July 22, 2011

Instructions for Wayfarers

Here is a great thought by Alexandros Evangelou Xenopouloudakis entitled Instructions for Wayfarers.
They will declare: Every journey has been taken.
You shall respond: I have not been to see myself.

They will insist: Everything has been spoken.
You shall reply: I have not had my say.

They will tell you: Everything has been done.
You shall reply: My way is not complete.

You are warned: Any way is long, any way is hard.
Fear not, You are the gate – you, the gatekeeper.
And you shall go through and on…
Thanks Keith.

July 21, 2011

The Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5:17-20

Laws and rules are an important part of our life. Without rules or laws...our world would be a place of anarchy and confusion. Imagine trying to play a simple game like badminton without rules...oh, wait. I did that a few weeks ago at Tom’s House!

We were there for Zach’s graduation party, and an intense game of badminton started between the adults and the kids. It started with me and another guy against 4 kids...not small kids. We weren’t picking on anyone. Some were teens.

We soon learned that while there were strict rules for us there seemed to be no rules for the them. For instance...if one of the kids was unable to hit the birdie when it came close to them...it was considered out of bounds. We also learned that as long as the birdie was on our side of the net...it could land anywhere and still be in bounds...like in the neighbor’s yard, across the fence.

The rules always seemed to change to benefit them. There was no winning.
Aristotle said “At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.”
We need laws. We need rules. They helps us know the boundaries. Without rules games are really no fun...because everything is allowed.

But rules also need interpretation. Yes, the rules say “No running at the pool.” But does that mean we can’t speed walk? What if one person is only walking and the other, much shorter person, is just trying to keep up?

Or does the speed limit really mean 55 miles per hour? Or, do we get about a 4 mile an hour leeway which means closer to sixty? The real question is at what speed is the officer going to give us the ticket?

July 11, 2011

Willful Arrogance Pastor Edition

If this is plagiarism...I apologize now. This is an adaptation of Seth Godin's article The Arrogance of Willful Ignorance. It is meant as flattery because he said it best for his audience, and now I want to pay homage by passing it on for mine...
People have come before us, failed, learned, written it down. Theologians have figured out what works, and proven it. Those in pastoral ministry have gained significant understanding about the long-term impacts of short-term decisions. And Christian Historians have seen it all before.

How dare we, then, decide to just wing it? To skip class. To make up history. To imagine that scholars and commentators just share a matter of opinion, something optional, a diversion for the leisure classes... How can we work in the theological and pastoral field, for example, without knowing about John Wesley and John Calvin and Augustine? Or Willard and Wright and Lewis, Foster, or Nouwen?

If you're doing important pastoral work (and I'm hoping you are), then you owe it to your congregation or your listeners or your co-workers to learn everything you can. Feel free to ignore what you learn, but at least learn it.
 When people say it better than could...pay them homage and adapt it! Thanks Seth!

July 4, 2011

Parable of the Talents

Matthew 25:14-30 is a very popular parable in the church; it is the Parable of the Talents. Jesus tells a story about a master who goes away and puts three of his trusted servants in charge of his household. He gives them each a certain amount of money dependent upon their abilities.

To the first man he gives 5 talents. The man goes out invests them well, and gains 5 more. The second man is given two talents. He too invests the money and doubles what the master had given him. When the master returned, both of these men were rewarded. The master says, "Well done! I put you in charge of a little amount and you have doubled it. I will put you in charge of much more."

The third man feared what the master would do should he lose the one talent. He went into a field and buried it; keeping it safe. When the master returned he chastised this servant for not even trying. This servant was just making sure the master received back what he had been given.

I have always understood this to mean that God has given me talents, abilities, opportunities, etc. and if I'm faithful and use what he has given me, he will give me more. This is only partially correct.

I have always understood this in a here and now sort of way. If I'm faithful in the small stuff...He will give me more. But thinking about this again tonight, I realize that the "more" doesn't necessarily come in this life or the here-and-now.

God's promises are for the future reigning Kingdom.

If we are faithful with what He gives us...if we extend what little we have in this life...we will be given more responsibilities in the coming Kingdom of God. We are developing the character and conscience we will need for our future responsibilities.

I am not meant to compete with those who have more resources than I have...I am called to be faithful with what I have been given and risk it to extend. If we don't handle well what we have in this life, how can we handle what He wants to give us in the age to come?

Begin building the character you want God to use in the future. Handle well what you are given here so God will trust you with responsibilities in His Kingdom.