We’re Concluded

Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NASB) The end of a matter is better than its beginning; Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.

Resolution, completion, is what I believe Solomon was getting at in this verse.  The resolution of the “matter” is more aptly achieved to a positive conclusion through patience.  Pride slows the matter’s conclusion or prevents it entirely. How true is this?  As I ponder this verse, I find myself in total concert with his statement.  Thinking back on so many instances in my life where patience produced a far better end than what the matter began as.  Conversely, I can think of as many or more times where pride stymied a positive result or worse yet, made the matter worse than it began. 

Patience, what a virtue.  God’s word is rife with reference to this virtue.  I consider myself a fairly patient person, but admit I have a great deal of room for refinement.  What about you?  How does your patience measure up?  Can you think of specific instances where patience produced for you a measurably better conclusion to a matter than its beginning?  Can you think of specific instances where you thought, “ah I can do this”, and then charged pridefully forward and ended up creating more chaos than what you started with? 

This is a very concise verse and it doesn’t need my excessive wordiness muddying it up.  So, there you have it, just a short meditation on a teaching from Solomon.  Patience and pride, we’re concluded.  Have a blessed weekend!

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace 

R&R

What would you do if you received a letter in the mail informing you that a warrant had been issued for your arrest and you were to report to jail immediately?  You might think someone is playing a practical joke on you, or that someone finally found out and you are finally getting what you deserve.  Maybe we should be thankful that there is not always justice, instant karma, or fair play given in every situation we encounter.  If so, most of us would get a speeding ticket every day we drive, and the prisons would be full of all us thieves and scoundrels, because we are all guilty.  Instead, we encounter the self-righteous and sinners who just have not been caught yet, which even includes us in its numbers.  How often are we thankful for being treated unfairly? 

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.  Proverbs 28:13

Just like the Pharisees in Jesus’ time, we have a tendency to try to manage our sins.  Instead of seeing them for what they truly are, and confessing them, we try to downplay and minimize our faults, compare our misdeeds to those greater infractions of others, and just plain hide or even justify our sins and hope that no one ever finds them out.  It is a constant struggle to try and make us look good in the eyes of others, and ourselves, when we know full well that we are not who we pretend to be.  Maybe if we do some of the right things, go through the motions and show up at church and say the right words, no one will ever know what hides in our hearts.  Maybe we can even fool God, if we try hard enough?  Who are we really fooling? 

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  Psalm 51:1-2

In scripture, we hear that David was a man after God’s own heart, but what does that really mean?  Was it because he knew what God wanted in most every situation and followed Him perfectly or failed Him – David dreamed big, won big, and failed big?  Was it because he fought battles, sang songs and danced with abandon and all that was within him?…maybe a little.  When we read Psalm 51, we get a glimpse into David’s heart and realize he didn’t think as much of himself as others made him out to be.  He was a sinner, plain and simple, and the only One who could restore and renew him, was God.  He realized, as we often do, that he deserved nothing but judgement and condemnation from God, yet he finds mercy and forgiveness, when he returns time and again with a contrite heart.  Maybe that is it? 

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.  Acts 3:19

Regular Repentance is a key sign of a true Follower of Christ.  Confession is a practice we seldom seek, but often need.  We have a tendency to think that we should almost be perfect, but it is a target we are unable to hit.  Because men have a tendency to go it alone when it comes to getting things done, we tend not to have close friends to whom we can confess and bear our souls to, though it is definitely a healthy thing to do.  If you are married, ideally you would be willing to confess your sins with your spouse, though it is a difficult thing to do.  Maybe before reading the whole laundry list, start with some small things first to show that you are imperfect.  If you are not able to confess your sins to others, begin with sharing them with God, you know, since He already knows.  Confession starts to bring about more forgiveness and freedom in your life to areas you didn’t even know you were in bondage.  May you experience that freedom daily, in the forgiveness that Christ reveals and brings to us each time we confess and repent!

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  Colossians 3:12-13

Yours in Christ,
Clark

I LOVE Jesus and HATE church!

That was the story of my senior year.  I had an encounter with Jesus the summer before that changed my life. Before then I didn’t believe in Jesus or like church. But the summer of 2003, I met Jesus and He changed my life.  My prayer life was real and God was speaking to me.  The Bible that bored me was now alive.  My burden for my lost friends was deep.  Yet when I brought them to church, they didn’t want to come back and neither did I!  

I loved Jesus and hated church.That year God called me to be a pastor in a church and I was so confused.  I reluctantly said yes.  I thought church was a building and a way of doing ministry.  I was so wrong.  You see I loved people who went to church but did not see people as the church.  Then I came across this verse:

Matthew 16:18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

God began to show me that the Church was actually people and not a building. These people were powerful and carried Kingdom authority. God started to change my heart toward the church.  I saw God was calling me to lead the church (the people) to advance the kingdom of God into enemy territory and together we had guaranteed victory!  Then I began to love Jesus even more and love the church. 

So do you love Jesus? I am not asking if you read the Bible or pray… Do you love (the verb not the feeling) Jesus? By the way action evokes feelings.  If I cut you off in traffic it will evoke a feeling.  I am talking do you with your whole being worship, follow, and obey Jesus? If not I pray you experience Jesus the way I did 15 years ago! I pray your heart would not grow cold but would burn with love for the Savior who purchased your freedom! Worship Him and Serve Him. He is worthy of nothing less!

Do you love the church? Not the building, not the style, not your denomination, not your music preferences, not your preaching preferences… Do you love God’s bride?  If you came to me and said I like you but not your wife, we couldn’t be friends.  Is my wife perfect? Not at all!  Is God’s bride perfect?  Far from! Jesus gave His life for His bride and we are called to love her and serve her.  Remember action evokes feelings.  Where you spend your money and your time, there your love will be.  Love is a verb! Give to your church and serve her and your love for her will grow!

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

How to be a Man

Here’s our question for today: what does it really mean to “be a man?” The University of Manitoba conducted a study on what messages advertisers send about what it means to be a man. They found that the majority of advertisements equate manhood to one or more of the following four qualities: 

  • Danger is exciting: real men take risks and lack fear
  • Toughness is important: real men don’t cry or show importance 
  • Violence is manly
  • Having beautiful women (plural) and sex (plural) is important 

Now, I’m not here to say that it’s necessarily bad to take risks, be tough, hunt, or like beautiful women (I’m happily married to one). But, I am here to say that the world has an imperfect understanding of what it truly means to be a man. A really great description of Biblical manhood is found in Titus chapter 2. Here Paul gives instructions to all men, older men, and younger men. 

All Men: Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Titus 2:7-8. In other words, Paul is saying that being a man entails living a life that reflects Christ. When people see us with our family, in our community, in our workplace, etc. they need to see a reflection of God. As men we need to reflect God in our works, our teaching, our integrity, our speech, and more. 

Older Men: I’m smart enough to not categorize anyone as old, but I will say this. If there are people younger then you that look up to you for advice and guidance, then the following advice applies to you. This applies to dads, grandpas, teachers, bosses, etc. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Titus 2:2

Are you modeling those values for those around you? Are you honoring God with a life that is bearing that type of fruit? Being a man entails setting a Godly example in all areas of our life. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing you are to be living our these values to honor God and positively affect others. 

Younger Men: If you were to ask me I would say this applies to all men who are still in the process of learning and growing, which is actually all of us. While Younger Men seem to get off lightly here, being given only one command, it is an incredibly big, important, and difficult one: Urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Titus 2:6. Put simply, self-control is the ability to resist the temptation to sin, no matter how great that temptation is. Being a man means that we strive to resist all temptations and desires to sin, no matter the difficulty. 

So, to wrap it up, here are three big ways for all of us to “be a man:”

  1. Live a life that reflects Christ 
  2. Set a Godly example in all areas of your life
  3. Resist all temptations to sin 

Live In Your Hopes, Not Your Fears

Romans 12:12 New International Version (NIV)

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

What are your hopes and your dreams in life? Do you pursue them? Do you chase after them? All of these questions have been said. It is important that we keep them in front of us.

With hope come fear in most cases. We will hear doubts and fears from the enemy, the devil. It can come from people, family, and at times the ones closest to us. 

I can remember when the Lord place on my heart to step into full-time ministry. The enemy quickly brought up fears into my mind. These puts downs ran through my mind. You did not do very well in school. You stumble over your words when you speak. You have been divorced. Sometimes you spit when you are speaking fast and passionately. All of these ran through my mind, and I had fear and doubt.

Then the Holy Spirit reminded me He would help me overcome the fears, and I was to put my hope in Jesus Christ. I was told that I am the son of the living God, and with that will come position.

Being in full-time ministry is not easy. I thought there were challenges in the construction world. In ministry, the struggle is usually with people, yet Jesus has called me to feed and care for his sheep and to know them by name.

Men, there are always risks involved in anything you do. Live in your hopes. We serve a God who put that hope in your heart. Do not let fear distinguish your hopes and dreams in life. Put your hope in Jesus Christ.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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