Bike for Bibles, Encouragement From The Word

Keeping Promises

            I like to be known as someone who keeps his promises.  Back in July, I made a promise.

 

            At the end of the Bike For Bibles Ontario Ride, I told our gathered throng of riders, roadies and supporters that if they raised $17,500 by the end of August, I would cut off the considerable handlebars that had grown on my moustache over the past year, and send a commemorative photo to every rider.

 

            I decided to practise a little grace, and stretched the rules so that I could include in that total any amounts that I knew were coming, but had yet to come in.  And with that in mind, our riders have risen to the challenge and have raised more than the goal set out.  Congratulations, riders!

 

            The Ontario Bike For Bibles ride raised funds for the provision of Bibles to new immigrants, and specifically students of English as a second language in church-based programs, under the title, “The Word of Welcome”.  Thanks to our riders, roadies, and supporters – including all our donors – these folks who are new to Canada, and new to an understanding of God’s love, will receive their own copy of the life-giving Word of God. 

 

            That, to me, is worth the loss of a few inches of facial hair.  Here are the before and after pictures (courtesy of my wife):

 

 

           

A promise about a moustache isn’t much of a promise, I know.  But if I hadn’t kept it, how trustworthy would I have been to keep a promise of some importance?

 

            Little things matter.  Jesus told the story of ten servants, each of whom was given a sum to invest for him while their master was away.  To the first servant, who brought back ten times as much as he had been given, the master said, “‘Well done!’… ‘You are a trustworthy servant.  You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward’” (Luke 19.17, NLT).  Jesus wasn’t talking about rewards here as much as he was talking about the importance of being faithful, and keeping our word – as a means of honouring God.

 

            We’ve all met someone who has been less-than-faithful in keeping promises.  God is not like that!  God, by his very nature, keeps his promises.  Contrary to popular belief, there are a few things God cannot do.  One of them is lie.  Because if God were to lie, he would cease to be God.

 

            I’m grateful to those who are making gifts toward our Bike For Bibles cause (which you can still do at www.bikeforbibles.ca).  And I’m grateful that God always keeps his promises – promises that mean much more than a moustache!

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Biblical Messages, Bike for Bibles

Bike for Bibles Ontario Ride, Part 8 (Day 7) – the final installment

Today was the shortest day of the ride – the last day.  We were fed a hearty breakfast at Knox Presbyterian Church, Bobcaygeon, where we had spent a pleasant evening.  It was raining lightly when we got up, and heavier at breakfast – but we pulled out of the church lot only ten minutes after we had planned to, and it was dry for nearly the whole trip.  What little rain we did get was inconsequential to the riders.  Once we got to St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Lindsay, it was raining quite hard.  God has served both us and the farmers well:  the needed rain came, but not when it would affect our ride!

Our trip to Lindsay mostly replicated our trip from Millbrook via Peterborough yesterday.  We gathered quickly at Weldon Secondary School in the east end of Lindsay, and received a police escort most of the way to the church.  A large crowd had gathered to cheer us on as we arrived.  The riders and roadies sang during the worship gathering, including Getty and Townend’s “In Christ Alone”, as well as a song written by our two lead roadies that told the story of the ride from the roadies’ perspective.  The service was led by The Rev. Linda Park, Pastor of St. Andrew’s, and I gave the message, which you can listen to here.  It’s based on Philippians 3 and is entitled “Spinning Your Wheels”.

After worship and a hearty lunch, where everyone was recognized for his and her participation, the leaders of the ride were also recognized – Ton van Nieuwkerk, John Snider, Steve Elliott and George Skerratt.  Without these four guys, the ride could never have happened.  Then, folks departed for home.

We rode to provide funds for the partnership that the Canadian Bible Society is creating with church-based English as a second language ministries, to reach people new to Canada with the Word of God.  If you would like to contribute, please visit www.bikeforbibles.ca and donate to the Ontario Ride.  If we reach $17,500 by the end of August, I will cut the curls off my moustache.  If we reach $19,000, I have assurances that George and John will shave off their moustaches!  Now you have double the incentive to give!

Thanks to all who prayed for the riders and roadies.  It was a safe ride, and free from dangerous weather.  We received warm hospitality and created some very strong bonds in Christ.  God is so good!

Bike for Bibles

Bike for Bibles Ontario Ride, Part 7 (Day 6)

After “hilly” day 5, today seemed like a cakewalk for most of our riders.  Much of the terrain was relatively flat, or at least not dreadfully hilly.  We began after everyone had had a great sleep and breakfast at billets’ homes in Millbrook, and headed northeast toward Peterborough.  It was very hot and humid, but the weather co-operated with us once again.

 

At Peterborough, we took our morning break at the Lift Lock – the largest hydraulic lock in the world – where we timed our arrival perfectly to see the lock in action.  From there, we followed the Ottonabee River north past Trent University to Lakefield, where the Baptist Church hosted us, fed us, and prayed for us.  From Lakefield, we took very much the “scenic route” to Bobcaygeon via Emily Provincial Park, where the Reaboro-Omemee Baptist Church surprised us with an afternoon snack of ice cream and home baking.

 

We arrived in Bobcaygeon, albeit late, to a warm welcome.  Showers were taken, supper was shared, and the pastors of Knox Presbyterian Church, Paul and Carey Jo Johnston, along with one of their musical groups, led us in praise.  This capped off a long day with much joy.

 

Tomorrow morning, we will travel a slightly more direct route to Lindsay, where we’ll worship with the congregation of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church there (at 11:00), and conclude with a celebratory barbecue before heading home.

 

I can’t beat around the bush:  this has been a draining week.  But the cause for which we have been drained has been worth it.  God has blessed us with the opportunity to see so much beauty in creation, and to see it at a pace that might not normally happen during a typical trip.

 

I will post more tomorrow after all is said and done.  Thank you once again for your prayers and support for this project (www.bikeforbibles.ca).

Bike for Bibles

Bike for Bibles Ontario Ride, Part 6 (Day 5)

Today was the most arduous day of the ride.  We knew this coming in:  the organizers I worked with probably wrestled over the route for today more than any other on the whole journey.  From Stirling to Millbrook, we had to traverse the Oak Ridges Moraine, among other topographical phenomena, and the hills were steep and numerous – really numerous.  Our riders were ready, however, and they met the task well.  I had more company in the “sag wagon” (the vehicle with the bike trailer at the back of the pack) than usual, but with the heat, humidity, and hills, some riders just needed a break.  (One of our young riders managed to sleep at some length on the floor of my van, which is testimony to how tired he really was!)

A Roman Catholic youth group hosted us in the canal-side park in Campbellford.  This was a helpful break for the riders, and a chance to learn that the design of the original Toonie (Canada’s two-dollar coin) was created by someone from Campbellford.

We visited Roseneath United Church for lunch, and were blessed with their hospitality – they even had balloons out for us!  Shortly after lunch, we took some colourable Scripture selections and stories to the Child Care Centre at the Alderville First Nation.  The children sang a song with us, and we had a good laugh together.  These two stops were a welcome break from the hills!

Other than the loss of a cell phone at the Bewdley waterfront (on the west shore of Rice Lake) on our afternoon break, the day was uneventful.  I was struck, however, at the use of the spiritual gift of encouragement among our riders.  From the back of the pack, I saw stronger riders come back to help the slower ones by riding alongside them, pushing their backs so that they can get that extra little burst of energy.  It was truly moving.  (See the fuzzy cell phone photo above.)

We are being billeted tonight; several families from the churches of the town of Millbrook are hosting us.  It began with a pot luck supper at Millbrook Christian Assembly, the local Pentecostal Church.  (As a Calvinist, the only kind of ‘luck’ in which I believe is ‘pot luck’, and these folks made sure I remain a believer!)  One particularly hospitable family opened up part of their fence so that our motor home could be parked on the back lawn!  And thanks to another neighbour who chooses not to secure his or her router, I am able to blog tonight before bedding down.

The gifts of encouragement and hospitality have been evident in huge ways this week.  God has been, and is, so good.

Tomorrow, we head for Bobcaygeon, via the Peterborough Lift Lock and Lakefield.  We look forward to a somewhat ‘flatter’ day!

Bike for Bibles

Bike for Bibles Ontario Ride, Part 5 (Day 4)

Today, our riders and roadies left Kingston for the town of Stirling, north of Belleville, via such places as Napanee, Deseronto, and Foxboro.  Once again, we saw some great scenery, part of God’s magnificent creation.  As has happened on many days before, in every town we pass through, people would stop and smile and wave as the “parade” passed by.  It’s been a real blessing to watch folks as we go along the route.

 

The highlight of our day was our lunch break at Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal of the Mohawks on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, outside Deseronto.  This Anglican parish is one of the oldest in Canada, dating back to the time just after the American Revolution, when Mohawk people, who were loyalists, came across Lake Ontario and settled in Upper Canada.  Historically, Mohawks have been particularly loyal to the Crown, and so churches such as this one and the one at the Six Nations in Brantford have been named Chapels Royal.

 

The hospitality we received from the Priest and people of the congregation was top-notch.  We got several good history lessons in the process, learning about gifts given by British royalty – such as communion ware still used today! – and how Christian liturgy and some traditional Native worship practices converge.

 

At the end of the presentation, I asked the Rector, The Rev. Brad Smith, whether there was a particular Christian song often associated with the Anglican worship of the Mohawks.  He said that there were no peculiar hymns, but that each year, when they give thanks in commemoration of the landing of the Mohawks in Upper Canada, they annually sing The Battle Hymn of the Republic.  I offered to play it for those who wished to sing along, in solidarity with the Mohawk people.  We raised the roof off the more than century-old church building as we celebrated the glory of God and the reconciliation of God with us, and of white Canadians with First Nations.

 

The day was a very hot one, and sticky.  We arrived in Stirling very grateful for the gift of a shower!  Each rider and roadie was taken to the home of a member of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, who offered us this gift with kindness and humility – along with a great supper!

 

Once again, the Lord has blessed us mightily.  Thank you for your prayers.

Bike for Bibles

Bike for Bibles Ontario Ride, Part 4 (Day 3)

Today – Wednesday – was another great day for B4B.  We were set to leave the Free Methodist Church in Picton at 0800, when a thunderstorm rolled in.  We checked the Environment Canada Website, and our expert leader believed that the storm would pass quickly.  So, we waited for about an hour, and departed Picton on wet roads but with no precipitation.

We toured Prince Edward County’s east side, seeing many vineyards, farms, orchards, and historic church buildings as we travelled.  Our morning break was at the Black River Cheese Company, a neat little place that sold great cheese and great ice cream (though I was good and indulged in neither – too early in the day!).  From there we toured the County until we stopped for lunch at Lake on the Mountain Park.  This is a phenomenon not to be missed; a lake, seemingly without anything feeding it, sits on a hill quite a distance above Lake Ontario.  Here, we had an impromptu visit from a reporter from the local newspaper.

After lunch, we descended the hill to the Glenora Ferry, operated by the Ministry of Transportation as part of Highway 33, the Loyalist Parkway.  From the Ferry, we stopped at the historic Hay Bay Church, which was settled in 1792 as a Methodist mission for the United Empire Loyalists, who had moved to Canada in sympathy with the British after the American Revolution.  A member of the overseeing Board, now run by the Bay of Quinte Conference of the United Church of Canada, gave us a fine and interesting lecture on the history of the church.  It was an especially enjoyable stop for one of our riders, whose great uncle had been a student minister in that congregation many years ago.  Now, it is used as an historic site, and one service is held each year.

From Hay Bay, we came to Edith Rankin United Church in Collins Bay, on the west side of Kingston.  The church is situated on the shore of Lake Ontario.  We enjoyed our supper, and our evening worship gathering, overlooking the lake.  The Associate Minister of the congregation treated us to a communion service, which was a real blessing for us all.

Tomorrow, we will head back west, stopping at the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, whose Anglican parish has proven to be a great friend of the Canadian Bible Society.

Thank you for your prayers.  Our riders and roadies continue to be strong and healthy and passionate about their ride and our cause.

Bike for Bibles

Bike for Bibles Ontario Ride, Part 3

Day two of Bike for Bibles Ontario has gone great.  We rode from Cobourg to Picton, taking as many lightly travelled routes as possible – though they are hard to find at this time of year!  A few times, we had to travel along Highway 2 or along Highway 33 (the Loyalist Highway), but more often we travelled along county roads that were quieter.

As the group shared during worship tonight, everyone was marvelling at the gift of human senses.  We all remarked on the beauty we saw, of course – quite a lot of the day was spent along Lake Ontario – but many also remarked on what they could smell!  At one point, we were overwhelmed with the smell of strawberries!  As people who lead harried lives, we are blessed this week to be able to go slowly – cycling does have its limits – and enjoy creation, enjoy relationships, enjoy life.

We have some riders who are experiencing some physical struggles, but almost all are continuing to ride anyway.  Please pray for all, that they may experience physical strength and joy in their riding.

We continue to ask for prayers for safety and good weather.  Feel free to respond to the blog with your comments and your prayers, which I can share with our riders and roadies!