I Don’t Idol Worship! Do I?

Psalms 115:4-8 (NKJV) 

Their idols are silver and gold,

The work of men’s hands.

They have mouths, but they do not speak;

Eyes they have, but they do not see;

They have ears, but they do not hear;

Noses they have, but they do not smell;

They have hands, but they do not handle;

Feet they have, but they do not walk;

Nor do they mutter through their throat.

Those who make them are like them;

So is everyone who trusts in them.

I owe you all an apology.  Last Friday’s devotional completely slipped from my mind and I failed to get something drafted and posted.  However, it actually worked to give wings to what I had intended to write.  God’s timing and intentions are perfect and I believe He worked last week to this week’s benefit.

I received a phone call from a good friend last week.  He was driving and listening to an audio recitation of Psalms chapters 113-117.  He told me that as he was listening to it, I came to mind and he felt compelled to call.  After our conversation, I couldn’t help but to explore the chapters he mentioned.  Chapter 115 really came to life for me.  The psalmist is speaking about idolatry in this chapter.  He speaks about how shallow, empty, pointless and ultimately dangerous it is.  As I thought about what was being said and God was conveying to me, I couldn’t help but examine the idolatry in my life.  Ironically, idolatry is precisely what led to my forgetting to write for last week.  You see, I was tied up, working in the archery shop until late.  I had a number of customers, a couple that were there late.  By the time they had left, I had forgotten all about writing.  My thoughts were squarely on my work.  My work in the archery shop is not a bad thing.  It is something I enjoy and am passionate about.  I am good at it and in many instances God has used it as a platform for me to glorify Him and witness to another.  It becomes an idol, however, when it serves as a wedge between Him and I.  It becomes an idol when its position on the list of priorities shifts ahead of God, my relationship with Him and the purpose He expects me to be serving.

As I evaluated this, I began to see just how many and how often idols distract me from God and our relationship.  Idols can take many forms and in and of themselves often are not necessarily bad things.  The way they become bad is measured by our motives of heart and the hierarchy we give them.  Idols can be our work, relationships, our spouses, children, hobbies, materialistic pursuit, and a great host of many others.  It is an idol when we lose our grip on what is most important, giving to it more than we are giving to God.  

Those people and things have a place in our lives and there is room for them, just make sure they are in their proper place.  Where are you ranking God in your day to day?  Is He paramount or does He get the remnants?  Pursue those people and things God blesses you with, but make sure it is to His purpose and glory first and foremost.  My wife and I are preparing to head west on Saturday for our annual hunting excursion.  As we do so, I will be mindful that it is held in its proper place, giving thanks and praising God for His glory and generosity, being vigilantly obedient to how He’d use this to His purpose.  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Out of Bounds

This past week, I was driving along a county highway and came across several cattle standing along the road looking at me like I didn’t belong there as I drove by honking at them.  I made a note of the nearest intersection and called it in to the local authorities.  One wrong step with an inattentive driver and it’s hello deductible – goodbye T-bone.  While the white and yellow lines on a road are meant to keep drivers from running into each other, they mean nothing to the bovine.  Without the boundary of the fence they are accustomed to, they put their lives in danger.  What happens to us when we ignore the boundaries set by our society or our God?

And because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path.  Your statutes are wonderful;  therefore I obey them.  Psalm 119:128-129

Football season is upon us again and people have already started flocking to watch clashing bodies fight back and forth between lines.  There are lots of rules in this sport and if you don’t follow them, your whole team gets penalized.  There are consequences for playing like a fool, and every sport has them, otherwise chaos would ensue.  Do you remember playing games as a kid and someone would change the rules part way through to suit them?  It usually resulted in hurt feelings, a fight, or someone walking away with the ball.  Not good.  When everyone plays by the rules, we can all enjoy the game much more. 

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.  Proverbs 26:4

What about the boundaries God has set for us in his Word?  Are the Ten Commandments and other decrees just there to frustrate us, or is there a bigger purpose?  Jesus tells us the summary of the Ten Commandments is to love God and to love others, which is illustrated in how he lived his life.  When living in a society where nearly anything goes, what did the life of an Israelite or Christian look like in comparison to their neighbors?  Is that contrast still visible in our lives and the world today?

You shall have no other gods before me.  Exodous 20:3

What happens to us when we don’t stay within the boundaries which are set for us?  If we break the speed limit – we deserve a ticket, if we steal from others – we must pay it back or go to jail, when we build a house on someone else’s property – they own it, when we sin- we hurt others.  All of our actions, good or bad, have consequences in our lives, if not now…down the road.  Often, we selfishly may claim the only person we are hurting with our actions is ourselves, but in reality we often hurt those around us as much or more with our poor choices.  So, we may be tempted to step over the line and hope we don’t get caught, but it is almost always better in the long run to steer clear of any debate and stay well with bounds.  Your team will be glad you did!

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.  Galatians 6:9-10

Courage in Christ,
Clark

Getting Out of the Hot Tub

For years I really wanted a hot tub. However, being married to a very practical and stingy woman (her words!) put such a luxurious purchase out of reach. However, I discovered that there is a small window of time in which her frugality vanishes: pregnancy. Yes, months ofsleep deprecation have an amazing way of wearing her down. Her first pregnancy led to the purchase of a Swiss crafted mattress made of space-ag material because she wanted a good night’s sleep. Pregnancy number two netted me (err, us) the elusive hot tub post as a way to recover from pregnancy. She used it for about two weeks, but I found myself using it every day for several years. I loved just sitting there for 30 minutes or more, especially on cold winters nights. Then, one day, the hot tubbroke. The repair was going to be very expensive, and we had moved and no long had a good place for it. Suddenly, I had 30 minutes of extra time, which I soon started using to exercise instead of simply sitting in a hot tub. I ended up losing around 100 pounds and getting healthier then I had ever been in my life. I often joke that our hot tub breaking was one of the best things that has ever happened to me!
I share this because I think a lot of us have a relationship with God that is spent in the comfort of a “hot tub.” We attend things that make us feel good: worship services, men’s groups, fun retreats, Christian concerts, etc. We may even read Christian books and devotions, especially if they entertain us. Now, all of those things are not only good, but they are really necessary parts of our faith (just like relaxation is a necessary part of our health). The problem is when we spend all of our time on these sorts of things and not on doing things that are more difficult, but equally (if not more important). These can be things such as sharing faith with a neighbor, spending your valuable time to serve in a new way, or taking on that challenge you’ve felt God’s nudging you towards, but you’ve been too afraid to accept it. Are we missing out on opportunities to make an impact for God because we’ve gotten to comfortable?
There is a great example of this in God’s call of Gideon. Gideon was a man of faith, but he was very much sitting in the hot tub. In a time of great trial for his people he had stayed home and had reaped many benefits. But then God appeared to him and said: Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Judges 6:14. See, God has given us all strength and ability not merely for our own enjoyment, but so that we can be a blessing to others. This week, let’s ask ourselves if there are ways we need to step “out of the hot tub” in our life to use the strength God has given us to impact our world.

Breath

Job 33:4New International Version (NIV)

The Spirit of God has made me;
    the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

I wear an I-watch that reminds me to take a moment to breath. At first it was annoying, but since then the reminder to do that is useful. It is useful especially in my busy, rollercoaster days.

It says we breath in and out physically 12-14 times a minute without even having to think about it. When we are at rest, our lungs take in six liters of air per minute. When we are working hard, we an take in more than 100 liters. 

When I think about physically breathing, it is life dependent, so is ‘Spiritual Breathing’. Our spiritual life is dependent on it. I like this thought from Bill Bright in which he says, ‘Spiritual Breathing’, like physical breathing is a process of exhaling the impure  and inhaling the pure. It is an exercise in faith that enables you to experience God’s love and forgiveness and walk in the spirit as a way of life.

Here lies the problem. The average Christian man does not understand the concept of ‘Spiritual Breathing’ as an exercise of faith and as a result, we live a life on a spiritual rollercoaster. We go from one emotional experience to another which lends itself to living as worldly Christians with little to no faith.

We need to make these choices of ‘Spiritual Breathing’ in order to allow the Holy Spirit to breath into our spiritual lives. Here are two suggestions that I am using that I believe can help us to understand how to breath in spiritual good air.

  1. Exhale – By confessing our sins immediately to God and asking His forgiveness is the exhale to spiritual breathing.
  2. Inhale – By asking the Holy Spirit to control and empower us and keeping us from returning to sin is the inhale of spiritual breathing.

The results, men, will give us a Christian life that is no longer about our own self help and defeats. It will allow the Holy Spirit to permeate every area of our lives. ‘Spirit Breathing’ is a conscious effort and the more we do it, the more the Holy Spirit breathes into our lives.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

Vital Men will begin the week of September 11-15 in all locations. We will have tow teaching options for me in the following locations.

In Pella, Newton, Ottumwa, and New Sharon the men will be going through the book, Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson. This teaching will challenge and encourage us to unleash our faith and chase after that five hundred pound dream in your life.

In Oskaloosa only, we are excited about teaching, The Journey. It will be for men only as we look to answer three primary questions about life. Who is God? Who am I? What does God desire to do through me?

 

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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