June 27, 2007

Love Stretched Out - Part 2

It's one thing to say you love deeply. But how do we do it? What are some ways we can show God's love to those who are most difficult to love?

There are countless ways we can show God's unconditional love to those who need it. But it isn't easy. It doesn't happen naturally. In fact, it can be downright uncomfortable.

Here are a few ideas:
The Unlovable Neighbor - You may have one of those people living next door to you that are just plain weird. They seem to hate you and everything you do. Your grass is too long one week, too short the next. You're kids leave too many toys laying around. You dog leaves...(well, you know) in their yard. The only interaction you want to have with this person is...none!
How do you love someone like this? Offer to cut their grass or wash their car. Invite them over for dinner. Ask them how you can pray for them. You will most likely have to make these offers more than once. And they may never accept. The point is you reached out.

The Unlovable Boss - Is your boss one of those people that seems to enjoy making your life miserable? If so, why not offer to do something nice for them? Offer to pick up their lunch. Offer to go the extra mile by doing some menial task around the office that everyone hates. It doesn't matter so much what you do as how you do it. If you offer to help out in a way you normally wouldn't, with a bad attitude, their will be no love shown. Offer with the best of intentions, expecting nothing in return. You may never know how you impact someone by your kind, unselfish actions.

The Bible doesn't give us a checklist of things to do - it simply tells us to love one another. How are you doing? You probably have shown Christ's love in your own way. I'd love to hear about it. We all need to learn to make loving others a regular part of our daily lives.

Love Stretched Out - Part 1

When's the last time you told someone you loved them, and meant it?

It's easy to tell lovable people we love them. It's advantageous to tell some people we love them. But there are certain individuals that can be rather difficult to love.

1 Peter 1:22 says that Christ followers should "love one another deeply from the heart." Some versions use the word fervently in place of deeply. The idea behind this word is stretched to the limit. Have you ever stretched your love to the limit? Like I said, it's easy to love people who are easy to love.

Sometimes we are forced to work with, live with, interact with people that we can't seem to love. We find it very difficult. The argument usually goes something like this: "I try to love him, but he just doesn't do his part." Or "I'm tired of being the only one who is trying."

When I think about love, God's definition, not our own, I have a hard time accepting those kinds of arguments. Romans 5:8 is a statement of God's definition of love. We didn't deserve it. We weren't lovable. In fact, we were so lost in our own sin that we didn't even know we needed His love. But He loved us anyway.

If that is our example, then there really are no excuses for not loving others. "Love one another deeply from the heart." A love stretched to capacity. A love that we could never give in our own power.

It's one thing to say it, but how do we do it? I have some practical ideas that I'll share next time. In the mean time, what do you think? What are some ways we can show God's love to those who are most difficult to love?

June 25, 2007

Cowbell Challenge

Well, I did it! I managed to 'hang in there' for a pretty amazing and unforgettable mountain bike race. I rode in the Cowbell Challenge. This was a 12 hour mountain bike race on a 10 mile loop. The goal? Complete as many loops as possible in the given time. My goal was 7 loops - I did 6 - I'll explain why later.

I got to the trailhead, along with about 175 other racers, as around 8am. each team set up pit areas, basically tents lined up next to each other in the parking lot. Once everything was set up, we lined up for the 10am start. Then we were off! The first lap was pretty congested. A lot of people were pretty excited, a lot of people took off pretty fast. Most of them would slow down later.
My plan was to stop and refuel (eat, refill water bottles, cool off) after each lap. I spent about 10-15 minutes after the 1st and 2nd laps. After the third lap it was getting pretty hot (about 95?). So I rested for almost 30 minutes - soaking myself with a cold wet rag, drinking water, and eating a delicious can of chicken noodle soup.
My 4th lap I felt horrible. It was hot, I was tired, my stomach was feeling tight - a bit nauseous. The 5th lap was a totally different story. I felt like it was the first time I had gone out all day!
Like I said...my goal for the day was 7 laps (70 miles). I was on schedule to finish as planned. The rule was that you had to be on the course after 9pm in order to get an official finishing time. And no one was allowed to start another lap after 8:59pm. So as long as I timed it right, I would be OK. About 2/3 through the 6th lap, a stick popped up, getting caught between my chain and my rear spokes. This caused the rear derailleur to bend into the spokes as well. I had to stop and assess the damage. I was able to pull the derailleur out of the spokes. None of the spokes were damaged, thankfully. But because of the damage, I could no longer shift into the lower gears - a much needed option considering the hills I had just passed through. I managed to get the bike rideable, and was able to pedal back to the finish line. Unfortunately, there would be no 7th lap for me. The damage had been done.
So I parked my bike just before the finish line, walked around to my pit area and waited until just after 9pm, so that I could cross with an official time.
It was an awesome day! I can't wait to do it again!
I am feeling more confident than ever now as I look forward to my big ride - the Black and Blue Relay, on July 21.

June 18, 2007

Care Bear Band-Aids

I went mountain biking this morning. It was awesome. Until my front wheel got caught in some roots and I went flying over the handlebars. The end of my handlebar caught the inside of my leg, leaving a rather ugly mark.
When I got home, I showed it to my 2 1/2 year old daughter, Kelsey. She looked at it and said: "Daddy, we don't have anymore Hello Kitty band-aids. I used the last one."
I looked at her and said "Oh no! What am I going to do?"
She said "I have some teddy bear band-aids upstairs, you can have one of those."

It's so great to know that my youngest has my back.

June 13, 2007

What's Your Problem?

It never ceases to amaze me how many people all around us are struggling with life issues: relationships, personal habits, insecurities, lack of direction. Every time I meet with someone who is dealing with some issue, feeling hopeless, not sure what to do, and even less sure how they got to where they are, I ask them a series of simple questions.

1) Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

2) Are you spending time with Jesus daily, through Bible study and prayer?

3) Are you in a small group, living life in community with other believers?

4) Are you faithfully attending worship services with other believers?

9 times out of 10, the answer to one or more of these questions is “No.” These are not some magic potion, or a magic series of steps that will automatically make everything in life perfect. These are, however, a series of things that will enhance our ability to cope, to deal with the struggles of this life. Everyone has issues. Everyone has struggles. Hard times bring us all down. Life is hard – for all of us.

But if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if you have chosen to follow Him, having committed your life to him, and if you are spending time with Him daily, reading and studying the Bible, and praying, life will be noticeably different. If you will join a small group of believers, and join in a weekly time of worship with other believers, you will notice a significant change in your ability to handle whatever life throws your way.

I want to challenge you to check yourself in these four areas. Don’t turn it into some sort of check list, thinking that if you check them all off, then you will be fine. But make these things a part of your life, just like eating is a part of your life. We have to breathe, we have to drink, and we have to eat. Without these things life would become quite difficult (and very short). God created us for relationship. We have a God-given need to be in relationships, both with Him and with other people.

Are you struggling? Don’t go it alone. Follow Jesus. Spend time with Him everyday. Join a small group, live in community with others. And don’t give up meeting with other believers.

June 04, 2007

3 Mountain Madness

Some of you have already heard about my personal fitness goal this summer. I plan to ride the Black and Blue Double Century Relay, a 200 mile bike race on July 21. I know, I am a little insane...ok, a lot insane. But I just love to put myself to the test, to see how far I can push myself.
This past weekend I did a ride near Winston-Salem, kindof a warm up ride, to see how things were going. 3 Mountain Madness was a 95 mile ride, with 3 major hill climbs: Sauratown, Hangin Rock, and Pilot Mountain. Total elevation gain - 11,017 ft. It was awesome! I finished in 6 hours 51 minutes. My goal was 7 hours.