#Alaska#Cruise#WOW!!

Written by cycleguy on September 17th, 2019

We have been back from our cruise since midnight last Tuesday and I have simply not had much time to post much of anything. I posted some pictures of our trip to Alaska at my other blog here.

I thought I would give you a small taste of some of my other pictures I took with my phone in this post. Jo took some with hers and we also took some on our camera. I need to figure out how to get them from there to here. (Yeah I am technologically challenged so please give me a break) 🙂

Here is one of Jo as we were cruising Glacier Bay:

Here was one I took from the workout center. I was riding the bike when I saw this one and thought I better get that one.

The are two more from Glacier Bay:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One more from Glacier Bay and one from the cruise from Ketchikan to Vancouver (taken from our room window):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are more where that came from. I’ll add those into another post. All I can say is “The heavens declare the glory of God and the earth shows His handiwork.”  Don’t you agree?

 

#LoveLost#FirstLove

Written by cycleguy on September 14th, 2019

My sincere apologies for not getting this posted sooner. As many of you know we spent September 2-10 on our trip to Alaska. We arrived home after midnight on the 10th and I played catch-up the rest of the week. But tomorrow is Sunday and I have to be ready to go! I am…in principle. Now all I have to do is get my head and heart in the game. 🙂

I start a new series this week which I am calling Postcards. It will be a seven week series on the 7 churches of Revelation and the letters, i.e. postcards Jesus sent to each of them. Ryan did a great job of introducing God’s idea of the church last week as a lead-in to this series. I’m glad I have someone like him who is so dependable and able to present God’s Word. He’s a good one. 🙂

This week I have titled the sermon “To the Loveless Church.” The city of Ephesus had so much going for it as being one of the greatest cities to live in at that time. Economically. Culturally. Historically. Religiously (even though it was pagan).

The church at Ephesus had a lot going for it also. As you read Revelation 2:1-7 you can’t help but be struck by the commendation heaped upon them: their work, toil and patient endurance; they didn’t tolerate evil men; they hated the works of the Nicolaitans; and their motivation was spot on.

B…..U……T…..

The condemnation far outweighed the commendation. It is very clear. They left their first love. While they had all the outward show of being alive, they were dead inside. Their love for Jesus had grown cold. Their motivation should have been what Paul wrote: “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one died for all, therefore all have died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14). It wasn’t, and therefore they were told in no uncertain terms “to repent or else.” Unfortunately, the “or else” happened and there is no longer a church in Ephesus.

Fighting this battle for “first place” is an ongoing one.  I hope to challenge all of us to renew our first love for Jesus.  I plan to play this song to help emphasize my point.

 

#GoneGoneGone

Written by cycleguy on September 3rd, 2019

As you read this Jo & I should be sleeping away in a lodge in Seattle or onboard a cruise ship. We flew in late Monday night and will board the cruise ship for Alaska today. Because I will be on a much-needed vacation with my bride of 46 years, I am not taking my computer and despise blogging or doing any long correspondence on my phone, so I will not be coming around “these here parts” from Tuesday, September 3 through Wednesday, September 11. We get back really late Tuesday night so it is “iffy” whether I post anything on Wednesday.

Each day at Living in the Shadow (my other blog) I have scheduled what I am calling Vacation Scriptures to be thought about each day. I’d like to invite you to visit that site (just in case you missed me sooooo much you just had to hear what I had to say). Aaaaah yeah. 🙂

Jo and I would appreciate your prayers for a safe trip but more than that a restful and re-energizing trip.

 

#PerfectTiming#NoDoubt

Written by cycleguy on August 30th, 2019

This week is the final sermon for the series I called Icebergs.  It was the story of Joseph as he navigated the minefield of complex relationships and events which could have caused him to throw up his hands and quit. As a review:

  • Dysfunctional family
  • Jealous brothers
  • Betrayed by his brothers & sold into slavery
  • Falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife
  • Thrown in prison
  • Interprets dreams then forgotten
  • Interprets Pharaoh’s dreams and promoted
  • Sees his brothers make their way to him seeking grain
  • Bargaining with them until he sees their changed hearts
  • Reveals himself to his brothers and asks about his father.

Now comes the reunion and ultimate death of Jacob. Following Jacob’s death his brothers are filled with fear as to what will happen. The exchange is interesting. They use Jacob as a buffer in the sense of saying, “Your father gave this command before he died. Say to Joseph, ‘Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.’ ”  To that Joseph answers with the answer of all answers:

Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 50:19-20

In my mind those same words are spoken years later when Mordecai tells Esther “for such as this.”  God’s plan brought Jacob and his sons and the Israelite people to Egypt. It was His plan. That is good enough for me.

I’m also going to talk about forgiveness this week and close with this statement: Joseph was led by grace. If you have not forgiven someone, it is time. If you have received someone’s forgiveness, it is time. If you have been the recipient of God’s forgiveness, now is the time to truly believe it.

Your prayers for this weekend would be greatly appreciated.

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Jo & I leave Monday for our long-awaited trip to Alaska. I’m not taking my computer and will have limited access via my phone.  Please pray for our safety, but most of all, for our rest. Ryan is preaching next week for me as we start a new series I’m calling “Postcards.” He will be preaching about the church as a beginning to the Letters to the 7 churches in Revelation. I’m sure he would love to know you are praying for him.

 

#Insignificant#Fulfilled#MediaPerception

Written by cycleguy on August 25th, 2019

It will seem strange to many of you who know me that I would actually write about social media. I have made no secret of the fact that I do not do Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the other “stuff” that is out there.  Years ago when Jo started up on FB to keep up with our daughters, I said something about maybe I ought to. She said, “No, you have your blog. I’ll do FB.” She was right about that. I do have this blog. Actually, now I have two. The other is called LivingintheShadow and it is a daily devotion I write.  And yes, you can subscribe!  Hint! Hint! 🙂  But as I’ve looked back and then observed all the junk going around, Jo was more prophetic than she dreamed.  While there were times I wished I was on FB and other social media, I now realize I’m not missing a thing. Not only do I spend enough time on my two blogs, I simply cannot imagine how much time I would be throwing away aimlessly gazing at a scrolling screen. I hear enough snarky, snide remarks made by other media and people that I can graciously plead innocence to when asked if I passed something along or if I saw this post or that comment. Please understand I am not against FB but the abuse of it (and certainly some of the restrictions they are imposing, especially on followers of Christ).

I’ve also noticed how much emphasis and self-worth is placed on the number of readers, tweeters, instagrammers (I know that is not a word), and other media counting efforts to know how many people put their significance on that number. UGH!  There are some who hit the despondency button if their post or tweet is not passed on or commented on by a certain number of people. And please don’t get me started on the amount of bullying and vicious remarks that are made which devastate people because of the faceless presence one can assume.

I get my fill of hearing or reading about celebrities with big mouths (please go ahead and do us all a favor and leave the country if you don’t like living here); who do outlandish things; brag about their exploits; etc. But we idolize them as though they have “the life.” The last I looked the life of the Christ-follower is much more significant than some celluloid hero who acts the part of a superhero but lives the life of a lost soul. I’m thinking the animated film Balto actually is a more accurate story of life on the screen than any Marvel Universe project ever is.

And while I am on this whole social media rant, what is this thing that children and adults are glued to their screens, even at a meal? Dudes (and dudettes) put the screens away. Look someone in the eye and talk to them. I have to admit that my job as a pastor keeps me near my phone but I silence it during a meal. If it rings and is not important it can either go to voice mail or I can text later. Only three people do I respond to: Jo, Tami and Janna. Braden is in school so I don’t have to worry, but if his or Jason’s name shows up I will answer it.

Maybe it is time we practice what Jim Elliott, the martyred missionary once said: “Wherever you are, be all there.” I wonder what he would say today to gadgets he would not even had dreamed about!

I’d like to hear what your thoughts are.

 

#Test#HardestTask#MajorRoadblock

Written by cycleguy on August 23rd, 2019

In your mind, what is the hardest thing you have done or need to do?  I’m not going to beat around the bush on that question. I think one of the hardest things anyone has to do is to learn to forgive.

I have heard this quote or some variation of it for years:

To err is human, to forgive, divine-to forgive and forget supernatural.

Some of you may be old enough to remember the movie called Love Story, which starred a very young Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw.  It was a blockbuster hit for those days (1970) and was actually the first date Jo and I had (it didn’t end well). It contained one of the dumbest statements that I think has ever been made: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Now…that statement assumes that a real relationship will never require saying, “I’m sorry.” Forgiveness should just happen. There should be no special initiative on the part of either party.

But I beg to differ.  I hope we are all smart enough to realize any relationship takes time. Marriage. Friendship. Pastor/sheep. And I would be remiss if I left out the part forgiveness plays in any relationship. Forgiveness is never easy, especially when a great wrong has been done to you.  Makes you wonder about Joseph doesn’t it?

I believe this may have been his hardest task. This week’s sermon covers that time of his life when his brothers come seeking grain because of the famine. He recognizes them immediately but they don’t recognize him. There is quite an exchange which takes place until his “great revelation.” It will be a challenging sermon for all of us. I’d appreciate your prayers as I prepare.  Thanks.

 

#Done#Finished/UnfinishedBusiness

Written by cycleguy on August 21st, 2019

The 2019 BikeMS is history. After a long wait and months of training and fund-raising, the ride was this past Saturday. Dave, my friend from 3 Feet Please, made the trip from Arizona with his son and daughter. Chris drove with him; Nina flew in Thursday. We met up at the hotel Thursday night. It was mine and Jo’s first time meeting Chris and Nina. They were a delight! Chris’ first words were to Jo when he said, “I heard you like Mexican!” Guess where we ate supper Thursday night?  🙂  If you guessed El Toro in Indianapolis give yourself a virtual high five!!

Friday we drove to the site of the ride, checked out some things, registered, then Dave and his two took off to visit relatives in Fort Wayne. Jo & I drove the route so I could check it out then spent the rest of the day just chilling.

Saturday started out beautifully. We made it to Lebanon and Dave set up the 3 Feet Please tent and merchandise. He was giving away bears and t-shirts and had a drawing for 3 winners. We finally took off for our ride and 9 miles out the young lady who was riding with us (and was ill-prepared) had a flat. That took close to 1/2 hour to finally get on our way. She went flat again about a mile down the road and we finally made it to the first stop where they replaced the tube. She didn’t flat again but we were way behind. By the time we got to the lunch stop we had ridden about 2 miles in a steady rain. While there it came down in buckets and we were told we would be unable to leave until 3:00. It was 1:45 at that point.  Dave and I made a decision to call it a day. The young lady could not have made it back and staying with her (we would never leave her) would have gotten us back to the home place about 5:00. So after 38+ miles we called our rides (Jo & his son) to come get the three of us.  Although I was disappointed in not doing all 65 miles (which I think might have ended up closer to 76), I was content.

I’m thankful for:

  • Many of you who donated to a great cause. MS can strike anyone at any time. I rode for Kirby and Marge and everyone else who suffers from this disease. I was able to raise $1100.
  • A safe ride. Roads are not closed off just because there are a plethora of riders.  Dave’s friend, Lynn, was killed on an MS ride by a 93 year old man who thought he could pass a ton of riders at one time and when he found out he couldn’t swung back in taking out Dave and Nina on their tandem and hit Lynn so hard she flew over them.
  • Dave, Chris and Nina for making our weekend extra special. Dave paid for our two nights in the hotel which allowed us the opportunity to relax and not do a lot of driving. It allowed me to study some on Friday so I wouldn’t be so tired and ill-prepared for Sunday. The three also made their way to OVCF to worship with us Sunday and go to lunch before he took Chris and Nina to the airport.
  • Dave came to Spencer yesterday (Tuesday) to ride with me. We were able to get in 20 before the skies told us we better cut this short and get to the church building (where we left from). That might have been one of the smartest decisions I have made lately. The skies opened up shortly after we got there. We would have been soaked to the bones. It was fun riding with a friend whom I’ve come to love like a brother. (Now we just gotta get to Arizona. Sounds like a great January/February trip).

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the three of us in our 3 Feet Please cycling kit. But I did get two pictures of our help.  On the left is Jo, Chris and Nina. On the right is Chris and Nina. (In the back is my bike).  Marge also helped but was not in the picture (by choice, hence the empty chair).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all it was a great day and a great experience. An absolutely fun weekend spent with friends and some down time with Jo. Lord willing, I hope to ride again next year. So start saving your pennies! I am!!!  🙂 🙂 🙂

 

#Prison#PrisonLife#NoLongerSlaves

Written by cycleguy on August 16th, 2019

Talk of prison and people’s thoughts will immediately go to Alcatraz, some military prison, or some form of incarceration. When Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of trying to rape her and he put Joseph in prison, it wasn’t a 5-star hotel. The Scripture specifically tells us he put Joseph where Pharaoh’s enemies were put. True to his nature and God’s blessing on his life, Joseph excelled. He overcame his prison life.

In truth, most people will never see the inside of a prison cell. They just live in a prison. Due to circumstances, expectations of others, guilt, pessimism or some other “bothersome” issue, they live in a prison of their own making, one without physical bars.

I’m going to focus on that kind of prison this week during my sermon. As followers of Christ we are no longer slaves to fear or to the enemy or his efforts to keep us down. I’ll be working on very short rest and am anticipating with a very tired body. I’d appreciate your prayers.

Here is a song for your enjoyment: https://youtu.be/2QigyB50yGw

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After waiting for almost 8 months the BikeMS ride is this weekend in Lebanon, IN. Dave (from 3 Feet Please) is coming from Arizona to ride with me and his two adult children are coming to volunteer.  Jo and I left Thursday for Indy to spend the night in the hotel in Indy and to meet up with them. Jo plans to also help with the volunteer table for 3FP. Dave and I plan to do the 65 mile portion of the ride.  This is a fundraiser for MS and thanks to many of you and your generosity, I have been able to raise $1100 this year. Thank you so much!!  I do appreciate it more than you know but will appreciate your prayers even more. 65 miles will be double what I have been able to do (due to time constraints) at one time this year. Safety and health or my primary concerns. Thanks.  Here are pictures of the partners in crime.

 

#Consumers#WeAreGoingElsewhere#Discouraging

Written by cycleguy on August 14th, 2019

I think every pastor on the planet has at one time or another experienced someone coming to them and saying, “We are leaving and going to another church. Church XYZ has a program that is better suited for our kids. They have more things to do.” I have been on the other end of that stick and it doesn’t feel very good. It hurts even more when the decision has already been made and their mind is made up even before talking with me about it.

That is not happening right now. It has and I’m sure it will again. When someone leaves because of doctrinal reasons (they like Bill Johnson and Bethel Redding, for example, and my preaching is nowhere close to his heresy) I’m okay with that. It recently happened and I now see God sparing us from a very divisive issue. When someone leaves because they are moving over 45 minutes away (as someone very close to me did two years ago), it hurts, but I understand. I just won’t talk to him anymore (except when we get together to go out to eat). 🙂  I can get behind both of those reasons.

If a family leaves because I don’t see things as narrow as they do and leave accusing me of being liberal and compromising on issues like homosexuality, pornography, sexual conduct, abortion, and other issues, I can see there is something else underlying it. It is also so not true.

But for someone to simply pack up and leave because another church offers something we don’t, that hurts.  I don’t use the “su**s” word but I sure want to.  I’m confused. Flabbergasted. It’s like all the time and effort put into their family, their marriage, their lives means absolutely nothing.

Church-going is seen more like a shopping event than a worship event. We have become a nation of consumers, content on shopping around for the best bargain, the one (ready for it?) “that meets my needs the best.” That is certainly the one thing the seeker movement has taught us: have your felt needs met-go to the church that best meets your needs.  I’ll be honest: I despise shopping at the mall. I know everything is there under one roof. 100 different clothing stores. 30 different shoe stores. All the mobile phone kiosks. Toy stores. Lingerie stores.  Jewelry stores. (I mean, let’s face it. How many different pieces of jewelry can there be and how can one diamond store be more “real” than another?) Even a food court for your choice of food.  What the mall offers is all these stores under one roof, offering tons of the same items, still over-priced.

When it comes to the church, people lose sight of the “why” of going. They miss the “I am being fed by a man of God who uses the Word of God uncompromisingly.” Too often we determine our like or dislike by the music; the lights/camera/action; the activities going on; the entertainment value; and so on. Christ, and glorifying Him, is not king; the consumer/customer is. What does he/she need?

Granted, “feel good” positive thinking messages (I can’t call them sermons) should have us looking elsewhere. Entertainment-driven “worship events” should tire us. An endless calendar which gives us no time for family should be a yellow flag. But to leave just to leave, to feel better, to play sports or whatever, is just wrong.  Ironically, the desire for more selections and variety is what has helped create the megachurch.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

 

#Temptation#RequirementstoDefeat

Written by cycleguy on August 12th, 2019

Sunday I preached on Joseph’s battle against the temptation Potiphar’s wife presented. Two phrases I used several times were these:

With greater success comes greater measure of trust.  We can read how Potiphar trusted Joseph.

With greater measure of success comes a greater measure of vulnerability.  We can also see how his success made him vulnerable to attacks. The enemy came at him with laser-like accuracy.

What  would Joseph do? Well, with the benefit of hindsight we know Joseph said no, fled, but then was falsely accused by a woman who was scorned.

How can we do the same? Temptation is common to all of us. How can we defeat it? I hesitate giving an easy “Four Step Plan” because most of those don’t work, but Chuck Swindoll gave some great advice in his book on Joseph. As promised here, I’d like to give you his words.  The main thoughts are his; the commentary is mine.

1. Don’t be weakened by the situation. The Scripture says, “Day after day” Potiphar’s wife went after Joseph. Not one and done. Day after day. Fatigue often sets in during the battle. Don’t be weakened.

2. Don’t be deceived by the persuasion. I have heard my share of excuses, as I’m sure you have, when people fall. “No one will know.” “My husband or wife doesn’t meet my needs.” “I’m lonely.” “Just this once. Never again.”  Be careful of justification.

3. Don’t be gentle with your emotions.  Many soft-hearted people are drawn in by their compassion. I think that is one reason for not having mixed sex “gripe” sessions. Too often what started as innocent becomes the downfall for many. “But I don’t want to hurt their feelings.”  You are not being rude or insensitive by saying no.

4. Don’t be confused by the immediate results. Joseph was falsely accused and ended up in prison. We often cannot see the forest for the trees. Immediate results can be deceptive.

There you have it. Four simple ideas about defeating temptation. They aren’t steps to take; they are advice to heed.

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