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Ambition to Serve

22nd Sunday after Pentecost

Ambition to Serve

Text: Mark 10:35-45

What a journey!  The disciples had been on quite the road trip with Jesus.  They were meandering their way south through Judea down toward Jerusalem for the final time.  Jesus was making his last trip there to accomplish his mission and our salvation.
But even more extraordinary was the spiritual journey the disciples were taking along the way.  Parents had been bringing little children to Jesus and the disciples rebuked them and tried to send them away.  Jesus was indignant with them.  Then a rich man runs up to Jesus and the disciples let him right through.  But they were amazed when Jesus told them how hard it is for the rich to inherit the kingdom of God.  Then Jesus began to teach them more specifically about what was coming, that he was going to suffer and die and rise again in Jerusalem.  The disciples were astonished.
And now this.  James and John approached Jesus and tried to secure seats of honor on Jesus’ right and left in the glory of heaven.  That made the others indignant with James and John.
What is going on here?  Up and down the disciples go in their journey of faith.  Mistake after mistake.  Wrong motives.  Weak faith.  Hidden agendas.  What kind of faith did they have here anyways?  Well they had a faith much like mine.  That’s certainly true of the story today. Read the rest of this entry

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

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going . . .

3rd Sunday of Advent

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going . . .

Text: Job 1:6-22

Gone.  All of it.  All of it was gone.  People who experience tragedy sometimes say that going through it is surreal, almost like living in a dream.  Job was stuck in a nightmare that he could not wake up from.

A messenger ran to Job.  It wasn’t good news.  The Sabeans from Arabia had attacked and stolen all his oxen and donkeys and killed all the servants watching them.  That might not seem too awful to us, but Job had 1,000 oxen and 500 donkeys.  That was a lot of wealth and livelihood taken, and it would have been a lot of servants killed.

While the shock of losing money and friends was still settling in, a second messenger ran to Job.  It wasn’t good news.  Fire had fallen from skies and burned up all his sheep and the servants watching them.  That might not seem too awful to us, but Job had 7,000 sheep.  That was a lot of wealth and livelihood taken, and it would have been a lot of servants killed.

How could this be?  On the same day?  What would he do now?  All these animals were so important to working and providing food and clothing!  All these servants were so important to making his life go!  Well at least his camels . . . 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

Speak, O Lord

9th Sunday after Pentecost

Speak, O Lord

Text: 1 Samuel 3:1-10

Intro

Samuel!  Samuel!”  The young boy jumped out of bed and ran to Eli.  Here I am; you called me.”  I did not call; go back and lie down,” the priest said.  Samuel!  Samuel!”  The young boy jumped out of bed again.  For a young kid he was such a faithful servant in the house of God!  Here I am; you called me.”  I did not call; go back and lie down,” Eli repeated.  What’s gotten into this kid?

A third time the voice called out, Samuel!  Samuel!”  Now at this point when I was being told this story as a young child I interrupted my dad and shouted out, “Samuel!  Answer the phone!”  But it wasn’t Siri talking on Samuel’s iPhone.  Though a wicked priest, Eli realized what was going on and sent Samuel back to bed with instructions.

One more time the voice called out, Samuel!  Samuel!”  Samuel replied humbly, willingly, and appropriately: Speak, for your servant is listening.” 

Speak, for your servant is listening.”  Speak, O Lord.  But how does the Lord speak to us? Read the rest of this entry