Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘John’

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.

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.

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.

Hi-Fi Jesus

In Faithfulness, Jesus on December 11, 2012 at 10:05 pm

scam10

High Fidelity: used by audio manufacturers as a marketing term to describe records and equipment which were intended to provide faithful sound reproduction.  I remember having one of these in the house as a kid.  I remember lying on the floor with the headphones singing “King Tut” at the top of my lungs!  This “Hi Fi” stereo system was supposed to play the LP’s as good as live.  High Fidelity sound was all the rage, much like the switch to digital is now.  Compared to the radio the music was crisp, clear, and wonderful.  You could listen to high quality music right in your own home.

Fidelity is something out of vogue these days.  In our disposable culture, we never keep things very long.  In this passage, Jesus models for us several different ways for us to be faithful.

1.  Jesus is faithful to His cousin.  There is something to be said that we should stick up for family.  Jesus didn’t have to do this.  He wasn’t required to be baptized because there was nothing for Him to repent for in His life.  He brought His family into His world as His formal ministry was inaugurated.  How often do we give our best to everyone else except our family?  Our family gets the short end.  Jesus went the other way.  do you?

2.  Jesus is faithful to His commander.  God the Father opened up Heaven and interjects at this point how pleased with Jesus He is.  At that moment Jesus is led to the wilderness.  No report of questions, whining, griping, or negotiations is revealed.  Jesus was faithful to God.  Whatever the Father wanted, Jesus was faithful to do.  I tend to question and negotiate.  God wants faithfulness even when there are no specifics.

3.  Jesus is faithful during conflict.  Running away is an oft chosen option.  We run away from home and move out.  We run away from responsibility and quit school or get an abortion.  We run away from conflict and get a divorce or sleep with someone who “cares”.  When things get rough we walk away.  Where is the faithfulness?  Where is the staying power?  Jesus was being tempted by Satan himself; no demons here.  He was getting pounded but stayed the course.  He did not run.  He did not hide.  He did not quit.  He was faithful.  Am I?  Are you?

4.  Jesus is faithful to His calling.  In the face of John’s incarceration, Jesus began doing that which God wanted Him to do.  He was not going to let a personal hiccup keep Him from doing what He was supposed to do.  It would have been easy to postpone.  It would have been easy to think next year.  Jesus was faithful to His calling.  God calls every person to make disciples of other people.  God gives you a job so that you can do that with your work associates.  He gives you interests and hobbies so that you can connect with those people to make disciples of them too.  He brings children into your life for you to get to know teachers, students, and other families to make disciples of them.  Are you faithful to your calling?

Jesus is hi-fi.  Are you?

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?

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.

Peace of Mind

In Church, Faithfulness, Leadership, Missional, Politics on September 3, 2012 at 6:20 pm

I understand about indecision,

But I don’t care if I get behind.

People living in competition,

All I want is to have my peace of mind.

These are lyrics from Boston’s song “Peace of Mind”. Where has the cooperative spirit gone? Why do people, as Patrick Lencioni puts it, want to maintain personal silos instead of pulling resources together? Why can’t we see that far more could be done with greater peace of mind if we cooperate?

Both sides of the aisle, as we say, need to realize cooperation is the foundation of this country. Both sides of the church need to see this as well. Over the past century we have seen a degradation into welfare mentality and personal kingdom building. The programs established during the Great Depression were seen as life-saving. Those in that time were grateful to have anything. Post WWII saw a subtle change from gratitude to a position that the governmental help had been earned. Instead of ending those programs, they continued. The next generation grew up with an attitude that they deserved this aid. Today we see a growing trend of folks who demand big government to come to their rescue. How did that happen? The subtle shift came over years. We cannot really pinpoint a place and time, but it has happened. It has happened in our churches too.

John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.” “Don’t stop him,” said Jesus, “because there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name who can soon afterward speak evil of Me.” Mark 9:38-39

Jesus dealt with this competitive spirit. He drew their attention toward cooperation. Our churches a century ago were delighted to have the traveling preacher a couple of times a month. All were happy to do the work of the church and hear from the preacher. As our culture shifted from cooperation to competition so did our churches. Instead of gratitude, Christians started feeling they had somehow earned God’s favor and began to cheapen grace and goodness. Soon, we began to feel deserving of God special hand of blessing and now we demand it. So similar are we to the political climate! Most, I believe, feel that God works for us. He is our magic genie in the clouds. If we say the right things and do the right motions then He is bound to bless us in the ways we prescribe. It sounds nice, but that concept is not Biblical. Nowhere can you find that we demand of God. He demands of us.

Gratitude – Earned Right – Unearned Right – Demand

This is the flow of our people, nationally and spiritually. Until we choose to return to cooperation and gratitude, we will not have peace of mind.

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