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Monday, October 5, 2009

The Bankers of Heaven

“Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.”

Matthew 25:27

We all should know the story by now. Christ’s famous parable about the 3 servants and the great big wad of cash their master had entrusted them with while he went on a long journey. To one he gave five “talents” (one talent is equal to about a thousand dollars), to another two talents and to the third one talent.

He wasn’t showing favouritism either. This Master of the house knew his servants individual capabilities and so entrusted them with exactly what he knew they could manage.

Then he went on his trip.

Each servant goes out and does something with their master’s cash.

The first with the most invests it wisely and turns it into a whopping $10,000, while the second goes and doubles his share….

But the third…

This guy is of the “afraid of nothing” variety and out of fear and laziness goes and takes his measly $1000 and buries it in the ground.

The story goes that the Master returns and settles accounts with his servants.

The guy with the five grand brings the other five and the Master utters those famous words that every true Christian longs in his heart to hear – “Well done good and faithful servant, you have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things…”

The second gets the same reward and is ushered into greater responsibility by his Master’s happy promotion…

But the third…

He comes along and says in a nutshell – I did nothing with your money, here have it back…

Or to be exact – “Master” (what nerve to still call his Master “Master” when he hasn’t even done his job?) he said, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

Needless to say his Master was not happy. He accuses (and rightly so) the servant of being wicked and lazy but then he says the most interesting thing – “Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.”

This verse had never really done much to attract my attention until it jumped out at me today. Who are the bankers?

It is obvious that the Master is the Lord and we are his servants and when people tell this parable they like to talk about our “talents” being the skills that God has given each and every one of us to do great deeds for The Kingdom… but does anyone ever mention this obscure little group of people called “The Bankers?”

I’ll get to that in a minute but first I want to address the usual interpretation of the word “talents” as meaning skills. Now I think this is OK but is not the whole story. If you want to teach a devotional or a sermon or even apply this scripture to yourself as the talents being your abilities and personal cleverness then fine, but the danger is that people forget that a talent is quite frankly $1000 worth of cash. (No alarm bells yet please.) Secondly there is the risk of the ordinary folk who aren’t great guitarists and have vocal chords like a strangled otter, who want to vomit when made to speak in public or can’t cook for a Connect Group without the fear of food poisoning everyone… these people might be tricked into thinking “I have no “talents” – what could I possibly contribute to The Kingdom?”

There are a lot of people in the Church who call themselves Pew Sitters who can’t stand the idea of hosting a Bible study because their carpet is cruddy or work unusual hours and simply don’t have the time to “contribute” to the workings of the local church… such people might be tempted to think the parable applies to someone else.

But if you’re his servant then it well and truly applies to you.

It is becoming clearer and clearer to me as I grow in the faith that the Kingdom is what should be occupying our thoughts on a close to constant basis. Everywhere Jesus went the first thing he said was usually “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” This might be a controversial thing to say but the Kingdom is not to be mistaken for The Church, and please don’t lynch me. Jesus gave us the Keys to the Kingdom and the Church is the door, but on the other in eternity there won’t be a Church so to speak, there will just be the saved in the actualised Kingdom of Heaven for all eternity.

And eternity is a long time. Eternity without God is so horrible I don’t want to think of clever little allegories to show you just what a horrible thing it is. We were created to know God and the afterlife without him is an eternity of never living up to your intended purpose, never having the one relationship that could have quelled your loneliness and never fulfilling your complete potential. I think Hell would be like living on this earth in its current fallen state forever and ever and ever and never being able to break though to God while all around you is sadness and hate and fear. And that sucks.

So the Good News about the Kingdom is everything we should be focusing our talents and resources and dare I say a good portion of our money to.

So I come to this little group called The Bankers. The Servants who are spending their time witnessing, preaching, feeding the hungry, bringing medical aide to third worlders, entertaining strangers in their own homes, Pastoring churches full of people who need counselling, discipling, and their Pastors full attention which often comes at great expense to himself and sadly sometimes his family. These people are The Bankers.

Actual worldly Bankers are the ones who take your money and know how to invest it so that as you save your money earns interest that compounds so you can get that car quicker or that deposit for your first home.

Spiritual bankers are the ones who know where the harvest is, they seek lost souls and save them from the hungry jaws of Hell! They take your contribution and invest it so that you earn compound interest in Heaven – “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal”

Don’t write me off yet.

I have to confess that the idea of witnessing to someone I’ve never met freaks me out. I’m quite comfortable writing my little blogs or preaching (hiding behind) a pulpit but get me in a one on one situation and I usually wait until the other guy, usually a work colleague, says “So you’re a Christian huh?” And I strap on my seat belt and hold on for my life while I blunder through what I believe and walk away slapping my forehead while repenting for saying this or that thing when I should have said another thing. You don’t win souls that way. So I have a choice I could blunder through my life never winning a single person for Jesus and thus giving him the reward and expectation of eternal life or I could support the guy (the banker) who is good at evangelising and see just a fraction of my money going towards something of eternal significance, something that will shine forever and not a boat that could sink or a house that my kids will fight over when I die…

Now there are guys out there who are crooks, they will take your money gladly and spend it on themselves and this is where you need discernment. However it should not be your excuse for not contributing to the cause of The Kingdom. If these guys are thieves, wolves in sheep’s clothing, then it is your responsibility to find the chap who is a shepherd and support him for the long days and cold nights he spends protecting the Lord’s sheep. Your responsibility!

This is why I support my church and why I think you should support yours. The leaders should be dedicated to saving the lost and discipling the flock. If they aren’t, then go to a different church! But remember, your Pastor, the Christian organisations who feed the hungry in some country you’ve never heard of, the Salvation army, whatever or whoever they are, if they are committed to saving souls and equipping Christians with the Word then these people are those Bankers and if you aren’t investing the resources that God has given you into building the Kingdom then you are digging a hole in the ground when you could have been earning that interest in Heaven by entrusting it with the bankers who did know what to do with it.

“Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.”

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cheeky Little Monkey

The title of this article has nothing to do with what I have to say but was inspired by my wife who is standing there trying to rock my 4 month old to sleep - its not working.

Of course I am being the ever helpful Husband and am sitting here typing away to my hearts content!

I just wanted to touch base with my readership and apologise for my sudden disappearance from the bloggerverse. I wasn't raptured (although I wish I was) but rather my attention was diverted to something a little less creative - a video game. (which is retro slang for computer game) I'm sure to write a review about it sooner or later.

I figured after 3 months of sleepless nights with a new and very loud baby I deserved to spend my tax return on something that allowed me to run around a simulated world and throw whirlwinds and lightning bolts at computer animated maniacs. Probably not the best way to spend my time but at least its mostly out of my system. Needless to say I've been feeling very guilty at the lack of productivity.

Anyway, I did get a chance to think about this site and what I would like it to achieve...

So allow me to share with you my little personal and inspired vision about where I think God is leading me...

If you know me personally you will be aware of the news that I was accepted into Elim Ministry Training College next year! This is very exciting but simultaneously very frightening... but only because its taking a big step of faith into the unknown as my wife and I prepare to relocate from West Auckland to the Eastern Suburbs so I can study at the college in Botany while she returns to work part time.

I will also be doing an internship at my Church, c3 Howick, as part of my course, in which I will learn all the stuff there is to know about how to Do church.

Why? Because I feel called to be a Pastor and that is exactly where I am heading.

Occasionally I get asked to preach at my church and I will advertise when and where I will be speaking on the right hand column of this page. If you are in town I would love for you to come and have a listen! If you're in town and I'm not speaking then why not come and check out my awesome church anyway. That's awesome with a capital "O" by the way! We have some great lively and loud worship going on and some great Bible teachers, but the thing I love about c3 Howick is its wonderful family atmosphere. That's not to say that it has lots of kids running around (which it does) but when I say family what I mean is from the day Sarah and I walked in the door we felt like we were with family. Not the family you "love to hate and are only nice to at Christmas time" type of family but the "lets go out and have a picnic and chuck a ball around" type of family. That's what church is all about! But like I said, if you feel like coming to a great church then the doors are open wide...

Oh yeah I should probably tell you where that is - Aviemore Drive, Howick, next to Denny's... there's a great big sign that says Doctor on the front of the building - you can't miss it. I'm there every Sunday (practically) and I would love to meet you!

My call to ministry started when I was 15 and I was sitting in the auditorium during a rehearsal for some Shakespearean play and it dawned on me that if I could successfully memorize Shakespeare and be this excited about it then why couldn't I do the same with the Bible? It occurred to me then that members of other religions are more zealous about their scriptures, that are based on worldly wisdom, than we Christians are about the real Word of God! And here we are with the Holy Spirit to actually help us do it! So the challenge was on... I started memorizing the book of Romans. I didn't make it very far because I decided to switch to the book of Matthew instead... then after a while I switched to Genesis... I was a typical teenager after all. But the seed was sown and I felt more and more convicted that memorizing the scripture was of vital importance to a Christians growth and usefulness in ministry.

Just to be clear I have not memorized even a fraction of the Bible yet and to my dismay I have failed miserably by backsliding for nearly 10 years and in more recent times by forgetting large chunks I thought I already knew... but in keeping with my conviction I keep pushing and it is my deepest desire to one day memorize the entire thing.

One of these days I will write a sermon about it.

So I believe God's revealed will for me in the present is to keep studying and to keep seeking him in prayer and of course to give Bible College my best shot next year.

As far as this site goes I will try to write regular articles about anything I can think of. You might have noticed that I removed some of my secular articles recently but mostly because I want this site to be a sort of meeting place where my friends, family and prayer partners can catch up and see what I am up to.

So this is the bit where I ask without apology that you show your support by remembering me in your prayers. For our fight is not against flesh and blood and your prayers are imperative. I believe that in Heaven I will look back and see the massive amount of devastation our prayers have done to the Devil's domain while simultaneously becoming aware of the enormous impact they have had on the saved who by God's grace have made it into the everlasting kingdom!

I will try to write regular prayer requests but here are some that are pressing at the moment:

1. That my wife and I find the right living situation for next year
2. That we are able to support ourselves financially while I study
3. That I don't let myself get distracted by computer games while I am studying.

I am also setting up a sponsorship Button - strictly for anyone who feels led to show ffinancial support while I step out into the life of ministry and the road to becoming a Pastor.

So that's all for now.

Don't forget that I am on facebook and you can add me for regular updates!

If you have any questions I would love to tackle them so feel free to gmail me at kerinthians@gmail.com

The God Who is There

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…”

Genesis 1:1

Let’s not beat around the bush about it – In the beginning God created two things; the heavens and the earth. Put them together and you have a whole lot of everything and that’s a great deal!

I love the way the Bible opens with this basic and yet profoundly loaded statement that slaps anyone in the face who would say otherwise. It does not begin with an opinion: “in the beginning it is the view of the writer that God created the heavens and the earth.” Or “Herein lies the theory of creation.” Nor does it start with an apology – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth which can be seen by this bone that carries the DNA of a dinosaur and this photograph of Adam planting the first acorn.” Not that I have a problem with Christian Apologetics, on the contrary, I think creation researchers are among a special breed of genius with a very important ministry, but that’s not what I’m talking about here…

The Bible never actually makes an argument for the existence of God or the fact that he created everything and this is crucial because of two mind blowing and uncomfortable truths – the first being that his existence is obvious and the second truth that every one knows on some level that he does exist.

I know people claim to be atheists or agnostics or whatever but if they were honest I’m sure on the odd occasion they have asked God for a parking space or cried out “God!” in a moment of panic.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

If you’re still not convinced I wonder if there has ever been a culture on this planet that didn’t have some kind of god or gods attached to it. We all know the story of Noah and the Ark but did you also know that there are something like 500 recorded flood myths found all around the world, most with striking similarities to the account found in the Bible? Upon such a discovery it would be easy to jump to the conclusion that there must have been an event in the past that led to most ancient cultures sharing the same "legend" – in other words, there really was a flood! Is it possible then that if every culture has a “god concept” then that “concept” could be rooted in the fact that there really is a God?

But back to the present day I can honestly say that there has never been a time that I was not aware of the presence of The God who is there. Even when I walked away from Christianity 10 years ago (I’m well and truly back now) I always knew that God was there. He is like the other person in the room who I don’t have to look at to know he is present. It is my firm conviction that everyone on some level has this “God sense” – we were created with it.

Now the Heavens and the Earth aren’t just two things. They are a symphony of stars and planets dancing together in an intricate play of gravity at an astounding velocity as the galaxies spin in a myriad of other tumbling galaxies in a space so vast that I haven’t got time to type out the number. Just look at these incredible Hubble scope pictures to see how mind boggling this finite infinity we call the “Heavens” really is.

Then we have the earth, this tiny blue and green speck in the middle of it all. The only planet in exactly the right spot, the porridge that isn’t too cold and isn’t too hot, sling-shotting around just the right sun at just the right distance with just the right moon providing us with tides and seasons and a biodiversity intricately woven together by the loving hand of a truly great Creator who didn’t do it all for no reason…

A God so grand and characteristically ingenious that all the brains in the world wired together couldn’t conceptualise the wonder of such a God. A God so great to create the Heavens and the Earth is not the white bearded man in the clouds, he isn’t the great red Santa in the sky – we are talking about someone capable of creating trillions of stars and who states in his Word that he knows each one by name while still being able to pin point exactly where you are at any given moment while knowing your thoughts and emotions simultaneously with 6 billion other individuals on a planet wide scale! A God who knows the words of every book ever written and ever will be written, the words and tunes to every song along with the number of every atom on every finger nail and every piece of dead skin that flaked to the ground and every grain of dust you flicked up as you walked down the foot path and every blob of bacteria that lived in every crack in the pavement and every particle you breathed in and out and every spider floating on the breeze with every dead leaf and where it landed and where the wind that blew it went and every possible combination of everything that could have happened while knowing the difference between every possible outcome and every actual event. A God who says that even the very hairs of your head are all numbered (Matthew 10:30)…

A God who loved you so much that he gave his only Son (John 3:16)

Such a God did not create such a wonder as the Heavens and the Earth just to leave it for his next favourite toy as Professor Hawkings once suggested (though the toy was my idea). In fact “by him (Christ) all things hold together – Colossians 1: 17

Its all for a reason and designed for a purpose. In all things God works for the good of those who love him. Romans 8:28

You can choose to live in denial and believe its all just random happenstance but I’m going with the Book that grabs the origins bull by the horns in its very first verse:

In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth!