Tuesday, January 24, 2017

007's balancing act-you didn't think we were watching

Although American Graffiti is about the last night of friends before summer ends, for me it is all about the cars.  So keeping an eye on them, during one street scene a 1972ish Chevy sedan is seen cruising, obviously the editor isn’t a car guy.  Where was he in ‘62?  Same with Diamonds are Forever, where James accompanied by Jill St. John goes into a one way alley, and goes up on two wheels leaning to one side, and comes out leaning on the opposite side.  Maybe we are supposed to be concentrating on Miss St. John, I was, but noticed it after about the 20th time I saw it.  And films have no claim to exclusivity in mistakes, how many have seen a villian in a new Lincoln sedan, and an older Chevy goes over the cliff, and a thirties car is on fire at the bottom?  Happens all the time, but just not to criminals either.  Adam 12 in the later years drove an AMC Matador, but scenes showing the dash and speedo are definitely late sixties Plymouth.  And in how many chase scenes does it sound like they are shifting that Torque Flite endlessly?  How many gears does that old three speed have in it?  Remember Starsky and Hutch, supposedly Starsky hated the car and ran into things on purpose, I can remember some scenes the front end toed out, yet when leaving on the next scene all is well.  But my favorite was they were chasing a bad guy in a 1963 white Chevy, that turned into a green 1964 Chevy just before going over the cliff.  Lots of cliffs out there.  And then later the same green 1964 is seen being driven by the crooks.  Maybe not filmed in continutity....but we noticed it anyway.
But maybe the car that took the most lickings and still kept ticking was Jim Rockford’s Firebird.  Gold with white walls, 853 OKG, which started out as a 1974, and ended up a 1979, seems Garner didn’t like the new 1980’s front ends, I didn’t either.  But in one scene, in an early show, he has raised white tires on a Formula, later the same car is different, now an Esprit, with the signature white walls.  How many times was that car wrecked or chased beyond repair, only to show up a few scenes later the same day in one piece?  Yeah, I know there were multiple cars, but this was real life TV, wasn’t it?  And we have come to identify cars by their film or TV roles, some being more famous than the actors.  Ask Pontiac how many Trans Ams they sold after Smokey and the Bandit?  The black not available until after the movie came out.  No telling how many cars were wrecked in it.  But from red Fords being chased by John and Ponch and rolling over as a blue Torino, from interiors not matching the brands interior, to multi-geared transmissions, to Miss St. John leaning one way then the next, keep a watchful eye out.  Someone is always looking....
As Christians we are always on display, seems everyone knows how we should behave, except the watcher who exhibits his life differently.  But Jesus advises us to watch, for the master will return and we don’t know when.  Be alert, don’t go to sleep, don’t wander off.  Don’t quit living like a Christian, for temptations and trials will prevail if we do.  Just a little slumber, and a seed is planted, and soon we develop other habits.  Thinking, well the master hasn’t come yet, I’m OK.  But just because you don’t see him doesn’t mean he doesn’t see you!  But while we are watching for his physical return, we miss the fact that his spirit never left us, and that we can be deceived easily.  We are leaning one way today, the other way tomorrow.  Hoping no one realizes how we have changed...but we know, even if we don’t admit it.  I have encountered too many Christians over the years, who have fallen away.  Name an excuse, jobs, family, drugs, illness-they have seen it all.  But Jesus.  They were busy living a church life based on who saw the way they lived, but outside of church became another.  Double minded, and soon one mind took over the other.  Slowly but surely.  And soon the white car life they lived turned to green, and no one noticed, for they had dropped out of sight.  Gone over the cliff, and still believe in God, they just don’t act like.  If he hasn’t come back yet, he isn’t coming.  Yet Jesus only tells them “watch!”
It is tough being a Christian if it is all about the external, but when spirit driven, we change from the inside out.  Funny how sin changes us the same way, and in both cases we only concern ourselves with the external.  When we start looking and listening to others, we fall short of hearing God’s voice.  It is still and small, doesn’t scream and is familiar.  And unlike cars in the movies, he never changes.  Once a Firebird, always a Firebird.  He is also aware of all the cars in the scene, and the actors too.  Us, who sometimes worship things more than the creator, or the men and women he created. 
So don’t let anything derail you from Jesus.  If we are as spiritually alert as we are for spotting car bloopers, maybe we would see a different side of Jesus.  We would be looking forward to his return, anxiously waiting to go to heaven.  But for now we have to settle for his promise of on earth as it is in heaven.  For the spirit to guide and encourage us, to forgive others as he forgave us, and show his love as he loved us.  That ought to keep us busy enough.  Funny it took me several times to notice the red Mustang change directions when 007 drove it, don’t take as long with Jesus.  He is right in front of us right now.  Our actions will reflect what is on our heart, and what we really believe.  The most effective witness is our actions.  That is why we walk in faith, and work out our salvation every day.  For like cars in film, things are every changing.  Aren’t you glad Jesus isn’t?  Some live life waiting for Jesus to return, his spirit never left.  Don’t live like 007’s balancing act....stay straight and true...10-4 good buddy.
love with compassion,

Monday, January 23, 2017

render unto Honda the things of Honda

In June of 1972 I bought my first new motorcycle, a 1972 Honda CB350.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I had bought a bootleg motorcycle, as Ralph’s Honda in South Orange, New Jersey was not an authorized Honda dealer.  At the time, Japanese bike sales were growing exponentially, and could be bought new in anything from hardware stores to old store fronts.  These dealers had no investment in parts or service, and dealt only in cash, and you paid up front, sometimes waiting weeks for your new ride.  And Ralph’s Cycle was one, except he sold accessories and parts, just could not perform warranty work.  He was better than most, but still unauthorized by the factory.  But like most of us at the time, we had connections at the dealer, but Honda’s were reliable, and at 18 who knew what a warranty even was.  If it broke, you fixed it.  And the price of $825 saved me almost $100 over VIP Honda, who was authorized.  A lot of folding green from cutting yards, a paper route, and evening job at Sears.  So Ralph’s it was, and filling out and sending in the warranty card when I got home, I was registered, time to go riding.  But not necessarily under the warranty...
Warranty policies were vague at the time, and many dealers may not get reimbursed from the factory for warranty work.  Maybe parts at cost, but no labor, which some did because you bought from them, you were loyal.  And just because you sent in the card, didn’t mean the factory would recognize the sale, if from an authorized dealer, you were buying into potential problems.  No consumer laws or advocates like today, you paid yer money and takes yer chances.  And although many stores may have an authorized sign to sell helmets or accessories, it didn’t mean the bike you bought with all your hard earned money made them an authorized dealer.  Without the investment required from the factory, the authorized dealer was their supplier.  There were some good mechanics, but with out the up to date training and knowledge of the new bikes.  If your bike said Honda on the tank, you still had to render the things of Honda unto Honda, the Triumph or Harley store may fix their brands under warranty, they were authorized for their brand, you needed to take it where your brand was authorized.  Many independents grew into dealerships, many bootleg dealers as they were known, went out of business.  The market was growing, the industry with it, all we cared about and wanted to do was ride.....
When the disciples questioned Jesus about paying their taxes, he who had no money, nor carried any, reached into the sea and pulled out a fish.  No mere feat, ask any fisherman.  But when he pulled out the coin, a meaner feat, and told his audience, “render the things of Caesar unto Caesar, and the things of God unto God,” he was referring to the face of Caesar stamped on the coin.  The coin was authorized for trade and paying taxes, but only Jesus was and is authorized to save.  Over the years many bootleg religions have thrived, and many do today.  They promise wealth, money, a good life, maybe even a planet upon death for you to be God, but none can but Jesus.  The root word for religion means bound, and religion binds us up to rules and legalism, just like the Pharisees.  You may attend the church, belong to the denomination, even have a membership card, but unless you have your name written in the book of life, unless you are authorized by Jesus to enter heaven, you aren’t.  You have bought into a bootleg religion, and from Mormonism, to Jehovah Witnesses, to Scientology, to the Universal Church, they all deny Jesus.  Oh some may take his name in vain in the name of their religion, but deny his deity.  Some will say he is a way, but not the way.  They will claim he was a great teacher or a prophet, but not God.  Some will accept him as God, but still tell you that you must work out your salvation, and may be at risk of losing it if you don’t obey their doctrines.  You may save a little in relationship, but you are not saved.  Only Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  Only he is authorized to forgive your sins, and salvation is a free gift from him.  Beware the counterfeiters, if they deny the deity of Jesus Christ, and of the trinity, of which he is part, they deny the spirit also, and denying the spirit is the only unforgivable sin.  For the spirit is directing us to Jesus when we are lost, and within us after we are saved.  No other can promise you this, only Jesus. 
And who better to correct and repair your life than the one who created it?  Pick up your Bible today, and before reading, ask God to “show me the truth.  Show me how to be saved.”  And watch as when his spirit guides you, the words on the page come alive.  That as others trip over them, you ride freely in the spirit.  When the spirit awakens you, it may mean losing friends or leaving your church, but true freedom is only found in the spirit.  How many of us were saved at unauthorized churches, not recognized by the mainstream, where it was all about Jesus and not religion?  Who just because they weren’t ordained by man, the preacher was ordained by God himself?  When Jesus pulled the coin from the mouth of the fish, were the disciples getting his true meaning?  Are we?
Human authority, like a warranty, is limited in scope and duration.  One mile or one day after the warranty runs out, you are out and you are responsible.  The laws may have rule and reign over our lives, but not to our souls.  And when we are saved, it is forever.  The New Covenant of Jesus, a contract with no ending dates is eternal.  As is he and as we are in him.  The ultimate issues of life belong to him, we come to him in faith, some walk in it, some by obedience.  But when we walk in trust, in the spirit, when we truly know we are forgiven and heaven bound, we too can have heaven on earth and all its blessings.  Would you buy a new car or motorcycle without a warranty?  Then why are you buying into a religion that can not offer you one?  Bootleggers, from Hondas to booze, they are a poor substitute for the real thing.  The only thing in life that the law has no control over is your spirit, your will.  Give it to Jesus, and watch the blessings grow and multiply.  Jesus is the ultimate power over death, and in life too.  Parts and labor included.  Only authorized people will enter.  Only Jesus saves, and at today’s prices, that still is a miracle. 
love with compassion,

Friday, January 20, 2017

in loving colors

My sons think I may have grown up in a black and white world.  Based on the fact I prefer older movies, older TV shows from the fifties, and music from the 50-60’s, it is obvious to them I grew up in a colorless world.  But nothing could be farther from the truth, as a recent color chart from the 1957 Chevrolets sets that record straight.  I grew up in a pastel world of greens, blues, and yellows, of coral and turquoise, and of two tone cars.  A far cry today of black, white, various silvers, and beiges.  Try to find a blue car today, red seems to be making a comeback, but most are various shades of gray.  BORING!  Stop and compare that to the MOPAR offerings from the late sixties/early seventies of Lemon Twist, Vitamin C, Sublime, Pink Panther, and Plum Crazy, you can reflect how black was for hearses, and silver was for state patrol cruisers.  But a new generation is waking up to color, a far cry from my Harley riding buddy who claims there are only two colors, and both of them are black. 
The color of our cars maybe tell more about us than we want.  We all want to be individual, and today the non-conformists are getting harder and harder to tell apart.  When working for Mercedes Benz, one morning a customer came in and told me his complaint about his car, “it’s the silver one in the drive,” and when we went out, over 20 cars there were silver.  And he had trouble finding which one was his....if only he knew the reason silver is so popular among Mercedes Benz, do you?  Well....back in the thirties, to lighten their race car, they removed all the paint, saving a lot of weight, the aluminum skin being silver, it had nothing to do with color, everything to do with removing excess weight.  Do not try this at home.  And today our friends at Daimler Benz even have varying shades of, you guessed it, silver.  I guess not every car looks good in Mars Red.
Remember how exciting candy apple red cars were?  The silver frost paint on the 1974 BMW R90S?  A Ferarri may be available in white, yellow, or black, but red is the only color for purists, and for value when they trade.  British sports cars should be British Racing Green, old phone company trucks were green, UPS is brown, and the Oakland Raiders are black and silver.  Can’t imagine them in any other color can you, maybe black and blue.  But certain colors have always been associate with certain items, still give me color over black and white every day.  And as I look out of my window, all the cars in sight are white or silver, with the exception of an old Volvo in a faded red.  Maybe I spoke too soon...and I reflect on the car colors of my past, two red Mustangs, a turf BMW, their BRG, two yellow Rabbits, a pearl white T-Bird, and only one black car, a Probe.  Looked good in black, but I found out why everyone only ever owns one black car in their lifetime, everything shows, from dirt to scratches, and the shine is never the same after it drives off the dealer’s lot.  I like color, and own a yellow Ranger, and a Race Red Mustang.  Color it is....did I mention I am color blind?  And cannot tell which colors I am looking at?
Each year car manufacturers try to come up with what colors the public will want to buy, and which colors look good on each model.  Mars red may look great on an SL550, but horrible on an S550, a luxury fire truck?  Yellow looks good on convertibles and taxis, but not on Dad’s sedan.  Dark blue is depressing, light blue happy, and various blacks, silvers, and whites, are somber.  Where are the Go Mango colors of my youth, the salmon pinks and corals, and the pastels?  Does even Jaguar make a British Racing Green car anymore?  Is it possible the car companies are setting the mood for us?  By the way, Henry Ford never made the quote about only black cars, cars were painted with a black varnish that dried quicker, it was in the twenties when Boss Kettering came up with Duco colors that didn’t fade.  Henry offered other colors, too. 
We see everyday how our decisions are influenced by others, how they try to establish and maintain a control over us.  For when the choices are limited, it is easier to control the crowd.  And to keep power to yourself.  When God set up his church, he gave us all various gifts to use within it.  None better than the other, but needed.  But yet within the church we see power struggles, which cause anger and dissention, prideful actions, much different than the spirit guiding the gifts he gave us.  Politics enter, feelings get hurt, and some get upset because someone else had the idea before they did.  But Jesus tells his disciples that the Gentiles are different, and not to be like them.  They find strength in numbers, ever find a mega church who didn’t brag on their numbers?  Who steal members from other churches and consider that growth?  They measure their power by those under them, using that as their authority.  Claiming to be godly, until you don’t follow their rules, worse yet follow the spirit and becoming an outcast.  A trouble maker, a rebel rouser.  Sound like anyone you know?  Ask a Pharisee what they thought of Jesus?  Are we more Pharisee than we choose to recognize?
Jesus goes on to remind them the church is not set up as a hierarchy, it should have one leader, Jesus Christ.  And only one rule, that of love.  Yet he also instructs us to take problems before the elders, who should be wise in the things of the spirit.  Sadly as I am reminded when I approached them, the seven men gave me seven options, each one feeling they were correct.  Never do that again, I have the spirit to guide me.  Another lesson from Jesus. 
Only in Christ will you find the freedom to do what you want, to make the choices yourself.  Do not become a slave to denominations, doctrine, pastors, or false teachings.  Be wary when someone comes up to you and says “God told me to tell you...” no one is ever commanded to follow the advice of someone within the church.  Jesus paved the way for direct communication, do we pray to man or God?  And who do you expect to answer?  When God asked Cain “where is your brother?” and he relied “I don’t know, am I my brother’s keeper?” he wasn’t telling Cain to exercise control over Abel, but to keep God’s spirit within him, to love God and his brother, all before the 10 Commandments were written.  God’s law of love has never changed from the beginning, only our interpretation of it.  Keep Jesus command of loving him first and then others as yourself, Cain obviously didn’t care much for himself. 
And remember God placed the colors of the rainbow to show his love, and to show how he never will judge the world the same again.  But a final judgment is coming, based on who you say Jesus is, heaven awaits those that trust and obey.  Yet some of us live life like the red Corvette, speeding along thinking no one sees our sin, and wondering why the CHP pulls us over.  Conspicuous not by the color of the car, but by the action of it.  Grey, black, and white cars get ticketed too....
So give me a life of color, in cars and with God.  I want to see all the colors of the rainbow, and all in between.  You can be Hemi orange or Tor Red, the same color only different models.  You can be a two tone, India Ivory over Matador Red.  What you get out of life is how you see Jesus, a set of rules to be obeyed, or to be used over another, or all the colors of the spirit, which cannot have names except unto God.  The old TV shows were filmed in black and white, but the actors and sets were in color.  Only how they are viewed is different.  And how you view Jesus is how others will see you.  Don’t let anyone, the church, pastors, writers-even me, advise you.  Go direct to the color chart of Jesus, and live life in living color.  See all he has for you, remembering how he told the disciples, “on earth as it is in heaven.”  All the colors of the rainbow....aren’t you glad he didn’t make the rainbow black and white?  Instead he included as Ford calls it, “thanks vermillion.”  Now the choices for your interior and vinyl roof....
love with compassion,

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Chino's Triumph

Before Bruce Brown stunned the world with “On Any Sunday,” the only motorcycle movies we had were biker films.  Films where we were portrayed as the bad guys, we’re not, anti-social, we aren’t, and only caring about our motorcycles, we do.  Sorta.  But three movies were my experience outside of riding a Honda 50, “The Wild One,” “Easy Rider,” and “Little Fauss and Big Halsey.”  From The Wild One I learned about brotherhood, and the importance of a friend having your back, from Easy Rider the hook for touring the US of A on two wheels was set, and Little Fauss and Big Halsey brought me into the world of racing, actually the world of racing not on the track.  But On Any Sunday changed all that, and where I wanted to be tough like Johnny, intrespective and idealistic like Wyatt, and a lover like Halsey, after OAS I really wanted to be cool like Steve McQueen.  We all wanted to be cool like Steve.  While Steve wanted to be cool like Bud Ekins......
But in real life I found myself more like the supporting actors, I was more wild like Chino, let’s ride and party, I was wilder like Billy, for the same reasons, and more Little Fauss than Big Halsey, as I was compassionate and had a lot of friends who were girls.  I found that they really were the stars, they made the hero the hero by just being themselves, And even though Johnny rode his own Triumph in the movie, yesterday I got a look inside the type of bike Chino rode, and found myself riding on Chino’s Triumph.
Now Chino rode a bobbed Harley in the film, and yesterday I rode the first press bike Triumph Bonneville Bobber in the states.  And suddenly I was so cool I couldn’t handle it, almost.  And its performance, from handling and speed belied it cool look, at first I wanted to stop and be admired, then I found I didn’t want to stop, I was having too much fun riding. Funny how the biker world has come full circle, back in the day the only choppers you used to see were Triumphs, no one chopped Harleys, yet Harley is the chosen bike among builders to chop today.  And while Harleys were bobbed, now Triumph offers one from the factory.  For less than you can build one.  With a warranty, and it is fast, handles great, and is comfortable.  My experience with custom bikes was they were great to look at, but not much to ride.  Now I want one....am I just fickle or losing my mind?  Maybe I should ask myself what would Steve do?  His answer didn’t help me much, if only I had his money....
But that would put me out front, and I prefer to live in the background, I see more, travel my own pace, and ride my own ride.  You can have the fame and fortune, remember Steve used to race under the pseudonym of Harvey Mushman to escape fans.  And so like Chino and Billy and Little, I prefer to play second fiddle to the real star, and found out it works best in my Christian walk.  At one time I sought the spotlight, wanted to be the center of attention, to share my testimony mostly of what I was before Jesus came into my life, but found it was all about me.  And the joy just wasn’t there.  So some time back, influenced by the spirit, I decided to sit in the back row, to listen rather than talk, and see rather than be seen.  My religion included Jesus, but was all about me.  But when I repented and let it be all about him, the blessings flowed, and I began to live.  To see things how Jesus sees them, and fell in love with the holy spirit.  Suddenly church wasn’t enough, and I found some pastors were why the parishioners attended.  I grew suspicious of ministries that had the man’s name in it, and were always asking for money.  I found that like Johnny and Captain America, everyone was watching me, I had become like a Pharisee, lots of rules but not a lot of love.  I needed to change my riding style in life or I was going to crash, plus I found I really wasn’t enjoying being a Christian any more.  I knew the scriptures, knew the pastor, and even ministered.  Even said it in Jesus’ name, just not by his spirit.  He was my savior, I just hadn’t included the Lord part, yet.  But when I did, my yoke became easy, the Bible came alive and so did Jesus in my life.  I was born again, again, by his spirit.  Not by power, not by might, not by religion, and not by any church.  By his spirit, saith the Lord.  Quote him on that.
So riding Chino’s Triumph yesterday reminded me how far motorcycles and the world of it have come.  That it isn’t important what you ride, but that you ride.  But how you ride shows more about you than your bike.  And I found myself to be a Chino, to be like Billy, and like Little, who enjoyed riding so much that all the rest of the benefits were added on.  I was reminded how blessed I am to ride for the Triumph Press Fleet, the dealers don’t get their Bobbers for another two weeks.  And how when I shared the Bobber with others, they were blessed.  And how when I live my life for Jesus, I am blessed, and so are the ones I come in contact with.  By his spirit, not any plan, program, procedure, or after attending a meeting.  God has given me a passion for motorcycles, and for Jesus, and I am blessed.  And when the words from my mouth give testimony to Jesus, I am blessed even more.  Jesus, Theresa, and motorcycles, it just don’t get any better.  You see Jesus is cooler than Steve ever was, and I can ride seven days a week, just not on any Sunday.  My rides are easy when I put him first, and Big or Little, the size of my Lord’s love for me is always bigger than whatever I am riding.
Of course if you don’t ride you won’t understand, or if you aren’t saved or stuck in religion you miss out too.  I want all the performance I can get from my God, and only Jesus fills that need.  Yesterday’s ride on Chino’s Triumph reminded me.  Today I am reminded that the rain falls on the just and the unjust as it is pouring and I cannot ride.  But if anyone asks, Theresa will tell you where I can be found, in the garage. Even Chino knew to stay in out of the rain.....time to dig out my old leather jacket and shine it up, but not too much.  The Bonneville Bobber, for me it reminds me of Jesus, everything I need, and nothing I don’t.
love with compassion,