Thriving in a Drought: Use What You Have

Part 3 of a four part series based on 1 Kings 17 

Throughout my life I’ve rarely been satisfied by what I have. I may have had a Nintendo, but I wanted the latest game. I may have been a good student, but I wanted to be as smart as someone else. My ministry may have been going well, but I really wished it could be a little more like the church over there. Now, the positive aspect is that a hunger to do better can drive us to better develop our skills, getting the most out of our lives and abilities. Drive and motivation are certainly good things. However, I sometimes are longings to be like others, or to achieve certain goals we set for ourselves, lead us to miss something very important, and that is what we already have in our lives.

As we continue to follow the ministry of the prophet Elijah I am very struck by the following incident. For months Elijah has been living by a stream being fed by birds. FINALLY God tells him he can move on and live in a house in a village. When he arrives he discovers that his new caretaker has only the most minimal of resources: a little oil, a little flour, and some sticks.

“Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” 1 Kings 17:11-14

The woman thought there was little she could do because she had so little, but Elijah taught her to trust the Lord to bless and use what she did have. Friends, I think that’s one of the most important lessons we can learn in life. Instead of lamenting that we can’t sing like someone else, get a yield from our field like our neighbor, materially provide for our family like others, or preach like our favorite preacher, we need to fully trust God with what we do have. What gifts, skills, possessions, and passions do you have? Are you really trusting God to bless and use them? Instead of lamenting all that you lack, start rejoicing in what you have, and begin fully entrusting God to use it, as he used just a few sticks, a little oil, and a pinch of flour.

Thankful for My Spouse

Ephesians 5:25New International Version (NIV)

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

What is a husband’s responsibility to love his wife well? I think there are 3 components that are crucial for loving our wives well, to love her without selfishness, to love her without reservation, to love her without condition, and to love her as Christ loved the church unto death. (see John 13:1)

It is easy to fall into a comfortable pattern with your spouse and allow ingratitude to settle in. We take for granted to express that, “I love you.” or “You look beautiful today.” Show that you are thankful to have her as a partner in your life.

We try to remember to show our love on anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, or some other special occasion. But how often do we simply tell our spouse, “I am thankful for you.”

I am thankful that my wife loves Jesus more than me. I am thankful when my wife’s life choices do not point to me, but point to Jesus. I am thankful when my wife’s love for Christ is transparent and real in her life. It makes me truly thankful to see that in my spouse’s life. When your spouse loves Jesus more than you, you are the recipient of a spouse who looks at you through the eyes of Jesus and will love you unconditionally. She is your support and helper. She is a treasure.

Men, this is a call to show thankfulness and gratitude to your spouse. Step into the moments with vulnerability and show your wife just how thankful you truly are to have her in your life.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Diligent Pursuit

With the demands of the archery shop this fall, I hadn’t been able to get to the field as much as I would have liked.  However, this week I took off Tuesday and Wednesday, combined with my regular Sunday and Monday off, I was able to spend some quality time in pursuit of a mature whitetail buck.  

The timing could not have been better, or the script more exciting.  After, church on Sunday, my wife, my friend Joey and I were headed to stands.  It had been a few years since Joey and I had this opportunity, so we struck out together, while my wife headed to one of her favorite stands on the east side of the farm.  Joey and I were headed to a seam in a hayfield that would permit us to enter undetected.  As, we started into the seam, I spied a giant mainframe 10, directly in our path, tending a doe.  We hit the deck!  I worked my binoculars from my pack, inched up and took a peak.  Yeah… he’s huge!  I gotta try.   I crawled backward to get into a line that offered some concealment.  Joey, provided over-watch as I proceeded to claw my way across the hayfield.  With Joey’s guidance, I managed to make my way to within 33 yards of the monarch undetected.  With him quartering away unawares, I began to draw.  In that instant, I saw a flash to my right, glanced over… busted!  The doe caught me and took off.  I redirected my focus to the buck, who, unfortunately was following suit.  Four seconds… that’s what I needed to seal the deal… four seconds.  

I made my way back to Joey, where we shared our exhilaration over what had just happened.  What a charge!  And, we still had our whole afternoon hunt to enjoy!

We saw the buck a short time later, cruising a hayfield across the draw.  To say I hoped he would cruise by my stand would be an understatement.  He didn’t.

The next morning on her way to work, my wife spotted him cruising not far from where I’d seen him the day before.  Due to other obligations, I was not able to get back until Tuesday.  That evening found me in the same area again.  There was amble action and opportunity, but he didn’t make an appearance.  When I was driving back to the house, I came up on him coming out of some standing corn.  “That’s it! I know what he’s doing!”  

My full focus is locked on this buck.  In all my years of bowhunting, I’ve only targeted a specific deer 2 other times, now we have #3.  Tuesday evening, I analyzed the terrain between the areas we had seen him.  A clear and logical travel route began to emerge.  Wednesday, I set a new stand in the area I felt could most likely yield an encounter.  The location is great, but the stand not so much.  It’s rather exposed, making movement nearly impossible, but manageable if appropriately measured. The scene is set, now to wait.  

I sat on stand that day for 12 hours.  I saw dozens of deer, had numerous opportunities to fill my tag, including a very nice mature buck, but not the one I was after.  I’m focused now.  Anything less would feel like settling.  It’s not often a bowhunter is presented with an opportunity such as this.  I fell short on the first attempt, but I’m not done yet.

Over the past few days of purposed, focused, determined pursuit and preparation I couldn’t help but compare what I was doing with my focus and pursuit of the Lord. “Am I this focused and purposeful when I comes to pursuing and knowing Jesus?  Do I study scripture with the same veracity that I studied the aerials of the farm?”  At times, yes, but full on continued focus, no would have to be the answer. 

If I am able to put everything together and harvest this deer, it would be nothing short of a miracle.  If not for the fortunate encounter on Sunday, I wouldn’t know that he even existed.  I’m focused now, but I haven’t done much leading up to now.  I depend on a long developed knowledge of the area and the animals, never really knowing the exact make up of the bucks from year to year and just trust that a nice deer will cruise by and an opportunity presents itself.  Most the guys I know that consistently tag big mature bucks dedicate themselves to that end.  They are focused nearly always, and put in the work.  The result is they are consistently rewarded. 

That kind of focus on God and His kingdom is consistently rewarded.  If you want to be consistently successful, you have to be consistently focused.  In order to wake us up and drive our determination, He’ll occasionally appear to us as a monster 10 point in a hayfield.  And, that works… obviously.  Question is, do you want to see that mack daddy once in a blue moon, or every season?!  Have a blessed weekend!

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

 

Mad Men

What ticks you off?  Is there something that people do, or a specific person does, that gets under your skin and causes you to get upset?  There are often things that may cause even a well-tempered Christian to lose their cool from time to time.  For me, it usually emerges when I am driving and someone else is not driving the way I would, whether that be going too fast or too slow, or not crossing at an intersection the way I think they should.  Now, I know that not everyone drives the way I do, or would I even expect them to, but I am still often surprised by how quickly I hear critical words come from my mouth when I am behind the wheel.  If these or other things that cause us to quickly anger should not be, how should we respond? 

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.  Proverbs 29:11

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  Proverbs 15:1

When someone opposes us, it is within our human nature to become upset.  How often have you become angry at a car, a computer, or piece of machinery and said something to the extent of ‘Come on, work the way you are supposed to!’  Or we look for someone to blame and become the focus of our anger when things don’t turn out the way we would like.  Even when there seems to be no one to blame, we may tend to get angry at God for when things do not go our way.  Have you ever watched the response of a parent when they ask a child to do something, and the prompt reply is ‘No!’  Maybe you have been there yourself, but it does not usually end well.  How do you think God responds when we act the same toward Him?

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Colossians 3:8

Have you ever been angry…really angry to the point you were yelling at someone or started scheming of ways to get back at them?  If we let our anger continue unchecked, the ultimate response is wanting to harm someone, even to the point of murder.  Jesus illustrated that fact in his condemnation not of just murder, but the anger which leads to murder.  In your anger, have you ever done or said something you later regretted?  We likely all have.  The key is to learn from our negative experience and to identify the things that triggered our anger and to find alternate ways to respond. 

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  James 1:19-20

The bible is not lacking in instruction about anger and is often grouped along with other sins and contrasted to the Fruit of the Spirit.  The only time it was illustrated in a positive way, as righteous anger, when Jesus became upset about the money changers making his Father’s house a den of thieves.  Getting upset about the things that make God angry is warranted, but most of our grievances do not fit this category.  Most of our anger is selfish anger that occurs when we do not get our way.  Through scripture and even in my experience, the greatest cure for anger is forgiveness.  It is not easy, nor in our human nature to give others what they do not deserve, but it is in the nature of God.  So when you forgive and bless someone instead of curse them when they cut you off in traffic, it ends the anger that wants to well up within you.  Try it.  Just as God so often forgives us when we do not deserve it, we ought to act in the same manner toward one another. 

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Ephesians 4:31-32

 

Blessings in Christ,
Clark

How to Pray?

I was talking with a staff member at my church this last week and they shared how they are active in their Bible and worship, but prayer has been difficult to add. He works for a church and struggles with prayer.  If that is true in him, it is true with many other people.  

One of the things that make it hard is when we hear professional prayers.  We go to church, watch it online, tv, or the radio and we hear people pray these great, eloquent, big word prayers.  These prayers are intimidating.  I have a 4 year Bible degree and have been a pastor for over a decade.  I will hear people pray and they use words I do not understand and at times feel less spiritual.  

In Jesus time, professional prayers would stand a street corners and show how great they were and how they obeyed the law. Here is what Jesus said about that…

Matthew 6:“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 

Then he tells how to pray in a very simple way…

But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

So how do you pray?  Here is what Jesus said…

Pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,
    may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
    as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,
12 and forgive us our sins,
    as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,
    but rescue us from the evil one.

It was less about praying these exact words and more then meaning.  Jesus start by reminding us that God is a Father who is Holy.  If we see him as a father it reminds us that we are his kid!  That is a great way to approach prayer as a kid who has a great Dad!!!!  Then He leads us to pray about His kingdom.  This causes us to think less about building our kingdom and joining Kingdom.  This is your mission, your calling, and God’s will for your life! Be about and build His Kingdom. After knowing He is a good Father and we are all about His kingdom, we now can ask with right motive for Him to supply our needs because He cares about our needs, wants to forgive us, and lead us towards freedom. 

  1. Remember who He is and who we are
  2. Be about His Kingdom
  3. Ask Him to meet our needs
  4. Ask forgiveness from a loving Dad
  5. Ask to stay in freedom

This is how Jesus taught us to pray.  This is a great way to start to pray. It doesn’t have to be pretty, full of big words, or even very long.  Think about going to spend time with a Dad who wants to help you know who you really are and wants the best version of life possible.

Go spend time with Dad in prayer!!!

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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