out of order…

The following verse was quite powerful to me:

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
James 3:9-10

It reminded me of a speech a HS English teacher gave my senior year about remembering that everyone is someone’s child. I think if we remembered that each of us is God’s creation, we’d be much nicer to one another. And more honest. And more loving. Hmmm.

colossians 2:6-12

Freedom From Human Regulations Through Life With Christ

6So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

8See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature,[a] not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

Sometimes I find myself believing things based on tradition. I find myself pausing and asking, “WHY?” Why do I believe what I do? For example, if I hear of two bad things happening to people, why do I think, “I wonder who the 3rd will be?” If I say something like, “XYZ is going to happen,” then I think, “Well, now it won’t happen because I said it will.” Where does stuff like that come from?? How often do I fall for the deceptive and the hollow?

Because of Jesus, I have access to a full life – not a life of deception. That is awesome.

The section of the passage that really strikes me is the part that says that Jesus is the head over all authority that is put in place. It reminds me to respect the authority that Jesus put in place.

colossians 2:1-5

1I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.

Paul was not passively wishing that people might come to know Jesus – he struggled with it. He was active, not passive. It’s interesting to know that as part of the character of Paul. His dedication to praying for the Colossians and interest in their progress is impressive to me since he was likely hundreds of miles away from them.

I also noticed that when you know Jesus, the results seem to be as follows: wisdom, knowledge and order. I have a friend that often says that God is not the God of confusion. Which is funny to me because I am often confused by God, but this is really a result of my own shortcomings, inability to listen to what God is saying (usually handicapped by my own desires) and lack of constant prayer. If I know who God is, as Paul says, I will have wisdom and knowledge.

colossians 1:24-29

Paul’s Labor for the Church

24Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

28We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

This, to me, speaks of the work that we must do within the churches to help each member of the body be the best they can be. I look at how hard and how passionately Paul worked at this in the church and I believe that I must be aware of opportunities for people to build wisdom into me and for opportunities for me to work with others. Ok, and really, I am not sure what to do with this passage. Perhaps it will be clearer to me later?

colossians 1:15-23

The Supremacy of Christ

15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[f] your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Paul doesn’t waste time getting down to business. God is the God of everything, and the only being able to reconcile – make good – all things on earth and in heaven. It reminds me to respect the authority God puts over me and to put all hope in God.

colossians 1:1-14

Scripture:

Colossians 1

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2To the holy and faithful[a] brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.[b]

Thanksgiving and Prayer

3We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— 5the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. 7You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our[c] behalf, 8and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

9For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[d] to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14in whom we have redemption,[e] the forgiveness of sins.

I was given this verse by a woman who used to mentor me. She was fantastic and loved God greatly. Unfortunately, I was at a stage of my life where I was trying to take the leap, but struggling really with what it meant to be a Christian. I wonder sometimes, since she and I lost touch, if she ever considered that I might have gone this particular direction. But anyway, I digress.

Frank and I started talking today about why we don’t read the Bible more and both feeling convicted that we should read the Bible more. I will say that the should is not the result of some strong moral imperative, but rather, when I grow in my knowledge of God, I grow personally. When I know God, not just based on what I have heard from others, but from what He has revealed to me in His word – it becomes much easier to understand what God is saying to me.

I believe in some way, God was reminding me of this with this verse because one of the key areas that Paul is praying for the Colossians in is that they would grow in their knowledge of God.

Anyway, the other stand out piece of information I gleaned in this is the importance of prayer. I know in my head and my heart already that prayer is important and that praying for others is essential, but I know that this is an additional area of improvement. Paul says to the Colossians that he is continuously praying for the Colossians. And not only is he saying, “Oh, and God, by the way, please remember the Colossians” – rather! – Paul is praying very specifically for the Colossians.

vision

so what is the vision or purpose of this blog? while i enjoy existing as frank’s beans, that is not the purpose.

this blog is designed as an accountability tool to make sure that i stay in God’s word always. every day i will post a blog with scripture and reflections on the scripture. i am not a scholar, so if you have feedback or redirection, please feel free to post a comment. please remember when you post your comments to include a healthy dose of grace because, well, as previously stated – i am not a scholar. sometimes i just don’t know things.

and here we go.

smooth talk and flattery.

So I took quite a hiatus after I made my blog private. Even though few people probably ever read my blog, I felt a sense of accountability to continue my daily Bible Blogging. Once this blog went private, I lost that sense and it has come with a cost.

I never finished reading Romans. Tonight, I couldn’t sleep, so I opened up the trusty biblegateway.com and punched up Romans 16. I’ve always liked Romans 16 because Paul is thanking and encouraging all of those who work on the Kingdom of God. I love that the people he thanks includes men and women of all levels of leadership and giftedness. In this last chapter, Paul leaves with thanks and encouragement – and one strong word of warning. He urges believers to stay away from people who teach against the church. He says, “By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” (Rom 16:18)

This does not mean to not love people (something Paul admonishes us to do earlier in Romans), but this means to be smart about where we are taught. Recently some people in my life have been smooth-talked into believing things that are untrue. This slippery, slippery slope dragged them into a set of beliefs wholly untrue and deadly. Paul is right to advise believers to not get too close to a drowning man. Throw them a life vest (prayer), but there is no need to drown along with them.

This week I had a conversation with Frank, L & G regarding death and life afterwards. This conversation so clearly outlined for me the gravity of the situation. Christianity isn’t about what you believe to help you feel good at night. Christianity is about where we will spend eternity. Christianity is a battle to the death, in every literal sense of the word. It is so easy to think that we have countless tomorrows, but as our senior pastor often says, “I will see you next week, God-willing.” It sounds a little depressing, but the truth is: We are not guaranteed tomorrow.

G shared a story with us about a doctor at our church. One afternoon, while he was doing rounds, a nurse informed him that there was an elderly woman who was constantly complaining and nothing the nurses did seemed to help her. The doctor went into this patient’s room and asked her how she was doing and was there anything he could do to help.

She responded, “There is a man behind you.”

Confused, he looked behind him and, seeing nothing, said to the woman, “There is no one there.”

She shook her head. “No, there was someone there. It was Jesus and He’s come to take me home.” Within moments of saying that, she died.

The cynic in me likes to flatter me into believing that surely this woman was just seeing things. Frank asked G if the doctor often saw patients who saw Jesus before dying. Unfortunately, the doctor said that more often than not, it was the other way. Patients would claim to hear the screams of hell rushing up to great them and would be dragged away into death. Their deaths were not peaceful, but awful experiences for these patients.

I had never heard such reports of people being dragged into death. Frank confirmed what G said – saying that he flew with a pilot who was in Vietnam. The pilot said that he held many of his friends and fellow soldiers in his arms as they died of wounds inflicted on the battlefields. The pilot said that one of his friends, who was a believer, said that he smelled the sweet fragrance of warm bread from his childhood and knew he was going home. But, just as the doctor had experienced, he also watched far too many people leave this world for a more terrifying one. The pilot said that these individuals often knew that they had already made their choice and there was no going back.

Every day, I believe that I will wake up and I will go on. I believe that I will have a million second chances and that everyone and their puppy-dog will be in heaven. If that was the case, how wonderful would it be? But we are not worthy of being in God’s presence as unrighteous sinners. The only thing that makes it possible for us to be with God in heaven is the sacrifice of God’s only son.

I knew this was a big battle. I knew that the stakes were large, but when I am faced with stories like the ones that Frank and G shared with me, it reminds me that the stakes are so large and so valuable, that Jesus died for them.

But just as with a drowning person, there are rules to live by: Reach, Throw, Row, but never Go.

– Reach: Reach out to this person in prayer. Ask God to soften their hearts.
– Throw: Share the gospel with them in a compassionate and patient way. Show them the gospel every day in your life. What does that mean? It means be like God. To understand what God is like, read the Bible. The way He treats people and loves on His people are what we strive for.
– Row: Only go out to the person fully armed and prepared with proper equipment. As Paul says, put on the full armor of God.
– Never Go: Never swim out to the drowning person, unarmed. In the end, we can all be flattered and tricked into Satan’s lies. Satan does not come and say, “Hey, want to sin?” Instead, he smooth-talks and flatters us into giving up a little bit of ground at a time… until we’ve given up all the ground we had.

My New Year’s resolution is to continue blogging, regardless of whether or not anyone reads it.

I wish you all the very best in 2008.

Paul’s Reason for Writing – Romans 15 cont'd

14 I am fully convinced, my dear brothers and sisters,[h] that you are full of goodness. You know these things so well you can teach each other all about them. 15 Even so, I have been bold enough to write about some of these points, knowing that all you need is this reminder. For by God’s grace, 16 I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit. 17 So I have reason to be enthusiastic about all Christ Jesus has done through me in my service to God. 18 Yet I dare not boast about anything except what Christ has done through me, bringing the Gentiles to God by my message and by the way I worked among them. 19 They were convinced by the power of miraculous signs and wonders and by the power of God’s Spirit.[i] In this way, I have fully presented the Good News of Christ from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum.[j]
20 My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. 21 I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says,
“Those who have never been told about him will see, and those who have never heard of him will understand.”[
k]
22 In fact, my visit to you has been delayed so long because I have been preaching in these places.



FINALLY! 15 chapters into the book of Romans, Paul finally tells us why he is writing!! 🙂 Something I find interesting about Paul is his tactic of saying, “I write you this letter telling things you already know and that you already teach eachother, as just a simple reminder.” I love that because I sometimes imagine that they got this letter and looked at eachother and said, “woops – we better get on this!” In a very gentle, encouraging way, Paul reminded the Romans that they had all of the resources to keep plugging along. Part of me thinks that some of the Romans read it and felt encouraged and some of the Romans felt a pricking of the Holy Spirit, guiding them back on the right path.

The other thing that I find interesting is how Paul, through his own example, teaches the Romans and us to prioritize those that have not heard the message ahead of those that have heard the message and are part of a community. But he doesn’t forget the community, he still wrote to them and provided them with the wisdom and guidance God lead him to share.

So how am I going out into the world and sharing the good news? And how am I building into the community of believers? And who is the Paul in my life?

Living to Please Others (Romans 15)

1 We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. 2 We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. 3 For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.”[a] 4 Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.
5 May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. 6 Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.


There is living to please others and then there is living to please others in order to please God. This is a huge thing for me because I know all too often, I put the satisfaction of others as a top priority. That is a wrong attitude! What Paul is saying is that when you are a follower of Jesus, you live in harmony with other followers in order to give praise and glory to God. This passage doesn’t say to foresake God so that non-believers can be comfortable. Quite the opposite – Paul talks about building up other believers in the Lord. We should help them find the right direction, even if it means keeping eachother accountable (a sometimes uncomfortable thing).