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"Are making life changes like playing dodgeball?"

October 16, 2009 by Mike Strawbridge



    How do you play dodgeball? The object is to avoid the balls being thrown at you by your opponent.

    How is this different form golf? In golf you hit a ball toward a very specific goal. That goal is usually a long way away. Sometime you can’t even see the goal like hole 17 at Cherokee springs but you know that if you hit the ball in the general direction, that you will eventually get there.

    Lets talk about another popular ball – the beach ball. There is no object to a game of beach ball. It just gets tossed around aimlessly until the wind finally carries it so far out in the water that no one wants to go get it and it is lost forever.

    Which kind of ball game do you want for your life?

    James 1:5-8

    5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

    When we ask God for help, we must have complete trust in God that we is willing and able to provide what we desire. If we don’t trust God, then we are just playing beach ball. It may be fun for a while but, soon, we will just get so far away form where we want to be that we simply become lost at sea.

    Without faith in God, we are just playing dodgeball. Instead of driving toward a specific goal, we are just trying to avoid the things that come at us. We spend all out time trying to avoid trouble and difficulties rather than focusing on what we truly desire.

    Life by the spirit:

    Galatians 5:16-18

    16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

    Are you playing spiritual dodgeball? Do you think you are doing good just because you are continually dodging the temptations that are being thrown at you? Paul makes a whole list of sins that we are to avoid.

    But I prefer that we focus our energy on things that we want in stead of what we don’t want. Because whenever we are against something we are focusing more energy into the very thing we are against.

    Most anti drug campaigns have been shown to actually increase teenage drug use. Philip Morris’s famous anti smoking campaign was actually proven to increase teen smoking rates.

    The programs that have worked are those that give the teens something else positive to focus on. Once they have a goal like sports or art, then they don’t have time for the distraction of smoking or drugs.

    So instead of spending your energy dodging the things you don’t want, focus on the things you do want from God. Lets look at what Paul says is the characteristic of living by the spirit:

    Galatians 5:22-23

    22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    Notice how the practice of these traits will naturally and effortlessly remove the unwanted traits.

    Imagine with me for a moment facing the world in a spirit of love and joy and peace. There would be no wars or crime or other problems that we continually try to dodge in our lives.

    So what are some of the things that you are dodging in your life?

    (list on the board)

    Anger, Anxiety, Addiction, bitterness, covertness, deceit, depression, vanity, lust, wrath, envy, sloth, gluttony, greed, envy, fear, worry?

    Now we can continue playing dodgeball with out lives and seek to avoid these things each day, but sooner rather than later they we smack us up side the head when we least expect it.

    Lets look at how living life in the spirit of god will change our focus:

    We can replace dodging Anger with seeking peace and joy. We can replace dodging Anxiety with trusting God to take care of us. We can replace dodging Addiction with having a purpose in life that overwhelms that addiction.

    Lets read again the characteristic of a spirit filled life:

    Galatians 5:22-23

    22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    Watch your Language

    1 Timothy 6:11-12

    11But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

    Express your faith in your words daily. When you drive to work in the morning, don’t worry about being late or the dangers in the traffic. Instead say to yourself and to others that you expect God to keep you safe and for you to arrive at exactly the correct time. Instead of focusing on what your can’t do to help those around you, focus on what you can do.

    Pay attention to what you talk about during the day. Do you continue to focus on what is wrong in the world. Are you constantly on the lookout to dodge what ever new temptation that Satan is throwing at you?

    Or do you constantly look for ways to express the Spirit of God. Do you look for ways to express love and joy and peace?

    How about looking for ways to express patience and Kindness?

    What are some ways that we can express goodness and gentleness?

    So as you play the game of life, you get to choose how you are going to play it.

    You can play like most people and play life like a game of beach ball. Just allow yourself to be tossed about aimlessly until your are completely lost.

    Or you can choose to live life like many Christians and take great pride in you ability to dodge all the temptations that are thrown at you while you never really accomplish anything worthwhile.

    Or you can choose to play life like a game of golf with a very specific goal. You may not always be able to see your goal, but you know it is there and with each stroke, you are getting closer to it.

    You can choose to practice the characteristics of a Spirit filled life and live life by expressing love and joy and peace and faithfulness in every opportunity.

    This article was originally presented by Mike Strawbridge as a Sunday School lesson at North Cleveland Baptist Church. Throwing balls around in class was lots of fun!

Mike Strawbridge October 16, 2009

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