Endowed By Their Creator

Psalms 33:12 (NKJV) Blessed is the nation whose God is the LordThe people He has chosen as His own inheritance.

As we approach the celebration of our nation’s independence from the tyrannical rule of Great Britain, I feel compelled to speak on what it meant, and what it means now from a spiritual perspective.  

For any who don’t know, I’m a bit of a history nerd.  I never seem to get enough.  In addition to being fairly well read on matters of American history, my undergrad studies were in criminal justice, thus requiring a rather in depth look at constitutional law and the governing structure of the United States.  Consequently, I feel I have a better than rudimentary grasp on where, as a nation, we’ve been, where we’re going and why.

On July 2, 1776 the Continental Congress voted to ratify and issue a proclamation, severing all ties with Great Britain, King George III and Parliament.  This was a complete succession, politically, economically and socially.  The United States of America, declared to the king and the rest of the world its independence and pursuit of self governance.  This was no small matter.  Our founding fathers stood resolute and openly defied the greatest empire and military the world had known.  The men who voted for and signed their name to this proclamation knew the potential cost of such action.  Most of these men were men of means, business men, plantation owners, tradesmen, lawyers, entrepreneurs, clergy.  They had family, property and reputation.  They staked it all on this grand vision, an experiment never before seen in the annals of human history and never since duplicated.  Why?… because they believed.  They believed in something greater than themselves, their children, their wealth and possessions.  They believed, “that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

That belief is the bedrock Truth that our nation was founded upon.  The majority of the men, pivotal in its inception and execution, stood resolutely grounded in faith, guided by God Himself, accepting that which He called them to. Having studied, in depth, the events that transpired throughout the revolutionary years, I am firmly convinced that this nation came into existence solely because of the faith displayed by those men and women of God’s plan and purpose, obedience to that call and trust in His ever present hand of protection.  

In the past several years, but coming to a climax over the past few, I have witnessed, in these United States of America, a division and venom that serves to utterly erode and destroy the bedrock Truth that held this nation since infancy.  How did this happen?  It happens when God’s people turn away from Him and turn inward instead.  It happens when God’s people stop glorifying Him, praising and giving thanks to Him who endowed them in the first place.  It happens when God’s people start thinking more highly of themselves and the mighty towers they have built than they do of the One who created all that ever was, is and ever will be.  

I hear, quite often, “we need to do something!  We need to push back, dig in and take it back!”  You want to actually do something of consequence?  Put God back in His proper place in the American vision.  That doesn’t start in Washington D.C.  Read about the process that was required to get to a Declaration of Independence.  It didn’t start at the top.  It started in the hearts and minds of the individuals.  

You want to see spiritual revival and the regeneration of the bedrock ideals this nation was constructed upon, you start at home.  What kind of leader are you?  What type of christian shadow do you cast?  Are you establishing a Godly presence in your home, for your wife and children?  Are you striving to be provider, protector and priest of your home?  If you’re not, how can you expect to persuade your neighbor to strive for such lofty ideals, your local, state and federal governments?  You can’t!  Revival doesn’t begin in the polls, the statehouses and federal building.  Revival starts in the individual heart!  It spreads, then to the family that you’ve been purposed to guide and protect!  It permeates, then, into the neighborhood, the community, county, state and finally the nation!  

Without God as the paramount focus of our lives, this nation can not get back on course.  The faith, courage and foresight we celebrate on July 4th, will be for naught as America becomes another footnote in the history of man. Liberty comes with a price tag, our liberty bought by the blood of Christ, as well as our liberty as a nation.  Our forefathers wrote checks for both, are you willing?  Have a blessed weekend and a safe and joyous Independence Day! 

Psalms 33:14-22 (NKJV)  

From the place of His dwelling He looks

On all the inhabitants of the earth;

15 He fashions their hearts individually;

He considers all their works.

16 No king is saved by the multitude of an army;

A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.

17 A horse is a vain hope for safety;

Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,

On those who hope in His mercy,

19 To deliver their soul from death,

And to keep them alive in famine.

20 Our soul waits for the Lord;

He is our help and our shield.

21 For our heart shall rejoice in Him,

Because we have trusted in His holy name.

22 Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us,

Just as we hope in You.

 

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace  

 

 

A Mixed Bag

I had a discussion a couple weeks ago with a friend and we talked about what made us think some people were good and others were bad.  If someone were to ask if you are a good person, what would you say?  I would guess 90% of people would say ‘yes’, and if asked why, we would most likely state some of the good things we have done, or compare ourselves to a worst case scenario…e.g. I haven’t killed anyone, or I’m not like Hitler, etc.  Maybe that is why it is so easy for people to gossip and look down on others, because it makes them feel better about themselves.  At least I’m not like him.  However, in reality, none of us are good.  99.9 % of people reading this have lied, cheated, stolen something, lusted, or broken the law in some way this past week.  We are all guilty, however some of our sins are more obvious than others.  What is your greatest flaw?

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.  Luke 18:19

Each day we face hundreds of choices and decisions in how we live our lives, treat others, spend our free time, and perform the work we are given.  Some of those choices turn out well, and some should teach us what not to do again.  What lessons did you learn yesterday?  Have you ever put yourself in someone else’s position and wonder, ‘how would I have handled that?’  What if you had been born to a nomadic Muslim family, or been born a prince with great influence, or born to a single parent without family nearby, or any other fathomable scenario.  How would your life be different?  How would your faith be different? 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8

On any given day we can examine our lives and see a mixed bag of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.  We will not likely get to the point of perfection in this life, but if we have boundaries and keep to good principles of living, like those found in scripture, our batting average should improve with practice.  Others may even call you a good guy, despite your flaws.  Whether we try or not, we have a tendency to become more like those we spend the most time around and those we admire.  Who is that for you?  The more time you spend in the Word and in prayer, the more we tend to become like the One who saved us.  Even when you are struggling in any given area, take it to Him and surrender more of your life to Him.  He wants to refine you and make you holy, because He is holy.  You are never justified because of your good deeds, but they are definitely evident in your life as you are sanctified and become more like Him.  Look to Jesus today to renew your spirit, refine you, and make each day a good day!

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:6

Courage in Christ,
Clark

Cry For Help

Habakkuk 1:2New International Version (NIV)

Habakkuk’s Complaint

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
    but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
    but you do not save?

The prophet Habakkuk was calling for help, but you see him use the word ‘cry’. In Hebrew the meaning is literally ‘to scream’. Habakkuk had a burden for the wickedness in his country. He was crying out and burdened, yet for him he wondered why God seemed so indifferent.

Have you ever had those moments with Jesus? Have you ever been looking into the sky crying out to him? You may have even asked the question, “Do you even hear me?” Every man who has ever walked the planet has had those moments.. Too many of us stop there. We quit and give up.

In verse 5 of Habakkuk, God responds, “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you would not believe even if someone told you about it.”

Our God is still moving nations. He is positioning them for such a time as this. These were prophetic words then and prophetic words for today. You see, men, God is calling out for ‘watchmen’. He is calling for men who will be responsible to warn a city of the approaching danger.

Jesus is the Coming One. God is positioning the nations so all will bow to the presence of the King of Kings. You watchmen cry for help. It is only in the strength of the Holy Spirit that we can stand. These are exciting days, men. Let’s be the watchmen and cry for help to our mighty God!

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Be a Man, Not a Fool

For the past couple of years I have known Jessica, a leader in one of the churches I work with in Nicaragua. I came to know Jessica as a strong woman in every sense of the term. She served as a church leader, sang in worship, helped run a successful family business (in a neighborhood where that is a rarity), and purposefully hired troubled and non-Christian workers so she could evangelize and disciple them. I’ll likely never forget being invited to her business to evangelize and pray for these young men. Unfortanetly, like many in Nicaragua, Jessica was in a difficult marriage. Her husband had little to do with God or her, and had major substance abuse issues. After many attempts to help him she finally saw divorce as the safest option for her and her children, and informed her husband of this a couple of months ago. Her husband became so enraged that he brutally murdered her, before taking his own life. They leave behind three beautiful children that are currently being raised by their grandmother. 

This is an extreme tragedy, although not as rare in Nicaragua as you would think. It stems from a major societal problem, which is how men define being a man. Being a man is all about bravery, strength, success, being in charge, and being independent. It’s machoism on Red Bull infused protein shakes with a shot of whiskey. Among many problems, its led to churches being only 30% men, and countless broken marriages. While things may not seem quite so extreme in America, I still feel we often have a pretty warped idea of what it means to be a man. It’s doing manly things (hunting, motorcycles, weightlifting) and avoiding girly things (music, dancing, and more). It’s about being in charge, being independent, and exerting an outer and inner strength. Its about muscles, beards, and listing all sorts of manly achievements. 

Interstingly, very little of anything I’ve talked about is spoken of in the Bible when it comes to what manhood is all about. See, manhood is not about strength, accomplishments, or power, it’s about servanthood. God calls us as men first and foremost to be servants to Him and to others. Here’s what Paul tells Timothy about being a man: 

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. I Timothy 6:11-12

See, being manly has nothing to do with all those things the world screams at us. Rather, it’s about living out our faith in God by being his servants in all that we do and say. So this week, lets tone down our attempts to prove how macho we are, instead ask ourselves: how am I doing serving this week? Have I served my wife well? My Children? How about my neighbor, my God, and my church? How am I really doing at being the servant God? 

Change

James 1:17New International Version (NIV)

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

We all have seasons of change in our lives. Change occurs when you get married. Change occurs when you have children. Change happens as a loved one or friend passes away. Change can bring joy, sorrow, anxiousness, and loneliness.

Yet, James says all change is a perfect gift. In my life change has occurred in a job and a community. It is a homecoming doing ministry in my home town. 

I believe that all of my life experiences as a builder, working in manufacturing, leading men’s ministry, and being an associate pastor brought me to this point in life.

For me, not only am I not a young man, I am not even a middle aged man. I am entering the senior years of my life. I must say that I have never felt more excited for this new change than all the other changes put together.

I see the Lord’s hand and his mission on my life. I have my wife right by my side, and that is also confirmation for me. You see, change can bring fear and anxiety, and I cannot deny that I experience both at times. But here is the key element, I will keep my eyes fixed on the prize, and that is to be with my Lord and Savior, King Jesus. He is the lover of my soul. With that, I step into that change. Allow the good and the bad to build your life and to accept his changes.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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