#Revelation#Blessed

Written by cycleguy on June 29th, 2022

On April 18th I embarked on an adventure I had never done before and really had no clue what to expect. On my other blog, Living in the Shadow, I decided to take the book of Revelation and write some posts about it. I took a chapter a day, except for when I was in chapters 2-3 (7 churches). I took a day for each one. That effort started on April 18th and ended with a final post on June 2nd.

It spurred a thought I never thought I would think. Yeah, you read that right. 🙂  What if I preached the book of Revelation with the same type of approach?  How about 2023?  The theme for 2023 popped into my mind: Victory! Hmmmm. So I decided to say something publicly to the church I pastor. I think they are shell-shocked because only one person has responded and she said, “Pastor Bill, I’ve always appreciated your approach to God’s Word. If He is telling you to preach on Revelation, I will be glad to hear it. If He says something else, I will be glad to hear it. You listen to Him.” (slightly revised).

So…at this point…I do plan to preach on Revelation to start 2023. About the time I decided to do that, I became aware of a brand new book:

Blessed: Experiencing the Promise of the Book of Revelation

It was a God-send! I was not familiar with Nancy as an author. I had heard the name. But I trusted the publishing company (Crossway) so I bit the bullet. What a phenomenal book!  The subtitle is Experiencing the Promise of the Book of Revelation and she does just that.  Her book includes 12 chapters all focused on “Blessed by…”

I found the book easy to read. Yes, there were times I had to go back and read a paragraph or two again. It was mostly because I was reading whenever I could and my mind tends to wander sometimes.  No matter the book!!  🙂 So I can’t and won’t blame the book.  But I can say that Nancy’s approach was just what I was looking for to help me in my series in 2023. But I am so glad I read it, and not just for sermon prep.  Honestly, I had trouble putting it down so I found myself reading at home (which I almost never do with books of this genre). I prefer to leave that for the office. But here I was toting this book back and forth.

I was also pleasantly surprised that Nancy’s approach will enhance my focus in my sermons. I’m already formulating how this can be incorporated into my sermon series.  Her thoughts were clear and clearly presented. I anticipate using it consistently during my sermon prep.

One more thing: Nancy’s approach will not be what many expect. I tend toward the amillennial view of the Second Coming. Not that I think either view (except for post-millennialism) is without merit, but I have favored that particular view. If you are not open to hearing an opposing view, you will not like Nancy’s book. She definitely believes in the “recapitulation theory” of Revelation (the seals, trumpets, etc are the same scene from different viewpoints),  characteristic of the amillennial position.  Take that for what it’s worth.

I highly recommend this book by Nancy Guthrie. Agree or disagree it will give you a greater appreciation for the most misunderstood, most fascinating, most imaginative, most intriguing, most debated, most thrilling book in the Bible.  Thank you Nancy for a book and a job well done.

And here is something for you to listen to Warning: it might get you excited. It might also not be your cup of tea. 

 

#DeadlyCancer#Pride

Written by cycleguy on June 24th, 2022

Gregory the Great, who became pope in 590 A.D., once said pride was the “queen of sins.” And even though the papacy is not Scriptural, I have to say I agree with him. C.S. Lewis called pride “the great sin.” He went on to say, “The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride.”

When you think about it, all sin seems to find its roots in pride. Proverbs 8:13 and Proverbs 16:18 seem to say that as well.  Funny side note: do you remember the song by Carly Simon called “You’re So Vain”? It was reported to have been about Warren Beatty because he thought he was God’s gift to women.  Remember part of the lyrics: “You’re so vain you probably think this song is about you.” I just thought she was saying, “If you are arrogant enough to think I’m singing about you in what I have said, then vanity is an issue.” 🙂

Anyway, when pride takes over everyone suffers.  Two weeks ago I began a series I am calling “7 Cancers” with a sermon on Whatever Became of Sin.  This Sunday starts that series in earnest. As you can tell, pride will be the focus of the sermon I’m calling “The Queen Cancer.”   I hope you will join me either in person or online. We have two services-one at 9 and one at 10:45.

Let me close with a quote from J. Oswald Sanders:

Nothing is more distasteful to God than self-conceit.

 

#Father’sDay#SpecialEvent

Written by cycleguy on June 17th, 2022

As I recover from my back surgery God’s impeccable timing becomes even more apparent. I’m not really sure I would have been up for a normal Sunday morning sermon. Without knowing anything about surgery or a date, I decided to do something different for Father’s Day. 

First, the backdrop. On Mother’s Day, I asked several women to share in sort of a roundtable discussion what woman or women in the Bible was one they looked up to. I used the word “hero” when I asked. Seven women participated, two via video. It was well-accepted and much appreciated. They didn’t preach. They didn’t even stand in the pulpit. I set chairs up for them to sit and share their thoughts with the audience and each other.

Now Father’s Day. I decided to do something similar for Father’s Day. I asked 15 men the same question: what man in the Bible would you consider a hero…other than Jesus.  All of them got back to me with their thoughts. When I asked if they would be willing to share that with others, 9 of them said, “Yes.” I have to tell you how excited I was about that! Many consider the women the more open of those who will speak.

This Sunday, 9 men will be sharing their example, the one they look up to as one to follow. Due to space and time it will not be a roundtable. They will present their thoughts from the pulpit. I’m so excited to hear their thoughts. I have to admit men I never thought would feel comfortable standing in front of folks will be doing so. What a phenomenal sight it will be to see men lead. Another man is giving the Communion thought.

I invited you to join me at 10:00 this Sunday. One service only this week! You can join us in person or online. Meanwhile, please continue to pray for my recovery. Thanks.

 

 

 

 

 

#Surgery#Atpeace

Written by cycleguy on June 13th, 2022

As the title says, I am scheduled for surgery. It is to take place tomorrow morning (Tuesday) at 8:00. It was originally scheduled for 11:30 with a 9:30 check in time. But they called Friday saying they had a cancellation and moved me up to an 8:00 time for the surgery.  Check in time is 6:00. I won’t have an issue with that but Jo doesn’t do mornings so it will be interesting. 🙂

I ask for your prayers. I don’t anticipate any difficulties but I am not the ONE who is in charge. For more of my thoughts on the surgery and some lessons from Psalm 31 please visit my devotional blog, “Living in the Shadow.” You can find that particular devotion at https://livingintheshadow.ovcf.org/2022/06/13/june-13-3/

Thanks.

 

#Sin#SayWhat?

Written by cycleguy on June 9th, 2022

In 1973 Dr. Karl Menninger wrote a book entitled Whatever Became of Sin? Although I have never read the book, i borrowed its title for this week’s sermon.  The very real truth is that sin is part and parcel of life here on earth, but our culture wants to either redefine it, dismiss it, or dismantle it.

Holiness is not an option for the follower of Christ, and for us to accomplish that we must come to grips with the effects of sin in our lives. Anyone who knows the Bible or even of the Bible, knows the beginning of sin from Genesis 3. Adam and Eve decided to take things into their own hands, believe the serpent who said they would be like God, and eat the fruit. Life has been all downhill since then.  Try as we may, we cannot change the outlook or consequence of sin.  I have to confess that I get really embarrassed for those who think they can sing because someone told them they could.  Even though I don’t watch American Idol , I have seen enough promos to know there are some who are downright awful. And when I say awful. I mean A.W.F.U.L. They remind me of those who think they can pull their life together and overcome their sin by themselves. They can’t sing and neither can someone do the latter.

I am starting a series on June 26 (a break for Father’s Day) on 7 Cancers. This week’s sermon is sort of a lead off batter to it.  I would love to have you join me in person if possible. If not, we will be live streaming it at 9 and 10:45. Please join us. If not possible, then please pray for the service. Thanks.

 

#BadConduct#GoodConduct

Written by cycleguy on June 3rd, 2022

As the war against Hitler went to a fever pitch, Winston Churchill, in his first statement as prime minister said, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” That statement was put to the test when British troops rescued more than 300,000 Allied troops who were cut off from land retreat by the Germans at Dunkirk. 30,000 French and British troops were killed or taken prisoner, but still Churchill stood his ground. On June 4, 1940, he made the follower speech to the House of Commons:

We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

His words ring true with the resolve of a man contending earnestly for the preservation of his country. In Jude, verse 3, we are told to “contend earnestly for the faith.” There will always be false teachers. Sometimes they will be overt and sometimes like wolves in sheep’s clothing. 

In this final sermon in my series called Snapshots,  Jude warns us about those who will bring bad conduct to a whole new level. But, more importantly, he also lays out a battle plan for us to mature into healthy followers of Jesus.  I would love to have you join us in person or via live stream at 9 and 10:45 as I close out this series.

Next week I start a series I’m calling 7 Cancers. I look forward to having you join me.

 

#Spies#TheCreep

Written by cycleguy on May 27th, 2022

When I was a lot younger (and I mean a lot younger!), I used to watch TV shows in black and white.  One of the popular shows, even though it was years later, were the ones of Johnny Weismuller as Tarzan. Johnny was an Olympic gold medal swimmer who appeared in 12 movies between 1932 and 1948.  And yes, that was before my time, thank you very much. 🙂 As in most movies there were times of anxiety and tension and excitement. Living in the jungle with Jane and their son, “boy,” gave them plenty of opportunities to have all three of those criteria. One of the most frequent were when they went swimming and a crocodile would slip into the water and see a feast before him. But Tarzan always won (as you would expect).  He was smart enough and strong enough to save the day.

Tragically, we cannot say the same about the church today. While there are pockets of steadfastness and people holding the line, there are greater examples of waffling and retreat. As we talk about staying true to our values in our world, I think it is much more important that the church makes it an essential part of its culture to remain true to biblical truth. Sadly, with the teachings coming out of Bethel, Hillsong and the Word of Faith movement, it is getting harder to remain Biblically solid. It is especially hard because of there being wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Paul warned the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 of that very tactic.

Jude is aware of the creep into the church. I have entitled this first of two sermons from Jude as Look Out for Spies!  I’ll cover the first 16 verses of Jude this week and then finish up the Snapshot series next week with the rest of Jude. Solomon once wrote, “Buy truth, and do no sell it.” (Pr. 23:23). That is a great admonition to us to seek the truth and not give up on it.

Please join me this Sunday at 9:00 and 10:45, either in person or via live stream. If you can’t, I would appreciate your prayers.

 

#TransparentTruth

Written by cycleguy on May 20th, 2022

One of the abilities we have these days is called photo-shopping. In many ways, publishers have been doing that for years. They have airbrushed pictures of celebrities (especially female) to take out crow’s feet, pimples, lines, and other “imperfections” to make the model look stunning (or so they think).  Honestly, one can say the word “fake” comes to mind. Well, photo-shopping sort of does that same thing. A recent photo of trans swimmer Lia Thomas was photo shopped to show his face as being soft and feminine when it is anything but. But at the same time, some photo-shopping is pretty funny.  In our community, the local theater showed the movie, Babe, and had a man holding the pig. It was actually one of our local ISP officers photo-shopped for the picture. Photos can be altered and edited to picture what we want.

British preacher, Charles Spurgeon, once said,

“The eagle-eyed world acts as a policeman for the church…It becomes a watchdog over the sheep, barking furiously as soon as one goes astray…Be careful. Remember that it is upon your public life that the verdict of the world will very much depend.” 

WOW! That goes straight to the heart of the matter. Our public conduct is indicative of our private life…AND PEOPLE NOTICE.

The early church had its share of problems. We can’t kid ourselves about that. It wasn’t just false teachers and outside influences that they struggled with. The 3rd letter of John shows us that.  While highlighting Gaius and Demetrius, John also talks about the problem with Diotrephes. I’ll let you read that book to see what the issue was.

Better yet, come see us! If you can’t in person, then you can watch us online at 9:00 and 10:45.  I would love to hear from you.

 

#Snapshot#Tension

Written by cycleguy on May 13th, 2022

We tend to think sometimes that the early church knew no friction. Nothing is farther from the truth. Like all earthly entities, the church was and is no different. Church is made up of people and as such will find itself embroiled in tension from time to time. I’m not talking about big “C” church. I’m talking little “c,” like the local body of believers.

There is an old saying we hear and may even use often: they are like oil and water. We hear it used about siblings. We hear it used about parents and children. We hear it used about coworkers and even teammates. We even hear it used about individuals in a church. Sparks fly and at times it may even feel like WW3 is happening.

Blaise Pascal once said:

Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.

He said that of his day. (the 1600s). I think we can say that about ours as well. Seems like there is nothing new under the sun.

2 John is the 2nd book in my short series called Snapshots.  The title is Picture of Tension Revealed. It is about the molding of truth and love. Truth is necessary; truth and love is vital.  We would do well to listen, learn and practice both. Join me please at 9:00 or 10:45 in person or via live stream. We will also be honoring our high school and college graduates this Sunday. All told I think we have 15.  Thanks for being a part of our worship.

 

#Mother’sDay#SpecialDay#Honor

Written by cycleguy on May 6th, 2022

This Sunday, in case you were born yesterday or are from the planet Vulcan, is Mother’s Day. A National Holiday. If you ask some, it is THE NATIONAL HOLIDAY!! 🙂  I know some will think I am prejudiced but I’m really not: I believe I married the best of the best, the cream of the crop.  Seriously, I am not prejudiced. 🙂 🙂

Anyway, Mother’s Day brings a gamut of emotions.  Happy thoughts. Sad thoughts. Reminiscing thoughts. Bitter thoughts. The list goes on.

One thought it brings to a pastor is scary: what do I say on Mother’s Day? I am a man and who am I to think I can use Proverbs 31 to tell a woman how to be that kind of woman? And who am I that I should use Mother’s Day to tell a woman she needs to be submissive to her husband (and he to her)?

So I decided to take the chicken way out…or is is the wise way out? I’ll let you decide and have your opinion. I decided to approach this year differently. No, I didn’t ask a woman to preach for me (I don’t want to get into that frankly). However, I did ask for help.  I know…how unlike a man right?

I texted 10 women and asked them a question: what woman in the Bible stands out as a hero you look up to?  I thought I would then take their suggestions and write my sermon focusing on them. Little did I realize that not only would all the ladies respond but they would-in many cases-give me several women. Yikes! It is Mother’s Day and I know they will not want to be there for a couple hours.

So I elicited their help. “Would you be willing to share with the church family why you chose those ladies?” Two said they would, but would be out of town, so they were willing to record it on a flash drive for us to show. Several said they were uncomfortable or not yet ready to share their story.  I certainly understood and was willing to forgive them. 🙂  Five said they would, but a couple were hesitant to do it from the pulpit (fear). So I decided to do it like a panel and focus it more like a discussion amongst themselves, but obviously including the rest of us in their musings.

I’m looking forward to it. Novel approach. Hopefully a great learning experience.

We are having one service at 10:00 since I did not want to put the ladies through two services.  If you are able to be with us in person, I look forward to seeing you. If not, please join us via the live stream. You can join us by going to the church website where you will see our link to YouTube and also Facebook (Look below the sermon title).