Do Something

Evangelism, Jesus, Matthew, Ministry, Texas Rangers No Comments »

I was reminded last night that Rangers fans should not ever taunt Yankees fans under any circumstances. Following the Astros’ complete shutdown of New York in the AL Wildcard game last night, I texted our resident Yankees fan, Tim McMenamy, a snarky question: “Are the Yankees in the playoffs?”

His reply: “Not anymore. Maybe the Rangers can get their FIRST title now.”

It occurs to me that Texas could win this year’s World Series and every World Series every year in a row from now until I’m 75 and they still won’t have as many titles as New York. Thank you.


ServantJesusFeeding“Master, 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.” ~Matthew 25:24-25

The three servants in this familiar story are told by the Master to do something. They are not told to do something bigger than everyone else. The Master doesn’t say do something better, do something higher, do something spectacular, do something amazing, do something that will change the world. The Master just says, “Do something.”

And the third servant is paralyzed. He’s afraid. He’s afraid of messing up, afraid of losing what he had been given, afraid of getting it wrong. He was scared of making a mistake, making somebody mad, ticking off his Master. The story tells us that, yes, this third servant was punished. He lost his job, his home, his family — everything.

And it’s a great story. It really is. Millions of terrific sermons have been preached from this story. But Jesus didn’t tell it exactly right. He didn’t close up all the loopholes. His story doesn’t answer all the questions.

Don’t you wish I had written the Bible?

I wish Jesus had added one more character to this story. What if another five talent guy had tried really hard? He had given it all he had, he had worked really hard, he had worked his rear end off, but he wound up losing all five talents. He didn’t bury it, he didn’t sit on it. He worked really hard. He tried. But he lost it. The servant’s plans didn’t pan out.

Would the Master have punished him or rewarded him?

Two of the servants get busy immediately, working hard for their Master. One servant decides to do nothing because he’s afraid. Where is that fourth servant?

Could it be that working for the mission of God and nothing happening doesn’t exist? Could it be that giving your time and energy and money and effort toward God’s mission and then losing everything is an impossibility? That’s why the scenario isn’t in the story. Because it’s not possible. The concept, the very idea, of giving something to God and nothing happening is impossible. Our God says do something. And then he promises that whatever we do, if it’s to his glory and toward his salvation purposes, if it’s offered in faith and trust in the name and manner of Jesus, he will use it. He will multiply it. He will enhance it and perfect it and it will bring an eternal Kingdom return!

The third servant who just sat on his gift did not know his Master.

You’re hard. You’re unfair. You’re mean. You take what’s not yours. You’re a big bully. I was afraid.

He didn’t know his Master. But we do. We know our Master is gracious and kind. He is loving and merciful. We know he died for us. He died. For us. He had proven he will always have our best interests at heart and that there’s nothing he won’t do to save us and live with us forever. Nothing. He loves you. He died for you. That’s our Master.

So we act in faith that our God who calls us to work boldly and courageously for him also promises that if and when we mess up in enthusiastic service to our King, we will find grace and mercy, forgiveness and salvation.

The Christian life is a working life. Our God calls us to give ourselves to him and to his work. Brakes off, no looking back, full steam ahead. He’s not going to punish us when we faithfully pursue his purpose and maybe mess something up. Actually, God really enjoys doing super cool things with our mess-ups.




Hello, West Division Championship!

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God’s Perfect Presence

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“I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.'” ~Revelation 21:3

What really makes the New Creation “new” is the immediate presence of God. In Act Six of the Story of God, the perfect presence of the Creator fills all the earth with his radiant glory. God with us. Finally. Face to face with the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Finally. When all evil is destroyed, when God’s Kingdom arrives in its fullness, God’s holy throne comes down here. God finally does what he’s promised to do all along: He makes his dwelling with us. He lives with us.

“They will see his face.” ~Revelation 22:4

Imagine life in the physical, visible, intense presence of God. No more fear. No more guessing. No more doubt. This is life in the fullest sense of the word, eternal life joined together with its eternal source. All sorrow and suffering, pain and death, are banished forever in God’s presence. And God himself “will wipe every tear from their eyes.” Isaiah predicted this. John sees it happen. God will wipe every tear from their eyes. How could you ever more vividly depict the love of God for his people?

How does the Story end? This is exactly how it ends.

“These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.” ~Revelation 22:6

Icon6It’s going to happen. This perfect ending to the Story of God is coming. And this final act peppers us repeatedly with instructions in light of the certainty of God’s Perfected Kingdom: keep these words, do these words, don’t add to this, don’t take away from this, keep your robes washed and clean, because Christ is coming. These words and images are intended to inspire us and thrill us; they’re supposed to teach us and assure us. But this is also an invitation. This last part of the Story begs us to get into it. This is a call to discipleship because of it. This is an invitation to join the Story, to jump into the Story, to set your GPS on “New Creation” and go to it!

Act Six gives all of us a great hope. And, by hope, I want to very clear on this: I mean knowing that what our God has started, he will finish. What our God has promised, he will deliver. Our faithful God is bringing this whole thing to completion.

“Behold! I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” ~Revelation 22:12-14

Our hope is not about wishing this true. It’s knowing how the Story turns out.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

God in Christ will take his people to himself. He will. God will bring us to himself, he will take us in with him, and he will live with us. Act Six will never end. God’s Story will never end. Your story will never end.

This is what we believe. This is why we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” ~Revelation 22:20




Magic Number: 1

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ElvisAndrus1The Rangers clinched a postseason berth with last night’s win over the Angels and the magic number is down to “1” for their sixth division title in franchise history. Texas needs one more win or an Astros loss to take the A.L. West. The worst team in the entire league last year is now on the brink of a division championship. I don’t know how Jeff Banister doesn’t win AL Manager of the Year. What a turnaround, not only from last season, but from that horrible 7-14 April!

Never ever quit? That hokey little phrase apparently means something.

Martin Perez faces Jared Weaver at the Ballpark tonight. When it’s over, Whitney and I won’t drive immediately to the Academy here in Amarillo as we did in 2010. As we learned here in 2011, it takes about two weeks to get the championship T-shirts way up here. Again, living in Amarillo is like almost living in Texas.

Go, Rangers.


It Is Done

Heaven, Revelation, Salvation, Story of God, Texas Rangers No Comments »

The magic number is two. If the Rangers win two of the four games against the Angels in the final regular season series that begins tonight in Arlington, they’ll win their first division title since 2011. They’ll also clinch the championship if they win only one and the Astros lose at least one of their three games in Arizona starting tomorrow.

This won’t be easy. The Halos are 10-5 against Texas this year. And, remember, Texas led the A.L. West by two games with four to play in 2012 and blew it, going 1-3 against Oakland and losing the division on the last day of the season.

The good news may be that LAA got seven of those ten wins against the Rangers before the All Star break. Texas was throwing guys like Ross Detwiler, Nick Martinez, Anthony Ranaudo, and Wandy Rodriguez at the Angels during the first half. Since then, the Rangers have added Derek Holland, Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, Jake Diekman, and Sam Dyson to the pitching staff and have gone 3-3 against the Halos. Colby Lewis is the only starter from the first half of the season who is still in the team’s rotation. And, if this thing is still undecided by Sunday, Texas will have Hamels up and ready against a team that’s never faced him.

Four games to play. The magic number is two.


World2-ArtAct Six of the Story of God is not about getting a person’s individual sins forgiven so we can go to heaven when we die. Yes, that’s a very important means of God’s salvation, but that’s not the final end. That’s not the ultimate purpose. God is putting the whole world right. He’s renewing and restoring all of Creation. This is not salvation from the world; this is salvation of the world! Not just personal forgiveness and peace; this is justice and shalom/peace for the whole world. Not individual souls going to heaven; it’s the fullness of God coming here. The risen and reigning Jesus showed it to John. And he wants us to see it, too.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’

He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.'” ~Revelation 21:1-6

It is done. It is finished. The authoritative words of Jesus on the cross are repeated here by our risen and glorious Lord. It is done. It is completed. In the New Creation, all of God’s salvation purposes have come to their conclusion. This is the confirmation and the victory of what God did when he created the world way back in the beginning. This is the confirmation and victory of God accomplished in Christ Jesus two thousand years ago.

The most certain way to figure out what God is going to do in the future is to pay careful attention to what God has done in the past. This is Back to the Future… only without Biff and the cool DeLorean (Well, I don’t know… maybe there will be a cool DeLorean. There definitely won’t be anybody saddled with the last name of McFly). As God’s children and disciples of the Lord Jesus and we remember the future. What we look forward to is not the destruction of life and the planet but the renewal and restoration of God’s original and “very good” Creation.

The opposite of Yogi Berra’s famous line is true: The future is exactly what it used to be!



Act Six – New Creation

2 Peter, Creation, Heaven, Isaiah, Matthew, Promise, Romans, Salvation, Story of God, Texas Rangers No Comments »


Drew Stubbs’ running, leaping catch of Ian Kinsler’s drive to the center field wall with runners on the corners in the 9th inning snapped the Rangers’ three game skid and increased their lead in the A.L. West to two games now over the Angels. The magic number is four now, instead of three, because the Halos have moved past the ‘Stros for second place in the division. The rubber match with the Tigers is tonight, but then L.A. comes into Arlington for a season-ending four game series that will determine the division champion and the playoff seedings. What looked like a sure thing one week ago now comes down to every inning in these last five games.

Is there a way to leave Josh Hamilton out of the lineup? Even as a pinch hitter?


NewHeaven&Earth“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’

He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!'” ~Revelation 21:1-5

As the great Yogi Berra once said, “This is deja vu all over again!”

A new creation. A new heavens and earth. The sea that separates the heavens from the earth is no more. Heaven and earth become one, just as intimately and beautifully as a new husband and his lovely bride become one. God is living again with the humans. Men and women are living again in the immediate presence of God. No more sorrow, no more heartache, no more death. Everything that’s gone wrong has now been fixed. The old order of things has passed away. I am making everything new!

I am making everything new!

And we’re so worn out with “new.” We don’t even know what “new” means anymore. They say it’s a new cereal, but it’s not. It’s the old cereal, but instead of yellow marshmallow stars they have blue marshmallow hearts and a different stripe on a smaller box that costs more money. They say it’s a new detergent, but it’s not. It’s the old detergent with a few added purple cleaning crystals and the words “maximum power” on a smaller box that costs more money. They say it’s a new iPhone, but it’s not. It’s the old iPhone with two features removed and three features added that costs more money and will be obsolete in three to six months. We’re so worn out with “new.”

But the Creator of Heaven and Earth says, “I am making everything new!” This is not a different label or a brighter color. This is not about a longer lasting battery.

The last act of the Story of God is not about people’s souls escaping from their bodies and rising up above the earth to go to heaven. What we see is heaven descending to the earth. This is not “I’ll Fly Away!” It’s not “This World is Not My Home.” God shows us the final act, the end of the Story, and it’s heaven coming down into the world, uniting with the world to purify it of its brokenness. This is what the prophets talked about:


“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create… the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more… The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy… says the Lord.” ~Isaiah 65

This is the new Garden of Eden. Men and women living in perfect relationship with each other together in the holy presence of God. Absolute peace and harmony with nature. No more injury or disease or death. No more hatred or violence or war. No more poor or needy or slaves or criminals. Everything is new. Everything is perfect. Everything is fixed.

Jesus predicted this in Matthew 19 when he spoke of “the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne.” The apostle is given credit for this same vision in 2 Peter 3: “In keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.” Paul foresees the same thing in Romans 8: “The creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God!”

The whole world will be healed as it is drawn into the fullness of God’s glory. Evil will be finally, ultimately destroyed. And all the potential of creation will explode in glorious fullness and beauty.