Which kind of servant are you?

I was reading the Parable of the Talents this morning [Luke 19:11-27 / Matt 25:14-30] and it kinda hit me in a new way.  Jesus tells this story of a master who gives three servants three different amounts of money – Matthew tells us it was five talents, 2 talents, and 1 talent each according to their ability.

OK, so stop right there.  Does God still give us things according to our ability to handle them well for His glory?  I think the answer is yes…we all have been given different gifts, abilities, and life situations – each custom designed by a sovereign loving God to fit who we are, where we are and what we can do to bring glory and honor to Him.

So, back to our story – the master goes away and the first two servants invest the money and when the master returns they give it back to him with interest.  Obviously, the master is happy about this.

So, again…stopping to ponder – when Jesus does return and when we stand before him to give an account. [Rom 14:10-12].  Those who are followers of Jesus will not be judged for our sin, (that already happened on the cross, and when you trusted in Jesus you were instantly justified) – we will be judged for our lives – our actions – what we did with what he gave us.   I think this story tells us that we are supposed to be growing God’s gifts to us.  Are you growing what he has given you?  We are getting closer to New Years’ resolution time BTW…

The master then gets to the third servant who, out of fear, doesn’t invest what the master gave him.  Instead he hides it.  When the master returns, the servant says “Here is your money back.  It’s all there.  I didn’t lose any of it!”  The master is pretty ticked off, yes…he didn’t lose any of it, but he didn’t gain anything either which was the point – the servant was supposed to make more with what he has been given and he didn’t do that.

I was reading a commentary on this passage this morning that had this to say about the third servant —

He is a believer who has not found the state of grace offered by Jesus so brilliant as he hoped – a legal Christian who has not tasted grace, and knows nothing of the gospel but it’s severe morality. It seems to him that the Lord gives very little to exact so much. With such a feeling, the least possible only will be done. God should be satisfied with us to abstain from doing ill, from squandering our talent. [Godet, Commentary on Luke, 222]

Ouch.

The sum of Christianity is not keeping the rules and waiting around for Jesus to return and we can go to heaven.  This story tells us that God has given each of us something, according to who we are in his sovereignty – and we are called to be responsible and grow what he has given us and bring him glory.  Not to just keep the rules and hide our gifts.   Out of the astounding grace that he has shown us in Jesus – why wouldn’t we?

Who are you more like today?  The third servant or the first two?

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Have you worshipped about it?

I have developed a deep and manly love for Mark Driscoll. Maybe it’s the faux-hawk, but probably because I’ve realized that he has learned an amazing amount, is a great no-nonsense communicator, and will ferociously stand where God has placed him.  For years I have heard him speak here and there at various conferences and liked what he had to say, but lately with his whole Haiti trip and Churches Helping Churches thing it has caused me to You Tube up a few classic MD clips. I quickly got hooked, and now he is on regular rotation of my weekly podcasts right beside Piper, Chandler, Harris, Baitzel, and Gustavsen.

I am working thru his series on Luke and just soaking every bit up. I had originally just jumped in the middle, but my friend Tim has developed a manly love for MD as well and urged me to go back and pick it up from the beginning. I’m glad he did.

I listened yesterday to his sermon on Mary’s Song found in Luke 1:46-55. I urge you to watch or listen to the whole message, but if you are a worship leader – pay close attention to Mark’s well taken points on worshipping, even when you don’t “feel” like worshipping and even in the midst of great trial – like Mary – the Jr. High aged single mother, pregnant without a husband facing tremendous societal backlash for being an unwed pregnant woman. The weight of the situation could have crushed her – she goes to pray and unlike us (ok…ME) when we get to God in prayer we (I) usually start barfing out my problems to Him right away – forgetting completely that I need to worship God my savior for his goodness to me, his mercy, his justice, his faithfulness, his provision, his redemption of my soul thru Jesus and about a 100 other attributes that are eternal, infinite, and unchanging.

Mary gets that it’s not about her and we are called to worship the Lord with our whole lives – even when we don’t feel like it.  The best way to get yourself to feel like worshipping?  Worship anyway.  I recall what Bob Kauflin said at a seminar at WorshipGod 09 – that people often think because he is so physically expressive during worship that he is always “in the Spirit” – he commented that sometimes he doesn’t feel like worshipping at all at that particular moment, but he is instead getting himself into a proper state by “worshipping” anyway – being obedient to God and over ruling his feelings and worshiping God because of who HE is and not what he feels like. 

Mary faced HUGE pressures that most of us can never imagine – but she worshipped about it.  I loved when MD commented in the message below “What is worrying you most right now?  Have you worshipped about it?”  

We need to take our minds off of ourselves and our problems and remember who it is we are called to worship with our whole lives, even on the days when we are overcome by life.  God is worthy of eternal praise for many reasons but as it’s been said because he has created us, redeemed us, and sustained us to say the least.

As worship leaders, we need to direct people to worship God always, in all seasons of life, but we must also model that ourselves. 

How is your private worship life?  We cannot lead where we haven’t gone. Are you worshipping him privately in all of your seasons?  Even when you are hard pressed on every side?  What is worrying you most right now? Have you worshipped about it?

You can’t (and shouldn’t) always get what you want

As Mick Jagger says…you can’t always get what you want…

So, how do we react when the things we pray for intensely get answered with a big fat NO?

Have you ever experienced that?   In my daily reading today,  in the Valley of Vision I came across this wonderful little paragraph:

I thank thee for the many prayers that have been refused
I have asked amiss and do not have,
I have prayed from lusts and been rejected,
I have longed for Egypt and been given a wilderness.

About a year and a half ago I was inches away from relocating to take a job.  I prayed intensely about this, Melanie was on board, I had gone thru 5 (count ’em) FIVE interviews, we were really starting to get excited.

Then I get a cold, cruel e-mail from the admin simply saying, in form-letter-like fashion – “Thanks for your interests, but we are pursuing other candidates.”

In a word – I was near devastation. I was looking for the quickest route up to the roof in order to jump off.  I recall reading the e-mail out of the corner of my eye, and having someone come in my office to ask me a question and I didn’t hear a word they said.  I just needed to go and call my wife and start the old  “Can you believe that!?” routine.

A year and a half later,  I am very thankful that God didn’t say yes to my request – for a variety of reasons.

king-julien-whoareyouThis isn’t going to be one of those “See, everything has a reason” posts.  I really get kinda nauseous when I hear that. The reason is that we need to submit to God and his sovereignty, and following him has a high cost – because ultimately it’s not about us, it’s about Him. We are like King Julien who says “It’s all about ME.”

Today I was in Luke 14 where Jesus is talking about the cost of discipleship.  In a word – if you want to follow me, it’s not going to be about you, it’s going to be about ME – so you’d better really seriously consider that before you become my disciple and understand what you are getting into.  Luke 14:33 says:

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Look at what Christ renounced for me?  His LIFE.  Temporarily…His GLORY, when he came to Earth on mission to be our payment, our justification, our righteousness. He calls us to be ready to do the same for him. For in losing our very life for Him – we will actually save it.

So, do I always understand and accept that perfectly? Oh heck no. But these passages are such good reminders of what we are called to as followers of Christ.

It goes against our own selfishness, right?

I think that may be why Jesus uses such strong language here, he knows our selfish hearts.