September 4, 2016
By Ed Young
INTRO: You know a golf club in my hand isn’t that great, but in the hands of someone like Jordan Spieth it’s a birdie waiting to happen. A baseball in my hands isn’t that great but a baseball bat in the hands of Babe Ruth, wow. It’s a home run waiting to happen. A spatula in my hand is something my wife has never seen. A spatula in the hand of Rachael Ray is something to behold. You know you’re going to have a five-star meal.
What happens when we do something ordinary, yet we put that object in the hands of someone who’s a master, who’s extraordinary. That’s what I’m talking about today. How to move from being ordinary to extraordinary, because our great God has that kind of plan for your life and mine. There’s someone who is going to walk on this stage who is truly a master. In fact, if we did what he’s going to do beside him it would be OK, it would be average. This guy, I’m telling you, is on a whole ‘notha level. His name is Connor Donley. He’s six years old. He’s 42” tall. He hails from North Richland Hills, Texas. Let’s give him a warm Fellowship welcome!
[CONNOR DONLEY’S YOYO ROUTINE]
Wow! The hand-eye coordination. He’s six years old. Man, it’s worth coming to church to see that! Well, we are talking about the yo-yo today. When everyone leaves you’ll get a free yo-yo. How good is that? A free yo-yo. And who knows, maybe, just maybe one day if you practice and watch enough YouTube videos you, too, can be like Connor Donley. I do love the yo-yo.
I remember as a kid yo-yos were hot. They were cool in our elementary schools and even our junior high schools, and back in the day it was the Duncan yo-yo. I was talking to Connor about yo-yos and in fact Duncan is still large today. The yo-yo champion back then was a guy named Bunny Martin. Bunny would do all of these yo-yo tricks. I would watch advertisements on television for Duncan yo-yos. Of course YouTube wasn’t invented yet, and we would try to mimic what Bunny Martin did. There was the typical yo-yo, then there was the butterfly yo-yo that kind of looked like a butterfly like this. And my brothers and I, we would yo-yo around the house and invariably we would have strings that were all knotted up. Yo-yos would break and we hit our dog Barney, the beagle, on the head a couple of times. I think we broke a lamp or two. We really enjoyed yo-yoing. I love yo-yoing. There’s something about it. You just go up and then down, you go up and then down.
And I did try to learn some tricks. Like, can you do the sleeper? The sleeper is like a basic trick. You just let it sleep, and then you tug it and it comes back. No applause, please. I’m an amateur.
Then one of the ones I really enjoyed doing, rock the baby. Anybody can do rock the baby at one of our campuses? So you just go here, whoa. See. Wow, you can break your finger. OK, watch this. Rock the baby, if I can do it. <crying sound effect). Rock the baby, OK.
Walk the dog. I love dogs. Anyone can do walk the dog? Yeah, so you throw the yo-yo down. It spins, it has inertia, momentum, and it’s like you’re walking a dog. Walk the dog.
Now this next one is a little dangerous. This is where I hurt the dog and this is the trick where I’ve broken a lamp or two. It’s a little crazy, it’s called around the world. Now the thing about this trick is, it’s very difficult to catch it and once you catch it you’ve got some pain in your fingers when you do it, but I’ll try it. OK, I’ll just try it. #humbled. OK ready? Wow… almost. This has got it… I got it!
So today, again, this is yo-yo weekend. We’re talking about the yo-yo because Jesus used examples from his cultures that everyone could connect with. Sometimes we don’t understand that but that’s simply all that Fellowship Church is doing. We’re taking things that are current, things that people can understand, people can see, and apply them to life. Jesus would talk about fish. Jesus would talk about a child, having a faith like a child. He pointed to a sower one time, scattering seed. He told stories of relevant events. One day a building collapsed, he talked about that. He spoke on parables, word pictures, and that’s all we’re doing. That’s why we decided to talk about a yo-yo. This is yo-yo weekend.
T.S. I think the yo-yo has some parallels to our lives, some powerful parallels. Obviously every illustration breaks down somewhere. I mean, you can do nuts and go “oh yeah, it’s not really like a yo-yo,” but a lot of stuff is like a yo-yo.
I would argue your life and mine would sort of be like a yo-yo. Because think about it, up and down, up and down. I know you feel that way, I feel that way. Life is full of ups and downs. You’ve got peaks and valleys. You’ve got good times and bad times. You’ve got dynamic times, then you’ve got times of despondency. Good and bad. You have babies being born, you have people dying. Up and down. You have good days maybe, financially, and bad days financially, or bad seasons financially. Maybe your marriage is on a roll, it’s going great, and then you have a season where it’s not going that great. It’s never happened to us but maybe you. Your kids, oh wow. Up and down, up and down, up and down. Maybe the Cowboys season, up and down. I don’t know. The Dolphins season, yeah, we’re in Miami, up and down, up and down. It could be. But we’re known by being up and down.
So the yo-yo is illustrative of our lives. A yo-yo in my hand, if it’s not moving or doing anything, is just like as good as a paperweight. But when I use the yo-yo, when I manipulate the yo-yo, when I release the yo-yo and allow the yo-yo to revolve and then it returns back to my hand, that is a cool process. And really, that’s the process of life.
Think about this for a second. Think about releasing. Say releasing with me. Releasing. Revolving, say revolving with me. And returning, say returning with me. Returning. Releasing, revolving, and returning. That is sort of a template of what we see in Scripture. Releasing, revolving, and returning. Our great God, who is the master, wants us to put our lives in his hands. And when we put our lives, let’s say a yo-yo in the hand of God, that is when we move from the ordinary to the extraordinary. That’s when we put our life in the hands of a master. Jesus is our master.
And throughout Scripture we see the hand of God. God releases you and me, he releases us into life. As you look at God’s people, God released them into various environments. When God released them they were to revolve around him. He’s the axel. He’s the momentum-maker. He is all about the inertia in this life and in eternity. That’s what God wants. Yet, we have a freedom of choice don’t we? No one forces me to revolve my life around God or not. I’m in God’s hand, he releases me, and then I’m revolving. I’m revolving around something. I’m either revolving my life around God or I’m revolving my life around me. And I’ve played that game before where I’ve revolved my life around me and when I’ve done that it’s not worked out very well.
I remember the book of Judges over in the Old Testament. The book of Judges talks about what happens when we revolve our lives around ourselves. The Bible calls this sin idolatry. Say that with me. Idolatry. What is idolatry? You might want to jot this down. Idolatry, in fact, all sin is idolatry. Idolatry is putting something before God. Anything in your life and mine that we put before God, anything in your life and mine that we begin to spin around, to rotate around, is idolatry. So what could it be? It could be your look. What could it be? It could be sports. What could it be? It could be success. What could it be? It could be money. All those things that we struggle with have to do and can be summed up and encapsulated in the word idolatry.
So God’s people, they were released and they should have been doing what God wanted them to do. They should have been revolving their lives around God. Yet they began to revolve their lives around themselves and they got into idolatry. So you’ve got God releasing, you’ve got God giving us an opportunity to revolve our lives around our self or him, yet God’s people in the book of Judges, they just revolved their lives around themselves. They got into idol worship. And the Bible says in Judges 21:25, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
Does that sound familiar or what? Does that sound like 2016 or what? Does that sound like Miami or what? Does that sound like Dallas or what? It sounds like it because that’s where we are. If we revolve our lives around ourselves, if we do what’s right in our own eyes, what’s going to happen? Our string will get knotted up, our string will break, and the yo-yo ultimately will disintegrate. So you have this pattern throughout the Bible. You’ve got the releasing, you’ve got the revolving, and then God would send a judge or a prophet or someone to get up in the face of his people and warn them. You would have the returning. And the returning is the repentance. That’s an about-face. That’s going back the way you came. So releasing, revolving, and returning.
Let’s talk about that for a second. We’ve seen it in the history of God’s people. Let’s talk about it in your life and my life because God wants to release you and me into greatness. Just think about this. Tomorrow we’re released. We’re released in our job. I don’t know what you do for a living. Maybe you work on computers, maybe you’re in sales, maybe you’re a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a pastor, a student. God’s releasing you in your environment. Maybe you’re dating someone. Maybe you’re a child, maybe you’re a parent. God’s releasing you into your environment. God has an extraordinary plan for your life. You give your life to him, you place your life in his hand and what does he do? It’s about the yo-yo. Releasing, revolving, and returning.
Releasing, it’s the hand of God. This phrase, as I said a second ago, is used so often in Scripture. 1 Peter 5:6-7, now when you see something in red we’re going to say it out loud, like really loud, together. Let me read but when we see something in red, see that word, that four-letter word? We’re going to say it loud and proud. Are you with me? Are you with me? OK, I thought you were. “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty HAND of God that he may exalt you in due time, CASTING…” I love the word casting. In the original language it’s habalo, meaning to throw, to release. Yeah. “…casting all your care upon him for he cares for you.”
We have a choice, friends. We have an option. On one hand God is sovereign, yet on the other hand we have a freedom of choice. And here’s what God says. God says, “you know what? I beg you, I urge you, to give your life to me. I urge you to humble yourselves under my mighty hand, to get under my authority because I have an extraordinary life for you. But… yo-yo, you’re on your own. Yo-yo, you’re on your own. You make the choice, you make the call. I’ve made it easy for you. I’m standing right there beside you. You either give your life to me or not.” Releasing.
John 8:36, you want freedom? “So if the Son sets you free (again, think about that… habalo, casting, releasing) you are truly (let’s say it) FREE.” That’s right. I want to be free. And on this yo-yo we’re free. We’re only free when we give control of our lives to God. It’s the upside-down kingdom of God. When we gain control we give up control. See, we think we gain control and we control our lives and we yo-yo ourselves. No, no. We’re out of control then. If you want control you give up control to the Lord God. You put your life in his hands, then you’ll have control.
So if you make this decision to give up control you’ll have control. God’s going to release you in places you never dreamed possible. And what’s so weird about it is sometimes I think my life is down and really it’s up. And sometimes I think it’s up and it’s down. God is in control. That’s why the Bible says in the book of Romans, chapter 8, God uses everything. Knots in the string, broken butterflies, knots on the beagle’s head, broken lamps, God uses all things if we’re in his hand to work for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose, his routine.
You see, Connor is a yo-yo master. Connor knows exactly what he’s going to do. This yo-yo doesn’t. This yo-yo’s like, whoa-wow! Woah-woah! But it’s on the string. And one of the adventures of walking with Jesus is we don’t always know what’s happening. That’s the freedom of it. That’s the joy of it. Yet, whenever we say, “you know, I’m going to do what I’m going to do. I’m going to yo-yo God.” Whenever we do that in our search for freedom it leads to incarceration. So whatever you’re chasing, whatever you’re revolving your life around away from God, it leads to jail time as opposed to true freedom. Yet we don’t want God to yo-yo us.
A lot of us are like, “no, I’m going to yo-yo myself.” So we put God in the sleeper. “Ahhh… God’s asleep. If I need him? “Oh, I need you, Lord!” Woo! My marriage was on the rocks. Thank you for coming back to me.” Put God in the sleeper.
“My finances, you know I’ve not been bringing that tithe to the church…” I’m back, I’m back God. I’m back, I’m back. “God my kids! Man, they’re about to drive me crazy…” I’m going to start going back to church. OK, I’m back. I’m back. I’m back. “Lord, I’ll just keep you in the sleeper mode and when I need you, you’ll be there for me. I’m going to live like I’m going to live. I’m going to put all this other stuff before you. Oh my gosh.”
You’re in trouble. And a lot of people live like that, don’t they? Keeping God on a string. Yo-yoing God. Who are we, who am I, to shake my little yo-yo in my little hand in front of a yo-yo master? Who am I to try to do yo-yo trick in front of Connor Donley? I look like a card-carrying igmo. But we do that sleeper thing, don’t we?
Oftentimes, too, we’ll do rock the baby. I call this the Ricky Bobby God. Baby Jesus. “Yeah, I’ll just keep God, I’ll keep Jesus in the crib. Because when he’s in the crib he’s not going to get up in my grill. He’s not going to confront me.” But, Jesus crawled out of the crib, grew up and became a man. He lived perfectly, he died and rose again taking your sins and mine, so to relegate him to a crib? “Yeah, but he’s soft there. He’s the Prozac Jesus there. He’s just a little baby. Shhh! Don’t wake him up! Don’t wake him up!” We want to yo-yo God.
Then we’ll do the walk the dog. “I’ve got God on a leash. I control him. You know, I’m going to live like Hell, I’m going to do what’s right in my own eyes, but I’m just going to walk the dog. God’s on a leash and I’ve got God under control, baby. My God doesn’t ever judge. My God would not say sex outside of marriage is wrong. My God is just full of love and full of grace. No responsibility to live a righteous life, I’m just going to live like I want to live in my eyes. It… wow, I can’t. I’m spinning out of control.”
But you know, we yo-yo God in other ways, don’t we? Because again, it’s our choice. You’re on your own. God is, oh he’s an around the world God. That’s who God is. I got it now. Ow! That hurt. Let me do it again. Now when I hit this trick I want an ovation, OK? Because I could have broken my right thumb. You heard it. You gotta be tough being a pastor, man. Ow! I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it. I’ve not done this in a long time. No, no, no. Don’t clap. Thank you, though, for the thought. I got it! I got it! Connor’s backstage going… oh. Pitiful.
Around the world God. “Oh, Jesus is just one of many gods. They’re all sincere. Buddha, Confucius, they all kind of said the same thing.” We love that cop-out.
Well, when anyone ever says that they’re advertising their ignorance, because Christianity is not like the other world religions. Obviously there are some similarities. Here is the difference. The guts of Christianity is about the work that Jesus rendered on Calvary, and Jesus said right before he died, “It is finished.”
So Christianity is spelled D-O-N-E. The work has been done. Religion is spelled, D-O. Look at all the other major world religions, all of them. They’re a man-made system of do’s and don’ts in order to appease a holy god. You jump through this hoop. You don’t jump through that hoop. And maybe at the end of the day God will say, “you know what? You performed your way in.”
Throughout the Bible it says good isn’t good enough, but as I always say, God is God enough. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.
So it’s back to the yo-yo. Jesus came from up to down to bring the down to what? The up. That’s how you become followers of Christ. So Jesus came up, went down, down to up. Therefore, giving us a choice to give our lives to him, and then through that we get to know the Father and our lives are in the Father’s hand. So I want to ask you about the release. Are you being released? Do you understand the power and the extraordinary life that God has for you?
Psalm 95:4, “In his hand are the deep places of the earth (sounds like down, right?). The heights of the hills are also his.” That means up.
Think about the string. Have you ever just considered the string on the yo-yo? The string. The string is the thing. It is. It gives you strength. You want strength in this life? I need strength. Strength. You want security? You know what the Bible says? The Bible says when we sincerely give our lives to the Lord, we’re in. Nothing we can do, if you want security, can take us away from God’s hand.
How about stability? You see some stability here but look at Connor. That strength, throwing the yo-yo up, catching it, the stability. That’s the life that God has for us. In Isaiah 64:8, “We are the work of your hand.” So God’s releasing you relationally, financially, emotionally. He’s releasing you into situations that test your faith and test mine.
Revolving. Are you revolving your life around him? Are you revolving your existence around him? Acts 17:28 says, OK get ready to yell again. Are you ready? “For in him we have LIFE and motion and existence.” That inertia and momentum from his hand, “as certain of your verse writers have said, ‘for we are his offspring.’”
Living things grow. We either revolve our lives around God or ourselves. When we revolve our lives around ourselves it is idolatry. All sin is idolatry. Idolatry is putting something above God in our lives. John 10:29, “No one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
Ecclesiastes 4:12, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” A cord of three strands? We’re connected by God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.
So releasing. So revolving. And there’s another one, this is cool. Returning, returning, returning, returning.
Jeremiah 24:7, “I will give them a heart to know me.” That’s what happens when we give our lives to the Lord. “For I am the Lord and they will be my people and I will be their God, for they will return to me with their whole heart.”
So we’re made, right? Releasing, revolving, returning. Releasing, revolving, returning. Releasing, revolving, returning. Returning to what? Personal worship. Returning to what? Corporate worship. Let’s get ready to yell again. Are you ready? I can tell.
Hosea 12:6, “Therefore RETURN TO YOUR GOD, observe kindness and justice, and wait for your God continually.” Return to him. Think about the prodigal son. Remember the prodigal son? His father released him, what did he do? He revolved himself around himself, then he returned back to the father. Broken, busted, despondent, disgusted, he was in a mess. The string was knotted up. The yo-yo was all jacked up. What happened?
The rewind. I’m so thankful that we serve a God of the rewind. Aren’t you? Yeah, we return, but God rewinds our lives. Yo-yo. God says “you’re on your own. I mean, here is my hand. I’ve made you to place your life in my hand. I’ve made you to release you and for you to revolve your lives around me, to return to me, and I’ll rewind you.”
Yo-yo. You’re on your own or you’ve placed your life in the hand of God. What’s it going to be for you? Let’s pray.
[Ed closes in prayer.]