Heli-skiing! Who’s coming with me?

January 26, 2012

I can’t help but notice over the past couple weeks how I have been thinking about Heli Skiing.  Maybe with the recent snow that we have gotten in Des Moines has heightened my desire to go skiing, but even more so live out one of my “bucket list” items.  The idea of Heli Skiing to some may seem crazy.  Some of you may have never even heard of Heli Skiing.  Let’s have wikipedia help us:

Heli-skiing is off-trail, downhill skiing that is accessed by a helicopter, not a ski lift. Heliskiing is essentially about skiing in a natural—albeit highly selected—environment without the effort or gear compromise required for hiking into these areas as in ski touring or ski mountaineering.

Most heliskiers are seeking specific, pleasurable skiing conditions that are hard to replicate in the highly manipulated terrain of ski resorts: particularly powder snow, but also long descents, natural terrain contours and features, smooth corn snow, old-growth tree glades, and steep slopes.

Now, who in the world would like to go on an adventure like that?  I believe at some point in my life I will be flying in a helicopter in the backcountry approaching a peak ready to take on a steep slope and fresh powder.  I have always had this sense of adventure and continue to look forward to the next opportunity to experience something unique.  I believe this is how I am wired.  I cannot deny the fact that the thought of ripping down a chute in the backcountry excites me to no end!  So what will I do with this wish?

Unfortunately I do not have the resources or time to make it happen this year, and as for next year I am quite unsure.  The fact is these trips are quite expensive and it does not fit in my budget.  But before I get ahead of myself, I think it would be best to start thinking about who I would like to enjoy this experience with?  I know many friends whom ski, but rarely have we talked about Heli Skiing.  So this is the question I pose today?  Who’s coming with me?  I mean…have a good long look at this photo:

This could be us…

As I look at this photo, all I can think about is one of the most unique adventures and experiences that I am having with some friends as we are shredding the snow.  I am going to guess that there are some of you out there reading this post that have the same wiring for adventure and new experiences, that love skiing and would love to explore God’s creation in a new way!  I want to hear from you!  I want to start talking about a future trip!

Now how does this tie into my life and Taking God Seriously?  We are all created uniquely, with unique desires and passions.  Many of us are excited to have great experiences in our life.  This is the way God wired us and we cannot let things of this world get in the way of our wiring.  We have the opportunity in this life to enjoy that which God has created and for me, Heli Skiing is one of the experiences I hope to have to explore part of God’s creation that I may otherwise never get to see.  When the opportunity arises and I am in the backcountry, hopping off a helicopter and skiing down untouched powder I will praise God for the beauty of His creation and the opportunity He has provided me to Heli Ski.

I believe, from even a bigger life picture, we all have different experiences we hope for.  The questions we shall ask ourselves are, where is it that we want to go?  Who do we want to go with?  What do we want to experience?  Amidst all of this will we recognize God and appreciate the opportunities He gives us to enjoy that which He has created?  I pray that I continue to live a life focused on Christ in appreciation for what God has created for us, and live according to the way He has wired me.  I pray that I can do this with a community of people that can walk alongside one another and enjoy this life together!  So the question again…Who’s coming with me?

Winter Jam!

January 23, 2012

What is Winter Jam you ask?  Quite an experience!  I highly recommend attending if you are a fan of Christian Music. Even if you aren’t and you just like music in general, you cannot beat a line-up of 10 Artists playing for 5+ hours for only $10.  The Jam Tour stopped in Des Moines Friday night.  This year was my 3rd year in a row attending Winter Jam and once again it was an amazing set.  The experience itself was worship focused, allowing artists to share their giftedness with thousands each night on Tour.  Wells Fargo Arena was filled with people of all ages from 6-11:30pm.

The crowd was blessed with a great mix of artists and it was amazing to see people of different beliefs come together and worship.  One of the artists that is on the tour this year, Kari Jobe, is an artist I had heard of a couple years back and enjoyed her music and appreciated her voice.  On Friday she performed a song that I took a new liking too, “We Are.”  Have a peek…

The lyrics share a great message and the words are encouraging.

“We are the light of the world,
We are the city on a hill,
We are the light of the world,
We gotta, we gotta, we gotta let the light shine!”

These lyrics should speak to everyone.  As a follower of Jesus Christ the words resonate with what my life represents to others.  Even for those who may not consider themselves followers of Jesus, your life is a representation of light that you show to the entire world.  If we talk about light, we often think of its brightness, and to me this relates to the good that comes from us.  We all hope to live good lives and our opportunity in this life is to be that light of hope to the rest of the world.  You cannot deny the fact that we desire to live a life in which our light shines out to others, but the question is what is the source of that light?  Will you rely on yourself to be the source, or will you rely on God to provide the light through you?

During the evening at Wells Fargo, a message was shared by Nick Hall in which he talked about being the light in the darkness as a challenge we face in this sin filled world.  Each year during the event there is also an opportunity to sponsor children through Holt International.  Now this brought me to another thought…I wonder how many people consider how easy it would be to support one of these children?  At $1/day, it really does not require a lot and it could provide for a unique experience for many, as there is the opportunity to communicate with and follow the child that you are sponsoring.  When I decide to step up to do so in the future, this is what I want this experience to be about, less about the money, more about the hope and the support provided to these children as they grow.  Many of us avoid the support of those less fortunate, because it would mean sacrifice of something that is ours…or is it really?  The Word of God tells us that everything is His(Romans 11:36) and because of this we are called to provide for those in need(Proverbs 28:27).  This is where I believe we should start asking the questions of God…God, what do you want me to do with your resources?  God, what causes do you want me to support?  God, is this in your will for me?

Really, for me it comes down to asking God, where are you leading me?  As followers and believers, we should be asking for guidance from God on a daily basis.  God, what do you have planned for me today?  What is it that you want me to do today?  It is through the Holy Spirit that we are led to move.  If we take guidance from the Holy Spirit, the light begins to shine to all those around us in many ways.  This leads me to another song that was shared with the audience Friday night, “Lead Me” by Sanctus Real.  This is one of my favorite songs, and was excited to hear it live from Sanctus Real.  The song had taken on a new meaning for me in my life since Father’s Day of last year when it was shared via skit at Lutheran Church of Hope.  The message is clear, just as families ask their husband and father to lead them, we should be compelled to ask our Heavenly Father to lead our lives!  Enjoy…

A night filled with great artists and music, is one that I hope others have the opportunity to experience.  Check out the schedule and what you will find is they have plenty of stops remaining, including quite a few in the midwest.  I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy the experience.  More importantly, I hope you have the opportunity to listen to the lyrics of the two songs I have shared with you.  Whether or not Christian music seems appealing, you will find that there are a variety of artists that have incredible music.  And unlike many concerts I have been too, I was able to rock out to 10 artists for 5+ hours.  Will you WinterJam?

I Just Want to…in 2012!

January 18, 2012

We all have something we just want to do!  Monday we celebrated a National Holiday honoring a man whom played a large role in our battle for equality.  We hear so much about Martin Luther King Jr., but on Sunday evening at Lutheran Church of Hope during Pastor Mike’s message, I learned something new about this man.  I learned more about his character from an excerpt of a sermon he gave on the eve before the day he was assassinated, the day before he shared his Dream.  This sermon was titled, “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top”.  If you would like I have included the link for the entire message:

Before you continue reading through this post, you must see this video clip:

What is it that MLK Jr. wanted to do?  I don’t know if you caught it, but he said, “I just want to do God’s will.”  Can you relate?  Do you just want to do God’s will?  Amidst the trying times that he was facing, he wasn’t concerned with the longevity of his life, nor the difficulties in the days ahead.  He had a greater purpose given to him by God!

The photo collage below are photos that were taken while on our way back from the Valley Church Student Ministry Spring Break Trip to Panama City Beach last March.  We made a pit stop in Birmingham and visited the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church where MLK Jr. pastored from 1954-1960.  Might just have been a God thing that I was wearing the Big Dream Gathering T-Shirt on the day we visited the church where a man who Had A Big Dream Preached many messages!

It all comes back to me now…I was amidst discerning what God’s will was for my life while on that trip.  One thing that I had in common with MLK Jr. is that during this period of discernment I was focused on the fact that “I just wanted to do God’s will.”  Simply put, that is what our lives should be about.  The hardest part is determining that which God has planned for us.  But like MLK Jr., I believe if we are focused on God and grow in our relationship with God, He will guide our steps and help us to live into His plan for us.

So the questions is…Do you want to do God’s will?  In 2012 we may have a multitude of things that we want to do, but for some of us it may be time to start Taking God Seriously.  We may believe in God, but have yet to sacrifice our own way to follow His way and live a life for Him.  Maybe we have been seeking God’s will and it continues to challenge us.  Maybe we have yet to know God and it is time we start to become acquainted with who He is and discover if His way is better than our own.

I want to celebrate Brad and Mindy’s wedding and spend more time with them before they leave to the Netherlands!  I want to go to Montana with Amy to TQ & Bettina’s wedding and take a mini vacation on the back end.  I want to have a successful 1st experience coaching soccer at the high school level this Spring.  I want to go to Lake Toronto and celebrate Labor Day with my family.  I want to compete in a triathlon.  I want to be a better financial steward and make some progress on my debt. I want to move closer to Ankeny.  I want to see growth in the Children and Student Ministries at Hope Ankeny.  I want to go on a trip with students over the summer.  I want to…the list goes on and on.  All this being said, it really comes down to one thing that is the most important, and I cannot say it any better than MLK Jr…”I just want to do God’s will.”  Will you join me in this?

2011…He Provided!

January 16, 2012

A couple weeks into the New Year often brings many of us to a time of reflection about the previous year.  We have also spent time thinking about what is going to happen in 2o12.  As I have reflected on the past year, I continue to be reminded of how God worked in my life.  During the past week I couldn’t help but reflect on how God PROVIDED in 2011.  The message that Christine Meggison shared with us at Re:vive on Thursday night focused on the Bible reading from Genesis 22.  In this reading we find that God was testing Abraham’s Faith as He commanded Him to sacrifice his son Isaac.  Abraham remained obedient up until the last moment, when an angel of the Lord asked him to stop.  The angel pointed out that there was a ram caught in the thicket that the Lord had provided for him to sacrifice in place of Isaac.  In scripture it reads, “Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh”, which means “the Lord will provide.”

We completed week two of the Year of the Bible track at Lutheran Church of Hope, where we are providing daily readings and weekly messages related to the scriptures we are reading.  Because Re:vive meets on Thursday nights it was a bit ahead of the readings that were scheduled for Friday and Saturday of this past week(http://www.hopewdm.org/Bible_Readings_1_2012.htm).  As a result I read the scripture, that Christine had preached about, again on Friday and was reminded of God’s provisions, especially as it related to Abraham’s story.  There is no doubt that scripture speaks truth into my life and the lives of those around me.  I am fortunate to have a group of other young men who started a study last week that will take us through the Year of the Bible Message and Daily Bible Reading track, opening opportunity for discussion and accountability around that which we are reading.  The challenge continues, and as Pastor Mike Housholder shared in his message yesterday evening…Will we live our lives as though God Will Provide?!

In 2011 I was faced with this challenge in more than one way.  The first experience that I had faced related to following that which God was calling me too.  I had spent some time in early 2011 discerning what exactly God had in mind for my life.  I wanted to obey His calling, thus I had to get serious about listening to where He was leading me.  This took plenty of patience, but then as the call came, I was ready to move.  I learned during the early part of 2011 that I was in a place where God wanted me to work with youth in a capacity that would help them develop a solid foundation from which to live their life.  Because of the impact I wanted to have on the lives of the younger generations, I knew I was to step into a full-time role teaching, coaching, counseling or ministering.  It was after spending a week on a Spring Break trip with the Valley Church Student Ministry group that helped me gain more clarity that Ministry was a route that I wanted to seriously consider.  I was asked by my good friend, Jon Kalvig, to join he and Christina in ministry at Valley Church for the summer.  There I was at the age of 29, insecure with my finances and faced with a decision that would bring long-term uncertainty.  I now know this is how God was testing me, like He had tested Abraham.  I was unsure of what would happen after the internship ended in August, but what I knew is that I was ready to be obedient to that which God was calling me to0.

In many regards this move didn’t make a lot of sense, but what I learned in the process is that it was between God and I as to what He was calling me to do.  As I took the leap from the Financial industry to Ministry, I trusted in God’s promise of provision.  It was towards the end of May, the end of my 1st month in the internship, when I began having conversations with Pastor Scott Rains at Lutheran Church of Hope – Ankeny and leadership from Meals from the Heartland.  Talk about God providing, I was in communication with two organizations for which I had much passion and connection.  Even though nothing was set in stone, these conversations were the affirmation needed and that which I had prayed about.  I was at peace with the decision that I had made and I was excited to see where God would lead me. By the end of June God had provided in a way that I could’ve never imagined, as I was faced with making a decision…to be the Children and Student Ministries Director at Lutheran Church of Hope – Ankeny or the Director of Operations for Meals from the Heartland?

We all know what I decided, but what I learned throughout this process is that He provides in many ways.  Not only as it related to my vocation, but also financially.  As I had set out in my internship I knew that it would be tight over the summer and that I would have to raise some support.  I sent out financial support letters in which I asked family and friends to support my ministry assignment for the summer.  In response to these letters I raised enough financially to help me through the month of July.  Well isn’t it interesting that I would be starting on August 1st at Lutheran Church of Hope – Ankeny.  My financial concerns that could have easily kept me from deciding to make this change, were no longer an issue, because God provides!

He continues to provide, in many ways!  I find myself in a place of reflection that also empowers me to continue on in 2012 knowing He will provide.  The truth is His provision is a promise, and He provides all of our needs.  Will we live in fear of not having what we want?  Or will we live in obedience as though God will provide that which He wants for us?  I choose the latter…whatever challenge you may be facing, please know that God will provide!  It may not be according to your plan, but patience and obedience will help you overcome the fear!  It did for me in 2011!  How will He provide beyond what we can imagine in 2012?