Sunday, May 21, 2017

April 21-27, 2017 Thought of the Week

Simple? Yes...Easy? No...

A very wise Christian man said, "There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.". Looking back onto Ronald Reagan's life,we can most certainly see that he not only taught this principle but he lived it. Ronald Reagan held one of the most powerful positions in the world as President of the United States. This position inevitably brings many pressures, yet through these Reagan exemplified taking the simple path.

What God requires of us is very hard, Jesus tells us that we must deny ourselves and take up our crosses following Him. This is by no means an easy task, it is a burden and we often slip and fall along the journey. What we must not forget is that it is a simple task. That is, we are to follow God's commandments in all we do. This requires knowledge: knowing and understanding the instruction of our Lord, and courage: willingness to put obedience to Christ above all other.

As we continue to devote our life to Christ and follow Him this week, let us be encouraged that we have a simple task before us. While it will be difficult and we will face temptations and sin, even this coming week, let us always come back to the simple instructions given us refocusing on Christ so we may continue to grow and glorify Him.

I hope this encourages you this week as you walk courageously!

Keep thinking, my friends!

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
Matthew 16:24-27(ESV)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Tribute to a Humble Life

HS Graduation day...moments after sharing a fist bump

Standing next to me in this photo is a man I lost 3 weeks ago today. For reasons that not I or anyone will likely ever know, Aaron chose to end his life on the first day of this year. I have intentionally not brought this into the public eye because I do not believe it belongs here to be dwelt upon out of respect for the family and friends of Aaron. Today, however, I feel compelled to share about with you not to dwell on his passing, but to celebrate his life well lived. In doing so, I will attempt to let you in on his life and give you a glimpse of his heart. I hope that you will take a minute of your time to read this through as maybe engaging with Aaron through this post will impact you in some way as his friendship to me impacted me in so many ways.

I vividly remember the first day I ever saw Aaron, we were both 10 years of age. We were at school orientation for our 6th grade year at Covenant Academy. Both of us having reserved personalities, we did not actually meet, but observed each other from a distance. What he observed of me I do not know for sure, but what I saw was a well-dressed young man standing by himself seeming to be a bit shy like myself. Someone who I was excited to have in school as my classmate, yet slightly “scared” to meet because he was new to me. Little did I know, however, that God had directed our paths to come together and not only cross, but merge for the next 8.5 years.

We did life together in many ways during those 8.5 years. We spent most of each day of the week together in the same room learning, we attended chess club together, we played football together, we had long conversations, we dueled each other in the weekly Bible quiz games at school, we were fellow employees, and maybe in that time we managed to have a few debates.

Aaron was a very humble man. Through all his life, I can without a doubt say this was his greatest and most consistent character quality. Because of his modesty and his desire to turn the spotlight from himself to others, many people do not know of all his other great qualities and talents. Aaron was extremely smart, one of the sharpest and most brilliant people I have had the honor to meet. He was quick witted. I remember we would often find ourselves hurling one liners at each other and I never remember having the last word. Unless, of course, that word was “touché” because he always had a better comeback. Aaron had a very good sense of humor, especially hidden around a lot of people, but if you got him in a small group of friends it was apt to manifest itself and keep others laughing. He was quite competitive in anything he attempted. He never took anything for granted as he was always ready and eager, with camera in hand, to capture moments and memories. Also, he loved to spend time with children, often having conversations with them and playing with them. He was very creative all the way from writing stories to making Lego videos to drawing to building with Legos to writing scripts to acting to voicing over etc.…he loved to create things of this nature. It is in these creations, that you can see those more hidden parts of his personality come out. He loved to serve others and share the gospel with them, being an ambassador for Christ both here and in Mexico. He spent many hours selflessly volunteering for local organizations as well. Aaron was very compassionate to all people. He was extremely hard working. Aaron, most importantly, loved God with all his heart and displayed his obedience to his Lord consistently. Finally, he was an amazing friend--always encouraging me and pushing me to be more like Christ. There is so much more that could be said about him, but this is what comes immediately to mind.

I truly loved Aaron, while I may never have explicitly said it to him, I hope he understood that from my actions. I miss him and am forever saddened that our paths separated so abruptly. At the same time, however, I am forever grateful and honored to have been friends with him while sharing lives. I am continuing in faith that he is with his Lord and Savior and that our paths will once again unite.

I hope that by reading this you gained something. I hope you now share a piece of the life of a great young man, that you were encouraged by the selfless nature of his life and that you will not take for granted your friendships—nothing in this life can be taken for granted but the sovereignty of the God of the Universe.

I would specially ask you to pray for Aaron’s family: his mother, father and brother. Also, please pray for his close friends many of which are struggling. Pray that they all would be able to lean on God for strength and grow closer to Him and His grace rather than away from Him towards the thoughts of death. Please pray that all who hear of Aaron’s life will be impacted by it and celebrate the living of it. Lastly, let your friends know how deeply appreciate them even today.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
James 3:13