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GLMX #184: The Servant

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

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For example, baseball great George Herman Ruth is known as “Babe” Ruth. The NBA’s LeBron James is sometimes called “King James.” Jason Terry is known as “JET”, not only because those are his initials, but because of the airplane takeoff celebration routine he does after hitting a three-pointer on the basketball court. Jonathan Paul Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman trophy winner, is better known as “Johnny Football.” The boxer, Muhammad Ali, dubbed himself, “the greatest.”

Most people probably wouldn’t recognize the name Eldrick Tont Woods because the world’s number one golf player is known as “Tiger.” The same thing goes for basketball player, Earvin Johnson, who is known as “Magic.” “Air Jordan” is just one nickname that stuck to Michael Jordan, the man who is arguably the best basketball player of all time. And how can we forget “Linsanity” the nickname that describes not only the basketball player, Jeremy Lin, but the frenzied excitement that followed when Lin seemingly came out of nowhere to lead the New York Knicks in an amazing turn-around of their 2011-2012 NBA season.

So, what kind of nickname should be given to one of today’s superstar basketball players — Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder? Some fans have called him the “Slim Reaper” or just “KD”. But Kevin Durant says he wants to be known as “the Servant.” He recently told an interviewer, “I like to serve everybody — my teammates, ushers at the game, the fans. I know it’s kinda weird to make your own nickname, but I like that one better.”

As a follower of Jesus Christ, Kevin Durant may be taking his cues from his Lord and Savior, who said in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” In other words, even though He is God in the flesh who deserves worship and praise, Jesus Christ came to earth not to be served by others, but to serve. Jesus Christ served humanity by giving His life as “a ransom” — a payment or sacrifice — for us. Jesus Christ was the ultimate “servant.” He told His disciples in Luke 22:27, “I am among you as he that serveth.”

MUSICAL SELECTION: Jeremy Camp singing “Jesus Saves”

GLMX #183: Perfection on Ice

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The 2014 Winter Games are underway in Sochi, Russia, right now. All of the competitions are exciting and thrilling. But one of the competitions that is not only exciting and thrilling, but completely beautiful to watch, is speed skating.

The precision and grace of the sport often leave us in awe of those who take to the ice to master it. While those who compete on the Olympic level make it look easy, many years of hard work, training, and discipline are behind the few minutes of perfection on ice that make up a competition that is incredibly inspiring to watch.

Each of us strive for perfection in some area of our lives. Students desire perfect grades, moms and dads want to be perfect parents, and businesspeople want profit trajectories to consistently go up. Even though we may obtain something close to perfection in one or more of these areas in our lives, there is one area in which we will always fall short — and that is the area of moral behavior. Even the most disciplined person who strives to do what is right in every situation will often stumble in sin and immorality. As the Bible says, “there is none righteous, no, not one.”

We may see our sins as small infractions, but we shouldn’t. The reason why is because even the smallest of infractions is all it takes to separate us from our Creator who demands perfection from his creation. Yes, God’s requirement is that you and I be perfect in order to fellowship with Him.

“That’s impossible!” you say. “Everybody makes mistakes sometimes.”

Yes, everybody does make mistakes — even speed skaters. All of us, at some point in our lives, have sinned. In fact the Bible says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” This means that we cannot have the fellowship with God that we would like to have. This also means that we are destined for eternal punishment and separation from God in an awful place called Hell.

All is not lost, however! The good news is that our Creator made a way for us — yes, us with all of our imperfections — to still have a relationship with Him. He did this by sending His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to take upon Himself the punishment that we deserved for our sins. Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth (or showed) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” For a moment in time, God turned his back on His own Son and poured out His wrath on Him so that we could be eternally saved. It was the perfect sacrifice.

MUSICAL SELECTION:”Perfect People” by Natalie Grant

GLMX #182: How to Have a Change of Heart

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“Trust your heart.” You’ve heard it said many times. You’ve probably even said it a few times yourself.

When a young person has to choose between two equally good colleges, their parents might tell them, “just trust your heart.”

When a woman knows that two men are interested in her romantically, and she has to decide which one she will date or marry, her friends might tell her, “just trust your heart, girl.”

When a man has two equally good job offers, and he can’t seem to decide which one to accept, his friends might tell him, “just trust your heart.”

“Just trust your heart” — it’s pretty popular advice, but it might not always be the best advice.

Do you know what the Bible says about the human heart? It says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Why do we sin, do bad things, and make mistakes? Because of our hearts, which the Bible says are “desperately wicked.”

Many parents have lamented the fact that their children don’t have to be taught to do wrong, but they do have to be taught to do what is right. Why? Because their hearts, from birth, are wicked. In fact, the Bible says in Psalm 58:3, “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.”

Why do so many people struggle with drugs and pornography — returning again and again to these sins and vices even though they know their lives are being ruined by them and that they are becoming addicted? Because of the heart. God says that the heart is “desperately wicked.” That is so true; the heart so often leads us astray.

Why is it so easy for “good kids” — who come from good families and have everything that money could buy — to be influenced by negative peer pressure and end up ruining their lives dealing in drugs or crime and ending up in prison? Why? Because the heart is “desperately wicked.”

Why do men and women, regardless of age, race, and ethnicity, lie, cheat, steal, commit fornication, commit adultery, hate, and kill. Why? Because the heart is “desperately wicked.”

You see, it’s not always a good idea to trust your heart.

MUSICAL SELECTION: “Change My Heart, Oh God” by Eddie Espinosa

GLMX #181: You Can Handle the Truth and the Truth Will Set You Free

Truth

Truth

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In the iconic courtroom scene from the movie “A Few Good Men”, Colonel Nathan Jessup, played masterfully by Jack Nicholson, tells his cross-examiner Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee (played by Tom Cruise), “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” That line has gone down in film history as one of the most famous lines ever delivered.

At different times in our lives, each of us have been or will be searching for the truth about something — Not only for the the truth in legal matters, but the truth in family matters, the truth in job matters, the truth in educational matters, and the truth about our past. We all want to know the truth as to why things happened the way they did and the truth about how things turned out the way they did. We also want to know the truth about our future so that we can make the right decisions and take the right steps.

Perhaps, the most important area in which we seek the truth is in spiritual matters — or what some would call metaphysics. Great philosophers and thinkers of the past, such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Anselm, Descartes, John Milton, Immanuel Kant, and others, spent much of their lives struggling with these questions. They wanted to know: What is truth? What is the truth about human origins? How did we get here? What is our purpose? Where do we go when we die?

Nearly 2,000 years ago, a man named Jesus Christ was unjustly put on trial under the Roman government. Pilate, who was the governor of that region and who was presiding over the trial, asked a question that many people have asked since. The Bible tells us in John 18 that Pilate simply asked Jesus, “What is truth?”, and then he left the Judgment Hall and went to address the crowd that had gathered to see the proceedings. Numerous Biblical scholars have lamented the fact that Pilate did not wait for an answer from Jesus Christ regarding this all-important question of truth. The British Methodist theologian Adam Clarke wrote, “Among the sages of that time there were many opinions concerning truth; and some had even supposed that it was a thing utterly out of the reach of men. Pilate perhaps might have asked the question in a mocking way; and his not staying to get an answer indicated that he either despaired of getting a satisfactory one, or that he was indifferent about it. This is the case with thousands: they appear desirous of knowing the truth, but have not patience to wait in a proper way to receive an answer to their question.”

Dear friend, I will tell you in a few minutes what Jesus Christ said about truth.

In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Michael Glanzberg writes, “Truth is one of the central subjects in philosophy. It is also one of the largest. Truth has been a topic of discussion in its own right for thousands of years.” Even today, skeptics, men of faith, and men of science take the time to wrestle with these “big questions” of life. The truth about these spiritual matters — and what we choose to believe — shapes our worldview, helps us to determine our purpose in life, helps mold our passions and motivations, and informs us on how to face the end of our lives. These are important questions that every human being deserves to know the truth about. And I believe that you can handle the truth because the truth will set you free.

That latter phrase — “the truth will set you free” — is a quotation from Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who declared Himself to be, “the way, the truth, and the life.” All truth, no matter what it applies to, is God’s truth and is freedom-giving. But it is only the truth that Jesus Christ offers that frees us from the grip of the curse that has enslaved humanity and gives us the ability to live life freely, abundantly, and forever.

MUSICAL SELECTION: “Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns

GLMX #180: Dr. King and the King of Kings

 

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This message is important to me because I came to faith in Jesus Christ through the efforts of a white, independent Baptist church in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, that for many years did not accept black members, but in the late ‘70s was led to start a black church while I was in the Air Force and stationed at Kessler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, at the age of nineteen. As I interacted with the leaders and members of that church, and even the pastor of the black church plant, I heard some negative things about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that I had never heard before. Some people tried to discredit him by suggesting that he was not a true minister of the Gospel, and even that he did not have a genuine relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. They viewed him as just a mere social worker, with some even claiming that he was a Communist. Even some of the blacks in that young church did not think too highly of Dr. King.

I must admit that I did have concerns and questions about this matter because I was raised in the black Baptist church and the black Pentecostal Holiness church, with my dad being a Baptist preacher and my mother being a Pentecostal preacher, and yet I had never heard a clear presentation of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ on how to be saved until I was nineteen-years-old, and a young man named Michael Lewis, who had gotten saved through this church plant that an all-white independent Baptist church had started, came to my dorm room and showed me what was commonly called the Romans Road to salvation from the book of Romans in the Bible. Up until that point, no one had asked me the question, if I were to die today, where would I go, heaven or hell?

Thankfully, the Lord allowed me to keep an independent mind about the matter through all of that, and I came to see Dr. King as God’s man for that particular time in this nation’s history to help deliver both blacks and whites in this country from the ignorance of racism and prejudice. I even learned later that Dr. King tried to get into a white conservative Christian seminary, but he was rejected because of his race. However, based on his words and his life, it seems as though Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did know the King of Kings — the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only that, but the faith, courage, and fortitude that he showed (and that he inspired others to have) as he led the very dangerous Civil Rights movement speaks of a man who knew Jesus Christ as his Savior and had an abiding faith in God.

According to the book, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, by historian Taylor Branch: In 1934, when a guest minister at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta made a strong pitch for the salvation of young souls, Martin Luther King Jr. watched his sister rise to make the first profession of faith in Christ. Impulsively, as he later confessed, “I decided that I would not let her get ahead of me, so I was the next.”

Also in his book, Strength to Love, Dr. King wrote: “Bound by the chains of his own sin and finiteness, man needs a Saviour (Jesus Christ). Man cannot save himself, for man is not the measure of all things and humanity is not God.” We see here that, contrary to what some thought of King, he did not believe that man could get to Heaven by doing good works. He believed that he and everyone needed a Savior — Jesus Christ.

He also said, “Only through an inner spiritual transformation do we gain the strength to fight victoriously the evils of the world in a humble and loving spirit.” That sounds like what Jesus Christ called being “born again” when He told Nicodemus in John 3:3 & 7, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”…