Mountain Climbing—What It Takes and Why We Do It

March 12, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Don Otis –

George Mallory, a member of the 1924 Mt. Everest expedition, was asked, “Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?” Without hesitation he replied, “Because it’s there.” That famed and ill-fated expedition saw the death of Mallory and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine. They were last spotted within several hundred yards of the summit before disappearing for the next 75 years. Mallory’s body was found in 1999. To this day, no one knows for sure if they reached the summit but that just adds to the often mysterious nature of mountaineering.

I can’t remember a time in my life that I wasn’t climbing on something, somewhere. Perhaps it had to do with being chased by an older brother. I found that if I scrambled up the side fence of my southern California home, I could shimmy my way up the wood shingles and escape his grasp for as long I was willing to remain planted there.

I graduated, of course, to bigger and better challenges. Some of my experiences are a bit humorous, dangerous, and embarrassing. And after more than half a century, you accumulate plenty of experiences–good, bad and everything in between.

Since moving to Colorado in late 2007, I found myself on a mission to conquer as many of the 14,000’ peaks as my budget and time would allow. There is something magical about standing on top of a peak and looking down, surveying the landscape and the winding trail to the top. There are easy climbs and daunting hair-raising climbs. I have been on both kinds.

If you asked me the same question the press asked Mallory, I would give a bit lengthier reply: Climbing and hiking in the mountains engages our physical and mental strength. There is nothing predictable about climbing, as there is nothing predictable with life. We live with an illusion of control. Climbing is less about the destination than the experience.

Fortunately, for those of us who live in Colorado, we are blessed by our Creator with many places to wander. Last year I reached the summits of thirteen of the 14,000’ peaks here in the state. One of these, Mt. Lindsey near Walsenburg, was fraught with challenges from the start. The trailhead had an eighteen-inch-diameter aspen lying across the road. I parked where it fell and hiked the last three miles to the trailhead. Then, the skies filled with black clouds. Lindsey was far off in the distance and shrouded in clouds. I was alone—contemplating what to do.

We persevere in the mountains the same way we do in everyday life. We feel like giving up. We get off track, exhausted or second-guess ourselves. That day I chose to keep going, in spite of the imperfect conditions.  Scrambling up through talus, spitting rain, clouds, delicately picking the cairns (piles of rocks) that mark the path, eventually there was no place higher.

I am not the only one scampering around the Rockies looking for adventure. Others have taken up the challenge and ecstasy of hiking or climbing in the backcountry. As someone who has stood on 32 of the high summits, I love nothing more than to see others experience the same.

In the future, Alison Gromme and I are going to guide a group up Mt. Shavano (near Salida). As personal trainers, we are encouraging people in a 6-week program that will build fitness and culminate with the climb. If you or someone you know are up for the challenge, comment below and I’ll tell you more!

In His Right Mind

March 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Marty Norman –

Storytelling is a gift. Some people have it and some don’t. I don’t, though I’ve wished for it since I was a child. I just never felt equipped.

That’s why, when invited to join a Bible Study on storytelling, my first reaction was a resounding, “Are you kidding?  Not me – it’s not my cup of tea.”

“Why? It’s right up your alley”, my friend argued, pressing her point again and again. Finally she wore me down. Relenting, I joined the group to please her. My plan: attend a couple of sessions then fade away.

Scripture tells us that we are to be hearers of the word:  “blessed are they who hear the word and obey”, Luke 11:28 NIV; and “faith comes from hearing the message.” Romans 10:17 NIV.  Storytelling is based on these scriptures. The purpose: learn the age-old tradition of storytelling practiced by the patriarchs and early civilizations from the American Indian to the Himalayan people groups. Based on biblical tradition, the good news of the gospel is told through oral tradition, different from our modern techniques of video, reading and visual aids.

Was I ever surprised?

The first class was titillating, exciting and challenging. Definitely my cup of tea.  I sat mesmerized as Sharon, the leader, told the story of Jesus and the demoniac. The story was more than familiar; I’d read it numerous times but hearing it told in this manner brought a whole new perspective.

I visualized the demoniac cutting himself with stones and throwing fits. I could see the 2000 pigs as they raced to the lake and drowned. I joined the herdsmen as they stood amazed at what they saw.

The turning point hit me hard. When the townspeople saw the demoniac “dressed and in his right mind, sitting at the feet of Jesus”, they became afraid. I understood the aversion of many to the truth of the gospel. When faced with the might and power of this man Jesus, people are afraid. They wonder what kind of man this is that heals a demoniac from evil spirits. They shy away from one who commands the wind and waves to cease. They see the demoniac’s transformation and understand that being in a right mind is all about being in a right relationship with God.

Somewhere deep inside, the question lurks for the hearer. If the demoniac changed, even though in a good way, I, too, might have to change. And I don’t want to. No one does. We all like our habits, even if they are harmful to us or to others. We are comfortable in our ways, only willing to change when we are desperate. The demoniac was desperate. He was not only open but willing.

In the mystery that is God, the story of the demoniac, when told without visual aid, reached deep into the hearts of the hearers in a profound way. Perhaps that’s why Jesus told so many stories and parables because when digested, they speak to the heart of the hearer and bring about changed lives.

This is such a story. The demoniac experienced the healing, power, love and mercy of a mighty God. As a result, he ended up in his right mind in a right relationship with the Father, through the power of Jesus Christ. In the end, isn’t that what we all really want.

If that’s not a perfect cup of tea – I don’t know what is.

Is Overeating Harming You Emotionally?

March 3, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Julie Morris – 

Everybody knows that overeating harms us physically, but it harms us emotionally as well. Look at this list to see emotional harm that overeating often does. Check any items that pertain to you.

  1. Overeating encourages procrastination. We turn to food instead of facing unwanted tasks.
  2. We eat to numb our stress. This keeps our problems from getting solved and adds additional ones.
  3. Being overweight makes us feel self-conscious and insecure. Often we overeat in order to feel better and vicious cycles take over.
  4. We often have unrealistic, happily-ever-after thoughts about dieting. This type of magical thinking will keep us on the diet merry-go-round permanently.
  5. Overeating causes irritability. Some of us get irritable when we eat a lot of sugar while others find that they are more irritable when dieting because they miss their “best friend,” food.
  6. Many of us are jealous of those who don’t have a problem with their weight. Jealousy leads to harmed relationships, self-pity and a lifetime of misery.
  7. When we fall off our diet, we fall into shame. Shame causes us to feel worthless. It encourages us to treat ourselves badly and do destructive things to our bodies, such as eating in an unhealthy way and not exercising.
  8. We miss out on many of the joys in life. We may be too busy focusing on eating or worrying about how much we weigh to enjoy the blessings we have.
  9. We get into the habit of making excuses. This leads to a very unproductive lifestyle because we stay stuck in the same destructive patterns.
  10. Some of us give up on ourselves. We quit trying to grow or change because we believe the lie that we are hopeless.

Don’t get depressed if you have a lot of checks! Instead look at these encouraging words from the Bible to remind yourself of the hope you have in Christ.

 “You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed” (Joel 2:26 NIV). God probably didn’t have weight-loss in mind when he wrote this, but it is very applicable. When we draw closer to God and begin to cooperate with Him in our eating and other areas, the promises in Joel 2:26 are ours. We don’t have to be at goal weight or eat perfectly to receive them; we just need to be headed in the right direction to experience these awesome promises:

  • We will have plenty to eat until we are full! (We will be satisfied when we eat the amount of food that our bodies need.)
  • We will praise the name of the Lord who has worked wonders for us! (We’ll know God has done a wonderful thing in us by helping us to lose weight and keep it off.)
  • Never again will we be shamed! (We won’t be ashamed because we will be making progress toward becoming the people we want to be.) 

Please leave a comment below and let us know about the emotional harm that overeating is causing in your life. If you can think of other things that aren’t on the list, tell us about them too!

Present Your Body to God

February 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Laurette Willis –

“I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1, NKJV).

Paul instructs us to present our bodies a living sacrifice.  Each of us is advised to take care of our body since it is the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19, NKJV).

Here’s a sobering question: Do you think you will be required to answer to the Lord for how well you have cared for your body?

That’s a frightening thought for most of us! “You are not your own,” Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:20 NKJV. “For you were bought at a price” (the shed blood of Jesus Christ). Could this mean your body is not yours, but the Lord’s? How well are you caring for the Lord’s property?

The good news is that since your body belongs to the Lord, He has a vested interest in helping you care for it. Your body is not only the temple of His Holy Spirit, it’s what you need to be able to walk around on this earth and spread the good news about Jesus Christ.

The more fit and healthy you are, the greater the likelihood that you will be around longer to carry out His will for your life. The enemy wants you to fail miserably and go to heaven before your time. He doesn’t really care that you’re going to heaven–he just doesn’t want you to take anyone else with you!

If your body is out of shape and lacking energy, it’s difficult to do all the Lord is calling you to do. But you and the Lord working together can change that!

“What?!” you ask. “The Lord needs MY help? But He’s omnipotent–all-powerful and in control!” Well, yes–and no. He is all-powerful, but He will not wrestle the cake fork out of your hand or pick up the strings like a grand marionette master and animate your body to take a brisk walk. We are the ones who have to exercise our will to exercise our body and “choose life.”

Presentation Prayer to God — it works!

Take a small, but powerful step today–right now. Present your body to God. You can pray this with me:

“Heavenly Father, I present my body to You. This body is the ‘temple of the Holy Spirit,’ so it is Your property, not mine. I am the steward and caretaker of it. I present all that I am and all that I have to You, Lord. I trust You to lead and guide me into all truth and good in my life.

“I am Your sheep, so I hear and follow Your voice. Thank You for helping me care for this amazing body You have given me. I choose life in my habits, and love in my attitude and relationships. I will not allow myself to be conformed to this world’s way of thinking, but I am being transformed by renewing my mind on Your Word–the Bible. I choose to think in line with Your thoughts! Thank You, Lord for leading and guiding me into all truth. I now receive from You everything I need to be the best I can be today, for Your glory–in Jesus’ name. Amen!”

Now receive from the Lord everything you need by faith–the most powerful force in the entire universe. Receive by faith into your spirit and start thanking the Lord (no matter how you feel!). Do this every day and make a “present” of yourself to God. If you’ve done this, please comment below and let us know about your results.

The Ministry of the Midwife

February 14, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Nina Medrano – 

Exodus 1:15-21 (NIV)
The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.  Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”   The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”   So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

Chances are, if you are a faithful member of a church you have been a midwife in a ministry.

Whether you serve in the nursery, or on a worship team, or pastor the sheep– you assist in birthing God’s plan and purpose for His Bride.

The ministry of the midwife is a position that gets to observe some of the most hidden, private, intimate parts of human nature.  It’s a position that often rewards and encourages.  And, at other times, will raise the question of whether to remain or get out!  Because of the sensitive role of the midwife, Satan and his demons, will try to entrap and threaten the midwife into aborting the purpose and plan of God.

What is the enemy’s greatest scheme?   It is offenses.

If he can get us to be offended at the one giving birth then we have given him power to stop God’s plan for the Church as well as for our lives.

What is our greatest protection?  The fear of the Lord.

Psalm 34:7 (NLT) reads, “For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.”

Psalm 61:5 (NLT) reads, “…You have given me an inheritance reserved for those who fear your name.”

The Hebrew midwives feared God more than the King and they did not succumb to the king’s threat.  God saw this and rewarded the midwives by giving them families of their own.

When we choose to stay in the fear of the Lord, God will defend us and will reward us with His intended purpose and ministry of our own.

The Apostle Paul exhorts us in his writings to the Galatian Church: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”  (Galatians 6:9).

Lord, protect me against the voices of offense that surround me and frequently point out the shortcomings of those in ministry.  Help me to stay in the presence of the fear of the Lord.  Season my heart with much grace and mercy towards myself and with others—as we continue to be transformed into the image of Christ.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

« Previous PageNext Page »