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Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong cheated. Nobody made the hall of fame for this year in baseball. P.E.D’s are they ruining sports? Cheaters abound. Some even suspect that Chip Kelly’s departure from Oregon to the N.F.L. is related to coming NCAA actions against Oregon. Wow, when will it stop? Someone last night on sports radio said to radio host Rod Dibble: “Just nail them all to a cross.” I paused as I thought about the context to that idea.

I think most people associate Jesus with being the one person by name that they could recall was nailed to a cross. I was under the impression that most considered him a scape goat to the charges by now. The reason he was nailed to the cross could be described as a vindictive act by harsh critics that couldn’t win the verbal arguments so they resorted to mob actions backed up by weak politicians.

The contemplative soul would have to ask if at some level this is not taking place today as well. Drugs and addictions are common place within culture now more than perhaps at any other time in America’s history. Substances previously thought dangerous are being adopted as legal in several states. Yet, we seem eager to hold these “role models” to a standard that many in their own private lives do not adhere.

Scape goats swing bats and ride bicycles these days. What is amazing is any reference to the need for moral accountability to the Supreme is met with harsh criticism. In a day when all kinds of acts are caught on film (even the violence of pushing someone into a train) the thought of God’s eyes watching over us is more than we want to allow in the public debate.

Someone should be nailed to a cross. Someone needs to be held accountable. That someone is you. That someone is me. I am not ready to allow just anyone to see all that is going on in the hidden areas of my soul are you? Think twice before you arrogantly say, “I’ve got nothing to hide!”  Someone really does need to be nailed to a cross for us. Fortunately, someone has been.

That really is the message of the cross: That when you come to realize your true guilt you may find a pardon. ‎Hear this story in one sentence of a man in need: “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.”

With the nails in my hand I come to a cross bent in exhaustion by my failures, sin, excuses and debt. I lay down to die, and a stranger takes the nails and asks for my place. I look in his eyes and discover that one who I have tried in vain to blame for all my problems is actually standing before me ready to be the answer to my greatest need. God in Christ bears the nails, the cross and the shame. It is a gift to the one tired of their own cheating ways.

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Patriots’ quarterback, Tom Brady, is married to supermodel Gisele Bundchen. She wasn’t too super recently when she was caught cursing the players that dropped her husband’s passes during the Superbowl. Someone recorded the outburst and put it on the Internet. (In a strange twist before the game a private email of hers had made the rounds where she asked friends to pray for Tom to have a good game. Maybe next time she will ask others to pray for the receivers)

That is the new world we live in, if you say anything or do anything look around because someone might have taken a picture or recorded it for their Facebook. Nothing is private anymore. Everything is for public consumption. Whisper it and you might as well shout it. I don’t know if I like this new wave of technology. Too often it reveals that we are such shallow people of selfish interest, and ugly attitudes.

Solomon warns us: “Even in your bedroom don’t curse the rich, for a bird of the air will carry your voice to tell the matter.” Then again he says, “Do not take to heart all the things that people say. . . your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.” We don’t like it when people take everything we say so seriously, but the real trouble is not our tongue, but the source of its venom. James writes, “the tongue is a fire. . . set on fire by hell.” Jesus put it like this, “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.”

If everything we say becomes public then the entire public will know what kind of a person we are. But friend, God already knows. With that knowledge He sent His own Son to earth. His Son came not to wash out your mouth with soap, but to cleanse your heart with His own blood. Now that is a word in your favor. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory. The Glory as the only begotten, full of grace and truth!”

Knowing exactly what we are like God loved us still. God’s plan took into account our words.

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One Happy Guy on his first ride!

Last month I turned 50. I could have been bothered but my friends did so many kind things to show this aging boy they cared. One really special gift was from the church. They bought me a bicycle. I really can ride off into the sunset.

On the second ride I stopped and picked up 50 nails that had been lost on the side of the road. Anyone who drives on K-92 can thank me for saving them a possible flat tire. They really need to thank the ones who bought me the bike more. It put me in a very charitable mood even though I was going up a hill!

Giving to others has a way of doing that. It is contagious. God designed it that way. He wants us to respond to gifts by being more generous. Ever met someone who you gave them a Coke, and they wanted Pepsi or you offered a hamburger but they wanted a cheeseburger. No matter what you did they wanted something different or better.

Sad, but even worse some do this with God’s gift. Christ died for their sin, but they wanted a life without trouble. To them God just hasn’t ever done enough. One day of rain and they want sunshine. One day of sunshine and they think it is too hot. Winter comes and well they think. . . God’s plan is that we respond to what He has done with gratefulness.

Funny thing about gratefulness, the more you have of it the more you are able to see and appreciate all God is doing around you. Maybe God is doing enough, you just aren’t seeing it.

When I am riding it it moves to fast to get a good look at it. 🙂

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Thomas Robinson with teammates

There are losses and then there are losses. Saturday, the Kansas Jayhawks lost their first game this year. It was disappointing (especially if you watched it in Texas like I did!). The loss was overshadowed by another. One of the players, Thomas Robinson, lost his mother the night before. Imagine the burden for the young man. She was only 38 years old.

I have not met Thomas Robinson, but prayed for him. Her memorial services will be this Thursday. The team plans to join him in the Washington D.C. area. Games are rather trivial in comparison to such losses.

But even death has different measurements. The apostle Paul said, “We sorrow not as those that have no hope.” Loss is different (still very hard) but different for those with hope. What is the difference? Clearly hope provides strength.

I visited with Bill Self one day about a dying friend. He stated, “knowing Jesus makes a difference.” I agree with him. Jesus himself said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me though he may die yet shall he live.”

You might not believe, but you can’t question those who do believe face loss with a strangely different attitude. Even while on the cross Jesus provided hope. To the thief hanging next to him he said, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” No proof of the destiny of that thief beyond the promise of a dying man. The only value is hope.

Not much some might say, but I counter, hope is plenty for a heart willing to trust. Is your heart willing to trust? There is hope and help enough if it is.

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Football coaches have an appetite for details. Evidence of this is their propensity toward studying game film. They will watch games from the past week, the past years, their own team and the team they will be playing, and sometimes even from past teams the coach used to be coaching.

All of this is to somehow get an edge. See something of a weakness. Figure out how to attack or defend against. I am sure something else happens with the really good coaches. They learn something to emulate or copy. They see a wrinkle or an adjustment the other coach used and they find a way to incorporate it into their playbook.

I can understand the admiration. I have a hard enough time getting my three children to do what I want, and a good coach must synchronize 11 players each play!  Seeing someone accomplish this task with a group in full motion of the game is impressive.

Appreciating the efforts of others, and studying their schemes, plans and execution is not just for football. A good cook borrows recipes as does an artist the styles of another’s painting. Yet, there is someone else’s work even more worthy of study and admiration. “The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them” (Psalm 111:2).

Chalking up to chance the order of the universe is an insult to God, as is ignoring the stories of the Bible by calling them myths or legends is missing the great one who is directing even today our lives. Sure, He probably won’t ask you to walk on water or kill a giant with a sling, but you can through admiration see His character, and marvel at His ways.

In the details we can delight in Him. God isn’t showing off like the class clown, but He does enjoy you looking in on what He is doing with wonder. He doesn’t necessary tell you everything He is doing, but He does tell us enough that we ought to be impressed. He wants us not to know all the in and outs of what happened, but to see His hand and be filled with a deepening faith in His ability to accomplish all that needs to be done.

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What makes something fun? Fun is not necessarily easy: I am a bad golfer, the course was soggy and walking was hard, I have a sunburn today because of it all. Yet, I had fun yesterday.

Still, the question remains: “What makes something fun?” I was with people I really like, and we were helping raise money for a great cause. Plus, the day was beautiful, and many humorous things happened. Yet, some things that bring pleasure when we do them are not funny later when we look back at them. Rather, they are filled with regrets. There are some things that are difficult when they happen that later we look back at with satisfaction.

So the question still is: “What makes something fun?” My conclusion has a lot to do with perspective. How a person views his situation has a lot to do with whether it is fun. Therefore, a long term perspective on my present situation will greatly affect my long term satisfaction derived from the events that I am going through. How I look at life affects how much fun I have, and more importantly the quality of the joy.

I choose a “I want all I can for me” perspective in the long term I will not have fun. If on the other hand I choose a “how would God want me to live” perspective in the long term I will have more fun. The reason is simple, no perspective is more long term than God’s. Saying “no” to self leads to more joy than hogging all I can.  The more I hold on the less I have, the more I give the more I get.

There was almost a hole in one!

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2009 Miles In 2009

2000 Mile Club

A Long Way from Home

I haven’t purchased my turkey hunting tags for this fall yet, because I was wanting to reach the 2,000 milestone on my bike first. So now that I have made it (All the way to 2009 to be exact) it is time to buy the tags and head into the woods.

PS. I road past 2 tom turkeys only 3 miles before the new mark. Guess they figured they were safe for at least another 10 minutes.

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