Mount Trust – Learning to Lean


A few summers ago the kids and I hiked Mohawk Lakes in the Rockies, these were glacier lakes above timberline and supposed to be beautiful! After pushing our red mini van up a four-wheel drive trail we grabbed our backpacks and continued our adventure. At a fork in the trail the four of us stood there for a few moments trying to determine which route to take. With the expertise of one of my kids, I won’t tell you which one to protect his identity, we headed right, however after a few miles without a glimpse of a lake or anyone else, we had this ominous feeling we were lost. Finally a hiker from the opposite direction appeared. When we inquired about how far to the lake he had a puzzled look on his face. Obviously we should have gone left, ugh a wrong turn, my legs shouted “ouch!”

As we climb Mount Trust the writer of Proverbs reminds us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” (Prov. 3:5). The Hebrew word for lean means support or trust. It could be translated “don’t trust yourself to get you up this mountain.” This is a good reminder that the journey up Mount Trust is unpredictable and even mysterious at times. Just when you are certain you figured this hike out, even think you can do it on your own, you approach a fork in the road, encounter a painful ascent, or realize you are lost. It is sobering to lose the right trail and need to retrace your steps back down the mountain to try again.

The words “lean not …” remind me of the refrain from an old familiar hymn:

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;

           leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms…

The song brought me back to the truth that the only way up Mount Trust is to be embraced by the everlasting arms of the Father. This is how Jesus climbed; He did so with the Father’s love surrounding Him and daily walking in His steps (John 5:19). 

And notice how the last verse ends:

         What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the

everlasting arms? I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,

leaning on the everlasting arms…

On this daily climb I’m learning that my own understanding will never lead me to what the Father has for me on the Mount. Moment by moment I need to be leaning on the everlasting arms of my Father by relying on Jesus and His Spirit to show me how to follow in His footsteps. Daily I need to refer to the Trail Map, The Word, which shows me how to lean. And I know I am truly leaning on Him instead of my own understanding when I engulfed by the blessed peace He brings. Ah yes, this is an indication that He is with me on the climb.

Please join me in this New Year as we Learn to Lean on His Everlasting Arms!


Mount Trust – On His Shoulders

When I was living in Escondido, California I would sneak out of the church office put on my hiking shoes and climb up a small mountain that overlooked the city, perch myself on a rock and spend time with the Lord. I would always come home refreshed from the hike and from the Holy Spirit. My two little kids at the time could tell that dad was hiking again and would say “daddy when can we go!” I knew their little legs wouldn’t be able to make it far before I would have to carry them so I put it off until a beautiful day at the end of December when their grandpa from Michigan was visiting and was up for the challenge to hike with two small kids. It wasn’t long into the hike where grandpa and dad hoisted TJ and Sarah on our backs to give there tired legs a rest. The kids loved it as they got a free ride on our shoulders with an excellent view; grandpa and dad needless to say needed a long nap that afternoon.

As we journey up Mount Trust we have discussed the call to “trust” and the one we are called to put our “trust in” on this hike we acknowledge the “LORD,” who is the Great I Am. But how do we do it? Proverbs 3:5 goes on to tell us how… “with all your heart.” The best way to describe what “with all your heart” means is the picture above with a child resting on the shoulders of his or her father making the climb together. My kids would never complete the hike on their own, they needed to get on our backs and hang on for the ride. They trusted us with their lives, with their “hearts.” Young kids have a natural tendency to trust, somehow that seems to fade, as one gets older. Maybe that is why Jesus said to his disciples; “I tell you the truth unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 18:3.

In my journey up Mount Trust I’m trying to learn to be a child again, to allow my Father to hoist me up on His shoulders and say, “you have all of my heart, my life is completely in your hands. “ This is hard to do, as an adult isn’t it? I find myself saying at times “let me down, I want to be in control of the hike, I want to choose the trail, I don’t like your way.” Yet, Jesus says the only way into the Kingdom, up the Mountain is to be like “little children,” to be a helpless babe. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus in a few days isn’t this what the Creator of the World did? He completely trusted His Father, emptied himself of heaven’s glory and came into the world as a dependent baby boy. And throughout His entire 33 years he gave His Father all of His heart climaxing on the cross when he said, “Father into your hands I commit my spirit,” Lk. 23:46. He completely trusted His Father to hoist him on His shoulders and carry him through death into an everlasting Kingdom where He would reign forever.

This Christmas give the Father the gift of “all your heart.” Become a child again and pray these powerful words of Jesus from your heart, “Father into your hands I commit my spirit” and then be prepared for a great Kingdom adventure as you ride on His shoulders.

Mount Trust – The Guide

Last week I shared about our youthful guides who led us on a wrong trail at the beginning of the hike into the heart of the Rockies. Good thing it was early on and the “old guys” still had enough air in our lungs to laugh it off. We continued to trust these guys, not that we had any other choices, yet we believed they had the ability to lead us to our destination and later bring us safely back down the mountain. Trust demands relinquished control; it is placing our lives in the hands of someone or something else.

To survive the challenging journey up Mount Trust involves trust. Proverbs 3:5 directs us to The Guide we are called to trust in this climb, He is “The LORD…” the Jewish word “Yahweh.” This is a powerful name used in Israel’s history to highlight a God who keeps His promises, the Great I AM, who guided His people out of Egypt with His mighty hand and led them miraculously to the Promise Land. This is The Name that finds its fullness in the coming of the Son of God, Jesus, who also claimed himself as the “I AM,” John 8:58. Jesus is The Guide chosen by the Father to lead us up into the mountain of His glorious presence.

Jesus has all the qualifications to take us up Mount Trust; He traveled it before us. This Guide knows the green pastures, the quiet waters, the right paths, the valley of suffering, and the banqueting table. This Guide completely trusted The Father as He traveled up that mountain to the cross, to give his life for our sins. The only way you and I can conquer our epic trek up the Mount is by trusting The Guide, trusting even when we may wonder if He took us on a wrong turn. I will be honest; at times I think The Guide may need some extra help, my help. I think an easier, more scenic trail would be a much better route than the one he has chosen for me. My way would be more of a stroll around a scenic lake, and definitely would not include a 40-pound backpack or any other “cross to bear.” Yet, even this morning in my reading, The Guide said; “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” And then he added this, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it,” Mt. 16:24-25.

Again, I’m reminded that the text does not say, “Trust in Tim…” Tim’s way would never bring me to the place the Father has prepared for me. Tim’s way would only lead to a loss of my soul. A dear friend Barb emailed me the following in response to last week’s blog. She gave me permission to share it; her words are a fitting way to conclude.

When I read about the 45-50 lb. backpacks, I can’t help but think of our journey up Mount Trust. The weight carried…weights of life, grief etc. We continue up the Mountain trusting…Fixing our eyes on Jesus….knowing He will meet us and give Life and rest, eternally. Amen!!!! 

May you TRUST the GREAT I AM, our GUIDE, on this day-to-day journey!




Mount Trust – The Invitation to Trust


As a pastor I have received many invitations, invitations to graduations, weddings, anniversaries, and conferences. However, a few years back I got an invitation I just couldn’t pass up. It was an invitation to join others pastors who wanted to experience God away from the distractions of every day life and this would be accomplished by spending a few days hiking into the wilderness of the Colorado Rockies. I jumped at the chance and invited my friend and co-pastor Bryan to sign up as well!

Climbing Mount Trust always starts with an invitation to follow God to a place you have never been before; it is a summons to trust. With Proverbs 3:5-6 as our guide up this mountain, pay attention to the very first word “Trust…” As we study God’s Word and the people who climbed this mountain, notice they were invited to step out of the known and trust God to lead them to the right path. Remember father Abraham, who at the age of 75 was asked to leave his home and relatives and follow God to a land that was foreign to him. What 75-year-old wants to pick up and leave a comfortable life and journey 1500 miles to start all over again? Abraham’s journey started with an invitation of radical trust!

As we enter the Christmas season, recall that the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God,” Luke 1:35. Some pretty unusual words for a virgin teenage girl to comprehend don’t you think? Yet, this is what we see over and over again in God’s Word, and what about you and me? Are we willing to accept the invitation to follow God the Father in a radical trust relationship?

The senior citizen Abraham and the teen Mary did not have all the details presented to them, they were lacking clarity to what exactly the future held, yet they clung to the promise that God the Father would lead them as a shepherd leads his sheep to green pastures. As a result of their invitation to trust one step at a time, Abraham makes his way up the mountain to become the “father of all who believe,” Romans 4:11, and Mary’s gigantic yes to the hike birthed the Savior of the World. These ordinary individuals display vivid pictures of trust and are a testimony to us!

Everyday when the alarm goes off we are invited to trust the Father with our lives. To say, “yes” to the hike even though we haven’t been given all the details. Each morning He invites us to come on a journey up Mount Trust with Him. What is the Father inviting you to trust Him with at this time in your life? Take some time this week and ask the Father to show you where He’s calling you to climb Mount Trust, where He is saying to you “follow me.”

Okay, for those of you wondering how the invitation to the Rocky Mountains ended up. When our team of pastors arrived at the trailhead with our 45-50 pound backpacks with every thing we needed for the next five days, we were surprised to find that our guides were college students! This was an interesting scenario of trust as most pastors are used to being the ones leading, however none of us “more experienced ones” had any idea where we were supposed to go! Our “young” guides only took us on one wrong turn and eventually we ended up at a tranquil spot where we could set up our camp. The quiet days of sunrises, sunsets, singing and studying God’s Word alone and with the group was a wonderful time of experiencing God in new and fresh ways. However, my friend Bryan experienced a much deeper level of trust, God’s protection, and the answered prayers of his wife for safety, as a mountain lion also liked the spot where Bryan was having his quiet time.



Mount Trust – The Father’s Call


I have a favorite T-shirt with the words from the famous explorer John Muir that reads, The Mountains are calling and I must go!” I love the mountains because of their majestic beauty no matter what season of the year. To me the mountains are always full of mystery, always a new place’s to explore and full of surprises from sudden storms to stunning wildlife. I can’t remember a time where I have not left my wanderings in the mountains without being revived in the depths of my spirit.

One time I put together a series on famous mountains in the Bible. In this study I discovered that a lot of amazing things took place on mountains. Perhaps you remember Abraham’s hike of faith up Mount Moriah with his only son Isaac following God’s word to sacrifice this son of promise and God’s divine intervention with a ram in the bush. What about Moses on Mount Sinai where he received the 10 commandments and saw the backside of God’s glory and heard His voice.

One of my favorite mountain stories is Elijah on Mount Carmel where he faces off with 450 prophets of Baal and proves the power of the God of Israel; He alone is the LORD God of the nations. The greatest of all mountain scenes is when Jesus hiked up Mount Moriah, the same mountain Abraham did with his son, this time God the Father sends his beloved Son up the mountain with a cross on His back. That mountain changed everything bringing the Father’s love and forgiveness to sinners through His beloved Son.

If you read up on these mountain scenes you will notice each of these hikes demanded a radical trust in Father God. As a result the Father met each climber on these mountains with His glorious life transforming power. Over this last year I have heard the Father calling me to Mount Trust, a journey of radical trust beyond anything I had every experienced before. I’m still hiking and learning as I venture up this mysterious, scary, and yet exhilarating mountain. I’d like to invite you to join me on this climb for the next few weeks. Our guide up Mount Trust will be a text I memorized as a young boy and you may have as well:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

These 28 words have jumped off the page and into my heart these last several months and have helped me climb through the clouds of uncertainty to new vistas of the Father’s faithfulness and love. I pray the Holy Spirit will make this text alive for you as well in our journey up Mount Trust.