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Teachings are coming from the Book of Judges.

Lantern

1 Corinthians 15:33,34 (NASB) Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 34 Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.

I have been blessed throughout my life to be surrounded by some truly wonderful people.  Friends, family, teachers, preachers and at times divinely appointed strangers.  The vast majority of the people that I’ve chosen to do life with, are hard working, caring, loving, dutiful people.  

A couple weeks ago I spent a week in the Colorado Rockies with one of my dearest friends.  We spent a week atop a mountain, scouring the slopes for mule deer.  We worked, played, laughed and struggled together.  He had my back and I had his.  He is by no means a perfect person, none of us are, but he is a man of character, moral fiber, love and compassion for his friends and family.  He is a man that makes me a better man being in his presence and observing a good many of his examples.

At times, I’ve associated with people who didn’t have my best interests at heart.  At times I didn’t always harbor the best intentions for others.  There have been many times I’ve allowed my associations to lead me down a less than glorious path.  There have been just as many, possibly more, instances where others have allowed their association with me to lead them down a less than glorious path.  

The point I’m getting to is simple. What you want to “be”, do, have, see, experience, avoid, etc. in life is largely determined by who you associate with.  Even a moral, righteous, God fearing man can and does fall easily to temptation.  When we surround ourselves with people who wish to follow down destructive paths, it often doesn’t take long for us to join them.  Likewise, as born again believers in Jesus Christ, we have a duty and obligation to “be sober-minded, and stop sinning”, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of those who do not know Jesus Christ.  We have a responsibility to illustrate to all within our sphere of influence what a pursuit of righteousness and a deeply committed relationship with Jesus looks like.

So, the questions I have for you to think about are: Who are the people you spend most of your time with?  How do they behave, act, talk, recreate, treat others, treat you?  What attracts you to them?  Do they know the Lord?  What do these associations bring to your life to make it better, aid in steering it down a righteous road?  What are you doing, saying, acting out in your life and its associations that is steering others down a righteous road, pointing them toward Jesus?  Are your actions pointing others there, or are they illustrations of hypocrisy, pointing them toward disaster?  Let your life be a lantern of the Light that is Jesus to others!  Have a blessed weekend!

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Game Day

Well, for those who like sports, these past couple weeks begins an exciting time for some with the onset of the Football season.   I had not been much into football, since my Elementary and High School days.  The past several years, I have been invited to participate with a Fantasy Football league.  Honestly, prior to this time, I mostly only watched the Super Bowl and knew  a handful of players in the whole NFL.  I rooted for my favorite childhood team, the Steelers, when they made the playoffs or Super Bowl, but I wasn’t a true fan each season.  I enjoyed a good game or two, but have really been a fair weather fan when it comes to most sports teams.  How about you, is there a team that you are dedicated to? 

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.  James 1:12

Years ago, when I was in college, I lived for one Summer in Danville Virginia.  I found the place to stay when I visited a small church and met an older fellow named Orville Eichhorst, who coincidentally, was originally from Iowa.  Well he rented out rooms to myself and a couple other guys for the Summer, and when we returned home most evenings, he could be found watching the Chicago Cubs on WGN.  While he had been a life-long Cubs fan, he never got too excited or upset if his team won or lost, but was just a faithful follower.  Orville passed away before he could see his team win the World Series, but I have a pretty good idea of what he would have thought.  He impressed me so much with his commitment, not just to baseball, but to his faith as well, that I said a special cheer in his honor, when that near impossible feat did occur.  Who in your life has impressed you with their faithfulness? 

How about when it comes to your faith, would you consider yourself a fair weather fan, or a committed, die-hard fan?  We like to think that we will hold fast to the true faith and stay committed till our end, whenever that may be, but we may not know how that will all play out.  You may have seen others in your life that have been a good example of how to finish well in life.  What things stood out to you as an excellent example of a true follower of Christ?  Is this more common or the exception to those you have seen finish the race?  Most of us do not want to think about what we will do when our time comes, but that time is waiting for each one of us.  Maybe we can look to the Heroes of Faith listed in Hebrews and think we would like be remembered in a similar, maybe less notable way.  There is still time left in the game.  When the score is all said and done, may you be found on the winning team, because you know the final score!

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.  2 Timothy 4:7-8

Yours in Christ,

Clark

 

How to Keep Your Heart Alive… Part 2

A couple years ago, I went to a conference.  I go to a couple every year and they are good.  But this one changed things.   Pastor Robert Morris shared how beginning your Jesus time in worship is key.  Doing this the last couple years has changed my intimacy with the Lord in such a rich way.

Psalm 100:Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
    Worship the Lord with gladness.
    Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
    He made us, and we are his.[a]
    We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
    go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
    His unfailing love continues forever,
    and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

3 Keys to Keep Your Heart Alive

  1. Prayer
  2. Worship
  3. Word

Today I am going to write about worship.  There are many forms of worship that are valuable.  You can love your family in a way that is worship.  You can work in a way that is worship.  You can sing, kneel, or dance as worship.

Worship means to give worth or value.  Corporate worship is the gathering of believers to collectively declare value and worth to Jesus.  Personal worship is where your heart gets filled and your perspective shifts. 

When we focus on our present struggles our problems look really big.  When we focus on the greatness of God our problems start to look smaller.  Worship here is putting your trust in God who can change your situation or just change your heart toward your situation.  

So here is my rhythm:  
1. 2-3 songs of praise and worship
2. Read the passage from the one year Bible
3. Prayer (1/2 of my time praying through my list, 1/2 listening and praying in the Spirt)

Worship is the fuel for your passion for the Lord and the place your perspective changes.  If you want your faith to be alive… Worship! Seek His Presence!  Seek His Will!  Seek First His Kingdom!

So today, worship! Keep your heart alive! 

Helping people live a better story

Brandon Sereg
www.thevibrant.church

Facing Your Kryptonite

Last week I wrote about how we all have superpowers. All of us who have been saved by God’s grace have been powerfully gifted by the Holy Spirit. That’s an amazing gift, and a great responsibility. But if I’ve learned anything from watching superhero movies its that superheros seem to always have a weakness. Superman has kryptonite, Ironman is limited by technology, the Hulk struggles to control his power, Dr. Strange has great hubris, and white noise severely effects Daredevil. While our weaknesses may be a little different, the reality is that we all have krytonites in our lives. We are all have things that tempt us into sin, draw us away from God, and keep us from being the masterpiece God has created us to be. 

I have seen way to many great men of God have their lives and ministries torn apart because they gave into their kryptonite. I had a conversation with my supervisor this week over whether or not we could use a certain book for pastoral leadership training. Its a fantastic book that we’ve seen bless many pastors before. However, since the last time we used it the author has been gripped in a scandal of their own doing. This Christian leader gave into their kryptonite, lost their ministry, and perhaps has lost the opportunity to bless thousands of others. We could argue whether or not its right to have a great career destroyed by one sin, but the reality is that’s how many people see it. I’ve seen this on a smaller scale before too. I once had a recovering addict in my church that was doing a fantastic job or reaching other addicts. On most Sundays there were two rows filled of his previously un-churched friends, and he even helped start an addiction ministry in our community. Unfortunately, he fell back into his addiction, his friends stop coming, and the ministry eventually fell by the wayside. 

The number one way to deal with the kryptonites in your life is to identify them and to make a plan to resist them. Kryptonites are those things that tempt you into sinning and/or not living the life God has created you to live. For many men the list includes lust, greed, pride, entitlement, and selfishness. I can’t count the number of marriages that have been destroyed by lust. I also can’t count the number of bad decisions I’ve seen people make because of their pride or greed. Once you have identified your kryptonites the Bible gives us a number of ways to guard against them. 

  1. Be Careful and Pray: Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Mark 14:38
  2. Endure Temptation with God’s helpBlessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised. James 1:12
  3. Pursue Righteousness: So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. 2 Timothy 2:22

 

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