Someone thought some of the ideas from Sunday were so inspirational that they should be published. What you see below is what I speak from, so to get details and pictures one has to go to the website to listen and view the Powerpoint slides. Hopefully it is as enjoyable to read as it was to ponder and prepare.
Every so often an event occurs in life that causes me to reflect on the entirety of life. Such an event occurred this past week.
As many of you know, it is a life goal of mine to summit all 59 fourteeners in the state of Colorado. That goal is close to realization. This past Tuesday, I was fortunate to summit #’s 57 and 58.
On August 25th, I, along with nearly 15 plus friends from CRBC will be sponsoring a 14er climb to help raise funds for a ministry called Wilderness Ministry Institute. Their mission is to train gospel leaders in predominantly Islamic countries like Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Nepal, Uzbekistan, and more. Therefore the training is usually clandestine.
Included in the DNA of our church family is the funding, prayer, and participation of ministry groups in the vein of WMI. CRBC is pleased to help WMI continue training leaders in “the uttermost parts of the earth.”
And to link a fund raiser we believe in with on my life passions is about as high an high as I could possibly walk in.
Our church family has decided to adopt Castle Peak as the 14er we plan to climb. I can’t wait to pray and proclaim Jesus from the summit of that mountain that day. It is no coincidence that Castle Peak has our town and church name attached to it. This is part of a divine work on Father’s part to keep who we are and what we are all about in the forefront of our vision and focus.
Now as part of the 59 fourteener list, I have already climbed Castle Peak, however, right next to it is Conundrum Peak. I chose not to climb Conundrum that day, it is still a puzzle why I did not do so. Now I know why- to participate in this event on Aug. 25th.
Some people say that the game of golf has the highest metaphorical parallel to life than any other game, hobby, or activity. I can’t say that I know this as I am not a golfer. I do however know many golfers who have made such a claim.
For me however, the sport of mountain climbing has been the vehicle for volumes of examples, illustrations, and lessons pertaining to life.
So today, rather than following the liturgy of the denomination, we are going to venture off trail just abit. We will dive back into Luke 17 next week, but today the Holy Spirit me to do something different.
As a disclaimer, the intent of today’s discussion is not to point towards myself, instead some of the spiritual ideas and lessons gleaned from the Holy Spirit in the many treks I have had the privilege of making in the most beautiful state in all the world.
Recently, someone described me as a quirky theologian. So in the vein of peculiarity of action, it is my hope that my ruminations on life are a life-giving blessing to you.
Disclaimer number two, I am not presenting a ‘pie in the sky in the great bye and bye’ list that each of you has to follow in life. These are some ideas and things the Holy Spirit has shared with me as I have spent many an hour walking along thinking about life. They may pertain to you or not. If they bless you, great. If not, just smile at me as though they are.
Here we go: 1. The presence of God.
“You will know that the divine is so great and of such a nature that it sees and hears everything at once, is present everywhere, and is concerned with everything.” Spoken by Xenophon yet attributed to Aristotle.
One of the things I have learned about being out in the forest, is that Father is not just here at “church.” I can have a meaningful, spiritual experience staring at a seriously rugged mountain.
I can’t remember the hike I was on one time. It might have been Huron Peak. I walked around a corner and was struck with awe at the ruggedness of the mountains. Then the thought came to me, what if there were no human beings to marvel at the creation, who would. Animals don’t pull off at a scenic lookout and gaze “ooooo ahhhhhh.”
No, Father created those incredible views just for us. Just for us to say, “wow, what an incredible artist our Heavenly Father is.” He did it just for me to say, “Truly amazing.”
I have been in some areas backpacking all by myself and had the strongest sense of Father’s presence in my life. It isn’t about church being the only place you sense the grace of God.
Psalm 139:7-10 “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”
Regardless of what it is you are doing for the day, invite Father to be a part of it. Invite him into your work-life, invite him into school, invite him into your drive to work, invite him into what ever you do. He wants to hang out with you and reveal things about his nature and character to you. Things that can change your life for good.
2. Have some things in your life you want to accomplish.
I don’t run without a goal. And I don’t box by beating my fists in the air. (1 Cor 9:26 CEV)
I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done. (Phil 3:14 CEV)
I often think about my purpose on this planet.
I think about who I was created to be.
I think about how I was wired.
I think about my reputation and perceived integrity.
I think about my legacy.
I reflect on who I want to be.
I think about things I want to do in life.
Bucket lists became popular when the movie “Bucket List” came out. Since then lots of folks have written lists of things to do before they “kick the bucket.”
I think these lists are pretty cool. I think it provide forward thinking. Rather than just live life, thrive while you do it.
There is an acronym floating around right now. #YOLO. “you only live once.” Some think it is sophomoric. Others think it is an excuse for bad and risky behavior.
I like Jesus’ way of saying it better, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
The website “The Cool Hunter” had a recent article entitled “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” Good stuff, here is the link.
3. Sometimes there are multiple ways to get to the intended goal. Listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit. The Peak to Needle traverse.
Tell the story of being on top of Crestone Peak and the decision to change plans. Scared, nervous, “I don’t need to be a hero on this one.” It is ok to go another direction, even if it added a few miles and a couple more thousand feet.
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice saying, “This is the road! Now follow it.” (Isaiah 30:21 CEV)
I can’t say that I know what would have happened had we gone the way of the traverse, but I am here now.
4. My Heavenly Father is with me all the time. Eerily similar to #1, but may be the most important of the list.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1NIV)
“He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;” (Psalm 23:3b-4a CEV)
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Is. 43:2 NIV)
5. If I have climbed a mountain before, I can do it again. If Father has done it before, he will do it again.
There are times in my climbs when I am gassed. I am bonking cuz I am so tired and have, what I think is, no energy. I may look at the conditions and say, “How in the world am I going to do this?”
When Ryan and I were motoring up Crestone Needle, I was scared, I was tired, I was not really wanting to do what I was about doing at that moment.
Yet, there was an assurance. There was a drive. Yes, I had done it before, so why would it not occur this time.
I have the same statement or idea about my faith in our Heavenly Father. If he has done it before, he can and will do it again.
If it has looked like things were going bad and there is no way things will work out, I just need to remember who God is and my issue of faith.
My faith is strengthened when I recall, Father did it once before, he will do it again.
“For we live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor 5:7 NIV)
“But I hope that as you become stronger in your faith, we will be able to reach many more of the people around you. That has always been our goal.” (2 Cor 10:15 CEV)
6. A little encouragement goes a long way.
My climbing partner this past Tuesday was Ryan Bernhardt. I often remind him that he is half my age. He scurries along ahead. Then stops and waits for me to catch up. In typical fashion, I do catch up, Ryan is sitting there all calm and collected, as I breath the deepest breaths I have ever taken in my life. I look up at him cross-eyed, and he always has something positive and kind to say. “Tah- dah.” Or “Yah- Who” or “you are doing great.” Or we have just done some crazy Class 5 move and he’ll say, “Piece of cake.”
It is so much more fun to hang around folks who are encouragers than Debbie Downers. And I want to be an encourager to folks.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thes 5:11 NIV)
“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.” William Arthur Ward.
7. Three Points of Contact
Explain what this is. Occasionally though, and depending on the steepness of the mountain, a five points of contact is a safer technique.
The safety of firm contact points! I know it sounds simple, but think about it. Life should be simple and not complicated. We can make it so complicated.
When Ryan and I were on the mountain, I asked him what kinds of life lessons he has learned from climbing mountains- his answer was, “Just hang on.” Well that works too.
For me there are two “three points of contact” scenarios.
One is 1. Prayer 2. Bible reading and 3. Fellowship with other Christians.
The other could be an offshoot of #3. Three friends, I can hold onto in the event stuff is falling apart around me.
How can you get this if you don’t have it.
- Pray for it.
- Ask God to put some key people in your life that will be that solid foundation for you.
- Join a Small Group.
- Be connected to people. Be vulnerable. Share you life. Be smart about it though. It can take time to be comfortable with someone.
To close, one of the things I do in life is look for spiritual lessons no matter where I am. Whether it is watching a movie, watching the Olympics, or backpacking, there are ways Father expresses himself and issues of life. You just have to be thinking about it.