#AnotherGospel#Review

Written by cycleguy on October 21st, 2020

When I first moved to Spencer to pastor Owen Valley Christian Fellowship (11/05), I was quite ignorant of a “new wave” that had struck the Christian landscape. It didn’t take me long to acclimate myself to this new teaching since a former staff member ascribed to it.  Even as I say that it wasn’t a “you are here now so I want you to know what I believe” type of situation. It unfolded over time until it became a full-blown storm.

First, the names. Rob Bell. Brian McClaren. Tony Jones. William Paul Young. Richard Rohr.

Second, the movement.  I soon found out the movement was known as Emergent.

Third, the teachings. Pure heresy. Questioning the Virgin Birth. The Bible’s Inerrancy. God’s Omnipotence and Omniscience. The Atonement. Penal Substitution (The cross was cosmic child abuse). And others.

Fourth, the response. Rob Bell disappeared off the face of the evangelical planet to become Oprah’s guru. #terrible loss#sarcasm.  And to my delight I thought it had disappeared off the face of the planet and had gone the way of the dodo bird.

Fifth, finding out I was wrong about #4. (not RB but the disappearing act of Emergent).  It went underground and since has become more known by another name-one that sounds much more “Christian”- Progressive Christianity. Doesn’t that sound like a cool-sounding name? It sound relevant (whatever that is supposed to mean). It sounds…woke. (Can I tell you how much I dislike that term in any way, shape or form or use?).  I use that term to mean I got out of bed. I woke up.

Anyway, I thought Emergent was dead and buried but Alisa Childers has shaken my comfortable world with the revelation that, no it hasn’t died, it has just been repackaged with a new name. Same old garbage just a new name. Alisa has a history with this movement. As a member of the seminal girl group ZOEgirl she traveled the globe singing about Jesus, but it wasn’t until she attended a class (albeit it innocently) taught by a progressive pastor that her house of cards almost came tumbling down in a heap. Fortunately, the Spirit who lived in her was waking her and stirring her to “test the spirits to see if they are from God.” (I John 4:1)  She almost deconstructed (the term used for evangelicals who toss the historic Christian faith aside to often become an agnostic or atheist, aka woke).  Her experience led her to study and ultimately write a book called Another Gospel? She pulls no punches on truth. She pulls no punches in exposing the false teaching of Progressive Christianity. In fact, it is her life’s mission.  Her review of Rachel Hollis’ book, Girl Wash Your Face, went viral as did her review of Jen Hatmaker’s latest book.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Words fail. I picked last year’s Book of the Year (Rebecca McLaughlin’s Confronting Christianity). I personally feel this is worthy of being considered in that class for 2020.  I’ve been listening to Alisa’s podcasts as well and find them a rich source of information and thought.  I might suggest you consider checking that out as well.  You can find her at alisachilders.com

Another Gospel?: A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity

 

#OVCF#StateoftheChurch

Written by cycleguy on October 16th, 2020

This Sunday is OVCF’s 16th Anniversary.  Every year I have involved Ryan in sort of a tag team presentation about our Mission and Vision. “Rona” has changed a few things, not just for the church, but for the people. We certainly haven’t been the only church affected by “rona.”  So with that in mind I thought I would take a different approach, title it What about OVCF? and do what can be called a “State of the Church” address.  But I decided that instead of just me telling the folks how we are doing, I thought it would be good to involve others.

***One of our elders is presenting the Average attendance and offering since the beginning of the year. I believe the people will be totally stoked and blown away by how God has been faithful and has used them in such a dramatic way.  He will also be showing our Building Fund from January to October 4.  Again, I believe the people will be amazed at God’s and their faithfulness. There is no question we need more space and I had the chance to reconvene the Building Team this past Monday to begin the process of “getting with the program” again.  One of the other things we do on Easter and our Anniversary is special. In the past we have taken all the Easter offering (unless designated) and given it away to missions. Several months ago I challenged the leaders with doing the same with our Anniversary offering. So we will giving that away to 3 Missions: one local: Dottie’s Refuge-a faith-based rehab facility for women 18+ to get free from addictions. One away: Operation Heal Our Patriots. One foreign: a clinic in Liberia started by a national with input from some of our former members.

***I’m also planning on introducing the lady who heads up our Operation Christmas Child shoebox program. Dawn has done it for a couple of years and some things will be different this year.

***Hope (Ryan’s wife) and Sally (an elder’s wife) will be talking about the Connections Women’s Ministry that had just got started when Covid hit.  I want them to bring the ladies current as to what they are planning for the rest of the year.

***Ryan will be talking about the Youth program and how it is working now that we have opened our youth area for the past 3 weeks.

***Finally, I will sharing with them some changes we have had to make for our Thanksgiving meal and Christmas breakfast; the Building Team’s renewed efforts; and then a short devotion on our Mission and Vision and commenting on the phrase: IF YOU CAN EXPLAIN WHAT’S GOING ON, GOD DIDN’T DO IT.”

I’d like to ask you pray for us this Sunday. I’d also like to invite you to share in our fantastic morning by tuning in to watch the livestream on the church’s FB page or YouTube.  Thanks. 

 

#Anger#WrongorRight?

Written by cycleguy on October 10th, 2020

The idea of anger is a hot topic (pun intended) especially as we see it played out before us almost on a daily basis. Is it right or wrong to be angry? We hear of stories of people consumed by anger for one reason or another and we cringe when we think of its dangerous interplay in our own lives from time to time. People passed over for promotion; people losing their jobs after years of service and commitment to the company; people feeling like they were abused as a child or taken advantage of in an athletic contest; people who have anger issues that seem to be passed down from grandpa to dad to brother to you; and people who have justified reasons for being angry. They are all there in the mix.

So two views emerge about anger for the Christ-follower: it is either right or it is wrong. To show anger is good; to show anger is bad. To reveal it is not very “Christian”; to hide it is not very “Christian.” Sheesh!

So this week I’m going to speak about anger. Is it always wrong? But, then again, maybe that is not the right question to ask at all. Maybe the right one to ask is “what should I do with the anger I have?” My main Scripture is Eph. 4: 26-27.

I’d appreciate your prayers. If you won’t, I must get just a tad upset. 🙂

 

#BirthdayReflection#68

Written by cycleguy on October 9th, 2020

Normally I post my sermon idea for this week right about now. But I decided to hold off on that for a day and copy a post I ran at my other blog earlier this morning.  (By the way: I post a devotion there each day. I’d love to have you subscribe to be able to get it each day. Then feel free to comment). I’ll leave it here for the day then tomorrow post about the sermon for this weekend. Here is the post:

I turn 68 years old today. (Don’t applaud just throw money! 🙂 You can also throw in a shock emoji here). I was officially ordained on April 13, 1975, my late mother’s birthday. I could think of no better way to honor the one person more responsible for my faith walk (other than my grandfather) than her. So that means for 45 years I have been “officially” a pastor. But I have been preaching since the end of my Sophomore year in college (1972).  I’m not sure that little church in Irvine, KY ever fully recovered. Being a pastor has been all I have wanted to do (except play professional baseball or basketball.  But there was a huge roadblock to both. It’s called talent). 🙂

But it is time for a heart check. After reading 2 Cor. 2:17 I got reflective. “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s Word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” That verse led me back to I Cor. 2:1-5. (I encourage you to look it up or click on the link). It’s time for a heart-to-heart check with myself. Here are some thoughts based on the Scriptures:

  1. The word peddle used in 2 Cor. 2:17 means “to corrupt” in the Greek. It came to refer to corrupt hucksters, or con men who by their cleverness and deception were able to sell as genuine an inferior product. We would call them “cheap knock-offs.” It reminds me of the street vendors who sell “cheapies” that look original. People think they are getting an original but…nope. Fooled you!! This is a picture of a false teacher who worms his/her way in only to spew rank heresy couched in spiritual language. 
  2. Good language, perfect speech, even high falootin’ words cannot resuce a wrong message. I was visiting a couple Wednesday and was told that she really appreciated my sermon from this past Sunday on “What about Doubt?” She explained why and I cried inside that she lived so many years with inside turmoil. Our conversation went on and I commented how someone had said he didn’t think they (as a couple) would stay at OVCF (they came from a very strict, traditional church) because of our music. They both said, “Well, we don’t know the songs…although we are learning them…and do miss the hymns, but we stay because of the Word.  We hear the Word being preached.”  Is a pastor allowed to feel good? Proud…but not the bad kind? At peace? A sense of “I-did-okay?” I sure hope so because, to be honest, I felt validated. I hope that’s not wrong. I suspect if it is then God will bring me down a peg or two. 🙂 In a time of questions and evaluation, it was good to hear God say through them, “Good job.” I am humbled and eternally grateful that God chose me to do this.

I have no idea how much time I have left (who does?) but I do know this: as long as God gives me breath and as long as He gives me good health, I want to be found guilty of preaching the foolishness of the cross. I want to point people to the cross. For as long as I can remember my brother, Rob, has always signed his letter using Gal.6:14- “May I never boast except in the cross of Christ.” May that tribe increase.

Thanks for taking the time to read. Feel free to leave a comment if you would like.

 

#Faith#Feelings#Doubt#

Written by cycleguy on October 4th, 2020

Today, Sunday, I spoke about how doubt should not be panned and dismissed as invalid. While I don’t question God’s character or who Jesus is as the Son of God, fully God and fully man, I do have questions. They center mostly on why things are the way they are. I struggle with not knowing what God has in mind for my life. I don’t doubt his love for me, nor do I doubt He has an ultimate plan. I struggle with Him not sharing it with me. 🙂

Part of my sermon was spent in Psalm 13 as David wrestles with the whole faith vs doubt thing.  I owe a debt of thanks to Randall Arthur (Randy Dodd) who first wrote about this in his excellent novel, Wisdom Hunter. (And yes, I am encouraging you to buy it and read it).  Anyway, here is how he teaches Psalm 13.

  1. In verse 1 David says God has forgotten him. But in verse 5 he says God loves him unceasingly (steadfast).
  2. In verse 1 he says that God has hidden His face from him. But in verse 6 he writes that God has been good to him. (dealt bountifully with me)
  3. In verse 2 he wrestled with many thoughts (take counsel in my soul) and had sorrow in his heart every day. But in verse 6 David says, “I will sing to the Lord.”
  4. In verse 2 David writes, “My enemy is triumphing over me.” And yet at the end of verse 5 he says God is delivering him (my heart shall rejoice in my salvation).

Why? Is David schizophrenic? No, of course not.  The point to see it this: There is often a difference between how we feel and what is true. Feelings can be so deceptive and unreliable. How many times have you or someone you know done something because “it felt right” or “it felt good,” but all along it is against the Scripture?  The very fact that David kept on going is proof that his beliefs kept him from being overtaken by his feelings. Trouble comes when our feelings become stronger than our beliefs.

I hope you will keep that in mind as you move through each day.

 

#Doubts?#Faith

Written by cycleguy on October 4th, 2020

Have you ever had doubts? I don’t mean about faith things but doubts about other things? I ask that question because having doubts is almost like an everyday occurrence to some.  We find ourselves as adults almost acting like the three year old whose favorite question is “Why?”  Other than a little frustration we might feel when asked that over and over, we don’t chastise them for asking “Why” and call their faith into question.

Why then do we do that to adults who are either naturally inquisitive or have some serious questions about things? And when I say serious questions, in this case, I am talking about serious faith questions.  It comes down to this question:

IS IT WRONG TO HAVE DOUBTS?

I sure hope not because if it is I’m in deep horse do-do. Now…let me clarify.  My doubts are not the “what I believe about God, Jesus, or God’s faithfulness” variety.  My doubts come in other areas. I struggle, for example,  with understanding why things are the way they are. I struggle with not knowing what God has in mind in my life and if I will ever know. I don’t doubt His love for me, nor do I doubt He has an ultimate plan for my life. I struggle with Him not sharing it with me! 🙂

Methinks I am not alone.

I wish I could sit here and say that I have the kind of faith of George Mueller had, who ran an orphanage but determined to pray for everything and never ask for financial or any handout. Answers to prayers abound in his life story. Unlike most ministries today, he never asked for a dime.

There are two stories in the Bible I will be using Sunday in my sermon. The story found in Mark 9 of the father who has an encounter with Jesus, and one found in John 20: 24-29 where Thomas has an encounter with Jesus.  I will be finishing up with Psalm 13 and how it teaches us the importance of faith over feelings.  I’m planning on sharing them with you in a future post in the coming week.

My sermon, as you can surmise, is What about Doubt?  It is part of my series I’ve called Q & A. Tune if you are unable to be here for our morning worship. If you can’t do either, please say a prayer for us. Thanks.

 

#Disgusting#Ending

Written by cycleguy on September 30th, 2020

I’ve decided to end my discussion of the following book with this post. First, I am not sure it serves much good in reviewing this book. While many who are involved in the church in a more “official” capacity might find the book important, I’m not sure the “rank-and-file” folks will. Those who read here seem to be more of the latter. Second, I found a much better and much more concise review here. Tim Challies is a much better writer and analyzer than I am. So I suggest you read his review.

Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World

But, for what it’s worth, here are some of my thoughts from the latter half of the book:

#1- I had to stifle a gag reflex as I read the chapter on “Our Sexual Utopias.” I don’t blame Ms. Burton. She was “writing as she sees them.” But what she says is happening and will probably happen was enough to make me gag. I felt dirty when I was done. The acceptance of polyamory is chilling. (I have only one to keep happy. I can’t imagine having more than one…in the same house!!)  Polyamory calls our culture the “toxic monogamy culture.” WOW! I wonder what God thinks of that? A 2015 poll shows 25% of American adults find polyamory acceptable and that number skyrockets to 58% among adults who consider religion “not at all” important.  Adults interested in BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism) find it acceptable. Kink is in. Open marriage. You can say “thanks” to Fifty Shades of Gray for popularizing the whole kink thing.  Their philosophy is “If we had a god, that god would be consent.”  But one little line says it all: “My number one relationship is with myself.” (p.161)  Gag reflex subdued only by coming to the end of the chapter and taking a break.

#2-The whole influence of Silicon Valley on the grand scheme of things. Politically and financially potent this mostly godless climate has run amuck on traditional values. Just ask FB, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and others. Disagree and you are wiped clean as if you don’t exist.  And, oh yeah, let’s not forget #Black Lives Matter, the Marxist organization whose goal is to ruin families and our country. Too bad a good message (by the way..all lives matter) got hi-jacked by godless, Marxists who want nothing more than to tear apart our country.  The rise of “social justice”-the idea that American is at its core built on white supremacy, patriarchy, repression, and hatred- is the hot topic of the day. Even in churches…churches which have lost their focus on Jesus and the Gospel.  They (feminist utopians) see “white men as banks just giving money to fund their s***…Everything would be female, queer, Black, trans art…Every club a drag bar.”  (King Princess-p.179)  Can I gag now?

#3- Atavism (nostalgic, masculinist vision of animal humanity). It is largely an agnostic faith, with little time for gods beyond nature.  In a nutshell to the new Utopians (Unitarians fit this), atavism  is a reimagined, renewed world in which human beings transcend our moral and physical limitations.  The atavists are looking backward.  New atavists are followers of Jordan Peterson and others like him.  Nietzsche disciple, Julius Evola, condemns Christianity for fostering a religion based on womanly qualities like emotion.  Follow that thinking and you have Hitler and Mussolini to name a few. Welcome back Fascism.  Not that all of Peterson’s advice is bad. In actuality, some of it is good: “Stand up straight. Clean your room. Avoid people who drag you down. Treat yourself with dignity. Live for something.” (p.217) Alt-right atavism-unlike its more conservative Petersonian incarnation- is a religion of meaninglessness, one that worships violence and destruction for their own sake. Makes you wonder if we are watching that on our streets and TV’s at this very moment.

#4- New Thought/New Age garbage. AOC even released her birth time to eager astrologers-and the mainstream media breathlessly covered it (surprise surprise). This is called Remixed spiritualism. Norman Vincent Peale, Joel Osteen, the health/wealth proponents all figure in this mix as well.

The church needs to be aware of the struggles it will face in the future due to the shifting cultural stance toward God, the Bible and the church in general.  Reading this book gives a chilling picture of what has been and will continue coming down the pike.

 

#Storms#SinkorSwim

Written by cycleguy on September 25th, 2020

Several days after an earthquake hit the San Francisco area, the story is told that a young boy was seen rocking and swaying on the school playground. His principal asked him if he was okay and the boy nodded and said, “I am moving like the earth, so if there’s another earthquake I won’t feel it.” He was trying to prepare himself for what he thought was soon coming again.

Don’t you wish you knew when the next storm would hit?  Not weather. Life storms.  We have an old cliche’ which says, “Into every life some rain must fall.”  Have you ever felt snarky enough to say, “Yeah rain.  But this is a storm! A downpour with lightning and thunder accompanied by a monsoon!” I think it is relatively safe to say that storms affect us all…to some degree. Some seem to always be in a storm, while others seem to skip some major ones.  There is no doubt we have been and are still in a storm called Covid-19.  I think the fear caused by it which has resulted in a shutdown of our economy, our work, our churches, our schools, businesses, and in some ways our whole way of life, has led to multiple other storms.

Sunday I am continuing my Q & A series with the question What about Storms?  (Bet you didn’t know that did you?) 🙂 I’m going to talk about some storms which were chasing David and then why that makes Psalm 13 such a rich chapter for us to study. I’ll show you in another post how every one of David’s haunting questions is answered by a solid answer.

Join us if you would like to. The church has a FB page and also streams on YouTube.  I’d love to have you join me/us.  And I’d appreciate it even more if you would commit to praying for us.

 

#JesusMovement#Laurie#JesusPeople

Written by cycleguy on September 21st, 2020

I was born in 1952 (that puts me at a soon-to-be 68 for those counting. October 9 to be exact. Money accepted. 🙂 )  so I was in my teen years in 1965-1970. I wasn’t very world savvy (translation: not at all) so I knew very little about what was going on in Vietnam. I did not follow the hippie movement; Haight-Ashbury; LSD and the pharmacy; Nixon; Woodstock; Altamont; nor any of the movement called the Jesus Movement (JM). My music at the time was Tommy James and the Shondells, Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons, mostly bubblegum music. But then Tommy James did Crimson and Clover and Crystal Blue Persuasion (still my all-time #1 song). My senses began picking up vibes of another world. I began working and heard about Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Still I had not heard of the JM or the Jesus People. I came from a pretty conservative church. I knew of the One Way sign and once flashed it to a military vehicle in front of us and promptly got back a middle finger. I’m not sure if he thought I was giving him one or if he was letting me know what he thought of Jesus. A rude awakening for sure. I had never heard of Larry Norman, Barry McGuire Chuck Girard and Love Song, or any of the other seminal artists in what was then a fledgling Christian music genre. And I for sure had never heard of Chuck Smith, Calvary Chapel, or one of Chuck’s protege’s, Greg Laurie. Too bad. But even then that was West Coast and I lived in PA.

This book, Jesus Revolution, by Greg Laurie and Ellen Vaughn was a great way to do an interstate tour through a state route roadway. I learned about Greg’s early involvement in drugs and the counterculture, but also with JM/JP after God got a hold of his life. But I also learned far more. I love history and man this book gives a breezy, Clif Notes version of the JM. It was a wonderful trip down memory lane-a lane I have no memory of…except some of the world events (which I now know about). But I loved hearing about history and how the JM intersected the world; how Chuck Smith opened his neat ‘n tidy church to the young hippies who were seeking meaning to their emptiness. Chuck pointed them to Jesus. One of those burned out people was Greg Laurie. It was fun reading of Greg’s “rise” from a 17 y/o hippie to preaching at Riverside (an effort blessed and encouraged by Chuck) at the age of 19. God began to use Greg to where they eventually had to begin meeting at the Riverside Municipal Building with no A/C! It was nicknamed the Riverside Municipal Microwave Oven.

This book included stories of Greg; his marriage to Cathe (which is about 8 months shorter than mine); his “rise” as a pastor; his influence in people’s lives; the tragic and untimely death of his son, Christopher, in a car accident; the renewal of his son, Jonathan as a result of the accident; his Harvest Crusades and his move back to Orange County to start a church. It also included some great round-ups of world events during the ’60s-’79.

This was a wonderful book!! If you like history, especially contemporary church history, you will want to get this book. You will not be sorry. It makes me want to read more about the JM and more of Pastor Greg’s books.  And just to be clear: this is not a book going on and on about how great Greg Laurie is. I suspect he would eschew that in the highest order.

Jesus Revolution: How God Transformed an Unlikely Generation and How He Can Do It Again Today

 

#SticksandStones#Words

Written by cycleguy on September 18th, 2020

There is absolutely no doubt, and I mean NO DOUBT, that words affect us. Call someone a name and it sticks.  We used to say the old adage to make people think we weren’t affected by their words: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”  The only way I want to respond to that ditty is “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”

Someone has said the average American speaks about 700 times per day. If that sounds high, chop it in half (350). If that still sounds high cut it in half again (175). Face it, there are very few things we do 175 times a day, at least voluntarily. I’m sure I blink or swallow or breath more than 350 times a day but that is all part of God’s magnificent creation called the body.

Harmful words damage relationships and reveal a heart out of tune with Jesus.  Physical wounds often heal before emotional wounds. There are words said to us in the past which still haunt us.  Our heart flutters and our stomach turns when we hear them or think about them. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue holds the power of life and death.”

This Sunday my question is What about Words? (as if you couldn’t tell).  Prayers would be appreciated for this Sunday. Consider this quote by Ben Franklin: “A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.” ‘Nuff said.