God, this is your plan?

Everyone of us have questioned God’s plan!  Everyone of us have had doubts… What do you do when God’s plan doesn’t make sense?

Those that know the Lord, trust him… Psalm 9:10

Live a Better Story

Brandon Sereg

Be Bold!

It’s always dangerous to generalize, but in my experience most of us men are bold in many areas of life, with the notable exception of asking for help. We are bold in expressing our love for our favorite sports team, and our disdain for our least favorite. We are bold in expressing our preferences for cars, motorcycles, tractors, restaurants, and politics. Those of you from Oskaloosa are very bold in expressing the correct manner to utilize the McDonald’s drive through, and those from Pella are quite bold in expressing their preference for best bakery. When it comes to asking for any type of help, however, we are often as far from bold as possible. We hide our needs so incredibly well that 99% of people likely think our life is virtually perfect. Yet, my educated hunch is that we are all often overwhelmed by a great many things in life. Asking for help, however, is often far off our radar. 

Here is something I’ve realized in life. We can either be bold in asking for help from God or others, or we can be awash in the misery of trying to handle all the problems of life on our own. The result of lacking the boldness of asking for help is almost always burnout. Checkout this amazing example of boldness in Scripture. After Easter, things were not exactly easy for Jesus’ followers. There were many who wanted to jail and kill them just as they had Jesus. To take the bold action needed to share the good news the Apostles had to ask for help.

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.‭‭ Acts‬ ‭4:29-31‬ 

To act with boldness the Apostles had to pray with boldness. They had to ask for God’s help and guidance. And did God ever give it to them! God’s response literally shook the ground, and they were filled with the Spirit. If being a missionary has taught me anything, it is to be bold in my prayers. The reality is, I seldom have what is needed to best get through each day. I am overwhelmed by cultural differences, language differences, a mountains of needs that I have no clue how to address. I have found myself on my knees praying boldly more then ever before. 

Where is that boldness in our lives? What are we not asking God for? What are we not doing in our lives that we should, but we not only lack the boldness to try, but the boldness to ask. What do you really need right now, but you lack the boldness to ask? This week, I encourage you to humble yourself boldly before God and pour out your needs to Him. 

 

 

 

 

Spiritual Groundwork

Mike talks about groundwork and how we are preparing for spiritual growth.

“Cheap Grace”

This is from a few years ago, but a point that has been on my heart of late.  I felt compelled to share it once again and perhaps stir some to thought and action.

Romans 6:1-3…6-7 (NASB) What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? …knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.  

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran Pastor during World War II.  He was a man very much opposed to Hitler and the Third Reich.  He fled Germany at first, but chose to return.  He felt that he could not, in good conscience, be a part of the rebuilding of his country after the war, if he wasn’t willing to suffer along side his countrymen.  He returned to Germany, worked in heavy resistance to the Reich.  He provided comfort, peace and provision to the men and women who so desperately needed it.  His subversion to Hitler was covert, when necessary, and overt when possible.  Because of his work, the threat he presented to the Reich’s power by fear, he was imprisoned, tortured, relocated repeatedly and tortured some more.  This man, armed with conscious faith was as powerful a weapon as any the allies had to combat the evil that that plagued Europe.  Through this man, God brought hope to a hopeless people.  Through this man, God inspired others to courageous action.  Many died doing this work, including Mr. Bonhoeffer.  He was hanged just days before allied forces liberated the concentration camp in which he was held.  Those that knew him, spoke of a calm, confident peace about him.  A strength of character and assurance that would not waver.  Despite the suffering he endured, he continued on every day, until his last breath, caring for those within his sphere of influence, bringing a peace and a hope, that no matter what happened they were right where God would have them, doing as God would them. 

Mr. Bonhoeffer believed that the saving gift of grace, bestowed upon him by his Father through the Son, was but a beginning, to start a new.  He believed that because of the cost of that gift, he was obligated to go where called, and do what was asked no matter what.  For him that included delivering the gospel to all he could, the helpless and hopeless.  It included a martyr’s death at the end of a noose. 

Reading about Mr. Bonhoeffer got me thinking about my role in the world.  What am I called to do (big picture) and what am I asked to do (little picture).  We’re all given a cross to bear, some big, some small.  We’re also given a choice.  Do we pick it up and march on, or do we leave it setting on the ground and walk away?  Too many of us freely accept the gift of God’s grace, but stop there.  So often, so many of us do not or will not accept the price we are asked to pay.  Dietrich was not such a man.  Ask yourself, as I am, are you?  Have a blessed weekend.

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

The Chase

Last week, I was searching through a new online streaming app, just to see what was available and came across the Dukes of Hazard, which was a show I remember watching often as a child.  I watched one episode, and honestly could have told you how the story ended up, even if I had not seen it before, as somehow the Duke boys get in trouble for something they did or didn’t do, get chased by the Law, and eventually end up helping solve the real crime and walk away in the end.  There are enough small variations on this theme each week to keep people interested and watching on a regular basis, as with many other shows.  Wile E Coyote is always looking for new and better ways, with the help of Acme, to chase down and catch the elusive Roadrunner.  Mystery and crime shows, western movies, and many others play out how the ‘good guys’ eventually track down the ‘bad guys’ and justice is served in the end.  What type of shows or books draw you in and make you want to find out how the story ends? 

A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.  Proverbs 13:4

In reality, we spend a lot of our lives chasing after things.  As children, most things are provided for us, but eventually we learn that if we want something, we have to go after it and work to get what we are after.  When my dad was young, he learned to hunt, both to earn some money and to put food on the table.  If we wanted to be the fastest, the toughest, the best at something, we have to prove our worth among our peers, in athletics, in academics, behind the wheel, with the girl, in almost every part of life we are driven to compete.  Remember when you were young, and sometimes foolish, what drove you to chase down what you were after?  When you had your eyes set on a girl and you did all kinds of things to try to win her heart?  Maybe you had to compete for her attention, or somehow prove you were worthy, or just brave enough to ask her out.  What happened after you got married, did you still try as hard to win her attention? 

He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.  Proverbs 18:22

Just as our drive to chase down what we have our sights set on can be a good thing, it can also get us into trouble.  When we try to get rich quick, instead of working for what we want, it can lead to greed, laziness, and selfishness.  Gambling drives us to give up almost everything in the desire to hit the ‘big one.’  Those who find themselves controlled by substance abuse are always chasing after a bigger or better high, or escape from their troubles.  The constant lust for more is never satisfied when it comes to pornography.  The desire for more and more money and things has lead many toward illegal or unethical actions just to earn a dollar.  Our desires for anything can lead us down trails that lead to death and be an Achilles heal that can be our downfall instead of being that which leads us to succeed.  Do you know which are your most vulnerable spots and how to keep them from being your undoing? 

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;  one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  Ephesians 4:4-6

What about God?  Are you chasing after Him, or is he chasing after you?  When we were growing up, we either had an interest in knowing Him, or we didn’t, but was that our own interest or Him drawing us to him?  It is not until after we see the truth in who He is and what He has done for us, that we realize He has been calling to us since before we were born.  He reveals to us through nature, others, in His Word, and through his Spirit, just who He is and who we are.  Have you heard that call, and have you answered that call?  Do you still hear Him calling to you to be who you were made to be, and to share that Good News with others?  The Hound of Heaven isn’t done chasing after you yet!

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:5

Yours in Christ,

Clark

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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Contact Mike by emailing: mike.sereg@gmail.com