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Archive for February, 2018

I rock climbed at Crowder’s Mountain for the first time today. My partner said it is “also known as” (aka) ‘Crowded Mountain’. It was that. We had to park on private property where a donation was requested about a 1/4 mile away. Most of the people on the approach seemed to be there for hiking and viewing rather than climbing. Though we saw many climbers, we did not have to change what climb we wanted to do or wait once. I had heard some voices at the top of the climbing area. It turns out that the 5.10a climb I was doing had a lip at the top, almost like a banister for the flat spot on top. When I popped up over the top at least 20 young people were lounging on the ground and rocks. One young woman was sitting on the anchors. I said, “Excuse me.” She moved and said, “I’m sorry.” The whole group was staring at me silently, so I said, “Oh, is there an easier way up?” Most laughed, but one limited English-language lady began to explain and point to where the trail came up. I listened politely, shook my head approvingly, and walked away.

It was foggy when we first arrived and the rock was not totally dry. The rock is very different from where I usually climb in the High Country. There were alternating layers of metamorphic rock: hard, iron rich layers and chossy, mica-rich, weak layers. Odd shaped nubs, jugs, and cavities were everywhere at the interface of the two layers. We climbed 30 foot 5.7 and 5.8 for warm-up on the back side of Finger Wall, then a 5.8 and 5.9 (though we both agreed it was much easier) on the back of David’s Castle. Then we climbed a sustained 5.10a on the Practice Wall, followed by an attempt at Burn Crack (5.10c) It lived up to its name, overhung and intense for the first half. Both of us are coming off of injury and neither of us finished it. I was pleased to have done so well after 5 weeks off of climbing from a knee injury. The ability to begin again is a blessing from God.

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The Finger (Wall) Crack

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Standing in the Gap

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Transition from chimneying to layback crack

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A pleasant view

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With my partner at the top

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The Piedmont and the Charlotte skyline

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Pastor preached on Proverbs 27:17 this morning: “Iron sharpens iron,
so one man sharpens another.” He spoke about the need, purpose, and process of believers helping each other grow spiritually. I enjoy extending metaphors, which requires care not to come up with analogies not there or elsewhere delineated in Scripture or life. The usefulness of such an enterprise may be to help those who hear to further understand the importance of the concept portrayed by the metaphor.

Why does the Scripture say iron sharpens iron? That has long bothered me, because anyone who has sharpened a knife or tool knows that you use a whetstone, grinding stone, or ceramic sharpening tool which are harder than the tool. ¬†And such tools existed. I Samuel 13:20 records the desperation for Israel when “all Israel went down to the Philistines, each to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, and his hoe.” These events were more than 300 years before Solomon wrote the proverb. For that matter, why shouldn’t I use modern technology, the diamond sharpening stone?

The proverb is a metaphor for fellowship and discipleship within the congregation of believers. God doesn’t give us any other choice. We must sharpen each other. And we are not back at the castle. We are in the battle, so the grinding wheel is not an option. We go to our brother, cross swords in a mutually beneficial way and come away sharpened for more battle. Fellowship is the non-optional, God-ordained means for being honed to battle readiness.

Those who want to exclude themselves because of “hypocrites in the church” or “I can worship in nature” just fine or “all I need is Jesus” are dull or more likely twisted and unbalanced weapons. The problem is everybody wants to be sharp but nobody wants to be sharpened. When you are sharpening a blade, one swipe of the finger near the edge will reveal why so few want to be sharpened. Your finger will come up with a dark gray dust from the sharpening process. Sharpening removes material. Bad material and excess material must be removed from your life. It can be painful and humbling.

For some it’s rust from lack of use or exposure to corroding influences that needs to be removed and is hindering the cutting edge. For others, it is good material, all be it not according to faith or God’s direction, that needs to be removed to reduce the fat edge of dullness.

When two materials of equal hardness are used to do the sharpening, material is removed from both edges. Discipling and being discipled means involvement in another person’s life with all of the mutual messiness and need for honing away spiritual dullness.

And some of us are more of a mess than others. I own a double bladed axe. The way that I came into ownership of this axe goes back to the beginning of my wood heating days. I borrowed this axe (first mistake) to split some of the first wood I cut. While attempting to split some very twisted forks, I got several wedges stuck in a piece. I used the axe to attempt to get the wedges out (second mistake). I bought the axe, that is, I replaced the friend’s axe and kept the broken one. The strike took out a half-moon divot in the blade about the size of your thumbnail. In years since I have used the good blade to split and the broken blade when risking to remove wedges or cut roots near metal or concrete. No other sizable divots have been removed but the the edge has been bludgeoned a few times. I have tried for years to sharpen that divot out of the blade. For the longest time my efforts were to no avail, but now, years later, that blade is reasonably sharp while still having somewhat of a dent in the edge. It took years and that blade is possibly an inch shorter than the other one. That blade is me. The difference is that I have multiple divots. God has had to work for years to grind away the dullness of my spirit due to sinful habits and difficulties of life. I still show the scars and I’m not the sharpest tool in the box, but neither am I who I was. And much of that has been because God has used brothers and sisters in my life to remove rust here and dullness there. I doubt seriously that I will be admired as a shining blade of perfection, but I do pursue a cutting edge pursuit of God in the battle of life. And for that I give Him all of the praise.

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Science is a great tool for exploring the world. It saddens me that it has so much been commandeered for purposes contrary to the truth of God’s Word. Many of the processes discovered and described by scientists accurately align with observable reality, but particularly on the subject of time scales, their tomes do not ring true to what is verifiably true from Scripture or nature. I choose to believe what the Bible says over the faith system based on time, chance, matter, and energy. I think that it takes greater faith to worship these inanimate gods. So, I like to discuss weathering, for instance, but I reject uniformitarian time scales based on my faith and the field ‘evidence’ tendered (see 4th paragraph of “Four Singularities”; 3rd paragraph of “Amazing, Credible, Scientific Point of View”; “Many Grand Canyons”).

While teaching Earth Science, we discuss weathering at length. As with any study, teachers and students categorize subject matter. This frequently separates ideas that would naturally be together if organized in another way. For instance, is weathering a subject to be initiated and discussed in geology, hydrology, meteorology, or oceanography? It should be discussed in all of these areas of study, including astronomy (evidence of erosion on Mars, for example) and ecology (interaction biotic and abiotic factors in soil formation and fertility, for example). Where it is initiated is a bit harder. Do you begin during discussion of the rock cycle, or when you explain formation of soils, or when the main agent, water, is acting upon rock? I have chosen to mention it during oceanography, hydrology, and minerals and rocks units, but devote a separate unit to weathering and erosion by fleshing out the details of “WETS”: weathering, erosion, transportation, and sedimentation, and also soil formation. I repeat these concepts many times during the day and from semester to semester. Along with the hazards of plate movements, I guess the ocean part of change got to me, resulting in the following poetic outworking:

Wave upon wave upon the coast breaks
Battering and bludgeoning the shore
Each grain of sand that it takes
Builds a beach or a bar or seafloor

Longshore currents carry sediments
Outsourced from the rivers and headlands
Man-made wall impediments
To the flow of the nourishing sands

In deltas and mangrove swamps land grows
Protected from tidal surge and wind
Barrier isles resist flows
From storm surges and tsunamis that rend

Estuaries were once rivers
Where now the brackish waters are mixed
Fjords formed where one shivers
By ice scouring hard rock once fixed

Island arcs form in convergent zones
Some are explosive in the extreme
Subducting ocean plate groans
Hydrothermal vents with strange life team

From hot spots and boundaries they grow
Deep under water, volcanic mounts
Up from the mantle below
Convective cells produce magma founts

Some seamounts are flat on top
Belying once shallower sea wave
Blue hole a flooded cave drop
Once air filled, now a watery grave

Mid-ocean ridges build ocean crust
Plates transform by seismic shear stress
Others earthquake megathrust
Oh, so much crustal strain and duress

So much building up and tearing down
Reveal beautiful changing landforms
Hard to see, so much is drown
But wear, change, and movement are the norms

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