Weird Time

Have you ever noticed there are more things that want your time than there is time for?  As a husband, dad, pastor, and friend, most of the things that want my attention are really good things, even important things. Then there are things that I want to do.  I would love to lead a high school guys small group, I would love to create a high school discipleship intensive, I would love to do crossfit,  I would love to be in a life group that I am not leading.  All of these are really good things.  All of them would make me more effective at what I do… Or so it would seem. 

photo-1455651512878-0ddbb4c4d0a5What if I said yes to all of those things?  I would not have enough time for my wife, kids, having a sabbath day, or sleep enough at night.  What if doing all of these good things could kill the great things I could do?  I have a tendency to try to live like a super hero, like I don’t need sleep, a day off.  Or I act like my marriage doesn’t need attention.  Or I act like I don’t need to work out. Here is what I have learned.  I am very human.  I need rest, I need to exercise, I need to eat right, I need to go on dates with my wife, I need time with Jesus everyday. 

Luke 5:16 But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.

Jesus did not live like he was super human, even though he was.  Jesus made time for the most important things.  He often walked by people who needed healed.  He chose not to leave Israel, though his heart was for the whole world.  We see him sleep, take time to eat, get away from the crowds, and pray.  He chose only few close friends.  You would think for the Messiah who has come to save the world and only take 3 1/2 years to show the world who He is, he would not have time for things like getting alone, only choosing 12 men to pour His heart in, allow Judas to be one of the 12.  

Jesus set the example for us to not live like we are super human.  The Sabbath (one day off per week) was not a suggestion but a command.  What good things do you need to say no so you can say yes to great things?  What values do you need to make a priority and let other balls drop?  Do it today!

  1. Write a list of your values. 
  2. Number them in order of their importance.  
  3. Write down how much time you want to give to them. 
  4. Schedule time this week to make it happen.

Say no to some good things so you can say Yes to great things!

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Relationships Defined

Wedding PicThis week my wife and I will celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary, which to some of you likely seems like nothing, and to others may seem like a long time. As we celebrate 12 years of marriage I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships. Now, I’m not just talking about marriage, so those of you that are single are far from off the hook today! Every single one of us is in dozens of relationships, from our family to our friends to our neighbors, co-workers, and even the people next to us in the checkout line at Wal-Mart. Today I want us to all think about what relationships are all about, and to take seriously making EVERY relationship we are in stronger. 

Few things in this life are better then a thriving relationship. A solid relationship can make you better in so many ways, offering you encouragement, helping you through difficulty, drawing you nearer to Christ, and answering complex questions you lack the answers to. A bad relationship, however, can lead to immense pain, conflict, and more. In fact, broken relationships are the number one non-medical related problem I see people struggling with in life.

While relationships can take on many facets, and be incredibly complicated, let me offer up one piece of advice today: the overall goal and focus of every relationship we are in is to make the other person better. The point of a relationship should never be about what we get out of it, but about what we are giving to others. If we all adopted this view of relationships we would rather quickly see the extinction of gossip, slander, betrayal, bruised feelings, and the like. This is not just my opinion, but can be seen very clearly in scripture. Philippians 2:3-4 puts it like this:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Relationships can be one of the greatest aspects of our lives, or one of the worst. To make the most out of them heed Paul’s advice in Philippians 2 and make the goal of every relationship not the betterment of yourself, but the betterment of others. When I think about the past 12 years of marriage I can tell you that our marriage has been at its peak when both of us have taken the task of striving to make the other better serious. When we’ve lost sight of that {and, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m the one who tends to lose sight of this!} things have not gone nearly as well. This week I would ask you to think about at least three relationships you are in and ask yourself: what can I do this week to make this person better? Let’s all follow Paul’s advice and truly value others higher then ourselves throughout our lives. 

Battle Ready

Psalm 144:3New International Version (NIV)

Lord, what are human beings that you care for them,
    mere mortals that you think of them?

It was June 6, 1944. The world got a chance to see the love that was given on D-day. The battle of Omaha Beach was the scene where allied troops joined together to fight against Nazi Germany. In that battle the Germans had a plan to use the high cliffs to build its fortified fortress against the Allied Armies.

As our troops hit that beach head, they came against enemy fire. Bullets and army artillery were blazing all around them. They did not retreat. They did not quit. The did not run from the barrage of bullets. Instead, they kept pressing forward and toward the hot zone.

What made them do it? It was motivated by a deep longing within each man. They loved, so they gave. Their instincts of protecting and persevering were ingrained in their minds. I cannot help but think that for many their most precious thoughts were about family.

The Bible says in John 15:13, there is no greater love that to lay down one’s own life for one’s friends. Two things jump out at me in this verse – love and friends.

Here are my thoughts: Jesus loved us all so much to the point of calling us friends! See it? This jumped off the page for me. I am a friend of Jesus. Scripture says so. It is a promise.

I also think there is a flip side to this Scripture for us today. Do we love Jesus so much that we will lay down our everyday lives for him? If that is our heart, it is vital to be battle ready.

In order to do that, it will require time in reading the Bible. It will will require having a prayer life. It will require placing yourself with men who love Jesus, brothers in Christ. Be battle ready. Prepare for the battles of life. 

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

The Purge

Numbers 14:20-22New International Version (NIV)

20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. 21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times—

God purged Israel for hard heartedness. They saw God’s glorious presence and the miracles. They were given water from rocks, manna from the sky, and quail for meat, yet it was not enough. They always wanted more, and the were believing less about God. 

Most people do not like reading this portion of Scripture because I believe it gives a glimpse of our own sinful state. It is thinking that sin does not have a price or consequence.

Only Joshua and Caleb entered the promise land that God had for that generation. We too have a promise land before us. It is called Heaven. The journey is to be holy and live in God’s righteousness. But that requires work, dedication, and perseverance. It does not come easy.

The question for us today, ‘Are you ready for the purge?’ Will Jesus find us living in his Grace and not perfection? Will he find us submitting to him? Make ready for the purge, men. The promise land is before us.

Strength and Courage

Michael

Vital News: Last call for the July 16-17 Couples Ride to LeClaire. We will get to enjoy God’s great beauty and check out the American Pickers. Go to vitalministries.com for more information.

231,000,000!!!

Psalm 33:12 (NKJV) Blessed is the nation whose God is the LordThe people He has chosen as His own inheritance.

I believe in American exceptionalism.  I believe so, not because I believe Americans are particularly exceptional, but rather that God most certainly is.  I believe that He ordained the formation of this great country and provided the necessary catalysts to bring about it’s creation.  I believe this was possible because the willingness of the original colonists to believe in His sovereignty, the continuation of that belief by the majority of our founding fathers and the conviction of the succeeding generations.  

In 2016 America has reached the brink.  As a nation we have been sliding this direction for the past 60 years. In 2014 most surveys suggest a decline of 8% in adults claiming a christian affiliation.  The number has been declining for several decades, but the decline in the last 7 is greater than all other years combined.  That is a drop of approximately 5 million people.

Now for the good news.  Over 70% of Americans claim a christian affiliation.  That equates to approximately 231 million people.  So, there’s still hope.  

God has long held this nation in His protective embrace.  He has blessed us over and over again.  I believe that blessed Hand is lifting.  It’s lifting, not because we are no longer a nation filled with christians.  It’s lifting because we have become a nation of fruitless christians.  

We’ve had it too good for too long.  Like Israel, we’ve allowed comfort to replace conviction.  As a nation of christians, we’ve lost our zeal because we don’t want to rock the boat we’re riding in.  Too many in this country have turned a blind eye and refuse to stand in the gap.  

We’re weak.  Our faith is weak.  Our relationship with the Lord is weak.  Our knowledge of the word of God is miniscule.  Our witness is virtually unnoticeable.  Because of this weakness we lack courage and conviction in the face of what we know to be wrong.  Worse yet, we are complicit with the world.  I’m talking about the christians of this nation, you and I.  

I draw this conclusion based on the evidence around us, the moral condition of our society.  231 million people claim to be christian and yet this nation is morally bankrupt.  Our beloved nation is being swallowed by the weeds.  Divorce is at an all time high and easier to obtain than a driver’s license.  Drug and alcohol abuse, depression, mental illness, greed, corruption, std’s, violence are at all time highs.  Even basic common courtesy is becoming hard to find.  If we are truly a nation of 231 million christians, how can this be?! 

We have to engage, people.  We have to beat back the fear and stand courageously, despite the cost.   We’ve had it too easy.  There’s a cost to being a follower of Christ that few in this country have really had to count.  Last week I memorized  Romans 12:1,2   I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  

IMG_20160708_002930It’s time.  If we don’t engage, how many will not come to know the love and grace of Jesus?  If we don’t resolve to strengthen our relationship with Jesus, immerse ourselves in His word, burnish our convictions, how many will not have the faith and resolve to stand when it gets REALLY bad?  The good news is that there is time and that in Jesus we have all that we need.  It’s time.  God Bless you all.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace 

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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