Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

4 Choices That Put You on the Naughty List

In Life and Culture on December 18, 2014 at 3:46 pm

naughty_list

With just a few days left until Christmas, I will soon find myself in a pile of wrapping paper, tape, boxes, and bags.  Do you find it hard to keep Jesus the main thing at Christmas?  I think we all struggle.  December has become the busiest time of year: purchases, packages, office parties, school functions, kids/grandkids, family responsibilities, and travel plans.  If you tack on any colds or flu then Christmas can be a headache!  As you finish up your shopping and begin to hit the road, consider these 4 naughty list items to avoid this year and 1 nice choice.

Naughty Choice #1 – We make it external.

Never has there been as much behavioral change as there is from Black Friday on!  We all want to keep the floodgates open.  However, when it come to the heart behind the season, let us not forget that important emotion – Love.  Love is the reason we celebrate.  Love is the reason we can act this way.  Let this season mean something.  Let the gift exchanges mean something to you.  Let Christmas soften your heart. The Pharisees were well-known for their outward appearance but inward stain.

Naughty Choice #2 – We make it professional.

I often remind my kids that Christmas is not only about the money they will get from different people in their lives.  While that may be a reality, it becomes more than sport at times!  Those in retail have to face you people each day.  As a result, it becomes easy to be jaded.  Others will give so they will receive.  When we make Christmas more about the quality of the LOOK of the gift we walk dangerously close to this naughty line.  Christmas is not business.  Christmas is the heart of God spilling out into the world through the coos of a baby boy.  Christmas is not just a time to make double wages.  Christmas is family and love.  The Scribes missed Jesus because they were too busy working and making money.

Naughty Choice #3 – We make it secular.

I am calling for a bit of moderation from ends of this spectrum.  While some would ban Santa and claim him to be Satan (Just rearrange the letters), others embrace him in idolatry.  I answered this here.  I mention this only that Christmas has become big business and we can get caught up in the Griswold phenomenon that is lights, trees, and a show.  We make it all about us and the entertainment of it all.  We love the magic, lights, and joy but forget the real issues.  The Sadducees were all about the culture.  They missed Jesus because He wasn’t “cultural” enough.

Naughty Choice # 4 – We make it political.

Like baseball, Christmas is a national pastime.  We have our traditions, right or wrong.  My family makes cookies on Christmas Eve, plays games, and watches Polar Express.  We have done this since the movie premiered.  This will make our 10th year.  You have your own traditions that you cling to dearly.  Our traditions are coming under fire.  Every year we see fights and litigation about using Christmas in phrases.  If my saying Merry Christmas offends you, too bad.  The ENTIRE point of this holiday is to celebrate Christ!  However, if believers would put Christ back into their Christianity we wouldn’t have this mess.  The Essenes missed Jesus because they were too caught up in the political minutia to see Him.

Nice Choice – Make it relational.

Born out of a desire to have a relationship with humanity, Jesus was conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit.  God and humanity are separated by sin and those naughty choices.  But in His love for you, He gave His only Son to fulfill the requirements of the law once for all.  God did that for you.  He gave His all.  What have you given Him?  He wants a loving, lasting relationship with you.  Making Christmas relational means to focus on family more than stressing out over the food.  Being relational means to seek forgiveness and redemption more than long-held grudges and angst.  Being relational could mean spending a little less money and a little more time.  You may think you can buy their affection now, but it will not last.  Simeon and Anna saw Jesus because they were thinking relationally.  Are you?

 

America: Broke or Broken?

In Life and Culture, Money on April 15, 2014 at 8:26 am

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We live in very difficult and desperate times. We have a governing body that is more at odds than ever before, save that time we revolted against a foreign king in the late 18th century. Well, come to think of it, maybe not as bad as it was in the late 19th century when the country split as did families over a variety of issues. We might be more “civil” about it now, but there are many fronts being fought today.

As we each sign our 1040’s and State Forms, our money goes with it. As a follower of Christ, I know it is my duty to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s”, but do I have to like it? I suppose I should like it since it gives me freedoms I would not have in other locations around the world. Yet, I don’t.

I know that our country cannot function without revenue. I also know that we spend beyond our means. We throw money at world problems while our own go hungry. We throw money at those who refuse to work or even try. We pay farmers to not farm, but 15% of America has no food to eat. Our government seems to think money is like Doritos….go ahead we will make more! I am certain that the leadership has no idea what it feels like to really be middle- or lower-income.

Fast Cash and Quick Loans operations offer short-term solutions with long-term problems. When we pay debt by getting more debt we have a problem. When we are paying our utility bill with a credit card we have a problem. When the family has phones but no food we have a problem. Our people are going broke and our government is broken.

Is America broke or broken? I would say both.

As we pray for and pay to our country today, here are a few thoughts:

  • Pay your taxes with joy, knowing you still live in the greatest country in the world.
  • Pray that our leadership will be more concerned about its people than its politics.
  • Pray that our leadership will be more concerned for farm production than foreign policy.
  • Pray that our leadership will be more concerned with rebuilding than re-election.
  • Pray for Christians to transform our culture.

See you in line at the Post Office.

Give to everyone what you owe them:
Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them,
and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.

Romans 13:7

A Made Man

In Chrisian Life, Men on April 10, 2014 at 9:00 am

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Whether it was the Corleone Family or Soprano Family, we have become well acquainted with the term “Made Man”. Once a guy has been known for a certain length of time and has accomplished the required initiation tasks he can be brought in as a made man. In other words, the family has watched this guy to see if he is a proper fit based on character and conduct. If he has been seen as proper then he can be brought in and be a “friend of ours” rather than just a “friend of mine”.

The criminal element of the mafia obviously does not jive with my belief of what character and conduct ought to be. However, just like the “family” is making men as they see fit, God is making men as He sees fit. A made man of God will have biblical character, an involvement in community and church, and be known as a man of faith in Christ.

Man of Character

My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying. Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation. Trust in the lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:1-6)

Man of Community and Church

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Man of Christ

But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. (1 Corinthians 15:10)

When does a boy become a man? The law says 18. May we as men of God raise up boys at home, in church, on the ball field/court, golf course, or on the farm that become made men of God as well. We must teach boys the need for these elements to be in their life. Our modelling of them will be of great encouragement. Be a maker of men as you lead boys to Christ, to honorable character, and service to the church and community.  If we don’t make them a friend of ours they will become a friend of theirs.  Let’s go men!

Trap Doors, Secret Entrances, and Other Myths

In Faith on December 12, 2013 at 7:00 am

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The other night I stepped out of the Wednesday night class (4th-6th Grade) I help and took care of some issues in another area.  When I returned they were facing the other way and enthralled in the Bible story.  One of kids looked around and nearly fell out of his chair because I had, in his mind, just appeared.

One other time, the kids were involved in an activity and some turned around and were startled because I had, in their estimation, just appeared.  They wondered from where I had come.  Of course, I did not give them a straight answer.  Instead, I said, “Through a magic portal.”

They did not believe me and neither do you.  However, there are other fantastic myths and sayings we hang out hearts on every day.  Some are myths, others are superstitions.  There was one guy quoted to have said at a party Jesus attended that Messiah would just appear.

“For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.”    — John 7:27

Really?  The Messiah was just going to appear?

  1.  Jacob said that the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah.  Genesis 49:10
  2. Jeremiah said that the Messiah would be a descendent of David and he came from Bethlehem.  Jeremiah 23:5
  3. Micah said that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem.  Micah 5:1-2

Even if you negate the first 2, Micah says that Bethlehem would provide the Messiah.  When Herod was asked about this “new king”, the advisors said that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.  They were quoting Micah.  So it was widely acknowledged that Bethlehem would be the birthplace.

So how could this guy say that Jesus would magically appear?  Because the truth had been adjusted or misunderstood.  Like the game telegraph we played as kids.  The phrase you started with was never the phrase you ended with because of how it changed as it was told.

Other myths and magically delicious things believed that are not supported in Scripture are:

  1.  God will never give you more than you can handle.  This is a favorite of so many people, but it is not true.  The actual verse represented is 1 Corinthians 10:13 which deals with God not forcing you to sin.  God will not allow a temptation so great that you have no choice but to sin.  He will, however, allow much more than you handle.
  2. A Christian home guarantees a godly child.  Of course this comes from Proverbs 22:6 which talks about training up a child.  There have many a Christian home with god-fearing parents who have rebellious kids.  Being a pastor’s kid, I learned it all from the deacon’s kids!  It just goes to prove that there is no guarantee because it is a personal decision to follow Jesus.  Teach and train and a child and that training will not leave them, but embracing that training is their choice.
  3. I can do everything because of Jesus Christ.  This comes from Philippians 4:13.  This sounds good and even quotes the scripture.  The problem comes in application.  I am a slow, fat, white boy and will never dunk a ball or even have a massive crossover that breaks ankles like Derrick Rose.  No matter how much I believe I can or pray that I would be able.  I cannot dunk a basketball.  However, everything that God wants me to do in His Will I can do because of the strength Christ gives me.

We must be careful when considering trap doors and super-secret spiritual shortcuts.  Take the Scripture honestly and in context.  There is much to be amazed with in the Bible and we are to read it for all its worth.  Let’s not read into it more than it says, but take out from it all that it does say.

This Means War

In Life and Culture on December 3, 2013 at 9:19 am


I, and many others, have felt this way from time to time.  Maybe it is an old habit you can’t shake.  Maybe it is a sin you can’t stop.  Maybe an addiction/obsession you can’t quit.  Maybe a resolution you broke by Valentine’s Day.  The feeling of defeat is like being unable to take a breath.  There is a truth to be learned: when you want to do good, evil is right there too.  Don’t become paranoid.  However, we must understand that Satan will always be giving you the option, the temptation, to choose evil again.  Especially when you want to choose good, moral, and right things.  Nehemiah left his luxury to attend to the needs of his hometown.  He lamented in the ruins of Jerusalem and was determined by God to rebuild the city.  God wanted this done because the time of exile was almost up and the Israelites needed a place to go.  Nehemiah took the challenge and was obedient to God.  Immediately, there was opposition.

When you want to follow Christ, do not be fooled.  The Devil uses a variety of tactics to keep you from obedience.  In Nehemiah, we find different ways the opposition tried to get Nehemiah to quit.  He did not.  Let’s look at this together.

Ridicule – two men from the region came and began to make fun of what the people were doing.  When you want to choose right, there will be those who make fun of you.  They will say hurtful things in front of other people trying to embarrass you into falling back into old patterns.  Nehemiah prayed.

Threats – these same men threatened them with attack. Threats can be real.  Threats can turn into action.  Mostly, threats are made to attempt to paralyze you.  Nehemiah instructed the people to pray, watch, and work.  It is important that you do not ignore the threats, but also do not stop working your plan toward righteous behavior.

Deceit – a letter was sent to Nehemiah asking him to meet in a particular spot.  Often, we will be faced with people trying to deceive us.  These two wanted to kill Nehemiah.  They figured that without him everything would stop.  If you become so fixated on doing the right thing that you forget the higher purpose to which you were called, you will soon find yourself tired and guilty once again.  Nehemiah did not entertain them.  He stay focused on the job at hand.  You must stay focused on what God has called you to do and developing your relationship with Him.

Lies – There is not to see, but a lot to hear can be a description of many small towns.  The awful part is that when you try to do the right thing those who do not like it will resort to lies.  I have found myself in this spot a time or two, haven’t you?  People will just lie.  Nehemiah denied the allegations and refused to debate the issue with them.  Often we try to exonerate ourselves by debating with the opposition.  Actually, this just fuels their fire because of the attention-seeking disorder many have.  Deny the lie and move on.

Whatever you may be facing, prayer and focus are the answer.  Nehemiah prayed.  He stay focused.  He kept working.  If you are not facing a challenge right now, just wait.  If you are never facing challenges, you might want to evaluate who you are serving.  Your best protection against the enemy is faith in God’s strength and personal integrity.

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,  neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:37-39

Overcomer

In Life and Culture on December 2, 2013 at 11:55 am


So many people I know are struggling!

  • Weight/Body Image
  • Marriage
  • Finances
  • Addictions
  • Obsessions
  • Grief
  • Loss

It is very likely that you, or someone close to you, is struggling with one or more of these  issues.  In my life I have struggled with grief, loss, and sometimes weight control.  In my circle of friends, I have struggled with someone in all of these areas.  It is amazing that such a short list can encompass so many.  How do we become an overcomer?

When we  have lived our lives dependent on someone or something for our identity, image, or self-worth we will struggle.  When we are asked to give it up we can become upset.  The triteness of “just quit” cuts deeply.  In the life of Jesus we find a moment, an interaction, that will help  us define and decide to move forward.  Overcoming addiction, dependency, emotional baggage, and more is possible.

1.  Is your life right now what you want it to be?  Jesus asked the man at the pool if he wanted to be made well.  It seems like a ridiculous question.  Yet, if I am not in a position to admit my need for help I will not find it.  Many of us might answer this question with “NO!”, but fail to act on that understanding.  We continue to wallow in the pain.  We continue to satisfy the obsession/addiction with unhealthy options.  This man had been on a mat for 38 years.  His life was not what he wanted, but he did not have a solution until Jesus offered one.  He wanted to be made well, but did not have the ability to do so himself.  Until we come to a point of acceptance in our inability, we cannot find the joy of Jesus’ ability.

2.  Have the courage to look beyond your past.  Jesus told the man to stand and walk.  You tried diets.  You have tried therapy.  You might have even done rehab.  What I am suggesting is not spiritual rhetoric.  The point is that Jesus healed the man the moment he spoke.  This guy had to look past the 38  years and have believe.  The man could have chosen to remain on the mat, logically concluding that nothing happened.  He could have added up all the years and not believed in the word of Jesus.  Overcoming your current obstacle begins with admitting the problem, but cannot move forward until we believe in what Jesus can, and has already, done!

3.  Embrace what you  have.  This man got up and walked away.  Look at this again.  He got up and walked away!  The same guy who had been lying there for 38 years now got up and walked away.  he had not worked for 38 years.  He had not, probably, seen his family for 38 years.  He was stepping back into society physically as an adult, but socially as a child.  When we break through the obstacles before, and within, us there will moments of rediscovery.  You will not have all the confidence.  You will not have it all together.  Embrace what you do have: a deepening love and relationship with Jesus.

4.  Not everyone will understand.  People will find a problem.  Friends will still have painful memories that you are trying to get beyond.  Family might be distant.  You might hear things like, “You can’t possibly think you can stay clean and sober.”, or “You will never have a normal family life again.”  Two boys were walking to school when they noticed they were about to be late, which was severely unacceptable.  One boy suggests they stop and pray that they would not be late.  The other one suggests running as fast as possible and pray along the way.  Prayer and work go together.  Faith and action go together.  Nobody else has lived your life.  Nobody else knows the decision to trust in Jesus that you have made like you do.

Overcoming the obstacles we face in life is never easy.  Those obstacles are filled with pain, pride, grief, and tragedy.  However, Jesus offered this man a new life.  He offers you one as well.  These steps to overcoming are a great beginning point.  For further understanding feel free to comment or contact me.

Keeping the Faith

In Faith, Life and Culture on November 26, 2013 at 10:40 am

LeapOfFaith

From Billy Joel to Bon Jovi to the Box Office we have been encouraged to keep the faith.  Billy Joel reminisces about an earlier time.  The video sets him on trial to determine whether he is keeping true to his music, youthful morality, and the message he is sending.  He summarizes his argument in the song stating that, indeed, he had “bad boy” tendencies and had no reason to stop.  Bon Jovi, in this 1992 release, marks a different tone for him and from the Billy Joel argument.  Bon Jovi seems to be seeking a change in his life, though there is no real power in it.  He seems to want to keep the faith, whatever that is defined as, in that which he had been taught as a child.  He is frustrated with societal trends but offers no solution.  In the movie, Keeping the Faith, the writer deals with religion and romance.  He juxtaposes the two and works it out through the 128 minutes.

What does the Bible say about keeping the faith?

There is an interesting dialogue that occurs in John 4.  In this passage, Jesus is thirsty and wants some water.  Unknown to her, the woman at the well is thirsty too.  Through this conversation and the ensuing ones, we see how faith develops and strengthens.  Here are the stages of faith from this episode in Jesus’ ministry.

Scared – The woman has been raised with a certain fear and loathing of Jews.  Being a woman of a certain mind, she also has a problem with men and the way she is treated.  Jesus begins with a simple request that is culturally acceptable and conversationally allowed.  Her response shows that faith and fear are intertwined for a time in everyone’s life.  The moment that you choose to let faith be stronger than fear is the same moment you can move forward.

Skeptical – Jesus talks of water but has no bucket.  She begins to question His sanity, though He is questioning her spirituality!  So often, people move from scared to skeptical.  Fear lingers.  Faith and reason have often been set in opposition.  For some, many questions must be answered before they are ready to move forward.  A recent report reveals that for those raised in church, 85% make a faith decision before 18 if raised in church.  For those not raised in church, obviously they come to Christ must older and in fewer numbers.  Tragedy and transition mark the best times for people and faith.  May we be as patient as Jesus was in this moment.

Saving – Through this conversation, the woman accepts that Jesus is the Messiah.  What does this mean?  It means that she realized and readily accepted that He was to be the ruler of the world and her own life.  She turned away from leading her own life and turned to Jesus.  She left her old lifestyle and forged a faithful new one under the leadership of Jesus.  Have you done this in your life?

Sharing – The woman runs back to town in excitement to tell everyone she knew about the great news she had just received and believed.  Many people believe because of her testimony.  What if she had not shared?  What if she had simply enjoyed the personal moment and kept it private?  What if she has compartmentalized her life and never let others know?  She could not help but share.  The joy and relief she felt was so overwhelming she HAD to tell someone else.  Do you feel this way?  Why or why not?

Secured – The people of the community listen and believe for themselves based on the testimony of the woman.  They believed in Jesus, not the woman, and were excited also.  However, they wanted something the woman had…time with Jesus.  They made their way out and met Jesus.  As a result, they were more secured in their faith.  The woman moved to this point earlier.  Now the others would say they believe more firmly. There is nothing like meeting Jesus!

You might resonate with one or more of these progressive points.  Maybe you are near the top of the list and still wondering.  You are reading this because you know me, or because you found it on a search engine and something led you to stop.  Others of you might have a saving faith but are not sharing it or feel secured.  So many people I know are shaky because they have believed but have ridden the coattails of parents or grandparents.  It is possible that the shaky ones are riding the faith carpet of their teacher or pastor.  Let me encourage you to read the Gospel of John and meet Jesus!  Get secure and keep the faith!

Taking Your 15 Minutes

In Life and Culture on November 20, 2013 at 10:55 am

15minutes

What can be done in 15 minutes?  Forbes Magazine gives us some options:

  • Decide what not to do on your to-do list
  • Blast through paperwork, or any other dreaded item
  • Acknowledge someone else
  • Choose tomorrow’s first task
  • Get feedback

What about your 15 minutes of fame?  When you are given that moment to shine how will you handle it?  When God provides you with the most awesome task how much would you sacrifice for it?  When the timer goes off, though, how will you handle that transition?

15 minutes goes fast.
And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.”  John 3:26

The temptation to increase is always present.  John’s people came to him with a deep concern.  Everyone is going over there!  We are losing people!  Something must be done if you want to maintain your popularity.  We often hear of people having 15 minutes of fame.  What will you do with yours?  Have you had yours yet?  Would you recognize it if you did?  John wanted to do God’s Will.  When the time came for him to begin preaching, he did with gusto!  However, in the back of his mind he knew that this was not forever.  There would come a time when this fame passed.  If he relied on this for his identity and worth he would face depression afterward.  Often people enter retirement and face depression.  Because their life worth is based on the glory men gave more than the glory God gives.  When the lights go out and the paparazzi leave, God is what you needed and need.

When the lights go out.
John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.”  John 3:27

John understood that all he had was from God.  He was given a platform and he used it properly.  John’s 15 minutes was part of a larger process of God’s plan.  15 minutes is only a portion of the 1440 in a day.  In the same way your fame will not last, but it is not designed to last.  In God’s economy of time he gives you what is necessary to promote His plan.  For a time the spotlight might rest on your, but then it is gone.  John did not trouble himself with these concerns.  He answered the call when it came and now he was prepared to move on to other work as God desired.  When we make it about ourselves we might answer differently than John.  When it is about ourselves, we clamor for the camera.  We seek the glad-handing and pats on the back.  We get angry when someone else gets the glory.  John knew God’s plan was more important.  He reveled in helping that plan more than his popularity.

Transition with grace.
You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’  The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.”  John 3:28-29

John knew that God’s light was moving to Jesus.  Instead of getting upset, he transitions with grace.  His role was complete and now it was time for someone else to be up front.   How are you faring in transition?  You might be the next big thing.  You might be on the downhill side.  The way you transition makes all the difference in your joy and the development of other people’s faith.  When we submit to God’s plan then we begin to realize our lives are more like a relay than a sprint.  We are to receive, run, and pass the baton.  We eagerly wait for the baton to come.  We run hard.  We cannot run forever.  There is one who waits like we did.  We must give the baton and then cheer them on.  Most organizations I know wrestle with this issue.  Leadership finds it hard to transition and then cheer them on.

Cheering on the next person.
He must increase, but I must decrease.”  John 3:30

John did not try to manipulate the situation.  He did not try to make a power play against Jesus.  He did not look over his shoulder and tell Jesus how to do it better.  He did not tell Him that locusts and honey was the only approach to this position.  Can you imagine that?  He let go but he did not quit.  He supported Jesus.  John kept on doing what God wanted.  Too often, those who transition out then complain about how things are being done now or, worse, they just quit.  We need cheering on.  We need people to keep functioning.

Where do you find yourself in this process?  Are you John?  Are you the ones worried about where the people are going?  Have you transitioned?  Are you doing it with grace or grumbles?  May each of us be ready when God calls.  May we run hard the race we are designed to run.  May we, with grace, cheer on those who follow us.

Dress Barn Refugees

In Life and Culture on November 14, 2013 at 4:26 pm

dressbarnrefugee

From all corners of America  and even the world, these refugees find themselves huddled together.  The mass is filled with all kinds: tall, short, fat, slim, hairy, bald, bearded, smooth, old, young, and more.  This group is a microcosm of the world at large.  There is just one glaring fact that you cannot get beyond.  There is one thing that raises a concern.

They are all men.

These men and some boys randomly walk through tool shops and sit on benches like zombies waiting for the women in their lives to finish at Dress Barn.  They show their man card at the door and walk down the street to Tool Town, Black & Decker, or Bass Pro.  Here they feel more comfortable.  Power tools, fishing rods, guns, ammo, and camo feels like home.  They are aliens and strangers in that other land. This reminds me of a verse.

Dear friends, I warn you as temporary residents and
foreigners keep away from worldly desires
that wage war against your very souls.
–1 Peter 2:11

These men feel, naturally, like followers of Christ ought to feel in this world.  These men feel a little uncomfortable.  Even those who will stay and help carry stuff and nod approvingly still would prefer to be somewhere else.  Whether they admit this or not is irrelevant.  There is discomfort because they are in a place where they are thinking of being someplace else.  They are the Dress Barn Refugees.

As followers of Christ we should feel uncomfortable in this world.  There should be a feeling of awkwardness.  There should be a feeling of discomfort.  We are aliens and strangers in this world.  We can dream of being someplace else.  We can desire to move on.  We can learn to deal with our surroundings and be helpful.  However, this is not our spot.  We are just refugees waiting to go home.  Please be careful to not get sucked in to spaces and situations that will harm you, embarrass you, or kill your integrity.  You will not be treated fairly here.  You will not be fully accepted here.  Remember that this is temporary.

Being a refugee is not always fun or inviting.  This status describes us but does have to define us.  Work hard.  Be kind.  We will soon go home.

Raising Kids Like a Boss

In Life and Culture, Uncategorized on November 12, 2013 at 7:37 am

dad-and-baby

Raising kids today is one of the most difficult challenges any adult must face.  Everyone likes to joke about the first year of marriage being so hard, but it pales in comparison to raising children.  Every generation of parents will say the same thing.  Kids have harder choices now than when we were kids.  I agree with this assessment in part, but every one has temptation to sin.  The options for sin just adjust over time.  In this culture today, how can we make sure that our toddlers, tweens, teens, and 20-somethings will navigate the choppy cultural waters?

Raising kids like a boss takes courage, commitment, and a cultural awareness. We must have the courage to love, not legalize, our kids into a better way of living.  I am NOT suggesting that consequences be extracted.  My wife and I have boundaries, expectations, and consequences.  What I am saying is that if, as a parent, my only interaction with them is about rules and regulations, then I am going to lose them to a culture that has tolerance as its high priority.  I must love them into a better way of behaving.  Let your relationship with them be the driving force when they are away from you.

Raising kids like a boss takes commitment.  You and your spouse must be committed to God, to each other, and to training for the long haul.  Kids can sniff out lack of authenticity like a lion tracking its prey.  They will spot it and pounce on it.  We, as parents, cannot be on and off depending on our mood.  This only creates confusion.  It does not matter if I am tired, or cranky, or angry.  There will never be a time that they are not your kids.  They will likely not be a time when they do not want/need your input.  So, this is a 40-60 year commitment.  Be prepared.

Raising kids like a boss takes cultural awareness.  We must be aware of what is going on in their lives.  We must take the lead and limit their internet activity because they are not ready for what is out there yet.  I would suggest that most of us adults are not ready either and should take precautions.  Knowing your kids passwords and activity is not an invasion of privacy like they will argue.  Last time I checked, they are not paying the rent, buying the groceries, or providing basic needs.  I am.  I want access.  The onslaught of immoral and unhealthy choices is everywhere.  Commercials, ads, and music all are killing us.  With 1 in 5 people now stating they have no religious affiliation, the hope of my children having a relationship with Christ lies with me and my wife.  States are legalizing same-sex marriage and marijuana usage.  Sex is being sold by the minute on television and internet ads.

Because you have the courage to love them you have the chance to be in their lives.  Because of your commitments they will see a consistency and find comfort.  Because of your cultural awareness, you can converse with them about options and choices.  Raising kids like a boss has less to do with where you go to church and more to do with your relationship with God and each other.  Church attendance is important, but only takes a fraction of your week.  School a large portion.  There is still a huge chunk of time in which you can make strides and impact their lives.  Come back tomorrow and find the conclusion to this discussion.

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