Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Do the Math! The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Part I)

 Here we go!

Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him.  Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.  When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.  Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 

In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart. (Matt. 18:23-35)

In Matthew 18, Jesus calls a little child whose humility demonstrates what is essential for greatness in heaven.  He denounces those who would cause these "little ones" to sin and how if any part of you causes you to sin, get rid of it.  He continues with "See that you do not look down on one of these little ones," and how their angels in heaven are always watchful.  He tells a parable about a man who diligently searches for one sheep who has wandered off from the flock, and how His Father is "not willing that any of these little ones should be lost."

Wow.  Children, who are the weakest members of any society, have a special place in Jesus' heart.  Their love and faith brings a smile to the Father's heart, and they become a model for us.  Jesus then starts to teach about if a brother sins against you, what are you to do?  Most people do not have that child-like humility, and if we want to serve Him, forgiveness must be part of our daily lives.  Listen to Jesus' plan of restoration:  

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’  If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17)

Isn't interesting that if you didn't know Jesus, this sounds like a sanctioned pharisaical action against those who just can't listen to reason.  In other words, Jesus is allowing us to kick them to the curb.  But how did Jesus treat pagans and tax collectors?  He started at the beginning of the faith He was promoting:  He loved them in spite of the darkness they were walking in.  He modelled a life of faith.  He was kind.  In other words, He allowed His Father to work in their lives, knowing that a tax collector could become a Matthew and a pagan like a Luke. 

We must allow the Spirit to convict people of sin.  Our job is to model a life in the Kingdom.  But in order to function on a sin-saturated planet, we have to be forgiving, because people are so slow to open their eyes and really see their lives.   

We see sin for what it is:  it binds, blinds, and confines people.  We have to handle the sinner with wisdom and compassion, knowing their soul is in danger. Why?  We have the power of God, but it is to be used for the Kingdom, not pridefully, but to warn, love and forgive:  

Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.  Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

Another wow. We have His presence, His power and His prerogative. I am sure that the disciples are feeling quite empowered at this point... Look at what we can do! We have this amazing power, brought to us by the Son of God! We are humbled and yet, look at what we can do! Stop. Peter, whose sensitivity to Jesus is quite profound, realizes that with all this power comes responsibility. He suddenly feels some urging by the Spirit. He is probably harboring some anger or hurt at a fellow believer, and senses the incompatibility between his sin and Jesus' words: 

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.' (Matthew 18:21-22) 

In other words, Jesus is saying that you have the power to bind and to loosen, but the greatest power you can unlease on behalf of the Kingdom is forgiveness.   

Then Jesus tells this parable about a king.   

Jesus is saying that forgiveness is not based on the level of the offense itself, how much it has hurt you or how much remorse (or lack thereof) has been shown by the one who has transgressed.  The standard of forgiveness is Who is offended:  God Himself.  

The king takes what people owe him very seriously.  One of his servants owes him a lot and Levitical law allows for such a person to be sold off for seven years, to pay the debt.  It is the modern equivalent to the bank repossessing your house or car due to non-payment.   

The next servant sees the king's righteous judgment against the first servant.  He senses the king's judicious ruling and begs for mercy.  He wants to pay the debt but needs more time.   The king goes even further than that: He cancels the debt altogether.  The servant walks out a free man.  It is the king to whom he owed and it is the king that forgives the debt.  The king is satisfied and so should the servant be as well.

But nooooo.  The servant goes out and finds another servant who owes him a far lesser amount.  He chokes the guy, aggressively demanding money.   This guy also begs for time.  If the forgiven servant is debt-free, then why is he so aggressive?  The money owed to him is his own; he need not use it to pay the king.  He has the guy thrown into jail--no mercy, no time extension, no willingness to extend any grace.  The parable could have ended there.

The king reenters the scene, due to the other servants telling him of this servant's aggressive action.  The king quickly hunts this servant down, for the servant's meanness is a transgression ultimately against the king.  The king's mercy is to be evinced in how this servant treats others.  The servant's unmerciful attitude is thwarting the values of the king.  The king is angry and reminds him of just how large the debt was and how much mercy this servant thus received.

When we forgive, we must keep our debt in mind as we examine the debt owed to us by someone else.  We have been forgiven much...our King paid the debt we owe with His life.  Yes, we have been hurt, wronged, violated...but when we compare the enormity of the mercy He gives us, what others owe us is rather small. 

Jesus cried out to forgive the very ones who had nailed Him to the cross.  He forgave the Romans, the Jews and, you and me. 

We have every right to demand payment from the ones who hurt us. But as we look into the face of the King upon the cross, we need to hear the words:  "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

We have been forgiven much.  What kind of servant will we be as we face those who have transgressed against us? 


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

The Holy Spirit’s "Round-Up”: The Weeds and Tares

Here we go! 

The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ (Matt. 13:24:-30)

In Matthew, Chapter 13, look how the disciples question Jesus' teaching method: 

The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables:

    'Though seeing, they do not see;

    though hearing, they do not hear or understand.'

In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

    ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;

    you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.

    For this people’s heart has become calloused;

    they hardly hear with their ears,

    and they have closed their eyes.

    Otherwise they might see with their eyes,

    hear with their ears,

    understand with their hearts

    and turn, and I would heal them.'

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

Can you hear their longing to understand?  Yes, the disciples are concerned about the people who gather, but perhaps the question really is, Why do You teach in such a roundabout way?  Can't You just tell us, straight up, what the truth is? Look at Moses...he told the people exactly what to do, when to do it and how to do it.  Simple and direct.  If You are the One that the prophets spoke of, why must You speak in stories? 

Fair enough.  But Jesus didn't answer them from the His own position:  Yes, He is like Moses, in that He is giving a "new" law--He is refocusing the attention away from doing the Law to having it "written on their hearts" as Jeremiah foretold.  He uses Isaiah as His base of teaching operations:  How the people respond is a sign of the state of their hearts.  "Calloused hearts" are impervious to the truth.  Just being a member of the Chosen People is not enough--this is not a club. 

Why "calloused?"  Sin.  Pure and simple.

The disciples are being trained to walk with God, not just do the Law and assume He is satisfied.  Jesus is trying to recreate, in the hearts of His disciples, a new law of Love--for God and for one another.  So, the disciples are given the interpretation from the Author Himself.  Jesus will quote Isaiah again in Matthew 15 when He says:  "The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught" (Isaiah 29:13).  In other words, intimacy with the Father has been smothered under rules made up by sinful men and Jesus is reclaiming the people's hearts with His words.  Sadly, the calloused condition of them is reaffirming their need for the truth. Not "a truth" from the lips of men, the The Truth"--from God's very own Son.

So, after the Parable of the Sower, Jesus launches into another harvest parable.  Harvests don't just happen...they take a lot of work and diligence on the part of the farmers.  The time the seed goes into the ground, how much sun and rain will come and how well the field is maintained all contribute to the final goal:  to reap bountifully.  A careful dutiful farmer will have abundance and a lazy farmer will have scarcity.  In an age where the harvests' outcome meant the difference between literal feast and famine, irresponsible farmers were a liability and the people would pay dearly.  So, farms were at the community's center.  The food grown there would affect everyone.  Not everyone was a farmer, but the farmer affected everyone.  So, let's see where Jesus goes with this parable.

This spiritual farm is at the center of the community's heart.  The farmer here is responsible; he choose "good seed."  He put it in the ground at the right time, confident in the sun and rain to bring it to fruition.  Note that the danger comes while "everyone is sleeping."  Hmmm....sleeping on the job?  Lulled into a false slumber of righteousness?  Thinking that doing the Law was enough? 

The enemy never sleeps...he is always on the lookout to cause havoc.  Who is the enemy?  Well, ultimately it is Satan, of course, whose very name means "adversary" and his other name, Devil, means "the accuser."  Those names covers his operations well.  But people can also, in the hardness of sin, perpetuate Satan's agenda, by leading themselves and others away from God's truth.

Notice the sowing by the enemy isn't noticed until the wheat springs up.  Evil starts as an idea...something that is contrary to God, unnoticed on the outside, but slowly growing and germinating in the soil of the heart.  It soon springs up and may not be as obvious in the life of an individual at first.  The NIV comments that the weeds are probably darnel, which looks like wheat when it is immature.  It is only when the darnel sprouts its kernels that you know it is not wheat.

So, notice in order to know what is truly sown by the good Farmer and what is sown by the Evil One, look at the fruit!  Jesus is compassionate enough to know that the people listening to Him are not entirely responsible for their callousness: They have teachers who have furthered Satan's agenda by destroying  intimacy with God with rules and regulations and their own willingness to chase after sin.  Ultimately, though, Satan is behind it. 

With this, Jesus is reminding the disciples that God never intended for His planet to be a polluted field.  The enemy gained a foothold here because Adam and Eve choose to act on an alternative plan:  making their own decisions and leading lives out of step with God.  So, Jesus, in effect, has come to reclaim His Father's fields.

Now, let's consider what the disciples are thinking:  Oh, boy!  WE get to get out the scythes and start whacking that wheat!  Take that, Satan!  Take that, Pharisees!  Take that, you sinners!

NO.  Jesus is not creating a new set of Pharisees.  The disciples would fall prey to the same temptation to tell others how to live for God, instead of gently pointing them to the One Who will guide and strengthen their souls.  The servants must serve and the angels, under the direction of the Father, will harvest. 

So, what exactly is our job?  

Teach the Word in its fullness:  no cherry-picking comforting verses and excluding the uncomfortable ones.  

Serve and love:  let the Spirit convict of sin--let Him apply Round-Up to the sinner's heart.  Know that God is faithful:  He will accomplish His will on earth as it is in heaven.  

Rest in the knowledge that He will return: sin and suffering, praise God, have an expiration date.

How does this parable finish up?

Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.’

He answered, ‘The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.’ (Matt. 13:36-43)

Jesus wanted to make sure that the disciples' dulled hearts (and ours!) got the message.  Did they?  Do we? 






Monday, July 11, 2022

On Guard! The Parable of The Watchful Servants

 Here we go!

Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Luke 12:35-40)

As Jesus finishes the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12, He then goes on to teach about God's provision:  "Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes" (12:22).  He then reminds His disciples of how God clothes the grass and feeds the birds, and that worry over such matters will not "add a single hour" to their lives.  He lovingly enjoins them to "seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you."

He then says,

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (12:32-4) 

The young man wanting to have Jesus settle a dispute over his inheritance, the Pharisees whose hearts had been captured by the world, and the disciples, who are learning from Jesus just how challenging the future will be and yet how God will provide for them, now hear this parable of the watchful servants.  The question here is, "Where is your heart?"

The crowds that follow Jesus are starving for some spiritual morsels:  Their hearts are searching for some revelation of Who God really is.  Some in the crowd are no doubt curious to see what Jesus was all about: Their hearts for searching for some novelty, a distraction from the boredom of everyday life.

The young man is looking for justice:  his heart longs for the security that the inheritance money will provide him.  His heart is also scarred by distrust--obviously he asks Jesus for help because he really didn't trust his own brother to settle accounts fairly.

The disciples' hearts are calmed by Jesus emphasizing His Father's superintendence of His creation:  He provides food for the birds who are far less valuable to Him than His own children.  Jesus wants their hearts to be set on higher things, not beset by worry over the workings of everyday life.  A heart can be so burdened that often God's voice is silenced.

The Pharisees' hearts are so imbued with pride that it is all about them.  God's voice has been silenced by the sin of pride, of self-sufficiency and of desiring the approval of men.  Not just any men:  the crowds were useless sinners who needed to get right with God, and the Pharisees, of course, would determine just what that "right" meant.  The Pharisees' hearts craved approval from each other and the powerful ruling elites in their own circle, and with the Romans.  If the Pharisees acted as if the masses were completely under the Pharisees' control, the Romans would leave them alone. 

Why all of this emphasis on the heart?  What we love, we worship--plain and simple.  What we worship leads to a view of the world that we will then act upon.  If we are afraid, we will shrink from God's call.  If we are prideful, we will avoid God's direction and go our own way.  If our hearts are scarred, we will distrust others and only rely on ourselves.  If we are hungry, we will sometimes settle for less than what God offers.  

So?  The days are short, and time here on Earth is immensely valuable.

So Jesus launches into His next parable.  We must take care of our hearts, because He is depending on us to be ready.  If we are distracted in any way, we may miss the signs and be caught unaware.  Is this just applicable to His return?  I think not.  I think that He wants us to be ready for divine encounters--a person comes to us needing advice, a prayer needs to go before the Father right now, we must act quickly and with discernment in a crisis.  If our hearts are out of contact with His heart, we may lose opportunities to serve in His name.  If the voice of God is quieted or even silenced by worry, arrogance, or distraction, a moment where His light could break through might be lost.  Not forever--God is too persistent with us to only reach out once--but our choices could delay some needed healing.

We must keep our lamps burning, awaiting of the knock of our beloved Master.  Be watchful and when He comes, we participate in His work as if we were His friends!  Look at the reversal of roles:  the master dresses himself (his servants are now his friends, so they won't be dressing him!) and they join him at the banquet as guests!  He waits on them!  Jesus is saying, Look, partner with Me, and lovingly look to do the work of My Kingdom until the day I return.  Don't do the work out of duty and obligation, or fear or worry, but out of love for Me!  Let your heart be so in love with Me that you long for My return and yet stay busy, with a heart always on the lookout to serve Me!

It is startling how Jesus jumps from a master/servant idea to a thief breaking in.  Why does Jesus change the comparison from master and servants, who have a close bond, to a homeowner who will not let a thief he knows is coming to break into his house? Jesus says in Revelation 16:15, "Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed."

In Thessalonians 5:2, it says, "For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night."

A master returning seems almost inviting as a comparison; he may be angry if his servants are not ready, but a thief ups the ante.  The thief takes away the master's possessions, and the servants can't just go out and replace them for the master.  The thief takes away when he comes to a house.  So, Jesus is showing two sides of one coin:  He will come for His own, and seat them at the table as friends and partners in the work of His Father.  We like that.  But a thief jump startles us to readiness--we need to be always ready, ever watchful and dutiful to what He has called us to do.

Jesus is both Lamb and Lion, Master and Thief.  He wants us to dine with Him, but He also wants us to be vigilant:  "You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”  

We wait not in fear of the Thief, but in holy expectation of His glorious snatching away of His people.    

In the meantime?  Serve. Love. Worship. Pray.  We've got a lot to do, you and I.






Saturday, July 2, 2022

You Can’t Take It With You—Nor Should You: The Rich Fool

Here we go:

"The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.                                                                                                                                           (Luke 12:13-21)

In Luke 11, Jesus is invited to a house of a Pharisee to eat with him.  The Lord did not wash before the meal, and the Pharisee comments on this.  Jesus then recites quite a list of woes against the Pharisees.  The house no doubt falls silent as Jesus lets fly His grievances against such men who should know better.  They are in daily contact with God's word, and yet they are miserly in their hearts. He admonishes them to give to the poor, practice justice and the love of God and stop wanting to be the center of attention at the synagogue.  

He then excoriates the teachers of the law, because they load burdens upon the people that are too heavy.  They kill God's prophets.  These "experts in the law" are castigated for wallowing in ignorance and preventing others from obtaining knowledge.   Needless to say, as He is leaving, these men throw angry questions at Him.  They seek to comfort their bruised egos, as well as discredit Him in front of the ever-growing crowd that is gathering outside. 

The crowd is so huge that Luke says the people are "trampling on one another."  The Pharisees are there as well, no doubt quite flummoxed by the crowds.  Luke is contrasting how, when Jesus teaches, the crowd jostles one another, perhaps roughly, to hear Him.  No one gathered in huge numbers to hear the Pharisees.  The people may gather out of respect, but never in such numbers.  The crowd hungrily gathers to hear Him, to see Him and maybe even to touch Him.  The crowds are a testimony to Jesus' earlier indictments of the Pharisees:  These spiritual leaders have left the crowd desperate to hear of God's love, not of another personal failure on the crowd's part.  

Before Jesus tells this parable, He is confronted by a man with an interesting request:

"Someone in the crowd said to him, 'Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.'”   

Uh-oh.  Jesus is appalled at this man's focus.  Jesus' reputation is not of a judge, but of a prophet and a healer.  This man is squandering an opportunity to learn the deeper things of life from this Rabbi of Nazareth.  He even calls Him "Teacher" but he does not want not to learn, but to dispute.

You can hear Jesus' exasperation with the man: "Jesus replied, 'Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?'”   

Is Jesus silently thinking: The time is short and the men who should be teaching you of My heavenly Father have traded in their sacred position to become theological bean-counters.  Not only is your focus wrong, sir, but Pharisees...are you listening to this?  See what happens when you don't love as my Father loves, and live in the beauty of holiness?  You get disputes, conflict and a heart hostile to the things of God.

Jesus turns to the crowd, and says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

The man standing there is probably aghast at this.  He figures Jesus is willing to step in and do what teachers do--settle disputes, right?  No.  This is no ordinary teacher. 

Jesus then drives the point home with a parable, not just aimed at this man, but to the whole crowd.  Earlier, the Pharisees were put on notice that they needed to be generous to the poor, not burden the community with useless rules and not bustle about with outward shows of righteousness that do not please God.  Their hearts are cruelly calculating.  Ultimately, they are part of a long tradition that silences those who speak of God's demands and the need for repentance.  In other words, they are not serving God and will not hear otherwise.

Look at the parable.  This rich man had been blessed with an abundance--all he needed had been provided.  Instead of falling on his knees to thank God and looking to bless the community with this surplus, he wants to build barns to effectively hoard the grain.  He will use his wealth not to provide for others who have nothing, but to store it away so he can live the high life.  No more work, just party and let the world pass us by!  I am at the center of my self-sufficient world and I don't need to care.  Let others take care of it! 

Then God drops a bomb onto this rich man.  God says, in effect:  Your life is over.  Who will get your inheritance?  Will you take it with you?

The young man who had wanted Jesus to arbitrate his dispute over his inheritance and the Pharisees are both this rich man.  Jesus is asking: When you stand before God when this life is over (and that may come sooner than you think) what will you have to show for it?  Money?  Rules?  Possessions?  Prestige? 

Jesus reminds them that being "rich toward God" is the greatest "wealth" that someone can have.  It motivates you to love others, to serve others, and to live in such a way that when you are called up to heaven, you will open up your empty hands and say, "My life is Yours, precious Lord.  You are all I have ever desired and needed." 

The Father's heart will swell with joy and He will say, as His arms enfold you, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

It is interesting to me how relevant the parables are to life.  Our family just returned from a vacation in the central coast of  California.  The beaches there are gorgeous.  We also went to San Simeon, and visited Hearst Castle.  This magnificent home sits atop the mountains that run parallel to the coast.  You can't even see it from the Visitor Center.  You get on a tour bus that makes its way up a very windy road.  You catch glimpses of the home as you slowly make your way up.  Then you arrive at a Mediterranean villa.

This home of Hearst's took 28 years to complete.  It is filled with priceless art from the Renaissance.  I can't even begin to explain the richness of all I saw:  A tiled indoor pool with real gold in the tiles that lined the pool and all the walls; tapestries from the 14th centuries; Egyptian statues; marble statues; another pool designed as a Roman bath and the list is endless.  Apparently, Hearst had the place constantly remodeled during his lifetime.

He wouldn't choose between his wife and mistress, so he lived with his mistress and hobnobbed with famous Hollywood types while his wife lived back east with their five sons.

Wow.  Different rules for the rich--that much has not changed.

On the way down, the tour guide wanted us to be inspired by what we saw.  My inspiration was to not see money as an end in itself but to spend it judiciously on those in need and on my family.  I can't take a single dime with me, and I want my legacy to be one of generosity, love for the Lord and a sense that I made a small difference in the world.  

My hilltop mansion will be in heaven, built by my Jesus.  Someday I will hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  Priceless. 




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