How to Change the World… Part 1

A man born a slave has no idea, he has a destiny of leading a nation into become a world super power. For hundreds of years, a nation hoped for the promise of God to come.  That promise was called “the promise land.”  A young man named Joshua has become the assistant to the legend in Moses.  Joshua has been a slave his whole life, until one year when a man named Moses led him and his whole nation to freedom.  Joshua saw God send plagues to bring the greatest nation to its knees.  He saw the Red Sea part and then crash on the greatest army.  He saw food appear out of nowhere every day.  

Joshua later leads Israel into the promise land and conquers the people living in the land decisively. He actually conquers 31 kings in 31 days.  Amazing.  I think all of us would love even a taste of that kind of success and leadership.

So I want to spend the next couple weeks talking with you about what Joshua did that set him up to make such a huge difference.

Exodus 33:It was Moses’ practice to take the Tent of Meeting and set it up some distance from the camp. Everyone who wanted to make a request of the Lord would go to the Tent of Meeting outside the camp.

Whenever Moses went out to the Tent of Meeting, all the people would get up and stand in the entrances of their own tents. They would all watch Moses until he disappeared inside.

11 Inside the Tent of Meeting, the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Afterward Moses would return to the camp, but the young man who assisted him, Joshua son of Nun, would remain behind in the Tent of Meeting.

The first thing I take away from Joshua is…

Joshua separated from the crowd.

Joshua knew God’s power and knew Moses knew God differently from the rest of Israel.  Joshua wanted something different and knew he had to live different.  His lifestyle was different.  We all know going with the crowd is easy, especially when it comes to God.  When you live different, you stand out and people notice.  This different make them naturally uncomfortable, which is why most people just go with the crowd. They are afraid of being different.  Joshua wanted to know the God who purchased his freedom and would live a lifestyle that invited God into who he became.

Joshua had different relationships.  Joshua spent his time with Moses, Caleb, and Aaron.   He did not spend his time with the complainers called Israel.  It is amazing how quickly being around a complainer that their negativity rubs off. Studies show we are the average of our 5 closest relationships.  So all of us should choose wisely. 

Lastly, Joshua separated from the crowd by living by different standards.  I will talk about this more in weeks to come, but the standards how what he ate, drank, talked about, spent time doing, were not normal.  

To change the world that we live in we have to first separate from the crowd.  Side note… if you have to remind someone you are separated from the crowd, you are not separate from the crowd.  

So what do you need to do this week to separate from the crowd?

Live a Better Story

Brandon Sereg

Red Letter Day Part 3: I am Thirsty

Today we are continuing our Lenten series on the final words of Jesus as he suffered and died on the cross. Today’s words come from John 19:28-29:  After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.

About six or seven years ago I decided to bike the High Trestle Trail near Ankeny. I had just bought a new carbon fiber bike, and was fairly convinced I was king of the world, so the 100-degree temperatures did not scare me. A friend had told me it was a 25-mile ride, so I planned accordingly. When I hit 15 miles, and was not near the end of the trail, I realized I had misinterpreted my friend. I thought he meant it was 25 miles roundtrip, while in reality its 25 miles out and another 25 back. At this point a wise person would have turned around, realizing they didn’t have enough water for a 50 mile trip on such a hot day. A stubborn and pride swollen fool, however, presses onward convinced of his might and invincibility. I eventually ran out of water on a section of the trail without any water sources. The experience of getting that thirsty and dehydrated is one I can do without experiencing again! I soon lost my energy, could barely pedal, and had to resort to walking my bike. All I could think about was water as my body got progressively weaker and weaker. By the time I reached water my body was so dehydrated that it kept throwing it back up. I eventually had to call 911 and have an ambulance come and give me fluids intravenously. It was a scary reminder of how necessary water is to human life. 

When I hear Jesus say he is thirsty in this passage I am reminded that without Him we would be thirsty for all eternity. Just like we would die without water, without the living water of Jesus eternal life in God’s perfect heaven is impossible for us. I think this is one reason hardly anyone seems satisfied in life, regardless of their financial wealth and possessions. God didn’t create us to only thrive off of worldly things, but to need the living water of Christ. It is only Christ who can truly satisfy and provide for us for all eternity. Jesus teaches us this in John 4:13-14:

Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. 

This lent, I pray that your wants and desires can be quenched by the living water of Christ Jesus. Instead of spending so much effort searching for worldly satisfaction, let the eternal gift of living water be that which truly satisfies you now and forever more. 

 

Our Purpose

Colossians 1:28 New International Version (NIV)

28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom,so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.

Have you ever been asked the question, “What is your purpose?” I think all men ask that question. They want a purpose in their life. I have found that men who do not have purpose will die spiritually and physically.

Men who have purpose know the Biblical call of manhood. They reject passivity, accept responsibility, and lead courageously. You might be thinking that this is a tall order. It is, but a man who knows who he is in Christ leads with purpose.

Let’s look at what it means to have purpose spiritually. I believe being in a men’s small group is essential. You build relationships with other men and this helps enhance your relationship with Christ. You pray together and read God’s Word. This will enhance you to be a stronger man, husband, and father. It will strengthen your family, and it will build your faith.

A man who has physical purpose is in the game. No matter whether you are young or older, being physical and active keeps you strong and healthy.

Our purpose, men, is to glorify our Lord. From your completeness in Christ will come your purpose. Today, I want you to look at your purpose in life. Are you just existing? Are you stepping into purpose?

Stepping into purpose perfects your relationship with Christ.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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“The Borlaug Effect”

I have seen a great many things of late that have me pondering the why and how of things.  Some of it good, but a great deal of it difficult to bear.  I was reading through some past writings, and came upon this one.  I felt like this was something that is providing some clarity to questions I’m asking.  It served to bring some comfort and assurance  to some uncertainties I am struggling with.  I hope it provides some of the same for you.

 

 

I came across the name of a man today.  It is a name with which I’m very familiar, but I was led to read a little more in depth.  The man is Norman Borlaug.  Some of you may know who he is, but for any who do not, I’ll give you a brief account of his life and accomplishments.

Norman Borlaug was born March 25th 1914 to a farm family outside of Cresco, Iowa.  He had a prototypical upbringing for a midwestern farm kid of the age.  He grew up hunting, fishing and working the family’s 106 acre farm.  His primary education took place in a one room school house, and he was baptized and confirmed in the Saude Lutheran church.  He graduated from Cresco high school, where he also participated in football, baseball and wrestling.  

Through an Depression-era program known as the National Youth Administration, he was able to enroll at the University of Minnesota.  While earning his Bachelor of Science in forestry, Norman, like most had to take jobs to support himself.  One such job was as a leader in the Civilian Conservation Corps.  Many of the people who worked for him in those days came to him starving.  Though he didn’t realize the impact at the time, the scars those images left would forever change his life and the lives of over a billion others.

 Before and after graduation, Norman worked for the US Forest Service.  He had his career and life coursed out and was headed down it.  It wasn’t for long, though, and due to budget cuts he lost that job.  That’s a pretty significant blow to be dealt, for anyone.  I’m sure he thought, as most of us would, he had arrived.  He had made it.  Then blindsided.  Have you ever felt like that?

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Well Norman returned to the University of Minnesota and under the tutelage of his mentor Elvin Charles Stakman, received a master of science degree in 1940 and Ph.D. in plant pathology and genetics in 1942.  He went to work for Dupont, where during World War II a number of his projects worked to aid our soldiers in combat.  Impacting lives.

After the war years his research and efforts changed complexion.  He remembered the look of starvation in the faces of his past workers.  The rest of his life was dedicated to the development of high yield, disease and drought resistant crops.  Crops that could be grown in regions ravaged by hunger, where conventional crops and farming techniques were useless.  His life’s research led him to countries around the world, Mexico, South America, Asia, India and finally Africa.  

Norman Borlaug became the man God would use to feed the world.  Norman’s life work is credited with saving over a billion lives from starvation.  All this from a boy who started from such humble beginnings.  A young man who’s life course was set, or so he thought.  However, God had different plans for Norman.  

As I read about Norman’s extraordinary contributions to the world, I can’t help but think about how it almost wasn’t was.  I think about the chain of events required to bring God’s plan for his life to fruition.  I wonder how often Norman felt stuck in the mud, that things weren’t going according to plan.  I find my heart overflowing with faith in the knowledge that Norman’s life played out by design.  God’s design.  What reassurance can be found in this story.  Reassurance that no matter what happens in our own lives, though we may not see it, want it or understand it, if we hold onto that faithful knowledge that it is by God’s design, great things will happen.  

I think about all the people that God brought into Norman’s life.  Each person necessary in the development of “the man who fed the world”.  I wonder how many of those people lived an entire life not knowing the contribution they made in his development, their role in feeding the world.  Not all of us are destined to be Norman Borlaug, but every Norman Borlaug needed a great many of us to realize their design.  

As I go forward from this day forth, I will try to be more mindful of the “Borlaug Effect”, how my life impacts others, who in turn affect others, who affect others who will affect the next man who feeds the world.  

Lord let me no longer doubt the plan and design You have for my life.  Heavenly father erase from me the doubt of the significance and effect my life has on those around me, rippling out to the rest of the world and generations to come.  How great is Your design and plan, Lord?  I can’t see it fully Lord, but this I know, the gift of faith You fill my heart with assures me that it is a grand and perfect design.  I pray Lord that my ripple in this world will have the effect You desire.  In Jesus’ precious name Amen.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy

Scott Pace 

 

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