Wear Your Own Clothes

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Could it be a Batman and Bale sighting in Vegas?  Alas, it is only several of the army of celebrity impersonators

Could it be a Batman and Bale sighting in Vegas? Alas, it is only several of the army of celebrity impersonators.

Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic.  He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head.  David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.  “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.”  So he took them off. – (1 Samuel 17: 39-40) (NIV)

I am writing this blog post in Las Vegas while attending the New Media Expo Conference.   Las Vegas is known for many things.  Before your mind wanders down unintended corridors, what I’m referring to in this case are the slew of celebrity impersonators — everyone from Elvis, to Marilyn Monroe to Michael Jackson.  Some impersonators have gone to great lengths, including cosmetic surgery to pull of their grand illusions.  While we might admire their skill, dedication and uncanny ability to mimic, in the back of our minds we know we are see imitators and not the genuine article.  We are left longing for the authentic.

The scripture above is from the almost universally known story of David and Goliath.   Even atheists use the idiom, “David versus Goliath” to describe a situation when there are opposing forces and one side has a seemingly overwhelming advantage over the other.  Although David killed the giant with a well struck stone hurled from his sling, the sling was not the first weapon placed in David’s hand.  David was first given Saul’s sword along with his armor and helmet.   Scripture tells us that Saul was a head taller that his countrymen (1 Samuel 9:2).  David was not yet an adult (1 Samuel 17:34).   He must have looked like Tom Hanks in the Movie, “Big” when he transformed from being an adult back to a kid but was left wearing his adult clothes.  David quickly realized that Saul’s armor did not fit him.  If David was going to be successful against Goliath he would have to do on his own terms using the weapon that God allowed his to master.  Before taking on Goliath, David recounted his past victories over a lion and a bear (1 Samuel 17:36).   The Bible does not state, so we cannot say empathetically, but we can surmise in these instances that David’s weapon of choice was his sling.

We all know the outcome of the story.  David’s skillfully flung stone found its mark embedding deeply in Saul’s forehead.  “So David triumphed over the Philistine [Goliath] with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him (1 Samuel 17:50) (NIV).  What if David had attempted to kill Saul with a sword? He would have likely failed miserably.   A sword is an effective weapon when used in close quarters.  Goliath dwarfed David and it highly improbable that David would have been able to get so close as to wield a lethal blow.  On the contrary, a sling is most effective when there is a bit of distance between the person using it and the intended target.

What is the lesson for us in this? God has created us all from the same basic building blocks, but has   arranged the blocks in such a way that we are each a one of kind, unique design.  Even identical twins who share the same genetic makeup do not have the same fingerprints!  God has gifted each of us with unique skills, abilities, temperaments and personalities.  We can all learn from and attempt to emulate the positive traits of role models, but we must apply these lessons in our own way.   We must each wear our own clothes!  You might earn a living being a member of a cover band, but doing so does not add any “new material.” Cover bands do not leave a legacy.  If you want to leave your mark on the body of Christ and the world at large, be the authentic, one of kind creation God intended you to be!

Are You Making Tents or Pursuing Your Calling?

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Hands of modern day Egyptian tent maker

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  (2 Timothy 1:6-7 – NKJV)

 

There was a tent maker born in the ancient city of Tarsus about 2,000 years ago.  This man had a profound impact on western thought and modern Christianity.  You don’t recognize who I’m referencing from this description?  I’m talking about none other than the Apostle Paul, writer of two-thirds of the New Testament, missionary and Apostle to the Gentiles.

Would Paul have made such an indelible mark on human history and Christendom if he had simply remained a tent maker? The answer of course is no.  There was nothing inherently wrong with Paul making tents.  Biblical figures engaged in numerous professions often in preparation for greater work.  Before he became a king, David was a shepherd, musician and warrior.  Peter left fishing for fish to become a fisher of men.  Jesus it is believed served as a carpenter most of his adult life before serving as an itinerant preacher.  Tent making helped Paul support himself during his missionary journeys. Tent making, however was the means to an end and not the end itself.  Paul pursued his passion and calling to become the Apostle to the Gentiles.

Why don’t more Christians respond to the Master’s call?  There are a variety of reasons.  Certainly many struggle to discern the call.  Sincere-minded Christians question why they were placed on this Earth which in part accounts for the run away success of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life.  Many churches offer classes to members on how to discover their spiritual gifts.

However I’m convinced there’s another group of believers who know their calling but are either not following it or are doing so half-heartedly.  It is to this second group that I am specifically speaking.  If you are not pursuing your calling you are simply existing and not living the abundant life that Jesus promised to each believer.  Fear is a big reason that many fail to pursue their calling with enthusiasm.  They fear that God will subject them to something they do want to do or fear that God will not protect them.

God’s calling does sometime lead us into places we’d rather not go or encounters we’d rather not have.  Shortly after Paul’s conversion, Jesus revealed to Ananias in a vision that “I [the Lord] will show him [Paul] how much he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9:16 – NIV).  The Israelites initially missed out on entering the Promised Land because they feared God would not protect them.  “The people refused to enter the pleasant land, for they wouldn’t believe his promise to care for them” (Psalm 106:24 – NLT).  Where God leads us, He is already there and He already prepared the way.  In order to courageously live out our calling we must own the Biblical truth, contained in Deuteronomy 31:1, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (NKJV).

True confession time.  Through a series of missteps I came to the recent realization that I devoted more time and energy to making tents than to pursuing my calling.  I had become quite adept at making tents and make what many would consider a comfortable living do so. I was being groomed to make even larger tents.  But there was a change in leadership in the tent makers guild, “a pharaoh arose who knew not Joseph.”  The leadership change coupled with my less than optimal handling of a complex tent making assignment, resulted in me being in a holding pattern on the current rung of the tent making ladder.

While initially disappointed and discouraged, I came see that like Paul when he describing his Roman imprisonment that, “what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance” (Philippians 1:19b – NIV).   The tumblers of the lock finally clicked into place for me, and I have been given a much clearer vision of what God would have for me to do.  While climbing the tent making ladder, my vision for climbing Jacob’s ladder became blurry.  With my sight now restored, I am pursuing my calling with new found zeal.  I am not delusional in thinking my calling will be easy, safe or without risk.  Few if any callings are.  Paul admonished his spiritual protégé, Timothy to “stir up the gift God which is in you” Paul gave this advice before the days of cuisinarts.  Stirring required some effort!  But, our effort is not unaided.  We have the supernatural help of a God who, “has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”