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March 8-18, 2019

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Rear View Mirror

Philippians 3:13 (NASB) Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 

The last couple weeks, I have been faced with a life altering decision.  A decision that could have significant ramifications for myself, my family, friends, co-workers and customers.  It was a decision that I needed to measure out carefully and resolutely.  I made my decision.  I believed it was the correct decision, but most importantly, feel that it was the decision God was leading me.  

Even with all of that said, it was a decision that was very difficult for me.  The difficulty flowed from my heart.  From a purely black and white, logical and through examination, the decision was perfectly clear.  However, my heart was in conflict with my head.  I was reflecting on the past.  I was thinking mostly about what I had done, what I enjoyed, what I’d miss and what I would be giving up.  I was so focused on what was on the rear view mirror, I couldn’t see the turn that would lead me to the beautiful landscape awaiting around the next bend.  

Fortunately, through the support and counsel of those around me, my focus was able to be diverted to the promising road that lay ahead.

How often in life do we find ourselves staring at the rear view mirror?  How often do we get stuck, focused on the memories, good and bad?  How often to we get caught in the questions of, “why can’t it be like it was?  What if this had only happened, instead of that?  How’s come I never?”  Or, our fixations on the glory days, “I remember when I could…  I accomplished this, have you forgotten?”  We get fixated on what was, and often times forget, that’s past, there’s new horizons that are racing up on us.

Such is true throughout or spiritual walk, good and bad.  We tend to think about where we’ve been, who we were and what we’ve done, instead of where we’re going, who we’re becoming and what we will do.  

Thinking back, remembering the good, the bad and in between is perfectly fine.  In some cases it is necessary.  Be careful not to fixate on the rear view mirror, though.  You  just might miss the “turn ahead” sign.  Have a blessed weekend.

Philippians 3:14-16  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Witnessed

Earlier today, my wife shared a gospel tract with me that she found when she opened a new box of diapers.  I read through it, just to be sure, and sure enough, it was a little cartoon story of a man who died and saw hell, then wanted to talk to a pastor after being revived.  I thought this may be a unique way for someone to see the gospel, who might otherwise not get a chance, and maybe a little more effective than passing by one on a bathroom counter.  There was no name or contact printed on it, but it made me wonder what the efficiency rate is of this type of ‘evangelism’, maybe 1 in 50 or 100 tracts that are read lead someone to seek the truth of the Gospel?  Just speculation, but if that were the case, you may ask, is it worth the effort?  If this were so, I would expect to see more of these, or maybe engage in more of this myself.  Do you know anyone who came to faith through a tract, a billboard, a radio show, or some other indirect means? 

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?  As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”  Romans 10:14-15

What means of evangelism do you practice?  In a post-modern culture, street corner evangelism or witnessing to strangers is almost taboo to many in the younger generations.  Even though they may need to hear it, superficial advice coming from a stranger about something which they likely have a preconceived opinion is not always a good impression either.  But it is better than nothing, right?  Or wrong?  Even if intended as a means to share the love of Jesus, some methods of sharing this information don’t come across as very loving, or at least are not perceived that way.  How about you or others you know?  How did you come to the knowledge of your need for a saving faith in Jesus for your salvation? 

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.  Isaiah 40:8

You may not have tracts that you give out to strangers or friends, but one thing you do have, that is likely even more effective, is your own story.  When you can engage in a conversation (not a debate) with someone and are able to share how and why you came to faith in Christ, there is a much greater chance that they may be willing to consider doing the same.  When you meet with someone once, or multiple times, it shows you care about them, and may create a place where they feel more comfortable asking questions of you, or sharing what struggles they are having as well.  With an invitation from you, they may even be more open to discussing or exploring God’s story in the Word, which should eventually open up to them the truth of the Gospel.  Have you ever had meetings like this with a non-believer, even if it did not go exactly how you thought?  To be honest, I would enjoy meeting with someone every day if it meant we could have a conversation about God’s Word. 

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.  1 Peter 3:15

So, even if you don’t get a chance to share the Gospel or your story of how you came to believe it very often, seek out opportunities to do so.  I would challenge you to make some time to write an outline of where you started and how you have grown in your faith over the years, and list the reasons you have come to trust the Bible and what it says.  Once you write it out, you may be able to relate some main points of your faith story to a friend of even a brief encounter with a stranger if the opportunity presents.  I have been meaning to make time to do the same, so I can come up with new ways to share what is most meaningful in my life with anyone who will listen.  After all, if I truly value the Good News found in God’s Word, why wouldn’t I want others to share in this treasure? 

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”  And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”  Isaiah 6:8

Yours in Christ,

Clark

How to Keep Your Heart Alive… Part 3

There are things in our lives that shape us. They shape how we think, how we act and how we believe. They are the 5 people we spend the most time with, the magazines or news we regularly read, and the places we trust what they say.  For me I want that to be the Word of God.  I aspire to start everyday in the Word.  I want it to shape my thinking, my world view, and what I build my life on.  

Many people build their lives based on what makes the most sense to them.  If they can reason with it they will believe it. If someone can convince them, they will trust it.  This is why who you spend the most time with matters the most.  So what do you build you life on? The opinions of those you work with?  Your parents?  The Word of God?

King David said, I have hidden your Word in my heart.  Your Word is a light unto my path and a lamp unto my feet.  We all would like to live a life like David.  The new testament says he fulfilled the purpose in his generation.  How?  He build His life on the Word of God.  He trusted it even when his circumstances seemed to contradict it. He obeyed it even when it wasn’t popular.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

3 Keys to Keep Your Heart Alive

  1. Prayer
  2. Worship
  3. Word

Today I am going to write about Word.  Here is the key: It is not about getting in the Word… It is about getting the Word in you.  You could spend an hour in the Word everyday, and if you do not let it transform you then you have missed it.  If you do it out of religious duty because it is what “good christians” do, then you have missed it.  If you read it like a treasure hunt knowing there is a verse in there to chew on for the rest of the day, then over time it will transform what you think, then what you believe, and how you build your life.

So here a couple options:  
1. Get a Bible that is easy to read.  I suggest the NLT.
2. Download the YouVersion Bible App.  It is free and can set you up on a free Bible reading plan
3. Get a one year Bible.  You can read through the whole Bible in one year, with only 15 min a day.

The Word of God will stir your soul, shape your mind, and lead your emotions.  It has the power to change every area of your life from your relationship with God to your finances.  It can be trusted!

So today, get God’s Word in you! Keep your heart alive! 

Helping people live a better story

Brandon Sereg
www.thevibrant.church

Getting Weak to Grow Strong

The past year living in Nicaragua has helped me to really appreciate all the innovations that make life in the US much more efficient. I’ve without a dishwasher or a clothes dryer (and we have a four-month rainy season here…), have not had a washing machine the past month, and have had a functioning car about 66% of the time. Lawnmowers are such an extreme luxury I’ve only seen them at a baseball stadium and a golf course. Instead, everyone just cuts the grass (well, actually, everything), with machetes. Oh, and if there is an automatic carwash in the country I’ve yet to find it. At every car wash all the work is done by hand, and it takes at least 45 minutes to get your car washed. Its obviously significantly more work to do any of the above actions without the modern devices that make quick work of them. If I wanted to do my laundry and get my car washed on the same day I better start my day awfully early, because its going to all day.

While nearly all of us love having machines that make our lives easier, its interesting that when we face challenges in life we tend to make things a lot harder, stressful, and time consuming then they need to be. See, we really have two choices when it comes to fighting life’s. Plan A is to go it alone, which is often stressful, time consuming, and not always very successful. Plan B is to fight the battles of life with God’s help. Amazingly, many of us tend to reach for Plan A (the machete) instead of Plan B (the zero-turn radius lawnmower). Yet, look what Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 10:3-4:

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

God wants to help us as we fight all the battles of life, and He can give us more power than we can imagine. We need to step out of the way and let Him help us. Here’s three things we need to stop doing the hard way, and start letting God help us with:

  1. Stop seeking what you want, and start seeking what God wants. It’s really that simple guys!
  2. Stop thinking about how you “deserve it,” and remember that you deserve death. This sounds blunt, but its true. We live in such an entitled world that we start believing we deserve stuff simply “because.” The reality is, what we really deserve in this world because of our sin is death. Yet, God gracefully gives us eternal life. You deserve some pretty bad stuff, but God gives you eternal life anyway!
  3. Stop thinking you can handle it, and realize you can only handle it with God. Let’s be honest. We can’t handle anything close to all the battles and struggles we encounter. So, instead of fighting a losing battle, let’s handle our battles with God’s help.

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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