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#Lent#20

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

With all the talk about “the virus” I thought we needed a reminder that we are still alive and live on a planet made by God, the Creator of all things good.  I came to the office early this morning (Sunday) and about 7:40 I peeked outside. I saw this sunrise and took these pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d say that is a pretty impressive display of God’s creative work wouldn’t you? 

Our service was live streamed on the church’s Facebook page.  I do not have the ability to post it here but if you would like you can go to the church’s website and click on OVCF Facebook Page. You can ask to join and either Diana or Tami will approve it. You can then watch it. I understand (and may be wrong since I am technologically-challenged illiterate) that you can watch it once you are a member of our page.

And remember there is always a sunrise with Jesus. In fact, it was real popular a number of years ago to say, “Friday’s here, but Sunday’s coming!” Good Friday looked bleak, but Resurrection Day changed it all.

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Shortly before they left on their spring break vacation one of the ladies in the church (my State Farm Agent) said she saw a shirt and it had my name written all over it. She gave it to me to wear and I told her I would wear it the first Sunday they were back. Today was that day and you obviously know the result of that.  It tells a great story for us and our times.  It is a lesson we must never forget.

Those are my words to all: DON’T. GIVE. UP!!

#Lent#13

Friday, March 13th, 2020

There are different reason why people make professions of faith. Some are dubious like “My friends were” or “My parents wanted me to.” Some are religious-sounding: “I want to go to heaven” or “I don’t want to go to hell.” None of the above mentioned reasons are the right reason for coming to Christ.  In my years of being a pastor, I’ve heard all those and more.

But John Piper puts it into perspective:

But what is the ultimate goal in the good news? It all ends in one thing: God Himself. All the words of the Gospel lead to Him, or they are not gospel. For example, salvation is not good news if it only saves from hell and not for God.  Forgiveness is not good news if it only gives relief from guilt and doesn’t open the way to God. Justification is not good news if it only makes us legally acceptable to God but doesn’t bring fellowship with God. Redemption is not good news if it only liberates us from bondage but doesn’t bring us to God. Adoption is not good news if it only puts us in the Father’s family but not in His arms. (p.62)

We should embrace the gospel not to stay out of hell, or even to go to heaven, but because we are overwhelmed by the amazing love of God, the Good News. This Good News cost Jesus His life so we can be enthralled with God’s presence, and yes, spend eternity with Him.

#Lent#8

Friday, March 6th, 2020

“The great conclusion to the suffering and death of Christ is this: ‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’ To be ‘in Christ’ means to be in a relationship to Him by faith…Christ becomes our punishment (which we don’t have to bear) and our perfection (which we cannot perform).”  (p.42)

“Being ‘justified by faith’ and being ‘justified…in Christ’ (Gal.2:17) are parallel terms. We are in Christ by faith, and therefore justified.” (p.42)

It is hard to accept condemnation. When someone stands with their finger pointing at me, accusing me of something or condemning me of something, it is hard to accept it. I see my mortal enemy doing that: standing before the Father pointing his finger and like a prosecuting attorney rattle off this-n-that, counting off on his fingers all my wrong, sins, mistakes, and law-breaking. But Jesus rises in my defense and counters every attack with a simple “I took care of that.” Romans 8:1 comes hammering down: “There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to those who are in Christ Jesus.”

There is NO!!

Quotes with page numbers are from John Piper’s book The Passion of Jesus Christ.

#Lent#Number2

Friday, February 28th, 2020

I’ve noticed lately that there is a movement to get rid of God’s wrath. What I mean by that is that we want to talk about God’s love and patience and kindness and goodness and forgiveness. The risk is that we want to excuse and escape talk or even thinking about God’s wrath.

What is strange though is the whole Easter story-the crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection focus on God’s wrath. Oh, not as we think. God’s wrath predicted. God’s wrath fulfilled. God’s wrath satisfied. The biblical word is propitiation.  Consider these verses:

“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” I John 2:2

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” I John 4:10

“Whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” Rom.3:25

*Propitiation refers to the removal of God’s wrath by providing a substitute…The substitute, Jesus Christ, does not just cancel the wrath; he absorbs it and diverts it from us to himself. God’s wrath is just, and it was spent, not withdrawn.*

And you know what’s amazing? It was God’s idea. Think about that! Chew on it. Then remember, it was His plan all along.

Note: All statements made by John Piper are highlighted with an * outlining his statement. They come from his book The Passion of Jesus Christ.

#Hangover#GoodOne

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

Every Sunday I go through it. I call it a hangover. I’ve never had the other kind.  Kind of hard to do that when you don’t take a drink to start with. 🙂

I had one yesterday. I went to the Y early (8:00) to work out and when I was done I had the hangover. It was the good kind. You know…the adrenaline is pumping and you feel like something good happened.  I even joked with someone who was just getting there about feeling good I was done. I had reached my limit physically for that workout and there was a settled feeling that came over me. Shower. Eat. Study. Nap. Oops where did that come in? 🙂

I’ve have one when my bike ride is finished. An a-a-a-a-a-h feeling.  A sense of accomplishment. An adrenaline rush from having spent myself. Shower. Eat. Work. Nap. Again, where did that come from?  🙂

I get one every Sunday. I expend myself emotionally. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. Eat. (No shower needed). Study. Nap. Well, sometimes but not today.

I’m a bit melancholy right now. I’m not sad from any event. I’m not down from life. I expended a lot of spiritual energy this morning after preaching twice and I think I know what it is.

The subject matter. Heaven is fine to preach on. I’m not a fan of preaching on Hell. It isn’t because I pound the pulpit and scream and froth at the mouth. I don’t. But I’m melancholy because I have this sneaking suspicion there were some there today who needed to come to Christ but will keep putting it off.  It’s days like today that I wish I was like the Hulk when he grabbed Loki,  slammed him back and forth a few times, and then said, “Puny god.” Loki just whimpered. That was after Loki tried to tell the Hulk he was a god.

There are people I just want to grab and say, “What are you waiting for? Don’t you realize you are playing with your life, taking a risk that you really don’t want to gamble on?”

When I feel like this I can only imagine what God must be feeling after waiting and waiting.  The Bible says that God desires all men to repent and to come to a knowledge of the truth. His heart must break when time after time people reject Him.

I’m not concerned about my eternity. I know where I will be. I do get melancholy over others. May I never lose that fire for the lost. May I never lose that desire to see people come to Jesus. May I never lose that hunger to feel God’s pain.

I closed the sermon with this song. Hope you enjoy it.

#Quote#Darkness

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Quite honestly I have never been one to listen to sermons or podcasts while I drive. I don’t know if you would say I am a typical male or whether it is just me, but I have trouble doing two things at one time.  Even reading more than one book at a time is hard, especially if I find one of them more interesting than the other. So I tend to be a “one-tasker” (as opposed to multi-tasker).  Driving and listening to a sermon is not on my radar for obvious reasons. Hint: you have to think while listening.

But lately I have found a couple podcasts I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to. One is Carey Nieuwhof’s leadership podcast, as well as Craig Groeschel’s. Another is Hole in my Heart with Laurie Krieg. Her husband, Matt, and friend, Steve, often join her. I have personally met Matt & Laurie and had them as our weekend guests here at OVCF. Laurie has what she calls “broken sexuality” (Same Sex Attraction). But her podcast has not focused on that alone. She did have one guest whom I really enjoyed listening to concerning his SSA but also his conversion to Christ. A recent guest, Sheridan Voysey, talked about the struggle he and his wife had with infertility.  It was during a “side road” Laurie took Sheridan on that he said something I wrote down (after I got back to the office).

This very darkness you are going through and your waiting and hungering and hoping for that new birth or rebirth, God can be doing things under the surface without you even realizing it, which is all part of Him making you who He called you to be.

I sent that to someone I know who is going through a really tough time right now. Short thought: nothing is ever wasted in God’s economy. His plan is sometimes curvy; sometimes uncomfortable; sometimes painful; but always with purpose.

I leave this quote with you for your perusal. If you care to comment, I’d love to hear what you think.

#GlorifyWhom?#YouWantMeToWhat?

Friday, February 7th, 2020

Talk about worship and you are sure to get a bunch of different ideas. Some of our ideas will be determined by our generation. Some are determined by our likes and dislikes and preferences. The struggle was so intense several years ago they called it “the worship wars.” Imagine fighting over worship. But they did. It started with the music. Hymns were replaced by worship songs and choruses. Admittedly some of them were cheesy and mere fluff and extremely repetitive. The battle intensified when the whole seeker-sensitive approach hit the fan. Preaching was replaced by “talks” and drama. Worship music was replaced by pop songs and shallow songs pushing horizontal type of worship. There was more “me” than there was “Him” in our singing.

But IMHO that all missed the mark of what should be our focus: the worship and majesty of the Holy One, Jesus. God the Father and God the Son. (I’m not into worship of the Holy Spirit since the Bible tells us His purpose is to bring glory to Jesus). A church that worships is a church that is pleasing to God. Not for the purpose of self but for the purpose of lifting up and glorifying the only One worthy of it.

John MacArthur calls worship the ultimate priority. Chuck Swindoll calls it the irreplaceable priority. In other words, it is important and cannot be downplayed. That is the topic of my sermon this Sunday as I continue my series on Faithful. I’ve titled it Glorify Whom? My prayer is to lead us into a higher view of worship this Sunday. I’d sure appreciate your prayers.

#Miraculous#PrayerAnswered#Astounded

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020

I don’t normally “cross dress” my two blogs. As many of you know, I have this one (Cycleguy’s Spin) and another one-a devotional blog called “Living in the Shadow.” I decided to bring “Shadow” to this one today. Not many read “Shadow,” but I believe someone who reads this one may need to hear this today. So I share it with you here.

There has been and always will be a battle between seeing and believing the miraculous and being so jaded that even the miraculous is seen as mundane. Skepticism seems to rule so many peoples’ thinking.  Over the past 45+ years as a pastor I have had the blessing of seeing the miraculous. I’ve seen God work in ways that astound. I know some question the use of the word “miracle” and want to confine it to the NT days, but I’m going to use it to describe some recent events I have been privileged to witness:

  • A 13 y/o healthy young man finds himself suddenly fighting for his life. In just a matter of  days, he goes from healthy to life support. Prayers bombard heaven endlessly. “Miraculously” he goes from death’s door to home in a matter of weeks. He still has a haul but there is much to marvel at. Aslan was on the move!
  • A 20 month old boy born with a heart defect (left artery totally closed) has another surgery as a “last ditch” to get some blood flowing. Not only are the doctors able to open his artery 2mm (needs 10-12), but-and here is the absolutely incredible, “miraculous” element-he goes home less than a week after surgery! There is no other explanation except God’s hand. Aslan was on the move!
  • A man who does not acknowledge the God of the Bible has health issues. Heart. Feet. Heart supposedly has bacteria on his valves but surgery is risky because of infection in his foot. A cath late last week shows his valves are clear with no bacteria; his foot is healing; and he has heart surgery to replace two valves this week. The whole scenario is nothing short of incredible. And even though his idea of God is warped, prayers have been said on his behalf. I’d like to believe it is so he can hear about and respond to the true God of the Bible. Aslan was on the move!

Those are recent examples. It is easy to write them off as “the doctors did this” or “modern medicine did that,” but I believe differently. I’d rather say it is-if I may borrow Paul’s words from Ephesians 2: “But God.” Man may have knowledge (ironically given to him by God) and may even acknowledge it is limited; man may say, “If it hadn’t been for the doctors;” but it goes much, much deeper. Man’s limited knowledge shows God’s limitless power.

“Father, skeptics can be cast aside. They will never accept nor understand Your unlimited-dare I say miraculous?-power. Limitless. Powerful. Able to astound. Help me to never take that power for granted, nor take your wonder working power for granted.”

#GoingHome!#AwesomeGod

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

Less than a week after open heart surgery (tomorrow…Wednesday would be one week), Alexander headed home yesterday (Monday).  He had an echo done and was then cleared to go home.  He will be drastically limited to visitors since his immune system is so low and he will be sensitive to any germs that anyone might expose him to.

BUT CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS!

 

Sorry for the texts included. I had to take a screen shot since I couldn’t get it sent to my email. The top you can see though is Christine saying, “Going home…God is so amazing!”

Yes, Christine He most certainly is.  And this will be one time I will use the word “Awesome!”  Because God truly is. But please keep praying for Alexander. They were able to open his left artery 3mm. Normal is 10-12mm. They will check him down the road and if possible will put a shunt in. But who knows what God will do???

#AlexanderUpdate#PrayerAnswered!!

Monday, January 27th, 2020

Okay, so I had been posting about 20 month old Alexander this past week.  You can read my past posts about him here and here and here.   I didn’t post over the weekend due to my schedule so I thought I would keep you updated as of yesterday (Sunday). The following was posted on FB (which I am not on) but forwarded to me by Jo.

Everyone is amazed at how well Alexander is doing and they plan to send us home this week! Praise God for His hand in all of this…there is no other explanation than Him. Alexander came into this surgery having not had the best odds in his favor due to recent illnesses, sinus gunk/cough as well as the fact that the surgeons were not sure there was anything they could do to fix the issue with his heart. Now they might send him home less than a week after open heart surgery where he was on the bypass machine (harder on the recovery than if he wasn’t)! Nothing less than a miracle how well he is doing. Thanks for all the prayers.
He is still in some pain but manageable with Tylenol and we are still struggling to get him to drink anything (but we still have his feeding tube so he is getting some nutrition thru it as much as he will tolerate it). Overall we could not be happier! He faces more procedures in the future but if things go as planned they should be able to do them with a Heart Catheterization and no more open heart surgeries! For the next couple months he will have to stay away from people and germs and we have to be careful how he is picked up (never under the arms as usual) so we don’t mess up his incision site but these are small hurdles compared to how far this little superhero has come!

Is that not awesome? I only use that word when it refers to God or something God has done. And so I have to say this is A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!!!! And here is something that will steal your heart:

I told Christine when I found out Alexander would be born with a heart defect and that she and Jimmy never questioned whether keeping him was an option or not, I believed God has some special plan for His life. No one knows what that is except for God Himself. But even now, God’s miraculous work in his life is nothing short of incredible. What a testimony this little guy already has! Kudos to the doctors and staff at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. Kudos to Jimmy & Christine for the love and trust they have shown to love Alexander as every child should be loved- #real definition of heroes. Kudos to Eliza and Isabella (his sisters) for their understanding of mom and dad’s time and their love for their brother. But more praise goes to the Father for His loving care of His little lamb.

Thanks to you for your prayers. You don’t even know him but have been praying.