UNDER wear UNDER there Pt II

by Aaron

In putting the touches on part 2 of this blog about what does God sees when He looks at us, I want to focus on a bit on our heart. Remember part 1 of this blog started because our music leader, Shawn, wore shorts during a Sunday morning service and someone made a comment as to how it was disrespectful to God to wear shorts. I summerized last week by saying “Jesus said in John 7:24 “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” How much better our lives would be if we lived those words.”

But it is so hard for us to live those words when we think that WE are always right.

When God was appointing the next king of Israel Samuel, God’s prophet, overlooked David because he was not as impressive as his brothers (a feeling I know all too well). 1 Sam 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” God doesn’t see like we see; He sees further, farther, greater, and more completely than us. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

It seems scripture continues to come back to this idea of our hearts. Why?

  • The thoughts and attitudes of our hearts can judge others over stupid things.
  • The thoughts and attitudes of our hearts can live in un-forgiveness because we believe others owe us and feel completely vindicated living in our prison of anger.
  • The thoughts and attitudes of our hearts can lead us to think we are godly because we don’t wear shorts in church yet we treat others who do with contempt.

The thoughts and attitudes of our hearts is what God sees.

I guess the question really is: when He looks upon you, what does He truly see?

UNDER wear UNDER there Pt I

by Aaron

I have the whitest legs you have ever seen, they happen to be so white they actually look purple (under the right circumstances). I don’t often wear shorts because of my terminal whiteness, but when I do I feel so free. I have actually preached wearing shorts a couple times and the only complaint was my white legs.

Recently our music leader, Shawn, wore shorts during a Sunday morning service and someone made a comment as to how it was disrespectful to God to wear shorts. I really don’t understand why Shawn gets flak for shorts and I didn’t (I suppose it might be because you can actually SEE his legs).

This comment started me thinking, which is always a dangerous scenario, about what is disrespectful to God. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think God has a problem with shorts, sandals, or even bare feet. I look back to when God sought out Moses the first time and told him to TAKE OFF his sandals in His presence (Ex 3:5). I love that God commands bare feet in His presence.

Does a suit as opposed to T-shirt offer greater respect to our creator? Does a penny loafer offer a greater connection than a clog? Does a dress show greater harmony with the Spirit than a Tank Top?

Usually the only people who feel any different when we dress certain ways, is us. The measure of our faith, of our obedience, will not be found in our clothes but in our entire life. You could dress in a 1000$ suit or a 10$ T-shirt and be redeemed or lost…it is our faith in Christ, not in clothes, that saves us. Jesus said in John 7:24 “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” How much better our lives would be if we lived those words.

Know Your Weakness

by Aaron

Last Sunday, we talked about how God has gifted those who believe in order to further the gospel. He has given us natural talent and spiritual gifts. The problem humanity faces is, that our greatest strength, usually also leads to our greatest weakness and the largest area of temptation in our lives. Becoming the you God wants you to be means we must understand temptation.

James 1:13-14 “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.”

In Dealing with weaknesses:

  • Never do it alone - God designed us to live in community because we are stronger together.
  • Listen To God’s Spirit - When we are honest about temptation we usually have to shut the Holy Spirit up before giving in to the temptation.
  • Notice How Satisfied Your Soul Is - We become vulnerable to temptation when our souls are dissatisfied. If we do not find satisfaction in God, our hearts will look for it somewhere else.
  • Recognize what seems to block you - The most dangerous force in the world is not sickness or injury or bankruptcy... IT IS SIN. We do not get tempted by that which repulses us. Temptation starts close to home with the passions and desires that God wired into us and tries to pull them off course.


Professionals break people down into nine different types of people (I don't know why just nine, but I won't argue with that). Here is a list of those nine types of people including their strengths, weaknesses and examples of people in the bible.

PERFECTIONIST
Strengths: Lives with an internal standard of what is good, noble, and true.
Weakness: Can be arrogant when unredeemed. Has high standards that can lead to a secret, inner sense of inadequacy.
Example: The prophet Amos, who carried a plumb line to show Israel the standard God expected of society.

SERVER
Strengths: Lives out love in action. Has a natural others-centeredness that makes people feel cared for.
Weaknesses: Can use “giving” to manipulate others. Sometimes mistakes servanthood with fear or low esteem.
Example: Martha, who was busy serving while her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet.

Read more

How To Train Your Dra...(self)

by Aaron

There is a verse that is often misunderstood (much like sometimes a sermon given on Sunday morning can be misinterpreted). In context the entire verses read 1 Corinthian 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. Can you guess what verse gets misinterpreted?

Yep, Verse 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. But let’s back up and give you some context. What Paul is talking about here is in reference to what was known as the Isthmian games (these were precursors to the Olympic games which we are so familiar with). Athletes today go into training with hope of not necessarily getting a medal but of getting sponsored and making a living.

At the end of the Isthmian games the athletes who competed would stand before what was called the BEMA SEAT and be handed out their medals or crowns (these crowns were normally woven vines with flowers of some sort). Athletes would devote themselves to their sport, eat differently, exercise differently, sleep differently, all in an effort to get one of these crowns.

When Paul says I beat my body and make it my slave he is referring to strict training, not actual beating of his body (called self flagellation). What he means is that he does what he needs to so that He can grow in his relationship and understanding of God's call in life. He runs (or lives) in way that does not disqualify him from the crown (the prize). Devotion to Christ was so paramount to Paul that he was willing to restructure his entire life so that being a disciple of Jesus was first for him.

At the real Isthmian games, even if you had won a coveted crown, soon after the end of the games your crown would quickly fade and die. It is why Peter says in 1 Peter 5:4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. It's not that we do things so God loves us or to win our salvation, but faithfulness in discipleship brings God joy, and that should be motivation for us as His people.

For a while the word discipleship was used as a verb that meant to TEACH or TRAIN. It would be good if we saw it that way again, don't you think?

Dis - Mantle

by Aaron

I am still riding the wave of Eric's blog posts in regard to discipleship; it is actually one of the reasons I love Eric so much...the fact that He loves the ideal of discipleship as much as he does. So, today, can we just go on a little journey about discipleship?

When you hear the word DISCIPLE you probably think of the standard definition: a great Rock Band from Knoxville Tennessee...but alas this is not the only definition.

For the longest time the word meant a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; follower. Now this is a better definition that hits closer to home. In being disciples of Jesus that means we adhere to His teaching and follow in His footsteps. This takes time and study to see how He saw the world, how He treated people, and most importantly, how He grew in relationship to His Father. We could literally spend all of eternity unpacking what this means.

In John 17:3 Jesus is praying to the Father and even tells us that THIS is what eternal life actually means, "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." How different is that from most people's understanding of eternal life? KNOWING GOD.

The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:14-19 said For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, V19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. In verse 19 Paul says that we are to KNOW this love. It is more than an emotion, the love of God is something we as believers are called to "know".

The earliest variant of the English word "disciple" came from two words, dis "apart" AND capere "take"...TAKE APART. Why do we pursue discipleship? Because God will take us apart, rebuild and renew us, and make us into the Children, disciples, and people he wants us to be. Knowing Him, knowing His love, and walking in His truth.

The Piggy Back

by Aaron

I was inspired I tell you, INSPIRED. I, like so many of you, read Element's blog and had the privilege to read what Eric wrote (I also got to read his next one as well that you won't get to see for another week). His post relates to something that we at Element have been pouring our hearts over for awhile: Discipleship. So I thought I would piggy back on that thought.

Now, I know that we at Element can have fun (and I do believe that this is a very godly thing) but our lives cannot all be about recess on the playground. If they were we would never know how to do real life; math to balance bank accounts, reading and writing to communicate, history to know where we came from, and science to understand how it all works. This is the idea behind discipleship; it is how it all works, the meat for our bones, the food for our souls.

It's not that discipleship cannot be fun and enjoyable (though honestly, sometimes it is not because it is when Christ deals directly with all the junk in our souls), but it is where we truly grow deeper in becoming more like Christ.

The word disciple is used 258 times in the New testament alone, it must be important. Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." We see a few things here:

  • Making disciples is a process,
  • those disciples should be baptized,
  • and true disciples learn humble obedience to Jesus' words.

In Jesus' day it was a great honor to be able to be a disciple of a rabbi, in the next few months (and hopefully for as long as Element is in existence) you will hopefully get a better idea of the great privilege it is that Jesus called you to be His.

This Is It

by Aaron

We start our trek home today, but before we did we stopped at another orphanage and had the best time playing with some kids. It was one of those moments that made me a little sad to leave...because the people of Haiti have a spirit that will not quit.

We met a girl who came down to work with Gcom from Louisiana. She was in college when Hurricane Katrina hit. She went home and proceeded to spend the next 6 months just trying to find her parents. She made a comment about the Haitian people that they are so resilient. Six months after Katrina she said “New Orleans was sitting in rubble and people were devastated and didn’t know what to do; six months after the Earthquake in Haiti the people are looking at the their homes, salvaging what they can, and getting on with life as best they can.”

We will be letting you guys see the videos we are making for Gcomintl.com soon. Keep checking back on the blog and keep praying for the Haitian people.

As an update, Doctors Without Borders is trying to fly that little boy (I told you about yesterday) to the US for treatment (but it is 400.00 just to get him seen). His mother had 8 children and he is the only one who is still alive. Haiti’s infant mortality rate is 97.1 per 1000 births; in the US it is 6.5. His mom is in high spirits though and is thankful for all the team is doing for her son here. Keep him in your prayers.

Talk to you soon,
Aaron


Qu'est Ce Que C'est

by Aaron

Today was a tough day. It was really hot and really long. We left the place we are staying at @ 8am and didn’t get back until 6:30pm...and I am still thinking about the day. We did a whole lot of medical stuff in one of the tent cities. I am amazed at the lack of health care available to the people of Haiti.

One man showed up who had blood pressure of 250 over 170...and he was complaining of chest pain (well, of course). Julie, one of the nurses asked if he had medication of any sort, he said, “no, I cannot afford it.” Essentially it is a death sentence.

We have another little boy who showed up who has a growth on his neck. It has been there for the last 6 months and it is so big he can barely swallow. If we didn’t show up today who knows if he would have gotten help. We have picked his mom and him up and brought them back to our “house” and are contacting the local Doctors Without Borders to see if they can help him.

There is so much need here, but the interesting thing is that I don’t question God over it (as most Haitians don’t either). Jesus does things in a way that many times we do not understand...and I could totally see Him doing something greatly unexpected here. I got to pray for over 50 people today, most didn’t understand a word of what I said but I think they appreciated the idea that some white guy would come to their country with a group of people whose sole purpose was to glorify God by caring for those who need it most. "Qu'est Ce Que C'est" means' "what is that?" - well, it's the gospel (good news). The gospel goes forward by tangible acts of love...this good news is good news because those who love Christ BRING that good news.
Aaron


Getting The Job On

by Aaron

In case you didn’t know, the reason we went to Haiti was for the purpose of helping our friends at GCOMintl.com film a few video spots to showcase what they are doing in Haiti. When Garry was 18, God laid it upon his heart to start a ministry that could help all of those in Haiti that had lost hope. Today his organization leads trips to bring relief to Haiti. He eventually wants to start a school offering better education than the children of Haiti now receive. We are making a video and production packet for GCOM to send out to garner support for their mission in Haiti.

As we were filming the video it rained...and rained...and it is still raining. It has rained for the last 3 days. So, I played futbol (soccer) with my new friend Spryder.

And I chased chickens around the yard. Not much else to say as I have to start editing more video now...hope your Sunday was great and James did a good job. See you soon.
Aaron


TIH (This is Haiti)

by Aaron

It’s Aaron's birthday so he has been pretty much slacking the whole day, he wont even update the blog, pffsh. Actually, he has been working hard editing a video for the first group that was here.

A large group of 17 people arrived last night from all over the States. The group ranged from high school kids to nursing students, and all played their part serving today. The main project today was helping out a large tent city close to the airport. Being in a tent city is like being in a different world all together. It’s times like these that I wish I wasn’t white, I mean we just look so silly and disorganized, especially in groups.

We had food and medicine that we were giving to the people, little ones first. I fell in love with this kid named Sebastian, who was four. I never thought about adoption before now. My heart breaks seeing the needs of everyone. I want to give everybody all the things they ask for, but only Jesus can give them what Haiti truly needs.

TIH, stands for, “This is Haiti”. Which is the answer for a lot of crucial questions. For example, “Why are some people living behind the gated parks and others not?” Or, “When you order food, why is it a 20 minute ordeal where you have to talk to a minimum of 4 different people for a fried piece of goat?”...This is Haiti...

God is Sovereign and is in control of everything, I can’t pinpoint what exactly He is doing here, but He is moving. I can tell you this though, I will never complain about a phone call or when something arrives late again (I hope).

Bon Dyea Bon God is Good
Luke


Tap Tap Out

by Aaron

I know, it’s Haiti and you want to know what is going on...but...I almost died today and thought I would tell you a funny story.

These are the cars we ride around in while in Haiti; they are called Tap Taps because when you want a ride you make a tapping motion and they stop, pick you up, take you for a ride...and when you want to get out you tap tap on the window to get out.

The GCOMINTL.com (the people we are here with) simply rent a tap tap for the day...and you never know how good the tap tap will actually be. We were out today in our tap tap (I was sitting up front because I nearly puked yesterday in the back) when a freak storm unleashed rain so thick you couldn’t see.

At the same time I realize that our tap taps windshield wipers do not work the Tap Taps air brake fuse blows AND his regular brakes get so wet they don’t work. We are careening down a hill, unable to stop when our drivers cell phone rings...AND HE ANSWERS IT. I look over and say (in English, which no one understands), “This is so awesome, we could die any moment.”

This was the response I got.

BTW, here is Luke after we stopped and the driver put in a new fuse for his brakes.


Aaron


Tent and Cities

by Aaron

Today we went to one of the tent cities and passed out many of the gifts that you at Element gave to pass out. Some of the kids were orphans and some were with their families, living in the tent city.

Tent cities sprung up after the earthquake because not only were many homes destroyed but many more are unsafe to return to.

Over one million people in Haiti live in tent cities today (probably more like 1.5 million).

Tomorrow we will return to the orphanage and continue working Garry's support video...so he can eventually plant a school/orphanage to help all these kids.
Aaron

Safe and Almost Sound

by Aaron

Well, we made it. The weather hits you pretty hard as it is not only hot (113 in the day) but humid...that's a bad combination. I would think the people here would be in a worse mood because of the weather...but so far they are all pretty pleasant. Garry, the guy who runs the mission here, has friend who is cop and he got us through customs with out any charges (maybe that is why everyone is so nice).

Luke has gone over to orphanage while I am giving you the first update. We hope to start filming tomorrow and getting you some more pictures.

Thank you for praying for us.
Aaron

Getting Ready To Leave

by Aaron

We leave for our trip to Haiti next Tuesday and here is the place you can be kept up to date. Don't get angry if I have a gazillion typos because my wife won't be there to edit my posts. I leave you this picture of sandals and toothpaste because if you want to send something with us to Haiti, they are asking for shoes/sandals and toothbrushes and toothpaste for kids 4-14 years of age.

Sunday there will be a big box marked Haiti and you can put whatever you want to in there.

So, here is to Haiti...be posting soon.
Aaron

Busy

by Aaron

 

Have you ever found yourself so overwhelmed with meaningless things that you couldn’t finish all the things you had to do in a given day? Have you ever found your mind so cluttered with things to do that you essentially “overload” and don’t do anything at all? Have you ever found yourself spending massive amounts of time reading internet blogs and not actually doing your work while at WORK?

 

It is interesting that we call all these things being “busy.” I personally feel like I am “busy” all the time but can usually find a few moments to do something I want to do, such as writing a new blog, researching said blog, and then publishing said blog to the world wide web.

Read more

Celtic Evangelism Part 1

by Aaron

This may be a blog and it may not...either way it is up and you get to read it.
A little over a month ago I (Aaron) gave the guys on the board a copy of “The Celtic Way of Evangelism” by George Hunter. I then ask them a couple of questions which I thought would be helpful for you to see our thought processes. Hope you enjoy it...

Aaron

In chapter one we read that the Roman churches saw its job in missions as "Chritianizing and Civlizing." They essentially made the goal of Christianity barbarian propriety rather than Jesus. How can we keep from doing this at Element ourselves?

Read more

Bad Mood Days

by Aaron

I Woke up today on “the wrong side of the bed,” not literally as that means I would have rolled over my wife like an out of control steamroller driven by an angry cal-trans worker – BUT metaphorically. Days, like today, leave me a lot of time for introspection, but I realize I don’t like a lot of introspection because I don’t really enjoy much of what I see on the inside of myself so I don’t spend a lot of time doing it (if that makes sense).
As people our emotions are fickle like a junior high girl trying to figure who she thinks is cute or who her new best friend should be. Our emotions are triggered by what we read, what we dreamed about while we slept, what we watched on TV, and even by what we ate the night before and yet I find it interesting that so often people stay stupid stuff like, “follow your heart.” If your “heart” could simply be the regurgitated ramblings of the pizza you ate last night then it probably is not a very good guide.

Read more

First Impulse

by Aaron

Christmas is here with its lights, sounds, print ads, jolly men in red, angry shoppers, frustration, insecurity, debt, and hopefully some hope (yes I meant to use the same word twice). The “Black Friday” weekend is over and stores are happy but in trepidation that sales may not continue, Shoppers are going nuts for bargains but worry about their credit card bills, and those who haven’t shopped at all are sitting back worrying that there may not be anything left that anyone wants on their Christmas list.

How odd that a time that is meant to inspire and fill the world with hope has come to mean so little in retrospect. I am not even speaking of world changing events, I am simply referring to the difference that Christ came to make in our own hearts that should spill out into the world around us.

Read more

The Point

by Aaron

I know this will be a bizarre blog entry to me. One of my friends asked me a question, sent me a link to another blog, and asked if I could answer some questions. Here are my answers as maybe some other people could benefit as well.
Hey Aaron,
I've been having lots of questions lately. Lots. Lots of frustrations too. Not with Jesus, but how to live for him. I was planning on talking to you about this, except it's so hard to articulate...I've had lots of talks about it with my parents and friends at school. Today, I came across my friend Daniel's blog, and he wrote on pretty much exactly what I've been feeling for a while now. Could you read it and then offer some wisdom?

Read more

Challenging Orthodoxy

by Aaron

 

 

I finally watched the news this week and saw the most bizarre thing ever: a beauty contest not based on beauty but upon particular beliefs. If you haven’t seen the news it is really odd. Apparently the front runner for Miss USA believed marriage was between a man and a woman (exclusively). This set off a tirade against her from popular blogger Perez Hilton.

The debate at this point is not what you believe in regard to marriage but more how a belief can determine if you are qualified to win a beauty contest. It seems ridiculous that beauty contestants need to be politically savvy (because most don’t seem that smart) unless we understand what has actually started to happen...a new orthodoxy (right belief) is emerging into power in the world.
 

Read more