Saturday, December 15, 2007

Our Christmas Letter - Our Life

For those of you who don't get our annual Christmas letter (and thus miss out on Marcia's candor and wit) here is this year's edition:

Oh Baby, Baby!

Our family was blessed this year with the arrival of two grandbabies.

Raegan Emma Claire was born to Kristen and Brett on July 15, weighing in at 10 lbs., 2 oz. She has a head FULL of dark hair -- to the point that her mommy put her hair in pigtails at age 3 months and she had her first haircut at 4 ½ months old. Raegan has a beautiful smile and is a happy baby. We love to hear her laugh and coo when we are talking to Kristen on the phone. Kristen & Brett are very good about posting pictures on the web, so you can check them out at:
http://picasaweb.google.com/JonesFamilyNZ

Cole Michael was born to Kent and Jill on November 13. He weighed in at 8 pounds even and was 19" long. He is our 6th grandchild but the first one in which we have actually been at the hospital in time for his birth. We are happy that Cole only lives about 55-60 minutes away from us; it’s nice to have one in the neighborhood! Chris has a meeting in Grand Rapids on Monday so I’m going to Cole’s! Cole was 9 days old when he came to our house on Thanksgiving – it was lots of fun to have a newborn here. Watching him while he sleeps is just like watching a tiny miracle. I think you can find ‘Cole’ videos at:
http://www.viddler.com/mrmrshinterman/videos

And Others Who Bring Us Joy

#1 - Faith is 7 years old and in the 2nd grade but she acts as if she is 27. She has her own e-mail account so when Brett sent pictures of Rhys and Raegan to her, Faith wrote back to Auntie K: "Raegan is so-o-o-o cute it makes me want to cry and Rhys...oh my gosh what a cutie. ...well, the little cutie’s got a present under the tree." Faith enjoys writing; in fact, I bought a story that she wrote about a pooping dragonfly. Last summer she told me she was writing stories and selling them for 25 cents. I was her first (and as far as I know, her only) customer. As she read the story to me, we were both laughing so hysterically that I couldn’t help but make the purchase. Funny how that little story instantly became a treasured possession – and it only cost a quarter!

#2 - Lily turned 3 years old on October 27 and is a funny little character. She loves to play and does a good job entertaining herself. But sometimes when you think she’s off playing, she is really getting into mischief! On one of our trips to Florida, I was in the bathroom drying my hair. Lily came in, climbed up on the toilet seat, and when I turned around to talk to her, she had taken Q-tips and stuck them up her nostrils and in her ears!! Last spring, it was taking Kyle & Hope about an hour to get Lily in bed each night because Lily kept getting up, saying she wanted to pray. After a few nights of that, they decided to pray, "Please help the girls to stay in bed tonight" and then were surprised when Lily finished their prayer by saying, "so we don’t get in twouble."

#3 - There is never a dull moment with 2 ½ year old Rhys – he is a party just waiting to happen! We were in NZ in July and Rhys generally came downstairs each morning and climbed in bed with us. The first morning I put my head on his tummy and called him my lumpy pillow. A few mornings later, Rhys put his head on my tummy and said, "Hey, my lumpy piddow." I also would say, "I’m hungry for some...", then pretend like I was eating his ear, cheek, belly, or neck. Well, he’s extremely ticklish so when I ‘chewed’ on his neck, he really giggled. One morning Rhys climbed in bed and asked, "Granny, are you hungry for some neck?" He was also Chris’ little shadow – he loves his papa! Kristen asked Rhys last week who is his best friend and he answered ‘Um...granny and papa.’ We’re so glad he remembers us now in between visits.

#4 - Pixie certainly is a sweetie! In July as we were leaving after a visit, Pixie stood on the driveway calling out, "I lovesyou, granny. I lovesyou, papa." Immediately I felt a lump in my throat and wow, was it ever hard to drive away. On Pixie’s 2nd birthday (September 29), we had a small baby shower for Kent & Jill in the afternoon, then her birthday celebration in the evening. When I brought out the decorated shower cake, Pixie’s eyes lit up and she squealed, "Oh! Happy Birthday to me!" – so we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ even though the cake read ‘Welcome Baby’. That evening, she giggled and squealed her way through opening her gifts. Pixie loves Shrek so that was her party theme; she looked absolutely adorable wearing her ogre ears.

Each grandchild has her/his own unique qualities and brings so much joy to our family! There’s always lots of laughter when they’re around!!

And Away We Go

- I went to Florida for 10 days in April to babysit – and that was it for this year because our kids moved back to Michigan in the summer! Yippee!!
It only takes us 3 hours to get to their house now. Kyle’s & Hope’s new address is 11405 M-72 E, Williamsburg, MI 49690-9714. (Kent and Jill have a new address, too. It is: 3570 Redkey Dr., Grandville, MI 49418.)
- Chris & I went to New Zealand July 17 - August 15 so we could meet our new granddaughter! We had a wonderful 4 weeks with Brett, Kristen, Rhys, & Raegan. Strange that while we’re there we miss our family and friends at home – yet when we’re home, we miss our family and friends in NZ. Each place holds a part of our hearts. We are very excited that Kristen and her family will be coming home for Christmas this year. They arrive in Lansing at 11:25 p.m. on December 18. Can’t wait! Rhys wants to build a snowman (no, they don’t have snow on the north island, so he only knows about snowmen from watching dvds) and if we don’t have snow here, we’ll drive north ‘til we find it!!
- In March Chris went to New Orleans with 3 other men from our church to work on ‘Katrina’ Relief. They were surprised by the amount of rebuilding that still needs to be done, even though the hurricane hit in August, 2005. Our team was there for one week and they were able to help two families. They wished they could have done more.
- And then around Labor Day, Chris and 8 others from our church went on a 5 day bicycle trip from Lansing to Mackinaw (actually his ride ended in DeTour Village in the U.P.). The average daily ride was about 75 miles. A couple thousand people go on this annual ride – I was not included in that number! We do have a tandem but a ride like that is WAY out of my league. Plus, they camp out and I don’t like bugs or cold showers!! Chris loved it, though, and will go again next year. This winter, he and I both are trying to ride our stationary bike on a daily basis. (Of course, Chris is more serious about that than I am. He rides farther and faster.)

In Sickness and In Health...

Throughout our marriage we’ve been very blessed with good health. How-ever, Chris’ wedding vows were put to the test when I began experiencing physical problems in May. I ended up having surgery in October to biopsy my lungs and some lymph nodes; thankfully, I do NOT have cancer. The actual surgery was a bit more than I bargained for but Chris, my mom, and my dad were excellent care givers. I also experienced the Lord’s faithfulness in a wonderful way the day after surgery. As I laid there with tubes and lines connected to every imaginable part of my body and a damp wash cloth over my eyes, Chris put earphones into my ears so I could listen to praise music. When I heard words like "You are my strength when I am weak ...when I fall down You pick me up ...You are my all in all" and words like "Thank You for the cross, Lord. Thank You for the price You paid; bearing all my sin and shame, in love You came and gave amazing grace", I couldn’t help but raise my hand (even though I could only get it about 2" off the mattress!). Chris softly chuckled and said, "Honey, are you worshiping the Lord?" I nodded slightly in the affirmative and continued on with my own little praise session. It was so refreshing when the Holy Spirit swept over my heart with His sweet presence and it was such a relief to concentrate on Jesus rather than my physical need. It was amazing how God lifted my spirit way above the physical realm and ministered to my heart. I may have felt like the dickens physically but I was feeling great spiritually!

************************************************
You are dear to us, family and friends. We hope you have a terrific Christmas and a blessed new year!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Are You Smarter Than An American?

Two Videos That Give Clear Evidence of American Superiority

video




video


Sing with me...

"So I'm proud to be a U.S. American,
Where at least I know I'm free.
I don't know much of anything else,
But it's all that matters to me."
And I gladly stand up, next to you
and embarass us all today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt
America is - such as - a country
God bless the USA.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Obnoxious High-Tech Papa

The ultimate in obnoxious grandparenting in a high-tech way. Here is a link to a 31 minute video of Cole...

I've removed the video and will replace it with shorter version later.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

An Angel Lives Two Houses North


The last few weeks have been exceedingly busy. I've worked hard, but the work has been piling up, especially around the house. Yard work has literally been "piling up" as the Maple Monster in the front yard has finally decided to shed its leaves. My plan has been to spend the last two Mondays off mulching them and getting them ready for pick up. Which means other things get left for later.

Two Saturdays ago we came home from my best friend Randy's daughter's wedding to see a pile of leaves at the curb and my yard immaculate. After a moment's thought I had a pretty good idea who my benefactor was. A week later the yard was filled again and this time Marcia was home as my neighbor, Roger, came through with his vacuum/mulcher and spent significant time cleaning up our yard again. This was in the midst of one of the busiest ministry weekends I hope to experience for a long time.

Roger is this wonderfully humble guy who thinks I'm doing him a favor by spending a bit of time with him and going on an occasional bike ride together. I honestly haven't invested that much time in him, and I truly enjoy our times together. Mostly, I've listened. So, now, I'm the one humbled...by a guy who has shown Christian humility and service I teach about, but don't practice nearly as well as he.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

And then there is...Cole Michael Hinterman


Cole was born this afternoon (11/13/07) at 3:03 p.m. He is 8 pounds even and 19 inches long. Lots of dark hair and baby blue eyes. He is very alert and showing off those eyes quite often.

Jill is doing great and Kent is expected to make a full recovery. They will be at Spectrum Downtown for a couple days and then off on the new adventure of life with baby.

Waiting for # 6

Marcia & I are here at Spectrum Health Downtown (Grand Rapids) waiting for Grandchild # 6 to come along. We are waiting patiently (not!) with Jill’s parents and sister. We should be hearing soon and I will update my blog with the news.

Last night we were talking about how it is we got to be grandparents of 6 grandchildren so quickly. However, we don’t care so much if we sound old, we don’t feel old and we are so much enjoying those little creatures. Each one is precious and unique - Faith - the dramatic, beautiful first born. Lily - best known as the “q-tip” girl around the church is strong willed and unintentionally funny. Rhys is...hmm - strong willed and intentionally funny. Pixie fits her name - a delightful little sprite - Raegan’s personality is just beginning to show but appears to be another good natured, fun loving soul. And then there is.....I’m not giving it away yet...but you can count on plenty more stories from Papa Chris

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Heritage

We Hintermans are of Swiss descent. That's our coat-of-arms to the left - we aren't much for flashy graphics apparently. My great-grandfather Rudolph emigrated here in the later 1800's from Zurich. I grew up on the little farm that he settled six miles south of (where in the world is...) Merrill, Michigan. The log house that he built still stands and I had many adventures in it - both real and imagined - growing up there.


This week I was doing a little net surfing and ran across an article on the Hintermann (the old spelling - as if it isn’t a long enough name in its current usage!) family. It was all in German so I used a free online translator. It is worth every cent I paid for it. The translation is rough, but allows one to get the gist of the article.




Here are a few out-takes:





The Hintermann are one of the completely old families of Beinwil, (A small village that has a fairly strong Hintermann contingent) which already established themselves there in the outgoing Middle Ages. From where they came, is not anywhere held. If we test however, where except in Beinwil there are today "Hintermanns", the strong spreading of the name in the canton Zurich is noticeable, while it in other cantons do not (makes no sense) at all is. Therefore a strong probability exists that the Beinwiler Hintermann came from there. The first (makes no sense) mention of the name in Beinwil falls in the year 1500.





The following stanza explains so much....





Traces of the branch of Hintermann in the canton Luzern are us so far in the sources do not meet. There are descendants anyhow there today no more. In Beinwil however the sex spread with the time strongly. After the family listing of 1589 the village counted already seven Hintermann families.





A few final thoughts about the translation: I have always thought the name meant "the man behind" either indicating that our family lived geographically behind some more prominent personage or that we served as servants or that we were just a bit slow (the most likely of the options) However, in the on-line translation the Hintermann name was literally rendered as "backer". I like that! So maybe our family name means - "I’ve got your back!" Or I’m one who works behind the scenes to assure the success of another.



I’ve had several people ask how I’m doing with being "only" a staff pastor. After all, I spent thirty years as solo and lead pastor in four churches. The truth is, I’m loving what I am doing now. I enjoyed helping Joel succeed in his ministry and am very excited about the days ahead with our new lead guy, Brandon. So, I guess if anyone else asks me how I’m doing in this role, I can just say, I’m a Hinterman - it’s in my blood.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Glowing for Jesus

That is the singularly most scmaltzy title I've come up with yet. I have every confidence I can do worse. Anyway - last night was Halloween and our CIA team went out to distribute glow sticks to kids in the neighborhood near the church. It was cool - and rainy - but it was also COOL! Our group was near Post Oak School and we went through 200 sticks in about 35 minutes.




Our success may have been location, or it may have been our enthusiastic barker. My buddy Neil came along with his parents and sister. He was dressed up as Peter from the Chronicles of Narnia. While his mother, Sonya held up our "Free Glow Sticks" sign, Neil was shouting the same at the top of his lungs. At one point he was yelling, "Free Glow Sticks! Free Glow Sticks! Just follow the sound of my voice!" What a riot.

It seems to me that Neil was having more fun than the hundreds of other ghosts, goblins and assorted monsters & superheroes around us. I love what we do to show the love of Christ to those who don't yet know Him. But I also love how we are teaching a new generation that it is normal and fun to demonstrate our Christ-love to others. Neil may have missed out on "trick 'r treat" but he gained something much more valuable. Besides, believe me, Neil doesn't need the sugar.







Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Ride: Week Three: Going Home

Here's the final video in "The Ride" series. The audio can be heard @ www.lansingfaith.com/messages Thanks again video

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Worship Wars...or

How I Unintentionally Became a Contemporary Worshiper

I was raised in a very traditional church. I cut my teeth on the Praise and Worship hymnal. "What A Friend We Have In Jesus" is on page 63 - I don’t have to look it up - we sang it every Wednesday night. My dad loved the Chuck Wagon Gang - had all their albums. I remember going to an early Gaither concert (with Hank and Hazel Slaughter) and coming away thinking it was the best worship service I had ever experienced. I stayed awake through several "All Night Sings" at the Flint IMA auditorium. Thrilled to the tenor reaches of Jake Hess and chilled by the deep, deep bass of J. D. Sumner. I even sang in a traveling Southern Gospel group - a career of exactly one Sunday. I said all that to say this...(classic, traditional preacher line) ... I have deep roots in traditional the (revivalist 1940 to 1965) worship style.
Somewhere along the line, I left the traditional worship camp and became a contemporary worshiper. I didn’t set out to do it. There was no plan. Nor was I taken hostage by Stryper or Petra and forced to listen to drums and guitar in the 110 db + range until I succumbed and let go of my polyester suit jacket and Wildroot hair tonic.
I can, however, point to one watershed moment at our denominational general conference in 2000. Each plenary session included a time of worship in varying styles. One featured our current District Superintendent, Mark Gorveatte on the piano doing a traditional, but very entertaining set. Later there was a group from Australia that was (for its day) very contemporary. I didn’t know the tune. I couldn’t keep up with the words. I didn’t identify with the style. Therefore, I couldn’t worship.
Or, could I? A few rows up and half a section over was a small group of teens and twenties having the time of their lives. Clapping, singing, swaying, hands raised and faces radiant. I worshiped watching them worship.
I’ve shared that story several times over the last seven years as an example of how we can worship even if it isn’t "our style" or more correctly, the way we connect with and experience God. Some discussions this past week have given me an opportunity to ponder that moment and the subsequent changes in my heart and worship once again. And I have made a few new discoveries.
I realized that....
I had to appreciate a different kind of worshiper

Before I could appreciate another kind of worship.

Once I came to love them, I came to love their means of worship.

What is dividing our church is not the style of worship,

But our refusal to love those whose means of encountering Christ
is different than ours.

The Ride: Week Two - The Wall

Here's the Video for Week two of my series of teachings on "The Ride". Enjoy and listen to the message @ www.lansingfaith.org

video

Monday, October 22, 2007

Scary Moments - Present Peace


October is the month for scary moments. Halloween is next week and that means there should be a Friday the 13th marathon on AMC or TNT coming up. I enjoy a good scare most of the time. One of my favorite stories of our early marriage is how Marcia scared the liver out of me one night when I came home from work. We lived in a trailer at the time - laid out with the master bedroom at the back and a second bedroom and a bath off a long, narrow hallway. As I walked back, thinking Marcia was in the back bedroom, she jumped out of the darkened bath and "booed" me. I fell with my back against the wall and just melted down to the floor. It was a good scare.




Many of you know that we just passed through another scare and this one wasn't so good. Just before Memorial Day, Marcia ended up in ER with an inflamed ankle. They were pretty sure it was cellulitis. Further tests ensued including a CAT scan of her kidneys. The kidneys were clear but they found some cloudiness in her left lung.


More tests.


As we continued pursuing what was going on, it got a bit scary. The doctors were pretty sure it was something called sarcoidosis but they needed to eliminate lung cancer as a possibility. To do so meant doing a lung biopsy which would mean being in the hospital for several days and off work for up to 6 weeks. That right there raised our levels of concern and when they started pushing things ahead very quickly, we got even more concerned.


Marcia had the procedure last Wednesday (which is why there has been a significant hole in my blogosphere). The preliminary diagnosis is that we are in the clear on the cancer issue and it is 99% sure sarcoidosis. It is treatable and, since she is currently symptom free, bears watching and that is all. She is home and recovering fairly well. Her pain is fairly well managed and she is getting stronger everyday.


Through all of this we have experienced what other people of faith often express - there is a wonderful peace - even in the midst of scary times. Two Sundays ago I was scheduled to speak on the place of suffering in the believer’s life. That message was planned long before we knew that three days later, Marcia would be undergoing major surgery. It gave a whole different perspective on the words I spoke, and while some of them were delivered in faith, I believed every one of them. We also sang the Chris Redman song, "Blessed be the Name" which contains the lyric: "Every blessing you pour out, I turn back to praise. When the darkness closes in, Lord, Still I will say...Blessed be the name of the Lord"


Thankfully, we will never know how we would have responded had the outcome been different. What we do know is that in the midst of uncertainty, we experience present peace. And still do ... What an amazing gift.




And - thanks to all who have been praying for/with us...it has made all the difference.




Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Cup of Cold Water

This article was just published in "the Tidings" our district newsletter. (OK, it's not the NY Times - or not even the Lansing State Journal - but it's something). We had several contacts immediately after the event, but not since. I expect it will take doing this a few times to get traction and begin to make a difference.

Faith Church has a reputation around Lansing (Michigan) as being the church that shows the love of Christ in practical ways. Its C.I.A. (Christ In Action) ministry is in the community on a monthly basis doing some random act of kindness. At a recent fireworks display where Faith Church provided 2000 snacks and glowsticks to the kids and six portajohns for the spectators, one man said, “Oh. You’re that church”. These responses have become commonplace as the CIA ministry, begun seven years ago, matures. Started under the leadership of then Community Life Pastor, Jess Allen, CIA seeks to break down artificial barriers between the church and people who, for various reasons, have no interest in what Christ has to offer. In Faith Church’s view, many of those barriers have been constructed by the Church itself. Well intentioned defense of Biblical values has devolved into judgmentalism and bigotry. Rather than creating pathways for persons to find their way to Christ, we have often built defense works to keep out any who would dare question our beliefs and particularly our standards.

Faith Church is committed to breaking down artificial barriers to the Gospel and reaching out to those who reject the Church. So it was, on June 30, 2007 fourteen “C.I.A. operatives” went to the Michigan Pride March at the state capitol. This event drew over 2,000 gays, lesbians and their supporters from around the state of Michigan and the region. It also drew protestors. Several religious groups were there, holding pacards and shouting through bullhorns. One sign proclaimed: “Lies Satan tells us….God loves everyone”.

Then there was Faith Church. Four teams of three following Jesus’ invitation to give “cups of cold water in (his) name”. In this case it was 1,500 bottles of iced water. A few refused our offer when they realized it was a church, but most were extremely grateful and several significant discussions ensued. Many assumed Faith Church to be a gay affirming church because of our approach. Whenever possible, we tried to make clear that we would have some very different views on the issues, but that we realized the other approach wasn’t working. We were there to start a conversation rather than a confrontation. We were able to show the love of Christ and on several occasions express our desire to open a dialoge about the issues facing homosexuals without compromising our stand.
Since the event we have received three phone calls and one letter of appreciation from parade participants; a much higher percentage than usual. I am proud to be part of a church that is willing to get beyond our walls and the artificial barriers that have been built between us and a world who needs to know Jesus.




This is the transcript of one of the phone messages we received....

My name is _____ _______. I’m living in ________________. I was at the rally in Lansing on Saturday…the gay rally. I was so moved by that simple act of you guys giving out water, that last night it just about brought tears to my eyes. I thought, “you know, those are the actions that say more than words.” I really appreciated what you guys did. You’re doing the right thing. You’re doing a great job.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I'm On Your I-Pod


Or, at least I could be.....Scott, our media tech extraordinaire has hooked us up to be able to pod-cast our sunday teachings. So, go to www.lansingfaith.org/messages and click on the podcast link. There you will find last week's teaching that goes along the the video on the previous post.


Now you can take me along in your pocket....


Maybe not the imagery we want....

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Ride: Training for Life Video

video

Here's the first video for "the ride" teaching series that begins this Sunday @ FaithChurch. The audio of the teaching will be on www.faithchurch.org sometime next week.

Thanks again to Don Williams for doing a great job pulling this all together.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

solvitur ambulando


"The thing will solve itself as you go on". I love this concept, I just didn’t know it had a fancy Latin name. So often, things that seem to loom as huge problems work themselves out as you go along.


I ran across the Latin for it while reading Wm. Barclay’s commentary on II Timothy 2:14 as part of my spiritual discipline regimen. The verse says, "Remind your people of these things; and charge them before the Lord not to engage in battles of words--a thing of no use at all, and a thing which can only result in the undoing of those who listen to it".

In this morning’s staff meeting we were talking about how we do church and the fact that we do a lot of talking in church. But how much actually gets done? We discuss great principles and ideals, but then ignore them as soon as we walk out the door. One person once related to it by wondering if there wasn’t a large "anti-life-change magnet" installed above the exit doors that took away all the good intentions they had during the church service.

We talk and talk about what is wrong with our world and the other people in it (it is rarely our fault) but do little to change things. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the church was the church outside these walls. If we got out and walked around in the world and see how some of the problems of this world might resolve themselves.

Well, I would love to ramble on more about this, but I have to get this Sunday’s message started and then go to some meetings to discuss policy and then have coffee with friends to talk about some other people in the church.

Or....maybe I’ll take a walk.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Jay Leno Commentary - NOT



Here we go again. I got one of those chain forwards that are almost as annoying as Blogs. It quoted commedian Jay Leno as defending the President and current state of affairs in the USA. It's very well written and makes some great points about the citizens of the US being spoiled brats crying about how bad things are while we enjoy nearly every advantage. Actually, I thought it was pretty well stated. Only problem is, it was not written by the great lantern-jawed one. Leno is quoted at the end of the piece and people take it that he wrote the rest of it, even though it sounds very little like his style or content. The actual author,is Craig R. Smith and it was published on WorldNetDaily.com at Thanksgiving, 2006.



I have gotten into the habit of checking out things like this because so many of us, and Christians in particular, are quick to pick these up and begin shouting and passing them along as if it could be found in the King James Bible. Two classics that keep recurring are the Madelyne O'Hare trying to get Christian Radio banned or that the Procter and Gamble logo contains Satanic symbols. So, please! When you get one of these things, check it out before forewarding to your entire mailing list. If we want others to listen to the WORD we proclaim, our other words should be well considered.



If you want to read the article and disclaimer that inspired this rant, go to:











Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Inerrancy! Until It's Inconvenient


It's amazing to me how certain, ultra conservative groups, will shout about Biblical inerrancy until it interferes with their theology. Right now I'm reading "Victory Over The Darkness" by Neil Anderson. It really is a pretty good book, and we have used it for one-on-one discipleship for sometime.

However, as I'm reading through chapter 2 - ironically entitled "The Whole Gospel" I find that the author has taken leave of his commitment to Biblical inerrancy in favor of his eternal security theology.

He quotes James 5:19-20 "My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins".

Then he writes, "(these verses) appear to have a similar reference to unbelievers. The ‘sinner’ is to be turned ‘from the error of his way’ and be thus saved from ‘death’. Because this is most likely spiritual death, it suggests that the person was not a believer. In both of these uses of ‘sinner’, James is using the term as it was used among the Jews for those who disregarded the law of God and flouted standards of morality. The fact that these ‘sinners’ are among those addressed by James does not necessarily mean they are believers, for Scripture teaches that unbelievers can be among the saints (see 1 John 2:19).

His arguments have merit, but only if you disregard what the verses are actually saying. First of all, it talks of one who "wanders from the truth" not one who has never accepted it. The word for "wander" is "planao". It is only translated once as "wander". The most common translation by far is "deceive" or "deceived". Sounds very much like what happened to Adam and Eve when they "wandered" from the truth.

The verse also uses the phrase, "bring him back". To bring someone or something back, the logical understanding would be that they or it must have left the point of origin in the first place. The original language uses the word, "epistrepho" which is most commonly translated "convert" from their "error" which is a form of the same word "planay" used earlier.

I see many scriptures that support the security of the believer throughout the Bible. I also see several (like this one) that indicate one can choose to forfeit or abnegate their relationship with Christ. However, that is not my argument here...(I’ll save that one for later). What is really cheesing me off today are those who hold themselves up as defenders of the faith and then intentionally mishandle God’s Word to defend their preconceived notions.

Bottom Line: I believe in the inerrancy of the Scripture. I just don’t believe in the inerrancy of your interpretation of the Scripture. Or mine, for that matter.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Littlest Spartan Cheerleader



This is our little cheerleader from New Zealand! We are doing our best to spread the good Spartan word around the world. Raegan Emma Claire Jones is two months old and is even more adorable than she appears here. (Just Papa's opinion of course, but I am rarely wrong about such things).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Missing Joel

When someone has been a significant part of your life, there are things that just make you think of them.....

































This makes me miss Joel, even more! Click on the picture below for the full effect.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Success! The Ride Promo

I got it to work! Yeah!

Unfortunately, I've no idea what I did different that caused it to work.....

My geekiosity remains limited.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Don Williams - Hero of the Week!

The promo video for my October series of teachings is complete. I gave the raw footage to Don on Sunday and he had this complete for me by Wednesday. What a video editing stud! Thanks, Don! The series looks like this: October 7 – Training – Getting Ready for Life October 14 – It’s Not All Up Hill – It Just Seems That Way October 21 – Going Home – The Pay-off Should be a fun and hopefully, helpful series.

video

Well....I tried to upload it. Met the limit of my geekiosity

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Planes, Trains and Semi-Trucks




I’m back from Dalmac and we had a great time. The team performed well. Even those who were a bit short on the training side did fairly well. The first day was actually the most difficult. I totaled 84 miles on mostly flat roads. It would seem that flat roads would be to one’s advantage, but it was very warm and humid and the wind that helped us as we left Lansing, turned on us early in the afternoon. The roads were also very busy and in poor condition over the last ten miles which made for a fairly miserable finish to the day. Cold showers were followed by a hot meal and we lay down to rest around 9:30 after devotions and our CIA water bottle distribution.

Our camp site was about 75 feet away from a set of train tracks. We wondered if they were still active. 11:45 pm it was officially confirmed that they were, indeed, still in use. A diesel engine came through and lay on the air horn as it passed our tents. About 45 minutes later (just as I was fully back into REM sleep) he returned with loaded cars that groaned and screeched for at least ten minutes.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 30th

Thursday found us heading for Lake City - the highest point in lower Michigan. My mapping program says that we gained almost 600 ft by the end of the day. What it doesn’t say is that we went back down quite a bit, too. But it was great weather and lunch was spectacular at Lake George Campground. Part of the day was in much prettier surroundings than the first day. It was Andrew Smith’s birthday, and we all had ice-cream to celebrate - even though he stayed back in the camp asleep in his tent. There was a band playing down by the lake and we had a great time relaxing after another nearly 80 mile day.

Our camp was at the Lake City High School. More cold showers, but thankfully, no train tracks. There was, however, M-55 just a little way from our tent. All night long, semi trucks came into town gearing down and making an awful racket. At least the trains had only come through twice. There must have been 20 trucks throughout the night. The next morning, we would joke that all we needed now was to find a campsite at the end of a runway.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 31st

Friday morning was COLD! I put on my warmer gear and hopped on the bike early heading out with Cleo and John. They can flat out fly! Friday’s ride went from Lake City to Central Lake High School at the north end of Torch Lake. I left the others behind and rode with the two speedies as far as Williamsburg (between Traverse City and Kalkaska). What a beautiful ride! The road is rolls and twists around lakes and rivers. There were some pretty challenging hills along the way but far more interesting than the flats. One cool thing was connecting with the only guy who refused one of our water-bottles. I didn’t set out to do it, but he and I ended up riding together for several miles and struck up a conversation at a rest stop. For the rest of the week he was cordial and I hope we gave him a different view of church people.

My purpose in going ahead on this particular day was the chance to connect with my three grand-daughters who live about 3 miles from Williamsburg. They (and mom, Hope) came down to visit with me. We had a great time and shared a huge cookie. The rest of the day took us around beautiful Torch lake. Everyone was having a great time with the more interesting, even if more challenging, terrain. There was one last good climb over the hill from Torch Lake to Central Lake. I had been riding with Sharon Garner for much of the afternoon, but left her at the top of the hill to enjoy a downhill blast into town. I hit 44 mph - my record for the week. Our camp was behind the high school, away from traffic. It was a blissfully quite night, except for the snoring symphony. (I’m told I joined in on the chorus.) The showers were even a bit on the warmish side. Sharon stayed in a B & B just down the street from the camp - we were all quite jealous! Total miles for the day: 80.5.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1st

Saturday was the shortest of the days. It was also the steepest. We got into the hills first thing. There is a steep climb out of Central lake and then right back down again. (I hit 43 on that one but took it easy because of rumors of very rough and dangerous roads ahead). I enjoyed riding with Mark Weishar for most of the morning. There were some beautiful places to stop and enjoy the view and take photos. We arrived in East Jordan before lunch and knew that “the wall” lay ahead. There is a mile or two of slow climbing out of East Jordan and then the road turns a corner and it goes up the steepest paved road in lower Michigan. It is a tough climb. I was really hurting when I heard Chisom, Jen and Andrew yelling encouragement. It is amazing what that can do for you...that and the prideful unwillingness to admit defeat in front of friends.

The rest of the day was hardly less challenging. More hills lay ahead and the long descent into Pellston was preceded with one last brutal climb. As tough as the hills were, we all made every mile and lived to brag about it. We set up camp on the grounds of Pellston High school. The showers were the coldest yet. We got camp set up, showered and relaxed in the tent while we waited for dinner. We had just settled in when a twin engine cargo plane began its approach to Pellston airport right over our campsite. The absurdity of it set us off into gales of laughter. By sunset a couple Lear jets, a Gulf Wing, assorted private planes, another cargo plane and a Northwest commuter jet had passed overhead. Mercifully, they don’t do night landings at Pellston “International”. Total miles for the day: 63.3

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 2nd

Sunday was absolutely gorgeous. We were up early to make the time cutoff for crossing the bridge. The road was good and mostly a slow downhill - with a tail-wind. I rode in with Paul Curtis and we averaged nearly 16 mph. We arrived in good time and connected with the rest of the group for photos down by the Straits park with the bridge in the background. Then we gathered at the van, Chisom donned the helmet cam and we headed up and over. Crossing the bridge in a car is interesting, but nothing like crossing on a bicycle. We only made about 7 mph on the climb due to other riders ahead, but nobody was in a hurry. The water was a deep aqua blue and the sky as clear and blue as could be. The height and wind made a few of us nervous, but everyone crossed without incident and joined the fellowship of only a few thousand persons who have crossed the Macinac Bridge by bicycle.

We connected with Doug Maier, our sag-wagon driver, on the other side, put the helmet cam away and said good-bye to Paul who took the ferry boat to Mackinac Island to meet with his family. The wind was getting stronger, but for the most part, would be in our favor for the rest of the day. It was fortunate that it helped us, because there were gusts up into the high 20 mph range and it was steady at 20 to 22 mph. As a result, we flew toward De Tour Village. The route took us along the northern shore of Lake Huron. We stopped several times to take photos along the way, but still brought our average up to the 17 mph range for the day. I was only a mile out of town when Marcia passed me in a black suburban with the plate “JETDRVR”. (Thanks Dan and Sonya for the use of your vehicle.) We all made it in with time to spare, got everything sorted out and headed for home: tired, sunburned and victorious.

Total Miles for the week: 388.5
Total Time on the Bike: 25:04:31
Average Speed 15.5 mph
Maximum Speed: 44 mph

CIA

This trip was promoted and supported as a CIA event. I can’t say enough for Doug Maier who took the load for most of the hands-on work with giving out water, Propel packets, apples and granola bars to many riders. Doug did a great job of connecting with people and letting them know that Faith Church cares about people. Each evening, Doug would have stories of different people he connected with, giving them a card or water bottle as seemed appropriate.

The water bottle distribution went great. We had many people stopping us to ask what it was about and we were able to promo the teaching series I will be doing in October. The video Chisom took with the helmet cam will be utilized with the series as well. As far as I know, only one person turned down a bottle - the aforementioned person with whom I later connected. We saw our bottles in use on many bikes throughout the ride.

We also rode with a number of persons who are unchurched or de-churched. I, personally, had some very significant conversations with several persons and a couple guys in particular. We also have received a couple notes via e-mail thanking us for our work this last week. I love being able to represent Christ in a very different venue. I love being out where unchurched and de-churched people outnumber us. I love it when “they” express pleasant surprise at encountering muscular, adventurous and friendly Christians. I love my job and the people I get to rub shoulders with.

Thanks to the whole team who made this event a success: Chisom Wilson and Jennifer Neal, Cleo Townsend and his son-in-law John Hughes, Sharon Garner, Paul Curtis, Mark Weishar, Andrew Smith and the best support person we could ask for, Doug Maier. We missed having you along, Joel Gorveatte, wherever you are!

Several persons have expressed interest in doing the ride next year. I hope I haven’t given the impression that the entire trip is about hurting and struggling. Most people, with a good measure of training before hand, can make this journey. There were people who were quite overweight out there and the ages ran from young children to octogenarians. There are hardships, yes, but also hours of enjoying freedom and beauty you can’t see any other way. Friendships were initiated and deepened. Memories that will last a lifetime were created. And isn’t it the overcoming of hardship and the common experience of defeating them, that gives us more to share and makes us ready to face those more significant challenges that come to us in day to day living?




About the photo: It has nothing to do with Dalmac or bicycles. I Googled "planes trains automobiles" and this came up. Too wierd not to use

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Riding With Purpose


Tomorrow I head off on an adventure! I’m riding Dalmac (www.biketcba.org/DALMAC/dframe.html) from Lansing to De Tour Village in the UP! The total will be 380 miles over five days. I also will be camping out each night in the new tent I got for my birthday! There are eight others going along from the church. It should be a lot of fun. We are going to be combining the trip with a CIA (Christ In Action) event. We have 300 water bottles to hand out and our sag-wagon (a wagon to pick up those sagging) will be giving away water and Propel. So we are turning a fun event into an outreach event.

I guess I regret that we have to “turn it into” anything. It doesn’t seem right to make our faith something we tack on to the side of our lives. We have this feature on our house that was added on as an after-thought. We lovingly call it “the wart” because it just doesn’t fit. My walk with Christ is not a “wart”. It is the central part of my being and purpose in life. Everything else is supposed to (not that it always does) flow out of my relationship with Jesus. Colossians 3:17 (NIV) says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” That includes riding bicycles ridiculous distances.

There will be over 2,000 other crazies out there on this trip. It is my hope that we, as Christ followers, will be the salt and light we are called to be. At the same time, we will be sharing our lives in a quiet and, hopefully, winsome way. As in my previous post, I’m put off by those who put off those still seeking by their “in your face” methodology. If too much salt is put into food, you want to spit it out. If light is too bright, it gets turned off or sunglasses get put on. I want to be “just right” in my sharing my faith with others. To invite them in and live in a way that they want to know why I am the way I am. Pray with me that this week will be a time for the Dalmac team to be salt and light as we sweat and pedal.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Airline Christianity


On they last leg of our most recent trip, Marcia and I were separated by the airline. I in the front, Marcia clear in the back. I sat with a nice family and our conversation turned to church things. Turns out they are a Christian family from the Grand Rapids area.

We were having a nice chat but you could tell they were trying to find out if I was appropriately conservative. I was more concerned about the others sitting around us and how they may be taking the way the conversation was going. I decided to test them as well and mentioned my recent involvement at the Michigan Pride (gay and lesbian) Parade. I explained that we were seeking to do what Jesus called us to do, to give cups of cold water in His name. The response I got was the cold shoulder in Jesus name. It got real quiet as they went back to their books and I did the same.

But I hope I did a little airline evangelism on that ride. I hope they will come think about the gospel in a little broader terms. I hope they will cease seeing the lost as the enemy.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Exporting America


Just back from a long trip to New Zealand. Re-entry into US culture can be a bit of a shock.


Ways you can tell when you are in the USA



  • "Delayed" appears on the screen after your flight number

  • People are pushy and obnoxious

  • Coffee is weak and puny

  • But the milk shakes are actually thick and heavy

  • And so are most of the people

However, on this my third trip to New Zealand. I've noticed



  • that the people are increasingly rude and pushy around Auckland.

  • the traffic is awful (Auckland adds 280 cars PER DAY! to the road system)

  • there is more trash laying around than there was six years ago on my first trip

  • the once excessively health conscious people are becoming thick and heavy

  • the politics of New Zealand are increasingly screwed up

I'm so glad that we, in the US, can have such a powerful impact on the rest of the world. Soon, I can feel at home wherever I go.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

In Case Mark Gorveatte Goes Missing

Remember the movie DAVE, where an ordinary guy takes the place of the president of the US? It's said we all have a double somewhere in the world. I think I've found Mark Gorveatte's.
So, if Mark wants to go off to Cambodia or Azerbaijan - I know where to locate his double: We will need to do something with the hair....

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Shaping Up - III


The final installment in this series of introductory blogs.


How I became a cynic....


A dysfunctional church

Several years ago I read a book entitled: Toxic Church. It could have been written about my home church. The church I grew up in was a family run outfit. (Not my family, though we got into the middle of several clashes along the way.) The church would grow for a while until someone threatened to show talent for leadership, then we would see a sudden decline. It was also a very closed and judgmental place. I remember one fellow who began to attend church that had a tobacco habit. I overheard a couple gossips taking about him: “He can’t wait to get out of church so he can light up. And now, there are cigarette butts on the sidewalk!” I say, put ashtrays where the communion cup holders are if we can get more unchurched people to follow Jesus! In fairness – the church wasn’t a complete disaster – I had a great teen class Sunday School teacher and a couple humble, beat up and persistent pastors who loved me and influenced me greatly.

I arrived on the Marion College campus (now Indiana Wesleyan University) in the midst of the tongues crisis. I’d never heard of such a thing and was too na├»ve to really understand what was going on. The denominational leaders came on campus had a meeting and outlawed speaking in tongues. They said it was a dead gift. I wasn’t very sophisticated nor educated at the time, but something just didn’t seem right about that. And it wasn’t. We have now modified our statement to a “don’t ask – don’t tell” level. An improvement of sorts. I become more and more disillusioned with the hierarchy of the church as I see those in power exercise their influence to stay in power. So, why stay in this church – because the bride has spots and wrinkles wherever you go and I am called and compelled to be a steam-dry iron right here if I can make any difference at all.


Continuing Education


My world view shifted considerably when I began taking classes at Eastern Michigan University. I got my MA in counseling from there in 1993. The classes I took there and the many experiences as well, challenged many of my simplistic view of life. I did not lose my salvation. I did not come out an atheist. Rather, I had to come to a much more mature and fuller understanding of my faith and my walk with Christ. It helped me undertand that morality was much larger than the subject of sex. It helped me see why many reject the American/Republican version of Christianity. And it shaped me for what I am doing now.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Shaping Up - II





Yesterday I started a post about things that have shaped me into the person I am today...the blog continues.....



Husband and Father

o Dad

§ My dad was a quiet influence on my life. He didn’t say much. Only occasionally raised his voice. Often took me along on projects. There’s a picture somewhere of me around 2 – 3 years old in my jump swing holding up a board for dad. He taught me that you can fix almost anything if you are not afraid to try. Including broken hearts.

o Marcia

§ Pay attention. Marcia put this concept into my husband/father vocabulary in the first year of our marriage. It has served me well and my family, too. I still have a tendency to drift off. Writing this reminds me again. Marcia has made me a far better man than I ever would have been otherwise.



Bicyclist

o Grandpa Alvah

§ There’s a old photo of my grandpa Alvah and his brother astride single speed, wood rimmed bikes getting ready to ride from Merrill down to Jackson, MI (just short of 100 miles). When I would fall off my bike, he would shout encouragement from his rocking chair on the porch of the log house, “Come over here and I’ll pick you up!”

o A girl’s Schwinn and a Rudge 3-Speed

§ I learned to ride on a powder blue 20” Schwinn girls bike. I didn’t know that I was supposed to be embarrassed by the low top tube. Given male anatomy and my lack of skill at the time, I may have that to thank for my current virility!
§ My first “racer” was a light weight Rudge 3 speed – 26” wheeled bike given to us by some friends and repaired by dad and I. My first long ride was to school at the end of my freshman year.

o Bicycle Tours

§ The bikes lay aside once I got my coveted drivers license until I was a youth pastor and there was a district bike trip announced. The youth group went together and got me a Schwinn Varsity. It was shiny and new and weighed a ton, but it got me through that first trip and I was hooked.
§ I’ve been riding ever since with a long line of better and better bikes along the way, but all of them have a special place in my memories.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Shaping Up - I




Vacations are a great time to review ones life. Beginning to Blog has given me a vehicle by which to process my life audit. As I’ve been doing this, I’ve been thinking of the things that have shaped me. Here’s my list:

What shaped me into being a Follower of Christ


Parents: Mom & Dad brought me to church regularly and influenced me profoundly


Rebellion: At one point in my life, I rejected everything Mom, Dad and the church taught me about being a Christian. It wasn’t fitting or working.


Return: My parents faith became my faith as I returned to Christ as a junior in high school. I became a follower of Christ rather than a churchy person.

What shaped me into being a Global Christian



Bai Bankura and Fanny Farmer: Bai Bankura came from Sierra Leone to stay in my home when I was 10. He let me ask all kinds of questions. I remember setting at his feet and listening to his beautifully accented English.


Fanny Farmer was a missionary I heard about in YMWB (Young Missionary Workers Band – we had no instruments) as a child. I think I just liked her name. I got to meet her when I was a young pastor in Brighton, MI. What a treat.


South Africa (1982): My first missions trip to build a church in Venda, South Africa. I discovered missionaries were real people and the world was far different than portrayed on the 6 O’clock news.


Subsequent Missions Trips: I began to have my world view changed as I began to see the philosophy shift from paternalistic to partnership. Still much work to be done there.


Steve Edmondson: Steve raised my view of what missions could be. Missions conference became the highlight of the church year rather than a tack on. Thanks Steve!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Partners

I'm back in New Zealand primarily for the birth of our grandaughter Raegan. It just happens to coincide with a church planter’s assessment center led by a team from West Michigan. A whole bunch of us are here – probably the most of any one time in the history of the partnership between the Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand and the West Michigan District of the Wesleyan Church. So, this Sunday was an interesting Sunday for me to observe what has happened over the past six years.

It was about this time in 2001 when I received a call from Mark Gorveatte asking if I could host Richard and Jane Waugh at Berkley for a Sunday. I nearly said, “no” because I had just begun a new series of messages that week. What a fateful decision that was. By saying “yes” my whole life was changed. We had a great time and found our hearts knit together.

Less than a year later I had the privilege of leading the first team from WMD to NZ to do exploration of what a partnership might look like. We had a lot of meetings and made many friends in the process. The most important question asked me initially took me off guard, but has come to add new shape to my view of what partnerships are supposed to be.

“So, does partnership mean you give us money and then get to tell us what to do?” Kiwi’s are known for being direct, but the question was over the top even for most of them. It grew out of a frustrated heart – it put me on notice – partnerships have to be mutual – there has to be benefits to both sides.

Yesterday I attended services at two New Zealand Churches. East City – partner with Kentwood Community and Cession – partner with Lowell Impact. As Wayne Schmidt spoke to the ECW family I was struck by what a blessing again is mine to be one who simply connects people and then steps out. Wayne brought a powerful message appropriate for the ECW church as they are about to go ‘possess the land’ of their new building. The Kentwood people have done much to develop the leadership of ECW. But in one comment from Wayne’s greeting to the ECW people, I also saw what they were teaching Kentwood. ECW is the most culturally diverse church I know. Pakeha (New Zealanders of European descent) Maoris, Chinese, Indonesians and other Polynesian Islanders, all mixing and treating one another with great love and respect. Kentwood, like so many of our churches, is primarily a white church. And, frankly, Grand Rapids has more than its share of prejudiced whites. The Kentwood Community Church, to it’s everlasting credit, is trying to change all that. It’s a great challenge in North American culture. ECW becomes a model and an inspiration for the change.

Then yesterday as I watched Phil Struckmeyer pour into the lives of the Cession people during the morning (only hours after getting off a 4:30 a.m. arrival from the US) I was blessed again. It was great to see what both churches are gaining. Cession is looking at planting and Impact has gained a missionary heart for the world. I also loved the way Phil backed out and let Cession be Cession. He wasn’t the visiting dignitary, he was a praying partner.

Which lets me segue to my concern about the ECW service. It felt very North American to me. The voices are primarily North American. The worship leader is Canadian, the interim pastor is from the US and then the main speaker was from the US as well. I’m not saying this is all bad or should have been done differently on that particular day. But I did miss that beautiful New Zealand brogue and I am concerned that ECW – especially in its position as “anchor church” not become a North American outpost.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Tour de Specimen Cup


As a huge fan of the Tour de France, I am disappointed and perplexed by the way this “clean tour” is panning out. It is no longer a race of who is the fittest and most courageous. It’s about politics, power and who can get away with the most the longest.

It is really disappointing that the top riders in this year’s tour have been removed. They say Vinokourov was caught blood packing and Rassmusen lied to his team about where he was when he missed a couple tests. If so, I can’t abide what they did, but I can understand at least Rassmusen and lay the blame largely elsewhere.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has taken an adversarial role that begs resistance and rebellion. You can see them from time to time at the finish line being more obnoxious than a news reporter, grabbing the winner of a stage and hustling them off to be tested. Lance Armstrong, in his book Every Second Counts tells how the random testers would show up at the most inconvenient times and make a pest of themselves. At one point, his wife Kik is in labor and they are heading out the door for the hospital to deliver their twins. The people from random blood testing show up and insist that they go through with the testing. The only compassion they got was the female tester telling the male tester to hurry.

That anecdote came to mind when I heard about Rasmussen – I can see a guy trying to get away from the annoying pestering of the UCI’s yapping dogs. It doesn’t excuse him lying to his team – which makes little sense – but it is understandable.

So now the tour isn’t about teamwork and struggle and pain – it’s about rules and testing and cheating. I think I’ll just go out and ride my bike – and anybody who rides faster than me….they must be blood doping.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

If You Come to a Fork in the Road

Yogi Berra is often quoted as saying, "If you come to a fork in the road, take it". I love his befuddled comments because even though they appear confusing, they actually make a lot of sense.


Riding and driving here in New Zealand is also a bit confusing. When riding, I have to check traffic over the right shoulder instead of the left. Brett (son-in-law extraordinaire) loves to hang back when we are approcaching the car to see if I'll instinctively head for the right side of the car. He enjoys my embarassment as I find the steering wheel has somehow been moved to the opposite side of the car! Pedestrian crossings are the most dangerous. I'm conditioned to look left for oncoming traffic and then step out to cross. There is never traffic coming from the left - but lots from the right.


Then there are the round-abouts. They abound in NZ. One enters on a sign that says "give way" and you yield to anything coming from the right. Then you close your eyes, hit the gas or stomp the pedals and throw yourself into the mess. When you come to the proper exit, you signal and make your way on to the next round-about - ususally in the next block. Actually, I like round-abouts because like Yogi's quotes, even though they appear confusing, they actually make a lot of sense. I love not having to wait for traffic signals here.


American traffic signals are the bane of my life - particularly the one at Herbison and Old - 27 in DeWitt. If you are not sitting at the crossing into or out of the Meijer lot when the light turns green for those across from you, the light stays red. If you happen to be riding an aluminum framed bicycle at the same intersection, the light doesn't change even if you've been camped there for hours because the magnetic pick up in the pavement totally ignores you. And how often have we set at a light (im)patiently waiting while there is absolutely NO TRAFFIC coming on the cross road. Typically, some poor schmuck comes along just as the light turns green for me. It makes no sense.
I would advocate the installation of more round-abouts in the U.S.. Not for the aforementioned Old-27 intersection - a four lane round-about is a nightmare on a whole new level! But many minor lights and four way stops could be replaced with lovely round-abouts with planters in the middle. It would be great sport to go watch U.S. drivers deal with them for the first few weeks as well.

So, I'm out on my ride the other day and I'm making my way around a beautiful round-about with brick pavers and garden in the central circle and what do I come across...a fork in the road...literally. So, I took it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Hills Are Alive --- With the Sound of Wheezing

It’s official! I am out of shape. I thought I was doing alright, but the hills around Auckland, New Zealand will not endure fat slackers. I’m about 15 lbs heavier than I was 2 years ago when I rode around here – and a year of living in the flat lands around Lansing has robbed me of my climbing legs and lungs. It was foolish, but as I headed out this morning I decided to take on the toughest hill in the area – PointView Dr. It is less than a kilometer long and climbs steeply about 400 feet in that distance. There are places on the climb that are so steep that concrete trucks lose bits of their load and leave it on the pavement. So, it is really steep, but I climbed it non-stop two years ago. Today, I stopped about 2/3 of the way up, waited for my heart rate to slow down to near red-line and then got back on. I made another few hundred feet linear and 30 – 40 feet vertical when I had to get off and WALK! I haven’t walked a hill in years. It is so humbling. From there I got to ride up and down several other challenging hills including a 2 k climb of 300 to 400 vertical feet. I only covered about 16 miles, was passed by another cyclist like I was standing still – which I almost was – and then crawled back to Brett & Kristen’s apartment.

This Saturday, I’m supposed to ride with the Manukau Veterans Cycling Club. I did well with them the last round, but now I’m fearful of another humiliation. But, I will be out there anyway – giving it my best and trying not to shame my American roots. After all, we’ve
dominated the Tour de France for eight years, how dare I let the home-team down. Perhaps I can pull out a Floyd Landis-like recovery and power past all other pretenders. All I need is an extra dose of testosterone.

Or, maybe I’ll be humbled again. That would probably be the best. Humiliation can do one of two things – give you a view of reality that you are an older, overweight, cheese and ice-cream loving lug or it can motivate you to train harder, discipline oneself to push back on the ice-cream and go out and kick some scrawny Kiwi cycling butt.


As with so much of life – there are always challenges and choices.
(The first photo is of the bottom of Pointview Rd and the second is a veiw one gets of the same hill from across the valley.)

UNCERTAIN LIFE


A year ago we left the security of a position at a church that loved us and was so very supportive. So, why go? Mainly because the position was so secure. We loved our BHWC people and they loved us, but they had become content. Content to stay in one place – even better, to go back a few years to the “good old days” before I moved on in my development as a person and pastor. So for the good of the church and ourselves, we began searching for a new place to serve.

Enter: Faith Church

Shortly after announcing my resignation, I began a long conversation with Joel Gorveatte – lead pastor at Faith Church in Lansing, MI. The more we talked, the more I liked the possibilities of becoming the Community Life Pastor. Several persons asked me about how I would handle not being the “big dog”. In retrospect, it’s been about what I’d expect. A few times I would have liked to make decisions my way, but for the most part, it’s been no big deal. As with so many things, there are trade-offs. I haven’t had to deal with a lot of the leadership hassles – hiring, firing, budgets, nominating committees and annual reports.

On the other hand, I’ve been able to focus on some things I’m very passionate about. I’m loving the CIA (Christ in Action) ministry. It is remarkable to see the number of people who have begun to come to faith (church) and later come to Faith (following Jesus) through simple acts of service. It has been my pleasure to guide the re-visioning of the church’s Global outreach. Similar efforts are underway for the discipleship and men’s ministries.

Turning Points

When we hired in @ Faith I asked Joel about his plans for the future. He told me how he had been approached in the past, but had no interest in changing churches. He would be happy to be at Faith for his entire career. With those words of assurance I signed on the dotted line.

On a Thursday a few weeks ago, Joel called those of the staff in the building together and let us know that he was being courted by another church and he and Tracy believed they were to pursue the position – which meant he was resigning as lead pastor at Faith. Since I and the rest of the staff are technically hired by the lead guy, our jobs are also suddenly up in the air. By all rights I should be upset and anxious. I’m not.

Why? Could be that I’m just in denial or not in touch with reality. But I don’t think that’s the case. First of all, I know when Joel told me he had no plans to move, he was being absolutely genuine. I’ve been in the same place. I have served in several places and in most of them, I planned to stay for the rest of my career, until the call to move on became clear to Marcia & I. I knew this when Joel gave me his assurance and accepted the risk – because Faith is where I am supposed to be right now. Secondly, experience has taught me that life is only as uncertain as the foundation upon which it is based.

My trust is not in my current position and paycheck. This is not what I’ve planned, nor expected, but I am called to a career of serving Christ in the vocation of a minister. The next thing may not be convenient nor as good a fit as I find at Faith, but following Christ has always been an adventuresome journey. Why should I expect it to change now? And who knows, maybe the next place is the same place.