Category: MidweekMessage

Midweek Message 03/02/2022

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #98

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #98.  I really appreciate you allowing me to congest your inbox, but most of all for taking the time to read the message. J

It was a really busy and exhausting weekend but well worth it.  To see so many come to the pitch-in and take part in the inauguration of the Care Team Ministry (CTM) was so refreshing. The count was about 50 adults who stayed to participate in the meeting, and then chose a group (or groups) in which to be involved. I can’t speak for Hope East but I can speak for myself: what an exciting time!  This type of ministry is so necessary but never more so than right now.  As I talked to Hope afterwards she said this has been on her heart for close to two years but she never felt like she got God’s “Go” until just recently.  I’m so glad she listened to God and launched the CTM. I cannot wait to see what God is going to do through the ministry and cooperation of everyone.  Thank you to all who came, brought food for the pitch-in and then stayed to hear about the teams and chose where to serve.

Okay…after Sunday where I was truly blown away by your response, I have another “blown away” moment. As I stated in last week’s MM, and have been advertising by word-of-mouth on Sundays (and any other chance I have), that this Wednesday is the restart of “66.” I am retooling the class with scaled down material which will allow for a learning but more relaxed atmosphere. I feel that in the past I tried to cram too much into the one hour class time and as a result didn’t get through all the material or just overwhelmed people. The reason I am blown away is I have 22 people who have signed up to participate, many of them NEW people!!  If you are reading this and either failed to sign up or want to come to give it a try, please feel free to do so. All I ask is that you let me know so I have enough material for everyone. I don’t want to waste paper by doing a lot of extra copies, but I also don’t want anyone not to have the lessons. You may call the office or you can text/call me.

Two more items of interest:

  1. I mentioned Sunday about my friends in Ukraine-one a family (Zee’s) and one a missionary pastor (Caleb). If you are interested, I have posted some pictures of Zee’s family and the Sunday morning worship in the basement of the church building on my office door. Please continue to pray for an end to the war in Ukraine provoked by an egotistical, godless maniac.
  2. My new sermon series, Truth Decay, begins this week with “The Bible is Still the Bible.” I look forward to seeing you this Sunday.

 

I have allowed some room for a heartfelt message from me to you. This was sparked by some events and words of the past week/weekend and a couple of devotions I read from Alistair Begg in his Truth for Life: 365 Daily Devotions.

Many of you know I am not on any social media. None.  I have chosen to be that way for a reason: I don’t trust myself to say/not say what is right or wrong in the right manner and also because I know it would involve way too much of my time.  But the greatest issue I see is the right and wrong use of words. Please let me explain:  Newton’s Third Law of Thermodynamics says, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” In every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The size of the forces on the first object equals the size of the force on the second object.

Take, for example, our words. For every negative word, there is an equal or opposite reaction. For every positive word, there is an equal or opposite reaction.  The influence of our words is so important and can be so incendiary that the Apostle James wrote that the “tongue is a fire, the very world of unrighteousness.” (3:6) He doesn’t stop there but goes on to say, “it sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” (3:6). Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”  Our words can serve to encourage, to nourish, and to heal. But they can also cause strife, create dissension, and do harm.  Here is something to think about: “A careless word may kindle strife, A cruel word may wreck a life, A bitter word may hate instill, A brutal word may smite and kill.”  (Begg-p.65)

The other end of the spectrum is words that help. {Please take a moment to read James 3: 10-12}. The truth of the matter is that our words reflect what is in our hearts. If our words are not Christlike, we must not look first to our mouths but to our hearts. Our tongues contain immense power, and we can leverage them to heal, encourage, help, affirm, enrich, forgive, unite, or to bless OR we can use them to scar, discourage, hurt, downgrade, deplete, hold a grudge, divide or condemn. (Notice the opposites in those words). Remember: “For every action there is an equal or opposite reaction.”  Some people pride themselves in telling it like it is but is that really something to be proud of? The real fact is this: “it takes far more self-control to respond in gentleness than to give way to unbridled passion and anger.” (Begg-p.66)

May I please ask a favor of you? Instead of speaking your mind on Facebook or Twitter or whatever you use, why not hold your tongue? Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying, “It is better to keep your mouth shut (pen/keyboard silent) and thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.”  You can check the wisdom of those words by looking up two verses of Scripture: Proverbs 17: 27-28.

What will mark your words? Will you commit to using your tongue to bless others or curse others? Will you use it to build others up or tear them down? Will your tongue give life to others or bring death (sap the life out of people)?  Let’s honor Christ with our words-verbal or written. Friends bring friends life, hope, blessing and grace.

Rats! I forgot today is not Sunday. J I guess I ought to get off my soapbox (pulpit) and simply say that I hope you have a terrific week. I love you all (and those are not empty words).

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 02/23/2022

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #97

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #97.  I hope your week has been a good one so far.

There is so much happening right now. I would like to highlight some things during this Midweek Message. I hope you will take the time to read through them and maybe check them out further.

#1 ITEM: This is for all the ladies out there! This Saturday night is the Ladies Night at Main Street Coffee. I know the details have been announced for close to a month but let me just give you the basics one more time. It is Saturday from 5-7 PM. Kropack Creations is catering an Italian meal with pastry and drink provided by Main Street.  The cost is $13 with girls 12 & under costing $7.50.  Seating is limited so the best thing to do is contact Linda St. John for more information (812.829.7999). *There is only room for five more ladies to attend!

#2 ITEM: For the past month and a half we have been announcing via voice and print about the launch this Sunday of our Care Team Ministry (CTM). I suspect you already know, but if not, the plan is to have a pitch-in lunch after second service and then Hope East will present the CTM plan in more detail than I have been able to do via the MM (starting with MM#92). You will then have the fantastic opportunity to become part of one of the teams which will reach out to others in our church family. You won’t want to miss out on this in any way! I heard someone say they would not be able to make the meal but would like to be involved. You will be more than welcome! Please just talk to Hope for a recap or discussion of where you would like to help.

#3 ITEM: For six straight years I taught what I called Route 66 (abbreviated to “66”), so-named after the 66 books of the Bible. After my third time through, I took a much-needed break for a year or two then started it again in September of 2020. We were going strong until the pandemic arrived.  I started it again this past February 1st but after a couple of weeks, decided to change things. I talked to the class and they also agreed to the change.  66 will begin again on Wednesday, March 2nd from 6-7:00. It will be all new streamlined material from the previous efforts.  We will take a break during Spring Break and then during the summer, but other than that, we will be pretty solid. I generally take a book a week which gives us a general overview of the Bible. If you want to know more, please feel free to contact me. I think it is good for both those who know very little about the Bible, and also for those who have been followers of Jesus for a long time.

#4 ITEM: Small groups. Small groups really are one of the life-bloods of the church. People need to feel connected, to feel a part of something. We want to start up small groups again but we want to do it right.  We have been asking you to sign up to indicate your interest. We plan to start working on them soon so if you have an interest there is still plenty of time to let us know.  You can sign up and indicate your preference (participate, host or teach) at the info table or call the church office.

#5 ITEM: The Testimony Project.  Many people have wonderful “God stories” that need to be told. An intervention. A healed marriage or physical healing. A wonderful transformation story. Standing in front of people is not the cup of tea for many, but recording your story on your phone and then posting it is much easier. It is a great way to share your story in the privacy of your home, but then be an encouragement to others. We have Testimony Project handouts with directions on how to do all of this and post it on Facebook at the info table in the auditorium, and on the bulletin board in the hallway.

#6 ITEM: It never ceases to amaze me what people are capable of doing (in a good way). There is a series of commercials running right now for an organization called Tunnels to Towers.  It was started by a man who wanted to honor his brother, a firefighter in NY, who lost his life running into the towers to save lives on 9/11. The purpose of T2T is to make houses available for vets and those who have suffered traumatic injuries from war or serving the community. Many of these vets have no legs, no arms, part of an arm, and other casualties of war. My impression of the people being featured reflected a “can do” attitude.

In Exodus 3-4, there is an interesting exchange between God and the one He is calling to lead His people out of Egypt, Moses.

  • Moses: Who am I that I should go?
  • God: I will be with you.
  • Moses: What if they ask what is the name of the God who sent me?
  • God: I AM WHO I AM
  • Moses: What if they will not believe me?
  • God: Check out your staff and your hand in your cloak.
  • Moses: I’ve never been eloquent. I stutter.
  • God: I will be with your mouth. I made you.
  • Moses: Send someone else.
  • God: (angrily) I’ll send Aaron to speak for you.

Moses had an “I can’t” attitude. It might have even been an “I don’t want to” attitude. God changed that “I can’t” into a “Can do.”

When we feel incapable, God says, “I am enough.” He turns our “I can’t” or “I won’t” into a “With me you can.”

I hope this week you will experience God’s “I am enough.”  I love you all.

Pastor Bill

 

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Midweek Message 02/16/2022

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #96

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #96.  Thank you for allowing me to “bother” you this week. I hope this Week of Love has started out well for you and will end well.

I have a special word for you at the end of this message, but I hope you will read all the information before you get there.

In a week and a half, February 27th, the Care Team Ministry Launch will take place with a pitch-in following the second service.  I have been using the past 4 Midweek Messages to give you some details about the Care Team Ministry. Hope East and Diana have been working hard the past few weeks to have all the material ready for the kickoff on February 27th.  Here is a short recap of the previous week’s presentations: HOPE #1 introduced you to the whole idea and the mission of the Care Team Ministry (MM #92). HOPE #2 told you a little bit about the Wellness Care Team and Remembrance Care Team (MM #93). HOPE #3 gave you some information about the Children and Family Care Team and the New Baby Care Team (MM #94). HOPE #4 introduced the Bridal Care Team and the Military Care Team. HOPE #5 is the final part of the Care Team wheel.

  1. Disaster Relief Care Team. In 2005 and then again in 2008 (which was the really big flood) Spencer needed disaster relief. Our own local organization worked side by side with FEMA to bring help to affected families. The purpose of this team would be to create plans that could be put into action should a natural disaster (tornado, flood, fire) strike our area again. Our plan is to be able to turn part of our building into a temporary disaster relief center.
  2. Security Care Team. As much as we don’t like to talk or even think about this topic, it is a reality in our day and age. We would hope and pray nothing would be needed in this area, but we want to be proactive and provide security during services as needed.

 

I sincerely hope you will make plans to attend the launch, if nothing else than to find out more about the Care Team Ministry. What would be even greater would be if you found one of these ministries really touch a soft spot in your heart and for you to say, “I want to be involved”. The church is made up of all sorts of individuals with different gifts. We function best when each person is doing his/her part. Sort of like what the Apostle Paul talks about in I Corinthians 12: “For the body is not one part, but many. If the foot says, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?…But now there are many parts, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; or again, the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ “  (verses 14-21 with some editing)  (Scripture from NASB2020).  So…remember February 27th for the launch. I look forward to seeing you there!!

I’d like to chat with you about Route 66. For the uninitiated, Route 66 is taken from the 66 books of the Bible. Like driving the original Route 66, you can’t stop at every scenic place or historic monument (unless you have unlimited time). I take you on a trip through all 66 books with some extra stops along the way.  It takes 2 years to go through it with breaks along the way. This last time has been the hardest due to COVID interrupting the rhythm. I had some requests to start it back up and after two weeks, the class decided to take a short 3 week hiatus to see if starting over in Genesis might be more inviting.  I have a couple of (I believe) pertinent questions for you to consider:

  1. Would you be interested in attending?
  2. I will be offering the class on Wednesday evenings from 6-7. Would that interest you?

 

There will be a sign-up sheet on the back table for the next couple of weeks or you can call/text me to be added. I would like to hear your thoughts. One more thing: this is not limited to OVCF people. If you have someone you know who would like to attend, please feel free to invite them. There is no obligation to attend OVCF and I won’t “sheep steal.” J

I know Valentine’s Day is over but I wanted to leave you with a thought. I wrote this in my Living in the Shadow blog Monday.

Our Daily Bread had a really cool story about 2 octogenarians, one from Germany and one from Denmark. They had each enjoyed 60 years of marriage before they were widowed. Though living only 15 minutes apart, their homes were in separate countries. Still, they fell in love, regularly cooking meals and spending time together. Sadly, in 2020, due to ‘rona, the Danish government closed the border crossing. Undeterred, every day at 3:00 p.m., the two met at a border on a quiet country lane and, seated on their respective sides, shared a picnic. “We’re here because of love,” the man explained. Their love was stronger than borders, more powerful than a pandemic.

I believe that is what I Cor. 13 is all about. Love that has no borders.

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not jealous. Love does not brag. Love is not arrogant. Love does not act disgracefully. Love does not seek its own benefit. Love is not provoked. Love does not keep a record of wrongs. Love rejoices in the truth. Love keeps every confidence. Love believes all things. Love hopes all things. Love endures all things. Love never fails.  (NASB2020)

A love like this comes from above. It was perfectly modeled by a loving Father. It was perfectly exemplified by a life-giving Son.

How do you love? (End of devotion)

I am firmly convinced if we could ever love like Paul writes about our lives and those we come in contact with would change.  Let’s try to start loving like Jesus did.

And with that I will close. Have a great rest of the week. I love you all.

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 02/10/2022

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #95

 

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #95. After an interrupted week caused by the weather here’s to a full week of uneventfulness (except good things)!

I think the first agenda item for this MM is a big, huge shout out to Jim Jones, Will Schneider, and Dimitri Robinson for clearing off the church parking lot and sidewalks so we would have plenty of parking for Sunday’s service and be safe walking to the church building. Many thanks men for a bang up job.

It was so good to see everyone this past Sunday. After a week of live stream service where the only ones in the room were Jo (who hears me all the time) and Joe Pavich (thanks for doing the live stream that Sunday. My apologies to Joe for saying Ryan was here.), and after last week’s limited attendance due to several reasons, it was so nice to see people in seats. I heard the children’s programs were really bustling as well. A little birdie told me that the preschool class had 13 children and they had to ask another one of the teenagers to help the two (Teacher and helper) who were already in there. The willingness to help was so important. I would mention her name but I don’t want to embarrass Cammie. J

Over the past three Midweek Messages I have been sharing glimpses of the Care Team Ministry that is the dream of Hope East.  HOPE #1 introduced you to the whole idea and the mission of the Care Team Ministry (MM #92). HOPE #2 told you a little bit about the Wellness Care Team and Remembrance Care Team (MM #93).  Last week I told you about the Children and Family Care Team and New Baby Care Team (MM #94).  Of course, that is assuming you save the Midweek Messages!! J This week let me introduce you to two more parts of the Care Team Ministry wheel.

  1. Bridal Care Team. This team’s main ministry will be praying for and assembling a gift basket for the new bride and groom.
  2. Military Care Team. This team has two components. One is to send cards to active-duty service members and packages to deployed members. The other component is keeping in contact with families of those who are actively deployed. This includes coordinating some meals, possibly arranging help with needs like yard work, or child care while their parent takes a few hours to be refreshed.

 

For a more complete explanation of the following ministries which were mentioned in the previous weeks, and these two, please plan to attend the pitch-in dinner planned for February 27th following the second service. Hope will give a more complete description of the Care Team Ministry and will also give you a chance to be involved. So much of furthering the Gospel and the work of the church has nothing to do with the gifts which others see or hear. God didn’t make us all cookie cutter Christians so that we all look the same or do the same things. He has made each one of us unique and has given us different gifts to use in passing on His love. I sincerely hope you will give being involved in the Care Team Ministry an honest consideration. We need you and the unique gift you bring to the table. I’ll share the last two aspects of the Care Team Ministry with you next week.  And I KNOW you are so excited that you will be holding your breath until then.

Hope East and Macy Carlson have launched what they call The Testimony Project.  They introduced it to us this past Sunday. It is loosely based on the I Am Second white chair testimonies. If you are interested in seeing what the white chair testimonies are you can go to https://www.iamsecond.com/ for ideas. There are a wide variety of people who tell what God has done in their lives.  I hope this idea really catches on. It will be encouraging to hear the stories of how Jesus has changed your life. Please pick up a Testimony Project info sheet to find out how you can add YOUR testimony to OVCF’s Facebook group album.

During my Communion thought Sunday I mentioned reading a book by Kim Sorrelle called Cry Until You Laugh. Kim’s story of her struggle with a double mastectomy, then the death of her husband within 6 weeks during that same time due to pancreatic cancer which spread to his liver, was captivating. As they came to grips with the weight of it all, a word came to Steve: Complete. The following is from her book:

“Steve is complete. I think that over the next several months, Steve will learn everything God means by that. Right now it is a comfort, a warm, fuzzy blanket, a special word from God.

Other things seem backwards too. Who sends peace in the middle of a storm? Someone might throw you a life jacket, maybe, but not peace that wraps around you so that the storm blows all around but never gets close enough to muss your hair. Then there’s hope. Why is there hope when doctors throw around terms like “terminal,” and tell us they can “treat” Steve but not “cure” him? Most of the time I expect God to come through the front door, but He is quietly entering through the back door. I don’t know if I will ever understand the way God chooses to do things, but I have to say He is genius.”  (Page 84)

Questions abound in my mind sometimes about the way God works.  But then I tell myself that He doesn’t have to explain Himself to me at all. He is under no obligation to tell me. His way is perfect and sure, even though I don’t understand it. Even though I cannot see my way. Even though I feel overwhelmed at times. Even though I feel lost. God does what God does in His own way and in His own time. It is not for me to know and figure out everything. Someday I will, but then again, I suspect it won’t concern me. J  We all know folks who are going through some type of struggle-big or small-who need a listening ear. Be that non-judgmental, caring ear. Hold them. Let them cry. Be Jesus to them.

Have a great rest of the week. I look forward to seeing you Sunday. Love you all much.

Pastor Bill

 

 

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Midweek Message 02/02/2022

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #94

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #94!  Thanks first for allowing me to come into your world this way and second, for taking the time to read it (which I am assuming you do!) J

It looks like we will have quite a week ahead of us. As I write this we are expecting our first real “dusting” of snow this year. You have to admit we have been fortunate in the “snow category” this year. But Pastor Ryan suggested a couple of weeks ago he wanted some snow. So…if you want to get upset with someone, get upset with him for wishing it. I jest of course. We have been fortunate so far this winter as others around us have had their fill of snow.   Keep an eye on the weather but also remember OVCF’s inclement weather information that we have been sharing with you. Just in case you have not heard here is what we have been sharing:

  • We will send a mass email about any changes.
  • We will post the info to our FB group (search Owen Valley Christian Fellowship and request to join) and page (Owen Valley Christian Fellowship-Spencer, IN).
  • We have a group of volunteers who will call or text you.
  • We will plan to live stream a service at 10:00 via FB and YouTube if in-person services are not possible.
  • Please be sure we have the correct contact info so we can keep you informed. Call the church office (812.828.9840) or email Diana at secretary@ovcf.org to make sure we have the correct information.

 

One more thing: please be careful if you have to get out for some reason and the weather they are predicting becomes a reality.

Okay…on to more pleasant things. I wanted to start with this but felt that, at the moment, the weather information was important. I WANT TO GIVE A BIG SHOUT OUT TO THE YOUTH WORSHIP BAND WHO LED OUR WORSHIP THIS PAST SUNDAY MORNING!! Gracie and Mollie Wainscott, Emily Wyatt, and Micah Nally did a phenomenal job! I can see why the children love to go to the youth area on Sunday morning.  It is true that many of us were not familiar with the songs, but it was good to hear what the children are worshiping to. I like the way Pastor Ryan explained it Sunday morning. Having the children worship with us every 5th Sunday month is a good thing, but it is more than the young people being exposed to an adult worship. It is also good for us to experience a youth worship.  Funny side note: I received a text after the first service (I leave my phone in my office and Jo brought it to me). One of the moms had to stay home due to some sick kiddos but she said that her son was so excited he stood up and sang. J  Thank you again Gracie, Mollie, Emily and Micah. I certainly look forward to hearing you lead us again.

Over the past two Midweek Messages I have been sharing small snippets with you about the Care Team Ministry.  HOPE #1 introduced you to the mission of the Care Team Ministry (MM #92). HOPE #2 introduced you to the Wellness Care Team and Remembrance Care Team (MM #93). Today I would like to highlight two more spokes of the Care Team Ministry wheel.

HOPE #3:

  1. Children and Family Care Team. The focus of this team is on the children in our children’s ministry. This team will be responsible for praying for the children, sending cards to kids in the hospital or if they are sick at home, sending birthday cards, and making gift bags for teachers at the end of the year. {My note: you have no clue how much this will mean to a child to receive a card from the church or for a teacher to receive a gift as a “thank you for all you do”}.
  2. New Baby Care Team. Having a new baby brings so much joy into the lives of family and friends. We want to rejoice with the family with the new arrival of their baby. This ministry will assemble New Baby baskets, provide meals, cards, and prayer. There is also a hard but necessary aspect of this team. They may need to respond to a loss with flowers, a meal, a gift, and prayer.

 

If you find your heart fits these particular ministries, consider participating. Oh yeah…keep in mind and on your calendar the date of February 27th. There will be a pitch-in dinner following the second service where Hope East will give a more detailed description of all the Care Team Ministry teams and you will be given a chance to be involved.  I’d also like to add that some of you may hesitate because some of this will require a financial cost. Be assured the elders are 150% behind this effort and OVCF has designated money in the 2022 budget for expenditures. Hope will explain all that on the 27th.

As you know if you have been attending or watching online, I have been going through a series from Daniel I have entitled Against the Grain.  This past Monday I did a marathon sermon session where I finished the final sermon of the series. Why? So I can begin working on the next series which is coming: Truth Decay. I’ll tell you more about the series as we get closer, but one of the motivations for doing the series is the onslaught of false teaching heard so often in media and the air waves. No, it is not political. I abhor that and have promised it will never be preached from the pulpit. But, as a pastor, I have also been given a mandate by God to preach the whole counsel of God, i.e. the truth of God’s Word. I know I am not infallible and certainly don’t know all the answers. I’m still asking tons of questions! J  But with the seeming daily appearance of some “Christian celebrity” who has deconstructed his/her faith; with those who are called ex-vangelicals; and with the proliferation of progressive theology; I feel very strongly about the need to help strengthen my faith, as well as yours. (BTW: I will explain all those terms during the series). We simply need to have a firm foundation upon which to stand. The Apostle Paul wrote these words: “…until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of people, by craftiness in deceitful scheming, but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects in Him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4: 13-15 NASB2020)

Have a great rest of the week. Hopefully the snow will go around us. J  I love you all.

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 01/26/2022

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #93

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #93. I hope you are doing well physically and mentally as we all struggle through this new round of the pandemic.

Sunday sure was different. Admittedly a number of emotions ran through me Sunday morning as I sat in my office and thought and prayed. I started musing about the fact that Sunday would be different. No one was in the audience except Jo (who has heard me preach a ton down through the 48 ½ years of marriage), and Joe Pavich, who came to run the live stream.  My struggle was how much I look forward to Sunday morning and seeing people. Sure, I do get to do what I have done for close to 50 years: preach. But I also know I’m a social creature and I really look forward to seeing people, laughing with them, hugging them, fist bumping them, and just greeting people.  I love seeing smiles, the hugs and laughter of children, and the joy of connecting with people I have grown to love. I love seeing new people and the fact we have some momentum right now makes it a bit harder to take this break. But that is the way of life in 2022…and in 2021…and in 2020.  I just think there is great value in meeting together. I wrote that and more in my blog on Sunday.

I was excited to hear so many tuned in via FB or YouTube. That was really encouraging. (Funny side: when I was practicing early Sunday morning-which I always do-I found myself looking around at people. That was sort of an effort in futility since no one was here or was going to be here later. So I had to practice focusing on the camera).  So the question you may be asking is “What is the verdict about this Sunday?” At this writing, I can honestly say, “I don’t know.” That will be evaluated later this week. So stay tuned for an email and an announcement on FB.

Last week I began highlighting the new Care Team Ministry which Hope East is going to launch on Sunday, February 27th with a pitch-in after the second service. HOPE #1 focused on the desire to offer care, love and compassion to our church community.  The hope is for us to create a ministry system of different teams that will come alongside people within our church congregation (and ultimately as an outreach as well). We want to be there for you! So let’s begin introducing the Care Teams. There are a total of 8 Care Teams so I’ll take two each week in order to give you more information to consider.

 

HOPE #2:

  1. Wellness Care Team. The responsibility of this team is to be there for those who are suffering through an illness or find themselves in an emergency or hospital situation. The primary purpose of this team is to offer prayer, get well cards, flowers and (if needed) to deliver meals. If you find this type of ministry “up your alley” then please consider becoming a part of this team.
  2. Remembrance Care Team. This team’s primary concern will be ministering to those who are living through a death in the family or having a funeral. This team would provide meals for the family, offer prayers, cards, flowers, and possibly even coordinate a funeral meal. If you love cooking or sending cards or feel strongly about the importance of this team, please consider becoming a part of this team.

 

I’ll defer to Hope at this point by simply saying that if you have any questions about either of these ministry teams, please talk to her. I guarantee she will not only talk to you, but also give you a more detailed explanation of these two teams. Next week, I will cover Teams 3 & 4.

 

In last week’s MM I also mentioned that one of our goals last Sunday was to begin garnering interest in small groups. I guess it is sort of hard for you to sign up at the info table when you aren’t here! J So this week we will try it again if the decision is made to have services. You do have another option: call the church office and express an interest. We are looking for names of anyone interested with three options: 1) teach/lead a small group; 2) host a small group in your home (but that doesn’t mean you have to lead it); or 3) just participate in a small group. Like I also said last week, this is not going to happen overnight so please have some patience as we do the necessary work behind the scenes.

 

I’d like to leave you with something I read late last week. It is from Karl Vaters, a pastor of small town churches.  The title of his thought was WHAT THE CHURCH MUST RELY ON WHEN THE ROAD AHEAD IS UNCERTAIN. I’m not going to reproduce his entire article but some tidbits from it.

  • When all else fails, the long, slow, but always-reliable process of restoring and nurturing relationships is what will get us through.
  • We live in the greatest time of global uncertainty since WWII. Every time we think we can see the end of the tunnel, it’s just another curve in the road.
  • In times of uncertainty, one truth has stood strong and tall for me lately. Better systems won’t get us through this. Only better relationships will. {End of his comments}

 

Let’s face it. No person alive has led his family, his church congregation, (or the country for that matter), through what the last 2+ years has brought us. That is not downplaying the World Wars, 9/11, or other upheavals. But I am reminded of the old saying, “The light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train.” Would you agree that is how a lot of us feel?  We are apt to say, “If it isn’t one thing it’s another.” Again…is that not how many feel?

One thing this pandemic has taught us is that “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” {Charles Dickens in “The Tale of Two Cities”} My version: “the best laid plans of mice and men often go down the tubes.” Any system in place has the potential (and some have) to go haywire. But there is one thing which can be a constant and can deepen: our relationships. It starts with our relationship with Jesus and continues to build in our relationship with others. And in this the church must lead the way. While the world is falling apart, relationships with others are being skewed because of anger or loneliness or fear, the church must be the one entity to show the world the difference faith in Jesus can make. While we may not always agree, we can agree to disagree. Jesus once told His disciples to “love one another.” He also told them that “by this will all men know you are My disciples if you love one another.” And with those words I will close.  I love you all and I hope to see you this Sunday. I hope…I hope…

 

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 01/19/2022

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #92

 

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #92!  As always, thanks for allowing me in your inbox.

Well, I think winter is here! I was at the Y on Monday and had an acquaintance whom I have talked with before made that statement. I said, “Yep. We held off as long as we could.” However, at least we aren’t in the south! Tami is an Atlanta Braves fan (crazy I know) and we saw a news report with Atlanta in the background and it was snowing “to beat the band.” Nice of those Atlanta people to take all that snow from us. J

COVID has caused some things to slow down. We are staying busy and due to the pandemic we are thinking and planning into the future. I’d like to share some of that with you this week, as well as give you a personal thought or two at the end.

This past Sunday morning, Hope East presented in both services a dream and passion of hers: to start a Care Team Ministry that will reach all people, all ages, and all needs. Over the next couple of MMs, I plan to help Hope get the word out to those who may not hear the message via in person or live stream. Let me also reiterate what I said in the 2nd service (but failed to do so in the 1st): the elders are 150% behind this. Some of the teams will require a little extra money (like the baby team or military team) and we have made sure that money was budgeted.

Hope #1: OVCF has been an integral part of our community because of our legacy of serving. The new Care Team Ministry (CTM) will fit beautifully within that legacy. OVCF has so much love and so many gifts and passions to share with one another and our community. The CTM will encompass different teams to offer care, love and compassion to our church community.  Interested? The story continues next week with Hope #2.

Years ago I heard a pastor say, “For a church to grow big it must grow small.” What he was essentially speaking about was the need for the church to have small groups. Over the years we have had small groups start. The past few years we have had two groups which have continued to meet on a fairly consistent basis. Several months ago Steve Pendleton challenged the elders to consider making small groups more of a priority (my words). He was right. We agreed. Meanwhile, there have been several folks who have expressed an interest in being involved in small groups. This past month in the elder’s meeting we committed to pursue it with more purpose. While there is still much work that needs to go on behind the scenes (studying, planning, projecting, etc.) this Sunday will be the start of it. We need to put “feelers” out to see who might be interested in being involved in a small group. A short presentation will be made and on the back table will be a sign-up sheet for you to indicate your desired level of involvement. Do you want to teach/lead? Do you want to offer your place as a host site? Do you want to just be involved in a group? You will have your chance to let us know beginning this Sunday. Please keep this in mind: this is not going to happen overnight. We are trying to find out who and how many folks might want to be involved. So look for that announcement and sign-up sheet this Sunday!!

I read an interesting article this past Monday from James Emery White, pastor of Mecklenburg Church in Charlotte, NC. It was about what is being called The Great Resignation. He begins like this:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more Americans left their job in April 2021 than in any other month or record. That record was broken in July 2021, which was then broken in August. And then it was broken again in September. This is what is being called the “Great Resignation.”

Derek Thompson, writing for The Atlantic, notes that most of those who are quitting are low-wage workers getting better jobs in industries that are raising wages to get desperately needed new employees.

Thompson calls it a “Big Switch” rather than a “Big Quit.”  {My note: some will debate what he wrote}

But Pastor White makes a claim that for many it is about burnout.

People in jobs that were particularly affected by all things COVID-think educators, healthcare workers and …pastors. In November of 2021 38% of all Protestant pastors said that they had considered quitting full-time vocational ministry in the past year (a rise of 9 points from January of 2021). An alarming 46% of pastors under the age of 45 are thinking of quitting altogether.

The question is why? Think all things COVID. Think all things which can alienate and anger one group or another. Open/close. Masked/unmasked. Vaxxed/non-vaxxed.  The 2020 election and on-going “stuff.” And this thing of going digital (live stream) which is definitely not in my skill set or many other pastors. {End of Pastor White’s comments}

(Thank you Pastor Ryan and Joe Pavich for being the driving force with this. And thanks to all the individuals who help make this happen each week).

All this to say: with so many pastors teetering on the edge, where does that put Pastor Ryan and me?  I can only speak for myself (but feel we agree). Since the pandemic started over 2 years ago, I can honestly say I have never had one thought about leaving. OVCF is an amazing church. Why would I want to? We have been in this together for 16+ years. Why would I want to start over? We have our differences and opinions. And yes, we have had some folks move on. That happens whether there is a pandemic or not.

I’m going to close with Pastor White’s closing paragraph: “Could you say a prayer for your pastor? Could you grant them sympathetic grace on whatever response to an issue or decision they had to make that you may have disagreed with? You know it couldn’t have been easy. And ask yourself-is masking, an election, a vaccine, on the level of doctrine, mission or Christian community? Leadership is a tough role. Can’t we agree to disagree…agreeably?”

I know I speak for both Pastor Ryan and myself on this: please, please, please do pray for us. I know we both love OVCF and what we do and the people we serve, but that does not negate our need for your daily prayers. So…do us all a favor: pray for us as we pray for you. Together we can navigate these current events and anything else the future may bring.

Thanks for reading and listening this week.  J  I sincerely love you all.

Pastor Bill

 

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Midweek Message 01/12/2022

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #91

 

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #91. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this message from me to you.

Like many of you, I also want to be aware of the battle between good and evil in my life. That sounds so generic, like a line out of a Marvel movie. So I’ll be a bit more specific: I, too, fight the battle that wages in me between the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life and the forces of Satan (my enemy), sometimes on a daily basis. Each morning I get up and after trying to make myself look presentable, I head to my kitchen table where I have my Encounter Time. So far so good. That is pretty much a given. But then the battle really starts. Fatigue. Distractions. Hurriedness. The clock. Not to mention there are definitely times I am not “feeling” it.

The struggle with sin has been since the Garden when our parents (Adam and Eve) decided to take matters into their own hands and do what they wanted to. Recently I read an article by J.D.Greear, the pastor of Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC.  It really spoke to me about the reality of sin and its consequences. I’m going to capsulize it for you. As usual, the main thoughts are his; the commentary is mine.

J.D.’s example is Lot, the nephew to Abraham. Lot chose the “greener pastures” and left Abraham with what became known as the Promised Land. There was an even greater tragedy which developed though. Lot’s choice brought him close to Sodom. He not only lived near Sodom; he eventually became a leader in Sodom. Yeah, you read that right: IN Sodom.  Perhaps even more tragic is that as things changed around him, Lot adapted and adopted instead of speaking up.  (Sort of like we who see changes happening but instead of speaking up we keep our mouths shut so we don’t upset the apple cart).  I suspect you know the rest of the story: the bartering of Abraham with God to spare Sodom; the visit of the angels to Lot’s house: the men of the community almost breaking down Lot’s door so they could “have” those visitors; Lot’s offer of his daughters instead: the fire and brimstone that rains down on the two cities (Sodom and Gomorrah); and as Lot runs away with his family, his wife turns around to look at what was and becomes a pillar of salt.

Lot lost everything, including his wife.

How can we avoid that same type of downfall (not necessarily with fire and brimstone  J )? Well, here are four life-saving lessons J.D. gave.

  1. Beware of the progression of sin in your life. Ask anyone who has fallen (big or small) and I guarantee you they did not start out to fall. Nobody becomes an addict because they planned to become one.  It starts a little at a time. I have a toilet I need to fix. It starts out just a drip or two. But now as it fills it sort of sprays everywhere, with some of it making its way down the side of the tank. A small thing becomes a big thing.
  2. The coming judgment is real. I’m guessing Lot didn’t know what was coming. I know for sure the citizens of those two cities didn’t! They had been warned for years but those warnings fell on deaf ears. God doesn’t delight in this type, or any type of judgment. He is not some mean “Judge in the Sky” who whoops it up when someone is punished.  But there comes a time when His patience is done when it comes to blatant sin.
  3. You cannot drift into godliness. I don’t know about you but my experience is that to become a godly person I have to pursue that. I’m not talking about “working my way” to godliness, but to pursue God. Oh…here you go! LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE. J  We can drift into sin by sheer negligence, but we can’t drift back into godliness by sheer laziness. Seek God and His Word. I used to say I would spend as much time in the Word as I spent reading the paper or watching TV. Of course, that was before Tik Tok, Facebook, Instagram, etc.  The struggle is harder (even though I am not on any social media).
  4. Become an Abraham to the Lots in your life. Read the account of Lot leaving Sodom. He didn’t want to. The angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and got them out of Dodge. (Gen. 19:16) You know why they did that? Because God listened to Abraham’s intercession for his nephew. If you know someone heading down the wrong path, pray for them and ask for an opportunity to interject yourself into their life.

I hope this helps you in 2022.

It has been a rough two to three weeks for folks in Owen County and people we love. As the staff sat down to pray Monday morning we all became extremely aware of our long prayer list and the lives of so many impacted with so much going on. Of course there are the good things like healing and healthy pregnancies but there seemed to be an overwhelming number of heart-numbing situations. As this gets to you today, I will be involved in the funeral for Kirby Stogsdill this afternoon. Friends of folks who attend OVCF have also had the pain of loss. A mother losing her son one year to the day her daughter passed away from cancer. A cousin. A brother. Some battling COVID and others just battling health issues. I have two blogging friends dealing with pneumonia. Teachers dealing with new students (one who can’t speak any English) and all the protocols = STRESS!  May I ask you to stop right now and pray for them? Each week we include names in our bulletin to be a reminder to you to pray for others.  So please take some time over the next day or two to pray for someone else.

I’m excited about a new opportunity Hope East will be introducing us to this coming Sunday. Let’s just say it’s a good thing for all ages. I’ll let Hope tell you more this coming Sunday.  J

 

LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE

 

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 01/05/2022

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #90

 

Hello and welcome to MM #90.  This is the first MM of 2020 and I am wondering where do I start?

I guess first is an explanation and a possible apology. In MM #87 I began by saying I would be “out of your hair” for the next couple of weeks. Alas, I fibbed. I can say it was because I don’t have any hair but that won’t cut it. J The truth is I ran across several ideas and wanted to share them. One of them was the story of “Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus.” What is funny is that Madi Arnett left a copy of one of the local papers on my desk for me which had the complete article of that exchange the same day mine appeared in #88.

The second week (#89) I felt compelled to give some guidance good for all of us about what we can do to make 2022 a year where our lives are changed.  I think we are all tired of the garbage floating around these days on the airwaves and social media and I wanted to give us all a break from that. If you missed out on #89 contact Diana at the office and she can send it to you or one of us can make you a copy. Not to worry, she has already given me plenty of grief about going back on my word and writing a MM both weeks. J

Good old 2022 is here and with that comes a whole new set of “worries.” (Let’s call them “concerns” in order to be more spiritual).  If I was a betting man (which I am not), I would be willing to wager that most, if not all of us, will at one time or another in 2022 ask or want to ask “Why?” No, I’m not talking about the little one who has a thousand questions and they all seem to start with the word Why?

This is much more serious. When a health event hits us our first question might by why? When a catastrophic event hits-a death, fire, destruction, or car accident-we might be inclined to ask why? When financial hardship hits we may be tempted to ask why?

We may never know the answer to that question while here on earth, but we can take comfort in the truth of One who does. Just this past Monday I finished working on a sermon from Daniel 2. In that chapter is a verse we might be tempted to pass by: Daniel 2:22- “It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.”

We can take comfort in the fact that God is never surprised or afraid. He is never caught off guard. And while the event which happens has me rocking backwards on my heels or a tad bit flustered, God is not wringing His hands wondering, “What am I going to do?”

Take heart. Those moments of darkness are not dark to Him. He is the light on the head of the coal miner. He is the compass in the hand of the explorer. As the old hymn says, “There is no shadow or turning with Thee.” (Great is Thy Faithfulness)

I wrote that Tuesday morning for my blog, Living in the Shadow. There is no doubt 2022 is “up in the air” as to what we think might happen and what will happen. None of us knows. I know I certainly don’t have a crystal ball I consult. I can only go to the ONE who does know and trust Him to handle things better than I ever could.

Now for something else…As we were sitting in staff meeting Monday morning, I think we were all surprised by the volume of prayer requests which came across our plates over the past week or so. We like to pray over all the requests, and particularly the newest ones given to us. But Monday it was like “Whoosh! Look out below!”  After my short devotion, Ryan led us in prayer. Also, every Sunday I try to bring you up to date on the status of folks on our list, as well as listing new ones. So…here is a list of the newest ones I’d like to ask you to pray for:

  • Law Enforcement Officers: Caleb Hutchison, Ryan White, Shauna Wetzel
  • Military family and friends; Nikk Wood, Tyler Benson, Iain Ramsay, Chris Erb, Jessica Parmer, Nick Hickman
  • School Related Prayer: Nate Hopf (teacher) and Kahner Welch (college student)
  • David Fisher, Tim Huffman, Kirby Stogsdill, Chris Wainscott, Joe and Kelly Norris (COVID), Kylie (17 y/o with COVID pneumonia), Wendy Mader.
  • Healthy pregnancies: Jimmy & Christine Chambers, Caleb & Amanda Hutchison, Elizabeth and Donovan Jones, Darren and Anitra Line, and Mitch and Shauna Wetzel.
  • Deaths: Mark Murphy’s family (father); Judy Edwards family (cousin to Mike Edwards); and Frank Nichols family (Brother to Rosie Bault and half-brother to Carol Sturgeon).
  • Martha Orlando-my friend from Georgia who faithfully watches our live stream every week- in hospital with COVID-related pneumonia (and yes, she has been double vaxxed and boosted). I heard about her from her husband on Monday.
  • Donna Keith, ongoing chemotherapy treatment.

 

See what I mean? And that is not all. I realize by listing these folks I am leaving others out. That is not to be taken as others are less important. Far from it. These are simply those added or updated Sunday or Monday.  I list them so you can join us in praying for them. Thanks for doing that.

One final item: As I was praying Sunday morning with the worship team before they started practice, I prayed a simple thought which came to my mind. I have decided to make it my by-line for the year: LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE.  I hope you will join me in that heartfelt desire.

I pray God blesses each of you in 2022…even when you don’t see it. I also look for 2022 to deepen my love for God and for you.  Have a great rest of the week! See you Sunday!!

Pastor Bill

 

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Midweek Message 12/29/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #89

 

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #89. I know…I know…you thought I would have come up with a better opening line by now. To be honest, I haven’t really given it much thought.  Some of the shows I watch all say, “Hello and welcome to (___________).”  Or just “Welcome to the (___________). No, not jungle.  J I’m just glad you take the time to read the message.

I hope you had a good ending to a sometimes not-so-good year. I, for one, look at 2021 as being in my rearview mirror. No one got anywhere by constantly looking backwards.  Whenever I was younger I would try to set resolutions that I found out I quickly broke. So I stopped. I started asking myself “What do I need to do to make this coming year “successful?” My first thought about that success was not work, school, or those things which are normally scrutinized as being talking points. I was more concerned with my spiritual walk.

I don’t suspect I am alone, even as I ask myself that same question today. I firmly believe that if my walk with God is in the right place, where it belongs, then the rest of my world will come together.  Several years ago I clipped a page from something I was reading and filed it away. As I was cleaning out some files the other day I found it. As I read it I thought it would be something good to pass on to you as you look ahead to 2022.  The main thoughts are from the article. Any commentary is mine.  So…here we go:

 

  1. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus Christ. I will be the first to admit the struggle with this one. Life hits and sometimes hits with a slam dunk. Have you ever seen that game where they have children, and sometimes adults, put their head on top of a baseball bat and then go in circles? When time is up then release them to walk away. Only they can’t. Their equilibrium is so messed up they simply stumble and sometimes fall. Life comes and it is like we are running in circles.  There comes a point in time when we need to stop and recalibrate. A lot of people like to do that at the beginning of a new year.  Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Let’s stop expecting the government or the school or the workout or the church to set us straight. Let’s look to Jesus.
  2. Look to God in the Scriptures. We live in a confused world. There are those who deny the existence of God (as there have always been). There are those who tell us to find God in nature. Nature can reveal God’s creativity but God is not a tree or nature.  There are always whackos trying to get us to find God in drugs or some weird teaching. The Bible is where we find God for who He is. Psalm 119:18 says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your Law.” To save space I’m going to ask you to turn to and read Psalm 19: 7-11. Those are some powerful verses to focus on for this coming year.
  3. Remember all God has done for you. How easy it is to forget!  We see what we are going through now; we dream up what is ahead, and we find ourselves overwhelmed…and forgetful. Try to remember the same God today is the same God back then and will be same in the future.  Here is a great verse to remember! “Only be careful for yourself and watch over your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and grandsons.” 4:9
  4. Remain in Christian community. We haven’t talked much about this lately. With the onset of the live stream it is much easier to stay home and watch in the comfort of your recliner. I get that. But one thing live stream can’t do is offer community. It offers isolation. Unless you are involved in a small group which meets on a regular basis, it is so easy to feel like you are alone in the battle. {Note: we are going to make a more concentrated effort to have small groups in 2022}. We have got to have each other’s backs.  I’m glad live stream is available and some people are using it to feel connected. But I’m being honest when I say I miss you when you aren’t here. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds, not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day approaching.”  Just food for thought.
  5. Pray continually. I don’t know how to emphasize this anymore than those two words.  Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing” in I Thess.5:17.  Jesus told Peter to “Keep watching and praying so that you do not come (fall) into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” in Mt.26:41.  Make time this year for what I call my “Encounter Time.” Make a concentrated effort to read the Bible and pray. I also do a daily devotional blog called Living in the Shadow that might help your efforts.  (You can find that on the church’s website).

 

This got longer than I originally intended, but I guess you know me by now. J  But I do hope it helps you as you look ahead to 2022…hopefully not with fear and trepidation but with courage and hope.

The new theme for 2022 is “For Such a Time…”  This Sunday’s sermon is from the passage where that statement is found: Esther 4. Please read ahead and you will have a picture of what the message will be about.  As Christ-followers we are here “for such a time as this…”

Have a great rest of the week. Look with hope to the future.  Let’s make 2022 the best year in OVCF’s history. I love you all.

Pastor Bill

All Scripture is from the NASB2020.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ovcf.org/ovcf_wp/2021/12/midweek-message-7-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2/