Thursday, August 26, 2010

Where AIMSTOCK Comes In

I have recently had the privilege and difficulty of working with multiple marriages that are on the brink of divorce. Though the arguments have different words and the wounds have distinct patterns, it is clear that there is a theme that runs through each situation. As each couple’s individual relationships with God go, so their relationship with each other goes. This is rarely clear when you’re the one going through it, but it is painfully obvious when you are looking for it from the outside. Each person is in desperate need of healing and renewal. Though the devil tempts them to think that the main issue is communication or behavior modification, these are simply a symptom of the bigger problem. Each one of them must fully embrace their relationship with God and allow Him to heal them. Then they can work on the specific issues in their struggles.

But you don’t need to be struggling in your marriage to have the need for healing and renewal. You also don’t need to be experiencing reverse culture shock and identity shock to need healing and renewal. We all need it and we all need it often. No matter how great my life is going, I am still experiencing the devils’ schemes which often wound me. These scrapes and abrasions that wear me down, not even considering the massive direct hits that I sometimes take, need healing. Jesus is clear that if we open our eyes and hearts to him and then turn to him, he will heal us. (John 12:40) But we are constantly tempted to think that if we just keep moving surely things will work out. Until they don’t.

We all need help and God meant for it to be this way. We need to periodically take time to break free from the distractions of life, surround ourselves by people who have the same focus and give our attention fully to turning to Him. In a perfect world, we would experience this often with our local church, but too often more attention is paid to keeping order than to mutually seeking healing in these gatherings. Even if we do receive this regularly from a group of Christians, the 1 or 2 hours we get barely gives us time to begin to connect.

That is where AIMstock comes in. All of us have the common theme of AIM as a connection (whether we were an AIMer for a minute, for years or we joined the adventure by marrying someone with this experience). We have been wounded in various ways. We want to take time to break free of distractions for an extended period of time and mutually encourage each other to put our focus on God and His work in our lives. Whether you feel strong in your relationship with God or are struggling with whether He even cares about you, this is for you. The organizers of AIMstock know that we are not big enough, smart enough or powerful enough to make this work. We are simply stepping out in faith based on what we have witnessed God doing and we are praying that God will take our meager efforts of faith and create something that is so much bigger than us.

Whether you are able to be part of AIMstock this year or not, I encourage you to make it a habit of seeking renewal and healing. In my recent reading of the minor prophets, a consistent theme was that people had tremendous problems in their lives, but failed to make the connection that these problems were ultimately the result of their failure to stay connected to God. Thus the need for the prophets to tell them. I run into people that have this same blindness regularly and often one of those people is me. Renewal and healing is critical and only takes place when we make time to be connected with our Father. My encouragement to us is to make that time: Adjust the calendar, modify the schedule, prepare to sacrifice some other things that we would love to do and make some plans to connect to our Father who longs to heal and renew us!

- Jason Thornton

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Final Details On AIMSTOCK

It looks like details with AIMSTOCK are almost completed. So far, we have 31 people attending, meaning this year's event should be very successful and a whole lot of fun. Even though we've made a deadline for signing up, we are still accepting last minute reservations. If you'd like to join us for the retreat... don't hesitate to call us and make reservations (405) 312-0092
Again, what makes AIMSTOCK a success is alumni participation. We'd love to have you here with us!

- Chris Johnson

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Video: My Favorite AIM Memory

What was your favorite AIM memory?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This Is My Command...

I've been writing some letters these days.

At the risk of stating the obvious, I'll mention that reverse culture shock has been really, really hard for me. It's so easy to justify sin when things are stressful, and any sin, no matter how seemingly trivial, hurts our relationship with God. Honest self-examination before a God that I know really loves me is so healing at these times. Healing comes full circle at the point of confession and repentance. How awesome that his grace is new every morning!

But one thing to consider is this - many sins we commit day to day are sins against other people, too. And as long as we ignore the effect that lies, selfishness, pride, lust, gossip, etc. have on our closest friends and family, we won't truly be free from sin and its consequences.

I've recently written two letters, and can already think of one more I need to write, where I do just that. I confess the things that I did to hurt the other person, clearly and honestly. And I apologize, both for specific, named actions and words and for the motivating attitudes behind them. It's really intimidating, but so far, it's been so powerfully healing.

I've learned from many recent mistakes that I can't really apologize when I'm too busy pointing out to the other person what he's done wrong to me. And you know, I do think there is a place for lovingly confronting someone, but that's not been my problem. My problem has been me saying something to this effect: "Well, yeah, I did that. And I shouldn't have, I guess. But you've done all these things, and have you noticed what I'm going through these days on top of all of that?? I mean, what do you expect? I'm not perfect!"

I've learned that this is not what God calls us to. It's true - relationships have dynamics that are way beyond our personal control, like another person's actions or reactions. But to make that an excuse to not do the things that are in our control is not being Christ-like. "If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" Romans 12:18. This is not a cop-out; this is a command to do whatever is possible. How often do we really do that?

Back to my point. We as Christians are to be ministers of reconciliation. We proclaim the good news of how to be reconciled with God. And the very same Bible tells us news that if we aren't doing whatever we can to be reconciled to our brother, than we are hypocrites. I still have a long way to go, and I hope to God that next time I remember to be slower to anger and quicker to seek peace. But by God's grace I'm taking some steps of faith. I hope this encourages you all to do the same.

"[Love] is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth." - 1 Corinthians 13:5-6

"This is my command: Love each other." - John 15:17

Your sister,
Brettin White