Relationships without the Conditions

I have been thinking a lot about relationships lately, whether that be marriage, friendships, parenting, working with co-workers, etc. As I’ve thought about it, I think I’ve put my finger on two of the most dangerous words we use in relationships. Now, don’t worry, they aren’t curse words! However, I think they can do more danger to relationships then a curse-ridden tirade. The words? If and but. Such small simple words, yet in relationships they can create all sorts of problems. “I would help you, if you were nicer to me.” “I would love to help you with that problem, but you have not really been that nice to me lately.” It seems many of us, myself included, are willing to do many great things in a relationship, as long as certain conditions are met.

Now, don’t misunderstand me here. There are certainly times in relationships where using such conditional phrases can be appropriate {i.e. when we are teaching our children or assisting someone in conquering a bad habit or addiction}. When it comes to the core of what relationships should be about, showing love, care, and making one another better, we need to take our lead from Jesus and drop the ifs and buts.

Checkout these two verses from Paul’s letter to the Philippians:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded.
Philippians 2:1-2

Look at all the things Christ gives us when we are in relationship with him: comfort, love, the Spirit, tenderness, and compassion. We can add to that list joy, peace, hope, eternal life, and so much more. When we are in relationship with Christ we are given so many awesome things, no ifs or buts about it. Jesus does not say “I will give you encouragement this week, if you do 73 good things” or “I would comfort you, but when you were six you stole a piece of candy from Wal-Mart.” The only condition with Christ is believing in Him and confessing our sins to Him. When we do that He freely gives us so many amazing things that make us better now and for all eternity.

As you go about your many relationships this week take special notice of how often you are being conditional with your love for others. Christ has chosen to freely give so much love and care to us despite our many flaws and sins. He has chosen to focus on making us better in this life and for all eternity. Let’s start doing the same in our relationships, having the same mind as Christ Jesus. Let’s strive to make others better, no if’s or buts about it, just has Christ has made us better.Un

Time

Psalm 90:12New International Version (NIV)

12 Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Time. All of us have a season of time. From the beginning of conception, is the beginning of time. Even for a child that could only be moments from the time of birth, to those who live to be in their 90’s, and beyond. We all have a season of time.

This past week my like hit 57. It seems like a long time, but when I look back, it looks like a blink. James 4:14 says, “Your life is like the morning fog. It is here a little while. Then it is gone.”

Most people will say in their life, “I wish I could have had more time.” For most it is because they fear death. Mark Twain says this about time, ‘The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.’

This is where I am at in my life. I have rounded second base and third is in full view. I want to live a life that prepares me with the time I have left before death. I want my wife to know we spent a full life together. I want my children to pass on to their children that their dad had a full life serving Jesus.

What are you doing with the gift of time in your life? Are you chasing wisdom and legacy? Is your life chasing Jesus no matter your age?

I leave you today with this thought about ‘Time’ by Bil Keane, “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

Vital Bikers Couple’s Ride

June 23, 24, and 25

Traveling to the Ozarks in Missouri

Leave at 7:00 am

Contact Buck Kraft at 641-780-1295

Enjoy Riding, Fellowship, and Food

 

Mark

1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV) But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him.  For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

There are no coincidences.  God places us where and when He’d have us for His purpose.  

I was on my way home tonight, on the bike, and needed gas.  The station I normally fill up at was closed when I arrived.  I found that odd, but turned around and headed to another.  As I pulled up, I noticed a man fixing to cross the street, headed for the gas station parking lot.  I didn’t like the looks of him so, as I stepped off the bike, I positioned myself so as to be able to keep an eye on him.  As he passed me by, he bid me a good evening and I did the same.  He responded with, “Jesus is coming again!”  I replied, “indeed He is!”  The man stopped and asked, “do you mind if I pray with you?”  What?!  When does this happen?!  When have I ever offered to do that with a stranger?  Shamefully, I don’t believe I ever have.  Who does that?!  Answer… this man!  I accepted.  

To paint the picture a bit more vividly, the man approached and if I were to picture John the Baptist in jeans and a t-shirt, he stood before me.  Very unkempt, beard to his chest, matted hair, sun blistered nose and dirty clothes, he introduced himself as Mark, and I introduced myself.  So here, in the parking lot of a gas station, stood a modern day John the Baptist and a scruffy Harley dude with their hands upon each other’s shoulder.  Mark proceeded with one of the most beautiful, heart felt prayers I’ve ever heard.  He praised Jesus, prayed that God would produce a hedge of protection for my family and I.  He gave thanks for this opportunity, the endless love of Jesus and thanked him for the love he had for me, his brother, and the love I had for him.  He thanked God for His provision.  He prayed for guidance, obedience and endurance.  I felt this man’s love for the Lord and for me.  It was beautiful, joyous, and humbling all at once.

Mark and I spent the next hour engaged in conversation.  He told me a great deal about himself, the life Jesus pulled him from and the road He has him on now.  He’s a wanderer, going where he feels the Lord directing Him, preaching the Gospel of Jesus without caution, shame or hesitancy.  I listened intently, spoke very little.  Mark shared with me his take on the spiritual state of the world, reluctant to say anything that he couldn’t immediately back up with scripture.  Here was a man with, by all appearances, little in the way of material possession.   Yet, he was kind, had a joy I see in very few who possess a great deal more, an obvious fear of the lord, a meekness and a humility that is rare in this world.  He possessed a wealth in measure that I do not and venture to say I have not seen in another. 

As I listened to him, I was awed.  His knowledge of scripture was far superior to mine, as though I had but a childlike understanding.  In fact, it would rival most anyone’s I know.  I was humbled.  I gave him my number, shook his hand, thanked him, and said, “God bless you Brother.”  He returned the blessing and added, “love Jesus first, I love you Brother,” and walked off into the dark.  

I stood there for a moment, still processing what had happened.  God sent him to me and I to him.  “Thank you Lord, I needed that, and so did he.”  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace 

Stuck

Have you ever been stuck?  I’m usually good at getting out of tough situations, but sometimes I can’t.  I’ve had my car stuck in a swampy ditch in Louisiana and a couple of times on the edge of a snowy road in Iowa, not counting breakdowns.  When I was in elementary school, my brother and I were exploring a construction site near our home and both ended up at the bottom of a 7 foot hole trying to reach the top.  Getting stuck is humbling.  There are lots of places we can find ourselves stuck in life, and we can either resign ourselves to staying there forever, look for new ways to get out, or ask for help.  In each of the above situations, I had to find someone else to help me, as I was unable to get out on my own.  In the last case, my brother climbed my back to reach the edge, then reached down a hand to pull me out.  When you find yourself stuck somewhere in life, what is your first reaction?

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  Psalm 40:1-2

The past few months, I have been setting a live trap to catch a groundhog I have seen running around our home.  So far, I have caught 2 cats, 2 possum, and 2 raccoons, who are now all relocated to better homes.  One raccoon tore up the carpet covering, dug up dirt, made a nest and seemed to have resigned itself to making the best of its live in the cage.  Do you know any people like that?  They won’t admit they need help, and seem somehow comfortable in the mess of life in which they find themselves.  Maybe they have given up hope of ever changing their situation.  Have you ever been there? 

We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers;  the snare is broken, and we have escaped!  Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.  Psalm 124:7-8

Whether you are a raccoon, or a prideful young man, most of us never intend to end up stuck in our lives, but at some point, it may happen.  There are many traps set for us as we journey through life, but knowing what they look like and staying clear of them is the best way to avoid getting caught.  Some problems in life can hit us out of the blue, but most follow a series of poor choices on our part.  Just read through Proverbs to get a few clues to the traps inherent in pride, lust, laziness, selfishness, and greed, among others.   Often, pride keeps us from seeing our own vulnerabilities as we say ‘that will never happen to me.’  But none of us are fireproof. 

Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.  A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.  Proverbs 26:27-28

When you are playing around a trap, it is best to get away from it, as the more you play with fire, the more likely you are to be burned.  It is best to have regular counsel with trusted friends who may be able to see things you can’t and keep you from any major mistakes.  When you get stuck, and you will, these same friends will be there to help you out when the need is there.  First and last should always be your direct line to God.  Don’t hesitate to call out to him, no matter how small or big a predicament in which you find yourself.  He may even keep you from unforeseen pitfalls in live, though you may never know how many.

Courage in Christ,
Clark

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