Monday, June 29, 2009

Facebook faceoff...

I couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking as he pulled out his iPhone and took advantage of a new Facebook application — right in the middle of the sermon.

It was then that I realized the narcissistic machine that is Facebook.

Shifting uncomfortably in my chair, I found myself desiring to do the same. I shuddered. Have I really come to this place where I'm more concerned about what's taking place on Facebook than what's going on in this church service? More concerned about a self-serving social networking site than this Bible on my lap?

Later on that evening, I thought more about my internal battle between Facebook and my Bible. I understand that one of my desires as a Christian should be to know God more deeply; the reality is that I spend very little time actually getting to know Him. Too often, my hours are spent pursuing other human beings through convenient electronic means like Facebook. My life can quickly become all about striving to know my buddies better than my Lord.

I struggled with this very battle just yesterday. I woke up early to prepare for an 8:30 a.m. class. The two weeks prior I had spent each morning reading and studying my Bible. But on this day, the first places I went were my blog, Facebook and my e-mail. As the day progressed, I found myself talking to people more through technology than face-to-face. After a few weeks I was losing focus on my goals in life, and focusing on things like my status updates and friends online.

I sit down to finish my paper for class. But instead of opening Word, I open up Firefox, type in the Web address, and check Facebook. Then refresh the page. Then open Word. Then switch back to Gmail. Honestly, my technology can be exhausting.

The signs are everywhere. And I'm growing utterly disgusted with myself. What is wrong with me?

It's not my intention to write a 1,200-word article encouraging others to give up Facebook, social networking, or the Internet. I plan to continue updating my status with random trivialities such as "Tim is attempting to write ... Tim just ate bread with mold ... Tim is heading to the basketball game" and the like. I'm still going to post notes, write on walls, and chat with friends.

But if all of this continues at the expense of getting to know God better, I want to throw it all out. All of it. Drastic, yes, but I've got to be willing to do whatever it takes. (
Read more...)

Guest Blogger, Tim Sweetman (Copyright 2009 in Boundless)

Mid-America missions...

God continues to amaze as he works to spread the good news of Jesus to the world through EFC-MAYM. Every time I turn around it seems another person from Mid-America is going to the mission field.

This past year Brad Carpenter returned from Rwanda, Africa, to marry Chelsea Roberts at Northridge Friends in Wichita. Since their wedding last August, the couple has been traveling to churches all across the U.S. telling about God’s goodness to them and his plans for their future together in missions service. The couple planned and executed an excellent future missionaries retreat in Colorado in conjunction with Evangelical Friends Mission Board meetings happening at the same time. Many of the Board members spoke to the retreat attendees about their work in missions. All in attendance were encouraged.

Liz Wine from University Friends and Molly Black from Friendswood Friends have both been approved to teach in the missionaries’ school in Kigali, Rwanda. These young women, called by God to this service, should be on site by the middle of August. The school year there starts in September.

The hearts of Jeremy and Betty Smuck, Andrea Byrne and Candi Foster continue to beat with passion for the lost in Aguascalientes, Mexico. We are grateful for their service and encouraged as those on the field send frequent “new believer” reports. The church is growing! Candi, of course, has not been able to be in the city she loves for several months. She fell ill while in Mexico and had to return to the U.S. After some time, the doctors searching for a diagnosis for her condition settled on chronic fatigue syndrome, a debilitating set of symptoms that drain a person’s energy reserves. Candi is on a year-long medical leave from EFM. She continues to receive prayer and financial support. A decision about Candi’s future service with EFM will be made at the Board’s November meeting in Oregon.

Prayers continue to go up to God concerning a church-planting missionary for Sinaloa, Mexico. When we merged with EFM, Sinaloa became an EFM mission point. Since that time, Chuck Mylander and others have actively sought to find the right persons to serve there. Ideally, a team would be sent. Could God be calling you to this needy place?

Finally, there are the dozens from EFC-MAYM who ministered around the world short term. Teams or couples or individuals visited, among other places, Bhutan, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Mexico, Nepal, India and Bangladesh. Others are in the process of raising funds to go later this year.

The 75th anniversary of the beginning of the mission Burundi was properly marked and enthusiastically celebrated. We are grateful to have several from Burundi here with us for Ministry Conference, including Dr. Elisee from the newly re-opened Kibimba Hospital.

As leader of an excellent team of missions mobilizers, I thank all those how have prayed and worked hard and contributed generously to the work of the Evangelical Friends Church worldwide.

On the bike for them...

Demand Media Video -- powered by
This video is powerful. Lance on his bike, ignoring his critics, riding to erradicate cancer. Enjoy this then watch Lance try for 8.

No class divisions...

On the ‘Info’ tab of my Facebook profile I have a short list of favorite quotations. Some of these quotes are from books. Others are from movies. A few are from personal friends, youth group members or family members. Most are just plain silly, but a few are profoundly serious.

One of my favorites is from a highly intelligent Kindergartener. This wise young girl once said, “My teacher is Mrs. Neifert. Her husband owns the church.”

While we all know that’s not true, it reflects a prominent mindset in the church today. Many church goers believe erroneously that God has put the pastor in charge of the church. Some believe that he has some special authority in the kingdom of Heaven beyond that of mere mortals. He is the professional whose prayers are more powerful and more effective, availing much more than the average Joe’s entreaties. Folks divide the church into two classes of people – clergy and laity.

Borrowing Hindu terminology, the clergy, in many people’s minds, are the high caste
Brahmins of churchdom. They serve full-time. They are the ministers, the teachers, the “chosen ones.” Lay people, by comparison, are the untouchable Dalits, the lowest caste. They are “just volunteers.” They do the bidding of their high and exalted pastors.

I’m so grateful for my Quaker heritage. The peculiar branch of Jesus’ church that I belong to believes in the priesthood of all believers. It recognizes the giftedness of everyone and allows all to participate fully in the life of the church.

Oh that we Quakers – no, every church – would completely embrace these truths and put them into practice. God help us all, each and every believer, to be obedient to our Lord’s personal callings and corporate commissions.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's the shoes...

Coming to a shoe store near you...Livestrong Mr. Cartoon tatooed Nike Air Force 1 sneakers. Interesting story behind the shoes at (Nike is re-releasing 8 classic styles with Livestrong colors to try to cash in on Lance Armstrong's return to cycling. Smart people, those Nike advertisers.)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Who Jesus is...

I ran across this amazing description of Jesus spoken by Mark Driscoll on a blog berating him for wearing a t-shirt with our Savior depicted as a hip hop DJ at the turntables. This blog ran the man down because his shirt was irreverant and disrespectful. Can they not look past the garment and see Mark's heart. He is passionate about Jesus. The same blog complained because Mark talks about sexual sin on occasion. They chastised him for suggesting that Jesus was tempted by women.
Do they not know the Scriptures?

Hebrews 4:15-16 says, "...we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (NIV)

Jesus was tempted in every way. He was tempted but he did not sin. That is why he can sympathize with us in our struggles with sin. It is why he is the most wonderful savior.

Thanks Mark for this word of sound theology. I may not agree with you on everything, but on these matters we're more than okay.

Obedience is love...

“If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!

“Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
(John 8:42-47, NIV)

Those who are God’s children love him. That’s the first message in this group of verses. The true believer’s desire is to please God. They choose obedience out of love for their Savior.

1 John 5 begins with an affirmation of this truth. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:1-5, NIV)

Love for God is not a gushy feeling. Love is obedience to God’s commands. And, don’t miss this, obeying God’s commands is not burdensome for those who are his. He gives them victory over sin. Remember, those whom the Son sets free shall be free indeed!

The other message here in John 8 is that those who are not God’s children, but rather the children of the devil, do not love God. They hate him. They want to kill him – or if he’s unavailable, kill his followers. They want to defame him – or if he’s unassailable, defame his children. By their hate-filled actions, you will recognize them. They are the devil’s children. They are behaving like their father – a murderer and a liar.

Do you love God? Do you obey him? Same question. If you love God, if you obey him, if you believe in his Son, for that is one of his commands, you can know that you are in fact his child. The family resemblance is obvious. People know who your daddy is.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Astana's nine named...

Astana announced their NINE for the TdF today. It's an amazing roster - o-ne of the best ever assembled for any bike race.
  • Lance Armstrong (USA)
  • Alberto Contador (ESP)
  • Andreas Kloden (GER)
  • Levi Leipheimer (USA)
  • Dmitriy Muravyev (KAZ)
  • Sergio Paulinho (POR)
  • Yaroslav Popovych (UKR)
  • Gregory Rast (SUI)
  • Haimar Zubeldia (ESP)

Most of these guys have podium finishes under their belt. Two have won the Tour. Contador has one all three of the Grand Tours - one of only five men to do so. Leipheimer has won the Tour of California three times.

Can't wait for July 4th. Go Astana!

Are you free?

“They answered him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?’

“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.’

“‘Abraham is our father,’ they answered.

“‘If you were Abraham’s children,’ said Jesus, ‘then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the things your own father does.’

“‘We are not illegitimate children,’ they protested. ‘The only Father we have is God himself.’”
(John 8: 33-41, NIV)

The conversation goes on, but I want us to stop here today. Jesus seems now to be addressing those who had not truly believed. Certainly those who had believed would not be set on killing him. He would not be suggesting, as they clearly understood him to be saying, that they were illegitimate children.

The ‘they’ in verse 33, then, must be the Pharisees who started the argument that led to this point. Their hatred of Jesus is recorded repeatedly throughout the gospels. They were jealous and wished for nothing more than our Master’s death. A little while later in the book of John, Jesus says of the devil: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” (John 10:10, NIV) The actions of these Jesus-haters, proves that they are not God’s children, nor even Abraham’s, but rather Satan’s. They are acting like their father.

Still, Jesus’ words to them are filled with longing for their salvation. He tries, unsuccessfully, to point the way to the Father. He tells them plainly that they are slaves to sin and offers to set them free, but they refuse. Remember true disciples repent when confronted with their sinfulness. These men, though religious, know nothing of sorrow over sin. They do not repent. They get defensive. They argue. They let their self-righteous pride get in the way.

I hope none of you is like these men, depending on religious performance or good deeds or family connections to get passed the pearly gates of Heaven is sheer foolishness.

There is no way to gain eternal life except believing, that is putting your trust in, Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV)

Paul agreed: “…it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV)

No one gets in on their own merit. No one! You must believe on Jesus. You can get in only on his merit. He alone is righteous. He alone can save.

True believers do what Jesus commands. They repent of their sin. They believe on Jesus. They are set free by the Son.

Are you free? If the son has set you free, you are free indeed. Trust in him today. Those who believe are adopted into God’s family.

“…to all who [receive Jesus], to those who [believe] in his name, he [gives] the right to become children of God…” (John 1:12, adapted from NIV)

Children, I would add, who act like their Father.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Texting the ten...

If God had texted the 10 to Moses...

1. no1 b4 me. srsly.
2. dnt wrshp pix/idols
3. no omg's
4. no wrk on w/end (sat 4 now; sun l8r)
5. pos ok - ur m&d r cool
6. dnt kill ppl
7. :-X only w/ m8
8. dnt steal
9. dnt lie re: bf
10. dnt ogle ur bf's m8. or ox. or dnkey. myob.

M, pls rite on tabs & giv 2 ppl.

ttyl, JHWH.

ps. wwjd?

(Thanks to JAMIE QUATRO)

Saltshaker teams embark...

Above and below are pictures of the 2009 Satlshaker teams headed to Aguascalientes, Mexico, (above) and Burundi, Rwanda and Congo, Africa, (below) this month and next. These teams will participate in celebrations in churches wherever they go. The Africa team members will be on hand for the Burundi Friends Church's 75th anniversary festivities. The Mexico team will help the EFM missionaries on site with Vacation Bible School.

Please pray for these teams! You can follow their adventures online by visiting (My in-laws, missionaries on loan to the US, formerly of Burundi and Rwanda, are part of the Africa team.)

What's the purpose?

Young Iranians are taking to the streets to revolt against the mullahs that control every aspect of daily life in Iran. Maybe the winds of freedom blowing from Iraq have caused many brave Iranians to crave that same liberty which has been denied them for so long. Our President has been very slow and hesitant to speak strongly on behalf of those who are risking their lives. Former Presidents have quickly rallied behind those in different countries who wanted so much to whiff that same air of freedom that we breathe every day in our nation. (One, though, does wonder if that air of freedom we breathe is being more and more contaminated with each and every passing day.)

While all this is going on, what does America's self-appointed pastor decide to do? Rick Warren is scheduled to speak at the annual convention of The Islamic Society of North America, July 3-6, in our nation's capital. What kind of "mosque growth" tips will he give to the conference participants, which include Dr. Muzammil Hussain Siddiqi, an ardent Islamic fascist/terrorist who led a flag burning in Los Angeles where he spat on and cursed the American flag?

Rick Warren has already stated Muslims and Christians worship the same God, so it is hardly likely he will preach from John 14:6 at this upcoming conference.

What will Rick say? What can he say to keep up his image of being a world reconciler, a healer among all faiths, the promoter of his own P.E.A.C.E. program? Will he be like the apostle Paul who said, "We can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth?" Will he be like our Savior when he faced the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate?

Whatever one wants to say about our President, at least he makes no claims of being a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But Rick Warren does make that claim about himself.

I remember very vividly some years ago a prominent Baptist pastor in our state, not far from where I live, came to Rick Warren's defense because Rick was beginning to get some criticism for his wayward beliefs. In the state Baptist paper, this pastor of a megachurch simply responded to a letter by saying that all the naysayers of Rick Warren can easily be discounted because God's hand of blessing was upon Rick due to his church's large growth and his wide influence around the world. The implication in this pastor's defense was that all the critics of Rick Warren were probably pastors of small churches, and therefore they simply were not of the caliber of a Rick Warren.

God was blessing Rick, so we should never question Rick, especially if you and I can't hold a candle to Rick's success.

Since Islam is growing faster around the world than all Purpose-Driven churches put together, then I guess we should conclude that God (or, Allah; it makes no difference, remember?) must be blessing Islam?

So while the Purpose Driven Life pastor is speaking at the annual convention of The Islamic Society of North America in some coming days, what shall we make of the deaths on the streets of Iran that are purposefully driven by a bloody ruthless regime whose "God" some say is no different than the Lord God whom Christians worship and serve?

From Heartland Baptist Church

Proof of belief...

Our Master, Jesus, was speaking with a group of Pharisees one day and a number of eavesdroppers put their faith in him. To these wet-behind-the-ears new believers, he spoke words of challenge and hope.

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32, NIV)

When he says, “hold to my teaching,” please understand that Jesus isn’t talking about knowing what he teaches, he’s talking about living out what he commands. Jesus’ disciples, those who are really his followers, do what he says.

Isn’t that the point of the “house upon a rock” story our kids hear in Sunday School? “…everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27, NIV)

Doing what Jesus teaches is proof of belief. James wrote more bluntly. He shouts it out loud: “…faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:17, NIV)

By implication two things must be true. First, a child of God will do what Jesus teaches him to do. Second, anyone who does not do what Jesus teaches is not a child of God.

A quick point of clarification here. I am not saying that someone who slips up and sins from time to time is not a true believer. We all fail from time to time. We have our weaknesses. We aren’t perfect.

What I am saying is that a true believer will make obedience his regular habit. Sin will grieve him immediately. He will repent of it quickly. He will return to obedience without hesitation. He will find joy in the freedom that God gives to his children.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Like father, like son...

You know, “like father, like son,” – and for that matter, “like father, like daughter” – applies in the spiritual realm. Every person who lives and breathes on planet Earth bears a strong resemblance to their spiritual father. They act like their father whether their natural fallen father, the devil, or their adopted-by-faith-in-Jesus-perfectly-holy dad, God. Saints act like the savior. Sinners act like the serpent.

Jesus recognized this fact and spoke of it clearly.

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit,” Jesus said to the crowd gathered around him one day. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:43-45, NIV)

Jesus believed that you could see the father’s traits in the son’s actions if you watched carefully. He urges his followers to listen intently to what a daughter teaches so we can know to whom she belongs. Jesus assures us that they can tell God’s children and the devil’s apart.

Inspect the fruit of those to whom you listen. Watch their actions.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Don't forget your anniversary...

Everyone gets married in June, right? Well, if your anniversary is this month, you'll enjoy this story.

A man rushed to the jewelry counter in the store where I work soon after the doors opened one morning and said he needed a pair of diamond earrings. I showed him a wide selection, and quickly he picked out a pair. When I asked him if he wanted the earrings gift-wrapped, he said, "That'd be great. But can you make it quick? I forgot today was my anniversary, and my wife thinks I'm taking out the trash."'ve been reminded of your anniversary. Take out the "trash" now!


It's going to be a hot one! This week's predicted highs are nearly unbearable. The humidity will be off the charts too! You'll find me inside most of the time. Bike rides early in the morning or not at all. Good harvesting weather.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Reflecting on Father's Day...

Every once in awhile I stumble into the bathroom in the morning, flip on the light, glance in the mirror and jump back.

“Dad! What are you doing up so early? And why are you in my bathroom? Get out!”

Of course, my dad’s really hundreds of miles away, but there he is, staring back at me. Gives me the willies. I’m too young to look like him. Funny thing, though, dad looks like grandpa now.

The old saying, “Like father, like son,” is true and not only in the area of looks. I talk like my dad. I joke like my dad. I think like my dad. I walk like my dad. I scream and shout about being late like my dad. (I’m working on that one. Another couple of years in therapy and I’ll be just fine.)

There’s no denying it. I can’t hide the facts. I am Charles Neifert’s son.

Most men, young or old, are just as much a reflection of their dads as I am of mine. That’s a good thing generally. The average man is a decent enough example for his boys to follow. He’s not a psychopathic killer nor a pathological liar. He’s a hard working, respectable guy.

There are exceptions, I know. A few men train their sons for a life of crime or addiction. They do so by absence or by example or by abuse. But men like this are NOT the norm.

The normal man is not perfect, not by a long shot, but he is good and kind most of the time just like his dad was.

Think of your dad, guys. You’re like him, aren’t you? Sure you’re different in some ways, but similar in so many more. You generally act like him, sort of look like him, mostly talk like him, sometimes smell like him. I hope you’re mostly grateful for these similarities. I hope your dad’s influence on your life has been a positive, godly one. If it has been, I know you’re glad to obey God’s command and honor him today.

Happy Father’s Day to all!

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Armstrong stimulus plan...

NEVADA CITY, Calif. -- A special appearance by Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer at the 49th Annual Nevada City Bicycle Classic will bring a big boost to local businesses.

The small town is expecting up to 30,000 to 50,000 fans this weekend.

"It's almost been like rock stars coming to town," race organizer Duane Strawser said.

The race is a Father's Day tradition in Nevada City, featuring both amateur and professional riders in a criterium race. The professional riders race 90 miles on a closed course, or about 40 laps, around downtown Nevada City.

"We're calling Lance Armstrong our stimulus package because it's because of his name that we're getting so many people in," business owner Rita Fuenzalida said.

City officials advise spectators to arrive early and carpool. They said since parking is limited, the closest parking could be one mile out of town.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Serve the world...

We, the church of Jesus Christ, serve the world.

Hear Jesus’ words to his followers. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, NIV)

And this from Paul in Galatians 6:9-10, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (NIV)

Do good to ALL people. Service should be a way of life for us. We have been served by the greatest servant of all time, Jesus himself. Our savior “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8, NIV)

We follow in his footsteps, offering help and love and honor to everyone – for their good and for the glory of God.

Do you want to be great in God’s kingdom? That’s the question I’ve put before you all this week. I ask it of myself as well. Listen to Jesus’ words as you make your choice.

“…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave…” (Matthew 20:26-27, NIV)

Will you choose God’s way to greatness? Will you serve the church, your family, the world? This is your calling.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

We almost met...

I've added very few people as friends on Facebook who I didn't know before I received their friend request. Of those few, I have met only one face-to-face - Jeff Billingsley, a Memphis, TN, police officer. (He's a great guy even if he called me a jerk when I at first rejected his friend request! I posted something about that encounter when it happened, but I can't seem to find it now.)

Tuesday at the Wal-Mart on West Kellogg in Wichita I almost met a second - Jonathan Wright, an itinerant preacher who has the same name as a friend from Indiana's son. I saw him walking the main aisle near the front of the store and thought to myself, "That's that one guy!" But I couldn't remember his name, so I just stared at him and didn't say a word.

Today I sent him a message on Facebook explaining where I was when I thought I saw him. Within just a few hours I got his reply: "That was me! Next time say hi. Would love to meet you!" Bummer. We almost met. Next time I'm saying hi. What's the worst that could happen if I'm mistaken? I could get a strange "get-away-from-me-I-have-no-idea-who-you-are" look.

Here's to greater bravery next time!

Bicycle harassment law passed...

Levi Leipheimer's comment on Twitter directed me to an interesting article concerning a new ordinance just passed in Columbia, MO...

COLUMBIA — A bicyclist harassment ordinance passed unanimously at the City Council meeting Monday after nearly an hour and a half of debate.

The ordinance makes harassment of bicyclists — including throwing objects, verbal assault and other offenses — a misdemeanor offense punishable by a $1,000 fine or one year of jail time, the council said.

After the lengthy testimony from citizens and discussion by the council, the ordinance passed with plans to amend it at the July 20 City Council meeting. At that time, the ordinance will be expanded to include other types of pedestrian traffic.

The delay in a decision was due to debate over who should be covered under the harassment ordinance. Some council members felt the ordinance should be more broad and encompass other types of pedestrian traffic, while others thought protecting bicyclists was important now and the rest could be added later.

Many in the bicycling community showed up to voice their feelings about the ordinance. Twenty individuals, some with children in tow, lined up to wait for their turn at the microphone. All 20 supported the ordinance.

Residents cited a number of reasons for their support and shared horror stories from bike riding. The tales ranged from waking up facedown in ditches to having ashtrays dumped on their heads.

The consensus among supporters was that the ordinance would help protect them on the streets.
“Unfortunately, there are people in our community who believe that roads are for automobiles and bicyclists who dare ride on the road should be honked at, yelled at or even have something thrown at them,” PedNet Education Coordinator Robert Johnson said.

The ordinance, which is modeled after similar ordinances in South Carolina and Colorado, makes it a misdemeanor to do the following: throw an object at or in the direction of a cyclist, threatening a cyclist to frighten or disturb the cyclist, sounding a horn with the intention to frighten or disturb a cyclist, knowingly placing a cyclist in the path of physical injury, or knowingly engaging in conduct that creates a risk of death or serious physical injury for a cyclist.

Residents who spoke at the meeting said they have experienced all of the above, and those who remained after the deliberation stood and cheered when the ordinance was passed.

“If you’ve ever been in a subcompact car and had a semi get on your back bumper and blow the horn, that’s what it was like,” ordinance supporter Steve Epstein said of being tailed by frustrated motorists.

Jordan Wyner, Missiourian writer

Astana is in...

The immediate future of Lance Armstrong's Team Astana has been secured after riders and staff were today reassured over their ability to complete the season.

The Kazakhstan-based team have been beset by financial problems and missed a payment to the International Cycling Union, reported to be for £5m, for their racing licence.

However, following talks between Astana's team manager, Johan Bruyneel, the Kazakh Cycling Federation (KCF), government and the managing company Olympus SARL, a mutual agreement was reached.

The KCF has met all debt obligations to Olympus. In a statement, Bruyneel said the recent financial troubles were at an end.

"I appreciate everyone's patience and professionalism during this difficult time and support of the program," he said. "With only 16 days left to the Tour de France, the riders need rest in their minds. We are glad that we can continue with our strong team. It was hardly imaginable that our strong team would not have been able to participate in the world's largest cycling event.

"Thanks to the guarantees made by the Kazakh government, we can continue with the same group that already proved in the past to be a real team.

"We look forward to the next races. For us it will be a new start, but it will look familiar. This is the best solution."


Frank on talk radio...

On the heels of my recent praise for Steve Brown as a great talk radio show host, a friend of mine encouraged me to get into talk radio. So I tried.

Once and only once. Never before and never again.

It was a first-class disaster.

This isn’t the whole show, but it’s the first phone call I got that night … and the last. Click the link below and listen to the hot-boiling phone call from a disgruntled listener. It’s less than 4 minutes long. That was the call that shattered my dream of becoming a talk radio show host!

Frankie V’s Stab at “Talk Radio Show Host”

Guest Blogger, Frank

Serve your family...

In his first letter to Timothy, Paul gives words of instruction concerning care for widows that have implications for service to every relative.

“Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:3-8, NIV)

So it’s God’s will that we serve our family. He wants us to care for our elders, especially those who are in dire financial straits.

God’s plan is for every husband to love his wife and give himself up for her. Remember what I wrote earlier this week. There is to be NO lording it over others among believers. That applies to husbands. Any husband who is overbearing or capricious in his demands is not following Christ. Men, give of yourself to your wife. Serve her with gladness.

Wives, in turn, God asks you to submit to your husband as unto the Lord, showing respect.

It’s our God’s command that each father serve his children through careful instruction and that each child serves by obey his mother and father.

Put your faith into action. Serve your family. Care for their needs. Look not only to your own interests, but also to those of others. Brothers. Sisters. Aunts. Uncles. Grandparents.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ready to meet the Lord?

This has got to be the funniest sign I've ever seen. A classic for sure. Much more creative than, "Private Property No Trespassing."

Tithing rap...

The this rap on tithing is hilarious. Hope you enjoy it and get the point.

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." (Malachi 3:10, NIV)

Serve the church...

Serving starts with our church family.

Listen to what Paul says to us concerning them. In Galatians 6:9-10 the apostle writes, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (NIV)

Those who share faith in Jesus are to be special targets of our God-honoring service. We serve them by using our spiritual gifts for their benefit.

1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (NIV)

Romans 12:6-8, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (NIV)

Look at the wide variety of ways God enables his children to serve each other. They are so practical. Meeting practical physical needs in Jesus’ name. Helping others understand God’s Word. Teaching your sister how to grow in her relationship with Jesus. Encouraging the discouraged to remain faithful. Seeing to the needs of a brother through generous and secret giving. Leading with godly wisdom. Speaking mercifully when painful times come. Showing compassion to the weak.

You can serve in one of these ways if you are a believer. The Holy Spirit has gifted you to do something. Faithfully administer God’s grace to the followers of Jesus closest to you. Don’t miss an opportunity to do good to those who belong to the family of believers. And I’m not talking about just those who attend your church. I’m talking about those who belong to Jesus, no matter their denomination. Look out for the needs of all your brothers and sisters. Pray for them. Encourage them. Meet their needs. Administer God’s grace to them in whatever way God has enabled you to serve best.

Friends, “…we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV)

Many of those good works are meant to be in service to God’s people. Don’t miss a single opportunity to express God’s amazing love to a saint.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Too much time online?

The Christian Post reports on a new study that reveals more Americans are spending time online and less time with each other. And I can guarantee you, if Americans are spending less time with each other, American Christians are spending even less time with God.

The study points out that more than 24 hours a week are spent online in the average American household, and that doesn’t include the many, many hours watching TV. In contrast to hours a day spent consuming media, the average American Christian spends 8 minutes a day praying. There’s something desperately wrong with that picture.

The internet is a great blessing and a great communication tool, but sometimes we just need to unplug. We can’t expect God to bring revival to the American church when we spend so little time communing with him. I include myself in that. I would encourage you this week to unplug for at least an hour, at least one day this week, and spend time with your Creator and Redeemer, seeking to know him more. For the One who gave His life for us, one hour is the very least we can give.

From Slice of Laodicea blog

Do you want to be great?

Jesus came to serve rather than be served. Those who want to be his greatest followers, those he honors as great in Heaven, will serve just as he did. They will humbly wait on others in love. They will give of themselves for the good of their neighbors. They will look not only to their own interests, but also to the interests of those around them.

Knowing what greatness means to Jesus, I want you to seriously consider this one question: Do you want to be great in God’s kingdom? If you do, you must become a servant. You cannot become great in Heaven’s eyes any other way. There are no other options. God’s way to first place is taking last place. “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35, NIV)

I ask you again: Do you want to be great in God’s kingdom? I hope you do. I hope pleasing God has over the years since you gave your life to Jesus become more important to you than pleasing yourself. I hope you are more willing today to sacrifice your own desires for his. I hope you are a more humble slave of Christ today than you were last year.

Not that any of us are perfect in this. We falter from time to time. We slip into “lord it over others” mode occasionally. We flex our “authority” muscles in worldly ways in public and in private more often than we’d like to admit. But as mature followers of Jesus, desperately seeking to do his will, we catch ourselves more quickly when we revert to our childish “my-way-or-the-highway-me-first” ways than we used to. We recognize our sin. We repent of it. We wrap a towel around our waist once again and serve.

Why? Because we love our savior, Jesus, who humbled himself and died on a cross in our place so we could have eternal life instead of death. Because being great in his eyes is all that matters to us.

Isn’t that true of you? It is of me. Even when I fail, my desire is to be great in Jesus’ eyes, to serve rather than be served.

You want to be great in Jesus’ eyes, too. His opinion is the one that matters most to you. I know you. You are good, kind-hearted people, followers of Jesus. Your heart’s longing is to serve your Lord by serving others. You know that doing so will bring joy to your Savior. You know that doing so will bring glory to your Father in Heaven.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Astana's TdF roster...

Astana has revealed its short list for the upcoming Tour de France.

Fifteen riders are vying for nine spots on the Astana tour squad, which will be anchored by returning seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong and 2007 Tour winner Alberto Contador.

Also all but assured of spots are Tour podium finishers Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden.

Other riders on the Astana list are Haimar Zubeldia, Maxim Iglinskiy, Dmitriy Muravyev, Chris Horner, Benjamin Noval, Sergio Paulinho, Yaroslav Popovych, Janez Brajkovic, Gregory Rast, Tomas Vaitkus and, despite problems with his whereabouts, Assan Bazayev.

Astana team spokesman Philippe Maertens told VeloNews a final decision about the team’s nine-man roster would be made after the Tour de Suisse later this month.

VeloNews Article (Read more...)

God at work in Argonia...

God is up to something in Argonia. He is working through his people to bless this community. Let me brag on the churches here a bit.
  • The United Methodist Church has opened a thrift store to serve the needy and their puppet ministry is teaching God’s truth to the younger set.
  • Plains Church (Wesleyan’s new name) cancelled their men’s breakfast recently so they could serve a family by helping them clean up their property.
  • The Lutheran Church has on more than one occasion, through grant money, provided extra funds to Ministerial Alliance so the church of Jesus can help more people in need.
I am so grateful to God that he has put his love in the hearts of his children in such a special way in the town I love.

Ten channels...

I've had a digital converter box attached to each of our two TVs for quite some time. I got the government's coupons and purchased them months before the original deadline for the change over. During the transition time I got six channels, losing channels 8 (PBS) and 10 (ABC) which were weak on analog. On Saturday, the day after the switch over, I discovered that I had even less channels. I lost channel 12.1 (CBS) and 12.2 (CBS Weather) and 36.1 (UPN). My total channels dropped to three - 3 (NBC), 24 (Fox) and 33 (WB). I was a bit frustrated until a friend told me to rescan for channels. What a difference that new scan made! I now have ten channels - NBC, three PBS stations, ABC, two CBS stations, WB, Fox and UPN. I only wish I could've had ABC back before the end of the NBA Finals. I didn't get the opportunity to boo and hiss as the Lakers won their 15th championship. Trophy hogs!

It's Spam...

If you get an email, warning you not to eat tinned pork, because of the swine flu, just ignore it. It's spam!

No power plays...

“…the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

“‘What is it you want?’ he asked.

“She said, ‘Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.’

“‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?’

“‘We can,’ they answered.

“Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.’

“When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’”
(Matthew 20:20-28, NIV)

Jesus is telling his followers, you and me included, that power has no place in the life of a Christian. There is to be NO lording it over others. Gaining power over people cannot be a mature believer’s motive in seeking any position in the church – a teaching assignment, a committee chairmanship, a place on the platform during worship. Looking for authority without humility is a surefire way to harm the church and dishonor Jesus’ name. There’s only to be serving in the life of a believer.

Is that the way things are? Unfortunately not always. There are believers who immaturely make power plays. There are those who claim the name of Christ who resort to manipulation to get their way. All kinds of human effort and energy exerted in an effort to gain the upper hand even by those in the church.

“God forgive us. God forgive me. I’ve played the control game. Make me a servant. Make us all servants.”

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Lance creates a fuhrer?

This Lance-fan-created video is crazy fun! Hitler vs. Johnny Mellow! Yippee! Some of the humor will be lost on those who do not know the sport, but most will get it. Cycling fans will ROFL! Enjoy!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Men of authority serve...

I wish I could introduce you personally to my dear friend, Gregg Prickett. (Above at right.) Gregg is a superior court judge in Orange County, California, and the chairman of the Evangelical Friends Mission Board that I sit on twice a year. He is an able leader who shows great wisdom and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit as we meet. His ability to summarize what God seems to be saying to us is amazing.

But what impresses me most about Gregg is his humble service to others outside the conference room. When Gregg finishes a meal during our meetings, he takes his plate off the table then returns to the dining room and quietly honors others by acting as their busboy. He clears plate after plate from tables all around the room, allowing those in conversation to continue enjoying each others’ company without interruption.

It seems a bit odd, doesn’t it, for a man of such authority, a judge, a chairman of the board to be waiting on others. Because of his powerful position, you’d think Gregg would be the one receiving service rather than giving it. But there he is, every time we meet at Quaker Ridge Camp, scraping leftovers into the trash and dumping dirty knives and forks and spoons into a plastic tub full of hot, soapy water.

“It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

“The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

“He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’

“Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’

“‘No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’

“Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’

“‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!’

“Jesus answered, ‘A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.’ For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.

“‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them. ‘You call me “Teacher” and “Lord,” and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.’” (John 13:1-17, NIV)

Hmmm…perhaps men of authority serving others isn’t so unusual – at least not in God’s kingdom.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power. He knew that he had come from God. He knew he was returning to God. There was no one higher in authority than Jesus, so he got up and served his followers by washing their sweaty, smelly feet. He washed off the dung they’d stepped in. He rubbed off the dust. He cleaned between each toe then dried each foot tenderly, showing them the full extent of his love. When he was done with this menial task, he resumed his seat at the table and with great authority commanded those who had been thus served to humbly serve each other in the same way. He had set the example. He had shown the way. His actions spoke this truth clearly: no task is beneath a man or woman, no matter their worldly or churchly position, who would follow Jesus with all his heart.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lance and Levi in small town race...

CARBONDALE, Colorado - Max Sommers couldn't believe it when his dad, one of the Western Slope Omnium's chief organizers, showed him the start list for Friday's Leg Breaker Time Trial, the first race in the three-phase, weekend cycling event.

"My dad handed me the start list for the pros and I saw Levi Leipheimer and Lance Armstrong," the 12-year-old relayed. "I was like, 'Shut up!' He was like, 'No, they're actually coming for the time trial.'"

That's right. Levi Leipheimer and seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, two of the cycling world's biggest names, found their way to tiny Carbondale for the Omnium's kickoff race.

The Astana Cycling Team members are thick in training mode for the July 4-26 Tour de France, and used the 16-kilometer time trial, which routed riders along County Road 109 between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, to test out some new equipment.

"They were testing out some prototype Trek time trial bikes," said Mitch Hyra, who's co-promoting the Omnium alongside Max's dad, Bill Sommers.

Hyra fielded a call from Armstrong's publicist on Thursday and gladly input the stars' names into the start list, albeit inconspicuously. With hopes of heading off a media and fan frenzy, Hyra did his best to keep everything under wraps in advance of the time trial.

"I actually made a conscious decision,” Hyra said. “I told like four people." (Read more...)

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tweeting in church...

Although there are some pastors who are encouraging the use of Twitter during worship service to enhance the impact of their sermons, many are telling churchgoers to listen to the Word of God first and Tweet after church.

"When you are in corporate worship, Worship!" says John Piper, a prominent evangelical pastor and author. "There is a difference between communion with God and commenting on communion with God."

Since its launch in 2006, reports The Christian Post, Twitter has grown to 32 million users, including an active following of pastors and churchgoers. The microblogging service is touted as the fastest growing social networking site. Just a year ago, Twitter traffic was at 2 million.

Because it's especially popular among young adults and youths, some churches have embraced the technology and even encouraged Tweeting during church. Westwinds Community Church in Jackson, Mich., is an example of where worshippers' Tweets during worship are flashed on large video screens. But, the issue has sparked debate among Christians on whether it's appropriate.

"While I personally enjoy Twitter and find it to be a useful tool for sharing and receiving information, I'm not excited about encouraging people to use Twitter during the Sunday meeting," Josh Harris, senior pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., wrote in his blog. One of the reasons why Harris won't be encouraging his congregation to use Twitter during worship is that it will likely be distracting. Tweeters may be tempted to check their e-mail or read their Twitter feed during a sermon. Their mind may also focus on what to Tweet rather than on worship. Moreover, the minutes they take to Tweet would be minutes in which they weren't actively listening to the sermon.

"The most important thing I can do while I'm sitting under the preaching of God's Word is to listen to what God is saying to me," noted Harris, who is also on the council of The Gospel Coalition. "I need to actively engage my heart and mind to receive."

From The Pastor's Weekly Briefing, June 12, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Don't be ridiculous...

“The anti-abortion fanatics have to shut up and go home. They have to back off and they have to respect other people’s point of view. This is an outrage, this is a national outrage.” (Quoted by Fox News)

When I picked up on this quote by Dr. Warren Hern, one of the handful of later-term abortionists still practicing infanticide in the USA, on how “rhetoric” from pro-lifers caused Dr. Tiller’s death, I couldn't let it go. This is a most ridiculous statement. Anti-abortion protesters caused Dr. Tiller's death? Come on.

Peaceful protesters whose only aim is to wake America to the fact that innocent human life is being snuffed out immorally are not to blame for anyone's death.

One misguided man, Scott Roeder, without guidance from any truly pro-life organization, ended Dr. Tiller's life violently and illegally. There were witnesses to the murder in Reformation Lutheran's foyer. Roeder will stand trial and likely be judged guilty by the State of Kansas. You can't pin this crime on anyone but him.

Hern's statement makes an illogical leap from protesters to murderer. End of rant.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What a difference a few miles makes...

My middle daughter drove me north about 30 miles last night to the fair city of Cheney. We were going there to pick up my niece so she could spend the night and ride with us to camp today. As an added bonus, we were picking her up at my nephew's little league game, so we got to watch him.

I must say, I enjoyed the game immensely. The players were (fairly) respectful of the umpire's calls. The fans in the stands cheered for their players AND the opposing team. They actually yelled, "Good play!" when the "enemy's" first baseman made an amazing catch on a hard hit ball and tagged out the runner who had left the base sure to make it to third if not home. It was refreshing.

You see, in Argonia fans would never dream of cheering an opponent's incredible double play. Raider supporters hardly know how to root for their own kids. They're too busy yelling threats at the umpire and griping about coaches to shout, "Good job!"

Maybe we should bring a few Cheney fans down to teach a sporstmanship clinic. Maybe a few of us should scream wildly when anyone, home or visitor, does something right on the field at a home game. I'm willing to give it a try. How about you?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A new personal best...

It was just over a week ago when I broke the 19mph barrier for the first time this year. Oh what a week and a still (for windy Kansas) night can do. This evening from the time I left my driveway, I knew it was going to be special. With little effort, I was up over 20mph and flying toward the highway. When I turned east into the wind, my speed backed off a bit and I settled into a fast cadence, powering over the slight inclines along the way to my turn around seven and half miles out.

As I spun around for the return trip, my computer read 18.9mph. I cranked up the speed and in less than a half mile I was up over 19mph. It was then that I knew I was going to have a personal best for the year. I was able to ride over 20mph almost the whole way back home. It got dark enough that I couldn't read my average, so I wasn't sure where I stood until I pulled into the driveway and opened the garage door. 20.1mph! That's what the computer said and it doesn't lie just to make you feel good. 15.37 miles in 45 minutes and 55 seconds! Awesome!

This is my second fastest ride average ever. Once before I rode solo at 21mph, but I don't really count that ride as a real record. I had a friend drive me 20 miles away from home and I had the wind at my back the entire time.

Lance's team is in...

Lance Armstrong's Astana team have given financial guarantees to cycling's governing body paving the way for their Tour de France participation in July.

The International Cycling Union (ICU) had threatened to withdraw Astana's Pro-Tour licence if the team had not met the UCI's financial requirements.

Astana receives most of its financial support from Kazakh state holding company Samruk-Kazyna.

But the Astana team's riders went unpaid for two months.

Armstrong, who is considering buying the team, was joined by all but one of his team-mates in blanking out the sponsors' names on their shirts from the seventh stage of the Giro d'Italia in protest at the team's financial problems.

The Tour de France starts on 4 July, when Armstrong will attempt to win the race for an eighth time.