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BIKE ENVY
Author: Matthew Allen

A recent issue of an unnamed mountain biking magazine recently made it into my hot little hands. This issue, like every other issue before this one, and most certainly like every forthcoming copy, touts the latest and greatest. The news models, the lightest new carbon rims, the latest trends and standards in the sport. What is Boost anyways? 27.5+? Dropper seatpost?

It sure is fun to scope out the ‘next bike’. We’ve heard the question, “Dude, how many bikes do you need?”. The answer is always: “Just one….just one MORE!”.

Hear me out. I love new bike bling as much as the next guy, and often set aside my hard earned pesos for a hardware upgrade. But as I leafed through and read about all the stuff I am supposed to want, I felt just a bit convicted. Is pining for the latest bike in line with what Scripture tells me?

Paul spoke about contentment in the midst of much more dramatic situations that any of us will ever know:

I Timothy 6:6-8 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into this world, and cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these will be contentment.”

As I look at my garage full of bikes, albeit bikes with some amazing miles on them, I ought to take stock in all I have to be thankful for:

I’m healthy enough to ride a bike. That’s huge!

I’ve got bikes that cost more than the houses that a large percentage of the world’s population live in.

I have all that I need and then some.

My challenge to you this week is to thank God for the bike you’ve got, appreciate it, and ride it hard! Put the bike lust magazine down, and spend some time in the Word or on the trail.

Thanks and God Bless!

Matthew Allen

*Disclaimer: this is not Matt's garage!
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RIDING FOR THE FUN OF IT
Author: Matthew Allen

Here in Southern California, we love our technology and our arsenal of gadgets. We have apps for everything. Garmins for the handlebars, the Apple watch, the ANT+ heart rate monitors, Strava, and ways to collect myriad of data for every mile we ride.

Recently, I’ve noticed that at the conclusion of my weekly night ride, my buddies and I stand around the trailhead, and rather than bask in the afterglow of a good ride with friends, we’re uploading data to the cloud. We dork around with our smart phones, comparing our new segment times.

Now, I love getting my very infrequent KOM (King of the Mountain, for you non-Strava riders), a PR (personal record), or beating my last time as much as the next guy. But I have to ask myself: Do these gadgets, and their ability to measure my performance, enhance or detract from the ride?

Last night, I had the chance to unplug and just ride. Of course, it was unintentional. I forgot to charge my iPhone. I did however, remember to charge my NiteRider. So, I grabbed my low-tech steed (a titanium XC rig), and set out on a dusk ride through the desert. Without concern for beating my last sprint to the summit, I enjoyed a brisk but not brutal pace. The aroma of sagebrush and wildflowers wafted into my nose. The beautiful, if not eerie, lighting of the sun setting behind the mountains made the colors of cactus blooms and goldenrod pop before my eyes. The sounds of the tire tread ripping around corners and flying over rocks was only punctuated by the distant howl of coyotes out for their evening hunt. Every sense was heightened and my only goal was to enjoy the moment. No data to quantify the grateful smile on my face.

So, in the week’s blog, I want to encourage you to unplug for one ride this week. Don’t measure. Just observe. And enjoy. Treasure your friends, thank God for your health, and savor every mile.

Thanks and God Bless!
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BEARING MY CROSS

People ask me: "Why do you ride with bags?"  To be honest, I normally tell them that this is how I have to race so I might as well just train with them.  Then, the other day while I was riding, it hit me.  I ride with these bags because they are my cross.  

Disclaimer: I am in no way saying that riding with a little weight on my bike is in anyway comparable to Jesus carrying his cross.

But, my bags are a reminder that I have been justified by God.  In his book Biblical Basis of Christian Counseling for People Helpers, G.R. Collins tells us: 

In God's lawcourt, we have been freed without condemnation, not because we are sinless (in reality, we are all sinful and guilty) but because Christ paid the penalty for our sin.  As a result, in God's sight, we are "righteous," accepted, and just.  We could never pay for our sin, work hard enough to get God's approval, or be justified by some kind of holy and righteous living.  So Jesus Christ took care of the problem (sending His son to die on a cross to pay for our sins).  And we are justified when we put our faith in Christ who has already paid for our sin.

So, whatever "weight" you're carrying in your bags, remember that your are justified in God.  You are accepted, "righteous", and just.  Don't let the weight of the bag weigh you down.  In other words, don't let you guilt and sinfulness weigh you down.  We're not perfect (nobody is), but right now and for eternity we are faultless in the sight of God.  

The devil wants to prey on that.  Remind you that you can't amount to anything.  Put guilt in our thinking.  Don't let that happen.  Our debt is paid.  Rejoice in Him!  Share His Word.  Bring glory to God everyday!

Bear your cross, for His glory, and I bet the weight of the cross will feel as light as a feather!

Thanks and God Bless

David Wildman
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SOLO ENDURANCE RACING

Solo endurance racing is rewarding, frustrating, and lonely all at the same time. You might be saying: "Why in the world would you want to do endurance racing if it's frustrating and lonely?" Good question! Let me explain.

I recently went on a short recon day trip of the Trans North Georgia route (this is the route I will be racing in August) and I was quickly reminded of the rewards, frustrations, and loneliness of endurance racing. At one point in the ride I was zoning out, looking at the amazing scenery around me and then in a split second my bliss turned to fear as I felt the scenery getting closer and closer to me (loneliness). Instantly I thought: if a furry creature was stalking me this would be the spot it would attack, and then 10 minutes later, as I talked myself off the ledge of being attacked I realized that my GPS was showing that I needed to take a right but the road physically didn't exist. I spent 10 more minutes debating on how I was going to get to the next road if this road didn't exist but showed it did on my GPS (frustrating). Luckily, I found the next road, the scenery gave me more personal space, and the furry creature didn't attack (rewarding).

The journey of discovering God's plan for our lives and carrying out His plan for our lives is similar to solo endurance racing. It's rewarding, frustrating, and lonely. Our Christian worldview says that God created all of us in his image and likeness. Some of us are carrying out his image and likeness and some are still discovering it.

I want to share 4 steps of application (from the book: Biblical Basis of Christian Counseling for People Helpers written by: Gary Collins) to help us navigate the rewards, frustrations and loneliness of discovering and carrying out His glory:

Step 1: Knowing. To apply what the Bible says, we have to know what the Bible says. We all need thorough Bible knowledge. Study the scripture and understand what it's truly telling us. It's up to each of us to clearly interpret the Bible.

Step 2: Relating. 2 Timothy 3:16 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." As we study the Bible we will find answers, guidelines for relating to God and to others, for dealing with the Devil, for bringing change with ourselves, and for refining the worldview on which we build our lives.

Step 3: Meditate. Let's admit it. We're all busy. One thing is certain, however: We all need to stop regularly, to pull away from the activity of our busy lives, to think, to read, and to meditate on the Word of God.

Step 4: Practice. Ever heard the phrase: "practice makes perfect."? God gives us a formula for success in Joshua 1:7-8. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful."

Notice in Joshua 1:7-8 the emphasis on both meditating and taking action. It does little good to read the Bible if we don't obey and put what we read into practice.

Take some time this week to read and meditate on His Word. Really dive into the scripture and seek to understand it's true meaning. Don't just read it to add a check mark to your "To Do" list. If you're unsure of the scripture or are having a hard time finding time to read and meditate heed this phrase: "When in doubt, pray it out."

Thanks and God Bless!

David Wildman
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PREPARING FOR THE NEXT RIDE

For many of us cyclists and back-country adventurers, much of our enjoyment comes from the thoughtful preparation and anticipation of the next big ride. That ride might be a three-day backcountry camping trip or a quick ride on the local trails after work. In either case, there is preparation that must be done to ensure that our valuable time away from the responsibilities of adult life is well spent. Trailside bike maintenance is never fun. And bikes that make unpleasant noises tend to remind us of how better planning for the ride would have been good.

Sometimes, the time demands of life require us to scrap a good ride to spend some time preparing for the next adventure. I had just such an evening last week. My lights were charged, I threw on a clean jersey, and the adrenaline was already kicking in. Yeah! Time to ride!

Then as I swung a leg over the saddle and hopped on my favorite full-suspension rig, I was greeted with a horrendous squeaking noise, and then a popping sound as the suspension compressed. The diagnosis was immediate: main pivot overhaul needed. Like a Service Engine light, I probably could have hit the trail and tried to tune out the terrible sound that would undoubtedly drown out the sound of owls, coyotes, and the gentle breeze. Man, I just want to ride. But, since this was to be a solo ride, the self-disciplined part of me won out.

The thrill of setting out for a fast ride turned into a sinking feeling as I’d now be confined to my garage to perform a job that I didn’t feel all that interesting in doing. Time to break out the toolbox. Grease gun, torque wrench, Allen wrench, owners’ manual.

Of course, most of my bike maintenance never goes as planned. A knuckle gets bloodied. A bolt gets stripped. Hours pass by. But at the end of the frustrating time of doing a tune-up came the satisfaction that my rig was ready for the next adventure. The ride will not be plagued by squeaks or anything less than the optimal performance that the engineers had in mind for the bike.

This is a great analogy. Sometimes, we just need to scrap the ‘ride’ to tend to some repair work in order to make sure that we are ready for the next adventure. In the Christian life, before we dive into our busy agenda for the day; it’s necessary to spend some time in proverbial garage. That means prayer. That means reading God’s Word. That means aligning our mind with the mind of Christ. Here is a great verse to think on during your next pre-ride spiritual tune-up:

I Peter 1:13-15 ESV Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in your conduct…


Blogger Bio: Matthew Allen and his wife of 18 years live with their 3 sons in San Diego, California. The Allen family recently returned to Southern California after nearly five years serving with Iglesia Cristiana El Camino de La Vida in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. In addition to training pastors and elders, Matthew launched CabraRides.com to promote adventure cycling and eco-tourism in Honduras. Matthew is a board member of Fully Packed Adventure Ministries and is a student of Scripture with a passion for the Old Testament.
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SOULSHINE

My wife and I are new fans of the show The Voice.  We have our favorites and watch religiously, each week, to see who moves on.  

My favorite is Adam Wakefield.  Recently he performed Soulshine and there was a part of the song that really stood out to me:

He used to say soulshine,
It's better than sunshine,
It's better than moonshine,
Darn sure better than rain.
Hey now people don't mind,
We all get this way sometime,
Got to let your soul shine, shine till the break of day.

Soulshine (letting people see the Holy Spirit in us) it's better than sunshine.  Interesting concept, right?  We all know the feeling of stepping out of the front door and the first rays of sunshine hit us and we instantly feel warmth fill us.  

But what happens when we step out and the clouds are blocking our sunshine aka hiding our soulshine?  When we don't let our soul shine, we miss out on opportunities to let people see God in us.  We miss out on opportunities to share His love, grace, and compassion.

Luke 8:16-18

“No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a washtub or shoves it under the bed. No, you set it up on a lamp stand so those who enter the room can see their way. We’re not keeping secrets; we’re telling them. We’re not hiding things; we’re bringing everything out into the open..."

In Richard Stearn's online Bible study: Living For The Kingdom, Meg Sattler speaks of letting our soul shine: 

But we are not competing for God's love; we are His children.  So we share this love with our neighbors.  Through this outward display of our inner gratitude (soulshine), others get to experience the compassion of our God.

Don't let the clouds of this world block your soulshine.  Break through the clouds and shine, His glory, on others.

Thanks and God Bless!

David Wildman
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ADULT FILTER

I tell my wife, all the time: "I'm 32, but my inner child is still 5!"  Not always a good response during a serious debate!

Being a kid is great!  You're exploring, learning, and seeing things for the first time.  No filters to cloud your opinion.  Just raw, untamed, pure freedom to explore.

My childhood was about exploring.  I believe it's because I had an adventures spirit, but now I realize it was my mom (mother of 5 kids) telling us to go outside so she could think clearly or just not think.  

Either way, we learned and explored with no filters.  Sometimes it was good and sometimes there were tears and scares to remind us of what not to do next time.

God calls us his children.  We're learning, walking, and exploring alongside him.  Hopefully without filters, but as adults, we tend to filter things our opinions, question things, and hesitate to do things (due to fear).  

God wants us to remove the adult created filter and start seeing things through our child like filters: raw, untamed, and pure.  Let's read in Matthew:

Matthew 18:2-5

For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.

Unless we return to square one and start over like children, we're not even going to get a look at the kingdom... in other words, if we don't remove our Adult Filters and see things through the lenses of a child we won't receive Him.

Next time you question something for God, stop and ask your Inner child what he or she would do?  I guarantee you won't regret it!

Thanks and God Bless!

David Wildman
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MOUTH

In the classic movie: The Goonies, there was a character by the name of Mouth.  Mouth was always spouting off and getting himself in trouble, with his mouth, hence the reason for his nickname in the movie.

This got me thinking... what has my mouth done for me lately?  Is it getting me in trouble or is it singing His praises?  Is it shutting people down or is it lifting them up?

Psalm 19:14 NIV

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Our pastor shared a quote with us last Sunday: "Darkness is the absence of light.  Evil is the absence of good."  What about words?  "Silence is the absence of love."

Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Our mouths are powerful tools.  They can lift people up or put them down.  How will you choose to use it?  Will you love as He loves us, unconditionally?

I have a challenge for myself and my wife... for every negative thing we say we replace it with an uplifting compliment.  Not an easy challenge.  

This week I want to challenge everyone to do the same.  For every negative comment replace it with a positive.  Let the fruit of His spirit allow you to say things with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Thanks and God Bless!

David Wildman
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MISTAKES

"We all make mistakes, that's why pencils have erasers."

In bikepacking mistakes are a common routine.  Not so appealing, right?!  Let me explain.  Bikepacking is all about exploring.  Yes, you leave with a planned out route, places to get water, food, and lodging.  But, like all good plans there is always a plan B.

Seeing as you're exploring, you will get lost, you will miss your places for water, you will end up sleeping alongside the road because the campground no longer exists even though the updated map you bought say it does.

Our walk with the Lord is all about exploration.  He has a plan for us, we get to explore (find out what it is) and then it's up to us to execute His plan.  

Yes, we'll make mistakes.  We're human.  It's bound to happen, but we can choose to dwell on our mistakes or we can pick ourselves up and keep going.  As sure as the new sun will rise, He will help us find our way again.

Hosea 6:2-3

2 After two days he will revive us;
    on the third day he will restore us,
    that we may live in his presence.
3 Let us acknowledge the Lord;
    let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
    he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
    like the spring rains that water the earth.”

Thanks and God Bless!

David Wildman
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C.L.I.M.B.

The bikepacking world is filled with acronyms.  Here are a few well known acronyms in the bikepacking realm: GDMBR (Great Divide Mountain Bike Route), TNGA (Trans North Georgia), AZT (Arizona Trail), and CTR (Colorado Trail Race)

Seeing as there are so many, why not make one for myself?!  I wanted an acronym that encompassed riding elements and ministry.  This lead me to create C.L.I.M.B. (Come Learn Invite Multiply Build).

Here are the Bible verses that better explain C.L.I.M.B.

COME
Matthew 11:28 - Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

LEARN
Matthew 11:29 - Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.

INVITE
Matthew 22:9 - So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.

MULTIPLY
Mark 4:8 - Still other seed fell on good soil.  It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.

BUILD
1 Corinthians 3:10 - By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it.  But each one should build with care.

In all that we do, at Fully Packed, we C.L.I.M.B. together.  Both in riding and in our walk with the Lord.

Come C.L.I.M.B. with us!

Thanks and God Bless!

David Wildman 
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