Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

Don’t Move!

In Gospel Living on October 24, 2016 at 9:14 am

 

4344035767_b86ce883a0_oSo, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.    1 Corinthians 15:58

Clemson defense had been tried and tested through the game but was immovable when it counted.  Louisville tried 4 times and could not score at the end of the game.  That kind of strength we demand from our defense.  That kind of immovability is what we desire from them!

Be strong – pertaining to being firmly established in one’s position or opinions—‘firm, steadfast, unwavering.’ ἀδελφοί μου ἀγαπητοί, ἑδραῖοι γίνεσθε ‘my dear fellow believers, be firmly established’ 1 Cor 15:58; εἴ γε ἐπιμένετε τῇ πίστει τεθεμελιωμένοι καὶ ἑδραῖοι ‘if, indeed, you remain well-founded and established in the faith’ Col 1:23.[1]

Immovable – pertaining to not being readily shaken in one’s opinions or beliefs—‘firm, unshaken, steady.’ ἑδραῖοι γίνεσθε, ἀμετακίνητοι ‘be steady, unshaken’ or ‘… not wavering in belief’ 1 Cor 15:58.[2]

When we think of SOMETHING being immovable we rack our brains, hire engineers, and figure out how to move something.  However, when we consider SOMEONE to be immovable we can get hateful unless they are on our side of the line.

Paul is writing to a church who is strong but movable on certain items.  He calls them, and us, to be immovable when it comes to the truths of the Gospel.  They were in a moment in time when they could be killed for being immovable.  Yet, Paul calls them to that level of faithfulness to God.

We are called to no less.

There are points that matter and those that do not.  Here are a few that DO NOT matter as much.  In other words, those beliefs we argue and divide over that are not primary to the expansion of God’s Kingdom through the expression of the Gospel.

  • Wine or Juice during Communion
  • Your millennial position
  • Your musical preference
  • Your Bible version preference
  • Your dress code
  • How your group chooses to accomplish missions
  • Your political party

The denomination to which I belong and serve God through has, over the years, made mountains out of some molehills.  While I have my positional arguments for some on the previous list, we must be careful in our presentation and movability.

Through 1 Corinthians 15, Paul expresses the important things. Here are points that MATTER MOST:

  • Mankind is sinful by nature and eternally separated from God.
  • Jesus is God and God’s Son.
  • Jesus was born of a virgin.
  • Jesus was sinless.
  • Jesus lived a real life in the flesh.
  • Jesus died an actual painful death.
  • Jesus was dead and buried.
  • Jesus was bodily resurrected by God Himself.
  • By faith in Jesus’ activity, we are forgiven.
  • Our earthly bodies will be transformed into the eternal ones.

Do not misunderstand.  If you hold fast to the important points then you will face difficulty in this life.  You will branded an intolerant elitist.  You will be ridiculed for backward, old-fashioned thinking.  You will be considered an intellectual midget for accepting such items as truth.

We are called to be strong and immovable.  It is not enough to simply be knowledgeable.  We must stand firm too.  We cannot waver.  As God told Joshua when we took over for Moses, do not look to the left or the right.  Be strong and courageous and focus on the things of God.  This sentiment is echoed here and through Paul’s writings.  Be sure you not only know the tenets of scripture but are immovable on the gospel.  We cannot let the arguments of society sway us from what is right and true in the Gospel.

[1] Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, pp. 376–377). New York: United Bible Societies.

[2] Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 375). New York: United Bible Societies.

The Cupcake Gospel

In Evangelism, Faith, Jesus on July 8, 2015 at 2:11 pm

cupcake-5

Once there were 4 beautiful girls Abigail, Emma, Cora, and Gabrielle who lived in a mid-sized kingdom.  They lived in 4 little houses at the end of 4 dead-end streets.  They had good families who were always struggling to make ends meet.  Abigail lived in a pink house but loved all things purple.  Emma lived in a purple house but loved all things green.  Cora lived in a green house but loved all things pink.  Gabrielle lived in a yellow house and loved all things yellow.  On this particular day they each were going to receive a very special gift.

Abigail almost stepped on hers as she was sweeping the dust out of the house through the front door.  She just happened to look down and notice the purple box just sitting on the stoop.  Not knowing what it could be, but knowing it must be for her because it was a purple box at a pink house, she quickly opened the box.  Inside was a gorgeous gift and a note…

Emma woke up frustrated.  She had a bad night and she and her mom were fighting.  She just didn’t think anything made sense and was very overt about how she felt.  EVERYONE in the house knew Emma was in a bad mood.  In fact, most think she was born that way!  She had been doing her chores and griped about them all morning.  She was stomping out of the house when she noticed a green box on the porch.  Knowing it was for her she tore open the box.  In it was a gift and a note…

Cora was returning from the market when she spotted hers.  She had visions of shops and shoes, and lip balm, and anything other trinket she could buy.  She ran up to the box and unwrapped it quickly.  Well, let’s just say she tore it to shreds getting into the box out of excitement!  She lifted the gift out of the box and saw a note…

Gabrielle got up from the flower bed and dusted herself off.  She got a little water from the bucket and washed her hands.  It was time to go inside for lunch.  As she rounded the corner to up the porch steps she saw the box.  A yellow box on a yellow porch of a yellow house might be thought of as invisible.  But this box was the brightest yellow she had ever seen!  She ran to the box and opened it up.  Inside was the most gorgeous gift she had ever seen with a note…

The note had this written on it:

Please accept this special-order, one-of-a-kind, cupcake from the King and Queen.  We think you’re awesome!  We wanted you to know how much we care for you.

Abigail knew exactly what she would do with this gift.  She cleaned off a shelf and dusted it.  Then she placed the cupcake right in the middle of all the trinkets and trophies.  She thought it was so beautiful.  How could she do anything else?  She wanted to admire it in the morning and evening.  She loved the King and loved this gift too.

After reading the note, Emma smashed the cupcake back in the box and threw it in the trash.  She didn’t want anything from the King.  She had heard her parents talking about the unfair decisions and what seemed like poor communications.  Her mom had been sick.  They sent messages to the king but there was no response.  She did not think the King really cared, though we all know he did.

Cora’s head was filled with thoughts of trading this exquisite looking cupcake for so many other things.  She wondered how many shoes she could get, or clothes she could get, or money…She immediately went back to the market.  She was told of a certain shop outside of the kingdom that specialized in such trades.  She planned on going the next day.

Gabrielle sat down and read the note.  Tears welled up in her eyes because she felt the love of the King and wanted to remember this very special day.  She painted a picture to remember this day and then sat down to eat the cupcake.  The cake was so moist and the icing just right with sweetness and fluffiness.  She ate the whole thing, which some would have thought was too much for a little girl.  She was completely satisfied.  No stomach aches after that amount of sweet.  No thirst.  She could still taste it and she was filled with joy and peace.

What each did not know what that there was a big war coming.  The king and queen wanted to protect everyone they could but each person had to decide for themselves.  These 4 little girls were each given a special cupcake.  If it was eaten they could be protected and would be able to remain with the King and Queen in safety.

When the war broke out, Abigail was separated from her gift and from the King.  She lived in misery forever.  Emma had been so mad that she did not eat hers either.  When the enemy broke through the wall near her home she was taken prisoner and never heard from again.  Cora found herself outside the gates making trades.  She had just finished getting several new pairs of shoes that would surely bring her a boy!  Before she made it back she was trapped and separated from the King.  Gabrielle, who had eaten the cupcake was protected by the King and found safety and shelter with them.  She lives in the joy and peace of the castle!

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the lord laid on him the sins of us all.  – Isaiah 53:4-6

What will you do with this precious gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Will you set it on the shelf and decide later?  Will you throw it away? Will you trade it away for something else?  Or, will you choose to place faith in Jesus?

Don’t Leave Your Chad Hanging

In Life and Culture on November 4, 2014 at 8:30 am

I know way too many people who make decisions using Rock Paper Scissors.  This is “old school” because I am choosing not to include Spock or Bomb.

  • Who chooses where we eat?
  • Who gets the car?
  • Who gets the girl?
  • Which way should we go?
  • Who goes first?
  • Who gets the good office?
  • Who gets the budget dollars?

These are simple decisions that don’t really matter.  However as we move up the decision-making food chain we shouldn’t rely on this hand game to choose our destiny.  Can you imagine Luke and Vader settling the Force issue this way?  What if the Hunger Games solved its problem like this? It seems that most decisions on Big Bang Theory are settled in this fashion!  Instead of all this election night coverage that messes up the television recording schedule, what if the candidates simply played Rock Paper Scissors Best of 5?

Silly?  Borderline stupid?  How are we supposed to make decisions then? Our vote sets the direction of our country for the next 4-8 years and beyond depending on lasting effects.  Surely there is a better way to decide.  Don’t worry.  There is a better way.

There are three basic influences that shape our decisions: Facts, Feelings, and Faith.  These three are like the points of a triangle.  The answer to your dilemma/decision is found at the center where God’s peace resides.  Geometry teaches us the way to find the center of a triangle is like this picture:

FACTS

FEELINGS                                                                             FAITH

From each point one would draw a line to the center of the opposing line.  Where these meet is the center of the triangle.  Every decision, large and small, involves this triangle.  Our job, should we want peace and a life with no regrets, should be to find the center and choose wisely.  Here is how it would work.

FACTS

What are the facts about your decision?  What are the pro’s and con’s?  Make a T-Chart and list on the reasons to choose one way or the other.  Do your research.  Google stalk this decision.  Find out everything you can that is factual.  There are no feelings at this point.  Do not formulate any thoughts yet.  Just gather data.

FEELINGS

Does either way cause joy or pain?  How would deciding either way affect your relationships, your family, your friends?  Those who find the facts easy will find this difficult and the emotional will find the factual harder.

FAITH

Dive into scripture and discover what the Bible has to say about this decision.  I suggest to you that the wisdom of Scripture applies to all of our decisions if we will take the time to investigate.  You may not be a Bible scholar or Logos 4 owner.  Find a biblically wise person in your church or take your pastor to lunch and pick his brain.  Pray for God to bring clarity and direction.  Pray for faith.  Pray for strength.  Pray.

The point is that we should find a balance just like in geometry to find the center of God’s Will in whatever matter you have.  If we lean too heavily on one point the choice could be skewed.  If we take only one point into consideration we are not being responsible.  If we take 2 of 3 we are not being balanced.  The answers you need, and want, can be found.  The decisions made without regret are available to those who do the work.  I don’t always make good decisions, but when I do I use the Decision Triangle.  Try it with your big decision today.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

 

3 Critical Calls for Moving Day

In Gospel Living on September 25, 2014 at 10:25 am

moving-home

Moving can be a joyful and stressful!  We are closing on our new home soon and have spent time calling the utility companies to ensure that there will be no interruption of service.  For those who may not know, service does not automatically transfer to new owners.  That convenience would be handy, but a call has to be made in order for service to transfer into the new name.  There is a certain amount of personal information needed to process the request.  In some cases, options are available and a decision has to be made: which service do I want?

As I sat there on the phone with 3 different companies, it dawned on me that transferring service is much like putting your faith in Jesus.

Water/Sewer/Garbage

Before you put faith in Jesus, there is no service in your life.  Water always represents life, both in Scripture and other literature.  Hydration is critical to the vital organs to survive.  Death is the result of lack of water.  Before Jesus you simply had trash and sewer piling up in the backyard of your life.

When you transfer service, Jesus brings life and cleansing.  Through confession and repentance your spiritual sewage and garbage is being handled.  You couldn’t do anything with it, but Jesus can.

Electric

Before you transfer service to Jesus, there is no clean power.  The company you use before Jesus supplies a certain amount, but it is dirty energy and cuts out regularly.  You find the breakers in your life blowing and appliances breaking down because of the inconsistency.  Customer support is useless because they don’t care.  Your climate is unbearable and dark.

When you transfer service, Jesus brings clean power that allows light and climate control again.  His energy is very efficient, able to distribute power to every corner of your life.

Gas

Not every home has this, but ours will.  Providing warmth of air and water.  I stood in a bathroom in Africa where I took a bucket bath with cold water.  Trust me, you want warmth in Texas Panhandle winters!  Before Jesus, life is cold.

When you transfer service, Jesus brings warmth to your life that was absent before.

 

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

 

Have you transferred service?  Do you feel stuck and cannot make a decision?  Make the call and ask God to transfer your service by faith in Jesus today.

Change Is Our Only Constant

In Chrisian Life, Faith on August 25, 2014 at 9:05 am

change

Change is appealing and abhorred, exciting and dangerous combined.  Whatever you think of change, it is not simple.

I was in the 4th grade.  Dad had put in for a transfer from California to Kentucky.  At the time, I did not understand what God was doing.  While young, I had been raised to think and speak for myself and I did!  I was unhappy with the plan and the process.  I was not consulted, as if I should have been.  My parents were in charge of this decision and I was not.  As I look back I realize now that it was for the best and God was working mightily in our family, but in the moment I could not see the larger picture.  Of course, I was mad and pouted about it for a while.  It was not long, though, and I had made new friends and settled in just fine.

This experience is just one of several dealing with change.  I could fast forward to later moments in my life, where, as an adult, I faced change and was not very happy either.  I tend to be a creature of habit and comfort.  When God starts messing with that it can be unnerving!  The “firsts” are always moments of change:  first year of marriage, first career change, first child, first day of school, first teenager in the house.  Every one of these create change that takes a while for adjustment.  For me, God was working in wonderful ways.  I look back and treasure each one.  Yet, going through the process has its moments.

Change is appealing and abhorred.

I have grown up Baptist…Southern Baptist.  It is not in our nature to think of change as appealing.  As churches face neighborhood, cultural, staff or employee changes it is often met with resistance.  We like what we are used to and find ourselves not liking the process.  Our mind tells us that God is working and will provide great blessing.  Our hearts are tied to that which is simple and comfortable.  On the one side we run from change.  We argue about change.  We kick against the goad.  Our culture believes in personal rights and demands strong input.  When decisions are made, like moving in the 4th grade, that are not what we expected or feel are unfair, we are distraught.  Doing life the same way every day is not appealing either though.  During the industrial revolution, Ford began by having people do the same job every day for their career.  He discovered that rotating people to new jobs to learn to things was productive and efficient in the long run.  Change actually proved to be appealing over time, though not everyone liked it at the beginning.

Change is exciting and dangerous.

My wife and I were flying to a national convention several years ago and walked down the jetway to board the plane.  We were talking and laughing as we entered the hatch, found our seats and sat down.  The stewardess soon came on the PA and expressed her delight as we prepared to fly to Canada.

Wait.  What?

We were supposed to be flying to Atlanta, GA!  In that moment we knew something went very wrong.  While it would have been exciting to go to Canada, we would miss the meetings we were supposed to attend.

I went to college but worked weekends back home for living expenses and date money!  I had made poor choices in High School and, with God’s help, was making changes in my life.  One of those was to stop the party lifestyle.  I was working the drive thru window handing out food when some of my buddies came through.  They invited me to a party and I politely declined.  When asked for a reason, I said that I felt like I needed to make changes in my life and needed to just go home after work.  They never spoke to me again.  The dad in me, now, says “Well, they were not good friends.”  However, losing friends was tough.  Change was necessary.  Yet, it was dangerous too.  I had to be willing to lose to win.

Finding Faith

Managing Change is a constant in our lives.  Physically, we change every minute.  God designed our bodies to change with every breath.  More dramatically, we face change in our health, our family, and our friends.  We face sickness, death, and birthdays.  None of which do we enjoy, but we manage.  As we face change let us pause to consider these words from Hebrews 11.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

Managing change involves faith and trust.  If we have trust in God we can see His way through the progress and pain of change.  In our relationships, when we have trust in those making decisions it will allow for us to see our way through as well.  God has a plan for your life and mine.  Do not doubt, things will change!  Let us, like those who have gone before embrace it will faith that can move mountains.

 

What Coffee Teaches Me About Christianity

In Chrisian Life, Cleansing on August 21, 2014 at 8:03 am

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Coffee is a beautiful thing!

A few years ago, while on a church trip, I was given a coffee mug.  I have used it nearly every day since.  The wide bottom makes it so it doesn’t tip over very easy.  As you can see I have worn off much of the label!  This past Summer I got a new coffee cup and, in the excitement of something new, began using that one as of late.  Today I forgot the cup and I remembered that I still had this older, well-used one.

The problem was that it had not been used for a while and it had some coffee left in it.  I didn’t just want to add more coffee.  I needed to get rid of the old and put in the new.

  1. The cup couldn’t wash itself. As much as I would like, dishes still do not wash themselves.  We might have technology that speeds the process up and reduces the labor of the individual, but dishes do not wash themselves.
  1. There was no point in just wiping off the outside. I could have set it down in the sink with water but the problem was not the outside, it was the inside.  It needed to be clean from the inside out.  Simply washing off the outside would not have affected that which was floating in the cup!
  1. Fill it up! Now that the cup was clean I could have what I wanted – COFFEE!

Our lives are often like this cup.  By our own choosing we do not put ourselves in the Master’s hands every day.  As a result, we become stagnant and bad things begin to grow inside of us: hate, malice, envy, lust, pride, and more.  These will take what was good, but now unused, and degrade it to the point that it is sickening.  Like the cup, we cannot wash ourselves.  We must allow God to wash us from the inside out.  Though we may try to attend church more, be better people, and do the right thing.  Adding fresh coffee to that mug would have tainted the whole cup.  We must be emptied of all the nasty by God’s power through our faith and confession.  Then the Spirit will fill us up once again.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  2 Corinthians 5:17

Why is God so Hard to Accept?

In Faith on July 29, 2014 at 8:54 am

la-ley-del-karma

 

Do you believe in things you cannot see?  Consider the following:

  • Aliens
  • Ghosts
  • Astrology
  • Loch Ness or Big Foot
  • Karma
  • Intuition
  • Fate

In our information hungry age, it amazes me that people will render God untenable in which to believe, but any of these mentioned above are readily accepted.  What makes God so hard to accept?

UNSEEN

No one can see Karma either but a host of people accept that as truth. I have not seen Aliens, ghost, or Big Foot and do not believe they exist.  I have not seen God either.  What makes the difference?  Some could say that I believe because I was nurtured into it.  Had I been raised by those who chase after UFO’s and ghosts would I believe in them instead?  I cannot see the wind but I have felt the effects of wind.  I have not seen God but have experienced the effects.  I know what life was like before and after I chose to place faith in Jesus.

JUDGEMENT

People wish to argue that a God who will judge them is not for them. However, their belief in Karma surprises me.  Karma, and Fate, are on the spot judges.  If you do wrong the universe will do wrong back to you.  If you do right, then the universe will do right back to you.  Aren’t you being judged?  What if your action was an unfortunate one and Karma gives back unfairly?  Will you stop believing in it then?  Every alien movie I have seen moves to the same concept: they destroy humanity.  They judge us unworthy and wish to remove us.  Why, then is it too difficult to accept the judgment of God?

UNFAIR

How can a good God allow evil? How can there be only one way to God, which is through faith in Jesus Christ?  I could ask, what if Karma is unfair?  What happens when the aliens and ghosts wish to take over and it becomes believe or die?  Aren’t those unfair also?  Yet, many still believe.  The notion that God is unfair is widely heard.  However, I would argue that the evil is our own doing.  We choose poorly.  We choose the stupid.  We choose the bad.  We follow the evil and love the dark.  God has provided a way out of your situation.  He will not force you.  I suppose that people can accept the alien slavery because they are forcing us into something.  God has freely provided a path to life.  He also gives you the freedom to choose that path….or not.

UNPROVEN

The favorite of many is that I cannot prove God so I cannot believe in God.  However, dimly lit sightings and questionable video techniques are enough for people.  Acceptance that there experience with Karma and Fate are enough falls flat when you consider the history and testimony of millions who talk about God.

When it is all said and done we want to master of our own universe.  We like Karma and Fate because we feel empowered and in control.  We want to fight authority, shrug off guilt, and live accordingly.  We want to believe there is nothing beyond this life so that we can live it up and push away the shame of irresponsibility.  The problem is…God still exists.

Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”  John 20:29

Why Do You Believe the Bible to Be True?

In Chrisian Life on March 31, 2014 at 7:30 am

bibleSo many questions arise as to whether or not the Bible is true, reliable, and accurate or not. Some even go so far as to suggest it is a fairy tale. Others suggest the Church made it all up to maintain certain power and influence.

The Bible as Truth Without Error
From my earliest memories I was told the Bible was truth without any mixture of error. Every Sunday I was told through Bible class and sermons that every answer we need is in the Bible. Our moral and ethical code comes from Scripture. The way we make decisions comes from Scripture. Scripture was upheld almost as a fourth member of the deity. Therefore, the concept of Scripture being true was nurtured into me my whole life.
We Have Always Believed
For those who read this and resonate with my experience, I have a question for you. Do you believe the Bible to be true because of how you were raised or by your own choice and research? I love when young parents come to church regularly so their children can be raised up with spiritual formations and development. These families and kids can avoid so much when a relationship with God is natural. Faith comes easier for these. As I grew up I consistently heard that the Bible provided the answer to any question you would have. I was taught that everything in the Bible is true, historically accurate, and reliable for making a faith decision. Believing this was as natural and involuntary as breathing. No thought needed.
The Bible is a Fairy Tale
In the 80’s there was not much discussion in Bible belt America about the Bible. It seemed that most teenagers went to some church or para-church organization. There were no challenges. However, I would say that in my rebellion years it was easy to set aside something that had always been but had not ever been considered. I went to a private Christian university that never questioned this either. I went straight to Seminary and so on. I entered the ministry having never thought otherwise concerning the Bible being true. The first time I ran into someone who firmly did not believe the Bible as truth I was like the guy who brought a knife to a gunfight. My religious education, Christian education, and Seminary training all never challenged me to consider how to answer those who thought the Bible to be nothing more than a fairy tale.
Conclusion
I believe the Bible to be true because I have considered the options, alternatives, and tests. I have chosen to accept it as truth for myself. I can also dialogue with someone about my belief rather than spit out clichés that are old, tired, and irrelevant to our culture today. Since I have adhered to Scripture I have experiences of God’s presence and that is not easily disregarded. I firmly believe young families should raise their children in church because of the enormous value which resides with a faith decision in Christ. While teaching our children the truths of God, Scripture, morals, and life let us also teach them communication skills. As this generation is raised may they reach the world for Christ not because we told them to but because they have chosen to follow Jesus.

On the Outside Looking In

In Faith, Life and Culture on February 22, 2014 at 9:09 am

Beamer2DashaWindow

Billy left the house early that morning to catch the bus.  It was cold and crisp but not frigid as he made his way down the road.  The sun was peeking over the trees as the bus rumbled into view.  He got on and looked for the seat he wanted.  Thankfully he was one of the first and could choose from several, but he also knew no one would sit with him anyway.  He sat in silence the entire way.

Susan rolled into school and grabbed some breakfast.  She was right on time and stopped in the bathroom before going to class.  She overheard the girls talking about her accent and clothes like they were the absolute worst thing to ever consider.  She cried before going to class.

Laura arrived at her desk a little frazzled.  She had a rough morning getting the kids ready and off this morning not to mention she was having a bad hair day!  Recently divorced, she had taken this job as a new requirement in life.  She was alone.  No one spoke and the groups had already been formed with no one seeming to take on new members.  She kept her head down and did her work….alone.

John was having a bad year.  He had lost his mother.  He had wrecked his car.  He was about to lose his job because of absences due to the first two items.  He drove by the church and the sign happened to catch his eye.  He was not a “church” person, but there was something that tugged at him today.  He parked and walked in.  The halls were busy with people being busy.  He finally found his way to the worship center.  He took a seat and waited.  People rushed by him and never stopped.  At the end of the service he left….alone.

Have you ever been on the outside looking in?  Have you ever felt alienated?  Have you ever felt set aside?  Being on the outside looking in at school, work, or church is often the result of poor choices by the people that surround you.  Social and cultural bias is widespread.  The “wrong” clothes or the “wrong” vehicle or the “wrong” neighborhood or the “wrong” position at work can all cause prejudice.  The result is the feeling of isolation and/or alienation on your part.

What about God?

Our feeling of alienation with God is a result of our choices.  We walk away, whether we intend to or not.  In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve had the perfect setup!  They had the perfect environment, perfect relationship with God, and the perfect marriage.  What happened next blew the whole deal!  Like us, Eve knew the truth but settled for an alteration of the truth.  She knew if she ate the fruit she would die because God said so.  Satan did not really argue this point other than to suggest a different version and timing of death.  She doubted and fell for the deception.  The choice made by Eve and Adam caused a series of quick events to occur.

Emotional Alienation – the shame and guilt overwhelmed them.  They had been naked for who knows how long without any sense of wrong.  Once sin entered the equation, emotions changed.  Shame and guilt can cause us to do much more than we intended.

Spiritual Alienation – we find them hiding from God.  We hide in our family schedule.  We hide in our work.  We hide behind activities.  We hide behind self-righteousness.  We hide at church.  We hide because we do not want to face the truth.

Social Alienation – Once the discussion started the blame game ensued.  Adam confessed to his action but blamed Eve whom God had provided. Eve confessed to her decision but blamed the snake whom God had made.  I am sure there was some discussion at home later that night!

Physical Alienation – The snake would be hated.  Eve would have pain in childbirth.  Adam would work hard for little return.  Sin creates problems for us: ulcers, instabilities, breakdowns, stress, anxiety, and more.

Is there any hope?

When our innocence is lost, Jesus will give you His by faith and grace.  When our relationship with God is strained, Jesus will be our advocate.  When our relationships with each other break down Jesus gives us strength to carry on.  When our lives and bodies fail Jesus gives us new one as we enter glory by faith in Him.  My hope is centered in Jesus Christ.  The future ruler is not capitalism, culturism, or communism.  The future ruler is Christ.  Comfort one another with these words.  What a day that will be when we stand with Him in eternity!

Are you ready?  Or are you on the outside looking in?  Jesus opens the door and invites you to enter in to His home of peace and rest.  Move from looking in to sitting with God today!

What the Flu and Stomach Bug Teaches Me

In Life and Culture, Suffering on January 29, 2014 at 9:26 am

flu

I haven’t blogged in a couple of days, and might not make it through this one either, because I have been sick.  I hate being sick, but no one likes it.  The problem is I got the shot!  Because I rarely do get sick, or at least admit that I am, it seems to hit harder when it happens.  While I have been in and out of sleep and the bathroom for 2 days, a few things came to mind.

Bad things happen no matter what you do.  I exercise and, for the most part, eat right.  I wash my hands. I avoid the personal space of those who are sick.  In other words, I do all I can do avoid getting sick and yet sometimes it just happens.  No matter how hard you work to avoid bad things, sometimes they just do.

Choose the most important first.  During times of sickness a lot of sleep is involved.  With low energy, there are only a few things that can be done each day.  We must choose what will be done. What is most important?  I barely opened my eyes one day, so I laid there and just prayed.  I could pray.  In times of difficulty, we must isolate the critical and do that first.  If there is time and energy to do other things then add them later.

Our bodies are frail.  It is fascinating to me that a small rise in temperature can cause so many problems!  A virus so small can wreak havoc in our bodies quickly.  Because of this, our dependence of God rises quickly. We realize that we may be Superman to our kids, but can easily be turned into lumps lying in the bed!

It is about time for me to lie back down and drool myself to sleep.  Let me close with this from Psalm 90.

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. O Lord , come back to us! How long will you delay? Take pity on your servants! Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.

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