Nick Poindexter

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Tag: Paul (page 1 of 3)

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.

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.

Thank God For The Fleas

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)

One of my Christian heroes is a woman named Corrie ten Boom. In case you aren’t familiar with her story, Corrie and her family were caught secretly hiding Jews in their Dutch home during World War II. Consequently, they were sent to a Nazi death camp called Ravensbruck as prisoners themselves.

Despite being imprisoned in horrific conditions, Corrie and her sister Betsie continued to be faithful to God throughout it all. Even though it could have cost them their lives, the two sisters managed to smuggled a small Bible inside. Their present realty notwithstanding, both ladies persistently worshiped, studied and prayed.

Once arriving to their barracks in Ravensbruck, Betsie was reminded of Paul’s very words here in 1 Thessalonians. So she decided they should put it into action — right then and there. They started by thanking God for the obvious things such as being paired together and the Bible they held in their hands. Next, Betsie moved expressing their thankfulness for less-desirable things, such as the crammed, crowded spaces, which allowed for more people to hear them. Then, Corrie was caught off-guard when Betsie took their thankfulness to a whole different level…

She began to thank God for the fleas.

Yes, you read that one correctly. Two sisters who were imprisoned in Nazi death camps for helping Jewish people, were thanking God for the fleas that infested the very straw beds they were to sleep on.

While nothing will ever compare to the evils of a concentration camp, many of us find ourselves in flea-infested state of affairs today… A child is sick, a job is lost, a marriage is struggling, a checking account is empty. Sometimes life seems overrun with fleas!

But here’s the thing — those notorious fleas bothered the guards more than they bothered the inmates. In fact, the guards wouldn’t even go near their specific barracks for inspections. Therefore the two sisters were able to completely worship God, study his word, and pray together in the middle of a Nazi death camp because of those fleas.

We’ll never fully know on this side of heaven just how God is using the infestation in our present circumstances for our good. And since you can’t control your circumstances, you might as well focus on the things you can control — things like your attitude and obedience.

So don’t allow Paul’s words to the church in Thessalonica be a mere suggestion. Instead, treat it like the command it is… Always rejoice, always pray, and always give thanks to God.

Even when all you can see around you are fleas.

Gonna Fly Now

You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.
-1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (MSG)

In ancient Greece, every two years the city of Corinth would hold the Isthmian Games. Somewhat similar to our modern Olympic Games, the participants in the Isthmian Games would compete in events like chariot racing and wrestling. This event was very prestigious and athletes would train as far out as a year in advance to be ready for it. They knew that only through steadfast commitment and rigorous training would their bodies be ready for the test.

Paul, the author of the first letter to the people of Corinth, was an incredibly smart man. He knew how big of a deal the Isthmian Games were to the city’s inhabitants. He knew how the people saw the able-bodied athletes on display every two years. He knew that they could relate to and understand the work and discipline that went into being one of these special competitors. And Paul wanted them to know the same thing about the Christian life.

Self-discipline is crucial for Christians, and that is the analogy Paul was trying to make. Just like an athlete must be ready for the games, a Christ-follower must be ready as well. When God calls you to do something, you need to be spiritually up to the task. You don’t want anything to get in the way. As Paul puts it, no “sloppy living”, no getting “caught napping”. Things like lazy attitudes and bad habits are a hindrance to a Christian in the same way that they would be for an athlete – they prevent us from being at our spiritual and physical best.

In all the Rocky movies, the best part of each was undeniably his training sessions. The second those horns from “Gonna Fly Now (Theme From Rocky)” come in you just can’t refrain from getting excited. But Rocky had help – he had trainers, encouraging and pushing him along the way. For us to become fit and prepared for spiritual challenges we must have help as well. Help that can only come from the ultimate Trainer, our Creator, our Father.

So… Are you ready?

Cue the music.

Shipwrecks And Snakebites

As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand. The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.” But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god.
-Acts 28:3-6 (NLT)

Imagine this scenario: You give up everything and follow the call of God with your life. It has even reached the point that you are imprisoned for your obedience. While being transferred to your trial, your boat runs ashore and your are left shipwrecked on a tiny island. That’s where we catch up with Paul here in Acts 28.

But, believe it or not, it gets worse. Once arriving on the island of Malta, Paul is bitten on the hand by a snake. The natives assume he’s a murder and he’s getting what he deserves. However, the bite doesn’t hurt Paul, so the people then decide that he’s a god instead.

Think of what happened to Paul in less than a 24-hour window: Shipwrecked on an remote island. Bitten by a venomous snake. Accused of being a murderer and a god. And it all happens while being faithful to God! I would say that’s enough to constitute a “bad day.” Honestly, that’s enough to question if what you’re doing is sincerely the will of God. I’m sure that thought crossed Paul’s mind.

A lot of people are at that exact moment in their life right now. Everything is falling apart. Things that are out of your control are controlling you. All your plans are unsuccessful. There are questions, doubts and fears. You feel like a living example of Murphy’s Law… Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. But Paul’s story didn’t end there, and thankfully neither does ours today.

Because of his new-found “god” status, Paul is taken to meet the chief official of the island. Paul is able to pray and heal the man’s sick father, along with others on the island. And as a way of saying “thank you,” the islanders give them enough supplies to complete their trip to Rome. Amazing!

If Paul’s boat doesn’t sink, he doesn’t end up off-course in Malta and he doesn’t get bitten by a snake. If Paul doesn’t get bitten by a snake, the people don’t mistake him for a god and he doesn’t get to meet the chief official. And if Paul doesn’t meet the chief official, the sick aren’t healed, supplies aren’t received, Paul doesn’t reach Rome, and God isn’t glorified.

When everything you thought was right is blowing up in your face… Hang in there. Sometimes failed plans are the best plans. God can use any circumstance to accomplish his purposes.

Even shipwrecks and snakebites.

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