Friday, August 26, 2016

An American Crossing

A teaser on the cover of an old Cycle magazine from April, 1973 caught my eye, about touring.  Now 43 years ago is a long time for many of us, but the thrill of the open road that existed then still exists today.  Just the engine size, packing ability, and cost to travel have exceeded the grasp of many.  But for these two Cycle editors, it was a 4400 mile ride from New York City to Los Angeles via Portland, Oregon taking all of two weeks.  No big deal you say, maybe to you on your 1800cc Gold Wing, but theses two rode on a Honda CB 450, and a Benelli 650.  How many even know what a Benelli was?  And they made it, doing things then that no one, no way would put up with today.  Pre-o-ring chains that had to be lubed and adjusted every 300-500 miles, or sometimes twice per day.  Only BMW at the time offered the shaft drive.  No windshields, a true wind in your face adventure, no saddle bags, just a duffle bag packed correctly, and fill ups every 80-100 miles based on weather conditions.  Add in tires that wore out during the ride, a service of both bikes was needed during the trip, read that scheduled service, and today’s touring is much different.  But to a recently graduated from high school Honda rider himself, on a 1972 CB 350, this article was everything, and today 43 years later still is.
Bikes, chain life, tire life, and engine size may have changed, but the same heart for touring exists today.  And in many ways I tour the same.  I still don’t like windshields, cars have them.  I have made the move to bags for Theresa and I, removable for when not touring, and my engine size on biggest bike is 1050, our most recent touring bike all of 800 cc, which draws some reaction while on the road from half ton Harleys, Wings, BMW’s, and others who fear the wind in their face, and cannot leave home without taking home with them.  But these men on their ride almost put me in a trance for the hour I sat reading it, over and over, for I have ridden in New York City, been rained on in the Shenandoah Valley, taken old US 24 across Kansas, and experienced loss of power at over 10,000’ in Colorado.  I have ridden Highway 1 in California, and in Oregon and Washington where it becomes US 101.  I knew the roads they rode on, and the pictures reminded me of back roads, old cafes, motels before the chains took over, and once again emphasized the relationship between man and machine, and man and the road.  An American Crossing the article was titled, on a Japanese and an Italian motorcycle, no luggage, no windshields, and a lot of fun.  I promise you, the new 2016 Thruxton R press bike in my garage is getting ridden today.  Yes it is 1200 cc, but with no windshield, I cannot wait to feel the wind in my face, to stop for gas every 120 miles, and to have an American crossing of my own.  Without leaving the state...time getting to know the machine and more about myself.
Now I ride enough press bikes so that when I see that bike, the exact one I have ridden tested, I can tell if they actually rode it or not.  And for how far and how.  It takes time to get to know your ride, that same seat that feels good for 50 miles can make you hate the bike after 100.  Or get used to it by the end of a 500 mile day.  While others spend an hour packing their bike for the day, when alone my old duffle bag, no wider than the seat, is two bungees away from the 100 mile ride to breakfast.  Last week a three day ride of 1100 miles was done without incident on a 2017 Tiger XCx, comfortably and having to never exceed 119 mph.  And averaging over 45 mpg for the trip.  I find the more seat time I get with a bike, the more we build a relationship, I find what the bike can do , and what I can do, or shouldn’t.  A trust begins, and when the low fuel light comes on,  I don’t panic, for I know how far I can go on reserve and have planned for it.  Using food stops and gas stops to visit with others and making new friends as I ride.  An occasional stop for pictures, and back on the road, the reason I took the trip, to ride.  A time of fellowship, a time of no phones, of choosing roads sans traffic, they are out there if you look, and of stopping when I want, eating where I want, and looking out while eating at my motorcycle, and knowing it is just the two of us, everything I need is on it, and nothing I don’t.  These two guys knew that back in 1973, how many still know that today?
When someone tells me they own a motorcycle, I remark I ride.  When I meet those who attend church only, and tell me “I’m a Christian,” I tell them I live the life.   When trying to be impressed by someone who has superior Bible knowledge, I remark “I know the author.”  And there is a difference, for God is real in my life.  More than a memory verse, he is with me always, and reading the article reminded me of how Jesus loved to travel, how he spent his entire life on the road.  And why the best testimonies are made there, and at times that aren’t special, but he makes special.  A ride through the Loess Hills in Iowa, and you can see God’s handiwork, of hills made from blowing dust.  Another ride on Trail Ridge Road at 11,000’, and you can see his majesty.  An occasional small town in Nebraska, and you wonder how they get by, and then realize the same God who lives in big cities lives there too.  Where churches still dominate the town, and all ages are welcome.  Where in the south a few cars may fill the parking lot, while in Orange County thousands of cars will gather for church.  But how many cars is he in when they leave?  Was the hour destination the relationship with God all they know?  Do they endure the teaching of scripture, or do their lives reflect it?  When I hear from a man “been in church over 30 years,” I know the key element, the spirit is missing from his life.  That his spiritual crossing has never occurred, maybe not by choice, but by lack of desire.  Who is this Jesus? may never change his heart, but his religion will or has.  Safe and secure behind the windshield known as the church, he never sees the scriptures come alive, he never meets the challenge of life with God, and he needs Jesus, not knowing what he has is not all there is.
Time spent riding has allowed me more time in the Lord.  Some are taught to find a prayer closet, dude who lives in a closet?  Some evangelize by inviting people to church, Jesus never did, he took the church to them.  On the road.  Some study to find themselves approved, yet fail the test in the face of adversity.  There are times I look back on when I had more faith than knowledge, and faith got me through, the knowledge only confused the issue.  How many times have you needed a hug, and got quoted scripture instead?  How many times were you hungry and not fed?  Thirsty and not given a drink?  Ever been lonely, only to find yourself in a crowd who won’t talk to you, after church?  Or been upset when your new Easter outfit got dirty, while the guy next to you is just happy to have shoes?  How personal is Jesus in your life?  Does it show?  Do you have to tell me you are a Christian?  And do I doubt it if you profess to be one?  Jesus told us love is what separates us from the unsaved, not clothes, not the size of your church, not your memory verse log, or even how many times you read through the Bible, just to say you did it.  Today try something different, go out and enjoy the day.  And as you go, see Jesus in those you meet.  Smile awhile, and give your face a rest.  Leave the Bible home, he has written his word on your heart.  Show love, don’t preach it, for long after your words are forgotten, your actions won’t be.  Make your day an American crossing, just you and Jesus, and enjoy the ride.  As he wants you to.  See more of him up close than any course can offer, see his creation come alive, and find yourself renewed in the spirit.  God rested after 6 days, he toured what he had created.  Rest and reflect, worshipping the God of love who saved you.  Personally, on the road.  Jesus is everything you need, and nothing you don’t.  How far you venture out and trust him will show how much trust you have for him.  How many conversations at a diner in your church clothes have you been part of with strangers?  Yet on my rides, God sends them my way to share....for it is true, Jesus and motorcycles, it just don’t get any better.  Ride and share today...getting more religion and enjoying less?  if you need to sit somewhere sit where you are comfortable.
love with compassion,

Thursday, August 25, 2016

no better feeling than riding in a sports car at speed

I met Lance in my first year of JC, junior college, and we became friends.  I was accepted into his group of friends, most a few years older, and many who had just done time in the service.  Lance had some endearing qualities about himself, among them you wanted to be his friend.  And being accepted by him was a great confidence booster to me.  But we came from different backgrounds, but had one common desire-sports cars.  Now sports cars of 50 years ago were much different than the sporty cars of today, mostly British, who to me still define the term, with a top that folds down, then Italian, which I never bought into, they broke all the time, although another friend Alex with his 1969 Fiat 124 Spyder, was the exception to that rule.  And finally German, in particular Porsche, and an up and coming older brand, BMW.  Remember British what?  It sure has been a long time.  And Lance and I belonged to the German aspect of sports cars, he with his 1964 356 coupe, an ugly brown, and me with my BMW 1600 coupe.  Small engines, light coupes, with great handling, which along with Joe’s Austin Healey Sprite would be seen together often.  Three flavors of the same ice cream, fun no matter which ride you took.  With the exception of my BMW, which is the only one that ran all the time, or most of it.  Lance’s 356 always needed a clutch, and his GI Bill didn’t provide for Porsche parts.  Nor did the same Bill provide for English parts, which sometimes failed before installed on the car.  Or would rust in the sun on a sunny day.  So my BMW was the workhorse, and I was happy to oblige.
Now both the 356 and Sprite were two seaters, true sports cars, while the BMW held 4, pushing the envelope of sports car in many circles, and like most racing, the BS stops when the flag drops.  And many chased my tail lights in the Watchung Mountains, so I was included.  Also the third and fourth passenger capability would put me into taxi service, like the one afternoon Lance needed to pick up Mary Lynn, his girl friend at the hospital, and the Porsche wouldn’t go into gear.  So my BMW we took, through the back roads, then up I-287.  And the adventure was about to begin.
Doing the ton, the Brits called it, or 100 mph in Colonial terms.  And 100 mph in a car with only a 96 cubic inch engine was a big brag against the likes of Richard’s 455 in his 442.  And on this open freeway on this sunny fall afternoon, with no cars in sight, we decided to try it.  This in the early days of the 55 mph death when caught exceeding it limit, and so I went, with Lance looking at the speedo.  75, 85, 95, and creeping closer to 100, then above, finally reaching 102.  When the cop pulled up next to us...flashing a sign that said, STATE POLICE, NJ, and suddenly the mood had changed, the fun was over.  And I had visions of being car less and with no license for the rest of my life.  Now the cop was cool, he was in blue training clothes, not a uniform, which should have given me the first clue.  And his calm demeanor, not calling for a tow vehicle should have been the second.  But when he told me, after seeing my license, “I will contact you later at work, and mail you the ticket after,” I should have known something was up.  But fear in the heat of the moment, and remembering later when asked why I was going so fast, “you on the way to the hospital?” and my answering “yes” made him chuckle, should have been a dead give away.  Adding to that Mary Lynn’s immediate refusal to ride with us, she finally did, and going the speed limit the rest of the day in mortal fear of being caught, stress had overtaken any primal thought process, and I was scared.  Of my parents, losing my license, my job, my freedom, my girlfriend, and the list went on.  I would be a kid again, dependent on someone else to take me and pick me up.  If only the 102 on the speedo was worth it now....
And so for a few days I was cautious, and winced every time the phone rang.  I was uptight all night at work, and while a hero to my friends for the feat, was sick about the potential consequences.   But for a few days the call never came.  And then talking with Lance, it began to make sense.  He wasn’t a cop who stopped me, but a mechanic test riding a patrol car.  And we were the joke of his for the day!  Which would explain the no ticket, the “I’ll call you later,” and the no uniform.  In the heat of the moment, we had been fooled...and I didn’t like it at first.  But would settle for it, as it meant my freedom was still intact, my license not in jeopardy, and all my potential losses wouldn’t be.  We would eventually laugh about it, and always wondered, what story did he tell his friends that night?  “I stopped these two guys at over 100, they thought I was a cop...” and the crowd would laugh and I was part of an urban legend come true.  The things of bench racing...and maybe Lance was right, “there is no better feeling than a fast ride in an open sports car.”  My BMW the exception...
Looking back I had a great deal of faith in my potential outcome, and it wasn’t very good.  Doubt had crept in big time, and I was busted.  But later I was to learn how faith and doubt seem to be found  hand in hand, and that doubt is not a sin, but a reminder of your faith, not the amount, but of its testing.  Faith and doubt are not contrary, but doubt exposes your faith, for if you had no faith, doubt would not attack it.  Faith is how God works, and doubt the tool of the devil, so it is normal to have your faith tested by it.  There is no faith without doubts, and the spirit will guide us through.  And lack of faith is not a sin, nor is doubting, for Jesus himself doubted, and never sinned.  He was tested in all things, yet never sinned.  And he lived by faith, and by trust in his father.  Everything he did reflected the will of God for his life....and so if you have doubt, know it is really a testing of your faith, proving that it does still exist no matter the situation, and that Jesus has never, nor will never abandon you.  He was there at 100 mph, just as well as along the road when stopped.  So hang in there when your faith is tested, so was our Lord and Savior’s.  You are in good company, and he will see you through.  For without doubt, you wouldn’t be reminded of your faith, no matter how small.  So if you are troubled by doubts, rejoice, for God is with you.  And proof you are living by faith!  So don’t let your doubts overthrow or control you!
Looking back I was scared, and had only faith in the fact was license was going to be lifted.  When I started to doubt, my faith changed to not losing it, to the truth being seen through the emotions amidst the situation.  You see faith and doubt really do work together, and God had prepared a way out for me.  Now don’t tempt God by sinning, my 102 in a 55 was highly illegal, but know that in times of trials, Jesus is there to help.  His spirit to guide and advise.  In ways that when you look back will surprise you.  And find he was there the whole time.  We walk by faith, not by sight.  Faith took me over 100 that day, and earned me a reputation for speed.  Sight got me pulled over.  You never know who is live by faith, knowing God is always watching.  Your faith, his sight.  Never lose sight of that fact.  And honest sir, I really was on the way to the hospital!
love with compassion,

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

life goes on

I am not a fan of commercials, and with one of the features of our DVR, we can tape our favorite shows, and watch them later commercial free.  Even if we happen to be home, we still tape some and watch them later, sparing ourselves from the commercials we don’t care to participate in.  It can take a 30 minute broadcast and take it down to 20 minutes, sometimes less sans interruptions, of enjoyment. Of watching only what we want to watch, instead of what is being foisted upon us.  Thank goodness for record, play, pause, and start buttons....they have changed the way we watch TV.  They have enabled the show to go on for us, and to tune in to only what we want to see.  But as well as that works for our viewing pleasure, going from radio, to records, to 8 tracks, to cassettes, to CDs, and finally to pay radio, we can choose what we want to listen to, and block out the rest of the world.  If only it worked in traffic, of course you can always take the bus or train. 
But I am continually amazed that despite the interruptions life throws at us, how we continue on.  How a job loss, break up of a relationship, or stay in the hospital may change your course for months, but life goes on.  During and after.  It seems we are more adaptable than we think, in most cases more than we want to be.  And even though we claim to have little faith, many times the outcomes are based on what little we have, and what God does with it.  It has been said that bad decisions make the best stories, and hard times make the best testimonies.  A time when we turn to God for all he is worth, yet we long for the good times, times of rest and enjoyment.  How many stories of a restful weekend with nothing happened would make a good story?  Give insight to God and his spirit?  Are we more interested in a commercial free life, than one that makes us channel surf to see what else is on?  Have you driven the same route to work for years, knowing just how long it will take and planning for it?  Or has an occasional detour taken you through another area and found new roads, new places to eat, and even a better way to go?  Is it time to quit fast forwarding through the commercials, and see what else is offered?  Have you come to that point in your religion where it is all the same?  And you know there just has to be more?
Many of us read the Bible as if it had commercials in it.  Some stay safely in Psalms, some avoid Proverbs, some do everything they can to avoid the gospels, and some have entered into Revelation and never left.  They pass over the hard parts, the parts where it may require a relationship with God to get through and understand, and deny the spirit’s guiding, safe and secure that they know it all and all that God has to offer.  Paul talks about being raised on milk, but having a desire for solid food, more of Jesus, can you say the same?  Do you want to go deeper with Jesus than the same old teachings, same old studies?  Is your prayer life stagnant, “now I lay me down to sleep,” and then you do?  Are reading more and getting less, as one man confess to me?  He thought his copious reading was bringing him closer to God, it only impressed others who were on the same track to nowhere.  It just took him longer.
Scripture reminds us that faith constitutes a risk and an adventure.  That it seems to defy the circumstances.  That it is exciting, and will show us things of God we never knew.  And when led by the spirit, the mysteries, the things not yet revealed about God, will be available to us.  And suddenly we get it, but it takes listening to the spirit, no matter the situation.  It involves risk, risk of failure and ridicule, but also the risk of a depth in your relationship with God.  How many thought Abram to be nuts, “where you going Abe?”  “Not sure, but God will get me there...” with no map or GPS.  Noah built a boat on dry land, and it had never rained.  And Jeremiah while in prison, was told to buy land from his cousin.  Not knowing if he would ever be released, or why, he did it.  All based on faith.
Which is why we go to a doctor looking for a cure.  Or why men study and obtain a degree in jail.  Why when in my hospital bed I still dreamt of riding again, “how was I going to ride with all the tubes and hoses in me?  I can’t even get out of bed.”  It is that faith that allows life to go on despite the circumstances, and when led by the holy spirit, not only do we arrive, but we have a trip worth remembering.  And we get closer to God, and our testimony will affect another, encouraging them to trust God.  Trust starts with faith, goes on to obedience, and arrives at trust. 
It is hard to trust someone you don’t know, so get to know Jesus.  Go beyond the words on a page, go beyond prayer, go beyond your desires.  Ask the Lord to make him your desire, and see him give you the desire of your heart-himself. 
Living in the spirit allows you to go beyond church, Bible studies, and personal prayer time.  It allows your education no big or small to see the things of God, to let Jesus rule and reign in your life.  To know what commercials to pass over, and which ones to watch.  Which road to take, which one to avoid.  And when you realize that it takes all things to work to good, you see Jesus in the tough times, and how he is leading you through.  It allows you to build your life where no else would, and be called foolish.  To travel where no one else goes, and be blessed.  And to spend time with Jesus, here on earth, just as he promised, “on earth as it is in heaven.”  With a simple four word prayer request start you off, and keep you, “thy will be done.”  Do you hear the spirit calling?
I choose to join the ranks of the crazy ones in the Bible, to build arks in my life when it hasn’t rained.  To ride without a map, to go places I never knew about.  To move to places I have never been, to take a job I have never done, and to trust God because I cannot trust myself.  Life goes on no matter your choice, why not make the right choice and trust God today?  If God so loved you to send Jesus to die for you, don’t you think he can guide you through life also?  By his spirit will we know Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life.  Don’t wait for a problem to arise and call upon the Lord.  “For if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”  Why not give it to him while still here, while still awake, life goes on.  While you were asleep last night, the spirit was still don’t live life to be played back at a later time, know Jesus now and find that life you desire, for only in him is life found. An amateur built the ark, engineers built the Titanic.  Abraham had no map or GPS.  Jesus had no address.  Paul had no TV in prison, so don’t let a bad haircut bring you back to God like it took Samson.  The spirit is willing...and all it takes is your weak flesh.  Maybe the story of Joseph may remind you....and the faith to go where God leads.  If this sounds ridiculous, Jesus is the antidote you have been waiting for.  So you can get along with your life...
love with compassion,

Monday, August 22, 2016

separation of church from state

Looking over what he had created one day, God saw the sad state that it had fallen into, and decided enough was enough.  So he decided to resurrect Noah and have him build an ark to rescue those who had given their heart to him, and flood the earth again.  He told Noah he had 18 months to complete it, and it would follow the same pattern as before.  But after 11 months and checking in with Noah, he found Noah had barely started, and in no way would he be done within the 18 month period.  And asking him why was given the following answers from Noah.
“Forgive me Lord, but I had to apply for a building permit, and the paperwork just came back.  The boat inspector has been arguing with me over a sprinkler system, despite my reason for building an ark.  My neighbors have been in court against me a few times, it seems the ark will violate the neighborhood by-laws, and HOA covenants.  It also would exceed the height limitations, and block some views of the ocean.  I am still waiting to hear from the planning commission on that one.  Then the council informed me that I would need to get a special permit to move electric power lines, and are demanding a load of money up front to move or relocate them.  When I told them the water would be coming to us, they would hear nothing about it.  Sourcing the wood you required is still a problem.  The ban on cutting local trees is in force, seems a great spotted owl is living among them, and despite the fact I told them I needed the wood to save the owls, they said “no way, no go.”  The environmentalists are still picketing my site.
Next when I started to petition for the animals, PETA and the ASPCA took me to court.  Seems I would be confining wild animals against their will.  They argued the accommodations were to restrictive, and it was cruel to put so many animals in such a small space.  Inhumane they called me.  Then the EPA ruled I couldn’t build an ark, the construction site borders a flood plane of all things, and would have an environmental impact on the area.  Next the Human Rights Commission is telling me how many minorities I must hire.  The Immigration Department is still checking the visas on the number of men I hired from in front of Home Depot.  May take months.  And then the trade unions, and SEIC told me I couldn’t hire my sons to do any of the skilled work, they must be union.  And have ark building experience.  Arc welders, just no ark builders.  And finally the IRS seized my assets, claiming I was trying to launder money and leave the country illegally.  You can see what I am up against....”
And it is the liberals who want to separate the church from the state?  Shouldn’t it be the other way around?  Now this may be an extreme example, but who hasn’t come up against the bureaucracy and found it wasted their time and money?  Yet the church, and many Christians in particular feel overwhelmed in life, with life, and feel hopeless in the face of adversity.  Maybe a quick memory jogging of Noah and the ark will refresh you.  He was 600 years old at the time God commissioned the ark.  And it took him 120 years to complete, with only his sons helping.  And it wasn’t raining when God told him to build it.  But we find him to be an early example of when God says to do it, then it will come to pass.  And that same process and promise is still alive today.  Yet how many get the call to ministry, only to fail because they cannot raise the funds?  Or cannot build a customer base of support?  Imagine the apostles going to Jesus, “sure Lord, take what is in my pocket and change the world.  That‘s all I have is hope and change.”  Now where have I heard that one before?  Yet these 12 men were sent out and changed the world without any financial support, no proceeds from book sales or sponsored events, no line of credit, and no VISA.  But they did give the Master Charge, and he took care of them.  And he still takes care of us today...if we let him.  So maybe we need to not only separate the state from the church, but the church from the will of God.  Programs, processes, and procedures only weigh down the will of God, if God says it will happen, and tells you to do it, it will happen.  Just ask Samson, who God told would overcome the Philistines.  Enter Delilah, then he was blinded, but still pulled down the pillars on his enemies, just as God had said.  Only he would not be there to see the about a bad hair day!  So maybe what God asks us to do is not so difficult, to spread the gospel as we go.
To love, to let him change hearts, to share our testimonies, and let him be God.  But instead we have meetings, which sound all too familiar like the state.  I used to think that the world invaded the church, and I was wrong.  It invited it in, shut the doors and locked them behind them, not allowing them to leave.  They found they liked the things of the world, and started making excuses to keep the world involved.  Consider this, would we need a welfare program if we took care of the widows and orphans as the Bible tells us to do?  If we owed no man nothing but to love him?  If we lived an Acts 2:42 life, and finally Matthew 6:33, seek Jesus first then all things will be added unto us.  Yet our daily lives are much like Noah’s in the example, and we are frustrated.  Don’t think so, listen to your prayers tonight...
When God tells us he has a plan for our lives, it includes tough times too.  But because he is honorable, and his promises yea and amen, we can depend on him.  No wonder man plans and God laughs, or have you been listening?  If God gives you a vision, he will supply all your needs in Christ Jesus.  If he can save a soul, don’t you think he can supply your physical needs too?  But sadly we get wrapped up in ourselves, asking and not receiving because we don’t listen for his answer, and if we don’t like it, don’t obey it.  And we still call him Lord, but don’t do the things he asks?  Maybe a simple test from Zechariah will help.  God told the people to build houses, but after awhile were bored, they wanted to build buildings and cities.  God’s answer was simple, “if you cannot build a house, what makes you think you build a city?”  And we wonder why God laughs at our plans...if you cannot do a simple thing God asks, what makes you think he will trust you with something bigger?  Like a family, or a ministry?  Would you hire you?  And we haven’t even begun the paperwork yet. 
Now we know the Bible says God will never flood the earth again, but that judgment will be given.  And we need to live in the expectancy that Jesus will call us home at any minute.  Are you, are you about the things of God, or still fighting with him?  Separate yourself from the things of the world, but realize we still live in it.  Show love, compassion, and live like there is no tomorrow.  We are not promised tomorrow, so deal with the things of today, and don’t worry about tomorrow.  And if God asks, be able to give a good report.  Of praise for the blessings he gives you, and how he allows you to be part of his plan.  What if God’s answer to Noah’s excuses was “maybe I was too late, the end is already here, beyond repair.  Man beat me to it.”   Now, do you really know enough to counsel God?  For who has known his mind and given him advice?  God has everything under control, and no undocumented people will be in heaven.  So make sure your name is in the book of life today....don’t fall for “hi I’m from the government and here to help.”  And all these things will be added unto him who believes....for the wise man built his house upon the rock.  And when the storms came.....
love with compassion,