Damaged Witness

Ephesians 4:29-32 (ESV) Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ.

It is so very easy, when we feel wronged, slighted or burdened, to lose control of our temper, slip into the flesh, our carnal nature, lash out and rage at someone.  It seems especially easy to lose it on those closest to us, our spouse, children, siblings or co-workers.  We can and do say some of the most vicious, hateful, un-Christlike, wicked things to each other.  

I’d like to say that I’m an exception to that, but regrettably I cannot.  I have said and done horrible things to people closest to me.  Likewise, I have been on the receiving end of some cruel assaults.  It’s devastating, heartbreaking and irrevocably damages relationships.  Though they can and often do heal, they will never quite be the same.  

Even worse than the damage done to the recipient of the assault, or the relationship between the parties, is the damage it does to one’s witness, the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ Himself.  When we choose to follow Jesus Christ, we choose a new life, we are to die to self, crucified with Jesus Christ, born again a new creation.  We accept the mantle of responsibility of representing Jesus Christ to our born again brothers and sisters and to the unbelieving world.  When we allow our carnal nature to take control, our emotions to erupt and explode all over a situation, what impact does that have on how the world around us sees Jesus? 

One of the greatest obstacles to the advancement of God’s Kingdom, the leading of souls to the Lord, is hypocrisy.  We’ve all heard someone say, “I can’t stand those churchy people.  They talk all high and mighty, think they’re so much better than we are, then go and do…say…”  Perhaps you have even said something to that effect.  I used that as a reason to stay away from church and a pursuit of Jesus for many years.  “Aw those self righteous, church going hypocrits!  Mr. So and So professes to follow Jesus, goes to church, studies scripture, blah blah blah.  I’ve seen him say… Just the other day, I caught him…”  You get my point.  

When we lose control of our emotions, when we let someone have it, rage, curse, name call, belittle the damage goes far beyond the person or people our tirade is directed at.  It damages our witness, those who witness the act, the Holy Spirit that resides within us and Jesus Christ.  God demands us to love one another tenderly, perfectly as we would ourselves.  That’s a tall order, but an order we must determine to fulfill.  So, next time something isn’t going your way, someone isn’t doing what you think they ought to, treating you as you think they should, will you give over to your emotions, your carnal nature?  Or, will you pause, think about how you can best represent your Lord and Savior and act accordingly?  Have a blessed weekend.

Proverbs 29:11 (ESV) A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Deal With It!

Most of us don’t give a second thought to what happens to things after we take out the garbage or flush the toilet in our homes.  The past couple months, I have learned more about what goes down the sewer line than I would care to deal with.  I’ve learned it is 80’ from one rental house to the sewer and seen things come back up out of a basement toilet that should not have been flushed.  I’ve dealt with a couple different plumbers, one who treated some symptoms and made things better for a week, and another who dealt with the problem causing some of the other issues.  If you grew up on a farm, there were a few ways you could deal with manure and the stink it brought.  Have you ever cleaned up a barn or animal shed with a pitch fork?  One early memory I have is sitting with my dad on the tractor as we scooped up the cattle yard and filled a manure spreader.  It’s not pretty, but you had to do something about it.  How do you deal with the manure that stinks up your life? 

As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement.  Deuteronomy 23:13

If you ever walk your dog around town or at the dog park, it is customary, and polite, to bring a doggie bag, so you can scoop up the mess your dog makes instead of leaving it around for others to step in.  Hopefully, you are responsible for your own messes, but what about when it comes to cleaning up other people’s messes?  If you are a parent you have likely changed a fair amount of dirty diapers, and done other things for your children that you would be hesitant to ask anyone else to do.  We often go above and beyond the call of duty for the health and well-being of those we love and care about.  Do you think others, or even God, would do the same for you?

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;  we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.  Isaiah 64:6

One argument I often heard from people, even if they are born again, about why they didn’t want to attend a church, is that they first had to get their life ‘cleaned up’ before they would be acceptable to others in the church, or to God.  They were worried that their past mistakes, or how they looked or acted now, would not allow them to fit in with other ‘Christians’.  In a way, they are right.  Most of us can put on a fairly good show for a couple hours and appear ‘put together’ to others, but none of us can appear perfect before God, based on our own good deeds.  All we have to offer is our sin and the mess that is our lives.  All of our own good works will never be ‘good enough’ to be acceptable to Him, but only through the righteousness that was given for us, in Christ.  We need His help.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

Unless we deal with our sin as God asks us to, we are not really addressing it.  We are just moving it around, hiding it, trying to make it not look so bad, and basically trying to manage it.  When we keep shoving things into the hall closet, where we hide stuff we don’t want seen, eventually it will get crowded and come falling back on us.  Confess your sins and bring them out before God, and others you can trust.  Sure it will smell for a bit, but until you deal with things that make your life stink, it won’t get any better. When God deals with the mess in our lives, I wonder how he sees us?  When we are born again and the Holy Spirit resides in us, we are always in the process of being sanctified, though we will never become clean or ‘perfect’ in this life.  Take comfort in knowing that He is always willing to help us clean up the messes in our lives when we confess our sins and deal with it. 

Yours in Christ,
Clark

 

Different

 

Whether or not we want to admit it, the majority of us spend much of our lives trying to fit in. We dress a certain way because it helps us fit in with our friends. We speak a certain way because it helps us fit in with a certain crowd. Our behavior can also vary greatly. At home we try to maintain the image of the loving husband and father, around our buddy’s we cultivate the image of the manly man, at work we’re the model employee to the boss, and the fun loving guy whose not afraid to make fun of the boss when the boss is not around. Yet, are we really meant to be a people who fit in? Are we called to be chameleons, constantly fitting into wherever situation we’re in? The truth is, God has called us to be DIFFERENT then anyone else. He has formed us, equipped us, and commanded us to be different, standing out in this world rather than fitting into it. 

Over the next month we’re going to be looking at the book of 1 Peter. This is a book all about standing out and being different in the world. Peter wrote this letter to churches that were struggling to find their way amidst difficult circumstances. Rome had experienced a great fire that leveled the entire city. The fire had actually been instigated by Emperor Nero, who wanted to rebuild the city in his own image. Needing to blame someone, he decided upon the Christians, who were a new and rapidly growing religious group. He authorized and encouraged an empire wide persecution of Christians. Many Christians were jailed and/or killed, and many churches destroyed. It suddenly became very difficult and dangerous to be a Christian anywhere in the Roman Empire. Many Christians started thinking that perhaps it was just best to temporary fit in with everyone else, and with their lives on the line one could hardly blame them. It was to these persecuted and frightened Christians that Paul was addressing his letter. He says so many amazing things in this letter (which is why I want to look at it over the next month), but I want to leave us with one verse this week.  

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,  since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16

We are not created, gifted, saved, and called to be like everyone else. The one who created us, gifted us, saved us, and called us wants us to be different. He wants us to be like Him. He wants us to be like Christ. That’s a big ask, but its an important ask. I pray that we are all willing to step out and trust God to help us explore and live lives that our different. 

Lost Boy

Psalm 27:9-10 New International Version (NIV)

Do not hide your face from me,
    do not turn your servant away in anger;
    you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
    God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me.

If you are looking for a good book on salvation, Greg Laurie has got one. It is called Lost Boy, My Story. He shares his journey of how he came to know Jesus Christ as his Savior. 

In his journey of not having a relationship with his biological father, his adopted father, Oscar Felix Laurie, makes an impact on his life. This man was the one who helped Greg Laurie know he was loved.

We all have a story of being the Lost Boy. And in that story, someone significant helps us on the path way to Christ. That person who shows love that resembles that of the Father.

For me, it was my grandmother. She was that typical grandmother. She was a farmer’s wife who knew how to love. Her arms were always wide open for hugs and kisses.

My grandmother has long since passed, but her legacy will forever live in my heart. By her love, she taught me about love. She saw the simple things in life and was content in them. She endured the Great Depression working on a 100 acre farm raising 9 children.

She taught me that God was good. That He was loving and cared for his creation. That He loved a lost boy like me. That Jesus was the God of our Salvation. That He holds us close like a grandmother does with her grandson. I am thankful for an amazing God and loving grandparent.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

Reminding all men of our Vital Biker’s Trip June 1, 2, and 3. We are headed to Table Rock Lake. We leave Pella at 7:00 a.m. and we will meet at WestPort Casey’s. We will be traveling 450 miles on our fist day. This is a men’s event only. This is a great opportunity to invite other men to join us.

 

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