Monday, June 30, 2014

PONDERINGS OF A PENITENT PASTOR

Can I be honest as a pastor? As one called to oversee the house, I get concerned. In many churches including my own, there are more takers than givers. I find myself giving account to God and saying that we are not taking care of the next generation in the house. We don’t always clean up after ourselves and we do not prepare the house adequately for the Master’s dwelling.

We like to wait for the Master’s return so he will wash our feet and prepare our table. When God is in the house, we are sometimes startled awake and realize that we were not ready.

How are we doing as managers in God’s house? I’m the pastor so I know the buck stops here. I have more accountability to God than you would want. God wants to know what I am doing with the people I serve and oversee. I want to tell God that they are all awake and sensitive to the needs of the house. I want to tell Him that you are being really good to your neighbours.

I want to tell God that you are exceedingly generous and always ready to respond to the needs in the house and the neighbourhood. I do not want to tell God that you are missing in action.

I want to tell God about the sacrificial way we care for our families and each other. I want to tell him how we always practice hospitality. I do not want to tell him that a handful pays for everything while others give nothing.

I do not want to answer to God for the shortage of children and youth workers. He might think that the next generations are not valued.

I do not want to hear these words of Jesus and ask Peter’s question:


Luke 12:
41 Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”


So, is this for the North American church and all the others that we think fall short in some way? Is this just for pastors, so they will shape up? Surely, this message is for the ones that we judge to be non-committal and spiritually asleep. Or does this message imply that we all will give account for our spiritual service?


Luke 12:
42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.


To those who have been lulled into thinking that your service to God has no value, please wake up! Jesus’ words are not just about the future Kingdom; they speak to God’s appearance in our lives now! Rise to the task at hand.

To those who have forgotten what God thinks of abusive behaviour, lower your fists and pick up a towel and basin. You have a lot of feet to wash.

To those who have not laid your money at the apostle’s feet to further God’s work, bring your offering humbly. To those who think only of their own appetite, please share what you have. The hungry are at our doorstep.

Then, when God speaks to us of a need we will be awake and ready to do our part. When the Master shows up unexpectedly at night, He will find people who are ready to welcome him. He will reverse roles and care for those who waited on Him.


Together, let us stop hitting the snooze button. There is work to be done and you are such an important part of God’s team. Let’s get up and go!


Friday, June 27, 2014

YOUR LIFE AS A MANAGER


I think we need to understand that God is looking for a response from us. What we choose to do or not do with God’s investment in us is consequential.



Do you think it makes any difference how we live in God’s Kingdom? Since we are saved by grace, does it make any difference whether we are awake or asleep in the light?



Luke 12:
39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”


A good manager takes responsibility for maintaining and improving upon that which is given to them. Lousy managers say, ‘It’s not my job… You can only do so much… it’s better to do nothing than to take a risk. Really, what difference does it make?

The problem with that style of management is the surprise visits made by the boss. God is not impressed when we are careless with what we have been given.



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

IMAGE MANAGEMENT CALLED AND THEY SAID, 'YOU'RE FIRED!'


Often the Kingdom of God is described in word pictures. We are to understand invisible realities that speak through visible matter. When you look at the physical conditions, you are given a spiritual message.


Jesus teaches us that it is our nature to evaluate by what we see in another person, but God looks at the heart of the individual. We might judge a book by its cover, but God reads the book.

 So many are frustrated with feeling judged for what they have or do not have. For some, image management is a full time job. They spend all their waking hours trying to achieve success, acquire possessions and find meaning in the things they do. ‘Fake it until you make it’ is a valued motto.

Image management called and they said, ‘You’re Fired!’

God’s Kingdom is counter-intuitive to all that stuff. We are to find our significance and power by laying it all down. We die to self and live to God. In doing so, we are given an eternal inheritance that cannot be taken from us.

So what do we do now that we have been chosen to live in God’s Country?


Luke 12:
35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 


The word picture here illustrates living a life where we expect God to need us at any moment. We might think that God doesn’t need us, but Jesus teaches otherwise. We are to live our lives on call. We need to stay in our work clothes and leave the lights on. This is a night shift picture.

Just because it’s dark out, do not think you can switch to pajamas and turn the light off. When you know that the Master could return and need your help, you remain watchful and ready. God wants an immediate response.

The whole picture illustrates what God needs from us. We must be always available. Does that mean that God doesn’t want us to sleep or take time off? On the contrary, He gives his beloved rest and leads us by quiet streams.

God is looking for a man or woman who will give their full attention to what is needed. When God finds that in us, look at how He responds.


Luke 12:
37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.


In a most unorthodox fashion, the master becomes the servant. God dresses Himself in the employee’s uniform and waits on his servants. God washes the feet of those who are foot-washers. He feeds the ones who are supposed to prepare the meal. In Christ there is no longer a distinction between master and slave.

So, how does this astounding word picture work into your reality? How are you poised and ready to serve God? Are you waiting for God to give you a ‘to do’ list? Or have you taken your role seriously as a servant and constantly watch for ways to do God’s work? The parables about stewardship tell us that God expects us to take the initiative with what He gives us. We are not to hold back. We are to use our resource and find ways to multiply its effectiveness.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

STARTING AGAIN WITH A NEW WALLET

Have you ever thinned out your wallet or purse? If you can, take a moment and see what’s there.

There are many things in life that we can live without, but the wallet or purse is often where we keep our methods of payment (cash, debit card, credit) and forms of identification.

We tend to keep things there that we are going to use, but sometimes their usefulness expires. Who has an expired card, a note to self or a random item that no longer has significance? Don’t begin to list all the contents of a large handbag. I’m afraid to put my hand in there!

In the same way we need to review contents occasionally, the wallet is just a microcosm of our life contents. When I take stock of my inventory, I try to live by the motto, ‘If in doubt, throw it out’. The more stuff you have, the harder it is to lay hands on what you actually need in the moment.

It follows that Jesus would have something to say to us about the stuff we accumulate in life.


Luke 12:
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


Jesus answers the question of what I really need in life. I need to downsize and get a wallet that will not wear out. I do not need much to thrive in God’s Kingdom. I need proof of identity to be in God’s Country and I need access to the treasures of Heaven.

What value is there in trying to hold on to the things you no longer will need? My wallet would be useless in a far off country unless I had currency and identification that was recognized. My Canadian Tire money would be only useful for giving away as souvenirs to the locals. My Ontario Driver’s License will not give me the privilege of driving permanently in another province or far off country. I need to possess the important things of God’s Kingdom.

So much of what we call home consists of places and things. Jesus tells us to fearlessly let go of the old citizenship and move to His Kingdom. In travelling light, you need an identity that authorizes you to conduct business and a currency that is recognized and valuable. The Father is pleased to give you a new place and things that will last. In the wallet God gives you, there is always what you actually need and always something to give away.

Isn’t it time to start again with a new wallet?


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

GOD AND THE KIDS


A common sight in Jesus’ time was a father and mother coming to Jesus asking that He bless their children. The Lord was more than willing to oblige. 

While his disciples were more inclined to set children aside, Jesus said ‘Do not prevent them from coming to me [i]. He sided with the parents who cared about their child’s future.

The disciples’ attitudes are contrasted with Jesus. Today, there are still two attitudes toward children and toward the vulnerable. God’s great love and preferential treatment for them is contrasted with those who are more concerned with their own benefit, well-being and comfort.

Perhaps one of the most difficult stories for us to understand is found in Genesis 22. God tests Abraham by asking him to take his son Isaac to Mount Moriah, and there offer him as a human sacrifice.

Human sacrifice is found globally in ancient cultures. Abraham’s generation worshipped fertility gods that required the sacrifice of children.  We hear the story and are shocked that the true God would ask such a thing, but Abraham hears God asking for the same thing that the other gods would have required. No-one would have been surprised at such an action.

"To Abraham, not unfamiliar with various ways in which among his heathen ancestors the deity was propitiated, the testing question comes, 'Art thou prepared to obey thy God as fully as the people about thee obey their gods?' and in the putting forth of his faith in the act of obedience, he learns that the nature of his God is different." [ii]

What about us? Are we prepared to sacrifice our children to the gods of culture that would devalue their very existence? Or will see that God’s sacrifice in found with the only Lamb of God? Instead of making our children pay, we receive God’s mercy.

We bring our children and all vulnerable ones to the God who cherishes them and does not demand their blood to pay for our sins.






[i] See Mark 10:13-16
[ii] James C. Robertson, The Early Religion Of Israel, p.254

Blog Archive