Monday, October 22, 2007

Who's Number One in Heaven?

An Email Exchange with a Friend

I've obviously moved blogging down on my list of priorities. I'm a husband, dad, pastor, and friend before I'm a blogger, so what I'm going to have to do is relegate blogging to those leftover corners of my life and write only as the occasion presents itself.

That said, I received an email this morning from one of the high school students at our church following up on a conversation he and I had after my sermon yesterday. He asked:

Stated bluntly, will there be any one person that will be rewarded as the "best" Christian or the like in heaven? I've heard people support or allude to this concept in many places, and it seems to be at least slightly supported by 1 Cor 9:24, which is still confusing me. I don't know if you've ever heard people talk about the whole idea of "everyone's cup running over in heaven, but some people having bigger cups" or something of that sort, but I'd appreciate any insight into it you can give me.

Thanks for discussing this with me!

I answered:
Sure, I'm happy to discuss these things with you. And please understand that I'm a learner along with you. Where the Scriptures are perfectly clear, we can both have certainty. Where they are less clear, we have room to come to our own understanding. I think this issue of rewards or "the best" in heaven is probably one of those latter areas, although we do have some data here and there in the Bible to guide our thinking.

Our labors for Christ are definitely recognized in heaven. Rewards are promised. But ultimately, I understand all of the rewards to be centered on God's glory rather than ours. In other words, the rewards must come to us in such a way that they highlight His grace rather than our own strength or self-sacrifice or spiritual success or whatever.

Notice, for example, that Paul never says "thank you" to anyone directly. He always says "I thank God for you..." or something similar (cf. Rom 1:8, 1 Cor 1:14, 1 Cor 14:18, Phil 1:3, Col 1:3, 1 Thes 2:13, 1 Tim 1:12, 2 Tim 1:3, Philemon 1:4). That’s a subtle difference but a telling one, I think. It's a way of offering praise that doesn't terminate on the person but goes all the way up to God. Why does he do that? I assume it's because Paul recognizes that 1) all praise belongs to God and 2) all the qualities that he is thankful for in these people ultimately come from God. In other words, this is an example of a verbal reward that ultimately brings praise to God rather than to people. They do get thanked, but in a way that emphasizes God's greatness and not their own.

But the question lingers... is there anything about heaven's rewards that actually enhances our own life or reputation? Is there anything meaningful and personal in it for me? I would say "yes" but I would still frame the reward up in a way that ultimately centers on God Himself. Here's how I look at it...

The ultimate good of heaven is God Himself. He's what makes it paradise. If we lost all the streets of gold, the pearly gates, the tree of life, the reunions with loved ones, etc., heaven would still be heaven as long as HE was there. But if He left, all of those other great features would not matter. In other words, being with Him is what makes eternity so awesome for a Christian. In this sense, HE is the ultimate reward.

But how then does one Christian get a better reward than any other Christian? If we all get to be with God, what's the sense in striving to be "the best," as you put it? I would suggest that though we all will be with God forever, some of us will experience Him more deeply and more fully than others will. It's not that He Himself is any different from one person to the next; it's just that each person's CAPACITY to enjoy and experience Him is different.

Analogies exist in this life right now. For example, if you and I were to attend a computer show together, we could see the same presentations, try out the same new software and hardware, hear the same previews of new technology, etc. I like technology, and I have a decent grasp of what it can do. But because you are so much more versed in computers than I am, your appreciation of the whole show would be much greater than mine. You would have a much greater understanding of the programming skill it took to come up with some of this stuff. You would be able to grasp ramifications and uses for new technology much more quickly than I. Overall, the computer show itself hasn't changed at all, but your experience of it would be so much greater than mine because you are much more knowledgeable and skillful in that area than I am.

It applies to just about all areas of life. You might picture it like little storage boxes in our heart and mind with little labels on them: "Computers," "Music," "Sports," etc. The more experience and knowledge you have in each area, the bigger your storage box gets. Ultimately, when you have a new experience in some category, the bigger your box is, the more of that experience you can take in and enjoy. Objectively, it’s the same experience for everybody, but subjectively each person's appreciation of it differs based on the size of their internal box.

Same with heaven... those who have given their whole life to serving and knowing Christ will get to heaven and enjoy God SO much more deeply than others, not because God is different from person to person but because the way they lived their life has given them a much bigger "God box" than other people have and so they can take in much more of Him than others can. This understanding of rewards fits together three things: 1) each person gets rewarded based upon how he/she lived, 2) the reward is still very satisfying to us personally, and 3) the reward brings glory to God since He Himself is the ultimate object of our satisfaction.

That's how I see it anyway. What do you think?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Waiting... [updated]

RE: Ordinary People Making Extraordinary Claims

I have a flurry of new posts I'll probably put up on the blog tonight... posts I wrote earlier this week but I've been saving in the hope that I'll get a few more comments on my question from Friday.
[UPDATE: This has been done, but they are all postdated to the day I originally wrote them. Check 'em out below. 11:29 PM MST]

Special thanks to everybody who has commented thus far. It's been helpful for me to think through your answers as I try to formulate my own. I'm not sure I'm there yet, but I'm going to posit my answer tomorrow.

So... what would YOU say if a skeptic of Christianity asked you: "If your Christ has not succeeded in making you better men and women, have we any reason to suppose that he would do more for us, if we became Christians?"

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bedtime Stories and the Bible

Why Christianity Requires Storytelling

One night when I was putting my boys to bed in their little one-room barracks (4 boys + 2 sets of bunk beds + 1 dresser = huge mess), I heard the inevitable plea: “Dad, would you tell us a story, PLEASE?” It had pretty much become part of our bedtime routine: lights out, prayer, kisses, story. Usually, it took me a minute or two to work one up because they didn’t want just any old story. They wanted a “Grandma and Grandpa Story”—a story about my life as a kid, complete with appearances by my brother and sisters, our various pets, the places we grew up, and on and on. It had to be true, and it had to be new.

Apparently I had fallen into a boring and predictable opening for my G&G stories, but only one of my boys noticed it: our four-year-old jokester, Braidin. But he didn’t just come right out and tell me I was getting dull. Instead, on this particular night when someone asked, “Dad, would you please tell us a story?”, his quick little wit went into action. Before I could launch into my latest and greatest tale, he butted in and, lowering his voice like mine, he began with my predictable line: “Well, one time…”

He stopped right there, but the other boys were already giggling and wiggling under their blankets. Of course, I laughed, too, appreciating both his keen observation and his comical style. He was funny, and in his own little way, he was making a good point: “boring” and “story” shouldn’t go together.

Everybody loves a good story. Postmodernism, with its schmaltzy enthusiasm for “narratives” over against propositions, hasn’t stumbled upon anything new or profound here. People have always been this way. No matter where or when they live(d), people of all ages love stories. Yesterday I picked up three new books at the library—all fiction. Why? Because I, too, love a good story.

I’m pondering storytelling for a couple reasons. First, I’m having a very hard time preaching these days. We are studying through the book of Acts at our church, and I’m finding it very tough to write good sermons on the great stories in this book. I think a major part of the problem is my badly conceived notion that a sound, expositional sermon has to frame up the text in a number of distinct propositions that make a nice outline. “Point one: Jesus sees the lame man. Point two: Jesus speaks to the lame man. Point three: Jesus heals the lame man. Conclusion: A poem about lameness.” How lame. (This isn't a real outline of mine, but the point is I need some help badly!)

I bought four books today about how to preach narratives. Hopefully, help is on the way! I need to get this figured out, because well over half of God’s word has been revealed in narrative form. Theological storytelling is what it is really, and I believe it calls for a type of preaching that honors the form in which it was originally given. God could have revealed all our theology in abstractions like an encyclopedia of systematic theology, but He didn’t. I think good preaching will honor that, not only in how the passage is interpreted but also in how it is presented. That’s my theory anyway; I just need help working it out practically.

The other reason I’m interested in storytelling right now is that I’m seeing more and more how the whole Bible is one big story. One conflict: sin ruined God’s good creation. One plot: God redeems a people for Himself. One Hero: Jesus Christ. One resolution: the cross.

In other words, the Bible isn’t a collection of nice little tales about heroic feats and noble characters. It’s not like Aesop’s Fables—a bunch of random stories each with a helpful little moral at the end. No, the Bible tells one unified Story—the Story of redemption. Sometimes the Bible’s main Story develops in a straight line, as new details are revealed and the plot slowly moves forward. And sometimes the Bible’s main Story moves in a circle, retelling the same plot with foreshadowing or typology.

Many narratives in the Bible actually do both: they move the main Story’s plot forward (in a line) and rehearse its basic features (in a circle) at the same time. For example, the story of David defeating Goliath does both: it shows us a little bit more of what Jesus will be like in the person of David (moving the Story along a line), and it also retells the main Story where God’s people are delivered from their enemy by a single Champion (moving the Story around a circle). It adds to the Story and retells the Story at the same time.

If this is all just a bunch of mumbo-jumbo to you, I’ll try to clear it up by offering this excellent analogy from professor Bruce Waltke:

The Rainbow Bridge spanning Niagara Falls began as a kite. Those building the bridge flew a kite across the majestic waterway, until it came down on the other side of the gorge, linking the two sides with a thin string. Using the string, its builders pulled strings, then ropes, and eventually steel girders across the gorge. The more the bridge changed, the more it became what it was always meant to be.

The kite string represents, you might say, Genesis’ description of salvation, while the rest of Scripture represents the developing bridge—first strings, then ropes, then steel girders.

So, I hope you’ll learn to approach the Bible as one great story, THE great story, the Classic of all classics. And if you tend to shy away from fiction as somehow less spiritual than theology, let me encourage you to reconsider. Read good stories. Tell great stories.

I believe we love stories because we were hard-wired by God that way. He put a love for stories within us because He Himself is the Great Storyteller, the Master Author who wrote the ultimate Story, the Creator who designed us in such a way that we cannot help but be captivated and changed by the greatest Story ever told.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Dessert Discipleship

How Ice Cream and Good Questions Help My Parenting

I love being a dad. My kids are one of the clearest ways God has shown His lavish kindness and blessing to me. Now please understand, Aundrea and I have five children—four boys and a girl—so you can be sure that having kids doesn’t always make us feel lavishly loved and blessed by God! Sometimes it’s pretty rough going, but we know by faith (cf. Ps 127:3) and by experience that children are a gift and parenting is a privilege.

About once a week I take one of my sons out for ice cream after supper. We usually head over to Carl’s Jr. or McDonalds, where we get a booth and just hang out for 45 minutes or so. It gives me a chance to affirm my love for them verbally and nonverbally, to praise them for areas of growth Aundrea and I have seen in their life, to talk with them about concerns we have about their character and behavior, to ask them about their relationship with us and with the Lord, to counsel them about significant issues in a young boy’s life (like choosing friends, honoring girls, respecting adults, working hard in school, etc.), and just to make sure we’re still connected as father and son. I think it’s an important habit even with our three-year-old, because even though my discussions with him don’t get much deeper than how cool it is that hot fudge sundaes can be both hot and cold at the same time, we are forming the habit of talking one-on-one on a regular basis; and I think that is going to be a really crucial foundation for us when he’s older and we really do have some important things to discuss.

I want to make these little chats as meaningful as they can be for my boys, so I’m always looking for tips and ideas. Last weekend at the DG Conference, John Piper mentioned a list of questions for drawing out your kids and shepherding their heart. The list was originally developed by Rick Gamache, a friend of Piper’s who also pastors in the Minneapolis area. Here’s the list, for those interested:

• How are your devotions?
• What is God teaching you?
• In your own words, what is the gospel?
• Is there a specific sin you’re aware of that you need my help defeating?
• Are you more aware of my encouragement or my criticism?
• What’s daddy most passionate about?
• Do I act the same at church as I do when I’m at home?
• Are you aware of my love for you?
• Is there any way I’ve sinned against you that I’ve not repented of?
• Do you have any observations for me?
• How am I doing as a dad?
• How have Sunday’s sermons impacted you?
• Does my relationship with mom make you excited to be married?

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Monday Quotables

From Mark Dever's The Gospel & Personal Evangelism

"I think many times we don't evangelize because we undertake everything in our own power. We attempt to leave God out of it. We forget that it is his will and pleasure for his gospel to be known. He wants sinners saved." (p 24)

"We share the gospel because we love people. And we don't share the gospel because we don't love people. Instead, we wrongly fear them. ...We protect our pride at the cost of their souls." (p 27)

"When we don't sufficiently consider what God has done for us in Christ—the high cost of it, what it means, and what Christ’s significance is—we lose the heart to evangelize.” (p 28)

“The good news is that the one and only God, who is holy, made us in his image to know him. But we sinned and cut ourselves off from him. In his great love, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law himself and taking on himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever turn and trust in him. He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us had been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness. If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.
“Now that’s good news.” (p 43)

“The love that the New Testament community of believers shared is presented as an integral part of their witness to the world, as we see in John 13:34-35. …In fact, the outworking of faith through the community of a local church seems to be Jesus’ most basic evangelism plan.” (p 50)

“It’s not manipulative or insensitive to bring up the urgent nature of salvation. It’s simply the truth. The time of opportunity will end.” (p 58)

“Clarity with the claims of Christ certainly will include the translation of the gospel into words that our hearer understands, but it doesn’t necessarily mean translating it into words that our hearer will like.” (p 64)

“It is important to remember that the message you are sharing is not merely an opinion but a fact. That’s why sharing the gospel can’t be called an imposition, any more than a pilot can impose his belief on all his passengers that the runway is here and not there.” (p 70)

“An account of a changed life is a wonderful and inspiring thing, but it’s the gospel of Jesus Christ that explains what it’s all about and how it happened. And it's the gospel that turns sharing a testimony into evangelism.” (p 73)

“We don’t fail in our evangelism if we faithfully tell the gospel to someone who is not converted; we fail only when we don’t faithfully tell the gospel at all.” (pp 81-82)

“As we so experience the gospel, we find ourselves loving others more, and we want to share this good news with them.” (p 100)

“Ultimately, our motive in evangelism must be a desire to see God glorified.” (p 101)

“As one Puritan said, ‘Outside of Christ, God is terrible.’” (p 103)

“You and I aren’t called to use our extensive powers to convict and change the sinner while God stands back as a gentleman, quietly waiting for the spiritual corpse, his declared spiritual enemy, to invite God into his heart. Rather, we should resolve to preach the gospel like gentlemen, persuading while knowing we can’t regenerate anyone, and then stand back while God uses all his extensive powers to convict and change the sinner.” (p 109)

“When the message of the cross captures your heart, then your tongue—stammering, halting, insulting, awkward, sarcastic, and imperfect as it may be—won’t be far behind. As Jesus said, ‘Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks’ (Matt. 12:34).” (p 112)

In an appendix to pastors at the end: “Certainly, we pastors sacrifice personal opportunities to do evangelism when we work full-time in ministry. We are, in a sense, willing to be pulled behind the front lines in order to equip others. We realize the front lines of the contest, the ‘skin’ of the church, if you will, is represented by the members of the local congregation after they leave church on Sunday. It is then, throughout the week, that the church presses in on the kingdom of darkness as believers live out their callings around hundreds or even thousands of non-Christians each week. It is our task as pastors to lead all believers in accepting, embracing, and using the opportunities that God richly gives them. In all of this, we should work not so much merely to implement programs as to create a culture in our church. We want our congregations to be marked by a culture of evangelism. In order to do that, we are going to have to watch how many nights we encourage our members to be doing some program at church. We must give our members time to develop friendships with non-Christians.” (p 118)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Ordinary People Making Extraordinary Claims

What Is a Real Christian?

A while back I was troubled to read a certain exchange between a Christian missionary and a Hindu. The Hindu complained: "You Christians seem to us Hindus rather ordinary people making extraordinary claims."

When the missionary replied that the extraordinary claims are made about Christ, not about us, the Hindu replied: "If your Christ has not succeeded in making you better men and women, have we any reason to suppose that he would do more for us, if we became Christians?"


My original plan with this post was to launch off into a discussion of the essence of real Christianity. Is it just about being made "better men and women"? Is that the heart of our faith, the irreducible minimum of what it means to be a follower of Jesus of Nazareth?

But instead of pontificating away and pretending like I've got it all figured out and you need to learn from me, I think I'm going to leave the question unanswered. It will be far more thought provoking for all of us that way.

I'm going to take some more time and just ponder. I'd love it if you'd think along with me, reflect a little bit about your own life, and consider some ways this Hindu's comment is about you. And I'd really love it if you'd leave a response in the comments section about how you would answer this criticism that Christians are just ordinary people making extraordinary claims.

Come on, be brave! Leave your first comment EVER on a blog right here, right now, today!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Being Relevant

Why “New” Just Doesn’t Cut It

“I have always loved this particular hymn [‘Fairest Lord Jesus’], and though written in 1677, its message is still relevant today.”

I balked when I read those words in the booklet of a recently released hymns CD. What is it about our Christian culture that equates “new” with “relevant”? Just listen to the voices in the Christian market. We are obsessed with everything novel, fresh, different, innovative, and original. The ads, the local church promotions, the programs… Last week I heard a Christian radio DJ gush: “Coming up next, a sizzling set of hot new releases so fresh, they will rock your world for Jesus.” *yawn*

The conference Aundrea and I attended last weekend reminded me once again that relevant isn’t always new. Helen Roseveare is 82. Jerry Bridges is 77. John MacArthur is 68. John Piper is 61. In my assessment, the relevance of each speaker’s talk increased in proportion to their age. Perhaps we should suspect that the newer a thing is, the more risk it has of being irrelevant.

Reminds me of a book by Os Guinness I read a couple years ago: Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance. Just three pages into the Introduction, he writes:

After two hundred years of earnest dedication to reinventing the faith and the church and to being more relevant in the world, we are confronted by an embarrassing fact: Never have Christians pursued relevance more strenuously; never have Christians been more irrelevant.

Ouch! Tough words. But if newness isn’t the answer, what is?

Guinness isn’t just a stone-throwing critic. He’s also a man who deeply loves the church and wants to offer remedies, too. He answers the question of how to find relevance with one word: faithfulness.
By our uncritical pursuit of relevance we have actually courted irrelevance; by our breathless chase after relevance without a matching commitment to faithfulness, we have become not only unfaithful but irrelevant; by our determined efforts to redefine ourselves in ways that are more compelling to the modern world than are faithful to Christ, we have lost not only our identity but our authority and our relevance. Our crying need is to be faithful as well as relevant.
In context, he is talking specifically about faithfulness to the gospel message. In other words, redefining and recasting the gospel in new and “relevant” ways is not the key. Relevance is not found by emphasizing those elements of the gospel that resonate with the culture and then excluding the rest—for example, making Jesus out to be the missing ingredient to a life of peace, joy, and prosperity and neglecting to mention that He demands repentance and He promises suffering.

It’s hopeless for us to try to sound relevant by singing a little harmony to the world’s same old melody. But that’s exactly what we do when we try to make Jesus the answer to a godless person’s same old idolatrous pursuits. When we reduce the gospel to “Want happiness? Try Jesus,” we’ve basically paraphrased every single product ad on the market. We’ve just swapped Jesus in for cosmetic surgery or a new condo.

How about if we offer them new goals entirely? A whole new paradigm to live from? A paradigm where they live for God rather than self, motivated by His grace rather than by their emptiness or guilt, and pursuing His awesome goals rather than their trivial ones.

Only the real, whole, unedited, unadulterated, unmodified, old school message of the gospel offers people something that relevant.

The gospel is relevant because it tunes people in to a Person bigger than themselves, and everybody longs to get themselves around true greatness. The gospel says, “It’s not all about you. It’s about God.”

It’s relevant because it turns people on to a cause bigger than their own happiness, namely, the unstoppable advance of God’s eternal kingdom on this earth; and everybody longs to live for something truly meaningful. The gospel says, “Forget your pitiful attempts at empire building, and come live for a cause that even hell can’t stop and even eternity won’t erase.”

It’s relevant because it confirms that haunting sense that we are not what we should be—it tells us we are sinful rebels against our Creator King. The gospel says, “Those whispers you hear inside are correct; you are guilty.”

It’s relevant because it assures us that our Creator King freely offers amnesty to all His rebellious subjects who will turn from their sin and flee to Him for mercy. The gospel says, “Full forgiveness, a clean conscience, and peace with your King can be yours… for free.”

And it’s relevant because it explains how the laws of the universe have not been violated by this stunning offer of forgiveness, but instead God’s justice was satisfied in the death of His Son so that His mercy can flow to His blood-bought children. The gospel says, “God’s wrath against you was fully spent, not withheld, but on His Son instead of upon you.”

Is it new? Nope. Been around for several thousand years. It’s just the old, old story that (as Mark Driscoll puts it) people suck, but God saves us from ourselves. And you can’t get much more relevant than that!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Power of an Indestructible Life

A Meditation on Hebrews 7:16

This verse has captivated me for a long time. The paragraphs around it aren't easy reading, but they aren't total misers with their spiritual treasure either. They will yield and yield richly, if you read and think and pray long enough.

The subject in view is the priesthood, those men who mediated between God and His people. Granted, it's not exactly a common topic in our culture, but the point is still very relevant: namely, if we have any sense of God's transcendence, we innately sense the need for help when we have to deal with Him. Mysterious things can be attractive and intriguing, but when they possess awesome power and present potential danger, they can be very frightening. It's very nice to know we have a representative, an advocate, a defense lawyer, if you will.

And when it comes to priests, Jesus is the best of the best.

Here's the writer's argument in a nutshell: He points out that Jesus is from the tribe of Judah, which is an aberration on the Old Testament pattern: Levi was the tribe of the priests, not Judah (7:13-14). But that's OK, because Jesus is from a different order of priests. He doesn't follow Levi; he follows a guy called Melchizedek (7:11-12, 15-16). The writer of Hebrews finds it very significant that Melchizedek has no recorded birth or death—he just appears out of nowhere like an immortal (7:3). (More on that in a moment.)

I just love the wording of verse 16, where the writer brings his point home:

Jesus has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent [like the Levitical priesthood], but by the power of an indestructible life.
Like Melchizedek, our Priest had no beginning or end, but the writer uses this great language to convey that image: "the power of an indestructible life"!

In other words, when it comes to priests, Jesus is the best of the best. What an awesome Christ!

Hebrews 7 conjures up in my mind some sort of tryouts or a kind of "Priestly Application Station." I have this picture in my mind of some sort of check-in area with a booth, a sign-in register, a guy behind the counter, and stuff like that. All these men are coming in and signing up to be priests: "Yeah, I'm here to sign up..." "Descendant of Levi?" "Yep." "Sign in below and take a number, please."

Then Jesus walks up: "I'm here."
"Family of Levi?"
"I'm sorry, sir. Priests must be from the family of Levi."
"Oh, I'm not here for that line of priests. I'm here to sign up with the immortal, eternal ones. The ones like Melchizedek. Some Roman soldiers slaughtered me three days ago, but I'm back."
"Uhhh... How's that again?"
"I can't die. They tried to kill me, but my life is indestructible."
Long pause. "Thank you, sir."
Turning to the rest of the room: "You all can return home. The priesthood isn't accepting any more applications. We have the One we need, thank you."

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Unrelated Thoughts of Debatable Coherence

I thought about shutting down the blog today, but my wife talked me out of it. One of the effects of last weekend's conference was to cause me to examine how I am using my time. I judge blogging to be of low relative value; she judges it to be high. She wins. I blog on.

Speaking of blogging and last weekend's conference, I'm intending to do a "Monday Quotables" of lines that caught my attention - verbal incendiary bombs, if you will. Stay tuned.

Still speaking of the conference, it was very encouraging to see former classmates from college (and even two from high school) there. It caused me to reflect on what a work of grace God has done among my friends. It's amazing and wonderful to me that so many of my classmates are still walking with the Lord and serving Him faithfully.

We're heading up into the mountains again later this week. A couple friends are visiting, and we're going to show 'em a good time, Colorado style!

Speaking of little ventures into The Wild, I posted some new pictures of our last trip in the post from a few weeks ago. Check 'em out! ...and then get yourself some plane tickets out here for your own visit!

Still speaking of our last visit to the mountains, here's another picture. Although I refuse to turn this blog into a family photo album (not that I have anything against blogs like that - this just isn't that kind of blog!), I can't help but post this one of me and my precious little girl. We were hiking along a trail at an elevation of 12,000', and it was pretty cold and windy so I tucked her inside my coat and zipped her in. Must have been pretty comfy in there, because she fell right asleep and dozed all the way up and back! Special thanks to the friendly photographer we met along the way who snapped this picture (and the ones I added to that other post below).

The sky is incredibly clear here today. Because our church building is perched atop a sizeable hill, I can see the mountains all the way from the Fort Collins area in the north nearly to Pueblo in the south - around 175 miles. It's stunning. Did I already say something about plane tickets and a visit?

My son got his stitches out yesterday. We're working hard to keep his forehead from scarring (no scratching, daily applications of Vitamin E oil, etc.), but it occurred to me today that he might grow up looking a bit like Harry Potter. That's cool with me, as long as the resemblance ends right there.

Earlier today I sent my wife a text saying, "Callify me when you canify." Weird, I know, but at the time of the text I was working over a memory from my college days. Student Activities Director Rich Akins pointed out to me that you can turn any noun into a verb - and sound rather intellectual in the process - by adding "-ify" or "-ize" to it.

"Honey, would you please bagify my lunch?"
"This room is dark. We'd better chandelierize it."
"Someday I'd like to bookify all these great thoughts of mine."