At What Cost?

II Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

IMG_20160610_004003I’m seeing something very discouraging happening around me and throughout the United States of America.  We have a rather heated and emotional situation unfolding in the race for the presidency.  However, I’m not here today to talk politics.  I’m not here to compare candidates, party platforms, who did, said, is… whatever.  I’m here to talk about God.  I’m here to talk about faith or lack of.  

Throughout this campaign cycle, I have seen many things that have really made me evaluate the state of this country, its citizenry and the direction we are heading.  Recent events have drawn my attention and focus from the presumptive candidates to the constituency.  Namely, the professed men and women of christian faith.  

There are a great many people of faith, people I held in esteem and believed to be of strong conviction and integrity, that I would like to address.  This can also be applied to christian men and women, who, not in the public limelight but are members of the body of Christ and witnesses to those within their sphere of influence.

I have been witnessing men and women, public figures and average everyday Joes, like you and me, Christians, willing to dump, concede, sacrifice, or modify their beliefs and integrity of late and quite frankly, shame on you. Since when has our security, our identity, our sense of worth rested so firmly in a person or elected office that we would be willing to compromise our beliefs and ethics to try to insure that person A is or is not elected.  When I see men, very public figures, stating that they would be willing to circumnavigate or alter the rules, dump their integrity, just because they didn’t like the outcome or to prevent an alternate outcome, I’m utterly flabbergasted!

Joshua 24:15 (NKJV) And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. 

“The ends justify the means.”  No they most assuredly do not!  If you are a principled man or woman of faith, then stand on that faith!  Your faith and hope should not be wrapped up in any man, woman or child, nor should it rest in the hopes of candidate A or B, so long as it isn’t C.  Your faith and hope should reside squarely and firmly in Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior.  Your faith in Him should carry you unshaken and unafraid, regardless of who is or isn’t elected to this office or that.  Your faith should drive you courageously in conviction and integrity to stand for what is right and good and fair regardless of the outcome.  If you believe in God’s sovereignty, then you know He has a plan, whether we know it or understand it and that His plan is the right and best plan.  

So stand firmly in that knowledge, do not waver, do not fear, put not your faith in men, but in the Lord where it belongs.  Walk uprightly, with integrity and unwavering conviction.  God will produce the outcome He chooses, despite what you or I think.  In the meantime, stay the course, seek God, walk His path with confidence knowing He is directing your steps.  Do not compromise, regardless of the outcome.  The end does not justify the means!  God Bless you all and may God Bless these United States of America.  

Philippians 2:10,11 (NKJV) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Ingredients

FishletsFishlet Ingredients

When it comes to food, I’m fairly adventurous.  I will try most things at least once.  This past week, I saw a jar on the shelf of a store that caught my eye and said ‘what is this?’ as I picked it up.  It looked like uniform meat chunks and had the title ‘fishlets’ on the label, which didn’t help explain it to me.  So, I looked at the ingredients and could then understand better what this was made of…fish, mostly.  As ingredients are listed from greatest to least, thanks to the label, I now had a better understanding what I would be getting into.  I put it back on the shelf. 

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.  Matthew 15:18

What are you made of?  You may remember the nursery rhyme “What are little boys made of?  Snips and Snails and Puppy Dogs’ tails,” which for most guys, hearing it once was enough.  No one wants to be told that they are made of garbage, or that they will never amount to anything, or any other derogatory term you can come up with.  But some of that is true.  We all have our flaws and shortcomings, but we don’t like to put those traits out there for all to see.  Just like when we are courting someone, we put our best foot forward and try to downplay those things we know may make a bad impression.  We also know girls are not always ‘sugar and spice and all things nice’, but may be made of the much of the same things as men.  We have all been sinners, and may still fall short in the future, but are more aware of our sin when it happens, and should be quick to seek forgiveness.  We no longer seek to remain in sin. 

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  I Corinthians 6:11

What would we find on your ingredient label?  What would others say about you…”he’s mostly a good guy!”   I believe what he says most of the time.  As with anyone, it would probably be a mix of good and bad things including mostly what they would have seen in your actions and the words you have said.  This would be acts of self- sacrifice, lies, anger, worship, actions of integrity, selfishness and so on.  But what is your main ingredient?  It probably depends on the day.  Once we are born again, most of the things that others observe should include a majority of the fruit of the spirit.  While we may not be there all the time, as you grow closer to God, these will be more evident in your life.  Let us encourage one another in our good fruit and acts and try to leave a good taste that will keep others wanting more of what you have as we go through this life! 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

Strength and Courage in Christ,
Clark

What do I do with this?

I grew up being told I should be well rounded.  I should work on my weaknesses.  The problem with that is my voice.  I cannot sing.  I got put on a worship team one time and they muted my microphone.  Talk about embarrassing.  The only other vocalist was a girl.  So everyone knew what happened.  True story!  I tried playing the cello, violin, trombone, and guitar.   Here is what I learned: all I can play well is an Iphone.  

photo-1442819516624-aa7a9bd24b63I am not good at managing details, God’s wisdom is not what comes first to my mind, and leadership as it makes sense to me does not look like Jesus.  Even the good things I do, at times I do for the wrong reasons.  

Then I look at all the places I have grown and I compare them to the calling God has for me, and I see a gap of weakness in my gifting. So often I do not feel like I belong as a pastor or the role I get to play.  Because of my past, I feel disqualified to tell other people about Jesus. 

2 Corinthians 12:9  “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

In the weakness of my sin, Jesus wants me to walk in victory that way I can boast in His freedom.  In the weakness of the gifts I don’t have, I trust in Him to raise other people up who are strong in that gifting.  In the weakness of the gift He gave me I trust him to grow the gifting.  It is hard to walk in pride when you see your gifting and compare it to God’s calling on your life.  Humility acknowledges that we need Jesus to grow the gift in us. 

So where do you need to trust the power of Christ in your weakness.  What sin do you need to confess?  What gifting do you not have that you need to trust someone else to do?  What gift do you have that you need the power of Christ to grow and develop?

Go to Jesus and trust in His power for you to be all you were created to be!

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus,

Brandon Sereg

The Stage

on-stage-1480214Years ago I had a student come to my office one afternoon. I small talked with him for a little while and then politely told him I had to get back to work. He remained in my office anyway, as if he expected something amazing to happen at any moment. After about fifteen minutes he looked at me and said: “you are way more boring in person then you are on stage!” He was spot on. For 25 minutes on Wednesday nights I was funny, energetic, thoughtful, Biblical, and {hopefully} inspiring. But that day in my office I was busy, tired, and preoccupied by the seemingly never-ending to-do list hanging above my desk. I always thought it was ridiculous that people expect me to be the same off-stage as when I am on. I work all week for those 25 minutes I am on stage, pouring over the scriptures, reading commentaries, reading and listening to the opinions of other pastors, thinking about creative ways to communicate, and practicing jokes. With all of that preparation I am obviously going to be much better when I’m on stage then when you are around me in person.

Now, I realize many of you aren’t on stage on a regular basis, but I think we all encounter a similar situation when it comes to living out our faith. When we are at church, small group, Vital meetings, and the like we know all the right answers and know exactly how to act. We can even, with preparation, ably lead a small group or Sunday school class. Many of us would never dream of cursing, cheating, putting someone down, or hurting someone while at a church function, but we have no trouble doing so in the other areas of our lives.

It’s fantastic that we tend to give our best effort, and be on our best behavior, when we are at church and around other Christians. But God doesn’t want our best only when we are “on the stage,” but each and everyday. Because, lets be honest about something: we are on the stage more on a daily basis then we ever are at church. Everyday others are, for better or for worse, watching and learning from our actions and behaviors. We hold their attention, and can either impact them for God or make a negative impression.

I love how this idea comes out in the Message translation of Romans 12:1-2: So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Are you giving God your best everyday? Are you preparing yourself everyday to be the best possible servant and disciple you can be? Are you perpetually on the lookout for unexpected opportunities to serve and witness? As Shakespeare famously said, “all the world’s a stage.” May we be ready to be living and serving for God every moment of our lives.

No Reserves

Philippians 2:5-8New International Version (NIV)

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

To live a life of ‘No Reserve’ means – nothing held back. It is a life lived full-out for Jesus Christ. Many are probably thinking right now, there is not way I can live up to this statement or live up to the Scripture in the beginning. I am not Jesus!

You are absolutely right. None of us are, but the first portion of this Scripture gives us a hint to how we can. Paul said, “Your attitude should be.” I do not know about you, but my attitude is life is only one of the few things that I can really control. So what is my attitude toward a life of ‘No Reserves’ look like?

  • A life of No Reserve means we do not hide behind a spiritual mask.
  • A life of No Reserve means one does not act one way with a set of friends and different with another.
  • A life of No Reserve does not toy around with secret sins when no one else is watching.
  • A life of No Reserve is not about pursuing a career that is focused on one’s self and amassing a fortune for one’s on benefit and pleasure.
  • A life of No Reserve is about being sold out to God’s calling – a calling that sets you up to make an eternal impact for God.

Men, when you live a life of ‘No Reserve’, you live with a burning passion to follow hard after Christ. When you follow Christ with ‘No Reserve’, you are simply responding to all that He has done for you. This is and attitude we can choose to step into.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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