Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘New Year’

Need A Fresh Start?

In Life and Culture on January 3, 2017 at 11:27 am

fresh-start_headline-banner

This week we all start over!  What does 2017 look like for you?  Do you have any regrets from 2016 that you are interested in fixing or adjusting as we start a new year?

A few regrets we might be facing today:

  • I wish I had lived my life rather than how society told me to live.
  • I wish I had taken more risks.
  • I wish I had taken better care of myself.
  • I wish I had allowed myself to trust.
  • I wish I had touched more lives and inspired more people.
  • I wish I had been a better partner or parent

Like you, I have struggled with some of these myself.  There is HOPE!  God’s Word reveals a moment in a man’s life where a fresh start was provided.

I need one.  Do you?

Here are 3 things to consider from this scripture:

  1.  It’s your choice.  This man had been lying paralyzed on a mat for 38 years.  He couldn’t change anything.  He tried to get into the pool that the legend said could heal him if he were first in once the waters were stirred by an angel.  When he met Jesus everything shifted.  Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be well?”  Until that moment, he was hopeless. But when Jesus came into the picture he had a choice.  Our lives are filled with regrets that create current circumstances about which we feel shame, guilt, humiliation, or disgust.  On your own, there is no resolution that can affect the change you want.  BUT when Jesus comes into view there is hope.  Will you choose to believe Jesus or continue to try on your own?
  2. Have the courage to look beyond your past.  This man had years of hopelessness and failure.  His immediate response was that he would love to be well but could not get to the pool in time.  We often try to handle our problems in isolation.  We might even have people all around but be in isolation.  Jesus showed up and changed the direction of this man’s life.  He can change yours also  The Bible says that this man was instantly healed though he was still lying on the mat.  He had to make a decision.

    So do we.

    What a tragedy this could have been!  This man could have remained on the mat in unbelief, but he chose to look beyond the years of his past and look forward to what could be.  What are you going to do?  We cannot fix our issues on our own, but Jesus can make the necessary changes.  Will you believe Him?

  3.  Learn to be cured.  This man got up, picked up his mat, and walked.  As full of joy as he was, there were those who couldn’t accept this or even celebrate the moment.  Not everyone in your life will understand the commitments you will make.  Not everyone will accept the changes that are affected by your surrendering to Jesus.  However, the strength you need is in Jesus.  We will face confusion and complications at times.  Please remember the joy you had the moment you took that first step of faith and let that drive you to take more steps this week!  Walk past the jeering crowd.  Walk past the naysayers.  Walk in the joy of Jesus!

Change is possible with Jesus.  Are you ready for a fresh start?

This video may give you inspiration in this endeavor.

7 Types of Restoration

In Life and Culture on January 1, 2015 at 12:24 pm

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Like fresh fallen snow before a step is made so is today and the next 364.  2015 begins now and you have a brand new chance.  Last year may have been perfect for you and cannot get any better.  For the rest of us, every new year brings the opportunity to forget what lies behind and press on to what lies ahead.  The pain, regret, sorrow, grief, shame, dismissal, brokenness can all be put away.  I know for most of us there is something we would like some help to enhance.  God wants, and will by your faith choice, to restore 6, no 7, things in your life this year.

The other day I let you in on some sermon prep of mine as I shared how God can give a New You for the New Year. There is more.  Which one of these is your greatest need as we start the new year?

1.  Joy
2.  Productivity
3.  Hope
4.  Confidence
5.  Future
6.  Victory
7.  Eternity

Which one do you need the most?  Maybe you need several.  Here’s what you do.  Go to the Lowe’s, Home Depot, or your local hardware store and get a stake.  Get a sharpie marker and write the one(s) you need and “Isaiah 54”.  Every day take your stake and God’s Word and pray…

“God restore ______ to me.  I give you my head to learn more about You and Your Word.  I give you my heart to love deeper.  I give you my hands to serve greater.  Possess me.  God, restore me.”

Regret-Free Living

In Decisions on December 27, 2013 at 9:17 am

live-with-no-regrets

I walked out of my dorm one evening on the way to dinner when I noticed a couple of my friends sitting in the car.  I attended a Union University and had a boy’s dorm and a separate girl’s dorm.  In the middle was an outdoor commons and circle drive.  This was the spot where the girls were picked up for a date.  I knew what these two were doing.  They were trying to decide where to go eat.  Here’s how it typically went:

Where do you want to go?
I don’t care.  Where do you want to go?
I don’t care.  How about you?
Doesn’t really matter.
Not to me either.

Pause and repeat.

I went to dinner in the cafeteria, casually ate, and returned to find them still there.  I walked up to the car and knocked on the window. “Go to Pizza Inn”, I said.  He started the car and away they went.  So often we paralyze ourselves in decision-making because of fear.  We fear failure.  We fear regret. Here are some other decisions

I know way to many people who cannot make decisions.

  • Who chooses where we eat?
  • Who gets the car?
  • Who gets the girl?
  • Which way should we go?
  • Who goes first?
  • Who gets the good office?
  • Who gets the budget dollars?

These are simple decisions that don’t really matter.  However as we move up the decision-making food chain we shouldn’t rely on this hand game to choose our destiny.  Can you imagine Luke and Vader settling the Force issue this way?  What if the Hunger Games solved its problem like this? Silly?  Borderline stupid?  How are we supposed to make decisions then? Surely there is a better way to decide.  Don’t worry.  There is a better way.

There are three basic influences that shape our decisions: Facts, Feelings, and Faith.  These three are like the points of a triangle.  The answer to your dilemma/decision is found at the center where God’s peace resides.  Geometry teaches us the way to find the center of a triangle is like this picture:

FACTS

triangleFEELINGS                                                               FAITH

From each point one would draw a line to the center of the opposing line.  Where these meet is the center of the triangle.  Every decision, large and small, involves this triangle.  Our job, should we want peace and a life with no regrets, should be to find the center and choose wisely.  Here is how it would work.

FACTS – What are the facts about your decision?  What are the pro’s and con’s?  Make a T-Chart and list on the reasons to choose one way or the other.  Do your research.  Google stalk this decision.  Find out everything you can that is factual.  There are no feelings at this point.  Do not formulate any thoughts yet.  Just gather data.

FEELINGS – Does either way cause joy or pain?  How would deciding either way affect your relationships, your family, your friends?  Those who find the facts easy will find this difficult and the emotional will find the factual harder.

FAITH – Dive into scripture and discover what the Bible has to say about this decision.  I suggest to you that the wisdom of Scripture applies to all of our decisions if we will take the time to investigate.  You may not be a Bible scholar or Logos 5 owner but that doesn’t matter.  Find a biblically wise person in your church or take your pastor to lunch and pick his brain.  Pray for God to bring clarity and direction.  Pray for faith.  Pray for strength.  Pray.

The point is that we should find a balance just like in geometry to find the center of God’s Will in whatever matter you have.  If we lean too heavily on one point the choice could be skewed.  If we take only one point into consideration we are not being responsible.  If we take 2 of 3 we are not being balanced.  The answers you need, and want, can be found.  The decisions made without regret are available to those who do the work.  I don’t always make good decisions, but when I do I use the Decision Triangle.  Try it with your big decision today and in the New Year.

Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.
Proverbs 19:2 ESV

Don’t Talk to Strangers

In Chrisian Life, Leadership, Parenting on December 23, 2013 at 7:00 am

Boy-Hand-Stop-Sign-1594460Stranger Danger

These words remind us of the importance of teaching our children some of the dangers as they venture out into the world.  We were new parents with our oldest in a Super Wal-Mart when it happened.  We looked down and he wasn’t there.  He had been so desperate and independent that he wanted to walk.  Well, walk he did.  We were absolutely panicked!!  We tore through the surrounding aisles looking for our son.  We called, nearly screamed, to get him to answer us.  We turned a corner and there he was just standing there like nothing had happened.  Our hearts slowed, finally, and the adrenalin stopped surging.  We were scared that someone had taken him.  He was so engaging and trusting.  We have, ever since, spoken to him about not going anywhere with a stranger.

Good and Bad Strangers

According to this website, there are good and bad strangers.

First and foremost, children need to understand what you mean by stranger.

Not all people unknown to them are necessarily dangerous – they need to understand the difference between “good” and “bad” strangers; an overly simplistic dichotomy, but one that puts the issue in terms a child can understand.

This is important so children understand where and to whom to turn if they are ever lost or feel scared, threatened, or if they think someone may be following them.

Examples of “good” strangers may include police officers, security guards, teachers, store clerks, etc. These are all examples of people to turn to if when your child needs help.

On the other hand, in many situations where your child may be approached by a “bad” stranger – the park, residential street, etc – those easily identifiable people may not be around.

Your child should know that there really are many more “good” people, than “bad.”

If they are approached by a “bad” stranger who tries to lure or physically pull them away, the best thing they can do is get the attention of other adults – whether that is by running to the nearest home, or making enough noise to be heard by someone, the vast majority of adults will help a child in danger.

The Church is Getting Carried Away

We have bemoaned for a decade that the numbers in church are dropping.  We have warred over worship, attire, and atmosphere.  Honestly, we have lost people over that too, but we will discuss it later. Preachers have spoken on the sins of sports, activities, and leisure obsessions.  People are leaving.  Families are falling apart. Marriages are dying.

Why?

Because no one has expressed to them what is really happening.  We seem to want to fight a physical battle in a spiritual war.  Those among you are being carted away by strangers. Look at this statement by Jesus,

“I assure you: Anyone who doesn’t enter the sheep pen by the door but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber.     The one who enters by the door is the shepherd   of the sheep.     The doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.  They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they don’t recognize the voice of strangers.”

We must teach people the difference between good and bad strangers in their lives.  The good will try to help you without pulling you away.  We find a plethora of self-help self-talk books and blogs.  We can find any group we need for whatever ails us.  However, if that group or gathering pulls you away from God or the local church in which God has placed you then you must be on alert.  The good stranger may be that blogger or author who help you in your time of need/crisis but push you back to where you belong.  The bad strangers will pull you away from service and worship to do other things.  Those strangers will be dressed right and have smiles on their faces but have nothing good for you.

Something to Consider

As we evaluate for the New Year and make decisions, sometimes rash ones, let us consider what is pulling us away from time spent with God and other believers.  What is pulling you away from the local body God has for you?  Why is a dialogue with God not happening?  What is pulling you away?  On the other hand, what or who have you been ignoring that is pushing you back to relational development with God and fellow believers?  Engage them.  Listen to them.  Go with them.

Day 4 Blank Slate-Time

In Decisions, Leadership, Time on January 7, 2013 at 11:19 am

time

Time is the coin of your life.  It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.  Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.

Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

As we walk headlong into this new year let us take a moment to consider what it is we wish to accomplish.  Taking a look at Genesis 1, we note what God did and apply it to life today.  The first three concepts were Balance, Definition, and Priorities.  Today we, again, return to the first chapter of Genesis to see what God is expressing.

14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will serve as signs for festivals and for days and years. 15 They will be lights in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made the two great lights—the greater light to have dominion over the day and the lesser light to have dominion over the night—as well as the stars. 17 God placed them in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth, 18 to dominate the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 Evening came and then morning: the fourth day.

We note in these verses that time has been established.  For the first three “days” there was no established time markers.  However, now there are lights in the sky to separate day and night and give signs.  Time is a precious commodity in our lives.  I never seem to have enough time unless it is something I don’t want to do then time drags on forever!  How about you?  If time is so precious then we should make good use of it, right?  Steven Covey in First Things First draws a box with four quadrants like the one below.
time_management_matrix
Now look at this.  Really take a look.  Where is most of your time spent?  For most of us we spend all of our time in 1 and 3 which leads to diving into 4.  In The Tyranny of the Urgent, by Charles E. Hummel in 1967, we see the following:
Don’t let the urgent take the place of the important in your life.  Oh, the urgent will really fight, claw, and scream for attention.  It will plead for our time and even make us think we’ve done the right thing by calming our nerves.  But the tragedy of it all is this: while you and I were putting out the fires of the urgent (an everyday affair), the important thing was again left in a holding pattern.  And interestingly, the important is neither noisy or demanding.  Unlike the urgent, it patiently and quietly waits for us to realize its significance.
Time is not the enemy.  Time simply marks the days, weeks, months, and years.  Time provides signs and seasons.  The enemy is the urgent matters.  They must be kept under careful watch.  There are urgent matters that should, rather ought, to be handled.  Too, there are those matters which seem urgent but could be handled by others or set aside for the important.  May we not be confused.  When we have chosen balance, definition, and priority we are enabled to make wise use of time.  Otherwise, at the end of this year and we will look back wondering where it went and feel depression because we cannot really think of what has been accomplished.  We will be tired.  We will want a break.  We will have been busy.  Yet, if we succumb to the urgent too much over the important we will have not been beneficial to us, our families, or to the Kingdom of God.
Time is the coin of life.  How will you spend yours this year?  Start today.

Blank Slate

In Decisions, Direction, Leadership on January 1, 2013 at 10:54 am

blank-black-chalkboard

Every new year is like a blank chalkboard after a school holiday.  The cleaning crew has done its job and the boards are clean, clear, and ready for chalk!  One can barely, if at all, see any reminders of the former session.  You have a new year that you are staring at right now.  Maybe you have a new you that is staring at you wondering if the new will just be another version of the old or if it will be different.  There is something inside of us that longs for the different, the slower, the simpler.   While I would not trade the technology I have grown accustomed to and that you are using to read this very blog, I do yearn for those moments when the pace was slower, life was simpler, and relationships were real.

We have a chance!  We have a blank slate.  What will you write on it?  How will you manage the space?  What will eventually get erased for something else to be written?

As many of you might start a new Bible reading campaign on this day, or week, we find ourselves in Genesis.  God had a blank slate on which he masterfully created everything we know today.  In those seminal moments, He was methodical and patient.  I do not desire to argue about how long it took but rather the potential thought behind it all.

Day 1 – Balance -Darkness covered the entire surface.  God decided that the darkness was out of balance and light was needed.  The balance of light and dark carries over into all facets of life.  We must have balance.  Some call it Chi while others call it Yin-Yang.  The Bible calls it Light/Dark.  For many of us I believe life is usually out of balance.  God started with balance and so should we.

I can always tell when my car tires are out of balance because something shakes, making the ride uncomfortable.  The efficiency reduces because there is too much drag in one area.  The danger rises because if the tire wears too thin and blows while driving down the highway the car could get out of control, spin, flip, or hit other cars.  God’s Spirit was hovering over the surface and the decision was made to bring light into the situation.  The Holy Spirit hovers over our lives trying to get our attention light the low pressure gauge to alert us.  Where is life uncomfortably shaking?  How is your efficiency and productivity?  Are you being dragged down because of something out of balance.

Begin with balance.  Make the necessary choices.  Don’t resolve. Do.  There is no try.  There is either do or do not.  What will you do today?

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