Washing Feet

As I sat and began to write this week, I came across a story that floored me. I want to share it with you today:

It was a rainy bone-chilling night. A young seminary student was working in a homeless shelter, which housed over 100 persons, and on this cold evening, even more had come to be housed than there were cots or mats.

As often happens when there is a shortage, disagreements broke out. The minority groups argued that they were not being fairly treated. It was beginning to look like emotions were getting out of hand – more than the employee, the young seminary student, in charge could handle.

Then the door opened and in stumbled a tattered man. With the unsteady gate of the inebriated, he managed to get to a mat in the middle of the room, plop down, pull off his boots, and immediately go to sleep.

Just as quickly everyone in the room became acutely aware of the stench from those boots and feet. Someone suggested that he be taken to the shower. It was impossible to awaken him. “Well,” someone stated, “then, carry him to the shower.” But he weighed over 200 lbs.

Then the seminary student thought of washing the feet where he was. No basin was available; so he went to the kitchen, found a bowl that he filled with warm water. The only soap quickly available was the lemon-scented dish soap, so he put that in the water. Finding a towel, he took the towel and water to the sleeping odoriferous man.

Kneeling beside him, he requested that someone take the boots outside to air. Then he began trying to take off the encrusted socks. He finally managed, and sent them to the garbage outside the building. Then one by one, he put the man’s feet in the bowl and gently washed away the grime from his feet and ankles. The lemon scent from the soap helped the smell little. The water quickly became black.

The seminary student was almost finished when he happened to glance to see that he was surrounded. He obviously was the center of attention. What would be their response?

Completing his task, he slowly rose. The first face he noticed was a black man who normally wore a scowl. He was smiling, and then he saw that everyone else was smiling also. Some, who had taken both a mat and a cot, now shared the mat with someone who had none. In a spirit of helpfulness, everyone settled down to sleep, having received the greatest sermon this young preacher might ever preach. – Author Unknown

St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” I think this story today should put us in the mindset that we can truly see what God is trying to accomplish.

Jesus washed his disciples’ feet in this same type of act; and, when finished he asked them if they knew what He had done (John 13). We may not be understood, but we will receive blessing from serving others.   “Wash” someone’s feet today!

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Social Issues

I want to take a moment to address something that we don’t normally like to talk about.  The problem of social issues, or if you will, people problems.  Many of us have this struggle that we refuse to admit…that is a problem with people, or at least certain people.

The struggle is real, and unfortunately we don’t want to admit that we have it.  Whether it is a problem with someone because of an illness and we just don’t know how to act, or one that goes deeper because of a personal issue that we have with someone, we all have an issue that we need to address at times.

One of the biggest things that we see is that many times we need to drop our pride and be willing to work through the issue…but we won’t.  We refuse to face it head on, rather we would like to sit and share it with someone else who has nothing to do with the situation.

We do not need to be afraid of facing these issues; in fact, we are commanded to confront them, one-on-one, face-to-face…

Matthew 18:15 states, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”

Why are we so afraid to just sit down and talk about something we are facing with the person we are facing it with?  Why do we build walls and struggle through a circumstance that we honestly could let go of and resolve?

I want to issue a challenge to everyone today…including myself.  If there is an issue you are facing with someone, face it, head on…if you are struggling to let go of issues that can cause social stereotyping, ask God to help you let go of the personal prejudices that are keeping you from being Christ-like…Do not let your personal vendettas cause a rift between you and your Heavenly Father.

Resolve to keep from having issues with one another and let’s practice what Christ preached today!

Curtains

Baptist thinker Fred Craddock tells a story about his return to his small west Tennessee hometown each Christmas. Every year he would visit an old friend named Buck who owned a café on the main street of town. Buck would give Craddock a piece of pie and a cup of coffee each visit.

One particular year, Buck and Craddock had a fascinating conversation that focused on a curtain that existed in the restaurant.

“Do you see the curtain?” Buck asked Craddock.

“Yes, Buck, I see the curtain; I always see the curtain.”

The curtain was in the café, separating the front half of the café from the back half. White folks came in the front of the café from the main street, but black folks came in from an alley behind the café. The curtain was there to separate, to separate white people from black people.

Buck looked up at Fred and said, “Fred, the curtain has got to come down.”

“Good,” Craddock responded; “pull her down!”

“That’s easy for you to say,” said Buck. “You come in once a year and tell me how to run my business.”

“Then leave it up,” Craddock countered.

In personal agony, Buck said, “Fred, I take the curtain down, and I lose my customers; I leave that curtain up, and I lose my soul.”

This story got me thinking about another curtain that had to come down.  We find out about this curtain when Jesus is on the cross…look with me at Matthew 27:51 where it says, “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent.”

God knew that the curtain had to come down.  He knew that man needed open communication with God, and the curtain was there as a divider.  The only one allowed to enter was the high priest, but God wanted the curtain moved.  We needed to remove it, and in some cases we still need to remove it from our hearts and lives so that we can see the true blessings God has for us.

We put up walls, or curtains, by trying to disguise our sin and hurt.  We try to hide from the truth, but as we see in John 8:36, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  Today, tear down the curtains that are dividing you from others; rip away the veils and expose the truth so that you can move forward with peace of mind. Allow yourself to remove the barriers and enjoy peace and joy today.

Give me Liberty, or Give me Death

Patrick Henry was one of the most well known Patriots that we hear about in history.  His famous statement, “Give me Liberty, or Give me Death”, became one of the most well known, and likely, one of the most quoted statements ever made.

Henry was a “radical” during his day.  He was passionate about his cause, and was likely one of the most influential early Americans.

The fact is, you can liken his passion for freedom to that of Christ.  Jesus Christ made that statement, but the view of it may have been a little different.  Henry’s full statement that he made in the House of Burgesses in 1775 was this, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, Give me Liberty, or give me Death!”

Christ, in action and statement, essentially said, “Give THEM Liberty by giving me death.”  Jesus came to save the world, to set us free from sin, and to give us this Liberty.  He even took it so far to die for that freedom.

He warned His followers of the hatred that would come because of the lives they would live, because they were like Him, and the world hated Him.  He then took our sins upon his shoulders and bore them to the cross.

In John 8:36, Jesus said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”  This statement of freedom rings true for each of us today, that if we are made free by the Son of God, there is nothing that can take that freedom away.  If He has made us free, we are truly free indeed.

Today, as we prepare to celebrate our Independence Day, think about the sacrifice that was made on the cross of Calvary.  Think about the Savior who said, “Give them Liberty by giving me death.”  Jesus knew the only way we could have eternal life and freedom from the chains of sin was for Him to give it all.  We are now covered in the blood of Christ and free, truly free.

Thanks to the sacrifice that was made, we no longer have to worry about tomorrow; we no longer have to be a slave to sin and are no longer sentenced to death on our own.  His death gave us life and set us free.  So if the Son has set you free today, you truly are free.  The only question left … do you accept his gift?  Do you accept this freedom?