Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Looking forward and thinking back

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel…”. As Paul sat in prison, he drew tremendous comfort from remembering the shared experiences he had with a group of Christians who shared the same focus. One can surmise that every time he was reunited with this group he would add to his storehouse of memories and draw ever increasing encouragement from them.

In March I was greatly privileged to have two such reunion experiences with those that I share a partnership. First was the AIM Reentry and graduation. Despite the fact that there were many who I did not know, the connection was instantaneous and the experience was chock full of renewing conversations and inspiring realizations. A special thanks to Tim, John, Joe, Kim and Angela for their input in to what we would want shared with the graduates and those who prayed for God to provide the right words. Despite much frustration in my preparation, when I actually presented the message God’s Spirit clearly spoke to many and I was so thrilled once again to witness His ongoing work in the hearts of those who want His will fulfilled in their lives. As you yourselves have experienced, at the conclusion of graduation they had all AIM alumni, present students, and future students stand and encircle the audience. It was staggering to think of what God has and will continue to do through that group and then, to realize that I am connected to this unique work that God has on earth was genuinely overwhelming. “I thank my God every time I remember”.

Literally, two weeks later, at Aimapalooza, I stood in a room again surrounded by people with a shared heritage and purpose. After all shared together how they saw God working in their lives, we drew in close and begin to sing. The videos will never be able to convey the tangible power that was in that room. It was as if God was restoring my spirit with each passing note. It was amazing and exhilarating! “I thank my God every time I remember”.

In James 1:17, God shares with us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…”. So when we experience things that are truly good and perfect here on this earth, a sliver of heavenly light is perceived for that moment, a tiny signal of what is coming for us in heaven. The result is that we carry this small fragment of God’s glory (in the form of a memory) with us to provide encouragement for future days and to serve as a motivational reminder of where we are headed. Though we experience good and perfect things all the time (since God is so good and faithful), these reunions stand out as very potent reminders of God’s love and work among us.

The AIM Alumni Association wants to be a catalyst for creating as many of these opportunities to reunite as possible. Since we are spread out across the world, none of us could attend all of them, but if every once in a while we could connect, how much richer our walk with God would be! This coming September, Labor Day weekend, we are inviting all that can to reunite with those who share a unique heritage and a common purpose. Join us for Aimstock! If you aren’t able to make it, especially if it is too far to travel, I encourage you to begin dreaming about creating an event in your area. We envision a day where events would happen all over the country that would provide a focal point for restorative community that comes from these events.

All of these special experiences of course are a hint. It is as if God is winking at us saying, “If you think this is good, you are going to be blown away by the final reunion.” So, especially if you are discouraged today, I pray that God fills you with courage as He reminds you of the good and perfect memories He has placed in your mind and heart and how those serve to tap you on the shoulder and remind you that the best is yet to come.

- Jason Thornton

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What we're cooking up next...

If you were unable to attend AIMAPALOOZA this last month, you missed a great party. The event reunited Aim Alumni from over three decades, bringing together multiple Aim teams and allowing for wonderful conversation and discussion. Much was discussed this year, opening the door to some exciting possibilities for the future.

One item that was brought up at AIMAPALOOZA was the birth of a new annual Aim event called AIMSTOCK! Starting Labor Day weekend on September 4th, Aim Alumni will join together in Oklahoma for two days or relaxation, devotion, fellowship, and fun. The purpose for the event is to offer yet another arena for Christian bond to occur between Aim Alumni and their families. We want you to be part of our experience! If you are interested in attending AIMSTOCK, leave your calendars open for Labor Day weekend. We are looking up details for the best possible location and price, to accommodate all of our Alumni, regardless of financial availability and family size. Also, if you know of some possible retreat options, please feel free to shoot them our way on the AIM ALUMNI Facebook page. We look forward to making this event a spectacular one. Your partnership in that task might be just what we need. Let us know, and we look forward to seeing you in early September.

(more details coming soon)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Would I Like Me If I Met Me?

Every Thursday morning I help with our congregations preschool. Playing with the kids, drawing and coloring, and helping them with crafts is always a great joy. I personally think that kids can be hilarious. They can say the funniest things. And it is so neat to me how much personality they have. While helping in craft time last week, the thought popped into my head, "I wonder what I was like at age five." Like, if I were to be able to see myself, and spend time with the five-year-old me, what would I think of myself? What would I say to myself? How would I have acted in our Thursday "Sunshine School"? What would I think of little Gary? Would I have to keep him from running around the class room? I know I would have to tell him that "it is now time to listen and not talk" (I remember hearing those words a lot as a child). I would really like to see if this "little" Gary would stress me out or not, or if I would think he were the coolest little guy ever. As I pondered these things I began to wonder what it would be like to meet the thirteen year old Gary, the twenty-one year old Gary, and to meet myself as I am right now. What would I think of myself? Would I like me, if I met me? Would I think that I was a jerk, or a really friendly guy? Would I like hanging out and spending time with me, or would I hate myself and think I was lame. Would I be the kind person that I would try to avoid?

If I were to somehow meet myself there are two things that I hope that I would notice. First off, I hope that I could see noticeable change between the old me and the current me. As a disciple we should be in a constant state of growth as day by day we are being transformed. (2 Cor 4:16) Because we are in a constant state of growth and transformation, the me of today should be far more mature than the me of five years ago. Likewise, the me of five years from now should be all the more mature. Sure, there will be times in our lives when we undergo more growth and transformation than others. Certain events and situations that God puts us in cause us to grow and shape us more into Christ own likeness. AIM field times experiences are such an event. In my life it represents a great mile-marker. The Christian life is one where we are constantly undertaking life transforming tasks for God. The moment we stop undergoing adventures and challenges is the same moment our spirituality plateaus. Our new ministries therefore are all the more challenging than our old ones. Our discipleship unto Jesus should be lived out radically in this world. It is only while we are carrying our own cross in pursuit of Christ that we are truly living out the Adventure that being a Christian really is. We must always keep are eyes fixed on the horizon to what lies ahead. Sometimes dwelling on our triumphs of the past can keep us from conquering our adventures of the future.

Secondly, I hope that when meeting myself I notice something radically different about myself in comparison to the lives others. Hopefully, I would be able to see the genuine quality of Christ-likeness within myself. When meeting myself of course I would be able to recognize all that which is actually me, actually Gary. But what I seriously hope to be able to see is all that is clearly Christ. Paul put it this way, "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me". (Galatians 2:20) If I were to meet myself would I be able to see Christ in all that I am? If I were to meet myself would I the Good Life (eternal life) that God has given me be so evident that I could sense its presence? Would it be clear that Christ is living incarnate within me?

The sister duo band Tegan and Sara have a popular song entitled "You Wouldn't Like Me" where they clam "I feel like I wouldn't like me if I met me." On the flip-side, there is an episode of the TV show Seinfeld where Jerry says that he has fallen in love with a woman who is just like himself. He tells his neighbor Kramer, "Now I know what I've been looking for all of these years: Myself! And now that I've found me, I've swept myself off of my feet!"

Well that is how Jerry, Tegan, and Sara feel about meeting themselves but what about me and what about you? Would you like who are? Would you like who you have become? If our answer is no, then what is it that we need to change? In meeting the old you, could you see how much you've grown over the years? In meeting the current you, would you be able sense the radiance of Christ?

May we daily take up our own cross as we follow Christ in His adventures in our world. Only then can we look forward to meeting the you and me of tomorrow and years to come, because it is on this journey that we become all the more like Christ our King.

If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself?- Jesus (Luke 9:23-25)

- Gary Ford II

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Hello all you tired people out there. I know there is no way that I am the only one absolutely exhausted right now. Everything I am doing is a good thing. I have a great family, that takes time. I am doing well in school and am thankful to be working towards a goal, but it takes time. I have a beautiful house, cleaning it takes time. I am thankful for the body of Christ and worship, which also takes time. I appreciate getting to volunteer at my children's schools, but it does takes time. I know, just like you all I can keep going. I often hear people say that they wish that there were more hours in the day. I can't say I do, because I know it would be just more time that I would fill and that isn't always a good thing. All the things I mentioned are good, but sometimes it is important to stop!

On Sunday, our preacher told a story about a lady who got her city to declare a night off for the whole town. No games could be scheduled, school homework was out, nothing was planned. It was a family night ... officially. I'm afraid that the chances of one of those officially happening in my life is pretty low, but … I can declare one for myself. Tonight, I am declaring a night to stop. I will hang out with my family, leave the laundry in a pile, ignore the dust on the furniture,we will eat something that is very much labor un-intensive and I will take a time out. (My biggest problem will be not feeling guilty about it). I think we all need to remember this. You can figure out for yourself if you need a day a week or a day a month … you know what you need. Just remember to STOP! I know this is not an incredibly spiritual blog this week. Don't forget though, God did this first. The very first chapter of Genesis tells us that He worked really hard and then knew when it was time to stop. He rested too. I figure if it is good for God, it has to be good for me. When we are overly tired is when we say the things we know we shouldn't, it is when we cut corners on work, it is when we forget to tell our family that we love them. Don't let Satan wear you out. One last time ... STOP!!!

- Sharon Fox