Happily Wise

Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding.
Proverbs 3:13

In the Old Testament, what did weavers, artists, tentmakers, carpenters, and ship captains—among others—have in common? They all possessed wisdom. More accurately, they possessed skill. The Hebrew word for wisdom is the word for skill. So, as a craftsman built the tabernacle with skill, Proverbs teaches us to build a life with skill.

What is skill (wisdom) in living? Proverbs 9:10 says it begins with “the fear of the Lord.” From there, it means living life from God’s perspective. Understanding His ways, values, plans, expectations, and methods. Most people spend their life searching for true happiness; the book of Proverbs says that happiness comes from finding wisdom, and wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. God is eternal; knowing Him means eternal happiness (Psalm 16:11). Only God, His Word, and His counsel will stand forever (Psalm 33:11; Isaiah 40:8). Like the grass and flowers, everything else will fade away.

What is your source of happiness today? Is it temporary or eternal? Find wisdom and happiness in your relationship with God.

The kind of wisdom that God waits to give to those who ask him is a wisdom that will bind us to himself.
J. I. Packer


Red – Pieces (Lyrics+Video)

Once upon a time this was me. This is a shout out to everyone who got a second chance. Not all of us get to be this lucky… Most of us just fade away… lost and forgotten

I’m here again
A thousand miles away from you
A broken mess, just scattered pieces of who I am
I tried so hard
Thought I could do this on my own
I’ve lost so much along the way

Then I’ll see your face
I know I’m finally yours
I find everything I thought I lost before
You call my name
I come to you in pieces
So you can make me whole

I’ve come undone
But you make sense of who I am
Like puzzle pieces in your eye

Then I’ll see your face
I know I’m finally yours
I find everything I thought I lost before
You call my name
I come to you in pieces
So you can make me whole!

I tried so hard! So hard!
I tried so hard!

Then I’ll see your face
I know I’m finally yours
I find everything I thought I lost before
You call my name
I come to you in pieces
So you can make me whole
So you can make me whole

The parable of the talents…..

We are closing in the on the holidays already which doesn’t seem possible.  Soon we will be in the season of Advent in the church, a season of waiting and anticipation of Christ’s return. 

Like last week’s scripture, today’s scripture is about what we do while we wait for Christ’s return.  Today’s scripture is titled, “The Parable of the Talents.”

At this point in Matthew’s gospel Christ is in his final days.  He has returned to Jerusalem for the last time.  His final parables in Matthew’s account are about what we are to be doing while waiting for his return.

“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.

 A talent was a measure of weight in biblical times.  The master of the estate was incredibly wealthy.  A talent is about 75 pounds of precious metal.  75 pounds.  An ounce of gold today is worth around $1,300. 

If you do the math a talent or 75 pounds of gold today is worth around $1.5 million dollars.  That is one talent, the first servant got five and the second servant got two. 

What does scripture say that the master of the estate did after giving this large amount of money to his servants…….He went away.  He didn’t give them any instructions.  He just gave it to them.  It seems apparent that he trusts them to be wise with it.

Helluva nice guy isn’t he.  What if I were to tell you that the master in this parable is Christ, he left but not before giving a bounty to his people?  What if I told you that the servants in this parable were you and I? 

That we have been given a treasure or a talent in the form of intellect, knowledge, life experience, talent, time, our ability to earn and a ton of his grace to boot?

And what if I told you that someday we will have to account for what we did with our God-given talent?  I will come back to that.

The master of the estate, he just left.  No directions, no instructions.  The servants were free to do what they would with what they were entrusted with, much like we are.  I want to talk about this for a minute.

Our God, the God that we serve limits himself in this parable and he does this often.  He limits himself so that others have an opportunity to lead and flourish. 

Christ, being of the same spiritual substance of The Father, came to this earth in the same limited manner that we exist, in flesh and blood.  Bound by time and space among other things. 

He limited himself as a penniless, itinerant carpenter turned preacher who emptied himself of his divinity to take on our broken condition.  He goes beyond limiting himself, he completely emptied himself.

He lived like the poorest of the poor with the poorest of the poor and spent his time with the lowest of the low.  Now, Christ did heal people, he performed miracles, he brought people that were dead back to life. 

But he lives his time on this earth consistently restrained.  And why would he do that………Is it because he hands the keys to the kingdom over to us, to each one of us?  That he wants each one of us to be about his work.

Is it because we are in his final days in the book of Matthew and he is making sure to make his point that he is leaving and these are the expectations for those who profess to know him?

God calls us to lead in one form or another.  Leadership isn’t about titles, we are called to lead our families, our church, our community, our school and many other things.

We weren’t made to sit on the sidelines idly watching the world go by.  Here is another window into my cynical and twisted mind.  In my experience in different leadership positions those that sat idly by, not only did they not help, they consistently attacked, smeared and hurled insults at the ones trying to get things done. 

Enough of that.  We are called to lives of service.  He are called to lead, we are called to be in ministry and we are called to be the light in this world.  We don’t retire from Christian service.  As long as there is air in our lungs we are called to be of service to the church.

After leaving his servants to do what they would with his money, the master returned.  “The one who had received the five talents had gone off and traded and made five more talents.”  He had doubled his master’s money.

“In the same way, the one who had been given two talents made two more talents.”  He also had doubled his master’s money.  Pretty impressive, do you know how much time it would take to double your money – legally?

“But the one who had received one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.”  After a long time the master, or Christ in this example, returns.  He is anxious to see what his people have done with what he has entrusted them with.

The one given five talents had pleased his master, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant, you have been trustworthy in a few things.  I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.”  Enter into the kingdom and splendor of God’s presence.

The one given two talents had also pleased his master and is greeted the same, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant, you have been trustworthy in a few things.  I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.”

The servant given one talent had to give his account of what he had done with what he had been given.  This servant’s response appears to be more of a reflection on his own character than the nature of the God we serve.

“Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, gathering where you did not scatter seed, so I was afraid and I hid your talent in the ground.  Here you have what is yours.” 

The third servant, the one given one talent sat idly by.  After many years, maybe even a lifetime he had not been about his master’s work.  I envision this servant shrugging his shoulders as he hands the money back and then goes on the offensive about how it isn’t really his fault.  It is the master’s fault, it is God’s fault that I didn’t do anything productive with what he gave me.

The master was not happy.  “You wicked and lazy servant!  You knew, did you that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter seed?  Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received it with interest.”

“Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten talents.  For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance, but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 

“As for this servant, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

A warning parable about the accounting we will have to do when Christ returns.  Everyone is gifted whether they think they are or not.  The gifts we are given vary from person to person, no one gift is better or more important than another.  Those gifts are not to be wasted or to sit idle.

In this season of Thanksgiving, as we approach Advent and the celebration of Christ’s birth, let us be about God’s work in this world.  Let us feed, clothe and minister to the poor.  Let us be the church.  Let us be the light, the city on a hill that give sight to the blind and ears to hear for those that need to know our God.

Pastor Shawn LaRue, Seymour UMC

Author of Incomplete


Remembering Pappa

Me and Dad
Pappa’s first bike (An Enfield, I think)

I am not sure, if fahers and sons are supposed to share moments of intimacy  or do the mind meld thing. What I mean by that is conversational intimacy, or in some cases an extra hug, a shoulder tap, or a longing look.

I wonder because, I never shared that with my father. He was rather predisposed to formality. I guess this has more to do with British civility, a legacy from the past. My grand father was the same with my father, atleast that’s what Pappa told me. He was very strict with my father.

I remeber he told me once how he got punished when he was young. He was supposed to receive 7 beatings and he was supposed to stay in a tight circle. If he stepped outside the circle when he was getting punished, he would get an extra seven beating every time he stepped outside of the circle. That day he got beaten ( usually this would mean, he was struck below the knees, if everything went well) with a cane 47 times. He fell sick that day with high fever. I guess he must have been shocked both mentally and physically.  The sad thing was, this was all done in good gesture. Pappa was my grandfather’s favourite child amoung his 8 children ( First born son). So it was not easy on my grandfather. He was by my dad’s bed side the entire time, until get got well. But that’s how life was then. My grandfather was a school teacher and he always made sure that he was my pappa’s class teacher. So, when Pappa got promoted each year to the next grade, my grandfather would be overseeing him (class teacher). Normally this would be a good thing, since pappa should have gotten some extra attention. But all of the extra attention that he got was in terms of extra punishment. In order to make sure that my grand father was impartial, my father got an extra dose of punishment every time he was naughty.

Grand father posing
A dated image of my granddad

You would think that my father would have grown up to be a scared little boy. but he was anything but a scared little boy, he admitted that he was a naughty little rascal. He told me that once he kicked some other boy on the face. Another time , he pushed a boy of a tree and the boy broke his leg.  He gave and he received in equal measure.

Part of the reason my grand father loved Pappa more was, because he was a chronic asthmatic when he was small

the whole family
Pappa, third from the left (2nd row)

Which meant that he needed lots more extra attention and lots more sympathy.

Getting back to my original thought of not being able to share intimacy with Pappa, I have to reconcile that he did share life stories and such with me. It’s just that, I never had a truly adult conversation with him. May be that is not normal.

He had this insane death stares. I could never tell what he was thinking, was he tryieng to intimidate me, or was it a challenge? I always diverted my eyes and looked elsewhere.  Any more would be intimidating or disrespectfull.

I know he cared about me… a lot, but I know that I never made him happy or gave him a chance to be proud of me. The last years of his life was filled with regret, because he saw me diminishing for the worse.  But he had hope, he always said that I was not destined to fail. That all of it was a temporary setback. He knew that everything would work out, even if he was there not to witness it.  Pappa had an uncanny ability to predict the future. He was able to predict the day that he would die.  He was off by a day, but I am not sure if that counts, because he lost his consciousness a day or two before he died.

we don't have any pics of my dad smiling

I like to think that he is happy where he is. He was a commited christian, who stood firm in his beleifs.

A Blessed By-Product

Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust.
Psalm 40:4a

When a giant oak, cedar, walnut, or pine tree is ripped into planks at a sawmill, lumber is the product. But there are by-products, too. In the case of sawmills sawing lumber, there are two by-products: bark and sawdust. And they have huge value. Bark is turned into mulch for our yards and sawdust is made into particleboard, briquettes for wood stoves, and pulp for making paper.

There are “by-products” in the spiritual life as well, happiness being one the Bible identifies clearly. An oft-used phrase in Scripture is, “Blessed is the man who.” In fact, Jesus’ Beatitudes are based on the by-product premise (Matthew 5:1-12). What does this mean? It means the person who does something or other will be happy, or blessed. Happiness is a by-product of doing something specific. In the case of Psalm 40:4, happiness is a result of trusting in the Lord. In Psalm 1:1-2, happiness comes from delighting in God’s Word. Our modern culture seeks happiness as an end-game, a quest that is rarely rewarded. True happiness is not a product but a by-product of knowing God.

Are you happy today? Continue to put your trust in God and His Word and watch as happiness rises in your heart.

To seek God is to desire happiness; to find Him is that happiness.