RockSteady

Written by cycleguy on August 25th, 2016

LifeAsAnAdventure2

I have spent the summer preaching on different psalms under the banner of “Life is an Adventure!” This Sunday is the last of the Psalms series. I tried to avoid many of the familiar ones for the simple reason of bringing something new to the table. I really wanted the people of OVCF to experience something new. I think I have accomplished that for the most part.

So I asked myself what Psalm could I close with that would be fairly (if not totally) new, but at the same time give some encouragement that would correspond with getting back into the school and work routine. As I was having my personal devotional time I read Psalm 112. As I read it I thought, “Man, there is some good stuff there!” Then the wheels started turning and I feel like I found a good way to end my study of Psalms.

I approached this passage with a question: “if this (name something specific) was taken away from me, what would I do?” Asked another way it would be this: “What is really important in my pursuit of a full life of adventure?”  This chapter begins with the challenge of making the right choice as to whom you will follow. Then it gives three characteristics of the man/woman who chooses to be a person who is rock solid.

If you have a few minutes, I’d like to ask you to pray for me and the folks who will be here Sunday. Thanks.

 

Seasons

Written by cycleguy on August 23rd, 2016

I started reading this book about a week or so ago but put it aside for this one. I have a bad habit of doing that sometimes but in this case I needed to. The Grace Effect is by the same man who wrote “Hitch” and it talks about his adopted daughter, Sasha, from Ukraine. Now that I have finished a puzzle for a teacher-friend who is teaching a whole unit on it, I can spend some time reading.  (Yeah…Jo says I get obsessed when I am working a puzzle. I don’t agree. Just because I did this one in less than 5 days does not prove she is right).

Anyway, back to When Trouble Comes (the book I put down). The author, Philip Ryken, says some things just in the Prologue which I know will draw me back to this book when I’m done with the other.

“Would you like to know some of the things that helped me? The first was this: I knew that what I was going through was totally and completely normal.” (p.15) 

Oftentimes when we are going through something, we feel alone. No one understands. No one else has experienced what I’m experiencing. Not true!

Here was a gem: All of this leads to seasons of doubt, discouragement, and depression as a normal part of life in a fallen world. When trouble comes, this does not mean that I am a bad Christian. Nor does it mean that God is against me, although sometimes it may feel that way. (p.16)

I have spent time recently with several people who are suffering in various ways. I try hard to show them they are not alone. They are not bad Christians. They are not being rejected by God for some sin in the past. God doesn’t hold grudges.

If you are going through a tough time right now, don’t give up. You are not alone. This is a season of growth (if you let it). Be encouraged by a loving Father.

I’m also going through a season of not having much time to write. I apologize for that. Hopefully this season will be over soon.

 

Masks

Written by cycleguy on August 18th, 2016

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The struggle to be real is just that…a struggle. We love our masks.
“How are you doing?” “Fine. (Not really. Life stinks.)”

A mask. We love to hide behind false facades we have erected. Whether it is in your church community, at home with your family, at work with your associates, at play with fellow men or women, it is so easy to hide.

Psalm 101 calls us on the carpet for being fake. It calls us to be real. That “realness” speaks to both ourselves as individuals and also to our commitment to others.

I know I fake things. I’m looking in the mirror at this. There are times I don’t want to be nice to people. I don’t want to smile. I don’t want to care and “love on them.” Psalm 101 pokes a hole-no make that blasts a crater-through the whole facade of “fakeness.”

Consistency. Integrity. Humility. Purity. Four key words I’ll be looking at this Sunday. I’d appreciate your prayers for Sunday.

 

Hitch

Written by cycleguy on August 14th, 2016

There are some posts a blogger feels somewhat intimidated writing. This is one of them. I don’t consider myself an intellectual by any stretch of the imagination. But I recently read a book which was not only a stimulating and captivating read, it stretched me some.

Product Details

The book is subtitled The Restless Soul of the World’s Most Notorious Atheist. Very few books do what this one did: have me wanting to keep reading even though I had things to do. Larry Alex Taunton has done a superb job of bringing to light the many different thoughts of “Hitch” as he was known.

Don’t read this book looking for a powerful conversion experience. Don’t read this book by going to the end of it to see if there was a death-bed confession. I wish there was. Instead, read this book to see what made “Hitch” tick and how a friendship with Mr. Taunton (his exact opposite in almost every area) developed into a mutual admiration and give-and-take relationship.

You will read of Hitch’s obstinance. You will read of his “earthy” life, his disregard for his body and health. You will read of his selfishness. You will also read of the two road trips Hitch and Larry took where they studied the Gospel of John and where Hitch made some phenomenal comments. You will read how Hitch had “two books”: a public book and a private book. The public: the one people saw on stage and in his writing. The private: the one which seriously questioned his atheism (but couldn’t pull the trigger due to his pride). You will read of his views toward some of his colleagues (know as “The Four Horsemen”). You will also read what Hitch thought of the religious hucksters -both those he saw on TV and those who tried to use him as a notch on their belt trying to convert him. You will also see a man whose esophageal cancer took him down, but not without a fight. You will see how he respected men who believed what they said (like Larry). You will also read a very probing final chapter where Larry considers Hitch’s final days.

This is not a “deep” book. But it is one I learned from. It is also one I recommend to anyone who thinks they know it all. I give this book 5 stars.

 

Confidence

Written by cycleguy on August 11th, 2016

LifeAsAnAdventure2

A lot of people misunderstand confidence because sometimes it can be seen either as arrogance/cockiness/something similar to that or it can be seen/used as a cover-up for feelings of inferiority.

I’d like you to consider it another way: as the opposite of fear.

I could regale you with quotes on “fear” like…

  • “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” (FDR).
  • “Nothing is terrible except fear.” Henry David Thoreau
  • “There is only thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” Paul Coelho

There are more. One source I used listed over 3000 quotes.

Fear-and its corresponding panic-is a very real stumblingblock for many followers of Christ. Sometimes fear gets so great it paralyzes us from even doing our daily tasks. David was not excluded from feeling fear, but he also knew where to find the help and strength to deal with that fear.

This Sunday’s message is from Psalm 27.  I don’t want to say much here but do you see an excellent truth we need to remember? It does not say, “He gives light” or “He provides strength.” David writes, “He is my light” and “He is my salvation.” (Some translations use “strength”)

I’ll give you this for the weekend: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10.

Thanks for your prayers this weekend. I’m praying for chains of fear to  be broken.

 

Discrepancies?

Written by cycleguy on August 9th, 2016

Sunday I spoke from Psalm 13. If you would indulge me I’d like to share some of my thoughts with you. But first, please read verses 1-2 and then jump down to verses 5-6 and read them.  The following is the study I led the folks through:

  1. In verse 2b David says his enemies were triumphing (exalting) over him. At the same time in verse 5b he rejoices in his salvation (God is delivering him). How do you explain that?
  2. In verse 2a David says he wrestled with many thoughts and had sorrow in his heart every day. But in verse 6a David said he sang with joy at the same time. How do you explain that?
  3. David says in verse 1 that God hid His face from him, and yet at the same time in verse 6b, David says God was good to him (dealt bountifully with him).  How do you explain that?
  4. If God truly forgot David as he says in verse 1a, then how did God at the same time truly love David with a steadfast love? How do you explain that?

Looks like a serious series of discrepancies doesn’t it? I think the answer is found in the differences between David’s feelings and David’s beliefs. David felt like God has forgotten him, while at the same time he really believed God’s love for him was unceasing.

Question: How often have you/I allowed our feelings to dictate how we act? We have allowed our feelings to beat us up, to carry us places we don’t need to go. Truth: when our feelings are stronger than our beliefs we will find ourselves blown away by circumstances and events out of our control.

Always remember this: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22 We need to remember who God is. His character never changes.

I am indebted to Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur for some of these thoughts and the insight to “stir” my brain.

 

 

Review

Written by cycleguy on August 8th, 2016

Slavery is an ugly thing. The Civil War is an ugly thing (not glamorous at all). The KKK might be ugliest of it all.

This movie is not just about slavery. Friday night, Jo and I went to our local theater to watch Free State of Jones. I had seen a trailer of it and thought it looked interesting. She saw the trailer recently and thought she would also like to see it. So we had a “date.”

The movie is based on a true story-the story of Newton Knight, a deserter from the Confederate Army. Hunted by local law “enforcement” people, he is taken to the swamp where he finds a “home” and others like him, mostly black slaves running for their freedom. Eventually that small motley crew becomes a commune of like-minded people (fellow deserters, runaway slaves and women) who for one reason or another are disenchanted with the Confederate army. They declare Jones County (and several others) as a free state.

The movie was long (about 2hr, 19 min) but it moved quickly. While there was some violence & gore (mostly at the beginning due to a battle scene and hospital…think Dances with Wolves) and occasional rough language (but not as much as you might expect), we liked the movie. I had a little trouble at first understanding some of the dialogue but it got better. (I like to watch DVDs with closed captions). Be prepared for the ugly part of the KKK. That is a major blight on our country’s radar for sure.

This is not a feel-good movie. It finds its basis in historical fact. IMHO Matthew McConaughey does a superb job as do his supporting actors. Know the limitations (Rated R for gore, some violence, women shooting guns, ugliness of slavery, the “N” word is used profusely as it was back then) and if you can handle them, then go see it (or wait until it comes out on DVD). Many of the professional critics panned it, but then again, what do they know? 🙂

 

Waiting

Written by cycleguy on August 6th, 2016

LifeAsAnAdventure2

Waiting. One of our my most favorite things to do. I love waiting in a WM line when the line is back into the store and only three cashiers are open. I used to love waiting in line at an amusement park. I love waiting at a seemingly never-ending red traffic light. {Please notice the sarcasm}.

Why is waiting to hard to put up with? Maybe more to the point: why is waiting on God to “come through” so hard. By “come through” I mean answer a prayer or change a situation or (fill in the blank).

Psalm 13 is a psalm of waiting. David lived as a fugitive for 8-9 years running from Saul even though he was a national hero. “Saul has killed his thousands but David his tens of thousands” they used to chant.

Dr. David Jeremiah had cancer. It was painful and drawn out. He wrote a book called When Your World Falls Apart where he gave 3 reasons why waiting is so hard. Here they are:

When God delays, we feel forgotten. [Psalm 13:1a]

When God delays, we feel forsaken. [13: 1b] Being forgotten is one thing; being forsaken is another.

When God delays, we feel frustrated. [13:2]  David is frustrated by his own emotions and he is frustrated because of his enemy. [2b]

I usually ask you to pray for me as I preach, but life happened and I got to this late. So I’ll just pass on some of what I shared with the folks Sunday morning. And if you get this before that, then by all means pray. Thanks. 🙂

 

 

Musings

Written by cycleguy on August 3rd, 2016

I’ve had this post ruminating around in my empty head all day. I had an impromptu staff meeting. A surprise counseling session. An Owen County Chamber meeting. Some errands and a much-needed 18 mile ride (although I slogged through it so go figure). I finally have a chance to sit down and type.

I read this statement this morning in my Psalm devotional book:

Never measure God’s unlimited power by your limited expectations.

Then I read the story of Joshua and the Israelites as they carried out their mandate from God about taking the land (Joshua 10). They came to the aid of the Gibeonites (who had deceived Joshua & the leaders but with whom Joshua had made a covenant) first. Then they continued taking the land God had given them. To their eyes it looked impossible. They had limited resources.

What Joshua, his leaders, and the Israelites had to ask themselves is this: will I trust God? I read the Crossway Men’s Devotional Bible on this passage and it asked this: Will I be a big God-er or a little god-er?

Here are my thoughts and you can take them for what they’re worth: If I limit God by my expectations, I have basically become a little god-er. If, however, I believe in God’s unlimited power, then I become a big God-er.

Those were my musings this morning…August 3.

 

Report

Written by cycleguy on July 31st, 2016

I thought I would bring you up to date with a report about how the week went for the group that went to New Orleans this past week. You can read about it here and here.

The week went well. Other than a few minor mishaps-someone twisting a knee playing volleyball, finding some red fire ants to be pesky, the inability to go to the Gulf due to an algae that can become a flesh-eating bacteria if your immune system is low, missing out on seeing where NCIS New Orleans is filmed due to construction-they had a fantastic time. After the hard and amazing work they all did, especially the young people who went along, they had about a day and a half of sightseeing.

Their major project was finishing a shed which another group had started. Mission accomplished. They worked even through the half day they were supposed to have in order to finish the project. Meanwhile, Jo and one of the young ladies applied their sign-making skills to doing a new sign for the front of the church building. They were in the lower 9th ward, a ward affected by a broken levee. Here it is 11 years later and they are still trying to make things happen. 2nd Rose of Sharon Missionary Baptist Church I salute you!

This Sunday many of them dragged themselves out of bed to make it for the end of our first service and then stayed for the second in order to give a short “this is what impacted me the most” contribution. They were all touched by a homeless man, William, who was a school teacher but had suffered a brain aneurysm, lost about 1/4 of his skull, was now homeless but “preached” to them about God’s goodness.

I like the way one put it: “I went expecting to bless others. Little did I know how much I would be blessed by so many people.”

They got home after midnight Saturday night and were tired puppies. But they all said they would do it again. Well done Ryan E, Ryan S, Josiah, Jo, Keegan, Aleah, MaryRose, Elizabeth and Donnie. May your life be impacted eternally (and may you have impacted others as well) with the selfless giving of your time and money to go and serve.