Render Your Heart

Joel 2:12,13 (NASB) “Yet even now,” declares the Lord , “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in loving kindness And relenting of evil. 

Regardless of what we have done, no matter how far we stray from Him, there He is, constantly, diligently calling us back to Him.  Always there to embrace us once again, if we’ll simply soften our hearts and reach for Him.  It is often times through difficulty, “plagues” that God gets our attention.  In chapter 2 of Joel, He is showing us this method through the illustration of swarming locust devouring everything.  The locusts are His well organized, efficient unrelenting army, used by Him to bring Israel low and to drive them back to Him.  It seems cruel at first, but it was us who left Him, took our focus off of Him, strayed from His path and purpose, forgot our way and who directs it. Yet, in 12 and 13, He is giving us the opportunity to change that. If we render our hearts, not just dress up and play the part, really lay bare our hearts to Him, he will deliver us from the army He sends against us.  

Joel 2:25-27 (NASB)  Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied And praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; Then My people will never be put to shame. Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, And that I am the Lord your God, And there is no other; And My people will never be put to shame.        


In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace


Or the Highway


We have a strong-willed 3 year old who is usually a fairly good kid, most of the time.  When he gets tired, or if he decides there is something he wants he becomes determined and won’t budge from his demands.  We often give him an option from two acceptable choices and let him pick, and if neither is a good choice in his eyes, he stands there and pouts and tries to wait you out.  It doesn’t work.  We don’t budge, but if we did, his determination would instantly grow ten-fold.  Once we think a tactic works to get our way, we are even more motivated to try it again.  I am amazed at how often I think some of these 3 year-old tactics will work for me as well.  What about you…what strategies have you used to convince someone that you are right and should get what you want?  Does it always work?

“This, then, is how you should pray:  “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Matthew 6:9-10

If we think we can trick God into getting what we want, then we would stick with this strategy and always try to find a way, because we know better, right?  If we were just persistent in asking for what we thought was best for us, we may be able to wait him out, or change his mind.  Or maybe by waiting, we may change our own minds.  When we go to God in prayer, it is not about asking God to give us what we want, but to conform our wills to His, because what He wants is always best.  Maybe not always for us, but for others, and maybe not in the short term, but often in the long-term.  May we hear from God today about what is best and may we then act accordingly!

“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”  Mark 14:36

Yours in Christ,

Live a Better Story- Part 3

Have you ever wondered if there was more to following Jesus than being forgiven for your sins?  If you have ever had that thought, you are right!  Not that if the only thing received was forgiveness that would be enough, and we should praise and worship in response for all eternity. Jesus forgave us by His death but he actually died so we could have Freedom!  

800 years before Jesus the prophet Isaiah told us what would happen to Jesus and why.  He endured 4 unique wounds so we could experience the life He desires us to live.

Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins.  He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.

The Whip: Freedom for my body “by His stripes we are healed”

The first wound was the whip or “cat of nine tails.”  It had a two handed handle and nine leather chords, each with pieces of rock, stone, glass, and metal tied to it with horse hair.  They would soak the whip in water to make it heavy.  They would whip you 13 times across each shoulder muscle and 13 times down your spine, let it stick and then pull down to sever the muscle.  I have been physically healed and I know many people who have been healed.  God still heals today!  Does He always heal? No. Why? I don’t know.  But we can go to Him with our brokenness and know He heals us.

The Thorns: Freedom for my mind “The punishment that brought us peace”

I know depression.  I know sadness that overwhelms me.  I know anxiety worrying if there will be enough.  I know fear that cripples my faith. I know what it is to have no peace in my mind.  I also know what it is to walk in freedom here!  Though the circumstances were just as big, in my mind the peace of Jesus overcomes the depression, anxiety, and fear.   So how do you get this kind of peace?  I am sure there are places in you mind where you lack peace.  You lose sleep over things that might happen, you don’t like being alone in silence because silence makes you uncomfortable, you stuff emotions choices you have made and will not look yourself in the eyes, you overcompensate for your lack hoping people won’t notice. Don’t worry you are not alone and Jesus knew you would be here.  This peace is not earned but received. 

The Nails: Freedom for your hands “Pierced for our transgressions” 

He was nailed to a cross for a slow suffocation to maximize torture. This was for the sin we chose to do. We knew it was wrong, we knew they would get hurt, we knew it was selfish, we know it had consequences and we did it anyways. You see the nails were in his hands and feet.  It was our hands that did the sin, and our feet that got us there. This is for the forgiveness of what we have done, are doing, and will do.  Jesus knew it all and died for you anyways. He bore your shame so you could have peace in your soul.  He not only did this to forgive you but he wants to give you the ability to forgive yourself.

The Spear: Freedom for my heart “crushed for our iniquity”

Finally, they took a spear and drove it under his ribs into His heart.  When they did this water came before blood, showing His heart sack had already been broken.  You see He did not die of blood loss, suffocation, but of heartbreak.  I know what it is to have my heart broken and be betrayed. You are overwhelmed by everything to such a level that you can only see your hurt. The Father turned His back on Jesus so He didn’t have to do it to us.  That is what crushed Him. He bore the weight of our inherited sin passed down to us by our families.  

This is the Freedom He purchased.  It is received and not earned.  Some of you need to read this 3x times today to let it sink in.  Where do you need freedom today?  Go to the source!  Receive out of relationship and not religion.

Helping People Live a Better Story

Brandon Sereg


We Need a Light

I’m going to man up and admit that, seventeen years ago, I fairly well botched my proposal to my wife (well, at least according to my planes). I was working at Inspiration Hills, a Christian camp in northwest Iowa, and I had been planning “the perfect proposal” for a few months. When Andrea came for the weekend I took her on a hike, leading her to a large hill near camp. From this hill you could see Iowa, South Dakota, and Minnesota, and at the pinnacle was a large cross. When we got to the cross I knelt on one knee, said something romantic (again, at least in my mind!), 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, flailing around on my hands and knees trying to find the flashlight (in order to find the ring), 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 seventeen years later we are about to celebrate 15 years of marriage.

It’s hard to find anything in the dark, let alone something tiny like a ring. Likewise, it’s extremely difficult to correctly find our way in our world without someone to guide us. Its certainly not because the world doesn’t try to direct us. It seems like, more then ever, the world is trying to lead us down all sorts of negative paths. 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, wonderfully 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. 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 this dark world.

Nothing Special

Isaiah 64:8 New International Version (NIV)

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
    We are the clay, you are the potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.

There is not anything special about you. Ever had those words spoken to you? 

I was with another man for breakfast, and we were talking about men’s ministry. We were talking about how to engage men and to get mens’ attention in ministry. I love men’s ministry. There is something about it that just lights me up every time I am teaching or preaching. I was having an enjoyable breakfast with this other men, when our conversation took a side track.

This man says to me, “There’s really nothing special about you. You’re just a man’s man.” I stepped back a bit with this comment. Immediately, my accomplishments started running through my mind from business and ministry. The words, “There is nothing special about you.” pierced me.

That evening I shared my conversation about what had been said with my wife. She thought about it, and said, “Let’s think about this.” She knows how I like Elijah, so she talked about how there was nothing special about Elijah, the prophet. He was an ordinary man like everyone else. What did set him apart was his passion for God. He had passion for the Father, and that made Elijah the man he was.

In truth men, there really is not anything special about any man, but what does make him special is his obedience and passion for the Lord. The Father is the Potter, and we are the clay. In that, we are all unique and special to God, our Father. 

This should be encouragement for all to chase after the Lord.

Strength and Courage



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