Seeking

 

What are you pursuing?  What are most people seeking in this life?  When you look at the lives of those around you, why do most people do what they do?  In America, you may hear the phrase ‘keeping up with the Jonses’ as a term to illustrate the constant pursuit of getting the next new thing that makes you appear just as good as your neighbor.  Whether it is posting your latest conquest on Facebook, keeping your yard looking perfect, kids with the best report card, having a new vehicle in the driveway, or any number of other achievements for which you can compare yourself to others.  Behind this, the motive may be to make as much money as possible to promote this lifestyle.  Looking at what we see in commercials and the media would seem to support this.  Is this what we were made for?  Just to appear better than most of our neighbors by our things and accomplishments? 

I heard a quote by Ravi Zacharias some time ago which summarized the end pursuit of three different empires.  He said the end goal of the Hebrews was light, the pursuit of the Greeks was knowledge, and for the Romans it was glory.  Throughout scripture, especially the Old Testament, there is often a contrast between darkness and light.  The Greeks thought amassing knowledge of the natural world would give them the answers they sought.  The Romans fought to be strong and powerful to bring glory to themselves and the city that was not built in a day.  While these may be strong motivators, what is the end goal of each…to appease our own selfish desires, or for a better purpose?  Where does God fit into this picture? 

 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.  2 Corinthians 4:6

The apostle Paul summarizes these pursuits in this one verse and connects them all in Christ.  He is the light of the world.  Of all of us, he is the one deserving any glory.  The knowledge of the savior of the world brings a greater transformation than any other truth we may find.  In fact, all pursuit of truth should lead us to Him.  In a world full of lies and half-truths, it is refreshing to be grounded in the truth, which Christ reveals in all we do. 

 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.  Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  John 18:37

Who’s glory am I seeking, my own or God’s?  What knowledge is most beneficial to me and others?  Does my life reflect more of the light from God or the darkness found deep within my selfish heart?  While many of these pursuits can have the appearance of being good intentioned to those around us, even we may not always even know why we are chasing after some of these things.  Often, only God knows the true nature of our hearts and can reveal that to us and others.  In scripture, Jesus often makes statements that get to the heart of why those around him are doing what they do.  If you struggle with this, simply ask him to reveal your true motives.  The truth found in Christ does this time and again when we encounter him.  May our true motives be made known to us and may we seek to honor God in all we do.  It is not always easy, but it definitely produces joy that last longer than any other accomplishment or prize that we may attain in this life.

Strength and Courage in Christ,
Clark

Reckless Courage

At the beginning of every football game, the ball is kicked to the opposing team and 22 players sprint at each other with one goal in mind. Destroy someone!  Some of the men on the field weigh around 300 lbs and can run a 40 in less than 5 seconds. To be one of those players you would have to be totally insane or have reckless courage.  

photo-1445771832954-9c7fb748f214This last week, I have been reading through the book of Acts. I got to the story of Stephen.  He stands trial for preaching Jesus to the Jews.  These men who killed Jesus now have Stephen in their grips. So he does the unthinkable. He tells these religious men that for thousands of years religious leaders like them have killed God’s chosen people.  Then to get even more personal he says:

Acts 7:51 “You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you! 52 Name one prophet your ancestors didn’t persecute! They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One—the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered. 53 You deliberately disobeyed God’s law, even though you received it from the hands of angels.”

These are religious fighting words. Stephen has just picked a fight.  So they grab him and they take him to be stoned.  This is when they take rocks and throw them at him until he dies.  Just as he is about to die he says”

59 “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.

Stephen loved Jesus more than he loved his life.  His courage to stand for his faith to those who opposed it stirs my heart.  He did not spend his days wrestling with basics of faith like serving, tithing, and choosing between the lake and church.  He spent his days so other people would know Jesus no matter the cost. 

I want this kind of courage! The courage it takes to know my life is on the line and I boldly spend my life preaching Jesus no matter the consequences.  

So where do you need courage?  Are you asking for courage for things Jesus wants you to have courage for?  Jesus followers always have one thing in common… Reckless courage! I pray we live it.

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

In Need of a Light

flashlight-1464714I’m going to man up and admit that, fourteen years ago this month, I totally botched my proposal to my wife. It was working at Inspiration Hills, a Christian camp in northwest Iowa, and I had been planning “the perfect proposal” for quite some time. When Andrea came for the weekend I took her on a hike, leading her to a large hill outside of camp. From this hill you could see Iowa, South Dakota, and Minnesota, and at pinnacle was a large cross. When we got to the cross I knelt on one knee, said something romantic, and reached for the ring… which I could not find in the dark! No problem I thought, I’ll just grab my flashlight and find it…except I couldn’t find my flashlight either! So here I am, at what should be the most romantic moment of my life, flaying around on my hands and knees trying to find the flashlight, while apologizing profusely for ruining the proposal. Andrea kindly joined me in the search and soon {although it felt like an eternity} we were able to find the flashlight. Within seconds of turning on the flashlight we were able to spot the ring and I could finish the proposal. Thankfully {and gracefully} she still said yes, and fourteen years later we remain happily married.

 

It’s hard to find anything in the dark, let alone something tiny like a ring. Likewise, it’s difficult to correctly find our way in the world without someone to guide us. Its certainly not because the world doesn’t try to direct us. Everyday we are inundated with worldly advice on television, social media, in our relationships, in the workplace, and more, and far too often we end up following it. Yet, there is really only one who can correctly show us how to navigate life, and that is Jesus Christ. John 1:4-5 explains it like this:

In him {Jesus} was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Just as I would have likely never found that ring without a flashlight we are unlikely to correctly navigate life without following the light of Christ. See, Jesus not only came to earth to save us, but to lay out a blueprint for how to live life. His earthly life, perfectly preserved in scripture, serves as a flashlight illuminating the correct path for us. It is a path that is not always easy, but is the right path for us and those around us. It is a path that includes: showing grace and forgiveness, caring for the poor, living sacrificially, loving our neighbor as we love ourselves, following scripture, and standing for God against the sinful ways of the world. May we always be turning to scripture and letting the light of Christ serve as our guide in our dark world.

No Retreat

1 Peter 2:21New International Version (NIV)

21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

When you choose to step into living a life of no retreat, you are truly following the example of Jesus. Jesus committed no sin. You will find in Scripture no deceit ever being spoken. Even when men hurled insults at him, he never retaliated. When hanging on the cross, he made no threats towards anyone. He entrusted his life to God, the Judge who judges justly. He took our sins, your’s and mine, and died on the cross. He showed us a way that we might die to our sins and live righteously by his wounds so that we could be healed.

What an example of living a life of no retreats. We have a choice and a calling. Once you come to know Jesus and the price he paid. You will choose no retreat. The disciples did not experience this until the cross and his resurrection. 

So, how do we live a life of – No Retreats

  • Do not give in – Do not give up
  • Do not retreat or surrender to the temptations that appear to be appealing
  • Do not retreat to a life of spiritual complacency – Be in church and Be active
  • Do not retreat from reading God’s Word daily and spending time in prayer

Men, when we live in retreat, we lose ground to the enemy. He takes over and establishes occupancy. Jesus is calling men who are warriors. Living a life of NO RETREAT fuels your life walk with God, your life as a husband, and your life as a father. Make NO RETREAT a focus in your every day living.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

 

Vital Ministries News

Are You Searching?

Proverbs 8:17New International Version (NIV)

17 I love those who love me,
    and those who seek me find me.

Are you searching? As men, we are usually searching for something to bring significance to our lives. We hunger in desperation to find it. We look to power, pride, sex, and so called important relationships in order to find what we are searching for. The only problem is that the deeper we go in the depravity of it, we lose ourselves.

The only true reality of finding significance is our commitment to Christ. God truly hears our cries for significance, and so he whispers those longing into our hearts. God put these longings inside us in our search for significance.

The Bible says in Psalms 2:8, ‘Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession.’ This tells me I am part of his family, a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession. This is the end of our searching. The end of your searching is Christ.

Up coming couples’ ride: July 16-17 – Ride to Le Claire, Iowa – American Pickers – Overnight Stay – Breakfast – A Nice Ride

Join the Quest – Men’s Event – September 18-23, 2016 – One Week in Mooresville, MO. – Going through Fellowship of the Sword is all about you and finding the passion within you – Go to Fellowship of the Sword for more information

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