Wasted Game, Wasted Gains

Proverbs 12:27 (NKJV)  The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, But diligence is man’s precious possession.

As my preparation for departure to the western wilds wraps up, I’m stricken by this verse.  I’m headed to the Rocky Mountains, once again, for peace, recharge, a deeper understanding of the Lord, appreciation of the splendid gifts of this playground He entrusts to us and… elk.  If the good Lord sees fit, I should like to fill a tag and, consequently, the freezer.

To fill an elk tag is a great joy, but a tremendous blessing, a gift.  After the enjoyment of time spent in God’s grandeur, my family will be fed and nourished for the better part of the year.  If I went to the mountains, or the fields here at home, shot my game, walked away without attempted recovery or simply left it lie, that would be wasteful, irresponsible, illegal and just down right unappreciative.  After all, I already stated how valuable that game is and what blessings and joy it brings.20160819_004723  

This is true of all the things He provides for us, the fruits of our labors, our talents and abilities, our knowledge, everything.  To not make use of these gifts, earned or bestowed, is wasteful, irresponsible and just down right unappreciative.

The value of the gift is determined not by the recipient, but in the heart and intent of the giver.  Do you think that anything God blesses us with is given in any less than the purest, most loving, fullest capacity of His endless love? The intent of His heart, therefore determines its worth.  Consequently, no matter how great or small we measure it, it’s value can be no less than infinite.

Our days are forever being filled with examples of these gifts, His heart, His love.  What are we doing with them?  Are we roasting what we were blessed enough to take?  Are we applying ourselves fully and utilizing our talents and resources to their fullest?  Are we being diligent?  

As I prepare to head west, Proverbs 12:27 has given me something to examine and work on putting into practice, diligently.  This applies not only to my time at 10000 ft, but to every day and every facet of my life… and yours.  Food for thought.  Have a blessed and safe weekend. 

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Going for Gold

Olympic Gold

Here we are again!  The Summer Olympics are upon us and we get to watch competitions, hear stories, and cheer for our favorite table tennis players that we had never heard of before last week.  There is more competition crammed into 2 weeks than you can get through much of the year.  With such variety from archery to wrestling and everything in between including badminton, canoeing, cycling, sailing, judo, and trampoline, there is sure to be something to interest even the most avid couch potato.  For each of the over 200 gold medal winners there are many more who will go home without a medal, but only the experience of competing in the Olympics.  So, who are the real winners here? 

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  I Corinthians 9:25

There have been studies done on the happiness of the medal winners in several Olympic games and they found that the third place Bronze medal winners tended to be more elated than the second place Silver medalists, who were so close, but so far from finishing first.  Is that the goal of each athlete…go for the gold or go home?  If you listen to the hype and build up for some events like gymnastics or certain track and field events, they often tell you who is favored going into an event.  These expectations put extra pressure on some athletes or teams to perform, or else they fail to live up to the unrealistic demands placed on them by all the fans in their home countries.  Can you imagine the disappointment of getting third best in the world when there were so many hopes that you only get the gold?  What can this do to a person? What about those who do get the gold…is this the pinnacle of life?

 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:14

The Olympics are a snapshot of the human condition, not just in training for years to succeed in a specific athletic event, but in how people deal with victory and defeat, whether real or perceived.  For the other 99.999% of us who will never compete against the world’s best in any event, how do we determine success or failure in our lives?  If we have a better house, car, yard, kids, etc. than our neighbors?  Who are we competing against and who determines the winner?  As Christians, what expectations do we place on ourselves or our families and what criteria do we use to say whether or not we were successful?  I have heard many say that all they want is for their children to have a better life than they did, or that their children grow up to know Jesus.  If our score is 2/3 children does that mean success or failure as parents? 

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.  2 Timothy 4:7-8


I feel that God is with us more in our disappointments than in our victories.  Often, when we feel we are successful, we take most of the credit for getting ourselves to that point.  When we realize our failures and deal with them, we are forced to admit that we are imperfect and the realization of our need for an advocate who can help us becomes reality.  No matter how much we train and how many plans we make, we cannot do it perfectly and live up to the laws set by God or by man.  No matter how many perceived failures we have had, there is still the one hope that remains of victory in Jesus.  When we put our trust in Him, we can be sure that he will guide us to something greater than gold, no matter the victories or defeats we have experienced in life. 

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him.  Philippians 3:7-9

Strength and Courage in Christ,
Clark

How do you love a God you cannot see?

Have you ever noticed how it is hard to love people you do not see often?  Parents, grandparents, friends who have moved away… Loving them when we do not see them takes a lot of effort.  When I get in my truck I do not think about who to call that I have not seen in a while. I think about listening to a book or a podcast, or think about my day, but rarely about grandma.  Now I love her very much, and would drive for hours to go and see her.  Loving Grandma is hard because I rarely see her. 

I think some of us feel this way about God.  We LOVE Jesus, but struggle to know how to love Jesus when we do not see him.  It is not a lack of desire, but what is out of sight is often out of mind.  So how do we love a God we cannot see?

Matthew 22:36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

photo-1464195244916-405fa0a82545Now first off, if you are a religious leader in this time, you have spent 30 years learning the law and the prophets and Jesus has the audacity to say it can all be learned in two simple sentences.  You would either feel cheated in the years of learning that could have been a conversation, or you feel like it could never be that easy.  Jesus says the most important commandment is not to not sin, but to show the crazy love of Jesus to the Lord.  Then He tells us the way to love the God we cannot see is to love our neighbor that we can see.

So the next question is, who is my neighbor.  Jesus teaches this in the story of the good Samaritan.  In our culture, this would be like the story of the good “Nazi.” Jesus blows up their thoughts of loving their own people who think, dress, and believe like them and says the good neighbor is the one who crazy loves the GLBT, ISIS, democrats or republicans, atheists, muslims, or anyone else to does not think, dress or believe the way you do.  Jesus said the way to love them is not to argue with them and tell them they are wrong, but to serve them and tell them about Jesus (message of hope not judgement).  Serve people who are different than you by serving them and telling them how Jesus changed your life is loving a God you cannot see.

So who do you need to crazy love this week?  Who thinks you hate them, that you can serve with no strings attach?  Who’s tank can you fill?  Who’s lunch can you buy? Who can you give a ride to? Who’s lawn can you mow?  Who can you sit with at lunch? Go LOVE the God you cannot see by LOVING the neighbor you can see.

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Saying Yes

imageLet me ask a big question: how are you responding to the work God is putting in front of you? Each day situations are placed before us in which we have to chose whether or not we are going to serve God in a certain way. It may be very direct, such as someone asking you to serve as a Sunday School teacher, or it may be more indirect (like seeing a neighbor who seems particularly sad). I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always good at discerning when I need to say yes to serving God. My thought process is typically: do I want to, do I have the time, and will I be successful. Yep, that’s a deeply theological process! Opportunities to serve God are constantly being put in our path, but our discernment process often leads much to be desired.

Juxtapose our often self-centered discernment process with that of the prophet Elisha. Elisha lived at a time when being a prophet was a dangerous job. His predecessor, Elijah, had endured so much difficulty that he begged God to take his life. So yeah, being a prophet was not exactly a dream job! Yet, look at how Elisha handles God calling him to be a prophet.
Elisha, the son of Shaphat, was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him. 1 Kings 19:19-21

The actions Elisha takes should serve as a great blueprint for us.

Decide God NEEDS me to serve. When an opportunity to serve comes your way consider that God may purposefully have given you that opportunity. You may discern that you are not called to that particularly opportunity, but you do need to give it prayerful consideration.
Clear your schedule: if God calls you to something you make the time for it! Elisha had to tell his parents he is leaving the family farming business to follow God’s calling, and we too may need to clear our schedules to serve. 
Burn the obstacles: there will always be apparent obstacles to serving God: lack of time, lack of skill, fear, difficulty, and more. Elisha’s obstacle was his farming business, and he takes the amazing step to simply burn it. What obstacles to serving do you need to “burn.”
Simply follow: We tend to want all the details before we decide to serve. Elisha, however, simply jumped in and followed God. He trusted that since God called him that things would work out. He knew that things would still be difficult, but trusted God to bless his labor.

What Is Submission?

Proverbs 1:23New Living Translation (NLT)

23 Come and listen to my counsel.
I’ll share my heart with you
    and make you wise.

A lot has been written on submission, but for us today, teaching our sons about manhood is essential. Men teaching sons. I think that is why the gap is widening and confusion is happening with men teaching about manhood.

In ancient Sparta, young boys were trained from childhood what it meant to become a soldier. Stephen Pressfield describes their training in his book, The Warrior Ethos.

When they were boys, they were forced to bathe in frigid water, run barefoot till their soles grew as thick as leather, ride all day without food or water, and endure whippings and ritual humiliations. On a rare occasion when they got rest, their trainers would remind them, “While you lie here at ease, the sons of the Persians are training to defeat you in battle.”

Many of you reading these words are thinking that is pretty extreme. It was not in ancient days. Spartan boys were raised to be Sparta men. These men were ready for battle,  were ready to slay evil armies,  were ready to fight wild beasts, and were ready to rescue people in need.

Some of what I have written today comes our of Chuck Holton’s latest book, Making Men. I am challenged not only by his writing but by his thoughts on submission. Being a man of God required submission to Jesus Christ.

When a man knows who he is in Christ, he does not battle the compromise of lust, sexuality, or confusion to world tries to infuse in us each day as men. We are warriors in God’s army. He challenges us in Ephesians 6 to put on the armor every day.

We will get to learn about submission and more this September 14th from 6:30-8:00 at the Pella Christian High School. The speaker is Chuck Holton who was an army ranger, and he is a man of God. This will be a good night for men, sons, and warriors. This kick-off leads us into our series: Conquer – The Battle Plan for Purity. Are you ready?

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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