Ceding Control

In the later part of the 16th century Spain was an international superpower, controlling vast swathes of North America. In addition to their North American holdings they had made gains in continental Europe, including control over the modern-day Netherlands. In the 1570’s the Dutch decided to revolt, declaring William of Orange as their King. The Dutch had never been a war-like, and lacked military experience, infrastructure, and soldiers. Their opponents were the most militarily experienced and advanced of the period. The only advantage the Dutch had was that the majority of their land lay below sea-level, and was regulated by a series of dykes. By destroying the dykes they could flood the land, making things difficult for the Spanish. Flooding their own land obviously created problems (i.e. it destroyed their farms), but it did successfully slow the Spanish. The result was a stalemate. The prolonged war, coupled with the expense of running a global empire, was bankrupting the Spanish. Likewise, the destruction of farmland and industry was bankrupting the Dutch. Soon, it became clear the outcome of the war would not be decided on the battlefield, but rather by which side would run out of money first. 

The Spanish King went to his nobles and businessmen and asked for loans. Having no faith that the all-powerful king would pay them back, they either charged huge interest rates or refused to loan him money. Soon Spain literally went bankrupt, and the King was forced to cease military operations. The new King of the Netherlands was different then his Spanish counterpart. He had chosen to cede part of his power to a legislative body of nobles, the Staten Generaal. When he ran out of money he too asked his nobles and businessmen for loans. Because he had given them a voice in government they knew they would actually get paid back, so they loaned at exceptionally low interest rates. The government of the Netherlands thus kept on trucking, outlasting the Spanish and gaining independence. 

Each king had to make a choice: were they willing to cede power to others. We are faced with that same choice in our lives, almost on a daily basis. Are we willing to cede the making of decisions and choices to God, or do we stubbornly insist being the totalitarian ruler of our own life? When we make decisions do we seek out God’s council in prayer and scripture, 0r do we only consult our own brains, or the advice of the world? And really, it goes much deeper then that. The only was we can have eternal life is by admitting that God is God and we are not. As the King of the Netherlands realized, to fully succeed in life we must cede power to another, and in our case that other is our amazing, powerful, loving, and forgiving God. 

Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Vital Ministries News

New Teaching Series

Sunday October 15, 2017

KBOE 104.9 FM

I will start a new series on the Book of Ephesians starting with Chapter 1. We will be challenged by living a life worth of calling as we all have been called by God. I will also be teaching at Central Reformed Church on this day in Oskaloosa. The services are 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Divine Appointment

Psalms 37:23-24 (NKJV) The steps of a good man are ordered by the LordAnd He delights in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

Pastor Jeff Rabe stopped by Route 65 the other day.  He was picking up some arrows he’d had me make up, as well as a bit of conversation. 

I shared with him a conversation I’d just concluded with a gentleman I’d never met prior to that day.  The man and I had discussed Harleys, of course.  However, as our connection began to strengthen, our conversation deepened.  We talked about the history of Harley-Davidson, America, generational differences, society and inevitably, faith.  It was a wonderful conversation, one I hadn’t planned on or expected.  I left feeling energized, connected to another believer and God. 

As I finished sharing my experience with Jeff, he simply responded with, “divine appointment!”  “Indeed”, I replied.  After Jeff and I parted company, I couldn’t stop pondering his simple statement.  “It was just exactly that, a divine appointment.”  Anyone who knows me, knows I firmly adhere to the understanding that there are no coincidences.  That gentleman and I were appointed to meet, connect and share, at that time and place.  Not only that, it was divinely inspired and purposed.  There was a need, though I’m not sure exactly what it was, that God determined to fill.  

As I pondered on this notion of “divine appointments”, I couldn’t help but wonder.  How often does God set these appointments for me?  My speculation, multiple times a day.  I’m engaged in one right this moment with each and every one of you.  In fact, this appointment is the result of another He set nearly 5 years ago.  He set up a “divine appointment” with Mike Sereg and myself in that very same showroom.  From that appointment, a friendship grew and ultimately led to me doing this with all of you. 

Jeff’s statement also got me wondering, how often do I miss, ignore or under appreciate the appointments He sets for me?  How often do I get frustrated because things aren’t going as I believed they should?  Something as simple, though discouraging, as being held up in traffic or line.  That may be the necessary mitigator to place me in the path of the “appointment” He has set for me.  How often do I look at it like that?  Scripture is rife with examples of God orchestrating His appointments.  Not all of them are pleasant, what the person expects or wants.  Take, for instance, Paul’s trip to Philippi in the book of Acts chapter 16.  God directed him to detour to Macedonia and there, Paul is thrown into prison.  Now, I assume that Paul didn’t know he was headed to prison when he obeyed, but had he disobeyed, that would have been avoided.  However, God’s intent was for Paul to keep the appointment set for him, so that the jailer and his family would be saved.  

This understanding could be a total game changer, folks.  If we allow it to be.  Your car broke down?  Inconvenient, costly, disheartening…  surely.  Or, could it be a “divine appointment”.  Plans change unexpectedly and you end up here instead of there, with this person instead of the other?  “Divine appointment”? My point is that it could, and likely is, that most of our day consists of, by His design, “divine appointments”.  Appointments set by Him, for His purpose and for your’s and other’s sake.  Our life is a tapestry of “divine appointments” woven masterfully by our loving Father.  Will we joyfully seek those appointments and determine to fulfill them?  Or, will we choose to ignore or spurn them, allowing God’s woven work of art to become a moth eaten rag?  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace  

Empty?

The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:  “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.  Ecclesiastes 1:1-4

We have all had times in our life where we look back on a season or episode where we were led astray or made a bad investment and wish we could have that time back to make a different decision.  Or we may recall all the time and effort we put into a hobby or other endeavor and realize it was mostly fruitless and didn’t really benefit us or anyone else much when it was all said and done.  Another version of this verse (NKJV, ESV) states “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”  Vanity is a word we seldom see or use much anymore, but at its essence, it means that something is hollow or empty.  I think it portrays a nice image of what we are considering.  Something appears good and helpful on the outside, but is empty at its core.  What things in your life have you chased after or invested in, only to find out later that it was not what it originally appeared to be, or was too good to be true and left you with regret? 

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

We could each make a list of things that turned out to be bad investments through our lives and even see some patterns develop.  We may have said things like “He seemed trustworthy, at first”, “I didn’t think there was any risk involved,”  or “If I make money doing it, it can’t be all bad, right?”  There is also the saying that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Solomon had it all…riches, fame, women, power, wisdom, etc, and through this book of the bible goes through how each one left him empty inside when it was all said and done.  We might get to some point in our lives and ask similar questions with everything we have been pursuing, and whether they were worthwhile.  Often, we can see this in others before we realize it in ourselves, even if someone else tries to open our eyes. 

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.   In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.  Matthew 23:27-28

Though we may not think so, the same can be true of how we serve in ministry.  If we are doing it for the wrong reasons, or without patience, or without seeking the leading of God, it may well turn out fruitless.  Recently, I have been reading about the People’s Temple founder Jim Jones, and how something that started out with seemingly good intentions could turn out the way it did.  As you learn more about the story, you find out there were warning signs and red flags along the way that some recognized and some did not before the tragic end.  While the choices we make with where to go to church, or how to serve in any given ministry, may not be as dramatic, we can use similar measures to help determine  whether our pursuits are worthwhile. 

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.   Galatians 5:19-23

While we may not be able to eliminate all selfish pursuits and emptiness from our lives, we can definitely learn from our own mistakes and from the lives of those around us to avoid falling into traps again.  We eventually get a good idea of which paths lead to death and destruction and which ones lead to life, but it may not be an easy choice when the consequence is not looking us in the face.  So, take everything before God and ask Him for discernment in all aspects of your life and He will surely give you direction.  Seek wise and Godly counsel from others on a regular basis and your pile of regrets in life will not be as big as you would have thought.  And when you hand them all over to God, He might just turn them into something else. 

And, when all is said and done, here is the last word: worship in reverence the one True God, and keep His commands, for this is what God expects of every person.  Ecclesiastes 12:13

Yours in Christ,

Clark

Making a Difference

What did you want to be when you were growing up?  Many of us wanted to be a police man, fireman, or a super hero.  Some of that had to do with feeling powerful, but I believe the biggest reason is we want to make a difference.  We want our lives to be bigger than ourselves.  We look up to great people like Mother Terresa, Martin Luther King,  Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and of course Jesus.  Each of these people made a significant difference in history.  They made our world better.  

With all of these people, the way they made a difference was the were different.  They did not use their time, talent, treasure and influence the same way other people did. They were different. I think the reason many people do not make a significant difference is they are not willing to be different.  Many people spend their time, talent, treasure and influence the same way everyone else does.  They wake up as late as possible, spend as much time in entertainment or the pursuit of stuff as possible, read as little as possible after all you might miss an episode, try to spend some time with family, and if there is room in our overly busy schedules… time with God.  I challenge if that will make a difference.  I wander what it would look like to be different enough to make a difference. 

King David did not begin as a king but as a shepherd and the youngest son.  This is not the making of a king.  The prophet Samuel shows up one day and anoints David as king.  So you would think David would be king soon right? Not so.  The next scene is David being invited to play the harp for king Saul.  Saul likes David and thinks he should be an armor bearer for him. It would be easy for David to be disappointed in his opportunities.  What if David playing the harp and serving as an armor bearer, God was preparing him to lead a country by overhearing king sized conversations?  Then David faces Goliath and we know with a sling and 5 stones David takes down the giant.  What if God planned for David to win over the army was an opportunity for David to save all of them and their families from slavery?  Saul gets jealous of David and tries to kill him, and David runs all over the country away from Saul.  What if God wanted to show David the territory he was going to lead?  

David did not act like all of the other men.  I believe David thought different.  When other men saw a giant, David saw an opportunity.  What giants are you facing trying to pray them away, when God wants you to overcome them by His power?  How does God want you think different?

David prepared different.  We all like game day, but it is the preparation that determines the winner.  God used some really not fun opportunities to train David to be king.  What is in front of you, that if you used it as an opportunity to prepare for something down the road, you would find purpose in it?

To make a difference, you have to be different.  To be different you have to prepare and think different.

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

 Brandon Sereg

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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