Burden of Proof

facebook_1463723276317 There are a great many out there who require proof. They want the tangible empirical evidence to the validity of the Bible. I understand you, believe me, I understand you. I am very much a proof’s in the pudding kind of man. I’ll believe what you are telling me, just prove it to me. Black, white, right, wrong pretty well sums up how I see things. So, praise God that He side stepped that need in me for this purpose. He saw fit to strongly instill in me the spiritual gift of faith. Due to that, I have no difficulty in accepting scripture as irrevocable truth. It is probably the only thing I can. For some time now, I have been studying the evidence that supports the veracity of God’s word. It is astounding the volume of empirical, archaeological, eye witness, manuscript (biblical and secular) evidence known to us. As compelling, the lack of any such evidence to refute it is staggering. Through my research, thanks to the blinder freeing faith, God has been loading my gun. Someone reading this has questions, wants proof, needs convincing. Guess what, the disciples of Christ’s time needed proof too. When He was captured, they fled. When He was murdered, they hid. When the tomb was discovered empty, they pondered, wondered, doubted. It was not until God proved it in the flesh, that their faith was restored. To me, their behavior is the greatest testimony, the most enticing evidence that Jesus Christ was and is who He claimed to be. Jesus’ followers were lost, scared, grief stricken. They were hardly the picture of champions of a world changing movement. They abandoned Him, they hid and contemplated their return home. It was over for them. Then, suddenly they are emboldened, rejuvenated and proclaiming the Gospel of the resurrected Christ. Men and women in the state they were in do not simply flip a switch and spin 180 degrees. At least not to maintain a fiction. No one could muster the courage, joy, patience, vigilance and willingness to be martyred as they did. No one. Show me any other example in human history of such a transformation. There’s only one logical conclusion to draw from this. It is subjective evidence bearing witness to the objective fact that Jesus Christ arose on the third day. For only a risen Christ could have such transforming power on a person’s life. John 20:29 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy, Scott Pace

Cute

 

This is one of the most superficial words I know.  It is used a bit more than I am comfortable hearing as well.  It is used 10x more by women than men, but for most of us, it is a cute fact of life.  Remember, men and women are not better than one another, just different.  If you use Facebook, Instagram or any other social media with photos, the word ‘cute’ is often used to describe anything from a baby to a living room, shoes, family photo, house, car, potato peeler, etc, you get the idea.  It is typically used in a complimentary context, which is nice, but it also generally refers to the outward appearance or first impression only.  What do you think is cute?  Where do we go from there?

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

When my wife asks my opinion of any furniture, wall hanging, or other decorative thing for the house, I often just say it is nice or cute, which is not always what she is looking for.  I have some preferences, but generally defer to her for most of those decisions.  I have said before, I can (and have) lived with any color wall or style of furniture, as function tends to trump form on my priority list.  Most men would probably say the same for most things in that we want things that work well instead of/in addition to things that look nice.  Can the same be said of the people in our lives?  Do we try to surround ourselves with an outward appearance that will try to impress others/God, or people with genuine substance and depth of character.  Maybe we try for both, but which is our priority?  We may like to have a cute house and a cute family that others can see, but hopefully, when people get to know us, we are much deeper than can be seen from first impressions. 

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  Isaiah 53:2

Hopefully, you are not taken in by celebrity news/gossip, as it is full of people trying to get their name in the headlines, and others wishing their mistakes were not broadcast for public ogling.  There are few celebrities who are genuinely humble and try to downplay their role as popular.  The best example I can think of is Jesus.  Word got around that a new guy was doing some pretty amazing things…healing the sick, speaking with authority, forgiving sins.  Yet he was not one to seek a crowd and become a celebrity, but in fact did the opposite.  He told some he healed not to tell anyone what had happened, which goes against human nature.  He enabled the blind to see the appearance of things in the world around them for the first time, though they probably knew true beauty and ugliness better than those who could see.  Christ knew the true motives of all those around him and often called them out.  What would he have said about me?

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.  Philippians 1:9-10

As we mature in our faith, may we continually be able to discern the true motives in what we see before us.  May we be able to understand the spiritual forces in everything that we encounter throughout the day.  Don’t disparage another’s comment about how cute something is, but rather help them dig deeper into why it matters.  Help your friends and family develop depth of character and not just a superficial appearance of one.  Seek to be a Christian in name and substance and you will honor the one who’s name we claim!

Strength and Courage in Christ,
Clark

Disappointing God

contemplating-1379133-1279x717I recently disappointed someone. We could sit here and argue over whether or not I truly messed up, but the reality is that regardless of my intent the result was them feeling let down by me, and I hate letting people down. I’m actually not sure what feeling is worse: disappointing someone or being the one that is disappointed. Both feelings are, in my opinion, incredibly unpleasant and unwanted. Yet, as we go through life we end up being on both sides of disappointment a fair amount of times.

 

As I’ve though about disappointment I’ve thought about how often I must disappoint God. Every time I bend the truth, ignore someone in need, take the easy way out, hoard my time, money, and resources, or choose the selfish path I disappoint God. See, God did not create any of us to be sinners, but rather to be masterpieces. As Paul writes in Ephesians 2:10:

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Here are two things I think we can learn about disappointing God from that verse.

  1. Instead of disappointing God by sinning, we do the good things he created us to do. God didn’t just make us to live an ordinary live, but to live a life that makes a profound impact. He formed each of us to make a positive impact on the world, and it is our responsibility to make that impact. Take a moment to examine your life today. In what ways are you doing the good things God has made you to do? In what ways are you falling short? Choose to cut out the bad, and to add in as much good as possible.

 

  1. When we disappoint God, he never holds a grudge: This is how God is so radically different from us humans. He loves and cares for us unconditionally. No matter how many times we fail to live up to his standards he continues to forgive and love us. When we disappoint God there are two steps we always need to take: we ask forgiveness and sincerely work at changing our ways. While we often see the act of admitting our wrongs as repentance, the truth is that it is these two steps together that actually equal repentance. True repentance is confessing our sins and choosing to change our sinful behaviors. When we are truly repentant God does not hold a grudge or constantly rub our wrongs in our face, but instead creates us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

 

This week let us all strive to be the masterpieces God created us to be, and when we do inevitably disappoint God let us be quick to truly repent of our actions by confessing and changing our ways.

The Disciple of Small Things

John 1:40-42New International Version (NIV)

40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).42 And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

The disciple, Andrew, lived in the shadow of brother Peter. It seemed as though he was content in that position. No sibling rivalry between Andrew and Peter was ever talked about in Scripture, so there was an apparent contentment in position of how he lived life with Jesus for 3 1/2 years.

His very name means, manly. No doubt he was because he was a man of the trades. He worked with his hands being a fisherman. He was bold and decisive. Nothing about him was weak. As a matter of fact, Andrew was driven by the truth.

Andrew was originally one of John the Baptists disciples. He was hanging out with a man who was clothed in camel hair with a leather belt around his waist and who ate locusts and wild honey. He was a man of the back woods kind of guy.

The most remarkable characteristic about Andrew was he saw value in individual people. He valued singled souls. He would bring not crowds, but individuals to Jesus. He was the one who brought the boy who had loaves of bread and fish to Christ.

Andrew’s main legacy was that in order to live a life of effective ministry, it was done with relationship one person at a time. We can learn a lot from the discipleship of Andrew.

How many individual lives are you effecting? Are you making an impact on your spouse, children, co-workers, and friends? Andrew made an impact with each relationship.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Detours

Acts 15:39-40New International Version (NIV)

39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord.

Life can be full of detours. Paul and Barnabas, both good men, parted company all because of a young man name John Mark. Obviously, Paul did not want a man who might desert them again as they headed back into the mission field.

Paul was focused and had a cause. He was not going to allow any detours to get in the way. So the men parted company.

All of us can account for relationships with detours. We have them in business, ministry, health, and marriage. They can truly be painful and even cause heartbreak in going through them.

Later in Scripture we find Paul softening his heart toward John Mark. I can only reason that maybe his action was too harsh towards a young man of faith.

What are the detours you are encountering in your faith? Are they breaking you? Are you allowing them to move you? Detours can be a challenge for all of us.

Last Call for Vital Men Biker Ride to Northwest Iowa, Spirit Lake, Loess Hills, and even going south to Missouri. We will leave on June 3 and ride on the 4th and 5th. We meet downtown Pella at 7:00 AM. Kickstands are up by 7:30 AM. There is a special T-shirt promotion for this event only. Do not miss the ADVENTURE Men!!!

 

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