Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Spirituality’

5 Reasons We Are the Fattest Nation on Earth

In Chrisian Life, Church, Jesus on February 28, 2014 at 9:59 am

DietAs a nation, we are fat.  While Mexico might have an edge in percentage, we have the highest number.  Who hasn’t started a diet in the last 90 days?  Who isn’t thinking about it right now?  How did we get this way?  Here are 5 reasons why we are the fattest nation on Earth:

  1. We eat too much.
  2. We eat out of balance.
  3. We have a sweet tooth.
  4. We solve problems through eating.
  5. We emphasize a certain look too much.

Have you ever considered that, for the same 5 reasons, American Christians constitute the fattest nation on Earth also?

We eat too much.  So many go from this study to that study and fill up.  They eat so much at each offering but are not exercising.  Southern Baptists have nearly ruined Sunday School because we demand deeper studies.  We want “teaching” pastors.  We want awards and certificates that show how much we have eaten.  We gorge ourselves on education but are not putting that knowledge to work.  We just eat.

We eat out of balance.  Like those who refuse to eat greens, or only vegetables, or only meat and potatoes, Christians today are eating out of balance.  The early church met in community AND shared possessions AND worshipped together AND socialized with each other AND saw people coming to faith.  These things happened in balance.  Today, we tend to only do 1 or 2, maybe 3.  We are a people that spiritually eat out of balance.

We have a sweet tooth.  I am on Facebook and try to stay up with it as often as I can.  People love a “feel-good” statement.  It doesn’t seem to matter if it is theologically sound as long as it stays positive and encouraging.  A generation ago people wanted a “feel-good” church and preacher.  Now people have settled for “feel-good” posts as an outlet for their spirituality.  It amazes me the number of people who are trying to get their spiritual nutrition from Facebook, but they are.

We solve problems through eating.  This is akin to eating too much or eating out of balance.  When we are under stress and anxiety, some people eat their way to feeling better which is called stress-eating.  The problem is that food is not the solution to the problem.  Bible reading and church attendance are proper things to do regularly.  However, if you are doing more of those things trying to wash over the poor choices or sin in your life it does not work.  Like food, they are necessary to health but cannot solve the underlying problem of stress or anxiety.  We need to solve the real problem rather than trying to mask it.

We emphasize a certain look too much.  God has created numerous body types.  Just because our culture only likes one or two does not mean yours is wrong.  You have to be who God created you to be in a healthy way.  This is true for your spiritual life and church too.  God did not create you to be someone else.  He created you just the way you are.  When we try to be like the magazine cover or the popular church down the street it will backfire.  Be healthy but be YOU.

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ.  You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.

Galatians 1:6-7

I Wish I May, I Wish I Might

In Parenting on January 21, 2014 at 7:00 am

WISHES 2

Every parent wishes the same for their child: a better life than they had.  That is not to say that any of us had it bad.  We simply want the best life for our children possible.

  • We want better playsets, so we build massive ones in the yard.
  • We want better clothes, so we buy $85 Miss Me’s.
  • We want better birthday parties, so we have huge events.
  • We want better gifts, so we give them high-tech toys before they are ready.
  • We want better cars, so we give them the newest and best.

I get it.  I am tempted to do the very same thing.  I have built the play set and am helping plan the next birthday party.  The problem comes when we try to do the same thing with eternity.  No matter how much passion you have about it, you can’t wish it to be true.  Even if you see the first star of the night, you can’t make it happen.

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

What can be done?

You can pray.  Start right now.  Maybe your child is not born yet, start anyway.  Ask God to help them have faith and believe.  Ask God to prepare their heart to be receptive.  Pray that you would have the consistency and integrity to keep them in Church.

You can live with integrity.  The challenge to faith rises when we drop them off at church rather than leading them.  Being consistent allows kids to feel secure and prepare them to believe.  Keeping their innocence begins with your integrity.

Read the Bible to them.  While it may be obvious we should read it for ourselves, reading to our children is a special opportunity.  Start with Bible stories when very young.  As they get older you can move to more difficult versions.  At some point, you will just read THE BIBLE to them.

Teach them to pray.  Help them understand it is just talking.  No formulas.  No magic. No spiritual voodoo.  Train them to pray.

Show them how to tithe.

These are just a few things to consider.  What would you add?

Pigeon-Holed

In Chrisian Life on September 23, 2013 at 9:12 am

Pigeonhole

For years, I would periodically dump out my dresser drawers and put everything back in its place.  Since everything had a place it was best if it all was right where it was supposed to be.

I have friends who have difficulty going through lunch lines because they do not want their food to touch.  In fact, they do not want to discuss that it does touch in digestion.

We have been taught by our culture that every part of our lives should be kept separate from the others, like this pigeon-hole structure.  In the same way we think our clothes have special places and our food should not touch, we want the different areas of our lives not to touch, or overlap.  We compartmentalize.  We have our God time (church, prayer, Bible reading, etc), work time, family time, leisure time, personal time.  Often we treat these times as if they were pigeons in holes.  We take one out at a time and play with it them choose another.  We would not dare take two out a time because that could get messy and chaotic.  We want control.  We demand it.  So we pigeonhole everything in our lives.

Here is the problem.  Our lives were designed differently.  Each of us have a life-center.  Whatever, or whomever, resides in the center controls the whole.  While we struggle to segregate, God has designed us to integrate.  There is but one position in the life-center.  All decisions, behaviors, and emotions are filtered through this center.  What, or who, is at your center?

Is it money?
Is it family?
Is it children?
Is it self?
Is it pride?
Is it community?
Is it church?Is it morality?

What we truly need is something at our center that will never fail, stumble, or leave.  Only God fits that description.  All of your life is already filtering through the center.  You make decisions based on your center.  You behave according to your center.  You react to pressure or pain based on your center.  Because you were divinely designed to worship, we worship what is at out center.  Whatever you have at the center of your life right now is what gives you identity, significance, and purpose.

Stop trying to make a list.  You only need one thing.  What will you choose?

 

Breaking Free

In Chrisian Life, Decisions on July 29, 2013 at 9:45 am

rules-breaking

Rules.

Some would say rules are made to be broken. Others would say that rules are rigid and can never be adjusted.

Many rules I find are a response to something that happened. Several kids died one night after prom and my High School eliminated proms for a several years. A company’s generosity was taken for granted so all pro bono work was eliminated. A restaurant was losing money from employee discounts and removed that benefit. A church had a vote go the “wrong” way and removed all voting privileges to church members under 18. In nearly all instances we find rules to be a reaction too an event. Those in leadership react to an event that was out of their control or grip of power and seize the opportunity to make a rule or law that reflects their feelings.

Often we behave in the same manner. My Dad would never allow me to go to a school dance. He had his reasons and none of them I agreed with as a teenager. What did I do? The summer I spent in away from them I attended every dance and club I could. I later called and told him what a grand time I was having too! I was being disciplined one time for a legitimate reason but re-arranged my work schedule to eliminate the rigors of discipline and make money at the same time.

It does not matter which side of the rule we find ourselves, we try to get around it or reword it or control the moment. This verse is striking. Our culture likes to bend and break the rules. Our culture likes to rage against the machine. Many do not believe in rules and could never praise the legislators that make the rules. When it comes to God’s rules we tend to hear from critics that they are limiting and binding. How could anyone ever enjoy life under such rigid rules?

Yet, it seems, that someone far closer to the time than we are felt that he could be excited about learning the rules and then living within their construct. How do we manage our bent toward rebellion when it comes to God’s rules for life?

1. Take temptation seriously (Bible). The devil is always active in trying to get us to bend or break God’s rules. He is subtle. He is patient. He is meticulous. He will come to you slowly and in small chunks. We blow off so many actions as being benign when they are stacking up against you and will soon fall. The psalmist understood what it meant, and felt like, to break God’s rules. He knew the pain, loneliness, and guilt associated. He never wanted to feel that again. He took them seriously from that point.

2. Delight in God’s Word (Bible). The writer praised God as he learned the rules. He understood the value of God’s commands. Essentially he skipped along in his heart as he learned the rules and applied them to his life. God, who is holy, has developed a righteous construct in which we are to live. Because God is holy and righteous we can be assured that he has our best interests on mind.

3. Realize the power of 3 (Bible). There is big difference in addition and multiplication. One, as it has been sung, is the loneliest number. Two is better because there is help. However, 3 is greater. If you took three ropes that each could handle 50 lbs and braided them together they could pull far more than 150lbs. There is strength and support in a group of people that cannot be found alone. We must begin to do life together in our churches. The support and help needed to walk uprightly is found in a group of trusted friends. I was told by Ed Newton that your 3-5 closest friends (inner circle) must be developing followers of Christ. Otherwise you will fall prey to the tricks of the Devil.

Breaking free is bout loosening the chains of pain, shame, and loneliness by embracing the righteous rules God has put into place to increase your joy!

Crooked Roads

In Chrisian Life on July 23, 2013 at 6:46 am

roadsign

Proverbs 3:6

In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight

 

I think it was the moonshine!  I can’t prove it but I think it had something to do with it.  I grew up where the roads were not straight.  On the 8-mile road trip to one school I attended there were 2 “dead man” curves.  You would travel east to get west and south to get north.  As a child who cared?  As a burgeoning adult learning to drive it was something more important.  The first time I took my wife back home she got sick on the roads because of their curvy nature.  I had not yet adapted out of them and didn’t pay attention to my speed.  I was whipping around the corners and curves on nearly two wheels.  She was green and scrambling for a bowl!  When we moved to Oklahoma it was a vastly different situation. Because the state was divided up into sections the roads were laid out on one-mile squares and they were straight!  I recall the first couple of years remarking how easy it was to get around.

It was so much easier to go straight!  While I understand that roads go around the mountains rather than through them for economic reasons they are still easier to travel straight.  So many times my life has felt like that road sign.  I twist and turn instead of just going straight!  The Bible says to acknowledge, or think about, the Lord in all of our ways and He will make our paths straight.  Consider these areas of your life:

  • Marriage / Dating
  • Parent and/or Child
  • Work or School
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Passions
  • Recreational Choices
  • Vocabulary and Speech

The Bible says that we are to acknowledge Him.  What does that mean?  I am sure it does not mean a casual wink-wink- nudge-nudge affair.  To acknowledge God is to recognize His position.  If you have placed faith in Jesus and turned over your life to God then He holds the highest position.  Before faith, Satan owned you and made you feel warped and crooked.  Now that you have placed faith in Jesus, God owns you and wants to make those paths straight.

Demolition.  In order to do that the old road has to be demolished so a new road can be put into place.  There is no use trying to sort out what can and can’t be used of that crooked path we called a life.  Let it be demolished and a new one put in its place.  There will be sentimental value in some areas but the price you pay is far less than the pain of regret.

Dig.  The straight road often goes through the mountains rather than around.  God wants to tunnel through some of your issues and problems.  In God’s economy this is the best option.  He can afford the upfront cost and understands that a straight road travels faster than a crooked one.

Develop.  A new road must be built and begins with layering the dirt and packing it down.  A good foundation is required otherwise the road will fall apart.  The Bible says that Jesus is that firm foundation

Drive.  Out on the open road of forgiveness and freedom is exhilarating!  Get in.  Buckle up.  Hold on.  Throw your head back and laugh with the Lord Jesus today!

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?

 

We’ll See

In Chrisian Life, Commitment, Faith on July 1, 2013 at 9:35 am

He came in quickly asking about the latest movie that all his friends had seen.  “Can we see it?”, he anxiously asked.  His eyes had that look of desperation.  You could tell that this was something that had been discussed among everyone.  The pleading and begging started.  Dad answered, “We’ll see.”

She had just run in from a girl’s night and asked if she could get her belly button pierced.  The thought crossed her Mom’s mind that at least that wasn’t a nose ring or something worse and responded, “We’ll see.”

I find myself using that statement often these days!  With two kids, I am getting a lot of questions that get answered in the same way!  Though they might not believe it that statement does not always mean “No.”  Sometimes it does.  However, many times it depends on the attitude received and actions seen over the next few hours that determines the final outcome.  My wife and I have taken the position on extra-curricular activities that we wait to see if the topic is brought up more than once.  Our kids come home with notes nearly everyday.  Sifting through it all and examining the calendar gets difficult.  Each will run in and desire to do whatever the note is presenting.  Often we never hear of it again.  Our answer tends to be, “We’ll see.”  The more it comes up in conversation the more consideration it receives.  The final decision is not made because of nagging but what is in the best interest of them and fits within the scope and plan of our raising children in a culture set against Christ.

I am currently facing a particular challenge and am waiting on God.  I have done all that I can on my end but the answer has not come.  I have prayed.  I have cried.  I have begged.  I have pleaded.  There is no resolution yet.  It is as if God has said, “We’ll see.”

Has God ever given you that answer?

He believed in God, who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist. 18 He believed, hoping against hope, so that he became the father of many nations according to what had been spoken: So will your descendants be. 19 He considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about 100 years old) and also considered the deadness of Sarah’s womb, without weakening in the faith. 20 He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

Every day, every month, every year, Abraham would go to God and ask if it was time for the promise to be fulfilled.  God would say, “We’ll see.”  God knew when it would be the right time.  God had a plan and would not waver from that plan.  Abraham had to settle with waiting.

Are you waiting on God?  Have you begged for help? Or healing? Or a child?  Do you feel God has responded with “We’ll see.”?

Believe in God.  It all starts here.  Do we believe in the provision and power of Christ?  Do we believe that God can do all that He has promised?  Belief is not an automatic action.  We must choose to believe and often in the face of extreme challenges.  Abraham was getting old and Sarah was barren.  Your predicament is a calamity.  Your grief is deep.  Your unemployment is imminent.  Will you believe that God’s plan is best?  Will you believe that God’s power is certain?  Will you believe?

Do not waver.  The imagery Scripture gives here is like tall grass.  When grass is short it does not blow in the wind.  As time passes, the grass gets taller and will begin to blow with the wind.  As time passes on the needs of our lives it becomes easier to be like that tall grass.  We can blow with the winds of impatience, infidelity, and faulty instruction.  In these moments we must stand firm in the Word of God.  Stay focused on Scripture more than societal trends.  Talk to the Father more than Facebook.

Give glory to God.  Worship is a vital part of sticking with the plan and purpose of God.  Corporate and private worship is like finding water in a desert.  Waiting creates a parched spirituality unless we give thanks and glory regularly.

Attitude makes all the difference.  Will everything work out?  Yes.  Will it happen just like you desire?  We’ll see.

Which Dog Are You Going To Feed?

In Decisions, Direction on June 1, 2013 at 7:40 am

dogfoodBo lived out in the country and loved it. He would get up early every Summer morning grab his fishing pole and head to the creek. His mother wouldn’t see him until he got hungry which didn’t usually take to long. When he wasn’t jumping hay bales, he was burning ants, climbing trees, or going on some adventure with his dog Max

One morning he was putting out food for his dog when strange one stepped out from the shadows. Startled, Bo dropped the food and stepped back. He had not seen this dog before. By the look of him, he had not been fed for a while. Snarling and growling the two dogs lowered their heads, pinned their ears back and two stared at each other for what seemed like eternity. Bo left the food and walked away that day.

After a few days, the black dog warmed up to the new environment and did not growl as often. Bo was able to feed without problem. However the two dogs never did seem to get along no matter what Bo did. The black dog had a look in his eye that would scare Bo now and then. He named him Malus. The name just came to him.

Returning from an adventure with Max, he found Malus. Honestly, Bo wondered if Malus found him. He was not in the usual spot and was angry. His lips raised to show teeth. He bark was mean and loud and that terrified Bo. Max stiffened and prepared to attack. Bo brought some food out and the two quieted down. Unsure of what to make of it, Bo went in to eat.

Days turned to weeks and the heat of Summer kept rising. Bo discovered that Malus wasn’t that bad as long as Max wasn’t around. It seemed the two dogs would never become friends. Bo’s Dad came out one day and asked Bo a question.

“Which dog are you going to keep?”

Bo wanted them both. He like the adventures with both Max and Malus. He had started going out one day with Max and the next with Malus. The stories he would tell at school were going to be epic! He could never take them both. Now his Dad was asking him to choose. Choose? Why did he have to choose? Why couldn’t he continue with this plan? Why couldn’t he keep both? As he struggled with this question, he fell asleep. The next morning, he awoke as the sun filled his room. He threw on some clothes and went outside. Coming to the backside of the barn he heard something strange. The dogs were fighting again. Bo just did not understand why they couldn’t get along. He had to admit that he noticed both wanted his attention. Everyday he would come and pick one to go out for the day. How was he going to choose? Would he choose Max, the one who had loved him his whole life? Would he choose Malus, the strange new dog who had a mean streak? Would he choose Max, who had been his faithful friend? Would he choose Malus, who would try to pick a fight?

In each one us lies two dogs. You will either love the one and hate the other or serve the one and not the other. You cannot live with both. Like Bo, you must choose which dog you will feed. The Apostle Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia.

 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Which dog will you feed today?

Psalm 46

In Chrisian Life, Family, Grief, Parenting on May 23, 2013 at 11:01 am

2013-05-23_11-48-10_514

I felt like I had lost my son.

I sat in the home of a good friend when I received the text message telling me I was needed at home immediately.  My son had gone off the deep end.  For several weeks, he has dealt with severe abdominal pain for which we have no cure to this point.  We have been in and out of ER’s and doctor’s offices with plans and prognostications, but no pain relief.  Most days he sits on the floor in his room building with Lego’s to distract from the pain.  If  he lies down he hurts.  If he eats or doesn’t he hurts.  If does nothing or everything he hurts.  I have argued with doctors.  I have sat up overnight in the ER.  I have held his hand and hugged his neck.

His face was wrinkled up in a mixture of pain, emotion, and tears.  He yelled and screamed uncontrollably as the pain washed over him.  The ability to filter was gone.  Like a liver that is shutting down the toxicity rises.  His emotions are raw, laid open because of the pain.  His face withdrawn and the light in his eyes gone, he balled himself up as tight as possible.  His body seemed so small, wracked by the pain.

Have I lost the boy who laughed and played?  Have I lost the boy whom I could never fill with enough food?  Have I lost the one who was sweet, tender, kind, and strong? Have I lost the blue-eyed, blonde, light-up-a-room kid?

As I write this, I am reminded of Psalm 46.

1 God is our refuge and strength,a helper who is always found in times of trouble.
2 Therefore we will not be afraid,though the earth trembles
and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas,
3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil.

God is our refuge.  In Him we can place our trust.  In Him we can find safety and security.  I remember being chased as a child by some older boys.  I raced back on my bike as fast as I could.  Skidding into the front yard I was ecstatic to see Dad standing out there.  I dropped the bike and ran over behind him.  I sat down in his shadow and peeked around.  The other boys had stopped short of the yard.  Seeing my Dad, they decided it was not worth it.  I had found my refuge.  I can find refuge today in my Heavenly Father and so can you.  Whatever you are dealing with today, God can be your refuge.

God is our strength.  God bears our burdens.  He is strong when I am weak.  He is bold when I am fearful.  He is positive when I am hopeless.  As I  prepared to build a small deck behind the house, I researched what to do.  I found out that the ground work and foundation blocks were as critical as the deck planks themselves.  The blocks and beams were what held up the deck that everyone saw.  God is like those blocks and beams.  He bears the weight often in ways no one sees.  He is our blocks and beams so that our lives can shine with beauty and stability.

In true Psalmist fashion, I began with a pitiful position and will end in a praise posture.  Though our lives seem dark now I look to God’s creation and see that it is always darkest before the dawn.  God is able to do that which I cannot understand.  I run to Him as my refuge and strength.  Hope comes from those who trust in God!

My hope is in you Lord.  My strength is in you Lord.  Praise God!

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

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!

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