Posts tagged ‘travel’

How Far Will You Go?

When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.   Matthew 2:10-11

I was obsessed with the Indianapolis 500 race as a kid growing up in Indiana. I wanted to go to the race in the worst way, but my family did not have the means to purchase tickets. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when a friend gave me a ticket to the race when I was in high school. The race had been stopped due to rain after a few laps and postponed to the next day. So I was able to see my first Indy 500, though it wasn’t with the excitement that comes with the initial start of the race.

It wasn’t until I was at Bethesda Naval Hospital as an OBGYN resident that I finally was able to purchase my own tickets. I had been on a waiting list for more than 10 years when I received a letter from the Indy 500 ticket office giving me the option to purchase two tickets. Without a second thought I bought the tickets and made the trip from Bethesda, Maryland to Indianapolis. To my great disappointment, the race was rained out for two days and then rescheduled to the next weekend. And so I drove home to Maryland only to rearrange my schedule so I would be able to go back to Indianapolis. And so I drove back to Indianapolis for the second consecutive weekend and witnessed my first race in person from beginning to end. 

You might say I worshipped the Indy 500. But my travels to Indianapolis over the years are nothing compared to the obsession the wise men in the Christmas story had to see and worship Jesus. They had studied the signs of His coming for years. They knew the approximate time Jesus would arrive based on Daniel’s prophecy in chapter 9. But just like I had to wait for a letter from the Indy 500 ticket office to know when to go to Indianapolis, the wise men relied on a personal message from God to make the trip to Bethlehem. Their message was in the form of a star that they diligently followed. And just like I wanted to see the beginning of the race, the wise men wanted to see the beginning of the story of salvation. I can only imagine their excitement and anticipation as they made that road trip. It was perhaps the most exciting road trip filled with promise in the history of road trips.

The picture of three wise men who had traveled for miles enduring poor weather, unknown trials, and the enormous personal expense just to see the baby Jesus is one that models what worship is all about. Matthew tells us that they immediately bowed down to Jesus when they came into His presence giving Him gifts arising from love and adoration.

When I think about this picture of worship, I am called into account about how I worship Jesus today. They went to see Jesus when He was a baby. He could not do anything for them. They were not asking anything of Him. They were not seeking blessing or personal gain. In fact, they had already given Him years of their life in study and anticipation of giving Him the gifts of their toil. They had worshipped Him for years before He was even born because they had faith in His love and power to save this planet from self-destruction. Their worship was grounded in love and total submission to Him, not in expectation of receiving anything more than they had already received. They were not concerned about the time it took to travel, or the perils they faced along the way. Everything paled in comparison to being in the presence of Jesus. They simply wanted to witness the power of heaven embodied in human form as a baby. And on their return home, they would avoid King Herod who would have given them gifts and temporal honor in order to protect the One they loved above all else. 

Jesus came from the splendor of heaven to lay in a dirty, smelly manger so that we could have life, and have it abundantly. How far will you go to worship Jesus today? Will you rearrange your schedule to make time for Him? Will you give Him your best gifts?  Do you love Him unconditionally as He loves you? 

 

God’s Itinerary

Then Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel, their confidence.  Jeremiah 48:13

It was time to fly home yesterday after a lovely visit in Loma Linda with Eric and Lindsay, my son and daughter-in-law. Though I loved my time in California with family, I was ready to go home on a 3:30pm flight through Portland that would land in Pasco, Washington at 8:30pm. This gave me plenty of time to read, contemplate, blog, and find a restaurant that would serve healthy food before the departure time. All of those things happened before I found myself standing in front of the airport reader board to find the gate for my 3:30pm flight. I found Portland on the board, which was listed twice. But neither flight to Portland left at 3:30pm. I checked the flight number on my boarding pass which had been loaded onto my phone the night before when I checked in. I confirmed the flight number, but what I read on the reader board gave me pause. Flight 585 to Portland had left on time… at 1:30pm. I looked at my boarding pass again, and there was the departure time in plain English, 1:30pm. How had I missed it? How could I have mistaken the arrival time in Portland for the departure time in California?

In order to get home in time for Pam to work today, I had to purchase two tickets to Portland, rent a car at the Portland airport, and drive home. We arrived home at 1:38am. What should have been a leisurely trip home became an exhausting trip because I did not recheck the departure time. I was so certain of the departure time that I gave no thought to even look at the printed itinerary in my briefcase or the boarding passes on my phone. After all, I “knew” when the flight departed. 

In Jeremiah 48:13, God is giving a message about Moab to Jeremiah. The Moabites, like the Israelites on their exodus from Egypt, had constructed idols with their own hands and would find themselves ashamed of those idols when those very idols fail them. We construct idols with our own hands and from our own understanding today. We do this every time we are sure of our abilities and understanding to make choices in life without consulting God. But living like that is the same as showing up to the airport late for a flight because you “know” when it departs.

The fact remains that we need to check with God. Idols we construct are worthless and bring heartache and shame in the end. Today, some of our most revered idols are material things (made with our own hands) and knowledge (made with our own minds). Yesterday was a reminder to me that I need check with God before I travel on life’s pathway just as I need to check the printed itinerary before I travel by air to any destination.

When you accept the gift of salvation, your boarding pass for the heavenly destination is printed out and sent to your heart phone. Consult the itinerary before you leave your house each day. I would have saved myself $900.00 of savings, 5 hours of time, and loads of frustration. But that is nothing to the savings we will gain when we consult God’s itinerary for our lives each day.

Have you checked your heavenly app on your heart phone today? Do you know what time God’s flight is departing for your adventure with Him? Are you making choices with your own hands and your own mind, or will you seek God’s hands and mind as you travel through life?

Where Do You Draw the Line?

Pam and I were in Valencia, Spain visiting our daughter, Kelsey, where she was attending college. After two days in Valencia, we headed to the train station for a trip to Barcelona where Kelsey would meet up with us when her Spring Break would begin. Kelsey gave us detailed instructions on how to get to the train station and what train to take. So we bought our tickets and proceeded to the boarding platform. But we had a problem: there were 3 separate train tracks with 3 platforms and no one to translate for us. So there we were not knowing which train to take. There was only one train that went all the way to Barcelona and we missed it.

In Craig Groeschel’s book, “The Christian Atheist: When You Believe in God But Live as If He Doesn’t Exist”, he describes 3 lines in the Christian walk. The first line we cross is when we accept God’s gift of salvation. We experience the peace that comes with accepting Jesus into our lives. We experience euphoria and excitement that generally subsides as everyday life takes over. The next line we can cross is one in which we choose to commit to God to the extent that it is comfortable. With this 2nd line, we respond to God’s call in our lives as long as it doesn’t interfere with our own priorities. And then there’s the 3rd line. This is the line we cross when we commit who we are, what we have, and where we’ll go to Him.

With the 1st line, I buy a ticket to heaven. I am saved and thrilled to be in God’s kingdom on earth. The Bible calls this ticket “justification” that is the work of a moment by God’s grace. This is a free ticket that I accept day by day. But I’m still on this earth. God invites me to enjoy the ride and cross the 3rd line of total commitment. This is a ticket to the unknown adventure God has for me. I already have the ticket to heaven, but how will I live on this earth? The question that begs to be answered is, Where do you draw the line?

Just like my experience on the train platform in Valencia, I too often get confused with what train to take. I become complacent and lose focus on God while waiting for the train. I then take the train of my choosing rather than His train that I will only take when I cross the 3rd line of total commitment to His will and His calling in my life. We have our own reasons why we are reluctant to cross that 3rd line. It may be a cherished sin, anxiety about money, issues with the church, or just plain worry. What issue prevents you from crossing that 3rd line? I believe this is such an important issue that I have dedicated an entire sermon series to examine the various reasons we become Christian Atheists. You can hear the sermons on our website, http://www.myrichlandchurch.org

May you experience God’s adventure for your life that only comes when you cross the 3rd line…

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Day 47 to Berea, KY – The Small Things

The small things in life often make the biggest differences. Yesterday I had a bad ride for several reasons. Today I had a great ride because of some small adjustments. Of course these small adjustments would not have been possible if I had not taken a small amount of time to consider why my ride yesterday was so bad. The first small thing I did was to adjust my attitude. I took a small amount of time with God this morning and read a daily devotional I receive by email from the Blackaby Ministries. This small devotional had a big impact. I realized that I may have a small part to play in God’s plan for this world, but it’s a part that needs to be played. And it’s a part that fits into the whole. With this in mind, my attitude was ready to begin a 60 mile ride that I would not allow myself to take for granted as a “small” ride because when you pay attention to the small things they have big results. Every ride is a big ride!

I then took a small amount of time to make two very small adjustments in my bike. I raised the saddle height by a half inch and lowered the aero bars by a half inch. This made a big difference in how I felt on the bike. Compared to yesterday, I felt at ease and at home on the bike today. The small things really do matter. And then there’s a matter of a small thing in Kansas that had big results today. If you remember from a previous blog, I stopped to talk with two cyclists coming from the east on a day I had begun riding late and felt rushed. But they were very friendly and wanted to talk. I talked with them for over 30 minutes which seemed like a big sacrifice, but 30 minutes really is a small amount of time. They told me about a shortcut through Illinois which I took at the beginning of this week that has allowed me to take an entire day off my ride. I am spending that day in Louisville to get my bike fixed and visit with family. Another small thing (30 minutes) giving a big result. 

As I rode into Berea today I was greeted by a marvelous, quaint college town. It was such a surprise that Pam and I took a small amount of time, grabbed a small bite to eat, and enjoyed a big dose of joy. I am done riding for the week and it’s only Thursday. So this is what a sabbatical can be like – rest and relaxation!

Ride Stats:  Total Miles- 60.4 miles     Elevation Gain- 3,481      Avg Speed- 13 mph     Avg HR- 119

 

 

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