“Jim Plays the Piano”

February 4, 2001

Twenty years ago, I was beginning a relationship with a young lady that I really thought was going to be my wife. The first date for _____  and I was to a revival service at her church just a few miles down the road from her home and out in what seemed the middle of the Illinois prairie.

Well, within a few minutes, it became apparent that there was no pianist for the service. A plea went out to the congregation, ‘Is a pianist present?’

_____  spoke up, “Jim plays the piano!” It was the first time I had ever been in this church. I did not know any of these people. They did not know me. I hadn’t played for a service in several years. I was unsure if I could play well enough for the service.

I agreed to play and the service went on. I was out of my comfort zone in this situation. But, I took a risk, and got involved and I know that wonderful Baptist congregation appreciated my participation.

What did I feel and experience during those moments of being out of my comfort zone? Well for one – FEAR!! I was scared to death! VERY UNCOMFORTABLE! All eyes fixed on me and I was very self- conscious. ANXIETY! I was anxious about my ability to perform in this environment. Every one of us has moments like this, and we will have more of them.

On this third Sunday of our journey of discovering and doing something about barriers to overcome as we dream God’s dream again, we face a universal experience – moving out of our comfort zone.

This morning, we have two individuals who will share ways of getting out of comfort zones. Their comments relate to two important aspects of our church’s purpose as well as our theme of daring to dream God’s dream and pursue the future that He has for you. One person is a member of our congregation and the other is a guest of mine this morning. I will introduce both of them in a few moments.

Two stories out of the New Testament serve as our texts this morning, 1 Corinthians 12: 4 – 7 and 27, and Matthew 5:13-16. They correspond respectively to two important aspects of our congregational mission as defined in our purpose statement: First, finding and doing our ministry in the church and second, finding and doing our mission in the world.

Now before I read the first text I want to share an insightful thought that was e-mailed me to me a couple of years ago. It is titled; It depends on whose hands it’s in.

A basketball in my hands is worth about $19. A basketball in Michael Jordan’s hands is worth about $33 million It depends whose hands it’s in¼

A baseball in my hands is worth about $6. A baseball in Mark McGuire’s hands is worth $19 million. It depends whose hands it’s in…..

A tennis racket is useless in my hands A tennis racket in Venus Williams’ hands is a Wimbledon Championship. It depends whose hands it’s in…..

A rod in my hands will keep away a wild animal. A rod in Moses’ hands will part the mighty sea. It depends whose hands it’s in…..

A sling- shot in my hands is a kid’s toy.  A sling -shot in David’s hand is a mighty weapon. It depends whose hands it’s in…..

Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in my hands is a couple of fish sandwiches.  Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in God’s hands will feed thousands. It depends whose hands it’s in…..

Nails in my hands might produce a house. Nails in Jesus Christ’s hands will produce salvation for the entire world.

It depends whose hands it’s in…..

As we continue this morning, I want us to keep in mind this statement: “In our hands have been placed an assignment to serve both in the church as member of the body of Christ and on mission in the world as salt and light. In our lives have been placed abilities and gifts that are to be used both within the church and out in the world.”

But one of the realities of church life is that there are problems and challenges and the New Testament contains several such problem situations and solutions to those problems. One is located in the book of I Corinthians.

The problem is really an attitude that says, “They matter but I don’t because they have the ability to do such and so and I don’t.” Paul, the first Christian missionary instructs them in what’s important about these gifts. We read a part of that instruction in I Corinthians 12: 4-7 and verse 27.


When we profess faith in Jesus Christ and choose to receive forgiveness of our sins, we are given spiritual gifts to be used as part of our ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ. These gifts, and this is the important part, are to be used for ministry to benefit the entire church. They a part of the tool bag for followers of Jesus Christ.

But, they require us to get out of some comfort zones to discover and start using them. That is a part of our church’s purpose and our first speaker _____  is going to share what it has been like to get out of his comfort zone and discover God’s future as our youth leader.

______  SHARES (Then do the honoring)

Each one of us has a place of service in the ministry of this church. To discover that ministry requires us to begin a process of discovery and testing to determine how God has gifted us, what our ministry passions and interests are, and where God wants us to be in light of all of that.

But, God also wants us involved in a mission to the world. The Christian faith has been designed to give away, to share. It is a message of second chances, of hope, of a God that cares about us and wants us to have a life worth living in the here and now.

But, that requires us to get involved outside the walls of this facility and involved in the hopes, dreams, disappointments, and fears of people out there who need to know and experience God’s forgiveness and transformation. This mission requires us to identify community needs and seek God’s direction in what needs He has called us to meet and how we are to meet them. That’s where our second passage, and our second speaker, comes in.

When Jesus gathered his first followers together, He sat them down on a mountainside and told them some very important things. Things that are recorded in Matthew chapters 5 – 7.

One of those important things he told them is symbolized as salt and light. We read about them in Matthew 5: 13-16.


Salt and light are really simple things. They are everyday things. We are using one – light right now. They make a difference in our lives. We notice when they are not there.

Salt brings flavor to our lives and makes us thirsty. Salt represents our character, being transformed by God in such a manner that it creates a desire in other persons to want what we have. Light brings visibility to our lives. It helps us to see clearly. Light represents the purity and power of God that chases away the darkness and it confusion and terror.

Living as salt and light creates an impression in other person’s minds and hearts. But, to make that impression requires being in places and spaces in people’s lives where they are. You see salt and light is in lots of places – homes, work, the neighbors, the school, basically anywhere people gather for something. People need salt and light in their lives. We, as followers of Christ, are that salt and light. But it requires us to get our of our comfort zones.

And that is where ______ comes in. ____  is the area director of Junior Achievement. JA is an organization whose mission is to educate our children about the world of work.

Last fall, as I was introducing myself to community persons, _____ was one of those that I introduced myself to. I had an acquaintance with JA several years ago through one of the high school students who had been a member of a previous congregation was involved in JA.

______ comes to share briefly share about JA as one way to be salt and light in a world that needs it because work is a spiritual issue and this is one way to get involved with a group of people who need quality people surrounding them at a critical point in their lives.

_____, it’s nice to have you, welcome, and come and share.

____  SHARES

JA represents the many community needs that we are called to be involved in as God leads us. I am going to give one hour a week in March to share with 7th graders at Kendallville Central Middle School about the world of work.

It is taking me out of my comfort zone. I have worked with middle school students but not in that way. It has been a long time since I have been in a classroom. The subject is important because we are called to honor God in our work. But I am going to be in a new environment and I am going to be learning some new things about others and myself.

I have been saying for most of this month that God has a future for you. He does. But God has a future for everyone and He needs us to help make that future possible. That’s why he gave the great commission of making responsible and maturing followers of Christ to people and not something else. But, it requires us to get out of some comfort zones and move forward with God’s help and guidance. He won’t let us down.

  1. 1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
  2. 2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.
How did you do?
Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:
1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
6. Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.

Easier? The lesson? The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones
with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care. And, I might add who came out of some comfort zones to do so.

This morning I am challenging you to step out of your comfort zones and begin to find your ministry in this church and your mission in the world. Are you willing? Are you ready to do so?

What does it require? A willingness to move forward, to take a risk, to maybe even fail along the way, a willingness to consider new ideas about a believers’ role in the church. A willingness to discover how God has gifted you and discover what your passions are and discover how all of it fits together.

Ready to go? Then let’s go forward! Amen!

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