Celebration

Written by cycleguy on October 23rd, 2014

Celebrations are a good thing.

Celebrations of anniversaries are a good thing.

Celebrations of a church anniversary is a good thing.

This Sunday the church I pastor is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Truthfully, it is about 2 weeks late due to Fall Break (which takes a ton of people away) being during the actual day of celebration (the 14th). We made the right decision to hold off our celebration because the past two Sundays saw a lot of folks out of town because Fall Break encompassed them both.

OVCF was started by some people who were tired of church as usual. They wanted to be free to to be free. If something wanted to be tried, try it. If it works, good; if not, admit it and move on, but don’t be afraid to try something new.  Over the past 10 years we have done that a lot. I came here in November of 2005 so just over a year had passed when I became the pastor. We’ve tried to focus on people not programs. We have been through a lot in the ten years, not all of it good, but God has been with us through thick and thin. I’m not going to repeat all of it here. If you are interested (I bet you are waiting with baited breath), you can catch the podcast of the message on the church website after worship this Sunday.

I realize there are plenty of pastors who wouldn’t change places with anyone. I was one who would UNTIL NOW. I told someone the other day one of the reasons I regret getting older is I am so enjoying the ministry now I wish I was younger. But then again, maybe my age is allowing me to sort through some things and figure out what is important and what is not.

I HAVE NEVER ENJOYED A MINISTRY MORE IN MY 40 YEARS THAN I HAVE THIS ONE.

Sunday I get to speak to the greatest people on the planet: the people (besides my own family and some lifelong friends) whom I love more than anyone else.  I have never questioned whether I am to be here nor whether God wanted me to leave. Even though my family lives far away, there is a contentment which comes from knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt you are in the right place, for the right reason, and for the RIGHT PERSON.

Sunday will be special. A crowded facility (we are having one service). I fully anticipate an up-tempo and Christ-honoring worship time. I will be taking a look back at where we have been and then Ryan and I will be talking about the future here and here. I will be presenting the Building Team’s recommendation for expansion, then all of it followed by some of the best eating in the country. Oh yeah!

Thanks for your prayers for me….for us. Lord willing, there will be 10 more years of praising the King in Spencer.

 

Failure

Written by cycleguy on October 22nd, 2014

I have received a few “Fs” in my career. Mostly in high school and they always had something to do with Math. Math and I were never, never, NEVER close friends. Still aren’t to this day. Algebra. Geometry. Trig. Chemistry. Anything that has anything at all to do with math was considered anathema to me. I hated failure but there were just some things I was never able to grasp.

And in case you didn’t know it…math was one of those things. :)

But failure comes in all sizes, shapes, and colors. It is not just a grade on a card or test. It is relationships. It is career. It is sports. It is building maintenance (I don’t do so well with that either).

Failure dogs many of us. Some have risen above it. Some (many) have not. Their whole life seems to be one failure after another in their eyes. While some people have the “Midas touch,” others have the slush touch.

My daughter, Tami, had a link to an article on her FB page and Jo told me about it. I asked Tami to send it to me and after reading it I thought it would be good to share with you. It is sort of long so you will need a few minutes…but it is a few minutes well worth your time.

Here is the link to the article by Jennifer Dukes Lee. If you have a few moments, please read it. Then I would love to hear you comments when you come back here.

 

Existence

Written by cycleguy on October 21st, 2014

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The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If we are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. C.S. Lewis 

So begins the chapter in Matthew’s book curiously titled “Jesus-Centered Flower Committee.” I have to admit I raised an eyebrow or two with that title wondering what in the world he was getting into. Honestly, the first couple pages didn’t reveal to me what he was talking about either. It wasn’t until I was about six pages in that I began to catch what Matt was referring to. Of all things it was found in a story about Van Halen. When Van Halen was in their hey day they traveled with nine semis of equipment. So it was absolutely essential the venue where they were to perform be prepared. So they had a rider in their contract: a bowl of M&Ms with NO brown ones. David Lee Roth wrote that if he walked into a dressing room before a show and noticed brown M&Ms, he immediately ordered a line check. It spoke to them of a venue not prepared for their show.

Attention to details. Small details tell a lot. Many churches pay no attention to details…big or small. The lack of preparation is glaring. I realize there can be a fine line between obsessiveness and excellence, but preparation is a necessity. “Flying by the seat of our pants’ is not a good practice for a church to get into. It can often become a substitute word for laziness.

My take: when people come to OVCF to worship or to visit, I do want things to run smoothly. Glitches happen, but a regular habit of things happening does not bode well. Musicians who have not practiced and think all they have to do is show up is not preparation, nor is it giving the best you have. A pastor who says on a weekly basis “I didn’t have time to study so…” or “I don’t study I wait for God to reveal the sermon to me” is saying, “I am lazy and don’t want to study so I’m taking the blame God way out.” Sorry that doesn’t fly with me. That is also MHO.

The flip side of this is the necessity for allowing the Spirit to move and work. We can be programmed to death and on such a tight schedule that if the Holy Spirit did show up He would have to make an appointment.

What is your take on this? Where is the line between too much prep and not enough?

 

ToughLove

Written by cycleguy on October 21st, 2014

I had a whirlwind day yesterday. It started out to sane (whatever that means) but then became hectic. Study time (sane). Staff meeting (start of the hectic). Impromptu meeting with some moms over a home school choir question. Interruptions from visitors. Lunch with Jo (brief respite). Assorted mini-meetings then a trip to visit someone. (major hectic). Phone calls. Bed.

It was that visit with someone which has led me to do this short post with a question. It is over something we call Tough Love. We see it often.

A wife with her husband (or visa versa).

A parent with a child.

A teacher with a student.

A pastor with a parishioner.

A friend with a friend.

A coach with a player

Tough love is defined (my definition) as taking the hard course when there seems to be no other recourse. It is when one person has to take a tough stance against the foolishness of another. Against the laziness of another. Against the blatant rebellion of another.

I’m sure you have heard of it. I’m sure you have probably used it or had it used on you. But here is my question:

When does tough love need to be practiced? When is that line developed which should not be crossed? In other words, how much should a parent take? When does the spouse demonstrate tough love? Get my point?

So the question is for you. I encouraged a tough love approach in my visit. It is long overdo. And here is something else to consider: the person who is practicing tough love needs to know it may backfire.

So, if you don’t mind, how about answering the questions highlighted above. Thanks.

 

Funny

Written by cycleguy on October 19th, 2014

Have you ever had something just strike your funny bone and you well…laughed or chuckled out loud. I read/saw something the other day that did exactly that.  Please take a moment and check this out.

Is that not a hoot? Can you imagine the looks the car drivers had on their faces?

Not much redeeming value in this post. Sometimes you just gotta break away and out of the norm for a time of refreshing.

Hope your day is a good one and laughter is on your lips and your face.

And just in case…yes I do have a weird sense of humor. Just ask Jo and my daughters. For that matter, ask just about anyone who knows me. I think even my grandson knows.

 

Irritations

Written by cycleguy on October 16th, 2014

I could wager (and win) that everyone of us knows there are times when irritations get the best of us. Go ahead. Make that list and see how easy it comes together. :)

Traffic jams. No turn signals. Talkative people (who won’t shut up). Long lines. Long checkout lines with only 2 or 3 cashiers working. Tight clothes (on you because they don’t fit anymore). Nosy people. People who talk baby talk. Incompetence.

I read a seriously funny statement: “I am planning to have a nervous breakdown. I have earned it…I deserve it…I have worked hard for it…and nobody’s going to keep me from having it!”

But in all seriousness, who of us hasn’t experienced interruptions and seemingly long periods of waiting for an answer? To prayers? To a life changing event? For something to go right?

Waiting for God to answer a prayer is often one of the most frustrating things of all. We don’t understand what is holding Him back. Irritation sets in. Impatience. Sometimes anger. Sometimes distrust.

Worse is when we seem to be oooh so close and it seems to get derailed. Sort of like Mark 5. Jairus comes to Jesus seeking help for his daughter who is sick. On the way to Jairus’ house, Jesus is interrupted by a woman who has had a blood disorder for 12 years. She has been to every doctor and is broke. One touch of Jesus’ garment brings healing. In the meantime, Jairus waits. Then the word comes: “Your daughter is dead.” But Jesus is not done yet. Long story short, Jesus brings her back to life.

While waiting is not ideal, sometimes waiting is a necessity. We can pray but we will not always have the answer immediately. We have God’s promise of fulfillment but His answer is not always when we want it.

So…here it is: don’t give up. Don’t quit praying. Don’t stop asking. Stay on your knees before God. Stay in the Word and remember the God you serve isn’t surprised one iota by anything which pops up. He is big enough and capable enough to help you through whatever it may be. Sometimes the best things come to those who wait.

I’d appreciate those prayers being said this weekend. :) Thanks.

 

Stress

Written by cycleguy on October 15th, 2014

I attended a two-hour seminar put on by the Indiana Youth Institute at our local Y Wednesday afternoon. The title was “Trauma-Informed Care for Educators.” Without a doubt it was geared to those who see students in the classroom on a daily basis or in their office because of bad behavior brought on by trauma. Ryan (our youth pastor) and I wanted to attend and I believe I can honestly say we were the only pastors there. :) I also can honestly say it was not a wasted two hours. Since I have a daughter who teaches 1st grade and another who works in the daycare industry, it sure helped me understand things better.

It also helped me to see that both schools and churches often battle the same kind of junk…kids who are dealing with trauma and don’t know what to do about it. Adults who are dealing with trauma because they never got help they needed earlier.

While it was definitely speaking of youth trauma, one of the most helpful lesson I learned was STS. (previous line reworked after Daniel’s comment) Say what? Secondary Traumatic Stress. To use one of their quotes: “We are stewards not just of those who allow us into their lives but of our own capacity to be helpful.”

Interpretation: we are no good to anyone if we don’t take care of ourselves. While people can be traumatized by life events, helpers (pastors, counselors, teachers, etc) can find themselves so wrapped up in lives they don’t take care of themselves. The result is STS.

Symptoms include: emotional exhaustion, chronic fatigue, physical illness, sadness/helplessness, poor concentration, detachment, and others. That sure sounds like someone we might say is suffering from BURNOUT. Been there done that, don’t ever want to again.

The solution is a bit of self care: eating well, exercising, engaging in fun activities (and people wonder why I ride), taking a break during the workday, avoiding tendencies to bury feeling with substances or other excessive activities.

I have to wonder how many of my colleagues have felt the burn from too much and quit or wanted to quit and didn’t really know why? STS is not something to shake a stick at and dismiss. No one is Iron Man or Wonder Woman (or Captain America).

What are you doing to relieve stress? Do you know anyone you can help with this information? How about yourself? 

 

Leaders

Written by cycleguy on October 14th, 2014

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 It goes without saying there are all kinds of leaders.

Domineering, authoritarian kind. No one really likes to be around them (except themselves).

Meek, mild kind who stretch the definition of leadership by their attitude.

Lazy, disconnected kind who stretch the definition even further by their inaction.

Solid, caring, shepherding kind who love their people and show it.

I’m sure you can come up with more. There is an old saying passed down through the years: “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” It doesn’t matter what is going on leadership is needed on some level.

Business. Check.

Home. Check.

Sports team. Check.

Church. Check

Like any other organization, the church relies on leadership. Poor leadership can doom a church. Domineering, authoritarian leadership is a leech. Church leaders who refuse to decide anything or who remain distant from the people are an albatross. But this chapter in Matt’s book is more about the impact of the Gospel upon the heart of the leader than it is about principles and “how to.” Too many may have principles down to a “T” but their life and example are in the tank. A Jesus-centered leader will be much more concerned about their character than having all the right lists and organization plans as a goal. I’m not discounting those but many spend way too much time on them and leave their character at the door.

Are you a leader? What type would you classify yourself? Any thoughts you want to share?

 

Flawless

Written by cycleguy on October 13th, 2014

Sunday I heard an excellent message from 2 Timothy 2:20-22 from Greg, Janna’s pastor in Powell, OH. He pulled no punches, especially when talking about verse 22. Most versions use the word “lusts” but the ESV uses the word “passions.” I like that word better since we tend to only focus on sex when we think of lust. Greg also brought this out when he showed passions is much more than sex.

He basically said a passion was a promise which doesn’t deliver.

I thought of the struggle I we all face when it comes to fighting off the passions which seem to be so real but end up empty. What often happens is we cannot run toward both at the same time. We can’t run toward righteousness, while at the same time pursuing that which cause compromise.

Before we left for Ohio I bought Jo a CD. She is not a music lover or listener by any stretch, but all she talked about (well…not all..other than how fantastic I was…cough cough choke choke) was a song by Mercy Me called “Greater.”  It is a really good song. But on that CD is another song that gives me chills. It rattles my cage every time I hear it because of its subject matter. As I listened to it on the way home I became more and more aware of what the cross means to me as I fight my daily battle. (And surprise surprise I don’t think it will offend anyone). :P  Here is the song.

Powerful truth there. Let the chorus ring in your heart today. Hope you I we can take it to heart on a daily basis. There’s nothing like grace.

Any thoughts?

 

Needed

Written by cycleguy on October 13th, 2014

A much needed break.

A surprise visit.

A chance to see my soon-to-be-eight year old grandson.

That was my weekend. It was a last minute thing in a way. Jo and Tami had planned to go. Jo then decided to ask me to go. I had already been thinking about it, but had moved on as though it wouldn’t happen. I had just finished a whole sermon that day. (When the inspiration hits you don’t stop). :) Long story short: Ryan agreed to preach. I was able to get away.

It was much needed. A nice break from the routine.

A surprise visit since neither Janna nor Braden knew I was coming. I like surprises.

A chance to spend some time with my grandson. The old saying is still true: “if I had known grandchildren were this much fun I would have had them first.” We went out to Texas Roadhouse to eat. While the lady folk went grocery shopping (he was thrilled with that prospect), we stayed home and watched Transformers- Age of Extinction. After that we played a new card game he got: Crazy 8’s. Then we played a bunch of games of Connect Four. Then came the coup de grace. I had received a NERF gun from Ryan and his crew so I bought the same one for Braden. We spent about an hour running all over and shooting each other. The cocking mechanism was a little tough for him but he is determined enough to learn how to do it himself.

Sunday morning we attended Janna & Braden’s church, NewStart Community in Powell.  Heard a good message. Some great music. Had a chance to say thanks to some people for their love for two special people in my life. After lunch at Chipotle, we headed home.

It was good to be home, but it was also good to visit and get away. I hope you have those times when you can get away and relax.

I hope you took the time over the weekend to pray for those I asked. I’d like to ask you to pray for Tami’s safe drive home tomorrow.  Not much in the way of an “enriching” post today, but time is short (as it always is after getting away). Hope your day and your week are tremendous.