#Legalism#Deadliness

Written by cycleguy on August 13th, 2021

Only someone who has grown up or been a part of legalism can truly understand its draw.

There are three ways of looking at the Bible.

Progressive “Christianity” (PC)– I use that term loosely because I am not convinced it is Christianity at all. PC takes a very open approach to the Bible and the things of God.

Legalism– the other end of the spectrum from PC. Legalism takes a very closed approach-not in the areas of inerrancy and accuracy of the Scriptures-but in the way God’s Word is followed.  Wanting to follow God’s Word is admirable, but in legalism’s case, it is taking it to an extreme and thinking, “Unless you see it my way there is no hope for you.”  It is the old adage: “Us four, no more, shut the door” type of thinking.

My sermon Sunday is going to explore that topic deeper. Using Mark 7:1-23 and Jesus’ confrontation/words with the Pharisees, I intend to show how legalism is dangerous and also life-sucking.  I would love to have you join us in person or live (whichever floats your boat). 🙂  One thing I do need to say if you plan to watch it on the live stream: due to a scheduling conflict of the two who are steady about streaming the second service, WE WILL ONLY BE STREAMING THE 9:00 SERVICE. Sorry for the inconvenience. You can still watch it at 10:45 or any other time.

I hope you will join me one way or the other.

That third way? The Bible is the inerrant, unchanging Word of God. True. Trustworthy. Completely accurate in its original languages. God’s written Word as He “spoke” it to the writers who wrote it down in their words.

 

#Rejected#Can’tGoBack

Written by cycleguy on August 7th, 2021

In the late 60s, pop singer, Tommy James (who happens to be my favorite)  recorded a song called Smoky Roads. He was writing about returning home which included the lyrics: “I came back to take a look at my childhood/ But all I found was a big stack of firewood/And a whole bunch of people I don’t even know.”

I felt that way when I went back. Things changed. I graduated high school 51 years ago (that is 1970 to save you from trying to figure it out). 🙂 I never went back for a class reunion. Besides the distance, I was never fond of high school and had few friends. Things changed. The town changed. After the steel companies went under from the recession in the mid 70s (which was a depression in that area), much of what I knew became like a ghost town. Shops closed up. Steel mills shuttered. I have told myself I can’t go home, unless I want to see my two brothers who still live near Pittsburgh.  (I used to go back to watch the Pirates play but that’s another story).

The sermon Sunday is about Jesus going home to Nazareth and how “a prophet is without honor in his own country” sure played itself out for Him. I’ve titled the sermon What Can I Expect? and have two thoughts I will share: I can expect rejection and I can expect certain realities.  Mark 6 is where I will be preaching from.

I would be honored if you would join us in person or online.  If you can do neither your prayers would be much appreciated.

I’m sorry this is posted so late. We made a trip to Ohio on Wednesday and came back home Friday. I had grass to cut when I got back so my time to post this was limited.

 

#OOPS#RePost#SheGetsIt

Written by cycleguy on August 3rd, 2021

My deepest apologies to all of you who tried to access the post yesterday and found a big, huge blank.  In order to correct my “technologically-challenged” abilities, (or maybe FB not allowing it to be reposted because it’s not “woke” enough. I’ve been reading Owen Strachan’s book Christianity and Wokeness and I have even less tolerance for that doctrine of the devil than before. I’d say I’m sorry about that comment but I’d be lying. What does that one commercial say: “Sorry but not sorry”? Yeah, that would be me at this point), I’ll give you a written version of what was said.

The picture was of Sydney McLaughlin with an American flag and flowers and a gold medal hanging around her neck. The following are the words written by her Coach William B:

“This 21 year old is now the only woman in history to run under 52 seconds in the women’s 400-meter hurdles and one of the preeminent faces of the new generation of track and field athletes. Sydney McLaughlin set a new world record and received the gold medal. Her words reflect her faith as she boldly said, “Records come and go, the glory of God is eternal.” And “I no longer run for self-recognition, but to reflect His perfect will that is already set in stone. I don’t deserve anything. But by grace, through faith, Jesus has given me everything.”

It is my understanding that she runs for the Gold against her chief rival tonight. May I suggest you Google her name? You will find out what you need to know about her there. She sounds like one phenomenal young lady.

From the previous post:

Now THIS is what it is all about. I, personally, have not watched one second of the Olympics because of all the political c_ _ p (you can fill in the word) that is going on. Kneeling before a soccer match. Turning a back during the National Anthem. Crossing the arms during a photo op. Sad that our world, and that games which were supposed to bring unity and sportsmanship,  have turned into political statements.  If the “O’s” continue like this, I will be hoping they go the way of the dodo bird. All this “woke” garbage is frying me. (You want to know how I really feel?)

 

#RealAthlete#SheGetsIt!

Written by cycleguy on August 2nd, 2021

Now THIS is what it is all about. I, personally, have not watched one second of the Olympics because of all the political c_ _ p (you can fill in the word) that is going on. Kneeling before a soccer match. Turning a back during the National Anthem. Crossing the arms during a photo op. Sad that our world and that games which were supposed to bring unity and sportsmanship have turned into political statements.  If the “O’s” continue like this, I will be hoping they go the way of the dodo bird. All this “woke” garbage is frying me. (You want to know how I really feel?)

More power to people like Sydney!

I apologize for the screen shot. I was unable to clean it up so it is shown as it was sent to me.

It has come to my attention that the screenshot was not accessible. Please tune in tomorrow for the words and a description of this deleted screenshot.  Sorry for the misunderstanding. Blame it on my “technologically-challenged” abilities. They, as you can tell, have much to be desired.

 

#PowerOverStorms#PowerOverEvil

Written by cycleguy on July 30th, 2021

My sermon title for Sunday’s sermon is “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet!”  When I first thought of that title, and then decided to use it, several thoughts came to mind. 

My first thought was the 1974 song by Bachman Turner Overdrive by that title.  If you know that song I bet you now have it playing through your head. You’re welcome. 🙂

My wandering and wondering mind wanted to know more so I looked up what it meant.  Idioms by Free Dictionary defines it as meaning, “Someone has only glimpsed or experienced the beginning of something that will become even more exciting, impressive, or important.”

Further investigation showed me that it was popularized by All Jolson’s aside in the 1927 movie The Jazz Singer when he said, “You ain’t heard nuttin’ yet!”

Well…you get my point. Looking at the life of Jesus each week in Mark (this is week #4) has revealed some miracles and fascinating encounters, but as the title says, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet!” This week reveals two of the most powerful and meaningful miracles Jesus performs: calming the sea in Mark 4 and casting the demons out of the Gadarene demoniac in Mark 5.

These two miracles will lay down some powerful truths which still stand today and will help us as we face our daily world. Join me please in person- if you are able- and live stream if not. We have services at 9 and 10:45.

 

#Listen#ListenFirst#ListenMore

Written by cycleguy on July 23rd, 2021

A man consulted a doctor and told him his wife was going deaf. “I ask her what we are having for dinner and she doesn’t answer.”

“Bring her in,” the doctor said, “I’ll examine her.”

So the man brought his wife in. The doctor had her stand fifty feet away. He said to the man, “Go ahead and ask her what’s for dinner.”

“Hey honey,” he said, “what’s for dinner?”

Next, the doctor had the woman stand forty feet away.

“Hey, honey,” the man said, “I said, what’s for dinner?”

After going through this routine several times, the doctor finally had her stand five feet away.

“Hey, honey,” the man said, “for the sixth time, I said, what’s for dinner?”

The wife looked at the doctor then back at her husband. “And for the sixth time, I said, spaghetti!”

The man thought his wife had the hearing problem, but he was the one with the problem.  Sometimes we can be so sure of ourselves, so sure of something that we are hearing or not hearing, that the real message does not get through.

I don’t need to tell you how true that is when it comes to listening to a message/sermon or advice or to resolve a conflict.  We are so sure of ourselves that we hear but don’t really “hear.” That is especially true when we have to have the first word, the middle word and the last word.

Mark 4 is filled with teaching by Jesus that we need to listen to. My initial title was Listen First, Talk Second but after working on it I decided to change it to just LISTEN!  I would love to have you join me this Sunday if you can be here in person. If not, please check it out as we live stream both our services on YouTube or the church’s FB page.  And as always…if you can’t join either, your prayers would be most appreciated.

 

#Pressure#Kitchen

Written by cycleguy on July 16th, 2021

President Harry S. Truman is credited with saying one of the most iconic statements made:

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

He reportedly said that in July of 1942 when a member of his war contracts investigating committee objected to his strenuous pace. That saying was his response to that man’s words.

Living with pressure is part of life. Sports. Job. Church. Home. Even leisure brings its own pressure to the table. No one worth his or her salt will go through life without some pressure applied.  Jesus was no different.  He lived His whole life under pressure and scrutiny of those who wanted to see Him fall.  Whether it was the outcast who needed Him in some way; the religious leaders who wanted to pressure Him for His beliefs and practices; his family, or even the seriousness of what He taught, Jesus lived with pressure.

Mark 3 is a perfect example of the type of pressure Jesus faced, all while deciding He would stay in the kitchen. My sermon this Sunday is from that Scripture. I’d like to encourage you to read ahead if you plan to join us in person or via live stream.  And even if it is neither, it still won’t hurt you to read Mark 3. 🙂

 

#Change#Essential#Jesus

Written by cycleguy on July 9th, 2021

Change is essential. Albert Einstein is credited with saying,

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

While his authorship of that quote is questioned, and is actually linked to someone within the Al-Anon organization, it is still true!  Change is essential, but not always easy.

Some changes are easier to make than others. Moving from one house to another is seen as a positive move. As a pastor, my family has seen its share of moves, but other than the trauma of moving from one school to another, each move-for the most part- was seen as a positive one. But in many churches change is anathema. From changing the type of music and songs; from pews to chairs; liturgy to more of a free expression; or the order of service, change gives some people serious heartburn.

Three words stand out me unequivocally:

JESUS CHANGES EVERYTHING.

Mark 2 is a chapter of changed lives-physically and spiritually.  My sermon Sunday morning is from this chapter. I would love to have you join us in person or on our live stream. If not, prayers are appreciated.

 

#LetFreedomRing#GuestBlog

Written by cycleguy on July 5th, 2021

I read the following blog this morning (Monday).  It is from the Church & Culture blog of James Emery White, Pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church.  I thought you might enjoy reading it. Meanwhile, you might to also check out his website where you will find other blogs. Here you go:

On the 4th of July, I’m always reminded of times I’ve traveled in countries where freedom is severely curtailed. Or where the people have been freshly freed from the chains of injustice, and the joy of their release was palpable.

I was in Johannesburg on the 10th anniversary of the end of apartheid.

I was in Korea when the border between North and South was electric with tension.

My most powerful memory came from Moscow, where I was teaching shortly after the fall of communism. 

One night a group of us went to the famed Bolshoi Ballet. It was a long, wonderful evening, and after we took the subway back to where we were staying, the students said, “Come and let us celebrate.” The other two professors with me were as tired as I was, but the students were so intent on our joining them, that we went. 

And then we found out what celebration meant to them. 

They wanted to gather in the dining room and sing hymns and worship God. And we did, late into the night, with more passion and sincerity than I have ever experienced. It didn’t matter that we didn’t know how to sing in Russian—we worshiped God together.

But I went to bed puzzled. I had never seen such passion for spontaneous and heart-filled worship. I was curious as to why they were so ready and eager to offer God love and honor. I received my answer the following Sunday when I was invited to speak at a church in North Moscow. A former underground church that met in secret (as so many churches had been), they were now meeting openly in a schoolhouse. I had been asked to bring a message that Sunday morning. 

I didn’t know that I was in for a bit of a wait.

The service lasted for nearly three hours. There were three sermons from three different speakers, with long periods of worship between each message. 

I was to go last. 

When it was over, I talked a bit with the pastor of the church. I was surprised at not only the length of the service, but the spirit and energy of the people. Throughout the entire three hours, they never let up. In spite of the length of time, they never seemed to tire. Even at the end, they didn’t seem to want to go home.

“In the States,” I said, “you’re doing well to go a single hour before every watch in the place starts beeping.” (This was before smart phones.) He didn’t get my weak attempt at humor, but he did say something that I will never forget.

“It was only a few years ago that we would have been put in prison for doing what we did today. We were never allowed to gather together as a community of faith and offer worship to God. And we are just so happy, and almost in a state of unbelief, that we can do this now – publicly, together – that we don’t want it to end. And not knowing what the future might hold for us here, we know that every week might just be our last. So we never want to stop. So we keep worshiping together, as long as we can.”

As I left, his words never left my mind. I thought to myself, “I will never think about worship the same again. I’ve been too casual about it, too laid back, taken it too much for granted. These people know what it’s about – really about – and because of that, they have been willing, and would be willing again, to suffer for it. To be imprisoned for it. To die for it. Because they’ve discovered that it holds that high of a yield for their life. It has that much meaning and payoff and significance. It matters that much.”

And it should matter that much to all of us.

Happy 4th of July.

James Emery White

Editor’s Note

This blog was originally published in 2013, and the Church & Culture Team thought you would enjoy reading it again.

 

#Disrespect#CelebrateFreedom

Written by cycleguy on July 4th, 2021

I posted this Thursday but then needed to post my sermon for Sunday so I decided to repost it for the weekend.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY TO ALL OF YOU!!

Every week since the pandemic started thousands of years ago, I have put out a weekly Midweek Message that is emailed to everyone on our list. The link is posted on the church’s website as well as our FB page.  It is also picked up by our local Chamber of Commerce and posted on their page.  It is-generally-an informative letter to the folks of OVCF about happenings at the church and in the community, and it was (and still is) my effort to stay in touch (since for so long physical touch and presence were impossible).  I wrote the following in this week’s Midweek Message. I share it with you.

As many of you know, I try really hard to avoid politics in person, and especially from the pulpit. In fact, I can promise you that nothing political will come from the pulpit. But with July 4th coming up this Sunday I would like to add some thoughts to this MM. The most recent display of disrespect given by an “athlete” sort of raises my ire a bit. A female hammer thrower, who may have been ticked off more because she placed 3rd (who really knows?), turned her back on the flag during the playing of the National Anthem and then placed a t-shirt over her head. That kind of disrespect does not sit well with me when several things are considered. One, we still live in the greatest country on the planet. This country isn’t perfect but it is still the best place to live. I sometimes wish those who threaten to leave if they don’t get their way, would. Let them go where they don’t even have the freedom to say what they are saying about the U.S. Second, their actions disrespect all those who served, gave up their families and even their lives, to give us the freedom we enjoy. Third, it says that all those who fought for our initial freedom in 1776 were misguided. It spits in the eye of great men like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and others who saw a new horizon for us. It puts down all the men and women who served. It says to all the great African Americans like Martin Luther King, Jr, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas and others that they wasted their time and efforts to make a difference. Fourth, if they are so disgusted by the USA why are they competing for a place in Olympic history? As I post this, the protestor is trying to back pedal and rationalize. Hmmmm. This July 4th I hope you will take the time to celebrate living in a land of freedom. Are we perfect? No, of course not. Neither is the church, but I celebrate it anyway. Be proud of living in a free nation, made free by the blood of all races, colors and nationalities willing to serve and sacrifice.  Okay…off my soapbox. 🙂

The view expressed is mine and is not to be taken as speaking for OVCF, its leaders, or the staff.