Posted on January 8th, 2018

​  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5 NLT
After a recent caving trip with a group of college students, we stopped to talk about the experience.  I asked the students a series of simple questions. “What’s the opposite of up? What’s the opposite of hot? What’s the opposite of light?” When I received the obvious answer that darkness is the opposite of light, it sparked a conversation about how darkness is not actually an opposing energy force to light but an absence of it.
​  The same is true of spiritual light and darkness. Spiritual darkness is simply the absence of spiritual light. In the cave when we had turned off all our lights, the darkness was overwhelming and complete, but a single pinprick of light from a headlamp immediately extinguished the darkness for a far as the beam could reach.
​ It is my belief that in the church today we often discount the power of Christ because we don’t understand the nature of the spiritual battle we are in between the forces of light  and the forces of darkness.  Either we discount the reality and the severity of the battle, or we tend to give the enemy too much credit, as if he is an opposite near co-equal power to our sovereign Lord. The reality is that even though we live in a realm of extreme darkness, we are to be bearers of the true light of Christ. When that light shines into the darkness, the darkness has no choice but to flee. It can never extinguish the light! This new year, may you boldly carry the light of Christ into the dark places of this world, trusting in His power and all sufficiency to prevail over the darkness.



by Jason Mann on December 11th, 2017

​For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Eccl. 3:1 ESV.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  IS 9:6 ESV.

Have you ever wondered why the negative and traumatic things we experience seem to stick with us the most? Think of your earliest memory. For me it’s breaking my elbow at age 4 when I fell off my toy tractor; it’s forever seared in my brain.  Recently I heard about a scientific study that suggests our  brains are hardwired to be 5 times more likely to remember negative things than positive ones. The study also suggests that if we will savor positive experiences for at least 20 seconds, we become much more likely to remember them long term.

​      As we move through the holiday season it’s easy for us to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and focus on the negative, while there is so much we have to be thankful for. I firmly believe the Lord wants us to slow down and savor the blessings that the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year holidays represent. If we don’t intentionally do this, we can so easily get swept into the cultural tide of commercialism and greed that flows like a swift undercurrent this time of year.

   This past week I spent a five-hour block in solitude in nature for a class project. I found that it took me the first hour or two to just slow my mind down and detox from the busyness of life, before I could really hear from God.   As my mind became uncluttered from distraction, I was finally able so sit and savor and just soak up God’s goodness. My attitude changed from one of discouragement to thankfulness and joy as I read God’s word and ruminated on His many blessings. May you too find some time this holiday season to get alone with God and simply savor his blessings.



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!



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