Have You Done All You Could?

What You Could


            I love having my parents back from Africa.  They live just 4 miles away, and so I often find myself driving there to hang out with them.  I call them, text them, and I just love it. Another perk for having them back, is in how they both challenge me, and encourage me.  It’s so wonderful to be able to ask them questions about the ministry, and get their guidance and encouragement, but also because they are my parents, they feel free to ask me the hard questions.

The other day, while doing his devotions, my dad was reading in the Gospel of Mark.  I’m sure he’s read this chapter thousands of times, and I’m sure many of you have too, but while reading this time, his eyes were struck by 5 words Jesus spoke.

Let’s turn our Bibles to Mark 14:1-9

14 Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”

3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

My dad is in his 60’s, so he’s supposed to be easing up on the gas.  My mom is, according to her, in her late 30’s, but she too should be easing up.  However, when they look at these Scriptures, they are inspired to do more.  Instead of winding down, they are ramping it up a notch.  Why?

“She Did What She Could”

As those around the situation watched this woman break open this expensive bottle of perfume, and anoint Jesus, washing his feet, they were incensed.  But in verse 8, Jesus’ five words just rock us to our core:

“She did what she could”

This woman did all that she could!

My dad sat with Megan and me, and at 62, proclaimed, “I haven’t done all I can do.”  This is the same guy who pastored for many years in the states.  This is the same guy who has planted many churches in a country where no Assembly of God church ever existed, yet he refuses to sit on his laurels.  He refuses to wind down.  He refuses to prop up his feet in his really comfortable recliner and watch hours and hours of Fox News on his ridiculously amazing LG Super Amazing Picture TV that is probably the number 1 reason I go over there to visit!  Why? Because he has not done all he could.

I have not done all I could do!  When I was a youth pastor I wasn’t in the schools enough.  I didn’t go enough to their games.  I didn’t go enough to their plays.  I didn’t spent enough time in prayer for the students.  I didn’t disciple them enough.  I did not do all that I could.

Have You Done All You Can?

So let me ask you tonight, have you done all that you could?

Have you worshipped all that you could?

This woman poured out her most prized possession in worship of Christ.  And I’m not saying we need to come in here with our bottle of Acqua di Gio, Chanel no. 5, or even our Brut aftershave, but what about our pride?  Are you holding on to your pride, refusing to let go of it, and because of that, not worshipping with all that you could?  She poured out her all for Christ in worship, have you?

Have you given all that you could?

I haven’t.  I love to golf.  I love to do triathlons.  I love to do cycling events.  I love to get 42oz sodas from Hy-Vee, but it’s hard for me to give.  So can I do more? Yes.  Can you? Probably.

You may be reading this, and you want to give more, but you give yourself an out all the time.  I hear this one at school sometimes, and I even heard myself say it once: “I’ll give to the church and to mission when I get out of school and am pastoring or working full time.” Guess what? No I won’t.  You may have made a similar deal. Perhaps, you have said you’ll give when your kids are out of college, or give when you’ve bought your daughters prom dress, or give when your kids are out of the house.  But you probably won’t.  There will always be an excuse not to give.  Trust me, I’ve used them all!  Yet, this woman gave all that she could! She did not make an excuse. 

She could have saved that nice perfume for her wedding day.  But she didn’t.

She could have saved that perfume to pass down to another generation. But she didn’t.

She gave all that she could! Have you?

Have You Shared Christ, With All That You Could?

Finally, have you shared Christ with all those that you could?

Have you shared him with those in your family that do not know him?

Have you shared him with those that you work with that do not know him?

Have you shared him with those who live next to you, down your block, in your apartment complex, and play sports with your kids?

Have you told all that you could?



Another Doggone Noah Blog For Ya

I don’t know if you have heard about it, but just a couple of weeks ago this little movie came out.  Paramount Pictures spent a ton of money on it, and I’m sure they were hoping that this epic tale would roll up Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and Titanic all in one two hour movie.  I’m sure you have figured it out by now, but just in case you didn’t, I’m not talking about The Lego Movie, I’m talking about Noah.

A few Sunday’s back, I was driving to Hy-Vee for lunch after church, and had the Top 20 countdown show on the radio.  On a side note, do you all realize how many Christian bands are trying to sound like Mumford and Sons?  Well, during one of the commercial breaks, they had a radio trailer about the movie.  Now, I’ve seen a lot of movie trailers, and I’ve heard a few on the radio, but what made this trailer different than any other I have ever heard was the disclaimer at the end of it.  In a really quick and quiet voice, the voice said: “Though based on the Bible, artistic license has been used.”

So this morning, you may have questions on what aspects of the story of Noah and the flood the producers of the movie used their license.  What I hope to do for you over the next few weeks is simply tell you what the Bible says.  So let’s get into it, by going in our Bibles to Genesis 6:9-22.

6:9-This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. 10 Noah was the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Noah was a righteous man. The word used here for righteous is tsaddiq, and this verse is the first time that it’s used in the Bible.  He lived his every day, ordinary life in a way that pleased God.  He didn’t do it for fame.  He didn’t do it for prosperity.  All we see is that he did it.

He was blameless.  He was a man of integrity.  When God looked at the life of Noah, he saw a human being that did what was right in the sight of God, and did it consistently.  Not just when he felt like it, or when he thought he might get something for it.  He just lived it!

And he walked in close fellowship with God.  He chose friendship with God over friendship with the world.  James 4:4 says that if you are a friend of the world, you are an enemy of God, and the world that James is talking about is not the trees, rivers and grass, but the value system and worldview that people choose.  Noah chose to share the value system with God.  He chose to be of one mind, and one soul with God.  He chose God’s plan, and God’s way of living.  So God chose him!

In sharp contrast to the description of Noah, (righteous, blameless, walks with God), the narrator describes the rest of humanity as corrupt, and violent.

6:11-12: Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt.

So how corrupt were they? Well, when you want to emphasize a point with someone you repeat it right? Notice how many times the writer uses the word “corrupt” in this short passage. THREE TIMES.  “The earth had become corrupt.” “God observed all this corruption.” “Everyone on earth was corrupt.”  I think it’s safe to say that these folks were pretty corrupt.  Noah was blameless and righteous, and these dudes were the complete opposite.  Their corruption knew no boundaries.  Whereas seeking righteousness provides boundaries and guidelines for life, corruption just wants to break down those rules and expectations at every turn.

We’re not talking about a few people living this way either! EVERYONE was living this way….except Noah. Despite all of this corruption and violence, God would not abandon the earth, because he knew that he had one man he could count on!

God Provides a Plan

6:13-21: So God said to Noah, “I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth!

“Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior. Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Leave an 18-inch opening below the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat—lower, middle, and upper.

Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die. But I will confirm my covenant with you. So enter the boat—you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring a pair of every kind of animal—a male and a female—into the boat with you to keep them alive during the flood. Pairs of every kind of bird, and every kind of animal, and every kind of small animal that scurries along the ground, will come to you to be kept alive. And be sure to take on board enough food for your family and for all the animals.”

God lets Noah know what’s going on in his heart.  He lets him know what he’s about to do.  Since humanity has ruined the earth, God is going to ruin humanity.  God’s got a plan, though, and he is going to use Noah to accomplish it.  So God interrupts Noah’s plans, so that Noah can be a part of his.

Now, let’s go back to the description of Noah a few verses earlier.  He is righteous.  He is blameless.  He is consistent.  I have looked at every definition of those words, and I have looked at every other alternative definition from the original Hebrew and nowhere can I find anything that describes Noah as being some amazing shipbuilder, a good sea hand, a licensed zookeeper, or anything else that would provide for him the human tools for the job.  So God gives him the instructions.  God gives him the blueprint.  God covers even the minor details.  Why? Because God is in control.  Noah cannot do this on his own.

God tells him how to build the ark.  He tells him what kind of wood to use.  He describes how to waterproof it.  He gives Noah the interior design plans.  He sets the dimensions that the ark needs to be, and gives the exact placement of the roof and the door.

God doesn’t leave Noah hanging on the rest of the plan either.  God tells him exactly who can come on the boat with him, and what animals he needs to bring along for the ride.  Now, I don’t miss a meal, in fact, I schedule my day around my nutrition, so God might not have needed to remind me of the last detail he gives to Noah to me, but he made sure to remind Noah to bring some food for the trip.  I wonder if Noah’s wife is like mine and made sure that he got some salt and vinegar chips because they go great with travel (although they stink up the whole car!).

God gave Noah the plan.  Then Noah had a choice.  He could either follow the instructions exactly the way God prescribed, or he could pick and choose which ones he wanted to follow, and which ones he could choose to ignore.  What did he do?

6:22- So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.

Noah did everything exactly as God commanded him.  He followed the easy instructions, and he followed the hard ones.  He followed the ones he could understand, and he followed the ones that made no sense to him.  He simply did what God commanded him to do.

God gives us a plan to.  He gives us instruction.  He gives us commands.  So what do we do?  Do we pick and choose?  Do we do the easy ones?  Do we ignore the hard ones?  What do we do?

We live in a world that tells us to choose what makes us happy.  A world that tells us to take the easy way out.  A world that tells us that if something is hard, then it is not worth doing. So this mindset has crept into the Church, as well.  We pick and choose what makes us feel good, making Christianity about us, and what God wants to do for us, and how God wants to make us feel good, look good, and get rich.  So we ignore the instruction and plan God gave us in the first place.

“Go and make disciples.” But that’s hard!

“Love your neighbor.” But she’s a meany head!

“Pray for those who persecute you.” But I want them to die!

“Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind and soul.” But I need to save some of my heart for the St. Louis Cardinals, or for the real heathen in the bunch, Dallas Cowboys.

Noah did exactly what God told him to do without question.  He just did it.  God’s got a plan for you too, so what is your answer.  When God gives you instructions, when God gives you his plan for your life your yes or your no impacts eternity.  What is your answer?  What will you do?