Aaron Summers

4 Rights That Make a Left

In Decisions, Gospel Living on September 30, 2014 at 7:44 am

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When I went to college, I decided that I wanted to change a few things about my life.  Namely, my spiritual devotion and connection.  I wanted to set aside the things of the past and move forward.  I began to read my Bible and pray more often that I had.  As I did, I began to have a growing sense of what God wanted me to do, but it was not in y 10 year plan, so I shoved it down.  I continued moving in the direction that I felt would be most beneficial to me and rationalized to God that it would work for Him too.  However, I could not find release from a different opinion from God.

Humanity, I believe has always wanted to raise the next generation to do more, have more, and be more than what they now are.  My folks wanted the best for me.  They raise me to be independent.  They encouraged me to lift my eyes to greater opportunities.  I do the same with my kids.  Who doesn’t?

So, when we have in mind what we want to pursue in life, how do we handle it when God has a different plan? The unsettling nature of God’s call on your life is there to remind us that God has a bigger plan.  Even the Father has a plan for you to do more, have more, and be more.  Take a peek into the life of Nehemiah and then we will discuss more.

Early the following spring, in the month of Nisan, during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was serving the king his wine. I had never before appeared sad in his presence.  So the king asked me, “Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.” Then I was terrified, but I replied, “Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”

Obviously Nehemiah was shaken up.  He had received bad news and was now feeling that God wanted him to get involved.  How can we know when God is wanting us to get involved?

The Right Place

It is easy to self-evaluate poorly.  Who am I?  What can I do?  Why should I get involved?  Isn’t there anyone else?  The reality is that many of you are in the right place from which God can springboard you.  I wanted to be at a different university, but found myself at the right place for God to work.  I was being nurtured in a way that God knew I needed.  The place in which you find yourself might be just the right place from which to start from God’s perspective.

The Right Position

Nehemiah was striving to be a man of God.  He worshipped and developed a relationship with God.  While you can be in the right place, we must also put ourselves in the right position.  When I felt the unsettling move of God for me to change my life’s course, I had a choice.  I could have moved away from God or I could have move closer to Him.  More often than not, people tend to move away from discomfort.  When God is simply trying to get our attention, we blame Him for not having enough happiness in life!  Put yourself in the right position.

The Right Pain

Nehemiah was filled with anguish over the news.  He was terrified of what God wanted him to do and what it would demand.  I sat in Organic Chemistry, the area of study I so wanted to do in life and found myself hating it.  I found myself struggling to make sense of it.  I found myself with a lack of focus and attention.  God can use many ways to get our attention.  Moses had a burning bush.  Abraham has visitors.  We tend to have emotion.  It might be indigestion.  It might be the flu.  It could be depression.  It could also be God trying to get your attention because He has something bigger and better for you.  The crisis you find yourself in might be your own doing. It could also be God’s way of grabbing you so that you are ready for a change.

The Right Plan

Nehemiah went to the King and shared what he felt God wanted.  He was prepared for whatever would come.  Though terrified, he knew it was the right plan.  He did what was necessary in order to follow God.  There is a plan for your life also.  When God comes calling it could be for anything.  Right now in your life there may be an unsettling disturbance.  Maybe you feel out of sorts and confused about tomorrow.  Maybe you just feel lost and without cause or purpose.  Any of these feelings could be God’s way of revealing to you a plan.

For me, it was a vocational decision.  For you, it could be anything!  God is at work and wants us to join Him in that work.  Your part might be vocational, or financial, or volunteerism.  The point is that we will not find our highest joy until we line up and follow God.

3 Critical Calls for Moving Day

In Gospel Living on September 25, 2014 at 10:25 am

moving-home

Moving can be a joyful and stressful!  We are closing on our new home soon and have spent time calling the utility companies to ensure that there will be no interruption of service.  For those who may not know, service does not automatically transfer to new owners.  That convenience would be handy, but a call has to be made in order for service to transfer into the new name.  There is a certain amount of personal information needed to process the request.  In some cases, options are available and a decision has to be made: which service do I want?

As I sat there on the phone with 3 different companies, it dawned on me that transferring service is much like putting your faith in Jesus.

Water/Sewer/Garbage

Before you put faith in Jesus, there is no service in your life.  Water always represents life, both in Scripture and other literature.  Hydration is critical to the vital organs to survive.  Death is the result of lack of water.  Before Jesus you simply had trash and sewer piling up in the backyard of your life.

When you transfer service, Jesus brings life and cleansing.  Through confession and repentance your spiritual sewage and garbage is being handled.  You couldn’t do anything with it, but Jesus can.

Electric

Before you transfer service to Jesus, there is no clean power.  The company you use before Jesus supplies a certain amount, but it is dirty energy and cuts out regularly.  You find the breakers in your life blowing and appliances breaking down because of the inconsistency.  Customer support is useless because they don’t care.  Your climate is unbearable and dark.

When you transfer service, Jesus brings clean power that allows light and climate control again.  His energy is very efficient, able to distribute power to every corner of your life.

Gas

Not every home has this, but ours will.  Providing warmth of air and water.  I stood in a bathroom in Africa where I took a bucket bath with cold water.  Trust me, you want warmth in Texas Panhandle winters!  Before Jesus, life is cold.

When you transfer service, Jesus brings warmth to your life that was absent before.

 

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

 

Have you transferred service?  Do you feel stuck and cannot make a decision?  Make the call and ask God to transfer your service by faith in Jesus today.

Holiness…Practically!

In Life and Culture, Missional on September 24, 2014 at 9:34 am

Practically-Perfect

Mr. Smith taught 9th grade Science for years.  He was former military and had rigid standards by which we all must live.  It was during these years that I was testing every boundary.  Our family had moved to the community the winter before and I was still adjusting to the new surroundings.

We did not get along.

Now, that is not to say he was a bad teacher.  I was a disruption in the class.  I was more concerned about popularity than physical science.  I would sit in the back with Tuck and we would crack jokes.  Well, the joke was on me when the semester grades came out.  I had a “D”.

That was unacceptable.  At that age I did not fully comprehend what that meant.  I pulled it up to a “B” by year’s end, but the damage had already been done.  There was not enough extra credit to make up for my mistakes.  Even though, Smith had mercy there was little grace.

I praise God every day for the grace he provides.  Each and every day of life our standard is Jesus.  We are to be like Jesus.  God said that we are to be holy like He is holy.

Wow!

How can I be holy?  Is it a feeling?  Is there a certificate?  Does Lifeway handout pins?  Wait, what?

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

Romans 12:1

I read this verse and it talks about giving my body to God as a holy sacrifice, which is the true way to worship.  I would rather just show up on Sunday, right?  Couldn’t we work out some kind of plan for practically holy?  I don’t want to be “holier than”, but I do want holiness.

Nehemiah gives us insight.  He was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things.  Because he made the right decisions toward holiness.  Here’s how he did it and you can too!

 

Nehemiah was comfortable, then he became courageous. (*)

Sitting in the summer home of the King was a cushy position.  He worked for the King, but he was more white-collar than blue.  In his comfort he had not considered life any other way or in any other place.  He got up and worked and that was it.  As Nehemiah gave his heart to God his attitude changed.  Nehemiah moved from comfort to courage.  Are there areas of your heart God wishes to adjust from comfort to courage?

Nehemiah was confronted, then he became captivated.(*)

There is nothing like good friends who will tell you what you need to hear!  Hanani came to visit Nehemiah.  Was it social?  Was is business?  Was it political?  Needless to say, he answered Nehemiah’s question forthright.  Nehemiah was confronted with the stark reality of his home.  He became captivated with this knowledge.  He wrestled in his mind night and day over the problems Jerusalem was facing.  As Nehemiah gave his mind to God his awareness changed.  Are there areas of knowledge and reality God wants you to be captivated with today?

Nehemiah cried for the people, then he was called out by God.(*)

As Nehemiah wrestled with this new awareness, he was overrun with emotion.  He cried.  He lost his appetite.  He prayed.  How long has it been since you have shed tears over the realities of your life?  I often wonder if we have been taught to shove it down.  Others make everything dramatic and over sell.  God wants a pliable soul.  During these times of deep prayer and crying out to God, Nehemiah was aware of what he was supposed to do.  God called him out.  What is God calling you out to accomplish?  What is it that keeps you up at night?  Does God want you to be the solution?  Have you asked?

Nehemiah was a cup-bearer, then he became a contractor.(*)

Nehemiah was suited for the position he held.  He did it well.  He did it for God.  Why would he change in the middle of life?  So often we are allowed to navigate through crises in order for us to see the change God desires in our lives.  Blackaby calls it a “crisis of belief”.  Will my belief change my behavior?  God led Nehemiah from being a cup-bearer to the King to being a contractor for a country.  What might God be leading you toward right now?  Like Nehemiah, God can use you to change the world!

 

Nehemiah was an ordinary Jew that would do extraordinary things that changed the world.  He did not do it all perfect, but he tried.  He did not always make the exact right move, but he desired to honor God.  He followed God to the ruins of history and was a part of shaping a more preferred future.  He was practically holy.  Are you?

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