Sunday, January 22, 2017



The little country of Guatemala is spotted with numerous volcanos strewn about in many of its regions – both dormant and active volcanos. The southern part of the country is very mountainous and has about thirty in all. It was on one New Year’s Day when we were living there, that my son Levi and I thought that a nice way to begin the New Year would be to hike up volcano that we had not yet climbed. We had trekked various other ones before that time, but this one, we had not. It was the volcano named Santa Maria, located in the western part of the country.

How the volcano looked the day before we climbed it
Actually, it was on the previous Thanksgiving Day when we had decided to do this. Since we had no turkey on that day, instead of eating a banquet, we decided to climb a different volcano that was closer to our home. That particular day turned out to be such a crystal clear and wonderful day, that from the top of the peak, we could look down much of the line of volcanoes that runs along this southern mountain range of Guatemala. The range is called the Sierra Madre de Chiapas.

On that day, we could count what we thought were at least eight of these volcanos. One of the further ones that we could see was the dormant volcano, Santa Maria. This volcano, despite being one of the furthest ones that we could see, was only about a half a day drive from our house. We decided right then, on the top of that Thanksgiving mountain, that on some clear day in the near future, we would go a nearby town, get a hotel, and climb it on the following day.

The town near the volcano is called Quetzaltenango, but the original Mayan name for the town is Xelajú. The Mayan name means “Under the ten peaks.” This is because the town sits in a valley surrounded by ten mountains. The volcano Santa Maria is one of these mountains.

Sunday, January 1, 2017


The meaning or the significance of a title can change over the years. For instance, during the Revolutionary War, to be an “American” was synonymous with one who held strongly unto the values of our emerging nation. Today, the term American does not necessarily carry this same inherent meaning. Many who are called American in these days do not believe in the form of government that was initially drafted in the founders of our country. Today, to be an American means nothing more than someone who is from America, regardless of their beliefs concerning the system of government and the guiding values of the country.

It is much the same for the term Christian. To be called a Christian today does not nearly have the meaning that it did originally. Much as the term American has ceased to be synonymous with the principles of the founders, to be called a Christian today also does not necessarily mean that one agrees with what Christ and the early apostles taught. It is in fact, even more difficult to give a realistic contemporary definition to the term Christian than it does to the term American.

However, at its core and true to its origins, what it means to be a Christian must be one who follows Christ. This in fact, is exactly the sentiment of the first Christians. They actually did not even at first call themselves Christians, but instead described themselves as followers of “the Way,” probably having some reference to the words of Jesus when he said “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6). The Way was actually quite a descriptive term for them, since the teaching of the early church centered on the way of God (Acts 18:26). 

I’m a Christian Cheesehead

When the term Christian began to be used, it seems not to be one that the early believers chose for themselves. It was one that apparently was given to them by the people in the city of Antioch (Acts 11:26). I read in a couple of different sources that the people of Antioch were especially fond of giving nicknames to people. They gave nicknames to their kings. The term Christian may have at first even had somewhat of a derogatory connotation, but the early Christians of that day instead took it for themselves and even took pride in it.

In this regard, it is much like our Wisconsin affection for of calling ourselves “cheeseheads.”