Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The (Extra) Ordinary Story

The (Extra) Ordinary Story

I.                   Family Stories

a.       All families have stories.  If you look in photo albums, you can find people and places and stories that go with them…sometimes family and/or stories you’ve never heard of.

b.      Uncle John Gemini project (my uncle worked at NASA and I shared about how proud I was of that and how that shaped my bent toward science and learning)

c.       God’s family has some stories, too.  The family photo album is quite a compository of amazing stories. 

II.                Mary and Joseph

a.       They were ordinary people
                                                              i.      Paying taxes!
                                                            ii.      Life isn’t going the ‘planned’ way.
                                                          iii.      Between Joseph’s middle aged callouses and Mary’s stretch marks, this couple looks a lot like us…unless of course, we consider who lived inside them.

b.      God used them to bring Jesus to this world.  Jesus entered this ordinary world, on an ordinary day, by way of two ordinary people…just like you and me!!!

III.             You and Me
a.       “Congratulations:  You qualify for a modern day Christmas story.  God enters the world through folks like you and comes on days like today.”[1]

b.      These were not royalty; they were not Prince Joseph or Queen Mary.  It was not Passover or Columbus Day that saw the birth of Jesus.  No it was so very ordinary.  And maybe that’s the best part of Christmas, the best part of God’s best story:  The Word of God, Jesus, came to ordinary people like you and me.  Because if that’s true, then it gives us hope that God can and will do something extraordinary through our lives, too.

c.       Too often we dismiss ordinary.  We hardly ever hear someone say, “I want to be ordinary…or look normal…or make an average living.”  Max Lucado points out that one place we do want to hear “normal” is when the doctor holds the sonogram to our pregnant wife’s bellies… ‘two arms, two feet, ten toes, two eyes…everything looks normal.’  Sometimes, normal isn’t just good.  It’s the best.

d.      God’s story is full of ordinary people.  Abraham a simple farmer.  David a little shepherd boy.  Isaiah, simple writer.  Peter a simple fisherman, and Mary, an ordinary girl.  However, when they opened themselves up to God, their ordinary lives are turned into extraordinary miracles that changed the world forever.

e.       We’re young, old, middle aged, middle income, poor, educated, uneducated…namely, very ordinary people.  But the question is:  Are we open to letting God do something extraordinary in our lives?  Now before you jump on board, I want to warn you:  Extraordinary is NOT ordinary.  Most of us don’t get real excited about becoming an unwed pregnant teenager like Mary.  Most us pray that God would slay the giant so that we don’t have to battle him face to face.  Ordinary people pray ordinary prayers of being blessed with comfortability…not extraordinary blessings of leaving everything behind for Jesus to create God’s Kingdom on earth like Peter.

f.       The ordinary people of God’s Family stories are extraordinary because they invited God’s extraordinary power into their lives.  They made a decision that was the most important decision a human can make:  God’s Story is bigger than my story.  In fact, my story is a part of God’s story…The question is:  How does my life fit in?

g.      Brothers and Sisters, I challenge you to the ordinary life of Joseph and Mary giving birth to Jesus so that the world might be saved.  Ordinary people in God’s Story, but “in God’s story, ordinary matters.”[2]  For our God makes the ordinary, extraordinary.  Amen.

IV.             Here in this ordinary church, with ordinary people, we partake in ordinary bread and ordinary juice.  But here in the presence of God, together as followers of Jesus, Brothers and Sisters filled with the Holy Spirit of God, something extraordinary is happening.  Are you open to it?  Are you willing to be the extraordinary person who births Jesus to this world?  I invite you to this ordinary table to worship our extraordinary God, who is calling us ordinary people to an extraordinary life.


[1] Max Lucado, God’s Story, Your Story, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 2011, p. 33.
[2] Lucado, pg. 37.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sermons...Coming Soon!

I think I'm going to start posting sermons again.  I have noticed that those have been my most popular postings.  What has fascinated me is the global interest of sermons.  I'll be posting some of my recent sermons soon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Long Flight Goodbye...

This morning our family paused the 'getting ready' routine to watch the beginning of the last flight of the Space Shuttles.  Endeavor piggy-backing from Kennedy Space Center to Los Angeles is not quite the Shuttle legacy I would envision (LA, really!?!), but it was special to watch its last take off from Kennedy.

I'm proud that my Aunt Phyllis and Uncle John played roles in the building, launches, and missions of the Shuttle program.  It was in fact the last major program in which they were involved at NASA.  To see the Shuttle fly off was actually emotional for me.  It was a goodbye again to my Uncle and a salute to all of the men and women heroes that led our nation's space program forward to new frontiers.

Space exploration has been one of the biggest economic stimulators over the past 5 decades, and yet, the American people and the politicians are reluctant to fund the program.  Our short-sightedness and our concern for today's dollar are appalling and setting back human exploration by decades.  Imagine if Spain had said, "You know, Colombus, it was expensive getting there.  Let's just keep fighting the Muslims and save our money for more guns and making our people happy."  Ironic that the same issues were at play; however, Spain had the courage and foresight to push the envelope.  Humanity would never be the same.

After this flight, I wonder, when will we fly again for the stars?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Quick Links

For those new to my blog, I like to do what I used to call 'Speedlinks.'  These are just some interesting reads around the web.

  1. Here is a really cool photograph of cubes.  This guy takes great pictures at 'The Daily Dose of Imagery.'
  2. How do you get to be a successful venue attracting millions of people every year?  Go away!  According to Scott McClellan, the NFL brings us football, gives us a show, and goes away for a few months.  The football void brings us back for more!  I wonder how this could apply to other businesses or organizations?
  3. Seth Godin reflects on what it means that we have memories from events and from people we have never personally experienced
  4. Also from Scott McClellan, here are some thoughts from the "Restoration Fiasco."  My two favorite:  Good intentions don't justify themselves and It's easy to offer a distorted picture of Jesus.
  5. Relevant Magazine has a great piece to remember 9/11.  My favorite is the story of the woman saying she felt sorry for the young man because "Your generation will have to deal with this."  It was an amazingly astute comment in terms of governance.  Economy, military, politics, laws, freedoms, and health issues will be DIRECTLY affected by that one day for the next 50-100 years.
  6. Happiness vs. Holiness?  This writer makes a case that we have made Happiness an idol.
  7. Satirical Christian writer Jon Acuff, wrote a funny piece about interruping Facebook prayer.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Worship Leading to Faith?

The Out of Ur blog posted a great article on worship today.  It warned of the 'mountain top' experience trap that many church leaders set up to fail.
I know and agree that science rightly sees many worship experiences as reproducable, emotive events.  I think worship leaders have known these things for years before the research was brought to light.  However, I do not believe that the 'experience' is therefore wrong; rather, it proves that a strong worship experience does impact human beings in profound ways in regard to mind, heart, and body.

Where the failure lies is the pastoral leadership to follow the 'mountain top' experience with a process of discipleship.  Worship CAN BE transformative, but that is not the norm.  Unfortunately, many churches plan like like it is always transformative.

The questions we must ask ourselves:
  1. What do I practice daily in regard to my faith?  How am I intentionally trying to grow my own faith?
  2. How do we connect small groups, mission, outreach, and other discipleship events to Sunday morning worship?  In other words, how do we bring the mountain top to the valley!?!
  3. Are we tracking or evaluating how we are moving people through the process?  Worship to Discipleship to Faith in Action?
  4. What do we not see that we could do better?

I'm Back...

After a year long hiatus, I've decided to begin blogging again.

I have had several people ask my why I stopped. Some of the reasons are private, and some are not.

Two reasons that I don't mind sharing: I was too busy with too many things. There's only so much creative juice, and it was being spent elsewhere! The other reason wasn't sure about the future of blogs.  I was starting to believe they were on the way out, but now that thought seems premature.

I'm going to write like I did with my first blog. It'll be more of an thought board that I'm allowing others to see and interact with online.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter Musical

It was a great experience. I hadn't done "acting" since I was in a 7th grade comedy skit-show.

My favorite memories will be getting to know Don Cowper better (he's great!), getting goose-bumps from hearing the choir EVERY week, and knowing that I CAN memorize lines.

It was a lot of fun, and I'm glad I did it. My prayer is that it was honoring to our Lord, and that someone was touched by the play.