Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The First Bike Ride

Over Memorial weekend I was finally able to get away for a few hours to ride mountain bikes with my boys. Normally I have over 15 rides in by this weekend, but this has been a very busy year. Since I am going to Guatemala in a few weeks, and there will be a lot of climbing involved, I chose to take the boys to the hardest local trail I could think of. Yes, this is the Polish logic in me coming out.

Well, the trail is like this. It is a technical trail with about 1300’ elevation over ten miles long. It is a beautiful singletrack with long climbs, off camber sections, and some fun downhill runs. We were very excited to finally get out together. We joked together that we would ride this trail then ride another trail on the way home.

With the bikes unloaded we began to take to the trail. I knew this was going to be one of those rides the kids and I would be talking about for a long time to come. I had it in my mind that we would really have a good time. Five hundred feet into the trail was the beginning of the reality. “Dad, where are you?” was ringing through the woods. We hadn’t even hit a turn yet before my younger son was screaming this at the top of his lungs. “Shut up, for cryin’ out loud we’re right in front of you” was the reply of my older son. Yep, this was going to be a great ride.

I took the time to explain to both sons that I was not going to ride very fast. I also reminded them that neither one of them asked my permission to be mean to each other and that I wasn’t about to give it anyway. I also reminded them that they were both experienced riders, boy scouts, and anything else I thought might help. That seemed to help… For about five minutes. My older son was letting me know that he really didn’t like mountain biking anymore, and this trail had too many up hills. I told him I would take that up with the management. My anticipation turned into a prayer, “God, please let this be a good ride.”

Okay, now we are finally finding our groove. We are more into the freeriding thing than cross-country, so we are begging for a downhill. The first one hit us. After climbing forever, the trail turned downward. We began the fun and finally had something to cheer about. I was especially happy, as I was sure my lungs were going to explode. The trail continued rolling along for a few miles and we had fun. The complaining turned to laughter, and the fighting turned to encouragement.

Enter mile four. We decided to stop for a break. “I don’t like raisins” was the first thing I heard. “I don’t like nuts” was the second. As a father, you really want to encourage your boys and remind them to be polite. At this moment I realized that I was 100 pounds overweight, my lungs were sure to stretch out, and that the stars out that day were too beautiful to listen to this. Wait, why are there stars anyway? I digress. I told the boys that unfortunately there was no McDonald’s near by, and that this was the only thing on the menu. Being the man and head of the house that I am, I did what any father who wanted to have a good time would do. I begged them to eat this stuff, as I was sure to die out here if I had to carry them. They agreed to eat and I got a chuckle as I watched one eat nuts as the other chewed raisins.

We went to start riding again then I heard my older ask my younger for a drink. “Uh, guys, we have six miles to go, why are you out of water?” “I drank some and I had to wet my hair,” was the reply. Okay, dads, this hair thing, what do you do about it? I want my son to be who he is, but is a big shaggy mess a fighting topic? I wanted to shear him right then, but the water was a much more pressing problem. I knew the trail got tougher from where we stood. I decided hair is not important, but trying to conserve water and survive was. I love my son, so instead of blowing up, I told him not to use any more water on his hair and that we could share. This was also a good time to teach on the topic of nutrition and how important keeping hydrated is.

Well, we were in luck for a while as it was another long rolling section. We attacked the downhills and had tons more fun for the next half hour. We were back to the encouraging and everything when out of nowhere a mountain sprang out of the ground. I am sure I don’t remember climbing anything like that on my previous trips there. Slowly we made the climb. Stopping to sip water was about the only time we spoke. All energy was devoted to climbing.

We continued like this for half an eternity. I began cramping up, and the boys were looking pink. We needed another break. It is amazing that when you are staring death right in the face if you don’t eat something that will give you energy, raisins and nuts are like the best things in life. My boys attacked the foods with all their might. We rested and drank a little water. We realized that we were under attack. A mosquito air force decided to take us on. We took off as fast as possible. Four hundred bites later we were gone.

This was a bad move for “daddy fatty” (a name given to me by my littlest girl). I was convinced that I was in a time warp. Things were moving very slowly around me. I was looking for the medivac. I was talking to trees and asking them for help. It was the end. The boys would have to bury me there. Good thing they were boy scouts. They would know what to do with my body…

As we were walking along… hey wasn’t this a bike ride? As we were walking along, God finally smiled on us. You know the scripture about all things working together for good? Well, at this point in my life, I was sure the devil had planted a mountain here in flat Michigan to kill me. God worked it together for good as He, in His infinite wisdom, knew exactly when I was having enough and dying. For every uphill, God will give us a downhill exactly when we need one. This downhill was one of the funnest I have ridden in a while. No it wasn’t on par with a downhill racecourse, but it was great nonetheless. It flowed well, was very long, and allowed all of us to regain consciousness again. It allowed me to have all of the fun I had missed in the previous months of not riding.

We finally finished riding, and put the bikes into the truck. “Dad, thanks. That was tough, but it was one of the best rides we have ever been on.”

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Prayer, the specialty tool


I had the opportunity to sit down with a
group of men at our church's Men's Ministry. I know many of these
men, so this is a tricky thing to write about. Please understand
that I know these men, and know their hearts, and that this is an
observation of a larger thing than this particular group.

sat and people shared. God is moving in our group. This is always
awesome to hear about. Some men talked about their current
situations and how God is changing them into new men in Him. Then,
it happened... Someone brought up how they were in a situation that
they felt like they were taking on the feelings of a group in a
different part of the world. “What does that mean, and how can I
fix it?” was the question asked. This scene needs to stand on
hold for a minute or two.

ago, I felt like I needed to get to know a person. That person was
struggling. I found this out, and then felt like I could help
minister to them. The opportunity to get to know that person never
came. I went through a similar experience later. Then, I went
through another similar experience. Several more followed.

After a number of times of this, I noticed
something new happening. I noticed the weight of situations
affecting me. I started to see the connection between the weight of
struggle of an issue in another's life and the connection was that I
was to pray into it, not to fix it. I saw that God was trying to
show me that He was developing a burden of intercession in me. God
was trying to get my attention by putting
people on my heart,
but I wasn't getting it. So He had to up the ante. He was trying to
get me to be sensitive to Him. He was trying to develop something in
me. For the longest time, my propensity was not to pray, but to fix
the problem. I would make the connection, but I felt that God wanted
me to act and jump into my “Tim the Bible Toolman“ clothes and
take care of it like a Man!

back to the original story... The men I speak of are men of action.
They are great brothers and great workers in the kingdom. I am glad
to know them and have them as friends. I love these brothers.

Knowing that many church intercessors are
women, and often times men are not the prayers they need to be, I am
just pondering this out. Is it coming that God is trying to raise up
more men to be intercessors? Men are great workers. Knowing what
the Lord has taken me through, I wonder if God is trying to encourage
men to add a new tool to the box. I think about this tool and think
about the fact that it is like that specialty wrench. Often times,
men will grab an adjustable wrench, but in reality, we need to grab a
deep well socket. The adjustable wrench may or may not work, but
grabbing the right tool will make the job so much easier.

wonder if other men are wondering about the connection as I am.