Dinner and a Movie
Devotions

Dinner and a Movie

Part 2 of 3 in the John 13 series

[readolog_blockquote ]Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

John 13:38[/readolog_blockquote]

Movies have a way of transforming us instantly.   We watch a James Bond movie and leave the theatre noticing every detail about everyone around us, ready to jump into action at the first sign of danger.   We watch a war hero selflessly sacrifice his life for the sake of those around him.   Then we leave ready to do the same, certain that we are prepared to answer just such a call.

This was Peter after his last meal with Jesus.   He had been caught up in the drama playing out around him.   “I will lay down my life for you,” he tells Jesus.   But Jesus knows better.   This was no movie.   This was all too real.

“Will you really lay down your life for me?   I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

Ouch.   Talk about busting your bubble.   It’s easy to watch from a distance and consider ourselves worthy of participation.   But when we are the main characters, life seems anything but cinematic.   Peter left the theatre ready to risk it all.   But as Jesus predicts, his first test ends miserably as he in fact disowns Jesus not once, not twice, but three times.

What Peter promised was not a bad thing.   The problem was in his motivation.   He was more focused on his own glory than the necessary sacrifice that would have to be made.   Certainly, there are moments in life when we are called to do the right thing, the hard thing.   But those moments are anything but glorious, let along Oscar-winning performances.

In short, we can be in the movie, or we can watch the movie.   But we can’t do both.   The choice is up to each of us.

Disciples Didn’t Go To Day Spas
Devotions

Disciples Didn’t Go To Day Spas

Part 1 of 3 in the John 13 series

man_450.jpg

[readolog_blockquote ]Then [Jesus] said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as’Teacher’ and’Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do.
John 13: 17[/readolog_blockquote]

Disciples didn’t go to day spas, and they didn’t wear New Balance.   Most theologians agree on these points.   And since we’re also fairly certain they didn’t drive Mini Coopers, it’s safe to say they walked . . . everywhere.   The unfortunate conclusion of these historical certainties is that disciples had dirty, ugly, smelly feet.

But so did everyone.   It was in the fine print when you signed up to be a Biblical character.     And so upon entering one’s house, most people compensated as would you or I by washing their feet.   And feet being what they are, you can imagine that this was a pretty personal thing.   In fact, to wash another person’s feet was considered so demeaning that the laws forbid a Jewish slave from being forced to do it.   You had to call in the “B” team, the Gentile slaves, for something like that.

So you can imagine what the disciples must have thought in John 13 when Jesus got on his hands and knees and began to wash their feet.   Other than Gentile slaves, this kind of thing was only done by wives for husbands or children for parents, and maybe disciples for teachers.   But it was never done by teachers for disciples.   And yet there Jesus was, kneeling, washing, and teaching all at the same time.

Peter (typical Peter) protests Jesus’ action. But Jesus says, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”

That statement goes a little deeper than the bowl of water on the floor.   Jesus was getting ready to endure humiliation that would make washing feet seem like a walk in the park.   But without it, humanity would be lost, and He loved us too much to let that happen.   The tough part for Peter, and perhaps for us, is in realizing that to be a part of what Jesus did and is doing, we too must learn about true love and be willing to humble ourselves enough to serve one another.

“I’ve laid down a pattern for you,” He said. “What I’ve done, you do.”

So the next time someone shows us their dirty, ugly, smelly feet (or any other part of their anatomy for that matter), perhaps we should consider this story.   As Christians, perhaps we  should be the first on the scene to do the jobs that must be done but  that no one else wants to do.

Memoirs

Life Lessons from . . . Shaving

razor.jpgRemember those posters they used to sell?   The one’s with the headline “Everything I know about life I learned from . . .”

Then inserted after the ellipse was something like ” . . . Kindergarten,” or ” . . . my cat.”   Well, this morning it occurred to me that there are life lessons in many things, although I rarely see them.   Much like these posters tell us, there’s much to be learned in life’s day to day.   This morning I took lessons from something I do (almost) every morning, shaving.   The following  are my less than scholarly observations.

Life Lessons From Shaving:

1. Going against the grain can be tricky, but necessary.
I get so frustrated when these “how to” bloggers and old fashioned barbers try to tell  me that to achieve the best shave, you must shave WITH the direction of your hair.   Going against the grain, they say, causes irritation, thus impeding the blade from making solid contact with your skin.

So why is it that every time I shave WITH the grain, I spend the day nervously scratching the 12 patches of stubble this perfect shaving technique left behind?

So I draw this conclusion:
Sometimes in life, it is necessary to go against the grain to get the job done.   HOWEVER, one will almost invariably have better results by FIRST going with the grain, then take the opposing course of action only when necessary.
 

2. Timing is everything.
Perhaps at the infantile age of  32 I’m still hovering  in the final stages of some tragically prolonged puberty purgatory.   This would explain why after one day of growth, my beard still isn’t quite long enough to provide a clean shave.   Shaving on the second day gives my face a much better opportunity to offer up a more substancial sacrifice to the beard buddah.   Of course, I can’t always wait to shave every other day.   This means that sometimes, I just have to deal with it.

So I draw this conclusion:
Probelm solving isn’t always an instant process.   Sometimes a problem needs to be allowed to fully expose itself before it can be dealt with correctly.   However, that doesn’t change the fact that  other times  you  just have to do what you have to do.
 

3. A little heat never hurt anyone.
Ever tried to shave when it was cold?   Enough said.

So I draw this conclusion:
When life heats up, smile.   We often do our best work in this environment.

4. Smoke and mirrors are a part of life.
I decided long ago to shave not before, not after, but during a shower.   It’s easier, quicker, and the results are just better.   However, this decision led me to a profound consumer realization.   There is no such thing as a fogless mirror! It’s a constant battle I face (no pun intended)  – trying to focus through the haze of morning on a blurry image in a foggy mirror while I rake a sharp blade across my throat.

So I draw this conclusion:
Very few things are as they seem.   So much of what we do, from the mudain and ordinary to the extreme and perilous, requires us to make decisions based on information that is far too often clouded by the smoke and mirrors of the world.   Don’t believe me?   Watch the news.

5. Some problems never go away, we just get better at dealing with them.
You know what’s funny?   Nearly everyday of my adult life I shave.   Then I go to work, come home, go to bed, wake up, and . . .  dadgummit!   I have to shave all over again.   This is a viscious cycle that I frankly can’t believe we haven’t found a way to break yet.   But alas, we have not.   And so . . . I shave.   I am, therefore I shave.   But I’m a lot better at it than I used to be.

So I draw this FINAL conclusion:
Try as we might, there are some problems we will never “fix.”   When it comes to these things, perhaps “fixing” isn’t the goal, but rather what we become in the process.

So . . . did I miss anything?   Share your comments and add to the list!

Memoirs

Normal Is The New Rebellion

I was taught to be good.   I was taught to love others, mind my manners, be respectful, and above all . . . stay out of trouble.   Of course the later eventually became more about not getting caught than anything else.   But even still, I was a good kid.

Yet even during adolescence (which my wife might argue I never completely left behind) it was clear that I would never be the cool kid I wanted to be.   I was too satisfied with being good.   Too bent on being normal, unlike my peers who seemed determined to push every envelop.   I was too much of a conformist to contribute to any kind of real diversity.   I was traditional.   I was too “goody-goody.” I’m sure to many, I was on my best day simply artificial.

Now, I am older.   I carry much more responsibility, and I am glad to accept it.   Yet, some things never change.   I am still “normal.”  Middle class vanilla at its Baskin Robbins best.   A wife, three kids, a mortgage, you know the drill.    My politics are conservative.   I believe in local responsibility, state power, and limited federal government.   I believe in prayer in schools, in One Nation Under God (in whom I also believe we still trust).   I say “sir” and “ma’am” and mean them with respect.   I do not expect anything from anyone except that they do their part.

However, it seems to me that I have become the stereotype.   I am the “normal” that constitutes that which others would seek to redefine.   While some celebrate diversity as I do, there are others that care little for my way of life, calling it close-minded, antiquated, exclusive, even intolerant.   But who will tolerate me?   Who will look out for my way of life, my rights, my beliefs?

As a Christian evangelical (I think that’s what they call me know), as a conservative Republican, as  an  opponent to abortion and a proponent of prayer in schools, I have become the minority who’s  rights now need protecting.   And there are others like me, who (like me) are not used to  having to define and defend  what it is for  which  they stand.    For we were once normal.

Now,  to be what once was normal is to rebel against pop culture.    It is  to swim against the current of mainstream media.   It is to guard the eyes and ears, the hearts and minds of my children against that which others would call normal, that which I do not.

Strange as it seems, it has become clear to me that normal is the new rebellion.