Category: OVCF News

Midweek Message 03/03/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #47

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 02/24/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #46

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Pastor Bill

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Secret Prayer Sister

If you’d like to be a Secret Prayer Sister, please complete a registration form at the info table & return your portion to the CWM basket.  Beginning Feb. 28th, you’ll be able to choose a SPS name to pray for!  If you need a form & are unable to attend in person, please contact the church office.  Questions, see Sally Carlson (812-821-4792) or Hope East (812-585-1693).

 

 

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Polar Plunge 2021

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

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Midweek Message 02/10/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #45

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 02/03/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #44

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

I love you all. Thanks for praying for me.

Pastor Bill

 

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

POLAR PLUNGE INFO…

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

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

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Midweek Message 01/27/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #43

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message (MM) #43.  Sure has been a bit dreary the past couple of days but I do hope you have been able to find a bright side to your day. I will often repeat to myself the Scripture which says, “This is the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps.118:24) May I suggest that to you as a good start to your day?

Owen County has hit Orange when it comes to the number of Covid cases. That spells good news for our county.  But in the long run, it will not mean much of a change to what OVCF does. We will continue with the seating and suggested social distancing when we meet, but we will also continue offering the live stream as an option. I really appreciate those of you who do watch the live stream. Even though it is not seeing you in person, I still feel I can at least connect with you in some small way.

I don’t have much to say this week because I wanted to include an article I read. It is by Karl Vaters who has written a lot about small town churches and has a heart for small town pastors (of which I am, obviously, one. I’d also add very gladly and proud to be one).  It is written primarily to pastors but I believe you will see the application to us all.

The Most Important Principle For Your Church To Get Right This (And Every) Year

By Karl Vaters / January 21, 2021

Live for Jesus.

That’s it, pastors and church leaders.

That’s the principle.

Live for Jesus.

Everything else flows from that.

Put Jesus first.

Seek Him and His glory, not your own platform.

Follow Him and His teaching, not your own ideas.

Lead the congregation according to Christ-like principles, not the latest business model.

Resist The Pull To Compromise

There are so many other things that want to compete for our time and attention.

From the current political battle, to the latest trend, to the relentless tug of extra-biblical tradition.

There’s always something trying to tell us we can do both. That we can have our preferences alongside Jesus.

That’s the compromise which must be resisted.

Nothing stands alongside Jesus without eventually replacing him in our hearts, actions and motivations.

There’s Never Too Much Jesus

It’s too easy to think “Yeah, I know. I’ve got this,” and move along to something else.

But there is nothing else to move along to.

You’ll never get enough of Jesus, you’ll never be able to teach too much about Jesus, and none of us will ever live enough like Jesus that we can say “Yeah, I know. I’ve got this.”

The closer I get to Jesus, the more I want nothing but him. And the more determined I am to resist anything that would replace, reduce, overshadow or compete with seeing Jesus shine through me.

So, this year and every year, let’s renew our commitment to the one principle that we must always get right. No matter what else may change, this must not.

Live for Jesus.

Get that right and you get everything right.

I thought the whole article was good but those last two lines struck gold with me. As a church body we could be firing on all cylinders but if we aren’t living for Jesus then we are missing the boat. So let’s accept the challenge.  Have a great rest of the week. I love you all.

 

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 01/21/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #42

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 01/13/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #41

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Pastor Bill

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Midweek Message 01/06/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #40

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pastor Bill

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