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Pastor Mark divides the journey to higher ground into 3 phases: the preparation; the process; and the panorama. Filled with inspiring Scripture, humor and stories of others' lives, he gives readers 5 rules to prepare them for the climb; 5 strategies they need to successfully ascend the mountain; and 6 ways to be right with God once they reach the summit.
Atteberry helps readers travel to a place where many people never go-where many people are afraid to go-but where priceless, eternal treasures are waiting to be discovered. From their first hesitant steps to their final push for the summit, they'll be challenged like never before and blessed like they never imagined.
Part One: The Preparation
I am resolved no longer to linger
Charmed by the worldÆs delight
Things that are higher
Things that are nobler
These have allured my sight
Palmer Hartsough and James H. Fillmore,
ôI Am Resolved,ö 1896
Lift Up Your Eyes
ôAs a mountain climber, IÆve always felt more drawn to the top than driven from the bottom.ö
Why do people climb?
If youÆve ever seen a rock climber hanging by his fingers and toes from a two-hundred-foot cliff, youÆve surely asked that question. The legendary mountaineer, George Mallory, who disappeared without a trace on Mt. Everest in 1924 (only to be found frozen on the mountain in 1999), once was asked why he was so determined to stand atop the worldÆs highest peak. ôBecause itÆs there,ö he said.
But we all know there had to be more to it than that. Perhaps Mallory was in no mood to talk about his motivation at that moment, or maybe he found words inadequate to express it. Either way, most people believe there was a more substantive reason that he devoted his life to something so dangerous and demanding. I believe the motivations that drive people to climb are not as numerous or as complicated as many people think. Let me illustrate by telling you about an old tomcat that used to hang out in our neighborhood.
He could climb a tree as easily as I can climb a flight of stairs, but I only saw olÆ Tom scamper up the oak in our front yard on two occasions. One was when an ill-tempered dog from down the street seemed determined to separate TomÆs head from the rest of his body. The other was when he spotted his lunch (a bird) sitting on a limb. In the former situation, Tom was being driven up the tree. In the latter, he was being drawn up the tree. And so it is that all climbing boils down to these two motivations.
WeÆre either driven or weÆre drawn.
WeÆre either trying to escape something or weÆre trying to embrace something.
When it comes to the mountain of the Lord, some people would say that it doesnÆt matter why you climb, just so you climb. That sounds good, and it may be true that any motivation is better than no motivation. But clearly, itÆs better to be drawn than driven.
People who come running to the mountain of the Lord with problems nipping at their heels often disappear as soon as the problems do, just as olÆ Tom would come slinking down the tree as soon as the neighborÆs ill-tempered dog had wandered off down the street. But people who are drawn to the mountain of the Lord because of the unique treasures it has to offer rarely give up their quest. For them, the climbing experience often becomes a lifelong passion as each new discovery holds the promise of something even more wonderful just over the next ridge.
In Scripture, Caleb is a striking example of a drawn climber. When he was forty, Moses promised to give him the hill country of Hebron (Num. 14:24). Unfortunately, the nationÆs sin resulted in a forty-year detour through the wilderness, and all of CalebÆs dreams had to be put on hold. But he never forgot MosesÆ promise. For forty-five years he lived with his heart set on those hills, longing to climb and conquer. Finally, at the age of eighty-five and with the wilderness behind him, Caleb could contain his passion no longer. He approached his friend, Joshua, and stated his case:
Now, as you can see, the Lord has kept me alive and well as He promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promiseùeven while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. So IÆm asking you to give me the hill country that the Lord promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the Anakites living there in great, walled cities. But if the Lord is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the Lord said. (Josh. 14:10û 12, authorÆs emphasis)
You can sense the emotion in CalebÆs words. He was being drawn to those hills so powerfully that not even his advanced age or the dreaded Anakites could dampen his enthusiasm. ItÆs no surprise, then, that Joshua granted his request. Nor is it a surprise that Caleb fully accomplished his dream. Joshua 14:14 says it all: ôHebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb.ö
My friend, if you have come to the mountain of the Lord seeking an avenue of escape from the problems that are hounding you, IÆm glad. Know that you have made a good choice. The Scriptures teach that there is no greater refuge you could seek (Ps. 61:1û3). But know as well that the road that stretches upward before you is more than just a way out. ItÆs a way inùa way into the life youÆve always wanted.
Lift up your eyes and catch a glimpse of just a few of the treasures that await you.
Treasure # 1: People
The first thing youÆll notice about the mountain of the Lord is that itÆs humming with activity. Unlike the panoramic photos youÆve seen of Mt. Everest, which look so lonely and desolate, the mountain of the Lord actually is quite busy. Millions of people are climbing already, and countless newcomers are joining them every day.
YouÆll also notice that those who have chosen to climb the mountain of the Lord fit no particular stereotype. Every shape, size, age, nationality and personality type will be represented. Some will be experienced spiritual mountaineers, and others will be novices taking their first hesitant steps in the faith. Some will have been driven to the mountain of the Lord by devils, and others will have been drawn by dreams. But the one thing theyÆll share is an aptitude for altitude, a desire to leave the valley behind.
Of course, some people will want to climb solo, but itÆs clear that our Lord intends for us to climb in groups. The Bible contains countless directives regarding the importance of counsel, encouragement, sharing and teamwork. And Jesus emphatically confirmed the importance of climbing together when he chose not one person, but twelve people, to be his disciples and carry on his work.
IÆll dig deeper into this thought in chapter 3, but for now let me just say that the relationships IÆve built with my fellow climbers on the mountain of the Lord are some of my most cherished treasures. The people I have met on the slopes are some of the best people in the world. TheyÆre not perfect by any means, but they are different in many ways from those who are content to live in the valley. They are generally more pleasant, more positive, more compassionate, more trustworthy and more dependable. I couldnÆt begin to count the number of times IÆve been helped along and brought closer to the summit by a fellow climber who, at that moment, was just a little stronger or more courageous than I was. If I had been climbing alone, I never would have made it this far.
Treasure # 2: Perspective
Have you ever noticed how even a slight change in altitude can make a dramatic change in the way things look? Try watching a football game from ground level. It looks like mass chaos. But if you climb up a few dozen rows in the stadium, suddenly the various aspects of the game become apparent. You can see blocking schemes and pass patterns develop. You can see holes open (and close), and infractions occur. You can understand why the ball carrier dashes to the right or left, and why the official tosses his yellow hanky. Well, sometimes you can understand why the official tosses his yellow hanky!
Life is like a football game in that itÆs better viewed from higher elevations. As you gain altitude on the mountain of the Lord, you begin to see things differently.
Michael Andriano is an outstanding young preacher who started and is leading the highly successful River Run Christian Church in Orlando. I first met Mike in 1990 when he and his wife, Linda, walked into Poinciana Christian Church, cold turkey. They were as sweet as they could be, but very worldly and clueless about the ways of God. However, they were honestly seeking the truth, and it soon became my privilege to baptize them into Christ.
Just before he was baptized, Mike told me that he intended to keep enjoying an occasional beer or glass of wine, as had been his practice for years. He squared up his shoulders and said, ôI believe itÆs okay as long as I donÆt get drunk.ö I didnÆt argue. I simply said what I always say: ôThatÆs fine. Just promise me youÆll pray about it and keep an open mind. The Lord may lead you to a different conclusion.ö
Less than three months later, Mike confessed to me that he had quit drinking altogether. I couldnÆt help smiling and asked him why. He said, ôI donÆt know. Things just look different to me now.ö The reason things looked different was because heÆd been climbing for a while. HeÆd gained some altitude, and with it came a fresh new perspective.
Dear reader, let me make you this promise: YouÆre going to like the way life looks from the mountain. All of your old problems still will be there in plain sight, but from a higher elevation theyÆll look smaller and more manageable. Plusùand this is so importantùfrom a higher elevation youÆll be able to see beyond your problems. YouÆll be able to see whatÆs often called ôthe big picture.ö ItÆs the way life looks when you get the panoramic view, when you take everything into consideration, not just the problem at hand. Paul, who reached great heights on the mountain of the Lord, was looking at the big picture when he said, ôWhat we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will give us laterö (Rom. 8:18).
If you are a person who always has struggled with a dark outlook on life, you of all people should be excited about making this climb. You should be longing for a fresh point of view.
Treasure # 3: Potential
Mountain climbing has become increasingly popular in recent years. Increasing numbers of people from all walks of life are tackling the great peaks of the world, including many more women and senior citizens. Even a surprising number of disabled people are climbing, such as Tom Whittaker, who lost his right foot to a car accident in 1979. On May 27, 1998, he astounded the world by becoming the first amputee to stand on the summit of Mt. Everest.
When asked why they climb, many of these people give the same answer: ôI want to find out what IÆm made of.ö
Indeed, thereÆs nothing like a great mountain to show you what youÆre made of. And if thatÆs true of Everest, K2 or Denali, itÆs even truer of the mountain of the Lord. Every step up the mountain of the Lord will demand something of you. Every aspect of your character will be put to the test at various stages. Of course, there will be great victories and moments of euphoria, but there also will be many hardships and unexpected challenges that will test your endurance, your self-discipline and, ultimately, your faith.
This undoubtedly is why so many people start climbing the mountain of the Lord, but donÆt stick with it. They see the heart-stopping beauty of the mountain in the distance and hear uplifting stories of how other climbers have been blessed, so they gather their gear and join an expedition. But in no time, theyÆre retracing their steps, chucking their gear as they go. They simply had no idea it was going to be so hard.
I know that if there were stairsùor better yet, an elevatorùbuilt into the side of Mt. Everest, a lot more people would be standing on her summit. But it would be a hollow conquest, for only those accomplishments that cost us something have value. Any climb that fails to stretch you is a waste of time.
Be advised as you approach the mountain of the Lord that you will be stretched if you choose to climb, probably in ways you never dreamed. But in the stretching, as painful as it may be at times, will come the realization of your potential, which, for a lot of people, is long overdue. Maybe youÆre a person who has been a valley dweller for too many years, always knowing in your heart that you could (and should) push yourself and reach for something more. If so, then let this book be your challenge to get up and get with it. I like what George Eliot said: ôItÆs never too late to become what you might have been.ö
Treasure # 4: Peace
The fact that youÆre still reading this book tells me one of two things. Either youÆre my mother, or youÆre very interested in climbing the mountain of the Lord. If the latter is the case, thereÆs a simple truth you need to face. Once the notion of climbing has settled in your heart, youÆll never find peace until you go for it.
In the early 1990s, Poinciana Christian Church had a small sign by the side of the road about eight miles north of our building location. The sign wasnÆt fancy by any means. It sported no flashing lights, bright colors or clever sayings.
It simply informed motorists that PCC was eight miles straight ahead.
At times, I wondered if the sign did us any good at all. Nobody ever mentioned it, and as the area around it kept growing and changing, it seemed to become less and less conspicuous. If it had been costing us anything significant in terms of money or manpower for upkeep, I probably would have been in favor of taking it down. But that would have been a mistake. Little did I know that the Lord was using that sign in a mighty way.
Every day a young woman in her mid-twenties drove past that sign on her way home from work. She was extremely intelligent, a graduate of the University of Florida, and had an excellent job in research and development for a large company. She made good money, lived in a beautiful home, was married to a handsome, talented guy and drove a new red sports car. By the worldÆs standards, she had everything. But she wasnÆt happy. Behind the pasted-on smiles were some deep, unresolved issues from her childhood and a rapidly deteriorating marriage.
Every day when she drove past that sign, her eyes seemed to be drawn to it. She never heard an audible voice, yet the Lord seemed to say to her, ôYouÆll never be happy until you get right with Me.ö As the days and weeks passed, the sign began to haunt her, and at times she even steeled herself to look the other way when she drove by.
Finally, when she couldnÆt stand it anymore, she came to our church. She walked in, found a seat in the back row next to the exit, sat through the service and sprinted for the parking lot as soon as the last amen was uttered. As she got into her car, she said aloud, ôThere, God, I did it. I went to church. Now are you satisfied?ö
For the next three months, she stayed away from church, but drove by the sign every day. It sparked nagging memories of the worship service she had attended. SheÆd expected it to be dull, but it wasnÆt. SheÆd planned to put it out of her mind as soon as she walked out the door, but she couldnÆt. And with every day that passed, the thought of going backùthis time for keepsùgrew stronger and stronger. Finally, she gave in and returned.
That was over thirteen years ago. Today she and her husband (yes, the same one) are happy climbers, having found on the mountain of the Lord all the treasures they never were going to find in the valley in which theyÆd been living. When I think about their story, IÆm reminded again of what an amazing God we serveùa God who can use a simple road sign to turn somebodyÆs life upside down. But even more than that, He is a God who loves so deeply that He relentlessly woos and pursues the lost. Understand this, my friend: If the notion to climb has settled in your heart, you might as well go for it. ItÆs the only way youÆre ever going to find peace.
T T T
As we conclude this first leg of our journey, I hope your chin is tilted upward and that you are seeing the mountain of the Lord in a whole new light. I hope you can see that itÆs more than just an escape route from the problems of life. I hope you can see that it offers unspeakable treasures to those who commit themselves to its slopes. And I hope, above all, that you can hear the Lord telling youùperhaps through something as simple as a road signùthat itÆs time to climb!
¬2004. All rights reserved. Reprinted from The Climb of Your Life: Finding Your Home on the Mountain of the Lord by Mark Atteberry. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.
|Part 1||The Preparation|
|1||Lift Up Your Eyes||3|
|2||Gird Up Your Mind||15|
|3||Join Up with an Expedition||27|
|4||Gather Up Your Gear||41|
|Part 2||The Process|
|5||Clean Up Your Life||55|
|6||Firm Up Your Commitment||71|
|7||Build Up Your Integrity||85|
|Part 3||The Panorama|
|8||Soak Up Your Blessings||101|
|9||Offer Up Your Worship||117|
|Summit Up: Questions for Personal Reflection or Group Discussion||131|
Posted January 4, 2013
No text was provided for this review.
Posted November 15, 2008
No text was provided for this review.