Burning Obstacles

There is a scene in 1 Kings 19 that has long challenged me. The prophet Elijah has been standing up and proclaiming the truth about God for quite awhile, but he has reached a breaking point. Seeking refuge in a cave he cries out to God: I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too. 1 Kings 19:14

God responded to his cry by laying out a plan for him. The Lord said to him, Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there… anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 1 Kings 19:15-16

Elijah followed these instructions, finding Elisha farming. Knowing that he is recruiting for a position with an extremely high probability of painful death Elijah adopts a brilliant recruiting tactic: he walks up to Elisha, throws his cloak on him (thus declaring him the Prophet), and walks away. A dazed Elisha ran after Elijah, saying he had many things to do before he could consider leaving his farm. Elijah challenges him with the phrase: what have I done to you?, insinuating that he can go and say his goodbyes, but that he must quickly follow the calling God has bestowed on him. Elisha takes this call seriously: he kills his oxen and uses his plow as the firewood on which to cook them. He quite literally burned his career and livelihood to follow God’s calling.

I think all of us Christ followers find ourselves in either the position of Elijah or Elissa at some point.

Elijah: we get overwhelmed by the ministry we are asked to do. We don’t have enough time, get tired of the conflicts, fail to see the fruit, feel ill-equipped, and more. Quite simply, we want to throw up our hands and give up. When we encounter these feelings we, like Elijah before us, need to express our feelings to God. Ask God for advice, and be ready to follow His leading. In this case God lays out a plan for Elijah, and calls Elisha to assist him. We too need to seek God’s advice and be willing to seek out others who can minister with us.

Elisha: I’m sure all of us have been asked to serve in some sort of ministry, but we’ve been reluctant to do so. We make excuses such as: “when I have more time, there must be someone better then me, etc.” When we feel God’s call however, we need to have an attitude that more resembles Elijah. We need to burn the things keeping us from serving God, and trust that God has a plan that is greater then ours. Even more so, we need to trust that God will be with us every step of the way, guiding us to serve in His name.

Failing Men – Rising

Isaiah 60:1New International Version (NIV)

The Glory of Zion

60 “Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

The prophet Isaiah called for Jerusalem to wake up. A new day is rising for Israel. The light of the sun was hot, but he was talking about the glory of God shining on his city.

I have had the opportunity recently to travel to Israel and see the sun rise over Jerusalem. Without a doubt you have the keen sense knowing that God still has his hand on the city. Like any city it goes about its day, but this city still follows God and his decrees.

Without a doubt the people of Jerusalem and all of Israel who is Jewish believe that there is a God, but the sadness that I felt in my heart is they still do not recognize Jesus to be the one true Messiah. They are still waiting and seeking.

Often times I see us in America still doing the same thing. People will say, “Oh, I believe in God.” But they fail to see Jesus, God’s Son. Jesus was the one who was chosen to take our place on a hill called Golgotha, the Place of the Skull.

I visited that location. It is a horrific site. Today a bus parking lot sits in front of it, but the images of the crucifixion are still there if you ask the Holy Spirit for Kingdom eyes.

All but one of the disciples failed Jesus at his death. They ran, hid, and wept. But the story does not stop there. These same men, all but one, chose to rise and faced their failure. How about you today? Have you been running? Are you running from what Jesus has called you to be? Today is the day of rising, men. Let’s not hold on to how we have failed, but choose to rise along side King Jesus!

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

This coming week we will be starting a new teaching series, ‘Failing Men – Rising’. We will look at the lives of the twelve disciples. We will see how their lives impacted the world even though they failed Jesus before his crucifixion.

I believe, men, that we find strength in these men as they as they had to face their failures, just like we do. I always remind men who have felt they have failed in life that it is not how we fail, but it is all in how we ride back up.

Do not miss our final weeks together in Vital Men.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Draw Odds

Genesis 28:15 (NKJV)  Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”

The application deadlines for western big game hunts have closed or are soon to.  This is an exciting and fun time for me.  It’s the dawn of a new season, new prospects and renewed anticipation of drawing an ever elusive, coveted tag.  I invest a good deal of time, energy and resources in researching the game I hope to pursue this coming fall, the states I would like to hunt, the units within the state, then down to the nooks and crannies within those units.  It’s necessary, tedious, frustrating and wrought with angst, but fun at the same time.  I have completed our apps for Elk, Mule Deer and Bighorn Sheep.  From this point, no amount of worrying or second guessing will change the outcome ahead.  It’s just hurry up and wait.  

Honestly, the odds of my wife and I drawing even one of the tags we applied for are extraordinarily slim.  They are all highly sought after, coveted tags.  That’s alright, though.  If we draw one of these low odd lotteries, great!  If we don’t, no worries, I have a back up.  I will purchase a guaranteed over the counter tag and head west all the same.  

Each of us knows someone, once was our self and some still are willing to rest all of our hopes, dreams, desires and goals on those low odds, highly coveted tags.  How many walk through life asking the question,”what if you’re wrong?  What if this really is all there is?” So, if that’s the case, even understanding the extremely low odds, that’s what they are willing to hang their hope on!  That’s crazy!  I won’t rest the hopes of my hunting season on tags with greater odds than that, but they’ll hang the hope of their eternity on it?!  I want a guarantee!  There are millions, billions of people walking through life applying for tags that aren’t going to come through.  Yet, if they but choose to, they can head elsewhere, stroll up to the counter and be guaranteed one!  

I want to head west and bow hunt every fall, if able, and am perfectly confident that I can.  Why, because I know where to go and be assured the opportunity.  I’m going to spend eternity in paradise with my Lord and Father.  Again, I am perfectly confident of that.  Why, because I know where to go and He has assured me that opportunity… a guaranteed tag!!!  Have a blessed weekend!    

John 14:6 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me. 

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

 

Remember

The older I get, the more I enjoy history, especially decades and experiences that occurred before I was born and that I did not experience first-hand.  I regularly lean about historical people and events that I have never heard of before through references I hear or an article I see.  A few weeks ago, my brother posted an article about a man I had never heard of who almost single handedly averted World War 3.  Just when I thought I had seen it all, something else comes along to remind me that people find new and creative ways to do both great things as well as stupid things that have been done for centuries.  There are several variations on the phrase “Those wo cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Essentially, if we (as a society or individually) cannot learn from our mistakes, we will surely make them again.  Do you prefer to learn from your own mistakes, or those of others? 

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.  Romans 15:4

I remember a fair amount from history class in school, but was never ‘formally educated’ much beyond the Civil War because the school year ended before we could finish the book into the 20th century.  Fortunately, I have since picked up on most of the last century from other sources.  Even though some of the references in Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t start the Fire’ were foreign to me, I had the capacity to look them up.  Is it the same with scripture?  I regularly work with young kids in Awana, where the primary goal is to teach kids scripture.  I am regularly impressed with the ability of several children to learn it quickly, as this was always somewhat of a challenge for me, even in Junior High.  We are often learning much and have the capacity to do much more, so the question is ‘are we and the next generation focusing on the right things?’    

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.  Psalm 103:11-12

I heard a question earlier this week that asked whether or not your memories from childhood were mostly positive or negative.  I have to say that most everything I recall I think was good.  So either the bad experiences were not that bad in time, or I have mostly forgotten them.  I remember fighting with my siblings, but mostly over trivial things.  I still love them today.  So are there things we should forget?  When someone wrongs us and sins against us, it is often difficult, but important to forgive them.  Just as God forgave us when we didn’t deserve it, so we ought to act the same toward others.  When someone regularly sins against us, it may be difficult to trust them as much in the future, but God often gives us the knowledge and strength to do what we cannot do on our own. 

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22

Courage in Christ,

Clark

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