Thursday, March 31, 2011

If you live by the cheeseburger...

Someone smart once said, "If you live by the sword you die by the sword."

In a sentence, this sums up life in a nutshell really. Whatever you focus on in life is what ultimately results in your demise. For some people that is "the sword." They live by violence and they die by violence.

Others live for food (like the cheeseburger) and they die from greasy cholesterol filled hearts that can't pump enough blood through their diseased arteries (now that's descriptive). Believe me, if you live by the cheeseburger you will die by the cheeseburger.

Most people who really despise AIM may have put way too much stock in it to begin with. Missionaries who hate foreigners probably had too high an expectation of the people. Teenagers who loathe their youth ministers may have held those same men in a position that they could never have reached.

If you live by the sword, you die by the sword. We all have to live by something. We all have to find passion somewhere. Our jobs, our education, our experiences, our loved ones. We need something to be focused on. The catch is, whatever we focus on is what will ultimately kill us.

If you live by AIM, you die by AIM.

Might I suggest living for Jesus? After all, he is the only thing/one in this world who demonstrated an ability to conquer death. We all need something to be passionate about. Be passionate about Jesus. If you live by Jesus you will never die, because he is the resurrection and the life.

-Chris Johnson

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tulsa Workshop / AIMapalooza '11

Calling all A-cubed,

I want to personally invite everyone to the Tulsa Workshop, which is coming up this week, March 23-26. Many wonderful and powerful speakers will be here, all considering the topic, “Let the Chains Fall Away”. They will focus on finding freedom from those things that hold us back from being what Christ created us to be. You can find the entire schedule at

As an alumnus, though, my favorite part of Workshop is what happens on Friday night beginning after the evening keynote (around 9). All AIM alumni are invited to be part of what we call, AIMapalooza. We will meet at the Memorial Drive Church of Christ building (747 S. Memorial Dr.) in the “Rainbow Room”, which is a large area downstairs. AIMapalooza is a very casual event where 40-70 of us eat and drink (whatever items that we all bring - check the event page), sing, and visit, visit, visit. We officially wrap up around 11:30, but you can stay as long as the conversation lasts. It is such an encouraging event and this year we are thrilled to share with you a few of the things we’ve been working on with the AIM Alumni Association (A-Cubed). This group is a grass roots effort to help AIM graduates come off the field with more support, information and encouragement so that their transitions can be smoother and healthier for them spiritually and emotionally. This August we plan to launch a new effort to offer some concrete help that will be a great blessing to returning AIMers. Come and find out how you can be a part of this work-in-progress!

So, grab a snack or a drink and plan on joining us Friday, March 25 around 9pm for AIMapalooza. If you have any questions, just let AIM Alum know. We can’t wait to see you!

PS - Bring your non-AIM spouses/family. All are invited to share in our annual reunion! You are their ticket in. :)

-Jason Thornton

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Christ's power is not dependent on my adequacy

“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? "If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”

When I look at the life of Paul, it becomes evident that he has gone through some incredibly challenging ordeals during his Christian walk. Whipped. Beaten. Stoned. Shipwrecked. In near constant danger. It would seem that these things would be a hindrance on Paul. These are the very things that were meant to hold him back from living a faithful life devoted to Christ. And yet God still uses him. A key principle that comes up again and again in Paul’s writing that I need to embrace is that Christ’s power is not measured by my adequacy as a person.

In Philippians 3, Paul brings up a list of his qualifications as a righteous person. I can’t help but see myself bringing up all sorts of things that I would put confidence in. My background, both national and familial. How I carry out my righteous duties. How much I give to be a good old Christian. And yet, Paul totally flips the situation on its head by saying that all of those things that made him so good are worthless compared to knowing Christ. Now, my brain knows the truth in this, but my pride kind of gets in the way here. You see, it is oftentimes like a little kid at a birthday party that is not theirs. A kid who is so desperate for attention that they totally lose focus of what this is all about. My pride screams out “Hey! Hey! Look at me! Look at all these things I can do! Look at how great I am! LOOK AT ME.” The point of it is, all of the things that I would have confidence in are counted as sewage in comparison with having a relationship with Christ. And so all of my abilities and qualifications have become impotent in contrast with what it means to know Christ. And yet Christ is still using me. What it comes down to is not that my talents are of no use, but it is all about what they are trying to accomplish. I must use my gifts not for selfish ambition, but rather to honor and glorify Christ in my life. But if that is how I am to look at my strengths, how in the world am I to look at my shortcomings?

Take a look at II Corinthians 12. Paul is going through his discourse on his thorn in the flesh. He goes on to say how this is a daily battle for him. How he is struggling with this hardship every single day. How he has pleaded with God to take this burden away from him. And yet what is God’s response?
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Again, what would be a hindrance becomes the very thing that spurs Paul on. When I am weak, then I am strong. God uses the things that Satan throws in order to hold back and uses them to display his power. So it doesn’t really matter about how great I am at something or how weak I am as a person; Christ’s power is at work regardless.

What does this say about me? That I am unimportant? That I have nothing to offer? By no means! God takes the talents I have and uses them for his glory, instead of my own. And my weaknesses? God is at work there as well equally if not more so. For the astounding thing about God’s power is that he not only amplifies what is good about me, he also transforms that which would render me incapable and makes me able. Despite my flaws and shortcomings, Christ’s power is still ever present in my life to carry out the ministry of grace that he established on the cross.

-John McCoy