Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Salvation’

Busted Brackets to Broken Hearts

In Jesus, Life and Culture, Sin on March 24, 2014 at 7:29 am

bustedbracketblues

If you haven’t heard, Warren Buffet through Quicken Loans put up $1 Billion to anyone who could produce a perfect bracket through this year’s NCAA Men’s Tournament.  Like millions of others, I submitted mine.  I make no claims of being good at this, but Dayton and Mercer tripped me up and apparently millions of others in the process.  After two days and 32 games, only 1 bracket was left and that one broke down after Dayton, again, won the upset!  Officially, there are no more perfect brackets left.

This exercise in futility is a lot of fun, but what if your life was held in the balance?  What if your eternal future were on the line?

If you live an absolutely perfect life according to the moral and ethical code of Scripture, then you have no need for salvation through Jesus Christ.  However,

As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous— not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”

From busted brackets to broken hearts, no one will be left standing in perfection.  Every one of us who produced and submitted a bracket went back to normal life today.  Every one who has ever made one mistake is out of the tournament. But praise be to God that,

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.  We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.  For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.

Black Friday

In Evangelism, Life and Culture on November 29, 2013 at 8:46 am

Today is the day when crazed people who have pitched their tents outside of their favorite store will receive the best deals.  Today is the day when those who can shove the hardest, sift the fastest, and move the swiftest will acquire all 22 family members gifts by lunch!  The Army, whose motto has been that they do more before breakfast than most people do all day, has nothing on Black Friday shoppers!

How did all of this start? (Full Article)

For millions of people Black Friday is the time to do some serious Christmas shopping –even before the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone! Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving, and it’s one of the major shopping days of the year in the United States falling anywhere between November 23 and 29. While it’s not recognized as an official US holiday, many employees have the day off except those working in retail.

The term “Black Friday” was coined in the 1960s to mark the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. “Black” refers to stores moving from the “red” to the “black,” back when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink indicated a loss, and black a profit. Ever since the start of the modern Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been known as the unofficial start to a bustling holiday shopping season.

In the 1960’s, police in Philadelphia griped about the congested streets, clogged with motorists and pedestrians, calling it “Black Friday.” In a non-retail sense, it also describes a financial crisis of 1869: a stock market catastrophe set off by gold spectators who tried and failed to corner the gold market, causing the market to collapse and stocks to plummet. (1)

As many of us shop this day in stores or online, let us remember another black Friday long, long ago.

Jesus had been up all night in court.  He was slapped, mocked, spat on, whipped, and abused.  Now He was hanging on a cross with two thieves. This action was being carried out by the Romans, but was initiated by God.  Our lives are in the red.  We are losing and have no way of gaining a profit on our own.  Instead of the business closing, our lives are on the line.  If we die with our spiritual account in the red we will eternally be absent from God in a place called Hell.  However, God, loving us like He does, provided a way for us to come back into the black and have our debt removed.  Jesus died.  he was buried.  He rose again on Sunday providing for our needs in a way we never could. (Start reading here.)

As you shop for those gifts, remember the greatest gift given.

As you help retailers find their way back to black, remember that God has provided a way for you also.  May Black Friday remind us of our spiritual need before God.

Are you “in the black” with God?

Keeping the Faith

In Faith, Life and Culture on November 26, 2013 at 10:40 am

LeapOfFaith

From Billy Joel to Bon Jovi to the Box Office we have been encouraged to keep the faith.  Billy Joel reminisces about an earlier time.  The video sets him on trial to determine whether he is keeping true to his music, youthful morality, and the message he is sending.  He summarizes his argument in the song stating that, indeed, he had “bad boy” tendencies and had no reason to stop.  Bon Jovi, in this 1992 release, marks a different tone for him and from the Billy Joel argument.  Bon Jovi seems to be seeking a change in his life, though there is no real power in it.  He seems to want to keep the faith, whatever that is defined as, in that which he had been taught as a child.  He is frustrated with societal trends but offers no solution.  In the movie, Keeping the Faith, the writer deals with religion and romance.  He juxtaposes the two and works it out through the 128 minutes.

What does the Bible say about keeping the faith?

There is an interesting dialogue that occurs in John 4.  In this passage, Jesus is thirsty and wants some water.  Unknown to her, the woman at the well is thirsty too.  Through this conversation and the ensuing ones, we see how faith develops and strengthens.  Here are the stages of faith from this episode in Jesus’ ministry.

Scared – The woman has been raised with a certain fear and loathing of Jews.  Being a woman of a certain mind, she also has a problem with men and the way she is treated.  Jesus begins with a simple request that is culturally acceptable and conversationally allowed.  Her response shows that faith and fear are intertwined for a time in everyone’s life.  The moment that you choose to let faith be stronger than fear is the same moment you can move forward.

Skeptical – Jesus talks of water but has no bucket.  She begins to question His sanity, though He is questioning her spirituality!  So often, people move from scared to skeptical.  Fear lingers.  Faith and reason have often been set in opposition.  For some, many questions must be answered before they are ready to move forward.  A recent report reveals that for those raised in church, 85% make a faith decision before 18 if raised in church.  For those not raised in church, obviously they come to Christ must older and in fewer numbers.  Tragedy and transition mark the best times for people and faith.  May we be as patient as Jesus was in this moment.

Saving – Through this conversation, the woman accepts that Jesus is the Messiah.  What does this mean?  It means that she realized and readily accepted that He was to be the ruler of the world and her own life.  She turned away from leading her own life and turned to Jesus.  She left her old lifestyle and forged a faithful new one under the leadership of Jesus.  Have you done this in your life?

Sharing – The woman runs back to town in excitement to tell everyone she knew about the great news she had just received and believed.  Many people believe because of her testimony.  What if she had not shared?  What if she had simply enjoyed the personal moment and kept it private?  What if she has compartmentalized her life and never let others know?  She could not help but share.  The joy and relief she felt was so overwhelming she HAD to tell someone else.  Do you feel this way?  Why or why not?

Secured – The people of the community listen and believe for themselves based on the testimony of the woman.  They believed in Jesus, not the woman, and were excited also.  However, they wanted something the woman had…time with Jesus.  They made their way out and met Jesus.  As a result, they were more secured in their faith.  The woman moved to this point earlier.  Now the others would say they believe more firmly. There is nothing like meeting Jesus!

You might resonate with one or more of these progressive points.  Maybe you are near the top of the list and still wondering.  You are reading this because you know me, or because you found it on a search engine and something led you to stop.  Others of you might have a saving faith but are not sharing it or feel secured.  So many people I know are shaky because they have believed but have ridden the coattails of parents or grandparents.  It is possible that the shaky ones are riding the faith carpet of their teacher or pastor.  Let me encourage you to read the Gospel of John and meet Jesus!  Get secure and keep the faith!

Getting Paid

In Chrisian Life, Decisions on July 3, 2013 at 1:51 pm

calendar_payday

Do you remember your first job?  My first job was at Wendy’s.  My favorite part was every two weeks when I would get paid.  The first check seemed to take the longest because I had to work two weeks before getting the check.  That felt like the longest two weeks.  At 17, I hadn’t completely learned the process of work then get paid.  Oh, how I have learned it since!  Every day I would clock in and work my shift and then go home.  I did that for 10 days and couldn’t wait for payday.  When I opened the envelope I was, as many have been, surprised at how much was taken out before it got to me.  I didn’t really care because I had money.  For the first time, I had money I had earned without the help of my parents.  It was a glorious feeling of freedom and maturity.  I took my girlfriend out to dinner and movie that next day to celebrate!!

Getting paid is a common occurrence though we may not consider it often.  We receive wages for everything we do.

  • Money is the most common way of getting paid.  We work and we receive money for our efforts.  This one is obvious.
  • Pain is not a pleasant consideration.  However, the wages for our actions come in many forms.  Depending on what your actions include, pain is quite possibly what you will get paid.  The poor relationship and the choices involved leave emotional scarring that can take years to remove.
  • Guilt and shame are also two forms of payment.  The sin that so easily entangles us will pay you in this way. God created us to live for Him.  When we sin, and we all do, we fall short of God’s glorious purpose for our lives.  Guilt and shame leave their mark on our hearts and minds.  While this is a form of pain, it is vastly different.  These wages lead to alcoholism, abuse, cutting, and more.  We fight to feel alive because the wages of sin are death.
  • Peace and joy come to those who follow after God and invite the Holy Spirit’s influence in and over their lives.  This is a gift of God given toward you as payment for faith.  Once you were at war with God, but now peace has come.  These are the best checks!
  • Cleanness is one way of speaking about sanctification.  Our scripture teaches that this is the wage you earn when living by God’s standards.

We all receive wages for every action.  You have the choice to make as to which ones you desire to earn.  God does not force you either way but leaves the choice up to you.  I have earned from both sides.  I assure you that God’s wages are much more beneficial and long-lasting!

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from allegiance to righteousness. 21 So what fruit was produced then from the things you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now, since you have been liberated from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification —and the end is eternal life! 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.       – Romans 6:20-23

The Storm

In Trust on May 24, 2011 at 6:07 pm

The office had been monitoring the risk all day and when the first super cell appeared it was no surprise to us.  We watched for a little while and began developing our ideas of when it would be nearer to us.  Late in the afternoon I finally decided to go home and prepare the family for the return trip to the church where our shelter is.  While there are those closer, the church just seemed the place to go if needed.  As the storms intensified and the circulation increased, devastation for many was on the horizon.  One after another began to pop and move through the houses and heritages of small communities.  Barns, homes, vehicles were demolished and thrown down.  Trees were mowed over like the grass on a hot day.  These monsters of nature have no malice and seek no homicide and yet it would appear they incur both.

As the helicopter touched down and the family was seen crawling out from under the rubble, tears filled our eyes.  Tears of joy for their safety and tears of pain they will certainly feel as they evaluate the physical situation.  News of an apparent missing child gripped our hearts.  Friends trapped in basements all over the state have once again emerged safe, but not so dry!  I thank the Lord God for his oversight.  I pray that His love will not be overlooked by the pain of those who have lost everything on this evening.

The Lord provides the sun for the evil and the good.  He allows the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike.

Mathew 5:45

The obvious question is “Why?”  Why should God not be more protective of His children?  Why should God allow devastation to happen?  Should we engage in futilism?  Should we simply assume that while God was highly involved in the beginning of it all He has taken a “laissez-faire” kind of attitude when it comes to personal involvement?  I think not.

Whenever we study scripture we must remember to back away from the scene and see things from a higher position.  The same is true for our lives.  We cannot become stuck in the “right now”.  We must take a broader perspective of things.  The immediate does not supersede the eternal.  The best view is from up above.  One observer on the news wanted everyone on the ground to know they would not see the tornado coming and should seek shelter based on his vision and wisdom.

How true!   God’s Word provides a perspective quite different from ours.  We see tragedy and devastation.  God sees opportunity and redemption.  We see destruction.  God see opportunity and redemption.  We feel pain.  God brings comfort which leads to opportunity and redemption.  God is in the redemption business.  The methods He employs to move us toward opportunity and redemption are much higher than ours.

6 Seek the Lord while He may be found;
call to Him while He is near.

7 Let the wicked one abandon his way
and the sinful one his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord,
so He may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for He will freely forgive.

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not My ways.”
[This is] the Lord’s declaration.
9 “For as heaven is higher than earth,
so My ways are higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For just as rain and snow fall from heaven
and do not return there
without saturating the earth
and making it germinate and sprout,
and providing seed to sow
and food to eat,

11 so My word that comes from My mouth
will not return to Me empty,
but it will accomplish what I please
and will prosper in what I send it [to do].”

Isaiah 55

I can have a way of getting stuck in my selfish ways and shallow perspectives.  I can only look at the now.  Whatever the storm, God has a much different view.

Lord, let us see with your eyes.  May we hear with your ears.  May we serve with your heart.  May we follow with your courage.  Take our lives and let them be consecrated Lord to Thee.

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