Driven

Written by cycleguy on March 25th, 2015

When we say someone is “driven” we are commenting on their desire to get things done, their oomph, so to speak. We will especially note their passion or what makes them tick.

When we say someone is “driven” we will often tag them a label- like OCD- or something like that.  They may not have or be OC but their “drive” keeps them hopping and desiring that of others as well.

I thought of that when I read the following quote from Jesus Continued by J.D.Greear:

Let me remark that being ‘led by the Spirit of God’ is a remarkable expression. The Bible does not say, ‘As many as are driven by the Spirit of God.’ No, the devil is a driver, and when he enters either into me or into hogs he drives them furiously. (p.87)

The reference to the hogs is from Mark 5:1-20.

Jesus once said, “And I, when I am lifted up, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32) Interesting word used  there. Jesus uses the word “draw” not “drag.” The word for draw in the Greek is used for “to draw like a magnet.” Not drag. Not force. Draw. I have a loved one I am praying for. He said he once loved Jesus and now gives no credence to Him at all. My daily prayer? “Lord, draw Him to You.” He can’t be driven. He has to be drawn by the love of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Trying to drive people or to drag them to Jesus never has worked and never will. Besides, it is a much more responsive awareness to be drawn and make a decision of our own volition.

I’m leaving Friday morning for Ohio to bring my grandson back to Indiana for a week. I will be out of touch for 2-3 days. I will see you on Sunday night or Monday (whichever works for you). Have a great weekend. Please say a prayer for Ryan since he will be preaching Sunday on Jesus’ final sayings #5 & 6.

 

Fools

Written by cycleguy on March 24th, 2015

thefi5thgospel

Growing up calling or being called a “Fool” was not a compliment.  It, of course, represented someone who did something dumb or stupid. The meaning of the word hasn’t changed. It can also mean someone or something that is different. Someone who doesn’t fit the mold or status quo.

The word is used several times in the Bible:

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” Ps.53:1

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” Pr.12:15 (Great comparison)

“Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” Pr.28:26  (Another great comparison)

“You fool. Tonight your soul will be required of you.” Luke 12:20

Needless to say, even in Bible days, being called a fool was not a compliment. So, why in the world would Paul write, “We are fools for Christ’s sake”?

Bobby’s idea is “embracing the ridiculous.” (p.122) My translation? Following Jesus is not always the easiest thing, nor is it always the the “sanest and safest thing.” Followers of Jesus will often do things which go against the grain (in a good way). They will stretch their faith and their spiritual muscles to advance the cause of Christ.

Numerous examples abound in the Bible of this very thing:

Abraham was to be the father of many and then is asked to kill his son.

Joshua is to battle Jericho but not to raise a single arm in aggression. Just walk and shout.

Isaiah is told to walk around naked for 3 years to get his message across. (not sure that would go over well) :)

Naaman, the leper, told to dip 7 times in the Jordan and be cleansed.

Gideon’s army being whittled down from thousands to 300 to fight the Midianites.

God still asks His people to do amazing things. If that is what it means to be a “fool,” then count me in. Only…be real careful in which context you call me one. :)

How about you?

 

 

 

Job

Written by cycleguy on March 23rd, 2015

I had a friend who was seeking once say he discovered and read the book of Job (pronounced like the thing we do every day). I chuckled and told him it was pronounced Job (long “o”). What struck him was the reality of Job’s life. He was going through a tough time which included a fire, children taken away, false accusations, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

This post is not about that Job. It is about the other job. You know…the thing we do to earn our keep in this world.

I love my job. If I was independently wealthy and was not being paid by the church, I would do this gig for free. I love it that much. On April 13th I will celebrate 40 years of my ordination into the ministry. At that time the ordination was the “official” day. I had been preaching since the end of my sophomore year in college (1972), but on April 13, 1975 I put on my “big pastor pants” and become official. Official what I’m not sure…but I did. I’ll actually write a post about that day on that day, but for now suffice it to say it was an important day.

I love my job. Other than a few times when I (for reasons mostly mine) found myself having to move, i.e. being asked to leave (a whole ‘nother story), I have never regretted doing what I do. Not even when I have nights like last night where a crisis has me running on 3 hours sleep over the last 36 hours (at this point). I told our youth pastor when I left him at 3:15 am: “This is ministry because it is about people.” Not all days are like this. Not all “seasons of ministry” are like this. But this is what it is all about:

PEOPLE.

Helping. Caring. Supporting. Encouraging. And more.

Yeah…I love my job…even in seasons like this. :)

How about you?

 

CRY

Written by cycleguy on March 21st, 2015

If you read my last post, I wrote about the agony of alone-ness Jesus experienced on the cross. From the concern for His mother-whose life she placed with John-to His own guttural scream at His Father’s “absence,” Matthew includes the incident and phrase which none of the others include.

I realize there are those who say Jesus never experienced separation on the cross. He would never be abandoned. But the way I read John’s account leaves little doubt in my mind.

We expect Him to cry out of pain. And He did. What He did not do was get even with His crucifiers and abusers. “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth.” I Peter 3:21

“He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter…so He opened not His mouth.” Isaiah 53:7

The one time He did was a guttural scream directed at His Father. Interesting fact (which you may already know): three times He spoke to His Father. “Father, forgive them.” “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Sandwiched in between is the one: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Notice the word change from Father to God? For the first time He experienced the lack of intimacy He never had before.

What a difference a word makes! “Father.” “God.” I’ve known a lack of intimacy with God. There have been times “Father”-Abba- was on my lips. But so has “God”- a cry of desperation and loneliness.

I’m glad my relationship is not based on my feelings, but on the truth of Scripture. Two cries. Two different meanings. For Jesus. For me. For you.

How was that alone-ness resolved for you? What steps did you take to alleviate that pain?

 

One

Written by cycleguy on March 19th, 2015

Chances are good when you saw the title a song filtered through your mind. Harry Nilson, the writer, sure wrote truth in those lyrics. I found an article dated May 8, 2014 which said Britain was the loneliest capital in the world. It also said more young people suffer from loneliness than those over 55. It is linked to increased stress, depression, paranoia, anxiety, addiction, cognitive decline and is a known factor in suicide.

We all know people who are lonely…and lonely for different reasons. What is it like to be abandoned? I can remember the panic Jo & I felt when we turned around and our oldest daughter was gone. They found her at the other end of the mall looking for us because she couldn’t find us and had heard we were going to go to a certain store. Trust me when I say she (and us) was scared.

One is a lonely number. No one wants to be alone. He was thinking of His mother when he looked at John and said, “Behold, your mother.” But then the spotlight turns on Him when He experiences something He had never experienced before: separation from His Father. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

A-L-O-N-E. For the first time ever. This wasn’t a whimper either; it was a guttural scream. Estrangement. ONE.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but in every respect has been tempted as we are, but without sin.” Heb.4:15 (ESV)

There you go. Never alone. He understands.

My sermon Sunday is on the two referenced incidents while Jesus was on the cross. Thanks for your prayers.

 

GoodSpeech

Written by cycleguy on March 18th, 2015

I started off this week with a post on Speech. I followed it up with a post on Speech. I conclude it with this post on (what else?)…speech. But rather than take my word for it, I thought I would allow some passages from the book of Proverbs do my speaking (Ahem) for me! :)

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” 10:11

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” 10:19

“The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.” 10:20-21

“The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but the perverse tongue will be cut off. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse.” 10:31-32

“Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.” 11;12

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” 12:18-19

There are tons more. Enough to keep me repenting all day long! :) So rather than “speak” too much, let me just ask you this: what is one of your favorite “speaking” verses?

 

Suffering

Written by cycleguy on March 17th, 2015

thefi5thgospel

Some people know suffering. And some people KNOW suffering.

Stories abound right now about followers of Jesus in countries like India, China and all places associated with Islam, where life is horrendous because of following Jesus. Children, parents, friends and others they love massacred before their eyes. That is suffering!

But then again, so is someone dealing with past shame.

But then again, so is someone dealing with childhood abuse.

But then again, so is someone dealing with ongoing health issues and chronic pain.

Suffering has no favorites. The depth and intensity might differ, but suffering is part and parcel of living on this planet.

But it matters not what we are going through; it is how we go through it. It is making sure we don’t quit. It is trusting in an all-sufficient Father who feels our pain and promises to never leave us.

We can choose to allow suffering to do us in, or we can choose to use suffering as a stepping stone to a deeper walk with Jesus. The enemy has a sinister plan: to drive a wedge between us and God. He gets us to question the wisdom and presence of God. “Are you really sure He loves you? If He did, why in the world would he allow this to happen to you?”

Bobby’s chapter on suffering delves into some of the questions we struggle with far more than I have here. I recommend checking out his book.

What are your thoughts on suffering?

 

Railed

Written by cycleguy on March 16th, 2015

In Sunday’s sermon I talked about the two thieves on either side of Jesus. Matthew seems to indicate they both went on the offensive in mocking Jesus, but somewhere along the line one of them changed. Luke 23 tells us while the one “railed” against Jesus, the other basically told him to ‘shut up’ because while they were guilty, He was innocent.

What a strange word: railed. The ESV uses it while others use “scoff” (NLT); “blasphemed” (NKJV); “cursed” (MSG); “yell insults” (HCSB); and “hurling abuse” (NASB). We are more familiar with the others, but railed? Not so much. As you can gather, there are several meanings to the word. One of the things I found is it included obscenities.

I suspect some may be offended by what I say in this post…well, so be it. I am not an idiot. I can read reports of the change of values. I can see them. One of them is the use of obscenities/profanity. Without a doubt it has been a part of history, probably since the beginning of time in one way or another. I guess what bothers me is the lackadaisical attitude so many followers of Christ have toward the use of obscenities. I realize it is in vogue. Strange as it may seem to you: I married a woman who has never uttered a profanity out of anger or just speaking. (Wish I could say that). And we certainly did not allow “OMG!” (or some form of it) to be used in our household.

I also know I come from a different age. Never is that more  evident than the common (mis)use of obscenities from the pulpit. Frankly, I am appalled by the use of profanity in or out of the pulpit by men who say they are called by God. I have great difficulty believing Jesus would approve of our use of profanity to “reach the masses.” I seem to  remember Paul saying, “But now you must put them all away…obscene talk from your mouth.” (Col.3:8)

I may be wrong (but don’t think I am), Christ-followers are to have a different speech pattern than those who don’t follow Jesus. That includes all of us. That especially includes men who stand in the pulpit.

What do you think?

 

Mouthy

Written by cycleguy on March 15th, 2015

As in “you have a big mouth.”

As in “do you always speak before you think?”

As in “does your mouth always engage before your brain?’

Guilty as charged. Growing up I was not allowed to be “mouthy” towards my parents. I paid the price for doing so. The day I thought I was “too big for my britches” was the day my dad decided a lesson was definitely needed in humility. Yeah…you get the point.

Being an extrovert, I tend to speak first before thinking. As I have gotten older, I have learned to “engage brain before mouth.” I got myself into a lot of hot water by my failure to do so. There is a verse of Scripture I needed to listen and learn: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” (Ps.141:3) Reading in Proverbs recently revealed the following:

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” 15:1

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” 12: 18

There are more, of course. I’m sure I could retire on the interest alone if I had a dollar for every ill-spoken word I have said in my 62 years. But that cycle can stop…and stop it must! Maturity has hopefully given me some wisdom to know when to speak and when to keep my mouth shut. But I know I still speak out of turn.

I plan to explore this strange phenomena of our speech this week. I hope you will join me. Meanwhile, what do you do to curtail your words?

 

 

Forgiveness

Written by cycleguy on March 12th, 2015

Want an interesting assignment? Google famous last words. Man! Talk about a litany of quotes!! What does that have to do with forgiveness and this post? Hang in there with me…please. :)

I am taking an interlude from Galatians and preaching a short series called “Famous Last Words.” I’m doing the first four; Ryan is taking the next two; I have the final one on Easter.  The Gospels writers recorded the 7 last sayings from the cross. As I studied them I was struck by how they fall together-almost in twos. The first two are absolutely beautiful:

“Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”

“Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Did you know the Greek construction of the first saying literally means He kept on praying “Father, forgive them”? It has always been depicted as a one-and-done scene. Not true. Each time something happened those words fell from His lips. Amazing!

And He still had time to acknowledge the thief on the cross and secure his salvation: “Today you WILL BE with me…”  An act of forgiveness which released this career criminal from his chains and set him free.

That story never changes and I love telling it. So does Eileen. Go take a look at her post from yesterday.  In the meantime, I’d appreciate your prayers for Sunday. Thanks.