22 October 2019, 12:00 am
The ad brought a smile to my face: “The most comfortable socks in the history of feet.” Then, extending its claim of good news for feet even further, the advertiser said that because socks remain the most requested clothing item at homeless shelters, for every pair of socks purchased the company would donate a pair to someone in need.
Imagine the smile when Jesus healed the feet of a man who hadn’t been able to walk for thirty-eight years (John 5:2–8). Try to figure the opposing look on the faces of the Temple officials who weren’t impressed by Jesus’s care for the feet or heart of someone who had gone without help for so long. They accused the man and Jesus of breaking a religious law that allows no work to be done on the Sabbath (vv. 9–10, 16–17). They saw rules where Jesus saw the need for mercy.
At this point the man didn’t even know who had given him new feet. Only later would he be able to say that it was Jesus who had made him well (vv. 13–15)—the same Jesus who would allow His own feet to be nailed to a tree to offer that man—and us—the best news in the history of broken bodies, minds, and hearts.More
21 October 2019, 12:00 am
In the Danish film Babette’s Feast, a French refugee appears in a coastal village. Two elderly sisters, leaders of the community’s religious life, take her in, and for fourteen years Babette works as their housekeeper. When Babette comes into a large sum of money, she invites the congregation of twelve to join her for an extravagant French meal of caviar, quail in puff pastry, and more.
As they move from one course to the next, the guests relax; some find forgiveness, some find love rekindled, and some begin recalling miracles they’d witnessed and truths they’d learned in childhood. “Remember what we were taught?” they say. “Little children, love one another.” When the meal ends, Babette reveals to the sisters that she spent all she had on the food. She gave everything — including any chance of returning to her old life as an acclaimed chef in Paris — so that her friends, eating, might feel their hearts open.
Jesus appeared on earth as a stranger and servant, and He gave everything so that our spiritual hunger might be satisfied. In John’s gospel, He reminds His listeners that when their ancestors wandered hungry in the wilderness, God provided quail and bread (Exodus 16). That food satisfied for a time, but Jesus promises that those who accept Him as the “bread of life” will “live forever” (John 6:48, 51). His sacrifice satisfies our spiritual cravings.More
20 October 2019, 12:00 am
After the conclusion of the First World War, US President Woodrow Wilson was recognized as one of the most powerful leaders on earth. But few knew that after a devastating stroke in 1919, it was his wife who managed nearly all of his affairs, determining which issues should be brought to his attention. In fact, modern historians believe that for a short while, it was really Edith Wilson who served as the President of the United States.
If asked to name the leaders of the early church, most of us would list Peter, Paul, and Timothy as a handful possessing well-documented gifts. But in Romans 16, Paul lists nearly forty people of diverse backgrounds—men, women, slaves, Jews, and gentiles—all of whom contributed to the life of the church in diverse ways.
And far from considering them second-rate members of the church, it’s clear that Paul held these people in the highest regard. He describes them as outstanding among the apostles (v. 7)—people to be celebrated for their service for Jesus.
Many of us feel that we’re too ordinary to be leaders in the church. But the truth is that each of us has gifts that can used to serve and help others. In God’s strength, may we use our gifts to His honor!More
19 October 2019, 12:00 am
Poet Carl Sandburg wrote of former US president Abraham Lincoln, “Not often in the story of mankind does a man arrive on earth who is both steel and velvet, . . . who holds in his heart and mind the paradox of terrible storm and peace unspeakable and perfect.” “Steel and velvet” described how Lincoln balanced the power of his office with concern for individuals longing for freedom.
Only one person in all history perfectly balanced strength and softness, power and compassion. That man is Jesus Christ. In John 8, when confronted by the religious leaders to condemn a guilty woman, Jesus displayed both steel and velvet. He showed steel by withstanding the demands of a bloodthirsty mob, instead turning their critical eyes upon themselves. He said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (v. 7). Then Jesus modeled the velvet of compassion by telling the woman, “Neither do I condemn you . . . . Go now and leave your life of sin” (v. 11).
Reflecting His “steel and velvet” in our own responses to others can reveal the Father’s work of conforming us to be like Jesus. We can show His heart to a world hungry for both the velvet of mercy and the steel of justice.More