Friday, November 18, 2011

Parables for Dummies

I get it now. It's effectively taken me 12.5 years, but I get it. Well... at least a part of it... finally.

I've been learning a lot about the Kingdom recently.

And I've been learning a lot about people recently.

Fascinatingly enough, the two go hand in hand.

I was listening to a podcast by Ben Pasley tonight about pastoring and what it should look like, when he just briefly mentioned what is traditionally called the parable of the talents. This is found in Matthew 25:14-30, and there is a very similar yet different parable in Luke 19:11-27 also. He was mentioning this in passing in light of how pastors should be faithful with the people under their care, as this passage is well used in helping us as followers of Christ understand we must be faithful with what we have been given. Then a light bulb went off and I had to stop the podcast because he was moving on, and I was not yet ready.

"The parable is about people!" I exclaimed.

As we pursue the Kingdom of God, we realize it is comprised of people. It is all about people. Jesus was always all about people. The Kingdom is about people. The Lord doesn't want an institution or a building or an organization, or even Heaven itself (that's why He left it, after all: He didn't want it in comparison to being able to have people, and now He will have both Heaven and people because He gave up that which He had to obtain that which He did not). The Lord desires people.

The parable of the talents is about the Kingdom. The very premise Jesus starts it with is "Again, it (the Kingdom) will be like..." and then He tells His story. The parable is about people!

Let's look at some highlights here from the Matthew passage to illuminate the true heart of God...
  • v. 14 "a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them" // The man is Jesus, those who have chosen to follow Him are (obviously) His servants, and His property is... you guessed it: people. Technically speaking, all of Heaven and Earth is now His because of the victory won only in His life and death and life. Yes: the mountains bow down and the seas roar at His name. All of creation sings His praise. But the rocks cry out where there is a lack of His people crying out. He has everything, but cares only for people!
  • v. 15 "he gave... each according to his ability" // We are entrusted with the measure of people to which we are able to be found faithful with. Yes, it says money. But this is a parable! Jesus is saying something bigger here than meets the eye! That bigger thing... is people!
  • v. 16 The man who had been given five talents "put his money (his people!) to work and gained five more" // This directly models the great commission! If we are charged with going and replicating other disciples of Christ, that models exactly what a financial investment is! Imagine this luxury: having a $20 bill, and then telling that $20 bill to go make more of itself. This is exactly what Jesus has done! We as people are the reward of His sacrifice! We are His prize! We are His treasure! He bought us at the price of His life! We as people are His property! Jesus is talking about being faithful with people here! Jesus was always about people! He never cared about things! Let's face it: He never really cared about money! If Jesus did care about money, He probably wouldn't have put Judas Iscariot in charge of it!
  • v. 18 "the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money" // This servant was not faithful with the people he had been entrusted with! How often do we as followers of Christ try to hide what was meant to not be hidden? By this I mean our lives, our stories, our homes, our food, our fellowship, and the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ itself (and more)?

Go on now and finish reading the parable for yourself, all with the perspective that it is about people. Watch then as the Spirit of God turns your life upside down and inside out, and then urges you to be faithful to invest in the people around you, so that they in turn will make investments into the people around them, and so on and so forth, until the ends of the Earth!

The Lord's delight is in people, and His happiness with us is found in the faithful care of people.

It is no coincidence at all that the parable of the Kingdom immediately following this is about the sheep and the goats. One of which was faithful with people. The other was not faithful with people.

The parable of the talents has nothing to do with talents at all. Can it be applied over to being faithful in all things, such as money and property? Sure. But in the end, the Lord doesn't care about these things. People are made for eternity; money, property, and others alike to these are not made for eternity. This really makes me want to go back through all of the gospels and reread each and every single one of Jesus' parables with this new found understanding.

He who has eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand, listen: The Kingdom of God is about people.


So I dare to ask it: are you faithful with the people in your life right now?

Do you dare to answer it?

Do you dare to do something about this?

How willing are you to pursue and advance the Kingdom of God?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


"It's such a funny word: obey." ~Bill Cosby

When I think about how I want to be remembered, I want to be remembered as a man who loved greatly, worshiped passionately in everything he did, and as a man who obeyed his Lord. I'm sure people will remember me for my laugh, too. I don't really have much control over that, seeing as how I just laugh well and often. When it comes to love and worship, I will probably post some other time about those things. I really want to talk about obeying with you.

A dear friend and I got into a bit of a discussion recently on obeying. I was teaching the youth ministry I serve that God may call you to do things that don't make sense, and that obedience is always the best answer. My friend and I were chatting later about the lesson, and he admitted he disagreed with me that we may receive a call that goes against logic, comfort, public opinion, and/or common sense.

My friend confesses that he also is a believer, which perplexes me. If he claims to be a believer, how can he then make a claim of belief which contradicts the stories of the Bible? We can't really claim to be believers if we don't really believe the Lord, or His Word. And as I read the stories of Abraham, David, Peter, Jonah, and so many others, not to mention Jesus Himself, they all did things that people around them would have called crazy or worse.

They did these things because they realized that God's call and leading was clear for their life, and the best option for them to follow. They did these insane things because they had faith, hope, and love. They had faith that the Lord would prove Himself faithful, no matter the circumstances or difficulties. They had hope in the good future that God had promised them, even if they couldn't see the promises on the horizon. They had love for the God who first loved them that committed to amazing and unbelievable promises for them. These simple things led them to obey and do crazy and awesome things for the Lord God.

Now, everyone of these guys with the exception of Jesus had times where they failed to believe and obey. I can clearly see that all these people had to fall into God's faithfulness at least once, if not many times in their lives. But they each at least had one defining moment where they stood against everything that made sense except for the voice of the Lord.

Even when we look at Acts 5:17-42, we see the early church meeting opposition, and counting it joy to face imprisonment and flogging for the sake of obeying the Lord. Verse 29 really puts definite words to it when the apostles say "We must obey God rather than any human authority."

I'm not saying this to excuse ourselves from submitting to our worldly authority. I am saying this to show that obedience does not always make sense. But obeying is always better than not. To quote a local pastor out here: "Obedience is rarely easy. But it is always fulfilling."

I hope you are encouraged to obey the Lord in every area of your life from these simple words. If you have thoughts or stories on obedience, please share them.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Girl from Ipanema

I want to discuss waiting rooms.

That is why I named this blog as it is. Whenever I am in a room designated for waiting I always get the song "The Girl from Ipanema" in my head. Maybe The Blues Brothers is to thank for that. But then again, they weren't the only ones to stereotype that song for the "Music to Wait to" category of iTunes. Okay... so there's not that actual music category to shop through. It might not be a bad idea, though. If only I could get a version of this song by Kenny G... that would be the ultimate "Music to Wait to" piece ever! Oh wait... here it is...

I know many people, myself included, who are currently in a waiting room of some kind. Some are waiting for a brand new baby. Some are waiting for a brand new spouse (not that the one they have is bad... they just don't have one yet, and have their eyes set on a *particular* one). Some are waiting for a job. Some are waiting for a test result from a doctor. Some are waiting for a loved one to return to them from a long absence. Some of them are waiting for somebody to do something they said they were going to do. Some of them are waiting for somebody else to do something that they should do, but just don't want to for whatever reason. Some are waiting on a new and fresh touch from the Living God. Some are waiting for the Lord's will to be revealed to them regarding a certain matter or option(s) for the future.

As I discuss this matter with many of the people I know, I have discovered that many of them find this place of waiting uncomfortable at best. As a matter of fact, most of them find it worse than uncomfortable. For most people I have found over the years that having to wait causes a severe amount of angst for some reason. That one where you're waiting for the doctor is pretty nerve racking for me. But even more so than that, I find the one where you are waiting for another person most agonizing.

So why does this particular one torment me so? Because it is entirely dependent on some other flawed human being to make a choice and do something.

In recent years I have not had a good history of people meeting my expectations or desires. I can't remember ever experiencing a lot of that form of satisfaction, come to think of it. But that is quite the picture of human relationships. Jesus would not have made such a big deal about us loving each other if it was just going to come naturally and without effort. But beyond this natural flaw within relationships found commonplace due to the inherent evil of mankind, when I look back I see a history of people who have had great opportunities before them and they chose to refuse them. That choice is beyond my understanding...

The Lord provides an opportunity to heal the heart of a wounded man... the man chooses to turn away.

There is a chance for a family to grow closer to Jesus together... one family member believes that it's not going to be worth it.

A grandparent has a chance to spend time with their grandchildren whom they have never met... and they opt out because they'd just rather not have to put the effort forward.

These are the things that drive me crazy... being stuck waiting for people to make decisions that will actually be beneficial instead of harmful.

Joshua from the Bible had this same problem. Thankfully he was able to do something about it. In Joshua 18:3 he actually voices this concern: "How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given to you?" At this point, they have the land. It is theirs. They just have not done anything about going and getting it. If you won $5,000,000 in the lottery, wouldn't you go claim your prize as soon as you could in order to enjoy it immediately? If the Lord was offering you freedom and healing in your life in a certain area or areas, wouldn't you go claim your prize as soon as you could in order to enjoy it immediately? If you have an opportunity to have and experience more of the Lord in your life, wouldn't you take it?

So why do we wait?

I know why the Lord waits sometimes. We, being but dust, are not yet ready sometimes for what He has for us. If I understood the full ramifications right now of my poor decisions and actions I would want to do nothing but die, most likely. Sometimes the soil of our hearts or lives needs to be tilled in order for the seed of something great to be planted. Other times the Lord is waiting on us before He can move. So we are waiting on the Lord, Who is waiting on somebody else. That is a fascinating dynamic. And often times frustrating for me.

So again... Why does having to wait on a human frustrate me so? Unlike with the Lord, there is no guarantee that they will make the decision to allow me out of the waiting room.

There will come a day when I will no longer have to wait on the Lord. And oh... do I look forward to that day. Every day I look around me to see the goodness of God, and I can find Him all around me. Some days are harder, but I still find Him somehow... even if I have to remind myself that every breath is a gift from Him directly.

But as for human induced waiting rooms, I may be left waiting for as long as it is within my power to wait. That thought just stirs up all kinds of dread within me.

Ultimately I realize that letting go of these worries is my answer in overcoming this uneasiness. It's not my responsibility to spend my time worrying about whether or not I will remain captive in these waiting rooms. In the end, it really won't matter.

But what if...

That man decides to allow the Lord to heal him, and that the risk of having relationships is worth the pain he may experience along the way...

That family member decides it will be worth it to lay their life down in order for the family to draw nearer to each other and nearer to Jesus...

That grandparent realized what they were missing out on and put forth the effort to be with and meet their new loved ones...

How much better would this waiting room be that we are all in as we wait for the Lord to return, if we could all tear down the barriers that we have been building up between each other and enjoy our time together as sons and daughters of God?


Saturday, July 2, 2011

I'm okay with crazy.

First off, I'm choosing trebuchet as my font simply because I have always wanted to own one.

Now on to the meaty goodness...

If you spend any amount of time with me you will notice that I am... uh... different. I don't do things that an average person would do. I do things an average person would not do. This goes for things I say also. I have never been one to mold to any form of expectation, or personality description, or any other kind of mold... not even the kind that makes penicillin... after all, I'm allergic to that kind of mold.

See! There I go!

Now in a church setting, not fitting "the mold" (or whatever you want to call it) is frequently looked down upon. That's why most often I will just sit and try to be still in most church settings.

For years I have fallen into the understanding that if I am to fully be me that I will be a distraction to the setting around me and keep people from drawing nearer to the Lord.

I have come to believe over the weekend at worship@8500 that this is a lie.

It's not the things that I do or do not do that bless or encourage or aid in building up the Body of Christ. These things that I have to give are not the gift I have to give. I am the gift.

The Lord made me to be the man that I am... crazy and all.

As Jack Taylor encouraged all of us there: I need to stop trying to be anybody else but me, because everybody else is already taken.

I may be the black sheep, but this black sheep is going to help other black sheep understand that it's okay to be who the Lord made them to be. He longs for all of us to be a part of His Family... whether we are white sheep, black sheep, chartreuse sheep, plaid sheep, or even paisley sheep. He made each and every single one of us unique for a purpose. This is one black sheep who is going to stop trying to paint his wool. Well, now that I consider it... I'm probably more of a wacky design than those. If a sheep could have its wool designed like a Pac-Man board, that would be me.

Point is: I'm tired of holding the reigns back on who I am, as I was designed by my Father in Heaven. In addition to that, I am tired of holding back the reigns on the Holy Spirit.

I'm letting loose the crazy.

I'm not talking about wearing a Hawaiian shirt over plaid shorts kind of crazy...

I'm just going to be me.
I'm done striving.
I'm done doing.
I'm just going to be. Period.

The traditions, so-called "logic," and expectations of men are no longer going to get in the way of me being a son of my Father in Heaven, a co-heir with Christ, one who is dearly loved by the most amazing Lover of all time, and of me saying "yes" to the Holy Spirit.

I'm always wanting to get excited about things that are worth getting excited about, but I usually don't because nobody else is excited about it.

I'm always wanting to interact with somebody who is giving a good word because it is a good word. If it's a good word, then shouldn't we let them know it? If a musician plays a good piece of music, don't we let them know it? When was the last time we applauded our pastor at the end of a great Sunday service like we would somebody who just sang The National Anthem really well?

I am a son of the Creator of the universe, as He has adopted and grafted me into His family according to His good pleasure and desire. My Daddy loves me. He made me who I am for a reason and a purpose. If you are standing next to me and I make you uncomfortable, maybe that's just because your butt has been doing unnecessary calisthenics for so long that you have forgotten what it is like to be relaxed. Or maybe your spirit has been doing unnecessary calisthenics for so long that you have forgotten, or worse yet never known, what it is to be free of the chains and bondage of aiming for a tradition or expectation of men instead of being a just being a son of your Heavenly Father. I'm sure I make both kinds of people uncomfortable. My goal in life is not to keep you in your comfort zone. God's plan for you is not to keep you in your comfort zone. This is obviously the case, or He would not have put me in your life.

I don't care if you "get me" or not. I do want you to "get" my Lord. If He can love me and make me a part of His family, as crazy as I am, He can do the same for you. As a matter of fact, He wants to do the same for you.

God's goal isn't to have a bunch of militant enlistees.
His goal isn't to have a bunch of slaves and servants or employees.

God wants a family.

And He wants you to be a part of it.

If there's one thing I know about family, being a family man and having one myself, is that every member of a family is crazy in some way.

So come be crazy with me, in our Father's family.

It'll be good.

He promises.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

goodbye xanga...

I'm jumping on the band wagon. Here is a blog by me. I have too much to say for a simple status update sometimes.

Here's a couple of brief notes...

My blog title refers to the notion that I need to stop trying to make things better by subtracting the nonbeneficial. Adding more of the Kingdom of God to my life, the lives around me, and everything else I run into can make those things better.

This is kind of a test entry to make sure everything works as it's supposed to work. I'll throw down a real post soon.

I'll look forward to catching feedback over the course of this blog. Yes... That means *you* out there! Let's enjoy this ride together.