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The Unusual Path to Greatness

4th Sunday in Lent

The Unusual Path to Greatness

Text:  Matthew 20:17-28

Reality TV is ruining our country. That’s probably not a surprising or controversial statement. It seems pretty obvious that Reality TV is causing a lot of problems.

The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are ruining the way Americans think about dating and love and marriage. There is very little on those shows that would be considered God-pleasing love or relationships.

Celebrity reality shows are ruining the way we think about our lives. When we see the homes and cars celebrities have and the carefree, lawless lives that celebrities live, all we do is crave things we cannot and will not ever have.

Reality game shows are ruining our work ethic. People think that they can just sing in front of a famous judge on American Idol or X-Factor or The Voice, or dance on So You Think You Can Dance, or present your business on Shark Tank and you’ll get the golden ticket to fame and fortune. Rather than putting in all the blood, sweat, and tears to work toward your dreams, people think they can get in front of someone famous and take the easy way to success.

Now it is certainly nice that certain people “get a shot” in life, like the small town Texas girl that might win American Idol. But for that one person that wins a reality show there are tens of thousands that do not win. It’s always humorous, yet somewhat annoying, to watch people’s pride on these TV shows when they don’t win. Most contestants feel like they deserve to win. They’ve been waiting. Their life has been tough. They need this. Then it’s even more humorous, and more annoying, to watch the people who can’t sing or can’t dance but think they really can. They get cut from the show and they blow up in anger because they really are great and they really deserve a chance and they really should be winners. Really? Read the rest of this entry

What Does Humility Look Like?

15th Sunday after Pentecost

What Does Humility Look Like?

Text: James 2:1-13

What Does Humility Look Like?  Does humility look like the Pharisees in the gospel today?  They would go to dinner parties and feasts and sit down at the places and positions of honor.  If it was a dinner party, they would have sat at the head of the table.  If it was a wedding, they would have sat at the head table with the wedding party.  If it was a king’s feast, they would have sat down at the royal table.  After all, they were Pharisees!  Is that humility?

Does humility look like our American celebrities?  They scratch and claw for millions of dollars to act in a movie or perform at a concert or simply endorse perfume.  They have houses in the most prominent positions.  When you drive over that bridge to South Beach or weave through Beverly Hills, you can’t miss their mansions.  They fight to have their faces on magazines and billboards.  They Tweet foolish comments to get publicity, or they make stupid choices like naming their child North West (yes, Kim Kardashian actually did that).  Anything they can do to gain recognition, fame, or money.  Is that humility? Read the rest of this entry

You Were Grafted By Grace

5th Sunday of Lent

You Were Grafted by Grace (so)

1. Keep humble
2. Keep connected
3. Keep sharing

Text: Romans 11:11-21


Inosculation.  “A natural or surgical joining of parts of branches of tubular structures so as to make or become continuous.”  Those of you who know me well, or have seen my yard and my plants, also know that clearly I found that definition on Google.  I do not know how to do inosculation and I will not ever attempt to try inosculation.  But at least I know what it is.

In layman’s terms, inosculation is grafting.  Grafting occasionally happens naturally, but more often is performed by horticulturalists to save a branch.  The loose branch is grafted into a branch on the tree and eventually that new branch becomes part of the tree.  Did you know there are about 10 different ways or methods of grafting a branch?  Neither did I.  Thank you again, Google!

Spiritually speaking, there is only one way to be grafted—through Jesus Christ.  This morning, in a very complex and deep section of Scripture, the apostle Paul explains that You Were Grafted by Grace. Read the rest of this entry

Daily Devotion on James 4:7-12

Text:  James 4:7-12

The word submit does not echo well in the ears of Americans. When we hear submit, we think about bad things. We think of slaves being forced to submit to their masters in the 1860s. We think of MMA fighters tapping out and losing a bloody battle. We think of weakness and inferiority.

But in the Bible, the word submit means something much different. It means to show humble love and respect toward someone. Submitting has nothing to do with race or social class. Submitting is something that Christians gladly do toward all other people.

Why? Why would we want to do that? That won’t get us ahead in life. That won’t get us a big mansion. That won’t get us any magazine covers. This is a dog-eat-dog world! Submitting will only lead us to be devoured by the bigger dogs!

However, God himself came to this world and submitted to the laws and rules he had made. He subjected himself to the governing authorities. He submitted to all the sinful people who so regularly disobey and defy him.

So as Jesus showed humble love and respect for us, we most certainly can do the same for him. And as we submit to our King of kings and Lord of lords, that humble love will pour out and result in humble love and respect for one another.

Read the words of the devotion text from James 4 again today. When you read them thinking of what Christ has done for you, it suddenly becomes a lot easier to want to do these things for others.

Keep the cross of Jesus before your eyes. He is your motivation and your model for humble love!

Prayer: Loving Savior, as you have loved me and lived for me, please help me to love others. Give me a humble heart that puts you and others ahead of myself. Grant me joy in serving and submitting. I pray in your name. Amen.

Teach Us, Lord, True Humility

18th Sunday after Pentecost

Teach Us, Lord, True Humility

Text: Mark 9:30-37


“No!  I’m the greatest!” said Matthew.  “Jesus handpicked me even though I was a sinful tax collector.”  “No!  I’m the greatest!” said Judas.  “I’m entrusted with all of the money.”  “No!  We’re the greatest!” said James and John.  “Jesus picked us brothers to be his disciples!  And both of us were there when he raised Jairus’ daughter and to see Jesus’ glory on the Mount of Transfiguration!”  “No!  I’m the greatest!” said Peter.  “Jesus picked me first, and my brother Andrew is a disciple too!  I was also there with Jairus daughter.  I was also there on the Mount of Transfiguration!  And, I walked on water with Jesus!  So there!  I’m the greatest!”

Jesus arrived with his disciples at their destination in Capernaum after another long day of walking.  They took off their sandals and tunics and began to settle down to relax.  But first Jesus had something to ask them. Read the rest of this entry