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February 19

Monday, February 19th, 2024

“Like father like son.”

“Well…that fruit didn’t far too far from the tree.”

Those are both statements we use when speaking about how much like a father his son is. It could be his actions. It could be the way he thinks. It could be the way he reacts to situations. It could be the way he speaks. It could be his demeanor or even how he treats others.

And here’s the thing: sometimes its a compliment and sometimes it’s a putdown.

In the Old Testament, there is a father and son whose stories are different. The son’s fruit was nothing like his dad’s. If the dad was a peach tree, the son’s fruit was an apple. Strange, I know, but let me explain.

Saul was chosen to be the king and Jonathan was his son. Saul blew it…big time. Not once but twice actually. In I Samuel 13-14 we find the first instance. The Philistines were a thorn in the side of the Israelites. Samuel promised victory but Saul needed to wait 7 days for Samuel to show up and offer a sacrifice. The people of Israel were getting antsy and when Samuel didn’t show up Saul offered the sacrifice himself. That was a no-no. Just as Saul was done offering the sacrifice, Samuel arrived and reamed him out and told him he lost his kingdom (I Sam. 13:14).

Meanwhile, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were doing something phenomenal. They were freeclimbing a cliff to go against the Philistines with Jonathan’s words echoing into the valley: “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or a few.” (14:6).

Jonathan was aware he was next in line to rule the kingdom after Saul’s death. But he also knew David was God’s choice and was to be the next king. Jonathan gladly gave up his “right” and ambition for God’s plan with David.

A great story! And what proof that sometimes fruit falling far from the tree is a good thing.

For another story of Saul’s disobedience and foolishness check out I Samuel 15.ย  (All Scripture from the New Living Translation).


Friday, February 16th, 2024

There are two ways to coach someone. You can coach down. Or you can coach up. I’m guessing you are probably wondering what in the world I am talking about.ย  Real briefly: coaching up is a positive way to coach.ย  Look for signs of improvement. Look for signs of progress. To get to this week’s Scripture I would say read Colossians 3:1-4. To wrap up from last week:

  • We need to set our minds and hearts on things above. (v.1)
  • We need to reshape our perspective. (v.2)
  • We need to redefine our purpose. (verses 3-4).

Sadly, there is also a need to “coach down.” Let me explain. Coaching down in this instance means to “put to death” certain things. Verses 5-11 is a list of things Paul says we are to put to death. Here they are:

  • We are to put to death our sinful passions. (5-7)
  • We are to put to death our sinful practices. (8-10)
  • We must put to death our sinful pride. (11)

This Sunday’s message is Part 1 of Tough Challenges are Given. Pastor Ryan will be preaching Part 2 while Jo and I are gone. If you have a chance to visit, we would love to have you. If you are unable to join us in person, please check out our live stream. We meet at 9:00 and 10:45.

For another perspective on this sermon, please check out my other blog, Cycleguy’s Spin. You can link to it here.

February 8

Thursday, February 8th, 2024

Something to think about: Someone has said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

There is most definitely some truth to that. Proverbs 29:23 says, “Pride ends in humiliation, while humility bring honor.” When speaking to the proud and spiritually, self-righteous, arrogant Pharisees, Jesus said, “The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Mt. 23:11-12).ย  And, of course, I think most of us are familiar with the words “Pride goes before a fall.”

Humility is not an easy virtue to see, nor is it an easy one to manifest. One can’t go around saying or thinking, “I’m humble” because that defeats the whole thing. ๐Ÿ™‚ I read that the Hebrew word for humility literally means “being aware of and comfortable with your place.” I like that because it says, “Where I am, there I am. I’m content with my space and don’t want yours.”

In the book of Genesis we find the story of the tower of Babel. In 11:4 they say, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous (emphasis mine). It made them famous alright, just not in the way they thought or wanted. They should have stayed content in their space.

Today’s challenge: Don’t think less of yourself. Think of yourself less. See how it turns out and let me know.

{Note: All Scripture verses are from the New Living Translation}

February 1

Thursday, February 1st, 2024

I read a heartwarming story of a college basketball star (no name given) who stayed behind after the game to help with the clean up of empty cups and food wrappers. A fan posted a video and more than 80 thousand people viewed it. One person commented, “[The young man] is one of the most humble guys you will ever meet in your life.” It would have been more expected of that young man to go out and celebrate rather than to do clean up work.

That young man learned two words which are rapidly becoming non-existent in our culture: humility and service. And they go hand in hand. While beating the chest and wagging hands and fingers as though asking for and collecting applause are what is seen (and expected from the player), humility and service paint a different picture. While “thug-ball” and “stop-em-in-the-ground ball” and “how-much-money-can-I-make” ball is all the rage, off to the side is the humble one quietly doing his/her job with an attitude of a servant.

Oops, I said that wrong. I’m not allowed to call myself or anyone else a servant these days. It is demeaning. It is a slap in the face. It is misogyny. My one word response? Hogwash. It is not demeaning to be a servant. In fact, I’ll venture so far as to say we need it more now than ever.ย We have gone so far…down I might add…when we consider being called a servant is demeaning or any of the other adjectives you can use.

Me? I want that. After all, the One I gladly serve and call Lord, the Greatest Man who has ever lived or ever will live (Jesus) once said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Call me a humble servant. Please. There is no greater compliment.


Please don’t forget to check out my review of Granger Smith’s book Like a River at my other blog, Cycleguy’s Spin.

January 24

Wednesday, January 24th, 2024

I’ve been thinking…about forgiveness.

Forgiveness is an important aspect of everyone’s life, whether one is a Christ-follower or not. It comes into play seemingly in about every relationship we have. For the Christ-follower is it important to know we have God’s forgiveness. On the human side, it is important for us to either forgive or be forgiven.

One vitally necessary component of forgiveness with God or with another person is knowing unconditional forgiveness. None of us want to hear, “I’ll forgive you if…” We certainly feel unloved or, at best incompletely loved, if say a spouse says to a partner, “I’ll forgive you for the affair if…” or a father says to a child, “I’ll forgive you for the breach of conduct or break of trust if…” How disheartening that is! Why? Because that type of forgiveness has strings attached to it.

The story of the prodigal son is unusual because it is not the father who puts the conditions on the relationship, but the son. Check out the story in Luke 15. The son says, “I will go home to my father and say, ‘Father, I have sinned and am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as your hired servant.'” (Verses 18-19). Basically, the son says, “If I do this and this then…If I show adequate repentance, become a servant then maybe my dad will forgive me.” It wasn’t the father but the son who put conditions on his love and acceptance. And what happens? The son doesn’t even get out his whole spiel before the father is bending over backwards to forgive and welcome him home and basically say, “My son! Welcome home!”

Do you see it? The father (God) is not the one with the conditions.ย  It is the son who hamstrung himself. How many times have we not seen and accepted God’s complete and absolute forgiveness because we don’t think we are good enough or done enough or repented sufficiently enough or been sorry enough? It’s not God; it’s us!

Stop putting conditions on God’s love and acceptance of you. Instead, bask in the glow of unconditional love and forgiveness.ย  Thinking done. ๐Ÿ™‚

January 16

Tuesday, January 16th, 2024

“I’m proud of my humility.”

“I’m humble and proud of it.”

“I can’t wait until tomorrow.” “Why?” “Because I get better looking every day.” (attributed to Joe Namath from many moons ago)

Those are just three of the statements we make about pride. We are, of course, saying them jokingly. Well…at least I think we are. ๐Ÿ™‚

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment (if our pride will allow us). Pride is an issue most, if not all of us, struggle with in some way. There are those who are blatantly arrogant. They turn us off immediately. It’s sort of like “Do I strangle them now or later?” It’s all we can do to even be around them. If we are the arrogant one our eyes are closed to the way we turn people off. “It’s their fault,” we say. “I’m good at what I do so they are jealous.” No, they are sick of your arrogance.

There are also those who have a false humility. They shrug while refusing help when it is offered. Or there feign humility (but really want to hear more).

What brought me to this topic this morning? Reading Proverbs 16 this morning. “The Lord detest the proud; they will surely be punished.” (v.5) “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness (arrogance) before a fall.” (v.18) “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” (v.23)ย  {All Scripture from the New Living Translation}

To counteract the ugliness of pride, there are some verses on humility also. But you can read the chapter and find them on your own. ๐Ÿ™‚

That is not saying all pride is bad. Some is good. Doing a good job. Working hard. Playing your best. But even then we must be careful pride does not enter the picture by taking even that good pride too far. A phrase from my generation is still true: “Don’t let it go to your head.”


For you who like to live on the “wild” side, Christian rockers, Stryper, did a song called Pride back in 2015. You can find it here (if you dare). ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

January 11

Thursday, January 11th, 2024

“Honesty is the best policy.”

I’m not sure how old I was when I first heard that, nor how often I heard it. I suspect it was when my mother lined us up to ask, “Okay, who did it?” and reminded us that telling the truth was best. (I’m glad it was always my brothers’ fault when things went wrong). ๐Ÿ™‚

My blogging friend, Pam Williams, wrote a great post yesterday on honesty. You can access that post here. She stated it correctly that honesty is in every part of our life. (Please take a moment to read what she said).

If I think of someone in the Bible who stands head and shoulders above others in the honesty and integrity department, it would be Joseph. Perhaps never is that put more to the test than his lack of an affair with Mrs. Potiphar. The fact that the Lord was with him is stated twice at the beginning (Gen. 39:2-3) and three times at the end (39:21-23).

Consider the scenario. A teenager with raging hormones. A stranger in a strange land (no one knows him…no family to check up on him). A seductive woman. No one around so who would know? The possibility of advancement as Mrs. P puts in a good word. I repeat: who would know?

Joseph would (a godly conscience is good at reminding us of stuff like that). More importantly: God would. And THAT was the kicker! Joseph said to Mrs. P, “Look, my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.” (39:8-9) (NLT)

That didn’t stop her. She kept putting pressure on him day after day, but he rebuffed her advances. Eventually, the saying came true: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Here is the tale of the story though: Joseph was aware of God’s presence and that He sees and knows all. There is no sin He does not know about-behind back doors or out in the open. So…besides my mom’s words mentioned at the beginning, another favorite of hers comes into play: “Remember, I may not see what you do or say, but God does.”

Sheesh mom! Why don’t you just throw down that Ace of hearts? Why not throw down the BIG ONE? But…she is right.ย  I’d like to say just like when she found out my brothers committed all the mayhem. But I would not be telling the truth. ๐Ÿ™‚

January 10

Wednesday, January 10th, 2024

The power of the tongue seems to be a common theme in Proverbs. Probably the most forthright and pointed reference to the tongue in the New Testament is found in James 3. Just a few picked and chosen from 3:1-12. “But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire…it is set on fire by hell itself.ย  People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison…” If you have access to a Bible, I’d like to encourage you to read James 3:1-12 in its entirety.

Proverbs 10 is full of verses dealing with the tongue. Please get your Bible and read verses 6, 8, 11, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 31, and 32. I highlighted verse 19 this morning: “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” (NLT)

This hits home. I’m a talker. I’m very social (they call us “extroverts”). And I am. Jo just shakes her head sometimes when I strike up a conversation with a clerk or a total stranger in the store. I love children, especially those as gregarious as me, and Jo has to remind me to be careful who I talk to. Some parents are leery of adults who talk to their children. At the ball fields this past summer, kids I read to in school would come to me and say, “Mr. Bill!” and then want to give me a hug.ย  (I did group hugs when I was done reading). Some parents stared at me and I had to introduce and explain who I was and how I knew their child. And yes, sometimes I talk too much. Someone said about me that “He assumes a familiarity that is not there.” Guilty as charged.

And sometimes, more so in the past when I was younger and less cautious and disciplined, I said too much. It got me in trouble. You know the old adage, “Open mouth insert foot?” That was written about me. I’ve swallowed a lot of socks in my day. I didn’t always heed Proverbs 10:19 nor did I listen and learn very well from James 3.

Those words on the pages of the Bible are there for a reason. Learn from them. Take it from a recovering talker. Be wise. Keep your mouth shut. You can’t ever regret something you don’t say.

Dark Horse

Friday, January 5th, 2024

As you can see my theme for 2024 is Run with the Horses. It is a take off of Jeremiah 12:5 where God is asking Jeremiah how he can run with the horses when he gets bogged down in the muck and mire of the Jordan.

The first sermon of the new year is based around three Scriptures: Jeremiah 12:5, I Cor. 9:24-27, and Heb. 12:1-2. They all have to do with running. The truth we all know is that people had feet of clay then; people have feel of clay today. People were evil then; people are evil today. They had a cult of celebrity worship then; we have a cult of celebrity worship today. While we often look at men and women in the Bible as heroic, ready and willing to take on armies, many of them were disappointingly non-heroic. Abraham lied; Jacob cheated; Moses murdered; David committed adultery; Peter blasphemed. And then there is Jeremiah. Jeremiah was different. There is no hint of pride, worldly success or personal achievement. What we do get is a man who is brutally honest about his feelings.

I’m also using the two NT Scriptures to talk about the need to prepare for what is ahead. I suspect that 2024 is going to be a test for those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ.ย  Hebrews 12 tells us to keep our eyes on Jesus while I Cor. 9 reminds us to run the race and not look around while running.ย  Vitezslav Gardavsky, a Czech philosopher and martyr who used Jeremiah as his “image of man” once wrote,

โ€œThe terrible threat is that we might die earlier than we really do die, before death has become a natural necessity. The real horror lies in just such a premature death, a death after which we go on living for many years.โ€ (Run with the Horses-p.19)

I’d like to invite you to join me in person or via live stream at 9:00 and 10:45.

January 4

Thursday, January 4th, 2024

Just a reminder: Please check out my review of my friend, Martha Orlando’s excellent trilogy called The Glade Series at my other blog, Cycleguy’s Spin. You can access that review here.

I have mentioned a number of times about my practice of reading Proverbs every other month. One chapter= that calendar date. Today, for example: January 4= Proverbs 4.ย  Maybe it is because I’m reading this year from the New Living Translation (NLT) or that I paid particularly close attention, but some seriously good stuff stuck out to me this morning. The whole chapter goes on about the importance of wisdom: Pay attention. Get it. Don’t turn your back on it. Prize it. Etc.

Beginning in verse 23 are some simple “rules of life” or “advice to live by” given. Here they are:

Verse 23- Guard your heart

Verse 24- Avoid perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech.

Verse 25- Look straight ahead, fix your eyes straight ahead.

Verse 26- Choose the right path.

Verse 27- Don’t get sidetracked.

I thought I would give each a new heading, a new “wording” that might be easier to learn:

  • Be careful what you expose yourself to.
  • Watch your speech.
  • Don’t let your eyes wander.
  • Stay true.
  • Stay focused.

Wise advice to follow today and every day. Choose wisdom. Then you will hear the ancient words: “You have chosen wisely.” (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) ๐Ÿ™‚ย