The Hokey Pokey
By Ed Young
September 6, 2015
“To change” means “to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of something different from what it is.” God wants us all to experience His kind of change, because that is the kind of change that brings about the greatest purpose and potential in our lives. But the questions we all ask are, “How can I change?” and “What do I need to change?”
In this message, Pastor Ed Young unpacks a key verse of Scripture. This lesson, when we apply to our daily lives, not only shows us what to change, but also how to implement the kind of change that will get us going in the right direction. Sometimes, it’s just about putting our whole selves into the right thing!
<video of Justin Gould’s life story>
The family is the cornerstone of who we are. More than any other force it shapes our attitude, our hopes, our ambitions, and our values.
Justin: I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. I was two years old and my mom and dad got divorced. Dad wasn’t around in the picture at all. Growing up in my household we had a single mom of 3 kids. It was organized chaos. She got married, had twin sisters, and my mom and her husband at the time were married for several years. During that time we started going to a church down in the Houston area. Eight years old, the preacher was up there and was like, hey, if you want to ask Jesus into your life you can say this right here. So I did that. I got baptized and probably about six months later my mom and her husband at the time got divorced and that was pretty much the end of our church history. My mom just continued to find herself in these relationships with these different guys. There’d be a boyfriend for a few weeks. He would move in and then he would move out. And then another guy would move in and then they’d get married and she’d divorced. And just kind of this cycle of relationship after relationship after relationship. And I remember there was one time my mom was dating a guy. They ended up breaking up and it messed her up so bad that I get a phone call from somebody saying, hey, your mom’s going to the hospital. My mom swallows who-knows-how-many Tylenol, like basically tries to kill herself.
Really all along with these different relationships, these guys that would move in and move out, I got really jaded. I didn’t have a clue what a healthy marriage looked like, much less a Godly marriage. That didn’t even make sense to me.
Sixteen years old, fast-forward through junior high, through high school. I dropped out of high school for about a year. I didn’t really do anything. I woke up one day, I was 17 years old, and I just started thinking to myself there’s got to be more to my life than this. When I started going to a junior college my dad and I reconnected.
Dad: It was a shock. I mean, you get a phone call and there’s this man on the telephone and it’s your son. The last time you saw him he was this tall. There’s no way to explain it.
Justin: So I show up at my dad’s house and I realize I’ve got a 10-year-old brother that I had no clue was even around. He was the little brother I didn’t have growing up and all of a sudden we were, like, inseparable. We spent weekends together, week days together, week nights together. We just spent a lot, a lot of time together. It really just continued through college. So I was working, going through college. There was a guy down the hallway named Joe and I kinda heard Joe talking to some guys and telling him that his parents were gonna buy him a house.
Joe: Oddly enough we had an extra room come available in our house. We said, “Hey man, we’ve got an extra room. You wanna move in with us?”
Justin: It was like, “Yes, absolutely. I’m in!” So I moved in with Joe and then I find out that Joe’s going to Fellowship and he starts inviting me.
Joe: Week after week we were telling Justin, “Man, this is not your normal church. It’s a great experience.” And time after time and time we would invite him.
Justin: And I’d tell him, “Listen, I’m good. I’m OK. I don’t need to go to church right now.” I ended up graduating college down the road and I was actually working for my little brother’s mom. Now at this point he’s probably 15-16 years old and it’s Beth, my little brother’s mom, calling me up. And she is absolutely hysterical. I was like, “What is going on right now?” And my little brother had struggled in school with his grades and some behavior things, just I think normal teenage things. And she tells me that Brandon had committed suicide.
Just even thinking about it right now, being thankful for those years that we had together….. um… yeah.
I remember the weeks and even months after that being really mad at God. I remember thinking to myself, God you could have stopped this and you didn’t. And my friend, Joe, my college roommate, Joe, just continued to be there, support and encourage. He just continued to invite me to the church. And at this point in my life I was like, you know what? The last thing that I need to do is go to church. I’m gonna go drink. I may go do that. I may go party like a rock star. I may feel bad tomorrow physically but I’m gonna forget about what’s going on right now. So I did that for months. For months and months. I’d drive home from work just drunk sometimes. And I remember thinking to myself I had to get out of there because what I was doing was not working for me. I realized at that point in my life that I needed a change. Joe continued to invite me to Fellowship.
Joe: Week after week we were telling Justin, man this is not your normal church. And we just kept bragging over and over about the music and Ed and the message. Time after time and time we would invite him.
Justin: At that point in my life, knowing that something needed to change, I remember thinking to myself, maybe I’ll go to Fellowship Church tomorrow. Sunday morning, about 9:00 my dad calls me. He goes, “Hey son, what are you doing?” I said, “I’m about to go to church.” He said, “You’re about to do what?” I said, “I’m about to go to church.” He goes, “Why in the heck are you going to church? Like, do you want to come make some money?” And I told my dad these exact words. I said, “Dad, as much as I need money right now I need to go to church more.”
Dad: It shocked me because he wasn’t a church person at that particular point in time but something in his mind told him that this is where he needed to go rather than to go to work and pick up some money where he could go drinking and party again. That night he needed to go to church. And from the day he walked in that door till now it changed his life.
Justin: I’ll never forget walking in here. It was like the people were so friendly. The service starts and now it’s like, you’ve got this light show going on. You’ve got this music that I can connect with. And then Pastor Ed takes the stage and probably for the first time in my life I was able to listen to a message that was applicable and relevant to exactly where I was. Towards the end of the message Pastor Ed was just giving people an opportunity to respond to Jesus, to accept him, you know invite him into your life. I remember him saying, “You know, you’ve tried everything your way. And if you’re honest, it’s not working.”
Ed: I mean, you’ve tried everything else. You’re a risk taker, right? Try this, try that. Why not try Jesus Christ? Because the only time we’re assured of is now. Is now.
Justin: And that was me. I was at a point where again, my way wasn’t working and I knew it. And so I prayed that prayer with Pastor Ed, recommitted my life to Christ, and from that day forward tried to live my life as best I could in a way that would please God.
I get a phone call one day from a guy that I’d met here at the church. He’d become a friend of mine and he just asked me if I could be a trainer for one of our camps. And I had the time to take off so I said sure. I went out there to Allaso and during that time I remember feeling like God was trying to move me somewhere. So I come back from Allaso Ranch and I was approached by somebody on staff. And they asked me the question, “Hey Justin, have you ever thought about coming on staff at the church?” And I remember praying, “God, I don’t care where you want me, just show me where you want me.” I’m now a pastor at Fellowship Church. Jesus said, “I’ve come that you may have life and have it to the full.” And I remember hearing Pastor Ed talk about, listen, if God could show you the plan that he has for your life right now it would blow your mind. I mean, I’ve met amazing friends here. I met my wife at our church.
Jennifer: He was talking to someone recently and he was telling them, man, I’m so nervous to get married! And I said, “You never told me that. Why are you nervous to get married.” And he said well because all he’s ever seen are marriages that have failed and haven’t worked out. So he said, “I was nervous to do things God’s way and step into something that was unknown territory.”
Justin: I think as I look back to that moment of being scared to ask Jennifer to marry me to where we are right now. It’s cool to think about, you know, just what Jesus can do in our lives and in our marriage.
Jennifer: I’m so thankful for him that I have him to talk to and go to. I couldn’t ask for a better husband, somebody that just loves me unconditionally. He sees exactly all the things and all the mess-ups in my life and he still loves me. And it really is a true picture of how Jesus loves us.
Justin: As I think about my family my kids’ lives will be different because of Fellowship Church and what Jesus is gonna do in their life. There is not a question in my mind. I’m a better man, I’m a better father, I’m a better husband, I’m a better pastor because of Jesus, because of Pastor Ed and Lisa, and because of Fellowship Church.
<end of video>
Welcome to Fellowship! I’m Ed, I’m pastor of fellowship, and I’m broadcasting from our incredibly magnificent campus in the Magic City, Miami, Florida. So if you find yourself at Grapevine, Dallas, Allaso Ranch, Fort Worth, Keller/Southlake, Allen, London, Fellowshiplive.com. We have people watching from the UK, from Asia, from the Middle East, welcome to Fellowship.
Now next weekend you don’t want to miss it. I’m beginning a brand new series called Quarterback. Tony Room, you’ve heard of him, the quarterback of America’s team they call the Cowboys, will be talking and it’s gonna be really cool. The next week, Troy Aikman. Hall of Famer, probably the best analyst in the game today, Super Bowl winner, etc. Then, Ryan Tannehill from the Miami Dolphins will be our guest! It’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna be fun.
You remember back in the day when roller skating was popular? Remember that? You would roller skate and hopefully you’d try to find someone that you kind of liked. A ubiquitous manager would come on the loudspeaker, “Couples only. Couples only.” And you would take the hand, guys, of that cute girl and your hand would sweat. And you were, like, worried. You’d try to look real cool. Then the guy would say, “OK, everyone make a big circle in the middle of the rink. Put your right foot in, put your right foot out, put your right foot in, and you shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about!” You remember that? Yeah. I love that song.
When it comes to today’s subject matter, change, I think a lot of us think that’s the way it is. I think when it comes to change, especially when we think about God changing our lives. We sort of do that same little dance. I’ll put my right foot in, I’ll put my right foot out, I’ll put my right foot in and I’ll shake it all about. God, I’ll do the Hokey Pokey, I’ll turn myself around, wow! That’s what change is all about!
I wish… I wish it was that simple, but it’s not. Change – I’m talking about significant change, supernatural change – change is tough. It’s difficult. Walking with Jesus is not easy. It’s adventuresome, it’s exciting. I call it a brutiful life. There’s a brutal side to it and a beautiful side to it. As Justin said in the video we’re hardwired, we’re designed to live by God’s way. If we try to live our way it’ll work for a while but basically it’s like we’re on an elevator, descending, when we do it our way. We don’t realize it but we push the down button. The music is playing, elevator music. We’re looking at ourselves in the mirror, maybe flexing or fixing our hair. We have no idea when we go our way that we’re descending. The elevator, though, will hit bottom. Change begins when we put down the shovel. Change begins when we say, God, I can’t change. I believe you are all about change. So on one hand God doesn’t change. Yet when he comes inside of our lives, when he redecorates our lives, he changes us from the inside, out. But we have to invite him in from the outside, on the inside. He redecorates, he just re-orchestrates our entire lives.
Do you like to watch those shows on television? The fixer-uppers? The flipping houses, they’re doing this and doing that. Every single couple when they see their new house, their new bathroom or bedroom… “Oh my gosh!” It should be called Oh My Gosh! Oh my gosh! And it doesn’t cost that much on television. It looks easy on television. Yeah, there’s some drama but that’s basically it.
Lisa and I have had the opportunity to redecorate and reorder and change some houses over the years. There are several things I’ve learned. #1 – It costs a heck of a lot more than they tell you. Yeah, I can see you even at the other campuses. Yeah, you’re right. It costs more and it takes longer and it’s messy. It’s not easy.
I become a Christian by making a trust step. God, you’re God and I’m not. God, you’re sovereign, I’m not. I come to a point in my life where I realize like we saw in the video, you know what? My way doesn’t work. God, I’m gonna try your way. I trust you.
You might be saying, “Ed, I don’t have enough faith to make that trust step.” Jesus said even if you can muster up the faith of a mustard seed, Christ… I, Jesus said, will come into your life, redecorate and reorder your life. We’re in the Christian life by taking a step. The Bible says we’re adopted into the family of God. And one of the cool things about the word ‘adoption’ is in the Biblical context an adopted child could not be disowned. A biological one could be disowned. So in the New Testament when it talks about what happens when we become Christians it says that we are adopted. We’re born again.
Well as a little baby what do we want to do? Well, we have this desire to walk. As a little baby, what do our parents want us to do? Take that first step! You know, we’re videoing everything and we’re watching it and one step! Whoa. Another step… boom! We fall on our butt. Maybe some more steps one day… whoomp! We hit some furniture. A little boo-boo. Wise parents help, they entice, we coach our kids. Our kids begin to walk and then they begin to skip and then they begin to run and we’re like… we’ve done our job!
That’s what I love about Fellowship. We have a lot of mature believers, a lot of spiritual parents who helped those walk. Babies are being born again into the family of God. The first step, the second step, and we’re helping them. There’s some bumps and some bruises. That’s the change process.
What is change? Change is becoming different. What is change? Write this down. Change is an accumulation of choices. That’s what change is. Everyone should have a message map. Have your message map ready. You were given a message map when you walked in. You’ve got some blanks. Three big, monstrous blanks. And the blanks are saying, “Fill me in! Fill me in! Please fill me in! Please fill me in!” so take out some writing instrument and write this phrase down. Change (in the margin) is an accumulation of choices. But here is the phrase that pays. My perspective (that’s the first blank) and priorities determine my purpose. My perspective and my priorities determine my purpose. You want change? You want lasting change? I do. What do you need to change in your life? It could be an anger problem. It could be a hurtful habit. It could be a drug issue, could be an alcohol issue, could be a lust issue. Who knows what it is? I don’t know. Some of you are thinking I want to change my spouse. No, think about you. Think about your perspective, think about your priorities, and think about the purpose. That’s what we’re gonna talk about. That’s where lasting change comes into being. We take that first step, we’re followers of Christ. It’s not just – “put your right foot in…” No. It’s more than that. It’s more than that.
The Bible says in the book of Proverbs, chapter 3, verses 5-6. It gives us the recipe for change. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” Say that with me. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. So even if you can muster up just mustard seed faith that’s all the faith you need for Jesus to infiltrate your life. And I’m a pastor. Certain times I have more faith than others. That’s just the way it is. “Well, I want certainty, man!” You’re never gonna have certainty. With certainty there’s no faith. You’ve got to have some uncertainty in your life. We’re not certain about anything. How do we know our heart will beat its next beat? How do we know we’ll breathe? How do we know we’ll make it home? I mean nothing is certain. God says trust me. Trust me! So trust in the Lord with all of your heart. With the totality of who you are.
“Wait a minute, Ed. Do I have to check my intellect at the door? Do I have to dumb down to become a believer?” No, no, no, no. Rest your intellect on the intellect of God. God, you’re God. I’m not. God wants us to use our minds. He wants us to think. Yet God’s ways are higher than our ways. It’s like Google Earth. You know, I’ve lived in a lot of places. When I was a kid I lived in Canton, North Carolina, in the Smoky Mountains right near Asheville. You might have heard of Asheville. I lived on a street called Poplar Street. And a while back, about a month ago, I got on Google Earth and I typed in my address and I saw the house where I learned how to ride a bike in the driveway. I could see that. I learned how to shoot a layup. I got stung by a bunch of bees and almost lost my life. I was like, whoa! I’m back on Poplar Street in Canton, North Carolina! Then I zoomed out. You’ve done this before. There’s little Canton, population 6,423. Boom! North Carolina. Boom! America. Then the world! Perspective! Whoa. When I live by my perspective I’m just cruising around Poplar Street, seeing where I got stung by some bees. I learned how to shoot a layup and I learned how to ride a bike. That’s about the knowledge I have. Yet, when I say, God, I trust you. All of a sudden I zoom out and look at my perspective! Wow. My perspective on marriage, my perspective on dating, my perspective on friendships, my perspective with my emotions, my perspective with my habits. My perspective is changed.
Now there’s a parallel verse because trust in the Lord is all about change. Because when I trust in the Lord I’m saying I don’t trust myself. I can’t change. God, you’re all about change. And sometimes we have to pray the prayer, “trust in the Lord,” every second. Yet Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform.” In other words, do not let the world change you into its mold. That’s what it means in its original language. “But be transformed.” Be changed. The word transformed is from the word metamorphosis. “By the renewing of your… of your… of your…. Of your… mind!” Yeah! The brain is the battlefield. The brainlefield. It’s all about the brain.
So if I think right, I’ll feel right. If I feel right I’m gonna act right. If I think wrong I’ll feel wrong. If I feel wrong, I’ll act wrong. I trust God, I’m gonna do what he wants me to do. I’ll have a unique perspective. I’ll be able to recognize priorities and follow his purpose. If I don’t – wow. I’ll have a limited perspective. My priorities will just be what’s out there, wherever, whatever. I’ll just kind of go with my heart, which sounds so sexy but it’s so stupid. And then I’ll never discover the purpose God has for my life. Trust in the Lord with all of your heart.
“Well, that’s what everyone says, Ed. Go with your heart!” In that relationship – go with your heart. With that job opportunity – go with your heart. That’s stupid! If I went with my heart all the time I’d be all messed up. I’ve tried that before. It doesn’t work. So don’t trust your heart, trust God with your heart. Trust God with your heart! Because God will speak to you through his word. His priorities are already written down. His will for you, his purpose for your life and mine is already in black and white! We just need to live it out, man! Gotta just walk it out.
When I change, when God changes my life, there’s gonna be conflict. Most of us resist change because of the resistance. We change. God change my life. I can’t change, God. You change my life. There’s gonna be conflict. And if we stay with the change, if we diesel through conflict there’s gonna be growth. Change, conflict, growth. It’s called the spin cycle of the purpose of God. Make any change, any God-driven change, it’ll happen.
Well the text continues. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…” then it says a negative. So it starts with a positive, trust in the Lord with all your heart. Here’s the negative: “…and lean not on your own understanding.” If I have my own understanding I’m gonna be led by pride, my program, my plan. I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do, God. Remember, when we do that the elevator is gonna hit the bottom. So it’s time to push the emergency stop button. It’s time to put the shovel down and say, “God, my way doesn’t work. I trust that your way works. I’m not gonna lean on my intellect, that’s just carnal confidence. I’m gonna lean on Spirit-led Godfidence. I trust in you.” Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways… in ALL your ways (that’s priorities, man… or woman) acknowledge him.” This word acknowledge in the Hebrew is pronounced yada. Say yada with me. You’re speaking Hebrew! It means to know. To know. In all my ways acknowledge God, to know God, and he will keep my paths straight. This perspective will give me the discernment to see God’s priorities for my life.
I wrote a book, I highly recommend it, called Kid CEO. People would tell me, wow, Ed! That concept of the book is revolutionary in my family. It’s revolutionary in my marriage! And I’m like, I appreciate it. I’m just writing what God says about it. I’m just ripping off God. Well here’s what’s so unique about it. Our world says (our world’s intellect) it’s about the kids. That’s what the world says when it comes to families. Kids-kids-kids-kids first. Sounds sexy. It’s not what the Bible says. You will not find anywhere in the Bible where God says it’s about the kids. It’s not in there. Obviously we would give our lives for our kids. The Bible says, though, it’s about the marriage. It tells us to love our spouse like Jesus loves us. It never says that about parents loving their kids that way. So in other words if you want to become a great parent it starts with marriage. Keeping your marriage (this is not easy), keeping your marriage as the top priority in the family unit. So goes the marriage, so goes the kids. Kid CEO. Spouses stay, kids leave.
Here’s what happens. We revolve our lives around our kids, we turn our backs on our spouses, and all of a sudden they graduate from high school. We look over at our spouse. Who in the heck are you? God’s way works. You’re gonna have to fight for that date night! You’re gonna have to fight to put the kids down not when they’re ready, when you’re ready! It’ll change your life. God’s way.
How about tithing? Are you kidding me, God? Ten percent is yours? What? That doesn’t seem right! Intellectually, financially… what? God says, “trust me.” God even says, “Test me.” Thirty-three years ago Lisa and I began doing this. Our biggest investment, I’ll say it, is at Fellowship Church. When we were barely getting by it was our biggest investment. And now we do well, it’s our biggest investment. God’s way works! I still, like… we give more than 10% now. What? 10? What am I doing? I trust you, God. I trust you, God! See, God’s ways are unique. I had no idea that God would take me and take so many of you places that he’s taken us. It’s because of the purpose of God. It’s because of his perspective and his priorities.
Think about church. I mean, church is the body of Christ. It’s the heartbeat of who Jesus is. And Scripture says about the church, for example, in Matthew 16:18 it says, “And I tell you (he’s talking to Simon Peter) on this rock (I just happen to have a rock) I’ll build my church.” Matthew 7:24, you’ll see it in your outline, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who builds his house on the (say it with me) rock.” On the rock. Jesus is the rock. The body of Christ is the church. And we have this opportunity to be a part of the church.
Here’s something you could put on social media. I wrote this down. I hope you follow me on social media. If you don’t, start doing it. I don’t need any more followers, I got a bunch of those, but it does tell you about my life and what Fellowship Church is about so, you know. Here’s one. I love this. “Seven days without church makes one weak.” It’s convicting. How about this? “Many services, many changes. Few services, few changes.” Hmm. “People who don’t go to church don’t hear about what happens to people who don’t go to church.”
My perspective: I trust you, God. My priorities: In all your ways, in all your ways, acknowledge him. God you’re God. I’m not. You’re sovereign. I’m not. And then my purpose: He will direct your path. How awesome is that? God said, I have a purpose for you. Justin and Jennifer talked about it. I mean if we could see God’s purpose we’d fall flat on our face. Once again, it’s just that amazing. But it’s about the rock. The rock.
This is your life. You’re a container. I’m a container. You know what the Bible says? The Bible says that I’m a container, you’re a container, for the Holy Spirit of God. Everybody is. we make the choice as far as what we’re gonna fill it up with. Now some of us just fill it up with sand. This is South Beach sand. Sorry to those folks in Dallas, Fort Worth. South Beach sand. Woo-hoo! It’s not sand from some lake or pond or some reservoir. No, no, no. South Beach sand! Well this sand represents – the grains of sand – every decision that we’ll ever make. Think about the decisions. Because change is simply the accumulation of decisions and we’re just an accumulation, the net effect, of all of our choices. Sand. Hmm.. I just live by my perspective. I’ll choose my own priorities. I know what’s best for me. I’m gonna pick out my own path and my own purpose. It’s not gonna get you where you want to go. Because people who go their own way end up facing an outcome they were trying to avoid in the first place.
See, I’ll just add Jesus. It’s kind of an add-on. Doesn’t fit. It doesn’t fit. Hmm. I’m a container. Lord, I need to change. I give it all to you. I trust you, Jesus. I trust the rock. I’m not gonna build my house on the sand, on the rock. I receive you. I open the lid of my life. Come into my life. It’s the best decision you’ll ever make.
Well I made that decision. Now what? I made that choice. Now what? Well let me do some CrossFit for you. Hernia! The sand fits! If I put the rock in first. All of the decisions come off of the rock. That’s change. That’s change!
Put your whole self in, take your whole self out. Put your new self in and shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey and God will turn your life around. That’s what change is all about!
As our heads are bowed and eyes are closed, Father thank you for this series. Thank you for change.
[Ed closes in prayer.]