Thursday, August 31, 2006

a creek, a crest, a confession

Well it was an awesome ten days in the highlands of Colorado. It was pretty funny because I didn't realize how long I was gone until I was coming home. I started to count the days out of Vernon and it hit me that I was out ten full days. Then I started to wonder if I had told my elders that I would be gone that long. I didn't get any phone calls so I guess that everything is okay.

I was able to camp for five days and that was pretty cool. I camped next to Chalk Creek which was awesome. Life is pretty good when you have a bubbling brook (as I describe it) running in the background. I didn't sleep very well though because the sleeping bag that I brought was too short. My feets were warm but my upper body froze.

I was able to ride the Monarch Crest Trail which is rated as one of the top five mountain bike trails in the state of Colorado. Now I see why. I had to take a shuttle to the top of Monarch pass, then ride up another 1000 feet to make the crest. You wouldn't believe what it is like to mountain bike at 12,000 feet. It was pretty awesome despite having to struggle to keep my breakfast down. I was with six other people from Colorado. They were super cool, but seemed to have lungs of steel compared to me. They shot straight up the mountain while I struggled to maintain eyesight. You really take your lungs for granted when you live at a thousand feet. The people that I was riding with were incredibly patient though. Not that I could have done anything about it if they weren't though! I wouldn't have had the breath to go after them. They should consider themselves lucky! Haha.

I was able to do a lot of cool things while in Colorado like mountain bike, ride four wheelers, golf, and hike, but the coolest thing that I did by far was visit the Dry Bones ministry in Denver with my friends Benny and Niki. If you are part of the Camp OC community then no doubt you have heard about it. But if you are not then you might not know what Dry Bones is. This is a ministry that is dedicated to working with street kids in Denver. These kids have all of the issues that you would excpect for one living on the street, but mainly drug abuse. Benny took me on a "turf tour" of downtown Denver and showed me things that I probably would have never noticed about street life. Also I was able to spend time around street kids that wouldn't have normally had the courage to do in a normal situation.

I was really humbled because I guess that I thought I had ministry figured out before I got there. I figured that you love kids and love Jesus and that was the end of it. I guess to a point I was right. Yet I had reserved my love for those kids who look and act a lot like me. I haven't made it a point in my life to go after the kids who have messed up homes or have made bad decisions. I usually wait for them to come to me. I haven't been the one to pursue those relationships on purpose. I saw the Dry Bones team go after these kids with purpose and intent to love with no agenda. That was startling to me. I have always been taught that you love with the "end-game" in mind. That is, to make them Christians. I guess that is still the overarching goal. Yet when you look at Jesus, he loved fully knowing that he might not get that love back in return. Yet he still loved those around him without abandon or agenda. Why should I be any different?

I confess that I don't really know how to do that. I am still in awe of people who can live their lives in true love to the people around them. I am by nature a pretty selfish guy. I like my house, my dog, and my time. I am praying that God will show me how to really live that way, the way he desires me to.

My experience with Dry Bones was very short and very intense (for me). God is still playing out the implications in my life. I am so thankful to Benny and Niki for spending time with me and showing me what they have dedicated their lives to. They really love those kids out there. I encourage you to go and see what they do. I think that Dry Bones is something that needs to be experienced, not only read or talked about. It is a life changing thing for sure.

Pray for the Dry Bones team. They are on the front lines, I am sure of it. Pray for the church to understand what it means to love like Jesus did. Pray for me. I have a long way to go.

Love you guys.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Nothing to say

After a really long summer I am on vacation! It is weird this time around because I am striking out on my own for this week. I am spending a few days just south of Buena Vista, Colorado and then spending the rest of my week with Benny and Niki up in Denver to see what they do with Dry Bones (and just plain hang out of course). I am really thrilled to be able to spend some time outside, out in the wilderness (even though I am staying in a campground with a video arcade). My campsite is right next to a creek and I am in the middle of a bunch of 14,000 foot peaks (which are called the collegiate peaks by the way). I plan to mountain bike, golf, off road, and do some major reading and guitar playing. It makes me excited just to write about it now.

I loaded down my 4-Runner with everything that is valuable to me (except my dog.....he wouldn't fit) and I headed up to Raton, New Mexico today. I am in a Super 8 enjoying their very nice wireless internet. I had a pretty cool experience driving up today. I left Vernon this morning and it was already approaching 95 degrees at noon. It was hot, dry, and barren. We have been hurting so bad with a drought this summer and it is really wearing us out. Yet the farther west I drove, I started to feel the cooler air. I started to see green grass. Then I started to see flowers. I smelled the awesome smell of cut grass along the highway (by the way, if you can name any smell that is better than cut grass, let me know).

Then, as I passed into New Mexico I saw the foothills popping up. Then out in the distance a thunderstorm brewed. As I entered the hills it started raining. Raining so hard. The clouds were hanging low and the lightning was putting on its show. Typically I have a heavy foot but I slowed down a bit. I didn't want to miss this. God was slowing me to experience Him. He was reminding me that he is a powerful God. His mountains and His thunder showed His glory. I had nothing to say. I was quite overwhelmed.

It just stopped raining about thirty minutes ago. My soul was definitly cleansed. It reminded me of the Andrew Peterson song, Nothing to Say:

And the mountains sing Your glory, hallelujah
The canyons echo sweet amazing grace
My spirt sails, the mighty gails are bellowing your name
And I have nothing to say.
I have nothing to say.

I have probably said too much.