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Strength and Courage

Michael

Tried, Tested and Tempered… Praise God!

I had drafted this week’s commentary and had it ready to post.  However, as He does on occasion, God brought something else to my attention and has compelled me to share it instead.

I preface what I am about to address with a statement;  I have had a fairly good and reasonably easy life.  In comparison to a great many I know, mine has been an easy row to hoe.  So, with that said, today’s is a commentary based in observation and scriptural application, not one born of personal experience.

We had a guest speaker tonight at church.  A gentleman by the name of Jeff Stultz, from North Carolina came to share his personal testimony and give us a glimpse into the path he has traveled in this life.

Before hand, he stopped by the Harley Shop and I was privileged to have an opportunity to spend a brief but rewarding time getting to know a bit about and share some things with him.  For the sake of space, I will not go into great detail, let me just say, Jeff has lived a very dangerous, difficult and tragic life, a great deal of which was his own doing.  His testimony can be found at www.motorcyclemissionary.com, and I would strongly encourage you to read it.

I’ve known a number of people that have walked a path very similar to Jeff’s.  People who have lived lives of addiction, violence, crime, selfcenteredness and destruction.  I’ve known people who have been on the receiving end of people living as Jeff lived.  I’ve known people who have lived through lives of struggle and heartache, told and untold horrors,  by no fault of their own.  My wife, bless her heart, comes immediately to my mind. Whatever the circumstances surrounding the pain and suffering, it’s tragic.  Though, not having experienced anything even remotely comparable, I can scarcely imagine what it is like.  My heart goes out to them.  I want to say that’s horrible and no one should ever have to endure a life like that.  

As we talked, I found my thoughts drifting to another perspective.  I found myself praising God for walking Jeff down the road He did.  I certainly would never wish for anyone to go through and put others through what Jeff did.  I would never want to see anyone go through any of the multitude of anguish I know others have endured.  Yet, praise God that those people did.  

As Jeff and I conversed about that perspective, drawing from memory he immediately recited Genesis 50:20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. (NKJV)  There’s our reason for praise!  Though we would never want to see someone afflicted in such ways, nor if we’re being honest, choose to be plagued with such, but… what if they or we never?

If Jeff or so many others had not been walked down the road God had set forth for them, been tried, tested and tempered by fire, He could not use them for the work He had prepared for them beforehand.  How many people have been brought to the foot of the cross by the witness that Jeff and so many others testify to?  Through baptism by fire, how mighty are these testimonies of restoration, endurance, God’s eternal grace and His miraculous hands of healing?!  

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Whether our choices led us down the path or the path was directed by circumstances beyond our control, there is peace in the knowledge that God holds the map.  Though it maybe painful, unfair, even horrific, through faith in God we can praise Him for it, it’s effect on us and the fruit that He would have it produce.  We each have our own stories and men and women like these have been purposed by none other than God Himself, to reach those who could not be reached by people who’ve walked paths similar to mine.  Praise God for that!!!  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

 

Testify

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  John 18:37

How many lies do you tell in a day?  How many do you believe?  Most of us would say that we try not to lie at all on any given day.  However, when we ignore or avoid the truth on any given issue, spread rumors and half truths about people, or would rather have someone believe something better about us than what is reality, then we are in fact living a lie.  Some may say that little white lies and half-truths are no big deal as they don’t hurt anyone or that they are done to protect someone, but in fact they promote a reality which is false.  When people are caught in life changing scandals, they never started out as such, but began as small compromises which grew into much more.  We should ask, Where have I compromised the truth in my life?

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

Just watch the news for a day and you will learn quickly that it is human nature to cover our mistakes and weaknesses as well as to promote or even exaggerate our strengths.  Relying on and living out a false reputation is nothing more than living a lie.  Do you strive for honesty in all your business interactions, and in your professional as well as personal life?  The only way to never get caught in a lie, is not to tell one.  You never have to cover your tracks or worry about being discovered.  I often say, that no matter the issue, the truth comes out in the end.  Whether in this lifetime or on judgement day, the truth will be revealed.  Does that give you comfort?

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  1 John 1:8

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  James 5:16

Recently, I’ve been listening to a sermon series on Creation vs. Evolution and always find it interesting how easy it can be to persuade others when only part of a story is told.  We can find some evidence to support a theory and then extrapolate that to cover everything, when there is little foundation for it to stand.  When we believe and give credence to false theories and philosophies in our lives, we are in fact testifying to what is false.  I once heard someone say that if you can believe the first verse of the bible, you can believe all of it, and if you can’t, then you may have trouble with the rest of it as well.  Do you believe the whole Word of God?  How do you pick and choose what to believe?

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.  1 John 1:6

So, where do you stand?  Do you stand for truth and what is right?  Do you seek that in all areas of your life and live it out as best you can?  If you struggle in any area with this, ask the One who stands for all truth to guide you, and He surely will!

Truth in Christ,
Clark

The Battle

2 Samuel 23:9 Next in rank among the Three was Eleazar son of Dodai, a descendant of Ahoah. Once Eleazar and David stood together against the Philistines when the entire Israelite army had fled.

If you were in the battle of your life and everyone else has abandoned you, who would stay with you?  How did David lead Eleazar that would cause him to fight as two against a whole army?  How did David care in such a way that Eleazar would rather die himself than watch his leader, his friend die and he live?  The depth of David’s character and leadership I feel is so underrated.  David did not have some angelic experience or burning bush promising victory, he just refused to retreat.  There is no guaranteed outcome just two men of war who refuse to retreat.  I could be seen as arrogant or wasteful for a king to risk his life for a single battle.  

Where do you feel alone in your battle?  Where do you feel the odds are stacked against you?  What seems to keep sucking your attention and you have so many other things to focus on?  Where do you feel alone in the battle?

If you are David or Eleazar, it would be easy to think God has abandoned you for the circumstances you find yourself in.  Or at least that is how normal people think.  The battle with horrible odds of success and more against him that for him…  What if the battle, trial, or pain was actually God’s set up?  Set up to fail maybe, 2 against an army sounds like a fairly tale or a bad story with a worse ending…

1 Samuel 23:10 He killed Philistines until his hand was too tired to lift his sword, and the Lord gave him a great victory that day.

Wouldn’t we all like a great story like this to tell our friends and family?  We face incredible odds with no chance of success and we worked so hard that we could not stand any longer and we overcame!  We all like those stories but we do not like that set up.  For a great victory we have to first have a great battle.  We do not like the battle.  They are messy, they hurt, there are casualties.  So again what battle are you facing?  Are you trying to pray it away like God doesn’t want it there?  What if God has allowed this great battle to be your great set up for a great story of overcoming?  No one gives David and Eleazar the credit for the battle, of course it is the Lord who gave them victory.  How often did God set up what seems to be an easy loss to actually be a win?  Why not you? Why not now?

The God who led you TO it will now lead you THROUGH IT! His character can be trusted and promises are true! Run to the battle and fight until you cannot hold up your sword

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Teachability

Growing up school was pretty easy for me. Most subjects came naturally, and I could breeze through with minimal effort. Math, however, was a massive exception. No matter how much I tried math always seemed completely incompressible (especially when random letters and symbols got throw into the mix). Because I typically did so well in school, and felt that “being smart” was a big part of my identity, I never wanted to ask for help. I felt that being smart meant being able to do things without help, so I refused to getting the extra teaching and assistance I really needed. I got through the minimum amount of math I needed to go to college (with the lowest grades of any classes I took), and then went to elaborate lengths to take the absolute minimum amount of math in college. Quite surprisingly, I did substantially better in math in college, even though the material was much harder. The reason? Well, I was actually excited to ask for help, because the person I got to ask was a brilliant and incredibly good looking (dare I say hot?) senior math major (who I’ve now been happily married to for 12 years). Because I was willing to be teachable I came to understand the concepts, and succeeded at a much higher rate then I could have ever dreamed.

The more I look at us as Christians I think we have a severe teachability problem (myself included). We don’t want anyone to tell us what to do, offer us a new perspective, challenge our ideas, broaden our horizons, or push us to go deeper. Somewhere along the line we’ve come to see getting advice as some form of weakness. Yet, the Bible is very clear that we are to always be open to challenges, new ideas, conviction, and teaching. Let me give us a few examples:

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. Proverbs 9:9

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. Proverbs 12:1

I personally love the straightforwardness of Proverbs 12:1! If we are not willing to be listen, be taught, and even be corrected, how can we truly grow into the disciples God needs us to be? I really encourage all of us to take some time today to reflect how teachable we may, or may not be. If you find yourself to not be open to the instruction of God and others think about why that is, and start making changes to be more open to Godly teaching. The more teachable we are the more impact we can make for the Kingdom. 

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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