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Reconciliation or Retaliation?

"If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother (or sister) has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother (or sister); then come and offer your gift." - Matthew 5:23-24
I am a firm believer that one of the greatest indicators of our relationship with God is measured in how we relate to one another.  It seems only natural that the grace given to us freely by God should flow through us and be shared with all those we are in contact with.  This simple truth has helped me to see others as God sees them - beloved, sacred, and worthwhile.  Of course, I have my moments (I know, big surprise!) where I see someone as less than sacred, and less than "deserving" of the grace that I certainly deserve (an obvious sign that I need a double-dose of humble pie!).  The fact of the matter is that human relationships are complex, and sometimes downright dirty.  
Jesus knew what it w…

Church Leaders and Kitchen Nightmares

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I enjoy watching BBC America, especially Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.  In the program, chef Ramsay tries to help struggling food establishments regain their footing by challenging them to go beyond what they are currently doing to survive.  Oftentimes, the methods Ramsay suggests (and sometimes just implements without any warning) are radical (changing the decor, the menu, and even the restaurant name).  Of course, with such radical changes come some pretty heated discussions and a reluctance to change by some.  However, by the end of each episode there seems to be at least a glimmer of hope for the once-failing restaurant.  Although Ramsay's approach to making these changes is not necessarily what one would glean from reading a Christian leadership text, his methods do work for three reasons:

1. Ramsay has had experience with starting a new restaurant as well as times of working through struggling restaurants. 2. Ramsay is to the point and does not "beat around t…

More Bread, Please!

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As a pastor, I am completely blown away by my experiences with children in worship.  During the children's time (a time when I share a message with the children in the church during the worship hour), I have learned to simply allow whatever happens to take place as it may.  Sometimes the kids are distracted by talk of a video game or movie they just saw, or they are simply being children and wandering off subject as children (and some adults, like myself) do.  Even though they may veer off subject, what the children have to say and how they say it, is really quite important and I believe we adults need to listen more closely.


I am reminded of Jesus' words in Matthew 18:3-4 where he says that our faith should be that of a child's faith, for thus is the kingdom of heaven.  Even Jesus' words of caution to the religious leaders and disciples regarding our treatment of children points to the idea that children are vitally important in the kingdom of God (here and now).  


This…

Christian Healing - Part 1

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This is part one of a series I am working on, talking about healing and why it is important for the Christian community.  It is also my very first video blog post, so please offer your critique and encouragement.  Please join me in conversation about Christian Healing by posting your comments and discussion.

Peace,

Aaron

Relfections on My Seminary Experience

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Today marks an important point in my life as I finish up my final classes and have experienced my final chapel as a seminary student at Asbury Theological Seminary.  My emotions are a mixed bag of joyful anticipation and the challenge of transitioning back to "normal life".  I wonder in joyful anticipation of what God has in store for me as I will now be able to focus more of my energy upon the churches that I serve as well as being able to spend more quality time with my family.  At the same time, I will miss the community and fellowship that I have had the privilege to share with many great people from diverse walks of life while at Asbury.  With that said, it will be nice to re-acquire the 10+ hours a week that I have spent on driving back and forth from Blissfield to Wilmore every week for 3 years (the gas savings alone will be a nice change!)

I have decided to post the following experiences and thank-you's as I reflect on my time at Asbury and I hope that you may fin…

What's So Good About 'Good Friday'?

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It seems like an oxymoron, calling something 'good' when in fact it does not seem good at all.  That a man who committed no crime would be sentenced to death by means of one of the most painful and excruciating ways of torture and death, that is death on a cross.  But, there is so much more to the story as Sunday will certainly attest.  The death of this man, Jesus, will bring about the redemption of many through his suffering, death, and resurrection.

It is important that we do not simply gloss over Good Friday and indeed the entire Holy Week events and skip directly to Easter, even as we recognize the significance and impact of the resurrection itself.  But, how can the death of someone possibly be a good thing?

When it is the Son of God, the pure and spotless Lamb of God.

He is the One who has carried the weight of the sin of the world on his shoulders, enduring the wrath of God for our sake.
“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stri…

Meeting God at the Counter

Yesterday on my way to Wilmore, I participated in my weekly ritual of stopping along the way for a driving break and to grab some lunch.  Little did I know that I would learn something about being a disciple of Jesus.

Upon my entry into the restaurant I noticed a man sitting near the door with a look of need upon his face.  At the moment we made eye contact, I knew the question he was going to ask almost before he was to ask it, "do you have any money?" he said " My car ran out of gas and I need to get back on the road".  My immediate reply to him was that I do not give out money, but if he was hungry I could get him something to eat.  The man seemed thankful that I was offering to buy him lunch.  The events that had transpired up to this point were a repeat of events I have experienced several times, but what was to happen next taught me a lesson about what it means to be a follower of Christ.

When we approached the counter, I informed the cashier that the man ahead…

New Video Series - Rural Roots of the UMC

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If you are interested in some United Methodist History, check out these videos!  It is really exciting to see that the Church is recognizing the power and significance of the smaller church.  Let me know what you think!

Peace,
   Aaron

Anger Danger

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“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. ” (Matthew 15:18, ESV)


Nothing is more difficult to preach than a sermon that has brought conviction to the preacher.  Over the course of the seven-plus years that I have been preaching, I have experienced several "opportunities for growth" where the Holy Spirit has brought conviction upon my heart in the process of preparing and delivering a sermon.  I think this is good!  Especially given the fact that pastors are people too, we sin!  It is my prayer each and every time I deliver a sermon, that God's Word would be spoken through me and that I would have enough sense to get out of the way so that His Spirit can work through me.  This week is one of those instances where God is working heavily upon my heart as a pastor and more importantly, a follower of Christ.
In preparing for this Sunday's sermon on Matthew 5:21-37, God has brought a conviction upon my heart that I would like to sha…

Strengthen Your Marriage - Do The Dishes Together!

It is truly amazing to see how normal, everyday life events can be used to strengthen relationships.  This evening, my wife and I were cleaning up after supper, all the while having a conversation about our day.  About halfway through finishing the dishes (I was cleaning, and she was putting them away), I mentioned to Maria that "It seems we have some of the best conversations over dishes!" to which she laughingly agreed.

Of course, it is great and important to have time set aside to spend with one another, however that is not always easy to do (especially when you have young children who constantly clamor for your attention).  One option is to begin doing tasks with one another (such as doing the dishes) to increase communication and to gain greater appreciation for one another.  It may or may not be the deep conversation and relationship building you and your spouse are looking for, but it may be a great beginning.  Give it a try, use the everyday moments for relationship…