Going to the Mountain

Living in the mountains is in my limited estimation a little glimpse of Heaven! One of my greatest joys in life is hiking, especially the AT, and immersing myself step-by-step in the sustaining handiwork of God as I journey to waterfalls, vista points, cliffs, or just singing along the trail.

Two weeks ago, I had the immense privilege of hiking with a dear friend on the AT in Spivey Gap, near Erwin, TN. What made this hike so special was the week of snowfall prior to our hike. Trudging upward to High Rocks was difficult in the measurable snow of six inches to two feet. Arriving early in the morning, the cloud cover gave way to a beautiful sunny sky which caused the snow to sparkle like a jewelry store. Animal tracks were in abundance as was the partially covered footprints of a hiker from the previous day.

Of all the glorious things I experienced on this hike, what touched me the most was the serene stillness all around us. My friend and I were the only ones on the trail. Several times I would stop to just listen to the quiet and commune with my Lord in silent prayer.

Speaking of prayer, do you do all the talking? Is your prayer life consumed with petitions only. When’s the last time you just knelt or sat in the presence of your Heavenly Father listening to Him commune with your heart in the stillness?

Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. While reading this passage this morning from Luke 9:28-29, I came across a rich commentary by Alexander MacLaren that speaks of prayer in a way that I am afraid is foreign to so many, of which I long for as well.

Prayer is more than petitions. It is not necessarily cast into words at all. In its widest, which is its truest sense, it is the attitude and exercise of devout contemplation of God and intercourse in heart, mind, and will with Him, a communion which unites aspiration and attainment, longing and fruition, asking and receiving, seeking and finding, a communion which often finds itself beggared for words, and sometimes even seems to transcend thought. How different is such an hour of rapt communion with the living God from the miserable notions which so many professing Christians have of prayer, as if it were but spoken requests, more or less fervent and sincere, for things that they want! The noblest communion of a soul with God can never be free from the consciousness of need and dependence. Petition must ever be an element in it, but supplication is only a corner of prayer. Such conscious converse with God is the very atmosphere in which the Christian soul should always live, and if it be an experience altogether strange to us we had better ask ourselves whether we yet know the realities of the Christian life, or have any claim to the name. ‘Truly, our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ,’ and if we have no share in that fellowship we do not belong to the class of whom it is the mark and possession. (MacLaren’s Expositions)

Just as the freshly fallen snow had blanketed the mountains with a calming stillness, may you be transfigured by simply moving from the “corner of prayer” petitions to the quiet contemplations of the vast vistas of our omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, holy, loving, merciful, gracious Heavenly Father!

Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

Clippin’ Grace Coupons

The complete life of a believer in Christ is all about grace.  We deserve an eternity in hell because we are sinners under the wrath of God (Romans 3:9-30; Ephesians 2:1-3).  We are totally unrighteous (Romans 3:10).  But when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Romans 10:9-13), God accepts us in Christ by His grace (Ephesians 1:6; 2:8-9).  From that point on, we live by God’s grace, we are sustained by God’s grace, and we are empowered to live for Him by grace as His disciple (Matthew 4:19; Luke 14:26-27, 33).

So, whenever I write this post about clippin’ grace coupons, it is my way of recognizing the truth of Ephesians 2:7, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  God is so very good to us, and sometimes like Andy Griffith would say, “Extreee good!”

Here’s a few grace  coupons God has allowed me to clip in the past two weeks.

Grace Coupon #1:  Running toward the sunrise at the beach

Denise and I love to get up early on vacation and watch the awesome display of God’s handiwork!  She walks, and I run.  What a time we have together!

Grace Coupon #2:  Seeing the elk at Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountain Park

What a special treat to hike this area as well as Big Creek with a dear friend and fellow hiker, Rick Stoner!

Grace Coupon #3:  The Beauty of Cataloochee

Grace Coupon #4:  Singing in the Sun 2017

What a special treat to attend two nights and hear such groups as Mark Trammell Quartet, Brian Free & Assurance, The Talleys, Gold City, and Triumphant Quartet.  Better than the singing was the preaching of Evangelist C.T. Townsend and Dr. Herb Reavis and seeing many souls come to Christ!!  A special thank you to the Life FM for the great seats.

An unexpected blessing on the second night was to sit right behind a young girl from back home, her husband and their daughter.  Then, to find out that a dear friend of mine and his wife were a section over from us!  He and I have shouted, praised the Lord, wept, and rejoiced at many Southern Gospel concerts.

 

Grace Coupon #5:  Worshiping With Our Daughter & Son-in-Law, Whitney & Paul

I Met Jordan

Jordan

Living in the mountains of East Tennessee gives many reasons for rejoicing and thanksgiving! The scenery changes every day and every season through the myriad acts of God’s creative, sustaining, sovereign hands.  How often I find myself singing “How Great Thou Art,” and “How Great Is Our God!”

Yesterday while driving back from Asheville, NC, I had in my mind to stop along the creek near Rocky Fork State Park near Flag Pond, TN.  Major rains had descended upon us through the night so I knew the waterfalls would be awesome, and it would provide a peaceful place to sit and commune with my God in prayer.

The Lord had other plans for which I am oh so grateful.  When I turned onto the Old Asheville Highway, there was a bearded man with a full pack and hiking poles which immediately signified an AT thru-hiker.  Since I love to hike, especially on the Appalachian Trail, this was a great opportunity in many ways!  Upon offering him a ride, he threw his gear in the back of my car, and we headed for Erwin and Uncle Johnny’s.  What a special treat to listen to his recent weather-related stories as well as the back-story of his life.

The very best part was the joy of talking about eternal life, listening to his answers, caring for his needs and ministering to him Christ Who has finished the work of salvation for all sinners including Jordan and myself.  What a special privilege!!

Please pray for my new friend, Jordan, as he hikes the trail.

Meeting Jordan was the highlight of my day!!

 

Here are two links to his story and the reason for his AT journey:

Jordan’s Story

Jordan’s AT Thru-Hike

 

Here is a video link for you to learn how you can have a personal relationship with God and know for certain your sins are forgiven and that you have a home in Heaven forever.

The Gospel Message

How’s the View?

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Hiking has always been in my blood!  I remember as a six-grader hiking up East River Mountain, Bluefield, WV, on Christmas Day with a foot or more of snow on the ground!  Wow!  I have never forgotten the views, the beauty of the sparkling snow, and the fun of just hiking with family.

Something that beckons me to climb a mountain is to reach the summit.  Why?  Because I am so intrigued by the view, and I want to know what it looks like on the other side.

 

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One of the many blessings of traveling to Israel was mounting the summit of the Arbel Cliffs.  What an awesome view overlooking the Sea of Galilee.  During the early ministry of Jesus, which took place on the western side of the Sea of Galilee, Scripture mentions that He departed into the mountain to pray (Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12).  We cannot be certain that the Arbel Cliffs was that mountain, but it sure could have been since it is situated between Tiberius and Capernaum.

Praying takes me to the summit.  There is no higher throne of authority than the Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:14-16).

From that summit, I see all things around me through the eyes and wisdom of God.  There, I am taken above my worries, fears, anxieties, questions, doubts, temptations, Satan, old sin nature, and needs.

At the summit of prayer is that quiet place above the noise and distractions below.  There I feel like I could soar like the eagles.

There at the summit, I can see the attributes and character of God, the person of Christ, and the enabling help of the Spirit who draws me to prayer.

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The Psalmist David knew about that summit when he said, From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I (Psalm 61:2).

And when he (Jesus) had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone (Matthew 14:23).

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jeremiah 33:3).

How’s your view this morning, this afternoon, and this evening?

A Quiet, Peaceful Date in East TN

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Pack your picnic basket with your favorites.  Take a blanket, camera, a book, and ears to listen.  Leave your cares behind and head on up to Unaka Mountain Overlook.   My wife and I have sat all alone on the picnic table and watched the sunset.  Absolutely beautiful!  By the way, I recommend that you do not take the family car on this trip!

Directions: From I-26 take the Unicoi exit (#32). At the end of exit ramp turn east towards town. At the stop sign, turn right onto Route 173/Unicoi Road (which is also known locally as the Erwin Highway) and proceed for 0.7 miles. Follow the signs pointing to the Cherokee National Forest by turning left onto Rt. 107 (Limestone Cove Road). Drive 7.8 miles, turn right on Red Fork Road (it’s also referred to as Unaka Mountain Road). Reset your trip odometer and proceed up the mountain. I’ve listed below some of the things to experience on Unaka…(listed in the order you’ll find them — with mileage listed as distance from Hwy 107):

Red Fork Falls (1.2)

Clear Fork Falls (2.2)

AT Connector Trail (4.9)

Stamping Ground Ridge (6)

Horseback Ridge (6.3)

Unaka Mountain Overlook (7.2)

Unaka Flat Rock Overlook (7.2)

Trailhead to Unaka Mountain Summit (7.9)

Deep Gap (9.3)

Beauty Spot Gap (9.8)

Beauty Spot Overlook (10.2)

AT Crossing (11.3)

Indian Grave Gap (Hwy 395) (12.1)

For a more detailed explanation of directions, check out Unaka Mountain Overlook

Directions courtesy of  appalachiantreks.blogspot.com

 

Sometimes, you just have to get away!