Monday, May 13, 2019

Do You Have a “Blank-Sheet” Policy With Jesus?

“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in 
the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:62

A young man was eager to grow in his faith and serve Christ. So, he got out a piece of paper and made a list of all the things he would do for God. He wrote down the things he would give up, the places he would go to serve and the areas of ministry where he would volunteer. He was so excited. He took that list to church the next Sunday and placed it on the altar. He thought he would feel joy, but instead he felt empty.

So, he went home and started adding to his list. He wrote down more things he would give up, more places he would go to serve and more areas of ministry where he would volunteer. The next Sunday he put the longer list on the altar, but he still felt nothing. Feeling a bit hopeless, he went to a wise old pastor. He explained his situation and asked for help. The pastor said, “Take a blank sheet of paper. Sign your name at the bottom, and put that sheet on the altar.” The young man did, and peace came to his heart.

You see, this is the attitude we need to have: “Jesus, you fill in the details, and I’ll do it.” Do you have a blank sheet policy with Jesus?

In Luke 9:57-62, Jesus encountered three men who offered to follow him. Luke records those three quick conversations for us. They show that although our salvation is a free gift from God, following Jesus does come at a cost. And these three conversations help clarify what Jesus expects of his followers.

1. A complete sacrifice of our possessions. The first man who approached Jesus vowed, “I will follow you wherever you go” (v. 57). But evidently, the man’s promise to Jesus wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, because Jesus responded, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (v. 58). His point seems to have been this: “Friend, I don’t have a home here on earth. I’m homeless. I go wherever God the Father sends me, and I stay with whomever is willing to take me in. I’m not pulling around a U-haul trailer filled with all my stuff, because I only have the clothes on my back. If you’re serious about following me, you’ll need to do the same. So, what do you say?”

Jesus may not ask us to give up everything we own. But we’d better be sure that nothing we have comes before him in our hearts. If your stuff is getting in the way of following him, then Jesus will likely ask you to get rid of the stuff that has turned into an idol in your life.

2. A complete devotion to Jesus alone. The second man Jesus spoke to said he would follow Jesus, but first he wanted to “go and bury my father” (v. 59). Jesus responded, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God” (v. 60). Now, this isn’t as callous as it sounds. In first-century Jewish culture, “bury my father” referred to the entire process of taking care of an elderly father, burying him with dignity and disposing of his estate. So, in all likelihood, this man’s father hadn’t died and probably wasn’t even close to it. In other words, he was asking for an indefinite delay in following Jesus. Therefore, Jesus’ message to the man was: “Let the spiritually dead bury their own physically dead, but you go and proclaim the spiritual kingdom of God. The world needs to hear the gospel much more than your father needs to hear your eulogy.”

Jesus’ response to this man was about realigning his priorities. Taking care of his father was not a bad thing—it was a good thing. But it wasn’t the most important thing. And as God’s word has taught us in the past, oftentimes, what is GOOD is the enemy of what is BEST.

3. A complete commitment to God’s kingdom mission. Finally, Jesus spoke to a third man who offered to follow him but said, “First let me go back and say goodbye to my family” (v. 61). Jesus’ answer in verse 62No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God”—must have sounded harsh to a guy who just asked to say goodbye to his parents. But Jesus’ point was this: “Once you leave your life of sin and separation from God, it’s crazy to look back with a longing glance to your old, dead life. If your old, dead life seems that alluring to you, then you should just go back to it.” He was telling this man that to serve the kingdom of God, there was no turning backno Plan B.

So, what is the cost of following Jesus? Well, it will cost you your sin. You’ll have to give that up. It will cost you your separation from God. You’ll have to give that up, too. It will cost you your earthly possessions. You’ll have to surrender your stuff to God for Him to use as He sees fit. It will cost you your screwed-up priorities and your procrastination. And it will cost you your Plan B. If you choose to follow Jesus Christ as Plan A, you’ll have to permanently scrap Plan B. You can’t look back. You follow and serve Christ with everything you’ve got, or you don’t follow Him at all. He deserves nothing less than your very best: your everything.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church of Victorville and the author of "Holy Huldah! Lessons You'll Never Forget From Bible Characters You Never Heard Of." Visit, and join us for our Worship Celebration Sundays at 10 a.m.

Monday, May 6, 2019

So, You Want to Be Great?

For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest. – Luke 9:48b

Just about every sports expert agrees that Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest boxers of all time. His joint records of beating 21 boxers for the world heavyweight title and winning 14 unified title bouts stood for 35 years. Sports Illustrated ranked him as the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. And ESPN ranked him as the third greatest athlete of the 20th century.

But as famous as he was in boxing, Muhammad Ali was best known for his trash talking. Before rap and hip-hop became mainstream, he would rattle off taunts and verbal jabs that were sheer poetry. Before fighting George Foreman, he said: “I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.” And here are a few of his other classic lines: “I’m so mean, I make medicine sick!” “If you even dream of beating me, you’d better wake up and apologize!” And one of his most famous quotes of all was, “I am the greatest! I said that even before I knew I was!”

Let’s just say that Muhammad Ali was not what you’d call a humble guy, and that made him really entertaining. But when that kind of arrogance is carried out by followers of Christ, who are supposed to be humbly serving others, it’s downright tragic.

And in Luke 9, it would appear that humility wasn’t on the minds of Jesus’ disciples. Luke tells us in verse 46 that the 12 disciples got into an argument “as to which of them would be the greatest.” Now, because James and John had just seen Jesus gloriously transformed a few days earlier on the Mount of Transfiguration, and because we read in Matthew 20 that a few weeks later James and John came with their mommy to ask Jesus to give them the best seats in heaven, I think it’s safe to say that James and John were instigators of this argument. In short, some of the apostles were dealing with what I like to call “Muhammad Ali Syndrome.” They had over-inflated views of their own self-worth.

But Jesus put a stop to their chatter with a classic response. He brought a little child to stand beside him and told them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest” (v. 48). Writing about this incident, Chuck Swindoll said, “The response by Jesus is priceless…. He rebuked [his disciples] by embracing a child, someone too small, too weak, too helpless to be great. With the little boy standing with Him, Jesus rearranged the worldly pecking order. He upset the normal conventions of hierarchy in leadership. His speech was simple, consisting of three statements.”

And what were those three statements? 1) Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me. 2) Whoever welcomes me welcomes God the Father. 3) He who is least among you all is the greatest. And Mark offers us this powerful addendum to Jesus’ teaching in Mark 9:35: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

We call this style of leadership “servant leadership.” And surprise, surprise, in the past 40 years, secular management gurus around the world have come to the conclusion that servant leadership is the most effective way for any CEO to lead. We lead others most effectively by serving others. Our greatness is not defined by how much we get others to serve us, but by how much we serve others.

Jesus’ definition of greatness is so different from the world’s definition of greatness. But sadly, far too many Christians choose to pursue greatness in the eyes of the world instead of greatness in the eyes of God. Far too many Christians pursue prestige, power and fame. But Jesus calls us back to a humbler, simpler Christianity—a Christianity marked by putting others’ needs above our own, by getting our hands dirty loving those whose lives are messy and undesirable, and by being the first to volunteer to be last.

On the heels of seeing Jesus in glorified form on the Mount of Transfiguration, what should have humbled James and John actually had caused their heads to swell. Jesus’ teaching about humbly serving others completely escaped them. It didn’t sink in. They so wanted to be great, but they just didn’t get it. They were still clueless about what true greatness looks like in Jesus’ kingdom. At this point in time, they were clueless, but in the days following Easter Sunday, their eyes would be opened. They would finally understand the truth, and they would be changed forever.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church of Victorville and the author of "Holy Huldah! Lessons You'll Never Forget From Bible Characters You Never Heard Of." Visit, and join us for our Worship Celebration Sundays at 10 a.m.