Cry Out

What is your earliest memory?  I recently looked up a schedule to find out when a certain train passed near our home, as I remember being in my dad’s truck early one morning as this train went by.  It turns out it was less than a month after my second birthday.  I have other memories from around that time including once when I fell and scraped up my arm, then went looking for my parents to help.  There were other instances I recall of getting hurt or when emotions were running high, but it was usually followed by seeking sympathy or help from mom or dad.  Who did you call out to when you were hurt as a child?  How about now?

In my distress I called to the Lord;
    I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
    my cry came before him, into his ears.  Psalm 18:6

When you become a parent, or even when you are babysitting or working with someone else’s children, the roles flip and you become the responsible one who can help or offer comfort when something happens.  Do you remember the first time someone came crying to you for help?  Maybe it was even a sibling or a friend, but you were the closest one who was there when needed.  If you have ever held a crying baby, you hold, rock, and speak soft, comforting words to let them know they are ok…that they are loved and will be alright.  Isn’t this what we all seek, someone who will comfort us in our distress and speak words of truth, to tell us we are loved? 

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.   And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  Romans 8:15

In our culture, most of us don’t like to show our vulnerability, much less cry out to others for help very often.  Even though emotions can run high on social media, most of these folks still prefer to remain anonymous.  But we still feel and experience the same sadness, loss, joy and fears that everyone else has through history.  Some cultures are more expressive than others.  Looking to Jesus as our example, he did not always hide his emotions, but showed them fairly often as he ministered, even crying when his friend died.  He called on his Father in times of need as well.   

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.  Luke 23:46 

So, if someone calls out to you in their distress, whether they are 2 months or 20 years of age, lend them a listening ear.  Give them words of truth and encouragement, just as your heavenly Father does for you, whenever you cry out to Him.  Take time to talk with Him today.

Courage in Christ,
Clark

Run to Win

I watch a couple of people race each other recently… Like backyard style, not on a track.  One person got ahead quickly but not by a lot.  It looked like they were set to win the race, then they violated good racing… They looked back to see where the other runner was, and the runner in the back started catching up.  They look back again and they were catching up again.  When the lead runner was looking where they were heading, they kept their distance but when they looked back that distance shrunk.  Eventually the runner in the back caught up and took the lead to win the race.  

Had the lead runner kept their eyes ahead of them instead being so concerned with the other runner they would have won easily.  I think this is true in my life too.  There are people all around me who do marriage, parenting, ministry, and friendships so differently than me that causes me to look at them and be jealous, insecure, or question myself.  Comparison cripples me.  I forget to look ahead at the finish line and get distracted by other people around me. 

1 Corinthians 9:24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.

Running to win does not allow us to look at people running in other lanes, because that is not the lane God designed for us to run in.  How often do we look at what other people drive, who is friends with who, who has money, or any number of other things? We loose speed when we try compare ourselves to what other people have. What about you?  Where do you need to focus on you lane?  Where do you need to keep your eyes on a prize that will last instead of one that doesn’t?  Where do you need to discipline yourself to develop your gifts to win your race?  Where is comparison killing your potential?

Ask Holy Spirit right now what He wants to do in?  Where does he want to develop you, train you?  What does he want your eyes to be focused on?  Go to Him now and RUN TO WIN!

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

WHO Are You?

Remember the classic song Who are You? by The Who? It asks a question many of us stare down on a daily basis. We struggle with how we see ourselves, how others see us, and even with how God sees us. Our world is little to no help in this matter. Basically everything we do seems to have a massive effect on our identity. Successful at work? Then you are a success life. Get fired or have a bad season? Then you are a failure in life. The way we dress, every action we take, and even the actions of those around us (employees, family, co-workers, friends, etc.) seem to move the pendulum of our identity. We are thusly constantly trying to insure that people perceive us a certain way, even if that’s not WHO God created us to be. 

I don’t know about you, but every movement of that identity pendulum really stresses me out. I’ve spent so much of my life worried about how others see me, as well as plenty of time struggling with how I view myself. Its a stressful way to live. And here’s the thing: its not how we were created to live. Checkout these two verses:

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
Psalm 139:13-14

He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:11-13

Our identity is not something that is not up to us or the world around us, it was decided by God when we were carefully, and purposefully, formed. You may not always like everything about yourself, wishing for less belly, more hair, and a brain that functions at a significantly higher level (well, those are my wants at least!). Yet, you are who God made you to be. And that’s a wonderful thing, for you’ve been made to be a child of God. Think about that: YOU have been created and saved to be part of God’s family forever. God’s pendulum doesn’t change with your every action, but his love for you is steadfast. So, instead of wondering who we are, or complaining about who we seem to be, lets embrace who God made us to be. Because God made us for a reason, and his reason includes how we can uniquely change and impact the world. So, who are you? You are an amazing creation of God created with a purpose that no one else has. Embrace it and live it each and everyday. 

The Measure of Strength

2 Timothy 2:1New International Version (NIV)

The Appeal Renewed

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus

Often as men we measure strength by the outside appearance of a man. What is his physique. Is he muscular? Is he handsome? Is he ripped? Does he have a six pack? These are all based on outward appearance.

There are many times in the Bible where God commanded men to be strong. One of my favorite verses in life is within the Book of Joshua. The Lord commands him 3 times in the first chapter to be strong before he leads Israel into the Promise Land to face enemies which were described as giants.

Was God asking Joshua to lift heavy objects or move might walls? No, God was referencing the command of strength to be more of a deeper and an infinitely required inner strength.

Maybe the better alternative to measuring strength is by endurance. This kind of strength is called courage. Courage, itself, is a better indicator of a man’s strength.

God called out Joshua to be strong 3 times, but he also called out courage 3 times. He needed courage to face the trials and tribulations. He also needed to have the ability to be virtuous and moral regardless of the situation.

In 2 Timothy, Paul encouraged Timothy by pointing out the greatest source of strength known to man. He needed to be strengthened by the grace of God. It is in Christ Jesus and in his grace that we will find the measure of a man’s strength. It is in having right relationship with Jesus that we receive grace and where we will find the measure of our strength.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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