Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

Christians Change Mind Say, “There is no God!”

In Chrisian Life, Faith on September 4, 2014 at 7:58 am

newspaper

In an unheard of move from the Christian community, scores of believers turn against their object of worship and cry, “There is no God!”  Reports are coming in from every corner of the planet.  It seems that it defies age, geography, and denomination.  Playgrounds, classrooms, grocery stores, malls, businesses, and church offices are affected as each experiences this phenomenon.

What is happening?

  • Children are flocking to school with no regard to their fellow student.
  • Classrooms are populated with those filled with hate, anger, malice, and lust.
  • Stores and malls have aisles filled with people consumed with worry, anxiety, guilt, and shame.
  • Workplaces have those who gossip, steal, cheat, and more to gain an advantage.
  • Church personnel are backbiting with envy and jealousy.

 

What went wrong?

Thousands of years ago the words, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” were penned in what is now called Psalm 53:1 in the Christian Bible.  What does this mean?  We must trace, to the root, what would cause of person to make this claim.  While many I know would never actually speak the words “There is no God”, lives are overrun with attitudes and actions that do.  Seemingly insignificant, millions of followers of Christ do exactly what Peter did: deny Him.  As you read this you cry out as did those in Malachi’s time, “How did we ever deny?”

  • We deny Him access.
  • We deny Him authority.
  • We deny Him our abilities.
  • We deny Him our associations.
  • We deny Him our attitudes.
  • We deny Him our activities.
  • We deny Him our affluence.

Let us be careful that, while our mouths may not say the words, our lives will.  What is your life saying right now?

Dear God,

Right now I confess that I have denied you before others in one or more of these ways mentioned.  Cleanse me of this wrong and create a rightness of thought, action, and speech in my life now.  My faith is in Jesus’ death burial and resurrection.  May my following be sound and sure.

Amen.

Romance is More than Sex and Passion

In love on August 13, 2014 at 10:22 am

old-couple

As I get older, it cracks me up to see the next generation of those learning to love and failing at it.  What I am finding is that what used to be High School is now in Junior High and Upper Elementary age kids.  It appears that the “lover” crowd is getting younger!  My children are in this age-bracket and I fear for what they are faced with concerning dating pressure.  Why must we push our children to be adults before it is time?  Why must we see elementary-aged children on “dates”?  I don’t mean play dates either.

Maybe I am old.

Maybe I am right.

We are hurrying our children to become something they are unprepared by God to be yet.  Just because our hormone-filled foods are creating premature adolescence does not mean that they are ready.  Our culture is broken.  In fact, we cannot actually agree on what is even sexy.  The Gap is presenting too-thin and Sports Illustrated (Not suitable for children…or men) presents too naked.

Where is the romance?

I fear we need to understand the definition of romance before we can actually discuss it.  However, Webster and I do not agree.  Romance, as defined today, deals either with something old and fantastical or new, fresh, and short-lived with hot passion!  My sarcasm is really screaming right now that romance has gone the way of my youth and energy. Yet, I feel that romance in its pure form comes out of a developing relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  The reason we have it all messed up is because we have removed God from the dating, marriage, passion, sex equation.  When we are out of touch with God, temptations become very strong.

The exclusive dating is killing our kids since our culture has promised joy and happiness if we would just follow what our bodies are telling us.  I know too many youth who now live with regrets and pain as a result of the fluttering nature of young love.  Yet, so many see the revolving door that is their parent’s bedroom and simply follow suit.

Romance begins with God.  As we develop a loving lasting relationship with Him we become equipped to do so with someone else for life.  Starter marriages and Trial Marriages through cohabitation are not fulfilling.  Romance does not have to be only the hot passion of youth but also the gentle smooth dance of two people whose lives have become intertwined.  The severing of this kind of couple happens when one, or both, have moved away from God.  How do we get it back?

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.  For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.   1 John 2:15-17

…and so will romance!

Convert, Move, or Die

In Life and Culture on August 11, 2014 at 7:22 am

isis

We, in the West, have been appalled at this statement of ISIS for the Christians in Iraq.  We are hearing of horrible reports from those involved: mass shootings, be-headings, rape, pillage, and plunder.  In reading these reports, it does not sound far from the Crusades of a millennia ago.  1000 years and there are still accusations of “infidel” and the need to remove them from the Earth.

The Church

Since 2001, good, God-fearing, church-attending folks have railed against the Muslim community without regard to whether or not they have known them for years!  During one discussion, at church, about race, religion, and the right response, I found many who harbored such ill-will against all things middle-eastern.  Mind you, Jesus was a middle-eastern person too!  Despite this fact, most in the “fly-over states, took strong positions.  I would expect this from a non-believing community.  I do not believe our Christian community should have been taking that position.

See what they have done?!?

The argument, today, is that our response is now justified because of what we see happening.  Let’s get in our time machine and go back to 2001.  Were we not saying the same thing?  Our policies on terrorism are much the same:  convert, leave, or die.  Of course, we would not say publicly they would die, but our minds sure did!  How many of us are appalled at what is happening in Iraq and Syria to Christians have shown the same sentiment toward the Muslim community here during a difficult time in our country?

World War 2

Let’s get in our time machine again and go back to 1942.  During this year thousands of Japanese Americans were imprisoned because of a feeling stemming from Dec 7, 1941.  We incarcerated and tortured these poor folks for simply having a distinct facial feature about them.  Many Americans worried that citizens of Japanese ancestry would act as spies or saboteurs for the Japanese government. Fear — not evidence — drove the U.S. to place over 127,000 Japanese-Americans in concentration camps during WWII

McCarthyism

In the 1950’s, during the McCarthy era, thousands of Americans were accused of being communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies. The primary targets of such suspicions were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union activists. Suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive or questionable evidence, and the level of threat posed by a person’s real or supposed leftist associations or beliefs was often greatly exaggerated. Many people suffered loss of employment and/or destruction of their careers; some even suffered imprisonment. Most of these punishments came about through trial verdicts later overturned, laws that were later declared unconstitutional, dismissals for reasons later declared illegal or actionable, or extra-legal procedures that would come into general disrepute.

Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.  Matthew 7:5 NLT

What can we do?

What is going on in Iraq and Syria is horrible and insidious.  However, before we cast our ballots let us not forget where we too have trod.  Many have felt the same way concerning terrorists in our country.  We wished them to leave, convert, or find misfortune.  Before we try to ride the high horse of spirituality and say that misfortune is better than killing let us not forget more words of Jesus concerning what you think being so similar to what you do.  Sin is sin.  We should confess ours before touting a position we so recently valued.

  • Pray for those who profess Christ as Savior that they would have clarity and wisdom in their decisions.
  • Provide funds and materials as possible through a variety of benefactor agencies.
  • Prepare for the possibility of persecution in our own country.
  • Position yourself with God so firmly that there is nothing less than upright in your life.
  • Protect your children through education and spiritual development.

The Climb

In Chrisian Life on August 5, 2014 at 7:20 am

mountain_hiking_1

Have you ever been hiking?  I mean, really hiking?  Gone up a mountain hiking?

I haven’t done much of it myself but when I did it was worth the effort.  Les and I had gone mountain-lake fishing in Colorado in mid-September.  The snow had begun to gather on the peaks.  We were driving around looking for this one lake we wanted to fish and found the trailhead.  We parked and gathered our packs and began the 2 mile hike.  Along the way we began to question whether this was a good idea.  We couldn’t see this lake.  How did we know if it would be there?  No one was around to tell us for certain the presence of the lake.  The map told us it was there and there were signs all around.

At 11,000 feet we were out of breath and stopped to drink some water.  We looked at each other and knew we had to keep going.  There really never was a question, but our bodies and our feelings wanted to express opposition.  At around 12,000 feet we had no clue how far we had come.  We still saw no sign of the lake.  Everything ached and we were out of breath.  But we knew we had to continue.

Our desire to see the lake and to do what we had come to do was stronger than the desire to quit.  We came to what we hoped was a final surge uphill.  As we crested the hill what lied before us was absolutely breath-taking!  It was at that moment I realized the camera was back at the truck.  While I cannot show you what it looked like, I can tell you how wonderful, peaceful, beautiful, and exhilarating it was to be there.  I guess you will have to climb it yourself to feel that way too.

So it is in the life of a church.  God is calling us to climb the mountain with Him.  The only way we will experience the fullness of His blessing and beauty is to follow and reach the journey’s end.  Today we stand at the trailhead.  A new school/church year approaches rapidly.  All of these new beginnings prepare us for the journey that awaits like a trailhead.  The blessing of growth comes like that of the climb, with much effort.  To make it to the top we must work hard, make concessions, and commit.  I pray that you will do so

Today we stand at the trailhead.  Let us climb.

For who is God except the  lord ? Who but our God is a solid rock?
God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect.
He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.

26 Ways To Train Up A Child

In Parenting on March 4, 2014 at 7:08 am

PantherMedia 2605482

My friend Mark Jones will be creating a resource to be made available on Mr Mark’s Classroom soon.  The original blog only contained the first four and were more defined.  I later wrote this blog and am republishing it today.  This is just a “reminder list” for us as parents and/or disciplers.  Enjoy!

Our hope for a better future depends on what is done with the next generation.  Parenting and discipleship are seemingly unrelated items, but they are essentially the same.

 Train up a child in the way he should go… Proverbs 22:6

We gravitate toward parenting when we read this.  However, Paul will state that he is a spiritual parent to Timothy and takes it upon himself to train him in the way he should go also.  In honor of teaching the ABC’s to my children, here they are as helpful reminders of how to train up a physical child or spiritual one.  Can you think of others?

Accept them as they are.
Believe God has a purpose
Calibrate to meet their needs
Develop them patiently
Engage them with the Gospel
Failure allows learning
Grace as they develop
Hope for a better future
Initiate conversations
Journal their progress
Keep them on track
Love sacrificially
Meaningful touch
Note milestones in their life
Ongoing evaluation
Pray Pray Pray
Quick to listen
Remind them of the higher purpose
Set boundaries
Teach them scripture
Unleash them into service
Vocalize feelings and needs
Words of affirmation
eXpect and eXamine
Yield to the Spirit’s plan, nor yours
Zero in on God’s specific purpose

Carnivorous Christianity

In Commitment, Decisions on March 20, 2013 at 9:34 am

steakI often hear people talk about wanting to go deeper in classes and study groups.  Every teaching clinic I have ever taught has that as a question that rises from the group.  In our age of information it is often mistaken that more knowledge means going deeper.  In reality, it is not more knowledge but more maturity that is required.  Look at what the writer of Hebrews told the churches:

11 We have a great deal to say about this, and it’s difficult to explain, since you have become too lazy to understand. 12 Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God’s revelation again. You need milk, not solid food. 13 Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil.

There comes a point in our walk with Christ that we must turn knowledge into action.  Knowing more is not the goal.  Righteousness is the goal.  The ability to live a holy life is the goal while on this Earth.  This ability comes from two things:  Holy Spirit and personal choice.  When you place faith in Jesus Christ, turning your life over to God, then the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in you.  However, God has given each of us the ability to make choices.  Thus, the Holy Spirit dwells in you and you must choose to obey.  The very presence of the Spirit causes a shift in desires and wants.  Coupled with personal choice, the individual makes massive strides toward maturity.

Carnivorous Christianity defines those who are making those choices toward the “meat” of Scripture and social realities.  We all seem to understand that learning is indeed critical.  However, application is something from which we shy away.  We want to learn but do not want to live?  The moment I learn that I am to love my enemy and pray for him rather than seek revenge I am held accountable.  The Spirit that dwells within has noted my knowledge and is now expecting the personal choice to live out that which I have learned.  The writer above uses the term “inexperienced”.  In other words, these people had knowledge but have not put it into practice.  They knew about righteousness but had not started living righteous.

My kids have recently started baseball/softball season.  We practice batting, catching, and throwing.  We also practice situational drills.  During these drills we set up a situation.  If the ball is hit to 3rd with a man on 1st where do you throw it?  These type of drills are good to help the kids know what to do.  However, until an actual game is happening it is just theory.  It is in those game moments that we see what needs to be encouraged at that next practice.  The energy, nerves, and fast pace can rattle anyone until they have the experience.  We can sit in church every week and listen to great sermons.  We can sit in groups and dive into wonderful studies.  Until we take that knowledge and put it into practical experience than we have not met the goal.  Our goal is to be “meat-eaters” of Christianity.  No amount of classroom learning equates to actual practical experience.  Theoretical Christianity does not meet needs, love people, or change the world.  Practical experience allows for training that classrooms never could.  This experience trains you in knowing good from evil and gives the strength to choose the good.

Put down the milk of theoretical Christianity and take a bite of the meat of practical Christianity.

 

Leverage

In behavior, Jesus, Journey, Leadership on December 14, 2012 at 5:03 pm

leverage

Leverage is the power to get things done using a certain advantage.  In physics, like the picture above, a lever is the advantage to move the world.  Do Christians have leverage? They do and they should use it.

Paul was under house arrest and doing some writing when he becomes acquainted with a slave named Onesimus.  The slave had runaway and was in some trouble.  Paul gets hold of the guy, shares the Gospel, and helps him learn a better lifestyle.  Here’s the interesting part, Paul wants Onesimus to return.

In the this letter to Philemon, the slave owner, Paul tries to leverage a common interest in Jesus.  How does he do this?

1.  Begin with praise.  He thanks God every time Philemon is brought to mind.  He leverages this with the positive remarks of how he prays that Philemon’s participation in the faith would become more and more effective.  Do you see the set up?  I bet Philemon did not.  However, what harm is there to speak positive about someone before challenging them to act in a certain way.?

2.  Encourage to be a better person. Paul is bold.  He directly tells Philemon what the Christian response should be to the return of Onesimus.

3.  Add a pinch of Jewish guilt.  Paul uses impeccable timing and wording to exercise leverage over Philemon.  “I am an elderly man imprisoned….”  “I wouldn’t want you to do it out of obligation….”  “I trust you will make the right decision.”  Paul leverages his relationship for the good of Onesimus and the growth of Philemon.

4.  Close the deal.  Paul  requests that Philemon prepare a guest room.  As if the praise, encouragement, and guilt were not enough, Paul suggests that he is coming for a visit.  In other words, make the right choice or else.

Leverage is important to making massive changes.  When a person has stopped with the Devil and started walking with Jesus there are major changes that will take place.  Using Christian leverage to help someone out and disciple another is critical.  Our Christian influence in our communities is pathetic because we have forgotten a proper use of leverage in the church body that makes a difference in the church’s community.

Our leverage is discovered at a bloody cross and empty tomb; a risen and still alive Lord!  This power gives you advantage over the wiles of the Devil.  Use it to make the necessary changes in your life and those around you.

Here Kitty Kitty

In Control, Decisions, Faithfulness, Jesus, love, Uncategorized on October 3, 2012 at 8:42 am

Our cats are silly!  They loved to hide out in the taller grass that I haven’t trimmed down and wait.  They love to wait for some unsuspecting kitten or person to pass by and they pounce.  It is a great game for them!  Unfortunately, it is also an instinct.  Hiding, crouching, and pouncing, are all hunting types of activities.  These cats hunt for prey to eat.  It might seem to be a harmless game they play with the kids or others but it comes from something deeper.

In Matthew 26 we find Jesus on trial before the Pharisees.  They had been lying in wait for many months and had finally found a way to pounce on Jesus.  Through Judas, they sucker punched Him!  He knew it was coming.  He planned for this time.  He brought witnesses with Him but they all ran away and denied knowing Him.  Standing before the religious leadership, Jesus was being asked about, and accused of, several things.  Finally, this happened…

63 But Jesus kept silent. Then the high priest said to Him, “By the living God I place You under oath: tell us if You are the Messiah, the Son of God!” 64 “You have said it,” Jesus told him. “But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? Look, now you’ve heard the blasphemy! 66 What is your decision?” They answered, “He deserves death!”

Because of their religious rules, the leadership had the opportunity to rid themselves of this nuisance.  They could bring the guilty verdict and demand execution.  They were giddy with excitement over their newly trapped prey.

Have you ever known somebody you was always looking to trap you?  Have you ever found yourself waiting to see someone stumble?  Outside the simplicity of our depravity and proclivity to sin, why do people behave this way?  More critical is why do church people behave this way?  It is easy to see why the murderer, rapist, or thief might behave this way.  However, those attending church ought to act different.  Everyone believes that point.  Everyone.  So why do some act that way who attend church and claim the love God, the Bible, America, and apple pie?  Here are a few thoughts….

1.  They are church people but not Christian people.  While this might come as a shock to some who read this, just take a breath.  There are people who are church members but not actual Christians.  Some define Christianity as being a member of a church and working at church.  Scripture defines Christianity as people having put faith in Jesus and follow Him explicitly.

2.  They haven’t let go of the “old ways”.  The Bible speaks of our sinful nature before Christ as the “old person”.  When, by faith, we receive forgiveness, the old is put away and the new has come into play.  All will struggle with this putting away the old.  In the moment of salvation, we were cleansed of all unrighteousness, but often fall short of living in that state of forgiveness and righteousness.  Our involvement in the world system creates a space for the old person to rise up and have influence.

3.  Rules are more important than relationships.  High-strung, type-A  personalities have a tendency to see rules more than relationships and programs more than people.  Because of this, people can be harmed.  Obsolete rules or dying programs will be held without reason.  Jesus was changing the game and they did not want to play.  Often this happens in our churches too.  Times change.  People change.  Methods change.  Truth stays the same.  For some, nothing should ever change.  Here lies the friction.

4.  Lowering you makes them feel bigger.  Honestly, some people have such low esteem that anything that helps them feel better is justified in their mind.  You were the target for the day.  In those moments, the rush of emotion that comes from power overcomes them and they have a taste for more.

How do we respond?  Well, like Jesus.

1.  With love.  Jesus knew the larger context of God’s plan.  If you are aware of God’s larger plan it is easier to accept these moments and move forward.
2.  With truth.  Jesus answered honestly, even though He knew the consequences.
3.  With gentleness.  Jesus did not get into arguments or shouting matches.  Arguing with such is like wrestling a pig.  Both get dirty but the pig likes it.

We all face people out for blood at times in our lives.  I pray we respond like Jesus.

Peace of Mind

In Church, Faithfulness, Leadership, Missional, Politics on September 3, 2012 at 6:20 pm

I understand about indecision,

But I don’t care if I get behind.

People living in competition,

All I want is to have my peace of mind.

These are lyrics from Boston’s song “Peace of Mind”. Where has the cooperative spirit gone? Why do people, as Patrick Lencioni puts it, want to maintain personal silos instead of pulling resources together? Why can’t we see that far more could be done with greater peace of mind if we cooperate?

Both sides of the aisle, as we say, need to realize cooperation is the foundation of this country. Both sides of the church need to see this as well. Over the past century we have seen a degradation into welfare mentality and personal kingdom building. The programs established during the Great Depression were seen as life-saving. Those in that time were grateful to have anything. Post WWII saw a subtle change from gratitude to a position that the governmental help had been earned. Instead of ending those programs, they continued. The next generation grew up with an attitude that they deserved this aid. Today we see a growing trend of folks who demand big government to come to their rescue. How did that happen? The subtle shift came over years. We cannot really pinpoint a place and time, but it has happened. It has happened in our churches too.

John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.” “Don’t stop him,” said Jesus, “because there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name who can soon afterward speak evil of Me.” Mark 9:38-39

Jesus dealt with this competitive spirit. He drew their attention toward cooperation. Our churches a century ago were delighted to have the traveling preacher a couple of times a month. All were happy to do the work of the church and hear from the preacher. As our culture shifted from cooperation to competition so did our churches. Instead of gratitude, Christians started feeling they had somehow earned God’s favor and began to cheapen grace and goodness. Soon, we began to feel deserving of God special hand of blessing and now we demand it. So similar are we to the political climate! Most, I believe, feel that God works for us. He is our magic genie in the clouds. If we say the right things and do the right motions then He is bound to bless us in the ways we prescribe. It sounds nice, but that concept is not Biblical. Nowhere can you find that we demand of God. He demands of us.

Gratitude – Earned Right – Unearned Right – Demand

This is the flow of our people, nationally and spiritually. Until we choose to return to cooperation and gratitude, we will not have peace of mind.

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