Wonder

Written by cycleguy on June 23rd, 2016

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“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

I think we would all probably agree with that. To some beauty is a statuesque blonde or a man with chiseled abs. To some beauty is found in a morning sunrise or an evening sunset. To some beauty is found in a work of art or a classic car restored to its original condition. To some beauty is a black Trek Emonda ALR5 (not saying who that may be).

Albert Einstein once said, “The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. He who knows it not, can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle.”

If what Einstein wrote is true there are many snuffed-out candles. I think for the most part people have lost their sense of wonder. Things have often become so humdrum the routine and ordinary takes precedence. Sad.

Psalm 139 is one of the chapters in the Bible where the wonder and majesty of what the psalmist is describing is word-defying. My desire for this week’s message is to show the wonder of God and also the wonder of His creation-human and earth.

I, for one, don’t want to lose my sense of wonder. Hope you don’t either.

 

Dying

Written by cycleguy on June 22nd, 2016

We don’t much like to talk about dying. I know whenever I used to bring up the subject a certain person to whom I have been married to for 43 years didn’t want to talk or think about it. Unfortunately, sometimes reality bites.

I have lived 63 years now and been in the ministry over 40 of them and can honestly say I have seen my share of death and dying. Countless funerals (I wish I had kept a record). A mother. A grandfather & grandmother. A mother and father-in-law. A sister-in-law. Friends. Colleagues. Followers of Christ. Non-followers of Him. I have done “whole” families (mother, father, uncle and aunt, brother and sister).

I’d like to think I know about dying. But then again…I haven’t died so I can really say that. I’ve seen what cancer can do; what lingering illnesses can do; what sudden heart attacks can do; etc. But I can’t say I really know about dying.

Several months ago I read a blog which mentioned a book, When Breath Become Air, by Paul Kalanithi. It sounded interesting so I bought it. I finished reading it today (Wednesday). At the age of 36, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul was diagnosed with terminal cancer. This book is his story. It is not all about cancer. He tells about his life, his questions, his focus on neurosurgery all to give us his perspective on his cancer. I’d like to write that Paul beat his cancer…but I can’t. In March of 2015 he took his last breath. This book is his story (with a last chapter help from his wife, Lucy). It was published posthumously-a dying wish he wanted to hear as a promise.

It was not a “religious” book where he spouted off Bible verse after Bible verse. It wasn’t a name-it-claim-it book where he spoke positive confession and was healed. It is honest (with a few graphic words by others). It is filled with stories of people he “ran into” in his practice. He did talk about being raised as a Christian, then sojourned to ironclad atheism, and then found his way back to the faith of his childhood. Actually, his discussion of faith and science on pages 167-173 is almost worth the price of the book alone. I found myself sneaking small amounts of time to read with a bigger chunk last night and then again this morning. His story “haunted” me. I had tears in my eyes when his wife told of his death and his fight to live.

My suggestion: get the book. Read it for yourself, then let me know your thoughts.

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Shortcuts

Written by cycleguy on June 19th, 2016

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Life is filled with opportunities to take shortcuts. They always offer the hope of a better way or easier way, but in the end simply wind up often destroying those who take the shortcut. Sad reality? Hindsight being 20/20 tells us we should have stuck to the marked trail instead of taking the unmarked one. As if often the case, the unmarked, unfamiliar trail is the one which often leads to destruction.

Solomon put it well: “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” Pr.16:29 (NLT)

During my study for this week’s message I ran across this story of the Donner Party. The shortcut ended up being a long cut.

Today is Father’s Day. While taking shortcuts takes in all of us, it most often is seen in men. A “get-rich scheme” here a tryst there. “I won’t get caught.”

Life offers us three trails: The Broad Trail. The Narrow Trail. And the Shortcut (which eventually dumps us into the Broad Trail.  There is no shame in taking the narrow trail, of having nothing to hide. The shame is in the doing and then hiding.

May we all take the Narrow Trail which leads to life, even if it the long way around.

 

43

Written by cycleguy on June 16th, 2016

I’m going to be absent today from this blog and any other blog.

Today I celebrate #43 with my bride. I plan to ride early this morning. We will be making our way to the church camp to visit some faculty and campers. Lunch, I suspect, will either be Chipotle or HuHot Mongolian Grill. We like them both.

They said we were too young. (She was 21 and I was 20).

They said we should finish school first. (We only had one year left so we finished together).

Some doubted it would last.

I was athletic; you were not. I was tall; you were/are not. I was/am a morning person; you were/are not.  🙂

Two adult daughters. One son-in-law and one grandson. 8 churches. More vehicles than I care to admit. Several pounds. Less hair.

We are still in love. Still together. Still serving. It has been easy. It has been hard. There has been job losses. There have been joyful ministries (like now).

We will continue to serve Jesus.

So…why am I writing this? Well…it is way too early for Jo to be up.  But I must bid adieu so I can head out for my early morning ride. It is 6:15. {My note: 26.2 Yeah…I’m bragging} 🙂  Have a great day!

 

HOT

Written by cycleguy on June 13th, 2016

After having a warm April and very wet and cool (some might downright chilly) May, June has finally brought the summer HEAT to our area. When I say summer HEAT I am not exaggerating. The weekend was typical August weather…except it is June. 🙂 But I am not one to complain about the weather. I decided long time ago it was not in my best interest to complain about the weather SINCE I HAVE NO CONTROL OR SAY IN IT!

I rode 24.5 this past Saturday in the heat. Some might say I am nuts. I beg to differ, of course. 🙂 🙂

I wanted to draw the line though yesterday. The past couple of weeks our main auditorium’s air conditioning has been somewhat squirrely. I came in yesterday to turn it down and the stat said 74. Early morning that is ok. When I went in about an hour or so later to practice my sermon the stat said 76. Aaaaahhhhh not good. You probably know by now…it was not working.  Our windows don’t open. Fans can only do so much when it is 88 outside.

I texted our HVAC man. He attends here. During our exchange he was talking about another church which has all 4 of their units down. Yikes! Anyway, during our exchange he told me I could possibly turn the stats down in the other part of the building and maybe that would help. I told him the nursery already gets like an iceberg. We would have kids coming out as popsicles. And here is where Mark’s “sense of humor” kicks in. He tells me how I “could talk about the nursery being comfortable as a new born-less sinner. As we get older and sin without God we are going down explaining the heat. LOL” Laughingly I told him “that would go over big!”

We had another who was putting up hay. Yeah…you know what’s coming. “You gotta make hay while the sun is shining.” 🙂

So…how’s that for a random…nonsensical post? Hey, it’s Monday. I’ve moved three rooms in the house. Shampooed two of them (the shampooer quit on the third). I’ve driven to church camp three times in a week. I have a grill to put together. I gotta have some fun somehow. Oh yeah…I do plan to ride today.

 

Well-Marked Path

Written by cycleguy on June 9th, 2016

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A recent news article (circa April 27) told the story of a mother/daughter tandem who were hiking and got lost in the New Zealand wilderness. Hiker Rachel Lloyd said she was on the verge of dying when rescue crews found her and her mother five days after they got lost. It started out to be a day hike and almost turned into a tragedy when Rachel got hurt and could no longer walk. Her mother used branches to spell out “HELP” in two clearings of the forest. Fortunately, it ended up much better than it could have.

They somehow got off the trail and failed to follow the well-marked path.

Life is like that as well. It is especially true for the Christ-follower. The path is marked out for us but it is often easy to get “off the beaten path.”

My sermon Sunday is from Psalm 37:1-11…my favorite section of Scripture. One of the identifying marks of many of us is our inability to wait on God. To be more concise: we are impatient. We want the answer NOW! When I get to that place, I try to remind myself what I tell others: God is seldom early, but He’s never late.

I’d appreciate your prayers for me/for us this weekend. Some tough but necessary lessons to learn. Thanks.

 

 

Reviews

Written by cycleguy on June 7th, 2016

Occasionally I will post a book review. After two fairly “heavy” posts, I decided a diversion was necessary. So I’m going to post three reviews at a time. One I read over a period of several weeks. One I read while on vacation. And one I read awhile ago but needed to wait for the right time.

First up: the one I read over a period of several weeks. The Comeback by Louie Giglio

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Most Christ-followers in today’s generation know who Louis Giglio is. Passion Conference. Chris Tomlin. Matt Redman. Passion City Church in Atlanta. Best known for years as the founder/leader of Passion Conferences and the music which followed, Louie is also a pastor and author. The Comeback is his latest. It is filled with stories of people who had second chances in life. I found it helpful and encouraging to read. Not a lot of depth in biblical teaching but there was enough to find my book marked up pretty well. If you are looking for a book with excellent stories and some good (but sometimes trite) teaching, you won’t go wrong taking some time reading this. There is a corresponding Study Guide/DVD series which goes along with it for use with a small group.

One I read while on vacation: The Trail by Ed Underwood

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I loved this book! It is not your typical sit-right-down-and-underline-while-taking-notes type of book. Ed writes it as a parable of a possible real life adventure. Wanting to know God’s will seems to be at the top of many Christ-follower’s lives. Ed writes this as an engaging story while teaching eight principles for illuminating the path ahead. It is not mere pablum or trite “Christianese.” Even though I am currently not seeking God’s will about any kind of professional change, the principles apply to all areas of life. Ed has written several other books which I highly recommend and this one is no exception.

The one I read awhile ago: Note the Quote by Floyd Samons

If I have a blogger to name whom I have come to know and love over the years it would be Floyd. We have personally corresponded with each other through the years. I have found him to be the genuine article. He blogs here. His writing is always fun and engaging. Sometimes surprising. Always with a point. This short book contains various quotes from his blogs over the years. Quotes on Wisdom, Inspiration, Reflection, and some Lighter ones are included. As I read it I checked those which I particularly liked. I plan to review it from time to time. It is a self-published book of 47 pages and you can get it from him directly. Go to his blog and follow directions. 🙂

That’s enough for now. I’ll return with more books at various time. So…what are you reading that you think I ought to latch on to?

 

Rehearse

Written by cycleguy on June 6th, 2016

I’d like to continue with my last post about Sunday’s message.

WE ARE TO REMEMBER WHO GOD IS.

There is a second reflection we need to make:

WE NEED TO REHEARSE WHAT GOD IS DOING

The book of Psalms reminds us God never sleeps. He never slumbers. He never grows weary. He doesn’t fall asleep on the job. He is always at work. Always alert. Always awake. He works the minutest details, but, of course, doesn’t always share them with us. (Bummer!) 🙂  I love what David does in this section of Psalm 16:

Verse 5a: God is our Completeness. “My chosen portion and my cup.” This simply says God is the One who makes us complete.

Verse 5b: God is our Certainty. “You hold my lot.” God takes care of my circumstances. David lived life as a nomad for many years…losing everything. Yet he was able to praise God in the storm.

Verse 6: God is our Contentment. We have much to be thankful for but sadly, we are one of the most ungrateful generations on the planet. We want for nothing and everything.

Verse 8: God is our Confidence. With God in our sights and on our radar, our perspective changes.

In spite of the there being those who would like to say God is not involved in our lives, I prefer to think He is highly involved in my comings and goings. So…when things get a little dicey for you…keep in mind what God is doing in the here and now.

 

Remember

Written by cycleguy on June 5th, 2016

If you read my last post, you know I am beginning a new series on Psalms. I used Psalm 16 this past Sunday and focused on two ideas:

  1. Take Time for a Backward Look
  2. Take Time for a Forward Look

It is the latter I’d like to share with you in a series of posts this week. Psalm 16 brings out three ideas about reflecting on God’s goodness:

WE ARE TO REMEMBER WHO GOD IS

In verses 1-2 David gets us to focus on God. The reason that is so important is when we focus on God our whole perspective changes.  It is easy to see God as someone who is far away, Someone totally uninvolved in our world. My Deist friends will say God created the world and then left it, someone who is unconcerned with our circumstances.

Of course, I would disagree. I see proof on an almost daily basis of His concern for me.

The best part though is what David does in this Psalm. An interesting phenomena occurs when he uses three different Hebrew words for God: Elohim, Jehovah, and Adonai. Using the ESV translation, David writes:

“Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.”  The word used is Elohim. El is the most frequently used name for God and is translated “mighty power.”

“I say to the LORD.” The word used is Jehovah, which speaks of His personal interest.

“You are my Lord…” The word used is Adonai, which speaks of His presence. He is the Master.

David can’t help but be overwhelmed by the truth of who God is!

And I gotta wonder…why am I not that overwhelmed? These two verses tell me I am surrounded by a God of love, protection, wisdom, and strength.

I’d like to ask you to carry this truth with you this week. Any thoughts?

 

Life is an Adventure

Written by cycleguy on June 2nd, 2016

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If you have watched the movie CARS you will have heard the song “Life is a highway/I wanna ride it all night long.” Truth is…life is not a highway. For most of us it is a jungle. (Does “Welcome to the Jungle” come to mind)? There are twists and turns. Roots to trip over. Clear weather and bad. All sorts of things to trip us up as we walk that trail.

When I was younger (much younger) I used to love to read books on Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, and the early settlers. Although exciting, it was in some ways glamorized. Living in those early times would have been a real challenge. The scene from Last of the Mohicans where Hawkeye and his friends returned to a  burned down cabin and death was all too common.

But someone had to blaze the trail.

I am preaching, as you can see, on Life is an Adventure! this Sunday and through the summer as I plan to spend the whole summer in Psalms. Ps.25:4-5a says, “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me.”

I’m challenging the folks at OVCF to read through the book of Psalms this summer. We are also making available a book of 90 devotions to supplement their reading. Here it is:

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Maybe you would like to join me? A daily devotion. A commitment to read. A podcast of the sermon will be available right after the second worship on our website (if you are interested in listening).