Counterfeits2

Written by cycleguy on January 24th, 2017

In my last post I mentioned 3 things which can become idols to us.

Keep in mind: an idol is a representation of what we honor, esteem, pay allegiance to, or worship. Idols tell us we can’t live without them.

The first three were:

  1. Stuff
  2. Money
  3. Sex

The three I’d like to mention in this post are not listed as 4-6 because they are less prominent or because they are less of an issue.  We all struggle with things that want preeminence in our lives. The following three should also be included in the list:

Idol #4: Technology. It has been interesting to me to listen to all the “talk” about the political garbage (I could use another word for it) on FB and other media venues and I breathe a sigh of relief that I am not on any of them. I have chosen ON PURPOSE to not be on any site. I know people who can’t live without their phone, iPad or tablet, or some form of technology in their hand.  Technology can be a blessing, but it can also be a curse.

Idol #5: Beauty. I will be the first to admit I see nothing wrong with taking care of yourself or seeing a nice-looking male of female walking toward me. But there is no denying it has become an idol in our culture. How much more subjective can it be than to have an Annual “Sexiest Man Alive” issue or “Beautiful People Issue?”

Idol #6: Entertainment. I will acknowledge the need for diversion. But sometimes we spend entirely too much time in front of the TV or computer screen. I’m thrilled that one of the things Jo & I have never done is have a TV in our bedroom, nor does her iPad make it there. TV. Music. Playing games. None wrong in and of themselves, but when they begin to take over common sensibilities “Houston, we have a problem.”

There are the 6 I used this past Sunday. There are, obviously, more. But hopefully, you get the point.  🙂

 

Counterfeits

Written by cycleguy on January 23rd, 2017

Last week I ran out of time in my consideration of idols. My last post, in fact, stated that I would list some idols we have today. Then time slipped by, life got hectic and I failed to finish my thought. (That happens a lot lately. Is that a sign of old age?) 🙂

So…what are some idols we have. Pastor Timothy Keller calls our idols “counterfeit gods.” He calls them “anything more important to us than God, anything that absorbs our heart and mind more than God, anything we seek to give us what only God can give.” So here is a list…albeit a short one…and an incomplete one.

Idol #1: Stuff. We live in a materialistic society. We like our stuff. But is it necessary? What place does it have in our lives? Questions to ask: do I really need all this stuff? If God asked me to let it go, could I?

Idol #2: Money. J.D. Rockefeller was once asked, “How much does it take to make me rich?” His answer: “Just a little bit more.” Tragically, our society has bought into this trap. I’m sorry to say many televangelists live off the pockets of others and become wealthy.

Idol #3: Sex. The statistics of internet use of pornography are staggering. It is more toxic and addictive than any other drug. Men and (more and more) women who would never think of taking meth, heroine, coke, or some other drug, find themselves enslaved by this drug.

My next post will list the next three. Absorb what you read here. Then ask yourself some hard questions. I already have and will continue doing so.

 

Fools

Written by cycleguy on January 22nd, 2017

It is not a compliment to be called a fool. Not in biblical days. Not in the 1800s. Certainly not today. It is a term of derision. In fact, the word “fool” is on the level of idiot, nincompoop, and dunce. Far from a compliment, it is seen as a put-down. Interesting fact which I am sure many of you know: the word fool in the Greek is actually the word moronic. Yeah, you read that right. No need to tell you what word we get from that.

In verses 9-14 of I Corinthians 4 Paul uses four words to describe the followers of Christ:

  1. Spectacles– When a Roman general entered the city as a conquering hero, he came first. His army came next. The captors brought up the rear and they were spectacles to the watching and jeering throng.
  2. Fools- The early followers of Jesus often lived in the lowest level of society. While others wanted glory, honor and recognition, the followers of Jesus gave that up.
  3. Sufferers– While others lived like kings, they often lived like paupers. The life of following Jesus was a life of suffering. The word labor used in verse 12 means toil, which literally means “working our fingers to the bone, to the point of exhaustion.”
  4. Scum– Refuse. This refers to the scrapings from the bottom of a pan which are scraped off and thrown away.

The point? God is embracing the ridiculous. That is the point of my message this weekend. God embraces the ridiculous, the crazy people. I’m going to give some examples this week in a post or two of “crazy people.” Meanwhile, would you please pray for the Word to hit home this weekend?

 

Control

Written by cycleguy on January 16th, 2017

I suspect many of you have seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Next to Back to the Future, it is my favorite trilogy of movies. The central plot focuses on The Ring of Power fashioned by the Dark Lord Sauron. This ring corrupts whoever has it. No matter how good his or her intentions are, the ring’s power eventually corrupts even the purest heart. Enter Frodo. Frodo is given the task of taking the ring to Sauron’s lair to destroy it. We watch throughout the three movies as the ring’s power begins to take over and control Frodo’s every waking and sleeping moment. The finale has Frodo on the precipice of where he needs to throw the ring, and with Sam yelling, “Throw it in Frodo!” we watch as Frodo turns to Sam and says, “No Sam. It’s mine” and puts it on. The power of the ring had taken control of Frodo. It had enslaved him.

Idols are like that. They slowly and subtly take over, often without us even knowing it is happening. Pastor Tim Keller calls an idol a “counterfeit god.” He goes on to call an idol:

Anything more important to us than God, anything that absorbs our heart and mind more than God, anything we seek to give you only what God can give.

In my next post I plan to give 6 examples of idols we face today…many we don’t even realize are idols.

Oh…thanks for hanging in there with me over the past couple of months. I’ll give an update on my accident in the next week or so. But I do thank you for your prayers.

 

Idols

Written by cycleguy on January 12th, 2017

In Numbers 21 there is a story of the people of Israel and a serpent. They had begun to grumble against God and Moses, complaining they brought them out of Egypt into the wilderness to die. Their complaining got so bad God sent fiery serpents among them and when they bit the people they died. Suddenly complaining about being in the wilderness was not such a big thing anymore. The remedy for all of this mayhem was for Moses to make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole. Anyone who looked on it would live. Sounds all well and good.

E.X.C.E.P.T!

“He (King Hezekiah) removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (and it was called Nehushtan).”  2 Kings 18:4

That which was for a good purpose turned out to become something bad. The serpent had become an idol.

We may not have those kinds of idols but we do have them. An idol is a representation of what we honor, esteem, pay allegiance to, or worship. Idols tell us we can’t live without them.

My sermon this week is #3 in the series “I Am Fifth.” I’m calling it “Who’s Your Daddy?” because of the subject of idols. It is a tough sermon to preach since it hits all of us (especially me). I’m going to take a post or two next week to cover this subject in a little more detail. Stay tuned!

 

Virus

Written by cycleguy on January 11th, 2017

These days it is not unusual to hear “you have a virus.” And so those dreaded words hit us like a ton of bricks because most likely they will also mean quarantine in our bedroom (at best our house), loads of fluids, and many moments of sleep. (Hmmmm I am wondering if one can fake a virus for some blessed sleep?)

But my absence from this blog and other blogs has not been because of a virus. Least, not mine. Other than having the aches and pains and need for sleep like many other 64 year old codgers, my life has been infected by another kind of virus. One, in this case, which was even more insidious than the physical kind.

MY. COMPUTER. HAS. A. VIRUS.

A bad one. Last Thursday I spent over 1 1/2 hours waiting while my server spun emptying or deleting or writing emails. It spun seemingly endlessly as I tried to type. “Mozilla not responding” or “Word not responding” became permanently etched in my screen (or at least my psyche). More than once I asked someone if they had a gun or a baseball bat. A scan started on Sunday morning for malware revealed almost a 1000 viruses-brought on by a screen saver and a download of Chrome. So repair was started. And I waited. And I waited. Tuesday morning it finally said the Repairing disk was done. Yeah, in a pig’s eye. The whole process started all over again and when I tried to run a malware scan it said the program didn’t exist. Say what? Infected is what Ryan, the techgeek, said.

He ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie!  So he told me to switch computers and he will take mine home to perform surgery on it. It is so nice to have a computer that works. No hesitation in mail. No spinning and waiting. I have to go a little out of my way for sure since this one does not have my Bookmarks nor recognizes my Username and Password exactly. But we can deal with that since the. computer. works.

Hence, this post after an absence of over a week. Lots has happened. I hope to bring you up to “snuff” as time moves on. As for me…I am glad my computer is feeling better.

 

Fifth

Written by cycleguy on January 1st, 2017

Hard to believe 2017 is over 7 hours old already. Being that today is “my one day to work”  🙂  I went to bed at 9:35 last night. No amount of celebrating or celebration could keep me up until 12. Strangely enough, I was. I woke up from a fitful sleep about 11:30 so I decided to go to my Cave and read. I grabbed my Bible and journal and started catching up on the reading which had taken a back seat over the past few days. (And yes, pastors do that also. We are not always on the ball). So…while I had no intention of welcoming in the New Year…I did. I have this sneaking suspicion that less than four hours of sleep is going to catch up with me. Let’s just hope it isn’t while I’m preaching or praying. That could be bad!

The banner gives a good picture of my theme for 2017.  “I am Fifth.” Gayle Sayers, a Chicago Bears running back from the ’60s-70s, wrote a book called I Am Third, where he talked about his friendship with Brian Piccolo-a white teammate who was also dying of cancer. His guiding life lesson was “God is first; Others are second; I am third.” As I scanned by library back on July 5th, I ran across the book The Fifth Gospel by Bobby Conway. I decided to use the title with a twist and spend 2017 preaching about being the gospel to others.

Two quotes stand out to me:

“Where one man reads the Bible, a hundred read you and me.” D.L.Moody

“Preach the gospel; when in doubt, use words.”

After introducing the idea this month, I plan to preach on I John. After that the plan is Philippians and/or James.  If you are part of OVCF, I do hope you will join me in this journey. If not, but you still want to join in, you can listen by podcast on the church’s website. Have a great 2017.

 

Christmas2016

Written by cycleguy on December 22nd, 2016

godsgiftofchristmas

I have been virtually absent from this blog and others’ blogs as well. A comment here or there. A post here or there. I’ve had some time to re-evaluate how I feel about a lot of things, but in this case, Cycleguy’s Spin. Curiously, instead of slowing down, life picked up speed. Things which seemed second nature to me suddenly became more laborious. I chalk it up to the wreck on November 7th and the life-pace change which took place as a result. I have not been able to sleep horizontally (in my bed) since November 7th. My recliner has become my favorite place to spend my restless evenings trying to grab some uncomfortable sleep. That has lessened pretty much (for which I am grateful) but I still haven’t been horizontal.

The wreck. 6 hours in an ER getting x-rays. A huge dark purple hematoma developing on my hip which eventually moved down my leg to blow up my knee, then my calf and lower leg, and then finally my ankle/foot.  A visit to an Urgent Care Clinic. An ultrasound to make sure of no blood clots. Finally a reference from a PCP to a general surgeon for a possible slice and drain of the hematoma. After two weeks of Lasix and heat compresses and God’s amazing machine called the body, the surgeon has said no surgery will be required. YES!!!My body is absorbing it.

Add to that mix two weddings, a funeral, a growing & involved church in the community and the recipe is for busyness. The church is preparing for a Christmas breakfast for our community, plus a Christmas Eve service and one on Sunday morning. Fortunately, they are identical. I had planned on taking a Tuesday and going off to a retreat center for some solitude but even that blew apart.

My grandson is now with us for a few days. (Yeah, that brings peace and quiet). 🙂 But he is a joy to have around. And joy is something we all need. That, after all, was the message the angels carried to the shepherds that first night: “I bring you good news of great joy.”

So that is what I wish for you this Christmas season. A season of JOY.  My next post will be after Christmas so please have a blessed and joy-filled Christmas. And thanks for hanging in there with me.

 

“IT”

Written by cycleguy on December 8th, 2016

godsgiftofchristmas

No…not IT as in technology.

“It” as in what you call your baby until you know its sex.

Jo & I had our two girls in the age when knowing the sex of your baby was, at best, guesswork. They listened to the beat of the heart. Watched the way mom carried it (not an exact science). But before the modern technology, knowing the sex of your baby was, as I said, guesswork. So we tended to call the baby “it.” Unless, of course, you are like me who would not let Jo look at any girl’s clothes while pregnant and then boldly stated from the pulpit on the second one that I put my dibs in with the Lord and this one is a boy.

Yeah…both were girls…and I wouldn’t trade either of them for all the money in the world. I’m convinced God said He was going to have some fun with me for the first one and probably changed the sex of the baby in the womb when I bragged it was a boy. 🙂

I just got a text from an expectant mom Tuesday that their baby was going to be a girl. Oh…modern technology. Takes the guesswork out of the sex of the baby and takes the wonderment out of it as well.

Last week I talked about Emmanuel (God with Us). This week I’ll be speaking on Isaiah 9: 6-7, the passage where names of Jesus abound. While Mary and Joseph knew the baby was to be a “he,” the names given in this passage tell so much more about Him.  It is a good way to prepare for Christmas-to know the names of the future Messiah.

Which one means the most to you?

 

Treasure

Written by cycleguy on December 7th, 2016

When someone mentions treasure our thoughts most often turn to financial things.

But there is another kind of treasure…one (sadly) I’m not very good at most times. The reference is found in Luke 2:19 where it says that after the shepherds visited the baby and then left, Mary pondered or treasured these things you her heart. That word has always intrigued me.

As I probed what it meant to “treasure” something in your heart, I knew exactly why I was so bad at it! 🙂

The expression “treasured these things in her heart” has more to do with the emotions and the heart, than the physical organ beating in our chest. It literally means to keep something alive or to savor.

I think we all tend to do that. It is called memories. I have them. You have them. Good and bad. I have memories of Christmases in the past which were good. Waking up on Christmas morning to find a tree, a running train, and more than I ever dreamed of under the tree. I can also remember the Christmas my dad was about to walk out of the house.

These days I treasure my Christmases. As we get older, the awareness becomes more apparent that Christmas memories are to be treasured. I like what Tim Keller says, “The treasuring is not so much a technique as an attitude.” The sad part (and am I alone in this?) is that treasuring is getting harder to do. I’m really having some difficulty focusing this Christmas. Maybe it is the accident. Maybe it’s the volume of work. Maybe it is preoccupation with things to do. But I do need to slow down and treasure my memories.

How about you?

Some have asked for an update on my accident. I continue mending. I am totally grateful to God for His healing. I found out the good news that my auto insurance is going to cover the medical bills. That is a huge relief. I go to the general surgeon this coming Monday for a follow up on the hematoma and whether she will remove it or continue hoping my body will absorb it. Continued prayer would be appreciated. And thanks.