Being in the great outdoors can bring healing on many different levels. It can bring mental healing, spiritual healing and even physical healing to some degrees. Whether it is sitting on the porch, going for a walk, a vigorous hike, multi day backpacking or ascending to a very high peak. All of these outdoor activities can bring a sense of healing to you.
However, there are many instances in which the outdoors can hinder or hurt you if you do not plan accordingly and prepare yourself for the elements of these wild places. Regardless of activity you should always plan ahead and prepare. Perhaps not as intensively for sitting on the porch but to think ahead creates less work and possible complications later. Whether it is on the trip or years down the road in life. Caring and planning for yourself, self care is one of the most important things you can possible do.
So what is it we are getting at? Protect yourself!
What’s Killing you?
Any season of the year can kill you in some way it’s just a matter of time and exposure. Too hot with not enough water, skin protection or food to sustain you as your body is in motion.
Sun, heat, Cold, snow, wind, lack of layers, lack of food, lack of water, lack of proper foot protection.
How can you best plan for your next outing?
Be sure to pack your 3 essentials: Water, Rain gear, Sunscreen
You will always need water, you will never be able to full predict the elements you will be entering into and the weather it may bring. When planning for a day or a 14 day journey you should always plan ahead and prepare. This is deemed principle number 1 in Leave No Trace. More importantly if you don’t plan ahead and prepare for what could or WILL happen, the intentionality of self care is neglected.
Many have stepped out into the sunshine after a long winter or time in doors. The sunshine feels so great! Getting that Vitamin D that your body has been craving like it’s your job! Maybe you fall asleep or you push yourself harder because you feel good. You return home or simply come back inside and you realize you have a headache, you feel weak or your skin hurts to the touch.
Dehydration and exposure can deplete your body over time. Especially if you are on a multi-day hike or camping. The over exposure that first day or first couple of days while your body is adapting to trail life can cause your body to work harder than it would need to if you put on sunscreen and kept a conscious eye on your fluid intake to be sure all that your sweating or exercising out, you are replacing at the same time.
Some common overlooks:
Re-applying sunscreen often
Changing out of your sweaty layer after a hard day on the trail
Preemptively putting on additional layers when temperature begins to drop.
Wearing TOO many layers while sleeping (this causes prevention of body heat warming your sleeping bag)
Intentionally drinking water while moving or during short breaks.
Tending to blisters (instead of grinding it out)
On many occasions in extreme hot environments, it is easy to forget self care in this way because you are concentrating on getting through the elevation gain, loss or simply working hard to get to your destination. The same goes for extreme cold conditions. If you aren’t being conscious and listening to what your body needs it can put you and possibly others on your team in danger of exposure or possibly falling behind on itinerary.
When you Plan ahead and take care of yourself, the overall experience and impact of the journey you’re on is all the more spiritually, mentally and even physically healing. Be kind to yourself.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4
It was another blue sky morning in Montana. The summer air was calm and cool. My back was warmed by the sun as I sat and gazed up at the mountain range before me. The distant peaks had demanded my attention ever since I arrived a few days prior. I appreciated the mountain; its sheer size and otherly beauty placed awe in my heart, the allure of adventure a summit attempt promised, the sense of accomplishment I presumably would feel standing at the top!
All these were placed before me, yet were just out of reach. My schedule did not include a summit bid that day or even during my whole visit. I desired, but could not obtain.
As my gaze drifted from the snowcapped peak, somewhat disappointed, a glistening water droplet caught my eye. Not more than two feet in front of me was a delicate yellow wildflower covered in little dew droplets acting as perfect reflectors for the morning sun. I paused. How had this beauty escaped my notice?
Then my eyes were opened to my surroundings! Each blade of grass surrounding me was glistening, every flower pedal glowed. I was sitting in a meadow of “diamonds”! Again I asked myself, “How did you miss this?!”
The answer…I had fixed my eyes on what was distant without even taking a moment to notice what was close. How frequently I do the same thing in life!
If I lock my attention and focus on future events or things that I don’t possess, throwing all my effort toward them, I end up blowing past the simple pleasures that lay right before me. I can lie to myself thinking, “‘If I could just have a good friend…’ or ‘When I’m married…’ or ‘Once I get that job…’ or ‘I’ll shake off all responsibility and just travel the world…’ then I’ll be happy, free, and satisfied.”
I have a fixation on obtaining satisfaction. Iwant what I want.
I desire, but cannot obtain. Why? Because I am looking in the wrong place. C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, observes, “Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise.”1While I’m preoccupied with gratifying my fleshly desires (friends, sports, chocolate, adventures, etc.) my Heavenly Father is holding out true freedom, grace, goodness, satisfaction, and love. Far too often I choose to go my way, sin, which leads to death, instead of the way of life.
What is right in front of me, with me? As a Christian it is Jesus! “Fear not, for I am with you”(Is.41:10) YES, Jesus is with me! “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20a) Jesus is in me! I need not look to any other, I need not long for anything greater.
My heart’sdesire will not be satisfied outside of Jesus. “For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.” (Ps. 107:9) “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’” (John 6:35)
Now, consider for a moment what Paul says in Colossians, “set your mind on things above, and not on earthly things.” (Col.3:2) Are we to simply long for heaven and wait until the day we arrive? You’ve heard the saying, “So heavenly minded that you’re of no earthly good.” Well, I’m confident that the truth of the matter is just the opposite! If I am living in light of Heaven the true needs of this present world will become all the more real to me because my desire will be to see those around me saved and to glorify God with my life. I could be so heavenly minded that I am of greatest earthly good! To quote Lewis again, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.”1 And truly what is best for this present world? To be free from slavery to sin and made spiritually alive in Christ!
So to turn my opening analogy in its head, by fixing my gaze on the future reality of heaven God reveals the true beauty that is right in front of me today. It is about focus rightly placed, a heart that is so in love with Jesus that it can’t help but overflow that love to others in deep sacrificial ways. Because that’s what Jesus did for me! “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20b) I have the greatest gift of Jesus and because of that I can recognize and appreciate all the good gifts my Heavenly Father gives me each and every day!
Oh Father, may I delight myself in You! Forgive me for the idols I have run to seeking satisfaction, I repent. Thank you for Your forgiveness, grace, and love. Thank you for the free salvation you have given me in Jesus Christ! Help me to gaze upon the beauty of Christ that I may serve you wholeheartedly in this life!
“You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
1 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, Harper edition, 2001), pp. 134-135.
Ok, so I’m going to be real here. I’m red-haired, freckled, and fair skinned. But I love being outside! And honestly when you are battling the sun above and snow underfoot, the task of not being fried like a chicken in Kentucky can be quite daunting. I mean, finding the perfect hat that covers all your bases in the wilderness can be tricky! But I have found a solution that not only works for me, but helps me uphold SROM’s treasured rule number 1: Look Good.
May I present…. The Fedora!
I know the fedora has been used by boaters and posers alike in the world at large. It is particularly used often in the European markets of fashion. But while I do enjoy a good fashion statement, let me here and now defend why the fedora makes the perfect adventure hat.
Protection from the Sun
The Fedora style hat is perfect for backpacking and protecting your face and head from long hours of UV rays. The brim goes all the way around and covers your ears. Baseball caps won’t protect your ears or provide as a comprehensive coverage to protect your nose and chin from the sun’s wrath.
Unlike most wide brimmed hats, the Fedora is flipped up in the back creating a comfortable hat wearing experience while wearing a multi day expedition size backpack. No more will you have to strain your neck forward or do this awkward neck move to adjust where the brim sits in relation to your backpack. And, you don’t have to look down all the time to create that room either. You can keep your head up, and hike along with confidence down the trail knowing your skin is protected and your hat will not create discomfort.
Fedoras will fit over many base layer hoods, but will also fit under many hoods of technical rain gear. This helps provide some stability to the hood, as well as breathing room around your neck so in a deluge, your hood doesn’t stick to the back of your neck.
There are many styles of Fedoras out there from felted wool to straw. Many are made with natural materials and they are lightweight. In an age when plastics are a major problem to our local and global ecosystems, having a product that is made with natural fibers and materials is a big deal!
You have to admit, 10 days into an adventure, you are looking a little rough around the edges. Even after sweating, freezing, and damp weather, you are still going to look like the “bees knees” in your fedora trucking along down the trail! I once had someone ask me how long I’d been out on the trail. And when I told them 14 days, they were astonished at how perfectly un-hobo like I looked. While I’ll grant you, I do laundry on the trail, but nothing can beat that dapper I-just-stepped-out-of-the-car look like a Fedora.
Where they are lacking….
Now I do admit, I’m biased when it comes to my Fedora. But there are some places where they are lacking.
They aren’t adjustable. Most fedoras are made either to size or a “one size fits most”. Which, if you have a larger head like mine, can be tricky to find one that works. I’d say spend the money, time, and the energy finding one that has multiple sizes and go from there.
Not Helmet Compatible
If you are looking for a hat to wear under a bike or climbing helmet, these won’t work. They work well being worn alone or under a jacket hood and that’s about it.
Back of Neck Exposed
While my fedora does an incredible job of protecting a lot of my skin, a lot of times the back of your neck is still exposed with most styles. Especially if you are just day hiking and not doing a full on multi day trip. You have to make special arrangements to either lather up the sunscreen or slip a bandanna under it to cover up. There are styles that flip down too that help, but your standard ones don’t always give that option. Only the more “high end” fedoras will.
All in all though, my fedora hasn’t led me wrong. I have worn it on kayak trips, hiking trips, and it has pulled through so many times in so many different environments that I just can’t go with another style to take with me on all my adventures! So whether your adventure hat is something else or a fedora, make it your own and be sure to get out make your own epic memories while wearing it!
Or if you’re thinking about finding a good fedora for your next adventure, here are a couple links of places that have some awesome ones. Happy adventuring and happy hat hunting!
Wylder Goods: Female focused outdoor goods page and sustainably sourced products and companies. Wool fedoras.
How do you enjoy the backcountry? Here are 3 tips to help you fully encompass all the wild around you.
Lots of people enjoy the backcountry in many different ways. Some may enjoy simply getting off the grid for a few days. Some head in with a mission of going fast and light. Others may take in 3 horses worth of gear. Whether you’re spending the night or staying for the long haul it is always wise to practice Leave No Trace Principles!
1 Plan ahead and prepare your journey ahead of time.
2 Travel and Camp on Durable surfaces. Just because it’s majestic doesn’t mean you should intrude on the majesticness of it.
3 Dispose of waste properly This is a big deal. DO NOT do the D.S.D. (Dreaded Surface Dump) There are many awesome and easy ways to dispose of your personal waste PROPERLY. Plus it’s biblical Deuteronomy 23:13
4 Leave what you find. Don’t be THAT person. Who hoards every walking stick and insists on collecting every pretty rock seen. Others want to see pretty rocks too!
5 Minimize campfire impacts Campfires are fun and set ambiance. Stars set a pretty awesome ambiance too! If you DO have a fire be sure it’s safe to do so. Please don’t make a new fire ring if one already exists.
6 Respect wildlife Plain and simple. DO NOT TOUCH. Don’t feed or heckle. Technically you’re guests in their home… Respect.
7 Be considerate of others. Remember to love those you come across. Clearly you have something in common if you’re in the backcountry and run into each other.
Have fun out there in a way that others will be able to enjoy after you have returned for years to come! Are you getting stoked on planning your next trek? Are you hungry?
2.Take time to plan out and prepare your food Rations
Many hold a passion and pallet for backcountry gourmet eating. None of this hot water in a bag of ingredients survival shenanigans! No, we’re talking about food that sustains the body and soul! Many especially love to camp and fish. It helps with pack weight and is a very relaxing pastime. Give it a try!
Whether it’s your first time in the backcountry or you are a seasoned veteran, remember why you came! Celebrate those you are with (if you’re with anyone) and take time to let the rejuvenation of these wild places restore your, perhaps, tired soul! Many Biblical figures spent time in creation and the wild places. In those places they were met by God! The wilderness is one of the most intimate places you can go to be with the Lord and allow him to do His work in you.
That by testing you may discern what is the will of God,
What is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Do you think being a follower of Christ is demanding? Do you find it difficult to know how to present yourself and what you believe to others? Do you even know what you believe? These are just a few of the various questions many of us struggle with in our day to day lives. Questions like these can make us feel isolated, even shunned, giving us feelings of shame, guilt and disappointment that we are just not enough. I have done all these things and I am guessing that most, if not all, of you have as well. However, there is good news. Yes! The Gospel! I have a few tips that I have found to be very straight forward, but have profoundly changed the way I see and perceive the people around me, because they change the way I see myself and my identity.
“I have been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,
Who loved me and gave himself for me.”
When God looks at us He sees one of two things. He sees His Son, Jesus, or He sees a lost child who has not found his family. We have a choice freely given to us by God. Will I make Christ King of my heart? Every human was, is, and will be, created in God’s image. He knits us together in our mother’s womb. Not only does He know every hair on our heads, but every physical thing about you and everyone who has lived and will live in the future. He knows our thoughts and motives. And even after all that, Jesus chooses us and gave His life for us!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has gone, the new has come.”
2 Cor. 5:17
How do you look at the people around you? How do you view yourself? Are you seeing the beloved, joint heir of Jesus? Because, if you have accepted Christ as your Savior, you are a new creation, you have been made new and now you are a “little Christ,” or Christian. If you are a “little Christ” you are also a “little king,” because Christ means king. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords, that means you are a “little king” and “little lord” right along with Jesus Christ. This has been accomplished through Him and this is your new identity!
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs- heirs of God
and co-heirs with Christ. If indeed we share in His sufferings
in order that we may also share with His glory.”
If you are to share in Christ glory, you only have to believe. You are worth it! You have value! If the worth of a thing is what someone is willing to pay for it, then you are equal in worth to Jesus! Do you understand that God the Father, the Creator of heaven and earth, sees Jesus in you? God the Father sees you as His Son, Jesus. Jesus lives in you and Jesus loves you and has paid for you. You need to understand that every time you see yourself as something less than Jesus, you are reducing the worth you have. You are stealing that which Jesus paid with His life… you! You are stealing yourself from Him. He alone had the ability, and therefore the right, to pay for your sins, and my sins, on the cross.
As we realize the depth of love Christ has for us, it will awaken our love for ourselves and live out of our identity as sons and daughters in the Kingdom. When we see how much He loves us we are then able to love others as He loves them. Then we no longer can treat ourselves, or others, negatively. He wants a relationship with us, but not at the cost of binding us to His will, but just as he freely gives us salvation we now have the chance to freely give Him our hearts and pursue a relationship. This is not a law we have to keep, but a passion we get to pursue!
If you want to learn more about how God see you, here are some short videos that are good resources by Graham Cooke:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. – Ephesians 2:8
The gospel of grace reveals to us the Father and gives us the power to live by faith. As it states in Romans: “This gospel unveils continual revelation of God’s righteousness…and it moves us from receiving life through faith, to the power of living by faith” Romans 1:17 (The Passion Translation)
Ephesians 2:8 states: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” As we have been on this journey of discovering the Father’s heart pertaining to radical grace, the Lord has been speaking to me regarding faith as the vehicle to access His grace. Allow me to share a story from my personal life as an illustration of this powerful reality.
My wife Amy was half way into her third pregnancy. We knew the Lord spoke to us to have a third child; yet we still had some low-grade anxiety about the pregnancy due to our experience with our second daughter Adalyn. Adalyn arrived two months early and spent her first month in a level 4 NICU in Denver. Even after her release, she was on oxygen at home for several months and for her first year required breathing treatments with a nebulizer 6 times a day for a half hour each time. As a result, with our third pregnancy doctors advised us to take expensive medications and have a C-Section to help reduce the chances of another preterm delivery.
Amy and I value the counsel of medical professionals, however, we didn’t feel a peace in our spirits so we sought the Lord for wisdom. While Visiting Bethel Church, we received a prophetic word stating: “this pregnancy will not be defined by previous pregnancies” and felt a peace knowing the Lord was in control. A few days after receiving this word, the Lord woke me up at 4:30 am and directed me to Psalm 91. Psalm 91:1 in the Passion Translation reads, “When you sit enthroned under the shadow of Shaddai, you are hidden in the strength of God Most High.” The word enthroned is the Hebrew word yashab, which is often associated with one seated as royalty.
Shaddai is taken from the Hebrew root word for God Almighty. Shaddai can mean “God of the Mountain, God the Destroyer of Enemies, God the Self-Sufficient One, God the Nurturer of Babies, God the Almighty.” Through this passage, the Father spoke to me that I am a “royal son,” I am literally seated with Jesus next to the Father in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Royal sons enthroned with Christ know God as Shaddai. As the Holy Spirit was speaking to me a feather literally fell in my lap. This was a confirmation that Shaddai was overshadowing me!
As I searched the scriptures for more references on experiencing Father as Shaddai, I noticed a trend—many times when the Father would bring His sons and daughters into new territory, He would reveal himself as Shaddai to equip and resource them for their journey. Why? Because the journey is full of mountains to overcome, enemies that are out to destroy, and obstacles that will prevent them from reaching their destination. The journey literally is impossible. This is why the Father gives you himself as Shaddai–the impossible now becomes possible and failure is not an option.
After Amy and I received this revelation of God as Shaddai, we had a weapon of faith to contend for the promise that “this pregnancy will not defined by previous pregnancies.” When I say we had to contend, I mean we really had to contend. Seeing the fruition of the word come to pass was a fight! Three different times we ended up in the emergency room with nurses and doctors trying to stop a preterm labor. There were moments of great fear and discouragement, thinking we were inevitably headed toward a premature birth again.
In these times, we would dig deep, rehearse God as “Our Shaddai” and declare, decree, and war against the preterm labor. Over and over we forcefully declared the truth of Shaddai’s nature and character over our situation. “You are Shaddai, the nurturer of babies and this baby will come full-term! You are Shaddai, the God of this mountain. You are Shaddai, the destroyer of enemies–you destroyed the enemy of sickness, disease and premature birth! We command premature birth to be halted in the mighty name of Jesus! You are Shaddai, the self-sufficient one–you meet all our needs and make a way where this is no way right now in this moment.” I am ecstatic to testify that we made it to full-term by one day! He really is Shaddai, our Almighty One!
I share this story as a picture of how faith acts as the vehicle that will drive you to grace. Like a vehicle that takes us from where we actually are to where we want to be, so faith takes us into God’s grace. It took many moments of exercising faith to see our pregnancy come full-term. There were moments during the pregnancy that shouted to us “a premature baby is inevitable.” Yet, we stood in faith by enforcing the two “faith vehicles” he gave us–the rhema word that “this pregnancy will not be defined by previous pregnancies” and the written word that He is our Shaddai, nurturer of babies. Many Christians give up on God’s best because they lack faith.
It is time to put Shaddai in the driver’s seat of your faith. Let His nature rise up faith in you to contend for God’s best! As it states in Romans: “This gospel unveils continual revelation of God’s righteousness…and it moves us from receiving life through faith, to the power of living by faith” 1:17 (The Passion). The Father is excited to give you faith so you can access His great grace! He is longing to reveal to you Himself as; all sons and daughters enthroned with Him are destined to know Him in this way.
Mountaineering is best learned under the guidance of a good mentor who can pass on their experience and knowledge. This guidance can greatly reduce the risks while learning essential skills but also help the novice acquire the correct equipment. Those lacking a mentor are often confused about which crampons they should purchase.
Crampons for general mountaineering have a few basic characteristics:
They are made of steel. Aluminum crampons will not long withstand the abuse of mountaineering and do not work well on ice.
They have two flat front points. The vertical front points used on some crampons are specialized for climbing ice and have compromised performance on snow. Flat front points are cut from the same piece of steel as the body of the crampon while vertical front points are sometimes replaceable. The width of flat from points gives them more surface area giving more security on snow. Mono points, crampons with a single front point, also have poor performance in snow and should be avoided for general mountaineering.
They have built in Anti-Bot plates. These make the crampons much less likely to hold snow underfoot, improving the safety and performance. When a crampon becomes packed with snow it is no longer able to grip properly and this can lead to falls and/or injury.
They must work with your boots. In a recent post [make this a link to the post] about boots we learned B1-B3 boots are suitable for mountaineering. Conveniently there is a similar nomenclature for crampons.
C1 crampons are compatible with all boots that are stiff enough for mountaineering, B1 and up. These are attached by a simple strap system and are suitable for most mountaineering.
C2 crampons are compatible with B2 & B3 boots only as they require a special heel crampon attachment. These crampons tend to be more aggressive and more capable as the terrain approaches vertical.
C3 crampons require a B3 boot and SROM generally does not recommend B3 boots for our courses. However, for ice and mixed climbing, or highly technical mountaineering routes, these will provide the best performance. Many people who own C3 crampons will also own a lighter pair for general mountaineering unless they are predominantly ice climbers, not mountaineers.
Following the guidelines above will lead you to a solid pair of mountaineering crampons. I personally prefer the Black Diamond Sabertooth. I have two pairs, one with B2 attachments for most of my mountaineering and another with a C3 attachment for ice climbing and more technical mountaineering. These are a little heavier than some other good crampons, and require a B2 boot, but the performance is great.
Thank you for reading. If you are new to mountaineering be sure to find a good mentor or consider taking classes or go on a SROM Course to gain proficiency. You will encounter many hazards in the mountains that must be properly managed to mitigate risk and an inexperienced mountaineer will be unable to assess many of these hazards. Stay safe and have fun out there.
The Rocky Mountain Outdoor Semester is SROM’s 96-day outdoor education and wilderness leadership course. This robust learning experience takes place in the context of God’s creation while you earn academic credit from accredited colleges, universities and seminaries.
Your “classroom” will include some of God’s most beautiful creation in Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona and Utah.
The course is designed to be a transformational college semester or Gap semester. It includes 5 programming sections that focus on integrating and developing the core course components of every SROM expedition:
The Rocky Mountain Outdoor Semester will focus on developing your heart, mind and body using the wilderness and wilderness programming. Activities like backpacking and rock climbing provide hands-on opportunities for development in discipleship, leadership and academics…and work towards your professional degree.
SROM has partnered with Family of Faith Christian University (FFCU) and All Nations College to create the new BA of Church Ministry program with a Wilderness Emphasis. You can earn 21 credit hours for the entire Rocky Mountain semester with SROM and FFCU.
Financial aid and scholarship opportunities are available through Family of Faith Christian University.
Contact email@example.com for more information about academic credit and financial assistance.
But don’t wait-Registration for the fall 2018 semester closes May 15!
What’s stopping you? From doing something you never thought you could? Perhaps something that you maybe think you can’t do? Perhaps comparing yourself to another and assuming, “I could never do that”.
Why?… What’s stopping you?
There is so much more potential oozing from you than you realize. There is possibility and excitement that Jesus has FOR YOU, the one that He seeks most… is simply a willing heart. It is not our own strength that brings the ability to accomplish things beyond our wildest dreams but it is HIS strengths within us that help break down those seeming barriers we sometimes build around ourselves. Mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.
It literally says “Do no fear” in the Bible 365 times. That’s a verse a day reminding us to not be afraid or be anxious about things! If we are honest with ourselves, we need each and every one of those verses as a reminder that God has it all under control. That we don’t need to put up these walls around ourselves to protect our hearts, our dreams, our desires, or our plans. Because not only do those wall block out the negative, but they also block out all the amazing things God has for us too.
Jesus wants to break down these walls and flood you with the unconditional love that is overwhelmingly redemptive and courageous. He desires to have a deeper relationship with you than you can imagine. Because you are precious and incredibly valuable to Him! And the way that God thinks about you is so special. He smiles when He sees you! He wants to break down the walls around your heart and give you the most incredible love and freedom that He went to the cross to give you.
Will you let Him? Will you step out in faith into a new life changing experience?
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you where ever you go.”- Joshua 1:9
Having courage isn’t doing something with out fear, but rather stepping out in faith and facing your fear and setting at the foot of the cross. So take heart and do not be afraid! Because God has you.
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays (although Easter competes). There is a deep innate craving within me that the peace, unity and reconciliation of the kingdom would be on earth. Thanksgiving can be a small picture of this as the whole family comes together to share a meal and give thanks. At least for the evening, people seem more likely to put aside differences and share a meal together. This bit of unity, joy, and peace has always brought me tremendous peace and joy.
Family and community are intrinsic to the kingdom of God. God exists as a three-part being in constant communion: a Father, a Son and the Holy Spirit. We are born into natural families, and then are called to live in spiritual family. Family was meant to be a place of love, acceptance and growth, but many of our students (and many of our staff) didn’t experience this type of family.
Broadly speaking, within family it is painfully obvious that the kingdom is not here “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10). In America divorce has become pretty normal as we have lost the meaning of true covenant. In traditional thought in Zimbabwe, children are often seen as disposable and are last in the family to receive food or care, leading to malnourishment, disease and/or starvation. All over the world, this reality of family is not a place of warmth, belonging, love, or nurturing.
In John 17 Jesus incredibly says, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me (22-23).”
The Bible also reveals God’s desires for unity and peace in eternity: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” Isaiah 2:4). This unity extends beyond natural family, local church family, and into an international body of Christ.
The idea that the entire planet could be in harmony is unimaginable in our world today and seems absurd. Nonetheless, I have to admit that deep down I desire this unity for those around me, and for the world. Even though I have been injured by people, even though I have witnessed families fail, even though I have seen communities fight, even though the news always seems bad…. despite all of these things, I can’t quash the deep longing I have for the kingdom to really come to earth.
Obviously I can’t single-handedly create world peace, but in this moment, there is plenty we can do to grow love, unity and thanksgiving. Through simple acts we literally bring light to those around us, and spread kingdom on the planet. I do the seemingly small, but monumental things that I can to protect love. This includes having those difficult conversations with co-workers and being honest with my husband about how I am feeling. This includes coming out of my shell, trusting those around me with myself, and truly participating.
SROM courses provide a fantastic opportunity to practice being the body of Christ–”being one” as Christ and the Father are one. [Mind=blown] While on course you get to practice loving, peace-making, and seeing the Christ in one-another. We get to practice being vulnerable and letting others love us in our weaknesses and failures. This authentic community is often a powerful picture of the body of Christ for our students and instructors, and is a key part of how the Father uses this ministry to transform lives.
Wherever you are, I hope and pray you have a community where you can practice being one as Jesus and the Father are one. I pray this experience increases your love for Jesus, the Father, and one-another. Even though we may never get to experience the kingdom fully on earth in this life, I am comforted knowing that it is God’s desire to fill one of my deepest desires and bring authentic peace like we’ve never known before.