#Deeper#IWantTo#AnotherSong

Written by cycleguy on January 18th, 2021

I’m back! It is another Monday and the start of another week. My week will look a tad different as I will be heading to the hospital for a procedure to find out why I am still having residuals from my bout with COVID. I’ll not share with you the details, but I can say it is something I have had every 3 years since I turned 53.  There…that ought to give you enough of a clue.  The start of my week will be anything but exciting, unless, of course, the news is less than stellar.  But I trust in God’s promises and in Him to know He has the intimate details of my life in the palm of His hand.

Yesterday afternoon I was riding my bike on my indoor trainer when I decided to switch gears (no not the bike’s) and listen to some different music. I usually put on Christian rock (yesterday was Skillet) while riding since I don’t have a TV in my Mancave.  I went way back to the late 90’s/early 2000’s and listened to a seminal Christian worship band that was more “rock flavored.” That doesn’t mean they screamed and shouted. It simply means they were a bit more upbeat than the Maranatha/Integrity-flavored fare of the day.  This band wrote and made popular songs like Do You Feel the Mountains Tremble and I Can Sing of Your Love Forever among others. One I always liked hit me where I am right now in my walk with Jesus. Sometimes there is just this hunger to know more and to know HIM more. To have a deeper walk and communion with Him. I think we all go through those times where we just can’t seem to get enough of Him. Then we plateau maybe. Then hopefully we find ourselves yearning for Him some more. I am in the “I want more” stage. I want to learn and read and study. I want God to have more of me.  I want Him to control more of me.  In essence, I want to go Deeper.

And that is the song which struck me as I rode. It is not “rocky” but it most definitely upbeat. Maybe you need to hear this for your Monday and for the week ahead. Hope you enjoy it.  The song is Deeper by Delirious?

 

#Life#Sacred#SpeakUp

Written by cycleguy on January 15th, 2021

Every once in a while a pastor has to-by design or by expository preaching through a book-come across a subject which is uncomfortable or controversial.  I think people are much more forgiving if you are preaching through a book and come across an uncomfortable subject, like say…tithing.  But when a pastor gets on his soapbox or high horse and screams and challenges any opposite view that is when listeners get “antsy.”

This Sunday has the potential to be one of the latter. Way back in September when I doing a series called “Q&A” one of the questions was going to be “What About Abortion?”  I scrapped it because the time was not right (for several reasons). I then chose to not preach about it before the election lest someone think I was hyping a particular political position and was against a certain candidate.

Here is why I held off: I do not believe abortion is a political issue, nor should it be. I believe it is a Biblical issue, a moral issue.  I heard a podcast this past week where Alisa Childers was interviewing John Cooper, the lead singer of the Christian rock band, Skillet. John said the same thing-that it was a Biblical issue.  Anyway, when I started working on the Ecclesiastes series Life Matters, it seemed to fall in line that now was the time.  Couple that with this Sunday being “Sanctity of Life” Sunday and it was like the perfect storm.

I have no intention of being judgmental or to froth at the mouth out of contempt for those who perform or have had, campaign for or even encouraged an abortion. There is enough guilt thrown at them without me adding to it.  My approach is going to be simple and straightforward: How pro-life is the Bible? and How does God see the unborn? A massive amount of Scripture will be used with the final emphasis on Psalm 139: 13-18.

Each week I invite you to join me/us in our worship. We will be live this week with both services being offered in person and live stream.  So I do invite you to join us at 9 & 10:45. However, the best and greatest thing you can do is P.R.A.Y. I want the message of the Bible to come through loud and clear, that the cacophony of voices will be silenced, and God will be heard. Thanks ahead of time.

 

#CustomerService#GoodorBad?

Written by cycleguy on January 13th, 2021

I’m going to blow off a little bit of steam. I will do it nicely and will not even mention the firm’s name since I do not want to cause heartache for the person if for some reason it was to get out. Here is what happened:

There has been an error in my billing from this certain company for close to a year now. When I realized it, I contacted their CS department to try to straighten it out.  She told me they couldn’t do anything about it. Now get this: it was their customer service rep’s fault. They put the service charge on the wrong phone. When we bought Jo a new phone in February, we put a line on her phone for her sister to use in the nursing home. Long story short: she doesn’t even know where the phone is (and probably hasn’t even looked), so I wanted to drop that line and save a line use charge of $25/month.  That sounds good until you look closer and see that the rep put the charges for Jo’s new phone on that line! So I tried to have them drop the charge and make the change. No go.

So I went to the local store rep to see what could be done. She (the store manager) listened and sent a request for a customer acceleration. After going back and forth I also told her I was due (way overdue since I still use an iPhone 5)  for a new phone and if they couldn’t straighten out their own CSR’s mistake why would I consider getting a new one?  Anyway, after several back and forths she told me she could fix it for me. When would be a good time to come in? I told her I was in jail, I mean quarantine for ‘rona so it would need to wait.  After several tries, we set up yesterday, Tuesday, at 1:00.  I get there at 12:45 and find out she stepped out for a few minutes to go check on her dog but she would be back in time. He asked my name and it should have been my first clue when my name was not on the list. So Jo and I waited…and waited…and waited.  Very patiently I might add. At 1:20 we left. I have yet to hear from her.

I hope you won’t take this wrong but I began thinking about the church and each individual person. As a church we are representatives of Jesus. But we are also representatives of our church family. When people walk into our church building (or see us online) how are they treated? Are we kind? Engaging? Welcoming? Did they find us real or planted there with fake, plastic smiles?

My feelings about this company were not enhanced by the discourse over the past two months, and most definitely by yesterday’s failed connection.  I’m hard-pressed to still consider this company as a carrier for my new phone.  Let’s not make the same mistake with our churches. The solution is us. Not “let someone else take care of it.” You be the rep!!

 

#GreatDay!#PraiseSong

Written by cycleguy on January 11th, 2021

As many of you know I have have Covid since before Christmas. I tested the Monday before (the 21st) and received a positive call on the 23rd. I stayed in jail, I mean quarantine, until Monday, the 4th, even though I was done on December 30th. Just wanted to be safe. It sapped all my strength. I slept more in one night than I think I had the previous year.  (Yeah…slight exaggeration but it sure felt like it).  Anyway, there are some symptoms that have “hung on” that have made life a bit uncomfortable at times. But Saturday I had had enough. I put my bike on my inside trainer and rode for 30 minutes. I think for the first time in weeks I felt alive.

It was during that ride that I ran across a song which literally rocked me. I was about 20 minutes into the ride when a song came on my Spotify playlist, one I had never heard before.  As I rode my bike tears flowed and my hands were raised to the Father in absolute wonder and praise. I though I would start your week off with a good song to fill your heart and mind with. Enjoy!

And here is the song:

 

#Wisdom#Pleasure#Empty

Written by cycleguy on January 8th, 2021

Henry David Thoreau once said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

I’m guessing he is not too far from the truth.

In the 80s, the rock group Foreigner had a song that haunted many and if given to reality and truth, still does. The song’s big refrain was “I want to know what love is/I want you to show me.” I’m pretty certain the writer of Ecclesiastes never heard of Foreigner, but that song has every human being’s name on it. You see, no matter who we are; no matter how old we are; no matter our language, time or place; we all want to know what love is and that we are.

My sermon Sunday is the second installment on my two month series on Ecclesiastes. In Eccl. 1:12-2:11 Solomon shows the emptiness of chasing wisdom and pleasure.  We will be virtual again this week due to our desire to keep our people safe, and even though our governor has said nothing about churches, our County is in the Red which is 25 or less in one place. Given the strike of Covid on our congregation, that may be a stretch to even reach that. But we are playing it safe.  I’d love to have you join me online at 10:45 at the church’s FB page or YouTube channel.

I found the perfect song for this week and I’m guaranteeing it will surprise you. Check it out here

 

#NewYear’sMessage#Guest

Written by cycleguy on January 3rd, 2021

Sometime in 2019 (yeah tha-a-a-a-t long ago) Jo and I ran across a show we made a staple. We were actually late to the party since they had already cancelled their show for the purpose of refocusing. Understand. HGTV did not cancel the top-rated show. They did. The show was Fixer Upper starring Chip and Joanna Gaines. I loved the show, watching them do what they did. I did not nor do I care about what people thought about the changes they made, nor whether it was put on or not (it was not). Jo once said, “Good grief, Bill. I think I found your alter-ego.” Not in the handyman category to be sure, but in his sense of humor, love of life, silly antics, and tireless energy. I was honored she said that. Anyway, coming sometimes in 2021 on their own network is a new Fixer Upper. I’ll watch it providing our cable provider supplies it or we can stream it.

All that say: I get their blog sent to my blog reader. This is the first I can remember that Chip actually wrote one. Joanna is the real “thinker” of the two. But at the first of the year, Chip wrote a blog, A New Year’s Message from Me (Chip). It was so good I thought I would share it with you.

Let’s just call it like it is: 2020 was rough. Not rough around the edges. Not rough in a lovable sort of way. Just straight up rough.

Watching the news, hearing messages of doubt, and division, stories of loved ones passing away, seeing so many lose their jobs and live at odds with their neighbors. That stuff gets to me, it’s heartbreaking, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

But you don’t need another reminder of what this year cost. Across the board, we all lost something. We all sacrificed something. We all watched something we had worked incredibly hard for be put on hold or forgotten or lost altogether. And without a doubt, we need time to grieve and reflect on the heartbreak, the sadness, and the loss.

But maybe today is a time to be reminded that darkness always gives way to light, that endings always give way to new beginnings. That the ups don’t last forever, and neither do the downs. Between peaks there are always valleys, and no matter how long we’re in the valley, we can always look up and see that we’re not just wandering around in vain, that hope really does carry us forward.

It’s been said that there’s a time for everything. A time for weeping and a time for laughing. A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to mourn and a time to dance. We’ve all lived through these varying seasons before, but never all together. This year changed that.

And it got me thinking.. whatever it is that divides us pales in comparison to the thread that weaves us together, that guides us toward an understanding of why we’re all here. What it all means. What this life we’ve been given is really for.

For me, as I step into 2021, I know we can all love more. We can all understand more. We can all listen and learn more. We get a say in how we respond to all that’s happened in 2020, how much hope we’re going to carry across the valley and how much light we’re going to shine into the darkness. Through the words we speak. Through forgiveness. Through how we engage with our neighbors. Through the way we empathize with those who have lost in unimaginable ways. Through the way we talk to our kids about all that’s going on. Through the way we support those in need. We get to decide how much goodness and beauty is shared throughout our homes, our cities, the world. Right now, wherever we are.

I pray we take with us the eternal lessons of 2020 and hold fast to the hope that is just around the corner.

— Chip

Eternal lessons of 2020 and hold fast to the hope. Sounds like the Apostle Paul could have written those words. I agree with Chip. We can all love more. We can all listen and learn more. I personally think that how I act in 2021 shows how I was affected by 2020.  I was going to post the following song in my end of the year post but decided to wait until it fit better. It does now. Again, I know this will not be many of your “cup of tea.” If you can’t stand the music mute it and watch as the words scroll across the page. Let’s Make Love Great Again.

 

 

#SameOldSameOld

Written by cycleguy on January 2nd, 2021

I often heard a quote in the past so I decided to look up its origin. Seems like it is credited to Edmund Burke and a Spanish philospher, George Santayana (no that is not Santana). Winston Churchill changed it somewhat in his 1948 speech before the British Commons. The essence of that quote-even though its wording has been changed somewhat is this: “Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”  I suspect most of us would agree with that statement. How many times have we been admonished on a personal level to “learn from your mistakes?”

In 2008 the Penn State University football team was embroiled in a public scandal of the conduct of its players. Former Lion, Matt Millen, in an attempt to put it in its biblical context said, “If people out there are thinking that this is new, let me just give you a little bit of Scripture. Ecclesiastes. Nothing is done what hasn’t been done before.”

As I read and reread Ecclesiastes I can’t miss that lesson. Nor this one: satisfaction is not found in things we can taste, touch, or feel, things we can experience. Satisfaction is found in only one place: a life surrendered to Jesus Christ.

My study for the next two months will be on this somewhat obscure book found following Proverbs in the OT.  We will learn through studying Ecclesiastes that everything is vanity and whatever we think we have here on earth will amount to nothing in the end. Join me please for the next two months as we study this intriguing book on Sunday mornings.  Due to the influx of the China virus in our congregation (by those who attend and those who have stayed home), we will be virtual at least one more week…possibly a couple more until we are sure it is under control. If you go to the church’s website you will find the links to both the church’s FB page and YouTube link. If you can’t join us, please pray for us.

 

#EndofYearThoughts#Warnings

Written by cycleguy on December 30th, 2020

If you read my other blog-Living in the Shadow-you know I said I would be taking a break from my blog until next Monday, January 4th. But every year on this blog I feature some items that have caught my eye; a warning or two I might issue; and I always…ALWAYS…include a song. So here is my end of the year post with a random inclusion of ideas.

I read something this morning from 40 Days of Grace by Paul David Tripp that set my mind for an end of the year reckoning. These are all from Day 12-pages 30-31.

“We don’t grieve our sin because we don’t see it. It is ironic that we tend to see the righteousness we don’t and we fail to see the stains every day of our lives.

Here’s how confession works.  You cannot confess what you haven’t grieved, you cannot grieve what you do not see, and you cannot repent of what you have not confessed.

So cry out today for eyes to see, that is, for accurate personal insight…Because of him, you don’t need to be afraid of your unrighteousness; no, it is your delusions of unrighteousness that are the grave danger.” {End quotes}

There is always reflection that takes place at the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one. But the reflection is worthless if honest stock is not taken at the time of introspection. As Tripp implies we often get enamored by our own unrighteousness and don’t see the unrighteousness in us. Sort of like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. They were so blinded by their own self-righteousness they couldn’t see past the log in their eye.

And Tripp was so right! How can I truly confess my sin if I have not grieved over that sin. And how can I grieve over that sin unless I see it? Real, honesty confession requires, no demands, complete honesty in seeing my sin for what it is.

May the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 bring a new honesty to me.

So…there is my spiritual thought for the end of the year.

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One of the things “I predict” for 2021 is a greater assault on historic, orthodox Christianity. I once thought the old Emergent heresy/tripe/garbage had died an inglorious death. I could have only wished. My reading this past year has shown me that it is alive and well in “spiritual thought leaders” like Brian McClaren, William Paul Young, Richard Rohr, Tony Jones, Michael Gungor, Jen Hatmaker, the late Rachel Held Evans, and others. (Rob Bell used to be a big one also).  It has a new handle called “Progressive Christianity.” If you question my thoughts on its devastation to historic Christianity then you need to read Alisa Childer’s book, Another Gospel?I reviewed it here.  And may I also suggest you listen to Alisa’s podcast? She is engaging and has guests who study so-called Progressive Christianity. In fact, she went through a faith struggle of her own.

When it comes to reading material I am all for learning. But we also need to be careful what we feed our minds. GIGO was a famous moniker back in the early computer age. I propose that same thing applies to our reading. Filling our mind with garbage; books about mediation by Deepak and others; filling our minds with books like mentioned above are dangerous to our souls. I don’t always agree with what I read but I work hard at filtering out what shouldn’t be there. I am on a mission in 2021 to read those books which enrich me with spiritual knowledge, knowledge gleaned from a proper view of God and Scripture.

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Finally, I know I’ve gone on long. But I have to include a song. One is an end of the year song. One is a song for 2021.  First the end of the year song. I know it probably not your cup of tea but the 80s never died. They are sleeping. 🙂  And have they aged? You tell me. The voice has definitely lowered (as expected).

I have renewed my “love affair” with my all-time favorite band, DeGarmo & Key. This is absolutely my favorite song by them. It shows its late 70s vibe but the lyrics are what I expect for 2021. Please give it a listen.

Have a great end of the year and a good start to the new one.  See you in 2021.

 

#CCReflections

Written by cycleguy on December 28th, 2020

I posted this on my other blog. I thought I would post it here also.

Christmas reflections:

Friday-After a positive Covid test for me, Jo and Tami and some positive tests for the staff and friends of each of us, this is a really strange Christmas. It was going to be anyway because Janna and Braden were not going to be here. But even Tami can’t come over. This devotion may be a little longer than normal due to my observations but also because it will cover 3 days of observations.

Every year it seems we hear certain refrains from spiritual leaders, i.e. pastors.

  • Slow down. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have said that. “Pull away from the hustle and bustle and slow down,” I’ll say. Well, this has certainly been one of the by-products of covid isolation.
  • Stay home. No problem. And when I have said this in the past it was not a covid-ordered government mandate. We travel a lot visiting family and friends all over the place. We aren’t allowed to go out of the house so staying home is the norm. If we had gone to Ohio today we would have been snowed in. They got a ton of snow! White Christmas indeed! So we stay home and maybe watch some Christmas movies. {Note: we didn’t. Neither one of us felt like it}
  • Refocus. Honestly, how can you not? Gifts will be opened rather quickly instead of one at a time like we normally do going around the room. So when that is all done we get to focus on the real gift.

Saturday– This will forever be remembered in history as CC- Covid Christmas. Yesterday was strange. We Facetimed Tami as we opened gifts-she in her apartment and us here. We would have welcomed her here but MCCSC (her school corporation) monitors her during covid. So it was safer. Later Janna Facetimed us with Braden so we could see what he got. Everything was “Air this and Air that.” I guess I don’t see the fascination with giving a retired basketball player, whose stuff is made in China, all that money…but that’s me. All in all yesterday was an uneventful day. Lazy. Watched a little TV then head back to my “cave” to fall asleep. Other than the no taste and no smell issues, and a few others, the biggest by-product is the desire to sleep. I have slept more in the last week than I have in the last year. I remember Pastor Greg Laurie saying that was his biggest issue (wish I could say that). Some of that is boredom since I can’t concentrate on reading. I’m going to try to study today since I preach virtually tomorrow. Praying for extra grace today as I prepare for tomorrow.

Sunday– I’m writing this after the fact.  Sunday seemed to go off okay without a hitch. We were immensely blessed by the anonymous gift that allowed us to purchase the upgraded equipment. All in all though, I thought it went well. I chose to sit instead of standing. I’m not sure my stamina would have been there to stand the whole time and preach and remember.

Sunday afternoon was tough. I was weary but when I tried to eat some soup it didn’t stay in my stomach very long. But you don’t want here that saga. 🙂 It was a lazy day as they have all become. One family was really kind and brought some soup and crackers, a couple of baked potatoes, and some other items. Friday one family blessed us with Ensure and Pedialyte for me, some veggies  and soup and crackers. Saturday one family blessed Jo with some Zero and Diet Coke. I’m not sure about the other two on staff but I certainly can’t complain how we have been taken care of. Plus the texts and emails have been nice. Oh yeah…one family brought us a Christmas meal on Christmas evening after their family Christmas. Not that we could eat it or taste it. 🙂

Jo and I called it a day at 8:00. Yep 8:00. Seems to be about the norm these days. I’d like to believe I am on the mend. It has been a week since my test but well over that since I started showing symptoms. I should have been more honest and aware and introspective with myself. Gone to be tested sooner. Not gone to Ohio. Funeral? But hindsight is 20/20 and there is nothing I can change. It seems strange the way it has hit us all about the same time and in the same way. Others also have got it-part of our friends group-so there is a common denominator there somewhere. But who wants to try to figure that out. Not me. It is what it is.

I’ll close by saying I’m looking forward to putting this behind me and moving forward.

 

#Positive#WastingLife

Written by cycleguy on December 26th, 2020

It seems no matter how hard one tried there seemed to be no way to avoid the China virus. I am no exception. Nor is Jo. Nor is Tami. Nor is Diana or her husband, Jim. Nor is Ryan and his wife, Hope. It hit like a landslide and there was nothing any of us could do about it. It wasn’t just us. Some of our friends as well. So we have been quarantined since Monday and if we finally get symptom free our breakout day will be Wednesday or Thursday. Jo, Tami and I were tested Monday.  So, needless to say, in-church is not meeting Sunday. We are doing all virtual. Since Ryan, Jo and I are all positive it will be just us three in the morning. Your prayers would be appreciated.

As for the sermon? Well, it is the end of truth. That sounds bad since truth will never die. It is the end of the year long theme of “Truth!” Sunday’s sermon will be Back to the Future. I subtitled it “Don’t Waste Your Life.” It will be a quick look over this past year and a challenge for 2021. I’ll share some of my thoughts in another post or two.

I’ll also unveil my theme for next year with a new banner thanks to my techgeek, Ryan. What a gem of a friend God gave me! 

You can watch Sunday’s sermon via live stream on the church’s FB page or YouTube. I hope you will join me. The links are on the church’s website.