We seem to have found a new thing we love to do.

We went hiking.

I’m not the most “outdoorsy” guy. I like being outside, but I’ve never been one to spend a great deal of time beyond the paved road. But I learned something important. There are just some incredible sights you cannot see from the paved road.

Here’s an example. The picture here was taken from the gravel parking area where the hiking trail began.

It’s pretty and green, but there’s nothing spectacular… just the promise of finding something amazing along the trail.

We chose to follow the trail. It led to a long, vigorous climb full of mud-holes, slippery rocks, narrow paths, steep stretches, many switchbacks, a few tricky crawls… and so much wonder.

One trail led us about 3 miles up and down and around and along to this amazing waterfall.

Another led us up through a spruce/fir forest onto a couple of grassy balds with views like this.

Still another led us up and up and up for almost 4 miles to step out on a rocky outcropping to this.

And through it all, I heard this whisper in my spirit, “You can’t see this from the paved road.”

But something strange happened in the climb. The weight of the challenges of this life seemed to fade. The weariness in our hearts seemed to fade as the weariness in our legs grew. The heaviness of spirit that comes from the good work of walking alongside so many dear friends through their battles of various kinds seemed to melt away with the sweat and the strain of the climb.

And we saw in the wondrous beauty of Creation a glimmer of an abiding spiritual truth: There are wonders to be seen through the weary, agonizing, struggle of life that simply cannot be experienced when life is easy.

I believe it’s at the heart of what Paul wrote to the Philippians in expressing his greatest longing and desire in his life, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3.10-11)

Suffering is a part of this human existence. It is a universal reality in this beautiful, broken world. But Paul’s desire was to experience the transforming power of Jesus’ resurrection that brings life from death, joy amid suffering, and ultimately everlasting life on the other side of the grave.

In those experiences in knowing Jesus – knowing Him more intimately through our struggles and sorrows and sufferings as well as through the triumphs – we see dimensions of His great love and faithfulness that simply cannot be seen in the days of ease.

In this He gives us more of that which we most need – Himself. In this is grace indeed.

Father, I know that days of anguish and struggle will come. Let me see the wonders of who You are in those inevitable moments and I will know that the pain has not been wasted.


The Mess of Religion

October 10, 2017

Yes, I wrote it – and I mean it.

We’re walking through the book of John and the theme, in my understanding, is that God came here into our mess in the person of Jesus, the Son of God. But you have to bear in mind that he stepped into the world in what may have been the most religious place on the planet.

So… if there was so much religion already, why would God come here?

I submit to you this thought: His objective was not to bring religion, but relationship.

I addressed this in Sunday’s message.

Do you see Him? Between the tangled threads of religion, do you see that He came to make it possible for you and I to have a personal connection with God?

Do you believe Him? Do you really trust that He did this for you?

Do you know Him? Today, will you take Him up on His invitation to walk through this life and beyond with Him?

Cherished Discomfort

September 28, 2017

I had to throw on a hoodie to sit on the porch this morning.

The air is cool and breezy, cool enough that I had to have a soft, warm wrapper.

Hoodies rock! (Especially this bright one I bought at the Cannon Beach Surf Shop!)

It’s just a little too cool to sit here without it. It’s a delightful thing, isn’t it? I’ve noticed many folks on social media decrying the temperatures hanging in the nineties even though the calendar tells us it is fall. Many have been longing for that first real break in the heat that tells us fall is really here. And now we have it. Read the rest of this entry »