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Practical Atheism

By Joel Bates

I have a confession to make.  I’m a practical atheist. . .sometimes.  I’m rather certain you also are a practical atheist. . .sometimes.  This concept hit home to me the other day as I was standing on the precipice of a 70’ cliff face, secured to it by nothing more than a length of 1” webbing and my white knuckle grip on the nearest “chicken head.”  My climbing partner and I had wanted to set up a top-roped situation, but there were no good, natural anchors nearby.  So, I grabbed a few trusty, mechanical protection pieces called “cams.”  The idea was to lower myself over the edge on tether and place the cams as three temporary anchors in a 2-inch horizontal crack so that we could attach webbing and rope to them and climb. 

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Posted on October 25, 2017
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Resisting A Rest

By Leah Fuller

One day this summer, I decided to take eight giddy teenagers from our local youth group on a tubing trip down the river.  I had never floated down the river in a tube and didn’t know quite what to expect, so when the day came, I gingerly settled into my tube in the cold spring-fed river and cast off.  Once we grew accustomed to the cold water, play became the priority for the trip.  Noisy splashing, dunking, flipping, and lots of laughter ensued.  And why not?  The river is one of the most fun and relaxing places one can be on a hot summer day.  After the playfulness subsided, we lolled in our tubes, slowly drifting wherever the current took us.  I may have even napped a bit while drifting down a slow, flat section. 

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Posted on October 25, 2017
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From Test to Testimony

By Joel Bates

“Is it possible to accomplish the task I have given you?”  I asked this question midway through a recent group initiative. I paused the initiative to find out if the members of the group really believed they could succeed.  Responses were mixed.  Two members felt that it was impossible while the others believed it was possible.  Seizing a teachable moment in this timely dilemma, I launched into a discussion about faith and belief, even asking if it is okay to doubt.  Each student agreed that the encouragement of another’s optimism was a key to a hopeful outcome, but that the doubt of some hurt their progress.  They saw the need to uphold each other in the challenge.

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Posted on October 17, 2017
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The Discomfort of Surrender

By Leah Fuller

Instructors spend a lot of time standing at the bottom of rock climbs with their necks craned upward and eyes squinting into the sun as they coach teens and adults in climbing techniques.  The goal is always to help the climber get a little farther than he thought was possible in order to show him he can do hard things.  Conquering a rock face is a real life example of what it means to persevere, trust God, and overcome.  It is rewarding as an instructor to see a participant make the connection and begin a transformation that can only come from God.

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Posted on September 14, 2017
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Injury or Invitation?

By Leah Fuller

Leading a trip late last year, my co-instructor and I decided to enjoy a quick dip in the river.  We floated around the bend of a gravel bar, taunting the travelers on shore and encouraging them to join us in the delightfully refreshing, cool water.  As we neared the end of the bend, we began to swim to shore, and that’s when it happened.  I rolled over, and my knee slammed into a rock protruding from the river bottom.  As pain radiated through my leg, I dragged myself to shore, trying not to draw attention to the injury.  My co-leader cast a worried glance my way as I stood and gingerly walked toward the canoes.  I whispered a prayer to God that whatever had happened internally to my knee would not interfere with the trip.  A great deal of prayer and the Lord’s grace made it possible for me to complete that trip.

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Posted on August 15, 2017
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Are We There Yet?

By Leah Fuller

As a child, I eagerly looked forward to our family vacations each summer.  After packing all supplies needed for two weeks into our Coleman pop-up camper and Chevy station wagon, the six of us would drive off to some of the most beautiful places one can go.  Usually our destinations were west in the mountains of Colorado or a national park such as Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon. We would drive for hours across the flatlands of Kansas and eastern Colorado, eagerly anticipating even a glimpse of the mountains on the horizon.  As all parents of young children know too well, the four of us would take turns singing a chorus of questions. “Are we there yet? How much longer? When are we going to get there?” Most of the time, we received a promise to stop soon, but some of the time, our questions were met with silence.  Dads, moms, youth ministers, teachers, and wilderness instructors have discovered the value of leaving some questions unanswered. 

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Posted on July 14, 2017
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