Investment

Written by cycleguy on September 18th, 2014

Hear or use the word “investment” and our thoughts will immediately turn to finances. But there are other kinds of investments.

I his poem Maud Miller, John Greenleaf Whittier wrote:

For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been.’

I suspect all of us have had moments when we have taken the time to look back and wondered what might have been if I had chosen differently or more wisely.

The Bible talks about taking advantage of opportunities which present themselves. “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days…In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.” (Ecclesiastes 11:1,6)

In Ephesians 5:16 we are told “to make the best use of your time for the days are evil.”

“What might have been” is a sad refrain to hear or say. Unfortunately, the way we live our lives often lends itself to that phrase more often than not.

The parable of the talents found in Matthew 25:14-30 is one we are pretty familiar with. In this parable, a talent, in the narrow sense, is dealing with money. But in the broader sense it is referring to all which has been placed in our hands-time, talent, treasure- life in other words.

The real question, the real issue is simply “what are you doing with what you have been given?”

That really is a question each one of us must answer. That is the challenge I will be giving this Sunday.

 

Abuse

Written by cycleguy on September 17th, 2014

Is there anyone on the planet who has not heard or read of the recent stories of two NFL players guilty of abuse? I seriously doubt it.

Frankly, there is no call for abuse/bullying of any kind. None. Zip. Nada.

I don’t care if it is spouse. Child. Hazing. And while I disagree with the choice of the lifestyle, not even homosexuality calls for it.

The display on the video tape of abuse, of cold-cocking a person, is violent and ugly. I cannot speak of the NFL vet who is accused of abuse because he spanked his child. Reckon I fall into that category because I spanked my children. Never out of control. Tried to never do it out of anger. But I will admit I even used a paddle from time to time. They still love me. :)

Tragically, isolated incidents like this gain notoriety because of media attention. Meanwhile, other forms of abuse seem to get passed on by.

How about the abuse of sex slavery?

How about the abuse of innocence caused by pornography? She was 6.

How about the abuse of bodies called sport (UFC)?  Disclaimer: Yeah, I used to watch it.

How about the abuse of our bodies with alcohol and drugs and smoking and overeating?

See what I mean? Abuse happens in so many ways. And the church needs to speak up.

But it seems the high profile ones, fed by media consumption, grab the headlines. I am NOT validating the one taped incident. It is loathsome…but forgivable.

He is like all of us. Sinners to the core. Sinners in need of help…a Savior. Let’s keep remembering we live in glass houses. Let’s tell the story of a loving God who forgives even our biggest mess-ups and gives us a chance to start all over. That is the gospel.

And that…is my .02 worth. What are you thinking?

 

Multiplication

Written by cycleguy on September 16th, 2014

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I have an ongoing conversation with some folks. I tell them I am an old man. I’m 61 and they are still young bucks or buckettes. I see pictures and realize, “Yep. You are getting older.” My joints tell me I am. People ask me how I can stand to ride in the humidity and heat. I tell them it is easier on my joints. :)

Lots has changed over the years. I remember when cartoons were simple, fun and predictable. You knew when they would be on. Oh yeah…they were also in black and white. Now ain’t that a hoot? I’m not sure how I would have handled a twenty-four hour Cartoon channel. Actually, it was inconceivable to me…then or now.

Church was different then too. It was expected the pastor would do all the work. Preach. Teach. Baptize. Visit. Lead people to Christ. Rinse and repeat the next week. He wore a suit and tie every day. He could visit single ladies and no one would think a minute about it.

Yep, some things have changed. Many of those changes are good (I despise suits and ties). The visiting single ladies is a good one.

But one that is really good, and has benefited the church more than can be measured, is the “leading people to Christ” one. We learned the importance of everyone being involved in that. It isn’t just the pastor’s job.

Charles Spurgeon is credited with saying, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”

He has something there. For the creature (church) to grow, it takes more than one man wearing multiple hats. A church was never meant to be stagnant. At the same time I want to caution against the “bigger is better” mentality (a change which needed to happen). People are now grasping the idea they can be a witness for Jesus no matter what they are doing and where.

That is to be my story. That is to be your story. How well do you tell it?

 

Advice

Written by cycleguy on September 15th, 2014

I used to have expert advice. Sure…just ask me. :)

I could tell you what you should do, when you should do it, and how you should do it.

Didn’t matter whether you asked for it or not. I was good about passing along (unsolicited) advice.

I can’t really remember when I “wised” up. How old I was. Who told me to “shut my mouth and listen for a change.”

As you know, there is both good and bad advice.

You gotta wonder who is giving some of the athletes advice on finances. I mean, it seems incredible to me that someone who has made multi-millions files for bankruptcy.

You gotta wonder who is giving them advice on how to conduct their lives, what to put into their body, how they can cheat the system.

You gotta wonder who is giving Justin Bieber Miley Cyrus these young singers and actors advice on how to live their lives. They are doing a terrible job.

You gotta wonder who is giving some of the young pastors advice on how to conduct their lives with dignity and respect for others.

Here is something I read:

“The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly…The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.” Pr.15:2,7

Now THAT is good advice!

Are you a giver of (unsolicited) advice? How well do you take advice from others? Do you say anything to anyone who hands down unwanted advice to you? 

 

ToughOne

Written by cycleguy on September 14th, 2014

So…I preached on Sunday about forgiveness from Matthew 18. I told all about it here.

When I was done a lady who has attended three of the past four Sundays (and wants to become part of OVCF) came up afterwards and handed me a sheet of paper with a question. It’s a good thing I’m not one of those pastors who doesn’t allow for questions to be raised about my sermons. :)

But this question takes it beyond the sermon. I told her I would need to think about it and get back to her. So I thought I would approach you guys for your thoughts and opinions just to see what others think. I plan to spend some time really thinking and praying through my answer before I give it (unless, of course, you all come up with a better one).  ;)

Here is her question:

Our lesson today is about forgiving others. What if you don’t forgive any who have brought harm? For example, how does a parent forgive someone who killed or raped their child?

So…what do you think? I’d sure like to hear some of your thoughts. Oh…by the way…how about praying for me as I formulate my answer to her?

 

Forgiveness

Written by cycleguy on September 11th, 2014

King Louis XII once said, “Nothing smells so sweet as the dead body of your enemy.”

Aaaah yeah.  Nice philosophy. For him maybe, but I do not prefer to live my life that way.  I hope it doesn’t take the dead body of someone who hurt you to realize he is missing the mark.

Contrast that philosophy to the words of Jesus and I believe you will find two opposite views.

“And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12

“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

Or how about one of the biggest lessons in forgiveness He ever taught (other than when He was on the cross) found in Matthew 18:21-35? You probably know the story. Peter asks how often we should forgive, up to seven times? He was, in all honesty, being magnanimous. Three was the limit in Jewish thought.

“Not seven but seventy times seven.”

Really? Are you kidding me?

Then He tells a story of a man who owed a debt he could not pay only to have it forgiven, He then went out and found a fellow servant who owed him a mere pittance and threw him in jail. Enough of that nonsense! The king turned around and through his behind in jail.

It is not easy to forgive…I don’t care who you are. Keeping resentment, hurt, bitterness, and all the accompanying consequences under wraps is impossible. They will come back to haunt.

This Sunday I will be preaching on Matthew 18 and the subject of forgiveness. I ask for your prayers and deeply appreciate them.

Meanwhile, how are you on forgiveness?

 

 

Cornfused*

Written by cycleguy on September 10th, 2014

I’m not one for cliches. In fact, the words I would use is “I hate cliches.”

“God works all things together for good.”  And how does that ease the pain?

“God is good all the time; all the time God is good.” Sorry. Sort of hackneyed.

“God never closes a door without opening a window.” Can He open it wider?

I know. I am being cynical. Sorry if that offends you. Even pastors have those days/times when answers don’t come easy. :)

Someone I know and love is hurting. There is not a blasted thing I can do about it. I can pray, but this person needs feet and skin right now. I can spout off some of those cliches, but you know how that would go over? Honestly, I would probably gag over my own words if I did that.

Funny thing: I believe the sentiment behind those cliches. I just hate hearing them. And I certainly don’t want to be guilty of saying them mindlessly to a person who is hurting.

You see…

I do believe God is sovereign.

I do believe God is loving.

I do believe God has things under control and is in control.

And yes, I do believe He has the best in mind.

My head says that. Sometimes my heart hasn’t caught up.

Anyway, what are your thoughts? Any more cliches you can come up that people use? How do you handle them?

*And no the title is not a typo.

I made reference to a post of another blogger but it has become unavailable at this time. Sorry for the mix-up. That post is now available. It is here.

 

Servant

Written by cycleguy on September 9th, 2014

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Matt begins his chapter on the Creature as a Servant with an almost “hard-to-believe” story. But also true. David Karnes was an accountant when 9/11 happened. As an ex-Marine (is there such a thing?), he went and got a high-and-tight haircut, put on his fatigues and drove at speeds of 120 mph in order to get to Ground Zero to help. When all others were pulling away from the sight due to danger, he and another Marine began walking to see if there were any they could save. They heard the slight tapping of Will Jimeno and John McLoughlin who had been trapped for nine hours in an elevator shaft. They are alive because an accountant in Connecticut found them.

We live an age of entitlement and sadly, the church is often guilty of that thinking. We have enjoyed the “favor” of society for years and seem to expect it to continue. We have, in many ways, become very selfish. Inward focused. “Let’s build bigger barns.”

Quite frankly, the church was never put here to impress or to live for itself. In this Scripture Jesus is saying His followers are to serve others because Jesus has served us. Not out of guilt. Not out of force. Not because it is the right thing to do. Not because we are a “cause-oriented” church.

We serve because Jesus served us.

The church was never intended to be guilty of navel-gazing. I have to wonder what God thinks about churches which build mega-million dollar  facilities but cringe when asked to help out paying a utility bill. I hate it when we don’t have the finances to help someone, but it also fuels the desire to never take on a huge mortgage. How can we justify that while turning someone away who needs help? We are, quite frankly, facing this very issue. Desperately in need of space for Sunday morning, plans are on the table for an expansion of our current facility. It is not a lot of money given the debt of so many churches, but it is not something I/we want to fall into. It is a fine line to walk: meeting the needs of the church body without putting a hardship on that same body to help others. The leadership will be talking about our approach tonight as we struggle with space issues and also look forward to our 10th Anniversary in October. May I ask you to please say a prayer for us to do what God wants? Thanks.

For what its worth department: I normally post this series on Creature of the Word on Tuesday night and run it through Wednesday night. I am posting it early due to a crazy schedule brought on by a home-going. several meetings, and other things. I will comment when I have a chance-both here and at some of your blogs. Thanks for understanding.

Finally: what are your thoughts? Why do you serve?

 

Home

Written by cycleguy on September 7th, 2014

If you read this post over the weekend then you know what my sermon was about. What you don’t know is how things would play out.

We have had several over the past couple weeks in the hospital, two of whom were pretty bad. One was discharged and taken to a nursing facility for rehab and further care. She is getting it and is expected to go home when ready. The other was much worse. Hooked up to a dialysis machine, a ventilator and other machines I don’t know the name of has been pretty much her existence the past several weeks. In all my visits she never acknowledged me…except maybe Saturday. It was touch-and-go with her (Barb) for the past several weeks. She has so many things against her and they seemed to magnify themselves. However, on Friday and Saturday she rallied, so much so they were able to remove most of the tubes. She was breathing on her own. She showed some “life” in her awareness of people around her, even laughing on Friday.

Sunday morning she went home. I received an early morning text of breathing difficulties and soon a text of her home-going.

I have no doubts where Barb is these days. Her family will miss her. I will miss her kind words. But she is in the best place. This is the exact opposite of what I was writing about in that post. Barb has been a follower of Jesus for years. Lived it. Shared it. Believed it. These funerals are a whole lot easier, with far less questions, than those in which you know nothing for sure.

To echo a saying from a movie: “Sure hope you’re thinking about the future.”

 

LastMinute

Written by cycleguy on September 4th, 2014

Don’t you just love questions? Especially those “easy-to-answer” ones kids ask.

“Who made God?”

“Why did Adam and Eve sin?”

You know…easy ones.  :)

One of the hardest-to-answer questions often comes at a funeral- before, during, or after. The question, or variation of it goes something like this: “Will that person be in Hell/Heaven?” (depending on whose asking). Frankly, that is a hard one to answer. For one, I am not God. Two, because I am not God I do not know what transpired in the time that person realized (if they did) they were dying and when they took their last breath. I know what I used to say, but I am ashamed of that so I will not mention it. Let’s just suffice it to say my answer is more grace-filled now that it used to be. :) I do believe a person who has failed to come to terms with Jesus as Savior will be in for a shock at death, but what about the person who reaches out just before breathing that last breath?

The parable I am using for Sunday’s message helps with that answer. Matthew 19:30-20:16 sure give a great picture of the fairness and justice of God (even though we often begrudge fairness and justice…even His). It is an admittedly strange situation Jesus presents with a businessman paying the late comers the same amount as those first on the job, the ones who labored all day in the hot sun. As can be expected, the day-long laborers brought what they thought was an inequity to the owner. His answer may very well be the answer we can use in our answer to those who ask about last-minute conversions, i.e. deathbed confessions. Did you know there was a pastor on the Titanic who spent his last hours going to people, even swimming after the ship sank, asking them if they knew Jesus and telling them, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” if their answer was negative? No one is going to tell me those folks are not in heaven if they did.

We may think it is unfair for some to live like the devil all their life and at the last moment to believe on and confesses Jesus and be told by a  merciful and grace-filled God, “Welcome home. Enter into the joy that is yours.” It is NEVER TOO LATE unless/until the last breath has been taken.

Thanks for your prayers this week.