Hit by a car on my bicycle

I thought the title would grab your attention. I am home sitting in my recliner having finished our 1,000 mile 13 day trip today with a 60 mile ride from Idanah. The only mishap was riding into a blackberry bush hanging out over the road and scratching my face pretty good. Blood all over my face when I got home. So many people expressed concern for me on the trip when they heard that we were riding a bicycle 70 miles a day average. Last year there were approximately 1,200 people killed while riding a bicycle and 500,000 who were seriously injured, most from being hit by a car. Those who ride a bicycle over a 1000 miles a year on public roads as I have for the last 8 years, statistically have a much greater chance of being hit than those who ride occasionally for recreation.

Doing some rough math, it looks like I was 3x more apt to get hit by a car this last 13 days of bicycle riding than I am of getting COVID 19. I didn’t think twice about going on our trip and I worried about it zero while on the trip. If I read the statistics every day for a month before going, watched video’s of people getting hit by cars, and being scraped up off the road by ambulance workers I probably wouldn’t ride my bike from my house to the church, but why would I do that?

Bicycle Trip 2020 Day 12

We stayed at our friends, the Burkards, last night near Bend. When we left their house this morning at 7:00 am we pedaled 80 miles to a campground in Idanah. We went over the Santiam pass so we had a lot of steep uphill riding, but then we also got some ripping good downhills as well. Tonight is the last night of the trip, tomorrow we will be home again. I have been eating so much I don’t think I lost any weight on this trip like I usually do. With tomorrow being the Fourth of July the traffic on highway 20 was bumper to bumper, but everyone gave us lots of room as they went around us. I certainly noticed the difference one year in age makes when you get to be 72 years of age. This year was significantly more difficult than last year, and I remember saying the same thing last year. I may save up my pennies and buy a good quality e-bike like Cliff and Kathy have before next year. They are an electric assist bike that has an electric motor in the pedal crank assembly. The amount of electricity from the battery that goes to the motor is determined by how hard you pedal. If you are having an easy time you get no help, but if you are pushing hard on the pedals you get more help. They both like their bike’s, and I have to work like a dog to keep up with them. That might be a way I can extend my bicycle trips a few more years.

One of the key truths in the Bible is that the power of God is available to us through the power of the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. By His power we can successfully live the Christian life and do great things for God with our lives. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Some disciples of Jesus obviously have a great deal of power in their life, and others have very little. There are a number of reasons for the difference in power, but a major one is some just push harder on the pedals of life than others. Some aspire to do great things with their life for God, they set big goals, they want, really want to glorify God with the way they live and the fruit they bear. God’s power was not designed to make us coach potatoes, but champions for Him.

Bicycle Trip 2020 Day 11

Well, I guess I am going to have to give up my John Wayne card, I am riding in the pickup today, and my bicycle is in the back. I didn’t do any riding before the trip and even though my legs are in shape from riding my stationary bike at home an hour each night my buttocks were not. I have three different bicycle seats and I have been rotating them to get some relief, and I have gone through a whole tube of “Butt Butter” as well. This morning when I got up the thought of riding in as much pain as I was experiencing yesterday pushed me over the edge to “wimpiness”. The worst part of this decision is all the harassment I am going to have to take from my brother Cliff today every time I see him😖😖😩😩😤😤 If we were riding with no support vehicle I would have ridden and wouldn’t have thought twice about it because there would have been no other options except to call Patty and have her come pick me up, but I haven’t gotten that wimpy!

There are no immediate significant consequences from my decision today to choose the easy and comfortable way as opposed to the hard and painful way, except the programming of my will to do the same thing in real life where there are possible consequences that matter, possibly to others and those that last for eternity. Jesus made the principle clear in Matthew 7:13-14 when He said,

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Our character, who we really are on the inside, is shaped all through our life. God the Father’s goal is that my character becomes like that of Jesus. God does His work in me, but I must cooperate with Him by choosing every day whether I will take the easy and comfortable way or the hard, painful, and challenging way. The character that I end up with at the end of my life is who I am forever, so it is worth the cost to choose the narrow gate most of the time. Also the fruit that I bear, the things that I accomplish with my life that really matter and last for eternity are again the result of the choices I make. Easy and comfortable choices seldom result in significant accomplishments, that is just the way it is.

One of my reasons for doing these bicycle trips each summer is to train myself to enjoy doing hard things so that in real life when it really matters I will choose the way that brings growth and accomplishment. Most Christians don’t read their Bibles faithfully, because it is easier not to. Most Christians don’t spend time with a God in prayer everyday because it is easier not to. Most Christians don’t share their faith with others because it is easier not to. People who were once fully devoted followers of Jesus, and then fall away from that devotion to Him do so because of an accumulation of easy choices.,

Oh well, here I sit in the pickup, writing this blog thinking my next blog will be entitled, “Timely rest and recuperation is a key to endurance”, and hope that it is written with truth and transparency, and not as an excuse for “wimpiness”. One of the major barriers to living a disciplined life is the justifying and excusing that we all so naturally do when we choose the easy way.

I better ride tomorrow.

Bicycle Trip 2020 Day 9

Today was a long grueling uphill grind. We climbed 7,000 feet in 50 miles and I pedaled from 5 to 7 mph on the average grinding it up the long hill. We typically stop every 5 miles for a drink and a short rest, but for the last 20 miles of the climb today I was stopping every 2 miles. It is days like this that makes me seriously doubt my sanity for doing trips like this. When we finally reached the top we then had 20 miles of downhill. It wasn’t super steep, but we did average about 20 mph just coasting so it took us just an hour to get to camp. That is the kind of bicycle riding that I like. Cliff, Kathy, and Terri have cables and locks that they use to lock their bikes to a tree or something else to keep their bicycles from getting stolen. I told them that I was going to put a sign on my bike that said, “Please Steal”. We are at Ft Klamath tonight and tomorrow we will be at Odell Lake Lodge. Today was the hardest day for me and I am seriously tired. My leg muscles are cramping and hurting tonight as if to say to me, “treat us that way and we will show you!” I am drinking 2 bottles of quinine water as I write this blog hoping that it will help. I am trying to think of something spiritual and profound to share with you, but I think I damaged my brain cells today depriving them of oxygen as my muscles used it all. So, I will write something extra insightful and profound tomorrow night, maybe.

Bicycle Trip 2020 Day 8

We didn’t have any Wifi or cell service at the campsite we are in tonight so I walked up the street about half a mile until I found a little hamburger joint that has WiFi. The name of the place is “62 Burgers” but I am having chicken strips and fries. This blog won’t be long unless I get another order because the place is very small and busy.

We biked 77 miles today and it was all uphill as we followed along the banks of the Rogue River to a town called Shady Cove. Tomorrow will be a long day with about 90 miles and includes a lap around Crater Lake.

Over the years I have asked a lot of people why they think they are going to heaven when they die, and 90% say, because I believe in God. My response is, “the devil believes in God, but he isn’t going to heaven“. Sometimes I get some discussion, but usually not much positive response. Their thinking I am sure is “Leave me alone, I am comfortable in my simple, naive faith”. I am convinced that the reason there are so many people who fall away from the Lord is that their beginning with Him is based on a faulty definition of saving faith. A pseudo salvation has no real power to endure.

An interesting story in the gospels is when the rich kid asks Jesus what he needed to do to be saved. Jesus said, “Sell everything you have, give it to the poor and follow me“. That seems a strange answer in light of the Bible’s emphasis on grace, and a salvation that is free apart from any works. I think Jesus knew that if this dude made a commitment to follow him it would be with just half his heart, the other half would be trusting in his money to take care of him.

Saving faith is trusting in Jesus and believing that he is all I need, He is 100% my hope, my love, my commitment, and my Lord. In our culture we typically have a foot in two worlds, and when the going gets tough that divided commitment doesn’t work. Paul admonished the Corinthians to examine their life to see if they were really in the family of God. In light of our cultures bent toward easy believism, divided commitments, the prosperity gospel, “I believe in God”, and a dozen other substitutes for the real gospel it would be a very good idea for everyone to seriously examine their own heart before the day they stand before God and hear Him say, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” and we give Him the wrong answer.

Bicycle Trip 2020 Day 7

We are taking a rest day from biking today. Slept in, though 8 hours sleeping on the ground even on an air mattress is about max for me, so I didn’t sleep in much. We went out to a restaurant for breakfast and then went to a small local Baptist church. We didn’t know it when we went but they don’t have a pastor and there was a “pulpit supply” guy there from Grants Pass preaching. I don’t think he gets to preach much and he went for 90 minutes, and it was mostly stories that were poorly told and didn’t really connect much. I don’t like to fall asleep in another preacher’s sermon, but it was a challenge! But the worship time was great, and the small number of people that were there sang really loud and enthusiastically. I am spending most of this afternoon reading my Bible, memorizing Bible verses, and working on my sermon I am preaching next Sunday at JBC’s outdoor service at Lake Charles. I hope you all are going to come because it is going to be an awesome time of worshipping together as the “Body of Christ”, with a few baptisms in the Lake, and my sermon, entitled “Are You a Possum?”

Let me give you a preview of next week’s sermon.

I saw recently on Facebook the name of a person that I hadn’t heard from for probably 20 years, when they moved from Jefferson to another city. They had been very involved in the church, in my life, and were highly committed to following the Lord. I decided to reconnect with them and sent them an email which they quickly responded to and we “chatted” for a bit. I asked how they were doing spiritually and where they were going to church. They responded that they hadn’t gone to church in over 15 years, weren’t doing much spiritually, but that they still believed in God. I offered to help them via email to get back on track with the Lord, but I got no more response from them.

That happens a lot, people growing lukewarm, falling away from the Lord. Many people turned their back on the Lord in the early days of the church because of persecution and the writer of Hebrews writes the book to deal with that situation. There are 6 severe warnings in the book about falling away, and one of them is in Hebrews 3:12-14 ,

“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,”

The reasons for people falling away from the Lord are many. The most recent reason is the governments command that that we isolate for the sake of physical health. Many Christians didn’t manage that well, didn’t compensate for it in a way that would maintain spiritual health through grace received from others in personal relationships.

The reason many didn’t make adjustments to changes is because we all are a bit haughty in our judgment of how vulnerable we are to backsliding. We are sure that we are solid as a rock and nothing is going to effect our walk and love for Jesus. The fact is, our spiritual health is much more vulnerable to sickness than our physical health is.

What can we do to maintain spiritual health and vitality during these changing times? Come gather together as the church this next Sunday at Lake Charles, and I will tell you.

Bicycle Trip 2020 Day 6

We are camped near Cave Junction, Oregon tonight in a nice campground with lots of shade, showers, electricity, and a nice “club house” to sit and read and write in once the bugs come out.

So, instead of a travel log in tonight’s blog I thought I might pose a theological question. I think about these kinds of things as I ride along on my bike. I am not saying what I believe to be true, just asking the question to prompt some thought. My brother Cliff has had two flat tires and his wife Kathy has had two, and I have had none.

So the question, “Did God cause the flat tires, or does He just let some things happen”? If God is all sovereign, is there room inside His sovereignty for natural cause and effect? If God is Sovereign over some things, but not all things, where is the line? I buy “Gatorskin” tires for my bike which are extra thick and use extra tough rubber with Kevlar liners and extra thick tubes that have stuff in them to heal puncture wounds. They are also extra expensive. If God decides who gets flats and who doesn’t I could just buy cheap tires and tubes.

So, let’s just say for discussion sake that God caused Cliff and Kathy’s flat tires. Why did they get flat tires and not me? Maybe because God likes me better 🤣 I like that answer! Maybe because he has sinned more, I am sure he has, but is that the reason for the flats? Does God have a quota of bad things that happen to each of us, and I will get mine tomorrow?

I said I wasn’t going to give my opinion, but I will give a short answer that really isn’t an answer at all.

I am accountable before God to live my life responsibly, with wisdom, and in obedience to him. I change the oil in our cars faithfully every 3,000 miles, I have fire insurance on our house, I don’t eat sugar, and I exercise an hour every day. But I also trust God that He is going to take care of me, protect me, and guide me into His perfect will, so I am not a fanatic about controlling every detail of my life. I ride down hills on my bicycle at 50 mph, I go sky diving, and I go rafting down class 4 rapids. I am not worried or afraid of getting the Corona Virus, of getting cancer, or of dying, but I am not going rock climbing up El Capitan at Yosemite with my son in law, Aaron.

How it all fits together, I have no clue, but I do know that I love life, have a ton of fun, have great peace, worry about nothing, have a joy that only occasionally turns to depression, set goals and work as if everything depends on me, and trust, love, and worship God as my Sovereign King.

Bicycle Trip 2020 Day 5

Today I set a personal best for speed on my bicycle. We climbed this humongous hill just South of Gold Beach and the rule is what goes up must come down so the humongous up hill resulted in a humongous down hill, steep, long, fairly straight, and smooth. While flying down the hill I knew I was going fast but I didn’t take my eyes off of the rode even for a second to look down at my speedometer. When we got into camp I looked at my little bike computer on my handle bars and scrolled through the information until I got to the category of “fastest speed for the day”, and right behind it was 50.4 mph! Whoooooeeeeeee! That beat my old record of 42 mph by over 8 mph, I was flying. We rode a total of 70 miles today and we are scheduled to do the same tomorrow with about the same amount of hill climbing. Tomorrow we end our coast riding and head Northeast towards Crater Lake. Today was a pretty good day, all the muscle pain in my legs is gone, my feet didn’t hurt, my neck didn’t hurt, just my butt is hurting, but I bought this stuff at a pharmacy that is a local pain reliever, and it worked pretty good, so life is good😀!

Someone in our group said that today was “heavenly”, and I responded that I hoped heaven was going to be way better than this! This campground that we are in tonight doesn’t have a shower so this will be a handi-wipe night. They actually work pretty good if you have enough and I have a big package! Well, I better go take my “shower”, set up my tent, and fix dinner.

Bicycle Trip 2020 Day 4

Today was 85 miles of bicycling, and over 5,000 feet in elevation gain. Lots of going up and then coming down, we could call today “roller coaster” day. This trip is only 12 days long so we are now a third done. We are in a KOA Campground tonight and they had a big hot tub that felt soooooo good after 85 miles of pedaling a bicycle. Tomorrow we will bike 65 miles to Harris Beach Campground in Brookings. 65 miles will seem like a piece of cake compared to 85, but we have over 6,000 feet of elevation gain which is a super lot!

Today as I rode along I thought about what my next years goals will be. I have a strong desire to do the “Transamerica” which is a 4,200 mile coast to coast bicycle trip from Newport, Oregon to Yorktown, Virginia. I have also been thinking about another bicycle trip to Fairbanks, Alaska. That was the most scenic of any trip I have down, and we saw 92 bears and hundreds of other wildlife including moose, elk, deer, caribou, wolves, buffalo, big horn sheep, and mountain goats.

The problem I am wrestling with is I love to fish, more and more all the time, and I have found some really good fishing places. Also I can take my grandkids with me when I go fishing. My grandson Courage is begging me almost daily to take him fishing. The more I bicycle the less I can fish. A ten day trip like this one would keep my bicycle juices flowing, and I could do some day trips around home as well. But another trip across the USA or up to Alaska would be a nice challenge. I have also planned out a trip 6,000 miles long that would hit all lower 48 States, as well as a 5,000 mile trip from the tip of Florida to Fairbanks, Alaska. Both of those trips would take most of the summer, and would probably be solo trips.

I set 72 goals this year which are designed to use up all of my time, so goal setting is a discipline of establishing priorities, I can’t do everything I would like to do, so I have to choose. How do I decide what is in and what is out? In the goals for next year I will have my fishing, hunting, and bicycling goals, but I also will have family goals, ministry goals, spiritual discipline goals, and “Patty goals”. The goal is to use my time up, and do it in as wise a way possible so that I bear as much fruit for God as possible.