Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mixed Messages

Guest Post - Mixed messages by John Fischer  
bikesThere is a bar in Laguna Beach, CA that becomes a celebrated biker hangout everySunday afternoon. There is always a live band playing and rows of gleaming Harleys on either side of the street, with people inspecting them as if they were in a showroom.

The riders all leave their helmets out with their bikes, and I've found the helmets to be a study all their own. The most popular look like they are from World War I, with various kinds of rebel markings, and a few have little stickers that serve as a sort of biker bumper sticker. One I saw particularly caught my attention because it said, "JESUS LOVES YOU."

Now I am aware that there are various biker ministries out there where committed followers ride for Christ and seek to spread the word about his grace and forgiveness. I have always loved this - the Gospel in a rebel context - being aware that the message of Christ is in some ways better suited there than it is in more respectable circles. You can't read about Jesus without coming to the conclusion that he would be right at home with the biker crowd.

But as I got closer to the Jesus sticker, I noticed there was another message in much smaller print underneath the more visible "JESUS LOVES YOU." It read: "I think you're a jerk!" (That isn't exactly what it said, but it will work for our purposes.)

At first, I was somewhat repulsed. Where I thought I had a Jesus biker, I actually had a form of sacrilege. But the more I thought about it, I realized there probably was more than a kernel of truth in this version of a familiar Christian message.

I can think of times when I might as well have been sporting a "JESUS LOVES YOU; I think you're a jerk" sticker for all the thoughts I harbored toward the people to whom I was announcing His love. And, of a certainty, He does love them. The question is, do I?

"How can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?" wrote James (2:1), or in the words of John: "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar" (1 John 4:20).

It's not enough just to announce the love of Jesus without loving the same people he loves. If "Jesus loves you" is going to be our message, we need to make sure that we do too. 

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Motorcycles vs Boats

I love boats.  I like big boats and small boats.  Fast boats and slow boats.  I like to ride in boats and I like to drive boats.  I recently had the pleasure of going out on a boat ride with one of my clients, who owns a 19 foot fishing boat.  We went out on the Missouri river and went to the confluence of the Mississippi river, up the Mississippi to Alton, IL then back to the Missouri to St. Charles, MO.  A very pleasurable afternoon.  Afterwards I reflected on the similarities of boating and motorcycling.  They are both fun activities that are best enjoyed in the warm summer weather.  Both allow you to take in the scenery, sights, sounds and smells of nature, in a way that cars and trucks cannot.  But then I realized a major difference between boating and motorcycling that is huge.  The reason that I own a motorcycle and not a boat.  You see, with boats, unless you live on the water (and most people don't), you have to tow your boat to the river, lake, or ocean, and put it in the water, in order to be able to enjoy your ride.  When I went with my friend, we drove for an hour and a half, before we were able to find a spot to launch his boat.  And getting the boat in and out of the water is a lot of work, too!  Backing the boat trailer down a steep ramp into the water.  Releasing it into the water.  Taking the truck and trailer back up the ramp to a parking lot, etc.  Only to repeat the entire process in reverse when you are done.  That's a lot of work!  With a motorcycle, you can simply back your bike out of the garage, start the engine and take off!  No time wasted in travelling to the desired destination first.  In fact, riding to your destination is one of the most enjoyable parts of the journey.  So for me, even though I love boats, I love motorcycles more because of the fact that there are more opportunities to ride a motorcycle, than a boat.  It's no big deal to decide on a moments notice to go out for a spin, even if it's only for a half hour!  So even though I dream of retiring in a place on the water.  It will be a place with a motorcycle in the garage!