The Gateway of the Eye


I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?
Job 31:1

To break a covenant in the ancient Near East was serious business, resulting in shame or judgment (Joshua 9). That’s why Job’s act was so extraordinary: He made a covenant with his eyes. He couldn’t cast his eyes lustfully upon a young woman; to do so would break his covenant of purity with his eyes (Matthew 5:28).

Why did Job make a covenant with his eyes instead of his tongue, hands, or feet? Surely, he wanted to keep those body parts pure. Perhaps he viewed sight—his eyes—as a gateway for temptation. The tongue, hands, and feet only put in motion what the mind has conceived. And often the mind depends on visual information for its ideas. And perhaps he knew that sight was the gateway for mankind’s original sin: “When [Eve] saw that the tree was good for food . . . she took of its fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6, emphasis added). Those details are of lesser importance—the point of Job’s action is that he took willful steps to live a pure life before God. And he chose a covenant with his eyes as a way to express his commitment.

Are there any steps you can take to decrease the likelihood of yielding to the temptation to sin? Job’s example may be a good place to begin.

Guarding our hearts begins with guarding our eyes and ears.
Jerry Bridges

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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

 

We called it the Seventies


Jerry Brotherton

In front of you I can now stand

To proclaim that I was there

And how this old, fat, balding man

Knew that in love and lust all was fair

Never sure if I’d make it through those days

It took too many things to tell me I was alive

Without you I would’ve wasted away

I depended on you just to survive

I searched and tried to find my own way

Struggled so hard just to reach the door

I survived those years, but sad to say

A lot of brain cells were left on bar room floors

Too many tears that were my fault

Too many hurts that I never meant to be

Through too many unwritten assaults

You still remained there beside me

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Hungry for God


Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Matthew 5:6

It is said that a human can live three minutes without oxygen, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Omitted from this formula is spiritual deprivation: How long can a human survive spiritually and emotionally without spiritual nourishment based on divine truth?

The point is that there is such a thing as spiritual hunger. For instance, a Pharisee named Nicodemus was hungry to know the spiritual meaning of Jesus’ teachings. So, he risked his position and reputation by visiting Jesus under the cloak of darkness lest his hunger be discovered by the self-satisfied around him. He was hungry for truth. On another occasion, Jesus suggested that a willingness to seek the truth was the key to finding it (John 7:17)—and not all are that hungry. He taught in parables to separate the hungry from the satisfied (Matthew 13:10-11). And Hebrews 11:6 (along with Matthew 5:6) promises that the spiritually hungry will be filled.

Don’t go through life spiritually hungry. Seek God and His nourishment through prayer, worship, and His Word. And you will be filled.

Flowers are well enough, but hungry souls prefer bread.
Charles H. Spurgeon