draw upon the Vine…

Just as the law of gravity is always in operation, so is the “law of sin” – that your fleshly nature wants to respond to.  This is why no matter how hard you try to “purify” your life, you remain tempted by that pretty woman or the mighty dollar or approval from others.  You hate that about yourself.  Yes!  I do too.  Paul did too.

The good news is, you can access a higher law.  Remember Narnia when the witch killed Aslan and he came back to life saying “She doesn’t know about the higher magic”.  We have access to that higher law, higher power, higher “magic”.  It’s called the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”.  And it overpowers the law of sin and death.

When you are indwelt with the Holy Spirit and relying upon His power rather than your own, which means being sensitive to His leading and obeying His commands, you’re no longer controlled by the “law of sin and death”. 

It’s no longer about trying harder or doing more “spiritual calisthenics” or memorizing more scripture.  It’s no longer about trying to purge out all lust inside you or purifying yourself with no more TV, no more social media, no more fun, no more temptation.  No, it’s ALL about leaning harder on God’s Spirit who lives within you and drawing from HIS strength and power to live victoriously.

A man who wanders off to try to do this life on his own power to try to purify and overcome all temptation is a man who has cut himself off from the Vine and is withering in the field like a dying branch.  It just won’t work.  DRAW upon the Vine.  Seek HIS power for your life.  It’s there.  And He brings great victory to us when we step down off our throne and let Him up on His.

He prepares a table before me…

Here is the Louie Giglio talk we watched (again!) this morning.  I started the tape at about 17 minutes.  I encourage you to watch this again.  I strongly encourage you to watch this with you wife.  Put the kids to bed, turn off the TV and invest in the spirituality of your marriage and in so doing, build a deeper level of intimacy with her.

The talk is so good, I can hardly put words to it.

In the context of his talk, I encourage you to go and read this blog post…

A Letter To Satan Concerning My Daughter’s Seizures.

Morgan Cheek writes powerfully on this blog of the journey God has taken her and her husband on as they raise twin girls with severe genetic issues.  (Her husband Hugh is from Columbus).  This is a journey they cannot escape.  There is no “prosperity Gospel” to deliver them from this.  Great pain accompanies their journey.  But God.  But God is present with them.  He walks with them and prepares a table before them in the presence of their enemies.  The situation may never turn around.  God never promises us a pain free life in this fallen world.  It does not make our God … not good.  He is good.  He is present.  They are surrounded by all sorts of enemies but God is present and He has prepared a table for them and He is enough.  He is all and He is enough.  Read the blog post and see how Morgan battles the enemy by calling out his lies and reading back to him scripture and Truth he cannot deny and will flee from.  In so doing all this, Morgan is not giving the enemy a seat at her table.  She’s locked tight her eyes on the Creator of these precious girls and the comfort and provision of God is all she needs.

Lastly, tying in with all of this … what is it that God wants from you?  What does he want?  I’ve talked to you about my “high horse”.   Here’s our buddy Vlad on his “high horse” but you know what, it’s us.  We’ve got life figured out.  We’re in control.  We always have the answers or we pose acting as if we do.

And if you’re ever so lucky, God will come along occasionally and knock you off that horse.  Here is how it starts …

and how it ends …

and Praise God!  Now you’re humbled and you are in a place where you can look at your life in a fresh way and now you’re able to listen.  So here is how life looks …

These nice little boxes tucked up on the shelves.  Each of those boxes are the things we “control” – career, 401(k), home, wife, kids, sex life, our time, our money, our stuff.  As life goes along, we manage these things, take control of them, pretty them up, make them appear as if all is perfectly in order.  Perhaps family is the best of these – pretty wife, two perfect kids, right schools, right attitudes, “everything just seems to work out for them”.  Life’s good.  “I’ve got this under control and life figured out”.

BOOM.  High horse time.

My daughter turns up pregnant.  God prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies and if I will just sit at the table with Him and lock tight on Him, He has me.  But no, I turn away.  I turn to my shelves.  I take these things and take control of them and get busy getting the shelves of my life in perfect order so all the world will look and see “wow, he has it figured out”.  The enemy will strike here.  He won’t play fair.  He’ll even use scripture to trick us.  “You’re just being a good steward of the talents God’s giving you.”  You see, even in that, he’s tricking us to turn from God and think “I can do this on my own”.  The liar tells you that “you don’t need God,  you’ve got this”.  

So, enough time goes by and I’m lulled to sleep and my pretty little life, all tucked nice and neatly up on those shelves gets blown up when my daughter turned up pregnant.  Not only was she pregnant, she moved in with the boy and a way of life far removed from the home she grew up in. What then?  What of the pretty little family all nice and neat?  Five weeks later, her older sister told us she was pregnant too.  Double Boom.  Face plant off the high horse into the mud.  The perfect little family was now being rocked.  The facade was broken.

I will say that through all of this, we’ve been humbled.  On December 1, we thought “there is no way we’re ever going to make it through this.”  45 days later with both of them pregnant, now we really knew, “there is no way we can do this”.  But God.  God has turned this mess into a miracle.  What seemed insurmountable four months ago has passed.  God got us through it.  We walked those days in a way we’d never walked before with God.  Will our “perfect” little life ever be “perfect” again?  No.  But you know what, now that I look back, I don’t want that kind of perfect.  I want the God perfect.  I want to give it ALL to Him – “Lord do with all this whatever You will”.  I never again want to walk another day up on a high horse thinking I’ve got it all figured out.  I want to walk my days the way we did in the worst of that storm when each day was radically dependent on God showing up.

So my question to you is simple – What does God want from you? 

God wants it all – your time, your money, your sex life, your kids, wife, job, retirement “plan” – the whole thing.  We want to keep control of most of this up on our shelves – we turn our back on God and his table and turn to our shelves saying “No God, I’ve got these things under control, I just need you over here in this other area”.  Nope.  Oh no.  God wants it all.  The more stuff you keep away from God up on your shelves as you fine tune, shine, polish and present as perfect … the more idols you’re worshiping and the less you’re locked tight on Him.

Morgan Cheek has no choice.  She cannot “do” being a Mama to those two little girls alone.  She’s desperate for a Savior and she’s seated at the table He has prepared for her and those girls in the midst of her enemies.  The road ahead looks daunting and it is but in the swirling vortex of the enemies that surround her, there is a table and The Good King prepared it and sits there with her.

Push into this.  What does this say to you?  Where are you in this.  

Let me hear from you.

 

 

Wholeness – Forgiveness

The natural progression of unforgiveness goes something like this…

Wrong –>   Offense –>   Hurt –>   Anger –>   Bitterness –>   Producing destructive effects

Forgiving is release.  It is breaking this progression that leads to all the destructive effects.  It is letting the prisoner go and all to many times, that prisoner is myself.  I’m a prisoner to my unforgiveness of others.  The person I refuse to forgive lives rent free in my mind and too often, they don’t even realize they’ve offended us.  But I’m carrying it around with me and I rage and battle against them.  I rehearse speeches for that day when I will confront them and tell them all they’ve done to hurt me.  I avoid them in public or speak ill against them to others hoping – just hoping – they finally get the punishment they are due.

It’s a losing game.  And I’m the one who loses.  I’m the one it eats up.

And God wants me to release it and forgive.  And once I do…

“Like flipping a light switch in a dark room that allows power to flow through the wires and light to fill the room, forgiveness allows God’s grace to flow into a broken relationship and bring healing.”

Now, forgiveness is not forgetting.  It is not overlooking or excusing the offense nor is it rationalizing or justifying what happened.  It is also not taking the blame.  There are consequences for our actions and one of those is that folks tend to remember.  They may forgive you but the memory is there as a protective buffer.  They may forgive you but their guard may forever be up. Forgiveness does not mean they will immediately or fully trust you.  You can’t rail against them for that.  You did it.  One of the consequences of your actions is they may never forget.  But mercifully, they can forgive.

the slides from this morning are here –> Manschool – Wholeness 6 – forgiveness 3  In here, you’ll see some great steps to getting to forgiveness.  Especially the prayer Derrick shared with us …

Lord, I recognize that You have totally forgiven me.  You have commanded me to forgive others just as You have forgiven me.   I chose to forgive _________for _______ (actions and effects).  I ask that you forgive me for not forgiving as You commanded.  Help me to reconcile my relationship with _______.  I choose to release this hurt and anger and I release _________ from any debt owed me.  In the authority and name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I take back any ground I have allowed Satan to gain in my life because of this conflict.  I ask this in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

And lastly, if you want to know what forgiveness looks like, watch these two powerful short videos about a mother who lost her daughter to a drunk driver.  Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…

 

“me” has to die (part 2)

The root of all sin is “me”.  It is self.  It is your flesh.  It is the “immediate”.  It explains why we have all this credit card debt.  “I want it, I get it, I figure out how to pay for it later”.  I justify.  I rationalize.  “I need this”.  “I deserve this”.  “Why can he have a 70 inch HDTV but I can’t?”  “Everyone else does this, why can’t I?”

Go back and re-read that first paragraph and look at all the I’s.   Me, me, me, it’s all about me.  That’s a pathway to death.  Living for “me” is sin and it’ll take you places you never wanted to go and extract a cost from you that you never wanted to pay.

Me-first explains why we don’t tithe.  Tithing is a radical statement of faith that my money will not own me.  By giving it away (giving first), I am standing in defiance of “me first” and my flesh.  I’m radically surrendering Lordship of my money over to God.  It is surrender.

Surrender is the very opposite of sin/me/flesh.  Surrender is Lordship.  It is acknowledging I am not master of my life and in fact, if left unchecked, my flesh will consume my life and all those around me that I love.  Surrender is acknowledging that if left to my own devices, I’d consume like locusts.  Surrender is admitting you’re weak.  It’s a beautiful thing.   In my weakness, God is strong.  

Some guys can drink and escape the risks.  Others of us have no business drinking.  It’s too wide an open door.  There is too much risk.  Maybe alcoholism runs in your family and you’ve bought the lie that you’re immune to the risks.  No one is immune to risk.  We have an enemy who does not fight fair and is the master of all lies and if you don’t think you’ll ever get hooked, you’re buying a lie. Some guys don’t really struggle with pornography.  But others of us know it is a vast weak spot and if tempted, we will take the bait.  In truth, no man is immune to it.  If you’ve ever looked at it, you struggle with it.  If you’ve ever looked at it, there is a temptation to go back.  That’s what Satan does.  His hooks cut deep and have big barbs on them.  Getting them out of your flesh is hard.

Sexual temptation, pornography, sending Facebook friend requests to pretty neighbors, flirting, wondering/wandering is “me”.  Taking a few drinks every night to numb the pain and escape.  Toys. Overspending.  Overeating.  Carrying around rage, envy, hatred, comparison, jealousy.  These are all about me and my needs and finding stimulation elsewhere from God.

Satan will use any and all to take you down.  “Be on alert, your enemy, the Devil, prowls around like a hungry lion looking for someone to devour.”  Flirt with that pretty sales rep who calls on you and think you’ve above it?  Don’t kid yourself.  He knows your weaknesses and he’s just looking for an open door.  “Please Bubba, please give me an open door, just take a second look, send her a text, send her a friend request, agree to go to lunch with her.  It won’t hurt anyone.”  He’s prowling around and you may be his lunch.

Go back and look at the post from October 5, 2016.  Watch the Louie Giglio talk again.  Remember that talk.  Don’t forget it.  God prepares a table for you in the midst of your enemies.  (don’t kid yourself, God himself is telling you that your enemies surround you)  The table is there.  There is all this chaos swirling around — it’s just you and God.  He wants you focused on Him.  His provision is there.  Just keep your eyes on Him.  Those temptations will come and it is when you turn in your chair from facing God and start engaging in those conversations in the chaos is when you get in trouble.  “Self” is going to want to turn to those temptations.  “Me” is going to get bored with God and turn to the shiny lures.

“Me” … has to die.  Battling sin is first acknowledging it and second, repenting it.  I must first own it without any rationalizing or justifying.  There is no justifying sin.  Then, I must turn from it.  Repent = turn from.  180 degree U-turn.  Flee from it.  Run.  Quit drinking.  Be willing to go get help if you need it.  Own it.  Close your Facebook account.  Put the filters on your laptop and give your wife full access to it and your phone.  Never, ever go to lunch or dinner with another woman.  Purge any and all avenues that are potentially open doors.

Will it be fun?  No.  Is it needed?  Absolutely.  If you want God to restore, you’re going to have to take some bold steps.  He will meet you there.  All this mess in your life?  God can turn a mess into a miracle.  You just have to be willing to kill “me”.  Listen to this song and especially John Piper’s words in the middle of it.  God’s slaying of “me” is serving a purpose.  He’s not asking anything of you that His Son hasn’t overcome.  God is calling us to slay self so He can work His Divine purpose in and through our lives.  Remember in your weakness, He is strong…

You’re saved. Why don’t you believe it?

Actions speak louder than words.  Many of us say we are saved (and we are) but we live like we’re not.  We live under a blanket of condemnation and shame.  It comes from the enemy, the words and opinions of others and it comes from our own mistakes.  Watch the testimony from Big Daddy Weave about how he was living out his faith …

His entire life, he’d stamped the word “failure” over himself.  He opened a door to the enemy to come in and hold that over him.  Mike made an “agreement” that we talk so much about in Manschool.  He listened to the wrong voice.  He lost 84 pounds in a year but didn’t hit his goal of 90 pounds and so, immediately, shame and “failure” set in upon him.  The weight piled back on.

And then, one day at his lowest point, he asked God, “Why can’t I love myself?”  The Holy Spirit came upon his heart and said, “Mike, you need to let me tell you what I think about you for once.”  And God loved him there in that moment.  That encounter was the inspiration for the song “Redeemed”.

Derrick reminded us this morning that our brokenness is not the end of our story.  God desires to heal us and make us whole.  It is a process of sanctification.  The offer of restoration is freely given to all who believe and profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  Psalm 32 (see the earlier post) reminds us that He “took away the guilt/shame of our sin”.

Salvation is the path to wholeness.  You ARE saved.  Live like it!  Humble yourself to the magnitude of the GRACE extended to you upon the Cross!  Because He so loved you … He gave it all.

Wholeness comes.  Rejoice!  It starts with the immediate.  The moment you surrendered and invited Jesus into your heart, the process of wholeness started in your life.  But, you were not whole in that moment.  Keith reminded us that the minute you say “I do”, you are a husband.  But… you have no clue what truly being a husband is all about.  That comes over your lifetime. The same is true with wholeness.  It starts with salvation.  In that moment, God sees us as whole through Jesus but He also starts the process of making us whole.  So, it is immediate and then it comes over time.  We don’t get fully there in this life.  In eternity, the construction will be complete and we’ll be fully restored, fully whole.

Ask Him.  Ask Father what He thinks about you.  Take the question of who you are to the ONE who created you.  He thinks you’re amazing.  It’s time to start believing Him.

I am broken – wholeness (1)

Many of us have been sleepwalking through life due to the nature of this fallen world, the mistakes of our past and an enemy who keeps throwing this junk at us.  The enemy wants you asleep at the switch.  He wants you in denial.  He wants you turning to medication.

God wants more. Just imagine what it would look like for God to break through in your life and your family.  Ask him to do “immeasurably more” (Eph 3:20)

If we will allow Him, God will show us the compromises we’ve made in our lives, the idols we turn to and the past hurts which have shaped us.  You’re either growing in wholeness or moving in brokenness.  Growing in wholeness is not a destination.  It’s a journey.  It’s a process.  We will not get “there” in this life.  This is a call to wholeness, not perfection.  It is being restored and put back together.  It starts with owning the specific brokenness in my life.  Judging others, constantly measuring myself vs. others and putting myself above others, etc.

You’ve heard of the clinical term of dissociation.  It’s a survival mechanism.  It’s a gift in our design from God to provide a path of survival for us in a trauma until we can come of age and get the resources we need to be able to go back and deal with it.  It is why we may block things out of our memory until such a time that a safe place has been provided to bring it out.  One of the ways God gives us to heal is our ability to name our story truthfully.  Not diminish it but to name it to one or a few safe people.  The more you’re able to tell your story truthfully will be the extent to which you’ll be able to heal.

The Holy Spirit tells us He desires truth in our innermost being (Psalm 51:6) “You desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.”  Denying reality is a gift – for a time – for your protection.  But there comes a time where we need to grow up and with Jesus step into more and more healing.  There comes a time to come clean and own it.

Almost everyone has had some impactive trauma in their life (and thus, going on in their body). How it manifests is going to be very, very different.  Like a young boy whose father left the family and there was nothing the boy could do to stop it.  He had sensations in his body he had to deal with – and – likely, he had to shut down and dissociate because of deep anxiety or feeling sick to his stomach or rage that was overwhelming.  So, he shut down and now it contributes in his adult life.  He may not possess the range of emotions in him that God intended for him to have and it might be causing all sorts of issues i.e. his wife saying “Why are you so unavailable to me emotionally?”

It’s a lot to unpack with the Father but know this – Jesus wants healing for your heart.  Jesus is all about restoration and nothing is beyond His reach.  Nothing is too difficult, nothing is too old for Him, nothing is ever too broken or out of His reach.

In the beginning, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed.  Transparent and vulnerable.  Nothing to fear, nothing to hide.  Free will gave us the chance to choose God or choose self.  Sin came.  They went to hiding, fear and danger.  Jesus came to restore us.  Isaiah 61:1 “The Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to the prisoners.”  Jesus claimed this verse for his ministry.

Are you poor?  Are you brokenhearted?  Are you captive to darkness?  Mourning?  World seems to be ashes?  Are you in despair?  Jesus says He came to give you life and give it to abundantly.

I am broken.  Own it.  What are the signs?

            Stressed out trying to be everything others expect me to be?

            Do you battle fear and anxiety on a regular basis?

            Feel numb to life more often than you’d like to admit?

            Do you go long stretches where there is little or no joy in your heart?

            Accused of being driven and you don’t even know why you’re so driven?

            Or do you hold back and never take risks

            Are you thin skinned and easily offended?

            Afraid of relationships and intimacy?  Of being transparent and being known?

            Do you turn to relief instead of restoration?

            Plagued by bitterness, resentment, guilt or regret?  Cynical about life?

            Are there things you can’t stop doing but no matter how hard you try?

These are symptoms – they point to the disease.  What are some of the sources?

  1. My own sinful choices.  Decisions I’ve made that have brought great pain into my life.  I can’t shift the blame to anyone else.  Sin destroys and fractures our souls.
  2. Other’s sins.  Sin impacts a lot of others around us.  Some of us have deep hurts and wounds because of the sinful choices of others.
  3. Living in a fallen world.  Death, illness, crime, the economy.  They collect in our soul.
  4. The Enemy.  He deceives us.  Lies to your face.  He will do whatever it takes to keep us in our brokenness.

What do we tend to do with our brokenness?

  1. Deny.  We rationalize or shift the blame.  Or we stuff it in denials.
  2. Hide. “Everybody is desperately insecure.  Deep down, we are all convinced that if people knew who we really are, they would reject us.  So, we find ways to hide or cover our perceived weaknesses.”  (Paul Tournier)  We hide in all kinds of ways.  We isolate. We pose – living an act, putting on a mask hoping we can fool everyone.
  3. Perform.  Perform to overcome our brokenness.  We become perfectionists.  Our identity becomes the things we do, how we perform.  Just another way of hiding.

None of these will heal our brokenness.  The only way to do that is to take it to God.

  1. We must first own it.  Psalm 32:5 “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity … and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
  2. Embrace it.  Embrace the reality that I am broken and need God’s healing.  Enemy lies to us about the very fact that we are broken.  Paul says, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”  God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.  As long as we fight weakness and do everything we can to show that I am not, we will continue down the road to brokenness.
  3. Submit it.  We cannot move to wholeness without going through total surrender to God.  Wholeness begins in surrendering it to God.
  4. Receive God’s provision.  His promise is to make me whole.  He will keep His promise. It may be immediately, it may be over time but He will not leave us alone.  He will restore!

The Gospel brings beauty out of brokenness.  God is working everything for our good.  The painful times sharpen us and draw us into deeper relationship with Him.  God’s plans are good.  But we must trust His timing, not ours.

Humility & Grace and a final challenge for you…

Humility is the primary virtue God looks for when He chooses someone to advance His kingdom.

Philippians 2:3-10 —  “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.  Everyone should look out not only for their own interests, but also for the interests of others.  Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for his own advantage.  Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men.  And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death – even to death on a cross.”

Humility is ultimately expressed by choosing the posture of a servant.  The servant’s ultimate act of humility is they make their life a sacrifice for the good of others.  Jesus teaches us that a leader should serve his people.  But more than that, He teaches us a view of God that radically transforms our thinking.  Up until this moment in history, the gods were gods of power, might, fury and wisdom.  Jesus revealed that God is the purest form of humility.  Servant wasn’t new to God.  Humility was the path of God.

Matthew 11:29 — “Take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.”   The heart of God is gentle and humble.  God is a servant.  This is the quality of God we desire the least.  Servanthood is not an elevated status.  We think it is beneath God and we hope it is beneath us.

So, if this is who God is, it makes sense who He will choose and that is, the person who chooses the heart of God, he who chooses to be humble of spiritJames 4 – “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”  Humility is the attribute at the core God is looking for when He is choosing people.  Moses was chosen by God not because he was the most skilled but … Numbers 12:3 – “Moses was more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”

God will not reject you if you’re too messed up.  You may be a mess but God does amazing things through messy people.  Broken?  God takes broken people and does amazing things through them.  Lifetime of failure?  God will not oppose you because you’re a failure, broken, not educated enough, not talented enough but God will shelve you… if you’re too proud.  God rejects the arrogant, not the sinful.

We want to be great and Jesus has a process for that  —  it is to be the servant of all.  That’s OK.  I’m happy to be a servant for now so that I can get to be great.  “if you want to be first, you must be last.”  Yes!  I’ll be last … so I can be first.  But that isn’t what Jesus means.  We’re all OK with this as long as it looks like a Jesus J-curve.  That is, I’m willing to be a servant and go down … for a while … as long as the curve turns and I eventually get to be great.

                                                                                Eventually

jcurve

  “least…last…servant”

But Jesus thinks greatness is servanthood.  Humility is the final destination.  Choosing to be last, is first.  The seat that chooses humility, servanthood and sacrifice is the seat of most honor.  The most extraordinary thing Jesus taught us about humility is that God is humble and because we’re created in His image and likeness, our souls thrive in humility.

It is only the humble that God entrusts with His power and glory.

The “incurvatus” man – that man that is curved in upon himself, focused on his needs, his desires, his agenda, his pain, his circumstances – that man is arrogant, self-centered, self-advancing.  The Excurvatus man – that man that is living outward for others, emptying himself so others can advance – at his core, when you meet a man like that, you will know his humility.  The brash, arrogant, self-promoting man seems to be the man that gets ahead in this life.  Yet, it is the humble man, the man that chooses the seat of least honor, that gives his money and talents away so others can advance, it is that man who gets “ahead” in the Kingdom to come.  It is that man who lives out and understands grace.  He understands all power is bestowed and from dirt he came and to the dirt he will return.  He knows God’s favor upon him is of no doing of his own.  He didn’t earn it.  It was given to him, freely by a God that humbled Himself even to death upon the Cross.

In the movie Les Miserables, we see such a picture.  A picture of grace.  Jean Val Jean is a criminal. He toils away for 19 years in a rock quarry of his sin.  He’s in the darkness.  He’s encouraged to knock upon a certain door and the Bishop answers the door and invites him in.  He is fed and given a bed for the night but Jean turns back to his sin despite God’s pursuit of him.  He steals the silver and leaves the light and enters back into darkness.  Later he is arrested and brought back to the Bishop (God).  He is redeemed.  Set free.  The treasure freely given to him.  Ransomed from a life of fear and hatred.

And so men, as we end The Best of Manschool, here is the call to you.  What will you do? What will you be?  The bag of silver has been thrust back into your chest.  Given to you. Unearned.  Unmerited favor just handed to you.  Before, you were a criminal.  We all were. We toiled away in our sin and God opened the door and let us in and blessed us with a bag of silver (salvation).  Now, I must ask you … what are you going to do with it?  Will your life from this day forward be all about you and your advancement … or … will you take up the heart of a servant and willingly, freely, happily give up all the treasure of this temporary world so you can go forth and advance the Kingdom of God?  

Will you?