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April 20, 2012 / joelmalm

The World’s Most Profound Hiking Tip

When I was hiking the Inca Trail a friend of mine said something that changed my life.  The trail is 25 miles of intense hiking at altitudes above 12,000ft.  We looked back over the trail after a particularly grueling section and in passing my friend said, “It’s amazing what you can get accomplished if you just put one foot in front of the other.”

It wasn’t a new revelation.  I had just never heard it put that way before.  I thought about it for days after that and considered the implications.

I can be the world’s best husband if I take it one day at a time.  Be the best I can be – every day.

I can write a book.  One word after another.  Do that day after day and you’d be amazed how much you can get written.

I can get through any challenge.  One step at a time.  I just have to keep marching and looking ahead.

Whatever trail God has you on, I can guarantee you that it has a destination.  Keep watching Him and putting one foot in front of the other.  You’ll be amazed how far you can get if you just hold on and keep hiking.


April 18, 2012 / joelmalm

I’m Forming a Scooter Gang

I love my scooter.  It costs me about $3 per week in gas.  Plus, when I’m riding I feel part of everything going on around me.  I feel alive.  I’m out there in the open.

I only have two complaints:

  1. I’m way more vulnerable to getting hit than when I’m tucked away safely in a car.
  2. When I get off the scooter I don’t always smell so good.  I have that outdoorsy smell.  A combination of sweat and wind and exhaust.

Riding my scooter kind of reminds me of working with people.  It’s invigorating.  You feel alive when you are involved in other people’s lives.  But it can make you vulnerable to being hit pretty good too.  Often times you don’t smell as good as you want because it’s hard to stay clean.

In spite of all that I still think it’s worth it.  It’s way cheaper than the alternative of isolation in your safe vehicle.  And I’m also pretty convinced that God isn’t really going to care how we smell when we pull up to the gates of heaven.  He’s more worried about how big the scooter gang is that we brought behind us.

April 16, 2012 / joelmalm

When I Went to Mt. Everest

The blog I wrote last Friday reminded me of an experience I had in Tibet.

I woke up to the sound of a bell and Tibetan Buddhist monks droning their morning prayers.  My head was pounding from the 18,000ft plus of altitude and dehydration.  The water bottles had all frozen over night.  I crunched my way out of the tiny settlement and into the barren valley of the Rombuk glacier.

Then it happened.

The clouds broke ahead of me and the glistening, snow-covered peak of Mt.Everest came into view.

I remember thinking:

  1. I will never climb that beast.  I am suffering down here, that’s two miles higher.
  2. How the heck did I get here?  I have no money, yet God provided for this trip.
  3. God is far too good to me.  I’m a punk kid fromTexas.  I’m cocky, arrogant and really shouldn’t be standing at the foot of the tallest mountain in the world.  Humbling.  This is the stuff people dream of doing.

Yes, I cried.  The good kind of crying.  The kind that reminds you to look up and say:

 Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

   You have set your glory
in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

Psalm 8

April 13, 2012 / joelmalm

The List Says It All

Last night I was up late freaking out about some financial concerns I’m having.  I wish I could say it’s the first time, but unfortunately it has happened a lot lately.  Deep down I know God will provide, but I realized I need to have some tangible evidence.  So I made a list of stuff God has provided for me.  Here are a few things on that list:

  1. My wife – There was a point when I wondered if I’d ever meet the woman of my dreams.  I didn’t find her until I was 29, but it was worth waiting on God.  She’s amazing.
  2. Experiences – I’ve lived in Guatemala, Mexico and Peru and been able to travel in over 65 countries.  The year I traveled the most I only made $12000.  Explain that one…
  3. A House – My plan was to buy us a house when I was forty.  (yes, I think really long term).  But last year God provided a house at a ridiculously low price.  Sure it needed a lot of work, but it’s still a house.

Sorry if that all sounds like bragging.  Just know it’s bragging on God’s faithfulness. God has a pretty slammin’ track record.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:19

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
-Psalm 42:5

April 11, 2012 / joelmalm

I Deleted My Masterpiece!

For over two years I worked tirelessly on writing a book.  I was convinced it was going to change the world.  It was my magnum opus.  When the book was finally finished I set it aside, knowing that very soon God would wake a publisher up in the middle of the night and tell them to call me.  The world needed this book.

While the manuscript waited patiently on my hard drive to be released upon the earth something happened.  I preached an eight-week series on Joseph (the one in Genesis).  It shook me up.  The next time I opened my manuscript I realized something – I didn’t believe what I had written anymore.  I had to stretch the scriptures too much to make it fit my book.

When we are faced with truth we have two choices.  We can surrender to it and change our beliefs, or we can resist it and hold on to old paradigms.  Tragically, I think I often choose to hold on to my paradigms.  I face the truth every day when I read my Bible and I regularly brush over the parts that contradict what I currently hold to.

I lose when I do that.

It’s really important that we constantly analyze what we believe and make sure we are getting our cues from the Bible – not the media, or books, or the talking heads on TV.  If you find something in the Bible to be a bit uncomfortable as you read it, that’s usually a good sign that what you believe may be in conflict with the truth.  I encourage you to choose truth – even if that means deleting that 300-page magnum opus on your hard drive.

April 9, 2012 / joelmalm

Stealing My Friend’s Jacket

During one of the most challenging days in my life a man I barely knew approached me and started preaching to me about victory.  He rebuked me for not being more cheerful.  “Jesus won the victory, you shouldn’t be upset!”

That man is an idiot.  God bless his heart. (That’s what you put at the end of a negative statement to make it more palatable. :))

Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart. (Proverbs 25:20)

It’s hard to swallow theology when you are suffering, because you can’t hear anything but pain.  The substitutionary atonement and justification don’t really comfort when you are deeply wounded.

I’ve been that idiot who takes away my friend’s jacket in sub-zero temperatures. When people are suffering I have to constantly remind myself to just shut up.  Just be present and stop trying to be Tony Robbins.  A time will come for that.  But the best salve for the suffering is often your silence.

April 6, 2012 / joelmalm

Dam Sacrifices

God has never left me hanging.  Every time one door has begun to close for me God always opens another.  But I’ve noticed something – none of the doors come without sacrifice.

Don’t get me wrong here. You cannot sacrifice for God – he won’t let you.  Just when you think you’ve really sacrificed for him he opens the flood gates at Hoover Dam and you can barely stand in the torrent of blessings he unleashes.

But when the time comes for God to move you to a new level it will require what seems to be a sacrifice.  The sacrifice may be risking security or stepping into something new and uncomfortable.  But trust me,  it’s worth it.  Every time I’ve ever taken the risk he’s done “immeasurably more than all [I] ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within [me].” (Eph. 3:20)

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.  Proverbs 4:18