It ain’t Baptist!

 

Before the Passover Feast, Jesus, knowing that He had but a few hours left in the world, got up from the super table. He took off His robes and dressed himself as a servant. He approached the disciples with a basin of water and began washing Peter’s feet.

Peter was taken aback, and a little indignant, saying to Jesus, “Lord, Dude, what are you doing? You don’t wash my feet! You’re the Lord!”

 Jesus replied, “Look, man, you don’t get it right now, but eventually you’ll figure it out.”

Peter got even more heated, and said to Him, “No way, no how, nuh-UH, I am gonna let the Son of God wash my feet. Ain’t happenin’.”

“Pete, dude, settle down,” said the Lord. “If I don’t wash your feet, you have nothing to do with me.” Jesus let that sink in for a minute. Peter looked thoughtful as he mulled it over. Peter spent a lot of time looking thoughtful.

And then, suddenly, it was as though he’d had an epiphany. He jumped to his feet (which were still in the basin—water splashed all over the place), held his arms out (an irony which was not lost on Jesus, who kept His thoughts to Himself) saying, “If that’s the case, how about we take care of my head and hands, too!” Flippin’ Peter.

 

Jesus shook His head and looked around at the other disciples as if to ask, “Do you see what I have to deal with?” A snicker went around the table, except for Judas Iscariot, who was fiddling with something on his belt. Jesus looked up at Peter. Peter looked down at Jesus. Water dripped from Jesus’s beard, back into the basin. Jesus said, “He who has bathed only needs to wash his feet to be completely clean, and you are clean.”

 

Peter looked thoughtful again. Then he lowered his arms and said, “You were speaking symbolically again, weren’t you?” Jesus nodded. “Oh. Sorry. Carry on, Lord. I’m gonna shut up now.” Peter sat back down as the other disciples giggled.

 

~John 13:1-10 (totally unauthorized paraphrase mine)

So: it definitely wasn’t Baptist.

 

Right now, a lot of readers are asking themselves, “What is BlogDude on about this time? And what’s with that paraphrase?” Patience! I’m getting there!

Last night I had an opportunity to attend the Monday-night service at another local church, on the invitation of a friend. I knew going in that the church had a slightly different perspective on worship, but I wanted to hear the Word, and not for nuthin’, but my friend isn’t unpleasant company, either. I wasn’t quite prepared for it—the pastor was preaching barefoot (and as someone with neuropathy in both feet, I can tell you—I was envious of the pastor), but the message was very good.

The message was actually taken from Isaiah 47:1, but it related to what I paraphrased, above. The message was about being a servant to the Lord, but it was also—mainly, I think—about recognizing the Lord when He comes into our lives, and how the Israelites didn’t get it because they had laid their own expectations on God and forgotten God’s word on the subject. (That’s it, roughly—not the subject of this blog, though, so I’m glossing over a lot.)

What this got me thinking about, though, was service, specifically servanthood. Being a servant. Now all of us have known for a long time that the Lord expects us to do His will on earth as an outward sign of our inward faith (James 2:14-26). But until last night, I had never really given thought to how this works; now that I am giving it thought, it’s making me a little bit mind-bendy. Because in the past when I read those lines from John, I just went with the idea that Jesus expected us to be of service to others in keeping with his teachings from the Sermon on the Mount, namely, “Do unto others as you would have others do to you.” (Matthew 7:12) I was missing the most important part of this whole thing, though!

God led by example. I know. I just heard someone in the back of the room say, duhhhh. Hush, you. I’m a bear of very little brain; Peter and I will probably have a good time together in the afterlife. But to my point, and this is the part that hurts my head: God—sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all that is or ever will be, Lord of the universe, its contents, and the architect of all human existence, came to earth not to conquer, but to serve. (I just heard that “duh,” again. Stop it.) Here’s a Guy (and I use the term “guy” in the most general sense possible since God is, you know, incorporeal) that basically left the nicest house in Hollywood Hills, where He paid no rent, no utilities, had glowing folks serving His every need and keeping the room cool with the beat of their wings, in order to move into a Warsaw ghetto and serve the Nazis. I mean, that’s really what we’re looking at. Jesus came to earth, served the thankless people that would eventually kill Him, and then— in the act of dying—saved all of them from the noose.

“That’s it. I’m done. I’m gonna wipe these jokers out and start over.” (Numbers 14:12… sorta.) That’s what I woulda done. But God is a lot more merciful than I am (that whole “perfection” thing that He does, remember) and He not only didn’t smite us like we deserve, He gave us a way to become unsmite-able! There’s a bad joke about Christmas in there, but the literal parallels make it more of a bad pun, and I try not to punish you guys too much…

So: if God can come to us as a servant, how much more that we should serve each other? We can’t pay God back—what are we gonna do, “Hey, God, here’s, uh, eleventy dollars, and I have some change, and the title to my Yugo, and lessee, OH! I baked brownies!” Really? GOD MADE THE BROWNIES. I’m not sure He wants credit for the Yugo, but the rest of that stuff is ALREADY HIS. We got nothin’, and He proved it to even the most foolish of us by coming back and serving even those that were the least deserving of His love. Heck, most of us can’t even bring ourselves to tithe, for cryin’ out loud, and that’s the one demand God makes from allllllll the way back in the Old Testament. Even the cheapskates get into heaven as long as they accept that “gift of salvation” thing. He gives, and He gives and He gives, and what do we do? Waste the salt.

Seriously. This baffles me. This actually hurts more than trying to contemplate eternity. I don’t get it, so I’m trying to share the headache. Not that He did it. We know that He did it. Why did He do it? Why? He didn’t have to. Love? Okay, great: now (answer honestly) do you think you can even comprehend that kind of love? What do you do with a dog that tries to tear your baby’s throat out? You don’t give it a bowl full of kibble and bacon treats! But that’s what God has done for us. (Oh, and by the way: continues to do for us daily, in the form of answered prayer.)

I need some Excedrin. Talk to ya’ll later.

 

~BlogDude

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Merry Christmas

Now the birth of Christ is as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, n angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “”Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save the people from their sins.”

Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, 

“BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD, AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”

And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife, and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

~Matthew 1:18-25

 

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of God shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

Glory to God in the highest

“And on earth peace among men with

   “whom He is pleased.”

 

And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”

 

And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. And when they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

 

~Luke 2:4-20

 

Merry Christmas, everyone. Let’s not forget the real reason we celebrate this day. Give Glory to God, thank Him for His Grace and Mercy, and enjoy this day of celebration.

Bring on da Christmas!

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Em-man’u-el, which being interpreted is, God with us.

~Matthew 1:24

 

Starting Thursday, until Christmas Day, I’ll be writing on the history and meaning of Christmas. To be perfectly honest, I had originally planned for today’s blog to cover prophecy related to the birth of Jesus, but after a couple of hours’ research on the thing I realized that I was in theological waters that were way over my head, and I couldn’t find my water wings anywhere!

 

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get some help with that one, but for now, Merry Christmas! That’s right: I said, “Merry Christmas!” We’ll have none of that PC “happy holidays” drivel here, thank you very much.

(As an aside, I’m starting to get a great deal of amusement by seeing if someone winces when I answer “Happy holidays,” with a nice, firm, LOUD “MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!” It’s kinda awesome. Better when they smile, look around to make sure their boss isn’t watching, and say, “Merry Christmas,” in return, though.)

A Fable

Today’s blog was posted to my Facebook page by my good friend and all-around great Christian, itinerant pastor Zeke Whitelock.

One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

MORAL :

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

 

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred – Forgive.

2. Free your mind from worries – Most never happens.

3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less from people but more from yourself.

This is great advice, folks. Be well, love one another… and step up! God Bless us all!

Thanksgiving

I think that when we give thanks every year, one thing above all stands out.

Too many of us forget to mention this at the front end of our Thanksgiving dinner blessings:

 

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 

~John 3:16

‘Nuff said. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

The Changed Life

First of all: let me say a slightly early Happy Birthday, Marines!

Okay! Now on to the show!

…but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.

~ 1 Corinthians 6:11

It’s a new life! We are aliens… we are “not of this world.” Christians are changed, in ways that the unsaved don’t quite understand.

  1. A lot of the unsaved hold Jesus in high esteem—“He’s a great philosopher,” or, “He was a wise teacher,”—but Christians love the Lord! Real, abiding love; we want to do things pleasing to Him, we want to spread His Word; we want others to feel what we feel.
  2. We love the Bible. We try to absorb His message, to understand His will for us, and to apply it to our lives. Even as Christians, it’s often difficult to maintain the discipline necessary to be in the Word every day, but we should make the effort. You can never “know” the Bible—you can only become more familiar with it. There is always something new to the Christian with an open heart.
  3. We love other Christians. 1 John 3:14 says, “We know we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren.” Even when we wouldn’t necessarily want to hang out with someone, we love them as brothers and sisters—because we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
  4. We love our enemies. Okay—we should love our enemies. Admittedly, this one can be tough (ask any of my ex-wives). We’ll talk more about this one on Monday (the “love your enemies,” part; not the ex-wives. I have enough to repent for, without firing up that conversation).
  5. We love the souls of all people. I have some personal experience with this one recently. All of that research and thinking about hell (see my earlier articles if you don’t know what I’m talking about) really got me thinking about all those unsaved people out there; all of those that are afraid of giving up their lifestyles, or that have been convinced into thinking that God is a myth or an archetype or a delusion. It got me thinking about their ultimate fate—a fate that’s real and imminent, and too horrible to comprehend. And I wept for them.
  6. We love righteousness and seek to live a pure life. Sin hurts us—which isn’t to say that we don’t sin, anyway… but we feel the pain of wounding Christ, as if we had hurt our loved ones. As if we had hurt our Father. We want to please Him by seeking righteousness and living our lives in the way that He intended, with love for Him and for each other and with a focus on the Kingdom.
  7. We love to talk to God. We pray. We have conversations with Him. We whisper our secret hopes and desires, and hope that He will grant them to us. We ask Him for blessings on others, blessings on ourselves and on our work. I talk to Him while I work—it looks a bit like that crazy Irishman from “Braveheart,”—“Yes, Father! The almighty says that you should be using blue paint and a bigger brush, there…”—but who cares if I look crazy?

But to me it is a very small thing that I should be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.

~1 Corinthians 4:3,4

And how awesome it is when He answers! When He speaks to us, it is awesome and terrible and humbling and more wonderful than words can properly express.

Yes, we are changed. We are changed. Thank God, and to Him be the glory.

Just be sure that you have your passports ready when He comes to take us home!

 Hey, there’s a Dude standing on that hill…

Today we’re going to get uncomfortably personal. Just so you know.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I had nothing left; no will, no desire, no hope, very little love for others, and none for myself; Christ filled me.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

I hurt children, a lot of them—my own son included—by selfishly pursuing immoral relationships with no regard for the impact it would have on the kids. Eventually it caught up with me, and my sorrow for those children still haunts me… but Christ is a comfort and a companion.

Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

I was violent and cruel. I looked for employment that would give me opportunities to hurt people; I scorned anyone that was not part of my immediate circle; I invented my own morality. I was a hard man—Christ softened me.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

I pray on my knees every night to be made clean again, to be given the strength to resist temptation, to have the wisdom and the grace to be an example to others. God forgave me.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

I have forgiven those that I felt had hurt me, whether justified or not. Sometimes I feel like the old hatreds are trying to creep back in, but Christ gives me the strength to respond to hatred—even hatred within myself—with love. I ask for His mercy every day. Every day, I receive it.

Every day, the Lord blesses me. Sometimes I don’t see it until much later; I am certain that there are things I have experienced that I won’t see the results of for a long time (God willing). But I try never to take Him for granted, anymore. He has done too much to take a broken, empty life and fill it to overflowing.

Today, I’ll ask each of you to sit down and reflect on what Christ has done for you. Just take a few minutes, and go through what blessings you had today, this week… maybe it’s been a hard week, but if Christ knows you, and you seek Him, something positive happened to you this week. Don’t let the negatives obscure the gifts of God…

When you’re done, take another minute or two, and reflect on what you have done for Him, this week. Was it enough? Is it ever?

If you haven’t formed a relationship with Jesus, yet, maybe now would be a good time to say “hi.” Strike up a conversation with Him; it doesn’t have to be formal, it doesn’t have to be scripted. Jesus loves you, and He wants you to be you, just… happier.

Heck, I call Him, “Dude.” (I always capitalize it, though.) Be respectful. Be sincere. Christ wants to know you, He wants to invite you into His home, He wants to make you a part of His family. He wants to see you happy. And He has the power to make it happen.

So maybe you should ask Him if you could hang out, for a while. Tell Him you know you have done things that weren’t “right.” Tell Him that you understand that what you’ve done has hurt Him, and that you don’t want to do that, anymore.

Tell Him you’re sorry.

Ask Him to forgive you.

And tell Him you believe.

If you do this, sincerely, with repentance in your heart, one day Jesus will stand beside you and say, “Pops, this one here is righteous. He’s one of mine.”

I like to think that God will look down and say to me, “Dude! Awesome! Welcome home.”

(But then again, I’ve never been one for formalities.)

Have a great weekend! See you Monday!