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Putting on Our Spiritual Hiking Boots: Becoming a Seasoned Hiker

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We all know it—experience is the best teacher. The more you do something the better you become. The more you hike, the stronger your hiking muscles. And the greater your stamina and perseverance to reach your destination.

As you gain more experience in the different types of trails and difficulty, you become more confident in trekking through the woods. Instead of being capable of only doing an easy 1 mile stroll along a river, you’ll be able to hike a difficult 10 miler up a mountain with glorious views along the way. This is called training, and we need it in every area of our lives—including our walk with Christ.

Just as in hearing or reading about trail descriptions doesn’t get us into hiking shape, neither does gaining knowledge about this Christian life make us spiritually mature. Applying them consistently does.

By humbly accepting God’s path for you and exercising your faith and will “muscles,” you will become a seasoned mature hiker in God’s territory.

The more experience you get in trekking with God…

The more familiar you become in understanding His character and His ways. You’ll be better able to recognize His trail markers and remain on the right path.

The more you will learn to trust in Him as He proves Himself faithful. The more confident you become in your Trail Guide rather than in your own abilities.

The better you’ll become in dealing with the large boulders and stream crossings of life–becoming wise as to whether to go over, around, or via a different route. Obstacles will be seen as:

  • stepping stones instead of stumbling blocks
  • opportunities to learn and grow
  • wonderful challenges instead of drudgery

The more willing you’ll be to attempt difficult trails (=ministry opportunities) despite the hardships you know you will encounter on that path. You will see them as adventures—not hardships.

The more you will be rewarded with great sights of God’s beauty and glory; the greater your contentment and joy because you know you are pleasing your Guide.

The more you’ll be able to persevere and get back up when you fall; the less likely you’ll turn around or give up when you encounter tough areas.

The more you will be able to rest and relax, without fear of the unknown path ahead.

 

The more you’ll be able to enjoy the journey. To stop and appreciate the beautiful and interesting sights along the way—even though they pale in comparison to your ultimate destination.

(Just a few of the amazing things I’ve seen on my hikes)

The more you will take time to look back and see how far you’ve come and realize that this was indeed the best path to take.

The more you’ll understand that your Guide is less interested in your pace than in you staying on the right path, being with Him, and maturing.

And

The more your love and adoration of God will grow along with a closer intimacy with Him.

As a seasoned hiker you’ll be able to pass on your knowledge and experience to others. You’ll be able to show others the right and only trail, train them how to hike the difficult sections, and help them develop trust, adoration, and love for the One and only true Guide to our heavenly destination.

 

I want to take as many as I can to that magnificent glorious view up there! Will you join me in my trek upwards? There’s plenty of room on this non-crowded trail. And IT WILL BE WORTH IT!

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…. One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:12-14)

 

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

Putting on Our Spiritual Hiking Boots: Lessons from Mt Ida

Free Download

There we were, 20 years ago hiking up Mount Ida in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It was a tough 5 mile trek up to the nearly 13,000′ peak—a significant climb even if you are in good shape, which Ed and I were back then. What made this hike especially difficult were the many large boulders we had to clamber over. With my short legs—well—you get the picture.

The rock scrambling really slowed us down. But we finally made it! The view at the top was spectacular with a 360° view. It was definitely worth the effort!

We rested, ate, and savored the glorious sight. Knowing we shouldn’t dilly dally, we reluctantly started downward. Colorado mountains are notorious for their afternoon thunderstorms and it was getting late.

Ed, being a wonderful protective husband, decided we would try a different route down to avoid the boulders. But then we lost the trail! Eventually he told me to stay put while he attempted to relocate the trail. When he got back, he said, panting “I have good news, and bad news.”

“What’s the good news?” I asked with hope in my voice.

“The good news is I found the trail. The bad news is there’s a storm brewing and the trail is that way,” as he pointed up to an area filled with boulders!

Well, it’s one thing to be psychologically geared up to ascend a mountain, but quite another to have to climb it again. Not to mention we were already weary from our journey. It was doubly hard.

We trudged along as quickly as we could. The sky got worse and soon it was raining. Fear gripped me as I envisioned twisting my ankle or falling over the rocks. Plus, we were above tree-line—on tundra, which meant we were the tallest things at that spot! So if lightning struck it would either hit Ed or me. It’s really kind of funny to think that this vertically challenged person of 5 foot was the second tallest thing on top of a mountain!

In addition to being frightened and exhausted, I was confused. That morning I had asked God if it was safe for us to go on such an arduous hike. I sensed that it was.

I cried out to God as I tried to surmount yet another large rock, “Should we not have gone, Lord? Did I misunderstand You? I thought You said it was safe for us to go.”

Suddenly I realized—we were still safe! I remembered the peace He had given me about this trip. Focusing on that kept me going instead of being paralyzed by fear.

Well, we did get back in 1 piece—shaken, spent, but safe.

~~~~~

What did I learn from this crazy experience?

  • Running into obstacles doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve made a mistake.

And even if you did, you can learn from it. Life is full of obstacles. We can either climb over them, go around them, or be stopped by them. With the Lord you can make the right choice.

  • Choosing your own way—even with right motives, often leads to unnecessary pain and greater difficulty.

You must seek God’s way.

  • Your actions affect others.

Though well-meaning, Ed made a wrong decision. We both suffered. (Mind you, I never held it against my wonderful man.)

  • God is faithful and protects His own

—despite our weaknesses or wrong choices (Ps 103:14).

  • You can learn to recognize God’s leading.

I was right when I sensed that it was ok to go. I had “heard” God correctly. My confidence in discerning God’s way increased which gave me great peace.

 

So my friends, I hope you also will learn from your experiences. I would do this crazy adventure of 20 years ago all over again!

The splendid view, memories, and lessons were well worth it!

 

P.S. I AM going to be able to do it again! Going to Colorado this fall. I never dreamt it would have been possible!

The Red Flag of Ho-hum Christianity—and 10 Tips to Prevent it!

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Every time I:

  • See a Passion Play
  • Think of how God saved me from an eternity in hell
  • Recall that moment in time when the “Hound of Heaven” caught me; when my eyes were open to the truth of the gospel
  • Think how wonderfully different my life in Christ is
  • Remember how I have been set free
  • See people without Christ, knowing their eternal destiny will be horrendous
  • See Christians not availing themselves of the abundant life Christ has provided…

I become very emotional!

Well, what else would you expect from an emotional yoyo?! Seriously though, we should get choked up—at least a little—when we think about what Christ has done for us.  

If you ever get tired of hearing the gospel; if it ever becomes ho-hum to you—BEWARE!!! There is something drastically wrong in your Christian walk.

 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! (Rev 3:16)*

As you can see from God’s Word this is a very serious matter. We are never to take our new life in Christ for granted. We are never to forget the tremendous cost needed to restore mankind’s relationship with its Creator. We are never to become ungrateful for all that Christ has done for us.

You remember, don’t you? How the Lord repeatedly warned the Israelites not to forget what He had done for them.

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live…. (Deut 4:9)**

So if:

  • Easter has just become another day to enjoy spring
  • You yawn when your pastor talks once again about how to be saved
  • Your heart isn’t touched when you hear about persecuted Christians
  • You have no time or interest for the things of God anymore

Beware! This is a red flag of utmost importance!

As the robot used to say in that old TV show Lost in Space, “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!”

I urge you to please examine yourself.

If your heart has grown cold, God is longing for your return with open arms.

“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” (Joel 2:12)

If you haven’t grown cold—Alleluia! That is the work of the Holy Spirit keeping you faithful and close to Him.

I don’t EVER want to become ho-hum in my walk with Christ. I pray that describes you as well. Here are 10 things we can do to prevent that:

1. Stay in God’s Word everyday—read, listen, study, and meditate

2. Communicate with God in prayer throughout the day

3. Think about God as you go about your day/practice the presence of God

4. Keep short accounts with God, i.e. as soon as you are aware of sin, confess and repent

5. Submit and obey God

6. Serve wholeheartedly

7. Fellowship with other believers, especially those who are on fire

8. Sing and/or listen to praise music

9. Go down memory lane with your Savior and recall all the things He has done for you—of His goodness, mercy, faithfulness….

10. Ponder where you would be without Christ—both now and forevermore.

In a nutshell:

Commune with God your Maker!

Then your heart will remain warm and tender; you’ll recognize the warning signs of ho-hum Christianity early on.

So my friends, if your life has become empty perhaps you have forgotten the empty tomb. Take it as a red flag that you have wandered away from God. Go back and remember the gospel and all that it signifies. That will keep your life filled with joy, peace, and excitement!

 

*Scripture taken from New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

**THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.

Putting on Our Spiritual Hiking Boots: Becoming a Seasoned Hiker

Free Download

We all know it—experience is the best teacher. The more you do something the better you become. The more you hike, the stronger your hiking muscles. And the greater your stamina and perseverance to reach your destination.

As you gain more experience in the different types of trails and difficulty, you become more confident in trekking through the woods. Instead of being capable of only doing an easy 1 mile stroll along a river, you’ll be able to hike a difficult 10 miler up a mountain with glorious views along the way. This is called training, and we need it in every area of our lives—including our walk with Christ.

Just as in hearing or reading about trail descriptions doesn’t get us into hiking shape, neither does gaining knowledge about this Christian life make us spiritually mature. Applying them consistently does.

By humbly accepting God’s path for you and exercising your faith and will “muscles,” you will become a seasoned mature hiker in God’s territory.

The more experience you get in trekking with God:

  • The more familiar you become in understanding His character and His ways. You’ll be better able to recognize His trail markers and remain on the right path.

  • The more you will learn to trust in Him as He proves Himself faithful. The more confident you become in your Trail Guide rather than in your own abilities.
  • The better you’ll become in dealing with the large boulders and stream crossings of life. Becoming wise as to whether to go over, around, or via a different route. Obstacles will be seen as:
    • stepping stones instead of stumbling blocks
    • opportunities to learn and grow
    • wonderful challenges instead of drudgery.
  • The more willing you’ll be to attempt difficult trails (=ministry opportunities) despite the hardships you know you will encounter on that path. You will see them as adventures—not hardships.

  • The more you will be rewarded with great sights of God’s beauty and glory; the greater your contentment and joy because you know you are pleasing your Guide.
  • The more you’ll be able to persevere and get back up when you fall; the less likely you’ll turn around or give up when you encounter tough areas.

  • The more you will be able to rest and relax, without fear of the unknown path ahead.

  • The more you’ll be able to enjoy the journey. To stop and appreciate the beautiful and interesting sights along the way—even though they pale in comparison to your ultimate destination.

  • The more you will take time to look back and see how far you’ve come and realize that this was indeed the best path to take.
  • The more you’ll understand that your Guide is less interested in your pace than in you staying on the right path, being with Him, and maturing.
  • The more your love and adoration of God will grow along with a closer intimacy with Him.

As a seasoned hiker you’ll be able to pass on your knowledge and experience to others. You’ll be able to show others the right and only trail, train them how to hike the difficult sections, and help them develop trust, adoration, and love for the One and only true Guide to our heavenly destination.

I want to take as many as I can to that magnificent glorious view up there! Will you join me in my trek upwards? There’s plenty of room on this non-crowded trail. And IT WILL BE WORTH IT!

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…. One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:12-14)

 

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

Putting on Our Spiritual Hiking Boots: Lessons from Mt Ida

Free Download

There we were, 20 years ago hiking up Mount Ida in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It was a tough 5 mile trek up to the nearly 13,000′ peak—a significant climb even if you are in good shape which Ed and I were back then. What made this hike especially difficult were the many large boulders we had to clamber over. With my short legs—well—you get the picture.

The rock scrambling really slowed us down. But we finally made it! The view at the top was spectacular with a 360° view. It was definitely worth the effort!

We rested, ate, and savored the glorious sight. Knowing we shouldn’t dilly dally, we reluctantly started downward. Colorado mountains are notorious for their afternoon thunderstorms and it was getting late.

Ed, being a wonderful protective husband, decided we would try a different route down to avoid the boulders. But then we lost the trail! Eventually he told me to stay put while he attempted to relocate the trail. When he got back, he said, panting “I have good news, and bad news.”

“What’s the good news?” I asked with hope in my voice.

“The good news is I found the trail. The bad news is there’s a storm brewing and the trail is that way,” as he pointed up to an area filled with boulders!

Well, it’s one thing to be psychologically geared up to ascend a mountain, but quite another to have to climb it again. Not to mention we were already weary from our journey. It was doubly hard.

We trudged along as quickly as we could. The sky got worse and soon it was raining. Fear gripped me as I envisioned twisting my ankle or falling over the rocks. Plus, we were above tree-line—on tundra, which meant we were the tallest things at that spot! So if lightning struck it would either hit Ed or me. It’s really kind of funny to think that this vertically challenged person of 5 foot was the second tallest thing on top of a mountain!

In addition to being frightened and exhausted, I was confused. That morning I had asked God if it was safe for us to go on such an arduous hike. I sensed that it was.

I cried out to God as I tried to surmount yet another large rock, “Should we not have gone, Lord? Did I misunderstand You? I thought You said it was safe for us to go.”

Suddenly I realized—we were still safe! I remembered the peace He had given me about this trip. Focusing on that kept me going instead of being paralyzed by fear.

Well, we did get back in 1 piece—shaken, spent, but safe.

~~~~~

What did I learn from this crazy experience?

  • Running into obstacles doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve made a mistake.

And even if you did, you can learn from it. Life is full of obstacles. We can either climb over them, go around them, or be stopped by them. With the Lord you can make the right choice.

  • Choosing your own way—even with right motives, often leads to unnecessary pain and greater difficulty.

You must seek God’s way.

  • Your actions affect others.

Though well-meaning, Ed made a wrong decision. We both suffered. (Mind you, I never held it against my wonderful man.)

  • God is faithful and protects His own

—despite our weaknesses or wrong choices (Ps 103:14).

  • You can learn to recognize God’s leading.

I was right when I sensed that it was ok to go. I had “heard” God correctly. My confidence in discerning God’s way increased which gave me great peace.

 

So my friends, I hope you also will learn from your experiences. I would do this crazy adventure of 20 years ago all over again!

The splendid view, memories, and lessons were well worth it!

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