Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘holyspirit’

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.

 

Day 5 Blank Slate – Multiply

In Evangelism, Leadership, Missions on January 14, 2013 at 11:38 am

Gender Symbols

I still remember the day my Dad sat down with me and gave me a book to read.  I went out to the front porch and began to read what would make an indelible mark on my young psyche.  I read it cover to cover…twice.  Honestly, I had heard this stuff but had not seen pictures in this way.  My Dad must have thought I was taking too long because he came out and wondered if I had any questions.  I did but did not want to discuss it at the time.  What I was unable to fully grasp then I did a few years later.  We are created to love and be loved.  We are made for relationships.  We are made to make more of us.

20 Then God said, “Let the water swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 21 So God created the large sea-creatures and every living creature that moves and swarms in the water, according to their kinds. He also created every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 So God blessed them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters of the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.” 23 Evening came and then morning: the fifth day.

The message of God to the animal and human (v.28) kingdom was to be fruitful and multiply.  God told every living thing to reproduce itself.  Nature would take its course.  Instinct would kick in.  The Earth would be filled with every living creature.  As they were fruitful they grew and expanded territory.  As they reproduced they filled the new spaces.

Some of the last words of Jesus were similar, though spiritual not physical.  He said,

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.

Jesus took these 11 men and created them anew through the power of faith and God’s Spirit.  Like the first days of creation, Jesus is telling them to be fruitful and multiply.  They are to develop one another and grow.  Paul would later define fruitfulness in Galatians 5: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.  When we are fruitful we grow up in Christ.  This growth and development helps us to expand the territory.  This kind of fruit attracts others and we are able to bring them into the family of faith by faith in Jesus.  We multiply because of fruitfulness.  We multiply because it is our calling.  We multiply because our spiritual nature will take its course.  Our new spiritual instinct will kick in.  Multiplication is not complicated because as “new creatures in Christ” we were designed for it.

Be fruitful and multiply.   Make disciples.

 

 

Are You a People Person?

In Church, Family, Jesus, Journey on December 28, 2012 at 11:15 am

Multi-Gen

It’s all about the people.

Numbers are cold.  Programs suck energy. Traditions stifle creativity.  People are creations of God while the rest are creations of people.  On which do you think God prefers us to focus?

Looking at the life and times of Jesus we see that we was about people.

His birth intersected with people.  Mary’s life would never be the same.  As a young virgin, she became pregnant and remained a virgin until after the birth.  She would not be the same after an angelic visit and a Holy Spirit visit.  Joseph had an angelic visit also reminding him that the traditions of the people must take a backseat to the desires of God in this moment.  The shepherds and the magi would be affected as well by the birth of God as a human.  Not all people enjoyed this news of the birth of Jesus.  The Bible reports that Herod and all Jerusalem were troubled.  Even as a baby, Jesus was working with and through (literally) people.

Why do we want programs?  Why must we focus on projects?  It’s all about the people.

His youth intersected with people.  We find Jesus sitting with the Pharisees as a teenager.  He is talking and discussing things with them?  Jesus wanted to spend time with another generation.  He engaged them.  He conversed with them.  He did not set up a new temple outreach program.  He did not begin a new temple worship.  He spent time with people.

People.

In the early days of ministry, Jesus walked by a commercial fishing establishment.  He called out to the men.  Look at Mark 1.

16 As He was passing along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen.17 “Follow Me,” Jesus told them, “and I will make you fish for people!” 18 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 19 Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in their boat mending their nets. 20 Immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him.

“I will make you fish for people.”  What did Jesus mean?

1.  He wants a unified focus on people.  I am not a hater of programs because they can systematically help us reach people.  My problem is that we set up a good program and then simply work to keep up the mechanics and disregard the meaning.

2.  He wants us to come into people’s lives and make a difference.  We all have friends.  We all have family.  So did Jesus.  He left heaven to come to and for you.  Let us make room for some new people in our lives.  They are not projects.  They are just new people who can make a difference in your life and you in theirs.

3.  He wants us to mix it up generationally.  Spend time with people outside your age-group.  Take the time to visit other Bible study classes and groups within the church.  Go to the coffee shop early and hang out with the guys.  Sit with someone 30-50 years different from your age (not family) in church or the bus or at a community gathering.  We gather in our holy huddles and build our walls of misinformation and miscommunication.

4.  He wants you to bring people to God.  People are not projects.  People need Jesus.  Find a common interest and establish a relationship with someone.  Maybe they know Jesus.  Maybe they do not.  Build a bridge and go over it.

Are you a people person?  Jesus was.

 

 

Warm-Ups

In Decisions, Jesus on December 5, 2012 at 3:02 pm

childrens-christmas-musical_t_nv

I am working with our children for our Christmas musical.  During one recent practice I had just the script people working on memorization.  As we were going through the script I noticed it was getting flat during the telling of the birth of Jesus Christ.  By that I mean that there was no emotion, no joy, nothing.  Lines were being read but they were losing their meaning.  I stopped the kids and encouraged them to read and say the lines as if it was for the first time.  They had read these lines dozens of times.  We had gone over them many times as a group.  At this point the lines were not new.  The emotion was lost.  It was cold.  Reading back through it as if it were the first time brought joy and warmth back to the script.  We laughed and carried on but we all learned something valuable that day.

The familiar has a way of losing its meaning.

We see this problem in many ways.  A marriage grows cold as romance lessens and familiarity grows.  While you would think that the more we know the hotter things get, it actually works the opposite if we do not work at it.  The job you were so passionate to get becomes routine and boring.  The adrenaline rush you once had from attempting certain feats lessens and you have to keep doing things bigger and more dangerous.  Even in church we find ourselves yawning and looking at our watch.  Worship does not just happen to you.  Worship is what you do toward a Holy God.  We must work at it.  The Bible has become something we know but not something we let change us.  We have grown cold to the calls of the Holy Spirit through Scripture.  Even the story of the birth of Jesus Christ has grown stale for many in light of cultural standards of relativism and consumerism.

The fact that a teenage girl was visited by an angel, got pregnant and stayed a virgin seems impossible.  The fact that the guy would stay with her through it all and not sleep with her until after the birth is incredible…almost unbelievable!  In the 9th month she travels by donkey.  The bouncing probably causes her water to break.  They are frantic to find a spot to spend the night.  There are no rooms.  However, there is a barn.  There is a trough.  There is hay.  In the middle of this scene, a baby is born.  Not just any baby.  The Son of God whom Joseph would raise as his own.  Let the story touch you again this year.

Don’t allow that which is familiar to lose its meaning.  Choose to have joy.  Choose to be a follower of Christ.  Choose to bring warmth back into your life.

 

What Would John Do?

In behavior, Church, Family on November 16, 2012 at 9:27 am

I know what you’re thinking, “This slacker is taking a shortcut.  Those stinking’ Gen Xers are always lazy and good-for-nothing….”

Everybody knows we are to do whatever Jesus did.  To ask this question is just silly, right?  How can we ever grow in holiness following John?  How can we ever be sanctified following someone who ate locusts and honey?  (Of course, your insides would be extra clean on this diet!)  Don’t we all know that Jesus is God and God said to be holy like He is holy?  Are you pulling some David Platt experiment on me and want me to be radical, living in the desert having sold all I have?  (That’s a joke David!)

When I read this Scripture:

13 But the angel said to him:Do not be afraid, Zechariah,because your prayer has been heard.Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,and you will name him John. 14 There will be joy and delight for you,and many will rejoice at his birth.15For he will be great in the sight of the Lord and will never drink wine or beer. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb. 16 He will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God.17And he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah,to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous,to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.

Did you notice the last phrase “to make ready for the Lord a prepared people”?  While I understand we are to be holy like God, I feel so much like a failure.  This makes me more humble and hungry for the Word to enrich my life toward God.  However, I resonate with John.  I am a part of the Church.  I am the Gospel Project.  You are too!  John’s purpose according to that last part is to make ready for the Lord a prepared  people.  We wait for Jesus to return.  We want our friends and family to be ready also.  In other words, we are doing the same thing John was going to do: make ready for the Lord a prepared people.

So, what would(did) John do?

1.  He was filled with the Holy Spirit.  From birth the Bible says he was filled with the Holy Spirit.  Later in life he continued to make the choices necessary for the free flow of the Spirit’s power.  The only way to be filled with the Spirit is through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  He paid the price for our sins by dying on the cross.  He provided life through His resurrection.  Our putting faith in His activity as sufficient for salvation is critical.  The Holy Spirit arrives and gives you the power to put into practice that which He desires.

2.  He didn’t let the culture dictate his desires.  He lived in the desert.  He ate locusts and honey.  He wore camel skins.  He was not a fashionista or hipster.  He didn’t care that the iPhone 5 was out because his iPhone 3 was still working.  Did I mention his housing arrangements?

3.  He believed in family ministry.  He was less concerned with event ministry and more concerned with relationships.  The angel said that John would turn the hearts of the fathers to their children.  Research has shown over and over the deep impact a father has over the family.

4.  He believed in redemptive ministry.  How many times have we heard, “Don’t judge me!”?  Two things are going on here.  First, we are probable being judgmental.  Let’s be honest, the Christian community has a way of hating the sin and hating the sinner.  We do poorly at communicating love for the person while trying to express a biblical truth.  Second, people feel the weight of their sin when Scripture is presented and they don’t like it!

In your opinion, what would John do?

If NBC wrote mottos for the Church…

In Church on October 22, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I admit I like this show.  I liked season one better than the others because it had more football and less angst and drama.  Yet, my wife and I watched it all the way to its inglorious end!  I especially like the motto that Coach Taylor used throughout the series: Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose!

Taking from that strain of thought, I wondered what would a motto for church would sound like.  I have been reading through Acts lately and something in chapter 2 really hit me.  The disciples had been told to wait for the Holy Spirit who would bring power into their lives.  Jesus had returned to the Father. He had promised a replacement; a comforter.  This would be the Holy Spirit as He called Him.  He promised them power, ability, and courage if they would be patient and wait.  Huddled in a room they prayed for days.  On the day of Pentecost, which is a big deal in Jewish life, they were all gathered together in one place.  That first verse in chapter 2 can be overlooked because we want to get to the big stuff, but they were all together in one place when God made the big move.

Coach Taylor brought up the motto all the time.  He wanted them to realize that if they were going to win then they needed clear eyes and full hearts.  If you have watched the show, you know the alcohol involved. the indulgence of kids brought several difficulties in their lives.  I think clear eyes have to do with focus also.  The team as a whole needed to be focused on the job at hand and not wandering around with other agendas.  The players also needed full hearts which is a reference, I believe, to relationships.  The players that were emotionally healthy were positive, productive, people.

Is there a chant for the church today?  Is there some great motivating concept? If we want to experience a mighty move of God we have to be in position for it.  We must make ourselves available for it to happen in our lives and churches.  What is this concept?

I know it’s longer and maybe not as catchy but this is important for us.  I may not have NBC backing this motto and plastering it everywhere, but we must consider it.

One Heart speaks to our emotions.  Do I love the people in my church?  Do I know them?  Do I know their names, families, or birthday?  Do I know their pains and joys?  Churches with one heart do.  Those churches are places people want to be.  Don’t believe the hype that everyone wants to be anonymous.  People are grasping for relationships any way they can acquire.  The church is to be that place of safe, stable, supportive relationships.

One Mind speaks to our vision and focus.  What does your church believe?  Does everyone believe the same doctrines?  Do they agree on the primary items of theology?  How is your church attempting to achieve the Great Commission? Do you have a purpose or vision that resonates with the church and impacts the culture?  Church is not a building.  Church is people bonded together by the blood of Jesus to affect a better future for those around them.

One Place speaks to position.  Do the majority of your congregation attend every week?  Or is it, like many, every other week that is the same group?  If they all showed up at the same time it is both amazing and exciting rolled together!  We live such busy lives that we relegate church to an equal position with everything else.  In fact, if the church could acquire good family guilt our attendance might increase!  The point is that if the church ever wants to see God move people need to be present together.

Full Power refers to what happened next.  The disciples were all together in one place making themselves available to God for whatever purpose He chose.  In this position of availability He poured out the Holy Spirit.  If the church today wants to receive the full power of God we must make ourselves available.

One Heart. One Mind. One Place. Full Power.

Everyday Superheros

In behavior, Decisions, Jesus on September 20, 2012 at 9:41 am

Do you remember Underoos?  Which superhero was your favorite?  I had Superman and Spiderman.  As a child, you thought about being that superhero.  Did it save you from Ed the bully?  No, but you sure felt confident before leaving the house.  There were enough options you could be a superhero everyday if you wanted.

I have some great news for you…being a superhero everyday is still possible!!

You, like me, probably feel like unlikely candidates for such honor.  Yet, there is a source of unlimited power that waits to flow through you.  Thankfully, this does not involve special underwear.  It involves a very special relationship.  There is a family willing to adopt you and give to you the source of unlimited power to carry out unimaginable tasks.  Cool, right? Interested?

When Moses stood before God, he wondered whom he would say sent him to the Israelites in Egypt.  God replied, “I AM”.  God has always existed.  Always.  That’s a long time for us to fathom.  In fact, we cannot really understand forever.  It is just the left pointing arrow on the timeline that goes off into space….not to Middle Earth.  That left arrow goes into the infinite, where God was and is and will be.

God is.

He has presented Himself to us in three forms to help us wrap our minds around his greatness.  He has been God the Father through the Old Testament.  He still is God the Father, but His expression of this form was greater in the OT.  God the Son, Jesus Christ, helped us understand the great lengths to which He would go to provide a pathway back to Himself.  Through Jesus Christ we can be adopted into the family.  Jesus’ death paid for our sin.  Jesus’ resurrection provides hope for a future after physical death.  God the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, is currently the form He engages humanity with today.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus refers to Himself 7 times using the words “I am”

I am the bread of life. John 6:35
I am the light of the world. John 8.12
I am the door. John 10:7
I am the good shepherd. John 10:11
I am the resurrection and the life. John 11:25
I am the way, the truth, and the life. John 14:6
I am the vine. John 15:1

God used a verb of being and presence with Moses.  Jesus used a similar phrase in the first century.  He even went a step further and said He and God were one in John 8:24, 28.  Jesus is God!  He is the Great I Am.  The One who would come after is of the same essence.  The Spirit is God also.  When, by faith you turn your life over to God, you receive forgiveness, hope, and the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit inhabits your soul.  The Great I Am resides in your life.

The One who resides past the left arrow having unlimited power has chosen to house Himself within you.  Listen to how Paul explains this new state.

19 For through the law I have died to the law, so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ 20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

Because of Christ we can be everyday superheros.  We can accomplish tasks never before imagined.  For those receiving this love, help, and hope will be ready to hear how they can be adopted into this superhero group.  Look what Jesus had to say on this service matter.

34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

35 For I was hungry
and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty
and you gave Me something to drink;
I was a stranger and you took Me in;

36 I was naked and you clothed Me;
I was sick and you took care of Me;
I was in prison and you visited Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You?

39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’
40 “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’

Matthew 25

Being an everyday superhero is not about your underwear, but your innerwear.  Are you clothed with the righteousness of Christ so that you can be sealed with the promise of the Spirit creating an everyday superhero?

Be that hero today.

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