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Effectiveness#2

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

“I’m afraid of living an insignificant life.” So said one speaker at a conference. That’s a good sentiment. I could say that as well. I might say it as “I want to leave a legacy.”

But here’s the rub: what is significant? What kind of legacy? Well….I guess it depends on who and what one listens to. If I listen to the world’s definition of significance, I’ll hear something totally different from God’s definition. Ask someone the definition of significance and most will tie it to something they have done-even though it may be something truly worthy like a home for unwed mothers, or a shelter, or feeding the homeless, etc. But that significance is tied to “do.”

When that idea creeps into a Christ-follower’s thinking, or the church, then it is easy to think my value (significance) is related to what I do, what I have achieved. I tie how I feel about myself to what I do. So the “bigger” something is the more significant my life appears to be.

NOT. TRUE.

Significance is not found in what I do or even don’t do. My value to God is based on what I am in His eyes. He isn’t going to hold me up and carry me on His shoulders to be praised before an adoring crowd. I’m not going to be ride the wave like a coach or star player after a huge victory. My significance is not based on my effectiveness (see Leader A vs Leader B again in that first post), but on my relationship with God. Service is good but it should never trump being with Him.

What do you think? Better yet, ask yourself how you view your significance. Is there a change I need to make so I can see myself through God’s eyes?

 

Effectiveness

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

I’m going to steal from my other blog for this week. I have been reading through (for a second time) and writing about a book by Skye Jethani called Immeasurable. I thought I would take this week here to write some thoughts about a chapter he titles Effectiveness. For today, here is a test:

Leader A. Lifted an entire nation in a time of despair. He mobilized his people against unimaginable odds with a clear vision and inspiring passion. He launched a movement that has impacted literally everyone alive today. He set in motion an industrial and scientific revolution that produced the first computer, the first jet airplane, began human exploration of space, and unlocked the mystery of nuclear energy.  Almost every aspect of the modern world has, in one way or another, been influenced by this man. By the time he died at the age of only 56, everyone on the planet knew his name. Without a doubt, Leader A changed the world.

Leader B. Lived during the same era. In fact, he died just 21 days before Leader A, but his life was very different. At the height of his influence, Leader B ran a school with just a hundred students. He wrote a few books but was not widely regarded.  He was beloved by his friends and family and had a reputation for being both intelligent and faithful, but at the time of his death almost no one knew his name, and most considered his life’s work unfulfilled-including Leader B himself.

So, given the choice, which leader’s strategies would you rather study? Which man’s life would you rather emulate? Which leadership conference would you rather attend-the one featuring a keynote address by Leader A, or the one with a small workshop in a back hall facilitated by Leader B?  GIVE YOUR ANSWER NOW (before I give the punch line).

If you are inspired by the world-changing effectiveness of Leader A, congratulations! You’ve chosen Adolf Hitler. Leader B was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who was executed by the Nazis for his relentless opposition to Hitler.

So…how did you do? Whom did you pick? You see, simple effectiveness is not enough.  We often equate effectiveness with success. I once heard someone say, “It is not success that matter; it is faithfulness that matters.” I agree. To be “successful” is not wrong; it’s okay. But it is far better to be faithful to what we have been called to do.  I want to pursue this line of thought this week. Hope you will join me.

Blues

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

Several definitions come to mind with the word:

  1. Plural of the color on the ROYGBIV spectrum.
  2. Type of music usually done with deep emotion. There are the standard blues artists B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin, Darrel Mansfield and Glenn Kaiser (the latter two were/are in the Christian music scene).
  3. A state of mind often compared to depression or defeat. “I have the blues today” or “I’m in a blue mood.”

Be assured those are my definitions. They are not scholastic or academic by any stretch. Me? An academic? Will never happen. 🙂

It is not embarrassing to admit to bouts of the “blues,” even as a follower of Christ. Some of the most prominent names in Christendom were prone to it. Charles Spurgeon was one of them. But his went even deeper. I used to be foolish enough to think all one needed to do was “buck it up” and quote Scripture and praise God and all the blues will be lifted. Try telling that to someone who struggles with clinical depression. You might get swatted across the face (if they care enough to do it).

My sermon Sunday is entitled “Stop Singing the Blues.” I’m using Psalm 77 as my Scripture. It is another psalm by Asaph. He reveals quite a bit about his struggle with the blues (as I will call it), but he also finishes by giving us a good remedy for those times when we struggle and feel overwhelmed. I have no desire to give a sermon on “Five Easy Answers to Your Depression” since I don’t know 5 answers nor do I preach those kinds of sermons.  I will, however, emphasize Asaph’s approach to it all. {Hint: it starts at verse 10 then to verses 14-15 and then check out verse 19}.

Your prayers would be much appreciated. Prayers for clarity. Prayers for receptive hearts. Prayers for God’s Word to speak and penetrate. Thanks.

This will complete my series on An Anchor. I have been preaching from Psalms since the beginning of the year. I’ll be away next Sunday and Ryan, our youth pastor, will start a series I am calling “Last Words” (7 last sayings of Jesus) which will take us to Resurrection Sunday.  Then on to Romans 8.  If you care to listen to any of the sermons on Psalms you can catch the podcast on the church website.

AmazingBody

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

It never cease to amaze me…this body God has created. Not only are we all different sizes, shapes and colors, but we all grow, heal, and respond in different ways.

I have been blessed in the past. My body, while not without its quirks- bowlegged, skinny legs; no hair; long, lean muscles which will never get overly big although I’ve tried; and a cranky back- has been one which has stayed relatively healthy (in spite of the bike wrecks) with a somewhat quick ability to heal. God has blessed me with some pretty good health, even now in my 66th year.

BUT…there comes those times when your body finally says, “Enough is enough. You have used me enough and it is time to slow you down some.” That is what has been happening over I-don’t-know-how-many-weeks. I have pushed myself to get up at 3:30 every morning (not unusual) and go all day. I work out at the Y and on the off days I was riding for an hour or so inside on my trainer. I was not sleeping well. We traveled to Ohio to visit family and slept on a hard hotel bed for 3 nights. I came home and immediately was bombarded with stuff that needed attention. At the same time I was fighting off the same junk everyone else around here has. It caught up with me yesterday (Wednesday). I slept very little the night before. Slept 1 1/2 hours in my office chair before anyone got here (and I wasn’t even aware it was happening) until finally I was encouraged by Jo and the church secretary I looked bad. My upper part of my nose where my glasses sit looked big, was sensitive to the touch, and to put it mildly, I was miserable. Jo talked me into going to the clinic where they diagnosed me with “backside deep sinus infection” or something like that. They gave me a prescription for some antibiotics and steroid to take, sent me home, and I proceeded to sleep for 3 hours. I’m talking “lights out for 3 hours.”

Guess my body said, “It’s my turn to get some proper attention.” Psalm 139 receives a lot of attention in the discussion of abortion -and well it should- but I keep going back to that one small phrase: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Who else could have created a body like this? Who else could have created a body so intricately and finely made like this? Who else could have created a body with the ability to take blows and heal like it does?  Only ONE.

I am grateful to the ONE who alone could have done this. No AI will be able to accomplish anything remotely close to this.

Anniversary

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

Oh, for the ease of emojis. It is not as easy putting pictures on a blog as it is to use an emoji while texting. If so I would find one that pictures a celebration.

Today is the anniversary of me starting Cycleguy’s Spin. February 20, 2008. This is post #2,837.

It is hard for me to believe I have been at this for so long. A lot has changed. A lot has happened. I have seen people come and go. Some who used to blog don’t any more. For what reason, I don’t know. Blogging used to be “the thing” but FB, Twitter, Instagram and all the other newer, shinier models have stepped in. I’ve stuck with blogging because I am not into social media. It used to be a joke in our house that Jo got to do FB because I had my blog. She originally connected to it to keep up with the girls, but she is hooked. Me? I am glad I never got involved. They say it would be better for blog traffic but I’m okay with that. They also say I would be able to keep better track of “my people.” That’s alright. They don’t need a hound dog. Besides, I have spies all over the place! 🙂

A lot has happened. The church moved its location from the sports complex to our own building (we bought an already existing one). That was in 2010. In January of 2011 I found out we were being embezzled. But God was more than sufficient.  In 2009 I was riding with a friend and a dog came out of the yard and took me down. I was hit by a hit and run driver in 2016 and in 2017 I had a horrific crash (which Tami was kind enough to remind me that this past Sunday was the date of my two year anniversary). I became a board member of the Owen County Chamber of Commerce about 6 years ago. The church has seen its ups and downs but God has been good. We paid cash for a renovation in 2012 and for a much-needed youth addition in 2017-2018.  Our sights are set on an adult worship center now.  We had our first Day of Service in 2009 and now partner with The Connection church for a semi-annual Day of Service (Spring and Fall).  Our 2009 launch of a now annual Thanksgiving Dinner was one of the best things we have done and it has morphed into a Christmas breakfast as well.

I started another blog, more of a devotional one, in 2018.  It was called Be Transformed and was focused around New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. I changed its name to Living in the Shadow at the beginning of this year and also changed my focus. I invite you to check it out here.

But through all of this and more, God has been the mainstay.  He has given me a love for the people of OVCF and for the community I never thought possible. I love living and serving here and honestly see myself nowhere else.

This is getting way too long so let me wrap it up. I thank you for being one of my readers. I appreciate it more than I can express. I know some of you are praying for me. That means even more. I’ll keep writing as long as I feel I have something to say. From the very beginning my guiding theme has been Live the Adventure.  I have received a few momentos along the way:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My firm belief and guiding principle:

And finally: I was listening to Switchfoot while working out yesterday and heard this song for the first time. It has been on repeat since then. It sums up my theme for my life.

Thanks for being a part of my life.  Live life well. It is an adventure.

Drowning

Friday, February 15th, 2019

It sounds somewhat presumptuous to say, “No one should worry.” Even as I write that or say that I feel like I should have a shield or some armor or at least plan to duck. Within any room; within any event; within any church, work, or school, there are worriers.  Research has shown that worry causes serious health issues: ulcers, colitis, nerves, sleeplessness, and a host of other ailments.

As I began working on the theme for this year (Unsinkable), I also began working on some sermon ideas. One of the ones I came up with was “Icebergs,” those things which can sink us or our faith.  It is common knowledge Titanic was sunk by an iceberg which was under the surface. Many people’s faith is sunk by icebergs under the surface.  One of the biggest, but one often given credence by us as “concern” is worry.

My sermon Sunday is from Psalm 37:1-11 and verse 23. This happens to be one of my favorite in the Bible so I’m looking forward to it. The writer of this psalm makes it really easy for even the casual reader by telling us what the solution to worry is by highlighting some words at the beginning of the verses: Trust. Delight. Commit. Be still. Refrain.  I’ll finish out by talking about “the steps of a man are established by the Lord…when he delights in His way.”

Thanks for your prayers.

It’s been a busy week so the blog took a backseat. Thanks for being patient.

Faith/Feelings?

Friday, February 8th, 2019

First, let me just say we needed Noah the past two or three days. It has rained like “cats and dogs.” So much so that school was let out early today (Thursday) and some of the kids were stuck at school anyway because the buses couldn’t get through. One school had all three access ways flooded. Oh…but tonight!!! It is supposed to go down to 18 degrees. Talk about a royal mess!

Anyway…now for my regularly scheduled post.  🙂

The battle between faith and feelings has been and will continue to be ongoing. There are many who doubt God’s faithfulness and love because their feelings have betrayed them. Enter Psalm 13.  I wrote about this psalm at my other blog here on January 8. When I decided to extend my sermon series on Psalms I decided to incorporate this Psalm into that series. I’m not going to reiterate here what I wrote there. I’d like to ask you to venture over there.

But one thing I do want to emphasize is what kept David anchored were his beliefs in the certainty of God’s character, based on the certainty of God’s promises, even though his feelings were all over the map. We would do well to do the same.

It has been a crazy week for me so I have not posted much on this blog. I do post every day at my other one since it is more devotional and based on my morning Quiet Time and journal. But I do covet your prayers this Sunday.

EarlyBird

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

Here in Indiana this morning when I came to work it was 4 degrees (so said my mirror. It blows up at 0) but the wind chill is supposed to be near -35 or something ridiculous like that.  Other reports say -40. I mean, what is another -5 degrees when it is already so cold it freezes your breath before it even leaves your tightly closed lips? So it might seem a bit strange that I would write about this subject.

Think August. Around these parts they call them the “dog days of August.” That’s because after a hot, sweltering summer, August usually says, “Ha. You think it has been hot and sweltery? Take a look at this!” When it is this cold I dream of days of 90+ when I can ride or go outside or have the AC in my truck and house. Not now. I couldn’t get my AC this cold if I tried. If I could maybe it would serve as a “warm up” or “conditioning” to winter weather! Nah.

Anyway, they say “the early bird catches the worm.” I’m not interested in birds or worms, however, I am interested in presenting something to you. Last September I was supposed to participate in the MS150 ride in Lebanon, IN.  But it was the weekend we were trying to recreate Noah and the Ark. Actually, I think God was reminding us what it was like. We had, in one weekend, from 7-12″ of rain. So the ride was cancelled. I was bummed. I had trained for it and my friend, Dave from Arizona, was here to ride it also. I’m guessing they decided to change the date hoping August would be drier than September.

On August 17 I will be planning to ride the MS150.  It is a fun ride but it is also a fun(d)-raising ride for MS research. My goal this year is $800. Last year it was $500 and I surpassed that. I upped the ante this year and hope to surpass it again. From frigid January to a “balmy” August, I have just over 6 months to raise that amount. I would be honored if you would donate toward the MS150 ride in my name. If you go here to my page and follow directions, it will allow you to do so. I am sponsoring a team called 3 Feet Please, something I happen to be rather passionate about. 🙂  Bet you can’t tell!! (See header)

I’m not going to hound you here. I will remind you from time to time about it. I do hope you will consider helping the cause. I get nothing for this. No kickback. No financial reward. Just the satisfaction of doing something I love for friends like Kirby (a local friend) and Marge (a member of OVCF) and others who are suffering.  Thanks.

January??

Monday, January 7th, 2019

If I lived in Arizona as several of my online friends do, what I am about to write would not sound too crazy. If I lived in Florida, where some folks from the church are visiting and some old friends from the church now live, you would not think I sound crazy.

It’s January here in Indiana. January 6th (yesterday) to be exact. You know…the land of cold and ice and snow. Not like Norway, Sweden or even Canada. But the land of cold and ice and snow. (Cue Led Zepplin here)

I rode my bike yesterday. I rode my bike Saturday as well. 14. 5 on Saturday. 17.5 on Sunday. What gives? A bike with snow shoes or ice crampons? A road bike with huge treaded (not a word) tires made for mountain biking? Wrong on both counts.

Weather in the high 40s/low 50s on Saturday. When I started on Sunday my truck thermometer read 60+ degrees.  I was wise. There have been times I have ridden and been under-dressed and shivered my way home.  I recently found out the gloves I bought for winter riding were only good down to about 30. After that…shiver me fingers. They hurt so bad I cut a couple of rides short. But Saturday I worked up a good sweat. Sunday I worked up a good sweat but was also smart in that I packed some liners for my short-fingered gloves and a headband for my ears.  It is crazy how quickly it cools off when the sun goes down.

I enjoyed my two days of decent-weather riding. Makes me long for warm weather riding which is just around the corner. (I’m an optimist).

Some things never change though. Thinking I was okay and forgetting that  in cold or warm weather proper nutrition is a must, I failed to hydrate and eat right when I was done. I paid the price during small group last night when an inner thigh cramp seized my whole upper leg and I had to get up and massage and stretch. Some things never change I guess. You’d think at the age of 66 and after years of riding I’d learn my lesson. Some heads are hard.

If I may, allow me a spiritual application. Learning from our mistakes is essential. Proverbs tells us “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The moment I get hard-hearted or hard-headed, I’m in trouble spiritually. I’m convinced a follower of Christ is never too old (or too young) to learn. I pray I never stop learning. I’d like to stop learning from all the dumb mistakes I make, but you gotta stop making them and that might never happen! 🙂

Difference

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

We often hear people talking about “making a difference.” Their desire to make a difference will have one of two affects. One, they will think about it; stew over it; lament over the state of things; cry over it; even speak about it; but do nothing about it!

There are also those who want to make a difference and it will change them. No longer satisfied to sit on the sidelines, they will become advocates and fight for something.

That is not a political statement. I despise politics-government, home, church, sports, and anywhere else where there are people who think they can throw their weight around and get what think is theirs. Even if it means lying, cheating, slandering, gossiping, and a host of other ugly things.

Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25 was not a political statement. Sheep on the right; goats on the left. Nope, not a political statement whatsoever. But it was a statement pertaining to following Jesus by caring for others. You have seen them: the hungry, naked, thirsty, lonely, in prison, homeless.  Making a difference in their lives is what Jesus is talking about. I asked a question Sunday: How do I make a difference?  How do I show compassion? I answered it this way:

Allow our heart to break.  Someone once said, “Break my heart with the things that break the heart of God.”  Melinda Gates, Bill’s wife, once said, “If you want to make a difference, you have to let your heart break.”

Ask God for a mission. Many missions are started because of personal experience. I’ve dreamed for years of opening a home for abused or “lost” woman. Our little community does not have the sex trafficking issue a big city does (at least that I know of) but alcohol and opioids have played havoc with families. Seems like daily I read of another bust or broken home and children finding their way to DCS. Scary thought that.

Making a difference starts with me. With you. And one person at a time. But we have to start.