Respite

Written by cycleguy on May 22nd, 2016

I’m writing this on Thursday so obviously I have no idea how the interview went with Chad & Terri. I’m not sure I am going to have time to post it right away either.

I’m taking a respite.

Sunday after worship and a bite to eat, Jo & I are first heading to Ohio where we will spend the night bugging relishing our grandson and his parents. 🙂

Monday through Thursday morning we will be staying with my brother, Rob, and his wife, Joy. We will also be visiting my dad (dementia) and his wife who are in a nursing home. We also plan to take in a Pirate baseball game (Go Bucs!) and hopefully have an opportunity to visit my other brother and his family.

Thursday morning we will be heading back to Ohio to stay a few days and watch Braden play baseball Saturday night. I’ll also be taking my bike and hopefully have cooperative weather to ride some.

Sunday after attending church with them and eating lunch, we will be heading back home.

Lots of driving. Lots of together time. Lots of down time (I hope). It is the latter which is prompting me to say I won’t be blogging next week. Nor will I be commenting on many-if any-blogs. Memorial Day is the following Monday so I anticipate having a post on Tuesday, May 31. Thanks for understanding and your prayers for our trip. See you when I get back.

 

RealLifeAdoption

Written by cycleguy on May 19th, 2016

familymatters

Last week I spoke about the biblical basis for adoption. Here is a short recap:

  1. We were meant to enjoy an intimate relationship with God. That was ruined by the Fall.
  2. God has adopted us into His family. According to Romans 8:17 that adoption makes us children of God, and if children then heirs. We are called sons of God.
  3. All the rights, all the privileges, all the benefits of being an heir are ours.

I want those truths to serve as a basis for this week’s effort. I’m taking a totally new approach (at least for me) this Sunday. We have had several in our church fellowship who have adopted children. One family has a natural son-and could have continued having more-but chose to go the adoption route. Their natural son is 16 now. But in early 2005 they went to China and adopted a baby. That little girl was a gymnast for several years and is now a dynamite high diver. Then in 2011 they all made their way to China and welcomed an 8 year old girl. She, too, has turned into a fantastic gymnast, as well as a pretty young lady with a beautiful smile. She also recently became a Christ-follower. Chad and Terri are their parents.

My new approach? After showing a video of some friends who have since gone to Bulgaria to adopt a sibling group of four (13 years ago they adopted their son from Russia), I’m going to “interview” Chad & Terri. They have a fantastic story to tell of love that reached beyond their borders and the country’s borders to take in two girls from China. I met with them about a month or so ago and got the “scoop” on their adoption route and decided to use their story to bring home the validity of adoption.

I know several of my readers could also speak of their road to adoption as well: Kari, Jason & Andrea, Pam, and I’m sure others. I’m hoping we can make the recording happen since it might take more than we have the ability to do. But then again…I have Ryan (Mr. Techgeek).

I’ll let you know how it went. In the meantime, would you please pray for Sunday. I know they will be nervous, but am convinced will relax quickly. Pray for impact. Thanks.

 

Envy

Written by cycleguy on May 16th, 2016

Can envy be sinful?

Can envy be not sinful?

The answer…I think…is yes to both. Depending, of course, on the attitude in which it manifests itself.  Please stick with me as I do some thinking out loud. Then you can castigate agree with me.  🙂

I was speaking with someone recently and I said, “I want to say this carefully lest you misunderstand me. I envy your husband.” Relax…it wasn’t a sexual talk. Not even close. I stated I am envious because he has accomplished far more in his short years than I have in my long years. Where he is at his age, I wasn’t even close. In fact, at 63, I’m still not close…and never will be!

My brother, Rob, has a fantastic voice. While I was the athlete and excelled in my chosen sport, Rob excelled in music. Guess who is still singing and who is no longer playing? If your answers were Rob and me (in that order) give yourself a virtual high five. I am envious of his ability.

As stated I am envious. But I rejoice in their success. Jealous? No.  (Okay just a little). I can honestly say I agree with what the Bible says about this: “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” I rejoice in my friend’s success and I cannot tell you how proud I am of my brother.  (Beyond proud actually).

I do think it is high time for many of us to quit “wishing and hoping” for more of what someone else has and be content with what God has given us. I think we can be envious without being sinful. It is when it becomes a driving force, begins to cloud our vision, and leads to comparison that we need to check our emotions at the door and straighten some things out.

Your thoughts?

 

HardWords

Written by cycleguy on May 15th, 2016

Every once in a while we come in contact with a word or words which stump us-both in our daily speech and in the Bible. I find myself occasionally checking Webster’s online dictionary or my Roget’s Thesaurus to hunt up a meaning of a word or a synonym to help make more sense.

It is those hard-to-sometimes-understand Bible words which often trip people up. It is one of the reasons people give for not reading the Bible or definitely for not understanding it. In today’s message, I spoke about adoption. I also introduced some other hard-to-understand/grasp words often found in the Bible. This is certainly not exhaustive but just five random words:

Regeneration– when a spiritually dead person is made alive in the power of God.

Justification– when God declares a sinner righteous because of the blood of Christ shed on the cross.

Sanctification– the act of being set aside for a specific purpose.

Redemption– the act of being bought back. It is the act of being set free. (Think slaves bought on the auction block and then given their freedom).

Propitiation– the work of Christ in purchasing our salvation. I John uses this term to describe Him as our Advocate.

I know there are more. Part of being a pastor is also being a teacher. I confess I’m not much of an evangelist, but I do love to teach the folks what I am learning.

So…here’s your question: have any of those words given you pause? Is there another word or two which will raise your eyebrows in thought? I’d like to hear it.

 

For/Against

Written by cycleguy on May 12th, 2016

familymatters

I have said it before in this blog and I have said it out loud both from the pulpit and in person:

It is too bad Christ-followers seem to be known more for what we are against than what we are for.

Case in point: my topic for this coming Sunday and the next week. Topic? Abortion. Adoption.

There. I’ve just illustrated my point. I will admit to being against abortion. So…I can choose to preach a scathing sermon against abortion and the abortion industry (and all the while trying to tell those who have had an abortion they are loved…which I believe they are) OR I can speak about the alternative: adoption.

I am choosing the latter. More and more people are gravitating toward adoption. I know some of my readers have chosen that route. GOOD FOR YOU!! I personally wish the red tape and government intervention would disappear (as well as the high astronomical cost of adoption). I believe the alternative to abortion would be a much more welcome action.

The adoption of an individual child finds its roots-not in the government-but in the Bible. Moses. Mephibosheth. Esther. Me. You. Anyone who has come to Christ as Savior has known adoption. God has adopted us into His family. See here.  Sunday’s emphasis will be on adoption into God’s family and I’ll also be talking about Esther’s story. This will be Part 1 of a two part sermon. I can’t wait to tell you about next week! Thanks for your prayers.

 

Divided

Written by cycleguy on May 9th, 2016

Have you ever been divided? I mean, have you ever wanted to not do something but felt compelled to do it? That feeling of not wanting to was largely based on the subject matter.

I’m feeling that way right now. I strive to make this blog an uplifting, fun, light-hearted, diverse take on life. But there are times when I find myself writing something which is none of the above. Like now…

In one of my past posts, I talked about the healing and transformation which needs to take place in many lives due to predators. It garnered-not a lot of comments-but it did garner some very thoughtful and thought-filled ones. I’ve been reading more of Healing The Wounded Heart and ran across some important thoughts I’d like to pass along. I am no professional counselor so please keep that in mind.

Under a section entitled Evil’s Plan for Sexual Abuse it says

  1. Evil is a Thief
  2. Evil is a Murderer
  3. Evil is a Destroyer

It is #2 which captured my thoughts. Evil is a killer that delights in taking life and destroying hope. Evil knows that to the degree we are discouraged and defeated, we will not fight for survival. To not fight is to capitulate, to surrender. It wants to plunge us into despair.  And the following is what really hit me:

“There are two primary consequences of despair: dissociation and indulgence. Dissociation is a deep inner disconnection from reality…Dissociation in inevitable for a child or adolescence caught in the web of abuse…Dissociation is not a choice; it is a survival mechanism.” (p.40)

Like I said, I am not a counselor, but my experience with people says those who dissociate often add other struggles which magnify the problem…not solve it. Food, drink, sex, work, TV, pornography to name a few. In an effort to be free, they become slaves to something sometimes even more insidious.

The goal of evil (the enemy) is to steal, kill and destroy. Resisting the enemy is no small fete but if we want to win this battle it starts with “both fists up and wailing away.” All in the power of the Holy Spirit. “Greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world.”

To love life involves change-at some of the most painful places of all. I know this is not a “fun and games” post, but it can be an encouragement post. Don’t shy away from people who are struggling. Be there for them. Tell them you are fighting alongside them, that they are not alone.

 

Sore

Written by cycleguy on May 8th, 2016

It never ceases to amaze me how I know something is going to hurt (i.e. make me sore) and yet I will do it anyway. You would think at the age of 63 I would be wise enough to say, “No!” and walk away from the pain.

But it is because I am 63 that I fail to heed the signs and wallow right through the mess.

Our weather has been stinky. Translated: lousy for riding a bike outside. I have already taken my bike off the inside trainer and unless a freak snow storm hits and lasts for weeks, I have no intention of putting my bike back on the trainer. So…I have taken up another way to whip my body (I wish into shape) but instead just to whip it. I have made more trips to the Y than I normally do this time of the year. Therein lies the problem. Forgetting I am 63 I go to the Y and subject myself to pain and agony with weights. When I go I tell myself to “take it easy” but when I am done it is like, “That was easy? What did you just do?”

So…over the past couple of weeks I have taken my body to extremes.  Incline bench presses. Upward leg presses (knees don’t allow squats). Dumbbell work. Cable work. Hanging leg lifts (I’m still searching for that 6-pack). 🙂 Then yesterday, I rode 16 miles for the first time in over 2 weeks.

Today? I’m not sure I have legs that will function or will even get me out of my chair. So I took it easy today, even though Jo told me I could ride. (What a wife! She says I could ride on MD!) I chose not to. You see, muscles need time to heal.

Muscle growth comes from stretching the limits, breaking them down, then allowing them to heal. Sort of like the Christ-follower. All growth comes from the struggles. Growth doesn’t come when it is easy; it comes when it hurts. Growth doesn’t come on the mountaintop; it comes in the valley and in the desert. I may not like it. I may not want it. But it is essential. Don’t begrudge the growth opportunities.

 

Unique

Written by cycleguy on May 5th, 2016

familymatters

I’m going to jump the gun on this!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

I know there are some woman who truly hate this day. It reminds them of what is not to be. Or it may remind them of what once was. Or it may remind them of when their mother walked the earth. My mother went to see Jesus in March of 2004. Fortunately, I have been blessed with a wonderful wife who was also a terrific mom.

Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said, “No one is poor who had a godly mother.” I can echo that. Although I did not always agree with my mother, as I grow older I realize who much of an influence she had upon me. Or as Mark Twain said, “As I get older I realize who much smarter my parents have gotten.” There are times I want to call her and say, “Now I know mom.”

This Sunday, called Mother’s Day on the calendar, is a special day. It’s a day of celebration. In reality, it should be every day of the year. This Sunday my sermon will focus on the unique design of a woman. We are all one in Christ. Male/female. Slave/free. Jew/Greek. Obviously different but also one. Men and women are equal in value but the woman is unique in design (besides the obvious).

Hope you have a fantastic Mother’s Day…either celebrating the women who have made a difference in your life or being the one celebrated.

 

Tickets

Written by cycleguy on May 4th, 2016

Some tickets are good. Like going to a baseball game. Jo & I will be visiting my dad in a couple of weeks and staying with my brother. One of the highlights will be attending a Pirate baseball game (providing the weather is better then than it has been here this week). I guess I could be selfish and pray for it not to rain but going to a game and having a Day of Service are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

pittsburgh pirates logo photo: Pirates Logo pirateslogo.gif

We have some friends in the church who are planning on attending the White Christmas musical at the IU auditorium this November. They have asked us to go with them. Tickets need to be purchased now.

There are some tickets you don’t like to receive. Take my case for example. Sunday, while going from Point A to Point B to deliver water, I came down a hill a tad bit over the speed limit. Next thing I knew Mr. “I want to make my  presence known” shows me his shiny new toy-his bubble gum machine. You know…the kind that shines red and blue.  Of all the good things that happened that day, this was not one of them. I paid the ticket this afternoon (Wednesday). To make things worse, I stopped at Main Street Coffee, a coffee joint run by some “friends” who asked me what I was doing today. I showed her the ticket and she laughed. She laughed! See if I ever buy any tamales from them again. (Oh yeah…I don’t pay. The lady who makes them is my “favorite Mexican.” She’s a lady who attends the church and has told Josh and Briane to just give me the tamales.)  I’m so glad I can be a source of amusement to people. 🙂

So…how has your week been?  Ever received a ticket? How’d that make you feel?

 

WaitingGame

Written by cycleguy on May 1st, 2016

As I write this (Sunday morning) it is a waiting game. A faith game. A hoping game.

We have had a Day of Service planned for today since last Fall. The forecast Monday through Thursday has been 90% chance of rain…all day. How is that a problem you say?

One of our service projects is to help clean up and plant trees for the new MyPath initiative. The path is a walking/running path from the local Y to McCormick’s Creek State Park.  It is outside.

Our other service projects are the Humane Society shelter; a local person who has kennels and rescues dogs (they just took in 15 and found out one was pregnant. 15+3=18 new dogs plus the ones they already had); outside cleanup at the local Y (trash, playground, etc); some outside help for some local folks; and visiting the two nursing facilities in town. The only one which could go off without a hitch if it rains is the nursing home (for obvious reasons).

Our plan is to have one service today at 10:00 followed by a short meal. We will then head to the fairgrounds where another local church meets and team up with them to do these acts of service from 1-4:00. Afterwards we will be making our way back to the fairgrounds for a meal with The Connection (the newest church in town). Teaming up to get this done and to cover more ground is a first. 🙂

All that to say: you can see why a 90% chance of rain led us to begin praying hard for no rain today. Or if it did…wait until after 4:00!! I’m praying for no rain or at least a 4:00 start time. I’ll let you know how all that shakes out.

Meanwhile, I’m excited to partner with The Connection in serving our community.

I’m editing this at 5:33 pm Sunday evening. The weather was absolutely gorgeous!  No rain whatsoever. Thank you God for answering prayer!! And for those of you who prayed-both OVCF people and my readers-thanks. 🙂 A lot was accomplished.