Thursday, July 23, 2009

Horn Peak (13,450 Feet, 8 Miles, 4 Hours)

This past Tuesday morning, while away in the Sangre de Cristo mountains for our church family camp, Elke and I got up early with the aim of running up Horn Peak and back before the morning lecture. This is a peak that I have wanted to summit for many years, but the camp schedule usually doesn't comply with the time needed to get up and down one of the surrounding mountains in a reasonable time. The issue is, that while there is plenty of time in the afternoons, that is when the storms come through, and you don't want to be caught up high when the lightening starts striking.

Elke and I left at 5:30AM from Horn Creek Family Camp and made our way over to the trailhead. We walked up the 1/4 mile path up to the "Rainbow" trail, turned north, and after a nice 3/4 mile run, made it to the Horn Peak trailhead by about 6:00AM. We signed into the hikers log, and noticed that we were the first ones out for the day. Nature "called", and after we both had "answered", we finally started our ascent at about 6:15AM-ish.

The trail to the top is only 3 miles, but the elevation gain is 4,800 feet in those brief 3 miles, making this climb a grueling ordeal. This is a serious mountain and it is so steep that if you were to fall, you would do the "Princes Bride" fall for hundreds of feet. We fast-hiked the majority of the climb, running whenever there was something close to a flat section on the trail, and in about an hour, we broke tree-line.
The morning was cloudy, but as we came through the trees, the sun began to burn through the upper section of the clouds, and we soon were above them in our own, sun-baked mountain paradise. The climb above tree line was beautiful, with vibrant greens and tons of wildflowers. I wish I had a camera because I would look down at Elke coming up, and there was this vast, steep, mountain face behind her, that then dipped into a sea of clouds making the scene awe-striking.

There is a false summit on Horn Peak (Little Horn...I think) which I thought would be a waste to climb over and then down, so we decided to traverse the face for a bit until we got past it and then go straight up to the summit. This was a mistake and it cost us another half of an hour as we death-marched the ridiculously steep tundra and scree, until we finally were able to gain the ridge, which is the proper trail and the way to go.
Once on the ridge, not only did the views open up, but so did our pace. We continued climbing at a pretty good pace, and, in fact, I was able to run some of the ridge right up to the summit. Both Elke and I couldn't believe how strong we were and how good our breathing was during the whole ascent. We were working and breathing hard, but it-that is the breathing-was working too. Neither of us felt like we were at 13,000 feet, and this made the run even more enjoyable.

Looking around the Sangre de Cristos from this peak is a real treat-Crestone, Humbolt, etc, and numerous other mountains are all around you, and this morning, there was a this blanket of clouds that cut the rest of the world off from us and gave us something truly special there up high.

Right as I began to descend, a light rain began to fall. This was an interesting "sub-storm" on top of the other, lower cloud system. Footing at this point became interesting, but this quickly dissipated and we were then treated to the most amazing high altitude rainbow, above the clouds. Standing on the ridge, this multicolor "sign" vibrantly shot across our whole field of vision as we looked to the north and we could see it bend all the way down into the valley floor below, disappearing into the green tundra and trees.

We had donned light rain jackets and beanies, but within about 15 minutes, we shed them and kept our pace up, descending across the ridge and now off of Little Horn. About at this point, Elke said we should have stopped on top and prayed for our kids. Not that this makes us closer to God or anything like that, but it was just that they were in our minds as we were climbing. So, we stopped and I led us in prayer for God's grace upon each of our children (Tava, Elle, Izzy, and Seth).

Coming down Little Horn we could see another party coming up, but just breaking treeline. We quickly got down to them (they were a guided party from Horn Creek camp, being led by "Dave", who does this once a week...lucky!), and talked a moment with them but then kept descending.

When we reached the trees again, Elke just took off! I could not keep up with her and I did not see her again until a prominent creek crossing about a mile and a half down, where she was waiting for me. We kept our pace brisk for the rest of the run, trying to get back for the morning lecture.

We finally made it back down to the trailhead at 9:30AM, signed our of the log, and just needed to run the final mile along the "Rainbow" trail back to camp. We must have been so anxious to get back on time that we turned at the first trail going down, which we soon realized was wrong, causing us to climb the trail again back up to the "Rainbow" trail! This hurt after the pounding downhill.
We got back to the lecture arena at 9:50AM in time to hear the final half of the morning's talk, and then we caught showers during the break before the discussion time. We had got it done, with a couple of wrong turns, and only overestimating our speed by about a half hour (which we still think we could have easily done if we had not taken the two wrong on the way up choosing the face instead of the ridge, and the one on the way down, taking the wrong trail down, and needing to come back up).

We are both sore, and both in the same places, which is funny. We usually don't get to do things like this together, and so we are usually sore in different spots or at different times. But this time we keep saying, "Don't those stairs hurt to come down?!?"

This was a fun one, and one of the best times I have had with Elke in a while... We are very thankful.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Orwellian Move by Amazon

Sunday, Jul 19, 2009, Page 11

In George Orwell’s 1984, government censors erase all traces of news articles embarrassing to Big Brother by sending them down an incineration chute called the “memory hole.”

On Friday, it was 1984 and another Orwell book, Animal Farm, that were dropped down the memory hole — by

In a move that angered customers and generated waves of online pique, Amazon remotely deleted some digital editions of the books from the Kindle devices of readers who had bought them. Digital books bought for the Kindle are sent to it over a wireless network. Amazon can also use that network to synchronize electronic books between devices — and, apparently, to make them vanish. An authorized digital edition of 1984 from its US publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, was still available on the Kindle store on Friday night, but there was no such version of Animal Farm.

People who bought the rescinded editions of the books reacted with indignation, while acknowledging the literary ironies involved. “Of all the books to recall,” said Charles Slater, an executive with a sheet-music retailer in Philadelphia, who bought the digital edition of 1984 for US$0.99 last month. “I never imagined that Amazon actually had the right, the authority or even the ability to delete something that I had already purchased.”

Antoine Bruguier, an engineer in Silicon Valley, said he had noticed that his digital copy of 1984 appeared to be a scan of a paper edition of the book. “If this Kindle breaks, I won’t buy a new one, that’s for sure,” he said. Amazon appears to have deleted other purchased e-books from Kindles recently. Customers commenting on Web forums reported the disappearance of digital editions of the Harry Potter books and the novels of Ayn Rand...

Amazon’s published terms of service agreement for the Kindle does not appear to give the company the right to delete purchases after they have been made. It says Amazon grants customers the right to keep a “permanent copy of the applicable digital content.” Retailers of physical goods cannot, of course, force their way into a customer’s home to take back a purchase, no matter how bootlegged it turns out to be. Yet Amazon appears to maintain a unique tether to the digital content it sells for the Kindle.

“As a Kindle owner, I’m frustrated. I can’t lend people books and I can’t sell books that I’ve already read, and now it turns out that I can’t even count on still having my books tomorrow,” Schneier said. Justin Gawronski, a 17-year-old from the Detroit area, was reading 1984 on his Kindle for a summer assignment and lost all his notes and annotations when the file vanished. “They didn’t just take a book back, they stole my work,” Gawronski said.

Ephesians 2:1-10

I came to saving faith in Jesus Christ, by way of a sermon by Dr. Martin Llyod-Jones on this glorious text, and each time I preach from it I get emotional. Those who know me know I am not an emotional person. I usually have cold hands, which I kiddingly say, comes from having a cold heart. But each time I think about the plight of man (and being a man myself), and then the power of God to save, I am brought back to that time of awe and wonder when my eyes were finally opened. Paul strips us of our individualism in this passage, first noting that this is a universal problem (not just Dave's problem), but also showing that we are condemned in Adam...not ultimately upon what we have or haven't done. It is in light of this wrath-deserving state, that we read in 2:4, "But God..." His rich mercy and great love sent His Son to secure redemption for sinners like me.

I preached this message to my congregation this morning, and I got choked-up, again...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Defecting to Faith

Pastor Richard Bacon has posted that a new Pew Research study
reported that more than half of those raised in atheistic or agnostic families have abandoned disbelief. "The New York Times" described them as "defecting to faith." Only 13% of those raised Roman Catholic and 14% of those raised Protestant abandoned their childhood faith and there is no information whether they abandoned faith altogether or transferred to another branch of Christianity or another religion. Half of those converting to theism said they had unmet spiritual needs. And the other half? Perhaps they missed the holidays.
This is significant news and especially in light of the rise of "new-atheism".

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gospel Sanctification-Direction #1

That we may acceptably perform the duties of holiness and righteousness required in the law, our first work is to learn the powerful and effectual means by which we may attain to so great an end.
Marshall begins by stating the purpose of the entire book which is,
"to teach you how you may attain to that practice and manner of life which we call holiness, righteousness, or godliness, obedience, true religion; and which God requireth of us in the law, particularly the moral law, summed up in the ten commandments, and more briefly in those two great commandments of love to God and our neighbor (Matt. 22:37, 39)"
From this purpose it is clear that although the Gospel way of sanctification is not by the way of the Law, it is not "antinomian" or against the Law. So this avoids mistaking the ends for the means, but it does not neglect the ends, which is to bring us into conformity and obedience with those principle duties of loving God and loving each other. Of these Marshall writes:
"They are the chief works for which we were at first framed in the image of God, engraven upon man in the first creation, and for which that beautiful image is renewed upon us in our new creation and sanctification by Jesus Christ, and shall be perfected in our glorification."
Now, the importance of knowing the proper means cannot be overstated. Many think that once you know your duty, all that is left is to go at it with gusto. Marshall cites the way that the Israelites responded to the commands of God "All that the LORD has spoken we will do!" (Ex. 19:8), as naive and ultimately disastrous. And so we must know the means by which we can do them, before we set off in our attempts.

Marshall is not concerned in this book to expound on the Law, citing that this has been done ably by many others before him. He only wants to underscore that when we talk about keeping the Law, we mean perfection, and not some lesser standard that we think we can attain on our own. He also notes that learning the true, biblical way of sanctification will take some time and effort in that it does not come as easily to us, nor resinate with us, as do the commandments of the Law. He explains this by reminding us that we know the Law from natural revelation, and therefore we are more accepting of it when we read it in the Word. On the other hand, sanctification is a revealed mystery, and therefore not as easily taken in by us.

In the end, his purpose and task is one of compassion and care for souls struggling under the weight of their sin and desiring to render true love to God and neighbor. He is concerned that if one does not learn the right way, one will ultimately become discouraged and just throw in the towel. He concludes this first chapter hoping that maybe:
God may bless my discovery of the powerful means of holiness so far as to save some one or other from killing themselves. And such a fruit as this would countervail my labour; though I hope God will enlarge the hearts of many by it to run with great cheerfulness, joy and thanksgiving in the ways of His commandments.
So, we are on a mission to learn the powerful and effectual, biblical means whereby we can progress in holiness. There really is no more important study than this and therefore I hope that you will tune in for each direction, reading them and meditating upon them as we proceed. I hope that you are convinced at this point that if you are going to be able to walk in new obedience, you must learn the Gospel-way of doing so.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification

The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification by Walter Marshall was first published in 1692. Marshall was an English Presbyterian minister – a Puritan born in 1628. He was forced to leave his parish in the infamous Great Ejection of 1662, but being faithful to the call of God, he soon found another congregation which he pastored until his death in 1680.

It was out of his own struggles and striving for Christlikeness that The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification came to be written. He had originally sought counsel from Richard Baxter, but soon realized that Baxter was preaching sanctification by way of the Law...this led him to seek counsel from Thomas Goodwin, who spoke to him of sanctification by way of the Gospel.

Goodwin said something to Marshall, which changed his life and got him going down the road of true holiness. When Marshall had spoken about the great struggle and weight of his sin and how he was trying to be free of it, Goodwin pointed out that Marshall had never even considered the greatest sin of all...lack of faith in Christ to save and sanctify him.

In this volume, Marshall propounds the forgotten, Reformed, truth of sanctification by faith in Christ alone, and this is a much needed message today. Too often it is preached, or at least insinuated, that we are justified by the Gospel, but sanctified by the Law. Marshall shows how and why this is such a damnable heresy, and why it never can help a person progress in holiness.

I will be laying out Marshall's "Directions" in a series of entries here at Linkin' bLogs, and I hope that you will not only be edified by the content of each direction, but that you will pick up a copy of The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification and read the whole thing yourself.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Leadville Trail Marathon

This past Saturday I ran the Leadville Trail Marathon in Leadville, CO. It is a high-altitude race starting at 10,200 feet and running up to Mosquito Pass at 13,128 feet (22 miles of the 26.2 are over 11,000 feet). I have been traveling a bit lately, and so I was not really in great shape for the run (not that I have ever been in great shape), but I knew I could do it...even if it was ugly.

Elke and I drove the Westy up on Friday afternoon and "camped" at the Leadville RV Corral. We actually got a good-night's sleep and the guy only charged us for a tent site. The bathrooms were clean and a hot shower felt great before and after the run.

The course is absolutely beautiful and breathtaking (on a few levels!). You start in the town of Leadville, run through the old mining district, and then up into the mountains, alternating 4WD roads and single-track. With all the water this year, the mountains are green and the wild flowers are in full bloom, making the run visually spectacular.

I ran most of the first half of the race with fellow Team C.R.U.D. runners Keith Grimes (this is the start of his Leadman attempt) and John Courtney (18th marathon this year). There were actually about 8 or so C.R.U.D. runners running officially this year, and Paul DeWitt, the course record holder until this year, ran "un-officially" pacing his father who was shooting for a sub-5 hour finish (which he accomplished).

Well, with me, it did get ugly! I actually started out strong and ran the first 10 miles feeling fine. It was really hot, and I sweat a lot, but I was hitting the S! Caps about every 45 minutes so I never did have cramping issues. What I did have was stomach issues. I started to get nauseous about 10 miles in, and this did not let up for another 12-13 miles. I either had to slow way down to a walk or throw up. In fact, indicative of how slow I had to go, I do not have sore legs after the race at all...I hardly was able to push them!

I finally had a big "purge" at the final aid station (I actually walked away and behind some bushes), and then flew down the final 4 miles back into Leadville. But by this time I had lost over an hour of time off of what I should have come in at (around 5:30), finishing at 6 hours and 31 minutes. I finished strong, passing lots of runners (and never being passed by anyone) down the final leg of the race, and was amazed at how good it felt to be breathing the thick air at 10,000 feet again!

In the end, it was fun. I enjoyed the conversation and trash-talking with guys early on in the race, and the atmosphere and vibe in Leadville are comfortable. This event and its hosts are top-notch, except the T-shirt is way ugly (Note to those who design race/event T-shirts: Photos don't look good on shirts...its like those frosting portraits on birthday cakes from Wal-Mart). I do plan to run the race again next year, and I am hoping to be in better shape by then. This run is a kicker but one you feel good having completed.