Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Final Debrief: Reflection, Encouragement, and Prayer

“Actions are mere convulsions until they become informed by thought and intent. Then they not only touch the world, but also gently caress it (Losey).” -Bear

“We had the experience but missed the meaning (Losey).” -T.S. Eliot

“Of what avail is an open eye, if the heart is blind (Gookin)?”
-Solomon Ibn-Gabirol

How are we doing? Have you ever had someone ask you this question? It is almost as potent as a cup of coffee in the morning. It wakes you up and causes you to think and process life and what you are working towards. This reflection is something that many of us fail to do naturally. When we do slow down long enough to ask this question, and wait for an answer, from ourselves or others, we are surprised by what we discover. Nothing is more satisfying and helpful in this situation than to have someone support and encourage you in your answer to, “How are we doing?” Prayer and encouragement go a long way in our reflection as we think to the future and as we move forward in our lives and goals in this wilderness expedition of life.

In executing an expedition in the wilderness, there are regular debriefs to keep one another informed and to take the “temperature” of a group to see how everyone is doing physically and emotionally. These debriefs are an important check up for us so that we can serve one another and accomplish group goals. In the National Outdoor Leadership Notebook, judgment and decision making are important and rely on the concept of reflection and debriefs. We learn good judgment through our experience by reflecting and making informed predictions about outcomes. The cycle looks like this: “experience, reflect on recent experience and look for lessons learned (debrief), and predict how to improve the next experience,” then repeat the cycle (Leach).

It is important in the expedition of the Christian life as well to encourage one another, pray for one another, and to keep one another informed of how we are doing and where we are headed. Paul speaks about encouragement and prayer support in his final salutations to the church of the Colossians. In Colossians 4: 7-18, Paul tells the Colossian church of his good friends that he is sending to them to inform them of what is going on and so they can be encouraged and served in their faith and prayed for. Paul also sends words of encouragement and support from others who are serving God and His church and Paul gives the Colossians his final instructions. Here is how Paul ends his letter to the Colossians:

“My good friend Tychicus will tell you all about me. He’s a trusted minister and companion in the service of the Master. I’ve sent him to you so that you would know how things are with us, and so he could encourage you in your faith. And I’ve sent Onesimus with him. Onesimus is one of you, and has become such a trusted and dear brother! Together they’ll bring you up-to-date on everything that has been going on here.

Aristarchus, who is in jail here with me, sends greetings; also Mark, cousin of Barnabas (you received a letter regarding him; if he shows up, welcome him); and also Jesus, the one they call Justus. These are the only ones left from the old crowd who have stuck with me in working for God’s kingdom. Don’t think they haven’t been a big help!

Epaphras, who is one of you, says hello. What a trooper he has been! He’s been tireless in his prayers for you, praying that you’ll stand firm, mature and confident in everything God wants you to do. I’ve watched him closely, and can report on how hard he has worked for you and for those in Laodicea and Hierapolis.

Luke, good friend and physician, and Demas both send greetings.

Say hello to our friends in Laodicea; also to Nympha and the church that meets in her house.

After this letter has been read to you, make sure it gets read also in Laodicea. And get the letter that went to Laodicea and have it read to you.
And, oh, yes, tell Archippus, “Do your best in the job you received from the Master. Do your very best.”

I’m signing off in my own handwriting—Paul. Remember to pray for me in this jail. Grace be with you (Peterson).”

It is clear that Paul has reflected on his experience of sharing the gospel, of being in the ministry along side of others, and of being in jail. Paul is also spurring the Colossian church on to reflection and consideration of where they are and where they are headed. Paul recognizes that reflection, encouragement, and prayer are essential for the success of the Colossian church and the church as a whole. Paul essentially asks and answers the question, “How are we doing?” for the Colossian church and himself. Paul invites them into this debrief to reflect, learn, and propel himself and the church forward into its mission.

Just as we are to debrief and reflect to have good judgment and decision making skills in wilderness expeditions, this is also our call as Christians traveling this expedition of the Christian life. We are to reflect, encourage, pray, learn, grow, and build on each other’s experiences to propel us forward to Jesus’ high calling for His church and our lives. We should always seek the answer to “How are we doing?” Like the poet Carl Sandburg said, “every now and then, a person should go off by himself and reflect, asking, ‘who am I, where am I going, and where have I been (Service).’” We are to reflect. We are to encourage, support, and pray for one another as we look forward to His glorious expedition, life in and through Jesus.

Becoming a reflection of Jesus, through reflection on Him,


Gookin, John. Wilderness Wisdom. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003.

Leach, John Gookin and Shari. The Nols Leadership Educator Notebook: A Toolbox for Leadership Educators. Lander, WY: The National Outdoor Leadership School, 2004.

Losey, John. Experiential Youth Ministry Handbook: How Intentional Activity Can Make the Spiritual Stuff Stick. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo: NavPress, 2002.

Service, The National Park. "Carl Sandburg Home." 2008.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Ingredients of Excellence

According to The Encarta Dictionary: English (North America), to be excellent is to be “extremely good, or of a very high quality or standard” (Encarta Dictionary: English, North American). Someone who is excellent in what they do is not only competent, but they are extremely gifted and good at what they do. Someone of excellence raises the bar and demands a higher quality and standard in their area of competence, interest or expertise. We should strive to be excellent in whatever we do and in every area of our lives and work.

Competence is one of the seven leadership skills taught and practiced by the National Outdoor Leadership School. According to the NOLS Leadership Educator Notebook, Competence involves displaying the ability to competently and actively improving ones knowledge, organization and management skills, and technical skills. Competent people set goals, make action plans, and follow through with the action plans that they set. Competent people take care of their personal maintenance needs to remain a highly functioning team member (Leach). Competence as a skill is defined in the NOLS Leadership Educator Notebook as “the ability to perform in a way that produces desired results (Leach).” Competence is essential in navigating expeditions in the wilderness. Without competence, we run the risk of failing at our expedition, injury, or even death.

Just as competence is important in an expedition, competence and excellence in our lives and walks with Christ is important to navigating the wilderness expedition of the Christian life. Excellence in our relationship with God and others is essential. A person of excellence, according to Paul in Colossians 3:12-17, has these attributes, elements, or ingredients: they are chosen by God, have a love of God, they love others, are compassionate, kind, humble, have a quiet strength, are disciplined, even tempered, content with where they are, they are forgiving, peaceful, in tune with their surroundings and with others, they are in step with what is going on, and with what is going on with others, they are not loners, are thankful, loving, obedient to the word of God, helpful in directing and instructing, and they use common sense, and rejoice with God and others.

Paul says it this way in Colossians 3:12-17:

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way (Peterson).”

There are countless other scriptures that give us more ingredients for excellence, here are a few more from the Old and New Testaments:

Psalms 55:17 says, “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice. The ingredients for excellence that the Psalmist points out here are: a deep intimacy with God, regular prayer, honesty with God, and honesty with self ("The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version").

In Proverbs 31:10-31, we see a picture of the virtuous wife who exhibits excellence in the following ingredients: a person of excellence has generosity, has value beyond materialism, does good, is diligent, is hard working, is a provider, a cultivator, a strong person, a giving person, a fearless person, is innovative, and of good reputation, being a person who adds value to others, is entrepreneurial in spirit, has dignity, is joyful, hopeful, and wise, is a teacher, is someone who speaks kindness, is devoted, is blessed, and blesses others, and has the fear of the Lord ("The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version").

According to Luke, in Luke 11:2-4, the ingredient of prayer is mentioned again in a person of excellence along with recognizing God and being dependant on God, trusting God for provisions, seeking God’s will, and asking for forgiveness from God and others ("The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version").

Ingredients of excellence in Luke 18:1-8, according to Luke again, also includes prayer as well as persistence in seeking God out, and faithful persistence in our relationship with God through prayer ("The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version").

In Romans 2:18, Paul states the ingredients of excellence that include: seeking out God’s will and obedience to God’s law and perfect will ("The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version").

In James 1:5, James emphasizes the very important ingredient of excellence, that the Proverbs 31 wife also exhibits, which is wisdom. He also stresses that we get wisdom through another ingredient of excellence, prayer ("The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version"). This wisdom comes from God.

As we can see excellence is challenging as we venture on in this journey of the Christian life and it seems from these scriptures that excellence has less to do with us, and has more to do with our relationship with God and the gifts and strengths that He gives us through the power of His Spirit. We don’t have what it takes on our own to be competent or excellent without God. We cannot be excellent on our own. If we want to succeed in this wilderness expedition of the Christian life with competence and excellence, we must go to the source, who is none other than God. It is Jesus Christ who embodies and models excellence in all that He is, and because God is excellent, we too will be excellent as we follow Him, learn from Him and His word, and are empowered by Him.

May we mirror The Excellent, with excellence,


Encarta Dictionary: English, North American. 2008.

Leach, John Gookin and Shari. The Nols Leadership Educator Notebook: A Toolbox for Leadership Educators. Lander, WY: The National Outdoor Leadership School, 2004.

"The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version." Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997.

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo: NavPress, 2002.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tolerance for Adversity and Uncertainty

“I’ve never been one who thought the Good Lord should make life easy; I’ve just asked him to make me strong (Gookin).” -Eva Bowring

“As a cure for worrying, work is far better than whiskey (Gookin).” -Thomas Edison

“Your disability is your opportunity (Gookin).”
-Kurt Hahn

“Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy (Gookin).”
-Robert Heinlein

Tolerance for Adversity and Uncertainty is one of the seven leadership skills that the National Outdoor Leadership School teaches. This skill includes the following:

• Turn challenging situations into opportunities.
• See choices as many workable options and combinations, not either/or.
• Learn to endure, even enjoy, hard work and challenge.
• Live in rhythm with what you cannot control; control what you can.
• Use humor. Keep things in perspective.
• Under stress, work to make focused decisions and stay connected with others (Leach).

Tolerance for adversity and uncertainty is a leadership virtue and a learned skill. In traveling this wilderness life, we must be strong and stay on course. Discipleship demands tolerance for adversity and uncertainty as well. As followers of Christ, we are always challenged by our awareness that all is not as it should be and all is not what it will be. The world that we live in is a fallen world and the challenges, temptations, and adversities are endless, they are guaranteed. Consider the following verses from Jesus and the James:

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world ("The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version") (John 16:33).”

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him ("The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version") (James 1:2-5).”

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you ("The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version") (Mt 5:10-12) .”

We were not meant for this world, at least not this world as we know it. The imperfections of this fallen world, and the repercussions of the sin, and the death that it brings, has distorted the good that was intended by God in this beautiful creation of His. There are dangers and obscurities lurking around every corner. Life seems to be difficult, uncertain, and trying. The bad times can seemingly outweigh the good ones and we can find ourselves living from one “acceptable” situation to the next, sometimes rejoicing in the mediocre, because “it could always be worse.” Life is tough and can be brutal in the hands that it deals. It is not intended to be this way. The one who can endure and persevere through this by the grace and power of God is blessed and looks to the different reality of the life of Christ.

Paul talks about being content with our lives in Colossians 3:3-4. He tells us that we are dead to our old lives and have become alive as believers into the life that was intended for us, the new life. Paul tells us that we have a taste of this life now, but there is more to come and we can look forward to a new creation and we can look past this present fallen world and its present obscurities, he says it this way:

“Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ (Peterson).”

Indeed we live in obscurity, especially in this fast paced worldly environment where image and status can be everything, and stock is placed in the temporal. However, we must remember, as Paul suggests, that our real life is hidden in Jesus and that our old sinful lives are dead. One day we will see Jesus as He is and will see ourselves as we should be in light of, and because of, who Christ is. Paul is making the point that we are to suffer like Christ. We are to endure hardship and have tolerance for adversity and uncertainty like Jesus. We are to be patient and wait. He says we are to be content with obscurity, like our Lord.

There will be a time when all is as it should be. Until then, may we have tolerance for adversity and uncertainty, may we have faith and trust in Jesus and rely on His strength, wisdom, and victory over obscurity.

May we have a blessed obscurity because of our clarity in Jesus,


Gookin, John. Wilderness Wisdom. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003.

Leach, John Gookin and Shari. The Nols Leadership Educator Notebook: A Toolbox for Leadership Educators. Lander, WY: The National Outdoor Leadership School, 2004.

"The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version." Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997.

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo: NavPress, 2002.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


“You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips (Gookin).” -Oliver Goldsmith

“Communication breakdown, It’s always the same, I’m having a nervous breakdown, Drive me insane!”

-Led Zeppelin, Communication Breakdown

“The best leaders, almost without exception and at every level, are master users of stories and symbols [they are masters of communication] (Gookin).” -Tom Peters

One of the seven core leadership skills of the National Outdoor Leadership School is communication skills. Communication skills emphasize the appropriate times to communicate, when to speak up and when to remain silent. Communication skills also create an open atmosphere and enable a group or team to know what is expected of them and what they can expect from you. Communication keeps people informed of changes in situations and requires active listening and clarification from both the communicator and those who are being communicated to (Leach). Communication provides much needed clarification, avoids mistakes, risks, and dangers, and teaches valuable information that fosters growth and maturity.

In traveling the wilderness of the Christian life, it is essential that we communicate effectively the gospel and teachings of Jesus, not only with our words, but with our lives and our actions. Our lives tell a story and teach a lesson. We are all called to teach and communicate the gospel and teachings of Christ. We communicate these important teachings more by what we do than what we say. According to Wikipedia, “There are 3 major parts in any communication which are body language, voice, tonality and words. According to the research (Mehrabian and Ferris,'Inference of Attitude from Nonverbal Communication in Two Channels' in The Journal of Counselling Psychology Vol.31, 1967,pp.248-52), 55% of impact is determined by body language--postures, gestures, and eye contact, 38% by the tone of voice, and 7% by the content or the words used in the communication process. Although the exact percentage of influence may differ from variables such as the listener and the speaker, communication as a whole strives for the same goal and thus, in some cases, can be universal.”

Paul says this about the Christian communicating with those who are on the outside of the church, and outside of faith in Jesus in Colossians 4:5-6:

“Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out (Peterson).”

Just as we should work together and communicate well to navigate this wilderness life, we should also communicate with others in a way that brings them closer to God, in a way that honors God, and respects the people who we are talking with. Paul tells us that we are to bring the best out of others, and not put them down, or cut them out. This is true in any communication, with anyone, and under any circumstance. How much more should we bring out the best in someone and be gracious to them if they are in need of something that we have?

In this case, as it pertains to following Jesus and making Him known, we are to communicate the good news of who Jesus is. Because all of us need to know Him more, it is important that we draw closer to Jesus and make the most out of every opportunity to know Jesus more and to make Jesus known to others who we live and work with, in a gracious manner. It is also important to understand that this communication occurs just as much in what we don’t say, and how we say it, as it does in the words that we using.

See what I am saying; hear what I am saying,


Gookin, John. Wilderness Wisdom. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003.

Leach, John Gookin and Shari. The Nols Leadership Educator Notebook: A Toolbox for Leadership Educators. Lander, WY: The National Outdoor Leadership School, 2004.

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo: NavPress, 2002.

Wikipedia, Communication. 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Discipline: Leading Without Instructors

Leading in the wilderness without instructors requires discipline and skill. Following Jesus in this wilderness life also requires discipline and skill. It requires being a disciple, a learner. One of the goals of the National Outdoor Leadership School is “To develop students as leaders who make decisions to lead without the direct guidance of their instructors. The curriculum themes of wilderness skills, expedition behavior, leadership, leave no trace, and risk management all follow toward this goal” (Gookin). Just as this is one of NOLS’s goals, to develop leaders who can lead, this is also the main goal of the church to make disciples; the church is to make disciples who make other disciples.

Discipline is the root of the word disciple, which means learner. A disciple, or learner, has exercised the discipline needed to gain the knowledge, skill and judgment needed to make disciplined and informed decisions on the wilderness expedition, or the adventure, of the Christian life on his or her own, by the power and grace of God. We need discipline in the wilderness expedition of the Christian life. There will come a time when each of us has to take ownership of our faith and become true disciples who go and make other disciples. We cannot always live vicariously through someone else’s faith. We have to make the journey on our own at some point in our expedition to follow Christ personally and to live our lives for Him.

In speaking about the self disciplined following and learning from Christ, or discipleship, in Colossians 2:5, Paul gives this instruction to his readers that captures the essence of leading on our own in the expedition of the Christian life:

“I’m a long way off, true, and you may never lay eyes on me, but believe me, I’m on your side, right beside you. I am delighted to hear of the careful and orderly ways you conduct your affairs, and impressed with the solid substance of your faith in Christ (Peterson).”

Paul wants his readers, the Colossian church, who he has never formally met, to be able to navigate following Jesus and living for Him on their own in his absence from them. This is the same picture of what it is like to lead in a NOLS course without instructors.

When I was on a NOLS course the summer of 2008, I had the opportunity to lead without instructors. It was toward the end of our two week expedition in the Bridger Teton National Forest, and three of my teammates and me had been working overtime with our instructors to learn trip planning, extra first aid skills, and other needed skills to be equipped on our own in the wilderness. We were to leave before the rest of the group and find the last camp site of our expedition. The rest of the group would follow later. Could we do what our instructors had been doing and lead? Did we have what it took to go at it alone? The answer is, “Yes.” We led, with a few minor detours and complications, a successful instructor-less expedition and we learned from it and in turn will teach others how to lead.

This is such a perfect picture of becoming Disciples of Christ and making Disciples of Christ. As the church, Disciples of Christ, we are to teach people the gospel and teach them what it means to follow Jesus. We are to do this in such a way that they will be able to follow Him on their own in our absence. This is what Paul was doing from prison with the Christians of the Colossian church. He wanted them to follow Christ on their own. He wanted them to be disciples who make other disciples without further instructions from him, or his presence.

Like my instructors on my NOLS course, Paul tells the Colossians that he is not far off from them. He tells them that he is with them and that he is aware of their ability, training, and accomplishments. He knows their credentials. In our case, as Christians, our credentials are that we have the power of Christ and His leadership training, and we have the fellowship and teachings of the church and its help and support on our way. Because of this, we can be confident to follow Christ on our own, knowing that we are not truly on our own. Like Isaac Newton said, “If we have seen further [or in this case, if we have followed Christ on our own] it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” This is also similar to an old Chinese Proverb that says: “If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime.” We are to teach. We are to make learners of Jesus. We are to make and be Disciples of Christ.

Following Christ, with discipline, without instructors,


Gookin, John. Wilderness Educator Notebook. Ed. John Gookin. Lander, WY: National Outdoor Leadership School, 2006.

Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Col 2:5

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Cool Hand Jesus

“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. . . Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. ”” (John 8:31, 32, and 36)

Communication is essential in life and in relationships. The cause of conflict and misunderstandings is failure to communicate and relationships usually thrive where there is excellent communication. When traveling the expedition of this wilderness life, there must be excellent communication.

Cool Hand Luke, an all time classic movie from 1967, has one of the greatest lines ever about communication. Paul Newman, who passed away September 28th 2008, did a fantastic job with the cool character Luke who struggled to conform to the prison camp's norms. Luke found himself in all kinds of trouble. In front of the warden of the prison camp, that Luke called home, Luke was reprimanded for his non-conformity with a quote that has gone down in movie history: “What we have here is failure to communicate.” This line is often quoted and shows up in pop culture, it was even used by the 1990s hard rock band Guns and Roses in their song Civil War.

The implication of this quote from the movie and the song is that a failure to communicate causes discord and puts people out of harmony with one another. In the movie, Luke, who struggled with conformity, finds some kind of freedom and redemption after a prison escape that ends in a church, but he is caught there in the end. The little church is surrounded and Luke steps out and gives the warden’s words back to him, “What we have here is failure to communicate.” Luke is then shot and killed. The movie ends with a restored image of a free man, though “his freedom” was his ultimate death.

This failure to communicate had an enormous price tag that cost Luke life itself. The image of this rebel Luke is one of a redemptive character. He seems to give the whole prison their freedom, even at the end of the film as his “image” is restored by his fellow inmates. This restored image is that of a torn picture of Luke from an earlier escape that is put back together. The tear in the picture forms a cross when it is reassembled. We get the idea from this image that Luke’s sacrifice indeed is intended to be a picture of redemption, as Hollywood taps into the ultimate redemption story of the cross.

Mark Harvey in the NOLS Wilderness Guide says this about communicating and leadership: “Communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship. Good communication is also the sign of a good leader because 'good leaders are good communicators'" (Harvey 174). God, the ultimate communicator and leader, has clearly communicated His love and redemption for us through His perfect sacrifice for us. He has led us to freedom through the truth of His sacrifice. Unlike the cool hand Luke, Jesus lived a perfect life, deserving no wrong. Like Luke, however, Jesus died a rebel’s death. Jesus died our death to give us all, imprisoned by our sin, and deserving of death because of our rebellion, ultimate freedom.

Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, chapter 4:2-4, speaks about his own imprisonment for the sake of communicating the Gospel freedom. Paul was imprisoned, probably in Rome, around A.D. 50 or 60. Paul hopes, and asks for prayer from the Colossians to this end, that God will open doors for the telling of the liberation and redemption of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Paul hopes that even his imprisonment would communicate this good news of freedom in Jesus Christ, who suffered and died so that we would not. Paul says it this way:

“Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Don’t forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even while I’m locked up in this jail. Pray that every time I open my mouth I’ll be able to make Christ plain as day to them.”

Jesus was intentional about freeing us from our prison of sin. Jesus Himself has communicated this redemption from the cross and from His raising from the grave, defeating our sin and dieing the death we deserve. This truth, Jesus Himself, The Truth, liberates us. May we hear this communication, and may our lives, like Paul’s, communicate this truth clearly, as we follow, worship, and fall into the arms of the Cool Hand Savior.

Resting in Cool Hands,


Harvey, Mark. Wilderness Guide, The National Outdoor Leadership School, Lander, WY. 1999

Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Col 4:2-4

The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Jn 8:31, 32, and 36

Friday, October 3, 2008

Held Together

I was out backpacking with my wife for our four year wedding anniversary this past summer. It was her idea, I know what you were thinking, “what a jerk! You take your wife backpacking for your anniversary?” No, it was her idea. This is one of the many reasons I love this woman, she absolutely loves the outdoors and backpacking.

We backpacked for four days and three nights and covered almost 30 miles with 40 pound packs, it was very intense and challenging to keep it together and to accomplish the long hikes and to find the right camp sites at night. It was also very beautiful and it got me thinking about how beautiful the last four years of our marriage have been. Just as the natural beauty of nature and the delicate ecosystems of the forest are held together mysteriously by its creator, our relationship has held together beautifully, and magnificently by our Lord Jesus.

In Colossians chapter one, verses fifteen through eighteen, Paul tells us that Jesus holds everything together and that in Him all things were made, are held together, and have their purpose.

“We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body. ”

Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Col 1:15-18

There are always the creation verses the big bang debates that go on out there in academia and the debates between evolution and intelligent design. Tough questions are asked like, “Where does life, and everything in life, come from?” and “How do we know what God looks like?” or “Is there a God?” or “What is our purpose in this life?” These are no small questions. The answers simply reside with Jesus and in Jesus. It is from Jesus that all things come from and in whom all things are held together and find their purpose and meaning and if we see Jesus, Jesus told us that we have seen the father. And if we can see His creation, we can see something of the God who created it.

As I reflect on this adventure of backpacking with my wife and the last four years of our marriage, I am in awe of God and His magnificence because of who God is, because of what he created, and because of what He holds together with His good and perfect will and purpose. I see something of God out in His creation, and I see something of God in the unity of marriage. I see how God lovingly holds all things together and I see His purpose for our lives.

Created, held together, and given a purpose through Him,