Our brothers and sisters in the faith from far and wide joined us last month to celebrate the life of Helen Mudry’s sister – Nancy Dzick. She and her husband Arnie rode incredible miles together, often on their tandem bicycle so I rode ours here to display at the service. Tandems don’t ride well without a “stoker” (the rider in back) and tandems are hard to transport so ours sat here for a few weeks occupying most of the space in my church office. I think my reluctance to ride it home ran deeper than transport challenges but last week Agathe and I had work at the church and I finally loaded my riding gear in the car and threw a leg over the tandem to ride it home alone.
I was strapping on my helmet and getting ready to roll out when I noticed an attractive runner passing by the church. Now, as Nancy’s service was concluding and people were heading to fellowship at the luncheon someone said to me, “You have a beautiful church here but it isn’t easy to find because…”
“It’s okay,” I laughed at their awkward hesitation, “you can say, ‘because it is in the middle of nowhere’ because WE ARE!” The person seemed a tad embarrassed to have me finish her sentence but we don’t take offense – it is what it is – we ARE kind of “out in the middle of nowhere” which means if you are a runner and are passing our church you are seriously fit or off your rocker!
So, I swivel the tandem to point down the road, clip in the pedals and shove off going a fair distance until I find myself on a parallel course with the pretty female runner.
Now if you spend any time out on the open road, running, riding, or walking you get accustomed to hearing all kinds of “wisdom” from passersby. I could have retired comfortably YEARS ago if I got a dollar every time someone yelled at dad and me riding tandem, “HEY THE GUY IN BACK ISN’T PEDALING!” therefore the lady runner cast a nervous glance to see me pacing her along Coats Grove Road wondering what a fellow athlete may “suggest”. I just grinned and accelerated enough for her to see I was on a tandem and then pointed to the vacant “back seat” wordlessly inviting participation in our VASTLY superior sport of cycling.
For a millisecond I could tell the invitation to get a “ride” home from the middle of nowhere was being joyously contemplated but then she threw her head back laughing happily and declared, “YEAH RIGHT!”
I just cocked my head, shrugged my shoulders as if to say, “Oh well, I tried,” and headed home but a few minutes later I started laughing wondering what if she had taken me up on the offer? The laughable problem here for me was the fact I had removed the stoker’s pedals because they act as cumbersome counterweights flopping around awkwardly behind so it is best to remove them and while I made my ride offer, the critical components were being whisked homeward by Agathe. How troubling it would have been to possibly hear, “Oh thank you! You are a God-send, I am out of water, exhausted, my feet are blistering, and I was not sure if I was going to make it home!” and then have to deny transport for being absent of the necessary footholds!
Whew! I dodged a bullet there!
What if you passed someone on an obvious spiritual journey? Would you be confident enough to offer them a “ride” in our Christian Faith or would you hesitate wondering if you were fully equipped to answer their inevitable questions? Would you stop your pilgrim’s progress certain to gain a travel companion or would you hurry along on the other side of the road and silently say a prayer for the intervention of God’s Holy Spirit – exhaling, “Whew, I dodged a bullet there! They are in God’s hands! Thank you John Calvin!”
I believe one of the reasons we (Christian Church Universal) are so weak in evangelism is we can’t accurately convey what it is we actually believe! And even if we are certain of our salvation we lose our balance when it comes to telling the uninitiated exactly how we enjoy this truth. We may be able to ride a bike but our “tandem” is missing some critical parts if anyone wants to ride with us!
Most of us have heard of the “Roman Road” – a collection of verses compiled from Paul’s arch stone of theology which can take the seeker logically through the nuts and bolts of building a necessary and beautiful saving relationship with God. Here is a link if you need a refresher: https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2016/09/evangelism-the-romans-road-to-salvation/
Today as many of my fellow riders are taking to the safer dirt roads – I want us to travel what I am calling the “Titus Trail” (also mapped by Paul) to gain in knowledge and thereby help us exercise the truth of our faith when the occasion arises:
For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. Titus 2:11-14
Let’s ride the “Titus Trail” together!!
For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 2:11
God humbly entered this world as Jesus the Christ – God incarnate – experiencing HUMAN life just as we do with all the emotion and challenges involved with it. He was surprised, sad, hungry, angry, frustrated and yet lived a sinless life. Jesus lived, taught, healed, died, and was raised from the dead to sit at God’s right hand reconciling those who believe and profess into the pure holiness of the Father for eternity!
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29
For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 1 Peter 1:18-19
We should be able to share this Good News!!
And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God… Titus 2:12
The road to heaven is described as the “straight and narrow” but we need to exit the old road we were on to ride it!!
We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. Romans 6:6-8
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17
And this truth we should proclaim JOYOUSLY and LIVE LIKE IT… … while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. Titus 2:13
I have said it before – the revelation of Jesus Christ upon our meeting will put everyone on their knees. The believer will kneel in humble adoration and the unbeliever in humbled desolation. We should be equipped to invite everyone to ride with us!! We will either meet Christ upon his return or upon our passing – either way – we meet him!
He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. Titus 2:14
Free from sin, no longer in its stranglehold, made new, adopted into God’s family via repentance and faith in Christ to move forward re-birthed by grace, mercy and the Holy Spirit and committed to the good work of the Kingdom!
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15
This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. Colossians 1:21-23a
“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:13-16
A few years ago two Mormon Missionaries came to my door while I was out in my shed turning wrench on bikes. It was a miserable wet snowy day and I called out to them, so they wandered over from the house and asked if I had a minute to hear some good news. I was dressed warmly and in the mouth of my secure dry shed so I agreed to hear them as they stood outside. They had their approach down pretty cold (although they did need correction on the finer points) as they spoke shivering in the wet sleet.
Finally I asked them, “Are we saved by the cleansing blood of Christ, repentance, faith in him, grace and the renewing of the Holy Spirit?”
They agreed we are. (these young men were really pretty cool guys – truly)
“So what does Joseph Smith have to offer me – and you – beyond that?” I inquired.
They pondered shivering now, soaked and cold… “Well… …” they paused as long as our sister who didn’t want to tell me our church was in the middle of nowhere, “can we just leave you with some stuff to read? We need to get going!”
“No,” I grinned shaking my head, “I’m good.”
Well it doesn’t end there… Later that Spring Agathe and I were sitting down to dinner and it was pretty late when suddenly there was a knocking at the door. It was my Mormon Missionary friends…and they had BICYCLES…and they didn’t mince words!
“Hey,” they demanded, “we KNOW you work on bicycles and were wondering if you could help us tune these up!”
I busted out laughing, “NOT A PROBLEM! Come back tomorrow and we’ll go through them.”
Here’s the deal – if you are a CHRISTIAN and have your “I am commissioned antennae” up at all you will come across people seeking to learn about your faith. Have your ride prepared, your toolbox filled, and KNOW WHAT YOU TRULY BELIEVE! And ALWAYS be ready to give anyone exercising their soul on a quest to find God…a ride home from the middle of their nowhere!