Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Camping and Climbing

I can hardly wait. Tomorrow I jump on a Southwest Airlines flight and fly to Boise. My parents will pick me up at the airport. I will spend a day with them in Boise on Thursday. Friday morning my dad and I will load up his truck and we'll head to our favorite camping spot on the Crooked River about 80 miles northeast of Boise. We literally camp at the end of the road. No amenities. No fellow campers. No nothing except us, the Crooked River, the friendly deer who wander through our camp spot, and our good friend the camp fire. My two brothers (Ted and Brent) will join us before the sun goes down. We talk, laugh, tell stories, look at the stars, eat lots of good food, go hiking or ride the 4 wheelers, take a trip up to the Jackson Peak Lookout, sleep like a log, stare into the campfire, and enjoy a few days away from cell phones, email, texting, traffic, and civilization in general. What makes this special is my dad is 89 years old (young) and this is the highlight of his year! We are going to keep doing this for as long as we can.

We will drive out Sunday afternoon. Once home we'll shower, unpack, and then Brent and I will repack. Monday morning we leave for Mt. Borah in the Lost River Range, a 4 1/2 hour drive from Boise. Five of us will attempt to summit the mountain on Tuesday morning - me, Brent, my cousin Rick from Post Falls, Idaho, my nephew Josh from the Bay area, and my friend Brian Keil from Canby. We plan to hit the trail at 4am and hope to summit between 10am-11am.

Mt. Borah stands at 12, 662 feet. We are looking at a 5262 feet vertical climb in just over 3.5 miles. The exciting section of the climb will be Chicken Out Ridge, aptly named, at 11,000 feet, a class 3 scramble up and over a rock ridge that falls steeply off on each side. For someone who is not fond of heights, like me, Chicken Out Ridge is going to be a challenge.

I promise a report and pictures when I return!

Friday, August 27, 2010

J.C. Ryle

The last several years I have spent a lot of time thinking about growth and change. It seems to me that if what we believe is true about Jesus Christ living inside our lives by the person of his Spirit, there should follow signs or indications of his presence. After all, how could the God of the universe take up residence in my life and something not give or change?!

And yet. What do I see and experience? Am I being stretched by growth pains? Am I really all that different today from who I was two or ten or fifteen or twenty years ago? Has "Christ in you" (me) (Colossians 1:27) radically altered who I am, how I think, what I say, where I go, how I spend my time and money, or what I live for? And yet.

Transformation of our lives is to be the norm for Christ-followers - "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son" (Romans 8:29); "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18); and "My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you" (Galatians 4:19). Conformed, transformed, formed all point to the same spiritual reality - there is to be less of Tim and more of Christ in my life as time goes on.

The painstakingly slow process of spiritual growth can be discouraging. Recently I was reminded of a theological truth that provided encouragement. I was reading J.C. Ryle's classic book on Holiness written in 1877. In a section of how justification and sanctification differ Ryle writes, "Justification is a finished and complete work, and a man is perfectly justified the moment he believes. Sanctification is an imperfect work, comparatively, and will never be perfected until we reach heaven. Justification admits of no growth or increase: a man is as much justified the hour he first comes to Christ by faith as he will be to all eternity. Sanctification is eminently a progressive work, and admits of continual growth and enlargement so long as a man lives." Ryle wants us to realize that justification is instant but sanctification is gradual.

Ryle again, "Let us not expect too much from our own hearts here below. At our best we shall find in ourselves daily cause for humiliation, and discover that we are needy debtors to mercy and grace every hour. The more light we have, the more we shall see our own imperfection. Sinners we were when we began, sinner we shall find ourselves as we go on; renewed, pardoned, justified - yet sinners to the very last. Our absolute perfection is yet to come, and the expectation of it is on reason why we should long for heaven."

Don't mistake Ryle as someone who is soft on sin. He takes sanctification just as seriously as he takes justification. He works hard not to confuse the two. And all through Holiness he persistently fixes our attention upon Jesus, "The Lord Jesus has undertaken everything that His people's souls require; not only to deliver them from the guilt of their sins by His atoning death, but from the dominion of their sins, by placing in their hearts the Holy Spirit; not only to justify them , but also to sanctify them."

I am thankful for these good words from J.C. Ryle!