Who Are You Talking To?

Psalms 1:1,2 (NKJV) Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LordAnd in His law he meditates day and night.

One of the foundational passages for our Iron Men groups, the first we’re asked to commit to memory, is Psalms 1:1-6.  Nate chose to revisit the first three verses on Wednesday night.  As I spent the the last few days pondering over this passage and applying it to things that are happening in my life at present, it led to today’s commentary.

This passage sets the tone for the Psalms, contrasting the way of life for the righteous and wicked man.  It sets the stage, directs our focus, Who and What we should focus on and who and what we should not.

The first verse is particularly pertinent to my life at this moment.  The counsel we seek, those we choose to seek and take advice from is of a paramount importance.  Most people I know, would choose to seek advice, counsel or support from those who would most likely agree with their actions, view points, wants and desires.  Most seek out reassurance that what they are feeling, thinking and doing is right and justified.  Therefore, we are reluctant to seek out those we think might tell us something we don’t want to hear or accept.  That’s only natural, right? 

Paul tells us that there’s a problem in doing that, because we are not to be natural men any longer.  We are born again, washed in the blood of Jesus, called to a righteous way of life, thought and action.  That sometimes requires us to do that which we don’t want to do, hear what we don’t want to hear.

That includes seeking counsel from a wise, mature, trusted, righteous source.  Verse 1 above instructs us to not seek counsel from anyone else.  When you are up against it, need help, advice or merely an ear to sound off to, who do you go to?  Do you go to someone you can trust to give you a mature, biblical, spirit filled response?  Do you take it to someone that you know may have something to say that you might not be willing to hear?  Or, do you seek out those you know will never challenge you, how you think, how you feel?  Folks like that are generally easy to find, because most are willing to be that person.  Most choose to placate and not rock the boat.  We are are all, to some degree, broken, injured people and consequently find it easy to slide into that role.  It’s easiest to seek those people out and it’s easiest to be that person for others.  However, to follow that path, on eaither side, merely serves to pull us further from the Lord and hampers our chance to reconcile whatever it is we are struggling with.

My challenge to you is this, think about the last time you took an issue to another, who was it?  What was your motivation for choosing that individual?  What was their response?  Was it edifying or did it serve to deepen the issue?  Did that encounter offer a difficult, but positive evaluation or did it merely serve to justify you, your thoughts and actions? 

We must choose whom we associate with carefully, but never more so when we need guidance.  Sometimes that’s not easy, requiring humility and discernment.  Those qualities require a close relationship with the Lord, a strength of Spirit and a familiarity with His word.  Have a blessed weekend.

Proverbs 15:31,32 The ear that hears the rebukes of life Will abide among the wise. 32 He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, But he who heeds rebuke gets understanding.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace   

 

 

A New Season

Earlier this week we got a little taste of Spring and people seemed to like it.  I saw joggers, people walking in short sleeves, motorcycles, and open windows driving around town.  Technically, we are a few weeks till the end of Winter, but you can sense something different in the air.  The change of seasons is part of the reason I enjoy living in the Midwest, as there is always something new around the corner.  Each season has its ups and downs, but there is always something good about it.  How do you handle a season you are not looking forward to in your life? 

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

One month from now begins the start of another season – Baseball!  Do you know what is unique to this upcoming season that has not happened in 50 years?  Years ago, when I was in High School, I could probably name most every player on every MLB team, used to check the league stats most every week and even enjoyed playing the game through the Summer, but that season in my life has now passed.  I have to admit, I am currently a fair weather fan and don’t get too worked up over my formerly favorite teams, unless they have a shot at the World Series, but even then it doesn’t really matter much to me.  At the beginning of each season, the records are all the same, 0W 0L, so everyone gets a fresh start.  There may be some pressure to do better than last season, or to repeat if you were the champs, but once again, its anyone’s game and almost like pushing the ‘reset’ button on your console. 

Our days may come to seventy years,  or eighty, if our strength endures;  yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.  Psalm 90:10

We go about each day and each year usually fairly short sighted, taking care of whatever daily tasks and urgent situations arise from week to week.  What we do each day plays a small part in how each year, and ultimately our lives play out.  Before you know it, you are in your 60s to 70s and will be saying ‘where did the time go?’    But as the Keynesian quote goes, ‘in the long run, we are all dead.’  So the little blip we make on this earth as we pass from season to season eventually takes us to the last game.  When you are standing at the plate in your last at bat, what things will you wish you had done differently, and what things will you want to do yet as the 9th inning comes to a close? 

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Ephesians 4:29-32

If we look very long, we can all find things in our lives we regret we had done or not done, but cannot change now.  The one thing we can do is to forgive others for the wrongs inflicted on us, and to seek forgiveness for our own misdeeds.  Even if the person who we hurt is no longer living, we can ask God to forgive us for those things.  He wipes away our sin, and a clean slate to work from moving forward.  When we look back and see our failures, hopefully we can learn from them and allow them to transform us into better players as we have new opportunities to take at bats in life.  As opportunities present, take some time to share what you have learned with the rookies on your team, to encourage them to mature and to develop strategies that will serve them and everyone around them better in the long run. 

Yours in Christ,
Clark

Chase the Lion Part 1

This past week, a bat invaded our house.  My grandma woke up to it flying in her room.  I went in the room and could not find it.  Part of me thought she didn’t have her glasses on and she was disoriented.  Later that morning it shows up again.  My 10 year old son decided he was up to the challenge.  He went and got his Red Ryder BB gun.  It was perched in a corner of our vaulted ceiling in a little ball.  Nervously he aims at the bat knowing it could get spooked and start flying again.  He takes aim and shoots the bat.  He nails it and the bat swoops to the floor at all the girls in my house start screaming.  My wife covers the bat with a towel and takes it outside dead.  Levi my son is now a sharp shooting warrior.  He has officially gotten his first man card at 10!

One of my favorite stories in scripture is about a man who steps up in a crazy way.  The act of heroism, by this many named Benaiah, along with a few others led him to eventually become the captain of the guard under King David and commander in chief under King Solomon.  Little did he know these acts of heroism would set up such a dream responsibility.  

Here is the account:

2 Samuel 23:20 There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior[i] from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two champions[j] of Moab. Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it. 21 Once, armed only with a club, he killed an imposing Egyptian warrior who was armed with a spear. Benaiah wrenched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with it.22 Deeds like these made Benaiah as famous as the Three mightiest warriors.

On a Snowy day-

Isn’t that just how God works.  If you live in Israel snow comes around about as often as it does in Alabama.  They are not used to this kind of cold.  On a miserable day comes a defining moment.  I don’t know about you but most of my defining moments were on a bad day or a hard day.  Benaiah has to face a lion one on one on a miserable day.  

I think in our lives we find ourselves here on our worst days.  The day you didn’t get enough sleep, had a rough morning, spilled something on yourself, lost an opportunity is the day you notice that person who is having a rough day, you have the opportunity to cheat or lie, or feel compelled by the Lord to be overly generous.

These are the days God tests our character and He find whether we can be trusted.  So this week I want to challenge you to ask God to give you an opportunity to show faith in a way that costs you like it would on a snowy day.  Then ask God to give you the strength and courage to do it.

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

What do you REALLY Have to do?

Have you ever had to do something you had no desire to do, but you had to anyway? I’m thinking of work policies, such as doing mountains of paperwork, following overly convoluted policies, or obeying arduous safety procedures. You can also add in many household tasks: taking out the garbage, cleaning the toilets, changing poopy diapers, shoveling snow (just an FYI, its 78 and sunny in Nicaragua today), and more. Now, there are reasons for doing all of these tasks, and I’m not here to knock their importance. My point is we all have things we would love not to do if we did not have to. I’m sure few of us would choose to follow OSHA regulations if OSHA suddenly ceased to exist, or to change a dozen dirty diapers long after your children were out of them? We do such tasks because, for whatever reason (keeping a job, being safe, caring for our family, etc.), we have to. But what if we all of a sudden didn’t have to do those tasks anymore? Would we simply choose to do them just for the fun of it? 

What I’m getting at is this. Many of us choose to do worldly things, often to our detriment, that we simply don’t need to do. Jesus came to earth to teach us the best way to live and to save us from our sin. In Christ we are made totally new. We no longer have to be slaves to the ways of the world, ways that teach us that possessions, money, our job/position, perception, fame, and more are of the utmost importance. Yet, time and time again we choose to be enslaved to the world’s ways. We lust over money and possessions. We constantly worry about how other perceive us. We try to earn approval, a temptation greatly amplified by social media. I know many people, including myself, that spend a disproportionate part of their lives chasing after these worldly things, and are quite miserable doing so. So, why do we keep doing it? We don’t have to please the world. We don’t have to earn its affection. What we have to do is embrace the love God has for us, and lovingly serve Him in return. This week I encourage you to make the following passages from Paul your mantra. Don’t keep slaving away at things the world tells you are important, only to be all the more miserable for it. Instead, full embrace the perfect gift God has gracefully given you. 

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? Galatians 4:8-9

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 

Is Your Christianity Worth Dying For?

Isaiah 33:7 New International Version (NIV)

Look, their brave men cry aloud in the streets;
    the envoys of peace weep bitterly.

Does your heart break for the things that break the heart of God? That question should put us in a state of wonder. It is easy just to live life. You get up in the morning, do your every day work, go home and watch a little T.V., and then off to bed. Then you do it again the next day.

Living life in the ordinary will always return the same result, but what if we chose to look at life in a different way? Ask the Lord to help you see people like He does. If you pray with sincerity, He will show you.

This past week I went to see a man whose wife had a stroke. She is in a hospital with limited movement and is unable to speak. 

I was asked to meet with and discuss options on a concrete slab and a ramp. Before I went to see him, I asked the Holy Spirit to see the situation from God’s eyes. I immediately felt compassion. When I met him, I felt his heart pain.

Now, bare in mind, this man is a big ex-marine. He is a tough man who has been broken by life. He spoke with tears in his eyes that he loves his wife more now in the 17 years of marriage. We took our hats off and prayed.

Men, that is Christianity, and that is worth dying for. Men, being real with each other in hard times. I told him that we would pour the slab and build the ramp as soon as the weather broke. We were two men with tears in our eyes who knew God had this. The Lord answered my prayer and let me see this man through His eyes.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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