#AvoidPanic#EscapeJudgment#BeReady

Written by cycleguy on October 1st, 2021

The story is told that Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist who made a fortune by inventing dynamite and other powerful explosives used for weapons.  Years later when Nobel’s brother died, a newspaper accidentally printed an obituary for Alfred instead. He was described as a man who became rich by enabling people to kill one another in unprecedented quantities. Shaken by this assessment, Nobel resolved to use his fortune to honor accomplishments that benefited humanity. Thus, he created the Nobel Peace Prize, among others.

I daresay very few of us get a sneak preview into how we will be remembered if we were to die today. But, if the truth be told, we tend not to be so concerned about it. We tend to be more concerned about the future.  The environmentalist is concerned about the state of the planet in the future. The secularist is concerned about the future of humanity. The follower of Christ is also concerned, but in a different way.  He is more concerned about future events, and in the long term, where he will spend eternity.

The idea of Jesus returning is on the minds of most Christ-followers, only in varying degrees. Some are rabid about it; some mildly interested; and some not at all. This week’s sermon, Mark 13, is on this very topic. I’m calling it Words for the Wise and my plan is to encourage us to look to the future but not lose sight of the present.  I look forward to you joining me.

I close with a story I will use Sunday: Waiting to be interviewed for a job as a Morse code operator, a group of applicants paid little attention to the sound of the dots and dashes that began coming over the loud speaker. Suddenly, one of the applicants rushed into the employer’s office. Soon he returned smiling. “I got the job” he exclaimed.

“How did you get ahead of us?” the others asked.

“You might have been considered if you had not been so busy talking that you did not hear the manager’s coded message,” he replied.  The message said, “The man I need must always be on the alert. The first one who interprets this and comes directly to my private office will be hired.”

You can apply it.  Hope to see you Sunday!

 

#SomeGaveAll

Written by cycleguy on September 24th, 2021

I cringe as I write this:

On May 19, 1992  Billy Ray Cyrus released a song from an album which became the #1 album for the year. This same album contained a mega hit, that song about somebody’s “achy breaky heart.” Among the silliness, though, was a song called “Some Gave All” and he was criticized by some as writing a “war song.” Seriously? It was a tribute to the men and women who served our country and to those who gave their all.  The chorus of the song is one worth remembering: “All gave some, some gave all/Some stood through for the red, white and blue/And some had to fall/And if you ever think of me/Think of all your liberties and recall/Some gave all.”  Those who know me would be shocked that I referenced a country song since I listen to very little-like zero-country music today. But the message of that song should cross every musical barrier.

I am preaching this week on Mark 12 and to be totally honest, it left me exhausted as I tried to narrow it down to a few succinct points. After a lot of work and “playing around” with the chapter, I think I finally found it.  I am going to be all “preacherish” and use three main points (I usually stick to two). Here they are:

I. The Cornerstone (verses 1-12)

II. The Creed (verses 28-34)

III. The Coin (41-44)

Each of the main thoughts find their root in the Scripture indicated. It will easy to follow along if you would like to join us. As you can gather my sermon will be called “Some Gave All” but it will not focus on the political aspect at all. It will, however, focus on how each thought zeroes in on giving all.

I would love to have you join me in person or via live stream.  If not, prayer would most certainly be appreciated.

 

#TrueWorship#TrueFaith

Written by cycleguy on September 17th, 2021

I’m coming close to finishing my series on Mark-The Servant King. The final 5 sermons will cover chapters 11-16. This week’s message begins what is often called “Passion Week” found in chapter 11.

I’ve decided to divide this chapter into 2 sections: True Worship and True Faith.

The first includes Jesus as He rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. I’m going to include a quote from a man by the name of Steve Lambert which shows the difference between Jesus entering Jerusalem and Mohammad entering Mecca. Since it a bit long for this post, I’m going to begin next week with it. I hope you will make your way back here to see that quote.  Meanwhile, as Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the people were yelling Hosanna (which means “Save Now!”) and laying palm branches on the ground. Sadly, they were not praising Jesus because He was the Messiah. They were not pleading for salvation from sin but for blessing, prosperity, and deliverance from Roman rule.  I’ll let you make your own application to how that applies to today’s “religious” people.

The second is Jesus’ incident with the fig tree that had leaves but no fruit. It is not easily understood by many because it seems harsh. A tree with leaves but no figs. Why was it cursed to a life of never bearing fruit?  I hope to explain that during this part of the message.

Hudson Taylor, the great missionary of another time, once said,

God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on Him.

May our faith always be the kind that trusts and forgives like Jesus did.  Check us out Sunday in person or online at 9 and 10:45. I’d love to have you visit with us. If not, please pray.

 

#Post9/11#SundayPoints

Written by cycleguy on September 12th, 2021

I wasn’t lazy. Honestly. 🙂  And I wasn’t forgetful. (Although that is a possibility at times).

I was trying to honor the 9/11 moment in history. After my last post I wanted it to stay for few days.

So today, I would like to give you some insight into my sermon today (or yesterday) depending on when you read this. I preached from Mark 10 and has been the protocol I had to leave out some of the chapter. For someone who preaches 45-50 minutes they might be able to do it, but since I preach in the neighborhood of 25 minutes I have to be selective.  My title was “How to Avoid a Face Plant” and I suspect you can figure out that it has something to do with pride.  You would be right. Someone has said,

Pride is the only disease known to man that makes everyone sick except the person who has it.

Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes dishonor; But with the humble there is wisdom.”  We are familiar with the easy translation of Pr.16:18: “Pride goes before the fall.”

In Mark 10 Jesus gives us four lessons we need to learn:

  1. Adults shall become children. (13-19). Lesson: Salvation is for those who are like little children realizing they cannot save themselves, and must come seeking grace.
  2. The First shall be last. (17-31). Lesson: This young man lacked one thing: love for God. God is no one’s debtor. Those who are first in this world may end up last in the kingdom.
  3. Servants shall be rulers. (35-45). Lesson: Worldly people want power and authority to lord over others, but in the kingdom, greatness is measured by humility of service.
  4. The Poor become rich. (46-52). Lesson: The crowd has physical sight but spiritual insight. Bartimaeus had no sight but had deep insight.

I’ll leave the application to you. We can all use a bit more humility and a lot less pride.

 

#September9#September11

Written by cycleguy on September 9th, 2021

I am posting this early for several reasons.  On Saturday, 9/11, I will be taking part in the memorial service the town of Spencer will be having to remember the 20th anniversary of the attacks by cowards. But an even greater reason confronts me. Today, September 9th, is the 10th anniversary of the death of local soldier, Brett Wood, in Afghanistan. I did not know Brett. I know his brother, Nikk, who attends OVCF now. So I post this in honor of Brett and to remind you not to forget.

Even writing those words-that date- brings back haunting memories.

Planes hitting two towers. Papers falling. People dying.  Metal crumbling. Layers of smoke and dust and debris in the air and on people and cars. People digging. American flag waving on site, almost like a guardian and inspiration.

“Let’s roll.” Brave passengers. Todd Beamer. Rumors of the plane headed to the White House.  An empty field. Plane crashed. Crisis averted. Lives lost.

Pentagon. The “seat” of military power. A symbol of military might and genius. The hub of decisions. Fiery death. Walls breached.

A nation united against evil. For once. “God Bless America” sung by political rivals. A common enemy. Swift action. Swift reprisal. Manhunt. Finally got him (them).

9/11…Never forget. This is not a matter of forgiveness. This is a matter of remembering the fallen.  As of today, there are just under 3000 innocent lives gone.  Heroes who rushed burning buildings. People who went to work that day not having a clue. Some of them I will see someday. Some, sadly, thought they had more time. And a few consigned to hell where their vestal virgins do not await. Only tongues of fire.

Matthew 26…Never forget. A memorial feast set aside for a Savior to never be forgotten.  Paying the ultimate price. For me. For you.

LEST WE FORGET

“Father, the memories are fresh as flashbacks occur on this 20th anniversary of evil’s destruction. Thank You for Your faithfulness through it all. Giving hope and life to so many. And thank You for the cross. Help me to never forget.”

September 11, 2001 was part of the inspiration for Brett, and his brother, Nikk, joining the military. I am proud to be a part of a community that wants to honor their fallen. We had a memorial service this past Monday, Labor Day, to honor the 13 who died in Kabul over the fiasco that is Afghanistan.  The views expressed here are mine and not necessarily those of the church I pastor.

 

#Revelation!#Jesus

Written by cycleguy on September 3rd, 2021

I’m pretty sure that you, like me, have used some phrases with regularity. Phrases like “Things are not always as they seem.”  “Looks can be deceiving.” “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

Tragically, many of us do not see ourselves as we truly are. It’s a game we play with ourselves and with others.  I remember back in 2003 I visited the doctor and he was unhappy with my numbers. After seeing them I had to admit they were high. Too high. So was my weight. I weighed in at 233 pounds. Now, I’m 6’5″ so I can carry that weight(so I told myself). I was also lifting weights, almost daily at the local high school, so I was also pretty solid.  But what I didn’t see was the growing middle section of my torso. After all, when one looks into the mirror he doesn’t normally look at that; he/she looks at what they like. The doctor set me straight. Lose weight or go on meds. In two months I lost 20 pounds and my numbers came tumbling down. I liked it so well I dropped to 200 which is where I was in May of 2004 at a significant event in my life. (I also had no muscle since all I did was ride and never lifted a weight. But that is another story).

Point: I never saw myself as the doctor saw me.  I lied to myself that I was healthy because I was big and muscular. 

We do that same thing in our walk with Christ. It is much easier to hide behind the facade and pretend we are someone we are not or pretend we are more than we are. It is like we are living in a permanent cosplay performance.  The road to being like Jesus begins with realizing who Jesus is and then who He desires us to be.

My sermon Sunday is from Mark 9 where we find the great story of the Transfiguration and it ends with an appeal from Jesus to be like children. I’d like to invite you to join me this Sunday at 9 and 10:45 in person or live stream.  If you are unable to make it, would you mind saying a prayer for us please? Thanks.

 

#LawsFamily#Testimony

Written by cycleguy on August 28th, 2021

I’m not preaching this Sunday because Mike, Trisha, and Ryan Laws are our special guests.

I have been anticipating this for over 2 months. Mike donated his kidney to his son in order to save his life.  A perfectly healthy, 13 year old, soccer-playing teenage who in a matter of days found himself in the ICU because of a kidney disease is the basis for the Laws’ story. The foundation of it though is the faithfulness of God as they cried, trusted, sought answers, watched Ryan lay in a bed unable to respond, until finally both Mike and Trisha were tested as matches. They decided Mike would be the one to give his son new life. What greater father/son love story could you find? 

Oh yeah, there is one. God the Father giving up His Son on the cross for our salvation.

Please join us live at 9 and 10:45 as they tell their story, a testimony to God’s incredible love and faithfulness.

And BTW: Mike has been back at work and Ryan is back at soccer going full bore.  You gotta hear their story!

 

 

#Leadership#ChurchLessons

Written by cycleguy on August 26th, 2021

In my last post I featured Phil Cooke’s blog entitled Leadership Lessons from Joe Biden and Afghanistan.  At the end of that post I made a comment that I would apply it to church leadership. Here is my somewhat meager attempt at doing that. I am not a “Leadership Guru” by any stretch. I have weaknesses as a leader which I am aware of.  So please understand I am not speaking from a mountain of leadership expertise as though I am “the” leader. Far from it.  Here are my thoughts born out of my last blog:

1) Incompetent leaders can rise to remarkable heights. There is no question that many leaders “get there” riding on the coattails of several different things. Personality. Talent. Who-they-know. Just because they get wherever they are going doesn’t mean they are competent leaders.

2) Fantasy isn’t a leadership strategy. I had a dream once of being a pastor of a big church. Fantasy only as I soon found out. Reality: I wasn’t equipped for that nor gifted for that. I’m good with pastoring a church in a small town. I love the people here and this November, Lord willing, will start my 17th year. Living in a Disney fantasy world would have only left me high, dry, unfulfilled, and miserable.  Whoever said, “Reality s***s” has not lived in my world.

3) Leaders take the hits. Admitting I have been wrong seems to be the theme of my ministry. 🙂  I have been wrong so many times… if I could have received $1 for every time I was wrong and had to apologize, I could retire and live off the interest. Rats!  Should have started that jar a long time ago.

4) In a crisis, leaders must face the public. Back in January of 2011 I found out we had been embezzled to the tune of $200+ thousand. After telling the leaders and having a flash meeting with them, I went before the church family to inform them of the shortage. To say people were shocked, enraged, stunned (and any other adjective you can think of) would be an understatement. But it was the right thing to do. In my mind, it was the only thing to do.

5) Good leaders listen to advice. I won’t go into my thoughts on the arrogance of Mr. Biden not listening to his advisors. But many pastors don’t either. When it comes to important decisions which affect the whole congregation, I don’t make unilateral decisions.  There are two others on staff who are involved in helping to make decisions and if it is a major one, I take it to the elders.  I found out early on it is wise to listen to others…even if I may disagree.

6) Never forget that leaders who try to leave a legacy rarely do. The best legacy I can leave behind is that I was a follower of Jesus and loved Him with all my heart. The rest takes care of itself.  It is far too easy to try to please everyone if I am concerned with my legacy.

There you have my thoughts. Totally non-political. Thoroughly my thoughts.  Leadership is different. I used to think I was a great leader. No more. I am adequate at best. I still have so much to learn.

 

#Leadership#Afghanistan#Cooke

Written by cycleguy on August 24th, 2021

The following is an article by Phil Cooke on his blog.  He writes about leadership and other subjects on his blog at philcooke.com. I am including this article-not to make a political statement, but to make a leadership statement. Perhaps some good discussion can ensue in churches and among leadership about the way decisions are made and carried out.  Here is the article:

LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM JOE BIDEN AND AFGHANISTAN

The documentation of President Biden’s decisions surrounding the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan are now legion. But aside from the tragic results those decisions have created, it’s worth looking at what leaders could learn from this debacle. In coming years, we’ll have a chance to see much deeper into this situation and how much it tarnishes his legacy, but for now, here’s a handful of immediate reflections that leaders should consider:

1) Incompetent leaders can rise to remarkable heights. In 1972, 29-year old Joe Biden ran for Senate against Republican Senator Caleb Boggs. I was a senior in high school that year, so that’s a long time. And yet, Robert Gates, who worked with him and served as defense secretary for the Obama administration, has been quoted as saying that Biden has “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” Many of the changes he’s proposed so far in his presidency have made many ask why he hasn’t already accomplished these things over the last 40 years while in office. Never be caught off guard by poor leadership. In politics, business or the nonprofit sector, never think every high level leader deserves to be there or is capable of being effective.

2) Fantasy isn’t a leadership strategy. It’s well documented that Biden’s goal was to “bring the troops home” in time for the 20th anniversary of 9/11. That would have been a great victory and scored a lot of political points. But no matter how strong the fantasy, leaders must deal in reality. Ignoring better advice about a more thoughtful and realistic exit strategy, he chose the fantasy instead. It doesn’t matter if a leader’s fantasy is a new product launch, advertising campaign, fundraising strategy or anything else – reality is a brutal wake-up call.

3) Leaders take the hits. In spite of the overwhelming evidence, President Biden still hasn’t admitted he was wrong. It’s been a dark comedy watching members of his team like Secretary of State Anthony Blinken squirm during interviews trying to defend and support the president. But when a leader won’t admit a mistake, his entire team suffers trying to maintain the illusion. In far too many cases that only leads to disunity, frustration, and eventual splits in the team.

4) In a crisis, leaders must face the public. When the tragedy in Afghanistan began unfolding, Biden hunkered down at Camp David and it wasn’t until public criticism became overwhelming did he emerge from his vacation. But even then he refused to answer reporters questions, and immediately returned to his vacation (another big blunder). Only later did he respond to pre-approved questions. But during times of crisis, leaders must be available, candid, and open. For people to believe you’re in charge, you have to show up. Honesty and authenticity may be painful in the short term, but that builds trust far better than hiding.

5) Good leaders listen to advice. After the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, John F. Kennedy created the Executive Committee of the National Security Council whose express purpose was to openly debate issues surrounding national security. Kennedy realized the need to listen to all sides of an argument. President Lyndon B. Johnson actually designated an advisor to be his official in-house skeptic. The best business leaders are willing to listen to opposing ideas. Group-think is a massive mistake for leaders, and if you’re surrounded by yes-men and women, you’re headed in the wrong direction.

6) Finally, never forget that leaders who try to leave a legacy rarely do. A “legacy” isn’t something that’s manufactured, designed, or created. Numerous leaders have become obsessed with their legacy, but legacies are based on how others perceive you and your life’s work. So if you’d like to leave one, stop thinking about it and just get back to work.

I’m sure more lessons will unfold as time goes on, but the important lesson is that during moments of crisis, there is always something for leaders to learn. {End of post}

{My plan is to come back later this week to write about how these 6 lessons apply to pastors and churches. Please feel free to comment here or go to Phil’s blog and make a comment there. Please tell him I sent you}. 🙂  That, and just under a dollar, will buy you a fountain drink at Speedway gas stations.

 

#42

Written by cycleguy on August 23rd, 2021

Yes, that is Jackie Robinson’s uniform number, but this post is not about him (although he would be a very worthy subject for one).

No…sadly that is not my age.  You gotta add about 26 more years (soon to be 27) to catch me.

And no, that is not the amount of years Jo and I have been married. We passed that number many moons ago.  We actually celebrated 48 this past June.

Well…if you must know and can’t guess… 🙂 … today is my youngest daughter’s birthday. And I bet you couldn’t guess she turns 42!  I know.  Tough one wasn’t it?

We spent Friday evening with she and Mike at Texas Roadhouse (they have the best salmon) and got to see Braden, our grandson, play his first high school football game Saturday morning. Mike is her male friend, who is actually more than a friend.  She likes him…A LOT! We are happy for her. He treats her well. He did get me upset though this past Friday. We were waiting for her to get home from work and in she waltzes with a vase full of flowers.  I have carefully cultivated this “NO FLOWER” persona with Jo and here he goes and buys her flowers!  Sheesh! That is not the way to win friends and influence people. Nor is the way to win over your girl friend’s father to your side. 🙂 

Okay, truth be known…they were beautiful flowers. He is just going to have to stop doing things like that…at least when we are coming.  I heard several references to “he got her flowers” throughout the night. In all honesty, we like Mike (not Jordan but this Mike).  When her marriage of 15 years ended, we were concerned for what she would do (not drastic), but with her future. She continued to work and COVID sent her home to work. She found a place to move to after a year when her former husband had to move out of the school district. God opened a place for her that is much better than she had. Mike has settled her and given her back her dignity and peace.  They have now been dating for over a year.  I know he won’t read this but “Thanks Mike for doing that.” 

Only God knows what is in her future.  She is 42 and all a mom and dad can do is leave their adult children in the hands of the ONE who has always held her.  Happy Birthday Janna. I love you.