Vital Ministries News

Make choices in 2018 to grow deeper in your faith. Make choices to live healthier in what you eat and in your exercise. Choose to read a book that helps your mind stay healthy mentally.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Time to Teach… LEARN!

Philemon 1:6 (NASB) and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake. 

One of the most intelligent persons I have ever met, was Dr. Dawny Steadman.  She was my forensic anthropology professor at Iowa State.  She was a world renown expert in her field, but so are a number of others, in their respective fields, that I’ve known.  However, most of them would not get the same characterization from me.  Why?  In my mind, what was it about Dr. Steadman that makes me praise her intelligence above so many?

Firstly, she was a brilliant scientist.  She obviously had a firm grasp of her particular discipline.  I’m sure she studied very hard to gain that understanding.  If I had to speculate, though, I would say she leapt ahead of her peers when she began to teach.  She was a remarkable teacher.  She had an ability to convey complex ideas, methods and determinations in a way that a non-anthropology major, such as myself, could understand.  Also, in the process of teaching others, you could see her own understanding of the material growing and solidifying.

In my own life, I hold this concept to be true.  The more I teach on a subject, the more I want to learn.  The more I show and share what I know with others, the more refined and complete my own knowledge and understanding becomes.  This is very evident in my working life.  The more I share knowledge of Harley Davidson with others, the greater my own understanding.  My personal growth and development in the world of archery has grown exponentially faster since opening the shop in 2013.  Daily, I’m given opportunities to have my knowledge tested, to share, teach others what I know.  Every time I do, I learn something new, my understanding is refined and solidified a little more.

This has certainly been true in my relationship and walk with Jesus Christ.  Since being given the opportunity to share with all of you, through this forum, I’ve grown exponentially.  This limb of the tree of ministry God has placed me on, required a stricter accountability.  It forced me into deeper study than I had been engaged in.  It forces me to be more observant, obedient and dedicated.  I’m much more focused and thoughtful when I’m trying to discern what God wants me to learn, so that I might properly convey His message to whomever He directs as an audience.  

The refining and teaching the Holy Spirit has accomplished in me, through me, has allowed Him to move me to yet the next rung of the ladder of the plan He has for my life, preaching.  In the two instances in which I was called upon to deliver a Sunday sermon, I honestly believe I walked away learning as much or more than the people hearing it.  Teaching, sharing, fellowship, a POWERFUL tool, used by God for our own learning. Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

 

Cold

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.  At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.  Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.  Matthew 24:9-13

It was just a week ago, here in Iowa, that we were experiencing high temperatures in the 40-50 degree range, just enjoying each day as it arrived.  Then on Sunday, we had our first measurable snowfall of around 2” and it was not too bad.  I even worked up in a sweat pushing snow around during my first Winter Workout of the season.  And now, we are struggling to see high temps out of the teens and single digits…cold by most measures!   Honestly, I enjoy the wide variety of weather we get here in Iowa, as they say, just wait and it will change.  But lots of snow and long stretches of days when temps fail to break above 30 degrees leave me feeling a bit cold and discouraged too. 

So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  Revelation 3:16

What if we took your spiritual temperature, what would it read?  How would we even measure that…by how often you attend church, frequency of bible reading or prayer, or any other outward measurement?  A better question may be ‘How sold-out for Jesus are you?’  Again, it may be difficult to quantify this outwardly, but you definitely know it if you have been hot or cold before.  As we go through life, we may even experience different seasons of when we grow or become stagnant spiritually, of when we appear spiritually fruitful and times we are not.  Another question becomes, how do you respond when you or those around you become lukewarm or cold and inattentive to the presence of God in their lives.  What do you do then? 

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

Most people do not turn cold overnight, but gradually drift that way over time.  Often, it may be specific trials, influential people, or life circumstances that trigger them to become discouraged or start to turn away from their once fervent faith.  Another response is when we become so self-sufficient that we start to feel we don’t really need God, as we are doing just fine on our own.  Or we become so busy with life, that we really don’t have much time to spend with God, or listen to Him.  Whatever the reason, there is still something we can do when our hearts start to turn cold toward God or others in our lives. 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  James 1:2-3

Even when we do not feel like it, if we continue to practice spiritual disciplines such as prayer, fasting, bible study, service toward others, confession, worship and other disciplines, these can fan our flames of faith and grow the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  If our faith is as temperamental as our feelings and dictated primarily by life circumstances (e.g. we trust God when life is good, and doubt Him when it does not go our way) we are in for a roller-coaster ride.  When we persevere and look down the road to what lies ahead, our current status is not as daunting.  Just as we will one day hear the robins chirping in anticipation of the warm weather to come, a time of spiritual growth and renewal is likely for the frozen chosen when they persist in their faith.  May the promise of Christ and the work of his Spirit give you hope, regardless of what lies ahead.

Yours in Christ,
Clark

New Discipline

Along with this new word for the year I start a new discipline every year. The last few years have been work out 6 days a week, read a book a week, get up at 5:30 am, and read through the Bible in a year.  Everyone of these were a struggle and were not easy to start.  I am not a disciplined person naturally, ask my dad and he could talk for days about my lack of disciple growing up.

2 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. 

What is my prize I am trying to win? I want to walk in closer fellowship with Jesus every year. I want to die married to the woman I am married to.  I want my kids to know God and serve Him with all they are.  I want to fulfill my purpose I was created for.  I want my character and integrity to be as strong behind closed door as in public.  I want to make disciples that do the same as I do.  All of these things are HUGE, and so far beyond what I can do in my own strength.  JESUS IN ME IS STRONGER THAN THE WRONG DESIRES IN ME.  So daily I submit to Jesus keeping my eyes on the prize to finish the race with purpose in every step.

I challenge you to get alone with God and ask Him to give you a word for this new year.  I challenge you start a new discipline that will help you finish the race.  GO DO IT NOW!!!  God has great plans for you this new year, go and seek Him in what they are!

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Never Ending Christmas

Christmas at my house has a shelf life of about two days. Christmas day is full of excitement, as our young children are often out of bed and bubbling over with excitement around 4:30am (new rule: no waking up mom and dad before 6:30am, or there will be no presents!). The present opening tends to take a couple of hours, interspersed with breakfast, snacks, and pictures. Once the present are all opened the kids become singularly focused on their new toys and games. By about noon on December 27th, however, the new “stuff” has lost its excitement and newness, and the children are back to constantly uttering their two favorite phrases “I’m bored” and “there is nothing to do!” Yep, the joy of that Christmas morning seems to last only about 48 hours before it loses all significance.

That begs the following questions: what is shelf-life of the joy of Christmas in our lives? How long is it before the significance of Christmas is replaced by our worldly wants and concerns? There is a story in scripture that does a great job addressing these questions. It happens eight days after Jesus is born. Now, put yourself in the shoes of Mary and Joseph for a moment. All of these amazing things happen in a short period of time: angels appear to them, they have this crazy journey to Bethlehem (including giving birth in a barn), random shepherds show up, more angels appear, and they now have the Son of God as their son. Now THAT’S a Christmas! Yet, eight days later, you have to wonder whether or not the wonder of it all has given way to the stress of raising a baby. And so it is that Mary and Joseph fulfill their religious duty and bring their eight day old to the Temple. There they encounter two different people, Simeon and Anna, who explain to them how significant their son really is. You can read the whole account in Luke 2:25-40, but let me give you the highlights. These are three ways in which Simeon and Anna point out the significant Christmas should have to all of us every single day.

  1. Jesus gives us salvation: Jesus came on Christmas not simply to teach us, but to save us for all eternity. Without Christmas we would be headed for death and hell, but because God came to us in that stable we may have life everlasting!
  2. Jesus provides guidance for our decisions: Because God came to earth in the form of Jesus we have received MASSIVE amounts of advice and guidance direct from God. What a significant treasure that is, and one we need to do a better job of listening to. 
  3. Jesus changes our worldview: Jesus didn’t come for just a few believers, but for the entire world. This should challenge us to think beyond ourselves and our churches, and to think about those who need Christ throughout our world. 

This year, lets not allow the joy of Christmas to be a 48 hour thing, but rather, something we celebrate and remember all year long. 

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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