Friday, December 2, 2016

my version of Tom and the Packard, part two

We get very excited at the beginning of a ride, we ride a little faster, a little farther, and can’t wait to get on the road. When Clemenza, our American Bulldog leaves on a walk, she is full of energy, straining at the leash, but after turning around and heading back, she walks slower, and with less energy.  She knows the trip will soon end, and she doesn’t want it to.  Many of us ride like that, or live like that, but the end of things is just as normal as the beginning, and if we didn’t end one thing, we may not be able to start the next.  How many bikes have you wished you never sold, until after you sold it and wanted it back?  But after a few miles the new one begins to take its place, but still there will be times you miss the old one.  And the time is here, I think, for my Suzuki to go to a new home, a time for someone else to enjoy it, and to share it with a new group of enthusiasts.  And when I had left it with Mickey, I told him ask around, it’s time.  But after riding it home yesterday, with some bursts over 100, I’m not so sure.  And the guy who talked with me about old bikes he owned when getting gas, maybe my time wasn’t over with it yet.  My dream of finding one and riding it home like Tom did with his Packard had come true, I had been able to show it off, take it on trips, but.....the excuses go on.  So for right now it is for sale, maybe, to the right owner.  To someone who will appreciate it for what it is.  Some decisions are harder than others, and never make one on a high or low emotion.  Buy for love, sell for money goes an old rule, but again I am reminded that rules can be broken.  But love never should be.  So the bike is for sale, to the right buyer.  Never mind the bike, beware of the owner.
We are told how seasons come and seasons go, last week it was almost 90 here, yesterday was 65.  After all it is late fall, and almost 4 months until spring for many.  But with each changing season we see new beginnings, like the rides we take, or the walks of Clemenza.  Tough decisions need to be made, and I again learned the hows and whys of it yesterday.  After an unbiased reporter, still bashing on Trump because he won and they lost, they commented “how can he be trusted because it took him three campaign managers to win?”  As if there was discord in his campaign.  But a smarter man answered, “you missed the brilliance of his decision.  The first got him going, another took over and took him where the other couldn’t, and finally the third got him to victory.”  It wasn’t based on personalities, it was based on what it takes to win, to use all your resources, and to achieve your goal.  Successful people know these things, and like the Bible tells us about Christians, “these things shall follow those that believe.”  Again the GS is for sale, I got it this far, it is the next person’s turn.  But who and how to know?  I wonder if Tom still has his Packard after all these years?  Or did he face these same dilemmas when it came time for it to go?
Scripture tells us “Paul planted, Apollos watered, but it was the spirit that gave us growth.”  We cannot do it all, but when exercising God’s wisdom, walking in his spirit we will do what we are called to do, then turn it over.  Listen to The Beatles, A Day in the Life,” and cut off the last 28 seconds, when George Martin joined them on a fifth piano, and see the difference.  He is only heard once, but what a difference he makes. Just do what God asks you to do, or the conductor, and be satisfied.  Simple.  But is it?
For years I have felt sorrow and some compassion for Moses not entering the promised land.  But God had called him to a specific purpose, to lead, to show the way, but not be the way.  Yet today many Jews still worship him via the first five books of the Bible he wrote.  He represents the law, Jesus represents the spirit.  The law kills, the spirit gives life.  It was time for the people to have a new and more qualified leader, not one to worship.  Joshua would lead them into the promised land, it was his turn now.  And God had him ready.  Moses had been the seed thrower, now Joshua was the waterer.  But in all things it was the spirit of the Lord that guided.  And just like a smart exec knows when to change managers, God knew who and when was the best person for the times.  It worked with the Jews and the Promised Land, it worked and works with Jesus, for at the right time while we were yet sinners he died for us, and it still works today.  Trusting God to lead us and help us make the right decision, and forgive us and set us on the right path when we don’t.  To the victor belong the spoils, Tom got his Packard, I got my Suzuki, the Jews got Moses and Joshua, the New Testament gave us Jesus, but in all things, it was the spirit guiding. 
And so I am praying about selling the Suzuki.  One day yes, the next no.  Unstable, yet not double minded.  So today I am going to do right thing, wash it and detail it.  Take it for a ride, its designed purpose.  I will be ready if someone wants it, but I am going to enjoy it while in my possession.  The decision will ultimately be mine, but just as God led me to it, he will give me the wisdom to know when to sell.  He who began a new work in me, will be faithful to complete it.  I gave my life over to Christ, now it is up to him to deal with it.  All the way down to motorcycles.
Do you trust him?  Do you know when to quit, but don’t?  Past ads have only gotten me low ballers, or guys who want to bench race about the one they had, or the one that got away.  They are not buyers, but just want but just want to be part of the conversation.  You may only be called to throw seeds, throw them well.  Or to play one note on a song, play it well.  Or to get a team into scoring position, and letting another score.  Walter Peyton never scored in the Super Bowl, but the Fridge did.  But Walter scored in life when he gave it all to Jesus.  Touchdowns, jobs, situations,and even motorcycles will come and go out of your life.  When Jesus enters it, you never want to let him go.  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  But with us always, the right now time in our lives.  Enjoy today, no man is promised tomorrow.  But you can have eternity in Christ.  May each no bring you closer to a yes in him, and a deeper trust.  Here is an ad you cannot say no to...buried somewhere in the classifieds of life...
“USED-one old rugged cross, used once by a celebrity. Lots of patina, unrestored.  Original.  Make offer, no one will be refused.  But be ready to pickup your own cross after purchase.”  An old cross will give you a new beginning.  But only when a new relationship in Jesus comes with it.  It isn’t about the creation, but who created it.  Some plant, some water, only one died on the cross for us.  To him be all the glory....
love with compassion,

Thursday, December 1, 2016

my version of Tom and the Packard, part one

My dentist friend of 40 years ago once told me of how he came to own his 1937 Packard V-12 Dual Cowl Phaeton.  Taking the train from Albuquerque to Minnesota, with the agreed upon price for the car in cash in a grocery bag, paper, he looked disheveled after three days when he arrived at the seller’s door.  Who mistook him for a bum, and wouldn’t answer.  Until after repeated poundings, the man finally looked out through a side window and saw Tom dump thousands of dollars on his porch.  It seems money really does talk, as the deal was consummated and Tom was the new owner.  And the hook had been baited and set, someday I would do the same thing except with a motorcycle.  Some 35 years later the dream came true.
I had set a boundary of a 1500 mile radius, and narrowed it down to early Honda CB750’s, Z-1’s, or Suzuki’s GS750, the E model of 1978.  I had even made a deal on a 1973 Honda in Albuquerque, but the deal fell through, the pictures didn’t match the description.  An expanded list found a 1981 GS1100 in the Bay area after a 1978 GS750 deal fell through, an honest seller calling me back the day before I was going to leave.  And then a 1978 GS1000E showed up on Craigslist in Seattle, and deal was made.  But the train ride of 2+ days, and more than a plane flight found me in the air, and the deal was made, the deal was finalized, and I was soon on my way home, riding my new old Suzuki.  In my memory I was still in 1978, as was the bike, but too many things had changed in 32 years, and I was just an old guy riding an old bike reliving old dreams that had come true.  But the bike and I soon formed a relationship, and the four day ride I had planned, 1400 miles was a lot for something this old, turned into two days as it ran so well.  Cruising easily at 80-90 miles per hour, making the boring ride down I-5 pass quicker, or really not so slowly.  And I arrived home with only the original tach cable failing.
Now this bike was mostly original with Seattle patina from all the rain.  Some light surface rust on the plastic chrome, a new factory seat cover, and it looked like a new bike.  Talking with the parts manager he told me he was amazed that so many parts were still available from the factory, including the new handlebars with the Suzuki part number stamped on them.  And with just over 20,000 original miles, which I believed to be true, this old girl was a survivor among its model.  It had won two Superbike Championships with Wes Cooley, made Terry Vance and Byron Hines household names, and most had been hot rodded or raced to death. To find one still in stock condition was unique, and I have only seen a few advertised anywhere since.  And my dream had become reality, and 10,000 miles and 6 1/2 years later I still get a thrill when I ride it.  And it gathers a crowd of us old guys who remember them back in the day.  To the younger set it is introduced as the grandfather of the GSXR1100, for without the first one, no ones would follow. 
It is still fun to ride, but sitting at Mick’s now as I rode it to pick up my latest press bike, a 2017 T100.  And yes, although things have changed in almost 40 years, the thrill of riding is still there.  New or old, you ride different, as old brakes take longer, old tires don’t grip as well, and carbeurated bikes take forever to warm up.  Thanks to EPA sealed jetting back them.  It took a while for my son to get used to a bike warming up for a few miles of riding....but now he knows the thrill of riding when I was his age.  And of today.
It seemed every time I saw Tom, he added details to this story, and I became more familiar with his trip.  I could see him dirty and unshaven after three days on a train.  I could see him banging on the door after walking through an older upscale neighborhood with a grocery bag under his arm.  The suspicious eyes checking him out, him returning with a smile, but still keeping the bag tight under his arm.  I could even see the door as he described it, and the man who finally and reluctantly answered it.  I could see the money, hundreds wrapped, laying on the porch, and the paper bag thrown on top.  The story had become real to me, personal, and 45 years later I can still see Tom in his office coming in and adding details between patients.  For although Tom was a dentist, he wasn’t my dentist, but a partner with Dr. Collard, a dentist with braces, who I used to ask “is that like trusting a bald barber?”  And to me more than just an old car story....
As kids we are taught Bible stories, a great way to learn the Bible.  To become familiar with Christian truths and to know God.  To learn about principals, and Jesus Christ.  But to many they are just stories, no more than another of Aesop’s Fables, or another bed time story.  Sadly as we get older the stories remain with us, but still the same way we heard them as a kid, with no interaction from the spirit.  We are content that that is all there is to being a Christian, living a good life, obeying the 10 Commandments, and not spitting at church.  But when a hunger for Christ is initiated by the spirit and we want more than just religion, we are like Tom banging on the door to be let in.  Except it starts with Jesus knocking at the door of our heart, and wanting to be let in.  And when we let him in, we want all we can get.  The deal was made and we expect him to honor it, such is our prayer life.  But we find that although we have changed, and our interpretation of childhood stories are remembered differently, Jesus is still the same.  And like the price Tom paid for his Packard, Jesus paid the full price for us, once and for all.  We need to change to Jesus, not change him to our standards.  The deal he made at your salvation is still valid today, as his covenant, the contract with no end date, extends into heaven.  He recognizes us, hears our prayers, but do we hear his answer?  Is he knocking but you don’t recognize him?  Is he more than just a Bible character as some believe, or is he the true son of God incarnate? 
Like Tom’s story, the more I heard it, the more intimate it got.  I got to know Tom, his cars, and his family through is stories.  The Bible is no different, read it more, be led by his spirit, and soon it becomes intimate, personal, and you can share it easier.  You want to hear testimonies, to become part of one, and to live the Bible via Jesus in your life.  The dreams you have he will turn into reality, and when he becomes the desire of your heart, he will fulfill that desire, at the right time and place.  And right motorcycle....for God loves us and wants to bless us.  After seeking him first.  We may have other things, but without that intimate relationship, we never know what a loving God he is, and never enjoy fully the gift.  Such were the thoughts for my 1400 mile ride on the Suzuki...and it was worth the 32 years of waiting.  But don’t put Jesus off, get to know him today.  Salvation is a gift, receive it, believe it, and live it.  Enjoy Jesus, walk in the spirit, and know when he says no, like he did with my first choices, it is because a better yes is coming.  And Jesus is that better yes!  And you get to make the choice.
So that’s my version of Tom and the Packard, you may have your own. We call them testimonies and each is precious, because it is all about Jesus.  Share what he has done in your life today, bring up stories in conversations without preaching, Christian bench racing if you will.  And see the gospel go forth as you do.  If Jesus can reveal himself through a 39 year old motorcycle, imagine what he can do for you. Only planes, trains, cars, and’s all about the ride.  Remember Packard’s tag line, “ask the man who owns one.”  And Jesus is that man.  Any questions?
love with compassion,

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

a bottomless tank of gas, new roads, and the time to ride them

Penny and I were both patients of Gerald’s, and when he introduced us, he mentioned I rode a BMW.  So did she, so we set a time to go riding, and this All American cheerleader type was going to take me for a ride.  We were going to ride S10, the old name for SR14 south that the locals still called by its old name.  I was told she rode fast, and I had that reputation, and when she arrived in her pink leather riding suit, with her blond pony tail out the back, I wondered what kind of ride I was in for.  Barbie on a motorcycle?  I led out I-40 east, and just before the exit she passed me, and for the next two hours I chased her, the only view her pony tail in the wind as I tried to keep up.  She could ride, and I learned a few things about riding, pony tails, and riding new roads.  As we talked at lunch she loved to ride, she just happened to be beautiful, and was tired of fast guys looking down at her because she was a girl.  Once over the wounded ego, when asked “how did it feel to be beat by a girl?”  my answer was “You’ll never know,” and with a smile that kept them wondering.  If you ever come up on a pink leather suit with a blond pony tail look inside the helmet, and if it is Penny, let her lead, and hang on for the ride of your life. 
We never knew his name, he was the dishwasher at the A&W next to the Honda shop in Ft. Lauderdale.  The kind of guy who begs you to put a “kick me” sign on his back, we came to respect him after we saw the old Honda 185 with a Windjammer fairing was his.  At first picking on his choice of bike, 185cc right, with a Windjammer?  What kind of sissy rides like that?  But as we got to know him, we found out he rode like we wished we could, big bikes scared him, and his little 185 touring bike had taken him to Alaska last summer.  He had ridden places across the US of A on it taking three weeks off each summer, when it is brutally hot in Florida, and saw the US by bike.  You see it isn’t the size of the bike, but the size of the heart of the rider.....To some just a dishwasher, to us a new hero.
We were up on Skyline Drive in Virginia one Sunday morning early, when we met a man at a rest stop with a Sprint ST like ours, except blue.  After talking bikes for awhile, he told us he lived nearby, and rode this road regularly, and if we followed him he would show it to us.  How do you say no to that, and for the next 45 minutes rode faster and farther than I ever dreamed on a perfectly designed road for a motorcycle.  He waved and got off, home to do chores, we rode on.  This break in our trip meant a lot to us, I hope it did to him.  Never will Skyline Drive be the same, no matter how many times I ride it.  And I could say I kept up with him....until he got off and we kept going , which was really his dream.  Two riders converge, with only motorcycles in common....what else needs to be said. 
I was hopelessly lost but not out of gas in Western Tennessee, when I met a black guy on a chopped CB750, wearing a helmet with a spike on top.  “Ever ride the land Between the Lakes?  he asked, knowing I was not from around there.  When I nodded no, he offered to show me the best roads there on his lunch hour, and until he had to go back to work, a wave were our final words, getting lost was the best part of my ride that day, or on the trip.  Who would’ve thought this chopper pilot could handle his bike like a sport bike, and take time from his lunch to escort me?  Again, another guy who loves to ride, don’t be mislead by what he rides.  For it is the road that brings us together, not brand loyalty.  Not engine size, sex, or careers.  When the road calls, the only answer is “give me a full tank and time to ride.” 
While riding yesterday putting miles on a 2017 T100, I passed some Mormon kids on a street corner with guitars singing Christmas caroles.  My first thought was these guys deny the deity of Jesus, and then I saw their worship, openly,and rather than trying to convert me or hand me some Mormon jive, they were worshipping Jesus.  And I was reminded how he reveals himself to us, and changes our lives.  Some would stop and argue...later I wished I had stopped and sang along with them.  They were enjoying the joy of Christmas....Jesus now, doctrine later.  But how many of us are established enough in Jesus, who rely on his spirit to guide us?  We sing about being a bond slave, a servant, but are we truly followers?  How dedicated are we?  Are we established in the gospel, so walking in him that we show love first, rather than brag on our superior education?  Church or pastor?  Our denomination?  How much time we spend in the word, or at Bible studies?  What is our true character in Christ?
There was a time when I was intimidated by such people, they had to be better Christians, look at their witness.  But just like one ride with Penny, or listening to a dishwasher tell of his rides, I find we each have much to say about Jesus in our lives, and we can encourage rather than discourage by listening and keeping Jesus the main thing.  When we are firmly established in Christ, we know we are a work in process, and that he who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it, that it is the spirit that provides the growth, we cannot do it alone.  We come by faith, grow by obedience, but when we walk in trust, then we see the side of Jesus too many miss.  I tire of the excuse “I’m waiting on God,” when he has already given you the answer, you just don’t like it.  What you are doing is delaying, telling God your ideas are better.  Who has known his mind that he should counsel him?  Listen to your prayers, how would you answer them?  Yet God sends people into our lives, like my riding friends above, to remind us of how much he loves us, and wants to bless us.  And how we can bless each other.  I wasn’t intimidated by Penny, and she felt safe with me, we both ride.  The dishwasher suddenly had some cool friends, and we found he was even cooler, way beyond us.  Ride with a black guy on a Honda Chopper?  In a place you had never been?  I’ll bet he had as much fun showing off his ride and road, maybe more.  Each person was established in how they rode and who they were on two wheels.  How secure are you in your relationship with Jesus Christ? 
Would you share a meal with a homeless person?  Ask a rich person to come over to your house?  Would you let an ex-con watch your house while you went off?  Do you trust God enough to share your love in actions rather than words?  Are you spirit led, church led, ego led, or just out there?  Honestly, who does your life say Jesus is?  You may be surprised, as one Sunday afternoon my friend Glen, who was totally immersed in the Harley lifestyle wanted to ride one of my sport bikes.  As I chased him on his bike, we came upon a Vago on the side of the road, Glen automatically slowed down to help, and the Vago waved him one.  But when I pulled over on Glen’s Harley the guy would visit with me, and thanked me for stopping, me who makes fun of Harleys on one, go figure.  Are we like the Vago judging based on appearance, or are we secure in Jesus that whatever or whoever he brings into our lives he will be faithful to complete? 
Jesus is the bottomless tank, that day riding that never ends, a new road to ride, the time to ride them all.  With Jesus, the friend who always shows up on time.  Invite him on your next ride, even if it is just to get you through the day. But first ....there’s this road I know....let’s ride.  You never know who you will meet along the way....
love with compassion,

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

better a Bible than a bomb

It was at a donor’s dinner at CBN that we got to meet Terry.  A man from my parent’s generation, he was a family man with a wife and daughter when he went off to fight in the Korean Conflict.  With memories firmly planted in his mind’s eye that was how he was to remember them, for Terry was wounded and took shrapnel in an eye and was blinded.  Suddenly the only world he would or could remember seeing was in 1952.  And he was a fascinating man to talk with, as he had no bitterness for what had happened.  But his view of the world was of some 60 years ago.  Mention cars and he would see Nashes, Kaisers, Frazers, Hudsons, Studebakers, and Packards.  All which don’t exist anymore.  Mention motorcycles it was Harley or Indian, maybe Triumph.  And while trying to define what a 1989 Ford Mustang looked like, he only had the cars of 1952 to relate to.  Women’s fashions were still of the early fifties to him, as were wide lapels for men and wing tip shoes.  Men wore hats, not the ball caps, but real hats, and many a woman would sport one too.  It was if someone shut the door to his sight that year, and all memories after that were based on before losing his sight.  He may not be able to see, but in his mind he still had a treasure trove of 35mm film that had been developed, but now the camera was empty.
Around the same time of Terry’s loss of sight, a man in Germany was trying to smuggle Bibles into East Germany, where he could have been executed for doing so.  His prayer, “God blind the eyes of them that are open,” was answered, and today Brother Andrew has delivered millions of tons of Bibles into countries where they are not allowed.  Two men depending on God for sight, and God’s answer was to allow both to be blinded for his glory.  One a guard at a border gate, the other Terry, who loved him.  But it was the prayer based on scripture to “open the eyes of the blind,” that Jesus answered in both cases.  One for a man blinded in war to see things clearer in the spirit, another to open the eyes of the blind to the gospel via smuggling God’s word.  And as scripture would tell us, “not all who are blind cannot see.” 
When Jesus healed the blind man who was blind from birth, it was a miracle.  Jesus was on the road and encountered him with his disciples, and after telling him to make mud and cover his eyes, he had sight.  He was blind from birth, but as we will see, God also opened his heart to Jesus, as he would at first answer “I do not know if he is good or bad, but I was blind and now I can see.”  Upsetting the Pharisees, who threatened to expel him from the temple.  His parents telling the Pharisees to confront him, he is of age, so they would not be expelled.  But this blind man who now had sight, who is never mentioned by name, argues back, telling them “he must be of God, for he did good.  No other person in history had been healed from blindness,” and of course Jesus did it on the Sabbath, cheesing them off even more.  And so expelled with his new found sight, he sought out Jesus.  And wanted to know God, and when Jesus told him who he was, the once blind man worshipped him.  He could see Jesus, but via the spirit God had also opened the eyes of his heart also.  God gave him a physical manifestation to prove the miracle of him being born again.  For all had known the man who was blinded from birth, who now could see and was worshipping God.
We don’t know what today will bring.  Terry never woke up that morning thinking this is the last sunrise I will ever see.  But his trust in God has made scripture come alive, as John 9 also tells us these words of Jesus, “neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God may be revealed in him.”  And in us too, as we were all blind to Jesus until the spirit opened the eyes of our heart.  No one woke up today and decided to find God or to risk life for smuggling Bibles.  It is the power of the spirit opening our eyes that changes us, and I am excited for heaven when we have perfect bodies again.  When all my heart will be God made instead of plastic, where Terry will see everything again, and the eyes of the blind who denied Christ have been opened.  What a day!  And revealed through a chance meeting over dinner with a blind man named Terry.  A divine intervention from a loving God to a fallen world.
What was the last thing you remember seeing before dozing off last night?  What if that was the last thing you saw?  But more importantly, who did you say Jesus was before you fell asleep?  We only know we were asleep after we wake up, not when sleeping.  And we only know we were sinners when the spirit convicts us.  And shows us we need Jesus.  And we can have him today no matter our physical, emotional, or lost spiritual condition.  Let him open your blind eyes to your heart today and see things clearly.  Jesus is the light of the world, and soon darkness is coming.  Without light we will all be blind, with Jesus we will see all we need to see.  Trust him today, it was prophesied that the eyes of the blind will be opened.  Close your eyes and what do you see?  Open them in the spirit and see all God has for you.  Life didn’t end when Terry lost his sight, it began when Jesus Christ came into his life.  Don’t wait, glasses or contacts won’t help, it takes the spirit to open those eyes.  Here’s mud in your eye...we are all born into sin, no need to leave without sight.  Some insight from the scriptures, and a man whose last sights were over 60 years ago.
Better a Bible than a bomb.  I think Terry would agree.  Amen to that.
love with compassion,