Busy Bodies

Anymore, when I ask someone how they are doing, a common answer is that they are ‘busy.’  I often find myself saying this as a statement of fact, or maybe even as a complaint.  Who do we have to blame but ourselves for this predicament?  We may have seasons of increased work demands, or a project that is taking up our free time, or even a new addition to the household, but there is always something that demands more of our time.  Many of us are just trying to keep up with the day to day demands that we face in our lives.  Is it good to be busy?  How do we know when we are too busy?

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  Psalm 46:10

In our culture, there is the expectation that we can do it all, and we take off at 60 mph.  Maybe that is just our competitive nature to think that if he can do it, I can do it better!  Instead of adding one more thing to our plate, maybe we should be asking:  ‘What do I need to cut?’  What am I doing that takes away from what is best?  Honestly, what often suffers in my life is my time to rest/sleep, or my time with God.  The things that I value most often suffer at the expense of other things I value much less.  Should this be the case?  No.  As Jesus states, we should choose what is best.  Do we have the discernment to determine this?

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:41-42

If you were to list all the things you do that demand your time, then list them from most important to least, would the time you devote to each match up?  One of the greatest timeburglars we face each day are distractions in various shapes.  Whether in the form of news, social media, phone or text messages, sports or video games, unnecessary conversations, or any other thing, there is much that can take away from our productivity or effectiveness.  Even being disorganized or having to run back and forth to get what is needed to accomplish a task can take away from it.  There are times that we may feel ‘in the zone’ and making good progress, and times that we may just be spinning our wheels when we are putting forth much effort, but making little progress.  Maybe there is something to be learned in each scenario, but what is your reaction when you do not get done what you need to do?

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  John 10:10

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.  Luke 5:16

So, every so often, question what you are doing and whether it is really a benefit to you or anyone else.  Make time to take things to God and ask for wisdom in your actions from day to day.  Even Jesus, who had better discernment and insight than we may ever know, took a break from his ministry to be alone with God on a regular basis.  Maybe we can take a few cues from the rhythm of his cycle of work and rest.  I have heard some people say “I am too busy not to pray.”  So, maybe before jumping in to the next thing with both feet, we should ask for wisdom and discernment to make sure we are jumping in the right direction, if at all.  May the fruit of your labors be an indicator of the good work you are doing. 

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.  Proverbs 16:9

Strength and Courage in Christ,
Clark

How to Hug a Vampire 2

Following Jesus has caused me to give away some uncomfortable things.  We have given the majority of our saving to single moms or a church, we have let abandoned teenagers or single moms live with us rent free, we have given away a car we couldn’t afford to replace. At first it was really hard, then I found none of those things were mine anyways.  I had given my whole life the Jesus and all by “stuff” belonged to Him.  My role was to be a good steward of His stuff.  I learned He didn’t take anything from me.  You can’t take what you have already given away.

photo-1443683263937-3e377546e8a8Over the years, starting in elementary school I have been called so many names.  People have labeled me a liar, a cheat, bible beater, gay, poor athlete, stupid, unqualified, poor leader to name a few.  Before I knew Jesus, these phrases stuck and grew like a cancer in me.  My identity was shaped by other peoples words.  Then my identity started shaping my behavior.  These words sucked the life out of me and shattered my self esteem. 

When I started following Jesus and started reading scripture, I found other people that had the same issues that I did.  Men and women who had shaped their identity off of other peoples words or the sins of their past.  Then they would have an encounter with God, and God would speak to their identity.  One of my favorite examples of this is Jacob when he wrestles with God in Genesis 32.

Genesis 32:28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”

Jacob means “liar, supplanter” and God says he is now Israel “May God prevail. He struggles with God. God perseveres.”  What a shift!  People still tried to label Israel according to his past.  But he found a new identity in the identity that he gave away.  Here is what he learned.  People can’t take what you have already given away.

For the rest of you life people you care about and many who don’t will speak terrible things about you.  People will try to label you and shift your identity.  But they cannot take what you have already given away.  

Who own’s your identity?  Who owns the words your heart hangs on? Who owns your stuff?  What would your life look like if you gave your identity, purpose, your stuff, and your life totally to Jesus?  Would you like who you become in 10 years? Would you life be richer and fuller as a result?

GO DO IT!!! Go meet with God and let Him speak to you!

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Guy Talk

guy-talkThere’s been a lot of talk recently about how men talk about women when no one else is around. Call it locker room talk, bro code, or boys will be boys, but there seems to be a narrative building that its normal for men to speak about women in un-flattering terms. While this may be big news today, its not exactly anything new. Television and films have portrayed men as sitting around objectifying women for years, so much so that it seems like a given that whenever two or more men are gathered the conversation will rapidly turn south. Now, my focus today is not on calling out any individuals for their behavior. Rather, I want us to look at how God desires us as men to treat all the women we encounter in our lives. 

  1. Women are to be treated as family: Checkout 1 Timothy 5:2: Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters. Women are not objects to be judged, critiqued, and lusted over, but are to be treated as we would our closest family members. While our society tends to tell us otherwise, God makes it clear that such talk and behavior is contrary to His plan. 
  2. Words Matter: In our hyper-connected world nothing seems to stay private and secretive for long. When we let our words fly about someone there is a strong chance they will hear about them, and the results can be devastating. I can’t even begin to relate the stories of immense pain I’ve heard from women who have been ridiculed by men. God never intended for our speech to inflict pain, but rather to lift others up. As Paul writes in Ephesians 4:29: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Men, lets start watching our every word so that only words we speak are those that uplift and bring honor to God and others.
  3. Honor Your Wife: As a man of God our first priority should is bringing honor God in all we do. But very close behind should be honoring our wife, whether they be a future spouse, our current wife, or a wife that has passed on. We need to constantly ask ourselves: “are my actions honoring my wife and our marriage?” Ephesians 5:25 sets the bar incredibly high in this regard: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Think about EVERY action of your daily life. Are your truly living your life in a way that models Christ-like love to your wife?

Men, its time we stand-up and destroy this caricature of manhood that the media has thrown at us. Let’s start modeling Biblical manhood for our world by treating women as family, using our words wisely, and honoring our wives in ALL that we do. 

Grit

Mark 14:36New Living Translation (NLT)

36 “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Grit is the ability to persevere over difficult times and for long periods of time. It is a relentless resolve to keep pursuing a desired goal and not giving up.

Jesus, the man who knew sorrows, prayed a prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was an incredible prayer. Jesus faced a horror that no natural man could face. He gave up his own life when he said, not my will, but your will be done. He took on a cross and moved relentlessly toward it with full determination. Never has more grit happened or been seen all for the sake of love.

Grit requires courage. It is the ability to manage fear of failure as we face adversity in our lives.

There is a quote by Teddy Roosevelt who describes grit this way: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds cold have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust, sweat, and blood; who strived valiantly; who errs; who comes again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spreads himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

Galatians 6:10New Living Translation (NLT)

10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

Opportunities come and go. It is the choices that we make in them that reveal the doors of life. One opportunity to do daily is doing good toward our fellow man. Sometimes it may be words of kindness and some may be acts of kindness. One is saying while the other is doing.

Allow the opportunities that God places in your life to show his glory through you. Sometimes visiting a person who is unable to leave their home is an act of kindness. It could also be a simple smile or ‘hello’. All opportunities of kindness are good.

Knowing Jesus bring opportunities. Do not allow regret over wasted opportunity to set in. Make the most of every opportunity now and seize the moment.

Coming Soon: Hockey Game – Road Trip to Des Moines to Watch the Des Moines Buccaneers Play the Youngstown Phantoms on the Ice

Date: December 17, 2016

Time: 7:00 pm

Where: Des Moines Buccaneer Arena, 7201 Hickman Road

Cost: Arena Level – $10.00 per person, $7.00 per child

Who: Anyone can come. Bring your wife, children, and friends.

We just need to know how many by November 10, 2016 to prepay

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