From Suits To Sandals

How Jesus Wrecked My American Dream

Month: July, 2012

Tell Me About Jesus

“Tell me about Jesus.” That is what I read on my screen this afternoon. A simple phrase coming from a friend who had reached a point that they wanted to know more. I stared at the Facebook message for 10 minutes….like some one had slapped me in the face out of no where. Eyes wide, jaw on the floor. “This evangelism thing is great in theory..but uh, here we go?” I thought.  My initial reaction, I admit, was not one of my finer moments…..”Uhhh what do you want to know? And is this genuine interest or are you mocking me?”

“Way to go Seaney…..nailed it” I thought sarcastically to my self. Here I am getting ready to go to school to become a missionary and pastor and I have no immediate answer. My whole future is going to be based off talking to people about this single statement….and they won’t always be wanting to hear it! This person is here, asking me! Giving me the opening! And wham….stage fright. Luckily a second slap came across the face. Jesus. He was like “Dude. I got this.” Thank God for that. I realized that I don’t have to dress up Jesus. I don’t have to sell Jesus. I think with the career I am in it becomes my knee jerk reaction to sell people on things. But the fact is by trying to change Jesus I will only inevitably make him worse. So I told her exactly why I hang out with Jesus, why I act clamorously foolish in public for him, why I can hardly post anything else on facebook these days. I basically said (edited to fit the blog of course):”Jesus is some one who loves you Sarah, and and not in a cheesy church song way but in a super real, passionate and change your life sort of way. He is at your doorstep begging to be let in. Arms wide open saying ‘You are perfect how you are, and I love you’.  I can also tell you that if you let him into your life and start following him you will be on one heck of a ride. He has such amazing plans for you; plans to change other peoples lives and show him self to so many people through you.”

She explained her fears were that she didn’t know if she could be the “right kind of Christian” and that it seemed like she’s been struggling with everything society keeps throwing at her. She even went as far as saying  “I feel like Jesus is the kind of person I want to know & aspire to be like. But I feel like what I’m seeing in society is religion is an exclusive club that has all these rules & if I don’t do as they say I’m not allowed in.” Sadly this is how many people feel. But I am going to share with you a secret that I shared with her. Jesus came to love everybody! And when I say everybody…I mean the conservative republicans who are pro life……AND the liberal democrats who are pro choice! He came to love Christians who struggle with porn addiction…….AND homosexuals! See the thing about Jesus is he doesn’t come with a rule book and he doesn’t discriminate! He comes with freedom! Freedom from shame, freedom from guilt, and embarrassment. Freedom from judgement. We are all broken and imperfect. But that is the power of Christ. That is what makes him above me and my agenda, its what makes him the name above all names. He is bigger than any disease but we need to remember that he is bigger than any sin too!

However this relationship comes at a price. It also frees you from worry about praying for people in public, talking to people, taking genuine interest in a strangers life, and crying and hurting with people. See when you open your heart to Jesus he will come in and he will clean house. He will get rid of the dirt and filth and open up room for his love, but very quickly that love will be overflowing, and flowing out into the world. You will want to throw your doors open and let any one in and let them stay! You will want to love on the unloveable and society will reject you for it. But its ok because when you come to a point that you can survive with Jesus as your only friend you will find he will give you many more friends in your life to support you. People who are cheering you on as you fight the good fight, and fighting along side you. He will also give you friends who don’t agree with you, and you will be able to love them and help shift their views and help them see that Jesus isn’t a rule book too, and you will be able to share that same love and will erase any misconceptions.  He is cool like that.

So that is a longer version of the Jesus I told Sarah about. I didn’t do anything, God led the conversation and opened the doors. I am thankful that I was his vessel but to his name be the glory! I’m so happy and overwhelmed with joy to say that we prayed a prayer of salvation together (social media ministry at it’s finest!) and she is now apart of this amazing family in Christ! This is the Jesus I know. This is the Jesus that talks to me and fills me with joy on a daily basis. So today I ask for two things:

1. If you are a non believer reading this and you have more questions find some one who is a believer and start asking questions. Start digging. Find your answers. If you want me to be that person that is great. E-Mail, facebook, or text me. I would be happy to share what I know, as little as that is. If you are a non believer and just read this and you feel God pulling on your heart and you know this is it, that you want a relationship with Jesus, and you want to be filled with that love then don’t wait. Just pray this simple prayer: “Jesus, I know I am a sinner, I know that I am broken and imperfect, but I ask you into my heart, and into my life to make me whole. I desire a relationship with you, to know you, intimately and deeply. I ask that you show your glory and love to me and stay with me, guiding my life every step of the way forever and ever. Amen”

2. If you are a believer than please A. Pray for the non believers that you know, and make sure you are loving them and just being real with them. God will open the door to share Jesus. I promise. There is no need to run around the streets with a sign warning people of hell. Seriously. B. Please comment below and “Tell me about Jesus.” You never know. Your testimony might just be the thing that brings someone to Christ.

The Thing About Grace

Thursday night I had the pleasure of seeing the Dark Knight Rises at midnight with Rob. It was a fantastic experience and when I got home I happily wrote my review. It wasn’t until 4:30 AM that I heard what happened in Aurora. After reading the news stories in shock I started praying. Yet something was stirring deep in my spirit, God was really laying it on my heart to have Brittany pray for some reason, I took note and not wanting to wake her up went up stairs to go to bed with the plan of having her pray when I got up. Well as soon as I walk into the room Britt very alert asked “Well…how was the movie?”. Starteled I said “Good…but since your up…” Because God’s plans are bigger than my plans. So my awesome wife obviously dove right in and started praying for the victims, and the families, and just every one involved in Aurora. My heart was heavy for them and I knew God’s heart was breaking for them too. While the shootings were incredibly tragic I found my self more sad, than any other emotion, sad for the families, sad for the victims, and honestly sad for the person who could have had such a broken life, and a broken soul that they were able to do something like this. It wasn’t until Saturday that my emotions went from sad, to very very angry.

Anger came from reading an article about how Westboro Baptist Church was planning to picket the memorial service in Aurora on Sunday. The article pulled several “Tweets” from members of the church and the more I read the more I was filled with rage….I wanted to do something, I wanted to go down there and argue, and yell, get angry and honestly…..fight. Funny how the enemy exploits those little moments. Looking for every window of opportunity. It took a lot of deep breathes and a talk with my good friend Lance but finally after calming down, I could do the only thing that makes sense to me these days. I turned to God. Through praying over the last several days (because sometimes it isn’t a single prayer quick fix) God has really started showing me how he has grace and mercy for the people of Westboro. In fact God started speaking to me quite clearly about this situation. For me during prayer, as I have stated in previous blogs, there usually comes a vision when I am asking God for guidance, this time it was very verbal.

God was basically saying “do you get to decide who deserves grace? Did I not give you grace and love in the times you needed it most? If you show anger towards these people are you any different? Show them my love not your hate.” Message received! Loud and clear God! Who am I to talk about who is right and who is wrong, instead I need to be exactly what God has called me to be, an out pour of Love and Grace. So that is what I am hoping for. To continue to love people…no matter who they are. Continue to show grace…no matter what they’ve done. With this comes a simple request.

I am asking that if you read this post wherever you are you would pray for 3 things.

1. The victims and their families: They are still the top priority. What happened was awful and we need to be praying not only for healing but that God will show up in their lives and comfort them. Let us pray that they have the knowledge to understand that God gave man free will and that free will is not always used for his purpose or glory, but that he is still the almighty of love, grace, and above all in moments like these….HOPE.

2. Westboro baptist church: I think the whole nation needs to pray for this Church. I want to see God’s out pouring of love all over those people so that they understand who God is and what he is about. I would pray that they will be so overcome with that love that they start repairing bridges they burned, and start healing wounds that they themselves caused. I would also pray that any wounds opened up through their actions on their end would also be healed, so that God’s glory can truly start to shine through.

3. This one is really hard for me to type…and my stomach turns as the words come out. Pray for the shooter. As I said earlier in this blog we don’t get to choose who deserves grace. It is time I start practicing what I preach, and I believe this man needs to know God. I don’t know what got him to the dark place he was at, but I pray God will show his light. The number 1 comment I hear is “I hope that guy gets what he deserves.” I pray that you and I don’t get what we deserve…so I can’t pray for anything else for him.

I may have lost some readers on this one. I’m sorry if you are hurt or offended by it. That is not my intention. But I did say this was a place to come and discuss things so if you absolutely disagree that is ok. Please let me know in the comments below. I will ask one thing though….keep it respectful, hateful comments won’t be approved and will not show up here. I am all for healthy discussion as long as that’s what it is. Also if you wish to leave prayers for any of the above 3 in the comments that would be really great. I believe if we can band together and pray as a body of Christ we would have a much larger impact and it opens it up to see what God is leading others to pray for.

Fake it till you make it……the lies we tell.

“We all wear masks.” The awesome line from Jim Carrey’s “The Mask”…..You know…the one from the 90’s about the guy who has a magic mask….not the one from the 70’s that is really depressing and stars Cher. While the overall premise of the movie is silly the title of that fictional psychology book rings completely true. Every day in our lives we show some one a different side of us. We act different at work, at home, and for my fellow church go-ers out there nothing is more evident than when we walk into that building and start hiding who we are. We start duct taping the broken pieces praying to God that no one will notice the reflective surface as we find our seats. Most of the time I think we get away with it too….why? Because every one else is so busy trying to keep there own mask on!

Tonight at church is a perfect example of this. During praise and worship tonight I wasn’t feeling it. I mean I love praise and worship. Bring it on! I love pressing in closer to God and feeling his presences but tonight…..nothing. Well this bothers me a lot. But not wanting to show it I thrust my hands up into the air anyways. Singing the words in an unconvincing echo. So I tell myself this little white lie: “just fake it till you make it”. The problem with that is I knew I would never make it. Sure I could have gone through every motion tonight but it wouldn’t have mattered. Heck, even one of Pastor Johnathan’s best sermons ever didn’t wake me up! So there I stood….mask held tight. Well tonight we had this awesome time of healing prayer and so to make sure I was “going through the motions” I went up and laid hands on my good friend Greg who has been having horrific back problems. And I started praying for him….and I am really glad other people were praying for him too because I felt like I was tossing my words into a ceiling fan: up and right back down. Well people started to leave and head back to their seats but I just stood there praying for God to heal Greg’s back. But God knew that I wasn’t there for Greg….he knew Greg was there for me.

We finish praying and right before I leave Greg says “Hey man, can I pray for you?” and it wasn’t a general question….it was genuine concern….he knew something was up….my mask was fading. So sure enough I tell him everything I am going through, about my distractions, about my faking it, about feeling like I don’t have genuine faith tonight, and that led to a whole bunch of other lies the enemy had been putting in my head. Lies like “you’re not good enough for school….people will see through you….they will eventually get to know the real you.” And all this other B.S. (Which stands for Bullheaded stupidity) that was coming up.

So we prayed. But while we were praying something else happened. See Greg has this amazing gift of spoken and musical prophecy, so he started prophesying over me. Telling me that God was pouring out his love over me, and then said something that stirred my soul. Reached down so deep within me I knew it was no longer Greg talking. He said “Aaron I love you so much, and you don’t have to fake it with me, you don’t have to pretend anymore. Not just with me either. You don’t have to pretend with others anymore. You are my child and you are so loved how you are”

Yep…I cried. All these lies left me and this incredible sense of freedom came over me. Just this huge weight lifted. It was incredible and suddenly I had this vision (I tend to have these in intense times of worship or prayer) It was this giant cobra being buried in sand. I knew it was God literally defeating the enemy within me. But then I knew I needed to write this blog. And share this with all 6 of you! (I think I am up to 6 or so readers….awesome!) I knew that someone needed to hear this and have hope.

So I pray over you right now…whoever and where ever you are. That this blog would bless you, and that you would understand it comes from God and he is telling you to take off your mask! He loves you how he made you! He is the ultimate Dad! He showers you with praise and with love! Wants to be with you exactly where you are and hold you and tell you how wonderful you are to Him!

God bless you! Sorry all of these keep being so long…..someday they may shorten up…..someday.

So in the last blog I said I wanted to start a discussion. What lies are you dealing with? What can I pray for/over you?

The Waiting Game

I’ve never been a very patient person (Insert a dozen smart comments from my family here.). I am a total instant gratification person. Which means,  if I want something I typically don’t stop until I get it. This is all so the reason our Christmas tree goes up a week or two before Thanksgiving. This has placed challenges in my life and it is something I am working on. With God’s help though he places me in certain situations where I am forced to be patient. I’ll be honest, it sucks, but every time I seem to grow in patience. The first time I can recall it being a huge challenge was our wedding. Britt and I were engaged for 1 year and 11 months. The first year and 6 months or so were fine. it was the last 4 or 5 that was brutal. Then came our son, 9 months of waiting to meet this little blessing we created and in God’s infinite sense of humor he shows up a week late. Those 7 days felt like a whole new 9 months. Every day dragging on forever, trying to be distracted by work but sneaking off to check my phone every 8 seconds just in case I missed the buzz of the ring in my pocket. It was pure torture, of course he eventually came and my patience is tested every day by new challenges and adventures with Urijah. Like teaching what he can and can’t play with. But the point is this, the beginning of the wait doesn’t seem so hard, it is the last couple months, few weeks, days before. Those are the hard ones. Those are the ones I feel like I won’t survive…..that was over dramatic.

While this new waiting game doesn’t trump either of those instances mentioned above it is proving quite difficult to wait on September to get here so I can dive into school. I meet with Greg Brown (the director of the school) on a weekly basis but every weekend during church God is stirring something up in me more and more. This feeling of anticipation is growing and I can’t wait to see what happens in school. God is about to light up this whole region with his glory and I can’t help but feel like school is going to be the front lines. It is so awesome that I am just bursting at the seams with excitement (Do humans have seams?), and I find my patience being tested and stretched once again. And weekly it is getting harder.

However while it is all fun and good to say I come out of these moments of forced patience better and stronger, God is continually showing me its about what I do in the times of waiting. How do I not just let anticipation grow until it gets here, but what I am doing to prepare my spirit for school? What am I doing to prepare my mind? So over the next two months (it’s more like 1 month and 28 days but who’s counting?), I will be increasing my quiet time, increasing my daily scripture readings, I will be writing more (fingers crossed), I will be fasting once a week, and I will just over all be trying to press closer and closer to God in preparation.

God calls us to create the kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven. That is a pretty tall order and it’s why I chose Resurrection School of Ministry. School is going to be less about theology and more about bringing the kingdom down. It is going to be about going out and actually ministering to people, loving them, praying with them, serving them and building relationships with them. I also know that while that sounds like rainbows and bunny rabbits there are going to be intense moments. You see when you say you want to love people and serve them that can mean crying with them, listening to their stories no matter how hard, and really feeling what they feel. Having your heart break with them. And these are things I believe God is preparing me for, because I might not be ready yet. I have accepted that and through that revelation I feel like I might actually win the waiting game.

Note: When I mention the things above that I will be doing over the next couple of months it is not me trying to show you how holy I am or anything like that, but for the 3 of you who read this blog it is to help with accountability. I believe accountability is incredibly important within a community and plays a vital role in the church.

So my desire is to make this place fun and interactive. Hearing your thoughts and ideas. So in the spirit of that; what is the hardest thing you have ever had to wait for? Leave your answer in the comments below!

The Birth of the Blog.

Let me start by saying that I am fully aware that my last blog failed miserably. The problem with that blog is I didn’t know how to be a dad yet….so how in the world could I write about that?!? However, this blog will focus on an even more exciting aspect of my life….loving Jesus and the larger calling of sharing that love with the world. This is something I am afraid I have not done a good job of the last 3 or so years. If you were a victim of this, I am really sorry, and I can only pray for your forgiveness. See the issue was I didn’t want to be associated with the “judgmental” Christians, the bible beaters, and the hell fire and brimstone type. That’s still not who I want to be, but I realized by trying to distance my self from that image, I was distancing my self from the church as a whole, and therefore distancing myself from Christ. The irony in this was that I was then judging the judging Christians (cause that makes it right?). Luckily there was a church in Greeley called Waypoints, and it was the only thing keeping me truly grounded in my faith and when I let my pride take me from that amazing group of people well…..the enemy started to win.

I want people to like me. Good or bad it’s who I am. And I think I started believing that was more important than my relationship with God. Thankfully God started to show me that in taking away the biggest part of who I am I was no longer someone I wanted to be around. This affected my life in so many ways. My typical sarcasm turned from “haha that’s funny” to walking the line of “personal and mean”. I cared more about political issues and being right on Facebook debates than I was with creating strong relationships with people. And lastly I was more concerned with moving up the corporate ladder and making money than I was with Jesus’ greatest command….loving people. Drowning in a mix of self pity and guilt I knew I needed a fresh start.

That fresh start came with Brittany saying we should check out Resurrection Fellowship (Or Rez as we so lovingly call it) at the beginning of January. She had been going to a woman’s bible study with her grandmother Judy every Tuesday and really wanted to see a weekend service. This invite however; came with a warning: “Honey,” looking very earnestly at me “these people are….different. They jump, and dance, and shout, and people kind of…run up and down the isles.” This didn’t scare me because when I first started going back to church in High School, I went to Bethel Assemblies of God in Burlington….it was known as the crazy church….for a reason. It wasn’t out of the norm for people to speak in tounges, and for people to fall over or be “slain in the spirit” during worship. It wasn’t weird to me then that worship could go on for an hour and a half and the pastor decide not to preach that day. I was one of them. I loved it. I was always on fire for God. However over the years I had let “Cool Aaron” take over and I couldn’t even bring my self to raise my hands during worship anymore (I don’t believe you have to raise your hands during worship to be a good Christian by the way. It was just I personally enjoyed the very charismatic style of worship in high school) Never the less I agreed to go to Resurrection Fellowship….turns out “Resurrection” is more than just a clever name.

Something happened to me during that first worship service. It started out with this feeling of judging the crazy people….that quickly faded to being jealousy, which then some how melded into an internal battle of the ages. Half of me arguing with my hands to stay down, and the other half keeping my heart from leaping out of my chest. God had re-ignited me. In a single moment he had grabbed my heart pulled me close and whispered “I’m still here…I never left”. I knew this was the start of a whole new journey and life was about to change.

We started attending every weekend, a feat we hadn’t accomplished in well over two years, since leaving Waypoints, and we couldn’t get enough. God was speaking to both of us, and we realized that while our marriage wasn’t in trouble at all, we had lost our corner stone. With that back in place our relationship took on a new perspective. We mended relationships I thought to be gone forever, and last but not least God said to me one night during worship “I’m still here, I never left…..and now it’s time to go into ministry”. For those who don’t know I originally attended Colorado Christian University for the purpose of Youth Ministry. Since I was 16 I felt a very strong calling to go into ministry but I just kept putting it off. Excuse after excuse. Well here was God telling me it was all to his timing. So I immediately  started looking for schools.

First stop was Denver Seminary. It is fun to blindly run after God’s calling with absolutely no thoughts of reality, or life, or obligations, or those other silly little things like a mortgage. This kind of fantasy land where the mail only delivers money, not bills. But eventually you stop and say “so how realistic is this?”. Well for Denver seminary the realistic scale tipped from “realistic” to “Lord of the Rings” very quickly. It seemed like pure fantasy. Denver Sem was going to cost me $58,000. It was going to take 3 years, if I didn’t work and only went to school, and, it was going to be a commute. Basically a wall of fears started to build up. But there was God. “I’m still here, I never left….I got this”. Looking back I think he was actually laughing that I was even looking at schools.

The thing with God though is that if you give him your list of fears instead of guarding it as your excuse not to do something you will find he will start checking them off. Sometimes that will come in the form of your worries being lifted and means being provided for you to pursue that particular path, other times he shows you a path you didn’t even know existed. Mine came in the form of the latter. After searching for a few weeks, and trying to work out the logistics in my head, Rez announced they would be starting a School of Ministry in the fall. Needless to say I almost fell out of my chair. (Commute: Check!). I called the church that Monday to set up a meeting with Pastor Jonathan to find out more about this school. After meeting with him, it turns out that I will be able to do the program in 3 years….while working 32 hours a week (check!), and the school is 1/10 the cost (check!). Top it off with the fact that it is exactly what I was looking for which is a very hands on approach of bringing the love of Christ to our Region. So I applied as soon as I could and I am very proud to say that I was accepted a couple of weeks ago.

People ask what the end goal is with school, and the answer is really where the title of this blog comes in. The end goal is to become missionaries. Britt and I want to start in Africa (God’s calling for her for over a decade now). And from there we want to leave our hearts open to God’s plan. It will be an exciting life full of adventure. So that is what this blog will be. It won’t be any deep insights on how you should live your life. It won’t be any rants on how right I am. It will simply be a chronology of our life over the next few years, the good, the bad, and the ugly. God’s plan is unfolding before us, he hasn’t shown us everything, just what he wants us to see. I just know one thing God has made clear….it involves shorts and sandals way more than it does suits and ties!