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This week's sermon:

             Luke 14:1,7-14  -  "How To Stay Humble In A Haughty World"
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The Olympics this year has had its share of great moments but none greater than that of Paul Hamm. He’s the gymnast who is embroiled in the controversy with the judges who messed up a Korean’s score in effect giving Paul Hamm the gold. But before that controversy began it was an incredible moment. Hamm was in first place. Now remember, no American man has ever won the Olympic all around. Then came the vault. His vault was a spectacular failure. In fact it was the most embarrassing moment I have ever seen in the Olympics.  He missed his landing so bad that he stumbled; fell on his rear off the matt and landed in the arms of a scoring judge. As a result he dropped from first place to 12th with two events left. How do you recover from that?


Here’s how. You follow the most embarrassing Olympic moment with one of the most historic. He put together an incredible parallel bars routine and then an even better high bar. He did three perfect, progressively more powerful releases, and then stuck his landing. And in that moment there was no controversy. He had won the gold and deserved the gold.


But then this scoring issue erupted and all these opinion pieces are being written saying he should return the gold, he should keep the gold, he doesn’t deserve it, he does deserve it. Some have even seen in this an increase in the tensions between the United States and Korea. The most interesting suggestion came from a few writers who suggested that Paul, during the individual events, should take the medal, walk over to that Korean man and hang the medal around his neck. That would truly be a magnanimous thing to do. It would move Paul from Gold to Bronze and the Korean man from bronze to Gold.


A willingness to take the lesser medal is something on the order of what Jesus has in mind in this parable. Look with me as we examine Jesus' story about a party. As the guests arrive they are quickly grabbing the front row seats—the places of honor—the gold chairs. Assuming they are the most important guests, they will soon be embarrassed, Jesus says, by someone more distinguished. They will be asked to get up and move to the end of the table, to take the bronze chairs. They will be dishonored before all.


How do we avoid humiliation? How do you stay humble in a haughty world? There are two things that we must do.


1. Don't put yourself in a position to eat humble pie (vss. 7-11).

2. We should not expect to be honored in this life (vss. 12-14).


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What Is Unique About Christianity?

The story of Jesus sitting and debating the Law with rabbis reminds me of another debate that took place in a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity. Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God became incarnate in human form. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.” Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead.

Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, armful of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what's all this rumpus about?” Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We're debating what's unique about Christianity.” “Oh, that's easy,” answered Lewis, “it's....


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