By a Thread?

At almost any time of the day, we are only a moment away from disaster.   Whether it is a letter or phone call with bad news about our health, an accident, the unexpected death of a loved one, a broken relationship, becoming trapped by an addiction, losing our job, or any number of other things that may blindside us in life. If we lived in constant fear of what disaster might happen next, we would be imprisoned by our paranoia, so we most often live as if the next minute will turn out just fine, without a second thought as to how precarious we can be between life and death. Do you ever think about these things, or ever wonder ‘why am I still here’ with all that has happened in your life?

Lord, what are human beings that you care for them, mere mortals that you think of them? They are like a breath; their days are like a fleeting shadow. Psalm 144:3-4

When we are sidelined by something as common as the flu, or any number of other setbacks to our plans I would call ‘minor emergencies’, we are reminded in a gentle way that we are not always in control of what may happen next. Whether it is the weather in the form of a blizzard that shuts everything down, or a family emergency that makes us drop everything to help out someone in need, we are not without trials and setbacks in all areas of life. Most of us put on a good face and never acknowledge most of the trials and frustrations in our lives to everyone but those closest to us. We don’t want to give the appearance of being weak or not in control, but at times that is truly where we are.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.   Psalm 121:1-2

The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all. Psalm 34:19

Most of us have had some close calls in life where it could have easily gone another way without much effort. Many have experienced a near miss while driving or an accident that easily could have taken your life. I remember when I was learning to ski and came down a hill way to fast, where I was just able to make a turn on the edge of control to keep from crashing into a bunch of trees. We all have a list of things that make us wonder what would have happened if things had gone just a little different.

Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.   Psalm 54:4

When disaster hits, we see a variety of responses. We are reminded of amazing abilities to go above and beyond what we thought was possible with how emergency personnel and regular people responded during the attacks on 9-11-01. There are others who run away or shut down when they don’t know how else to respond. They may try to cover over their pain or medicate it in unhealthy ways. They may lash out and blame themselves, others, or God for their trials. We may also reach out toward a helping hand that we might not have otherwise noticed. How do you respond when reality hits? What have been your past reactions?

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:14-16

Let us look at these reminders in our lives to direct us to what is most important, and to use our time wisely. If you were told you had 5 days left to live, I’m sure you would find a new urgency to talk to some people and complete some tasks you have been putting off for too long. Live life with an appreciation and a heart of gratitude at all times, whether things are going your way or not. Be an encouragement and a source of strength to those in your life who are going through a difficult time. You don’t always have to have all the answers for everyone, but find a way to show that you care. Be generous with love, share truth found in the Gospel, and appreciate each day as if it were your last!

Yours in Christ,
Clark

4 Kinds of People (Part 1)

I went to several parties in High School.  They were your typical high school parties with a lot of craziness and little accountability. I thought I could handle it without doing anything stupid. I heard adults say it was a bad idea, but in my mind I was smarter than them. Now God has made me a youth pastor, I love the irony.  

Proverbs has a lot to say about wisdom and what it means to walk in wisdom.  There are 4 kinds people talked about the most.  There is the simple, the fool, the mocker, and the wise.  Today we are going to talk only about the first two.

The Simple

The simple person is someone who lacks experience.  There is nothing wrong with them, they are just simple.  Their perspective of how the world works and what wisdom really looks like is limited to their personal experience.  They have not yet learned to trust what other peoples experiences have shown them. Taylor Swift says it best, “when your 15 and someone tells you they love you, your going to believe them.”

Some phrases of the simple: “Nothing is going to happen.”  I am sure you have never used this line, maybe it is just me.  Wisdom does not come natural at this phase of life.  How many of us have stories we wish we didn’t have because we have said this.  Another phrase is “I can handle it” So many men I know have addictions and worse stories as a result of this attitude. The older we get we don’t say this out loud, we just think it and do it anyway. Or “Your Overreacting.”  How many times have we said or thought this to our wives, bosses, pastors, or God?  We make little of things that are not big deals yet, but we all know how it ends.

The cure for the simple is time and applying wisdom learned from others.   So where are you walking with a simple mindset and refusing to walk in wisdom?

The Fool

The fool knows wisdom but doesn’t care. Their attitude is “I don’t give a ________” Depending on who you hang out with determines how they fill in that blank. 

Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.
Proverbs 10:23 A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes,

Fools don’t learn from their mistakes and they find pleasure in their defying wisdom!  They do not have their best interest in mind.  Now if you are friends with a fool…

Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

The fool gets people hurt.  They do not care about the consequences of their decisions. They do not care about their body of their future. They get people and themselves hurt. 

Where are you walking as a fool?  You know the road you are on ends bad, but you do it anyway.  You know you need to bring something to the light but fear holds you captive.

The cure for the fool is tragedy.  They will eventually suffer harm. So where do you have a “I don’t care attitude?”  Where do you need to seek wisdom?

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Serve Like Jesus

So, it was my birthday this weekend. Woo-hoo. Since I was about ten I have not cared about my birthday. Sure, I’ll gladly accept your well wishes and gifts, but the day honestly has little meaning to me. Now, I’m totally not judging anyone who makes their birthday a big deal, it’s just not something that excites me. This year my birthday landed on a Sunday, which tends to be a busy day for someone in ministry. On top of my normal Sunday responsibilities my wife was singing in praise band and our five-year old had a 103-degree temperature. This led to me constantly shuffling between church duties, my sick son, and trying to prepare lunch. Of course, when I went to start lunch none of the dishes had been done from the night before, so I first had to do dishes {which, of course, I did without muttering anything derogatory under my breath!}. Then my son spilled all over the floor, leading to a substantial cleanup project. My well-planned afternoon birthday bike ride was ruined by hurricane force winds, and my son’s sickness torpedoed the one thing I had really wanted for my birthday: a family dinner at a favorite restaurant. At around 6PM I found myself frantically searching our cupboards for ingredients to somehow make my own birthday dinner. The following thought then came into my head: “all I’ve done all day is serve others. It’s my birthday for crying out loud! When are they going to serve me!”

 

Soon after that thought came into my mind I was reminded of this verse: the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many Matthew 20:28. Yep, not a very Christ-like thought I had just had! Now, when we hear the term Christ-like we usually think of moral perfection {i.e. not committing sins}. Yet, moral perfection is only part of what it means to live like Christ. At the core of Jesus’s teaching, ministry, and mission on earth was serving others. Think about who Jesus is. Jesus is the creator and ruler of the universe who chooses to take on the wretched flesh of humanity to serve us. Christ serves us not only by his teaching and ministry, but by His sacrificial death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. I want to offer this thought today: to live like Christ is to always be living as a servant. It means putting yourself aside {even on your Birthday} to improve the lives of others. It means joyfully serving, even when it means sacrificing your own wants and desires. It means holding serving others as a core value. Does that describe you? It certainly does not always describe me, but it does describe who I want to strive to be. This week, lets all strive to be more Christ like as we actively serve others.

4 Weeks

 Acts 10:38 New International Version (NIV)

38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

 

What if you knew that you only had 4 weeks to live? Would you quit your job? Would you take a trip? Maybe you would take 4 weeks and spend with family and friends. Have you ever wondered what Jesus did his last 4 weeks?

I went on a search to find out that question. The only thing I could find is that his ministry lasted 3 to 3 1/2 years. We also know from Scripture his final week from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Day, ‘Easter’. Not much is said about his final month.

We do know that because of his relationship with the Heavenly Father that he knew his time was about out. Yet, from Scripture in Acts 10:38, we know that he continued going about doing good.

Jesus did not allow his final 4 weeks to be about him. Full of the Holy Spirit, he went about healing and helping those who were oppressed by the devil. He did not miss a step. He lived life on earth to the fullest doing the will of the Father.

This challenges me to do life as well. If it is 4 weeks, 4 months, or 4 years, what does it matter. I am called to do the will of the Father in my life, and the same Holy Spirit who filled Jesus can and does fill us.

I believe, men, if we would only tap the power of the Holy Spirit and do the Father’s will, we would see even more victories, healings, and captives set free. Jesus never quit and neither should we.

Stay the course, men, and live life to its fullest.

Strength and Courage

Mike

 

 

 

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1 Peter 3:7 New International Version (NIV)

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

 

Have you ever wondered why wives stop talking? Our wives like to communicate with us. Women converse with us in a communication called, ‘rapport-talk’. It is relationship oriented, emotionally expressive, and engaging. When you come home from work and your wife says, “How was your day?” She is attempting to ‘rapport-talk’ with you.

Men, I assure you if your wife is not talking, that is not always a good thing. They want to engage in communication by hearing the heart or soul strings. When we actively listen to our wives, we are communicating we value her. By listening, we communicate a desire for partnership.

Let’s listen to our wives in an understanding way. A good husband who listens, communicates verbally and nonverbally that ‘You are worth hearing’.

Fellowship of the Sword

 

Remember the men who are ‘Questing’ at Fellowship of the Sword.

March 6-11

We pray that their time with the Father brings openness to their hearts.

 

 

 

No Vital Men during Easter Week, March 21-25.

 

We are encouraging men to participate in the Church as we observe Holy Week and recognize what Jesus endured the final week that lead to the cross of his death and life in his resurrection.

 

 

Exciting times ahead, men. I pray that our Father will give you strength and courage in the journey.

Strength and Courage

Mike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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