Vital Ministries News

Start reading the Book of Judges in the Bible. This will be our teaching series as we start back to Vital Men September 10, 2018.

Pride, Bring it Down

Luke 18:9-14 (NKJV)  Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

I would say that the thing I struggle with most is pride, thinking too highly of myself, but also thinking too often of myself.

God measures sin equally, sin is sin, none greater or lesser than the other.  All sins serve to build a blockade between us and our Father.  Thankfully, Jesus came to bridge the rift and reconcile us to Him.  However, when sin prevails in any aspect of our lives, it blurs our vision and stymies our hearing.  It renders us of little or no use to the work God has prepared for us.

Although sin is sin, I think pride is a particularly treacherous device.  Most sin, I believe, is rooted in a manner of pride.  Conceit, covetousness, wrath, adultery, theft, lying, etc all stem from a foundational selfishness.  Sin so often flows from a sense of entitlement…”me, my, I”.  Pride manifests itself in so many forms, not just the “I’m awesome, I did… I am… I can…”, but in the “it’s just a little… I deserve… no one will know…” 

Because of its ground level, broad reaching capacity to infiltrate our life from so many angles, I believe it to have the potential to wreak the most havoc in people’s lives.  I believe that God holds a particularly deep seated contempt for pride.  Scripture, New and Old Testament covers pride in sweeping detail, its evils, its power of corruption and its consequences. 

Be humble, be thoughtful, be gracious, be loving and push pride back to the pits of sheol where it belongs.  It’s something I know I will struggle against for all of my years, but struggle against it I must, and so must you. Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

 

Hit or Miss?

It’s the middle of Summer and by now, either you are engrossed in baseball or you are not.  This year, I am not, which may mean that I am not a true fan.  I will watch more games when we get closer to the end of the MLB season and in post season, but till then, I will catch a game when it works out.  Years ago, back when I was in High School, I was playing baseball several days each week, and was following baseball each week when I could and when the stats were updated in the Sunday paper.  At one time, I knew most every player on every team and watched the battle for the best ERA, home runs, and batting average.  If you watch much baseball, you realize most every player gets out more often then they get a hit, so it is basically a battle to see who the best loser is, which usually makes them a winner for the season.  What do you consider a good batting average at work, in relationships, and other areas of life? 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6

Have the majority of the past 10 interactions with family members been positive or negative in nature?  Have most of the past few projects you have worked on gone well?  We can look at how things go in our day to day lives and often start to see patterns of good and bad habits.  Often, others can see these things before we can and may even say, you don’t seem like yourself, or you appear to be in a slump.  I may have a streak of days that seem less productive than I would like and start to ask ‘why’.  I’m sure baseball players do the same when they are in a slump, and may need to change something about the way they are hitting or pitching.  I may have picked up some bad habits, or need to change something about the way my daily routines of eating, sleeping, and how I use my time are going.  Who knows you best and can help you figure out what to change to get out of your slumps? 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’   The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:30-31 

A friend I have known for over 10 years, but haven’t really talked with in over 5 years, recently reached out to me and started asking questions on how he could grow closer with God.  I don’t know a lot about what has gone on in his live over the past several years, so I was basically asking more questions of him than giving answers.  I also suggested talking in person or on the phone as a better way to correspond than by messages, but am still waiting for him to find a time that works.  I truly enjoy opportunities like this to talk about faith with anyone, but making time to delve into deeper questions is almost essential to get to the root of the issues we may have.  How often do you get to share your faith or discuss spiritual issues with believers or non-believers?  Would you consider these interactions successful? 

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”   Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”  Luke 23:42-43

I wonder if the disciples thought that Jesus failed or succeeded at His mission when He went to the cross.  Based on the comments in Scripture, it appears they were looking for a different outcome.  One of the few who recognized the gravity of the situation was another man dying next to him on the cross.  It wasn’t until they realized that Jesus had risen from the dead that they realized He had hit a homerun and was a game-changer not just for them, but for everyone.   Has His death and resurrection changed the game for you?  If you are in a spiritual slump, what things have worked previously to help you grow closer to God?  Make a list of three things that have worked in the past and make a concerted effort to do these few things for the next three weeks.  For me, those things are (1) consistent prayer, (2) time to read both scripture and other things that are edifying, and (3) time to talk with others about meaningful things.  May your batting average and enjoyment of the ‘game’ improve as you do what it takes to be your best in all areas of life. 

Yours in Christ,
Clark

Thermostats and Thermometers

A couple weeks ago, I walk into a house that felt HOT!  I walked into a wall of heat like I walked into the desert.  My internal thermometer was reading “this is miserable.” So I go to the thermostat and change the temperature.  A couple hours later (yes my a/c unit is weak), the temperature was normalized and it was good.

I could have just complained about the temperature and made other people miserable.  Or I can go set a new temperature on the thermostat. 

Proverbs 13:9 The life of the godly is full of light and joy,
    but the light of the wicked will be snuffed out.

Almost anyone can tell whether a room is hot or cold.  Almost anyone can identify a problem in this life.  You can identify it in your job, your spouse, you parent, your kid, your church, and every once in a while yourself. Anyone can identity a problem.  If you can identify a problem, this does not make you special.  It just makes you human. 

When you can change a situation without making the room too hot or cold, you are a thermostat.  Jesus wanted his followers to be thermostats.  He wanted them to change the temperature of wherever they went.  

Paul and Silas were once in prison because they preached the gospel.  At midnight, they starting singing worship songs out of a heart of joy.  Their circumstances could have made them a thermometer and they could have been angry or discouraged.  Like the Psalm, their life was full of light and joy.  The jail is shaken and the doors open.  The warden comes to find the doors open and Paul and Silas still in their cell.  They lead this man to Jesus and his whole family gets saved. Why?  They were a thermostat.  

How to be a Thermostat?

  1. Don’t let your circumstances shape your internal temperature.  It is easy to let our temporary problems shape our internal temperature.  God has put His Spirit in you so you can choose light and joy. 
  2. Don’t let your emotions cause you to set the wrong temperature.  Remember who you are and whose you are!  God has called you to change the world you are in not be changed by it!
  3. Invite God to give you light and joy.  He is your source and wants to teach you how to be a thermostat, not just a thermometer. 

You are a thermometer.  You can feel the temperature.  A thermostat needs a thermometer to know how to adjust.  So choose to be more than a thermometer and change the world around you.  Set the temperature at home, at work, at church, in your heart.  Don’t let other people taint your ability to set the right temperature.  Gossip kills. Negativity destroys.  Fear corrupts. Joy brings hope. Light dispels darkness. Love covers.

So go be a thermometer!

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Investing in Our Children

Today my oldest celebrated her 12th birthday. I can still very vividly remember that moment 12 years ago when she came into our life, as well as her first giggles, her first steps, her first day of school, and so much more. If you are a new parent I’m here to tell you that the old adage “don’t blink or you’ll miss it” certainly seems true to me. As I think back on my 12 years as a parent I can think of many successful parenting moments, as well as innumerable parenting failures. Like many parents my wife and I have invested a lot of time, money, and energy into our kids, trying our best to help them to succeed in all aspects of life. In fact, the US Department of agriculture estimates that it takes $233,610 to raise a child (I’m assuming that does NOT include college tuition, which is quickly equally that number on its own), and studies have shown that families of Olympic athletes spend an average of $15,000 a year to prepare them for athletic success. In a rare positive change, parents today are spending twice as much time with their children than their parents did, and men have quadrupled the time they spend with children over the past few decades. Yet, despite all of that money and time we spend on our children are we truly doing everything we can to raise them rightly? 

I am very thankful for the money, time, and energy my parents invested in me. I can’t begin to count the number of practices they drove me to, the things they bought for me, and the grey hairs I caused them. But what was most important was the time and energy they put into raising me as a disciple of Christ. From an early age my parents taught me how to pray, read me Bible stories, involved me in church, helped me memorize scripture, modeled the life of a disciple, and provided me with numerous tools to grow in my faith. I remember getting into Christian music because my parents would buy me Christian CD’s, but I had to buy the secular ones on my own. That may sound like a minute and silly thing, but it ended up having a big impact on my life.

Spending energy on raising our children to be disciples is not just something we should do, its something we are commanded to do. As Paul writes in Ephesians 6:4: Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. This is not something we are to leave up to our church or to chance, but a duty that has been assigned to us as fathers. Just as it takes substantial work to raise a champion athlete, it takes a major effort to raise a disciple of Christ in our increasingly secular world. As dad’s lets start owning our responsibility. Let’s model faith to our children, pray with and for them, helping them get into the word, and provide them the opportunities and resources to grow into disciples and leaders. Let’s do whatever we can to raise a generation of champions for Christ.

 

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