Investing in Our Children

Today my oldest celebrated her 12th birthday. I can still very vividly remember that moment 12 years ago when she came into our life, as well as her first giggles, her first steps, her first day of school, and so much more. If you are a new parent I’m here to tell you that the old adage “don’t blink or you’ll miss it” certainly seems true to me. As I think back on my 12 years as a parent I can think of many successful parenting moments, as well as innumerable parenting failures. Like many parents my wife and I have invested a lot of time, money, and energy into our kids, trying our best to help them to succeed in all aspects of life. In fact, the US Department of agriculture estimates that it takes $233,610 to raise a child (I’m assuming that does NOT include college tuition, which is quickly equally that number on its own), and studies have shown that families of Olympic athletes spend an average of $15,000 a year to prepare them for athletic success. In a rare positive change, parents today are spending twice as much time with their children than their parents did, and men have quadrupled the time they spend with children over the past few decades. Yet, despite all of that money and time we spend on our children are we truly doing everything we can to raise them rightly? 

I am very thankful for the money, time, and energy my parents invested in me. I can’t begin to count the number of practices they drove me to, the things they bought for me, and the grey hairs I caused them. But what was most important was the time and energy they put into raising me as a disciple of Christ. From an early age my parents taught me how to pray, read me Bible stories, involved me in church, helped me memorize scripture, modeled the life of a disciple, and provided me with numerous tools to grow in my faith. I remember getting into Christian music because my parents would buy me Christian CD’s, but I had to buy the secular ones on my own. That may sound like a minute and silly thing, but it ended up having a big impact on my life.

Spending energy on raising our children to be disciples is not just something we should do, its something we are commanded to do. As Paul writes in Ephesians 6:4: Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. This is not something we are to leave up to our church or to chance, but a duty that has been assigned to us as fathers. Just as it takes substantial work to raise a champion athlete, it takes a major effort to raise a disciple of Christ in our increasingly secular world. As dad’s lets start owning our responsibility. Let’s model faith to our children, pray with and for them, helping them get into the word, and provide them the opportunities and resources to grow into disciples and leaders. Let’s do whatever we can to raise a generation of champions for Christ.

 

Now Is The Time To Fight!

Joshua 5:13 New International Version (NIV)

The Fall of Jericho

13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

Joshua had an encounter with the Commander of the Lord’s Armies. I like what Joshua does in that moment. It says in Joshua 5:14 that he fell face down to the ground in reverence to the Commander.

Men, this is important. What made Joshua such a great fighter was that he was a great worshiper. He was obedient to God and served God with all he had. When he did that, he was a good fighter.

This past week we had a man by the name of Pastor Henry from Nicaragua visit our church. His country is which he lives is in anarchy with corrupt government officials, police, and military.

He has ben in the United States for 5 weeks and would soon return to his home. He stated that most of his countrymen were afraid and stayed in their homes. They are literally fearing for their lives. He told us that when he returns, that he was not going to hide. He was going to be a front line warrior. 

What a statement. He declared that this was his moment to stand in the fight and lead his people for what was right. He was ready to stand for Jesus, the church, and for the people of Nicaragua. In life or death, he was ready.

What is your fight? We still serve the Commander of the Lord’s Armies. Will you join with me today to fight our enemy through prayer and in praising of King Jesus? Jesus is the Commander of the Lord’s Armies!

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

Ready to participate in one of life’s great events? It will require of you obedience and a willingness to chase the Father of your soul. Go to Fellowship of the Sword and sign up for the Men’s Quest September 23-28. It is a LIFE CHANGER!!

Only In Faith

Hebrews 11:33-40 (NASB) who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated ( men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.  

I was reading through this passage in Hebrews and it struck me different than it had in previous times through it.  In times passed I had read it in awe of the power of those described faith.  It’s remarkable when you look at the list earlier in the chapter, this who’s who of faithfully obedient people, scripture’s hall of fame.  Despite what they gained or loss, had or didn’t, they heard God’s call, saw His planned promise and pursued.

What stood out to me this time through, however, was the lack of the temporal realization of the promise.  They never make it to the perfect city.  They never fully realize the paradise that God had promised.  Why? We know it’s not because He doesn’t love us enough.  We know that God always keeps His promise, despite the fact that we in no way deserve His promise.  So, why does He not fulfill this promise in this life?

The answer is so very simple, He’s prepared something better than we could ever possibly have here.  All that we do, see, hear, enjoy, endure is to shape and refine us for a life in His perfect world.  Everything He offers in this life pales by comparison.  Paul says it beautifully in Philippians 3:8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.

We get so hung up on the here and now, but the folks listed off in chapter 11 of Hebrews were focused on God, His promise and devoted themselves to that pursuit , no matter the cost, no matter the outcome.  They sought God no matter what it meant they would “lose” or suffer.  They went and… never got there in this life.  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace 

Happy Dependence Day!

I hope you enjoyed Happy Birthday USA, Yesterday.  How did you celebrate your independence day?  For most, it has turned into a day off work to celebrate and be a little self-indulgent with friends and family, food and fireworks.  Not all bad, right?  I mean if I earned my paycheck, I’m entitled to spend it however I want, etc, etc.  Most of us think we are fairly independent, self-sufficient, and masters of our own domains, yet we do not often realize how much we owe to those that have gone before us to make this country and our lives what they are today, as well as how dependent we truly are on others for our day to day existence.  How much to you depend and rely on others, or on God each day to get your needs met?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6

Maybe you even heard some reference to the Declaration of Independence, which was the statement which initiated the movement away from Great Britain and into our own sense of self-identity.  Yet, even after the revolutionary war and onward in the world, the United States was still quite dependent on other countries to accomplish these things.  Trade within the colonies, and with other countries was robust and essential for growth as a nation.  Even today, with all the drama over trade and tariffs, we are all still fairly dependent on international trade to sustain our appetites, as much as we would like to be self-sufficient.  How much of what is in your home was made or sourced from outside the region, state, or even country you live in? 

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Romans 13:1

In the same way, we are really dependent on our government for meeting many of our needs.  As much as we complain about taxes and keeping the government ‘out of our business’, we often take for granted the infrastructure, protection, laws, and means for living our lives each day.  It is not a perfect system, but without highways, law enforcement, medicine, and recourse for injustice, our lives would be much different.  It is also said that many in this country are one paycheck away from disaster, or being homeless, if they lose a job.  Even if you have enough savings or other supports to keep you off the streets, if the supply of gas, electricity, or food at the grocery store were cut off today, mass panic would ensue, as most of us are extremely dependent on these things for our day to day comfort and survival.  Also, when we become sick or injured, we realize we depend on technology and the expertise of others for our continued survival.  Not as independent as we believe ourselves to be. 

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.  What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?  Matthew 16:25-26

So, how much do we depend on God each day?  With an attitude and culture of ‘doing it my way’ and wanting to have it all without much effort on my part, or anyone else’s help, is there any wonder many don’t feel the need for God in their lives?  Many, whether Christian or not, would like to make the life they want without any consideration or consultation from God in the equation.  How do we avoid this mindset, or how do we grasp the concept of how much we truly need God for our existence?  Little do we realize, how much we depend on God for all that sustains us…food, water, air, shelter, etc.  We can start just by regularly giving thanks for these things.  The more I do this, the more I understand His provision.  We can also move away from excess and things that take away from what is most important in life, e.g. less entertainment and more engagement.  As you come to understand how dependent you are on others for your needs, may you grow more in your trust and faith in God as the ultimate Provider and Sustainer of our lives!

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

I lie down and sleep;  I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.  Psalm 3:5

Yours in Christ,
Clark

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