Ponderings

Written by cycleguy on November 23rd, 2014

This is Thanksgiving week (as if you didn’t already know!) :) It is going to be a short week in the blogging department since I plan to post on Wednesday night and not do so again until Sunday night. I know that seriously disappoints you, but I’m sure you will survive. :P

Sunday I preached from Luke 17: 11-19-the story of the 10 lepers. If you know the story, they cried out for mercy (translated: please get us out of this living hell called leprosy) and Jesus gave them unique instructions: go the priest and show yourself to him. That would require 8 days of various inspections, sacrifices and rituals. On their way, they were healed and only one returned. There are three thoughts that hit me from that encounter:

1. How could anyone be cured as they were and be ungrateful? Let’s not be too judgmental and condescending though. How often have we been recipients of good things and failed to say thanks?

2. Notice who does come back: a foreigner, i.e. a Samaritan. The hatred between Jew and Samaritan has been well-documented. There is no need to reiterate that. But isn’t it sad that those who have the most reason to say thanks don’t?

3. It took an effort to come back. He was running to the priest when he saw he was healed. He stopped and returned to say thanks. Sometimes gratitude is inconvenient. Sending an email. Writing a hand-written note. Making that personal visit. All of them take an effort. But it is well worth it.  On the day I was writing this particular part of my sermon, all three of those things happened. It was really uplifting.

I am personally going to really try to focus my heart this week so Thanksgiving is not just a holiday to observe. I want it to be a lifestyle to be lived.

How about you?

 

Thanksgiving

Written by cycleguy on November 20th, 2014

Hard Question: what is the most often forgotten time of the year but is still special?

Still don’t know? What holiday is sandwiched between the ghastliness of Halloween and the celebration of Christmas?

Still don’t know? What holiday begins with “T” and ends with “G” and has HANKSGIVIN in between?

Silly I know. You probably got it between the second and third question. Right? :)

The sad part about Thanksgiving is it doesn’t have the spiritual flavor of Easter…the Resurrection. It doesn’t have the pop of July 4th. It doesn’t have the national flavor of Memorial Day or Labor Day. It doesn’t have the “love” factor of Valentine’s Day. Thanksgiving is…just…well…there.

But I contend Thanksgiving should hold a special place in the heart of every person, especially those who follow Christ. Every person has much to be thankful for if they have a roof over their head, clothes on their body, and food in their stomach. The follower of Christ has even more.

Truthfully, even though there is very little fanfare given to Thanksgiving (except for some having a day off or watching football, eating, etc), the follower of Christ should relish it.

For that reason I am preaching on Luke 17:11-19 this Sunday. It is also the reason I will be taking a few days next week to post some Thanksgiving thoughts and after Wednesday’s post, take the rest of the weekend off. (Besides, my daughter and grandson are coming to visit next Friday. Sorry they take precedence over my blog.) :)

Thanks for your prayers this weekend. Have a great weekend.

 

Ricky’sSecondChance

Written by cycleguy on November 19th, 2014

This past April through June I hosted a series of posts written by guests about their Second Chance. I started it with this one.  Several of you wrote posts starting here and following each Tuesday after that about a broad range of Second Chances. I asked today’s author to write one and he said, “Yes, but I am notoriously slow.” I was thinking, “That’s okay. I will just put him at the end.” I thought he had forgotten me until late last week I received his post via email. I will let you read his post and then tell you about him at the end.

I was a troublemaker in middle school. Between middle and high school, we moved. This gave me a chance to turn over a new leaf.

In high school I was doing better, but my parents had noticed my grades were slipping. They gave me an ultimatum – get a 3.0 average, or lose my driver’s license.

The driver’s license is the key to every teenager’s heart.

Report card day came. I was just under a 3.0. In my favorite teacher’s class, I had gotten a B-. I needed a B.

I begged. I pleaded. The teacher wouldn’t budge.

I left her desk in the foulest of moods. I headed back to my computer under a storm cloud no one but me could see.

My screen didn’t have my in-progress assignment on it. Instead, it simply read “SUCKER”.

I stared at it for a moment, turning red as my internal boiler turned up the heat.

Then the kid next to me snickered.

He’d been a pain in my side all year, but one I had tried to ignore. Now, though, I felt as if I had nothing to lose.

I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I do recall his chair flew the opposite way he did. I punched until he hit the ground.

I had been given a second chance, and I had just thrown it away.

I glanced up at my teacher, who appeared to be busy straightening her desk. I knew I was in for it, so I simply left.

No one ever said anything. Not my teacher, not the other kid.

Years later, I ran into my teacher. I asked her if she saw what happened, and she had. I asked why she didn’t say anything.

“You had been making an effort to turn things around. So I gave you a second chance.”

Who can you give a second chance to today?

Ricky Anderson is married and has a 3-yr-old son and an almost 1 yr-old daughter. He works in IT and blogs here, but by his own admission does so very infrequently. I’m grateful Ricky is giving me an opportunity to post his Second Chance. Do you have a Second Chance story you would like to tell. Email me at pastor@ovcf.org and I’ll let you know the “rules.” :)

 

 

Relieved

Written by cycleguy on November 18th, 2014

I began 2014 with a goal in mind when preaching. Christened “The Great Adventure,” I spent the entire year in the Gospels. Matthew/January. Mark/February. And so on. I repeated after 4 months. Not same sermons silly! Although I suspect a pastor could do that and some wouldn’t know. :) All my personal Bible reading was also in the Gospels….until September. Since my plan for 2015 is dubbed “Freedom!!” (think William Wallace kind), I have been reading over and over Galatians through Colossians each week. One week Galatians; next week Ephesians; etc. I used my ESV Reader’s Bible and read through the Psalms (September/October) and Proverbs (October).

I also started reading through the Old Testament again. The past couple of days I have been slogging through chapters 25-31. Can I say this without being irreverent? Y-A-W-N!  For those who choose not to look, it is all the measurements and make up of the materials for the Tabernacle.

Now before you hang me out to dry…I know God had specific reasons for giving those instructions. (And that reason was not to give me a small chance to stare at the inside of my eyelids).

I can say this: combined with reading Galatians through Colossians there is little doubt in my mind the freedom Jesus offers through His death on the cross and resurrection sure beats all those sacrifices, blood-spattering, robes, and ceremonies. I enjoy my freedom from the confines of the Law and living in Grace. I’m relieved.

I hope you have come to realize the magnificence of GRACE. There’s nothing like it. Have you?

 

Brother

Written by cycleguy on November 17th, 2014

If you read my last post, I mentioned some of my favorite singers. I left one out…my favorite of all.

I have three brothers. All younger than me.  This post is about my next brother, Rob. More specifically, it is about something Rob has just completed.

Growing up I took the sports route; Rob took the music route.  As an upcoming High school senior Rob made a decision to follow Jesus with all his heart. My decision led me to become a pastor; Rob took to the road as a singer. We started in PA. His life has gone full circle and he finds himself now living in PA with his wife, Joy.

Rob’s last recorded CD was in 1992. He just recorded another called GRACE. It is homegrown, recorded in his basement with a minimal of production. No lavish strings. No pounding drums. No big budget. NO SECOND RATE EITHER.

One thing I appreciate about Rob is he believes in excellence. And in spite of the bare bones approach, or maybe because of it, you will appreciate the simple sound. You will appreciate the message of the songs. You will appreciate the smoothness of his voice. I have always been proud of Rob’s singing…perhaps no more so than now. His voice and soul match the depth of the lyrics.

Better Day will have you tapping your feet. The 1917 hymn, The Love of God, will lift your soul in praise. Two written by Rob, I Find My Hope In You and More or Less stand out as exceptional songs. Two bonus songs are original Christmas songs which I believe are second to none.

I am asking you to trust me, I know, when I ask you to buy a CD you never listened to. It is smooth, easy listening music that would sound good with a big band behind him or the simple arrangements he and J.D.Miller have put together.

You can buy it for $15 plus $1 for shipping. You order it from him. His email is netmin412@gmail.com or FB:Net Ministries Rob Grandi.

You may think “shameless promotion.” Yes, it is and I make no apologies. I’m uber proud of Rob (in case you can’t tell). Why else would this 62 year old “rocker” encourage you to buy a CD that is outside his box? :)

I’m going to sweeten the deal a little. Make a comment and I will put your name in for a drawing to receive a free copy of GRACE.

 

Secrets

Written by cycleguy on November 16th, 2014

Growing up I had several musical groups I listened to. Early on it was the Beatles, Turtles, Credence, Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons, and my all-time favorite, Tommy James & the Shondells. (But you already knew that didn’t you Floyd?).

Saturday night I turned on the TV to watch some scores and while I was surfing came across a docudrama about the Temptations. “My Girl.” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” “Just My Imagination.” “You’re My Everything.” And more. They were a hit making soul machine throughout the 60s and into the 70s. But like many other singers, then and now, they had their secrets. Secrets which caught up to them.

David Ruffin died of a cocaine overdose.

Eddie Kendricks died of lung cancer from a lifetime of chain smoking.

Paul Williams died of alcoholism and a gunshot wound.

A later addition died of a drug overdose.

The group, even though they had been childhood friends from the same neighborhood, was rocked by strife, arguments, and mistrust. Marriages ended. Jealousy was huge.

We often look at people with stars in our eyes. Proof positive? Check out the reaction of today’s paparazzi as they “hound” celebrities. TV. Sports. Movies. You name it. Recent revelations show they also carry secrets.

Me? I like my anonymity. But guess what? I have secrets too. We all do. We might say, “I’m on open book. What you see is what you get.” But my wager is…not completely. Past and present mistakes. Past and present indiscretions. Past and present regrets take their toll.

Complete honesty is hard. We fear exposure. We fear expulsion. We fear not being loved and accepted. Full disclosure puts fear in the stoutest heart. But there is ONE who knows us as we are…all our sins…all our failures…all our secrets…and still loves us unconditionally. HE makes us new, beyond our imagination.

Any thoughts?

 

Storms

Written by cycleguy on November 13th, 2014

Well…we saw our first series of snow flakes today. Didn’t come to anything (thank you Jesus) but it is a precursor to what is coming…WINTER.  I don’t complain about the weather since I have nothing to do with it and can’t change it, but….I’m just sayin’! ;)

Last winter was a nasty one for us. Way too much snow which I had to shovel. Way too bitter cold which I had to get out in. I had knee surgery in November which put me inside on the bike trainer (how many times can I say B-O-R-I-N-G?).

They are saying our winter may be like last year…lots of storms.

Sort of like life. I have been talking to some folks recently who seem to be going through one storm after another. We wish it could be “one and done” like college basketball players, but for many it appears like they are no sooner done than another storm hits. Unfortunately, like the weather, we really have no control over those storms. We can “control” how we react toward them, but can’t just speak the word and the storm is calm.

The disciples did have an experience with Jesus in Luke 8: 22-27 while in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. Sea-hardened fishermen afraid seems like it is so out of character. But they didn’t need to fear, as they found out. The ONE who could calm the storm was in the boat with them. Just like with us. The storm hits and we feel out of control. But the ONE who can calm the storm is in the boat with us. Sometimes (as a song once said) He doesn’t calm the storm; He calms His child.

My sermon Sunday is on the Miracle of Peace. Peace is not the absence of conflict. Peace comes to those whose confidence is in the Calmer of the Storm. I’d appreciate your prayers. As an added “bonus” I will be showing this video before the message. Maybe it will mean something to you as well.

 

Opposites

Written by cycleguy on November 12th, 2014

I have become sort of a Titanic buff. I use that term “buff” because it sounds so much better than junkie or freak. Some might say obsessed. Call it what you will; I have big shoulders. :)

I’ve just recently finished reading two fantastic books written by Daniel Allen Butler. One is called Unsinkable and the other is called The Other Side of the Night: The Carpathia, the Californian, and the Night the Titanic was Lost. Yeah, that is a long book title. :)

The first book was about the Titanic. The second, while it had Titanic as a backdrop, was focused on the two other ships which played a vital role the evening of April 14, 1912. It is true Titanic was considered unsinkable. Rumor had it said, “Not even God could sink that ship.” That particular saying has never been substantiated, but the feeling of its unsinkability was real and even expressed by several. But it is also fact that when Titanic floundered and was on its way to becoming the biggest maritime disaster in history, two other ships were also in the drama.

The Carpathia was over 58 miles and approximately 4-6 hours away when it received word of Titanic hitting the iceberg. Captain Alan Rostron went into high gear and pulled out all the stops to get to Titanic as quickly as possible. The story is fascinating how he “begged” speed out of the Carpathia.

The Californian on the other hand, was about 5-10 miles away. She saw the flares. She saw the stars which burst from those flares. They saw the lights of Titanic. But Captain Stanley Lord did nothing. In fact, he slept while Titanic sunk. The Californian, its captain and crew had the chance to make headlines, but due to the attitude of Captain Lord (who bullied his crew), they did nothing.

Both are well-researched books and worthy of reading, especially if you are interested in Titanic. I actually found “Night” for $3 at a discount book store in our area. Both are available from Amazon. You can click on the link for more info.

But Mr. Butler summed it up well when he talked about the passion of the two captains. The difference fueled their response to the disaster, as well as how they acted toward their crew and at the inquiry. It also determined their future.

Our attitude will determine our passion as well. For our job. Our family. Our church. Our Lord. The lost. A lot rides on that when you really think about it. How is yours? Where is it focused?

 

DTR

Written by cycleguy on November 11th, 2014

Product Details

DTR. “Define the Relationship.”

The past eleven weeks (except for last week) starting here, I have been taking Wednesday to discuss Matt Chandler’s book, Creature of the Word. My study has taken us through seeing the creature (the church) through various “eyes.” Worship. Community. Church culture. Preaching. To name a few. If you have been in on the discussions, I hope they made you think. :)

This last post hits home. “Define the relationship” is used to describe a heart-level conversation a couple might have for the good of their relationship. The good and the bad. The strong and the weak points.

I think every church needs to have “DTR” moments as well. Church leadership needs to have them. Just this past weekend the church leadership did some defining. We are in the process of growing (a good thing) and need to make sure we are on the same page. Even a side thing like going from two services to one during the winter needs to be analyzed for the good of the people involved. Personal feelings and agendas must be set aside sometimes for the good of all.

While a church needs to “DTR,” there is no more important relationship to define than the leader’s relationship with the Father. Be it a pastor, a worship leader, an elder, a teacher, or anyone else, a close relationship with the Father is a must. Prayer is essential. Spending time in the Bible on a daily basis is a must. Interacting with each other. All are important.

What is important to me as a pastor is I need to be the same person in private as I am in public. That is a convicting statement for me. Not always are my private thoughts or feelings ones to be proud of. Each time I stand in the pulpit I need to be aware of my heart and where it has been and where it is. Are my motives for being up here pure? Are my thoughts His thoughts? I go back to that Scripture I used several weeks ago: “May I never boast except in the cross of Christ.”

So I bring this series to a close. It has been good for me to read the book then go back over it and “flesh out” some of my thoughts. My question for you is have you DTR?

 

Healing

Written by cycleguy on November 10th, 2014

Jo is having a second cataract surgery today so I find my day shortened quite a bit. I have to submit to the lazy way today…I am going to borrow from someone.

I have come to appreciate Jared Wilson’s posts at Gospel Driven Church. His post here hit a home run in my ballgame.  I’d like to ask you to read it, but please pay particular attention to his application of the Essenes, Pharisees, Sadducees and Zealots. It begins in the 5th paragraph. I know it may not be some of your cup of tea, but he really makes an excellent point about idolatry. With the election just completed and the “high” of victory for some, we need to realize and remember no amount of legislation will bring about change.

Change comes from change of hearts. It is when each one of us makes the decision to love one another, to treat each other with respect, and (in my world) point people to the True Healer (Jesus), that true change will happen. True healing with come to our churches, our homes, our schools, our local towns, our government (state and federal) when we change our hearts. No political agenda is the answer…although I do believe in standards.

I’d like to know your thoughts. And would appreciate any prayers you might send up for Jo.

Due to a comment: Jared’s post is not about politics. Neither is mine. I prefer to stay out of that garbage. or is that sewage?