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Archive for June, 2010

Ain’t that something.. err… I mean nothing.

June 30, 2010 10 comments

We have been home from our roadcation a couple of days now.  I had hoped to be able to post more thoughts and pictures from the road but, alas, internet connections and time did not always align.  I will tell you this much – our family vacation out west was absolutely amazing.  We had opportunity to visit the following National Parks:

  • Badlands of South Dakota
  • Black Hills and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota
  • Yellowstone in Wyoming
  • Grand Tetons in Wyoming
  • Bryce Canyon in Utah
  • Grand Canyon in Arizona
  • Petrified Forest and Painted Desert in Arizona

We passed through or stayed in the following states:

  • Ohio (starting and ending point)
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • South Dakota
  • Wyoming
  • Montana
  • Idaho
  • Utah
  • Arizona
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Oklahoma
  • Missouri

Here are some pictures from the road to give you a taste of what we saw while in the old van.

At one point, my youngest daughter made this statement after being witness to all of the beauty in the west:

And scientists think all of this came from a speck!

At the time I just responded that God had created a lot of beauty for us to enjoy but later on I had this thought.  Scientists need to believe that something came from something – even if it means hypothesizing a super condensed speck blowing up into our universe today (for you science geeks, I know that I am super simplifying that idea).

God didn’t have that limitation – He created all we see from nothing.

What a Wonderful World

June 19, 2010 1 comment

Sorry I haven’t been keeping you all posted on our trip out west.  Internet access has been spotty at best and we have had plenty to keep us busy.

We are now in Yellowstone after spending 3 days in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  We had a blast there.  I think the highlight of that stay was renting an ATV and taking the family ‘mudding’ through the trails of the National Forest.  You can find pictures on my Facebook page.  I would load them here but it has been an ordeal getting the few loaded to Facebook that I have been able to manage.

Yesterday we spent the day driving the south loop of the Yellowstone forest and we were blown away by the geysers, Old Faithful, Yellowstone Lake, animal sightings, and, of course, the lower falls view.  We have posted pictures of those spots to my Facebook page as well.  There is a one picture of a  bison walking up the road right next to our van.  That was an exciting moment for the kids.

To say that Yellowstone is breathtaking is an understatement.  For me to describe it to you or to even show you pictures would not do it justice.  You have to experience it for yourself.  To stand beside a lake at 7,000 feet of altitude and be surrounded by snow-capped peaks is just something that fails to be described by words.

We have a couple of more days here and then we start heading south toward the Grand Canyon.  I will keep you posted as I am able.

God bless.

Corn, Corn, Corn, Rain, Corn, Corn, Rain, Corn, and more Corn

June 14, 2010 6 comments

Ok.. so I realize corn is an important commodity in the world of agriculture, but my word people, how much corn do we really need!!  I have never seen so much corn in all my life.  And then there is the rain. It keeps raining.  Which keeps making more corn grow.  The people have gone mad in the west over corn. In fact, they are so crazy that they built a Corn Palace.

I am not kidding.  A Corn Palace.

So what do you do if you are sick of looking at corn and you find out that there is a palace built in its honor?  Well, visit it of course!

As you can see, my youngest and I have ‘corn on the brain’.

In all seriousness, we have had safe travels so far.  Last night we stayed in a nice Courtyard-Marriott in Peoria, Illinois.  Unfortunately, tonight we are staying in a Best Western Motor Inn in Mitchell, South Dakota.  The $50 difference in price is very evident.  I have reassured my wife that our budget is sound enough that any more hotels will be like the first hotel and less like the second.  :)

Tomorrow morning we get up early so that we can visit the Badlands of South Dakota before arriving in Hill City, South Dakota where we will finally visit Mount Rushmore – my wife’s choice National Park for this trip.  We hope to get less pictures with corn in them.

I am off for now. Night!

Gathering Wind

June 13, 2010 1 comment

It has been a little while since I posted anything.  It has been very hectic trying to prepare for a 2 week roadcation.  There are just so many things to finalize, fix, plan, and prepare for that are not part of the everyday busyness.

We had hoped to get on the road by noon today so that we could get the first 400 miles behind us and find a hotel early in the evening.   Unfortunately, we didn’t get on the road until 3:30 PM but we were still able to get to our first destination in good time.  We did pass through a fantastic storm just outside of Indianapolis on the way up Interstate 74… it was a real gully washer as the folks from my southern roots would refer to it.  The temperature dropped from 91 degress to 71 in just a matter of moments.  While the storm was a bit scary the resultant change in temperature was very welcome.

As we were driving through Illinois, we noticed a windmill farm off in the northern horizon.  We didn’t have time to take a side trip to check them out – though that would have been cool – so I had to find an image on the web to give you an idea of what they looked like.  The windmills reminded me that there is energy to be gathered in catching the wind.  That is an apropos thought for the beginning of our Westward Saga.  This is a break to gather some wind, to build energy, for our family.

That is all I have for tonight. Stay tuned for cooler stuff when we finally make it to our first National Park – Mount Rushmore.

Jesus Paradox

June 4, 2010 4 comments

Elegant words will escape my ability to explain what I believe is the greatest paradox within the realm of Christian faith.

Writing in his letter to the Philippians, Paul encourages the people to take on the mind of Christ as depicted by His humility in stepping out of heaven and into a fallen world.  I have struggled with Paul’s wording when choosing to explain it in this way:

who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be  grasped,

For the longest time I have pictured this grasping as if He were not able to attain, grab onto, the equality of God.  But that didn’t make sense because He is God.  But then it hit me – grasping isn’t always reaching after something.  Sometimes it is trying to retain something.  And then this part of the scripture made so much more sense to me.

Though Christ was co-equal in unity with God, He humbled Himself by letting go of that equality to become divinely human.  He let go of all which was rightfully His in order to serve us.  Paul says that Christ’s service was to death – even to death on a cross.

As I read that word ‘even’ tonight, the words that followed struck deeper.  Christ not only died for us but He died a criminal’s death…yet, He was no criminal.  Instead, we have to gather that He gave up that which was rightfully His as a Holy and Righteous God to take the punishment of our crimes.

Forget the church speak that maybe you are used to and look at it this way – would you willingly take the place of a man on death row who was convicted of murdering your family knowing that he would laugh at your sacrifice?  Would you die a criminal’s death for crimes committed against you?

So this is the Jesus Paradox.  That a God who is perfectly holy and righteous would require justice at the expense of His own perfect love and mercy.  The full crushing weight of God’s judgment against us can only wash across us because, in some unfathomable method, He let go of His equality, His right, in order to stand in love between us and that judgment.

We can never fully appreciate grace unless we can appreciate God’s right to judge us.

This was something that Martin Luther nearly went mad over.  Read his words and see if they speak to you.

I greatly longed to understand Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, ‘the justice of God,’ [Rom. 1:17] because I took it to mean that justice whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust. My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against him.Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.

Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that ‘the just shall live by his faith’ [Rom. 1:17]. Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas the ‘justice of God’ had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate of heaven..

If you have a true faith that Christ is your Saviour, then at once you have a gracious God, for faith leads you in and opens up God’s heart and will, that you should see pure grace and overflowing love.  This it is to behold God in faith that you should look upon his fatherly, friendly heart, in which there is no anger nor ungraciousness.  He who sees God as angry does not see him rightly but looks only on a curtain as if a dark cloud has been drawn across his face.

It is a strange, beautiful paradox.  One that we can meditate on for a lifetime and not fully appreciate.

One day…  some day…  we will see more clearly.

Categories: Commentary, Life Thoughts Tags: , ,

When the van’s a rockin, don’t…

June 1, 2010 12 comments

Back in January of 2003, my wife and I bought a new van.  It only had 17 miles on it when we made the purchase and some of those miles were from the test drive.  It was our largest car purchase and it was the only time we have ever bought a new car in our 20 years of marriage.

I can remember how well we tried to maintain it when we first brought it home.  It would get regular cleanings and we would watch where we parked it in order to stave off those accidental scratches that the inconsiderate morons absent minded would cause when letting their grocery carts rub up against it.  In short, we babied and protected it.  Somewhere along the line it received a scratch or two, the new car smell faded, and different parts started needed to be replaced.  Here is what is interesting, at the time when it needed the most care, we started ignoring the little warning signs that bigger problems were coming.  We just didn’t want to hassle with the old beast because there was a cost associated and there was a time involvement that made it inconvenient.

Our family is planning a long ‘roadcation’ out west in the near future and we need that old beast to be at its best since we will be taking in long miles across diverse conditions.  As we were preparing for the trip, it became apparent that we were going to have to do some maintenance on those things that we had been ignoring.  That is how I spent most of my Memorial Day Weekend – maintaining the old beast.

First it was just a brake job and new tires, but that soon blossomed into:

  • New drums for the back end
  • New rotors and wheel bearings for the front end
  • Replacing the AC Compressor and Accumulator
  • Installing a new serpentine belt
  • AND.. a new Catalytic Converter

Some of those things I knew I needed to do, but some of them didn’t become apparent until I started digging into other areas and opening what was hidden.  It took 2 days and about $1500 to address these issues… but it is going to be worth the peace of mind when we are on the road for our long trip.

Maybe it is a man thing, but those types of lessons are easy to apply to other areas of our lives.  Take a marriage for instance.  Mine has been running for near to 20 years and the new car smell wore out some time back.  There have been a few scratches and dents along the way.  There has also been some time spent ignoring the warning signs of maintenance needed.

It’s appropriate that this trip is coming up as it will provide opportunity for slowing down and doing some maintenance.  It will be our first opportunity as husband and wife (and family) to invest more than 2 weeks of family togetherness.  No work objectives, no piano lessons, no sports practices, no yard work that just has to get done, no.. none of that.  We just don’t need any of that to ‘come a knockin’ on this trip.  There is a lifetime of travel that our family still has to make and these times are necessary in order for there to be peace of mind about that trip.

We will keep you all updated on our ‘roadcation’ in the old beast when the time comes.    Hopefully we will learn new insights about ourselves, our faith, and our country as we ride along.

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