Chase the Lion Part 2

When I was in 7th grade I went out for wrestling.  I was terrible!  I remember my first match, I was going as hard as I could and was winning.  I was looking at my coach for help and I remember him just laughing at me.  That season, a kid named Cody from my church went out for the team.  He was worse than me.  He went to my church and our moms were friends.  So my mom would have him over to hang out with me.  In the hallways at school he would put his arm around me and announce to the whole hallway full of middle schoolers that I was his best friend.  One day at the end of practice, the other wrestlers started making fun of him.  They were so cruel.  Cody looks at me looking for some defence.  I took the cowards way and join in the making fun.  I can still see the look on his face as his “best friend” humiliated him.

2 Samuel 23:20 Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it. (emphasis added)

In a pit- Defining moments often happen in enemy territory

Benaiah has to go into the pit to face the lion.  The pit is the lions home, for Benaiah this is enemy territory. I was on a wrestling mat with my character on the line.  For you it is at school, at work, at the party, or alone at a computer.  These defining moments rarely happen at church.  The lion you face is not a 500 pound predator. It is not even a person though often it all feel that way.

Ephesians 6:12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Your lion might look like addiction, or lust, or lying, or depression, or fear, or many other things.  The hard thing about facing those lions is your do not know what to hit at. If you are facing a lion you better go with a gun in 2018 or a spear in 2000 BC. When you look at a physical enemy you can know how to kill it.  But when it is unseen, it can feel like punching at the air. It is easy to feel stuck or defeated.  

So how do you go into enemy territory when you can’t see your enemy?  You build yourself up in the Word of God. You spend time in prayer asking God to give you victory. You show love.  You forgive. You confess your sin to God and to other people. You bring the things hidden in the darkness and bring them to the light.  The hope that we share because of Christ, is that when we do those things the enemy flees and victory purchased by the resurrected Christ avails. 

So today…  FIGHT! Find the Freedom you were freely given.  You are NOT too far gone, you have NOT sinned to greatly, your hopelessness is NOT too deep. You are deeply loved, highly favored by the Creator.  Go to Him and find freedom.

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Red Letters: Judged in our Place

I’ve recently found myself defending the idea of lent, as it has a number of negative connotations in Nicaragua. I believe Lent is important because it is a time to prepare for celebrating the greatest gift we have ever received: the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The events of Good Friday and Easter are so important that it’s not enough to celebrate them for only a day or two. As we head into Easter, I want to encourage us to spend time preparing to celebrate the atoning death and victorious resurrection of Christ Jesus. In my devotions during this season I’m going to focus on the final words of Jesus on the Cross, as I feel reflecting on them will help us begin grasping the greatness of the gift Jesus’ has mercifully given us. 

The first phrase I want us to reflect on comes from Matthew 27:46:

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

We can get hung up here on why Jesus would ask this question. Let me offer two possibilities. First, Jesus was actually experiencing pain on the cross. Yes, Jesus was God in human form, but he could also experience pain and suffering. His crying out shows that he actually suffered on our behalf. Second, the question he asked is (in my opinion) as much for us as it was for God. Why did Jesus have to die? Allow me to explain in the form of a story (which I long ago borrowed from a source I can no longer remember). 

Imagine you have come to the end of your life and you awake to find yourself being taken into a giant celestial courtroom. You’re seated at the defense table, while to one side of you is an impeccably dressed prosecutor. Over many days this prosecutor describes each and every one of your sins, leaving not the slightest misstep unmentioned.  As the hours and days drag on you become ever more hopeless, realizing that you are indeed guilty of each and every sin you are accused of. After days of accusations, the prosecutor rests his case, and the judge raises his gavel to make his decision. He quickly and authoritatively declares you guilty. But then something strange happens. The judge steps down from his podium and walks towards you. He rather forcefully pushes you out of the way and declares “this person is guilty, but I will take their punishment.” He then turns to you, points towards heaven, and says “child, you are now free to enjoy eternity in my Father’s House.” 

Why did Jesus have to die? Because only the judge can be judged for the sins of the world. Jesus is the Judge who is judged in our place. He alone can judge the world, and He chooses to step in and take our punishment because of His love and grace. Thanks be to Christ, who loving chooses to be judged in our place. 

 

The Assignment

1 Corinthians 7:17 New International Version (NIV)

Concerning Change of Status

17 Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.

Have you ever had a week that changed choices, decisions, or trajectory? Some of those changes can come from illness, a relationship, or something in the workplace.

This past week created a change in the trajectory of my life. I had three jobs I was doing. I was a pastor in a church. I participated in my own company. I fit Vital Ministries in between. I wore many hats.

Then my crucible moment happened. I stand back and see God’s hand in all of it. I made a choice to step away from one of the three. I am going back to God’s original assignment that he has for me. I am devoting my energy to Vital Ministries and my company. I will be among the people where I find my passion and energy. 

God has shown me so much in the past 5 years of being an associate pastor and through this I have learned so much about how God made me and what he has for me. I look  so forward to stepping back into my original call. I have freedom knowing who I am in Christ. We all have a call to minister wherever we are in life.

I believe that Vital Ministries is going to recharge and reshape and will take on a new life in raising men in strength and courage. It is an honor to serve and lead in Vital Ministries.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

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“No Time To Kill”

Ephesians 5:15-19 (NASB) ‘Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 

I was reading Ephesians and this particular passage struck me.  This might sound like a strange comparison, but it reminded me of the Clint Black song, “No Time To Kill”.  “How on earth do you draw a comparison like that, Scott?!”  It’s the reference to time and it’s finite nature (in this life at least).  In this passage, Paul is expressing the importance of walking in wisdom and effectively managing our time.  These are evil days, and there is no time to be slacking off.  The only way to truly be effective in that is to know what God’s will for your life is.  The only way to know what God’s will is, is to know His heart.  The only way to know His heart is to read His word and commune with Him daily.  You have to be constantly pursuing a deeper relationship with Jesus.

Another element to what Paul says here  is to “not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation”.  What is dissipation?  It means to waste.  What he is saying here is simply, make the most of every moment.  Getting drunk, as well  as a plethera of substitutes, is nothing more than a waste.  If it isn’t edifying, it it doesn’t serve to glorify God, or to bolster a brother. it’s a waste of time.  This is a simple litmus test that can be applied to, literally, every single thing we do, day in and day out.  

So, regardless of what you are engaged in, no matter when, apply the simple litmus test… “Is this glorifying God?”  If it does, continue.  If it doesn’t, discontinue.  If you are unsure, spend more time with Him and get sure!  Remember… there’s “no time to kill”!  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

 

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