July and Le Tour

As July comes to a close, so does one of my favorite sporting events of the year, the Tour de France.  Le Tour is a three-week slugfest of elite bike riders who spend about 5 hours a day on a two-wheeled machine going crazy fast.  Riders must face different road conditions from asphalt to cobble stones, and lots of country roads.  Through corn fields, traversing wineries, and stunning coast lines, it is a feast for the eyes.

37695364_1747095825339789_4118934028399149056_oRiders travel 2100 miles! That’s almost Seattle to New York.   Many of those miles are up imposing mountains in the Alps and Pyrenees.  Sometimes they face three major climbs a day with 12-17% grade.  This is not for the faint of heart.

Riders travel in teams, the elite team this year was Team Sky.  It is impossible to win the tour without help from your teammates.  There is tremendous efficiency in having someone ride ahead of you.  Riders called domestiques “spend themselves” for you.  The domestiques know their role, it is to take care of their team captain so that he has energy to win the race.  Perhaps I like this so much because it reminds me of Jesus who spent himself for us; He gives himself that we might win the race.

Large groups of riders form a pack.  This is called the peloton.  Riders who stay in the peloton get an efficiency of up to 30%.  Think of geese who fly in formation!  So the peloton makes up the power engine each day churning out the miles.  But there is always a group of riders, called the breakaway, that think they can beat the peloton.  So it is a cat and mouse game.  The riders break off with high hopes until the power of the peloton catches them.  But sometimes, the breakaway wins the stage!

The overall winner of the race is the man who finishes with the lowest time over all 21 days.  This year there was some drama.  The three-time winner, Chris Froome, had a teammate that rode better.  We watched the team captain role switch from Froome to his next in command, Geraint Thomas.  Some teams implode under that, but Sky took it in stride.  Froome ended up taking third overall.

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Le Tour is a big plunge for July.  Here and gone!  And we wait another eleven months to do it all again.  The sport continues to fascinate me.

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Why I Love Young Families

young familyYesterday at church, we dedicated eight children and welcomed on stage six young families.  It was an electric day.  Parents wrote special messages to their children and read them before the entire congregation.  I had the opportunity to pray over each child dedicating them to the Lord and calling upon the church to raise these precious ones to know God and Jesus as their Savior.

I love young families.  And God has blessed our church recently with quite a few new families who have found CCF as their home church.

I love families because they are full of energy.  Never a dull moment.  Whether it is the new couple just starting out or the family that welcomed their third child, life is full of action.  And for me, it takes me back to those electric years in my life!

I love young families because they are open to new things!  I hate to admit it, but getting older means that we sometimes close ourselves off to new experiences.  Young families are still pretty wide open.  And as a result, they introduce me to new things.  I had the most fascinating conversation recently with a man at my church who is starting a crypto currency!  Don’t hear that every day!

I love young families because they represent the future leaders of our church and God’s kingdom.  And so many times, I find very capable people!  I love giving them responsibility and seeing them “run with it.”

I plan to fill my life with more young families.  And I continue to pray that God will make me a blessing to them.


Maintining Friendships

Have you ever wondered how many relationships a person can actively maintain?  Believe it or not, it is the Dunbar Number!

Anthropologist Robin Dunbar has extensively studied the  structure of social networks and says we are limited to 150 meaningful relationships at a time.  Even in an age of rising social media where people might have a thousand or more “friends,” there are limits to what can meaningfully be maintained.

Dunbar points out that we all have a cascade of outwardly expanding circles.  The most important circles are 5-15-35.  Most of us have about five of our closest friends who get about 50% of our relational time.  Dunbar says, fifteen of our closest friends get 75% of our emotional and relational time.

All these relationships take the investment of TIME.  Without that time, they begin to decay, or at least begin to change to a new set of friendships.

This makes a lot of sense and explains why our friend networks change when we move.  The old friends don’t cease to be friends, they are just friends that move to an outer circle.  And a new set of friends grows closer.

It also helps to explain why facebook relationships don’t have the weight and gravity of in-the-flesh relationships that occur over a walk or sipping a cup of coffee.

Nurture your fives and fifteens!  They are crucial in life.

To learn more, check out this article and video at NPR.


For People Who Have Given Up on the Church

disciplesWe have all heard it, “I love Jesus, but not the church.”  It is such a vogue thing to say today.  A love affair with Jesus, but the church is an ugly discard.

Somehow people wish to equate following Jesus as something totally separated from His Body and Bride, the church! 1 Corinthians 12:27 and Revelation 19:7 spell out so clearly the theology of Body and Bride – along with about a hundred other verses!

I loved this well reasoned post by Carey Nieuwhof, posted in 2015, A Response To Christians Who Are Done With Church. Nieuwhof reminds us,

“If you’re a Christian, church is not something you go to. It’s something you are.

You can’t disassociate from church as a Christian anymore than you can disassociate from humanity as a person.

You don’t go to church. You are the church.”

Read the whole post from Nieuwhof, it is worth it!

For those who love Jesus, get busy loving the church!  It is God’s calling on your life!

Is it messy?  Of course!

Hard at times?  Yup!

Exasperating?  People can be that way.

But the church is a spiritual collection of people brought together under the unity of Jesus and indwelt with his Holy Spirit.  The rough edges are being knocked off all of us.

Don’t give up on the very thing God has called into existence and is bringing heavenward to Himself!  Get busy loving and building up the church.  You are called to be an active member of this motley crew. This group of cracked pots that are being transformed into the likeness of Christ himself (2 Cor 3:18)


Praying for a New President

I’m committed to pray for every president of the US.  It is my calling as a Christian clearly spelled out in I Timothy 2:1-2

I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

But just what should we pray in our intercessions?  I ran across this article from Mark Labberton about how to pray for a new president.  But here’s the thing, it was his encouragement to pray for incoming president Barack Obama.  He wrote this article in Christianity Today back in 2009.  I was intrigued to see how much his admonition to pray spanned the vast difference between presidents Trump and Obama.

He encourages us to pray for President Trump and his administration for humility, wisdom, and courage.  What a fantastic trio!

In the passage from I Timothy, Paul does not encourage us to pray for only good presidents.  He calls us to pray for all presidents.  And the end game is always the same.  Their service is to help us all lead peaceful and quiet lives.


Two Letters

arlenes-flowers-1024x684I was intrigued to read two letters recently published by the Seattle Times.  The letters were written by the two parties involved in a lawsuit that has made its way to the Washington Supreme Court involving religious liberty and rights for gays.

Barronelle Stutzman is the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, WA.  Here’s her letter, posted on the Seattle Times, about why she decided not to provide flowers for a gay wedding.  Ironically, she feels the two men have been and continue to be her friends.

Rob Ingersoll is the gay man who brought the lawsuit against Arelene’s Flowers (with the help of the ACLU), and has now been carried forward by the State of Washington.  Here’s his letter, posted on the Seattle Times.

Regardless of where you land on this subject, hearing firsthand from both people is important.  This is likely a watershed issue that will have cascading effects in our society for years to come.

Here’s the article from the Tri-City Herald which covered the trial that was heard on Nov. 15 in Bellevue following the appeal from Benton County Superior Court.  The trial has ended and the WA Supreme Court now deliberates.  Their decision is likely to be heard sometime in early 2017.  I personally believe that this case will be appealed to the US Supreme Court.

 

 


Inspiring Videos on Bible and Theology

Something really exciting has been happening over the last year.  Short video vignettes are being created for biblical books, Bible themes, and theological topics.  Really high quality stuff that is super inspiring.  Let me offer a few examples.

At the top of my list is the Bible Project.  Two guys have gotten together to do narrative drawings (my best explanation) that help explain books of the Bible.  Check this one out on the book of Judges.  They did an outstanding job of explaining an overview of the book along with key themes.

Look on their YouTube channel and find other books along with Bible topics like “The Image of God”, “Covenants”, and “Atonement.” I’m always inspired to watch their simple explanation of God’s word.
I also recently discovered videos on topics related to theology. Try this one from Boston College Professor of Philosophy, Peter Kreeft on “God and Suffering.”  He has a whole collection of these on common questions related to God and theology.

I applaud some really creative people who are finding succinct ways to engage and teach a new audience!  Love it!