- law: God’s guidance
- rod: God’s favor
- jar: God’s provision
And that’s we go to church for. That’s what we get from God by seeking Him:
And that’s we go to church for. That’s what we get from God by seeking Him:
My gifting was not appreciated by anyone in high school. I wasn’t that smart, wasn’t athletic, wasn’t socially adept. What was I? I was overly sensitive. In high school being overly sensitive is not a good thing because you’re no good at the interchange of crass teasing that especially goes on among boys.
I actually thought I lacked a special trait.
Then I discovered my call: to pastor, to be a missionary. And being very sensitive (to God and to others) was a premium. But when I was a kid and took aptitude tests designed to surface giftings, nothing registered.
Comparisons are the worst because God made you absolutely unique. This uniqueness is reflected in your fingerprints, in your DNA, in your emotional makeup, in your interests and passions. It flouts comparison. To compare yourself to others is to ignore your God-given talents.
There is only one you on te planet. God made you special to do something nobody else will do. Only you can get the job done. It’s pointless to desire somebody else’s job. ?God didn’t design you for that.
It’s an insult to God to wish to be someone different, to have their beauty, their intellect or their wit. If you are young, take it easy on yourself. Don’t criticize yourself harshly. Wait and see what comes of your life. Strive to do well in everything but don’t panic if others do better in you in many areas. Because in one area, you’re going to blow them away. That’s where you’re a winner.
No critic was severer of me than me.
Virtually friendless in high school, I lacked confidence and avoided the risks that would lead me to success. But through the years, I have fundamentally changed (though not totally). Here’s how:
1. Discover your unique giftings. Eventually I discovered that I did have strengths and gifts, though these were not appreciated by anyone or registered by any test designed to show strengths. This is a Biblical truth: God has NOT made person void of some talent.
Just like parts of a car, you can’t do without even one of them. The car will break down. Each part is critical to proper functioning. Through the years, I saw that I was no exception to this rule. I was valuable and realized God made me with special giftings for my special calling.
Critics may focus your deficiencies. They are blind to your abilities. Too much attention paid to other people can deflate your self-esteem.
2. Turn around the toxic environment wisely, as best you can. It’s downright discouraging being surrounded by people who drag you down. What can you do? Appeal to your family members to look at positives more than negatives.
I turned around the nay-saying non-family by repeating back to them what they were saying to me. When someone criticized me, I criticized me in the same way. And they were horrorized to hear my self-criticism. It was as if I raised up a mirror to their faces, and they saw how ugly it was what they were doing. They stopped.
3. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Accept yourself for who you are. If people don’t like the fact that I’m sensitive, that’s fine. I’m not going to pretend to be something different. If they don’t like it, then I’ll look for friend elsewhere. Find friends who appreciate you for what you are.
These lessons of life came to the surface with my recent participation in a basketball tournament at the school where I teach. Basketball is not my game, so I tried to get out of it. But my friend, Zach, really wanted me — because he’s a true friend, not because he wanted to win.
Would you believe we wound up winning the tournament. I didn’t believe I had talents for basketball but I used what I had, and Zach did the rest. I’m learning to be less of a self-critic.
When Pastor Zach asked me to be on his team, I refused. “You don’t want to lose,” I warned him. Apparently, Zach wanted me because I was a friend. I help him do the cleaning around the church. So we called our basketball team “Lighthouse Cleaning Crew” in the Lighthouse Christian Academy spirit week tournament 3-on-3. And we won!
Some lessons emerge:
1. Believe in yourself — and in a friend. I thought we were going to be knocked out in the first round, and we weren’t. By the championship, I was nervous. Probably sensing the pressure mounting on me, he told me, “Here’s our strategy: Relax and have fun.”
2. Play your strengths. More of a nerd than an athlete, I didn’t think I had much to offer. I’m not in shape. But I’m tall. If I defended in the key, I could jump and grab rebounds. If I came out of the key, I got tired and didn’t jump well.
3. Analyze and adapt. We shut down our competition by blunting his strength. Michael Moore was fast and produced some eye-blurring fakes. No other team had been able to frustrate his left lay-ups. But I realized that Michael, a leftie, only drove to the left. On the right, his effectiveness was much lower. In the game, we limited Michael to outside shots, some of which he made, but fewer than he would have, had he penetrated the key.
Too often the church misses the opportunity to play its strengths. One of the worst things that can happen to any church is to bad-mouth deficiencies. At the same time, we fail to see, promote and exploit the positives. LCA is a school of 50, so I know what I’m talking about.
Too often the church follows an antiquated model. We place ads in the yellow pages in the age of the internet. What worked for the man of God in the past may not work today. If Zach and I had played the same in the last game as the first, we would have lost. But we analyzed and adapted and beat “the stronger team.”
And this is how the nerd, who never really got picked for sports teams before, wound up a winner.
But we take no heed to the danger of negative or sinful thoughts. The Bible says, “Take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ.” If the direction of your thought life is toward depression, low self esteem, drugs or some other negative, take the steering wheel away from the devil and direct your thoughts towards positive things.
Thank you for your prayers.
More than 40 people were healed miraculously. Pastor Charlie Forman has an anointing for praying for the sick. A lady with stage-4 pancreatic cancer got up and went to her daughter’s wedding. A lady with a walker doesn’t need her walker. One leg grew out 3 inches. A 75-year-old with back pain got down on the floor and did three pushups to check if he was in fact healed.
We played soccer and enjoyed the best of Guatemala cuisine (beans and rice with Jesus Christ forever! oh, and they gave me some tasty cinnamon buns.).
The best thing was just the sense I got that 16 years of labor were not in vain. There are people who thank me for changing the direction of their lives. People are still getting saved.
It makes me want to keep going for Jesus.
At the time, I had no idea that Tom* smoked pot. He just seemed like the sweetest kid. He fervently loved God. He even sponsored a friend to go to camp. At Q300, such “fruit” showed genuineness.
I had no idea of the tempest swirling in his background. The only sign of trouble was that quickly a room-renter in his house complained of being robbed. The amount? Q300.
It seemed clear to me who stole it because the amounts were precise. What was weird was that the money was not used for self.
Not long after, I fled organized criminals in Guatemala after almost 16 years of missionary work. I tried to eke out a life in the States and find meaningful ministry. After being away for four years, I visited the church and school we had pioneered with my wife.
Tom tracked me down to thank me. He gave me his testimony. He had been smoking weed when he came to our school, and God had challenged him to come out of a lot of confusion. I didn’t ask about the Q300 though. I forgot.
He had heard I was back in Guatemala, and he personally came to thank me. Praise God for what preaching the gospel can do. Next time you sponsor someone to camp, Tom, it has be your own money.
* Name changed.
Christopher Hitchens couldn’t get by without alcohol. He said it helped him cope with boring people. I guess pretty much everybody in his life was boring. He was too intelligent. Why is heroized?
I find exquisite joy in saving souls. I have no need for chemical-induced happiness. Elder is the latest.
When I went to Guatemala, he pretty much came to every service, outreach and discipleship. This is new for him.
Typically, the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta yielded one soul for year. By some measure, that’s pretty slim harvest, a gargantuan amount of work for just one soul out of a school of 150 kids. But if you consider that the one soul each year stays through all the years, it’s not bad. It’s not easy to save souls, even in Guatemala.
But now things seem to be picking up. Elder wasn’t the only one. There were three or four kids coming into the fold.
Before my atheist friends rankle, keep in mind that he who comes to church gets out of drugs, alcoholism, wife-beating, marital unfaithfulness, and — frequently — poverty as well.
It is exquisite joy to see all that. The Bible says that all the angels in Heaven have a party — for just one soul. Me too.