Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Shrewd Manager - Chapter 2

Well, yesterday we tried to sort through some of the possible interpretations of the parable of the Shrewd Manager, which can be read here. Today, I'd like to focus on verses 8:

8"The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.

This begs the question: was Jesus advocating dishonesty? He says that the master commended the dishonest manager. Is this parable, like others, drawing a parallel between the manager and God?

I don't think so, and here are some reasons:
1. God is holy and cannot operate outside His holiness. (easy, stock answer)
2. The second part of verse 8 shows the reason told the parable. It was clearly not to draw a parallel, but a comparison. I believe He is saying that we need to be faithful (shrewd?) in our management. He illustrates that in some ways, the world is more faithful in their affairs than the church is in the affairs of the Kingdom.

Tomorrow, we will deal with the equally difficult verse 9. Any comments?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Shrewd Manager - Chapter 1

Well, we were talking about this parable of the Shrewd Manager on Sunday... if you missed it, you can listen and check out the message notes here. The parable is found in Luke 16:1-15, which you can read here.

Now this is a tough parable and I want to work out some of the details in an online discussion this feel free to jump on in to the conversation. Today, I want to offer three possible explanations for the "shrewd" managers actions. The problem with this is it seems that Jesus is holding this man up as an example. We'll decide that at another time. First, let's delve into why this manager may have done what he did...

Possible explanation #1: The manager cheated his boss! He knew he was going to lose his job so he figured he could end his last day at work by making friends with his debtors. He chose to reduce their bill so that they would be happy with him. The problem with this theory is that he reduced the debts, but did not forgive them. If he was really trying to win friends, he could have simply erased the debt.

Possible explanation #2: The manager reduced the payback amount to equal the actual value without interest. In other words, he may have been only charging the debtors the amount they actually borrowed, the principal. Asking his clients to pay back only the principal wasn't really cheating his boss and was helping him to gain favor with his debtors...a sort of win-win proposition.

Possible explanation #3: The manager was foregoing his "cut" of the deal. In other words, he may have been paid whatever amount he tacked on to the original debt. So the 400 gallons of olive oil was what the debtor actually owed the boss. But the manager was charging an extra 400 gallons for himself as payment for services rendered. If he didn't accept any payment, his boss's debts would be satisfied and the debtor would be off the hook for his share of the interest and would be pleased.

OK, there are the three possible explanations we came up with. What do YOU think? Let us know!!!!

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Well, another Saturday, another new members class at Cornerstone. We are blessed with 13 people who will be joining here in a few weeks, most by profession of faith. This is an exciting time or growth in the Kingdom. We are trying our best to play our small part to turn this world upside down for Jesus. Our expansion plans are almost final, and we're hoping to sign the contract on Tuesday (God willing!!!) . We are evaluating our Stepping Stones Discipling Ministry and gearing up for a great fall kick off again. We have had many people involved in the classes thus far and it just keeps getting better. God seems to be blessing us with kids and young families right and left, and for that we're excited about what that means in the future of our ministry. Personally, I have the best wife in the world. I love to spend time with her and our relationship seems to keep getting better. In short, God is so good! I'm excited to share in His goodness today!

Where are you feeling particularly blessed?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

YUCK! I stepped in gum...

Yesterday as I spent the day just walking and talking with the Lord, I was so blessed. I hope He was too. I went to the local parks and just spent time talking with Him about my faithfulness today and about the pressures I am feeling. You know as Cornerstone grows and matures, it is a time of great excitement. It is also a time of feeling the heat. There are great expectations upon us at every turn. Many of those are self-imposed, but they are all very real! So I was really trying to talk with God about how to balance it all. He has some neat things to share with me, some of which I'll share here over the next few days.

But as I was walking along, I was paying no real attention to where I was going. Then I felt it. That icky feeling of knowing that you stepped in "something." I stopped and looked as my heart sank...yes, it was gum. Disgusting. My first thought was to blame the careless litterbug who had disposed of it on the path. But then I sensed God reminding me that I some responsibility in it too. I failed to see where I was going. I was too distracted by things around me to notice what was right before me. And so I walked along in that classic "I'm trying to wipe gum from the bottom of my Birkenstocks" gait...a feat that never works.

The rest of my journey, I had this annoying thought of the gum on the bottom of my shoe. Something so stupid and so small could cripple my ability for a silly. And then the Lord reminded me of a favorite verse:

1 John 1:9 "If we confess our gum, He is faithful and just to forgive our gum and to cleanse us from all our gummyness." (MOWV) (My Own Words Version!)

Jesus, thank you. Take the stupid gum from my shoe...and help me to watch where I'm walking today.... Thanks!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening...

It is a beautiful day, and I am dispensing with all the urgent today to focus on the important. I'm going to the park with my Bible and notebook to spend some time listening to God. Pray with me....

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Seek, and you will find...

Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:7-8 that we are to be asking, seeking, and knocking. As we who are Cornerstone have been studying this week, what Jesus spent His time seeking for was the lost. It is humbling to realize that He expects that I will expend much of my prayer energy today for the lost. Wow...that could fundamentally change my prayer life. The lists of wants and needs may have to be replaced with lists of people whom I love and whom I don't who need Him more than me today...

Lord, may I seek and find today....not for myself or my sake, but for the Your sake for the sake of those who don't know You...yet!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Jesus' mission statement

Cornerstone has been studying the parables and this week we looked at the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin from Luke 15:1-10. Today's devotion is from Luke 19:10 in which Jesus says "the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (NIV) That sounds like a personal mission statement. He was sharing with the world why He came and what He was planning to do.

What is your mission statement? What is it that God is calling you to? I don't mean with your family or career or bluegrass guitar :) ! I mean the reason God has you here. Weigh in and share...

Saturday, May 20, 2006

What She Said!

My commentary on the DaVinci Code


And no, not the TV show....

Click here to read about the real lost...

It seems from this passage that Jesus is getting in trouble for hanging around with the wrong crowd again. He is having to answer for why He was mingling with the "lost" instead of being with the "found." And His answer is hard...even an affront. He basically says that He would rather spend time with pagans than believers. Not because He doesn't like believers, but because the pagans need Him more. Ouch to all believers.....

I'm preaching on this text in Cornerstone's worship service tomorrow. Pray that we might discover to what God is calling us...

Thursday, May 18, 2006


"Where there is no vision, the people perish." This is one possible translation of Proverbs 29:18. I'm not sure if it is a legitimate translation or not, but it sure makes sense. I have been mulling this over for some time. How easy it is, especially in leadership, to be drawn off the task of seeking after the Lord and where He is taking us. How easy it is to be sucked into the maintenance of the day or the "tyranny of the urgent." How hard to find the time to ask, and answer, "what will this ministry look like in 2009?" Or "what will the nature of youth ministry look like 5 years from now and what do I need to be doing about it today?" So, we look to what Jesus did....

He went up on the mountain to pray...

So must I. Tomorrow, I'm taking the day off. But Saturday, I'm going to schedule some time to go up on the mountain to pray. I really need to listen to Jesus for a while to make sure I have it right where He is leading me...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I burned the pies because I was reading your blog...

Carla and I went home on Friday for a celebration of Mother's Day with our moms. Our first stop was Salix where my mom and dad still reside. When I walked in the house, I thought that maybe my older sister was flying in from Boise ID because mom had baked pies. We all know that mom loves her best. Anyhow, I knew mom had baked pies because there was a blue haze filling the house and the distinct stench of burnt fruit mixed with a variety of scents from candles and potpourri jars spread around the home. Mom explained that she put the pies in the oven, then went to the computer to read my blog. She was so enthralled with my musings that she failed to notice the house filling with acrid smoke. Dad walked into the kitchen only to observe the billows pouring from the oven vents. He promptly warned mom that the time may have come for her to STOP READING MY BLOG AND COME FIGHT THE FIRE!!!

Now why do I share this story? I offer it for several reasons, I suppose. First of foremost, to irritate my mom. This is the primary responsibility of any son, and I try hard as the only son to live it out. Ask her about the mother's day song I sang for her. ("M" is for the many times you hit me...) Better yet, ask her about the one she composed in response!

Secondly, I share it because it is a metaphor for my life. How many times do I set about something important when I am drawn away by something less? How often do I put myself to the joy of prayer when I find myself doing something godless? How is that when I sit down to come to know the Author in reading the Bible do I find my thoughts distracted to the mundane, or worse, profane?

So here is my prayer, which is my direct paraphrase of Proverbs 4:25-27. "May my eyes look straight ahead, may I fix my gaze directly before me. Lord, make level paths for my feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not let me swerve to the right or the left; keep my foot from evil."

Thanks God. I need that. Now can you help me get the blue smoke out of my life?

Monday, May 15, 2006

The persistent widow...

Yesterday, I preached the latest installment in Cornerstone's message series "Wearable, Shareable Parables." It was about Luke 18:1-8, and is often called the parable of the persistent widow. At first glance, it seems to suggest that in order to get what we want, all we need is to bug God. He'll just get so tired of us, that He'll finally throw up His hands in disgust and say "enough already! Yes, whatever you want...just leave me alone!" If you were here yesterday, then you'll remember the "dink-donk, dink-donk Dairy Queen" song! You can listen on mp3 if you have a broadband connection.

We learned that this is not the case! God is good and will ALWAYS respond to our requests for the "right" things, in other words, justice. If a jerk like the unjust judge in the story will do what is right, don't you think that a Righteous, Holy, Loving Heavenly Father will to? I do!

Lord, thank you that hear us in prayer, and that you give us the right things. May we be so faithful that as we live our lives with you and for you, we will end up looking more like you! And as we do, might we ask for the "just" things in prayer!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Joy of the Journey

I admit that I am a little excited this year for Annual Conference. That is VERY unusual for me! First of all, I'm working with the youth caucas...a group of youth who are interested in loving Jesus, serving, and having fun the whole time. Also, a few good friends work with them too so I get to hang with some great people for the week. The theme or Bishop Tom Bickerton's opening message is "The Joy of the Journey" which I am anxious to hear. What a cool concept. If there is one thing I sometimes lack, and something I think our churches sometimes lack, it is joy in the journey. Getting there is half the fun. Coming back from vacation on Sunday, Carla and I got stuck in an hour and a half traffic jam south of DC. There was an accident and it took us that long to go 4 miles!!! We could have walked faster. But the time went by like the snapping of a finger. We sat there in our trusty van and just talked and talked and talked. I barely even noticed the delay in our trip. Why? Because the joy was in the journey as much as it was in getting home. I don't want to miss Jesus on my journey through life. I want to make sure I am seeing Him and grabbing His hand as we walk together down that narrow road that leads to life...

As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." (2 Corinthians 6:16)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

You gotta read this

This is the post from my friend Chris's blog this morning. Please read it. He brings up a good point. How do we open up to each other, trusting enough to let us help each other on the journey. Like, God said this: "As iron sharpens iron,so one man sharpens another." (Proverbs 27:17) our point in living the journey together is to help each other be sharper...spiritually and schtuff. It reminds me of a Larry Crabb book I read called "The Safest Place on Earth" where he talks about the church being the one place "we turn our chairs toward each other." What a concept. I've since emailed Chris asking him to evaluate my Christian life....the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Anyone else want to take a stab at sharpening my iron? Go ahead, I'll love you for it and I'll be a better Christian (and maybe pastor) because of it...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A "class" on prayer...

At Cornerstone, our latest Stepping Stones Discipleship Training is on prayer. We met last evening and had a really good discussion. We started by trying to define prayer... tall order really. We often thing of prayer as "talking to God." That was where we started last night. The definition we ended up with was something like this:

Prayer is conversation with God in order to grow in our relationship with Him so that we might know His heart and His will, plan, and purpose for our lives.

Good stuff!!! Prayer is tough to define, but I am proud of the group for this great explanation. You can also read here for some more info about a life of prayer...

So what about you? How do you define prayer? Where is your struggle in prayer? What prayer tools have you found helpful? C'mon...sign in!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Je suis de retour...

I'm back!!! Carla and I had a wonderful vacation!!! First, we stopped to see my new best friend Tim Nelson at Huss & Dalton Guitars. They made my MJC that I play for worship. We took the "tour" which was a blast!!!

Then it was off to Williamsburg VA for a few days of history lessons about the 1600 and 1700's. Very interesting schtuff.

Then we headed to Virginia Beach for some time in the sun, sand, and sea. A great time was had by all.

Then, we stopped by for a visit with my uncle and aunt and had a delightful time. They have a beautifully landscaped home in Virginia Beach.

Well, I'm extremely busy w/ the catch-up so it is back to work. More tomorrow...