Your Place in God’s Kingdom

Do it for Jesus

CHAPTER SEVEN in the story of college students Josh & Emily discovering lessons from the Parables of Jesus.

Parable of the Yeast Mixed in Flour – Matthew 13:33

The Kingdom of God once put into motion through salvation, is irreversible.

Parable of the Treasure Hidden in the Field and the Fine Pearl – Matthew 13:44-45

Jesus purchased the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles with His blood on the cross.  He considers those who come to Him as a fine treasure.

Parable of the Net – Matthew 13:47-50

Judgment is coming when the wicked will be separated from the kingdom and only believers will remain.

Your Place in God’s Kingdom

It was a calm peaceful day on this tiny section of beach in the Huntington Harbor marina.  About a hundred yards of sand nestled between million dollar homes, each with their own boat dock.  The park and parking lot behind the beach made this a perfect place to launch kayaks for a gentle paddle through the marina channels.  This enormous marina was crisscrossed with a grid of smooth water channels that provided the wealthy home-owners a path to the main channel that connected them to the Pacific Ocean.  The flat water channels were also a popular place for kayaks and paddle boards.

Josh and Emily were supervising a small group of middle school students.  Four boys and four girls were working together to drag a collection of tandem Kayaks from the parking lot, through the tiny park, and onto the sand.  Josh and Emily followed the group of teens each with their own single seat kayaks.

Josh was on high alert this morning.  Derek was part of the group of teens.  Derek was a constant challenge.  Derek was nothing but trouble.  If this wasn’t a church group, Derek would have been banned, banished, and blocked from participation.  In fact, it’s very likely Derek had already been banned, banished, and blocked from every other teen group within a hundred miles.  It wasn’t clear how, but at some point Derek figured out that the Faith Bible Church teen group was reluctant to banish.  Derek intended to take full advantage of this leniency.  Derek was in a never-ending search for the boundaries of Josh’s tolerance.

Emily was busy helping the four girls buckle into their life jackets while Josh had gone back to the truck to retrieve a missing paddle.  Derek saw this as an opportunity.  He zeroed in on Todd.  Todd was a high strung kid who didn’t excel in much; therefore, he was on a constant quest to prove himself.  Derek liked pushing Todd’s buttons.  He was an easy target.  At an opportune moment, Derek snuck up behind Todd and grabbed away one of his flip flops.  Todd wasn’t sure exactly what happened until Derek throw the flip flop over Todd’s head to Kevin, an athletic boy who was open to having a bit of fun with Todd.  Back and forth the flip flop went with Todd flailing around trying to get it back growing more and more impatient with every moment.

Josh caught the action as he was on his way back to the beach from the parking lot, seeing a profoundly frustrated Todd tackling Derek in the sand to retrieve his flip flop.

“Guys!” Josh called as he hustled back to the beach.  “Please settle down.  Let’s focus on kayaking.”

All the boys sheepishly settled down and got busy attending to their kayaks and cinching up their life jackets.  All but Derek.  Derek didn’t like being tackled by Todd.  Derek didn’t see Josh’s admonishment as a warning of any kind.  Derek perceived this as a temporary break in the action and was actively conjuring up his next move.

“Hey, Todd!” Derek called out.  “Which kayak’s yours?”

Todd was not at all sure he should respond to Derek, but he wanted to attempt to be nice, so he did.  “The blue one,” he said.

“Nice!” Derek replied, clearly up to no good.

Derek waited for the right moment.  Josh was off talking with Emily and the girls.  Todd was staring out at the boats on the channel buckling his life jacket.  This was the moment.  Derek hustled over to Todd’s blue kayak and began scooping handfuls of sand into the seat well, laughing with joy.  When Todd turned around and saw what was happening, he was ready to fight – but Josh’s hand landing on Derek’s shoulder convinced  him to hold his ground.

Josh spun Derek into a face-to-face encounter.  “Derek, we’re thrilled you decided to join us today, but this kind of behavior needs to stop.  Let’s just paddle and have some fun without all this craziness,” Josh suggested with a hint of anger.

Derek walked away without saying a word.

Josh dragged Todd’s blue kayak into the water to wash out the sand.

A short distance down the beach, Emily was preparing the girls for their kayak adventure.  Cindy, probably the smartest girl in the group, was watching the encounter with Josh and Derek.  She was not happy with the situation.  Emily caught a glimpse of what Cindy was watching and joined her at the edge of the water.

“Emily, can I lose my salvation if I hate Derek?” Cindy asked.

“No,” Emily said, “Your salvation is permanently attached.  God’s not going to let go of you; but don’t hate.”

“It’s hard,” Cindy said.

“Pray for whatever it is that’s making Derek seek this negative attention,” Emily suggested.

Cindy was completely astonished by Emily’s counsel.  “You want me to pray for Derek?” she said with amazement.

Emily just smiled at Cindy as she helped the first two girls glide into the water in their tandem kayak.

The flotilla of kayaks spent the next half hour gliding peacefully through the calm channel waters.  Josh was in his single seat kayak leading the way followed by two tandem kayaks with four girls and two tandem kayaks with four boys.  Emily brought up the rear in her single seat kayak.   The sun was bright and warm accompanied by a cool ocean breeze that made the conditions perfect.  Most of the middle school kids had never been in a neighborhood filled with luxury homes and private boats.  Occasionally they would paddle past a mega yacht that was a jaw dropping experience for everyone in the group.  This was starting to feel like a successful adventure.  Of course, the Derek time bomb was still ticking; therefore, it was hard for both Josh and Emily to fully enjoy the experience.

Todd was in the front seat of his blue kayak joyfully taking in the scenery and wishing he could one day live in the marina.  He was completely oblivious to the fact that Derek was directly in front of him sitting in the backseat of a kayak helmed by his partner in the flip flop toss, Kevin.  Once again, Derek was up to no good.  He was trying to maneuver his kayak into the right spot to fling a paddle full of water into Todd’s unsuspecting face.  Emily had a clear view of the entire incident.  She saw it coming but was too late to stop it.  She quickly paddled her kayak to the scene of the crime and came along side Derek and Kevin.

“Derek, I know you’re just trying to have some fun, but nobody likes to get splashed in the face.”

“It was an accident!” Derek insisted; his face contorted into his version of sincerity.

Emily was inches away from Derek’s face as she made her point.  “Can you do me a favor and try not to have any more accidents?” she asked.

Kevin didn’t like being an accomplice of sorts and tried to distance himself from the misdeed.  “Are you gonna ban him from going on trips with us?” he asked.

“No, we don’t ban anybody, Kevin.  Derek is as welcome as everyone else.”

Kevin was somewhat surprised.  Derek was completely smug and unfazed by the plea for civility, yet he feigned remorse.  Emily was not appeased or fooled by Derek but could do no more.  She drifted back to the rear of the group and waited for Derek’s next move.

What could have been a delightful day was soured by the constant uneasy feeling Derek gave Emily.  She was happy to see the approaching beach and the end of the trip drawing to a close.  Looking for a last bit of fun, Kevin paddled his kayak, with Derek in the back, up next to Todd and his partner in the blue kayak.

“Let’s race!” Kevin challenged Todd.

Todd, always ready to prove himself, immediately began to paddle at full speed with his backseat partner joining in the effort.  Kevin and Derek didn’t hesitate in their effort to keep up with the blue kayak.  The two tandem kayaks raced neck and neck toward the beach.  Riding in the backseat of Kevin’s kayak gave Derek an impossible to resist opportunity to sabotage Todd’s efforts.  By simply placing his oar vertically into the water he created a rudder that turned their kayak into the blue kayak forcing it way off course and close to crashing into a nearby dock.

Kevin was not happy. “Hey, we could have won!  Why’d you do that?” he protested.

“Shut up, Kevin, you’re always whining,” Derek blurted out.

This time, Derek messed with the wrong guy.  The bigger and stronger Kevin was easily able to push the unsuspecting Derek out of the kayak and paddle off toward the beach.  In a fit of rage, Derek began swimming toward Kevin and the quickly departing kayak.  His forward progress was interrupted however when Josh paddled his kayak into his path.

“Derek, just swim to shore.  You’re done kayaking for today.” Josh called out.

It was an easy swim back to the beach.  Josh arrived first and took control of the situation.

After the rest of the group returned to the beach, Emily and Josh had a moment alone to share their thoughts.

“How many times have we talked with Derek’s parents now?” Emily asked Josh.

“I think it’s close to thirty,” he said.

I don’t think it’s that many, but it doesn’t seem to be helping.

Josh took a moment to reflect before responding.  “I really like his parents,” he said.  “They’re great people.  I don’t know what makes Derek act out like this.”

“I think Kevin was his last friend,” Emily lamented.

“No,” Josh said.

“Who’s left?” Emily asked.

Josh smiled at Emily.  “Me and you,” he said.

 

Where will you go next in your walk with Jesus?

 

CHAPTER EIGHTThe Old & The New

8 The Old and The New