Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Talents

When was the last time you read the Parable of the Talents?  I knew the story 'very well' having heard it most of my life, but this last week was challenged to unpack it a little more.

Take a quick look:  Matthew 25:14-30

What do you notice?
There were 3 servants.  He gave them all different amounts of money, why?  "According to their ability".  Ok, so already we see 'to whom much is given much is required' (how many talents do you have?)

What did the master own?  The money? yes.  The land? yep.  The servants?  Them too.  Everything belonged to him.

What happened when the master left?  Well, 1st think about this, what would happen if your boss left, didn't say when they were coming back, but it would be a long time.  What would happen?  Want a better example?  Think of a college/high school classroom.  What would happen if the teacher left the room and was going to be gone?  How many students would stick around and do what they were suppose to do?  ('while the cat's away the mice will play')

But what happened?  By those examples, 1 went 'to play' and 2 went to work (do work!).  It doesn't even say what they did, just that they went to work.

Ok, next:  How'd they do?  One buried the money and made nothing, the other 2 doubled-up.

So, when the master came back, how do you think the servants responded?  The one that made nothing, do you think he hid around the back of the room, avoided eye contact, and tried to look busy?  Probably.  Now what about the other two?  Don't you know they were busting the doors down to Run to get an audience with him!

Now, what happened next?  What did the two servants who doubled up have to say?  Not much, they didn't have a need to, they just let their actions speak.  The third servant, the one who didn't make anything, what did he have to say?  He blamed it on the man.  He said, "you see master, it's really YOU'RE fault... that I didn't do anything"  He blamed the master for his inaction.  (how often do we do that....)

Last thing from the text I want you to notice.  Who owned everything again?  The master.  Who's money was it then?  The master's.  Notice the end of the parable, he says take the 1 talent (from the man who had done nothing) and give it to the man who has 10.  So, the man who had 5 of the master's talents and doubled them to make 10 (of the master's talents), still had the 10 talents.  The master hadn't taken them away, he had left them with the servant.  Think on that.

So what's your ROI?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

break bread

This morning I was reminded of the importance of fellowship, the importance of accountability (in more ways than one), and the importance of same sex small groups.

Yesterday I ran into a good friend of mine who told me to meet him the next morning... at 6:00 am.  I admittedly waffled a bit.  His response to my uneasiness was "either I'll see you there at 6, or I'll be at your house at 5:45 blowing the horn to pick you up".  At that, my wife just laughed and told me (tender and lovingly, of course) "Ha!  You met one just like you!"

So, this morning I got up, drove down the hill and met him and about 10 other guys.  It was all guys meeting in a carport.  In age we ranged from about 12 - 60 years old, in athleticism from the ability to do body weight air squats to picking up small automobiles and throwing them over their shoulder.  We had college football players, football and soccer coaches, principles, teachers, students, and physician assistants.  We had sons, brothers, fathers, and grandfathers.  All different, but all united in purpose (2 purposes actually).

For about 45 minutes we all, regardless of ability, had our butts kicked in Crossfit hybrid (directed by a special forces soldier, Crossfit certified instructor, and all around Beast) workout of weights, kettlebells, rowing machines, ski machines, and all other manner of torturous devices that we all love.  At the conclusion, this group of men all stood around, sweaty and breathing hard.  Much like any crossfit or bootcamp exercise you might go to.  What made this one different was what happens next.  A mix of devo, discussion, and preaching (this one on the parable of the talents in Matthew 25) followed by prayer.  Powerful prayers from a group of men passionate about The Living God.

Surround yourselves with such people.  The disciples needed each other (even when sent out they were sent 2by2), Jesus had a small group (the apostles) and 3 best friends even within that group.  If the apostles needed it, if Jesus Christ the son of God needed it, we need it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

God is love.

God is Love. 

As such, He can not also be the god of hate. 
Though God may (does) hate the sins that we all commit, that does not translate into a hate for the people committing those sins.  See, God hates sin for what it does to those He loves.  God did not create a bunch of arbitrary rules and "though shalt not"s for the fun of it or to be all controlling and manipulative, or to give us ways to fail.  Every law/rule/command in the Bible is given for our own good - for the protection of His children (you, me, us).  God hates that we can not see the consequences of our actions, that we don't see how much better our lives would be without sin, how much more abundantly we would live if we followed His commands (in place for our protection), but He does not hate any person.

hear me, Hear me, HEAR ME: God does not, will not, can not hate You.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What is church?

When does church start and when does it end?  Does it start after the announcements begin, or after the 1st song, or after the opening prayer?  Does it end after the preacher sits down, after the invitational, or after the closing prayer (even if it's not really at the close)?

What if it's a Sunday Night instead of 10:30am?  What if we meet for a prayer breakfast on Saturday but we're in the auditorium, does that count?  And if it does indeed "count", where do we draw the line and what rules apply?  And what if on Sunday morning the preacher delivering the message is long winded (not at All like me...) and goes past 11:30, does the time override the previous discussed measuring sticks?

Hopefully, though not necessarily, you caught the tongue-in-cheek nature of that paragraph.  Although I am indeed being a bit facetious, the issue is very serious, and very important.

1.  Is there a building that's more sacred than another?  Does the one with pews and extra parking spaces hold greater spiritual significance than my house or yours (or a park bench, or a fishing boat, or a hiking trail, or a restaurant)?
2.  Then, within that building, is the room that's larger than the rest, has the pews and microphones and pulpit in it just another room or is it a sanctuary?

Well, with regards to number one, I resoundingly say no!  What makes a place sacred is not what it's made out of, where it is located, or What's in it, but who's in it.  As for number two, though I believe even those who refuse to call it a sanctuary often do, in fact, treat it as one, I find this notion to be preposterous.

What is a sanctuary?  A consecrated place - a holy place or even the "holy of holies", often used to describe a Hebrew Temple.  And what is a temple?  The place where God resides.  Does God reside in a church building if it's empty?  What about in that inner room with the pews and hymnals?  If no one is in there, is He just hanging out there waiting for us all to show back up again?  No?
Then it's not a temple; it's not a sanctuary.  Is it a temple on Sunday morning?
Yes (didn't see that one coming did you?) BUT only because we're there.  We are the temple, we are the sanctuary, our very bodies.  Therefore where ever we are, the presence of God is there as well - whether that be in the auditorium or the arboretum, the Wednesday night class or the waffle house, the church building or your house, or mine.  It also means that God Is in the church building anytime one of His is there, be that Sunday morning at 10:30, 11:59, or a Tues at 6:45am.

The church is so many things, it is a complex ever changing yet ever constant, living, breathing, divinely inspired entity.   Thinking of "church" in terms of 22 minutes once a week in 1 specific place is severely limiting the Creator of the universe to our huge detriment.