Get Rid of the Tail! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Preparing a “fish” for the table:

“Nah, I’m not a fish, I’m a mammal. Tom and Wilma asked me here just ‘cuz I’m cute!”

Previously: We’ve been using the analogy of fish and fishing to describe our relationship with Christ: first, we swim into His net, just as we are (a bit fishy); afterwards, Christ begins to clean us like a fisherman cleans his prize catch.

Step 1: Wash it (“Something Fishy”)

Step 2: Cut off the head! (“Cleaning Fish”)

Step 2, part 2: Cut off the head! (“A Fish Out of Water”)

Step 3: Get rid of the tail!

The tail of a fish is boney, scaly, hard to chew and not very flavorful. When preparing a fish it pays to get rid of it. Christ wants to do the same when He’s preparing His “fish” for life on the road ahead.

In nature the tail of a fish performs two very important tasks: it propels and steers. It allows our finny friends to swim wherever they wish and whenever they wish. We, too, have something that enables us to go where we want when we want. It’s called the human will. The human will motivates and empowers us. It gives direction and determination. The phrases “He (or she) has a lot of will power” and “Where there’s a will there’s a way” spring to mind. And when someone is stubborn we often describe the person as “strong-willed.”

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: God created each of us to have a will of our own — the ability to choose for ourselves, to swim in our own personal style. When He first created us, He looked down and declared, That’s good!  And although He hopes we’ll use this God-given freedom to make the right decisions in life — for instance, to swim beside Him, not away from Him; in His great ocean, not in a mud puddle — we don’t often choose the best course for ourselves. That’s Bad!  In fact, without God’s daily guidance in every area of life, we always manage to screw things up. That’s when things can get pretty ugly!  But that’s okay. God understands that we’re only human. Again, He created us that way. He could have made us to be like little windup robots, but He didn’t want that. He wanted us to have free will.

Hey little fishy, you’re swimming the wrong way!

So how do we reconcile our free will (our desires, our plans, our inclinations, our dispositions, and our always poor choices) with God’s better plan and direction for our lives? Simple, make a conscious decision every day to “get rid of the tail”; to surrender your will and choose to do His will; to do the things He wants, not the things you want; to swim with God, with the current and not against it. In the end (haha, remember the fish’s tail), it all comes down to the choices we make because, after all, we have a free will. We can swim our way or swim with God, following Him wherever He leads.

“Jesus said … ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.'” (Matthew 16:24 NLT) Listen to Chris Tomlin’s cool song “I Will Follow” and choose to have the attitude expressed by it.

Join us on Thursday for Part 2 of “Get Rid of the Tail,” and we’ll explain how following Christ is like a “Surfin’ Safari”!

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A Fish Out Of Water (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Previously: We’ve been using the analogy of fish and fishing to describe our relationship with Christ: first, we swim into His net, just as we are (a bit fishy); afterwards, Christ begins to clean us like a fisherman cleans his prize catch.

Preparing a “fish”:

Step 1: Wash it (“Something Fishy”)

Step 2: Cut off the head! (Part 1: “Cleaning Fish”)

Step 2, Part 2: “A Fish Out of Water”

Cut off the head? For a fish, literally; for us, figuratively. For us, the head represents our thoughts and our perspective. As far as our perspective of life, we need to start seeing our lives, other people and all things, as God sees them. We must adopt a Judeo-Christian worldview; stop thinking the way the secular world thinks and start thinking the way God desires us. For instance, this world teaches that we need to look a certain way, dress a certain way, act a certain way, have a certain amount of money and move in certain social circles; and some people think that to truly have value, we need to be a certain color, or a certain gender, or belong to a certain fraternity, club, denomination, church … we could go on and on. But what does God think?

On the value of each of us, God wants you to be able to declare: “Thank You (God) for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it! (Psalm 139:14 NLT) But exactly how will we know it? On acceptance, God declares: “Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.” (Romans 15:7 NLT)

Again, how can we know such awesome things? We won’t unless we dive into the Word of God. And dive is the perfect word for us “fishes,” because the Holy Scriptures are frequently compared to water. Water cleanses, refreshes, and sustains us, just like God’s Word — if we let it! Which takes us back to the head: are we allowing God to cleanse our thoughts by “washing with water through the word” (Ephesians 5:26 NIV)? The Bible teaches that after we come to Christ we must renew (reprogram, refresh, and replenish) our minds daily!

This is a never-ending process. Medical doctors state that, in order to be healthy, we need to drink a sufficient amount of water each day. Similarly, to keep our sanity in this crazy, competitive, often chaotic great big world of ours, we need to daily flush out our “stinking thinking” (doubt, fear, hatred, selfishness, and all the other negative thoughts that normally and naturally swim in our heads) with positive, faith-filled thoughts. Easy, right? No way! We’re constantly bombarded with negative thoughts, from the things we read, hear, and see. Flushing out the bad stuff takes a steady flow of the good stuff, the water of the Word. Read it and ruminate on it, remember it and remind yourself of it.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT)

Here’s another way of putting it: “Don’t become like the people of this world. [pessimistic, cruel, critical, spiteful, etc.] Instead, change the way you think. Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants — what is good, pleasing, and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 God’s Word Translation)

Swim in the Word of God. Frolic and bathe in it! Lest you become like a fish out of water!

Tomorrow: “Get Rid of the Tail”

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