The Example

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The Example

John 13:1-17

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I 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, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”

1 Corinthians 11:23-261

The Institution of the Lord’s Supper

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Real life examples is one of the best ways we learn. That is the reason that churches, marketing groups, and educators use personal testimony to get our attention and convince us that we should follow that example. Personal testimony is powerful and persuasive, and actions speak even louder than words.

Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. It was probably the last thing they or we ever expected Him to do here in His final hours. His last supper, His last requests, were spent serving others, like a prisoner doing community service before the execution – not because He was forced to, but because this is what He desired. It is not the action itself that so inspires us. It was what the action revealed about the heart behind it

When Jesus took this precious time to invest in others (and yes, some times are more precious than others) He showed them what all those teaching times looked like when they were lived out. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, I say to you, love your enemies, take the plank out of your own eye first before you try to take the speck out of your brother’s eye… Jesus leads with a strong love that says, “I love you whether you love me back or not.” He was committed to dying to show us that love, even if no one else would go with Him. There was no stopping Him.

Paul was not there to get his feet washed, but his feet were washed by those Jesus had touched and the example lived on in him. The love, the service, the sacrifice… it was all there present every time the people of God gathered to celebrate the One who brought them together and made them who they were, and it still brings us together and transforms us today.

Who sets an example for you to follow?

Who is following your example?


  1. (Mt 26:26–29; Mk 14:22–25; Lk 22:14–23)
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What the Lord sees

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What the Lord sees

1 Samuel 16:11-13

“Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.”

Samuel learned about the vision of God when Saul failed as King and Samuel was sent to find his successor David. To outward appearances, David was too young in age, and last in his family – so much so that when the prophet came to his home, looking for a young man to make king, David’s own father did not even consider him. Neither, by all accounts, did David argue that point. Instead of taking advantage of this opportunity to advance himself, David contented himself by tending the family sheep.

I think part of what made David a man after God’s own heart was that he chose dedication to his work over aspiration for position. If you follow David’s career, apart from a handful of mistakes and several major misdeeds, he dedicated himself to serving God and the people of Israel. He saw himself as their shepherd and sought to be a good one.

But it is also important to note that, like Jesus, David went through his trials and temptations as well. Although he was anointed as a young man to be king over Israel, he had to wait 20 years before taking the throne, and unlike many would-be kings in history, David waited with patience. I think he was able to because he saw each day as an opportunity to serve God, wherever he was, rather than as an opportunity to advance himself.

How important is position to you?

What can you do today to be a servant of the Lord?

When should I fight? Part 2

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If you are already past the point of anger and still dealing with conflict, then it is time to put away the fists and dial back the dialogue into the language of values. To be fair, this is, in part, an attempt to distance ourselves from the tension and objectify the problem – which is more possible in some cases than others. As an example of the absurdity that proves the rule, let us look at one of the most volatile places on the planet: the Little League Baseball Bleachers.

Can you imagine a parent standing up and shouting,

Coach, you need to put my son Derek in because building his confidence in playing sports is more important to me than whether the team wins or loses.”?

Or how about,

Come on Ref! Can’t you just give him that run? My kid is the only one on the team who hasn’t made it to home plate yet!”?

I doubt referees ever hear

That was a really tough call to make. Keep up the good work!”.

Why? Because although we don’t usually say the things above, we usually are thinking or feeling them at some level. We talk about the importance of fair play, but most of us have values that sometimes contradict and even overshadow fairness, justice, and our sense of right and wrong. We are not machines. Having other values does not have to be wrong. Where we get into trouble is when we have them by deny it to others and even to ourselves. This denial creates a tension and dissonance in ourselves similar to the feeling we might have in debate class if the teacher asked us to switch sides with our opponent and argue their case instead of our own. It’s hard and sometimes there is something inside us that wants us to lose, because the deeper truth is that, while we may believe the words we are saying, there are other words we are not saying that we believe even more. So, by not saying what is truly important to us, we are only sabotaging ourselves.

Of course, we may be keeping those values quiet because, although they represent our true desires, they are either socially unacceptable or something we are ashamed to say out loud. The letter from James in the New Testament has some powerful words to move from anger into speaking the truth to ourselves and to one another. He writes:

”What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:1–12

”Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

It is those hidden desires that get us into trouble every time. God knows they are there, and if we take the time to look, we will see them there as well. James tells us that we can find healing and forgiveness between one another if we are willing to confess the truth of what is really going on inside us. But, if we have not yet come to the true values and desires within us, we will not find that resolution… and if we are not yet at peace within ourselves, it is not yet time to fight.

All Hallows Eve

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I found my last bed

in the place of the first

lesser my heartbeat

greater my thirst

only my pain can realize

        the silent fear

        that lingers here

among a dozen wetted eyes

and hearts doubled over

to see yellow skin

my last fleshly covering

a sad soul within

whose mate in tears resides beside

        my rock and love

        my precious dove

in whom I hope my fate abides

yet she refers me

toward other things

with halos of light

and feathery wings

but I cannot see the light from here

        with eyes gone grey

        fading away

and filled with cold and bitter tears

for fear and regret

all these chains that I’ve earned

in those toiling days

whose dreams I burned

with tunnel vision and selfish pride

        my fate I chose

        the thorny rose

whose beauty at last has bled me dry

leaving naught but a shell

that cannot receive

a blessing that’s blocked

by anger and grief

but I may have one final gift

        my heart to give

        to one who lives

long after this soul passes through the rift

may he love her with care

for better, for worse

and learn from my death

lest he fall to the curse

that still lingers here within the air

        with brutal eyes

        on new love lies

and fixes them with unmerciful stare

so my final act

will not be a cry

for mercy or peace

I simply will die

an example to a foolish world

        to which I belong

        a son of its song

        its promises lies

        when everyone dies

but lives like their lives cannot be unfurled

so breathe like it matters

live without regret

and love while you live

and never forget.