While the cross waited, Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples and shared some final instructions before being arrested. John chapters 13-17 record the powerful, emotional words that Jesus chose to leave with them. First, He demonstrated how to serve by washing the feet of the original Twelve (including Judas). He then instructed:
“I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (13:15 NKJV)
The lesson for us today is that serving others as modeled by our Lord will include a mixture of reactions and people:
- Most accepted quietly
- One protested out of pride
- One was planning to betray Him
- All were unworthy
And He concluded the demonstration with this promise:
“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (13:17 NKJV)
Will you choose to be blessed by serving others today?
(Tomorrow- “The Last Words-Love”)
Good grief, based on the social media meltdown, you’d think Dan Cathy just confessed to preferring burgers over chicken. I get it, there is growing frustration and anger about the militant left bullying their way through our culture but let’s not direct it toward CFA. Yes, their change in charitable strategy appears to move away from controversy, but only because the media framed it that way based on their false labeling of current recipients as anti-alphabet. If the strategy change were ten years ago, nobody would have noticed.
Many have expressed disappointment in the decision, and I understand the sentiment, but my fear is that we have been comfortable letting Chick-fil-A fight a proxy culture war for us while safely cheering them on from the drive-thru. Come to think of it, shouldn’t we be their defenders instead of the other way around? Truett Cathy didn’t live his Christian faith as a marketing gimmick, it was who he was. Those beliefs became part of the company DNA and nothing about the current development says otherwise. What’s more, the current leadership knows the left will not stop hating on them as a result of the change either. So how about we just continue to eat-more-chicken and avoid the media-induced heartburn while we’re at it.
It’s been said that the race of faith isn’t a sprint but a marathon. However, I submit that it’s neither sprint nor marathon, because in truth it’s more like an endurance race. To be clear, I mean no disrespect to anyone’s appreciation of the marathon illustration, but for me, after revisiting Hebrews chapters 11-12, the racing visual took on new meaning. Unlike a marathon course that requires runners to steadily work their way through an urban or country landscape, the race of faith is more like one of those off-road races that go on for nearly a 1,000 miles, or a team obstacle course with different stages, contrasting venues, varying challenges, and weather difficulty. There can be times of great fatigue, welcome moments of rest and refueling, daunting challenges that require a teammate, cuts, bruises, and a nagging temptation to quit.
Perhaps today, you feel like you’ve been grinding through an endurance race, if so, the writer of Hebrews has some encouraging words for you:
“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1b-2a NKJV
Let me also encourage you to take the race one-day-at-a-time, find joy in the little things, set small achievable goals, and trust the Lord with the results.
The idea of “the future” invokes many emotions, hopes, worries, dreams, and personal questions. Some try not to think about it at all, while others are captivated by its promise. To be clear, there’s a certain end result as revealed to John, but there are also many choices to be made in-between. With that in mind, I once-again offer this simple poem as encouragement to “set your sails” according to the truth and trust the Lord for the destination.
“One ship drives east and another drives west
With the selfsame winds that blow.
“Tis the set of the sails and not the gales
Which tells us the way to go.
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
As we voyage along through life:
“Tis the set of the soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.”
– Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Today, another story broke of a Christian leader stepping into the darkness of apostasy. Former pastor Joshua Harris (“I Kissed Dating Goodbye” fame) publicly renounced his faith (Fox News). As a stand-alone story, it’s a tragedy, but as part of a bigger trend, it’s a wake-up call. To be honest, I write this post reluctantly, because I have no desire to point a finger. However, I do feel compelled to speak of what’s true. I’ve never witnessed so many faith leaders piling onto the bandwagon of cultural acceptance. At this rate, several wagons will be needed to handle the crowd, but then again, crowds don’t define truth…God does. If you’re interested, here’s a reminder of something Paul fearfully pointed out to the Corinthians. He wrote, “as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be seduced from a complete and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:3)
There are four elements of the enemy’s deception and they’re always important to remember:
- First, the enemy patiently waits for moments of opportunity (Eve by the tree) – when we’re down, the enemy comes along with whispers and suggestions
- Second, the enemy subtlety questions God’s instructions (Has God said..?) – with sophisticated sounding logic, simple truths are questioned as old-fashioned, out-of-date and irrelevant
- Third, the enemy denies the clear meaning of God’s warnings (You will not surely die.) – the readily understandable scriptures are denied on the basis of hidden wisdom, secret knowledge and enlightened thought
- Fourth, the enemy substitutes a lie for the truth (you will be like God) – “half-truths” are crafted into phrases made for easy consumption
There will always be those trying to cheapen, add-to, twist or deny the gospel. In these changing times, may we hold onto the hope of the biblical truth with every ounce of our being; not only for our own sake, but for those we influence too.
It’s been said, “What’s true in the light is true in the dark.” and it’s a timely reminder. Not only is there a push now to accept immorality, but an increasing demand to celebrate it. Even some prominent church leaders have compromised and embraced various lies being sold as enlightenment. We must hold fast to the standard of God’s word, even as the light dims around us. Yes, there will be those who call us judgmental, discriminatory or backward. There may also be some who say we lack love for others, but it’s just an effort to bully us into submission. The rhetoric can be loud, obnoxious, personal and vindictive, but we must remember, “What’s true in the light is true in the dark”. If you’re experiencing this in your circle of life, remember you’re not alone. Hang in there and remember this verse:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV
Each year, I’m reminded of a Friday in 2012 when a small group of us were in Munich, Germany visiting the grounds of the Dachau Concentration Camp. After walking through the various displays, I looked out across the main part of the camp and wondered “Why would they do such a thing?” It’s one thing to read about in history books, but something totally different to see in person and stand in the rooms where such horrible atrocities happened. It was a powerfully moving and sobering reminder that sin is incredibly ugly. It is the sickness we struggle with and scripture tells us in James 1:15 that sin fully grown brings death. Man’s capacity to do hurtful things is often shocking because we desperately want to believe we’re inherently good, but the evidence reveals otherwise. We need serious help and thankfully it came…
On another Friday 2,000 years ago, the unimaginable weight of mankind’s darkest sins and cruelties were laid on Jesus in a crushing blow of blunt force trauma. The Bible says in Romans 5:8 that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus knew the full scope of sin’s price tag and still chose to pay it. He was literally “crushed and bruised” for our transgressions. Our world has been affected in every way by sin entering creation and only Jesus has the ability to bring peace at the soul level (John 14:17).
May we always remember that Easter Sunday is a celebration because Jesus came out of the tomb having paid our debt in full!