Loneliness

Written by cycleguy on December 1st, 2016

godsgiftofchristmas

That word…loneliness…seems to be so empty. Drafty. Lifeless.

For many, Christmas is one of the loneliest times of the year. They feel like they are home alone. When the movie Home Alone first came out, I was not a fan. It just didn’t turn my crank, so for years I never watched it. One day, I think we were at a friend’s house, and they wanted to watch it. I found myself chuckling then laughing at the gags. It was almost like watching the old 3 Stooges, only updated with modern antics.  The story centers around a young boy who is left behind when his family heads for vacation and his attempt to keep the thieves away from the house. What ensues is an adventure in comedy that keeps you laughing.

What isn’t funny is how many live lives of quiet desperation in today’s media saturated world. Busy but alone. Surrounded but isolated.

That is what is so good about the name Emmanuel (God with us!). Not only is it a beautiful name for God’s Son, it also explains one of the great reasons for Christmas in the first place.

There is more. Guess you will have to come Sunday to hear it. But just in case you can’t, I will give you this preview:

  • The glory of Christmas means we are far more precious to God than we could ever imagine.
  • the glory of Christmas means there is far more to celebrate then we thought.
  • The glory of Christmas means we will never be alone

Those alone give us reason to celebrate Christmas. I hope you are not one who spends time alone. Find friends. Find others who are alone and get together for a Christmas dinner. Go visit a nursing home.  You will find others just like you-dreading the holiday because of some memory. You can have a mutual “pulling-out-of-the-doldrums” party.

Until then, I’d like to ask you to pray.

 

 

Reason

Written by cycleguy on November 27th, 2016

Daniel Hamlin and his family are five of the neatest people you will ever meet. They came to OVCF just a tad over a year ago in a search for something different than what he/they had grown up in. They were also concerned for their three children (one a teen and another real close and an adorable young girl). So he actually first heard of OVCF from living in the community about all his life, but when Daniel started searching with earnest his father told him about us. Daniel checked out the church website and then a few podcasts. Something resonated in him and a “chance” encounter with him at a local restaurant (we were supposed to eat somewhere else) led to him coming to OVCF. They have not left (that’s a good thing…a very good thing). He is a fine young man who wants to seek God with all his heart and wants to lead his family that way also. The following is what he posted on FB after helping with the Thanksgiving Dinner the church puts on annually.

Today, our church provided Thanksgiving meals to the community.  At one point my family was tasked with delivering 5 meals to a local low-income motel.  As we stepped out of the car I realized that we were probably not relatable to those who were receiving the food.  I had grabbed my LL Bean jacket, the boys were wearing Nike shoes and shorts (yes, shorts in November), we were a clean cut family.  One lady asked us to come in to her apartment.  After passing through the blanket that draped the door we enter her cluttered, dark apartment.  She had no kitchen table and had an aged container of Ramen noodles sitting on the stove.  We delivered her the prepared meal and she became emotional, expressing thanks for the food.  Amy asked her if she had any Christmas needs and she responded that she would like prayer for her son who suffers from scoliosis.

As I reflect back on this, it brings new appreciation for the Incarnation.  Just as I felt that our appearance would make us not relatable to those we were serving, if Jesus had come to earth in all of his power and glory we would not be able to relate to him.  Instead, he came to earth as a baby, grew up as a man, was tested, tempted, beaten, suffered loss and eventually killed.  I’m thankful that because of God’s grace and his love for us, Christ made himself relatable by becoming human.

And that, my friends, is the reason for the season.

I would say Daniel has it right. Not only that…do you see any doubt he will be able to lead his family well? I don’t.

 

Thanks

Written by cycleguy on November 23rd, 2016

As I write this it is a rainy Wednesday. The day before the world in general (with a few exceptions) will focus on Thanksgiving. True, some find football a whole lot more fun, but not this boy. My Thanksgiving Day will consist of the following:

The church serving our community a lunch from 11-1:00 at the local Lion’s Club (their building is in town and the church building is not). We will also deliver a whole bunch of meals.

I have two traditions that I have done for years. I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Santa Clause” sometime Thursday. Well, our local theater is going to show “IaWL” on Sunday for free so I will go to that. So Jo and I plan to watch “White Christmas,” one of my other staple movies during the holidays.

I’m guessing a nap might be in there somewhere.

I will take some time to be thankful. My recent car/bicycle accident has me a bit more reminiscent than normal. To be aware that only 2″ separated me from either permanent damage (paralysis) or even death, tends to wake up even the sleepiest soul. I’m not going to rehash the scene. You can read it here and here.  Unfortunately, even though my memory wants to erase the event and forgive the perpetrator, my body keeps reminding me of it. On Monday I go to a general surgeon who will take a look at the giant hematoma on my left hip where he used me for a bumper car. I had to go to Urgent Care last week, and when nothing happened and things got worse with the rest of my leg, I went to my family doctor Tuesday. The surgeon will decide if it is be drained (can you say knock me out?) or let it go. It will be 3 weeks to the day that it happened. Not a day goes by that I don’t remember because my body reminds me.

However, I am also impressed by God’s amazing design and how it heals. The bruising is lessening (it has moved from my hip to my thigh/hamstring, to my knee, to my calf and now to my foot. The painfully sore bruised shoulder muscles (inside) have healed enough to start lifting weights again. I have yet to be back on my bike. Not because I’m afraid but because of the discomfort of this hematoma.

I’m thankful I’m alive. I’m thankful I have a family who was concerned. I’m thankful for a marvelous church family who showed me in spades how much they love me. It has been my pleasure to love them for 11 years. In less than a week they showed me what I meant to them. *Tears on cheeks right now* I am thankful for you, my online family, who have said you would pray for me. I believe you did. I still pray for the one who did it. Not for vengeance but so I can forgive them.

This has gone longer than any post I have written in the past 4 or 5 years so it is time to shut it down. 🙂  Thanks for listening. Thanks for your prayers. Be truly thankful this year.

 

Worth

Written by cycleguy on November 17th, 2016

captured

A lot of people talk about worshiping God but really have no clue what exactly it is. Too much of what is called worship is actually self-worship. We sing songs that do not elevate the Father but ourselves. Proclaiming God’s worth, lifting Him up for adoration, is the goal of worship. Worship is not about us feeling good. It is not about “this is what I want” unless it is craving the presence of God so you can adore Him.

I’m presenting the following thoughts from Isaiah 58 this Sunday:

  1. Let worship not be about you. [Verse 3]. We cannot have everything we want. God is not a hobby- Someone we run to when we want to waste a little time or when things get really bad.
  2. Let worship be with an attitude of peace. [Verse 4]. The Israelites were fasting but were fighting while doing it. Some of the nastiest fights are not on a foreign battlefield but in the church parking lot.
  3. Let worship be more than a surface act. [Verse 5]. Anyone can raise their hands, shed tears, sing and look sincere. But God is not concerned with externals. Worship must be from the heart.
  4. Let worship be all about freedom. [Verse 6-7]. Freedom from chains of the past. Freedom from chains of the present. Freedom from chains of the future. Freedom from legalism. Freedom from bondage.
  5. Let worship be focused on Christ. God made us so we would reflect His glory back to Him. His purpose for our life is not to make us happy; it is to display Him.
  6. Let worship bring results. [Verse 8]. We were never meant to go through worship and not be changed. A person who says, “I didn’t get anything out of that today” is saying as much about their heart as they are the worship event.

I would appreciate your prayers as I try to bring some clarity to this idea of God’s worth. Thanks.

 

Update

Written by cycleguy on November 15th, 2016

My presence on my blog and anyone else’s for that matter is not disinterest…trust me. I have taken the time to read other blogs but not comment. There is a reason.

Just read this post.

I thought I would give an update on my status with a comment from my sermon. It is still surreal at times when I allow myself to think about it, how close I came to having a total life change. I’ve calculated that change to be about 2-3″ in length. His mirror hit me on my left butt cheek (sorry if that offends you) and spun me up and then down. The injuries were bad enough to give me a huge hematoma on my left hip and blacken my whole left leg and thigh down to my knee and cause swelling to my foot. (I have pictures!  🙂 )  The reality I have faced it this: 2-3″ to the right and I am either paralyzed or dead.  So, I tell people I am bruised and sore but alive. I took one day away from work and God has given me the strength to get through the rest of my tasks: office work; a wedding rehearsal/event; preaching twice; attending White Christmas, a musical we had bought tickets for in the summer at the IU Auditorium with some friends; and continuing this week with all my work and another wedding coming this weekend.

I still believe God’s hand was on me. Some have asked about that. Sunday, I said this: “God’s love is not a pampering love; it is a perfecting love.” God doesn’t get up every day asking, “How can I make Bill happy today?” I didn’t do that with my children; He doesn’t do that with His. I do believe His is a transforming love. I will not always understand the “why” of an event. That really is not my place anyway. According to Romans 8:29 His purpose is “to conform me to the image of His Son.” No matter what that takes…that is what I long for. This, as I see it, is just one more step in my adventure through life.

So there’s the update. Please understand that I am reading but have very little time to comment. But I do thank you from the bottom of my heart for your words of encouragement and prayer. I’m not ignoring anyone. it is where I find myself right now. 

 

Sovereignty

Written by cycleguy on November 10th, 2016

captured

Before I talk about the idea of Sovereignty, I wanted to take a moment or two and do two things: give an update and also a huge thanks.

Thanks so much for your thoughts and especially your prayers concerning my accident. Tuesday and Wednesday were rough days as my body bruised and ached all over. But today (Thursday) is a new day and I woke up excited because I was alive but I hurt less today than previously. The bruising has spread. I look like one of the My Little Pony toys with my purple hip/leg. All I need now is fuzzy hair and a horn in the middle of my forehead.But seriously thanks for praying.

My sermon Sunday is on Sovereignty from Isaiah 45. Some people shy away from that topic. Some stare at you like you are a two-headed monster. Others glaze over. And some are “right there” with you. They like the challenge of trying to delve deeper into that mystery.

There are still others who question God’s sovereignty based on events which happen: the school shooting of the Amish children; Sandy Hook; the devastating tsunami of 2004; earthquakes and other natural disasters. They leave unanswered questions…questions which will remain unanswered because of our limited ability to comprehend the infinite.

This topic is a deep one, one which certainly will not be answered in one sitting. As always I’d appreciate your prayers for me and for the folks who are here…so all may have clarity.

 

 

LIFE

Written by cycleguy on November 8th, 2016

I had planned on giving you an update of our Day of Service but LIFE has a way of throwing Clayton Kershaw curve balls at you. Yesterday (Monday) I was riding my bike about 2:30 in the afternoon. I had gotten a late start due to thngs at the office. I was a little over 4 miles away from the church building (where I keep my bike) when out of nowhere a speeding early model Ford Escape-like SUV decided to use me as a bumper car. It is so surreal-terrifying; anger for being hit and left; not sure what or if anything is broken; searching for your phone to take a picture then call 911; to watching a hematoma blow up to ungodly proportions on your hip; to spending 6 hours in an ER waiting for X-rays ; to being so sore & knowing tomorrow is going to hurt worse; to gratitude for friends close by & those far away (people you don’t even know) telling your daughters they are praying for their dad; to unlimited thanks to a good, good Father it was not worse-all go through my mind even as I write this.

I am grateful for the outpouring of support I have received. This is one of a cyclist’s worst nightmare (paralysis being the worst) and tears roll down my cheeks as I write this out of gratitude for God’s grace & protection. I do hope they find the perpetrator-not for the purpose of revenge or medical bills help-but so he/she will NEVER do this again. People who leave scenes like this are cowards of the highest order. Did they do it on purpose? Did they hit me then realize it and run? Were they texting or playing with their phone or looking down? Did they realize what they did & run? Are they even aware of what they did? Questions which will probably go unanswered.

I may never know the answers to those questions. It bugs me but I am more concerned now with fellow cyclists who face the same cowardice & recklessness.

In the end, I’d appreciate your prayers for a full & complete recovery. Share the road folks. Cyclists have as much right to be on it as cars do. Stay alert while driving.

 

Awesome!!

Written by cycleguy on November 3rd, 2016

captured

A couple of years ago our grandson, Braden, was visiting with us when The Lego Movie made its debut. Trust me when I say him being here was the only reason I would go. The theme song was heard over and over and over..ad infinitum, ad nauseum in the movie and the radio: “Everything is Awesome!” Other than the fact I sat through the movie with him and found it a tad bit better than I thought it would be (if you were a child), that song was absolutely annoying. On several fronts actually. First, it is annoying because it was played soooooo much and I could hear kids singing it. Second, and this is the real kicker, it simply is not true.

While I am not a scrooge and understand a childhood song more than I care to admit, everything is not awesome. Seriously? Everything is awesome? Do I really need to go into things which are not?

So here is my thinking: Everything is not awesome; God is. My problem, I think, comes from the fact we have over-trivialized the word. “Mom, these cookies are awesome!” “Awesome sermon today, Bill!” (Really? You say that every week). Then we sing, “Our God is an awesome God,” and wonder why things fall flat.

My sermon this is week is Captured by God’s Awesomeness. I plan to spend time on the idea that God is truly the Awesome One.

 

Involvement

Written by cycleguy on October 30th, 2016

I interrupted my posts from last week to interject one about Sunday’s sermon.  I’d like to finish that series of posts with this one. For the purpose of review you can see the others:

Mission

Vision #1

Vision #2

#3: To be involved in our community.

It is easy-as a church and as individuals-to bury our head in the sand or to put our hands over our eyes and say, “It doesn’t happen here. If so, I don’t want to know.” The church needs to stop hiding behind its walls and stained glass windows (which we don’t have) and get involved. Change won’t happen unless we do. We will bemoan the fact “our town is going to hell in a hand-basket” but really have no right to say that unless or until we do something to stem the tide.

Speaking for OVCF, we have no desire to be one of those churches.

It used to be (and I’m ashamed to admit this) but my world was secluded to the church and church people I was called to shepherd. I did very little, and cared very little, for those outside the church walls. How ugly is that? Then I harped on the people to invite their friends and neighbors. I look back now and say, “Why? Why would I invite anyone to hear me?”

Everything changed when I moved here…gradually. I fell in love with the people of the church first, and by proxy, the town. But then I started making myself available in the community. I’m a member of the Chamber of Commerce board and other ventures. We have an annual Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas breakfast where we serve the community free. I’ve recently taken a deep interest in human trafficking and will be talking to a local judge who is spearheading the task force as to what we can do. Next Sunday, the 6th, OVCF will be partnering with two other churches in the community to do our Day or Service. The church building is a registered Safe Place venue.

I could tell you so much more. Huh, maybe I will in the next post. GET INVOLVED. DON’T HIDE BEHIND WALLS.

 

Holiness

Written by cycleguy on October 27th, 2016

captured

First, my thanks to my techgeek, Ryan, for the graphic. I most often give him ideas then he makes sense of my “dream ramblings.”

A new series of sermons start this coming Sunday. You can see the series is entitled

CAPTURED

The idea of the series is to focus on God and how He has captured us. First up: Captured by His Holiness. That word gives off a strange vibe to many people. It is probably because we get weird pictures in our head of what holiness is. Thinness. Hollow-eyed gauntness. Beards, sandals and long robes. No sex. No jokes. Fasting. Hours of prayer. Stained-glass windows.

But consider this:

Holiness is the everyday business of every Christian. It evidences itself in the decisions we make and the things we do, hour by hour, day by day. Chuck Colson

So…what about when we say God is Holy? Nothing is as breath-taking, fearsome, mind-blowing, bring-to-your-knees powerful as the holiness of God. That reality sure hit Isaiah like a ton of bricks. It drove him to his knees…I’d almost say out of desperation of what and who he was compared to What and Who God is!

I’ll be spending the next five weeks on Captured! I’m praying for life change…for all of us.