Mountains, etc.

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John
and led them up on a high mountain.

-Matthew 17:1

That’s what I’m going to do! Six days from now I’ll be leading Zahnds and others up on the high mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park. Mountains like…

Longs Peak
McHenrys Peak
Halletts Peak
Otis Peak
Ypsilon Mountain

I love these mountains. I’m fanatical about them. The mountains motivate me to stay in shape for the few weeks a year that I have a chance to hike and climb. As I type the blog I’ve got maps spread out on the floor as I plan various mountain adventures.

Well, my heart’s in the Highlands at the break of day
Over the hills and far away
There’s a way to get there, and I’ll figure it out somehow
But I’m already there in my mind
And that’s good enough for now

So with my mind in the mountains I thought I’d share something with you I gave this morning in our staff chapel.

Ten Things I’ve Learned About God, Life & Myself from the Mountains.

1. God is an artist who works in scales both large and small.
I can literally sit for hours and stare at the grand panorama of majestic mountains and watch their mood change with the clouds and light. And then I can look down at my feet and be stunned by the beauty of a tiny columbine wildflower.

2. God is the Ancient of Days.
To think that God began creating those Rocky Mountains 70 million years ago and put the finishing glaciating touches on them 11,000 years ago! Time is on God’s side.

3. I have a primeval connection with the earth.
Part of me is formed from the dust of the earth. Part of me comes from the breath of God. I long to have fellowship with God and nature. I have no connection with plastic. The mountains are medicine for my soul.

4. God believes in freewill.
Mountains are majestic. Mountains are beautiful. Mountains are inspiring. Mountains are also dangerous. I know that and I have to keep it in mind. If I choose to climb a mountain there is a certain risk. Yes, I pray, but I’m also careful and never caviler. The mountains don’t care. And God has created them that way.

5. Big accomplishments can result from lots of little steps.
The only way you climb a big mountain is with lots of little steps. You can do big things in life with lots of little steps.

6. Rhythm makes things easier.
It’s hard to climb a mountain in fits and starts. It’s easier if you can settle into a steady rhythm. This is true of climbing mountains and it’s true of living life.

7. Fear can be managed and overcome.
I enjoy taking people up Longs Peak for the first time. (I charge them $1 so I can call myself a professional mountain guide. Ha!) There are places on this mountain that people can find disconcerting. The Narrows is an example. But their fear can be managed and overcome. This too is true of life.

8. You can do more than you think.
Ten years ago I did little more than go on moderately strenuous hikes. Now I get on top of peaks that I would have thought beyond my capabilities. My friend, you can do more than you think!

9. The hard effort of a noble pursuit is worth it.
I’ve never reached a summit and thought it wasn’t worth it. Go for something hard. It’s worth it!

10. Everything is going to be alright.
I’m not exactly sure how the mountains tell me this, but they do. Maybe it has to do with their unmoved serenity through the eons of time. Maybe it has to with an intuitive knowledge that the One who made the mountains is making me too. I don’t know exactly what it is — but the mountains do speak this to me. I look at them and just know: Everything is going to be alright. Maybe that’s what David was thinking when he said in the 36th Psalm, “Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains.” God’s righteousness is not just His “rightness”, but His intention to set at rights a world gone wrong. Amen.

As I was browsing through my mountain pictures to post on this blog I found a picture that reminds me of something else I learned from the mountains. So…

11. Storms aren’t much fun but they don’t last forever.
This picture was taken a few minutes before a pretty severe storm hit. But it didn’t last forever. We survived the storm…and you will too!



The Dylan show at Starlight last night was great! I saw a good constituency of Word of Lifers there.

Here’s the set list:

1. Cat’s In The Well
2. Lay, Lady, Lay
3. Watching The River Flow
4. Girl Of The North Country
5. The Levee’s Gonna Break
6. Shelter From The Storm
7. High Water (For Charlie Patton)
8. Just Like A Woman
9. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
10. Spirit On The Water
11. Highway 61 Revisited
12. When The Deal Goes Down
13. Summer Days
14. Ballad Of A Thin Man
15. Thunder On The Mountain
16. All Along The Watchtower

The highlight for me was Shelter From The Storm. Fantastic!

Funny moment from the Bobshow:
Shortly before Dylan took the stage a guy tapped me on the shoulder and this conversation ensued:

Him : Are you that preacher I see on TV?

Me: Yes.

Him: Man! What are you doing here?

Me: The same thing you are.

Him: Are you a Dylan fan?

Me: You have no idea.

Him: How many albums do you have?

Me: All of them. All 44 official releases and countless bootlegs.

Him: Cool!

Me: God bless you.

Him: I’m going to watch you more on TV.

Me: Cool.

I’ve found that lots of people don’t expect pastors to be actual human beings and to have shared human interests. But we are and we do.

This weekend is a Faith Life Summer Weekend!

I’ll be preaching strong messages on faith this Friday and Sunday.

Faith is the victory that overcomes!