Fathers Needed

1 Timothy 5:8New International Version (NIV)

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

A father’s place in the home as AT Home. Most men are taken away from the home in order to provide for their families. It is Biblically a necessity. We are not called to be absent when we are home.

This past week I had a conversation with my son before he left America to go on a mission trip to Uganda. He was leading a group of twenty adults to do mission work at an orphanage. I am proud of him.

While I was talking with him on the phone, I heard my grandkids in the background. I asked what they were doing. Hours before his take off from the Kansas City Airport, he was taking time to play monopoly with them. He was being engaged in family time and being present at home.

Too often as men, we fail in those moments. We are so exhausted from work and the stress of life, we become more of a father in in the physical form rather than emotionally engaging with our families.

The Apostle Paul is pretty direct in this portion of Scripture. Those who choose not to care for their own household is worse than an unbeliever. That means they are lost. A lost father who only exists in a family is not leading in the way the Bible directs.

Fathers, choose to engage with your family. Your wife is counting on you. Your children are counting on you. Our Father in Heaven has placed you in such a time as this to lead your family. Love your family well.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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Stretched

Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV) But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

A few weeks ago,  Pastor Jeff Rabe, asked me for a favor.  He would be going on sabbatical for the month of June, and asked if I could fill in for him on the 11th.  I laughed and replied, “I’m not a preacher.”  He said, ” I knew you’d say that, but I disagree.  I just think you haven’t done it yet.”  I agreed to give it a few days of prayer and to seek counsel.  Based on the counsel I was getting, it became immediately apparent that I was not likely to get away from this.  Pastor Ben Segebart, said something that resonated, got the wheels turning and they haven’t stopped.  He said, “Do it!  You have to.  God stretches us to make us better.  He’s stretching you.  Do it!”  

Pastor Ben was right.  God stretches us.  One year and eight months ago, Mike Sereg called and asked me to join the team and write the Friday devotion.  Just like this time, I tried to brush it aside and get out of it.  However, just like with this challenge, it too was an opportunity to allow God to stretch me, to make me better, advance my growth and quicken my maturation process.  In both of these instances, by faith, I accepted the call and am better for it.  Along the way, I hope that the purpose, for which God intended it, has been, to some measure, satisfied.

That brings me to Chapter 11 of Hebrews.  For the sake of space and the limitations of this format, I will not go through it chapter and verse.  I would, however, strongly encourage you to take a thoughtfully measured read through it.  This passage is oftentimes referred to as the “Faith Hall of Fame”.  Paul lays out a impressively comprehensive list of men and women, how, by faith in God, allowed themselves to be stretched beyond the bounds of human imagination to achieve God’s purpose in their life and for His Kingdom.  

Our tendency is to allow ourselves to get comfortable and stretching is most certainly UNcomfortable.  Now, ask yourself, are you comfortable?  Has God been trying to stretch you and your faith?  What areas in your life do you sense that to be the case?  Are you allowing it?  We should embrace it.  If we want to experience any measure of fullness of life in Christ in this temporal life, how can we realize that without growth and maturation?  We can’t!  

Think about things, areas in your life that you feel accomplishment.  If you could do gkit (whatever it is) from the get go, then there would be no sense of accomplishment.  Likely, your achievement, in any given arena, is the result of pushing beyond your personal boundaries, past your limitations, practice, persistence, stttrrreeetttccchhhiiinnnggg yourself to growth, maturity and success.  Yes?  Likewise, so it is with our faith, relationship with Jesus Christ and the work He’d have us do for His Kingdom.  

So… allow Him to stretch you beyond what is comfortable and you feel capable of.  Draw near to Him, learn from Him, love Him and trust Him.  I promise, you will see your faith multiplied!  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace 

10 Days

It was 3 years ago yesterday that my mother was diagnosed with cancer.  I remember sitting at the kitchen table listening by speakerphone while my siblings and mom were at the doctor’s office.  I knew the news wouldn’t be good, but listened as the doctor explained what was going on and what options we had for treatment.  While chemotherapy offered the best short term options, it still did not look good 6-12 months down the road, but we were really hoping for at least a few more months that we could spend with her.  Little did we know that the treatment intended to prolong her life would actually hasten her death.  She did not respond well and her body started shutting down a few days later and she passed away just 10 days after her diagnosis.  Even though her suffering and pain was shortened, and she would see her Savior sooner than planned, it was not what any of us were hoping for.  It was a wake-up call of how much we take our lives for granted.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12

The thing about each person reading this now is that you have an expiration date as well.  It might be 50 years or 5 weeks from now, but at some point, life as we know it will end.  Sometimes we may see it coming with the onset of a disease or the progression of an illness, but there are times when it surprises us as much as a sudden accident can.  We live each day by the grace of God, often expecting our trend of days to go on indefinitely.  What would you do differently if you knew the number of days you had left to live?  If you only had 10 days left, how would your plans change?

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  James 4:13-14

Even if Christ knew exactly how his last week would play out, it could not have been easy for him to walk toward his death.  Just his posture in the garden before his arrest indicated that he was struggling with what was about to happen.  On several occasions, he even said to his disciples that his time with them was short and soon coming to an end.  Where would you turn if you knew your time was short?  Would you spend much of it with those you love and want to share the moments with them?  Would you spend time talking to your Heavenly Father in preparation of meeting Him? 

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.   And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!  Philippians 2:6-8

As you look down the road, however far that may be, there are some things you can do now to prepare for that day.  Don’t wait till your last minutes to tell people that you care about them.  Let them know whenever you can.  Demonstrating love to others is a lifestyle, not a last second shot at doing the right thing.  Not only be prepared by having a will and making plans for what you would like to happen after you are gone, but write something down for those you love and will leave behind.  They will appreciate it, even the little things.  I just found an Easter card my mom wrote me years ago and I do appreciate even that.  Even consider making a video of what you would want others to know when you are no longer with them.  Share your thoughts, share your faith, share your life.  You may not be remembered 100 year from now, but your life does matter, especially to those you are living it with right now!

Courage in Christ,
Clark

Dangerous Prayer: Search Me

Growing up I always saw the Bible like a magnifying glass.  I would read it, look at the world, and judge people based on what I read.  It served like a magnifying glass.  The problem with that is you cannot see your reflection in a magnifying glass.  In college, my views changed.  I started reading the Bible like a mirror.  Instead of evaluating with world and other people through what I read, I started to look into me like a mirror.  

The Mirror changed everything.  I saw how far I had to go, not in a “I am bad or stuck” sort of way, but in a I need God to change me to look less like me and more like Him.  I wanted to look in a mirror and see the character and love of Jesus.  Then I came across this verse…

Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Search me is a dangerous prayer.  Know my heart… Like all of it. What about the addicted parts, the lustful parts, the selfish parts?  Does a God who knows my heart want to have relationship with me? YES! This is the great exchange.  Jesus took all of that junk and gave us all his goodness.  So when we invite Jesus to know our hearts, he will reveal our mess so we can give it to Him to bear. 

Test me and know my anxious thoughts.  This is not God look at my happy, worshipful thoughts, but know my messed up thoughts that are nothing like yours.  After you know them then I want you to test them.  That is inviting God into your innermost thoughts.  This takes so much trust.  What will God do with these thoughts?  Will he smite me, reject me, or just be silent? Then I think what would Jesus do.  Jesus would be tender yet firm.  He would encourage me, because you know what my anxious thoughts lack… COURAGE. He would IN-COURAGE me.  That might be bad grammar but it is good theology.  I can trust him with my brokenness. 

Point out anything in me that offends you.  When I pray this I never get, “you are doing great, just keep it up.”  

Psalm 23:4b Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

A rod and staff are designed to redirect and discipline a sheep.  They are not to pet the sheep.  The psalm writer King David, said this redirecting discipline stick comforts him.  How can that be? He knows it keeps him close the that Good Shepherd.  The Shepherd disciplines the sheep he loves.  Discipline is love.  Proverbs goes so far as to say a parent who does not discipline their kids hates them.  

So I dare you to pray this dangerous prayer and then listen to what God says to you…

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

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