David Putman from The Nines
September 18, 2010, 2:52 pm
Filed under: Church, faith, Leadership | Tags: , , , ,

Encouraging challenging post on keeping Christ and His ways center in the church.


The Tea Party, Politics, and the American Dream
September 9, 2010, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Community, Leadership, Love | Tags: , , , , , ,

Most important to know about me is that I am a follower of Jesus. While I am still a train wreck of sin, I do love Jesus Christ and have been overwhelmed by His personal grace for me. He is both Savior and Lord of my life.

Generally speaking, I believe the Scriptures, the Spirit, and fellow believers are to be our guides in the Way of Christ. In the Scriptures specifically, I am usually a literalist in interpreting and abiding to what the Word says. (Some passages seem impossible to understand, interpret, and find unity in. However, that amounts to about .5% of all Scripture.)

Much of what I’ve decided to write about within this post falls in the area of Christian liberty. I usually avoid engaging heavily in areas of Christian liberty, regarding stated public opinions and open dialogue. Definition of Christian Liberty by John MacArthur, “Christian liberty is being free from having to fulfill the legal code to please God, and free from the frustration of not being able to keep an external set of rules…. It is the freedom to function by the internal working of the Spirit.” There is both liberty and diversity in our beliefs on the minor issues.

To avoid any concern, I’m as American as there is. Born and raised a Hoosier, proudly recite the Pledge of Allegiance every week in Rotary Club. I have family who have served in every war in the last 100 years and family who’ve served in elected positions in this state. I pay taxes. However, regarding political parties, I carry no personal label (Republican, Democrat, Independent), nor any desire. And yes, I do vote. Overall, I love this country.

Why share my thoughts on the Tea Party, Politics, and the American dream?

  • Over the last few months I’ve become increasingly concerned about Christians in my life whose opinions are being distorted by both common media and Christian culture. It’s disturbed me to know so many believers being consumed by these matters and confused about what exactly, is The Main Thing. Many believers need to see these issues from a different “lens.” These matters have stirred me to the point of having to share thoughts on this.
  • Many people in my life who wouldn’t label themselves followers of Christ need to hear there is quite a diversity of opinions on these matters from people who are sold out for Jesus, love the Word, and conservative in many ways. The strength of the loud Christian culture/political message seems to follow one collective theme and the broad political media only highlights one “type” of Christian.

I believe in the end Love wins. But, as believers we are to allow love to win through us daily are we not? It’s been exhausting watching so many “Christians” engage in issues of politics, stating beliefs in Christ, though living and speaking as if they are following Malcolm X’s mantra to win “by any means necessary.Not simply stating opinions and engaging dialogue, but fighting for a political system and willing to stomp on the very people whom Jesus sent us to love and point towards Him in doing so.

I generally believe it is valuable for Christ followers to participate in government, yet not at the cost or separation from building strong local churches which build the Kingdom. Nor do I believe any career, habit, hobby, or group for that matter should reign in place of this. The Lord has promised to come back to redeem His Church, not to redeem any government.

Not meant to be exhaustive in complete doctrine. These thoughts are in some sort of order. Kinda.

While there is a wide range of opinion on where America fits in the end times schedule (Rapture Ready, Pre-Trib Rapture, Jeremiah Project), what we must not miss is the truth from Scripture that the Lord is a respecter of no nations. He is God. And we are not. Since the Tower of Babel, people have been trying to work their way to be like, closer to, or even superior to the Lord. Political systems included. And as many great attributes America has, she is only a country. God reigns over everything. Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

The Scriptures make it clear the Lord is a respecter of no people or nation (Romans 2:11, Phil. 2:9-11). “Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel—that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again—well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.” -Acts 10:34-36 (The Message Bible)

Regarding the Tea Party…

I am flat out in favor of multiple options for Americans to consider “at the polls.” Long overdue. Conceptually, the Tea Party would fit into that for me as well. Specifically, my concern was heightened from the recent rally in Washington, primarily by this massive following and response by self labeled “evangelical” Christians. All being led by Glenn Beck in our “Divine Destiny.”

  • An invitation to “Return America back to God” by Glenn Beck: Um, which God is Glenn asking Christ followers to return to? Which God exactly? A Mormon to help shape our political views is one thing, but as a voice to lead Christ followers to unite “back to God?” Is not Jesus the gate to the sheep? In matters of our faith,the issue isn’t that Beck is a Mormon in a position of political influence, the issue is that so many Christians are being tied into this crossover of political/spiritual rhetoric. Are not Christ followers to be led by fellow devoted followers of Christ?  For all this talk of the Antichrist, Glenn Beck is deceiving a whole lot of Christ followers through combining our faith in Jesus Christ with political rhetoric.
  • While I won’t go as far as some have and claimed racism in the Tea Party: I will say that this is another movement full of white people . More white Christianity. According to my what I see in the early church, if something is a movement of the Gospel and not of man it will be diverse. I’m worn out of black Christianity, white Christianity, etc. in this country. Biblical Christianity is a movement of the living God which includes all tribes and tongues and seeks to reconcile people with one another.
  • To return America to our Christian roots: Um, which parts? Safe, comfortable, entitled, or perhaps lazy? I suspect many American Christians would prefer a legislated Christian system so they don’t have to pray as hard, witness as much, give as much, etc. And as I read recently , “On the anniversary and location of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech hundreds of thousands gathered to “Restore Honor.” I’m wondering if Native Americans and African Americans would celebrate the former honor of America with the issues of forced relocation and slavery so poignant for the ancestors of many fellow followers of Christ in America. Wasn’t much of that done in the name of Jesus too? White wealthy (middle to upper class) Christians need to be more sensitive to the broader context of how these things come across to diversity brothers and sisters in the faith. Through the Gospel, we are one family which means going the extra mile to consider that the history of American Christianity hasn’t been totally pure. Instead of gathering to restore the honor of our country, perhaps Christians should gather in mass to publicly repent of the things we’ve done in His name both in this country and around the world.

From the Word….

Most often Believers quote the majority of Scripture from the Old Testament in their cause to merge Christianity with politics. The Old Testament is the Word of God too, yet it’s so bothersome to find modern Christians pulling passages out of their context to support their modern day desires. To claim to be “Word” centered from Scripture and ignorant of the context in which the Old Testament (the Prophets in particular) ignores the issue that USA is not ISRAEL.  And the Old Testament is interpreted through the lenses of New Testament. Not to mention that Jesus, Paul, and other New Testament writers go to great lengths to clarify whether they were writing/talking to the Jews or Gentiles (Romans being a great example as chapters 9-11 clearly shifts to Jewish nations). What does the New Testament have to say in support of merging the two together? “Cricket, Cricket.”

However, let’s consider a few things together:

  • The Lord Jesus Christ showed us His example in how He rejected being the political King the Jews so wanted Him to be. Political Savior He was not for them when He walked this earth. That is Christianity 101. So why are so many Christians trying to use His name to establish a political kingdom on this earth today?
  • The legalization of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire which brought the interweaving of political systems and Christianity for centuries and the damage that was done. The early church spread the Gospel rather quickly without having legal rights and influence. Instead, relying on the movement of the Spirit to lead His people. Through blessing or through hardship.
  • Among everything we should be fighting for with love, why are Christians fighting for a strong Christian kingdom on this earth today? Much of the “Christian” resistance in our current political climate is the perceived stripping of our values and “rights. What if the Scriptures ensured to us no “rights” on this earth? So easily many are confusing American nationalism for Christian revival. Confusing Christian values for American conservative values. What if the Lord is trying to show us we can’t be both in the American Dream and His Kingdom. Isn’t this what the Lord is saying to the Rich Young Ruler? Didn’t we hear that we can’t serve two masters? Either we are going to die to have the American Dream or die for the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Church and His Kingdom….

What are the essentials for the Spirit-led, Biblically centered, community oriented follower of Christ will develop to keep a healthier view in these matters?

According to Scripture we are to live like foreigners while living in the earth: Most of us Christians in America have no clue what this means and think persecution is their child not being able to pray in school. We are to live as though we are citizens of Heaven and aliens while here (Philippians 3:20, 1 Peter 1:1; 2:11, Hebrews 11:13). The violation of Christian “rights” should only lead us to be thankful of the Lord’s rewarding genuine faithfulness in our sacrifice. We can only expect hardships as we maintain Gospel centrality in this earth yet count it as a blessing to know the Lord this way (Mark 10:29-30, 2 Corinthians 12:10). Certainly not suggesting to sit on the sidelines politically, to not engage, vote, support candidates who represent your values, etc. However, it concerns me the motives of many Christians who get involved are fighting to have hardship removed. The Lord seeks to mature us through hardship and we often work to have it removed.

According to Scriptures, I believe the best use of the believer’s gifts, abilities, and resources are to be to build a strong Church instead of strong state. A strong Church, manifested through strong local churches centered on the Gospel, brings Glory to the Lord and together seeks to be centered on the Great Commission. Admittedly, aside from my own failures as a follower of Christ in lacking personal purity and living up to my God given abilities, passions, and desires, nothing has broken my heart more the last few years than the church. There is no ignoring that the American church is full of heartbreak, failure, disappointment….etc. Because the church is full of people. And people disappoint. However, as believer’s, we can’t ignore the Biblical mandate and overwhelming joy (most of the time) to serve together with other believer’s and build His Church.

The Gospel spoken and lived out is the main thing. Believer’s must keep the main thing the main thing. Grace centered dialogue in all things. Build bridges not walls.

Love Guatemala
August 31, 2010, 11:18 pm
Filed under: arts, Community, Love | Tags: , , , , ,

So much to say yet I’m still at a loss for words from our Indy Metro Church trip to Guatemala. The overall team was amazing, the art school partnership is taking off, and the work we did on the ground was fruitful. However, it’s primarily the people we met and spent time with who have left me in awe. Specifically, the kids of the art school who make it hard to recover from.

All of us have seen pictures of poor urban or 3rd world nation kids on late night TV? Or maybe you’ve been to a concert and there was the sponsor a child booth there? While you can be good for a tear or two and even perhaps make the leap to supporting them, I can say without any doubt it’s another world to have held them, heard the dreams, and watched them wept. It’s more difficult to forget their stories, their names, and their presence once you’ve spent time holding and loving them.

While we we’re in Guatemala we talked with every child in the art school and tried to listen for their heartbeat! Their fears, their hopes, and their dreams. Although we really wanted to ask, it was often straining to even hear their responses. Learning to know one child’s story about their parents who keep the money they bring home and don’t share the food. Leaving the kids to not eat for days and days at a time. Or knowing one young ladies dream of learning how to bake so she can have a future and help provide for her parents and siblings. And of course the classic stand by response from many of the young boys in wanting to be a professional soccer player!

I left with mixed emotions, both saddened and excited.  Saddened by the stories that I hear yet excited that Indy Metro is making a difference. The love we are showing is a verb. And I can’t help but think of the star fish story. As old as it is, the classic example of the boy throwing the starfish back in the ocean one at a time comes to mind. While there are thousands of children in Magdalena, Guatemala in great need, I am grateful we are making a huge impact in the lives of these kids in the art school.

Photography by Jena Lynn Osbon.

Catching a wave
May 28, 2010, 10:59 am
Filed under: Skate, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Not that anyone reads this blog….lol. With my consistency I don’t blame you (last post in December). Yet, I’m going to post my lessons learned from surfing yesterday in Jacksonville Beach.

I’m on vacation this week with the family in JAX Beach and have always wanted to try surfing.

  1. As a Hoosier that has skateboarded and snowboarded for over 10 years this seemed like a logical step to round out my X-Games training. 🙂
  2. Like skateboarding, surfing looks effortless, as if just anyone could pick it up.
  3. Falling doesn’t look painful. After all, it’s only water.
  4. The lure to surfing is obvious. I see hundreds of surfers every day and have yet to see an overweight one.  Tan, ripped, tattooed, and generally speaking cool looking dudes (in a beach sort of way).
  5. And my friend had an extra board so it would be of no cost to me.

Well, that is what got me out there let me confess the reality of what happened.

  1. I’m a horrible swimmer. Always have been. Try balancing on a board and paddling, both against current and dealing with oncoming waves. AND watching the experienced surfers all around you to not get in there way. Paddling, balancing, watching= exhaustion by the time I got far enough out to “catch a wave!”
  2. Duck diving is what they call it when you are supposed to push your board down and go underneath the oncoming wave as you swim out. “Swim under and through the wave.” Duck diving sucks and requires a skill unto it’s own. I never did figure out duck diving and was rolled back 15 feet each time.
  3. Don’t suck in the salt water when paddling and being rolled in a wave. Major nausea to deal with for many hours.
  4. The boards do really hurt when they smack you in the head while being being rolled in a wave.
  5. The  water is a lot stronger that it looks! And the boards do break when they nose dive down, while yes again being rolled in a wave.

So, needless to say I didn’t catch any waves but was caught up in more than my share.  A good first effort though, and I lived to tell about it!

Normal at Indy Metro
December 1, 2009, 3:13 pm
Filed under: Community, faith, Love, Serve | Tags: , , ,

For a while I’ve wanted to share a few thoughts on generosity, the church, and Indy Metro culture. While it’s still raw and fluid, friend and Indy Metro leader Parke Ladd (Visit his blog, Love {All} People, for this and other great posts) and I sat down together to discuss some of this as we head into the Advent season.

To simplify, I’ve broken up into a series of posts and invite you’re participation:

Parke: IndyMetroChurch has been around for 3 years now.  What’s been the response to what some might call just another church in downtown Indianapolis?  What’s changed?  Has there been an impact?

Aaron: It’s evolving.  3 years is a long time, and we are so different today than we were 3 years ago.  We have learned so much the past few years, and we don’t even know what to do with all the info.  People looking in from the outside may not see much, but the Lord is doing some inspiring things here in Indy.

When I look around and see the people from all sorts of unique backgrounds, it just stirs my soul.  I look around and we have single men and women from marginalized backgrounds, living in poverty, yet still worshiping and grateful for every breath they have.  We have urban professionals meeting with and sharing life with impoverished, young couples and homeless men and women walking off the street for a coffee and a bite to eat.  We have newly married couples and couples who have been married for 40 years.  We have college students, high school students, and babies who don’t even know what a student is.  All these different backgrounds, coming together as one, crying out praises to the Lord, coming to know who he is…just hits me in a way that I cannot describe.

It’s His Church.  He is at work here in Indy. We couldn’t have done this as leaders on our own.  We talked about it, but the Lord is doing it. As I shared a few weeks ago from 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”  Spiritual disciplines are us doing what we are to do so only God can do what only He can do. God is making it grow!  The lives that are being changed in response to the Gospel are all so different.

We would love to read your thoughts on what you think normal Christianity should look like according to the Scriptures?

Acceptable Idols
December 1, 2009, 3:09 pm
Filed under: Community, faith, Love, Serve | Tags: , , , ,

For a while I’ve wanted to share a few thoughts on generosity, the church, and Indy Metro culture. While it’s still raw and fluid, friend and Indy Metro leader Parke Ladd (Visit his blog, Love {All} People, for this and other great posts) and I sat down together to discuss some of this as we head into the Advent season.

To simplify, I’ve broken up into a series of posts and invite you’re participation:

Parke: What I’ve come to realize is that the reason I don’t know to what extent the Lord is calling me to be generous is that I don’t spend enough time with Jesus, actively and intimately pursuing his will for my life.  The personal relationship is in dire need of attention in my opinion.  Would you agree?

Aaron: Yeah, that’s fair.  In “all” things. Consider 1 Corinthians 10:31. There is so much duplication out there that is just rehashed information repackaged and labeled as creative which is very effective at stymieing my own God-given creativity.  I can pull from so many different sources.  I wonder how many times the Lord would say, “Aaron, stop watching and listening to that crap and just come fall on your face before me and spend some time with me!  Pray. Read. I will give you what you need to sustain this church and this movement.  I will provide.  Simply come to me.”  I’m not dogging people at all, but I have so much influence from so many mediocre influences in my life that I settle for scraps from the table instead of taking the keys to the Kingdom.  You know what I mean?

All the stuff may be good stuff, but I confess that it is so easy to let other “good” resources take away from my personal time with the Lord, engaging him in a heart to heart manner which cannot be replicated through spending time with anyone else or reading any other thing or following any other feed.  What is God saying to me?  How can I know without spending time with him, every day, on my knees, passionately pursuing his path for my life?  While God can speak through special conferences or powerful books, there is a difference between doing those things and making those things an idol where they take the place of God at the center of my life.  In a sense they become my source for god instead of going to God himself. That is an idol.

Parke: Sin of omission, right?

Aaron: Yeah, sin of omission.  Not doing what we are supposed to do.  It’s not simply that I am going out and blatantly doing something immoral and wrong, it’s that I am not doing something which I know I should do.  Replacing time with the Lord with other resources and people could be a sin of omission, correct.

Parke: There are so many other sources to run to.  So many other books, blogs and people to listen too, have we forgotten our first love?

Aaron: I love what a lot of authors are doing.  But, it was never their intention for me to idolize them.  It’s our issue.  They put out good stuff, and I put it on too high of a platform and allow it to take the place of personal time with Jesus.  It’s the challenge of not replacing Christ with culturally acceptable idols, no matter how useful or good they may be.

Parke: When it comes to authentic Christianity, the Lord doesn’t ask for half of anything.  He asks us to seek him with all of our heart, to serve him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.  Is following Jesus an all or nothing thing?

Aaron: Are we far from what normal Christianity originally looked like according to what we read in the Scriptures?  Probably. I mean, it’s not hard to see the example of the early Christian church and then ponder what happened along the way that turned the church into an institution.

If Jesus came back today and saw us for who we are he might not be thrilled, but he is still so gracious! Right relationship with the Lord is the goal.  Regardless of what you have–abilities, gifts, talents, jobs, voice–use it for Jesus.  Don’t get consumed with legalism or guilt.  Your wealth, what you’ve been given, the voice that you have, they’re all tools for the Lord.  The goal is to remove anything that comes between you and God, and that is accomplished through not idolizing anything.  Listen to the calling the Lord has for you.  As Christ followers, we must be willing to follow Him where he leads.  One person’s “all” is going to look different from another person’s “all”, but at the center they are both going to be in complete pursuit of God, with no hindrances from things, regardless of how many they may own.  Whether you have a lot or you have nothing, things can still be an idol.  Regardless of how much stuff you have, the same struggles exist, and the same cure exists, and that is the Gospel.  Authentic Christianity looks different for each individual person in their own environments.   Meditate on the Gospel, respond wholly to it, and go where He leads you.  Nothing we gain is for ourselves.  It is all for the Lord.  We simply transfer through what the Lord gives us to whom he leads us to give it to when he leads us to give it!  If there is anything that gets between us and the Lord, we’ve got to let it go.  However, letting things go and serving the poor is not the goal.  Right relationship with the Lord is.  Out of our pursuit of right relationship with the Lord will our giving and letting go be properly and adequately defined and accomplished.

We would love to read your thoughts on how you wrestle through responding to the Gospel and removing barriers (and/or idols) that prohibit your response?

It’s Not Ours
December 1, 2009, 3:03 pm
Filed under: faith, Love, Serve | Tags: , ,

For a while I’ve wanted to share a few thoughts on generosity, the church, and Indy Metro culture. While it’s still raw and fluid, friend and Indy Metro leader Parke Ladd (Visit his blog, Love {All} People, for this and other great posts) and I sat down together to discuss some of this as we head into the Advent season.

To simplify, I’ve broken up into a series of posts and invite you’re participation:

Parke: What do we do with all of our stuff?  We’ve been given so much while so many others have so little.

Aaron: Well, regardless of how much stuff you have, at the end of the day, it’s all God’s anyway.  It’s not ours.  If the Lord convicts you to give it away, you’d better give it away. Ha.  You should serve your neighbors no matter who they are or how the Lord calls you to do so.  Be generous with all of your possessions, not just a percentage.

Whether you have a calling on your life to live amongst the poor of Indy or you have been put in a position of extreme wealth, you should serve, love and reach out to your neighbors with the Gospel. Using stuff to serve people is a practical theology which shows we are willing to put our beliefs in practice.

Parke: Can you give me an example of what you’re talking about?

Aaron: Let’s talk about money.  How do I talk about money when at least 20% of our church is marginalized, living in poverty, while another 20% is living in great financial comfort, monetarily stable and well off?  The other 60% are all scattered somewhere in between.  Or how about generosity?  Are the poor not called to lives of generosity as well as the rich?

So often the story of the Widows Offering is used to rebuke wealthy people for giving out of their excess, but Jesus is also praising the widow (whom Jesus affirms dozens of times in the Scriptures- widows, orphans, etc to be receipts of our giving) for their recognition of her willingness to give generously.

Generosity looks different dependent upon the individual’s personal circumstances, but we are still called to a generous lifestyle as a testimony (albeit a private one) of closeness to the Lord. Pastor Rick Warren often shares that, “Generosity is a godly quality when we are acting most like God.” Whether you live richly or poorly on this earth, generosity cannot be ignored.  A mark of someone pursuing the Gospel–loving Jesus and loving others–is a generous lifestyle.  One characteristic of “normal Christianity” is generosity.

We would love to read your thoughts on what generosity looks like in your life? A struggle or a joy?