Saturday, August 3, 2013

Foot Washing (by ELYSE FITZPATRICK )

Here’s the narrative from John 13:

Jesus . . . rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.” . . . When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. (John 13:3–1012–15)


Think of it. The high King of heaven condescended to bow before the dirty feet of his friends and wash them. This act of humiliation stands forever as an example of humble love and service. Now, let me ask: Do you think that Jesus was simply instituting another ritual for his followers in washing their feet and telling them to follow his example? Although there probably isn’t anything wrong in having an actual foot-washing service, I think we’re missing the point if we limit our imitation of him to a simple ceremony once every six months or so.

This is the point of what I believe Jesus is teaching us. He has already spiritually cleansed each of his children from their sin. We are “completely clean,” as he said. But why then, if we’re already “completely clean,” would he encourage us to follow his example and wash each other’s feet?

We need to wash one another because as each of us traverses through this world, we are immersed in and subsequently sullied by every kind of sin, unbelief, and idolatry. Sometimes that filth finds a little crevice (or large gaping wound) to incubate in, and if we’re not careful, it can become infected before we know it.


You know, our feet are one of those places that, unless we’re very limber or under the age of five, we can’t really see very well. Not long ago I was taking an evening stroll with a friend on the beach. We were barefoot, and I couldn’t clearly see where I was walking. At some point I stepped on something sharp that felt like a bee sting, and by the time I got back to my car it was itchy and painful. Then, try as I might, I just couldn’t get a good glimpse of it.

Finally, when I returned home, I needed to have Phil take a look. I needed his eyes to help me see what turned out to be a little thorn that I was apparently allergic to. I don’t think it’s inconsequential that Jesus framed this discussion around our feet. We need to wash one another, to carefully probe, cleanse, disinfect, and heal each other, and this isn’t something we can see clearly enough to do on our own. We need the eyes and hands of others.

What’s really delightful about all this is that not only do we help others when we “wash their feet,” but our own souls are helped as well.

If nothing else, our souls are humbled as we experience Christ’s humility, but we are also cleansed in the process. As a biblical counselor, I can personally testify to the hundreds of times I’ve been encouraged, cleansed, convicted, and blessed when I helped someone else with their sin.

What I’m suggesting is that you look at the relationships you have with other believers in a new way. I’m hoping that you have begun to see yourself as an instrument that your Savior will use in your friends’ lives, and that you’ll begin to look for opportunities in which a friend can help you get at that painful, itchy thorn you just can’t see. Because I’m assuming that this might be new in your experience, I’m going to give you some practical suggestions about how to begin to live out gospelized fellowship.


First of all, let me encourage you to start small. Our Savior had twelve disciples, but he also had three close friends and one best friend. Start there. Start with two or three others who are willing to get together for biblical fellowship once a week or so. My guess is that you probably already do get together with your friends fairly frequently. So why not turn this visit, at least part of it, into a time of true biblical fellowship? If you’re very busy with small children or long commutes, then why not commit to talking on the phone at least once a week, with a commitment to visit in person for a couple of hours once a month?

It’s my opinion that this kind of biblical fellowship happens best in small groups that meet regularly during the month. My husband, Phil, and I presently facilitate a small group as part of our church’s communal life where we are primarily focused on speaking into each other’s lives through words of encouragement, correction, accountability, and the open confession of sin. I recognize, however, that most churches, even if they offer small group opportunities, do not structure the groups in this way. So, even if your church doesn’t presently offer this, you could still get together with your friends informally.

If you’re thinking that getting together with friends is what you’ll try to pursue, you could say something like this to them:

This is not primarily a time for us to chat. It is a time to share openly about our sins or temptations to sin, to point one another to our Savior, to speak of our graces and the way that the Lord is growing us. It’s a time for prayer and a time to ask questions about struggles mentioned in the past.

It can happen anywhere: at a coffee house, or in a home, or while taking a walk together. Biblical fellowship doesn’t mean that every single time you get together every one of the objectives must be met, but there should be given time for each and the expectation that something more than a superficial visit will be attempted

Body Building

Jesus is God... And when He walked the earth He was capable of all things! So why did He need 12 disciples? If He could do everything on his own because He was God himself... Why did He need help from 12 people who were outcasts and half the time seemed to never understand Him? 

..... because Jesus was setting an example for us. He wanted to show us the importance of a disciple. He wanted to build the Body of Christ. The body is made up of various parts. So Jesus chose 12 parts that would look to the head and help with the work that needed to be done. He chose 12 parts that were willing to be obedient and even if they didn't understand what they were doing at the time, they had a purpose and they fulfilled many things that the head knew needed to be done. 

Even though the disciples had to learn many hard teachings... They were able to look past their pride and their expectations and look to Jesus. Jesus would constantly have to explain what He meant. Sure, Jesus was Honest..but honesty comes with a price. It offends. It cuts. And often times causes brothers and sisters to get angry. 

The disciples consistently grew angry with what Jesus had to say. But they took it with a grain of salt and they stuck by Jesus' side so they could grow to do miracles just as He.  If they never stuck by his side because of His harsh truth, than they would have never built the church into what it is today. 

Jesus had 12 disciples he could trust... That He took the time to teach... And no matter how hard the teaching was or how confrontational Jesus had to be.. He had a mission: To spread the Word and share the Glory of God and SAVE THE WORLD. These disciples would help him do it. 

Yes I said HELP. It's a great example for us. Often times we try to take on everything by ourselves. We try to meet with everyone, teach everyone, grow everyone, and fix everyone's problems. But let me tell you, even when Jesus fed the 5,000 He fed their basic need-- He didn't sit and chat with everyone and get to know them. (yes I realize he already knows everything... But keep in mind Hes being an example for us) If Jesus would have taken the time to do that... It would have taken him around 13years to spend 1 day with each person. This is impractical. We can't do that all by ourself. We would wear ourself out. Luckily, we too have help! 

"And the disciples said to him, "Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?" And Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?" They said, "Seven, and a few small fish." And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. "(Matthew 15:33-36 ESV) 

Jesus will do the miracle, we can deliver it. 

   Jesus had 12 disciples who he trusted to get to know these people and feed more than just the need of food. Jesus knew these 12 people could be looked up to... That He could send 1,000 people their way... And that they would help Him because He gave them the power to do "even more" than Himself. 

That's us today. JESUS is living on this earth... His Holy Spirit is Living inside of Us! He knows that the church shouldn't rely on just the pastor alone, but the 12 people the pastor appoints. & those 12 people should each make 12 disciples of their own. Why? Because if each person has 12 disciples... The church would be unstoppable.

The church thrives when it follows Jesus example... And it starts with us. 

"When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you." (John 13:3–10, 12–15)

This is how the church grows. This is the outreach we should strive for. But first we have to be willing to become a disciple under a Godly Authority that we trust. Yes, it is important to find council from God and His Word, but it is equally important to learn under someone He appoints to disciple you. When this person positively criticizes and corrects you-- don't be upset-- don't get offended because they are trying to grow you in truth. Be willing to be discipled, so you may be the one to disciple the generations coming after you... And in turn the church can grow And imprisoned people will be SET FREE. 
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40 ESV)

And he said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. (Luke 10:2 ESV)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Follow-Through, Friend

What does it look like to be a "friend?" What does it look like to have a meaningful, nurturing, fruit producing, true relationship like the one Jesus asked us to have with our friends? There's no one better to learn from than Jesus himself when trying to produce the fruit required to have a life giving friendship.  

First of all, Jesus never needed to gain anything from his disciples... He was able to have a meaningful relationship with his 12 disciples because he did not only call upon them when they could offer him something. Jesus did not have a million dollars, a fancy car, or worldly connections. He did not live the lifestyle many dream of. Although he wasn't earthly rich, He was spiritually rich. Because Jesus knew His position, he never needed to gain anything from his disciples. The friendship was pure. 

In modern day, If we were being honest--many of our friendships do not resemble that of Jesus and His disciples. We call people only when they have something to offer us... Or we talk to people if we think we have something to gain...and we don't invest ourselves into just listening to people if they can't provide us with something we need. Or Maybe we are busy?  Guess what! Jesus was one of the 'busiest' men on the earth.... Because He was a servant. He gave and gave, and then gave some more. 

“Who would you rather be: the one who eats the dinner or the one who serves the dinner? You’d rather eat and be served, right? But I’ve taken my place among you as the one who serves. And you’ve stuck with me through thick and thin. Now I confer on you the royal authority my Father conferred on me so you can eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and be strengthened as you take up responsibilities among the congregations of God’s people. (Luke 22:27-30 MSG) --SERVE BECAUSE YOU KNOW YOUR PLACE IN THE KINGDOM. 

That couldn't have been easy. I don't think the problem is that we are busy, I think the problem is we value our time and think it is more important than someone else's. I am not saying we have to make time for everyone in the world to become extremely close...Because to be honest, there really isn't enough time to make the genuine friendships we want to make. Why do you think Jesus only had 12 disciples....? Not because no one else was willing to follow him, but because he was setting an example for us. He was showing us that friendships are more important than numbers.... They are investments. 

We have to be willing to invest our time. Care about each other. If we always say yes to everyone, and we never follow through...those friendships are meaningless. You cannot be a real friend if everything you say is just lip service. Faith without works is dead. Friendships without follow through and serving is dead. 

I find it extremely interesting that Christ chose 12 people... And he served them. Christ gave us the example that serving 12 disciples, 12 close better than 100 people serving us. 

Friendship is not based on how many people we can stack into our lives that can give us things, but rather how many people we can influence to be world changers and sharpen us in the process.... The investment is worth it... So serve and watch as your friendships are not only honored by the people you become close with, but by God Himself.