Aaron Summers

3 Questions to Ask in Your Group

In Leadership, Volunteers on March 3, 2015 at 8:36 am

3Questions

Joel was called upon to teach his class and he struggled with what to say.  He had a lesson provided by the book but he had never taught before.  He didn’t want to just read it because he knew he would hate that if he was in the class when someone else did it.  He didn’t want to say something wrong.  He didn’t want to make a mistake.  What he was feeling is a normal amount of pressure. The Bible tells us that teachers will be judged more harshly than others.

The next time you get in a bind ask these 3 questions.  The next time someone wants to bring up a Scripture passage ask these 3 questions.  These 3 questions get at the root of any Bible story.  The next time you are asked to teach a class and there is no lesson book or guide ask these 3 questions.

Question #1       What do we learn about God in this passage?

You can actually ask three versions of this questions.  I believe in a triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  So, you could ask what you learn about God, or Jesus, or the Spirit.  The heart of this question is to get the group thinking about God.  We all enter class thinking about a LOT of things unrelated to God.  Once the discussion gets going during study time this is a great opening question after the story/scripture is taught.  Move the hearts of your people toward God.

Question #2       What do we learn about ourselves in the passage?

Scripture has an uncanny way of piercing the internal areas of our lives, those private thoughts and actions.  Because God wants an intimate relationship with us, His Word lays us open so that all can be seen.  This type of intimacy breeds integrity, authenticity, and honesty.  Asking your group to share what this reveals about humanity, namely, themselves, creates bonds of friendship and family in your group.  However, it also helps us remember that reading and studying scripture is not solely academic.  We need to allow scripture to penetrate our mood swings, our anxieties, and our pride.

Question #3       What are we going to do about what we have learned?

If we just learn about God and His Word if fall short.  If we just have a support group feel where everyone shares we fall short.  Putting what we learn into practice is a vital component of any lesson.  Allow time in your group for this important question.  We must take God’s Word and put it into action.  Encourage your people to think personally.  Of course, there are those moments when the passage speaks to the group.  The group as a unit needs to act.  Yet, that group has individuals and each need to take responsible action.

These 3 questions are not the only things you can ask your group, but they do create a stir of discussion.  Some may wonder if this is “deep” enough for a group setting.  If your people walked away from class or study group with the knowledge of God and His Word, a greater awareness of themselves from God’s view, and the encouragement to act, they would be equipped for their walk with Christ.

5 Things That Are Killing US

In Life and Culture on February 23, 2015 at 10:09 am

Killing America

America is in a free-fall.

Remember when Maverick lost control of his plane?  He relied on himself so much that he never thought about ever not being in control.  He lost his partner and friend.  He nearly lost his own career and life in the process.

How did we get here?  How did we get to this moment of free-fall?  We rely on the wrong things.  As individuals we rely on the wrong things.  It makes sense that collectively, our nation is also relying on the wrong things.  Here are 5 things that are killing us more as we rely on them too much.

  1. Technology – I use it every day.  I have my phone, my computer, my tablet, and the computer chips in my car.  I am not going off the grid any time soon, but I am saying that we rely on tech more than we probably should.  The skills we once had have been replaced by technology so that we are becoming enslaved to it.  Boys don’t fix their cars anymore.  Couples don’t talk, they text.  I think an entire generation of men would explode if we turned off Fox News, while another would explode if cell phones were down for a while.  Just the other day our internet at the office was acting cranky and you would have thought the world had stopped spinning.  For those who want to look poorly upon the gamers, please stop playing Words, Clash of Clans, Trivia Crack, and Candy Crush, especially the Soda edition. That which was supposed to bring us luxury and ease often just complicates and divides.
  2. Money – We can’t live without it, I get it.  However, we do throw money at problems way too often.  If our spouses are unhappy we throw money at the problem.  If our children are whining we throw money at the problem.  We let money bring us a sense of peace.  If our accounts are full we feel satisfied.  If our government cannot balance the budget, we just print more money.  If we can’t pay our bills we charge it, unless you are the government then you just print more money.  At some point this will all crash.  The what?
  3. Government – During the depression there was such high unemployment that something had to be done.  Programs were developed.  Work was developed under the WPA and CCC programs.  Assistance was granted.  However, the citizens were never weaned off of this milk and taught to eat solid food.  Now we have millions of Americans who make more sitting at home that many who work.  Our reliance on the government to fix all of our problems is ridiculous.  Govern and parent are different.  The government is here to guide us, not suckle us on the bottle of everyone else’s effort.
  4. Media – we believe just about anything Fox News or CNN tells us depending on our political bent.  These days, solid research is not being done.  Like the boy who wrote an entire research paper using Wikipedia as a resource.  We believe so much, especially if it is 140 characters or less.  Everyone who has a computer and an internet connection is considered a journalist these days. Just because a few moms want to bring back “Black Death” does not mean we should all reject getting immunizations for our children.
  5. Personal Ability – While I treasure the pioneering spirit and the desire to accomplish bred by our culture, we are not the end-all of everything.  We cannot do it all.  We have limits.  We have faults.  We have weaknesses.  This insane belief that we can have it all, do it all, and be everything rings hollow when graduates are not finding jobs, families are broken, kids are raising themselves, and only a few are making ends meet.

What can be done?  What needs to be done?  The Psalmist wrote:

Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory—for all its strength, it cannot save you. But the lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine. We put our hope in the lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, lord, for our hope is in you alone.

 Psalm 33

The warhorses of tech, money, government, media, and humanism will fail.  America, as unit, is rejecting Jesus.  He alone has the ability to move mountains, nations, economies, and hearts.  Stop counting on our warhorses and starting fearing God and following Jesus.  With Him, whom shall I fear?

 

Sitting in Ashes May Save Your Life

In Gospel Living, Life and Culture on February 18, 2015 at 7:11 am

ashwednesday

The annual service on Ash Wednesday usually concludes with one receiving an ash cross on the forehead or hand, depending on the faith tradition you follow.  Ash Wednesday is not in the Bible, but the use of ashes is common.  In Biblical times people would sit in ashes as a sign of humility, sorrow, and repentance of sin.  The act of doing this did not remove their sin, but it was an outward symbol of the contrition of their heart and desire to receive God’s mercy.  While you see this in a national sense, such as Nineveh, you also see it personally in the life of Job.  In His rebuke of a few towns, Jesus mentions that others towns in history would have responded with sackcloth and ashes instead of disrespect.

Ash Wednesday is 40 days, not counting Sundays, before Easter.  The number 40 has a long history in scripture.

40 days of the flood
40 days spying the Promised Land
40 years in wilderness for lack of faith
40 days of temptation for Jesus

What do we do on Ash Wednesday?  Isn’t this just some Catholic thing?  I have been asked that on several occasions.  Actually many denominations that follow a litany will have an Ash Wednesday service.  So why would anyone else?  Let’s look at the process of this type of service and how it can benefit our lives.  During the service you would hear from scripture, such as Psalm 106 to remind us of our sin and need to confess and be purified by God.  This particular Psalm recounts the mighty acts of God and the forgetfulness of humanity about those mighty acts.  After recounting Israel’s history, the Psalm closes like this:

47 Save us, Yahweh our God,
and gather us from the nations,
so that we may give thanks to Your holy name
and rejoice in Your praise.

48 May Yahweh, the God of Israel, be praised
from everlasting to everlasting.
Let all the people say, “Amen!”
Hallelujah!

Psalm 106

Now, what if we were to recount our personal history of how God provided and protected?  What if we were to annually remember the mightiness of God and the forgetfulness of ourselves?  In those moments, we would confess to God how we have sinned, repent of that sin, and turn back to God.  As a reminder, we would be encouraged to “give up” something until Easter as a sign of sincerity.  This sign would also serve as a reminder to us of our decision to repent and walk with God.  Obviously we are not to proclaim publicly what our decision would be.  Jesus clearly teaches on this as Matthew 6 records for us.

Ash Wednesday can be very helpful in our relationship with God because it encourages a spiritual catharsis.  Whatever we continue to harbor in our lives raises the spiritual toxin level.  Empty yourself before God and allow His Spirit to fill you.

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