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.
 

 

 

Posted on April 5th, 2017

​24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  John 12:24-25 NIV

   I love spring time! A few days ago my wife and I were hiking a familiar trail around a local lake where we host our yearly trail race.  Last time I was there a few months ago everything was dead and brown, but what a difference a change of seasons makes! The forest was bursting with color, sound and fragrance as plants that had been dormant for months were now clothed in rich bright green hues.  Violet, magenta, and gold flowers graced the now carpeted forest floor. Bees and butterflies buzzed everywhere eager to taste the succulent nectar that gave off a delicious scent permeating the air. What once seemed old and dead, now appeared brand new and pulsing with life!
   
   In the book of John, Jesus tells us that a kernel of wheat must fall to the ground and die before it may be re-born and bear great fruit. He was of course speaking of His upcoming death, burial, and resurrection that would ransom all those who would follow Him, and usher them into the glorious Kingdom of God. I believe He was also speaking of a less obvious cycle of death, burial and resurrection that we must all experience. Life comes with ups and downs, seasons of pain and sorrow, as well as times of joy and rejoicing. Through it all we can be confident that if we lose our lives in the pursuit of Jesus we will ultimately gain them in the end, and our difficulties will bear much fruit.

   This Easter season, may nature remind you of the timeless story of the one who suffered and died for your sins and paid the debt you could not pay. May you also remember that He did not stay in the grave; He rose again to pave the way for us to one day rise as well. Through faith in Him, we can know that no matter how difficult things may seem, there is coming a day when all sorrow and pain shall cease, and life, joy, and peace shall rein eternal.

​He is risen!
 

 







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