Dirty Diapers

Most of us wouldn’t want someone to have to change our diaper. And yes, most of us right now don’t have to wear diapers anyways — but you did — and you may again some day.

I use this example to illustrate the point of John 13:1-18 in a more relatable context given today’s culture. In Jesus’ day, their feet were filthy and nasty. They didn’t wear a new pair of freshly scented and fabric softened socks everyday, safely covered by shoes, and they didn’t live and work in environmentally controlled and meticulously cleaned buildings, and they didn’t travel in vehicles. They were outside, in open sandals, walking where the animals walked and defecated, working in the open environment. Feet were nasty, like a dirty diaper would be today.

Years ago, I wrote a post entitled “It’s time to stop pooping our pants” and it came to mind as we discussed our morning devotional about John 13.

Instead of talking as a family about washing feet (which is really not a big deal in our society today because of how relatively clean feet are these days) — we talked about the fact that some adults have to wear diapers — and that changing someone’s dirty diaper would be more in line with what Jesus did when He washed the disciples’ feet.

And we talked about how sin is like a dirty, stinky, filthy diaper spiritually — and

1) how sinfulness in our own lives will influence and stink up the spiritual lives of those around us if not repented, confessed and forgiven

2) how we need to come to Jesus to be washed clean from our sin

3) how we need to be like Peter after he was told the purpose having our stinky mess uncovered and revealed in front of others (public, verbal confession of our sin, struggles, shortcomings)

4) how we need to be imitators of Jesus that we would help meet the physical needs of others as a servant (even as far as lovingly changing their diapers as a caregiver if it comes to that) and more importantly, willing to hear others’ struggles and be willing to forgive them, remind them that they are washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb, and to intercede with prayer for them, encourage them, and serve them spiritually as well

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:1‭-‬20 NLT

As we become caregivers for our elderly , and as we are already spiritual caregivers for those we counsel, shepherd, sharpen, encourage, and equip for the ministry — let’s not forget that our example is to get our hands dirty doing the real work of the ministry that is dealing with things most of us would buy nature rather be left hidden and not dealt with — but if we are only superficially religious, we are walking around with untended, stinky diapers spiritually, that need to be washed clean.

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT

Are we ready for the mess?

Are we willing to have our mess, our weakness, be surrendered publicly in front of others so that God can get the glory for washing us clean?

Are we afraid of letting others “know our business” and possibly “gossip about us” if we were to confess to others — can we be honest with ourselves and with them about our lack of trust?

Are we willing and ready to forgive, to wash clean, to do the “work” of an imitator of Christ and get in the mess with someone else?

Lord, it is only by the power of your Holy Spirit, by the power of Christ who lives in the heart of the believer, that we can do these things that will be hard, challenging, and will stretch us beyond our being comfortable. But you bid us step out of the boat and into the water, even in the midst of the waves — you bid us to take up our cross and bear it — you bid us come and die to self and be imitators of you. Reveal yourself to us, through us, and in us. Amen.

Monday-Thursday? No, Maundy Thursday.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.”  And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”  And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves.  For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.  But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table.  For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”
Luke 22:7-8, 14-22 ESV

During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 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. 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. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”  For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are 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.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.  I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’  I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
John 13:2-20 ESV

Today,  we remember Maundy Thursday. The word Maundy likely comes from the Latin mendicare, Old French mendier, and English maund, which means “to beg” (verb) or a “small basket” (noun) held out by maunders (beggars) as they maunded (begged). It reminds us that we are to be servants at the feet of our fellow man, putting the needs of others above our own selfish wants, humbling ourselves before God, treating others as more important than ourselves.

When sharing the Good News with the lost who do not know Him, many times I am taking the stance of beggar, pleading in my heart that they will please take this bread of the Word of God, the example and testimony of His life, and please take this blood of His sacrifice poured out as the costly, necessary payment for our sin so that we can be restored to have a relationship with righteous and holy God. My hope is that they will hear the truth in their hearts and accept it, and receive it, and believe that Christ died on that cross and was raised to life for them.

Today, I am at your feet, dear child, precious friend, beloved creation of Almighty God. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and the Lord knows the plans that He has for you, for good and not for evil, for love and life abundantly. When I am physically at your feet as a living servant,  at that same moment, I am spiritually at the feet of my Savior, Jesus Christ, in grattitude as I am annointing His feet with my grattitude through my service to you. Because He tells me that when I serve you, I am serving Him.

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:37-40 ESV

And my service,  when offered with that right heart – not out of obligation, not out of religious practice, not out of seeking rewards or exhibition, but out of gratitude for the prize He has already offered me – it is a pleasing aroma of my bringing praise and glory to His name. My life following His example is the living sacrifice that I offer my Lord, out of gratitude for the grace and forgiveness that He has offered me freely – gratitude for the undeserved mercy that He has shown me because I believe and have faith in His promises and His faithfulness.

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial.  For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
John 12:1-8 ESV

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”   “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred  denarii, and the other fifty.  When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”  Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”  Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.  Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”  And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Luke 7:36-48 ESV

I do not bring offerings of my own good works to the feet of Christ because I think that they are valuable or worthy to Him – or because I think that they might buy me something in heaven (He tells me that my greatest works are like filthy rags). No, I bring the dust of my life,  these worthless rags of my works, the foolishness of my preaching,  to the altar because even though I know nothing I can offer is blameless or perfect enough for Him,  it is no longer about satisfying a payment due,  it is about testifying about the price already paid.

You see, I am bought with a price that I couldn’t pay – so any of my service and love poured out onto others isn’t because I’m trying to pay what is due, it’s because His payment in love for life is so overwhelming that my cup runneth over,  and I must pour out this love in service to you friend. I’ve tried being quiet. I’ve tried being still,  but this fire in my bones won’t allow it. Because I know how amazing it would be for this fire to catch hold of those still lost in the dark like I was,  because I know how hungry and thirsty I was before I found the only thing that satisfies eternally in Jesus Christ,  my Lord and Savior.

Whose feet are you called to wash today with forgiveness, with love, with encouragement, with help,  with selfless sacrifice of your wants so that their needs are fulfilled?

There are plenty of opportunities, Christian, for you to stoke the flames of that Holy Spirit fire in you through loving service to others. There are plenty of opportunities,  Christian, for you to awake, arise, and follow in the footsteps of Christ. There are plenty of opportunities,  Christian, for the world to see Christ’s love poured out today as you serving them humbly at their feet.

Please,  Lord,  soften our hardened hearts before we find ourselves so separated from you that we begin to wonder whether or not there is even a glimmer left of that flame. Please, Lord, quicken us in your Holy Spirit so that others might see past our imperfections, past our faults, to catch a glimpse of Christ at their feet – so we realize we can come to you from exactly where we are – so that we can know that you are close and not on some far away mountain – so that we can experience the love and the life change that comes from grateful obedience and service that delivers us from either empty religious compliance or outright rebellion. Lord, lead us in your ways, help us to seize the opportunity of seeing your Kingdom come in our lives today, as your will is done. Forgive us for our many imperfections as we fall short of your perfection, reminding us that we are pressing forward towards that upward call. Teach us to love you, Lord. Draw us into your presence. Change us to be more like the loving,  humble,  faithful servant we strive to know in our lives. Amen.

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I have dealt with depression in my life.  It is in depression that I feel like it is me against the world – or probably more accurately,  I feel like the world is against me. It used to affect my ability to hold down a job or live a “normal” life. But now I realize that my depression stemmed from vanity and self, from separating myself from others and from God’s love and mercy and forgiveness – and it was aggravated further by my self medicating with the escapes of alcohol,  drugs, sex, etc.

Depression is a twisting of the truth by that spiritual enemy. And during the dark wandering years of my twenties, depression led to all kinds of things, including attempted suicide, drugs,  and criminal activity. But the Lord had work in store for me,  and he is now using even the dark world that my youth took me into,  and He is turning all of that to a good purpose.

You see, now I get to go each week and spend time with young men in jail and share the gospel with them and study together with them, and at times provide personal counselling. And even though my life is quite removed from their world at this season of my life,  we have walked similar paths. Before, I was walking purely for self,  now I am working for God’s purpose,  for His Kingdom work to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Now,  I’m looking for more workers,  wherever they can be found – in the workplace, on the Internet, in the streets, in the churches, in the jail cells, in the hospitals, in the bars,  restaurants,  or wherever I go. And I just don’t have time to stay depressed anymore,  there is too much work at hand.

These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.
Luke 10:2 NLT

The fields are everywhere we walk,  friends. And our job is not to burn down the fields trying to set fire to the weeds, it is to share the Love of Christ with others,  so that we will find unity with other believers in truth,  and so that we will walk together in repentance holding each other accountable to this goal of Christ’s righteousness lived out as a testimony of His touch upon our lives.

It isn’t so that I can LOOK humble or righteous to others in order to be recognized or honored – but so that they can see Christ in me and so that they can see His righteousness IS a part of me and that He deserves the honor and praise and glory. Because the bright shining appearance of “perfection” doesn’t draw sinners to the light, it can actually push others away when they feel that they are “not worthy” of coming into our fellowship. But the verbal testimony of our own imperfections, and how Christ has and is touching our lives – that coupled with the clear and evident testimony of our actions demonstrating a life changed and dedicated to working for the Lord – that is the full testimony of a humble and faithful servant that can do great c work for the Lord.

And it only takes two things –
1) acknowledging that you fall short of the glory of God and that you needed Jesus Christ as your Savior, as your example of the truth,  the life, and the way, to bring you into humble fellowship with God’s will and purpose for your life today
2) dedicating yourself to the purpose of walking it out,  following in His footsteps,  sharing the truth,  the life,  and the way with others in a born again,  renewed life serving as a faithful citizen of God’s Kingdom of workers/servants/witnesses

But let’s not stop there in case we might still fall into an us against the world mentality. Let’s pray the prayer of a righteous man,  of a repentant person who is resisting evil, avoiding temptation,  and not participating in sin. Let’s pray the prayer of a humble Child of God who needs His Father’s guidance and power and authority and assistance to see the day’s tasks accomplished. And let’s use this prayer to ask for more workers,  more laborers in the Lord’s work today – because we aren’t meant to go at this life alone.

And the very workers we are praying for are the very citizens of the Kingdom that we need to realize to find unity. And they are the very souls that we need around us to experience the beauty of fellowship. So let’s ask the Lord to rain down laborers upon us within this earthly life, drawing more near with his soft,  still call to the work at hand – and let’s realize that we are the ones sent to deliver His message and His loving touch.

I send you forth as sheep amongst the wolves, you workers of God,  you Children of the one true God,  you saints in the royal priesthood of our Lord – make disciples of the nations,  baptize in His name,  and bring honor and glory to His name by the love and service and example that your life offers as a living testimony today.

Live like Christ if you love my Christ.

If you do not yet Love my Christ,  I pray you will find Him through conviction and surrender,  because the workers are few and the harvest is great.

If you do not yet serve my Christ daily,  I pray that you examine yourself and that you will find Him through conviction and surrender,  because the workers are few and the harvest is great.

Your work is needed today,  friends. There are lost. There are hurting. There are hungry. There are needy. There is oppression. There is injustice. Be the body of Christ that fills the need and that resists the enemy and that lives and serves your fellow man.

Don’t just LOOK like a Christian,
Don’t just SOUND like a Christian,
BE like Christ.