Nick Poindexter

My style's like a chemical spill

Beautiful Feet

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
-Romans 10:14-15 (NIV)

In Romans 10, the missionary Paul pleads for his readers to understand how vital the saving message of the gospel is. Paul then lays out a series of rhetorical questions that show the events that must play out in order for one to ultimately believe in Jesus. Oddly however, Paul doesn’t commend the speaker’s words, mouth, lips nor tongue. Instead, he says it’s the feet that are worthy of the recognition. Specifically, Paul says those feet are beautiful.

Even in today’s clean-freak society, “beautiful feet” doesn’t translate well. Feet are still kind of off limits as far as the body goes. To some people, even the mere thought of touching someone’s feet makes them cringe. It doesn’t matter if it’s their significant other or their children… There ain’t no way they are getting near those things! There’s even a name for it — podophobia, the fear of feet.

As gross as feet are thought of today, in Paul’s culture they were viewed far worse. We have to remember that this was during a time in history where the primary means of travel was by foot. And the roads weren’t paved. And they’re located in the Middle East.

So within the context of these verses you have dirt roads in a desert climate being traveled by folks in sandals. Not exactly an ideal setting for one’s feet. I don’t want to get graphic with you (OK, yeah I do), but we’re talking feet covered with cuts, scabs, blisters, calluses, sweat, mud, and dust. And don’t get me started on their toenails… Can you imagine? Yikes! You couldn’t just stroll into your local strip mall and get a pedi with a sea salt scrub anytime you wanted.

Let’s be honest — feet can be pretty nasty. Then and now, they are generally anything but beautiful.

That’s why it’s so interesting that Paul chose arguably the most disgusting part of the body and described them in a way no one ever had before. Despite everything wrong it had going for it, in the end the feet are what carried the message of Jesus. All the charisma, intellect and eloquent dialogue in the world is for naught if isn’t actually taken somewhere to be shared. True to his form, God shows that his primary concern is willful obedience. The domino effect of salvation begin with a single, literal step. Because of that, it’s those “icky” feet that Paul says deserve the praise and attention.

Or better yet, I suppose you could summarize the thought this way: anything that brings a good thing is a beautiful thing.

And really, that’s a picture of the gospel, isn’t it? The broken made new. The worthless redeemed. The ugly made beautiful.

The Good News really is that good.

Use Your Oxgoad

After Ehud, Shamgar son of Anath became judge. He delivered Israel by striking down 600 Philistines with an oxgoad.
-Judges 3:31 (HCSB)

The book of Judges tells of the repetitive cycle the Israelites found themselves in during a course of their history. Essentially, the people would get involved with sinful activity and turn their back toward God, which in turn brought suffering upon the people. God would respond by sending a deliverer, or judge, to rescue them.

One such judge is Shamgar. We are introduced to him in Chapter 3, Verse 31, and told that he is the son of Anath; that he saved Israel; and that he killed 600 Philistines with an oxgoad.

And that’s it. The guy doesn’t even get a second verse. Shamgar is a one-verse wonder.

While one could argue that we aren’t told enough about Shamgar to warrant even studying him, perhaps what we do know from this single verse is more than sufficient.

For example, his name. Shamgar is not a Hebrew name. That point is further verified by the “son of Anath” addition. Anath was the name of the Canaanite goddess of war. So being referred to as “son of Anath” is more of a cultural clue rather than a genealogical one. So just from his name we can conclude that God used a non-Israelite to save his people. Interesting

Secondly, the man used an oxgoad to slaughter hundreds of Philistines. An oxgoad was an 8-foot long stick with a pointed, iron tip used to prod and drive oxen. It wasn’t a weapon by design… It was a farming tool. Shamgar obviously wasn’t prepared. Either this fight with the Philistines caught him off guard, or he simply didn’t have traditional weapons at his disposal. So Shamgar had to be innovative and show some creativity. He used what he had — in this case, an oxgoad.

What makes Shamgar’s story so relavant and applicable today is that it hits upon so many modern-day Christian excuses… “God would never use someone like me… I am not prepared… I do not have the resources.” Shamgar is evidence to the contrary. All those excuses should be tossed out.

The person does not matter if God is guiding. The readiness does not matter if God is backing. And the weapon does not matter if God is empowering.

Shamgar was an unlikely choice with inadequate preparation and arsenal. Yet, God used him to save Israel. And he can use you too, right now, if you’re willing.

Even if you have to use your oxgoad.

Take This Cup

“Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me—nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”
-Luke 22:42 (HCSB)

Knowing that he was about to be arrested, tried and crucified, Jesus retreats with his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane for prayer. One can’t even begin to fathom how intense and excruciating this moment had to be. Therefore, to no surprise, Jesus’ prayer begins with a plea: Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me—nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.

As God in the flesh, Jesus knew what had to be done. But as a human, he felt the weight of the consequences as well.

Ultimately there was no choice. Jesus had to face the cup.

So what exactly is this “cup” that Jesus wants removed? Pain? Suffering? Death? As horrible as those things are, Jesus was facing something much worse.

Going back to the Old Testament, a cup is often used to symbolize God’s wrath and judgment. Those who have sinned against God are told that they must drink from this cup and endure it’s contents. It is essentially a cup filled to the brim with the horror and desolation that comes from being alienated from God the Father.

And Jesus wasn’t facing a single person’s cup… It was the wrath of God due to all humanity for their sinfulness and rebellion. The mere thought of that cup is what made Jesus plead with his Father for it to be taken away. Whips, thorns and nails couldn’t compare.

No wonder his sweat became like blood.

So how do we wrap our minds around a sacrifice so overwhelming? How could we ever acknowledge it with a proper response of thankfulness?

I don’t know. I really don’t. But if I had to answer, I would say this: simply rejoice and rest.

Rejoice in the fact that Jesus not only took your cup, but he actually drank from your cup. The fact that he would even taste our deserved punishment should steer us toward nothing but elation, praise, and celebration. So rejoice!

And rest in the fact that Jesus didn’t just sip your cup, but he emptied your cup. There’s nothing more you can do to atone your relationship with God, because Jesus has done it all. And there’s not an ounce of God’s wrath left for you. When you trust in Jesus’ finished work, you are saved, indeed. So rest.

So I rejoice and rest, knowing that the cup of God’s wrath, specifically directed toward me and designed for me, was willfully drank by Jesus.

Every. Last. Drop.

What You Seek You Will Find

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
-Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

Do you consider yourself a negative person? One who habitually leans toward the “glass half empty” side of things? If so, I have another question… What are you looking for? Let me give you an example scenario…

Are you always nasty and argumentative with your spouse? If you are looking for reasons to be angry toward your husband or wife, you will find them. Annoying habits and traits will rise to the surface. You will jump at any opportunity to be critical of a mistake or error. You will dissect every word they say, giving you justification for your hostility. When it comes down to it, what they do will never be good enough.

The reasoning is simple: what you seek you will find.

In other words, if you want reasons to be pessimistic throughout your life, you won’t have to look very far. And the converse is true. If you want reasons to be optimistic, they will turn up everywhere as well.

And what we input into our minds, whether positive or negative, has a direct influence on our words and actions. Our thoughts do matter.

That’s why Paul’s instructions here to the church of Philippi are of utmost importance. He gives a list of 7 qualities and charges the reader to “think about these things.” Paul’s suggestion is not to search for the bad in anything and everything, but rather to focus on the things that are worth our attention in the first place… Things of honor and excellence.

We are challenged to think God thoughts.

That’s not saying it’s a simple process. That way of thinking is not an instinctive response in my opinion, so we must re-program our mind to discover what is good and pure. It takes time, but as we pursue the qualities that Paul mentions it will change our natural outlook on life, people and even God himself.

So what if instead of ragging on your husband, you turned your attention to the commendable things he does? And what if instead of bad-mouthing your wife, you zero in on the praiseworthy efforts she makes? You know what would happen… Your perspective and attitude would change.

And that’s the point. What you fill your mind with will eventually spew out. So make sure the overflow is of things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise. Those things are present, as they have always been, I promise you.

You control the destination of your mind. The question, once again, is what are you looking for?

Because what you seek you will find.

What Goes Up Must Come Down

Like a madman who throws flaming darts and deadly arrows, so is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I was only joking!”
-Proverbs 26:18-19 (HCSB)

Ever played a joke or prank, only have to have it completely backfire on you? You know the situation… You’re picking around with someone and then find out later that they thought there was some truth behind your words. And what is our natural first response? We get defensive and say, “C’mon, man… Can’t you take a joke?”

In Proverbs 26:18-19, Solomon describes that exact predicament — someone who deceives others, and then in turns tries to justify it by simply pointing out that it was intended as a joke.

Interestingly however, he doesn’t just say it’s wrong. Solomon takes it one step further by comparing that type of person to a madman running around wildly throwing darts and shooting arrows into the sky. One can’t deny the obvious danger presented in that situation. Sure, there’s no harm initially, but what goes up must come down. Eventually gravity will take over, the darts/arrows will return to Earth, and they will penetrate deep inside something.

In other words, if you think playing the “joke” card is a legitimate defense for trickery, lies and deception, then you are off your rocker.

Our words hold a lot of power, and Solomon here is reminding us to be careful with them — if used irresponsibly, they can be a weapon that pierce the heart as easily as arrows pierce skin.

In the end, “I was only joking” is nothing more than a lame excuse. It does not undo the damage. The consequences of what comes out of our mouths is ultimately our burden to carry.

So be cautious and attentive with your words. Don’t carelessly throw them around in the name of “fun” or “humor.”

Because what goes up must come down.

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