5:21 PM Just got back from our visit to Lake Tahoe. Hard to find the right adjectives to describe the sheer, overwhelming beauty. Awe-inspiring. Our hosts for the trip were Greg Kuehn, pastor of Sierra Bible Church, his wife Debbie, and Dave Smith, executive pastor. Dave and Greg have worked together for 17 years, and they kept us laughing the whole time. Lake Tahoe is the largest Alpine lake in the U.S., covering 191 square miles, with a circumference of 71 miles, and an average depth of over 900 feet. The lake is so deep that it never freezes. To get there, we followed a winding road across the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Dave said that during the winter, the road is sometimes covered with 10-15 feet of snow.

We stopped for lunch at the famous Cal Neva Resort on the north shore of the lake. During its heyday in the 50s and 60s, Hollywood stars flocked to the lodge. Frank Sinatra owned it for a few years and his "Rat Pack" often entertained there. It has long since been eclipsed by the newer and larger casinos on the south side of the lake. The resort takes its name from the fact that it sits astride the California-Nevada border. There is a gold/silver line painted across the middle of the ballroom, the gold side being California, the silver Nevada.

After lunch we visited the aptly-named Fanny Bridge where tourists come to watch the salmon run. After laying their eggs in the lake, the salmon swim up the Truckee River. We followed the river to Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Numerous ski lifts crisscross the mountains, and you can ride a gondola that appears to rise straight up the side of an enormous mountain. Greg says there is a fine restaurant at the summit. We made our way to Truckee, then traveled east on I-80 back to Reno. The change in scenery is dramatic. As you descend from 9000 feet you eventually come to a point where the trees disappear and the high desert begins. By the time we got to Reno, the mountains were bare. It is a stark landscape, barren but beautiful. And the air is crystal-clear. The brown mountains seemed etched against the blue sky, giving the effect of living inside a picture postcard.

8:13 AM We leave for the Holy Land Tour in 100 days, 1hour, 45 minutes, 47 seconds. Will you join us on this incredible journey to the land of the Bible?

8:02 AM A big Monday shout out from Reno to Deborah Homan in Tupelo, Randy and Sharon Lawson in Memphis, Terry Agal at Maranatha Bible Conference in Michigan, Roger Black at Living Waters Bible Camp in Maine, Don and Pam Proctor in Memphis, Jan Markowitz in Cleveland, Jeff and Mary Zimmerman in Memphis, Billy and Lori Culbertson in Chicago, Eric Rubio who cheered for the Huskies even though they lost on Friday night, Dick and Ann Baer in Waxhaw, NC, Young-Ah Ko who is writing a history of the First Korean Presbyterian Church of Los Angeles, Jim and Beth Sanders in Memphis, Macario de la Cruz Jr. in Phoenix, Dan and Linda Hoeksema in Memphis, and a special shout out to Ed and Pamela who are asking God to help them start a church planting movement in the barrios of Caracas, Venezuela

7:48 AM Greg Chadaranek sent along a link to the Vienna Hot Dog Factory Store in Chicago where you can even buy hot dogs by the case. He was definitely right when he added, "Now that's something you don't see in Tupelo."

7:34 AM We leave for Lake Tahoe at 9:45 AM.

7:26 AM Last night's service ended on a very moving note. After my sermon on Praying For Your Prodigal, the pastor asked everyone who a prodigal in their life to come forward for prayer. I suppose 30-40 people stood in front of the altar, many in tears. I led them in prayer, asking God to give us faith to keep on believing for our loved ones who at this moment are far from the Lord. Then the pastor asked them to spend time praying for the prodigals as they stood at the front of the church. I could hear whispered pleas to the Lord, as moms and dads and grandparents interceded for their children and grandchildren, as family members sought the Lord for brothers and sisters, and as others prayed for friends who are living in the "far country" away from the Father's house. Pastor Greg closed with a brief prayer and the service was over. But I noticed that many people lingered to encourage each other. God takes note of the tears of his people, and I believe many of those from whom we prayed will return from the "far country" of sin to the Father's house.

7:15 AM This morning the temperature in Reno is 39 degrees on its way to the low 70s this afternoon. Tonight the mercury will dip into the lower 30s, with snow possible above 6500 feet.

You can reach the author at  ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.