Stone4

Written by cycleguy on May 26th, 2015

I had totally planned on not posting tonight/today since I thought I would be in Indy with Tami (see previous post). But her plans changed so I had this on my mind and thought, “Why not?”

Question: how often do you think we preach/teach cultural (church) traditions as the norm and think it is biblical?

Answer: A ton!!!

Exaggeration? You may think so but I disagree.

When I read this stone in Randy’s book, my mind immediately flashed to a true story. I once heard of a college professor (of the school I attended) who took a mission trip to Russia. It came time for communion on Sunday and Russians use wine not grape juice. This professor refused to take part in communion because how “Wine should not be used at communion.” (I may have refused for another reason. As a total teetotaler I would have probably gotten drunk. Can you see those headlines: “Visiting pastor gets drunk”?) :) :) The story, however, is true.

Question: how much of that was cultural/church tradition or biblical?

Randy makes an excellent point:

It is clear, and unfortunately so, that many beliefs, practices, and traditions in the Christian community are held to be valuable, not because there is anything inherent Biblical value in them, but simply because the former generation held them to be valuable. (p.33)

As much as I hate to say it…I can’t argue with that. We give these passed down traditions “godlike” status, as though God Himself passed them down from Sinai. It would be funny if not so sad. Consider how many things are passed down as biblical when they are nothing more than cultural/tradition: Clothing. Order of Service. Music (style, etc). Version of the Bible. Hair length.

Seems to me like we ought to be taking a good, long, hard look at what we preach/teach and ask, “Is this me or is this Biblical?” Wrestle with that for awhile.

This is an ongoing & random posting from 46 Stones.

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Hero

Written by cycleguy on May 26th, 2015

Our oldest daughter, Tami, came home Saturday for a few days. We are leaving later today (Tuesday) for Indianapolis to spend the night. She has an early morning “shadowing” to do and rather than leave real early in the morning and fight the Indy traffic she decided to go up today and spend the night at a hotel close by. (She is a chip of her mother’s block for sure). They asked me to go with them. I know it is so I can drive my truck and not really because they want my company. :)

If a father is allowed to have a daughter as a hero, I am one. I am extremely proud of both my girls, and couldn’t be more proud of Tami than I am right now. After 10 years in one school in Knoxville, (a magnet school the principal said no teacher should teach at for more than 3-5 years), she is embarking on a new venture. She wants to get closer to family (translated: her nephew, Braden), and her aging parents (man, did I just say that?), so she is making the move to hopefully teach in either Indiana or Ohio. She has been through a lot this past year or so. Health issues, many largely brought on by her job. Professional issues (she needed to get out of that school). Family issues (aforementioned family). It is a big step for her without a doubt. At her age (did I say she turns __ in just over a week and a half?) it takes a lot to start over. She had security, tenure, and a solid income, but as I told her, all that is worthless if your physical and mental health continues to deteriorate due to stress.

She is taking the plunge. Whether she will teach again, I don’t know. Whether she will go for more of a one-on-one approach, I don’t know. Whether it will still be in the education field, I don’t know. Where she will land, I don’t know. She will stay with us until she does find something. While neither she, nor I, know where she will land, there is ONE who does.  Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a man (or woman) are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.” I believe that firmly. Tami’s favorite verse is Zephaniah 3:17.

Out of my three family members, Tami not only comments occasionally on my blog, but is also the most consistent in reading it. So I know she will read this: I love you, Tami, and am proud of you. Happy 40th birthday early (June 3rd). Ooops. Ya gotta love me!!!

 

Memorials

Written by cycleguy on May 25th, 2015

Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial

Jefferson Memorial

Mount Rushmore

Vietnam Wall

Pearl Harbor

Gettysburg

Crosses on a highway

Lord’s Supper

Braniac question: What do they have in common?

Braniac answer:  They are all memorials.

Some more impactful than others but memorials nonetheless. All meaningful to someone.  “Lest we forget” is very appropriate for celebrating Monday’s meaning. While we all celebrate/celebrated the day differently, I do hope your celebration included thanking or honoring-in some way- the men and women who have served our country…and in many cases paid the ultimate price.

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY EVERYONE!

 

Before/After

Written by cycleguy on May 21st, 2015

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I can’t remember the name of the product but do you remember the commercial that took place in a junkyard where they did a before/after using a car wax?

We are inundated with before/after pictures of people who use weight loss products.

Our country before/after the Revolutionary War and Civil War is most definitely a study of contrasts. The contrast is striking.

This Sunday’s message is from Galatians 3: 23-29 and I’m focusing on the before/after picture of a person coming to Christ.  As you read these verses it is easy to see how Paul attributes trying to live according to the Law as being in prison and under a guardian. He uses some pretty strong words: “held captive” and “imprisoned” (hemmed in or cooped up). Talk about a vivid picture!

But he also spends even more time on the “After Christ” aspect. We are no longer under a tutor. The Law was never intended to be anything more than a temporary means of showing men their sin and leading them to the Savior. The incriminating tutor is gone and it has been replaced by a loving Teacher.

One of the greatest testimonies is someone who has a Before/After story. Some are more dramatic than others, for sure, but every Christ-follower has one. Tell your story.

Thanks for your prayers this weekend. See you late Sunday or sometime Monday.

 

Stone3

Written by cycleguy on May 20th, 2015

I decided to do another post of the book 46 Stones by Randall Arthur.

Have you ever just blindly believed something without investigating it? I realize there are some things I will never understand so I accept them on faith. My finite mind cannot understand the infinite. But that is not what I am speaking about.

I grew up in a Christian Church (not Disciples) but had two preachers from Moody (a Baptist school). The second, a Timothy of the church, followed the 35 year ministry of the first man. When he left, I fell apart. I was ripe for the new pastor to invite me to visit a college in which I was told I could play basketball. I was also taught opposite of what I had been taught. I bit hook, line, and sinker.

The problem with that is I did it without thinking. The environment. The professors. The fellow students. The real rub, and the point of Stone #3 is this: I was not taught how to think; I was taught what to think. I was like a robot and continued to be like a robot for several years after that. It took an eye-opening event (burnout) to show me what I had become and how messed up I was. I hate to admit it but I blindly believed what I had been taught instead of being a critical listener and studier. I followed the “party line” and danced the “party dance.” It was, quite frankly, a disaster waiting to happen.

I crashed. Hard.

Then I had to rethink a lot of things. Sadly, I held onto the vestiges of that legalism until about 1994 when I read Wisdom Hunter for the second time. THAT was when I threw off the shackles of legalism for the final time. I began to think on my own. I didn’t care what the party line was or said. “Open Your Word up to me Lord. Show me what You want to show me and need me to change.” He did. I did. I never want to go back to what I once was.

All because I began to think on my own. Don’t just accept things because “you have always believed that” or “because that is what my party line is.” Seek Him. Seek His desire for you. You will be glad you did.

Think.

This is Stone 3 of my random posts about this book:

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Stone2

Written by cycleguy on May 19th, 2015

AUTHORITARIAN.

That should strike fear in just about everyone. No one, and I mean NO ONE, likes someone with an authoritarian attitude. Unless a person is a glutton for punishment or a glutton for slavery, an authoritarian attitude ought to make one shiver.

Sadly, many pastors fit this bill. They think they are basically an authority on just about everything, including everyone’s life. Therein lies the rub. Since when can someone claim authority over someone’s life? Since when is it my right (as a pastor) to tell someone who/who not to marry? Since when is it my right to tell someone when they can vacation? How much money to give?

I know a pastor who once made it very clear it was wrong to drink-socially or otherwise. He even stated a person needs to question his/her salvation if they did.

Yeah…that didn’t win me any friends nor did it influence people (except negatively). The Bible does say drunkenness is wrong. It is not the best example. It could cause someone to stumble. But wrong? Eternal destination wrong? NO. But I thought so…believed so…said so. Worse was my authoritarian attitude when I said it.

I think a lot of pastors use this attitude so they can “keep control” of people. They remind me of petty little dictators (like Napolean) who tried to force people into their mold. It allowed them to control the whats and wherefores and whereabouts of people. I about barf each time I think of how I was.

Authoritarianism has no place in the church. Zilch. Nada. If you are involved in a situation, get out now (as if he will let you)!

Have you ever been or do you know someone who needs to hear this? Your thoughts?

I totally planned on having this posted earlier but life happened. :) This is part of my ongoing discussion of 46 Stones by Randall Arthur.

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Complicated

Written by cycleguy on May 17th, 2015

I attended a two-hour workshop Sunday afternoon on “Let’s Talk Suicide.” Given that my ministry seems to be involving more counseling on Sexual Abuse as a child and its after effects; Depression and its many-fingered alter egos (one of which is feeling like, attempting and/or fulfilling suicide), I thought it would be a good workshop to attend. I highly respect the two teens who were willing to tell their story, and respect the other panel members (2 professionals, one school liaison, and one Suicide group prevention leader). I hate to admit there was nothing game-breaking for me. No A-HA moment. No “Bright Idea” time.

But there are several things I know which were solidified:

Suicide is a complicated thing. Whether it is “telegraphed” or done as a spur of the moment thing, it is heart-wrenching either way. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it’s cause or a pattern to its fulfillment. It is no respecter of persons. While some talk about it; some act. While some give a warning; some give none. While some seem to have the “world by its tail; some are bullied and feel like a “Loser.”

Most people are not conditioned to help…least not professionally. I know I’m not. But there is one thing I CAN DO and so you: BE THERE FOR THEM! Young or old. Male or female. Rich or poor. Athlete or nerd. BE THERE! Listen! Care! Give them your time. And if I may be so bold: don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t promise you won’t say anything to an authority when someone speaks of suicide. I like what one of the panelists said: I would rather someone hate me because I said something, than for me to feel guilty because I didn’t and they carried out their threat.

That advice- BE THERE– isn’t just for this subject. It is for all concerns people have. I am finding I don’t have to have the answers. Often that is not what the person is looking for anyway. Very often they are simply wanting someone to listen.

What are your thoughts?

 

Promises

Written by cycleguy on May 14th, 2015

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Promises are wonderful things…if they are kept.

Promises which are not kept bring only tragedy and distrust.

A dad promises but doesn’t show up at his son’s/daughter’s ball game.

A mom promises her child cookies after school but not only doesn’t have cookies, she isn’t there.

A husband/wife promises undying love and affection and less than a year later wants out of the marriage. “I found someone else I love.”

“I promise you God I will not look at that stuff on the internet again! Promise!!” A week or less later the same prayer is being uttered.

The list is endless of promises which are made and broken.

The New Covenant is based on a promise.

The Old Covenant foreshadowed that promise in its rituals, feasts, and words. The New shows its fulfillment.

The Old included a curse. The New involved redemption from the curse.

Galatians 3:7-22 talks about the curse and the only way to be set free from that curse is by the blood of Jesus who “redeemed us from the curse of the law.” And lest we forget, we are reminded by a covenant. A covenant was a general term for a binding agreement. Paul uses Abraham as an example of God’s covenant-keeping ability.

I have the high honor of performing another kind of covenant this weekend…a wedding. Caleb and Amanda are planning a beautiful wedding at a unique venue. She has been planning for a year. :) And she is stressing some.

So…while you are praying for me this weekend, how about “throwing up” a quick prayer for Caleb & Amanda. I would appreciate your prayers for the weekend and I know they would as well.  :)

 

Homeless

Written by cycleguy on May 13th, 2015

Want to have an eye-opening experience? Study the homeless situation where you live.

Last November I started thinking about the homeless situation in our little town. Spencer is a town of about 3-3500 people. Owen County is about 23,000. We have two main bridges, neither of which is conducive to living under. They are bridges over rivers, not an overpass type of bridge. When I inquired about the homeless I was told we had none. One who had been “hiding out” under the one bridge was now in jail. The one someone saw on the steps of the post office didn’t exist. So I considered it pretty much a dead issue until a meeting a few months ago spurred the talk. So some of us have proceeded further in our discussion and, man, has it been eye-opening.

The information was basically right. Until you begin to include the students who “sofa surf;” those who live in substandard housing, cabins, tents, campers, storage units-many of them without running water and/or toilets. Sadly, many of them 1) like it that way and 2) want to be left alone. So the expected number of students who sofa surf is expected to be 150 by the end of the school year.

My point: homelessness is much more than living under a bridge. It could be the single mom/dad trying to raise two children with some dignity, living with a friend or relative, sleeping on a couch or floor. It could be the family whose house/trailer burned and they live there because it is all they have. It could be that panhandler begging you for a little something.

Whenever I think I want to quit thinking about people like this, I am stopped dead in my tracks by Jesus’ words: “When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat…naked…thirsty…in jail…” Which part of “I don’t care” is easy to stomach?

Have you ever checked out the homeless situation in your community? I’d like to hear results. I’d also like to hear if any of you are involved in a ministry to “street people” or the homeless.

 

Pretending

Written by cycleguy on May 12th, 2015

When I was a kid I used to pretend. I pretended I was the Lone Ranger. I pretended I was Mike Nelson from Sea Hunt. (Yeah, I know I’m showing my age). I pretended I was the hero of the baseball team: pitched no-hitters and hit home runs. As I got older the games continued. Star basketball player. Famous preacher. MacGyver in real life. For full disclosure: none…NONE…of those ever happened.

I also pretended to know it all. I’m not proud of that but in an effort to foster honesty, I had to put it out there. Stone #1 in the book 46 Stones deals with pretending to see completely and clearly. One of the “brands” of a legalist is the pretense of knowing everything, especially doctrinally. You know the old ditty: “Us four, no more, shut the door.” I was right and all others were wrong. It was ugly. Scary. Sad. Damning. It certainly is nothing to be proud of.

God has changed that about me. Grace has changed that. It is okay to have convictions, but even those can be handled with grace and love. The key for all of this is this:

God is not as small as my understanding of things. Nor of a church. Nor of a denomination. (pp.17-18)

My height of arrogance knew no bounds. I “peacocked” my beliefs. I boldly proclaimed my narrow, opinionated, legalistic views. I have often wished I could go back and apologize to the people from those churches which I hurt because of my arrogance. But I can’t turn back the hands of time. I can only influence the future. Any thoughts?

A few weeks ago I wrote this post. This is the first in a series of random installments about this book.

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