Marriage Retreat Weekend Recap

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Blue skies and the Mummy Range in RMNP behind us

This past weekend we were up in Estes Park with some couples from White Fields for a marriage retreat we organized together with a couple other churches.

For Rosemary and I, this was our first time team-teaching together, and it was a great experience. We taught a session on the importance of Christian community and the local church for a healthy marriage.

In preparing for the retreat, our thought was to get away from the things which we don’t like about marriage retreats, such as:

  • The awkward sex talk
  • Going to a great location and then spending all of your time cooped up inside a building listening to lectures
  • Brow-beating lectures about what you need to do “more and better”

I have been to marriage events in the past where instead of strengthening and encouraging marriages, the retreat seemed to only fuel existing discord and frustrations, so that on the car ride home the wife was saying: “Were you listening to what the speaker said? Those are all the things that I’m always telling you that you need to change and do better!” – and the husband saying: “Did you hear the part about how important it is to have sex even if you don’t feel like it? That’s what I’ve been telling you for years!” And both wonder why they spent $200 to get in a fight, when they were doing alright before the “retreat.”

Instead, our vision was to host a true retreat – and focus on the experience rather than a particular speaker. Our theme was connecting with God, your spouse and Christian community and our goal was to encourage, give some tools, biblical guidance and challenges, and create a setting where couples could be refreshed and reconnect with each other and spend time with other couples.

The retreat turned out even better than I had expected. Some great admin work was put in by the staff of Calvary Belmar in Lakewood. Brian Boehm of Trail Ridge Counseling taught one of the sessions and presented some great material that Rosemary and I will be looking at for weeks to come. Brian and his wife Nicole did a ton of work to make the retreat special and they deserve much of the credit for it being a success; they designed and led several key parts of the weekend.

If retreats are done right, they can be awesome experiences. We look forward to doing more of these in the future.

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Mule deer at the retreat center

The US Election and Some Reasons to be Hopeful

This past weekend I went with the elders of White Fields Church to Allenspark, where we had a marathon of meetings, but in such a beautiful spot that we could also enjoy some hiking and the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

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Sunrise on Mt. Meeker
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We happened upon this mama bear and her 2 cubs in a tree near Lyons

We had a great time together, but I was surprised how exhausted I felt at the end of it. However, I feel very encouraged about where our church is at and where we are going.

Speaking of exhaustion and encouragement: the US election is coming up in 3 days.

I’m exhausted by the campaigns, by the division it causes, I’m exhausted because both of the major party candidates have major character flaws and neither of them are someone I can be excited to vote for.

However, I am also hopeful. Yesterday I ran across an article by Carey Nieuwhof that was a breath of fresh air. True, he’s a Canadian, so he doesn’t really have any skin in the game, but then on the other hand, they have Justin Trudeau and pretty much all of the things conservative Americans are concerned about happening in the US have already happened in Canada – so maybe a Canadian is the exact person who can speak into our situation.

Here’s the article: Despairing about the US Presidential election? 5 predictions that point toward hope.

Here are the 5 predictions he gives:

  1. There will be renewed interest in the sovereignty of God
  2. The church will look to Christ more and to the state less
  3. Living out your values will become more important than ever
  4. The tone of public discourse will get worse…or better
  5. The work of the local church will be more important than ever

Carey expounds on each of these in his post – it’s worth reading, but the tone of what he is saying is something I have found curiously lacking from Christian leaders during this election season.

I, for one, cannot lose hope – because as a Christian I know that 1) God is sovereign and 2) the best is yet to come.

How Much Should Parents Disclose to Their Kids About Their Past Struggles and Mistakes?

Last week my wife and I went on a hike with another couple from White Fields Church. We hiked up Glacier Gorge in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s the perfect time of the year for that hike, and the fall colors were out in full force. It was great.

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On the way home we were having a conversation about raising kids, and the question came up of how much parents should disclose to their kids about things that they did when they were a younger – whether it be inappropriate sexual relationships or alcohol abuse or drug use, or that time I got expelled from school, or that time I lit a trash can on fire or tried to take up smoking when I was in 8th grade…

The fear on the one hand, is that if you tell your kids that you did those things when you were their age, that they will feel justified in doing it themselves, because they will say, Dad/Mom did it, and he/she turned out okay… 

We didn’t really come to any definitive conclusion about the matter that day. Today I came across this text in a book I am reading: Cary Nieuwhof’s Lasting Impact. He was referring to some research that has been done on the topic of what contributes to kids who are raised in Christian homes abandoning or keeping the faith they were raised in:

How transparent should parents be with their kids about their own struggles? The Sticky Faith research suggests parents could foster more authentic dialogue by opening up with their children and being honest about some of their own mistakes, whether those mistakes were made in the past or even more recently. Even if it’s just apologizing for losing it in the moment, being open and saying you make mistakes can go a long way in creating a meaningful dialogue. The honesty can start when your kids are young, too. “It is never too early to start implementing some of these principles and to make your home a safe place to talk about mistakes,” Kara said. It’s also never too early to have faith conversations with your kids and talk to them about your own faith. Many parents are afraid to open up out of fear they’re not far enough along in their own faith journey to lead their kids. Kara noted, “Our research isn’t saying you need to be more spiritual than you already are; our research is saying to share with your kids the spirituality you already have.” The fact that they see the faith you have trumps any worry about them seeing any faith you don’t (yet) have.

It would seem that what matters isn’t only telling your kids about some of the mistakes you made in the past, but explaining to them why those things were mistakes, what the repercussions of them were, and why you wouldn’t want them to make those mistakes themselves.

A further aspect, which cannot be neglected, is that we must show our children the gospel. That means helping them to realize that the fulfillment of their deepest desires is found in nothing less than the redemption and new life offered to us in Christ.

I read this great quote from Paul Tripp this week:

Your job as a Christian parent is to do everything within your power, as an instrument in the hands of the Redeemer who has employed you, to woo, encourage, call, and train your children to willingly and joyfully live as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
(article here)

 

Peaked Out Weekend

This past weekend was a busy one for us, full of many good things.

It began on Saturday with the Longmont Sunrise Stampede. My wife and 8 year old son ran the 2 mile race, and I ran the 10k. On the one hand, we were excited to run a race here in Longmont, but an added bonus was that the race went to support a great cause: proceeds went to help fund special education in the St Vrain Valley School District.

I was proud of my son for finishing his first race, and getting a time he could be proud of.

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Before the 2 mile race

I finished my 10k race in 54:51 which was a personal record time for that distance and even better than I had hoped to do.

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At 9.5 km of the 10k race which ended at Silver Creek HS

We then went up to Bailey, to a picnic for pastors and their families put on by Crossroads Church of Denver, my old church which sent me to Hungary.

We then went to Denver for the Lego BrickFest, which our kids loved, and then finished the day by having dinner with family and friends.

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On Sunday we had church. I taught on Colossians 3:1-11 in a message titled “A New You”, about which I got a surprising amount of positive feedback. One of the key concepts I discussed was the “Already… but Not Yet” nature of the gospel. If you’d like to listen to it, you can find the audio of that message here.

I got an email after church that a couple from Texas had been at church that day, and that they had come because they read this blog and were in the area! That encouraged me to be writing here more.

Right after church at White Fields, we went down to Littleton, where the Colorado Hungarian community was having their annual picnic for Szent István (St. Stephen) Day. István was the first king of Hungary, who after converting to Christianity as an adult, established Hungary as a Christian kingdom in 1000. He was declared a saint on August 20, 1083 and because of that, August 20 is the national holiday of Hungary.

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Hungarian language church service in Littleton

At this picnic, I lead a church service in Hungarian for the Hungarian Reformed Church of Denver, at which I preached on one of my favorite scriptures, Matthew 13:44 – “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” I really enjoyed preaching in Hungarian again! I get to do it sometimes when I visit Hungary, but felt great to do it here in Colorado.

On Sunday night, I left home at 11pm with two friends from church to climb Longs Peak.

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My wife took this picture of Longs Peak and Mt Meeker as we drove into Longmont Saturday evening. We love when the light highlights the layers in the mountains.

It was the 2nd time I’ve climbed it, and it was just as beautiful and difficult of a climb as I remember it being! It’s a 15 mile round trip hike, with 5100 feet of elevation gain. The most difficult part of the hike, mentally, is the last 2.5 miles, when you descend back into the forest and it feels like it will never end. The most technically difficult part is probably “The Trough.” Here’s a description of the route.

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The view from the top of Longs Peak looking South-West towards the Indian Peaks. The lake on the left is Barker Reservoir in Nederland.
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The Twin Peaks – Longs and Meeker, from the split off to Chasm Lake

Today the kids went back to school, which is bittersweet for us as parents. On the one hand, we are going to miss having them around, but on the other hand, it was a lot of work keeping them occupied and on task at home, and we see how good it is for them to be with the other kids and learning.

We took a trip last week up to the Mount Evans as a family to celebrate the end of summer vacation. It was my wife and kids’ first time up above 14,000 feet.

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Mt Evans summit (14,270 ft)

I can’t get enough of these Rocky Mountains…

 

Approaching Easter

Yesterday we had a blizzard hit the Front Range. Some places got as much as 25″ of wet, heavy snow. I was in Boulder yesterday and there were broken tree limbs littering Broadway.

I don’t mind this snow actually, I am only praying about what it means for our big Easter Outreach this Saturday in Roosevelt Park…

As we approach Easter, here are 2 things I wanted to share: a quote and a link to an article.

Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection not in books alone, but in every leaf of springtime.
– Martin Luther

Steve Brown on 6 Proofs of Christ’s Resurrection

 

 

Family Get-away to Steamboat Springs

This past weekend I took my family (all except 1, who had to work) to Steamboat Springs for a short holiday.

I’d always wanted to go to Steamboat; apparently it is the place where I took my first steps when my parents were visiting my aunt who lived there, but of course, I don’t remember that, so it was all new to me.

On the way up, we stopped in Kremmling to see a bit of my family’s history. My Great Grand Uncle (my Grandmother’s uncle) was the town blacksmith for Kremmling until the 1970’s when he died. His old shop still stands in the center of town, with his name still painted on it.

The building is a historical building here in Colorado. Here’s a picture of it from the Denver Public Library’s archives.

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In Steamboat we took our baby for her first hike, then went to the outdoor hot springs at Strawberry Park. I have been to a lot of natural hot springs in Europe, but I have to say that I have never been to one with this much character anywhere in the world. As we were there, an elk came down to drink from the spring. It was a great experience.

 

The next day we went downtown to see the Yampa River, and as we were walking we could smell sulphur, and realized that there were a bunch of natural springs coming right out of the ground, just about everywhere. Some of them were marked, some of them weren’t.

We found a great coffee shop: The Ristretto Lounge, which we would recommend to anyone going to Steamboat to check out.

 

Dynel Lane, the Media and a Contradiction of Terms

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Almost a year ago, a tragedy happened here in Longmont: a pregnant woman responded to a Craigslist ad for free baby clothes, only to be attacked and to have her baby cut from her womb and abducted.

The baby did not survive, and the assailant, Dynel Lane is currently on trial this week in the Boulder District Court, however she is not being charged with murder, but with suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault and child abuse knowingly and recklessly resulting in death and unlawful termination of a pregnancy.

Colorado law does not count the death of an unborn child as murder, only if the child lived outside of the womb for some time. The issue in this case is that it’s not possible to prove how long the child lived outside of the womb – so Colorado’s wording of the law will not allow a murder charge in this case, even though wrongful death is obvious.

Dynel Lane has pleaded not guilty to these charges and has come back saying that it was Michelle Wilkins who attacked and tried to stab her, and that she was only trying to defend herself, and the reason she cut the baby out of Michelle’s womb was because she thought Michelle was dead and was trying to save the baby. This however, gives no explanation for why Dynel Lane told medical personal at Longmont United Hospital that the baby was hers, until they realized that she hadn’t given birth and the baby couldn’t be hers.

You can read Dynel Lane’s testimony here.

Today closing arguments are being presented by both sides.

This case presents a conundrum, not only for the wording of the law, but for the media in telling the story.  As one friend pointed out: The Denver Post reported that Dynel Lane “…cut out Wilkins’ fetus before taking the baby to Longmont United Hospital…”

Did you catch that?  She cut out a “fetus” and then took the “baby” to Longmont United Hospital.

It’s a very careful choosing of words which reflects a fundamental belief: that unborn children are not actually children.

The word they’ve coined to help create this false dichotomy – which this case so painfully exposes – is “fetus.” What’s ironic, is that this is based on a failure to grasp the fact that the word fetus is simply Latin for “young person.”

Fetus is Latin for “young person”

Did you catch that?  Young PERSON.    Not “young mass of tissue, akin more to cancer than to a human being.”

This case presents a conundrum for lawmakers and the media, because it shows that a fetus and a baby are not two separate things. Everyone knows that what this woman did was wrong, because she killed a baby… But if we stick with strictly considering the unborn unhuman, then why is this crime so heinous?

Is a baby only a baby if its mother wants it?   Clearly the answer is no.

I will be interested to see what happens in this case. Hoping for justice for Dynel Lane’s crime and mercy for her soul.

 

John Taft Gallery

One of the great things about Longmont is the local art scene, and the gem of the local art scene is landscape painter John Taft.

I acknowledge that I may be biased in this, being that the Taft family are friends of ours and attend White Fields Church, but I still stand by my assessment. John has won numerous awards and honors for his work, including a feature article in Southwest Art Magazine.

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John and Lisa Taft

Tonight we went to John’s gallery on 3rd and Main for the monthly Second Friday show. Unfortunately tonight may be the last of these shows, as John currently plans to move out of the downtown space he has been in for the past 2 years.

Even if the gallery does close, John’s work will still be available in several galleries around Colorado as well as through his website: johntaft.com

You should click that link and check out John’s work. Seriously – do it.

We recently became the proud owners of a John Taft painting (we like to think of ourselves as collectors now :), and hope to acquire more in the future.

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The Longmont Pastor and the Cady family’s first John Taft piece: “White Roses”

What’s special about John and his art is that he approaches art as a form of bringing glory to God. Displaying God’s created beauty in a way that moves people and taps into the human heart’s innate longing for perfection and beauty honors God and leads people to glorify him.

Check out John’s stuff online, and if you live in Longmont or elsewhere in Colorado, take the opportunity to check out his paintings in person at a gallery near you. Seeing the brush strokes up close and then stepping away – it’s the whole experience. Don’t pass it up.

Life in the Field Radio Program Expanding to Every Weekday

The radio outreach of White Fields Community Church, “Life in the Field”, will be expanding starting this Friday, May 1st, to every weekday at 2:30 pm MST on 89.7 GraceFM.

heroRADIO2Our Sunday morning broadcasts at 10 am will continue to air as well.

We are excited to see how God will use this broadcast to reach people along the Front Range with Gospel-centered Bible teaching, and we ask that you pray that God uses it in a great way for His glory and the good of people in this community.

Let your friends and family know about the broadcast, so they can tune in!

GraceFM can be heard on 89.7 FM from Cheyenne, WY to Castle Rock, CO.  In and around Colorado Springs it can be heard on 101.7 – and you can also tune in online at 897gracefm.com.

Thoughts on Representative Klingenschmitt’s Comments about the Judgement of God and the Assault in Longmont

Last week Colorado State Representative Gordon Klingenschmitt from Colorado Springs stated on his YouTube channel that the Bible says that the Longmont woman who was assaulted and had her baby cut from her stomach was the wrath of God coming against America because we have failed to protect unborn children. To make this point, he quoted from Hosea 13:16.

Since then, both conservatives and liberals have distanced themselves from Klingenschmitt and he has been removed from at least one comittee that he was a member of.

I went and checked out the statement he made, because I know how sometimes things can be misconstrued when relayed by media – I was curious if that was the case here.

Here are my thoughts:

  1. The one way that Klingenschmitt might have been misrepresented was that he was not saying that God was judging this woman individually, who was the victim of the assault – rather he said that God is judging our soceity in general, and what happened to this woman was part of that judgment.
  2. He quoted from Hosea 13:16, a verse about how both Israel and Samaria would face God’s judgment (in the form of war) as a result of their rebellion against God. The prophet describes what will happen when war comes: no one will be spared; children will die, and even pregnant women will be killed with the sword (cut open).
    This is, first of all, not even talking about the kind of assault that took place in Longmont. Secondly, the important detail in understanding what is being said by the prophet is that judgment will come in the form of war, and in war, these are the kinds of atrocities that happen.
    In other words, it isn’t God saying that He’s going to judge them by sending people to kill their children and cut open their pregnant women, it’s God saying that he will allow a time of hardship by removing His hand of protection and allowing a foreign nation (the Assyrians in this case) to overrun them. Historically, this is exactly what happened. However, in the context of the Book of Hosea, it is important to note that this is said as a warning of the judgment that will come if the people continue in their wickedness and rebellion, and is followed in the next chapter by the urging of Hosea about the blessings and restoration that repentance would bring to the nation instead.
    In other words: “You have a choice to make. It’s not too late! You can choose to continue rebelling against God, in which case God will not protect you from the impending onslaught of the Assyrians (and just to remind you, here are the kinds of terrible atrocities that happen in war…), or you can repent and turn back to the Lord and he will restore you and heal your nation.”
    Conclusion: Klingenschmitt is clearly taking this verse out of context.
  3. The difficult question this brings up is: when do we consider something to be God’s judgment, and when do we not? In the Bible, it seems that many times things happened that were indeed the judgment of God, which, if they were to happen in our day, we might not see them as such.
    For example, in the Old Testament, in Korah’s rebellion, people got swallowed up by the Earth as God’s judgment upon them. Nowadays, if someone gets sucked up in a sinkhole, calling it the judgment of God is not exactly politically correct. In the Old Testament, wars and attacks from foreign nations were often related to God’s judgment. Do we still consider that to be the case? Or how about Ananias and Saphira – they lied to make themselves look good, and God struck them dead. We don’t often think in our day about heart attacks as being God’s judgment on a person. I’m sure that not all heart attacks are God’s judgment on people – but it would seem that sometimes they might be.
    It is incredibly difficult to discern or to say with any amount of certainty which things are God’s judgment and which are not, apart from divine revelation.

My conclusion is that this man is not evil or heartless, but perhaps a bit misguided and could use some lessons in exegesis, because he is very dogmatic about some things which he doesn’t have proper basis to be so dogmatic about. Furthermore, having a platform like the one he does as a State Congressman, he should be much more careful about what he says.

Much more importantly, my heart goes out to the victim of this terrible crime. We pray for her physical and emotional healing. We pray that she will be able to have more children after this. I have been so impressed by her graciousness in her public statements, and we do pray that she would sense the love of God and presence of God and the hope of the Gospel.