Thoughts

Written by cycleguy on June 29th, 2015

After being out of the office since last Wednesday I found today hard-going. So much so that I delayed writing a post because I had a sermon to work on (this Sunday’s which I thought was already done). Plus…I didn’t want to just throw something together for the sake of getting it posted.

So…I decided to give my thoughts. About what?

This past weekend’s SCOTUS decision? Well…yes…AND…no.

I was working on that sermon I already mentioned when this Scripture came up: “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” [Gal.5:13]

We live in a day of liberation. Men, women, even children, are demanding more freedom to do as they please. Is there any who doubt that statement? (Pause: remove head from sand. Unpause). In the name of personal rights, authority is flaunted and restrictions are resisted. Again…no need to elaborate.

Tragically, while we live in a day crying for liberation, we are also living in a day prevalent with addiction- alcohol, drugs (prescription and others), pornography, sexual passions, violence, and many other forms of bondage which many are powerless to escape. When people choose their own recourse and their own standard, the resulting consequences eventually consume them. [Read here for proof] Fallen man is a slave to his sinful nature, an addict who cannot successfully control his sinful thoughts and actions on his own.

However, there is a way out. It is a Man…a Man called Jesus. In John 8:34 Jesus said, “Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” But in verse 36 He said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Since we are all sinners we are all in need of being set free.

That won’t stop the “judgment-meter-outers” (yeah I know not a word). As I have often mentioned to the church, the standard is the Bible so there is to be no compromise. However, any judgment given must be given in love. Not hate. Not with a caustic edge. Love wins…not in the way they say…but love wins.

There is no deeper love than the love of the Father for His wayward, fallen children. Aaaaah that would be me. That would be you. Can we do any less than show love to others?

 

Stone8

Written by cycleguy on June 23rd, 2015

I like what Chuck Swindoll once wrote when telling a story of a little boy. The little boy wrote down “Nobody act big. Nobody act small. Everyone act medium.” Gotta chuckle at that. There are some people who are too big for their britches. There are some who need to learn to “buck it up” and accept who they are and quit putting themselves down. But we also need to see we are-for all intents and purposes-equal.

Stone 8 is about homogeneity. I’ll use a word I know: sameness. For many churches variety is not the spice of life. They maintain a certain “air” which transfers to those who worship there and those who visit. If the “air” is too uppity or too stiff or too stifling then too bad. By the same token, if the air is too white or too black or too oriental then that is also too bad. Sadly, many churches revel in their homogeneity, aka sameness.

The recent shooting in Charleston has once again brought the race card to the forefront. But I am glad to see people of all colors banding together saying, “This will not define us. We will not allow this to divide us.” ‘Course there will always be those redneck kind-white and black. Who can forget the reaction to bombing of Pearl Harbor and Americans’ attitude toward the Japanese?

It is worse when the attitude infiltrates the church. Sameness-“yes” people-people who never disagree or challenge our belief system, our notions, and our prejudices do not do a good service to a church. Walking into a church and seeing all white/black/Hispanic/young/old people is not good.

God loves difference. So should we.

This is Stone 8 from the book by Randall Arthur.

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One more thing: I wrote here about one of my Heroes. I leave/left for Knoxville early Wednesday morning to move Tami back to live with us for awhile. I’d appreciate your prayers. It is supposed to be close to 100 degrees while we are there. I drive the truck back here on Friday. I’m going to take the rest of the week off from blogging. No sense in trying to keep up with comments, etc while loading, driving, then unloading. I will approve any comments on this post though. See you Sunday night/Monday morning. (That also means I will not be commenting on your blogs either. Just don’t forget me!)  :)

 

Declaration

Written by cycleguy on June 23rd, 2015

Sunday night we had a storm roll through our little town. Tornado sirens went off. Rain came in sheets. Dark menacing clouds seemed to almost literally fly through the sky. At one point, the sirens were going off and I went outside on my front stoop to look. Sitting over us and behind us was bright sunshine. To the south was a dark sky. Along with that menacing picture was a double rainbow. I’m not much of a picture taker and since I didn’t have my phone on me, the moment passed.

This morning as I walked from the back door of the church building to the highway and back to get the trash can, the chorus of bullfrogs was heating up. (Contrary to some people’s opinion it was not me singing, nor was I listening to my music). :) I found it interesting to listen to the different types of sounds. It sounded like a chorus in stereo since we have a pond on the south and the west side of our property.

I’ve gotten caught in the rain more this year riding my bike than in the previous 5 or so. I was taking a break the other day and laying back on a table listening to music and eating a Clif Bar when I thought I heard a rumble. I got up and was totally surprised to see the storm rolling in. I booked it for the church building (6 miles) and as I pulled into the lot the sky opened. I made it but the young lady cutting the grass didn’t. :)

I’m reminded of Psalm 19:1- “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” While some like to think earth just happened or some big bang happened, I prefer to agree with David. God has painted a beautiful, yet rugged world, for us to live in and care for. Whether we are talking about a storm and rainbow; a chorus of bullfrogs; or a downpour of rain; winter or summer; God has made a marvelous creation. It declares His handiwork.

What about His creation do you revel in?

 

GIFT

Written by cycleguy on June 21st, 2015

I’ve been doing some soul-searching the past couple of weeks, especially these past couple of days with Father’s Day upon us. FD is like Thanksgiving in many ways: it takes a back seat to Mother’s Day like Thanksgiving often does to Christmas.

My situation is even more unique. Being a pastor, my girls received another moniker: PK. Pastor’s kid. Preacher’s kid. Translated: kids under a microscope. Kid living in glass house. Kid most often embarrassed by father’s profession. What has gotten me reflective of late is an article I recently read about PKs. The gist of the article was how many leave the faith-some to return and some not to. It is a tenuous balance to be sure. Kids want to be “themselves” but feel this great pressure to not be left out or to stick out like a sore thumb.

The greatest hindrance, though, is the double life PKs often see their parents live, especially the father. They also see and hear firsthand the church wars waged, as they see and hear things said about their mom and dad no child should hear. They also see and hear things about people and churches no child should from their parents. While I certainly wasn’t a perfect father (there is only ONE of those), I sincerely hope I left my girls with something of value.

You see, we ALL leave behind something-a legacy if you want to call it that-which our children and grandchildren either adopt or discard. While I never had a flashy financial picture to give them, I know I could have done better (I rue the day I ever heard of a credit card and financing for new cars).

One thing I don’t regret: trying to pass on a legacy of faith. I wanted/encouraged my girls to forge a faith of their own. I knew and know that my faith would not see them through life-only their own would. And while I can’t leave them a financial empire, I can leave them with something even better: a love for Jesus.

That is my greatest gift. What will you leave behind?

 

Men

Written by cycleguy on June 18th, 2015

Sunday, in case you haven’t heard, is Father’s Day.  When it came time for Mother’s Day (Sermon: Being Extraordinary) I wrote the following:

As a pastor I have come to realize how sensitive this day is to many women. I cringe when I think about how calloused I was in my approach to Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day). Leaving out a vital part of the church: women who have been unable to have children or lost them in various ways. That is why I no longer preach about mothers, but instead focus on being a godly woman.

So to stay true to what I wrote then, I am taking the same approach for this Father’s Day. While men tend to not be as emotional about some things, I KNOW men who hurt each time MD and FD rolled around. My plan this Sunday is to preach on Being Extraordinary II. (Hope you catch the wordplay in the title).

There is little doubt the church needs men to be men. Not dorks. Not dictators. Not selfish, arrogant, (they think they) know-it-all’s. Not MIA. We need men who are engaged with their families if they have one. Men who are conscientious about their work. Men who look beyond themselves. Men who look beyond the physical and treat others, especially women, like the unique creation God has made them to be. Men who take their relationship to God seriously.

My examples this Sunday will be Josiah (using 2 Chronicles 34 & 35) and Nehemiah (using Nehemiah 1). I’ll be looking at what makes a man extraordinary. If you are in the area, I look forward to seeing you. If not, you may listen online to the podcast. If you can’t do either, I covet your prayers. Thanks.

 

Stone7

Written by cycleguy on June 17th, 2015

Thanks to all who sent me well-wishes about my 42nd anniversary. They were much appreciated. I took an extra day to do some catch-up on a lot of things.

Now…back to my post for today.

One of the hardest things many have to deal with is what I will consider “the unfairness of life.” Seriously, how many times have you heard (or said yourself), “That is unfair.”

“I work my tail off and I have nothing to show for it. Meanwhile, he/she loafs or lives off the dole (or entitlement) and they have more.”

“I just don’t understand. I serve God and give Him all I can, try to be committed to Him, try to spend time with Him, and look! Nothing! I’m worse off now than before.”

“I work hard, practice hard, never miss a team meeting, and I still sit the bench. How come I can’t play better?”

There are more. You know that. It is the old “life isn’t treating me fair routine” so many of us get caught up in. Our standard reply is “Life isn’t fair. Deal with it” (or something similar).

There are many Christ-followers who EXPECT better treatment simply because they are a Christ-follower. Frankly, life does not support the teaching that “our best life is now.” The whole cockeyed philosophy is from the pit of hell and smells like smoke. It has deluded and misled a lot of people down a path of ruin and doubt, simply because the idea of “good and ease” is not found in the Bible. And yet, because of a certain smiley guy in Texas (and others like him), hundreds of thousands of people have been deluded and ultimately begin to think God is unfair.

On the contrary, God has not promised us a good life here. He has not promised us life will be fair. To quote Randy: “God never promised anyone-not His followers, not His sympathizers- that life on planet earth would be fair or just.” (p.48) What we have been promised is His presence in the midst of all the unfairness and injustice that we face. What do you think?

This is one of my semi-regular posts from this book:

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 For more on this (and unbeknownst to me) Kari wrote this blog.

 

42

Written by cycleguy on June 15th, 2015

The number of Jackie Robinson’s jersey.  And Mariano Rivera (number now since retired).

The angle rounded to whole degrees for which a rainbow appears.

The number in Japanese considered unlucky.

The number in which God creates the universe in Kabbalah.

The number of generations in Matthew. The number of teenage boys mauled by a bear for mocking Elijah.

The number of illustrations in Alice in Wonderland.

The number of an episode of Doctor Who.

The number of Pat Tillman, who played at Arizona State University, and a victim of friendly fire in Desert Storm.

You can find out more useless facts about “42” here. Have fun!!!

All those are insignificant actually. Least in my mind. June 16, 1973-June 16, 2015 is 42 years…the number of  years I have been married to Jo. It has been a good 42 years. Not all peaches and cream. Not all smiles. But not trade-able. Two fantastic daughters. One one-of-a-kind grandson. Several churches (8). Lots of fun. Laughter (I am sort of unpredictable at times). Lots of friends. And love that has held us together with God as the cement.

In honor of my anniversary, I will be going to the hospital to visit a patient who is having surgery then taking the day to be with Jo. My presence here will be “iffy.” However, gift cards are allowed (especially food). Any monetary donations will not be turned down either. (I wish I could say I was kidding). :)

Have a great day.

 

History101

Written by cycleguy on June 14th, 2015

There should be absolutely no doubt as to why there is war in the Middle East. The Bible (yeah that outdated and irrelevant book) has the answer.

Abraham received a promise: His seed would be as numerous as the sand of the seashore and stars in the sky.

Impatience drove he and Sarah to take matters into their own hands. Abraham + Hagar = Ishmael.

God’s promise comes true when Abraham is 100 and Sarah 89. Abraham + Sarah = Isaac.

Sarah despises Hagar. Ishmael despises Isaac.

Abraham bans both.

Ishmael = Arab nation.

Isaac = Jewish nation.

Case closed.

And who says the Bible is outdated and irrelevant? For further study check out Genesis 15-18:21; 21:1-21; Galatians 4:21-31

Imperfect people will always mess with God’s plan. The consequences (to quote Doc Brown) can be “disastrous.” And there is your History101 lesson for today. :)

 

Truth/Lie

Written by cycleguy on June 11th, 2015

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You don’t see them as much anymore as you used to (thank goodness). What? This bumper sticker:

HONK IF YOU LOVE JESUS!

It always amused me when I saw it on someone flying by me as if I was standing still. By the time I reached my horn they were so far gone I might as well have been honking at some other car (and making them mad).

Then they came out with another one that may have been just as obnoxious and even more crass:

TITHE IF YOU LOVE JESUS. ANYONE CAN HONK.

Do you hear the upchuck/gag reflex hitting about now? That’s me in response to that statement.

I’d like to add a twist to that sticker. I think it is more relevant:

TELL THE TRUTH IF YOU LOVE JESUS. ANYONE CAN LIE.

I know. Not a very good one but it tells the point of this Sunday’s message. There is hardly anything more important than telling the truth. We can shade it. We can cover it up. We can lie about it. But it will all come back to us eventually. I would personally have someone, no matter how much it hurt, tell me the truth than shade it, cover it up, lie about it or talk about me behind my back.

Paul’s defense against the abusers of grace is not a defense; it is an offense. He calls an Ace and Ace and a Spade a Spade. One of the ways he does that is to show the glaring difference between Sarah and Hagar; the child born by supernatural means (Isaac), and the child born by natural means (Ishmael). He points out the children were at odds. They still are. Sarah vs. Hagar. Isaac vs. Ishmael. Jew vs. Arab.

My Scripture Sunday is here. I’d appreciate your prayers and thank you ahead of time.

 

Stone6

Written by cycleguy on June 10th, 2015

I’m back from a few days away and thought I would ease back into blogging with another Stone from this book. I was going to “tease” things with the title of Bedroom but after doing something like that once several years ago I decided I didn’t want any unwanted spam. Yeah, you know what I mean. :)

What does Randy mean by bedroom?

I have, along the way, met some people who have regretted their lives. They will make statements like “If I had to do it all over again…” Or “I feel like I missed out on some things by being (you fill in the blank). I know there are those who think they have missed out on a lot of “satisfying things” by being a Christian. By using the phrase “bedroom life” Randy is speaking of those who are looking for things which happen in a bedroom: pleasure, ease, freedom, unaccountability, and selfishness.

Let’s be honest please: the temptation to think things are greener on the other side is prevalent. I’m not just talking about the bedroom. How often have you/I said, “If I only had a few thousand…” What we think would answer our emptiness might “satisfy” for a short period, but long term it would only bring unwanted heartache. A man/woman thinks that fling will take care of the “longing” he/she isn’t getting at home, but it will eventually give way to hurt, betrayal, fatigue, more discontent, and perhaps worst of all…guilt.

As Randy says, “The bedroom life is only an illusion.” (p.41) Stories abound about the loneliness and disillusionment which comes from a life outside reality. It is only a mirage. One which tricks us into craving and accepting only to leave us grasping at empty promises.

There is only one life which satisfies: the life found in Jesus. It may be filled with potholes and all kinds of junk right now, but the final end is worth it.

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 By the way: I did not take my computer with me the past few days and only used my phone to listen to music on YouTube (you probably wouldn’t like my style), check for some important emails I was expecting, and some minor texting. I came back to over 50 unread blogs. Needless to say, I won’t be able to catch up, so please forgive me for not responding to any over the past few days. Thanks.