#Nailed!#Pride

Written by cycleguy on January 21st, 2022

Perhaps you have heard the saying “Pride is the only disease known to man that makes everyone sick except the person who has it.” It is hard to argue with the simple truth of that statement.

I’d like to go on record as saying this: Nothing is every wasted. No plan or word of God’s is ever wasted. God is not a God of random acts. He is not a God of random, disconnected lessons.  So what is the purpose of Daniel 4 and Nebuchadnezzar’s vision? Repeat: lesson never wasted. He needed to learn a lesson about pride and God was going to teach it. But man, was it brutal! 

If you are following the series of Against the Grain you will notice that I am out of order. My original plan was to preach Daniel 3 this week (fiery furnace) and this sermon on the 30th. But the 5th Sunday is a Family Worship Sunday and the elementary kids will be in with us. So rather than do this and possibly scare some of the kids with the dreams Nebuchadnezzar had, I switched sermons.

Another development has come up as well. All of Indiana is in the RED so we are offering just live stream this week. Remember the change in time though: 10:00.

Thanks most of all for your prayers.

 

#Don’tPanic!

Written by cycleguy on January 14th, 2022

Man, because of his ego, ambitions, and idolatries, is often impressed by what he can build. For example, it is widely said that upon boarding Titanic one of the men was reported to have said, “Not even God could sink this ship.” Of course, it didn’t take God doing it; it only took an iceberg and some of men’s stupidity. The Twin Towers were often looked on as man’s view to prosperity and inventiveness and ingenuity. We all know what happened to them. It is easy to look at what we have and have a blind eye.  But when it happens to us or involves our family, we stand up and take notice.

When our back is against the wall, it is easy to panic. When it appears we are “on the ropes” with seemingly no way out, it is easy to panic.  Daniel and his three friends refused to panic.

This week we are going to be looking at what appeared to be a panic-situation.  Read Daniel 2 to find out what I am referring to. But Daniel refuses to panic. Instead, he trusts. My sermon is on Daniel 2 this week and I have titled it “Don’t Panic!” I would love to have you join me in person or live stream at 9 and 10:45. If not, please pray for us. 

LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE

 

#DrawtheLine#HoldtheLine

Written by cycleguy on January 7th, 2022

There are two tests in life: the test of adversity and the test of prosperity. The challenge for each is different. The challenge for adversity is not to give in to despair, not to doubt God’s love, power, and presence in our lives. The test of prosperity is to forget God, to not become self-sufficient and proud.  I don’t know about you but my life seems to be a constant battle between the two.

Case in point: the response to COVID. This crisis has left many limping (and I don’t mean physically).  We have watched as our culture has leaned more and more to being anti-God and anti-Christian.  We have to know where we stand!

We have to draw a line in the sand and say, “I will not cross this and neither will you.” Daniel is a book filled with line-drawing. And it is not about “daring to be a Daniel. ” This book is not about Daniel and his 3 Hebrew friends. It is about Daniel’s God, the very same God whom we worship and serve. God is the hero of the book.

Daniel 1 is the second in the series I have entitled Against the Grain.  (Esther 4:1-14 was the first).  It will be all about drawing lines and then holding them.  My sermon is titled Hold the Line! and you can see why as you read the first chapter. I do hope you join us in person. If not, please join us via live stream.

One last thing: one my most faithful blogging friends who comments on both of my blogs, has one of her own, and tunes into our worship ever week is named Martha Orlando. This past week she was admitted for bacterial pneumonia (not COVID-related) to the hospital in Georgia. Would you please pray for her? Thanks.

 

#AgainsttheGrain#Esther

Written by cycleguy on December 31st, 2021

“I am only one. But still I am one. I cannot do everything. But still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”  So said Edward Everett Hale.

We often hear about the power of ONE.  History is filled with one person who made a difference: Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Robert E. Lee (tearing down his statue will not change his contribution), Washington, Luther, Florence Nightingale, Amelia Earhart, and others.

We are living in uncertain times. Some say unprecedented. No matter what you call it they sure are challenging. Queen Esther did also. My theme for 2022, as you can see, is “For Such a Time…”  Why did I choose that theme? In fact, I chose that theme in October, before the last two months of upheaval. Why? Frankly, our culture is not unlike the one Esther lived in. Mordecai, her cousin, told her she must choose.

So must we. His challenge to her is one for us.  Take the time to read Chapter 4 of Esther and specifically focus on verse 14.  You will have my objective for this Sunday. I look forward to starting this new theme. Oh…by the way…the series which follows is from Daniel. I’m calling it Against the Grain.

I hope you will join us this Sunday. If not in person then live stream at 9 and 10:45.

 

#AfterChristmas#Letdown

Written by cycleguy on December 21st, 2021

The last Sunday of 2021. I know some who said, “I can’t wait until 2020 is over.” Now those same people are saying, “I can’t wait until 2022 is here. Surely it will be better.” Well…I certainly don’t have a crystal ball to predict any of what is to come so I will refrain from making any predictions.

Except one.

2022 will be different from 2021. It is a new year filled with all new challenges. 

Every new year which begins holds promises of something better for all of us. We like the idea of turning over a new leaf and starting with a clean slate. But to get to the new year we have to fight through what I will call the Christmas letdown.  You know what that is: the high then the low. A veritable roller coaster of emotions.

But the new year is not without its hopes and dreams. My sermon this Sunday is one in which I uncover for you what I believe is the dream of every individual: that we all just get along. Well, you know that isn’t going to happen so let’s go to Plan B. What will it take to even begin to think that might happen?  Two qualities (IMHO):

Unity

Humility

The foundation for the sermon is from Philippians 2: 1-11.  I hope you will join me this Sunday either in person or via live stream.  We will be having only one service this week at 10:00 so you can watch it live then or catch it later. I do pray that 2022 will be a good year for you to find a deeper walk with Jesus.

This is also the last of my theme for 2021: Life on the Edge. I will unveil my theme for 2022 next week with an all new graphic.  Be looking for it. I’m also posting this early due to Christmas being on Saturday and I suspect most of us will lay aside our computers for a day or two.  🙂

 

#Gifts!#Unexepcted??

Written by cycleguy on December 17th, 2021

Admit it: we all like gifts.  No matter our age we like to open gifts. They may be “just what I wanted” or “just what I asked for” but there is still a certain excitement wrapped up in Christmas gift-giving.

In 1984 the rock group, Foreigner, came out with a song that struck a chord in the lives of many people…and still does. It tells the story of so many in our world. That song? I Want to Know What Love Is. It was a moving ballad and spoke of the desire of all of us: to find love.

We tend to hang our hats on things which will not last. We think the latest and greatest will make us happy or content. Not so fast! If you have ever watched Titanic there is a scene near the end where Rose is talking about the fictional character, Cal Hockley, who tried to “possess” her. As she speaks about him, she tells the undersea explorers how Cal took his own life after the economic downturn took his money.  Happiness and joy are two different animals. The angel didn’t say, “I bring you good news of great happiness.”

You don’t have to have lived through the Revolutionary War or Civil War or the world wars or Vietnam or Desert Storm or (take your pick) to know the world has been inundated with wars. When I say, “Wars” I do mean wars.  The end of WWI coined the phrase as it “was the war to end all wars.” Wrong. Peace is a missing commodity in our world. Take a look back at the summer of 2020 (then again maybe you don’t want to) and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the unrest which rocked our world.

You have just opened your unexpected gifts- Love. Joy. Peace.  Those are the three unexpected gifts I will be preaching about this Sunday. It is those three gifts I highlight as gifts I hope they find underneath their tree this Christmas.

I would love to have you join me. As bribery we also have a special gift we are giving everyone this year.  Just kidding about the bribery. We do have a special gift I’m excited about giving to the folks. I’ll try to post a picture of it next week.  Please join me if you are able either in person or live stream.  BTW: if you join us live stream, may I ask you to please sign in just to let us know you are there? No obligation I promise.

 

#Singing!

Written by cycleguy on December 14th, 2021

I posted this on my other blog, Living in the Shadow, and since it is not well read by a lot of people, I thought I would share it here.

I have always been a music person. Ever since I can remember (that might be a day or two) 🙂  I have always been a person who listens to music. I used to tell my folks I could study with music playing. Not true.  I have to admit that when I am studying or reading it has to be quiet or at least with background music I cannot know the lyrics to, i.e. classical.

Christmas is a time for songs, for singing. One of the best parts of this season is the songs-both old and new.  It doesn’t get much better than O Holy Night or Joy to the World.  The angels sang. Children sing. Adults sing. Young folks sing. Old folks sing. We can’t stop singing.

Chris Tomlin has written a (non-Christmas) song with the lyrics: “How can I stop from singing Your praise? How can I ever say enough, how amazing is Your love/How can I keep from shouting Your name. I know I am loved by the king and it makes my heart want to sing.”

This will be a different type of devotion today. I want to share some of my songs with you-those which have been meaningful to me this Christmas season. I hope it will give you something to sing. So here are a few of my favorite “new” Christmas songs. Enjoy.

https://youtu.be/5Vwu-t7QRaE

https://youtu.be/mt_xfOutfSQ

https://youtu.be/182xcb3GyOg

https://youtu.be/qmNDI4f8Wrw

If you want the lyrics (except for the last song which has them), hit CC and the lyrics will come on the screen. Enjoy the songs! May they lift your heart to heaven and put a spring in your step and a song in your heart today…and tomorrow…and the next day…(you get my drift).

 

#UnexpectedNews#Surprise!

Written by cycleguy on December 10th, 2021

I’m guessing we have all been the recipients of unexpected news.  Good and bad. If there was anyone who had to be surprised by unexpected news it would have to be the shepherds.

In his book, The Christmas We Didn’t Expect, David Mathis wrote the following:

“It may have been the greatest choral presentation in the history of the world. One nameless angel had the honor of singing the lead, with a veritable angelic multitude behind him. But no tickets were sold, and the show was not announced ahead of time. The audience was simply a flock of unresponsive sheep and a lowly band of unsuspecting shepherds. But it was too good to keep quiet about. Word got out, and ‘all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.’ The Gospel of Luke records the story for us to wonder at too.”

The shepherds are part and parcel of every Christmas celebration. But they are much more than children in a play dressed up in bathrobes. You know how that works. You find someone to play Mary and Joseph and look around for a baby Jesus-real or a doll. The rest of the children want to be in the play so you dress them up in bathrobes, tie a towel around their head and they become a great multitude.

Of course, the real shepherds’ involvement was more than that. My sermon this week is about the shepherds and the Unexpected News they received. Join me if you would like.

{NOTE: I apologize for failing to post last weekend. Jo and I went to Ohio from Thursday through Sunday. Pastor Ryan preached for me. I’m eager to be back with the people I love}.

 

#SoberCycle#Review

Written by cycleguy on November 30th, 2021

I can count on one hand the good things I think that have come out of the pandemic of the past close to 2 years.  One was the church implementing a live stream. That was most definitely good because it was very much needed. The other is podcasts, as in, I started listening to them. I have always said that I have trouble listening and driving. So I listened to music almost exclusively.  After I started listening to podcasts I had to change my tune. I figured out the reason why I could listen to them: they were not sermons.  Sermons are by nature one-sided so my mind wandered. Not so with most podcasts.  Honestly, I no longer listen to some of the podcasts I started with.  Some got too complicated. Some too business-oriented. Some too large-church oriented (I’m a pastor of a church in a small town so no relevancy there).

But one I have continued and consistently listened to is Bleeding Daylight hosted by Australian Rodney Olsen. I first “met” Rodney when we crossed paths while blogging.  We also had something in common: he was  a cyclist. Anyway, Rodney’s podcast is his interviews with various people who have overcome challenges and “kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.”  Like all interviews, some kept my rapt attention and some I lost interest in. One of the most recent featured a woman by the name of Sherry Hoppen from Hudsonville, MI.  Sherry’s story is one of addiction to alcohol.  It kept my attention from start to finish, not because I have an issue with it (I have never had a drink), but because I have some I know who do.  It was for them I listened; it was for them I was blessed.

Sherry has written a book chronicling her journey in a much more in-depth way than the podcast could do.

Sober Cycle: Pedaling Through Recovery One Day at a Time

I confess that I am hesitant to review or even suggest a “self-help” book.  Most of them are of the “your best life now” genre. I loathe that approach. Life is a challenge; life is tough, and no amount of self-talk will get you out off that treadmill. But Sherry’s book is much more than self-help. It is a memoir of sorts.  It is a revealing book. It is a brutally honest book.  Since I have never had an issue with alcohol, I do not totally understand its grasp on people. Sherry enlightened me as to the struggle addicts face. I wanted to simply say to her, “Well, then walk away. Don’t drink” but it wasn’t that easy.  And to my friends here, I now have a better idea of what they are going through.

I gave my copy to my friend. I now have another. I know another friend who has one waiting for him when he comes out of rehab.  I have to admit that I was impressed by Sherry’s battle, but I was totally impressed by her husband, Craig, who stood by her through it all. I know many husbands (and wives) who would have walked out and away at the first sign of addiction, let alone stay with her for years as she struggled.  Kudos to Craig!

I must also tell you that Sherry’s hobby is cycling.  Her first real effort at getting free from her addiction was a bike ride from Michigan to Maryland.  But her addiction was so bad she even started the ride with a hangover. I’m telling you folks, you need to read this book. For yourself. For your friends. For your alcoholic friend or relative.  And then pass it along.

Oh, one more thing. Sherry’s ministry is called She Surrenders because that is what it took for her to finally get free. Surrendering daily to the lordship of Jesus.  I can’t speak highly enough of Sherry’s book.  You can order from her website (https://www.shesurrenders.com/ or if you prefer, Amazon.

 

 

#UnexpectedBirth

Written by cycleguy on November 26th, 2021

So it begins. The slow trudge toward the end of 2021. Actually, I have heard several say they will be glad 2021 will soon be over, and that 2022 has to be better!  I don’t know about that but I am trying to prepare myself for the month of December and Christmas.

For a good part of our 48 years of marriage I have largely been a dunce. That comes as no surprise to some, but I’m not talking mentally. It comes to the use of my hands, i.e. remodeling experiences. I was never afforded the experience as a young boy growing up to watch and learn so the use of my hands with tools is minimal. That isn’t saying I can’t do some things but if I have put forth any effort it has turned out second rate at best. That is why I like to watch shows like Fixer Upper. Big time dreamer I am. 🙂

When it comes to surprises some of the best things in life are surprises.  To know what one is getting for their birthday or Christmas is kind of a balloon deflator (yes I know that is not a word).  The best surprises are those which take us totally by surprise and are no where near what we thought. Could there be any greater surprise than the birth of Jesus? Even though it was foretold, very few knew or were expecting it.  That is my theme for the month of December: Expect the Unexpected.  This Sunday I have entitled my sermon THE UNEXPECTED BIRTH.  The Scripture is from Luke 1:26-35 and 46-55 and I’ll be looking at what came before His birth and what came after.

Please join us as we begin our celebration of Christmas. You can do that in person or online. If you can do neither, then please pray for us.