Friday, July 31, 2009

Gefulltes schweine something-or-other...

My wife and I went out to eat for our anniversary tonight in Old Town. They were having a block party celebrating Wichita's commendation as an All-American City. There were supposed to be free movie tickets and free ice cream. We got neither.

The movie tickets were not for everyone. They were prizes in a drawing which we missed.

The ice cream was out and ready when we got there, but we wanted to eat first, so we wandered over the the Imbiss Grille, a German restaurant.

Having never been to a German restaurant, I wasn't sure what to expect. I asked our waitress for her recommendations. She'd tried everything, but especially like the gefulltes schweine something-or-other. (The last word started with a 'K', but it wasn't all on the receipt.) I took her advice and ended up with an interesting Bavarian repast.

Gefulltes schweine something-or-other was a pork cut stuffed with cranberries, raisins, apples and walnuts in a brown sugar sauce and covered with brown gravy. Sounds strange, I know, but it was delicious. Tasted a lot like a meaty apple pie.

Susan had Rinder Liver - beef liver with gravy and bacon.

When we got done, we went looking for ice cream. Gone! So we shopped a bit at the specialty shops in Old Town and then headed west to New Market. There I bought a book, Crazy Love, and some bicycling gloves. I was going to pick up the Emergency: Season Three DVD set, but Borders didn't have it, so I guess my birthday money will go to Amazon once again.

Jumping on beds...

We let our kids jump on the bed when we stay overnight in a hotel. "Sorry Super 8." takes this practice to higher heights.

A German hotel chain is actually sponsoring a bed jumping photo contest. People who upload their photos (like the one above) have a chance to win 10.000EUR.

The photos can be found by clicking on "Top 10" on the menu bar. If you want to see more than the top ten, click on "Mehr Fotos" and you're in.

1000 miles...

Just over 20% of my bike riding this year has come in the past two weeks. Last week's 76 and 27 mile rides and this week's 20+ miles per day average have put me over the 1,000 mile mark for '09. In past years, I would've passed this milestone in late March or early April, but my EMS schedule has made consistent riding difficult.

I hope to have another 100+ mile week next week. The possibility of participating in the Lawrence Bicycle Club's Muffin Ride on Saturday, August 8th, or Cal's Recovery Ride on Monday, August 10th, has me pumped.

Temporary display...

The details don't show up very well in this photo, but you can see that I have a very special masterpiece in my office. One of my daughters and a friend who spent the night with her decorated the cardboard covering the hole where my heat pump used to be. I'm hoping this is a temporary display, because working without an air conditioner is not very pleasant.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Red Green on middle-aged men...

For my fellow middle-aged men, words of wisdom to live by...

Pretty soon, you're going to find yourself going on and on about every topic under the sun, and you're going to wonder, "Why am I suddenly the Encyclopedia Britannica in shorts and a T-shirt? And why this urge to tell anyone with ears?" Well, you're a middle-aged man now. And middle-aged men know everything. Oh, yeah. Middle-aged men know the best route on any highway from one place to another place. We know how to fix stuff. We know how to cut the lawn properly. We know everything. But you got to keep this knowledge to yourself, all right? I know that you know that your neighbor is planting that shrub the wrong way, but don't say anything. I too have seen my wife wallpaper the bedroom the hard way. Just keep your mouth shut, all right? Because when they found out how smart we are, they get jealous, all right? I don't know who said, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing," but I'm guessing it was a middle-aged man. So whatever it is you know - and I know it's a lot - keep it under your hat and you'll be able to keep your friends. Believe me, I know.

(From "Red Green Show Memorable Quotes")

Chris Carmichael's take on TdF 09...

Another Tour de France is in the books, and it’s time to turn our attention to 2010. Well, almost. First, there’s another “big” goal on the horizon – the Leadville 100. Lance Armstrong will be the first rider in history to use the Tour de France as a tune-up race for the Leadville 100, and with a few weeks of rest and practice on the mountain bike, I think he has a pretty good chance of challenging six-time Leadville champion Dave Weins for the title.

In reality, while the initial plans for the 2010 season are already in the works, it’s going to be a little while before Lance and I sit down and really pore through the data from 2009. I’ve learned over the years that it’s a good idea to get some distance from the event before going back and analyzing it. Right now, it’s too fresh in everyone’s mind, and you end up micro-analyzing every little detail if you start the process too early. So, it will probably be in about two weeks, or the week before the Leadville 100, when we really delve into the details of what went right and wrong with Lance’s training this year and what we can tweak heading into next year.

One thing I know for sure is that the races Lance competed in – and the additional ones he will compete in – this year will have a big influence on his performance in 2010. I told him when we started this comeback journey that if he decided to race for two years, he would almost certainly be better in year two. With two Grand Tours in his legs, plus a bevy of shorter races, he will go into the fall and winter with a fitness level far greater than he had in the fall of 2008.

Grand Tours have always been a major component of Lance’s Tour de France preparation. Even before his first Tour de France victory in 1999, the 1998 Tour of Spain was crucial for developing the fitness and power needed to raise his performance level headed into the 1999 season.

Lance’s performance in the 2009 Tour de France was exceptional. While there are some who see his third-place finish as a failure based on the dominance he once displayed, I believe those people simply fail to grasp the magnitude of his achievement. Third place at the Tour de France this year wasn’t something we talked about as a realistic goal. At the end of the Giro d’Italia, I thought a top-10 finish at the Tour de France would be good. After seeing how well Lance adapted to the stress of the Giro and the bump in fitness that he achieved in the weeks following the race, I upgraded my expectations and thought that a top-5 finish at the Tour was within reach. I didn’t expect to see Lance standing on the podium in Paris, and the fact that he was there today bodes very well for what he may be able to accomplish in 2010.

But today wasn’t really about Lance Armstrong. It was a celebration of Alberto Contador’s convincing victory at the 2009 Tour de France. The Spaniard has won the past four Grand Tours he’s entered and his performances have improved with each one. In the beginning he was a climbing specialist who could minimize his losses in time trials, and now he’s a complete rider who can take time from his rivals in both the mountains and the time trials. He may not have the same leadership style as Armstrong, but for the moment he has the strength to win anyway. If there’s an improvement for Contador to make, it’s in his ability to marshal the efforts of his teammates and create an environment within his team that breeds unity and loyalty. If he manages that, he’ll have the support he needs to continue winning even after his rivals develop the power to challenge him in a toe-to-toe battle.

Today it’s also important to recognize the phenomenal performance of Mark Cavendish. Six stage wins within one Tour de France is almost unheard of, especially for a sprinter. The men who won more stages in a single Tour de France – Eddy Merckx and Freddy Maertens each won 8 – won time trials as well as road stages. It’s going to be tough for Cavendish to equal or exceed his stage tally in future Tours, but with speed and youth on his side, it’s certainly not out of the question.

As we reach the end of another Tour de France, I want to congratulate Alberto Contador on his second yellow jersey, Andy Schleck for a fine performance and his second white jersey as Best Young Rider, and Franco Pellizotti on his victory in the King of the Mountains competition. And of course, congratulations to Lance Armstrong on a successful return to the Tour de France. I hope everyone enjoyed the 2009 Tour de France, and that like me, you’re looking forward to another great race in 2010.

Guest Blogger, Chris

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Astana's 1-3 punch...

Astana won th 2009 Tour de France. Contador finished in yellow. Lance made the podium in third. The team finished #1 in the team GC standings. Pretty awesome. Hope for even better results, if that's possible, next year. Levi will be back. Contador, I'm guessing, will jump ship.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Alberto Contador takes the lead! His riding on the 15th stage placed him in the yellow jersey. His riding in today's 16th stage kept him in first, 1:37 ahead of 2nd place teammate Lance Armstrong. Can the two of them hang on to the top two spots? Can Kloden move up from fourth to third and make it an all-Astana podium? Who knows? We'll see over the next few days who has it in them to win the Tour! (Getty Image)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Most insulted man in the world...

Help John break a world record and he'll give to organizations dedicated to ending modern day slavery. It's a win-win proposal! Now get with it! Insult John! (Link to video...)

Emotional finish...

Loved Heinrich Haussler's victory salute today. At one point, overcome with emotion, he covered his face and wept. You can see the remnants of that moment in this shot of him crossing the finish line, a stage winner in the Tour de France. (Getty Images)

What God rewards...

I remember very little about the awards assembly at the end of my eighth grade year. Dozens of athletic and academic honors were being passed out to people I didn’t know at all. You see, I had only attended Sutter Middle School for one year and there were hundreds of students in the two grades that called Sutter home. I knew very few of my classmates and even fewer in my brother Jon’s seventh grade class. The handful of friends I’d made were mostly band geeks like myself. Trombone players. Trumpet players. Not jocks.

I was sitting at the back of the band on the stage in the auditorium, goofing off with my buddies in the shadows made by the curtains, when I heard someone call my name. I was shocked. I jumped up from my seat and headed to the front of the platform where I received that year’s eighth grade citizenship award. The honor was completely unexpected. I didn’t even know there were prizes for being a good citizen. I was pleased to find out they existed – at least at Sutter Middle School.

I think that was the only award I received in the three years I attended Sacramento public schools. It’s the only one I remember. If there were others, their memory has faded.

Do you have trophies or certificates like mine, awards you didn’t expect to receive? Do you still have them? Surely there are others with similar stories.

Well, God’s Word seems to indicate that surprise awards and unexpected praise will be handed out in Heaven to slack-jawed believers. Our Master Jesus told this story to give those who choose to follow him that hope.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
(Matthew 25:31-40, NIV)

Did you catch the puzzled looks on the faces of the righteous men and women who are commended here? They’re looking at Jesus, their King, and asking, “What are you talking about?” as he finishes up his words of praise. “We didn’t do anything special. Nothing worthy of mention here.”

But their Master insists. “You did so much. What you did for others in need you did for me.”

The story of the believers stops there, but there will be more, much, much more to their narrative. Theirs is the never-ending story. It goes on and on and on and on – forever! No “the end” to stop the delight of those who are here applauded. Can you see the puzzled looks disappear as the King welcomes the righteous into Paradise? Joy – unimaginable, complete – is now the dominant feature on each of their faces. Awe fills their hearts which thrill at the incredible reward given them for their service to the King.

Hey! Let me bring you into the story. If you’re a believer, one who has been made righteous by faith in Jesus, this is your story. You will be among the stunned followers of God’s Son rewarded on this day. Things you won’t even recall doing will be lifted up as praiseworthy. Moments when you showed compassion. Moments when you expressed love. Moments when you looked to the interests of others. They’ve all been recorded in God’s memory and they will be rewarded. I promise. They will not be overlooked. Not one little act of kindness will be forgotten.

Listen to Jesus words at another time. “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:40-42, NIV)

So go out and serve. Feed the hungry. Give the thirsty something to drink. Clothe the naked. Visit the sick and the imprisoned. If you will do these things, great will be your reward in Heaven.

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Hireling pastors are not limited to those who teach false doctrine and openly abuse the sheep. Hirelings come with all different kinds of plans and agendas. Some of these churches are led by men, however conservative in their theology, whose aims are related to vast growth at the expense of individual care of sheep. One church in our area is hoping to build a gymnasium on their church property that will cost in the millions. (This, when people are losing jobs and struggling to make ends meet.) And these hirelings wonder why increasing numbers of believers are rethinking “tithe” and how it’s being used. Another church just took out millions in a new loan to revamp their already beautiful church and to add a state-of-the-art recording studio. Why? So the “musicians” of the church worship band can make their own recordings. Onward Christian soldiers.

One of the saddest realities of hirelings shepherds is their near total lack of concern for their sheep. I could personally write a book about what this experience is like as a sheep. Hirelings are either trying to build their little kingdoms or are trying to salvage dying churches where the death rattle is audible. They never seem to comprehend that their churches are dying because the individual sheep are hurting, injured, wandering and alone. It’s all about making payroll and getting utilities paid before they shut the lights off. These are churches where you might be MIA as a member for months, but the letter you’ll get in your mailbox is a fund drive appeal. “Rescue us before the electricity is cut off. Brother can you spare us a gift on your VISA or Mastercard?”

Daubenmire hits it on the head in his piece. True remnant churches may or may not be small, but the hallmark of such churches is the presence of love and concern for the well-being of the sheep. If you have such a church and a godly pastor, thank the Lord on your knees each day for it. They are rare.

Guest Blogger, Ingrid (Slice of Laodicea)

Au revoir, Levi!

VITTEL, France (AP)—Lance Armstrong’s teammate Levi Leipheimer withdrew from the Tour de France before Friday’s 13th stage after breaking his wrist in a crash, his Astana team said.
Leipheimer fell off his bike about 1.86 miles from the finish line Thursday in a crash involving two-time Tour runner-up Cadel Evans.

The American was fourth overall, 39 seconds behind race leader Rinaldo Nocentini of Italy.
“Woke up to bad news. Levi is out with a broken wrist. Damn…,” Armstrong said on his Twitter feed.

Leipheimer is a very good friend of Armstrong within the Astana team that the Texan has said is riven by “tension” with Spaniard Alberto Contador.

Armstrong is in third place overall, 8 seconds behind Nocentini, who has not been regarded as a potential Tour winner. Contador, winner of the 2007 race, is in second place, 2 seconds ahead of Texan.


Kites are flying...

They're not flying in this picture, but these Mississippi Kites were soaring in circles just before I "shot" them on the wires in front of my house. Every year these beautiful birds of prey show up in my front yard. They hang around for a few weeks and then they're gone. Thankfully, I've never been divebombed by one. They do that when threatened, you know?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Why Lance will win...

Conventional wisdom--and plenty of experts--will tell you that it's much too early to predict the winner of the 2009 Tour de France. For one thing, the 21-stage, 3,459.5-kilometer race is barely into its second week. For another, the two top contenders - Astana teammates Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong--are separated by just two seconds. Finally, the four toughest mountain stages are yet to come, including the most highly anticipated, Stage 20 (which finishes atop Mont Ventoux and, coming the day before the largely processional stage that marks the Tour's end in Paris, is the last chance for anyone to gain serious time).

Those are three good reasons to declare the race wide open. But they're also exactly why I believe Armstrong will win. (Read more...)

Guest Blogger, Bill of Bicycling Magazine

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

No radios...

There was no radio contact between the riders and their team cars in the Tour today. They were riding blind (or is that deaf). Bicycling Magazine's James Startt talked with some of the riders and team managers before (and one after) the stage about the ban. This video records their responses.

Obama appointee's ideas...

Obama’s Science Czar John Holdren has some interesting ideas...

On forced abortions:

Indeed, it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society.

On government confiscation of babies:

One way to carry out this disapproval might be to insist that all illegitimate babies be put up for adoption — especially those born to minors, who generally are not capable of caring properly for a child alone. … It would even be possible to require pregnant single women to marry or have abortions, perhaps as an alternative to placement for adoption, depending on the society.

On targeted involuntary sterilization:

The development of a long-term sterilizing capsule that could be implanted under the skin and removed when pregnancy is desired opens additional possibilities for coercive fertility control. The capsule could be implanted at puberty and might be removable, with official permission, for a limited number of births.

But the good news is that as a “Science Czar” he doesn’t have to report to Congress. Oh, wait, that’s even worse...

Guest Blogger, Wintery Knight

Francis never said...

I've heard the quote once too often. It's time to set the record straight—about the quote, and about the gospel.

Francis of Assisi is said to have said, "Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words."

This saying is carted out whenever someone wants to suggest that Christians talk about the gospel too much, and live the gospel too little. Fair enough - that can be a problem. Much of the rhetorical power of the quotation comes from the assumption that Francis not only said it but lived it.

The problem is that he did not say it. Nor did he live it.

Mark Galli of Christianity Today (Continue Reading)

Six in a row...

My youngest went to the dentist about a week ago. As he examined her mouth, he noted multiple loose teeth. I don't remember exactly how many. All I know is that she came home with these instructions: "Wiggle your teeth and get them out!"

Being the obedient child I trained her to be, she set to work. Each day for the past six, she has had a freed-from-bondage tooth to put under her pillow. She's raking in the cash with the tooth fairy who was only late one of the six days. (Silly forgetful tooth fairy!)

There are a few more teeth that are loose. They'll come out soon, but not likely today. So ends the streak. Six for six isn't bad though. Here's the the end of baby teeth!

Grace for Bruno...

A real life youth pastor was tricked into a part in the raunchy Bruno recently. Here's what he said in an interview with Plugged In Online...

What does Jody Trautwein, a youth pastor at Point of Grace Ministries church in Birmingham, Ala., think about getting punk'd by Brüno? When the New York Post asked him that very question, he responded, "Having counseled those that have been in the homosexual lifestyle and understanding the perversion and deception that accompany that lifestyle, I did not think him that unusual. I had encountered those things before." He continued, "No one likes to be deceived. But the bottom line was, whether it was Brüno or the man I now know as Sacha Baron Cohen, I knew that the truth of God's word was going straight into his heart."

More to the point of this review, Trautwein told The Birmingham News that even though he unwittingly became a part of the film, he's not interested in seeing it. "There can be very blasphemous things in there," he said. "I have no desire to see the movie in its entirety. I have no desire to expose my heart and mind to what's in there. It's an example of the deception and perversion that is trying to enter our world through the entertainment industry. The holy and precious things of God are not to be touched and not to be mocked. I pray God has mercy on Sacha Baron Cohen."

Well said, Pastor Trautwein. Well said. (

Friday, July 10, 2009

Can Lance win?

Can Lance win? Bicycling Magazine correspondent James Startt talks with riders and team managers at the 2009 Tour de France to see what they think Lance Armstrong's chances of winning. (Taped before Stage 7.)

Casartelli's memory may help...

ANDORRA LA VELLA, Andorra – The Tour de France’s most decisive swing is now in full flow, as the vertical examinations and oxygen-starved trails of the Pyrenees claw at the lungs and minds of cycling’s hardiest.

It is here, among the mountainous splendor of this wonderful region, that danger looms for Lance Armstrong. The obstacles to his ambition of winning an eighth title are starting to stack up.

Armstrong knows he will have to reach deep within himself if he is to emerge from this section with his chances intact, somehow finding the force and willpower to persuade his muscles to forget they spent three and a half years in retirement exile.

The 37-year-old is not a man who ever lacks for motivation. But if there were to be a time when external factors could infuse him with additional reserves of spirit, it would surely be this weekend.

Saturday’s eighth stage finishes at Saint Girons, with the following day’s trek beginning at Saint Gaudens, nearly 30 miles away. Between the two is a winding pass that leads to the Col du Portet d’Aspet, a picturesque rise that will forever be etched with cycling tragedy.

On July 18, 1995, Fabio Casartelli – an Italian riding for the Motorola team – died after crashing on the descent at 60 mph when his unhelmeted head collided with a concrete pillar.

Armstrong was a teammate of Casartelli, and the pair had shared dinner the previous night and spoken at length on that fateful morning. The following day, the peloton stood for a minute’s silence before proceeding slowly as a unit to the finish line, allowing the Motorola team to cross first, uncontested, as a mark of respect.

Armstrong still had his own plans to honor his friend, however, and decided to seek victory in the stage leading to Limoges two days later – one which Casartelli had been determined to win.

With a devastating late break thanks to a fearless descent, Armstrong crossed the line more than a minute ahead, lifting his head and arms to the skies for what remains perhaps the most emotional stage win of his career.

In recent years, Armstrong has maintained contact with Casartelli’s parents and his son, Marco, who was just a baby when his father was killed.

“When Fabio died, it was my worst day in cycling,” Armstrong said. “It is something I will never forget, and it means something every time I come to this area.

“For someone to lose their life in the course of doing their job, in the sport they love, is a hard thing for anyone to come to terms with.

“That stage win was something special because of the significance of it, and – even now, when I think about Fabio and his family – it puts a lot of things in perspective. It sometimes hardens your resolve to stay positive.”

Armstrong may need all his resolve after being given a firsthand look at the climbing power of Astana colleague Alberto Contador on Friday.

France’s Brice Feillu won the stage from Barcelona to Arcalis, in the tiny principality of Andorra, after taking part in a long and forceful breakaway. Yet Contador made the most significant move of the Tour so far, cutting away from a peloton that included Armstrong over the closing miles and opening up a sizeable gap.

Italy’s Rinaldo Nocentini, part of the main breakaway, will take over the yellow jersey on Saturday but is not expected to be an overall threat. Contador is in second, having overturned the 19-second advantage Armstrong held over him, with the American now two seconds back in third place.

In his prime, and without having spent three years in self-imposed exile, there is little doubt that Armstrong could have kept the piston-legged Contador within sight on these steep climbing sections.

But now, with seven stages down, the Spaniard is starting to look like a champion – and Armstrong knows the Tour could be won or lost amid these undulating surrounds. If he gets through the Pyrenees with a Tour triumph still a serious possibility, it may owe much to muscle memory, a champion’s spirit, and the inspirational memory of a fallen friend.

Guest Blogger, Martin (

Stage 7 recap...

Today’s stage, just one of three mountain finales in this 2009 Tour de France, was destined to start winnowing the contenders from the pretenders. But the subtext and hype was would this also be some type of showdown between the two stars of the Astana Pro Cycling Team, 7-time champion Lance Armstrong, and Alberto Contador, the Spanish sensation most agree is the best stage racer in the world today. Contador was keeping his cards close to his chest, the norm for the soft spoken 3-time Grand Tour champion. Lance had said he would follow the race, do his best, and if Contador “flew” then he would stay back with the other leaders and not chase him down. Fans believed in his word, skeptics doubted Lance could ever be such a team player. They were wrong.

As a break of 9 riders went down the road, Lance’s Astana team massed at the front of the peloton, controlling the tempo reminiscent of the old USPS / Discovery Channel days. With a gap at around 7-8 minutes at the base of the climb the Astana armada kept plugging along, no other team daring to come to the front. But Astana was not looking like they were hunting for a stage win, more so sending a message.

With the day’s race leader Cancellara already dropped off the pace, the only question really to be answered was who would be in yellow? As the break up front fell apart, Agritubel’s Brice Feillu survived to take the stage win. As the French rider celebrated and the other 7 riders scrambled in, it was Contador lighting up the final 2kms, coming around hard on the left hand side and accelerating away. What would Lance do now? He kept his word.

Lance said yesterday, “If he (Contador) goes, and nobody can hang onto him, then I'll just stay with the other leaders. That's the way to be.” And that’s the way it was, too. Lance did not follow Contador’s attack and came in with main rivals Evans, Sastre, Menchov, the Schleck brothers, and Vande Velde.

However, a funny thing happened on the way to the podium … AG2R’s Rinaldo Nocentini – who was in the day’s escape - was sitting pretty far down on GC at 2’53” back from Contador, but thanks to his 4th place showing today he managed to edge Contador by 6” and Lance by 8” – a brand new Maillot Jaune!

So what to think of this? All in all it’s a very good thing for Team Astana. AG2R had no real plans to be in yellow, but with a valued gift like this they will now defend it their utmost for as long as possible. Astana couldn’t be happier: they have their top men in the 2,3,4 and 6 spots and over a minute or more on their main rivals. With two more days in the mountains that shouldn’t be decisive they can now focus on staying in the front area of the pack, watching their rivals, and conserving as much energy for the days ahead. A good day in the mountains and a good day for Lance and his team here at the Tour.

Ciao for now!

Guest Blogger, Chris

A hot one...

Today looks to be the hottest day of the year so far. Some sites predict a high near 105F. Tomorrow will be a bit cooler, but not so much that you'd notice. Temps will be hovering around 100F for a few days before dropping into the mid-90s.

Let the Word guide...

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16)

I knew a man from India who got hold of a New Testament, was converted and started to preach, but he had no background at all. That is, he started from scratch. He did not have a Greek Orthodox or Roman Catholic or Protestant background. He just started from the beginning. He didn’t know anything about churches. He testified, “What I did when I had a problem in the church was to go straight to the New Testament and settle it. I let the New Testament tell me what I was to do.” The result was that God greatly blessed him and his work in the land of India.

This is what I would like to see in our church–the New Testament order of letting Scripture decide matters. When it comes to a question–any question–what does the Word of God say? All belief and practices should be tested by the Word; no copying unscriptural church methods. We should let the Word of God decide.

"Lord, help us to lead our churches to seek clear direction from Your Word and Your Spirit. Amen."

A.W. Tozer, Tozer on Christian Leadership, July 10

Astana dominates...

At the end of today's 7th stage, Astana showed why they're the best. They kept up a punishing tempo for kilometer after kilometer in an attempt to crack yellow jersey holder, Fabian Cancellara. They succeeded. The mailot jaune dropped off their pace barely half way up the final climb and far from the finish line. Hats (or helmets) off to the Swiss rider. He kept the leader's cloak for six stages.

Astana did not, however, take the yellow jersey today. Nocentini, an Italian in the day's breakaway, held off a charging Contador to take first place by six seconds. Armstrong is just two seconds back in third and Leipheimer thirty-one seconds in arrears to the Livestrong man. Kloden finished in the leader's group and remains in the top ten. That's four riders in the top ten for Astana. Not bad.

I can see an Astana one-two-three at the finish if their pacemaking can continue to punish the field in the mountains. Wouldn't that be a feat? There's a long way to go and a lot of riders to destroy before that happens.

Here's to tomorrow! Go Astana!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Legends of the Tour...

Ran across a crazy graphic novel style video on Versus' website. Thought you might enjoy it - I would've embedded it, but it didn't work very well with Blogger's layout.

Two for Cav...

If you believed Mark Cavendish, it was one of those spur-of-the-moment things. According to him, the dramatically unexpected tactical shift that prefaced his win in yesterday's third stage of the 2009 Tour de France, and may also have transformed the race into one of the most memorable in its 106-year history, just came into his team's heads as they turned a corner and the wind changed.

It was hard to believe. At this level, cycling is like chess on wheels. Fate can play a part, certainly, but brilliant gambits are usually the result of careful forethought. Yesterday Cavendish and his eight Columbia-HTC colleagues manipulated the race with a collective skill that could only have been the result of rigorous planning, even if the details of timing were left to the moment.

The stage began in Marseille, and for 130km it proceeded as if the entire field had taken a pledge to reproduce the events of the previous day's run from Monaco to Brignoles as precisely as possible.

Taking advantage of a series of relatively friendly climbs through the whitened hills of the Bouches-du-Rhône, including one crest that provided a perfect view of Cézanne's Mont Saint-Victoire, four unheralded riders – Samuel Dumoulin, Maxime Bouet, Koen De Kort and Rubén Pérez – made a break that they were able to stretch to 12 minutes.

Needing to preserve the yellow jersey for Fabian Cancellara, the Saxo Bank team again rode at the front of the field for much of the day, halving the gap but then letting it expand again. As soon as the field had circled the ancient walls of Arles and turned into the flatlands of the Camargue, however, the white and yellow jerseys of the Columbia-HTC squad took the initiative.

Flying along the straight roads running south-west, with neither shade nor shelter, the nine Columbia riders made a thrilling sight as they lined themselves out at the head of the peloton, gradually reeling in the four escapers. Their action, Cavendish said, was a rebuke to those other teams choosing to take it easy in preparation for today's team time-trial.

"We were the only team that wanted to ride today," he said. "Saxo Bank did a great job early on but none of the others wanted to take the race on. They were saving themselves for tomorrow, so it was left up to us. In the end, if you take it on you're going to succeed. We took it on."

That much became apparent when, with 32km to go, the riders turned right and straight into a headwind. Suddenly the Columbia riders accelerated as one, taking it in turns to make the pace in order to fight the wind and escape the rest of the field.

Even Cavendish joined in, conspicuous in his green jersey. Leaving around 150 riders trailing, they were joined by a dozen others and, within minutes, by the leading quartet, who were absorbed into a group now 28 strong.

The presence in this larger breakaway of Lance Armstrong and two of his Astana lieutenants immediately became the subject of speculation. Since Alberto Contador, who started the day with a 22-second lead over Armstrong in the general classification, had missed the break, this clearly presented the Texan with the opportunity to overhaul his designated team leader and set his sights on the yellow jersey. Could Columbia-HTC's strategists have enlisted Armstrong's help in order to reinforce the break's chances of success?

When that was put to Armstrong, he issued an airy denial. "You know what the wind is doing and you see a turn coming up," he said, "so it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that you have to go to the front.

"It was good positioning, experience, a little bit of luck. Before that corner I was 20 guys back and I decided it was an idea just to move up to be on that if it went. There wasn't a lot of talking."

Other participants in the break included six Skil-Shimano riders, two each from Cervelo and Milram, and Cancellara. But it was Astana's Yaroslav Popovych and Haimar Zubeldia who helped Columbia's George Hincapie, Michael Rogers and Tony Martin to hold the gap between the leading group and the peloton at around half a minute, effectively acting as Armstrong's lieutenants in the day's deeper narrative strand.

As they headed towards the finish line in La Grande-Motte, a 1960s holiday centre on the Golfe du Lion, Cavendish played out his now-customary endgame, rocketing off the wheel of the faithful Mark Renshaw and this time dismissing the final challenge of the 31-year-old Thor Hushovd, one of the great sprinters of his generation.

"A couple of attacks went," Cavendish said, "and Mark [Renshaw] showed his experience by keeping his cool and using the slipstream of the guys who'd attacked to deliver me perfectly. I had to leave it late today, inside the last 200 metres, because of the headwind. Mark didn't slow down at all and I was able to springboard off him."

The real action, however, had come 32km earlier, when Armstrong got himself into position to go with the day's decisive move. "It wasn't like it was an ambush," he said. Maybe not. But for Contador and the other favourites who got left behind, it was certainly a mugging, executed with deadly panache.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Who are you?

So Jesus is in charge and pastors are servants of Jesus with specific functions in the church. What does that make those who aren’t pastors or teachers or evangelists or any of the other parts of the body with that equipping, preparing, building up function?

It makes them servants of Jesus with specific functions in the church. Every member of the body is in the exact same position. We are all under Christ’s authority. He is Head over all of us. And we all have gifts.

Listen to God’s word to his body.

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Corinthians 12:7-11, NIV)

You have the exact same authority as any pastor does when you faithfully serve Jesus with the gift that you’ve been given by the Holy Spirit. Jesus grants you authority to do what he’s given you to do. As you humbly serve, your actions help the church.

You speak words of wisdom under his authority and the church makes good choices. You exercise your faith under his authority and the church is brought through difficult times. You discern between good and evil spirits under his authority and the church is protected. You contribute generously to the needs of others under his authority and the poor are helped. You show mercy toward sinners under his authority and sinners become saints. You lead humbly under his authority and the church follows Jesus more readily. You serve others under his authority and God’s people experience his love. You encourage others under his authority and God’s peace comes over those who are afraid.

Do you see how important you are? You are a servant of Jesus Christ. You are no less important to the body than any other member. You have gifts God wants you to use. I am a servant of Jesus too. I am no more important to the body than any of you are. I have gifts God wants me to use. We are all parts of Jesus’ body, the church. We all have our specific functions. We all express God’s grace and love in different ways as he empowers us.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 sums it all up for me.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.” (NIV)

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Four in the top ten...

Astana finished the day well. Four of their nine riders - Cantador, Kloden, Leipheimer and Armstrong - in the top ten of the '09 Tour. It's got to make the other teams nervous. No one else came close to the Kazakhstan-sponsored team. Ride for the win, guys! Ride for the win!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Art bike...


To help raise awareness for LANCE ARMSTRONG’s mission to bring heightened global attention to the cancer burden and his anti-cancer art show STAGES, which will open its doors in Paris on July 16, world-renowned designer MARC NEWSON has created a special TREK time trial art bike for Lance’s debut ride on the Tour de France on July 4 in Monaco.

Lance made history in 2005 when he rode an artist-designed Trek TTX in his final run in the Tour de France before retiring, and his return to professional racing in 2009 has been marked by a series of artist-designed bikes as a continuation of this groundbreaking collaboration with the creative community. For the commencement of the Tour de France, it is only fitting that an artist of Newson’s stature customize the ride of cycling’s most accomplished racer and cancer’s most outspoken advocate.

Born in Sydney, Australia in 1963, and based in London, Marc Newson is a revolutionary designer whose work in the fields of aerospace, furniture, product, jewelry, interior, and vehicle design have earned him countless accolades from the design community. He counts companies like Nike, Ford, Dom Pérignon, Cappellini, Qantas, Samsonite and Jaeger Le Coultre among his A-list clientele, and Newson's now iconic “Lockheed Lounge” remains the most expensive piece of furniture ever sold at auction. In 2005, he was selected as one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people. In 2007, he completed the cabin design for Spaceplane, a sub orbital spacecraft to be produced by EADS Astrium, scheduled to take passengers into space beginning in 2012. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, London’s Design Museum, Musée national d'Art moderne-Centre Georges Pompidou, and the Vitra Design Museum. He is represented by Gagosian Gallery.

As his first run on the Tour de France after retiring from professional racing three years ago, the opening time trial will be one of the most high-profile moments in Lance's historic comeback and one appropriately commemorated by Newson's graphic treatment. Featuring subtle flat black paint offset by glossy contrast details including Newson's “Stroboscopic” rear wheel design that appears to pulse as it spins, the bike brings a new level of design sophistication to the most legendary cycling event in the world while simultaneously flying the flag of cancer awareness in Livestrong yellow. (Read more...)

Climbing Columbiere with Lance...

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Bet Liam doesn't soon forget this day. Riding the Columbiere with Lance! What a day for an 8-year-old! What an 8-year-old!

What are pastors?

What are pastors? They are servants of Jesus Christ just like every other believer. They are body parts. They have specific functions in the church, functions which are no more important, no less important than the functions of every other member of the body.

Don’t miss what I’m saying. This is vital to a proper understanding of the church.

Let me make it personal. I am a fellow servant with you of Jesus Christ. The only authority I have is that which our Master delegates to me as I humbly submit myself to him and serve his church. He gives me his authority so that the church might be built up as I function in the way he means for me to function as a part of his body.

Read the pastor’s job is from Ephesians 4.

Jesus “gave some to be…pastors and teachers…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”

My job is to help the church by preparing others for works of service, by encouraging unity, by building others up, by pointing the way toward maturity. I do all this under the leadership of the one who gave me to be a pastor. I do all this so that the church won’t be tossed back and forth by new winds of false teaching. I do all this so that every member of the church, myself included, will grow in their relationship to Jesus.

God gives me his authority for the tasks he’s given me. So I encourage unity under his authority for your benefit or I encourage it in vain. I rebuke under his authority for your good or I rebuke in vain. I prepare you for service under his authority for your profit or I prepare you in vain. I correct under his authority for your gain or I correct in vain.

Everything I do for the church of Jesus Christ I do under his authority or I do it in vain. He is the gift-giver. I am only the gift-receiver and gift-user. Without his power behind the gift, I am worthless to the church.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Who's in charge?

Who's in charge of the church?

The Bible is very plain in its answer to this query. The Head of the church is Jesus. He has no equal. He is above all. He has authority over every believer on planet Earth. He is in charge of every local gathering of saints.

Listen to God's word. Toward the beginning of Paul's letter to the church in Colosse Jesus is described in this way.

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." (Colossians 2:15-20, NIV)

Any doubt who reigns supreme? It’s Jesus. And he's head not only in the church. He rules the universe!

Paul wrote similar words about our Savior in Ephesians.

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ." (Ephesians 1:7-10, NIV)

Jesus is described as "...far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." (Ephesians 1:21-23, NIV)

"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

"Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

"From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."
(Ephesians 4:11-16, NIV)

Again I ask: Is there any doubt as to who's in charge? Jesus is the Head of the church and her Savior, the one who redeemed her through his blood, buying forgiveness for sin. He is Ruler of all things, above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given. No pastor, priest, pope or prophet is over the church. No clerk, chairman or committee member rules the roost. No trustee, tither or teacher is head of the body. No giver, greeter or globe-trotting missionary reigns in the kingdom.

Jesus alone is in charge. Those who tell you anything different are either sadly deceived or supremely arrogant. The church is not a multi-headed monstrosity. It is a single-headed body. It is Christ's body over which he is Head.

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