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.


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.