We took a mini-vacation the last few days. As much as I really enjoyed the two-week driving all over the country vacations that my parents took me and my sister on in our childhood, I feel I've not been able to provide the same experience with my own kids. Still, we have been able to do week-long trips every other year.

This year, we took four of our five (wife Barb, daughter Marian, son Theo, and myself) on a mini-road trip. We live in Washington state and are still new here only moving in two years ago. So we've been throughout the state and into Canada a few times. Last year we did a loop through lower B.C. and Alberta, then Montana and Idaho. That was fun and ambitious.

This year was smaller scale. We did a loop through some scenic southern B.C. We left Sunday afternoon, stopped and walked a while through Chinatown in Seattle. Then drove up to the boarder to Peace Arch Park, a favorite of mine. We then crossed the boarder without incident and overnighted in Vancouver.

Monday, we did a loop through Stanley Park (another favorite) and then went north to Horseshoe Bay. There was a lot of road construction and a reminder about how rugged this terrain is. We then started our climb up the mountains to Squamish (lunch), Pemberton, and Whistler (Starbucks and walking around break). We pressed on and, at the recommendation of a local, stopped by and hiked to see the Nairn Falls -worth the walk: spectacular.

We then pressed on and tested our little engine on the mountain roads and came through Lillooet and finally to Cache Creek, our destination for the night.

Tuesday, we headed down by the North Thompson River and then met the mighty Fraser River and travelled down the Fraser River Valley. We had a nice late breakfast in Hope and then headed back west on the Trans-Canada Highway. We made a required stop at Tim Hortons for a snack and then west on Highway 1A and reentered the states north of Lynden, WA.

I enjoy Canada very much and B.C. is a great place to visit. Parts of our trip reminded me of the road trips we took as children through the back roads of California. A bit of adventure, a bit of uncertainty, and a lot of beautiful scenery.

It was only a couple of days, but it was a nice break before getting back into the school grind.


Summer Coursework Reflections

Happy August! Traditionally, this is vacation month. I remember when we lived in England that August was the month that all of Europe shut down: everyone was on “holiday.” Of course, the word “holiday” comes from the phrase “holy day;” but that meaning has long been lost. Do you think that’s happening here in the U.S.?

Well, the course work is done for the summer semester. I delivered my last requirement for the Old Testament DVD survey course last Friday: an exegetical paper on Numbers 16:1-7. If any of you are interested in reading it as a late-night sleep aid, just let me know and I’ll forward you a copy.

I have appreciated the Old Testament survey course more in reflection upon it. There are some very powerful lessons in the narrative of God’s people. What is especially striking, in my reading, was the inevitable rebellion or forgetting of God among the people. They would turn away from Yahweh, “follow after” other gods, and then bad things would happen to them.

I wonder if they fell into a pattern of thinking like this: “Sure, that God-stuff was a big deal 40 years ago. But this is now; things are different; times have changed; sure there are a couple old nut-cases floating around screaming, ‘repent, repent!’ but – come on! – I have to deal with real life.” Having forgotten who God is, they had no foundation to obey God’s rules. When they didn’t obey God’s rules, they reaped the resulting harvest.

So… as you go on your vacation this month, give a thought to the fact that you are living out a Sabbath principle. Have fun with your family! Play! Eat fun food! Celebrate your year! And give a thought to Yahweh who gave you strength and prosperity this year that you might enjoy your “holyday.”


Leadership Summit: Day Three

Day Three was somewhat disorienting. It started with Wayne Cordeiro. Now Cordeiro comes bouncing up on the stage, spends significant time kidding with Hybels and then – almost incongruously – speaks of his bout with an emotional breakdown. Now I get that: “I’ve suffered from major depression and now I’m all better” is the message.

The message was powerful and a fearful warning for ministry people who may be closer to the edge than they know. He discussed symptoms of ministry burnout; the positive things that can come out of only suffering; and then some practical thoughts on how to avoid or recover from breakdown.

Bill Hybels finished up the conference and his talk had two parts. This contributed to my sense of disorientation. The talk was entitled, “The Power of Clarity;” and, knowing Hybels, you might expect a the-stakes-are-too-high-to-not-be-clear-about-your-vision-for-without-vision-the-people-perish thing. But that was not to be. He began by talking about how something recently caused him to change his mind about what he’d talk about today. OK, that’s got my curiosity up, right there. Now I'm disoriented. What happened? What’s the catalyst for the change? Then he used the title to make a clear and strong statement about the place of the theology of Substitutionary Atonement.

Now Hybels said some great things about this, and I appreciated his stand. Far too many in certain segments of the “Emerging Church” movement have – wrongly – stated that Substitutionary Atonement has no rightful place in Christian theology, doctrine, or belief. This ranges from Brian McLaren’s rather lukewarm acknowledgement of even the existence of the term to some more rabid bloggers who deny the validity of the doctrine. In the hurry to affirm the true-at-the-same-time other models of the Atonement, several have decided to jettison Substitutionary Atonement. This is wrong, of course.

So it gets me back to wondering what event cause Hybels to change his talk to become an affirmation of Substitutionary Atonement. Hmmmm.