Meeting God Upon the Rock

From one of the 2014 Summiteers:

Yosemite Summit was an incredible experience that I pray I’ll be able to attend again.  It truly was a place to experience our Creator like never before.  Put aside all the pressures and stresses of ministry and life and connect with the Father.  I’ve walked away from Yosemite Summit with a different view of myself, my family, and my ministry.

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My highlight was on the first day at Turtleback Dome. There was just something so moving about being able to see Tunnel View without all the crowds.  I can’t even really explain it, but as I sat on that enormous rock and had tears falling down my cheeks, I met God in a way that I feel that I haven’t in a long time. Powerful. Often the best times to hear from God is when everything around you is quiet and you just bask in His creation.

– Pat, 2014

 

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Back from Yosemite Summit 2014

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A full report with highlight video will be coming soon (I’ve got some catching up to do from being “unplugged” for a week) – but I wanted to at least let you all know we got back, share a few pictures and give you a free wallpaper for your computer!

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We had a fantastic week – walking with God and enjoying some amazing fellowship. About a week before the Summit a friend sent me the following facebook message and hit the nail on the head as to WHY myself and a small group of other men drop everything and go on this Summit each year. Here is what they sent me, written by Tony Evans:

In Exodus 34:23-24, we read that three times a year all the males in Israel were to go on a retreat before the Lord who ruled over them. In the Old Testament, the phrase “Lord your God” means sovereign Lord. Three times a year, all of the men were to go to a certain location, and in so doing, acknowledge the sovereign rule of God in their lives. Now, before we move past that too quickly, let’s look at what that might have done to those left behind.

Three times a year all of the males left their land and homes. From a military and defense perspective, that is unthinkable. From a commerce and agricultural perspective, that is unthinkable. All the men are gone and there are only women and children left to fend for themselves? That doesn’t sound like a very good national strategy.

But that is where the second verse in this passage comes in. God says that while you are away seeking Me and honoring Me under My authority, men, do not worry. He says that He will see to it that no one will bother your land, houses, or anyone left behind. We read, “… no man shall covet your land when you go up . . . to appear before the Lord your God.”

In other words, God is saying that if you will simply align yourself under My authority, then I’ve got it. I’ll take care of the rest. I have you covered. But in order for God to cover you, men, you are going to have to humble yourself under His authority. You are going to have to align your thoughts, actions, decisions, and leadership under the overarching viewpoint and authority of God.

For an entire week, five men joined me for this very purpose. If you are a man looking at the Yosemite Summit and thinking, “I can’t get away like that.” Consider how the Israelite men felt when God asked them to do this three times a year. Every man on this Summit reports how it is a sacrifice to do this, but they always find it more than worth the time invested in their walk with God.

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Let me challenge any man in ministry to prayerfully consider blocking off May 17-21, 2015 on your calendar right now and start praying about whether you might be able to join me next year at Yosemite Summit.

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We end every Summit at the Yosemite Chapel, a fully functional church in the heart of Yosemite Valley. As we wrapped up this year’s Summit we marveled at how God had provided for us. At times miraculously throughout the week. Thank you for your prayers as we invested this time in our relationship with God, our wives and children – and as a result, our ministries.

This year we got to see some incredible cloud formations – you’ll see more in the highlight video and report to come, but for now, here is a FREE wallpaper you can put on your computer as a reminder to praying about Yosemite Summit:

Click Image to download high resolution version.

Click Image to download high resolution version.

Download: YS14wallpaper-HalfDomeClouds.jpg (3.2 MB)

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PRAY for 2014’s Yosemite Summiteers

Here is this year’s Yosemite Summit Prayer Poster:

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Click to Download Full Size PDF

This year Dave, Brian, Patrick, Skipper and Jeff will be joining me for the 7th annual Yosemite Summit UNconference for men in ministry. Whether you know us personally or not, we’d all appreciate if you would download this PDF Prayer Poster and post it somewhere you’ll see it and pray for us as we prepare to go, and while we are on this sabbatical retreat.

What can you pray for?

  • Safety as we enjoy hiking around Yosemite National Park
  • Mental Release from our “jobs” back hom
  • Ability to focus on the reason we are there
  • Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit while we Walk with God on the Summit
  • An Openness to Listen to what God wants to say to us while we are there
  • No distractions mentally, emotionally or spiritually
  • That we would all get along and form Christ-like friendships.
  • Whether God might want YOU to come to Yosemite Summit in 2015!

If you have been considering Yosemite Summit, but it tends to fill up before you get a chance to register, MARK YOUR CALENDAR NOW for May 17-21, 2015. The sooner you block out those dates, the start to plan around them, the more likely it will be that you will be able to join me next year! I’m already praying for you.

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It’s Time to UNPLUG and Reconnect to What Matters

You just have to see this in person!
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Have you ever wanted to UNPLUG from the hectic busy pace of ministry life? That is the entire point of Yosemite Summit. It is a week where you are unplugged in every sense of the word. No computer, no e-mail, no phone calls, no work, no deadlines, no ’emergencies’, no pressure. Better than a day off spent catching up on personal things – it is a complete break for the sake of complete rest and renewal.

I was once told by a very wise mentor, “Karl, you need to stop being a human doing, and learn to become a human being.”

Reflection

That is what Yosemite Summit is all about. It is an annual cessation of activity. Too often we confuse busyness with what God is truly seeking from us. Not that we aren’t busy doing good things! But we get so busy doing these good things, that our relationship with God can grow distant, and soon God is wondering, why or who we are truly busy for?

Stopping, completely, once a year is an opportunity to recalibrate. It is a time for reflection and renewal. It is not a time of evaluating ministry goals and seeking a new “ministry vision” from God! It is a time of setting all that down and walking away from it.

Perspective

Why? God did not save us to gain a worker. He can manage quite fine without us. (Something to consider when you are working so hard – God doesn’t need you!) He saved us that we might enter into a relationship with Him and get to know Him. If we are so busy working that we aren’t getting to know Him – than the working isn’t working. It is actually counter-productive to what God’s true aim is.

We are busy “making Him known,” but we forget the first half – “To know Christ, and to make Him known.” If we forget our relationship in the pursuit of the second half, we are then working to reproduce something that isn’t what God wants. No wonder many non-believers have no interest in becoming a Christian! They see a lot of busy-bodies, instead of disciples of Christ, men and women who walk with God.

To be in awe of God again…

So once a year I stop all the activity and simply walk with God for a week doing nothing else but enjoying Him. And I invite a small group to join me. It changes me and helps me continue that walk when I get back to my God-given work.

Will you join me this May? Only three spots remain.

Solitude

Take some time and browse through the blog on YosemiteSummit.org – you’ll discover inspiration and the answers you have about this unique event.

I’m already praying for you… I just don’t know who you are yet.

Learn More:
ABOUT | LOCATION | SCHEDULE | COST | BRING | REGISTER | WHY | VIDEOS | BLOG

PS: If you need this Summit and can’t afford it, please let me know.

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New Year’s Resolution: Register for Yosemite Summit!

Hey Men! Looking for the best New Year’s Resolution you can make in 2014? Register for Yosemite Summit.

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Yosemite Summit is the refreshing break from ministry you’ve been needing for longer than you realize. Ministry has a way of draining the life out of men – we do do do. Getting away from work, responsibilities and all forms of electronic communication has a way of refreshing that is hard to describe.

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It’s called the “UNconference” for a reason. There are no workshops, no resources, and barely a schedule. I’ve even had guys struggle with the fact that I can’t answer questions like, “What time will we eat?” or “What time will we get back to the cabin.” The answer is just, “when we find a nice spot to stop” or “when we get there.” Yosemite Summit is an experience in learning to “be” instead of constantly “doing.” It is a time when leaders get to stop leading and just become participants in an event they don’t have to plan or clean up afterward.

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I invite you to explore this site, as there is a lot of information here about the Summit. From the annual reports linked at the top, annual highlight videos, as well as many blog posts about the retreat that will tell you alot, many from the perspective of guys who have come.

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It may just be the most refreshing thing you do in 2014. Only five guys can come, so don’t hesitate to sign up!

 

 

 

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2013 Summit Report

Yosemite Summit 2013 Report

Off the Beaten Path.

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Why do I take a group of men in ministry to Yosemite National Park every year for a week of hiking, relaxing, fellowship and unplugging from the normal busy routine of life? Aren’t there other beautiful places? Sure. But not like Yosemite. And especially off the beaten path.

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Off the Beaten Path in McGurk Meadow

We get off the beaten path in two ways. First of all, we get off the beaten path of our normal daily and weekly routines. We don’t even follow much of a schedule on the Summit, which is at times hard for guys to adapt to. We leave when we are ready, eat when we find a spot, and return to the lodge when the hike is done. There is no schedule. It is refreshingly different than the normal path of life. Secondly, while Yosemite National Park is visited by millions of tourists a year, the vast majority of them are what I call “Vally Dwellers,” they never leave the comfort and beauty of the famous Yosemite Valley.

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It’s hard to fault them, it is a place that presidents have visited going back to when Abraham Lincoln declared Yosemite a national treasure nearly a decade before Roosevelt established the National Park Act. You could easily spend all your time exploring and enjoying the towering granite cliffs and towering water falls of the valley. However, you would miss the true treasures of Yosemite that are to be found off the beaten path.

Now that my excursions to Yosemite number in the double digits, I’ve learned where these treasures are – and we can spend entire days seeing very few, if any, other tourists or hikers – and feel like we have this entire gorgeous wilderness all to ourselves!

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Dave Chilling by Tenaya Lake

Then something happens.

When there is no e-mail, no voice mail, no work related text messages, no Facebook updates or Twitter notifications… when you are suddenly no longer in demand… (and the world goes on just fine without you!) You find that you get a realistic view of yourself, and you come to enjoy just being with God, instead of working for Him. And you also find that’s what He’s been wanting all along. After all, He really doesn’t need your help. He is God after all!

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Karl and Patrick at Panorama Point

But even off the beaten path, there are paths off that path to even more amazing beauty to behold! You discover that sometimes the best parts of the journey are the detours off the side trails. Along the famous Panorama Trail there is a short side trail that most hikers miss that leads to a point called Panorama Point.

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There is a geological marker there from 1905 warning of a $250 fine if you tamper with it. (That’s $6,580 in today’s money!) When you are at the Point you can see hikers walking past the turn off and missing it. It is fun informing other hikers of it the short while you can as you hike away from it.

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Chris near the turn off to Panorama Point

Only those who are observant of the trail going off to the side and willing to take it will get to see the breath taking view that is set before your eyes at this incredible Point. Those who miss it are truly missing out – and yet, sadly, never know what they missed.

It begs the question, how many things in LIFE do we miss out on that we are so close to, but we never even know we missed? Not knowing may be a blessing, but how tragic! May we be both observant and willing so that we don’t miss out on the Panorama Points of life!

Tom was back for his fourth Summit.

2013 was the 6th Yosemite Summit, and how many times can I report, “it was my favorite so far?” Again this year I took a smaller group, and I’m enjoying the dynamics of a smaller group, so guys who want to go need to sign up as soon as registration opens, as I only have four spots for next year, and one is already spoken for. We had beautiful weather and God confirmed to me yet again that this is something I need to be doing, not only for my own walk, but making it available for others as well to join me and experience with me the benefits of intentional time away to be with God in the majesty of His Creation.

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Final day in front of a giant sequoia. (It’s a lot bigger than it looks here!)

And finally… the highlight video for 2013:

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BACK FROM THE SUMMIT! 2013

I’m back from my 6th Yosemite Summit – and what a fantastic year it was. We had beautiful weather and did some fantastic hikes in Yosemite National Park.


These guys joined the elite group known as Summiteers! Tom was a four time repeater. Dave, Patrick, and Chris were there for the first time. (No, that is not our cabin; that is an old trading outpost found along the trail to McGurk Meadow.)

I will soon be putting together the annual report and highlight video, but I’m also back into the midst of the busy work schedule I unplugged from, so going though the 2,407 photos, plus editing and creating the video always takes me a few weeks. But I’m also working on a new surprise for this year’s Yosemite Summit Report, so be sure to watch your e-mail for the news when it breaks. (Be sure you are subscribed to the Kidology Newsletter.)

What can I say about this year now?

Well, we did a lot of hiking along with just spending time enjoying the Creator and His creation. This year, I decided to wear a pedometer for fun, starting out with my shopping day:

Friday (the day Dave and I arrived), I walked 4371 steps for 1.63 miles. That was just a little more than an average day for me based on the week before. Saturday saw a lot more action with 10,456 steps for 3.89 miles. There was a lot of prep to do! We left on Sunday, and that included our first short hike and introduction to Yosemite, bumping me up 14,856 steps for 5.64 miles for the day. But then came the real hikes. The day that included the trail to Dewey Point racked up 29,199 steps for 10.98 miles followed on Tuesday with 19,203 for 7.32 miles (Murphy Creek to the Poly Dome Lakes.) Then two of the guys really wanted to hike the Panorama Trail from Glacier Point around the rim and down to the Valley passing Illilouette, Nevada, and Vernal falls – what is typically a Day One hike. The other two opted to have some solitude time in the Valley with less than the 27,267 steps I put down to conquer that 10.09 mile day. (Remember, this is all day, not just the hikes themselves.) On our last day, we went down to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, but I took it easy and only logged 10,095  steps for 3.76 miles. Friday I flew home, so I returned to my average day clocking 4,587 steps or 1.68 miles.

Of course, this may not interest many, but I had fun logging my total of 100,831 steps, or walking 44.99 miles. (Wow!) We don’t typically hike that much, but it was such a beautiful year, and adding on the Panorama Trail was just plain fun.

My feet may have been a bit sore for a day, but my soul was refreshed and renewed! I’m posting from my iPad mini at the airport, so I’ll add more pics later when I am at a computer.

While I am glad to be back, there is a part of me that never leaves Yosemite. But right now, I have some catching up to do!!

 

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UNPLUGGED

This will soon be on my facebook wall. It is time yet again to completely and wholly UNPLUG from the hectic busy pace of ministry life. As always, I’m never ready. But that is the entire point of Yosemite Summit. We are never ‘ready’ for solitude. We are never ‘ready’ for rest. We are never ‘ready’ to spend quality time with our Creator. So I have learned, through some hard lessons in life that it must be scheduled and stuck too – no matter what; fiercely defended, for the very survival of one’s soul.

I was once told by a very wise mentor, “Karl, you need to stop being a human doing, and learn to become a human being.

That is what Yosemite Summit is all about. It is an annual cessation of activity. Too often we confuse busyness with what God is truly seeking from us. Not that we aren’t busy doing good things! But we get so busy doing these good things, that our relationship with God can grow distant, and soon God is wondering, why or who we are truly busy for?

Stopping, completely, once a year is an opportunity to recalibrate. It is a time for reflection and renewal. It is not a time of evaluating ministry goals and seeking a new “ministry vision” from God! It is a time of setting all that down and walking away from it.

Why? God did not save us to gain a worker. He can manage quite fine without us. (Something to consider when you are working so hard – God doesn’t need you!) He saved us that we might enter into a relationship with Him and get to know Him. If we are so busy working that we aren’t getting to know Him – than the working isn’t working. It is actually counter-productive to what God’s true aim is.

We are busy “making Him known,” but we forget the first half – “To know Christ, and to make Him known.” If we forget our relationship in the pursuit of the second half, we are then working to reproduce something that isn’t what God wants. No wonder many non-believers have no interest in becoming a Christian! They see a lot of busy-bodies, instead of disciples of Christ, men and women who walk with God.

So once a year I stop all the activity and simply walk with God for a week doing nothing else but enjoying Him. And I invite a small group to join me. It changes me and helps me continue that walk when I get back to my God-given work.

I invite you to do the same. Yes, you can come on a future Yosemite Summit – but you can also create your own. Several former ‘Summiteers’ now host their own Summits, one was in Yosemite this week. But you need not even travel to a place far away (though it helps greatly!), you can leave your office and go for a walk in a nearby park. You can actually take that day off your church provides, or actually honor the Sabbath as God designed.

Most importantly, schedule some time away – put it on your calendar now. And when the time comes, even if you aren’t ‘ready,’ take it anyway. God will always be ready and waiting for you. And no worries, the work will always be waiting for you when you return. But you will return a healthier and better person for the time you spent away from it.

If this is resonating with you, don’t just hit “like” – take some action as a result of reading this.

Sincerely,

Karl

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Renew, Refresh, Recharge

There are few places on the earth like Yosemite National Park. And there is no conference like Yosemite Summit… because it is the UN-conference for men in ministry. You’ve been to conferences. You’ve gotten overloaded with ideas when you were overloaded already when you arrived. More ideas was not what you were needing. You need a break. You need to hear from God. You need some fellowship with other men who ‘get’ what you are about.

You need to turn off everything electronic and be inaccessible by e-mail or phone and just enjoy the presence of God in the wonder of His Creation for a few days. You need to UNPLUG and reconnect with the reason you got into ministry in the first place.

You need to make some new friends. You need to breath deeply with no schedule, no appointments and no need to even wear a watch… all day long. All week long for that matter. The sun will be all you need to tell you when to eat. Speaking of food, want to eat great food and enjoy great fellowship. You want to laugh loud, sleep deep, and rest easy knowing that no one needs you to do anything. You want to read the Word of God for yourself, not for lesson preparation. You want to pray only to commune with God and for your wife and kids – and let the ministry go for awhile. (It will be fine without you.) You want to renew, refresh and recharge for whatever is next in life. Or perhaps you need to heal.

You want several days of mountains, granite cliffs and rivers and waterfalls, and wildlife, gentle quietness, and peace and tranquility.

You are ready for Yosemite Summit.

Register Today.

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God Met Me at Yosemite Summit

If you are praying about coming to Yosemite Summit, let me share with you some feedback from one of the guys who came last year…

I had never taken a trip like this before, so I was looking forward to getting away from EVERYTHING and hearing from God. I had heard about Yosemite Summit for years and knew it would be an amazing time. I was expecting to see and experience some of the most beautiful sites on earth! Yosemite Summit completely exceeded my expectations! The hikes and sites were breathtaking, the time and structure (lack of!) was a week-long breath of fresh air, and the fellowship with other men was encouraging. God used the Summit to unplug me from everything I had been working in and with and towards for the past five years. I was given the opportunity to refocus my heart and my thoughts back to Him first. God met me and drew me closer to Him. Yosemite Summit was a present that every male children’s pastor deserves to unwrap and enjoy at some point during their ministry tenure.

It’s a week filled with God’s amazing creation, intimacy with Jesus, and brothers who are walking through life in similar shoes. The highlight for me was the heights! The tops of powerful waterfalls, the peaks that gave an amazing view, and plateaus that opened to nothing but sky and the valley below. Yosemite Summit gave me a new starting place for myself and the life God has called me to live. Having seen his beautiful creativity and experienced his peaceful and loving presence, I now walk not only in the memory of getting to attend the Summit, but mostly in the constant reminder of his great love and care for me as a man, his child, a husband, a dad, and as a minister of his Good News.

There are four spots left for Yosemite Summit 2013. Won’t you join me?

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