Dirty Toes

This past Sunday we kicked off a brand-new teaching series called, Plugged In. For the next few weeks leading up to Easter, we are going to be talking about what it looks like to live lives that are connected to Jesus. We are going to do this through the lens of the conversations Jesus had with His disciples on the final night of His life, beginning with their final meal together in John 13. You won’t want to miss a single part of this journey as we learn together what it looks like to live plugged in.

Dirty Toes

By a show of hands (or thumbs-up if you are joining us online) how many of you have been to Disney World at least once? When you go to a theme park of any kind, the staff are usually pretty well-trained to stay in character as long as the park is open and guests are present. But if you’re a bit sneaky, sometimes you can catch employees having a conversation among themselves like normal people do. (You can also get this if you go “backstage.” I marched in a laser light parade at Magic Kingdom in high school. We started backstage before marching out. It was an interesting experience seeing famous cartoon characters walking around headless while taking a smoke break.) If you listen to those employee conversations very long, there’s a good chance you’ll start to hear some insider lingo. For instance, if you happen to be at Disney and overhear a park employee refer to a visitor as a “treasured guest,” (and hopefully you are not that visitor), you might think at first that these really are model employees to think so highly of the people who are forking over the exorbitant amounts of money that serve, in part, to pay their salaries. You would be wrong. In the insider, staff lingo of Disney World, calling someone a “treasured guest” is not a compliment. It’s a way to refer to a particularly difficult visitor in such a way that seeks to maintain the positive experience for the problem person without being ugly to his face. Here in the South we might just smile and say to the person, “Well, bless your heart!” 

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Morning Musing: Micah 5:2

“Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for me. His origin is from antiquity, from ancient times.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Christmas morning is a time when kids all over the place are looking forward to waking up, going to wherever their tree happens to be, and laying their eyes on their big Christmas surprise. The bigger the better too. I remember a few Christmases when I was little where I had some big toy or another greeting me as I walked in the living room. As you start getting a little older, though, something happens. The toys tend to get a little smaller. Then they get a little smaller still. And the first few times you find something smaller – still exciting, but smaller – it hits a little like a slap in the face. Yet, as the old cliche goes, big things can come in small packages. This verse offers us a potent reminder of that truth. As we continue our Advent journey this morning, let’s talk about God’s tendency to work big things in unexpected ways.

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Morning Musing: Philippians 2:3-4

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

How important are the people around you? The answer to that question depends on how you’re looking at it. In an absolute sense, every person is of equal value. No one can claim to be objectively more important or valuable than anyone else. At the same time, in a relative sense, we do value some people more than others. I say this only by means of reflection, not evaluation. The question we need to answer, though, is how we should value the people around us. Paul gives us some wisdom here worth heeding. Let’s take a look at this together.

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Morning Musing: James 4:10

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Yesterday we talked about one of the great paradoxes of the Christian worldview. This was Jesus’ declaration that if we want to save our lives, we must be prepared to lose them. Our conclusion then was that even though these two ideas sound contradictory, they are nonetheless both completely true. This morning we’re going to look briefly at another paradox of the faith. This one appears in various places throughout the Old and New Testaments, so there were multiple different passages we could have looked at. This one from James has a context that puts a little more fire behind the observation. Let’s talk about the greatness found in humility and a good example from a man named, Ted.

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Submit for Good

As we continue in our series, Standing Firm, this week, we’re finally getting into the heart of Peter’s message. If you want to know how to stand firm in your faith without compromising your witness, you need to read this message. Peter lays it on the line for us and doesn’t let us look away until he’s taken us all the way to the mat. His challenge does not mean we roll over and play dead for anyone. Instead, he’s calling us to stand firm in our identity in Christ and refuse to be made a slave to anyone including ourselves. The way to do this, though, is not what the culture around us would have us believe. The way of Jesus looks entirely different. It takes a great deal more courage and a great deal more strength. Read on and think about how God might be applying this to your situation today.

Submit for Good

Have you ever had a boss you didn’t like? I don’t mean just a little dislike either. I mean, you could not stand even to be in the same room for any longer than you had to be. He was rude. She was demanding. He was demeaning. She micromanaged everything and everyone. It just wasn’t a good situation. Maybe you’ve never had that misfortune, but if you have, how’d you handle that? Used to be the general cultural attitude toward that situation would be for you to just suck it up and persevere through the frustration. You had to work because you had bills to pay and mouths to feed. You needed to be a productive member of society, and that was more important than your feelings about your boss. If you wanted to switch careers, you could, but that wasn’t necessarily going to be an easy process.

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