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Build Genuine Fellowship By Creating Community

We help build genuine fellowship by creating community which includes:

Sharing true feelings = Authenticity

Encouraging one another = Mutual respect

Supporting each other = Sympathy

Forgiving each other = Mercy

Speaking the truth = Honesty

Admitting weakness = Humility

Respecting each other‘s differences = Courtesy

Never gossiping = Confidentiality

Making meeting a priority = Frequency

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Wilderness is a Trustworthy Counselor

Wilderness is a trustworthy counselor. If you visit her office, you’ll consistently get truth and grace. Some counselors err on the side of offering too much support and too little challenge. Other counselors go the other extreme. The wilderness has been a type of counselor throughout all of history that somehow knows how to strike the balance.

For sure, the elements and exposure seem too much to handle and we want to panic. Other times, the beauty and serenity almost whisk us away from worldly worries and concerns in a type of heaven-on-earth experience; resting in a meadow on a warm day or fishing in a cascading brook with clouds entertaining us above. But for those who will spend some consistent time in the wilderness they will find her to be a good and trustworthy counselor.

A TRUSTWORTHY COUNSELOR WILL HELP YOU REFLECT

Often people ask, when I spend time in the wilderness how do I make it more intentional? What do I do to make it more of a spiritual experience. Of course the answers will vary but one simple suggestion is just to immerse yourself in a passage of Scripture and see how your surroundings, attitudes, emotions, connect with what God is teaching you in Scripture.

For example, let’s take Matthew 6:19-21 where Jesus taught on laying up treasures in heaven. This is a great passage for wilderness reflection:Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:19-21

As you spend a day in the wild, you might want to consider two contrasting angles on this perspective. First, what are those things in your life that moth and rust will destroy? Second, what are those things in your life that are eternal that will last forever?

1 One of the almost guaranteed blessings of wilderness travel, even for just a day trip is that we realize how little we need to be happy.

This passage helped me grasp from these two categories, five basic areas to consider. What won’t last is the physical and the familiar. What will last for eternity are souls, service, and sacrifices. Lets consider each of these briefly:

2 THINGS THAT MOTH AND DUST WILL DESTROY1. PHYSICAL: WE LIVE IN A PHYSICAL WORLD, FILLED WITH MANY WONDERFUL THINGS. AND EVERYTHING GOD HAS MADE IS GOOD. BUT, THINK HOW EASY IS IT FOR US TO CLING TO THE MATERIAL WORLD FOR COMFORT OR STATUS, OR EVEN IDENTITY.

Ultimately the world will pass and we cannot take anything with us to the grave. “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”

1 Timothy 6:7. One of the almost guaranteed blessings of wilderness travel, even for just a day trip is that we realize how little we need to be happy. A day pack with a rain jacket, some food and water, and our Bible, and we are unbelievably happy. Entertained by frolicking squirrels hopping from tree to tree, surprised by a deer grazing near a stream… these good distractions show us that the Lord has provided a world full of beauty for us to enjoy, and we don’t need to accumulate things to insure happiness. In fact, just the opposite.

2. FAMILIAR

Because humans are a bit like hobbits, we tend to get used to our routine, our place, our roles. We become familiar with our surroundings and that allows us to function from a position of peace. This is all good, unless we make familiarity an idol. When God asks us to step out and go a different direction or take on a new responsibility, our fascination with familiarity can easily drown out that still small voice which is calling us onward and outward.

3 THINGS THAT WILL LAST FOR ETERNITY

1. SOULS. SOULS ARE ETERNAL.There is an interesting verse in the book of Hebrews that highlights this truth: “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…” (Hebrews 9:27) This means that after each of us dies we don’t have a second chance. We die once, and then face judgement. This is actually common sense but its a bit sobering when taken plainly as the Scripture reads. This is why evangelism matters. Because souls and their eternal destination matter. The final book of the Bible is called Revelation. In many ways it provides some of the clearest trumpet calls for people to repent of their self-sufficiency and turn humbly to God for salvation:

Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.’ – Revelation 14:6-7

C.S. Lewis reflects on this reality in his book The Great Divorce:There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.

2. SACRIFICES: AS I THINK OF WHAT GOD HAS INTENDED FOR SACRIFICIAL LIVING, CERTAIN PEOPLE COME TO MIND AS EXAMPLES. MAYBE ON OF THE BEST IS JOHN THE BAPTIST.There was a man sent from God whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.  He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. John 1:6-8Let’s think about this metaphor of “light” for a moment. When camping one evening by the Sea. There was a full moon so I took a quiet walk on the beach to pray and think. When I came back to the crackling fire I looked up at the full moon and the light that it cast on the sea. It was so bright you didn’t even need a headlamp to walk around. I thought, “How profound that the moon does not have any light in itself. It only reflects the light of the sun.” The moon teaches us a lesson from Creation that explains perfectly what it means for us to live sacrificially as witnesses of Christ to others. Here’s what I mean…We are not in and of ourselves a source of light for the world. We merely reflect the light of Jesus Christ by believing in him and walking in his Spirit. As witnesses, we are reflectors of Christ’s light to others just like the moon reflects the light of the sun. The same is true of sacrificial living, and this is why sacrifices last. When we lay our lives down, die to ourselves, and offer ourselves as a living sacrifice we become like the moon to our dark world. It is not our work that saves anyone, we just reflect the true light. (See Romans 12:1-2) Our humble and willing sacrifices simply reflect the Good News of Christ, like the moon offering gleams of light for a ship lost at sea.

3. SERVICE: “FOR EVEN THE SON OF MAN DID NOT COME TO BE SERVED, BUT TO SERVE, AND TO GIVE HIS LIFE AS A RANSOM FOR MANY.” (MARK 10:45)

My friend who used to be the director of a Wilderness Ranch tells an amazing story of an unnamed servant who did something that changed the culture of their summer camp staff. This story illustrates exactly why Jesus said, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing…” (Matthew 6:3) When we serve quietly, without a desire to receive anything in return, then we are creating something that moth and rust cannot destroy.

1 REFLECTION QUESTIONS1 The wilderness is a trustworthy counselor. Spend some time in a remote place hiking or sitting taking in a view and consider: a. Physical comforts and familiar routines won’t last. Are there any ways that God may be challenging me that will require letting go of some physical comfort or familiar routine? How is the wilderness teaching me to let go so that I can more fully enjoy the adventure?

2 In what ways is the wilderness environment teaching you about the eternal value of Souls, Sacrifice, and Service? Pray that Jesus will awake in you the desire to want your life to be about souls, sacrifice, and service. Apart from Him we can do nothing, so pray that He might use this experience in the wilderness to solidify a new trajectory to your life to invest where moth and rust will not destroy

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Ten Common Themes Used To Organize Our Adventures

Follow the acronym, W.I.L.D.E.R.N.E.S.S. for easy memory while in the field:

WORLDVIEW

The four basic questions imbedded in one’s worldview are: 1) Where did I come from? 2) What is the meaning of life?  3) How do I determine right from wrong? 4) What happens to me after I die? (Titus 2:11-14)

INTERCESSION

Jesus retreated to the wilderness often for blessing and preparation for spiritual conflict.  Luke shows how the wilderness was a place of preparation for conflict with Satan.  Jesus also retreated to the wilderness before handling the spiritual burden of healing the multitudes.

LEADERSHIP

The sky is the limit:  We could use the week to demonstrate a Biblical understanding of how to form and carry out a vision or we could emphasize how to lead, motivate and empower others to get involved and participate in what God is doing in their midst.

DISCIPLESHIP

You may want to focus on the fruit of the Spirit, or how we are called to show mercy and pursue justice for vulnerable people in our world.  Whichever angle we take, focusing on discipleship as a learning objective is to funnel our trail talks and discussions around how we are engaging our world for the glory of God.

EVANGELISM

As followers of Jesus we want to bring the rain of the Gospel to dry and thirsty souls.  There are a myriad of ways to share the Gospel effectively with young people in the context of a wilderness journey.  For starters, write in a Gospel path through your Bible for easy reference.

RELATIONSHIPS

Our lives are connected to a network of relationships.  What should healthy family relationships look like?  What do healthy relationships look like with friends, with your church, in your local community, across cultures?  The wilderness is a laboratory for discovering God’s design for relationships.

NURTURE

Wilderness therapy in the psychological sense is largely about identity formation and trust. In orienting our lives to Christ our True North, we find that He is the Great Physician and the Rock of our salvation.  Focus on helping others sever old ties to behaviors or thinking patterns that have greatly damaged their relationship with God or others

EXPECT GREAT THINGS

Many heroes of missions got their vision from reading stories and biographies of other missionaries who had gone out before them.  William Carey, is famous for saying, “Expect great things, attempt great things!”  This learning objective focuses on how to infect others with the missionary spirit.

SPIRITUAL FORMATION

There are four main elements to our ongoing conversation with God:  1) We speak to Him,  2) We believe that He listens to us, 3) He speaks back to us, and 4) We exercise discipline to listen to Him.  Conversational prayer often helps us reboot from the spiritual paralysis that comes from habitual disobedience or disbelief.

SCENARIOS

This learning objective focuses on critical thinking, decision-making and discerning the will of God.  Sensible decision-making involves handling three types of knowledge: 1) Knowing what to do, 2) Knowing how to do it, and 3) Knowing when and why to do it.

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Why Wilderness Adventure Camping Ministry Works?

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.” – Anne Frank

Young people are yearning for a meaningful vision for their future. The world of video games, and reality TV has only deepened their starvation for experiences that cause true transformation and cast compelling vision for their ultimate purpose. Thankfully, first century Palestine was absent of Grand Theft Auto IV and Boom Blox, but in reality, it did not lack distractions and burdens that were equally concerning. There were distractions of wealth, poverty, and religions. There were weighty burdens of Pharisaical laws and bitter Roman occupation. As Jesus looked into the culture of His day He settled on a surprising strategy to engage it: He chose a group of young people to turn the world upside down, He used the wilderness as His primary classroom, and He employed adventure to produce radical commitment toward His mission.

WHY WILDERNESS ADVENTURE CAMPING IS SO EFFECTIVE

Young people need time away from distractions so they can rest their soul and learn to think clearly. Experiential learning accomplishes this through natural decision- making scenarios, and it teaches them how to avoid trivial emotional distractions while alone or within a group (Rose, 33). Simon Beames, interviewed several British kids during an adventure experience in Ghana who affirmed this reality:

Rufus felt that ‘living in a tight community where there’s no escape’ was an important aspect of the experience. He explained… ‘in the UK if you don’t like someone you can just walk away or not phone them again or stay out of their way’ …. [But in wilderness, another participant Gordo commented], ‘It’s not just about speaking to people you get on with best. Its about learning to speak with people that you want to avoid!’ …. (150)

Wilderness journeys draw out the best in young people by confronting their fears and exposing the traps of entitlement. Young people want to pursue a radical mission, and the wilderness can sever the entanglements that strangle away God’s epoch vision for their lives.

WILDERNESS CLASSROOMS AND THE FRUIT OF ADVENTURE

Jesus preferred to illustrate Kingdom truth in the context of Creation. He taught along roads, atop mountains, in fields, in boats, while resting in gardens. He used adventure to produce faith. For example, after a long and tiring day of ministry Jesus instructed His Disciples to go over to the other side of the lake for some rest:

And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?’ They became very much afraid and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?’ (Mark 4:37-41)

Their strength was tested by the treachery of a furious squall to the point they thought they were going to die. Waking up in the stern of the boat, Jesus talked to the wind commanding it to halt its fury. The waves calmed. What an eerie experience that must have been to witness a conversation between Christ and His Creation! Jesus intentionally crafted this wilderness experience to show them that although they had every reason to trust Him, they still lacked faith. Could they have learned the same lesson from a lecture hall in the Temple? Or in this case, were the classroom of the sea and the timing of a raging tempest necessary to transform their hearts? The Scriptures seem to indicate the latter to be true.

Why is wilderness adventure camping so effective? Jesus shows us that the wilderness is a place where God gets our attention. If this was the way He chose to apprentice young people, then is it not equally critical now in our increasingly urban world for young people to encounter Him through wilderness adventure? Today we must re-discover this ancient apprenticing method, which produced leaders such as Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Jacob, David, Peter, James, John, and Paul. Each of them were profoundly called and shaped by God in the wilderness.

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Why You Don’t Have to Feel Guilty for Recreating

“Sometimes the most urgent thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest” – Ashleigh Brilliant

It’s been cold and snowy where I am. Usually this time of year, I start thinking about surfing in Costa Rica, or Samoa (my friend Wayne from Line Up Surf Australia leads tours here). G.K. Chesterton was a 20th century poet who probably never surfed, based on the pictures I’ve seen of him–he was one big, jolly dude. But something that he wrote in his book Orthodoxy, describes one of the great gifts that surf culture is to the world:

It is the happy man who does the useless things; the sick man is not strong enough to be idle.

Jesus Wants to Get You Away to be Alone with Him.

Chesterton hits on one of the deep secrets of why outdoor recreation is so meaningful and transformational if coupled with a belief and awe in the God who created the mountains, waves, and skies under which we recreate. It takes courage to pause. Jesus modeled this rhythm of regular pausing. One time when he was de-briefing an intense time of ministry with his disciples, he pulled them away for a mini-retreat:

They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples. -Mark 9:30

Have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus would like to get you alone? He loves to get us all by himself so he can speak to us and minister to our specific and personal needs. Leaders especially need to be reminded to get away and recreate for the health of their souls.

Here are a few other Scripture passages which may inspire you to put down your tool belt and go spend some time alone with Christ to learn from what you see and hear in his creation:

Job 9:8
He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the wavesof the sea.
Job 38:11
‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?
Psalm 42:7
Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
Psalm 65:7
…who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations.
Psalm 88:7
Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. Selah
Psalm 89:9
You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them.
Psalm 93:3
The seas have lifted up, O LORD, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.

Don’t Feel Guilty for Recreating!

I love coaching visionary leaders in ministry, and if I may be so bold, I actually think that pausing regularly to enjoy God and all that he has made around us is one of the things that promotes longevity in ministry.

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The Best News for Leaders: Take a Break and Get Away!

It is impossible to overestimate the value of wild mountains and mountain temples as places for people to grow in, recreation grounds for soul and body. –John Muir

G.K. Chesterton was a 20th century poet probably never tried mountaineering or backcountry skiing, but he wrote something that will make anyone think again if they haven’t placed much value on recreational pursuits. He writes…

It is the happy man who does the useless things; the sick man is not strong enough to be idle.

Jesus Wants to Get You Away to be Alone with Him: This is Intentional Outdoor Recreation:

Chesterton hits on one of the deep secrets of why outdoor recreation is so transformational. Camping promotes a kind of courage that is sorely lacking in our society today. Intentional outdoor recreation is a sign that you have the courage to pause. Camping and outdoor recreation help you and I reject the cowardly idols of over work, over commitment, and over busyness. Life without margin is an indicator of a weakness, not strength.

When we fear God, we align with his design for work and regular retreat. By contrast, when we fear man, we ignore our limitations and neglect our need for rest and leisure. Chesterton alludes to a remedy to this age old problem when he writes: “It is the happy man who does the useless things; the sick man is not strong enough to be idle.”

Well as much as a 20th century poet can help confront our lack of margin; his poetic perspective is not enough to justify regular retreats as a normal pattern in life. That’s where we need to turn to Jesus.

Jesus modeled regular rhythm of retreat to balance out his heavy work-load. For example, one time when he was de-briefing an intense time of work with his disciples, he pulled them away for a mini-retreat:

They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples. -Mark 9:30

I wonder, have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus would like to get time with YOU alone? He loves to get you all by himself so he can speak to you and minister to your specific and personal needs. Leaders especially need to be reminded to get away and recreate for the health of their souls. We even see in Jesus’ pattern that regular retreats are in fact a powerful platform for creative thought and strategic planning.

Still in the Dark:

For example, one time after Jesus had an intense day of ministry in Capernaum… the next morning he awoke while it was still dark and went off to a secluded hillside to connect with the Father. When the disciples came to find him and announced that they had a plan for his life and it involved staying in Capernaum, Jesus announced, that as a result of his retreat away from the noise and expectations of the crowds, the Heavenly Father had given him some creative and strategic guidance. Then Jesus did what no one expected he should do. He left the city even though he had the whole town in the palm of his hand from the previous day of miraculous ministry. This made no sense to the disciples. This is one of the things that happens when we retreat or camp… creative thoughts and Kingdom strategies are often revealed because through the courage to pause we seek the Lord’s guidance.

From observing Jesus pattern of regular retreat, we should not feel guilty for recreating. In fact, according to Chesterton, if we don’t recreate or build some leisure into our lives, this is actually a sign of cowardice and immaturity. “It is the happy man who knows how to recreate and be idle with God from time to time.

God has used the wilderness as a special place for transformation throughout all of history. And there is no reason to believe that he has somehow changed his mind in the modern era and made wilderness experiences irrelevant to one’s faith. In fact history affirms that wilderness experiences have intrinsic value. Jesus actually carried on the Old Testament pattern of using wilderness journeys for the purpose of transformation. The Apostle Paul then picked up that same baton and sojourned into the Arabian desert for a long period of time to recalibrate his understanding of the Gospel. The Desert Fathers then followed this pattern to offer prayer and intercession for a world that had become shipwrecked. And since then monks, missionaries, and common folk like you and me have found solace and strength through times of retreat and camping, untethered from the comforts of normal life.

Need for Planning and Decision Making? Intentional Outdoor Recreation = a Remedy

Are you planning for your future and trying to discern God’s calling on your life? All of us go through seasons of decision-making. And now more than ever with all of the information, options, and events we get invited to, we need time to step away and prayerfully plan out our life and priorities. Did you know that before just about every major decision Jesus had to make, he withdrew away from the crowds to be with the Father for a time of rest, reflection, prayer? Jesus was the master of intentional outdoor recreation. Lets look at a few examples…

In Luke 4:1-2, Before Jesus started his ministry, he went off to the desert for a time of extended prayer and preparation.:
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.

2. In Luke 6:12-16, As Jesus was about to choose his inner circle of Disciples, he spent the night on a mountain praying before he chose his closest disciples to train to accomplish his mission:

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

3. In Luke 21:37, In preparation for the Last Supper Jesus would have with his disciples, before he passed the baton of leadership to them he prayerfully prepared for this moment.

Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives.

He retreated to the garden each evening in preparation for the intensity of spiritual conflict that was building up to a climactic point at the cross.

4. As Jesus Prepared to endure the Cross he went to the Garden of Gethsemane

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ Matthew 26:36-39

5. The writer of Hebrews summarizes much of the Gospel writers stories of Jesus’ pattern of regular prayer before major life decisions and events when he writes:

In the days of his flesh, he offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his piety. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience from the things which he suffered. And having been made perfect, he became to all those who obey him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 5:7-10

God Uses Wilderness Time Draws Out the Best in You

Wilderness journeys draw out the best in us by confronting our fears and exposing the traps of entitlement. Wilderness is the great leveler that prunes out the unfruitful branches of our lives and inoculates us with a deep gratefulness for even the small things. Take a sleeping bag for example. Is there anything better after a long day of hiking, as night falls and the cold winds begin to wisp through your camp, to go into your tent and slide into your warm sleeping bag for a long night’s rest? Wilderness time makes you thankful for the small things. As you thank God for the small things, your character enlarges.

Why is outdoor ministry valuable? Wilderness experiences will sever those idolatrous entanglements in your life that are strangling out God’s epoch vision for your life. Jesus recognized the need for regular retreat, leisure, and recreation. If he needed it, who are we to think that we have any less of a need? So don’t feel guilty for building margin into your life for regular retreat.

In closing, let me highlight one more epic Old Testament leader for a moment. I think most of us would acknowledge Moses as one of the best leaders of all time, right. And he spent a lot of time in the wilderness. If Moses were alive today, he would be crying out, “Let My People Go Camping.” Lets follow the lead of the patriarchs, the prophets, the disciples, and our Lord Jesus and build into our lives a regular rhythm of retreat. This is intentional outdoor recreation. Embracing your limitations will actually broaden your horizons, not shorten them. Any time you align with God’s design, reward will soon follow. This is why I believe outdoor ministry has a vital role in society today. Amen.

Reflection Questions

Are you living by priorities right now?
Do you have a good plan for your life with adequate margin for rest and recreation?
Plan a day or two of intentional recreation in the next month where you will spend several hours in solitude soaking in the beauty and listening to your Good Shepherd offering you guidance that you need.

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There are five basic outcomes I consistently see in the wilderness.

AWARENESS (see Exodus 19:3) 
The first outcome is just an awareness that God exists. Sometimes we take that for granted. Not every person is convinced that there really is a God, that he really does exist, and that he really cares about them. In the wilderness, when you’re in creation and you’re looking around at the detail, you start to ask questions about who made all of this. Where did this all come from? That’s one of the outcomes we see in the Bible consistently: people who go and wander in the wilderness become aware that God really does exist.
BELIEF (see Mark 4:35-41)
A second outcome is belief in God and belief in Jesus Christ. There are so many examples in the New Testament of the disciples being challenged in wilderness excursions with Christ. What Jesus was really after in these regular retreats, was their faith. He wanted them to put their full weight down on him. He gave them some difficult circumstances and as a result their belief deepened.
COMMUNITY (see Luke 5:1-11)
A third outcome is Biblical community. People today are so lacking in experience of true biblical community where they are loved, where they are using their gifts, and where they recognize that they are an important part of the church. The wilderness was the place where Israel, wondering around for 40 years, learned that they were special and that God had a plan for them and that each of them had an important role. People need to learn that today as well. A wilderness experience can really do that. It brings a group together and gives them a vision for their life. Recent research indicates development assets that everyone needs. One of the external assets they highlight is that people need to be given a “useful role in community.” Wilderness excursions are a prime way to provide that all-important need to people.
DISCIPLINE (see 1 Kings 19:9-13)
The fourth outcome is the idea of discipline. People typically look at discipline as something bad. They don’t want to come under authority. They don’t want to be told they shouldn’t do this or that. They often have a completely wrong view of discipline. The Bible is very clear that discipline actually leads to more freedom. When we love God, we’re willing to follow him on his terms. When we follow his design, we will need to say “no” to some things. In saying “yes” to God we actually experience more freedom and more joy in our lives. Saying “yes” to God will inevitably call us to say no to to lesser, worldly things.
The wilderness is a challenging place to go. You have to get up early. You have to do certain things you’re not normally used to doing. An outdoor leader can facilitate and help people see how discipline is actually good thing. “Hey we got up early this morning and that wasn’t very fun right? But look at what we got to do because we had the discipline to get up early.” Then ask your group, “Would you do that again if you have the chance?” And they will all likely say, “Yeah, I’m glad we got up early because this was so cool what we got to do.” Connect that to discipline by saying God loves us and his discipline is a sign of his love and it actually gives you more freedom. You don’t need to be afraid of discipline.
The Bible is very clear that discipline actually leads to more freedom.
 (see Col 1:15, Psalm 8:3-4, Ps. 33:6-8, Ps. 139:7-14, Ps. 148:7-14)
The fifth outcome is a sense of focus on Christ. When the disciples and John the Baptist spent time in the wilderness with Jesus, you really see them start to focus more clearly on who Jesus was as the Messiah, as the Savior, and as the son of God. Even Peter said, “You are son of God!” When I take people out for a few days and pull away from distractions of the city, I share God’s word with them, have adventures, and encourage them to spend quiet time with God in the silence of the wilderness. They start to have a clearer picture of who Jesus actually is. Maybe they’ve heard some things or seen some things before that they’ve connected with Jesus which actually aren’t Jesus at all.
GAINING AN ACCURATE PICTURE OF JESUS
When people are given an accurate picture Jesus Christ I really believe the natural response to him is to want to know more about him and to embrace him. There’s a great book written about hundred years ago by Francis Clark that talks about this. I revised it to be used as a Bible study and training resource for leaders. In The Personality of Jesus,: How to Introduce People to Jesus Christ and Help them Grow in their Faith, we see that people’s normal response to Jesus is that they want to know him. The problem is usually that we’re not giving young people an accurate picture of Jesus. That’s the real problem. I really believe the wilderness context is so clarifying and so pure in many ways. It’s pristine because it’s God-created. There’s really nothing that’s tainting it. That environment can be really helpful for people to see Jesus accurately for who he is. The natural response is, “I want to know more.”
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Take Time With Family With No Technology

In today’s world, technology plays a major role in how families communicate with each other. With a variety of options to choose from Facebook, Skype, Twitter, email and text messages, families can readily keep in touch.

However, as technology has taken over a lot of our communications, studies have shown that one-on-one human interaction has been negatively impacted. So, how can we keep live conversations a part of our repertoire?

Here are some tips to truly stay connected with your family:

Create opportunities for talking. Whether it’s going out for ice cream, taking a drive or weekend hike, look for ways to interact together in a setting to allow for real conversations.

Insist on family meals. Make it a point to bring everyone around the dinner table at least three times each week. This is a great way to ensure you have a captive audience. Try not to use this time to lecture your kids—there are plenty of other opportunities to do that—instead, use this time to relax and reconnect with each other after a busy day.

Highs and lows. Go around the room and ask each member of your family to share the best part of their day and the worst part of their day.

Institute a no technology rule. Laptops, cell phones and tablets are all great devices that keep us moving throughout the day, but at home, it’s OK to turn these things off. An interesting idea is to have everyone turn in their cell phones by 6 p.m. and they can’t have it back until 8 a.m. the following morning.

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Take Time To Plan Your Next Adventure Vacation

As the holiday season has evaporated, and we settle in to the cloudy days of winter we start to crave for our next adventure. Perhaps a sunny beach on the coast of Florida or Mountain excursion in Montana. This is the time of year we sit and plan our vacation time throughout the rest of the year.

This last year I took a kayak trip down the Delaware for a week. During the day we would explore and see the beautiful mountains and wildlife that exist along the river. By night we would camp, tell stories and reflect upon our life. A lot of our trip was spent in the rain, which has its own beauty and itself. On our third day, we came across an area where islands had been built up by flooding. The only thing on these islands were tall grasses. We sat and watched the herons and eagles as the would go fishing. We sat for a few hours observing God‘s majesty before moving on, but not before reflecting on all that is good and pure in nature. The specific spot made a lasting impression on my mind and was the highlight of my trip.

We all get caught up in our suburban vacations. But sometimes it is good to go back to basics and observe something that man can’t build. I would encourage you to consider spending sometime in nature for your vacation this year.

For those that still want the comforts of home but experience nature, some of our packages include cabins or non-primitive accommodations. If you are looking for a hunting or fishing adventure, please consider that each state requires a license to participate in these sports. Some state licenses are limited and go really quickly earlier in the year, especially for non-residents.

If you want to hear more about our outdoor ventures please subscribe to our newsletter.

If you like to get back to basics this year let us help you plan your outdoor adventure.

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Take Time To Give Thanks

As the temperature starts to drop as fast as the leaves do, it is important to reflect on the bounty that God has given us this year. November is the time of harvest. As we look deep into our hearts, we can see the goodness in our lives from what we have sewn. Take this and rejoice for the Lord is good to us.

5 ways to stay joyful with His fruits:

  1. Offer praise and thanksgiving for all that you have. Be grateful and reflect on what he has provided you, instead of reflecting on that in which you desire.
  2. Have quiet time with the Lord. Express to him what troubles you each and everyday. Release this anxiety and give your burdens to the Lord.
  3. Ask for Forgiveness. Forgiveness from our sins lightens our load on our heart. Allow the holy spirit to carry you and guide you toward the light.
  4. Walk out in the world with confidence. Connect with people to help bare witness by the light that shines in you. Use your actions to do good works, through your own work, play and recreation.
  5. Experience the natural world that God has given you. Walk in nature during all seasons and explore the slender that God created.

Do the activities each and every day and you will find that the Lord will lift you us and you will be glad.