to admit that. I tried hard not to cry yesterday at the memorial. There are moms and dads, aunts and uncles, sons and daughters, etc. all over our country crying for their loss.  

And here’s the thing: For all its faults and missteps, this is still the greatest country to live in. IMHO if you don’t like it here go elsewhere and see if you can say and do what you are now saying and doing and get away with it. 

  1. MUST. NEVER. FORGET.

We must never forget 9/11 and the ugliness of hate, especially hate in the name of religion. I realize it would be unfair to categorize all Muslims as hate-mongers, just as it is unfair to categorize all Christ-followers as hate-mongers because we oppose false religions or sinful lifestyles. 

To be totally honest, it does bother me that we have tended to forget 9/11. I’m not saying that we mourn and weep and wail, but we should stop and not forget there were nearly 3000 innocent people who died because of hate. I knew none of them. But I also know I will see some of them someday when I get to heaven and they are there. 

This Saturday at the courthouse there is a memorial service to remember 9/11, but to also remember one of our own soldiers who lost his life in Afghanistan.  The 10th anniversary of Brett Wood’s death is Thursday, the 9th, but he will be remembered with a special ceremony on the 11th.  I can remember that Sunday morning when his casket was escorted from Bloomington by police and motorcycle riders. We stood outside of this building on that morning waiting for the motorcade. His brother, Nikk, accompanied him. Nikk will be deployed (again) on Monday for a year. Nikk is one of our own. He attends OVCF with his family. I have been asked to participate in the service on Saturday. But that is not what is important. What IS important is what I am asking you to do: please make every attempt to come to the service. It will be held at the courthouse by the Doughboy statue starting at 11:00. Show your respect for those who lost their lives on 9/11; for Brett; and your support for Nikk and all our service personnel. 

Let’s not be a community or a people who forget.  I look forward to seeing you there. 

I am proud to be part of a community like Spencer that remembers its fallen and a church who wants to be part of that. I love you all.  Thanks for listening this week.

Pastor Bill

P.S. (totally unrelated) We have an elder’s meeting next Monday. My next MM will be giving you some more information about the upcoming OVCF anniversary in October, “17 on the 17th”. Look for it! 

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Midweek Message 09/01/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #73

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #73. Do you realize I have said that same phrase for 73 times? I’m thinking I might have to come up with something new. But until I do, I’ll just say, “Thanks for letting me ‘enter’ your day.”

First, I want to thank all of you for your kindness this weekend. I saw it on several occasions. A little bit later in this MM I want to share with you a conversation I had with an old friend Monday night. But I want to draw the attention away from me at this point and focus directly on you. You deserve it. This past weekend was a whirlwind of activity and emotions.

  1. The loss of Lynn Arnett brought out lots of hugs for Madi and Diana. The number of people who came through the funeral home Thursday night and the amount of folks at the funeral on Friday showed that a lot of people loved Lynn, but it also showed the love you have for Madi and Diana and her family. I always like it when there are so many people who come through to speak to the family that I feel totally free to leave. Believe me, there have been times I have stayed through all of the visitation because very few people came to pay their respects. I didn’t want the folks to feel alone or defeated. But there was certainly no worry about that this time. And the meal the ladies put together was absolutely wonderful. Was the family tired? You bet. But the love and care put in by our people was refreshing. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. (From Diana: Yes! Thank you all sooooo much! We are overwhelmed by your kindness! J)
  2. Pastor Ryan’s father went to be with Jesus Friday evening around 9:36. I saw many of you reach out and hug him when you found out. I’m thinking that is what family does. I’m speaking for myself, but those hugs are worth gold when someone is hurting.
  3. You made Mike, Trisha and Ryan feel welcome. Given the suppressed immune system Mike and Ryan have (especially Ryan), they had to wear masks around folks. His nephrologist highly suggested that Ryan wear a mask anytime he is around a crowd inside. But I saw many of you still talking to them and listening to their story and testimony. I know many of you had other plans for the weekend, so I know you were unable to be here. (That means I might not talk to you the next time I see you). I jest, of course. It was recorded so you could watch the live stream if you care to. The second service was a tad shorter than the first due to their “practice” in the first service. 🙂  Thank you so much for making them feel welcome.

 

As for me, it was good to reconnect with them the past 6 months or so after not seeing them for 17 years.  Mike and Trisha attended the church in Sandusky, Ohio that I pastored for a very short time, then they left in the Fall of 2004. Brooklyn, their daughter, was one when they left. Mike has now served with the Dublin, Ohio police force for 17 years. I introduced them to Janna and they began attending the same church. I left Sandusky to come here in November of ’05 and rapidly got involved with my heart here. It wasn’t until Janna told me about Ryan that I reconnected with them.  Now you know the history, in case you wondered, “How in the world does Bill know them?”  I guess it is true that you never know whom you might influence and connect with.

Here are a couple of items you can put in your memory bank because we will revisit them:

  • Don’t forget “17th on the 17th!” OVCF will celebrate her 17th anniversary on October 17. Please put that on your calendar and plan to come join us. Unfortunately, due to space we will still have to have two services, BUT we do plan for a pitch-in following the second service. We are brainstorming some ideas for that day so more info is to come. I can tell you my sermon for that day is Let Me Remind You from Mark 14. Please plan to celebrate with us that morning.
  • As much as it pains me to say, we are keeping an eye on the whole COVID thing again. The recent uptick in cases has put OC in the orange. At the beginning of last year’s fiasco, we told you that we wanted to be safe. At this point, we are good to go. The elders will be meeting September 13th for our monthly meeting and that will be a point of discussion. Would you please pray for us as we seek God’s plan for us?

 

My last thought to share comes from a conversation I had with an old friend (as in time not age) on Monday night.  I had texted him about a book I thought he had at one time and wondered if he would consider selling it to me. I was speaking with someone who has a “bucket list” desire of hiking the Appalachian Trail.  This book was about a man named Bill Irwin, who hiked the trail. Oh, did I mention he was blind and did it with his guide dog? Anyway, he decided to call since he was driving home from Indy. We talked for 20 minutes. Our conversation ranged from the book, to COVID, to why I got the vaccine, and to a situation and people we are both familiar with. He said something to me in the course of our conversation about the latter subject which stuck with me. He said this: “Bill, I don’t know the church you pastor but I sure hope they are praying for you. It is an ugly world out there (especially morally) and you need all the prayers you can get. Satan wants to destroy the church and you.” That is not verbatim, except for the italicized part.  He is right. I am asking. No, I am begging you to pray for me. Daily. I am asking you to bombard heaven with prayers for me-my marriage, my family, my health, my shepherding, my leadership, but most of all, that my love for Jesus will burn hot. No one knows how much time they have left on the earth, but I do know that whatever time I do have I want my life to be lived for Him.  I want to stand firmly on the truth of God’s Word. I want to be bold in my proclamation of Him, especially from the pulpit. And I want to be an example to others.

Thanks for reading my ramblings this week. I pray you have a good rest of the week. Love you all much.

 

Pastor Bill

 

 

 

 

 

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Midweek Message 08/25/2021

Midweek message #72

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #72.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to let me into your (often) busy and (sometimes) complicated life.

I write with a heavy heart this week. I’m sure many of you know by now that Lynn Arnett went to be with Jesus on Sunday afternoon.  I feel hurt and pain whenever anyone I love passes away.  In spite of the pandemic and my own ordeal with COVID, God has been good. However, I have lost two men in the past 8 months who impacted me in different ways. One was a quiet, unassuming man who constantly encouraged me. Even though he was not crazy about our music (he was more traditional), he once said, “I stay for the sermon.” WOW! He has no clue what that meant to me. The other man was a jokester, an out-going car salesman (“transportation consultant” as he called himself) who made me laugh. They will be missed.

Having an older person pass into eternity is gut-wrenching for those involved. Imagine thinking you were going to lose your formerly healthy, soccer-playing 13 year old son when he is suddenly put on life support in the ICU! That is only part of the story that Mike, Trisha, and Ryan Laws (and Brooklyn, his sister) experienced and will be sharing with us this coming Sunday. Brooklyn has already settled into her freshman year at West Virginia University, so she will be unable to be here. I am simply going to allow them to tell you their story and how God faithfully stayed with them through it all. In this case, He chose to use Mike giving his kidney to Ryan to save his life. Jo and I were captivated by their story when we sat down with them a few weeks ago at their house, and I honestly believe you will be to.  They will be with us at 9 and 10:45 this Sunday. The youth will also be with us since it is the 5th Sunday.

Please keep in mind the Cookout/pitch-in scheduled for Saturday night at 6:00. Jo and I are providing the hamburgers and hot dogs and won’t be buying those till later this week so, if you would like to come, it is not too late to sign up. If you haven’t signed up, come anyway. I’m sure there will be enough food. Someone told me Sunday he would like to come but won’t because he would have to come empty-handed. I told him bring his stomach then and don’t worry about it.  He signed up as bringing an “empty tummy.” I laughed, but am glad he plans to come. You can too! Oh…we will eat inside in the youth addition since it is supposed to be in the mid-90s the whole day. The whole week in fact.

Please don’t forget Backpack Buddies this Sunday for our mission.  They are still in need of individual fruit snacks; small bags of chips, etc.; fruit cups and snack cakes. We will be collecting them this Sunday and in the future.

I told you in last week’s MM to look for a big announcement about October 17th. Well, here is your first peek. There is more to come but hopefully this will serve to whet your whistle. Besides, you can put it on your calendar as a day you don’t want to miss. We are calling it 17 on the 17th.  Many of you know what I am referring to, but for those who don’t: OVCF will celebrate her 17th year on that day.  I’m not going to say much more right now since we have not had a chance to meet about the details. However, I will share more as I know. You can also look in the church bulletin, as well as the FB page for more, and up-to-date info.

I know this will seem like a shameless promotion, but I hope you don’t take it that way. On my “Shadow” blog, I shared the following post this past Monday. I’d invite you to join the conversation there, subscribe and comment, but just in case you don’t want to or have the time, I’d like to share what I wrote:

This past weekend Jo and I made a quick trip to Ohio on Friday to watch our grandson, Braden, play his first game as a freshman in high school. We came back Saturday after the game. Driving 4-4 1/2 hours one way gives one a lot of time to think. Lately, the church family has been hit hard with “stuff.”

  • It started with me getting hit broadside on June 3rd and still working through several ETAs for the necessary part for my car.
  • One of our ladies was heading to Indy for a quilting show and a semi sideswiped her.
  • One of our young men was hit head on. His ankle is broken significantly and may require further surgery.
  • Another had a car pull out in front of him on the way to a wedding. He and his fiancée were shook up, but the car looks toasted.
  • One young lady was rear-ended as she was turning into the church lot this past Saturday. She has a concussion and will be very, very sore.
  • One of the ladies in our church family found out her 90+ y/o grandmother got COVID and they still don’t know how. She is, at least, able to get up and not lay around.
  • Our church secretary, Diana’s father went home to Jesus on Sunday afternoon.
  • A 13 y/o has been placed in a center to get help with his anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.  {Update: he was to come home Monday he is doing so well}
  • Our youth pastor, Ryan, is supporting his father during his illness with cancer.

There are more things I could add-much more-but you get the picture. As I thought about all of the “stuff” hitting us, I refused to have a pity party. I thought of Daniel and I thought of something I read this past week:

God is still God even when we don’t understand His ways.

The nonbeliever cannot sync the idea of trials and suffering with a good God.  But the follower of Jesus can. We must choose to worship God and to trust His goodness, sovereignty, and power. We remind the world around us that we are in the hands of the One who controls it all. God is still God; I am still me; and He is still in charge.

Above all: I hope you know you are loved most by God, and by me.

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 08/18/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #71

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #71. I feel very blessed to be able to spend a little time with you this way. It is totally impossible to reach everyone this message reaches on a weekly basis so I use this as a supplement to that. Thanks for letting me “bend your ear” a bit.

I have some really important ideas to share with you this week…and that is not pure hype trying to “con” you into reading this MM. I really do have important ideas to leave you with.

The first is our August Mission focus of Backpack Buddies. I looked under the table as I stood at the pulpit Sunday and realized how generous many of you have been. Most people have a soft spot for children and I’m so glad you do. Linda St. John asked me to make a special request in the second service and I did. Since many of you were either at the first service or unable to be here, I thought I would share it here. Diana has also updated our FB page to highlight the need. Linda said there is a big, big need for individual items like fruit cups, fruit snacks, individual snack bags (chips, Cheetos, Doritos, pretzels, etc.), Little Debbie snack cakes, and the like. The first weekend distribution showed her a very limited supply of those items. So I’m going to ask that we have a blitz of those items over the next two weeks.

The second item is to remind you (again) of the pitch-in/cookout on Saturday, August 28th at the church shelter house (weather permitting).  Since Jo and I are supplying the hamburgers and hot dogs, we would really like to know how many to prepare for.  If you eat neither and prefer something else, you may bring that with you. But please sign up this week and let us know how many to expect and what you plan to bring. An added bonus is you will get to meet Mike, Trisha and Ryan Laws before they speak on Sunday morning and share their testimony.

The third item is to key you in on my Sunday morning sermon schedule. I will be preaching from Mark 8 this coming Sunday (hopefully you are reading ahead) and since there are 16 chapters in Mark it is easy to see (even for someone who is as mathematically-challenged as I am) that we are ½ way there. My plan is to finish the series on “The Servant King” then move into a series on Thankfulness (“Establish the Attitude”), then move right into one on Christmas (“Expect the Unexpected”).  At this point 2022’s theme is “For Such a Time…” based on Esther 4:14. My first two series will be one from Daniel (“Brave”). It will be followed by one on standing firm (“Combating Truth Decay”), focusing on Apologetics and why we believe what we believe.  I know that is a lot to take in and may seem like overkill, but I wanted you to know what to expect. I say all that with one caveat: Lord willing.  🙂 Who knows what He may have in mind??

My last item may not seem important to some of you, but it is needed, I believe, for others.  Over the past few months we have had an influx of visitors. Some are coming from other churches and some are hearing about us from friends. Because it is hard to reach everyone (even though I am working on setting some appointments), I thought I would share some important “things you should know” about OVCF. There is a lot of information so I will try to be succinct. If you want to know more, please feel free to reach out to me.

So here we go:

  1. OVCF is an independent, non-denominational church. We are not part of any denomination. That leads me to the next one.
  2. OVCF is not part of any conference, assembly, or church hierarchy. We do not answer to anyone “higher up” except Jesus, who is the Head of the church. The church is led by a group of elders (Wayne Akerson, Jeff Carlson, David Robertson) and Pastor Ryan and I are part of that leadership. We are considered equals and have never been made to feel second rate. The elders are shepherds who try to be sensitive to God’s voice in our decisions. We do not “lord it over” others with an iron fist (I Peter 5:2). We pray about decisions and consider what is best for God’s work and OVCF in particular.  A case in point would be our COVID response. We tried to be responsible, sensitive, and aware of what was happening in our community. And to put some of you at ease: I am not the “boss” of the church nor do I make important decisions unilaterally.
  3. This next one was prompted by this past Sunday. After all had left, but a couple who was talking to Jo and me, I noticed the offering basket was still sitting on the table. Our “counters” were coming in Monday morning since they had work responsibilities on Sunday. As we talked I held the basket because I did not want it to sit there after we were done. I immediately took the basket and put it in the appropriate place. I started thinking about what that looked like and want the couple to know, and any visitor who may come, this very important fact: Neither Ryan nor I have any clue what anyone gives. It is not our business to know. We have a designated team of people who count and make the deposits. Diana records the giving for tax purposes. Rest assured we are trying to do everything above board and with integrity!

 

A couple items as an FYI:

  • We have two communion cups that “piggy-back” each other. Remember to take both.
  • We do not pass an offering plate or basket. It is on the back table.

 

As you get this (Wednesday), it will be good to welcome Pastor Ryan back to the office. It has been different with him gone. I bug Diana way too much. It is better when the two of us team up to make her life…shall we say…interesting?  🙂 (She is rolling her eyes & laughing at this!)

Next week! Look for a big announcement about October 17th.

Thanks again for welcoming me into your life. If you ever have any questions about anything I have written or find grammatical mistakes…blame Diana. She proofs it all. No, let me correct that: blame me. 🙂 In all seriousness, if you have any questions about how OVCF operates or anything I have written, please contact me.  I love you all.

 

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 08/11/2021

Midweek message #70

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #70.  I really appreciate you taking the time to let me into your life as you read this.  I hope your week has been a good one so far.

With school back in session, we want to emphasize the importance of prayer for our school/college administrators, teachers, staff & students. This past Sunday I mentioned during the prayer time that we are going to start giving you the name of an educator(s) to pray for during the week.  I sincerely hope you will take the time to remember our school personnel during the week. Look for the first name this week.  This is such a crazy time and for many, a trying time.  Patience, understanding, and a spirit of cooperation is so necessary. Agree or disagree with some of the policies still does not justify a rebellious and spiteful attitude. As followers of Jesus, let’s set the example of being servants and being Christ-like in all things.

What I am about to share with you is really, really important…especially for those of you who watch the service live stream. Due to some scheduling conflicts, we will only be streaming the first service this coming Sunday. The two who normally do the live stream for second service have conflicts which could not be avoided.  So the first service only will be live streamed.  It will be posted to the FB page and YouTube as always. If you happen to miss the live stream as it happens, you can watch it either at 10:45, or you can watch it sometime later. Or you can come see it live!  🙂 Just kidding. I do appreciate that it is live streamed. We normally average around 35-40 folks per week who watch from home.  Karen Turner has done a fantastic job of being really committed to doing the first service and Joe Pavich has been crucial to the success of the second service.  Thanks Karen and Joe!

That brings me to something which I need to share. This shows how much we need some others to step up to help.  For example, when Karen is unable to be here for some reason, Ryan not only does the live stream, he plays the drums!  No, he doesn’t have the iPad in one hand and the drum sticks in the other.  He’s talented, but I’m not sure he is that talented! 🙂 But the scheduling conflict shows our need for more folks to help.  If you are willing to learn, you can be taught. And honestly, we need you! If you are interested, please see Ryan or Joe Pavich (contact the church office for his number) to express your desire to help. Joe will be glad to teach you and walk you through it. You will not be handed an iPad and then told, “Here you go!” then be left on your own.  Do I have any “takers” out there?

I’d also like to remind you again about the upcoming visit from Mike, Trisha, and Ryan Laws.  We have a picnic/pitch-in scheduled for the 28th at 6:00 at the church shelter. If the weather doesn’t permit that (too hot or raining) we will have it indoors.  This will be a fantastic way to meet this wonderful family so you can ask questions and then enjoy Sunday without saying to yourself, “I would really like to talk to them.” They have a tremendous testimony to share about God’s faithfulness through their whole ordeal of the kidney donation and transplant. There is so much more to the story! Jo and I were able to visit them last Thursday evening at their home and we had a fantastic couple of hours talking. (The burgers and mac & cheese weren’t bad either!)  It was hard for me to believe it was time to go…close to 3 hours later. We have decided to change our approach that morning and I believe it will much more beneficial. You won’t have a chance to meet their daughter, Brooklyn. She will be starting at West Virginia University this weekend. We are hoping to somehow make a video or find a way she can share her thoughts.

One thing I ask: please sign up for the pitch-in the next two Sundays. Jo and I will be providing the burgers and hot dogs and would like to have an idea of how many to plan for.

Don’t forget our mission focus for this month is Backpack Buddies. This is a food program begun a few years ago and this past year it served over 200 students from pre-k through high school with food to take home over the weekend and during breaks. This particular program is close to Linda St. John’s heart and she has made a display showing options of what is needed on the back table. Diana has also printed out a list of items that you can refer to when shopping. This will go through the end of the month so please consider helping in any way you can.

Have you ever noticed how close and attached you get to people? Pastor Ryan’s schedule this summer has been all upside-down with camp and his visits with his dad and now his time away from the office with his family. I think I speak for Diana and myself when I say we miss him around the office!

I hope you are continuing to read the gospel of Mark each day to prepare yourself for Sunday’s sermon. We will be in chapter 7 this week.

Please be in prayer for the Brandon Staley family. He was an EMT who suffered a heart attack and passed away on the way to the hospital, while administering aid to some young people in the ambulance. He was 46 and leaves behind a wife (LaVonne) and a son (Logan) and two grandchildren.  His last words were, “Take care of these kids (those in the ambulance).” He is a hero in my book.

I could fill up the rest of the MM with mindless chatter, but you would notice it is just that. You might even say, “WOW! Miracles still happen. Pastor Bill ran out of (meaningful) words to say.”  So rather than give you an opportunity to say that, I’ll just close.  I do hope you have a terrific rest of the week.  Remember I love you but Jesus loves you even more.

 

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 08/04/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #69

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #69.  If this is your first time receiving the MM…Welcome!  Diana works hard trying to keep the files updated and we spent some time Monday morning doing just that. So you may be receiving this for the first time and in case you wonder why…now you know. J  If you are a “veteran” then thanks for hanging in there with me.

The past few days have sure been very “non-August” in the weather department.  It has been a nice reprieve but did you ever get the feeling that summer isn’t over yet?  I’m sorry to say, though, for all school personnel (teachers, students, aides, administrators, etc.) summer is over. Officially. School starts here in Owen County on Thursday. I am pretty sure it starts all over our area this week as well. Here are some thoughts for you to consider:

  1. Pray each day for all school personnel. Perhaps you might like to split them up into different days. For example, Monday=teachers. Tuesday=students. And so on.
  2. Pray for their safety to and from school. Pray for their safety while in school. Pray for a good environment. Pray for wisdom for the teachers (they already have the knowledge). Pray for a spirit of cooperation among students with other students and students with teachers. Pray for our school corporation and the leaders to make wise choices. Going along with the status quo, and doing what other districts are doing, may not be the best for our students.
  3. One big suggestion: be careful while driving. I have to admit one of my worst fears is early in the morning or right after school hearing a siren from a police car or the ambulance. Don’t be in such a hurry if you are driving during “go or leave school time.”

 

If you are the parent of a student, you have my congratulations. J If you are a student, thank a teacher that you can read this.  Just kidding. I pray for you to have a great school year.

It was great having the 3 couples and their families from Chi Alpha this past Sunday. The video was top-notch and their short, precise presentation was spot on. I told the leaders at the elder’s meeting Monday night that I appreciated the video because it focused on the students at IU. It focused on the life change Christ is bringing to lives through Chi Alpha. I want to thank you for making them feel so welcome. I love what Derek said. “It is very rare when we are invited into a church. Usually it is us contacting a church to see if we can come.” I love that OVCF’s leaders are so open to something different. Just to let you know: we are taking on a challenge we decided we wanted to do. Instead of just sending $50/month for one couple or for them to split it, we have taken on the challenge of sending each couple $50/month until at least the end of the year when we will reevaluate as the 2022 budget is worked on.

Another challenge we accepted Monday night: we support the Old Folks Home in Liberia. These folks have nothing. Until Revive Liberia stepped in these poor old folks slept on dirt floors with no amenities. The young people on Sunday morning take up an offering and each month it goes to the Old Folks Home. We supplement what is collected so it reaches $50.  Jeff shared that the need is really great since the price of rice alone has skyrocketed.  We decided to bump our giving to $100/month, at least until the end of the year when it too will be reevaluated.

Both of those are possible because of your generosity. Thank you so much for helping us meet the Biblical mandate Jesus laid down: “When I was hungry, you fed me; when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink; when I was naked, you clothed me; when I was in prison, you visited me.” “When did we do that?” they asked. “When you have done it to least of these you have done it to me.”

Sunday morning I saw a phenomenal display of service. The Chi Alpha families all had children. They were “consigned” to sit and listen in the adult worship during first service (they would have had a chance to sleep during the sermon) until someone stepped up and volunteered to take the kids to the youth addition and allow them to be creative. I won’t mention the person’s name because she would be mad at me (and she wields a mean stick). Seriously though, she has no idea how much that meant to me, the parents of the children, and the kids. But that is what the church needs! People who will step up and say, “I will do this.”  You might be saying right now, “No way would I do that with kids. They scare me!” That might be true, but we have other areas where you could serve. Greeters on Sunday morning to simply say, “Hi! It is nice to have you.” People who will mow the church lawn. People who will learn how to do the live stream. People who will spell Jo doing Power Point, especially for the second service. (She says she is getting old and having trouble staying awake during the sermon. It isn’t the sermon. Right? RIGHT???) People with a knack for small children who will take a turn in the nursery (See Pastor Ryan about that). There are so many places help is needed. Being a servant is being like Jesus.

Pastor Ryan will be out of the office from Saturday, the 7th to Tuesday, the 17th. He will be back in the office on Wednesday, the 18th. If you have any needs please contact me or Diana. He and his family are enjoying much-needed and much-deserved time away from the office.

Please don’t forget the Laws family will be with us Saturday, the 28th for a pitch-in cookout, and then will be sharing their testimony of God’s faithfulness through Ryan’s transplant on Sunday morning. I’ll put more information in subsequent MM’s. I’d just like to ask you to set that weekend aside for a great opportunity to hear of our great God and to meet Mike, Trisha, and Ryan.

Gotta go. Hope you have a great rest of the week. I love you all.

 

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 07/28/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #68

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #68!  I’m so glad you have allowed me into your inbox (and therefore, your life) for just these few short moments. You have no clue how much I appreciate it. Some people tell me I can be annoying at times (but I won’t mention Jo and Tami’s names), so I sure hope you don’t feel that way about the MM. I guess you have the best of both worlds: the MM without me! 🙂

First, I want to let you know how Saturday’s Back to School Expo went. A little history for the unfamiliar. The Expo started a few years ago and found a home-originally- at OV Middle School. Folks would come to the school and pick up their backpacks. But, like many other things in 2020, the pandemic changed the way it was done. Aaron LaGrange (the Middle School principal at the time) and Marce King, the director of the Owen County Chamber of Commerce (OCCC) got their heads together and came up with something new. Why not have a sort of parade where the students (actually their parents) drove them through different stations at the fairgrounds. These stations were teachers with signs, the high school band playing, cheerleaders with enthusiasm, a real life alpaca, and others. It all culminated with each student present in a vehicle receiving an age-appropriate backpack. This was where I worked the past two years and it is so much fun! The joy of the kids is priceless! In 2020 we gave away around 500 backpacks with the rest going to the schools. This year we gave away 600+ backpacks with the rest of the supplies going to the various schools.  I was speaking Monday with someone who works in Monroe County about the Expo and they marveled at what we did, then she asked me if there was an income limit or any stipulations. I said it was for all students and the only stipulation was they had to be in the vehicle to receive a backpack. Please understand these are new supplies, including the backpacks. Spencer Walmart (Zach Redman is the District Mgr.) played a huge part, Owen Co. Community Foundation, Boston Scientific, Youth Services of Monroe Co., Title 4D, and Valley Optical also donated funds. OVCF gave $500 for the supplies. We honestly do care about our schools and our students and want to do what we can to help out. In a very real way, your giving helps us do things like this.  So…thank you for your generosity!

It is hard to believe school starts in a week. UGH! I can hear it from many. I’m telling my age here, but I can remember when school was out the Friday before Memorial Day and didn’t start until the Tuesday after Labor Day (September). Three whole months of summer bliss. Well, no longer and I am predicting never again!  (What powers of deduction I know). Anyway, with the onset of school comes a need many students have: food on the weekends. During the summer, the Lions Club makes meals available every day free of charge. They do a wonderful job with that!  During the school year, another approach is taken. Every weekend and over breaks students in need are given food to take home. The program is called BACKPACK BUDDIES (BB) and OVCF has been involved since its inception.  Pastor Ryan and I were called in on the initial plans for it with Mr. LaGrange and Mrs. Allen. Some of our folks helped pack the bags each week that first year or two. Now, thanks to the many groups in the school who have gotten involved, we have taken a step back (except for Linda St. John who is still directly involved) and help supply the food for distribution. During the month of August, BB will be our mission focus. Diana has made up some lists of supplies needed. I’d like to ask you to pick one of them up and do what you are able to do in helping supply needed food. Just to help you put it in perspective, 200+ students took home food each weekend and during breaks last school year.  If you are reading this, and can’t physically be here but would like to help, you may write a check to the church and we will give the money to BB for them to use.  Thanks for helping us make a difference in our community, and specifically, for the students in need of food in our school system.

Speaking of school, don’t forget to pray for all our administrators and teachers. We have a new Superintendent (Mr. Cline) and a ton of new teachers. Pray for all the students this year as well. Even though things are more “normal” this year than last, adjustments will still need to be made by all.

I’d like to remind you about Mike, Trisha and Ryan Laws being with us Sunday, August 29th. To give you a chance to meet them outside of Sunday morning and to give us a chance to get together for a meal for the first time in almost two years, we are planning on having a cookout/pitch-in on Saturday, the 28th, starting at 6:00 PM. Our plan is to have it at the shelter house unless the weather dictates we come inside. We will cordon off part of the parking lot for the kids to play safely. Hamburgers and hotdogs will be provided, but please feel free to bring what you are able to eat grilled and/or a side dish. Come and go as you please, but do take a few moments to join us and celebrate with us.

I just finished a book last week called Hope Always by Dr. Matthew Sleeth. It is subtitled How to be a Force for Life in a Culture of Suicide. Every single day, someone you or I know is thinking about taking their own life. I hate to be glib but it has become a pandemic. COVID has magnified it, especially among our young people. Dr. Sleeth was an ER physician and chief of hospital medical staff who at the outset of his medical career was an atheist. He has since resigned to teach, preach and write about faith and health. He was in his 40s when he (and later his Jewish wife) came to faith in Christ. One characteristic he mentions is the loss of hope so many have. And when you listen to “experts” talk about the pandemic that is the one thing they always seem to mention: the loss of hope so many felt/feel. Of course, it is more than just the pandemic that has brought about the hopelessness of so many. I don’t have the space to go into more detail but let me just say that while followers of Christ are not immune to suicide, we do have an anchor that so many do not have. Hope you are clinging to that anchor.

The “dog days” of August have already hit us (and it’s only July). Let’s bring in August with a great month of optimism and celebration. I look forward to seeing you Sunday, Lord willing!!

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 07/21/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #67

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #67. What a wonderful break in the weather we had this weekend and so far this week! We also have two young ladies at Hilltop this week-Charli Wood and Bella Madorin. I’m sure they are glad for the nice weather.

Speaking of camp, Hilltop is doing some wonderful things this year. After last year’s COVID-related shut down, it is so cool to see camp in full swing. Ryan and Mala Croft are the directors and they have done a marvelous job maneuvering through last year and seeing that this year goes well. Lots of good things are happening and many victories are being won. I’m not sure how many total campers OVCF has sent but I can guarantee it is better than last year!  🙂

Just wanted to let you know of a couple important upcoming events for Sunday morning. On August 1st, we will be hosting a group from Chi Alpha (CA). For the past two years we have supported Steve & Katie Averitt in their work with CA. Katie was an OV girl so we had a connection with her. However, they have decided to leave CA and put their influence for Jesus at work in the marketplace. They recommended someone to us who has been with CA and at IU for a while. Pastor Ryan, Diana and I met with Derek Britt for lunch on Monday, the 12th, and were impressed with him, his family’s commitment to Christ, and the ongoing work of CA at IU. Along with Derek and his family, there are two other families heavily involved with the ministry at IU. So we invited them to come and meet you (and you them) and to hear of their outreach at IU. I don’t work outside the church setting, and I don’t attend college, especially one as challenging as IU, so I am admire anyone who wants to share Jesus on a college campus.  I sincerely hope you will desire to hear more and will come and support these three couples who are committed long-term to CA at IU.

If that isn’t enough, I have been telling you for over a month about Mike, Trisha and Ryan Laws coming on August 29th. Mike donated his kidney to Ryan just over 2 months ago and they allowed me to enter into their journey with them. They were part of the church in Sandusky, OH (where I pastored before moving here in 11/05) before they moved to Dublin, OH (not Ireland) where Mike joined the police force. He has been there 17 years. When they moved from Sandusky, Brooklyn, their daughter, was about a year old. So it was cool being able to renew a relationship which had not been active for 17 years. Brooklyn is heading off to West Virginia University as a freshman and Ryan is starting high school. That almost never happened when a mysterious kidney disease sabotaged his, and their life. 18 months later Mike gave his kidney to his son. They have a tremendous testimony to share of God’s faithfulness and goodness and we have an opportunity to hear it firsthand.  That is also a 5th Sunday so the children will be with us that morning. What a fantastic opportunity for them to hear about God’s work in a teenager’s life!!  I’m planning on going over there next week to be with them and to work on the plan for that morning (and yes, we might get to see our grandson while there), but I am already stoked about that morning.

Update for you: Monday the Building Team met with Josh Smith to further pursue what a new building will look like for us. He came with a 2-D computer drawing of what an addition could look like. After an hour and half, we dismissed but not before there was a palpable excitement growing with the team. We will continue tweaking the design and customize it for us and then we will fill you in on it. Josh will present a 3-D animated walk-through for us all to see.  But please understand this is not going to be an overnight process. We will need to consult an architect, plans will have to be submitted to him and then the state, approval will have to be given, and then we can proceed with any physical work. As of this past Sunday, our Building Fund is just shy of $130k. That is good seed money! With the preliminary work which needs to be done, we will need to continue to raise funds. 🙂 We will go slowly, pray to make wise decisions, and follow God’s leading and plan for our future. At this point, we see us doing the addition in stages. I just wanted to keep you informed as to where we are in the dream.

One last thing related to that: it is easy to say, “Who am I? What can I do? What can I give? I hardly have enough to make ends meet let alone help financially.” While financial help is crucial (obviously) there is one thing you can do: PRAY. You will never hear me begging for money from the pulpit. I am not going to visit someone and shake their hand while the other is fishing for their wallet. That is not me at all! But I will beg you to pray for me. I will beg you to pray for the church leaders. I will beg you to pray for the youth program. I will beg you to pray for our outreach. I will beg you to pray for wisdom about our future. I will beg you to pray for the church’s commitment to the Gospel. And I will beg you to pray for our stand for the truth. Jesus used the gift of a widow (a widow’s mite) and compared it to the oversized and ostentatious gifts of the religious leaders to make a point: it is not how much a person gives but the size and focus of his/her heart which really matters. To use Jesus’ words: “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43-44 NASB 2020).  To quote Bob Goff: “Every unselfish act of love whispers God’s name.” (Quoted in Live in Grace-Walk in Love– p. 108).  From the smallest to the biggest, if God is in it, there is no telling what He can do.  I believe that with all my heart.

I have one last thing: among all the prayer requests we make weekly, I have two I‘d like to make. Many of you know I was struck by a hit-and-run driver in November of 2016 while riding my bike. I recovered fairly well, but the past two months have revealed there is a long-term residual issue from it. I see a doctor today for my hip and hopefully will receive a solution.  The other: on June 3rd I was broadsided at the Junction intersection (hence the odd car with the Florida plates). I have an MRI on my surgically-repaired neck next Monday. Your prayers would be appreciated. Thanks.

Also, please keep praying for Pastor Ryan as he helps with his father during his illness.

I hope you are continuing to read the chapter in Mark ahead of time. This week please read Mark 4 in preparation for the sermon. See you then!

Have a great rest of the week. Remember you are loved.

 

Pastor Bill

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