Friday, December 7, 2007

solitude

I am sitting in a cafe all by myself. It is filled with art, flat screen tv's, very modern IKEA type furniture and is impeccably clean. It is on one of the busier street on the South side of Vegas and yet I am all alone.

It is cloudy and gloomy outside. The rain drizzles and a cold, cutting wind blows across the parking lot filled with cars, but no one is in here. The coffee is great and the atmosphere of this place is amazing. I have been looking for something like this since we moved here.

Why am I alone? I usually go to these types of places on Friday's (my day off) in order to meet people and talk with them. I did this in Marin and have done it in other places I have lived. There is no one to talk to. I am going to talk, no wait, I am going to listen to God.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

complainers...

I have been doing a lot of reading lately and it has caused me to do a lot of thinking. We, as ministers, battle the daily grind. We wake up and help everyone get ready for work, school, class, or whatever and then we are expected to be perfect, energized, happy ministers. I hear too often complaints in ministry. I am guilty of it too and I am not pointing fingers. We complain about people. We complain about money. We complain about the other pastor. We complain about being tired. We complain about too many phone calls. We complain about too many interruptions when trying to read or prepare. We complain because we have to be in two places at once. We complain because people in the church don't think like we do. We complain because there is only one Starbucks in town. Did I say that? Anyways, whatever it is we (you) probably have complained about it.

Think about this: Jesus' parents did not understand him when he spent all His time in the temple talking to the leaders. Jesus' family thought He was crazy. His friends did not understand the heart of His mission. He had friends who stole and betrayed. He had friends who said they did not even know Him. His friends would argue about who is the greatest. They fled when He was arrested. They associated Him with Beelzebul. Through false accusations, He was crucified. He went forty days without food. He was tempted. He did not have a place to lay His head. He ministered to so many that He did not have time to eat. He walked many, many miles to minister to people. He was arrested. He was beaten. He was sentenced. He died.

Through all of this Jesus never complained. Why do I think I have it bad? Why do I complain that I have to stop and get gas? At least I have a car to drive me from ministry appointment to lunch and to ministry appointment or whatever the schedule may be. At least I have time to rest and remove myself. Jesus couldn't do this. People followed Him wherever He went.

Jesus even chose to deprive Himself of His rights to save humanity at His death. He agonized in the garden. His death was not an easy one. It was full of pain, torture. It is beyond description.

The point is that Jesus foregoes several legitimate rights in order to be effective in His ministry. Do we do that? I don't. He became all things to all people so that He might save some. Another topic of discussion could be, why did He say "save some" and not say "save all?"

Doulos - bondservant - someone who could be free, but chooses not to be. That is how Jesus served us and that is how the attitude of our servant hood should be. Ajith Fernando says, "We are children of the King and servants of the people. We pay a price so that we can identiy with people and serve them effectively."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

my feet are dirty

This past Sunday, I spoke about John 13: 1-17. If you are not familiar with this passage it is about Jesus washing his disciples feet. Now think about it. It is the night before Jesus is to be executed. He is going to die in just a few hours and what does he want to do for his disciples? He wants to wash their feet.

Now it is probably dinner time. It has been a long day. The disciples feet are dirty, dusty and who knows when their feet were washed last. Jesus wants to take this time as a time to teach them.

I probably would have had the same response as Peter (read v. 6-8). Would you want the Son of God to wash your feet? No, you would want to wash his. Jesus responds to Peter by saying, "unless you let me wash you, you have not part in me." What does he mean by this? I see a little bit of Pride vs. Humility here. Are we too proud to think the the Son of God could lower himself to wash our feet? Are we humble enough to listen to Jesus and allow Him to cleanse us of all the dirt in our life?

This is what I told the youth - Jesus has washed us, cleansed us and we have become part of Him. It should be our hearts desire to serve others. Jesus tells us we should wash one another’s feet. This doesn’t necessarily mean for you to take off your friends shoes and socks and a get a rag and soapy water and scrub off their toe jam. It just means serve someone.

Read Philippians 2:5-8. God had to humble Himself and become a man. Jesus was that man and he had to humble himself and be obedient to death upon a cross. Jesus is the suffering servant. To me that is what this story is about. It is about serving with humility. Jesus served his disciples that night by washing their feet. Think about how good it feels when you have been walking or working all day and you pull those shoes off, then next those socks and jump into the shower or bath and wash your feet. That is what he did for them. They were probably refreshed. I think he did it because they had dirty feet, but I think He did it for a bigger reason.

How did He serve? He cleaned their feet. He taught them a valuable lesson. He died on a cross. I don't know who reads this, but if you need to humble yourself and say Jesus please wash me clean and help me start over, please do so. I have been trying to explain to the youth the magnitude of Christ's death. It was bloody and more gruesome than we can even imagine. I think sometimes we paint to pretty of a picture of His death. It was bad.

Think about what He did for you. He has offered us a free gift. Are you ready to accept this free gift?