Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

I just got through listening to a sermon from Rob Bell at Mars Hill Bible Church on Matthew 18:21-35 and the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. As I heard the text read (and they actually did a dramatic reading of it which was nice) and listened as Rob pointed out different aspects of the story I had one of those "aha" moments. It was a story I've known since as long as I can remember, yet it struck me differently this time around.

Just a quick recap. The parable is of a servant who owes the king an obscene amount of money. An amount that he would never be able to repay. The servant begs the for more time to pay and the king has mercy on the servant and completely erases the debt. The servant is free. No prison, no debt, free. As the servant was leaving the king he sees one of his fellow servants who owes him money. He grabs him by the neck and yells at him to give him the money that he owes him. The king gets news of this, calls for the servant whose debt had been completely erased and turns him over to the jailers to be tortured.

A couple things about the story: First off the amounts that were owed. The The servant who owed the king owed him 10,000 talents. Since we don't function in talents lets put it in a number we can understand. 1 denarii = a day's wage. 1 talent = 6,000 denari. So 10,000 talents would be equal to 60,000,000 days of work. So about 164,383.5 years! Basically, there was no way this guy was ever going to come close to paying the king off. The Jewish audience hearing this parable would have been blown away by this number, it was extrme to make a point. So what about the other debt in the story: 100 denarii. If you look at that number alone thats still alot of money, 100 days wages. Take away what just happened with the king and I'd want that money too. But compared with the 10,000 talents, 100 denarii isn't much money at all.

But the big thing that stuck out as I listened to Rob was just that fact. The servant had just left the king. Just left after being forgiven of such an enormous debt. And he immediately forgot. He immediately got caught up in his own world. And then he saw someone who owed him. Someone who had money that was rightfully his. And he forgot. He forgot. How quickly do I forget. How quickly do I get caught up in my own world. Get caught up in my world of my rights and getting what I deserve and having people treat me the way I want to be treated and elevating myself up above others. How quickly am I consumed with me.

And here's the deal. The king took away what the servant owed. What was rightfully his. Because what was rightfully his was prison, for the rest of his life. There was no way the servant would ever pay that amount back. But the king threw out the book. But not the servant. He brought his book out and started keeping tabs of his rights. So what happened. The king held him to his rights. You want to play by the rules (i.e. law)? Then fine, you hold them to the law, I hold you to the law. You see here's the deal with us, we like that when it comes to us and God we don't get what we deserve. But when it comes to us and those around us, well then we'd rather keep track of things a little better. But you can't have it both ways. We've got to remember what we have been forgiven of and allow that impact the way we live. How could that servant have left the kings presence unchanged? Well you look at my life sometimes and I could ask myself the same thing.

Lately I've been listening to a lot of ancient hymns via Indelible Grace . Many of them are hymns that I have never heard of before. And many of them focus on a similar theme. Grace. As I've listened to these hymns they've reminded me how important it is to keep that at the center of our thinking. To wake up everyday and realize that we are saved not because have loved and chosen Christ, but because he first loved and chose us. Here are the lyrics to a couple of those hymns that have really impacted my thinking the past few months.

Father Long Before Creation

verse 1
Father, long before creation
Thou hadst chosen us in love,
And that love so deep, so moving,
Draws us close to Christ above.
Still it keeps us, still it keeps us.
Firmly fixed in Christ alone.

verse 3
God's compassion is my story,
Is my boasting all the day;
Mercy free and never failing
Moves my will, directs my way.
God so loved us, God so loved us
That His only Son He gave.

Free Grace

Chorus: Free grace has paid for all my sin
Free grace, though it cost so much to Him
Free grace has freed even my will
Free grace to the end sustains me still

3. It's not for good deeds,
good tempers nor frames
From grace it proceeds,
and all is the Lamb's
No goodness, no fitness
expects He from us
This I can well witness,
for none could be worse
(Repeat chorus)

Bridge: Sick sinner, expect no
balm but Christ's blood
Your own works reject,
the bad and the good
None ever regret it that on Him rely
Though guilty as Saul or Jonah or I

Sunday, July 12, 2009

July 12th Setlist

Today was a bit of a different Sunday. Last week the youth went on a missions/discipleship trip to Columbus. It was through RMM and it was something called city challenge. Kaylene and I had the privilage of going along as sponsers and had a blast. Not only was it great hanging out with the youth, but it was such a stretching and growing experience. So this Sunday was basically the youth telling the congregation about what they had experienced. So I decided to use the youth for our worship time as well and had them form somewhat of a mini-choir. It was awesome! And something I'll probably do again. I think the congregation really enjoyed it as well. Our lineup was made up of either songs we had learned or sang throughout the week, or songs that reflected what God had been doing in our hearts. I was really concerned that we wouldn't have enough practice time with learning two new songs and adding some different elements. But amazingly it worked out perfect. It was just one of those Sundays that are fun (seems like every Sunday should be that way huh?).

You Are Holy (Prince of Peace)- Pretty obvious why this was a good song for our group, put the choir to good use. It had been awhile since we had done it so it was good to dust it off for this Sunday.

From the Inside Out- This was a new song for our congregation, but one we had learned at City Challenge. For the first time doing it it went really well, not sure yet if it will be a regular for our congregation yet or not. But it was great for this morning.

He Reigns- An oldy but a goody. The church always loves this one. We tied the chorus to Our God Reigns on at the end of it and that was incredible. We started out with just my piano and Kaylene singing and kept building. Then once everything was full we cut to just the voices. It was powerful!

Holy God - This is another new song from last week. I didn't think we nailed it like we did in practice but it was still incredible. This is a Brian Doerksen song if you're trying to figure out which Holy God. Started out with just my piano and the choir singing the chorus and kept building just singing that simple chorus: "Holy, Holy, Holy God." It was awesome! Definitely a new favorite of mine. I'll put a youtube video of it on the end of this post in case no ones heard it.

Majesty- We knocked this one down a couple keys to make it easier for the choir to hit, and so we could transition easily from Holy God. Started out real empty at the chorus and then came in with our typical intro. I thought this one went really well too. Seems like the last couple times we've done it it has had that "overdone" feel to it but not this morning. The words really hit home for me. Just the idea that we have absolutely nothing to offer God, yet He laid down His life for us. Incredible, could say so much more but I'll get back to the setlist.

Still - Did not nail this one like I wanted to. Basically kept it pretty mild and never got a good build to it.

My Beloved- Another new favorite both of mine and Matt's and the congregations I think.

It was such a fun Sunday, it just felt like everybody on the worship team really enjoyed it. It was great having the choir up there, gave Matt much more freedom to ad-lib some stuff and not simply stick to the melody. Just a good good time.

As always, check out other worship leaders blogs at Fred McKinnons site.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

C.S. Lewis on Forgiveness

"Every one says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have someone to forgive."

- C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity