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Showing posts with label Different. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Different. Show all posts

Monday, October 23, 2017

Sound Different

Introduction
            I will never forget the first time I said "I love you" to Kelly.  She was only 16 and I was 18.  We'd only been dating for a short time.  I walked her to her door after on of our date and said good night and then it just came out, "I love you."  I said ti as much out of habit as anything (that's the what we said when we told each other good night in my childhood family).  There was an awkward pause... and Kelly did not reciprocate.
            Back in the car on the drive home, I was kicking myself.  Why did I say that?  It wasn't appropriate because we hadn't been dating long enough and I didn't really mean it; it just slipped out.  When I got to my house, the phone rang and it was Kelly.  She said, "I think I should explain why I didn't say I love you back.  Those are very important words to me and I don't use them lightly.  I think you should really know that you love someone before you tell them "I love you.""
            Now that sounded different--so much more mature and honest than most 16-year-old girls I knew at the time.  And it impressed me that Kelly had a deeper understanding of love and was willing to stand up for what she believed in and to call me and explain.
            Well, we are supposed to sound different than the world.  You see, long ago, God chose you to be holy different--to think different, to act different, to look different, and to sound different.  How You Sound--what you say--is serious business.  Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences."  Proverbs 15:4 says, "Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit."  And Proverbs 12:18 says, "Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing."  And listen to what Jesus said about the power of what holy people say. 

Mark 11:22-25
22 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. 23 I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. 24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. 25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”

In the Passage, Jesus Implies 3 Ways Holy People Will Sound Different.
            First, holy people have faith to speak and move mountains. Holy people use their words to change lives and change the world. In the 1960s, Martin Luther King, Jr. looked around and found a world full of racial discrimination and segregation. It seemed like an impossible mountain to move, but King knew it was not right and he was a Christian leader, a holy man. So King began to speak and what he said sounded different from everyone else. He urged non-violent protest. He spoke about how segregation and racial bigotry was hurtful not just black people, but also to white people and oppressors. King preached that we all need healing--even those who are mistreating others.
            Holy people don't just sound different when they speak out on momentous social justice issues.  Mountains are moved in small ways every day.  David Crawford is the music minister of our church.  Not only is he talented, but he also has a Christ-like attitude that blesses so many people in so many ways.  David started attending my church decades ago when Tom Dickson invited him to come.  Tom's invitation was just a small thing, but it has made a world of difference for everyone David blesses at my church is linked to Tom's invitation.
            Holy people pray.  Philippians 4:6 says, "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done."  When others get made, get sad, get worried, get discouraged, holy people pray.  Negative emotions produce more negative emotions.  Worry and stress produce more worry and stress.  Everyone gets to talking and dwelling on their worries and stress and all the negative emotions just get worse and more intense.  But holy people sound different.  Holy people pray and God gives them peace.  And peace gives birth to more peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers…”
            Holy People forgive.  When Jesus was hanging on the cross, he looked down at the soldier gambling for his clothes and said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)  Holy people sound different because they forgive.
            On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof gunned down 9 Christians in a church in Charleston, SC.  The relatives of the slain had a chance to speak directly to the gunman at his first court appearance. One by one, those who chose to speak did not turn to anger. Somehow—by the grace and power of God—they were able to speak life even in the presence of the man who brought death to their loved ones.  [i]Nadine Collier, the daughter of 70-year-old Ethel Lance, said at the hearing, her voice breaking with emotion. “I forgive you,” she told him. “You took something very precious away from me. I will never get to talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you, and have mercy on your soul. … You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. If God forgives you, I forgive you.”
            Forgiveness sounds different. It brings healing—first of all to you. Bitterness will poison you from the inside out. Holding a grudge will tear you apart and damage all your other relationships.   Forgiveness helps you heal and move on to the brighter future God want to give you.


Are You Ready to Sound Different?
            Thankfully, most of us will never experience the tragedy of our loved ones being gunned down in a church prayer meeting.  But there are still some practical things that everyone can do to sound different than the world.  First of all, get in the Word f God.  Your conversations are not scripted.  They are spontaneous.  It's not practically to measure every word you're going to say and how you say it.  Most of what you say just comes from your heart.  Jesus said, "What you say flows from what is in your heart." (Luke 6:45).  So fill your heart with God's Word.  Dig into the Bible so that you are more and more like Christ in your heart.  Then everything you say will flow from your Christ-like heart and you will sound different and holy.
            Second, refuse to use abusive or vulgar language.  Don't try to tear people down in order to make yourself feel better or right.  There is already too much of that going on in our world.  Holy people should sound different.  Refrain from cutting remarks or trolling on Facebook.  Refuse to gossip or talk about people behind their backs.  Instead of texting or emailing, call or visit and talk to people directly. 
            Third, encourage people with love and grace.  Be kind.  Be positive.  The world has enough negativity and darkness.  Sound different.  Speak light, not darkness.  Speak life, not death.
            Fourth, use your words to invite people to church.  People need to be in the church.  We need Jesus and we need each other.  The Church is the place Jesus chose for his holy people to gather.  Let us gather as many here as we can. 
            Some will say, "But I've already asked everyone I know."  Jesus told a parable about that--the parable of the great banquet.  A master sent his servants to invite people to a great banquet.  One by one, all the guests made excuses why they couldn't come.  So the master sent his servants out saying, "Go out into the highways and byways and compel everyone you can so that my banquet may be full.”  It may be that the people you are asking just don't feel they need to be in church.  But there are many others out there who realize they're in desperate need.  So go.  Invite them!  They may be different from you, but different is OK.  Jesus loves different.  In fact, God chose us all to be different and holy.  So build some relationships with different people.  Invite them to lunch.  Get to know them.  And invite them to church.
            Are you Ready to Sound Different?  Good!  Because God wants you to be holy different--to think different, to act different, to look different, to sound different, to be different.  You are His holy people, a royal priesthood set apart for His special purposes to go into all the world and make disciples of Jesus Christ to build His Kingdom.  Amen.


[i] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/06/17/forgiving-dylann-roof-is-taking-a-heavy-toll-on-those-left-behind-but-theyre-not-giving-up/?utm_term=.411ff81dd2f0

Monday, October 2, 2017

Think Different

Introduction
            Long ago God chose you to be holy and different.  Have you ever noticed that all the heroes of the Bible were a little different?  Some might say, they were a little off or weird; they were definitely different.  Noah built an ark out in the middle of dry land.  Can you imagine what his neighbors thought when he build the biggest boat they'd ever seen and there wasn't anywhere to sail it?  Abraham took his only son up on top of Mt. Moriah to sacrifice him, because "God told him to."  That's just crazy!  King David got so excited when he was bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, he started dancing so hard and worshiping God his clothes came off.  He embarrassed his wife and she had to scold him for exposing himself and not being dignified like a king should be.  david was different; his heart was different.  He loved God more than his own dignity.  The prophet Ezekiel ate a biblical scroll and said it tasted as sweet as honey!  That's different! 
            Jesus was the most different of all.  He is the divine son of God.  If He was going to be born on earth, he should have been born in the most majestic palace or temple with the most important people in the world gathered around, but he did things different.  He decided to be born in a manger with cows and sheep and shepherds gathered around.  The Son of God cae to change the world and he had the power to do it all by himself, but he instead he chose 12 mortal men to help him do it.  I would have chose the 12 most gifted, smartest, powerful, influential people in the world to help me, but Jesus did something different.  Instead of picking the best and brightest , he pick a bunch of smelly fishermen, a collaborator, and a terrorist determined to kill collaborators!  Peter was a bragger. Thomas was a doubter. James and John were a manipulators. And Judas was a betrayer!
            And instead of conquering his enemies by force, Jesus chose to be different—he let them crucify him on a cross and he forgave them.  And then he said to his rag tag team of disciples, “Alright boys, you know what to do.  Go change the world.”  And today, Christianity is the largest religion on the face of the earth!  Apparently God sees things different than we do and He has a thing for people who are different.  God wants you to be different! Don’t you want to be different?  
 
Romans 12:1-3 (Emphasis added)

1And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
 
God Chose You to Think Different
            Let me first point out a few key insights about this passage that we need to hear.  First, don’t copy the world.  The world has a way of doing things and ideas about right and wrong, but we don't pattern ourselves after the world.  We should be different. 
            The Amish people seem to take this verse to heart.  They very literally choose to be different and reject the innovations of modern society.  They dress in old-fashioned clothes, refuse to use TVs or cell phones, and even still ride in horse and buggies.  I admire their dedication to being different, but I don't think that's how God wants us to be different.  The passage says let God change the way you think.
            We may dress like everyone else in the world, use modern technology, and do many similar things as everyone else, but God has changed the way we think.  And when you think different, you have a different attitude and you do things for a different reason and you will often act different.
            And finally, I want to point out the passage says, "Don’t think you are better than anyone
else—evaluate yourself honestly..."  I love the way the Word instructs us on this because it addresses to ends of the same spectrum.  There are some people who arrogant and conceited, who think they are "all that and a bag of chips."  To them the Word warns, "Don't think you are better than anyone else."  If you're full of pride or look down on others, you need to change the way you think.  But there are others who struggle with low self-esteem.  And the Word addresses that too.  It says, "Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us." God made you and God doesn't make junk.  You are special.  God's fingerprints are all over you.  So let God change the way you think.


Three Ways We Need to Think Different:
            I want to give you three ways we need to let God change the way we think.  First, stop thinking this world we see is all there is.  This world is an amazing place and it's full of wonders.  We are blessed to be able to enjoy this life, but there is more going on than just what we see.  In fact, this lifem this world, is not what it's all about.  We are tempted to think that because it's all we see right now.  However, the Word teaches us there is more.  There is a spiritual battle going on behind the scenes we can't see.  Eternity hangs in the balance.  There Life to come when this life is over.  And the rewards of this life aren't that important when measured in the scales of Eternity.  So, as the old hymn says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of of his glory and grace.”  Stop thinking this world, this life, is all there is.
            Second, stop thinking this life is more important than the Life to come.  Since this current life is all we've known and is what's immediately pressing in upon us, we get so wrapped up in it's joys and concerns.  Have you ever thought about this when we are praying about those who are sick?  Suppose we pray for someone who has terminal cancer and God's miraculously, unexplainably heals them.  (The cancer was there one day and gone the next.)  We would praise God and be so happy!  But what was really achieved?  That healing--at best--is only temporary.  Even if they live 40 or 50 years more without any other traces of cancer, then they will still die.  Everyone in this life dies.  The True Healing comes when they are resurrected in Eternal Life.  And a million years fro now, when we are praising God on that Golden Shore, no one will give a second thought to the few measly years we lived in this fallen world or the joys or sorrows we faced here.  All the things we spend so much time fretting over will seem infinitely inconsequential. Romans 8:18 - “What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.”
            Some would say: “Yeah, but I want glory in this life and in the future one."  Why do you deserve that?  Do you think you are any better than the saints that have gone before you?  Think of those saints who suffered and died for Christ.  Think of Stephen in the book of Acts who was stoned to death simply because he preached about Jesus' death and resurrection.  What about the Disciple Peter who was crucified upside down or the Apostle Paul who was beheaded in Rome.  Do you deserve more rewards in this life than those protestant reformers who worked so hard to help the Church return to true faith in Christ and received as their only reward in this world to be hanged, drawn and quartered, burned at the stake, or drowned--simply because they believed what God said in the Bible more than what the Pope said in a corrupted church in Rome?  We need to change the way we think.
            And third, we need to stop thinking the rewards and consequences of what we do now are primarily realized in this life.  People ask, "Why do the wicked prosper?  Why do bad things happen to good people?"  First of all, I would say who is really good?  The Bible says, "No one is good.  Not a single one." (paraphrase of Romans 3:10).  We might think of someone who is especially good, but that's only because we are comparing them to ourselves.  But if we place them next to a holy God, all their imperfections and sins are immediately clear and we see they are far from "good."  
            Jesus said, "[God] sends rain on the just and the unjust alike." (Matthew 5:45)  And he also taught that we would have to wait until God's sorts out all the weeds from the wheat at the end of the age.  We have to accept that Some things will not be settled in this life.  Your faithfulness in this life may not be rewarded until you get to Heaven, but God will bring justice according to His perfect wisdom in eternity. 

Are You Ready to Think Different?
            Jesus changed the world—he changed eternity—by his death and resurrection.  Because He chose the cross instead of the sword, you can be forgiven, redeemed, healed and live different, holier life than you have been living before. Long ago, God chose you to be different and holy.  Chose to follow Jesus today and let His grace enable you to think different so that you will act different and be different.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Holy Different

Introduction
            I'm so proud of my son, Gavin.  He's never been afraid to stand out from the crowd.  He's always been smart--he graduated 3rd in his high school class.  He's independent.  He's attending the University of Alabama, Huntsville and doing well.  Last year, he used a bike to travel between classes across campus, but Gavin's never been afraid to be different.  This year, he decided to trade in his bike for a unicycle!  So if you're ever at UAH and you see a college kid riding a unicycle to class, it's probably my son!
            I want to talk to you today about being different.  Colonel Sanders wasn't afraid to be social security check was only $105. Instead of complaining, he did something different.  He thought restaurant owners would love his fried chicken recipe, use it, sales would increase, and he’d get a percentage of it. So, Sanders drove around the country knocking on doors, sleeping in his car, and wearing his white suit.  Can you imagine how strange people must have thought Sanders was?  They did.  His idea was rejected 1,009 times before someone finally said yes.  The rest is history.
different.  He was over 65-years-old before he became famous for fried chicken.  He got mad when his
            This blog is the first in a series called “Different”.  Did you know God wants us to be different than the rest of the world?

1 Peter 1:1-2 1This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.

I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.

May God give you more and more grace and peace.

Holy Different
            This passage tells us some important things about your relationship with God.  First of all He chose you.  It wasn't a mistake.  He made a deliberate decision and chose you on purpose.  And He chose you long ago.  If you're like me, you get so busy that days and weeks just seem to run together.  And as busy as we are, I don't know what you thought was going to happen today.  But thousands of years ago, God already knew you would be reading these words right here, right now.  And He chose you.  And lastly, this passage tells us that God's Spirit chose to make you holy; and that is the crux of this blog.
            We use the word holy a lot in the church, but what does it mean?  Holy means “set apart for the special, sacred purposes of God.”  Something that is holy is not to be used for unholy purposes(You don’t use a communion chalice for your morning coffee).  When you are holy, you are different.  When you are holy, you are special.  When you are holy, you stand out.  Diamonds are so valuable because they sparkle.  Diamonds are really just rocks, but they stand out from other ordinary rocks because of the way the catch and reflect light.  Like a diamond, you need to sparkle and shine for God.  Stop trying to blend in to the crowd. 

But I Don’t Want to Be Different…
            An interesting thing happens with most teenagers that causes their parents a lot of anxiety.  Doctors and psychologists tell us that teenagers are biologically engineered to start separating from their parents and create their own identity.  From the time they are babies to the age of about 13, most kids adore their parents and want to be just like them.  But then they become teenagers and start to pull away.  All of a sudden, they stop admiring their parents and start to think they are boring and old and uncool.  And parents often get so frustrated because it feels like their teenage kids are going off the deep end, rejecting everything they've worked so hard to teach them.  And this is natural, because teenagers are trying to establish their own identity apart from their parents.  They want to be individuals.
            Ironically, rather than becoming “individuals” with their own “separate” identities, teenagers most often try to be like all their friends.  They trade mimicking their parents for mimicking their friends.  They want to wear the clothes their friends wear, listen to their friends music, hang out with and act like their cool friends.  And this is a natural part of growing up and almost everyone goes through it to some degree.  It isn’t until teenagers mature a bit more--usually once they get into their 20s--that they really start to figure out who they are apart from anyone else and find their own individual identity. 
            Unfortunately, many people ever really grow out of the human desire to “fit in”.  Most people want to adhere to “social norms.”  We want to be in fashion, we want to "fit in" our community, we want to be accepted by everyone else.  Most people still define themselves in relation to others.  They want to "keep up with the Joneses."  What does that expression really mean?  It means you want what they have, because you think what "they" have is what you really want or need.  Very few people stop to think what they really want without regards to what other people have.  Even fewer stop to think about what God really wants for them and trust that what He wants is really best.
            I have been accused of being different--even weird.  I'm fascinated with science and experiments and a couple years ago I was at the beach in South Carolina with my extended family.  I was staring at the ocean wondering if I could distill some sea salt out of it.  And I thought, "I bet I can."  So I got an empty milk jug and washed is out and collected a gallon of sea water from the ocean.  I put it in a  pot on the stove back at our condo and boiled it down until there wasn't any water left; and lo and behold their was about a quarter cup of salt left in the bottom of the pan!  I was so proud as I showed it to all my uninterested relatives.  My brother-in-law, Joey, looked at me and said, "Chris.  Your weird."  Haha!  And said, "Hallelujah!" because I own it! I know I'm different.  That's how God made me and I'm learning more and more to just be who God made me, because God wants us to be different.  It's OK to be weird!

God wants us to be Different.
            Truitt Cathy was different and he founded a different kind of fast food restaurant.  He said, “We should be about more than just selling chicken. We should be a part of our customers’ lives and the communities in which we serve.”  Now, if you try to eat lunch after church at a Chick-fil-A, you will be disappointed, because they're always closed on Sunday.  You'll have to settle for something else.  Chick-fil-A makes a statement by being closed.  You can't help but see it.  Sunday afternoons is one of the busiest times of the week for a restaurant, but Chick-fil-A intentionally stays closed and you can't help but see it.  And you don't just see it on Sundays.  Go in there on a Monday when they're open and you get a sense of it too.  I mean, it's just a fast food restaurant like any other, but it's also different.  Something about the way they carry themselves and the way they serve and the way they take pride in what they do.  Chick-fil-A is different.  It's almost like they're holy.            In the Old testament, God chose the children of Israel to be his holy people.  He wanted them to be different, to stand out.  So he gave them all kinds of rules that would make them a separate, different people.  Resting on Sunday was one of those rules, but there were also rules about how to dress and what kind of food to eat.  And all these laws--though they were a burden to follow--marked the Israelites as a special, holy people.
            Things have changed for us since Jesus came, because Jesus made all food clean and said we are saved by grace and not by following rules.  But we are still supposed to be holy and different. People should be able to look at us and think, "They look like other people, but there's something different about them, something special."
            Jesus told us the most important way we would be so different.  In John 13:35, Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  Do you love people in different way?  A holy way?  God's way?

God Chose You, but Do You Choose God?

            Long ago, 1 Peter 1:2 tells us, God chose you to be holy.  How long before you humble yourself, bow down, and choose to follow God?  For when you choose God through faith in Jesus Christ, Peter says you, “have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.”  Then you are holy and forgiven and you will have more grace and peace.  People will begin to see you are Holy Different and you will live a Holy and Different life, a better life, and you will have eternal life. And you will know you are loved and your will love people like Jesus loves.   Are you ready?  Make the decision to be Holy Different today!