Tag Archives: rewards
Let’s say your dad is Chairman of the board of directors of a hospital group covering Boston, New York, Atlanta, and L.A. Let’s assume you and your Dad love each other and really have a ton in common: a love for medicine & healing arts. Filling out your college applications, he sits you down for a “career conversation”:
“I’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into this career to ensure you kids have a bright future. Lots of sacrifice. This contract guarantees you a job at any one of my facilities, provided you complete med school. But, the harder you study and the better you do on your internship, the better a position you’ll have. The better position you get, the more time we’ll get to see each other, go fishing in off time, etc. Just sign here and get to work on your education.”
He slides a bona fide contract across the desk to you stating exactly that, already signed by the remainder of the board and the CEOs of all 4 hospitals. Once you’re done with 14 years of training, the next 30-40 years are locked in. This is really happening. You in?
“There are only two certainties in this life – death and taxes.” Today, we get to talk about both.
Day 1 – Taxes…
If you’re planning to support Seasons of Life Ministries this year, you’ve got until Monday, December 31st to either get it post marked or give online. Anything after that and the IRS requires us to count it for 2013. The rest is in your hands.
As of today, we’re only about $4,000 away from a “clean ending” for 2012. We have about $1,500 in matching funds still available to help meet that goal. So, if you’re planning to give, now’s a time when anything you give will make twice the impact.
Helping us meet our support needs will ensure we continue supporting about a dozen families in the “working poor” and poor class that receive food delivery either weekly or monthly. You’ll also help support the many men I have the honor of walking with as a spiritual director. This year, our focus begins to shift from building up many of these men to guiding them as they begin discipling other men.
What to Do About This Day:
Partner with us now. We’re praying for new quarterly partners at $125, $250, and $500 per quarter. If we reach our need of 16 of these, “Support” updates will likely become a thing of the past on our blog, giving me back a lot of time that can be more deeply invested in the men in my pastoral/discipleship care. Whatever you do, whether $20 a month or $2,000 this week, get it in the mail by Monday afternoon or online by that night. To send it to us, use our secure address at 2659 Freedom Parkway, Suite 285, Cumming, GA 30041.
To give online using our secure online portal, use any of the following links:
$25 Monthly, $40 Monthly, $50 Monthly, $100 Monthly, $200 Monthly,
One Time Gift
$2,000 One Time, $1,000 One Time, $500 One Time, $250 One Time, $100 One Time, $50 One Time.
Day 2 – Death…
2 Cor. 5:10 “That Day”
Dan Matthewson is a high powered software sales guy. Top in his class, top in the firm, being groomed for partner. Gorgeous wife, model children. Placed his faith in Christ as a young teenager. He’s got it going on.
But, he’s dying inside.
This year, you may have a chance to hear Dan’s story. He, like you and I, doesn’t get out of here alive. Like you and I, he will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to be rewarded for the things he did for God’s kingdom and in God’s power and timing. He doesn’t realize he’s headed for a fiscal cliff that will last much longer than the US economy.
That Day is an interactive, two-act, one man show that uses about a dozen characters to tell the story of what it will look like when Dan, and by extension you and I, may witness the day Christ calls us to account for all we’ve done here on earth. It’s funny, unnerving, engaging, and loaded as Bill Ibsen says “with more truth than a sermon and it all flies under the radar until after you’ve seen it.” This production has already impacted over 500 people in the metro Atlanta area and this year, we’re already being sought out for new performances that will more than double that.
|Participants at a “That Day” event react to what they’ve just seen and
discuss “table questions” and scripture related to the topic.
What to Do About “That Day”:
Keep your eyes on our Facebook page, the blog, or www.thatday.info. As soon as new dates are announced, you’ll hear about them first. But, read and pray about the judgment seat and consider the letters to the churches in Revelation 2 & 3. Start and continue conversations in your church, organization, or small group about “eternal rewards” and the role grace has in our salvation but works has in our rewards. Pray for wisdom and revelation about how eternity impacts today and vice versa. And, when new dates are announced, get your tickets right away. Who wants to be one of those people who couldn’t get tickets last minute like the last time?
Merry Christmas Season and Happy New Year!
Slaying the Fame Monster
Killing the obsession with earthly fame comes for some through stoking the fires of personal gain rather than achievement – they’re not concerned with who remembers them as long as they got what they wanted while they were here. Others don’t have to kill the beast, because their desire is like John the Baptists’, to minimize their own name while maximizing the name of Christ.
What’s the Problem?
Whether you desire to kill the fame monster or you’re hopelessly beholden to it, there’s a tension that showed up in your gut when you read “Will what I’m doing right now matter in 100 years?” If you felt that, you get it. You get that we all have a desire for significance.
There’s a universal tension between who we are and who we will become that grows more vivid the closer we get to death. Just ask anyone that’s been in a car wreck or overdosed or had some other near death experience. The thought of losing control over how we’re perceived by others is a cliff far more terrifying than the fiscal cliff in the news these days. We don’t just long to be remembered, we long to be remembered on our terms.
True Fame in Your Future
In the book of Revelation (not Revelations, please), Jesus tells the church at Philadelphia they’re on track to earn a crown – a highly coveted chunk of eternal reward – but, if they don’t persevere in doing what is right, they’ll forfeit it.
He also tells them of an even more coveted reward – “I will make [him who overcomes] a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. (Rev. 3.12)”
A pillar is strong, a support that holds up something (in this case, the Heavenly temple of God), and important pillars often have plaques with inscriptions on them. Jesus tells them God will autograph the person, put the name of the new Jerusalem on them, and write a new, personal nickname on him or her. Biggest fame, ever… and on God’s terms! Trust me, way better than anything you or I could come up with.
Ever Feel Threatened?
There’s a guy in my life who’s avoiding a conversation with me right now because he thinks I’m expecting something for nothing. Actually, I owe him something, but it’s something I can’t give him until it first comes back to me. Long story short, he’s already written me off as lawless and fears I only want to talk my way out of it. Big communication shutdown. I’m in the wrong and need to make amends. But, when I’ve asked for mercy (“…press your plea with your neighbor… (Prov. 6:3b)), only suspicion has been returned.
What he doesn’t know is that as a believer in Christ, I’m not only subject to the law (Romans 13:1), but I’m also subject to the law giver. Anyone who’s ever paid a speeding ticket knows that it’s no fun to be on the wrong side of the law. But, imagine coming face to face with the God who created the universe and hearing Him request an accounting of everything you did while on His planet in the time He gave you… Does that sound a bit more intimidating than traffic court?
For me, it does.
Renewed by the Word
Yet, the great news that God popped off the page is this – while there are men and women out there who would love to entice us into argument, character assassination, word wars, and even litigation, God is sovereign even over them. As I’m reading Proverbs, Chapter 1, “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. (Prov. 1:10)”
Am I calling this guy a sinner? No, categorically, not. I don’t have access to God’s Facebook friends list and I won’t be so arrogant as to sit in judgment over the guy from my mere human vantage point. Furthermore, I’m the guy in the wrong on this one, right? So, let’s focus on the point here and experience the freedom we have in God, shall we?
Our freedom in Christ seems oxymoronic. To be free to say “no” seems a bit of a dichotomy. Yet, you and I, as Christ followers are compelled by Christ (see 2 Cor 5:14) to only one option – “do not be enticed into doing wrong”. Yes, the example given in this proverb is about being invited to join people who want to go inflict evil upon others, but it also extends to the broader category of “wrongdoing”.
Sometimes, freedom is saying “no” when you have all the room in the world to say “yes”. Could I engage this guy in a verbal war? Could I bite back with character assassination of my own? Sure could. I might even be right at the end of the argument. But, I’d be wrong in Christ and would be abusing my freedom and would miss out on one of the greatest fruits of the Spirit: self control. My freedom actually constrains [Greek: ‘sunexei‘ to control or hold together with constraint] me to one option: love someone who is acting as if I’m any enemy and pray for him while he’s persecuting me. While it sounds painful now, I’d rather do that than lose both the fruit of the Spirit and eternal reward. How about you?
Until Christ returns, there will always be those who want to wrangle with words and accusations, stir up dissension, even cause us physical or legal harm – they may also try to entice us into sinning against God with them. But, we serve the God who will, in the end, see their knee bowed to Him just as our knee will bend; they, too will be called to account for their actions. May our hope not be in our words or our temporal vindication, rather in the God who searches hearts and minds and will repay us all according to our deeds. (Rev 2:23)
Some people are just never satisfied.
But, should we be surprised by the actions of the Pharisees? Their eyes, being so trained on the law that they gave up worshipping the law-Giver to worship the law, how could we expect them to recognize the God of grace standing before them performing deeds of true righteousness? He didn’t match the headline they expected in the Jerusalem Times:
How often do we get into that match with God – the Comparison Game? Have you been disappointed by how things have turned out? Have you ever found yourself, like me, wrapped around the axel of “God owes me” when He never promised you what you were expecting in the first place?
The two most powerful words in the entire bible are not “Jesus wept.” In my opinion, (as was mentioned last week) they “but ” and “God”, as used in “but… God, who is rich in mercy made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions. (Eph 2:4-5)” When we look at what we have in light of what we deserve [judgment], it is all blessing. The danger for us is taking the gospel for granted and falling back into “but, God didn’t”___. Fill in the blank – “save my grandmother from cancer”, “deliver my dad from addiction”, “give me the job I wanted and was qualified for…”
When did God promise you those things? What does He really owe you?
Every one of us has something coming our way in the form of blessing. For all of us in Christ, it is transformation. For all of us in Christ, it is perfection. For all of us in Christ, it is a glorified body and eternal inheritance. For many of us in Christ, it includes crowns in heaven that we will lay at His feet. The only thing that can truly set us free from the comparison game is knowing that God is not constrained by our profile, our headlines, our expectation.
Thank God for that.
He is so much greater than the box we’ve put Him in. He is the “author and perfecter of our faith” and is capable and caring. Sometimes, He says no. Sometimes, He says “no” for a lonnnng time. But, He’s got His reasons, His plan, His headline which will blow us all away when we see it face to face:
Don’t you just love the red letters? I mean, think about it – if you’re a theist or a deist, you don’t believe in a personal god who is active and involved in the life of His creation. But, if you’re a disciple of Christ, you have pages and pages of ancient manuscripts that have been preserved and protected over centuries that contain the words of the God who not only invented the universe, but also came to earth as one of us to teach, reach, and die for us.
I’m off topic. My bad.
The point of today is to further look into what happens today and how it effects eternity. Jesus is on a roll with His teaching ministry in Matthew 6 and sets the record straight on prayer and piety:
“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven… I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. (Mt. 6.2,5b)”
Salvation is by faith in Christ alone. But, eternal rewards are a different story. Works we do here effect our eternal reward. God promises to reward us for everything we do while here “in the body” (2 Cor 5:10), but here gives us exception clauses as a warning. For the deists & theists out there, this flies in the face of your theology, big time: a personal God is watching you, recording your every move, with a great desire to reward you in eternity for the good you have done. How is that “uninvolved”? Further, and to the point, He also promises to deny us reward for actions done with a selfish motive, i.e. public kudos.
For those of us in public, vocational ministry, especially the small, Mom-and-Pop type like Seasons of Life, this presents an interesting challenge: how does one report appropriately to “update” the public without sacrificing eternal rewards for bragging about ones’ works like the Pharisees did? Prayerfully and only to the glory of God. Et tu? How do you share your story, your testimony, the things God is using you for without sacrificing eternal rewards?
Check your heart.
What I really wanted to blog about this morning is the previous chapter – in Matthew 5:8, Jesus tells the crowds that when our hearts are clean and uncontaminated by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, (roll over to see also Luke 8:14 and Jas 1:27), we have a clear, unobstructed view of who God really is and what He is up to in the world. So, how’s your heart? Is it contaminated by worries over the things of this world? Mine isn’t. I’ve got to sit down right after I hit “publish” and “get to confessin”: I’m laden down this morning with what’s ahead in my day, some things I’m waiting to hear back on, some fundraising stuff that “might” go through, etc., etc., etc.
We’re never more than one prayer away from access to the full resources of Heaven. We’re never more than one prayer away from true repentance and a fully clean heart: it just takes honesty before God that we’re being controlled, run, “stained” [as James says] by motives other than pleasing God. Do you seek public accolades? Do you seek the desires of your heart independent of a “delight in the Lord” (Ps 37:4)?
Dump your heart. Repent of the sin of worry. Receive right motives. And, step forward in grace, empowered by the Spirit. It ain’t complicated. Hard, sometimes – I’ll give you that – but simple. Momentum.
Author’s note & pet peccadillo:
Today, apart from being incredibly grateful to Ray Ortlund for His obedience to God in writing such a timely post as we’ll dive briefly into, I also can’t resist the temptation to play Spelling Nazi. Kelly Talamo named the environment “Men Step Up”, because in his words “lives change when men ‘step up’ to the Truth”.
I can’t tell you how many times I hear people ask “Hey, are you going to Men’s Step Up this week?” Okay, I can, I’ll just wind up gritting my teeth into dust… You get the point… I’ll step down off the soap box and put away my red pen. It’s not like I don’t occasionally invent my own words or brutally murder a rule or two of decent, English grammar…
Spurring One Another On…
|What happens at the tables never
stays at the tables. Praise God!
This past Friday morning, I had the opportunity to “bring it” at Men Step Up, Gwinnett. Essentially that means I was tasked with standing up in front of a crowd of guys, (many of whom intimidate the heck out of me from a spiritual standpoint), and “provoking” them toward a discussion that would take place at their tables.
These weekly discussions are proctored by a table leader and outlined by about 4 or 5 questions on the front of an index card (see picture, right). The back side of the card will normally have a lie on it that many of us have either bought into, wrestled with in real life, or both, as well as a few select lines from scripture that either individually or collectively debunk the lie.
|Men Step Up is a gathering where the lies of the enemy collide with the truth of God’s word. For more information,
go to http://www.menstepupgwinnett.com/.
If you’ve been reading the blog at all last week (Part 1, Part 2), you know we’ve been talking about the context for current struggle, trial, aggravation, etc. as a lead up to that event. I had planned to present this morning’s post as a combined update/devotional on the topic. However, it seems the day after I spoke, Ray Ortlund posted an article that capped off our discussion perfectly in a mere 20 sentences.
So, here it is in its entirety with a brief send off from me at the end:
The fact that Ray & I have never met and yet he wrote the perfect synopsis of what we were talking about on the very same day, he’s dead on point here. In last week’s post and our discussion at Men Step Up, we concluded that eternal rewards are the context for current suffering, that current rewards are no indicator of eternal and Godly appreciation, and that when it comes to rewards, we have a three tiered “compensation plan”:
- One time paycheck: “Atta boy!!!” (remarkably temporary, a la Matt. 6:2, Matt 6:5, Matt 6:16)
- Royalties only: “I will repay each of you according to your deeds.” (see Rev. 2 & 3) or
- Earthly Reward and Eternal 401K: “do everything without arguing or complaining. (Phil. 2:14)”, “Enjoy life… (Ecc. 9:8)” and “I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (Rev. 2:23b)”
I was amazed at how pertinent this message was for the guys in attendance, at that moment. It may well be pertinent to you right now. Regardless of its relevance in your current season of life, this is a topic neither you nor I will fully grasp in a handful of blog posts or even conversations with godly men and women – this is one of those things that requires the illuminative power of the Holy Spirit to make clear and present in our everyday mindset. It may also require diligent and thirsty searching of the scriptures.
Be encouraged, be spurred on, and be aware: That Day is coming when we will all receive rewards at the judgment seat of Christ. May your inheritance be great and may you enjoy this life and the one to come.
When you work hard, you expect to get paid. Maybe it’s a bonus or commission. Maybe you’re on salary and you’re hoping your effort will count toward a raise or promotion. Maybe you’re trying to win points with your spouse or significant other. Whatever you were doing, if you’re like me, you’re expecting a return on your efforts, right? But, what happens when the finish line gets moved and you’re asked to wait for your reward “a little longer”, “til next quarter”, or not at all? Worse, what happens when you do what was expected (or more than that) and you don’t get a reward at all? Instead you get reprimanded, criticized, publicly humiliated, or the recognition not only goes to someone else but you’re also dragged across the coals for all of your other faults and foibles?
Now, that’s a pain.
|Spur. Ouch. Now, THAT’LL
move you to action, won’t it!?
True statement. Men don’t like to talk about pain unless it’s a “you think that’s bad, lemme tell ya what happentaME” contest. The bible has a lot of words for this that men don’t like to discuss – heartsick, heartbreak, affliction, sorrow. Women, you’re easy, you’ll talk about your hurts, your pains, your disappointments with little or no provocation. But, this message is for you, too. I’m just picking on the guys, because… I am one and I know we men need to be prodded and “spurred”, as the bible says.
Women, (especially wives), you’re probably really good at tolerating certain “guy” things, like tools and mechanical things that make a man’s eyes light up when he walks into Home Depot. Thank you, for that. If you’re a (stereo)typical “I need my space clean.” woman, you’re a woman who can relate to a tool men might have in their toolbox: scouring tools like rasps, grinders, and sandpaper. In my kitchen, both Cristine and I go through tons of those yellow and green scrubby pads because I’m a cooker and she’s a cleaner and sometimes stuff gets STUCK on that stove.
With all the prolonged rewards in life, the toxic, critical workplace scenarios, withheld commissions, heartbreak, sorrow, etc., we all need a little perspective from time to time to carry us through the disappointment. Cristine and I were reading about it in Ecclesiastes and have been experiencing Holy Momentum as a result.
Roll over this link to read (Ecc. 7:2-6). In the midst of all the trials our 14 year old daughter has been going through (and she’s really digging in right now and doing the hard work, Praise God!), we went to the scriptures with a “God, we’ve gotta hear from you” attitude, and He popped verse 3 right off the page:
“Crying is better than laughing.
It blotches the face but it scours the heart. (MSG)”
Hey, what happens when you scour something? Doesn’t it get cleaner? I didn’t put those tires on the car so I could look at brake dust, I bought them because I wanted the tire. When I scour away the brake dust, I get to the thing I wanted in the first place – the shine, the polish, the good stuff.
One of the keys to finding purpose in the pain is not ignoring the pain, not minimizing the injustice, rather knowing that God is using pain to refine us. I know, I don’t want to hear that junk, either. But, for us, as we watch our Brie-brie dig through vague layers of superficial anger and get into more specific feelings like “anxiety”, “betrayal”, and “hurt”, we are deeply encouraged to know that the obscuring facade is being scoured away. Someday, maybe not next week or next quarter, we will see the fruit of the scrubby pad/sand paper/sadness.
In every life there is disappointment, payment withheld, kindness returned with injury. It happens like this in a Genesis 3 world. The great news is, we will all be rewarded for our perseverance in trial. God has not forgotten you or me or… them, the offenders of the faithful. He is watching and will reward us. This week, I’ll be opening up a conversation with a big bunch of burly men of God at Men Step Up, Gwinnett on this very topic. If you want to join us, we’d love to have you. Comment or email us for details and come ready to collide with the truth.
What do you think of when you hear the words “Judgment Day”? A Terminator movie? A meanie, cosmic judge out to get you with an earth-sized gavel? A grueling grill-session where you have to “splain yourself” in front of a tribune of angels and the Trinity? A fantastic awards show leading up to a massive celebration of the glory and greatness of God?
Only the last answer comes close to what the bible most clearly teaches that we will be “rewarded”, “repaid”, or “recompensed” for what we’ve done in the body “whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5.9-10) The bad news is “judgment day is coming”. The good news is “judgment day is coming”! For those who are in Christ, it will be an amazing day when rewards, positions, and crowns will be given out by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
In April, Men Step Up (Gwinnett) will take four weeks to celebrate 5 years of ministry at the ugly crack of dawn in the beautiful setting of the restaurant “California Dreaming”. The night of their last day of that celebration will be punctuated by the coolest date night ever. Rock-star quality worship singer Rolin Williamson will take the stage at Crosspointe Church in Duluth, GA and play the opening song for a production of “That Day”, a 2 act, 1 man show about Dan Matthewson, a guy who gets to meet Jesus at the judgment seat.
This show has played to packed houses from Alpharetta to Gainesville and is already being looked at for later performances in the year (as far away as Dallas, TX – Glory to God!!!) It’s been highly acclaimed not only for its entertainment value, but for its impact on the faith of those who have seen it. Seasons of Life Ministries is very excited to partner with Jesus Spoken Here Ministries and Men Step Up Gwinnett to give you a look at what that day might be like when we all come face to face with Jesus. Entertaining, encouraging, exhorting… and God gets all the glory. NICE!
Tickets are now on sale – $50 each, which includes dinner (catered by California Dreaming), the music, and the show. There will also be valuable ministry takeaway for everyone in attendance. A couple of things to know, though – this is a great environment to bring someone you know who’s “unchurched” or wrestling with their faith. It’s also an event we’re hoping to use to minister to those in ministry – a few local pastors and lay leaders from other local ministries.
In this, we could use your help, and I know this month I’ve added a lot of “would you consider”s to the blog. But, would you consider helping us to scholarship a few people to this event? We know $50 is pretty steep for a ticket. We also know there’s a lot of value in return. But, regardless of return, if you ain’t got $50, you ain’t got it. Our hopes are to raise $400 to $500 to not only scholarship a few needy couples in the door for a great date night, but we’d also like to foot the bill for their babysitter that night (unless you’d like to volunteer – which we’d welcome you to do!). So, there it is, another “consider” for you to consider! Would you consider it?
For more info on “That Day”, go to “www.thatday.info“. Yeah, that was easy to remember!