Adventures in Faith: HeliSkiing

adventures in faithThen Jesus said to His followers, “If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing even to give up their lives to follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

Ponder It.

Would you prefer to blaze your own trail or follow somebody who knows what they’re doing and where they’re going?

When have you discovered something new while exploring or learning?

When have you followed instructions and steps that you considered ignoring?

Receive It.

Imagine riding in a helicopter to the top of a mountaintop that can’t be reached any other way, at least, in winter weather. You strap on your skis, and the helicopter hovers just high enough and long enough for you to jump and immediately soar down the fresh, untouched snow. It’s as if you’re going where no one has gone before.

There’s something about exploring, inventing, and entrepreneurship. It all involves an exciting a-ha. Newness is admired. Finding uniqueness is…well, unique. One-of-a-kind stands out. It stands alone. We want to go above and beyond, farther, faster. The bigger, the better, whether it’s a product, process, or idea. Yet…All things continue the way they have been since the beginning. What has happened will happen again; there is nothing new here on earth (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Not only can we not do something that’s completely new but we shouldn’t try to blaze our own trail. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be as creative and explorative as we can be, because God is the Creator. He is creative, and we’re created in His image. He wants us to be inquisitive; it’s one of the qualities that drives us toward Him. We seek Him. But we don’t lead God. We don’t blaze a trail where He’s never gone.

Instead of focusing on going where no one has gone before, we need to focus on going where God is leading us. We need to seek the footprints of God and follow them. Our feet fit well on the path of purpose He’s prepared for us. We’d sometimes rather go our own way, but there is a cost. Of course, there is also a cost to following Him. Following assumes a responsibility. When we go where God is leading us, we’ll make the best discoveries we can make. We’ll get to know God better. We’ll know who He created us to be. And we’ll go where He wants us to go, when He wants us to go, discovering every step of the way. Going where no one has gone before doesn’t really apply when we consider and realize God’s sovereignty.

Live It.

Walk a well-established path today. Then step off the beaten path. As you do, realize and acknowledge that God knows just where you are. Better yet, He knows where you’re going. Trust Him each step of the way.

Adventures in Faith: Sandboarding

adventures in faithThe Lord has filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God and has given Him the skill, ability, and knowledge to do all kinds of work. He is able to design pieces to be made of gold, silver, and bronze, to cut stones and jewels and put them in metal, to carve wood, and to do all kinds of work. (Exodus 35:31-33)

Ponder It.

What was the most recent new thing you saw on an infomercial, in the store, or in real life?

When have you used your creativity?

What two sports or two items would you like to combine for usefulness of adventure? (You might just have the idea for the next great invention!)

Receive It.

Have you ever heard of sandboarding? It’s similar to snowboarding, using a board, but on sand dunes instead snow-covered mountains. It’s not in high profile competitions…yet…but it’s certainly adventurous! Just imagine the first time someone went sandboarding. Maybe He or she had a surfboard or a skateboard without wheels and decided to take the fast way down the dunes toward the water. Perhaps someone else watched the adventure unfold and realized the board choice wasn’t quite right, went home and created a board more suited for it, and…wa-la! Sandboarding was born. I really don’t know how it happened, but it makes me think of the many things that are created just by combining a couple sports or ideas or making slight adjustments.

We can often get stuck in ruts, thinking we have to do something the same way or the way it’s always been done. There’s certainly something to be said about tradition and learning from other people’s mistakes, but there are definitely plenty of mistakes for us to continue to make and learn from, and one of those mistakes might be failing to try something new. The more we can problem-solve and dream, the more we can live in and with God’s creativity and begin to imagine how big He truly is. He doesn’t confine us to the way things have always been. He invites us to know Him better, grow beyond what we’ve previously known and understood, and let Him reveal some fresh ideas. He wants us to explore and enjoy the world around us. I don’t know if He’s excited about sandboarding, but I’m pretty certain He’s glad people are using the creativity He has given them. Now, if we can just live our faith with creativity so that we enjoy the adventures and lead the way for others who are missing out on the adventurous life of faith. Faith really isn’t stale and boring, so don’t live as if it is.

Live It.

Use something in a creative way today. Create a new tool by adjusting one or more items. Or imagine what you would do to adjust if you didn’t have the specific utensil, tool, or equipment you usually use. How would you problem-solve? We get so used to being able to buy everything we need, but even if an item already exists, consider how you can adjust and make something similar out of what you already have. Celebrate the creativity God gave you.

Adventures in Faith: Against the Clock

adventures in faithThere is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Ponder It.

What always seems to take a long time for you—either to get something done or to wait for something?

When does time seem to fly by for you?

If you could change one thing about time, what would it be, and why?

Receive It.

Many games and sports are measured against the clock. Sometimes, we make up games on our own, challenging ourselves to get somewhere by a certain time, beat our “best” time getting ready, rushing through something to get it done with as little pain and inconvenience as possible, and so on. We frequently feel as if we’re running against the clock. Some things take a shorter time, and some take a longer time. And sometimes it’s just the perspective of time, when something we dread feels like it takes longer or something we enjoy feels like it takes shorter time. Perspective matters when time is involved.

God is beyond time. He always has been and always will be. He created us to live for a designated time on earth, confined by His time. Just because He knows the time we’ll live here on earth, we don’t. There’s a lot we don’t know about time. Yet we’re confined by it. And we often feel controlled by it—but we’re not. Time invites us to trust God. Time invites us to yield to God, to offer ourselves and every detail of our lives to Him. Time isn’t ours to control. It’s a gift to open, enjoy, and appreciate. Just as athletes don’t waste time as the clock is running, we can’t either. Our clocks are running. Every single second that goes by is one less moment we get to live on earth—one less opportunity we have to grow toward God, to honor Him with our lives. We can’t capture time, but we can certainly waste it. Or not.

Live It.

Set your watch or phone alarm to go off several times throughout the day. When the alarm sounds, take a moment and consider what you’re currently doing. Are you relying on God, trusting Him to guide every step you’re taking? Are you using the time He’s giving you well, or are you letting distractions cause you to lose time you can never get back? Commit to the giving God every second of every minute of every hour of every day.

Adventures in Faith: Ice-Climbing

adventures in faithThey teach wisdom and self-control; they will help you understand wise words. They will teach you how to be wise and self-controlled and will teach you to do what is honest and fair and right. They make the uneducated wise and give knowledge and sense to the young. Wise people can also listen and learn; even they can find good advice in these words. Then anyone can understand wise words and stories, the words of the wise and their riddles. Knowledge begins with respect for the Lord, but fools hate wisdom and discipline. (Proverbs 1:2-7)

Ponder It.

What is your experience with ice?

What topic would you like to know more about?

In what area of you grown in knowledge in the last year?

Receive It.

Did you know…

  • The ice that people climb is so strong that if the ice axe goes in just a centimeter, the ice is generally strong enough for the climber to pull up on.
  • For shorter, less-steep courses, climbers use the ice axe to move themselves up. For steeper, higher slopes, climbers also wear crampons, which are shoes with metal spikes.
  • Alpine ice starts as snow and over time consolidates into hard-packed ice, sometimes called blue ice. Water ice, which forms anywhere you find runoff or seepage, is more varied. It may melt and freeze, form over snow, create large bumps and ridges and turn into icicles.

It’s amazing how much we realize we don’t know when we start to learn about something. We might not have had any idea something even existed before, let alone had as many details and information involved. We learn the basics, then we find out more and more. The more we uncover, the more there is to uncover!

It’s like that with our faith journey. The more we learn, the more we have to learn, or so it seems. And then there is the unlearning we need to do, because we understood something based on the limited information we had or our limited ability to understand something at the time, then we grow up, access different sources, seek God’s truth firsthand, and change and grow. It’s important we seek the right kind of information and knowledge, that it is applied to doing God’s work, to knowing Him better. It’s really more about wisdom than knowledge. And we can’t get wisdom by accumulating degrees and information. We gain wisdom by yielding to God and however He reveals himself to us and changes us.

Live It.

Hold a piece of ice in your hand. Look at it closely for several minutes. Consider the details you notice because of your focus. Watch the slight changes it makes. Commit to focusing on God today and inviting Him to change you every step of the way.

Adventures in Faith: Free-Running

adventures in faithSurely you know. Surely you have heard. The Lord is the God who lives forever, who created all the world. He does not become tired or need to rest. No one can understand how great His wisdom is He gives strength to those who are tired and more power to those who are weak. Even children become tired and need to rest, and young people trip and fall. But the people who trust the Lord will become strong again. They will rise up as an eagle in the sky; they will run and not need rest; they will walk and not become tired. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Ponder It.

How flexible are you as your environment and situations change?

Is your approach more to “survive” through change or “thrive” through change?

In what situations are you most likely to combine artistic expression with athletic ability?

Receive It.

Free running is a non-structured running through the environment, using buildings or other structures as launching and landing pads, creatively moving in response to the environment. It’s an aerobic, creative movement. It’s responding to whatever is in the path. It’s a combination of flexibility and endurance. It’s artistic and athletic. When we combine our artistic and athletic abilities, we stretch ourselves and express ourselves more fully in God’s image. God exists in combinations of many qualities. God is both organized and creative (Genesis 1), which might seem to be in opposition or tension. But tension can be a springboard for momentum.

Free running requires endurance and agility. And it requires creative problem-solving. You often don’t know what options you’ll have as you jump off a ledge or flip onto a different level or structure. You might find a flat sidewalk or muddy earth. Each will require a different approach, and you can be creative with each. Right and wrong doesn’t seem to be as essential as what is the best choice in the next situation. Don’t get me wrong: there are absolutes. There is always a right and wrong option to what we’re facing, but sometimes the wrong option has been taken away and replaced with two good options that seem right. Both options could fit into God’s will, so we get paralyzed to choose. We often aren’t choosing between right and wrong but between good and best. And the best is always the one that will take us closer to God—not the one that seems easiest, most comfortable, or most logical, although sometimes that’s the case. Our faith journeys are really a lot like free running because we’re constantly faced with changes that give us opportunities to choose and reflect God’s will. Our paths won’t be trouble-free. But our paths will be adventurous.

Live It.

Challenge yourself to combine athleticism with artistic expression, such as riding a bike and singing or reading and taking notes through drawings or capturing photos while briskly walking. Look for freshness. Watch for the unexpected. Let God change your direction or plan, and trust Him to show you some things you might have otherwise missed.

Adventures in Faith: Weightlifting

adventures in faithIf you think you are strong, you should be careful not to fall. The only temptation that has come to you is that which everyone has. But you can trust God, who will not permit you to be tempted more than you can stand. But when you are tempted, He will also give you a way to escape so that you will be able to stand it. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)

Ponder It.

What are your experiences with weight-training?

What has been your belief about how God is involved with your burdens?

How do you know exactly what your limit of lifting or carrying burdens is?

Receive It.

When you begin weight training, you don’t begin with the heaviest weight you can lift. It’s more important to lift a weight you’re comfortable with, a weight you feel working your muscles as well as that you can lift repeatedly. Ten repetitions of a ten pound weight are better for your muscles than one lift of a 100-pound weight. Even Olympic weight lifters don’t train under their maximum weights. They train for their maximum weights. In order to get strong, you have to condition your muscles to gradually develop strength.

We assume the adage that God doesn’t give us more than we can bear, and we can become complacent and not train. After all, if God won’t give us more than we can bear, He knows whether or not we’ve been training and, therefore, what we can handle at any given time, so why should we push our limits? But God doesn’t give us the weight. The verse we often misquote about God not giving us more than we can bear, 1 Corinthians 10:13, refers to the tipping point of temptations. God doesn’t tempt us. And He knows what we can bear. But the reality is what He knows you can bear and how your spiritual muscles will respond to the weight He knows you can bear can be two very different limits if you’re not weight training. I might have the potential to lift 200 pounds, but if I’m not lifting smaller weights on a regular basis, 200 pounds is going to seem overwhelming to me very quickly. It might never be easy for me to bear the weight, but I can make it a little easier, or a little harder, by whether or not I regularly work out. What are you doing to prepare and train today?

Live It.

Pick up a couple cans of vegetables and do a little weight-training. Don’t overdo it, but make sure you complete several sets of repetitions. You’ll probably only be lifting one-pound weights, but one pound is better than no pounds. Yet fifteen pounds isn’t necessarily better than one pound. Weight training requires discipline and small steps in growth. Take your time. Actually, yield to God’s time.

Adventures in Faith: Securing Endorsements

adventures in faithThis is what I mean: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another says, “I follow Apollos”; another says, “I follow Peter”; and another says, “I follow Christ.” Christ has been divided up into different groups! Did Paul die on the cross for you? No! Were you baptized in the name of Paul? No! (1 Corinthians 1:12-13)

Ponder It.

If you could have one person endorse your life and ministry, who would it be, and why?

Who do you “follow”? Consider people in your everyday life as well as social media.

How well do you “wear” God’s name?

Receive It.

Athletes who achieve medals, records, and great statistics often gain endorsements. People and companies want to be associated with them, so their agents wheel and deal the best partnerships that seem beneficial to everyone involved. Sometimes it doesn’t require a superior achievement, or at least not only a superior achievement. A powerful or sentimental story helps. When someone can relate to the person’s story, she becomes more beneficial for endorsements. Think about it. What athletes are associated with different products, some that don’t have anything to do with their sport or athletic ability?

It’s not just athletes who associate themselves with others. We all do it to some degree. It’s just that most of us don’t get paid for it. There are other benefits—reputation, credibility, associations, financial support, and so on. But what about the association we have with God? When you consider your faith, why do you do what you do? Of course, it should be more about relationship than association, but is it, really, always? Do you claim to live by His name because you want to honor Him, or do you sometimes want Him to rubberstamp what you want to do? When have you done something that seemed like a good thing, something God would surely approve of, but that you didn’t check with God about first? You, like most of us, like to do some things on our own. We’re selfish. We’re human. We’re not going to completely get rid of that while on this earth, but if we’re following God, we at least need to have the respect that notices when we are doing something in full confidence of His will and provision and when we’re doing something because we prefer it. Every good thing is not a God thing. God things are only those things He specifically instructs us to do, not just the general guidelines He gives to everyone. He wants us to be in a relationship with Him, which requires trust on a moment by moment basis. Are you willing?

Live It.

Listen to the song “Hello, My Name Is” by Matthew West. Write “Hello, My name is…” on a piece of paper, then jot anything negative that comes to mind. When you’re done, cross each one out and write “Child of the one true King.” That is who you are. Claim your identity, then live out your name with honor.