Written by cycleguy on November 30th, 2015











We “decked the halls” this past week. By we, I mean the staff. We spent about 2 hours here on Saturday putting up lights and decorating. We chose to go simple rather than gaudy. The last thing I/we wanted to do was detract from the real reason we were there. We chose to use lit garland on the walls and line our beams with the “icicle-type” lights. The small pictures don’t give a true picture of the warmth and “air” it gave, but the people liked it.

Lights play a big part in Christmas celebrations. They had a dubious beginning though. The practice of putting lights on the tree was actually started by Martin Luther when he attached candle-holders to the tree’s limbs and wowed his family and friends with the first brightly lit Christmas tree. The practice swept across Germany. Soon craftsmen were plying their trade to produce more ornate candle-holders. But even with the more ornate holders, fire was still a hazard. Thousands of homes burned down due to the trees catching on fire.

In 1879 Thomas Edison changed all of that with his invention of the lightbulb. Three years later, one of his employees, Edward Johnson, decided to apply this new invention to the Christmas tree. They put their tree in the parlor and in 1882 decorated it with brightly colored electric lights. The lights shone through the window and it was an instant “drawing card” to people from miles around. Only upper class people could afford those early lights until GE put them in the $12 range. That was still too much when EverReady would make them available for $8. Some middle class homes were able to do that, but it was still out of reach for most. In 1924 GE and Westinghouse introduced a new set of lights which would become the standard for over 50 years. They burned cooler and offered better lighting than ever before. Eventually imagination took over and it was no longer just lights which were available. Snowflakes. Lit Santas. Icicles.

As they say…we’ve come a long way from what was to what is. For the good I might add…at least in this.

Years ago, Someone once called Himself “the Light of the world.” His light needs no electricity. His light is not available just to a certain class of people. His light is for all people, for all time. It does not surprise me the star which shown leading the wise men to the house where Jesus was staying shone so brightly for so long. His light still dispels darkness.

Historical information from this book by Ace Collins.



Written by cycleguy on November 29th, 2015

Well…so far we haven’t had to deal with that “white stuff” covering our lawns and roads. We had an original “fall” but it didn’t last very long, except in the shadows. But it has rained! Instead of a shovel I think I’m going to get a boat. :) But I’m not complaining.

I have several traditions I observe during the Christmas season.

Thanksgiving Day I watch It’s a Wonderful Life (except for this year) and The Santa Clause. I don’t have a TV in my “ManCave” since it went on the fritz last Spring so I have to “beg/borrow/steal” the use of Jo’s TV in the living room. She let me watch The Santa Clause on Thanksgiving Day. I didn’t watch “Wonderful Life” because our local theater is showing it free of charge tonight (Sunday). Small screen vs. humongous screen. The latter wins!

I have other movies I watch during the season. Santa Clause 2. Polar Express. White Christmas.

Jo put the tree up. (Artificial with lights on it).  Sorry all you purists. Allergies of some family members doomed a real tree and then the kids moved away. Although….

I set up a small village which includes a clock tower (BTTF); a church building (Duh!); a train station (I like to do 1000 piece train puzzles); a bike store (another Duh!) and several families enjoying time together (one in a gazebo and one singing). My girls bought them for me over the years (except for the bike store).

The staff decorated the inside of the auditorium for the first time. I’ll try to upload a picture.

Sadly, one of the traditions is contributing to my waist line (lots of chocolate) which makes me ride inside more.

Listening to my favorite Christmas album. And here is the first song off that CD.

Celebrating with the greatest people in the world.

What traditions do you have?



Written by cycleguy on November 26th, 2015

deck the halls3

Who is Jesus? You have to be careful asking that question these days. You never know what you might hear! I’ll be showing this video during my introduction Sunday.

One of the best books I have read which I highly recommend is by former atheist, Lee Strobel, called The Case for Christ. He has also written several other “The Case for…” books which I recommend. But it is interesting reading who people actually think Jesus is.

  • One of a 1000 Jews murdered by the Romans.
  • My personal Higher Power.
  • Jesus was Everyman. He could have been Morris.
  • Jesus was an enlightened being.
  • Jesus is about as real as Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or King Arthur.
  • Jesus is a fairy tale, a myth.

There are more but that should suffice as a good enough example. Funny thing: what people think today is really not a whole lot different than what they thought in Jesus’ day. I’ll be giving some examples of that Sunday.

I’ll also be talking about what the Bible says. Phil.2:6-8. Isaiah 9:6-7.

I happen to love Christmas. For years I railed against the commercialism. Said stupid things like if you turn the letters of SANTA around they spell SATAN. I never talked about Santa Claus. True, we do get carried away. And sometimes we idolize some parts of the season way too much. But no matter how you shake it, Christmas is still in the heart. Long story short…it still comes down to Jesus.

My theme for the month is “Deck the Halls.” I intend to celebrate!

Thanks to techgeek (Ryan) for the banner. I gave him the idea and he went with it.



Written by cycleguy on November 25th, 2015

I wasn’t going to write another post this week but felt an overflow of gratitude and wanted to share it with you. First, remember to take some time Thanksgiving Day to do what the day reminds us to do:


Our church family will be serving a FREE meal from 11-1:00 for the community. For those unable to come, we will deliver. It started last year when I heard about some folks who needed a meal. Despite the bitter cold, it went well. Because our homeless population is not a normal population (living under a bridge in a tent village, etc) it is hard to reach them. I heard of one just yesterday (Tuesday) who lives in the woods and unless he wants you to find him you won’t. I’d sure like to find out where he is and take a meal to him. But the person I was talking to does and will deliver it for us. We have another who lives in a camper with no heat or electricity and “watches over” a house which has been condemned because of flooding. So many hurting & broken people. So many different stories.

I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams. I’m not rolling in dough. I have no retirement. No SS. No big 403(b). I don’t live in a mansion. I choose not to wear fancy clothes. I drive a dependable truck. I serve a simple church with a simple building which is too small, but we choose to not rack up debt.  We choose to serve our community as much as possible. We choose to love.  I would not want to be anywhere else for all the money in the world.

I have a wife whom I love and have been married to for 42 1/2 years. I have two fantastic daughters, a son-in-law, and a one-of-a-kind grandson who lights up my world.

I have friends I have made down through the years. Doug, a college classmate. Jim, a cycling buddy and a true friend whom I still get together with. Ron & Joyce, older (than me) friends whom I tolerate since they like the St. Louis Cardinals. And friends I have made in the 10 years here whom I count as the dearest of all. I work with Diana and Ryan, the two best staff people I have known and worked with. I have online friends whom I have never met in person but feel a connection with.

Above all…I have Jesus. My life. My all. My reason.

Yes…I am blessed. “And I thank You, Father, for giving me blessings beyond counting. May my life be one of thanksgiving to You in every way, every day.”



Written by cycleguy on November 23rd, 2015

Deb asked me to write a post for Thanksgiving for Faith’nFriends. Because my schedule is hectic this week, I am going to use it for this post. I’m also going to be lying low the next few days. I will have a post for this weekend which will go live on Thursday night. This is a lot longer than I normally write but she wants something over 500 words. Enjoy… BTW: this will go live on Wednesday morning at Faith’nFriends at 8:00 (Eastern time).

I asked myself the same question I ask myself every year when it comes to sermons for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. What do I say that hasn’t already been said?

“Hello…Bill (think Biff knocking on McFly’s head in Back to the Future). Who says you have to say something different?”

True that. So a simple post it is.

I’d like to propose a small proposition statement: Forgettable: thanksgiving. Forgettable holiday: Thanksgiving Day. Unforgettable: God’s steadfast love.

Let’s take the first two. One simple question will set up why I say “forgettable.” Here it is: what is the one thing we often fail to do each day? Answer: be grateful. It is so much easier spouting off to God this unending shopping list of ideas/things He can and ought to do for us/things He should do for us/how He can answer our prayers with what we think is best. Thankful heart? Maybe…if we get around to it. So…now you know why I think thanksgiving is forgettable.

Second: forgettable holiday. Seriously (as my daughter says)? Do I really have to go into this?

Halloween hadn’t even passed before Christmas decorations and gift items were already on the shelves of WalMart, Target and all the other big box stores. Our local theater has been advertising for a free showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” for close to a month (and yes, I will be going). It won’t be long before we see sparklers taking the place of lights; Santa’s sleigh being pulled by 8 tiny rabbits; the wise men & shepherds wearing costumes; and a heart replacing Jesus in the manger. Sarcastic I know. But am I wrong? Think about it: Thanksgiving Day gets a bum rap. We love it because it means school is dismissed; work is shut down (for most professions); we get to eat without feeling guilty (because we will head to the gym the next day); we get to watch football instead of having social interaction. (I, for one, am not a football fan so it doesn’t matter to me who is playing). And wonder of all wonders! Black Friday is the next day kicking off what? The Christmas season (which has already been in full swing).

So…thanksgiving is forgettable. Thanksgiving Day is the forgettable holiday (or often overlooked).

One thing should not be overlooked, forgettable. We dare not forget God’s love never changes. Romans 8 is a feast of truth. There is way too much for me write about here but let me give you some ideas.

Romans 8:1-2. Can there be any greater blessing for which to be thankful than knowing you have been set free from sin and bondage and are no longer under condemnation?

Romans 8: 16-17. So many live with insecurity-with their lives and their salvation. Take a closer look: children and heirs. As I am want to say: Holy mackerel! Can there be anything much better?

Romans 8: 28-29. Everyone focuses on verse 28 but verse 29 says, “He has predestined us to be conformed to the image of Jesus!” That is another “Holy mackerel!” moment.

Romans 8:31-39. The coup de gras. Is there any more powerful set of words and thoughts put together under “one roof” than those? “Who shall separate us…?” “Neither death nor life, nor angels…”

Don’t let Thanksgiving Day pass by without taking some time to read and ponder the powerful truths in Romans 8. I have this sneaking suspicion you won’t forget this Thanksgiving for a long time.



Written by cycleguy on November 22nd, 2015


White stuff? What is that white stuff? More specifically: what is that white stuff falling from the sky?

Saturday started like many other days…lots to do and only a limited amount of time to do it all in. Someone was borrowing an 8′ table from the church for her booth and since I have a truck I told her I would bring it. Her Taurus vs. Nissan Frontier.  I win. While heading there it was overcast. Yay! I won’t have to wipe down the table. But since I knew I would be heading back in about 6 hours I left my cover folded up, exposing the truck bed. No problem…I have a Rhino liner.

When I headed back to see Jo and to eat lunch at the Tri Kappa bazaar, it was overcast and spitting rain. Shortly thereafter I was playing with one of the little girls from the church when someone told me to look outside. I wish I hadn’t! White stuff falling…thick and moist.

Perfect for snowballs or a snowman but lousy if your truck bed is open and you will  be carrying a table later.  Really lousy if you aren’t ready for that white stuff to fall. I mean…summer just got over!

I think it is safe to say there is a warning there. Winter is coming. Get ready. Get out those gloves and coats and hat (no hair requires one).

Too bad we don’t spend as much time getting ready for Jesus coming as we do getting ready for winter.



Written by cycleguy on November 19th, 2015

One of the things “us older” people will remember from church or (even today) if you come from a more traditional denomination  is a thing called Responsive Reading. The pastor or leader would read something, then the whole congregation would read something in unison in response to what he just said.

Silly me! It is just like what we find in Psalm 136.

“His steadfast love endures forever.” 26 times it appears. They are in response to the 26 affirmations about God.

This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving should be an every day occurrence. It would be if we could keep in mind the powerful truth: HIS STEADFAST LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.

This Sunday I plan to explore this psalm closer. There are actually 3 things we can be thankful for:

The Wonder of Creation

The Wonder of Salvation

The Wonder of Steadfast Love

What a powerful truth to remember each day. That, and more, is the reason we need to have heart of thanksgiving.

Now you can break out in song.



Written by cycleguy on November 18th, 2015

Hindsight is 20/20. That is what they tell us.  I’ve been reading a book called Farewell Titanic and one of the officers had formerly been disciplined and demoted for a short time for disobeying an order. (It was actually a good thing he did). One of the comments the author made is this officer regrets not disobeying Captain Smith’s order of “full steam ahead.” He was also the one who made the call to avoid the berg. He wished he had trusted his gut instinct of hitting the berg straight on (they doubt Titanic would have sunk then).

Hindsight is good to have…sometimes. We can right wrongs. We can learn from our mistakes. We can see how a different choice would have could have turned things around.

But sometimes hindsight is bad. Always looking in the rearview mirror keeps distraction high. It keeps preoccupation on the cusp. It keeps us looking over our shoulder (ever tried that while mowing your lawn?). Sometimes the past just needs to be buried. Dealt with and buried. You can’t change it. Especially the ugly parts (we all have them).

I hope you are looking through your windshield and not your rearview mirror.

And yes, I am a Titanic buff.



Written by cycleguy on November 16th, 2015

Several years ago the church’s peace, calm and “settled-for existence” was shattered by a war.  It was a war of such magnitude the stained glass windows of traditional pipe-organ churches were rattled; the foundations of many of the “tried-and-true” denominations were shaken; it brought out the pundits to condemn and criticize endlessly; and it brought about both cries for help and also cries of revival.

The war?

It was given the title “Worship Wars.”

For those of us involved in the church sides were taken. “How dare they bring that new music into the church?” vs. “We heard this new song and it has excellent lyrics. Here listen!” The new music was either embraced or rejected. Depending on which one determined which side of the “worship war” you were on.

I will say it up front. I like the new music. I like music that moves my heart and moves me. (I don’t dance so that is not what I’m talking about). I like music with a beat. I also like music that slows down some.

What I don’t like is sameness. Same order. Same songs. Same beat/rhythm. Same 4 verses & chorus arrangement. I’m not a pipe organ fan by any stretch. I’m not a hymn person and singing songs in worship which are not worship songs at all (Beyond the Sunset, When the Roll is Call Up Yonder, In the Garden, etc).

What I really dislike in sameness is doing the same thing each week. It is so ingrained in some churches that you would think Lucifer appeared if the order is changed.

Only two prerequisites were required to worship and they are straight from Jesus’ mouth: “Those who worship must worship in spirit and in truth.” Worship must be from the heart and centered around God’s revealed truth. That can happen with hymns or it can happen singing Chris Tomlin.

The only thing worth “fighting” for is for the fame of God’s Name. That is to be the purpose of worship anyway. The style of music and the order of worship can be varied. Just don’t mess with giving glory to Him.

Your thoughts?

This is part of my ongoing and random posts on this book:

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Written by cycleguy on November 15th, 2015

The world woke up Sunday morning to a shock.  Well…the sporting world anyway. Holly Holm had soundly defeated Rhonda Rousey in UFC fighting.

Meanwhile…back at the farm…the world is still whirling over the devastation of the Paris attack by ISIS (a peaceful religion).

I was preaching today on a church “Keeping Up” (Relevant for those so inclined to use that word).  I was upstaged.

In a very good way I might add.  Owen Franklin Pendleton took his first trip to church since his birth on November 1. Owen spent a couple days in the Special Care Unit until his heartbeat was normal. It was beating way too high so they kept him under special watch. Here’s a cool thing: his heartbeat remained high until the time Erin (the mom) picked him up and held him and sang to him. His breathing dropped to normal almost immediately.  He upstaged me. I had his folks introduce him and when I got up to preach later he decided to make his presence known. :)

Meanwhile…the people of Paris are still trying to make sense of the carnage.

One week ago more people may have cared about the knockout of Rousey. More important things to think about these days. The tragedy across the pond. In our case, the presence of Owen. It never ceases to amaze me how some things which are deemed so important are brought into perspective by another event.

Makes you want to stop and think about what is really important. A knockout or a senseless carnage. A sermon or a new baby. And while you are at it: you may want to say a prayer for the people of Paris and include the Pendletons.