The Rock that is Higher than I

Psalm 61:1-8 (ESV)

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer;  from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I,  for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.  Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!  For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.   Prolong the life of the king; may his years endure to all generations!  May he be enthroned forever before God; appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!  So will I ever sing praises to your name, as I perform my vows day after day.

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Red River Gorge, Daniel Boone National Forest, Slade, Kentucky.

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.

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He Will Make Straight Your Paths

Proverbs 3:5-8 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

2014-02-11 - He Will Make Straight Your Paths (IMG_6828)Rough Trail descends a twisted path from the Second Story rock shelter. Red River Gorge Geological Area, Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky.

If you plan to hike in a remote area like Kentucky’s Red River Gorge, you really should not just head out and rely on your own sense of direction to find your way; carry a good topographic map and a compass and learn how to use them.  Before you venture out on an unfamiliar trail spend time studying your maps so you have a good understanding of the route you plan to follow as well as key landmarks along the way.  Even though GPS technology is useful and quite amazing, anybody who carries one will know what I mean when I say that reception is very unreliable in places like the one in this photograph.  Finally, even if you are hiking on familiar trails, you should always let someone know where you are going, what trails you are hiking, and when you plan to be back.  If something happens and you do not return as expected, this information could save your life.

In our daily walk we too often rely on our own understanding, failing to pick up the map and compass God has given us to navigate on our Christian journey through life, the Bible.  Whether in good times or bad, we think we have all the answers and fail to seek the Lord through his inspired and infallible words found in the pages of Scripture.  Nor do we turn to him in prayer like we should, seeking him with all our heart and trusting in his perfect will for our lives.  Yet if we heeded the words of today’s passage from Proverbs 3, we would realize that it is God who “will make straight [our] paths,” instead of following the twisted paths of our own understanding.

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.

To Keep You from Stumbling

Jude 1:24-25 – Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

2014-01-26 - To Keep You from Stumbling (IMG_3666)Whittleton Branch trailhead on KY-15. Red River Gorge Geological Area, Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky.

My wife and I have come to depend on our hiking sticks.  We were not sure we would like them at first, but now we very rarely hit the trail without them.  If you have never used hiking sticks you might be surprised at the difference they make in your endurance and ability.  They reduce the strain on your hips, knees, and ankles and at the same time give you the added benefit of an upper body workout.  On several occasions they have kept me from twisting an ankle on rugged terrain or slipping on a muddy trail.  They also provide stability if you need to ford a stream.  If you plan to do any serious hiking, I highly recommend getting a set of sticks!

When it comes to our Christian walk we have one who is able to keep us from stumbling, as well, that is, of course, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  But unlike a set of hiking sticks, we cannot treat him like some optional piece of gear that we pick up one day and set aside the next as our feelings dictate.  If we want to keep from stumbling we must put our trust in him daily, walking in faith with the knowledge that it is only through the power of his blood shed on the cross that we are able to overcome the desires of our sinful hearts.

We also need to remember that as Christians our destination is secured by Christ who came before us, but the life of faith is still a journey that will have rough spots along the way.  We will encounter struggles in our Christian walk to be sure, but through Christ we have assurance that one day we will persevere and he will “present [us] blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.”  And, finally, we can take great comfort in Jesus’ own words from John 6:38-40,

38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

“To the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.

Be Ready In Season and Out of Season

2 Timothy 4:1-4 – I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

2014-01-17 - Be Ready In Season and Out of Season (IMG_6809)One of our favorite scenic spots to stop for lunch, somewhere off-trail along the Rough Trail. Red River Gorge Geological Area, Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky.

Even though we do hike as often as possible in the winter, there are certainly less opportunities to get out hiking this time of year, especially with the extremely cold temperatures we have had recently, seven degrees Fahrenheit as I type this!  There are rare times that the skies are sunny and the temperatures get into the 70s, like January 12th, 2012, the day this photo was taken.  When these “out of season” beautiful days arise, you need to be ready to go if you want to take advantage of them!

Likewise as followers of Christ we need to “be ready in season and out of season” to share the gospel with those around us, as opportunities can present themselves at any time.  Part of the way we stay ready is to be committed in our private devotional life, going to God in prayer and studying his word daily; but, we also need to hear the word preached.  Left to our own devices it is easier to be led astray into false teachings.  As Christians we need the encouragement and reproof of fellow believers to properly grow in our knowledge and faith.  It is also our duty to hold each other accountable, including our leaders, by testing the things that are taught against the written word of God found in the Holy Scriptures.

We certainly live in a time where the teachings of the Christian faith are less and less endured by the world around us.  People are more and more inclined to listen to the false teachings of the secular world rather than the truths of the Bible.  “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).  As redeemed followers of Christ we have “the word of the cross,” “the power of God” on our side, therefore we have no excuse, we should always “be ready in season and out of season.”

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.