Saturday, September 29, 2007

Seasonal Rentals Start Today

We'll be at Christy Sports this morning picking out skis, boots and poles for Anna & Sophie. I can't wait for Arapahoe Basin to open. The region's two highest ski areas - Arapahoe Basin and Loveland Ski Area - compete for the earliest opening day, usually sometime in late October. That means I can most likely be on my skis sometime in the next 3-4 weeks!

Here's a picture of the Kellys at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park last week.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cowper's Still on My Top 40

If you don't know the story of William Cowper, take a quick trip to the cyberhymnal.

I really enjoyed singing "God Moves in a Mysterious Way" to myself this morning as I spent time with God reading the Bible and praying.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Monday, September 24, 2007

DisneyWorld Top 10

We got back from Florida late last night. Here's a quick video clip of Anna, Sophie & cousin Lilly at the Festival of the Lion King. What a show!

My top 10:
10. Pirates of the Caribbean with new Captain Jack Sparrow audio-animatronics. Just like him.
9. Finding Nemo: The Musical. It's much better live than the promo clips that Disney has out.
8. Lights, Motors, Action stunt show from Disney Studios Paris. Incredible driving!
7. Mission Space. Downright awesome. Way to go, Gary Sinise!
6. Splash Mountain at night with Sophie and Anna laughing in the front seats.
5. The Laugh Floor with Mike Wizowski in Tomorrowland. Cool digital characters, live voices.
4. Mickey's Philharmagic. Great music, surprising effects and Donald Duck shot out of a tuba.
3. Seeing Megan play the part of an extra in the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular.
2. The Disney Princess lunch at the Akershus Restaurant at the Norway Pavillion in Epcot.
1. Expedition Everest. A great queue, a great coaster and an even greater surprise in the middle.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Finished. Done. Over. At last, closure!

Since I finished it late last night on the plane back from Orlando, Megan and I have been enjoying conversations about this last book of the Harry Potter series. (Note to husbands: I heartily recommend reading what your wife is reading and talking about it with her as a means of keeping your marriage healthy.)

Warning: If you haven't finished the book yet, there are spoilers below. I suggest you wait to read this after you've finished reading the series. (Watching the movies does NOT count!)

First, some of what I liked:
  • Neville Longbottom! I'm so proud of that kid. I think he and Luna Lovegood should get married and have weird kids together.
  • Rowling's portrayal of our fallen human condition through the imperfect personalities of James Potter, Harry, Dumbledore and so many others. Though the plethora of magical plot devices wore on me at times, I particularly appreciated the way she portrayed Dumbledore's temptation to power. As Jeremiah 17:9 says: "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick, who can understand it?"
  • The tragic and trustworthy Severus Snape. His redemption and steadfast unrequited love for Lily Potter are one of the most beautiful aspects of this book. But sad. Really sad. Snape is another of those who so poignantly reflects our fallen-ness back at us.
  • Percy's change of heart and subsequent duel with the Minister of Magic.
  • Hagrid.
  • A unique application of the Christ-figure in the characters of Lilly and Harry Potter. I blogged earlier this year that Harry was going to die. Meg pointed out to me that Rowling was very careful with how she handled Harry's death-march to Voldemort and subsequent conversation with Dumbledore in the netherworld. But I still think Harry died. If he wasn't dead, where was he?
  • Hermione's "Jane Austin" kiss with Ron after he proves the change in his character by his concern for the house-elves.
  • A happy ending.
Now some of what I didn't like:
  • Rowling's view of life and death. A number of times, Rowling says that there are things worse than death, but she never comes close to speaking of hell. Within all the darkness of the book, death is often portrayed as a peaceful, even appealing. It is not. As a Christian, I don't like death. Death is the result of the fall of man into sin. Death is NOT natural. It is alien to God's original good creation and it is a just and terrible consequence of sin. But it will not always be so. Jesus will come again soon to destroy death for good.
  • Having Christmas presents but never talking about Jesus. Using cathedral-like architecture but never mentioning the church. Holding funerals but never even hinting at the reason why people do not have to grieve without hope. Yep, I'm a Jesus freak.
  • I still have no idea what Rowling has in mind when she writes of "a well-ordered soul." The idea of splitting a soul is entirely foreign to human experience. We are embodied souls. Horcruxes do not exist. Like so many false ideas that the church has faced over the centuries, Rowling is playing with spiritual ideas that have real moral consequences. I am fearful that many who do not know what the bible teaches about humanity will become even more confused. So many times people who conceive of the soul and the body as two separable parts get into big trouble. Remember the gnostics, the antinomians, the ascetics and the legalists.
  • With all the right and wrong in the Harry Potter series, there is not a clear understanding of the sinfulness of sin in these books. Too much misbehavior is marginalized as just "what wizards do". Harry and James and many others are poor heroes in this respect. And so much of this magic stuff is just plain selfish and evil.
I'm glad it's over. I'm done reading Harry Potter books.

This is a good series, but I do not recommend the last 5 books for children under 12 or 13. As always, parents must shepherd their children's hearts and watch that magic doesn't replace Jesus in our kids' affections. Have them read the Narnia books before they are 13.

This is a good series, but not a great series like Tolkien's Ring Trilogy. We shall see in about 20 years how this stands this test of time as another generation looks for summer reading.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to taking Megan on a date to the next Harry Potter movie.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dan & Tina are Married!

I love officiating weddings. Our friends Dan & Tina were married last night at the Wild Basin Lodge. The aspens had just started turning yellow. The outdoor ceremony was cool, but pleasant. It was a simple ceremony, with only a harpist accompanying the service. Dan & Tina's family and friends traveled from far and wide to be with them on their special day. We prayed for them. They honored their parents. I exhorted them to live out the biblical vision for marriage that Meg and I studied with Dan & Tina during our premarital counseling sessions earlier this year. They entered their marriage covenant with one another with a beautiful set of vows and rings. We prayed for them some more. I pronounced them husband and wife. They kissed. The crowd erupted in applause. It was a beautiful wedding. And FYI, the Wild Basin Lodge has the best wedding banquet fare I have ever tasted. The grilled salmon and buffalo roast last night was fabulous! The toasts were honorable, the cake was excellent and the dinner conversation was friendly. And yes, I danced with Meg and Anna (Sophie fell asleep on her chair).

May God's covenant of grace with Dan & Tina be the source of their covenant-keeping with one another in this marriage.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Cool River Church

Earlier today I enjoyed a prayer walk with my friend Kevin Colon, who is the church planter and pastor of Cool River Church. I love Kevin's heart for God and for people. I'm looking forward to more prayer walks through the Town of Superior with Kevin in the months to come. Thanks, Kevin!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Pray for Our Garbage Collector

Our garbage collector drives a side-loading collection vehicle that's a bit like this one. It's a really cool truck with these big mechanical arms that pick up the trash can and shake the trash into the truck. I love watching the trash truck.

Our garbage collector's name is Ismael. He has been a Christian for nearly 7 years and he prays for the people in the neighborhood as he drives his route. And he is grieving today, so please pray for him.

We moved into our home 4 years ago and that's when I met Ismael for the first time. He was willing to take a few extra boxes of stuff left by the previous owners and I was so thankful. We usually chat a little bit when we see one another, but lately that's only been once in a while.

Ismael usually runs his route through our neighborhood on Mondays. Monday is now my usual day off, so as I was running up to the school to pick up Anna & Sophie this afternoon, I saw Ismael coming down my street.

Honestly, I didn't expect him to stop and get out of the truck when I waved at him. And I didn't expect to see his eyes red from bloodshot like they were. I instantly knew something was terribly wrong and asked him what was up. And this is what he told me: "My wife died 3 months ago this coming Thursday."

His eyes were bloodshot because he had been crying and because he hasn't been sleeping well lately. Ismael's wife died from complications related to a long battle with fibromyalgia. She had endured extreme pain in recent years. Like me and Megan, Ismael and his wife have two little girls in elementary school.

I was able to talk and pray with Ismael for a while this afternoon as he took a break in the park just below the school near our house. He is a man who knows God through Jesus Christ, and he is holding on to God's promises in the Bible, but his heart is broken. He doesn't know how to answer his 8 year old daughter's questions like, "Daddy, why did God take away my Mommy and your wife?" He knows that God is good and sovereign and that as Christians we do not grieve without hope. But he looks tired and sad and he's doing his best to hold on.

Will you please pray for our garbage collector, my brother in Christ, Ismael? He's grieving today and he needs people like us to pray for him. Pray something like Romans 15:13, that the God of hope might fill him and his daughters with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, they may abound in hope.

If you do pray for Ismael, will you please post a short comment? I'm planning on seeing him again next Monday and stopping him to see how he's doing. I'd love to tell him that lots of my friends were praying for him too. Thanks.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Well, I'm sad. How could someone read this book and not feel sad at the end?

The themes of love and loss are compassionately handled by J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series. In this 6th book, there continues to be a strong theme of right verses wrong.

Like Megan, my favorite scene was when Fleur Delacour rebukes her future mother-in-law, Molly Weasley. Fleur had just staggered at the sight of her fiance Bill's facial wounds after his having been attacked by a werewolf.

"You thought I would not weesh to marry him? Or per'aps, you hoped?" said Fleur, her nostrils flaring. "What do I care how he looks? I am good-looking enough for both of us, I theenk! All these scars show is that my husband is brave! And I shall do zat!" she added fiercely, pushing Mrs. Weasley aside and snatching the ointment from her.

And who among us remains unaffected by the blossoming of romantic love between Tonks and Remus Lupin? Or Ron and Hermione? Or Harry and Ginny for that matter? (I'm hoping that Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood get together too). NOTE TO THOSE WHO HAVE READ BOOK #7: Please don't spoil the good stuff for me.

So, my dear readers, in the wake of Dumbledore's death and funeral, how shall we characterize Rowling's view of the afterlife? Yes, there are shadows of Christianity in the book, like Christmas and the little man in the black suit speaking at Dumbledore's funeral, but is this series built on a Christian worldview in any way? And as we learn about the divided soul of Tom Riddle (I'll say the name, VOLDEMORT!), how does Rowling see humanity? What does Rowling have in mind when she talks of "a well-ordered soul"? With all the right and wrong in the Harry Potter series, is there a clear understanding of the sinfulness of sin in these books? What about forgiveness? Could we ever trust Snape again? Will Harry ever be able to forgive Dumbledore for trusting Snape, after all that it appears to have cost him?

Let me know what you think by posting a comment.

PS: I even found myself having a smidgen of compassion for Draco Malfoy at one point. That was a shocker. How about you?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

We now have a website. Rejoice with us!

And FYI this was my 101st post this year!

Sometimes reaching the little landmarks does a lot to keep you going.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Montezuma Bowl

I am really looking forward to skiing Arapahoe Basin's new Montezuma Bowl in December.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Logos v.2.1

Hi friends,

What do you think of this one?