Monday, December 15, 2014

Call of Duty. Dootie!

We get trophies for championships, gifts for birthdays, money for work, grades for class, certificates for achievements, high-fives, hugs, handshakes, applause, cards, prizes, plaques, banners.  We hang them, frame them, case them, bank them.  Some we earn, some are handed out.

Luke 17:7 introduces us to a servant who plows and looks after sheep.  He sounds to be someone that deserves some money or form of payment for his services, but the response of the master is different than what most of us would consider adequate.  In verses 8-9 the master doesn’t offer a sit down dinner.  Instead he asks the servant to prepare his supper and wait on him while he dines.  After this interaction, the servant offers a most humble response in verse 10, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.” 

The first time I read through this, I thought the master could be a little nicer to the servant.  The servant had after all done as he was told to do according to verse 9.  But what about the master that was born in a manger,  the master that successfully resisted temptation for 33 years, the master that healed the sick and raised the dead, the master that endured ridicule from his people, the master that was beaten and whipped, the master that died on Calvary, and the master that defeated death three days later and is preparing a home in heaven for us.  The response given by the servant was the dagger of conviction straight to the heart.  How often do I think I deserve more because of the “good works” I do?  We doing our duty will never earn us a bit of thanks, but because of God’s grace extend freely to us we get to experience riches as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ.  (Ephesians 1:6)

So what is our duty? 
First of all, know him.  (Romans 10:9-10)  God wants a relationship with each and every one of us.  He’s not willing that any should perish.  Willingly accept the gift of salvation he offers.

And now what are we called to do as servants of Jesus?  (2 Corinthians 4:5)
Love.  (John 13:34-35)
Forgive.  (Ephesians 4:32)
Seek him.  (Matthew 6:33)
Make him known.  (John 17:26)
Be witnesses.  (Acts 1:8)
Pray.  (Philippians 4:6)
Give.  (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)
Worship.  (Colossians 3:16-17)
Meditate on his word.  (Joshua 1:9)
Wait.  (Psalm 5:3)
Walk in His ways.  (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)
Fear him.  (Proverbs 1:7)
God gave Moses the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 and summed them up in Matthew 22:37-39 to love God and love others.  And if you don’t know who your neighbor is to love as yourself, the Good Samaritan had it right in Luke 10:25-37.  By no means is this list exclusive of what else we can do. 

I get the privilege each year of reading thousands of camp applications of eager kids wanting to come during the summer.  As you may or may not know, many of these kids are earning their way back to camp by volunteering and being involved in their community.  As John says in 3 John 1:4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”  The kids of Northwest Arkansas are doing some incredible things, so now it’s your turn.
So will we ever complete our duty of love?  Romans 13:8 says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.”  Will we ever earn anything?  No.  We deserve death and receive grace.  So whether you’re at camp, school, a job, with family, with friends, with enemies, buying groceries, at the bank, in a theater, walking, driving or bike riding, fulfill your continuous duty to love God and love others. 


Q:  What do snowmen like to do on the weekend?

A:  Chill out.   Hope you had a great weekend!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Words from Lauren

At camp, this is a season of program planning, potluck lunches, community Christmas dinners and deadlines before Christmas break! Reminds me of finals week, but I’m less jacked up on Mountain Dew, didn’t sleep in a library last night, didn’t lose a 1to10 and have to wear a wolf skin vest to all my tests and there’s no free pancakes (but Jenny Loyd does send some amazing cookies to us on Fridays)!  I’m done with the college life, but I still get that feeling of anticipation thinking about the end of the semester!
            The sermon this Sunday at my church was about the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. The pastor helped us to understand a lot of truth in the passage and I’m still processing through them all this week. There were two points that stuck with me and are challenging and encouraging to me during this scramble stress time before Christmas. You might have read the story before and if you were like me, you might have been confused and spent little time trying to figure out what it says about God and us. The rich man lives in absolute luxury, daily stepping over Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores who begs outside this man’s gate, to go about his day in the town. They both die, Lazarus is “carried by the angels to Abraham’s side” and the rich man is buried and “in Hades, being in torment.” The rich man calls out to Abraham and exclaims his anguish. Abraham explains the situation to him, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.” This hit me hard, the rich man used the gifts from God, money, house, health, relationships to get his “good things” during his life on earth and now he is in Hades. Faith through grace results in salvation, but obviously God also cares about our works and the way we use what He has given us. As followers of Christ, Christmas is an incredible celebration of grace and thanksgiving because God came in the flesh to be love! This Christmas I want to remember the gospel, give thanks to God and repent of materialism. All I “have” is God’s and He blesses us so we can be a blessing. My and your “good things” and good life is not here on earth, it’s in eternity with Jesus; therefore, let’s use the blessings for His glory rather than being enslaved by self-service and greed. This challenge came from God to me out of love, He desires to bring my sin into the Light so I can be like Him; I send it also to you out of love.
So I’ll leave you with two questions that have been sanctifying to me:

1. Do you use the blessings from God to live your good life here or do you      recognize all is God’s and use everything for eternal purposes and for the spreading of the gospel?

2. Who is at your gate? Just as Lazarus begged at the rich man’s gate, who is  God asking you to serve, give to and love? Don’t have a gate or know any poor people? Find them. Jesus came to us, let’s step out of our houses and into our towns.