Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Gospel of Matthew’

Driving School Steps 6-10

In Chrisian Life on November 8, 2013 at 7:00 am

Clipart-PinewoodDerbyCar

Here are the rest of the steps to Driving School for the Royal Ambassadors (Boys 1st-6th Grade) pinewood derby.  The ability to draw out the vision, sanding, and painting are good and useful things to know.  The following is something I have developed to give as  devotions to the boys after each part of the process.

6.  Paint and Stripe (1 Corinthians 12) – At this point all the cars look very similar since the primer we used was the same for all the cars.  The fun begins here because the boys choose the color and definition for their car.  By the time we get done, no two cars look-alike but they are all in the same group.  Your life and the church is just like that car.  You have unique talents and abilities given to you by God.  These are used in and through the local church.  Every person in the body of Christ is different but in the same group.  Paul addresses this idea in the chapter referenced.  There are many members but one body.  Be proud of your paint and stripes, but remember, you are still part of a group!

7.  Clear Coat (1 Thessalonians 5:11) – The cars have been cut, sanded, primed, and painted.  At this point we introduce the clear coat to the boys.  This is a final touch before the wheels go on.  The clear coat provides an extra layer of protection and a glossy finish.  When the light hits these cars they shine like crazy.  Adding the clear coat is not required but highly encouraged.  Putting ourselves in a position to encourage and be encouraged to make right decisions at the right times and for the right reasons is a sign of maturity.  As we encourage one another and build each other up we help one another shine in the light of Jesus for all the World to see.

8.  Wheels (Matthew 28:18-20) – The boys can hardly contain themselves at this point.  Putting on the wheels is the final step in building a car.  With the wheels we are able to put the cars into motion.  The boys need to handle the car carefully because of alignment issues that can cause the car to wreck, or jump into another lane harming another car.  We are charged to make disciples of the nations.  We are put into motion by the wheels of the Great Commission.  Let us go, handling the Gospel carefully in order to keep moving at a rapid pace!

9.  Race (Hebrews 12:1-2) – Race day is a fun and exciting time for all involved.  Before each race we make sure the wheels have enough graphite to keep the friction to a minimum and increase speed.  Our lives need to maintained before each day so that we can run the race set out for us by God.  Putting on graphite is spending time in prayer, confession, and Bible reading to aid in laying aside the sin in our lives.

10.  Win (Acts 8:26-40) – Wins come at different stages depending on the boy.  Some boys win because they completed their car.  Some boys win because they competed in a race.  Some boys win because the timer said they did.  All the boys win because of the joy and value of fellowship, friendship, and fun being joined into the process.  Our win as Christians is helping someone else place their faith and trust into Jesus as their solution to sin and eternity.

 

Hokey Pokey Christianity

In Chrisian Life on October 10, 2013 at 7:55 am

Hokey Pokey

“You put your hands in. You put your hands out.
You put your hands in and you shake them all about!”

Informally, I have studied people in church life for 25 years.  It still amazes me how people act when they come to faith in Jesus.  It also amazes me what we teach people when they come to faith in Jesus.  It is not secret that the church has her own culture, language, and habits.  In essence, the Church is its own people group.  Was this what Jesus had in mind?

When Jesus walked through the Jerusalem IRS office he stopped to talk to a man named Matthew.  In visiting with him, the man got up and walked away with him.  We notice later that Matthew hosts a party where he brings Jesus and his pagan friends into the same space.

What?

We tend to teach new converts to walk AWAY FROM our old lives.  We are to clear away all that old stuff to make way for all the new.  The problem is Jesus did not do this.  We teach new converts, informally, that the only friends they are supposed to have are in the church.  They are to put both hands in.

Once we have alienated them their lost friends, who need Jesus, we retrain them to go do evangelism.  We give them a script and tell them to repeat that to their lost friends until they run screaming into the night or into the arms of Jesus!  They are to put both hands out.

However, they are not to spend too much time with those friends because they might develop “outside” relationships again and “fall away” from the church.  They are to put both hands in and shake them all about.

The problem is Jesus did not do this!  Matthew, at this party, had one hand out to his friends and one hand out to Jesus.  This is the picture we see Jesus encouraging.  If we put both hands in, or out, we turn our backs on the other.  When we reach with one hand each way we are more closely aligned with the life and style of Jesus.

Forgive-Them-Nots

In Forgiveness on November 8, 2012 at 11:34 pm

 


Do you remember doing this?  If you’re a girl, you probably do. I don’t know of a single guy to ever do this, but I am sure someone did!  If you recall, pull each petal and chant either “He loves me” or “He loves me not” like some New Orleans French Quarter Fortune Teller.  The fate of the relationship rested on the last petal.  Does he love me or not?  I have often wanted to do this with forgiveness.  I have wanted to go pick a daisy and begin pulling its petals out saying either “Forgive them” or “Forgive them …. NOT!”  (That was so an 80’s reference!)  This concept of forgiveness has received a bad wrap over the years.  We have such quirky thoughts when it comes to forgiveness that we have become paralyzed with fear that if we forgive we have somehow publicly condoned whatever it was the person did to us.

I wonder if Peter had a daisy in his hand when he asked Jesus this?  I bet he did!

There is something inside of us that screams “Injustice!” when it comes to forgiveness.  Our anger, bitterness, and hurt cannot fathom forgiveness as an option.  Yet, Jesus tells us to put down our daisies and listen to this story.

What do we do about forgiveness?  Let’s begin with what forgiveness is not:

1.  Forgiveness is not saying the action was acceptable.  Often we believe that forgiveness means we are condoning an action or behavior.  Forgiveness does not mean we accept something wrong as right.

2.  Forgiveness does not erase all the pain.  Our pain is so deep at times that forgiveness seems unattainable.  How is forgiveness going to help me?  Forgiveness is not to be misunderstood as forgetfulness.  While forgiveness begins a healing process, it does not erase immediately.

3.  Forgiveness is not removing guilt.  If someone has harmed you, they are guilty of that wrong.  To forgive does not remove them of the guilt or potential consequences of their behavior.

Now let’s look at what forgiveness really is:

1.  Forgiveness is a choice.  It is not an emotion.  It is not a feeling.  Forgiveness is a choice of our  mind and will.

2. Forgiveness is a response to what Jesus has done for us.

3.  Forgiveness is being more concerned with the future than the past.  Forgiveness releases you from being controlled by an event or person.  As long as you harbor ill-will or anger it only hurts you.  How does holding on to that emotion hurt the person?  They go on living.  You go on dying.  Forgiveness releases the grip of death and allows you to be free to live.

I forgive not because it is easy.  I forgive because I have been forgiven.  God forgave me of my sin at the cross of Jesus.  I was released of my guilt at the moment of my faith.  I have been set free.  How incredulous would it be of me to hoard forgiveness?  That which cost God so much to give me must be paid forward to those who have harmed me. Forgiveness is hard.  It is exhausting.  It is releasing.  Forgiveness is holy.

I forgive because I was forgiven first.  I love because I was loved first.

The Green-Eyed Monster and God

In Anger, Betrayal, Decisions, Leadership, Missions, Parenting, Trust on August 21, 2012 at 8:36 am

It will consume you.

Are you ever jealous of those last-minute-deathbed-decision believers?  They lived their life however they pleased and then made a decision at the end.  Hold your hands up.  How many ever feel jealous of them?  They had Sundays to themselves.  They didn’t have to take time away for mission trips, ministry projects, or work days at the church.  They didn’t have to find time to read and communicate with God.  They had more family time.  They could manicure their lawn.  3 day weekends were 3 days off.  Ever grow jealous?

Jesus speaks to his followers about the Kingdom of Heaven quite a bit.  In Matthew 20, he tells the parable (a story that has spiritual meaning).  A vineyard owner needs workers.  He goes out at 6am and negotiates a wage and hires whomever is there.  He goes out at 9, 12, and 5pm and makes the same deal.  At 6pm the workers gather for their daily wage.  He begins with those hired last and gives them their wage.  The 6am crowd are drooling over this because they assume that the owner will pay more even though they agreed for the same wage.  The owner surprises them and gives the same amount to all who worked.They argue about the unfair policy to which the owner referred to what had been negotiated.

I believe we all would cry foul at this practice.  We argue loudly when the government wants to spread the wealth.  We argue when people who don’t care to work seem to acquire more than those who do work.  We are mad!  How can someone who does not work, or even try to find a job, get equal treatment?  We feel this injustice.  We fight over this imbalance.  We are jealous that we work all day and someone else does not.  We mask it in politics and policies discussion.  Yet, it is simply jealousy.  We are jealous that we work hard for our money and someone who does not gets paid decently through other means.

Now we are faced with a problem.  This jealousy does not stay only in the financial arena. This jealousy expands into the spiritual arena.  We who have given our lives to Jesus and strive diligently to follow Him everyday grow weary.  We see someone who has lived their life apart from God come to Jesus at the last-minute and we feel anger, resentment, jealousy like those in the story.  We see youth party hard through school and college.  In their 20’s they turn their life over and we who were “good” wonder why we ever worried.

Before we go and instruct our children to live it up and get saved later, please consider something.  Those who went to work at 6 or 9 did not have to worry about whether they would find a job or get paid.  They had a peace and security the others did not.  Those who went at 12 had waited with anxiety all morning hoping they would get something.  Those who went to work at 5pm had all day to fret and worry.  Meanwhile, the “good ones” who worked all day looked forward to the end knowing they would receive payment.  They worked hard knowing the pay was coming.  They were secure.  In fact, they may have thought about how good their day was compared to those poor saps who had no job.

Before we grow jealous of the party crowd, consider the peace and security you have knowing Heaven awaits you because of your faith in Christ.  Consider how those without this security and hope must feel.  Sure, it seems they have more fun, more family time, and perfectly manicured lawn.  They sleep in.  They get mani-pedis and movies on Sunday.  They do not have hope.  They do not have real peace. They do not have joy.  You who went to “work” early do.  Embrace this peace and joy.  Enjoy the hope and security.

Your life in Christ all these years has provided you with far more than having those years without Him.

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

Does It Float?

In behavior, Church, Leadership, Missional, Politics on August 15, 2012 at 9:17 am

I have watched David Letterman for years.  Some of you were Carson fans while others are Leno or Conan viewers.  Though not as much as I used to, I watch Letterman.  As he continues to jump the shark to keep viewers as he ages and races toward irrelevance, one of his latest items on the comedic agenda is “Does It Float?”  During this time an item or two will be brought out and voted as to whether it will float in the tank of water or not.  Paul gets it right some of the time.  Letterman brings out zany items for us all to see whether it will float or not.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do the same with doctrine and tradition?  Jesus deals with this in Matthew 15.

1 Then Pharisees and scribes came from Jerusalem to Jesus and asked,

2 “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they don’t wash their hands when they eat!”
3 He answered them, “And why do you break God‘s commandment because of your tradition?

4 For God said:
Honor your father and your mother; and,
The one who speaks evil of father or mother
must be put to death.
5 But you say, ‘Whoever tells his father or mother, “Whatever benefit you might have received from me is a gift [committed to the temple]”- 6 he does not have to honor his father.’ In this way, you have revoked God’s word because of your tradition.

7 Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said:

8 These people honor Me with their lips,
but their heart is far from Me.

9 They worship Me in vain,
teaching as doctrines the commands of men.”

In this context, Jesus is referring to the Pharisees who were taking religious order to new heights with the rules and regulations.  Over 650 for the Sabbath Day alone not to mention the other 9 commands!  He makes a bold statement to them in these verses, specifically in verse 9.  He states that they are teaching people to adhere to the rules and ideas of Man as if they were of God.  How often do we do this in our lives and churches?

I remember one night at church, the pastor was teaching the lesson and opened up for questions.  I admit, I was slightly rebellious and the pastor was my Dad.  However, I did begin with legitimacy when I asked “Why?”  I don’t remember what he was even teaching on at this point, but I wanted to know why we should believe or behave in the ways being taught.  A vague answer was given and I responded with another desire for further explanation.  In short, I did not receive a satisfactory answer other than “It’s right because I say it is.”  I am not disrespecting my Dad here but raising a point of concern I believe is rampant in the church today as much as it was in the temple of the 1st Century.  We command people to do certain things because “We say so!”

A child approached her mother one evening and asked why she was cutting the ends of the ham before putting it in the pot.  To the girl this seemed silly because the pot was certainly large enough to hold the entire thing.  Her Mom replied, “I don’t know, go ask your grandmother.  I do because she did.”  The girl gets off the stool and finds grandma in another room.  She quietly sits down next to her and begins to ask about the ham and cutting off the ends.  Her grandmother thought for a minute and replied,  “That’s just the way my Mother taught me to do it.”  After further discussion and investigation it was determined that the reason 4 generations of people were cutting off the ends of the ham was because 100 years ago the pot was too small!  The little girl was confused.  Why cut off the ham when the pot was large enough today?  Her Mom was treating as doctrine a tradition of Man, if you will.

How often we do this in church life today!

Take a look at the things you do and consider why you do them.  Some things don’t matter, like the ham.  However, other things do matter.

Why does a quiet time have to be in the morning?
Why do people have to walk the aisle before getting baptized?
Why are deacon elections popularity contests?
Are elders really of the devil?  That word in Timothy is tricky, right?
Why is music worship but preaching is not?
Why are programs and methods raised to doctrinal levels?

I have witnessed people making such strong claims to these, and other, issues one would think the bodily resurrection of Jesus was being debated.  Much of the things we argue about are preference more than doctrine.  Let us be careful not to treat as doctrine the simple preferences and stylistic choices of man.

How nice it might be if we could just throw so many of these things in a spiritual pool and what does not float is understood to just be preference, secondary, or tertiary to the real heart of the Gospel and the Church.  Let us hold firm to the primary and loosen our grip on the rest.  In this way, I believe our collective blood pressure will drop into a healthy range lengthening our productivity and widening our effectiveness.  Before you drop your spiritual bomb on someone’s day take a minute and consider if it would float.

Follow Me

In behavior, Church, Commitment, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Jesus, Missional, Missions, SBC on August 7, 2012 at 9:40 am

Follow Me.

Isn’t it amazing how we can take two simple words and complicate them to such a degree as we have in church life?  What does it mean to follow Jesus?  What must we do to be considered a follower of Jesus.  In short, follow Jesus.

That’s too easy!

Why do we think  Jesus wanted this to be difficult?  Why do we believe that Jesus wanted our focus to be on rules and religious order?  When Jesus walked along the shore He stopped and talked with a few young men.  He told them to, “Follow Me.”  These men were following their father.  They had been in the fishing business their entire life and had not considered any other life.  The financial structure of their home depended on this business.  By the way, isn’t a part of our job as men to support our family?  They were doing the task that was expected of them.

Follow Me.

How confusing it must have been for them to leave their father, leave their finances, and leave their families.  We discover later that Jesus stops by to heal Peter‘s mother-in-law.  So he is married.  Does he have children?  What kind of parent leaves their family to follow some guy who walks up and says, “Follow Me.”?  Who does that?  Did Zebedee have a few choice words to his boys, John and James, before they walked off the job?  Did he have concerns that were unwritten in the Gospels?  We will never know.  What we do know is that Jesus showed up and everything changed!  Everything they had known to that point was readjusted in the light of the presence of Jesus.  The structure of their day and life and livelihood would forever be altered.  How did Zebedee receive the boys at the festivals when they came home?  Did Peter’s children still love him or did the anger of an absent father affect them too much?

Jesus said two words.  The theologians have developed libraries of books trying to decipher exactly what those two words mean.  We establish rules and structures to further develop what Jesus meant as if what He said wasn’t complete.  Surely Jesus meant ____________ ?  You fill in the blank.  I have been taught for years what that blank is.  I have been teaching for years the answers to the blanks.  What exactly trips us up about “Follow Me”?

I think we are a lot like two fellows who approached Jesus in Matthew 8 wanting to follow Him.  To the first, Jesus simply brought to light that it would not be a life of leisure, comfort, or wealth.  The animals had better living quarters that Jesus did.  The followers should not expect anything better.  To the other, Jesus replied with a harsh sounding statement.  The man wanted to bury his father.  Jesus responds with let the dead bury the dead.  There is nothing you can do for the dead.  There is much to be done for the living.

Follow Me.

What drives us to develop complete dogmas about these two words?  Is it because they seem to easy?  Is it because we are challenged to the core when we hear them?  I believe it can be both depending on your personality.  For those who want complete structure and order in life following Jesus can be too easy and free feeling.  What is the schedule?  What will we do today?  What time will we leave, return, eat, sleep, and go to the  bathroom?  These are not always in concrete with Jesus.  For those who enjoy the pleasures of life and the toys of our culture, following Jesus is not convenient.  Just about the time you settle in, Jesus is leaving.  When you think it is time to go and you are standing at the door, he begins a new conversation.

We must remember that it has less to do with religious structure and church culture and more to do with Jesus.  We are not called to follow a theologian or popular writer.  We called to follow Jesus.  We are not called to follow a denominational guideline.  We are called to follow Jesus.  Would Jesus read scripture and talk with the Father?  Yes…read the Gospels.  Would Jesus attend church regularly?  Yes…read the Gospels.  Would Jesus want us to go out in ministry and evangelism?  Yes…read the Gospels.  Would Jesus want us to develop as humans who live in two cultures, here and Heaven?  Yes…read the Gospels.  Jesus modeled all of these things we do in church.  We must remember, though, that we behave in these ways FOR JESUS.

Are you following Jesus?

Deregulation

In Church, Jesus, Leadership on October 11, 2011 at 8:31 am

Who is in charge of the church service?

Some might say the worship leader. Some might say the preacher. Actually, Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. If this is true, then those who are in public positions on Sunday are merely responsible for their portion. If Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, then those same people are not accountable to the preferences of a constantly changing culture. They are responsible to a never-changing God.  Jesus often did things on the Sabbath or in the Synagogue/Temple that just burned the Pharisees.  He was not intentionally trying to disturb the Pharisees, their regulations were so vast and strict that no one could actually worship anymore.  Jesus in Matthew 12 calls for a deregulation concerning the Sabbath.

1 At that time Jesus passed through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick and eat some heads of grain. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!” 3 He said to them, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and those who were with him were hungry 4 how he entered the house of God, and they ate the sacred bread, which is not lawful for him or for those with him to eat, but only for the priests? 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that on Sabbath days the priests in the temple violate the Sabbath and are innocent? 6 But I tell you that something greater than the temple is here! 7 If you had known what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent.  8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Since we worship corporately on Sunday, instead of the Sabbath Saturday, what does this mean for the people in church on Sunday? Here are three brief things we can learn from these verses:

  1.  God (Father, Son, and Spirit) is to be the focus not the people.
  2.  Mercy overrides any natural response.
  3.  Rigidity to certain styles and orders denies the Spirit’s leadership.

Before you enter another church service here are three simple prayers we need to say.

  1.  Help me to focus on you God and nothing else. Clear my mind and cleanse my heart of any selfishness.
  2.  Fill me with mercy, God, so that it flows out of me when things do not meet my expectations from those leading the people.
  3.  Soften me and make me flexible for the next 90 minutes.

May we truly worship the next time we gather together in the name of Jesus!

Until the Whole World Hears

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2011 at 7:20 am

Over the past 20 years I have traveled outside of the U.S. on a number of mission trips.  God has allowed me to travel to Hungary, Mexico, and Africa.  There was an opportunity to go to the Land of Lottie, but SARS struck and the trip was cancelled.  Why have I traveled?  Because I feel the need for others to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I have a passion to assist local leaders learn the Word when they do not have a copy of their own, or could not read it if they did!  Casting Crowns came out with a song a little while ago entitles “Until the Whole World Hears”.  I have included a video for you:

This is at the very heart of God. From the very moment of Eve and Adam taking a bite of the forbidden fruit, God has been at work through His people to let the entire world hear of his glory and come into a relationship with Him. As you can see, this is not a new concept. God called Abraham to be the seed of promise and restoration of humanity back to God. A nation would be born to serve as a light to the world. God wanted to use the lineage of Abraham to develop a people group that would relay God’s love, grace, mercy, holiness, and wrath in order to lead to potential re-establishment of the broken relationship. God worked through Isaac, then through Jacob. The twelve tribes of Israel would be the divisions of the promised land. God’s agenda is simple: bring the world to Himself.

As I have read through Deuteronomy, I came to the final speech of Moses. This is where he lays out the blessings for obedience and cursings for disobedience. In the blessings passage, we find a restating of this common thread of God desiring for the world to know Him.

9 The Lord will establish you as His holy people, as He swore to you, if you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. 10 Then all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by Yahweh’s name, and they will stand in awe of you. 11 The Lord will make you prosper abundantly with children, the offspring of your livestock, and your land’s produce in the land the Lord swore to your fathers to give you.
Deuteronomy 28

I have noticed many of our missionaries signing letters with the phrase “Until the whole world hears”. While we know Jesus referenced the notion that His return would not happen until the whole world has heard in Matthew 24:14.

14 This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come.

In His sovereignty, God has chosen to place the responsibility for the task of information dissemination to us. While I do not believe we can dictate to God. We must consider that the delay of His part for Jesus’ return is one of mercy. Have I shared the gospel to the fullest extinct? Do I go to the ends of the Earth? Do I help others go to the ends of the Earth? As sympathetic as I am for my neighborhood, each of them has had a chance to hear the gospel. There are thousands of people groups who have not heard even the very name of Jesus! What are we doing about them? What can we do about them?

Pray – begin praying the the message of God will have the ability to spread worldwide. Begin praying for those people groups that have not heard. I am not speaking of those who have heard. Let us begin praying for those who have not heard the gospel.

Pick – pick a group and pray specifically for them. You probably don’t know them. In fact, I would say you will not know them, but God knows them. Intercede on their behalf. Pray for God to stay His hand of eternal judgment so the gospel may be preached and faith engaged among the people.

Proclaim – find a way to begin a relationship with this people group. Strategize with International Mission Board personnel responsible for that area or affinity group. Work with your state convention missions group to begin this relational process. Begin to envision a time when you will be in the villages loving the people and sharing Jesus.

Until the whole world hears. This is the heartbeat of God. Make it yours.

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