Summary: We can be released from our “addiction to self” by submitting to the grace of the Gospel; the 12 steps are especially illustrative here.

Mushrooms or Maple Trees:

Spiritual Growth as God Intended

Sermon #5

Sermon Objective: We can be released from our “addiction to self” by submitting to the grace of the Gospel; the 12 steps are especially illustrative here.


We are in a sermon series called Mushrooms and Maple Trees. Mushrooms sprout up overnight and then wither away in a matter of days. Maple trees, on the other hand, grow gradually while learning to withstand the forces of nature that threaten their existence. They result in a majestic fruit bearing entity that lasts for generations.

So it is with people who follow Christ. Unfortunately some wither away very rapidly; but others grow deep and strong and produce the fruit of life that God designed for them.

In chapter 8 and 9 of Mark we are discovering elements of a Christ-follower that produce this depth and substance to life.

Just as Jesus was preparing and grooming the first disciples to be Maple Trees so we will discover that as we apply the lessons to our lives we, too, will grow in kind. Maple Tree style followers live lives that please God.

In past weeks we discovered that a life that pleases God is:

1. A life that follows Him Personally (8:27-33)

2. A life that follows Him in Full Surrender (8:34-38)

3. A life that follows Him in Obedience (9:1-8)

4. A life that follows Him in Close Connectedness (9:14-29)

Today we will discover that a life that pleases God is a LIFE THAT FOLLOWS HIM IN HUMILITY (9:33-35)

>>Begin reading at Mark 9:14 to set the scene<<

Mk 9:33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?”

Mk 9:34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

Mk 9:35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”


>>Show the Sermonspice video “It’s All About Me<<

I’ve been paying close attention to some recent research about addictions. Listen to this snippet from one recent article:

Addiction Gene (

Genetics researchers have confirmed that people with a different form of a certain gene are more susceptible to drug and alcohol addiction. They hope the finding will help predict who might get hooked and what treatments will help those who do.

As reported in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Researcher Wolfgang Sadee and his colleagues looked at two variations, A118G and G118 of the mu-opioid receptor gene.

Researchers led by Sadee, a scientist at the Ohio State University, have figured out how differences in one gene can make the brain more sensitive to alcohol, narcotics, or nicotine. The gene Sadee’s team looked at has long been known to code for a kind of brain protein called an opioid receptor, which acts like a switch, turning on pleasure and blocking pain when triggered by certain addictive drugs.

I want to talk to you this morning about addiction. I have come to a conclusion that there is an addiction far stronger than the addiction caused by the aberrant mu-opioid receptor gene.

The addiction is rampant and real. And, like most victims of addiction, those who have it tend to deny it.

The addiction has a tailored segment of the population that is pre-disposed. Just as science tells us some people are pre-disposed to alcohol addiction (which should not be confused with science saying they WILL be alcoholics or that they cannot overcome the allurement) so, this addiction attracts those who are disposed towards it.

The addiction is terribly destructive. Life shows us that those with addictions not only harm themselves but the lives of those around them; so too with this addiction. All those within the addict’s network become affected – it ravages and destroys entire family systems.

The addiction is very pervasive. Just as some addictions lead to other parasitic addictions, so too with this one … in fact it is the “Mother of all addictions.” All other addictions find the roots within this one.

• It is Real

• It is Rampant

• It is Attractive

• It is Destructive

• It is Pervasive

• It is Descriptive

This addiction is … THE ADDICTION TO SELF.

I am not trying to be cute or play on words. I genuinely believe this is a real pathological addiction that affects all of humankind.

As with any addiction, this one alters the manner by which we view our world.

It distorts our perspective. We think everything is about us. We become the grid by which every decision, every stimuli, every problem, every human scenario is judged.

It alters our behavior. It is the reason we dabble in sin, neglect other’s needs, are mean to people, lie, pursue materialism, steal, consume inordinate amount of non-renewable resources, and …. the list goes on.

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