Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Master's Wealth

Jesus told a story about a man who was going on a journey and before he left he entrusted some of his wealth to 3 of his servants. To one he gave 3 portions and to another 2 and to the third a single portion of his wealth, to each according to their abilities. Then he went away.

Each of the servants did something with the portion of the master’s wealth that they were given. In the end the master returned and their performance was the basis for their reward.

It is probably important to realize that this is one of a series of stories Jesus was telling to illustrate what the Kingdom of heaven is like. Each of these stories demonstrated the importance of our behavior when the time for judgement comes. We will be judged and rewarded according to what we do! These are the words of Jesus
Two of the servants doubled the treasure of the master and one only hid the treasure so he could return it to his master when he returned.

What is this about?

How can it apply to my daily life?

I have not been satisfied with any answers I have heard over the years. The King James Bible and many of the other newer translations have unfortunately made an unfortunate translation that I suspect may have been misused to suggest that the wealth of the master had something to do with talents or abilities. The Greek word would be spelled TALENTON. Therefore rather than translate the word scholars simply spelled it like an English word that they could explain as it was convenient for them. The Greek word actually simply means a certain sum of money.

As I said at the beginning, the master distributed portions of his wealth to each of 3 of his servants. If the story is to help us understand what the kingdom of Heaven is like, wouldn’t it seem logical to assume that the master represents Jesus? What then of the portions of his wealth? These were each servants of the master (Jesus). What does God give us when we come to him to be born again into his kingdom? A very precious gift, He gives each of us his Holy Spirit to live inside of us to guide us into all righteousness. (John 14:22)

As we learn to listen to the Spirit of God who lives in us whole dimensions of life become available. Not least is the power to stop choosing sin and to choose obedience to God instead. But these treasures never become real for us if we do not take the gift of God and cultivate that gift in our daily life. In that case, when the master returns and asks what we have done with his treasure, he will take the treasure away and cast us into outer darkness.

But if we have worked to cultivate that spiritual relationship and have increased it even a little he will be pleased with us. But we each must work to the best of our ability.

These stories of Jesus are a frightening contrast to the teaching that Jesus did it all and there is nothing for us to do. Certainly we could never earn the gift of forgiveness we could never balance the scale. That is the wonderful mercy of God. We could never overcome one sin without the help of the Spirit of God working in our lives. But this story clearly tells me that I do have work to do and if I neglect that work the consequences are severe.

Let us each one work to cultivate our relationship with our Heavenly Father, with our Savior Jesus the Christ and with the Holy Spirit that lives in us. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

For Keri

Here are some thoughts about the article you shared. It seems a little rambly I hope it’s not too disconnected. (ref;; “Disillusioned Christian”)

Disillusioned Christian. A very interesting and thoughtful article. I found myself identifying with much of what he said. However even though for some time now I have felt disillusioned about the church system I have not become disillusioned with Jesus. I still believe what I have believed for a long time about him and in many ways very similar to what much of main line Christianity professes.
There have been times when I just wanted to chuck it all in and walk away. It didn’t work! The truth is it didn’t and doesn’t work the way I was always taught. The feel-good religion is a lie. That’s not to say that there are no good feelings. But, the reality of the gospel message does not make me giddy. The rhythmic music and the entertaining speeches are enjoyable but they are not a help in the daily life.

Money is a little like truth. When you have 3 or 4 Benjamin’s in your pocket you know you can handle most of life’s regular situations. Truth is like that only better. To handle those daily situations you will need to sacrifice some of those Bens. To get through the day the truth is you will need to give up some other things as well.

For myself at some time I realized that my plans and my strategy was yielding some pretty unsatisfactory results. What are the alternatives? The religious system is all I have known for over 60 years. Heaven and Hell are not big motivators. A life that works; now that could get me excited. Over the years I have seen some people who seemed to be successful in their life. I am talking about success in the difficulties not without difficulties. I am talking about people like Steve Saint (The End of the Spear) or Corrie Ten Boom (The Hiding Place). These are real people and they found their strength and their direction as they looked at Jesus. I have known some similar people as well although their lives were not filled with so much public drama, still they succeeded by looking to Jesus following his example and obeying his commands.

Jesus is much more than a Bible story. He is a real person whose life is revealed little by little throughout the Bible. I cannot know him by just reading about him. I must learn by obeying what he says, and follow the example I see in the Bible. As I am doing this I am experiencing better results. Also, as I am doing this it is requiring that I change my behavior, thoughts and attitudes in many ways I never expected or would have been willing to change. Truth demands sacrifice!

So in the mean time I am not sure where I belong when it comes to churches, but wherever I am I know that my focus is on following Jesus and learning how to obey his commands.
There are still no easy answers. J

Here is a little of how it is working, sort of, for me. In one paragraph he speaks of staying silent or shouting angrily at no one in particular (The great nameless faceless “they”) I have found or I believe God has shown me an answer to this. I do not like the answer but I believe it is the answer for me.
Isa 42:1-4 The LORD says, "Here is my servant, whom I strengthen--- the one I have chosen, with whom I am pleased. I have filled him with my Spirit, and he will bring justice to every nation. He will not shout or raise his voice or make loud speeches in the streets. He will not break off a bent reed nor put out a flickering lamp. He will bring lasting justice to all. He will not lose hope or courage; he will establish justice on the earth. Distant lands eagerly wait for his teaching."
Matthew quotes this when he is writing about Jesus in Matthew 12:18. For me this works in that as I want to be like Jesus, I need to find the way to conform my life, thoughts and attitudes to this. So for a while now I have been thinking about it. I especially think about it when things are said by those I care about that I believe are damaging things to be saying. (Facebook!) I know that mostly people do not want to be corrected. I don’t! So I get to be quiet or not respond directly. Often I simply get to pray and think about my own life. This is a response I don’t enjoy because I want to do something, but I know it is the right response. Someone may ask for my thoughts and hopefully I will be able to share them in a way that is helpful.

In the next paragraph he says he’s stuck and not making progress. I suspect that this may not be true if he is sincerely seeking. It sometimes takes a lot of work to get a garden ready to produce a good crop. In our lives as well sometimes we do a lot of work that doesn’t appear evident for some time. Sharpening the hoe and collecting seeds doesn’t look like anything in the garden patch but they are necessary, doing them is progress toward the crop. The most productive thing I have ever done in this regard is to memorize and meditate on Matthew 5:3-9. When I began and for a long time it didn’t seem like I was accomplishing anything. But as I thought about the meanings of the words I saw the wisdom and aspired to be conformed to those virtues. As I did this I suppose I was praying, and little by little I have begun to see changes. It is very slow, but it is progress.

I would dearly love to find others who want to follow Jesus and become more and more like him. I am not offended by many church services, but I am seldom helped either. It is a matter of a community sharing our struggles and accepting that we are individually in different places and that we each have our own understanding of how it works; how God wants to work in our lives. I believe following and obeying Jesus is the way and I don’t think that will change, but I am pretty sure that screaming that into your face won’t convince you and it certainly isn’t making me any more like him.

So those are some of my thoughts. I hope they are understandable and that you may find some encouragement for your life there. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

I Desperately Desire to be In Church!

I desperately desire to be in church! But what does that mean? I know it seems like a simple statement that can easily be fulfilled at any of many local meeting places. But, what is church? And, how does it compare with all of those local meetings that are considered to be church?

In nearly every “church meeting” I have gone to there is a very similar pattern that is followed. First there is a “worship time”, where a single person or very small group of people decide what everyone will sing and then lead singing of their preferred genre of “worship songs”. This is not a time for discussing what songs are better. It is simply what I have seen. This is usually followed by an offering to support “The Lord’s Work” which is also determined by another small group of “leaders”. In some groups the communion service is included here, though it varies from group to group.” Then there is a “message” given by someone whose primary employment is to bring a message each week or even 3 times a week that will keep people coming back and satisfied that they are participating in “The Lord’s work.” The message will also include a strong encouragement to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior so you can go to Heaven and avoid going to Hell.

Singing songs, giving offerings, receiving communion and hearing a message of encouragement are all good things that God’s Word encourages us to be doing. But is this the pattern that is described in the New Testament for the Church to be following? I must allow that there are many similarities. However there seems to be a large disparity between how this is currently accomplished and how the Word of God describes the development of the meeting of believers.

In 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 we have a large portion of the description of how the local assemblies are to function. It is surely no accident that those 2 important chapters are surrounding the incomparable glory that is 1 Corinthians 13. Anyone who would set about to correct the majority of Christendom must absolutely recognize the gravity and necessity of charity as described in this passage or else simply slam about wounding and doing damage to the Church of God.

A large difference that I see between the modern American church and the instructions I read in the New Testament is what might be called full participation. As I have mentioned, in the popular church meeting the messages are primarily brought by a paid minister who was selected by either a small group of leaders or by a popular vote of the congregation. This person is chosen because of the college that they attended, because they are a gifted speaker, or because they have shown leadership abilities in another assembly. 1 Corinthians 14 begins with the encouragement to follow after charity and desire spiritual abilities but especially that you may prophesy. Then from verse 24 to verse 33 there are clear directions for the conduct of a meeting. I am especially aware that participation is encouraged for all. Verse 31 says “all may prophesy”. Here you may understand that by prophesy I am considering this the same as bringing the message of encouragement. I think the context supports this.

There are other aspects of the Biblical pattern for the church which could be considered at a later time if there is interest, but just now this is a good place to stop. I am sure there are some who would protest that this could not work because the general congregation lacks training to be able to express themselves. There would be error and confusion in what was shared. The problems go on and on, and they are justified. But they are not problems that the current system avoids. Yet the pattern set down in scripture is just that; The Scriptural pattern.  I and many others have seen the Scriptural pattern for meetings yield very good fruit in the lives of many. Some of the strongest admonitions for my life have come from simple testimonies of what might be called unlearned men, women, and even children who sincerely shared what they heard the Spirit telling them.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Shield of What?

Above all, take the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (Ephesians 6:16)

Above all… what an imperative statement. What an all-inclusive statement.

One of the amazing things to me about this whole passage is that it speaks of the different aspects of the Christian life as very useful articles in the clothing of a soldier in spiritual battle. I am therefore very inclined to find a clear and practical understanding of what these items are so that I can use them in this warfare that we are engaged in. I am therefore very interested in understanding what it is and how to use this shield of faith.

For years I heard and many times read the definition in Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.

To me this was not very helpful. And it is amazing that this is the answer so frequently given. But if you will read on in the chapter there are very good examples of what faith is and how it works.

Noah may be my favorite of those mentioned although Enoch is also very impressive. Noah is so good because we can read about what happened and if we will think about it see that faith involved a long and difficult task that was the result of a warning from God (Gen. 6:)
. It was also a job that had to be accomplished in the face of opposition with almost no support. Faith then was a matter of being faithful and doing what was required without support or help and possibly with opposition.

In Luke 17 Jesus gives instruction to the disciples about relationships and when they ask him to increase their faith he tells them a parable about a servant who comes in from working all day and then is told to clean up and prepare dinner for his master. The servant does not expect to be thanked or praised for his work. Jesus tells his disciples, “So likewise you, when you shall have done all the things commanded you, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants, for we have only done what we ought to do.’”

So then how is this a practical shield against the darts of the devil?
If we are actively seeking to know and do God’s will rather than our own, when doubts and fears come we can safely hide behind the shield of faith. When discouragement would tear me down when I get busy about the work that I believe God wants me to be doing, that dart has no power against me.

OK, so what is this work that I am supposed to be about?

God’s word is full of activities He wants each of us to be about; In everything Give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thes. 5:18). Finally brethren whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise think on these things (Phil. 4:4-8). I exhort you therefore that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings and all that are in authority(1 Tim. 2:1+). Because of this, make every effort to add integrity to your faith; and to integrity add knowledge; to knowledge add self-control; to self-control add endurance; to endurance add godliness; to godliness add Christian affection; and to Christian affection add love If you have these qualities and they are increasing, it demonstrates that your knowledge about our Lord Jesus Christ is living and productive (2 Peter 1:5-8).

If we become faithful in these activities Satan’s darts will do us no harm. And this is work because it is in every case contrary to the old nature and in complete harmony with the Spirit of God.

Take up the shield of faith.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Profanity is not a problem with your mouth!

Many of us have battled with profanity to some degree or another. There are even acceptable versions of profanity heard in churches of all colors. On the street someone may say ‘Oh shit’ but around home or at church it sound like ‘Oh crap’ , ‘Oh poo’ or maybe even ‘PICKLES”. The illustrations could go on and on but you can see what I mean if you are interested.

Many of us have tried to overcome this habit with the acceptable curses, but that does not eliminate the problem. The problem is much deeper than my mouth. In Luke 6:45 Jesus says;

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth the good. And an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth the evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
What comes out of my mouth comes straight from my heart. It is also true for you. I can say, “But I was only joking.” But what Jesus says is different. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” So here is the problem. My heart… your heart.
So much of the business of following Jesus is wrapped up in our heart. Lately as I read God’s Word “heart” seems to jump out at me and when I see it I come to a stop to see how it applies. One precious brother said, “My heart is that place where I like it.” My heart is the place where I have a taste for a thing. Whether it is ice cream, the Word of God, puppies or profanity. If I can admit this then I can truly go to work on the problem.

Do I trust God in all things? Do I believe in the deepest part of my heart that He is loving and caring for me? If that is true of me then when something happens that is a difficulty for me the response from my heart will be one of praise to God. And that is what will come out of my mouth. Yours as well!
When you hear profanity coming out of your mouth think about this. What is in my heart that such things come out of my mouth?

On our way to Arizona we stopped at Boron California and saw the 20 Mule Team Museum. Older readers will remember the TV show about the 20 Mule Team. There really was a time when teams of 20 mules would go into the mountains of Southern California to haul out the Boron from the mines. 10 pair of mules were harnessed to a chain that pulled the wagons to and from the mines. The mule skinner or driver sat on the last mule on the left with 1 rope leading up to the first mule on the left and this with his voice commands is how he controlled the mules. In the same way the reins for our tongue are way down in our heart telling us what to say and how to speak.

Think about it.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Authority, Who is in charge here

In Matthew 28, Jesus says, “All authority is given unto me…”

Why was all authority given to Jesus?

Most of you will probably say, “Because he was the Son of God” or “Because he was God.” But is that what the Word of God says?

In Philippians 2:6-10 it says.
Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God. Instead he gave up everything and became a slave, when he became like one of us.  Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross. Then God gave Christ the highest place and honored his name above all others. So at the name of Jesus everyone will bow down, those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.

Most people don’t understand this truth. But all people who truly have authority have gained that authority by being under authority. The centurion who met Jesus in Luke 7 and Matthew 9 understood when he said, “Say in a word and my servant will be healed for I also am a man under authority and I say…” He knew that Jesus had authority because he was under authority and recognized that his authority came from submission to authority.

In the book “The Fellowship of the Ring” in the very beginning, where Tolkien is explaining about the rings, he says, “Above all things, men love power.” We would all like very much to be able to speak healing for those we care about and to speak prosperity to the situations that we encounter. Of course we can say the words. But do the words we speak bring about the desired results?

In John 12:49 Jesus says;
For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.

This is a small part of a larger speech that Jesus is making but at the same time I believe it can stand alone to show us the principal of where Jesus got his authority.

Therefore If I desire the kind of authority that Jesus speaks of in John 14:10-15, I must learn to submit to his commands the way he submitted to the Father’s.

To believe is to keep his commandments.

It’s something to think about.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Put Your Shoes On

Don’t go out without your shoes on. I remember my mom saying those very words to me and I hated it. Now barefoot weather is approaching; some places slower than others. But there are places where, even in nice weather, we don’t go barefooted. Soldiers in combat seldom are without shoes. In Viet Nam although it was almost always plenty warm to go barefoot, whenever we did any walking we usually had something on our feet. When we were on the move we always had our boots on.

In Ephesians 6:15 we are encouraged to put on specific shoes. In each of the more literal translations that I have these are described as the “preparation of the gospel of peace.”
Frankly I do not like the whole idea of “Soul winning classes.” Just my prejudice. But here I am commanded to put on the preparation of the gospel of peace… Get ready to share the gospel. To me, this relates directly to 1 Peter 3:15.

“but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason of the hope in you, with meekness and fear;”

Sometimes it feels like I’m the last person on the planet who reads the King James Bible. Everyone says they can’t understand it. Anyway, when you ask them to tell you about their hope, they almost always quote the KJV. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life. I thought you didn’t understand that? Even Microsoft Word didn’t hiccough at “believeth” in that context.

The whole point is, can you, in simple English, give a personal answer to the question, “What do you believe and why do you believe it?” As I have thought and prayed about this, I do believe that these 2 verses (Ephesians 6:15 and 1 Peter 3:15) tell me that having an answer ready, is important.

Back in 2011 I wrote an article and tried to encourage people to write what they think they might say to someone who would ask them to “Tell me what you believe, and why”. No one replied. I will ask again.

Can you write down what you would say if someone asked you, “What do you believe and why?” I would love to see what some of you might say. If you would like for me to share that on this blog, I would like to do that as well.

Try to keep it under 1000 words. That doesn’t sound hard to most people but some of us like to write.

If you want to keep it just between you and me you can email me at You can also see my answer to the question at the link.

By the way comments are welcome. Thanks

It’s something to think about.