Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Why I'm Not as Spiritual as You

October, that wonderful time of the year when people feel the need to post about how they’ve studied their Bible and come to the conclusion that they shouldn’t celebrate Halloween. I must not be studying my Bible enough or something, because I love Halloween.

While there are thing about Halloween that I don’t think Christians should be involved in, the same can be said of Christmas. In fact, I believe I can make the case for Christmas being the most wicked of all holidays. There are plenty of things to love about Halloween. For one, it happens in fall. Not in winter when the cold air keeps you inside. Not in spring, when everything is covered in mud. Not in summer, when the sun burns you to a crisp. Halloween is at a magical time of the year.

Halloween is the only holiday in which everyone goes and visits their neighbors. Think about that. There are preachers who stand in the pulpit every Sunday and say, “You should visit your neighbors.” Well, on Halloween, they do.

Halloween reminds us that we all die. Some people criticize Halloween because it is a “celebration of death.” I don’t think many people who celebrate Halloween would agree with that. For most people, it is just a time to dress up in silly costumes and eat candy. It’s a time to throw a party. But death is a part of it. Many of the costumes people chose are either of dead people or of bringers of death. Does that mean people are celebrating death? No, quite the opposite. Death is something that people fear. Halloween reminds us of our fear. Sometimes, it is good to remember our fears, so we can learn to overcome them.

Wouldn’t it be funny if we learned that the night Jesus walked on water was Halloween night? Of course, they wouldn’t have called it Halloween then, but it appears that Jesus wanted to scare his disciples and then use their fear to teach them. He knew they would think him a ghost when they saw him. He could have calmed the sea for them, without being near them. He could have walked far enough from their ship that they couldn’t see him. He could have gone by boat. But what he chose to do was scare them a little. It is good for us to experience fear in a situation that won’t cause us harm. Halloween does that for us.

I’m certain that I will persuade no one. My friends who post so much about the evils of Halloween will all think me a heathen. But I can’t help it. I love Halloween.

If your car's so great, why the need to show another vehicle?

Have you ever noticed how many bicycles appear in car commercials? Here is an example:

Of course, car commercials are fiction, often showing us cars doing things that we shouldn’t try doing with a car and would void our warranty if we did. But the goal of many car commercials is to sell this idea that, if you buy this particular car, life will be fun. You won’t have to mess with traffic. You’ll have three friends riding with you. You’ll be able to go places and do things that you couldn’t do without it. The image that sells that idea the most is…a bicycle.

The fact is, the car they show you in the commercials doesn’t exist. I don’t mean because it is loaded with all the options, but because you won’t find a car to give you the feeling of excitement that they promise in the ads. Not in the city anyway. Sure, you can load up your car with a bunch of friends and drive through downtown, but instead of looking at the city lit up at night, you’re busy watching for pedestrians, or for the traffic lights. You reach your destination and you aren’t walking on red carpet but paying the valet or searching for a parking garage that isn’t too far away. And then there’s the everyday use. Mostly, what you are doing is driving between stoplights and waiting, unless you get away from city traffic.

To get around reality, car marketers throw a bicycle or two into the commercial. We all know that bicycles are fun. If you see a car at a stoplight with a bicycle on top, you know the driver is either going to or coming from doing something fun. So what if he’s now just sitting there sucking up the exhaust fumes of the car in front of him? At some point in his life, he did something fun.

It seems to me that instead of buying these little cars, people ought to either drive a truck or buy a bicycle. Buying a bicycle is cheaper, but if you have the money, buy both.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Don't Be Tuckered Out

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. - Galatians 6:9-10

Galatians 6:9-10 is an interesting passage. It is translated as “let us not be weary in well doing,” but I don’t think that’s the way many people read it. Instead, they read it as, “let us not be weary of well doing.” Two little letters can make a world of difference. To be weary of well doing would mean we just don’t want to serve the Lord any more. We would rather go do other things, like go fishing, or attend a ball games, or whatever. But to be weary in well doing means that the well doing is what is wearing us out.

During the past couple of weeks, I’ve experienced that. Our church website has been down and the hosting company couldn’t figure out how to fix the problem. They closed the trouble ticket without fixing the problem, so I decided the best thing to do would be to try a different hosting company. Unfortunately, when I moved the data from one server to the other, some of our pages wouldn’t work. Since then, nearly every free hour I’ve had has been spent fixing the website. Do very much of that and it’ll wear you out. It wasn’t that I was weary of well doing, because I wanted to do what I was doing, but the work will wear you out.

But it seems a little strange when you read Galatians 6:10, because it says, “as we have therefore opportunity, let us do good.” It makes more sense when we realize that the word translated as “opportunity” is the word kairos, which could also be translated as “time.”

Here’s what I think Paul is saying: Stop wearing yourself out serving the Lord. If we’re following God’s leadership, things will get done in due time. So, let’s do what good we have the time to do, with priority being given to helping Christians, and trust that the Lord will take care of those things we don’t have time to do.

For me, this weekend, my plan was to make good use of the rain and stay home Friday and Saturday working on the website. It seemed like a God think, since I would’ve wanted to ride my bicycle, if it had been nice outside. I put in about sixteen hours on Friday working on the website. On Saturday, I worked from about four o’clock until eight o’clock in the morning before deciding to go to the grocery store for my normal shopping run. I would be quick and then go back to work. My plans changed when my truck wouldn’t start. A dead battery. I sent the truck off to get fixed, but then, without another vehicle, I rode my bicycle seventeen miles to pick it up. Though the situation was not of my choosing, it was a very enjoyable ride. Sometimes, the Lord gives you the rest you need, whether you want it or not.

So, unless you want to spend a ton of money on car repairs and doctor bills, don't wear yourself out doing good. Do what you can when you have time to do it, but realize that you can only take on so much. It is okay to say, “no.” We have a responsibility to do what we can, but only what we can. We must also rest.

Friday, October 16, 2015

7 Things You Should Do on a Bicycle in Fort Worth

Partly because I’ve grown bored with riding circles in my neighborhood and partly because I don’t like loading my bicycle into my truck so I can go for a ride, I’ve started looking for places I can go by hopping on bicycle and just going. It got me to thinking, what are some of the things in Fort Worth that it is better to do by bicycle than by car? Of course, there are plenty of things you can do on a bicycle, but many of those things could be more easily done by car. Who, for example, really wants to carry their groceries home with plastic bags hanging from the handlebars? What I’m interested in are those things that might give people reasons to oil the chain on a rusty old bike and air up the cracked rubber tires, because it’s that much better to do it by bike.

Explore the Trinity River

The Trinity River, with its branches and tributaries runs through the heart of Fort Worth. You can’t go from one side of the city to the other without crossing it at least once. You can see it by car, but many drivers cross over it can don’t realize they have. Of course, you can stop at one of the parks or rent a canoe. You can walk or jog along its edge. But if you really want to see all it has to offer, riding a bicycle along the Trinity Trails is your best option. But it isn’t without some risk. My house is four miles from the trail, as the crow flies, but I have to ride more than seven miles to avoid traffic and to deal with railroad tracks and streets that don’t connect.

Visit a Food Park

Once you reach the Trinity Trails, a bunch of opportunities open up. The Clearfork Food Park is located right along the trail. While you could drive your car and park a short distance from where they park the food trucks, why would you? There are plenty of other places you could drive to and eat, but having it right along the trail makes it a much more enjoyable experience if you ride your bicycle. Besides that, you don’t have to feel guilty about eating, since you will have burned a significant number of calories just getting there.

Visit the Stockyards

If you’ve been to the stockyards, you know that most people go by car. There is plenty of parking, if you’re willing to pay for it. But the stockyards is on the Trinity Trails. Quite literally, actually, since the trail runs under Exchange Street. When I went, I didn’t have to look for parking or pay to park. I’m certain that people have a few #baaw (bicycle against a wall) pictures of the Fort Worth Herd and my bicycle. I remember overhearing a woman talking about how tired her feet were. Mine weren’t, because I’d parked much closer to where I wanted to be.

Visit the Water Gardens

I have lived in Fort Worth for eighteen years, but I’ve rarely gone downtown, and though I’d heard about the Water Gardens, it wasn’t until I decided to ride there on a bicycle that I went. It isn’t that I mind the traffic so much as I don’t like parking. First, there’s the question of where you can park and how much you have to pay. I just didn’t care to mess with it. But on a bicycle, that’s not a problem. I followed the Trinity Trail until I reached the downtown area. It is legal to ride bicycles in the bus lanes, so mixing with traffic wasn’t a big problem. And then I was able to park my bicycle at one of the bike racks in front of the convention center, which is just a few yards from the Water Gardens. Much less stressful than parking pickup truck downtown.

Eat Lunch Downtown

Have I said I don’t like finding a place to park downtown? That discourages me from wanting to spend much time there. I remember going to Texas de Brazil with some of my coworkers. We parked at a meter north of the court house and walked to the restaurant, where the guy who drove had to get some more change before going back to his vehicle and feeding the meter. Though traveling by bicycle wasn’t an option for us that day, it would’ve been much more relaxing.

The Water Fall on Farmer’s Branch

A few years ago, people discovered that Fort Worth has a waterfall up near the Joint Reserve Base. The city began to build a trailhead that would allow people to park near it and walk to it, but they haven’t finished it. Some people squeeze past the Bridge Closed signs and walk anyway, but that’s illegal. To follow the Trinity Trail from the other direction is about a two mile walk. That’s not a very far walk, but it’s easier on a bicycle.

Meet the Mayor

While Mayor Betsy Price has made the effort to be accessible in various ways, the way she is known for is her rolling town hall meetings. If your desire is to meet the mayor, I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to do it than to hop on a bicycle and go for a ride. The mayor is an avid cyclist, but these meetings move at a pace most riders can handle.

I doubt that everyone will agree with this list, and for some, the possibility of doing some of these is out of the question because they’ve allowed their fitness to decline to the point that they can’t pedal that far, but there’s something about a bicycle that makes things better. By taking a few side roads and trails, a big city with lots of traffic becomes a much more relaxing place to be.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Why Don't People Ride Bicycles?

I heard on the news this morning that Toyota has the goal of getting out of the gas powered automobile business in favor of electric vehicles. This is hardly earth shattering, since the date they have set is 2050. But they have a desire to reduce emissions of their vehicles. That is an admirable goal, but when it comes to reducing emissions, bicycles are the gold standard. To put it in terms of miles per gallon of gas, a bicycle has a mileage rate of about 1150 MPG. And if we were to put it in terms of money, people who get rid of their cars and travel primarily by bicycle save about $10,000 per year. So, why don’t more people ride bicycles?


As a person who loves to ride a bicycle, but has only ridden to work one time on a bicycle, I can say that one reason is the time required. It takes about thirty minutes for me to drive the fifteen miles to work. It would require about three times as much time for me to travel by bicycle. To reach work at my normal time, I would have to leave home an hour earlier. But on the other hand, it is less than two miles from my house to church and it is conceivable that I could reach church more quickly on my bicycle than by automobile.


Safety is a significant concern for bicyclists. Even though bicyclists have all the same rights and responsibilities of other vehicles on the roadways, a crash involving one of those big metal cages and a bicycle may result in a few scratches to the metal cage, but it may kill the bicyclist. Bicyclists who obey the traffic laws are much less likely to be injured than those who ride against traffic or fail to observe stop signs, but people who don’t feel safe on a bicycle will not ride a bicycle. This is why bicycling increases as cities add protected lanes and trails.

Lack of Physical Fitness

Some people say they are too old to ride a bicycle, but when you consider that there are people who are over 100 years old and still racing on bicycles, it isn’t age that is the problem. The real problem is that people are not physically able to ride a bicycle. In many cases, people don’t want to be physically able to ride a bicycle. Of course, if they would start riding, they would regain the physical ability to ride.

Lack of Skill

“It’s as easy as riding a bicycle.” And, “you never forget how to ride a bicycle.” I’m not sure anyone has put that to the test. There is some skill involved in riding a bicycle and depending on what kind of riding you are doing, there could a lot of skill involved. In some cities, public schools are teaching second graders to ride. Why second grade? In part because they are young enough that they won’t feel embarrassed about not already knowing how to ride. I suspect that some adults aren’t willing to try riding because they don’t want to admit their lack of skill.

Inability to Get From A to B

Tools like Google Maps, which will provide directions for bicyclists are a big help, but going somewhere on a bicycle isn’t as easy as going by car…or is it? From where I live in south Fort Worth, if I wanted to visit one of the local attractions, such as the stockyards, I could hop in a car, head that general direction of the freeway and I would find a sign directing me which exit to take to reach the stockyards. Even for minor attractions, I can pretty much follow the major roads and get to where I’m going. Things are different on a bicycle. For one thing, I want to avoid the major roads, so all those signs pointing me to the major roads do me no good. Minor roads aren’t connected. You can follow one that seems like it is going in the right direction, but then it will deadend at a railroad track, a freeway, or a river. In Fort Worth, we have trails that run along much of the river, so that is an advantage for bicycles. Once I get to that trail, I can reach the stockyards without messing with traffic. It would seem like a rural area, were it not for the skyscrapers that are visible above the trees. But you have to know which path to take. There are a few signs, but there are also paths that are unmarked.


Why you drive a car, you lock the doors and take the key with you, knowing that it will take some effort for someone to steal your vehicle. With a bicycle, security requires more effort. You have to find an immovable object. Sometimes, you’ll find a bike rack and more cities are requiring businesses to provide bike racks, but you also have to have special equipment to lock the bike to it. Of course you have to carry this equipment with you and the lighter it is the easier it is to cut with bolt cutters or wire cutters. But on the bright side, you can usually park your bicycle a few feet from where you are going.


This may fit with some of the others, but distance from point A to point B can be a major deterrent. Cities with less space between businesses and residences see higher number of cyclists. In cities where land is cheap and parking lots are plentiful, people are less likely to opt for riding a bicycle.

I don’t know if these are the only reasons people don’t ride bicycles, but cities that have removed some removed some of these barriers have seen an increase in the number of people riding bicycles. Bicycles will never be the dominant form of transportation, but life is much more enjoyable in places where people want to ride bicycles.