Little Things

What did you most look forward to today?  Maybe it is something special that you have planned for a while, or is it a small part of your everyday routine that brings you joy, or something else?  What motivates me each day, varies with what is going on and where I am in life.  When I was younger, I liked to fill my days with things and kept busy most of the time.  Now with work and kids taking up most of my time, I enjoy a few minutes of down time, quiet time in the Word, or even just a ‘free evening’ with nothing planned with the family.  Sometimes I look back on big trips and events and they may not live up to the hype, but I found I enjoyed the little surprises along the way even more.  What little things have you experienced that have grown to be a big part of your life? 

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech;  night after night they reveal knowledge.  Psalm 19:1-2

Sometimes we miss significant things when we are busy going somewhere or trying to get work done.  We don’t always stop to smell the roses, or appreciate what is right in front of us at any given moment.  Some call this mindfulness or just being aware of opportunities in any given moment.  Taking time to be thankful for what we have and appreciate the people and places around us, helps us to live with an attitude of gratitude and optimism in a world that can often be dark and discouraging.  Taking a moment to look up at the stars, explore the complexity in a simple plant, or watch a tiny bug make its way across the yard, gives us some time to examine our hearts and the motives for what drives us each day.  Taking time to consider why I’m doing what I’m doing in any given moment, helps us re-prioritize our lives to do more of what really matters and do away with what is meaningless.  To reach out more to others and fewer selfish things.  What is the most important thing you did so far this week?  Could you do more of that?

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.  Luke 16:10

Do any little things bother you and really get under your skin?  Maybe they seem insignificant at the time, but grow to be bigger issues the longer you ignore them.  Sometimes I ignore messes and other problems for a bit, but realize that I am going to have to deal with them eventually, and it will be easier to do sooner than later.  I had a friend who was canoeing a couple months ago and stepped on a twig in sandals, poking his foot.  He realized after a few days that the wound seemed to be getting worse and went to the doctor.  He was told that if he had let it go much longer without treatment, he may have lost his foot, or his life from the infection.  Little things can become big issues if they go unchecked in our lives. 

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  Matthew 17:20

Little things can quickly become big things, and can be to our benefit or demise, depending on how it is addressed.  May you find joy in the little blessings in your life today!

Yours in Christ,
Clark

Jesus… Safe or Savage?

God created man in His own image and man, being a gentleman, returned the favor- Mark Twain

Many of the men I meet put on a persona of strength and see themselves as weak.  They give into things they wish they didn’t… Not having the extra serving, getting up early to go on the run, engaging with their kids more instead of a tv, ordering something healthy, stopping at 1, not going to that website.  They compare themselves to men on tv whose job is to work out 4 hours a day.  

Then they see a classic pictures of Jesus where he is weak, wimpy, and passive. 

People make coffee mugs of Jesus Loves People, Turn the Other Cheek, Blessed are the Peacemakers
He also called the religious leaders “Broads of vipers” told them their father was the devil.

 Jesus grew up working construction with 80 lbs blocks. He was a mans man. He went to church one day and noticed how the people selling sacrifices where overcharging keeping salvation out of reach to the poor.  Jesus makes a whip, runs the money changers out of the church, and flips their tables.  He could not believe the church had been turned into a place of exploitation for profit and power.  That Jesus we often do not know what to do with.  

Once Jesus found a woman caught in the act of Adultery. She is clearly guilty. The law states she is deserving of death.  Jesus stands in front of her as a shield to the rocks, defending the sinner from the religious. The religious walk away and he tells her to stop living this lifestyle that led her here. That is straight savage.

Jesus was not safe.  He did not lead people to safe.  His followers left their families and businesses, were almost shipwrecked twice, kicked out of town, and almost joined Jesus on the cross.

In 1953, Billy Graham gathered people on the Washington lawn.  He went and took down the barriers between the black and white people, told the white users to leave them down or they could find someone else to lead the crusade. Martin Luther King JR had his iconic quotes, “I choose love, for hate is too great a burden” “I have been to the mountain…”  He had also gone to jail.  He was persecuted by those he was fighting against and those he was fighting for. 

I meet people all the time that say they want to be more like Jesus, and yet want to live safe lives.  They give safely, share their faith safely, lead their families safely, and ultimately they want a Jesus that is safe so they feel comfortable living safe, weak, passive lives.

Jesus was not safe, weak, or passive.   He was actually aggressive, intense, and unashamed. Jesus was savage.

I wonder how many men live unfulfilled lived because they see a Jesus that never existed. I wonder how many men whose hearts would come alive if they exchanged safe Jesus for savage Jesus. I wonder how many wives would come alive if these savage Jesus following men led their family into a faith that obeys when it doesn’t make sense. 

So what Jesus do you see? So what Jesus do you follow? safe or savage.  If the people who know you the best thought of Jesus based on the faith that you live, what Jesus would they see? Safe or Savage?

Live a Better Story

Brandon Sereg
@brandonsereg

But God!!!

Dwight Moody was born in 1837 to an extremely poor family. His father died when he was a child, leaving his mother to support a large family. Having no other recourse, she sent him off at a young age to work for his food, housing, and education. At 17 Dwight moved to Boston, where he was promptly turned down for dozens of jobs. He finally accepted a position at his uncle’s shoe store, on the condition that he attend church every week. While he followed this stipulation, let’s just say his enthusiasm for church was not exactly great. As his Sunday School teacher recounted:

“I can truly say that I have seen few persons whose minds were spiritually darker than was his when he came into my class; and I think that the committee of the Mount Vernon Church seldom met an applicant for membership more unlikely ever to become a Christian of clear and decided views of Gospel truth, still less to serve of any public usefulness.”

Yet, God began working in Dwight, and he soon became not only a believer, but a disciple. Despite lacking virtually every traditional skill of a pastor (and being only semi-literate) Moody began his ministry career. As he would later put it, he entered ministry with only a Bible and his character. Yet, over his time in ministry, he would become one of the leading evangelists in American history. Crowds of over 20,000 came to hear him preach, and hundreds of thousands were reached through his ministry. Owing to his own struggles with illiteracy he developed a wordless Bible to teach the gospel to the illiterate. This wordless Bible would be adapted by missionaries for use around the globe and has been used to reach MILLIONS of people with the gospel. Moody may not have had a lot of skills and gifts, but what he did have he fully used for God.

We see a similar lesson taught to the prophet Jeremiah:

I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.”  But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘but I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 1:4-8

I share all this because I often hear people share that they would serve God, BUT _______. They are too young, not intelligent enough, not a good speaker, not a good student, only a farmer/laborer/mechanic/etc. There always seems to be some but getting in the way of fully serving God. Yet, history and the Bible are chocked full of instances of God using people with limited gifts and abilities. And you know why that is? Because ALL humans have limited gifts and abilities. If we had to lack a “but” to qualify for ministry basically every Bible hero would have never taken up their role. What is important is not what we seem to lack (our but), but that we reach the conclusion that Dwight Moody and Jeremiah did, and use the what we do have to be a blessing.

How Long Will You Waiver?

1 Kings 18:21 New International Version (NIV)

21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

But the people said nothing.

Elijah makes his stand in front of King Ahab and the 850 prophets of Baal, and Asherah makes a choice this day. Which one will you choose? What a sight that had been on that day. One man went seemingly against the nation of Israel.

Not much has changed in the hearts of men. They waiver to be obedient to Christ or the ways of the world. One man stood alone. He believed in the miraculous, and out of that revival started in Israel.

At times it seems we can feel alone in the fight of our faith. We forget about the men around us who are standing and fighting, as well.

I am sure Elijah felt alone, and we know he faced depressing moments in his life. The key was he stayed the course and remained faithful to God. In that he heard the voice of God in a whisper, and he went to Heaven on a fiery chariot.

The enemy always wants to bring doubt and weaken our spirits, as well as, use the opinions around us to bring us down. Men, today is no greater day than now to stand. Even if it is just you in a crowd, at work, or standing in your faith. When we stand, others will come to know Christ by our faith in him. Follow God because he is our Savior and Lord.

Strength and Courage 

Michael

 

Basic Training

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Genesis 1:1

Whenever you begin a new job, you have to start somewhere.  Depending on your experience, you usually start by getting to know the basics of what you will be doing.  Begin with the simple day-to-day responsibilities and work your way to more advanced things from there.  If you have ever been in the military, you likely started with Basic Training, where you get shipped off to a training facility far from home and spend 10 weeks or so getting the basics of military life drilled into your head and body.  You learn how to get in shape, get along with strangers, clean and fire your weapon, and most importantly learn the chain of command and to follow orders from your superiors.  Granted, I have not been through the military basic training experience, but have heard much from my brother, wife, and other friends who have.  You learn a lot in a short amount of time.  Where would you struggle most with this today?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

If someone were to ask you what the basics of Christianity were, what would you say?  You may relate God, the story of creation, the Fall, Sin and the need for redemption, Jesus and the Crucifixion, and maybe a few other highlights.  You could go into detail on any number of these, but maybe when relating the big picture to someone who has never head it before, you have to start somewhere.  When I was growing up, almost weekly we said aloud the words to the Apostle’s Creed or the Nicene Creed, which sums up what we believe, and is still a good representation.  For centuries, small instructional books such as Luther’s Small Catechism or the Heidelberg Catechism have been used to help inform young believers of the basics of faith.  There are children’s bibles, study guides, and thousands of sermons available online, so we are not lacking for resources, but may not know the best place to start.  What else would you add to the basic Christian handbook?

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  Deuteronomy 6:4-5

What are the basics to Christian living?  Is there a summary of how we should live day to day as Christians?  Love one another and always seek to do good?  Are there things we should be doing every day as well?  If you ever spend time with a Christian family, you notice a few things they may do and not do that stand out.  I would propose 3 basic things each of us should be doing on a regular basis as Christians.  First, going to God in prayer daily is most beneficial, both individually and with others.  Second, we should be reading or listening to the Word as a constant reminder of how to live. Third, we should be meeting with other Christians regularly.  Having a mentor, or mentoring others is a great way to keep your spiritual live in constant check and to have someone to get feedback.  Having solid Christian friends or a pastor to go to with questions or concerns is a core part of developing community.  If we do these things regularly, we continue to grow and help others to do the same.  May you experience joy and blessings as you do!

 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  John 15:12-13

Yours in Christ,
Clark

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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