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Touching the Top of the World

Erik Weihenmayer is not your typical mountain climber. Erik’s first big climb was a mountain in Denali back in 1995. This accomplishment inspired Weihenmayer to want to reach the top of the world. Not bad for a blind man who took 6 blind Tibetan teenagers on his 2001 expedition where his team successfully reached the north side of Mount Everest. After this amazing feat, one of Erik’s mentor said, “don’t let climbing Everest be the highlight of your life.”

Again, the devil took Him up on a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory (the splendor, magnificence, preeminence, and excellence) of them, Matthew 4:8.

This comment struck a nerve within Erik. Like any ambitious athlete, Weihenmayer began to search for his next mountain to climb. More than a decade later, Erik decided to take to the water, going between the mountains. On September 7th, 2014 Erik set out to Solo Kayak the entire 277 mile stretch of the Grand Canyon. Using his ears to steer him through the white water rapids of the Colorado River, Erik’s remaining senses made this feat possible.

And he said to Him, These things, all taken together, I will give You, if You will prostrate Yourself before me and do homage and worship me. 10 Then Jesus said to him, Begone, Satan! For it has been written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve, Matthew 4:9-10.

When I look back on my own life, I’ve been told by numerous people that I couldn’t do this or that. While sometimes these individuals were correct in their assessment, I haven’t let the concerns of others prevent me from touching the top of the world. While I don’t have any aspirations to climb Mount Everest, I do want to live the abundant life promised by Jesus in John 10:10. As I draw near to God, I pray that I might possess the faith of Erik Weihenmayer so that the Holy Spirit will lift me to new heights.

by Jay Mankus

Just Don’t Read…Get the Know the Shepherd

The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack. He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake, Psalm 23:1-3.

Sheep are mentioned more than 500 in the Bible, more than any other animal.  Sheep were important to nomads and the agricultural life of Hebrews in the Old Testament.  Whether you’re talking about the 23rd Psalm or the Parable of the Lost Sheep, this animal is used to symbolize the relationship between God and his followers.  As you read the beginning of Luke 15, Jesus is like a shepherd who is willing to leave behind the faithful sheep to find the one who has wandered off.

Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over, Psalm 23:4-5.

Unfortunately, stubborn individuals are resistant to change. While people may experience moments of guilt from within their conscience to stop what they are doing, the disobedient tend to press on, full steam ahead. Regardless of how pure in heart that you may be, everyone dabbles in rebellion, especially when you come across a rule that doesn’t make any sense. However, until the Biblical Shepherd steers you in the right direction, you’ll do lots of wandering until you find your way home.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). 11 I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep, John 10:10-11.

The disciple whom Jesus loved compared his spiritual leader to a good shepherd. Instead referring to an actual shepherd tending after his sheep, Jesus served as a father figure to shelter human beings from the Devil. While the attacks of this spiritual enemy have continued long after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, just don’t read the Bible, get to know the Good Shepherd, aka God’s one and only son Jesus Christ. As you open the Bible, the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to see what it takes to live the abundant life that Jesus promised in the passage above.

by Jay Mankus

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