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Different On Purpose

What makes you different from the rest of the world? What makes you different from your friends and buddies? What about you stands out during those times of peer pressure and compromise? When friends invite you to go places, engaging in activities you have no business being a part of, do you waver in your response, or do you take a hard stand against it? Are you that no-doubt-about-it, this-one-belongs-to-God Christian? Or are you a chameleon, blending into your surroundings?

Most people want to belong, to fit in. The desire to be accepted is a human trap. But if people who gossip, lie, take part in illegal and illicit activities don’t invite you to their club, take it as a compliment. You were not created to fit in—you were made to be set apart.

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21, NIV)

I’ll tell you the truth, one of the best ways to know you’re looking a lot like Jesus and on the right path is when people who are doing wrong don’t want to be around you. There’s your proof. You have been pulled away from the crowd for a higher purpose. You don’t look the same; you don’t act the same—you’re working in the family business. For Jesus’ family.

if people who gossip, lie,
take part in illegal and illicit activities
don’t invite you to their club,

Careless, pointless endeavors are not a part of your mission anymore, and they sure aren’t part of mine. Before coming to Christ, I was a zero without the circle. I was nothing—worthless. I was a high school dropout and had overdosed on drugs and died three times. But then Jesus came into my life, filled me with the Holy Spirit, lifted me, and gave me a purpose to live out for His Glory. I was reborn with new features, new motivations, new characteristics from my Father’s spiritual genes. Everything changed. I experienced a personal Spirit Revolution. I stand in awe of what the Holy Spirit was willing to do when I got out of His way and let Him work.

Lately, Carmen and I find ourselves reminiscing about the trek God has taken us on for over four decades. We see God’s hand in our lives, our family, and our ministry. We have four beautiful children, who all bear a striking resemblance to their Heavenly Father, and we have eleven amazing grandchildren. We lead one of the most successful life-changing drug recovery programs in the world. We have planted a tremendous multicultural church in Richmond, Virginia, with sister churches worldwide. Victor, the movie about my life, is bringing hope to millions of people in lands around the globe. There is no doubt that God has ordered our steps. (Psalm 37:23)

I take no credit for any of that -- the five books I’ve authored or the forty countries I’ve preached the Gospel in. Oh sure, I work hard, and we serve and sacrifice, but I’m with Paul.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10, NKJV)

What I believe drove Paul in his ministry is what motivates me, and I hope it is your inspiration, too. You’re likely familiar with the Ten Commandments, but do you know the most essential two?

Exodus 20:2-17 is where you will find the Ten Commandments.

1. You shall have no other gods before Me.

2. You shall make no idols.

3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

4. Keep the Sabbath day holy.

5. Honor your father and your mother.

6. You shall not murder.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

8. You shall not steal.

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

10. You shall not covet.

The disciples asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. In Matthew 22:37-40, their Master said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Everything else hangs on those two commandments—Love God and love people. As we spend more time with God, we hear Him more clearly and follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance more naturally. That is when love becomes our go-to response.


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