Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Redemption in The Battle of the Five Armies

I've just finished seeing The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies for a second time in the theaters.  This isn't nearly yet as many times as I saw The Lord of the Rings movies while they were showing, but I'm working on it.  In this second viewing I was able to take more time to ponder the deeper themes going on in the story instead of just sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to see what was going to happen.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Potawatomi Trail Dec 2014

Route Name: Potawatomi Trail
Trailhead Elevation: 890 ft.
High Elevation: 1002 ft.
Hiking Total Distance: 11.15 mi.
Elevation Gain: 2,550 ft.

Trip Report:

   This was my third trek in the Pinckney Recreation Area.  Each time I've taken a slightly different combination of trail in hiking the loop.  This was the second time I've done this in winter.  Last year the temps were in the teens, this year the daytime temps were near 40 while the overnight low hit around 30.  It only felt slightly warmer.  

Thursday, December 25, 2014

"Home for the Holidays"

This sermon was my Christmas Eve 2014 sermon.  I conceived the idea as events unfurled within my own family.  On Wednesday December 17th word was that my Grandma (Mom's mom) was going downhill and fast.  This wasn't a huge surprise to us as we knew she was in poor health (alzheimer's) already.  By noon on Thursday Dec. 18th we knew that her passing was imminent.  My family had been planning on travelling to Southern Illinois on Friday Dec. 19th for Christmas parties.  This news moved our plans up a day and we travelled on Thursday.  Grandma went to be with her Lord Thursday evening.

We could see the Lord's timing in all of this as we and so much of our family was already planning to be in town and now could be together to mourn Grandma's passing.  During all of this I was also tasked with continuing to prepare a sermon for Christmas Eve at my congregation.  It seemed fitting to tie current events in with the message.  I don't often bring largely personal stories into my preaching but on this occasion it seemed both appropriate and helpful.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"A Not So Ordinary Manger"

Advent Midweek Service Sermon

December 17, 2014
Isaiah 35:1-10

Brothers and sisters in Christ, grace and peace to you, Amen.

Today we ask the question “how has He saved us?” At the heart of this question is our desire to know what God has done, and is still doing for us. It shows our longing for answers. Our longing for comfort from the loneliness this world can bring upon us. It shows our desire for reassurance that everything has been taken care of. And the good news we shall hear this day is all of these cares and concerns are answered.

Throughout this Advent season we have been using the beloved cradle hymn “Away in a Manger” as the backdrop for our worship. We sing in that hymn of the desires I’ve just spoken of. At the beginning of the third verse it begins “Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask Thee to stay”. This line holds the burning desire of every believer’s heart. And though our sinful nature often has us doing the very things that take us away from God’s presence, one thing we have learned throughout this season is God has heard this cry of ours, “be near me, Lord Jesus.” We know this for God answered us in the incarnation. In the birth and life of Jesus among us. As Isaiah puts it in verse 4 of today’s reading “He will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God, He will come and save you.” Jesus has come once already and accomplished our salvation through His sacrifice, once and for all, on the cross.

It would seem this answers our question, yes? “How has He saved us?” The cross sure seems like the answer and to be sure, it is. But that doesn’t answer everything we need to know. Here’s what I mean: Jesus’ death on the cross did indeed accomplish salvation for all mankind. There was not a single person past, present, or future that His death did not pay for. Jesus’ work is like the ultimate Christmas gift to all humanity. However, like any Christmas gift we would purchase, a gift must be given and received. Just as those wonderful new earrings you bought your wife, or the power drill you bought your husband, or the new LEGO set you bought your child isn’t much of a gift if it sits wrapped in a closet somewhere, all gifts must be given and received. So it is true with the salvation Jesus has purchased for us with His own blood. That gift of eternal life has been purchased for us, now it must be given and received.

So, as we ponder what kind of heavenly delivery system God must use to give us these most precious of gifts we should understand, that God’s ways are not our ways. After all, when God first delivered His Son into flesh to be our Savior Jesus was given in the humble cradle of a manger. Our Lord’s beginnings at Christmas ought to guide us to see that God not only worked in such humble fashion then, but He continues to do so today.

God’s heavenly delivery system today works through three different means. Each is as common as the next in appearance, and yet rich with heavenly blessings nonetheless. God delivers His gifts to us through speech, water, and the bread and wine. In other words, God’s Word, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. These means of God’s grace to us hardly have much outward beauty that we should be attracted or impressed by them. In fact, I’ve heard it said that the simple pouring of water in baptism seems like such an ordinary, common task, how could God possibly do all that He says He does.
But these our Lord’s means of grace share in the same apparent weakness of the little Lord Jesus who did once “lay asleep on the hay.” These means hide in them the full power and glory of God, as did the child Jesus who, though being fully man, also had the fullness of God. Be not fooled by the simplicity of the words of Scripture, the waters of Baptism, or the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, for God does indeed employ them to deliver His heavenly blessings to His people.

This comes as a challenge to us. By our sinful nature we are challenged by our mind’s desire to be caught up with the fancy, the innovative, the attractive, the flashy. We think all great blessings must come in shiny, impressive packages and the mundane is lost on us. This reminds me of one of my favorite Disney Pixar films. Some of you may remember the flick “Ratatouille” which came out in 2007. The movie follows a rat named Remy who desires above all else to become a cook, and it just so happens, he lives in Paris. Its a cute story, but I want you to consider another character from the movie with me. I want you to consider the most feared food critic in all of Paris, a man named Anton Ego.

Now, the movie uses Ego much like a villain as they fear him giving them a bad report if their food is not innovative or perfectly delivered. Here is where the story ties in nicely for us today. Towards the end of the film, the rat-turned-cook named Remy has this one opportunity to serve the food critic Ego, and Remy decides to serve him ratatouille. The other cook’s in the kitchen are caught aback. “But that’s a peasant dish” It seems too ordinary, too mundane to serve to the food critic. But that is what they do. And it turns out they made the right choice. Anton Ego eats the ratatouille and it instantly opens his heart and takes him back to the days of his youth when his mother would cook this simple dish for him. Though nothing of great outward appearance, the ratatouille and its familiarity got the job done.

We have God’s promise that His means of giving to us His grace are sure and true. The Word of God delivers us precisely what we need. It is like the manger delivering to us the Savior every time we peer into it. We may think these words outdated or ordinary, but in them is the familiar account of God’s love for us. We may look at the words and water of baptism as a simple tradition. But they carry the promise of God, they carry the fullness of the Word of God and deliver a life-giving water that wells up to salvation. And we are tempted to look at the bread and wine on the altar and to receive them as habit, as common. Its just something we do right. And they make the service oh so long. We know we’re guilty of this when we arrive in our pew and groan when we realize the service is going to be a little longer today. But these our sinful reactions betray us. They reveal our misunderstanding or lack of understanding of the very grace of God and His answer to our heart’s desire “be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay.”

I tell you, there is no better answer to our plea for the Lord to stay with us than when you receive His very body and blood, His real presence in the Sacrament of the altar. Your sinful nature may grumble about it, and your watch may appear to slow down, but your Savior is being given to you and the forgiveness of sins.

We pray be near me, Lord Jesus, and indeed He is with us. We know our Messiah has come because the signs of God’s Word are being, and have been fulfilled. Isaiah, in our reading today speaks of a day when the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. The lame will leap like deer and the mute tongue will shout for joy.” Surely these things have come to pass in the work of Jesus and are a sign to us that our Savior is here.

The manger is never empty, for our Savior has come to save us and deliver to us His most precious gift. To God be the glory, Amen.

The Battle of the Five Armies: Initial Reactions

SPOILER ALERT:   If you don't wish to know some of the particulars of the latest (& last) Hobbit movie then you probably shouldn't continue reading.  Consider yourself fairly warned.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

"When Peace Like a River"

Sometimes, the best way for us to express ourselves, and particularly our emotions, is to do so through music. Many of the great musical masterpieces of history are reflective of a troubled or a moving time in a composer's life and their music was an outlet for them to express what they were feeling in those moments. The hymnody we sing in church here is certainly much the same. Although I would suggest, our hymnody goes a step beyond a writer expressing the emotions and feelings of their heart to a place where they are expressing the deepest words and thoughts of faith in the words and the music which we now sing.

This is why we pride ourselves, still today, in the singing of songs of praise and hymns in our worship. We're singing the songs of faith. We're lifting back to God the same words He's first given to us through the holy writers of Scripture. The hymns we sing help us in receiving and in turn expressing the Divine truth which the rest of our worship is gracefully giving us.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chicago Marathon 2014

  After some post-race contemplation I am convinced I have found the right word to describe running a marathon: humbling.  When one's legs are crying out for mercy after 3 hours of running and yet the will to continue on is ever present, that is humbling.  When one runs through 20 neighborhoods throughout the city of Chicago with tens of thousand of spectators all cheering you on, that is humbling.  When one stands below the immense skyline of Chicago surrounded by 45,000 runners and hear the national anthem sung, that is humbling.  When one gets to be a part of raising tens of thousands of dollars to support their alma mater and its fitness center, that is humbling. When one passes that finish line, and has run the race with perseverance, that is humbling.  You get the idea...

   I share this blog for a variety of reasons.  For many of my readers I want to tell the story and share the joys of my experience.  I also wish to capture the details of the race itself and the things I learned from running my first marathon.  Most of the pictures you see were taken by my father and likely have nothing to do with me.  I include them to add some color and sights from the race here.  I had thoughts of taking pictures during the race but pulling my phone out and doing so just didn't happen.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Potawatomi Trail Hike + Run 2014

Route Name: Potawatomi Trail
Trailhead Elevation: 890 ft.
High Elevation: 1002 ft.
Hiking Total Distance: 11.15 mi.
Running Distance: 13.1 mi.
Elevation Gain: 2,550 ft.

Trip Report:

   This was my second trek to the Pinckney Recreation Area and also second trip on the Potawatomi ("Poto") trail.  I hiked it last November when the temperatures were radically different from what I would encounter on this Labor Day weekend.   This drastic change in temps would heavily weigh into my planning and packing for the trip.  Last November I layered up heavily and had to plan to carry all of my own water.  I was also packing my winter sleeping bag, gloves, and other necessities to stay warm.  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Running Chicago for Concordia - To God be the Glory

Dear friends,

In October (2014) I will be running in the Chicago Marathon.  It is my first attempt at running in such a classic race.  I've been training very hard for it, just ask Sarah, and I am excited about this opportunity.

More importantly, this really isn't about me.  I am running with a team from my alma mater Concordia Chicago to help raise money for a pair of good causes that will benefit thousands of people in the greater community.  Part of our team is raising money for a Literacy Center on campus and the other half, myself included, are raising money for a Community Fitness Center.  It makes running in the marathon all about giving back and loving thy neighbor.  

What each of us has been tasked to do, as a part of our being a member on this team, is to raise at least $1000 to support this cause.  I am honored to be a part of this and humbly am looking for my brothers and sisters in Christ to step up and offer their support of these community projects at Concordia Chicago.  

To be a part of this good cause follow my link (bit.ly/WitteChicago) to my bio page hosted by "4aGoodCause" and there is a "Donate Now" link on that page.  You can also send check donations via snail mail to the campus of Concordia Chicago and mark my name and Chicago Marathon on your check so they route it to the right place.

Thank you so much for reading and for considering being a part of this wonderful event.  Below you can see more of my story that our team organizers have asked me to write.  That same story is also on my bio page at the link above.  God bless.

My Story

I am blessed to be pastor of Grace Lutheran Church (Monroe, MI) and Teacher at Lutheran High South (Newport, MI). In my years teaching at LHS I've seen them develop a wonderful tradition and theme that governs what they do: 'To God be the glory.' This seems to be the perfect way to describe why I've joined Concordia Chicago's Marathon Team for 2014.

Running is a pastime I've picked up in the last few years. I used to run here and there just enough to stay in shape for summer hiking trips. As my passion for summer hiking grew, and I realized I could only indulge that passion for 2 weeks a summer, another passion had to grow to cover the other 11 1/2 months of the year: so enters running.

In the past year I pushed my limits over and over with more and more distance running. For several years I'd thought about 8 or 9 miles would have been at my limit. Then I set the goal: let's do 13.1, a half marathon. I worked towards that and it was accomplished. This led to the goal for this fall: go for the whole 26.2 miles.

One problem I've faced though is most major marathons are run on Sundays. This is a practical problem for me as a pastor as that happens to be the one day I work each week (Just kidding, if you know what I mean). I couldn't see telling my congregation that I needed to get away for a Sunday just because I felt the need to go run a race (especially at a time when I'm the sole pastor). I was looking around for any great opportunity that would arise and then I heard about Concordia's Team running for the Chicago Marathon. To run for my alma mater and to support them by raising money for a Community Fitness center became the perfect way to do this to God's glory and not just because I felt like it.

It is especially great to be supporting Concordia Chicago as this university is alma mater to such a large portion of my family: father, mother, uncle, wife, brother, sister-in-law and so many of my closest friends. It has also been the career home of my father Dr. Dennis Witte.

So now that the plans are in place it is time to simply make it happen. I am humbly going to ask for the support of all my family, friends, and Christian neighbors in this life to raise up some fantastic support for Concordia Chicago's Community Fitness Center. I also wish for prayers and support for my training efforts to be ready to run this marathon and run it well.

My thanks and to God be the glory.

Rev. Mark K. Witte -- Monroe, Michigan

(If you'd like to help share this page you can use this short-link to help simplify things: http://bit.ly/WitteChicago)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Quandary Peak 2014

Route Name: East Ridge
Trailhead Elevation: 10,850 ft.
Summit Elevation: 14,265 ft.
Distance: 6.49 mi.
Elevation Gain: 3,450 ft.
Start Time: 4:45am
Summit Time: 6:25am (5 minutes on top)
End Time: 7:35am
RT Time: 2 hrs 50 mins

Trip Report:

Quandary Peak will always hold a special place in my Colorado 14er memories as it has been the location of now several firsts for me.  In 1991 it was my very first 14er summit.  In a way I'm proud to share that we began our climb many years before 14er climbing began to hit the mainstream and websites and other guides made them so much more accessible.  We began in the days of carrying the Roach or the Lampert book along on the hike to make sure you knew what you were doing.  Back to the topic at hand, in 2010 Quandary became my first winter 14er ascent.  And now in 2014 it was my first solo ascent on a 14er.  Of course, in this day and age when everyone is climbing Quandary I'm not really going to make any big deal about that last one.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

El Diente Peak

Route Name: South Slopes from Kilpacker Basin
Trailhead Elevation: 10,395 ft.
Summit Elevation: 14,015 ft.
Distance: 11.9 mi.
Elevation Gain: 4,766 ft.
Start Time: 4:12am
Summit Time: 10:00am (25 minutes on top)
End Time: 3:42pm

Trip Report:

This was round #2 of our attempts on El Diente Peak.  Last July we were camping at the lovely Kilpacker Basin trail, we made the hike up into Kilpacker basin, we even made it up to 12,500 feet at the base of the South Slopes route, and the weather prohibited further passage.  We were even there before 7am and the clouds were thick and the sprinkles were starting.  Wisely, we chose to turn around as the south slopes of El Diente are not a place to be when everything is wet.  This necessitated our now 2014 attempt.  I've already once laid out several of my thoughts and photos on the basic Kilpacker Basin hike and so I won't revisit all of those in this trip report.  I would commend to you my 2013 Kilpacker Basin trip report as good reading for that portion of this hike.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Wetterhorn Peak

Route Name: Southeast Ridge
2WD Trailhead Elevation: 10,395 ft.
Summit Elevation: 14,015 ft.
Distance: 8.67 mi.
Elevation Gain: 3,850 ft.
Start Time: 8:21am
Summit Time: 12:14pm (32 minutes on top)
End Time: 3:47pm

Trip Report:

Today's hike almost didn't happen.  If you read my Snowmass trip report you'll see that we didn't make the Snowmass trailhead until 8:30pm last night.  We then had to drive from that trailhead through Snowmass Village, and beyond.  Our original plans had us heading for the Wetterhorn trailhead to camp there, but it would be over a 3 1/2 hour drive.  We added to the time crunch by stopping in Aspen to grab a quick supper.  As we drove over Independence Pass we made the wise decision to grab a hotel in Gunnison to ease our pains.  It wasn't until 1am that we arrived there.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Snowmass Mountain

Snowmass Mountain became #50 on our list of the 54 Fourteeners to climb in Colorado and so it was time to get acquainted.  We had heard and read of the loose rock and the challenge that all the Elk Range peaks offer and so this led us to some cautious anticipation.  We also know the fun and varying experience that snow offers and so the thought of hiking in the snowmass on Snowmass was a bit exciting as well.

Day 1: Tuesday, July 15

Route Name: Snowmass Creek Trail (Maroon-Snowmass Trail)
Trailhead Elevation: 8,400 ft.
Camp Elevation: 10,800 ft.
Distance: 7.87 mi.
Elevation Gain: 2,891 ft.
Start Time: 2:54pm
End Time: 7:33pm

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Missouri Gulch & Mt. Belford Backpacking with the Boys

Ever wanted to take 3 kids under the age of 10 on a backpacking trip?  We did.  My father and I have been avid backpacker's since our first trip in 1999 and with my 3 sons beginning to get older I wanted them to begin to have the same experience.  One big problem though: how do you get all the gear you need into the wilderness with little bodies that cannot carry much?   That's what we would find out.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mt. Royal 2014

The summit ridge on Mt. Royal has some good rock
Route Name: Mt. Royal trail
Start Elevation: 9,086 ft.
Mt. Royal Elevation: 10,422 ft.
Distance: 3.6 mi.
Elevation Gain: 1,483 ft.

Start Time: 9:00am
Summit ridge time: 9:39am
End Time: 10:05pm
Duration: 1 hrs 4 mins


Mt. Royal has become an almost annual acclimatization hike for us Midwestern flatlanders.  Its almost to the point where I may not even blog or make trip reports about it.  There isn't anything new to say about the trail itself which is pretty straightforward, but the experience is still rewarding so I share it.  Plus, there are always great photos to be had as there are on any good hike.

Friday, June 20, 2014

May Lake + Mt. Hoffmann

Trip Report

Start Time: 10:38am
End Time: 3:20pm
Trailhead Elevation: 8850 ft.
Summit Elevation: 10,850 ft.
Hike Elevation: 2329 ft.
Hike Mileage: 6.03 mi.

The turn-off for May Lake Road is pretty well marked on the Tioga Road so we had little trouble finding it.  The road is then about 4 miles of rough and bumpy 2WD dirt road up to a nice paved trailhead area.  It is said that some years May Lake Road doesn't open at the same time as the Tioga Road and so you may need to verify this before making any great plans.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Glacier Point via Panorama Trail + 4-Mile Trail

Trip Report

Start Time: 7:17am
Glacier Point Time: 11:03am
4-Mile Trail Start Time: 12:00pm
End Time: 1:55pm
LYV Start Elevation: 6128 ft.
Glacier Point high Elevation: 7279 ft.
Valley End Elevation: 3979 ft.
Panorama Trail Hike Elevation: +2882 ft, -1579 ft.
Panorama Trail Hike Mileage: 6.72 mi.
4-Mile Trail Hike Elevation: -3200 ft.
4-Mile Trail Hike Mileage: 4.54 mi.

Day 4 of our full week of hiking in Yosemite was the first day we weren't making up way up to a high summit.  That is, unless you count Glacier Point at 7,279.  This would be our third day in a row of moving with our full backpacks, but also our last.  As usual we were up before 6am today, but at least it was a warmer morning than yesterday when we woke up 1000+ feet higher in the open.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Half Dome (6/18/14)

The view we woke up to ... not bad.

Trip Report

Start Time: 6:56am
End Time: 11:20am
Camp Start Elevation: 7142 ft.
Summit Elevation: 8860 ft.
Hike Elevation: 1800 ft.
Hike Mileage: 5.35 mi.

Today's hike was a matter of unfinished business.  When we had made our hiking trip plans in 2011 we had set the hike of Half Dome as one of our big goals.  In the months leading up to that trip we were following very closely the snowpack reports hoping things would be open by the time we arrived.  As it turned out, the cables would not be put up until about a week after we left.  While it was a disappointment for us to miss out on an attempt of Half Dome then, we did salvage an epic week of hiking nonetheless.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Clouds Rest (6/17/14)

Trip Report

Trail: Sunrise Lakes Trailhead > Clouds Rest
Start Time: 10:28am
End Time: 5:45pm
Trailhead Elevation: 8209 ft.
Summit Elevation: 9926 ft.
Camp Elevation 7155 ft.
Hike Elevation: +2449 ft., -3503 ft.
Hike Mileage: 9.47 mi.

This hike began a 3-day backpacking trek for us with Clouds Rest not really even being the main objective.  We actually conceived of this hike back in 2011 on our previous trip.  We would have attempted it then except the Tioga Road was still closed to everyone when we were visiting.  That left us scrambling for new plans in 2011.  This year, the snowpack and the roads would work in our favor.  In planning this year's attempt we were left with one hurdle: how do we get to the trailhead?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mt. Dana (6/16/14)

Trip Report

Start Time: 8:27am
End Time: 2:21pm
Start Elevation: 9949 ft.
Summit Elevation: 13,057 ft.
Hike Elevation: 3229 ft.
Hike Mileage: 5.29 miles

A hike of Mt. Dana was to be the great springboard of another amazing week out in Yosemite National Park.  I was joined by two good friends of mine, Ken and Matt, with whom I also made the 2011 hiking trip.  This time around we had 5 full days of hiking to work with and the way things fell into place we had our highest elevation climb on day 1.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Prepping a Yosemite Hiking Trip :: Part 2 - Reservations

Because Yosemite is so very popular, planning ahead is a necessity. This is particularly true if you wish to spend the night in the park. During the main summer months of June through September it can be very crowded there. Most of the main campgrounds in the park require reservations well in advance. Even for people, like myself, who wish to sleep in the backcountry reservations are still a necessity.  Yosemite requires all backpackers to have permits for overnight stays. They limit how many hikers can depart from and camp from each of the major trailheads. In the busy summer months and from the popular trailheads these permits can go quickly.  Ambitious hikers wishing to go up Half Dome will, surprise, surprise, also need a permit for that. Though, this last one probably exemplifies the necessity of all these permits in the first place. With a simple web search you can find pictures and videos of what the cables route on Half Dome looks like when it becomes overcrowded. In short, it gets downright dangerous. Though the whole reservation thing does complicate the process, it is in the end a necessity and a good thing for the preservation of these natural beauties.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Prepping a Yosemite Hiking Trip :: Part 1 - Itinerary

The classic view of Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View
This is one of the most exciting things an outdoors-lover can do.  I can’t speak enough about how enjoyable I have found it in researching all the possibilities an avid hiker and backpacker can find when looking at Yosemite National Park.  I’ve also learned that without doing some of the homework ahead of time, endless possibilities can easily be missed.

I am presently working on my 3rd trip to Yosemite and loving every minute of it.  My wife and I took a trip there in 2008 for just a day.  We had travelled down the Pacific coast from Seattle and Yosemite was one of our last day-trips.  We hadn’t really done any homework ahead of time and so we just showed up.  It was late-May and we were lucky that the Tioga Road was just opening so we drove up to Tuolumne Meadows.  We also enjoyed the short hike to Lower Yosemite Falls back in the valley.  Time and lack of knowledge of the Park, however, left us unsure what else to do.

Half Dome as viewed from Glacier Point

In 2011 my friends Matt, Ken, and I made a very well-planned out hiking and camping trip to Yosemite for a week.  I’ll be sharing much of what we learned from that later on to explain itineraries.  We learned a lot from this trip both in the planning stages and in the implementation of those plans during our week out there. 

For 2014 my same friends and I are back at it again.  The 178% above normal snowpack of 2011 left us without a summit of Half Dome and so some unfinished business.  We have our sights set on more exciting possibilities in Yosemite this year and plan to enjoy the now 33% below normal snowpack of 2014.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Treadmill Games

I am loving the fact that Spring is upon us and today holds the best 2014 weather yet.  It has been a long winter here with record amounts of snow and days of sub-zero cold.  This has all but forced my winter running regiment to be conducted entirely inside on what many runners have not-so-lovingly dubbed the "deathmill".  

Running on a treadmill is no one's favorite way to run, but sometimes its just the only feasible option.  There are ways to at least make it tolerable, however, and that is what I intend to share today.  I racked up over 250 miles on the treadmill over the past few months and in that time I got creative in ways to make the time pass.

Here are my "Treadmill Games":

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Dehydrated Christians?

3rd Sunday in Lent -- March 23, 2014
John 4:5-26 - The Woman at the Well

Brothers and sisters in Christ, peace be with you, Amen.

You have heard before, that at high elevations its harder to breathe and there is less oxygen in the air?  Now, if you haven't heard this, that's okay, just fly out to Denver or somewhere in the mountains some time and try walking up a flight of stairs.  Its almost an exercise in futility on your first go, as you're huffing and puffing just trying to catch your breath.

But my first comment is true only in part.  It is much harder to breathe, the body must work overtime to survive and function properly at high elevations, but oddly enough, its not because there is less oxygen.  That's actually a common misunderstanding.  Scientists tell us that the concentration of oxygen at sea level and at high elevation is relatively constant at around 20%.  The big challenge to our health comes because the air pressure is lower at higher elevations.  And because of that our bodies cannot absorb the oxygen so easily in the lower pressure.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Which Came First? Death or Man?

Sermon -- Lent 1A -- March 9, 2014
Texts: Genesis 3:1-21, Romans 5:12-19, Matthew 4:1-11

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God's peace be with you, Amen.

From Alpha to Omega, the beginning to the end, from everlasting to everlasting, the Bible is God’s Word. I think that’ll be a good starting point for us, and not a bad ending point either, for us this morning.

Here is where the wheels fell off on this whole journey that we call life, it happened with our first parents. Adam and Eve. They had it all. They were the only humans in history to literally know paradise on earth. They were made in God’s image. They were perfectly holy, perfectly righteous, perfectly perfect.

But, they blew it all up in one singular problem that has since plagued every last soul to walk this earth, less just one, named Jesus, and that problem was: they didn’t listen to God’s Word. Plain and simple. What had God told them? Just one Law we are told they were given. Don’t eat from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That’s it.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Pikes Peak Barr Trail Winter Expedition

Route: Barr Trail, East Slopes
Trailhead Elevation: 6,700 ft.
Barr Camp Elevation: 10,200 ft.
Summit Elevation: 14,110 ft.
Hike Elevation Total: 7400 ft.
Hike Mileage Total: 22.55 mi. (my GPS)

Trip Report

Thursday, February 27

Start Time: 8:14am
Barr Camp Time: 12:35pm
Mileage: 6.22 miles
Elevation Gain: 3500 ft.

We went through some excellent discussion this winter as to which mountains to tackle during our quick 4-day trip.  In the past we have hiked on some of the easiest winter 14ers: Quandary, Sherman, and Elbert.  One of our initial thoughts this year was to step it up a notch and go after one like La Plata Peak.  Its still relatively safe from avalanche danger if you follow the right route.  But then we stumbled upon this idea of hitting the Barr Trail in winter.  Its a route that rarely has avalanche danger, and though it is long, an overnight stay at Barr Camp in the middle makes it into a manageable hike.  And thus, we settled on Pikes Peak for this year's winter climb.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Prepping a Winter Mountain Ascent

Its one thing to go out for a fun hike on a nice summer day.  Its a good thing for us all.  Find a trail, watch for rain, and just go for it.  Heading for a mountain summit is even a fun and very achievable summer objective for the physically fit.  But how about in the middle of winter?  Well, that's a whole different ballgame.

My hiking partners, that is, my father and brother and I asked that question back in 2010.  How about a winter summit?  Why not?  We had already begun to accumulate some of the necessary gear from when we'd encountered snow on our summer hikes and so it came down then to a matter of planning.

This year I'm making plans for my 4th winter ascent and its still just as fun as the first.  As I've worked my way through plans for this year's hike it seemed appropriate to share some of our tips and tidbits of learning. While there are a great many much more learned and experienced individuals than myself in the realm of winter mountaineering, I do have the privilege of having an audience of fellow flatlanders who are curious about what this is all like.  Our experience is we found it is possible to live near sea level and visit the mountains once or twice a year and still make the mountain tops, even in winter, accessible to us.

Using pictures and experience I've gained I want to share with you some of the biggest concerns we deal with when going from your average summer dayhike into a full-blown winter mountain hike.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Return of The King

This morning I was blessed to lead chapel at Lutheran South which has become my usual Tuesday morning ritual.  Throughout my chapels this year I've been reading to the school body from the devotional book "Walking With Bilbo" by Sarah Arthur.  It makes for a pleasant opportunity to share some of the basic themes and story lines from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit as well as The Lord of the Rings while also helping people to see the deep Christian themes residing behind the story.

This morning we read through Chapter 18 which is entitled "Living Legends".  With it was the theme of the King returning.  On the surface we are reminded of the return of Thorin as King under the Mountain when he arrives in Lake Town in The Hobbit.  Then the even bigger and more heralded return of the king (which Part 3 of The Lord of the Rings is titled after) with Aragorn's coronation as King of Gondor.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Taking on 2014

I'm readying to take this new year by the horns and have a great one.  So here we go. I always chuckle how we go through this ritual and every year I hear, and likely say myself, "I can't believe its 2011! [or 2012, 2013, 2014, etc].  But this oddity soon wears off.  In fact, as far as 2014 goes it seems we're well on our way to being used to it already.  As you well know, it is also a comical part of American culture to make new year's resolutions.   They're essentially lofty goals that we pretty much have no chance of keeping, but for whatever reason, because the calendar is new we think we can make some great, grand changes in our life.

What I am putting forth then is not so much your been there, done that, new year's resolutions.  I'm not sure I've ever made one of those.  I do however have goals.  Healthy challenges for the year to come.  None of them are great changes in lifestyles because those just don't realistically change over night.  The goals I have and I share are more like challenges and achievements to shoot for.   You could say they will be the carrots dangling before me in the months to come to push me to excel and to
continue to push forward.

Without any further ado, here is my 2014 list of goals:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Why I Love Winter

Here at home we are in the midst of one of the wildest winters I've ever known.  And its only early January.  We've had three snowstorms of 8+ inches and as of this moment we've been below zero with temperatures for more than 60 hours.  Our low point was a -15 degree and -51 degree wind chill.  Brrrr!

In my congregation where I serve as Pastor it is quickly becoming common knowledge that I love the winter, and I love the snow, and I don't even mind the cold temperatures.  I often get crazy looks from people who pretty much feel the exact opposite of these likes.  I even tell people I enjoy shoveling snow (which I really do!).

I have decided to include below some pictures and explanation for this crazy hobby of mine.

Popular Posts