Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Marriage’

What to Do When Faith and Culture Collide?

In Life and Culture on June 29, 2015 at 6:30 am

BDp20Collision

When we choose to follow Jesus, really follow Him, we put ourselves on a collision course with the culture.  Christian faith and current culture are like oil and water.  They don’t blend well.  When things like #SCOTUS happen or when #POTUS gets executive orders the Christian community gets real fired up.  My friend Andy Harrison stated (tongue in cheek, of course) the following usually happens:

  1. Culture proves itself Godless via political or societal event.
  2. Frustrated Christians begin the airing of grievances.
  3. Calculated Christians drop by Bible Gateway and cut and paste something from Deuteronomy or anything written by Paul that sounds angry.
  4. The Christian Correction Crew start posting, telling all other Christians to shut up, love people and go plant a tree.
  5. Intellectual Christians post a quote by an unknown philosopher that has deep meaning for people who like “How He Loves.”
  6. Sensible Christians hit the power button and go to dinner with their families.

How are we supposed to handle the collision of faith and culture?  How should those who are followers of Christ respond?

27Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. 28So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.

29Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. 30But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?”

31Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. 32I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

When your faith and culture collide remember this,

It is not a time to run away from culture but to run to the culture.  Matthew (Levi) chose to follow Jesus and later held a party for friends to meet Jesus.  How novel!  Instead of retreating into a religious subculture, Matthew made sure that the culture he knew would at least meet Jesus.  In 1608, the Puritans separated to Holland because they couldn’t deal with the issues.  In 1620, they made their way to America.  400 years later we face the same problem.  Will we run away or run to those who need Jesus?

Church leader, it is not time to debate doctrinal statements but weep over the deadness spiritually.  When we choose to follow Jesus and call others to do be sure that it is not a time to learn religious lingo but to love the lost with the Gospel.  Matthew desired to bring everyone together.  He recognized that while he needed to learn more about Jesus his friends needed Jesus too.

It is not a time to burn bridges but to build them.  When we begin to spew hatred and angst we are not reflecting Jesus.  Matthew did not cut ties with his friends.  He leveraged those relationships and influence for the power of the Gospel.  We follow Jesus, not a religion.  Too often when people come into a church fold they lose touch and sight of the lostness of their friends.  They no longer have time for them and are ostracized by church leaders if they do.  How will the lost hear if we cut ties and run?  How will they hear unless someone tells them?  How precious are those who take the gospel to those around them.

It is not a time to judge others by the law (church and tradition) but to love others with the Gospel.  The Pharisees pronounced judgement on these people as “scum”.  I have heard no less of a treatment of political leadership, justices, and humanity that disagrees.  We are called to make disciples of the world.  We get nowhere by anger, hate, and judgement.  The gospel changes people.  Jesus died so that you might be free and help others find that freedom.  Let us not chain them up.

Everything we do is a part of being a witness: job, home, social media, the way u dress, messing around, romance, your speech, it all matters.  We do not get to pick and choose when we are a witness.  We don’t clock in.  You are a witness.

Will you follow Jesus?

Romance is More than Sex and Passion

In love on August 13, 2014 at 10:22 am

old-couple

As I get older, it cracks me up to see the next generation of those learning to love and failing at it.  What I am finding is that what used to be High School is now in Junior High and Upper Elementary age kids.  It appears that the “lover” crowd is getting younger!  My children are in this age-bracket and I fear for what they are faced with concerning dating pressure.  Why must we push our children to be adults before it is time?  Why must we see elementary-aged children on “dates”?  I don’t mean play dates either.

Maybe I am old.

Maybe I am right.

We are hurrying our children to become something they are unprepared by God to be yet.  Just because our hormone-filled foods are creating premature adolescence does not mean that they are ready.  Our culture is broken.  In fact, we cannot actually agree on what is even sexy.  The Gap is presenting too-thin and Sports Illustrated (Not suitable for children…or men) presents too naked.

Where is the romance?

I fear we need to understand the definition of romance before we can actually discuss it.  However, Webster and I do not agree.  Romance, as defined today, deals either with something old and fantastical or new, fresh, and short-lived with hot passion!  My sarcasm is really screaming right now that romance has gone the way of my youth and energy. Yet, I feel that romance in its pure form comes out of a developing relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  The reason we have it all messed up is because we have removed God from the dating, marriage, passion, sex equation.  When we are out of touch with God, temptations become very strong.

The exclusive dating is killing our kids since our culture has promised joy and happiness if we would just follow what our bodies are telling us.  I know too many youth who now live with regrets and pain as a result of the fluttering nature of young love.  Yet, so many see the revolving door that is their parent’s bedroom and simply follow suit.

Romance begins with God.  As we develop a loving lasting relationship with Him we become equipped to do so with someone else for life.  Starter marriages and Trial Marriages through cohabitation are not fulfilling.  Romance does not have to be only the hot passion of youth but also the gentle smooth dance of two people whose lives have become intertwined.  The severing of this kind of couple happens when one, or both, have moved away from God.  How do we get it back?

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.  For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.   1 John 2:15-17

…and so will romance!

Raising Kids Like a Boss

In Life and Culture, Uncategorized on November 12, 2013 at 7:37 am

dad-and-baby

Raising kids today is one of the most difficult challenges any adult must face.  Everyone likes to joke about the first year of marriage being so hard, but it pales in comparison to raising children.  Every generation of parents will say the same thing.  Kids have harder choices now than when we were kids.  I agree with this assessment in part, but every one has temptation to sin.  The options for sin just adjust over time.  In this culture today, how can we make sure that our toddlers, tweens, teens, and 20-somethings will navigate the choppy cultural waters?

Raising kids like a boss takes courage, commitment, and a cultural awareness. We must have the courage to love, not legalize, our kids into a better way of living.  I am NOT suggesting that consequences be extracted.  My wife and I have boundaries, expectations, and consequences.  What I am saying is that if, as a parent, my only interaction with them is about rules and regulations, then I am going to lose them to a culture that has tolerance as its high priority.  I must love them into a better way of behaving.  Let your relationship with them be the driving force when they are away from you.

Raising kids like a boss takes commitment.  You and your spouse must be committed to God, to each other, and to training for the long haul.  Kids can sniff out lack of authenticity like a lion tracking its prey.  They will spot it and pounce on it.  We, as parents, cannot be on and off depending on our mood.  This only creates confusion.  It does not matter if I am tired, or cranky, or angry.  There will never be a time that they are not your kids.  They will likely not be a time when they do not want/need your input.  So, this is a 40-60 year commitment.  Be prepared.

Raising kids like a boss takes cultural awareness.  We must be aware of what is going on in their lives.  We must take the lead and limit their internet activity because they are not ready for what is out there yet.  I would suggest that most of us adults are not ready either and should take precautions.  Knowing your kids passwords and activity is not an invasion of privacy like they will argue.  Last time I checked, they are not paying the rent, buying the groceries, or providing basic needs.  I am.  I want access.  The onslaught of immoral and unhealthy choices is everywhere.  Commercials, ads, and music all are killing us.  With 1 in 5 people now stating they have no religious affiliation, the hope of my children having a relationship with Christ lies with me and my wife.  States are legalizing same-sex marriage and marijuana usage.  Sex is being sold by the minute on television and internet ads.

Because you have the courage to love them you have the chance to be in their lives.  Because of your commitments they will see a consistency and find comfort.  Because of your cultural awareness, you can converse with them about options and choices.  Raising kids like a boss has less to do with where you go to church and more to do with your relationship with God and each other.  Church attendance is important, but only takes a fraction of your week.  School a large portion.  There is still a huge chunk of time in which you can make strides and impact their lives.  Come back tomorrow and find the conclusion to this discussion.

Never Lose Hope

In Faith, News on May 20, 2013 at 9:39 am

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Is hope a simple-minded myth?

In just a 24 hour period Oklahoma experienced record heat, deadly storms, long-tracking tornadoes and an earthquake.  In the past month I read the news about the Boston bombings, talked with someone whose parent is dying and discovered another marriage crumbling.  How do we cope?  How do we handle the stress?  To whom do we turn?  Too often we turn to the couch of a physician, the doctor’s office for pills, the bed of another, or the bottle to ease the pain.  Why wouldn’t we?  A friend of mine drove to a local town demolished by a tornado to sift through the rubble that was his office.  An entire neighborhood is reduced to twisted metal and splintered wood.  Someone planted bombs in a marathon to maim and destroy the lives of hundreds, if not thousands.  The one who has nurtured you your whole life lies in a bed waiting, and possibly planning, on dying.  The marriage that outwardly seems to be so wonderful is rotting from within.  It is no wonder that we pop pills and drink ourselves to that uncaring oblivion.  We must find a way to ease this pain we feel.  We are determined to replace pain with pleasure, hurt with happiness.

Why hope?  It seems to do no good.

I would expect many to feel this way who have never tasted the goodness of God or have been hurt by those who represent God.  Trust and hope are tied together in a neat little package that some wish were separated.  How can I hope for something where there is no trust?  How can I hope the bombings and killings will stop without trust in the government’s ability to handle or control this situation?  How can I hope for healing when I cannot trust that God will do what I want?  How can there be hope in a marriage where trust left years ago?  Is hope is fleeting?  Is hope is failing?  Is hope futile and for the simple-minded?  We realists live above this unnecessary emotion right?  Logic wins in that world, but love loses.

We hope because it raises our vision from today to tomorrow.  We hope because the pain of the past is replaced with a promise of a preferred future.  We hope because down deep we still know that God is bigger than us.  God has our best interests in mind even though our feelings claim fault.  We hope because that is all we have.  Hope brings warmth.  Hope brings vision.  Hope raises the spirit.  Though all else seems to fail, believe there is hope.

Believe.  Hope.  Pray.  Live.

1 Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish: 2 I called to the Lord in my distress,and He answered me. (Jonah 2)

Is Hope Dead?

In Decisions, Family, Grief, Trust on April 17, 2013 at 8:50 am

there__s__always_hope__by_this_is_the_life2905-d3hmcmu

Is hope a simple-minded myth?

In just a 24 hour period I experienced an earthquake, read the news about the Boston bombings, talked with someone whose parent is dying and discovered another marriage crumbling.  How do we cope?  How do we handle the stress?  To whom do we turn?  Too often we turn to the couch of a physician, the doctor’s office for pills, the bed of another, or the bottle to ease the pain.  Why wouldn’t we?  Someone planted bombs in a marathon to maim and destroy the lives of hundreds, if not thousands.  The one who has nurtured you your whole life lies in a bed waiting, and possibly planning, on dying.  The marriage that outwardly seems to be so wonderful is rotting from within.  It is no wonder that we pop pills and drink ourselves to that uncaring oblivion.  We must find a way to ease this pain we feel.  We are determined to replace pain with pleasure, hurt with happiness.

Why hope?  It seems to do no good.

I would expect many to feel this way who have never tasted the goodness of God or have been hurt by those who represent God.  Trust and hope are tied together in a neat little package that some wish were separated.  How can I hope for something where there is no trust?  How can I hope the bombings and killings will stop without trust in the government’s ability to handle or control this situation?  How can I hope for healing when I cannot trust that God will do what I want?  How can there be hope in a marriage where trust left years ago?  Hope is fleeting.  Hope is failing.  Hope is futile and for the simple-minded.  We realists live above this unnecessary emotion right?  Logic wins in that world, but love loses.

We hope because it raises our vision from today to tomorrow.  We hope because the pain of the past is replaced with a promise of a preferred future.  We hope because down deep we still know that God is bigger than us.  God has our best interests in mind even though our feelings claim fault.  We hope because that is all we have.  Hope brings warmth.  Hope brings vision.  Hope raises the spirit.  Though all else seems to fail, believe there is hope.

Believe.  Hope.  Pray.  Live.

1 Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish: 2 I called to the Lord in my distress,and He answered me. (Jonah 2)

 

After Taxes

In Chrisian Life on April 16, 2013 at 8:22 am

Responsibility

Taxes are one of the two things we can count on with the other being death.  Though death levies taxes against the family, taxes do not bring death.  Every year, on this day many will celebrate that tax day is over while others pick through the rubble of irresponsibility and find they have nothing left.  At its core, the payment of taxes is nothing more than paying for the pleasures and protections we have come to expect from this country.  We may not all agree on how those dollars are spent, but it is nonetheless our responsibility under the law.  Failure to pay taxes will results in jail time and separation from your family and the world you so enjoy.

The idea of responsibility brings to light other issues as well.  In the same way that financial taxes pay for the pleasures and protections of this national relationship, there are “taxes” to be paid in other areas as well.

1.  Relational Tax – in every relationship there is a certain level of taxation.  Men like to make light of this fact that it all goes to shoes and clothes.  However, I would say that this tax is of utmost importance.  Relational tax comes in the form of communication, honesty, fidelity, and time.  To have the belief that one is not required to pay this is ridiculous.  When the Bible says that “the two became one flesh”, it is not speaking solely of the sexual experience.  There is so much more to a marriage than sex.  The partnership that forms emotionally and mentally is not easily broken.  However it can be torn apart through irresponsibility.  Maintaining lines of communication through honest reflection and expression is a basic need.  Fidelity is a lost art these days but is not lost on the one being cheated on.  Time is a cherished commodity because time builds, heals, and cements a relationship.

2.  Church Tax – we do not like to think of things this way with God.  However, Jesus did say to pay to Caesar what was Caesar’s and pay to God what is God’s.  Am I talking about the tithe?   Yes I am.  For most people, the check you take home has already had taxes withheld for you by the company for which you work.  Your taxes are taken “off the top”.  Why is God’s taken off the bottom?  Write the check on payday and hold it until church time.  Go to the church office and pay your tithe if you feel you cannot make it through the weekend.  Use online bill pay from your bank which often costs you nothing and your tithe is paid immediately and sent to the church.  This is the one area God has said to test Him in.

3.  Spiritual Tax – this is the other area we might feel uncomfortable using the word tax.  However, if we understand taxes as a responsibility for ourselves and the larger group then a new meaning is brought in.  In much the same way as human relationships, spiritual ones have needs.  Your relationship with God, which encompasses both pleasure and protection, requires a certain discipline to be maintained correctly.  Reading Scripture, praying, worship, service, and righteousness are all disciplines which make up this payment.  The benefits begin with you and expand to your family, your work environment, and other friends.  The development that occurs within you when you are paid up is monumental.

Now that your national taxes are paid, or at least extended, have you paid the others yet?

The Runaway

In Chrisian Life, Decisions, Journey on April 9, 2013 at 2:22 pm

running-away-from-home-laura-corebello

All Tommy wanted was to continue to play.  It was a sunny summer afternoon and he had “stuff” he wanted to do.  His mom came out and told him it was time to come into the house.  She had lunch and chores he had to do.  He definitely was on board with the lunch part of that offering! He came in and washed up for lunch.  After he ate his sandwich and drank his milk, his Mom lowered the boom.  He needed to clean his room and take out the trash.  He argued that the day was so pretty he needed to go back outside.  She refused and he stomped away.  She tried to help him understand the balance of play and work but Tommy would not hear it.  He flat didn’t want to do what she wanted.  He was so angry.  It seemed they did not understand or care about how he felt on the matter. Running upstairs, he began pulling together the necessities:  a blanket, a stuffy, a pillow, and some other odds and ends.  He informed his Mother that he was running away.  He left the house and took a walk to the tracks.  While he was out there a fierce storm was blowing in.

How many of us have done something like that in our lives?  The prophet Jonah did also.  God came to him and told him that as a prophet of God he needed to go to Nineveh and preach against them so that they might repent before disaster might strike.  He refused.  He left and tried to runaway from God.  Unfortunately, there is no place we can run that we can also hide from God.  God brought a storm that shook up the sailors and caused great fear.  The way they responded to that storm is often how we respond to the hard times we face.  What storm is God bringing to get your attention that you are going the wrong way?  What warning signs has He already given and is still providing that you ignore?

Those on the boat responded in 3 ways.  Which one do you use?

1.  Seek after other gods.  In great fear, the sailors began crying out to their gods.  They were seeking help from the wrong place.  An affair won’t fix your marriage.  Throwing money at your kids won’t make them love you more.  Alcohol cannot drown out the pain anymore than higher doses of medications can.  However, these are the ways we try to fix the storms of love, family, pain, and grief.  The most common storms are found in these categories.

2.  Try harder.  The sailors, after being told to throw Jonah overboard, still tried to fix the problem on their own by rowing harder.  No matter how hard they tried they could not fix this problem.  There was no reaching the shore.  It was as if the very hand of God reached down and held the boat in the water.  We make greater commitments.  We go to conferences and counseling.  We increase visibility at church.  Trying to be better is like the sailors rowing harder.  The Lord does not want your outward dedication.  He wants inward consecration.  A broken heart and spirit before God in complete submission to His leading is the only way to make it out of the storm.

3.  Confess need and find relief.  Finally, the sailors cried out to God and threw Jonah overboard.  Had they simply done what had been prescribed from the beginning they could have had peaceful waters sooner.  Is it not the same in your life?  Seek the Lord while He may be found.  Confess your need and fall into the arms of God.

Tommy toughed out the rain.  He was wet, but he had his pride!  Yet, when the lightning and hail began to hit close he decided to throw himself overboard and get back to the house.  As he entered, his mother had a dry towel and a warm smile.  Maybe she wasn’t that bad after all, he thought.

Unfaithfully

In Commitment, Faithfulness, holiness, Numbers on February 27, 2011 at 10:47 pm

One of the most played songs at dances, proms, and other lover-central gatherings is the song “Faithfully” by Journey.  The song describes the issues surrounding a marriage and family with the husband on tour as a musician.  He reminds her that he will be forever hers faithfully.  This power ballad has been sung and danced to for years since it flew up the charts in 1983.  I confess that this is one of those songs that gets turned up and sung with in our vehicles event today, which drives the kids nuts!  Faithfulness is such a hot topic these days.  It seems that being faithful is so difficult and is often exchanged for one-night stands, open marriages, and key clubs.  A recently released movie, “Hall Pass”  focuses completely on giving a husband a 7 day pass from his marriage to do what he wants and providing the allowance of unfaithfulness.

As we read through Numbers, Moses is given an interesting statement by the Lord to relay to the people.

5 The Lord spoke to Moses: 6 “Tell the Israelites: When a man or woman commits any sin against another, that person acts unfaithfully toward the Lord and is guilty.

Numbers 5

Read that again.  Whenever I sin against another person, I am sinning against the Lord.  This would explain what David meant when he said,

2 Wash away my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I am conscious of my rebellion,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against You-You alone-I have sinned
and done this evil in Your sight.
So You are right when You pass sentence;
You are blameless when You judge.

Psalm 51

Let’s not disregard the impact our sin has on each other.  However, each and every sin is a moment of unfaithfulness to God.  In other words, spiritual adultery is what is being implied.  God establishes a relationship with the Israelites more than a religion for the Israelites.  God, from the very beginning has wanted a relationship with humanity.  It began with Adam, then Eve, in the Garden.  God reconnected through Noah, Abraham, and Moses.  God wanted the nation to know that every act of sin was an act of unfaithfulness toward YHWH.

How often do we consider this?

Our common belief is that whatever we do is only done in the physical realm.  If I lie, then I lie to a person.  If I seek revenge, then I do so to a person.  If I have sexual relations outside of marriage, then I do so as a pleasure and with a person.  If I cheat, steal, murder, or the like, then I do so to a person.  If I disrespect my parents, then it is just between me and them.  But this scripture teaches is that God is involved in everything.  That lie was to God.  That stolen item was from God.  That reputation killer rumor was done to God.  That one-night stand was done against God.  That open marriage involves God.  Those sites you view late at night are done against God too.

Whether you seek forgiveness because of a changed heart or because your sponsor told you to do so, you  must also include God.  It is not enough, universally, for you to receive forgiveness and acceptance from those whom you have harmed.  If we do not seek restitution with God we fall short.  We can mask our need with agnosticism and atheism, but the hole is still in our hearts.  A hole that can only be filled with God Himself.

So God chooses to connect with humanity one more time.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is this connection. His life was lived in purity.  His death was done as our penalty.  His resurrection for our peace.  By faith we believe and by grace we receive the greatest gift – forgiveness.  Our hope is found in nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

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