May 23

Written by Bill Grandi on May 23rd, 2023

What would it be like to be asked to do something that would literally rock your whole world? Let’s take it further. Let’s suppose you are asked to do something so unexpected, so huge, so life-altering AND you are expected to decide right then and there.

What would you do? Hesitate? Question the sanity of the whole thing? Question your sanity? 🙂 Rub your eyes in bewilderment?

Most of us never have to make or face decisions like that. Not like Mary, the mother of Jesus. History and culture suggests she was a young teenager-possibly 13-14 years old-who an angel (Gabriel) appeared to and presented her with the scenario that she would carry the child who “would be named Jesus and that He would be great and called the Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:31-32)

That was news to her! She was a virgin. The baby would not come by natural means but by supernatural means.  She is told the child she is going to have will come as a result of the Holy Spirit overshadowing her. All that is needed is for Mary to say, “I’m yours.” She does and the rest is, well, history.

Much could be said for the worship and veneration given to Mary, but that is another topic for another time. My point in this post is not to take issue with a false teaching. It is to highlight her response-her immediate response. Without hesitation or debate or chewing her nails in indecision. She asked one question: “How!” (a logical one I believe) and received back the following response: “For nothing will be impossible with God.”  Her response was “Sign me up.” Actually, it was more respectful: “I am your servant; let it be.”  That needs to be our response as well.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 3:20 that God can do far more than we can ask or think. Let’s trust Him in that. Let’s fully believe and act on the promise that all things are possible with God.

This is Lady #7 and this ends my posts on the ladies chosen by 7 ladies to speak about on Mother’s Day. If you would like to read about the others you can go to this post which will direct you to the others.


May 22

Written by Bill Grandi on May 22nd, 2023

I’m continuing with my posts about ladies in the Bible several ladies used on Mother’s Day

Lady #1- Mary of Bethany

Lady #2- Tamar

Lady #3- Sarah

Lady #4- Lydia

Lady #5- Hannah

(The links to the previous 5 ladies can be found in the May 18 post found here)

Today is Lady #6-Deborah

The book of Judges contains many interesting stories of many great people. The book opens with the Israelites doing exactly what they were supposed to do: go against the inhabitants of Canaan and take the land. In 1:27 we find the first hint of failure to be obedient-the tribe of Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants. Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali and Dan followed suit. In chapter 2 an angel of the Lord was very blunt about their disobedience.

After Joshua died (110 y/o), it says in 2:11 the people of Israel “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” Thus began a cycle of disobedience; captivity; crying out to God for deliverance; a judge would do God’s bidding and bring freedom; faithfulness to God would last as long as that judge was alive; disobedience; captivity…you get the drift…the cycle would start all over again.

Judges were raised up by God to lead His people to freedom. Othniel. Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Samson to name a few. Wait a second. Did I say Deborah? A woman as a judge? Yes. Deborah was a prophetess and a wife and a judge. She used to sit under a tree giving judgment on matters involving the Israelites.  She told Barak that he was to go against Sisera, the invading general, but his fear led him to say, “If you go with me, I will go, but if not, I won’t go.” (4:8) Because of those words, Deborah told Barak she would go, but Sisera’s death would come at the hands of a woman. Long story short: Jael drives a tent peg through his skull as he hid (and fell asleep) under a blanket.

Deborah stands out, not just because she was a woman in a man’s world, but because she chose to trust. Jael received praise because she fulfilled Deborah’s prophecy of a woman being given praise for the death of Sisera.

Trust is not limited to one sex…obviously. Obedience to God is not limited to one sex either. Yes, Deborah was a woman in a man’s world, but in God’s economy, serving Him is all important and is not dependent on sex, color, status or any of the other qualifiers we use in our world.

As someone has said, “God is not so much interested in our ability, but our availability.” Like Deborah and Jael: BE AVAILABLE!


May 18

Written by Bill Grandi on May 18th, 2023

I’m continuing my devotional series on women in the Bible whom ladies from OVCF talked about on Mother’s Day.

Lady #1- Mary of Bethany

Lady #2- Tamar

Lady #3- Sarah

Lady #4- Lydia

Today is Lady #5

Last night-in fact, a lot nights this past month or so-Jo and I have spent at the local sports complex watching boys and girls playing ball. It seems as if once or twice a week for the past month we have been at the complex walking from field to field (there are 8 of them), watching children of all ages play ball and often chatting with their parents. To make this a bit more interesting is the fact that I have read to 5 different Kindergarten classes for this past school year and some of those students are playing ball. “Hi Mr. Bill!” are words I hear often. I know their faces but only see the close to 100+ students 1/month, so I’m often clueless as to all their names.

What strikes me, of course, is the amount of time the parents give to their children. Some of them are at the park 2-3 times a week. Some may even sleep there! 🙂 Does their child realize the sacrifice their parent is making for them?  (Have you ever watched T-ball? Then you know exactly what I mean). 🙂 🙂

Probably not.

That sacrifice seems minor in comparison to the one Hannah made. Childless in a society that looked down on childlessness, she begged God for a child. Eli, the priest at the time, thought she was drunk and when she corrected his accusation, he pronounced that God would give her an answer. That answer was Samuel.

There was one caveat. Hannah had promised that if God would give her a son, he would be given to God for His service. When Samuel was weaned, she gave him to God and Eli to fulfill her promise.

WOW! A long-awaited answer to a longing and a prayer given away. I wonder how she felt. This is my opinion here, but I believe that while she ached to give her son to the Lord, she also knew she had made a promise. Samuel became a stalwart figure in the history of Israel.

The story doesn’t end there. Elkanah, the husband, was with her on keeping that vow. They also had 3 more sons and 2 daughters. Not bad for a woman whose womb had been closed and was the object of ridicule by Elkanah’s other wife (Peninnah).  {My note: I wouldn’t brag about that name. Just sayin’…}

Hannah made a promise; kept that promise and reaped the favor of God. I’m not saying making and keeping a promise will always turn out like this, but I do know, and can say, that one can ever go wrong keeping a promise to God.

Ask Hannah. (For more of this story, see I Samuel 1-2).


May 17

Written by Bill Grandi on May 17th, 2023

I’m continuing my series of posts on the ladies spoken about on Mother’s Day by several of our ladies.

Lady #1- Mary of Bethany

Lady #2- Tamar

Lady #3- Sarah

Today is Lady #4: Lydia

What is it like to be successful? Further even: what is it like to be successful as a woman in a male-dominated society?

Hmmm. We could ask Lydia…if she was alive.  🙂 In Acts 16 we read of a woman named Lydia, a seller of purple goods (v.14).  Industrious. Hard worker. A worshiper of God. Just being a seller of purple goods was enough to show her success. She also had servants. She had a house. She opened her home to Paul and Silas. After their release from the Philippian jail, they stopped at Lydia’s house on the way out of town to see her and the others who met at her house.

It takes a lot to be successful. Sure, there are those who are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, but not for a women, especially in that day.  Lydia had to be industrious. She had to be innovative. She had to be unafraid. What is interesting to me is that she actually operated with a double whammy: she was female and a worshiper of God. One was bad enough, but with both of those “on her record”?  Man or woman being a worshiper of God often meant isolation and loss of income.

One thing she cannot be accused of is being lazy. The Bible calls it sloth. Think of a sloth and the first thing which comes to mind is the animal that does everything in slow motion…very slow motion. But consider this: sloth doesn’t just mean sitting around all day watching TV and eating junk food.  It also means indifference. Apathy. It’s like standing on a street corner and watching all things go by and not giving a rip.

We have too much of that going on in our society these days. If it doesn’t affect me and my circle, why should I care? An earthquake in Turkey or California? A tornado in Oklahoma or Texas? (Big difference when one lands in your own “back yard” as it did here less than 2 months ago). A flood in TN. A shooting in NYC (and elsewhere).  If it doesn’t affect me it is “out of sight out of mind.”

It is too easy to get apathetic when it doesn’t involve us or people we love. Lydia shows us the importance of hard work. Her concern for others and their spiritual lives (see in Acts 16:15), and her concern for Paul and Silas show us how important it is not to be self-consumed. Let’s not forget who we are and how to serve others.

Then we must might learn what true success is all about.


May 16

Written by Bill Grandi on May 16th, 2023

Timing…its all about timing.

I’m continuing my thoughts from some ladies who spoke on Mother’s Day:

Lady #3 had to learn timing…God’s timing…always is best. His timing rules. I mean, let’s face it, you are promised a child and through the offspring you and your husband would father a nation, one that would spring up the likes of which you could never imagine.

So you wait. And you wait. You got tired of waiting so you decided to take matters into your own hands. You give Hagar, your servant, to your husband. A son is born whom you resent. His name is Ishmael. An innumerable nation is the result, but he is not the chosen one. This nation, which was to become the Arab nation, would become and always would be a thorn in the side of the truly chosen nation.

You wait so long you even laugh at God because you overhear angels telling your husband you will become parents.  At the age of 100 (Abraham) and 89 (you) Isaac is born. Your firstborn. The promise made to Abraham years ago (see Genesis 12) is now on its way to fulfillment. Isaac would marry Rebekah and they would have two sons-Jacob and Esau. Jacob and Esau would go their separate ways with Jacob receiving the blessing from Isaac intended (human viewpoint) for Esau. Jacob would marry Leah and Rachel and father 12 sons (12 tribes of Israel) and it is off to the races.

Did Sarai (Sarah) know what it all meant? No. Did she always trust? (Can you say laughing at God and Ishmael?) Again, no. But it wasn’t her timing that was important; it was God’s. When it was physically impossible to have children, God showed her who was in charge.  He always has perfect timing. The heartache (and headache) caused by Sarah’s timing is proof positive that God always knows best.

Trust Him. Trust His timing. Romans 8:28-29 is still true.


May 15

Written by Bill Grandi on May 15th, 2023

I asked several ladies (about 17) who they saw as a triumphant woman in the Bible. I then asked them to be involved in the Mother’s Day special this past Sunday. Seven agreed. My devotions over the next several days will be the ones they chose.

May 11- Lady #1- Mary of Bethany

Lady #2- Tamar- Story found in Genesis 38

Judah had 3 sons-Er, Onan, and Shelah.  He found a wife for Er named Tamar. But Er was wicked and the Lord put him to death (we are not told what his wickedness was). By custom, Onan was to marry Tamar.  He knew the offspring would not be his so he spilled his seed on the ground (v.9). That was wicked and he also was put to death. That left Shelah to eventually marry Tamar. Judah convinced Tamar to wait, but Judah held back until finally Tamar figured “enough is enough.”

After Judah’s wife died, he was going to visit friends and Tamar heard about it. She dressed disguised herself and enticed him. She bargained for his ring, his cord and his staff as proof he would keep his word on bringing her a goat as payment for her services. Tamar conceived, and when Judah was told, he was going to have her burned to death. He changed his tune when she sent the ring, the cord, and the staff as proof of who the father was.  She eventually had twins-Perez and Zerah. Perez is listed in the lineage of Jesus.

What an interesting story on so many angles! So unpredictable. Right smack dab in the middle of Joseph’s story. In chapter 38 it was Judah’s recommendation that they sell Joseph into slavery instead of just killing him. You know…out of sight out of mind. And why not make a little profit while we are at it? Judah was not an upstanding man. But his life was changed after this encounter with Tamar.

Sometimes unexpected events change us. Good and bad. Sometimes our lives are never the same. Nothing is ever wasted in God’s classroom. I’m reminded of Romans 8:28. I’m also reminded of James 1:2-4: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Let’s learn from every experience that God moves in ways we don’t often expect.



May 11

Written by Bill Grandi on May 11th, 2023

Mother’s Day is this Sunday (just in case you were born yesterday or under a rock). As part of that celebration, I made last year different. I decided to do the same this year. Rather than me stand before the people and say something about how godly women should be or do (as if I’m an expert), I thought I’d let women do that. There will be three ladies in the first service and four in the second talking about a woman in the Bible whom they admire. Common vernacular: their heroine. Lydia. Tamar (Judah’s Tamar). Hannah. Mary the mother of Jesus. Sarah. Mary of Bethany. Deborah.

Each one is unique. Last year Esther was the most common name used by the ladies. This year there are no repeats. My plan for next week’s devotions here at “Shadow” is to take a look at each one of the ladies mentioned.

I’m starting it today, though, with Mary of Bethany. I chose her to start with because we can all relate. Mary, and her sister, Martha, hosted Jesus and His disciples in their home.  (Lazarus, the one Jesus raised from the dead was their brother). While Martha busied herself with preparations, Mary sat at the feet of Jesus listening and learning. When Martha complained to Jesus about what I will call a lack of “hoster’s responsibilities” i.e. not helping, Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are distracted by many things, but Mary has chosen the better  thing.” (My paraphrase). You can read the real exchange in Luke 10:38-42.

Translation: Martha was so busy with “stuff” that she lost sight of what was truly important.

How often does that happen in your life? Busyness takes over and you lose sight of what is “the better thing.” Your time with God is almost non-existent. Your time with family and friends is a strain. You have neighbors you haven’t seen in months, maybe years. You have lost touch with those who were once your “go to” people.

We are Martha’s. We need to be Mary’s. We need to stop and be present. Hard to do? Probably. But worth it? You bet. Your kids will thank you. Your family with thank you. Your friends will thank you. Your body will thank you. Your heart, soul and spirit will thank you.

Are you ready to be a Mary?


May 10

Written by Bill Grandi on May 10th, 2023

“Game Night!” There is a lady and family in the church I pastor who love to play games. They will get together on a pretty regular basis just to play games. Exotic games. Me? I’m more into Backgammon, but I also know people who are into long games of Monopoly or Risk, or other games. They will play for hours!

There is actually a common game we all play. I wish it was new. I wish I had thought it up and marketed it. Every time it is used I would get a “piece” of the action. I would have made millions. We all play it and often without giving it a second thought.


I read of a city employee in Lodi, CA who sued the city to the tune of $3600 because he backed a dump truck into his personal vehicle. This 51 year old man argued “the city’s vehicle damaged my private vehicle.”  I’d say he not only has a screw or two loose, but I’d even go out on a limb and say he was looking for a new job!

Whatever happened to taking responsibility? I had three brothers and when something would happen mom would get us all together and ask which one of us did it. “Not me” was all she got. Then she had this uncanny ability to discern which one of my brothers did it and say, “Okay Rob/Garry/Curt (notice who’s name is missing?) 🙂 , why did you do it? We were good at blaming; not good at lying and taking responsibility.

The Blame Game is not new. It started in the Garden with Adam and Eve. After their sin and God confronted them, they blamed another. “It was the woman you gave me.” “The serpent deceived me.” From the very moment sin entered the world, blame came with it.

We are good at it. Let’s be honest. It is so much easier blaming someone else for our mess up, than to take responsibility. Here is a challenge: take note of how often in a day you hear or use the Blame Game.

Let’s stop playing this game. Let’s start playing the “I Did It” game or the “Point my Finger at Myself and Take the Blame” game.


May 9

Written by Bill Grandi on May 9th, 2023

I think one of the most common questions asked by both those who believe and those who don’t is, “Why me?” It is likely most, if not all of us, have asked that at one time or another in our life.

“Taking it on the chin” is not easy. Suffering is never easy. It gets worse as the suffering lingers. It gets worse when we see suffering as a punishment or as “God is getting even with me for something bad I have done.” The bottom drops out of our lives and we begin to wallow in self-pity, or worse, languish in despair. We begin to see no end to our pain, no end to the dead end road we are on, no end to the endless circle our life seems to be taking.

Do you mind if I take us in a different direction for a moment? Perhaps instead of asking, “Why me?” we should start asking, “What now?” I heard Joni, a quad since her teen years, express it that way. Instead of languishing in pity, maybe a more productive question would be, “Now that this has happened to me, how should I react?” Maybe a better response would be to ask ourselves how we should react to this trial, this suffering, this test I am going through?

Here’s an example I recently read: In 1953, a fledgling business called Rocket Chemical Company and its staff of three set out to create a line of rust-prevention solvents and de-greasers for use in the aerospace industry. The original secret for WD-40-which stands for Water Displacement 40th attempt-is still in use today. Its most recent net worth was 1.3 billion.

Let’s ask an obvious question: what if they had stopped at #39 and gave up in defeat? What is Joshua and the children of Israel had stopped at Day 6 or even Day 7 walk-around #6? They would have missed #7 and the opportunity to watch the walls of Jericho fall.

We are told in Isaiah 40 that those who wait/hope in the Lord will renew their strength. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Don’t wallow in pity. Use this as an opportunity to grow.


May 8

Written by Bill Grandi on May 8th, 2023

Common in many news cycles is the passing along of what are called conspiracy theories. The past several elections (and I’m sure future ones) have been filled with them. They are on both sides of the aisle-R or D; conservative or liberal; cultish or mainstream; religious or non-religious.

Conspiracy theories are nothing new though. In the days of Jesus, one that was passed along by those who wanted to downplay or deny the resurrection was that the disciples had stolen the body (Check out Matthew 28:11-15). The religious leaders bribed the Roman guards to spread the rumor, i.e. conspiracy theory, the disciples has stolen the body. They even said they would straighten it out with the authorities.

Theories about the resurrection abound. The wrong tomb theory (the ladies went to the wrong tomb). The swoon theory (Jesus didn’t really die on the cross; He just passed out.  He then revived in the cold, dark tomb, mustered enough strength to roll the stone away, overpower the guards and walk away).  Wrong person theory (someone took His place on the cross and was mistaken for Jesus). Tell me: how ridiculous do those all sound? The conspiracies go on and on-ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

Unfounded “truths.” Gossip. Slander. Lies. Mean-spirited words. All are part of a subversive element that should not be, but is, in the church. Relationships and friendships cannot survive with that kind of garbage being present in individual lives, and especially in a church.

Let’s stick to the facts, the truth. Let’s not pay one bit of attention to political conspiracy theories. And certainly not give any credence to conspiracy theories that make their way into the church. THEY AIN’T WORTH IT!  Let’s leave the conspiracy theories where they belong…in the trash.