|Extreme Makeover: God Edition #1 - Nov. 30, 2014|
|Written by Steve Boose|
|Tuesday, 09 December 2014 12:10|
Extreme Makeover: God Edition – Advent Sermon Series 2005
I’m Sorry, Dad
November 30, 2014 (Original version: November 27, 2005)
One of the more amazing things that I’ve found with cable television lately is that, with 24 hours a day to fill, so many old shows get brought back so that you can bask in the nostalgia of it all.
An example of this for our family is found on the Oprah Winfrey Network, as they are now airing episodes of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on Friday and Saturday nights. This was a show that originally aired on Sunday evenings, and I remember my daughter, when she was about eight, coming down to the TV room while we were watching it one night, snuggling in and asking, “What’s this show about?” Well, it’s a show about people trying to help other people. “Oh, okay.” And while part of me wanted to send her back to bed, more of me wanted her to see that there are people who go to extremes to help others in need, and that this was a prime example of that. Before too long, of course, every Sunday evening brought the call of, “Mommy, Daddy, it’s time for Ty!” and all five of us would settle in for another hour of Ty Pennington and friends.
Ty Pennington was the focal point of the show – a designer who had made his mark with a show called Trading Spaces, this was a great expansion of that format. In the original concept, Ty and a chosen team of designers would travel to a family home where extensive renovations were required but the family, for one reason or another, was incapable of making them; they would, of course, then take on the project, bringing in a team of workers, builders and volunteers from the surrounding community to make it happen. Now, here in 2014, there are about three dozen shows that do this on various networks, from DIY Disaster to Property Brothers, all the way back to This Old House with Bob Vila. Holmes Inspection is, I believe, Mike Holmes’ third show since he started fixing renovations that have been done poorly. So, the field is pretty full today. At that time, though, Home Edition was breaking pretty new ground, and just to take it up a notch further, they gave themselves a one week time limit! Seven days from the day the team shows up until the day the family walks in – that’s it!
During the first season, most of the houses, admittedly, were in the Los Angeles area, and at least the frame of the house was usually kept intact while the interior was gutted and rebuilt. The design team would make some additions and changes, but the family would basically be able to recognize the house as once having been “theirs”.
Near the end of that season, however, things changed when they selected to go to the house of a woman who had adopted three girls, all of whom were positive for HIV or AIDS through their birth mothers, and she herself had developed cancer and was bravely trying to fight it with chemo and other therapies. A junkpile of a house at the end of a cul-de-sac was all she could afford, and it was literally falling down around their ears. Remember, for all four of these people, any type of infection or illness could be potentially fatal! So, the design team decided to do something new: they knocked the house flat and started from scratch, and completed it in the seven-day time limit, complete with a hospital-level A/C filtering system to keep the air in the house as clean as possible.
This then became the basic format of the show – now that they knew that they could actually build the house from scratch over the course of seven days (only once while we were watching did they need to go to an eighth day), they took on houses that really needed to be knocked down. They did houses that were broken, houses that were falling apart, houses that were literally sick with mould, mildew and rot. How they tore down these houses could be quite ingenious – from front-end-loaders to falling trees to, in one case, high explosives! Whatever it was, the house had to go!
Now, this is where things started to go off the rails a bit – a lot of these new houses were two and three times the size of the old ones, and when I was doing some digging over the past few days I found that several families had lost them or sold them because of things like utilities and taxes! It’s sad, in retrospect, but I’ll still give at least a small amount of credit to the initial intention to help and to tell a good story. I mean, I still remember the one girl who, at the age of 8, had been battling juvenile cancer for a year and a half, and even though she was on the road to recovery, she was making and selling bead necklaces to raise money for cancer research, and on her tape she wasn’t requesting help for her house as much as for the cancer ward where she had been treated! She said, “As far as I’m concerned, don’t worry about the house, but change this hospital!” The Design Team linked her up with nothing less than the entire Disney animation department from California, and they managed to take that pediatric cancer centre from being a cold, lifeless institution to a place where, if a child is to be spending their last days there, they will at least have smiled and laughed along the way.
Now, if you were to turn to John 14:2, you would read these very familiar words: Jesus said, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.” In other words, Jesus is the ultimate “Design Team;” He has gone to prepare a place for us, a place where we will live, not on this earth but in the eternity that is to come.
For us to get there, though, we will need an “extreme makeover” of our own – not of our houses, but of our very lives!
Many of us (in fact, I would guess most of us here) have at least started this ‘makeover,’ and some of us might actually be fairly close to the end of the renovation! Others among us may still just be thinking about it, or know of others who haven’t quite realized how bad things either are or can get. For the next few weeks, though, we’re going to be considering what it means to have an “Extreme Makeover: God Edition”! As we proceed down the road of Advent, tracking quickly towards Christmas, we’re going to be looking at how Jesus is the ultimate gift that can make the ultimate difference in the lives of all people, though only if they will accept it.
So, one of the very first things on each episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is everybody getting to know the family. Ty and his group for the week watch the tape that tells the story of the family, getting to know each of them by name. Then, when they arrive at the house, Ty and his handy dandy megaphone shout a big loud “Good morning!” to the family (as in ‘Good morning, Hutchison family!’), and then he calls everyone out by name. I always found this very striking, that the call is not just to the family as a unit, but to each individual family member by name – in one episode, it was to a single mother and her eight children, and he got all the names right (it wasn’t until a second viewing that I realized that he had a crib note in one hand!)! This tells us from the very start that the Design Team is going to be dealing with the family as a sum of many individual parts brought together into one unit. Eventually, as things begin to evolve in the house, we get to see how they are going to take each individual’s interests and desires and needs into account. But for right now, it’s enough to know that Ty knows everyone’s name right from the get-go.
Jesus says in John 10:3, “He calls his own sheep by name…” and, later in the chapter, “14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…” It’s one thing to be part of a large group doing something; it’s quite another to be called out by name and given an individual assignment, or even just solo recognition. God has called to each of us by name, called each of us with an individual mission and purpose. He calls us out of where we have been, in order to prepare us for the place that we are to go when we go with Him! It is a new place – we hear those words from Isaiah 43 again, where God says, “18Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. 19I am about to do a new thing…” The old will be swept away to make way for the new – that is God’s plan!
Ah, but here’s the catch, though: to have God’s way come through, we will have to give up our way! Many things in our old lives, large and small, will have to give way if we are to have a full and honest response to God’s call to us. And one of the first things we will have to do is inventory them, a full and honest look at all we have, in order to get rid of the things we don’t need, or even want.
So, back to the show where, after introductions have been made, the Design Team goes in to get a better idea of where the family has been living. They see all the broken walls, all the rotting timbers, all the holes here, there and everywhere. I think the worst house I saw was that one with the single mother and her eight kids – children were sleeping in the attic and in the basement, neither of which had anything that could actually be considered “rooms.” There were exposed wires and broken walls and one single bathroom with a leaky toilet. In this house, as in all the others, the Design Team searches out the problems, finds them, and then decides on what they will do with the house. In most cases, as I said, the decision is unanimous and swift: it all has to come down!
We each have to look at our lives, and find the broken places, the cracks, the holes, the leaks, the rot. We have to find them, recognize them for what they are, and then come to the conclusion that they have to go. Hear what Isaiah said in chapter 64: “6We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 7There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.” Isaiah and Jeremiah and a number of the other prophets in the Old Testament had been telling the people of Israel for years that they had stopped listening to God and that they were going to pay for their transgressions. Then it happened; the twin nations of Israel and Judah were both overthrown – Israel by the Assyrians, Judah by the Babylonians - and thousands were sent into exile. Everything about them that had been considered “great” was destroyed, and now only ashes and rubble remained. They had to accept this, admit to themselves what had brought them to it, and then confess this to God.
Isaiah goes on to say, “8Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter, we are all the work of your hand.” Only when the people placed themselves back into God’s hands could they hope for any kind of restoration. As the psalmist said, “Restore us, O Lord God of Hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.” If we’re going to be restored in God’s sight, then we’re going to first have to a) recognize that God has been calling to us, by name, to come out of our sinfulness and to let Him help us and shine for us, which leads us to b) confessing ourselves and our sins to Him and admitting that we were wrong.
Only when we do this can we move to the third step - DEMO!! This is when we start knocking down the trash and garbage that are in our lives and clear the way for the new things that are coming, the new things that we really need.
You see, God wants us to be with Him. He wants us to come and live in an eternal home that has been prepared especially for us since the beginning of time. It’s a home that is tailored for each of us according to His plan for us; all we have to do is surrender to Him and say that we are sorry for what we have done. We have to say, as the prodigal tried to say, “I’m sorry, Dad, for the things I’ve done; please forgive me,” and trust in His promise to us that He will forgive us. In return, God says to us, again through Isaiah, “44:22I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.” What was is gone; what is can last forever.
My friends, if we are ever going to demolish the old ways, the damaging ways, the sinful ways that have harmed us in our lives and in our relationships with others around us, then it starts with confessing ourselves to God and saying that we are truly sorry for the things we have done. It starts with realizing that He will not turn us away, but will always welcome us home, not just to the home we have on earth but to the home that He has prepared for us in heaven above.
Unlike the TV show, however, our process of demolishing the “old” usually won’t take only a single moment, a single hour, or even just a single day. After all, it took us years to develop some of our bad habits, and they won’t just “go away” (except in the case of great miracles, which do occur but just aren’t usually the norm). It will take time and prayer and faithful submission to God for a lot of these things to disappear from our lives, and who can say now what our lives will look like then, when we have allowed God to really work with us for a time? Only God can say.
But it all starts with that first confession, the confession that we have tried to be in control and haven’t been able to make it work. On yet another episode of the show, Ty and the gang went to the house of a man who had started to do his own home repairs despite the fact that he had lost his right arm in a fishing accident – by refusing to ask for help, he had actually made his life situation worse, and he had to buy into the notion of receiving help from someone else in order to allow for even the chance of the EMHE team coming to his door.
We have to accept God’s help in our lives and then confess ourselves to Him, fully and completely, if we are ever going to know all that He has in store for us, if we are ever going to be able to do all the things that God has prepared us to do for Him. It’s not that He doesn’t know what we’ve done – after all, He made us! He has called us by name; He knows us better than we know ourselves; He made us and has set His light and life within us, and He wants us to live for Him and for those around us. He is calling us out of what we have been and into a new life of hope and trust.
Let’s take a few moments now and confess ourselves to Him, for the first time or the ten thousandth time. We’re only going to take a few moments, though – someone once said to me (quite rightly) that we really don’t have the time in the middle of a worship service to confess everything that we have done in the past day, let alone the past week or month. It takes the Design team close to 5 hours to go through the house on that first day to find all the faults with it – I have no idea how long it would take you to do an inventory of your life! Consider it your “homework” – and let God take you to places you’ve never gone before as we start on this “Extreme Makeover – God Edition.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 December 2014 12:11|