Real Relationships

I have been thinking a lot about relationships lately, whether that be marriage, friendships, parenting, working with co-workers, etc. As I’ve thought about it, I think I’ve put my finger on two of the most dangerous words we use in relationships. Now, don’t worry, they aren’t curse words! However, I think they can do more danger than a curse-ridden tirade. The words? If and but. Such small simple words, yet in relationships they can create all sorts of problems. “I would help you, if you were nicer to me.” “I would love to help you with that problem, but you have not been nice enough to me lately.” It seems many of us, myself included, are willing to do many great things in a relationship, as long as certain conditions are met.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. There are certainly times in relationships where using such conditional phrases is appropriate (i.e. when we are teaching our children, or assisting someone in conquering a bad habit or addiction). When it comes to the core of what relationships should be about, showing love, care, and making one another better, we need to take our lead from Jesus and drop the ifs and buts.

Check out these two verses from Paul’s letter to the Philippians:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded.
Philippians 2:1-2

Look at all that Christ gives us when we are in a relationship with him: comfort, love, the Holy Spirit, tenderness, and compassion. We can add to that list joy, peace, hope, eternal life, and so much more. When we are in a relationship with Christ we are given so many awesome things, no ifs or buts about it. Jesus does not say “I will give you encouragement this week, if you do 73 good things” or “I would comfort you, but when you were six you stole a piece of candy from the grocery store.” The only condition with Christ is believing in Him and confessing our sins. When we do that He freely gives us so many amazing things that make us better now and for all eternity.

As you go about your many relationships this week take I pray you take notice of how often you are being conditional with your love for others. Christ has chosen to freely give so much love and care to us despite our many flaws and sins. He has chosen to focus on making us better in this life and for all eternity. Let’s start doing the same in our relationships, having the same mind as Christ Jesus. Let’s strive to make others better, no if’s or buts about it, just as Christ has made us better.

True Manhood Part 2

Matthew 5:44 New International Version (NIV)

44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

It is easy for a man to show respect and regard when it is done in return. We all have friends who like what we like. We have friends with the same hobbies, religious beliefs, and ideas. It is easy to call them friends.

Now, what about those who do not? There are people you will not share the same beliefs. Down through history, there have been tag names given to groups in order to dehumanize them, and to make it easier to hate on them.

This past March, I spent an eleven day trip to the Holy Land of Israel. This country has always experienced enemies and fighting down through the centuries of time. The nation is called God’s people, the Jewish people are his chosen. Not everyone living in that nation has the same opinion.

While visiting there, we had a Jewish guide and a Muslim driver, as well as, a Palestinian guide. All three got along well with each other. I heard them call each other brother. 

I asked our Jewish guide his perspective. He said that we are all brothers and have learned to live with each other. I would have to say that they had an extent of brotherly love.

During my time there, my views changed regarding the Muslims and Palestinians. I may not agree with their religious beliefs. I saw good men. God changes your heart in true manhood when you can see through different lenses and love who you call an enemy. When you ask for blessings on another, God blesses you, and your prayers will not be hindered.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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You Are What You Eat

Proverbs 21:21 (NASB) ‘He who pursues righteousness and loyalty Finds life, righteousness and honor. ‘

“You are what you eat.”  Are you familiar with that saying?  I’m going to assume that most reading this have heard that expression.  There’s truth in this saying, is there not?  It’s rhetorical truth, rather than literal truth, but truth all the same.  If you sat around eating potato chips all day every day, you wouldn’t literally turn into a potato chip, but your health would suffer, you’d grow weak, loose muscle mass, gain fat, and become an overall unhealthy person.  If you sit around consuming junk, your constitution suffers, plain and simple.  

The point I am driving at is simply this, what you focus on, what you drive toward, what you consume, will in large part determine who are and who you become.

I’ll apply this to my pursuit of archery and specifically bow hunting.  The more time I spend pursuing and consuming knowledge and experience, the more adept I become.  The more focused my pursuit in these areas the more likely I am to be successful and the more I feel justified in identifying myself as a bow hunter.  

The same is true in our walk with Christ.  How many of you would identify yourself as righteous, a saint?  Be honest.  I will go out on a limb and say that the overwhelming majority of you said that you don’t.  Why?  Is it your sense of humility?  Is it because you have sin in your life?  

II Corinthians 5:21 ‘He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.’ 

Romans 5:19 ‘For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. ‘ 

Philippians 3:19, 20 ‘and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; ‘

God, Himself, declared you righteous the day His Son bore the sins of the world, bled and died upon the cross of cavalry.  The day you acknowledged His atoning sacrifice for you and accepted the gift He paid for in blood, He declares you righteous.

So, where is your focus?  Are you pursuing righteousness?  Proverb 21:21 says if you do, you’ll find it, along with life and honor.  Are you walking this life boldly identifying yourself as righteous, a saint?  If you’re not, why not?  Jesus does!  Go after Jesus, focus on what He has done, accept the righteousness that He has already proclaimed for you, consume it, and boldly proclaim it for all the rest of the world to see. Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Just Right

Have you ever had a night were you did not sleep well?  How did that impact the rest of your day?  It may depend on a lot of factors.  When I was younger, I had no issues sleeping well without waking much through the night.  The past 2-3 years or so have been a different story.  Our daughter just turned one a month ago, and more often than not, she sleeps fairly well through the night.  If she doesn’t, then no one else does either.  We have a 6 year old that has had difficulty sleeping also and when he wakes up, everyone else knows it also.  This has gotten so common, that my sleep schedule has gotten off track and even if everyone else is sleeping well, often I am still not.  It has gotten to the point that if I get at least 3-4 hours of sleep a night, I do fairly well during the day, but less and I am struggling a bit.  If I get 6-8 hours I feel a bit groggy, as it seems to be too much sleep for me.  Sometime, I hope to get back to a normal routine were I get a regular amount of sleep that is just right.  What happens when you do not get a good night’s sleep? 

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

A couple weeks ago, I had to finish a project and I worked through the night without any sleep.  I pushed through the day and by the next evening, I could tell that my judgement and reactions were impaired.  I don’t think I had done this since an all-night cram session in college, but my body did not recover quite as quickly as it did then.  I can definitely understand why sleep deprived drivers can cause accidents.  This past year, I worked with a High School student who was often tired and wanted to sleep through the day.  When I asked him how much sleep he got, he wouldn’t say, but did note that he stayed up very late playing video games most nights.  In an age where electronic devices, social media, binge watching, and other distractions make it easy to stay up late, we seem to be losing the battle for a good night’s sleep.  What do you do to ensure everyone gets to bed on time?

Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare.  Proverbs 20:13

Distractions aside, one factor that may help as much as anything is being disciplined about getting to bed on time.  We have a bedtime routine for the kids with bath, and books, and songs to help them know it is bedtime.  I should do the same.  After the kids are in bed, there are fewer distractions and I can actually get something done around the house, but at the same time am usually exhausted and if I stop moving for more than a few minutes, my body wants to fall asleep.  If I nod off for a while, and wake up again, I need to get to bed quickly, or my body thinks I just had a nap and am ready to go for a few hours again.  I need to be better disciplined about reading, devotions, bedtime, exercise, and other things, because it helps me physically, mentally, spiritually, relationally and in almost every area of life.  In fact, often my prayers are for sound sleep, and structure in my life to get done all that I need, and to give the rest up to God each day.  I never get done all that I want in a day, but hopefully all that is needed to do well. 

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.  Psalm 4:8

The more we trust in the Lord and give control up to Him, the less stress and anxiety we will have in our lives.  No matter how much we do, there is always more we can do, and we should not feel guilt or regret in a job well done.  Learn from our mistakes and move on.  Doing selfish things that negatively impact our sleep and lives should teach us to change or face the consequences of our actions.  Do the best you can with what you can control, and give the rest up to the Lord or seek His advice on what you can do better.  May you find a good balance in your work and rest to help you sleep well each night and day that you entrust to the Lord.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30


Yours in Christ,
Clark

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