Tag Archives: cabin

Cabin 18: Frozen Waters

A couple summers ago, I wrote about an imaginative trip to The Father’s Cabin to spend the weekend with Jesus. I wrote out of desperation, from a spiritually dry place, in hopes that the creative writing process would force me into a real conversation with Jesus. It worked!  My soul was nourished as I spent time chatting with Jesus, riding shotgun in his car, walking with him in the woods, fishing with him in a boat, planting with him in his garden, dancing with him in the rain, and imagining the kind of room he goes to prepare for me out of love. 

And then I stopped writing. The end of summer came, and as I launched into the fall of ministry, I left the story hanging with Jesus and I sitting peacefully in a rowboat on calm waters. Its been 2 or 3 years now, and its time to continue the story.  However, unlike last time, this time I am writing in the middle of a cold Minnesota winter, and that will shape the scenery and experiences of this second part of my adventure at The Father’s Cabin. I invite you to come along and join me!

Jeremy Berg, Midwinter 2017

(For the record, the popular novel The Shack never even crossed my mind while I was writing. Any similarities are completely unintended. My experiences and conversations with Jesus have originated from within my own imagination shaped by the Scriptures.)

Read Part One (first 17 chapters) in PDF form HERE

Read them all in blog post form HERE.

18

Frozen Waters

So, there I sat in a boat with my Lord, bobbing gently up and down on the calm waters of the ocean blue lake. The warmth of the midday sun on my neck, the fluttering of butterflies overhead, the sounds of June bugs all around. For a moment all was right in the world. Complete shalom.

Suddenly, without warning, a gust of frigid arctic air blew from the north, stirring up the calm waters into an angry tempest. The blue sky was replaced by a dark, ominous gray. The pleasant sounds of summer were replace by the angry howl of a whirlwind.

In an instant, like a great magician waving his wand, an arctic blast and blowing snow transformed the summer lake setting into a frozen, desolate winter wasteland. Green trees were now covered with frosty white snow. The blue sky was now a dull gray. The blue water was now a snow covered glacier. It felt like I was inside a snow globe that had just been violently shook.

Still sitting in the boat, now frozen solid into the lake, I turned to Jesus for some explanation and reassurance.

But he was gone.

Continue reading Cabin 18: Frozen Waters

Cabin 13: The Potting Shed

Screen shot 2014-08-01 at 5.07.52 PMLater that morning Jesus told me to get my work boots on and meet him at the potting shed. The rustic shed sat cropped up on a hill with a wood chipped path leading down to the cabin.

As I approached the shed, I saw Jesus come out the little red door in his grubs and mud boots. His hands were soiled and sweat on his brow. Above the door frame was a sign with the verse

THE GRASS WITHERS AND THE FLOWERS FALL, BUT THE WORD OF OUR GOD ENDURES FOREVER. -Isaiah 40:8

Before I could say anything, Jesus reached back into the shed and picked up a big bag of grass seed and dropped it into my arms.

“Are you ready for some mud-busting?” he asked.

“Mud busting? What’s that?” I asked.

“Come and see.”

We walked down behind the cabin to a shady area where the grass was spotty with large barren muddy areas. I noticed most of the spotty black areas were nicely tilled and ready to receive the seed.

“Who did all the tilling, Jesus?” I asked. Continue reading Cabin 13: The Potting Shed

Starry Night on the Prairie (10.7.14)

Personal Journal Entry — October 7, 2014 I’ve had a profound and illuminating two nights away at my dad’s cabin in Starbuck, MN. I can hardly put into the words all of the insights and energizing thought-time I’ve had. I have spent another reassuring retreat with the pastoral teaching and wisdom of Eugene Peterson. (Three years ago I spent another life-changing weekend with Peterson’s writings – read about that here.) I spent much time in the car listening to interviews with him on the nature of pastoral work. Then I discovered videos of a series of lectures he gave back in 1991 called the “Journey with Jonah: A Vocational Spirituality” at Acadia College in Canada. He uses the book of Jonah as a controlling narrative for his convictions about the life of a pastor — its true nature and common pitfalls. I believe these lectures became his book called “Beneath the Unpredictable Plant” or something like that. These lectures, in my opinion, should be required viewing by all seminarians and church leadership boards. Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 11.47.36 AMThey have been just what I needed to hear for the place I am at in my own pastoral journey. Peterson is giving pastors permission to get off the “ship to Tarshish” — which is his image for the rat race pastors find themselves playing, building their religious career, trying to feed consumer Christianity, increase attendance, advance exciting programs and use people (instead of serving them) to further our well-intended ministry agendas. Tarshish is that elusive, grand vision for ministry, success, limitless horizons of pastoral importance, growing a large church, mobilizing people to do many things for Christ, etc. His interviews and lectures all share his crisis moment when he realized early on after he had successfully started a new church and completed a building project, that he was unfulfilled as a pastor, spending all his time trying to “run this damned church” (organizational leadership, administration, committees, meetings, programs, etc.) when he really just wanted to be freed up to be a simple pastor spending his time studying Scripture, praying, preaching, shaping a worshiping community and getting to know his people intimately by visiting with them, doing life with them. He warns against pastors adopting leadership models and values from the secular world, and calls pastors to a much less glamorous vocation that is local and context specific, inviting pastors to patiently settle in for the long haul, not moving around but committing to a people in good times and bad. Again, to use the phrases from his other book I’ve been preaching on, he invites pastors to pursue “a long obedience in the same direction.” Continue reading Starry Night on the Prairie (10.7.14)

Little Thoughts on the Prairie (10.7.14)

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cabin on other side of field

Journal Entry – October 7, 2014 I spent a couple nights at dad’s cabin in Starbuck for some spiritual reflection and rest. What a gift — having a place to retreat to built with the sweat and love of your own dad!  This cabin is not so much a getting away from home as it is a pilgrimage back home to my family roots. My immigrant great grandparents were pioneers out here, settling onto this soil and making a home and life from this land. These acres were the slice of Eden where my ancestors worked out that ancient vocation, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the land and subdue it” (Gen. 1).  Looking out the cabin window at the rolling hills and fields, and feeling the cold, stubborn autumn winds shake the windows, I’m reminded this is the land where my great-grandparents also suffered the full weight of Eden’s curse:

“As long as you live you will have to struggle to grow enough food. Your food will be plants, but the ground will produce thorns and thistles. You will have to sweat to earn a living” (Gen. 3:17-19). 

photo 2I grew up in the suburbs, far from the realties of rural life and farming. But the blood of generations of simple, hardworking farmers runs thick through my veins nevertheless. I pay homage to my roots every time I step foot onto these 80 acres — remembering the sweat of my ancestors. I think my dad does, too. It’s a place to slow down. Regain one’s bearings. Recover some balance and perspective in this fast-paced world. The plants of the fields are immune to the unnatural life rhythms imposed on human beings these days. They still follow the Creator’s easy, constant patterns — plowing, planting, watering, growing, and harvesting. Each step in the process requiring ample time and patience. At the cabin, we’re reminded of the courage and determination of the immigrants who came across the prairies to start fresh, to cultivate the land and build a life and legacy. We are each born into a family that, like the land, has its own areas of rough terrain to plow, brush to clear, old roots to dig up, and thorns and thistles to contend with. Quiet moments alone at the cabin allow me to reflect a bit on the family soil I grew up in. All in all, I’m very blessed! My sermon text the day I departed was fittingly Psalm 127:

“If God doesn’t build a house, then those who build it work in vain….It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to bed, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives sleep to his beloved. Sons are indeed a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.”

The Land of My FathersMy dad has never been one to talk about his faith all that much. But his faith is deep and he’s been sharing more lately. And what he does share is usually quite profound and inspiring. He recently shared a story about his experience building this cabin. He did most of the work alone, spending many hours out here with only the gusty winds and oppressive sun as companions. I know dad would “rise up early and go late to bed” and the cabin could have easily become a miserable meal of “anxious toil” to choke down. But dad, I’m discovering, usually has at least one ear open to the whisper of God. One day, as dad recounts it, he was miserable. The weather was grumpy. The winds roared and swirled around him as he struggled to make progress. He wanted to quit. “Why does have to be so difficult? Why won’t these winds just settle down for a bit?” Then dad realized, seeing things with a sanctified imagination, that if God was helping him build the house and he had some special plans for it, then there was also an Enemy out there trying to discourage and thwart the effort!  From that point on, dad was determined to not let the “winds of adversity” and attempts of the Enemy win the day. I picture dad high on his ladder taunting the wind, shaking his fist at the rains and with his hammer in his hand yelling into the storm with a Clint Eastwood voice, “Go ahead, make my day!” I’m sure the winds continued to roar, but I think in that moment dad heard Jesus’ command, “Peace, be still!” And dad’s heart grew a bit calmer like the waters on the sea of Galilee. And he continued hammering with more resolve and inner peace. As I sit here now peacefully inside the warm cabin, sheltered from that rowdy prairie wind outside, it is clear that dad won the battle. Or, shall we say, “The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes” (Ps. 118:23). Dad didn’t build alone. The LORD built this house. Dad did indeed rise early and worked some long days, but he didn’t eat “the bread of anxious toil.” He paced himself, and recognized the need for God’s gift of restful sleep. Now, dad is enjoying the gift and reward of having a quiver full of children and grandchildren who are beginning to enjoy the work of his hands. Thanks, dad!

SUMMER SERIES: Cabin with Jesus

cabinwJesus

Cabin fever anyone? Wanna get away from it all this summer? Imagine the phone rings and it’s Jesus himself saying, “Are you tired? Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.” (Matt 11 MSG).  Who would refuse such an offer?

Well, the offer is there! Not a real physical cabin in the woods, but an invitation to spend a special time with Jesus this summer via a new devotional series At the Cabin with Jesus.

I will be sharing a series of personal and biblical reflections on what it might be like to get away to the cabin for a weekend with Jesus. What activities might you engage in? What experiences would you have with Jesus as your host?  You might just return home a different person.

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So, pack your suitcase, load up your car with and buckle up for a weekend cabin experience like none other.

See ya soon!