Saturday, July 14, 2007

Outdo One Another


Reading the other day a familiar passage in a new translation (ESV) and came across this section in Romans chapter 12: 9Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

I found out that the word "Outdo" has a definition of: to go before and show the way, to go before and lead, to go before as a leader. Our English use of the word suggests a competitive spirit. The New Testament use of the word presents to us the idea that in showing honor (value) for another, we must each take the lead.

Most of us enjoy it when a person is honored for an achievement that is earned. We congratulate the graduate for his academic achievement. We applaud the sports hero for feats of athletic excellence. We celebrate a birthday with enthusiasm and delight.

Perhaps in showing honor, we should consider that while we enjoy it when we are honored or when someone honors another, it takes work to honor someone. I believe Paul is exhorting believers to work hard at declaring how valuable each other is. Look at the paragraph in which this exhortation is found. It is full of imperatives that direct us to avtively involve ourselves in the lives of others. Paul lived in a day in which believers were persecuted for their faith. In that first century culture, if Christians did not look out for one another, no one else would. Not much has changed from that day until now. The nature of our society demands that believers work hard at taking the lead in honoring one another.

Some examples:

1. Take the lead in honoring a pastor, teacher or other Christian worker. Most of these people do not receive recognition for the value they provide to your life. Consider what your life would be like without their input, their care or their sacrifice. Determine how that person understands honor and take the lead in honoring. Some respond to public displays, some to private, some to personal. Some respond to gifts, some to cards and notes and some to shared experiences "let's go fishing", etc. In all of the activity though, be sure to include at least a paragraph of description that outlines the value you place on that person's life.

2. Take the lead in honoring a child. I have tried to make it a point to take my children out for breakfast on their birthday, if they are anywhere near. During that time I try to make it clear that they are people of value and that I consider them honorable.

3. Take the lead in honoring a spouse. Most of us enjoy it when our spouse honors us. Take practical steps to honor, show value, display worth. Recently I was amazed at how honored my wife felt when I took it upon myself to do some things for her that she needed to have done for a while. Checking those things off of the to-do list made her feel that I was paying attention to her and seeking to show her value by investing my time and skill in doing something she could not do for herself.

4. As a practical extension, believers must be people who are always looking for people to honor. According to Paul's exhortation, we should become a people who are taking the lead in our church, our community, our neighborhood, our school, our Scout troop and our nation in showing honor to those to whom honor is due.

Remember that when Paul declared the necessity of showing honor to the king in Romans 13, this would turn out to be the king that would eventually take his life. In that case, Paul would have refered to the honor that the king displayed as being the one whom God had placed in control in order to accomplish for God what only he could do.

Such a perspective will change our homes, our churches, our schools and all relationships when applied. Take the lead in showing honor.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Serene Lake


July, 2007

Took in another great trail on July 3, 2007 to Serene Lake. Sign says 3.5 miles to lake. We added a mile hiking to Bridalveil Falls - a trip well worth the steps - so a total of 8 miles for the day. About 3.5 hours to the lake, with plenty of stops and pictures at the falls (4.5 miles to the lake via the falls for those who think we hike at the speed of slugs) and about 2 hours back.
This time Jonathan was with me. Found out that he is able to provide running commentary either in song or random thoughts as we hiked. A welcome change from hiking with just my own thoughts. He was also a great help in clearing the trail.

The hike started out easy on an old logging road abandoned years ago. This took us up to the falls area. After that the switchbacks began and we gained most of our 2000' elevation gain for the trip.

Lots of berries along the way. The salmon berry is ripe now. Raspberries and blackberries will wait until later.

Bridalveil falls was in great form. Still lots of snow melt coming out of the lake.

Lots of steps built into the hillside on the trail. Over 600 of these steps. Great for the calves. I was wondering as I hiked the step section from the falls on, who it was that was the first man up here and why did he come? Also, I was hoping that they were able to get the materials in by heli, or someone would have a lot of packing to do.

This lake is in a bowl. It is what remains of a volcano after it blew its top many years ago. I do not know if God created this volcano with apparant age and put the lake there on the day of creation or if he allowed it to be formed when the mountain blew its top some time since. There are many of these lakes in the Cascade mountains. And they are beautiful.

Great views along the way of the Cascade Mountains.

What is it about the hike? The conquest of the trail? The attaining of a goal? The exertion and challenge of something we do not normally do? The solitude - with God and without the normal distractions. The opportunity to be physically challenged, spiritually recharged and personally driven. Driven to accomplish, to explore, to go beyond personal limits. And to see the handiwork of God in creation. The fingers of the mountain ranges are like the frosting on meringue, where God lifted his palate knife and left ridges with jagged tops.
The trail is a great place to contemplate the Sovereignty of God and the finite nature of man. Get on a high ridge and look down on dwellings, cars, roads, bridges and all of the works of man and see that from just the top of the ridge they all look so small and insignificant. Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Job 11:7Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?
Psalm 104 31May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works, 32who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke! 33I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. 34May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.
These are the thoughts that go along with us on the trail. Oh yes, there are many other thoughts running through the mind also, but it is a special time of worship, confession, prayer, planning . . . kind of like taking a walk with God in the garden. I remember something about a man who did that a long time ago - only he did not have any confession issues to discuss with God - and he did not have the thorns and briars we fuss with. Of course, he did not live in the state of Washington either. But when Adam sinned, the change in his relationship with God must have been his greatest loss. That friend with whom he fellowshipped daily was gone. By the power of the hew birth and the indwelling Spirit of God, the relentless pursuer of our souls, we are able to recapture a small bit of that intimacy. One day we will have fellowship like we never knew it on earth.
Come back for another chapter in the hikes of the summer of 2007, i.e. worship experiences.