Resisting the Urge to Surrender

I seem to have been born without the gene for patience.  Even Disney World annoyed me as a kid because I could not stand waiting in lines. I’d like to think I have matured some in my old age. While lines don’t bother me so much the current problem is my need for seeing immediate results. I don’t like to wait to see the fruit of my (or another’s) labor, but want to see things happen yesterday. That’s probably why I’m currently EXTREMELY frustrated with the coach of my beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers. More seriously, I often lack patience in ministry. I want to see ministries I’m involved in make a noticeable impact quickly, and I tend to want to measure the impact of prayer with an egg time, rather than a calendar. I grow frustrated if I do not see the impact of my work and prayers quickly, and often want to give up on something, or someone, when I don’t see results.

My patience was tried for many years by my best friend, Erik. Erik is a brilliant person with a scientific mind. Growing up, Erik had no interest in God or church. He was always the first person who came to mind when we had “invite a friend” Sundays at church, but he was never open to the invitation. We had many discussions about faith, but we never seemed to get anywhere. He was a skeptic, and it seemed it would always stay that way. I have to admit, there were many times that I just wanted to give up on him. But, I kept praying, politely encouraging him, and sharing how I saw God working in my life. Fifteen years after first sharing my faith with him he gave his life to Christ. Now he is heavily involved in his church, and even helps to lead their thriving men’s ministry. His passion for God is amazing to see, and he is doing a lot of great things for God’s Kingdom.

It can be very tempting to lose our patience and give up on ministries or individuals who seem to not be responding to our efforts. Yet, God has called us to persevere in His name. Jesus sums it up in this parable:

 “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.  And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’” Luke 13:6-9

We need to have the attitude of the Vinedresser when it comes to serving. We need to always be wanting to try one more time, or to go just a bit further, in order to make an impact for God.

Being A Watchman

Ezekiel 3:17New International Version (NIV)

17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.

Watchmen are front line soldiers. They see things in a distance, observing what is happening. They lean forward into prayer. Sometimes they see with eyes of discernment. They see things in advance. The Holy Spirit gives insight to intercede.

The word, watchman, comes from a Greek word, watch. It means to be vigilant, wake, to be watchful. Jim Goll, a well known author says this, “A watchman on the wall does many things. He carefully watches what is happening and alerts the community when good ambassadors approach the city. A watchman also warns the city far in advance when an enemy approaches. He sounds the alarm to awaken the city to forewarn them and alert them.

What does watching mean for you personally? Your first watch is your family. Are you in prayer for them? Praying for your wife if you are married and praying for your children is being a watchman. Ask the Lord to help you perceive oncoming danger.

Are you a watchman in your community? Are you praying for your civic leaders. Are you praying over your schools and other locations in your community? Are you asking the Lord’s help to pray for a wall of protection over your community? Pray for salvation. Pray for those who do not know our Lord or have a personal relationship with him.

We also need watchmen for our nation. Ezekiel 33:10 says, ‘Our offenses and sins weigh us down, we are wasting away because of them’. 

Men, we must choose to no longer coast through life. The enemy is prowling, looking for those to devour. Our relationship with Jesus has become fallow, and we need to become awakened. Rise up watchmen of the night. Let’s unite in prayer asking for forgiveness and live faithful lives with unreserved obedience.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Understand

Proverbs 2:1-5 (NKJV) My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LordAnd find the knowledge of God.

All too often I find myself impatient, offended even at my lack of understanding of God, His word and the happenings in the world.  I get into conversations with others on a myriad of topics, and get frustrated with my and their understanding, rather lack of.  I find myself asking God, “why don’t you just show me, teach me?!  Clarify this and that for me, Lord!”  When my requests go seemingly unanswered, further offense is taken and deeper frustration takes root.

However, this week, without giving me the understanding and knowledge I ask for, He enlightened me somewhat on the subject of understanding.  Understanding, you see, is a precious commodity.  More precious than silver, gold and precious jewels.  It is a hidden treasure, far too valuable to just leave lying around, too valuable for a heart that is ill equipped to receive it and not fully cognizant of its infinite worth.  

God etched the map to this treasure in His word and tucked it away into the very deepest reaches of His heart.  You will not find it on the surface.  You must search, press in.  You must openly receive God’s word, pursue it with the deepest sense of focus.  You must sincerely treasure His commands.  You must be ever ready and attentively listening for this wisdom.  You have to commit, down to the absolute depth of your heart, to understanding.  

God does not, He will not give this precious treasure away flippantly.  He waits for the truly committed, fully surrendered, humble heart to press in, never ceasing to pursue the heart of God.  This heart is rewarded.  To this heart He rains in a wealth of understanding that can be used for His purpose, His purpose alone.  

Mike Sereg once said, “at the heart of every problem, is a problem with the heart.”  So, the next time I’m struggling, frustrated, impatient and offended because I want to understand, “DESERVE” to understand, I will examine my heart.  I will ask, why do I want to know?  What will I do with this understanding?  Is my desire for His purpose or mine?  Have I pressed in as He expects?  Obviously not, or I wouldn’t have to ask!  Have a blessed weekend!

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

God’s Gym

If you step into a gym or weight room with thousands of pounds of weights and equipment around you, do you feel stronger just by being there?  Maybe, if it brought up memories of your High School glory days.  However, if you decided to pick up a moderately heavy pair of dumbbells and did a few curls or presses with them, you might feel a little sore the next day or so, but there wouldn’t be much of a long lasting effect.  If you visited this same place 2-3 times each week and engaged in a thorough workout routine each time, your neighbors might start to be intimidated by your new physique.  So, if getting others to admire or worship your body is not your end game, what is the point of working out?   

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.  I Corinthians 6:19-20

If you are like me, maybe you don’t hit the weight room as often as you did in High School, but still enjoy participating in different sports, running, or being physically active to stay in shape.  Whether you seek out high level competition, enjoy the social aspect of sports, or just participate to feel healthy, there are many benefits to keeping physically active.  In fact, whenever someone asks me what the best type of exercise, I usually tell them regular walking is something people of all ages can do for most of their lives, and when paired with a friend, provides a double benefit, as you talk out life issues as you walk.  Whether you like a high intensity workout or just a change of pace to decompress from the day, our bodies were created in a way that responds to physical stress by increasing in strength and endurance.  The saying is true, If we don’t use it, we lose it. 

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:5

The same principles that apply to our physical well-being also apply to our mental and spiritual health as well.  When we are challenged to solve problems at work or home, we may feel tired at the end of the day, but our knowledge and abilities to solve similar problems should get better as we practice these things.  When we learn a new program, subject, or piece of equipment, it may seem overwhelming at first, but the more we understand it, the more easily we can perform, then teach it to others.   There is a learning curve in most everything we do.  The more we read, build, pray, or run, the better our knowledge, strength, and endurance becomes in those things. 

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Romans 12:11-12

If reading the Bible seems like a chore, chances are we really don’t do it that often.  Maybe we have never taken up the challenge to improve in how regularly or how long we engage in a Word workout.  Something as simple as a commitment to read or listen to the Word 15 minutes each day, or reading through the Bible in one year can help you see the return on this investment.  The more we pray, the more natural it becomes.  I used to think that a 20 minute prayer time was intensive, until I joined a friend in ministry for their weekly prayer meeting that lasted over 3 hours.  We grow when we are challenged in most any aspect of our lives.  None of us may be the best in the world at anything we do, but we all have the capacity to improve at most everything we do.  Where do you feel God is asking you to exercise your faith and grow? 

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.  Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.  I Timothy 4:15-16

Yours in Christ,
Clark

God is Boring

Growing up, I believed God and my dad were fun suckers.  I thought they were boring.  I am sure you have never felt that way.  You are probably read 5 chapters of the Bible a day since you were born.  Not me.  The people in my church seemed to live boring lives, God wanted me to sing 150 year old songs with words and didn’t understand, and listen to preachers talk about the Bible I didn’t understand. If church is boring then God is boring. 

The rules that made me hate church.  You could play games with one dice but not two, you could not watch R rated movies unless they are about Jesus, all non christian music is bad, sex is bad, sin is bad.  Then I watched some of those movies, listened to a lot of the music, and my friends told me I was missing out when it came to sex.  What I learned might shock you… Sin is FUN!  If you didn’t have fun then you didn’t do it right… Ever hear a pastor say that before? If sin is fun and God is boring, who wouldn’t choose sin?

Then without reading or knowing this verse existed I lived it’s meaning…

Galatians 6:7 Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. (emphasis mine)

I learned that fun sin had horrible consequences.  I watched my friends who I wanted to be like have their lives spiral right in front of them.  I didn’t want boring and I didn’t want consequences, so now what is left. 

Then a couple years later I experienced this next part of this chapter…

8b But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Since following Jesus I have been on multiple missions trips on four continents, led people to Jesus right in an airport, help addicts get clean, give all my money in faith, give away cars I couldn’t afford to replace, baptize hundreds of people… Following Jesus is the most non boring thing a person can do!  My spirit is alive and doing good is more than just following rules, but walking in faith to see God do what I cannot do on my own.

So what are you living to satisfy? The hunger of your flesh or your spirit? What can you do today to feed your sprit and live the not boring adventure God has for you? But I charge you to not read this and do nothing… DO SOMETHING IN JESUS NAME!!!

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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