Some Christmas Spirit

I’ve been struggling to get in to the Christmas spirit for the past couple of days, and by this I mean both the “joyful and jolly” feelings of the season and the reverent feelings that bring forth remembrance of Christ’s birth–the true reason for this spiritually significant season. Maybe you’ve found yourself in the same predicament. These videos of a family project from a few years ago usually help lighten my mood. Hopefully they lighten yours as well!

Lastly, one that’s not a “Christmas” song, but inspirational nonetheless.

It’s Been Awhile, I Know

Well… it’s been a whirlwind of a summer, and I quite clearly haven’t gotten around to updating this blog in a long time. I have seen countless demonstrations of God’s grace over the past months and am confident I will see His good works continue through the upcoming quarter at UC Davis and on into eternity. After all, “… to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (Ephesians 4:7 NASB). Why is grace on my mind in the first place?

Though my thoughts are somewhat jumbled at the moment, I can think of three main reasons for a grace-centric disposition. 1) I feel disappointed in myself that I have not dedicated the time to blogging my spiritual reflections for the past many weeks given that doing so strengthens my relationship with God and keeps me focused on things Heavenly. Thankfully, the Father’s grace tells me not to worry about my countless shortcomings. 2) I realize I will face many trials during the upcoming academic term, and a holy abundance of grace will prove invaluable during this period. 3) I have had several recent experiences that highlight God’s grace in allowing me to do the things I love (e.g. hiking, mountaineering) and not kill myself in the process! Here’s a very brief background on reason number three.

This blog demonstrates that I love hiking in the great outdoors and worshipping God in the process. Some would debate the theological basis and significance of what I feel is one of my spiritual “callings,” but I feel that the Father has guided me to pray over His people and Creation from the mountaintops. To these ends I had two primary adventures this summer. In light of God’s graciousness for brevity, the photos and captions will tell the rest of the story.

On the spur of the moment a few weeks ago I decided to climb the highest peak in my home state of Nevada, Boundary Peak, and release God's power over the state through prayer in the process.

On the spur of the moment a few weeks ago I decided to climb the highest peak in my home state of Nevada, Boundary Peak, and release God’s power over the state through prayer in the process. (Photo: my campsite on the northwest ridge below Boundary Peak.)

The trip to Boundary Peak proved enjoyable, yet uneventful preparation for a trip I was planning for later in the summer.

The trip to Boundary Peak proved enjoyable, yet uneventful preparation for a trip I was planning for later in the summer. (Photo: Boundary Peak summit panorama.)

The trip planned for later in the summer? Kings Peak, the highest point in the state of Utah. In summary, the weather proved more tumultuous than expected on this journey resulting in incessant rain, snow, sleet and mild hypothermia. I did, however, feels God's grace in abundance amidst the shivering and got to pray for all of thirty seconds on the summit of Kings Peak. (Photo: the Henry's Fork Basin with Kings Peak the highpoint dead center.)

The trip planned for later in the summer? Kings Peak, the highest point in the state of Utah. In summary, the weather proved more tumultuous than expected on this journey resulting in incessant rain, snow, sleet and mild hypothermia. I did, however, feels God’s grace in abundance amidst the shivering and got to pray for all of thirty seconds on the summit of Kings Peak. The following day the skies cleared, allowing for a peaceful sighting of where I had been in all too turbulent of circumstances. (Photo: Henry’s Fork Basin with Kings Peak being the highpoint dead center.)

Ultimately, the highlight of my trip to Utah was seeing some early signs of fall color! (Photo: China Meadows Trail in Utah's Uinta Mountains.)

Ultimately, the highlight of my trip to Utah was seeing some early signs of fall color! (Photo: China Meadows Trail in Utah’s Uinta Mountains.)

Early autumnal joy... sporadic but still beautiful!

Early autumnal joy… sporadic but still beautiful!

Enough said.

Enough said.

On the way back home to Reno I decided to take a detour through Park City. The  canyon maples along Pine Canyon Drive were beginning to put on a show.

On the way back home to Reno I decided to take a detour through Park City. The canyon maples along Pine Canyon Drive were beginning to put on quite a show.

The aspens along the Alpine Loops Scenic Byway near Sundance were largely still green, yet still a sight to behold.

The aspens along the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway near Sundance were still largely green, yet a sight to behold nonetheless.

An early morning climb up Mount Timpanogos capped off an enjoyably challenging trip.

An early morning climb up Mount Timpanogos capped off an physically challenging and spiritually reinvigorating trip.

And as an added bonus... some fall color closer to home in the canyons outside Reno.

And as an added bonus… some fall color closer to home in the canyons outside Reno.

God is oh so graciously good!

God is oh so graciously good!

Jesus is Our Freedom

Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.                             –Benjamin Franklin

Galena Falls, Toiyabe National Forest

Galena Falls, Toiyabe National Forest

Today is a day when many Americans celebrate their liberty and the birth of the United States with family get togethers, backyard barbecues, and evening fireworks. But let’s not forget the sacrifices that countless individuals have made to secure this freedom—the young men who fought on battlefields ranging from the American Revolution to Iraq, those oppressed or lost in moments of social reform. These are individuals that dedicated their lives to the preservation of righteous ideals, and they deserve our utmost gratitude. In a similar vein, Jesus died upon the cross to bring us freedom from sin, death, and the heinous grip of the devil. So today, take a moment to remember the privilege of freedom, not only of our constitutional freedoms, but also of the spiritual freedom secured for us through Christ’s death and resurrection “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2 NIV).