Tuesday, February 28, 2012

WEiRD Thoughts On Money

WEiRD: Because NORMAL still isn’t working.

Over the past two weeks two very sensitive topics have dominated everyone’s conversations in our community. From the Centralia High School, Body Shoppe, Beauty Shop, Schnucks, and even our local churches, everyone is talking about the quick high rising prices of gas and the possible closing of the Murray Center. Both topics have a huge, devastating economic impact on our community. Faced with uncertainty, we all face the fear, anxiety, frustration, and stress not knowing the outcome. We can begin to feel hopeless. As the church we must be willing to respond. I encourage everyone to get active and sign the petition to save the Murray Center, voice your concern, and do whatever you can. We need to keep in mind and prayer the residence and employees of the center and their families. Whatever the outcome our community will need our church more than ever. It makes our vision of connecting people to the love of Jesus Christ more important than ever. So it’s time to get WEiRD.

As last week we kicked off our sermon series WEiRD: Because Normal Isn’t Working we discovered that many of us are living a life that our society is telling us is normal but it’s leading us to a place in our life full of stress, anxiety, and fear. (If you missed the sermon, we strongly encourage you to watch it on Facebook or YouTube.) The fear we hold now is because we are living in a world that is trying hard to convince us that some things are normal. The normal view of money tells us that who has the most money wins. Those who don’t have a lot of money are losers. Normal says our money is our security. A normal view of money is that our money is disposable. We can do with it whatever we want. Normal tells us that if gas prices continue to rise and the Murray Center closes, along with jobs lost at the Post Office, we are doomed.

But what if there was another way? What if there was a WEiRD way of looking at money? While we may not have control over gas prices or facilities closing, we do have control over our attitude and view on money. What if we can adopt a WEiRD Biblical view on money? What if there was a WEiRD way we could take back control of the financial area of our life? What if we could reposition ourselves financially that we can face whatever awaits us in the future? Normal isn’t working. If you are stressed, confused, or obsessed over money join us as we explore WEiRD thoughts on money. We will uncover relevant Biblical principles that will change your life forever. As we face the uncertainties of tomorrow, we don’t face them alone. It’s time we get WEiRD because normal isn’t working.

Daniel replied, "No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries." -- Daniel 2:27-28

See ya in church but until then take care of yourself and one another.
Peace. Love & Happiness,

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

NORMAL still isn't working

Normal (adjective) – conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.

Normal is 48.5% of all American’s receiving some form of government assistances. Normal means it is easier to start a new church than transform an old one. Normal is criticizing instead of mentoring. Normal is judging others by their actions and our selves by our intentions. Normal is being happy because you’re married instead of striving to have a happy marriage. Normal is expecting a different outcome without a different approach or effort. Normal is focusing on our children’s achievements without caring about their character. Normal is more people attend Orphan basketball games than all the churches in our area combined. Normal is blaming others for our problems. Normal is waiting to be asked before stepping forward and leading. Normal is putting our own needs first. Normal is getting revenge for those who have hurt us. Normal is thinking we are not good enough. Normal is avoiding other people not like us. Normal is a church that has good food, decent worship service, and decorates well at Christmas. Normal is praying only when someone is sick or we need help. Normal is more people are more likely to invite a friend, co worker, or family member to a movie than to church. Normal is describing our relationship with Christ as lukewarm. Normal is going through the motions. Normal is consuming more calories than we burn. Normal is the grass is always greener some place else. Normal wants growth without change. Normal is 6 out of 10 churches in the US have an average worship attendance of less than 100 people.

When we look closely at the life and teaching of Jesus we discover that Jesus was not normal. Jesus was weird. Jesus taught us a different, non normal, way to live. We can choose to live our life anyway we wish, we can live a normal life, which cause us extreme anxiety, stress, and deterioration of relationships and health. Jesus shows us a better way. When compared to our society’s way to live, Jesus’ way just seems weird. The Apostle Paul writes to a faith community in Ephesus and says, “And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go..” Paul reminds us that a normal life can lead us to be unable to find reality. Normal has robbed us the ability to think straight. Maybe it’s time to reclaim our life, take control of things, not be influenced by others but be influenced by God. It’s time to stop being normal. It’s time to be weird. Invite someone to join you on this journey as we examine how be can break from the normal and get weird.
Peace, Love & Happiness

Monday, February 13, 2012

it B time 2 get WEiRD because Normal just isn’t working…

Growing up I had always been that kid who accepted anyone. Call it my upbringing, essence of my faith, or my unique journey in life but I wanted to avoid being normal at all cost. I didn’t necessarily strive to be “cool” but I thought I was. (I had lines cut in my hair, two years before Vanilla Ice, Ice Baby!) Looking back, it seems I always had a very diverse group of friends. Deep down, I think I really wanted to stand out. I wanted to stand out not by being in one particular click, but by being in all groups. For better or worse, I never really wanted to be normal. Even today in ministry, I don’t want to be normal. I don’t want to serve a normal church.

What is normal? Normal (adjective) – conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.

Normal people are stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Many of their relationships are, at best, strained and, in most cases, just surviving. Even though we live in one of the most prosperous places on earth, normal is still just living paycheck to paycheck and never getting ahead. In today’s world, lust, premarital sex, guilt, and shame are far more common than purity, virginity, and healthy married sex life. Normal is 75% of those people in the Centralia area do not attend a faith community on a regular basis, although 97% of them believe that Jesus was God’s son. Normal is parents waking up at 6:00 am in a weekend to drive their children to a sporting event or practice but will not drive them five minutes to church. Normal is individuals are working more hours for no increase in pay, although the cost of living is at its highest. Normal is Internet porn. Normal is the US government’s making the Catholic Church give out birth control but not letting kids pray in public at school events. Normal is being “broke”. Normal is not spending time with your children. Normal is spending more money than you make. Normal is an unbalanced budget. Normal is having to take off our shoes and go through x-ray machines to board an airplane. Normal is youth smoking bath salts and liquid drain cleaner to get high. Normal is growing up in a home that at least one parent is an addict. Normal is taking medication daily like Prozac, Paxil, Xanax, and Zoloft. Normal is cosmetic surgeries. Normal is teenagers having children out of wedlock. Normal is moving from church to church instead of lovingly working out our differences. Normal is communicating through Facebook, text messages, emails and not looking anyone in the eye or giving them a hug. Normal is spending more time with an electronic device than learning an art, skill, or hobby. Normal is eating in a car or on the couch instead of around a table. Normal is waiting for someone else to solve your problems. Normal is “it’s never my fault.” Normal is divorce. Normal is declining donations to non profits organizations and church offerings and increased revenue in gambling and lotteries. Normal is trying to get fame by being on a reality show. Normal is lay-offs, bankruptcies, and foreclosures. Normal is not telling your children daily how much you love them and are proud of who they are not their latest achievement. Normal is chasing true peace and happiness in all the wrong places.

And when it comes to God, the majority believes in him, but the teachings of Scripture rarely make it into their everyday lives. Simple put normal isn’t working anymore. If you do what normal people do, you’ll end up where normal people end up. These days, it’s normal to be stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted but Jesus shows us a better way. We can do better than normal, we deserve better than normal, our lives can be better, we can be weird. I’m ready to be weird like Jesus. I am ready to have a weird relationship with Christ, serve a weird church, have a weird marriage, have a weird relationship with my children, I can't be normal anymore. I’ve ready to learn how to live a weird life by Jesus. Join me on this journey to be WEiRD..
Peace, Love & Happiness,

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Not Good Enough"

There is a mean bully that lives deep inside of my conscious. I’m not sure exactly when he arrived, but I know he didn’t come from my parents or family. On most days I can ignore him. He lurks just behind my self esteem and feeds off my insecurities and defeats. He comes alive with that quiet voice inside of my head that says, “You’re not good enough.” Maybe you have experienced him too. Whenever we get the courage to try something new, begin a new project, establish new goals and objectives that bully shows up to say “you can try, but you know you are not good enough.” We hear those words over and over in our minds and before we know we begin to say the same thing to our children, our grandchildren, or even others in the church. We might not say them out loud of course because that would be rude, but we say them with our actions and lack of enthusiasm. There are times we can over come this voice and move forward but most of the time we listen to them and stand still. It freezes us from moving forward. It constantly has us compare ourselves to others.

This bully carries over into our faith as well. When we think about how God’s loves us, how Christ sacrificed himself of our mistakes, how at the end of the day, with all our mess ups, God still forgives us, loves us, and desires a close relationship with us, we hear that voice of “you’re not good enough.” The truth is that we are not good enough to save ourselves. That can only come through the love, grace, and mercy of our Savior Jesus Christ. But we allow the bully’s voice to keep us from moving forward in our faith: “I’m not good enough to get involved in our faith community; I don’t have any gifts to offer.” “I’m not good enough to invite people to church, because my life is not perfect.” “I’m not good enough to lead a new ministry in the church, I don’t have much time.” “I’m not good enough to talk about my faith.” “I’m not good enough to serve God in a public role in the faith community.” We have heard these voices and they have kept us from growing in our faith and relationship with God and others. Through out scripture, Christ’s tells us many times that we are good enough. The gifts that we bring will be sanctified and bring honor and glory to God. But we must be willing to bring them and not horde them or keep them hidden. It is the way we live out our love for Christ. It is recognizing that we are all children of God, valued, accepted, and desired by God to give what we have.
When we are willing to stop listening to the bully in our heads, we begin to grow, mature, and become stronger for the journey ahead. When we step forward with our gifts and take that risk, God blesses us beyond measure. We face life with a confidence that only comes from up above. We might not feel we are good enough, but God has the confidence in us to use us, if we are willing to defeat the bully inside of us.
Peace, Love & Happiness.