Limitless?

We often hear parents tell their kids ‘you can be anything you want’ in regard to their future and careers.  It may be good to open their eyes to possibilities and give them hope, but it also may not be entirely true.  Not every child will get straight A’s and get in to every school they want and get a perfect job (no job is perfect).  We all face disappointment at some time.  We all have limits.  This past week has been one of the most challenging in recent memory.  It was not one catastrophic thing, but a series of events that tested the limits of what I thought I could handle in a day and over time.  Without going in to too much detail…my wife was gone for 11 days, I was in charge of 2 young kids, they got sick, got medicine, got worse, I got sick, the cat is nearly dead, work deadlines loomed, my father had health issues and is still in the hospital.  Granted, things could have been worse and there is an end in sight to some of these challenges, but in the midst of them, I felt like I was overboard, even after receiving help. 

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.  Psalm 46:1-2

Have you ever bitten off more than you can chew?  Whether it is more at work, overindulged in a hobby, kids in more activities than you can keep up with, or whatever you find yourself drowning in, you realize you have over committed.  It may not even be things you have chosen, but responsibilities imposed on you by someone else.  In the midst of the chaos, you may stop and ask – What am I doing?  Why am I doing this?  or Am I doing the right thing?  Just questioning your actions may help point you in the right direction.  Maybe it is starting to say no to things that are not necessary, to improve your ability to do the things that are necessary.  Maybe it is putting down your pride and asking for help in a season of need.  Maybe it is trusting in God to help you endure a difficult time in your life.  It may feel impossible in the midst of a time of struggle, but there is hope, even to the point and beyond death. 

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.   For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  2 Corinthians 4:16-17

We often hear that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.  This is true when it comes to temptation, as he gives us a way out, but not when it comes to trials.  Do we know how much we can handle?  Not unless we have been tested.  I believe often, he lets the natural consequence to events play out to what we believe is our detriment, and in reality, just reveals the true nature of our hearts.  We find out what we are made of and the limit of our abilities when the pressure cooker is on.  If what comes out of difficult situations is frustration, anger, and despair, then you are putting your hope in your own abilities instead of the one who made you.  When you are pushed beyond the limits of your own abilities and resources, you grow and are forced to trust in someone other than yourself.  You are being refined. 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  James 1:2-3

Limitless?  No, we all have limits to what we can do, though we often do not know what they are until we are tested.  Many times, the limits we perceive are often self imposed as we say “I could never do that.”  Instead of navel gazing and complaining in the midst of our difficulties, we need to look up, look beyond this momentary thing to the one who transcends time and death.  Christ is our example and the one who went before us, enduring more than we could imagine through the cross and beyond death.  He is our advocate and offers that same strength to us in our time off need.  Where we have limits, he does not!

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3

Strength and Courage in Christ,

Clark

Roots of Value

In high school, I loved my car.  I had a brand new red, 5 speed, 2 door Chevy Cavalier.  I had side graphics going down the side, tinted windows, spoiler designed for street racing, and a  pioneer sound system.  I LOVED THAT CAR!  I also had a car payment. I HATED THAT PAYMENT!

photo-1445001804887-80767051ecb4My freshman year of high school (before I had the car), I met a girl.  She would not give me the time of day.  I move to another state and you would think the story with this girl was over.  Junior year, I ask this girl to prom.  When I say I asked her to prom, I mean I asked if I could fly her to another state to attend a one night event at a small school. Up until this point, I took the trash out more than I could take a girl out. That is saying a lot considering my dad had to threaten, bribe, and threaten me again to get me to take out the trash.   Then the impossible happened.  The girl who never said yes when I lived in her town, just said yes to me in another state.  Within  a year, I LOVED THIS GIRL.  Over the next two years, we became best friends and I asked her to marry me. SHE SAID YES!!!!  All my friends ask, how I was able to marry out of my league.

One week before we get married, the girl I love totals the car I love.  My loves, my values collided.  I was so mad, yet so grateful for this girl. Feeling the tension? 

Philippians 3:8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.

This is the collision that happened when I started following Jesus.  I loved my friends, and I loved Jesus.  I loved parties, and I loved prayer.  These worlds didn’t mix.  I was one person at the party with my friend, yet I was another in prayer with Jesus.  Very quickly, I knew I had to choose.  Can I admit, it was a hard choice and it hurt?  So I chose Jesus.  My friends hated me and there were no more parties.  I would spend hours praying and spending Jesus.  Over time, my heart came alive and a strange thing happened.  I realized that parties, popularity, and the things I used to value didn’t matter anymore. 

I have been following Jesus for 14 years now, and you would think that I would have my values in order.  Every year, I find myself redefining my values.  Where do I find approval, time with family or at work, what is “real” success, or what does it mean to be generous?  I am finding the roots in my values and finding Jesus wants to tear out these bad roots. So many are roots in pride, selfishness, or fear.  Jesus wants to establish roots of love, joy, and faith. 

What do you value?  Friends, games, money, job, GPA, performance… What is the root of that value?  Right now, list 3-5 things you are working for.  Now write down next to each one why you want it? Fear of lack, fear of failure, trying to impress someone, prove yourself?  Now ask Jesus what He wants you to do?

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Serving can be a Sufferfest

cycling-1401407-639x424Four years ago I started getting into competitive cycling. I’ve been involved in competitive sports and activities all my life, but something has really struck me about the world of cycling: it is overtly fixated on suffering. Never before had I seen suffering elevated to such a lofty status. You can’t listen to coverage of the Tour de France without hearing commentators wax poetic about suffering. Suffering and success seem almost synonymous in the cycling world. In fact, a wildly popular online cycling training program is called Sufferfest. A winning cyclist would never say that a ride was good, fun, or successful, rather they would say “I really suffered out there today.” Why such a focus on suffering? Because in a cycling race the goal is to push your body to exert the most amount of energy possible over a course of roughly 100 miles. That will inevitably lead to A LOT of suffering: legs will ache, lungs will seemingly give out, and one’s body will want to shut down. A good cyclist endures a huge amount of suffering in order to emerge victorious.

 

In our Christian walk, however, there are probably few terms more negative then suffering. We tend to think of suffering as something that happens when we do not follow God’s ways, or when Satan’s gaze is honed in on us. Yet, much like a competitive cyclist, a hard-working disciple of Christ WILL ENDURE SUFFERING. It’s simply fact. If you serve in a church you will endure suffering: conflicts, tragic deaths, an unresponsive audience, an unruly Sunday school class, a poorly received budget report, etc. If you are working to reach the unreached you will experience suffering: you will be rejected, God will be rejected, people will backslide, etc. So, you better face it: if you want to serve God you better be willing to suffer. But, here’s the good news: when we experience suffering because of our service for God it is, like in cycling, not for nothing. Romans 5:3-5 tells us: we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

 

Now look, don’t run outside today and start beating yourself with a bat so you can experience the glory of God. What Paul is saying is that when we strive hard for Christ we will inevitably encounter suffering. But, instead of throwing our bike and going home, we plow through the suffering with the knowledge that our hard work and perseverance will bring glory to God. Serving will always have its rough spots, but it will also have its moments of victory: the unruly student accepts Christ, a family is comforted amidst unimaginable tragedy, and the rejected come to be part of God’s family. Keep pedaling through the struggles for God’s Kingdom!

Resolve

2 Timothy 2:15New International Version (NIV)

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Today, as Americans, we celebrate 240 years of American freedom. Men and women who formed this nation knew all too well that America’s freedom would cost lives. Yet, 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence by voting and signing the written document committing all they had for freedom.

Those men resolved that the Declaration on July 4th would be their commitment for our freedom that we experience today. They decided firmly on a course of action and saw it through.

What is your resolve today? Is your commitment not only for freedom in America as we celebrate it today, but is your resolve in your faith? Is there a course of action is seeing it through? These are tough questions on a holiday, but it is important to realize that our faith was also purchased with a resolve.

It says in the Bible in Romans 6:23, ‘For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord’.

We were sinners, consigned to death, and we had no way to stop sinning. Jesus came into this world and lived a perfect life, so death had no hold on him. Yet, by his glorious grace he chose to die on our behalf. He took on our sin and paid the penalty.

Jesus chose a resolve for this course of action by staying focused to the cross, and he saw it through. By doing so, he did it so that we might have life eternal with him. That resolve showed us his perfect love for all men.

Let’s celebrate our Declaration of Independence today and enjoy our freedom. Resolve cost American lives. Resolve in our faith cost the life of Jesus who rose again. Let’s live in freedom and in resolve as we stay the course in our lives pursuing our faith in Christ.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

FIVE REASONS
TO BE A VITAL MAN

IT IS VITAL TO HAVE CHRIST IN YOUR HEART AND KNOW HE IS YOUR SAVIOR.

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.”

Matthew 22:37
IT IS VITAL TO LOVE AND SERVANT-LEAD YOUR WIFE.

“Husbands go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did the church.”

Ephesians 5:25
IT IS VITAL TO LOVE YOUR CHILDREN AND BE AN EXAMPLE.

“He must manage his own family as well as having children who respect and obey him.”

1 Timothy 3:4
IT IS VITAL TO BE INVOLVED IN CHRIST’S CHURCH.

“Let us not neglect our meeting together as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.”

Hebrews 10:25
IT IS VITAL TO BE AN EXAMPLE OF CHRIST IN YOUR WORK AND COMMUNITY.

“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.”

Romans 12:1

 

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