Aaron Summers

Archive for July, 2017|Monthly archive page

Getting Out of the Rut

In Gospel Living on July 27, 2017 at 8:01 am

​I began college in the pre-med program.  My first semester I was carrying 18 hours filled with biology, chemistry, calculus, and more.  I     loved it.  A aprt of chemistry was the lab.  We would all file in, partner up, and begin the assignment.  Some days we mixed chemcicals.  Some days we heated up stuff.  One day, we almost blew up the lab. 

Yet, one thing was always true.  No matter the assignment, the outcome was already known!  You see we weren’t forging new frontiers.  We were learners.  The professor had given us an assignment that had been done hundreds of times before.  He knew what the outcome was.  For us, it was something new.  For him, it was routine.
Life is not like a freshman chemistry lab.  We often get into routines and ruts.  Our problem is that we expect different results!
The definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.”
In 2 Samuel, David has just been crowned King of all Israel. He has been King in Hebron for 7 years.  Now he has come to fulfillment of God’s pronouncement years ago.  He sits on the throne of all Israel.  As is the custom, kings go off to war.  He asked the Lord if he should respond to the Philitine aggression.  God said, “Yes”.  Daivd went and defeated them.
Here’s the tricky part!  It happens again in the same chapter, but this time God directs him differently!!  War was routine.  War was the same.  War had its rules, even in an uncivilized time and place.
Most of us like routine because it brings us comfort.  However, if we are staying in touch with God we can be drawn off of the right path by our own ruts.  Don’t dig in too deep!
Here are 3 things to keep in mind about your path and God’s directives:
1.  Be inquisitive.  Throughout his life, we see a repeated action:  David inquired of the Lord.  Before most decisions, David would askGod what should be done.  Are you?  Are you goin on experience?  What if God wants to go differently?  Are you goin with conventional wisdom?  What if God wants to be unconventional?  Are you basing your tomorrow on yesterday?
2.  Be sensitive.  Everything in David would have said to attack from the front rather than flank around to the side and back.  We must be sensitive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit as we are guided through life.
3.  Be decisive.  God gave David a specific instruction.  When he heard the sound of marching then he was to act.  Too often, we might hear a word from God and understand it, but we are too timid.  We are too fearful.  God has given us a spirit of power not fear; a spirit of strength not timidity.  It does not matter if your friends and family do not understand.  If God has spoken, then act!

In what ways has God directed you in a unique way recently?  Did you follow decisively?

Little White Lies Never Hurt, Right?

In Gospel Living on July 25, 2017 at 8:45 am

​Whenever Billy would complain about walking the bustop that was 100 ft fromthe house, Grandpa would tell the story of how bad it was when he was growing up.  He would walk up hill to and from school!  He had to walk in 3 feet of snow…in September! 

We laugh at this because we know it is absurd.  However, I wonder how often we embellish a story to make a point, or to impress, or to get that job we want, or to save our own skin.

At the end of 1 Samuel we read how King Saul died in battle.  He was wounded and he fell on his sword.  When his assistant saw that he was dead, he fell on his sword also.  When we read the opening chapter of 2 Samuel we see soeone coming in to David and suggesting that Saul was not dead, but mortally wounded, and at the King’s request, he finished the job.  In his hand were the crown and armband.  He wanted David to have them.  When I read that, at first, I thought something was wrong because there are 2 stories here of the same event.  Which was true?

I know that the Bible is truth and does nto contradict itself.  So I began to consider how there could be 2 stories.  It dawned on me that this man must be an opportunist.  He saw what happened and wanted to secure for himself a better position in the new regime!  So he fibbed a little.  He started with the fact that they were dead.  But when pressed by David on HOW he knew this, he lied.  He assumed David wanted Saul dead.  We know this isn’t true because of the times he refused to kill him even when it would have been easy.  This man thought he could tell a white lie, present the crown and armband, and be ushered into the highest of positions under the new king.

Or so he thought.  

The problem with lying is that you have to tell more to cover the others.  Creating a web of lies that mask the original is tedious and exhausting.  When given the chance, tell the truth and trust God to handle it.  Telling the samllest lie will corrupt your integrity and cause a shortfall publicly.  It is not worth it, ever.  Those white lies that got you the job will come back later.  Those white lies in the beginning of the romance will hurt later.  Those white lies are dangerous.

What about those that we tell to salvage someone’s feelings?  The dreaded question of how a dress looks to a husband can be difficult.  I think we should salvage feelings and not be harsh with people.  If you cannot avoid it, then at least be gentle and kind.  The Bible says to speak truth in love.  We had better figure out how to that or we are sunk!

How have telling white lies harmed you over the years?

5 Steps to Fighting Giants

In Gospel Living on July 20, 2017 at 7:04 am

david_v_goliath

His name was Anthony and we were in the fifth grade.  He had already hit his stride in the growth spurt and was already a little older than the rest of us.  Looking back, I know what was happening, but was completely unaware at the time.  All I knew was that he picked on everyone.  He would slap them.  He would hit them.  He would talk smack.  On one particular day, he focused his attention on the smallest boy in the class.  Incensed, I stepped in and let the victim roll out.  I caught him at an awkward moment and jumped on top.  Somehow we ended up under a table.  I raised my hand and hit the table.  This caused just enough pause that the teacher came in.  Needless to say, the office was the next stop. Anthony didn’t mess with us anymore that year.  The giant had been taken down.

David walked up on the army of Israel when Goliath stepped up and shouted.  This was not just a shout against the armies of Israel, but were shouts against the integrity, power, and majesty of God.  He was calling into question the nature of God and the covenant!  David couldn’t stand it and stepped in to do something.  As you might guess, this is the sling and 5 stones story.  David fought the giant and won.

What major issues are you facing right now?  They loom large, weigh heavy, and cause stress, anxiety, or despair.  Maybe it’s a boss who taunts you.  Maybe it’s a spouse, child, or family member that has disappointed or betrayed you.  Maybe you’re dealing with health issues with your parents, or a child is sick.  Financial limitations stress us out and break marriages.

How do we deal with these problems?  Like the Israelites, we feel hopeless to do anything.  We feel that God’s promises are only true for others.  David, though, believed in the covenant.  He trusted in God’s Word.  He made a choice to fight the giant.  Here are 5 steps to victory:

  1. Consider the situation. David got to a point, quickly, that something must be done.  Until you are truly fed up and ready to act you will lose.  You will be trembling in the trenches like David’s brothers.  But, when you get to the point that you are tired of hearing God’s promises taunted, then you will be ready for victory.  The first thing you must do is consider the situation worthy of the fight.  If it is not worth changing then you need to stop letting it control you.  If it is worth changing keep reading.
  2. Have the courage to step out. David wondered, “Why not me? Why not now?”  Are you there?  Once we decide the problem is worth the fight courage is the next step.  Stop waiting for someone, anyone, to handle YOUR problems.  God has allowed them into your space.  Will you trust?  Will you jump off the ledge of fear and grab onto the courage God’s Spirit has planted within you?  Why not you?  Why can’t you be the change you want to see happen?
  3. Count the cost. David felt that the mocking of God was so critically bad that he was willing to die if need be.  He evaluated the situation.  He stepped up to Saul and pronounced he would handle the problem – HIM.  He was the youngest.  He was the smallest.  BUT, he was willing to die for what he believed.  Are you ready to lose if you must?  What if you lose your job?  Do you trust God?  What if you lose your kids or your spouse?  Do you trust God?  What if you DO lose your life which is very possible in parts of our world today?  Do you trust God?  Count this cost.  If you are not willing to pay the price, stop reading now.  If you are ready, keep reading.
  4. Confidence to speak up in prayer. David engaged in this fight in the name of the Lord, for God’s glory.  Read that again.  He was doing this for God’s glory not his own.  He did receive quite a bit, but only because that was not his aim.  If you want the glory just stop.  You may win but it will be very hollow.  Possibly, you will only trade one issue for another.  Self-made confidence is far weaker than spirit-filled confidence.  David had experience and education, but his real strength was in the relationship he had with God.  Go in that confidence.
  5. Cast your stone for victory. David only used one of the five stones he picked up. I don’t know why he picked five, but he did.  What I notice is that it only took one.  God will use your gifts and talents matched with our courage and pure confidence in God to give you victory.  David achieved this victory immediately.  Those in Hebrews 11 did not all see what they fought for come to conquest, but it did.

God demands his glory.  We are put in situations where that can happen if we have the courage and confidence to fight for the conquest.  As was once shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”

GO.

FIGHT.

WIN.

 

Experience Victory Today!

In Gospel Living on July 18, 2017 at 8:50 am

The headlines are filled with the issue in the Senate concerning the failure of the majority leaders to pass just about anything they put up for a vote.  Today is no different with the defeat of replacing the current health system in America.  Now they will go back and try something else, such as just repeal it.  Then they will try to figure out how to care for a nation in need of health care and its reform.

Regardless of where you stand on this issue, we CAN identify with defeat.  We have faced it personally and from a distance.  Maybe you have failed a class, failed a marriage, failed at holding a job.  Maybe you have failed at living for Jesus due to habits that will not seem to go away.  Maybe you watched as others failed, or your sports team failed.

We need a victory!  How can we experience victory?

There is an interesting moment in the Old Testament.  The Ark of God had been returned to Israel after the Philistines decided it wasn’t worth serving God to keep it!  The ark has been in Kiriath-jearim for 20 years.  The people apparently did not realize this in the rest of the nation.  They felt God had abandoned them when it was the people who had walked away from God.  Samuel, the prophet/priest/judge for the people brought to them a prescription.

  • Get rid of idols
  • Dedicate yourselves to God

The people agreed to this and gathered at Mizpah to settle the issue.  Look at what they did while they were there:

  • Poured out water as a symbol of clearing their lives of the wrongs in a sacrificial way.
  • Fasted.
  • Confessed.
  • Burnt Offering.

When the Philistines came up to destroy them, God provided victory!

What is coming at you today, this week, or month?  What seems to be attacking you?

If you are experiencing defeat in an area today, consider reviewing this passage in practicing the principles we find there.

What idols do you have in your life?  Is it time to clear the stage of your heart?

As you dedicate yourself to God alone we will follow the pattern we find in scripture:

  • Give praise to God by showing dependence.
  • Fast.
  • Confess.
  • Sacrifice through worship.
  • Set up a memory to refer to how God moved in your life – celebrate it!

God allows us to go through difficult times, often because we made dumb choices!  But there is hope.  As we allow scripture to intersect our lives we can live out the freedom promised by the Gospel!

The More You Know

In Leadership on July 10, 2017 at 8:24 am

The “More You Know” series of PSA’s were produced for NBC beginning in 1989.  Tom Brokaw did the first one.  Celebrities soon followed.  I grew up with Schoolhouse Rocks on ABC in between my cartoons on Saturday mornings.  The purpose was to educate while also grabbing your attention.  The series on NBC was designed around educational awareness.

The truth is that the more you know, the more responsibility you have.

“I told him that I am gong to judge his family forever because of the iniquity he knows about: his sons are cursing God, and he has not stopped them.” 1 Samuel 3:13 

Eli is the prophet in charge at this time.  He knows his sons are doing wrong.  God certainly knows as well.  The problem is that Eli is doing nothing about the situation.  He has grown older and his sons are doing most of the work at this time.  However, that does remove the responsibility that Eli has.  He is supposed to rein them in and enforce the boundaries God established.  He is not doing this and God is going to render judgment on him and his family.

Knowledge is power.  At least, that is what I learned from Schoolhouse Rock! on Saturday mornings.  However, with that power comes great responsibility.

Whether you are in charge of a project, a people, or just one person, here are a few reminders:

  1.  You likely have an awareness of issues.  As I manage the group I do, there are many things I am aware of that others are not.  So do you.  From your perch, you can see the inner workings of people and the group dynamics of your organization.  Eli knew what his sons were doing.  Either because EVERYONE told him or he saw it himself.  Regardless, he knew.  He was aware.
  2. Your awareness is a call to action.  Years ago, a couple was struggling in their relationship.  I asked the husband to step out of his volunteer role for a brief time so they could focus on their marriage.  In the moment, he was very frustrated with me.  Later, he understood.  Eli chose not to do anything.  God judged him for it.  If you know, then act.
  3. Your action will cause a reaction.  Over the years, I have noticed that Newton’s law operates within the scope of human personality too.  Jim was in a position for which he was not qualified.  I asked him to step down until such a time as he was better suited for the task at hand.  He did, but others just could not understand.  The Bible is clear, but our minds are not.

For those in leadership, we must hold fast to what we have in Scripture.  We use our education and experience to navigate, but our north star must be the scriptures.

Your guidance, O Lord, is true and straight.  May we not look to the left or right but keep our eyes on Jesus, our minds on scripture, and hearts filled with love.  Amen.

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