ManUp!

Written by cycleguy on April 28th, 2016

familymatters

As you can probably figure out my sermon this Sunday is about and for men. I know that leaves out a significant number of those who will be here but never fear! That other significant number will be praised the next week. (Mother’s Day for the uninitiated…or if you happen to have forgotten). I am a firm believer that much of the “success” of both a marriage and a home depends on the man of the house. Sadly, we live in a time where men have abdicated the leadership role of the family and have become more invisible than ever.

In fact…I have three somewhat familiar initialed words to describe many husband/fathers today:

MIA– Missing In Action. They are missing in their marriages, their homes, their jobs, and their interactions with others.

POW– Prisoner of War. Many men are held prisoner, hostage. Some as a result of their own battles from the past and some as a result of current battles like lust, greed, desire for things, power, etc.

PDY– Present for Duty. This one is familiar to military people. It stands for one who reports for duty. This man shows up. He is accountable. He’s there. He is a difference maker.

It is not easy being a husband/father/man who shows up. We need to ManUp!

Interestingly, we scheduled a Men’s Getaway at our church camp for Friday night/Saturday morning. We have a great getaway planned. But I’m going to ask you to pray for us please. And then would you please include Sunday? Along with everything else, we have a Day of Service planned…mostly all outdoor activities. Oh yeah…90% chance of rain. So we have been praying for it not to rain or to hold off until we are done. 🙂 Join us won’t you?

 

Healing

Written by cycleguy on April 27th, 2016

WARNING: Disturbing and explicit content follows (that is not headline hype)

So…I started reading Dan Allender’s book, Healing the Wounded Heart last night. The subtitle is “The Heartache of Sexual Abuse and the Hope of Transformation.” I made it through the Introduction and Chapter 1 before my body and eyes gave out (sleep-induced). I find the situation this book is written about an all too-familiar scenario these days. Scary. I read a lot of “heavy” stuff-disturbing stuff-in that first chapter. Here is the first:

The period in which we now live may well go down in history as the Erotic Age. Sexual love has been elevated into a cult. Eros has more worshipers among the civilized men today than any other god. For millions the erotic has completely displaced the spiritual. (see below for author and year)

But this one disturbed me even more:

There is an emerging cultural trend where many young woman learn to trade sex and its allures-sexual favors and/or sexy dressing-for popularity, long before they step onto a college campus. Young girls and women as early as middle school and certainly by high school barter their sexed-up bodies for status.  (Donna Freitas-2008)

I’m not naive. I know there are multiple factors which play into the current “sexual craze” we are experiencing. Certainly pornography has played a part. Certainly media access (internet) has played a part. Alcohol plays a part in many cases. So it can’t be all thrust on the female gender. I highly doubt anyone would argue when I say we live in a “hook-up sex” culture.

But I do like the direction this book will be taking. There is healing and transformation available. It will take time and lots of tears, pain and agony but the end result is a healed person-male and female. I know this is not my typical post. It can even be seen as a downer. Please don’t see it that way. See it as positive encouragement toward healing and transformation. After all…that is God’s desire.

First quote by A.W.Tozer in 1959 (And we say some old guys aren’t relevant?)

 

Movies

Written by cycleguy on April 25th, 2016

It has been silent here in Cycleguy’s Spin Land lately. Sort of on purpose. But sort of not.

Ryan, our youth pastor, was gone for almost 17 days to Liberia on a mission trip. I found myself (for some strange reason) busier than normal. Maybe self-imposed…I don’t know. I went to a musical our high school choir did (Beauty and the Beast…a marvelous job). I attended a number of group functions where my presence was requested. I had a memorial service as a favor to a friend. I visited in the nursing home and hospital (part of what I do anyway). I rode my bike and went to the Y.

I also attended a couple movies. Our local theater, the Tivoli, has a throwback Thursday once a month. The movie this month was one of my favorites, Gladiator. I had never seen it on the big screen and Jo had never cared to watch it with me at home. She went with me and liked it! She was also bummed. Her first words to Tami when we got home were (spoiler alert: he died!).  I chuckled.

We also attended two faith-based movies. Two weekends ago we saw “Miracles from Heaven.” I honestly did not know what to expect. I thought it was well-acted. I’m glad “easy answers” weren’t given. Except for the annoying people in the church who said, “You don’t have enough faith” that is. Gr-r-r-r-r-r. I am also shaky on the whole “I went to heaven and met Someone idea” so that would be my only real rub. I thought the movie was excellent and would be a good conversation starter. Oh…bring tissues with you.

This past weekend we saw “God is Not Dead 2.” We both enjoyed this movie. I thought it was better than the first. Why? Because I understood it a whole lot more. The other was more “braniac-ish” (I fall short in that area) as he tried to prove there was a God. #2 was closer to home in that it was like reading the daily media frenzy of someone who speaks up/stands up for their faith. You know…the whole “we want tolerance unless you disagree with us then we will become intolerant” issue. It was well-acted and brought out some good discussion points.

There you have it. Ramblings from a mind that is always spinning. Slow mo sometimes but still spinning. 🙂

 

Permanence

Written by cycleguy on April 21st, 2016

familymatters

You have probably heard the story of the little girl who was telling the story of Snow White to her mom and after Prince Charming kissed her, Suzie stopped and said, “And you know what happened next?”

Her mom said, “They lived happily ever after!”

“No,” Suzie said. “They got married.”

Well…it is no secret that seems to be more often true than not these days. Rest easy though folks. This is not a condemnatory post about the evils of divorce. No sense in that anyway.

One thing for sure: the world has changed, and it’s going to keep changing. Some change is good; some is not. Spencer’s downtown became a ghost town because of businesses moving out or just being unable to make ends meet. Over the past year or so there has been a strong effort to change that. I’m glad to  be a part of that.

Marriage, well the concept of marriage, has changed over the years. God’s ideal has not. My new series is called (as you can see) Family Matters. The first is “Making it Last.” The second I’m calling “ManUP!” The third is “Unique by Design” (Mother’s Day). And then two I am really excited about and will tell you about it when the time comes.

Would you mind sending up a prayer for me and the folks who hear? Thanks.

 

Distraction

Written by cycleguy on April 19th, 2016

I’ll be candid: I’ve been distracted. A lot lately. I don’t believe I have ADD but I sure feel like it some days. In fact, I had someone tell me the other day that they wonder if I do. Naaah. I can settle in too easily, read for hours, and study consistently.

But I have been distracted lately. The result is the blog has taken a back seat. Last Thursday I was able to get out on my bike for the first time this year. Rode 17 miles. Rode again on Friday. Rode 19+ yesterday (Monday). I have to take a break today. I’m not young any more! 🙂

Emonda ALR 5

Distracted from my blog is one thing. Distracted from God is another. This distraction is most often a result of the enemy’s attempt to divide me. This past Sunday I called it “destruction by distraction.”  Life is so much more than FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. It is so much more than what the latest celebrity is doing, wearing (or not wearing). It is more than endless gaming, TV binging or athletic competition. We get so caught up in the trivial we forget the important.

People ask me if I’m on FB and look at me like I’m a two-headed monster when I say, “No.” “Why not?” Simple. I know me. I know my penchant for the trivial sometimes. I know my weakness for reading and reading. I don’t need the distraction frankly. I have enough issues staying focused and on task with the need to go bed early, so I can do my 4:00 wake up, without the further temptation of distraction.

So…don’t look for me on FB or any of the other media junk stuff site. Hopefully you will see me here more often than I have been. Thanks for being a faithful reader.

 

Adversary

Written by cycleguy on April 14th, 2016

Solid

C.S. Lewis once said,

There are two dangers about Satan and demons. One is to disbelieve they exist and the other is to have an unhealthy interest in them.

Once during my college education I found myself straddling the latter. Not in the sense of participating in satanic stuff or even of clamoring for more. I was doing research for a paper and found myself consumed by it. As I studied satanism more and more, I found myself becoming more and more disturbed.  At the time I wasn’t aware of praying for a “hedge of protection” to be built around my heart and mind. As a result, I found myself “rattled” a few times with chills and waking up in the middle of the night with a heavy feeling on my chest. I was never so glad to be done with a paper as I was with that one.

Fascination with satanism and horror has always been there in history. Some not so nice times in our country’s history are from a misunderstanding of people’s identities. The film industry has capitalized on our desire for the gross and macabre with a multitude of successful movies.

But Satan, our mortal enemy, is not one to be trifled with. He does not play games. He always has a purpose to what he places in front of us. He really has only one motive: give followers of Christ a hard enough time to get them to compromise. A sermon series on “What We Believe” would not be complete without a discussion of the enemy. My final sermon in this series deals with the enemy. Jesus said it well: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10: 28) I’d appreciate your prayers for this weekend.

 

Outage

Written by cycleguy on April 11th, 2016

Sunday afternoon. Long Sunday morning over. Lunch is done. Jo heads off to the Y. (I had been there the last three days lifting weights so my body needed a break). Tami heads home to relax.

Go to the office. Aaaaah nice relaxing afternoon. Work a bit to relieve some pressure from Monday morning. Read a bit. Dare I say take a nap in my chair? (Please don’t tell anyone I do that. As if…)

Suddenly…lights flicker and computer shuts down. It attempts to come back on several times but no go. Bummer! I text Jo to see if the Y is busy and she says No. “But the lights just went out.” Few minutes later…”Making us leave so they can close.”

So much for the plans. “The best laid plans of mice and men go down the tubes.” About 2 hours later the power came back on. It wasn’t just our little neck of the woods though. It was pretty far spread.

Outages. They happen. In grids. In life. We once moved along at breakneck speed. Nothing could stop our train. We wouldn’t even slow down! Then BAM!! It hits. The outage we never expected.

Mental.

Emotional.

Spiritual.

Time for a break. Time to lay it down and slow down. Time to regroup. Time for you soul to catch up to your body. I’ve been there once too many times. You?

Here’s some help. (I asked Diana to sing this Sunday…marvelous job).  The lyrics are here.

 

StartandFinish

Written by cycleguy on April 7th, 2016

Solid

Ask one question and it is amazing how the “camps” develop. For example, here is a question: how important is the Bible to people’s lives? To yours?

Camp #1: “The Bible? It’s just another book. Some wise sayings here and there, mixed with a lot of genealogies, myths and crazy visions.”

Camp #2: “Of course the Bible is important-at least my pastor thinks so. I’m not so sure but he’s always quoting from it and waving it in the air. But I don’t read it all that much since I can’t understand it.”

Camp #3: They would align themselves with Sir Walter Scott, a committed Christian, who on his deathbed said, “Bring me the Book.” “What book?” his secretary asked. “The Book-the Bible-the only book for a dying man.”

I would say it isn’t just the book for a dying me; it is also the book for a living man. Men will argue with me on that…I know that. I’ve learned pleasing everyone is impossible. Not only that it is an effort in futility.

For me the Bible is a life=giving source. While I don’t always understand it nor feel like reading it, I know it is essential for me. It is my starting place; it is my final authority. Every thought, every word, every action needs to be weighed against it. Will I still misstep? Sure. Will I still misunderstand it? You bet. But that does not change the magnificence of the Book nor its influence.

My sermon this week will be on the Bible: Starting Place and Final Authority.  I’d appreciate your prayers. What does the Bible mean to you?

 

Pain

Written by cycleguy on April 5th, 2016

I reiterate my previous post’s statement: One of my nominees for Book-of-the-Year is this one:

Product Details

I’ve lost both my grandparents. I’ve lost my father-in-law (whom I loved and respected dearly) in 1998 while having heart surgery. I’ve lost my mother-in-law in 2001 to heart failure. I’ve lost my mother to cancer in 2004. I’ve lost countless friends in the churches I have served.

But I cannot imagine what it must be like to lose a child…of any age. King Theodan (from Fellowship of the Ring) could understand because he expressed it: “No father should bury his son.” My best male friend buried his youngest son in 2006 after an accident.

The pain of that loss has to be like a hot iron left on the skin…only this one goes deep into the heart. This book is Levi’s (and his wife, Jennie) adventure through this minefield of losing their five year old daughter, Lenya. I’ve reviewed the book here. And wrote two other posts here and here. This is my final post…I think. I’d like to encourage you to get the book yourself and read it.  I’d like to leave you with something Levi wrote and Jennie said:

Pain is a microphone. And the more it hurts, the louder you get. Suffering isn’t an obstacle to being used by God. It is an opportunity to be used like never before. Levi (p.108)

God isn’t scared of what you’re scared of. Levi. (p.165)

God wants to turn

your mess into a message,

your misery into a ministry,

your pain into a platform

and your chaos into a crown.

-Jennie Lusko (via Diana’s research)

I’m not sure I can say much to add “good” to that. They are the ones who have lived through the “hell” of losing their child. If you have, maybe you can relate.

There you have it.

 

AnAnchor

Written by cycleguy on April 4th, 2016

I will be right up front with you. One of my nominees (not that they will listen to me) for Book of the Year is this one:

Product Details

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a short review of it here and then wrote a post about it here. I said I would post further thoughts but life happened-tragedy happened– and further posts were pushed to the side. I want to use a couple posts this week to give some attention to thoughts from Levi’s book…and thanks to my office manager, Diana, some other thoughts Levi has shared in various venues.

First from the book:

“Hope is a powerful thing. The evangelist Billy Graham said, ‘What oxygen is to the lungs, hope is to our survival in the world.’ In The Hunger Games, President Snow said hope is the only thing more powerful than fear. I’ve heard it said that in Air Force survival training courses, instructors teach something called ‘Rule of Threes’: In a survival situation you can last three weeks without food, three days without water, three hours without shelter in extreme conditions, and three minutes without air. But you can’t make it three seconds without hope.’ ” (p.97)

Hopelessness often leads people to do desperate things-things they normally wouldn’t do. Even the most stoic person can react adversely if hope is taken away. Tell a hospital patient there is no hope and you may as well sign their death warrant.

Hope is a confident expectation. It is an anchor of the soul. And one of the cool things about an anchor is it comes with a heavy-duty chain. Our hope is a solid anchor which never comes loose from its chain. No matter what hits.