Friday, September 29, 2006

Monday, September 25, 2006

Pictures from the Grand Canyon State

Here are a few photos from our week in Arizona. We stayed in Flagstaff (Luke AFB recreation area) and got to the Canyon twice, once by train. On the drive back to New Mexico we stopped at the Petrified National Forest and the Painted Desert.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Off to the Grand Canyon

I fell out of my normal posting rhythm last week while fighting a bug in Seattle and preparing for a Sunday school class. Posts will be sporadic this week, too, while the Baileys enjoy a first visit to the Grand Canyon. The weather forecast looks like we'll be there just before the snow season starts!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Reason #429 why I love Kristin

All her life Kristin has had a heart for missions in Africa. I love that I have to reign her back and speak patience on this (usually it's the other way around). Due to her Type 1 diabetes she's always been told she can't go. By the way, she also has always been told that she could never have response to that I quote Isaiah with a hearty, "ha HA!"

We are missionaries wherever we are. I'm currently in Seattle and had dinner tonight with a group of large-salaried corporate folks. I'm to be a ambassador for Christ to them, but all they wanted to talk about is getting another drink and toys that I could never afford.

I'm trying to understand the difference between these rich Seattle folks and the dirt poor Africa ones. Seattle has good churches, the Bible in their own language, other Christians to reach them, and very few physical needs. It's the opposite where Kristin wants to be. Orphans are on her heart. Kristin's health is on mine. God has given me an awesome wife and I'd like her to be around as long as possible.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Called to be the scum of the world

"For to _____ to live is Christ" (Phil 1:21). Dare we plug our name in that blank with uncrossed fingers? Is Paul's lifestyle normative for us or not? He was a spectacle to the world, a fool, weak, and held in disrepute (1 Cor 4:9-10). And when he says "imitate me" (vs 16) we receive a divine call to become the "scum of the world" (vs 13), loving our enemies, rejoicing in suffering, serving the least of these, plucking out what leads us to sin, loving Christ more than anyone or anything.

Borrowing a question from this month's Tabletalk, "if you are following Jesus and indwelled by the third person of the Trinity, how can your life not be radical? If the demands of Jesus are so extraordinary, and if you have God inside of you, how come you live such ordinary lives?"

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A map for young men questioning their career

Many men I know, especially those early in a career, struggle with job contentment. I have too, but with time I may have gotten a couple blocks farther down that road. A map of how I've learned contentment may be beneficial for those a little behind.

Understand the difference between seeking excellence and seeking glory; the first is your duty, the second is wrong-headed. If you are striving to make a certain rank or position in the company; this may be a pursuit of glory rather than excellence. Col 3:23 speaks of working heartily in whatever you do. So we are not to be mediocre at our work, but excellent. We trust God for things like promotions, assignments, etc.

Second, I consider myself a tentmaker. My career is only part of my identity and serves to provide for my family, neighbors (i.e. defense of the nation) and church. It also provides access to a ripe mission field. Family and church are also my vocations, and they have non-negotiable responsibilities that must not be neglected. Since my job is only one of my vocations I should not expect it to provide complete satisfaction. But when I work diligently at each of my vocations then I enjoy contentment.

Others write more and better about vocation than I do. Martin Luther's revolutionary teachings on this are ably and accessibly communicated in this book by Gene Edward Veith of WORLD magazine and Patrick Henry College.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Labor Day Weekend Hikes

I got in two hikes over a long weekend; one in the Sandias (here in Albuquerque) and the other in the Jemez area south of Santa Fe.

The first set of pictures are from our Sandia climb. If you look close in this photo you can see a nice size prairie rattlesnake that scurried off the trail as we approached and rattled until we passed.

I took this shot of my co-workers 2-miles up on a pedestal at the crest.

This set of pictures is from the Tent Rocks hike in the Jemez mountains. The slot canyon was our favorite part of the trail.

Monday, September 04, 2006

"Wonderful naked guys"...funny things my kids say

Last night during family worship Kristin and I were tickled by Grace's and Isaiah's responses to questions I posed them in all seriousness.

I described to the children a field in which was hidden a pearl of great price. They could either walk past this field because they had others things to do or instead stop what they were doing and focus on finding this most valuable jewel. In the context of family worship and Scripture reading I thought it would be clear that I was describing the importance of listening to the reading of the Gospel. So when I asked the children if they were going to hunt for that pearl tonight, Grace surprised me by forcefully declaring, "NO! My treasure is in heaven; I'm NOT going to look for any jewels on earth!"

A little later in family worship I repeated a question my pastor asked during the sermon that morning. If you only had 5 minutes left to live and all the most important people in your life around you, what would you say to them? Eli and Grace answered as intended, mentioning the Gospel, Jesus, etc. I came to Isaiah for his answer, which was simply, "Goodbye!"

The title of this post comes from today's family hike through the Tent Rocks canyon. As we were making our way back down the trail, which winds through a wonderful slot canyon, another couple was coming up the narrow passageway. The man was bounding up the trail and from Isaiah's height he could only see his upper half, which was "skins." Intrigued, Isaiah loudly blurted out, "Oh, look naked men!" And then as the man came fully in view (and with his girlfriend giggling), Isaiah saw that he was not really naked and so corrected himself loudly, "He has pants! Wonderful!"

I gotta get rid of that shirt with Grant's picture on it!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A simple way to pray

Kristin's father recommended a short book on prayer; it's A Simple Way to Pray which centers on the 34-page letter Martin Luther wrote to his longtime friend and barber on prayer.

Luther was pivotal in reforming prayer, which in his time was largely stale, heartless repetition. He showed how prayer is to be a Word-centered conversation with God by taking the Ten Commandments one day, a Psalm, the Creed, or the Lord's Prayer the next day and use them as flint and steel to kindle a flame in his heart. He would first consider the instruction in each line of these texts and then express his thankfulness to God for giving us such gracious direction to live by. He would then confess that he has sinned against this commandment his whole life in thought, word and action. Lastly, he would petition God with particulars and give every argument he could think of to move God to fulfill his wish concerning this text.

In the midst of such thoughts if the Spirit began to preach in his heart he would honor Him by letting go of this prayer plan; he would then be still and listen to Him. But as Dietrich Bohnhoffer, another famous German Lutheran, has said, "Oh how rare it is to find a soul quiet enough to hear God speak!"