Watch Your Words

James 3:6 (NKJV) And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. facebook_1463723379959God has blessed and gifted me in an array of areas. One of His gifts is my ability to communicate. He gifted me with a quick wit, an ability to deductively reason, evaluate and read people and situations and then effectively communicate ideas across a great many levels. That is a blessing, for sure. Let me assure you, I share this self evaluation in all humility and give God full credit and glory for His graciousness. A blessing, no doubt, that is until it is perverted, manipulated, abused and weaponized. Then it is a curse to befall someone. You see, He gifted me in a way that can be very beneficial to His church, the community, my family and my friends. He can use me, like He’s doing right this moment. Or… I can abuse it. He can use me and this gift to bring about healing of hearts, for teaching, for encouragement, to bring the Gospel to those that need to hear it in just such a way. It’s a powerful gift. It can be fruitful and beautiful. Or… it can bring pain, destruction and misery. God’s conviction is painful, because it is true. I have abused the power He entrusted to me. I have used it against people who love and trust me. I have used it to inflict pain for spite’s sake. I have weaponized my words to hurt people close to me, because I can, and I felt justified. Why? Perhaps a slight? Probably merely perceived. Beat them to it? They were not likely headed there. Well they…fill in the blank. GARBAGE! I do it because I’m human. I’m weak. I’m ill tempered, self centered and insecure. I want to feel power over something or someone, so I attack. Sad! Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:5 (NKJV) Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Scott, you want power? There’s real power, “meek”. To be meek, to exercise meekness, sounds like an inferior position to most. Society today equates that word with weakness, cast down, wimpy. It’s not. To be meek is to exercise restraint when you could so easily overpower and subdue. Meekness is power controlled, managed, restrained when it would be easier to unleash. Meekness is humility, tenderness, compassion, empathy. Meekness is power. Meekness is Christ acted out. God had the power to do whatever to whomever He chose. Those who spat on Him, cursed Him, hated and reviled Him, in a breath He could have annihilated them, but He didn’t. He chose meekness, power restrained. He chose love. My words should be used for inspiration, teaching and healing. My words should be an illustration of God’s love and grace, not twisted for spite and vengeance. James 3:9,10 (NKJV) With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. To pervert this gift, nullifies my effectiveness. It undoes what God would use me for. Lord, I thank you for bringing this to the forefront for me. Forgive me God for this abuse and perversion of Your gracious gift. I ask that you continue to shape my character, refine me Lord. Help me Lord to proceed in humility and meekness, to use this gift in a way that only honors you Father. Amen In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy, Scott Pace

Excuse Me

You Pointing-Finger

Have you ever been blamed for something you didn’t do?  Its not a good feeling.  In fact, we hear stories fairly frequently of people wrongly imprisoned for crimes they did not commit.  Can there be a worse injustice?  When things don’t go our way, when we are late, when we don’t get our work done, etc, our natural response is to look for an excuse and point the finger at someone other than ourselves.  We like to blame others for our own faults.  Just listen to a group of kids at recess an you will get an earful of squabbles and tattle tales assigning blame.  Adults are not much different.  You can also listen to any of the presidential candidate debates and you will hear a lot of blame shifting and name calling from almost everyone.  Why are we so quick to make excuses and pass judgement on anyone other than us? 

He said to another man, “Follow me.”  But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”  Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  Luke 9:59-60

I regularly go into people’s homes for work and I often hear parents excusing the messy house because of the children.  This is often true.  Just leave 2 young kids alone in a room for 10 minutes and it will change dramatically!  Why are we so self-conscious about our appearances?  What will they think of me if my kids are not well dressed, my yard does not get mowed this weekend, if there is rust on my car, or my life is not perfect?  What will God/others think of me if I back out of this project, or I choose to be selfish instead of doing what I know I should?  Self- awareness of our sins and failures is the first step toward any type of change.  What excuses do you give for your shortcomings before God or others?

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.  Romans 8:1-2

Self- condemnation for things beyond our control is equally as damaging and is another form of blame shifting upon ourselves.  Christian guilt is not always the best motive for action.  It is also easy to blame God for the Christian and non-Christian alike.  If God is all powerful, why doesn’t he do this.  If God really loved me, why doesn’t he give me what I want?  You get the idea.  In reality, God did take our blame when he didn’t have to.  When Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the cross, it was an expression of his love for us.  He allowed the finger to be pointed at himself when he was innocent. 

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  John 15:12-13

While we do not have to accept the blame for everyone else’s mistakes, let us stand for truth and justice when we have opportunities each day.  Let us also take responsibility for our own actions and not believe the lies that we tell ourselves to shift the blame.  Trying to show love to others in a society that attempts to justify every evil action is not an easy task, but it is one action that God calls us to take!


Strength and Courage in Christ,
Clark

How to relate with Jesus

Like when I first got married, I knew I was supposed to “leave my parents and cleve to my wife” but I had a really good dad.  What is my relationship with him supposed to look like?  I knew I shouldn’t talk about marriage problems or struggles I had with Johna, but what can I talk about?  Money has a lot to do with marriage, can I talk with him about that? I did not know how to relate with my dad.

Have you ever felt that way with Jesus?  Like you know Jesus loves you, died for you, and wants to know you, but you don’t know how to engage with Him.  One way that has really helped me along the way is to know how Jesus wants to relate to me.  Jesus called himself a shepherd and said I am like his sheep.  

photo-1423766111988-c47a5ff6ed06John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.

So here are 3 things a shepherd does:

  1. Defend the sheep

A good shepherd does not expect the sheep to defend itself. Now a sheep should stay where the shepherd has designated, and sheep do tend to wander away.  If a lion or a bear come for a sheep, a good shepherd defends the flock.  Even when a sheep wanders, the parable of the lost sheep says, the good shepherd leaves the 99 to get the one that went their own way.  So where are you looking to defend yourself instead of letting Jesus defend you?  Where are you straying from Jesus and need to call out to have Him rescue you?

2. Lead the sheep

Psalm 23 says he leads us to green pasture and still water.  He is our source.  Money, sex, success, GPAs, food, and relationships are all good things, but the make terrible sources for our lives.  They make terrible gods.  The Good Shepherd wants to lead you to live giving places, but might lead you through a desert, wilderness, thorn bush to get there.  He alone knows what lies on the smoother path.  A good sheep learns to trust the the good Shepherd has the best plan.  Where are you trying to make your own way?  What are you trusting in to be your source? Where do you need to be a good sheep and trust where the shepherd is leading you?

3. Care for sheep

A good shepherd cares for their sheep.  They are not concern with only what they get from them, but has great intensions for them.  A good shepherd cleans wounds, carries when exhausted, watches late into the night, lays down his life for his sheep.  That is what Jesus wants to do in you. What wounds do you need him to clean?  Where do you need Him to carry you?  

For Jesus to be your shepherd you have to choose to be His sheep!  Let Him protect, lead, and care for you.  

Recklessly, Obsessively Following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

despair-1436325-639x426In my last ministry position I had leadership of a post-high ministry haphazardly tacked onto my job description. We had around six young adults that met regularly in my basement for a time of conversation, food, and Bible study. They ate the food provided, ate food out of my kitchen that WAS NOT provided, and even broke my couch. That summer we even did a post-high trip, renting a houseboat and traveling up the Mississippi. It was a fun trip everyone enjoyed, but I was not really sure anything deeply spiritual happened. To make matter worse, when we returned the boat we had broken the prop and had to pay $600 for it. After a year of ministry I really felt all we had accomplished was breaking a couch and a boat! Talk about discouragement!

 

If you serve God for any amount of time you are going to encounter discouragement. You work hard on a lesson, only to hear complaints. You get up the courage to share the gospel, only to get rejected. You spend your few free hours painting, only to be told that “so and so” does a better job. Serving God can certainly be an incredibly discouraging undertaking.

 

There is a great illustration of this in Nehemiah chapter four. Nehemiah has traveled over 1,000 miles to help rebuild Jerusalem, only to encounter all sorts of discouragement. Enemy armies want to attack the workers, the workers complain of being overworked, and the local citizens complain about the whole thing ten times in a row. For most of us all that discouragement would have been enough to toss in the towel, but not so for Nehemiah. Instead, he takes these four steps to defeat discouragement.

 

  1. He prays: as soon as he faces difficulty Nehemiah turns to God in prayer. In the face of difficulty do we do the same, or do we instead begin complaining or even giving up?
  2. He thinks it through: Nehemiah asks the question: why are we building this wall? The answer? For God’s glory and for the safety of His people. When you are discouraged serving God take a moment to remember why you are doing what you are doing.
  3. He takes action: In the face of danger Nehemiah forms security details to protect the city. He just doesn’t think and complain, as we are prone to, but takes the action that is necessary.
  4. He has faith: After praying, thinking, and acting Nehemiah trusts God with the result. Back to that post-high ministry. I prayed, I thought, and I acted, but I didn’t trust God, and that led to discouragement. Yet, just two weeks ago, I got an unsolicited email from someone telling me that being involved in that ministry had changed his life. He talked about how much he grew each week, and even how important that House Boat trip was. Where I had been discouraged God was act work doing something big. May we all keep serving through the discouraging times, trusting God with the results.

 

Peter – Leader Of Men

Luke 5:5New International Version (NIV)

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

In the early stages in Peter’s life we see two men in conflict within one body. Simon was the earlier man, the one who was putting his foot in his mouth most of the time. He was making action without thinking.

Then we also see the other side of him who is Peter. This was the disciple Jesus called out in him. Whenever Jesus called him Peter, rather than Simon, it would bring him to an about face in his mind.

As men, we can have an inner battle as well. It can be one that calls out to our insecurities or to our boyish nature. Reacting rather than responding to most situations is one, and wanting to play the boy rather than the man is another. 

Jesus saw something inside of Peter that Peter could not see himself. If you read further in Luke 5, you see that Peter obeyed Jesus and caught a great deal of fish that day. They caught so many fish that the boat begins to sink. It was a awesome catch!

I like what is says in verse 8, ‘Peter falls to his knees before the Lord and asks him to please leave me, I am too much of a sinner to be around you.’ That is the truth. Every man on the planet is a sinner, but because of the love of Christ, he extends us grace.

Peter later became the ‘Rock’ in which Christ said that he would extend his church. True men of God see their sins. They fall on their knees asking for forgiveness and stand being real men who love Jesus. Are you ready to be a leader for Christ?

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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