2 Timothy 2:13 New International Version (NIV)
13 if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.
It has been said by Dr. J. Oswald Sanders, “Faith enables the believing soul to treat the future as present and the invisible as seen.” How many of us live in assurance of things hoped for? When was the last time you made a decision with the future in plain sight? Is that what people mean when they say, “You just need more faith.” How do I know how much faith I have?
What if your crazy faith cost you everything? That was a question, I believe, that the disciples grappled with while they walked with Jesus, and as he ascended back to heaven. Look at this portion of Scripture in Matthew 17:20, ‘You do not have enough faith.’ Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
Jesus is rebuilding the disciples because of their lack of faith from being able to cast out a demon in a boy. It was all because of faith.
All of us have the crazy faith moments. We either seize up in that moment or have a little faith as the size of a mustard seed and believe. This year I am challenged with the one word, ‘Deeper’.
I want to have the crazy faith of believing I can see the miraculous in my life. I want to have deeper encounters with Jesus. I want to be called a friend of God like Noah, Moses, and other men of God.
I want to have the crazy faith in 2016 of seeing people come to Christ, addictions broken, marriages saved, cancer beaten, and life given. That takes crazy faith, but I pray to have it.
Where is your crazy faith for 2016? Want to walk on water? Want to see demons flee? Want to see the spiritually dead come back to life? It will take crazy faith on your part. It will take reading God’s Word, cultivating a deeper prayer life, and resisting the devil. Join me in ‘Crazy Faith’.
Strength and Courage
I came across the name of a man today. It is a name with which I’m very familiar, but I was led to read a little more in depth. The man is Norman Borlaug. Some of you may know who he is, but for any who do not, I’ll give you a brief account of his life and accomplishments.
Norman Borlaug was born March 25th 1914 to a farm family outside of Cresco, Iowa. He had a prototypical upbringing for a midwestern farm kid of the age. He grew up hunting, fishing and working the family’s 106 acre farm. His primary education took place in a one room school house, and he was baptized and confirmed in the Saude Lutheran church. He graduated from Cresco high school, where he also participated in football, baseball and wrestling.
Through an Depression-era program known as the National Youth Administration, he was able to enroll at the University of Minnesota. While earning his Bachelor of Science in forestry, Norman, like most had to take jobs to support himself. One such job was as a leader in the Civilian Conservation Corps. Many of the people who worked for him in those days came to him starving. Though he didn’t realize the impact at the time, the scars those images left would forever change his life and the lives of over a billion others.
Before and after graduation, Norman worked for the US Forest Service. He had his career and life coursed out and was headed down it. It wasn’t for long, though, and due to budget cuts he lost that job. That’s a pretty significant blow to be dealt, for anyone. I’m sure he thought, as most of us would, he had arrived. He had made it. Then blindsided. Have you ever felt like that?
Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Well Norman returned to the University of Minnesota and under the tutelage of his mentor Elvin Charles Stakman, received a master of science degree in 1940 and Ph.D. in plant pathology and genetics in 1942. He went to work for Dupont, where during World War II a number of his projects worked to aid our soldiers in combat. Impacting lives.
After the war years his research and efforts changed complexion. He remembered the look of starvation in the faces of his past workers. The rest of his life was dedicated to the development of high yield, disease and drought resistant crops. Crops that could be grown in regions ravaged by hunger, where conventional crops and farming techniques were useless. His life’s research led him to countries around the world, Mexico, South America, Asia, India and finally Africa.
Norman Borlaug became the man God would use to feed the world. Norman’s life work is credited with saving over a billion lives from starvation. All this from a boy who started from such humble beginnings. A young man who’s life course was set, or so he thought. However, God had different plans for Norman.
As I read about Norman’s extraordinary contributions to the world, I can’t help but think about how it almost wasn’t was. I think about the chain of events required to bring God’s plan for his life to fruition. I wonder how often Norman felt stuck in the mud, that things weren’t going according to plan. I find my heart overflowing with faith in the knowledge that Norman’s life played out by design. God’s design. What reassurance can be found in this story. Reassurance that no matter what happens in our own lives, though we may not see it, want it or understand it, if we hold onto that faithful knowledge that it is by God’s design, great things will happen.
I think about all the people that God brought into Norman’s life. Each person necessary in the development of “the man who fed the world”. I wonder how many of those people lived an entire life not knowing the contribution they made in his development, their role in feeding the world. Not all of us are destined to be Norman Borlaug, but every Norman Borlaug needed a great many of us to realize their design.
As I go forward from this day forth, I will try to be more mindful of the “Borlaug Effect”, how my life impacts others, who in turn affect others, who affect others who will affect the next man who feeds the world.
Lord let me no longer doubt the plan and design You have for my life. Heavenly father erase from me the doubt of the significance and effect my life has on those around me, rippling out to the rest of the world and generations to come. How great is Your design and plan, Lord? I can’t see it fully Lord, but this I know, the gift of faith You fill my heart with assures me that it is a grand and perfect design. I pray Lord that my ripple in this world will have the effect You desire. In Jesus’ precious name Amen.
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy
This past afternoon, I had a chance to visit with a young man who just finished his first semester at a Christian college. We spent about an hour catching up at a coffee shop, which is a good place to visit without too many distractions. I have grown to love and appreciate this Christian brother and his whole family over the past few years, as we attend the same church together. I have not had lengthy conversations with him recently, so made a point to try to meet up with him while he was back. I did not have an agenda going in to our meeting, other than to find out how he was doing and to be an encouragement. I listened and learned that college has not changed significantly over the years, as the challenges, temptations, and opportunities seem fairly consistent.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
I get tired and grow weary when I am just saying ‘hi’ and skimming along the surface in life. Taking time to have deep conversations with friends I have had for years, and even with strangers is encouraging to me. They don’t often just ‘happen’, but take some effort from both parties to coordinate, except for encounters with strangers. Everyone has a story if you take the time to ask and listen to it. You do too, though you don’t always have to share everything. I have had some fairly profound conversations that have lasted no more than 60 seconds on several occasions. Maybe I like the challenge of trying to get to the heart of the matter without all the fluff sometimes. That is what I try to do in my writing, but it often requires trimming a lot of fat off the edges, making it about 80% lean, or so I hope.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11
What do you do to recharge your spiritual battery? Some might spend some quiet time in prayer or in the word. Others may be externally motivated through corporate worship or a good conversation with a friend. I have been inspired after reading a good book, viewing a piece of art or natural wonder, or seeing a movie that motivates me to action. Maybe a little of all these and other disciplines can bring us back to what is most important in life and help us fan the flame of faith that Christ planted in our hearts years ago, or just the other day.
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 2 Corinthians 13:5
So, if you are in the practice of making New Year’s resolutions or setting lofty goals, do you tend to make them unattainable, or easy enough to reach with just minimal effort? When you reexamine where you are with your spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional health, do you consult others to get an unbiased opinion, or just go with what ‘feels right’ to you? Make some time to reconnect with an old friend, your spouse, or family member and talk about what matters most in life. Try to listen more than talk and see where your conversation goes. Often, after time spent with God or with a fellow Christian, I am compelled to take action. What are you being called to do?
Strength and Courage in Christ,
We are a few days past Christmas and a couple days away from the new year. If I would ask you to give me one word to describe your life right now what would it be? I would imagine some would say busy… work, school, family, deadlines, parties and to do lists keep us here. Some would say confused. Who do I go see this year for New Years? If you don’t see them on the holiday it doesn’t count apparently. Some might say anxious. You have a lot of plates spinning and know soon one or many are going to come crashing down. A few might say peace. Everything is good in your life right now.
In the story of Jesus birth, have you ever wandered why the angels came to the shepherds? At some point they made the decision to be a shepherd. This decision has led to some difficult circumstances.
Luke 2:8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
The shepherd are told… Find Jesus, Find Peace.
I there there are several reasons why we don’t find Jesus and in turn find peace. One is our past sin. The memories haunt us. Some of you have your past sin filling your mind now. For some of you this is why you hate the holidays, because you are around family who always bring up the sin of your past. Then Jesus promises peace. The “those with whom God is pleased” can also be translated “those who have been given grace.” When you are forgiven by Jesus, you have been fully, freely, and forever forgiven. There is no condemnation for those who have found Jesus. If you have gone to Jesus with your sin and trusted him you are forgiven!
Another reason we struggle to receive peace is an uncertain future. Our media thrives off an uncertain future. Remember when the Myan calendar ended, Y2K, San Andreas Fault scare… Nothing happened but your basement getting full of bottled water and toilet paper. Our future really is certain. The death rate of the USA is about 100% and all of our futures hinge on one question. What will you do with Jesus?
Are you in Christ? Going to church, reading your bible, and daily reading the Vital men devotional does not make you in Christ. Trusting Jesus for the forgiveness of your sin and following Him one step at a time does. If you are lacking peace, it might be because you are not in Jesus. Then today is your day! You don’t have to clean yourself up to go to Jesus, any more than you would clean up before you take a bath. Go to Jesus now and ask him to forgive you, tell Him you trust Him for forgiveness and commit to follow Him one step at a time. Do it NOW! The best thing you could do for your life, your family, and start a new year is THIS NOW!
If you just prayed to be in Christ, I would encourage you to tell someone… your spouse, your friend, or comment here on this page!
Where do you need to Find Jesus, to Find Peace in your past sin or uncertain future?
Go be Vital… Find Jesus, Find Peace…
Recklessly, Obsessively Following Jesus
1 John 3:3-4 New International Version (NIV)
3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.
This year as 2016 quickly approaches, I have decided to actively implement a continuous battle plan of preparation in this life. It is not a New Year’s resolution. It is a ‘Battle Plan’. I will wage war on the sin that combats my life and draw closer with Jesus.
Many times we will make plans for our business, work, and sports. All of these are good to a point. But, is God in the middle of your plans?
We will even make plans for health, weight loss, and physical fitness. Again, all is good. But, where is God in all of this? Do we forget and make it about me? How am I concerned with my inward spiritual health?
This past year I completed reading the Bible through in a year. I have never done that before. For my ‘Battle Plan’ I am going to read the one year chronological Bible. I want to understand Biblical history better and how it has played out from the beginning of creation.
My second part of the ‘Battle Plan’ is prayer. I will be reading and implementing this from the book, The Battle Plan for Prayer. It is composed of helping me with ‘Basic Training’ to target strategies in my prayer. The book asks you to do three things: make a schedule for prayer time, make a scheduled prayer place, and make prayer targets.
This is my ‘Battle Plan’ for 2016. I believe this year will bring me into a closer relationship with Jesus and hearing his voice. That is my ‘Battle Plan’.
How about you? What is your battle plan for 2016? If you do not get intentional with this, it will not happen. That is how it works for me. You see, men, I figure if I am called to fight for Christ and my faith, well, I better get into ‘Boot Camp’ and get strong, or I will miss the battle.
Men, let’s rise in 2016. Choose your course and make ready for battle.
Strength and Courage