Saturday, December 17, 2016

Fruit Salad Pie? (the proper use of what you have)

The problem sometimes when you have several people buying groceries is that you get too much of one thing. Then you have to figure out what to do with them. For many this is where the freezer has come in handy, but some things just don't freeze well, like fruit.

I guess there is a way to prepare it for freezing, but I don’t know it and most of you I bet don’t either. Recently, due more to bad planning and the generosity of friends we ended up with a lot of fruit. Some of it, we are going to cut up and make a large fruit salad, the excess of apple I had another plan; a cobbler. If you don’t know what a cobbler is, at least my version, it’s like a pie but a lot bigger. This was going to fill a 9x13 baking pan. Once I was done, I had the cobbler and a deep dish apple pie. We had a lot of apples.

Once it was done the cobbler tasted great, there was only one problem: texture. Some of the apples were soft others were more crunchy. Mind you, it was good, and there was no way I was going to throw it out, but it wasn’t perfect. When I thought about it, I made what I could out of what I had and I was satisfied.

If I could throw together different apples why not throw all the different fruits into a pie? It would be making use of what we have, correct?

NO!

Fruit Salad Pie? I am not going to even begin to say how wrong that would be. A fruit bread, yes, but never a pie. Some things just won’t work together in making some things where they will in others. The conditions they have been prepared in changes everything.

This caused me to think about people. Sometimes especially in the church, we do what we can with whom we have. It sometimes you have the luxury of getting all the right people together. Sometimes, okay most of the time, it’s like my cobbler, it’s good but not perfect. Unfortunately, many churches are so set on cobbler that they put people and resources together that just doesn’t work. For a fruit salad, yes; cobbler or pie, no.
Does it mean that something is wrong? Yes and No.
No, there is nothing wrong with the people. They can be used of God and even with other individuals and resources.
Yes, it is wrong because some combinations don’t work. They may not be, bleach and ammonia (a deadly combination), but they end up creating something that is worthless.
Our problem in the church and even at work is we are determined to do something with people and resources that just won’t work. Afterward, we have wasted people’ time and our resources, and no one is helped. What is really scary is sometimes people congratulate themselves on producing the equivalent of mud pie then wonder why no one wants to eat it.
So what is the lesson here?

Be honest with yourself, be more concerned with the correct use of your people and resources rather than getting an individual product. For the church world, my arena, it means you might need to not have a youth program, a food pantry, a music program, or even a Sunday school class.  

If you’re more worried about getting a certain product no matter whom you have to do the work or what resources you have, then I hope you enjoy fruit salad pie.




Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Links to Books for Christmas

Sorry you missed the free giveaway, but here are the links to the kindle versions but remember their are print versions of the books available as well. Also The Bee in the Blackberry Bush is also available in Spanish and Lao in Amazon. 


December 14 and 15 these kindle books will be free: Children book, Book my struggle with forgiveness and a Discipleship book.


The Bee in the Blackberry Bush: Illustrated by Don Lee 
by Charles Areson et al. 
Link: http://a.co/7kjQhTv


Impossible to Forgive: What God can do when you can't. 
by C.S. Areson 
Link: http://a.co/gLA9bwj

Hungry for More!: Wesley-Style Band Meeting 
by C.S. Areson 
Link: http://a.co/6JWN87o

Monday, November 28, 2016

Be a real Scrooge this Christmas


I hope you enjoy this blog from my friend Garret Lee.  (I posted it last year but it deserves a repeat)

Be a real Scrooge this Christmas..
I agree with him... 

An Overplayed Carol
By Garrett A. Lee

Card players warn against “overplaying your hand.”  This is when you are dealt a strong hand, and, rather than settle for simply winning the round, you go for bonus points—only to end up losing the round after all.  What was a strong hand for normal play, was not strong enough for bonus play.  It was overplayed.
I suggest there is a tendency at Christmas to overplay a popular literary hand: Charles Dickens’ classic story, A Christmas Carol.  This cherished tale is so ingrained in American culture we overplay its message (even more than we over-play its myriad media adaptations).  The fear of “being a Scrooge” who doesn’t “keep Christmas,” drives us to distraction and obsession.
Keeping Christmas isn’t what it used to be, though.  We start sooner, wear out quicker, spend more, and enjoy less.  By the time Christmas Day arrives, many are ready to be done with it.  The celebration takes priority over the thing celebrated.  Expectations and obligations have grown “link by link, and yard by yard….It is a ponderous chain!”  We can become so bent on keeping Christmas we end up not having Christmas at all.
We have overplayed our hand.
Dickens dealt a very strong hand when he penned his “Ghostly little book.”  It was a time when many London industrialists and businessmen were taking oppressive advantage of the under classes.  Children, as well as adults, were forced to work twelve hours or more a day in unfit conditions and for meager wages.  Many employees were even denied Christmas Day as a holiday.  Dickens, a social activist, saw this as the ultimate exploitation of the poor. A Christmas Carol  was created to highlight these evils; and, of all his writings, none other have affected more social change.  The Christmas card trumped the business suit.  It was a very strong hand indeed.
Over the ensuing sixteen decades, we have overplayed its revered message.  Dickens’ message was that we really are to be our brothers’ keepers, not merely keepers of Christmas.  He used Christmas as a tool to affect the culture; we have let the culture affect Christmas.  Whatever the culture identifies as Christmas, we must keep—and keep up with—lest we be labeled a Scrooge.
As American society has grown wealthier and more materialistic, we have become more like Old Scrooge than we care to admit.  We see less and less reason to let a good holiday stand in the way of good commerce.  We have played Dickens’ hand so well, that Christmas has become a greater source of business than Old Ebenezer himself could ever have conceived.  To Scrooge, Christmas was an intrusion to commerce, but to the executive today it is the critical figure of the annual balance sheet.  The prize turkey was to Bob Cratchits’ family the ultimate Christmas gift; now Christmas itself is the ultimate golden goose.
At the beginning of the Carol, the miserly Scrooge berates Christmas as an unprofitable, costly waste.  Nephew Fred’s classic speech (which never makes it in its entirety into the movie adaptations) follows:

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited [economically], I dare say,” returned the nephew: “Christmas among the rest.  But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in all the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them  as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.  And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”   

Maybe it’s the Victorian English, the antiquated phrasing; or perhaps it’s just our short attention spans.  All we hear is, “Christmas is a good thing, even if it’s expensive.”  That’s good as far as it goes.  But Fred’s discourse also includes two primary reasons Christmas is good.  
First, Christmas is good “due to its sacred name [Christ] and origin [religious observance of His birth].”  This is assumed to such degree that Fred doubts it possible to separate any part of Christmas from it.  Yet Western culture has labored hard to do just that.  Though A Christmas Carol is a secular story, in the mid 1800s even a secular story could accept this religious basis, and even vague references to the Christ Child of Christmas would not be wasted on most readers.  Such reference today, however, is easily removed altogether and not missed.  In a morbid twist on the old adage, we throw out the Baby and keep the bathwater.
Secondly, Fred notes Christmas is good as the unsurpassed time of year when people care for others across all socioeconomic levels and collectively take notice of the needs of the less fortunate.  Traces of this still play out today.  Many still attempt to “make some slight provision for the poor and destitute.”  But it is often very slight and more often short-lived generosity.
If we are to stop overplaying this hand, we must become Scrooges all.
“Christmas a humbug!  You don’t mean that, I am sure?”  Not at all.  Most commonly overlooked when thinking of Scrooge is that A Christmas Carol is a story of redemption.  Scrooge repents!  The image of Scrooge we usually hold onto is the “clutching, grasping, wrenching, covetous old sinner.”  But by the end of the tale, remember, he is the model of keeping Christmas.  He sends a turkey to his employee.  He pledges an unspeakable amount for the poor.  He attends Christmas church service.  He accepted his nephew’s invitation to Christmas dinner.  He raises Bob’s salary.

“Scrooge was better than his word.  He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was a second father.  He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world….And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.”  

Repent the humbug, and be a real Scrooge this Christmas.  Downplay the tinsel and gold, and buy a scuttle of coal for a Cratchit near you.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Chase a lion? or do nothing?

This is a post from February 2014. It was good so I decided to share it again as I am wrapped up in NaNoWriMo.

Today I listened to a young man, Jacob Salem, from Olivet Nazarene University preach. I enjoyed it. What caught my attention was not the running leap from the podium, but the scripture he used. 

Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. (II Samuel 23:20, NIV)

I do not know if he has read the book "Chase the Lion" by Mark Batterson, (I haven't yet either) but wether he did or not the question both ask are basically the same:

Do you trust God enough to chase you dream, even if it looks crazy?

WELL?

Are you?

The sermon caused me to think back to all that surrounded the publishing of my first book, The Bee in the Blackberry Bush

When began to to chase this dream in July 2012, I set aside the facts:

I was no expert in writing
English was my worse subject growing up
I had no talent in art (I can not draw a strait line with a ruler)
I did not know any illustrators
I had no money to pay an illustrator
I had no money to pay an editor
I did not have a good name for the story
I did no have money to pay a publisher
I had no experience in book design 
I did not know any translators (this comes into play later)
I had no money to pay translators
I had no platform

In spite of that what has happened. 

The Bee in the Blackberry Bush is published in print in 3 languages, 2 in Kindle format. The title was give to me by Garrett Lee who also edited the book for me. Garrett's brother Don is an excellent illustrator and both brothers donated their services(This was Don's first published work, WOW he has a future, hire him). I learned how to self-publish for next to nothing. I learned how to design a book(this is harder than it looks). Two great people took up the challenge of translating the book into their own languages. Update: At this time I have published two more books and have helped other get their work published also. I know of at least 7 book which are in print because I helped encourage or actually formatted the books.





How did all of this happen? I chased the lion.

I can not promise this will happen for you but if you do nothing; nothing is what you will have.

UPDATE: Thanks to Mark Comb of http://www.dzindna.com there is a new cover for my book: http://a.co/9OLxUF2 



* I am not endorsing Mark Batterson and he is not endorsing this blog.
He has never heard of me, I'm sure.

Monday, November 14, 2016

When "Building" Christ's Kingdom is failure.

I wrote this at the beginning of 2015 and though my word for this year has changed the truth in this post is still true. I think 2017 I might take "building back as my word for the year." CSA

I have said my word for 2015 is “building.” I think about building the church, building my credibility and trust with the people of Tell City and of building relationships with people. 

However, before all of those, I need to build my relationship with Jesus. 

Oswald Chambers wrote, “The greatest competitor to Jesus is service for Him.”

This is a reminder that even though we may do work for God it is not to be our primary devotion. Our devotion has to be to Jesus Christ. 

I have seen a number of stories where a person gets caught up doing something for someone else. Then by get caught up doing that thing (whatever it is) and end up breaking the relationship they have with that very person. 

How many people have said, “I worked hard so you could have all of this.” 
Only to hear the other person say, “I did not want all of this. I only wanted you.”

Jesus does want us to work for him, but first he wants us to be in a committed relationship with Him. 

If we build the Kingdom but do not know the King then we are a failure in what Christianity is about; knowing Jesus.





Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost For His Highest. Uhrichsville:Ohio. Barbour Publishing with permission from Discovery House Publishers, 1935. January 18th entry. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

It's Tough Being Poor (Rich?)

Which is harder being rich or being broke(no money)?

Normally I would say poor. I was recently asked if I knew of an agency that could help someone with a specific need. I did know where they might be able to turn only to find out the agencies to help with that specific need were out of cash. 

I could honestly tell them there was nothing else I could do. My thought was immediately was if I was rich I would have been glad to help them. I dreamed of a moment of life after we have paid off all of what Dave Ramsey would call stupid tax. No, we wouldn’t be rich but funds to help someone I knew really needed help might be there. 

After a minute of regret, another thought came to my mind. What is someone came to me in need(not this person) and I had helped them once before and now they were in a mess again. Yes, I would have the money but now I have to struggle with the choice of maybe either enabling them, or causing them to look to me rather than to God to be their source. If I needed to say no then it would no longer be because I seriously didn’t have it, but I couldn’t do it in good conscious. Yes, I would do it, no matter what they might say, but then they might never look at me the same way or they might blame me. I would know I did what was right, but a friendship may be broken forever. 

Yes, its hard being broke. It's hard having to pass on chicken breast to buy legs and thighs because it will go farther. It's hard negotiation with hospitals and doctors to pay off the balance from the accident. It's hard sitting back in pain when you know you need to see a doctor but don’t want to take the money out of your families minuscule budget. It's hard seeing friends in need and knowing there is absolutely nothing you can do.

However, being rich is hard and I think it would be much harder. It's tough to stand by and do nothing because, in the long run, it is the right thing to do. Then again, struggling for the long game is always harder, that is why most people never do it.  


Saturday, November 5, 2016

David and Bathsheba, and the Dye Job



Recently I looked at some pictures my wife took and posted on Facebook. I was not at all pleased. First I thought I reminded that I needed to lose weight but since I am slowly trying to change my eating habits I grudgingly accepted the picture represented who I was. The other thing that bothered me was that most of my hair has gone white. 

Curious enough if it was all white I wouldn’t have had a problem with it. I usually dye my hair white at Christmas so I can play Santa Clause for the senior adults at the local nursing homes. It's fun and I don’t have to promise to bring any presents. However, my hair was (notice that word, was as it isn’t now) about 90% white with  my mustache being about 70% black. The distinguished salt and pepper were gone and now instead of looking like a distinguished 49 years old (which I am) I looked more like a regular 65-year-old. 

What could hurt I could spend a $1 at the Dollar Tree and add a little bit of distinguishment (yes that isn’t a word but it will work for today). I added the touch of black and my wife hated it.
So the next morning I took the little bit of color lightener that I had left over from Santa last year and tried to take it out. It worked, kinda. The result was a reddish dirty brown in most of my beard. This was worse. So it was either spend the money and buy more lightener and do it right or add the black back in for now.

You got it. I took the cheaper route.

I tried to add in the black dye to the place that was brown. Yes, it covered the brown but now my wife said it didn’t look right with the rest of the beard. So back to the bottle (of colorant, not liquor though some might think I was when they see me next). I colored my whole bread. 
It actually did not look too bad, other than the fact I didn’t recognize the guy looking back at me in the mirror. However, now my wife pointed out that the bread was a different color than the rest of my hair. There isn’t much but it bugged her. 

I got the razor to shave it all off and my wife reminded me that I grew the bread to be Santa. Then she said, “I don’t know why you messed with it in the first place.”

I resisted the urge to tell her that her pictures made me look old which would have made for a very bad day. Besides I knew the truth, vanity. 

Vanity is not a good thing actually its a sin. I am not saying we shouldn’t try to look good, we should look our best. This wasn’t that it was me not accepting who I was and being a little vain. 
Little vain? I had gone from adding a little bit of color to know dying all of my hair a different color. Everyone would know and there wasn’t a way to hide it. I had tried but every action just made it worse. Instead of accepting what I had done at first and doing what it took to make it right, I keep trying to take the easy way out. And now I don’t see myself in the mirror and everyone is going to have a little laugh at my expense.

Unfortunately, not all cover up jobs end with that little bit of cost. 

When we look at what happened when David tried to cover up his sin we see far worse actions and circumstances. 

David was supposed to be at war but he stayed home. He spotted a woman bathing and instead of stopping he went ahead and sent for her. Then came the news she was pregnant. The attempt to cover up the pregnancy by getting her husband to come home and sleep with her. That not working David sent her husband off to be killed in battle and married his wife. (2 Samuel 11-12)

Every step David took to cover up pulled him in deeper. Even after it was all done and David repented the consequences cost David three sons, several wives to being raped by a son in public no less, and nearly the loss of his kingdom. 

All of this because he tried to cover up his sin. I know most of us would say we would never go that far. Most of you won’t literally kill a person to hide something, but most aren’t above lying and cheating to do so. 

My story and David’s is a reminder that trying to cover up a sin or mistake will take you to places you don’t want to go. The first step to change is admitting the truth, not covering it up. This is true in our spiritual lives even more than it is true for addicts. We have to be willing to see ourselves for who we are and not try and hid it.  



Oh, and be kind. Don’t laugh when you see me or do, better to laugh than cry.

CSA

Friday, November 4, 2016

Does Adversity Reveal Who we Are?

Okay, I know I am supposed to be concentrating on NaNoWriMo but I was couldn't leave this alone. I wanted to comment on it. CSA

I don’t know who he is but Author Golden was reported to have said (twitter so take that for what it is) “Adversity...Tears Away from Us All but the Things That Cannot Be Torn, so That We See Ourselves as We Really Are."

I started to agree that this is true. Adversity can strip away everything but the things we truly hold to dearly. The problem with this is not everything we hold to dearly is really who we are or have anything to do with reality.

Case in point: In the show American Idol people try to win a recording contest by singing their way to the top. The problem is that some people face the adversity of the judges when they say things like, “You can’t sing” or “That was the worst performance I have ever heard in my life.” Some people begin to argue and tell these people who are professionals in their fields that they don’t know what they are talking about. They will begin to insult the very people they were trying to convince just moments before they deserved a chance at a recording contract.  

So where does this lead us?

I believe it takes us to the truth that adversity doesn’t reveal who we really are but does show us what we really believe and really hold on to. Unfortunately that may have nothing to do with the way things really are. 



Just to give credit where it is due, @JohnSparks is the guy who sent out the original tweet and he asked if we agreed. You see my answer but do you?

Monday, October 31, 2016

I was caught

There wasn't a plan in my mind to do this. It just wasn't a good idea. Then bang it happened. I was caught with no way out. How did this happen? I meant good and now this!

By now you are wondering what I am talking about. So I will keep you in suspense for only a moment longer. First some back story.

My youngest daughter has taken up the challenge of being a writer. She is almost done with her first book (by the time this is published it will be completed somewhere between 40-50k words), actually, it is the first book in a trilogy and it's a good story. I heard about National Novel Writing Month for youth and thought I would encourage her to join. This would spur her on to finish her second book. Sounded like a great plan.

Joe Blunting from the Write Practice was putting on a free webinar on preparing for NaNoWriMo. I convinced my daughter to join me and listen to it. She was interested but wanted me to ask a question so I posted "my 14-year-old daughter is watching with me and wants to know what happens if she writes her book and nothing happens to it?"

Wouldn't you know during the question and answer time he took on the question. Now Joe if by chance you do read this, you never did fully answer the question. However, your comment to her that is was a good endeavor made her more committed to take it on. But you couldn't quit there. You challenged me to join her on this quest. When she heard that I was doomed. She looked like the proverbial Cheshire cat and gave me a big hug and took off to do some writing. I was stuck wondering what had happened.

As I had said, I had already decided this was not going to be a good month for me to do this. For the sake of my daughter, I have taken the plunge. I have committed to NaNaWriMo as has she. So needless to say this weekly blog post will see some reruns for the rest of the month. Wish me luck and Joe (again if you're reading this) THANKS (I think? ;)  

So what is the lesson in all of this? There are times in our lives where helping others, especially our children. will take us places we didn't want to go. Don't draw back. Charge forward, let's be honest at my daughter's age if she saw me drawing back from a challenge she might never have the courage to try difficult things again. Here is the truth, we lead by example, period! Words can help but without example they are worthless. Now you have both my words and my example, in the words of Jesus, "Go thou and do likewise."


By the way, Joe has some great writing tools at his site: The Write Practice

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Carpenter Tales: Introduction

Just for fun, I thought I would put the rough draft of the introduction to a new book of short stories I am putting together. I hadn't seen these stories for years and to see them come together is very cool. It is a shame Wesley never saw it. Please tell me what you think.

Introduction

It is amazing what you can find when you go through decades-old files. Most of these files were in an old format which my computer couldn’t read so at first I didn't have a clue what may be inside them. It took some work and the right tech people to make them readable. Just to give you an idea what it took, here is one line from a fully recovered file: “[What he did notice was the star football player and honor sociC䡎䭉之 SYIDPH” 
 Some of these files were useless, which caused me to question the soundness of my mind, others were a reminder of a different time in my life, but the greatest find were old stories written by a young man whom I will call Wesley. 
As you can see from the sample, putting these stories back together was sometimes very difficult. I used what I remember of Wesley and tried my best to figure out what he meant when things weren’t clear. In the editing process, I resisted changing anything the editor didn’t say had to be different or had to be cut. 
I really believe, Wesley would have been happy to see his stories in print.   
I have to assume that Carpenter Tales is a work of fiction, though the way they were written it seems like they were real to Wesley, but who am I to judge. I know for a fact that the tree in the road which he talked about a lot is real. I have seen and touched it, myself. The tree in the road carries a lot of memories and I have even placed a picture of it in almost every book I have helped published. 
This being said, the first story in this book is different. It is real! I know for a fact that it is. I have changed the names of the characters and a few small details, but the core of the story is unaltered. I realize that Karl’s Story will sound too fantastic to be believed, but I assure you as frighteningly impossible as it seems, you will believe.


Charles S. Areson

Monday, October 24, 2016

Divorce: Glad or Sad?

In the last few days (before writing this post), I came across two posts on divorce that caused me to ponder it. The first was a post from someone who posted on the importance of marriage with a comment underneath that no one will like or share this because everyone has bought into the idea that divorce is okay. The second was the announcement The Divorce is finally done. 

When I saw the responses to the second post, I had to wonder if the first guy wasn’t right. There were a group of congratulations, about times, and even a veiled hint from someone to “give me a call.” If I remember the situation correctly the person had a valid scriptural reason for the divorce, but my concern were the responses. All of them were celebratory. No comments about “I am sorry you went through this,” or “I’m praying for you.” Yes, it might be a relief to no longer be connected with someone who has done horrible things, but at one time there was love and a commitment to be together forever so shouldn’t there be sadness?  

What really got me is that I did want to post, “I am sorry you had to go through this,” but I knew it would be as well received poorly (by others, I doubt the person who originally posted it would have been offended). 

The question I have to ask myself is how should I look at this? 

The Bible makes it clear that God didn’t want divorce. We wanted a virgin couple to get married and stay married. When it is done that way, and both parties act as God wants them to, marriage even in a fallen world is wonderful. The problem is, of course, people don’t do things God’s way and trouble ensues. Many times both parties are at some fault, and occasionally only one member is at fault (this is claimed more often than it is true and dismissed just as often as being false. It does take two to tango but we aren’t talking about dancing.) However, no matter the case there is pain in breaking apart what was intended to last forever. 

Looking at divorce as if it was cancer, we may be happy that someone is cancer free but we never say, “I am so glad you got the opportunity to have cancer” or “aren’t you glad you were able to have the joy of getting Chemotherapy.” We also never say, “Smoking gave you that cancer but I hope you don’t quit smoking,” or “That diabetic coma nearly killed you, but I hope you keep eating the same.” No we are glad the person survived but we hope they find out what caused the problem and they never have it again (explaining what this means when it comes to rebuilding a life after divorce is a post for another day) but to be clear we never want this for anyone, if we care about them. We should be sad but are we. Or to be more personal, Am I? For me, the answer is: “Yes, I am saddened.”


If your reading this you have to decide for yourself, I can’t do it for you. I believe though if more people thought of divorce as a sad thing than a glad thing, perhaps, there would be less of it. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Future? How do we get there?

The Future?

How do we get there?
What do we do?

By doing the right thing today. 
By learning from the past.
By changing our trajectory.
By choosing something different today. 
By choosing it day after day.
By getting up after falling.
By not staying down.

By choosing again and again to do the right.
By not worrying about everyone else.
By changing the only person we can.
By changing ourselves.

By allowing God to transform us. 
By Allowing God Lordship  every day.

Because he is after all the only one who can.
Because He truly is the only one who can transform. 

Because He is the only one who can take us to the future we need.

CS Areson

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Problem with a Catchy Title (and how it applies to Christians)



How many of you have clicked onto a blog that had a catchy title only to yawn when you finished reading it? (if you haven’t maybe you will now, I hope not but...)

I have read time after time about the importance of having a catchy title: The 10 Ways to  get Easy Wealth, The 3 Keys to Long Life, What You Never Say to Your ______(fill in the black: Kids, Wife, Boss, Reporters, Arresting Officer) the list goes on. However, most of these same people will tell you if the content doesn’t match up to the title you actually have a lose not a gain. Yes, you may have gathered the most clicks from Seattle  or Zambia, but you won’t get them again. 

So the secret is to first have good content then good title. 

Now for the spiritual application (this would be the time for atheist, agnostics, and hypocrites to click the back button)  

As believers and people of Faith, we need to try and make sure our content, our lives, is just as impressive as our titles: Redeemed, Children of God, Christian.

You aren’t just a sinner saved by grace and are free to stay there, you have been saved from your sin so you don’t have to live there. We can not use the excuse “No one is perfect” and refuse to let God change us. 

If you have made Jesus your LORD and Savior then allow him to begin to change you so that your title and your content match up. He can do it if you let him, but you have to be willing to let him. 

Is it easy? 

Yes, sometimes but often it isn’t. This is why Jesus told his disciples if we are going to follow him then we need “take up our cross” for us this might be like saying take along a lynching rope, or an electric chair. It was scary stuff, but Jesus didn’t mix words. He knew it wouldn’t be easy. If I could borrow a line from the Marines, “Do you have what it takes?”

Let me answer that question: YOU DO!

God gave us the Holy Spirit to help us. We have the strength, the problem are we willing to use it?

I encourage you, Make your title and content the same. Allow God to transform you, it will take time but its worth it.


CS Areson  

Monday, October 3, 2016

Love your Life...Finding Contentment

Love your Life... Finding Contentment
(a post inspired by Rachel Cruze)

I don’t know about you but I get a lot of emails that I just delete. I have signed up to hear from these people and I like then but I don’t have the time or I’m not in the mood to read their stuff.

Fortunately, this time, I did not just delete this email. It was from the people who do the Dave Ramsey show. They were offering a free group of devotionals from Rachel Cruze new book, Love Your Life, Not Theirs!. Wow, what a title and what a truth to live by.

It sparked inside of me the revelation that most people judge their happiness on comparison rather than on what they have. The Bible makes it very clear in 1 Timothy 6:6-10 we need to learn contentment. 

6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Ouch! There is nothing wrong with having riches (if they are used correctly, but that is another topic). The problem is when riches are what drive us or being a rich as someone else, be that riches in money, things, or even other people’s bodies. We need to find contentment where we are at because here is the truth: 

If you can’t find contentment where you are at then a change in situation won’t give it to you either.

As I prepare to end this post, I want to give a quote from Rachel Cruze

"The more we compare ourselves to others, the less we think of ourselves."
– Rachel Cruze

If you are interested in the book Love Your Life, Not Theirs! Here is the link: https://amzn.com/1937077977 

God Bless and find contentment where you are at. 


PS Just to let you know. At the time I am writing this I am broke until payday, I tore up my knee, my back is hurting also (really shouldn’t have missed that last step on the stairs yesterday) and I have peace and contentment. How? Contentment is a mindset, not a condition. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

You can mess up God's plan for your life



I recently read a post that said, “If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this. You, my beautiful friend, are not that powerful.”

I wanted to write back and say, "You, my beautiful friend, are that powerful."

This sounds great but unless you are a staunch 5 point Calvinist, you can not say this is true. Yes, I wish it was and no I am not diminishing God’s redemptive power to turn “all things together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). However, for one example, it is God’s will that no one would be lost, but again Jesus clearly says that many will be. 

Why? 

God gave us free will.

And if going to hell isn’t ruining God’s plan for your life then what is?

Like I mentioned before, God has promised to work things together for good, but not all things that happen to us are God’s will. God didn’t want a nurse to murder my grandmother, but he did want me to forgive and teach others to do so also. God didn’t want me to get myself tied up in debt so that I can’t do or give like I would if I wasn’t in debt. However, God does want me to learn from this and again encourage and teach other who might be in the same place.


God knows the beginning from the end and in some mysterious way for him everything is already established, but for me here and now, I do have to power to mess things up, not to a point that life is irredeemable if given to Jesus and that can give us hope. The truth that God can and will work all things together for the good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. 

Turn your life over to God he can redeem it. 

If you don't then it is ruined even if you're called successful by everyone around you.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Hospice for Sinners



I was talking to a friend about what a church is supposed to be and he threw out the line that many of us in the church have heard, “The church isn’t a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners.”

I understand that statement and mostly agree, but that is not what this post is about. This post is about something that came rolling out of my mouth that I did not expect. It was it was sad that Too many churches have gone from being a hospital for sinners to a hospice who give pain medication but doesn’t treat the sin in their lives.

The comment so struck me that I wrote it down. 

My friend commented, “That will be tweeted out later today.” 

It wasn’t I thought about it for a few days before I tweeted and made a few adjustments until I tweeted out: 

Too many churches have gone from being a hospital for sinners to a hospice that only medicates a sinner's guilt.” 

There are a lot of people out there who will criticize ministers who seem only to preach good news and positive messages but these messages are important for us as believers. The problem arises when the culture of a church goes from helping people find Christ and begin living a transformed life to a church where sin is downplayed and transformation is actually discouraged. 

There are churches who celebrate people staying in the same state as they have always been in. There is no call for a deeper walk or for becoming more like Christ. Most people will immediately think of the churches that no longer believe in sin and accept anyone as a Christian no matter their lifestyle. However, there are churches that preach against sin, or perhaps I should say certain sins, and ignore the ones going on in their midst. The inner city church that decries the wealth and indulgence of the suburb, yet ignores the sins that are trapping people in poverty. The church in the country that cries out against lazy people on welfare but tolerates gossip and selfish power plays.


These churches claim they are helping the sinners, but in truth, they are giving the people in the church the wrong medication. Their lack of looking inward causes them to feel healthy when they are actually dying. 

So what do you do?

As a pastor, my job is to allow the Spirit of God to reveal the needs of my congregation and preach to those concerns. No, not every message is or should be a chance to knock the people in line, but they should be relevant to where they live. The messages should not be directed at Washington, other churches, or the political parties. They need to be true to the people where they live.

If you're in church leadership, talk to your pastor or preaching staff and ask them. Why they preach the way they do.

If your just a member then pray. Don’t wait for the preacher to point out what you need to be dealing with in your life, ask God he knows exactly what is wrong in your life. You can also pray for your leadership. 

Finally, this post may seem to be pointing out at other people and in some way it is but it is also a reminder to me and to my church to help those who are in need where we are, don’t medicate the conscious of a sinner. Bring them to the place where God can transform them.  



Monday, September 12, 2016

Getting Knocked Down Is Proof You Were Standing!

Getting Knocked Down Is Proof You Were Standing!

Getting knocked down is just proof you were standing up in the first place. from Twitter by Jon Acuff

I could not help but laugh when I read this tweet from Jon Acuff. It is so obvious. If you are knocked down you had to be knocked down from somewhere. This being said there was a moment when you were standing up. (deep stuff here, right?)

I realize most of you are possibly wondering where I might be going here, but others may already see. Too often when we are down we feel like we have never done anything right. However, the fact that we were knocked down is PROOF that  we were at one point were standing and planning to move in the right direction. It means we haven’t always been down and hopeless. 

The fact that we were (maybe only in our minds) taking the first step to change our lives, to do what is right, or whatever it might have been says we can get there again. 

The question is do we have to courage to stand back up and try again. 

Solomon penned "For a righteous man(woman) may fall seven times And rise again."

Good people get knocked down all the time, yet they get back up. Maybe not always quickly, it may be a slow process, but they get back up. So can you.

Does it mean we aren’t scared? NO. 

Tough guy actor John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”


So let’s saddle up. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

#1 way to change your culture

The Number One Way to Change Your Culture

Steve Keating recently tweeted;
“The three most valuable brand names on earth Marlboro, Coca-Cola, and Budweiser, in that order.” (Steve Keating ‏@LeadToday  Aug 27)
When I read these words it caused me the think what does this say about us. We are the people which give these brands their value. You might want to argue but in truth, none of these (cigarettes, soda, or beer) add any real value to our physical bodies and very little nutritional value. In truth, usually these thing only add trouble if not death. 

I remember hearing Dave Ramsey say on his radio program that the average American has too much debt, spends more than they make, and does not live on a budget and yet we are surprised when our elected officials do the same thing. 

The truth is when we look around at the problems in our culture, the root of most if not all of it is that we are the problem. We want other people to change but we don’t want to. 

Yet, if we examine the teaching of Christ and the Bible, we see that God calls for us to be transformed before we try and change others. We want the rich or the lazy or the bigot to change first. We think we are okay or at least better than others and if they (Liberal, Conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, or whoever you pick) do better then and only then will life become better. The truth is that if we want the world to change we have to take the steps we need to and let God worry about other people.

The longer I live the more I realize it's not someone else that has to make the changes, I have too. If you want to change the culture the number one thing you have to do is to change yourself. 

Now you might say, then why are you writing this if it's you that needs to change? 

My answer is when I write, I write first for God and myself. At the end of the day even if no one reads this it is important that I write it, for me. If writing, even if not perfectly, is one of my gifts then I have to use it. What you do about this isn’t my problem it’s yours. What I do about these words is my problem and I am reminded that if I want the world to change, I have to change. Culture is formed by the thoughts and actions of its people, so if I want it changed, I have to change. 


After all when all is said and done. I am the only person I can control.   

Friday, September 2, 2016

The #1 Troublemaker (or Who is to Blame?)

Who is to Blame?



"God’s wrath is seen not so much in what he does, but in what he allows to happen.” Ben Witherington III

When I read this it reminded me of the old warning, "Be careful what you wish for, you might get it." The reason for this warning is there are strings attached to anything we want and not all of them are good. 

Many people talk about God's wrath hitting people or countries and others, on the other hand, who make fun of any idea of God's wrath falling in the world today. The truth is, that for most people the problems they face are because God has allowed them to get exactly what they wanted.

The reason I bring this up is for most people the problems they face are a result of actions they have taken in the past. I have a weight problem and though my genetics and body type are against me, it is my eating that keeps me overweight. My reason for sharing this is because we all have things in our life that we perpetuate by our own actions and then we want to blame God or someone else when we face the consequences.

Another example, I have credit card debt (that I am paying off). No one put a gun to my head and forced me to get a credit card, let alone use it.

So who is to blame? The credit card company? Congress? Those rich bankers? 

NO!

It is my fault. God let me have what I wanted and now I am paying for it. 

It is like building a home on a flood plane and then blaming God or the government for the flood. I doubt you were forced to live there and the danger of living there is the flood. Other people have different issues, however, we need to realize who is the person responsible.

God can help all of us, but unless we admit to being the problem, he can't. 

Finally, even if what has a has happened is in no way your fault, and there are times when it isn't, we are still responsible for how we respond. That, however, is a different discussion for another day. 

REMEMBER: There are things that happen that are not because of our actions, but for most of us there is only ourselves to blame. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

10 Ministry-building activities you can do in 10 minutes rather than trolling social media.

10 Ministry-building activities you can do in 10 minutes 
rather than trolling social media.


I was looking through social media just the other day and found a link to a blog about how we miss out on time to do business by trolling through social media (http://mikeloomis.co/2016/06/trolling/) . Ouch, it was exactly what I was doing. Yes, it was my day off but there were things I wanted to do but I was using social media to delay getting to them. 

I realized the danger is true for more than just me. I also realized that some, maybe a lot, of people in ministry are being consumed by the “ministry” of social media. I use the  word “ministry” loosely, because though some ministry can and does take place online (I have done some myself and will continue to do some), more often social media consumes volumes of our time and gives nothing in return. 

So what should we do if we find ourselves trolling? Mike Loomis suggestion was to take 20 minutes and focus on one of 20 activities that can help your business. I am going to say take 10 minutes to do one of these 10 things I have listed. I am sure you can find ten more minutes and ten more ideas, but I leave that to you. 

If you need a reminder print the list out and put it on your computer or smartphone.

10 MINISTRY BUILDING ACTIVITIES YOU CAN DO IN 10 MINUTES.

  1. PRAY   
Now I know you pray, but let's be honest do we pray enough (clearly not if you checked out that last worthless link or top ten list of strange looking bald guys). Not sure what to pray for then get out that old church directory and start at the beginning. If you can’t find it pray for me, that is Pastor Charles Areson, not sure what to pray for I suggest health and wealth, but what really I should say is wisdom.

      2. READ the Bible     

This is not sermon prep! Just read for the personal growth value. Still not sure? Then look at the calender see what day it is and read that chapter of Proverbs. It will encourage you and thus help your ministry.

      3.WRITE

You have been meaning to write down that idea which has been in your head for days, now is the chance do it. You don’t want to lose a great idea, again. Don’t have anything in your head? You have got problems. Seriously, if there isn’t anything try writing a thank you note or letter to you spouse or someone in else who have helped you lately (You can use it for #4) 

      4.SAY THANKS to people

Call them, send a card or a letter, or just get out of that chair and walk over to them and say “Thank you for ____________.” I would bet there are a lot of people who need to hear you say it. Can’t think of anyone? Try you spouse, your boss/DS, or your kids (if they haven’t run away or needed the cops called on them then thank them for putting up with you). Use your imagination but that is #5.

      5. IMAGINE

One of the best pieces of advice I was given a number of years ago was to sit down and just dream. I wasn’t to let money or position be a concern, just dream. At the time I imagined the three greatest things I wanted in my life. One, maybe two might happen but not all three but on that day I was to dream what it would be like and not focus on the “why-nots.” As of 19 months ago, the last of two those dreams came true. So I encourage you- dream, imagine without the hindrance of “reality.” You can only do it if you can imagine it.

      6. SAY THANKS TO GOD!

YES, this will help your ministry. By praising God we get our priorities and focus back. With a clear view of the world, we are better prepared to do ministry. 

      7. READ A GOOD BOOK

You don’t have to finish it, just start. Books give us fresh ideas, new insight, stir up our minds, remind us of the things we have forgotten and just plain inspire us. Don’t have a good book handy? Email me (csareson.books@gmail.com) and I will send you a PDF of my book Impossible to Forgive. It’s small and you might make it through in 15 minutes (or more, probably more) and it will give you an illustration for your next sermon/conversation of forgiveness. Don’t feel like a heavy subject, then I can send you my children’s book, The Bee in the Blackberry Bush. However, I am sure you have something

      8. WALK/EXERCISE

You have been to enough doctors to know why. I don’t think I need to explain the importance of good blood flow to your brain and the rest of your body. Your ministry will be cut short if you don’t, enough said.

      9. CALL AND ENCOURAGE

There is someone in your church or ministry who could use an encouraging phone call today. If all you do is say, “I only have a few minutes but I wanted to call and encourage you in the Lord.” If you make it a regular habit to encourage people then it will help your ministry. Encouraged people do more, give more, and grow more, so spend some time and encourage someone. Warning don’t wander into criticism or correction on this call or it loses its value. Listen, I mean it! Stay positive.

      10. ADJUST YOUR CALENDAR

Take ten minutes and look over your calendar. I give you permission to take something off of it. Now if you scratch off dinner with you spouse, don’t blame me for what happens. In fact, don’t scratch anything family related. Scratch out that activity someone else can do (call them and let them know) and either give yourself some margin or put in what really needs to be done. Honestly, most people in ministry need more margin so I encourage leaving the time blank. God will fill it or you fill it with one of the other things listed above. 
                                           __________________________________

So what do you do if you can’t resist and go back to trolling social media?

I suggest doing what Mike Loomis says: “Can’t yet resist the urge to hit Facebook?
Your penalty is to leave at least one group. (Seriously. Why are you in 78 groups?!)Once you’ve made progress on these areas, you’ll enjoy the feeling, and love the results.” (http://mikeloomis.co/2016/06/trolling/)

Now let’s see what happens. I am in this too. We are only going to use social media as a tool, not a time killer. We are going to restrict our time. We are going to do real ministry!


Now, what other activity can we do? We need 10 more. Give me your ideas....