Take out the Trash

When I was in college I had an awesome roommate named Anan. He was incredibly fun, but he was also a real cheapskate and ate A LOT. This often meant stealing my food, but on one occasion he actually went to the grocery store himself. He came back all excited that he had bought a whole chicken for only $1. Of course a grocery store doesn’t sell a chicken that cheap unless it has a few issues. First, it was not a cleaned and butchered chicken. This was not a problem for Anan, as he used my sink and my siccsors to do the butchering (he also cleaned up the mess: with my tooth brush). There was another very obvious reason the chicken was $1: it was already rotten! It had immedietly smelled up our room. I told Anan he needed to get it out before we couldn’t breathe anymore. He agreed, and we moved on with life. 

A few weeks later our room smelled simply atrocious (yes, even worse then normal for two college guys). I thought maybe something had died in it, and used my nose to sniff out the source. It led me to Anan’s fridge, which was the home of the now green, black, and white chicken. I forced him to take it to the dumpster, but he couldn’t stand the smell. I tell you what, you have not fully lived until you’ve watched a 400lbs man run down the hallway with a rotten chicken tucked under his arm like a football!

Ok, so that’s a crazy (albeit true) story. Here’s my point: a lot of us have sin in our lives that is stinking it up like that chicken, yet we refuse to throw it out like the garbage it is. Maybe it’s pride, addiction, lust, lying, or something else, but I think most of us have some sin that we keep doing day after day, week after week, etc. The longer we do little about it the more it stinks up our life.

James 4:7-8 tells us “submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts.”

This week, let’s all take time to draw near to God and to cleanse ourselves of the sins that are stinking up our lives. Let us all admit our sins and ask God’s help in removing them from our lives. The longer we don’t deal with our sins, the more it will stink up our lives. Let’s get in the habit of taking out the trash and let God cleanse us from our unrighteousness. 

I Don’t Believe

James 2:26New International Version (NIV)

26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Have you ever had someone tell you, “I don’t believe.” I think any man who has received Jesus has met someone who says, “I don’t believe.” What do you say in those moments? What is the right response?

If you go to the Bible and read John 7:5 it says, ‘For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.’ Much of Christ’s family didn’t believe in him until after his resurrection. This being the case, it continues to happen today.

This past week I met a man in our park. He was a Veteran of the Vietnam War. He was a man who spent his life in the military. As I walked by him, I noticed his ball cap that said he served in Vietnam. So, I stopped and thanked him for his service. He asked if I had served, and I said, “No.” He went on to tell me that he didn’t believe.

What a conversation starter. He was at the night of worship in the town square, he seemed to be looking for answers, and he was looking for hope.

Man, it hit me at that point! What do I say? You see, our downtown was buzzing with excitement because of this event, except for this Vietnam Veteran sitting on a bench. I spoke with him for a time and encouraged him to stay and listen. Then I said I would like to meet with him and have coffee. He said he comes to the park daily, so we set a time to meet. I will be there to meet with him. When you lose hope, you don’t believe anything, especially Jesus. 

Men, we need to be ready for those, “I don’t believe.” moments. The Holy Spirit uses us. It says in 2 Corinthians 4:6, ‘Let there be light in the darkness.”

Let’s be light, men, and shine for those who live in darkness.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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Find Neutral

II Peter 1:5-9 (NKJV) But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

As an archer, one of my biggest accuracy killers is emotion, or rather the over abundance of it.  When I’m shooting, one of the main things I need to stay focused on is remaining neutral.  When I’m shooting poorly, things are not clicking like I believe they should and know myself capable, one of the hardest things to do is to remain neutral.  I begin to get frustrated, anxious, tense and ultimately angry.  This emotion clouds my focus, I can not see clearly nor can I feel what is breaking down.  This negative emotion rules and translates to my equipment and things continue to deteriorate.  

When in the field, the exact same applies, though the situation is different.  I will likely get only one opportunity to put it all together.  Each move of my stalk, if on the ground, must be perfect.  My timing is critical.  My mechanics must be flawless.  Adrenaline is flowing like the Colorado River, but I must control it.  There’s no room or time to allow emotion to rule.  I have to remain neutral and execute.  This is especially crucial when things go south.  I made a mistake and the quarry is alerted, or the animal doesn’t move through or stop as I had hoped.  If I allow emotion to flare up, you can just about guarantee I’m going to do something stupid, make a mistake, tense up, force a bad shot, etc.  The end result…GAME OVER!    

I see this every single day in myself and others.  So often we go through life, allowing emotions to dictate our course of action and reaction.  We allow those emotions to sabotage our day, our work, our relationships, our lives.  Just as in my above illustration, when we allow every thing that doesn’t go our way to get under our skin, frustrate, create anxiety, upset or anger us, we are allowing emotion to cloud our focus and steal our joy.  Things aren’t always going to be smooth and perfect.  Allowing emotion to determine our response will more than likely serve to deteriorate things even more.  It doesn’t matter if it is a serious life and death world altering event or something as simple as stubbing your toe on the couch corner, how we manage our emotion will greatly impact and possibly determine what comes next and our perception of the world around us.  

I’m currently reading “Wild Blue” by Stephen Ambrose.  It is about the B24 crews who ruled the skies over Europe during WWII.  What those men faced, endured and accomplished is staggering.  Something that struck me was the crew’s references to Lieutenant McGovern.  They had complete confidence in their pilot to get them to target and back.  Though an exceedingly capable and talented pilot, it wasn’t his skill that gave them unwavering confidence.  It was his even keeled nature, his ability to find neutral.  They said, no matter what was happening, what they were being hit with, when his voice came across the intercom it was even, neutral, without emotion, no different than if they were standing next to him back at headquarters.  Now it wasn’t that McGovern was unfeeling, unstressed, unafraid.  He wasn’t a robot.  He just choose to master his emotions rather than allow his emotions to master him.  Their lives depended on his focus and clarity of thought that emotion would distort.  

Colossians 3:15 (NKJV) And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

I know some angry people.  People, who no matter what the day or time, just seem to be angered easily over just about anything.  They have settled themselves into an emotional mindset that things are rotten, that’s how they are and so they react accordingly.  I feel so incredibly sorry for those folks.  They have allowed satan’s manipulation of their emotion to direct their course in life, to steal their joy.  Our temporal life is never going to be perfect, but the way we respond, find neutral, count it all joy, will determine what we put into and get out of it.  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Whole Hearted

When you hear that someone has spoken from the heart…what does that mean?  Usually it implies that they spoke openly and honestly and directly about what they were saying…they poured their heart out.  You can hear someone speak from the heart, sing from their heart, and even work with their whole heart.  More often than not, most of us go about life half-heartedly, with 10-40 percent of the enthusiasm and work ethic of which we are capable.  Would we burn out if we gave it our all?  Would others think we are too emotional…or a bleeding heart? 

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?  Jeremiah 17:9

One statement about a person in the bible has always intrigued me was that David was a man after God’s own heart.  What does that mean, and even more, am I a person after God’s own heart?  There is probably more written about David than most others in the bible, so we get a pretty good look at his character, flaws and all.  We see him standing up to a formidable giant, fending off predators of sheep, anointed a king as a young boy, leading the Jewish people, and spilling out his guts all throughout the Psalms.  David was a man who left it all on the table, so is this why God smiled upon him? 

But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.  1 Samuel  13:14

One way to get a bigger picture of David is to compare him to his predecessor, Saul.  Why would God reject Saul and promote David to the leadership role?  If we look at their hearts, we see that Saul was often proud and disobedient, while David was more sensitive and repentant.  We know that both men were sinners and were far from perfect, but when confronted with their sin, one justified it, while the other confessed it.  When David was challenged on the issue of murder and adultery with Bathsheba, instead of covering up his crimes and having the leaker executed, he owned his sins and was repentant.  Maybe this is what God admired in the young man. 

He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.  Proverbs 3:34

Humility is not the only admirable trait that David exemplified, but it was a strong one.  We can look at which of the fruit of the Spirit matches up with his life and get some good examples of how we can live those out as well.  His ability to express love, joy, patience, kindness and other fruit is exemplified in many of the stories we have come to know.  I read a book around 10 years ago called “Leap Over a Wall: Earthy Spirituality for Everyday Christians”, which looked at several character qualities of David and applied them to our own lives.  It is a good read.  Look to the examples of people you admire around you as well, and let God guide your heart and your life.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  Luke 6:45

Blessings in Christ,
Clark

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