Take Up the Cross

5th Sunday after Pentecost

Take Up the Cross

Text: Luke 9:18-24

Who is Jesus?  You could make the argument that’s the most important question of all time.  This last week I saw a video of random people being interviewed on the streets of Richmond, VA.  The people were asked a number of questions including that all-important one—“Who is Jesus?”  The answers were all over the place.  “Jesus was a great teacher who lived a long time ago.”  “Jesus is a wonderful example of how to live that people can follow.”  One college-aged woman said, “I believe that Jesus was a real person who lived and taught and claimed to be the Son of God.  But I don’t believe that part because I’m an atheist and I don’t believe there is a god.”

If you polled other people I’m sure you would find other interesting answers, like, “Jesus is the founder of Christianity.”  “Jesus was a prophet like many of the other religions have.”  “Jesus was powerful figure that was looking to overthrow the upperclass regime of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  “Jesus is the ultimate example of love.”

This is not a new phenomenon.  Even when Jesus was walking this earth the same thing was happening.  All kinds of people had all kinds of opinions about Jesus.  Listen to the beginning of the Gospel today: Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’  They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.’” Read the rest of this entry

How Big Is Your Debt

4th Sunday after Pentecost

How Big Is Your Debt

Text: Luke 7:36-50

Let’s say that you are the average American.  As the average American, you have debt.  Most people agree there are “good” kinds of debt and “bad” kinds of debt.  Good debt would be your home or land mortgages, school loans, and possibly vehicle debt.  “Bad” debt would be other kinds of loans and especially credit card.

Now, since you are the average American, let’s say you have $10,000 in credit card debt (which is about the American average these days).  Some of you may gasp in horror at $10,000, others of you might say, “I wish!”  But you are hypothetically an average person right now, so you have $10,000 of debt.

Most wouldn’t fret too much about that debt.  Sure it’s debt and all, but it’s not too bad.  It’s about 50 days of work, maybe a fourth of a year’s wages.  Not too bad.  You make some payments.  Yeah, there’s interest, but you chip away.  You know you’ll probably pay it off eventually (assuming you don’t spend more).  As long as you make regular payments, the only penalties you suffer are a little lower credit score and lots of wasted dollars in interest. Read the rest of this entry

Teach Us, Lord, Full Obedience

The 6th Sunday of Easter

Teach Us, Lord, Full Obedience

Text: John 14:23-29

This last week a boat was found off the coast of Bermuda by a Norwegian vessel ship.  Quickly it was identified as the boat of Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, the two 14-year-olds who left on a fishing trip from Jupiter, FL 10 months ago and who have been missing ever since.  The two boys are still missing and now some are wondering if foul play was involved.

Speaking of investigations, there are plenty of others going on.  The FBI recently paid almost $1 million to unlock (semi-legally) an iPhone connected to the San Bernadino mass shooting.  Investigations are also continuing 10 days after the music industry lost legendary musician Prince, as to what exactly was his cause of death.  Then there was the tragic death of the two-year-old who drowned in her grandparents’ swimming pool in Port Orange Thursday night.

Also making the headlines this week was another baseball player, this one from the Miami Marlins, who was banned 80 games for steroids and the controversial football player drafted Thursday night by the Miami Dolphins who has found himself in a social media firestorm for past poor decisions.  (Not a good week for Miami sports.)  Oh, and who could leave out the headlines of the 20 arrested during the mini-riot at the Donald Trump rally on Thursday night? Read the rest of this entry

Love and Glory

The 5th Sunday of Easter

Love and Glory

Text: John 13:31-35

I think that my life would be at peace and I would still manage somehow to die a happy man if I never heard or saw a Kardashian again.  It’s unbelievable.  Those Kardashians are everywhere!  TV shows, commercials, magazines.  That means they have infiltrated our homes, our grocery stores, our doctor and dentist waiting rooms.  But if that’s not enough, you can even get a little more Kardashian in your life as Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, and Kylie all have their own official apps you can download on your phone or tablet.

As ridiculous (or annoying?) as the Kardashian craze may be, you have to hand it to their publicists.  They are certainly good at what they do.  They put that unique family out there for the whole world to see.

Now you have to ask, “Why would someone want to do that?  Why harness the powers of all these media channels?  Why put yourself out there in front of the world?”  The Kardashians have an entire staff of PR specialists because they understand a fundamental concept innate to every single human being: If you gain glory, you gain love.  This is how our entire world—and especially our American culture—is set up.  If you have glory, you will have love. Read the rest of this entry

The Lamb Is Our Shepherd

The 4th Sunday of Easter

The Lamb is Our Shepherd

Text: Revelation 7:9-17

It’s dark, isn’t it?  The valley.  I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and it is so dark.  The darkness is so thick, sometimes I feel like there is no light in my life at all.  The path is rough, rugged, and runs every which way.  With with darkness surrounding me, I hardly know where I’m going.  I stumble and fall a lot.  Even worse, I know as I’m walking through this dark valley that I’m a sitting duck, or a sitting sheep I suppose.  I’m an easy target.  I’m weak.  I’m vulnerable prey.  There are dangers all around me.  There is darkness all around me.  I’m lost.  I’m alone.  I’m afraid.

Ever feel that way?  There’s a reason why Psalm 23 has some of the most popular Bible verses in the world.  Even people who don’t believe in the Bible will quote it.  Perhaps the most striking picture that people know is in verse 4:  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”  That verse is so popular because all people can relate to it. Read the rest of this entry

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