Mar 25, 2016

New Church Blessing Saturday, March 26

New Building at 149 Magellan Circle

Highland Meadows Church is happy to announce the blessing of our new church building at 149 Magellan Circle.

The service shall be Saturday, March 26 at 2:30 PM, with Bishop Paul Duff of the Houston Presbytery conducting the service with Pastor Werner Stadlater.

A cook out at White Rock Lake Pavilion Big Thicket (#11) will follow.  See map below and #11 is Big Thicket Pavilion that we have reserved.

For information call (214) 340-4045

Apr 23, 2015

Puritan Church in America Statement On Pagan Practice

As there have been many converts from Buddhism, Hinduism, and other faiths over the years we feel it is necessary to make the following statement.

It is a tradition in Buddhist, Shinto, and Hindu homes to have an altar with incense, candles, and statues (butsudan, kamidana).  These home altars are used to offer daily food and drink to ancestors.  This practice must stop in Christian homes.  Once one has accepted Christ as Savior then all associated Pagan traditions are to end.

Some have had images or shrines in their home for years after converting to Christianity.  People may see these as merely cultural items, or they may even feel attached to some of these items. But God is the one who says how He should be worshipped, and the Bible teaches that He does not want us to use images. (Read Exodus 20:4, 5; Psalm 115:4-8; Isaiah 42:8; 1 John 5:21) 
So you can take a stand for true worship by destroying any items you own that are connected with false worship. By all means, come to view them as Christ does—as something “detestable.”—Deuteronomy 27:15.
Ancestor worship also is common in many false  religions. Before learning Bible truth, some believed that the dead are conscious in an invisible realm and that they can help or harm the living. Perhaps you used to go to great lengths to appease your dead ancestors. The Pagan dead are in Hell and have no conscious existence anywhere. Thus, attempts to communicate with them are of no use. Any messages that seem to come from a dead loved one really originate with the demons. Therefore, God forbade the Israelites to try to talk with the dead or to participate in any other form of spiritism.—Read Deuteronomy 18:10-12.

If the use of images or the practice of ancestor worship was part of your former way of worship, what can you do? Read and ponder over Bible passages that show you how God views these things. Pray to Jehovah daily about your desire to take a stand for true worship, and ask him to help you to think as he does.—Isaiah 55:9.
As the Apostle Paul urges in Romans 12:1:
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

Jun 22, 2014

The Family, From the CEC Convention

Motion five has passed by a majority of clergy and members.  The Puritan Church hereby declares that the family is headed by the father as Christ is head of the church.  Marriage is between one man and one woman.  Children do not belong to the parents or community but are gifts from God and for their entire life belong to God and to no human.

Before we get into the dos and don'ts of family life, we shall look at the big picture. What is a family for? Now, the Bible clearly says the family is a God-given institution-and not something cave men stumbled into over millions of years. If God created and blessed the family, it must have a purpose.
What is it?
Romantics make family into a sort of salvation. A husband or wife or kids will solve all your problems, answer all your critics, meet all your needs, and pretty much create a heaven on earth. When this doesn't happen, people wonder why it fell short.  This overly romantic view has increased divorce rates.

The Puritan view doesn't fit into the accepted categories: it isn't liberal or conservative or traditional or reactionary. The best word for it is Christian. The purpose of marriage is not to make you happy or to have legitimate children or to build society or to prepare for retirement (though these are often byproducts of matrimony). No, to our way of thinking, what the family is for is the glory of God. Benjamin Wadsworth wrote,

"Every Christian should do all he can to promote
the glory of God.and the well ordering of matters
in particular families, tends to promote [it]".
Most Americans are not interested in theory. What difference does it make what the family is for as long as it's happy or peaceful or productive?  Christians and Puritans know better: The goal of family life will determine its priorities and practices.
For example, if the family's aim is to glorify God, will the husband and father work eighteen hours a day? Or, will the wife nag her husband into being the spiritual leader? Or will the parents neglect their kids? Or abuse them?

Keep this in mind and your family life will be dramatically better. The destination determines the road you take to get there. The purpose of the family is to glorify God. Very few couples start there. And it shows.


A well ordered Gospel believing home is run by the man of the family. Husband and father imply authority. Not brute strength, but a God-given right to govern wife and children. And not just a right to do it, but a responsibility.
William Perkins wrote,
"The husband is he that hath authority over the wife,
the two being one flesh, but he is also the head
over his wife".
On this point, the Puritans believe exactly what the Bible teaches. The husband is in charge of the home-not because society says so or tradition or religion. It is God who says so,
"The husband is the head of the wife".
If the husband has authority over his wife, it must mean he can do pretty much whatever he pleases and she has no say at all-right? Wrong. John Robinson says the husband must rule with
"Love and wisdom. His love must be like Christ's
for His Church: holy for quality and great
for quantity".
Benjamin Wadsworth emphasizes the tenderness of the husband's rule,
"A good husband will make his government of
her as easy and gentle as possible, and strive
more to be loved than feared".
Samuel Willard even goes farther, saying the husband ought to rule his wife with such love and wisdom that,
"His wife may take delight in it, and not account
it as slavery, but a liberty and privilege".
Brothers, do we so rule our wives as to make them thankful for it? If you've turned your wife into a drone in the name of godliness, repent of your sin and taking the Lord's name in vain. Remember this: The better you rule your wife, the freer she will be.
You know what a truly liberated woman is? One who's husband leads her in love and wisdom.

If "the husband is the head of the wife", then some would say the wife has no say around the house-except for "yes sir!"
Christians and Puritans know better than this. They understand that ruling your wife includes explaining things to her (not just issuing orders) listening to her, deferring to her when she knows more than you do, and accepting her criticism.
"A man must support his cause from the Scriptures
and lay before her sufficient conviction of her duty"

(Samuel Willard).

In other words, "Because I said so" may be good enough for children and servants, it's not good enough for your wife. You should not only tell her what to do, but explain things to her from the Bible.  It is not easy if she's quarrelsome. But easy or not, it's the right thing to do.
In his diary, Samuel Sewall said he turned the family finances over to his wife because,

"She has a better faculty than I
at managing affairs".
On the same point, John Milton adds,
"Particular exceptions may have place, if she exceed
her husband in prudence and dexterity, and he
contentedly yield, for then a superior law comes
in, that the wiser should rule the less wise,
whether male or female".
The Puritan way of thinking, micromanagement is mismanagement. If your wife knows money better than you do, let her manage it-and do what she says with a good attitude.

But what about criticism? Does a wife have the right to correct her husband? To tell him he's wrong?

Let's define our terms: If by "correct" you mean scold him or despise him or nag him to death, then, no, she doesn't. But if the correction is offered in humility and love, then she has every right to do it.  As Cotton Mather noted:

"Women may and must privately exhort
others.they may also privately admonish
men.she is not so subject but she may
admonish and advise her husband if
she is sure the things she speaks against
are sinful or hurtful".

One more thing: Why does the man have to be in charge? Why can't everything be done with the consent of both husband and wife? In my family, most things are done that way. Maybe 99% of things. But once in a while, the most agreeable couple disagree. 

Somebody has to make the call. Now there are only three options: Either the husband has to do it or the wife has to or they take turns. Taking turns is ridiculous, because it would cancel everything.

Schooling is important. But what my wife and I disagreed on it. The first decision is mine: We're sending them to Christian school. The next decision is hers: We're homeschooling them. Then it's my turn again: Christian school, then hers.on and on it goes. And no decision is made.

A word to wives who think it's unfair: Would you want to be married to a man who didn't have the guts to make a decision? Who deferred to you on everything? You might love the man or pity him, but you'd never respect him.

It is logically necessary for someone to have the final say. And when the husband doesn't have it three bad things must follow: the man feels rotten about himself, the wife holds him in contempt, and the Lord is dishonored.


The Puritan view of parents and children.
The Puritan big idea can be summed up in one word: stewardship. Our children are not ours, but God's. What parents are required to do, therefore, is to bring them up for Christ.

"The children born in our families are born
unto God. God leased them out to us".
(Deodat Lawson)
This means we're responsible to God for what we do with our kids. They're not ours, but His. Therefore, they're to be brought up the way He says, and not the way we think best.

What do parents owe their children? Puritans insist on three things:
We must provide for their physical needs.
"If others suffer need, yet the children will surely
be taken care of, for as long as there is anything
to be had".
We must provide for their future. According to Cotton Mather every father is required to see that his children are instructed,

"In some honest, lawful calling, labor,
or employment, either in farming or
in some other trade profitable for
themselves and the commonwealth".
In other words, parents have to teach their children how to work for a living. This includes the basics of taking orders, cooperating with people, starting on time, being there until time to leave, even when you're not feeling perfect, and so on. 

And also vocational training or a professional education. Teaching them to work is every parent's duty. Benjamin Wadsworth stressed the importance-even if they didn't need to the money,

"If parents train their children to be serviceable
in their generation, they do better for them than
if they should bring them up to be idle, and
yet leave them great estates".
In other words, it's better to leave your kids nothing, but teach them to work than to let them be idle and leave them a fortune!
The Puritans agree with the Jewish proverb,

"The man who does not teach his son to work
teaches him to be a thief".
Insofar as we can do it, we must provide for their eternity. Cotton Mather also notes,

"Before all, and above all, is the knowledge of the
Christian religion that parents are to teach their
Children. The knowledge of other things, be
it ever so desirable for them, our children
May arrive in eternal happiness without it.
But the knowledge of the godly doctrine of Jesus
Christ is a million times more necessary for them".

There's one more subject to explore and that's the discipline of children.
    1. Family is for-the glory of God.
    2. Family is to be governed-by the husband and father who rules in love and wisdom.
    3. Parents owe their children-a decent life, a promising future, and in as much as lies within you, eternal life. 
    4. All discipline therefore is rooted in love, not anger, wrath, or vengeance.
May God bless our families and make them what they ought to be. A kingdom Christ's people.

Mar 16, 2014

USA Synod Chapter Directives

After the USA Synod chapter meeting in Plymouth, MA; there are to be some changes.  We shall end our 501 (c) 3 status and simply become an independent organization.  The non-profit status of churches is being manipulated by the government to force churches to practice ungodly and unholy practices that are contrary to the gospel.  As a church we must refuse to offer insurance that includes abortion on demand.  We must also deny and refuse to incorporate homosexuals onto our church boards in the name of "tolerance".  This is why the 510 (c) 3 charters of the Congregational Episcopal Churches are being directed to be abolished and the churches run as simple independent organizations.

Donations must be made in the name of our pastor, Rev. Werner Stradlater.  Pastor will then distribute the donations as needed in Highland Meadows Church, and pay taxes on the full as income.  The church property will be incorporated between Pastor and the USA Synod with property taxes being paid.  This will take effect May 18, 2014 when our nonprofit status expires.
Again, this is the only true solution to ending proposed governmental meddling in the affairs of churches.

Our former pastor, Bishop Daniel Rea is having success with the mission in Nagoya, Japan.  Please keep Bishop Rea and his wife, Deacon Itsuko Rea, in your prayers.
Highland Meadows Church 

Dec 1, 2013

Meet Our New Pastor

New Pastor, Rev. Werner Stradlater

Hello folks I am the new pastor for Highland Meadows Church and Miyazaki Ministries.  My name is Werner Stradlater and I have been the associate pastor here since September 2011 when Rev. Daniel founded the church and ministry.  We shall still minister to the Japanese Christians and the homeless here in Dallas.
I am originally from Birmingham, Alabama.  I graduated from Southeastern Baptist Seminary and then studied Japanese and Japanese Religions at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan.  My wife Chieko and I welcome you and hope to see you all soon.  Please come, rest, and heal at our church.
Presbyter Daniel and Deacon Itsuko shall have a farewell service with a reception to follow December 29 at 5 pm.  The service will be in Japanese with communion.  Hope to see you all there as we say farewell and wish Presbyter and his wife the best with their new mission in Nagoya, Japan.
Presbyter Daniel and Deacon Itsuko leave DFW for Nagoya on January 7 at 11 am.  We shall have a final blessing for them at 7 am at Highland Meadows Church as they leave.  

Sep 11, 2013

A Prayer on September 11

There is no doubt that September 11, 2001 changed our nation.  Since that horrific day we have seen the unity that emerged fall into bitter hate between "liberals" and "conservatives".  We have seen debate degenerate into name calling and slander simply because others dare to disagree with us.  At root is the knee jerk to make those responsible "pay" and to root out enemies.

We must remember that what happened Sept. 11, 2001 was carried out by 19 men that at any moment could have backed out.  They could have refused.  Instead they chose willingly to kill over 3000 innocent people who had absolutely nothing to do with their situations and had done nothing to deserve the murder they suffered.  Nor did those who suffered in the aftermath.

To blame governments, politicians, religions, and dictators is to diminish the holocaust that 19 men inflicted.  They are the ones guilty.  Osama Bin Laden may have provided the opportunity and training, but those 19 men carried out the murders.

We must also remember we live in a fallen world.  We live in a world where sin has strong power and is capable of turning human beings into means to an end.  A world that Satan and his minions have strong influence and power.  One only need to read the Epistles of James, 1 Peter, and Romans to see that human sin and sinful desires are what motivate fellow humans to do such horror.

As Christians we must take to heart what Jesus says our response should be.  We are to forgive our enemies, those who wish us harm, and those who hurt us.  We are to pray for their forgiveness and their conversion.  We are to allow God the vengeance and to plead our cause.

September 11 happened because 19 young men looked at their fellow humans as less than human.  They saw humanity as enemies instead of as brothers and sisters.  They saw 3000 innocent people less deserving of life than they.  They allowed their hate to distort their hearts and corrupt their love.  We as Christians allowed our need for revenge to paint our response with violence.  Forgetting that "those who live by the sword shall die by the sword."

May we find the courage to forgive those who hurt us and wish us harm.  May we allow God to be our strength, our salvation, and our refuge in trouble.

Sep 9, 2013

Fairness or Justice

My wife and I were in the grocery store when we noticed a little boy running to his mom with some candy. “No Bobby put that back.” Then later he ran to his mom with some pop. “Bobby I said no, now quit.” At the register Bobby placed a chocolate bar on the checkout and the mom put the chocolate back. Bobby began to whine, “It's not fair! I want my share of stuff! I never get what I want!”
I am sure we have all heard this before and I am sure heard it recently. At some point we were Bobby and others we were his mom. You do not even have to be a child. Perhaps waiting in line to buy a movie ticket, or pay for some shopping. Or waiting for a car parking space. And someone pushes in front of you. And you want to get even. To stand up for your rights. To make things fair. After all, you DESERVE it. It’s ONLY RIGHT! These rude people just push others around because they think they are special. Who do they think they are – there are no CUTS!
Or perhaps you’re working on a group project at school or work. And there’s always that one person who’s A SLACKER. You know what I mean. They roll their eyes at meetings, fiddle with their pins, tap on their phones during work, and hide in the restroom half the day. They never pull their weight, and always complain about how nobody listens to their ideas. Yet, expects everyone else to do the work. And yet, it always seems to be THAT PERSON who gets the best compliments from the boss. They get the raise and promotion. We get skipped over so some boot licking slacker gets the cream while we get the milking chore. It’s not FAIR! He didn’t EARN it! I want my share!
Or like the older brother, Robert, on Everyone Loves Raymond. Always disappointed that it’s Raymond who gets all the attention, the promotions, the lucky breaks. Mom always dotes over Raymond and poor Robert is pushed aside so mom can get to her favorite. And his classic quote, whenever Raymond gets ANOTHER lucky break? “Of COURSE he did. It’s always about Raymond!”
What about me? It ISN’T fair! I want my share!

It’s the way the world works. It’s the natural human reaction. We ALL react when things don’t seem equal and fair. Especially when it happens to US. Those who DESERVE it should get the reward. And those who DON’T should either get less or nothing at all.
It’s the way THE WORLD works. But it’s not the way God works. The reality is that, in God’s kingdom, we DON’T get what we deserve. We DON’T get what’s FAIR. Which is just as well. Because that would be TERRIBLE. We deserve nothing from God. All we have is a gift from God to begin with. The fact we have life is what is equal and fair. The GOOD NEWS is we get something better and much more. We get our sins paid for by Christ's sacrifice – which we did nothing to earn. We get eternal life in God's kingdom when we die. We did nothing to build this kingdom and did nothing to earn it. It is a gift. On top of that we are heirs of God's kingdom – not just adopted children. Heirs get security. Adopted children get support. We are given more than equal and fair.
In today’s Gospel, the point is that the kingdom is not about what is. It's about generosity to people who do not deserve it. The kingdom isn't about equality or fairness to those who deserve it. It’s about generosity to those who have done little to receive what they are given. It is about the generosity of God to people who demand fairness when they have no idea what fairness is because they have no idea what generosity or humility is.
But let’s set the scene first. Little children are coming to Jesus. The disciples want to shoo them away. Perhaps they decide they don’t deserve of Jesus’ attention. Kids haven’t earned their place, and they are messy and loud. They need to get to the back of the line with their mommies and daddies. Perhaps the disciples think the kids are skipping in line. Maybe the disciples are jealous of the affection Jesus shows the children.
But rather than send them to the back of the line, Jesus says the kingdom belongs to children. The kingdom belongs to adults like the children. Those who suffer, those who are ignored, those who are treated like garbage. Jesus says he cares for the unimportant and undeserving people.
And then there’s the rich young man who wants to EARN his way into the kingdom But Jesus says that’s IMPOSSIBLE. And only GOD can bring someone into the kingdom. People can’t do it on their own. Many rich people are too greedy, arrogant, complacent, and power hungry for God's kingdom.
At which point Peter pipes up and wonders what reward God has got in store for the disciples. They’ve given up everything to follow Jesus. Peter wants to know what sort of return they’ve got coming on their investment.
And there Jesus’ answer is that God’s no man’s debtor. He’ll repay one hundred fold whatever we’ve given up for his sake. That’s how GENEROUS God will be! He WON’T give what’s fair. He’ll give lavishly ABOVE than what we deserve. Way beyond what we’ve EARNED.
And the chapter finishes with the summary for how things are ordered in God’s kingdom. Many who are FIRST will be LAST, and many who are LAST will be FIRST.
Undeserving, un-noticed children will end up being FIRST. And rich, upright pillars of society will end up being LAST. Those who showed gratitude for what little they had will rise above those who sought more and more, and demanded even more. Those who recognise they’re EMPTY will receive until they are full. But those who think they are full and deserve EVERYTHING will receive NOTHING.
And then Jesus tells a story to illustrate His point. Which is where we pick up now. We get a clue that the two bits tie together because ch 20 begins with “for”. Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. FOR (or BECAUSE)… the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner.
Matthew 20:1-16
So let’s look at the story to see what it has to say to Peter. And to us. It’s a story about hiring, receiving, complaining and correcting. First up, HIRING.
Hiring (1-7)
A landowner owns a vineyard. And he needs workers. So he heads out to the local labour contractor first thing in the morning. He hires a bunch, and they both agree on payment of one denarius for the day’s work. The going rate. Fair and reasonable. And so they head off to work in the vineyard.
But then 3 hours later, the owner heads back to the marketplace for MORE workers. This time there’s no explicit agreement on wages (there in v4). Only his promise to pay them whatever’s right. They TRUST the owner, and so THEY TOO head off to the vineyard.
Three hours later – same thing happens. And again, three hours after that.
Finally, v6, 11 hours into the day, nearly quittin’ time. And the owner heads back to the market place ONE LAST TIME. There’s STILL people waiting to be hired for the day. Probably the dregs of the labour force. Maybe the old or the weak. V7. Still there because no one wants to hire them.
But even THESE GUYS the owner sends off to work in the vineyard. And notice they head off immediately – no mention of wages. They TRUST the master. By THIS stage, they’ll take whatever they can get.
That’s the HIRING. Next we come to RECEIVING. The day’s over, and it’s time to settle accounts. The owner starts with the LAST ONES hired, and the foreman gives them a denarius each. That’s TWELVE TIMES the going rate! They worked an hour, and get a full day’s pay!
We’re not told THEIR reaction, but we ARE told how the FIRST ONES HIRED felt (v10). They quickly do their sums, and they’re rubbing their hands together in expectation. They reckon, to be FAIR, they should receive TWELVE TIMES AS MUCH. After all, they’ve worked TWELVE TIMES AS LONG.
But they’ve forgotten what they agreed to at the start of the day. What’s FAIR is they get paid the going rate for a day’s work. One denarius. Which is what they GET.
Complaining (11-12),
But it doesn’t SEEM fair. And so they move from RECEIVING to COMPLAINING (v11).
11 When they RECEIVED it, they began to GRUMBLE against the landowner. 12′These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
What about ME? It isn’t FAIR! I’ve had enough, and I want my share!
Correcting (13-16)
The WHOLE GROUP grumbles, but the owner turns to ONLY ONE of them, and CORRECTS him. V13.
Friend, I’m not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired LAST the same as I gave YOU. 15 Don’t I have the RIGHT to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
He makes two points. First, You’re so busy looking at OTHERS, you’ve forgotten how YOU’VE been treated – which is PERFECTLY fairly. Exactly what you deserve. A day’s pay for a day’s work. Nothing fairer than that! Your REAL problem is that someone else has got something they DIDN’T deserve. Something BETTER.
Second: That’s MY problem. I can pay OTHER people whatever I want. What business is it of YOURS to tell me who I can be generous to?
And Jesus finishes the story almost the same way he finished talking to the disciples at the end of ch 19. The same way he’d STARTED this story. “The last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Which ties the parable into the question PETER had asked at the end of Ch 19.
And perhaps that’s why there’s ONE COMPLAINER in Jesus’ story. One person singled out for the owner to answer. Because it’s PETER who’s spoken up for the disciples about what reward they’re all going to get.
And Jesus’ point is that his emphasis is all wrong. He’s too focused on HIMSELF. Too concerned with what’s fair FOR HIM. And not enough on THE REST of the people in God’s kingdom. Peter was too focused on him and not the people suffering around him. Not seeing how hard the other disciples worked as well. Not seeing what Jesus offered was not what the world does but what the Father in heaven offers – life in its fullest.

Peter’s the early vineyard worker in God’s vineyard. He thinks he’s EARNED a huge payday from God. But the reality is thinking like THAT is “LAST PLACE” thinking. Thinking about how you deserve to be in first place. How you deserve to be paid more. Only leads to coming LAST. Which means missing out on God’s kingdom all together.
FIRST PLACE” thinking means seeing yourself as the eleventh hour workers. The undeserving ones. They work for an hour expecting 1/12 of what the first workers get. They expect less than the others. They are amazed they get the same as the first workers, the second, and third workers. They get generosity on top of what is fair.
Some people have a hard time accepting the doctrine of election. That God chooses people. They say it’s not fair that God chooses some to be saved, and doesn’t choose everyone. They think that simply cannot be the way a loving God works, because that wouldn’t be FAIR. MUST be that WE choose GOD. Surely, that would be more fair so that must be the way it is. WRONG – God chooses who he pleases just as the vineyard owner chose the workers. God gives as He wishes to whom He wishes.
But I’m glad God’s not FAIR. The reality is  if God was fair with EVERYONE, NO ONE would receive eternal life. We’d ALL receive JUDGMENT. That’s what we DESERVE. That’s a FAIR days pay for a day’s work – that is what we have earned for our sinning and rebelling. Yet God gives generously His kingdom and forgiveness. Those we did not earn. In a sense isn't it all unfair to Jesus. Afterall Jesus was innocent and was put to death for our salvation. Yet Jesus says it was the the will of the Father for this to happen. Why? God is generous and Jesus knew His life was only beginning on the cross – not ending. With crucifixion came the Resurrection.
The reality is we don’t really WANT God to be fair. We’re all rebels who deserve DEATH. Be assured it is much better that God is LOVING and GRACIOUS.
Which is the message of the gospel. That while SOME people GET what they deserve. Fair and just JUDGMENT. OTHERS get what they DON’T deserve - GRACE. Eternal life. Forgiveness. Reward. A hundred times what they’ve given up. That’s GOOD NEWS!
Grace ISN’T fair. It’s MORE than fair.
And while lots of people COMPLAIN about God’s unfairness. For those of us who understand it, we should CELEBRATE God’s great generosity. How INCREDIBLE that he chose us, opened our eyes to his riches, and gave us the faith to respond!
Rather than putting ourselves in the shoes of the first workers who’ve earned their pay. Who’ve done God (Ahem!) a favor. Much better to put ourselves in the shoes of the last workers. Who come in at the last minute. Hardly work at all. And, undeserving, receive the full payment!
That’s God's kingdom thinking. That’s thinking that works itself out in lives of thanksgiving.
The reality is JESUS is the one who’s earned the pay. He’s the one who’s worked all day in our place. Who’s born the heat of the day. Who’s endured his Father’s anger – his justice. So that we didn’t HAVE to. So that we might come in at the last minute, and receive the rewards that Jesus has worked for.
At the end of this story Matthew describes how Jesus continues on his way to Jerusalem. V18. And Jesus tells them how he’s going to bear the burden of the work and the heat of the day. How he’s going to be betrayed, condemned to death. How he’ll be flogged and crucified. And that he’ll be raised to life. How he’ll receive what WE deserve, so that we might receive MUCH MORE than we deserve.
We’ve got to learn to walk in the shoes of the LAST HOUR workers, and not FIRST hour workers. Jesus has already DONE that. Worked all day. Earned a just wage. And we can’t do it again.
When you put yourself in the right shoes, it affects how you think about YOURSELF. It affects your MOTIVATION for WHY you do things. Doing them out of GRATITUDE, rather than because you have to - your trying to earn a wage. You do right because it is right and pleasing God is what pleases you.

It affects how we see and treat other people. We laugh to make others laugh. We will go without so others do not have to. We seek to be a gift to people and not a burden. We will comfort those hurting with a smile and cry with them if necessary. There are no people too dirty, too smelly, too drunk, too high, or too anything to hear about what God has generously done for us.
And it affects how you think about the things that happen to you in life. Plenty of people give up on God when something BAD happens in their life. A business goes bust, or a child goes wild, or a marriage breaks down. And they blame God. “How could you let this happen to me? After all I’ve done for you! I don’t DESERVE to be treated like this. I deserve BETTER!”
I DESERVE a better job, or a new lounge, or good health, or great air-conditioning, or an expensive holiday.
But DO we?
What we DESERVE from God is JUDGMENT. But he shows us GRACE. And then, like EVERY loving Father, he DISCIPLINES us for our GOOD. Bringing TRIALS our way. Suffering. To make us more like Jesus (That’s Hebrews 12). Working all things for good for those who LOVE him and have been called according to his purpose (That’s Romans 8). And so we can REJOICE in suffering (that’s Romans 5)
That’s Kingdom thinking. Eleventh hour thinking. It affects the way you think about YOURSELF and your circumstances.
And it affects the way you think about EVANGELISM. If you think you’ve EARNED your place in the kingdom, then you’re CONTENT. God’s pretty lucky to have you. You can sit back, put your feet up, and enjoy your place in the sun.
But if you’ve worked an hour, and received 12 times the wages you’ve deserved, wouldn’t you back up for more the next day? And wouldn’t you bring all of your friends to a job like THAT?
It’s too good NOT to share!
And Kingdom thinking – eleventh hour thinking. It affects how you think about OTHER PEOPLE – how you treat them, and respond to them. It affects how you FORGIVE them. How you refuse to JUDGE them. Because you recognize YOU’RE nothing special, so how can you put someone else BENEATH you, or BEHIND you.
Some of you know T D Jakes. He’s a mega-minister who’s also a prison chaplain at Texas prisons. And part of his job is to find churches for ex-prisoners who’ve become Christians. But it’s not an easy thing to do. He struggles to find churches who’ll genuinely accept these people.
Sometimes there are real, practical difficulties to deal with. But often it’s just the judgmentalism and lack of grace on the part of people in these churches.
And it shouldn’t BE like that. If we UNDERSTAND where we deserve to be before God, it should affect how we treat OTHERS.
But more than that. It should show itself in our whole attitude to LIFE. If we really worked that attitude out in all of life. It would make us a lot more CONTENTED, and less judgmental. A lot more THANKFUL, and less NEEDY and GRASPING.
It would make us less inclined to stand up for our rights. For what we DESERVE. To get worked up about the person who pushes in, or grabs our parking spot.
What do we really deserve? Do we deserve top marks, or recognition, or a speedy parking space, or to be served first? No, we deserve God’s judgment. But he showed us GRACE!
If we’ve really UNDERSTOOD that. We should LIVE it.
How well are YOU living it?
We were at Northpark Mall a couple of weeks ago, and we saw a local radio station van giving away free stuff in the car park. So the wife and I went up to van as the radio staff were handing out mugs and thermos mugs. We were standing a short distance away, waiting while they organized themselves. And a teenaged girl walked up next to me, and then inched across in front of me, leaning in closer and pushing me back to get her free stuff FIRST.
And my FIRST reaction was to tell her to get to back of the line. To wait her turn. I DIDN’T. More because I DIDN’T WANT TO CREATE A SCENE than because I was being particularly PATIENT. She asked for a shirt and walked off. We got our stuff a few seconds AFTER her. We got a full bag of stuff not just a gimme shirt. We got some really nice stuff.
But why did I react like that? Because I felt I’d DESERVED justice. I’d EARNED it…
But hang on! It was FREE stuff. And I’d done NOTHING for it. We didn’t pay for it, and we’re still enjoying it. That’s the right attitude to have. Whether it’s to free stuff, or to the free grace God’s shown us in Jesus.

If we’ve really understood it, we should be LIVING it. How well are YOU living it? We can be like the first workers who complain about the masters generosity to others or we can respond as Peter did when Jesus finished speaking. We can look inside our self and see what we need to change to come closer to God and to be better servants of God's Kingdom. That is Peter thinking – that is Kingdom thinking. That shows we allow God to be in charge. We allow God to lead and we humbly submit to follow.