You Wash My Feet, I’ll Wash Yours!

I was baptized in a Methodist Church, belonged to a Lutheran Church for many years where my son was baptized, went back to the Methodist Church for awhile, before attending a Non-denominational Christian Church. And not once did I ever have my feet washed! But, there are many Christian churches who practice this ritual – and many who don’t.

Christ Washing the Feet of His Disciples
Christ Washing the Feet of His Disciples

While pondering this matter over coffee this morning I contemplated whether or not I had missed out on an important part of being a Christian. As it turns out, it is Biblical and is found in the Gospel of John. “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” John 13:14-15. The churches who practice foot washing call it “the ordinance of humility” and is commanded by Jesus during His Last Supper.

As you can see, Jesus gives a clear command – since he had washed their feet, they should likewise, go out and wash others. Now, if it’s so clear, why are so many Christian’s feet not getting washed?

With a careful reading of the Gospels, all four of them, you will notice that foot washing is found in only one gospel – John. The first three Gospel writers either forgot about it, didn’t know about it, or didn’t think it worthy enough to mention. Another thing I should mention is that the foot-washing Gospel never talks about the Lord’s Supper. How interesting! Really! Get out your Bible and read.

So, it appears that the Christians who combine the foot washing with the Lord’s Supper as their Communion service, is combining the writings of two different authors, with two different thoughts, speaking to different audiences, in different time periods. It’s not the first time, though.

Whether we believe that foot washing was a part of the Lord’s Supper or not is not the point I’m trying to make – although a good one. The point is that Christians seem to ignore many commands and teachings of Jesus. When Jesus says to wash feet, shouldn’t we, as good Christians, wash each other’s feet? And when He says that we should love our gay neighbor and our enemies, should we not follow His commands? Wouldn’t it be easier to follow all of His commands and quit picking and choosing which ones we “should” follow? It’s all in writing! And inspired by God himself!

“Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.” John 14:23

Time for another cup, please!

Rainbow Bible

I’m sitting here at Starbucks waiting for my bother to show up. Great coffee this morning! I got to thinking about the various versions/translations of Bibles out there on the market today. There must be at least a million.

What’s your favorite Bible version? Which one do you read the most? I studied the NIV the most in church and have a study version that’s all marked up. I’ve acquired several versions over the years of research and consider the NRSV the most accurate, and you’ll probably disagree with me. That’s okay, though. I’ve never studied ancient Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic, so what do I know?

rainbow bible

There is one type of Bible that I would like to see on the market. I would like to see a Bible with highlighted passages in one color for verses that no longer apply to Christians and another color for those that are to be taken seriously. I get so confused sometimes. I’ll read a passage and someone will correct me and say something like, “Oh, that passage no longer applies to Christians…” or “you’re taking that out of context…” or just a number of things that I don’t quite understand. Everyone seems to understand particular passages that I don’t.

So, a Bible that had all this stuff highlighted would be great. For instance, Leviticus 18:22 could be highlighted in yellow, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” And then for the more severe ones highlighted in red – something like Leviticus 20:9, “For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.”

You see how easy it would be to read through your Bible and skip over the ones that no longer apply and pay more attention to those that are important? Other colors could be for other types of passages like: NT passages that negate OT laws; passages that explicitly state the doctrines of Christianity such as the Trinity, Baby Baptism, One-man/One-woman Marriage, the Rapture, and so on. We would have a rainbow of highlighted areas – maybe call it the Rainbow Bible. Wait, is that name already taken.

Time for another cup. Where’s my brother, anyway?

Super Apostles!

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15

It’s coffee time! I wonder if the apostles ever sat around the fire on a cold morning craving their coffee as I do? Just a thought. Here’s a question for you that’s been bugging me for quite some time. What would you do if Jesus gave you the same powers that he gave to his apostles? Would you heal the sick or cast out any demons (Mark 6:7), maybe cleanse those infected with the ebola virus or help a psychotic neighbor – or two? Would you resurrect any deceased people that you know – maybe a family member that died at a young age or your favorite aunt? Would you forgive anyone’s sin (John 20:23)? Most of all, wouldn’t you immediately believe in Jesus?


Peter was so good at healing others that people were healed by just being in his shadow (Acts 5:15). But on the other hand he could make someone lose their life without blinking an eye (Acts 5:5). The apostles must have gotten a little arrogant with their powers which caused Paul to sarcastically call them the “super-apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:5).

I once asked a Southern Baptist pastor why I had such a hard time understanding the Bible. He quickly insisted that I was not saved or that my faith wasn’t apparent. “No one can understand the Bible until they have faith,” he exclaimed. Now wouldn’t that have been great if Jesus gave the apostles the power to make the Jews understand that Jesus was truly God? That would have been miraculous!

And with all these powers given to them, some of the apostles still weren’t sure. So, what would it take for you to be a believer? I’m pretty sure that if Jesus gave me super powers, I would be a believer. Up, up and away!  Time for another cup!

To Flee or Not To Flee

The Lord will give you understanding.” 2 Timothy 2:7

Had a quick Starbucks in the Nashville airport before leaving on a jet plane to California. I’ve found that the crampiness of flying is not conducive to writing. Kind of makes me think of how the apostles must have felt when Jesus was crucified on the cross. I know… it must be my wild imagination for me to think that there’s any connection between being cramped and being crucified.

Something I’ve always pondered, though – what were the apostles thinking when they heard that Jesus was about to be hung on the cross? Did they hang around (no pun intended) to see what was in store for them? Or did they flee to another place to get away from the authorities? They must have been frightened for their lives, don’t you think? If I were in their shoes, or sandals, and seeing how my savior was treated and killed, I would certainly be scared out of my mind. We all know how Judas turned on Jesus and ratted him out. And what about Peter? He denied him thrice before the cock crowed.

So, what did the followers of Jesus do and where did they go? Did they think they would ever see Jesus again? Let’s see what the writers of the Gospels and Acts has to say.

The Gospel of Mark has no resurrection narrative (in the authentic writings). Mark does, however, have a message from a divine character of a promise of a resurrection. The divine messenger told the women at the tomb to tell the disciples to flee to Galilee where they will see Jesus again (Mark 16:7). Matthew’s Gospel confirms the appearance to the disciples in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20). Makes complete sense to me. I wouldn’t hang around the Jerusalem area where the “King of the Jews” was just tortured and killed on a cross.

But wait a minute. In the last chapter of Luke’s Gospel (24:49) and the first chapter of the book of Acts (1:8) – same writer, by the way – Jesus tells the disciples to stay in Jerusalem to wait for his return. So, they did stay after all? Who am I to believe?

Goes to show you how stories change over time. Mark was written about 40-50 years after Jesus died and Acts was written in the beginning of the second century, about 80-100 years after Jesus’ death. I can’t remember what I did even 10 years ago and I’m bound to tell stories where the fish I caught was much larger than my mother says it really was. The truth is always an illusion. I doubt that we will ever know how this religion we call Christianity came about. It certainly wasn’t the same in the early decades after Jesus died. But then again, who am I to say?

I’d say it’s time for another cup but airplane coffee is not for me. For now, I’ll just sit here patiently and fantasize about having another cup of dark roast.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path to my coffeehouse.” Kaffeina 119:105

I Cannot Tell A Lie!

The reason I talk to myself is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept.” – George Carlin

Ahhh, I wonder if the apostle Paul had the luxury of a dark roast coffee every morning. I am certainly spoiled. Speaking of Paul, here’s something you might find interesting.

The book of Acts is written by someone who writes about Paul, either as an eyewitness or from stories heard over the camp fire. Who knows for sure? On the other hand, Paul writes directly about himself in his 13 epistles (letters). I love comparing the stories to see if there are any differences in who said or did what. You may be saying to yourself, “Are there really differences in their stories?” I wouldn’t be writing this if there weren’t. Let’s look at one.

You all know the story about Paul’s conversion from a persecutor of the new “movement” to the biggest advocate and evangelist for Christ. Directly after his conversion, did Paul go straight to Jerusalem to consult with the apostles before him?

To answer this question, I will be looking at what Luke says that Paul did in Acts 9:19-30 compared to what Paul says he did in Galatians 1:17-20. Feel free to blow the dust off your Bible and follow along.

In Acts, after several days in Damascus, Paul goes to Jerusalem and meets with the apostles, stays with them, and moves about freely in Jerusalem. It must have felt great being part of the team, high-fivin’ and telling stories about Jesus.

In Galatians, though, Paul explicitly says that he did not go to Jerusalem but went to Arabia instead and later returned to Damascus. After three years he then goes to Jerusalem and stays with Cephas but did not see the other apostles. He finishes by saying, “I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.”

So, who would you believe? My money’s on Paul! If I wanted everyone to believe that my revelation came directly from Jesus and that I did not learn any of these teachings from the other apostles, then I would definitely want you to believe that I did not meet with and confer with Jesus’ right-hand men. Go get ’em Paul!

It’s not for me to say who’s right. I do know one thing, though – time for another cup.

A River Runs Through It

How does anyone live without coffee?  My Christian friend and I were talking about the sacrament of Baptism so I thought I would talk about it this morning.

Baptism has always been a mystery to me.  And once again, baptism is one of those things that Christian sects just can’t seem to get a handle on.  Should we baptize babies or is it for believers only?  Does sprinkling work or is immersion the only way?  Is baptism just symbolic or does it actually save us?  These are just a few of the questions that separate Christians and yet many apologists still claim that the Bible is clear about baptism.  Here’s a quote from one Christian apologist:

“In the case of baptism and salvation, the Bible is clear that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by works of any kind, including baptism (Ephesians 2:8-9).  So, any interpretation which comes to the conclusion that baptism, or any other act, is necessary for salvation is a faulty interpretation.”

And here’s another view from a different Christian apologist:

“Believing and being baptized to be saved, as Mark 16:16 says, does not nullify the grace of God, but it activates it…  Baptism is a very serious matter.  According to the Bible, baptism is for the purpose of salvation.”

These are just two examples out of a multitude of ideas about baptism.  You’ll notice that each author is basing their interpretation from one passage of Scripture.  By choosing which scripture is true, aren’t you saying that the other parts of the Bible are not correct?  Or are you saying that man has not interpreted Scripture correctly – and who’s interpretation is correct?

I believe that it is man’s nature to try and figure out how everything works.  But when it comes to God, who is an omni-God, can we really say why, when or who about anything He says or does?  Life is a mystery.  Nature is a beautiful mystery.  Love is an exciting mystery.  Can we not let it be – just a mystery?

I think that I will immerse myself in another cup, please.

A Pair of Sevens?

There’s nothing like a great cup of coffee to start out a Sunday morning. For some odd reason I started thinking about the Flood and Noah’s Ark so I decided to read the story again. I thought that I knew the story well until I read it again – critically.

If you want to follow along open your Bible to Genesis, chapter six is where it starts. Let’s get right into the heart of the story – why God decided to wipe out all mankind including the animals and plant life – every living thing on the earth.


Genesis 6:5-7 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”

Genesis 6:9-17 God selected Noah because he was the only righteous person alive. He tells Noah to build this huge ark (boat) and that He will allow him to take his wife aboard along with his three sons and their wives. Then He’s going to flood the earth to kill off everything and start over.

Genesis 6:19-21 God tells Noah to bring two of all living creatures, male and female aboard. Oh, and don’t forget to bring enough food for the humans as well as the animals. I was curious so I looked up how much meat a lion could eat. In a day’s time a lion eats about 11-15 pounds of fresh meat. Using 11 pounds times 370 days 4,070 pounds or 8,140 pounds of meat for the pair. Wow! And that’s just for a pair of lions. I wonder how they kept all that meat from spoiling? Oh well.

Genesis 7:2 Uh, oh. God changed His mind. Now he wants seven of every kind of “clean” animal and a pair of every unclean animal. That’s going to increase the food load! I’m confused again. God didn’t discuss clean and unclean foods until later on in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 but, never mind. As long as Noah what He meant.

Genesis 7:4 God tells Noah that it will rain for 40 days and 40 nights starting in seven days. The writer indicates that Noah was 600 years old at the beginning of this voyage and that it started on February 17th.

Genesis 7:14-24 I think Noah didn’t listen very well because these verses indicate that he only brought aboard “pairs” of all creatures. Or maybe Noah didn’t know the difference between clean and unclean animals. I read it over and over again and there’s no indication that he brought seven of each clean animal. Anyway, the ark was loaded up and God shut them in and the flood waters started – and lasted 150 days, not to be confused with the original 40 days. I’m easily confused.

Genesis 8:3 At the end of 150 days on July 7th the water had gone down and the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat. By October 1st, the tops of the mountains become visible.

Genesis 8:6 The story gets a bit confusing here because the writer jumps back in time. He says that after 40 days Noah opens the window to send out a raven. I can’t imagine the stench from animal feces on the ark if there was only one window. But that was per God’s instructions.

Genesis 8:11 Noah sends out a dove and it returns with an olive branch. That strikes me as odd because God wiped out all living things on the earth. Where in the world would the dove get an olive branch? Did the flood not work?

Genesis 8:13-21 The voyage ends. The land is dried up. Noah is now 601 years old and the date is February 27th. They had been on the ark for 1 year and 10 days. God told Noah to come out with the animals. Noah built an alter and sacrificed burnt offerings of the clean animals to God. And God loved the “pleasing aroma” of the burning flesh. Wait a minute. If Noah only loaded the ark with “pairs” of clean animals, he’s in big trouble. Maybe God just created more.

I can’t imagine the look on Noah’s face when they got off the ark. No trees, no grasslands, no plants or animals to eat. Just one big sterile environment. I don’t recall God telling Noah to take some plants on the ark with them – but I’ll double-check. I can’t imagine an earth with no living thing on it. But then again, it’s one of those strange mysteries that God’s good at. What a sense of humor He has. Ha!

More coffee!

The Greater Commission

Coffee! Coffee! Coffee! Anyone for Coffee?

This morning I flipped open my thick NIV Study Bible and guess where I landed? I landed right in the last part of the Gospel of Matthew where I had highlighted a few verses and in the margin next to it was labeled “The Great Commission.” So, I got to wondering…

When Jesus came back from the dead, He gathered the eleven apostles in Galilee and gave them a firm directive on what He expected from them after He ascends to the clouds. These instructions became known as The Great Commission – the most quoted comes from Matthew 28:18-20

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus teaching

What I get out of this is that Jesus wanted His Eleven to make disciples of everyone, to baptize (a Trinitarian baptism) them, and then indoctrinate them in all His teachings. That sounds like a heavy load for these illiterate, Jewish laborers from a small community who Jesus rebuked many times for not understanding.

Did you know that The Great Commission is also found in the other three Gospels and also in the beginning of Acts? One slight problem though – they’re all different. But, I have an idea. Let’s combine the five commissions to figure out what Jesus really said. Isn’t that how we get the real birth story? We harmonize the two birth stories of Jesus from Matthew and Luke to come up with our own version of the birth story that we tell every Christmas. Anyway, here’s what the entire Commission might sound like…

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations and preach the good news to all creation. Preach also repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations. You have the authority to forgive sins as well as not forgiving sins. Whoever is not forgiven will not be forgiven. Whoever believes and is baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit will be saved. As a sign of their belief in me they will be able to drive out demons, speak in tongues, pick up snakes with their hands, drink deadly poison – and it will not hurt them. Whoever does not believe will be condemned. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:14–18, Luke 24:44–49, Acts 1:4–8, and John 20:19–23.)

With this new, harmonized Greater Commission in mind I decided to read through the book of Acts to see how well the apostles followed directions. And sure enough – they forgot again. For one thing Jesus demanded a Trinitarian baptism and all they did was baptize in Jesus’ name (Acts 2:38-39; 8:15-16; 10:44-48; 19:4-5). Not once did they give a proper baptism! And they never once gave anyone a drink of poison to test their faith. Holy cow! I can now understand why Jesus rebuked them so much. And Peter must have been the misfit of the group seeings that Jesus called him Satan (Matthew 16:23).

Oh, for those of you who enjoy Christian history, the Commission is not found in two of the oldest Greek manuscripts of the New Testament – the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus. I wonder when God actually added them to the Bible? Another mysterious act of God!

Time for one more cup… or two.

On the Road Again


Meeting my brother at Starbucks this morning, so this may be a short one.  I think that we all know the story of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus in the book of Acts.  If not, here’s a brief summary:

Paul was on his way to Damascus with some traveling companions.  His mission was to seek and destroy any person(s) who was worshipping Jesus.  On his way, a bright flash of light came from the sky which happened to be Jesus.  Jesus confronts Paul and asks why he has been persecuting Him.  Paul then receives instruction on what to do next.  Thus begins Paul’s conversion from Pharisitic Jew to a follower of Jesus.

What makes this story a bit irregular is that it’s told on three occassions and each story is slightly altered.  The narrator tells the first story and it begins in Acts 9:3.  I will paraphrase each story to save time.  A light flashes around Paul and he falls to the ground and hears a voice.  Paul’s traveling companions hear the voice but they don’t see anything.

The second story is found in Acts 22:9 and Paul is telling the story.  He again falls to the ground and hears a voice.  His companions don’t hear a voice this time but sees the light – just the opposite of what happens in the first story.

The third story, found in Acts 26:12, Paul is telling the story to King Agrippa.  When the light flashes they all fall to the ground.  Paul doesn’t say whether or not his companion heard a voice or saw the light – just that the light caused everyone to fall to the ground.

There is another point I’d like to make.  In the first two stories, Jesus tells Paul to go to Damascus where he will receive instruction from a man named Ananius.  But in the last story told to King Agrippa, Paul says that he was instructed by Jesus himself.

It’s time for another cup!  See ya next time!

“But I Say to You…”

As a teacher, I always try very hard to simplify things.  Over my first cup of coffee this morning I wanted to see if I could simplify Jesus’ teachings by jotting them down briefly on a sheet of paper.  I thought the Gospel of Matthew was a good place to start since Jesus did a lot of teaching from a mountainside.

He starts out with what we call the Beatitudes (5:1-11), or the “Blessed are” statements.  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  That’s a tough one to live up to.  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”  Then he says in 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law of the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”  He says that if we break “any” of the old Jewish commandments or causes others to break one, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.  But, here’s the shocker.  “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:21 starts out with what I call the “But I say to you…” statements.  For instance, “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery.  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  And adultery was forbidden by Jesus.

Jesus sums it up in Matthew 7:14 “For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  Amen to that.  Very few I would say.

To enter the kingdom heaven, according to Jesus, is a very difficult thing to do.  But wait a minute.  Paul saw a vision on his way to Damascus.  The bright light that blinds him on that road turns out to be Jesus.  Paul, a Jewish Pharisee, immediately converts from an executor of Christians to a faithful follower of Jesus.  He dedicates his life in the teachings of Jesus.  Most Christians will say that he started the Christian movement.

Now, the hard part for me to understand is that Paul appears to “simplify” the teachings of Jesus.  He claims that all you have to do is believe in Christ and that he was risen – no works necessary.  Matthew’s Jesus was all about works – how you conduct yourself and how you treat others.  It appears that Paul’s teachings were at odds with what Jesus taught on the mountainside.  Did Jesus, aka God, change his mind about what he taught earlier?

Oh well.  Another mystery goes unsolved – at least in my mind.  So, I’ll just have another cup of coffee.