Change of Heart

John 13:5 (NASB) Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

It can be very difficult to love someone that you do not particularly like.  On the way to work, they were discussing this very thing on the radio.  The DJs and callers were making some profound points and today’s writing is a compilation of some of those thoughts.

In John 13 is being described Jesus’ display of love, service and humility for His disciples.  I’d never given this much thought, but Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer was among those being served by the Lord.  The reason that’s important is, Jesus knows the treachery that resides in Judas’ heart.  He knows what Judas will do shortly, yet He serves Him, loves Him all the same.

That is a hard thing to do, isn’t it?  We want to focus on the things we don’t like about someone, or things they have done to hurt us, instead of focusing on loving each other despite those things.  

One of the things mentioned by a caller was the importance to pray, not that God would change the one we have issue with, but rather, pray that God would change our heart and how we perceive and receive that person.  Bottom line is, we all have failings, short comings and sin in our life.  We all have reasons for another to have issue with us.  We all have reasons for Jesus to have issue with us, but He doesn’t.  He focuses on loving us.  And, when freely received and recognized, that love is what will change us.  That love is what will lead us to exemplify it in our own lives to those who don’t “deserve it”.  That love will lead to a change in those who receive and recognize it from us, in an endless wave upon wave of God’s glory washing through humanity. 

Oh… if only we could all learn and live that lesson!  Have a blessed weekend.

John 13:12-14, 34, 35   So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet… 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Cold Christians

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year.  The leaves change color, harvest time is winding down, the air is starting to chill, and you still get a few warm days to appreciate.  The inevitable thing, though, is that Winter is just around the corner, knocking at the door.  The first snow always reminds us of that.  Most local people I talk to don’t have much good to say about Winter.  Its cold, you have to move snow, plans may change, etc.  But there are also good things if you look hard enough.  No bugs, now mowing, Christmas, a new perspective on the world covered in white, a warm home to appreciate.  With every change, there are good and bad things that people can see, in every season of life.  What do you appreciate and what do you complain about in your current state of being? 

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.  Proverbs 4:23

Are there any people in this world that you don’t really care about?  Maybe there is a negative neighbor to the North that has lots of opinions different than yours.  Or maybe there are some countries in this world, in which you know no one and wouldn’t know or care if they ever existed.  Usually, unless you know someone in a given town, state, or country, you don’t give a second thought to things that happen there.  I’ve done some short-term missions trips to Bolivia years ago, and though I only know 10-20 people who live there now, when I hear about it in the news (which is seldom), my ears perk up, because it could be affecting people I care about.  We see videos of disasters from various places around the world, and feel sorry that anyone had to go through some of those things, even though we don’t know them.  Those people facing death and devastation could be Christians, though many are not.  Do we care at all?  Are our hearts cold toward most of the world? 

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  James 5:16

It doesn’t even have to be someone ½ way around the world, it could be someone right next door to you, or even in your own house.  Our hearts can turn cold toward anyone, given the right circumstances.  Is it good to have coldness or even hatred toward someone and then try to love others you do care about?  Is there a cure to warm a cold heart?  It starts with awareness and then forgiveness.  Take an inventory of your thoughts and the words leaving your mouth.  If they have any hatred, even a little, then you are not on a good path.  I see this even when I comment to myself about strangers while driving.  A critical word is usually a selfish word.  I also find that regularly praying for others helps melt my coldness toward them.  Even for people in countries where I know no one.  The book Operation World is a good tool to learn about some people you have never met and a guide to pray for them.  Or just look up some info on a place or people group online and see what a little prayer does, not just for them, but for you.  Praying for your enemies and those you don’t know often helps you appreciate those closest to you even more. 

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10

As things turn cold, remember to keep your heart warm for others and to keep them in your thoughts, prayers, and actions as we let joy emerge from the depths of the cold Winter months ahead.  As our hope eventually turns toward new life in Spring, may your hope in Christ bring you new life each day as well. 

Yours in Christ,

Know God

Before Jesus, there was a mediator to meet with God.  You could not go to God on your own even to make a sacrifice, but had to go to a priest to stood the gap.  If you were not Jewish or a woman you could only go so far into the temple.  If you were clean, you could go a little further.  If you were a priest but not the high priest, you could not go into the Holy of Holies.  The Holy of Holies was where God’s presence was, and the high priest could go in once a year. 

I am not Jewish and certainly not a high priest. Had I been alive in this time, the presence of God would only be something that I heard about but not experienced. 

Many of us know about what we were saved from.  Because of Jesus, we are forgiven for our sin, saved from it’s power, and saved from an eternity in hell.  That is amazing and if that was all there was, God is worthy of praise, worship, and my life.  We were not just saved from but saved to. 

Philippians 3:Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.

Paul grew up in religion knowing about God, but then he experienced Christ.  That experience changed everything.  I meet christians who know a form of religion but do not know Christ.  They just know about him.  They go to church, they read their bible, but they know God as much as they know the president… from a distance and what others have said.

My life changed when I left religion and began to know God for myself.  Jesus made a way for me to not need the priest to get close to God. His sacrifice made me clean enough to experience the Holy of Holies in my living room in the morning, in my truck on the way to work, and when I get stressed out in a meeting. I know God and I know there is more about Him to know.  Bridging that gap will be my greatest adventure.  By His presence I find hope, joy, and real love!

So do you know God or just about Him?  Do you know religion or Christ? If you do not know Him… I have GREAT NEWS!  You do not have to clean yourself up, but can right now go to Him in prayer and ask Him to speak to you.  He wants you to know Him more than you will ever want to know Him! Right now go spend time with God because Jesus paid the way for you to know Him!

Helping people live a better story

Brandon Sereg

Forgiven Pigs

Happy election day! I live 3,000 miles, and yet I am ready for the ads, the Facebook posts, and the extreme negatively to be over. The toughest thing for me with this election (and to be fair, other elections) is how divisive things are. Even amongst us Christians, we seem so caught up in all sorts of political opinions. This is so much the case that I know families that have been painfully divided, people who have left churches, and friendships that have been obliterated, all because of political viewpoints. What always drives me the craziest about all this division over politics is that, at the beginning and end of the day, there is much more that unites us than divides us. And do you know what one of the biggest things that unites us is? We are ALL sinners and we ALL need God’s forgiveness.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:5-10.

Let me put this is some very Iowan terms. Let’s think about pigs for a minute (ok, many of you think about pigs EVERY minute, but track with me anyway). As dirty, smelly, and generally obnoxious pigs can be that’s not how they came into the world. Pigs are actually born nice and clean. They become dirty because they live in relatively dirty conditions (at least to us humans), which they soon adapt to and becomes normal to them. To be honest, we are all a lot like pigs! We didn’t come into this world full of sin, but we soon started sinning. All of a sudden we got so used to our sinful world that it really wasn’t a very big deal to sin anymore. All the other pigs, err people, were living in sin, so we might as well too. Guys, we are all sinners, and we all need to be forgiven. My friend Dr. Artie Hall likes to say that Christians are forgiven pigs. We’ve all fallen into sin, and we all need Jesus to wash us clean. This election day, when we are so divided, let’s remember what unites us. We are all sinners, but God loves us all so much as to die for our sins. Despite our differences, let’s all rejoice is the love and mercy of our awesome Christ.

The Nazirite Vow

Judges 13:5 New International Version (NIV)

You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”

Samson was designated at birth to be a Nazirite. the word Nazirite comes from the Hebrew word that means ‘a deliverer’ for Israel.

It was up to Samson’s parents to raise the boy that honored the vow which came from the Angel of the Lord. Even Samson’s mom had strict guidelines to abstain from any fruit juice or alcohol beverage that came from a vine.

The New Testament Scripture gives us a parallel to the Old Testament Nazirite Vow. It is found in Romans 12:1-2. Paul states, “Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy, and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is his good, pleasing will.”

I am challenged in the depth of my soul to live in such a matter to live the New Testament Nazirite Vow. It will require your focus to be in Christ and not in the world. We have a choice to make, to be Vital Men consecrated to God, or live a life of our own chasing the world. Which will you choose?

Strength and Courage


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