If Trees Could Speak… learning Faithfulness from the Redwoods

Esther Dahlstrom: third from the left, 2nd row, staff pic from 1967

A parable...sort of.After unpacking our things I'm eager to show my wife and oldest daughter the sacred ground that is my grandma's house at Mt. Hermon.  It's a very short walk down to Park Way, and hers is the first house we see.  I stand in the dusty gravel parking space and inhale.  The convergence of space, warmth of California redwood sap in the air, and flowers in the garden along the path to the door.  It's all still there, the same.I show my family, explain to them how this place … [Read more...]

Just getting on with it…

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This week I'm in the stunningly green English countryside with friends from around the globe who gather every four years general conference of Torchbearers.  It's difficult to accurately portray the power of what happens when 200 leaders from 27 Bible centers around the world gather in one room to pray, worship, study the scriptures together, and do business as they seek, each on their own unique setting, to make God's good reign visible through the power of the resurrected Jesus.Every day … [Read more...]

Taking Light Seriously… Living Light Loudly

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We took an evening church history tour in Edinburgh Scotland this week.  It reminded me of the deplorable reputation the church has earned by its wars, lust for power, territorialism, and torture.  You don’t need to know all the details of the history to understand why one friend said, “All the ‘isms’ of our world have, on the whole, done more harm than good - and that’s why I’m not interested in Christianity”  Indeed, one can see a proportional relationship between the rise of Christianity's pow … [Read more...]

clothes are not bodies – church is not faith

I was given a fleece layer from "the master" of climbing

The most memorable gift I've ever received is a used fleece jacket previously owned by climbing legend Fred Becky.  Fred is to climbing the Cascade mountains what Babe Ruth is to hitting baseballs,  or LeBron James "is" (hahaha) to basketball - Fred's a legend, one who's mastered his craft utterly.  At ninety years old, he's still seen in the Patagonia store in Seattle, and roaming the Cascade mountains.  When I opened the gift and heard the name of the previous owner, the garment took on new mea … [Read more...]

The value of trials – lessons from just below St. Helen’s summmit

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Stuff happens.  Job loss.  Marriage challenges.  Parenting that wearies you to the bone.  Accidents.  Health.  Money.  Wendell Berry says,"By expenditure of hope, Intelligence and work, You think you have it fixed; It is unfixed by rule"Life happens and it's the unexpected turns that reveal what we're made of.  This is a priceless gift, because if we're teachable, we'll adapt, adjust, and come back stronger.  Here's what I mean:The alarm goes off at 3AM and it doesn't take … [Read more...]

Old Testament God: Angry fundamentalist, or loving friend? And why it matters!

In my Bible reading this morning, I came across the phrase "put away the foreign gods" and realized that it comes up over and over again the Old Testament.  Instead of creating and arrogant and judgmental provincialism, pondering what it means for us today could lead to a whole new way of living:Thoughtful people sometimes have a hard time reading the Old Testament because the Old Testament God as mean, judgmental, violent, utterly other than the God of the New Testament, where Christ is … [Read more...]

What’s the Most Important thing in Life? Ask the Tree

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Something's going on in my backyard which has been immensely helpful in reminding me of what the highest priority should be in both my personal and professional life.  When we moved to Seattle 17+ years ago, we brought a California redwood tree with us that was, at the time, about 7 feet tall.  We planted it, along with several other big evergreen trees, in our backyard because my wife and I don't like yard work.  The best way to avoid such labor in the Pacific Northwest is to make your own fo … [Read more...]

Holy Week – and the mysterious glory of our guide

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It happens every time I'm in mountains with people in better shape than me.  We start skiing or hiking or climbing and once we're in a rhythm on some steep uphill slope, they start asking me questions:  about family, faith, sport, politics.  They want conversation; I want to breathe!  They're faster than me, and I know that my presence is holding them back because when they say things like, "Yeah, when I was on Mt. McKinley for the fourth time last spring..."  I'm trying to ski up 800 vertical fe … [Read more...]


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