What's in Your Wallet

A series of popular Capital One credit card commercials were based on the popular catchphrase of “What’s in your wallet.”   It’s likely you remember them since they played for years and could be somewhat entertaining.  The point of the commercials was that there were often times things hidden from us which had an impact on us, yet we had no idea.  The commercials challenged us to look at these things and see if they were causing harm or damage.  The assumption was that people never paid attention to the details and specifics of their agreement with their credit card company, instead focusing on just the fact that they “get.”

In a metaphorical twist I’ll rephrase the question… “What’s in your heart?  Do you take the time to read the fine print?  Are there things in your life that are having a hidden impact on your life yet you are either unaware or just ignore?   Chances are there may be many things in your life… there are certainly many things in mine.  An unawareness or ignoring of them does not change the significance of their impact, and as with the point of the credit card commercials, if we knew how damaging they were we’d want to change.

We participated in a cool activity yesterday in church that got me thinking about all of this. Near the end of service everyone was asked to grab a stone off the the stage and write something on it something that they needed to let go of in their life.  It was powerful to have  200 people participate in this activity.  Our further instructions were to take that stone sometime in the near future and throw it somewhere in which it would never be found again such as to the bottom of a lake or pond.  I personally could have used a few more stones as my greatest challenge seemed to be narrowing it down to just one thing.

We can’t know “What’s in our wallet” if we don’t take time to look… We can’t know “What’s in our heart” if we don’t humble ourselves before God and ask that He reveal the hidden things to us.  A failure to do this is rooted in pride, essentially a love for oneself.  I challenge you to ask God to continually reveal to you the hidden things of your heart that are causing separation between you and God.  These hidden things keep us from truly experiencing Him at a level that deep inside we desire, even if we don’t recognize this desire.  Blessed is Best!!

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

Prayer Warriors Needed

Each week I typically write related to things that are currently going on in my life.  At this time there is nothing else I could write about other than the start of the “Fight Club” ministry at our church.  A total of 28 men stepped up to this 12-week challenge.  At this point it has only been 1 week but God is already at work in the hearts and lives of many of the men.  The fact that so many men stepped up to this challenge shows that inside most men exists a hunger to be closer to God.

It’s awesome to see men encouraging and growing closer to each other.  Many of you that read this blog are the same men that have accepted the Fight Club challenge…. regardless I want to ask you all for a favor.  Will you pray for these men?  There is no telling what great things can happen as a result of so many men stepping up and trying to get more intentional in their relationship with God. The enemy is going to try everything possible to disrupt and discourage these men… thus prayer support is needed.

Honestly, the start of Fight Club has required much of my time…. the blog this week is a plea for your prayers that God will work in the lives of these men.  Blessed is best!

Shared by Chad Hellenthal

To Forgive… Or Not To Forgive

It was hard for me to figure out what I’d write about this week.  For many weeks my mind has been focused on the Fight Club “kick-off” and now that it’s over I feel like taking a bit of time just to chill before it begins.  The problem is that my “chill” tends to quickly turn into complacency if I’m not careful.   Fight Club will officially begin tomorrow and I’m ready…. well part of me is anyway.  The other part of me knows the challenge it will be, yet it is so needed in my life.

I’ve been trying recently to make peace with someone in my life with whom dissension has come between us.  I’d like to say my efforts went well, but they did not.  I desire not to cast blame, it almost always takes two to cause conflict.  I just want to talk briefly of our need to forgive and to try to be a peace with others.

Unforgiveness is poison to the innermost parts of a being.  Pride is the root cause and causes  a reluctance to forgive someone.  It is self-centered way to live life.  I’ve been both the one who refuses to forgive and the one who is not forgiven.  Unforgiveness is a horrible thing.

Before this chapter of Fight Club begins I wanted to rid myself of any bitterness and unforgiveness.  Mark 11:25 states, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven may also forgive your transgressions.”  In Matthew 6:14-15 we are told almost the same thing, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

I’m sure we are all familiar with this basic Biblical principle, but how many of us ignore it?  I have many times.  It feels good to forgive, and some of you need to humble yourself and both forgive… and seek forgiveness.  Remember this, if someone refuses to forgive you… that is between them and God.  All we can do is assure that we are in right standing with God so that our prayers will not be hindered.  We worship a God who always forgives when we ask… we should do the same.  We forgive for ourselves, so that our prayers and connection to God is not hindered.   Blessed is Best!!

 
Shared by Chad Hellenthal

Fighter

And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” (Nehemiah 4:14)

I’ve gotten soft.  My relatively simple life has caused me to get physically and spiritually soft. Things were very different long ago when a man had to directly work for his food.   I’d say there were less distractions back then to pull focus away from God.   I reckon that if I lived back in the times of 1:1 combat with swords or duals with guns, my focus would have been much greater on assuring that I was ready to fight and protect in a seconds notice.

I do not think that most men (myself included) are near the kind of man we were designed to be.  Most of us are workers… not warriors.  Lovers… not fighters.  Lovers of so much that is not of God or eternal significance, not apt to fight for the things we were designed to stand for.  For the most part, each of us are living the good life.  We each have our own life challenges, but for the most part we have it GOOD!

There are so many around us who are hurting so badly inside as they try to make it through life without any knowledge or understanding of Jesus’ love for them.  I remember those days and they were absolutely horrible.  But there was 1 man who refused to give up on me… he lived the life of a Christian and took seriously his job of praying and witnessing to me.   It’s so easy to focus on everything else in our life… so easy, to fall into the trap of developing a relationship with God that focuses on just “thanking” him for the blessings He’s provided.  So easy to forget that we are to focus on spreading the message of God’s love.  To do this places us in a battle for which we must be ready.

In 2 days (March 13th) we will be having our first ever “Fight Club Kick-Off.”  Fight Club was designed to help men become the kind of man God has called them to be.  I’ll mention and invite you again to join us at 10:00 pm this Friday night.  This is for men who are serious about strengthening their relationship with God.  It is a program unlike anything you’ve ever seen before and it will undoubtedly have a profound impact on your life…. which will have an impact on the lives of others around you.  We need men to step up and be a “Fighter” for what truly matters most.  Blessed is Best!!

 
Shared by Chad Hellenthal

Don't be Batman

A few months ago I was focused on the “masks” that most men wear.  As a quick summary and reminder, I believe that many Christian men act as if they have no struggles, problems, or concerns.  If you desire to hear more about this topic I’ll encourage you to find the blog posting entitled “Masked Men” found within the Cross Effect website.  There is no doubt however that men do this… I do this… you probably do too.  Let us now look at the consequences of our actions upon our life.

We’re likely all familiar with the Armor of God described in Ephesians 6.  Have you ever noticed that the armor has no kind of facial covering?  The armor we are to wear provides spiritual protection in our lives.  God gave us all the armor we need, however many of us try to protect ourselves by developing our own facial covering in the form of a mask that keeps people from knowing who we really are.    We decide to shield our faces and reveal who we really are versus carrying the Shield of Faith that God has given us.  When the Shield of Faith is forsaken, it makes us more vulnerable to the fiery darts of the devil and leaves oneself more prone to spiritual attack physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  It’s kind of hard to be the man our family needs us to be if this is how we live our life…. all because of a mask.

Wearing a mask, revealing a sinful lifestyle, covering the light of the Holy Spirit is not a minor matter.  It is to flirt with spiritual disaster both for yourself and the eternity of others.  If we picture ourselves kneeling before God on the day of the Judgement Seat of Christ with our current lifestyle in hand.  Would you regret it?  Are you wearing a mask and covering the light of God within you?  Are you causing others to stumble because you’re in open rebellion? Or is your breastplate of righteousness shining God’s light to the lost?  Hypocrisy and sinful living should be dispensed of!

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (I John 2:15-16)

A real man does not wear a mask.  He understand the importance of standing honestly before God and man.  We were created to be this kind of man but the world wages war against us constantly.  On March 13th we have an opportunity to assemble and take steps to become this kind of man together.  I’d encourage you to go to crosseffect.org and sign up of our Kick-off event.  Prepare to Fight!

 
Shared by Chad Hellenthal

Wanted Man

“The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…” (2nd Chronicles 16:9)

God wants men to step up and be what He designed and called them to be.  That’s the bottom line…. really nothing more to it.  We were designed to be warriors and leaders, but instead many are dragged into the pit of follower and complacency.  Our own world becomes self-centered and ruled by self-indulgence.  We quickly choose to follow our careers, hobbies, and lusts more passionately than we follow our God.  Our goals in life are seldom focused on God, instead they’re typically directed on all the other things we want in life…. the things we somehow believe we need and deserve.  Yet, God searches the earth for men whose hearts are fully committed to him.  I am not yet that man, are you?

I hear a cry from deep within calling me to become a man that is fully committed to Him.  Do you hear the same cry inside of you?  I believe you do.  If not, it’s likely because you’ve ignored it so long, buried it so deeply under so much that you’ve become deaf to it…. but it calls out nevertheless.  It calls because it was embedded within the design of what man is to be.

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16)

Much of my life has been spent wading around in lukewarm water.  It’s rather comfortable, there is much to keep me entertained and plenty of company.  But a voice keeps crying out from deep within me….   Reminding me that I am a “Wanted Man.”

Men of Palmyra Grace…. you’re going to start hearing a lot about something called “Fight Club.”  It was designed to help you become the man God has called you to be.  Fight Club is for every man, but not all will choose to accept the call.  Some men will be just too busy, some men are just too comfortable.  I say these things in love…. not in anyway to be judgmental or harsh.

Fight Club is not easy.  It’s essentially a 12 week spiritual boot-camp.  It will challenge you spiritually, physically, relationally, academically, and emotionally.  Some that accept the challenge will strike out and not finish, but no doubt they will be a better man for trying.  I’m calling you out! No excuses!  I myself am weak and need like-minded men to stand beside me and FIGHT!!

To prepare for this battle go to crosseffect.org and register for the “Kick-off” event to be held on March 13th.  And yes, it actually does start at 10 p.m. (past my bed time), but that should be no deterrent for man seeking God.  On that night you will have an opportunity to hear more about Fight Club, and then a few days to decide if you’re willing to begin Fight starting March 18th.  I believe you will choose to join us in battle if you can still hear God crying out within you, “You are a wanted man!”

Shared by Chad Hellenthal

Try Again

Let me try this again.  My first attempt at writing a blog this week failed miserably as my wife nicely told me it basically stank.  I’ll tell you why she was right.

There are times in my life when I’m so purposeful in my relationship with the Lord that I’ll not take a step out of my bed until I’ve first focused my mind on God by thanking him and spending even just a moment in prayer.  Other times (for seemingly no reason) it is all I muster to force myself to read a quick devotional or look at one verse while sitting on my throne.

My brother Ed Martin shared a scripture with me last week that stuck me in a way as to make me wonder if I’d even ever heard it before.   Mark 9:24 states, “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said ‘I believe; help my unbelief!”

In the context of the story the disciples had just failed to free the boy of the spirit and so the father seeks out Jesus to heal his son.  In verse 23 Jesus tells the father. “If you can!…. All things are possible for one who believes.”  The father immediately responded that he does believe but asked for help of his unbelief.

Do you ever feel like that?  Do you pray about things…. believe things to be so but then struggle with unbelief?  I do.  It helped me to know that my brother Ed does too.

I was in a funk that day last week and by opening up to a friend I was blessed from his insight.

Anyway, back to why my first attempt at a blog stank and I had to try again (hopefully you’re not sitting there thinking “it was actually worse than this one”).  When I try to do things on my own I’ve got nothing.  I was not “feeling it” if you know what I mean.  When I woke up this morning (for whatever reason) I basically just skimmed through my devotion and failed to even crack open my Bible.  I tried to force something onto paper in hopes of “getting my blog over with.”

I’m trying to step up and be the man I’m called to be but my mind is too easily troubled because I fail to believe and trust in God as I should.  This causes me to stress,  and neglect the things that are most important to me in my life.  Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.  This time I spent some time in the Word and prayer before I tried to even type a letter.  Thank you God for being there to always let me try again.

Prepare to Fight!!

Shared by Chad Hellenthal

Storm Chaser

A few weeks ago much of the east coast was to receive a huge blizzard.  Talk of 2 feet of snow combined with winds of 50 mph permeated the news waves.  New York City was temporarily shut down due to the impending “Snow-apocalypse.”  The pressure system roared across the the land taking dead aim at our surrounding area, we were all clearly in the cross-hairs… and then NOTHING!  How different things would have been had we never paid attention to the forecasts.

This situation seems a direct correlation of how I’ll often handle potential storms in my own life.  I tend to try to be the forecaster, running all the possible prediction models over and over through my mind till I make my final forecast.  Often times it is the “Apocalypse” scenario.  More often than not the storm never comes, but if it does it is rarely as bad as I had predicted.  You’d think that by now I’d realize that I’m a horrible forecaster and recognize the futility of my attempts to predict life’s “weather.”

What makes my attempts at forecasting so detrimental is that most of my time is spent looking and worrying about the pending storm as opposed to seeking and praising after my God.  This tends to leave me grumpy and living my days void of the joy and peace I should be experiencing.  Instead of being filled with a true revelation of God’s love so that I may share it with others….  I’m too busy storm chasing.

I could get all spiritual on you know and list all kinds of scriptures about the way we should be thinking about the “weather” in our life, I’ll not do that because I think you already know. You know the kind of man God has called you to be and you know where to find Him… you know where to find His promises and strength.  Stop trying to predict the weather and focus of the fight.  Stop measuring your preparedness on your perception of your own personal holiness, but instead focus on knowing God.  This is what God wants from us more than anything.  Stop looking at the weather, stop worrying about storms, start focusing on knowing God.  PREPARE TO FIGHT!!!

Shared by Chad Hellenthal

Fight, Fight!!!

So many good intentions…

I really do want to be a better husband, father, and friend… to get in better shape… to maintain the sweet, meaningful relationship with the Lord I have tasted…

I yearn for such things.

Unfortunately I rarely fight for these things.

Why is that?  Is it because I fail to realize that there really is a battle?  That there is a battle raging whether I engage in it or not?  It would be much easier if some sinister intruder tried to invade my home.   You can bet I would fight then.  If I hear the door getting kicked in and someone storming into my home he better hope I don’t get my hands on the field hockey stick leaning in the hallway (no idea why that’s there but that’s another story).  I could do some serious damage with it.  Over six feet tall, 300 lbs, and ticked off… I could probably kill someone with that pink field hockey stick.

But in reality the intruder is almost never that concrete or tangible.  They don’t kick in the door and physically threaten me and mine.  Instead it’s the subtle breeze of passivity that blows in the window I forgot to shut, a shadow that slowly creeps across my marriage, a son quietly walking out the door I have failed to fully prepare for what lurks outside.

Recently I was blessed to be part of a group that helped me remember this. Chad, who generally writes this blog, invited me and a couple other guys to be part of a men’s ministry called “Fight Club.”  This ministry reminded us through a variety of challenges to remember that there is a battle, whether we like it or not. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 it is not a battle with flesh and blood but a spiritual battle.

The group of men encouraged me to resist the passivity that I tend to embrace and called me to stand up instead and engage in this battle.  To fight- to remember that I do not fight alone.  That I must act, we must act.  Together we can reclaim our homes, our families, our churches, and our community.  The clarion call of the “Fight Club” men’s ministry is found in Nehemiah

14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”  Nehemiah 4:14.

Consider joining us as we engage this battle through a new fight club chapter at Palmyra Grace.  Learn more about it Friday night, march 13, 2015.  Come fight along side us.

Sincerely,

Ed “the 300 pound crazy man wielding a pink field hockey stick” Martin

Spiritual Sniper

There is no bigger movie right now than “American Sniper.”  Coincidentally, I’ve been reading a book entitled Sleeping Giants: No Movement of God Without Movement of Men in which several associations are made to another sniper…. the devil.  Allow me to summarize some of the thoughts from the book:

  • A sniper attempts to reduce the enemy’s fighting ability by striking at high-value targets,  subsequently pinning down and demoralizing the enemy.

  • His goal is maximum disruption to enemy operations.

  • Sniper’s will select and shoot their targets in descending order according to rank.

  • A sniper will identify targets by observing behavior which suggests that others depend on him.

  • A sniper works hard to find the right “hide site” or concealed position that gives him the widest view, best camouflage, and clearest line of sight to the target.

  • A good sniper has profound psychological effect on the enemy by inducing constant stress

  • A sniper usually aims at the chest because he depends on maximum tissue damage, organ trauma, and blood loss to make the kill.

For a sniper, rank is synonymous with influence.  And when it comes to the topic of the church, men, and their capacity to deliver help or harm, Satan is no fool.  In fact, the Bible, from this perspective, chronicles a savvy enemy, laying in wait specifically for men, capitalizing on their ignorance of his proximity and presence to take them down.  Satan wisely sees men as leaders, influencers, and game-changing assets in the kingdom battle. He devotes massive resources to culturally lure, recruit, and use men to execute his evil plans in the world.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around

like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1st Peter 5:8)

May I add these thoughts…..   If you are  fighting I’d recommend taking cover.  The cover you need to take is in God, His Word and His promises.  I’ll strongly suggest you not fight alone… have brothers by your side that “got your back!”  Finally, if you’re not getting shot at….  are  you even in the battle?

Blessed is Best!!

Shared by Chad Hellenthal