Do Something Different by Randy Rowley 11/11/08 ©


On a hot Friday in late April, nine friends and I headed to the 74 Ranch near Campbellton for an FCS 24-hour sporting clays shoot.  The event included four meals and sleeping 40 winks, of course, so our shooters averaged 11 hours of shooting.

One of the Station #7 traps was very unusual.  The shooter and the traps were on the same horizontal plane at most stations; therefore, the shooter will be shooting no lower than horizontally unless there is a rabbit target.

But one particular trap was situated at the bottom of a ditch – at least 20 feet below the shooter.  The station was on the top of the hill, overlooking the ditch.  The trap threw its clays straight and level down the length of the ditch with gusto!  So the shooter had to deal with leading a fast-moving target sufficiently and shooting at a target significantly below him.

This trap was among the hardest of the 60+ traps at the 15 stations.  Most of our group dealt poorly with it, but I had the hardest time figuring it out.  I started with a two-barrel width (four foot) lead, shot at about four clays, and missed them.   My friends told me I was way behind them.  I increased my lead to six feet for the next few clays and got the same results.  My friends said I was still behind them.

I then increased my lead to eight feet and got the same results.  I almost didn’t believe my friends when they told me I was still behind them.  Desperate, I decided to increase my lead to 12 feet on the next clay.  I said, “Pull,” the clay streaked down the ditch, and I splattered it.   I stared incredulously at where the clay had been.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  It boggled my mind the clays from a trap no more than 20 yards from us required such a lead.

I decided it must’ve been a fluke.  However, I kept the same lead for the next clay and killed it too.  From then on, I consistently plastered them.  I did something different, with the help of my friends, until I got it right.

As Christians, we also sometimes find ourselves missing the target.  We’re reading, studying, meditating on, and memorizing the Bible.  We’re praying and worshiping.  We’re witnessing (sharing redemption through Christ with the lost) and serving others.  But we’re still not growing and living the abundant life Jesus told us about in John 10:10b (NKJV) – “‘I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.'”

Sometimes we’re missing the target because we’re not responding correctly to trials or when God tests us, as when God tested Abraham by telling him to sacrifice his son Isaac (see Genesis 22:1-18).  Romans 5:3-4 (NLT) says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us–they help us learn to endure.  And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

We’re to rejoice when we experience trials and thank God in every situation expecting God to work in our lives through the trials and tests.  If we respond to a trial or test angrily, ungratefully, or woefully with an “I can’t believe this is happening to me” attitude, we won’t experience God.  Just like schoolteachers test their students to see if they’re ready for the next concept or grade, God tests us to see if we’re ready to be used in a greater way by him.  Our response to tests determines whether we pass or fail.

Sometimes we’re missing the target because of sin and strongholds in our lives.  For example, 1 Peter 3:7 (NLT) says, “In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives.  Treat her with understanding as you live together.  She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life.  If you don’t treat her as you should, your prayers will not be heard.”

Other examples include:

  • A preacher may write the best sermons, put together the best discipleship programs, and visit widows and the sick, but God won’t use him if he covets money.
  • A deacon may do everything his church expects and the scriptures command, but uncontrolled anger will ruin his ministry.
  • A teacher may prepare for a Bible lesson for hours, even looking up the text’s Greek meaning, but his lessons won’t be applied if he’s addicted to porn.

It probably amazes God how hypocritical we are.  Some Christian men openly despise the sin of homosexuality while secretly lusting after women.  Other believers fight against those who think it’s fine to kill babies before they’re born while secretly wanting abortion doctors to die.  Other Christians proclaim to want spiritually sick people to be taught while secretly hoping others train them.

1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  James 5:16 (NASB) says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.  The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”  Proverbs 11:14 (NASB) says, “Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.”  We must stop refusing to deal with the sin that trapped us and begin to get honest with God and our fellow believers through confession and asking mature Christians for help.

Sometimes we’re missing the target because we’re trying to succeed via a program, schedule, or formula.  In Galatians chapters 1 and 2, we learn that, after Paul left the territory of Galatia, certain men arrived and began to teaching the Galatian Christians they could become righteous or more righteous by adhering to the Jewish calendar of festivals and fasts and through obedience to the Jewish law.  Paul wrote a strong warning to those who would change the gospel (the good news of redemption of sin through Christ) in Galatians 1:8.  He said, “And though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”

Today, most Christians know we don’t have to obey the Jewish law to be justified; however, we’ve created our own rules – calling them programs, schedules, and formulas.  We always do our Bible reading in the morning and in the same order (Old Testament, Psalms, Proverbs, and New Testament).  Our Prayer time has a specific theme for each day of the week (e.g., leaders on Sunday).  We always witness by using a gospel tract.  For some of us, our spiritual lives have become rituals.

Our Bible reading and prayer time can be both scheduled and spontaneous – it doesn’t have to be one or the other.  We can witness by sharing our testimonies of what Jesus did and is doing for us – we don’t only have to use a gospel tract.

“Do something different” doesn’t just apply to shooting, fishing, and shooting.  Sometimes we need to do things differently in our Christian lives.  How would things have turned out if:

  • Noah hadn’t done something different when God commanded him to build an ark when it had yet to rain on the earth?
  • Moses hadn’t done something different when God commanded him to deliver the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt?
  • Joshua hadn’t done something different when God commanded him to go into the Promised Land and possess it?
  • The teenage shepherd David hadn’t done something different and taken down a giant Philistine warrior with only a sling and a stone?
  • Paul hadn’t done something different and went to the Gentiles and shared about salvation through Jesus?
  • Martin Luther hadn’t done something different and nailed his 95 Theses to the Castle Church’s door in Wittenberg and sparked the protestant reformation?
  • John and Charles Wesley hadn’t done something different and led the Church of England’s revival, which later resulted in the founding of the Methodist and Wesleyan churches?
  • Billy Graham hadn’t done something different and led his crusades?
  • A host of others hadn’t done something differently?

Often following God meant, and continues to mean, to swim against the current and do something different.

Randy and David Quijano

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 4-24-05_clay_targets_in_flight-300x300.jpg

Clays from the ditch traps (upper and lower middle)

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