Energized

I seem to be running out of fuel lately, both in the literal and figurative sense.  This past week, I was gifted a tiller that ‘doesn’t work’ and the issue seems to be no fuel getting from the tank to the carburetor, as with a little gas, it fires up just fine.  I had a similar issue trying to start an old truck after cranking to no avail, then adding another gallon of gas, it started just fine.   Without the right amount of proper fuel, nothing really moves, even us.  Also, like a dog or cat who likes to bask in the sun, some days I feel like I am solar powered.  The sun shining in my face on a cold Winter day, or after several gray Spring days, seems to invigorate the soul and motivate me for what lies ahead.  What is your source of energy? 

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:17

One area I have not been lacking lately is food intake.  Maybe I am still storing up for a hibernation that will never come, but when opportunities present, I can still put away a fair amount of food.  Plus, this past week, I declared it was now warm enough for ice cream.  Granted, we have to eat something to function through each day, but probably in over 90% of cases, we all eat more than is necessary.  At times, we may be driven to eat or drink in a way that it becomes an idol.  Outside of Lent, fasting and taking a break from food is not something most Americans, even Christians do.  We justify most of our actions saying ‘more is better’ when in fact it does us more harm.  Finding a good balance between food intake, activity and sleep is a challenge we may all face. 

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”   Matthew 4:4

Are you energized by what you take in to you mind, by what you listen to, read, or watch?  Other than this blog, some things have the ability to inspire us and motivate us to action.  I recall when I was young and watched a good movie, I felt inspired for a couple hours afterward, then eventually returned to normal.  Remember when you were a new Christian and couldn’t get enough of God’s Word?  Would you like to have that hunger again?  Do you still regularly spend time in the Word, and how does that impact your mind and soul through the day?  The converse is true as well.  Some things we take in can move us to frustration, anger, greed, or lust, as easily as things that are beneficial.  The phrase ‘garbage in- garbage out’ is true for us as well as computers.  So be careful little eyes and ears what you see and hear, as we dictate what most of that will be in the battlefield of our minds. 

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning;  great is your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23

So, if you are running on empty, take a moment to consider what is your source of energy.  Are you putting the right things in your fuel tank to help you run your life well?  Remember, just a little contamination in your food or fuel tank can make it unusable.  Even if you are doing 80-95 percent of things right, and struggling with the rest, it can cause you to derail or crash.  This applies to all areas of our lives, physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, or in relationships.  Just as good fuel in one area of life can give a boost the others, struggles with one can impact the others as well.  Encourage one another in the things you are doing well, and be willing to try what works.  Just because something works well for others, it may not work for you, but chances are good that it will.  We have thousands of years of history to teach us a thing or two, so don’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel each time you face a new challenge. 

Yours in Christ,

Clark

Smite Thy Enemy!

Have you ever had someone go out of their way to make your life miserable?  Like they have an agenda to embarrass and shame you infront of people. Then we play out what we wish we could do to them or we have these fake conversations in out head with them.  We tear them apart in our heads.  Some of us actually do those things.  We get even with them!

Then you come across the words of Jesus:

Matthew 5:43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 

Most of the time we are like “He is Jesus. He can do that. I can not.”  Or we think ok I will pray for them… “God get them, smite them, destroy them, expose them.” I do not think that is the kind of pray Jesus was encouraging.  Love your enemies.  Love those that go out of their way to make you miserable.  Love those who intentionally hurt you. 

Then if you actually do, something deep in you happens.  The pain of what they did hurts less. The hatred toward them goes away.  Here we feel like they are getting away with it.  What if God telling us to love our enemies was actually about us too.  What if He knew holding on to the pain and resentment would steal life from us? What if we would just let Him have our hurt we walk away free?

Then what about them? What if when they see you responding in love instead of anger, they see who the Father really is?  

So loving your enemies heals you and shows the offender the nature of the God.  So who do you need to forgive?  Who would God have you pray for?  Who do you not want to pray blessing over?  Go do it!

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Be Ready for Every Good Work

As Christians we often see service in terms of what programs and ministries we are involved in. We serve when we volunteer in Sunday School, help on a work project, go on a mission trip, etc. Having served on church staffs for over a decade I am guilty of sometimes thinking that as long as people are plugged into service opportunities then they are adequately serving God. But, if we really think about it, God never envisioned service to be so compartmentalized. When he meticulously formed us and commanded us to bear fruit he did not only have in mind those few opportunities arising in our churches. He had the entirety of our lives in mind. Our jobs, our relationships, our family, our hobbies, our shopping, the true entirety of our lives. God made us to serve so many people in so many ways that no church or ministry could ever program enough opportunities for us to serve! 

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work. Titus 3:1                               

Look at that first verse: to be ready for every good work. Paul is not saying to be ready for the sign-up sheet to be passed or for your church to offer you an opportunity. He is saying that you need to be ready and willing to serve whenever and however the opportunity arises. This may happen on the golf course when a friend admits he is struggling with his faith. It happens when we notice our neighbor needs home repairs they are incapable of doing. It happens whenever the moods of everyone around us are low or stressed (any trip to Wal-Mart typically fits this). Anytime our abilities and gifts encounter the needs of others is a chance to do good works. We have chances everyday to serve God and make an impact on others. Are we ready for it? 

So, why is it important that we be ready for every good work? Why is it OUR responsibility to be ready to work (instead of pastors, missionaries, church leaders, etc.?). Paul answers this at the end of this letter.                                                                                                        And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful. Titus 3:14   

Paul reminds us here of a couple of things. First, there are urgent needs all around us that need to be met with the love of Christ. Second, each and every one of us is commanded to bear fruit in our lives. We bear fruit by meeting the needs we encounter with the love of God. Bearing fruit is not insignificant, because when fruit is born it means that lives are being changed and saved. See, serving God isn’t about filling in your time card, but being used to make a true impact on lives for God’s Kingdom.

Are You Salty?

Matthew 5:13 New International Version (NIV)

Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

We are currently doing a sermon series in our church called, “Who do you think you are?” The series pushes into identity of who we are. It is not about how others perceive us, but rather how our Lord sees us.

In Matthew 5, Jesus preaches one of his greatest sermons. It is called The Sermon of the Mount. Jesus speaks to the crowds who where gathering and to his twelve disciples. He talks about not who we are on the outside, but rather what is inside is what really counts.

He begins his teaching after the Beatitudes. He tells us we are salt. He says salt serves two purposes. The first is to enhance flavor. The second is to preserve.

When I think about my life as being salty, I ask, “Do I enhance someone to the Gospel?” My life should be one that creates enhancement. People should be drawn.

And secondly, “Is my life and my speech gracious to others?” “Do I create spice in such a way that others just want to hang out with me?” “Do they see Jesus in my words?”

I pray, today, that we all create a little more seasoning in life, and that we become ‘Salt Shakers’ for Jesus. Jesus called his men and the crowd to be salty. The same commissioning still occurs today.

Are you salty?

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

I encourage all men to look at a summer calendar and make plans. Set specific dates for family outings, date nights, and fun things. Catch a ballgame, get out in God’s creation, or go to the county and state fairs. Set the calendar and make the plans happen.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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