1. Power of Sin
Romans 6:11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
Jesus died to give you freedom. We have been given the power to overcome the darkness inside of us that tries to destroy us. Are you walking in the power over sin? Do you have conviction with your sin? If you do not feel bad when it comes to your sin, Jesus is NOT in you and you are not saved! The most dangerous place to be is walking in darkness believing you are in the light! Evidence that Jesus is in you is your conviction of sin! What a loving savior to convict us of what separates us from Him.
2. A Meaningless Life
Ephesians 2:8-10 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
God planned good things for you! In fact, GREAT THING! Let me pose a question… What are you doing right now that will matter in 100 years? Many of you are slaving over a company that will not exist in 50 years. Many of you obsess over a team, that even if they won the championship or super bowl. No one would really care in 3 years. What are you doing that will matter in 100 years? The church has survived 2,000 years of an enemy trying to destroy it, men trying to destroy it, and men trying to do it while really killing it. It is the only thing in our world that has lasted this long. Jesus has called us to serve His house and through it lives will change.
3. The Wrath of God
“The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:31
Do you love your neighbor and by neighbor, I mean anyone? Do you give grace to those that may wrong you?
My mother-in-law has being dealing with a neighbor for the last few years that does nothing but aggravate her. He sees the world as his own and he will do anything to make sure his yard, house, cars are the best in town at the sacrifice of others. Just the other day she called me over and told me he was mowing way over into her lawn and throwing the grass at her house.
Now this is not the first time they have had issues. He and his wife usually pick up the walnuts from the yard and throw them at her house, because “They aren’t from my tree.”
I went out and talked to him. I already know how his disposition is so I knew he could snap at any point. I asked if he would not mow over into her yard. He said “I’m tired of the leaves in my yard.” I told him I understood but this was not his yard and that I would like to keep the peace. I carefully watched his body language to see if he has going to get angry or just ride away. He babbled on for a few minutes more. My last words were, “I understand your point and will talk to the gentleman that mows her yard.”
That’s all it took. Understanding the way he was thinking, not giving in but also not chastising him. Giving him grace.
This is one of many examples of run-ins with people that are not always nice. How many times have you had a cashier, driver, or even a friend that needs a little grace. As men, we tend to go on the defensive. Next time slow down, think, and show them grace.
Can you imagine if we all did this? I bet the man in the above story has a past that has caused him to be so angry. This doesn’t give him the right to act the way he does, but it could easily be any of us. How many times has someone said something or done something to you that has made you angered or affected your day, week, or year? What would have happened if the first person you interacted with showed you grace? Do you think that would have stopped the cycle?
Go out and show that kindness and grace are not dead. Acts 6:8, “And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.”
United for Him,
Journey is my second favorite word behind whimsy. We’re all full of journeys–having traveled from one place to another geographically, emotionally, spiritually. I love journeying with people in all those same ways, too. Isn’t that what life is about? Not going the journey alone, but traveling it with others.
“The Lord will keep your going out and coming in from this time forth and forevermore” (Psalm 121:8).
That verse comes at the end of a powerful Psalm, reminding us that God is with us all the time. In the midst of our journeys, the ups and downs that come, I think we forget that more than we should. God is always present. Often we replicate the Israelites, forgetting God when we’re up and crying out for him when we’re down.
The sharp edge of this conundrum is this: are you aware of your many journeys?
There is an art to journeying, but often we are blind to it. The Israelites circled the desert for forty years and many of them didn’t know why. They didn’t know where they were, where they were going, or when the foretold promises would come true. They just walked.
I have been a blundering journeyer for some time now. Oblivious to my surroundings, to my spiritual life, to my relationships with people–I’ve been aimlessly circling in the desert, unaware of where I’ve been, what I’ve learned, and where I need to go next.
This is why it is so important to be aware of our journeying; we are shown hidden pieces, told forgotten secrets.
Here are three things we can learn from our journeys.
Journeys reveal our shortcomings
We stumble, we fall, we grit our teeth and overcome. We need to be able to remember those moments in our journeys because they are defining moments for who we are now. If we ignore the shortcoming of a journey, we look past how far we’ve come, we forgo the lessons stirring in the dust, waiting to cling to us the rest of the way. Shortcomings aren’t a prohibitor, they are a propulsion, moving us forward, strengthening our weak points, and giving us stories to tell in the future.
Journeys display God’s providence
We’re shown that it isn’t our own power that pulls us through the journey, but God’s. And that’s a hard fact to swallow sometimes–that as much as we think we did it, we didn’t. When reflecting on our journeys, when slowing down and taking a look at what surrounds us, we can find God’s hand guiding us along the way: “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed” (Jeremiah 29:13, the Message).
Journeys define our story
What is life without a story to tell? Our world thrives on the revelation of stories–songs, books, and movies capture them in a unique way. We, too, need to be able to understand our various journeys and tell others about them. It’s what empowers the Gospel in today’s world, it’s what gives meaning to our lives, it’s what inspires others to live bigger and better. If we don’t have a journey, we don’t have a story to tell.
In your life, God has mapped out an amazing journey that he’s excited for you to adventure and to reflect on. Let’s do both today as we soak in the many different paths we’ve taken to get where we are and the many more that are to come.
2 Kings 2:11, “As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind to heaven.”
I can’t express how excited I am for this ministry season to start. As we sought our direction and prayed to the Holy Spirit to show us the way, this word kept coming– deep. Deep into Christ. Deep into the journey with the Savior. Deep into the One who came and changed everything.
That has been my own prayer. Going deeper with Christ in my alone time with Him. Jeremiah 29:13 from the Message says, “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” This is a promise. Jesus will never disappoint us.
This year we kick off on September 17th at Third. We will be announcing a new Vital Men location in New Sharon, Iowa. Two men are leaving the main body in Pella to go to their community to introduce Vital Men. Men who will not only see how vital their life is, but how vital they are to Christ. This is exciting!
We are also starting Vital Life in Oskaloosa, Iowa. We will meet at the Kinsman Keep the 1st and 3rd Sunday nights of each month. Our kick-off will be Sept. 21st starting at 5:00-6:30 pm. Most people think we are crazy, Sunday Night? That’s how Jesus works, doing the impossible and seeing what can be. Within the venue’s name I find great meaning. Kinsman, meaning Jesus is our Kinsman Redeemer. The word Keep is a fortified tower, an inner stronghold. Does that not show our lives in Christ?
We are also launching Vital Women along with devotions each day for the women. You can go to our devotional page and see them there and tell your wives. My wife, Dana, has felt the Holy Spirit leading her as she will start September 25th at the Vital Ministries building. Women growing together in their faith knowing just how Vital their life is to the Kingdom of God.
The last ministry venture for us is our KBOE 104.9 radio ministry each Sunday morning 8:30-9:00 am. Getting the Word out to our region through the air waves. Telling people about Jesus who might not go to a church. This is evangelism men.
What an exciting time we live in, a year of Deep and on fire for Jesus. I like how Elijah was taken up to heaven on a chariot on fire. I pray the Holy Spirit will bring His fire on us. Helping us walk deeper in Christ. Seeing people coming to know Jesus. Seeing lives changed, addictions broken, marriages brought back from the ashes; seeing lives transformed and made Vital again! It’s so great to see Jesus still lives in the hearts of men.
Let’s join together men, going deeper and on fire. Allow the Holy Spirit to light you up. No longer living one foot in and one foot out. It’s time to take up arms and be the Vital Men He is calling us to be. Live a Vital Life, and stay the course in all you do.
Strength and Courage,
Man in The Red Bandana
“What would you do in the last hour of your life? Where would you be? Who would remember you? What would it look like? Maybe it would look like this. . .”
The first lines of a recently aired ESPN short documents Welles Crowther, the former Boston College lacrosse player who in the events of 9/11 more than a decade ago led people to safety, opens with the narrator’s somber tone. His father Jefferson continues,
“A symbol of absolutely the most pure form of compassion and love. No greater love hath one than to lay down his life for his fellow man. It’s all right here in this red bandana for me.”
John 15:13 [NLT]
13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
When Welles was 6 years old his father handed him two handkerchiefs, one white that he folded and stuffed in his son’s shirt pocket, the other a red bandana that he tucked in his jeans. His father explained, “Now Welles, this white one’s for show, here’s a bandana and that’s for blow.” Over time, the bandana would become the boy’s calling card, always having it and never spotted without.
As he grew older, his passions became split between competitive sport (lacrosse and hockey) and helping people (becoming a junior firefighter at 16). He was talented, but he also possessed the natural instincts of a leader. His teammates nominated him ‘Captain’ of the hockey team. His selflessness was summed up in his quote for the high school yearbook, “There is no ‘I’ in team.” Despite his accomplishments at the high school level that had earned him a Division scholarship, his college teammates described him as someone who “had to scrap and fight for everything” lacking the size and athleticism of his opposition.
Originally pursuing a career on Wall Street post-graduation, Crowther felt called not long into his new occupation to shift gears and instead follow his dream of becoming a New York City firefighter. Before that could happen, Welles, who worked in the World Trade Center South Tower as an equities trader, was at his desk when Flight 175 crashed.
Amidst the chaos, surrounded by the dead and injured, Ling Young who was left dazed by the explosion heard a voice, “’I found the stairs. Follow me. Only help the ones you can help.’ It’s the way he said it and we just got up, we followed.”
The man led those who were able down seventeen floors to where a team of fire fighters prepared to escort the group the rest of the way down. He did not join them further on the descent, instead returning back to where he’d originally met the injured. A woman in the tower recalled how the man moved swiftly from individual to individual offering assistance in any way possible. He shouted a command, “anyone who can stand, stand now. If you can help others, do so.” He led the group to the stairs and ascended once again. Then, the tower collapsed.
Months later, eye witness accounts detailed a man who heroically shouted commands and sought to set-up triage for the victims he could. Nameless, a distinct characteristic distinguished this man, his red bandana. Though his parents still grieved for the son they’d lost too soon, they were comforted as his father put it, “to know that Welles, in a figurative sense, took off his trader hat and put it on the table, picked up his helmet, his firefighter’s helmet, and went to work.”
John 10:18 [NLT]
18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”
In 2006, Welles Crowther was posthumously named a New York City Firefighter. Today, you’ll find reflections of ‘the man in the red bandana’ in the Nyack, New York Hockey Club, Boston College’s Annual Red Bandana 5k, and in a photo in Ling Young’s living room.
Set a Fire Down in Your Soul,
Rinaldi, T. (2014, September 10). Man in The Red Banadana. Retrieved September 12, 2104, from http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=11505494