Weird-God’s Way

Last week you learned the difference between being a Christian and being a disciple.  A disciple is an apprentice of Jesus and follows His teachings.  It’s a person that lives their life as He would in order to become a world changer.  Some of His teachings were weird and cause you to give up on the normal things in life, but it’s good to be weird in a God kind of way.  When God points you in a direction, you can feel it in your heart.  As you continue your walk with God, you will discover the unique goals and callings that He has for you.  It’s all right to be different and it actually makes you more attractive to others.

Pastor Michael read from Matthew 7:13-14 which tells us to enter through the narrow gate.  Many of us take the broad road and enter through the wide gate that leads to destruction.  Pastor Michael called this the highway to hell.  The road that leads to life is narrow and the gate is small allowing only a few to find it.  In todays society the road to destruction includes feeling stressed, overwhelmed, rushed, working at a job you dislike, living in debt and having relationship tension.  A cookie cutter Christian takes the wide road and often lives without direction.  It’s easy to follow the crowd and do what everyone else is doing.  A disciple takes the narrow road.  It’s hard to do the right thing, but if you listen you will hear God’s calling for you.

If you don’t want to be like everyone else and have what they have, then you have to change how you think.  How you think right now is the future you.  Pastor Michael gives three rules of thumb to make that happen.  The first is to stop thinking like normal people think.  What drives who you are?  How do you use your time, money and the people in your life?  Unless you have decided to be weird, you are normal.  If you fix your attention on God, you will change from the inside out.  The second point is to stop living like normal people live.  Do you go with the flow and do what everyone else does?  Do you drag the past around with you or do you live in freedom as your sins have been forgiven?  Being weird goes against our culture and is hard to understand.  That leads to the third point, which is the need to please.  The biggest obstacle to living a weird life can be summed up by the letters WWPT.  That stands for what would people think?  That kind of mindset will cause you to forget what God thinks.

When you choose to live life God’s way, the outside world will not understand you.  This involves making God a priority and adopting His teachings.  As you leave normal behind, your gifts will come out.  Isn’t it time to embrace the unique weird that God has for you?

The Movement-I Am Disciple

During this sermon series we have learned that being a part of the movement of Jesus goes beyond attending a church building or belonging to a certain denomination. We also learned that in order to be like Jesus, we have to be full of grace and truth.  That gray area can be messy at times.  People tend to label themselves in this movement based on ideas of who we are and what we believe.  Those labels cause people to feel that in order to be part of a church they have to fit in exactly with their ideas.  Each denomination thinks that they are the only “church”.   What it actually boils down to is your personal relationship with Jesus.

So what does it really mean to be a Christian?  Everyone has a different answer to that question.  The word Christian only appears three times in the Bible.  The followers of Jesus did not call themselves Christians.  That was a label placed on them by outsiders.  It basically means that anything goes and you can believe whatever you want.  Since the Bible gives no clear definition, things can be taken out of context in an effort to prove that your beliefs are right.

There is one term in the Bible that is used to describe the movement of Jesus and it has a clear definition.  That term is disciple.  To be a disciple, you are not only a follower of Jesus, but also a pupil.  You are a life long learner.  You live your life by asking the question “what would Jesus do in this situation?”  Being a Christian means following what other people do or say based on their interpretation of right and wrong.  Being a disciple means following what Jesus taught in order to become a world changer and light for those who need it.

During His deathbed speech, Jesus told His disciples the principle He wanted to build His movement on.  Jesus gave a new command stating you are to love as I have loved you.  How you love is the difference between being a Christian or a disciple.  It’s hard to love people who hate you, disrespect you or don’t love you back.  Jesus did it.  The best way to be a part of His movement is to love.  Being a disciple involves seeing yourself through His eyes and how He would want you to live your life.  It’s about taking baby steps and learning as you go.  It’s about following Jesus no matter what and giving your life to something that is so much bigger than you.  Don’t continue to live your life hiding behind a label.  Are you going to be a Christian or a disciple?

Noel’s Mission Trip to Tijuana Mexico

Noel LeVasseur shared with FBC the experience he had while on his first mission trip. He was presented an opportunity to partner with Calvary Four Square Church to help a family that lost everything in a fire. Since Noel had some construction experience, he felt he would be a good addition. He prayed about it and decided to go. There were 11 people on the team and they were able to build a house for this family from start to finish in four days, minus the plumbing. The members of the team varied in age, but they bonded and worked well together.

One of the things that stood out to Noel was how proud the people of Tijuana are. They live in extreme poverty, but they do not beg for money. At stoplights they will try to sell you a bottle of water, a flower or offer to wash your windshield. They use scraps of paper for business cards to write the information of what they can offer you, so they can get paid for their service. It made Noel think of how we live in such a privileged country and take so many things for granted. Americans tend to have the “how can you help me?” mentality instead of the “how can I help others by serving God?” mindset.

Noel also realized how important family is to the people of Tijuana. The family, including the children, participated in the building of the house. They stayed strong even during difficult times. Flora was one of their children that helped everyday. She even made each member of the team a heart out of the scrap electrical wire to show how connected she was to the team. The father gave the key to Flora so she could be the first to open the door to their new house for the dedication feast. That was a special moment for Noel.

Noel attended church while on his mission trip. It was a modest building, but they had a band and televisions like FBC. The pastor had great energy and preached in Spanish and English. Noel felt comfortable and that he was in a place that was judgment free, much like being at FBC. The pastor’s sermon included the same clip from the Gladiator movie that Pastor Michael played during a sermon when Noel first started attending FBC. Noel knew that God was speaking to him. God was letting him know that He would always be there for him no matter where in the world he was. Noel has realized what it means to serve God and the reward that is felt from doing so. This experience was very powerful. There are so many ways that we can serve God. It’s not about us, but about how we can help others. Remember, what we do in life echoes in eternity.

Thank you so much Noel for giving FBC this incredible testimony.

Mirror, Mirror-Offended

Pastor Michael concluded his mirror, mirror series about self-reflection. Do you see yourself as God’s masterpiece, feeling loved and treasured by Him or do you see failure, negativity and inadequacy? How you view yourself affects your relationships with others, as does being easily offended. To be a Christian you need a thick skin and a soft heart. You need to be a positive world changer and a light for others. You can’t do that if you take everything personally and are unable to let things bounce off you. If you are easily offended and overly critical, it may be difficult to let people get close to you. You may feel that life has been unfair so you try to protect yourself from getting hurt again. That kind of mind set causes you to be anchored in the past. In order to be anchored in your future, you need to be open to relationships and know that God has a plan for you.

Pastor Michael explained that you have two choices. You can let words go or you can let words offend you. He told the story of a Gentile woman who asked Jesus for a miracle and because she chose not to be offended, had her request granted. She sacrificed her pride and invested in the relationship. She wanted Jesus to heal her daughter so badly that she chose not to let His comments destroy the relationship. In your quest to prove that you are right, you often choose to be offended. That kind of response will deteriorate your relationships from the inside out. People are not perfect and deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt. By choosing to be humble, kind and patient you can build strong relationships.

Words are like arrows as they are aimed for a specific target. There are people in this world that deliberately try to hurt you. In those situations you should put up your shield and distance yourself from that person. Most of the time words are just being tossed around and are harmless. If you let words bounce off you and go about your day giving people a chance, then you are emulating Christ. If you misinterpret someone’s words, then you are grabbing that arrow and sticking into your heart yourself. People text and e-mail things all the time that can be subject to interpretation. If you never take the time to ask that person what they really meant, you could be cutting off a relationship for no reason. Most of the time people are not trying to be offensive. You can choose offense or you can choose relationships, but you can’t have it both ways.

Mirror – Need For Approval

Do you worry about what others think?  Do you take criticism personally?  Do you have a difficult time saying no?  If you answered yes to those questions then it is likely that your self-worth comes from pleasing others instead of God.  There are many people in your life ranging from parents, friends, spouses and bosses that all want something different from you.  If your self-worth comes from striving to make all of those people happy, then you will lose who you are in the process.  You may smile and say yes on the outside, but on the inside you are building bitterness and resentment.  When you allow yourself to be pulled in several different directions by other people then you are limiting your ability to lead.  You will be unable to make tough decisions because someone will be unhappy with you.

You have the power to be who you want.  You will miss out on what God thinks and is trying to do in your life if you are always caught up in seeking the approval of others.  Pastor Michael suggests remembering these two statements to avoid falling into the people pleasing trap.  The first is to focus on pleasing God and not other people.  God is your identity and He should be front and center in your life.  The people you are trying to please are taking the place of God.  If you focus on pleasing God and allow Him to flow through you, you will bless more people than by just trying to be nice.  When you try to please everyone you are setting yourself up for failure.  God approves of you every single time and is still proud of you even when others say they aren’t.

The second statement is to walk in God’s approval not peoples.  When you aim to please others you often feel that everyone will see how hard you are working so they will have to acknowledge your efforts.  You are only happy if you receive that approval and become down on yourself if you do not.  If you base your self-worth on the approval of others, then what happens when they change their mind?  This becomes a journey of always seeking and never finding.  People do not know you like God knows you and they do not know your gifts.  When you validate yourself through the approval of others you sacrifice your time, feelings and often feel inadequate.  The result is burn out and never being able to feel what God has in store for you.

Remember that the quickest way to forget what God thinks about you is to worry about what other people think about you.  You can’t please everyone, but you can please God.