#SoberCycle#Review

Written by cycleguy on November 30th, 2021

I can count on one hand the good things I think that have come out of the pandemic of the past close to 2 years.  One was the church implementing a live stream. That was most definitely good because it was very much needed. The other is podcasts, as in, I started listening to them. I have always said that I have trouble listening and driving. So I listened to music almost exclusively.  After I started listening to podcasts I had to change my tune. I figured out the reason why I could listen to them: they were not sermons.  Sermons are by nature one-sided so my mind wandered. Not so with most podcasts.  Honestly, I no longer listen to some of the podcasts I started with.  Some got too complicated. Some too business-oriented. Some too large-church oriented (I’m a pastor of a church in a small town so no relevancy there).

But one I have continued and consistently listened to is Bleeding Daylight hosted by Australian Rodney Olsen. I first “met” Rodney when we crossed paths while blogging.  We also had something in common: he was  a cyclist. Anyway, Rodney’s podcast is his interviews with various people who have overcome challenges and “kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.”  Like all interviews, some kept my rapt attention and some I lost interest in. One of the most recent featured a woman by the name of Sherry Hoppen from Hudsonville, MI.  Sherry’s story is one of addiction to alcohol.  It kept my attention from start to finish, not because I have an issue with it (I have never had a drink), but because I have some I know who do.  It was for them I listened; it was for them I was blessed.

Sherry has written a book chronicling her journey in a much more in-depth way than the podcast could do.

Sober Cycle: Pedaling Through Recovery One Day at a Time

I confess that I am hesitant to review or even suggest a “self-help” book.  Most of them are of the “your best life now” genre. I loathe that approach. Life is a challenge; life is tough, and no amount of self-talk will get you out off that treadmill. But Sherry’s book is much more than self-help. It is a memoir of sorts.  It is a revealing book. It is a brutally honest book.  Since I have never had an issue with alcohol, I do not totally understand its grasp on people. Sherry enlightened me as to the struggle addicts face. I wanted to simply say to her, “Well, then walk away. Don’t drink” but it wasn’t that easy.  And to my friends here, I now have a better idea of what they are going through.

I gave my copy to my friend. I now have another. I know another friend who has one waiting for him when he comes out of rehab.  I have to admit that I was impressed by Sherry’s battle, but I was totally impressed by her husband, Craig, who stood by her through it all. I know many husbands (and wives) who would have walked out and away at the first sign of addiction, let alone stay with her for years as she struggled.  Kudos to Craig!

I must also tell you that Sherry’s hobby is cycling.  Her first real effort at getting free from her addiction was a bike ride from Michigan to Maryland.  But her addiction was so bad she even started the ride with a hangover. I’m telling you folks, you need to read this book. For yourself. For your friends. For your alcoholic friend or relative.  And then pass it along.

Oh, one more thing. Sherry’s ministry is called She Surrenders because that is what it took for her to finally get free. Surrendering daily to the lordship of Jesus.  I can’t speak highly enough of Sherry’s book.  You can order from her website (https://www.shesurrenders.com/ or if you prefer, Amazon.

 

 

#UnexpectedBirth

Written by cycleguy on November 26th, 2021

So it begins. The slow trudge toward the end of 2021. Actually, I have heard several say they will be glad 2021 will soon be over, and that 2022 has to be better!  I don’t know about that but I am trying to prepare myself for the month of December and Christmas.

For a good part of our 48 years of marriage I have largely been a dunce. That comes as no surprise to some, but I’m not talking mentally. It comes to the use of my hands, i.e. remodeling experiences. I was never afforded the experience as a young boy growing up to watch and learn so the use of my hands with tools is minimal. That isn’t saying I can’t do some things but if I have put forth any effort it has turned out second rate at best. That is why I like to watch shows like Fixer Upper. Big time dreamer I am. 🙂

When it comes to surprises some of the best things in life are surprises.  To know what one is getting for their birthday or Christmas is kind of a balloon deflator (yes I know that is not a word).  The best surprises are those which take us totally by surprise and are no where near what we thought. Could there be any greater surprise than the birth of Jesus? Even though it was foretold, very few knew or were expecting it.  That is my theme for the month of December: Expect the Unexpected.  This Sunday I have entitled my sermon THE UNEXPECTED BIRTH.  The Scripture is from Luke 1:26-35 and 46-55 and I’ll be looking at what came before His birth and what came after.

Please join us as we begin our celebration of Christmas. You can do that in person or online. If you can do neither, then please pray for us. 

 

#ActionstoWords

Written by cycleguy on November 19th, 2021

This Thursday we will celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving. Of all people, we who are Christ-followers must see and realize thanksgiving is much more than a national holiday where we get together with family and friends; eat gobs of food (way too much probably); park ourselves in front of a TV to watch a football game or two or three; and wile away the day as though it us just another day. In reality, it is just another day on a calendar, but it is a day which should remind us of something much greater: we have so much to be grateful for!

We do have much to be grateful for but we must also realize that gratitude is more than words; it also involves action. Words are useless unless they lead to sharing the gifts God has given us with others. One of the most firm statements of that truth is found in James 2. You know…that chapter that had Martin Luther thinking the book of James was a “book of straw.”

I will wrap up my 4 week series on Attitude Check this Sunday with a sermon I have titled “Putting Actions to Words.”  I will be using the 10 lepers as a lead in to gratitude but the bulk of the message will be looking at James 2: 14-26.

I invite you to join us this Sunday in person or online.  Next week I start a series around Christmas. (Go figure!) 🙂

 

#BlackHat#WhiteHat

Written by cycleguy on November 12th, 2021

Well…this is embarrassing. As I looked at last week’s post about the sermon I used the information from the sermon but used the wrong title. It was supposed to be Pictures Don’t Lie but instead I used this week’s title. So…I apologize for the mix up. This week’s message is really entitled Black Hat/White Hat. 🙂

Many of you are old enough to remember when it was easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys. We used to say, “The good guys wore the white hats.”  If they didn’t wear them (literally) ya knew who the good guys were. Lone Ranger. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Wyatt Earp. Palladin. Even Perry Mason.  That, of course, was before the switch in culture began to call bad good and good bad, before we began to praise wrong and before the start of sequel #100 left us hanging at the end of the season or movie.

This Sunday I want to take this idea of the white hat/black hat and apply it to gratitude.  You see, we have this innate penchant for pushing the envelope, for seeing how close we can to the cliff without falling off. As we look at gratitude there are two sides to it.  My plan is to look at the dangers of ingratitude (black hat)  and compare them to the delights of gratitude (white hat).

Please join us if you are able. You can do that in person (9:00 and 10:45) or online (same time). I’d love to have you join us. If you watch online (we stream to the church’s FB page and YouTube), would you please do me a favor? Just let us know so I can see who watches. If you can’t join us for whatever reason (attending your own church is a good one), please pray for us. I would appreciate that a whole bunch.

If you watch online, you can go to the church’s website for the links.

 

#Gratitude#PicturesDon’tLie

Written by cycleguy on November 5th, 2021

How do you know if you are a grateful person?  Because you say your prayers before you go to bed and say, “Thank You God for being with me today”? Is it because you say a prayer of thanks before your meal?

Truthfully, I want to say I am a grateful person. But how can I know? When you look into the mirror, and if you were to ask yourself, “Are you a grateful person” what would your answer be? How do you know?

I’m not trying to trick you with those questions. During this week’s sermon, which I have entitled Black Hat/White Hat (think old TV shows), I want to take a look at three characteristics of a grateful person.

A grateful person is transformed by Christ.

A grateful person is growing in gratitude.

A grateful person is dependent on God.

Obviously, I’m going to look at each one of these in a bit more depth. I invite you to join us in person if you can. If not, please join us live stream. If you can’t watch it “live” you can always go back to it another time during the week.  Thanks for praying for us.

 

#ThePivot#Gratitude

Written by cycleguy on October 29th, 2021

Would you agree that given the current state of our world we need something to hang our hat on?

I think that coat rack is gratitude. Gratitude reveals each person’s core-his priorities, his presuppositions, his understanding of God, and his ways.  Truth: our gratefulness to God and our indifference toward Him lays the line of demarcation between wisdom and folly.  I am calling that “The Pivot.”

When a basketball player is dribbling and needs to change direction he pivots. When a player gets a pass and faces the hoop or turns on a dime, he must have a pivot foot. It is a foot that is always grounded. To move both feet while in possession of the ball is a “travel.’ (Unless, of course, you are in the NBA. Then you can run about 5 yards with it then shoot or pass).

In our walk with Christ, our future swings on a well-oiled hinge or one that is rusty and grungy. Gratitude is either a well-oiled hinge or it is old and rusty. I think it can be said whichever one is used the most…gratitude or griping, gratitude or ungratefulness. You choose.

My sermon Sunday is the beginning of a 4-week series called “Attitude Check.” It, of course, will lead up to the Sunday following the Thanksgiving holiday. And I suspect you can already guess my title: The Pivot. Join me please as we study from I  Tim.1:12-15 and Deut.33:25.

We had a dead battery pack for the first service last week so the quality was not as good as it should have been so I apologize for the lag. But the pack had sufficiently charged for the second service. If you missed last week you can watch it on YouTube. Just look for the 10:45 heading. We will be ready to go this week! If you can’t join us, please pray for us.

 

#What’sNext?#Challenge!

Written by cycleguy on October 22nd, 2021

I think the older one gets the more a question enters the mind: Am I making a difference? Does my life count?  I suspect many of us fear living a life of ineffectiveness, ineptness, or with no direction.  While studying for this sermon I ran across several humorous quotes. One was

We should all be concerned about the future: because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there.

I finished the Gospel of Mark study this past Sunday and now we have to face the future. Jesus’ time on earth is done and there is only one last thing to do: commission and challenge His followers for what is next.  It is certainly more than “just go out and do whatever you want to do.”  He has tried for a little over 3 years to prepare them for what was ahead. Now what? What is next?

I will be completely closing the book on The Servant King series this Sunday with a sermon from Acts 1:1-11.  It is loaded with a commission to the apostles and a challenge to them to carry on His work. But He also gives specific instructions which they are to follow.

Join me please if you are able to.  If not, we will be doing it live stream at 9 and 10:45.  And by the way: if you were unable to join us at those times this past week, it was live streamed at 10:00. However, you can go to the church’s FB page or YouTube channel to watch it. You can find those links by going to the church’s website (ovcf.org) and finding the link right underneath the information about the sermon.

I hope you will join me in some way. If not, I always appreciate your prayers.

 

#Reminded#Present#Past#Future

Written by cycleguy on October 15th, 2021

As much as I hate to admit it, my memory is not what it used to be. That is part of aging I know. I’m being told to take some Gingko Biloba, or a product called Prevagen, or some other product which is supposed to sharpen my memory. I used to hardly ever forget a face, where I saw it, and the name that went with it. Well, those days are long gone. I pity those who have ADHD. How they concentrate long enough to do anything is far beyond my comprehension, but to ask them to concentrate long enough to remember peoples’ names seems like a form of torture.

It never hurts to be reminded of things.  God spent long chapters in Psalms reminding the Israelites what they were forgetting. In Mark 14 there are three events which Jesus uses to remind His followers some vital truths.

The woman who anointed Jesus’ head with oil. It was a reminder that extravagant acts of love will be public; they will be criticized; but they will also be remembered.

Observing the Passover was something the Jewish people were told to observe. It was to remind them of God’s faithfulness and protection.

The Last Supper is the forerunner to our observance of the Lord’s Supper. Communion not only looks back to Christ’s death, but also looks forward with eager anticipation to His coming.

Sunday the church celebrates her 17th anniversary. We will be meeting outside in our shelter and a tent. We plan to live stream so I hope you will join us in some way.  One of our elders will also be presenting some great news about our addition-some possible ideas we are pursuing. Then comes a pitch-in. Yum! (Oh, that’s Red Robin). Yum anyway. If you can’t join us please be in prayer for us. Half of our offering will go the Building Fund and half to Missions. I’m excited about the whole day. Lots of work but it will be worth it.

One more thing: it will be the final sermon in my sermon series on The Servant King from the Gospel of Mark.

 

#RandomThoughts#VaxxNoVaxx

Written by cycleguy on October 11th, 2021

I’m hoping this does not sound like a political statement or rant since this is not the time or place for that. However,  after speaking with someone last night about the “mandate” which has come down to his work and the lives affected by it, I’d like to add my .02 worth.

I am neither pro-vaxx or con-vaxx. It is my personal opinion that each person, each family, must decide what is right for themselves. And please don’t get me started or side-tracked on the whole stupid mandate-mask or vaxx-thing. Trust me when I say I have feelings about that. (Bet you didn’t know that! 🙂 )

I chose to get vaccinated. I had COVID as many of you know. It ravaged my body so that I lost 48 pounds in about 4 weeks time. After a couple of procedures cleared me from some things, it was decided I had gall stones blocking my bile duct. Two more procedures were needed to make things right. I feel God restored my health, although there are still some lingering long-haul affects. I chose to be vaxxed-not because I wanted to or even needed to (ever heard of antibodies?), but for another reason.

I chose to be vaxxed for other people. I wanted people to feel safe around me. I wanted them to know if I visited them in the hospital, nursing home, in their own home, on the street, and especially here at the church, that they could feel safe around me. Again, it was my personal decision and I will judge no one who is or is not, just as I will not judge over the wearing of a mask.  (Please don’t get me started on forcing young children to wear one. Okay…you twisted my arm…what a crock!)

Let’s turn this: When Paul wrote to the Corinthians in I Cor. 8, he would not abuse his liberty at the expense of others. In other words, for the sake of others, he would forego meat offered to idols.  “Hold the hamburger please” would have been his words. 🙂 

Jesus went to the cross-not for Himself-but for the sake of others. For me. For you.

What a great way to live! Living for someone else.  Perhaps we need to start asking ourselves the question, “Who am I living for?” What do you think?

This post is my opinion. This blog is mine. It is not stating the views of the church I pastor or the elders of the church. The opinions expressed here are strictly mine. 

 

 

#OldOldStory#GospelEssentials

Written by cycleguy on October 8th, 2021

Some of you may remember the old hymn with the following lyrics:

“I love to tell the story/Of unseen things above/Of Jesus and His glory/Of Jesus and His love/I love to tell the story/Because I know ’tis true/It satisfies my longing/As nothing else will do/ Chorus: I love to tell the story!/Twill be my theme in glory/To tell the old, old story/Of Jesus and His love.”

My sermon this morning is a bit out of order. Since next Sunday, the 17th is OVCF’s 17th anniversary, I am switching my sermons for the two weeks. Next week’s is from Mark 14: 1-31 and is entitled Let Me Remind You. This Sunday’s sermon is from Mark 14:43-16:15 and is entitled Tell Me the Old, Old Story.

It is going to be a recounting of the essentials of the Gospel:

Tell Me About the Trial

Tell Me About the Death

Tell Me About the Resurrection

It never hurts to hear the old, old story over again.  I’d love to have you join me in person. If not, then live stream will be where you will get a chance to look at my face. 🙂  Actually, it would be better to say, “Where you can join us in worship.” If not, then I’d appreciate your prayers.