Snow in the Mountains… Joy in my heart!

Day four and the end of my brief RoadTrip Revival.

I woke up in Alamosa Colorado… on the road at five am for a 2:30 pm out of Denver International.  Dark and cold, 13F and still as stone. Alamosa sits in a high arid mountain valley southwest of Great Sand Dunes NP.  Driving in the dark pre-sunrise was a cold and lonely moment for me. Saying goodbye is always hard. I prayed as I drove, afraid the ‘special’ moments I’d shared with God would dissipate as soon as I left the mountains and returned to ‘real life’.

As I drove North… I was praying and sipping hot coffee, occasionally snacking on wheat thins and dodging a few mule deer on the highway. Gradually as I rode silently in the darkness… I noticed the warm glow growing on my right horizon (east)

Sunrise over the Sangre de Cristo’s

It was framed by the Sangre De Cristos (Southern Extension of the Rockies) and the peaks formed a beautiful silhouette of stone and sky.  I slowed the car. This was worth seeing… another moment to savor. It took about 30 minutes to expand from a glow to bright light and sunrise. Spectacular!

I was grateful for the clear and cool skies, as the stars winked out overhead, the horizon grew into a display of golden orange. I could sense the symbolism in front of me… dawn was coming. The dark cold of night was fading… life and light were coming to illuminate the world again. 

The Promise of a New Day.

I reluctantly stopped snapping pictures and drove on to the North. Passing under the shadow of the Collegiate Peaks and the tourist town of Buena Vista, onto the legendary hi-country of Leadville CO. Here there was snow… about four inches of fresh dry powder. The temps were hovering at 10F and the early morning air was as still as my heart.

Leadville is one of the highest (10, 150 Ft) towns in Colorado (and the United States) … a historic mining town reinvented into a year round outdoor mecca for the enthusiastic among us. Its old west downtown and rambling Victorian homes makes for an eclectic sight as I drove, fresh snow padding silently underneath.

Heading North on Hwy 91

 

I kept heading north taking Highway 91 to join up with the masses and US Interstate 70 at Copper Mountain.  I was winding down. The trip was almost done, and once I hit the Interstate it would effectively be over. The two lane isolation would be gone as the four to six lanes of eighteen wheelers and minivans would crowd the pavement all the way to Denver and my flight home.

I was certain the intimacy and solitude I felt would soon vanish in the rush of speed and sound that was ‘real life’. 

Meanwhile I had some snow to deal with. The four inches in Leadville was now six or seven inches, and the roads had been plowed, but were 100% ice and snow pack, with sharp turns and steep grades up and down. I wound my way… slowly… through the twisting forest and saw the pristine beauty open up before me. As I drove, we gained altitude… crossing over the noticeably thin air of 11,318 foot Fremont Pass.

Passing through Fremont Pass into Summit County CO.

The snow was well over a foot deep now, and the mountains and forests looked like a scene out of Narnia. A gorgeous blue sky framed the wisps of clouds as they floated so close over my sunroof. The day was as perfect as I could have ever wished for… like a grand farewell. 

I teared up as I drove… wondering if this was all just in my head. Was this surprise storm in the night just God’s way of saying ‘goodbye’? Was it simply a matter of me being in the right place at the right time… a straight up coincidence of schedule and opportunity. No way to know for sure. I chose to believe it was more than that. I took it as one more sign of God’s love and extravagant detail for my little roadtrip revival.

The scene got more and more beautiful as I descended into Summit County Colorado. Fresh snow lay as thick as a blanket over every surface. No grey, only pristine white contrasting with the ever-green of forest and the indescribable blue of high country sky. I could feel the presence of God hugging my heart as I drove down the valley into the glory of creation, a warm reminder of the special time I had just shared. The perfect send-off if there ever was one.

It had snowed in mountains and I had joy in my heart. That was the lasting imprint on my memory. I still see it today…

It’s been two weeks since I drove those roads. God’s intimate presence and the ‘stillness’ in my heart remains.

Pastor B.

PS – My  prayer for you… take your own roadtrip. Ask God for a revival in your heart. Dump your electronics and distractions for at least 2 days… be quiet. Learn to listen… don’t fill your day or your mind with ‘stuff’. Just explore… stay in a day long conversation with “Papa’. He’s been waiting.

 

 

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Just one more step…

Climbing a mountain will cost you...

If you use logic…it’s absurd really. To devote a perfectly good day to leave the comfort and safety of your home or hotel to risk your life and limb to walk with a heavy bag on your back. To willingly surrender 24-48 hours of your life for no other purpose but to exhaust yourself and waste a valuable chance to catch up on some real ‘work’ on your garage or lawn.

It’s not something you do casually. Takes time to train, plan, and prepare. There’s the weather to consider, supplies to purchase, gear to get. You need a partner to walk with and the freedom in your schedule to go find a mountain, acclimate your lungs and then actually do a 7 or 8 hour hike to the top.

Even if you do go to the trouble to prep for and arrive at a mountain trail… it will take a supreme effort of will to push yourself past the first three hours of freezing night-time (3 am departure) hiking. Often necessary to make the summit in time to beat the thunderstorm and lightening risk of a summer afternoon at high altitude. DSC_0307

If you manage to make it past sunrise and keep going up… the battle of will begins.

Mind shrieking at you to just slow down… rest. STOP! Legs and lungs stretched and wheezing to the limit. The goal of reaching the peak lost in the haze of fir and forest obscuring your view, roots and rocks have turned your ankles a dozen times and tripped your extra firm hiking boots even more often.

The lead that seems to be buried in your backpack has been gaining weight with each mile as the available O2 has evaporated somewhere…and you’re wondering if you really needed all that stuff you brought. With growing anxiety you start to notice the new sounds and smells on the air, listening for wild animals or bears…half hoping, half dreading you’re going to find them.

The ground starts to get steeper and your feet heavier as you push past breakfast to late morning. The rocks are now getting much bigger, huge slabs sheared off the cliff face nearby, interrupted by streams of runoff and fields of little round flat rocks, like tiles from a roof piled as deep as your waist on the side of the trail….remnants of last winter and the natural slides of snow and rock lay across your trail. Slick and unsteady, shale making for even slower progress as your lungs shrink in the upper atmosphere and your worn out legs go as soft & rubbery as hot plastic.

It’s about then that you seriously consider turning back. Mind games playing tricks on you… maybe the trails blocked ahead anyway. The weather looks bad. How much further could it be, have their been any recent bear attacks on this trail ?

It’s all you can do to just put one foot in front of another.… face down, shoulder’s chaffing from the straps biting into your back, your hot, sweaty, sticky and cold. Wind and sun making you feel every extreme of temperature and climate as you go. 

It’s crazy to climb a mountain. Crazy to dream you could do something like this…

The old calf muscle injury is screaming at you to slow down, your trick knee is flame. The shirt under your fleece pullover is soaking with your sweat and your face is burning from the sting of constant wind. Your breath is gone… talking, joking, laughing is a distant memory. All you can do is wheeze, step… Wheeze and step…. lean, forward… breathe. Hold… push that pack back one more time, lift your foot, bend that knee… one next step at a time… beautiful-landscape-with-rocky-mountains-at-sunset-in-canada-jakob-radlgruber

And then the sky opens up.... like a golden blue panorama of light and crystal glory. A vista of beauty as far as your watering eyes can squint and see. The trees fade to shrub and then to delicate tundra as you notice the awe-inspiring images of brilliant almost neon bright flowers springing from the stone cracks… the outline of an eagles silent glide, the shadow of ancient snow piled deep in the corners of hidden rock.

The wind becomes firmer in your face and the air as fresh as Eden itself. Life is literally exploding around you and suddenly you feel ready to ‘run ‘ up the final quarter of a mile. No more fatigue. No more struggle… only an exuberant joy and satisfaction at having come.

The fatigue of your journey forgotten, the pain no more. Only the warmth and gratitude of seeing something extraordinary with fresh eyes. The ‘epiphany’ of the mountain top burns fresh hope and happiness through the clouds of sorrow and discouragement that hovered so near for so long.

That’s why I climb mountains. 

I see beauty and it restores me.

I feel the nearness of my God.

I sense the grandeur of life and the intricate and intimate details of creation, knowing deep in my soul that I’m a part of this endless tapestry.

But it all hinges on taking ‘one-more-step’.

I don’t know if your running out of hope for your marriage, a career, your church, yourself, or your kid… but let me encourage you to go to the ‘mountain’ of God.

Read with Him there. Find your restored self again and don’t stop taking that ‘-one-more-step”! The view ahead is going to be spectacular! I promise. 🙂

Pastor B.

 

 

Day 4… Road Trip Revival. #iShineontheroad “Attitude at Altitude!”

Rolled into Dubois WY… snagging the last 2 rooms at the local Super 8. Dusty, dry and breezy. Temps in July were pushing 100F as we drove the 2 lane ribbon across the hazy, flat, high plains of eastern Wyoming. The sun lingered slow and low in the horizon… seven, eight… almost nine pm before we saw it start to slip over the distant ridge.

The Mountains!

The Mountains!

Sweaty, tired and butt numb we felt the miles. Wall SD to Dubois WY is only about 600 miles with a short detour to Mt.Rushmore NP, but it’s a good long 12 hours of travel. We crashed early and didn’t really notice the clear cool night emerging outside our windows.

We awoke to winter.

42F at 6:30am. My breath fogging the inside of our SUV. My naked legs one giant goose-bump of frigid skin.I had to dig out one of my light fleece pull-over’s to give my body some chance at finding warmth. The shock was complete. We had gone from the blazing heat of high summer sun to COLD.

A sixty degree temperature swing in 8 hours.

We were in the mountains and I couldn’t be happier. The cool / cold morning was such a relief. Felt like a peppermint patty embrace to my summer sweat soaked brain. No humidity, No sweating, No bugs. AWESOME !

As I look around to find someone else to share my jubilant happiness with… I only saw heaps of blankets and fetal postured freezing teens huddled in the back. Chattering teeth and groans quickly deflated me.

I confidently proclaimed the cold wouldn’t last! In fact, for sure by noon it would be bright and warm again, at least 80F with gorgeous mountain summer light. We were heading up the Wind River Valley to clip the edge of Grand Teton NP and push into Yellowstone! The grandest of them all. I had no idea it would turn out to be one of the coldest days possible for July. Snow flurries and sleet would be settled in by noon and would never allow temps to rise higher than 55F.

Tough Day

Tough Day

This led to some complaint and grumbling… but no one could deny the beauty of the mountain scenes before us and we toured the iconic spaces and places (Old Faithful, Yellowstone Falls, Buffalo on the plains etc…)of our oldest and grandest NP (in lower 48) with layers of shirts and jackets wrapping our unprepared limbs. As our altitude rose over 10,000 feet, our attitudes grew a bit short and over the long day of driving and stopping, shooting selfies, and dodging the hordes of tourists… some of us got very crabby 🙂

When we drove up and over the highest pass back to our cozy Super 8 rooms…. it began to snow big time. 3-4 Inches would pile up overnight. I shivered in my hiking shorts as we drove on. Smiling at the irony of it all.

I was the only one smiling. 

Tomorrow our days adventures would change the girls forever. But before the hope of dawn… we had to get through a very dark night.

By God’s grace…. we made it. But it was a tough road to ride.

Day 5 tomorrow; a BRAND NEW DAY.

Mt. Rushmore Here we Come… RoadTrip Revival #2

Too much fun to share with just words…. so here is what it all looked and sounded like this summer!

Stay tuned for more 🙂

Passing on our Passion for Life! RoadTrip Parenting

RoadTrip passion runs deep in my heart of hearts.

moraine lake brad 08 DSC_0242[1] (2)

Pastor B at Moraine Lake, Canadian Rockies

The allure of finding the next scenic wonder, the twist of a two lane highway as it snakes past ancient pine and scarred rock, the scent of the hunt has me now…

I long for the sight of it, a glimpse of the far far away, the glory of hidden creation… ancient beauty.

I catch a hint of it in the rugged strength of a towering sequoia, in the roar of a spring time stream straining to break out of its channel, foaming -ripping its way to somewhere ‘below.

I sense the artist heart of God in the crisp bite of pre-dawn at high altitude, the clarity of a mountain vista surround by pink hues of sunrise, a valley hidden by the sea of clouds below. The sacred romance of beauty and wonder tug deeply in my heart. Whispering. THESE are the things of LIFE. The glory of God’s creation… filtered by thousands of years and a millennium of mankind’s industrial advance, it still echoes of perfection!

Exposing our kids to this much pure beauty changes everything! 

It reveals the nature of our creator’s heart, stirring us deeply as ‘awe’ dawns in the mind’s eye and we can’t help but gaze intently into the splendor of life as it was always intended to be…

RoadTrips do so much more than simply connect us to each other, they connect our heart to the possibilities of a life with our creator.

Hiking the Teton's

Hiking the Teton’s

Next week I’m taking my 18-year-old on a hiking – driving – roadtrip to the Canadian Rockies, Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP…(for his second time) of what I’m sure will be ‘many’ adventures he will have in the wilderness world.

By God’s grace I can see my faith and passion for living being passed to the next generation, one roadtrip at a time.

Peace Out!

Pastor B.

PS – for more info on my roadtrips and the mountain west, check out my book, Road Trip to Redemption.

For an idea of what I’m talking about… check this out 

Why Christian kids should be allowed to listen to Post Modern Rock!

Ok, going out on a limb here with the moms in our audience, but hear me out.

Christian music isn’t going to “save” your kids.

It’s time to be honest and admit…the ways of the fresh 80’s and inspirational 90’s are gone. Cool – hip and modernized Christian music just doesn’t hit today’s tween and teen with the same “oommphhh” it once did

courtesy of Amazon.com

courtesy of Amazon.com

 

It may still warm the hearts of thirtysomething moms and encourage pastors there is a sensible way for the younger one’s  to purge their urge to dance without being put in “time-out….but that’s not enough anymore.

The truth is, after three decades of a legit Christian Music Industry that has spawned billions in revenues and launched thousands of Dove award-winning artists, we’re loosing our youth to a godless world view like never before. In the end… it’s statistically sad but true, all that hip and “proper” music is no protection against the evil and seductive world outside the church walls.

Somehow, getting the lyrics ‘just’ right isn’t enough.

What’s that have to do with Post Modern Alt rock ? Well nothing really, but it does point to the larger picture that it’s genuine – heartfelt art and beauty that will leave a mark on our kids lives.

Our kids are FEELING STUFF !!!Yes, just like we did and do and they need to be touched by authentic beauty and art that connects their feelings to God’s heart!

IF and when  Christian artist can stop playing it safe, and are allowed to write and sing with their hearts…connecting their passion and faith with our own… its amazing!  Their music lands with the megaton impact of a nuclear encouragement and reminds us all that God is real and knows exactly how we/they feel. (For modern examples of such creativity check out… “Rend Collective” or “Lecrae“)

Rend Collective, Integrity Music

Rend Collective, Integrity Music

But if 90% of it all sounds just exactly like the previous nine songs on the radio and fails to really connect in any way that’s significant… (before you send me hate mail,I understand there are awesome and authentic artists making a tremendous difference)…Why would I expect it to move my tween-kids to aspire to live a life of holy and sanctified living?

May God give you the wisdom to know which battles to fight and which to concede. The war we must win… is for their hearts! Trusting in Christ for ‘real” transformation is the goal, not dying on the battle ground of being “right”. For some… music very well could be a decisive issue, for others its academics and the pull of all the extra-curricular stuff.

Post Modern Rock from "Animal Collective"

Post Modern Rock from “Animal Collective”

The proof of a true Christian isn’t in their pre-sets on the car radio or the artists on their playlist, it’s in the authenticity of their hearts. Same must be true of our kids. 

Tomorrow’s Christians are not going to be recruited to join “the cause” by making sure we have a “hip” message of purity and purpose. It’s going to be confirmed and accepted by our teens as they observe the consistency in our lives. How we love and live with the integrity of our words and the gentle warmth of a forgiven spirit.

Post modern rock isn’t the danger… faking it, is.

Peace out!

Pastor B

PS – thanks to my 17-year-old son Caleb for introducing me to his extensive post-modern-alt – jazz/rock playlist on our recent road-trip to Philadelphia. Awesome stuff – inspiring really 🙂

DISCLAIMER: as a Christian music & media executive, I have invested large pieces of my life into creating and providing modern media for Christian families (at iShine), I believe in wholesome and engaging content as an essential presence in every Christian home.

 

The truth about intimacy…

I believe everyone wants emotional intimacy. Ladies are always reading – watching or asking about it. Guys seem to avoid it at all costs…but deep down it’s what we all want, and fear.

As parents, we need to remember it’s what our kids want too.

GETTY Images - source

GETTY Images – source

But emotional intimacy is a slow process, you can’t rush through or fake it. Intimacy takes time and lots of risk. I wanted to describe intimacy, to try to define it… looked at several definitions but this was the best one I could discover. freedictionary.com says intimate means;

1. Marked by close acquaintance, association, or familiarity.
2. Relating to or indicative of one’s deepest nature: intimate prayers.
3. Essential; innermost: the intimate structure of matter
To truly get close you have to be close, in proximity. Nearby. – obvious I know, but for parents, this can be a huge challenge. Our days are way full – overflowing with demands, duties and deadlines. We have to carve out – protect our personal time and invest it wisely. Spending time in the same room, looking at and sharing a meaningful conversation is a MUST for any relationship to become intimate.
To relate with someone, to begin to grasp what makes them “tick” is a huge part of becoming intimately familiar. That takes some life experience to grow. In Christian terms… this means suffering through the hard times together. It means watching and learning and appreciating the good and bad traits of our spouses, kids and friends. It’s in the suffering we get to see the “real” stuff come to the surface. We see what drives someone – what scares them and what makes them mad.

datinggod.org

datinggod.org

The essential part of someone is their “heart“. Not the beating muscle that moves our blood from the lungs to our cells and back, but the metaphysical part of us that contains our desires, dreams and despair. The passion and ethos of life, stretching from the highest of highs to the darkest low. Knowing someone’s heart is at the center of understanding them. Of beginning to predict their reactions to life extremes. From the saddest moments to euphoric joy, when we know a person’s heart, we can accurately judge what they will do next.
Our kids need us to know them and be known by them. They want to trust and to love and to always be honest with us… it’s our “reactions” that drive us apart. As our kids age and grow, they form opinions and ideas. Often those are contrary to our own and in moments of discovery and desperation, we parents often blow up or vent so intensely as to train our fledgling adult children to never-ever tell us the “whole” truth again. Not a good thing, and something I am too often guilty of.
We can get so caught up in being a ‘good’ parent, that we forget the goal isn’t to clone our kids…but to prepare them to live their lives well. To teach them to trust and turn to God when things get out of control. Part of that modeling process is to let our kids in. To see our hearts, to feel our pain and to share in our joy.
It’s a risk to trust them with our fears and failures, but in the end… it’s only in being intimate that we can connect the dots from our faith to our families. Paul describes his intimate relationship with God this way in Philippians 1:28-29 (Message Bible) “There’s far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There’s also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting.”
Suffering always leads to deeper intimacy. So the next time life throws you a tragic curve ball… look at it as a another step deeper into an intimate understanding of yourself, your family and your God. A beautiful truth for hard times.
Peace out, Pastor. B.