Written by cycleguy on October 17th, 2016
This coming Sunday we will celebrate our 12th anniversary as a church community. I shared the following this past Sunday. I realize many of you who read this are not part of OVCF, but there are some who do, some of whom were not here Sunday to hear this. So I thought I would include it here, especially for them.
“Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power. Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness.” Psalm 145:4,7
I want to ask you a personal favor. Would you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org a paragraph or two about a time when God has used the ministry of Owen Valley Christian Fellowship to bless or help you? You might share about an individual who helped you, a conversation you had, a youth group event, mission trip, Bible Study, or a sermon. If you choose, you can ask to keep it anonymous. The best reflection we could have for our 12th Anniversary is our church family sharing stories of God’s wonderful goodness being lived out by His people through OVCF over the last 12 years.
The plan is to share some of your responses this Sunday, but also to share throughout the whole month of November about God’s goodness and our gratitude for His goodness. Your responses will also be an added bonus during our prayer time when we pray for the Educator, college student, etc. It will be a great way to say thanks.
Perhaps you are reading but are not a part of the OVCF family in Spencer. Why not do this for your church/pastor and let him know of your gratitude? Why not start here and tell me what you are thankful for?
Written by cycleguy on October 13th, 2016
Yeah…not that “L” word.
Many churches have their wings clipped. What I mean by that is many churches stop dreaming or they tell themselves “we can’t do that.” You have probably heard the old ditty about The 7 last words of the church: “We never did it that way before.”
The “L” word I’m speaking about this Sunday as I wrap up the series on the 7 churches of Revelation is
We have Instagram these days; this short letter is a Nastygram. Laodicea holds the distinction of being the only church of the seven in which Jesus has absolutely nothing good to say. And that negativity is centered around one major problem: Laodicea is inflicted with the “L” disease…it is lukewarm. Not cold. Not hot. Lukewarm. Like water left in a car. Like water in a water bottle after a long bike ride…long after the ice has melted.
The word used for cold in this passage is “icy cold.”
The word used for hot in this passage is “boiling hot.”
Laodicea was tepid. They would have known exactly what Jesus was talking about. They lived near two special sources of water. One was a pool of medicinal springs and the other was pure, cold water.
Laodicea was doing just enough to get by. You know…minimum requirement stuff for being “acceptably” Christian. The result was a spiritual farce. Just enough to ease the guilty conscience but certainly not enough to set the world on fire or to make a difference in lives.
I’m praying OVCF avoids that. I’m praying I avoid that. What about you?
Written by cycleguy on October 10th, 2016
I have arrived safe and sound from a weekend in Ohio. I wrote about it here. I had a fantastic time. My right arm is a little sore of throwing a football countless times to a never-tiring grandson whose imagination goes wild. He had us in stitches several times during the weekend. I hope and pray his imagination never goes on the fritz and dies.
I’m a little rushed knowing what is facing me the rest of the week. A C-section delivery, a lunch appointment with my my wife and daughter, a Day of Service meeting at 5:00 and a movie to make popcorn for as a “Master Popper” at 6:00. (Yeah I’ll be a bit late). Wednesday is another non-stop day even though the kids are on Fall Break. And, of course, I need to find time to ride or work out. You know…the important stuff. 🙂
When I got back home I had a birthday card waiting for me. He included a saying in it:
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. Henry Ford
While I may not agree it is the greatest thing in life, it is certainly a very important part of it. I turned 64 Sunday. I have no clue how long God has me living on this earth, but I don’t want to waste away. I don’t want to stop learning. I don’t want to stop reading. I don’t want to stop enjoying life (my adventure). This sums up my thoughts (a gift from my secretary):
That is timeless. What are you waiting for?
Written by cycleguy on October 6th, 2016
This weekend we are taking off for Ohio. It has been since this past July that we have seen our grandson, Braden. He was playing baseball at the time. He’s pretty good for a little guy (but I’m not the least bit prejudiced).
He is also playing football. Dynamite comes in small packages they say. I think he fits that bill. He has been playing for over a month now and my schedule (or is it his?) has not allowed us to see him play. It has been over 3 months since I have been out of the pulpit so a break is needed. Now…whether it is for the folks here or for me is probably up for grabs. 🙂 Anyway, we will be heading out Saturday and returning Monday sometime.
An added bonus: he plays Sunday, which also happens to be my 64th birthday. I told him the best present he can give me is to play hard, knock somebody on their tush, and win. Okay…so I didn’t say that “tush part.” But I would love to see them win! We also plan to eat out with them. Braden used to call it “Grandpa’s house.” Code name for Texas Roadhouse. I can taste that salmon already. 🙂
All that to say I will be out of commission until Tuesday at the earliest. I plan to take a pretty good media break as well. So I may read your posts but I seriously doubt you will know (aka I probably won’t comment). I’d appreciate your prayers for a safe trip for me, Jo & Tami, as well as for Ryan, who will be preaching his weekend on the church at Philadelphia.
Oh one more thing: a spitting image of his good-looking grandfather
See the resemblance? Other than being good-looking, I don’t either. Have a great and safe weekend!
Written by cycleguy on October 5th, 2016
There has been a lot said over the past couple of weeks in the blogs I read about needing a rest. Some are taking a hiatus from blogging. Some from their phone. Some from all media (not a bad idea actually). Some would like to take a hiatus from their job but find that sort of impossible to do. 🙂 You know…no work=no eat. Small things like that.
Monday afternoon Ryan, our youth pastor, and I took a hiatus. We got away for the afternoon. We prayed, We talked. We planned a sermon we are presenting together. We talked some more. It was a well-spent 5 hour hiatus.
Several things were captured in my brain:
- Hiring Ryan 3 years ago was absolutely the best thing we did. His heart and spirit are continually pursuing God. His love for the young people of the church is evident and they are responding to it. We are a great team (all three of us) and I love and love working with Ryan and Diana (our church secretary).
- Getting away was absolutely essential. I needed it. We needed it. Church life has been at breakneck speed and it is taking its toll on our time as staff. It was the first uninterrupted 4-5 hours we have had in a long time.
- I need a personal get away. I realize I am not as young as I used to be and can’t keep up the same pace I once did. But this is ridiculous. The “backburner” has become all too often the go-to for me. I have 4 books on sex trafficking I need to read plus some others I need to review. That issue is front and center for me right now. No time=no reading. Bill is not a happy camper with that scenario. I do get to leave this Saturday for Ohio to watch my grandson play football but that will be go-go-go all weekend. He plays on Sunday…my 64th birthday. I told him has to play well and win for my present. 🙂
It is not good to stay “strung tightly.” I need to heed my own advice. Here are some pictures from the Retreat Center in Quincy, IN we went to. The second picture is Ryan with our friendly visitor who spent most of his time outside on the porch doing what most of us desperately need to do: taking a nap. 🙂
Written by cycleguy on October 2nd, 2016
One of my wife’s favorite movie quotes is
They’re dead. They’re all dead.
Can you name that movie? A virtual high five and shout out will go your way if you can. I’ll give the answer in my next post.
So…this is a follow-up to the previous post about today’s sermon.
Sardis was a town that once had a high level of importance. Then an earthquake brought it to its knees and it never regained that same level again. Not that they didn’t want to. But living on past laurels is certainly not a way to get it done.
Sort of like many churches who live on past laurels and shine the reflected light of a brilliant past. But it is just an illusion. Jesus put it bluntly: “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” With that thought in mind, I asked the folks a question: “When is a church dead?” Here are the four thoughts I shared. See if you can relate. And even better: can you add any?
- A church is dead when it is content to rest on its past laurels. A level of distinction in the past can often lead to a state of death in the future.
- A church is dead when it is more concerned with form than spiritual reality. We can’t go too long in the worship singing or the preaching because we want to beat the other churches to lunch.
- A church is dead when it focuses more on social ills and politics than changing peoples’ hearts and lives through the preaching and life-giving message of Jesus. I’m not saying to neglect social ills (I am getting involved in investigating and hopefully stopping the sex trafficking in Owen County; the church reaches out to the less fortunate). No politics will ever be preached from the pulpit. NONE.
- A church is dead when it is more concerned with material things than spiritual things. No commentary is needed.
So…what do you think? Any I need to add? Where would you put your church? Just curious.
Written by cycleguy on September 29th, 2016
The church was desperate. Years of decline has taken a painful toll. “What we need, ” they said, “is a dynamic new pastor.”
A blue-ribbon search team did everything right to find the perfect leader. Young but experienced, serious but witty, articulate but not intimidating, spiritual but worldly-wise. Now it was time for him to preach the congregation.
When he addressed the congregation, he gave an inspiring description of his qualifications, experience, vision, and plans. His final line summer up his stirring presentation: “With God’s help, I intend to lead this church forward into the 20th century!”
Surprised and a bit embarrassed by his apparent mistake, the chairman of the search team whispered loudly, “You mean the 21st century!”
To which the candidate replied, “We’re going to take this one century at a time!”
OUCH! That’s gotta hurt.
The church at Sardis was on its deathbed. Like many in a similar boat, its best days were behind it. To be honest everything looked good. The reputation was good. They had a name of being alive, but they were dead. They were finding out in this letter they could not fool the ONE who really mattered and saw right through them.
This letter is their last chance. He is offering them an opportunity for a deathbed confession. I hope and pray OVCF never gets to that place. If it does, and I’m still with them, shoot me. (Not really but it would be how I feel with this kind of news). I will be bringing all this and more to the table Sunday. I’d appreciate your prayers. Thanks.
Written by cycleguy on September 27th, 2016
One of my favorite quotes by Jim Elliot, the martyred missionary to the Auca Indians, is “Wherever you are be all there.” Lately I have had trouble being here. Shoot, I’ve had trouble being anywhere. It seems like I’ve been going a thousand different directions lately. Then I read this:
“When George Mallory was once asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, he famously answered, ‘Because it is there.’ But in a personal letter to his wife, Ruth, he revealed even more about what drove him to climb the mountain. ‘Dearest,’ he wrote, ‘…you must know that the spur to do my best is you and you again…I want more than anything to prove worthy of you.’ George left a meaningful legacy that proved worthy of history’s remembrance. But George’s son John wrote something that has challenged me. Proud of his father but sad too, John wrote, ‘I would so much rather have known my father than to have grown up in the shadow of a legend, a hero, as some people perceive him to be.'” (The Imperfect Pastor by Zack Eswine-p.78)
I’ve noticed (as I’m sure you have also) life goes in seasons. Busy. Not busy. Crazy busy. Not so busy. Steady. Lull. You get the point. Today is one of those crazy busy seasons. My mind has wandered. I stopped and got both Jo and me a Polar Pop (yeah I know it isn’t good for me) and almost made it to the office before I remembered I had her pop. Sheesh!
So this small section out of this excellent book stopped me dead in my tracks. As Tim Hawkins says in his video, “I need to be centered.” Watch him. He is a hoot.
I’m preaching to myself here. Maybe you too?
Written by cycleguy on September 25th, 2016
Several weeks ago I published a review of the book “Hitch” by Larry Alex Taunton. In that book he mentioned an encounter between Hitch and his internationally adopted (Ukraine) daughter, Sasha. After reading of that friendly encounter and Hitch’s reaction to her, I thought I wanted to read the book based on the adoption. The name of that book is The Grace Effect and this is my review.
I know several families who have adopted internationally. Several of you have done so. My brother has. Several from the church have. An acquaintance from the Y has just adopted 5 siblings from Bulgaria. (UGH!) Larry’s wife and their three sons all wanted to adopt Sasha after a mission trip where they fell in love with her. Until the point of adoption Larry had never met her. He was on board with it though and once he saw her there was never any doubt. Little did they know the hoops they would have to jump through to make it happen. Ukraine is a country from the old Soviet Union. It may say “Free” but old habits die hard. I cannot even begin to write down all they were put through-emotionally, physically, financially (and every other “ly”) in the year it took them to adopt her while in Ukraine!
It was an emotional roller-coaster for them. I have to admit it was for me as well just reading the book! This was far more than just reading a book about the horrors of international adoption. It was also a book about the false promises of socialism; the emptiness of communism; the soul-destroying influence of unbelief; and, in short, what the atheistic worldview would give us without Christianity-something cold, pitiless, and graceless.
I’m glad I read this book even though I really had no idea what to expect. It was eye-opening on so many fronts. I’d suggest you find this book and read it also. You will thank me for suggesting it.
Written by cycleguy on September 22nd, 2016
For anyone who knows me and may be reading this:
I. DO. NOT. HAVE. CANCER.
Well…at least I don’t think so. The medical procedure I had Tuesday told the doctor (so he thinks) that I do not have cancer in a certain area of my body. However, that is the thing about cancer:
YOU NEVER KNOW IF YOU HAVE IT OR NOT. Not really. You can have tests if you want, but most people don’t know they have it until after they exhibit some signs somehow.
A routine breast examination reveals a lump that takes your breath away.
A prostate exam reveals some irregularities which need to be addressed and it comes back positive.
A shortening of breath leads a 71 year old woman to the doctor where she is detected with a rare form of lung cancer that takes her to Jesus in less than 6 months. (My mom)
After being cancer-free for 15 years, you find out with shock it has returned with a vengeance and you fight it as hard as you can only to watch life slowly slip away. (My grandmother)
In many cases it is a shock to find out cancer is there. The church at Thyatira was like that. Despite all the good it was doing, there is a cancer invading its soul. This cancer is ripping the church apart and they don’t even know it!
Many churches look good and healthy on the outside. It is on the inside it is slowly disintegrating. Prayers for Sunday would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.