Cycling Devotion: It’s Lonely Going Uphill Alone

There must have been 40-50 people on my last ride, all in one group, just cruising along laughing and having a good time; what cycling was meant to be.

This utopian feeling was five or six miles into a 27 mile, Tuesday-night ride, and the ride so far was relatively flat and on big, open roads. But somewhere around the 8 mile mark the road changed and the the group started to thin out. Some were speeding up. Some were falling behind.

I found my self up front for the first half hour or so, sort of keeping up, sort of just barely hanging on. But I was up there none-the-less. However, I was one of the ones starting to fall back as the road gradually started tilting upward.

After a few minutes or so I noticed my nice, friendly, laughing-all-the-way group ride turned into a solo ride up a long, gradual incline. Just like that, I was fighting this annoying climb by myself, hoping they were waiting for me at the end of road, but not really sure if they were. When I needed company the most, it was just me and the road and the thoughts in my head.

And as usual, those thoughts led to a cycling devotional.

In our life, when we are cruising along laughing all the way, friends seem easy to come by. Relationships are a breeze when we seemingly have everything together. But, when the road inclines and things start to get rough, our circle of friends, our radius, tends to thin out. All of a sudden we look around and there is no one there to turn to — no one to hear us when we call out and say we are tired , or scared, or lonely.

How about our walk as a believer in Jesus Christ? Is that any different? Have you found it easier to engage in small groups or with “Christian” friends when life is easier? Do you have the same, or the same number of, friends nearby when life goes to pot?

When climbing that proverbial hill, do you have family and/or friends beside you helping you get up it? I hope you do. And if you don’t, I hope you take this as a wake-up call to start putting some in place.

You see, I do. I have both family and friends who care about me and who have a strong relationship with The Savior, Jesus Christ. I know, in life, if I get caught fighting an uphill battle that I have any number of people who will come along side me and encourage if need be, correct if need be, or just simply listen if that is what is needed.

If you don’t have those people in your life, seek them out. Start by hitting your knees and asking God to bring them into your life. Pray, if you are married, that a strong, believing couple will come along and provide a great sounding board for your marriage. If single, pray that a God-fearing friend in your church or small group or neighborhood will step up and become a running mate for you as you run this race called life.

Some of the people in my life that have the most influence aren’t there by accident, it is because I strategically sought them out. That may sound weird but it is true. I have a friend that asks me at least once a week how my marriage is and what have I done for my wife this week. That kind of friend is indispensable. As a couple, there are other couples that we can go to when we have questions or concerns about raising our kids or money troubles, or if we just need to talk to someone.

My wife and I are blessed because of the people God has put into our lives but we have also been very intentional in making sure we take advantage of them.

Don’t get caught going uphill alone…

Roy Bauer

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Cycling Devotion: Different Levels of Help

Fixing a bike falls under 5 different Scenarios:

1). Sometimes we can fix it ourselves. (a flat tire)
2). Sometimes we have the ability, we just need the resources (flat tire but forgot a tube or air)
3). Sometimes someone we have neither the ability or resources. (a chain breaks)
4). Sometimes we have to go to the local bike shop to get help because it can’t be fixed on the road. The shop owner has better tools and he does that type of repair all day.
5). Sometimes we have to take it to the maker (manufacturer) in which case the local shop owner will walk you through all the headaches to make sure everything is taken care of.

Our Christian walk is a lot like fixing a bike, if we are smart about it.

1). Sometimes we can pray over the situation ourselves and get through it, because we’ve been there before or it is simple enough.
2). Sometimes we have the ability to pray but don’t physically have the resources to fix it, but a friend or family member does.
3). Sometimes we can’t even see how to pray for it nor do we have the ability to fix it but a group of friends or small group or church family does.
4). Sometimes we just need to spend time in counseling with a local pastor or church elder and they can help guide and pray us through it.
5). Sometimes none of these can fix it and we have to spend time prostrate before our maker and allow him to fix us, and a local pastor or church leader will help walk us through this healing process.

Do you have all of these people in your life? If not, you may want to reevaluate your situation and stance on this thing called the “Christian” walk.

We were never meant to walk through life alone. The same God that saw Adam was alone and deemed it not good, created the church body, where every individual is needed in order for it to function properly.

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Cycling Devotion: What’s Wrong With You?

I passed a rider the other day who was on the side of the road with his bike flipped over (I was in my car) and I stopped to see if there was anything I could do to help –turns out he simply had a flat and was just about finished fixing it. My guess is you’ve had a similar situation, either while riding alone or with a group. We have all had the luxury of being stuck on the side of the road, either due to something we did or something someone else did or just simply a nail in the road.

And if I’m not mistaken, the same thing happens each time: a fellow rider or a passer-by, assuming there is one nearby, stops to ask if they can help, and they do it with all sincerity….they actually want to help. Normally, nowhere in the conversation do they start blaming you for being on the side of the road. They also normally don’t question to find out if you caused the flat or if you were reckless and deserved to be there. They just offer to help.

What if, and here is a novel idea, we reacted the same way with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? What if we simply asked how we could help? What if we didn’t ask if they had caused it or if they had brought it on themselves and we just offered to walk through it with them?

You know what, they may be at fault. They may absolutely be reaping what they’ve sown, but so what? Aren’t we allowed to help someone even though it was their own fault. Didn’t God help us, and continue to forgive us, for things that we cause.

We, as believers, can be quick to tear people down instead of building them up. By the time we show up to help we’ve already convicted them of the crime and sentenced them in the court of our own mind.

I don’t know why we are like that but I sure hope I can learn to be better at it. I trust that as I strive to be more Christ-Like that I will at the same time become more compassionate and forgiving and less nosy and holier-than-thou.

Let’s all pray for that before we go to sleep tonight….

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Cycling Devotion: God Doesn’t Guilt Us Into Doing Things, Right?

To make a long story short, I haven’t ridden but twice in the last 8 months. And what is sadder than that is the fact that where we recently moved to is a great place to ride. I can’t go anywhere without seeing someone(s) riding. And undoubtedly, whenever I see someone riding, it reminds me of my own inability to get off my lazy butt and exercise.

And of course that got me to wondering. Was I feeling guilt for not riding or was I missing the feeling and benefits I get from riding? I started remembering the long rides and how great it felt afterwards, like I could eat anything I wanted and not feel bad. I came to the conclusion that I missed the camaraderie of my fellow riders and the joy of sitting on a bike for a couple of hours. I missed sucking down gels like they were M&Ms and drinking water while trying not to lose focus on the wheel 12 inches in front of me. But mainly I just missed doing something that is good for me and that I enjoy.

On the same vibe, God doesn’t guilt us into doing things either. He did not give us the Bible in order for us to be guilted into serving Him or doing the right things. Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

I’ll have to admit it took me sometime (years) to figure out what I believe it means. What it means is that God does not show us things in our life that are wrong so that we will feel bad and change. He shows us things that are blocking our ability to see Him and His will for our lives. And once we see what those things are, we have the awesome opportunity to fix them or remove them. And once we do, we are that much closer to Him and to what we were created to be. There is no guilt involved.

Have you ever been sitting or standing in church, either during the worship time or when the pastor was teaching, and thought of something in your life that needs to be changed? I sure have. And I’ve come to the realization that those thoughts aren’t guilt, they are a chance for me to correct something before it gets out of hand, so that my life grows and my relationship with my Savior grows.

Those quiet times at church, or anywhere for that matter, are an incredible opportunity for us as believers to communicate with God. If we will simply listen to what He is telling us we can learn some cool things that will make this life easier; because as we remove sin from our lives the line of communication between us and God become that much clearer.

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Jeje

The title of this blog will mean about as much to you as it did to me, the first time I saw it. But if you Google it, you’ll realize it is the Spanish version of “hehe” or “lol”.

I have a friend that lives in the mountains of Mexico and he text (or texts) like we do in the U.S., using texting shortcuts. I am in the process of learning Spanish and he isn’t helping at all. Not only do I have to figure out what the Spanish phrases mean (and by the way he doesn’t use periods) but I have to decipher “dtb” and “t” and “jeje” and many others.

But I guess the fact that he feels comfortable enough to communicate naturally, like he would with anyone else, is pretty cool –and for that I am greatly appreciative.

I think sometimes I look at other cultures and countries with so much mystery that I forget that deep down inside they are just like us. The language is different and even some of the everyday struggles are different but we all have a need to communicate as effectively as possible.

God has blessed me with some great Latino friends here in South Carolina as well and I look forward to church on Sunday where I get to spend time not only playing the guitar but worshipping with a culture that is different than mine. I am not just learning to appreciate the differences…I actually enjoy them. It is the differences between them and I that make it the most fun. I laugh at them when they say something ridiculous in English and they laugh at me when I say anything at all in Spanish.

But at the end of the day, it is what’s on the inside that counts. And what’s inside all of us at that little Hispanic Church service is a desire to worship the one, true, God that created all of us and put us on this planet for a reason……no matter what language we speak.

royb

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Cycling Devotion: Climbing Hills

A group of us left from a middle school parking lot for a 55+ mile ride through Dutch Fork, SC. On this particular route, which changes slightly from week to week, we would be doing some small hill climbs but everyone knew that at about the half way point there would be a long climb, one that is fairly difficult.

As I started up this long climb my mind kicked into "hill-climbing" mode, which if you are a casual rider like me and ride where there are a lot of hills you know what that means. It means you find a comfortable gear, try to relax and you just pedal. You don’t focus on the size of the hill or the length because it can be intimidating, you just ride little chunks at a time. You try to make it to the next mailbox, then the next pothole, so forth and so on.

Our life as a believer is the same at times. Sometimes we are going “downhill” and all is easy and life seems great — we are thinking God is great. Other times life sucks and we are stuck going “uphill” for what seems like forever –and we think God, where are you?

During those times of “uphill” climbing, when we can’t see the top of the hill or what’s around the corner, we have to focus on the little things, the little victories. During the times when we don’t understand God’s will for our lives, we have to keep doing the little things that we know fit into His plan (praying, reading His Word, being generous with our money, being kind to our neighbors, etc…) There are things that we can focus on as we climb the “hill”. And when we get to the top, we can look back and be amazed at how far He has brought us, even though the climb itself was hard as crap.

The happiest I think I’ve ever been during a ride was at the end of my first "long" ride. It was a two day, 180 mile ride from Columbia, SC to Charleston, SC. I remember crossing the finish line into that High School parking lot, with all of the people standing there, and thinking I am just glad to be through it, I don’t think I could ever do that again. But the funny thing is, since then, I’ve done much harder rides. I can look back at that first long-ride experience with pride not disdain. Not because I broke any land speed records but because I fought hard to finish and didn’t give in. It was extremely difficult but finishing it gave me the confidence to strive for even harder rides.

What we go through in life can either defeat us or give us the confidence, once we’ve fought through it, to strive for even greater things. Pray and let God help you through the tough times, not because he will make them magically disappear, but because, when it is over, He can show you how to use the experience to better yourself and those around you.

Roy Bauer

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Recent Trip to the Mountains of Veracruz, Mexico

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With a group from Radius Church, I recently went to a part of Mexico that I’ve never been. We flew into Mexico City and drove 4+ hours to Rio Blanco and then an hour or so up the mountain to Atlahuilco, where we stayed each night for the remainder of the week. To say it was green and had many trees and farms would be an understatement. The parts of Mexico that I’ve visited in the past were in the far north and looked nothing like this, they were flat and barren in comparison.

But, from the get-go it started to grow on me and I ended up taking nearly a thousand pictures. And out of those thousand or so I chose four to share with you; these four were some of my favorites –as an aside, the main title picture at the top of the blog is also from that trip. Each one of these four pictures are from a different town in the area –Atlahuilco, Tepepa, Tequila and Xoxocotla.

This particular short-term missions trip was different from any of the others I’ve been a part of. We were there strictly as an evangelism team and from day to day our individual roles changed. Depending on the weather (rain, rain and more rain) and the amount of people in the towns, we may be going door-to-door or playing soccer in the town square for three hours. Each morning we split up into different teams and boarded a bus, knowing only one thing: today we would be sharing the love of Christ with people –where, when and with whom, was the unknown part.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts or my “about’ page then you know I have a heart, or a weakness, for playing the guitar. I take my guitar to every country I go to and pray that God will allow me to find like-hearted people to worship with. I played my guitar on this trip more than I ever have. We woke up playing, played on the bus to the town, played on the bus home from the town and then played again at night. We played for hours every day and it was great. I help lead worship at a Hispanic church in S.C. and I was able to bring back a whole bunch of new songs to play here in the states.

What I brought back from this trip was a sense of fulfillment; like I had been training for something that finally came to fruition. I felt more at home fumbling through Spanish and playing the guitar in the mountains of Mexico then I do at any church here in S.C. For the past year and a half I’ve been learning Spanish worship songs and the Spanish language, and for 8 straight days I was totally immersed in it. And I felt more comfortable then I could have imagined.

I don’t think the comfort I felt was because the churches I attend here are not any good, but it was because God has called me to be a part of a specific type of ministry and this trip allowed me to do what I I’ve been training to do.

Thanks for reading,

Roy Bauer

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Book Review: Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman

Jesus had many fans, but not many true followers. There were thousands that followed Jesus around looking for the next big thing –the next miracle or cool handout. But there were few who truly followed Him for Him and what they could do to worship Him and learn from Him –not get from him.

In his book, Not a fan, Kyle Idleman hits at the core of fanship. He gets to the root of what a true disciple is –and it certainly isn’t merely a fan. From the first chapter, Not a Fan forced me to look at why I do what I do. Am I guilty of just being a fan of Jesus instead of truly seeking after His heart? Like Nicodemus, we are to be willing to leave our comfortable place and go after Him –regardless.

This book was a great read and I recommend it to everyone, even those of you (or especially those of you) that think you have this “Christian” thing figured out. We all need to be challenged to look at our motives and to keep our lives in check. Doing life everyday takes its toll and we can get off track and not even realize it, sometimes until it’s too late. Not a Fan came to me at the perfect time and I looked forward to reading it. I received the book free from Zondervan to read and review and was appreciative that I did. It got me thinking about things in my life that need to be reevaluated and tweaked.

You can buy this book at www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com
Download the first chapter or prologue here from notafan.com

Roy Bauer

From the website www.notafan.com

Are you a follower of Jesus?

Don’t answer too quickly. In fact, you may want to read this book before you answer at all. Consider it a “Define the Relationship” conversation to determine exactly where you stand. You may indeed be a passionate, fully devoted follower of Jesus. Or, you may be just a fan who admires Jesus but isn’t ready to let him cramp your style. Then again, maybe you’re not into Jesus, period.

In any case, don’t take the question—Are you a follower of Jesus?—lightly.

Some people don’t know what they’ve said yes to and other people don’t realize what they’ve said no to, saysPastor Kyle Idleman . But Jesus is ready to clearly define the relationship he wants with his followers.

Not a Fan calls you to consider the demands and rewards of being a true disciple. With frankness sprinkled with humor, Idleman invites you to live the way Jesus lived, love the way he loved, pray the way he prayed, and never give up living for the One who gave his all for you.


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Book Review: Hungry For God by Margaret Feinberg

I invited Lil Mason from Radiuschurch.org to guest blog this week. She graciously accepted and I’ve posted her review of Hungry For God, by Margaret Feinberg.

In Margaret Feinberg’s book Hungry for God, she takes the reader through her personal life experiences, which provide glimpses into some of the ways the Creator speaks to His children. She illustrates that inside every human heart lies the desire for intimacy, companionship, and fulfillment. While some search for these things in worldly pleasures that never truly satisfy our soul cravings, Feinberg provides insight that we are starving for God and only He can fill what is void in our lives.
She tackles the question that so many readers are afraid to ask: How do I hear from God? She confesses that in her own prayer life there are times she feels that her prayers can fall flat. How do we hear the voice of God, and also block out the shouts that come from the world that tell us to go against God’s law? Feinberg answers:

“God invites us to fix our eyes on the Lord. If we want our lives pointed Godward, then our focus must stay on him. God tucks himself into our life experiences and reminds us to look for him in the everyday. Hunger for God compels us to seek the Lord” (77).

She beautifully sprinkles scripture throughout the book to support biblical truths regarding prayer, as well as offer her personal stories that have helped shape her relationship with the living God.

Feinberg assures the reader that God does not always speak on the top of a holy mountain, but rather His presence is often illustrated through bible passages, a person, or even a tugging in your heart. Thus we can experience Him working in our everyday lives.
Hungry for God is a good read for individuals no matter where they are in the Christian faith.

Lil Mason

You can purchase this book at www.amazon.com

I received this book from Zondervan to read and review.
–Roy Bauer


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Book Review Coming: Not a Fan

I am in the process of reading a book called Not a Fan, by Kyle Idleman. Zondervan sent me a copy to review and I’ll be posting it in a couple of days, along with a link to purchase. Check back.

Roy Bauer


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