Persevering through the struggle... Psalm 40:3

Recently I ran with a 12 member relay team a difficult 200 mile relay race. Setting a pace and perseverance was key to completing the three 5-8 mile legs each team member was assigned to run. How do you continue without being discouraged and quitting? For me, I would breathe in rhythm and sing songs to keep my mind off the physical pain. Nik Ripken in his book, “The Insanity of Obedience” highlights the practices of the persecuted Christian. One of those practices, is that the persecuted believer has hymns and spiritual songs memorized. During difficult days and seasons, the persecuted believer sings these hymns and spiritual songs as a way to persevere.  Psalm 40 is a psalm of perseverance. David writes, “He has put a new song in my mouth. Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:3, NKJV). Do you begin and end each day singing hymns and songs of praise? Do you give praise to God during the difficult seasons of life?

Recently I ran with a 12 member relay team a difficult 200 mile relay race. Setting a pace and perseverance was key to completing the three 5-8 mile legs each team member was assigned to run. How do you continue without being discouraged and quitting? For me, I would breathe in rhythm and sing songs to keep my mind off the physical pain. Nik Ripken in his book, “The Insanity of Obedience” highlights the practices of the persecuted Christian. One of those practices, is that the persecuted believer has hymns and spiritual songs memorized. During difficult days and seasons, the persecuted believer sings these hymns and spiritual songs as a way to persevere.

Psalm 40 is a psalm of perseverance. David writes, “He has put a new song in my mouth. Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:3, NKJV). Do you begin and end each day singing hymns and songs of praise? Do you give praise to God during the difficult seasons of life?

It's MORE than camping..... Proverbs 17:22 NIV

It's MORE than camping! Participants who attend a ReCreation Adventure come for a variety of reasons. Some may have just experienced a difficult season in life and need spiritual renewal, comfort, and encouragement. Families come to draw closer together and cross generations to mentor one another. Men from churches come to grow together and discover how to lead their churches more effectively. Student ministers bring their students to let them experience what it means to be a team, problem solve, and face challenges together. The goals of ReCreation Adventures are threefold. Practicing LEAVE NO TRACE ethics, reaching and discipling people with the gospel, AND having fun! "A cheerful heart is good medicine" Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)

The Bridge - John 14:6

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In the Grand Canyon, Arizona, the corridor trails run south to north. The Colorado River runs east to west. There is no possible way to cross the canyon (rim to rim) without crossing the Colorado River bridge. The same is true in our quest for heaven or eternal life with God. There is only one way to get there. Good deeds will not get you across. Wealth or even knowledge is not enough. Only by grace through faith in Jesus is the bridge to get you there! Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NKJV) JESUS is the bridge! Have you stepped across the bridge by faith? If so, who are you leading across the bridge?


Under His Protection - Psalm 91

Hiking the South Kiabab trail in the Grand Canyon can be an inspiring experience! Hiking the canyon with children can be a challenge! Recently, I day hiked the Grand Canyon with a family of children and as we completed the hike back to the south rim it began to hail. We all immediately huddled under a large tree to keep from getting hurt by the pelting hail. Seconds later the father of the children pulled out an emergency blanket from his daypack and the adults in the group held each corner of the blanket to protect the children from the downpour of hail. The moment reminded me of the 91st Psalm. A psalm of protection! "I will say to the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God in Him will I trust. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge." (vs. 2,4)

Don't stumble! Look up!

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The Ouachita Trail stretches for more than 200 miles from eastern Oklahoma to central Arkansas. There are many scenic vistas to enjoy along the trail. However, many sections of the trail are showered with large rock. One has to be cautious of the rock to keep from tripping or stumbling while at the same time enjoying the vistas and remaining on the marked trail. In our journey through life, Satan desires to trip us or cause us to stumble by taking our eyes off our Savior and guide, Jesus! Our own self ambition and a number of other things could cause us to stumble. May we be reminded of what the writer of Hebrews shares about running our race of faith and keeping our eyes fixed on Him! "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, LOOKING UNTO JESUS, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV

BREAKTHROUGH!!

I love what I would call a BREAKTHROUGH moment in the wilderness! The sun peeks out after an afternoon rain shower. My thirst is quenched from drinking water from a crystal clear flowing stream or standing in the warmth of the sunlight moments after a frosty early morning! The two words BUT GOD represent breakthrough moments or events in biblical scripture. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. BUT GOD demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." (Rom. 3:23, 5:8) "BUT GOD, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. By grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4,5) I am grateful for the breakthrough moments in my life, when God took over! Because of His grace you can experience a breakthrough moment and have abundant life! Are you in need of a breakthrough only He can provide?

The Heavens Declare!

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This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon! When I was a kid my brother Ronny and I would set up makeshift tents in the backyard and enjoy the moon, stars, and milky way on warm summer nights. I've often wondered if today's astronauts and the astronauts of yesteryear felt the same as the psalmist David. "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, and night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. (Psalm 19:1-3) In his time in the wilderness, David points us to the existence of God. You were created for His purpose. Created to bring glory to God. How is that going?

I didn't sign up for THIS!

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Things happen in the wilderness experience that frustrate us! Continuous pouring rain, extremely cold days and nights, pestering bugs, or even burning a perfectly good warm meal. THAT was not in the glossy brochure!!

The same is true in the Christ Life. There WILL be difficult days. Unexpected death, career disappointments, and even being ridiculed or persecuted for living out our faith. Is this what I signed up for?

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him’.” Lamentations 3:22-24

We can use the ‘unexpecteds’ in life in one of two ways: we can allow those difficulties to consume our thoughts and actions so that we are not following the Lord or not being used for His purpose OR we can allow the Lord to refine us and help us grow in our Christ-likeness.

What unexpecteds have you faced?  Where will you put your hope?


Press on!

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As I was trekking across the White Mountain Wilderness this past weekend, I was in the anchor position.  I usually chose this position in the group for the basic reason of being able to encourage those who may potentially be falling behind the rest of the group. I have hiked this trail many times and I knew the awesome wonder that these hikers were going to see!  I started to get anxious to see the view again and almost started to pass some of the slower hikers so I could experience the beauty. But I stopped as I noticed some of the hikers were getting tired and discouraged. It is hard to keep on going when the trail is steep and you have no idea of how much further you have to go and you aren't even sure it is something you want to finish!  I shared with the other hikers the beauty they would see when they reached the top and encouraged them. They found it within themselves to keep going.  Once we hit the summit, they shared how it was so worth the effort they put in to reach the top!

As we journey on our Christ life, we go through hills and valleys. In Philippians 3:12-14, Paul wrote, "Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Paul was encouraging us to keep on going! 

Hebrews 12:1-2 also says "Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." We all have friends and loved ones who have already joined Jesus in Heaven. My mom, dad and brother are there.  They are experiencing the vastness and awesomeness of Jesus' presence and glory!!  They are encouraging me to 'press on' as they have already hit the 'summit' and have seen what I am hoping to see one day!

Likewise there are those in our faith families that have already walked where we are currently walking and they have seen the reward of keeping the faith and staying close to the Lord. As a faith family, we should be encouraging those around us who are going through valleys where we have already been and share with them the joy of hitting the summit on the other side!

Take heart and Press on!

The Ultimate Quest

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LESSONS FROM THE OUTDOOR CLASSROOM!

If you enjoy climbing/mountaineering you know the goal/evidence of climbing many of the US high points is the USGS marker.

What is the goal/evidence of the follower of Jesus?  Love God, love others, and live in obedience to Him! How is your quest? Matt. 22:37, Luke 9:23

Brittle vs. Solid Foundation Matthew 7:24-27

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LESSONS FROM THE OUTDOOR CLASSROOM! This picture is an example of the brittle and broken sandstone and gypsum found in Caprock Canyon, TX. Matthew writes in his gospel, whoever hears His sayings and does not do them is like house that will crumble when the storms of life come. But those who hear his sayings (or Word) and does them, when the storms of life come, his house will remain firm on solid rock! (Matt. 7:24-27) Are you prepared for the storms of life? On whom/what is your foundation?

M.A.W.L. Titus 2

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LESSONS FROM THE OUTDOOR CLASSROOM! ReCreation Adventure Ministries teaches the basics in outdoor cooking as a life skill. M.A.W.L. (Model, Assist, Watch, and Leave) The same is true in teaching (discipling) the Christ life. Model the christian life, assist (help) the new believer by doing life with them, watch them (encouraging them along the way) and leave them to disciple or teach others!

Titus 2

Proverbs 27:17

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The Grand Canyon National Park, it’s employees and volunteers, have gone before us blazing and maintaining the trail system for hikers to enjoy. So grateful for first century believers (i.e. Peter, Paul, John, James) who blazed the trail showing us how to live out our faith. Thankful to Alan and Lee Seay who mentored my wife and I in early years of ministry. There is always someone watching how you conduct yourself. Who are you mentoring? Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another."

Psalm 57

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In Palo Duro Canyon, Texas there are a few small caves to explore and enjoy. Being in cave brings a sense of protection and refuge. The young shepherd David fled from jealous king Saul for ten years and many times hid in a cave. David expressed in Psalm 57 that God was his refuge and his soul rest in Him! Where is your refuge? Where is your cave?

1 Peter 2:21

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When backpacking in high altitudes during the spring or summer months there are times where you may be treking through deep snow. If you are following one of your buddies you will want to step in their footprints because of the uncertainty of what is beneath the deep snow. A tree stump beneath the snow can rip up an ankle or leg. More than a hundred years ago Charles Sheldon wrote a book entitled "In His Steps!" Though we all are sinners we are to trek for purity and holiness. Peter writes, "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21

 

Philippians 3:12-14

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This picture is of course the south rim of the Grand Canyon! Backpacking rim to rim in the canyon brings physical, emotional and spiritual challenges to the forefront. Heat, discomfort, perseverance...just to name a few! But the greatest reward is reaching the opposite end of the canyon! Our greatest goal is hearing our Lord and Savior "well done" because of God's mercy and grace in our lives! Philippians 3:12-14.

Leviticus 23

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When I lead groups of people into wilderness areas we typically live in rain flys or tents for several days, sometimes a whole week. There are practical and theological reasons for doing this such as remembering our dependence on God in every way. It is significant for the Jews that the Festival of Booths (Leviticus 23) is annual and last for a week. One would not have the same experience if he were sleeping in the comforts of his home at night. The same is true for people enjoying the wilderness. There is something special about having extended time in makeshift accommodations that forges trust in God. Its actually a biblical idea to plan a weeklong camping trip with your family or friends! Don't feel guilty for taking time off to make this happen-it's biblical!