Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘believe’

Does God Really Care?

In Grief, Journey, Trust on March 18, 2014 at 10:10 am

God-Care-300x273There are those days when God seems so far away.  The distance appears to be insurmountable and the evidence is clear in our hearts, though our minds disagree, that God might not care.  We shudder to say such words.  We desperately want them to not be true.  We need them to not be true.  Facebook spirituality posts that God cares.  Instagram is filled with nice pastoral pictures and quotes of how much God cares.  The preacher talks of God’s love.

How did we get here?  How did we get to the place of thinking God doesn’t care?  How did the distance between us become so great?

The Obvious

There are two obvious things that can cause a feeling of distance.

No Relationship – How could you be close to someone with whom you have no relationship.  Many people think they know God but do not.  If a random child asks me for something versus my child asking me for something, my responses will likely be different because of the relationship.  I do not always give my child what he wants, but the relationship can make a difference.

Sin – Every wrong choice adds more height to the wall that separates.  The unrelated child that acts poorly really has no chance of getting a positive response from me.  If my child acts poorly, then a response is coming but not always a pleasant one.  Sin causes friction in a relationship.  Just because I discipline my children does not negate the relationship.  On the contrary, I discipline because I care for them and do not want them to continue down a wrong path.

The Subtle

In John 11, we find a display of Jesus that is hard for us to imagine.  If He had the power to save a life, why not do it right away?  Instead, He waited 2 days.  Imagine how the sisters felt.  Their brother has died and Jesus is not even there.  In fact, he had been dead 4 days before He arrives on the scene.  Mary and Martha are both upset.  Why?  The possibilities for them are the same for us.

Manipulating God – We find distance when we try to coerce God into doing something.  We use Bible terms like “God is Healer” or “The Great Physician” to demand of God that he brings a person back to a state of health we want.  We use Bible terms like “Cattle on a 1000 hills” to demand of God he provide in a financial way, even if the problem is our poor money habits.  We might even pull Hebrew on God like “Jehovah Jireh”, which means the one who provides, to try to manipulate God with scripture.

Pre-Conceived Ideas – The classic reason we find distance between us and God and entertain the notion He does not really care is that God did not answer in the way we wanted.  While this is closely related to manipulation, it is different in that we already have the answer we want and are waiting for God to do it that way.  Mary and Martha faced this issue.  They were ticked because Jesus did not arrive when beckoned.  They had a preconceived idea of what would happen.  When that did not go the way they planned, they were frustrated.  Been there?

Short-Sighted PlansJesus knew exactly what was needed, though the sisters and His disciples could not.  The 12 could only see the dangers, while Jesus saw the blessings.  The sisters could only see the death and burial, while Jesus could see the raising of the dead.  God has a perfect plan that is always in play.  When we try to change, adjust, manipulate, or manage a different plan we are going to become frustrated.  The only plan that brings peace is the one that God is putting into place.  When we come to terms with our short-sighted ability and accept God’s plan we will find peace once again.

God Does Care

When we are in crisis it is hard to see the bigger picture, but God already has a plan.  When a tragedy strikes, it is hard to see the good, but God already has a plan.  For those who have a developing relationship with God, things work out in the way they should.  Looking back on life, I find nuggets of gold in emotional spots I never thought possible at the time.  I find stashes of strength and courage because of my past that helps me now, though I did not see it then.  God does care if you take the time to trust and obey His Word and plan.

If You Just Believe

In Faith, Life and Culture on December 5, 2013 at 9:42 am

“You have everything you need, if you just believe.”

That’s really the issue isn’t it?  Will I believe?  In regards to Christianity, will I accept what has been recorded in Scripture?

The struggle to believe in God, Jesus, and Scripture is not unique to our moment. In John 6 we find another moment in the life and times of Jesus with his disciples.  This time He wants them to examine their level of belief.  He knows where they are, but they usually do not.  God knows what you think and believe even if you keep it off social media!  The question is whether you really know what you believe.  The disciples were being ushered into a crisis of belief and the test was being distributed.  Let’s peek into this situation:

After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias.  A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick.  Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him.  (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.)  Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked,  “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?”    He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money  to feed them!”

Philip was all grown-up right?  He was practical.  He was reasonable.  He lived in the reality of the situation.  He reminds me of a few 6th grade boys that asked me when the world was going to end.  I replied “When God decides for it to end.”  I received blank stares and one giggle.  I was then told that the world would end in a few million years because the sun was going to die.  I pulled out my best child theology thought and helped them understand that God will make the final decision.

  1. God will make the world end before the sun dies.
  2. God will use the sun dying as the catalyst for the end of the world.
  3. God will replace the sun and we won’t know it.

My belief is not just in reason and science.  I believe in the God of wonders beyond our galaxy.  What are they teaching kids these days? 😉

Philip was the rational one who saw numbers, noses, dollars and dimes.  He added it all up and concluded there was not a feasible way to feed the people.  How about you?  What is your tendency?  What is your nature?  Jesus wants you to believe in Him.

Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up.  “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”

Andrew is closer.  He wants to believe but the evidence seems to be overloading his system.  He wants to believe, but the older wiser Philip has suggested it to be impossible.  How would it look now?  When Jesus asked the question, Andrew looked around and found a boy with a lunch.  Philip put quill to parchment.  Just as Andrew was bringing the boy up, Philip speaks.  Jesus, who I am sure did not roll His eyes but secretly wanted to, then looked hopefully over to Andrew.  The boy and the lunch are presented.  The hope is alive.  The believe not yet dashed.  Jesus is excited.  Then Andrew drops the bomb and negates all progress he was making at that  moment.  Have had one of these Andrew moments?

  • God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, but what good does that do me now with these bills?
  • God is the great physician, but Momma is just so sick.
  • God is just a prayer away, but does He really care about this?
  • God is the great redeemer of His people, but can he really help me out of this problem?
  • God has a plan for my life, but what can he really do with me?

All of these start out right and stop short of belief.  Jesus enacted this moment to have the guys check their level of belief.

  • Are you Philip the skeptic and realist?
  • Are you Andrew the “stop short” guy?
  • Are you the dreamer who just believes?

How much your life could change if you would only just believe!  You have everything you need, if you just believe.

We’ll See

In Chrisian Life, Commitment, Faith on July 1, 2013 at 9:35 am

He came in quickly asking about the latest movie that all his friends had seen.  “Can we see it?”, he anxiously asked.  His eyes had that look of desperation.  You could tell that this was something that had been discussed among everyone.  The pleading and begging started.  Dad answered, “We’ll see.”

She had just run in from a girl’s night and asked if she could get her belly button pierced.  The thought crossed her Mom’s mind that at least that wasn’t a nose ring or something worse and responded, “We’ll see.”

I find myself using that statement often these days!  With two kids, I am getting a lot of questions that get answered in the same way!  Though they might not believe it that statement does not always mean “No.”  Sometimes it does.  However, many times it depends on the attitude received and actions seen over the next few hours that determines the final outcome.  My wife and I have taken the position on extra-curricular activities that we wait to see if the topic is brought up more than once.  Our kids come home with notes nearly everyday.  Sifting through it all and examining the calendar gets difficult.  Each will run in and desire to do whatever the note is presenting.  Often we never hear of it again.  Our answer tends to be, “We’ll see.”  The more it comes up in conversation the more consideration it receives.  The final decision is not made because of nagging but what is in the best interest of them and fits within the scope and plan of our raising children in a culture set against Christ.

I am currently facing a particular challenge and am waiting on God.  I have done all that I can on my end but the answer has not come.  I have prayed.  I have cried.  I have begged.  I have pleaded.  There is no resolution yet.  It is as if God has said, “We’ll see.”

Has God ever given you that answer?

He believed in God, who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist. 18 He believed, hoping against hope, so that he became the father of many nations according to what had been spoken: So will your descendants be. 19 He considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about 100 years old) and also considered the deadness of Sarah’s womb, without weakening in the faith. 20 He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

Every day, every month, every year, Abraham would go to God and ask if it was time for the promise to be fulfilled.  God would say, “We’ll see.”  God knew when it would be the right time.  God had a plan and would not waver from that plan.  Abraham had to settle with waiting.

Are you waiting on God?  Have you begged for help? Or healing? Or a child?  Do you feel God has responded with “We’ll see.”?

Believe in God.  It all starts here.  Do we believe in the provision and power of Christ?  Do we believe that God can do all that He has promised?  Belief is not an automatic action.  We must choose to believe and often in the face of extreme challenges.  Abraham was getting old and Sarah was barren.  Your predicament is a calamity.  Your grief is deep.  Your unemployment is imminent.  Will you believe that God’s plan is best?  Will you believe that God’s power is certain?  Will you believe?

Do not waver.  The imagery Scripture gives here is like tall grass.  When grass is short it does not blow in the wind.  As time passes, the grass gets taller and will begin to blow with the wind.  As time passes on the needs of our lives it becomes easier to be like that tall grass.  We can blow with the winds of impatience, infidelity, and faulty instruction.  In these moments we must stand firm in the Word of God.  Stay focused on Scripture more than societal trends.  Talk to the Father more than Facebook.

Give glory to God.  Worship is a vital part of sticking with the plan and purpose of God.  Corporate and private worship is like finding water in a desert.  Waiting creates a parched spirituality unless we give thanks and glory regularly.

Attitude makes all the difference.  Will everything work out?  Yes.  Will it happen just like you desire?  We’ll see.

I Triple Dog Dare You

In Chrisian Life, Church, Decisions on May 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm

That is really one of the greatest scenes!  Flick answers the call to the triple-dog-dare!  I have been on both ends of that kind of dare before, haven’t you?  As we get older it seems that we forget about such things.  We move away from the double and triple-dog-dares, but the challenges are still present.  We are dared everyday with respect to many items.  In adult talk, and especially church adult talk, we like to use the term “temptation”.  I am not sure why we use this term except that we find it in scripture.  However, to consider Jesus being double-dog-dared to eat bread is more dramatic!

What are we dared to do?

  • to trust my wits over God’s
  • to keep the tithe to pay medical bills
  • to spend more time with family and less time with God
  • to believe just once will be OK
  • to rationalize my behavior as being right even though it makes me sick when I do
  • to trust humanity more than God
  • to seek satisfaction outside of marriage
  • to quit
  • to gamble
  • to earn Heaven

We are all dared on so many levels every day.  These kinds of dares come from evil and will take us down the path of destruction.  Like Flick, we feel trapped at times.  We are not sure how to respond.  The pressure of those around us and our pride within us have joined forces.  Not sure of how to escape, we act.

***

Summer is just around the corner and that means for many Vacation Bible School.  For me, we are going to Colossal Coaster World where we will be dared to do many things.  These dares come from God and will lead us down a path of strength and stability.  Here are 5 things we will be dared to do but we can start anytime.

1.  Dare to Change – Acts 9:1-18

In Acts 9:1-18 we encounter a life changing moment for 2 people. Saul was breathing threats and incarcerating people for believing in Jesus and practicing “The Way”. Ananias was minding his own business trying not to be thrown into prison. In one day both lives would be altered. God came to each of them in a way required to get their attention. God sometimes uses the fantastic to get our attention. Saul was blinded by a light and spoken to by God. He was dared to make changes. Ananias lived in fear. He was dared to make changes. Saul’s entire education was be flipped on its head. Ananias’ fear would be challenged to become focused courage. God changes us in ways we cannot completely fathom. What is God daring you to change in your life?

2.  Dare to Speak Up –  Acts 9:20-30

Saul was transformed from breathing threats to sharing the Gospel. Not everyone understood or believed in him. He was trying to do the right thing but his reputation preceded him. He could have given up and shut up but instead he faced his fears head on and kept sharing the message of the Messiah everyday. Escaping for his life he went to Jerusalem. The believers there were skeptical at best also. Barnabas dared to speak up on behalf of Saul. He told the story and encouraged the people to give God’s grace a chance with Saul.

3.  Dare to Believe – Acts 16:16-34

As we approach this passage of scripture belief is the key component. Paul believed that change was an available option for slave girl and later for themselves. Paul believed that God could change the slave girl and free her from divination. No matter how far she had gone into that world, Paul believed God could free her. When he and Silas were in prison, the sang praises because they knew God could free them. Even though they were shackled in prison, they had belief. The jailor believed that God could save him by faith in Jesus Christ. They believed in spite of the challenges of politics and personal difficulties.  What are you being dared to believe?

4.  Dare to Stand Strong – Acts 21:27-23:11

The apostle Paul was seized under false charges and his life was in danger. The courts heard the accusations but determined that there was nothing to them. The crowds began to cry out for Paul to be killed. In that moment, Paul asked if he could speak. What was he going to say? With the great spin doctors of our modern politics we might imagine many ways Paul could spin his situation. What Paul did next was daring. He began to share his testimony and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many in the crowds and Sanhedrin despised what he had to say but God encouraged him with these words:

Have courage! For you have testified about Me in Jerusalem,

so you must also testify about me in Rome.

In no small way, God told him he was being salvaged from the judicial wreckage in Jerusalem, but also being sent to Rome. Because he stood strong for the truth, God was sparing his very life. What truth needs you to stand strong?

5.  Dare to  Trust – Acts 27

When you call on Jesus Christ, all of Heaven rises to meet that need because we do not have a pile of rocks but a risen Savior we can trust. We can trust Him with out financial problems, our relationship nightmares, and our physical ailments. We can trust Him with our spouses and with our kids. We can trust Him when things change and when they do not. We can trust Him during the songs we know and the ones we don’t. We can trust Him when things wrong and when they work. We trust God and in doing so we reveal to those around us the peace of God that accompanies trust.  I dare you to trust God in every way for every thing!

I triple-dog-dare you!

Is Hope Dead?

In Decisions, Family, Grief, Trust on April 17, 2013 at 8:50 am

there__s__always_hope__by_this_is_the_life2905-d3hmcmu

Is hope a simple-minded myth?

In just a 24 hour period I experienced an earthquake, read the news about the Boston bombings, talked with someone whose parent is dying and discovered another marriage crumbling.  How do we cope?  How do we handle the stress?  To whom do we turn?  Too often we turn to the couch of a physician, the doctor’s office for pills, the bed of another, or the bottle to ease the pain.  Why wouldn’t we?  Someone planted bombs in a marathon to maim and destroy the lives of hundreds, if not thousands.  The one who has nurtured you your whole life lies in a bed waiting, and possibly planning, on dying.  The marriage that outwardly seems to be so wonderful is rotting from within.  It is no wonder that we pop pills and drink ourselves to that uncaring oblivion.  We must find a way to ease this pain we feel.  We are determined to replace pain with pleasure, hurt with happiness.

Why hope?  It seems to do no good.

I would expect many to feel this way who have never tasted the goodness of God or have been hurt by those who represent God.  Trust and hope are tied together in a neat little package that some wish were separated.  How can I hope for something where there is no trust?  How can I hope the bombings and killings will stop without trust in the government’s ability to handle or control this situation?  How can I hope for healing when I cannot trust that God will do what I want?  How can there be hope in a marriage where trust left years ago?  Hope is fleeting.  Hope is failing.  Hope is futile and for the simple-minded.  We realists live above this unnecessary emotion right?  Logic wins in that world, but love loses.

We hope because it raises our vision from today to tomorrow.  We hope because the pain of the past is replaced with a promise of a preferred future.  We hope because down deep we still know that God is bigger than us.  God has our best interests in mind even though our feelings claim fault.  We hope because that is all we have.  Hope brings warmth.  Hope brings vision.  Hope raises the spirit.  Though all else seems to fail, believe there is hope.

Believe.  Hope.  Pray.  Live.

1 Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish: 2 I called to the Lord in my distress,and He answered me. (Jonah 2)

 

Say What?!?

In Decisions, Direction, Trust, Uncategorized on October 30, 2012 at 11:31 am

Have you ever had that reaction?  When someone made some remark about you and you thought, “Whaaaaat?”  Maybe you heard something in class or at work or over lunch that struck you as odd, weird, or just plain wrong.  We often react the way the minion did.

Recorded in the book of Acts is the growth of the early church.  People from all over the world were coming to faith in Jesus.  The power of the Holy Spirit was manifested more during that time than maybe any other.  The innocence and passion of the first believers magnified the Spirit in their lives.  So much so, that Peter’s shadow healed people.  Paul’s apron healed people.  The fame of these men spread and soon others wanted in on the action.

11 God was performing unusual miracles through Paul. 12 Even handkerchiefs and aprons he had used were taken to the sick, and their diseases were driven away, and the evil spirits would go out of them. 13Some Jews who traveled around and drove out evil spirits also tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus to do this. They said to the evil spirits, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches.” 14Seven brothers, who were the sons of a Jewish High Priest named Sceva, were doing this. 15But the evil spirit said to them, “I know Jesus, and I know about Paul; but you—who are you?”

Those demons knew these sons of Sceva were out of their league.  It was as if the demons said, “Whaaaaat?”  What they heard was such nonsense.  They knew Jesus.  They recognized Paul.  These men they did not know.

How often do we go around trying to be someone else?  The clothes, makeup, speech patterns, words, and more we choose often is a result of wanting to be someone else.  We are unhappy with ourselves for some reason and attempt to be someone else.  Maybe they are richer or more famous.  Maybe we believe they like themselves more and we want to emulate that position.  Regardless, we need to be who we are designed to be.  These men were trying to be someone else and it caused them great embarrassment and harm.  They were trying to look and act like Paul.  They were not Paul.  They were not believers.  They were users and haters.

  • Believe it – God made you special.  God loves you as you are not when you try to be someone else.
  • Sacrifice it – Give your life to God by faith in Jesus unlocking your full potential.
  • Own it – By faith you have been forgiven.  You have received the Holy Spirit.  You are a child of God.
  • Live it – Following Christ is like fulfilling the dream you never thought was possible.

Have a great day being you!

 

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