#RunningonEmpty

Written by cycleguy on August 12th, 2022

NEW SERIES!!

After spending the past 7 weeks on Seven Cancers, I’m starting a new series called Eight Cures.

We often elevate celebrities to a place they do not deserve nor have earned.  I have been guilty from time to time of doing that with athletes, especially when I was younger. Then I saw they put their pants on like me, one leg at a time. Worse, I often found out they had feet of clay.  Christians have done that to athletes, musicians, actors, and even (gasp!) politicians.  Then a singer deconstructs, or an actor’s language is atrocious, or a ballplayer’s marriage disintegrates. Gone is the humility we thought we saw. We cling to celebrity looking for validation of their commitment. The recent death of Olivia Newton-John (ONJ) is a case in point. I am not her judge and she may very well be one who greets me in heaven, but the fawning over her and calling her a “Christian celebrity” (as I read the other day) just sort of did me in. 

But I digress. Sorry. Sunday’s sermon is from Matthew 5:1-3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs in the kingdom of heaven.”   (Yeah, the 8 Cures are the Beatitudes).  What does poor in spirit mean? I suspect you may already know, but if not, I invite you to join us Sunday at 9 and 10:45.  We also live stream at the same time.

{And for the record: I liked ONJ’s music at one time. It is no longer my cup of tea. I like mine a little (okay, much) stronger.  It was not a slam against her, but against the Christian community running to embrace celebrities who talk about or mention any kind of faith. And taking it one step further: I am truly hoping she was prepared to meet Jesus. She talked about faith. I sincerely hope her faith was in Jesus…of which I can make no judgment}.

 

#Cancer#Hidden

Written by cycleguy on August 5th, 2022

Of all the cancers which we have covered (6 so far), this last one is what I am calling the “Hidden” one. Why? Because most often it can be hidden from other eyes. Given the internet and given the plethora of other avenues, this cancer is considered “private.”

The cancer? L.U.S.T.

Someone has said, “Unbridled lust: A cannibal committing suicide by nibbling on himself.”

Another anonymous person said, “Lust, I read somewhere, is the craving for salt by a man (or woman) who is dying of thirst.”

I don’t need to go into detail of what happens when lust takes hold. A lust for money often leads to gambling. A lust for pleasure often leads to a life of unbridled lack of control. A lust for ease often leads to a life spent looking for short cuts. And a life of lust often leads to a body count left behind with destruction in its wake.  But like all the other cancers, it will eat away at us until it reveals itself in some way.

Lust is not a losing cause.  It is a disordered and idolatrous sexual desire that is both enslaving and destructive, but it is not an adventure in futility. This week I hope to disclose lust for what it is, but also to offer hope to those who struggle with it.  Please join us at 9 and 10:45 in person or via live stream. If you are unable to, please commit to praying for me-for us- as we study. Thanks.

 

#RealRevival

Written by cycleguy on August 3rd, 2022

I also posted a good part of this on my other blog, Living in the Shadow, but I have made a few changes to this particular post.

Very recently I read an exciting and interesting new book by Pastor Greg Laurie. It is called Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus.

Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus: The Spiritual Biography of Rock and Roll

To borrow from Bill and Ted: “It was a most excellent book.”

Strange name I know, but it was a book about those three musical icons, their contemporaries and how they felt about Jesus. Pastor Greg also wrote about other rock icons-Morrison, Hendrix, Joplin (who were all part of the dubious 27 Club because they all died when they were 27 years old), as well as others. He wrote about Jesus’ influence on different rock and roll artists- their acceptance, rejection, falling away, and embracing-of Jesus.

After reading that refreshing, sometimes sad, but still refreshing book, I decided to go back and read again another book by Greg which I had read back in 2018 called Jesus Revolution.

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

I only started it last night so I can’t say much about it. However, chapter 1 began with this quote:

There can’t be any large scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level.  it’s got to happen inside first.

Who said that? Hold onto your hat when I tell you. Jim Morrison.

Shocked? Yeah…me too.

Sounds like some religious jargon doesn’t it? How many times have you heard or said something like, “Real revival must start with me.” It’s true. Real revival, real renewal, must begin within each one of us, starting with me. Real revival is a revolution, a radical changing of my heart and mind to being conformed to the image of Christ. To borrow and reword Jim Morrison’s words: It’s an inside job.

You see, I think the world (and the church to some extent), has seen enough of, and had enough of, fake “works of God.” I know I have had enough of pretenders (and that includes me from time to time).  We see the garbage and hucksterism on TV for what passes for faith, and we hear of crusades (not Harvest Crusades put on my Greg Laurie) with all the showy junk, that we are literally sick of it. 

I know I’m sick of what passes for “God’s work” and “God’s words.”  Sort of makes me sick to my stomach.

Revival, or a move of God, is much more than “You don’t do this” or “You don’t do that” or “You must act a certain way” or “You must belong to a certain political party.”  No. Revival is a radical change within a person’s heart. THAT is what the world wants and needs to see.

Jim Morrison was right. We need Someone to light our fire. It’s not a baby (babe). It’s the King of kings setting us on fire with a fire of epic proportions. That is one that will set the night on fire by bringing the light of Christ to its darkness.

That the real thing. Authentic. Life-changing. White hot change-maker.

“Start with me, Father. Set me on fire.”

 

#Cancer#Resepctable

Written by cycleguy on July 29th, 2022

We have the Big 10. You know…the 10 Commandments. “You shall have no other gods before you.” “You shall not murder.” “You shall not commit adultery.” And others. The biggies.  People will also throw in some of their social issues with them. Curiously, there is one we tend to leave off the list. In fact, of all the cancers we have been talking about, this one most people will take the least seriously than any other. The cancer?

Gluttony.

I’m going to be honest. I don’t have an axe to grind.  I like to eat like all the other folks do. I used to say, “The Apostle Paul said, “I buffet my body, not buffet (like endless eating) my body.” I have to admit that I preferred the latter more than I should have. Pizza. Ice Cream. Chinese. Age has slowed me down some I’m sorry to say, but I do still like to eat! 🙂 

Gluttony is more than just overeating at Thanksgiving or Christmas or some special occasion. The failure to see that fact is flabby thinking about the Bible and what it says about this “respectable” cancer. I call it that because it normally doesn’t show up on someone’s list of sins.

This Sunday I am going to be preaching about what the Bible says about this “respectable” cancer.  I would love to have you join us in person, or if that is not possible, online.  We have two services at 9 and 10:45. Both are live streamed as well.

 

#Cancer#GottaHaveIt

Written by cycleguy on July 22nd, 2022

Perhaps you have heard the saying, “God has promised to fill all our needs, not all of our greeds.” (Yeah…I know…that is not a word. Spell check tells me that). 🙂

Here are two sayings that I thought were pretty interesting:

“Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected…Hoarding is idolatry.”

 

“Just as a circle can never fill a triangle so the heart of greed is never satisfied. Its hunger is never filled; its thirst is never quenched. No wonder we are so often warned against it.”

When we think of greed our minds often go to misers like Ebenezer Scrooge; or corrupt bankers or some tycoon on Wall Street; or a wicked pirate like Captain Barbosa in Pirates of the Caribbean. SURELY NOT US!!

The problem with greed is that it is usually masked and isn’t that obvious. We see someone working hard and perhaps getting wealthy and we think “a man is worthy of his hire.” Little do we know that down inside that man or woman might be a heart of greed. I’m not just talking about someone in the “worldly” vein either. We get that same picture of many in the church. We think we want to be like that person, but come to find out there is a heart of greed beating down inside.

Cancer #5 is the Deadly Sin of Greed. I’m calling it the “gotta have it” syndrome.  What does the Bible say about greed? Actually a lot. That is my topic for this Sunday’s message. I hope you will join me as we delve into this volatile subject that so many of us want to deny we have but…

Please join us at 9 and 10:45 either in person or via live stream. I would love to have you or see you. If not, you can always pray for us, for me. I will never turn that away!! 🙂

And by the way: Pastor Ryan has taken about 12 people to Hickory, KY for some help with tornado clean-up. Your prayers for their travel and service would be greatly appreciated.

 

#Cancer#Sloth

Written by cycleguy on July 15th, 2022

A sloth is an “interesting” animal. I use interesting in quotes there because to me, watching a sloth would be like watching grass grow or paint dry. You get the idea. B-O-R-I-N-G.

Proverbs 20:5 says, The lazy one does not plow after autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing.”  For more on that read another passage: Pr. 24: 30-34.

I realize there are some people who move slower than others. That is their makeup. But being lazy or being slothful is a whole ‘nother animal (pun intended).  A sloth is someone who is careless, unwilling to act, half-hearted in their approach to life, and gets discouraged in the face of difficulty.  In one of the more humorous passages in the Bible the writer of Proverbs describes the slothful person as one who says, “There is a lion outside; I shall be killed in the streets!” so he just stays in bed. Another passage, Pr. 26:14 says, “As the door turns on its hinges, so does a lazy one on his bed.”

Not very complimentary is it? It is not meant to be. That is why sloth is considered one of the 7 Deadly Sins, which I am calling 7 Cancers.  That is my current sermon series and I’d like to invite you to join me as we study. If you are able to visit in person, we would love to have you.  We have two services- one at 9 and one at 10:45. We live stream both services as well. If you are unable to join us, I would appreciate your prayers.

 

#Explosion#Cancer

Written by cycleguy on July 8th, 2022

So far in this series I am calling “7 Cancers,” we have talked about pride and envy. This week’s cancer is on Anger.

We have all sorts of ditties about anger. Such as:

“When angry, count ten before you speak; If very angry, a hundred.” Thomas Jefferson

“When angry, count four. When very angry, swear.” Mark Twain

“It’s wise to remember that anger is just one letter short of danger.” Sam Ewing

“Anger helps straighten out a problem like a fan helps straighten out papers.” Susan Marcotte

“Secular” thoughts to a spiritual problem. “Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” James 1:19.  Now that’s more like it!

Anger seems to be all the rage (pun intended) these days. If people aren’t screaming and yelling or protesting or ranting and raving about something we tend to think there is something wrong with them. (I, on the other hand, think there is something most definitely wrong with those who do).  Our society is becoming angrier and angrier and it is finding ways to carry it out which boggles the mind. Who can forget the riots of 2020? Who can forget the mass shootings we have witnessed?

Christ-followers are not immune to those same kinds of feelings. BUT THAT DOESN’T MAKE THEM RIGHT.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that of all people Christ-follower ought to be setting the example of how to react to unfavorable situations or decisions.

Anger is one of the cancers which plague us all. What should be our response to situations which “try men’s souls”? How can I win over this cancer? My sermon this week on The Explosive Cancer will attempt to answer those questions and more. Please join me in person or via live stream at 9 and 10:45. If you can’t, would you mind praying for me? Thanks.

 

#Cancer#Envy

Written by cycleguy on July 1st, 2022

I read of a movie called The Prestige. I have not seen it so I will rely on someone who has. It is the story of rival stage magicians in late 19th century London. Both men were brilliant and ambitious. Both want the best. The film follows the obsessive drive they each have and underneath their drive to be the best is a fierce competition which leads to murder and self-destruction. Their rivalry, fueled by envy and jealousy, wreaks havoc in their personal and professional lives.

Proverbs 14:30 says, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”

Socrates called it “the ulcer of the soul.” Envy is a sickness of the soul, a consuming, wasting spiritual disease (cancer) that devours its host from the inside out. Like cancer, it eats away at us from the inside out. So many people are being eaten alive by envy (and its evil twin jealousy) they don’t even know it…or recognize it.

My series on 7 Cancers continues this week with my sermon on envy I’ve entitled “The Green-Eyed Cancer.”  Think “green with envy” and you get the picture.  I hope you will join me in person or via live stream. We meet at 9:00 and 10:45.

 

#Revelation#Blessed

Written by cycleguy on June 29th, 2022

On April 18th I embarked on an adventure I had never done before and really had no clue what to expect. On my other blog, Living in the Shadow, I decided to take the book of Revelation and write some posts about it. I took a chapter a day, except for when I was in chapters 2-3 (7 churches). I took a day for each one. That effort started on April 18th and ended with a final post on June 2nd.

It spurred a thought I never thought I would think. Yeah, you read that right. 🙂  What if I preached the book of Revelation with the same type of approach?  How about 2023?  The theme for 2023 popped into my mind: Victory! Hmmmm. So I decided to say something publicly to the church I pastor. I think they are shell-shocked because only one person has responded and she said, “Pastor Bill, I’ve always appreciated your approach to God’s Word. If He is telling you to preach on Revelation, I will be glad to hear it. If He says something else, I will be glad to hear it. You listen to Him.” (slightly revised).

So…at this point…I do plan to preach on Revelation to start 2023. About the time I decided to do that, I became aware of a brand new book:

Blessed: Experiencing the Promise of the Book of Revelation

It was a God-send! I was not familiar with Nancy as an author. I had heard the name. But I trusted the publishing company (Crossway) so I bit the bullet. What a phenomenal book!  The subtitle is Experiencing the Promise of the Book of Revelation and she does just that.  Her book includes 12 chapters all focused on “Blessed by…”

I found the book easy to read. Yes, there were times I had to go back and read a paragraph or two again. It was mostly because I was reading whenever I could and my mind tends to wander sometimes.  No matter the book!!  🙂 So I can’t and won’t blame the book.  But I can say that Nancy’s approach was just what I was looking for to help me in my series in 2023. But I am so glad I read it, and not just for sermon prep.  Honestly, I had trouble putting it down so I found myself reading at home (which I almost never do with books of this genre). I prefer to leave that for the office. But here I was toting this book back and forth.

I was also pleasantly surprised that Nancy’s approach will enhance my focus in my sermons. I’m already formulating how this can be incorporated into my sermon series.  Her thoughts were clear and clearly presented. I anticipate using it consistently during my sermon prep.

One more thing: Nancy’s approach will not be what many expect. I tend toward the amillennial view of the Second Coming. Not that I think either view (except for post-millennialism) is without merit, but I have favored that particular view. If you are not open to hearing an opposing view, you will not like Nancy’s book. She definitely believes in the “recapitulation theory” of Revelation (the seals, trumpets, etc are the same scene from different viewpoints),  characteristic of the amillennial position.  Take that for what it’s worth.

I highly recommend this book by Nancy Guthrie. Agree or disagree it will give you a greater appreciation for the most misunderstood, most fascinating, most imaginative, most intriguing, most debated, most thrilling book in the Bible.  Thank you Nancy for a book and a job well done.

And here is something for you to listen to Warning: it might get you excited. It might also not be your cup of tea. 

 

#DeadlyCancer#Pride

Written by cycleguy on June 24th, 2022

Gregory the Great, who became pope in 590 A.D., once said pride was the “queen of sins.” And even though the papacy is not Scriptural, I have to say I agree with him. C.S. Lewis called pride “the great sin.” He went on to say, “The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride.”

When you think about it, all sin seems to find its roots in pride. Proverbs 8:13 and Proverbs 16:18 seem to say that as well.  Funny side note: do you remember the song by Carly Simon called “You’re So Vain”? It was reported to have been about Warren Beatty because he thought he was God’s gift to women.  Remember part of the lyrics: “You’re so vain you probably think this song is about you.” I just thought she was saying, “If you are arrogant enough to think I’m singing about you in what I have said, then vanity is an issue.” 🙂

Anyway, when pride takes over everyone suffers.  Two weeks ago I began a series I am calling “7 Cancers” with a sermon on Whatever Became of Sin.  This Sunday starts that series in earnest. As you can tell, pride will be the focus of the sermon I’m calling “The Queen Cancer.”   I hope you will join me either in person or online. We have two services-one at 9 and one at 10:45.

Let me close with a quote from J. Oswald Sanders:

Nothing is more distasteful to God than self-conceit.