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December 29, 2016, 8:29 PM

Whose Feet You Washin?


In John 13, we find one of the oddest interactions between Jesus and His disciples. Of all the strange conversations, interactions, and reactions that we see in the gospels; this one may be the oddest. Jesus gets up from the dinner table, and washes the feet of his disciples. This is strange for a multitude of reasons. 

First, it is strange for cultural reasons. Washing feet was considered a humiliating task in Jesus’ day.  So humiliating that a Hebrew slave could not be required to wash guests feet. It may not have been customary for someone to wash guest's feet, but it was customary for arrangements to be made for guest to have clean feet.  But this job would have fallen to the low man, not the leader of the house. Jesus was the undisputed leader of the group.  They referred to him as Rabbi and Master.  It would have been shameful to see Jesus begin to wash their feet. 

Next, it is strange for practical reasons. It was not necessary for Jesus to wash their feet. He could have just as easily told them that they need to get up and wash their feet. When you come to the dinner table with dirty hands, Momma doesn't bring soap and water over and wash your hands for you. She demands that you show some respect and go wash your hands. It is strange because he goes out of his way to wash their feet. In a lasting and powerful demonstration, Jesus sets an unusual precedent. 

Lastly, it is strange because Jesus tells his disciples to follow his example. That begs the question of “What do we do with that example today?” Many churches and denominations will have a 'foot washing service, and they can be no doubt very powerful services. But, it doesn't have near the significance today that it did in Jesus’ day.  Here are some questions that I think can help us follow Jesus’ example today:

Where am I doing what nobody else wants to do? Where am I serving in ways that require me to humble myself? Who am I serving that society says should be serving me? When am I willing to do what is not necessary in order to serve others? 

Jesus’ actions and command requires us to humble ourselves and serve others. If we truly want to be his followers: then we must do so even when we don't want to, even when we don't think we should have to, and even when it is something that we don't want to do.  Following Jesus is hard.




December 15, 2016, 12:29 PM

Our Brokenness vs. God's Greatness



One thing that I have learned as we have walked through different people in the lineage of Jesus is that the Bible make no effort to hide it's scars. There are people in the Bible who do not necessarily have to be there. Scripture could just as easily have glossed over them with a passing mention. In fact, Scripture does that with so many people. The book of Numbers is nothing but a long list of people who get a quick mention but nothing else. Something like: “Bill lived and had these kids,” and that is all we know.  At some point in time a guy named Bill was alive and had kids. 

But there are people that have their whole story told in Scripture; or at least a part of their story that makes it feel like it is the whole story. People who I feel pretty confident would have rather been glossed over with just a passing mention. People who have an embarrassing story. A story they are probably ashamed to remember, much less record it for the rest of time. 

This has brought two questions to my mind.  1.) Why does Scripture make sure to include the broken, bruised and shameful stories?  2.) If Scripture makes no effort to hide its scars, then why do we as the church put so much effort into convincing people that we are perfect?

Answering question one makes me think of Christmas with my family. All the moms and cousins would gather around and put together puzzles. Not small puzzles, but large complicated puzzles of Thomas Kinkade paintings. I was never allowed to help because I wasn't skilled enough to work the puzzle, even though I had many small puzzles that I had memorized. The more pieces the puzzle is broken into, the more it reveals the skill of the one putting it back together. God's greatest works of redemption are not those with perfect comfortable lives. His greatest master pieces display His ability to take something totally broken and put it back together. 

Answering question two makes us acknowledge the truth in question one. We know we are broken, but we don't want others to know it too. We must reach the place in our walk with Christ that our confidence lies in our Savior's ability to put us back together. Only then can we be honest with one another about: 1.) how broken we really are, and 2.) how great God really is. 

Our brokenness reveals the greatness of His redemptive work. 




December 7, 2016, 7:12 PM

Christmas Brings Hope



As we wind our way down the broken road toward Christmas, one thing should be noted: God never uses perfect people. That is good news, because none of us are perfect people. What we need is the hope on one who is, and that is exactly what Christmas represents. 

Today we look at Ruth's story. Ruth had some major issues. But, for some reason God chose to include Ruth in his line to the Messiah. Maybe you can identify with some of her struggles.

Ruth was a widow. This in itself is not what made Ruth imperfect, but it does clue us in on some of her struggles. Ruth knew the pain of losing her husband. Ruth understood the fear that it brings. Ruth was a widow in a day and time when being a widow left women exposed and vulnerable. Ruth understood heartache.

Ruth was an outsider. She was a Moabite in a country that despised Moabites. The phrase: “We don't want your kind around here” was something that she more than likely heard at some point in her life. Ruth was the wrong kind of person.  

Ruth was helpless. We find her picking up the left over grain in the fields. This was not a path to prosperity. It was a life of desperation. A life of questioning what will happen to me next. Ruth lived a life of uncertainty.   

Maybe you know the pain of heartache. Maybe you feel like you are the wrong kind of person. Maybe you are living in a season of doubt and uncertainty. There is hope. 

For all that would make Ruth an unlikely great, great…grandmother of Jesus; Ruth was a woman of certain hope. At the lowest point, Ruth turned her hope to Jesus. With her statement to Naomi of “your God will be my God,” Ruth put her trust and hope in the living power of the God of Israel. Ruth placed her hope in a coming Messiah, and God brought her into the family of His Son. 

Ruth finds the same hope in Christmas that you and I can find today. Just as God brought her into the family that would birth His Son; God adopts us as sons and daughters through the death & resurrection of His Son. All we must do is follow Ruth's example and place our trust and hope in that same Messiah.  




November 30, 2016, 5:53 PM

The Broken Road to Christmas



Christmas is a time of decorations, excessive sweets, and crowded stores. Christmas is a time of family, friends, and meaningful traditions. Christmas is a time of singing, laughing, giving, and love. Christmas is a time of idealized life. At Christmas, the world is just closer to what it should be all year long. 

I used to think that Christmas was a time when we all ignored our real problems. The hustle and bustle of the busiest time of the year somehow makes us euphoric enough to forget our stresses and struggles. But, I have come to realize that maybe I had it all wrong. Maybe, Christmas time makes us realize exactly who we should be and serves as a time of hope for what the world could actually be someday. So, we are a little nicer. We share a little more. We give a little more. We think of others a little more. 

Christmas is a beautiful time of the year. But, Christmas also has its ugly side as well. We get all mixed up in making sure we are giving our kids as much as our rival neighbor. We are kind in the office, but our rage comes out in full force while in line on Black Friday. Christmas may make us forget our problems, but it can also highlight them at the same time. 

But, this is exactly what we find in scripture. The whole Bible is centered on Christmas and the life of Christ.  The perfect hope of God, given to us in the person of Jesus. But the build up to that hope is full of ugly, disgusting, and sinful stories. Stories that demonstrate the worst in humanity. Stories that demonstrate our desperate need for the hope that only God can provide. 

This Christmas, if we must hide from our struggles, let us hide in the hope of God in Christ. This Christmas, let us rejoice in Jesus and hold fast to the hope He has provided for our brokenness. Let's travel the Broken Road to Christmas in hope and Joy.  




November 23, 2016, 1:53 PM

Attitude of Gratitude


In looking up information on Thanksgiving, I found this article in the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible.  It was exactly what I was looking for and exactly what I needed to read.  I thought that I would share it with you here. 

Gratitude:

Natural expression of thanks in response to blessings, protection, or love. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, gratitude is not a tool used to manipulate the will of God. It is never coerced or fabricated in one’s mind; rather, gratitude is a joyful commitment of one’s personality to God.

In the OT, gratitude to God was the only condition in which life could be enjoyed. For Jews, every aspect of creation provided evidence of God’s lordship over all life. The Hebrew people thanked him for the magnificence of the universe. When they received good news they thanked God for his goodness and great deeds. When they received bad news, they also gave thanks, trusting that he was a just God.

These same sentiments are found in later Jewish writings such as the Talmud. The people of Israel thanked God for his faithfulness to covenant promises: (1) for deliverance from enemies (Ps 18:17; 30:1; 44:1–8) and from death (Ps 30:8–12; Is 38:18–20; (2) for forgiveness of sin (Ps 32:5; 99:8; 103:3; Is 12:1); (3) for answers to prayer (Ps 28:6; 66:19); (4) for compassion toward the afflicted and oppressed (34:2; 72:12); (5) for executing justice (Dt 32:4; Ps 99:4); (6) and for continuing guidance (Ps 32:8; Is 30:20, 21).

Gratitude was such a vital part of Israel’s religion that it pervaded most ceremonies and customs. Thank offerings acknowledged blessings from God. Shouts of joy, songs of praise, and music and dance all added to the spirit of thanksgiving in worship. Feasts and festivals were celebrated in remembrance of God’s steadfast love throughout their history. King David appointed levitical priests to offer God thanks. This custom was carried on by the kings Solomon and Hezekiah, and by those who returned from the exile.

Thankfulness is a key to scriptural living, but is it a key part of our daily life?


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