Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

The Greatest Story is Epic!

In Faith on December 20, 2013 at 7:07 am

save-money-moviesDIGERATILIFEcom

I love going to the movies!  My wife and I met in Seminary.  After we started dating, we found a common joy in going to the movies.  There was a location that offered $.50 tickets on Tuesdays and showed movies that were 3-6 months old.  Every Tuesday we would go and watch 2-4 movies together, eat at Taco Bell that was in the mall parking lot, and just enjoy the whole process.  This became a regularly thing for us.   We have watched all kinds of movies over the years, but no more than we did for the two years we lived in Fort Worth!  Some of the greatest epic movies of all time were seen in that little theater.

EPIC Movies

Most epic movies contain 4 basic elements: Emotional, Powerful, Inspirational, and a Choice.

Emotional – Remember the scene in Schindler’s List where we are overjoyed that the mothers were saved from the gas chamber only to see the trucks full of their children being driven away?  Or how about when the old man loses his wife at the beginning of Up?

Powerful – The speeches.  The band of brothers speech from Henry V.  One of the best is from Remember the Titans. “If we don’t come together….”

Inspirational – I love the Braveheart speech as they prepare for war.  But the speech of not giving up in Facing the Giants is spectacular!

Choice – Will the family have the grit to survive?  Will the team overcome race and pride?  Will the group overcome the obstacle that lies before them?  They all have a choice.  The great movies create a conflict and crisis where the major players must choose to believe or not.  Those who do survive and win.

The Greatest Story
The apostle Paul desired to go to Rome and share the good news with them.  He had told many people the good news he knew and now really wanted to tell the people in Rome.

For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.    This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

This Good News is Emotional.
Paul is unashamed.  No one can turn his face away.  No circumstance could change his mind.  He had already lost his wife.  He had lost his position.  He had lost his freedom on numerous occasions.  Yet here he is going strong after all this time.  If, as some say, it is all a myth and fable, who would be that determined?  What keeps Paul going?

The Good News is Powerful.
The God who spoke light into existence is at work in the middle of this good news.  The God who formed humanity from the dust of the Earth is at work.  The God who flooded the Earth and then confused the languages is at work.  The God who parted the Seas and provided water from a rock is at work.  This is who is working behind this good news.

The Good News is Inspirational.
This Good News is for all people.  This Good News will take what is lost and save it; what is outside and bring it inside; what is down and raise it up; what is awful and make it right.  Are you down?  This will raise your spirits.  Do you suffer from low self-esteem?  This will help you see your worth.  Are you stuck in a habit or addiction?  The Good News inspires you to better living.

The Good News is a Choice.
The good news comes down to a decision you must make based on what is provided by scripture and experience.  This decision is not a factual one but one of faith.  Faith is tricky because it isn’t science though that helps.  It isn’t reason but that is involved.  Faith is different and more.  Faith is choosing to believe what you cannot prove.  The Good News is that Jesus Christ, God’s one and only Son, lived a real life, died an awful death and was buried.  This happened because of my wrong and bad choices and yours too.  He took upon Himself all of humanity’s wrong so that we would not have to face eternal separation from God.  He rose from the dead 3 days later to secure His victory and majesty over death and Hell.

The Good News of Jesus Christ’s actions on, and for, your behalf is EPIC.  Will you believe?  Where is your faith? In whom do you place your faith?

 

Trap Doors, Secret Entrances, and Other Myths

In Faith on December 12, 2013 at 7:00 am

secret

The other night I stepped out of the Wednesday night class (4th-6th Grade) I help and took care of some issues in another area.  When I returned they were facing the other way and enthralled in the Bible story.  One of kids looked around and nearly fell out of his chair because I had, in his mind, just appeared.

One other time, the kids were involved in an activity and some turned around and were startled because I had, in their estimation, just appeared.  They wondered from where I had come.  Of course, I did not give them a straight answer.  Instead, I said, “Through a magic portal.”

They did not believe me and neither do you.  However, there are other fantastic myths and sayings we hang out hearts on every day.  Some are myths, others are superstitions.  There was one guy quoted to have said at a party Jesus attended that Messiah would just appear.

“For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.”    — John 7:27

Really?  The Messiah was just going to appear?

  1.  Jacob said that the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah.  Genesis 49:10
  2. Jeremiah said that the Messiah would be a descendent of David and he came from Bethlehem.  Jeremiah 23:5
  3. Micah said that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem.  Micah 5:1-2

Even if you negate the first 2, Micah says that Bethlehem would provide the Messiah.  When Herod was asked about this “new king”, the advisors said that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.  They were quoting Micah.  So it was widely acknowledged that Bethlehem would be the birthplace.

So how could this guy say that Jesus would magically appear?  Because the truth had been adjusted or misunderstood.  Like the game telegraph we played as kids.  The phrase you started with was never the phrase you ended with because of how it changed as it was told.

Other myths and magically delicious things believed that are not supported in Scripture are:

  1.  God will never give you more than you can handle.  This is a favorite of so many people, but it is not true.  The actual verse represented is 1 Corinthians 10:13 which deals with God not forcing you to sin.  God will not allow a temptation so great that you have no choice but to sin.  He will, however, allow much more than you handle.
  2. A Christian home guarantees a godly child.  Of course this comes from Proverbs 22:6 which talks about training up a child.  There have many a Christian home with god-fearing parents who have rebellious kids.  Being a pastor’s kid, I learned it all from the deacon’s kids!  It just goes to prove that there is no guarantee because it is a personal decision to follow Jesus.  Teach and train and a child and that training will not leave them, but embracing that training is their choice.
  3. I can do everything because of Jesus Christ.  This comes from Philippians 4:13.  This sounds good and even quotes the scripture.  The problem comes in application.  I am a slow, fat, white boy and will never dunk a ball or even have a massive crossover that breaks ankles like Derrick Rose.  No matter how much I believe I can or pray that I would be able.  I cannot dunk a basketball.  However, everything that God wants me to do in His Will I can do because of the strength Christ gives me.

We must be careful when considering trap doors and super-secret spiritual shortcuts.  Take the Scripture honestly and in context.  There is much to be amazed with in the Bible and we are to read it for all its worth.  Let’s not read into it more than it says, but take out from it all that it does say.

Winning in Ministry

In Church on December 9, 2013 at 7:00 am

leapfrog

I have always loved video games! My parents allowed me to have an Odyssey 2 Video Game system.  I played as much as I could!  In fact, I had most of these games and played them regularly.  As my wife and I looked at the future of our children, we wanted the best for them.  I wanted it to be fun, too.  As most parents, we did not have special training and the kids did not come with manuals!  We had to decide what values, morals, ethics, and education we wanted for our children.  We prayed and we discussed.  We wanted what every parent wanted: better for our kids.  Dulcie put the headphones on her belly and we played classical music.  We read and spoke to them in the womb.  But once they arrived, we knew our job had not changed.  We wanted to create an atmosphere where they could learn as much as possible.  My kids have, as far they can remember, played with Leap Frog products.   They are now 12 and 9 and we are still going strong trying to create that atmosphere where they desire to learn.

It seems that the church has fallen on hard times in many places.  I hear from so many that attendance is down, baptisms are down, and the finances are pinched.  Some have thrown up their hands and quit.  Some have tried to emulate somebody else and are failing at it.  Those that are seeing some success have learned a particular principle: we must provide an atmosphere from which God can draw them to Himself. This is the partnership we have.  Look at what Jesus said to those following Him.

For no one can come to me
unless the Father who sent me draws them to me,
and at the last day I will raise them up.  — John 6:44

The people thought they wanted entertainment and desired another “sign” from Him.  He dismisses this approach and reminded them what was really needed.  We cannot continue to entertain our children and youth and expect a future worth living in tomorrow.

  • We encourage.
  • We enable.
  • We engage.
  • We educate.

We do all these in a way that kids will desire God and are being opened so God can draw them. Entertainment is the vehicle which carries these four items. Like the HOV lanes….never drive your ministry with just one item.  Cars that drive themselves are science fiction!  We cannot only have entertainment.  Those ministries that engage these 4 values and package them in a way that is fun and lively will see kids, and their families, reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In addition, this generation will not be lost and hope can once again be established in the hearts and minds of our church and denominational leadership.

Fly Me to the Moon

In Chrisian Life, Faith on October 8, 2013 at 8:15 am

I recently made a quick flight to Denver for a business.  As I approached the security checkpoint, I began the undressing.  I placed my wallet, keys, phone, sunglasses, tablet, belt, and shoes in the bins.  As I stood holding my pants up and trying to get through the checkpoint scan it dawned on me that I had given up all the valuable items simply to get on a plane.  I was trusting the security personnel to return all of my items.  However, they had the right at this point to keep whatever they wanted and throw away whatever they wanted.  Because I wanted to get on the plane, I was required to go through the necessary trust exercise of renouncing all my items, hoping I would get them back.  If I did not, what was I to do?  Probably grumble a bit but actually do nothing.

This was never more clear standing in the same line in Niamey, Niger.  In the US there is a certain element of trust.  However, after placing everything I held valuable on the belt, I was uneasy as to whether or not I would get it back!  Because I wanted to get on the plane, I was required to go through the necessary trust exercises of renouncing all my items, hoping I would get them back.  If I did not, what was I to do?  Probably grumble a bit but actually do nothing.

A few months after the birth of our son, my wife and I embarked on the journey to the national convention of our denomination.  This is an annual trip we have made for 15 years.  On this particular trip, we had never flown with a child of our own.  The new version of TSA was in effect and everyone was in that disgruntled mode.  My wife had our son in her arms and I had, well, I had everything else!  Just as I crossed over the “line” she was “randomly selected” for a private moment.  Not thinking anything about it she went to hand  our son over the line to me.  He was all giggles and reaching out.  Security must have thought the child was a danger to national security the way they moved in to disallow the passing of the child.  At that moment, security had my wife and my child and I couldn’t even stand there!  I was ushered down the Jetway.  Those standing around were booing and hissing at the TSA agents.  I just knew a riot was going to break out!  However, because I wanted to get on the plane, I was required to go through the necessary trust exercises of renouncing all my items, hoping I would get them back.

These three stories help us understand what is recorded by Luke,

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.  Luke 14:33

Every time we wish to fly we renounce, or say goodbye to all we have.  It doesn’t mean that we will never see it again.  Yet, I must be willing to part with it in order to get on the flight.  When you place your faith in Jesus Christ you have entered the terminal.  If you want to continue on the journey, you must be willing to say goodbye to all that you have.  To become a disciple requires you to go through a necessary trust exercise of renouncing it all, hoping you will get them back.  If not, you might grumble a bit, but the journey awaits and you don’t want to miss your flight.  You have the choice since one could purchase a ticket for a flight and never board because of an unwillingness to go through security.  The Gospel is not just about the moment of faith and salvation.  The Gospel is more.  The Gospel probes deeper.  The point is not to be a convert but a disciple.  The point is not to buy tickets, but to get on the flight!  The full Gospel not only calls you out on your sin and inability to control or dispense with said sin, but also to an exercise of trust.  It is not living in fear.  It is living in faith.  I trust that if Jesus thought enough of me to die in order to carry away my sin, then he can be trusted with my valuables in life.

Fill my heart with song
Let me sing forever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and I adore

In other words, please be true
In other words
In other words, I, love, you

Live Forgiven

In Chrisian Life, Faith, Journey on September 4, 2013 at 9:24 am

goldfish jumping out of the water

 

“I just want to be free!”

I heard this every Thursday for 3 years. In one form or another, the clients I counseled wanted their addiction to be kicked out and recovery kicked up a notch. As they approached the time to re-enter society, I would ask them about their plans. I could almost always guess the ones who would succeed and those who would not. It is so easy to get side-tracked. Whether you are in outpatient care or inpatient care life offers us a plethora of distractions. For many, the reason behind their addiction was not what they proposed. The reason for any addiction is following a path that seems right to you.

 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.  Proverbs 16:25

It is critical that an understanding of terms be reached before continuing. Having a bad habit is just a nice way to say you have an addiction. Your habit may not be illegal, but it can threaten your family, your finances, and ultimately your future. We, especially in the Christian community, like to minimize our sin and maximize others sin. We have bad habit. They have addictions. Let’s be clear, anything that is distracts you from your relationship with God is a sin.

“How do I break free?” This question has arisen many times and you may be asking it as well. Satan grips our mind with fear and our hearts with guilt and shame. In order to break free of your habit/addiction/sin, we must embrace the forgiveness of God as a reality, not rationale. Living forgiven is not a series of convincing statements that we chant every day. Living forgiven is about having faith in the sinlessness of Christ and the statement of the cross and empty tomb. Please do not misunderstand, becoming a follower of Christ does not automatically release the grip of Satan. What this decision of salvation does is provide the power and opportunity for those chains to be broken and for you to walk out of your prison. God provides the power. God provides the pathway. God provides. Yet, you have to get up and walk.

Jesus asked the man at the pool if he wanted to get well. The man began giving excuses of why he could not. Jesus looked at him and said to get up and walk. In that moment, he was completely healed. His legs had strength. His arms had strength. However, until he chose to get up and walk he would lie on that mat. In Christ, you have been healed of your issues. But to walk free is your choice to make. The sad reality is people refuse to believe in the power of Christ and remain in the grips of Satan through fear, shame, and guilt. God has wiped all of that away. When will you walk?

As you prepare to get up and walk here are a few things to help steady your feet.

 1. Avoid your triggers. What is it that makes you consider engaging your habit? Is it certain places? Is it certain smells? Is it certain people? Is it certain situations? In order to walk in forgiveness, these must be avoided. For those who believe they can handle it, you can’t. Avoid the triggers. Change your job. Change your routine. Change your sleep schedule. Change begins with you engaging the power of God provided through Jesus Christ.

2. Make new friends. I have heard it said that you are the average of your 5 closest friends. With that being said, develop new friendships that drive you closer to Christ. Releasing an old set of friends affords you the opportunity for personal growth and more probable success in this endeavor.

3. Realize your limitations. Believing you can handle your habits/sins/addictions is the first step to failure. If you could have handled it on your own you wouldn’t be in this mess now. Coming before God and agreeing on your dependency to Him is vital. Our strength is limited but God’s is limitless. We fail but God never does. We sin but God never has. Why not embrace God? Pride arrives and then a fall.

Living forgiven is not about being flippant about your past. It is about embracing the offer of God in Christ and engaging the power of the Holy Spirit. The probability of sin remains high as long as we are in this life but it does not have to be the habit you had yesterday. Live free. Live forgiven.

No Special Treatment

In Faith, Jesus on July 8, 2013 at 10:27 am

the-way-the-truth-and-the-life

As a pastor with two kids there can be challenges.  There are times one will throw into conversation, “My Dad runs this place.”  Now, I have never encouraged this type of attitude.  I will admit I used this line of thinking as far as it would take ME as a pastor’s kid.  I tried to leverage all I could in those days in order to get my way.  It must be in the nature of a child to do so!  Using this kind of statement raises the question of whether or not my kids get a “pass” on certain rules and restrictions that other kids do not.  Dulcie and I have tried to consistently treat our children like any other church kids about getting a “pass”.  I get on to them as much, probably more, than other kids!  I don’t think they get a special pass.  If they make the right choices then they earn the privileges.  It doesn’t diminish my love for them.  However there are certain rules and processes that all must adhere to and they are the same.

30 What should we say then? Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained righteousness —namely the righteousness that comes from faith. 31 But Israel, pursuing the law for righteousness, has not achieved the righteousness of the law. 32 Why is that? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written: Look! I am putting a stone in • Zion to stumble over and a rock to trip over, yet the one who believes on Him will not be put to shame.

As I read this passage it reminded me that no one gets special treatment.  Paul recalls his time under the Law and now his life under grace.  He recognizes that the Law can lead you to Jesus but cannot provide righteousness on its own.  The law is designed to reveal our faults which are many.  The law does not provide the solution.  The Jew that remains under the Law and refuses Jesus Christ does not get special treatment.  Jesus fulfilled the Law and Prophets.

For this is the kind of high priest we need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He doesn’t need to offer sacrifices every day, as high priests do—first for their own sins, then for those of the people. He did this once for all when He offered Himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak, but the promise of the oath, which came after the law, appoints a Son, who has been perfected forever.

Jesus provided a new covenant in His blood.  By new, it means the old has been put away and replaced.  Because humanity (Israel) broke the covenant there needed to be a new one.  Jesus came that we may have life (John 10:10).  Jesus said He is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6)  No one gets to God/Heaven outside of Jesus.  There is no special pass.  There is no special treatment.  The Jewish people do not get in by virtue of heritage.

No one gets special treatment.  If you want forgiveness it come through faith in Jesus.  If you want access to Heaven it comes through faith in Jesus.  No passes.  No special groups.  No other way but Jesus.

Freedom Fighter

In Chrisian Life, Decisions, Journey on July 5, 2013 at 11:15 am

coloni2

We recently celebrated Independence Day.  Typically, this is a day of family, friends, and the celebration of freedom.  Communities will gather around parades and have firework shows in the evening.  Families will spend the day together as many have the day off.  On this day we celebrate our freedom.  We harken back to that auspicious day when the colonists declared their independence from the tyranny of the British.  I did a little research and discovered a few things.

1.  The struggle for freedom started long before the declaration occurred.  The “shot heard around the world” happened 15 months earlier on April 19, 1775 in Lexington.  I often see that people who make a declaration about Christ have struggled with the concept for a while.  Normally it does not just happen.  Most of us go back and pinpoint a specific place or time where the decision was made much like our declaration as a country.  However, if we were honest, God’s Spirit had already been at work in our lives.  We had a feeling of frustration, guilt, shame, or just tired of having a loser life on the inside.  The battle began long before the actual declaration.

2.  The day of declaration was just the beginning.  On July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was ratified by Congress.  As far as we were concerned it was a done deal.  We drafted it.  We adjusted it.  We declared it.  However, the current controller was not happy with this decision.  The day of declaration was not the end but the beginning.  Followers of Christ look back at a place or time when they turned their lives over to God’s control.  Church people will call this “getting saved” or “born again”.  These statements are true but are misunderstand at times.  The moment I made a declaration of faith in Christ was the day I was free on a spiritual and eternal level.  However the physical results would take a while to become real.  Habits, addictions, and lifestyle patterns that had years of sediment in my life would not go away easily.  As long as I breathe there will be a struggle to maintain the freedom I declared 30 years ago!

3.  The Revolutionary War lasted for 5-7 years after the moment of declaration.  Although Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown in the Fall of 1781 marked the end of the Revolutionary War, minor battles between the British and the colonists continued for another two years.  Finally, in February of 1783 George III issued his Proclamation of Cessation of Hostilities, culminating in the Peace Treaty of 1783. Signed in Paris on September 3, 1783, the agreement — also known as the Paris Peace Treaty — formally ended the United States War for Independence.  The colonists had to fight for their freedom.  Many people died in the battles.  Some battles were won gloriously and some battles were lost horribly.  I find in our lives that the same is true.  You will win some battles in your Christian walk.  At times you will lose some battles.  We must keep our eye on the final peace treaty to come at the Judgment Seat of God.  According to one site there were 22 major battles (If I counted right!).  We did not win every one of those but we did win the war.

4.  Paris Peace Treaty of 1783.  This marked the official end to the war.  The colonists would be officially free to live under new law after this moment.  The British would relinquish all holds and control from this point forward.  So often, we want our declaration day to be the day of the peace treaty.  While is it true we have gained peace with God on that day of faith, we have also awakened a sleeping giant in Satan who will wage war until the end.  You will fight battles until that day.  Satan will find your weak points and attempt to divide and conquer you.  While our eternal security is in place, we cannot just wimp out on the battles.  Freedom today is available but must be fought for by the power and presence of Jesus Christ.  The current struggles of alcohol, marijuana, sex, pornography,  illicit drugs or battles we must fight.  In addition, there will be battles for time, family, interests, and commitment.  These may be lesser known battles but are just as dangerous.

Freedom is a reality but is one that is acquired not automatically given.  We struggle to become free.  We finally declare our freedom and ally with the right partner.  This is not where freedom is won.  Freedom is won through a series of battles until the Peace Treaty is signed.  Our lives as followers of Christ will be a series of battles until Jesus returns.  Focus on the big picture but fight in the present battle.  You may lose a battle here and there.  In these moments we cannot simply lay down our arms and give up.  We must stand and fight in the power and strength of the Spirit and Scripture.  Fight on.  Fight long.  The war belongs to Lord!

21 So I discover this principle: When I want to do what is good, evil is with me.
22 For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law.
23 But I see a different law in the parts of my body,
waging war against the law of my mind
and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body.
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

5 Reasons To Look To God

In Faith, Trust on June 20, 2013 at 9:39 am

5 ReasonsThe Christian community is twitterpated with the recent release of Superman.  It seems that we are all looking for a Superman in our lives.  We want someone who can fly in, fix the situation, and then fly off.  We want to know that when trouble rises there is someone to whom we can turn.

When the money runs out
When the love dims
When our kids run away
When the house empties
When we are abused
When we are alone
When we are guilty
When death arrives

We all have our own “Superman” for these issues.  Some of us look to family, friends, church, or the government.  Let me share with you 5 reasons to look to God.

1.  God is faithful (Hebrew 13:5).  Jesus stated that He would never leave us or forsake us.  Money comes and goes.  Love runs thin.  Life ends.  The writer of Hebrews reminds us that God is faithful to His children.  We do not have to worry about being left alone.

2.  God is inclusive (1 Corinthians 12).  Every child of God has a purpose in the family.  You never have to worry about feeling useless.

3. God thinks ahead (John 14:1-3).  How many times have we said “I just didn’t think that would happen?”  God never says that.  He has already thought everything through.  When your future seems unsure, you need not worry because God has it under control.

4. God is available (1 Pet 5:7; 1 Thess 5:17).  Because God cares for you he always has time for you.  You are not a bother to Him.  He is ready to hear from you always.

5. God forgives (1 John 1:9).  The ultimate in provision is this point.  All that we have done wrong is erased by placing faith in Jesus Christ and relinquishing your rights to lead your own life.

There you have it, 5 reasons you can look to God.  May you find the peace God desires for your life as you turn to Him.

I Triple Dog Dare You

In Chrisian Life, Church, Decisions on May 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm

That is really one of the greatest scenes!  Flick answers the call to the triple-dog-dare!  I have been on both ends of that kind of dare before, haven’t you?  As we get older it seems that we forget about such things.  We move away from the double and triple-dog-dares, but the challenges are still present.  We are dared everyday with respect to many items.  In adult talk, and especially church adult talk, we like to use the term “temptation”.  I am not sure why we use this term except that we find it in scripture.  However, to consider Jesus being double-dog-dared to eat bread is more dramatic!

What are we dared to do?

  • to trust my wits over God’s
  • to keep the tithe to pay medical bills
  • to spend more time with family and less time with God
  • to believe just once will be OK
  • to rationalize my behavior as being right even though it makes me sick when I do
  • to trust humanity more than God
  • to seek satisfaction outside of marriage
  • to quit
  • to gamble
  • to earn Heaven

We are all dared on so many levels every day.  These kinds of dares come from evil and will take us down the path of destruction.  Like Flick, we feel trapped at times.  We are not sure how to respond.  The pressure of those around us and our pride within us have joined forces.  Not sure of how to escape, we act.

***

Summer is just around the corner and that means for many Vacation Bible School.  For me, we are going to Colossal Coaster World where we will be dared to do many things.  These dares come from God and will lead us down a path of strength and stability.  Here are 5 things we will be dared to do but we can start anytime.

1.  Dare to Change – Acts 9:1-18

In Acts 9:1-18 we encounter a life changing moment for 2 people. Saul was breathing threats and incarcerating people for believing in Jesus and practicing “The Way”. Ananias was minding his own business trying not to be thrown into prison. In one day both lives would be altered. God came to each of them in a way required to get their attention. God sometimes uses the fantastic to get our attention. Saul was blinded by a light and spoken to by God. He was dared to make changes. Ananias lived in fear. He was dared to make changes. Saul’s entire education was be flipped on its head. Ananias’ fear would be challenged to become focused courage. God changes us in ways we cannot completely fathom. What is God daring you to change in your life?

2.  Dare to Speak Up –  Acts 9:20-30

Saul was transformed from breathing threats to sharing the Gospel. Not everyone understood or believed in him. He was trying to do the right thing but his reputation preceded him. He could have given up and shut up but instead he faced his fears head on and kept sharing the message of the Messiah everyday. Escaping for his life he went to Jerusalem. The believers there were skeptical at best also. Barnabas dared to speak up on behalf of Saul. He told the story and encouraged the people to give God’s grace a chance with Saul.

3.  Dare to Believe – Acts 16:16-34

As we approach this passage of scripture belief is the key component. Paul believed that change was an available option for slave girl and later for themselves. Paul believed that God could change the slave girl and free her from divination. No matter how far she had gone into that world, Paul believed God could free her. When he and Silas were in prison, the sang praises because they knew God could free them. Even though they were shackled in prison, they had belief. The jailor believed that God could save him by faith in Jesus Christ. They believed in spite of the challenges of politics and personal difficulties.  What are you being dared to believe?

4.  Dare to Stand Strong – Acts 21:27-23:11

The apostle Paul was seized under false charges and his life was in danger. The courts heard the accusations but determined that there was nothing to them. The crowds began to cry out for Paul to be killed. In that moment, Paul asked if he could speak. What was he going to say? With the great spin doctors of our modern politics we might imagine many ways Paul could spin his situation. What Paul did next was daring. He began to share his testimony and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many in the crowds and Sanhedrin despised what he had to say but God encouraged him with these words:

Have courage! For you have testified about Me in Jerusalem,

so you must also testify about me in Rome.

In no small way, God told him he was being salvaged from the judicial wreckage in Jerusalem, but also being sent to Rome. Because he stood strong for the truth, God was sparing his very life. What truth needs you to stand strong?

5.  Dare to  Trust – Acts 27

When you call on Jesus Christ, all of Heaven rises to meet that need because we do not have a pile of rocks but a risen Savior we can trust. We can trust Him with out financial problems, our relationship nightmares, and our physical ailments. We can trust Him with our spouses and with our kids. We can trust Him when things change and when they do not. We can trust Him during the songs we know and the ones we don’t. We can trust Him when things wrong and when they work. We trust God and in doing so we reveal to those around us the peace of God that accompanies trust.  I dare you to trust God in every way for every thing!

I triple-dog-dare you!

Finding Jesus This Mother’s Day

In Mothers Day on May 7, 2013 at 11:02 am


Mom’s rule.  It is no secret.  It doesn’t matter how much Dad has done in the preparation, Mom gets the credit!!

If we took time to check we would find many gifts given to us by our Moms.  I know some have wonderful relationships and others not so much.  However, God has provided us with our Moms for a reason.  I believe it can help us see Jesus.  I do not mean in the way they discipline us but in other ways.  There were times I thought I might see Jesus before I was done with adolescence but made it through those years.

In reading Isaiah, it came to mind the wonderful things of the Messiah spoken of in chapter 61.  As I read them I thought about how our Moms paint a picture for us to see Jesus.  Finding Jesus this Mother’s day is a challenge I present to you.  The similarities between Jesus and Mom help us to understand the nature of Jesus.  This knowledge is given to that we might glorify Him more.

Hope – Mom gives us hope.  When we are down and everyone is kicking us she raises us up and tells us it will get better.  When it seems that the world has come to an end she reminds us of better days ahead.  When we feel we having absolutely nothing to give she helps us see what we do have.  She proclaims the favor our mind needs to hear.

Help – Mom binds our wounds and bandages our scrapes.  Mom kisses our boo-boos.  She frees us from the emotional entrapment of adolescence.  She helps us to see that life doesn’t end in Junior High but actually in High School.  Seriously, Mom helps us to feel good about ourselves when we feel awful.  Mom helps us to heal when our hearts are broken and our emotions are strung out.  Mom is there when the leg breaks, the heart aches, and the world is crashing.

Comfort – Mom gives us soft hands, warm hugs, and full lives.  Where would we be without Mom?  Poorly dressed and with  malnutrition!  She provides for those who mourn.

Crowns – for some she literally crowns them with paper crowns, for others she simply helps them with perspective.  Mom makes us feel like we are kings and queens, even if for only a day.

As we glorify Mom this week let us remember that these things she does for us have already been done by God in Jesus Christ.  He gives hope and help, comfort and crowns.  God, in Jesus, has set us free and allows us to flourish to our greatest potential.  All of which has been done so that we would be called righteous and glorify God.  May we cause God, by our lives, to be seen more splendidly.  May our lives cause others to treat God more excellently than would normally be considered.

May we help others find Jesus this Mother’s Day!

1 The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,and the day of our God’s vengeance;to comfort all who mourn,
3 to provide for those who mourn in •Zion;to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning,and splendid clothes instead of despair.
And they will be called righteous trees,planted by the Lord to glorify Him.

Isaiah 61:1-3

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