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spring exploding on Snake Mountain

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Two weeks ago when I was here on the mountain it was obvious that spring was on the way. Now the Snake Mountain is literally exploding with spring.

Forsythia blooms

Forsythia blooms

Everywhere I look there’s a riot of color and new life. A special treat is that once again we have Red-breasted Grosbeaks joining us. They have been noticably absent for past couple years. I have already seen a half dozen males around the feeder at the same time, so they are back in numbers.

male Red-breasted Grosbeak

male Red-breasted Grosbeak

The males are the showy ones, but the females are just as beautiful. The Grosbeaks are just one of almost a dozen species using the feeder this weekend. But, it’s really nice to have them back.

I am actually having a difficult time getting any work done with the live show taking place on the porch.

female Red-breasted Grosbeak

female Red-breasted Grosbeak

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The Struggle to Fill Empty Pews

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GETTING OFF OUR BUTS: Making Mission Happen, by Ray Buchanan, is scheduled to be published the first week of July. It begins with a look at our understanding of miracles, and the alarming lack of them in today’s churches. Here is a brief snippet.

There are many who believe the church is no longer relevant for today’s society. Theologians, biblical scholars and church leaders bemoan the fact that the world at large doesn’t seem interested in what the church has to offer. One campaign after another is introduced to fill nearly empty sanctuaries and help dwindling congregations grow.

None of them appear to have offered a lasting solution. Why?  Again, the answer is disturbingly simple.

None of the ubiquitous church growth campaigns really work because none of them truly focus on the real problem. Today’s church has yet to adequately demonstrate to the world that we have anything worth their attention.

 The church needs to understand that the world is not obligated to pay attention to us. It is just that simple. Thinking we have what the world needs and demonstrating it are two completely different things.

If the world can see nothing in the church that cannot be explained in terms of management, program and organization, how is that any different than what takes place outside the church every single day?

 For most people church still implies God. And for most of the world, God still means miracle. A church without miracles is no different than any other small business, corporation or well-meaning civic club. The world knows what to expect from them. Yet, the world doesn’t know what to expect from the church.

 Once the church merits the world listening to us we will get the audience we crave and deserve. Until that time comes, however, the struggle to fill empty pews will continue unabated.

Snake Mountain sunset

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I started the morning at my laptop, and I will finish the day the same way. That’s part of the joy of being on the mountain. My time is totally my own and I can write when I want and for as long as I want.

But, another source of deep joy for me is to be immersed 24/7 in the life of the mountain. Last night, for example, I heard an unusual noise on the porch. When I opened the door I had a guest that had arrived for a late dinner. A beautiful young possum was chewing on a large cow bone belonging to my Golden Retriever.

We chatted for a few minutes before my guest decided the bone was not as tasty as he had hoped. Either that, or I was poor dinner company. I was sad to see him go. He was still in that cute stage…which doesn’t last long for possums.

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North Carolina mountain sunset

Tonight we had a glorious sunset on the mountain. Here is one pic.

spring springing up Snake Mountain

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As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I owed myself a little reward for a good morning’s worth of writing. So I grabbed my walking stick and my camera and ambled down the mountain to the creek.

During my walkabout I discovered that spring is already sneaking up the mountain. Green is beginning to snake around the edges of the creek and there are even flowers starting to grace the hillsides.

It’s a glorious time to be on Snake Mountain. But then, there’s no time that isn’t.

Here’s a couple of pics of spring beginning to spring up the mountain.

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a growing green carpet down by the creek

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brave souls leading spring’s advance up the mountain

back on the mountain

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Like Edward Abbey wrote in his introduction to THE JOURNEY HOME, “I am not a naturalist. I never was and never will be a naturalist.” But, Like Abbey I am a deep and passionate lover of nature. My most intense joy is being immersed in nature in any of its myriad of guises.

Right now I am again soaking up the solitude and splendor that is my small slice of Snake Mountain. PreSpring is here. The snow is gone. And if the bright sunshine hasn’t actually knocked the chill from the air, it has revealed that it won’t be long before those loveliest shades of green will be covering the mountain from the ridges down to the creek.

I have been waiting to get up here since before the new year kicked off. Actually, I’ve been here several times, but never for more than a couple or three days. And I will admit it…I’m greedy when it comes to Snake Mountain. Two or three days is just not enough time to  soak up the beauty of this place.

Even though it probably doesn’t sound like it, I am here working. My next book, STOP HUNGER NOW: Ending Hunger in Our Lifetime is due out in early December. That’s a short timeline. But, that doesn’t keep me from soaking up the richness and beauty which surrounds me as I write.

I’ve been able to get over a thousand words into the machine this morning, so now it’s time for a little reward. My walking stick is by the door so for me it mean’s it’s time to grab the camera and head down toward the creek. Besides, I need the exercise to stay sharp.

GETTING OFF OUR BUTS

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I pastored rural United Methodist Churches in Virginia for eight years before beginning what is now more than thirty-five years as a professional hunger fighter. Although I felt called to the pastorate, and I loved being a pastor, I always felt a deep sense of frustration at my inability to help my congregations move off dead center in regard to mission outreach.

All my congregations wanted to make a real difference in the world. All of them wanted to reach out in the name of Christ to be involved in significant mission projects. But none of those congregations were able to make the impact they truly desired. And I lacked the leadership skills necessary to help them.

I wish I knew then what I know now.

Those are the opening words from the Preface of GETTING OFF OUR BUTS: Making Mission Happen, my new book that will be published by Snake Mountain Press this summer. The book is a biblical blueprint for getting congregations and other organizations totally engaged in mission work that can change the world.

There is no reason for any person, group or church not to be actively engaged in making a difference in our broken world. GETTING OFF OUR BUTS is a manual that guides congregations through every step of successful mission work. The book is a easy-to-follow guide to help congregations take the necessary steps to become real leaders in reaching out to those most in need, both in their local communities and around the world.

I will share more excerpts from the book in the coming months.

welcome to the Snake Mountain Muse

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Snake Mountain is a mountain in the North Carolina High Country, east of the community of Zionville. Its elevation reaches 5,564 feet (1,696 m).

The mountain generates several feeder streams to the North Fork New River (via Maine Branch[3]), South Fork New River (via Meat Camp Creek[4]) and Watauga River (via Cove Creek[5]). Several ridges form from Snake Mountain, with the main being Snake Mountain Ridge,[6] which marks the border between North Carolina and Tennessee; also there is Sugartree Ridge[7] and Hessian Ridge,[8] which are smaller outcrops from Snake Mountain, to its west. Several gaps also surround the mountain: Elk Horn Gap,[9] Pottertown Gap,[10] Rich Mountain Gap[11] and State Line Gap.[12]

Historically, both the Old Buffalo Trail and Daniel Boone Trail converge at the foot of the mountain, at Zionville.[13]

Snake Mountain is the home of Snake Mountain Press. The Snake Mountain muse and I have begun a dance that I would love for others to join. This is your invitation.

Founded in 2011, Snake Mountain Press believes that publishing doesn’t have to be as difficult as it has proven to be for most aspiring authors. Our mission is simple: We want to work together with good writers to help get their work published in the most professional, timely, efficient and cost-effective manner possible.  We make that happen by guiding writers through every step of the publishing process until they have a  book published of which they can be duly proud.

Snake Mountain Muse is the blog for Snake Mountain Press. Of course, the blog will have the pertinent  news about the press, but it will also have far more. SMM will feature quotes from great writers, as well as articles about writing, publishing and the writing life. The site will have excerpts from writers published by Snake Mountain Press, book reviews and other information of interest to writers. There will be poetry, photography (both my own and by others) and other creative efforts of all types. Information about writing contests, classes and grants will also be included.

You are most cordially invited to become a part of the Snake Mountain Press community. Let’s court the muse together and begin a dance that will go on forever.

 

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