Tuesday, October 27, 2009

And we want Uncle Sam to provide health care for everyone?

Watch CBS News Videos Online
This piece that ran on 60 Minutes recently makes my heart sink. I'm not opposed to people receiving quality health care. I'm just wondering if a government-run program is the best solution. I'm sure "Tony" and friends will be elated if the bill passes and they can bill for more than grandpa's two prosthetic arms.

The Spirit's fruit on display...

“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV)

These attributes are the evidence of God’s Spirit within a person. They are visible proof that God is in control of a believer’s life. When the fruit of the Spirit is displayed consistently in the life of one who claims Jesus as Lord, it brings glory to God.

In his recently released book, Forgotten God, Francis Chan writes about Joni Eareckson Tada, whom he counts as the most Spirit-filled person he knows.

“A 1967 diving accident left then-seventeen-year-old Joni a quadriplegic,” Chan begins. “Lying in a hospital bed, she was filled with an overwhelming desire to end her life. The thought of spending the rest of her years paralyzed from the neck down and relying on others to care for her basic needs was staggering. But Joni did not end her life that day. Instead, she chose to surrender it to God. Little did she know that the Spirit of God would transform her into one of the godliest women ever to grace this earth. God gave her a humility and love that enables her to look beyond her own pain and see others’ hurts. She is a person who consistently ‘in humility count[s] others more significant’ than herself (an embodiment of Philippians 2:3).” (©2009 Francis Chan, p. 39)

For three paragraphs Chan then details all of Joni’s amazing accomplishments and positive contributions to the world. He talks about the impact of her autobiography and radio program. He talks about her international ministry to special needs people and their families. He talks about the honors she has received and her 2005 appointment to the Disability Advisory Committee of the U.S. State Department.

Then Chan concludes his tribute to this remarkable woman with these words: “Yet it is not because of these accomplishments that I consider her the most Spirit-filled person I know. Actually, it has nothing to do with all she’s accomplished. It has to do with the fact that you can’t spend ten minutes with Joni before she breaks out in song, quotes Scripture, or shares a touching and timely word of encouragement. I have never seen the fruit of the Spirit more obviously displayed in a person’s life as when I am with Joni. I can’t have a conversation with Joni without shedding tears. It’s because Joni is a person whose life, at every level, gives evidence of the Spirit’s work in and through her.” (©2009 Francis Chan, p. 41)

If you know anything about Joni, you have to agree with Chan concerning this woman. Joni Eareckson Tada, a weak woman to be sure, brings glory to God by trusting him completely. Her faith in God and her loving service to others through the strength he provides causes people to praise her Father in Heaven. God is seen most clearly in her life because the Spirit’s fruit is on display.

Ask God to show himself to the world through you. Pray that he would display the Spirit’s fruit in your life so that your life would bring praise to him.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

For God's glory...

Dr. Patton, the neuropsychologist who has put me through hours of psychological testing over the past two weeks, looked across the table at me this past Tuesday afternoon and said, “You have ADHD. I knew it before,” he added, “but now we have it on paper.”

What made his diagnosis so suddenly sure? It was the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test I’d just completed. I won’t take up a bunch of time describing the test. You can Google it easily enough if you’re curious. All you need to know is that it measures frontal lobe function and I failed it miserably.

The significance? Attention Deficit Disorder – whether it’s mainly inattentive or impulsive hyperactive or a combination of the two – is a neurological disorder caused, it is believed, by a dysfunction of a portion of the frontal lobe of the brain. The frontal lobe is the part of the brain that controls learned behaviors, memory retention, moral choices and the like. In ADD or ADHD, a control center malfunction causes chaos.

Dr. Patton explained it this way to me during my first visit to his office. If the brain with all its many functions were the multiple officers on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise on Star Trek, in those with attention deficit, everyone is working diligently, but the captain is asleep. There’s “no one” to organize the many inputs and outputs taking place in the brain and so disorder rules.

The person affected by this disorder has trouble concentrating on tasks, especially things they find tedious, for extended periods of time. They tend to forget things more easily because they are unable to pay close attention to what they are being told. They hyperfocus on things they find interesting, talking about them constantly, changing the subject to their pet topic in conversations, pursuing their hobbies with great passion. They blurt out things that those with a properly functioning command center would likely suppress.

They, it turns out, is me. I have ADHD. (That still sounds weird when I say it.) I have a frontal lobe that doesn’t function quite right. I struggle with inattentiveness. I battle impulsiveness. I hyperfocus on my interests. I hyperact and hyperspeak.

So why am I telling you all this? I’m telling you about my weakness so that God can receive glory and you can be encouraged in your walk with him. You may be asking: How does God get any glory from a brain malfunction? That’s a fair enough question. I think I have an answer. And, the related question begs to be asked, how can anyone get any faith encouragement from this diagnosis? Another good question. I’ll do my best to give a satisfying answer.

How can any person bring God glory? Jesus says something about this as does Paul. Let’s listen to Jesus’ words first and then to those of his servant, remembering that both are important to hear. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV)

Speaking to his disciples, our Master said this: “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)

The word translated “praise” in verse 16 in the New International Version is translated “glorify” in the New American Standard Bible and the King James Version. The word carries with it the idea of bringing honor to another. It has to do with esteeming another, worshipping, praising. So the first way a person can bring glory to God, according to Jesus, is by doing good deeds. When others see the goodness and kindness of God’s followers, they praise God. Some believe on him for salvation because of a friend’s loving action. I’m glad to be part of a congregation of saints whose actions usually point people to Jesus.

Now for Paul’s words on glorifying God. At the beginning of 2 Corinthians 12 chapter Paul talks obliquely about this man who had a vision of Heaven. This man was caught up to Paradise. There he heard inexpressible things, things he was not allowed to tell. This man Paul tells about, it’s likely, is he himself. He doesn’t come out and say it plainly, but there are enough hints that point in that direction.

Look at what the apostle writes after this: “I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
(2 Corinthians 12:5-10, NIV)

What do these words imply about bringing glory to God? They suggest that when God uses someone despite their weakness or weaknesses, God’s power is made most evident. Those with physical ailments or handicaps of any kind who put their trust in God and allow him to work in and through them, draw attention to God. God is seen in their courage to face each day with its struggles. God is praised because he gives peace in the midst of difficult circumstances. God is honored when the weakest among his people trusts him, depends on him, clings desperately to him even when all is not miraculously made right in their lives.

Tuesday after I left Dr. Patton’s office, I drove around town running a few errands. While I drove and walked through stores, I thought. I thought and I prayed trying to wrap my mind around this strange disorder that had often throughout my lifetime caused me to be at odds with others. My speaking without thinking and acting on impulse had started more than enough conflicts with others and my inattentiveness to my friends had caused occasional, temporary rifts.

As I prayed and thought and thought and prayed I came to this conclusion: God made me this way for a purpose: to display his glory. If I, a person with ADHD, could live a life that showed self-control it would bring praise to God the Father. Such an attribute in the life of someone supposedly incapable of showing restraint would be convincing evidence of the Spirit’s power at work. I decided somewhere along the way to and fro in north Wichita to show the world what a faithful follower of Jesus with ADHD looks like – not for my glory, but for the Father’s honor.

You can do the same in your life. No matter what your weakness. Weak people of every stripe can bring God glory by letting the world see his strength through them. Those who have been abused can bring God glory as they allow his joy to overcome their grief and anger. Those who are disabled or who care for the disabled can bring God glory as they display the Spirit’s gentleness and patience. Those who are diseased can bring God glory as they trust God and he gives his peace that passes all understanding. Those who are poor or bereaved or who were addicted or doubting can bring God glory through the love and kindness and goodness and faithfulness the Spirit creates in them and shows to the world. Those with ADHD or any other psychological or neurological or emotional disorder can bring glory to God by trusting him and seeking his self-control in their lives.

With God’s help, I’m going to live for God’s glory. Will you do the same? Whatever your weakness, God’s power can be displayed in you if you will trust him.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

The church of Facebook...

A revolution is taking place, one profile at a time. Online social networks like Facebook and MySpace are connecting people like never before. With hundreds of millions of users, they’re creating almost limitless potential to redefine our personal worlds. It’s a movement that’s changing how we form relationships, perceive others, and shape our identity.

In his new book, The Church of Facebook (David C Cook, October 2009) author Jesse Rice takes a deeper look at the movement which, at its core, reflects our need for community. “Our longing for intimacy, connection, and a place to belong has never been a secret, but social networking offers us a new perspective on the way we engage our community,” Rice states. This new perspective raises new questions: How do these networks impact our relationships? In what ways are they shaping the way we think of ourselves? And how might this phenomenon subtly reflect a God who longs to connect with each one of us?The Church of Facebook explores these ideas and much more, offering a revealing look at the wildly popular world of online social networking. “The new landscape of social networking tells us two basic things: One, we have a deep desire to be known. And, two, we are faced with a technology that both enables and hinders the intimacy we’re looking for,” Rice says. From personal profiles to status updates, author Jesse Rice takes a thoroughly entertaining and insightful look into what Facebook reveals about us, and what it may mean for the future of “community.”

Social networking is no fad; it has become a fact of life, especially for teens and twenty-somethings. The Church of Facebook is essential reading for parents and pastors who want to understand this trend and its impact on their children and congregations. Rice’s discussions will engage social networkers of all ages and stages who are wrestling with the very real issues of identity, meaning, purpose, and friendship within the context of virtual communities.

Driven by Rice’s thought-provoking questions, observations, humor, and heartfelt storytelling, The Church of Facebook challenges readers to consider new perspectives regarding their social networking habits and how those habits may point to deeper heart issues and, ultimately, our hunger for Jesus.

From Oregon Faith Report

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Only 20 miles for me...

There are over 13,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the US, or about 1 for every 23,000 Americans. But even market penetration this advanced doesn’t mean that McDonald’s is everywhere. Somewhere in South Dakota is the McFarthest Spot, the place in the US geographically most removed from the nearest McD’s (*). If you started out from this location, a few miles north of State Highway 20 (which runs latitudinally between Highways 73 in the west and 65 in the east), you’d have to drive 145 miles to get your Big Mac (if you could fly, however, it’d be only 107 miles).

This map is the brainchild of Stephen Von Worley, who got to thinking about the strip malls sprawling out along I-5 in California’s ever less rural Central Valley: “Just how far can you get from generic convenience? And how would you figure that out?”

His yardstick for that thought experiment would be the ubiquitous Golden Arches of McDonald’s – still the world’s largest hamburger chain, and to cite Von Worley, the “inaugural megacorporate colonizer of small towns nationwide.” That’s not the whole story: like other convenience providers aimed at the motorised consumer such as gas stations and motels, McDonald’ses have a notable tendency to occur on highways and, specifically, to cluster at their crossroads.

This map moreover demonstrates that the spread of McD’s closely mirrors the population density of the Lower 48, the most notable overall feature of which is the sudden transition, along the Mississippi, of a relatively densely populated eastern half to a markedly less populated western half of the country. Some notable ‘dark spots’ in McDensity east of the Mississippi are the interior of Maine, the Adirondack region of New York state, a large part of West Virginia, and the Everglades area of southern Florida.

Out west, the Arches are fewer and further between, with the exception of the heavily populated coastal areas. To achieve identical density to the rest of the country, this sparsely burgered part of the country would have to be sandwiched between them so that southern California and western Texas would almost touch, and Seattle would be a day’s drive from Minneapolis. The blackest holes in the western McTapestry are the Nevada desert, some mountainous parts of Oregon and Idaho, and the plains of South Dakota – home to the aforementioned McFarthest Spot.

This map found here onthe Weather Sealed blog.

In your teaching...

Titus 2:7-8, “In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” (NIV)

This verse is not just for those who teach formally – pastors, Sunday School teachers and the like. It’s for every believer.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 gives the task of teaching to everyone.

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (NIV)

All of us teach. Our words to the young influence them. When our words and actions match, that influence is more than doubled.

Show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech when you teach others. That doesn’t mean you have to be sour-faced and dour when you’re talking about God’s Word. Seriousness does not mean joyless. God is full of joy. You do not reflect him when you never laugh, never joke, never smile at the ironic.

Showing integrity in what you teach means that you live what you say matters. Showing seriousness means that you don’t treat God or His Word casually. Showing soundness of speech means that all that you say points others to the truth – the truth about salvation, the truth about who God is, the truth about grace and judgment, the truth about creation, the truth.

Ken Davis came to Argonia a few years back. We all laughed our heads off as he talked about his granddaughter’s temper tantrum. We laughed harder when told of his own fit over a Looney Tunes jacket. We split a gut when he pulled the jacket out and put it on. Then we sat in silence as he talked about God’s great love for us and about Jesus’ provision for our salvation.

Showing integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech when we teach does not preclude laughter. It does require a deep love for God.

The greatest command: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Matthew 22:37, NIV)

That kind of love shows up when you encourage others to be self-controlled. That kind of love is seen as you do good. That kind of love is expressed in the seriousness you bring to your teaching.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

By doing what is good...

“In everything set them an example by doing what is good.” (Titus 2:7, NIV)

You know which word I like least in this sentence? It’s the same word you dislike: everything. “In everything set them an example…”

In the way you use your time. In the way you treat coworkers. In the way you honor those in authority. In the way you study God’s Word. In the way you meet the needs of others.

Set an example for the young by doing what is good in every area of life.

Is there an area that you’ve let slide? Ask God for his help to overcome it. Young men and young women are watching your example. With Christ’s help, you can be the hero of the faith they need to see – the good man, the good woman they want to be like.

“In everything set…an example by doing what is good.”

In doing so, you will bless the church and bring praise to your Father in heaven.

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Never forget...

I had to laugh when I saw this "remembrance" posted on my cousin's Facebook profile. So much ado about nothing!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Licensed to ride...

Lance Armstrong’s new Team Readioshack has been given permission to race in many of cycling’s top events for the next four years.

The International Cycling Union said on Friday that it has granted Team RadioShack a license to compete in ProTour races for the 2010-13 seasons. The team still needs an invitation to race in next year’s Tour de France and Giro d’Italia.

The season-long ProTour series includes one-day classics such as the Amstel Gold Race in the Netherlands and Belgium’s Tour of Flanders, plus stage races such as the Dauphine Libere in France and Switzerland’s Tour de Romandie.

lance Armstrong rode for the Kazakh-backed Astana roster when he finished third in this year’s Tour. He announced afterward that he was leaving to create his own team.

AP (on teamradioshack.us)

Failed sobriety test...

Hmmm. I wonder if this guy has had a bit too much to drink! What do you think?

An encouraging example...

“…encourage the young men to be self-controlled.” (Titus 2:6, NIV)

Encourage. To inspire with courage, spirit or hope. To attempt to persuade. To urge. To spur on. To give help to.

Notice the word isn’t just about words. Encouragement can be verbal, but it’s more than that. It can be the result of actions.

Young men and women will be encouraged to be self-controlled when they see older men and women living self-controlled lives. The older man who resists temptation to cut corners in his business and testifies to the strength God gave inspires the young man who’s listening to do the same in his school work. The older woman who keeps her tongue in a difficult situation and shares how she overcame the urge gives hope to the young woman struggling to curb her gossip habit.

My dad served as the pastor of at least ten churches over his lifetime. He was faithful to God and to His Word despite ill treatment by a few in most of those places. His actions taught me to resist the urge to run away like a hireling when the wolves attack. By example, he taught me to lay down my life for the sheep.

Though my dad has retired from full-time ministry he continues to serve his Savior. He teaches Sunday School at his church and serves as a deacon. His life has been and will continue to be an encouragement to me.

Have you encouraged a young person to be self-controlled? Have you spoken up when you’ve seen a teen exhibiting any of the fruit of God’s Spirit? “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” are all commendable. They are evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in a believer’s life. Take note when you see someone who displays this fruit and speak encouragement. Ask God to show himself in you and be an encouraging example.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

A community of example setters...

I visited the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online and found this definition for the word example: “one that serves as a pattern to be imitated or not to be imitated.” So one can be a good example or a bad one.

I think Paul was telling Timothy – and all young people – to be a good example when he wrote this in 2 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set and example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” (NIV)

I think he was doing the same to Titus and every more mature believer when he wrote to him about being an example.

“…encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” (Titus 2:6-8, NIV)

Interesting. To every believer of every age, God’s call is the same: “Be one that serves as a pattern to be imitated.” Paul tells young Timothy to set an example. He tells older Titus to do the same.

The church is a community of example setters.

I love what the writer of Hebrews was inspired by the Spirit to pen concerning the church.

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:19-24, NIV)

You can see God’s desire for each and every believer to be an example here, can’t you? We’re to consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. That’s example setting. That’s what the church is about.

What kind of example are you setting?

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Zero-tolerance overdone...

This is absolutely the most insane thing I have seen in quite some time. Where is common sense? The kid had no intent to hurt anyone.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A generation spared...

Big changes have come to nations when young people took a stand for God. The Bible tells us of Josiah, Israel’s ‘baby’ king. He took the throne when he was only eight. He reigned in Jerusalem for thirty-one years. 2 Chronicles 34:2 says, “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.” (NIV)

And there’s more to his story.

“In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David.”

(This is a sixteen-year-old, folks. A young man setting his heart on God. Watch and see what God can do with such a man.)

“In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles, carved idols and cast images. Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles, the idols and the images. These he broke to pieces and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. He burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and so he purged Judah and Jerusalem. In the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon, as far as Naphtali, and in the ruins around them, he tore down the altars and the Asherah poles and crushed the idols to powder and cut to pieces all the incense altars throughout Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem.” (2 Chronicles 34:3-7, NIV)

Pretty amazing! At sixteen he seeks God. At twenty he ends idolatry in Israel. Talk about making a difference!

Then at twenty-six, eighteen years after he was enthroned as king, his secretary was given a copy of the Book of the Law which the priests had found in the temple. After he himself had read it, this secretary brought it into the king’s chambers and read it out loud. The young king, upon hearing the words of God recorded by Moses, was deeply moved. He tore his clothes in deep despair. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest and several others. “‘Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the remnant in Israel and Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD’S anger that is poured out on us because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book.’” (2 Chronicles 34:21, NIV)

Because this one young man humbled himself and confessed the guilt of his people, the nation of Israel was spared God’s wrath in his lifetime.

“Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the territory belonging to the Israelites, and he had all who were present in Israel serve the LORD their God. As long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the LORD, the God of their fathers.” (2 Chronicles 34:33, NIV)

The punishment God promised did not come until he was buried in peace. A whole generation was spared because Josiah was faithful to what God asked of him.

Who are the Josiahs of our day? Will you be one? Will your children stand up for what's right? Will your grandkids? Our nation will not be spared if no one acts.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bicycling: the new Ritalin?

I'm currently undergoing hours of psychological testing to determine if I have ADD (or ADHD). I had no idea that psych testing could be so demanding. After just two hours yesterday morning, I was exhausted and had a splitting headache. My doctor assures me that was the worst of the testing. We shall see.

Anyway, I logged in to Facebook this afternoon to answer a message in my inbox and right at the top of my newsfeed was a post by Bicycling Magazine. "Big question," it read. "Can cycling treat ADHD better than Ritalin? For some, the answer is yes." I was hooked. I clicked on the link and read with fascination about Adam Leibovitz's experiment.

Leibovitz, diagnosed with ADHD, is seeking to see if there is a connection between exercise and improved focus for those with an attention deficit. The two-page
article on Bicycling Magazine's website talks about Leibovitz's decision to medicate himself through bike racing. It also details current research, what little there is, on the subject of exercise and ADHD.

The results? Leibovitz is more focused on his school work and he's becoming quite the racer. (He's on the college team and won a conference criterium.)

I guess all those miles I put in on my bike may be just the "Ritalin" I need.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The great slow down begins...

I knew it was coming. Every year about this time, the speed of riding takes a nosedive. The great slow down begins when temperatures drop into the 30s.

This morning was my first sub-40-degree ride since January. It was 36 when I left the house. I rode east into a brisk northeaster. The longer I rode, the colder I got. My fingers were numb, my legs ached, my back was stiff and I was sloooow. I couldn't get much over 16mph. I turned around at about 14 miles out. My average a creeping 15.9mph.

The trip back wasn't much better. The wind wasn't easterly enough to help and the cold was getting to me. I kept grinding out the miles and gained a tenth or two, then lost them both, gained one back lost it, gained again, lost again. In the end my average climbed a single tenth to 16mph. (The last time I rode that slow was April 16th.) The temperature at ride's end? 32.

To add insult to injury, when I entered all the day's data in my bike log, my overall average for the year dropped a tenth from 18.2mph to 18.1mph. The great slow down has begun.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Peace Prize buzz...

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to President Obama today. They had to wake him up to tell him. I guess everyone was a bit surprised even at the White House that he was selected.

So I get on Facebook and everyone in my circle of friends is spouting off about how undeserving our leader is.
  • "He's done nothing to deserve it."
  • "The prize is from Cracker Jacks."
  • "It's the Nobel Fleece Prize."
  • Etc., etc., etc.

No one was really disrespectful. Just poking fun at the committee that passes out $1.4 to a guy who had been president for less than two weeks when the deadline for nominations passed. (February 1 is the deadline.) Hadn't done much for peace at that time. You could argue it both ways now, I suppose.

Anyway, my favorite moment in the debate came when my friend Greg, a lobbyist in Illinois, posted the following as his status: "Kayne West just issued a press release stating that Beyoncé should have won the Nobel Peace Prize." I shared that joke with a half-dozen others and the mood was lightened dramatically.

Whatever your opinion on this matter, remember this: God calls us to pray for "kings and all those in authority." (See 1 Timothy 2:1-2.) Pray for Barack Obama.

Letterman and the crucifixion...

One of the great fears that humans have is to be exposed. We worry that we may be found out as we truly are and we fear what people will do with that information. The juiciest stories are even called exposés, where everyone is allowed a special glimpse into what the truth behind the truth is. So what does Jesus, Letterman, and the crucifixion have to with all of this? Watch Pastor Tim Gaydos’ most recent video blog as he explains.

(From Mars Hill Church, Downtown Seattle Campus)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The R-rated church...

Ran across this interview between Phil Johnson and John MacArthur on the Grace to You website...

Hello, I’m Phil Johnson, Executive Director of Grace To You and I’m in the studio today with Pastor and Bible Teacher John MacArthur. Hello, John.

JOHN: Hi, Phil, great to be with you again.

PHIL: Let’s get right to it. We’re calling this interview, “The Case Against the R-Rated Church.” What do we mean when we say “The R-Rated Church?”

JOHN: Well who’d have thought, right? The R-Rated church...staggering. Now what do we mean by that? How about this, “Foul, coarse language in the pulpit, sexually explicit language in the pulpit, cheap jokes about sacred things, overt sexual references making public what should be private, aggressive, purposeful integration of pop-culture I think at its basest level and secular entertainment at its basest level into the worship service. I think it begs the point that it’s not even possible to consider it a worship service.

And then you have the amazing trend on sex-oriented challenge programs, where you have pastors telling their people they need to have sex every day for 30 days, or sex every day for 14 days, or sex every day for seven days. This is supposed to transform their marital life. These are the kinds of things that are common place, much more than most of us would ever realize. And some of you out there are saying, “Are you kidding me?” And we would tell you, if you were to look on the Internet and got to watch...probably don’t do that, you would shocked at the explicit nature of these kinds of things that are running rampant in the name of the church.

PHIL: Yeah, especially in the Christian districts of the Internet where you think you might be safe.

JOHN: Right.

PHIL: In a similar vein, I noticed four times over the past year, at least four different times, there have been news stories about different churches who have had these series on sex, or sex challenges, that sort of thing, and advertised it with billboards that have created a stir in the community, and people in the community who aren’t even believers, are outraged at the carnality reflected in the church’s advertising.

JOHN: You know, when I was flying into Dallas some months ago, I saw that Church where a massive banner stretched across the whole side of the building, “The Sexual Revolution Begins Here.” That’s what it said. Selling sex.

PHIL: Yeah, now this is not an isolated problem, right?

JOHN: No. It’s coming clear that this is widespread.

Read the rest of the

A message on self-control...

A good word on laziness and self-control. It happens to all of us. We get set to talk with God and distractions abound. I'm convicted. Help me!

A word to teens from a teen in my town...

This is a what a high schooler in my town had to say to her fellow Christians during their weekly Bible Study this week...

Alright, so you won’t write dork on your forehead because everyone else is doing it, but when everyone else is drinking, you’ll join right in right? When everyone is talking about that girl and what she did with that guy this weekend, you’ll jump right in right? I mean, come on guys, everyone else is doing it so we should just jump right on the wagon and be just like them because then we won’t get laughed at by the “cool kids” right? So why don’t we just pick up these markers and write dork right across our foreheads. All the cool kids are doing it. Still no takers? Man, you guys must not follow the crowd because I’m pretty sure just last week some of you guys were cussing up a storm in the locker room because “everyone was doing it” You were even cussing in the church. Everyone says the cuss words, so you think you should to because it makes you fit in and sound “cool” . Well, if cuss words, partying, drinking, and gossiping make you “cool” then it’s time that we set new standards. Why is it that it’s so easy to drink and party and cuss and gossip but it’s so hard to pray at lunch, or go to church, or go up to some random person in the hallway and say hey, Jesus loves you? Why is it so hard to go up to someone and tell them how God has blessed your life. Look, now all of you are looking at me like I’m crazy, you’re all thinking “oh my gosh, if I did that to someone, they would look at me funny and think that I’m on something! I’m not going to do that, she’s crazy” but why is it like that?! We are the future whether you think that or not. We are the group of kids that people look up to and follow. We are the kids that could make a difference not only in this high school, or this town, but this whole world. Don’t look at me like I’m crazy, I’m being serious. If we show that it’s okay to be completely in love with God, that it’s okay to be different and that the things that seem to be cool are completely wrong, they will follow what WE do and realize that what others do is wrong. It’s time for us, this group right here to be the positive change in our school and start living for the right thing. Quit sitting off to the side wishing things were better than what they are and get up and actually do something about it. It’s time for Argonia High School to change and that’s not going to happen unless we start making changes ourselves.

Wet rider...

My daughter's science teacher told her class that people get less wet walking in the rain than they do if they run. I don't know where Mr. Wille got his info nor why, if his facts are true, walking is less soaking, but if it has to do with speed, my ride in the rain this morning made me wetter than everyone on foot. The only folks wetter than a bike rider in the rain would be, I supppose, a convertible-with-the-top-down driver in a typoon or a motorcyclist without a slicker during monsoon season. Not that we have either around here. We just have run of the mill downpours. With or without lightning, they're pretty much just wet.

This morning when I took off around 8:00 on my Trek, the skies had partly cleared after overnight showers. Not a drop was falling from the sky, but the streets were still damp. I'd seen the forecast and looked at the WeatherBug radar, so I knew the break wouldn't last long, but I didn't want to miss the opportunity to ride. I've done the math and I have to ride an average of 17 miles per day for the rest of the year to have any hope of making my 3650-mile goal. (It would've helped if I hadn't taken so many days off earlier in the year, but I can't go back, so I'm just riding for all I'm worth now.)

I headed east when I hit the highway. That's the direction the wind seemed to be coming from and I always like to deal with a headwind when I'm fresh and enjoy a tailwind on the way home. I pedaled past Kiser's flag and the airport windsock. They were flapping this way and that, so I couldn't tell if I was going the right way or not. I had to push fairly hard to get up to speed, so I assumed I was headed into the wind.

After about three and a half miles, I decided I was wrong and turned around. I lost speed as I headed west. I was bummed, but at least it wasn't raining. I returned to town and kept riding toward this evening's sunset.

About three and half miles west of town, the rain started. It was just a mist at first. A few drops dotted my handlebars. Nothing to worry about. I climbed Drouhard Hill and turned around. As I dropped back down into the valley, the intensity of the rain increased to a sprinkle. My helmet started dripping in front of my eyes.

By the time I got back to the correction line two miles out, the rain was coming down steadily, but not so hard that it was unpleasant to ride through. I was definitely wet though. I hadn't put on a jacket, so my jersey was soaked through. My tights and shorts were beginning to get a little squishy. (More than you wanted to know, I'm sure.)

I made it back obviously. I was wet and tired, but none the worse for the wear. I had completed 17.1 miles in just under an hour. 18.7mph was my average. My cycling gear is hanging out to dry on a drying rack in my bedroom and I'm smiling.

The real deluge came later in the morning. Around 10:00 I would've been soaked to the bone walking or riding. It's raining pretty hard right now too. ("Rain, rain go away! Let me ride dry tomorrow.")

I wonder. Can a walker or runner tell the difference in wetness? Does the walker feel that little bit of extra dryness he's enjoying over the rider or the convertible driver? I'm not so sure.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

To the praise of our Holy God...

God is holy! He is worthy of praise! This song declares his holiness beautifully. Enjoy worshiping!

Possible TdF course leaked...

Nothing's been officially announced, but here’s what the three weeks of the Tour might look like according to cyclingnews.com:


After the opening weekend’s flat 9km time trial in the streets of Rotterdam, where huge crowds can be expected, the riders face a series of road stages that each offer something different. It’s not a week destined to feature only the field sprinters. Just contemplate this:

The first half of the Rotterdam-Brussels stage is on flat roads winding across the polders of the southwest Netherlands and northwest Belgium, where fierce winds off the North Sea normally blow. Everyone, sprinters and GC riders alike, will need to be on the alert to avoid getting on the wrong end of the inevitable splits in the peloton. It looks like the finish will be near the Atomium in Brussels — where the Tour will honor Eddy Merckx two weeks after his 65th birthday.

The finale of the all-Belgian stage to Spa will likely include a number of steep climbs in the Ardennes, giving rise to an aggressive race that favors the Schleck brothers and others who excel in the hilly classics. Another type of rider, the cobblestone experts like Tom Boonen, should excel the next day — because it’s almost certain that the Tour organizers will send the race over a few section of Paris-Roubaix pavé on the run-in to St. Amand-les-Eaux.

After these hectic opening stages, the sprinters should rule on the rolling stage 5 to the Champagne region (probably finishing at Reims) and a similar one to Montargis. And the fast men who can cope with a series of climbs in the Morvan hills of Burgundy should fight out stage 7 into Gueugnon — the most likely finish that day.


No matter what route the 2010 Tour follows, Prudhomme will always have the best seat in the house.
Photo: Casey B. GibsonWith seven varied stages behind them, the field will tackle two difficult days on the second weekend. The first would appear to explore a little-visited part of France, the southern Jura, where the route could include a whole slew of short, steep climbs in this region of limestone ridges and gorges. The second is the first alpine stage, looping around Lake Geneva and perhaps climbing Mont Salève and the Col de la Ramaz on its way to a finish in Morzine — the likely location of the first rest day.

The toughest of the three stages in the Alps looks like being the second one, crossing the Madeleine and Glandon passes on the way to the Tour’s first summit finish at La Toussuire — the climb where Floyd Landis cracked in 2006. The other alpine stage appears to be a lower-key affair heading to Gap, maybe taking in the same tricky downhill where Joseba Beloki crashed so dramatically in 2003 and almost took Lance Armstrong with him.

The three transition stages linking the Alps with the Pyrénées all look like offering hilly challenges, particularly stage 13, which is likely to finish on the summit finish at Mende. This is a stage similar to the one where Laurent Jalabert caused Miguel Indurain all sorts of problems in the 1995 Tour, and where Alberto Contador took a breakthrough stage win at the 2007 Paris-Nice.


The Tourmalet might just be the scene of a mountain-top finish in 2010.
Photo: Casey B. GibsonJust as the 2009 Tour included a most challenging final week, so next year’s finale looks like showcasing race director Prudhomme’s desire for drama. And the four days in the Pyrénées will be a worthy celebration of the mountain’s range’s 100-year link with the Tour.

If all the regional newspaper reports are correct, the first of these stages will repeat the 2003 Tour stage across the hors-cat Port de Pailhères to finish at Ax-3 Domaines, where Armstrong almost lost the yellow jersey to Jan Ullrich. There will be more climbs on the next day’s ride to Luchon, but they are less difficult, although a finale up and over the Cat. 2 Col Portillon might cause some surprises.

After a second rest day, the Tour continues with a classic Luchon-Pau stage that should repeat four climbs included in the monster trek of 1910: the Peyresourde, Aspin, Tourmalet and Aubisque. But more decisive should be the last mountain stage, on the Tour’s final Thursday, probably traversing the Aubisque from the other direction with a spectacular finish on the mighty Tourmalet.

The sprinters that have survived the climbing will get a chance to show their skills at Bordeaux; but the eventual outcome of the Tour podium could rest in the flat 50km time trial through the Haut-Médoc vineyards the day before the finish in Paris.

But all this depends on Prudhomme announcing a course like this next week in Paris.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Olive my job...

I love my "other" job. It's great to show up in the ambulance and help folks who are in distress. Very rewarding.

Not that every run is pleasant. Sometimes you just have to shake your head. There's a saying in EMS: "Stupidity is our job security." Not true in rural areas, just in the big city. I wish.

Evidently the same is true in Legoland. In this photo from a Lego a day (a new favorite) blog, we find a stupid Lego person having to be rescued by both the police force and fire rescue team.

Bummer! I thought things were better in Legoland.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Trek-Livestrong will feed Team Radio Shack...

Taylor Phinney remains on squad, half of roster to change for 2010

Lance Armstrong’s Trek-Livestrong team will act as a feeder squad for Team RadioShack in the coming years, with the U23 team already confirming that half the roster will change for 2010. Speaking to team director Axel Merckx at the Interbike Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Belgian outlined the team’s plans for next year.

“RadioShack will be a sponsor [of the Under-23 team] for next year. We’ll share some responsibilities and for me it’s also great to have Johan Bruyneel as a sounding board for advice. Also, we can use the service course in Belgium and they can use our services in the US. We’ll still be two different teams but what we’re trying to produce are two riders that will move up to their team and develop every year,” Merckx said.

“It will be interesting how the team evolves in the next couple of years. It’s been really exciting for me.”