Draw Odds

Genesis 28:15 (NKJV)  Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”

The application deadlines for western big game hunts have closed or are soon to.  This is an exciting and fun time for me.  It’s the dawn of a new season, new prospects and renewed anticipation of drawing an ever elusive, coveted tag.  I invest a good deal of time, energy and resources in researching the game I hope to pursue this coming fall, the states I would like to hunt, the units within the state, then down to the nooks and crannies within those units.  It’s necessary, tedious, frustrating and wrought with angst, but fun at the same time.  I have completed our apps for Elk, Mule Deer and Bighorn Sheep.  From this point, no amount of worrying or second guessing will change the outcome ahead.  It’s just hurry up and wait.  

Honestly, the odds of my wife and I drawing even one of the tags we applied for are extraordinarily slim.  They are all highly sought after, coveted tags.  That’s alright, though.  If we draw one of these low odd lotteries, great!  If we don’t, no worries, I have a back up.  I will purchase a guaranteed over the counter tag and head west all the same.  

Each of us knows someone, once was our self and some still are willing to rest all of our hopes, dreams, desires and goals on those low odds, highly coveted tags.  How many walk through life asking the question,”what if you’re wrong?  What if this really is all there is?” So, if that’s the case, even understanding the extremely low odds, that’s what they are willing to hang their hope on!  That’s crazy!  I won’t rest the hopes of my hunting season on tags with greater odds than that, but they’ll hang the hope of their eternity on it?!  I want a guarantee!  There are millions, billions of people walking through life applying for tags that aren’t going to come through.  Yet, if they but choose to, they can head elsewhere, stroll up to the counter and be guaranteed one!  

I want to head west and bow hunt every fall, if able, and am perfectly confident that I can.  Why, because I know where to go and be assured the opportunity.  I’m going to spend eternity in paradise with my Lord and Father.  Again, I am perfectly confident of that.  Why, because I know where to go and He has assured me that opportunity… a guaranteed tag!!!  Have a blessed weekend!    

John 14:6 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me. 

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

 

Remember

The older I get, the more I enjoy history, especially decades and experiences that occurred before I was born and that I did not experience first-hand.  I regularly lean about historical people and events that I have never heard of before through references I hear or an article I see.  A few weeks ago, my brother posted an article about a man I had never heard of who almost single handedly averted World War 3.  Just when I thought I had seen it all, something else comes along to remind me that people find new and creative ways to do both great things as well as stupid things that have been done for centuries.  There are several variations on the phrase “Those wo cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Essentially, if we (as a society or individually) cannot learn from our mistakes, we will surely make them again.  Do you prefer to learn from your own mistakes, or those of others? 

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.  Romans 15:4

I remember a fair amount from history class in school, but was never ‘formally educated’ much beyond the Civil War because the school year ended before we could finish the book into the 20th century.  Fortunately, I have since picked up on most of the last century from other sources.  Even though some of the references in Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t start the Fire’ were foreign to me, I had the capacity to look them up.  Is it the same with scripture?  I regularly work with young kids in Awana, where the primary goal is to teach kids scripture.  I am regularly impressed with the ability of several children to learn it quickly, as this was always somewhat of a challenge for me, even in Junior High.  We are often learning much and have the capacity to do much more, so the question is ‘are we and the next generation focusing on the right things?’    

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.  Psalm 103:11-12

I heard a question earlier this week that asked whether or not your memories from childhood were mostly positive or negative.  I have to say that most everything I recall I think was good.  So either the bad experiences were not that bad in time, or I have mostly forgotten them.  I remember fighting with my siblings, but mostly over trivial things.  I still love them today.  So are there things we should forget?  When someone wrongs us and sins against us, it is often difficult, but important to forgive them.  Just as God forgave us when we didn’t deserve it, so we ought to act the same toward others.  When someone regularly sins against us, it may be difficult to trust them as much in the future, but God often gives us the knowledge and strength to do what we cannot do on our own. 

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22

Courage in Christ,

Clark

Labels Part 3

So far in our journey, Jacob has manipulated his brother for the birth right, deceived his dad into getting the blessing, and it hits him.  His brother is going to kill him.  So he runs away.  He runs to his uncles territory, where he meets Rachel his cousin.  He kisses her and makes an agreement to marry her.  Clearly he is from Arkansas. The agreement is he works 7 years to pay a bride price to which he agrees. 7 years later it comes time for the wedding and he celebrates… a little too much.  He starts talking cursive and he accidentally marries Rachel’s older sister Leah.  However he does not recognize it until the next morning.  Rachel’s dad deceives Jacob.  Then makes a new agreement, if Jacob works another 7 years he can marry Rachel too.  He agrees.

Then the sisters start competing through having kids.  To increase their chances they marry their maid servants to Jacob. Now Jacob is married to four different women and over time has 12 sons, not including daughters.  Could you imagine the family tension.  Jacob’s father in law feels like he has been deceived by some strange business deals and Jacob decides it is time to go. He leaves only to find out his brother is on the way with an army.  Jacob has no where to go and his past has finally caught up with him.

I am sure all of us have had the moment where our past seems to label us and determine our future.  They change the way we see ourselves in the mirror.  So what do we do with the labels of our past?  Jacob has a defining moment in his most desperate hour.

Genesis 32:24 This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. 25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”

But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 “What is your name?” the man asked.

He replied, “Jacob.”

28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”

29 “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said.

“Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.

30 Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.”

Jacob wrestled with God in his labels.  He was covered in labels from other people, labels he pursued that did not work out, and labels of his past that seem to follow him around.  So God shows up and rewrites the labels.  That is what he wants to do with you, to take the labels that follow you and rewrite them. 

So go to Him now and let Jesus rewrite the labels.

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Fighting the Wrong Opponent

Every 3.6 seconds someone in our world dies of starvation. Over 8 million children die annually due to extreme poverty. Over 3,000 people groups exist where there is no organized Christian presence. Over 70% of our world does not have a saving relationship with Christ. 1/3 of Americans under 30 identify as being non-religious, the highest in history. I don’t know about you, but each of those problems tugs at my heart, and there are MANY more I could have listed. The reality is that every problem listed above should be addressed in a meaningful manner sooner, rather then later, by us as Christians. Christians are better resourced then at anytime in history to address the spiritual, economic, and social problems of our world, yet we are slow to do so.

As Christians we’ve slipped into a bad habit of wasting much of our energy bickering among ourselves instead of addressing the problems of our communities and world with Christ’s love. Nearly every day someone on my Facebook feed links to an article taking a fierce stance either for or against contemporary worship. Nearly every time I visit my local coffee shop I overhear conversations at other tables complaining about some aspect of their church. And, I must admit, I’m often not much better. I whine in my head, under my breadth, and even sometimes quite audibly about the ideas, behaviors, and practices of other Christians I personally do not like (and my reasons are often not very Biblical).

This misallocation of our time and energy towards infighting instead of serving is far from new. Paul addressed this issue beautifully in writing to the church in Ephesus:
We will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:14-16


This thing we call Church works best when we put aside our preferences and personal desires and chose to work together to be the hands and feet of Christ in this broken and weary world. Here’s what I want to propose to us today. What of instead of whining and complaining we as Christians re-directed that time and energy towards being the hands and feet of Christ in our world? Instead of looking up articles trying to prove our position we allocated more time to serving others? Instead of complaining to other Christians we met together to encourage one another or, even better yet, went out and served together?There is so much work that needs to be done, so lets stop fighting one another and start fighting together for the expansion of God’s Kingdom.

Live Small or Live Big

Job 36:15New International Version (NIV)

15 But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering;
    he speaks to them in their affliction.

Here is a question for us today. Can my pain be transformed into something big, like a greater ability to love, to protect, and to utilize a righteous kind of power?

Most men have a wounded heart of some kind and for most, it is usually a father wound. For me, I am a son of a beginning baby book generation. I was born at the end of that generation that is a driven, hardworking, and isolated generation.

My own father was born after WWII having a father who fought as a gun man of a tanker ship. My grandfather was a hard man. He did not talk much, except when he was drinking. I must truly say that I resented him, and I was also afraid of him.

I will never forget walking into the funeral home when my grandfather had passed. My dad did not see me, but I watched him hold my grandfather’s had while weeping bitterly. I could hear my dad telling him that he loved him.

My dad was also a very strong man. He was a builder and carpenter, as well as, a tradesman. My father also had to overcome his demons of the past. You see, men, drinking had my father, but Jesus changed him. My dad gave his life to Christ and everything changed.

Today, my father is a mountain of a man. He loves Jesus, and he loves to tell his family that. Dad had a choice to live small or live big. He crept out of the mire, gave his life to Christ, and started living big. Pain transforms to something big and greater. 

What is your choice today? Do you choose to live small or to live big?

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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