Monday, December 7, 2009

One Another- Hospitality part five

Hey there! Today we wrap up the last of four characteristics that our hospitality-oriented "one another's" (greeting one another; washing one another's feet; waiting for one another) all demonstrate.

And of course, it all comes down to kickball.

Okay, maybe not just kickball. It could be just about any game/sport that happens between teams on a playground.

You know the drill. There can't be teams until we pick them. So let's do this old school, and imagine that we're all standing around waiting to be picked. Okay, here come the captains. They're looking out at all of us now, scanning the crowd. They decide who gets to go first, and that captain chooses...

So, how are you feeling? Excited? Impatient? Nauseous? Come on, we're just picking teams. What's the big deal?

Well, if your elementary experience was anything like mine, it was a very big deal. Getting picked in one of the first couple of spots meant one of two things: 1- you were very good at the game about to be played, or 2-you were good buddies with one of the captains. In grade school, either one of these was like the holy grail, because at that moment, you were important.

I'm sure glad that doesn't matter once you get older...

There's certainly nothing wrong with wanting to be good at something, nor is there anything wrong with being a good friend. And those things will sometimes create for us an elevated status; you may very well be recognized or identified for who you are in one of these areas. But understand that the pursuit of status for status' sake is the enemy of hospitality, because hospitality creates equality.

During the three years that Jesus had His public ministry, the inner circle of His followers—those we know as the apostles—had an ongoing squabble over who among them was the greatest. As we talked about in the "love one another" posts, it even showed up during His final meal with them. In the midst of this pettiness, it must have made quite an impact to see Jesus quietly get up, take off his outer cloak and get to work washing the road filth off the feet of the disciples. The lesson is clear: what right of superiority could we possibly claim after witnessing the Son of God take on the task the was to be performed by the lowest servant?

Authentic hospitality says, "I'm not better than you."

And it looks like this: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." -Galatians 3:28-29

In light of this common pattern, it is easy to see why Peter’s instruction ("Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling") is important for us to take to heart. It is impossible to sincerely communicate these four characteristics of hospitality if our attitude communicates something different. Luke chapter 7 contains a story that is probably the best possible example of this, and as we wind down, I’d like you to read it:

Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner."

Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.

"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"

Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." -Luke 7:36-47

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." -John 13:35

When we love much, freely offering hospitality to one another is natural. Because that kind of love comes from understanding that we have been forgiven MUCH. And no expense has been spared to purchase that forgiveness.

But the symbol for this kind of hospitality isn’t the pineapple.

It’s the cross.

In Him we live,


Saturday, December 5, 2009

One Another- Hospitality part four

Hi! Thanks for stopping in!

We've been talking about authentic hospitality this week, and I wanted to finish up today, but I think we need to let each of our four characteristics have their own post. So, if you can hang in there a little longer we'll cover them all!

The third characteristic that each of these actions (greeting one another; washing one another's feet; waiting for one another) demonstrates is affiliation. I got an up-close lesson in the all-around awesomeness of affiliation earlier this week.

Our family was driving back from meeting some friends for dinner on Wednesday, and my youngest daughter said, "I'd like to take a walk when we get home." My wife and my oldest daughter each had a couple of things they needed to get done, so it ended up being just the two of us heading back out into the wonderfully chilly evening. It was already dark, so the houses with Christmas lights were glowing like beacons on each street.

We stepped to the sidewalk and started on our way, when a remarkable thing happened. She reached out and grabbed my hand and held on for the entire walk. For those of you who don't know us well, I should mention that my youngest daughter is twelve. That's the age when you begin to walk a few steps ahead or behind your parents because, well, they're your parents. We wandered up and down several streets, stopped at a couple of houses with impressive displays, and talked about anything she wanted to talk about. There wasn't an agenda; we were just enjoying being together as family.

It was an amazing walk, and it reminded me how important affiliation is to the "one another-ness" of hospitality. Essentially her actions said, "I want to be associated with you," and that sentiment reminds me of Paul's words in Galatians 3:26-27 when he says, "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."

Authentic hospitality is wonderful in part because it gives us the opportunity to simply enjoy being God's family.

It's life together!

In Him we live,


Thursday, December 3, 2009

One Another- Hospitality part three

Hi there!

Another day out and about. I'm starting to feel pretty tired, but we're on a roll with hospitality, so let's keep it going!

The second characteristic that each of these actions (greeting one another; washing one another's feet; waiting for one another) communicates is commitment.

In the culture of the first century, greeting was a commitment. Unlike today, when you can shout a “how’s it going?” from across a room and then get back to what you’re doing, if you saw someone in the marketplace or in town as you were going about your day, the decision to greet them was going to involve both time and proximity. We’re talking about physically going to where that person is, just so you could embrace them and engage them.

That may be particularly troubling for us to think about, because our society is so very time-conscious. How many of us in the last couple of weeks were (at least) tempted to cut through a parking lot instead of waiting through a long line of traffic to turn right at a stoplight, because we knew it would save 3 minutes?

OR, over the last few weeks have you put something in the microwave, turned it on, and then found yourself standing there wishing it would hurry up? “Sheesh, four minutes to cook this? And now I’m supposed to let it stand for a minute? Bump that, I’ll risk the 3rd degree burns.”

In a world that seems to thrive more and more on busy-ness, authentic hospitality says "I have time for you," and it looks a lot like this:

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. -Matthew 25:35-36

Authentic hospitality can wreak havoc on your schedule and wreck a to-do list.

But that kind of commitment to one another trumps busy-ness.

See you tomorrow!

In Him we live,


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

One Another- Hospitality part two

Hey there! I've been out keyboard shopping most of the day for C3 (but we finally got one!)- I know this is late, but here we go:

If you tuned in Tuesday, we were asking
“Why greet one another?” “Why wash one another’s feet?” “Why wait for one another?” Interestingly enough (to me at least), each of these instructions demonstrate four common characteristics that teach us about hospitality.

The first characteristic that each of these actions communicates is priority. Authentic hospitality says "You're important to me," and it looks like this:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. -Romans 12:9-13

The best story I've ever heard that drives this idea home comes from the preacher and master story teller, Fred Craddock. Here's what he experienced, in his words:

I preached four nights in a church in Atlanta, a nice, big church with a good crowd, more than I'm used to. There was a moment in the service which the pastor said, "We'll now have our moments of fellowship. Greet each other in Christian love," and you never saw such hugging and carrying on in your life — people going across the room, and up and down the aisles, and grabbing and hugging. Somebody came up to me — I was down behind the pulpit — and gave me a big smack. It was just really something. Finally he said, "All right, hold it, hold it. We have to get on with the worship." Four nights of that.
The last night, he and his wife took me and my wife out to coffee. He said "Did you ever see such a family church? Did you ever see such love in your life in a church?"
My wife said, "Yeah, well, yeah, I have."
He said, "What do you mean?"
She said, "I was there for all four services, and nobody ever spoke to me."
And do you know what he said?
He said, "Well, that was because they didn't know who you were."

Wow. Reaching out to people we don't know (or don't know well) really can be difficult; it takes courage. But it seems to me that if we are only willing to say "you're important to me" to a select group, then it’s not really hospitality- it’s favoritism.

Most of us lead pretty demanding lives. Will you dare to make "one another" a priority?

I'll pick up the next one tomorrow- hope you'll join me!

In Him we live,


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

One Another- Hospitality part one


The dictionary tells us that this phrase is used to “indicate a reciprocal relationship or reciprocal actions…” ( on 10/07/09). In other words, it describes the “give and take” behaviors that go on between members of a particular group. For example, in order to get things ready for Sunday morning’s worship gathering, C3's set up team has to help one another.

There are several “one another” teachings in the New Testament. And they’re important because they’re all about community. And community is one of the BIG things that God wants His church to be about.

In the last two posts, we talked about Jesus’ command to “love one another, as I have loved you.” We started there because it’s really the foundational “one another” teaching. Everything else we talk about over the next few weeks will be practical expressions of loving each other the way Jesus first loved you and I. This week, we’re going to talk about showing hospitality to one another.

Did you know that throughout America’s history, the pineapple has served as the symbol of hospitality? At one time pineapples were often carved into the wood work of a home's entrance, dining room and even the headboard or posts of the bed in the room most likely used for guests. Seems kind of peculiar to me; I mean, have you ever handled a pineapple? It doesn’t really present itself as “welcoming.” The story behind the symbol goes all the way back to Christopher Columbus.

He and his men first experienced the fruit on the Caribbean island of Guadalupe and in 1493, Columbus brought the pineapple back to Europe. Because the pineapple was both popular and so difficult to grow there, it quickly became a coveted commodity.

As America was colonized, the pineapple retained its status. As a result, serving fresh pineapple symbolized the warmest welcome a hostess could extend to her guests, and suggested that no expense had been spared on their behalf. Adapted from 10/17/09

When we talk about hospitality today, we’re typically referring to a similar idea: ”The act or service of welcoming, receiving, hosting, or entertaining guests.”

The Greek word for this is philoxenia:

Philo- = love

-xenia = stranger/foreigner/traveller

It literally means ”love of strangers.”

"In the ancient Mediterranean, this term did not refer to something one extended to friends and family, but to outsiders due to need, networking, etc."(Palestine in the Time of Jesus by Hanson and Oakman.)

However, the apostle Peter opens it up to everyone with his instructions in 1 Peter 4:9 when he says, "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling."

There is really no instruction given here concerning method (the “how to”). Rather, the emphasis is on attitude.

However, there are several places in the New Testament where specific instructions fit under the umbrella of hospitality. Let’s take a look at them:

1. Romans 16:16, 1 Cor. 16:20, 2 Cor. 13:12 and 1 Peter 5:14 all contain the instruction to

“Greet one another with a kiss of love.” (NOTE: Don’t get hung up on the “kiss.” Though it may be a bit foreign to us, there are still many cultures in which a similar practice is the accepted norm. The focus however, is on “greet one another.”)

2. "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet." -John 13:14

3. "So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other."

-1Cor. 11:33

So, why place these under the umbrella of hospitality? To answer that question, we’re going to have to ask “why?” a few more times. Specifically: “Why greet one another?” “Why wash one another’s feet?” “Why wait for one another?” When we ask those questions, a pattern emerges that teaches us about hospitality.

I'm sure you've got plenty of blogs to read, er, important things to do today, so I'll pick up there tomorrow. Hope to see you!

In Him we live,


Friday, November 20, 2009

One another- Part Two

So, if you tuned in yesterday we were looking at the words of Jesus in John chapter 13, especially verse 34: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

The question is, what makes it new? Isn’t “love one another” a lot like “love your neighbor as yourself”? It is—until Jesus completes His thought with the words “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Hmmm. Okay, this is new then. Up to this point, what happens if you got into a situation where loving your neighbor somehow conflicted with loving yourself? That’s a bit gray and leaves you a sizable way out. But Jesus just clarified that His followers are to love one another the way He loves them. That’s actually “love your neighbor more than you love yourself. This is sacrificial love, and it takes things to a whole new level.

I think now is good time to call attention back to our word that inspired the naming of Maundy Thursday: the Latin word mandātum is where we derive our modern word, “mandate.” This was not “a new suggestion,” or “a new recommendation” from God’s Son. It’s a command; a mandate. “As my followers, you WILL love each other as I have loved you.”

So, why is this “one another” so important that it’s a command? Jesus tells us in the very next verse:

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." -John 13:35

Imagine being given tickets to see your favorite college team play. At home. In a decisive game. What colors are you going to wear to the game? Why?

Whether you graduated from that school or not isn't really the point. You proudly wear your team's colors because they are an identifying mark that helps tie you to the them. You might even say, “by this all men will know that you are an Aggie/Longhorn/Red Raider…” (Hey, when you write the post, you can choose the teams- now stay focused.)

In the midst of the tumultuous 1960’s, scholar Francis Schaeffer wrote an essay entitled, The Mark of a Christian. I’d like to share an excerpt in which he draws a comparison between the modern church and the church in the first century:

In the church at Antioch the Christians included Jews and Gentiles and reached all the way from Herod's foster brother to the slaves; and the naturally proud Greek Christian Gentiles of Macedonia showed a practical concern for the material needs of the Christian Jews in Jerusalem. The observable and practical love among true Christians that the world has a right to be able to observe in our day certainly should cut without reservation across such lines as language, nationalities, national frontiers, younger and older, colors of skin, levels of education and economics, accent, line of birth, the class system in any particular locality, dress, short or long hair among whites and African and non-African hairdos among blacks, the wearing of shoes and the non-wearing of shoes, cultural differentiations and the more traditional and less traditional forms of worship.

If the world does not see this, it will not believe that Christ was sent by the Father. People will not believe only on the basis of the proper answers. The two should not be placed in antithesis. The world must have the proper answers to their honest questions, but at the same time, there must be a oneness in love between all true Christians. This is what is needed if men are to know that Jesus was sent by the Father and that Christianity is true.” -Francis Schaeffer, The Mark of a Christian

You see, it’s a command because Christians don’t have any other uniform or identifying mark. There is no bracelet or t-shirt we can wear, no bumper sticker or fish we can put on our car, no sign that we can place in our front yard or radio station we can listen to at work that will clearly demonstrate that someone is a true Christ follower. There is only one new standard:

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Alright, don’t check out on me yet, because now we’re coming to the critical point where we have to ask, “HOW can we do this?” To love one another like Jesus loves us: completely; unselfishly; sacrificially; perfectly. Forget hard; this doesn’t even seem possible. And the short answer is- it’s not.

I don’t have what it takes; you don’t have what it takes. We can’t do it.

As a matter of fact, author and speaker Louie Giglio points out, “There’s only one guy who’s ever been able to pull it off. And He was so good at it they named it after Him (“Waking up to the Whole Gospel,” Louie Giglio).”

So what do we do- give up? Of course not! Jesus wouldn’t give us a command that was impossible to keep. “But you just said it wasn’t possible…”

Well, I said it wasn’t possible for us.

The One who lived a perfect Christian life died on a cross, rose again on the third day and is still alive. And His resurrection ushered in a new way.

God knew we couldn’t live the Christian life perfectly. So His new covenant allows Christ to do more than just work with us- He works in us. And He does so through the Holy Spirit:

"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. -John 14:15-17

He has to live in us. And that begins with surrendering to Christ as Savior.

If you’ve made that declaration already, but you don’t feel like the “love one another” thing has been very successful, could it be that you are trying to do it without Him? Surrender is an everyday decision for a Christ follower. This is the only way we can hope to love one another the way Jesus loves us.

It’s all about surrender.

In Him we live,


Thursday, November 19, 2009

One another- Part One

one: being or amounting to a single unit or individual or entire thing, item, or object rather than two or more; a single: one woman; one nation; one donut.

another: being one more or more of the same; further; additional: another donut.

one another: (pronoun) Used to indicate a reciprocal (or mutual) relationship or actions among the members of the set referred to by the antecedent… the teachers help one another. (Accessed from: on 10/10/09)

Putting those 2 words together makes all the difference. We can see this difference lived out in kids as they learn to play together. Sometimes children first exhibit something called “parallel play,” in which ONE child will play next to ANOTHER child, but not really interact with them. Once interaction begins, they discover that in order to play together, there has to be some give-and-take between them—which is not always easy! But when it happens, these beautiful itty-bitties get a taste of “one another.”

It’s clear that God wants all His kiddos to understand “one another” as well; there are over 50 times in the New Testament where either that phrase or its close neighbor “each other” is used to teach us something about community. For the next couple of posts, I'd like us to look at some of the most significant “one another’s” and let them teach us—the big kids—more about how to play together, not just next to each other.

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 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. (-John 13:1-5)

Foot washing was a common practice of this time. People wore sandals and walked dusty, dirty roads every day, so by the time of the evening meal, their feet were really messy. Since it was also common practice to recline at low tables while eating, the washing of feet before a meal just made sense.

You can imagine how unpleasant this task would have been. It’s no wonder the servant of the lowest stature was typically saddled with this responsibility. Some of the other gospels (Luke 22:24) share that the 12 had been “discussing” before the meal who among them was the greatest. Could it be that they were also trying to decide who was the lowest among them, and therefore the one who should take this indignity?

There’s no doubt that Jesus’ action created one king-sized moment of awkward silence.

Even after Peter breaks the silence, an awkward tension remains. Jesus proceeds to correct Peter, and share that they should do this for each other. He then says bluntly that one of them is going to betray Him. In the aftermath of this shock, Judas leaves without apparently raising any questions from the remaining disciples.

At this point, the tension lifts. But Jesus uses this moment to deliver a mammoth lesson, perhaps THE mammoth lesson on what it truly means to be His follower:

"My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (-John 13:33-34)

Love One Another.

This is the “one another” that will serve to direct all the others that are found in the New Testament. And if we unpack these verses a bit, we’ll see why it’s so important.

Working backwards from the resurrection, it seems that the last supper would have happened on what we call Thursday. In many traditional circles, the Thursday before Easter is referred to as Maundy Thursday. If you’ve ever wondered where it got its name, you’re answer can be found in the passage of Scripture we just read.

From Middle English maunde, from Old French mande, the word stems from the Latin mandātum (commandment).

Mandatum is the first word in the Latin translation of John 13:34, completed by the Latin word novum (new):

"A new command I give you: Love one another.”

A new command? What makes it new?

We'll save that for tomorrow. Hope to "see" you then!

In Him we live,


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Not dead yet...

I know. You can say it. I've been gone for a long time.

Let me just say that, although I love blogging, I'm kind in an ongoing wrestling match with it. But that's for another post...

Believe it or not, the title of this post was not meant to be a declaration that I'm still kicking. When I wrote it, I was really thinking about the local church. It seems that more and more I'm noticing this burgeoning conversation about the inevitable demise of what we call the "local congregation" over the next two or three decades in favor of a more personal and organic method of expressing one's faith. As a church planter, it's been interesting to read and hear about this prediction, because if it's true, I'm wasting my time.

But that's just it: I don't think I'm wasting my time at all. I love the church. I know that there are always flaws to remove and improvements to be made, but I don't think that means throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Brian Jones recently wrote a post about this very idea, and it was a great read. If you want to take a look at it, just click here.

Christ intended His church to share the Gospel with the world. " will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8b)."

Christ followers are bunch of imperfect individuals.

But we're better together.

In Him We Live,


Friday, April 17, 2009


The trip was long. Long enough to think; long enough to remember; and yet it could never truly be long enough. With each step, the man thought of the destination. As they followed the path, now moving upward, he was unsure of many things: why here? Why now? Why him? The answers to these questions were not promised, nor were they offered.  But despite the circumstances, he would be obedient; he would be faithful; he would trust the promise.

The place where they were going now came into view. It had been three days. The servants must stay with the animal. This final part of the journey will be taken only by himself and the boy. He tells them, “stay with the donkey while the boy and I go over there. We will worship, and then we will come back to you.” Yes, somehow, WE will come back. He would trust the promise.

Genesis 22:6-14

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham? Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

In Romans 12:1-2 Paul writes,

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

When Isaac got up from the altar, he literally became our first example of a living sacrifice. And just as Abraham had told his son, God Himself did provide the lamb, in the form of HIS only Son, whom He did not withhold when Jesus bled and died to literally take away the sins of the world.  The journey of this sacrifice was also three days. And on the third day, HE became the perfect, living sacrifice, rising from the dead, bearing in His body the scars of crucifixion, and becoming our high priest, and our advocate before the very throne of God!

There is a lot of talk today about what makes “good worship.” And we could spend a lot of time talking about music and teaching styles and lighting and sound and drama and the color of carpeting, but the single greatest contributor to great corporate worship is great PERSONAL WORSHIP.

Worship was never intended to be limited to an event. Worship is meant to be the very lives we lead, and events like those that happen on Sunday mornings at church buildings are intended to be born out of the overflow of the rest of our lives! If you are relying on a worship gathering to fuel the rest of your week, you will always run dry, because this was never meant to be your primary expression of worship. 

Give Him your "everyday," and see what happens!

In Him We Live,