Aaron Summers

Archive for 2017|Yearly archive page

REJECTED!

In Gospel Living on May 18, 2017 at 8:29 pm

High School graduates all over the world are receiving letters of acceptance or rejection for college.  Every day they sift through the mail in hopes of finding that one letter that says “ACCEPTED”.  No one likes to hear “We reviewed your application, but…”  While rejection is a part of life, it doesn’t make it easier to hear.  Today we look at a moment in Jesus’ life where He faced rejection from those who knew Him through His life.  As you live your life following Jesus, not everyone will accept what you believe.  However, we must walk tall and stay strong!

 

Jesus claimed to be the Spirit-Filled Messiah promised by Isaiah. (Luke 4:14-22)

From the viewpoint of the Pharisees Jesus was making a claim they felt He was unworthy to make:  He was the Messiah!  The reference is from Isaiah and was understood to point to the Messiah.  When Jesus said that the scripture had been fulfilled in their sight, the Pharisees could not believe it!  This was the carpenter’s son from Nazareth.  Philip had asked what good could come from Nazareth.  Yet, here stands this man making a claim of Messiah.

From the perspective of the people, they were excited!  Living under Roman physical oppression and Pharisaic religious oppression, the people were ready to be set free.  They were ready to find relief as Jesus was describing.  But that would soon end because Jesus continued to speak truth, which they did not like so much!

Jesus faced rejection from His people, just like the prophets. (Luke 4:23-27)

There are really only 2 dominate views in this world:  God/Bible and anything else.  For some that will read that statement, you experienced a twinge of agitation.  I believe that even those who AGREE with it face that fractional moment of hesitation because everything around us is expressing a different view.  While some will, like us, say that theirs is the only way, most today give room for all faiths and beliefs to find their way to Heaven.  The bumper stickers of “COEXIST” are far more accepted than those that state Jesus is the only way!

As long as Jesus was talking about economic, political, and even spiritual freedom the people were favorable.  When he narrowed the view that HE was the fulfillment they were furious.  As long as we talk about generic good deeds and thoughts we can all get along.  However, when we begin to speak scripture and narrow the view to the point that Jesus is not just the way, but the ONLY way we will not be favored any longer.  It is critical that followers of Jesus understand and accept this as normal.  Too often Christians have not taken root in the soil of scripture deep enough to withstand drought and heat.  They wither and die off because they are not prepared for such harsh conditions.  It is the church’s responsibility to nourish and prepare them.

There is a story about a landscaper that noticed one of the bushes was not growing they way it should in comparison to the others.  One day the workers came to him about it and he did something they could not believe.  He went and beat that bush with a stick.  He absolutely got after it. Winded he sat down while the workers came and inquired.  Some bushes need a difficult moment to wake up and begin to dig down for the water and life.

So it is with us, too.  We pray for the peace.  We pray for the positive.  We pray for the absence of conflict.  However, you will never grow in those conditions.  The difficult times develop you.

Jesus continued His ministry despite His people’s rejection. (Luke 4:28-30)

Sometimes those who know us best are the hardest to believe in our transformation.  They know our history.  They may have shared in our history of which we are not proud.  For them, a simple statement of change will not be enough.  We must be patient and show ourselves true to the cause.

We cannot get down just because those closest to us don’t want to hear.  We cannot quit just because those closest to us bring up our past problems and failures.  Don’t revel in them, but live in the forgiveness of God!  We can shock them when we simply accept what responsibility is ours to own.  Through the difficulty, God can shine.

What Bait Are You Using?

In Evangelism, Gospel Living on May 1, 2017 at 2:39 pm

I remember the Summer of 1982 because that’s when I first learned how to fish.  I had saved up money and purchased a Cardinal reel and an Ugly Stick rod.  We lived in Northern Kentucky at the time and I would go down to the river nearly every day and fish.  One day I went down to the river-fed creek and followed it back into the woods.  I thought I had seen a large fish and was on the hunt.  I began to cast and was not having much luck.  My dad had told me that fishing took a lot of patience…a LOT.  So I just kept casting and coming up empty.

About the time I was ready to give up a man showed up and asked what I was doing.  At first, I was nervous because I didn’t have a license but thought I didn’t have to at my age.  He wasn’t there to check my license.  Instead, he asked where I had learned to fish.  I knew, then, that I was doing something wrong.

YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE RIGHT BAIT.  He came up alongside me with his rods, reels, nets, and tackle box.  I thought I was in the presence of greatness!  He wanted to see what bait I had at the end of the line.  I showed him.  I was using my newest bait and it was beautiful….to me.  The problem was, he explained, was that what was beautiful to me wasn;t to that large mouth bass I was looking for.  In fact, if I wanted to catch crappie it would be great.  But, if I wanted to catch bass I had to use different bait.  He pulled a lure out and showed it to me.  He exchanged my lure for his on my line.  This was the right bait for the particular fish I wanted to catch.

YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE RIGHT TECHNIQUE.  He encouraged me to cast out again.  So I cast the best I could and began to reel in when he stopped me.  He showed me a smoother way to cast.  He also told me that I was reeling in too fast.  Even though fish swim fast, the bait needs to move at a natural speed. I was reeling in so fast that it was useless.  So I cast out again and began to reel in slower.

Then it happened.

There was a bite on the other end.  I pulled back hard and fast.  The man behind me began to laugh as the lure soared over my head and landed on a branch above my head.

YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE RIGHT TEMPO.  I was pulling too fast.  If the fish was just nibbling I scared him and me both.  If the fish was actually gulping the bait I likely ripped the hook through his mouth.  Again, not effective.  The man told me that I want to set the hook instead of yanking it back so hard.  I need to just pop my wrist a little and then wait.  During the reeling in process, I needed to take it slow.  It was a dance.  I would reel in and let out.  All the while, the fish was getting closer to me.

Jesus told Peter to follow Him and he would make him a fisher of men.  He is making us fishers of men too.  We must learn what I did years ago.  We need the right bait to catch a particular fish.  Bass, crappie, cat all like different things.  I needed to bait my hook with what would attract them.  How we present truth does depend on our audience.  The way I speak to a 6-year-old is different from a 16-year-old and is different still for a 46-year-old.  In the same way, our bait will be different based on to whom you speak. Casting and reeling take practice.  So does sharing the Gospel.

Casting and reeling take practice.  So does sharing the Gospel.  We have to work at the process to find the smooth approach.  We want the bait to slip, rather than splashes, in the water.  One is inviting and the other is not.

Be patient.  People will come and go.  Others will nibble.  Others will bite.  In every instance, be patient.

I went home that day with an 8-lb bass.  I have caught many fish since then, but none that big!  Keep fishing my friends.

 

God’s Not Dead and Not to Blame

In Gospel Living on March 30, 2017 at 10:12 am

Newton discovered 3 laws of motion.  Whether you remember those or not, you use them every day.

  1. A body at rest tends to stay at rest until a force acts upon it.  A body in motion tends to stay in motion until a force acts on it.
  2. Force = Mass * Acceleration
  3. For every action, there is an equal and opposite action.

In each of these resides the idea of consequence.  If I want the result of an object to be in motion, then I apply a force to it.  The same if I want something to stop.  Every action has an opposing action.  If I push on a shoebox it “pushes back” in the sense of grip and friction and gravity.  When my force supersedes the force of those forces then the box moves.

We live through these every day.  In fact, you are who you are because of the combined set of choices and events in your life.  You are where you are because of the combined set of choices and events in your life.

We can look through scripture and see this cause/effect:

  1.  Adam and Eve made a choice and had to face the consequence of being banned from Eden.
  2. Cain made a choice to murder and faced the consequence of exile.
  3. Israel made the choice to not cross the Jordan and everyone over 20 died while wondering in the wilderness.
  4. Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it and did not cross to the promised land.

Then the lord said, “I will pardon them as you have requested. But as surely as I live, and as surely as the earth is filled with the lord’s glory, not one of these people will ever enter that land.

— Numbers 14:20-22

Many people believe that when God forgives he should also remove the consequences in their lives.  Look closely at the words of God in the passage above.  He pardoned them, which means the associated guilt is removed.  However, the consequence would remain..

Just because you have placed your faith in Jesus for the first time does not mean that all consequences will be removed from your life.  Many times, God allows them to remain for us to remember.  Jesus told the man who had lain on a mat for 38 years to take his mat with him.  Your cancer, your bankruptcy, your nightmare of a marriage and family are all products of choices you have made.  Those might lessen in time, but things could also get worse before getting better.

What am I suggesting?

There are 3 laws of spiritual motion we must remember.

  1. Law of Covenant.  Once you are in the family of God, you will remain there.  It doesn’t mean God will like every choice you make.  In fact, you will be disciplined in rebellious decisions.  Yet, you will still be in the family.  If you sincerely and honestly placed your faith in the action of Jesus’ death and resurrection as payment for your life then you are in the family and nothing takes you out of the family.
  2. Law of Consequence.  God does not always remove the results of our choices.  The alcoholic still might have liver failure.  The smoker might still get lung cancer.  The years of fighting might still result in a divorce.  Don’t blame God for your problems that you created through choices.  Our issues are our fault, not God’s.  The randomness you feel is simply a chance to trust.  When it doesn’t make sense will you trust Him?
  3. Law of Causality.  The rule here is that the allowance of God does not equal the action of God.  God might allow things to happen, but not be the cause of them.  For example, the argument is that if God really was love then there would be no hate int he world.  If God was really all-powerful He would stop the evil.  If God was really compassionate, then children would not have diseases.  The reality is that humanity is the cause of these terrible, awful, no-good things!  We brought evil into our world and perpetuate it with our choices.  God has given us free agency to make decisions.

With each choice, consider your decision carefully.  God gives wisdom to those who ask.  He provides direction to those who seek His help.  He also lets us fail if that is what we choose.

Choose wisely, my friend.

Who Am I?

In Gospel Living on March 21, 2017 at 12:48 pm

There seems to be a growing media attention toward those who are gender neutral or gender confused.  While on the treadmill the other day, the TV in front of me had the Ellen Show on and I was intrigued with the captioning I was reading.  The person being interviewed desired to be considered gender neutral.

From a Biblical perspective, there is no neutral.  God created them male and female. However, I feel we don’t fully understand the effects of the Fall.  When sin and evil entered, there was more than just a problem with Adam and Eve.  The whole universe “fell” into an evil situation.  With that said, we are now faced with further consequences of this and each generation progresses.

Today we wake up to a world of desired neutrality where some want us to disregard genetics and focus on how we feel.  We are called to be kind and loving in the name of Jesus, but we do not have to agree on this.  May we share the truth IN LOVE as Paul told the Ephesians.  There is no room for hate in this arena, but the design was to be male or female based on body mechanics.  A desire to be someone or something else is a result of the fallen nature of humanity that only Jesus can remedy.

7 Prayers of a Wise Heart

In Gospel Living on February 16, 2017 at 11:28 am

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  1. Lord, purify my mind, my heart, my voice, and my hands. May you bring innocence to my life once again.  Make me holy and right in your sight.  Cause my mind to wander into your presence.  Create in me a clean heart, O Lord.
  2. Lord, free me from anxiety. In the mess in which I live, help me see your path to peace.  Help me to lay my burdens at your feet and then leave it there.  I cannot always fix what is around me, but I can let you fix my heart during the storms.  Create in me a calm heart, O Lord.
  3. Lord, free me from legalism and the hurt it causes others. Help me to see others as you do.  Help me to know the situation before casting judgment and spewing criticism.  Help me be gentle, not lenient, in my dealings with others.  Create in me a considerate heart, O Lord.
  4. Lord, adjust my mind to be open to you. Help me to be willing to listen to your Word and adjust myself to its demands.  Help me to be submissive to your ways and not my own.  Create in me a compliant heart, O Lord.
  5. Lord, may I produce the good, good fruit of mercy to those in need. Help me to see the need.  Help me to meet the need.  Help me to be kind.  Let my actions show concern, even if I don’t feel they deserve it.  Create in me a compassionate heart, O Lord.
  6. Lord, free my judgements from prejudice. Help me to live out the truth that you created all mankind and we are all equally guilty of sin and in need of a Savior.  Help me to see beyond the outside and sense the heart of a person.  Help me to shed the hypocrisy I have clothed my life with by allowing the culture to drive my belief and behavior.  Create in me a consistent heart, O Lord.
  7. Lord, let my life be an open book for all to read and see your great love and life. May I be sincere in my words and deeds.  Help me to be authentic.  Help me be genuine.  As you call me to love, laugh, and live may it be real.  Remove all the fake from my life.  May it be burned off as dross from silver to reach purity once again.  Create in me a committed heart, O Lord.

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

James 3:17-18

Stop Looking At My Container!

In Life and Culture on February 14, 2017 at 1:31 pm

Beautiful senior woman smiling at camera

Miss Mary brought a dish to the church lunches for a long time but recently quit.  No one thought much about it at first.

  • Maybe she wasn’t feeling good.
  • Maybe she was extra busy.
  • Maybe….

The next one arrived and Miss Mary did not bring anything that day either.  Some of the people came to the pastor and asked if he knew what the problem was with Miss Mary not bringing her beautiful dish as always.  They couldn’t imagine what the issue was.  They missed her dish.  They wanted her dish.  He told them that they should go speak to her if they saw it as a problem.

So, Margaret, Sarah, Esther, and Mabel all went over to Miss Mary’s house.  The yard looked fine.  The flowers were blooming.  The porch was clean.  They rang the doorbell and Miss Mary came to the door.  They noted to themselves she seems fine.  Invited in, they went to have some tea.  The house looked fine.  The tea tasted right.

WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM?

They all sat down and meandered around the issue until Miss Mary spoke up.

“You all here to see where my dish has been?”

Trying to fake shock, they all tried to deny it.  Finally, Mabel spoke up and explained that they were just concerned something might be wrong.

“Oh, there is.”, replied Miss Mary.

“Every time there is a church lunch we all bring our dishes.  Some are filled more than others.  Some are more worn than others.  I look down the table and then I listen.  I listen as we all discuss how beautiful someone’s dish is.  I look at the younger woman.  I look at the little girls.  Then it dawned on me.  It’s not about the dish.  It’s about the food.  We comment so much on everyone’s dish or platter or bowl.  But we have stopped talking about the food inside the container.  Ladies, if we are only concerned about the container, we have missed the point.  We don’t gather to evaluate one another’s dishes but to enjoy the food inside.”

At that the ladies were silent.  They knew it to be true.  They all vowed to make a change.

At the next church lunch, they all brought their broken and worn out containers and filled them with beautiful food.  As the little girls came in they made sure to point out how good the food was and that it didn’t matter as much about what it arrived in.  They made sure that the young moms understood that whatever they brought was more important than the container.

That was the most enjoyed meal that little church had eaten in a long time.

Moral: 

We teach our girls that the container is more important than what is inside.  May we stop evaluating the containers and start enjoying the food inside.  There we find joy and health and love.

Gimme a Break!

In Life and Culture on January 30, 2017 at 7:31 am

I was helping out with a boys group on Wednesday nights called Royal Ambassadors.  During the winter months we build pinewood derby cars and race them in February.  A critical part of this process is getting the weight distribution right along with the total weight of the car.  A buddy of mine and I were working in his shop one afternoon when I rediscovered this important truth:  a fresh battery works better than a dead one.  That may not come as a shock to you, but when you forget to put the spare on the charger everything grinds to a halt.  How often do we forget to recharge our batteries for the day, week, or month ahead.  How long has it been since you relaxed?  When was the last vacation?  How long has it been since you read a good book, played with your kids, or slept in?

The concept of re-creation has been smashed together into recreation.  Trust me, there is a big difference.  In our culture today we all find time for recreation.  We play golf, soccer, basketball, and softball.  We party on the weekends to forget the week we just had.  We overspend at the mall because we “owe” it to ourselves.  Our recreation is over-compensating.  The idea of re-creation is that we take a day, or part of one, every week to get in touch with ourselves, our Creator, our purpose, and that which matters in life.  At the end of 6 days of creation God had

  1. Established Balance
  2. Provided Definition
  3. Revealed Priorities
  4. Managed Time
  5. Taught Reproduction
  6. Made Distinctions

Now God “rested” from His creative efforts.  He did not stop existing.  He simply put into play a practice for us all.  He later came to Moses and more firmly stated that 1 day a week was to be set aside as holy.  This principle of re-creating is important because our lives have become on-demand 24/7.  Technology is a beautiful thing in computers and phones.  However, there is a stress that comes with being available all the time.  Some of the stress comes from other people demanding our availability.

I was drilling the holes in the cars to add the weights when the drill quit cutting.  I thought the bit was stuck.  It wasn’t.  I thought the bit was dulled.  It wasn’t.  The battery was out of juice.  Because I did not plan ahead by charging the second battery, I had to stop.  No more work could be done until such a time as the batteries were charged.  That headache, or fatigue, or sickness, or depression, or marital fight might be simply related to our lives running down with no backup battery.  You have to stop and recharge now and then.  Most of our recreation wears us out more. 

Re-Creation is unique in that it charges you mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. How do you re-create?

I Love My Church

In Church, Gospel Living on January 21, 2017 at 11:11 am

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Here are 5 actions and prayers your church needs to become more like what Jesus has envisaged.

God, place in me the desire to love my church in the way YOU see fit.  Father, help me:

  1. To see her be spiritually fit. What do I need to do to be spiritually fit?
  2. To see her function with excellence. What part do you want me to fulfill?
  3. To see her financially stable. Help me reach my tithe and joyfully give more as you lead me.
  4. To know what Jesus finds in her. Am I where I need to be in relationship to you, O Lord?
  5. To see her be a healthy family. Help me to lead in unity and love for our family.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139.

Why Are You Waiting?

In Chrisian Life, Gospel Living on January 9, 2017 at 12:14 pm

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My Dad was 17 when he first felt the call of God to preach.  He delayed that call.  He went to the Air Force.  He married, had a son, and served in the church.  At 40 God awakened him to the reality that he was supposed to be doing something else.  23 years he had been doing good but not best.  23 years of ministry that God could have worked mighty deeds in and through but can never be regained.

The children of Israel listened to the surrounding voices instead of God’s.  They lost 20 years of ministry that the temple could have offered not only to them but the surrounding nations and traders that passed through daily.  Though they worshiped at the altar, it fell short of the total expression.

Friend, to which voice are you listening?

It’s like the story told of an Indian being baptized into Christ. It didn’t take long though for this Indian to fall away. The preacher went to see this Indian and he asked why he had not been faithful in his living. The Indian replied, “It’s like I have two dogs in me and they are constantly fighting each other. One dog is good and one dog is bad and the bad always wins.”

The preacher asked, “Why do you think the bad dog always wins?”

Thinking for while, He answered “I guess I feed him more”

We must feed the voice of God for us to experience victory.

In the last moments before Jesus went back to Heaven, he told the listeners they would be equipped to bear witness to the whole world about the good news.  As they stood staring into the sky, the angels asked, “What are you waiting for?”

God is messaging you.  What are you going to do?

 

Need A Fresh Start?

In Life and Culture on January 3, 2017 at 11:27 am

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This week we all start over!  What does 2017 look like for you?  Do you have any regrets from 2016 that you are interested in fixing or adjusting as we start a new year?

A few regrets we might be facing today:

  • I wish I had lived my life rather than how society told me to live.
  • I wish I had taken more risks.
  • I wish I had taken better care of myself.
  • I wish I had allowed myself to trust.
  • I wish I had touched more lives and inspired more people.
  • I wish I had been a better partner or parent

Like you, I have struggled with some of these myself.  There is HOPE!  God’s Word reveals a moment in a man’s life where a fresh start was provided.

I need one.  Do you?

Here are 3 things to consider from this scripture:

  1.  It’s your choice.  This man had been lying paralyzed on a mat for 38 years.  He couldn’t change anything.  He tried to get into the pool that the legend said could heal him if he were first in once the waters were stirred by an angel.  When he met Jesus everything shifted.  Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be well?”  Until that moment, he was hopeless. But when Jesus came into the picture he had a choice.  Our lives are filled with regrets that create current circumstances about which we feel shame, guilt, humiliation, or disgust.  On your own, there is no resolution that can affect the change you want.  BUT when Jesus comes into view there is hope.  Will you choose to believe Jesus or continue to try on your own?
  2. Have the courage to look beyond your past.  This man had years of hopelessness and failure.  His immediate response was that he would love to be well but could not get to the pool in time.  We often try to handle our problems in isolation.  We might even have people all around but be in isolation.  Jesus showed up and changed the direction of this man’s life.  He can change yours also  The Bible says that this man was instantly healed though he was still lying on the mat.  He had to make a decision.

    So do we.

    What a tragedy this could have been!  This man could have remained on the mat in unbelief, but he chose to look beyond the years of his past and look forward to what could be.  What are you going to do?  We cannot fix our issues on our own, but Jesus can make the necessary changes.  Will you believe Him?

  3.  Learn to be cured.  This man got up, picked up his mat, and walked.  As full of joy as he was, there were those who couldn’t accept this or even celebrate the moment.  Not everyone in your life will understand the commitments you will make.  Not everyone will accept the changes that are affected by your surrendering to Jesus.  However, the strength you need is in Jesus.  We will face confusion and complications at times.  Please remember the joy you had the moment you took that first step of faith and let that drive you to take more steps this week!  Walk past the jeering crowd.  Walk past the naysayers.  Walk in the joy of Jesus!

Change is possible with Jesus.  Are you ready for a fresh start?

This video may give you inspiration in this endeavor.

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