Archive | October 2015

Rodeo and Football

hi-res-185019616-kansas-city-chiefs-cheerleader-susie-rides-warpaint_crop_northHe went into the deal trying to add some bucking horses to his string. Tommy Steiner was buying a couple hundred horses to see which ones had the heart, power, and temperament to be part of his rodeo stock. One of the best looking horses was a registered Paint horse, who was rumored to be one of the toughest in the pen. A price of $400 was agreed upon.

After the trip from Wyoming to Texas, the horses were bucked out on the ranch. The paint horse had a decent trip. Unfortunately for Steiner, it was its best trip.   As the summer wore on the horse became less and less powerful. After a summer of outs, the horse was put to pasture, hoping rest would reignite its career. Before its next out, however, someone came to the ranch and offered $600 for the horse. Steiner complied. The man took him to horse shows and fairs and eventually sold him to Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs. Needing a mascot for his newly relocated franchise, an offer was made to purchase the paint bucking horse for $5,000. Steiner accepted and “War Paint” became the mascot of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Sometimes we get it wrong. Looks can be deceiving. “War Paint” had the perfect build for a bucking horse, but made its fame as a mascot. When I think of the 12 disciples no one really sticks out as a high profile pick. Every time the fishermen who followed Jesus are mentioned as fishing, they hadn’t caught anything. Matthew was a traitor to his people, and a sub-human to Rome. In the Ancient Near Eastern lunchroom, Matthew didn’t have a table to sit at. This seems to be the case for most of the people whom Jesus found himself with. They were people that the world had misjudged and undervalued.

The down, the out, the also-ran, and the forgotten are the very people, which caught the eye and garnered the time from Jesus. May our eyes behold those that need them and our time be allocated to those whom Jesus would be with. There are those who are hurting, sick, vulnerable, exhausted, and down-trodden who cross our paths everyday and I too often turn the other way to those that are judged as more worthy, more helpful to my standing, or more important to the task at hand.

Bucking horses and mascots are still horses. Each used for different purpose and each requiring different skills. But they still eat hay, roll in the dust, and make road apples. Jesus had an ability to see people as exactly what they were: people. Whether they were a centurion, an abandoned woman, a leper, or a tax collector; He saw everyone with their own problems in need of a Savior.

I too am one of those people and I pray that I see those around me the same way.

St. John, Bob. On Down the Road: The World of the Rodeo Cowboy (Prentice Hall: Englewood Cliffs, N.J.) 1977

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The Rest of God

282402_10100160606116021_17006450_45588034_4109272_nHay season means different things to different people. For those of us between the ages of 12 and a long 55, that means hot temps, hay hooks, sultry eves, and short water breaks. It’s the best stay in school lesson a boy can have. The short breaks are greatly welcomed. I am glad life is not lived at hay season’s pace. I learned this twice in the during a week in July.

The week began on the first day, Sunday, preaching at Hartford. We left there and drove to Greeley, Colorado and spent the night. The next morning we hung out in Greeley and visited some awesome people that I will write about at another time. My family reunion began Monday afternoon in Larkspur, so we headed down there after seeing all that Greeley had to offer. Wednesday night brought the Franklin County Christian Youth Rodeo where I needed to be at 5pm. I left Colorado Springs at 6:30 am to get to the rodeo. After a 9 hour drive, 2 stops, and 15 sermons on the iPod, I arrived at my destination where I fought bulls horribly. My performance that night has haunted me ever since. I came home around 3 and slept a short few hours before getting up to do some chores…I am still hazy on how I got home.

This nect Sunday morning (a day of encouragement) I preached in Hartford as well. We had left early, but a flat tire had delayed us. Thinking I would have plenty of time to get my head right before preaching, my down time was gone before I had to preach. As I stepped up on stage, my mind was racing and my thoughts garbled. As I began the message that morning, the rodeo and my current situation spun around my brain and I came to this realization: rest has got to be a bigger part of my life.

Sleep is not the issue. I have had plenty of sleep. Rest is not sleep. Rest is “time between”. It’s that time where you are doing things that fill your spirit, ease your mind, challenge your heart, and get energized. It is “time between” the tasks before you.

Much has been made of the term “between”. Some have called it “margin” or “fill”. God called it “Sabbath”. But until recently, I didn’t realize that God had practiced it on occasion.

Three times in Scripture, God “rested”. Not because of exhaustion or weariness, but because of accomplishment. When there is nothing left to do, no more on the list, with the finishing touches complete, the only thing to do is to rest, to enjoy the “time-between”.

At the end of Creation: “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed [hb.-kala] in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished [hb.-kala] the work [hb.-mela’ka] he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested [hb. shabat] from all his work[hb.-mela’ka].” [Gen. 2.1-2] The first verbal form of k-l-h is in the pual stem which is intesive but passive, “heavens and earth were completed”; whereas the second form is in the piel stem which is intensive and active, “God finished”.   And when He finished, he rested. The hebrew verb shabat, which the NIV translates rested, is the same root as the hebrew noun Shabbat, which is transliterated as Sabbath. So when God finished, he took Sabbath; a “time between”. God would no longer be creating, but providing for His creation.   God will now be partnering with man to accomplish his purposes and plans.

At the Cross. “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19.30)    Tetelestai meaning “It is finished” or “complete”. It is a perfect verb. Not just a fitting verb for what is happening both locally meaning Jesus death on the cross, or cosmically the atonement of sins, but the tense of the verb is the “perfect” tense. In Greek the “perfect” tense showed a completed action with lasting consequences. Our current salvation is assured because of the completed action of Christ’s work on the cross. Our present state of “saved” is because of the finished work of Christ on that day. God rested on that day, but his work would continue on because of the “perfect” tense of Tetelestai.

The Inauguration of New Heaven and the New Earth. “He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” (Rev. 21.6) Done is a fantastic word to hear. A few verses prior, God has said that He will dwell with man and he will live with them (3). God walked in the morning cool of the Garden, dwelt among men for 33 years in human form, and now will live amongst His people forever. The work may be done and God is resting, but God is still God. Just because the work is complete, doesn’t mean God has checked out.

What is fascinating about these three instances where God completes a task, be it creation, salvation, or complete redemption, is that though the work is done, he never leaves it behind. Make sense?   After creating it, He sustains it. After saving it, He guides it. After redeeming it, He dwells amongst it. The work is done, but not abandoned.

All to often tasks, once completed, are left to their own devices. God has never treated humanity that way. From creation to inauguration and beyond, God chose to partner with humanity, to be in relationship with us, in order to accomplish his purposes, namely to receive His due glory. In the midst of the struggle when God seems at His farthest, though we live in a completed action, it must never be thought of as an abandoned project.

Called

The idea of “a calling” has been turning up again in my life; or should I say the question of having one.

A few months back, I was interviewing with a Church for the position of youth minister. The interviews, meetings, conversations, and teaching went well. The students, though few in number, were a great bunch of kids. We left after a Sunday visit, ready to accept the position and begin a second ministry. I had planned to accept the job the next week via phone call when I ended working every night and eventually ended up in the hospital for a couple days with 5 different diagnosis’s.

While in the hospital, I received an e-mail from a few of the elders of the church and the sr. pastor. In the email, they asked the fair question: “Do you really feel called to do located Church ministry?” They did add onto the question their observation that I didn’t sound excited about working with their students and that I sounded like I loved what I was doing with the rodeo kids and the school. I guess my stories about working with the students I work with made it sound to glamorous. My calling was in question.

Three years ago in June I had a meeting with my current boss, Sr. Pastor Tim. I had left my intern in charge of Wed. night youth group. One of the Moms of a student called Pastor Tim, furious that I would take off a night of youth group to go to a rodeo. She was upset that her daughter wasn’t with us as well.   All of this information she gleaned from a photo my wife had put on facebook.   I awoke Thursday morning to a furious text message from my boss. He was studying at Panera and wanted to meet with me. I drove to Panera Bread, home of the $12 p b and j sandwich, and met with him that morning. His accusation, based upon the information provided by his daughter and previously mentioned upset parent, was that I “was using youth ministry as a paycheck to support rodeo!” Translation: I was doing youth ministry for the money.  Honestly, that is where my career probably ended at the Church. My calling was in question.

The biblical notion of calling is pretty straight-forward. A man is spoken to by God to complete a task.

  • Abram – “Go to the land I will show you…” (Gen. 12)
  • Moses – “Go confront Pharoah and lead my people out of Egypt” (Exodus 3-4)
  • Gideon – “Go and we will beat up the Midianites together” (Judges 6)
  • Samuel – “I am gonna do something you are gonna want to see…” (1 Samuel 3)
  • Jeremiah – “I appointed you as a prophet the nations…” (Jeremiah 1)
  • Ezekiel – “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites…” (Ezekiel 2)
  • Isaiah – “Go and tell this people…” (Isaiah 6)
  • Amos – “Go prophesy to my people Israel…” (Amos 7)
  • Jonah – “Go to the great city of Nineveh…” (Jonah 1)

These men were called to do a specific task, for God, to his people. I want so desperately to be one of them. But I am not.

Daniel is a story about a man in the Old Testament. In the English Bible he is considered a major prophet (alongside Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah), but in the Jewish Old Testament, he is considered on of the writings. The Jewish Old Testament can be broken down into three sections. The acronym TaNaK can be used to remember the sections of the Hebrew scriptures. The “T” stands for the Torah, meaning the law of God, the Torah. The “N” stands for the “nevi’im” which translates to “the prophets” (“nevi’im” is Hebrew for “the prophets”). The “K” stands for “the Kethubim” which translates into English as “the writings”. In the English New Testament, the book of Daniel is allocated as a Major Prophet, but in the Hebrew, Daniel is considered one of the “writings”. Daniel is put with the “writings” or the Kethubim, in the Hebrew Old Testament.

The question is raised as to “why?”. Why would the Hebrew’s put the book of Daniel in the Writings section and us English people put it into the Major Prophets?

I think the answer lies in the lack of “call narrative.” Simply put, most other Prophets have a call narrative, where as, Daniel does not. Daniel is a young man, deported to Babylon alongside the rest of his successful countrymen, who wakes up in 598 B.C. wondering, “what the heck happened?”   Babylon, under Nebuchadnezzar, adopted the foreign policy of dilution. Their thought “If I take away the best of the population, the rest will become so inept that we as a nation won’t have to worry about them.” So Nebuchadnezzar took the best and the brightest of men back to Babylon with him, and that included Daniel. Intent on breaking down and re-booting the young men, Nebuchadnezzar tried to take their identity. In the first chapter he loses his name (Dan. 1.7), his language and literature of home (Dan 1.4), and gets thrown into the palace. If anyone had reason to sit around and question “what to do?”, it was Daniel.

Daniel “resolved” (1.8), literally he “set it on his heart” to be pure. It is the same phrase that God asks Satan in the first chapter of Job: “Why have you set your heart on Job?” (Job 1.8; 2.3) Daniel was going to live out God’s purposes and follow God despite the circumstances he was placed in. It shows in the way he lived and served in Babylon. He became known for his wisdom and entertained Kings (Dan. 5) and everyone knew his devotion to God. The men didn’t just stumble upon Daniel praying, they knew where to find him (Dan 6.10ff.)

So what is there to make of this? As a man who’s calling has been brought into question, by himself most of all, is there no hope until God speaks audible from a bush or a burrito? Maybe “a calling” isn’t necessarily a voiced task by God (it was for the aforementioned men), but could be a response on our part to the situation we find ourselves in. Like Daniel who knew it was his purpose to serve God wherever he found himself, it is our task to serve our Lord in whatever role presents itself. With grease paint and baggies, in the pulpit, with a guitar in hand, fixing bikes at School, crunching numbers at work, doctoring cows, or playing with our kids…a calling to be followed. Not a “to-do-list” but a “following”.