Endeavor to Perservere

Romans 5:3-4 (NKJV) And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Most of you are aware by now, that I rather enjoy bowhunting.  Last week I mentioned that I had completed the research and application process of my annual alpine pilgrimage.  This past week I have focused on researching my hunting areas, reading articles and preparing for a training regimen.  

The past few years I have noticed a significant decrease in my fitness and endurance, making each year on the mountain a little tougher than the last.  Elk hunting is hard and being in shape is certainly a boost to the potential for success.  I have decided and set myself on a course and plan to get myself in the best shape I can for this year’s hunt.

While reading an article geared toward “mountain readiness”, I came across a quote from a gentleman by the name of Lazarus Lake and in it he said, “if you’re going to face a real challenge, it has to be a REAL challenge.  You can’t accomplish anything without the possibility of failure.”  These two sentences really struck me.  I pondered them, and thought about how that applied to my goals for this fall.  For me, part of the appeal of DIY, backcountry elk hunting is the challenge of it all.  It’s pursuit of elusive game, in difficult terrain, in uncertain conditions.  It tests a person’s metal.  It pushes you to physical and mental extremes.  By preparing the body to it’s utmost, the mind will be prepared to follow.  The harder I work now, the greater the accomplishment will be this fall.  

Isn’t that true of so much in life.  Personally, I find greater satisfaction in accomplishing something that I truly had to work for.  I’ve been blessed, no doubt, but in so many areas, God first required work from me, then blessed my efforts.  

How can I apply this to my walk with the Lord.  God graciously, no strings attached, offers the gifts of His love, grace and eternal life freely to us.  However, how much more will we receive from knowing that we bring all that we can to the relationship?  How hard am I really working to “know” Jesus?  Do I read my bible and pray as often as I could?How hard am I really working to illustrate to others God’s glory?  When faced with obstacles, opportunities to illuminate God’s power through me, do I quit, complain, lash out?  What would God create in me, create for me if I pushed myself to my max to be the best me He’d have me be?  What would happen?  My guess…..’it would be a boost to the potential for success’.  So, shouldn’t I be training my heart for God?  Doing so, very well may not diminish the amount or severity of obstacles landing in my path.  It will, however, better equip me to persevere.  “Where the body is capable, so shall the mind go”, right?  

Mark 4:17 (NKJV) and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.

Just a seed God planted and I have been strongly listening to.  Where can you put in the work and prepare yourself, so that you may endeavor to persevere?  May God bless you all.      

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Tested and True

 

Is there any piece of equipment you have used at work or home that has proven itself and convinced you to be a loyal fan?  Maybe it is a brand of vehicle, tires, tools, shoes, etc. that has worked well for you and will be what you turn to first when you need something new.  Maybe when someone asks you for advice on what to buy, you give them your testimony on said product and encourage them to try it out.  I have done the same with some businesses and services I have used.  In every profession (doctor, mechanic, accountant, pastor, contractor, etc), there are some people I would trust with my life, and others I would not trust for one moment, even with my dog.  Whether they have proven trustworthy or dishonest in the past will greatly influence your recommendations.  Do we do the same with God’s Word?  Do we find it true, once it has been tested?

 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  John 17:17

I am amazed at what some people will believe.  In a world full spinning and twisting of the truth and flat out lies, one may become discouraged to believe anything is true.  Just listen to the banter of politics for a day and you may wonder if the truth will ever be found out.  They say seeing is believing, and it is almost as easy to dupe some with edited photos that seem to show evidence, yet is far from being true.  The saying ‘if it sounds/looks too good to be true, then it probably is’ is true more often than not.  The only exception we may ever find to this is when it is from God.  The truth found in the Gospel of Jesus may sound too good to be true to some, but it is true.  Using God’s word to change the attitudes of unbelievers (aka ‘bible bashing’) does not always work because most of them don’t accept God’s word as truth.  The Gospel opens the eyes of those who are seeking the truth, and returns those of us who are believers to these truths time and time again.  They are proven true as we live out his word in our lives. 

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  John 20:19

Even as Jesus walked among so many in his time, there were many who rejected him.  Even some among his disciples did not always understand or believe in what he was saying.  Have you ever wondered what you would have thought or done if you would have crossed his path 2000 years ago, or even today?  The attitudes and actions of people have really not changed all that much in all the years we have been around.  Schemers and scammers trying to get to your personal info through online, email, and phone ploys are nothing new.  People like this have been around forever, its just the techniques they use that changes with technology.  There are many who will lie, cheat, and steal to get what they want.  Though there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing all around us, being able to discern the truth from the lies gets a little easier with practice, the more you see, and as you learn to trust his Spirit to lead you in all truth.  As he sanctifies us, the more we will strive for what is true and abhor what is false. 

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  I John 4:1

What truths do you hold closest to your heart?  How has God proven himself and his word true to you?  Maybe there are some verses that inspire you and have special meaning in your life.  When you have opportunities, share these with others when you can.  It is encouraging to your fellow believers, and reveals the truth found in God’s Word to those who may not know it.  Brothers, as God enables us, let us strive to live a life that reflects the Spirit of Christ within us, full of grace and truth!

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

Strength and Courage in Christ,

Clark

My Source

I know being a husband, a dad, and working with other people has caused me to ask questions I have a hard time answering.  Then I after sitting in a question for awhile, I have more question. These questions are even harder than the first.  I know I don’t have the answers and feel like they are so far above my ability to understand.  Now I feel discouraged.  So I look to other people and for every person I ask, I get a different answer.  So where is my source that is steady, consistent, and worthy of my submission?

This week, I read…

Psalm 119:25 I lie in the dust;
    revive me by your word.
26 I told you my plans, and you answered.
    Now teach me your decrees.
27 Help me understand the meaning of your commandments,
    and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds.
28 I weep with sorrow;
    encourage me by your word.

I think the Word of God is supposed to be that source!  Think about some of these phrases… You revive me by your word, you answered, you help me understand, and encouraged by your word. I don’t know about you, but revived, answered, helped, and encouraged are all things I need.  Here I find that the source of all of those things is in God’s Word!

29 Keep me from lying to myself;
    give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.
30 I have chosen to be faithful;
    I have determined to live by your regulations.
31 I cling to your laws.
    Lord, don’t let me be put to shame!
32 I will pursue your commands,
    for you expand my understanding.

This starts with a desire to not lie to myself.  How do I know if I am lying to myself? It is by the privilege of knowing God’s instruction, comparing it to my plan, and finding there is a gap. As a result, I can live the last three verses… I have chosen, I have determined, I cling to, I will pursue… because you have expanded my understanding.

So where is your source to be… revived, answered, helped, and encouraged?  If it is anywhere but God’s word, it will always be temporary and lacking.  When you put deep roots into and drink from God’s deep well of wisdom and love, you will find yourself living in the fullness of what He designed for you!  If you need wisdom, encouragement, direction, or help go to the only One who is worthy to be that source for you!

So today, right now, GO to Jesus and ask Him to give you what you need and allow Him to fill you up!

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Easy Leadership

Over the past thirty years leadership has become one of the largest topics in politics, business, and religion. An entire industry has sprung up to teach us how to be leaders in virtually every aspect of life, with Americans spending nearly $25 billion PER YEAR trying to make themselves better leaders. Thirty years ago a budding pastor in seminary may take a one-hour course on leadership that focused on Robert’s Rules of Order and their denomination’s book of order, and lay leaders may have had a one-hour orientation to their church’s bylaws. Today seminaries offer entire tracks on leadership, and churches often send their lay leaders to multi-day leadership conferences. Leadership, however, is far from a new concept. God has been calling people to be leaders since creation. He calls us to lead our families, our friends, and our churches. God’s goal in leadership has always been quite simple: to bring glory to God and to make others better.

 

I want to offer three leadership principles outlined in the second chapter of Nehemiah. In this chapter Nehemiah, who serves in a senior position to the King of Babylon, asks the King to allow him to return to Jerusalem to help his people rebuild the city. In an era in which kings had absolute authority this was a request that carried substantial risk. Yet Nehemiah, who felt God calling him to make a difference, chose to take that risk for God’s glory and the benefit of the Israelites. Here are three things he teaches us about leadership that I hope we can all adopt in our own lives:

 

  1. Define your mission {Nehemiah 2:4-5}: Want to make an impact for God in your family, workplace, church, and world? Then start by clearly defining what it is you are setting out to do. Think it out, write it down, share it with others {for accountability}, and, most importantly, share it with God in prayer.
  2. Make plans carefully {Nehemiah 2:6-8}: Nehemiah made incredibly detailed plans to ensure his work would be successful. Sometimes we can be tempted to not put in the work, simply saying, “well, if God wants this to happen then He’ll make it happen regardless.” Yet, that’s not what we see happen in scripture. God desires us to put in the work, and then blesses that work. I always tell aspiring leaders that we need to plan and work hard, and then trust God to bless it and use it.
  3. Inspire Others {Nehemiah 2:17-18}: We often equate leadership with the individual. Someone is a good leader because they make good decisions, speak well, and get good results. We miss perhaps the most important aspect of leadership we see in scripture: inspiring others. Nehemiah was successful because he inspired the Israelites to rebuild the city. Paul was successful because he inspired community after community to follow Christ. Are you inspiring others in your life to follow and serve God?

Perish and Provide

23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Luke 9:23 New International Version (NIV)

Before you start thinking today, here we go. I have heard this before. I want you to put a different lens cover on your glasses. Yes, Jesus is saying this to everyone who has had breath in their lungs. Right?

What if we would put it in a way that declared a man’s true manhood? Are we not called as husbands, fathers, and grandfathers to a higher purpose in life?

Too often men hide behind manhood and continue boyhood instead. They are boys in a man’s body. You are probably thinking I am going for the throat today, but I am really not.

Jesus was a real man’s man. He worked hard. He stood in for his earthly father. He provided for his siblings, and he loved his mother well. Only a man who loved his mom so much would tell his closet friend to care for her while he hung on the cross as he fought for each and every breath he took.

We have a choice in life to perish or provide. What I mean by that is was are called to be disciples and follow Christ. Submission to that beginning step into manhood is important. We are to have living life like a boy perish, and we are to step into manhood being called to provide is a life of manhood.

There is a price to being the provider. You get up. Go to work. Hold a job. You do this each and every day, again and again. In doing that, you perish to living for only you.

Yes, every man needs some me time, but me time does not return us to a lifestyle of boy time. One of my favorite me time activities is riding my Harley. I love to ride and ride hard. It gets me into my nothing box, and only men can understand this. But I am still a man in that box. I do not yield to sins of the flesh in those moments.

I am going to leave you today with this thought about perish and provide by a man who faced both and lived it. Here is the quote:

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Strength and Courage

Michael

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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