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Goose-Land, Part 1

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

There is news from goose-land.  Well, for those of you who read regularly you know that I walk for exercise five or six times a week.  You also remember that I have different routes that I take and one of those leads me around the pond in the city park.  That is also known as goose-land. Today I chose to walk in the park.  Let me tell you with the warm temperatures and high humidity a walk in the park is no walk in the park.

I left the house this morning before sunrise trying to catch the coolest part of the day.  When I got to the park the sun was just starting to peek over the horizon.  I was all alone beside the ducks and the geese.  You will be glad to know the mama duck has managed to raise almost all of her ducklings.  You go, girl.  But then I noticed something different with the geese.

A couple of months ago I wrote and told you about an unusual yet beautiful thing with the geese.  A family of brown geese had adopted one of the white geese and one of the white geese, I named him Bubba, had taken up with the brown geese.  He was kinda like an Uncle Vinny…you know a protector and bouncer all rolled up in one.  He was good at it too.  He could let out a hiss that sent a clear message,  “You mess with my family and I will mess with you.”  It was all cool. Color and creed were all laid aside.

But then there was today.  I hadn’t walked in the park for a couple of weeks and while I was gone something happened.  The white goose that had been adopted left his brown family and joined the white geese.  But that’s not all.  Bubba, well Bubba had abandoned his brown family and had too rejoined the other group.  It is eerily familiar and seemingly sad.

I’m not sure what caused the change.  It could have been just time, it could have been peer pressure.  I just don’t know.  But I do know something that was unique and special was lost in the mix or rather unmixing. The baby now adult white goose seemed quite comfortable in his new environment.  But Bubba just wasn’t the same.  As I walked past the gaggle of geese there was one that stood out and I’m pretty sure it was Bubba.

This fellow who used to be so proud, his eyes filled with the fire of purpose, now stared with empty eyes.  There was no hiss, no sound of passion, no hint of protection.  Simply put, Bubba was now just one of the guys.  He was just another goose waddling around. What made him different was gone.  Bubba had lost his identity.

We need to realize that what happened to Bubba can easily happen to us as Jesus followers.  If it was peer pressure, if it was a cultural shift, what happened to him can and will happen to us.  That is why Paul wrote, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  If we are not careful the culture around us will pressure and push us to be just like them.

See, there were and are several white geese down at the park.  There was not a shortage of white geese but there was only one Bubba—only one who was willing to take a stand and protect those even different from himself.  The world needs some people who are willing to stand and be different.  The world needs some Jesus people who will live, act and love just like Him.  It’s not so we can be better than anybody.  It is so we can show them Someone who can help them be better—in fact, be made new.

If that is going to happen, we Jesus people have got to lay aside our differences, our prejudices, our soapboxes and just be like Him.  We have got to resist the pressure to become just another “goose in the gaggle.”  We have got to be light in a dark, damaged world.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Someone said, “These days, they are a changing” and the truth is, they are.  But we serve, we follow, the changeless one, Jesus the Christ.  And, if you are going to follow someone, that is the Someone to follow.  He is for you, He loves this world, and He is greater than any and all.  We can rest in Him because…He’s got this. 

“Spaghetti Ice”

They called it “spaghetti ice.” I called it heaven on earth. When Judy and I were married I was in the Air Force. About a year later we received orders to serve in Sembach, Germany. Let me just say it was an amazing time. We were newlyweds living in a beautiful country of hills and mountains, lush valleys, incredible evergreen forests and fairy tale castles. Like I said, it was pretty amazing. And it got better when I bumped into spaghetti ice.

We discovered spaghetti ice cream with some friends from church. “It” lived in a small town called Landstuhl. It was about a 15-mile drive to the place that sold this small piece of heaven. It was worth every mile. “What is spaghetti ice?” you say. Well, let me try and describe it to you.

First, imagine (I’m already drooling) a rich vanilla ice cream, pressed through a mold. It goes in looking like ice cream and comes out looking like a four or five-inch mound of spaghetti. Then right in the middle of the ice cream sat a big dollop of incredible whipped cream. Can someone say “amen?” But wait, I’m just getting started.

After its journey through the press they would lavishly cover the ice cream with a strawberry berry sauce. The crowning jewel was an ample sprinkling of finely ground coconut. I’m about to shout “hallelujah!”

Ready to buy your ticket to Landstuhl? The thing that amazed Judy and me was the fact that something so not spaghetti could look like spaghetti. It’s like your eyes were seeing one thing and your tongue was tasting another. The way they pressed it and dressed it make it look like something that it was not. Wait, I think that is what the world wants to do to us.

You see, regardless of the circumstances, there is a constant pressure from the world to press us and dress us like them. We are pressured to think like the world, dress like the world, do business like the world. Shortly after that we start being bitter like the world, hating like the world and fearing like the world. That could be why so many believers are fearful in these corona virus days. They are seeing life and circumstances through the eyes of the world.

But the deal is God says we are different. While He was praying for us, and how cool is that, Jesus said, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” Check it out. It’s recorded in John 17:16-17.

That word sanctify is a word that simply means “to be set apart.” When we became one of God’s kids He set us apart from the world. We live differently, speak differently, and do life differently. Now wait. That doesn’t mean we are better than anyone but we are to be different. And that different is to be the magnet that draws others to Jesus.

So, like the ice cream is pressed and dressed to look like spaghetti we will be pressured to be like everyone else. And when we are like everyone else we lose the ability and privilege to share the hope of Jesus. That’s why Paul writes in Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Don’t let the world put you through the press rather let God’s Word renew you to look like Jesus. People need hope today. People need Jesus. If that is going to happen we have to resist the urge to become “spaghetti ice” in a world that needs truth–that needs the real deal. Don’t be afraid to be different. Whether the fear comes from the corona virus or being different–we can rest in Him. After all, He’s got this.