NEVERS INK CAVE – ALABAMA
“O Lord, how many are Your works! In wisdom You have made
them all; the earth is full of Your possessions.”
I pray you had a week where you clearly saw that Jesus is not only Lord, but your Master. Why do we have so much trouble with our identity in Christ? When I received Christ under a tree in my backyard, I lost my identity as a white Irishman. My identity is now “IN” Christ. “……I no longer live, Christ lives in me…..” (Gal 2:20). I think a lot of Christians have trouble with that, they still identify with their ethnicity and race. If so, they are not thinking Biblically. I am so grateful to be a slave to my perfect Master, King Jesus! Does it get any better than that? Wow!
Well I have to confess, I didn’t get around to adding to my last Friday letter. I have some pretty good excuses, but does anyone really want to hear them? Of course not! So let’s see what we have this week.
I had no intention of writing about caves until my son John said he was heading to Jackson County Alabama to practice the “single-rope technique” (SRT) of descending/ascending 16 stories into the Neversink Pit. Some of you may recall that when John lived in So. Lake Tahoe, he was part of the Search and Rescue (SAR) team in that area. They were called in for lost hikers, skiers, assisted during those devastating fires, etc. So now that he and his family live in Knoxville, TN, he once again qualified to be part of the Tennessee SAR (all volunteer). So they have to be trained to find and rescue people in the heavily wooded areas and even caves.
Here are a few cave facts:
- The United States had 10x as many caves as the next nearest country. Here are the Top 4:
o USA – 45,000 Caves
o Ukraine – 4000 Caves
o Australia – 4000 Caves
o Mexico – 2500 Caves
- Deepest explored cave in the world: Veryovkina Cave in Avkhazia, Georgia (close to the border to Russia). An expedition broke the record by descending 7,257 feet.
- Longest known cave system: Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. It has over 400 miles of explored areas.
- Largest cave chamber: The Big Room of Carlsbad Caverns. “The visitors’ sign originally said the room was at least 260 million years old, but it was changed in 1988 to read 7–10 million years, later 2 million years, and now it’s gone.” Some experts now believe the cave was formed rapidly by “rising” sulfuric acid.
I found so much information about caves it was mind-boggling. Experts believe that only about 1% have been discovered – 99% unexplored to date! Some of the photos of the known caves around the world are stunning. There are living organisms in these caves that defy explanation. As I pondered all these facts, the verse above not only hit me, but this verse came to mind: All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:3)
Photos: My son John at the entrance of the Neversink Cave and his team at the bottom
Since we are talking about caves, if you haven’t seen this movie, it’s pretty amazing what these cave water rescue experts accomplished. As many of know, it’s a true story. It’s not a Christian movie, just an extraordinary story of very brave men.
Thirteen Lives | Prime Video PG13 Watch the Official Trailer (YouTube 2.5 minutes)
Included With Amazon Prime (2hrs 29mins)
ZION BOOT CAMP
If I could humbly ask you to continue to pray for our conference to be held Dec 8-10, it would be a blessing indeed. Thank you!
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise;
Be thou my inheritance, now and always.
Striving to “Finish Well”
John 15:5 (NASB)
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Hudson Taylor said: “The branch of the vine does not worry, and toil, and rush here to seek for sunshine, and there to find rain. No; it rests in union and communion with the vine; and at the right time, and in the right way, is the right fruit found on it. Let us so abide in the Lord Jesus.”
What It Means to Abide in Christ – Red Book Day 336
The purpose of these devotionals is to help you think Biblically
Solomon said, “As a man thinks, so is he”
Of Minor Importance – C.H. Spurgeon (revised by Alistair Begg)
“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” (Titus 3:9)
Men: I thought this short devotional was worth pondering.
If interested, you can read the devotional on the TruthForLife.org Website
Men: Below is a portion of a letter from John MacArthur. I thought it was worth inserting several of his paragraphs, because they are so true. I too, see so little contentment these days. How many guys do you know that just can’t sit still? Many are already talking about the next hypothetical disaster scenario. I know you are familiar with the verse from Psalm 48:10 “Be still and know that I am God” (KJV) and the NASB has “Cease striving……” On the contrary, most guys I know have “ants in their pants” and striving for whatever (maybe the next shocking news story on the internet). How many can grab a moment to be like my buddy in Missouri taking photos of butterflies in his backyard (See Monarch Butterfly – Revisited). Check out what John MacArthur wrote. Note: If you want his complete letter, let me know………
You don’t hear much about contentment these days. In fact, it has almost become a foreign concept in our society.
On one hand, most people in the world are obsessed with earthly success as measured by life circumstances and material things. They are always clawing for a better job, higher social status, or more wealth. Once they achieve or acquire whatever they were craving, they immediately begin chasing something more or better. For them, contentment is always out of reach, a goal they will spend the rest of their lives pursuing. The concept of contentment in the here and now barely registers.
While some Christians do wrestle with contentment when it comes to earthly possessions, I suspect that in these times, the most profound challenge to our contentment is much subtler. Over the past few years, I’ve stated many times in my letters to the Grace to You family that we live in very dark days. While by definition, Christians are citizens of an eternal kingdom that transcends the ups and downs of our temporal circumstances, we still walk in an increasingly evil, hostile, perverse, anti-God world.
When we see widespread deception, cultural decline, moral decay, and spiritual defections, the temptation is to let our righteous abhorrence of-and anger over-sin turn into bitterness toward sinners, and resentment and fear over our difficult circumstances. Because we’ve lived through and remember better times, we become discontent with the time and location in which God has sovereignly placed us. Unless we guard our hearts and minds, we can even start to view such discontentment as a virtue to be excused or even cultivated.
Don’t get me wrong. We aren’t called to a life of passive resignation or morbid fatalism. We are salt and light with significant God-given roles and responsibilities in the world around us. We want to see Christ magnified on earth. We defend and proclaim divine truth, preach the gospel, confront the culture, and stand up for what is pure, lovely, and good. By God’s power we also take on sin in our own lives-there’s no room in the Christian life for complacency or sloth.
But undergirding all that grieves us this side of heaven should be a heart at rest. A deep, abiding contentment in God and His good and perfect timing and provision. The hymnwriter stated well the mindset we need to cultivate in these challenging times:
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
Years ago I was sent “The One Year Book of Hymns” by the Chuck Swindoll Ministry. I would copy pages and have my older Boy Scouts read the story behind the hymns on our backpacking trips and then we would learn to sing them together. Today I still get comments from the boys (now men and most married with kids) saying how memorable those hymns were. When MacArthur placed those profound words from an old hymn, I knew right away it was one of them from Boy Scout days. Here is the page from that book of hymns:
THIS IS MY FATHER’S WORLD
Below is a link to one of many renditions if you wish to have a “Be Still” moment……..
This Is My Father’s World (Official Lyric Video) – Keith & Kristyn Getty (YouTube 4.5 mins)
MONARCH BUTTERFLY – Revisited
Several weeks back I had a short video on the Monarch Butterfly. A good buddy of mine in Missouri sent me a photo of a Monarch he took in his garden. It was such a great photo, I wanted to post it. If you haven’t watched the video, I encourage you to do so……
Watch this recently uploaded video now… (YouTube 7 minutes)
Or watch this shorter video of 4 years ago (YouTube 2 1/2 minutes)
Both are excellent !
Men: This was excellent. To read this teaching, click the link at the bottom.
THE WISDOM OF JAMES
We encourage you to be on watch for opportunities to be about God’s business as we enter the closing days of 2023. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians makes it clear that God prepared in advance occasions in which each follower of Jesus will have opportunities to do good works (for His glory). God has set “Divine appointments” for each of us. As you ponder this reality, take a moment to consider these words from Ephesians 2:8-10: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
Though we are saved by grace alone, in faith alone, and in Christ alone, works are evidence of an individual believer’s transformation. This month’s blog comes from our dear brother in Christ, Rodney Dill. In the attached writing he shares with us the wisdom of James, the “show-me” pastor, as he unpacks the importance of works. Concerning faith and works, James poses these questions: “What use is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14) James makes it clear that a faith that does not work, does not work (“is dead” 2:17), pointing out the spiritual poverty of a verbal profession by itself.
Read the blog here: November R12.2 Blog
“You do not gather to worship so that you can feel good, or sense that you are close to God. All such emotion must remain ancillary to the objective of acknowledging the goodness and greatness of God. You can never consider yourself in worship to God until you have first presented your life as a living sacrifice, humbled, broken, and available for whatever He desires. Without this, all outward show will be as odious to Him as was the sacrifice of Israel in the days of Isaiah.”
Quote from, Thoughts From the Dairy of a Desperate Man