Tips#2

Written by cycleguy on September 25th, 2018

As promised (I know you were waiting with baited breath), I want to continue my posts on basically what to say and what not to say to a person who is hurting or grieving. These are adapted from the book by Dave Furman called Being There. The first three were in this post and while I’m going to list them here, you can check out a further explanation by checking out the post.

#1. Don’t Be the Fix-It Person.

#2. Don’t Play the Comparison Game.

#3. Don’t Make it Their Identity.

#4. Don’t Promise Deliverance Now. This is really huge right now in the religious world. False teachers/cult leaders/prosperity teachers and other heretical personalities are promising deliverance. You know how it works. They come to you saying, “I just know you are going to be healed. God has told me He will do that.” They might even tell you to think positive. Think good thoughts, happy thoughts. Get rid of all negativity. Kum-ba-yah and all that other rot.  IMHO you are not there to be their personal faith guru or their guarantor of God’s healing power. I get so sick of heretics making false claims of healing, getting peoples’ hopes up only to watch them and their faith come crashing down because “God didn’t come through.” I do like what the author says is key to this thought: “Instead of promising deliverance in this life, point them to God’s presence and a future hope that will never let them down.” (p.119)

#5. Don’t Encourage Them to Just “Move On.” You find this in the more “I’m going to take you to the good side by constantly telling you to leave all your troubles behind” kind of person.  That approach seems so calloused if you ask me.  This person is literally telling the hurting person his/her life has been on hold for way too long and it is time get over it.  Now…granted there is a fine line between wallowing in your pity and grieving appropriately. Grieving is so essential, but so is adequate grieving. When we, by our words or actions, tell people it is high time they got over their grieving, we are essentially saying, “I’m tired of dealing with this issue with you.”  One of the things I keep telling myself is people grieve differently and at different speeds. Do I think some people “milk” it? Sure. But, at the same time, who am I to think someone “ought to be over it by now”?

Well, I’m sorry this has gotten so long. I didn’t think I had this much in me. 🙂 Anyway, I’ll post some more tips in another day or two. I invite you back for another visit. And feel free to share this if you think it will help someone.

 

 

Nostalgia#4

Written by cycleguy on September 23rd, 2018

It all started with this song.  I had heard it sung on the very first worship CD I ever bought- The Passion Band’s second recording. Christy Nockels actually sang it. In 1999 I went through a revolution in my faith. After spending so many years in legalism, I had started getting out of that around 1995. I had read a book called Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur which rocked my world.  By 1999 I was enjoying the freedom from legalism, but there were some dark clouds on the horizon.

They had actually been there. In July of 1998 my father-in-law went to be with Jesus after dying on the operating table for open heart surgery. We were living 6 hours from Jo’s mom who was showing signs of “not being with it.” With a fear of dementia creeping in, I told her it was time to move and I would try to move closer to Sandusky, OH. Some dark clouds were forming in my ministry which I was aware of but never felt them threatening. In August of ’99 Tami visited another church in town (Maryland Community Church) and totally loved it. I asked her if she minded if I went the following Sunday night with her. That is when it all started. I heard the opening song for the first time and heard worship music which rocked. No fog or lights. No hymns. Just worship songs to a beat I liked.  And some good Bible teaching (which I desperately needed). One Sunday led to another to another until Sunday night’s at Maryland were a staple for father & daughter. ‘Course she liked that I bought her something to eat afterwards. 🙂

The clouds became a gathering storm and in June I found myself moving to Sandusky. There is so much more to say about that time but this is not the time or the place. What I can say is that from August of ’99 through June of 2000 the communion I had with God had never been sweeter and I am hard-pressed to find a time since (except following my accidents and the renewal of my love for God and Jo).

Since that first song, many worship songs have gone under the bridge of my “favorites.” I have two which make my list of favorites which I never tire of hearing. One is here by Chris Tomlin. The newest one is this one by Planetshakers (which I featured awhile back).

As I grow more mature in my faith, I’ll find others I like but this is where I am right now. Hope you enjoy it.

 

Avoid!!

Written by cycleguy on September 21st, 2018

General George C. Marshall once said, “Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.”

If the truth be known, we are all tempted from time to time to put the best possible spin on things related to us. We don’t really want people to know who we are. We might open the door a crack. But totally? We aren’t quite ready to do that.

As followers of Christ, we tread a fine line. We shouldn’t withdraw from the world because that leaves us with no influence. But at the same time we shouldn’t fall lock, stock and barrel into walking lockstep with them either. We need what is called D.I.S.C.E.R.N.M.E.N.T.  Frankly, there are people we ought to and need to avoid. While an addict may feel strong, hanging around with his old buddies is not the wisest choice.

Proverbs 6:12-19 is a rather hard-hitting passage. I’ve divided it into two sections:

  • Stay away from the insincere (6:12-15)
  • Stay away from frauds (6:13-19)

This is going to be my last sermon in the Proverbs series. Ryan will be preaching next week. My soon-to-be 12 year old grandson plays football and the only games I could make it to are played on Sunday. So Jo, Tami, and I will be leaving next Saturday, staying the night, then watching him play on Sunday at noon. So Ryan has graciously said he would preach for me.  He will finish the series using Proverbs 3: 1-8.

One more note: I started a post here on Tips which came from a book called Being There. I’ll include the second installment next week. That way my millions of readers will have a chance to read and comment.  🙂 🙂 🙂

 

 

Tips

Written by cycleguy on September 18th, 2018

Not restaurant tips but helpful tips. Further explanation: I just finished a book by David Furman entitled Being There. David lives with a chronic nerve disease so he was passing along what it was like and also how we as friends and followers of Christ can just “be there” for people. One chapter was titled Whatever You Do, Don’t Do These Things.  He gave a list of 10 infamous things to remember when trying to help/minister to those who are hurting.

He introduces the tips with a story. I’ll abbreviate it. Two pilots were landing in a small city and accidentally touched down at a much smaller private airport seven miles away from their intended destination. They barely survived a crash landing. During their approach they were in touch with the control tower and were told they were 15 miles away from their target.  They responded they had their target in sight and were going to land.

Upon landing they had to stomp on their brakes extra hard to avoid going over a ledge, and nearly crashed the plane. They admitted to being shocked at their mistake and told investigators that they saw the lights of the airport in front of them and so they landed there. They honestly thought it was the right airport!

How crazy is that story? But it lends itself to what David is about to tell us.  It doesn’t matter how sincere you are if you are landing in the wrong place. We can be really sincere in trying to help people but saying and doing the wrong thing can be (or should I say “is?”) bad. It can be devastating to the hurting person. Okay…so what are his 10 “laws?” I’m going to split the 10 into 2 posts so as not to overwhelm or go too long.

#1. Don’t be the Fix-it Person.  Don’t be the person who offers unsolicited advice or unsolicited medical “miracles” to the person who is hurting. Don’t you think they have tried about everything already? I’m sure if they are seeking to be free from the chronic pain they have gone to a ton of doctors and have probably tried every homegrown recipe there is. Instead of advice, ask questions to understand them and their situation better.

#2. Don’t Play the Comparison Game.  When you talk to people don’t try to compare their sickness, pain, illness to yours or someone else. Your occasional gout flare-up is nothing like the pain from chemo. Your granny’s (from your third cousin removed) illness is not the same. Don’t compare the person with yours or anyone else.  Above all…don’t start with “At least”…they are better off or something cockeyed like that.

#3.  Don’t Make it Their Identity.  In other words, every time you see or talk to that person don’t ask them about their illness or their bank account or whatever it is that has them in pain. Don’t make that their identity. In fact, sometimes it is best just not to bring it up. Maybe a slight mention when it arises but stay away from identifying them with the illness or pain.

Okay…I’m going to stop there. This is getting way too long. I’ll continue with the next post. Hope these help.

 

Nostalgia#3

Written by cycleguy on September 16th, 2018

When I was first introduced to Christian music it was in high school but it was “old” stuff. When I went to college I was introduced to Gospel Quartet music and since that was all I knew (other than my “secular” bands) that was what I listened to. I graduated from college in 1974 and for a few years listened to more “oldies” rock and roll. But in the later half of the 70s I heard of bands like Resurrection Band (Rez Band), Darrel Mansfield, Sweet Comfort Band, and others.  But there was one band which struck my fancy. The first time I heard them I was hooked.

Their album Straight On was played over and over (by LP and cassette). Remember those?  🙂 The ensuing years brought Stella This Ain’t Hollywood; a Double Live album and multiple others. The two founders were friends since 1st grade. They grew up in Memphis and loved rock ‘n roll music. Their conversions to Christ gave them the motivation to make “another kind of music.” Music with meaning.

Eddie DeGarmo and Dana Key were the brain-masters of DeGarmo and Key, one of the pioneers of Christian rock. After a run of over 20+ years of making music together, they chose to make solo projects. One of Dana’s most heart wrenching songs was his song to Eric Clapton following Mr. Clapton’s song, Tears in Heaven. Dana’s song was simply titled Dear Mr. Clapton.  On June 6, 2010 Dana died of a ruptured blood clot at the age of 56.  Tragically his wife died a couple years later at the age of 52.

My song of nostalgia is one DeGarmo and Key’s early songs. But it stands as #3 on my hit list. I never tire of hearing it. I love the lesson it teaches. I love the imagery it presents of the Christian race being a long distance run. I know many of you don’t/won’t like this song, maybe because “I don’t like rock music.”  But all I ask is that you give it a listen. You will be surprised at the lyrics and that it is easy to listen to.

Here is Long Distance Runner by DeGarmo & Key. Sorry I couldn’t find it the lyrics but I think they are pretty clear.

 

Control

Written by cycleguy on September 14th, 2018

As not in…being a control freak.

BUT

As in losing control…

As in anger management…

As in flying off the handle…

You get the drift. Sunday’s sermon is entitled “Don’t Lose Control!”

There are times when anger is valid. But we also know there have been times when anger is nothing more than a selfish reaction to something not going our way rather than a justified response. Proverbs says a lot about anger and losing control.

“Fools have short fuses and explode all too quickly; the wise quietly shrug off insults.” 12:16 (MSG)

“Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.” 12:18

“Short-tempered people must pay their own penalty. If you rescue them once, you will have to do it again.” 19:19 (NLT)

Ephesians 4:27 is the coup de grace of verses. As I said, there are time anger is valid but way too often it is nothing more than a “flash” or heated response to something that happens or something said. As I was studying for this message a phrase came to mind, a little catch-phrase. I’d like to say it was my idea but who knows?  I’m sure someone else has thought of it.

DON’T NURSE; REVERSE!

“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” 29:11

I like what someone said: “You can’t put your foot in your mouth when it is closed.”

And finally. My prayer? “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Ps.141:3) The New Century Version (NCV) puts that verse this way: “Lord, help me control my tongue; help me be careful about what I say.”

 

Disappointment

Written by cycleguy on September 11th, 2018

We all have our share of disappointments. Some have more than others and they run the gamut of examples.

Disappointment for a grade lower than I thought.

Disappointment for being passed over for a promotion.

Disappointment in losing the big game.

Disappointment in one of our children making wrong choices (although we don’t stop loving them).

The list goes on and on. I’m guessing there is a different disappointment for every person who might read this.

So when I write about my disappointment it might seem sort of silly. Juvenile. Frivolous even. So be it. We just had some folks come back from Disney World (Florida).  I can guarantee they would have been disappointed if their trip, planned for close to 6 months and costing them some hard-earned money, was not all they had hoped. Fortunately, it was and their three children can attest to that. When you work and plan and work and plan then work the plan and it is not what you thought disappointment is sure to set in.

I’m disappointed. The MS ride I had planned for; raised money for ($800 thank you everyone); trained for and have been looking forward to was canceled. There was a good reason, obviously, or they wouldn’t have canceled it. It is called M-O-N-S-O-O-N. That’s right…a monsoon. I know. I know. Indiana doesn’t have them. Oh yes we do! Especially when Hurricane Gordon decides to send his remnants to the Midwest.  It started raining Thursday night/Friday morning sometime  and eventually developed into that monsoon I spoke about. By the time Jo & I had driven to Indy; picked up Dave (who flew in from Arizona); and made it to the MS kick-off site, they had already canceled it. Friday. The ride was Saturday. Disappointed yes. Wise decision? Most definitely. It would have been totally stupid to ride in the driving rain and on the slick roads. We received somewhere (I heard) between 5-12″ of rain.  I don’t know. What I do know is it was wise to cancel. Not only does the pavement get slick, the lines get like ice. There was a potential for devastating wrecks.  And trust me when i say riding in the rain in wet cycling clothes is no picnic. In fact, it just might give new meaning to “Ride from (you know where).”

So…for all of you who gave toward my ride. Thanks. The money still went to the MS Society. For all of those who prayed for a safe ride. Thanks. It was better being safe than sorry.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though. Sun too. 🙂 Dave has asked me to come to Arizona to ride in the MS ride that takes place in Phoenix this coming March. If we can swing it, I plan to do that.

I’m a firm believer there is a purpose and meaning in all of God’s workings. One of these days I’m sure I will see His reason for this disappointment.

 

 

Nostalgia#2

Written by cycleguy on September 9th, 2018

Last week I decided I would do a short blog series on my Top 5 songs of all time. My #1 song of all time is Crystal Blue Persuasion by Tommy James and the Shondells. Floyd was not surprised (see comments).  🙂  I guess I’ve written about him quite a bit for him to know.

My #2 song is another one which does not seem to fit the times I grew up in. I was born in 1952 so that means my teenage years were during the ’60s. I graduated from high school in 1970 so my high school years were smack dab in the middle of the “peace, love, sex” era. Woodstock. Haight Ashbury. Black Power. Drugs. LSD.  A whole host of other recognizable markers. But it was the music which set it apart from previous generations.

Before those formative high school years music was different. I can remember a classmate named Chuck. In 8th grade he listened to The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Four Tops and others. Come 9th grade his musical tastes had changed to rock and the early psychedelic music.  Definitely a 360. But I hadn’t quite latched onto the new music…not yet. That’s where my #2 song of all time comes in at.

There was this group made up of 4 singers. One guy, though, had a really unique voice. Once they hit it big with songs like Dawn (Go Away) and Sherry that voice was never mistaken. In fact, every recording had a signature: “Featuring the sound/voice of Frankie Valli.” I liked the 4 Seasons…still do. I still listen to them. But this one song hit me the first time I heard it and never left. I listened to it over and over (I’m sure my mom got sick of hearing it). I wore out the 45 (remember those?). Then I wore out the album it was on. Even today, I never get tired of hearing it. It featured Frankie’s tenor but not his falsetto voice.

Here is my #2 song of all time. Hope you enjoy it and maybe it will even bring back memories.

 

SayWhat?

Written by cycleguy on September 7th, 2018

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” So says Proverbs 18:21.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” How ridiculous is that?

Oswald Chambers once wrote: “The great test of a man’s character is his tongue.

“A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.” (Ben Franklin)

All sorts of thoughts about our speech.  All from different sources but all are rather telling. The words we use affect others. Here is another: “I tell you, on the Day of Judgment people will give an account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.” Jesus in Mt.12:36-37

Much of the strife in our families, offices, churches, dorms, schools, and our nation can often be traced back to our words. Gossip has sent whole churches into meltdown. It can destroy morale at work. Ill-timed or angry words can send a team or player into a tailspin.

James talks about the tongue and says, “Can salt water and fresh water come from the same source?” It is quite damaging to our witness when our tongue is out of control. This Sunday (as I bet you can guess) my sermon is about the power of words. I’m going to do a contrast by showing:

The Power of Words-Used Wrongly

and

The Power of Words-Used Correctly

 

The story is told of a woman who complained to a Puritan pastor about the clerical bands he wore with his robe. Saying they annoyed her greatly because they were too long, she asked his permission to shorten them.  He quietly acquiesced and handed her the offending bands. Armed with her scissors, she shortened them according to her tastes and handed the fragments back to him. Unruffled, he thanked her and said, “Now, my good woman, there is something about you that is altogether too long that has annoyed me greatly. And since one good turn deserves another, I would like permission to shorten it.”

“Certainly,” she said, “you have my permission and here are the scissors.”

Whereupon the wise pastor said, “Very well, madam, put out your tongue.”

‘Nuff said.

 

Test

Written by cycleguy on September 5th, 2018

Although I don’t subscribe to everything in his books, my favorite of the ones he wrote was Wild at Heart. I’m speaking of John Eldredge and what became his seminal book. He had a statement that became a mantra for many men, me included, for a long time.

Every man has a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.

The beauty to rescue is easy for me. It is Jo.  She is my #1 priority.

It is the other 2/3 of that equation which is my challenge.

I fight a daily battle with sin. Since I live on Planet Earth; I am a man i.e human; I am a sinner. True…a sinner saved by the merciful and powerful grace of Jesus, but a sinner nonetheless. I will battle my flesh til the day I breathe my last breath. (I don’t believe in sinless perfection here on earth).  Ephesians 6 is clear that my battle is “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (6:12 ESV).

Every man has an adventure to live. It is easy to settle in. No excitement. No adventure. No challenge. While I love what I do as a pastor, I also realize there is “another part of me” that wants a challenge. I know not all men feel this way. Some are content…way content. I am content to a point. I love Jo. I love my girls, son-in-law and grandson. I love my brothers and their families. But those don’t count in the contentment scale.  Neither does loving what I do.  Some men hunt. Some fish. Some build things. Some snow or water ski. Some play competitive basketball or another sport. Me? I cycle. I love the challenge of climbing a hill (even if it is super slow). I love sweating. I love the euphoria of coming down a hill much faster than I went up. I love the tired feeling when I am done. It is a good tired.  I love it when my legs are toast after a ride and “toasty” for the rest of the day.

Maybe that is why I am challenging myself with the MS150 this coming Saturday. But I do know it was the reason I got up early to have my Quiet Time on Monday (a holiday) before I headed for Linton, IN on my bike. It was 15 miles of hill after hill. Then it got flat about 1/2 way through, but the 9 mph wind was against me for the next 15 miles.  It was a test. A challenge I wanted to take. Jo stayed with me as she followed me in my truck. And if the truth be known…it was for her too. I wanted her to be proud of me (it’s a man thing trust me).

I finished the 30.9 miles in 2:15. The heat index had climbed to 85+ by then (10:30) so I called it a day. I do have some sense about me still. 🙂 🙂  In my head, I passed the test. And yes…I was proud of that. We did go out to eat and then I took a nap in the afternoon. On purpose.  But it was good.  I could wax spiritual about all of this. But why? I found out something about myself…and the God to whom I prayed for strength. We did it.

YES…WE DID IT!