#FamilyDysfunction

Written by cycleguy on July 19th, 2019

I’ve been absent from this blog this week for a reason. While I have some things churning in my mind, I decided to let them soak a bit more.  For example, the crybaby athletes who think they aren’t getting paid enough. The belligerence of Megan Rapinoe, who does nothing more than play a game, but refuses to put her hand over her heart when the national anthem is being played. “Punishing” a soccer player because her faith would not allow her to wear the Pride colors as a uniform. Reading Costi Hinn’s new book on the Prosperity Gospel and the disgust that boils and wants to come to the surface. Yeah…don’t get me started.  I need time.  🙂

So, let’s go to something else. Sunday’s sermon. I am starting a new series within my theme-of-the-year: “Unsinkable.” My original intention was to put this under Heroes (my last series) but I’m going to be spending several weeks, almost two months on this, so I decided to rename it and pursue another angle.  My subject will be Joseph. My series will be called Icebergs.  It was an iceberg that sank Titanic and it is icebergs that will sink our faith as well.  Joseph’s life is one iceberg after another and I want to use them as a catalyst to teach us how we too can overcome those things that will trip us up if we allow them to.

This Sunday, as you can see by the title, is on his dysfunctional family. I plan to trace his family from the beginning to his present state and show how he overcame a lousy beginning to become the patriarch and the man he did.  Your prayers would be appreciated.

 

#Chosen#ForSuchaTime

Written by cycleguy on July 12th, 2019

At different times in history, people have risen to the occasion. Jesus ascended and 12 men rose to become leaders in the fledgling new church. The church is ruled by the papacy and several men, the most prominent being Martin Luther, rose up to challenge works-oriented salvation and the corruption which was so rampant. In the 1880’s a man by the name of Abraham Lincoln steered our nation during the ugly Civil War and birthing of the Emancipation Proclamation.  Martin Luther King, Jr rose up to challenge the lack of equality of races. The history of our country is filled with heroes who were there for “such a time as this” and I’m sure you could come up with your own favorite person and story.

The phrase “for such a time as this” comes from the book of Esther when Mordecai challenged Esther to go before the king and intervene on behalf of the Jewish people that Haman wanted to eradicate. I think that phrase fits the bill when talking about a woman named Deborah mentioned in Judges 4-5. She became the reluctant leader when Barak refused to take command without Deborah’s backing. It was time to cast off the mantle of Jabin and Sisera that had been choking the Israelite nation.

My sermon Sunday will be looking at this whole scenario and how Deborah, like Esther, became the answer to “for such a time as this. ” Your prayers would be appreciated.

A side note: “Leadership is the ability to get men to do what they don’t want to do and to like it.” Harry Truman.

 

#Don’tQuit#StayingtheCourse

Written by cycleguy on July 10th, 2019

I’ve been reading J.D.Greear’s new book Above All over the past couple of weeks. Yeah…it is taking me awhile due to being out of town and also just trying to digest the meat in the book. I read something today that I liked so well I thought I would pass it along.  {My comment: Ministry is hard work-paid, full-time or otherwise. If you are like me, sometimes you wonder if you are making a difference or even making a dent}.  After using the example of Noah who preached for 100 years and saw no one accept his preaching and “convert” to God’s way of thinking (the world is going to be destroyed), J.D. gave some examples of others who hung in there, didn’t quit, stayed the course. I was fascinated by the examples. Hope you are as well, but I also hope you are helped and encouraged to not quit or give up.

William Carey, the father of modern missions. He was largely opposed even by the Christians in England, who told him that his missionary zeal was misplaced. Despite opposition he left for India in 1793. For seven years he worked before he ever saw his first convert. Do you think he wondered about what the folks back home said and questioned his call?

Robert Moffat was a 19th century Scottish missionary to South Africa. He spent three years (1818-1821) just traveling to his assigned mission post. He and his wife labored faithfully for 10 years with no tangible results. Then God moved and in a period of three years, the number of converts in Moffat’s city went from zero to 120. Imagine if he had quit at year #9.

Adoniram Judson was one of the first American missionaries to Burma. He spent 6 years there before he saw his first convert and he fretted over his confession of faith…largely because of the years of unfruitfulness.

William Wilberforce, a British politician who spent 48 years fighting against slavery. The Slavery Abolition Act was passed 3 days before he died, and he heard about it on his deathbed.

Hudson Taylor in China. Jonathan Edwards with the Mohican Indians.

I had to stop and chastise myself for my lack of faith to stay the course at times. The desire to quit and give up in the ministry because of a lack of fruit. The tears I shed because of no “ministry success.” (Perhaps we ought to ban those two words put together?).  J.D. helped me put things in perspective as we go through a slow time here at OVCF.

#Faithfulness#Don’tQuit#StaytheCourse#NeverGiveUp. Those are to be my monikers. Why not join me make them yours as well?

 

#LittlePeople#YouMatter

Written by cycleguy on July 5th, 2019

It is not unusual to hear people say they feel insignificant. They feel unseen. Or they feel small. I’m not insinuating at all by the hashtag above that “little people” are insignificant. A little person plays a very significant part in one of my favorite shows on TV: MacGyver.  And one of the funniest lines said to me recently by a young boy maybe 4-5 years old is when I said Hi to him, he looked at me and said, “What you looking at flopdoodle?” His mother about died on the spot. She was mortified since she had only been coming to the church for a couple weeks. I howled. It is from the “Little Napoleon” in The Greatest Showman.  It’s a running joke with us now.

People serving God often feel insignificant. They keep thinking they ought to do something bigger. But I am not interested in people looking for the next great thing to do. I love seeing people take care of the littlest thing and taking great pride and joy in it.

My sermon this Sunday is the first of two from Judges. I could have spent weeks in that book but I wanted to stick with my theme of Heroes and keep it short because of the series coming next. So this week my sermon will be from Judges 3:7-31. Three household names: Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar.  🙂

I will have spent the week in Ohio helping to clean Jo’s sister’s apartment so the normal interaction with people and personal connection I like will not be there. But I’m trusting God to bless the meager effort I make to present His Word. I’d appreciate your prayers.  Thanks.

 

#I’mHere#InthePit

Written by cycleguy on June 30th, 2019

After being gone all week to Ohio to help Jo take care of her sister’s things and apartment, I am here for one day.  Her sister was back in the hospital this past week and Jo took care of some legal stuff while I worked a lot at her apartment. I think we made some good progress and with some hard work should be able to finish the labor-intensive part of the clean-up. We were able to have several large items hauled off this past Friday (which included a stove and refrigerator).  The dumpster comes tomorrow (Monday) at 9:00 and then I suspect we will really notice a difference.  I haven’t minded too much doing the work. I know it is helping Jo and it is giving me time to listen to music and work alone but the worst part is her apartment has no A/C. Yeah. You heard that right. NO A/C.  The temps hit the high ’80s this past week and no air was moving so it was quite sweltering. The worst part was at night. We so looked forward to sleeping in air conditioning Friday and last night. We head back today for another week of the same conditions but hopefully it will bring some closure for Jo. By the way: Vicki has been released and is back in the long-term facility.

My sermon today is a follow up to last week’s on the Marks of Integrity.  This one is about the story we have probably heard since we were children.  But there is so much more than Daniel in the lion’s den.  It seems unjust for Daniel to suffer as he did. It seems unjust for people today to suffer for doing good. Or to suffer needlessly (children, sex trafficking, etc). But Daniel serves as a great example to us of how we can survive in a pit with lions.

I know you are probably getting this after the fact but I’d still like to ask you to pray. I pray each week my sermons will last longer than my breath on Sunday. Please pray for that today. And while you are at it, please pray for me and Jo this week. Travel. Working. Her state of mind as she works through all this…aaaah…garbage that keeps getting thrown in her face.  Thanks.

 

#MarksofIntegrity#Follow#Absent

Written by cycleguy on June 23rd, 2019

I find myself in a precarious situation these days. I’m trying to balance being the pastor of OVCF and being a supportive husband to Jo.  In this post about our trip to PA I also mentioned that we would be taking a side trip to Ohio to see Jo’s sister who was put in the hospital.  She has since been placed in a long-term facility and just this past Thursday was placed back in the hospital as the doctor was concerned about her kidney function.  Meanwhile, we found out on that side excursion that she did not have an apartment to go back to. So it falls on me and Jo to clean it and “divest it” of clutter and other items.  So we leaving today (Sunday after worship) and planning to stay the week to get as much done as we can.  On Friday we are heading to Columbus to watch our grandson play baseball then coming home Saturday morning. On Sunday we plan to repeat everything (except watching him play). We have no clue how long it will take to empty her place.  She has no TV, no phone, no internet so I am going to be out of commission unless I can find a Wifi somewhere close by.  So I will be absent from this blog (and possibly my other one) for the week.  So I leave you with this:

Daniel lived a life of integrity. In Daniel 6 there are 4 marks of integrity we find:

  1. His attitude. [Verse 3].  Psalm 75:7 is a good verse to go along with that.
  2. He was faithful at work. [Verse 4]. They could find no grounds for complaint against him.  Pr.20:6-7  is important for us.
  3. His personal purity. [Verse 4b].  Isn’t that interesting? “They could find no complaint against him.”
  4. A consistent walk with God. [Verse 10].  Daniel knew it meant trouble to do what he always did but guess what? He did what he always did!! 🙂

Living a life of integrity is no guarantee things will go well. But we are not here to gain man’s approval. We are to please an audience of One.

Have a great week if I don’t see you here sooner!

 

#IntegrityMatters

Written by cycleguy on June 21st, 2019

Having gone through more than any man should ever go through and possibly more than I have ever known anyone to endure, he said something to me I have never forgotten. He had been a full-time and now was a weekend warrior Marine.  He had been falsely accused of a crime, proven innocent 3 times but his wife ran to another state against court orders.  Her state refused to honor the Indiana court order. He spent all he had. Cashed in all he could. All to fight for his girls. One day we were spending some time walking and talking and he said, “Bill, I would live with a barrel around my waist if it meant I had my girls with me.”

He wanted to live a life of integrity. A father’s group told him to take his girls and run. He didn’t. Her lawyer couldn’t believe his story never changed. Truth-tellers don’t have to worry about that. Only liars do (and hers changed a lot).

Integrity is missing today. Corporations. Schools. Organizations. TV preachers. Pastors. Churches. Say what? Yep, those last two hurt to type. Used to be the pastor was the one most respected in the community. Not any more. And can you blame them?

Daniel was a man of integrity. My sermon this week is called Integrity Matters. I’ll be looking at Daniel 6:1-17 this week. I’d appreciate your prayers for dry weather and for our gathering.

 

#Shepherd#Platform#Integrity

Written by cycleguy on June 19th, 2019

In Psalm 78:72 it says of David “With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with skillful hands.”  Some translations use the word “integrity” for upright.  This verse is talking about David’s approach toward the people of Israel. David served the people as their shepherd with integrity. That verse has always been at the forefront of my brain ever since I read it years ago.  It serves as a challenge to me to shepherd the people i serve with integrity.

Maybe that is why I have not cared whether I became “known” or not.  Oh…wait a minute. That’s not true. There was a time I cared a lot…an awful lot. I would hear of friends of mine who were preaching at large churches or conducting meetings in other churches and the “J” word would kick in. (That would be “J”ealousy for those who are unsure).  But then I began to think about time and schedule. I began to be involved in watching my daughters play ball. I wondered about sermon prep. When did they have the time to do that while jetsetting all over the globe? (Then I found out many of them have assistants who do all the research and sometimes even write the sermons).  I thought about the one thing I really like to do as an aside (cycle) and wondered when could I do that? Certainly not on a plane or in a hotel (stationary bikes are another word for B-O-O-O-R-I-N-G!).  Perhaps the biggest revelation in all this was “finding” the verse from Psalm 78. When would I have the time to be a shepherd?  Now, if I wanted to be a CEO-type  then, by all means, have at it! But I wasn’t called to be a CEO. I was called to be a pastor, a shepherd. The day I realized that was the day I quit worrying about what others thought; how big I could get; how “known” I could be; and became satisfied with being a shepherd of the church God gave me to serve.  Amazing how the perspective changes.  My worst enemy (ME) was put to death that day.

I’d rather be found faithful shepherding my sheep in an obscure, out-of-the-way little town than be serving an image of myself being applauded.  I’d rather be here than anywhere else.

 

#Different#WildandWooly#AllOkay

Written by cycleguy on June 17th, 2019

If you read my post June 16-Weekend Extra from my other blog, you will know the general basis for this post.  Saturday afternoon and evening we had storms rumble through our area. Okay so they did more than just rumble. Some touched down. Yeah, we were “blessed” with the presence of tornadoes. The town proper of Spencer was spared but some of the outlying areas were not so fortunate. A little town a few miles southwest of Spencer called Freedom had a tornado touch down but fortunately it was not deadly. Downed power lines and mangled trees was about all I think. Several others touched down as well. One did some major damage to some barns and houses and a power substation (REMC). The substation which supplies power to the church building. Our house provider is Duke Energy and they had our power back on around 3:00 am Sunday morning.

The church building was another story. When I got there yesterday (Sunday) at 3:45 it was pitch black. I am writing this at 5:25 am on Monday and as far as I know it it is still pitch black. I’m at home so I have power. I’ll check it when I am done working on my sermon. But my purpose of this post is to tell you about our Sunday worship.

OVCF and its leaders have always “prided” themselves in their ability to adapt. Now, as I say that, I am not referring to the attractional church idea of adapting to culture. We have tried to stay “fluid” in our thinking about ways to do things. That was on full display yesterday. I contacted a few folks (Youth pastor, secretary, and Worship Team leaders) and told them about not having any power and can we do an Unplugged service. EVERYTHING, and I mean everything, was unplugged. No lights. No A/C. No plugged in instruments. No cordless mic to speak with. No fans. Well…you get the idea. Diana, the church secretary, sent out a mass email and posted it on the church’s FB page about the time change: one service at 10:45 instead of two (9 and 10:45). Then we waited and wondered if anyone would show up. Over 100 people showed up! Some had lost power for a short period of time. Some had lost it for most of the night. Some still had none. But they came.  We opened blinds for light. The front doors were left open. We put some lanterns in the bathrooms. We did the same in the children’s wing. Those teachers and kids were troopers. We sang. We had communion. We gave. I preached (the weak link in the whole morning). We prayed. We laughed (especially when someone’s phone went off with an emergency signal for flash flooding).  I referenced believers in other countries who meet like this every week due to economics or due to government interference.

It was a good day. I was proud of the folks who make up OVCF. I am honored to be their pastor.  I thank them for their willingness to adapt (in a good way). And I thank God for showing us we don’t bells and whistles to worship Him. All we need are hearts open to Him and willing to meet Him anywhere, anytime, and in any circumstance.

 

#Stand!#Don’tBowDown!

Written by cycleguy on June 15th, 2019

With traveling to PA and then to Ohio my week definitely got away from me as did posting about Sunday’s sermon. Let me put it this way: I started a new series last week that will go through the whole summer. I am calling it Heroes. The first one last week was from Daniel 1. If you read that chapter you know it is the story of Daniel and his 3 friends: Rack, Shack and Benny (as Veggie Tales puts it).  It was titled Cooperation without Compromise. Daniel and his 3 friends had the choice all of us have when confronted by a “test.”

  1. The first option is Absorption. This person basically is absorbed and assimilated into the culture.
  2. The second option is Withdrawal. This is commonly seen in cults and, in the days of the early church, the Essenes. We see this now in the Amish people who believe withdrawal is the best way to avoid evil. (Have I got news for them!)
  3. The third is Cooperation without Compromise. This is the Daniel way. I’d like to encourage you to read Daniel 1 to find out how that happens.

This week’s sermon is called We Won’t Bow Down! Bet you can’t guess what that story is about!! 🙂  If you guessed Daniel’s three friends give yourself a virtual high-five. Daniel 3 is where the story is.  I’m not going to say much more about it here except this- Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego made a choice not to bow down to the image. They were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace when they were given one last chance to change their minds. I love their words: “We believe our God will deliver us but even if not we will not bow down!” WOW!!

So Sunday I’m going to take that very familiar story and try to breathe some life into it so that we can all walk away, especially the dads, with a resolve to stand not bow. Your prayers would be appreciated. Thanks.