Tenaciously

I Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV)  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

I find that I am generally most successful at an endeavor, when I exercise a particular brand of tenacity.  That brand being, all in, set my sights on whatever it is and with focused determination pursue.  

When practicing shooting, I know whether I am executing with tenacity, mindful of all the intricacies of my form, or just going through the motions, completing a set routine and calling it good.  While hunting, especially elk hunting, if I lose my tenacious drive (or like one particular year never had it),  I am almost certain to fail.  It’s not enough to just hold on, endure and hope to make it to the end.  Tenacity is a fired, determined, no quit approach to the pursuit of what it is that you KNOW you will accomplish.  Tenacity is an unwillingness to give up, to endure, yes, but to endure with vigor.  Tenacity is being willing to say, “this hunt is not going as I’d hoped.  I’m beat up and worn out, but I’m headed for that saddle with vigor and determination, because I know that I don’t know what opportunity may await me on the other side.”  Tenacity is a refusal to just hang on and pray the end comes sooner rather than later.  Tenacity is watching an obstacle drop in your path and immediately, enthusiastically searching for a way over, under, around or through.  

Tenacity is a great thing to strive for.  It’s something I wish I could say I never lacked.  Unfortunately, I sometimes do.  

Tenacity is something that I’m learning needs to be applied to my pursuit of a greater understanding of God and my relationship with Him.  I need to be tenacious about reading His word.  I need to pursue, with tenacity, daily time in close conversation with Him.  I need to tenaciously endure the hardships and heartaches that have and will inevitably come my way.  In doing so, it shows my willingness to faithfully believe that no matter what it is or what the reason (known or unknown)  He will not let me fail.  His working of this level of tenacity in me serves as an illustration of His glory to all around me.    Psalm 37:23-24 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LordAnd He delights in his way. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.  

We can merely hold on until this life is over, fix our grip and wait for that glorious day to come when we leave this world and join our Father in the eternal home He has prepared.  Truthfully, I don’t believe that’s a shameful thing.  For some to just endure the rigors the world throws at them is nothing short of monumental.  However, for most I believe we owe it to God to be as vigorously tenacious as we can while we’re here. We have work to do for His kingdom, examples to set, relationships to cultivate, disciples to make.  That doesn’t happen if we’re not in the game and tenaciously pursuing the possibility.  Have a blessed weekend!  

Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV)  Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

 

The Right Path

We make hundreds of choices every day, so how do we know we have been making the right ones?  Hopefully, we are able to learn from our mistakes, and even occasionally, we can learn from the teaching of others before making other mistakes.  Experience seems to be a good teacher if we have a good awareness of our successes and failures.  Over the past day, I made several mistakes and near mistakes that would probably have not been made if I had not been in a hurry, or would have planned my steps a little better.  From dinging my elbow, to making a mess on the garage floor during an oil change, they were not major mistakes, but things where I should have known better.  Where have you messed up today?  How will your successes and failures impact what you will do tomorrow? 

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.  Proverbs 14:12

Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.  Psalm 119:133

Most of our mistakes are born of our ignorance, pride, and selfishness.  We don’t ask for help when we are not sure what to do or how to do something.  Our pride keeps us from seeking advice or even learning from our past mistakes.  Or we want to do what makes us feel good, no matter if it is harmful to others or even to ourselves.  When we are aware of our actions and consequences, hopefully we are able to admit our faults, our sins, and change our direction.  We can even learn from our ‘small’ mistakes to keep us from making ‘big’ mistakes.  Do your failures lead you to discouragement or determination to make some changes?

Do as I do, for I am doing as Christ did.  1 Corinthians 11:1

Whether you realize it or not, others are learning from you.  Your family and your co-workers are watching and listening to you and picking up things as you go about each day.  Maybe you had the same experience as a child, but kids only need to see or hear something once and it can be locked in their memory for good.  Something as simple as how you keep your word leaves an impression on others.  Your word is your reputation.  Others will believe or doubt what you say depending on how well you keep your word to them.  We may do the same with God.  Once we are able to see how his Word holds up to what He says, leads us to trust it even more in the future. 

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.  Psalm 119:105

Who is watching?  I often remind myself to try and make decisions as if your boss, your whole family, God, and the whole world is watching.  I find this helps me avoid some selfish or stupid mistakes that cause trouble down the line, but is not fool proof, especially when I am acting like a fool.  I admit that I am not perfect, but if we strive for perfection and to get things right each time, our percentages go up.  If we turn ourselves in the right direction, and keep our eyes on our destination, we are less likely to wander from the path, to stumble or fall.  Plus, when we are walking in good company, it makes the journey a little easier and more enjoyable.  Enourage others as we walk this road together!

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  Matthew 7:13-14

Blessings in Christ,
Clark 

Labels Part 1

When I was in 5h grade, I got in trouble for talking in class.  I was making all of the people around me laugh.  My teacher said if I did it again then I would have detention. Well 10 minutes later it happened again.  My teacher told me that unless I gave her a good reason for why I was laughing I had detention.  I told her in health class we learned that laughing builds our immune system and since I had a cold, laughing would be less distracting sneezing.  She laughed at me and called me “Slick.”  This nickname stuck.  For the rest of the year, my teacher and my class called me slick.  I learned how I could be smooth with words to get what I want.  This label shaped my future.  Other people said talk was cheap, but smooth talking got me friends, jobs, and many opportunities.

This is the story of Jacob.  Labels shaped how he saw himself, the things that he pursued, and the choices that shaped who he became.  All of that began at birth when his parents named him Jacob which means deceiver and supplanter. Jacob was a twin and second born.  So Jacob wanted to surplant his older brother Esau so he could have the first born right. So Jacob waits or the right moment and takes advantage of his brother in a weak moment.

The first label is the label others put on us.  All of us have labels that have been put on us.  Some lifted us up and others tore us down.  Some were from people we cared about and others were just people who said the wrong thing at the wrong time.  Either way these labels gave us an identity that we walked in either to prove right or fight to prove wrong.  That is where our story begins.

Genesis 25:29 One day when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau arrived home from the wilderness exhausted and hungry. 30 Esau said to Jacob, “I’m starved! Give me some of that red stew!” (This is how Esau got his other name, Edom, which means “red.”)

31 “All right,” Jacob replied, “but trade me your rights as the firstborn son.”

32 “Look, I’m dying of starvation!” said Esau. “What good is my birthright to me now?”

33 But Jacob said, “First you must swear that your birthright is mine.” So Esau swore an oath, thereby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his brother, Jacob.

What are the labels other people have put on you?  Write them down. Who did they come from?  How do you respond to them?  Are they lies of the enemy that work against you to kill the good God wants for you?  Ask Holy Spirit to replace the lie.  Write down your new label.

Often the process I describe above is painful.  I know it has been for me.  Many of these old wounds have layer Holy Spirit leads me to.  I will think I have fully dealt with the wound only for Him to take me to another layer of the wound.  What I know is this…

Philippians 1:6  And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

God’s Will, Not Mine

I recently coordinates a work day in my community where teenagers worked on a number of different service projects on a Saturday morning. I always get harassed on these types of days because I end up driving from site to site and never actually doing any construction work (being in charge does have its benefits). This was the case this particular day, as I bounced from project to project making sure everyone had what they needed and that things were progressing smoothly. As I was leaving one house I noticed that my car had been blocked in by another vehicle in the driveway. Not wanting to go back into the house, and thinking my driving skills were particularly excellent, I decided that I could back around the vehicle. On my first attempt I almost tipped my car over on a bank, the second time I “brushed” against an electrical pole, and the third attempt I got the car stuck. 

I think the above story illustrates an aspect of prayer many of us struggle with: praying that God’s will and plan comes to pass in our lives, even if it costs us our own plans. As I did everything conceivable to get around the vehicle blocking mine we often go to great lengths to get what we want, rather then what God desires for us. Often times the results aren’t too dissimilar from my driving experience: we end up in places we should not be and getting stuck instead of thriving. Jesus taught us the importance of praying for God’s will in our life when he gave his disciples instructions for how to play (instructions we call The Lord’s Prayer):
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10. When we pray we need to pray for God’s plans to transpire in our lives, just as His plans always work in Heaven. This means we surrender our own wants and desires to fully follow God’s plan.

One of my favorite theologians, 20th century Swiss pastor and professor Karl Barth, writes that “we need to let God’s plan be executed, to let it come to pass, for to God belong the plan and its execution.” Here is the big question for all of us today: are we willing to pray such a prayer? Are we willing to tell God that we want to follow his plans for our life, whatever they may be, rather then are own? In one respect this is one of the scariest and seemingly disorienting prayers we can pray. And yet, I think it is among the most important prayers for us to pray. It is us saying that we entrust our lives to the creator, sustainer, and savior of the universe, knowing that His plans are so much greater and mightier then ours.

Jesus, The Bearded Man

Mark 9:19New International Version (NIV)

19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

Often times we see Jesus as this milk toast bearded man walking around not as this courageous man, but a man who is timid. For some, they say he is the softer side of a man. Really!?

When I read Mark 14-29, I see a man taking on an argument between his disciples and the religious leaders. Nowhere do I see Jesus saying, “Men, let’s understand each other now. Let’s watch our tempers.” 

No, He says in verse 16, “What are you arguing about?”He takes the problem and argument head on. He then listens to the man who has the demon possessed son. The son throws fits and foams at the mouth while the demon tries to kill him.

Jesus gets ticked off with his disciples because of their lack of faith and even says, “How much longer do I have to put up with this?” This is not a weak man to me.

Jesus then waits for them to bring the demon possessed boy. The boy throws a fit because of the demon inside of him. Jesus looks the dad straight on and asks how long this has been going on.

The man replies, “Since he was a young boy.” In verse 22, we see the followers lack of faith, but we also see his honesty. He says, “Have mercy on us. Help us, if you can.”

I love Jesus’ response, “What do you mean, if, anything is possible if a person believes.” The dad cries out, “Forgive me of my unbelief!”

Jesus is now in a moment. the crowd is getting bigger, and it is time to make a stand. He speaks straight to the demonic spirit. He commands him to come out and never come back, and so the demon leaves.

This is not a timid, milk toast man. This is a Savior who stands in the face of the enemy and calls him to a show down. Men, Jesus is not a spineless Mr. Nice Guy. NO, he is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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