Set Apart

Royal Gold CrownI sometimes think it’s crazy to think of being born into royalty. For example the British Royals didn’t do anything to become the reigning family in England. Their ancestors certainly did something years ago to put their family in leadership. But ever since February 1952 Queen Elizabeth II has been the reigning monarch in England. Her son Charles is the heir and then after him, his son. They did nothing to earn this title or position; they inherited it.

When God was giving structure to the Israelite nation, He begins by counting the people and giving them instructions regarding where their family is to camp. He takes one of the sons of Israel and sets him and his descendants apart to serve the Lord. Moses and Aaron were direct descendants of Levi. So the Lord takes the family of Levi and directs them to be the spiritual leaders of the entire nation. The kids born into Levite family automatically became part of the leadership lineage. Levi had 3 sons and each family was given a spot to camp near the tabernacle. They covered the north, south and west. Moses and Aaron and their family have a special place. Check this out…

38 Moses and Aaron and his sons were to camp to the east of the tabernacle, towards the sunrise, in front of the tent of meeting. They were responsible for the care of the sanctuary on behalf of the Israelites. Anyone else who approached the sanctuary was to be put to death. (Numbers 3:38 NIV)

The Lord uses a leadership structure throughout scripture. In the Old Testament, He uses Moses and Aaron to set up the priesthood. They and their family –the Levites, were in charge of the spiritual leadership of the entire nation. The tabernacle was to be a sacred place of worship – a place where God would dwell among them. The Levite family was responsible for handling the set up and tear down of the tabernacle everywhere they went. Their family was set apart to serve the Lord for generations to come.

A Crown Of ThornsFast-forward to the New Testament and the Lord is still using a leadership structure. Jesus chose 12 men to invest in and train. These men became the formative leaders of the church. It was not a group of men that I would have chosen because they were regular ordinary people. Some were fishermen, there was a tax collector among them and not much is known about the others occupations. Jesus saw something in them and He used them to usher in a different type of leadership – servant leadership. He told them that the secret to greatness is serving. I believe that Christ followers should all be servant leaders. It’s not a position to be held, but a ministry to do. Serving should permeate the heart of Christ followers. Our serving spirit comes from the deep love and devotion we have to the One Who loved us first and taught us to serve by example. I believe that all Christ followers are set-apart to serve other through love and relationship. It’s our calling – our DNA. I’m actually part of a royal calling because of my position in Christ. I didn’t earn this position – He earned it for me and bestowed it on me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Unselfish

 

Man holding microphoneIt’s really hard to be unselfish. I want what I want when I want it. I do want the biggest piece of cake or the best looking donut. If given the first choice, I will sometimes choose what is best for me without thinking of the other person. I will probably battle selfishness until I die. The Lord has been trying to “rewire” my selfish brain for years and there are actually times that I do honor Him, but putting others first. I do think I’m getting a lot better at it as life rolls on and He keeps shaping and molding my heart.

Abram and Lot were growing wealthy in cattle, silver, gold and servants. They each had quite an empire and the land wouldn’t support both huge family clans. Some issues arose among their respective herdsmen. Abram came up with a plan to separate. He let Lot choose first. Check this out….

8 So Abram said to Lot, ‘Let’s not have any quarrelling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are close relatives. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.’

10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan towards Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out towards the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord. (Genesis 13:8-13 NIV)

I heard a great quote once and I’m not sure where the origin is, but it went like this: “Yes the grass may be greener on the other side of the fence, but it’s because there’s a septic tank underneath”. I think Lot chose what looked to be the nicest pasture for himself and it actually ends up backfiring on him. Abram’s spirit impresses me. He’s not only raising his nephew, he gives him first dibs on the land. I see Abram as a very unselfish person. The Lord then gives Abram a promise – that as far as he can see in all directions, the Lord will one day give this land to Abram’s offspring. I love Abram’s relationship with the Lord because He’s always worshipping God. I believe the source of Abram’s unselfish spirit comes from his close walk with the Lord. The Lord can take a selfish heart like mine and convert it to a selfless heart like His.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Feet

Shocked man holding smelling shoeI am not a fan of feet. I’m thankful that I have feet. But I’ve never thought that feet were pretty. They are definitely functional to get me where I need to go. My feet go places and step into things that are pretty disgusting. They stay stuffed away in my shoes all day or if I wear sandals, they get pretty dusty and dirty too.  One of my kids had stinking feet all the time. They weren’t allowed to take their shoes off when traveling in the car! J  I’m thankful for Podiatrist to help keep my feet working properly if I need them.

In Jesus’ day, everyone wore sandals or went barefoot. Their feet were pretty dirty at the end of the day. Before they would eat, they would wash their hands and feet because without chairs at the table, they might be next to someone else’s nasty feet. (ewe!) Check this out…

1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.(John 13:1-5; 12-17 NIV)

Jesus taught a very powerful lesson by example. He washed the feet of all His followers – even the one who was about to betray Him. He established that His followers were servants and would be wise to follow His example. I believe this to be one of the big turning points with His disciples. They began to understand after His death and resurrection what all of this meant. How could they forget Him washing their feet.

I had someone wash my feet when I was a student pastor and it was a humbling experience, both for the young man washing my feet and for me. I believe Jesus wants me to serve with humility and kindness. I believe that He wants me to love like He loves and to serve like He served. Love is more than words – it’s sometimes washing nasty, stinking feet.

Pressing On!
Dwayne

The Greatest

greatest muhammad aliI remember as a kid hearing Muhammad Ali claim that he was the greatest. He certainly did not lack in self-confidence. He was an extraordinary heavy weight boxer who became quite successful psyching his opponent out before the fight ever began. He may have been the original inventor of “smack talk”. He was also a really good boxer who trained well and he often backed up his talk. I always felt he went to far when he declared one day “I am the greatest”. He didn’t really qualify that he was the greatest boxer, although he probably did fit that description. He beat more champion boxers than any other person before or since. He is recognized as one of the best-known athletes of the past century. He is not the greatest although he may have been the greatest boxer I’ve ever witnessed.  Jesus speaks pretty clearly about humility and greatness according to a different set of guidelines. Check this out…

11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12 NIV)

Serving is the highest position available in Christianity. It’s not about titles and victories or about being better than someone else. Jesus said the greatest will be your servant.  This is exactly opposite of what our culture in the USA teaches overtly and covertly. In fact in the church sometimes, we get this concept really screwed up. Everyone in the Kingdom of God is a servant and those who set themselves to be the “head servants” are still simply servants.  Those who set themselves up in higher positions are setting themselves up to be brought down and humbled. The second part of this teaching is that while the greatest is the servant, the servant humbles himself rather than being humbled by the King.  God loves humble servants who know their place in the Kingdom. That is the very person He likes to show off to others. I think it’s important to note that I will be humbled one way or another. If I humble myself it’s probably a lot less painful or embarrassing than if someone else does it.  I just want to be a simple servant in the Kingdom. I’m already a HUGE RECIEPIENT of Grace and Mercy from the Lord. I’m so grateful for that and willing to serve where and when He calls me.

Pressing On!
Dwayne