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!
 

 



Posted on March 24th, 2017

​And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”  Esther 4:14b NIV
 
   Have you ever found yourself in exactly the right place at the right time? Have you been in a situation where if one or two decisions or circumstances changed, things might have turned out very differently? The biblical heroine Esther experienced just such a situation.  She found herself unexpectedly elevated from humble beginnings to Queen of the most powerful kingdom in the world at the time.  She also found herself in a position to save the lives of her entire race if she would only step out and intervene for them at great personal risk to herself.

  Last month I unexpectedly found myself in the right place at the right time to make a real difference in a stranger’s life. Scottie and I had been climbing at Red Rock Canyon in Nevada for several days, and for our last day had planned a moderate multi-pitch in Black Velvet Canyon, high up in the mountains with a long approach. 

​  We awoke to low hanging clouds and high winds and at the last minute decided to head to Calico Basin for some less committal climbs closer to the car in case we had to bail for weather. After climbing a super fun 5.7 I decided not to lead a 5.10 next to it because the area we were in was getting busy and there would have been a wait.  As we were making our way to Dickies cliff we decided to take a short-cut that ended up being a long-cut and took an extra 20 min of scrambling down a boulder choked canyon. When we finally got to the wall I looked up just in time to see a climber struggling 30 feet up the cliff, and watched in horror as he fell, pulled his piece of protection, hit a ledge, bounced, and fell an additional 10 feet. As I ran to the scene, two thoughts slammed into my brain; 1) I’ve trained for this. 2) Jesus please don’t let this man die! 

  When I arrived at the base of the wall about 15 seconds later, it was clear that the climber was seriously injured. His climbing partner quickly told me the injured man’s name was Greg. Greg was unresponsive, his breathing was extremely labored, and blood had begun to pool in his nostrils and ears. As I initiated care I quickly discovered his helmet was cracked at the base of his skull.  This indicated a possible skull fracture. The next 45 minutes were a blur as I maintained control of Greg’s spine, and his climbing partner and I and several others monitored his condition and treated him for shock. Three times Greg stopped breathing for what seemed like an eternity but in reality was only 10 to 15 seconds. Each time I prayed aloud in the name of Jesus to spare this man’s life and help him breath, and miraculously he would begin to breath again. 

   By the time the medical professionals arrived, Greg was starting to wake up and had begun to mumble, but was still unresponsive. Greg was quickly evacuated from the scene and care-flighted to a nearby hospital. The first police officer on the scene who had to rappel out of a chopper to get there told me, “Thank you for following your training. I hope we got here in time.”

  This story has a happy ending.  After nearly a month in the hospital Greg has made an incredible recovery. His fractured skull is quickly healing, and the doctors are predicting he will have no permanent damage or impairments from the accident. I’ve also made a new friend who I hope to meet in person one day. I’m so thankful for my training and that God put me in exactly the right place at the right time to use it.  I’m also thankful for answered prayer, and God’s continued work in Greg’s life. 

 


 

Posted on January 11th, 2017

​3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me,“Write, for these words are true and faithful.” Rev 21:3-5 NKJV

  As we begin 2017 it is so crucial for us to remember that the Lord is in the process of making all things new.  He did not say, “behold, I make all new things”.  The resurrected Lord and Savior Jesus Christ told the Apostle John, “behold I make all things new.” 

​Listening to a recent John Eldredge Podcast while driving across the frigid Texas plains on my way to Colorado, I was struck by the enormity of this promise.  Heaven is not just "pie in the sky by and by."  It is not some elusive ethereal day dream.  It is not just a blind hope that we have for eternity.  Jesus is in the process of redeeming and remaking this earth.  Imagine the beauty of a new earth without the curse.  Imagine the Himalayas and the Rockies in all their glory but in ultra spiritual HD.  Imagine all the extinct species of animals reborn and remade with no disease and no defects.   Imagine all your hurts and pains and trials and suffering not just relieved, but redeemed!  What a glorious hope awaits those who are in Christ Jesus!

​  Right now Ascend is in a season of rebirth and renewal. As of January first I have begun a 2 month sabbatical marking the end of my seventh year of full time ministry with Ascend Outdoor Adventures.  We are in the process of adding 2 new full time staff members.  Our vision and kingdom influence are growing and deepening.  I am so thankful for this opportunity to push into rest, solitude, meditation, and renewal.  One of the goals of my sabbatical is to begin writing a book that God put on my heart 9 months ago. We joyously lean into this time of change and growth confident that it is a mere reflection of the glory that awaits us when Christ returns and makes all things new.   As you face this new year, may you be confident and hopeful in the assurance that we are one step closer to the glorious return of Jesus, and the renewal and the restoration of all things!
 



 

 

 

by Jason Mann on December 5th, 2016

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 NIV

  Last week our little family went to a live Christmas diorama at a local church in our neighborhood entitled Follow the Star. It was very well done and really put us in the Christmas spirit, but what struck me most is that the production showed scenes from the entire life of Christ, including His death, burial, and resurrection.  It was such a wonderful reminder that the virgin birth is only the beginning of the story. 

  You may have heard it said that Jesus is the reason for the season. Although this saying can easily become a trite and quippy platitude, there is deep meaning behind it. The true miracle of Christmas is that BE CAME. “I AM”, the pre-existent Christ, the eternal second member of the Holy Trinity, left his place in heaven, humbled himself, and became a man. The God-man Jesus experienced every trial and temptation we can and will ever face, and yet He was without sin. He suffered at the hands of cruel men and paid our sin debt when we never possibly could have. 
 
  Often on our trips, I will tell our participants that Jesus is their ultimate trail guide. He is not an authority figure similar to a traffic cop that only motions and barks orders to passing motorists. He doesn’t just hand us the trail map at the base of the mountain and say, “Have a nice trip; I’ll be down here sipping a latte.” He made the journey before us. He knows the trials and dangers ahead, and His offer is to expertly guide us through them providing abiding comfort and joy all along the way.

   This Christmas may we be thankful that Jesus is the reason for the season, but may we also rest deeply in the realization that there is so much more to the story. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us that He might also dwell in us. If we will follow Him, He will not abandon us but will lead us moment by moment as we continually grow in His grace and truth.  
 

 


Posted on October 28th, 2016

​20 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’  Joshua 4:20-22 NIV

   On a recent climbing trip in North Africa my partner and I had a very long day. We had just climbed a 1000ft plus mountain trad route and descended to the base as the sun dipped below the horizon. We hurriedly made our way through the underbrush in the dark by headlamp following the steep climber's trail the 2 or so miles downhill back to our vehicle.  In many places the faint and seldom used path was crisscrossed by goat trails used by herders. At one point we completely lost the trail and spent about half an hour bushwhacking our way through dense snarls and thickets before we were able to find  the trail once again. Once we discerned the correct path we set a Cairn for future travelers, and made our way back to our vehicle. It only took a few more minutes to get out once we were on the right trail.

  For thousands of years people have been setting up cairns, (simply piles of stone), to mark the way. Often on a wilderness journey the welcome sight of one of these simple way-points will ease the mind of a weary sojourner. A cairn is almost always a positive sign and means you are most likely headed the right direction.

  In the book of Joshua, the great Hebrew leader instructs his people to make a Cairn of sorts. They were to pile 12 stones from the Jordan river as a visual reminder that God had split the waters by His mighty power to bring the 12 tribes into the promised land. For many years this monument must have been a moving sight to generations that followed. It was here that God fulfilled His promises and Israel truly became a nation.

  ​In the chapter on study in Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster refers to the great Christian works in much the same way. He says, “Many others have traveled the same path and have left markers. Remember that the key to the Discipline of study is not reading many books but experiencing what we do read.” When I read biographies of saints who have gone before me, or great works like Brother Lawrence's The Practice of the Presence of God, or even more contemporary classics like C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, I am moved by how the authors experienced the love and faithfulness of God in their day and time. Scripture itself is the greatest repository of wisdom and experience by those who have walked the path before us. The unwritten words of faithful elder saints who God has put in my life have also served as an incredible guide and beacon of hope on my journey. 

  As you travel the rugged pathway of life, keep your eye out for cairns erected by those who have gone before you.  Let them remind you of God’s goodness and faithfulness. In time you may indeed place some of your own. 
 








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