On Edge

Have you tested the limits of what you thought you were capable of doing?  Maybe played with fire and not quite got burned.  Or maybe you feel you have cheated death a time or two and count your blessings.  There are lots of ways you can live life on the edge, but if you keep testing the limits, there may be a time you trip over the edge and don’t land on your feet.  One thing that comes to mind when we think of pushing the limits are extreme sports.  People have been pushing the limits of what we thought was possible since the beginning of time, only more recently with video running.  Whether it is trying to survive a trip over Niagara Falls, landing bigger and more dangerous jumps, skydiving without a parachute, or flying at over 100 mph within inches of a mountain, there is always someone willing to try something new.  The thing with extreme sports is that once you do what was once impossible regularly, it is no longer extreme.  It is a constantly moving target of everyone trying to one-up each other and taking it to a new and more intense level each time, until you find out that you have reached your limits and end up severely injured or dead.  Maybe you are not testing your limits by trying to cheat death in a dramatic way, but where do you take risks in life?

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7

Everything we do in life involves some level of risk.  The chance of being killed by a terrorist is much less than flying on a plane, which is much less than driving across town, yet our fear of these things is likely the opposite.  We all have variable levels of fear in our lives which dictates what risks we are willing to take.  Just look at your friends and family and we can surely find some lives which went in a direction that no one intended.  Experimenting with smoking, alcohol, or other drugs can easily lead to a life of addiction and impaired health.  The lure of lust has led some to risk their marriage by cheating on a spouse directly, with wandering eyes, or through pornography.  Or we may think no one will notice if we take a little extra of what is not ours to pad our wallet.  Every time we spend or save the money God gave us can lead us toward poverty or more greed without much effort.  There are choices we make each day which can lead us down the wrong trail or the high road.  What guides your decisions?

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.  Psalm 24:1

What if we were designed to take risks?  The bible is full of examples of people, when called, to boldly go where no man had gone before.  Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jonah, Paul and others were led by God to step out in their faith to do what seemed foolish to the common man.  Christ took on the role of a servant to the point of death, when he had the power to choose anything else.  These are our examples of stepping out in faith to live honorably before God and man.  Yet we have examples of this in our own lives.  There are veterans living among us, and some who are not, who risked their lives to protect the freedoms we hold dear.  There are neighbors who gave up a high paying job to give more to their family, or to go into a ministry.  Where have you stepped out in faith and taken a risk to answer a call God had given you?

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

Challenge yourself in ways that will edify you instead of kill you.  You can take small risks every day that will save lives instead of destroy them.  Get up 30 minutes earlier to pray.  See how fast or how often you can read through the bible.  Challenge yourself to say 10 kind things to others each day.  Give more than you thought was possible.  Share the gospel with someone, even if you think they are a lost cause.  Take steps to go down the path you hear God calling you and leave behind the selfish world of the flesh.  Taking the risk to follow God may cause you to lose your life, but it will be worth it!

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.  Matthew 16:25

Blessings in Christ,
Clark

Make a Difference

What did you want to be when you were growing up?  Many of us wanted to be a police man, fireman, or a super hero.  Some of that had to do with feeling powerful, but I believe the biggest reason is we want to make a difference.  We want our lives to be bigger than ourselves.  We look up to great people like Mother Terresa, Martin Luther King,  Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and of course Jesus.  Each of these people made a significant difference in history.  They made our world better.  

With all of these people, the way they made a difference was the were different.  They did not use their time, talent, treasure and influence the same way other people did. They were different. I think the reason many people do not make a significant difference is they are not willing to be different.  Many people spend their time, talent, treasure and influence the same way everyone else does.  They wake up as late as possible, spend as much time in entertainment or the pursuit of stuff as possible, read as little as possible after all you might miss an episode, try to spend some time with family, and if there is room in our overly busy schedules… time with God.  I challenge if that will make a difference.  I wander what it would look like to be different enough to make a difference. 

King David did not begin as a king but as a shepherd and the youngest son.  This is not the making of a king.  The prophet Samuel shows up one day and anoints David as king.  So you would think David would be king soon right? Not so.  The next scene is David being invited to play the harp for king Saul.  Saul likes David and thinks he should be an armor bearer for him. It would be easy for David to be disappointed in his opportunities.  What if David playing the harp and serving as an armor bearer, God was preparing him to lead a country by overhearing king sized conversations?  Then David faces Goliath and we know with a sling and 5 stones David takes down the giant.  What if God planned for David to win over the army was an opportunity for David to save all of them and their families from slavery?  Saul gets jealous of David and tries to kill him, and David runs all over the country away from Saul.  What if God wanted to show David the territory he was going to lead?  

David did not act like all of the other men.  I believe David thought different.  When other men saw a giant, David saw an opportunity.  What giants are you facing trying to pray them away, when God wants you to overcome them by His power?  How does God want you think different?

David prepared different.  We all like game day, but it is the preparation that determines the winner.  God used some really not fun opportunities to train David to be king.  What is in front of you, that if you used it as an opportunity to prepare for something down the road, you would find purpose in it?

To make a difference, you have to be different.  To be different you have to prepare and think different.

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

 Brandon Sereg

Give it a Try

Like many Americans I took Spanish in high school, but preceded to quickly forget everything. I began learning again a year ago to better communicate with our partner churches in Nicaragua. This Sunday I was conversing with a friend at church, and they asked how my Spanish skills were progressing. I replied that my skills were still not very good and I still have a long way to go. I’ll admit, I was fishing for a compliment with that response. This friend had just been in Nicaragua with me a few weeks earlier, and had a good idea where my skills were. I figured they’d respond with “you did so well in Nicaragua.” Instead, they responded with “well, you tried a lot when we are done there, so I can tell you are certainly trying.” Yeah, not exactly the ego boosting compliment I was fishing for!

As I thought about it, trying hard is very much what I want to do in my life. There are many times I may try something and seemingly fail. There may be other times that I try some and succeed, but the success has little to do with me, but everything to do with God. The reality is that every time we try something in the name of God we are being the disciples He wants us to be. The important thing is not always that we achieve the type of instant success society teaches us to aim for, but that we truly use our gifts to the fullest. We give our best and fullest try in all circumstances, and we trust God with the results.

A scripture that lays this concept was written by Paul as he sat in prison. Paul had given the greatest try possible in spreading the gospel to every person and place possible. Yet, here he sat, with the possibility that he may not leave alive. His best try very much could have seemed like a failure. Yet, in the midst of that difficult circumstance, he wrote:
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13

This passage, which so often gets taken out of context, hits home the idea that we must serve God to the fullest and trust Him with the results. Try sharing the gospel with your neighbor, and trust God with the results. Try serving in a different ministry, and trust God with the results. Try learning a new language so you can share with people in a different culture, and trust God with the results. What do you need try in the name of God this week?

Vital Ministries News

Normally I do not touch on this, but I thought that I would just to throw it out there. This coming April 22 on a Saturday night, Michael W. Smith is in concert at the Bridge View Center at 7:00 p.m. It looks like you can buy tickets at stubhub.com.

My thoughts are that it is close for most of us and Michael W. Smith is a great entertainer and man of God. This is a great opportunity for a date night or even a family night.

This next week is our final week for Vital Men as we continue our series, Falling Men – Rising. We will look at the life of the disciple, Peter, through his failing and with the help of Jesus, him rising higher than he could ever believe. 

Do not miss the final teaching.

Strength and Courage 

Michael

 

The WHY

  1. I spend a great deal of time planning and preparing hunts.  As an pro shop owner, that applies to helping others prepare for theirs, as well.  Preparation is good, essential actually.  A simple outline would follow something to this effect:  #1 choose your game (the what), #2 what type of experience are you after and what are the area(s) you want to hunt (the where), #3 figure out the guidelines, ie the application process if applicable, the rules and regs of your location choices and complete them (the how), #4 gear needed, assembled and organized, #5 get your body ready for the experience you have chosen (#4&5 are details of the how).  If you do all of the things in this outline, pack up and set out, you MAY get somewhere.  You MAY have an amazing experience.  You MAY… even fill a tag.

However, if we really want to maximize our odds, we must not exclude the final and absolute crucial piece of the outline, the WHY.  Why are we wanting to do this?  Why are we making the choices we are making and why are we going forth in the manner we are?  Once we have figured out the WHY, we can develop and settle on a path that will get us there.  If we are honest, truly devoted to the WHY, that path will likely be a narrow one.  Will you take it?

Matthew 7:13,14 (NKJV) “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Like in life, the path to success in the field is seldom the one that most are willing to take.  If you want to find your game, you will likely have to be willing to seek and follow the path few others will.  When the pressures on, elk, deer, turkey head for inhospitable locales, places they know are hard to get to and they will find security.  Are you willing to find the way in there AND take it?  That’s where the reward is.  That’s where the WHY lives!

Most of the world around us is looking for the easy road, the wide, broad stretching mesa of easy travel.  I’ve looked for that route, sometimes still do.  I’ve followed that route, in life and on hunts and what I’ve learned is that elk do not live there.  They seek out those hard to get to cracks and seams that you see in the picture above.  They travel down narrow paths to get beyond the reach of most.  

To get to the reward God promises, your path will not be across a lush grassy mesa.  It’ll be along a sheep trail, with you questioning the sanity of your every step.  He never promised us an easy road.  In fact just the opposite, but He will empower our WHY, and assures us victory for our willingness to find and take the sheep trail.  So, assemble your outline, figure out the WHY, look for the narrow path and push on.  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace 

 

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