The Strategy Of Discouragement

The Strategy Of Discouragement 

Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.
–Job 13:15

If you are a Christian, Satan’s first strategy to destroy your family, your faith, and your future is to discourage you from worshiping God. You and I are bit players in an eternal drama that began many years ago when Satan, who was God’s chief of staff, chose to rebel against the Creator. Watching this drama play out is an unseen audience of angels and demons. And in Job, we get a glimpse behind the scenes of this drama. Job 1:1 says, “There was man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Then God directed Satan’s attention to this main character on the stage named Job. Verse 8 says, “The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.’” Satan was not about to let God be proud of His creation, so Satan said, in essence, “Of course he worships You. Look at all the things You have done for him! But you let me have a few rounds with him and I can turn him against you.” So God granted Satan limited permission to attack Job, and for the next two chapters we see Satan’s relentless attacks against him.

One day Job was sitting on the ash heap of his incinerated possessions, his dead children, his broken health, and Job’s wife came to him and said, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” (2:9). That was Satan’s objective: to send so many tragedies into Job’s life that he would conclude worshiping God is not worthwhile. But after Satan had hit Job as hard as he could, destroying his possessions, killing his children, taking away his health, Job cried out, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (13:15). I believe at that moment the heavenly audience gasped in amazement that God could command that kind of allegiance.

Job played his part well here on earth. But now Job has exited the stage, and it is your time and my time. The question remains: “Is God really worthy of our worship?” Job’s story tells us Satan has limited control over this world. He is able to use natural disasters, financial reversals, health problems, and relationship disruptions to turn you away from God and to discredit the reputation of God before the entire universe. However, Satan’s power is limited. He is still under God’s control, but God has allowed Satan to have limited access to our lives. Why? Because untested faith is really no faith at all. For Job’s faith to be sure, it had to go through the crucible of trials, and it is the same way in your life. God uses trials to strengthen us, but also to prove that we are really His followers. Right now Satan may be bombarding you with relentless attacks. Perhaps he is attacking your sense of well-being. Perhaps he is attacking your family. Perhaps he is attacking your livelihood. He is doing everything he can to discourage you from worshiping God. But God is saying to you, as He said to Job, “Trust Me. I have a plan that I am working out in your life right now, even though you cannot see what that plan is.”

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Blueprint For Your Destruction” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

Walk With Jesus

I’ve decided to dedicate my artwork to the ultimate creator – the Lord, Jesus Christ. He is responsible for all things and creates beauty everywhere – He is nature’s true artist. I’m simply here to capture these fleeting moments to share them with as many people as possible to spread the word of God. Nothing is more important than your salvation in Heaven, as all of us were created by Him. We are all God’s children, made in His likeness, who sent his only Son Jesus to die for our sins. If we can share this message with one person and they become saved, my mission is a resounding success! By showcasing my artwork paired with insightful Biblical verses, I hope to share the message of the Lord and help my brothers and sisters learn more about our Savior, Jesus Christ.

MATTHEW 28:19
Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Shasta

Wow is all you can say when you view the big bulge in the Earths crust caused by Mount Shasta. Driving from Sacramento you can see the tip from at least 150 miles away. As you get closer it grandeur doesn’t diminish. There’s some really outstanding views to behold and the trail/area that’s most impressive is Castle Lake/Heart Lake. Unbeknownst to most, if you climb the ridge to the top you get gorgeous backside views of Castle Crags. There’s so much to explore here and the views seem endless. Grabbed some really good pics too!

Spirituality of Nature

“Well, I went hiking. And we did these services on the rim of the Grand Canyon. And my friends and I drove to Utah to see Zion and Bryce Canyon. All these incredible places touched my spirit in a way I’ve never felt before. I did some really difficult hikes. I ran out of water when it was really hot. My shoes fell apart and I hiked across the canyon barefoot. I prayed all of those times and for the first time I really felt like someone was listening. I stopped feeling God inside the church. Or with other people. Or really anywhere except when I was out hiking or moving through a landscape. It was like seeing God with my very own eyes instead of closing them and imagining him. I felt like Eve must have when she first opened her eyes and saw the beauty of the garden.”

From “Thirst : 2600 Miles To Home” comes this great paragraph that must make every adventurer recognize the spirituality the author is describing. It certainly resonates with me.

California Wild Flowers

Coming from Ontario and Illinois we don’t get to see amazing spectacles like the wildflowers in California. This Spring is my first wild flower bonanza and although they didnt disappoint I know it can look nicer when it’s much more wet. Unfortunately this Winter, Cali has been suffering from drought. In fact, February didnt get a single drop of rain which is unprecedented. Even so, the blooms sprouted and filled the valleys with various shades of color. The photographs pictured are from Table Mountain Ecological Reserve, Judge David trail, the Wildflower patch off Bear Valley Road, and finally Smittle Creek by Lake Berryessa

All are gorgeous in their own right! This Spring however, due to very low rainfall and snow the waterfalls at Table were very lackluster. From previous photographs it’s obvious they can look majestic. I’ll be back next Spring!

Judge Davis was a huge surprise. The open expansive views on top were amazing. I bet this spot is gorgeous for sunrise. I’ll definitely be planning a trip here soon for that.

Smittle Creek was gorgeous! I was here 3 weeks prior and there were some flowers however a couple days ago blew me away. Flowers everywhere! Mostly lupine.

https://wildlife.ca.gov/Lands/Places-to-Visit/North-Table-Mountain-ER

The Dream Trip

It’s not often we get chances in life to do the things we really want to do in life. How many times have you sat in your office pondering a better life, an outlet of some source, something you have always dreamed of wanting to accomplish or do? If you could have one wish, what would that be? For me, like most of you I’m speculating, is at least a million dollars! Let’s be honest, it makes everything much easier and practical. Of course money doesn’t buy happiness, but when you live a simple life in pursuit of something you love, money doesn’t matter so to speak. But I live in the real World, and bills need to get paid. Although it’s romantic thinking of living under the sky for months on out, not knowing where the next meal is coming from would worry me. I digress.

I had the chance of a lifetime – a complete life change. I was living in Canada for 8 years and aside from the costliness of living there, it was much better than living in Illinois. At least in Ontario there’s topography changes, several types of ecosystems, and interesting places to visit. However after some time it was getting pretty dull – especially considering the Winter hibernation. Sitting inside for 6 months without being able to camp which pretty much means not being able to truly get out and experience nature, began gnawing away at my existence. I knew I needed a lifestyle change, badly.

So I decided to leave. I wanted to move back to the US, somewhere warm and somewhere close to mountains. I’ve already lived so many years in the Midwest where it’s too flat. I needed something to help me wander and explore every weekend. This type of lifestyle is the one I seek. I don’t need anything else – give me a camera, backpack with camping gear, and a mountain ridge, and I’m in heaven. And thus began the journey of a lifetime. I’ve always dreamed of road tripping out West. The above map is where we drove, 30,000 km later.

There are so many amazing stories to tell. The journey was incredible. As the weeks go by you’ll see me update with more images from the trip. But if I had to choose a few places that were my favorite, I’d say Alberta, Utah, and California (where I currently live). It’s rare realizing not just one dream but another simultaneously, and I can’t lucky stars every time I’m able to explore the ocean, mountains, forests, and deserts. Dreams really do come true.

Smoky Mountains – Mount Le Conte Update

Lucky me.

The weekend before Christmas the roads were closed going into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNL) due to ice and snow. On top of that the government shut down. I arrived in the parking lot late Friday night and camped inside my car to see what would happen with the gates. I planned several days of adventures throughout the park before getting together with family in Nashville. Well due to above problems my plans completely fell apart. I kept reading online that the road would never open again until the government reopened. So here I was, sitting at Dunkin Donuts exhausted from driving – I also said a few expletives as I careened my car away from the park and to Nashville. I figured the gates wouldn’t be opening soon and I thought I wouldn’t be going to the park this year. Which really sucked!

Fast forward to Christmas Day. I’m perusing webcams around the World (I love looking at various spots to see weather conditions etc) and I click the GSMNP webcam. And lo and behold, there are cars on the road! I jumped with glee. At first I couldn’t believe my sight. Then I saw people walking around – actual human beings at the top by Newfound Gap. Immediately I knew I was going the next day.

Boxing Day – hop in the Volt and take off. Get to the park around 9:30AM, pop 2 extra strength advil, and begin the hike. What a hike it was! Gorgeous weather graced us hikers that day – probably around 14°C in the sun and the sun was out all day. The hike was pretty long 24km and 1km vertical and was rated Hard on AllTrails however I thought it was super easy. Maybe I was much more prepared than normal.

It was a glorious hike that anyone living within 5 hours should attempt. The views along the entire trail are stunning. My favorite however was Clifftops. Got an amazing photograph there as the sun set. What ana amazing journey and so much fun. Then I walked down the mountain with cheer as I listened to The Carpenters Christmas album, whistling to the birds and animals “Silver Bells”.

Lucky me!

Smoky Mountains : A Christmas Story

I got myself an early Christmas gift today! A backcountry epic in the Smoky Mountains. According to the weather report, it’s going to snow the night before which means all those trees will look like Christmas trees…how appropriate. But its going to be cold, bitterly cold. But as they say no pain, no gain. I’ll be prepared…and the shelter helps up top. Apparently the Alum Cave trail to the top of Mt. LeConte is amazing and according to some the best trail in the Southeast. Super excited! Pics and review to come.

Killarney – The Crack – Winter

Had an amazing weekend at Killarney PP. The weather was phenomenal. Although air temps were around 3C, when the sun hit your skin it felt amazingly warm and refreshing. My buddy Roberto and I hiked up to The Crack viewpoint and waited for the sunset. It started getting a little chilly at the top, but there was zero wind and it was so peaceful up there. Luckily for us the sunset produced amazing colors on the clouds. A perfect weekend!

Vistaprint – Business Cards

My business cards came in today and I was a little nervous with excitement. I needed new ones because I changed my website to wordpress (because its free yet still looks great). Obviously hoping they turned out well, I quickly looked at the image and was wowed at how nice they look! Then I turned it over to view the lettering and my heart sank. I thought I spent a good amount of time double checking my personal info (and theres only 4 lines lol) but of course there was a mistake. I replaced a period where the @ symbol is for my website. Oops. Thinking I’d have to pay extra for new cards had me sweating. I quickly called Vistaprint to let them know of my stupid error and made them feel bad of my plight and before I knew it they were correcting the mistake and ordering me new cards for free! Now that’s customer service guys! I’d highly recommend Vistaprint. The cards looks sick too.