Category: MidweekMessage

Midweek Message 7/1/2020

MIDWEEK MESSAGE 15

Well, I sure hope this finds you doing well and staying safe and healthy. If there was any doubt summer in Indiana is here (maybe a tad early) all you have had to do is stick your head out the door. Hot, muggy, sunny, with a dash of pop up storms and you have your proof!  Personally, I like it hot. I like not having to put on layers of clothes to get warm. And the heat is much easier on my joints. And before you say it…I know I’m older. Just remember I said that about the joints when you get to be my age. 🙂

As I write this section of the MM it is Tuesday. Saturday, July 4, is the day Governor Holcomb is planning on moving Indiana to the next stage. In theory it would say we could go full bore. And we would be right to do that…if it was right for us. In some ways, honestly, I want to do just that. But I also know that we need to be wise about things. The leadership is united in this. We may add more chairs but will do our best to make people feel as safe as possible. We will still not have children’s programs but will be able to use the youth area for overflow. Also, some parents have used that area to watch the live stream and give their children some “free space” to roam. The doors to the classrooms are closed so they are confined to the common area. All we ask is you help us by cleaning the chairs and surfaces you touched. So if bringing your kids is a concern, there is an option for you.

That safety factor is what also prompted us to cancel our one service worship at Abram Farm. There were still many who felt unsafe being in that space and especially with having a pitch-in following. So on July 19th we will be having two worship services in our building as we always do. If things continue to progress we will work on another time to have worship together. It may be Christmas but it will happen! Do you realize Christmas is only 6 months away?? I thought I’d throw you a little curve with that one. 🙂 In all seriousness, I have heard from many of you who agree about our decision to not use Abram Farm for the one service. Thank you for understanding and also your words of support. I’m convinced we are doing the right thing for all of you.

I thought I’d let you know of something I started doing late last week. I know there are many who would love to come to the church building on any given Sunday but have chosen to stay home. I’m just making the rounds to say hi to folks. I’m staying outside and keeping my distance. Maybe I’ll come your way soon.  I do hope if you are one of those who are not coming yet that you are taking advantage of our live streaming of the services. I really feel it is the “wave” of the “future now.”  We were not ready for live streaming by any stretch of the imagination. But I am so proud of the people who adjusted and made it happen. We are also in the process of getting a new desktop which will make the experience even better. Right now, we have had to compromise using the two front TVs during our worship time. That will change once we get the new computer. There is no question that live streaming is here to stay. I know many travel during the summer for various reasons-vacations, sports, camping, etc. I’m hoping if you are one of them you will take the time to watch the live stream sometime during the day or week. That will help you stay in touch but also help keep your faith growing.  The mission of OVCF is “To Connect People to Jesus.” Our first vision statement for helping to make that a reality is To Be Passionate Pursuers of Christ. I am firmly convinced that we cannot take people where we ourselves have not gone or are not attempting to go. If you go on an excursion-climb Mount Everest or backpack trails or whitewater raft the Colorado River-you want someone who has been there before. If not it spells disaster. I used to lead bicycling tours. Before every tour I would map out and mark the route, print maps, and familiarize myself with the route. I didn’t want to appear inept or ill-prepared and certainly didn’t want to get lost!  So let me challenge you: please take the time to bolster your faith by watching the live stream or listen to the podcast. It isn’t the same as being there, but it is a fair substitute. And let add this: if you ever have any questions on something I said or need further information, please feel free to contact me. I do whatever I can to accommodate your questions.

I’m going to be gone July 12th. Ryan is preaching for me. I was somewhat shocked when I looked at the preaching schedule and realized I had not missed a Sunday since September-one for our trip to Alaska and one for a wedding in Missouri. Yeah…it is time for me to take a back seat for a week and just listen.

It is good to have Ryan back in the office this week after being gone on a family vacation and a 15th anniversary backpack excursion he and Hope enjoyed. The three of us function well together. Besides, I think Diana tires of hearing me all the time and needs the diversion for her sanity. 🙂 Welcome back Ryan!

I’m going to close this missive now. Don’t stand and cheer. If you do, please don’t tell me. I love you all and look forward to seeing you.

Pastor Bill

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ovcf.org/ovcf_wp/2020/07/midweek-message-7-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2/

Midweek Message 6/24/2020

MIDWEEK MESSAGE 14

Seriously? 14 weeks of my rambling? ‘Fraid so. But here I am again. Bothering your inbox with more of my midweek ramblings message.  I hope this finds you and your family doing well.

I’m going to start right out with a matter of great extreme importance. When I strike through great and put extreme then you have to know it is of the utmost importance. I’m not sure how long it will take to express this so please hang in there through it all with me. Here we go:

Our greatest desire has been to make sure you are safe. We have talked about that in our COVID plans from beginning to end. As we began reopening, we emphasized our desire to keep you safe. All the measures we have taken during our in person worship has been for that reason. We leave the doors open. We have you get your own bulletin and communion cup. We have a basket for you to leave your offering. We have asked you to stay away if you don’t feel safe or you are feeling sick. We have tried to put all the right protocols in place. We hope you have seen that.

It is with that safety in mind that we have come to a somewhat tough decision. We have decided to CANCEL the planned one service meeting at Abram Farm for July 19th. There were some people who not only expressed some concern about the one service, they especially were concerned about the pitch-in following. So to alleviate any concerns, we think it is best to cancel the whole day. Well…not the whole day. We will still have Sunday. And we will still have two services at the church building. 🙂 But I would rather err on the side of wisdom and being cautious than have a bunch of people possibly get sick as a result of our good intentions.  There will be another day somewhere down the line when we can meet together. Until then, we will continue doing the two services on Sunday as well as live-streaming on the church’s FB page, group and YouTube.

Speaking of the live-stream: it seems to be working out very well.  At this writing I do not know how many YouTube views there were since Ryan is the one who does that, but Diana said that two Sundays ago we had over 200 views.  Sure, there is a give or take in that since it doesn’t tell us how long they stayed but still! That means we are reaching people outside the church walls. And I am excited about that! If you are one who checks in at one of the live-streams, thanks.  I hope it is helping you stay somewhat connected to the church and also growing your faith.

One of the things I have heard is how some people in other churches have gone weeks, even months, and not heard any word from their church or staff. We have tried to communicate on a fairly regular basis with you by several different means. If there has been any one particular method that was meaningful to you, would you mind hitting Reply or Reply All and let us know? Diana is going to keep a record of your answers so the staff and leadership can evaluate how we are doing, what we may need to do better, and what we can do in the future. I know you are busy and/or may think we don’t really want to know, but we do. So please take a moment now (people tend to forget if they say, “I’ll take care of that later.”) to let us know your thoughts. If we can improve and you feel squeamish about sharing it with the whole group, then feel free to privately email me (pastor@ovcf.org) or Diana at (secretary@ovcf.org).  We value your opinion and appreciate any of your feedback.

I wrote in my Living in the Shadow blog that the big C church (the church as a whole) was under attack. I included a quote by G.K Chesterton: “Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.” The attacks on the big C church are hot and heavy right now. Speak up and we are accused of being homophobic, bigoted, opinionated, etc.  Stay silent are we are accused of prejudice, pride and lack of compassion. The small c (local church) is also under siege. The enemy would like nothing better than for us to implode. Jesus said Satan can’t destroy the church, but I’m convinced if he can get God’s people to focus on problems and minutia and gossip then he can win. Do your best to focus on the good and what God is doing. We are not perfect but we are trying to be like Jesus. It takes each one of us enduring and focusing on Jesus to further the cause of Christ. As has been said by many others: “You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution.”

Have a great rest of the week. I love you and look forward to connecting with you again in a more personal way. Who knows? Maybe I’ll see you Sunday.

 

Pastor Bill

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ovcf.org/ovcf_wp/2020/06/midweek-message-7-2-2-2-2-2-2-2/

Midweek Message 6/17/2020

MIDWEEK MESSAGE 13

Welcome to the middle of the week and, of course, that means you are the recipient of the highly anticipated, Spencer-renowned, Midweek Message.  I know you woke up on Wednesday with the most exciting thought ever: today is the day I received Pastor Bill’s Midweek Message. Then you went directly to your computer or phone to see if it has arrived yet. No? Well…you should. 🙂 Seriously, I do hope you and those you love are doing well and staying safe and healthy.

I must confess that I am writing this in spurts over several days. We found out midweek last week that Braden (our 13 y/o grandson) plays his first baseball game Tuesday, the 16th. When you get this it will already be over.  The 16th also happens to be mine and Jo’s 47th anniversary so I am going to take her to the game and plan to spend the night in Columbus, OH.  We will probably take him to IHOP for French toast (his favorite there) and then head home.  It’ll be a whirlwind trip but you make great “sacrifices” for your grandchildren. I’m suspecting every grandparent knows what I am talking about.  Some friends of ours were planning on taking me to a belated Christmas gift to Indy to see Jeff Allen, a Christian comedian. I asked if Jo could come along. 🙂  That was supposed to happen in April but “rona” happened. They rescheduled it for June 15th and well…”rona” is still around. So Texas Roadhouse it is instead. I can taste that salmon already and, as I write this part, it is Thursday. Man, I’ll have to deal with a lot of drool if I keep this up.

There is one factor which everyone has had to deal with during this “rona” thing. Churches. Businesses. Schools. Organizations. Families. Individuals. It is called Change. We try to avoid talk about change a lot in the church. You know the arguments raised: “We never did it that way before” (called the 7 last words of the church). “Why do we have to change? Why can’t we go back to what it was before ‘rona’?” Everyone is faced with change. Real change takes place slowly. It is like a car or truck in first gear. On trucks it is called “the creeper gear.” For obvious reasons. So many get discouraged and give up. Breaking habits or years of tradition is harder for some than others. Some people go kicking and screaming into a new year or decade on the calendar, let alone being asked to change their whole method of doing things.  For some reason, churches seem to have more difficulty changing than other entities. Being asked to change the way we do things is as painful for some as it was to get away from using the King James Version of the Bible. You’d a thought someone had asked them to chop off their head and commit high treason.

Truthfully, we have no option but to change.  A failure to change is a sure recipe for death. Church will no longer be “church as we knew it.” Just the fact we are doing online church, and will continue doing so, is a perfect example. Jo once asked me if I thought people would come back after the whole virus thing is passed. My honest answer was “I hope so but the reality is some will; some won’t. I have to accept that and move on. I will continue doing what I need to do-preaching, teaching, ministering the best I know how-no matter if they come in person or watch from home. It is a good option; I don’t think it is an adequate substitute for in-person church, but people watch online for various reasons. I will continue being their pastor and let them know I love them.” So if you are an online watcher, thanks for tuning in.  Since I don’t know who tunes in, if I can be a pastor to you, then please feel free to contact me.

I want to remind you again that we will continue slowly moving into full in-person services. We will continue using safety measures to help you feel comfortable when coming to the church building. Our first full expression will be July 19th at Abram Farm (unless Governor Holcomb directs otherwise). We will be starting at 10:00 and follow with a pitch in. Abram Farm is a beautiful facility and Bill & Suzie are most generous to us. You can sit outside to eat if you prefer. We will also have tables set up inside. We just look forward to seeing everyone in one place (if you feel comfortable joining us there).

I’d like to ask you to stop reading this for a moment and remember to pray for our law enforcement folks. A glance at the news (only a glance is worth it) shows they are under siege. I read recently that two bicycle companies have stopped selling bikes to cops. I want to scream out, “Get a life!” One is a French company and one has a factory in Wisconsin. I wonder…no better not go there. We have several in our church fellowship who are involved in law enforcement. Last week the church donated a bunch of cleaning and sanitizing supplies to the Sheriff’s department as our way of showing support. They put their life on the line every day for us. The least we can do is show them respect for doing their job.

As always, I have gone on long enough. Have a great week. See you this weekend!

Pastor Bill

 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ovcf.org/ovcf_wp/2020/06/midweek-message-7-2-2-2-2-2-2/

Midweek Message 6/10/2020

MIDWEEK MESSAGE 12

 

Good midweek to all of you! I hope this finds you doing well and coming out from under the cloud you may have found yourself under the past few months. It is good to see things finally opening up and life returning to a (somewhat) normal state. I think it is a sure thing that life will never return to the way it once was pre-Covid. They are calling it a new normal. I know some don’t like that term but it is fact. The important thing is how we will adjust to that new normal-as individuals, as a community, as a country, and as a church. I am an interested onlooker for all of those, but particularly the latter. I believe it is a foregone conclusion that church will never be the same. And I’m okay with that since it means change and innovation.

 

Speaking of change! It has been great seeing people here. When we decided to slowly open up I had no clue what to expect. Would we have a lot of folks here? Would we have very few here? Would we stay with two services or be able to consolidate into one? Would people feel comfortable coming? Would they wear masks or want to hug and dive right in. 🙂 How would people adjust to the change in seating and the way we do the bulletins and communion? How would parents handle not having the youth area open? Lots of questions that led to some introspection. I mentioned in a past Midweek Message that I was cautiously optimistic. That appears to have been the right approach. You guys have been super! Those who have come have, for the most part, observed our plan. Many of you are still watching online and you have no clue how grateful I am for that.

 

So…there is something you can plan for. According to Governor Holcomb’s suggestions, and providing things don’t go south, July 5th is supposed to be “opening day.” However, we are going to err on the side of caution and continue to observe our current plan until July 19. And here is the big news!!!  On July 19th, we will be meeting at Abram Farm for one big church service and a pitch in to follow. We plan to set up tables instead of chairs for the worship time and then bring out the food afterwards. We will start at 10:00 and have a wonderful time of worship together as ONE.  Beginning July 26th we will be back to “normal” at our building, except for the youth worship. Ryan is working on a starting date for that part. He will let you parents know more after he meets with the teachers again.  May I ask you to do something? Please pray for all that we need to decide. Please pray for our Grand Opening on the 19th.  Oh, and by the way, we can set up Saturday at the Farm. That is even better! So, expect an appeal for help.  🙂

 

To those of you who are still watching: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I realize some are still hesitant about coming back just yet. And that’s okay. We want you to feel comfortable and safe when you do. One of the podcasts I listened to said many pastors will be disappointed because they think there will be a great influx of people wanting to return and it will go back to what it once was. He said it would be more like a trickle. Since I had no clue what to expect, I wanted to err on the side of “trickle.” The first week brought 87 and the second 94 with some different folks each time. Both services were about equally attended. But I’m just so appreciative of you who still take the time to watch and let us know you are watching. I consider it a win-win if we can meet your need to worship and still feel you are a part of OVCF.

 

The next two Sundays my sermons will be from Isaiah 40. The first, Shelter in the Time of Storm, is from verses 1-17. The second, Strength for Weary Days, is from verses 28-31. I believe this OT chapter is so relevant to our day and time. We are both bombarded and tired from the Covid attack and from the violence caused by an unnecessary killing. I have stopped even watching the news. (I sure have gotten a lot of reading done) 🙂  God’s Word speaks to how we react to the news around us. Isaiah tells us how we can cope when we feel bombarded and the storm clouds seem to gather and then unload on us. He also tells us how to keep on going when our feet feel like lead and we want to give up. I am so excited about these two sermons and honestly feel lives will be changed by God’s Word. Not my words; His words. I could never compete nor find the words to express how eloquently and clearly Isaiah does.

 

As usual I have gone on long enough. Please don’t say “too long.” My fragile ego couldn’t take that. 🙂 Anyway, all kidding aside: have a great rest of the week. I look forward to seeing you soon.  Love you all.

 

Pastor Bill

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ovcf.org/ovcf_wp/2020/06/midweek-message-7-2-2-2-2-2/

Midweek Message 6/3/2020

MIDWEEK MESSAGE 11

 

Good morning (or afternoon or evening)!  I hope you are having a great week so far. We have spent the first part of this week in Ohio visiting Janna and Braden. Braden has kept us in stitches quite often. Oh, the life of a 13 year old!  His jokes are so lame they make us laugh. It sure is what the doctor ordered.

 

Sunday sure was worth waiting for. It was so good to see many of you who ventured out. We had a count of 87 in both services and had one family of three use the back TV in the youth area. The best part was seeing people laugh and greet each other, even though most avoided physical contact. I thought the Worship Team was spot on Sunday and the songs chosen were good ones that highlighted Jesus. We sang Holy Water again. Man, I like that song!

 

We still had a number of folks watch via live stream. I am so glad we were able to get that going and will keep it continuing for the future. If you were one of those who watched, thank you for joining in. I know there are some who want to be at the church building but caution is the name of your game. I understand and respect that. You are not forgotten though. It is just as important to me that you join in via the live stream as it is you be there in person for the moment. We still have those outside the OVCF church family who are watching from all over. I heard on a podcast recently that many have friends who won’t step inside a church door at the moment. (I heard one person say they thought the roof would cave in). Anyway, online is a great way to introduce your friends and family to “church” without them making a public entrance. The speaker went on to say that sometimes it might take a year or so before that person feels comfortable enough to find his or her way to the church building for a worship service. Just think though. You had an influence on that person, and it just might have eternal consequences!

 

During the talk Sunday, I gave a list of upcoming sermons for the summer. I know there was no way to copy them down during the talk because of time and I mentioned that I would include them in this Midweek Message. Here are the projected sermons with Scripture for the summer:

 

  • Wisdom to Find the Right Path (Pr. 1:1-7; 20-32)
  • Shelter in the Time of Storm (Is. 40:3-27)
  • Strength for Weary Days (Is. 40:28-31)
  • Endurance for the Long Haul (Jer. 2:1-19; Heb. 12:3-17)
  • Peace in a Worried World (John 14:27)
  • Refreshment for a Parched Land (Ezek. 36:22-36; 37:1-14)
  • Supply for an Empty Tank (Phil. 4; Mt. 6:19-21; 25-33; Jon. 6:1-14)
  • Security in Unsure Times (Rom. 8:31-39)
  • Satisfaction for an Empty Soul (John 4)
  • Grace for a Hassled Heart (Ezek. 34:11-16)
  • Vision to See God’s Plan (Joseph, Esther, others)

 

We have been inundated with the Covid thing over the past 3 or 4 months. It is sad that it “lost” its front page status by the ugliness of the weekend. In no way, shape, or form do I stand for violence against any race of people. That was just plain wrong. But so is the rioting which has destroyed businesses, cities, property and lives. I have always said there are good and bad people in all races, religions and nationalities. The actions of the weekend prove my point. Sadly, in all the ugliness we miss the incredible acts of courage and service so many others performed. We still have people on the frontlines who should not be dismissed or forgotten. Even in the ugliness we had people perform incredible acts of courage to help someone else. I’m not a “we have it within ourselves to bring peace” kind of person, but I sure do believe that treating each other with love and compassion goes a long way to making things better. I’m not one who believes that we will ever find true peace on earth until Jesus returns, but we can do our best to make life better while here. It starts with each one of us taking note of others. Maybe meeting a need. Maybe letting them know you care. Just remember it all starts with us. With you. With me.

 

Have a great rest of the week! If you can make it Sunday it will be good to see you. If not, then I look forward to seeing you online. Never forget you are loved.

 

Pastor Bill

 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ovcf.org/ovcf_wp/2020/06/midweek-message-7-2-2-2-2/

Midweek Message 5/27/2020

MIDWEEK MESSAGE 10

Who’d a thunk it, right? When this whole mess started who would have thought it would still be ongoing and looks to continue in some form for months to come.  I’m going to continue with doing the Midweek Message until I deem it a moot point. I don’t know if that is cause for celebration on your part or not, but there you have it. 🙂

I am so excited for this coming Sunday! I have been looking forward to it for several weeks now.  I hope you are as excited as I am. To finally be able to see people in the flesh, at a worship service, will be like having a big bowl of ice cream. Satisfying but wanting more. To be perfectly honest, I am under no delusion.  I listen to several different podcasts and read a number of leadership blogs and they all say pastors are in for a great fall.  They almost all, to a “T”, say the anticipation of opening will not meet the expectations of the pastor and leaders.  That may be so, but I am prepared for it. I have told Jo I am “cautiously optimistic.”  My philosophy is when I stand up to preach whether there be 1, or 100, or 1000 (never been there), I need to preach as though it may be the last time I preach, or the last time someone has a chance to hear the message of the gospel. Some folks have asked me during this Covid mess how I feel on Sunday morning preaching to maybe 3 others in the room. I told them that every Sunday morning after I have made my notes in my Bible, I preach to an empty auditorium for practice. I jokingly say I preach to the mice but they all scatter. 🙂 Perhaps all those Sunday mornings of preaching to an empty auditorium have prepared me for this. (What it didn’t do is teach me to preach into a camera-for which there is no preparation). Anyway, if you come, no matter the size of the group, you will hear the same thing as if you were listening to the livestream. Will it be good to see people? Sure. But I only want you here if you feel safe.

I can tell you one thing I have not regretted about my actions during this lockdown: my drive-bys.  I can honestly say that was a “God-thing” for me. I have had so much fun doing that. There have been some who have been home, have acknowledged my texts, but have not come outside. There have been some who have and I have stayed safely away to respect them. One family asked me to come onto their porch and we sat at the four corners of their porch and visited for something like an hour. Other than freezing the back of my head off (I forgot to wear something with a hood), I had an absolutely fantastic visit! We laughed and told stories like nothing was wrong. One family, the Chambers’, stood inside their door (due to Alexander) and talked to me through the screen. I got to visit with the kids and then prayed for Alexander’s surgery the next day. But for them to take time out of their busy schedule to let me do that was special to me. I visited some folks yesterday (Tuesday) and we sat out on the porch and talked.  On one I had no choice. That downpour hit and I noticed that even though I was trying to get up under the eaves of their porch by backside was getting wet.  🙂 So I was invited onto the porch and visited. The next house was the same way. As I write today, I should finish off the whole directory of people.  I’m guessing maybe my next move will be a drone with a remote voice saying, “Hi! I want you to know I love you.”  Nah. I don’t have a drone. Besides, some of you might think that is kind of creepy. LOL Anyway, thanks to all of you who have taken time to say hi or to text me and let me know you were sorry to have missed me.

Sunday I believe you are in for a real treat. My series on Colossians was finished last Sunday and so I had one Sunday for a transition. Ryan was scheduled to preach but his schedule changed big time, so instead of him preaching, he asked that I preach since it is the first Sunday back. I thought it would cool to have him involved with me so I worked up four questions and we will be answering them.

  1. What we observed
  2. How we felt
  3. How we filled our days
  4. What’s on the horizon

 

Sounds like it will be about us, but I believe you will be surprised. Whether you are here or watching the livestream I think you will welcome what we will be sharing.  Relax and enjoy.

Thanks again for allowing me into your home/computer/phone. I do appreciate you doing that. Have a great rest of the week. And maybe see you Sunday. And if you come, please read again our guidelines. They are on the church’s website as well as our FB group/page. Speaking of which, we now have two FB accounts, the group (private) and page (public).  The group is Owen Valley Christian Fellowship and the page is Owen Valley Christian Fellowship-Spencer, Indiana.  We needed a new page for our livestreaming. Plus this will allow others to watch who are not a part of the closed group. Never forget you are loved.

Pastor Bill

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ovcf.org/ovcf_wp/2020/05/midweek-message-7-2-2-2/

Midweek Message 5/20/2020

MIDWEEK MESSAGE 9

 

As I begin to write this it is Monday morning. Wet, rainy. I could make a reference to an old Carpenter’s song: “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down” but that isn’t true for me. It makes me want to nap. 🙂 We had a beautiful weekend though. I had to go by the park several times and the line to enter was backed up all the way to the highway. I saw people go past and pull a U-Turn to get in line. I also saw those who pulled in and just waited their turn. Crazy!  But this was the first “official” weekend people were allowed to get out so it was to be expected.

 

Only two more weeks before we reopen the church building! I am so excited to see people, even though I know some (many) will stay away for now. That’s okay. We will continue both in service and online services into the future. That was one of the main questions folks had in our survey when we asked about coming to the church building or online. Some took it to mean we were choosing and would stop doing online. The answer to that is simple: Nope. We will be doing both and have no plans to stop either.  I read blogs and listen to podcasts where they talk about reopening. Our figures don’t really vary much from national averages. The percentages may vary somewhat but most people feel the same way across the board.

  •  A low number of local cases.
  • Social distancing and other precautions are taken.
  • Local businesses open.
  • Local restaurant seating areas or open.

 

But many nationwide said they would return only when all conditions are met (low cases, businesses open, restrictions lifted, vaccine available).  And some 10% admitted they weren’t sure.

 

I can honestly and sincerely tell you we are not taking reopening without a lot of seriousness and with precautions in place. We even held off a week to give you more time to consider your options. (Besides, the 24th is Memorial Day weekend). We are making changes and pivoting so you can come and know you are safe. Please read again our Reopening Plans on the church website https://www.ovcf.org/ovcf_wp/2020/05/reopening-plan/ and familiarize yourself with the plan. And then please, please, please, honor it. It will be super hard for me because anyone who knows me knows I am an ultra-social person. But I will honor and respect your space because I want you to feel safe and comfortable here and around me.  Keep the date in mind though and mark it down: May 31 at 9 and 10:45. The livestream will be on FB and YouTube during the 2nd service only.

 

You should get this Wednesday morning. I’d like to ask you to pray for Alexander Chambers who is having a heart cath today. Alexander is 3 years old and has been a trooper through several procedures already.  Tomorrow, Thursday, a local man, Bobby Porter, a friend of someone in the church is having cancer surgery for Stage 4 cancer of his face. They expect the surgery to take about 8-9 hours with major reconstruction down the road. I mentioned several others this past Sunday who needed prayer. Please take a moment and say a prayer for these two and others you may know.

 

There is no question we live in an unprecedented time…in our lives. Just the other day I saw a commercial featuring a lady who was born during the Spanish flu epidemic in 1920. She is 100 years old! I’m guessing she has seen a lot!!  🙂 But that reminds me that even though this is our first rodeo on something of this magnitude, there are others who have gone through similar events. I know this is the first event of this magnitude I have been through as a pastor. I’ve seen economic downturns, 9/11, SARS, Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, and others. But nothing like this. And I’m guessing you haven’t either. It is easy to get overwhelmed during times like this. Allowed out/not allowed out. This business open/this one closed.  This one wears a mask/this one doesn’t. Confusion is common. Fear is faltering but still a reality for some. I read Psalm 121 this morning during my morning Quiet Time. I’d like you to take a few minutes to read it (it is 8 verses). That psalm speaks to our situation in spades! It tells us where our help comes from. It tells us what we can know about the One who stands with us. And he tells us that God will NEVER leave us or forsake us. Hang onto that my friends!!

 

As I bring this to a close, I can’t emphasize enough two things. First, our all-out attempt to be ready for you on the 31st. We want you to be and feel safe. If we fail at that, I will be sorely disappointed. Second, please use your judgment on attending. If you are feeling sick, please stay home. If you are hesitant in any way, please don’t feel like you have to come. Just don’t make a habit of it.  🙂  You would expect a preacher to say that wouldn’t you? Then I didn’t disappoint you. But, in all seriousness, come when you feel safe and know you will be safe. Watch it online! I love you all and look forward to seeing you when the time is right.

 

Pastor Bill

 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ovcf.org/ovcf_wp/2020/05/midweek-message-7-2-2/

Midweek Message 5/13/2020

MIDWEEK MESSAGE 8

 

Seriously? Week 8? ONLY week #8?  Actually, no. It is week #9. I started this midweek message one week after the lockdown started. And I know, I know. Your week is incomplete until you open your email or see on FB or the church website that Pastor Bill has just written another Midweek Message. I know it makes your world brighter and you just so look forward to getting this message. You don’t have to tell me how it changes your whole week. Okay…so you can tell me. 🙂  In all seriousness, does it not seem like forever since we did things normally?

 

Yeah…that word normal. What is that? From every indication I have seen and from everything I have read in blogs and listened to on podcasts “normal” is gone. We are about to enter the Twilight Zone. Oops sorry, got carried away with my own attempt at humor.  I’ve had several folks say to me, “I just can’t wait to get back to the way things used to be.” I hate to be the harbinger of bad news to them and to you (if you have said or thought that), but things will not get back to the way they used to be. We will have to settle in for what is being a “New Normal.”  Read those words again: NEW. NORMAL. Things will never be the same for anything-economically, financially, business, and most certainly, the church.

 

I remember reading once about a young man who was being introduced to a congregation. The search team had done their due diligence and felt they had finally found the young man who was going to move the church forward. On the night he was being introduced he stood up to speak and said, “I’m excited about coming to First Church and taking it into the 20th century.” The head of the search team whispered, “Don’t you mean 21st century?” To which the young man answered, “Let’s not rush things. One century at a time.”

 

Many churches are stuck in the past. They want to do things the way they used to. It has been said the seven last words of the church are “We never did it that way before.”  Well, I think it is safe to say that those churches who stayed there, will not make it. Down the road they will be irrelevant or even extinct. We have to admit things have radically changed. In many ways. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was not prepared. I was not anticipating a lockdown. No gathering on Sunday. A major overhaul on ministry. But it happened. We (OVCF) had to go into catch-up mode. Thanks to Tami (yes, my daughter) our services were streamed to FB and each week it got better. There were (and still are) glitches but I am so proud of her for stepping up. She even came around her parents those weeks (but we weren’t allowed to hug her). 🙁 Then someone donated the money needed for us to step up our game to put out a clearer and sharper “product.”  Thanks to that donation; Ryan’s hard work; and Joe Pavich’s willingness to volunteer and take that ministry under his wing, we are making great progress. We have not arrived yet, but we are well under way. And for those who have wondered, the livestream will continue even after we are able to meet together.   We have heard of so many who have benefited from the livestream that we simply cannot stop now.

 

You probably know by now that May 31st will be our first attempt to be back together. We will do it with some restrictions (see the FB page for that list or the church’s website). The caveat to that is unless Governor Holcomb says we go back to lockdown. Ryan and I will be taking a different approach that morning. It will be very laid back and we want you to come with an anticipation of gathering, but also with an excitement of what is coming down the pike. The next week, June 7th, I’ll be starting a series called Promises, Promises. The sermon that Sunday will be “The Wisdom to Find the Right Page.”  I am totally convinced God has got this. He was not surprised by this Covid thing. Nor has He ever been sitting on His throne cracking his knuckles or biting his nails in nervousness over the events and being caught unaware.  I am convinced His promises are true and will stand the test of anything that comes up.

 

When you get here on the 31st EXPECT CHANGES. Most of those changes will be in the way we approach each other; communion (you will get your own as you enter) and offering; seating; and greeting each other. What will NOT change is that friendliness will depend on each one of us; the warmth we want to be known for will not be determined by masks and gloves (if you choose to wear them); the music will still need your participation; and the Word will still be preached. Keep in mind worship is from the heart and should not be determined by outward influences. Again…please let me ask you to go to the church’s website or our FB page for our reopening plans. Please familiarize yourself with them.

 

Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us God is faithful and His mercies are new every morning. Don’t rely on the past; look to the future and see what God will and is going to do. I’m excited about it!! Thanks for letting me visit with you. Have a great week. See you Sunday (virtually).

 

Pastor Bill

 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ovcf.org/ovcf_wp/2020/05/midweek-message-7-2/

Midweek Message 5/6/2020

MIDWEEK MESSAGE 7 

Happy Wednesday OVCF family and friends! I hope this finds you doing well and being safe and healthy. And if you have children at home…surviving. 🙂 I was listening to a leadership podcast just yesterday and one of the things the interviewer said was the pandemic has lost its “shine.” (My words since I can’t remember exactly what he said). In Bill-speak he said the first 30 days were doable but now the people just want it over. I guess he never interviewed me. I would tell him the first 30 days were not doable because I didn’t like the whole social-distancing thing. It has been 8 weeks since I have hugged my own daughter, and of course, you. It is hard not to do so to people you love.

But my “Drive-Bys” have helped. As I will share this week in my sermon I was told at the very beginning of my ministry not to get close to people in my ministry. That was okay for him because he was more like that. My personality does not allow that. So being quarantined and “shut away” was hard. The Drive-Bys have been a fun part of several of my afternoons the past 3 weeks. I am so grateful for those who were home and at least came to the door, or the porch, or even the yard, to say Hi and smile and wave and laugh. For those concerned, we kept our distance. I may be seen as irritatingly cold about the whole mask and glove thing, but I have kept my distance so as not to be totally “off the rails.” (I know what some of you are thinking right now so don’t!). 🙂 Anyway, I have had an absolute blast doing the Drive-Bys. In case you aren’t sure what that is I drive into a person’s driveway and pray for those in the house. Then I either text or leave a card in their door to let them know they “have been the victim of a drive-by.” Your response has been so encouraging. I have been to at least 30 houses so far and plan to do more either today or tomorrow.

One of my concerns during this whole mess has been how can OVCF help others. So far, we have escaped the dire circumstances many are finding themselves in, but we have many healthcare workers, response people, etc in our community. After several cancellations due to situation that have come up for them, I am taking lunch to Sheriff Hobbs and Detective Teuton today (unless something else comes up) to see how the church can help. I then plan to visit other leaders in the community to see how the church can make a difference. Would you mind praying about that please? We are not in town where we could offer food. Besides, there are others doing that and there is no sense in reinventing the wheel. I am proud of the folks from OVCF who have helped by making masks for workers. Someone

ordered and provided a slew of hand sanitizer to the sheriff for distribution. He wants to be anonymous. But he did it in the name of the church. And I know several others who have helped in other ways. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Thanks to all of you who have sent back the surveys. They have been really helpful in our decisions of when to reopen and what course of action to take when we do. I speak for Ryan and Diana when I say we read each one and used them in formulating our “getting back together plan.” By the way, there is an attachment to this Midweek Message with our course of action. The leadership has also given some great input during our Monday afternoon meeting.

This time away has hopefully led all of us to reevaluate what is important to us. One of the most heartening things for me has been to hear from many of you via text or seeing it on FB (via Jo) on how much you miss being together. It has been over a year since I have had a Diet Dr Pepper or any pop for that matter. I can honestly say there are times I crave one. That is my hope and prayer for you: that you miss being together so much that you crave it. I want my passion for Jesus to be like that. In Ezekiel 37 we find the story of Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones coming to life. (A future sermon sometime this summer). Please take the time to read it. That valley of dry bones is a picture of me and you. The bones are dried up; all hope is lost; they are cut off. (v.11). But when Ezekiel prophesied the dry bones came to life. (Verses 1-10). That is a great picture of how many find themselves in these tough times. If you are there, I’d like to ask you to pray for God to bring life to your heart and renew it.

Once again, I am wordy. Do you sense a pattern here? 🙂 So it is time to close this message. If I can pray for you, how about letting me know?

Pastor Bill

Don’t forget to check out the attachment about our course of action for reopening.

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Midweek Message 4/22/2020

MIDWEEK MESSAGE 5 

Well, good morning (or afternoon or evening)! As always I hope and pray you are staying safe and healthy. I figure I’m not alone in hoping that this will all soon be over and we will at least begin to return to “normal.” I think it is safe to say though that the normal we once knew will not be.

I was totally blown away Sunday by the celebration of my 45 year as an ordained pastor. I wrote a little bit more about that in my Cycleguy’s Spin blog with the YouTube video Tami put together. If you could not see it or hear it but would like to here is the link that blog/video. http://billgrandi.ovcf.org/wordpress/?p=16024 I was truly honored and humbled by many of you responding and letting me know how you feel. I had to admit that I was totally surprised and somewhat emotional.

In a book called Dark Clouds-Deep Mercy, the author Mark Vroegop talks about the grace of lament. He introduced his book by having Joni Eareckson Tada tell her thoughts. Allow me to share her words:

“When a broken neck ambushed my life and left me a quadriplegic, I felt as though God had smashed me underfoot like a cigarette. At night, I would thrash my head on the pillow, hoping to break my neck at a higher level and thereby end my misery. After I left the hospital, I refused to get out of bed; I told my sister, ‘Just close the drapes, turn out the light, and shut the door.’ My paralysis was permanent, and inside, I died.

You don’t have to be in a wheelchair to identify. You already know that sad situations sometimes don’t get better. Problems don’t always get solved. Conflicts don’t get fixed. Children die, couples divorce, and untimely deaths rock our world and shake our faith…

…But after weeks in bed, I got tired of being depressed, and I finally cried out, ‘God, if I can’t die, please show me how to live.’ It was just the prayer God was waiting for.” (p.11)

The book of Habakkuk has a cry many of us use: “How long, Lord, how long?” In fact, 1:2 says, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” I suspect many of us are wondering that right now. There is a tendency to blame God for all of this. If He is so powerful and almighty why didn’t He prevent it and why doesn’t He stop it? All disease is the result of living on a fallen planet. It is called SIN. And even though I know God is able to prevent this and even though I believe He is Almighty, He will not go against His character or His Word. I do not know how long this current crisis will last…no one does. Except Him. But I do believe He would approve of taking Joni’s approach: “God, if I have to deal with this, then teach me how to live.”

Use this time to seek the Lord. “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is.55:6-9) Emphasis mine 

Onto another thought: We are constantly working to make our online Sunday better. We are awaiting new equipment which will change things 100%. Someone donated the money to purchase the new equipment and I guarantee that once we get it up and running you will be amazed at the quality. Just don’t stay home to watch my handsome face once we can start meeting together again! 🙂 But until then, thanks for tuning in. And inviting others to do so. Numbers mean little; lives touched means everything. Keep inviting and making comments.

Two weeks ago I commended Terrie MacMorran for his ingenuity of involving the students while they were away. Ryan has asked Terrie to do a lesson every other week till the middle of May. I’m grateful Terrie agreed and I hope your students look forward to his lessons and taking part.

Each week Dick and Vicki Hogan select songs for you to listen to before tuning into the FB service. I hope you are taking advantage of that. We are unable to include them in our service due to copyright laws. We can use hymns because they are public domain. Thanks to Dick & Vicki for making that effort.

Again I’ve gone on long enough. Hope your week is going well. Please stay safe. If you need me for anything, feel free to text or call. Love you all and look forward to seeing you face to face soon.

Pastor Bill Psalm 37:5

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