Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘choices’

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.

Letting Comfort Trump Your Calling

In Gospel Living on August 4, 2016 at 10:28 am

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Pastor Brandon and Sarah, with little Rachel, had answered the call to New Hope.  He packed up and brought his family to the new town and church to invest his ministry into the lives of those in this sleepy suburb.  Located right off the 490 just a few miles from downtown, this quaint place offered so much of what he and his wife had been looking for.  After a couple of years, they had their second baby, Thomas, and life was awesome!  Their house was full but enough for the needs.  They had done quite a bit of painting and making the house their own.  The church was experiencing growth and a fresh input of families.  The energy in worship was catching and the community was enjoying the presence of the church and her pastor.  They loved what God had done for them and were quite satisfied with the life given them.

Then God spoke.

It wasn’t so much an audible voice as it was an internal nudge.  Brandon thought it was just the ministry culture urging him to move on and he ignored the feeling.  The nudge became more prominent and Sarah began to feel it too.

What is he supposed to do now?

Why would God be speaking right now?

What in the world could be going on?

He knew they didn’t make loads of money, but they were satisfied.  They love their community.  They loved their church.  They were happy.

They had grown comfortable.

In the book of Ezra we find him leading a group back to Jerusalem.  The nation has been exiled to Babylon for a number of years.  Now, they were being allowed to return to do the work of restoration to the temple, the city, and their covenant relationship with God.  A peculiar verse popped up this morning as I read,

15I assembled the exiles at the Ahava Canal, and we camped there for three days while I went over the lists of the people and the priests who had arrived. I found that not one Levite had volunteered to come along.

Ezra double-checked his list and reviewed those who had accompanied him on the journey. Why had none of the Levites joined them?

A rabbinic legend says that there were Levites in the group but that none were qualified to carry out temple duties, for they had all bitten off the fingers of their right hands so the Babylonians could not force them to play temple music on their harps. Nevertheless, we should not be surprised that no Levites were in the group of returnees. No doubt a certain amount of prosperity in Babylon and the kind of servile work assigned to Levites did not make it easy to recruit them to return to Jerusalem.[1]

Whether the legend was true or not about them biting off their fingers, the comfort and satisfaction of being in Babylon was a real problem.  The Levites, those whom God has chosen to work in the temple, found it more satisfying where they were than where God wanted them.

Pastor Brandon had to deal with this very issue.  He had to reconcile his feelings with God’s future.

How about you?

Is God calling you to something else?  Is God being heard through the noise of convenience and comfort?  It is too easy these days to stay where we are, even if it is not the best situation, because it is what we have grown accustomed to in our lives.  Let us shake off the shackles that hold us back from serving our great God!

[1] Breneman, M. (1993). Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (electronic ed., Vol. 10, p. 140). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Why Not Running Beast Mode Should Be Important to You

In Life and Culture on February 2, 2015 at 7:20 am

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There was less than a minute to go and the Hawks were on the 1 yard line.  Marshawn Lynch is basically unstoppable from this distance.  Down by 4 and a touchdown is required.  On second down, the Seahawks chose to….PASS?  Wait.  What?  Why in the world would you pass on 2nd down from the 1 when you have Beast Mode, aka Lynch, in the backfield?  Wilson threw an interception and Tom Brady and Bill Belichick raised the Lombardi Trophy.

Why is this important to you?  Because it goes on all around us every day and I believe it goes unnoticed and unchecked most of the time.  How?  Here are 5 moments when not doing the obvious can cause you to lose.

Moment #1  When the promotion is based on politics rather than productivity.

Being politically correct makes many decisions these days and so do politics.  Every organization has their fair share.  The employee keeps getting raises and promotion due to length of tenure more than productiveness.  The promotion goes to the candidate who can grease the wheel more than the one who should be promoted.  Avoid the in-game fight and just run the obvious – Beast Mode.

Moment #2  When the hire is based on gender or nepotism rather than the best candidate.

You have a position that has become vacant.  You post it on Monster and ZipRecruiter and the resumes begin pouring in to the office.  The obvious choice is to choose the best qualified candidate who fits into the vision, direction, and necessary responsibilities.  Yet, when we decide one gender is unfit are we really being objective?  When we decide that the boss’ child will get the position and gathering resumes is just a process we pass rather than run.

Moment #3  When evaluation and accountability isn’t engaged because it doesn’t feel right.

Pete Carroll said that they did not want to run against their goal line defense.  How is that working for you while you watch Tom Brady lift the trophy?  Do what is obvious and right.  When we do not hold our employees to a standard with accountability we are not doing anybody any good.

Moment #4  When you refuse to address issues with your child because you did the same things as a kid yourself.

This goes something like this, “I drank in High School how could I tell my kids not to?”  Or, “I used drugs and slept around so I don’t feel I have the right to tell my kids not to?”  This is probably the most dangerous moment because it affects the next generation or two.  You have every responsibility to instruct them.  Don’t pass.  Run!

Moment #5  When you say “Yes” because “No” is harder.

We like to live dangerous, I suppose.  We say “Yes” to so many awful things just because “No” is harder.   We say “Yes” to seconds and desert.  We say “Yes” to the couch because working out is too hard.  We say “Yes” to websites, interludes, and sexting though we know we shouldn’t.  Marriages and families have been devastated simply because we didn’t run beast mode and we passed on the obvious!

Making the right choices at the right times makes all the difference.  Choose wisely!

There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.  Proverbs 14:12

Why Should I Own Up To It?

In Decisions, Life and Culture on January 6, 2015 at 8:00 am

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There is an epidemic in our country that seems to have infected everybody.  No, it’s not Flu A.  It’s not Flu B.  It is not a new parasite, though it does have similar effects.  This ethic-wrenching, moral-decaying sickness is the inability to own up for your decisions.

We’re all susceptible.  We’ve all been infected at one time or another.  We give a reason for a choice that’s not really the reason.  Instead of just owning up to the fact you don’t want to do something, you come up with another reason that feels and sounds plausible but is not.  The old saying is that “You can fool some of the people some of the time but not all the people all the time.”

  • We use tragedy. Who has used the “My grandma died” routine?  One guy had several grandmas die in the same month.  He did not have a job the next.  We play on the emotion of those in leadership to do what we want rather than what we are supposed to do.
  • We use circumstances. The car broke down.  The road is too slick.  The air is too heavy.  The planets are in the wrong alignment.  The dog ate my homework.  We don’t feel like we can argue the point.
  • We use sickness. We put the thermometer on the light bulb.  We sniff and cough when we call in “sick”.  We do the Ferris Bueller.
  • We use family. The baby is sick.  The babysitter didn’t show.  We opt out because we would rather be fishing, at the ballpark, or snuggled up with your honey.

Instead of owning our decisions and the consequences, we try to get around the rules.  We know our decision is bogus but we have been fed a huge portion of humanism.  In other words, what we believe right for us at that moment supersedes law, order, and social/moral/ethical/personal responsibility.  We have been infected with the understanding that owning up to decisions is ridiculous.  We blame others for our issues.  We lie in order to do what we want.  We divert attention away in order to claim innocence.

Adam said it was the woman.  Eve said it was the snake.  Ultimately they both were blaming God!  They did not want to face the consequences and shifted focus.  Cain wanted the short cut.  Abram lied about Sarai. David killed Uriah.  The story goes on.  Each time, God wanted them to just own their decision.  Obviously, He wants us to make better choices, but when we do make a poor one just own it.

  • Own up to your choices because it keeps us honest.  One lie leads to another.  A worker was sent off on a small delivery that would not take long.  He returned 3 hours later.  He complained about the traffic and the van.  It was the ice cream stain gave it away, though.
  • Own up to your choices because they were YOUR choices.  (This would really turn humanism on its head if we actually just owned up and took responsibility.)
  • Own up to your choices because it is a sign of maturity.
  • Own up to your choices because every one of them caused one man to die – Jesus.

Take back your life.  Own it.

Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.  – Jesus

Matthew 5:38

Which Dog Are You Going To Feed?

In Decisions, Direction on June 1, 2013 at 7:40 am

dogfoodBo lived out in the country and loved it. He would get up early every Summer morning grab his fishing pole and head to the creek. His mother wouldn’t see him until he got hungry which didn’t usually take to long. When he wasn’t jumping hay bales, he was burning ants, climbing trees, or going on some adventure with his dog Max

One morning he was putting out food for his dog when strange one stepped out from the shadows. Startled, Bo dropped the food and stepped back. He had not seen this dog before. By the look of him, he had not been fed for a while. Snarling and growling the two dogs lowered their heads, pinned their ears back and two stared at each other for what seemed like eternity. Bo left the food and walked away that day.

After a few days, the black dog warmed up to the new environment and did not growl as often. Bo was able to feed without problem. However the two dogs never did seem to get along no matter what Bo did. The black dog had a look in his eye that would scare Bo now and then. He named him Malus. The name just came to him.

Returning from an adventure with Max, he found Malus. Honestly, Bo wondered if Malus found him. He was not in the usual spot and was angry. His lips raised to show teeth. He bark was mean and loud and that terrified Bo. Max stiffened and prepared to attack. Bo brought some food out and the two quieted down. Unsure of what to make of it, Bo went in to eat.

Days turned to weeks and the heat of Summer kept rising. Bo discovered that Malus wasn’t that bad as long as Max wasn’t around. It seemed the two dogs would never become friends. Bo’s Dad came out one day and asked Bo a question.

“Which dog are you going to keep?”

Bo wanted them both. He like the adventures with both Max and Malus. He had started going out one day with Max and the next with Malus. The stories he would tell at school were going to be epic! He could never take them both. Now his Dad was asking him to choose. Choose? Why did he have to choose? Why couldn’t he continue with this plan? Why couldn’t he keep both? As he struggled with this question, he fell asleep. The next morning, he awoke as the sun filled his room. He threw on some clothes and went outside. Coming to the backside of the barn he heard something strange. The dogs were fighting again. Bo just did not understand why they couldn’t get along. He had to admit that he noticed both wanted his attention. Everyday he would come and pick one to go out for the day. How was he going to choose? Would he choose Max, the one who had loved him his whole life? Would he choose Malus, the strange new dog who had a mean streak? Would he choose Max, who had been his faithful friend? Would he choose Malus, who would try to pick a fight?

In each one us lies two dogs. You will either love the one and hate the other or serve the one and not the other. You cannot live with both. Like Bo, you must choose which dog you will feed. The Apostle Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia.

 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Which dog will you feed today?

Party Cloudy with a Chance of Grace

In Decisions on April 23, 2013 at 1:58 pm

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My kids had ball practice yesterday and it was 75 degrees and sunny. We have prayed for the season to start.  The evenings of ball games and sunflower seeds are quickly approaching and I love this time of year.  Coming out of the winter slump, the ability to stretch our legs and throw a ball is enjoyed by many.

Today it is 37 degrees and raining.  We have been in a drought…a severe drought.  Churches all over the state have prayed for rain.  The last couple of weeks have provided much-needed moisture but with a freeze warning now in place it is just crazy!  Spring started a month ago!

What’s the problem?  We have prayed for two things to happen.  We just didn’t want them to happen at the same time!  How often does that happen to you?  You have prayed for two things that really do not coexist well and God grants both? God challenges us sometimes with choices.  The wants and needs of our lives can counteract one another.  You pray for more money and a better relationship with your family.  Now a job offer comes but it is out-of-town or travels a lot.  You have prayed for your marriage to strengthen and for your business to flourish.  You have been praying about a relationship and college.  You get answers to both but they are not in same state?  You pray about personal holiness and a job promotion.  The money is awesome but comes with ethical strings.  What happens if you must choose one?  How will you choose?

How do we choose between wants and needs?  How often do we simply try to have it all?  Just like we can’t have rain and baseball together you cannot have your cake and eat it also.  There are choices we must make everyday.  God promises us our needs will be met, not our wants.  It is on us to choose carefully at times what to praise God for what to be frustrated with God for in our prayers.  Here is what you do:

  • Take a breath.
  • Review what is important.
  • Read scripture.
  • Ask God.
  • Choose the need to praise God for today.
  • Ask for grace about the want.

You never know, the sun may break through just in time and God allows both.  You’ll never know until we humble ourselves in the sight of God. Life may be partly cloudy but there is always a chance for grace!

***

Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.  James 4:10

***

Backfired!

In Church, Decisions, Direction, Faithfulness, Jesus, Leadership, Uncategorized on October 1, 2012 at 7:33 am

The men met in a back room one evening after everyone had left.  They were discussing the future of the head coach.  The years since he had arrived had been difficult.  Everyone expected growth and development of the program.  Instead, they struggled to even maintain what they had.  Some were frustrated, others disappointed, and felt it was time for a change.  When the coach arrived the excitement was hard to contain.  After the first couple of years, the dreams began to fade.  Instead of pulling together, the people and support were pulling apart.  When there was no winning season, the demand for leadership change grew.  On this night decisions were being forged that would change the state of the program and the coach.  Those involved in the meeting were determined to see a change in leadership, but they didn’t know God was preparing to do something wonderful. (Facing the Giants)

This plan backfired.

In Matthew 26, Jesus was not performing in the way some expected the Messiah to perform.  The expectations had been fantastic.  The Messiah had arrived.  He would make the Romans exit the country and reestablish Israel as a world power.  He would dominate the political and military arenas.  The excitement was contagious.  However, Jesus came with a different plan.  He came to establish a spiritual dominance more than a political or militaristic one.  Judas was fed up.  He had a secret meeting with the Pharisees and became their puppet.  He would betray Jesus.  The Pharisees thought this would be a fool-proof plan.  Judas, many think, believed he was forcing the hand of Jesus causing Him to rise up.

This plan backfired.

Have you ever thought were doing the right thing only to find the plan backfired?  Here are a few thoughts to help you.

1.  Is your plan based on circumstances?  Sometimes we desire to see change but it has nothing to do with the person.  The circumstances are not what we expected.  Instead of examining the root issue, it is easier to pin the problem on the current leadership.

2.  Is your plan based on comfort? Judas received 30 pieces of silver.  The men thought they would receive honor and glory.  What is it that you believe to receive with the plan you are considering or enacting?

3.  Is your plan a complaint or a cause?  If you have a complaint or particular issue then the biblical response is to approach the problem not circumvent it.  According to Scripture, you are to go and attempt to resolve the problem.  If that doesn’t work then take 2-3 with you.  After that doesn’t work then take up a cause.  However, if it is a complaint right now, go and talk to the person first.

4.  Is your plan Christlike?  Finally, we must make sure that what we are planning and praying mimics the ideals of Jesus.  Are the attitudes reflecting Jesus?  Are we being above board or behind the scenes. Is the way we are treating those involved reflecting the values of Jesus?

May we desire the best for all involved in the pleasure, pain and progress of following Jesus.  He desires to bless us, not have life backfire on us.

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