Week (-) 27 Update – Roughing it (not so) Smoothly

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Tiffin Motorhomes has a byline they place on the emblem they use for their motorhomes. It reads “Tiffin Motorhomes – Roughing it Smoothly”.

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Well, our maiden voyage was a bit less than smooth! We took our motorhome up to Rocky Mountain National Park for a few days of camping at Moraine Park Campground. We’ve camped there before in a tent and in our older Class C, but it’s been a few years. It’s really a beautiful campground, but things didn’t go as smoothly as we had hoped:

  • We drove without incident up highway 36 to Estes Park, but chose to avoid downtown Estes by taking highway 34 to the Fall River Entrance. Next time I’ll remember to use the lane that’s NOT constrained between two buildings. I didn’t hit anything, but it sure was a tight fit!Narrow Entrances
  • The Fall River Entrance road must not be used by large motorhomes as much because I hit an overhanging branch that apparently hadn’t been clipped before.Tree Branch
  • Our site (26A) at the campground was pretty, but while it is listed as appropriate for a rig our size, it was NOWHERE NEAR level. I had to fully extend the hydraulic stabilizers to raise the front wheels off the ground and it still wasn’t level… also leaving us with a HUGE step up/down at the doorway. highstep
  • We have a residential refrigerator (110V) and thus a power inverter to convert the four 6-V DC house batteries to 110V AC. I need to research this set up a bit more to understand it. Basically, things were fine the first 24-hours. We ran the generator for an hour after that to top off the batteries, but they went down overnight the second night so that we woke up without sufficient power for the furnace (it was 53 degrees in the coach that morning) or even to start the generator. We started the engine and then started the generator and ran it for about an hour and a half to recharge things.
  • The BIG problem occurred after noon on that second day. We had arrived with only a partial tank of fresh water and partially full waste tanks, because I wanted to also try out the filling/dumping process. We drove down to the campground dump station and did all that without any problem. The problem came when I needed to return to our campsite. To turn around, I needed to make a left turn to go around a campground loop to head the other direction. You can see in the picture below the dump station on the left. I needed to head out of there straight across to where I’m standing taking this picture, then swing left to go up the loop road. Note the orange cones. They aren’t just cones. The one on the right is actually sitting on a protruding PVC pipe (for underground wiring). My exhaust pipe caught that cone and got pulled off its bracket and onto the ground. The rear wheel caught on the exhaust pipe and I was stuck. I couldn’t lift the pipe and couldn’t go forward. A ranger and another camper helped me (along with a bit of rope) to keep the pipe elevated enough to make it out the exit and onto the side of the road.20170614_095222.jpg20170614_100900
  • I called Tiffin’s wonderful roadside assistance and they arranged for a tow truck (semi-size) to come up. Unfortunately, the tow driver got called to an emergency semi roll-over before he got to us and was unable to come that night. Se we packed everything we needed in the convertible and went home (an 90 minute drive away). We returned the next morning to meet the tow driver (Kevin from Reliable Towing in Longmont). He was absolutely wonderful. He looked at the pipe and told us he thought he could fix it and save us (and him) the stress of getting towed. He took the exhaust pipe off, straightened it, removed the bent bracket, and wired it solidly back into place for us. He then followed us down Highway 36 to Lyons at which point we parted company.

We decided that since we were so close to Loveland, and we had seen a nice RV park in Loveland on the way home the previous night, we would call to see if they had any openings. They did and enabled a wonderful two-night stay for us to finish out our first excursion and try out camping in a park with hookups. The folks at Loveland RV Resort were very helpful with “first-timers” and made us feel very much at home and successful with our first RV park stay in our new home. Some of the park sites are a bit close together, but there are lots of shady cottonwood trees, the park is very clean and well-kept, and the staff is unbelievably friendly.

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We also got to visit the Benson sculpture garden in Loveland. It is a fabulous “walk in the park” featuring over 150 sculptures.

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As this week comes to a close, I’ve thought a bit about all the events that transpired. In the moment, several of them seemed almost overwhelming, but in retrospect, we were always safe, we were surrounded by friendly helpful people, and we were able to accomplish our goal for the week, which was to learn what we don’t know about our motorhome. We met a very nice retired couple from Aurora (but originally from Illinois) who had some great stories and advice (in Moraine Park CG). We had a very nice lunch with my sister and brother-in-law, who came up to visit on our first full day. We met a very nice couple in Loveland who are from Albuquerque. The rangers, campground host, Tiffin customer service, tow driver, insurance agent, RV Park hosts – all served as reminders that God does not leave us alone but surrounds us with the help we need in the time that we need it.

When Jesus sent the twelve apostles out in Matthew 10, he said,

“Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13” href=”https://www.esv.org/Matthew+10/#f4-“>cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

This reminds me that I need to be willing to (1) receive help from those we encounter, (2) always treat them with gratefulness, honor and respect, and (3) make sure that every action and word of mine allows the peace and kingdom of God to be revealed. These people would not have crossed my path had not all the events of this week transpired exactly as they did! Thank you, God, for the opportunities you gave me, and forgive me, Lord, for the opportunities I missed! Help me to be aware, and make others aware, of your awesome glory!

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Oklahoma City National Memorial

I had a chance to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial and adjoining museum recently. It was a stunning reminder of the April 19, 1995 bombing attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, and the months and years of recovery, investigation, and trials which followed. The exterior grounds (the actual memorial) is operated by the National Park Service and the museum is operated by a non-profit foundation.

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Tons of emotions were evoked in me as I wandered through the exhibits and grounds. Sorrow. Empathy. Anger. Bewilderment. At first I was embroiled in sadness for the families of the 168 who were killed (and 680 others injured). Then I was focused on both anger and bewilderment at how or why individuals could possibly justify such acts of destruction and complete disregard for human life. Then in the quietness of wandering the memorial grounds outside I began to think about how these acts affect God, and the following three observations came to mind.

  1. God was and is grieved when evil manifests itself. People struggling with tragic events such as this or any other tragedy they’ve faced will sometimes ask, “Where was(is) God in all of this? How could he let something like this happen?” Even believers may wrestle with these questions, and skeptics will even go so far as to suggest that these types of events prove that there is no God, or at the very least that He doesn’t care. This is often referred to as the problem of evil and is discussed in numerous other venues, such as this and this.I want to point out, though, that the Bible is very clear on how much God hates evil and grieves over its impact. In Psalm 10, David (the presumed author) begins by asking the question, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Yet he confidently asserts a few verses later (vs. 14), “But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless.”

    God is not unaware of our pain. He grieves when His people are in turmoil, even though they may be rejecting Him. He used the prophet Hosea to reiterate this point when he said, “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? … My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.” (Hosea 11:8)

    The writer of Hebrews even reminds us that “since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  (Hebrews 4:14-16)

  2. Ultimate justice will be meted out. When one reads a statement like this in the context of something like the Oklahoma City bombing, a natural reaction might be, “Yes! Justice must be served! They deserve the harshest punishment possible for what they’ve done.” Indeed, that is a common theme through scripture. Consider again some of the Psalms, with statements like “For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.” (Psalm 37:17), and, “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psalm 1:5-6).

    Isaiah also speaks of God’s judgment on the wicked. He says, “I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.” (Isaiah 13:11) Even in the New Testament, Paul asserts, “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 5:5)

    We may very well read verses like these and feel very confident in the fates of terrorists who harm innocent people. However, let’s stop and consider that phrase “innocent people”. It’s easy, perhaps, to place people whom we deem as “evil” at the head of the line of people deserving God’s punishment, but imagine lining up all the people in the world in a line like this. McVeigh and Nichols, and others who have committed egregious crimes can be at one end of the line and people might get progressively better as you move back through the line. So now, decide where the cutoff point is. Where do you draw the line and say that people on one side of that line deserve God’s punishment and the people on the other side of the line don’t? That brings me to my final observation.

  3. My sin is just as grievous to God as Timothy McVeigh’s and Terry Nichols’.

    Yep.

    The measuring stick or line that determines “good” and “bad” is determined by God, and based on God Himself. God is completely good and holy and righteous. When He is recognized as the standard to which all definitions of “good” should be compared, nothing else comes close to measuring up to that standard. God cannot allow any thing that is less than His standard of “good” into His presence (heaven). Paul makes the following observation in Romans 3:9-12:

    What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

    This is bad news for us. No one has a chance of being declared righteous based on their own deeds or lack of misdeeds. However, the good news is that Jesus fulfilled the requirement of God’s goodness and perfection. 2 Corinthians 5:21 states, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Did you catch that? 

  • For our sake – God knew that we couldn’t help ourselves out of our mess, so He provided the solution for our sake.
  • he made him to be sin who know no sin – Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life, so God made him to “be sin” by allowing Jesus to take upon himself all the sins of the world and die a sacrificial death on the cross in the place of the sinners who actually deserved such a punishment.
  • so that in him we might become the righteousness of God – Because of Jesus’ death, and the fact that he won the battle with death and rose from the dead as evidence of the victory he had won, we have the opportunity to become righteous and good in God’s eyes. How?

John 1:11-13 states, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” When we receive Jesus, believing in what God affirms about him and trusting that God will count his righteousness to us, we become the righteous people that God expects. Not righteous because we do certain things, but righteous “of God” – He declares us righteous because we are linked inseparably to His righteousness – Jesus!