Rebel

Written by cycleguy on August 23rd, 2017

Or maybe you think Radical. Or maybe neither.

I guess it would depend on your perspective. Monday was the day everyone had been talking about for weeks, even months. Some saw it as an historical moment they didn’t want to miss. Others, like my daughter, Tami, saw it as an opportunity to teach her students the value of moments. She went out and bought glasses for all her children and planned a celebration with Moon Pies and CapriSun drinks. How ingenious is that? She is soooo creative! Well…her school system put the kabosh on viewing the eclipse (can anyone say kindergarten students and liability?) so they live-streamed it and still ate the Moon Pies and drank the CapriSuns.  🙂

So…I confess. I did not view the eclipse. I know. I know. How could I? Easy. I didn’t buy any glasses. I prefer to see for the rest of my life. PLUS I don’t think it would be wise staring at the sun/eclipse while driving. I consider that a slightly smarter thing than going blind or having a wreck.  Some will question my sanity. How could you not view something which only comes around once-in-a-lifetime? How could you pass up seeing a wonder of God’s creative genius? Easy. I don’t need proof for that.

I know that’s simple and maybe simplistic and some will even use the word “simpleton’ to describe me. 🙂  But I guess I don’t need to see an eclipse to know of God’s handiwork. I don’t need an eclipse to know that His creative genius was at work when He created the heavens and the earth (Gen.1:1). I see His full display each day I look in a mirror or see a fellow human.  I am not downgrading the thousands who took the time to witness a rare event. I guess I’m not a “fad” person.

I’m a rebel I guess. I just wish all those who witnessed the eclipse could somehow realize the WHO is behind it all and give Him the glory He deserves. It was a beautiful sight, without a doubt (the pictures I saw proved that). But personally, I can’t wait to witness Him face-to-face in all His glory.

Now…if we can only get those idiots who predicted the end of the world and this or that off the airwaves and out of the news that would be something worthy to celebrate as well!

 

Quote

Written by cycleguy on August 22nd, 2017

After yesterday’s sermon someone walked out and handed me this quote. I don’t know her story yet,  but I do know she is grateful for God’s grace in her life.

Your best day is never so good that you don’t need God’s grace; your worst day is never so bad that you are beyond God’s grace.  Jerry Bridges in The Discipline of Grace

What a powerful quote! I’m afraid that many of us declare our day good or bad based on how we feel. This quote debunks the whole myth that our daily lives matter or don’t matter based upon how we feel. Our lives have significance or don’t have significance based on what we do or don’t do. We need to remember that our acceptance by God is not based on performance of any kind-good, bad or indifferent.

I have adopted the daily prayer of needing God’s grace each day. Each moment of every day. Each hour of every day. Each second of every day. Awake or asleep; studying or not; playing or being serious. I want grace to be such a part of me that I think of it when I wake up; think about it when I work; think about it when I play;  think about it when I lay my head on the pillow.

I need to rest in what God really thinks of me: I am His beloved child and He loves me unconditionally.  How about you?

 

LIFE!!

Written by cycleguy on August 20th, 2017

Here’s something for your Monday morning (and your week)!

GRACE

I was studying Saturday and after watching the video I was going to show and re-watching this one, I decided to show this one instead. I love the message. I love the tempo. I love the message. I love the lyrics. Have I told you I loved the message?

It is a message we all need to hear. Bar none. For those of us who are Christ-followers that message rings even more true.

Not much more to add today. Just wanted to brighten your day and hopefully your week with this phenomenal song with a fantastic message.  Have I told you…?

 

Broken

Written by cycleguy on August 17th, 2017

Several years ago I read a book by Ed Underwood called When God Breaks Your Heart. Ed had a severe case of leukemia which manifested itself in skin pealing from his body in scratch-defying itching, a bloated body and countless other problems. In one chapter entitled Snake Oil (aptly titled due to the subject matter) he included several quotes. One was “Christians tell me they don’t know what to say, and then they open their mouths to prove it.” Another was “Hurting people are petty people.”

There comes a time in everyone’s life when strength is gone. We find ourselves on the last bit of will or desire to do much of anything, even living. Life falls apart and sometimes we just don’t know what do, where to turn.

I like what the late A.W.Tozer, a Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor once wrote:

It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.

My sermon this Sunday is titled “More Power to Ya” and my original plan was to show this video. While driving to Ohio this past Monday, I heard this song on my Spotify. I’m using it instead.  Prayers would be appreciated.

I made over a four hour trip yesterday (Wednesday) to visit with a couple I married back in 2000. I received word that Mike had cancer all through his body. He has asked me to perform his memorial service so I went to visit but also to talk about that service. I’d like to ask you to pray for Mike and Sheila. The pain for him will become excruciating and the loss will be numbing for her. Thanks.

 

Change

Written by cycleguy on August 13th, 2017

I’ve written about change a lot. As a pastor, the church is often being challenged to change. Status quo just doesn’t work any more. This is not a slam against churches which prefer hymns as opposed to more contemporary worship. This is not a slam against churches which prefer King Jimmy versus the ESV or some more easily understood translation.

Instead, I want us to take a look at the “why” change is so difficult-for churches-but specifically individuals. I’m seeing this first hand to be honest. My recent back surgery is filled with “Don’ts.” Don’t bend over at the waist. Don’t exercise. Don’t ride a bike. Don’t twist and bend. For 30 days they are asking telling ordering me not to do certain things. Do you know how hard it is to change some ingrained habits? I even went so far as to call them and ask if I could go to the Y since I was bored not being able to exercise. But then my hip and calf started aching so I answered the question myself: I wasn’t ready. So I went for a longer walk than I had before. Yeah…it was too far. I guess they know more than I do?

Change is hard, in all things. What makes change so hard, I think, is the fear of failure. What happens if…? We fear becoming a failure or being seen as one. That is a lie though. Failing to make a change does not make us a failure. That is not who we are. Failure is not getting back up after falling down. We need to stop believing the lie we can’t change. Our enemy wants us to stay entrenched in concrete. The last thing he wants to see is us moving in the power of the Spirit as we allow Him to change us.

I’ve been working on a tentative sermon schedule for 2018 under the working theme of “Accept the Challenge.” Can you guess what one of the series might be on?  🙂

I may be incommunicado for a couple of days. Jo & I are heading to Ohio for Monday and Tuesday. Our grandson, Braden, starts school on Wednesday. He was supposed to come Labor Day weekend to visit but that has changed and if we want to see him before Thanksgiving or Christmas, this is the time.

 

Bellyaching

Written by cycleguy on August 10th, 2017

This is not a post about waking up in the middle of the night with your belly aching.

I’m not sure how common it was in your neck of the woods but in the part of Pennsylvania I grew up in (near Pittsburgh), it was common to hear someone say, “Oh quit your bellyaching!” I’m sure you are smart enough to know they were telling the person to quit complaining and griping.

Seems to me that particular vice comes easily too easily to some people. When it is all sifted and sorted through, bellyaching is nothing more than a snarky attitude about life. It isn’t a new problem either. The people of Israel had a handle fully on that plow. You can see it Numbers 11 and Deuteronomy 1: 19-36. The latter is a pretty well known story of how the Israelites had a chance to move into the Promised Land but allowed the complaining and griping to drown out the reassurance of Joshua and Caleb that they could take that land.

Complaining has no boundaries or class of people it is limited to. Rich and poor. White or black (or any color). Believer or non-believer. You name it; you will find complaining.

Sunday’s sermon continues the series on Grace as I look at this very common trait among people who have been shown grace. Your prayers would be appreciated. By the way: are you a bellyacher? A complainer? Oh yeah…and for your listening pleasure I am showing this video to start the sermon. It’s called a Throwback. Enjoy!!

 

Enjoyment2

Written by cycleguy on August 9th, 2017

In my last post I reviewed the first three books in my blogging friend, Martha Orlando’s, Glade series. You can read that review here. I’d like to review the final three (for now) in her series which she titled Adventures in the Glade.

This series picks up where the other three left off. Jim, Davy’s step-father, has a cousin who was introduced in the first three books. Martha fleshes him out a lot more in these three books, as well as his family and those whom Cousin Ronnie is in league with. Yeah…that’s a Spoiler Alert because I’ve just told you that Cousin Ronnie is rotten to the core and his master plan is to not only take over the house but also the property, which houses the Glade (better known as the place where the Old Ones live).

What I won’t tell you is how it turns out for all the parties. The Old Ones run into some difficulty, especially “Reverend” (the Owl renamed by Davy). Racer, the Grey squirrel (also renamed) plays a prominent part in all three novels as well.

I got into these last three so much I wanted to keep reading. I found myself wondering how this was going to be solved and how that was going to be straightened out. I was surprised (as was Jim) with a certain revelation which comes to light in Book 3.  No Spoiler Alert here because I’m not going to spill the beans. These last three were a thoroughly enjoyable read and a fitting conclusion to the series. Although…like all good writers Martha has left the door open for maybe at least one more book.  I’m hoping she finds the inspiration to do so.

Note to Martha: You did a fine job crafting a good and entertaining series.

Note to you, the reader: check these out. If you have children they would make great stories to read to them (any age) or let them read themselves (I’d say above the age of 10). Like Davy, your children may find a world of fascination not in a video game, a Gameboy, or a TV/DVD, but in books.

 

Enjoyment

Written by cycleguy on August 7th, 2017

I have had some pretty heavy posts lately so I thought I would lighten up a bit. My blogging friend, Martha Orlando, has written a six-book series of “fantasy novels.” I use that word fantasy because I don’t know what else to use. 🙂 Much like the Chronicles of Narnia, they use animals and children to tell a much deeper story. Below is a picture of the first three in The Glade Series. I started reading them well over a year ago but since the second half were not complete at the time, I laid them aside. But since I was unable to do much of anything except sit in a solid chair and read, I decided to pick them up again and read all six. This post will review the first three…The Glade Series.

What would you say to a 10 year old boy who misses his father (died in the military); doesn’t like his new step-father (Jim); argues constantly with his sister; is always angry at his mother; and is now being taken to a house where he will spend the whole summer with his family AND no internet, no TV, and no friends? Yeah, I don’t know either.

But Davy’s first night there he finds something is different and has a surprising encounter with a squirrel (Grey) and an owl (Wise One) that changes his entire summer. Well, let’s just say it changes him. I can’t and don’t want to say too much more because I don’t want to have to write Spoiler Alert in this review. Let’s just say Davy is in for a fantastic summer, along with his whole family, as he meets the “Old Ones.” I thoroughly enjoyed the escape this series offered me. You will too.

I’m glad I went back and reread these three before moving on to the final three (next post).  It was a good refresher for me, plus there was so much I had forgotten. Someone is bound to say, “You are an adult. What are you reading children’s books for?” I would simply say, “Have you ever read the Chronicles of Narnia?” C.S. Lewis wrote those for the children in his life, but they are enjoyed and appreciated by adults as well as children. (least this adult). Martha has written an entertaining Glade Series and I have already passed them on to some of our young children.  I hope you will also give them a read. You can get them from Amazon or directly from Martha’s Glade site.

 

Revenge??

Written by cycleguy on August 4th, 2017

My sermon this Sunday is entitled Don’t Get Mad. Get Even?????

Filled with question marks for a reason.

You may have heard the story of the man who was bit by a dog which was later found to be rabid. The man had contracted rabies and this was a time when nothing much could be done after rabies had set in. The doctor told him everything possible would be done to make him comfortable, but his advice was for the man to get his affairs in order as soon as possible.

The dying man sank back in depression and shock, but finally rallied enough strength for a pen and paper. He began writing furiously.

About an hour later the doctor returned and the man’s pen was still flowing. The doctor said, “I’m glad to see you are taking my advice. Are you working on your will?”

“This ain’t no will, Doc,” the man said. “It’s a list of people I plan on bitin’ before I die.”

We may chuckle at that somewhat fanciful illustration, but I suspect there is something in all of us that can probably relate to that story.  Did you know there is a website called “ThePayBack.com” where it boasts about helping you get revenge? Seriously.

But here is the $1 million question: is that really the answer? Really? No matter how much or in what way we have been hurt. I am of the opinion the answer is no. Never has been and never will be. “Don’t get mad. Get even” is a lousy philosophy.

In the OT we have a living, breathing example of vengeance withheld, actually averted when everything justified it (at least in the perpetrator’s mind). Check out I Samuel 25 for the story.  Prayers for this weekend would be much appreciated. Thanks ahead of time.

 

ForgivenessIsNot

Written by cycleguy on August 1st, 2017

I delayed this post due to the one about ME. But don’t think for one moment that means it is any less important. In fact, there may be a “reason” why I was led to delay posting this. Only God knows I guess. 🙂

This past Sunday I preached on Forgiveness. I told the folks as I was studying for the message I scoured my books for help. I think I almost went book for book, shelf for shelf, looking for ways to help the sermon be a bit more relevant. I found something in a book by Sheila Walsh called The Storm Inside. The chapter was titled Navigating Treacherous Water: From Unforgiveness to Freedom.  I hit, as they say, the mother lode! She began the chapter with a quote from C.S.Lewis:

Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.

Before I share what she wrote, let me preface it by saying that I think many people have the wrong idea of forgiveness. We often think forgiveness = forgetting. I, for one, don’t know that it is humanly possible to forget what has been done to us. So I focused on what forgiveness is not (from her book written in blue):

  • Forgiveness does not say that what the person did was okay; people do many things that are far from okay.
  • Forgiveness does not say that you have to continue in a hurtful relationship with someone who has harmed and will continue harming you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you should stay with someone who is beating the tar out of you or molesting you. GET OUT!
  • Forgiveness is not burying your head in the sand and pretending the offense never happened.  That’s what got you into the mess in the first place.
  • Forgiveness is not denying the pain.
  • Forgiveness does not mean we don’t take the wrong seriously.

Forgiveness is not about removing someone’s liability, but about setting your own heart free. It’s not about the other person’s sin; it’s about your freedom.

I hope you are living in forgiveness and experiencing freedom. If not, maybe these will help.