Snow Day

So, I’ve had several opportunities over the past couple weeks to get in my ‘winter workout’ as I like to call it.  Its like circuit training but involves pushing and shoveling snow, scraping ice, clearing off vehicles, and if enough snow, even slinging around the snowblower.  These may not be everyone’s favorite activities to go through, given the time they take, but for some to function and get to work, etc, it is a necessary task.  In fact, some don’t bother with this and instead drive around with piles of snow on their vehicles and try not to get stuck in snow covered driveways, but either way, it can be an inconvenience.  What is your attitude when you see 4” of freshly fallen snow cover everything?  Does your mind immediately go to what all you have to do to get things ‘back to normal’, grumble to others so they will appreciate all the work you do, or just sit back and appreciate the lovely scenery?  When you hear school is canceled and you get a snow day, do you still get excited like when you were in grade school, or do you start to dread the day instead?

He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’   So that everyone he has made may know his work, he stops all people from their labor.  Job 37:6-7

Whether it is too much snow on a cold Winter day, or a downpour when you were planning an outdoor event, sometimes our plans get shelved and we have to adapt to what we have before us in any given moment.  Its also cold and flu season and I’ve heard several people cancel plans because they were dealing with sickness in their homes – and are nice enough not to share it with everyone.  So, how do you respond when things don’t always go the way you planned them?  It can be a humbling experience when you put a lot of work into something to have it go different than what you had planned.  It also reminds us that ultimately, we are not always in charge of what goes on from day to day.  They say it is pointless to complain, because it does us no good anyway.  So why do we do it?  What is your response when someone you care about starts whining about their situation to you?

But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  1 Timothy 6:6-7

What should be our response when things don’t go our way?  If something we did caused our current predicament, it should be a learning opportunity.  I don’t know how many times I’ve said this past month, ‘I don’t think I’ll do it that way again.’  But when faced with a change of plans, how can we make the best of it?  I didn’t always drop everything and just go play in the snow this past week, but I did find opportunities to try to enjoy parts of it.  I had some young helpers who seemed to enjoy assisting me push snow, even if it wasn’t always in the right direction.  I had a slight sense of satisfaction and thankfulness when I made it to my destination after sliding around town and not getting into an accident.   I appreciated a warm house, my health, a job, and my family a little more when I realized how things would be without them.  In general, I think a thankful attitude goes a long way in dealing with any adversity in life, no matter how big or small it may be.  Its easy to complain, but its always better to be thankful!

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Yours in Christ,
Clark

Prayer of Jabez

I am not very religious and do not like prayer on repeat, but I have learned that praying scripture is powerful and can be done in a way that is not at all religious.  Today I want to share one of my favorite scriptures to pray.  It is the prayer of Jabez.  This is in the middle of a geneology.  You know the scripture we usually just skip or breeze through.  In the middle of the list of first borns comes this…

1 Chronicles 4:There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful.10 He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.

 

  1. Pray of Blessing

Here I ask God to give me favor.  I need favor with men, in my finances, and as I do what God has called me to.  I ask God to bless my finances as I want to honor Him how I spend the resources He gave me.  I also ask for wisdom beyond my years.  I am a young man but do not want to walk in the wisdom of a young man.  So I pray this, “Give me more than I need that I might be a blessing to others.”  God knows how much I need, I want my heart to align with His why which is to be a blessing to others.

2. Pray for Influence

Here I ask God to expand my territory.  I pray, “Fill my heart with vision and purpose from you.”  I do not want vision and purpose of my own ambition or from the values of the world.  When you meet a man who has found purpose birthed in conviction from God’s presence, he is different than other men.  He sees life different. His wife looks at him different. He has a drive that is not tainted with pride but making a difference in the lives of others.

3. Pray for His Presence

Deuteronomy 31:Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”  The reason we do not walk in fear or discouraged is because he goes before us.  He is already where He wants us to be.  He is also with us.  He is not only the God of our future but the God who is in our present.  He knows you and sees you.  He knows your heart is bent toward fear and discouragement, which is why over 365 times in the Bible you will read “Do not be afraid.” It is not because the circumstances were not worthy of fear, but because the God that was with them is greater than their circumstances. So I pray, “What you have called me to is bigger than me.  God would you lead me to where your hand is leading me.”  I want to go to the future that he designed.

4. Pray for Protection

I have an enemy that does not want my to know God and fulfill my purpose.  In fact he wants to steal my purpose and kill my knowing God intimately.  It is what he fears the most.  So I pray, “Strengthen me and protect me from the attack of the enemy.”

So I encourage you to pray this prayer everyday!

Helping People Live a Better Story

Brandon Sereg
@brandonsereg

 

Real Prayer

In Jesus’ day prayer had come to be quite misunderstood and misused, especially by a group of people known as the Pharisees. Jesus relates how it was common to see supposedly pious men praying long, elaborate, and very visible prayers. The problem with their prayers was not that they were public, but rather that they were self-serving. It would not have been unheard of to hear a prayer like this:
“Oh most high and glorious God, thank you for creating me. Thank you for my great intelligence, my extreme piety, my heroic leadership, and my astonishing appearance. Thank you that I am not like Frank, Harry, Sally and Bob, who do not follow you with nearly the passion I do.”


While that may seem like a far-out example, it’s not far from what was happening in synagogues in Jesus’ day. Jesus actually shared a similar example in Luke 18:9-14. He also shared that many people had made prayer a highly complex affair. The felt that a good prayer necessitated big words, great length, and demonstrated how deeply educated the person praying was. Jesus rejected this thinking.

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:5-8


The big point Jesus was making is that prayer is a relational conversation between us and God, the one who created us, sustains us, and saves us. Prayer is a time when we come before our Holy Father and share whatever is on our mind. In doing this we not only connect with God, but we give Him great honor. Rick Warren once said that “the greatest gift we can give somebody is our attention, because to give attention is to give of your life, and you can’t take that back.” Giving our time to someone is a permanent gift, and thus places it is one of the number one ways we can show honor to someone. My question to all of us is: are we truly connecting with God in prayer, and giving Him the honor He deserves? Or, are we making prayer a self-serving practice like many in Jesus’s day? Let us give God the honor He deserves by taking time daily to connect with Him in prayer, sharing our joys, our thanks, our sins, and our needs with Him.

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Burn the Ships on Addiction

1 Corinthians 10:13 New International Version (NIV)

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Burning the ship of addiction is easier said than done. I came from a home of alcoholic addiction. I have seen and lived 3 generations of men driven by alcohol. It will tear a family apart, scar lives, and regenerate itself in the next generation.

In order to burn the ship of addiction, you first have to realize you have a problem. My dad who was a 3rd generation alcoholic told me, “Until you have the gotta wanna, you will never overcome.” Addictions are only symptoms to a core problem in a life.

It is also not a disease. It is a sin, and it separates us from God. I have seen addictions rip families apart, bring divorce, and bring early death. It is a ship that travels with no rudder.

Addictions show themselves in our lives in many ways. The true starting point to overcoming is asking for help. Asking for help does not mean you are weak. It means you are asking for strength from the Lord. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 10:13. Jesus will provide the way to burn the ship of addiction in your life. Burn that ship in 2020.

Strength and Courage

Michael Sereg

 

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Contact Mike by emailing: mike.sereg@gmail.com