Excitement

Written by cycleguy on December 8th, 2017

 

Perhaps you have heard the story about the little girl who came home from Sunday School triumphantly waving a paper. “Mommy!” she said. “My teacher says I drew the most unusual Christmas picture she has ever seen!”

The mother studied the picture for a moment and concluded it was indeed a very peculiar Christmas picture. “This is wonderfully drawn, but why have you made all these people riding on the back of an airplane?” the mother gently asked.

“It’s the flight into Egypt,” the little girl said, with a hint of disappointment that the picture’s meaning was not immediately obvious.

“Oh,” the mother said cautiously. “Well, who is this mean-looking man at the front?”

“That’s Pontius, the Pilot,” the girl said, now visibly impatient.

“I see. And here you have Mary and Joseph and the baby,” the mother volunteered. Studying the picture silently for a moment, she summoned the courage to ask, “But who is this fat man sitting behind Mary?”

The little girl sighed. “Can’t you tell? That’s Round John Virgin!”

We laugh, but the sad truth is that little girl’s mixed-up perspective of Christmas is not really a whole lot more muddled than what the average person carries around. In fact, many are so jaded they don’t even want to hear the Christmas story anymore. Look at the faces of many of the people walking around the stores. Many of them are haggard-looking, definitely not all that thrilled about Christmas.

When did we lose the excitement of Christmas? At what age did it become so “old” to us? Well…something excited the prophets! Something excited the shepherds! Something excited the angels! That very same something should excite us also. My sermon this Sunday is about that…Familiarity Breeds Excitement. And as you might be able to piece together it is about the prophets and the angels and the shepherds. And hopefully…me.

 

Alone?

Written by cycleguy on December 5th, 2017

Something concerns me. I’m not totally sure what to do about it actually. Maybe it is more than just a concern too. It is an ache I don’t know how to take away.

Just recently our community was hit with the death of an 8th grader.  She died while sleeping. Rumors abound (as you can imagine). Rumors I refuse to be a part of. So far they are just rumors since no one knows how or why she died. I hate rumors. I despise talk without substantial proof. I’m sure you know what I mean.

Here is my concern. The death of a teenager, or anyone for that matter, is a “killer” to me. But what about those who are left behind? This is the Christmas season where people are wishing good cheer, joy, happiness,  and all those other wishes to people they see. But what about those who dread this time of the year? They hole up in their house or bedroom and have no desire to get out, see anyone, laugh, spread good cheer, nor any of those other “feel good” things.

Do we see their hurt? Do we feel their loneliness? Do we sense their desire to be left alone? Christmas is a particularly hard time for those who have lost people they love-spouse, parent, friend, child-so what do we do with and about and for them? The first of “everything” is the toughest-first Christmas, first holiday, first anniversary, first birthday.

So…I guess what I’m saying is “keep your eyes open” to those around you. There are many lonely, hurting people right out our back door. People who may not even know it, but people who need a hug, a smile, a word of encouragement, a card/note, or some other form of acknowledgment. What they don’t need is someone harping on them or criticizing them. Lend an ear. Lend a hand. Lend a smile. Lend a heart.

This song is not a “Christian” Christmas song. But it does talk about memories.

 

Willingness

Written by cycleguy on December 1st, 2017

In 2001 author John Grisham broke from the norm. Usually writing crime dramas which focus around lawyers and courtrooms, he wrote a book which was totally different. I don’t know why he wrote the book he did, but it was successful. Perhaps, since he is purported to be a Christ-follower, he shared the same concerns about the Christmas season as you and I might. Anyway, he wrote a book called Skipping Christmas which followed Luther and Nora Krank’s desire to have a different kind of Christmas. They have it in their minds to skip the holiday altogether. Theirs will be the only house on Hemlock Street without a rooftop Frosty; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because on December 25th they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But the weary couple is soon to find out that skipping Christmas beings enormous consequences-and it isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined.

Like the Kranks, we may find ourselves wanting to skip Christmas. I’m not so concerned about skipping Christmas as I am with losing Christmas. No, the date will never be changed. No, the season will never be skipped over. Even many merchants, who make no pretense at all of believing the Christmas story, want it to stay. Their reasons are different, than say yours and mine, but the point stands.

This week, and throughout the month of December, my sermon series has a working title of “Familiarity Breeds…” But rather than contempt I want to flip that idea to four other topics. You can see them on the banner above. Thanks for your prayers this weekend. They are greatly appreciated.

 

Devotional

Written by cycleguy on November 30th, 2017

Product Details

I know what you are going to say (least I think I might): “You really like that Paul David Tripp don’t you?” The answer would be “Yes.” I have recommended several books by him here on my blog: New Morning Mercies, a 365 day daily devotion; and Whiter Than Snow, a devotion on sin and mercy. I read and reread one a week. I’ve read several others by PDT and have not been disappointed by any. His Dangerous Calling may be the best book on Pastoral Ministry I have ever read (get your pastor a copy) and Awe is a phenomenal book on recapturing awe for God.  My latest has been the one highlighted, Come Let Us Adore Him.

I wanted something different this year for Christmas (Advent if you prefer). When I saw this book I confess I went on his track record. I was not disappointed! I did something unique (I think). I bought it in October so I read 2 chapters a morning so I could go through it by the end of the month. During this month (November) I have taken one day (read December 1 on November 1, etc) each morning. Starting December 1 I will read it again for the third time. Each time I highlighted something different. For some books one time through is enough. Not for this one! There is so much meat in each day’s devotional I have this sneaking suspicion even three times through won’t be enough (but I will stop at 3 until next Christmas). To make it even more interesting each chapter ends with Scripture to follow up with and also a what-to-do-if-you-have-children suggestion.

I know it may be getting late for you to get a copy of this book and make use of it, but I don’t think it is.  I’d suggest ordering this book and “get with this program” during the month of December. I believe it will make your Christmas season “pop” a little bit more.

 

Progress

Written by cycleguy on November 29th, 2017

It’s been awhile since I last showed any pictures of our addition. I believe the last ones I showed were of the outside. Since we are paying cash for the building it has been a slower process for us but it looks like things will pick up. We have been trying to do as much with volunteer work but have pretty well decided that has to change. This time of the year is just entirely too hard to get people to commit to working on the addition. Can there by any busier time than between Thanksgiving and Christmas in peoples’ lives? I think not. Other than the framing, electrical and HVAC you see here, everything has been volunteer work. Stage and insulation (with the latter taking gobs of time) has been a slow haul. Our meeting Monday night changed all of that. We have enough to pay to hire it done, so hire it done we will. Here are the pictures of the inside as it stands right now:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures from top left (stage area). Top right (Looking from stage to one of the left classrooms). Bottom left (Looking into the mechanical closet and HVAC above). Bottom right (Standing outside of mechanical closet). The brown you see on that last picture is 4 inch insulation which has to be cut to fit. Long tedious job and we are rethinking that to maybe doing something different and less time-consuming.

I’m excited to see it moving along…even though it is a snail’s pace right now. Soon though the HVAC will be installed, the electrical work will be finished, the ceiling will be insulated, and the drywall will be done.  Our goal is December 31. Check back with me on that one. 🙂

There’s the update. God has His timing, especially in the way of finances. So far, which is a huge blessing, we have had no injuries on site.

 

Season

Written by cycleguy on November 27th, 2017

Several things are tip-offs for the Christmas season (not necessarily in order of clarity):

You can start listening to Christmas music and not thought to be a strange person…unless, of course, you observe Christmas in July.  Or you are so prepared for Christmas you have 8 tiny rabbits pulling the sleigh.

Christmas lights appear. Then again…we have had people in our neck of the woods who put lights up long before Thanksgiving. Then again…maybe they never took them down but just chose not to shine them during the hot summer months.

The weather usually turns cold. I’m not knocking on wood or anything but today (Monday) our weather has hit the 60s. I wore a sweatshirt to the office at 5:00 this morning and just a short sleeve shirt in the afternoon. I wouldn’t mind it staying this way until around Christmas. A white one sounds good but then it can go back to being tolerable.

Commercials drive me nuts. Oops, that is all year ’round. Maybe that explains why I watch very little TV. Two shows to be exact (NCIS and MacGyver).

Finally, but certainly not completely final, is the showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Last night our local theater, the Tivoli, showed it free to the public. I have it on DVD but watching it on the big screen is just primo. Funny how people are entertained by it. They laughed. Chuckled. Sniffled. Clapped at its ending. I watch it every Thanksgiving but held off this year (and last) to watch it on the big screen. Such good stuff:

To my big brother, George- the richest man in town!

 

Dear George: Remember, no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings! Love, Clarence

I can’t help but agree. Then again, that type of thinking never goes out of style. Never runs out of days/months/ year.

Is “Wonderful Life” one of your favorite Christmas movies? If not, which one is?

 

Plans

Written by cycleguy on November 24th, 2017

My take on the old adage of “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” is simple: “The best laid plans of men often go down the tubes.”  I can’t even begin to count (I only have 10 fingers and 10 toes) how many times I have made plans only to watch them fall apart {translated: blow apart}. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against making plans. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants a lot on a daily basis, but I also know there are times planning definitely needs to happen!

Being a nomad in ministry was never my plan. But it happened. We moved from Grayson, KY (college) to Akron, OH, to Kirkpatrick (Marion),OH, to Massillon, OH, to Fortville, IN, to Danville, OH, to Terre Haute, IN, to Sandusky, OH, to W. Market St in Spencer, IN, to our current address of 563 E. North St to ???? (Well, I hope nowhere else).  🙂 It seems like in a couple of them we no sooner put our stakes down than we were moving our tent again.

There are times God’s plan is clear as a bell, but often it is cloudy at best. Seeing mud would sometimes be clearer. But I do know this: no matter the circumstance, I know God ALWAYS has my best in mind. Always.  Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.”

My sermon Sunday concludes my short 3 sermon series on “I am Thankful” by being thankful for His Plan. I’m having a special guest Sunday, a dear friend. I don’t want to say “old friend” because he may take that wrong and since he is a Black Belt in TKD…I don’t think so. 🙂  He has some interesting stories to tell about God’s leading when he and his wife moved like a nomad as He opened doors in really amazing ways. Opening one of those doors gave me the privilege of meeting he and his family in 2007. Say a prayer for Ryan (techgeek) Sunday.  Thanks.

 

BREAKTIME!

Written by cycleguy on November 20th, 2017

I remember my grandfather talking about break time. He worked for USS (when it was still a viable entity) as a welder. He looked forward to breaks. Those were the days before cell phones when breaks were spent laughing and eating. Not like now. Pull that phone out and start texting and maybe take a bite between texts. Grandad used to pack his lunch and I would sometimes be there when he did. Two slices of Roman Meal bread with ketchup only in between them. I’m not sure if it was because of frugality or because he just liked it. I can think of better things to put between two slabs of Roman Meal bread (which I still like a lot) than ketchup. Jo thinks it is hilarious (and makes sure others know) that I sweat (nose and forehead) when I use ketchup. (Note: My uncle (grandad’s son) just reminded me about the mustard-between-two-slices-of-bread sandwich).  Memory is the first thing to go.

Anyway…grandad looked forward to taking some time to ease his tired muscles and joints from the grind of welding by relaxing. He was an avid Pirate fan and would listen to the night games if he worked the night shift with his transistor radio connected to this huge battery by a gumband. (Go look up Pittsburgh-ese for what it is).

I’m taking grandad’s suggestion. I’m pulling away for a few days. I have a couple busy days leading up to Thanksgiving, but the biggest plan is for Thanksgiving Day. The church is serving a dinner from 11-1:00 to the community. We have done it for the last 4 years and each year it has grown. What has really grown…and this is the part I’m directly involved in (Jo does the meal)…is delivery. So far we have over 40 deliveries of Thanksgiving meals to make. It’s a lot of work but a lot of fun. The people pitch in to help. I get to organize and send them out. All the folks have to do is call in for a meal and we will “jimmy John” them their meal.

The best part of the week though is Friday. Janna and Braden will be coming in for the weekend while Jason works on their bathroom. I think that is a pretty good trade-off!! I’d say Jason can take all year but I don’t think that would fly very well. 🙂 They will be here all weekend. Yeah…I will be preoccupied.

I’m going to pre-program my weekend post. It will come out White Friday. (Why do they call it Black Friday anyway? Because you lose all your money?).

Anyway, have a great Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for many things: Jo, Tami, Janna, Braden, Jason, OVCF, my family-at-large, my friends, and for you.  Blessings to all and to all a… Oops wrong holiday.

 

Patience

Written by cycleguy on November 16th, 2017

Okay…before you think I’m going to go from being a friend to meddling 🙂  I want to put you at ease. I’m not going to rehash the age old adage of “patience is a virtue” and stuff like that.

Let me take it another direction.

Several words are used to describe or define what characteristic of God I am speaking about Sunday: longsuffering (the old King Jimmy word) or patience. We like to talk about God’s patience because it speaks of longevity. You know…I can keep doing and doing wrong and God is patient with me. People keep putting off salvation because they want to believe God is patient and even after death His patience will be experienced.

God is a god of perfect love, one with an incredible amount of patience. I should know: I’m typing this. I used to think God was this demanding judge, standing with a paddle in His hand. Psalm 103 paints a totally different picture of God.  That does not sound at all like a God who just can’t wait to get His hands around your throat! Nor does it sound like a God who can’t wait to throw darts at your picture. God’s love for His people knows no limits. And I am thankful for that!

But don’t be fooled. There will come a day when God’s patience will run out and a less favorite attribute will become a reality: His wrath. That is another subject for another day.

I would appreciate your prayers for this Sunday’s worship. Thanks.

 

Otherwise

Written by cycleguy on November 13th, 2017

I used the following poem in my sermon yesterday. I think it says what needs to be said without a bunch of commentary. It was written by Jane Kenyon and was quoted in Alter Ego by Craig Groeschel (pages 151-152)

I got out of bed on two strong legs.

It might have been otherwise.

I ate cereal, sweet milk, ripe, flawless peach.

It might have been otherwise.

I took the dog uphill to the birch wood.

All morning I did the work I love.

At noon I lay down with my mate.

It might have been otherwise.

We ate dinner together at a table with silver candlesticks.

It might have been otherwise.

I slept in a bed in a room with paintings on the walls, and planned another day just like this day.

But one day, I know, it will be otherwise.

Kenyon wrote this poem in 1993, upon learning that her husband, Donald Hall, had cancer. Ironically, it was Kenyon, not Hall. who died a year later after a fierce and swift battle with leukemia. “Otherwise” came unexpectedly. But Jane Kenyon didn’t miss the blessings of God in each day. She learned the art of gratitude.

As I said, no commentary needed. Enjoy the blessing of today!!