Diligence!!!

Proverb 12:27 (NASB) A lazy man does not roast his prey, But the precious possession of a man is diligence.

I wrote a few weeks back about selling my personal bow, and shooting a game of darts without a sight.  My eldest daughter wanted to shoot the 300 spot tournament at the Iowa Deer Classic this past weekend.  So, who am I to not oblige?! 

 

Well, the past few weeks slipped away rather quickly.  As of this past Friday, I still had not selected a new bow, didn’t have one set up and, consequently hadn’t been shooting during that time, either.  

After finishing up with a customer Friday night, I selected my newest piece of equipment and proceeded setting it up and tuning it.  By 2 am I had it shooting pretty well, but not sighted in.  Saturday came and went at the Harley shop, followed by some late night customers in the archery shop.  Upon their departure, I had some tweaking to do on my daughter’s bow so that she would be prepared for toeing the line on Sunday.  Sunday morning came and I had to do some last minute sighting in, but was “ready”.

At the shoot, I didn’t do poorly, but I was far from shooting at the level I would like and know I’m capable.  I ended the round with a not so terrible score considering I didn’t send 3 arrows. 

This experience taught me a very humbling lesson, though.  I was far from being able to perform at the level I’m accustomed to.  I was shooting unfamiliar equipment, in competition, under pressure, out of shape and it showed.  The combination of variables along with a mere three week absence showed me the absolute need for diligence.  It was only 3 weeks, and I’ve shot consistently week after week for years, how could a mere 3 weeks erode my form, strength and endurance so much? 

Well, it did.  It always does.  It is especially true of our performance as followers of Jesus Christ.  I know I have written on this topic a number of times, in a number of ways.  I keep going back to it, because God keeps reminding me of it.  Why?… because it is of utmost performance and we all fall victim to it.  If you are to be good, really good, great even, at anything, you must first care about it, then diligently pursue it.  You must have a process, a plan and diligently execute on that plan.  Process, diligent repetition, develops muscle memory and decreases the possibility of break down.  In our walk with, relationship with our Lord and Savior, we must perform diligently.  We must have a process in place that creates in us a muscle memory for connecting with and knowing Jesus Christ.  We must diligently pursue consistent time in prayer and conversation with Jesus.  We must diligently seek all that He offers through His word.  We must diligently seek to hone our skills of observation and listening for and to Him.    

When things are breaking down around and in you, do you first and foremost look at how you are performing in your relationship with Jesus?  Do you look inward?  Can you honestly say you are diligently and consistently pushing and pursuing your relationship with the Lord?  More often than not, I have to answer no.  In that answer I also know that it is the primary reason for most of the breakdowns.

In Proverbs 12:27 it says a lazy man will not be successful.  Success requires diligence.  As this proverb alludes to, the times I experience the greatest successes in the field are when I have been the most diligent in my preparation and execution. 

You could substitute distracted, busy, overwhelmed, mismanaged, misguided, and any number of words for lazy in this proverb and the result would be the same.  Anything that competes with our diligence in pursuit of Jesus Christ will result in sub par performance.    So, this weekend, think about how much you care to know Jesus.  Then, ask yourself, does my level of diligence reflect that?  Have a blessed weekend.

2 Peter 1:5-7 (NASB) Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Fear Factors

I was working with a second grader on bible memory verses yesterday and the question came up about any concerns that he could take to God in prayer and he mentioned hearing noises at night.  While this may seem tame in comparison to other kids who are uncertain of their next meal or who live in fear of those in charge over them, but any fear is legitimate.  We can and should take any of our desires and concerns to the Lord in prayer because more often than not, He deals with the heart of the issue.  When was the last time you shared your deepest joys or concerns with another person or with the Lord in prayer? 

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  Psalm 56:3

Maybe it has been a while since you have been scared of things that go bump in the night, but what things cause to you worry or make you say ‘I hope that never happens to me.’  The list of things that people are afraid of is as long as your imagination.  There used to be a show on TV called Fear Factor where they would put people in head to head challenges where there was an impending danger like crashing, falling from high places, drowning, or being surrounded by snakes or bugs.  We can usually control most of these physical worries by avoiding situations where we would feel threatened or choosing not to watch scary movies, but other fears are not as easy to get away from.  What are your greatest fears?

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

The things that worry most of us are usually the things that are beyond our ability to control.  These are usually dominated by fears of not having enough money, fear of failure or losing a job, of relationships and marriages falling apart, our health deteriorating or getting hurt, and fears of our kids running into trouble or turning out ‘bad’ just to name a few.  We may feel much of our health is within our control (don’t drink, smoke, or engage in risky behaviors, etc), though much is not and is determined by genetics and other environmental factors.  We even hear of those that fear they are trapped in the wrong body, or don’t respect life.  Just read the news any day and we see stories of seemingly normal people who end up in tragic situations.  It’s a wonder that any of us make it through any given day, but by God’s grace. 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  1 John 4:18

While we may not be able to abate all the fear in the world, God can.  Though that usually starts with us.  When there are things outside our control that worry us, the best cure is to give those concerns to God.  When we fully surrender all these things to Him, in my experience, there is often an immediate peace that fills in where that worry formerly resided.  It also deepens our faith when we start to trust God, not just with things outside of our command, but with everything in every area of our lives.  Whenever those fears start to creep in again in new or familiar ways, we just keep giving it over to Him until it becomes our second nature.  May you experience joy where there was once fear as you continue to trust Him more and more each day!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

Yours in Christ,
Clark

Chase the Lion Part 2

When I was in 7th grade I went out for wrestling.  I was terrible!  I remember my first match, I was going as hard as I could and was winning.  I was looking at my coach for help and I remember him just laughing at me.  That season, a kid named Cody from my church went out for the team.  He was worse than me.  He went to my church and our moms were friends.  So my mom would have him over to hang out with me.  In the hallways at school he would put his arm around me and announce to the whole hallway full of middle schoolers that I was his best friend.  One day at the end of practice, the other wrestlers started making fun of him.  They were so cruel.  Cody looks at me looking for some defence.  I took the cowards way and join in the making fun.  I can still see the look on his face as his “best friend” humiliated him.

2 Samuel 23:20 Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it. (emphasis added)

In a pit- Defining moments often happen in enemy territory

Benaiah has to go into the pit to face the lion.  The pit is the lions home, for Benaiah this is enemy territory. I was on a wrestling mat with my character on the line.  For you it is at school, at work, at the party, or alone at a computer.  These defining moments rarely happen at church.  The lion you face is not a 500 pound predator. It is not even a person though often it all feel that way.

Ephesians 6:12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Your lion might look like addiction, or lust, or lying, or depression, or fear, or many other things.  The hard thing about facing those lions is your do not know what to hit at. If you are facing a lion you better go with a gun in 2018 or a spear in 2000 BC. When you look at a physical enemy you can know how to kill it.  But when it is unseen, it can feel like punching at the air. It is easy to feel stuck or defeated.  

So how do you go into enemy territory when you can’t see your enemy?  You build yourself up in the Word of God. You spend time in prayer asking God to give you victory. You show love.  You forgive. You confess your sin to God and to other people. You bring the things hidden in the darkness and bring them to the light.  The hope that we share because of Christ, is that when we do those things the enemy flees and victory purchased by the resurrected Christ avails. 

So today…  FIGHT! Find the Freedom you were freely given.  You are NOT too far gone, you have NOT sinned to greatly, your hopelessness is NOT too deep. You are deeply loved, highly favored by the Creator.  Go to Him and find freedom.

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Where are you Leading Others?

There are plenty of things that keep people away from God: our worldly culture, business, allure of other religions, temptation, individuals passionately opposed to the church, Satan, and more. Yet, in my experience, near the top of the list of factors keeping people away from church is us. Yes, us Christians are often very good at shooting ourselves and the church in the foot. We do it when we are legalistic, maintain a closed “holy huddle” attitude, live a life of hypocrisy, judge rather then love, and so on. Not only are we often a barrier between non-believers and Christ’s church, we are also really good at leading others away from God. We reject them because of a sin, knock them because of their opinions, assert that only our preference is correct (often the case with worship style), and so on. It makes my heart hurt each time I hear someone share of how an experience with Christians and the church has taken them FURTHER away from God. 

As Christians we are all servants and representatives for God and His church, rather we like it or not. You may not be a pastor, staff member, elder, or deacon, but as a Christ follower you are seen by others as a representative of God. My question to you is: how are you doing in that role? Let me come out of the gate and say I have not always been the greatest at this in my life. I’ve let my zealousness lead me to unfairly judge and reject others, and I’ve viewed my opinion as far superior to that of others. I’ve had to do some major repenting and changing in my life to be the sort of servant Jesus has called us all to be. 

I’d encourage you to not only read the following scripture, but to use it to evaluate your own life. 

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call. Ephesians 4:1-4

Specifically, ask yourself the following:

  1. Am I living a life worthy of Christ, who gave himself as a sacrifice for my sin? 
  2. Do I approach all areas of my life with a spirit of humility? 
  3. Am I patient with those who hold beliefs and views different then me? 
  4. Do I seek unity or do I cause discord? I tell you friends, every time I get on social media I see fellow Christians being very divisive, especially on political issues. 

I encourage us all to really examine our life and, if we find ourselves struggling, to repent of our sins and to change our ways. God needs each and everyone of us to do his work, so lets clean up our act and serve in humility, patience, love, and unity. 

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