Monday, March 26, 2012

“WEiRD Time”

During the journey through the Lenten season, we stop and focus on the last season of Jesus’ ministry here on earth. One of the great mysteries for me was why did Christ decide “now” was the time to radically change his ministry. Jesus was at the peak of his ministry, fame, and his teachings. Just when Christ was making the greatest impact on the lives of many, he chose to transition his ministry to something radically different. Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, what we celebrate as Palm Sunday, was the mark of time for all creation. The people had one normal expectation that the time was right for the Savior to free them from Roman control. Jesus had this weird time of reconciling all creation for eternity.  
This week we end our six part sermon series WEiRD: Because Normal Isn’t Working. The intent of this series was not for you to just listen to, agree with, be entertained ,or inspire other pastors of other churches, but for each of you to slow down, ponder God’s message for you, and most importantly begin to adjust your life from normal to weird.  Simply put, the series is about life change.  If you missed any of the messages we encourage you to go to our website and watch them or watch them again. God has a message for you. My prayer is that you begin to live a WEiRD life, not weird for weird sakes but a God WEiRD kind of way.
Today we live in a weird time. Radical changes loom at every corner of our conscious. The threat of the closing of the Disease Control Center and the Murray Center, unstable countries obtain nuclear weapons, and a government election, so it’s vital we understand God’s principles for weird time.  
Normal tells us that busyness equals success. Normal has convinced us that if we stay busy, moving at a hectic pace, we will be successful. Normal tells our church if we just offer more “stuff” no matter if its relevant or not, we will be more successful. Normal concepts of time have us running our children from sports practice to sports practice playing every sport because the busier they are the more successful they will be.  Normal says we don’t have enough time.  WEiRd time reveals to us, we seem to always find time for the things we place value on.  Normal says our job is where we should give our best.  WEiRD time tells us we should give our best when we walk into our house and greet our family. Normal has us convinced that we are too important to disconnect. Normal feeds my ego telling me that others need me. I must stay plugged in all the time. WEiRD reminds me that I am 100% replaceable except in my relationships with God and my loved ones. WEiRD time tells us we are too important to God and to our loved ones to settle living a normal life. Normal is  not working so get weird before you lose something you can’t get back. Jesus’ time for now was about reconciliation, maybe it’s time for us to reconcile the priorities in our life, a broken relationship, our own forgiveness and guilt, and celebrate that our Savior has come to save us. Save us from normal.

Peace, Love & Happiness,

Monday, March 19, 2012

WEiRD Trades

Have you ever noticed that we live in a world that is ridicules scattered? Normal is living in a world where it is possible to live scattered all the time. Because of text messages, cell phones, voice mail, Twitter, Facebook and email, we live in a world where it is normal to be scattered. These things are totally neutral but the way they influence our life can either enhance us or totally distract us. Try to have a conversation with someone while they are staring at their iPhone checking their Facebook status. My family and I were eating out when I noticed another minister from another church in my town and his family at the table near us. When our food came as our family custom, we bowed for a quick prayer and began to eat. I noticed the other pastors family were still bowed. I told my family were are not praying long enough, come on, we got to up our game. Their food arrived, they were still bowed. I'm feeling like such the slacker at this point. Then I noticed they were not praying at all, they were all staring and touching their iPhones underneath  the table. Throughout their entire meal they did not speak to each other one word, but maybe they were texting each other.
Normal life has forced us to live in a way where no one or no one thing has our undivided attention. Normal call’s us to multitask, do three things at once, and run from place to place, activity to activity. Today a normal life is a life that is scattered not focused. Leading a scattered life leads to a life of mediocrity. When we are spread too thin nothing or no one gets the best of us. Is it possible that if we run on the hamster wheel of a normal life, that our spouse, our loved ones, our children, our friends don’t get the best of us. They don’t get our undivided attention.

Jesus offers a challenge to us in the gospel of Mark 8:34-27. Jesus asks a question that challenges our normal way of life. He asks “What if we live our whole life living normal and at the end of our life we realize we have nothing?” He says, “Or what can anyone give in a trade for their soul?” Jesus is implying that each and every day we life our life there is a trade involved. Each and every day, every minute and hour of each day there is a weird trade going on. Whenever we are doing something or not doing something we are making a trade. We are trading our life for something. It is possible that we can spend all our time and energy going after the newest, fastest, most expensive, latest, most popular, shiniest, and best but at the end of the day once we get it we realize we are no more happiness than when we began. That’s perfectly normal but normal isn’t working.
God is challenging us in order to find what we really desire in life is to make some weird trades. We if truly desire happiness, peace, and joy in our life we must be willing to make some weird trades. We must be willing to makes some weird trades. We must trade scattered for focused, trade instant gratification for peace, and trade our shame for freedom. If we have the courage to make these trades at the end of the day, we may not be normal but we may have found what we were looking for. To see how to put these weird trades into practice, join us for Part V of our WEiRD sermon series. WEiRD Trades.
Live a Weird life and take care of yourself and one another,
Peace, Love and Happiness,

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

“Just One WEiRD Church”

Press Release: "I SERVE a WEIRD church.” Yes, in case you haven’t realized it by now, the church I currently pastor, First Christian Church is a weird church. We are far from normal. It’s fine because normal will lead us down the path to a destination where we don’t want to be. It will lead us to normal. We are a WEiRD church and something weird is going on. We are not weird just for different sake but in a God Weird kind of way. God is moving. There is not a week that goes by that someone doesn’t email or text me to tell me about what God is doing in their life.God is touching people. If you are brand new or been around FCC forever, you will agree that this ain’t normal. God is touching people, God is doing something unique as He is pouring out his Spirit upon us and it keeps on getting weirder by the minute and we really wouldn’t want it any other way.

Why don’t we want to be a normal church? Because Jesus calls us, desires for us, and instructs us to be a weird church. Normal church is worrying about numbers in worship each week. While Jesus was not bothered by large crowds, he wasn’t impressed by them either. Weird church says the only number we are concerned about it one. We understand, like Jesus, in the midst of a crowd is the one; the one marriage, the one single mom, the one widow, the one hurting, the one teenager, the one lost. Normal says build up your attendance numbers. Jesus kind of weird says focus on the one. Normal says spend the churches money on sound systems, lighting, and video stuff as it will help you draw a crowd. Jesus’ weird says spend it on Centralia Group Workcamp; as we host 450 young people from around the world, to repair 65 homes free of charge for those struggling in our community, and bring a true sense of hope and love to real people in need. Normal says you have to have one distinct worship style that focuses on entertaining. Weird church says offer Fusion Worship that connects all generations together in praise and worship, enhances the traditions of the faith, and is life changing. We provide just one service that doesn’t separate but offers relevant and Spirit-felt time to be in the Holy presence of God. Normal says you have to have a good looking charismatic preacher who is famous in his own community. Weird is FCC got a middle aged, washed up musician from Memphis, Tennessee who rides a Harley and has no concept of fashion. Normal is leading a Bible Study; weird is spending individual quiet time with God daily in SOAP. Normal says invite people like your self to church. Weird is not just sitting at the feet of Jesus but helping carry the heavy load of the lost, broken, and normal people unlike you. Normal says when times are financially hard preserve the money you have. Weird says we are giving more money away to help others than ever before. Normal says it’s all about us. Weird says it’s all about them. Jesus taught us to be a WEiRD church. Normal is about going with the crowd, doing what everyone else is doing, moving from place to place, and building up the numbers. But remember that while Jesus was necessarily bothered by the crowds. He wasn’t impressed by them either. Why? Because normal isn’t working. So get Weird; join us this Sunday for Fusion Worship, as we look at how God is calling us to be a very WEiRD church.
See ya in Fusion worship, but until then take care of yourself and one another.

Monday, March 5, 2012

WEiRD is Better..

Like most Jr. High school young boys, I thought I was “Maverick” from Top Gun. In my mind, (cue the Top Gun theme song music) I was the Mack Daddy of the East End Skating rink. My confidence was high, my self esteem primed, and my ego inflated, I thought I had the world all figured out. Up until I asked the prettiest girl there to couples skate. Then I got the most crushing blow of my life. “No way!” she exclaimed, “You’re too weird.” I could have recovered from anything but weird. It was devastating for a Jr. High school boy because what I had avoided all my life was being weird, being different. I could have handled fat, ugly, or even gross but not weird because I had worked hard my entire thirteen years of existence trying not to be weird. I even wore a Members Only jacket. Anything but weird as her words made my life take a drastic turn. From that moment on, life was about being normal, valuing what others thought of me, and trying hard to please other people. I had to be normal.

No matter our age many of us still cringe at the thought of others people thinking we are weird, not normal. In reality it is OK to be different because in today’s culture normal is overwhelmed, normal is broken relationships, and normal is living a life full of fear and anxiety. Most of us desire something different in life but might not know where to turn. When we venture off the normal path and begin to live a God kind of weird life, normal begins to pressure us to conform. There is that inward pressure we have of wanting people to like us, to blend in, to avoid being called different. We witness it the same at thirteen as we do at fifty. It can be exhausting. If the crowd is doing it, we feel drawn to do it also. If it’s happening down the street, we must do it too, because we don’t want to be the weird couple, the weird family, or the weird church. We want to be like everyone and feel pressure to conform to normal even when normal is miserable and misery loves company.

How do we break the pressure of normal? What does God say about being different? Do we live a life that is trying to please normal or please God? Is being WEiRD truly better? If you feel the pressure of being normal join us for Part III: WEiRD is Better as we discover God’s instruction on living a weird life. Weird is a life of joy, peace, purpose, and happiness. Maybe the place to find what you are looking for in life can be found in a weird place, the body of Christ known as the church. Together we can explore how being WEiRD is better because we can’t wear our Member’s Only jacket or thinking we’re Maverick, (cue Top Gun theme song music) forever. That’s too normal and normal isn’t working.
Peace, Love and Happiness,
The WEiRD Minister