A Salute to Dads Who Choose Not to Rage by Jay Payleitner

The Dad Book

Today’s guest post is from Jay Payleitner, an event speaker and the author of over a dozen books on family relationships, including the bestseller, 52 Things Kids Needs from a Dad. Don’t miss his latest title, The Dad Book, now on Vyrso. To connect with Jay, visit his website is jaypayleitner.com

About five years ago, I finally replaced our faded and flawed garage door.  It cost me $1,200 and made all the difference in the world when you pulled up to our home.  That new door was crisp, clean, and flawless.  I was confident it would stay that way because–even though my sons played driveway stickball—I had specifically selected a heavy-duty door so the wiffle balls wouldn’t leave a dent.

Eight days later, I pulled up to a driveway of four college boys playing stickball.  My eyes went straight to three gashes in my new $1,200 garage door.  As I had planned, there were no wiffle ball dents.  But it turns out that once in a while on the backswing a stickball bat—which is really just a broom handle wrapped with athletic tape—will strike the garage door with enough force to leave a noticeable crease in the surface.  Did I mention that door had cost me $1,200?

So, what did this dad do? Did I rage?

Claiming a small victory for dads everywhere, I’m proud to say I did not rage.  (Yes, I can hear your applause.) Now, it helped that my son, Isaac, jogged out to the street to meet me with a sincere apology.  But just as important, my mind quickly calculated what was going on.  There were no beer cans scattered on the lawn.  No police squad cars were pulling up with bad news. No creepy video games were crashing and slashing in a dark basement. My son and three of his life-long friends had chosen to hang out in my front yard and compete in the time-honored game of stickball.  What kind of investment does that require? Broom handle: $3. Wiffle balls: $6. A garage door with stickball bruises: priceless. (Marked down from $1,200.)

Gentlemen, hear me.  Please don’t stress out every time a floor gets scuffed, a table gets scratched, or a door gets dented.  After all, it’s just stuff. And stuff doesn’t last. Relationships are the one thing that we can take with us into eternity. [Click to tweet!] That’s why you want your home to be a place where unconditional love and overflowing grace reside. You want kids from near and far to feel welcome and comfortable.  As a bonus, you’ll always know where your own kids are and who they’re with.

There’s a story told by Harmon Killebrew, the great power hitter for the Minnesota Twins, during his induction ceremony into the Hall of Fame. He recalled how one day he and his brother were roughhousing in the front yard. His mother stepped out of the screen door and called out, “You’re tearing up the grass.” Harmon’s dad happened to be within earshot and reminded his wife, “We’re not raising grass. We’re raising boys.”

You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating. Your kids will grow up so fast.  They’ll be gone before you know it.  After that, you’ll have plenty of time to re-sod, re-paint, re-screen, re-carpet, and relax.

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.”  Colossians 3:21 (NASB)

Check out Jay Payleitner’s, The Dad Book, now on Vyrso, for inspiration, ideas, and encouragement for dads to engage with their kids and connect them with God.

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Continuing in Relationship because of Christ

Everyday Grace

Today’s guest post is written by Jessica Thompson,  author of Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relationships with the Love of Jesus, and co-author of Give Them Grace. She has been married for 18 years and has three kids, ranging from nine to fourteen years old.

“If you want love, give love. If you want friends, be friendly. If you’d like to feel understood, try being more understanding. It’s a simple practice that works.”

Seemingly good advice for the one looking for relationship. I would venture to say everyone would agree with that statement. I know I have said something very similar to my children as they have bemoaned the fact that they don’t have many friends. I have preached that to my own heart. And yet, there is a man who wrecks that entire paradigm.

This man lived unselfishly every single day of his life. He always chose to love others, perfectly. He also chose to serve others, completely. He never thought about what was best for him. He lived to please his Father. He considered himself a servant to all. There was no task too dirty or too menial for him. He was known to wash the feet of those who were about to betray and deny him. He gave to those he knew would show no gratitude. He loved without ever thinking of what would be given in return. He truly understood all that others went through without ever being understood. He gave love unceasingly and was met with hate and mistrust. I am sure you have guessed at this point that I am talking about our Redeemer, our sweet Savior, our Christ.

We are all sinners and bound to hurt and to be hurt, and, because of this, we desire to protect ourselves. I don’t want to be hurt and I hate hurting others. It makes me think the easiest thing is just to hide myself away, lock my heart up, never get close enough to anybody to hurt them or to let them hurt me.

But then I look at what lengths God has gone to be in relationship with me. I look at Christ living every single day of his life in relationship without ever sinning and yet constantly being sinned against, and my heart is broken. My self-protective tendencies are shattered. For in Christ, I have all the relationship I need and all the relationship I have ever longed for. [Click to tweet!]

Even as I type this on a dreary Monday morning, I can look back at the three hours I have been awake and I can see that I have sinned against everyone with whom I have come in contact. They may not have known what was in my heart, but if they did they would have been devastated. If I stay with that thought I can become increasingly inward focused and fall back into self-preservation. But then the Holy Spirit lifts my eyes, and I see my Perfect Righteousness sitting at the right hand of the Father. I see the Father lovingly looking at his Son, and I know that look is for me as well because I am in Christ by faith. All the love and acceptance that Jesus earned is now mine. I am a relationship screw-up, and yet he has forgiven me.
Beloved, because of this forgiveness, because of this Messiah who knows the hurt of relationship, because of this God who would suffer when the relationship with his Son was broken, because of the Holy Spirit who reminds us of our Father’s steadfast love for us, we can continue in relationship.

We can love out of the overflow of love that has been bestowed on us. We can forgive out of the forgiveness that has washed our lives completely. We can give when it feels like there is nothing left to give. When there is no desire to give, we can remember that we have already been given all that we need.

Perhaps the quote at the beginning should read, “If you want love, remember you have it. If you want friends, remember your position in Christ. If you would like to feel understood, see Christ your High Priest sympathizing with you in every weakness. It’s a difficult practice, but you have help.”


Don’t miss Jessica Thompson’s new ebook, Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relationships with the Love of Jesus, for more on navigating relationships with the love of Christ!

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The Two Cliffs of Sin and Legalism

The Two Cliffs of Sin and Legalism

Today’s excerpt is from Radically Normal: You Don’t Have to Live Crazy to Follow Jesus by Josh Kelley, on sale for $1.99 April 13 through April 17. The book is a call away from both obsessive and complacent Christianity and towards radical devotion lived out in surprisingly normal ways.  Josh has been a pastor for 15 years and holds a BA in biblical studies from Pacific Life College.

Years ago, my friend Jason went hiking in the mountains of   Tajikistan along the border of Afghanistan. Americans weren’t particularly popular in that part of the world, so he admits it wasn’t one of the brighter things he’s done. He said the trip up the mountain was hard enough, but coming down was a nightmare. His party was thousands of feet above the valley, making its way down what could be called a path only in the most generous sense of the word. It ran along a narrow ridge and was covered with jagged, loose gravel. Because the decline was so steep on each side, he didn’t actually walk down the path—he slid.

“The trickiest part was staying on the ridge with only a couple feet of leeway on either side,” Jason said. “If you focused too much on the dangers of one side, you naturally overcompensated and started to slide down the other side. The whole way down we had to constantly adjust our slide to avoid going too far off either side to a rather painful end.”

Jason survived and went on to get married, have kids, and take up safer activities, including raising poison dart frogs (he assures me they lose their poison in captivity) and being a missionary in Bolivia.

Picture yourself on that same path, but make it narrower and the drop-off steeper than whatever you imagined. Add fierce winds howling around you, nearly pushing you off one side and then the other. Now imagine a rope anchored every 20 feet and running the entire length of the path. Only when you’re grasping the rope do you dare to look up and enjoy the stunning view before you.

That path describes your Christian journey. The cliff to the left is destructive disobedience. This is complacent Christianity. The cliff to the right is legalism, trying to earn God’s favor by doing all the right things and being a good person. This is obsessive Christianity. Fall off either cliff, and you’ll end up in slavery.

The apostle Paul wrote, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). He wrote “burdened again” because the Galatians had been saved from slavery to idols and sin, and now they were on the verge of being enslaved to legalism. Jesus had saved them from one cliff, and they were getting ready to cannonball off the other.

What does this have to do with grace? Grace is the rope that keeps you on the path. God’s grace, secured by Christ’s death, got us on the path in the first place. Grasping onto his grace is the only way we can stay on the path and enjoy the journey. And only by his grace can we safely make it home. No matter how many times we fall off the path, Jesus is ready to pull us back up by his grace. [Click to tweet!]

Now I want you to imagine staying on that path without the rope. Does it sound difficult? Actually, it’s not difficult—it’s impossible. The winds of selfishness, lust, bitterness, and a host of other sinful desires threaten to blow us over the left cliff of destructive sin. As soon as we get control over those desires, we begin to feel pretty good about ourselves, and we’re hit by winds of pride and self-righteousness, pushing us toward the right cliff of legalism. Our only hope, every step of the way, is desperate dependence on God’s grace.

To be radically normal is to stay on the path and avoid both cliffs, completely dependent on grace.

The problem with the analogy is that it doesn’t convey how joy-filled the journey is. Try to imagine experiencing some of your happiest moments while walking along that narrow path—seeing your newborn child, going to Disneyland, enjoying your favorite meal. . . .

Now we’re getting closer.

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5 Ways to Help Support a Couple in Crisis: Advice from Kathi Lipp

Happy Habits for Every Couple

Today’s guest post is written by Kathi Lipp, a national speaker and author of Clutter Free: Quick and Easy Steps to Simplify Your SpaceThe Husband Project, and many others. Kathi and her husband, Roger, have co-authored the new ebook Happy Habits for Every Couple: 21 Days to a Better Relationship, a 21-day plan to help couples put love and laughter back into their marriages. 

Even before we wrote a marriage book, Roger and I had, what we felt was, more than an average number of people come to one or both of us and say, “My marriage is in trouble.”

From, “I think my husband is having an affair,” to “We just don’t like spending time together anymore,” the pleas were along different lines, but always heartbreaking. I can’t think of many things harder than when someone you love is in a hurting marriage.

But then comes the really practical questions of what can I do? How do I support my friend, but also support their marriage?

It would be easy to just agree, “Yep—he’s a dog!” or “I don’t know how you stay with her after the way she’s behaved.” But as someone who has gone through the pain of divorce, I know that there is very little relief to be found in breaking up a marriage. Our goal, always, should be reconciliation.

Here are a few guidelines that we’ve come up with as a couple to support our friends during the hardest parts of marriage:

1. Don’t Take Sides—yet. It is so easy to jump on someone’s bandwagon— especially when they are hurting. But after too many times of listening to the other side of the story and realizing that maybe I didn’t have all the facts, I now hold back judgement. It’s very hard to back pedal when you’ve already declared sides.

2. Meet and meet again. One of the main things your friend needs from you is the ministry of presence.  When marriage is hard, one of the overwhelming feelings most people have is loneliness. Just by being present, going to coffee, and talking about some normal things that are not so painful, you can love them and help restore their equilibrium.

3. Pray. Pray with them. Pray on your own. And let them know that you are praying for them. Even if your friend can’t find it within themselves to pray, you can be a powerful, strong stretcher-bearer in the gap.

4. Encourage healthy habits. She doesn’t feel like being nice. He doesn’t feel like bringing her flowers. She doesn’t want to be intimate. He doesn’t want to visit her mom. Challenge them to do it anyway. Your friend will never regret trying too hard.

5. Counseling is not a last resort. I used to recommend counseling when nothing else worked. Now, I’ve got a quick trigger finger when it comes to recommending professional counseling. The early intervention of a trained professional can save a couple from a lot of unnecessary, hurtful words, as well as wasted time.

And finally, let me say thank you. When marriage gets hard, lots of people don’t know what to do, so they stop showing up in their friend’s lives. Thank you, as someone who had been in that hard place and needed the support of people who knew how to share God’s love in tangible ways.

Don’t miss Kathi and Roger Lipp’s latest release, Happy Habits for Every Couple: 21 Days to a Better Relationship, on Vyrso now!

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Easter Sunday: He is Risen!

He is Risen

Today’s guest post is by Andreas J. Köstenberger, the senior research professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

The disciples had not understood what Jesus meant when he said he would suffer, die, and be raised on the third day (Matt. 16:21–23; 17:22–23; 20:17–19).

The Pharisees and religious leaders didn’t understand either, but they were concerned enough with Jesus’ predictions that they posted guards at his tomb (Matt. 27:62–66).

Indeed, how could Jesus be expected to be raised from the dead? He had died a criminal’s death. More than that, he had died like a traitor or blasphemer, as one cursed by God according to the Scriptures (Deut. 21:22–23). It would be natural to think that the Gospels should end after Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19. There were others before Jesus who had claimed to be the Messiah, and they, too, had died, and their corpses were rotting away in their graves. But Jesus’ story didn’t end in a tomb or conform to the stories of false Messiahs. The Gospels carry the narrative further to its glorious climax: an empty tomb and a risen Lord.

The evangelists include a number of different events that take place during the course of Easter Sunday. The day begins with a group of women discovering the empty tomb in the early morning. Having gone near dawn to anoint Jesus’ body with spices, they instead come to an empty tomb whose stone has been rolled away by an angel and are told by angels that the Jesus they seek is no longer in the tomb but has risen as he said. The women are then sent to the disciples and told they will see him in Galilee (Matt. 28:1–7; Mark 16:1–7; Luke 24:1–7; John 20:1–2).

At this the women depart, afraid at first (Mark 16:8), but they eventually make their way to the disciples in order to tell them what has happened (Luke 24:8–11; John 20:2). As they are traveling, they are met by the risen Lord himself who instructs them to go tell the disciples to go ahead to Galilee where they will meet him (Matt. 28:8–10). After receiving the report from the women, the disciples’ initial response is to think that the women are telling an “idle tale” (Luke 24:11), but nonetheless Peter and John decide to investigate. Running to the tomb, they find that it is indeed empty (Luke 24:12; John 20:3–5). Not only this, but the cloths used to wrap Jesus’ body are folded up and separated from the cloth used to bind his face (John 20:5–7), indicating that the body hadn’t been stolen but raised from the dead. John sees the linen cloth and believes, even though he didn’t yet fully understand that Jesus must rise from the dead according to the Scriptures. Then Peter and John return home (John 20:8–10).

Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene is making her way back to the tomb after reporting the news to the disciples. Weeping, she looks into the tomb where she sees angels. They question her about her weeping, but instead of receiving a comforting word from the angels, Mary encounters Jesus. She doesn’t recognize him at first, mistaking him for the gardener (further proof that Jesus’ followers didn’t expect him to rise from the dead, despite his repeated predictions). He then reveals himself to her and sends her back to the disciples to tell them that he will soon be ascending back to God, his and their Father. Mary returns, bringing a vastly different message than she had declared earlier that morning (John 20:11–18).

As the day goes on, two disciples are walking on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, about seven miles to the northwest. Jesus comes and falls in step with them, though, like Mary, they don’t recognize him. Jesus asks what they’ve been talking about, and they proceed to tell him about the grievous events of the crucifixion and the perplexing occurrences that had taken place earlier that morning (Luke 24:13–24). While they journey on, Jesus rebukes them for their slowness to believe the Scriptures and then explains to them from the Scriptures all the things concerning himself. When they approach Emmaus, Jesus joins them at their request. As he gives thanks for the food, their eyes are opened to recognize Jesus, and he disappears. They immediately set out to return to Jerusalem and tell the disciples what has happened (Luke 24:25–35). That same evening, Jesus appears in the midst of a locked room to all the disciples who are gathered, though Thomas is absent for some unknown reason.

Jesus greets them and calms their fears that he is a spirit by inviting them to touch him and by eating a piece of broiled fish (Luke 24:36–43; John 20:19–20). Jesus then commissions the disciples to proclaim the good news of forgiveness for those who receive their message and the accompanying message of judgment for those who reject him. He sends them as the Father sent him, and breathes on them, enacting the giving of the Holy Spirit that was about to be fulfilled at Pentecost (John 20:21–23; cf. Acts 2). Jesus teaches the disciples, opening their minds to understand what was written about him in the Scriptures (Luke 24:44–45), though the remainder of Luke’s account is a condensed account of what takes place over the next forty days, as Acts 1:3–4 indicates.

That day had begun with fear, but it ended with joy. [Click to tweet!] God’s wrath has been poured out on his Son; the price has been paid, and the work of salvation is finished. Death has been defeated. The tomb is empty. Christ is risen! And the glorious news of the risen Christ means that sinners can be saved. And having been saved, we’re now sent on mission by the risen Lord to bring the good news of the gospel to a lost and dying world. He is risen indeed!


Adapted from Andreas Köstenberger and Justin Taylor, The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014), 173–93.

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A Holy Saturday

A Holy Saturday

Today’s guest post is by Andreas J. Köstenberger, the senior research professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

For good reason, the Gospels devote a great deal of space to the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion on Thursday and Friday of Passover week, as well as Jesus’ glorious resurrection on Sunday, the “Lord’s Day.” Yet little space is given in the Gospels to the day between “Good Friday” and Easter Sunday, sometimes known as “Holy Saturday.”

None of the Gospels record any of the activities of the disciples on the Sabbath after his burial and prior to his resurrection, except for Luke, who simply writes, “On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56, ESV). However, this passing reference to the disciples’ Sabbath rest may veil the considerable inner turmoil they were likely experiencing.

It is probable that Jesus’ followers were doing on Saturday what they were doing on Sunday when Jesus appeared in their midst—meeting together behind closed doors for fear of the Jewish leaders. Their hopes and expectations had been crushed. The one they hoped was the Messiah had been killed as a criminal. They hadn’t understood Jesus’ predictions about suffering and dying before the crucifixion took place (Matt. 16:21–23; 17:22–23; 20:17–19 and parallels), and it would not be until Jesus appeared among them the following day as the risen victor and conqueror of death that they would begin to understand.

Most likely, they were concerned, if not anxious or even terrified, that what had happened to their leader would now happen to them as well.

Only Matthew gives any concrete details as to what took place that day behind the scenes while activity was limited due to the Sabbath. According to his account, it was on Saturday that the Pharisees and chief priests came to Pilate and asked for a guard to be posted at Jesus’ tomb, saying, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first,” (Matthew 27:63–64).

It seems that the disciples were not the only ones who were afraid! Perhaps the unusual circumstances surrounding Jesus’ death—darkness covering the land, an earthquake, the tearing of the temple curtain—gave the Jewish leaders reason to be concerned. The Pharisees were obviously aware of the predictions Jesus had made about his resurrection, although they were not necessarily inclined to think that his words may actually come true. In fact, their words show nothing but disdain for Jesus whom they call “that impostor” and “fraud.” Nevertheless, it is ironic that not only were the Jewish leaders aware of Jesus’ prediction that he would rise on the third day, they acted on it, which exhibits more “faith” than Jesus’ own followers were able to muster at that time.

Pilate’s response, “You have a guard of soldiers” (Matthew 27:65), is somewhat ambiguous. It may be that the Roman governor grants the Jewish leaders’ request and provides them with a detachment of Roman soldiers. Alternatively, he may simply be telling them, with thinly veiled antagonism, to use their own temple police to do the job. In either case, he grants them permission to guard the tomb, and they proceed to do so.

The Jewish authorities  were adamant that the body placed in the tomb and that it must stay there and not be removed. In the context of Matthew’s account, these activities on Holy Saturday serve as proof that the Romans and the Jewish authorities secured Jesus’ tomb, which makes it unlikely that grave robbers could have stolen the body or that it could have disappeared through some sort of foul play in another way. In this way, Matthew sets up the narrative perfectly for what is to ensue on Easter Sunday at the crack of dawn.


Adapted from Andreas Köstenberger and Justin Taylor, The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014), 169–71.

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Good Friday: Death Has Been Defeated


Today’s Good Friday guest post is by Rebecca Greenwood, author of Let Our Children GoDefeating Strongholds of the Mind, and Breaking the Bonds of Evil.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. . . .”
—Matthew 28:5–6, NIV

Death seems so harsh and final. I can imagine that the disciples were feeling the finality of the Crucifixion as they had witnessed the cruel death of their friend, teacher, and Lord. After all, they had left everything to follow him, and the end result was a torturous death that in appearance seemed absolute. I am sure they were confused and emotionally overcome. But the truth is, if they would have gone back in their memories, they would have recalled an important event and statement Jesus had made.

But standing there at Lazarus’ tomb, Jesus spoke forth these hope-filled words: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25–26, MEV).

The disciples would have recalled Jesus standing at the tomb of his close friend Lazarus. They would have remembered that Jesus did something totally unexpected: he wept (John 11:35). These two words reveal the deep sympathy God feels for the sorrow, death, and suffering of his people. The Greek word for wept, dakruo, indicates that Jesus burst into tears and then wept silently. This should be a great comfort to all of us who experience sorrow. Jesus feels the same sympathy for each of us that he felt at the tomb of Lazarus and for the relatives and friends of Lazarus. He loves each of us that much. I believe he knew that death was not part of God’s original plan. Humanity was not meant to grow old, to suffer with disease, or to die. But because of the sin of Adam and Eve, sin entered the human race, and death followed with it. And death spread to all of us. Jesus wept because it broke his heart.

The resurrection of Jesus is one of the unchangeable central truths of the gospel. It is the good news that forever stands as a testament that he is truly the son of God, our Redeemer who lives, the risen Lamb, and the Messiah and Savior of all mankind.

What does this mean for each of us who have chosen through faith to walk in the gracious gift of salvation? Friends, death has been defeated! It is not the end! [Click to tweet!]

It is the foundation for Jesus’ gift of the Holy Spirit and spiritual life to those who believe.

It is the establishment for Jesus’ heavenly intercession for every believer.

It makes available to us the presence of Jesus and his power over sin in our everyday lives and experiences.

It provides a way for us to enter into heavenly intercession with our Lord.

It assures us, as believers, of our future heavenly inheritance.

Physical death is not a tragic end, instead it is the gateway to abundant hope, eternal life, and fellowship with our heavenly Father and risen Lord.

Just as Jesus lives forever, we too, as resurrected believers, will never die.

We will have new bodies, immortal and incorruptible.

If we put our faith and belief in Jesus, then his resurrection means that we will not be devastated by death, but we will live forever in the holy and majestic presence of God in a glorious fellowship with him.

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Washing of the Feet: Christ Washes Us Clean

The Power of the Cross

Today’s post is written by Jessica Thompson, author of Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relationships with the Love of Jesus, Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesusand Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 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.” —John 13:3-5


The disciples and Christ have just finished their last meal together. The disciples, of course, don’t know this, but Jesus does. In an act displaying his humility and kindness he kneels before them. Jesus, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,” (Philipians 2:6-7) lays aside his outer garments. Presumably the very same garments that hours later would be stripped off of him and gambled for are the ones that he voluntarily lays aside now to wash his disciples’ feet. Then he takes the towel and ties it around his waist. He pours the water into the basin and begins to wash their feet. He washes the feet of each of the disciples that is there.

Judas, the one “the devil had already put it into [his] heart . . . to betray him,” (John 13:2). Christ washes Judas’s feet with the full knowledge of what he is about to do. He stoops and washes this betrayer’s feet.

Peter, “the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times,” (John 13:38). Christ washes the feet of Peter who would not have the moral fortitude to admit knowing Jesus to a young girl at a campfire. He stoops and washes this coward’s feet.

Philip, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us,” (John 14:8). Christ washes the feet of Philip who just needs a little more convincing that Christ is the Messiah; he just needs one more sign. He stoops and washes this skeptic’s feet.

Thomas, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe,” (John 20:25). Christ washes the feet of Thomas who would refuse to believe, without physically touching him, that Christ had risen from the dead. Christ stoops and washes this doubter’s feet.

James and John, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory,” (Mark 10:37). Christ washes the feet of James and John who were motivated by power and prestige and completely misunderstood what Jesus had come to do. He stoops and washes these glory thieves’ feet.

One by one Christ goes through and washes each disciple’s feet. These disciples who “had argued with one another about who was the greatest,” (Mark 9:34). These disciples who, at his greatest moment of need, “he came . . . and found them sleeping for sorrow,” (Luke 22:45). These disciples who cowered when Christ was arrested—“And they all left him and fled,” (Mark 14:50). Do you see yourself in any of these disciples? Perhaps you see yourself in all of them. I know I do.

And yet, Christ washes us as well. It is not because of our worthiness that he performs this glorious act. It is because of his gloriousness that this takes place. Christ knew what awaited him. He knew the pain. Yet, he also knew “that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God,” (John 13:3).

What had the Father given to him? He had given him us—the doubters, the skeptics, the betrayers, the glory thieves, the cowards—and Christ loved us unto death. He also knew that he was going home to once again be with his Father. He knew that his death on the cross and resurrection would ensure that someday we would all go home with him.

And so on this Holy Thursday, be sober, rejoice, rest, remember how he has made you clean by his greatest act of condescension and love. Consider this perfectly loving one who loves because of who he is, not because of who we are.

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Betrayal and Jesus’ Loyal Love


Today’s guest post is by Peter Hubbard, the teaching pastor at North Hills Community Church in Taylors, South Carolina. He has two master’s degrees and is currently completing a Doctor of Ministry degree in pastoral counseling at Westminister Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Peter and his wife, Karen, have been married 25 years and have four children. He is the author of Love into Light.

My wife and I recently sat with a friend whose husband had just announced he wanted to be married to another woman. He was abandoning his wife and kids. As we sat with her, I didn’t know what to say. I’ve been with many widows and grieving parents and have walked with friends through deep loss. But something felt different this time. Betrayal is like losing a loved one, except the loved one isn’t taken. He leaves. And the loved one is acting like a thief and the thing stolen all at once.

Betrayal is an invasion from within—an insider acting like an outsider, doing damage without tripping off any alarms. The pain is deep and toxic. And the victim of betrayal usually feels stunned, used, and angry. As Michael Card explains, enemies can’t betray one another:

“Only a friend can betray a friend

A stranger has nothing to gain

And only a friend comes close enough

To ever cause so much pain.”

The strongest word for “friend” in the Hebrew Old Testament is allup, a close companion. This word is often used in the context of betrayal to highlight the intensity of the treachery. The adulterous woman, for example, “forsakes the companion [allup] of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God” (Proverbs 2:17). In Psalm 55, King David captures the agony of betrayal.

“But it is you, a man, my equal,
my companion [allup], my familiar friend.
We used to take sweet counsel together;
within God’s house we walked in the throng.”
—Psalm 55:13–14

David knew the cold, sharp, back-stabbing pain of betrayal. But at another time he wielded the knife. Uriah was his loyal friend, yet David stole Uriah’s wife and orchestrated his death (2 Samuel 11:1-27; 23:39). Betrayal went viral. Many of David’s friends and sons turned on him and sought to take him down.

Jesus befriended betrayers. He called the 12 disciples to follow him, yet he predicted their acts of treason: “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me” (Matthew 26:21). He made this announcement as they shared a meal. And after Judas went into the darkness, they sang a hymn, and Jesus broadened the prediction, “You will all fall away” (Matthew 26:31). Even Peter, who promised loyalty, was told he would deny Jesus. And he did.

The kiss of betrayal is far more painful than the crushing blow of animosity. Jesus, the friend of sinners, embraces the pain of betrayal so that we, his unfaithful friends, might taste loyal love. [Click to tweet!] And this loyal love changes us. It interrupts the epidemic of betrayal and transforms the tongue of treachery into a tool of truth and praise!

“Thank you, Jesus, that you invite betrayers to your table. And through the treason you endured, you fill us with your unfailing love.”

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Redefining Greatness through God

Redefining Greatness through God

Today’s guest post is written by Jan Harrison, author of  Life After the Storm: God Will Carry You Through, speaker, and Bible study teacher who has inspired thousands of women for over 15 years. She and her husband, Frank, have three grown daughters and reside in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Lent is the 40 days before Easter when we prepare our heart to receive the joyous reality of Christ’s resurrection power by reflecting on his life and death. In sincere and genuine reflection, I find myself under conviction. God’s firm but gentle hand is leading me to look into the mirror of his word.

Will you join me in your heart and pray with me?

Lord Jesus, When I look into the mirror of your word I see selfish, self- centered, self-protecting me. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I’ve neglected your example and failed to practice what you taught when you washed your disciples’ feet. Show me what it looks like in my life to genuinely serve others as you did. In your name I pray, Amen.

Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be a slave to all.” (Mark 10:44-45).

To be perfectly honest, I would like to be great for God.  I genuinely desire to live my life with eternal purpose and to bring glory and honor to his great name.  My challenge is to remember whose voice I allow to define the meaning of ‘great’.

Greatness is usually defined in terms of numbers of people who follow, like, listen, and talk about us favorably. This world measures greatness by the number of people who serve you. We like to be catered to and taken care of. We gladly pay for people to serve us. Maybe one reason Jesus was rejected by the Jews and religious leaders, and by people today, is because he came as a suffering servant. Born in a manger, trained as a carpenter, roamed the countryside with unprofessional, unlearned men and misfits in society—hardly the resume of a ‘great’ man. Read Jesus’ words and you will find ‘greatness’, according to his standard, rearranges everything you ever heard.

“I am among you as the one who serves,” (Luke 22:27).

Greatness for God didn’t just happen, not even for Jesus. Read the words from Philippians 2: 5-8, and see how Jesus became great:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking on the form of a bond servant, and being made in the likeness of man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.”

Jesus emptied himself of glorious heavenly perfection.

Jesus humbled himself and willingly became a bond-servant. The king of glory stooped low to assume the position of a slave.

Jesus obeyed the Father’s requirement of death on a cross to atone for sin. He laid down his perfect, sinless life on a painful, shameful cross to pick up and pay for my sin and shame.

As I reflect on the price for greatness with God I have to ask myself,  “Am I willing to take the same steps required of Jesus?

Will I:

1. Empty myself and hold nothing for myself? Paul said it this way, “Whatever things were gain to me, and those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ,” (Philippians 3:7). 

2. Humble myself, bow low and stay there everyday, in every circumstance? “He gives grace to the humble,” (James 4:6).

3. Become obedient and discipline myself under the Word where the will of God is revealed and respond with obedience? “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,” (I Samuel 15:22).

4. Suffer willingly and allow my suffering to be used to bless others? “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow to attain the resurrection of the dead,” (Philippians 3:10).

 How serious are we about being great for God? Crowded into the upper room to eat the Last Supper, the disciples got into a dispute about who would be the greatest. Patient Jesus gave them a demonstration of greatness instead of a lecture. Without introduction or fanfare, he got up from the table, took off his outer garments, and tied a towel around his waist. He moved quietly around the table where they reclined and washed his disciple’s feet. Emptying himself, humbling himself, obeying his Father, suffering for others, just as he had done everyday of his life on earth. When finished he said,

“For I gave you an example that you should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, neither is one who is sent, greater than one who sent him,” (John 13:15-16).

What do you consider to be gains in your life? I would call these the things we consider to give us a “leg up” in life. Some possibilities could be your heritage, spirituality, education, a talent, career, family, social position, reputation, influence? Would you consider them all as loss, and be willing to empty yourself of them in order to genuinely serve in the name of Christ?

It’s time to do more than reflect. It’s time to repent. Using these prompts as I did, allow the Spirit to redefine greatness. [Click to tweet!]

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