No Comparison

There’s a very real tendency of people to compare themselves to those around them.  We do it at work, at home, in sports, hobbies, in virtually every facet of life.  In the world of archery and bow hunting it is very easy for me to fall into the compare and contrast mentality.  What is that guy shooting?  How is he shooting?  Why is he doing that? What did he hang a tag on this year?  Why did he accomplish that with such apparent ease and I’m still struggling along?  

I picked my youngest up from volleyball practice tonight and while driving home our conversation was about this very thing.  She was telling me about some execution issues she was having and then proceeded to tell me how another girl seemed to just pick it up and excel.  I told her, “first and foremost, don’t fall into that trap.  Competition is a good thing, it stretches us and drives us to refinement and improvement.  However, comparing our self to others is a trap.  She is not you and vice versa… never compare yourself to another.  You, My Dear, are a one of a kind.”  Not everyone is gifted in the same ways and it is a disservice to measure your worth or accomplishment based on another’s.  The next thing I told her was, “champions are not born, they are made.  They are built through discipline, hard work, sacrifice, obedience, strength and courage.”  It’s a process and at times a painful one.

Applying this to my walk, I realize that I fall into this trap there, as well.  I often find myself admiring the work of another, be it in ministry, worship, theology, service, missions, etc, then thinking, “wow, that guy is doing amazing things.  He has it together.  He’s really doing something profound.  I’m not doing anything like that.”  Then I start feeling like I’m falling way short, not measuring up, which is true.  However, not for the reason I’ve allowed myself to believe.  I am not him and vice versa.  I am not purposed for the same things as he is.  I am not gifted in the same ways as he is.  My not measuring up has nothing at all to do with whether I am doing the same things as he is, as well as he is.  Rather, am I doing the things that God has prepared for me and me for?  Is God able to achieve through me what He seeks to achieve?

To recognize that and to be a “champion” of God is a process.  First, cast away the desire to compare yourself to others.  You are not them and vice versa.  Your focus is on God first and foremost.  You have to desire to want to know Him, His heart and His purpose for you.  It requires desire.  A burning passion to pursue a deep, personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.  How can you possibly know if you are where He wants you, doing what He wants, if you don’t have an intimate connection to Him?  

It requires discipline, training through the power of the Holy Spirit, your ability to follow God’s code of conduct, His rules.  Sin and God are 100% incompatible.  You simply cannot be able to discern your purpose if you lack the discipline to adhere to His code of conduct.

It requires obedience.  You have cultivated the relationship.  You desire to know His heart.  You are exercising discipline.  You have worked yourself into a position where you can discern His voice and understand His desire and purpose for you.  Now, you have to obey.  When He compels, convicts or burdens you… obey.  Through the execution of that obedience you will begin to realize and see your purpose as God sees your purpose.  You will no longer be caught in the comparison trap, stumbling down a rabbit trail blazed by another.  You will be headed down the purposed road God has mapped out specifically for you!  A purpose filled, purposed fulfilled life!  

Scripture teaches that the church (big “C”) is a body.  A body is made up of a collection of parts, each with a specific identity and function.  These parts function as a whole, but if one tries to perform the role of another, the whole mission begins to fall a part.  A hand is not a foot, a nose is not an ear, and they will not function as such.  To compare them to each other is pointless and completely counter-productive.  Stop comparing, pursue a oneness with Jesus, commit to the process, and focus on who God purposed you to be.  Have a blessed weekend.

Romans 12:3-5 (NKJV) For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

 

 

Happy Happy Joy Joy

What makes you happy?  When you feel happy, how long does this feeling last?  Maybe you receive an unexpected gift, saw a really cool sunrise, or you really enjoyed that mid-morning coffee break, which gave you a feel-good boost.  Each day we likely experience a roller coaster of emotions ranging from anticipation, happiness, satisfaction, discouragement, frustration, anger, anxiety, and others to varying degrees of intensity and duration.  Most of these are temporary depending on our experiences and circumstances from one minute to the next.  What brings you joy?  Some may describe joy as intense happiness, but I would argue it is more of an attitude of the heart (such as love, hope, and sorrow) than it is a feeling.  Can you still have joy inside you as you go through a multitude of experiences and emotions in any given season of life? 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

What do you way when someone asks ‘How are you doing?’  As Christians, should we expect to be happy all the time?  Should we even give the outward appearance that we are happy, when we are not, or should we be open an honest with how we feel?  It probably depends on the context.  Sometimes we need to get work done, so we ‘suck it up’ and move forward even if we don’t feel like it.  Is our end goal in life, as much of the secular world seeks – to be happy?  Just look around you a little and you can see others (or yourself) seeking happiness and pleasure in money/things, relationships, status, food, lust, etc, but these things alone are only temporary fixes until something bigger or better can be found.  Is that what you want, or is there something better?  Some try to justify sin (stealing, leaving a spouse, pornography, overindulgence, etc) by saying ‘doesn’t God want me to be happy?’  When your happiness comes at the expense of others and in the end brings you more pain and difficulty than you anticipated, you find out that what makes you happy is not always what is best for you. 

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

I experience as much happiness from finding a close parking spot, as much as I do from getting a work assignment done.  It happens on and off throughout the day and is fairly fleeting and superficial as any ‘happy’ feelings wear off quickly, and it doesn’t change me much at my core sense of being.  The other day a friend asked me what my favorite fruit of the spirit was, and I said I liked them all, as they were all closely connected.  When we try to love well, the other fruit naturally appears, and vice versa. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

I heard an interesting comparison once that for the Christian, Joy is central and pain is peripheral, as the major questions of ‘who am I’ and ‘why am I here’ have been answered.  For the non-Christian, Pain is central in life and joy is peripheral, as those central questions of meaning have not been answered and there is a constant struggle to cover or hide those feelings.   When we have come to understand salvation and surrender our lives to Christ, an unmistakable joy begins to flood in at the core of our being.  This is not deterred by the trials, challenges, and changing emotions we experience in life, but helps us overcome these difficulties to the point of death and beyond.  So, as you seek the little things that bring you some happiness each day, be reminded of the one thing that sustains your joy for living.  Rejoice in Him!

Blessings in Christ,
Clark

When Your World is Shaken Up

All of us will experience a giant shake-up at some point. We will be striving towards accomplishing plan A when plan Q gets thrown into our path. This can be a death, a sudden illness, an accident, a job loss, a natural disaster, or any number of things that we never dreamed of preparing for. I actually sit writing this in Managua, Nicaragua, where I am spending the week house hunting in preparation for our family serving as missionaries here beginning in July. Trust me when I say that leaving the US to serve in a developing country where we don’t speak the language was not OUR plan A. It was definitely a major shake-up in our lives. Like many other shake-ups I’ve experienced it was also one I really had not prepared my mind for. The question most of us don’t take the time to ask is: what do we do when our world is shaken up? The reality is that ALL of us our going to experience significant shake-ups in our lives, so what do we do when it happens?

I am reminded of a shake-up of astronomical proportions that happened to the Israelites in the Book of Daniel. One day King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Israel, destroying everything that the people had known. Many were carted away to Babylon to be slaves, including Daniel. Now that’s having your world shaken up! There are some things all of us can really learn from the experience of Daniel and the Israelites.

Don’t be surprised by adversity. Specific adversities will surprise us, but the fact that we will face adversity should never shock us. There tend to be four major sources of adversity: sin, our world, Satan, and God. Don’t let adversity surprise you. Develop habits such as prayer, scripture reading, surrounding yourself with Christian supporters and mentors, and trust God in all things. Adversity WILL happen, so prepare for it.


Look for God in adversity. I can’t imagine that many Israelites thought being conquered by Nebuchadnezzar and hauled into slavery was a good thing. Yet, God worked in amazing ways through this adversity. God repeatedly protected his people, and even managed to change the heart of Nebuchadnezzar himself. God’s miraculous saving of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, has given inspiration for thousands of years. When life is shaken up keep your eyes open, because God may act in a major way.


Trust God with what you don’t understand. Do you think Daniel understood why everything was happening as it was? No way! But, he prayerfully trusted God amiss the struggle. While there are many things we won’t understand there is one thing we should always understand perfectly: God overcomes death for us!
I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply
at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world. John 16:33

Finding Fault

Daniel 6:4New International Version (NIV)

At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.

Have you ever wondered how Daniel lived a life in which no one could find in who he was, what he did, and how he lived life behind closed doors? This is a thought provoking question for a Monday.

We see in the book of Daniel that he aligned his heart with God’s heart. He sought God’s will to be done through him. He had a consistent and prayerful focus, he grew as a God follower, and as a person and leader.

Daniel had a prayer life and practiced it three times a day. He would take time to worship God and looked toward Heaven. This habit got him thrown into a lions’ den. He spent the night watching an angel holding the mouths of the lions shut. Not one scratch was found on him the next day.

What if we chose that practice? What if we chose worshiping and praying to God. In turn it would be said that we were faithful men, responsible men, and trustworthy men. That would make an impact with our wives, children, places of work, and in our community.

How hard would it be to have people find fault in us? Today is a good day for heart alignment. When we choose a Kingdom focus and live a life of prayer and worship, we become a heavenly force to contend with. Let’s live a life where it is hard to find fault in how we live life.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

It is a new day. It is time to look forward, but we cannot help looking back. Even when blessings come into our lives, it is still hard not to refocus on the regrets. Are you ready to change this in your life? You are not your past. You are not your mistakes. You are not your dad. You are not your addictions. 

You are God’s beloved son. You can receive forgiveness. You are a new creation.

So, how can this change in your life? By setting a dat to chase the Father on Quest Midwest, October 1-6, 2017. This is a time of coming away. You will have five intensive days of God seeking, self searching, and spiritual training. 

Learn in Quest the Biblical truths to show you how to live life to the fullest. 

Go to Fellowship of the Sword for more details.

Strength and Courage 

Michael

 

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