John 13:3-5

Father, every bit of the person You’d have me to be, I long to be.

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Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power and that He had come from God and was returning to God;” (v. 3 NIV)

Jesus knew Himself inside and out, as God’s Son and the human representation of our Creator and Father God. He knew His strength (power), identity, and destiny.
HIS STRENGTH – that the Father had put all things under His power
HIS IDENTITY – that He had come from God
HIS DESTINY – that He would be returning to God
Knowing who He is, fully understanding Himself, He chose to serve others.

Do we know ourselves? Do we know who we are when we are followers of Jesus, when we are “in Christ,” as the Scriptures describe His followers?
OUR STRENGTH – that we can do ALL things through Him who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13) and we can do nothing apart from Him (John 15:5)—through Whom ALL things are possible (Luke 1:37; Matthew 19:26).
OUR IDENTITY – that we are daughters and sons “of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-27 NIV), upon whom He lavishes His love (1 John 3:1)
OUR DESTINY – that our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly await our Savior’s return, who will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body (Philippians 3:20-21); that He has given us His Holy Spirit to dwell within us as a deposit to guarantee our inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14) that can never perish, spoil, or fade—kept in heaven for us who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of His salvation upon His return. (1 Peter 1:3-4)
When we know who we are in Christ, we can set ourselves aside confidently and serve others, following the example of Jesus.

When Jesus demonstrated serving others in the upper room as He washed the disciples’ grimy feet, He went through some basic steps and movements which can be insight for us as we move ourselves toward selfless service to others. (See John 13:4-5.)

GOT UP“so He got up from the meal” (v. 4)
Jesus left His comfortable situation or position at the table. He didn’t just lie back and describe His idea to the group or preach to them as He’d often done in other settings. This time, He chose to set an example for them right before their eyes.
How willing are we to get up from wherever our comfort zone has us?

TOOK OFF“took off His outer clothing” (v 4)
He let go of His image among those around Him. They had been perceiving Him as a Teacher, leader, Messiah, and Son of God. His actions most likely raised a few eyebrows in wonder.
When we’ve been known in one way by those around us, do we have the boldness to step out in ways the more closely reflect our Savior?

WRAPPED“wrapped a towel around His waist” (v. 4)
Jesus chose to reflect the image of a servant in the culture around Him. He never did espouse the image that so many expected the King of Kings to have—not in His lowly birth in a stable to His death on a tree.
Will we conform to this world’s pattern of behavior and expectations or choose to imitate Jesus?

POURED“He poured water into a basin” (v. 5)
He prepared the tools for serving others. Not even waiting around for someone else to do something or hand Him something, Jesus got what He needed and did what was required so that others could be blessed by His genuine humility.
For what are we waiting?

BEGAN TO WASH“began to wash His disciples’ feet” (v. 5)
As Jesus washed the feet of the men who had walked hundreds of miles with Him, He cleansed toes, soles and heels of some who doubted, angered easily, were proud, thought they should have places of honor, and one who would betray. He showed no favoritism as He served those with Him.
When we serve, are we looking for certain recipients or willing to serve any the Lord puts in our path with the resources or means that He provides?

DRYING“drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him” (v. 5)
Jesus involved Himself fully in completing His service to others. He didn’t ask someone in the room to hand Him a towel or to follow Him and do the drying. He used what He had with Him to complete the service He started. At other times, He did delegate tasks to others in order to serve. In this particular instance, He chose to be the servant, allowing the others to experience the blessing of being served.
How’s our follow through when the Lord prompts us to serve with what He’s equipped or supplied us?

A number of years after our Lord showed us this example of serving others, He used the pen of Paul to exhort us. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:5-7). In another passage, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians prompts us to “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men” (Eph 6:7).

Jesus took several opportunities, like the one recorded by John, to demonstrate His servant’s heart and to draw us to follow His example. Now, the willingness, boldness, Christ-likeness, initiative, impartiality, and follow-through are traits we can choose to employ … or not. Will we seek to be served or serve like Jesus?

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Ernestine’s Influence & Faith

Ernestine Graves Was Truly an Amazing Evansville Woman!Ernestine Graves

February 18, 1922 – October 11, 2013

Writings from Two People Whose Lives
Were Impacted by This Remarkable Lady

On a cloudy day in March, 2007, I met this friendly lady, who was in her mid-eighties then, while we were both attending the graveside service of a man who died tragically while he was homeless.  She knew him from her frequent visits to United Caring Shelter to serve meals or deliver donated clothing items.  I was aware of him through my job at the time with a homeless services agency, Aurora, Inc.06-30-06 ErnestineGraves

Soon after we became acquainted, Ernestine had learned about our work at Aurora and had connected me to the congregation where she worshiped then and with a small group of ladies from a former church family.  Her connections wrought speaking opportunities and led to others becoming aware of the kinds of needs that she regularly busied herself with meeting as she was able.  When she switched to a church closer to her home, she again connected me (as well as other homeless service providers) with an opportunity to speak. She also engaged people in that church family in her behind-the-scenes ministry to people who are homeless.U-Donate15

Nearly every Sunday (and even on other days), someone would find Ernestine to let her know they’d brought items for her to give away to people who are homeless. Even when her health dipped a bit a few years ago, she kept on going.  She found a simple joy in doing the simplest of things: sharing with others in need.  Plus, she would tell others of needs of which she heard, thereby, she often connected people who need things with people who had the things they need.051107-Ernestine-Brooke

Ernestine enjoyed a variety of things and had many interesting experiences.  She loved Indian food. She collected many nativity sets, some from various nations.  She served this country as a “Rosie the Riveter,” helping to build wings of planes during the war.  She was active in her neighborhood association.  Still, it was her generous nature and interest in others that stood out the most.

One of the basic definitions of “philanthropy” is “active effort to promote human welfare.”  That description so vividly depicted Ernestine Graves.  Her influence in this community was person to person.  She influenced many in this community: some to give; some to learn of needs in case they might one day choose to give or get involved; some to survive another day with things that were given; some to continue to have hope by knowing someone cares; and some she would never meet who would hear of her life and be inspired to follow her example.

by Kat Isbell, Owner, Kat KreationsMvc-019f

In 2007, Ernestine started bringing donated items to the House of Bread and Peace.  She would drop by there at least once a week after that with items that friends and family had given her, because they knew she would get them to people who were really in need.

The kids at the shelter could always count on Ernestine to bring new books, clothes, and fun items. The women at the House benefited from a variety of nice donations, like clothes, shoes, household items, and magazines.EGraves-sorting food

Ernestine made herself aware of the resources in our community and shared that information with any of us she met.  She did a great job of connecting people and agencies to the resources they needed. Through her efforts to help others, Ernestine not only provided items, she helped promote many social service agencies and showed her friends how they could be involved in the community.

Ernestine was thoughtful and friendly every time we saw her, and kept going despite not always feeling as energetic as she would have liked.  The House of Bread and Peace was very fortunate to have such an amazing woman supporting us!

by Sarah Wolf , Executive Director, House of Bread and Peace

Carrying on Her TraditionRose in Her Place2-101313

On the Sunday morning after Ernestine went Home to the Lord, a red rose sat in the place in the pew where she normally sat during morning worship.  The rose was placed there by one of her sorority sisters who had witnessed Ernestine doing the same for others in the church family when they had passed.

Thoughts on Her Faith 

 by Ernestine Graves           

A few years ago, the pastor where Ernestine worshiped asked congregation members to write their thoughts about their faith.  Below is an excerpt from Ernestine’s letter.EG-closeup

My thoughts are hard to put on paper these days. Could it be my age? You ask about my feelings of my faith. How are my feelings? They are just there—inside me, very quiet. My faith has always been in my doings, my everyday life—at work, at home, with family, at church, in my yard—close to God when digging in the dirt. His world is full of beauty, hope and also full of hurt and worry. I’ve felt close to God driving to Indiana University for my boys. Loving all the small towns and small wood churches I passed by. My faith is like air and food—it’s there—and I’m the better for it. I guess you would say it is just living.

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Ernestine Graves was a nominee in the 2009 Women of Influence contest hosted by the Evansville Courier & Press: www.courierpress.com/influence/ .  Her being featured in the article about that contest garnered the attention of Maturity Journal, which did a story on her benevolent life. She was a member of the Castalian Sorority at Evansville College.

Up until the first week of October, Ernestine was still out and about, driving herself here and there on her missions and visits.  On Saturday, October 5, 2013, she received word that she had acute leukemia and could have about three months to live. Her symptoms had been fatigue and lack of appetite, which continued. After the weekend, she began needing help to walk. Soon after, she was mostly in bed. By Thursday, October 10, she was admitted into VNA Hospice.  She was rarely conscious while there as her family members checked on her frequently.  By 2:00 pm., Friday, October 11th, she had left this world for her eternal Home. 

Obituary for Ernestine Christian Graves – published by Evansville Courier & Press (guest book on site will remain open until 11/14/13)

Obit-101513

If you knew, met or were impacted by Ernestine’s life, please feel free to leave a reply below.

Luke 22

Father, thank You for Jesus and the life I have in Him!

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“…the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves … I am among you as one who serves.” (v 26-27 NIV)

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, SERVING as overseers — not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be … eager to SERVE; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock … All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another … Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:2-3, 5-6 NIV)

Whether my role, position, or vocation is actually designated as “leader” doesn’t matter.  In Your kingdom, Lord, You have equipped me for leadership; You call me to lead by example as I follow the example of Christ.  Help me to do so each day, Lord, including today.

Make me like Jesus, the kind of leader or Shepherd that He was (is).  Cause my eyes to see YOUR flock as You see them.  Place in me a never-swerving heart of a servant, intent on serving others, placing others first. Cover me with a genuine blanket of humility toward others.  Let me not be afraid of what will happen to me by being humble; rather, strengthen me to entrust myself to You through all things.  It’s the You in me that I long for others to see and experience.  Amen.