Either/Or

Written by cycleguy on April 21st, 2015

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One of the biggest discussions you might find within a church, small group, or just a bunch sitting around talking is the live vs. talk discussion. Either/Or.

Do we live the gospel?

Do we talk the gospel?

Here is my question: why can’t we have both?

I know the arguments vary.

“I don’t talk very well so I prefer to live it.”

“What good does it do to live it without talking about it?

“I don’t want to be one who doesn’t walk the walk and talk the talk.”

“What good does it do if someone talks it but doesn’t live it?”

You know the variations of the age old argument. I still contend: why can’t we have both?

Bobby mentions the old St. Francis saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary use words.” Three problems come with that. 1) He never said it. 2) He verbalized the Gospel every chance he had. 3) There is no dichotomy between our words and deeds. (p.167)

I have to admit, even though I am an extrovert, I am better at living than speaking. I know what it is. I don’t want to turn people off by “preaching” to them. Case in point: we have had someone visit the church since Easter (and I went to visit them last night). One of the things he said once before was he didn’t know I was a preacher when we met and worked out at the Y years ago. I raised my eyebrows like “is that good or bad?” He said, “No, it was good. You didn’t preach at me. You listened to music, talked and lifted weights. I appreciated that because where I was at that time I would not have taken it well.” Hmmmm.

But somehow I wonder if I failed by not speaking up. I guess what Bobby talked about is true: “By living out the Gospel, we gain credibility. By verbalizing the Gospel, we provide clarity.” (p.168)

It is easy to keep quiet about our faith. When we do speak, speak softly. Show respect. Be clear. But DO SPEAK!

What is your take on this?

 

Fudged

Written by cycleguy on April 20th, 2015

No I am not talking about the scene from The Christmas Story.  :)

Actually, I reckon I owe some of my readers an apology. My sermon over the weekend was “Two 7-Letter Words Which Change Everything” and I said I would give those two words in my next post. However, I was so stoked about the “Adventure” post I decided to hold off with the “Two Words” one. I was not being deceptive thinking if I hold off they might come back the next day. Honest! :(

So…here I am with the follow-up to that post.

The 7-Letter Word Which Demolishes is CONTROL.  The focus verse is Galatians 2:20. What does it mean to be “crucified with Christ?” Bill’s Version for Simple People (of which I am creator and test case) says, “It means to give up control of your life.” To state it another way: It means to live in the “Now” and in the “I AM” not in the “I Was.” There are two words which seem to rule peoples’ lives: shame and regret. You want a great lesson? Check out Isaiah 43:16-21, but really focus on 18-19a. You’ll be glad you did.

The 7-Letter Word Which Enlivens is ABANDON. Christianity is not about self-improvement. It is about relinquishing control. The Bible is clear God orders our steps. He wants us to abandon control and give our lives to Him. When Jesus isn’t our everything, our enough, we will pursue every other thing we think will fill us.

There you have it: the two words. The one who came closest was Daniel with BURRITO and FEBREZE. Of course, he wins because he was the only one who ventured a guess. :) I do plan to look at this more in a future post or two. Until then…have you yielded control?

 

Adventure

Written by cycleguy on April 19th, 2015

My 8 1/2 year old grandson sort of epitomizes the following quote:

There are people who prefer to say ‘Yes,’ and there are people who prefer to say ‘No.’ Those who say ‘Yes’ are rewarded by the adventures they have, and those who say ‘No’ are rewarded by the safety they attain. Keith Johnstone quoted in “Living a Life on Loan”

At 8 1/2 he has more bravado than brains. That is not a slam; it is a fact. He seems to know no fear. During his recent visit we took him to a skate park (he is learning how to skateboard) and while initially intimidated by the size of the kids, he became fascinated as he watched them. Fortunately for me (since I have never skated) one of the men from the church “just happened” to come by. Dan had skated from age 14-25. He gave him some tips then with my blessing took him inside. He taught him how to do a ramp (Braden fell a couple of times because he insisted on doing it his way). As we left he wanted to do a more challenging ramp (which he did). That evening he texted his mom and asked if they would take him to a skate park “in Columbus or Ohio somewhere.” Oh yeah, he also asked if he could go down the big ramps (the bowl). Mother smarts took over and told him he needed to practice more.

That adventuresome spirit is often missing in many of us. We settle for Blahville.

The extent of my adventure these days due to my age and an arthritic knee seems to be limited to my bicycle and watching God do amazing things. All in all that is not a bad trade-off. Broken bones from trying to skateboard or refreshed spirit from watching God work. I’ll take the latter if you don’t mind. :)  Case in point: three people were baptized yesterday- one young person and 2 adults. Yeah, I’ll take that any day.

And how has your adventure been lately?

 

BigWords

Written by cycleguy on April 16th, 2015

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We all know famous four-letter words-some of which should NEVER come out of our mouths. There are also four letter words which are worth repeating: Love, Hope, Food-to name a few.

I ran across some seven-letter words which change everything.

But first the story behind them. Last week I preached on Galatians 2: 15-21. My primary focus can be seen here. Several weeks ago after I had already finished writing that sermon and had begun making plans for chapter 3, I was feeling pretty good about being ahead (that is always a good thing). As I was reading something, I sensed God saying, “Bill, you are not done with Galatians 2:20 yet. There is more you haven’t said yet.”

“Aaaaah nuts!” I know what that means.

So, off I go to study some more and see what God is “telling” me. So I do some finagling around with the sermon schedule and add this one to the cue. True to God’s prompting though, I started it one afternoon about 5:00 and finished it the next morning. All within about 3-4 hours. SWEET!

That sermon is this Sunday: “Two 7-Letter Words Which Change Everything.” It has been so long since I did a title that long I almost forgot what I started to say! :) The outline was easy to do.

I.  A SEVEN-LETTER WORD WHICH DEMOLISHES

II. A SEVEN-LETTER WORD WHICH ENLIVENS

I’ll leave you guessing what those seven-letter words are until my post Sunday night/Monday. Unless, of course, you listen online. Or guess them ahead of time. If you guess it the winner will get a virtual high five and a mention on this honorable blog. Or is that an honorable mention on this blog?

So…think you know? And among all the silliness, please don’t forget to pray for me.

 

NOPE

Written by cycleguy on April 16th, 2015

I was visiting a couple last night after my “66” class (Route 66 where I take them through the books of the Bible. It is a two year series of lessons).

My daughter texted me. “No blog post?”

“Nope.”

“Everything okay?”

“Yep. Just busy.”

Crazy busy, actually.  We have been hosting Systems of Care (a group consisting of multiple organizations directly involved in getting youth help) until their new building is finished. I’m involved. That happened yesterday. After that I needed to go home and cut grass before the rain hits for several days in a row. Otherwise, I would need a farmer to bale it. (I even passed up a ride!). I had several other things to do and before I knew it, it was time for Prayer meeting and then 66. And the visit afterwards at their house.

I’m not complaining, even though the past few weeks have been like that. I’d rather be busy than bored.

However, there comes a time we all need to slow down from the busyness. I know I do. Every time I walk into my ManCave my bike is crying and calls out my name. I get a towel, wipe it down and hold it. (Not really but you get my drift). :) Tomorrow is my day off. See the smile???

We all need to slow down. We all need time off. Take it and don’t feel guilty. What about you? Are you getting your time away from the busyness?

 

Repulsive?

Written by cycleguy on April 14th, 2015

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C.S. Lewis is credited with saying,

Do not waste your time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor: Act as if you do.

I was once pastored a church where there were some (how shall I say this?) “territorial” people. What I mean by that is they had their pew, their set, their parking spot, etc. In fact, I know of one time when the man actually went to someone and asked him to move since he was sitting in his seat. Yeah…I know what you are thinking. Probably the same thing I said when I heard: “Say what?” Fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with it since it happened before I got there.

Those kinds of horror stories are death to a church. I’m sure you know of worse. I will go on record as saying actions like that are “repulsive.”

The truth is anytime we fail to show love it is repulsive. Francis Schaeffer once wrote a book called “The Mark of a Christian.” As you can guess it was about love.

Bobby puts it this way: “Love draws people near, but self-love drives people away. According to Jesus, love is a visual, tangible witness to the wonder of God Himself. And the church is where love is to be experienced in spades. Yet, sometimes it’s the one thing missing.” (p.155)

We sometimes only have one chance to love someone. One chance. We can choose to be repulsive or attractive. Guess which one makes the impression? Both. Guess which one lasts? Both. Guess which one draws people closer? Yeah. only one.

Repulse or attract? Which will it be? How do you think you do?

 

Acceptance

Written by cycleguy on April 13th, 2015

I just read an article about a dermatologist who took his life, largely because he suffered from depression, but also because he was the subject of bullying.

As a pastor one of the things I have seen more and more in recent years is the struggle against shame and regret. Against feeling like a loser. Against feeling like there is no way out.

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I started reading Fight Back with Joy this past weekend and have been “taken” by it. One section stood out to me as I read:

The journey to joy begins with acceptance.

Acceptance acknowledges our helplessness and requires us to loosen our grip, slow our pace, and reorient our focus on God in the situation. Paul does not find contentment in bucking his circumstances but in surrendering control of them.

The journey to joy advances through adaptability.

We rarely choose what is subtracted from our lives, but we can choose how we respond. How we reorganize our lives in order to move forward.

The journey to joy leads us to greater dependence on Christ.  (excerpts from pages 46 & 47)

Margaret knows whereof she speaks. As she started studying “Joy” she found out she had breast cancer. This book is not an autobiography, but she does intersperse her experiences with lessons on Joy and others she is learning along the way.

In my ministry, I see acceptance as one of the hardest things to experience. Hence, the struggle with shame and regret. I’m not belittling those folks at all. Coming to terms with yourself, your past, your thoughts, you name it. Its not an easy thing to do but Joy becomes possible when you do.

What do you think? How have you experienced Joy?

There are some who are doing a weekly book posting about Margaret’s book. This is not part of it. For more on that check here.

 

40

Written by cycleguy on April 12th, 2015

My age? My body wishes. :)

My wedding anniversary years? Wrong again. 42 this June.

The number of points I scored in basketball games? Several times actually.

40. A number of much more significance to me than to you. I hinted at it here.

April 13 is the 40th anniversary of my ordination into the ministry. In the tradition I was raised in, we were able to preach and do “ministry things” before our ordination, but the ordination was the “official” day. I chose April 13th because it was also my late mother’s birthday. She went to be with Jesus in 2004 and if still alive would be 83 today (April 13). (She is celebrating a much  better birthday now).

Anyway, 40 years seems like a milestone to me. I look back and wonder where the years went. I also wonder how in the world I made it this long. :) I was so young, brash, arrogant, and foolish. I can’t even begin to count the mistakes I made. WOW! How I survived is a tribute to God’s patience and grace for me.

And the support and love of a good woman. Jo took seriously the vow which said, “Where you go, I will go.” Because go we did! Ministries of 2 1/2 years, 5 years, 14 months, 16 months, 3 years, 13 years, 5 years and now 10 at the current church. And I can say unquestionably this is the BEST place I have ever been.

I honestly had no clue what to expect when I said, “Yes” to full-time ministry. I have no clue what the ensuing years may bring. All I know is when I am done I want to say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” I pray I have impacted lives for Jesus. Encouraged people to not give up. To live the greatest adventure anyone can pursue.

BTW: don’t applaud; just throw money. ;) I broke it down while riding yesterday. $1 x 40=$40. $5 x 40=$200. $10 x 40=$400. And if you really want to go big… Nah…I don’t want to sound greedy. :D

P.S. Little did I know the church would have a cake and a card celebration for me today. I was humbled, honored, and totally blown away by their surprise. I hope to soon have a link (see below) where the slide show they showed can be viewed. You might laugh and not even know me. :)

Have a great week!  Laugh a lot. It makes people wonder about you.

 

Update —

Link to Uploaded Slideshow

 

Bootstraps

Written by cycleguy on April 9th, 2015

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After a brief hiatus of a few weeks due to preaching on Famous Last Words (Jesus’ 7 Last Sayings) and the Resurrection, I am returning to Galatians. This week I will be preaching on Galatians 2:15-21. Earlier this week I had a post about the subject I am preaching on this week.  However, this week’s message will be more foundational in discussing the Great Exchange.  Here’s what I mean:

One “rule” of Bible study is divorcing a passage from its context. It would be a big mistake to do that to this passage. It is vitally linked to the previous verses where Paul confronted Peter for his duplicity (hypocrisy). But there is something much deeper in this week’s passage. It runs against the common grain which says man is basically good and capable of pulling himself up by his own bootstraps. As we are want to say: “Good luck with that.”

The Great Exchange takes place when our sinfulness is erased and we “take on” the righteousness of Jesus. We cannot do that on our own…and that is Paul’s point. After trying to live his life by a code of religious conduct, Paul found himself doing a face plant from a horse coming face-to-face with the very ONE he was denying and trying to exterminate. Paul’s adherence to the Law could not save him; he needed Jesus.

Still goes today. No adherence to any moral code, religious code, or code of conduct will do what only Jesus can do. We can’t do it on our own. It needs an “I surrender.”

Appreciate your prayers for Sunday. Thanks.

 

Stones

Written by cycleguy on April 8th, 2015

I HATE LEGALISM!!

Back in January I wrote this post about a book that radically changed my life. I know of one person who took the challenge to read the books and he reviewed them (but I can’t find it so help me out Daniel) .  Note: See Daniel’s comment for his link to WH. Anyway, in that post I mentioned the author of Wisdom Hunter and several other books (Randall Arthur) had also written one called 46 Stones. I know book reviews are not the most popular or welcomed kind of posts, but I finished the book today and wanted to tell you about it.

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46 Stones is subtitled Letting Go of Hurtful Notions, Tendencies, and Beliefs in the Evangelical Church. That is a long title to give a book but it is aptly subtitled. Randy takes 46 thoughts/teachings/dogma which “dog” the church and the teachings of Jesus. Many of them deal with legalism, public enemy #1 to Randy and many others like him (I will include myself to a certain extent).

Each chapter is short, no more than 3-4 pages. I actually read it during my Encounter Time in the morning. I wanted to get a “feel” for the book because my plan is to make my way through it a second time now-underlining and writing my thoughts about each stone in my Moleskine journal. To make it even more interesting, at the end of the 46th Stone, Randy includes his “story” of Wisdom Hunter-where he came from and how he came to write WH. He had told me much of the story but it was still fascinating to see it again.

This book will stand alone from the other four but one of two things will happen: you will either want to read WH first; or you will want to read it after reading 46 Stones. Take your pick. :)

As for me? I can’t wait to get back to reading and commenting in my journal. I hope some of you will join me.