Whenever you look at the mountains, remember this:
“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” Says the LORD who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)
Last weekend, after church, we went camping at our favorite spot in Grand County, Colorado. Here’s the view of our backyard up there:
We were right along the Colorado River.
Some of us in our family had had a cold before going up there, and for me and the baby it got worse – to the point where my wife had to take baby home early. I stayed with one of our kids, and we had a good time.
On the way home, we drove through Rocky Mountain National Park. I was already congested, but the pressure was too much, because I developed an ear infection. I got antibiotics for it and am on the mend now.
My biggest concern was whether I would still be able to run the Sunrise Stampede 10k today or not, but I felt well enough to go for it, and I heard that the rule with running when sick is “the neck rule”: if it’s above the neck, you’re good to go and running might help it; if it’s in your neck or below, then don’t run because running will make it worse.
I ran the race, and I’m glad I did. I ran the 10k in 53:26, 1:35 faster than my last year’s time for this race, and 21 seconds faster than my best 10k time in training.
One of these days I’ll get below 50 minutes…
The Sunrise Stampede is a great event that is in its 32nd year. Proceeds go to support the special education department of the St. Vrain Valley School District.
White Fields Community Church was a sponsor this year, so in addition to the 8 people from church who ran the race, we had others who staffed the booth and got to meet many people, and share with them about Jesus and what God is doing at White Fields.
At the race I met someone from the community who is a reader of this blog! It’s always encouraging to have those kinds of interactions and to know that people are reading and being blessed by what is shared here.
Tomorrow morning White Fields will be having our outdoor service. The band has been preparing and I’m excited to share on the topic of the gospel: what it is, what it isn’t, and what it means for us to be gospel-centered people and a gospel-centered church.
Come on out and join us for this special service if you’re in the area!
Here’s our worship pastor, Mike Payne, with a quick video about it:
This past Saturday White Fields had our annual Easter Outreach, an Easter egg hunt and festival that we do in Roosevelt Park, right next to where our church meets at the St. Vrain Memorial Building in downtown Longmont. We had a lot of great volunteers who made the event a success both in terms of hosting a fun event for our community and sharing the message of the hope that we have because Jesus Christ died for our sins so that we can be forgiven and justified, and rose from the dead so we can have everlasting life. We estimate that 1500-1700 people attended this year.
We want to say thank you to the Longmont Times-Call and Boulder Daily Camera for covering the event once again this year. When we saw the article come out on Saturday night, we were disappointed that it failed to mention that White Fields was the sponsor and host of the event. In past coverage of the event, White Fields has always been mentioned. Several members of our church and others who attended the event wrote the Times-Call about this, and yesterday morning the editor called our church to let us know the online version of the article had been updated. We were impressed with the quick and gracious way they handled it.
Sunday morning we had two services at White Fields. We broke attendance records, we had visitors from the outreach on Saturday, and we had people respond to the gospel for the first time to become Christians.
After lunch our family (minus one who had to work) headed up to Winter Park for a family get-away. Yesterday my son and I snowboarded.
Right next to Winter Park ski area is the western portal of the Moffat Tunnel, a train tunnel built through the Continental Divide in the 1920’s. My family is actually part of this tunnel’s history: my great-grandfather worked in it as a welder during its construction and his brother died in it in a dynamite explosion.
I hope you had a great weekend celebrating Jesus’ resurrection! He is risen indeed!
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.
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.
Tight Squeeze into the “Hidden Room”
The “Hidden Room”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.