by Jason Mann on October 12th, 2017

   ​You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.  Trust in the Lord forever for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock. IS 26:3-4 ESV

   Last month I was in Denver Colorado for a seminary class. I took a couple extra days to hike to the high point of Colorado, Mt Elbert, the second highest point in the lower 48.  On my 10 or so hour hike, I found ample time for solitude with the Lord and was reminded once again of the power of wilderness to clear my mind and help me focus on God.

​Frequently when we ask participants what they feel like they have gained from an experience, they speak of a sense of peace and well being.  So often in our hurried and busy lives our minds become muddled and distracted by the cares of this world.  There is incredible value in the wilderness experience in helping us to clear our minds and focus on the Lord.

  In the book of Isaiah, the Lord promises to keep in perfect peace the one whose mind is stayed upon Him.  It is my belief that we often do not experience this sense of peace because  we do not intentionally and regularly take time away from our busy schedules to focus our minds on the Lord. One of the greatest benefits I have experienced in outdoor ministry is the frequent opportunities I find myself with to be alone with the Lord in nature.  Just simply being with God surrounded by His creation helps me to refocus my mind on Him.  With this refocusing comes a sense of clarity and peace.  It is my prayer that you may find some time this week to get into nature and intentionally stay your mind upon  Him.
 

 

  
 

by Jason Mann on September 7th, 2017

​   And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”  Luke 8:24-25 ESV

  This past month has been a difficult one. As I’m sure you are well aware one of the worst natural disasters in US history struck the Texas coast last week in the form of Hurricane Harvey. Here in Austin we got some heavy rain and high winds downed a few trees, but we didn’t not see nearly the destruction and devastation experienced on the coast, particularly in Houston.

​   Over the past few days we have been on the phone with numerous friends and family members in the area. Miraculously most of the people we know personally suffered very little damage.  We are hoping to organize a trip through Ascend and our church soon to head to the coast and aid in the relief efforts. 

   In times like this it is crucial to remember that we have a Master who is in charge of the winds and the waves.  Like the disciples of old it can be easy for us to despair when we are tossed to and fro by the storms of life.  Like they did, we can so easily forget just who is in the boat with us. May we look to the only one who can truly calm the storm, trusting that He is in control.  Whatever you are facing today, it is our prayer that you may find refuge and hope in the arms of the Master.
 

 

 

by Jason Mann on August 8th, 2017

​5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 ESV

  At our home in Central Texas, I maintain what I like to call a “natural landscape” in our front yard. It’s basically an excuse to do less yardwork, by letting the native flora take over big portions of our yard.  In our front flower bed awhile back I noticed that creeping vines had crawled up the wall and begun to take over the space next to our front windows.  Upon further inspection I realized that these vines were actually Poison Ivy, to which I am highly allergic. So instead of pulling the vines and risking weeks of itchy, painful welts, I simply took my trimmer and cut them off at the ground.

   The change was gradual at first, even unnoticeable, but slowly over time the vines shriveled and  died. Without their connection to the root they could not survive. It was then easy to pull them away and throw them in the trash without risking exposure. 
​ 
 Jesus describes our spiritual source of life as being much like these vines. If we do not abide in Him daily our souls will quickly wither away to dust.  One of the things I treasure deeply about the wilderness experience, is how it provides amazing opportunities to abide in Christ. Away from the noise and distraction of their busy normal day lives, participants often find that their connection with Christ is restored and renewed simply by intentionally seeking Him in nature.   How are you abiding in Christ? We pray that you may find some time in nature this week to connect with the one true source of Life!
 

 


 

by Jason Mann on July 18th, 2017

​He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  Eccl. 3:11 NIV

​  Have you ever thrown a stone into a calm pool of water? If you were to do so, you might notice that there would be an initial big splash followed by successive ripples spreading out from the point of impact. These ripples continue to disperse for quite some time after the primary disturbance.

  In the movie Gladiator, Maximus quotes the emperor Marcus Aurelius to his troops right before a pivotal battle with the fearsome Germanic hordes.  From the back of his noble war horse Maximus looks his men in the eye and shouts, “What we do in life echoes in eternity.”  Although this maxim, (pun intend) is not scriptural, it resonates with the words of the author of Ecclesiastes some 1000 years earlier. The Lord has set eternity in the hearts of men, and as the Apostle Paul goes on to explain in Acts 17, he set them in their times and places that they might seek him and know Him. 
 
  Outdoor ministry is often like that splash in a pond.  The facilitator’s job is to bring about a disturbance, a catalytic encounter with creation and Creator that leaves ripples long after the fact. Participants are frequently impacted in powerful, life-changing ways that have eternal echoes, which reverberate with surprising and unexpected tones.
 
  Wherever you find yourself today, may you recognize that even the simplest act can have eternal consequences. What you do now ripples in eternity.

 

 

by Jason Mann on May 2nd, 2017

​   He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”  Psalm 91:1-2 ESV

​  On a trip to Nevada about a year ago, I had the pleasure of climbing the classic route Tunnel Vision.  The route is aptly named as it climbs about 600 ft straight up the rock and then veers into a cavernous dimly lit cave.  The experience was surreal as I made my way out of a well protected chimney at the top of pitch 3 onto a vast near vertical face on the side of the mountain. After about 100 ft of stellar but sparsely protected climbing I reached the tunnel.  I found myself staring into a yawing void in the rock.  As I planted myself on the firm, level floor of the cave and began to belay my second, an overwhelming peace flooded my soul. The words of the old hymn made their way from my heart and out of my lips. “He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock That shadows a dry, thirsty land; He hideth my life with the depths of His love, And covers me there with His hand, And covers me there with His hand.”

​   I imagine that the Psalmist is thinking of a similar experience in Psalm 91 as he referred to the Lord as his refuge and fortress.  This may have even been an allusion to the biblical cave of Adullam where David and his men sought refuge from the murderous King Saul.  There is something deeply comforting about being in a sheltered place high on a cliff where storms and enemies cannot reach you.  What a powerful reminder that no matter what trials we are facing we have a mighty God that we can rely upon for shelter and refuge.  May you take comfort in the knowledge that you have a loving heavenly Father whom you can trust that longs to cover you with His mighty hand.
 

 

 





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