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Saturday began with an eagerness to ignite my day. I was scheduled to meet some friends at our church. But, it was not a gathering for the traditional spiritual purposes. Instead, it was a quest for a new kind of spiritual adventure. I would climb aboard my motorcycle, the Silver Dragon, and ride.
Some of us rendezvoused at the appointed time and place. Our bikes were gassed and ready to rumble. First, there were three.
Next, we would head south and meet more riders at the junction of Highway 92 off of I-280. When we pulled off of the freeway and wound our way down 92 we saw our friends off the side of the road and waving at us with enthusiasm. Now there were five.
Highway 1 called us to ride. Our engines roared to life. Feet tapped peddles to shift transmissions into gear. Throttles rolled on and the curves of the road along the gigantic Pacific smoothed out in front of us.
Santa Cruz, the town of famous beaches, crowds of tourists and excellent eateries welcomed our bikes to stay a while. A small but well-known and crowded restaurant called Zachery’s had an open table for six. The five of us rested our bodies and fueled our energies with good food.
The route home was phenomenal. We took Highway 9 and zig zagged through the forests of the Pacific Coast Range. Now, it was time to concentrate on our riding skills and negotiate the hairpin turns that led the way home. Ahead my fellow riders began disappearing around the myriad of turns.
On my approach I never chose to use my brakes. Instead, I shifted down and my engine slowed my entry into the curves. From past experience I moved to the outside of my lane for a left curve.
From the high side of the lane I entered the curve keeping an eye for the apex of the radius. Once I hit it I descended back into the middle of the lane and rolled on my accelerator. The next turn was to the right. Carefully, I shifted down again, moved near the inside of the lane and leaned hard into the turn. The Silver Dragon handled smoothly, powerfully and hugged the road like a dream. Countless turns later we waved each rider off as one by one we peeled off and headed home. What a way to live!
photo credit: bruce fong photography
Yvonne and I were greeted at the Pro Hut with a smile. Each of us got a golf ball and our choice of clubs. I took one of the longer putters and Yvonne took one of the shorter ones. Now we would tee off and see who would be crowned the athlete of the day. Basketball was yesterday. Today was not a game of brawn but of mind over matter. This would test the will more than the athletic prowess of the human soul.
Out of courtesy I motioned for Yvonne to take the lead at the first tee. She resolutely insisted that I lead the way. My competitive edge was ready to kick in, advance my score and dominate the results.
I sent my golf ball racing down the crooked fareway. It ricocheted off the side board, bounced off a brick, and settled a few feet from the cup. The drive made me smile with satisfaction.
Yvonne did a bit of trash talking as she teed up and launched her first stroke down the fareway. Her ball came to rest near mine just a lot closer to the cup. She putted in and pared the hole. I followed in kind. We were dead even. The game was afoot.
Hole after hole we played neck and neck. The score was even. There was no back and forth or any domination. It was a different kind of pressure.
Then, the stalemate was shattered. The next hole had a zig zag that would take a few strokes to get to the green. Or there was a short-cut through a long ship with a tube down its hull. It’s a tough shot. One chance with enough power and speed would dump my ball right into the cup. It was time to play for a win and laugh at the risk of a loss.
I sent the ball fast and strong. But, the world that I did not use was straight. The angle of my domination stroke was off by a couple of degrees. It was an ugly sound. The ball bounced off the wooden ship, clunked down the ramp, rolled back and landed at my feet. I don’t remember if Yvonne was laughing because I was laughing too loud myself to notice.
Yes, I was down two strokes and never caught up. Yvonne won fair and square. Didn’t she?
photo credit: yahoo image
Titus was given an apostolic assignment not just to serve as an elder but also to identify others who were qualified to serve the church in that capacity. Difficulties marked the church even in the first century. But, troubles in the assembly are not insurmountable. These unsettling moments can be straightened out by the faithful work of appointed elders.
Paul had given a matrix for appointing elders to Titus. Elders were to be organized according towns. Apparently, multiple elders in each town were to serve together and oversee the functioning of the church in that locale.
Qualifications of an elder are specified by Paul. These are prerequisites that are both descriptive as well as prescriptive. Denotation of the terms is important. But, the sense of an overall reputation is also a requirement.
First, an elder must be “blameless”. This term does not mean perfect. Nor does it mean that this man is free from accusation. If that were the case neither Jesus nor Paul would not qualify.
Nor does this qualification mean that the character of the accusers has to be established as credible or trustworthy. Whether the allegations are given by reputable or irreparable sources is not the point of this key term. Rather, the allegations themselves are the focus.
Blameless means that if in an objective analysis the accusations against a man do not stick then the result is that he is “blameless.” When Godly men examine charges or complaints what is their conclusion? When Jesus was examined multiple times during His trial, extreme bias by both witnesses and adjudicators never validated anything against him. Judgment against Jesus reflected only a highly prejudiced decision.
Furthermore, an elder must be a “husband of one wife”. This means that he is loyal to his marriage vows. He is faithful in that divine institution. He maintains a one-woman-focus. it is a matter of integrity.
Finally, in the matter of an elder’s qualification as a family man, his children reflect values that he has invested in them. They are lives that are characterized by belief. Whether this means a narrower view that they are saved or that they at the very least respect the beliefs of their father is open to debate. But, even in the broadest sense, there is something to be said about a loving father that wins his children’s regard if not an embrace of the his faith.
The portrait of God’s creation was waiting for admiration and amazement. Taking a break from the task of a series of sermons was a welcome relief. I grabbed my little pocket camera and Yvonne joined me for a stroll on the beautiful grounds of Maranatha Bible and Missionary Conference.
The morning weather was inviting. Temperatures were pleasant, the breeze was gentle, and the sun was lighting the Creator’s masterpieces. Colors were generous as His habit for giving all things.
It wasn’t hard to pause and take in the explosion of yellow flowers. Each one was stunning by itself. But, a countless number crowding into a single space was a living painting of unrivaled proportions.
No longer was a destination the reason for my morning walk. Instead, I was hunting for something to see. Once I found what I was on my hunting adventure, then I would attempt to capture it on a digital memory stick.
From the yellow blooms I caught a glimpse of light, wispy purple collection of wildflowers. They were highlighted with a backdrop of green plants, bushes and grasses. The contrast was remarkable.
A ruby-red tree set off the delicate hues of lavender. The wind set the stems of purple flowers waving together like dancers responding to a melody that calls for movement as a necessity. This collection of textures and colors was wonderful.
From that special visual I turned my eyes to something bigger. I had to look up. A mighty tree had claimed a piece of land and grew to reach for the skies.
Taking two steps closer to inspect the girth of its trunk, felt like I was going to topple over when I then gazed at its boughs so far up in the sky. How could something so large grow so straight? After years of powerful weather and storms that damaged so much over the years, this sentry remained.
One last splendid sighting caught my eye. These plantings were arranged according to their Springtime spectacular colors. Some know these plants by name. I do not. But, I appreciate and marvel at their beauty.
A name isn’t always needed to gaze on what is spectacular and gorgeous. The finger of the Creator to give red, green, violet, pink and crimson in structured design on the arrow shaped leaves was stunning. Whoever placed the variations in juxtaposition so that every color combination enhanced its neighbor should be commended.
photo credit: brucefong photography
We passed by the Sweet Shop. There a wonderful selection of ice cream treats and fast foods invite hungry people to stop in for refreshments. But, our destination was further on.
Next, stopped in to look at the craft shop. Long tables filled the room with samples of crafts that a person could build, paint or decorate. You can buy the kit that suits your fancy and sit at one of the long tables and put it together. We didn’t stay there for very long.
Finally, we walked into the gym. It was empty. One long full length basketball court welcomed some friendly competition.
Yvonne took one ball and I another. She stood at the foul line and took a shot. Air ball! Like wise men before me, I said nothing.
Next, I stood at the line. My eyes lined up distance, height, ball weight, geometrical possibilities and I let the ball fly. Swish!
My competition rolled her eyes. I was not intimidated. She took her shot from the same spot. The ball hit the back board, bounced high up from the ring, came down on the iron again and slipped off without a score: “H”.
Shot after shot flew from our hands. Some went in the basket. Most missed the hoop. But, Yvonne spelled “HORSE” first and I smiled.
We lined up for the second game. I missed my shot. It looked like a legitimate miss. But, to an experienced eye, I rushed the shot. Someone may even have concluded that I missed with intention.
Yvonne made her shot. I responded with a miss. With bold proclamation I called out, “H”. She took another shot, I followed suit. Back and forth we went. It was neck and neck on the scoreboard.
Ultimately, we both had “HORS”. Yvonne took her spot, smoothly made her shot and I had to answer with a bucket or lose game two. It was decided, destined from eternity before I ever released the ball. She won!
After her celebratory dance, the obligatory victory shot, she looked at me with a penetrating stare, “Did you just let me win that game?” What husband would ever say anything, but, “You won, honey! Congratulations! You won!”
photo credit: brucefong photography
That familiar buzzing sound of a luggage carousel beginning to belch out bags made me chuckle. Yvonne and I exchanged a challenge. We wanted to guess whose bag would appear first. Our bravado led to laughter as we matched supernatural and divine purpose to the results of this luggage race. Yvonne won.
Once we collected our bags it was time to look for our friends. The crowds that landed with us were beginning to dissipate. Throngs were moving toward the exit.
But among the hundreds leaving the terminal, one was against the flow. He was very familiar. Scanning the remaining crowd as I was scanning for him, our eyes met and launched smiles that beamed across time, distance and location. Friendship was emerging again.
We cheered each other. Embraces were the order of the moment. Talking simultaneously actually worked. Gathering luggage we walked to the waiting automobile. Drew’s wife, Colleen, emerged from the waiting car.
Another round of cheering erupted. More smiles, hugs and pats on the back were part of our celebratory mood. Now, four voices in constant jabbering must have sounded like a cacophony to strangers passing by. But, for us, years of friendship translated our mixture of words, news and reaction with perfectly clarity.
Our hour drive to the final destination never knew no times of silence. We had to catch on 160 days of having been apart. The miles flowed by and we relived for each other the joys, sorrows and adventures of our recent days lived 3,000 miles in different states.
Tuckered out from a long day of travel and enthusiastic reunion, we planned our next morning’s broader reunion. Other wonderful friends were making the journey to this destination. Text messages were flying.
In the morning we were picked up and brought to a beautiful lake house. Here the sounds of the lapping waves of Lake Michigan lulled every stressed body into willing submission. Pulsating gentle crashing of waves on the shore welcomed every new couple to our reunion lunch.
Smiles, embraces and laughter filled the deck. Food was not the reason, it was just a stimulant to memories shared, raucous teasing and deep fellowship. I am blessed and rich with great friends.
photo credit: yahoo image
Yvonne and I have returned to Michigan. Our special treasures are with great friends. These true friends have been anchors through both thick and thin.
We flew the four-hour flight from SFO to Cincinnati. During that long leg of our journey, I saw faces in my mind’s eye. A smile would erupt on my countenance when I recalled goofy times during our decade plus in the Land of many lakes.
Our plane touched down in Ohio. We settled into the typically uncomfortable waiting area seats. Our eyes entered into the world of imagination through books that we had brought. The fantasy worlds that we were in suddenly ended when the attendants announced that it was time to board our final flight to Grand Rapids.
The short flight to GRR reunited us with landscapes, buildings and sites that were very familiar to us. More important than the place it was the people. These were not just those who populated the area, but they were friends, true friends that made our hearts leap.
There were episodes of laughing, reminiscing and vows of what we would never do again. At our season of life we can lie to each other and still laugh about it. We took off from where we left off the last time we were together 160 days ago.
It was time to go to work. Maranatha Bible and Missionary Conference had invited me to be one of the keynote speakers for week #9 of their summer schedule. Tim, the conference director is an old colleague. We have done many events together. He steered me straight.
The hospitality team of the conference is experienced, efficient and hospitable. They make a speaker feel comfortable, at home and honored. The mark of Christian service is the honor bestowed on those who work hard to be faithful in service. Maranatha rates high on the chart for their care of visiting ministers.
In between speaking duties, I take in the sights and sounds of Lake Michigan. The pulsating crashing waves relax the soul. God’s gentle breath felt in the breeze washes away all stress and welcomes me back to the soil where I invested eleven years of my life for the glory of the name above all names.
photo credit: brucefong photography
Paul begins his epistle to Titus with a recap of his apostolic credentials. In the only occurrence of the phrase, the Apostle identifies himself as “servant of God” In the past he refered to himself as “servant of Christ”.
This distinction is by no means conflicting. Rather, it is complementary. The deity of Jesus Christ is Biblically certain.
Furthermore, Paul has been sent by Jesus Christ. It was not a self-appointment. Paul’s life as a spokesman for God even Jesus Christ, was an expression of his obedience not his self-initiative for advancing his personal agenda.
It is also clear that Paul’s credentials were purposeful. The faith of God’s elect would be benefitted by his service. Also, any who wanted to know the truth that leads to godliness could find it from this servant of God.
Eternal life was not a truth relegated for an ambiguous future. Rather, our future in heaven is real. It is the foundation for a life of faith and knowledge in this present life.
God’s character is presented as the guarantee of our eternal future. Truth is the fabric of God’s Person. He does not lie, ever.
Also, God is consistent. He is not presenting a new program. Rather, His promise for the future has been one that He has offered since the beginning of time.
Learning about the truth that God wants people to know is timed. Paul as an apostle is the bearer of such information. This illumination or understanding of truth is a product of his gifted teaching. Paul does not hold that authority with arrogance but humbly accepts the responsibility as a trust.
Titus is the beneficiary of this epistle. We do not have any introduction to this man in the Acts of the Apostles. However, it is clear that he was part of those who were associated with the early church.
Titus was clearly a man whom Paul trusted. Apparently, he had leadership skills necessary for the challenge of ministry. People skills also seemed very apparent in Titus’ life.
Paul saw Titus as a “true son”. This personal connection was a result of faith that both men shared in Jesus Christ. They were not biological relatives but spiritual relatives. Fellowship of this level was highly regarded by Paul. It was couched in the eternal values of grace and peace. Not many have tight relationships like this. But, those of us who do are wonderfully and eternally blessed.
photo credit: ijango image
Days have slipped by since I have ridden my bike. The longing for the hum of a powerful motor and the wind blowing in my face was tugging at my spirit. The sun has poked out and the asphalt has beckoned loudly.
But, it is tough to ride without an essential piece of equipment. Do you remember? My motorcycle jackets, two of them, were stolen.
Replacing them has not been a swift process. My renter’s insurance covers theft. However, the deductible is only $20 less than the cost of their replacement.
But the dollar loss was only part of the trauma. I have actually found myself dragging my feet on getting at least one new jacket because I have been so sad from having been violated. My sense of security has been shaken.
Necessity, however, has overshadowed my grieving. It was time to move on. Enough time for mourning has been spent.
My online research led to local shopping. I read articles, brochures and ads for the next jacket that would protect me from both the elements and emergency situations. Hours of research narrowed my choice.
First, I wanted a jacket that was waterproof. Having a waterproof membrane was not good enough. Those jacket let the water through the outer shell and then claim to shed the moisture. I didn’t want the water getting though the out layer.
Most of the available jackets disqualified themselves with this simple limitation. In the shops that I visited I also tried on those membrane jackets. They were too warm and did not breath.
Many phone calls later, I found a shop with one of the jackets that I was interested in purchasing. They had it in the color configuration that I wanted and in my size. Now, I was on a mission.
Inside the store I found the display. Sorting through the jacket I found my size. When I put it on, there was something very familiar about it. That’s what comfortable is all about.
I checked every zipper, every pocket, every vent and read the tags multiple times. Next, I found a full length mirror. Yeah, I looked hot.
Then, Yvonne noticed that a sale was coming in a week. Our brains began to work in overtime. We looked at the salesman, “Yes, if you bring the receipt back next week we will make an adjustment. Now, the price was right on a very right jacket.
photo credit: ijango image
Trying to do what the computer geeks were challenging us to do seemed cool, hip, avant guard and chic. Whatever. But, it made so much sense.
Of course little glitches in the transition were annoying. Often I would forget where I filed an important document. The search option failed to resurrect a past brainstorming session that I distinctly remembering entering those priceless ideas on my keyboard.
Those were the moments when others thought that I was talking to myself. But, they soon made themselves scarce when they heard my calling my computer names like numskull, total dork, I T loser, etc. Why couldn’t this electronic marvel read my mind and file my materials to be instantly recalled when I had another thought to inject into my cyberspace file?
Well, in the past I have used the excuse that I was right brain. I needed some means to use my free-hand to draw. Charting with my Bible study method template called for angled writing, space adjustments, color coding, freedom to add sketches, doodling and highlighting.
My son introduced me to a new unit. It’s a Wacom Intuos 4. There is a drawing pad that serves as a mouse and scribe. It can draw, sketch, move materials, show depth and shade. The box was delivered to my office today.
I opened the box with great enthusiasm. Each piece I set on my desk. Then, I scanned through the tutorials.
At first I was going to wait for some IT brainiac to set it up for me. But, it looked simple enough. I did notice that the instructions came printed on paper.
Then, I put the installation DVD into my machine. When I closed the player, I smiled when the mechanism began to whir and spin. My screen lit up with the logo of the company that made the drawing pad.
Next there were questions that I answered. The machine whirled some more. More questions popped up on my screen. I liked the progress.
Finally, there was a wonderful announcement that the installation of my drivers was successful. Yippee! I had done it myself.
I played around and learned how to set up the writing pen, mouse and orient my computer to the drawing pad. There’s one more problem. How do I start using this thing? Help!
photo credit: google image