Four (Weeks) for Friday

It has been a month to the day since my last post. Just over four weeks. And since it is Friday… well you’ve read the title. Here is what’s been up with me over the last four weeks.

Week 1 // KAA – Fortunately, my pardner in crime has done a pretty extensive write-up of the week. So, I’ll leave you with a song and a picture.

Tedashii – Dum Dum (feat. Lecrae)

That’s Lauren Foster (one of our 9th grade students) about to launch herself from the top of a thirty-foot telephone pole. This photograph is a snap-shot of what the whole week was about… risk, facing fears, trust, and leaps of faith.

Week 2 // The family loads up and heads west. It is no secret that I love the mountains and that they regularly provide the backdrop for our family’s adventures. Alison has shared some here.

Josh Garrels – Pilot Me

Week 3 // We are joined by more family and friends and bikes… and games. There was easily a game of Settlers a day. Many days, more than one.

Leagues – Mind Games

Hiking to Judd Falls

Taking “5”

One of the “floats” at the 4th Parade

Week 4 // The infamous Senior Backpacking Trip.

Mumford & Sons – Home (possible title live)

This one started off this way…

and ended like this…

It has been a very good four weeks.

More Mountains

Like most summers, the Rocky Mountains will provide the backdrop for various adventures in the coming weeks.

I’m taking my family (and an assortment of others) for a two-week camping trip. This annual event is sure to be both epic and rejuvenating at the same time.

I’ll also help lead a pack of graduating seniors as they take a week to pause and think clearly about the next chapter of their lives.

In between those two trips, I’m hoping for a couple days to do some climbing in southwest region of the state.

And then, later in the summer, I’m looking to take a group of guys (18 year old plus) for a long weekend of the perfect combination of mountain-leisure and mountain-rigor. I never exactly know who is game for this sort of thing, nor am I the kind of person that wants to make it an exclusive affair. So, if you are male, have August 3-9 more or less free, and desire this kind of mountain adventure, let me know. I’m going to be there. And I’m thinking about a dozen others will be joining me.

May all your summertime plans bear good fruit… no matter where you find yourself.

Mountain Meetings

A few weeks ago, Bob asked “one big question” that maybe was two.

“Where is your favorite spot, what is your favorite activity to seek God?”

I’m ready to answer the “activity” half of the question.

Drum roll.

And, here it is…

Being in the mountains.

Shocking, I know.

I am also aware that I’m cheating a little. Mountains are the spot. Reading is the activity. It is probably all just a matter of semantics, but here’s the way I see it. When I’m in the mountains, I am active. When I’m reading, I’m sitting in a spot. Ok, as always, I don’t need to justify myself. My blog. I do what I want.

I’m not entirely sure what it is about the mountains that draws me to them, but they have so often been the setting for seeking after God.

Maybe it is their sheer beauty.

Or the way the mountain air clears the mind.

Or the lessons learned about fear and trust.

But it is most certainly about the people with whom I find myself in the mountains, and in life, again and again. The people with whom I seek God… together.

More to come…

my favorite spot

A week or so ago, my good friend Bobby threw out “One Big Question”…

Where is your favorite spot,

what is your favorite activity to seek God?

Like the faithful blog companion that I am, I’ve been meaning to follow through with a response, but I knew that my answer would have to be a blog post of its own. In fact, it will probably end up being two… or three… or maybe four posts, because as I read it more than one question is being asked. That’s how I took it anyway, and judging from the other folks’ responses people did whatever the heck they wanted with the question(s).

Speaking of what the others had to say, many of the things mentioned certainly would have been on my list as well. Meals with friends. Alone with a cup of coffee. Praying with others. And yes, even empty school parking lots.

Yet my favorite spot is found between the pages of a book. As I’ve explained elsewhere, it isn’t just any old book that will do. No, my preference is for the sort of book that “makes demands of me.” And the kind of demanding books that I appreciate most are the ones that plumb the depths of who God is or what he has done and is doing in the world. Or books about His people are and what they are to do in the world.

True confessions time… I said that I wouldn’t discuss a certain book here, but if you want my most honest response to it, here goes…

I thought it was boring.

I know it was meant to be all controversial and revolutionary and all that. But it just didn’t do much for me. It wasn’t that I was bothered by what he was saying. There were tons of things he said that I thought were fine things to say. And a few that were not. My main problem was that it just wasn’t all that interesting… for me.

Now, the guy who wrote it isn’t uninteresting. I’ve heard his preaching and he is far from boring. In fact, entertaining is his long suit. And yet, sadly our culture has gotten so muddled in its thinking that we have confused being engaging with being right. Something stated with enough rhetorical flair or with “authenticity” is passed off as truth, while writing that explains complicated truths with precision doesn’t tend to be very well-received. It is the old form over content dilemma. Naturally, one would love to have both. But having both is very, very rare.

I understand that what constitutes a “good read” is a fairly subjective thing. I am regularly reminded that the books I find most engaging would cause others to fall asleep two paragraphs in. None of that changes the fact that the “love” book joins the long list of books in the pop theology category.

These are the sorts of books that show a surface level understanding of the Scriptures, almost no appreciation for the history of theology, a lack of awareness of the interpretive tradition in which they are situated, or that they stand within an interpretive tradition at all.

Therefore, I find it refreshing whenever I come across a book that is so clearly not that. And over the past few weeks, just such a book has afforded me this pleasure. But since I’m drawing perilously near my self-imposed post length limit, sharing about this “life-giving” book will have to wait.

Instead, I’ll let my old friend C.S. Lewis wrap-up how I feel about my “favorite spot.”

For my own part, I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await others.  I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.

C. S. Lewis, quoted in R. L. Green and W. Hooper, C. S. Lewis: A Biography (New York, 1974), page 115. (HT: Ray Ortlund)

(Not) My Thoughts on Bin Laden’s Death

Like many in America today, I have been spending some time reflecting on the significance of Bin Laden’s death. I think the internal struggle that I’ve been having with it arises out of the sheer complexity of the military’s role in foreign policy.  We live in a crazy and confusing world, and I don’t think there are any simple answers or solutions on how to deal with terror, cruelty, and injustice in the world.

I see this play out in the area of knowledge with which I’m more familiar. In dealing with the Bible, well-intentioned people will oversimplify what is a highly complex collection of writings from various authors, centuries, locations, and cultures. It ain’t easy. I get it. How we deal with our would-be enemies (especially on the global stage) isn’t like 2nd grade arithmetic. So I’ll offer just a thought or two of my own, and then pass you off to people who have said things that resonate with me in some way or another.

Despite my strong left leanings, I do believe in the idea of a “just” war. I’m largely (though not completely) in agreement with the case the C. S. Lewis lays out in God in the Dock. I’m not as clear on what determines whether a war is “just” or not, but I recognize that there are people in the world that need to be restrained. Therefore, I’m grateful for the men and women who serve in the armed forces. I realize that the life I lead is in no small part made possible by their sacrifices. I know more than a few who serve in the military, and I have nothing but deep and sincere gratitude for our soldiers.

However, I don’t believe that the death of our enemies is something to celebrate. No matter how much pain or suffering they may have inflicted. Like I said, some wars may be necessary, but the thought of killing (even if necessary) should be cause for sorrow, not rejoicing.

All throughout the day, different bits of writing and perspectives passed before my eyes. I can’t say that I agree with every single thing said by each one, but each expresses my own thoughts and feelings in different ways.

Ryan Byrd // We live in the same city (almost) and we still haven’t met face-to-face!

Jeff MacGregor // Who knew I would have something in common with a sports-writer?

Michael Bird // Yes, I follow two Byrd/Birds. This one’s a bit thick, but it was written before news broke of Bin Laden’s death.

David Leong // Says all that I feel and more.

Doug Wilson // More great thoughts.

Read and pray and reflect.

Grace and peace.