Sunday, August 18, 2013

Missed Chance To Wok The Dog

I am not especially fond of our dog.

My days often start before the sun is up and much of my antipathy towards the dog is rooted in the number of times I've been walking to my car in the pre-dawn darkness and planted a half-awake foot in some unpleasantness she insists on depositing in the center of our driveway.  Got a whole yard-full of grass but the only place she'll leave these bundles of joy is smack in the middle of the driveway.

Then there's the fact that she barks at everybody.  Everybody.  From two-year-olds to grandmas and everyone in between.  Friends, enemies, red and yellow, black and white...she's an indiscriminate barker.

Got a new neighbor recently and I asked how he liked the area.  "It's great except for that dog of yours.  She barks at everybody."  Tell me about it.

I should mention that she pees in the driveway too.  Generally not too much drama on this one... unless it's rained.  Then you have no clue which puddle is loaded.

Did I mention she's covered in mange?

The low point of my day (assuming I got lucky and made it through the driveway-minefield with no trauma) is pulling back into that same driveway after work to be jumped on by a frenzied, mange-covered dog.  Why she's happy to see me I have no idea.  Believe me, I give her zero encouragement (I can do the 'mind-over-matter' thing, but I just can't bring myself to pet mange.)  And trying to keep her down is as futile as trying to keep her from barking... which, incidentally, is the only way I get a break from the jumping-on.  Some innocent soul will walk by and she'll tear her mangy self off me and sprint after said innocent soul, barking up a blue streak. Based on their use of language, she apparently scares the innocence out of a lot of souls.

Not fond of the dog.

So yesterday, one of our neighbors asked if they could cook the dog for a birthday party they were planning.  Not kidding.

My dear wife told them no.

She told them no.

I'll let you know when I recover from the depression.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

An Outhouse With a View

In 1989 my uncle, Greg Gordon, built a cabin on the top of East Haven mountain in Vermont. Check out

The Cabin.  East Haven Vermont.
On the opposite side of the summit from 'The Cabin' is the only outhouse I've ever seen with a picture window, offering glorious views of Vermont's mountains during what is otherwise a rather inglorious undertaking.

A couple of weeks ago, after landing at a mountain runway here in Papua, I clambered over the edge of the airstrip to rid myself of a cup of coffee that had made its way from my thermos to my bladder.
At 6000 feet above sea level,
Okpahik clings to the side of one of the Star Mountains.
Lo and behold I was greeted by the incongruous sight of an outhouse precariously clinging to the cliff.  Someone, quite some time ago by the looks of things, had anticipated my need.  I must say that this outhouse, due to its sad state of repair, gave even better views than the one on East Haven Mountain.  With no front, the whole thing was a picture window and the view of the Kiwirok valley was unparalleled.  With the roof long gone, one even has a view of the heavens whilst performing the most earthy of tasks.

While the business end of the outhouse (i.e. the hole in the ground) still seemed quite functional, the wooden boards around it didn't appear to be very trustworthy.  Since I could think of several hundred other holes I'd rather fall in, I chose to take my business elsewhere.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Another Stowaway

I am, of course, kidding.  Not a stowaway.
Two pups were legit passengers on a recent flight
and I couldn't resist the photo op.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Bucket List (Back To Pipal Part III)

Gonna add that to my Bucket List.  

The fact that I think in these terms shows how prone I am to swallow concepts the world feeds me without much of a second thought.  A second thought would, it seems to me, reveal that making a list of self-centered things to do before I kick the bucket is simply the current recycle of the 'you only live once, pack as much in as you can' philosophy that sketches out the road map for the broad path.  The whole idea runs squarely against the flow of Christ's lonely call for us to seek first his not-of-this-world kingdom...and allow the Master to sort out which of life's amazing experiences he'll have us encounter along the narrow way.

And what happens if we ever get the list done?  What then?  Ever met anyone checking off the last box on their bucket list?  I wonder what sentiment you would find there.

A short time ago, I actually had the experience of witnessing a man check off the last box on his life's to-do list...though I am positive he'd never heard of a bucket list.

With the first test landing successfully completed (see previous post), the day came for the official opening of the airstrip at Pipal.  We brought government inspectors in along with Bram and Pak Aby (Bram's mentor).  At some point in the festivities, Paulus says, in earnest,

Now I can die in peace.  
The last thing that I have prayed that God would allow me to accomplish, 
the opening of an airstrip for my people, 
is finished.

Having brought the Gospel over the mountains for the people of this entire area, and having watched it begin to transform an entire culture, Paulus' home village remained one of the few groups in the area without direct access to the outside world through an airstrip.  This mission was the last thing he wanted to see happen before his waning years came to an end.

Now I can die in peace.

To die in peace.  Now there's something worth adding to our lists.

And then I begin to wonder... how much different would our lives be if we made a list of things we wanted to happen after we kicked the bucket?   Call it the post-bucket list.

The days when I'm even partially successful at keeping what happens after my last breath in view are remarkably different than those days when I'm striving towards something that won't outlast my own visit to this planet.

When I step back and set the goal of conducting the next hour of my life in such a way that I might hear 'Well done!' from my Master...well, then life takes on real meaning, is guided with clarity and filled with peace.

Lots of churches have wings, right?  Aby delivers a message.

Rapt attention.

Paulus and Aby... warriors both.

What I would give to be there when the missionary with the net bag
 and stone ax meets Jesus face to face.

Pray for Bram as he continues his outreach to the people of Pipal.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Chickens (Back To Pipal Part II)

Kept bumping into chickens the other day.  

The first one was me.  I've long tried to maintain the right dose of coward in my soul... tends to aid longevity in this line of work.  First landings at new airstrips may seem like the kind of thing missionary pilots live for, and to be sure, they are momentous occasions.  But this particular missionary pilot is getting old enough that adrenaline has lost much of its novelty and elevated risk gives me heartburn.  That said, at some point somebody has to go break these places in, and so, after getting a good look at the airstrip on 6 May via helicopter (see previous post), it was time to go back in to Pipal in something with wings attached to it.

Eight days after the helicopter foray I was once again overhead Pipal.  Mark Hoving was along as an extra set of eyes to help identify those "that looks dumb, let's not do it" scenarios.

We took our time flying test approaches and mapping out what altitudes to use over various landmarks along the approach path.  The airstrip is located in a tight little box of a valley that allows you in, but at about a half a mile from touchdown becomes so tight that you can't turn around and get back out.  We needed to make sure that we were spot on passing that point of no return.  

Below is the runway chart that came out of all of our buzzing around that morning (thanks to Courtney Zehr for his charting wizardry).

After satisfying my inner chicken, we finally jumped in with both feet, flew past the committal point and landed.  Parking on the tiny flat spot carved out at the top of the 15% slope we were soon surrounded by a throng of Ketengban dancing away in their Sunday best. What a party.

Welcome to Pipal!
A bit hard to see, but note the Bird of Paradise plume
placed in Mark's hat to honor him as guest.

Laitus is Pipal's chief.
It took awhile, but once the hubbub died down we proceeded to install the runway markers.

Looking down the newly-marked airstrip at Pipal.
With our work done, we all head off to feast.
One thing you learn quickly about Papuans is that they really know how to party.  I think Jesus feels so at home with them in that regard.  They prepared a feast to mark the important day in their community's history and Mark and I had the privilege of sharing it with them.  Pigs are slow-cooked by super-heated rocks in a manner similar to a Polynesian luau. Tender and delicious.  This is also where I met the second chicken of the day.

Mark and I were given the assignment of finishing off this massive pile of pork.
We did it great harm, but ended up taking probably 40 pounds of meat home with us. 

The chicken was all ours as well... I stayed busy with the pork.
I'm privileged to know many followers of Jesus in the West who keep very loose hands on their possessions, giving generously.  We operate millions of dollars worth of aircraft that remind me of that fact every single day.  

Papuan followers of Christ will not be outdone.  As we were preparing to get back in the airplane to leave, Paulus, the man who has spent his life bringing the Gospel to this remote area, presents me with a gift of a chicken (this one very much alive and feathered).  When I think about the percentage of this man's material wealth that he gave me so freely, I am ashamed at how painfully I part with much, much less.

As a filthy rich missionary, I could do nothing but graciously accept the incredible gift from my even richer Papuan brother... who sleeps under a grass roof deep in the Star Mountains.

The Third Chicken

Has not God chosen those
who are poor in the eyes of the world
to be rich in faith
and to inherit the kingdom
he promised to those who love him?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Make Friends With Helicopter Drivers (Back To Pipal Part I)

A year after hiking into the airstrip site at Pipal (full story here) we were finally able to get it open for service this past month.

A report filtered out of the jungle that the Ketengban community in Pipal had finished the work required...the airstrip was now landable.  

Having not been on the ground in Pipal for twelve months I wasn't particularly excited about the first landing on the unproven airstrip.  What fun, then, to hear that Helivida, one of our partners in ministry here in Papua, were going to have a helicopter in the Pipal area.  I jumped at the chance to not have to choose between a couple days of tough hiking and scaring myself in the airplane.  Helivida graciously agreed to let me bum a ride.  

And so, in early May, I found myself looking down at the same river, the same terrain that had taken five hours of hard slogging to traverse on foot back in April 2012.

The helicopter made the exact same trip in, get this, four minutes.  That's one minute of flying time for every hour and fifteen minutes of walking (and this particular walk--perhaps because of this particular walker--involved multiple falls, spills and losing my footing crossing rapids.)

Thanks Helivida!

Sunday, June 16, 2013


This little guy tried to get a free ride the other day.  My colleague Brian found this green tree frog in a fresh air scoop on the airplane we were readying for flight.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Eight Years Later

Eight years ago I flew a man named Melky from our base on the coast across the high mountain ranges into the small village of Langda.  Graying at the temples, this grandfatherly guy clutched a newborn baby boy to his chest.  An unwanted child.

As pilots in Papua, we're often privileged to enter into the critical scenes of the dramas happening around us.  The vast majority of time, after playing our cameos, we exit stage left, move on to another play and don't get to see how the original story turns out.  Occasionally there's an exception.

A few months ago I was back in Langda.  The fog was rolling in fast and I needed to unload my cargo and get out of there as quickly as practical.  Two passengers wanted to come out to town with me, one of them a familiar face.

"I want you to meet someone," Melky says to me.

I'm a bit hesitant, glancing nervously at the wall of fog to the south as Melky disappears into the crowd at the edge of the airstrip.  Moments later Melky reemerges with a little boy in tow.

Do you remember?  
In August 2005 you flew us in here.  
My wife and I have been raising him ever since.

These are the people I choose as my heroes.  Anonymous, little people, doing much harder things than I, sacrificing so much more...doing it cheerfully and taking the time to thank others who have played bit parts in their dramas.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Dallas Willard...absent from the body

Just saw that Dallas Willard is now face to face with his Master.

Great post here from Scot McKnight and John Ortburg.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Fly Over Country

Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy was one of the very few books we brought overseas with us way back when we first launched this journey.  Great book.  And now I've finally gotten around to reading Willard's The Spirit of the Disciplines.  

I have imagined myself as one attempting to imitate Christ, but Willard shows me for what I really am.  I tend to read the Gospels with an almost exclusive focus on the red letters (well, they used to be red anyway).  Much of the narrative black print between the red lettered sections had become fly over country for me.  Interesting terrain to look down at from thirty-thousand feet, but I'm more or less biding my time until I arrive at my destination: the rich teachings of the Master.

The call to "follow me" had been reduced to "follow my teaching."  I have spent far more energy trying to follow what Jesus taught than I have attempting to mimic how he actually lived his life in those long stretches of black print.

And Willard calls our attention to this.  If we hope to become Christlike, we follow the Master's way of life, not just his amazing teachings.

Willard points out that Jesus was, well, Christlike--sermon-on-the-mount-like--in the crisis moments of his life not simply because he was Christ, but because he had been training for these moments all of his life.  Reading the narratives we see how he wove into his life a pattern of spiritual disciplines that kept him connected to his Father and developed deep patterns of Godliness that enabled him to react in a Godlike way when the evil moments were thrust upon him.

Willard contends that it is ludicrous for followers of the Master to expect that we will be able to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, love our enemies, hide the good that we do--to be like Jesus in these more extreme moments--if we have not trained as he did in the everyday flyover country of our lives.
We cannot behave "on the spot" as he did and taught if in the rest of our time we live as everybody else does.  The "on the spot" episodes are not the place where we can, even by the grace of God, redirect unchristlike but ingrained tendencies of action toward sudden Christlikeness.  Our efforts to take control at that moment will fail so uniformly and so ingloriously that the whole project of following Christ will appear ridiculous to the watching world.  We've all seen this happen.
The secret?  Jesus' secret?  Spiritual disciplines.  I did a quick scan of the Gospels, and the numerous disciplines Jesus practiced jumped off the pages.  Some were not so obvious: though we don't see it described, his discipline of scripture memory must have been astounding--word-perfect recall after not eating for forty days?  In my quick sweep of the black-lettered narratives, I frequently caught Jesus in the practice of solitude and of prayer.

Alone.  On a mountain.  Praying.

And he says, follow me.

If there was an easier way, 
you better believe Jesus would have been the first to tell you.

--Dallas Willard

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Garbage Church

The small group of believers we worship with is a motley crew of messed up people if there ever was one.  Any given Sunday sees the rough block building with the uneven cement floor and the cheap plastic seats filled with prostitutes, drunks, swindlers...and a bunch of the rest of us more normal sinners.  We are all in the process of being transformed by our encounters with Jesus.  The pastor himself is an ex-drunk whom Jesus turned into one of the most passionate preachers I have ever heard.

Every Sunday we have an open mike testimony time, and it can be surreal.  One of the women in the the church shared that she had finally submitted to conviction and gone to ask forgiveness from the woman she had stabbed for cheating with her husband.  A young man shared recently that the reason he's there is because he'd seen the guy playing the bass guitar take a dramatic turn from a life of destructive sin to one filled with joy, purpose, job and family. He wanted his own life, currently caught in the self-destructive vortex of drugs/sex/drink, to experience the same change.  Last week a woman asked for us to pray for her as she tries to reach out to the woman who is currently sleeping with her husband.

One of the leaders told us that some in town refer to the place as The Garbage Church.  Human detritus filters in here.  So much so, that when the pastor saw our neatly dressed missionary family slip in the back for the first time his shocked mind assumed we'd gotten lost and wandered into the wrong place. Three weeks in a row I've watched the same toddler pee smack in the middle of the center aisle while her barefoot mom looks on adoringly.  The barefoot mom and her brood are fresh out of the jungle.  Simple, uneducated, dirty clothes...and welcome here.  Eventually they'll figure out there's an outhouse behind the church, but until then no one scorns them.  After all, how much effort does it cost us to step across a puddle on our way to the front at offering time?

And it seems to me that Jesus actually goes out of his way to encounter the prostitutes, drunks, swindlers, and kids who pee on the church floor.  He seeks out the broken.  He doesn't seem much interested in those who think they're something special.

Been poking around the first book of Peter, and have been hit by the words from Proverbs that Peter quotes towards the end of his writing:

God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.

Kind of lays out God's stance pretty clearly.  If I am proud, the God who created the universe is in opposition to me.  If I am broken, he's on my side.

What a gift to be surrounded by people who remind me to stay broken.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Close To Danger, Far From Harm

Tim Harold

We crossed the abrupt drop-off at the beginning of the airstrip a few feet above the ground doing something like 65 mph.  For some reason, on this day, the thought flashed through my mind that if, in that critical second, we bumped the power back ever so slightly, we'd land short of the airstrip and strew expensive aluminum all over the place.

Most of the time I don't think about stuff like that.

But occasionally I have one of those hyper-aware moments when the reality of what you're doing snaps into uncomfortable the fact that you're taking a 5000 pound projectile freight-training along at 100 feet per second and attempting to slide it into a 100 foot box at the business end of a patch of ground carved out of no-nonsense jungle.  Successfully pull that off and you find that your real fun is only now have to figure out how to corral the hurtling beast to a stop on a surface with the same consistency as the stuff coming out of a two-year-old's nose...and this needs to be done with some dispatch lest you exhaust the snotty--but mercifully treeless--surface, slide off the far end of the airstrip into the no-nonsense jungle...and strew expensive aluminum all over the place.

Draconian rules require that you keep your eyes open through the entire process.

Life's a bit like that too...except, you are allowed to close your eyes.  And most of us do, creating the warm illusion of a safe and secure world where danger resides far, far away...somewhere on a CNN homepage.

The reality is, that once sin broke this incredible, used-to-be-perfect place we live in, death and danger became our constant companions.  They are just a bump of the throttle away.

But what if... 

What if that which is most real, most valuable and most desirable to me is also totally secure and absolutely untouchable?  What if no one, no event, no circumstance, no illness...nothing can take away what is most important to me?

Ah, now danger still surrounds me, but harm?  

I'm far from harm.

No matter what happens.

Even if the throttle gets bumped.

For I am convinced
that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither height nor depth
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us 
from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Isn't This Worshiping God?

Klaus & Jerry busted up our pilot meeting the other day.  Two old guys with a long history in Papua.  They just walked in and gave us all a magical moment.  Jerry was a pilot, Klaus a missionary among the Fayu, one of the most remote and primitive people groups out here. Jerry pokes his video camera in each of our faces and asks us about ourselves.  He gets to the end and says,

You guys are the next generation.  
Keep fighting the fight. 

Klaus points at me and says, "I knew this guy when he was just a kid in Nepal."

He gets teary.  "His Dad checked the first translation I ever did, the Gospel of Luke."

I get teary.

With Klaus
Klaus and Jerry have just come from Nepal, where the small body of believers that Klaus knew when he left in 1976 has done what followers of Jesus always do when they are persecuted: they blossomed.    Jerry tells us there are 100 congregations in the people group now.

A few days after they crashed our meeting, Brad flew Klaus and Jerry out to Fayu territory.  The reception was enormous, Fayu raucousness.

A week later, it's Saturday evening, and my phone is ringing.  Jerry is desperately ill, can we pull him out on Sunday?  Fayu land is so far from Sentani that we can't round trip it without refueling...but I don't want to have to stop for fuel if Jerry is as bad as I'm being told.

Yajasi makes a difference out here only because we're a team.  Tonight, the team comes through.  Sony and Jason give up a chunk of their Saturday evening to install the extra fuel tanks under the Porter's wings.  In the dark.

It's still dark the next morning when my beat up Landcruiser and I head to the hangar.  I'm the last one there.  The team is already in high gear.  Iput is finishing fueling the under wing tanks. Bekah is on the radio, checking the weather at our destination and will stay and flight follow us all morning.  Yafet and Eko are tying down the load and getting the stretcher for me.  The team is gung-ho, moving fast and really kicking it getting the airplane ready.  I thank the guys profusely for working on a Sunday morning.  Quizzical, Yafet looks up from putting away extra cargo straps and asks, earnestly,

Isn't this worshiping God?

These brothers of mine get it much more than I do at times.

An hour and forty-five minutes of seemingly endless rain forest puts me over the village of Dirouw.  Moments after landing Klaus is standing at my open cockpit door.  His face is wan and strained.  I can tell he's been through a tough 24.

"Nate, I am so glad to see you.  I am so glad to see you.  Yesterday, I thought I lost him.  He was totally unresponsive."

We get Jerry on the stretcher.  The Fayu chief prays for him.

Four days later I saw Jerry again.  This time he was 100% vertical.

Apparently God listens to Fayu chiefs.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Lost Man

Through gray tendrils of rain, fellow pilot Zach Osterloo and I had enough visibility to see the distinctive outline of the sharp cliff that stands as the sentinel landmark at the mouth of the Bime valley...but it was obvious that the weather was telling us to stay away.  We turned towards the east and set down in the community of Borme to wait for Bime's weather to improve.

As per usual, there was soon a small throng of people around the airplane, some of them friends I've known for a very long time.  We were chatting about how bad weather for a pilot is a bit like the warnings God has communicated to us in His Word: for your own good and safety, don't cross that leads to disaster.  

After a while a church leader approached me and said, "There's a guy here who is actually from Bime, but he's lost.  He's been wandering in the jungle like an animal for months and nearly drowned in the river the other day.  He doesn't have a mind.  He's not really like a human anymore.  He has no family here, they are all in Bime...can you take him back there?"

I asked if he'd ever been violent and they told me that he was docile.  "He's just not there anymore," they said.  I asked to see him and they brought him over.  His blank, expressionless features were simply heart-rending.

None of our Bime-bound passengers were willing to give up their seat for the lost man, so I was trying to figure out how we were going to make this work when Zach said,

Leave me here.  He can have my seat.

And so, when the rain stopped in Bime we were able to return the lost man to his family.

I can easily imagine Zach as the one in Mathew 25 asking his Master, 

When were you sick and I helped you?

And I can hear the Master's reply, 

I had a brother in Borme.  
He was at the bottom of the refuse pile.
People said he wasn't human anymore.
You gave up your seat for him.

Makes one wonder why it was raining in Bime that morning.  Maybe for the sweet potato crop. Maybe because it's a rain forest and, well, there's a reason it's called that.  Maybe for a lost man named Arin.

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, 
you did for me.

Lost man.
Jesus calls him brother.

photo: Zach Osterloo

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

God Knows Her Name

Long day of flying today with my colleague Jeffron.  We worked with Helimission to get the Wilds back into the Wano people.  (A while back Justin Taylor on his blog over at The Gospel Coalition  posted some really cool videos on the Wilds ministry among the Wano tribe--worth checking out.)

We also were able to fly the Crocketts back to Daboto for them to continue their work among the Moi (the last time I wrote something about the Moi was here.)

On the radio, we had heard there was a patient and some passengers in a place called Iratoi.  So, after dropping off the Crocketts in Daboto we headed over there.

All we knew: a patient.  Hear the pleas on the radio to pick up patients almost every day we fly.  Here was today's patient:

This beautiful little girl rolled into the fire while sleeping.  Happens all too often.  Her burns weren't as extensive as others I've seen and someone with some basic medical training in the village sprinkled penicillin on her I'm hoping she's got a pretty good chance of healing.

Pray for the little girl in Iratoi...I've forgotten her name.  God hasn't.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bokondini. And Books.

Not sure it gets much better than this.  A simple cottage in the mountains, rain on the roof to rhythm you to sleep at night, bacon breakfasts on the wood stove, stream fed micro-hydro electricity 15 hours a day...and shelves full of books.  The three of us are just finishing up a great break in Bokondini (central highlands of Papua.)

Too much rain clogs the hydro inlet with debris...
and gives us an excuse to have a candlelit dinner.

Speaking of books, here are ten I read in past year that were particularly good.  In no specific order:

Paul Miller: A Praying Life.

Learned desperation is at the heart of a praying life.

The eminently quotable G.K. Chesterton makes my list three times.  All three classics are well worth reading, and the Kindle versions are free.


There is one thing that Christ and all the Christian saints 
have said with a sort of savage monotony.  
They have said simply that to be rich 
is to be in peculiar danger of moral wreck.

If our faith comments on government at all, its comment must be this:
that the man should rule who does NOT think he can rule.

...the more I considered Christianity, 
the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, 
the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.

Mysticism keeps men sane.  
As long as you have mystery you have health; 
when you destroy mystery you create morbidity.  
The ordinary man has always been sane 
because the ordinary man has always been a mystic.

The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens.  
It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head.  
And it is his head that splits.

All Things Considered

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. 
An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.

In the end it will not matter to us whether we wrote well or ill; 
whether we fought with flails or reeds.  
It will matter to us greatly on which side we fought.


But in order that life should be a story or romance to us, 
it is necessary that a great part of it, at any rate, 
should be settled for us without our permission.

Exactly at the instance when hope ceases to be reasonable 
it begins to be useful.

Maurice Herzog: Annapurna

A mountaineering classic that inspired a generation of mountain climbers.  This is one of the few tales of the modern era that deservedly brushes up against the label epic.  In 1950 Herzog and his team first had to find Annapurna before they could climb it...and in doing so be the first humans to stand on a peak higher than 8000 meters.

In my worst moments of anguish, 
I seemed to discover the deep significance of existence 
of which till then I had been unaware.  
I saw that it was better to be true than to be strong.

Ed Viesturs: No Shortcuts to the Top

Viesturs was the first American to summit all 14 peaks higher than 8000 meters.  I found it fascinating that his success (and survival--the mountains claimed many of his colleague's lives along the way) was due in large part to the number of times he turned back--often within sight of the summit.  This came from his unyielding adherence to his philosophy of mountain climbing:

Reaching the summit is optional. 
Getting down is mandatory.

This struck me as so central to how we achieve safety in the unforgiving environment of flying light aircraft in Papua that we've pilfered Viestur's motto, modified it, and adopted it as a flight department:

Completing the mission is optional.  
A safe landing is mandatory.

Dallas Willard: Hearing God

A great companion to Brother Lawrence's The Practice of the Presence of God  and Frank Laubach's Letters by a Modern Mystic

In the last analysis nothing is more central 
to the practical life of the Christian 
than confidence in God's individual dealings with each person.

Laura Hillenbrand: Unbroken

Quite simply one of the best stories I've ever read.

David Platt: Radical the American dream, where self reigns as king, 
we have a dangerous tendency to misunderstand, minimize, 
and even manipulate the gospel 
in order to accommodate our assumptions and our desires.

The cost of nondiscipleship is profoundly greater for us 
than the cost of discipleship.

David Watters: At the Foot of the Snows

I recently posted on this one...fantastic read of God moving into the hearts of a remote Himalayan people group.