Written by cycleguy on July 28th, 2016


“Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.”ย  (Doc Brown in Back to the Future)

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost in “The Road Not Taken.”

When I started working on this sermon a couple of months ago, I had the Scripture (Psalm 1), came up with the title, then allowed my mind to drift (that happens quite often actually) when a song came to my mind: “Life in the Fast Lane” by the Eagles. I hadn’t heard it in a number of years and thought maybe I could use it. Aaaaah no. The morals and language are atrocious so while I stuck with the title I made the wise (but easy) decision not to include the song. ๐Ÿ™‚ย  My title? “Life in Which Lane?”

Psalm 1 gives two very distinct and two very divergent lanes to choose to walk. I’m not sure there is a clearer distinction made anywhere else in Scripture with this clear-as-a-bell comparison. Simply put: Righteous vs. Unrighteous. Godly vs. Ungodly.


Update: the group in New Orleans has had a hot, sweaty, and sometimes very wet week. They were able to finish the shed which another group had started for the 2nd Rose of Sharon Church. Half of today and all of Friday is a free day to visit and look around. They will be making the long trip home on Saturday.

Please pray for both the sermon and their safety. Thanks.



Written by cycleguy on July 25th, 2016

When I wrote yesterday’s post I knew very little about the mission Jo and all the others were going to work at.

After (if my calculations are correct…and they may be off an hour or two) a 14 hour trip on Saturday and another 6-7 on Sunday they arrived at the Team Effort base. They stayed in dorms the Methodist church built for groups such as ours. There is one other group there.

Today (Monday) they have been working at 2nd Rose of Sharon Church, an African American church (I am guessing). The pastor is A-A. They have been building a shed for them. Jo says the church building itself needs work but their group is tasked with the shed. She sent me pictures and they showed everyone pitching in. She said the young people who went are amazing. That is so cool to hear!

We texted back and forth and one of the things she said was this area was hit hard by Katrina (as was all of Louisiana). The water was over the roofs of the houses. You know…pictures can tell a story but until you see it up close, I’m not really sure the picture is accurate.

The work has been hard. It has been crazy, steamy hot. But there is also a sense of satisfaction of a job well done. Plus the whole idea of serving Jesus by helping others. So please continue praying for the 9 I mentioned in yesterday’s post. Thanks.



Written by cycleguy on July 24th, 2016

Not much to write this particular post. That is not saying I have nothing to say.

Just ask those who know me.

“Bill? Nothing to say? Are we talking about the same Bill?”

I’m just asking for prayers this particular post. Not for me.

Yesterday (Saturday) 9 people in two vehicles took off for New Orleans (NO) to do some mission work with an organization called Team Effort. NO is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. It was unclear exactly what the group would be doing. Building. Clean up. Landscaping. Just don’t know.

However, included in that group of 9 was some very precious cargo…Jo (my wife to you who are uninitiated). When Amanda, a wife of the father and two children on the trip was unable to go due to her mother’s health crisis, Ryan E. asked Jo to go as a chaperone for the 3 girls. So they took a Ford Excursion and my Frontier. It will be hot and humid and stinky and dirty then be followed up with a long, long trip home Saturday. Here is the list of people:


Ryan East (our youth pastor)

Ryan S with two of his teens, Keegan and Aleah.

Donnie and MaryRose (step siblings)

Elizabeth (a Freshman girl & friend of MR)

Josiah (a Taylor University sophomore who has been helping Ryan this summer)

It will be a challenge for all. Thanks for praying.



Written by cycleguy on July 21st, 2016


Bunky Knudsen was spoiled. He lived with his parents in a huge mansion, complete with servants and all the other privileges of life in the upper class. Bunky’s father was president of General Motors, and one particular phone call between Bunky and his father would have erased anyone’s doubts about Bunky being spoiled.

It was the first day of summer vacation before Bunky’s senior year of high school. Bunky was sleeping in, as he planned to do all summer. But around 8:00 his father called.

“Bunky,” he said, “how fast could you get down to the factory?”

“I could be there in about an hour,” Bunky replied.

“Well, son, I’ve got a gift for you. I’d like to give you a brand-new 1927 Chevrolet.”

“Dad, I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

When Bunky got down to the GM plant, his father took him past all of the assembly lines to an old, dusty warehouse in the back corner of the property. He took a key out of his pocket, unlocked the rusty old padlock, and opened the double doors of the warehouse. There before Bunky’s eyes was his brand-new 1927 Chevrolet…in several thousand pieces.

Bunky Knudsen’s father was a very wise man. He knew that his son was spoiled and that it would be unwise for him to waste the months of summer. So he found a way to motivate Bunky to work from 7:00 in the morning until 10:00 or 11:00 every night. As Bunky excitedly assembled all of the pieces of his new Chevy, something else was going on. He was literally learning the car business from the ground up.

Story taken from Gettin’ There by Steve Farrar

I’m a father. But I admit my most-feared words as my girls were growing up was Some Assembly Required. I am not the most nimble in the use of my hands. Okay…so I’m close to (but totally) useless. Let’s just say it is a challenge!

This week’s message is titled Trail Boss: The Sequel. Part one looked at the first three verses of Psalm 23.ย  This week’s will consider the final three verses (4-6) with the idea of proof we are loved. As I did this week in a series of posts, I plan to share some thoughts next week with you from these verses. I’d appreciate your prayers. Thanks.



Written by cycleguy on July 19th, 2016



Lesson #3 of the Trail Boss is he provides


“He restores my soul.” The word for restores can mean bring me to repentance. But since the word translated soul is actually life, it means being restored to health-physically and spiritually.

Phillip Keller tells the story of what is called a “cast down” sheep. A heavy, fat, or long-fleeced sheep will lie down comfortably in a depression or little hollow in the ground. It may roll on its side to stretch out and relax. The center of gravity shifts so that it turns on its back far enough that the feet no longer touch the ground. Panic sets in and they start to paw frantically. That makes it worse and they roll over even further. Now it is impossible to turn over and regain its footing and in this position gases build up in the body, cutting off circulation to the legs, and it is often just a matter of hours before the sheep will die.

Mr. Keller would look for circling buzzards and run to that point. He would then slowly turn the sheep over by straddling it and standing it on its legs, all the time rubbing them while talking to her. He was trying to restore the circulation. When they did start to walk they would stumble, stagger and collapse in a heap. Little by little the sheep would regain its legs and scamper back to the flock.

For those of us who are Christ-followers we will sometimes find ourselves “on our back.” We need restored. God is in the restoration business.

So ends lesson #3.

Again I am indebted to A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller for his insights.



Written by cycleguy on July 18th, 2016

Lesson #2 in the Trail Boss idea comes from Psalm 23:2:

“He leads me beside still waters.”

Although sheep thrive in dry, semi-arid country, they still require water.ย  The body of a sheep is composed of about 70% water on the average. It maintains body metabolism, and is necessary for proper organ function. If the supply of water drops off the animal’s tissue begins to dehydrate and can cause serious damage.

You can’t drive sheep like you drive cattle. The ’60s TV show Rawhide had a theme song which said, “Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ keep those doggies rollin’, Rawhide.” Funny. Seven years later they still hadn’t reached market. ๐Ÿ™‚ย  If Mickey D’s had waited on those cattle we might be eating veggie burgers today. (Yeah…I know…bad).

You can’t drive sheep. Pastors need to learn this. I am sometimes asked why I don’t pound the pulpit more and scream and yell and send people to hell for doing or not doing such-and-such. The answer is easy. First, that old man died long time ago and I hope I never find him. Second, I remember something Charles Stanley once said,

Shepherds don’t beat sheep; they feed sheep.

Sheep trust the shepherd to lead them to cool, clear, clean water. If they drink from dirty, polluted water they end up sick, eaten alive with parasites.

You do see the connection do you not? ๐Ÿ™‚

So ends lesson #2.

Again I am grateful to Phillip Keller’s book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 for a lot of this information.



Written by cycleguy on July 18th, 2016

In the settling of the west, the Trail Boss was responsible for getting the pioneers/settlers to their destination as safely as possible.ย  A good one knew the lay of the land, where there was water-pools, running and sometimes overflowing streams-Indians, other towns/settlements and how to deal with issues that arose.

Sunday, I used the idea of the western Trail Boss to describe what God does for us by using the first three verses of Psalm 23 (this coming Sunday is the last three). I’d like to suggest a book I used during my study: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller. Keller was a rancher/shepherd and his work was invaluable to me in my study.

The Trail Boss Provides Rest- “he makes me lie down in green pastures”. Sheep have four requirements before they will lay down. Free of fear. Free of friction within the flock. Free of pests. Free of food (none in keeping with the “f” alliteration). ๐Ÿ™‚

It was the shepherd’s responsibility to make this happen for his sheep. Keller talks about the danger of predators to sheep and how his ewes would drop their lambs due to dogs or other predators. He wrote about 9 of his ewes dying from fear of a cougar.

Jesus once said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”ย 

So ends the first lesson.



Written by cycleguy on July 14th, 2016


The great philosopher, Bob Dylan, once said, “Most of the time I’m half-way content.”

A great leadership principle says, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

When I was a high school student working in a dairy store, I had a bad habit. The owner would have me move merchandise, wipe it down, rotate it and rearrange the shelves. Okay that’s one job I could do. My trouble came when I was also expected to run the register, oversee the front, cut meat, dip ice cream for people, answer questions and offer help finding things if necessary. I would leave the shelves undone or forget they were messed up. I wasn’t (and still am not) a very good multi-tasker.

In his book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Philip Keller tells about “marking” his sheep. They had to catch each ewe and lay her ear on a wooden block and then notch it deeply with the razor-sharp edge of the knife. This same process was used with slaves to show ownership. It was hard for a slave to run away and go unnoticed because of the mark. It also told another landowner that he/she was the property of another.

My message this Sunday is entitled Trail Boss and will cover Psalm 23:1-3. In one of my posts next week I plan to share some thoughts from the message. Your prayers are appreciated.



Written by cycleguy on July 13th, 2016

Not as in “That’s not fair!”

This is Fair week for Owen County.

Jo, Tami and I have spent the past two evenings at the fair. I suspect I will go at least one more time.

We have a number of our young people who take part in the Fair exhibits. 4H is real big around here. What I like though is the opportunity young people have to showcase their abilities. Not just with animals. Art (Last night I saw one of the most phenomenal drawings of a lion by an 8th grader I have ever seen). Imagination. Clothing. Cooking. Gardening. Hobbies. So diverse in showcasing what they really enjoy.

A number of our kids won ribbons, Grand Champion, and State Fair Entry. I wouldn’t even dare name them.

Certain things stand out at any fair. Food. Fun. Smell (Sorry couldn’t do an “F” there). The animal barns and shows are an interesting breed. Getting hogs to walk and be cooperative reminds me of many people I have known in churches I have pastored. ๐Ÿ™‚ They get to use a little wand to help them direct the pigs. My use of a wand could get me in trouble. 2×4 anyone?

It is fun watching the kids care for and then show their animals. They reap the reward of that time and effort. Well done young people!

Nothing big today. My cheers go out to all the young people-here and elsewhere- who take the time and discipline to showcase their talents. A bigger cheer goes out to the parents of said young people.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚



Written by cycleguy on July 10th, 2016

I realize forgiveness is a much-talked about subject. That’s okay. I talked about it some more today (Sunday).ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  In my mind, I can never talk about it or grace enough.

Psalm 130 opens with a cry from the depths by the psalmist. What is in question is why is he in the depths? Is it because of suffering or because of sin? Both are legitimate thoughts. I said that in my sermon. But I also felt there was a big need to let people know if he is speaking of sin there were four thoughts to keep in mind:

  1. God’s forgiveness is inclusive. Verse 4 tells us that. We would do well to stop putting a premium of one over another.
  2. God’s forgiveness is for now. The verse uses the word “is.” The Hebrew grammar is even more intense. There is no verb. It literally says, “With You forgiveness.”
  3. God’s forgiveness is for those who want it. Confess sin; don’t cover it up. The psalmist is pleading for mercy.
  4. God’s forgiveness leads to godly living. Verse 4 says, “that you may be feared.” I can hear some saying, “Wait! Shouldn’t that say loved?” Biblical fear has to do with a reverence and awe of God.

The important thing to remember is this: forgiveness is not dependent on feeling forgiven. God’s promise is unfailing.

I know there wereย  those in attendance who needed to hear that. (And probably some not there). Maybe you do as well.