Do you even care?

February 10, 2014 — Leave a comment

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SOAP = scripture, observation, application, and prayer. 

S = I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 2:19-21 ESV)

O = Paul talks about sending Timothy, someone he discipled, to them because of his differences from the norm. Paul says that Timothy will be concerned about their welfare instead of his own, because he seeks the will of Christ. I find it interesting in the last few thousand years that the vast majority of people, Christians included, are not adequately concerned with the welfare of others. I’m not saying we are bad people! But I am saying that most of us lack the compassion for others because we are too concerned with our own welfare. We need to be filled with compassion for those who are hurting. Think about the worst time you have ever had in your life, no subtract Jesus from that experience……that’s how they feel. 

A = Learn to be more involved with the concern of others and their welfare than you are interested in worrying about your own. God promises us that if we love him and are called according to his purpose that all things will turn out good (Romans 8.28 ESV). But people who are far from God don’t know this! Learn to be the light of Christ by being concerned about other people! 

P = God fill our hearts with compassion for those who are hurting around us! Help us trust in you concerning our own problems that all things will work out for good! Allow us to be like Timothy and honestly be concerned about the welfare of those around us. Thank you for your blessings. Amen.

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I am not a technology nazi (feel free to interject with your favorite Seinfeld Soup Nazi impersonation at this time). In fact, I love technology (feel free to interject with you favorite Napoleon Dynamite’s Skip impersonation). I promise this blog won’t continue with all these movie one-liner interjections. Hopefully! To be honest I am as “nerdy” as they come. To date I have watched all but one WWDC. If you don’t know what that means then there is still hope for you. If you are thinking about googling that right now through the multitask capability of your smart device then you better keep on reading because, my friend, you are worse than you believe. At times I think I suffer from a true case of separation anxiety if my iPhone, iPad, or Mac is not within reaching distance. I didn’t think it was that bad until my wife and I decided to start having “tech-no” Mondays. For one evening of the week our family takes a technology sabbatical. No phones (unless a picture was needed), no iPads, no computers, no TV unless it’s for a family movie, and no video games. No techno, hence the “tech-no” title. Sounds great right? Yeah well I found myself struggling more than I would like to admit. I found myself reaching for my pocket periodically every 15 minutes or so. What if someone was trying to contact me? What if someone was in trouble? What if someone needs some advice? What if I don’t respond to a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram conversation in a timely manner? And for the love of all humanity what if it took me more than 30 minutes to reply to a text? These were serious questions that I was contemplating.

Regretfully after some self critique I realized that almost every morning the first thing I had been doing was checking my phone for things I may have missed through the night. I would like to say the first thing I was doing was giving my wife a good morning kiss and then praying, but that would be a lie. I do pray and read frequently in the morning it just comes after I tap-in to see what the world of technology was up to. I also realized that almost every night I was having one last scroll through social media before calling it a day.

You’re probably thinking, “Wow. He is messed up!” All I can say is don’t go pointing out the iPhone in my eyes when you have a much larger screened 3rd generation, much better resolutioned, iPad in front of yours! (Feel free to interject with your own biblical reference to Matthew 7:3 ESV) Seriously, try going an entire evening with all internet and text message capable devices put away. Most people like me will be surprised to find the difficulty in this task.

It’s more of a problem than you think! Author Kevin DeYoung, who wrote the book CRAZY BUSY, says: “We are always engaged with our thumbs, but rarely engaged with our thoughts. We keep downloading information, but rarely get down into the depths of our hearts.” In other words we occupy much of our time thumb scrolling and browsing through the internet and all it’s social media and neglect the relationships around us and ourselves. Soul-searching, I used to hear that word and think it was only for devout Christians who had 15 or more years of experience and theologians. I have, despite what you might think, had moments of soul-searching. These moments have had one thing in common. Silence! They were moments where I took the time in the silence of my car to talk with God. Walks in the woods by myself and the almost extinct moments of silence in my home have produced these “soul-searching” moments. I must confess that technology has taken more of these moments than I can tally. Instead I found myself trying to affirm myself, my position, and even at times my character by the number of likes I received on a Facebook post, the response that a tweet received, or how admiration an Instagram post received. But that was just the first layer of what I found. I became aware that if I text someone I found myself expecting a reply within seconds. If I sent an email I was expecting a reply within a one or two hours, unless you were a close friend, then that time is cut in half. What?!!! I was more impatient with the people who were close to me than those who weren’t?!!!

I have come to the conclusion that my “sickness” should could be diagnosed as a case of Tech-no Affirmation! Is it curable you ask? Yes! But you have to be willing to not rely on technology for communication as much. You have to be willing to succumb to the fact that your families opinion of you matters more than your 800 friends on Facebook, because lets be honest you don’t even know who a big majority of them are. Don’t use social media for affirmation. “I don’t care anymore if my post only earns 3 likes, I have 3 people in my home who will like me with or without the approval of social media.” The last thing you have to be willing to do is have more patience. Give people time to respond. They have busy lives too. Just because they haven’t responded in 30 minutes does not mean there is something wrong with your relationship. It just means they are busy just like you. Here is a good antidote for Tech-no Affirmation: Calling is better than texting. Visiting is better than calling. Remember there is no substitute for dwelling with physical people in a physical place.

Join me and quit giving your family and God a social media-like relationship. Put your device down and spend time with them!

Aaron

Workout or Work out?

February 7, 2014 — Leave a comment

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SOAP = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer.

S : Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12, 13 ESV)

O : Paul encourages to not only be a light in the world in his presence but even more so in his absence. His very next words are: work out. I like to compare this “work out” to an actual gym workout. The ones that make you wish you were dead. I recently did a crossfit workout with a friend, by the end of the workout my push-ups went from being military worthy to almost eating concrete with every rep.

Those are the kind of workouts I believe Paul is referring to in his “work out”. There will be incredibly difficult decisions while following Christ. Decisions that have you in fear of losing a friendship, being called a hypocrite, and even decisions that make you question your calling. Decisions that make you fear and tremble. The battlegrounds to hash out this fear and trembling is many times found when no one else can see. I heard an author once write that you can see an individual go to church, you can see them serve in church, you can see them attend a small group, but you can’t see that individual spend alone time with God and that could be more important than all the other events put together.

A : Learn to utilize alone time with God. It’s easy to become motivated to do this by a good sermon or thought provoking book, but when motivation dies let discipline take its place. Learn to find comfort in asking other people whom you trust (close friends, pastors, elders, and leaders) who will dedicate time in prayer for you and your decisions.

P : God give me the discipline to serve you not only in the public eye but also during times I am alone. Help me gain and keep the desire to spend alone time with you to “work out” my salvation, my calling, and my decisions. Thank you for your blessings.

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SOAP = scripture, observation, application, and prayer.

S : Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Philippians 2:14-16 ESV)

O : Surely Paul didn’t mean “all” things right? That must be a misprint or bad translation! Unfortunately I have tried about every version of the bible that Youversion offers and they all say either “all things” or “in everything”. Things just got real! Let’s be honest we live in a culture where grumbling and disputing are second nature to us. Heck, most of the time it’s encouraged by those around us. But if we are going to believe in all of the beneficial scriptures about love, grace, and salvation then we have to believe in the scriptures like this as well. All or nothing baby! We don’t get the freedom to create our own meology from bible by picking and choosing the scriptures we want to follow and the ones we don’t want to follow.

In the middle of what Paul calls a “crooked and twisted” culture being abstinent from grumbling and disputing is a great way to set yourself apart. It’s easy to speak negative words in a negative world but it takes an individual who has come face to face with a life-changing love to speak positive words in negative world. This is accomplished by holding fast to the gospel and what it means for your life. Though you may be persecuted now……your reward is eternal.

A : Paul is adamant about not complaining because he believes that if a Christian is seen or heard grumbling and disputing it can take away from the works they have done, whether that work be by personal testimony, teaching, discipleship, etc. It is the classic one step forward and two steps back scenario. Make a decision today to not complain, to not speak negatively no matter what the situation is or who it involves. Speak life!

P : God help me be incredibly optimistic today. Help me take a step back and see that you are working for my good in “all things” instead of being negative toward most things. I want to do this because your Word directs it and I don’t want to see the seeds I have sewn by sharing your gospel wasted because of my bad attitude! Thank you for your blessings! Amen.

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Through life we make a series of chronological decisions. From the time we start to develop our independency until the day we fully lose it these decisions define us. They influence who we are, where we go, and what we do in life. They can influence that amount of successful moments and also our moments of failure. Those decisions when played out create a moment in time. And if you’re like every other person who has ever lived you remember those moments, especially the ones that end in failure! For some reason we are incredible historians when it comes to our own faults and failures. But this is a different kind of historian that you take on. This historian seems to have one job……..to remind. We constantly remind ourselves of the horrible moments that we made while at the same time we are placing them in a vault that is kept in the deepest, darkest corner of our hearts for no one else to ever know about.

Occasionally people try to confront and overcome these retched moments but cannot endure the shame that comes back with them. Others will try to run from them by moving from town to town or from person to person, essentially trying to create more moments that will mask the old ones. But the shame never seems to leave. Pete Wilson, author of “Let Hope In“, says, “Shame is the heart disease of every era. People are dying from it – some quickly, others slowly.” We constantly try to figure out what to do with this shame and the definition it brings to our lives. Shame tells us that we don’t fit we don’t belong, and we don’t deserve. And more importantly it convinces us that we don’t deserve to be deserved. But the truth is…….we never deserved to be deserved! In order to deserve something you must have value. But your value isn’t generated by you, it can’t be! The only reason we have value is because God gives it to us. But instead we try measuring our value by ratio of good moments to bad moments in our life. Shame is not produced by past events. Shame is produced by what we believe about those events. Quit believing those past moments are what gives you value! You are valued because He values you enough to take your shame upon himself for you!

Pastor Aaron

For more information on this topic please visit: faithfamilyworship.com

I recently had the privilege to speak to about 40 teenagers on a topic that many churches aren’t teaching to their youth. The series was called “money 101” and to be honest when I got the invitation I didn’t know how much I could explain about money to people who:

a.) probably don’t make any money because the don’t have jobs
b.) think money grows on trees
c.) is completely out of touch with the cost of living

After feeling sorry for myself for a while I decided to ask myself a question: “What could I have heard that would have helped me learn about money when I was their age?” Truthfully, I think anything could have helped me when I was that age. I didn’t know at the time but realized later in life that my dad was teaching me some lessons about money in a very ninja-like fashion. He would make comments that would sound something like this: “If you want it save up your money and buy it.” Thus teaching me the value of work and I would care for things more if I earned them. However, even with all of those “tuff love” lessons there were still some things that I wish someone would have told me.

I can remember in school when students would discuss their “dream” jobs and what they aspired to be. I never remember hearing people discuss how they wanted a mediocre paying job without a corporate ladder. I realized later that people weren’t talking about jobs that would bring them happiness, they were selecting the highest paid jobs that they hated the least. Why? Because teens believe that money brings happiness and success. And that is because the majority of adults believe the same thing.

So here goes nothing:

Relationships come before money! – I have seen to many parents try to provide for their children with things and opportunities that they themselves never had by working a lot…….all the while their family grew apart because relationships were not prioritized appropriately.

Do what you enjoy because you can be happy, successful, and retire well with even a low paying job! – Learning how to budget effectively and live within your means can create even a minimum wage worker a multimillionaire by retirement. Don’t believe me? Check out Dave Ramsey! That guy will rock your financial world upside down.

Jesus talked about money more than a lot of other topics because he knew how off track our lives could get if we pursued money instead of Him! The church should be teaching about it as well!

Pastor Aaron

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Here are 3 reasons why you need to attend Rekindle Conference 2013. 

1. Your marriage, no matter how good or bad, always has room for improvement. 

Rekindle is a conference for married couples who see the importance of investing in their marriage. Many couples make the mistake of waiting to work on their marriage until it is too late. Marriage should be viewed as the most important relationship you are in, apart from your relationship with God. So why shouldn’t you invest a little time and energy into the most important long-term relationship that you have?

2. The people around you are counting on your marriage to work. 

Like it or not there are people who are counting on your marriage to work. Whether those people are children, friends, or family, they need your relationship to succeed. Divorce does not only change your life but it also changes the lives of people around you and redefines their relationship to you. I heard someone once say that the most important thing you could do for your kids was to have a great marriage. 

3. Marriage should mimic Ephesians 5. 

In Ephesians 5 Paul writes how Christ depicts marriage. He compares marriage to Christ’s love for the church. We all know that churches at times can be filled with drama. I will even admit that churches make mistakes. There are people who have been hurt by and offended by the church. However, Christ continued to love the church so much that He forfeited His life for it. Marriage won’t always be perfect. People will get hurt but if you believe in following Christ then you must believe that we owe it to ourselves and our marriage to pursue improvement. 

Make your marriage a priority and rekindle the love, passion, and joy in your marriage. 

Rekindle 2013 Details

Date: August 23-24

Location: Double Tree Hotel and Conference Center in Chesterfield Missouri

Cost: $110 per couple

Registration