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Silence

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

I have been reading a new book by Phil Cooke and Jonathan Bock called The Way Back: How Christians Blew our Credibility and HOW WE GET IT BACK. There has been a lot of underlining and highlighting as I’ve read because of how true so much of what they write has been. It has been informative. Convicting. Educational. Challenging.

They quote English crime writer Dorothy Sayers from the 1940s. She warned of a fast-approaching church that would be too comfortable and tolerant to make any waves:

In the world it calls itself tolerance; but in hell it is called despair…It is the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive only because there is nothing it would die for. (p.101)

Long story short; there comes a point in time when we have to make a stand. The church (as a whole) and many Christ-followers have bought into the “tolerance agenda” of the vocal minority. But one thing is true: the truth doesn’t change. Whether we agree with it or not; whether we can stomach it or not; whether we try to debate it away or not; that fact still remains. The Truth is the truth.

I was quite intrigued by this quote: “I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward…how much to you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? “  Now…here’s the kicker. That quote is by magician and entertainer (and atheist) Penn Jillette

Maybe…just maybe…our silence is deafening.  Maybe we ought to stop bowing down to the “tolerance police” and start standing for Truth. Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

 

Choices

Monday, January 15th, 2018

Life is full of choices. Some are easy. Some are hard.  Take for example these pictures:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which one would you choose? The one on the left is from our (mine & Jo’s) vacation in October to Daytona Beach; the one on the right is from January 15, 11:00 a.m. looking out the back door of the church building. My truck has been sitting there for close to 5 hours. I have already shoveled once.

Or maybe you prefer the one on the left as to the one on the right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Same vacation. Same time and place for both.

That is not a tough choice is it? Unless, of course, you love snow and are one of those adrenaline junkies who likes snowboarding, skiing, or the more sedate making of snow angels. I do like the warmer weather because I can do the one hobby I enjoy doing. But I also choose to live in Indiana where the weather does funny things.  Only in Indiana could it be snowing like it has since about 8:00 last night and then by Friday be sunny and 37.  (Least that is what they predict).

Life is a bunch of choices. Again…some are easy; some are not. Choosing to follow Jesus seems the most logical, but there are many who don’t. Choosing to have the promise of heaven and eternal life seems like a fantastic deal, but some don’t think so. I choose life. I choose love. I choose eternity with the Father.  How about you?

I also choose not to be miserable when faced with this kind of weather.  I can’t change it so might as well live with it. Correct?  And for your information: this picture is for Floyd. He made a comment last week about it being 77 where he lives. Talk about rubbing it in!!!  See what you are missing, Floyd, by living in Arizona and not Indiana?  🙂 🙂 🙂

Run

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

In my message Sunday I talked about God bringing dead men back to life (spiritually). One of the essentials of that is allowing God to “breathe” into us. Ezekiel 36 talks about how God wants to take away our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh. Then in chapter 37 we find the amazing story of dead men’s bones coming to life.

It is not easy to stay strong. It is not easy staying committed. It is not easy making time for the Father. That is one of the reasons why I am doing my other blog Be Transformed. Being transformed takes place on a daily basis. It is not a once-in-a-lifetime hyper-jacked event. It is not an emotional experience. To be candid I see it as a “daily plodding.” Not that I see having a relationship with Jesus as a daily plod, but that I see a relationship as a daily “work in progress.” “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” the Bible says. That is not a works-based salvation; it is an awareness of the need for awe and respect and reverence for God.

Since I have my other blog to write some serious thoughts, I want to be a little creative with Cycleguy’s Spin. I’m thinking of calling Monday’s entries “Music Monday” where I share a song that “speaks” to me. Given my state of mind right now spiritually; my focus in my sermons and blog; I’d like to ask you to listen to this song.  The lesson is “pointed.”

I’d like to hear your thoughts.

NEW!

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

January 1, 2018. As Doc Brown says, “Amazing! Simply amazing!” I’ve been writing this blog since 2/20/08. That is a lot of blogs (2654 to this point) and a lot of years. Some things have never changed though.

My love for Jesus.

My love for my family.

My love for the church I pastor.

My desire to stay true to the message of the gospel.

And my every January 1 post with this song. And you gotta love the hair in this one.

But I have a new thing in mind for this year.  This time of the year we hear a lot about a new slate before us. A new year ahead of us. A new path to walk on. New life. New hope. New direction. Ad infinitum.

So I thought I’d get on the bandwagon and create a new blog. A NEW BLOG???? Seriously? Yes that is exactly what I am saying.  Its purpose is totally different from this one.  It is called BE TRANSFORMED and you can find it at this address. If you want to know what it is all about then please take a look.

Why? Because I am convinced followers of Christ need to be serious about a daily walk with Jesus. Some of us (myself included) need help doing that. We need guidance. We need focus. We need a “lift” to start our day. Every morning I have found myself doing that with more regularity and missing it when my schedule gets all whacked.  If you go to that new site and read the About section you will see what it is all about. Or you can read the Purpose post. I do hope you will join me.

And for your new year here is a song I heard in 2016 and recently while working out and listening to my playlist on Spotify, it came up. I thought it would be an excellent challenge/reminder for this coming year. I KNOW it is not the cup of tea for many of you…okay most of you. Silence the music and at least read the lyrics.

Here is the song.

So…do you have a song or a Scripture which will guide your new year’s thoughts?

 

 

Afterburn

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

I supposed AfterGlow would be a better title since the one I used tends to make people think of heartburn. Actually, it is a good word…as is afterglow. It has been a full weekend and one which leaves my heart full, burning and glowing.

Janna, Jason and Braden came in late Friday and we had a special treat! Jo’s homemade pizza. We were going to order it but when she offered to make it all other offers were off the table. We watched Polar Express together and ate pizza.  Saturday morning I got up, had my Quiet Time, then went to the Y with Jason and Janna. We then went to Abram Farm to set up for Sunday. Others were at the church building putting together close to 60 bags of food to be delivered or handed out on Monday. That afternoon we watched The Santa Clause, then ate homemade sausage gravy and biscuits, eggs, etc then opened our gifts. After our Christmas Eve morning service we had lunch and then watched our house empty when the three left for Ohio. Quiet. But empty.

Sunday’s Christmas Eve morning worship was fantastic. Saw lots of people I don’t normally see 🙂 but we had a wonderful time. The music was all done beautifully. The venue was a new thing for us but people really liked it and were appreciative of the new place and Bill & Suzie’s generosity. I didn’t preach (I got cheers for that) but introduced each song with Scripture relating to it and, of course, the Christmas story. We also had 300 people, which is the best in our history. Let’s see what this coming Sunday brings!  🙂 🙂 🙂

The weather certainly turned cold. Sunday afternoon it started snowing and the weather took a dive. Our Christmas breakfast was hampered by the cold and the “iffy” roads. But we still delivered over 30+ meals with two bags of groceries to each house. It is nice doing that for people who can’t afford it or can’t make it in.

There is a warmth which comes with service. I think I’ll rest in that today. Enjoy your day.

Jumbled

Monday, November 6th, 2017

I was looking for the correct word to adequately express my thoughts and mind this Monday morning. I ran several through the “grinder” then realized jumbled is an adequate description.

Friday was anything but my day off.  I think I ran more…okay drove more…than I normally do in a normal work week. Saturday we put our oldest on a plan for Phoenix, which I wrote about here. I haven’t heard from her personally but Jo has seen some pictures on FB (which she has not shared with me. Hmmmmm), but I know she is having a fantastic time.

Yesterday (Sunday) was our Day of Service. Let me rephrase that: it was our Day of UNservice. You read that right. All week long we kept our eyes on the weather report. I let others tell what was coming; I finally looked on Saturday. I’d like to echo Doc Brown in Back to the Future when he said, “Since when can the weatherman predict the weather?” but I can’t say that this time. Oh wait…they were somewhat inaccurate. They said, “Large hail is possible.” Yikes! We didn’t get the hail but to make a long story short, we watched it start to rain Sunday morning and then watched it continue to rain until almost midnight. At times I thought “Oh man! We could have done our thing” but then about that time the skies opened up for 100 thousandth time. We still had lunch with the church we were partnering with (The Connection) then their Associate and I decided we were going to shoot in a different direction. Service like we were going to do is not and cannot be confined to a “special Sunday event.” So we challenged those who had signed up for a certain job to connect with a couple others, contact the people who we were going to serve, then make arrangements to do so within the next two weeks. Within 15-20 minutes all the people were taken. WAY TO GO OVCF AND CONNECTION! To add to that we had some “bigger ticket items” we were going to serve: the Cunningham Dog Kennels (rescued dogs) and Sue Whitman’s Horse Angels (rescued horses). They are both on board with us coming another time.

Sometimes things just don’t work out the way we plan. But that’s okay. Service will get done…just not at the time or the way we thought.

After the “failed” Day of Service, I did come home later and ride 45 minutes inside. My thoughts were jumbled…but I did sleep well last night.

Masquerade

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

This is not about the evils/horror/(take your pick) of Halloween.

I couldn’t sleep. No, it wasn’t because of some heavy weight on my heart. I took an inadvertent nap. After a very busy day I sat down in my chair to read. Next thing I knew: Bam! It was a 1/2 hour later. Way too close to bedtime to take a 20-25 minute snooze. Stop I stayed up (actually got back out of bed) to spend some time reading my devotions for today (Tuesday). They were about costumes.

Spiritual fakery is one of the chief tools of the enemy. It is one of the key ingredients of spiritual blindness. 

I don’t know if Paul David Tripp planned for his devotion to focus on costumes or not but there it was.  He writes: “The kingdom of self is a costume kingdom. This is because one of the enemy’s most useful tools is the ability of wrong to imitate right.” 

Hallloween is all about masks. Who can hide who they really are the best? Many followers of Christ are becoming or are already adept at hiding who they really are. Present company included. Wearing the clothing of the personal kingdom to hide the real me. Often wearing a costume to cover me. Sin does that. Since sin wants to reign in me, can I expect anything less?

I’m thinking that maybe instead of spending so much time worrying about the rightness or wrongness off Halloween, maybe we should concern ourselves with our own masks & masquerade.

What do you think?

Integrity

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Part of my sermon Sunday was on being Authenticity-Minded. That brought in the subject of the title:

INTEGRITY

When I was studying I ran across a couple of quotes which said volumes to me and, of course, used:

Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. Mother Teresa

Another one came across loud and clear:

Integrity doesn’t come in degrees: low, medium, or high. You either have integrity or you don’t. Tony Dungy

It is never easy being real. Or honest. Or vulnerable. Or a person of integrity. Tragically we live in a world where people are more shocked by a display of integrity than the lack of it. More and more people are surprised when someone does something right or out of the ordinary to set things right than when someone fails.

Authenticity involves our integrity. Practicing integrity means our behavior matches our beliefs. But keep this in mind: personal integrity is not the same thing as your reputation. Your reputation is who other people think you are. Your integrity (or lack of it) is who you really are.

Craig Groeschel wrote a book called Alter Ego. In it he tells a story of when his golf coach caught him stealing a golf ball from a miniature golf course and kicked him off the team.  He said, “If you’ll steal a golf ball, you’ll steal other things.” After some pleading on Craig’s part, the coach took him outside to talk and said words Craig says he will never forget:

If you have integrity, that’s all that matters. And if you don’t have integrity, well…that’s really all that matters.

Wise, wise words. And in my mind, that about sums it up.  Any thoughts?

Progression?

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

I’ve been using Whiter Than Snow by Paul David Tripp during my morning Quiet Time in addition to my Bible reading and New Morning Mercies. I read one devotion per week, rereading it each day, looking for something new to ponder.

This week’s is entitled “Sinners and Unafraid.”  I’m not exactly sure why that title but it is the first line that I read which gave me the thought for this post.

The older you get the more you move from being an astronaut to an archaeologist. (p.53)

Hmmmm. What exactly does that mean? Maybe this will help. “When you’re young, you’re excitedly launching to worlds unknown…But as you get older, you begin to look back at least as much as you look forward.” (p.53)

That makes sense to me. Like most ventures, the life of being a follower of Jesus is initially something exciting. Like putting on clothes just purchased, or a new car with that “smell,” or finding ourselves heading out for a first-time foray, there is something exciting which happens inside us. We are like an astronaut seeing things for the first time.

But then life hits. We get older and life is no longer like a box of chocolates. (I wish). As life hits, we begin digging into our past, sometimes looking for that missing piece of puzzle. That one thing which will help explain why we are as we are. Why we react the way we do. Why we are making the choices and decisions we are making. Why does this make me happy or sad?

I confess to having done some archaeological digging in my own life.  It’s almost a necessity these days to figure out how we perk. But it definitely reminds me I share something with every other person on this planet. It is called a sinful nature and no matter how I try, I cannot become perfect or sinless. I have also learned something else, something much more important: I must rely on God’s grace to accept me, that it is not based on my performance, my past (no matter how good or bad), my upbringing, or my “religious efforts.”

Progression comes when I become more steeped in God’s magnificent grace.

Humbling

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

On this Labor Day weekend I salute all who work, those who labor honestly and do all they can to take care of their family. But in all our work there is also something we need to be aware of. It is in this story:

When George Mallory was once asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, he famously answered, “Because it is there.” But in a personal letter to his wife, Ruth, he revealed even more about what drove him. “Dearest…you must know that the spur to do my best is you and you again…I want more than anything to prove worthy of you.”  George left a meaningful legacy that proved worthy of history’s remembrance. But George’s son John wrote something that has challenged me. Proud of his father but sad too, John wrote, “I would so much rather have known my father than to have grown up in the shadow of a legend, a hero, as some people perceive him to be.  (copied from The Imperfect Pastor by Zack Eswine- page 78)

Sadly, we live in an age where “making a living” or “making a name for ourselves” seems to be much more important than making a name with our children. The mountain “was there” but so was his son. It is far more important in my eyes to be a successful father in my daughters’ eyes than to be rich, powerful, or well-known.

Take time this Labor Day to reflect on what you have been blessed with. Work hard at what you do. But don’t forget there are people whom you come home to who don’t care if you are a CEO or a common laborer. Being a hero in their eyes is the prize worth pursuing.