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Learning to be Different Together

A new church in our neighborhood has a sign out front that I think has such a good message for the New Year. It says,

“Let’s Learn to be Different Together.”

After seeing the sign for the first time, I later drove past it again to make sure that I could remember exactly what it said. Then I tried to imagine the ways the thought of being different could be taken:

Different from what?

Maybe, but not necessarily…:

1.  The way our neighbors look, dress, and talk

2.  The way they work, shop, and relax

3.  The shared interests of our community

But more likely, different from:

4.  The short-sighted inclinations of our younger years

5.  The irritability, impatience, and disillusionment that are inclined to increase with age. And,

6.  The inclination to self-righteously distinguish ourselves from others…

And the real issue is…

To be similar to what?

What if together we made it our prayer and purpose to help one another continue to grow in ever-increasing, even if irregular,  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Wouldn’t it be worth all of the effort, and far more, if  others around us could be able to look beyond the changes they see in us– to the One who is asking for the opportunity to breathe the likeness of himself into all of us?

Seems to me that this would be a worthy vision to share regardless of what we kick around together in the days ahead.


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42 Responses to “Learning to be Different Together”

  1. refump says:

    One thing I am constantly telling my wife as a reminder to both of us is that it is okay to be different. When we encounter someone who thinks, acts, looks or dresses different than we do we often become defensive & threatened. If they do it that way then my way might be wrong. Different does not need to be judged immediately as right or wrong, just different. When I react defensively to different I begin to think about how weak my relationship with God must be if I am not secure enough in Him to be able to consider different yet not sail in whatever direction the wind is blowing. A friend of mine was having trouble with an employee of his so he said he would go to work early some days & just sit in the chair his employee sat in during the day & try to think like his employee would think. He said it helped him be more understanding & look at better ways of showing God’s love to this person. We are all “working out our salvation with fear & trembling” so I seek after the One who is asking for the opportunity to breathe the likeness of himself into me.

  2. wretch-like-me says:

    Marti, and refump, I think you both have touched upon something truly significant. It seems to be a deep-seated fear in each of us to get it right. Getting the right answer whether its in school, work, or life in general.

    Couple that with our need to belong and we conform to the masses. It begins in the family unit and expands from there. We enter school, clubs, friendships. It can extend to all relationships.

    How many of us have ‘slightly’ or drastically changed the way we look, dress, wear our hair, or hundreds of other aspects including speech, mannerisms, or attitudes to belong…feel accepted…receive reward?

    Does it come from our basic need to conform to God’s plan for our lives and the emptiness we feel without Him? Is it twisted by Satan into some cheap imitation of the Truth?

    People (myself included) can be so desperate to find the Right Answer (Truth) they grab at anything that may sound reasonable to them at the moment.

    I had a philosophy professor in college who fed us one philosophy at a time. When we had accepted that as a logical and acceptable way of life, then he would ask questions that would point to flaws in the philosophy.

    After he had destroyed that philosophy, he would introduce a new one and repeat the process. Each time we swallowed his ‘new’ philosophy hook,line and sinker; only to have it destroyed.

    By the end of the semester, we had been taken thru most if not all of the prominent secular philosophies in history. He did not cover Christianity as a philosophy. I suppose there were two basic reasons. One: this was a secular, liberal arts, state-college and Two: according to secular definition ‘Christianity’ is a religion not a philosophy.

    I confess I remember very little of this class except that people left to themselves will come up with some pretty interesting ideas in order to justify what they want to do to other people and it is amazing what other people will affirm in order to be accepted and avoid persecution; All in the name of FREEDOM OF CHOICE.

    It took me 10yrs to begin to realize that living for self was an empty life and another 10yrs to purge most of my ‘bad habits'(with God’s Power). Along the way, I have learned that it is important to live in community.

    God wants us to live in fellowship with believers and interact with non-believers. We must live our witness. Someone once said,”You may be the only bible someone ever reads!”

  3. sitsathisfeet says:

    I have a sister who is “different”. That would be a good word to describe her. Not because of he physicality, or because she is a Christian and different in that sense. But she’s always been different, kind of like the Greeks always searching for a new philosopy etc. When she was a young adult she never wanted to come to family gatherings, for a variety of reasons, and she didn’t like traditional family things, or religion. I suppose you could describe her beliefs as an amalgamation of “new” age or old age depending, as there is nothing new under the sun. Her belief in Christ extends to the idea that he was a prophet, and led a good life benefiting humanity. Not that he is the Messiah and Savior – the Holy Son of God. She consults spirits, and godess and angels, as her spirituality instead of the triune God. To me it is a troubling and deadly combination and I have spent some hours in prayer asking the Lord to help me in my relationship with her. And I frequently ask my church to pray for her as well. A little over a year ago, when I separated from my husband I stayed with her for a couple of months, she didn’t like the way things were going and eventually asked me to leave, which I did. She was very angry with me, blamed everything on me for making her unhappy, told me I caused my mother to have a stroke, and many other things. She wrote me a caustic letter, and even wrote a nasty letter about me to my daughter, which later, my daughter revealed to me. Anyway, she basically disowned me and said she didn’t consider me to be her sister anymore. I struggled with the situation, but soon began to pray about it, and wondered Lord what should I do? Well, as clear as day as if speaking to me outloud, as you and I would speak the Lord told me I needed to just Love her, she was my sister no matter what, and I was to write a letter of apology, asking for forgiveness of her (whether I felt I did anything wrong or not) and I was to forgive her. So I began the tasks the Lord had set before me, aqnd all the while I was praying, and my church too were praying. To tell you the truth, I didn’t think it would work I didn’t think it would help or anything could be repaired or salvaged. But, the Lord was again about to show me His grace, as I walked in obedience. Well to make a long story short she eventually started calling me up and said she had been receiving the letter, notes, cards and rememberances I had sent for birthdays etc. I was amazed that God had worked to repair and restore our relationship. When we got together at Christmas to celebrate my mom’s birthday with her,her son, my other sister and her daughter’s everything was a world of difference. My other sister who is a believer was supportive, and I got to share some scripture on the occasion. Now my different sister still doesn’t believe in the Lord, but I am so thankful to Him who can redeem all things! And I’ll leave my sister’s salvation in the Lord’s hand and keep on praying for her and for me to know how the Lord wants me to act with her, (when to speak, and when to keep silent etc.) I’m so thankful we are different in Jesus!

  4. wretch-like-me says:

    sitsathisfeet…
    You handled that situation beautifully…and are an inspiration to all of us in that you went to your source of strength and power, Jesus Christ, and placed your faith in Him to do what was right…Just as He loves us, you extended that love to your sister.

    In doing that, your witness echoed throughout the world.
    Big Hug from your brother in Christ.

  5. SFDBWV says:

    sitathisfeet, I have 2 brothers one older one younger. Both half brothers. We share a father. My older brother Kenny(11 years older) was almost the exact opposit of me. Oh he was charming and smooth but selfcentered. He would put on a different face to all his “friends” but family knew him well. He would steal, lie, womanize, never pay his debts.Run from responsibility. And worst of all use his many children for his benifit.

    He always loved me. At least loved as he knew how. As I grew along with the Lord I would try my best to get him to see the light. He would never get upset or angry with me. I just wouldn’t see him for years at a time. When he would show up it was because he wanted something from me. Almost every time. And I would give him whatever he needed. But I would also softly witness to him as well. Never knowing wether or not he took any of it into his heart.

    August 2000, Kenny came to see me, and others all the way from Florida. This time he didn’t want anything. He just wanted to see me and tell me how sorry he was about Matthew and Rita. He was somber and as best as he could be, almost remorseful.

    On September 1,2000 Kenny died. As always his kids and current wife came to “Uncle” Steve to see he was put away properly. At his request he was creamated, there in Florida. But his kids wanted some kind of service for their dad.

    So I arranged it. At my request, the officiating Pastor who was conducting the service, allowed me to stand and address the family and friends who had come to pay their respects.

    I put everyone at ease by saying that I had to smile at Kenny having his name on his little creamains box as Kenny. And said he always hated for me to call him Kenny. And he would reply by saying “yes Stevie”. Once I had their attention I told them that I had lost a brother And that though I had shared the Lord with him I wish I had not given up until I knew for sure he too had accepted the Christ as well.

    But I didn’t waist the opportunity on begging his beautiful children and grandchildren to not waist another minute if they had not yet accepted Jesus. For nothing was more important. And standing there at my brothers funeral I felt I had not done enough and it was now to late to do any more.

    Go ahead and make your sister mad at you. While you can.

    Steve

  6. gr8grannyjacobs says:

    Steve, I am so sorry for you. I know the pain of losing a loved one. The agony of not being sure of them having accepted Christ. However, you did your part. He knew, he heard, he accepted or rejected. It was not your decision to make. It was his. All one can do is share the gospel,just as Jesus did. Remember the rich man, in Mark 10:21, Jesus told him (with love) what he needed to be saved. That is all we can do. Our difference is that I think more like sitathisfeet, in that love always wins over anger. God be with you.

  7. SFDBWV says:

    Thank you gr8, and of course you are right. I had to learn some tome ago not to try to do the work of the Holy Spirit. Only He can change a heart. No agony of mine ever will.

    Thinking about Mart’s pondering. I think everyone is different. This blog certainly shows that. We are all the same in very many ways. Yet each one of us are unique. We can all see a matter and view it from a different angle.

    By being different, in abilities, while at the same time being similar, in desire, to present the Gospel. We combine our strengths to achive the goal God is working through us to do. Learning how to do that without centering on our differences is the key.

    Variety,I have heard it said is the spice of life. Well if we are the salt of the earth then our varying differences should make us a better presentation as witnesses for the Lord.

    “Learning to be Different Together.” I couldn’t help but remember my old Marine Corp days as a young teenager. We, all of us from every walk of life, and every religion and every color. Learned to accept different and make us into one. All Marines.

    We as Christians should be as well trained to accept different and combine ourselves into one. The Body of Christ.

    Still learning, still struggling, allways hopefull.

  8. daisymarygoldr says:

    Take this from someone who has always fellowshipped with people who… were always different…its not by choice but due to circumstances. Just last week when you were all celebrating Christmas with your own families, it was practically impossible with my work schedule to fly across the seas to go home and be with mine. However, I had the privilege of spending the day with people like me… who were far away from home… people representing 8 different countries… needless to say that everything was different about each one of us.

    Why are we so different? When you think about the sperm and egg that shook hands to say hello… and contributed to your existence, you are a result of 8,388,608 combinations… think about this…

    U r 1 in 8,388,608!!!! …each one of us is uniquely created to be different. That helps explain the differences existing within members of the same family.

    Can’t say this for unbelievers, but for believers, Christ and His word- the truth, is the only common ground. Despite the differences, through His blood we can relate to each other…In Christ alone!

    So, here in this blog…How can we learn to be different together? When we learn to become one, “in Christ”… What does it mean to be “in Christ”? It means that there is no “I” in Christ. How can we eliminate “I”? When we grow such that “I” must decrease so “He” can increase. How long does it take for “I” to decrease? As long as it takes to say- It is no longer “I” but
    “Christ” who lives in me.

    When “I” is extinct, it will be Christ’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…no more I means no more bragging about my self…my job or about a plumber doing his job right:)

  9. gr8grannyjacobs says:

    Daisymarygoldr,I(I again):) agree with you in spirit.However in all honesty I think we will always be like the apostles, we will never be perfect in Christ’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control… so we strive to get along in our differences. This probably explains why we have so many denominations in the body of Christ. We forgot to strive to accept each others differences. I always love your post.

  10. plumbape says:

    DMG, You have been such a blessing in my life, Thank You and Happy New Year
    Michael

  11. One American says:

    Thanks to all of you for your inspirational life stories. Let us remember to pray for one another for strength from Christ. None of us can be different in character from the world on our own strength. Only Christ working through us can accomplish this. Let us pray for His strength every day to be more like Him.

  12. plumbape says:

    Maybe we can learn to be together differently!

    Always remember we are unique, well… like everyone else. ;>)

    “Can’t say this for unbelievers”, YES YOU CAN, we are all alike, we are born with a desire to seek God. Some have the Holy Spirit in them and they refuse to let it do anything yet. Some just flat out reject it but I’m convinced the desire is buried in there beneath who knows what, but it is there.

  13. Mart De Haan says:

    Such good perspectives, thanks to all of you… for your thoughts… and for caring for one another in such heartfelt ways.

    And thanks also to those of you who check in from time to time to see what’s happening… but choose not to join the discussion. Just know how honored I feel that you would stop by.

    Also, just did a bit of revising on this post hopefully to clarify what I’m not suggesting we change from :-).

  14. pegramsdell says:

    You know what I like about our differences? That, even though we are different, we can all come together and pray for a brother or sister, united, in the Name of Jesus. That is powerful. I am so thankful for all of you who prayed for my son in law.
    (Bruce, Deb, Daisy, Steve, Granny, Mac, etc……)
    Thank you for being different and being the same.
    Tod is doing better. He had surgery(s) to his nose, knee, leg and they are going to do surgery on his hip today or Monday.
    Me and my daughter (Amy) stayed at the hospital Wednesday night till Thursday morning. The doctors were great and dedicated. I am so thankful for them and their different gifts. God is so good.
    Tod thanked me for coming and staying and praying for him. He was sorry for making all of us travel so far to see him. I think he was trying to not hit a deer in the road and hit a tree. He is going to be fine. Thank You Jesus. And thank you again for the prayers.

  15. Mart De Haan says:

    When I talk about wanting to be different, there are some things I’m personally thinking of. Like, at home, I go through times when I seem to be getting more impatient and irritable rather than less. That’s the opposite of what I wanted or expected. How does it work out that way? I know that I love my wife more now than when I married her, but over time, I’ve also seen that long-time relationships collect “issues” and “assumptions”.

    At work, as I’m moving toward my 62nd birthday in a few weeks, I find myself thinking of (not hoping for) “the finish line,” and sometimes being defensive and brittle in ways that I know are symptoms of my own unresolved fears. That’s not the way I want to be.

    In unanswered prayers, I fight emotions of hopelessness… when I am actually getting the opportunity of a lifetime to show faith in our God’s goodness and faithfulness.

    In the neighborhood, I find that I am far less of a neighbor than I want to be.

    The list could go on and on… in ways that I want so much for the Spirit of Christ, and conversations with like-minded brothers and sisters to gradually be making the difference– that our Lord deserves…

  16. BruceC says:

    rdrcomp,

    Very good points!

    I seem of late to fall into category #5 many times.
    My wife’s sister has caused some problems lately and her life is dysfunctional at best. I won’t go into all the details. She has said and done enough hurtful things to my wife over the years even after we have done things to help her. She is in her forties and acts like a teenager. I had enough of seeing my wife fill up with tears over her remarks and confronted her; to which she responded by saying that I was acting “un-Christian”. Mmmm. From a woman that doesn’t go to church and doesn’t read the Word. My wife’s family is not much different. Seems like there are those that almost demand we conform to their thinking and actions and get upset when we don’t. Years ago her Mom told her that the reason she couldn’t have children was God had punished her for leaving the Catholic church. We have tried everything we could to truly get along but to no avail. We have prayed and prayed but they are not receptive to the Lord; even though they attend church. So we have basically given up. If they don’t accept our being different then that is their problem, not ours. My wife does have one older sister that agrees with her as she also says that Christ comes first in her life.
    I see denominations in the Church behaving in a like manner. The tendency to tear down those who don’t believe the same. Over the years we have gone to both Baptist and Pentecostal churches and it amazes me how many times from the pulpit and pews you hear derogatory comments about the “others”. What is wrong with these folks? Trying to be objective and using scripture in context I can see where they are both wrong and right on many points. I just wish they would get along and work TOGETHER to reach the lost for Christ. When the unbeleiving world sees this they form a very poor opinion of our faith in Christ. So living and doing what we are taught of our Lord for all the world to see is likely our most powerful way of witnessing; without all the denominational turmoil. It is a fine balance to keep along with being true to Scripture. So while I don’t agree with all the traditions or different beliefs; I try to get along without getting picky or putting people down.
    Please pray for my sister-in-law. Only Christ can help and change her. Pray for my wifes family too in dealing with her. Sometimes tough love is just the kind of love that is needed to give someone a wake-up call.

  17. SFDBWV says:

    Mart, dear brother in Christ and in life. It sounds to me like your not different at all. But very much like everyone else. Yet You and I possess a similar problem. We think we should be better than our normalness. Not better in a higher thought of attitude. But above pettiness. And are dissapointed to realize we are not, sometimes.

    I read the little monthly “Been Thinking About” columns you send out. And you do very well in touching the lives of people everywhere for Your’s and all of our Savior.

    This very blog is a wonderful gift to us that contribute and thoes who only read. For me I am mostly house bound because of my caregiving duties fot my son. This wonderful gift allows for me to reach out and touch others I could never do without your effort.

    I never took classes to teach me how or why people behave differently. My experience in that area has been a lifetime of observation.

    On the darker side some people take a childhood of abuse and turn it into an adulthood of sorrow and continuence of abuse. While others rise above it to heal their own wounds and turn around their own experience to give others love instead. Some I have known to be able to do this with either Christ as the catalyst or their own pain. Perhaps the Holy Spirit working silently in their pain to bring healing?

    In the limited travels around the world I have done. I have found that people are basicly the same. That at least we all start out that way. But poison comes into every life and changes what is innocent into differences that can grow into such a wide gap that distrust, and hate and yes even murder presents themselves justified.

    When Matthew was in the intensive care unit of the hospital. Two Catholic priests ask me if they could come in and pray for my son. They were from Africa only one spoke english well enough to be able to talk with me. They were black my son and I white. Yet in all the prayers that went up for my son there in my presense. I have never felt a more genuine love and comforting presense then the time spent there with these two very different men praying for my son.

    Yes we can be different and the same.

  18. wwsdfor2009 says:

    I believe that the similarity for all humanity is that we were created to seek God and that He will seek us whether we desire his seeking or not. The difference is in how we respond to that seeking. Some of us will be like John the Baptist, full of the Holy Spirit at conception. Like Paul who became Saul through a dramatic conversion. Like the disciples who encountered Jesus and became fishers of men themselves. Like the rich ruler who thought the costs wouldn’t equal what he already had or like Job who had to see God through many trials, and the Caananite woman that Jesus called a dog. There are many other examples of differences and similarities that can be gleaned from the pages of the Bible. The other point is that in the body of Christ. There is only one Head, Jesus, and one body with many different parts that do different things and perform different functions. But the overriding purpose is to serve God and each other to walk in Love (1 Corinthians 13) kind of Love. God purposely designed the body to be one with unique differences in operating.

  19. gr8grannyjacobs says:

    Mart , I agree with what you are saying but…. We all fail in our perception of what we think we should be. In the end though I don’t think it will be our behavior that draws people to Christ. We as believers should stand united in our message of the gospel, but not based on our behavior, only Christ’s. It’s our failure to admit to the world that we are not perfect, just redeemed , that I think sometimes pushes others away. I just can’t get a visual of Paul or Peter being perfect in all their daily actions and relationships. I believe they loved the Lord and wanted to share His grace. I think they must have struggled with their own failures just as we do. If I could take back all the words I have spoken in haste, that may have caused pain to others, I would. If I could be the perfect neighbor, I would, etc. Maybe it is in our imperfections that we do the most good. We grow and learn that it is ok to err, so we are able to accept differences in others and ourselves.Then we can make a difference for Christ. The strongest point of RBC ministries, for me, has always been their ability to say, we aren’t perfect . We just want to share God .

  20. sawaybon says:

    It took me a few moments to figure out what was in the picture. At first, I thought it was a pile of weiners, but then I realized it is a big old rusty chain in a pile behind some beautiful flowers. Talk about your disillusionment!

    I do recognize the irritability, impatience, and disillusionment that are inclined to increase with age that Mart refers to. This current year of seminary studies has led to episodes of disillusionment for me — things that I have always accepted without question are suddenly being challenged.

    I wish to comment on the inclination to self-righteously distinguish ourselves from others. This happens any time we interact with people of other religions. We know from Jesus’ claim in John 14:6 that we are on the inside track. How do we deal appropriately with the exclusiveness of Christianity that truly does distinguish us from others?

    Here’s another disillusionment. I have always considered funerals to be good evangelistic opportunities. I like funerals that give a good, clear presentation of the gospel message. Steve’s description of his brother Kenny’s service reminded me of that (my sympathies, Steve). I have recently read some writers who object to that, suggesting that it is manipulation of the worst kind to do so. What are we to make of that?

  21. violet D says:

    This is an area where I, too, have struggled for many years. I confess to a strong tendency to legalistic thinking and have done much soul searching as a result! I’m in a position, now, of looking for a local church to ‘plug into’ and as a result,constantly pray that God will control my attitudes and that I will not not be judgemental but open to learn. Years ago I had the privilege of being in a position for my denomination to travel and visit churches throughout my province and into the northwest U.S.A. Everywhere I visited I was hosted by total strangers but we had the common bond of being fellow Christians and I was “at home” with them. Sure we had cultural ‘differences’ but it was fun to compare and learn – without criticism. As wwsdfor2009 noted – Paul wrote at length in 1 Corinthians 12:12 – 27 about the different parts of the body and how each NEEDS the other. I am VERY grateful that each of you on this blog are part of the same ‘Body’ as me.

  22. macsisson22 says:

    Man, some great comments here today! I find it interesting that the HS put on my heart, before I read this blog today, to include the fruit of the Spirit in His message for this weekend. The text is from Luke and Peter’s denial. Three times something was seen in Pete that equated him with the Lord and 3 times…

    As I read many of the posts today I was shamed by similar accounts in my own life and my non-Christlike reactions. We are indeed a work in progress!

    Mart, I believe that it was Milton that wrote in Paradise Regained, “where no hope is left, is left no fear.”

    One backed into a corner with no way out looses the fear and fights for his/her life.

    I think fear causes us to consider more fully and closely what God has promised, and hopefully to act accordingly. How many times did we hear, “Fear Not” this Christmas season?

    Paul wrote, “God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” because Timothy apparantly had some fear of the senior saints of whom he was to pastor.

    I like you have fear. I believe this means WE still have HOPE!!!!

  23. gr8grannyjacobs says:

    Awesome comments! Thank God for Himself. Amazing grace that lets each of us fail, and still be able to build each other up, in Him. Can’t say how much I appreciate all of you.

  24. pegramsdell says:

    Thanks Sawaybon, I didn’t know what that picture was of.
    lol.

  25. poohpity says:

    When Jesus called His disciples, He said, “follow me”. Each disciple was not called to give up who they are but what they believed and their inclinations were challenged. Jesus needs us to be ourselves that is only honest and true. It takes us all in our uniqueness to be a whole with ONE PURPOSE. We are called to be fishers of man and to care for their needs and in that we worship God. Our unity is putting God first in our lives and loving others as God has loved us.

    I struggle with wanting everyone to be what I think they should be because people have done that to me. If I am honest with myself I want to embrace each individual to be themselves and respect that. It would be nice if we stopped trying to get others to fit into our mold because that mold was broke at birth so no one can fit into it.

    It seems we get impatient with others and especially those close to us because we forget they are individuals and are responsible for their own response to God not to us.

    We each are given different gifts to serve in the body but the fruits of the Spirit are what we have in common but when we try to regulate those fruits in others we are not keeping our eyes on God which produces those fruits in our own lives.

    Embrace the differences in others and in unity keep our eyes on the one who made us that way and that will bring us together.

  26. mercyme says:

    Thank you. I received this right away! But I cannot find where to send a post. And I just want to know where the Christian Courses with Bible studies is. I had a different email and was on study 8 of the Dynamic Living series and I miss it. Thank you, Marilyn Bowdoin And I just found where to post. Tuesday/Jan. 2, 09

  27. gr8grannyjacobs says:

    I was telling you all about my Palestinian son in law . I shared that he lets my daughter practice her faith. The sad part of the story is, he lets her, because he doesn’t think it makes any difference. He sees Christianity as very divided. He says we don’t know what we believe, or we would be united, as he perceives Islam to be. What a difference our story could be if we accepted the differences of each other. If we could just be one. Jesus knew our problem as He prayed for us about this in John 17:20-26.

    pooh, hope you enjoyed the snow.

  28. SFDBWV says:

    macsisson, Mike I answered your question about the Zodiac on the previous calender post. I also posted a neat little pearl I had hoped everyone could enjoy at the very end.

    sawaybon, Thanks for your comforting words. In response to your question about funerals. I am in a unique position that has over the years taken me to many funerals. Many dozens. Every preacher I ever seen present for the services, did not miss the opportunity to present the Gospel to a group of captive people. Only time I ever heard anyone say anything negitive about it were from negitive people who take a shot at Christianity any chance they may get.

    gr8, I am praying for your son in law. And for your daughter. God can make a way.

  29. rokdude5 says:

    Is it truly okay to be different? hmmmm…..how ’bout a murderer, someone who has a nonstraight sexual orientation and/or “lifestyle”, someone who is of an extreme political outlook, someone who is of other religion other than Christianity?

    Think of all the types of behaviors that one would find offensive. Now ask yourself is it acceptable to be that different? For me, I will say no BUT God COMMANDS me to love my neighbors in spite of his or her differences. John 13:34-35. ow!! I find it difficult at times to “hate the sin” but “love the sinner” but I must do this….we all do.

  30. wretch-like-me says:

    Marti, I share some of the same frustrations with aging… I was considerably more active than I am now. I played golf, tennis, softball, bowling, hiking,.. now, with a failing body, I am limited.

    However, I am finding new ways to compensate thru a new electronic game called Wii. Its the only video game that I know of that uses full body motion to play. It has an optional balance board(similar to step aerobics) that expands the use to a wide range of fitness activities including yoga, strength training, balance skills and posture as well as downhill, slalom, cross-country skiing and a seeming endless list of exciting/challenging sports that I thought due to my age and past injuries I would never experience again…all in the comfort of my own home.

    I cannot begin to tell you the blessing I experience each time I ‘play like a kid again’ without having to fear further injury or pain and without the hassle of driving to the ski slopes or equipment costs or medical bills…LOL.

    One of my greatest challenges is being the kind of parent and grandparent I want to be, yet never experienced. With God’s Grace and a spouse who has tremendous gifts, we managed to do well by our kids. Grandchildren can be such a blessing and such a challenge especially when aging brings poor health, sleep deprivation, and limited patience. I truly want to give them my best; but, find myself short-circuiting when I experience overload. One very important lesson I learned early on in parenting is the need to ask for forgiveness when I realize I have acted incorrectly. Its important not just for my own restoration thru forgiveness; but, to demonstrate for my children and grandchildren the need and acceptibility of asking, being restored, and extending forgiveness to others.

    Furthermore, God has chosen to bless me with a spouse who is disabled. Her pain increases if exposed to a long list of irritants including odors, cigarette smoke, pets, dust, pollen, altitude changes, road noises and even slight breezes. (Rollercoaster rides are definitely a NO-NO…lol. ThankGod she still can laugh with me!) Life is not the same anymore… but, it never is…is it? Life is about more than just surviving. Its about learning to adapt and prosper with change.

    I struggle with depression. Go figure! It began when I lost my career. It deepened when I lost my Dad. It bottomed out when my wife became disabled. My world was crashing and no matter how hard I prayed…no matter what I did, I (key word here) I could not fix it.

    Only Jesus could…and not in the way I wanted but He is showing me a way to overcome… not just settle… but pole-vault over the hurdles with joy and praise for My Lord and God. Who is showing me that I am specially equipped thru HIM to conquer even the worst of conditions. (I believe St.Paul expressed it as… “learning to be content in all things.”)

    I have a loving and accepting family who forgive me when I blow it, understand how depression can make me pull away for a time, encourage me to share my feelings, and try not take offense or judge me in my weakness. However, I have a strong family who confront me when I am wrong and need to reconsider my actions. I am blessed to have ‘working’ relationships with the most important people in my life. Together we exhort and encourage and ‘work’ through the rough areas, together.

    For Pooh, and all of us who enjoy snow…
    For many years I have wondered at the simple, common snowflake. Then I learned that no two snowflakes are alike and are quite complex in design; making them neither common or simple. Just recently I read about so-called snowmaking machines on ski slopes. It seems no matter how small they adjust the sprayer to make tiny droplets of water, they cannot reproduce the flake. What falls to the ground is a tiny iceball. It would seem that only God can make a snowflake!!!

    Are we not the same? Each us is a beautiful, crystal of God’s design. No two of us are alike. Each of us created with a unique purpose in God’s plan. I believe that is what Marti is getting at with his concept of celebrating the differences and finding commonality in all of us as we worship and glorify God.

    To quote another not-so-common christian(Mr.T)…
    “GOD DONT MAKE NO JUNK!”

    Final comment: I can think of no better time to share the Gospel than at Funerals. (except for the deceased it can mean eternal life and death for all attending.)

    Expressing the Joy of reuniting in heaven with a person that is saved can take some of the ‘bite’ out of grief and at the same time offer hope to the unsaved.

    I dont think, personally, that beating people over the head with ‘hell-fire and brimstone’ accomplishes much except scaring people into ‘hail-mary’ confessions of faith that later fall to the first temptation. That only brings confusion and feelings of having been deceived.

    Presenting the Gospel as Jesus did and intended for others to do is a joyfilled message of love and belonging. It gives hope in the midst of pain, trouble and failures. It teaches us The Way, Truth, and Light to be shared with all regardless of their reaction to our sharing. That is the Great Commission…to share. (As Peter said,”Silver and gold, I do not have; but, what I have I give to you.In the Name of Jesus Christ.”

  31. daisymarygoldr says:

    gr8grannyjacobs, since you are the love expert, I love your posts too:) you are right about the apostles…who were always competing against each other to prove themselves as greater than the other…but once they got a clear focus on the “vision”…Christ’s love was perfected in them…love was perfected as each one of them proved their love for Him and others… by gladly laying down their own lives to uphold the truth of His gospel!

    “…in spirit”- you said it, gr8grannyjacobs! That’s exactly how we should relate to each other in Christ…as spiritual beings. You see, as earthly beings we are very different…the haves and the have-nots, rich and poor, literate and illiterate, healthy and sick, young and old and the list continues… The unsaved world recognizes and follows these categories and the devil uses these supposed differences to divide and conquer believers within the body of Christ…thus we polarize amongst ourselves to huddle into self-assumed groups of: “sinners”, “broken”, “righteous” or “more righteous-than-you”… By doing this, we are causing painful splits within His body…which was already broken on the cross…so we could be built into one whole and perfect spiritual body.

    Therefore, as followers of Christ we should always remember to see each other the way God sees us…and God see us always…In Christ. Moreover, God is no respecter of persons and has given each one of us “the” measure (not a measure) of faith (Rom 12:3)…which means we have all been given the same portion of faith. So, if all of us have “put on” the same Christ and “exercise” the same faith…where then is the difference?

  32. daisymarygoldr says:

    Michael, don’t thank me…you have been a blessing to this blog and Thank you for sharing your convictions about unbelievers! I knew there’s more to you than those funny one-liners…which is also needed and noticed by the body…but please do not scare me with those letters shouting in caps….as I’m still counting on you to protect me from the stone throwers:)

    Mart, you are the funniest man I have ever met…you’ll turn 62 and you have fears? If I were in your shoes, I’d be jubilating on top of the world…at the thought of growing and getting closer to God! If you are getting more impatient and irritable, it means you need a break…go romping around places with your wife…maybe she deserves more than the attention you give to this blog:) sorry!(I do get into trouble for shooting my mouth off both here and in my own family)…if you think this is another wife-hitting proverb…no it is not….if you are mad….then its okay…but what I tell the men in my family, I’m telling you…the wife needs to be loved much…unconditionally, despite the “issues” and “assumptions” associated with long-time relationships. Otherwise, with the other things on the list that you mentioned, I think you are doing just great…being different in your own way!

    BruceC , I’m all about tough love…do have to deal with heavy misunderstanding initially…but then when people recognize that I’m not a heartless 10-headed monster, tough love earns back rich dividends! Praying for your s-i-l and wife’s family…
    Pegramsdell, glad to hear that Tod is going to be fine… Praying for his speedy recovery…
    sawaybon, Had it not been for you, I would never have been able to figure out that pic ….thought they were some blooming pneumatophores a.k.a breathing roots… Talk about …disillusionment!:) Thank you!
    friends, you may want to check out some cool stuff about rebuilding broken relationships in the grace mail of the church I attend at calvaryphx.com…I was greatly blessed…

  33. gr8grannyjacobs says:

    rdrcomp, I have read these post over and over today. they are so spirit filled. Your post reminded me of a lady, I met at Wal-mart one Saturday. She opened a conversation with me as I waited for my husband. She was having a cigarette, and made the statement to me , that folks called her a sinner. I never got her name, but what a chance for me to witness, I am sure, a chance designed by God. I told her that Jesus did not die for her cigarettes, but for her heart. I will never know if those words helped her, but my prayer is that they did.Your words took root in my heart and just wanted you to know.

    Steve, Thank you for your prayers

  34. poohpity says:

    The snow was sooo beautiful and the wind whistling through the trees was a relaxing experience. I tried with my walker to get into the snow to make a snow person but hesitated with the fear of a fall. So I just took a breath and went anyway into the snow but was unable to build a snow person. LOL!

    The most joy was watching those sons of mine, their girl friends and my dog, romping, sledding and most of all smiling from ear to ear in delight with the snow. I am old enough to be my sons grandmother, just about, but gosh I love their smiles and when the Lord blesses me with grandchildren I will find my youth in their smiles and their playing as well. I hope my heart always remains youthful.

  35. macsisson22 says:

    Thanks Steve, I did find some info on the Misslers and am trying to discipher their doctrinal stance. I have not found a clearly written statement as of yet, I am not a big fan of numerology and so called hidden codes so I have to say that I am tredding lightly but trying to do so with an open and cautious mind. From their about page they look like a brilliant couple though.

  36. macsisson22 says:

    Steve, I did find that they are affiliated with Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa California.

  37. BruceC says:

    Mart,

    I think the posters here have proved your title “Learning to Be Different Together”. It helps me to know that I am not alone in dealing with issues and that the same Saviour that cares about my problems and the issues I and my wife face does so also for the other beleivers. No person here comes across as self-righteous or act like they have it all together. It is a great help and a great example of what can be accomplished for Him when we work together instead of nit-picking. I will pray for you and the feelings you deal with and I am thankful for your up front honesty. I have that same “why should I feel like this at this stage of life” question that you do. We need to earnestly pray for the Body of Christ as we near His return. The enemy will turn up the pressure from within and without on the church and we need to be strong.
    “Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might.”
    “..The power of His might.” There is nothing, nothing; that can stand against that!

  38. Mart De Haan says:

    BruceC,
    Thanks for your words of encouragement, and to all… Think I’m becoming increasingly convinced that we are so much like the imperfect men and women of the Bible. Together the “Adam’s family” shows us that seeing and admitting the lingering mess we find in our own hearts is a critical part of continuing to experience the grace of Christ for ourselves… and for one another.

    Jesus is our perfect example and help. And the shepherd-songwriter-king, David, with all of his emotional admissions, mess-ups and cries for help must be an example of what it means to be– in our fallen brokenness– men and women after God’s own heart.

  39. daisymarygoldr says:

    Its Saturday today…and I love Saturdays…because it means rest…and rest is very therapeutic…to my restless mind that’s pondering over all these thoughts expressed on this page…

    “Let’s Learn to be Different Together.”

    BruceC, maybe the Lord wants us to learn to accept those who are self-righteous or act like they have it all together. Please, If they are bothering us…instead of casting stones at them, its more Christ-like to ask them the reason for acting like they have it all together. I’ll bet my life on this answer: They are not acting….they have “got it”! …not by their strength or because they are smart…but by simple child-like faith…

    Saints, let us be child-like in faith and grown-up in understanding. Let us seek to unite and not divide. We are called to be separate from the world… but not to segregate within His Church. Don’t cast stones on sinners and don’t cast stones on those who love righteousness. They are not righteous…to repeat, they are not righteous…but they love the Lord and they love His righteousness. Let us all, together honor Him… who has graciously covered our sinful nakedness with His Holy righteousness.

    Personally, I envy the righteous in the Lord…those who walk closely with the Him… it encourages me to see them stumble and yet not fall, I envy their sufferings…because I grew up knowing what it means to suffer for His name…“suffering servant” was the oft repeated phrase we used as kids while playing “Church”…obviously we picked it from the grown-ups whose Christian living was synonymous to sufferings…in fact, we felt troubled if life was trouble-free…sort of an indicator test that we are not walking intimately with Him…

    Don’t know if I am making any sense to anyone here…don’t know if you understand anything that I say here…you are all so-o-o-o different…but… by His grace I’m learning to be different together:)

  40. alanm says:

    I came across this report in a British newspaper- it struck me as a way of being different, uplifting too in a world of greed and suspicion

    Trusting shopkeeper leaves store open unattended
    Friday, 2 January 2009
    A trusting shopkeeper took £187 after he left his hardware store open unattended on Boxing Day and set up an honesty box
    Tom Algie faced a dilemma over Christmas – how to give himself and his staff time off but without letting down his customers.
    He left a note telling shoppers who came in on Boxing Day to serve themselves and then leave their payment in the box he had set up.
    When Mr Algie, 47, returned at 4.15pm to close up, he was delighted to find the shop in Settle, North Yorkshire, had taken £187.66 – and two euros. The biggest amount was £17 for a set of three-step ladders.
    The honesty box was made out of a funnel and plastic cereal box, and put behind the counter at his shop Practically Everything.
    The father-of-two said: “It was a spur-of-the-moment decision. I just wanted to spend the holidays with my family but thought it would be quite nice to open up the shop.
    “I’m a very trusting sort of person. If a customer comes into my shop and they don’t have the right money they can come back the next day and pay. It’s that sort of shop. I know everybody and they know me.

    “I’m delighted the honesty box worked so well. Initially I didn’t think much money had been left but when I looked in the funnel I saw all these coins and notes.
    “I’m thinking of doing it again but I won’t publicise the date,” he added.
    As well as the cash, Mr Algie also found some notes of thanks.
    One read: “Thanks Tom. This is why we moved to Settle. This shop would have been cleaned out in two and a half minutes in Bolton.”

  41. poohpity says:

    alanm,

    Wow, that story was just my blessing for the day, thank you for sharing it from across the lake. There is still trust and goodness in the world.

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