Pride, Nothing but a Roadblock

Each week, the topic for Friday’s devotion generally comes from a study that an event or conversation prompts.  This week is no different.

 

On Wednesday, I received a phone call from a man dear to me.  This man has been battling a number of difficult circumstances over the last several years.  One of his primary battles came to a head this week.  The long and short of it, he has been backed into a principled corner.  He chose to stand on his convictions and what he believes is the Godly position and, consequently, the folks on the other side of the battle have meted out harsh punishment.  He has chosen to stand resolute on this, despite a wavering support structure, hardship and uncertainty.

As I listened to him explain these happenings and the backlash and difficulties that have arisen, I couldn’t help but feel proud of him.  He feels certain that his beliefs are correct and his response justified.  He knew the ramifications of the course of action he was choosing and chose it anyway.  This showed to me a great measure of integrity,  a firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values, incorruptibility.  (see last Friday’s devotion ‘Marrow of a Man’)

However, as I listened to him, it became clear that not everyone sees his actions that way.  It made me realize how often that is the case.  I started to think about all the times in my life that I have stood so firm, resolute and stubbornly on an ideal, but have many around me in stark opposition.  Am I right or are they?  God has the answer, but you have to let Him be able to convey it.    

This conversation allowed me to see myself in this man.  I am a proud man.  In fact, pride is most certainly my worse fault and unchecked will certainly be the cause of my doom.  Proverbs 11:2 (NKJV)  When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom.  I wanted to help him with this and perhaps in doing so could help myself and any of you reading this.  You see, at this point in the conversation, I could see this man’s pride getting in the way and clouding his judgement.  I’m not saying the principles he is fighting for or the course of action he took is wrong.  I can’t know that, but at this point I don’t think he can either.  I do the same thing.  When I become so firmly convinced that I’m standing on the side of right, I shut myself off to any discussion, opinions and feelings contrary to my own.  Here’s where it gets tricky.  God and His word have firmly convinced me that there is always a right and wrong, period.  However, I have come to the realization that I can be right in ideal, but wrong or too resolute in my response.  This pride and stubbornness will oftentimes blind me to seeing the multiple avenues of action for response.  When we get so firmly set in our own understanding of what is right and wrong, unyielding and unwavering, we often times will miss other “right” responses or better solutions.  We will often times dismiss and hurt others involved and do more damage than good, even though we are standing on what we believe to be right.

Confused?  Me too!  This is very hard to write, by the way, but stick with me.

What do we do?  First, you must humble yourself.  Check your pride.  You think you know, but in reality what we “know”  is microscopic in the grand design.  The bible says, “The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way”.  Psalms 25:9 (NKJV)  You will not know God, hear His voice, receive His guidance and understand the Godly path if you do not humble yourself first. Pride is a road block, dump it.

Now that you have removed the road block, pray.  Open up a line of communication with the good Lord.  Talk to Him, ask for His guidance and support and read His word.  The bible says it very simply, “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.”  Jeremiah 29:12 (NKJV)  We often times jump to action, knowing we are right, but don’t stop first to consider what God has to say to us.  Take the time to ask and let Him guide you.  

Next, seek out good, wise Christian counsel.  Talk to a strong Christian friend, pastor, counselor, someone you trust and believe capable.  Be careful.  You must be very selective in your choice.  Pray for guidance.  Christians need a “Circle of Counsel”, comprised of mature Christians capable of wisdom supported by scripture.  I have six men I consistently seek out for sound guidance.  Often times, just putting a second or third set of eyes on the situation will give you all the clarity God needs you to have.  

Proverbs 1:5 (NKJV)  A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,

Proverbs 24:6 (NKJV)  For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, And in a multitude of counselors there is safety.  

I’m not saying that the man in the conversation responded incorrectly or even that there was a better response.  That has yet to play out.  I’m just imparting the lesson that the good Lord is hammering on my heart.  That as men especially, we have a tendency to allow pride and self certainty to rule our responses and that closes us off from the guidance God would provide.  We need to push the pride roadblock out of the way, so that we have a clear avenue for Him to drive into our hearts.  God bless you and have a great weekend!

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Jesus for President

 

If you live in Iowa, you probably noticed a significant change in the atmosphere from this time a week ago. Phone calls and political ads have decreased from the flurry of what they were. Whether you caucused for your favorite candidate or not on Monday, you may be breathing a small sigh of relief for the break in all the activity.  Are you still for the original candidate you supported initially?  Are you going to be fore them till the end? 

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

As humans, it is natural for us to like people who are like us, and to be more suspect of those who are different from us. Whether these similarities or differences are based on your faith, sex, skin color, background, political party, or any number of things, the more like you the better, right? At least that is how most of us tend to behave. As a Christian, are we looking for the sinner who is most like Christ, and do we want the most ‘christian’ candidate to be president, or are there more important criteria? In fact, we had the option of choosing between several candidates who claimed to be Christian, with varying evidence to support their claims. What criteria are most important to you in choosing a President, a city official, an employee, or a spouse? Does it vary? Why?

 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  Matthew 5:44-45

From the time we are in preschool, we like to categorize people. We can say they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on what they do and how they treat us. This can change, after what people do or say toward us or our family offends us or we are unwilling to forgive, they may change from good to bad in our eyes. This may also apply to our view of God. When things go well for us, we can say He is good, and when we encounter struggles and trials, or when things don’t go our way, we may question how much he cares.  How committed are you to caucusing for God when things don’t always seem to be going your way?  Do you say ‘I didn’t vote for him’ when this happens, or are you still with him when He is criticized? 

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  I John 4:10-11

Are you for God if the economy is good or bad? Are you for him even if you don’t agree with him 100% of the time? If the candidate you think is best for president doesn’t make it in, does that mean God doesn’t care? I venture that He does care, but may not be working in ways that we would not, or do not like. Are you an advocate for Jesus in the good times and bad? When the tide does not seem to be trending for him, are you still for him? Continue to back the best candidate whether you are the only one speaking for him, or not.  Instead of condemning everyone who disagrees with your views, show them kindness and respect, even if they do nothing to deserve it.  Just as Christ died for us in our sins, we also ought to love and forgive others, as he would.  His platform has not changed with the winds of public opinion, but is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Win others to be for Jesus by treating all of the voters as he treats them. 

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:16-18

For Christ,
Clark

Jesus is NOT a Republican

I have never seen so much attention in an election year.  I have never heard more buzz about the issues.  I have never heard a president talked about in such a poor way.

In 1 Samuel, God had given the Israelites “the promised land.”  God had set up a government of judges to govern the 12 tribes, but it was not a democracy.  It was not a dictatorship.  It was a theocracy.  All the neighboring tribes had kings they could see and follow.  Israel did not.  So they asked Samuel the prophet to ask God for a king.  

God did not want Israel to have a king, but He gave them what they asked for.  Saul committed suicide.  David did well.  Solomon built temples to other God’s.  After Solomon, Israel was split between two kings.  When Syria came against divided Israel they lost quickly.  They were conquered by Persia, then Syria, the Assyria, and eventually Rome. 

Jesus comes as a messiah, and Israel doesn’t want to accept Him because He is not overthrowing Rome and establishing Israel as a world power.  Jesus in fact said…

Matthew 22:19 Here, show me the coin used for the tax.” When they handed him a Roman coin, 20 he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

“Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

Rome is a corrupt government that by no means shared God’s values, yet Jesus affirms their authority. 

Then the Apostle Paul writes…

1 Timothy 2: Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior.

This was written when Paul was being hunted for his faith, yet encourages the Church to pray for it’s government.  He did not say pray against them, slander them, or have negative hopes toward them.  Jesus actually validates their authority say it came from the Lord.  Jesus life was in Pilate’s hands and Jesus tells him…

John 19:11 Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”

Gossip, slander, and rebellion against leadership is sin.  Jesus plan for government is not and never will be democracy.  It is a theocracy.  We are foreigners in a strange land, and like Jesus apart of a kingdom not of this world.

Do NOT get me wrong.  I love our nation!  I am for our military!  I want reform in country!  I am for our president!  I will vote my values.  I trust the Lord to set up His leader for our country.  I would like to encourage you to pray for our president and pray for the Lords leader for our nation, and remember that this world will pass away and we a part of a great kingdom with a great King.

Go be Vital

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Stop Talking!

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy talking, especially about things I either really like, or things I really DISLIKE. You get me going about some of my big likes, the Chicago Cubs, bicycling, the and the outdoors and it’s hard to get me to stop. Unfortunately, I can go in and on about things I dislike. Sometimes that’s not a bad things,because I’m talking about things I’d love to see eradicated from this world, such as poverty, people who do not know Jesus, and the self center dress of our culture. Sadly, I can also spend WAY to much time doing things like whining, hold a self-pity party, and complaining about others. The problem with all of this talking is this: it really does not accomplish anything.

Let’s be honest, if we actually did good 10% as much as we talked we’d pretty much eliminate the problems of this world. If you’ve never read the first chapter of the Book of Haggai I’d really encourage you to do so. In that first chapter God uses the prophet Haggai to urge the people to stop talking and stop doing. Haggai served God 18 years after the people of Israel had returned from exile in Babylon. Right after their return they had begun rebuilding God’s Temple, but soon stopped. Instead of building the temple they spent their time, money, and energy building luxurious houses for themselves and focusing on their own wants and desires. They would often talk about building the Temple, but they never actually did the work. Haggai stood before the people and simply said this: go up into the woods, cut down trees for lumber, and do the work! Basically, stop yapping about it, and start doing it. We all need to do that more in our lives. We see problems in our homes, community, and world, and spend a lot of time talking (read: complaining!) about them. What would happen that, instead of our constant talking we actually took action? We started sharing the gospel with the unreached, gave to the poor and needy, volunteered in the ministry of our church, and met needs we saw with love. I’m here to tell you THAT would make much more of an impact then our words. What will you do today to be a blessing to God and others in a world with such big needs?

Being Authentic

 

Ephesians 4:22-24 New International Version (NIV)

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

 

The authenticity of being a Vital Man is in his quality of his exposure of brokenness and in the adornment of God’s grace. Our world is in deep need and search of men who are willing to be authentic.

We find the media today and our culture being obsessed with image. We have to look and dress a certain way, be thin, and have a six pack. It is to the degree that to be successful is based on outward appearance. Inside, men are crumbling.

That is when we fall to the hypocrisy of being authentic men. We become all about self serving, not compassionate, and full of aggression and insecurity.

Men, our true image, real authenticity, is based on the image of God and glorifying him. I like it where it says in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

So, how does this apply to authentic manhood? I am going to briefly hit on 3 action steps that will get us there.

  1. Be Vulnerable – Be a story teller. Confess where you came from and also how you are still broken. All we need is our Savior, and we need redemption and Jesus.
  2. Embrace Tension – Take up your cross daily through your brokenness. You found your way to the cross, to death, and to burial. You are now a new creation. You are throwing away that sin nature and allowing the Holy Spirit to transform you.
  3. Recovery Is With God’s Story – Following Jesus is a daily choice. After your vulnerability, you went to the cross, and you received God’s Word. His Word covers your life. Jesus’ story has now become your story.

When you experience authenticity, be ready for a great adventure. When God sees you being real with him, it will allow you to be real in life. That is a new man!

Strength and Courage 

Mike

 

 

 

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