“He Knows Everything”

Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  7 Be not wise in your own eyes;fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.  8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Freedom Fellowship Church, in Indianola, has been hosting a weekly archery shoot, onced a week for the last coupe of years.  They start up in late fall and continue into early fall.  They do this to offer folks an opportunity to hone their skills prior to the season, offer fellowship and to give them a dose of Jesus in the process.  

Pastor Rabe is an archery customer of mine, who over the past few years has become a friend and in many ways a mentor.  He approached me a couple months ago and asked if I’d be willing to lend some expert assistance, as well as lead the opening devotion time.  I accepted and this past Monday was our third week.

This past Monday, as I walked the line, analyzing the shooters, I heard my name mentioned in a comment.  The comment was, “if it’s about archery, ask Scott, he knows everything.”  My reply was something to the effect of, “not everything, it may be a lot, that I’m confident of, but not everything.  I’m constantly seeking information, trying to learn, improve and grow.  There are still a great many that have something to teach me.”

I appreciated the compliment and vote of confidence, but believe my response was the appropriate and, more importantly, the honest one.  As I thought about it over the week, I began to see the importance of this understanding.  As an archer and bowhunter, the moment I think I know it all, have done it all and there’s nothing more for me to learn, why bother?  I will never attain that level, no one will.  The truth is , there will always be someone better, someone whom we can learn from, new techniques, old ones revistited and changing technologies to keep up with.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying I don’t know, and seeking the answer.  Better yet, it’s the only right course when that is the case.

I repeatedly tell the guys who come into the shop, “there is not a single person, myself included, who has or ever will, walk through that door, who would not benefit from instruction.”  As, soon as you think you can, you’re done, stuck in the mire and any possibility for growth is halted until reality can check your ego.

Such is the case in our spiritual life, walk and growth.  Knowledge is a slippery slope.  It is necessary for growth and maturation, but many will accumulate enough head knowledge as to begin to believe that they have it all figured out. They’ll believe that they’ve arrived, situate themselves in the perceived superior position and fall into the self righteous, phariseeical mindset.  What a dangerous snare to stumble into.  This line of thought shuts down forward progress, stymies personal growth, as well as halts the work you should be doing for the Kingdom and opens you up to an onslaught from the enemy.  

Humility is the order of the day.  An understanding that you don’t and never will have it figured out is the only course.  To believe otherwise is to walk in a belief that you are fit to go it alone, spurn others as unworthy of your time and effort and in essence proclaim you have no further need of God!  Neither you nor I will get there in any endeavor, but certainly not in our christian development, relationship with Christ and the remodeling He has desired to do.  KNowing this, relish the understanding that until your last breath is breathed, you have something to learn, development to strive for and purposed pursuit to drive on toward.  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace 

 

Live!

This past week, I had the opportunity to attend a free Christian music concert on the square in Oskaloosa featuring several local artists and bands and a couple who were nationally known.  It was a great event which brought a lot of people together and allowed me to luxury to leave early with a couple of wily, whining kids without too much regret.  Of course, it wasn’t really free, as it cost donors a fair amount of money to pay the cost of bringing these folks to town, as well as many hours to promote, set up, and take down the event.  There is always a cost.  So was it as good as a show that I would have paid $30-60 or more per ticket to enjoy as most concerts are these days?  Probably better, because someone cared about me that much to make it happen. 

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  John 4:23

Honestly, I really enjoy music, but I don’t attend as many live shows as you might think.  When I didn’t have kids, I would probably buy tickets to about one show per year, and it was usually someone I had known for a while who was doing a show not too far away.  One of my favorite concerts was when I was around 8 years old along with my family and went to see Johnny Cash and the Carter family, who’s songs I knew fairly well by then.  Who you are with and the whole experience is maybe more meaningful than the music itself.  Honestly, I could probably get as much enjoyment out of listening to a song alone in a car as I could with thousands of others in a big stadium, but that is me.  When you worship God with many others at the same time, it is a unique experience, but it really doesn’t strengthen my faith any more than a good 30 minutes in the Word and alone with God.  What about you?

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12

Does the experience of seeing and meeting the artist make the music that much more meaningful for you, or is your life about the same a month down the road?  In my experience, going to a live concert doesn’t usually make me a better singer, or a better Christian, or help me more in my devotions, or anything more than something to brag about to my friends.  Maybe it sounds like I am a better Christian if I tell people I went to hear a Christian artist, but probably doesn’t change their life much, unless it allows me an opportunity to share the Gospel message with them.  What would Jesus do? 

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”  John 6:60

I always wonder, how would I have responded if I were living and walking around Israel in 32 AD.  If I saw and heard the Real Deal speaking the truth to my heart, how would I have responded?  There were many who were turned off by the truth that Jesus spoke to them, which went against many traditions and customs of the day.  If people chose to follow Him, they would have to give up many of the safe things and luxuries of the world they lived in.  Is this not true still today?  We must choose to surrender our own lives to truly follow the One who gives us what we cannot gain through all our works.  There were some that walked and listened to our Lord for days and years and yet still did not believe, yet He still changes lives today through faith when led by his Word and the Spirit.  How much more will he continue to do!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

Confidence in Christ,
Clark

What is a “Man’s Man?”

Earlier this week, I got a text message from a man I used to mentor.  It was a real question I feel may of us struggle with but at times lack courage to ask.  Asking real questions can leave us feeling weak or spiritual not what we portray.  In front of the people, especial people we admire we want to portray
an image of strength and maturity a real “man’s man”, even when it is not our present reality.  This young man showed real courage in showing his weakness, and I believe the Lord sees it as strength.

His text… “Brandon, if you could just pray for me, I’d appreciate it. Just seems like I’m in a constant battle with wanting to live for the world and living for The Lord.”

I started praying for him right there.  The next morning, I was reading a prayer of David. 

Psalm 86:11 Teach me your ways, O Lord,
    that I may live according to your truth!
Grant me purity of heart,
    so that I may honor you.
12 With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God.
    I will give glory to your name forever,
13 for your love for me is very great.
    You have rescued me from the depths of death.

David admits before the Lord that he lacks understanding in the ways of the Lord, purity of heart, and walked into the depths of death and needed rescuing.   When it comes to being “a man’s man” lacking understanding, purity of heart, and needing rescuing doesn’t fit.  However, in the Kingdom it is STRENGTH and HONORS THE LORD to be vulnerable and admit your need for help. 

David took on Goliath as a teenager, led armies against tens of thousands, fought wars on multiple fronts, defeated a real army with a band of rebels, took these rebels and made them his mighty men.  When we think of being “a man’s man” we like this part of the story.  However,  David sounds bi-polar in psalms.  One minute he seems to be questioning God and himself, and the next celebrating how the Lord never leaves him hanging. If you are anything like me, you read this and are like, “David there is something wrong with you.”

Here is what I am learning.  David was a Vital man because he was willing to reveal his brokenness.  He waited for the Lord to give him strength.  He gave the Lord credit for EVERY VICTORY.  He made them into songs sung by the people to the Lord.  So all of Israel saw David’s brokenness and vulnerability before the Lord, giving them an example of how to engage with the Lord.  So the Lord declares David a man after His own heart.

According to the Lord, “a man’s man” or a Vital Man is a man who walks humbly before the Lord and men open with their brokenness and dependance on God’s strength, wisdom, and rescue.  So where are you showing false strength and need to be real?  Where do you need to not “fix” you but ask the Lord and other men to help you?  What do you need to repent of to find freedom for yourself, you family, your community, and your church?  Go be vital, DO IT NOW!

Recklessly, Obsessively Following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Take out the Trash

When I was in college I had an awesome roommate named Anan. He was incredibly fun, but he was also a real cheapskate and ate A LOT. This often meant stealing my food, but on one occasion he actually went to the grocery store himself. He came back all excited that he had bought a whole chicken for only $1. Of course a grocery store doesn’t sell a chicken that cheap unless it has a few issues. First, it was not a cleaned and butchered chicken. This was not a problem for Anan, as he used my sink and my siccsors to do the butchering (he also cleaned up the mess: with my tooth brush). There was another very obvious reason the chicken was $1: it was already rotten! It had immedietly smelled up our room. I told Anan he needed to get it out before we couldn’t breathe anymore. He agreed, and we moved on with life. 

A few weeks later our room smelled simply atrocious (yes, even worse then normal for two college guys). I thought maybe something had died in it, and used my nose to sniff out the source. It led me to Anan’s fridge, which was the home of the now green, black, and white chicken. I forced him to take it to the dumpster, but he couldn’t stand the smell. I tell you what, you have not fully lived until you’ve watched a 400lbs man run down the hallway with a rotten chicken tucked under his arm like a football!

Ok, so that’s a crazy (albeit true) story. Here’s my point: a lot of us have sin in our lives that is stinking it up like that chicken, yet we refuse to throw it out like the garbage it is. Maybe it’s pride, addiction, lust, lying, or something else, but I think most of us have some sin that we keep doing day after day, week after week, etc. The longer we do little about it the more it stinks up our life.

James 4:7-8 tells us “submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts.”

This week, let’s all take time to draw near to God and to cleanse ourselves of the sins that are stinking up our lives. Let us all admit our sins and ask God’s help in removing them from our lives. The longer we don’t deal with our sins, the more it will stink up our lives. Let’s get in the habit of taking out the trash and let God cleanse us from our unrighteousness. 

I Don’t Believe

James 2:26New International Version (NIV)

26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Have you ever had someone tell you, “I don’t believe.” I think any man who has received Jesus has met someone who says, “I don’t believe.” What do you say in those moments? What is the right response?

If you go to the Bible and read John 7:5 it says, ‘For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.’ Much of Christ’s family didn’t believe in him until after his resurrection. This being the case, it continues to happen today.

This past week I met a man in our park. He was a Veteran of the Vietnam War. He was a man who spent his life in the military. As I walked by him, I noticed his ball cap that said he served in Vietnam. So, I stopped and thanked him for his service. He asked if I had served, and I said, “No.” He went on to tell me that he didn’t believe.

What a conversation starter. He was at the night of worship in the town square, he seemed to be looking for answers, and he was looking for hope.

Man, it hit me at that point! What do I say? You see, our downtown was buzzing with excitement because of this event, except for this Vietnam Veteran sitting on a bench. I spoke with him for a time and encouraged him to stay and listen. Then I said I would like to meet with him and have coffee. He said he comes to the park daily, so we set a time to meet. I will be there to meet with him. When you lose hope, you don’t believe anything, especially Jesus. 

Men, we need to be ready for those, “I don’t believe.” moments. The Holy Spirit uses us. It says in 2 Corinthians 4:6, ‘Let there be light in the darkness.”

Let’s be light, men, and shine for those who live in darkness.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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