A kid joins the youth choir in church when he hates to sing. Why?
Because the only kids the youth minister pays attention to are those in his choir.
Someone goes on a mission trip when he doesn’t have any interest in going. Why?
Because the pastor proclaims to the church that they need to go on a mission trip. He treats those that go on mission trips as the special ones in the church.
A seminary student considers foreign missions when he has never had any inclination before in his life. Why?
Because his pastor thinks those that do the most valuable work for Christ are on the mission field.
A lady is asked to take on about four jobs in church. She is told that if she doesn’t do it, no one else will. She says yes. Why?
Because she is afraid of the looks of disapproval if she doesn’t.
What are all of these examples of?
Christian peer pressure.
We all know it happens. The problem is that most of us have given in to it at one time or another.
So, how do we deal with it?
Just learn to say no.
Don’t want to go on the mission trip? No.
Don’t want to sing in the choir? No.
Don’t want to take on that extra task? No.
Just say no.
Pursue the Lord with all you have. Do what you want. Say no to everything else.
Have you ever had to deal with Christian peer pressure? How did you deal with it?
I mentioned in yesterday’s blog that this is the site of a defeat in my life. I won’t go into specifics. Let’s just say that I did not heed the advice Uncle Ben Parker gave to Peter prior to him becoming Spider-Man: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Spider-Man/Peter Parker felt defeat shortly after that advice. He flippantly let a criminal go thinking that it was none of his affair and that he did not need to get involved. This criminal ended up killing Uncle Ben. Peter was responsible. He felt defeat. He had a choice. He could either wallow in defeat or he could live the remainder of his life driven to turn that defeat into something positive.
Fortunately, that’s what our Savior wants from us. He says through Paul that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” We meet defeat and we overcome. There is no condemnation, no matter what any enemy on Earth or elsewhere has to say about it.
I could wallow in defeat. I could say that nothing good can come from blogging. I could say that the Interwebs is no place for me. I could chuck it all in the name of defeat.
Am I going to do that? No. I’m not condemned. I’m going to live according to the law of the Spirit of life that has set me free from sin and death. I’m going to use my power with responsibility. I’m going to blog.
How about you? Do you feel defeated? Do you feel like giving up? If you are a follower of Christ, you’re already a winner.
Failure isn’t final. I know that you will find that hard to believe, but it isn’t. Do you want to know why? Because you have failed today. Already. In some way or somehow, you have failed. Maybe you’ve figured that out already. Maybe not. Perhaps you live with your failures on
your sleeve, just waiting to bring them out so that you will have a convenient excuse. Maybe you want an excuse to quit. Maybe you want an excuse for your behavior. Perhaps you want an excuse to be a victim. I don’t know what it is. I just know that you have failed today and failure is not final.
How do I know? I failed today. I failed at work. I failed the other day. I failed in some relationships. I failed in that I let a lot of people down. I screwed up. And I hear what some of you are saying out there. Those people have failed me. They’ve let me down. They’ve screwed up. So what? I still failed. And failure isn’t final.
How do I know? Pick a story in the Bible. It often begins with failure. But it doesn’t end there. God has no failures on His team. You may have been a failure before, but you won’t be a failure when He’s through with you. Failure isn’t final.
Peter knew this. He failed. He listened to a rooster crow three times. He denied Jesus three times. He failed. Three. Times. It could have ended there. But it didn’t. Peter went back to fishing. The resurrected Jesus met him on the shore. He asked Peter three times to take care of His
sheep. He didn’t let Peter go back to fishing full-time. He didn’t let Peter remain a failure. Failure isn’t final.
Mark knew about failure. He wanted to go on a trip with Barnabas and Paul. We don’t know why he did it. He may have been homesick. Maybe someone was ugly to him. Maybe he was immature. Whatever the reason, he abandoned Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas, being the son of encouragement he was, wanted to take him on another trip. Paul didn’t. This dispute ended their partnership. Mark was a failure. But it didn’t end there. Near the end of his ministry, Paul wrote that Mark was important to his ministry. Somewhere along the way Paul and Mark reconciled. Mark was useful to Paul’s ministry. And he wrote one of the Gospels that we read. Mark didn’t remain a failure. Failure isn’t final.
You might have failed, but failure isn’t final. If you’re a child of God, if you’re a follower of Christ, He doesn’t let you be a failure forever. Failure isn’t final.
Have you failed? Do you feel like a failure. There’s no reason to stay in that place. Failure isn’t final.
Do you have a dream? I’ve been reading a lot about a book by Jon Acuff called Quitter. This book is next on my reading list. It is about being able to eventually quit your job and find your dream job. Jon was able to do this after working eight jobs in eight years. This is has led me to thinking about other dreams than just my job. Do I have a dream?
I think that as kids we dream all of the time. Our dream may be to be a MLB baseball player. It may be to be a mom (not mine, of course). It may be to own a black Angus cattle farm. It may be to perform at WrestleMania. You dream it up and insert it here. After all, I can’t dream up anyone else’s dream than mine.
That leads to this thought: have you quit dreaming? Do you still have a dream? If you don’t, why did you quit? It seems that as I watch people, many have quit dreaming. I think it’s because as we get older we get jobs, have children, have bills and it’s all we can do sometimes to just get from day-to-day, week to week and paycheck to paycheck. And we forget to dream.
So, where do our dreams come from? Being a follower of Christ, I believe our dreams should come from God. A dream is a big desire. Something that gives your life aim. Psalm 37:4 says that we should delight ourselves in the Lord and He will give us the desires of our heart. That doesn’t mean that we dream something up and He will give it to us. No, it means that if we delight ourselves in Him, those desires will come from God. So, if we have this part of our relationship with God right, our dreams will reflect it.
How does that happen? In the Old Testament, in 1 Samuel 3:1, word from God and visions were infrequent. The people were not hearing from God in specific ways, either in visions or direct revelation from God. There was no vision, no word that would fuel the direction or dreams of the people. We have no excuse now. We have the word of God that we can hold tangibly in our hands or, as I have, pull up on our smart phones. We can delight ourselves in God’s word at any time. This will give us our vision for life. This will give us our dreams.
Are you doing this? Are you delighting yourself in God and His word? Do you want to run a marathon? Hike the Appalachian Trail? Become a short-term missionary? A full-time missionary? A blogger? A novelist? Then do it. It’s ok. If you are delighting yourself in God, then do whatever you want to do. It’s ok.
What is your dream? Do you have a dream? What will it take for you to pursue your dream?