Written by cycleguy on January 16th, 2017
I suspect many of you have seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Next to Back to the Future, it is my favorite trilogy of movies. The central plot focuses on The Ring of Power fashioned by the Dark Lord Sauron. This ring corrupts whoever has it. No matter how good his or her intentions are, the ring’s power eventually corrupts even the purest heart. Enter Frodo. Frodo is given the task of taking the ring to Sauron’s lair to destroy it. We watch throughout the three movies as the ring’s power begins to take over and control Frodo’s every waking and sleeping moment. The finale has Frodo on the precipice of where he needs to throw the ring, and with Sam yelling, “Throw it in Frodo!” we watch as Frodo turns to Sam and says, “No Sam. It’s mine” and puts it on. The power of the ring had taken control of Frodo. It had enslaved him.
Idols are like that. They slowly and subtly take over, often without us even knowing it is happening. Pastor Tim Keller calls an idol a “counterfeit god.” He goes on to call an idol:
Anything more important to us than God, anything that absorbs our heart and mind more than God, anything we seek to give you only what God can give.
In my next post I plan to give 6 examples of idols we face today…many we don’t even realize are idols.
Oh…thanks for hanging in there with me over the past couple of months. I’ll give an update on my accident in the next week or so. But I do thank you for your prayers.
Written by cycleguy on January 12th, 2017
In Numbers 21 there is a story of the people of Israel and a serpent. They had begun to grumble against God and Moses, complaining they brought them out of Egypt into the wilderness to die. Their complaining got so bad God sent fiery serpents among them and when they bit the people they died. Suddenly complaining about being in the wilderness was not such a big thing anymore. The remedy for all of this mayhem was for Moses to make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole. Anyone who looked on it would live. Sounds all well and good.
“He (King Hezekiah) removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (and it was called Nehushtan).” 2 Kings 18:4
That which was for a good purpose turned out to become something bad. The serpent had become an idol.
We may not have those kinds of idols but we do have them. An idol is a representation of what we honor, esteem, pay allegiance to, or worship. Idols tell us we can’t live without them.
My sermon this week is #3 in the series “I Am Fifth.” I’m calling it “Who’s Your Daddy?” because of the subject of idols. It is a tough sermon to preach since it hits all of us (especially me). I’m going to take a post or two next week to cover this subject in a little more detail. Stay tuned!
Written by cycleguy on January 11th, 2017
These days it is not unusual to hear “you have a virus.” And so those dreaded words hit us like a ton of bricks because most likely they will also mean quarantine in our bedroom (at best our house), loads of fluids, and many moments of sleep. (Hmmmm I am wondering if one can fake a virus for some blessed sleep?)
But my absence from this blog and other blogs has not been because of a virus. Least, not mine. Other than having the aches and pains and need for sleep like many other 64 year old codgers, my life has been infected by another kind of virus. One, in this case, which was even more insidious than the physical kind.
MY. COMPUTER. HAS. A. VIRUS.
A bad one. Last Thursday I spent over 1 1/2 hours waiting while my server spun emptying or deleting or writing emails. It spun seemingly endlessly as I tried to type. “Mozilla not responding” or “Word not responding” became permanently etched in my screen (or at least my psyche). More than once I asked someone if they had a gun or a baseball bat. A scan started on Sunday morning for malware revealed almost a 1000 viruses-brought on by a screen saver and a download of Chrome. So repair was started. And I waited. And I waited. Tuesday morning it finally said the Repairing disk was done. Yeah, in a pig’s eye. The whole process started all over again and when I tried to run a malware scan it said the program didn’t exist. Say what? Infected is what Ryan, the techgeek, said.
He ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie! So he told me to switch computers and he will take mine home to perform surgery on it. It is so nice to have a computer that works. No hesitation in mail. No spinning and waiting. I have to go a little out of my way for sure since this one does not have my Bookmarks nor recognizes my Username and Password exactly. But we can deal with that since the. computer. works.
Hence, this post after an absence of over a week. Lots has happened. I hope to bring you up to “snuff” as time moves on. As for me…I am glad my computer is feeling better.
Written by cycleguy on January 1st, 2017
Hard to believe 2017 is over 7 hours old already. Being that today is “my one day to work” 🙂 I went to bed at 9:35 last night. No amount of celebrating or celebration could keep me up until 12. Strangely enough, I was. I woke up from a fitful sleep about 11:30 so I decided to go to my Cave and read. I grabbed my Bible and journal and started catching up on the reading which had taken a back seat over the past few days. (And yes, pastors do that also. We are not always on the ball). So…while I had no intention of welcoming in the New Year…I did. I have this sneaking suspicion that less than four hours of sleep is going to catch up with me. Let’s just hope it isn’t while I’m preaching or praying. That could be bad!
The banner gives a good picture of my theme for 2017. “I am Fifth.” Gayle Sayers, a Chicago Bears running back from the ’60s-70s, wrote a book called I Am Third, where he talked about his friendship with Brian Piccolo-a white teammate who was also dying of cancer. His guiding life lesson was “God is first; Others are second; I am third.” As I scanned by library back on July 5th, I ran across the book The Fifth Gospel by Bobby Conway. I decided to use the title with a twist and spend 2017 preaching about being the gospel to others.
Two quotes stand out to me:
“Where one man reads the Bible, a hundred read you and me.” D.L.Moody
“Preach the gospel; when in doubt, use words.”
After introducing the idea this month, I plan to preach on I John. After that the plan is Philippians and/or James. If you are part of OVCF, I do hope you will join me in this journey. If not, but you still want to join in, you can listen by podcast on the church’s website. Have a great 2017.
Written by cycleguy on December 22nd, 2016
I have been virtually absent from this blog and others’ blogs as well. A comment here or there. A post here or there. I’ve had some time to re-evaluate how I feel about a lot of things, but in this case, Cycleguy’s Spin. Curiously, instead of slowing down, life picked up speed. Things which seemed second nature to me suddenly became more laborious. I chalk it up to the wreck on November 7th and the life-pace change which took place as a result. I have not been able to sleep horizontally (in my bed) since November 7th. My recliner has become my favorite place to spend my restless evenings trying to grab some uncomfortable sleep. That has lessened pretty much (for which I am grateful) but I still haven’t been horizontal.
The wreck. 6 hours in an ER getting x-rays. A huge dark purple hematoma developing on my hip which eventually moved down my leg to blow up my knee, then my calf and lower leg, and then finally my ankle/foot. A visit to an Urgent Care Clinic. An ultrasound to make sure of no blood clots. Finally a reference from a PCP to a general surgeon for a possible slice and drain of the hematoma. After two weeks of Lasix and heat compresses and God’s amazing machine called the body, the surgeon has said no surgery will be required. YES!!!My body is absorbing it.
Add to that mix two weddings, a funeral, a growing & involved church in the community and the recipe is for busyness. The church is preparing for a Christmas breakfast for our community, plus a Christmas Eve service and one on Sunday morning. Fortunately, they are identical. I had planned on taking a Tuesday and going off to a retreat center for some solitude but even that blew apart.
My grandson is now with us for a few days. (Yeah, that brings peace and quiet). 🙂 But he is a joy to have around. And joy is something we all need. That, after all, was the message the angels carried to the shepherds that first night: “I bring you good news of great joy.”
So that is what I wish for you this Christmas season. A season of JOY. My next post will be after Christmas so please have a blessed and joy-filled Christmas. And thanks for hanging in there with me.
Written by cycleguy on December 8th, 2016
No…not IT as in technology.
“It” as in what you call your baby until you know its sex.
Jo & I had our two girls in the age when knowing the sex of your baby was, at best, guesswork. They listened to the beat of the heart. Watched the way mom carried it (not an exact science). But before the modern technology, knowing the sex of your baby was, as I said, guesswork. So we tended to call the baby “it.” Unless, of course, you are like me who would not let Jo look at any girl’s clothes while pregnant and then boldly stated from the pulpit on the second one that I put my dibs in with the Lord and this one is a boy.
Yeah…both were girls…and I wouldn’t trade either of them for all the money in the world. I’m convinced God said He was going to have some fun with me for the first one and probably changed the sex of the baby in the womb when I bragged it was a boy. 🙂
I just got a text from an expectant mom Tuesday that their baby was going to be a girl. Oh…modern technology. Takes the guesswork out of the sex of the baby and takes the wonderment out of it as well.
Last week I talked about Emmanuel (God with Us). This week I’ll be speaking on Isaiah 9: 6-7, the passage where names of Jesus abound. While Mary and Joseph knew the baby was to be a “he,” the names given in this passage tell so much more about Him. It is a good way to prepare for Christmas-to know the names of the future Messiah.
Which one means the most to you?
Written by cycleguy on December 7th, 2016
When someone mentions treasure our thoughts most often turn to financial things.
But there is another kind of treasure…one (sadly) I’m not very good at most times. The reference is found in Luke 2:19 where it says that after the shepherds visited the baby and then left, Mary pondered or treasured these things you her heart. That word has always intrigued me.
As I probed what it meant to “treasure” something in your heart, I knew exactly why I was so bad at it! 🙂
The expression “treasured these things in her heart” has more to do with the emotions and the heart, than the physical organ beating in our chest. It literally means to keep something alive or to savor.
I think we all tend to do that. It is called memories. I have them. You have them. Good and bad. I have memories of Christmases in the past which were good. Waking up on Christmas morning to find a tree, a running train, and more than I ever dreamed of under the tree. I can also remember the Christmas my dad was about to walk out of the house.
These days I treasure my Christmases. As we get older, the awareness becomes more apparent that Christmas memories are to be treasured. I like what Tim Keller says, “The treasuring is not so much a technique as an attitude.” The sad part (and am I alone in this?) is that treasuring is getting harder to do. I’m really having some difficulty focusing this Christmas. Maybe it is the accident. Maybe it’s the volume of work. Maybe it is preoccupation with things to do. But I do need to slow down and treasure my memories.
How about you?
Some have asked for an update on my accident. I continue mending. I am totally grateful to God for His healing. I found out the good news that my auto insurance is going to cover the medical bills. That is a huge relief. I go to the general surgeon this coming Monday for a follow up on the hematoma and whether she will remove it or continue hoping my body will absorb it. Continued prayer would be appreciated. And thanks.
Written by cycleguy on December 1st, 2016
That word…loneliness…seems to be so empty. Drafty. Lifeless.
For many, Christmas is one of the loneliest times of the year. They feel like they are home alone. When the movie Home Alone first came out, I was not a fan. It just didn’t turn my crank, so for years I never watched it. One day, I think we were at a friend’s house, and they wanted to watch it. I found myself chuckling then laughing at the gags. It was almost like watching the old 3 Stooges, only updated with modern antics. The story centers around a young boy who is left behind when his family heads for vacation and his attempt to keep the thieves away from the house. What ensues is an adventure in comedy that keeps you laughing.
What isn’t funny is how many live lives of quiet desperation in today’s media saturated world. Busy but alone. Surrounded but isolated.
That is what is so good about the name Emmanuel (God with us!). Not only is it a beautiful name for God’s Son, it also explains one of the great reasons for Christmas in the first place.
There is more. Guess you will have to come Sunday to hear it. But just in case you can’t, I will give you this preview:
- The glory of Christmas means we are far more precious to God than we could ever imagine.
- the glory of Christmas means there is far more to celebrate then we thought.
- The glory of Christmas means we will never be alone
Those alone give us reason to celebrate Christmas. I hope you are not one who spends time alone. Find friends. Find others who are alone and get together for a Christmas dinner. Go visit a nursing home. You will find others just like you-dreading the holiday because of some memory. You can have a mutual “pulling-out-of-the-doldrums” party.
Until then, I’d like to ask you to pray.
Written by cycleguy on November 27th, 2016
Daniel Hamlin and his family are five of the neatest people you will ever meet. They came to OVCF just a tad over a year ago in a search for something different than what he/they had grown up in. They were also concerned for their three children (one a teen and another real close and an adorable young girl). So he actually first heard of OVCF from living in the community about all his life, but when Daniel started searching with earnest his father told him about us. Daniel checked out the church website and then a few podcasts. Something resonated in him and a “chance” encounter with him at a local restaurant (we were supposed to eat somewhere else) led to him coming to OVCF. They have not left (that’s a good thing…a very good thing). He is a fine young man who wants to seek God with all his heart and wants to lead his family that way also. The following is what he posted on FB after helping with the Thanksgiving Dinner the church puts on annually.
Today, our church provided Thanksgiving meals to the community. At one point my family was tasked with delivering 5 meals to a local low-income motel. As we stepped out of the car I realized that we were probably not relatable to those who were receiving the food. I had grabbed my LL Bean jacket, the boys were wearing Nike shoes and shorts (yes, shorts in November), we were a clean cut family. One lady asked us to come in to her apartment. After passing through the blanket that draped the door we enter her cluttered, dark apartment. She had no kitchen table and had an aged container of Ramen noodles sitting on the stove. We delivered her the prepared meal and she became emotional, expressing thanks for the food. Amy asked her if she had any Christmas needs and she responded that she would like prayer for her son who suffers from scoliosis.
As I reflect back on this, it brings new appreciation for the Incarnation. Just as I felt that our appearance would make us not relatable to those we were serving, if Jesus had come to earth in all of his power and glory we would not be able to relate to him. Instead, he came to earth as a baby, grew up as a man, was tested, tempted, beaten, suffered loss and eventually killed. I’m thankful that because of God’s grace and his love for us, Christ made himself relatable by becoming human.
And that, my friends, is the reason for the season.
I would say Daniel has it right. Not only that…do you see any doubt he will be able to lead his family well? I don’t.
Written by cycleguy on November 23rd, 2016
As I write this it is a rainy Wednesday. The day before the world in general (with a few exceptions) will focus on Thanksgiving. True, some find football a whole lot more fun, but not this boy. My Thanksgiving Day will consist of the following:
The church serving our community a lunch from 11-1:00 at the local Lion’s Club (their building is in town and the church building is not). We will also deliver a whole bunch of meals.
I have two traditions that I have done for years. I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Santa Clause” sometime Thursday. Well, our local theater is going to show “IaWL” on Sunday for free so I will go to that. So Jo and I plan to watch “White Christmas,” one of my other staple movies during the holidays.
I’m guessing a nap might be in there somewhere.
I will take some time to be thankful. My recent car/bicycle accident has me a bit more reminiscent than normal. To be aware that only 2″ separated me from either permanent damage (paralysis) or even death, tends to wake up even the sleepiest soul. I’m not going to rehash the scene. You can read it here and here. Unfortunately, even though my memory wants to erase the event and forgive the perpetrator, my body keeps reminding me of it. On Monday I go to a general surgeon who will take a look at the giant hematoma on my left hip where he used me for a bumper car. I had to go to Urgent Care last week, and when nothing happened and things got worse with the rest of my leg, I went to my family doctor Tuesday. The surgeon will decide if it is be drained (can you say knock me out?) or let it go. It will be 3 weeks to the day that it happened. Not a day goes by that I don’t remember because my body reminds me.
However, I am also impressed by God’s amazing design and how it heals. The bruising is lessening (it has moved from my hip to my thigh/hamstring, to my knee, to my calf and now to my foot. The painfully sore bruised shoulder muscles (inside) have healed enough to start lifting weights again. I have yet to be back on my bike. Not because I’m afraid but because of the discomfort of this hematoma.
I’m thankful I’m alive. I’m thankful I have a family who was concerned. I’m thankful for a marvelous church family who showed me in spades how much they love me. It has been my pleasure to love them for 11 years. In less than a week they showed me what I meant to them. *Tears on cheeks right now* I am thankful for you, my online family, who have said you would pray for me. I believe you did. I still pray for the one who did it. Not for vengeance but so I can forgive them.
This has gone longer than any post I have written in the past 4 or 5 years so it is time to shut it down. 🙂 Thanks for listening. Thanks for your prayers. Be truly thankful this year.