Monday, January 20, 2014

The Incline: 2000 ft in one mile




Coming to Colorado Springs to work has some great fringe benefits. One of my favorites is tackling a climb known simply as the "Incline". It's an old cog railbed that climbs straight up one of the mountains below Pikes Peak. There are no turns, or switchbacks...just straight up and up and up. It's only a mile in length but you start at around 6500 FT and finish at 8500! If you've never gained that much altitude in a mile, it's not one you'll ever forget. 

The air is thin and for a flatlander it's a daunting challenge to make it in under an hour. What amazes me the most are the locals. I met a guy today that hikes it almost every day with his parakeet riding atop his shoulder. I also met a gentleman named Greg that went to the top 610 times last year and today I caught him going up for his third time....today. And his 3rd ascent he did in 38 minutes. And oh by the way....Greg is probably 60 years old. Pretty amazing. 

Special Forces teams climb it in body armor to get conditioned for deployments as well. Met up with one of my guys today and he left me in the dust. 

I think the record is somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 minutes from bottom to top by a Kenyan marathoner who ran the whole thing. Once you've done it you'll realize how incredible that is. 

Today I finished it....before the sun went down. In places there was thick ice and more than once I got a bit nervous about slipping and getting down a lot faster than intended.  But I had a great time viewing creation while getting humbled by the mountain and the lack of hemoglobin. 

There is something about climbing a mountain that calls out to us. Maybe it's that we want to conquer things that are bigger than us. My dad used to take me and my brother hiking in the mountains of NC as kids and it's something I've never outgrown. I simply enjoy pushing myself to do something difficult and meeting new and interesting folks along the way. A very good day

For all my workout brothers, I left an F3 sticker on one of the pipes crossing the trail. Maybe in the coming year one of the brothers will see it on vacation and be reminded that F3 is changing America from the inside out. If you are a guy and interested developing leaders in your community check out www.F3nation.com

Time for some ibuprophen, all for now...more to follow

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Apathy and Amnesia




I recently had the honor of welcoming home a group of soldiers returning from a combat deployment. I stood at the bottom of the stairs of their transport aircraft shaking hands with a cadre of tired men who had been gone for nearly 9 months. There were no days off for them, no long weekends, just hard dangerous work every day. Their eyes spoke volumes, weariness, relief and many other emotions. Also along with us were several Vietnam vetereans that come to greet every single flight that returns. They simply offer a quiet thank you.

Before our guys landed I spoke with some of those older vets and they told stories of how they came home back in 69 and 72. As you might imagine their story was much different than today. They came home to vitriolic abuse, people protesting and spitting on them. Shame on us as a nation. 

In recent days you may have read of budget cuts for military retirees and I'm afraid that this is just the beginning. Then this morning I see the headline below that increases my suspicions. I wonder what my soldiers face as they come to the end of their service. I sense that we are adrift in our national priorities arguing about the wrong things and living for the wrong things. Most don't understand movies like Lone Survivor. I'm afraid we are forgetting....again. It is tragically funny how history repeats itself. 

It's obvious that soldiers returning home are not getting spit on, but I sense something more ominous and much more destructive....apathy. Apathy is a poison that infects and then erodes from within. At its heart apathy is rooted is forgetfulness and self worship. Apathy simply says "I don't care". Apathy leads to inaction. Apathy leads to softness, to a state of unreadiness, to myopic worldviews that focus simply on me and my needs. There is no passion or self sacrifice in apathy. There are no heroic stories in apathy. There is only amnesia and status quo in apathy. 

In a speech on 27 July 1920 president Calvin Coolidge said this "The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself be forgotten" 

Don't be forgotten. 


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Born to hunt!


I had the real privilege this past weekend of going on my first pheasant hunt with a couple of soldiers from here at FT Carson at a preserve called Rocky Mountain Roosters. It's out in the prairie an hour northeast of Colorado Springs. 

I've been deer hunting for years and done a lot of dove hunting back in NC, but this was a totally different animal if you'll excuse the pun. 
I was blessed with some descent shots and brought home enough meat for a great meal. 
But the most amazing thing about the hunt wasn't the shooting or even the eating, it was the dog. 

Our guide Tony, had the most amazing Llewellen Setter. The Llewellen is a hybrid of the English setter or so I'm told because I'm no dog expert. But this dog, I've always loved dogs, was something special. Her name was Nandi. When she jumped out of her cage and stretched a little, I thought that she didn't really look all that like a great hunter. But, I was sorely mistaken. 

That dog lit out like she was shot through a gun. Nose high in the air, tongue hanging out and she galloped back and forth hoping to catch the scent of a pheasant or a chucker. Back and forth, back and forth she went until she stopped suddenly by a yucca plant and froze stiff, tail in the air and eyes fixed straight ahead. 

Tony said in his thick South African accent "she's on one!"

I picked up the pace to get into position for the flush thinking she might scare the bird off if I waited too long. But Tony explained that Nandi would sit there for hours until someone flushed that bird. He was right, that dog never moved, not an inch!

Sure enough we flushed a big ol pheasnt and a shotgun blast later the bird was in a vest. Simply incredible. 

I asked Tony about training Nandi, expecting to hear him say that it took years and big dollars. But to my surprise he said that about 90% of what she does just comes naturally. He went on to tell me that He spent very little time training her. That struck me. How does that dog know how to to that? 

And of course it's had me thinking for the past day as well.  Some things just come naturally in people too, athletic ability, artistic talent, academic prowess just to name a few. And like that Nandi was born to hunt. 

But humans are also born to do lots of other things as well. We are born liars, coveters, rebels and the like. Even with all our talents (effaced images of our Creator) we are broken people born into a broken world. As I watched Nandi living out her life's calling finding and catching birds I thought, "It must be wonderful to arise every single day and be able to do what you were born to do well" 

I see so much dysfunction around me and I imagine you do as well and it dawned on me that the reason for that is this, just as Nandi is born to hunt humans are born to be broken in sin. It's in our bloodline our breeding if you will. It's not environmental it's inherited all the way back from The Tree in The Garden. 

We don't need better training, we need a new bloodline. And that bloodline is found in the God Man, Jesus Christ who came to earth, lived his life, shattered the status quo, loved with reckless abandon, died on a cross, resurrected from the dead, ascended to heaven and will return again. He did this to undo or redo the corrupted bloodline and give us a new one....life in His blood. 

I relaized that I'm more like Nandi than I had imagined. My bloodline now traces itself to Jesus and I have inherited traits from Him that enable me to do what I was "born again" to do. And that dear reader is to live my life in a steady progression from this day forward to be conformed to the image of Christ. 

Tony, Nandi's master looked at her with such pride as she simply did what she was born to do. I hope that Jesus looks at me and you with the same sense of joy when we serve His Kingdom doing what we were "born again" to do....set free from the corrupted bloodline of this world. 

More to follow






Friday, January 10, 2014

Dude, where have you been?

By all accounts I have dropped the ball. It has been some 14 months since I last posted on this blog. I went back through the whole thing today and ran across so many memories and things recorded that a push of motivation welled up in me to jot some things down. I'm writing from Colorado Springs where I'm serving for the next few weeks here at FT Carson. This in an amazing part of our country with the front range of the Rockies jutting up out of the plains. Pikes Peak towers high above this town and is breathtaking to view especially in the mornings. Today the winds rose up and blew tumble weeds across the prairie as I watched from my office window. I'd never seen tumble weeds before. I guess you really do get to see something new everyday if you are looking.

The picture below is from an overlook above the Garden of the Gods with Pikes in the background. It was about 4 degrees when I took this last Sunday. Sometimes I find it difficult to drive here because I'm always looking up at the mountains. Impressive no doubt and reminds me each time of the psalmist. 
"I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." (Psalm 121:1, 2 ESV)

No commentary necessary. More to follow 

The songs of life- Thanks to mom

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