I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection
and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings,
becoming like Him in his death…
Philippians 3:10
So often when I view this verse, I get fired up about the first section on knowing Jesus and the power in His resurrection, but tend to be less than enthusiastic about the last part on sharing in His sufferings. That’s not something I want to aspire to. Do I hear a hearty “amen”?

The first car I drove after getting my license was a 1970 Ford Pinto Hatchback. You may have heard of them; they were recalled because of the gas tank exploding! When I went to college I took a well-used 1968 Ford station wagon. A few years later, I bought my first new car, a Ford Fiesta! I think you are getting the picture—my pocket book didn’t allow me to pick from the “top of the line” row at the dealership (the cars with all the extras). I don’t have a big problem with auto lust, but I wouldn’t mind taking a drive in a BMW or Audi sedan every once in a while!

When God made man, He didn’t hold back any of the options or extras.

A number of years ago, I spent some time in Indonesia. I loved my time there and grew to deeply love the Indonesian people. 

Part of the excitement of traveling internationally is the new experiences. While driving around various cities in Indonesia, it wasn’t long before I noticed very alert and still-standing police giving oversight to busy intersections. I was interested in how many there were and, curiously, that they didn’t move an inch. They were similar to what I imagine the guards at Buckingham palace are like. When I questioned my Indonesian host, he laughed out loud.

One of the not-so-wonderful tasks that follow a “total loss” (one of our new insurance terms) is itemizing every object that existed in our home the moment before it went up in flames. It’s called taking inventory.

Jesus said that a person’s life does not consist of the abundance of their possessions (Luke 12:15). I can attest that this is true. After having lost almost everything, do you know what our hearts miss most?

While sifting and sorting through what remains of our home and our earthly belongings, Pam and I sweated and wept as we looked through the ash heap and twisted metal that had fallen down to the foundation of what was our house. As we dug through various “rooms”  (imagine ashes and remains from the second story guest room, the first story dining room, and the basement storage room all in a 13X14 space) we saw a pattern: Not much survives 2,000 degree heat! What does remain? Metals, porcelain, fired clay pots . . . . We found things like china plates, coffee mugs, porcelain figurines and Christmas ornaments, flatware, copper pipes, and clay pots—much of which only exists in the form of interesting jigsaw puzzle pieces.

That day brought this passage to mind:

The last couple posts about fiery experiences in my life raise the question of God’s protection as described in Isaiah 43:2,3. What does it mean that “we will not be burned”? What does God’s promise of protection really mean?

As a 34-year-old, I led a group on a weekend getaway during a mission trip in Indonesia. That day was an outdoorsman’s delight: hiking to the rim of a volcano! It hadn't erupted in 16 years so it was supposed to be a safe yet adventuresome voyage. Go figure—the volcano erupted.

The recent Waldo Canyon Fire that consumed our home has caused me to think about other times I have encountered flames. (I'm noticing a new theme in my life!) I remember one incident when, as a 27-year-old dad, I used "improper fuel" to start the gas grill.

As I write, the fire in the mountains above Colorado Springs is 98 percent contained and has consumed 18,247 acres. It has been surreal seeing the destruction. At one point there were more than 32,000 people displaced and reports indicate almost 350 homes have been destroyed. Including ours.We are stunned by all this and sobered by the road that lies ahead for us personally and the city as a whole.  We are keenly aware that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity where the hope of the Lord is needed by many thousands of dear souls.

Just a few days ago, my wife, Pam, and I stood on a hilltop in the dark, surrounded by others watching flames and smoke swallow the foothills of Colorado Springs. We knew some of those blazes might be swallowing our home. Those around us feared the same. That night Pam and I held each other close and wept and prayed.