Tuesday, September 27, 2016

the parable of the petcock

David knew how much I liked BMW’s at the time, his family owned Motorsport, my first job in Albuquerque, so when the new 4 cylinder K models came out he offered me a ride.  Smooth, fast, and very expensive, I was heading back to the shop when a red light came on, looking like a gas pump.  It was a warning light warning of low fuel.  And so I naturally looked for the petcock to turn to reserve and there wasn’t one.  And so I began to panic, but only a few miles from the shop so I made it OK.  He explained how there was no reserve, the light warned of one gallon left, and get to a gas station.  My first experience with low fuel lights, but fortunately one that didn’t end in no fuel.  The signaling for me the day of the petcock is gone, and a light now tells you what sputtering and stalling used to.  You need gas....
Hooker, Oklahoma is nowhere, between two places that are nowhere.  So of course I didn’t get gas when I needed it.  My Honda Nighthawk 650 was known for poor gas mileage, and with a small tank, 100 miles was max.  Doing a quick math check, I could make it to Clayton, no problem, except the bike didn’t know that.  And for almost 40 miles I rode at 40 mph, laying on the tank, on reserve.  Coasting the last 200 feet, all without a low fuel light.   But I made it...another time leaving Santa Cruz on a Thunderbird Sport, I figured I could get gas in Los Gatos.  As soon as I left town, I went on reserve, and ended up coasting down Route 17, a dangerous curvy road anyway, and into a gas station.  And managed to put 5 gallons in a 4.5 gallon tank.  There is empty, and then there is really empty...And on our first trip after open heart surgery, we had a Tiger Explorer XC, and rode the Carrizzo Plain.  I had figured on getting gas in New Cuyama, and after riding off road, with Theresa on back, it should have been no problem.  Except the only station in this wide spot in the road was closed.  So we rode over 60 miles, cruise set on 60 into Santa Maria, not enjoying the great curves of 166 with the red low fuel light on the whole time.  The miles to empty showed 54 miles, the road signs said 60 to town.  Which turned into an out of gas light 100 yards from a station.  And a real test for post open heart surgery, pushing 600 pounds of motorcycle and baggage.  So I hope I have learned my lesson...only time will tell.
So now I get gas every 100-125 miles.  My 955 Tiger has a 6.3 gallon tank, my smallest tank is 5 gallons.  Long before any light comes on, I fuel up.  Lessons learned the hard way, but the most effective way.  The books and owners manual may say how big the tank, road tests how far you can go on a tank, but nothing beats experience.  Except gassing up when the light comes on.  Today with a focus on Christian education, I still find Christian experience preferable.  Some know scripture, I know the author.  Some read how to seek the gifts of the spirit, I have been the benefactor of them.  And some know the facts, I rather know the truth.  And when we get saved, the truth has set us free, and Titus 3 shows us how we once were, and how we should be changed.  It states “at one time we were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.  We lived in malice and envy, hating and being hated, But when the kindness and  love and of our God and savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”  Sound like anyone you know, or used to be?  Running out of gas is a personal thing, and your fault, just like denying Jesus is.  The signs are there, and the spirit is calling, but we are too busy with life, and ourselves, to the point of putting Jesus off, some unto death.  And hell, and it didn’t have to be.  It is our choice, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and only Jesus saves.  Simple enough, we call it the gospel.  But he goes on, “warn a divisive person once, then a second time.  After that have nothing to do with them.  You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful, they are self condemned.”  They are out of gas, they passed the last station, thinking they could do it on their own, only to find no more stations available between them and death.  The spirit crying out to them until the end, and they are out of breath, and life.  We were all like that once, and down to our last breath hung onto sin, only Jesus kept us alive to enjoy heaven with him.  Like the rich man and Lazarus, those who die without Jesus would like just a drop of water, a chance to warn others, a second from eternal pain, when they had all the time while alive to choose Jesus.  And once saved, tells us “our people are to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives....Grace be to you all.”
We are saved to do good.  Not argue, not to sequester ourselves from the world, not to live only within church walls, but to get out and live.  To depend on Jesus and not on our own understanding.  To develop a relationship with him, so that we can go to him first, and only.  For he has saved us, not a church, pastor, or religion.  We are saved by the renewing of the holy spirit...and we never walk, or ride alone.  But we are not exempt from mistakes.  “On is up, reserve is down,” a universal setting on any motorcycle petcock.  And I usually kept Theresa’s bike filled, so she could ride when she wanted.  And one afternoon, she wanted, so we took a short ride, shorter than planned.  A few miles from home, she began to sputter, then stall and turned the petcock to reserve.  Or at least she thought...and then the bike wouldn’t start.  She had been on reserve, and when running out, had switched to on-just the opposite.  We laugh now, but for a few hectic seconds, it was my fault, then the stupid bike, and anyone’s fault but hers.  Deceived and disobedient, she learned, and it never happened again.  Just like the owner’s manual told her, “on is up, reserve is down.”  Now she knows.  That day she became more personal with her Bonneville, errors will do that in our walk with Christ also.  But he takes us in, and when we do the things which are honorable and good, we find them profitable and excellent for all involved. 
Still riding on reserve, don’t wait to find out how far you will go til empty.  Empty will always leave you short and on the side of the road.  And who you gonna blame?  Better yet who you gonna call?  At one time we were all foolish....I still find it is better to walk in the light than walk after the light has come on.  Miles to empty....no way to live or ride.  Greet those who love us in the faith.  And grace be to you all.  All y’all.  Saved in order to do good.  No matter the size of your tank, empty will always be empty. 
love with compassion,

Monday, September 26, 2016

life cycles-taking a trip?

You may not have realized it, but before you learned to walk, other than being carried by your parents, you got around on wheels.  We were too young to remember, but seeing kids today in walkers, chairs with wheels, it was our first ride.  Our first exposure to getting where we wanted to go-on wheels.  We also travelled in style in a stroller, how many’s first trip to Disneyland was in one?  So wheels start at an early age.  Then comes your first three wheeler, your first as you will see later.  Then soon it is two wheels with training wheels, then without, and finally you are riding a two wheeler, a real bicycle.  Suddenly you find you are a big wheel, better than the Big Wheel you were riding. Two wheels is better than three.
Then it is bigger bikes, maybe an English racer, a Sting Ray, and as you get older your tastes change, as does your riding style.  Then some neighbor kid gets a go kart, then a mini bike and you are hooked after one ride.  Maybe a small dirt bike follows, then a  bigger one, and soon you are of driving age.  With license and helmet in hand, you buy your first street bike, and the world becomes much smaller, as it takes longer to reach the horizon, and you ride some more.  Bigger bikes, more horsepower, faster and quicker follow, and soon the mandatory car is left to secondary duty, rain or trips to the store.  Wheels have played a large role in your life without you even knowing it, now you can go where you want, when you want, how you want, and how fast you want, all without supervision.  And then the cycles of life begin to change...
Smaller bikes, no need to be the fastest any more, enter your life.  Month long rides across time zones become weekly, than weekend jaunts.  You start making excuses for the weather, either too hot or too cold, and begin taking the car more.  Without knowing it.  A kid on a new motorcycle pulls up nest to you at a light, and you think “that used to be me.”  And as he pulls away, you follow, maybe I need to ride more, but the excuses begin, or continue.  Soon the SUV you have avoided all your life looks good, comfort over speed, and maybe they aren’t quite the cage you used to think they were.  And the weeks and months pass without riding, and soon you do the unthinkable, you sell your motorcycle.  Some have gone the trike route, but you have done your time, that is no way to quit, either you ride or you don’t.  And you don’t anymore.  Soon an exercise bike is found sitting in your den, replacing your favorite TV chair, the only cardio you get, riding and getting nowhere.   The kids are gone, with their own families, and you baby sit the grandkids, who come over in a walker, the older ones on a Big Wheel.  And as they get older and the bikes bigger, you too now are in a walker because you must be, the walk to the kitchen at half time starts at the two minute warning.  Soon a wheelchair will appear, and you have come full cycle, from stroller to motorcycle, from dependence to independence, and back again.  The cycles of life have become more than the cycles of our dreams, if only there was or is some way to warn the young, to tell them of what is coming, but will they listen?  Did you?  Would you have?  Given one wish, for one more time in your life, what would it be?  One final ride?  And like everyone else, the final ride will be a hearse. 
Growing up we look ahead, and as we get older we look back.  Too often we fail to enjoy today, planning or worrying about tomorrow.  Someday, that day when all will be what I want seems farther away, and today, well today we just don’t enjoy.  When Jesus tells us to come to him as the children do, they are seeking more from life, they still desire, they still dream.  Their hearts and minds are open, they still desire a better way, they haven’t become bitter and confused with life.  They trust, because they haven’t experienced mistrust, and they take Jesus at his word.  They may not know all the ins and outs, may not have memorized John 3:16, or even know about the cross, but they know Jesus is what is missing.  The spirit bears witness to them, they are still seeking and will find all they need and desire in him.  The cycles of life have not worn them down yet, and they come eager and expecting.  Just like we did when we were young.  Before the world wore us down and out.  Jesus warns “do not prohibit the children from coming to me,”  and fail to see we are all like children who have gone astray, and need a way back.  He is the way.  We need someone who we can trust, he is truth.  We are seeking more from life, and he is is life.  He is the escape route from being led around, being taken where we don’t want to go, by people who just don’t care. 
If you live long enough you will experience all the life cycles above, but you don’t have to experience them alone.  From your first walker to your last, the spirit is calling to you.  That voice in the helmet at 100 mph is him guiding you.  That kid wanting his first mini bike ride is him telling you to get out and experience life.  Even in a car, he is with you, for he never will leave you, nor forsake you.  We don’t need to welcome him back, it is him who welcomes us back, for we turn and go our own way.  Learning forgiveness and mercy, and growing in grace.  So to kids of all ages....as Claude Kirschner used to say,
Today can be the day you start living.  We are all born into sin, we don’t have to die that way.  We may all share a common birth, and a final ride, but the rides along the way have input from us.  We all will go through different cycles in life and of life, looking back it will be more important that we rode as opposed to what we rode.  But who we follow, who we believe, and who we say Jesus is makes all the difference.  What memories you share from the seat you occupy will tell of the testimonies of Jesus Christ in your life.  And have you always looking ahead to heaven, not back on how it used to be.  Kids look forward to many things, what things do you look forward to?  Or is it a who you are looking forward to?  Enjoy the day, for tomorrow has enough problems of its own.  Make everyday count, make it with Jesus.  Some will spiritually be in a walker,while others get out and ride with him.  Some will never fall off the bike because they never get on one, some will fall off and get back on.  You will sin and sin again, but only in Christ will you be forgiven.  Make sure you are saved before leaving the house today.  Be ready for the ride of your life, and to kids of all ages.  The show of life is just beginning, remember the opening scene from Then Came Bronson, “where you going?”  “Taking a trip.”  “Where?”  “Wherever I end up.”  “Boy I wish I was you.”   Bronson’s final words before the Sporty takes off, “well, hang in there.”   And I know where I will end up, which makes the trip all worthwhile. 
love with compassion,

Friday, September 23, 2016

stupid answers-who said there are no stupid questions?

I can remember running my first auto repair shop, and being the one who answered the phone.  The idea was to keep the owner working on cars, which he rather do, make more money, which he wanted to do, and get better organized, which he needed to do.  But with one phone and a large lot, it seemed the farther away from the phone, the more often it rang.  And while some would ring 4-5 times before hanging up, the farther away, it was almost as if they knew just when you were getting close and hung up.  And then invariably would call back a few minutes later, pulling the same stunt, and when finally making contact were upset at you for not answering the first time.  And it was always something real important, like “can I come by and have you check my oil?”  “Are you busy?” No, I had to answer the phone anyway.  But not all conversations that started on the phone ended that way.  Some would come by, “I called, no answer, figured you were closed,” so why did you come by?  Seems there are no stupid questions, remember that one from high school, but many stupid answers.  Like the woman who came by, after calling, her check engine light was on.  “I looked and the engine was there, make that light turn off.”  Gee, if you are so smart, you turn it off.  Another woman called on her cell, her low oil light was on, actually it is an out of oil light, could she come by?  When I told her no, pull over now or risk engine damage, she said “I’ll be there in 20 minutes.  I’m too busy to stop now.”  Her car took nine quarts, in an engine that held eight, go figure.  So why ask, if you don’t want an answer? 
One of my favorites is “can you look at my car?”  “Sure, just park it out front so I can see it.”  “Why do tires weigh so much?”  “Because they have 35 pounds of air in them.”  So if I want them to weigh less, do I let air out?  And remember years ago when Nissan had a door warning system, that when your car door was left open told you “your door is ajar,” to which one man wanted to  know if that was some sort of Japanese code word, he couldn’t find any jars in his car.  As he drove down the street his door not latched properly, but I do hear this rattle.....
So I got better at phone answering, and fielding questions, which got better as I got to the dealership level.  “My car makes a noise all the time.”  “Is it doing it now?”  No.” “Well then it isn’t all the time.”  Sometimes you could get to the root of the problem, sometimes they thought you were calling them stupid, wasn’t the evidence enough?  But often I could get to the problem, by asking questions, and then we could fix it.  And they were appreciative.  But other times, it was your fault.  Try to explain that you didn’t design the car, you didn’t build it, you didn’t sell it, and that all you want to do is fix it?  And in our glorious state, you can request any parts you pay for.  Except oil.  Which is why it was asked for, just to make sure you changed it.  “No sir, we have a huge barrel of used oil, you can draw your own.” 
But my favorite was a woman who was taking a trip up north.  She wanted her car in tip top shape, and was a long time customer of the Mercedes Benz dealership in La Jolla I worked for.  Old, but still driving, I asked where she was going, my thought she was too old to drive.  “Del Mar,” all of 12 miles away.  I hope she took a long an overnight bag for the trip.  So along with being repairmen, counselors, and being worn out from answering the phone, or enduring stupid questions, please, if you don’t like the answer, don’t blame me.  I only work here.
As a Christian I get asked many questions, and some I know, most I don’t, but I will find out.  And it is OK to say “I don’t know.”  That’s the truth.  Some show a great satisfaction as if they have trapped you, while others quote scripture endlessly, never answering the question asked, and running the person off.  But one of my pet peeves, still not sure why they are called that, is the growing number of Christians who ask me for prayer.   After asking many others, shopping for the answer they desire, instead of the truth from God.  Yesterday a woman was telling me “she was waiting on God,” still not sure what that means, but to me it means you probably have the answer and you didn’t like it.  Or you are hoping a better one comes along, as if God has time to play a game with you.  So I often answer, are you waiting or delaying?  Waiting is knowing the answer, just for the time to enact it.  Delaying is knowing the answer and not acting on it.  She was busted in delaying.  She probably won’t ask me to pray for her again.  But why ask me, or any other person when you have access God all the time?  Jesus is a 24/7 God, he works the graveyard shift too.  We say it’s personal, why don’t you just ask God? 
I also get requests for money, sometimes begging, “if we don’t raise enough we can’t go on the trip.”    Well, sometimes the answer is no, you aren’t going, and why are you asking me when I don’t have any money?  So you can blame me if you don’t go?  It has happened.  Why not ask God who has great riches and wealth, and can provide all your needs through Christ Jesus.  Who when he needed a coin, grabbed a fish and took one out of its mouth.  Yet how many spend/waste so much time fund raising, when Jesus just sent out his disciples with whatever they had in their coats?  And all their needs were met? 
More stupid questions, why do some seek to know the day of the rapture, the scripture plainly says Jesus doesn’t even know, and he is the one making the trip?  Do you think God will tell you something he won’t tell his son?  Or have you found the only scripture you wish to prove wrong?  And they consider that ministering the gospel.    Consider this, if you did know, who are you going to tell, we will be in heaven and it won’t matter?  So maybe there are stupid questions, and yes, there are stupid answers too.
So maybe a small bit of advice is on order here.  I used to field phone calls from those who diagnosed their car over the internet.  When asked what did I think, my answer became “right click and fix it.”  Some laughed, some got mad, some got it.  You see, I would explain, “the tools are here, the techs are here, the parts are here, the diagnostics are here.  Only your car isn’t.  We can’t fix it over the phone.  We need it here.”  Works with God too, he has the tools, he has the expertise, he has the parts, the finances, and the diagnostics.  He just doesn’t have you.  He needs you here, with him.  So talk directly to him, no interpreter needed.  Or appointments.  You may have to wait, it is his schedule for repairs, but don’t delay.  Quit calling friends looking for the answer you want, Jesus is the only answer you need.  Why seek out a man when you can have Jesus?  And your answer is....
Oh and by the way, if you think maintenance is expensive, if you don’t maintain your car, repairs are even more expensive.  Spend more time with God, as the ad says “pay me now, or pay me later?”  If only I had spent time with the Lord...I wonder?
love with compassion,