Monday, February 06, 2006

Something Beyond Normal
Yesterday our pastor was preaching about living our lives in the grace and mercy of the Lord. He mentioned how that God doesn't want us to be in bondage and needing to get saved daily, but to accept the Lord and live in Him and for Him...it was a powerful message. Somewhere in the middle of it all he mentioned not being normal...defining normal as the standard set by what everyone else is doing. If the majority is doing a certain thing, then it becomes normal. I sat up for the one...so if one in two homes is divorcing...it's normal? If I go down my block and the majority of the people on it drink, smoke, cuss, commit adultery, read the newspaper in their drawers on the front porch, whatever...as long as the majority is doing it...it's normal?
The call of God to our generation must be to do something beyond normal! We have never be called to do what everyone else was doing. In fact, that's exactly what got people like Saul and Samson in trouble wasn't it? Israel got Saul because they wanted to be like every other nation, God wasn't enough, they wanted a King like everyone else. Samson said that if his hair was cut he would be like any other man...compromising his relationship with God simply to fit in and gain the affection and attention of one determined to sell him out!
Can I say that I am not for sale! May I say to you that while I would appreciate the fact that people like me and can identify with me, that there is a deep desire inside of me to rise beyond what others are doing and really go somewhere in God! Normal means that I pray, preach, publish, present myself, act like, walk like, talk like, do everything like someone else. I'm thinking of a spiritual movie, "What A Girl Wants", the story of a girl who meets her very proper Bristish father for the first time...she's from San Fransisco...quite different. Things aren't going so well for her in England, the press is on her case, so she decides to fit in...finally her boyfriend asks her the simple question: "Why are you trying to so hard to fit in when you were made to stand out!"
Even within the realms of christianity there are churches, ministers, people, who become the standard for what is deemed normal and effective. So if we fit the mold these have set we are considered normal and acceptable...but normal and acceptable to who? Could it be possible that God created us with individual and corporate identities? Is it possible that one Saddleback is enough, that the only true Willowcreek is in Barrington, IL? Could it be that God is looking for somebody that will allow Him to develop them to the place that they become the them God always desired for them to be?
I'm just thinking I want to be beyond normal...I must enter in...only there can I find out who I really am!

8 comments:

michigan preacher said...

I think that Jesus is our ultimate example. He was always upsetting the religious apple cart, wasn't he? He wasn't trying to fit in with the crowd. That's what the Pharisee's wanted to see him do. That's why they asked his disciples, "why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" In this world, but not of it.

Thanks for giving me something to think about, Neil. God bless!
~Jeff

Darrell said...

Awesome word for today. It just so happens I was on the phone with a man who has visited my church a couple of times and talking about this very issue. I am going to forward him a link to this and let him read it for himself.
Something the Lord has been really dealing with me over the past few weeks about is how we have watered down our doctrine and our stand in recent years to get people into our churches. I am convinced that while we must reach the lost, we must reach them with a message that transforms their lives, not just one that gets them to attend our church.

Thanks Neil for sharing!

Exqsme said...

Well I don't know if anyone would call me normal ROFL A little off would be more like it hahahaha

Maybe this is why churches struggle to grow.. because of trying to fit in the mold. I know there have been times when we have read things like *Ten steps to a great youth group* or *fives ways to double your attendance* And they may give some god tips and ideas... but it's easy to fall into the "If I follow this exactly I should get the same result"

Why is it that humans like to have a recipe for everything...

Great post.. I too want to enter in and discover who I am in Jesus for myself, and not because I've followed jsut the right steps and procedures.

Libby said...

I have often been criticized by supervisors who want me to be and do everything just like everyone else in spite of the fact that my methods are successful for me. I am mediocre when I teach like everyone else and I have noticed that other teachers who are "just like everyone else" are also usually mediocre. When I have an administrator who allows me the freedom to be me and try new things, then I am successful, even exceed expectations at times.

I have said many times that I will never discount a student who wants to attempt something that doesn't seem within his power to do. I have been pleasantly surprised too many times. Even the students who fail still come away with a sense of accomplishment for trying something no one thought they would have the courage to try.

Sometimes I think God wants us to be and try things not in the norm because in that we become the "peculiar people" the Bible talks about. No I don't mean weird and yes I understand what the scripture means but don't you think it also means a people that stand out from the crowd? People that others take notice of? If others don't notice us, then how can our lives be an effective witness?

Albert Einstein said, "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds!" God doesn't want us to be mediocre Christians or citizens. He wants us to stand out. I may be nothing without Him, but I should certainly be 'great spirit' with Him!

Neil said...

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love seminars, web sites, resources, when other write better sermons I'll preach better sermons. I've gone to countless meetings and seminars, leaving with a stack of notes, books, tapes, ideas, and the hope that I could take them home and make happen in my church what was happening in theirs...after all, they said it would work anywhere for anyone. The problem is I wanted to duplicate not glean principles and adapt them into what I was doing, or better yet, what God was wanting to do. I am convinced that God is looking for prophets not parrots...certainly we can use others ideas and materials, but what we do ought to be conducive to where we are! Winter in Florida is much different than winter in Alaska. We had a Canadian visitor yesterday that has brought his wet suit and plans on kyacking while here...we Floridians think he's nuts! But if I went to Canada this time of the year in shorts, they would be ready to commit me. Guess what I'm trying to say is being ourselves in the places God places us with the people He places us with will work if we work at it! It is at least more liberating!

michigan preacher said...

Great point Neil. The new "thing" in ministry is to be "emergent", to adapt to culture so we can give the message. I guess that's why these emergent churches can be so different from each other. I think that it is important to understand the culture of the area God has planted you, so you can present the Gospel. Don't try to be Willow Creek or Mars Hill or Potter's House, be you, and let God work through you. Take some principles but adapt them to your specific area.
~Jeff

Pastor Robbie Hullette said...

I don't want to be normal! It's become the "norm" for marriages to end in divorce or to file for bankruptcy. I shared (preached) along these lines Sun.AM. I don't want to settle for ordinary, but to be Extraordinary!

Neil said...

One last comment on this one, Baskin and Robbins has made millions simply because of 31 flavors rather than vanilla! You know, even if you just have french vanilla in addition to vanilla, you offer something different than everyone else! I'm not saying we should be an island to ourselves or not learn from others...I'm just saying that I think we pattern ourselves after others too much. The church world is full of copy cats that simply wait for the next fad...I want to be different!