Peace

Written by cycleguy on August 28th, 2014

Home is a place many of us like to talk and think about. It is supposed to be a place of safety and rest. American Idol contestant Chris Daughtry sang a song called “Home” in which he talked about being away and looking forward to being home. And even though I am not a fan of “The Wizard of Oz” the famous line is “There’s no place like home.”

For the follower of Christ, it is common to say, “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.” (Yeah go ahead and get that song in your head for the rest of the day). :) Of course, it is true. Adding to that is knowing there will be trouble in this world.

John 14 is a passage we often go to at the funeral of a Christ-follower. It is filled with hope, reassurance and peace of a future home and a better place. I don’t want to get all “pie-in-the-sky” on you because I am opposed to walking around with our heads in the clouds. You know the old saying, “He’s so earthly minded he’s no earthly good.”

What I am talking about is knowing the truths which quiet the heart when everything around us is shaking. The context of the verses show Jesus talking to His disciples about what is going to happen to Him very shortly. Their stress level jacked up and went through the roof. His words in John 14-17 were to offer them peace.

They do the same for us. I close out my month of “Listen!” from John in The Great Adventure with this message on “From Trouble to Peace.” Some pretty great stuff in 14:1-20. I’d appreciate your prayers.

 

Challenge

Written by cycleguy on August 27th, 2014

Unless you were born under a rock recently, you know about “The Challenge.”  Yeah…that challenge.

The one appropriately called The Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS.

Well…Jo & I took part in that challenge on Monday evening. It was in response to someone whom we simply could not refuse…OUR GRANDSON. I mean…come one! How in the world can grandparents turn down the challenge from their one and only grandson? It came about because his aunt Tami challenged him.

I haven’t said much about the ALS challenge at all. Publicly or privately. I do not personally (to my knowledge) know anyone who has ALS. I know of some who have had relatives. I know of Chuck Wedemeyer. Chuck and his wife were committed followers of Jesus.

I know ALS is an ugly disease. I also know there is so much more to learn about it. I have some concerns about the origin of stem cells used in research. But honestly, I know so little about it I can’t really make a fair judgment. I read this article that brought some things into focus a little better. I guess. I do hope they find a cure for this devastating disease.

So in our challenge we did something different. It is not much different from what others have done. We took the challenge. We challenged our youth pastor’s kids and his wife. (He had already been challenged by several others). Maybe Nancy (who filmed it) will comment and leave her link for the video.

Our donation will be made to two places. One is an organization I believe strongly in (and am on the board): New Beginnings Pregnancy Resource Center in Spencer, IN. The other is American Indian Christian Mission in Show Low, AZ. A friend of mine is involved in it. They both believe in life…as do I.

Have you taken the challenge? What are your thoughts?

 

Worship

Written by cycleguy on August 26th, 2014

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Several weeks ago I preached a sermon on John 4 and the woman at the well. I borrowed some thoughts from Chapter 2 of this book. First, some backdrop. We all worship…Someone or something. We have been created for that. It should be a given not everyone will worship God. As Jesus talked to the woman at the well, she said something to Him about drawing from a well without a bucket. His answer was “Whoever drinks this water will be thirsty again, but I will give living water where he will never thirst again.”

Matt identifies three barriers to true worship:

Barrier #1: Wrong Wells

  • money and comfort
  • relationships and sex
  • respect and success

Barrier #2: Unconfessed Sin

Barrier #3: Ignorance

But there is so much more to worship than what hinders it! I firmly believe the barriers given do affect our worship. Let me clarify: they most definitely influence our worship. But in that same conversation Jesus also says something which strikes gold in His conversation with her and should with us. We find it in verse 24: “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.”  I like the way Matt puts it: “with both inflamed hearts and informed minds.” While some might think they are mutually exclusive, I don’t. I personally don’t think someone needs to check their brains at the door when he worships. Nor do I think someone needs to check their heart at that same door.

I know there are certain personalities. Some are emotional worshipers. Some are more “heady.” Neither one is right or wrong. I confess: I am more of an emotional worshiper than say, my wife. It took me awhile to learn it was okay to raise my hands, to let tears roll down my cheeks, to allow the Spirit to speak to me through the words. But I’m also okay with those who don’t express their worship in the same way. (In any case, I am not an advocate for uncontained worship either). I don’t care if one expresses worship emotionally, physically, or with his hands in his pockets, AS LONG AS THAT WORSHIP IS GENUINE. And nothing is so sweet as when the church (the creature) worships as one.

And you say?

This is a continuation of my blogging about Creature of the Word. Post #1 is here. I welcome your comments and thoughts.

 

 

 

Hydration

Written by cycleguy on August 25th, 2014

I rode today. In fact, I rode 20 miles.

I know…you are saying, “Big deal.”

Well…it kinda was. I think today (Monday) was one of the hottest days of the summer. Temps in the 90s with humidity close to 100%. I ride with insulated bottles- one of water and one of Gatorade (G2). Needless to say they were both drained by the time I finished. I don’t know how many of you are athletes-cyclists, runners, team players, marathoners-but one of the essentials is hydrating. An athlete who doesn’t hydrate is asking for trouble. I can remember a Tour de France several years ago when Lance Armstrong got dehydrated during a Time Trial. He lost power. His lips and mouth had a white chalky substance around them (salt). He was in bad shape. I’ve seen guys working on roofs who fail to get out of the heat and get plenty to drink end up with heat stroke.

Once or twice I have bonked and it is a miserable state to be in. It is hard to focus on task. It takes everything within you to (in my case) keep pedaling. It takes recovery time, and depending on the severity, possibly several days. Unless…nah never mind.

I can’t help but think of this principle spiritually. As I was riding today a verse of Scripture came to mind: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Psalm 42:1-2

A more dire strait (no not the musical group) is seen in Jeremiah 2:12-13: “Be appalled, O heavens, at this: be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

I’m going to be honest: I’ve sort of gone through a mild dry season- not a famine- just a dry season. I’ve allowed my spirit to get a bit dry.  Not parched, but edging that way.  Reckon it is time to head back to the old watering hole.

Where are you at these days? How is your spirit?

 

 

Adult

Written by cycleguy on August 24th, 2014

I know she will shoot me but I had a daughter who had a birthday this past Saturday. Janna turned 35. So yes, that makes me an old man. :)

It got me to thinking though. I know there are times people say I don’t act my age (no comments from the peanut gallery), but I’m glad Janna is getting older…and with age comes responsibility and maturity. In other words, she is becoming more of an adult. I have watched her blossom from a baby to a toddler to a gangly Jr. High volleyball player, to a high school student to a college student who decided to pursue children’s ministry of some form. She recently began a new job at Primrose of Reynoldsburg, OH. I am so proud of her maturity and growth (as I am of Tami, our oldest daughter).

I have to confess I would be quite concerned if Janna was still drinking from a bottle. Or asking her parents what clothes to wear (she used to be my fashion police). Or still eating baby food. I would say something was wrong. Big time wrong. What if she didn’t grow up at all? What if she reverted backwards from her adult stage to a baby stage?

There are many who do that spiritually. Having been “Christians” for years they show no growth or desire to grow. Some, having been “Christians” for years, revert backwards as they allow bitterness, revenge, lack of forgiveness, divided loyalties, and a host of other issues become more prominent in their lives. Why don’t we get as alarmed about that as we do when it happens physically?

“Let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity…” Heb.6:1

“Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” I Cor.14:20

Those are just two Scriptures which show us the importance of growing and becoming an adult in our spiritual lives. It is easy to fall into that trap, of coasting along. Perhaps we need to adopt the slogan we will hear some say: “Be the adult!”

What do you think?

 

Assurance

Written by cycleguy on August 21st, 2014

Want to start a theological argument?  Pick certain subjects like…

Baptism- purpose of and mode

Communion- how often and what happens during its observance

Second Coming- pre, post, or amil. Rapture or not?

Israel- favored or unfavored people?

Tongues- yes or no?

Predestination/Foreordained- Are we or aren’t we?

Those subjects and more get people going. I would even say “Rabid” from time to time. There is one which I purposely left off the list, even though it will cause some heartburn as well.

ASSURANCE

It goes by several names: “Eternal security.” “Once saved; always saved.” Yeah, that will get some people riled up.

But what if we just took out of the realm of surety of salvation and into the realm of a calm and peace which comes from knowing you are saved? What if we used the picture of the shepherd and his sheep as the backdrop for our discussion? You see…I lived and preached for years that a person could not know he was saved. No assurance. No peace. It really came down to a works-oriented approach. “If you really want to know you are saved then you must do this or this or not do this or this.” Of course, the list for the “Dont’s” was always longer.

Sad part is: I had no assurance myself. When a person lives with a constant fear of losing everything, there can be no joy, peace and…here it is… assurance.

My sermon Sunday is from John 10-the Shepherd and his sheep. I want to give assurance to those who live with uncertainty. I’d appreciate your prayers for me and the church.

Do you live with assurance? What other topics do you think cause grief?

 

Perspicuity

Written by cycleguy on August 20th, 2014

So I’m reading this book and ran across that word.  You know…that word above that is difficult to pronounce quickly. I had a bigger problem. I had no clue what it meant.

Then I found out and well…everything was crystal clear. Okay…not so.

The clarity of Scripture is sometimes known by the older word “perspicuity” (which is sort of hilarious given the fact the word makes everything about as clear as mud). I know what you may be thinking…sort of like me. Clear? Everything is clear? Given the fact we have  trouble agreeing on some very simple & basic teachings, I have to wonder about how clear it is.

Don’t brand me a heretic! I believe strongly in the inerrancy of Scripture. I believe in the infallibility of Scripture as “breathed into” and then written down by the original authors. I don’t deny some scribe mistakes have been made along the way. But nothing which affects the truth of the Scripture or what we must believe. Check out here to see where I stand.

But what I have come to learn and understand as I have traveled through this adventure called “The Christian Life” is God didn’t make learning about Him hard or difficult. Not always easy to see or grasp, but certainly not hidden. Paul wrote “the foolishness of God is wiser than men…God chose what is foolish in the world to to shame the wise…” Find that here.

“The perspicuity of Scripture upholds the notion that ordinary people using ordinary means can accurately understand enough of what must be known, believed and observed for them to be faithful Christians.” (p.59)

I don’t claim or even pretend to know all there is to know; nor understand all there is to understand. But each day I try to find myself in the Bible…lately using this. Not everything is crystal clear, but there are some things which are…and I will cling to that. I clearly need help when reading, but each day can bring something new.

How about you?

 

ME

Written by cycleguy on August 19th, 2014

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It is not uncommon to hear a pastor or a worship leader or any church leader make the statement: “It’s not about me.” Or when speaking to a whole group he might say, “It’s not about you.” Point taken. It is absolutely true. Tragically, there are far too many who  think the church and all that it involves is about them. They don’t like this. They don’t like that. Only a handful of people spoke to them…and one of them wasn’t the pastor. So they take their baseball bat and go home (nice words for “they go somewhere else to church”). I know it is rude and crude to say, but “Arrivederci! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”

People with the attitude of “church is about me” miss the point. Martin Luther is credited with saying,

It is the promises of God that make the church, and not the church that makes the promises of God.

I have to agree with him. We get it all turned around when we start thinking “it is all about me.” In fact, I might even go so far as to say that type of thinking is rebellion against God’s design for the church. Jesus said, “I will MY church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” He didn’t tell Peter, “I will build your church.” And He certainly didn’t say, “I will build (insert your name) church.”

When “me” type of thinking takes hold so much happens…and it is all negative.The vision gets cloudy. The mission gets skewed. The gospel get pushed aside. I agree with the authors when they write: “The church is not a human invention or institution; it was birthed from God’s Word.” (p.15) God spoke and creation happened. God spoke and the people of Israel walked away from Egypt.

It is time we stopped listening to words of our own invention and started following the Word of God. It is time we stop this selfish “me” attitude (I have to get something out of church for it to be legit).

What is your attitude like? Do you struggle with the “me” type? Are you willing to go with the flow?

This is my first in a series of 12 blog posts about Creature of the Word. You are welcome to comment or even join in the discussion by writing your own posts. Love to have you join in!

 

Worry

Written by cycleguy on August 18th, 2014

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Back in early July Caleb Suko asked me if I would be willing to be on the launch team for his new book, “What If…” It is subtitled “How to Kill Worry and Anxiety Before They Kill You.” I was more than happy to help out but then I found out the launch would be less than a week after I was gone on vacation. Bad mix. Read book on vacation. Nope. So I told Caleb and he was okay with me reading it whenever I had the time and then writing a review. I even waited until the book came out so I could buy it and not carry around a 198 pdf file. :) So, here is my review.

First, I met Caleb through blogging. He is a missionary/pastor in Odessa, Ukraine. He is married and the father of five children. Given the events of the past couple of months in Ukraine and being the father of five children should give him some credibility about worry and anxiety. ;) To make matters a bit more tense, until just about a week ago (August 5th), he and Christine and the five children have spent the past 10 months in the states traveling thousands of miles visiting their supporting churches. All while keeping an eye on his beloved Ukraine (which is also Christine’s homeland).

The book: I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have read many books over the 40+ years of being a pastor on subjects like worry, anxiety, fear, etc. Some have been written from a clinical view. Some have been “cheesy” i.e. offering easy answers or being filled with cliches. Some offered no answers. Some took the therapeutic route, while some took the “super spiritual” route. What I like about Caleb’s book is he did a great job of avoiding all the clinical garbage which comes from a subject like this, while at the same time giving some “meat” to what is behind worry and anxiety and how it affects a person. There is one thing I really like about this book

Caleb saturates it with Scripture. It is everywhere.

I also like that he doesn’t browbeat anyone, condemning them to hell as a hopeless sinner because they do worry. What he does do is give some logical, reasonable answers to the problem which plagues so many of us. In fact, he spends a whole chapter hitting the “Don’t worry…be happy” philosophy really hard. It is really hard to say one of the best parts of the book is such-and-such because that part is chapters 11-15 (“Don’t Worry About…”) and then chapters 17-19 (“How to Kill Worry”).  Both sections are practical, usable information.

I suggest if you have an issue with worry  and anxiety or if you do any counseling which involves these issues, this book would be a good one to add to your library.

I was asked to review Caleb’s book but not told I had to give a good review. I am glad to. Well done my Ukrainian friend and brother!

 

Loyalty

Written by cycleguy on August 17th, 2014

Loyalty is often a lost art today. To see an athlete play their whole career with one team is a rarity. Although I am not a Yankee or Jeter fan, I do have to admire him for his loyalty to one team his whole career. There are those who “take the money and run” whenever it suits their fancy.

This past weekend two events came to mind as I thought back on what to write. These events pictured loyalty.

First, I was given the privilege and honor of performing the wedding of a young couple. Tiffany, who is from OVCF, met her husband over nine years ago at church camp. For me it goes deeper than just a wedding though. Tiff’s father died 5 years ago and she has allowed me to be her “father figure” these past few years. So there was a little more emotional attachment for me. I’m glad she has Bob and firmly believe they will make a beautiful life and God-blessed marriage together. When you think about it, the whole wedding idea is about loyalty, love, and commitment. They pledged their loyalty to each other with “I will keep myself for you and for you only as long as we both will live.”

Second, Jo & I went to our local theater to see Jersey Boys. Frankie Vallie & the Four Seasons were and still are one of my favorite groups.  One element stood out: Frankie’s loyalty to his childhood friend,Tommy DeVito. Tommy owed quite a bit of money to a loan shark (the mob) and it had to be paid back. Frankie was willing to take on close to a million in debt to stand with his friend. I don’t want to say much more because I don’t want to ruin it for you, but suffice it to say it was not a popular move. (BTW- if you plan to see the movie be forewarned: there is a lot of rough language. Lots)

Loyalty in marriage. Loyalty in friendship. Jesus wanted loyalty and warned Peter about his soon-to-be lack of it. He still calls for it from us today.

How would you say your loyalty is these days?