Here’s what you ought to say: “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4.15)
Here’s what you ought to say: “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4.15)
Adultery: The United States of Adultery
[This is an interactive map. Houston is #2 in the country, beat out only by three-time winner Washington D.C.]
Birth of Jesus & Christmas: * Baby Jesus Meek and Mild, Overthrew an Empire – Wild!; * Is There A Dragon In Your Nativity Set?
* “May your Christmas be a time when you ponder the summons of a subversive kingdom. May you choose to peacefully follow the baby in the manger to the cross and through resurrection, proclaiming with the angels that a new era has begun; an era when the people of God can undo the works of oppressive ‘empires.’ Merry Christmas.”
* “Every nativity set needs a red dragon. If you don’t remember that part of the story, you might want to read chapter 12 of Revelation.”
China, Christianity & persecution: China’s Hardship-Hardened Church
“Vibrant amid persecution, it seeks faithfulness over freedom.”
Contribution, generosity, giving, possessions, sacrifice, stewardship & wealth: The Scary Truth About Christian Giving
“Over the past 40 years, self-identified evangelicals have given between 2 and 3 percent of their incomes to churches and Christian organizations. Stewardship is a crucial part of the Christian life, and according to these figures, it is sadly lacking.”
Criticism, hatred & humility: Haters
“Never criticize what God is blessing.”
Firearms & guns: Gun Country
“They bring families together and they tear them apart. They kill innocent people and protect them. The United States continues to love and revile its hundreds of millions of firearms. Here is a look at that complicated relationship, told through the personal stories of Americans.”
Insurance & the uninsured: Mapping Uninsured Americans
“Census data released Dec. 17 show where the uninsured live.”
Love & truth: 3 John: When Love is Abused
“He abused his power; he abused the love entrusted to him.”
Poor & poverty: In the War on Poverty, a Dogged Adversary [required reading]
“Without the panoply of government benefits — like food stamps, subsidized school lunches and the earned-income tax credit, which provides extra money to household heads earning low wages — the nation’s poverty rate last year would have reached almost 31 percent, up from 25 percent in 1967, according to the research at Columbia.”
Warfare: The Great War’s Ominous Echoes
“… the era just before World War I, with its gas lighting and its horse-drawn carriages, seems very far-off, it is similar to ours — often unsettlingly so — in many ways.”
NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church tomorrow (Dec. 8). This guide will enable your follow-up of the morning sermon.
To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.
Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of the sermon series, or this particular sermon in a series.
To call our attention, and our conscience, to some of our Lord’s direct charges to us.
These Scriptures form some of the foundation of the sermon. Underscored words are emphasized in the Greek text.
• Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor. (Proverbs 18.12)
• The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23.11-12)
• “But look! My betrayer is with me; his hand is on this table. The Human One goes just as it has been determined. But how terrible it is for that person who betrays him.” They began to argue among themselves about which of them it could possibly be who would do this. An argument broke out among the disciples over which one of them should be regarded as the greatest. But Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles rule over their subjects, and those in authority over them are called ‘friends of the people.’ But that’s not the way it will be with you. Instead, the greatest among you must become like a person of lower status and the leader like a servant. So which one is greater, the one who is seated at the table or the one who serves at the table? Isn’t it the one who is seated at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22.21-27)
• … being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2.8)
• … all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. (1 Peter 5.4b-6)
These icebreaker questions are meant to help us all just start thinking, talking, and relating to the topic or texts. Discuss one.
1. Who is a humble cartoon character that comes to mind? A proud one?
2. How does it make you feel, or what is stirred within you, when you witness humility?
These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this morning’s sermon.
2. What specific age group did Peter have in view when he penned 1 Peter 5.4-6?
These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.
1. What does Christianity look like without humility?
2. Is it possible to be humble without living as a servant? Without humiliation? Explain.
3. How exactly does a Christian avoid becoming proud or living in prideful ways?
4. Like contentment, humility is learned. What can a believer do to learn humility?
5. Respect your limits, but do not devalue yourself/short-sell your abilities. Thoughts?
These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid you in living out today’s message in the coming days.
1. Live one day with this thought foremost in mind: “I am here to serve others.” Repeat.
2. Resurrect a servant-habit you’ve “retired” from. Serve in a way you never have before.
Cats, language, learning & Spanish: I Can Haz Spanish Lessons: Cat Pictures Now Have A Purpose
“It’s no secret cats rule the Internet. Now, just flipping through cat pictures can be an educational experience. A new iOS app called teaches 1,000 basic phrases by showing you flash cards of cute cats. ‘It’s the most ridiculously silly, but yet ruthlessly effective way of learning conversational Spanish,’ says , founder of , the group behind Cat Spanish. For example, when learning the phrase ‘I need help,’ the app shows a cat tangled in a tree. Users memorize the phrases through repeated tests.”
Children & parenting: To The Mamas of Littles During the Holidays
“Lower your expectations for what is humanly possible in one day. Now think about how many toddlers you have and lower them again.”
Civility, disability, respect, sensitivity, speech & words: 10 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Someone Who Uses a Wheelchair
“Most people definitely mean well, but some sentiments aren’t received the way many able bodied people might expect. In the disabled community, it’s not uncommon for us to joke with each other about some of our interesting conversations with family, friends and strangers that often involve some off putting statements.”
Culture & family: The Changing American Family
“American households have never been more diverse, more surprising, more baffling. In this special issue of Science Times, Natalie Angier takes stock of our changing definition of family.”
Pope Francis: * Ten Reasons Why Evangelicals Should Read Pope Francis; * Evangelii Gaudium [essential reading]
* “While evangelicals and Catholics will continue to have their theological differences — differences that stem back 500 years or more — we just might find some common ground in the words of Francis.”
* “The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience.”
Self-deprecation: The Trouble With Self-Deprecation [essential reading]
“… all of us are good at something and lousy at something. And if we could only get that through our skulls, we would be freed once and for all to speak comfortably of our strengths and faults, and those of our brothers.”
* “The Lord is good. His love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations. So, let the redeemed of the Lord say so.”
* “Am I really thankful? Can I be thankful even for what I don’t have? Can I be thankful even when it’s not what I asked for? Can I be thankful in all circumstances, as the Apostle Paul commanded us?”
* “What was the menu for the first Thanksgiving? How many turkeys are consumed each year at Thanksgiving?”
Aliens, brotherly love, dehumanization, illegals, immigration & respect: I Don’t Know What an “Illegal” is … [required reading]
“In our culture, the way these folks are framed (‘named’) is by calling them ‘illegals.’ I am very convicted about this. … I feel I should say ‘I do not know what an illegal is. I know only humans.’”
Bible reading, lectio divina, reflection, Sermon on the Mount & transformation: Ten Minute Transformation: Ten Minutes of Lectio Divina That Can Revolutionize Your Life (Matt. 5) [required reading]
“It’s a good question. If the Christian faith is only about going to heaven, then why do we stay here on earth?”
Bible study, college & faith: Open Letter to New Testament Students
” … if I am doing my job, you are probably going to undergo a slow process of discovering that what you thought was a book is, in fact, a bunch of books; you’re going to find out that what you know is often incorrect; and what has spoken to you has been edifying, but that text may not ever be able to speak with that same voice again.”
Busyness, culture, stress & the United States: 8 Things You May Not Know about Busyness in America [infographic]
“… eight things that we should all keep in mind about our ‘busy’ lives.”
Brotherly love, humility, others, patience, understanding & sincerity: The Thing I’d Love to Forget About the People I Disagree With [essential reading]
“… it’s a bit disconcerting to confront the reality that it’s possible to wrestle with the same God and walk with the same limp and yet reach different conclusions. Perhaps it is in the wrestling itself that we can find some common ground.”
Discipleship, knowledge, questionnaires, spiritual formation & transformation: Christianity: Has Education Replaced Transformation
“American Christianity is turning into a massive question-and-answer quiz, and I’m probably going to fail. The Bible isn’t a textbook — but people treat it that way, and “Christianity” is becoming a pass-or-fail test. … “
“… we tend to elevate the sin of another which is different than ours.”
Christianity, humility & pride: Have I Become the Christian I Can’t Stand?
“I know too many people that have been ‘burned’ by a ‘well-intentioned, God-fearing Christian.’”
Encouragement & self-esteem: 5 Tips for Recovering from Emotional Pain
“Here are five questions people often ask about psychological injuries: 1. Why does getting rejected hurt so much? … 2. If thinking about your feelings is good for you, how can brooding and ruminating be bad? … 3. Is it possible to prevent a significant failure from affecting your self-esteem? … 4. Why do people who have hurt another person’s feelings still feel guilty even after they’ve apologized? … 5. Why do some daily users of positive affirmations still have low self-esteem?”
“… sin in the form of selfishness and self-absorption is deeply ingrained.”
Love & relationships: “But He’s Not My Neighbor”
“Jesus’ point is: don’t let yourself off the hook of the command to love your neighbor as yourself by limiting it only to a narrow group of people.”
Millenials: Millennials and Leaving Church: Really?
“Are today’s youth abandoning the Church? Is there cause for alarm? Or is the condition with youth in the church today about the same as always? These are questions that many people are asking and many people are also answering them. Often in uninformed ways.”
Aliens, hospitality & immigration: True Biblical Hospitality: Loving Immigrants, Strangers, and Enemies [required reading]
“… what does it actually mean to show hospitality? This is where things really get interesting: in English, we typically understand hospitality as a willingness to host, feed, and entertain a guest … something we all do and especially with our personal friends. However, what if the biblical term has a much deeper (and more difficult) meaning?”
Astronomy, awe, creation, earth & space: A Glimpse of Earth, Shining Brightly, From Very, Very Far Away
“[This] … picture … from the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn. On July 19, at a distance of 1.4 billion kilometers (900 million miles) from Earth, it took [this] … image. … Cassini was on the far side of Saturn, looking back toward the inner solar system.”
Atonement: At-One-Ment by Edward Fudge [required reading]
“We recently ended an assortment of twelve gracEmails, in which we explored the atonement made by Jesus Christ and the way American evangelicals have limited their conception of it almost exclusively to the penal substitutionary atonement theory to the neglect of other theories that are equally Bible-based. Now you can see all twelve of these in one location.”
Budget, economics, finances, income & money: Family Budget Calculator
“EPI’s Family Budget Calculator measures the income a family needs in order to attain a secure yet modest living standard by estimating community-specific costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes. The budgets, updated for 2013, are calculated for 615 U.S. communities and six family types (either one or two parents with one, two, or three children).
“As compared with official poverty thresholds such as the federal poverty line and Supplemental Poverty Measure, EPI’s family budgets offer a higher degree of geographic customization and provide a more accurate measure of economic security. In all cases, they show families need more than twice the amount of the federal poverty line to get by.”
Competition: Should There Be Competition in Sunday School?
“When we ingrain a competitive spirit into faith – a culture of public shame and reward – is it any wonder we end up with some really faith damaged adults?”
Humility: In Humility Hold Others Above Yourself [essential reading]
“When it comes to humility I think a lot of Christians tend to work with the wrong idea. The idea that many seem to have is that humility involves thinking less about yourself, to have a negative or even morbid self-concept. … Humility is less about thinking other people are ‘better’ or ‘more important’ than you are. Humility isn’t about a morbid ego or a low self-esteem. Humility is, rather, a form of honoring and care-taking. Humility is lifting up (hyperecho) the concerns of others, placing them above and ahead of your own.”
Old Testament: And the Main Point of the Entire Old Testament is …
“I was taught in seminary and graduate school, as were many others of my generation and several before that, that the OT doesn’t have ‘a’ central point–there’s no central concept around which you can organize the OT. The OT is too diverse for that sort of thing. As soon as you find a theme that seems to work, it either doesn’t (e.g., covenant) or it’s too broad to be of much use (e.g., God).
“I agree, but some themes are right there in your face, more than others, and one of them is getting higher and higher on my top 10 list: land.
“That may sound off a bit boring–maybe even not terribly spiritual–but land is a major idea the Bible keeps on the front burner. Actually, I may even be understating things bit. The promise to receive land, getting it, how to hold on to it, losing it and getting it back, and how not to lost it again. I’ve just described the main storyline of the OT.”
“… Addis has traveled and photographed squatter communities in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro; Lima, Peru; Mexico City; Mumbai, India; Cairo; and Dhaka, Bangladesh.”