#Idolatry#Conviction

Written by cycleguy on January 28th, 2022

Sometimes being a follower of Christ is a real bummer.

I can see your eyes open wider and your mouth even more.  But let me finish my thought.

Sometimes being a follower of Christ is a real bummer, especially if you are or have been conditioned to thinking or even believing that “coming to Jesus makes all things right.” The health/wealth/prosperity teachers fall into this heresy.  It is obviously a false teaching to say that coming to Jesus alleviates problems. Or all you have to do is speak the name of Jesus and all the dark clouds disappear and you will have a Mr. Rogers world.

To counter that thinking I have another question, one many people ask: Why does God allow us to be tempted? Why doesn’t He just step in and take all the temptations away.”  I mean, life would be so much easier and “funner” if temptation was not an issue for the Christ-follower.  Perhaps a good way to answer that is by comparing the difference between a test and a temptation. The devil tempts us to destroy us; God tests us to develop our faith. When trials come false faith withers. The opposite is also true: when trials come real faith stands strong.

Every child who ever attended Sunday School learned the story of the three Hebrew young men: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Or Rack, Shack and Bennie if you are were a Veggie Tales fan. 🙂  Their faith was tested when they  were called on to worship a false idol.  The consequences of not doing so were horrific. Well…if you know the story you know what they chose to do.

This Sunday my sermon is on Daniel 3.  It is a 5th Sunday so if we meet in person the elementary kids will be with their parents. I thought they might appreciate this story more than the one of Nebuchadnezzar’s vision and subsequent 7 years living in the fields as an animal.  My sincere hope is that we will meet in person this Sunday after taking last Sunday to just be virtual.  If we do then we will be in person and live streaming at 9 and 10:45.  If not we will live stream at 10. I will let you know. THIS JUST IN: We are meeting in person so will live stream both services.

Thanks for your prayers.

One more thing: when you read this we will be in Ohio. Jo’s birthday is Sunday so I thought a great birthday present would be to take her to see Braden (and Janna, his mom).  We will be coming back home Saturday.

 

#SundayMusings#LiveVsStreaming

Written by cycleguy on January 23rd, 2022

Note: I wrote this today (Sunday) as I awaited the opportunity to preach knowing things would be greatly different. These are my musings.

As I sit here this Sunday morning, a mixture of emotions flow through me. Due to the state and county both being in the red (COVID-wise not politically), the decision was made to do live stream only this morning.  Add to the state and county statistics the fact that some of the church people are also testing positive or simply struggling with illness, it seemed the wisest thing to do.

Am I happy? I would be lying if I said I was.  But I also understand. As far as I’m concerned, someone getting vaxxed and boosted is a matter of personal choice and I will not take a side on that issue. It is not for me to impose my will or thoughts on someone, even though Jo and I have both been double vaxxed and boosted.  She will be 71 next Sunday and I am 69. Yeah…she robbed the cradle. 🙂

No, my issue is not even a health issue. My issue is how much I look forward to Sunday morning and seeing people. Sure, I do get to do what I possibly love more than just about anything-emphasis on “just about.” I know I’m a social creature and I really look forward to seeing people, laughing with them, hugging them, fist bumping them, and just all around greeting people.  I love seeing smiles and the joy of connecting with people I have grown to love. I love seeing new people and the fact we have some “mo” right now makes it a bit harder to take this break. But that is the way of life in 2022…and in 2021…and in 2021.  I just think there is great value in meeting together.

But thankfully, we have live stream-a vital second to our ministry. Where would we be without it? Given today’s scenario, we would have to cancel services or require (gasp) everyone wear a mask. I’m thankful for the live stream. I remember how we started in late 2020 with nothing more than an iPhone.  The live stream has really been a life saver.

My personal hope is that this will just be a one week glitch. If not, we will use whatever means we can to get the message of Jesus to others. I pray God will bless our efforts and I am going to take Him at His Word that His words will never return void.

 

#Nailed!#Pride

Written by cycleguy on January 21st, 2022

Perhaps you have heard the saying “Pride is the only disease known to man that makes everyone sick except the person who has it.” It is hard to argue with the simple truth of that statement.

I’d like to go on record as saying this: Nothing is every wasted. No plan or word of God’s is ever wasted. God is not a God of random acts. He is not a God of random, disconnected lessons.  So what is the purpose of Daniel 4 and Nebuchadnezzar’s vision? Repeat: lesson never wasted. He needed to learn a lesson about pride and God was going to teach it. But man, was it brutal! 

If you are following the series of Against the Grain you will notice that I am out of order. My original plan was to preach Daniel 3 this week (fiery furnace) and this sermon on the 30th. But the 5th Sunday is a Family Worship Sunday and the elementary kids will be in with us. So rather than do this and possibly scare some of the kids with the dreams Nebuchadnezzar had, I switched sermons.

Another development has come up as well. All of Indiana is in the RED so we are offering just live stream this week. Remember the change in time though: 10:00.

Thanks most of all for your prayers.

 

#Don’tPanic!

Written by cycleguy on January 14th, 2022

Man, because of his ego, ambitions, and idolatries, is often impressed by what he can build. For example, it is widely said that upon boarding Titanic one of the men was reported to have said, “Not even God could sink this ship.” Of course, it didn’t take God doing it; it only took an iceberg and some of men’s stupidity. The Twin Towers were often looked on as man’s view to prosperity and inventiveness and ingenuity. We all know what happened to them. It is easy to look at what we have and have a blind eye.  But when it happens to us or involves our family, we stand up and take notice.

When our back is against the wall, it is easy to panic. When it appears we are “on the ropes” with seemingly no way out, it is easy to panic.  Daniel and his three friends refused to panic.

This week we are going to be looking at what appeared to be a panic-situation.  Read Daniel 2 to find out what I am referring to. But Daniel refuses to panic. Instead, he trusts. My sermon is on Daniel 2 this week and I have titled it “Don’t Panic!” I would love to have you join me in person or live stream at 9 and 10:45. If not, please pray for us. 

LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE

 

#DrawtheLine#HoldtheLine

Written by cycleguy on January 7th, 2022

There are two tests in life: the test of adversity and the test of prosperity. The challenge for each is different. The challenge for adversity is not to give in to despair, not to doubt God’s love, power, and presence in our lives. The test of prosperity is to forget God, to not become self-sufficient and proud.  I don’t know about you but my life seems to be a constant battle between the two.

Case in point: the response to COVID. This crisis has left many limping (and I don’t mean physically).  We have watched as our culture has leaned more and more to being anti-God and anti-Christian.  We have to know where we stand!

We have to draw a line in the sand and say, “I will not cross this and neither will you.” Daniel is a book filled with line-drawing. And it is not about “daring to be a Daniel. ” This book is not about Daniel and his 3 Hebrew friends. It is about Daniel’s God, the very same God whom we worship and serve. God is the hero of the book.

Daniel 1 is the second in the series I have entitled Against the Grain.  (Esther 4:1-14 was the first).  It will be all about drawing lines and then holding them.  My sermon is titled Hold the Line! and you can see why as you read the first chapter. I do hope you join us in person. If not, please join us via live stream.

One last thing: one my most faithful blogging friends who comments on both of my blogs, has one of her own, and tunes into our worship ever week is named Martha Orlando. This past week she was admitted for bacterial pneumonia (not COVID-related) to the hospital in Georgia. Would you please pray for her? Thanks.

 

#AgainsttheGrain#Esther

Written by cycleguy on December 31st, 2021

“I am only one. But still I am one. I cannot do everything. But still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”  So said Edward Everett Hale.

We often hear about the power of ONE.  History is filled with one person who made a difference: Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Robert E. Lee (tearing down his statue will not change his contribution), Washington, Luther, Florence Nightingale, Amelia Earhart, and others.

We are living in uncertain times. Some say unprecedented. No matter what you call it they sure are challenging. Queen Esther did also. My theme for 2022, as you can see, is “For Such a Time…”  Why did I choose that theme? In fact, I chose that theme in October, before the last two months of upheaval. Why? Frankly, our culture is not unlike the one Esther lived in. Mordecai, her cousin, told her she must choose.

So must we. His challenge to her is one for us.  Take the time to read Chapter 4 of Esther and specifically focus on verse 14.  You will have my objective for this Sunday. I look forward to starting this new theme. Oh…by the way…the series which follows is from Daniel. I’m calling it Against the Grain.

I hope you will join us this Sunday. If not in person then live stream at 9 and 10:45.

 

#AfterChristmas#Letdown

Written by cycleguy on December 21st, 2021

The last Sunday of 2021. I know some who said, “I can’t wait until 2020 is over.” Now those same people are saying, “I can’t wait until 2022 is here. Surely it will be better.” Well…I certainly don’t have a crystal ball to predict any of what is to come so I will refrain from making any predictions.

Except one.

2022 will be different from 2021. It is a new year filled with all new challenges. 

Every new year which begins holds promises of something better for all of us. We like the idea of turning over a new leaf and starting with a clean slate. But to get to the new year we have to fight through what I will call the Christmas letdown.  You know what that is: the high then the low. A veritable roller coaster of emotions.

But the new year is not without its hopes and dreams. My sermon this Sunday is one in which I uncover for you what I believe is the dream of every individual: that we all just get along. Well, you know that isn’t going to happen so let’s go to Plan B. What will it take to even begin to think that might happen?  Two qualities (IMHO):

Unity

Humility

The foundation for the sermon is from Philippians 2: 1-11.  I hope you will join me this Sunday either in person or via live stream.  We will be having only one service this week at 10:00 so you can watch it live then or catch it later. I do pray that 2022 will be a good year for you to find a deeper walk with Jesus.

This is also the last of my theme for 2021: Life on the Edge. I will unveil my theme for 2022 next week with an all new graphic.  Be looking for it. I’m also posting this early due to Christmas being on Saturday and I suspect most of us will lay aside our computers for a day or two.  🙂

 

#Gifts!#Unexepcted??

Written by cycleguy on December 17th, 2021

Admit it: we all like gifts.  No matter our age we like to open gifts. They may be “just what I wanted” or “just what I asked for” but there is still a certain excitement wrapped up in Christmas gift-giving.

In 1984 the rock group, Foreigner, came out with a song that struck a chord in the lives of many people…and still does. It tells the story of so many in our world. That song? I Want to Know What Love Is. It was a moving ballad and spoke of the desire of all of us: to find love.

We tend to hang our hats on things which will not last. We think the latest and greatest will make us happy or content. Not so fast! If you have ever watched Titanic there is a scene near the end where Rose is talking about the fictional character, Cal Hockley, who tried to “possess” her. As she speaks about him, she tells the undersea explorers how Cal took his own life after the economic downturn took his money.  Happiness and joy are two different animals. The angel didn’t say, “I bring you good news of great happiness.”

You don’t have to have lived through the Revolutionary War or Civil War or the world wars or Vietnam or Desert Storm or (take your pick) to know the world has been inundated with wars. When I say, “Wars” I do mean wars.  The end of WWI coined the phrase as it “was the war to end all wars.” Wrong. Peace is a missing commodity in our world. Take a look back at the summer of 2020 (then again maybe you don’t want to) and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the unrest which rocked our world.

You have just opened your unexpected gifts- Love. Joy. Peace.  Those are the three unexpected gifts I will be preaching about this Sunday. It is those three gifts I highlight as gifts I hope they find underneath their tree this Christmas.

I would love to have you join me. As bribery we also have a special gift we are giving everyone this year.  Just kidding about the bribery. We do have a special gift I’m excited about giving to the folks. I’ll try to post a picture of it next week.  Please join me if you are able either in person or live stream.  BTW: if you join us live stream, may I ask you to please sign in just to let us know you are there? No obligation I promise.

 

#Singing!

Written by cycleguy on December 14th, 2021

I posted this on my other blog, Living in the Shadow, and since it is not well read by a lot of people, I thought I would share it here.

I have always been a music person. Ever since I can remember (that might be a day or two) 🙂  I have always been a person who listens to music. I used to tell my folks I could study with music playing. Not true.  I have to admit that when I am studying or reading it has to be quiet or at least with background music I cannot know the lyrics to, i.e. classical.

Christmas is a time for songs, for singing. One of the best parts of this season is the songs-both old and new.  It doesn’t get much better than O Holy Night or Joy to the World.  The angels sang. Children sing. Adults sing. Young folks sing. Old folks sing. We can’t stop singing.

Chris Tomlin has written a (non-Christmas) song with the lyrics: “How can I stop from singing Your praise? How can I ever say enough, how amazing is Your love/How can I keep from shouting Your name. I know I am loved by the king and it makes my heart want to sing.”

This will be a different type of devotion today. I want to share some of my songs with you-those which have been meaningful to me this Christmas season. I hope it will give you something to sing. So here are a few of my favorite “new” Christmas songs. Enjoy.

https://youtu.be/5Vwu-t7QRaE

https://youtu.be/mt_xfOutfSQ

https://youtu.be/182xcb3GyOg

https://youtu.be/qmNDI4f8Wrw

If you want the lyrics (except for the last song which has them), hit CC and the lyrics will come on the screen. Enjoy the songs! May they lift your heart to heaven and put a spring in your step and a song in your heart today…and tomorrow…and the next day…(you get my drift).

 

#UnexpectedNews#Surprise!

Written by cycleguy on December 10th, 2021

I’m guessing we have all been the recipients of unexpected news.  Good and bad. If there was anyone who had to be surprised by unexpected news it would have to be the shepherds.

In his book, The Christmas We Didn’t Expect, David Mathis wrote the following:

“It may have been the greatest choral presentation in the history of the world. One nameless angel had the honor of singing the lead, with a veritable angelic multitude behind him. But no tickets were sold, and the show was not announced ahead of time. The audience was simply a flock of unresponsive sheep and a lowly band of unsuspecting shepherds. But it was too good to keep quiet about. Word got out, and ‘all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.’ The Gospel of Luke records the story for us to wonder at too.”

The shepherds are part and parcel of every Christmas celebration. But they are much more than children in a play dressed up in bathrobes. You know how that works. You find someone to play Mary and Joseph and look around for a baby Jesus-real or a doll. The rest of the children want to be in the play so you dress them up in bathrobes, tie a towel around their head and they become a great multitude.

Of course, the real shepherds’ involvement was more than that. My sermon this week is about the shepherds and the Unexpected News they received. Join me if you would like.

{NOTE: I apologize for failing to post last weekend. Jo and I went to Ohio from Thursday through Sunday. Pastor Ryan preached for me. I’m eager to be back with the people I love}.