Tag Archives: mountain

Make the Climb- 2020 exhortation

The sky breaks just over the mountain. It’s beautiful this time of year. The urge to climb the mountain is sometimes overwhelming, especially among the young. There is something majestic about climbing to the break of the sky. The noble trudge up the hill and exhausting toil of the climb leads to tremendous beauty. In the young, the mountain is a challenge. It taunts, calling to the observer, “I dare you to scale the heights!” Many will climb the peak and feel the sense of victory as they stand atop the mountain. They imagine during the climb that they will insist that the mountain remain under them. Yet, something mysterious happens at the top of the mountain. The victorious do not stand in triumph over their conquered prey. Rather, they are suddenly conscious of their smallness. Confronted by the overwhelming reality of their own inadequacies, they stand at the top of the mountain they’ve conquered only to gaze upon the immensity of the world around them. The majestic reality will remain with them forever. They will become the wise man who stands at the bottom of the mountain and reflects on the glory and immensity of its size while making the slow deliberate hike. No longer the sprinting youth, they become the seasoned warrior who knows the challenge of the mountain and respects its strength and size. They have been to the top, they know the glory.

This time of year leads many of us to examine the new year with boldness. Like the youthful climber, we declare that we are going to conquer the mountains that lay before us and we set goals and aspirations to accomplish those goals. This is a beautiful character trait of youth. Some of us are cynical, having tried to climb mountains in the past and failed. Yet, we must not let our past failures dictate our futures. We must become the seasoned climber who slowly and deliberately climbs to the crest. So we make reasonable goals and lay out resolutions to conquer. With joy and zeal, we start the climb. We read the first book on our list, we wake early to spend time in devotion, we eat right/exercise each day for a time. We long to conquer. We long to be victorious. We long to see the view from the mountain. Many will stop their resolutions and become disillusioned with the climb. Some will check off their lists and move on to the next adventure without pause. But for those who climb the mountain and stop to observe the view, we are reminded of our smallness. Our successes become the ground upon which we see the glory of the heavens. Our failures become another rock to walk past along the path to the summit. We climb to be reminded of the greatness of the God above and the smallness of our own frame. Though we have laid the mountain beneath our feet, the view is so magnificent that it silences our boast.

I long for the silent aw of the mountain-top view that God has for us. I long to stand in victorious climb at the top of the cliff and see the greatness of God. To be reminded of my smallness. And to know that my smallness does not hinder me from seeing God. Not because I climbed the mountain, but because He made the mountain available to climb. In Exodus God gives us a picture of the mountain. The people encamp at the bottom of the mountain and God’s presence remains at the peak. A storm cloud of holy purity, He warns the people not to touch the mountain or they will die. Moses and Joshua alone are permitted to make the climb. Yet, for you and me, Christ has climbed the mountain of God on our behalf and has made a way for us to commune with the Most High God! You have been granted access to God by God-come-down, Jesus Christ! You could not climb the summit to see God. So God, in His infinite mercy, came down to you and made a way for you. So, climb! Gather up your zeal and all the energy you can! Strive to know Jesus this year. Strive because He has made a way and you CAN know Him! Stake claim that you are going to climb the difficult mountains and stand in awe at the Lord of glory from the summit!

I want to encourage you to climb the mountain this year in a very specific way. I don’t believe that you should simply set some random goal (though goals are good things). Physical goals are fine… physical training is of some value, but Godliness is greater in every way (1 Timothy 4:8). So, aim high! Aim to be like Christ in everything. Strive to commune with the Lord on such a level that you overflow with the Love that only He can give! Climb. Seek joy. Then, when you reach the top of your mountain, look around and be reminded of the glory of God how much more there is to see and glorify!

Read your Bible daily. Pray in every moment. Keep a list of prayer needs and address them daily. Challenge yourself to find your entertainment in Christ and knowing Him. Make your moments matter. Invest in a brother or sister in Christ. Create great works of art in praise to God’s glory. Write the book God laid on your heart. Share the Gospel with one person a day. But, above all else: STRIVE TO KNOW CHRIST!

Climb the mountain with me. Let’s do this.

Climbing the Mountain

climbingA man climbs a mountain. Every once and a while he turns and looks out over what God has made, and he is privileged to see the greatest sights imaginable. He watches the valley grow smaller and smaller as he pushes his body to ever greater heights. He sees animals of different altitudes, and watches as the trees grow thin and the air grows crisp around him. He takes note of the way his hands and feet begin to burn as he strives to reach the top of the mountain. He clings to the great rocks and presses himself into them as he climbs further. He is learning this mountain. Every clip of the carabineer, every crack he can grasp onto, every slide and toe grip of his foot brings him closer to his goal and intimately closer to the rock he is climbing. Finally, exhausted, he reaches the top and turns around to see the view he has been laboring so hard to see. He cries tears of joy at the majesty before him.

Another man at the top of the same mountain marvels at the same view and then climbs back into the helicopter that carried him to the top. His hands are not tired. His feet do not ache. His view is the same, yet, his understanding of the mountain and his connection with that mountain are so much less. The ride was not cumbersome for this man of ease. Little was required of him; little was achieved by him.

The man who climbed knows the mountain. The man in the helicopter has only seen the view from the top.

My older brother began to teach me to know God when I was still very young (about 12). Much like climbing a mountain, knowing God is hard work. Memorizing Scripture, laboring over passages, studying hard, thinking deeply. As I have grown, I have found greater joy in the climb. You see, we live in a culture where we can constantly take “helicopter rides” to the tops of mountains of God’s character. We have enough material at our disposal that we can easily listen to a sermon, read a book, or hear a song that would give us a glimpse of the mountain. This is truly a great privilege, but it also has a tremendous danger laced within it. If we become so comfortable with the helicopter rides, we will never make the climb ourselves. We will be dependent on teachers and curricular for our sustenance. We will never know The Mountain.

Before you think I am being overly dramatic, think about it: Do the Christians around you speak of the deep things of God without a prompt from some teacher? Do we quote the Scriptures or famous people more often? When was the last time you sat and examined your Bible until the Lord clearly spoke? I tell you, we are a people of “helicopter theology.” We hear and we repeat some wonderful truths…but how well do we know those truths?

So, I want to invite you to study. Perhaps the single greatest method I have ever used to “climb the mountain” is the inductive study method. But, be warned: this takes work. Studying the Bible in this manner is not for the faint of heart! You will have to train your mind to think about Scripture and carefully observe details before you interpret and apply them. You will have to learn where to place the picks on the rocks and when to clip the carabineers. You will need to learn to deny the helicopter ride to the top…until you have climbed that mountain for yourself.

I’ve been using the inductive method for about 10 years now in my personal study and I do the work (and fun!) of climbing regularly with a small group. We climb together and it is laborious but incredibly rewarding. I pray you too would be willing to do the work to know the Lord intimately! If you want to take the helicopter, that’s fine… You’ll see some spectacular views and you’ll be privileged to stand in awe at those views. But if you will dedicate yourself to the climb, you’ll know The Mountain.

You can find more about the inductive study method here. You can also find numerous other resources to help you learn inductive study methods from lifeway.com and christianbook.com

1 Timothy 4:6-10 – “In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.”