Black Sheep and Sore Thum​bs…

Odd, distinct, and significantly different

“You stick out like a sore thumb.” I haven’t been specifically told this before, but I can remember a few times I remember thinking it.

When I was a sophomore in college, I decided to begin trying out the sport of basketball. The first time I played, I was horrendous. I couldn’t understand it. I was quick and athletic, yet I couldn’t manage to keep possession of the ball or make it into the basket.

There was one play they passed the ball. I made a really good jump and got an interception. I sprinted down the court but out ran the ball. I slowed down and threw the ball up towards the rim, and it slammed off the backboard and went right back to the other team.

The rest of the game every time I touched the ball people yelled, “don’t shoot, pass the ball.” This was when I realized I stuck out like a sore thumb; I was the odd man out.

Another way I’ve heard it is he/she is “the black sheep.” Two expressions but one meaning: Odd, distinct, and significantly different.

These are three adjectives that people usually would not want to be referred to as. But, as Christian’s this is exactly what we usually are.

Currently, I have been working through a “Summer of Walking with God” with our youth. Here are three things to be aware of when you walk with God.

Christians will be hated by the world

Matthew 10:22, 1 John 3:13, and 1 Peter 4:4 all have something in common. They all address what happens when you become a Christian.They say you will be hated by the world and people will slander you because you no longer plunge into the destructive things you once use to do.

It’s not a fun concept and it certainly doesn’t have a large appeal, but there is a reward. Matthew 10:22 says, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

God says you will certainly be the black sheep and you will definitely stick out like a sore thumb but you will be saved.

When we walk with God our job is to be the light of the world as it says in Matthew 5:14-16. We are to let our light shine before others so that they may see the good works of our father, and allow Him to receive His deserved glory.

We should be consecrated

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds.”

I want you to think of it this way. Imagine the largest highway that you’ve seen or heard of. Now, imagine everyone is walking in the same direction on that highway. Now, imagine a few walking the opposite direction.

Immagine the repercussions for those few.

“You’re going the wrong way.”

“Idiots.”

“Can’t you see we are all headed this way?”

You would look crazy and most people will never understand why you’re going against the grain.

You will stand out, but you’ll refuse to become a friend of the world. And, James 4:4 says that if you want to be friends with the world, then you make yourself an enemy of God.

Once again, a great reason to be the black sheep.

Please God, not people

One of the most important things to remember when learning to walk with God is to know who you’re trying to please.

This one is hard for me at times. I don’t do a service project or something for God initially to receive a thank you. But, sometimes I find myself discouraged when I don’t feel like the people I am serving appreciate the service, or when I don’t see the fruits of my labor.

Galatians 1:10 says, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Seeking the approval of man is exhausting. People are disappointing and they will let you down. But, God never will and nothing sticks out more than someone who sticks with it even when they normally wouldn’t.

So, what are you waiting for? Break the mold and stick out. Be remembered for going against the grain instead of being just another face in the crowd.

 

 

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A lady walked 500 miles… in place.

I am ADHD

“Oh! I’m running to your arms. I’m running to your arms…”

I find myself lost in the words of Forever Reign. I’m having a great worship experience, and then the lady in front of me starts moving. She steps slightly back in forth like she is walking in place.

I’ve talked about it before, but as you all may know I’m super ADHD.

So, what do I do? I start counting her steps. One. Two. Three. Four….

When she gets up to 15 I’m so distracted that I start singing, “And I would walk 500 miles…” at the tempo of her marching that’s taking place.

Out of the corner of my eye, I notice that a boy is on his phone. I stand on the tips of my toes to get higher to see if I can see what he is playing. After a few attempts, I notice I’m disrupting the people next to me because I’m leaning over. I do a casual head nod and look back at the stage.

When did we switch songs?

How old are the guitarists shoes?

Did he get a haircut?

Woah, there’s a new family in the back. I wonder if they are nice. They seem nice.

I should probably face forward again.

What’s in my pocket. Lint? Washed receipt? Play it cool Isaiah; just leave it in your pocket and throw it away after church.

Man, I just realized I’m very thirsty. I look around for the nearest water fountain. BINGO!

Wait, everyone is bowing their head. Oh no, we are praying.

Just like that, the worship session is over.

Maybe you’re like me and find yourself distracted. Or, maybe you just find it hard to worship in general. Here are two ways to help you worship through singing.

How to worship through singing

1) Focus Your Mind’s Attention

Why do we worship?

We worship to praise, honor, glorify, and please God! After all, God’ grace provided us with a way into Heaven through His Son, Jesus. This has allowed us to escape the bondage of sin.

So, if we humble ourselves, as it says in James 4:6 we are shown favor because “God opposes the proud but gives favor to the humble.”

By humbling ourselves we praise, honor, glorify, and please God at the same time. So how can we do this better? We can do this by focusing our mind’s attention.

Have you ever actually listened to all the words to a worship song? Have you thought about the meaning?

These are ways to focus your mind’s attention. Oftentimes the songs we are singing are packed full of scripture straight out of the Bible or represent the very nature or good qualities of God Himself.

By focusing on the words and the meaning, we can begin to dive into a genuine and intimate worship session.

2) Focus Your Heart’s Affection

Colossians 3:1 says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

Because of what Christ has done for us, we should yearn to love and appreciate God. Our hearts should cry out to glorify Him for everything He has done.

When we sing to God, it is a way to show our gratitude for it all. So, one way to worship through singing would be to remember this. Remember the cross and what it signifies.

Tying it All Together

When Kristian and I first got married I was on fire for her (I still am, of course, but I’m attempting to throw in an anecdote that sets up an analogy, so hang in there).

I paid attention to all the details. I listened to everything she had to say from what she liked and disliked to her favorite books. I loved the way she smelled. I loved everything about her.

I showed her the evidence of that love through things like praising her and buying her flowers. Or, by listening to her or opening her car door. I appreciated everything about her and couldn’t get enough of her.

In the same way, we are the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25–27). We should seek out to know God in every way possible.

What does He like and dislike?

What is His character?

How can I please Him?

By doing this, we can begin to desire and yearn to worship Him through focusing our minds attention and our hearts affection.

 

Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
preserve my life according to your word.

-Psalm 119:36-37

I like to stew…

My Perception:

So, I’m playing basketball and I go up for a layup and out of nowhere I get fouled unnecessarily and it starts. I begin to stew. Everything from this point on changes.

What’s this person’s deal?

Leads to…

Did this person do it on purpose?

Leads to…

He must have done it on purpose.

Leads to…

I bet he’s going to do it again.

Leads to…

This guy must not like me.

From this point on I begin to see things differently. After the game is over the guy sits next to some of his friends and starts laughing. I instantly start thinking he’s laughing at me and telling them that he fouled me on purpose or he’s planning to do it again.

The guy gets up and walks back on the court and makes eye contact and nods. I lose it because he’s trying to intimidate me. He must be letting me know that I’m going down.

Reality:

A guy sees that I am going to do a layup and attempts to stop me and, in the process, he accidentally fouls me. He plays the rest of the game completely unaware that I am angry. After the game, he goes and sits by his friends where they start telling jokes and messing with each other. He gets back up and walks back to the court and nods to say what’s up to me.

Leave stewing to the pots

Okay, that’s corny. I’m too young for corny dad jokes, but I had to. I feel like we have all been here in some way, shape, form, or fashion. Maybe someone cuts you off while driving (I’ve talked about road rage before here), or someone says something catty to you, or someone steals the parking spot that you were waiting for.

There’s a term for all of this called the Ladder of Inference (You can read about it here). Here is how it works. It starts with a reality that is skewed by your own selected reality. From here it goes to how you interpret this reality and then to the assumptions you make about it. This leads to your conclusion about the reality which leads to your beliefs. Finally, your beliefs lead to your actions.

Long story short, you make assumptions about a situation and right or wrong it leads to some form of action.

There is a perfect example of this in the Bible. In the book of Job, Job’s friend saw the reality that Job was suffering and incorrectly assumed that it was a result of Job’s sin or disobedience to God.

Proverbs 25:8 (NASB) says, “Do not go out hastily to argue your case; Otherwise, what will you do in the end when your neighbor humiliates you?”

It’s easy to get caught up in anger when we are assuming the worst in people. But, what happens when we assume the best in people? Well, I, for one, can tell you that it is definitely less exhausting.

Proverbs18:2 says,”A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”

So, here is your challenge for the week:

1) Pray and practice to see the best in people

Delight in wisdom and not your own mental tomfoolery. Assume the best in people and make truth your selected reality.

2) Pray for patience and understanding.

James 1:19 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this; Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

Take time to try and understand the person and situation you are in.

 

 

 

P.S. If you pray for patience be ready to be put into situations where your patience will be tested. #goodluck

I have totally blown it…

Facepalming.jpg

I’ve messed up more than I’d like to admit.

It’s a funny cycle. I do great, I get in a groove, and I find it easy to trust, follow, and obey God’s Word. Then, I blow it. It may be something minor it may be something major, but the result is the same. I end up being at odds with God.

The problem is I don’t always like to face the music. I’ll either ignore what happened or, I’ll become dangerously numb.

Have you been here before? What is one to do when they blow it?

There’s a perfect example of this in the Bible. You may have heard it before. It’s the story of David and Bathsheba.

Here are some of the important points that you should know:

  • David saw Bathsheba bathing and didn’t look away
  • David inquired about Bathsheba and ignored the fact that she was married
  • He sent for her and committed adultery with her.
  • He committed conspiracy to commit murder
  • He had Uriah (Bathsheba’s husband) and several other innocent people killed

David totally and utterly blew it. There’s no way around it. He lusts in his heart, becomes an adulterer, and becomes a murderer in a blink of an eye.

So, what does David do when he found himself at odds with God? He turns to prayer. In fact, he documents it in Psalms 32,51,86, and 122.

Turning the ship around

I’d like to talk specifically about Psalm 51. I like how the chapter is laid out, and I think it provides a perfect narrative of what we as Christian’s should do, feel, and talk to God about when we find ourselves at odds with God.

(If you want to read Psalm 3251 , 86, or 122. Click on the number and you can read all of David’s passionate prayers.)

Here are four things you should do when you feel like you have blown it.

Ask for Mercy

God is a good God. David was a smart man. He knew his God, and he knew Him well. Although he couldn’t understand it, he knew God was a God of mercy. And, although this idea of mercy and grace is a complete and utter mystery, David hung onto this truth and asked the God of the universe for mercy from his stupidity.

The first thing David did was turn helplessly to God for mercy and in the same way, we should look to Christ helplessly for mercy.

Acknowledge your Sins

A lot of times we like to minimize the extent of our failures through comparing or from becoming numb to sin altogether.

“Yea, I sinned, but at least I didn’t do something as bad as Jeffery did.”

Or another one, “It was just once, at least I don’t do it that often.”

David doesn’t react this way. He takes the sole responsibility; He uses no excuses or scapegoats. He finds no one at fault for what happened except for himself.

Asked to be Cleansed

So now that David has asked for mercy and has acknowledged his sin, he asks to be cleansed. He asks to be fully forgiven and to have his transgressions against him to be blotted out.

In the same way, we go to Christ for our forgiveness because He has bought it with His blood. It doesn’t mean that we just stop asking. But rather we use it as a basis for us asking altogether because we know that, because of Christ, the answer will be YES!

Ask for a Pure Heart

Lastly, David prays to become pure.I love this part because he doesn’t stop at mercy, acknowledgment, cleansing, and repeat his sin. He goes the full circle and asks the Holy Spirit to continue to change him.

He doesn’t just want to be forgiven; He wants to grow and be used to help others know God.

Knowing God is great, but making Him known is just as important, and David realizes this. So, he asks for a pure heart to stay away from the wickedness so that he may lead people to the Savior through his mistakes.

Don’t let your mistakes or your mishaps define you. Ask for mercy, acknowledge your sin, asked to be cleansed, and ask for a pure heart today and allow God to use your mistakes and mishaps for Him.

 

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