Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Jesu’

How to Respond When Nobody Believes You

In Chrisian Life, Life and Culture on December 18, 2013 at 9:37 am

S2-amy-nuttall-as-housemaid-edith_595Change is the Longest Four-Letter Word

How many times have we been sucked into someone else’s problems with the culture at work, school, or local council meetings?  I can tell you that it happens… A LOT.  I have the nature of asking too many questions.  I get slammed for it sometimes.  To be fair, I get glares, stares, and eyes rolled.  It does not really bother me because if we do not ask and answer honest questions then we cannot ever really get to the truth or effective conclusions.

The traditions that bind us are often good.  However, sometimes they need changing.  Change is the longest “four-letter” word.  The mature do not like change because they have grown accustomed to the routine of their life.  The physical limitations, though unspoken, can cause a need to have systems and habits in place.  However, tell a 20-something that their wi-fi will be down and suddenly it all comes clear of who has habits in different ways.  Telling a child what does and does not truly exist can certainly rock their world too.

The point is that we have a certain order to our life we enjoy.  If that order is adjusted we can unleash holy terror.  None is worse than in religious circles.  Jesus is all about changing lives.  However, that change is often questioned, mocked, or deemed unbelievable.  We often work out of a certain system of culture and relationships.  When someone wants to break through they find it very difficult regardless of how their life is right now.  For example, poor Ethel on Downton Abbey can’t seem to catch a break because of her life choices that she has since shed.  Even Isobel is catching fire over her helping such a person.

Jesus helped a man born blind.  The man faced numerous questions and was even thrown under the bus by his parents.  If he had access to Ice T he might have told the people to not hate the player, but to hate the game.  While that was totally too much gangsta for that day, the man was really saying what the Urban Dictionary has to say on this matter:

Do not fault the successful participant in a flawed system; try instead to discern and rebuke that aspect of its organization which allows or encourages the behavior that has provoked your displeasure.

How to Respond

Simple truth is best.  When the neighbors asked he responded with the simple truth.  When the Pharisees asked he, again, gave a simple answer.  His parents were brought in and then he was questioned again.  He got emotional, but gave a simple answer.  Too often we try to get complicated so that we look more prestigious, affluent, educated, or pious.  Let us just give honest simple answers with regard to the changes God has made in our lives through Jesus.  Realize that not everyone will understand or agree, but that does not eliminate the effect Jesus has on you.

I don’t know.  We shy away from making this statement because of fear.  We are afraid of looking bad.  We cannot handle the shame of ignorance society places on those who answer this way.  However, we see this man getting along just fine and he used it twice.  When the honest answer is “I don’t know”, do not make something up to look good.  Be honest….it really is the best policy.

The next time you experience a great move of God in your life be filled with joy.  At the same time, be ready for the disbelief of friends, neighbors, and possibly even your pastor.  Take heart! Keep it simple. Keep it honest.  Who knows, you too might have another personal encounter with Jesus that will radically alter your life.

Taking Your 15 Minutes

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

15minutes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Clogged Up

In Chrisian Life on May 14, 2013 at 9:12 am

Opening up the dishwasher to find that nothing is clean is frustrating.  I had noticed over the past few weeks that more and more things were not getting completely clean.  Then there was the other morning when I opened up and found nothing was clean.  What was going on?  I began to run diagnostics on the machine.  I knew water was coming in.  I knew that water was draining.  There was something wrong with the circulation pressure.  The wash arms were not spinning.  In fact, there was no water even coming through the center and upper arm.  I just knew the pump was shot!  I looked up pump prices and cried a little.  To replace the pump was half the cost of a new machine.  I listened again and heard a familiar sound.  I had heard this before with the pool pump and thought an impeller was broken.  After completely unhooking the machine I drug it out into the middle of the floor to get a better view of things.  I removed the entire pump assembly and began to investigate.  What I found next was both disturbing and disgusting.  It looked something like this:

clogged_screen  After much cleaning and rinsing, I was able to put it all back together, with the obvious extra screw, and turned it back on.  The swishing sound was almost melodic and brought back memories of when we purchased it new.  The next morning I opened up the washer to find everything absolutely clean and ready for use.

How often our lives get clogged up.  We can have spiritual flow going in and flow going out but there just isn’t any power.  Have you felt like that before?  You go to church, work at the food closet, help with homeless shelter, teach Bible class, help the poor, etc but there seems to be something missing.  We are tired.  We are cranky.  We expect to feel different.  Why is that not happening?

It very well could be that  your screens are all clogged.  We can fill our lives with spiritual music, phrases, life sayings, devotionals, and books but not have power to do that which we are called and designed to do.  We can even drain our lives through missions and ministries but not accomplish what we are designed to do.  Like a dishwasher, you were designed with a purpose.  The washer is supposed to wash the dishes.  Some might argue it is actually more like rinse and sanitize, but the point is that filling up with water and draining water is not the main purpose.  Your life is not designed by God to just be filled with spiritual stuff, whether sappy or solid.  Your life is not designed to just drain out onto the public sayings, clichés, etc.  Your life is designed with something else in mind.  Filling and draining are requirements of them main purpose.  What is my purpose on this Earth?  (No, that is not a plug for Rick Warren though he does  make a point and you can read that here.)

1.  Glorify God.  We are to live in such a way as to cause God to be treated more excellently than would normally be considered. (Isaiah 61:3)

2.  Live holy lives.  In other words we are to live up to the standard for which we have been made.  We are created in God’s image.  We are recreated at the moment of faith.  Now it is time to act in that capacity. (1 Peter 1:13-16)

3.  Make disciples.  We have the unique opportunity to spiritually produce.  As we follow Christ we are to bring others on this journey.

While some of this is external, much is internal.  You know whether you have power (water pressure) or not.  You can mask it with spiritual inflow and outflow but without the main purpose being accomplished all that will fail.  We need proper spiritual flow but sometimes our lives bet clogged up with the stresses and pains of this world.  For this reason Jesus said and I leave you with…

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things will be provided for you.
34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow,
because tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own

Life in the Rear View

In Chrisian Life, Decisions, Joshua, Journey on April 30, 2013 at 10:21 am

rear-view-mirror

Traveling to a funeral, we passed through Dallas during rush hour.  I had hoped to get through the city before it got too hectic but missed the window by a small margin.  It is amazing how early it starts now.  As we were passing through miles of construction it became a lot of start and stop.  I have never found myself nervous about driving in traffic, but I was very glad to get through to the other side!  The lanes had been narrowed from 4 to 1, the traffic was rising and everyone was in a hurry.  I am not a saint when it comes to texting in the car and I knew others were not either.  I felt like I had a bobble-head attached to my body because of looking ahead to know when to stop, to the sides to not hit any barrels, and in all the mirror to make sure others were going to stop in time.  There were a few times that I was not sure the car behind us was going to stop!  I could just see being shoved up the backside of the truck in front of us and then having the gravel/stone/dirt unload on top.  One of the times my head bobbled to the rear view mirror, I noticed two smiling faces looking back at me.  I realized my anxiety was based out of a protective sense toward those riding along.

We are told in life to never look back except to learn from history, both good and bad.  We are to look ahead, forge a path, and focus on the future.  There is a balance to all of this looking around.  We cannot simply live in the past and allow that to control our future.  Our destiny is more than responding to the past.  Certainly we can check our past decisions and create a plan to bolster our forward progress.  We cannot live life without looking in the rear view, however a steady gaze takes our eyes off the road ahead and accidents do happen.  If we only look ahead we might forget what lies behind, or just in the back seat!  We can get so enamored with our lives, our goals, our futures, our desires that we leave behind those who love us most.  Concentrating only through the windshield does not fully prepare you for reality.  What happens when your past catches up with you?  What happens if you are hit from behind or side-swiped?  Crashes happen because we are not fully paying attention to our surroundings.  Safe driving involves a balanced approach to looking ahead and in the mirrors as well as glancing at the gauges periodically in case of something critical happening now. Because of what I saw that day, I am reminded of how we are to livevu.  We are to live balanced as well.

We should look back.  We should take a look back to see from whence we came to give thanks and honor to our glorious God.  We look back to better understand how His plan is coming to fruition.  We look back to learn.

We need look around.  We should look in our other mirrors and dash gauges.  Taking a look at our surroundings helps us understand how to pray.  Awareness of our culture and context is invaluable in living a life worthy of the calling of Jesus Christ.  We cannot just mindlessly drive through life.  We are to take advantage of every situation, every conversation, every experience to fully glorify God.  We look around to listen.

We must look ahead.  Just like driving, if we never have our eyes on the road how can we ever expect to stay on the road.  I believe that we often find ourselves outdated and irrelevant when we never look ahead and map out a path.  If we only react tot he past and present without any idea of where we are trying to go we are doomed to repeat the history we are trying to avoid.  Reactionary thinking rarely takes into account the view through the windshield.  We look ahead to live.

There is no joy in reactionary living.  Like the walls around a prison, you find yourself locked inside with no hope.  Take a look back and learn.  Take a look around and listen.  Above all, look ahead so that what you have learned and heard can create a path of life and joy and peace in the hands of God.

Let’s go for a drive!

19 The people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and camped at Gilgal on the eastern limits of Jericho. 20 Then Joshua set up in Gilgal the 12 stones they had taken from the Jordan, 21 and he said to the Israelites, “In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ 22 you should tell your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, just as the Lord your God did to the •Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over. 24 This is so that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is mighty, and so that you may always •fear the Lord your God.”

Joshua 4:19-24

 

Would Jesus Have Been In 4-H?

In Chrisian Life, Community, Missional on April 24, 2013 at 8:46 am

Oklahoma 4H

I pledge
my head to clearer thinking,
my heart to greater loyalty,

my hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

My kids are in 4-H.  Right now they both hold offices in their Jr 4-H chapter.  Every month at the meeting they begin with this pledge.  At the first National 4-H Camp in Washington, DC in 1927, the present 4-H pledge, worded first by Otis Hall, state leader in Kansas, was officially adopted.  The Executive Committee of the Land-Grant College Association had requested Dr. R. A. Pearson, president of Iowa State College, and Dr. A. C. True of the Federal Extension Service to write a pledge, and they had turned in the pledge substantially as written by Hall.  In 1973, the words “and my world” were added.

As I stood there and said the pledge I wondered, “Would Jesus have been in 4-H?”  He probably would have shown sheep or goats and showmanship would have been perfect!  Coming from a carpenter family, his skills in construction would have won something at the fair.  As I recited that pledge I thought of how well each of those parts create an individual that would be honorable.  As Moses was wrapping up his time as leader he spoke to Israel and his words are recorded in the book of Deuteronomy.  One famous line is now known as the Shema from Deuteronomy 6, “4Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

When asked what was most important about the religious law given to Israel, Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.”

While the words might be rearranged a little, the same sentiment is seen in the 4H pledge.

I pledge my head to clearer thinking.  The Israelites were told to bind these words to their forehead.  God meant that figuratively to mean that Scripture should be on your mind.  Paul would later write to the Philippians, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)”  Keeping your mind set on Christ generally clears things up!

I pledge my heart to greater loyalty.  Loving God with all your heart means that the passions and desires of your life should be filtered through Scripture more than your friends and followers.  Loyalty does not happen automatically.  it takes time and attention.  Loyalty is a decision.  The wisest of all kings, Solomon, wrote, ‘Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.  Tie them around your neck;write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 3:3)”

I pledge my hands to larger service.  Helping other people can be seen throughout the life of Jesus.  Because of Him, the lame walked, the deaf heard, the mute spoke, the sick were healed, and the hungry fed.

I pledge my health to better living.  The antithesis of this is found when we are breaking the other three pledges.  Even the Psalmist knew there was a certain way of living that brought health and choices that did not.  The Psalmist wrote, “There is no health in my body because of Your indignation;there is no strength in my bones because of my sin. (Psalm 38:3)”  If sin is simply seen as missing the mark, then it is right to think that when our head, heart, and hands are not right then our health will not either.

Would Jesus have been in 4H?  I don’t know.  However, I do think 4H provides opportunities that make better kids.

Spiritual Schematics

In Chrisian Life on April 8, 2013 at 8:39 am

6614217-0-large

1 A gentle answer turns away anger,but a harsh word stirs up wrath.  Proverbs 15:1

Have you noticed that there are some verses that mess with you?  It seems that our wiring must be all wrong.  I went up into the attic of our home a few years back because of a remodel in our kitchen.  As I began to inspect the wiring I noticed there seemed to be no rhyme or reason why some things were wired together.  There were lights and switches from various parts of the house all wired together.  I am no electrician but the groupings did not make sense to me. (I hired an electrician and it did not make sense to him either!)  The wiring was also cracking and peeling which created a severe fire danger.  After we got done, the new wiring brought a peace of mind that our house wouldn’t burn down because of faulty wiring.  The verse at the beginning opens the attic of my life and looks around.  It has a way of finding the faulty wiring and raises questions.

Why couldn’t this be that an aggressive answer overpowers?  Why couldn’t this be that the louder one wins?  Why couldn’t there be an exception when it comes to tweener attitude?  In any case, the Bible implores us that we are to meet anger with gentleness, loud with soft, and wrath with love.

I try to avoid this verse because it convicts me.  Every time I read this verse it reminds me of how often I fall into the trap of arguments.  I want to go stealth or scream at times with not much in between.  This verse convicts me because I realize that a gentle answer comes from a heart that is beating in time with God’s.  If my kids or my job are so disruptive that the gentle answer is far removed then my heart gets out of rhythm.  If my heartbeat is wrong the electrical signals are getting jammed and other things begin to falter.  I must be out of step.  I must be eating wrong.  I need to exercise.  This verse convicts me.  Does it you?

I try to avoid this verse because it challenges me.  It is so easy to say what so many do.  “I am just wired that way.”  Have you heard that statement?  Have you used that statement?  Sin came into our lives and rewired our system.  For anyone who has not placed faith in Jesus I could understand using an excuse of natural wiring.  For those whose lives have been changed by the power of the Spirit, a re-wiring has taken place.  Through faith, forgiveness has come in and wired the system back into compliance with the code.  For me to respond with anything other than a gentle answer is going back to the faulty wiring.  Who in their right mind would exchange right wiring with wrong?  The level of fire danger rises dramatically.  The chance of losing everything comes quickly into play.  No.  We wouldn’t spend the time and money of getting everything back to code only to go back and change it again.  This verse challenges me.  Does it you?

Take a minute and pull down the schematics of your life.  Whose stamp of approval do you find?  If the only stamp you find is your own then you are running the risk of fault and failure.  If the stamp you find is that of God, then the wiring is there and you ought not change it to fit your desires.

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.

 

Altered

In behavior on March 12, 2013 at 11:04 am

Blurry-city-lights1337

Has this ever been your vision?  I confess that it has been mine a time or two.  Whenever we think of someone being altered it has to do with alcohol, drugs, or prescription pain meds.  After 2 back surgeries and 1 shoulder surgery I understand the effects of pain medications.  Any of these type of things alter you, some temporarily and others permanently.  Why do people desire to be altered?

1.  They want the pain to go away.

2.  They want to escape reality.

3.  They like the euphoria.

4.  They are addicted.

In some cases, those who choose be altered in this way are wanting to escape emotional pain or are trying to stop feeling or start filling a void they feel in life.  Here is the weird part: God wants us altered.

Yes, friends, God wants us altered but not by our own doing.  Adam and Eve were perfect.  They had no problems.  They felt and saw things clearly and purely.  With one choice they became altered.  Sin entered the picture and altered humanity.  From that point to now we are an altered people.  God has provided option after option for us ending in the last option of Jesus.  Our altered state causes us to see things much like the above picture.  However, in Jesus we can be altered back.  We can feel and see things purely and clearly once again.  You were born in an altered (sinful) state but can be reborn into a new state of being.  At that moment you will be filled with the Spirit of God who alters you back into the way God intended.

15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit: 19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,singing and making music from your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.

Have an altered day!!

Tension

In Journey, Missional on March 8, 2013 at 10:53 pm

car_towing

There was an occasion that I needed to tow a car with only a rope.  While I know this is not the safest option, it is the one we chose in the moment.  My friend’s car had quit and I stopped to help.  I pulled the rope out and we tied it to both cars.  He put it in neutral and I slowly moved forward.  Even though I was in the lead car, I was not completely in control of everything.  The one in the follow car had responsibilities in this arrangement.  One of the most important things to remember is to keep proper tension on the rope between the cars.  During the speed up process that is easy.  However as the route takes on a more normalized speed, the follow car must stay awake and aware of the situation.  If tension is too loose then you might rear-end the lead car and cause trouble.  If the tension is too tight because of lagging behind by braking too much the rope could break and then the follow car wrecks.  The right amount of tension is required for a smooth ride into the garage.

Each of are sailing through life without much hassle beyond the normal.  Yet, you feel like something is missing.  You feel a loss though there has been death.  The deep abiding joy you crave is unattainable.  Then that fateful day arrives when someone explains to you how you can feel whole, new, fresh, and full of joy.  As you place faith in Jesus Christ, He pulls you from the wreckage.  We deeply desire to know Him more.  We feel gratitude for what He did and act accordingly.  But we are still here in our jobs, broken families, body aches and pains, and consequences of our choices yesterday.

Tension.

We desperately want to just go and be with Jesus.  We also want our friends to know the truth about God, Heaven, and forgiveness.  We find ourselves in tension.

21 For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.u 22 Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. 23 I am pressured by both. I have the desire to leave and be with Christ—which is far better— 24 but to stay in the flesh is more necessary for you.

The more we follow Christ the farther away from our “old” life and “old” friends we become.  We get involved in church and small groups.  We build relationships and new friends.  After a while, we have no more influence or opportunity to share the Gospel because we “left” them behind.  Every encouragement to evangelize is met with guilt because we left them behind for our new church friends.  They love us.  They certainly don’t want us to be with “those” friends any longer.

On the other hand, if we maintain our friendships as we walk with Christ, our church friends may not be so happy.  How could we still “hang” with them?  Don’t we love Jesus?  Don’t we know we are supposed to leave all that life behind because we have died to that life?  Are we certain we gave our life to Jesus? Yet, every time we are encouraged to share the gospel we think of our old friends.  We weep and pray for their soul.

This is the difficulty.  To whom are we bound?  Are we bound to God or the church?  This tension is needed to keep us aware and alive until that time comes when we go to be with Jesus.  If we feel no tension I would suggest something is wrong.  If we are so entrenched in our life and our friends that we have no time to pray, read scripture, or serve in the Kingdom through church then we have issues.  If we are so entrenched in church and our new life that we completely alienate those who would hear the Gospel from you we have issues.

I suggest a healthy tension.  Like the tow rope that needs to have a proper tension through speed up, slow down, and turns, we must maintain a certain tension between church and culture.  Like that tow rope, tie a knot to both parts of life.  Allow the tension.  Stay alert for turns and speed changes.  Keep rolling!

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