The Price of Freedom

In our country, freedom is amazing.  You can grow up poor and in your 20’s become wealthy.  You can go bankrupt and start over.  We have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the right to own guns. We have the freedom to be educated no matter your social status or race.  This great freedom has come at a great cost.  In the wars we have been apart of, we have had almost 3,000,000 casualties and 1,400,000 deaths.  The price of our freedom is high.  Fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters did not come come come so we can have and keep these freedoms. 

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.

Jesus endured a great price so we can walk in freedom.  A crown of thorns and wiped beyond human recognition was the payment for your rebellion.  Rebellion is resistance to or defiance of any authority, control,or tradition. God has been very clear of His standard for us to live by and we openly went against that.   We deserve the punishment for our sin and Jesus took our place.  The father allowed His Son to be tortured and brutalized on our behalf. 

He purchased our ability to be made whole!  Not lacking, not depressed, not addicted, not empty and alone, but free to no longer be held back!  He purchased the key that unlocks our chains and bondage.  Our freedom is to be healed.  Healing in marriages, relationships, friendships! Healing in our bodies, our mind, our spirit.

If Jesus purchased all of that freedom, why do we still find ourselves empty, depressed, and broken? I believe it is because we are still trying to pay for it on our own.  We want healing because we have read enough self help books, been kind to others enough,  attended church enough, read our Bible enough… We still think we can cover the bill, and when it doesn’t happen we blame Jesus for it, when He is trying to get us to come to him and be dependent on Him and not our own goodness.  We can’t write a check big enough to purchase freedom in any part of our lives.  What we need is to do is go to Jesus and ask Him to set us free.  We lean into His strength and His performance for our freedom.  

So what role do we play?  We participate with grace by walking in obedience by His power.  The price of freedom is too high for us to ignore it or choose to not have it!  So where do you need freedom?  Where has Jesus purchased your freedom and you have chosen not to walk in it?

Go to Jesus and let him heal, forgive, and make you whole!

Recklessly Obsessively Following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Challenges

I’m writing this today as I sit on a street corner in the Achiuclinca neighborhood of Managua, Nicaragua. Over the past year our church has been building a partnership with three churches in this neighborhood, and this trip has been focused on learning more about them, their members, their community, and their culture. We’ve spent the week living amongst them in the sweltering heat (100 degrees plus each day), visiting their homes, worshiping with them, and sharing life together.


As we’ve engaged in dozens of conversations with Nicaraguan Christians this week God has convicted me of a number of things in my own life. I share these with you today because I think these are problems shared by many of us.

I’m incredibly ungrateful. The people I’ve met are quick to give God the glory for EVERYTHING in their lives. If their business is thriving they give God the glory. If they recover from illness God is praised. Even though they lack many of the luxuries you and I take for granted in life (including air conditioning on 100 plus degree days), they express incredible thankfulness to God. I don’t know about you, but I’m seldom very grateful for what God has done for me. If I experience joy and success I’m prone to be proud of myself instead of thanking God for blessing me.
I surrender so little to God in prayer. My Nicaraguan brothers and sisters are people incredibly dedicated to prayer. Not only do they maintain prayer lives that are wider and deeper then mine, they also value communal prayer. I was surprised that even though I am a stranger from a strange land many Nicaraguans shared sensitive prayer concerns with me because they see such value in prayer. I’ve been reminded this week that I need to not only go deeper and wider with my prayers, but to also be more open to sharing my petitions with others.
I trust myself more then I trust God. Nicaraguans I met seemed to trust God with every aspect of their lives. Again, they are no perfect in their faith, but their willingness to trust God to carry the, throw the ups and downs of life pales in comparison to my faith. I have learned much this week about surrender my worries and learning to trust God to provide and guide.

Again, my Nicaraguan brothers and sisters have not perfected faith, nor are we as Americans especially poor in our faith and practice. I have, however, been enormously challenged and inspired by my friends here in this beautiful land, and I hope these insights inspire you this week.

Making Men – Time To Engage

Colossians 3:5New International Version (NIV)

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

The key to engaging into true manhood is to tear out the weeds of passivity by the roots and get it out of our lives. The Scripture from Colossians names them. As men we struggle and fight with them.

Are you willing to kill them? Are you willing to get them out of your life? I like the commercial from Ram Trucks, “Grab Life By The Horns”. Grab that sin in your life by the horns and throw it down to the foot of the cross so Jesus can take it away.

We have discussed what it means, “Growing Up To Be Men” by Chuck Holton. I encourage everyone to look for it online or at your local book store and get it. 

So, how do we engage?

  • Submit to your Creator and His purpose for your life
  • Honor what is valuable; Reject what is worthless
  • Assess everything; Improve upon it
  • Perish to your desires; Provide for the needs of others

When you choose to engage in each step of the process, it will turn the boy into a Man of God. These concepts are worth living by and worth teaching to our sons and grandsons.

We will get to study this week or online what it means to ‘ENGAGE’. Will you choose or will the passivity run rampant in your veins? The choice in yours.

Israelite men would chant a word, “Chazaq”! This word means, ‘My Courage Comes From Above’. Let that be our calling, men. Stand in that courage that comes from only the Father from above.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

Coming up!! May 2 at Vermeer Global Pavilion, Vital Men is having a big event. Doors open at 5:30 pm along with food from Country Catering. The cost is $7.00 for a wonderful supper. We will be learning about what it means regarding, ‘Growing Up to be Men’. The featured speakers are Marty Schmidt from The Bridge in Ottumwa and Andrew Schmidt, from Celebrate in Knoxville. Music is by Now Serving 7 with Charlie Koopman from The Wave in Chicago, Illinois. Music kicks off at 6:30 pm with speaking ending at 8:30 pm. We are also featuring an obstacle course with great prizes!! Bring your sons, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, nephews, and friends. This is a great way to begin Tulip Time Week in Pella, Iowa!

 

Will the Men of God Please Rise Up?

Hebrews 11:5New International Version (NIV)

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

We need every man to call arms and rise for the event coming on May 2. I believe the Lord has something for us that night, and it will cause a great impact in our region. When men come together surrendered and submissive to God, great awakenings happen.

God saw that Enoch was pleasing by the way he lived life. I believe that God is looking for men who are willing to obey his commands and decrees for such a time as this. It is by inviting and pursuing men to come and fellowship together  that great things will happen. It will take all of us to band together in what it means in, ‘Growing Up to be Men’.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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

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