Archive for July, 2010

22
Jul
10

My Feet Too?

So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist,  and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. -John 13:4-5 (NLT)

There were no paved roads in Israel; they were dirt.  There were lots of animals to be encountered along the roads that Jesus and the disciples traveled…donkeys and goats and sheep and cattle leave stuff behind them that make for treacherous footing.  Without modern sewage systems, what people often threw into the streets from their doorways wasn’t always just dishwater.  Sandals were hardly sufficient protective footwear for what could be potentially and probably trodden through.  Is it any wonder then why it was the lowest and most humiliating of jobs for a household servant in those days was to wash the filth and grime of the road from the feet of their masters and visitors? 

Now, with these images in mind, picture Jesus rising from the dinner table on that final night before His execution and placing Himself in the garb and the role of that same lowliest and humblest of household servants.  Imagine the immediate confused, surprised and even horrified looks of the Disciples as He began washing the dirt, filth and even dung from between their toes and the soles and ankles of their weary feet.  They were witnessing the Master…Teacher…Lord…Son of God…King of Kings…Messiah…God Incarnate, doing what only the sorriest and least valued of society and households was considered worthy to do!

It is the ultimate picture of humble and willing servanthood, but it is much more than that.  It is the picture and example of willing grace and forgiveness, even prior to the events requiring grace and forgiveness .  Never miss the fact that as Jesus washed the feet of the gathered disciples, His betrayer, Judas had not yet departed to sell out His Lord.  No, when he left to report the whereabouts of Jesus and receive his pay, he did so with feet freshly cleaned by Christ.  And Peter, so reluctant to allow His Master serve him in this fashion, would deny ever having known Him three times before the rising of the Sun.  And yet, His foreknowledge these matters did not stop the Savior from setting the example…from showing the way…from modeling sacrificial servanthood.

As hard as this might have been for the disciples to witness and to experience….as hard as it may even be for us to read about it, the hard part hasn’t yet occurred.  Here’s the hard part out the mouth of The One doing the washing.  Are you ready?  And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.  I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.  I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. (John 13:14-16)

The tough part was, that as His followers, Jesus expected the disciples to follow His example.  The tough part is, that as His followers, Jesus expects us to follow the same example!  There may be someone who has betrayed us…denied us….hurt us…brought tremendous harm to us, or will do so in the future, and if we are to represent Jesus then we must represent His servanthood…His forgiveness…His grace in the same manner as He did. 

Washing the feet of the ones we feel deserve it?  That might not be so hard.  Washing the feet of those who hurt us most?  That may not come so easily.  But then consider this question…

“If I had been in the room, would He have washed my feet?  Would I deserve it?”

 

 

   

14
Jul
10

This Dog…

We have a Black Labrador Retriever named Ash.  This dog is a clown.  This dog is hard headed.  This dog is a hand full.  He and I have been hanging out today and here are a few things I have noted during our time together.

This dog…

  • carefully watches my every move
  • is excited to see me every time I show up (even if I’ve only been gone for 10 minutes)
  • constantly follows me from room to room
  • sits (or lies) restfully at my feet while I work
  • waits patiently and dependantly for me to give him food and water (and the occasional treat)
  • cries when there is a closed door separating us
  •  comes when I call him
  • submits to my authority (usually)
  • is sad when he knows I am not pleased
  • craves the comfort of my touch
  • is faithful
  • loves me without condition

This dog is a picture of the kind of relationship I desire with my Master.  I love this dog, but not nearly as much as my Master loves me.

07
Jul
10

Each Day

They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. – Acts 2:46-47 (NLT)

Shortly after I came to Lifepoint Church, I heard about a conversation (I did not personally hear) that took place between my Pastor, Jeff Kapusta and a visitor to our church.  Being impressed by what she had experienced during her visit, she said to Jeff, “This is wonderful!  When do you plan to move into your own building?”  I loved his answer then and I love it now.  He said something like, “It would be great to be able to walk in on Sunday morning and simply turn on the lights without having to do all the moving and set up we do each week as a portable church.  But, let me ask you this…What if we never build our own building?  Would you be okay with that?”  I always believed the implied question within Pastor’s question is, “Would we still  continue to be a church if we never have a church-building?”

I want to explore the question a bit further.  I seem to be drawn beyond real estate and architecture and physical facilities.  Is the Church (not just Lifepoint Church) only the church on Sunday morning?  Is it only the Church when it is gathered together?  Does the Church stop being the Church when it isn’t done the way “we’ve always done it?”  Is the Church 200 people, or 2000 people, or 2 people?  Do I believe what I believe about the Church, or have I merely come to accept what I have always known or been told about the Church?

This morning I returned to one of those passages of Scripture that is so familiar that in reading it, if one is not careful important matters may be missed.  As I did, two phrases jumped off the page and struck my heartstrings like a heavy-metal guitarist.  “Each day,” and “all the while.”

The embyronic, original Church did not gather only on Sunday, or on the traditional Jewish sabbath.  They gathered “each day.”  And it seems that they gathered both “at the Temple” and “met in homes.”  EACH DAY!  We are told that they shared meals together “each day.”  It can reasonably assumed that if they were gathering in one another’s homes and sharing meals that they were also sharing life, which means they were sharing not only each other’s “great joy” and “generosity,” but also each other’s troubles and concerns.  It was intimate.  It was personal.  It was relational.  It was family!

Then there is the second attention snatching phrase.  “All the while,” implies that what marked the early church as church was that it was a continual, consistant and unending process/state of existance.  All the while [continually] they were giving praise to God!  All the while [consistantly] they were enjoying the one another’s good will [best efforts and intentions and generosity].

And finally, and most importantly, there is a return to the first phrase, “each day.”  The whole sentence states, “And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”  Please note what it does not say.  It does not say “Each Sunday people were saved.”  It does not say, “Each week our membership numbers went up.”  And please do not miss this….it does not say, “Each day our evangelism program paid off and people got saved.”  It says, “The Lord added to their fellowship…!”  Which indicates that they were being dependant on God and not on themselves or on their programs or on their talent and skill to grow the church.

So, I’m just wondering, as I am often led to do…is this what our present day model looks like?  Should this be the model for our modern church, or just the way it used to be but has changed?  Do we want to be a once a week organization, or is it important for us to return to being an each day, all the while, living breathing organism?  Is the modern church building because the Lord is doing the addition of souls (people), or are we dependant on a building or a building fund to make additions to our size (numbers and facility)?

These are the kind of things that God is causing me to wonder about more each day and I keep wondering and praying about them all the while…..!

01
Jul
10

Guest Blogger: Barbara Williams

(I don’t believe that there has ever been a guest author on my blog.  This one is kinda special.  I’d like to welcome my wife Barbara!  Gee whiz I love this woman! -Eddie Williams)

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7 (NLT)

Some people need their coffee in the morning to get their day started off right.  I need my Diet Mt. Dew.  This morning I stopped, as I often do, at a vending machine at the nearby gas station to pick one up on the way to work.  As I entered the first of my coins and was about to drop in a second, the first one clanked into the coin return slot.  Undeterred and determined to get my morning Dew, I retrieved the coin and again dropped it into the slot.  Again it fell straight through the machine and into the return opening.  Now, I was getting a little frustrated and maybe even a little concerned about the time.  With a sigh and perhaps even a little growl, I made another attempt to purchase my soda and once more all I got was a returned quarter.  It was then that I noticed the message scrolling past on the little view screen….”Please Make a Selection.”  Slowly, through my early morning fog, it dawned on me what was happening, and with pointed finger pressed the button labeled, “Diet Mountain Dew.”  Immediately, I heard the familiar sounds of the successful dispensing of a soda, and kerplunck, there awaiting my grasp was a 20 ounce bottle of liquid green awakening….ABSOLUTELY FREE!  Apparently some previous consumer, either intentionally or accidently, had left me a gift.

As I drove to work, enjoying the first sips of my favorite beverage, I began to think is this the way we sometimes approach God.  We put our prayer money into the big heavenly vending machine we call God and if we don’t get what we want, as quickly as we want, we become impatient and cranky.  Maybe we wonder if something is worng with us or the way we prayed.  We might think we must not have inserted the coins right, or they must be bent, or not good enough.  We might even be tempted to kick our machine or call it a bad name.  All we know is we aren’t getting what we want.  We think of God like we think of a vending machine.  And when we want something really bad and come to God to get it and He doesn’t immediately dispense our exact wishes, we think He’s either being stingy or He is unable.  How often do we miss the fact that He already knew what we want and need and has already made it available to us?  Somebody already anticipated our greatest need and has paid for it in full, and His name is Jesus.  All we have to do is recieve it. 

Whoever paid for my Diet Mt. Dew….thanks!  And Lord Jesus, thank You for waking me up.

01
Jul
10

Repressing Our Inner Gaga

I readily confess that in my waning years I seem to have grown woefully out of touch with current music trends and what is popular on most Top Ten lists.  As such, I am aware of, but not familiar with or a fan of Lady Gaga or her music (assuming it is that).  All I know about her is what I pick up through news and the few occasions I have had the displeasure of seeing her perform on TV.  I did note with interest last week, however, her appearance at a New York Mets baseball game  (being more a fan of baseball than Gaga).  It seems she showed up and caused quite the row, dressed in a short leather jacket and tiny studded bikini.  Then when she was noticed by news media and fans (as if that were not her intent) she demanded to be taken to Jerry Seifeld’s private box suite, and from there further made a spectatcle of herself by making obscene gestures (the finger) at fans and media.  In an unrelated event weeks before, Gaga attended the graduation of her little sister clothed in a large brimmed black hat, veil with a nude body suit beneath.  Both incidents sadly speak to someone so self-absorbed that she would even refuse to allow her own sister to be the center of attention on a day which should rightfully be honoring to her and her accomplishments.

As I considered the behavior of this woman, reveling as much as possible in her “fifteen minutes of fame,” my mind was drawn to my own inner Gaga, seeking attention for my self that is not and should be rightfully my own.  As I paused in this painfully reflective moment the words of John the Baptist came flowing back to my remembrance, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” (John 3:30 NLT)  My executive pastor, Daryl Strickland recently had this permanently tattoed to each of his arms: “Less of me” on one arm, and “More of Him” on the other.  Apparently this is hardly what is predominantly on the mind of Lady Gaga, or very many of us I fear.  All too often our attitude reflects, “I must increase, no matter how much everybody else has to descrease.”

We even bring our Gaga mindset to church with us on Sunday morning.  In fact, this is probably when our self indulgence is most prominently on display.  What is most usually on my mind when I go to church?  “Is what I’m wearing this morning the most fashionable and hip?”  “I hope he/she doesn’t speak to me today.”  “Did the worship band play good enough to get me pumped up and entertain me today?”  “Did what pastor preached speak to me and meet my needs?”  “Did I get fed today?”  “I hope he doesn’t preach too long.  I want to be first in line at Golden Corral”  “I hope pastor saw me working on the ‘[fill in the blank] Team’ today.”

As followers of Jesus, at church on Sunday and every day, are we showing up at God’s event wearing our own equivalent of a big black hat and nude body suit saying, “Hey everybody!  Look at me!”  Or, is the first thing on my mind as I awake on Sunday and every day, “I get to go to church…..I get to meet with God…..I get to serve Him…..I get to please Him….I get to introduce Him to someone….anyone today.”  

Here’s little exercise for us to try.  See if we can wrap our Gaga attitude around this:

Philippians 2:3-11 (New Living Translation)

 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.  You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.  Though he was God,
      he did not think of equality with God
      as something to cling to.
 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
      he took the humble position of a slave
      and was born as a human being.
   When he appeared in human form,

he humbled himself in obedience to God
      and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
      and gave him the name above all other names,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
      in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
      to the glory of God the Father.