Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Paul’

Handling Frustrations in Leadership

In Leadership on June 10, 2014 at 10:35 am

christian-frustration

If you are in leadership you will face frustrations.  These come in the form of attempting to unify and separated people or criticisms when not every idea is considered worth acting on to fulfill Kingdom work.  Unifying a separated people can take its toll also.  Often, leaders find themselves in difficult positions as they stand between the plan, purpose, and people of the organization.  How can leaders get a handle on the frustrations?  I believe an episode in the life of Moses gives insight.

1.  Find God’s Plan.  God has a plan for every organization and its leader.  Through prayer and Bible reading you can discover God’s will for your situation.  Moses went to God to discuss the issues.  While spending time with God, it was revealed to Moses what he should do.  Spending time reading Scripture and meditating on God and His Will you will not only find the plan He has but also the peace He can provide.

2.  Keep Calm and Carry On.  When leaders get frustrated to a breaking point it is easy to over-react to something.  Moses was very frustrated with the people, God, and his current assignment.  He went to God and found the plan.  He, however, did not completely follow the plan.  His act of disobedience caused a personal problem with God.  The people were satisfied because they received water, but the method of Moses went against God’s plan.  Leaders must keep emotions in check through the turbulent moments in order to stay in right standing with God.

3.  Follow Orders.  Leaders have a hard time with following orders because they become accustomed to giving orders rather than receiving them.  When God reveals a plan it is critical for the leader to obey in detail.  The end does not justify the means in God’s eyes.  The people wanted water.  Moses, through God, provided water.  Yet, God told Moses to speak to the rock but he struck it instead.  You might be facing the same situation you have faced before, but that does not mean God will give you the same method as before.  Be sure to obey the direction of God

Leadership certainly has its ups and downs.  Sadly, leaders are out of balance in today’s culture being heavy on the down side.  With people playing politics, critics speaking out, and factions rising those moments of joy in leadership can pale in comparison.  Paul relays to Timothy that he is to keep his head down, work hard, and follow the plan of God.  In so doing, you may not win over all the people, but God will be pleased.  With eternity just down the road, choose to make God happy rather than spending all your time and energy trying to make the people happy.

The Catalyst

In Chrisian Life on October 24, 2013 at 8:06 am

Catalyst

I will never forget the day the sweater went up in smoke!  The group on the other side of the table had a girl who wore a real fuzzy sweater one day into lab.  We did not have lab coats on at that time and were setting everything up for the experiment of the day.  We set out our beakers, Bunsen burners, and the rest of the items needed.  After we set it all up it was time to turn on the Bunsen burner.  This is used as our catalyst.  More often than not, the chemical reactions we worked with used heat to produce an action.  That producing agent causing an action and reaction is called a catalyst.  We usually used a flint to start the burners.  Unfortunately for this girl she didn’t factor in the fuzzi-ness and that sweater went up in smoke!  Her face was so red, but not from being burned or rage!

That day, the catalyst did its job and caused an action by burning the sweater and embarrassing the girl.  Later, that same catalyst would cause other actions in the experimental process.  The point is that a catalyst kick-started the process.  When we begin to read Colossians, we find that Paul is very excited to see what is taking place in Colossae.  The first few verses reveal the path to the catalyst.  Follow the path with me.

  1. Paul is praying and thanks God for them because he has heard of their faith and love for the saints.
  2. The people have this faith and unifying love because of a hope they have in Heaven.
  3. This hope comes from the reception of the Gospel in their lives.
  4. The Gospel was presented to them by Epaphras.

Because of one person being a catalyst, an entire region is becoming known for their faith and love.  It just takes one to make a huge difference.  Will you be that spark where you find yourself today??

Too Many Cooks

In Leadership, Politics on August 20, 2013 at 8:10 am

toomanycooks

Alexander the Great conquered the entire world.  After his death it was divided up among the generals because they could not agree on who should rule.  There is scarcely any series of wars more mind-boggling to follow than those of the successors of Alexander. For twenty years after the death of Alexander his generals fought for control of his empire, and even after the critical Battle of Ipsus, which settled the division of much of the old Persian Empire, wars raged for control of Macedonia and Asia Minor for another generation. The principals involved in these wars were Macedonian Generals who served under Alexander, and their descendents. They were not fought between states or principalities, but between armies, sometimes composed of regional troops or mercenaries, but always led by Greek and Macedonian officers. Also, the regions controlled by the various dynasties changed during the war years, so in several cases one cannot even form a permanent association of a particular dynasty with a fixed sphere of influence.

Herod the Great ruled over Israel and Galilee.  After his death it was divided up among his sons because they could not agree on who should rule.  At his death, all parties appealed to Caesar, who divided the dominions of Herod among his children, giving Archelaus Judea, with the title of Ethnarch. But Archelaus became so unworthy a governor, that the Roman emperor, wearied by the complaints urged against him, deprived him of power, and banished him into Gaul, Judea was now formally made a Roman province, and subjected to taxation. The Jews were very reluctant to submit to taxation, and frequently took up arms against the publicans, or tax-gatherers. ‘Herod is dead. It is safe now’ Well, it wasn’t so safe, really. Herod’s son, Archelaus, was now King and was more hated and more cruel than his father. There’d been riots and disturbances and mass executions.

The church at Corinth faced an almost similar fate.  They were divided over whom they should follow:  Peter, Paul, Apollos, or Jesus.  Now, there was the trouble at Corinth. These were not schisms yet; they had not split off into other congregations, but there were four cliques, or factions within the congregation.  Often, these same divisions are found in organizations like your business, church, and even family today.

1.  The Devotees said, “We are of Paul. He started this church. We came to life in Christ by Paul, and Paul is the one we’re going to listen to above all others.” So undoubtedly there was a big group that followed Paul.  We find these in organizations today, especially those going through adjustments, reductions, or changes at the top.  If someone has been in charge for several years there will be a strong following for that person regardless of the qualifications of the new leader.  Once they are gone or retired, those feelings remain and can cause problems in the future.  The new leader is unfairly compared to the former.  Unrealistic expectations are placed on the new leader based on the personality of the former.

2.  The Fashionistas were attracted by the different kinds of preaching, and they had especially been drawn to Apollos. I am sure there were many in Corinth who were saying, “Oh, I love to hear Apollos! He’s a great preacher, a warm, capable, eloquent man, who can make the Old Testament come alive!”  Paul might have been the better leader, but this group loved Apollos.  You are a stylist if you are attracted by the fad of the day.  You find yourself drawn to those who are electric and funny and cool and hip.  They fill you full of warmth and love.  Who wouldn’t?  However, if the leader/manager God has provided isn’t that person we are still directed to honor, obey and follow.

3.  The Classicists say, “Well, I don’t know about Paul or Apollos. Let’s get back to the beginnings. Let’s go back to Jerusalem. We are of Peter.”   Every organization has a group like the classicists.  They will always think back on the golden years of the organization.  They will desire, and often try to implement methods and processes to get back to those days.  The problem is that those days are in the past.  Developing organizations learn from the past without living in the past.

4.  The Spiritualists were drawing themselves up and saying, “Well, you may be of Paul or of Peter or of Apollos, but we are of Christ! We go back to the Lord alone. What he says we’ll listen to, not Paul or Peter or anyone else — it makes no difference to us.”  This sounds holy but is, in practice, unbiblical.  God has placed us under human authorities in every area: Parent/Child, Manager/Worker, Teacher/Student, Pastor/People, and more.

Greece would soon fall as would Rome.  The church at Corinth remained because of one knowledgable person.  Paul wrote sternly to them and said that there were to be no divisions in the fellowship.  Proverbs teaches the same truth in 28:2, When a land is in rebellion, it has many rulers, but with a discerning and knowledgeable person, it endures.  Many organizations are failing today not because of the economy but because everyone wants to be boss.  Too many bosses leads to chaos and rebellion.

Which group describes you most often?

Jesus Thumped

In Chrisian Life on July 15, 2013 at 6:39 am

attitude is everything

Attitude is everything.

This is something I drill into my kids a lot! As a parent I am bombarded with questions that surround what is happening next, or can we do ____ ? My kids have learned that it all depends on attitude. Sometimes I receive a poor attitude or response. In those moments of disrespect or improper attitude they get thumped on the head. We have some young friends who are close to us that have attitude and other issues and they are learning to think before they speak!

I find myself going to God often with the same questions just in a grown-up style.

When will the blessing come?
When will the prayer be answered?
Why did I lose my job?
Why can’t I find someone nice to date?
God can you just “fix” my spouse or children or parents?

Other times I have a bad attitude about things.  I may not like a decision and want to complain or be in a bad mood.  God has His reasons.  The problem is my attitude toward His leadership and position.

These questions and attitudes often come back with the same answer, “Depends on your attitude.” As I read God’s Word it sometimes feels like I get thumped on the head. Consider Romans 14.

5 One person considers one day to be above another day. Someone else considers every day to be the same. Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 Whoever observes the day, observes it for the honor of the Lord. Whoever eats, eats for the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; and whoever does not eat, it is for the Lord that he does not eat it, yet he thanks God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 Christ died and came to life for this: that He might rule over both the dead and the living. 10 But you, why do you criticize your brother? Or you, why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before the tribunal of God.

I think that many of us want to look at other people rather than ourselves. You or I may believe that a particular activity is acceptable but another follower of Christ does not.  If they are in different churches it is not usually a big deal.  However, when these different beliefs or interpretations are in the same body it can create tension.  Paul wrote to the Romans about these differences.  At that time the differences were about types of meat they could buy in the market or the day observed for worship.

For us today, we find differences also.  Ours are music style, the way we dress, the version of Scripture we use, how often we attend church, the decorations, the seating options and arrangements, the type of church service offered, choirs, praise teams, or even where the piano is on the stage.  All of these items are preferences that we have somehow spiritualized into moral absolutes.  Like the meat and day options in Romans 14, there are people on both sides of every issue saying they are the holier for being on that side of the difference.

Thump.   We, like the Romans get Jesus thumped.

We all stand before God.  Why should we fuss and fight over issues that are preference?  Christ died and rose again that we might have life and freedom .  The root issue is attitude.  Do I think myself holier than someone else?  Do I look down on others?  Do I judge others?  Do I criticize others?  Each should bow the knee before God and seek His Will for life every day.  Are you where you should be?  Are you doing what you should be doing?  Is your attitude in step with Jesus?

 

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!

Leverage

In behavior, Jesus, Journey, Leadership on December 14, 2012 at 5:03 pm

leverage

Leverage is the power to get things done using a certain advantage.  In physics, like the picture above, a lever is the advantage to move the world.  Do Christians have leverage? They do and they should use it.

Paul was under house arrest and doing some writing when he becomes acquainted with a slave named Onesimus.  The slave had runaway and was in some trouble.  Paul gets hold of the guy, shares the Gospel, and helps him learn a better lifestyle.  Here’s the interesting part, Paul wants Onesimus to return.

In the this letter to Philemon, the slave owner, Paul tries to leverage a common interest in Jesus.  How does he do this?

1.  Begin with praise.  He thanks God every time Philemon is brought to mind.  He leverages this with the positive remarks of how he prays that Philemon’s participation in the faith would become more and more effective.  Do you see the set up?  I bet Philemon did not.  However, what harm is there to speak positive about someone before challenging them to act in a certain way.?

2.  Encourage to be a better person. Paul is bold.  He directly tells Philemon what the Christian response should be to the return of Onesimus.

3.  Add a pinch of Jewish guilt.  Paul uses impeccable timing and wording to exercise leverage over Philemon.  “I am an elderly man imprisoned….”  “I wouldn’t want you to do it out of obligation….”  “I trust you will make the right decision.”  Paul leverages his relationship for the good of Onesimus and the growth of Philemon.

4.  Close the deal.  Paul  requests that Philemon prepare a guest room.  As if the praise, encouragement, and guilt were not enough, Paul suggests that he is coming for a visit.  In other words, make the right choice or else.

Leverage is important to making massive changes.  When a person has stopped with the Devil and started walking with Jesus there are major changes that will take place.  Using Christian leverage to help someone out and disciple another is critical.  Our Christian influence in our communities is pathetic because we have forgotten a proper use of leverage in the church body that makes a difference in the church’s community.

Our leverage is discovered at a bloody cross and empty tomb; a risen and still alive Lord!  This power gives you advantage over the wiles of the Devil.  Use it to make the necessary changes in your life and those around you.

Say What?!?

In Decisions, Direction, Trust, Uncategorized on October 30, 2012 at 11:31 am

Have you ever had that reaction?  When someone made some remark about you and you thought, “Whaaaaat?”  Maybe you heard something in class or at work or over lunch that struck you as odd, weird, or just plain wrong.  We often react the way the minion did.

Recorded in the book of Acts is the growth of the early church.  People from all over the world were coming to faith in Jesus.  The power of the Holy Spirit was manifested more during that time than maybe any other.  The innocence and passion of the first believers magnified the Spirit in their lives.  So much so, that Peter’s shadow healed people.  Paul’s apron healed people.  The fame of these men spread and soon others wanted in on the action.

11 God was performing unusual miracles through Paul. 12 Even handkerchiefs and aprons he had used were taken to the sick, and their diseases were driven away, and the evil spirits would go out of them. 13Some Jews who traveled around and drove out evil spirits also tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus to do this. They said to the evil spirits, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches.” 14Seven brothers, who were the sons of a Jewish High Priest named Sceva, were doing this. 15But the evil spirit said to them, “I know Jesus, and I know about Paul; but you—who are you?”

Those demons knew these sons of Sceva were out of their league.  It was as if the demons said, “Whaaaaat?”  What they heard was such nonsense.  They knew Jesus.  They recognized Paul.  These men they did not know.

How often do we go around trying to be someone else?  The clothes, makeup, speech patterns, words, and more we choose often is a result of wanting to be someone else.  We are unhappy with ourselves for some reason and attempt to be someone else.  Maybe they are richer or more famous.  Maybe we believe they like themselves more and we want to emulate that position.  Regardless, we need to be who we are designed to be.  These men were trying to be someone else and it caused them great embarrassment and harm.  They were trying to look and act like Paul.  They were not Paul.  They were not believers.  They were users and haters.

  • Believe it – God made you special.  God loves you as you are not when you try to be someone else.
  • Sacrifice it – Give your life to God by faith in Jesus unlocking your full potential.
  • Own it – By faith you have been forgiven.  You have received the Holy Spirit.  You are a child of God.
  • Live it – Following Christ is like fulfilling the dream you never thought was possible.

Have a great day being you!

 

Is There Any Hope?

In Commitment, Direction, Evangelism, Family, Jesus, Journey, Leadership, Parenting, Uncategorized on August 31, 2012 at 9:44 am

Our hope for a better future depends on what is done with the next generation.  Parenting and discipleship are seemingly unrelated items, but they are essentially the same.

Train up a child in the way he should go… Proverbs 22:6

We gravitate toward parenting when we read this.  However, Paul will state that he is a spiritual parent to Timothy and takes it upon himself to train him in the way he should go also.  In honor of teaching the ABC’s to my children, here they are as helpful reminders of how to train up a child.  Can you think of others?

Accept them as they are.
Believe God has a purpose
Calibrate to meet their needs
Develop them patiently
Engage them with the Gospel
Failure allows learning
Grace as they develop
Hope for a better future
Initiate conversations
Journal their progress
Keep them on track
Love sacrificially
Meaningful touch
Note milestones in their life
Ongoing evaluation
Pray Pray Pray
Quick to listen
Remind them of the higher purpose
Set boundaries
Teach them scripture
Unleash them into service
Vocalize feelings and needs
Words of affirmation
eXpect and eXamine
Yield to the Spirit’s plan, nor yours
Zero in on God’s specific purpose

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

In Church, Evangelism, Leadership, Missions, SBC, Suffering on December 8, 2011 at 10:08 am

Have you ever noticed how the religious organizations introduce people? I have been in ministry almost 20 years and have noticed a growing trend toward lengthy introductions. It gets worse when it comes to election time for convention leadership, whether state or national. Someone will stand and give a nomination/introduction that is well articulated and respectful. However, we have developed a pattern of what we want and don’t want, haven’t we?

I once asked why, when our state convention is made up of mostly smaller churches, we don’t hear more often from them during preaching times. The answer I received was because that is not who the people want to hear. We want to hear the “Big Boys”. We desire to hear from those who have grown massive churches and can somehow pass along the crumbs to us dogs who are still in the smaller church. We want to listen to creativity and charm. We want, if we are honest, to be them. The same is true, most of the time, for those who receive nominations and elections to positions. I have had the pleasure and honor to serve our state convention though I am certainly not one of the mighty men of the state. I was, and am, grateful for the opportunity. More should serve our convention and help move us along in the Kingdom.

Still, though, as the one who would introduce us to the person approaches papers/cards are pulled out so that all the facts would be on display for us all to hear. Sometimes, for the best and most creative, a powerpoint is produced as well. Their great accomplishments are touted before us: church growth, CP giving, family mindset, etc.

Have you ever heard someone be introduced in the way Paul describes his service to Christ? Notice the question in verse 23 and subsequent answer.

21 I say this to [our] shame: We have been weak.
But in whatever anyone dares [to boast]-I am talking foolishly-I also dare:
22 Are they Hebrews? So am I.
Are they Israelites? So am I.
Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.
23 Are they servants of Christ?
I’m talking like a madman-I’m a better one:
with far more labors,
many more imprisonments,
far worse beatings, near death many times.
24 Five times I received 39 lashes from Jews.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods [by the Romans].
Once I was stoned [by my enemies].
Three times I was shipwrecked.
I have spent a night and a day
in the open sea.
26 On frequent journeys, [I faced]
dangers from rivers,
dangers from robbers,
dangers from my own people,
dangers from the Gentiles,
dangers in the city,
dangers in the open country,
dangers on the sea,
and dangers among false brothers;

27 labor and hardship,
many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst,
often without food, cold, and lacking clothing.

2 Corinthians 11

If we were to ask how a person was a servant of Christ our answer, sadly, would be different. We would talk about how many people attend. We would talk about how many programs we have started. We would talk about the % giving to Cooperative Program. In this time, we might be so bold as to talk about our Total Missions giving in order to hide the lack of Cooperative Program funds being given. We would hear of the great family and friendships. We would hear, well, we would hear all the things that soothe our passions. We all want church growth, a great family, and friends. We, in the SBC, will shout praises of the man who leads their church on mission and mission giving.

Yet, when Paul speaks of being a servant of Christ, he speaks on different terms. He has been imprisoned, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and various dangers. Where are these men? Why do we not have a passion for this type of person? God bless our vocational missionaries in the national and global spectrum who provide us with such resumes and records. However, why do we not hear of this from our pastors, state leaders, and national leadership? We go to various places on vision trips to catch a vision for what we hope to go back and lead people to do. Why? Is the mission set forth by Christ not motivating enough? Are we somehow too seared in our collective conscious that we cannot feel the passion of God to reach the lost? Is Paul too unimpressive for us to follow to the ends of the Earth?

May we seek leaders who have been on the front lines for the Kingdom more than in the administration of it. May we go. May we gather. May we glorify God. In the process, take others with you so that we raise up a generation who will take the gospel to the ends of the earth. We have 6000+ people groups needing the gospel. May we lead our people to those people for the cause of Christ and His Kingdom.

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