Unexpected

Written by cycleguy on May 25th, 2017

Lots has been happening this week. So much that it has kept me from posting on my own blog. I’m not sure how I feel about those kinds of weeks. On one hand I say, “I’d rather be busy than bored.” I would probably hear a bunch of hearty “Amen’s.” At the same time I will hear a bunch of “Amen’s” from those who say, “I’d rather sit around and be bored.” 🙂

In the life of a pastor, as for many of you, things crop up which require immediate attention and sometimes cannot be delayed. I didn’t have much happening this week. It is the last week of school for our local kids so that always raises the bar of stress for many. My week started pretty innocuous leading me to think, “Hey! It looks like a pretty slow week.” Ever heard the saying, “You speak too quickly”? That one describes the rest of this week.

Maybe another word is better: UNEXPECTED.

A counseling appointment. Unexpected. An emergency surgery over an hour away. Unexpected. A trip/visit that took almost the whole day. Unexpected. A PT appointment where the diagnosis and treatment were not what I wanted to hear. Unexpected. Power outage at the office on Thursday morning. Definitely Unexpected (and ill-needed).

Life is full of “unexpected’s.” You have them. I have them. How could we possible go through life without them?

There is another unexpected but expected event. The unexpected is Jesus coming back. We have no clue when that will happen. The expected is Jesus coming back. He said He would and I believe Him. And who knows? Maybe it will be during one of those unexpected events in my own life. I’m okay with that.

Jo and I leave tomorrow for northern Indiana where I have been asked to perform a wedding for a couple. The young lady attended OVCF until college and then a job took her away. So I will basically be incognito this weekend. I not only have the wedding; we return Sunday to attend two high school graduation parties of two of the coolest high school young men I know. I EXPECT both of them to excel in their college years and in their chosen professions: one to study optometry and the other will be commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the Air Force upon graduation. I feel a little out of my league. 🙂

But I’ll see you when I get back. Have a great weekend. Please pray for Ryan as he preaches for me.

 

Wars

Written by cycleguy on May 21st, 2017

Some wars are justified; some are not. (not a political statement so stay away from there). Church history gives us plenty of ammunition for proof. The Reformation is a perfect example of that.

Down through the years, music has been a battleground. I was hoping it was over but recently one of our college students came home and I asked him about the bruhaha about the music that he got involved in. Seems the college president made the comment that the only “real” Christian music was southern gospel and hymns and he challenged the students to give up their “devil” music (my summary not exact words).

UGH!

I like and respect Chuck Swindoll and read a great article by him last week on music. I’d like to share it with you in its entirety and hear your thoughts. It is entitled Sing New Songs…With Old Truths:

Without wanting to be misunderstood, let me say unashamedly that I love the grand old hymns. Throughout my Christian life, I have treasured their historic statements of the church’s faith, having committed many of them to memory.

They have been my dearest companions in dark hours of loneliness and discouragement and my greatest encouragers in times of celebration and adoration.

And while I’m the first to admit that while there’s nothing holy about a hymnal per se, hymns remain an important part of our Christian heritage. Why?

Because the theology of hymns is far too rich and beneficial to lose. The hymn writers were wordsmiths and musicians (seldom the same person) who wove theology and melody together into splendid compositions.

They gave us words for worship and marvelous music. One of the benefits of music—whatever style you choose—is that it helps cement truth in our brains stronger than memorizing words alone.

We remember words easier with a tune attached. Hymns bring to mind deep and practical truths, not only for times of worship but also for times of trial and distress.

I have always loved the old hymns, and I always will . . . because the truths they express are timeless.

However, let me quickly add that the canon isn’t closed on music for worship. In addition to hymns, each new generation will continue to compose fresh choruses of worship and new songs of praise . . . and that is as it should be—it’s biblical!

Fresh and Creative

Those churches who believe we should only have hymns have forgotten the words of David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, who wrote:

I will sing a new song to You, O God;
Upon a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You. (Psalm 144:9, emphasis added)

The prophet Isaiah and the apostle John later used similar words (Isaiah 42:10; Revelation 5:9). The worship of our Creator should stay fresh and creative.

There is everything right about singing new songs. But we must be certain that the songs we compose and sing express sound doctrine and not human-centered philosophy.

Simply claiming, “The Lord gave me this song,” doesn’t qualify it for public worship. Even Christians in the first century were urged to “test” the words they heard (1 John 4:1–6).

Furthermore, a good melody should never override our critical thinking. Lyrics take on significance only when they are filtered through the inerrant text of the Holy Scriptures.

The music can be new . . . but the truths the music proclaims must not be.

I second his thoughts. I love the new music. But I tire of the repetition which many of them have. I can think of a few right now which turn my stomach just thinking about them.

But I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

Faith

Written by cycleguy on May 18th, 2017

 

“Is it real or Memorex?” Remember that line from the commercial? For the uninitiated, Memorex was a brand of cassette tape (‘course some may not even know what that is) they said was like listening to music live.

Real or not real? The same is true about faith. There is genuine faith and there is fake. Here’s a story about faith.

Legend has it that a man was lost in the desert, just dying for a drink of water. He stumbled upon an old shack and found a bit of shade. Just a few feet away was what looked like a rusty pump. He grabbed the handle and began to pump it up and down. Nothing came out. Disappointed he staggered back, but it was then he noticed a jug. He wiped away the dust and dirt and read a message that said, “You have to prime the pump with all the water in this jug. P.S.: Be sure to fill the jug again.”

Sure enough he popped the cork and the jug was filled with water. Does he trust the message or does he drink the water?  After some pondering, he poured all the water into the pump, then grabbed the handle and began to pump it up and down. First, a little dribble as the pump squeaked. Then suddenly fresh cool water came gushing out in a torrent. He had more water than he dreamed! He drank deeply then filled his canteen. He then filled the jug for the next traveler. He left an extra note with it: “Believe me, it really works. You have to give it all away before you can get anything back.”

That is the nature of faith. Faith will be my topic Sunday during our worship. I’d appreciate your prayers.

 

MDRecap

Written by cycleguy on May 16th, 2017

In my last post I asked for prayer for several folks and ended with saying my next post (this one) would be a recap of Mother’s Day. If you look here you will see I had help Sunday. I asked three women to speak alongside me. I thought I would give a synopsis of what they spoke about.

But first, they all did a phenomenal job! First to last. I could have totally stayed out of the picture (but I couldn’t) and it would have been fine.

AMY HAMLIN

Amy has been married to a phenomenal man with a very muscular physique (so he says) named Dan (is that good enough Dan?) for 21 years; a mother of 2 boys and a girl; and takes her desire to follow Jesus seriously. Amy spoke about Hannah, the mother of Samuel, who gave her long-awaited son to God. She and Daniel had waited over 7 years so Hannah became very alive to her. Eventually, Hannah’s (and Amy’s) waiting was fruitful and a son was born. Amy did an excellent job of tying in waiting on God and faith. {Note: My apologies to Amy. My original said “close to 18 years” but Dan said, “I know Amy looks young but it has been 21 years.”} I also apologize to Amy for underestimating her time with Dan. 🙂 🙂  And in case you can’t tell, I love these guys.

DIANA MARKLAND

I happen to know Diana pretty well. I work with her everyday. Diana has been married almost 30 years and has two sons. I asked her to speak on being a “warrior woman.” Conversations we have had over the past year or so precluded me asking her on that topic. She has a picture in her office I bought her of a warrior woman.

Diana spoke about being a woman who fights for her marriage, her children, her life…like a warrior. It was very inspirational and challenging to the women who were here.

JO GRANDI

I happen to know this woman!  This June will be 44 years together and that love has brought 2 adult daughters, a son-in-law we love as if he is our own, and of course, the best grandson in the world. (And no, I am not prejudiced! Just the facts). 🙂 Anyway, Jo spoke…haltingly at times…about dealing with my 2 bicycle wrecks and the possibility I could have died on either one, especially the last one. (The face plant and helmet split in three places is a dead giveaway). Jo spoke about feeling “closed in on,” of being rushed before the wreck and how the wreck caused us to slow down and breathe. She closed with a video. Enjoy! I cannot tell you how proud I was of her.

Actually, I was so pleased with all three ladies. I could see a “fear” in them of standing before people, but I also saw a strong confidence because they were God’s spokesperson for that time.  If you would like to hear their talks you can go to the church’s website and listen to the podcast. The strange guy’s voice you hear is mine. 🙂

It was a good and enriching day. Thanks Amy, Diana, and Jo for making it extra special. Now…next year? Look out ladies! I’ll probably be avoided for the whole year now.

 

Requests

Written by cycleguy on May 14th, 2017

Every once in a while nothing needs to be said except “Help!”  I’m not in that boat at the moment but I would like to ask your help by praying for several folks.  That is the sole purpose of this post today.

First, one of my blogging friends, Martha Jane Orlando, has been going through a tough time lately with her husband, Danny. Martha blogs here and if you go to this particular one it will take you on a four-post ride and what she has been experiencing with Danny. I have continued personal correspondence with her and Danny had surgery, developed an infection and had to return to the hospital so the infection would clear up and then have another surgery.  She has been incognito in blogland because of it. Please keep Danny and Martha in your prayers.

My brother, Rob, and his wife, Joy, head to Italy Monday (May 15th) to do mission work until July 3rd. Working with some missionary friends, they will be teaching English to folks, but will be using a Bible-based book to do it. So the opportunities for sharing Christ are immense. There is a great opportunity to meet with these folks one-on-one. They are excited and anxious all at the same time. I saw Rob a week and a half ago and he seems to be returning to better health. Please pray for he and Joy: their safe travel, their health while there, their opportunities for sharing Christ, and just an all-around good trip.

I have some very dear friends from the church who have had to move for various reasons. They need to sell their old house so they can “release that worry.” I love this family a lot and ask you to pray for them in this new venture. I know they would appreciate it also.

I know there are others to pray for. But I would be remiss if I didn’t ask prayer for me. Two bicycle accidents have taken their toll on my body, but the one in November (where the car hit me) has lingered a lot longer. Getting hit at 55-60 mph on my left cheek (missing my spine by 2″) has left its mark. I’m now painfully dealing with what they believe to be a sciatic nerve issue. I’m praying for healing without surgery. I’d like to ask you to join me.

So…how can I pray for you?

{Note: my next post will be recap of Mother’s Day}

 

Mothers

Written by cycleguy on May 12th, 2017

If any man is tempted to question the wisdom of God, it is only because that man has never paused long enough to consider God’s remarkable creation called woman. When God saw Adam alone it was the first time He said, “It is not good.” Eve was His crowning achievement. “And it was good.”

My life would not be what it is today if not for the women in my life. First (obviously) is my late mother. Although married, she did not have much support (except her own father and mother) in raising her 4 boys to love and serve God. Her influence lives on in me. I would not function very well without the love of my life, Jo. We have had our ups and down, our struggles, our quiet times, but most definitely time of laughter. The past couple months has brought a renewal of our love for each other. I am deeply and profoundly affected by the love of my two adult daughters. I marvel at how well God has molded them into beautiful young ladies.

There are many, both in the religious world and non-religious world, who want to rip apart the Bible and its Author and authors as being chauvinistic pigs. Even a recent comment I have heard shows the ignorance of taking that accusatory stance. God and His Word give women the highest place of honor. “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Pr. 31:30.

Doesn’t sound like a put down to me.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

to all you women. Guys! Let’s stand up and be one of their voices as we scream from the mountaintop of our love for them and their meaning to our lives.

Sunday, 3 women will be speaking to the church during the morning worship. I have asked them to be part of my “sermon.” I’d like to ask for extra prayers for these very nervous ladies. Thanks.

 

Enjoyable

Written by cycleguy on May 11th, 2017

There are a lot of things about my job I absolutely love.  I can honestly say there have been very few times I have disliked or not wanted to come to my job. It has been that way for over 40+ years and never has ministry been more enjoyable and fun than the past 11 1/2 at OVCF. Except for Fridays (which is my day off), I think I can count on one hand the number of times I just wanted to stay in bed and not go to work. I love the people. I love the challenges. I love the victories. I love the defeats (they have been few but have been tremendous learning experiences). I love the two people I work with almost on a daily basis.

But this past year something really caught me by surprise on the joy end. First, I’ll show you the picture:

Real Men Read (RMR) is a program where men from the community go into a local school once a month and read a story to the children. This past year I have had the privilege of reading to Mrs. Erica Lee’s Kindergarten class at Spencer Elementary School. I have thoroughly, thoroughly, (did I say thoroughly) enjoyed myself. I’ve read different books each month. I even read a very long Dr. Seuss book two months ago and the kids sat and listened.

Well…RMR actually ended last month but I wanted one more chance to read. So I approached Mrs. Lee about me finding a book to read (it helps to have a Kindergarten teacher who lives in my house) and visiting her class one more time.  Several months ago one of the little girls had a birthday and had cupcakes but I had to leave. So I asked Mrs. Lee if I could read and then bring cupcakes in as a treat. She loved the idea so today I become Mrs. Lee’s K class’s favorite person! 🙂 🙂 The wise part of Mrs. Lee is to set it for close to the last thing of the day and then send them home.  Now THAT is a very wise Kindergarten teacher. Sugar them then send them home. LOL

Oh…the book I’m reading? Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes. Notice some connection?

I have volunteered to read again next year. After this year, it is one of my anticipated events for the next school year.

 

Explanation

Written by cycleguy on May 10th, 2017

Explanation or Excuse?

It has been a few days since I last posted a blog. I could say it was dry mind disease. But that would not be true. I have a lot of stuff going around in my head these days. Some good. Some not so good. 🙂  I could say it was “I have been so busy going from this person to that person in ministry.” But that would not be true either (although there has been some of that).

Truth is: I have been sort of preoccupied. After being gone to PA to see my brother & his wife (Rob & Joy) and my elderly father, I have found life not slowing down at all. I played catch up for several days. Throw in two doctor appointments due to the bicycle wrecks; an afternoon spent driving to and from a hospital an hour away; being a husband and a father; an apparent sciatic nerve issue due to the November wreck; and barely finding time for myself, I caught myself chasing my tail.

So with everything going on, the blog took a back seat. Sorry about that. Since the staff is going to lunch soon (and I am paying for the secretary’s since I forgot to honor her on Administrative Professional Day), I want to leave you with a few quotes:

“Discernment- the ability to tell the difference between right, and almost right.”  Given to me by someone after my sermon on discernment. (Quoted by Priscilla Shirer in her Armor of God Bible study. Original quote by Spurgeon).

“I rest assured that I am loved by a holy God. His will for me is always right, good and true.”

“Sinners tend to want to author their own moral codes.”  (Both quotes by Paul David Tripp in New Morning Mercies-May 10)

Just give you something to think about and chew on. Hope you have a great day.

 

Choosing

Written by cycleguy on May 4th, 2017

Choosing to love. Three easy words to say. Three tough words to do.

Simple truth: choosing to love is tough to do. Let’s face it. Loving one another is not always easy. Granted, there are people who are easy to love. Tommy James once sang a song with the words “You’re so easy to love” and some people are.

Oh…but then there are those who just take about every last ounce of civility in you. 🙂 They are so hard to love, so hard to care about, so hard to find a sympathetic bone for.

But love is a choice we make. No matter what some people say no man is an island. The words to the old song are simply not true: “I am a rock, I am an island…and a rock feels no pain and island never cries.”  As we used to say, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” Try as we may…give off the air we want…we all need someone else.

The ironic thing is choosing to love takes a toll because it requires something from us. My sermon this Sunday is about choosing to love.  With the lead-in of “I choose to love…” I want to show two ways that choosing to love is beneficial:

Because love reveals God’s character

Because love reveals to Whom I belong

Join me Sunday  if you live around here. If not, the sermon is on podcast on the church’s website. If you can do neither, how about praying for me and the church this weekend. That may be best of all. Thanks.

 

Potpourri

Written by cycleguy on May 2nd, 2017

Every once in a while I like to do a random post. I pick items that are usually unrelated and give you a piece of my mind life. I can’t give you a piece of my mind because I can ill afford to lose much. 🙂

Life has been sort of hectic around these parts lately. Ryan, our youth pastor, and his family were gone for a much-needed and much-deserved vacation. They were fostering two children (ages 1 & 3) for over a year and it was an emotional and taxing time for them. I’m glad they were able to get away.

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As a result of them being gone, Ryan asked me to teach the Sunday evening ROOTS lesson. Now… understand: ROOTS is…are you ready for this?…Jr and Sr High youth. Yeah. It has been since 1982 or so since I stepped into a Jr/Sr High class to teach. But the kids are good kids and I had a good time.  I’d say thanks to the young people but they don’t read this so it would be wasted. 🙂

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It is funny (not haha funny) how I thought the hit and run incident in November would be over long before the bicycle wreck in February. For those who may not know, I was hit by a hit ‘n run driver as I rode my bike on November 7th. Other than a huge hematoma which developed and some definite soreness (and 7 weeks sleeping my chair and not the bed) I thought I was done. Nope. After landing stiff armed on the asphalt I now have shoulder issues. Where he hit me (missing my spine by 2 inches) and sending me though the air with “the greatest of ease” and landing on my hip, I now have hip issues which will be looked at next Monday. The good side is the collarbone and ribs seem to be healing well!! 🙂

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I am leaving today for Pennsylvania to see my brother, Rob & his wife, Joy, and my dad (nursing home with dementia).  We will be stopping off tonight to see a certain young man in Ohio (and his parents). I’d sure appreciate your prayers for Jo & I as we travel. I’ll be approving comments by my phone but not much else.

Thanks for reading my ramblings. Have a great rest of the week.