Not Finished

As much as I don’t want to admit this, I’m concerned that I have a disturbing pattern in my life:  leaving things half done :/

While I don’t leave everything half done, there are definitely things that I don’t finish, such as:  not completing my bookshelf project, starting innumerable books but not finishing them, doing half of the ironing, writing part of a story, etc.  Of course this could be very discouraging if I let myself quagmire in this awareness, but I have a fail-safe solution:  God doesn’t quit!

In Philippians 1:6 it says, “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”  Be encouraged that you’re a masterpiece in the making & the Holy Spirit is continuing to shape & grow you, never quitting, getting discouraged or giving up on you!  God’s not finished!

 

Looking for Good!!

In my efforts to always grow & Improve, sometimes I can get discouraged. This happens when I continue to focus on weaknesses & mistakes at the expense of looking at progress.
The truth is that we are all growing. Sometimes we see massive progress & sometimes the progress is microscopic. But let’s celebrate progress, regardless of the size!
You’ve come a long way, so be encouraged!! And remind yourself that the good work that God has started, He will continue & complete – Philippians 1:6 🙂

bright thinking!

Have you been through difficult seasons when your thoughts turn dark?  Lately, it seems like this has been my lot.  It’s certainly not as bad as Job in the Bible, but it’s not a smoothy groovy season for me at this time.  A few of the challenges that have popped up lately include:  a car meltdown, lost my credit card, my husband had a stroke, one of my kids had a crisis at school, some friend challenges and discouraging news from work.

As I’ve been navigating these difficulties, the Holy Spirit spoke to me this morning about how my thoughts were getting dark.  It’s like I’ve started to see things in a warped way and I find myself thinking negatively and with grim expectations.  This is one of the reasons I so deeply love the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus also calls the Spirit of Truth.  In my prayer time today, the Holy Spirit reminded me about Phil 4:8 where Paul tells us to dwell on / think about what is:  true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good repute, excellent and worthy of praise.

So with the help of the Holy Spirit, I’m re-directing my thoughts away from the dark stuff & onto things that are THRPLGR:  true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good repute!  Anyone care to join me???

plates, plates & more plates

ever feel like you should be in a circus act for plate spinning? 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLyW-qYoIKE&feature=PlayList&p=174C9B05A4CE6C56&playnext=1&index=35]

Everyone has busy lives – sometimes less, sometimes more.  Today, is a plate spinning day for me, so i think its even more essential than normal to consider what Paul says in Phil 4:6-7,  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

For every concern, frustration, request we pass along to God, and He tells us to do this, please be sure to include a thanksgiving as well.  Then allow God’s peace to guard your heart & your mind.  Then spin away baby & trust God to help you spin & catch a plate if it falls.  😉

Jesus, joy & gentle

In Philippians 4:4-5, Paul tells us 2x to rejoice in the Lord (its an imperative – command).  Paul tells us to rejoice without exceptions, buts or excuses.  Now for us ladies, that can be a tall order, depending on the hormonal levels on any given day. Hmmmmmm.  But Paul doesn’t give us, either men or women, any wiggle room.  We’re supposed to rejoice, end of the story, full stop.

Next he commands us to let our gentleness be evident to everyone.  The word Paul uses in the greek doesn’t so much imply a character trait of gentleness but rather the way in which we treat others – not being harsh, mean, demanding, etc.  Now you probably can do this easily, but i wasnt’ exactly “gentle” when the guy at the airport charged me almost triple for some espresso shots – grrrrrrrrrrr.

So, how on earth, given the humanity that tires us, are we supposed to rejoice always & let everyone see our gentleness????  I think Paul gives us the answer in the very next phrase – Jesus is near.  Can I just say that whenever i get to talk w someone about Jesus (whether they’re a Jesus fan or not), i just get really amped up.  Furthermore, it makes me “rejoice” when i think that Jesus is near me & He actually likes to be near me.  i don’t even like being w me that much, but He does & that causes me to rejoice.  Furthermore, when i think that Jesus is near me as i interact w others, i find myself wanting to tone down some volatility & i also find myself giving more grace, being keenly aware of the ongoing grace tsunami in which i live & breath.  So, dear friend, Jesus is near – be joyful & gentle.

spiritual conversations

conversationI really like having spiritual conversations – not like theology driven, but more like a sincere dialogue about what God is saying at personal levels.  I like hearing what God is saying to other people – I find that this often moves me closer to God.  A few days ago, I got to stay up late talking w a friend about some questions & thoughts I’m having about God & I had the privilege to listen to her ideas, as well as her questions.  I loved this time & found myself driving home & feeling deeply fulfilled & closer to God.  I think there’s alot of value in such conversations both in our horizontal relationships & our relationship w God.  Consider Paul’s words about Timothy & Epaphroditus in Philippians 2.  He could say these great things about these 2 men because he had had multiple spiritual conversations w each of them.

What are some things you do (or can do) to foster spiritual conversations?  Do you even want to have such conversations?  Feel free to answer or not at your level of comfort.  🙂

answer to gotcha!

So here’s the sequel to yesterday with the Greek mid-term.  With God’s help, I stopped complaining & griping, studied hard (I found myself to be more productive w my studying when I stopped complaining) and thanks be to God, I got an 88% on my Greek mid-term.  For some of you, that may be disappointing – thinking I should have gotten at least an A.  But please realize that this B+ was extremely miraculous (the best grade I’d earned in the class all semester). 

So here’s my conclusion, complaining & griping don’t usually bring the results we want. I find that when I gripe, argue with & complain to God (or anyone else):

  • my attitude goes down the toilet,
  • I have a hard time getting myself into being constructive & productive 
  • I become an unhappy person
  • I bring others down around me. 

I don’t want or need these results in my life & I’d venture to say that you don’t either.  😉

Check back later for some cool stuff on the Lord’s Prayer & the existence of evil!

something that works

A few weeks ago I had my Greek mid-term & i was pretty wound up about it for a variety of reasons.  Bottom line, from my opinion, I needed to do well in it to pass the class.  However, if you would have asked me about it, I would have gone off on the class – grammar griping, content clarity, instrumental datives, absolute genitives, possessive pronouns, etc.  The more I griped, the worse it got. 

Intervene God (whew!) – in our Philippians study, the next verses we’re working on talk about doing everything without complaining or arguing – even taking a greek mid-term.  Furthermore, I thought about one of my friends in Ethiopia who would LOVE the chance to study greek.  Needless to say, God put me in His cross hairs & fired away.  I’m really glad because I shut my mouth, studied & smiled, generally. 

Result?

Check back tomorrow!!  GOTCHA!  😉

πάντα ποιεῖτε χωρὶς γογγυσμῶν καὶ διαλογισμῶν

God is working in us!

Philip 2:13 says that God is working in us to will & do of His good pleasure.  In light of the idea of working out our salvation with fear & trembling from verse 12, we could see God as our work out trainer – helping us have the desire & power to do what He wants (work out our salvation). 

God is working in each of us.  When Paul wrote this, he used the present tense & in Greek, this means an ongoing & continuous action.  So God is working in you & me today, even at this moment, helping us to have the desire & abilities (resources, etc) to accomplish His will.  If you get more specific, those times in your day when you feel like being kind, patient, friendly, generous, forgiving (see the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5) – these are God moments.  He is working in you – be encouraged & offer Him some cooperation (I can’t say that word without thinking of Seasame Street).

Make today a God-watch day – watching for Him working in you His desires & abilities!

Philippians 2 – Work Out!

I like to work out.  Last week was exciting because I got to work out 5 times!  The purpose of my workouts are: to build strength (lift weights) & cardio fitness (jogging).  At this time, I’m doing better w weight training than cardio, but I do both pretty much every week.  Some of the benefits I find from working out include:

  • more energy (necessary to keep up w small children)
  • stress relief
  • clears my thinking
  • burns calories
  • greater endurance
  • better self-esteem
  • builds strength
  • keeps my heart & muscles healthy
  • strengthens my bones to prevent oesteoporosis

So, in Philip 2:12, Paul tells us to work out our salvation w fear & trembling.  Truthfully, when I lift weights & if I do a really good job in a workout, I experience both fear & trembling when I’m lifting weights.  I’ll talk about this more in Chapel on Tues.  If you can’t come, then I’ll blog on it to explain better after Chapel 😉

In Chapel, we’ll also go into one of my fav verses in the Bible – Philip 2:13: God is at work in me to will & do of His good pleasure.  Chapel is going to be GREAT & I’m REALLY EXCITED!!!

Exalting Jesus some more

Yahoo! In Philip 2:10, Paul says that every knee should bow to the name of Jesus (along with every tongue confessing that He is Lord).  These come in response to God the Father exalting the name of Jesus.  In chapel on Tuesday, we talked about how we can exalt Jesus & lift Him up, just a little more & just a little more, & even just a little more: lift up

But now I have a follow up question.  What are some different ways that we can bend our knees to the name of Jesus?  Or even better, what does it mean to bend our knees to Jesus?

exalting Jesus

following up on the Philippians blog about Jesus coming into humanity (if you haven’t had a chance to read it, please consider going back to check it out because it provides the context for what happens next in Philip 2:9ff), we read that after Jesus’ humbling & even humiliation, God exalted Him.

Jesus humbled Himself & God exalted Him.  These seem to go together, as do their opposites – exalt yourself & prepare to be humbled by God.  When Philippians talks about God exalting Jesus (hyper-lifting up for my chapel friends), it says that God gives Jesus the name above all names & that at His name every knee will confess & tongue bow (just seeing if you’re paying attention – 😉 ). 

Want to share some ways you’ve found effective in lifting up Jesus’ name in your life?  Could probably help out the rest of us.  Stay tuned tomorrow for some exercise fun relating to working out your salvation.

work out your salvation with fear & trembling

Ok, this is from the last part of Philip 2:12.  Need your thoughts, wisdom, insights, whatever.  I’m going to study this as well as I can, but I’d REALLY like your input – so would you kindly leave a comment & let me know what you think Paul meant when he said this?  If you want to bring any application into your comment, as well, don’t fight the urge.  🙂

Thanx!!

a deeper look at Philippians 2:5-8

I received some really good feedback asking for a little more of a deeper look at verses 5-8 than yesterday’s blog – so, here’s an attempt. 🙂

When Paul talks about having the same mind, understanding & attitude as Christ, he tells us this using the command form of the verb.  He’s not making a suggestion, or having a flash of brillance or even coming up with a good idea.  He is commanding us to have the same mind & attitude as Christ has.  From here, I believe that Paul demonstrates what he means by “having the same mind / attitude” in the next few points. 

First, in relation to position, Jesus did not “regard equality with God as something to be grasped.”  (NET)  Literally, not gripping supposing to be equal to God.  Humans are big on positions – 1st string Varsity, Treasurer of Student Council, Chief Operations Officer, . . . .  But of all the people who have ever lived & had a right to claim or hold onto a position, Jesus, being the Son of God would be the person most entitled to claim & hold onto His rightful position & status.  Knowing what Jesus did, we are commanded to have His mind & attitude, not demanding or clinging to a position we may have – whether we earned it, deserve it, were born with it or whatever.  Jesus, the 2nd person of the Trinity, was born in a manger.

Next, Jesus emptied Himself – not of His divinity, but of His glory.  Seems like there are lots of examples of Him emptying Himself – from his 40 day fast when He was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, to welcoming children to bless them, to making breakfast for Peter after he had denied Jesus.  But I’d like your input on how we can empty ourselves.  What ways have you found helpful to be more empty?

After emptying, Paul says that Jesus took the form of a servant.  I did  a little more checking into the word Paul uses here for servant & this word, doulos, was considered to be one of the worst positions a person could have in life.  The will of a doulos was completely subjected to his master’s desires & in some cases, a doulos was considered to be almost sub-human.  They had no rights, privileges, social status, possessions or position.  And Jesus took this form – keeping in mind that Paul tells us to have the same mind & attitude as Jesus.  Clearly, the idea of becoming a servant like this, flies in the face of all modern convenience or paradigms.  Nevertheless, we are commanded to serve, even live a life of service, no matter how menial the task may be or seem.

After taking the form of a servant, Paul says that Jesus came in the likeness of man.  Yesterday, we saw that this word likeness is where we get our word, “scheme”.  Remember that Jesus is fully God, as though He were not man & fully man as though He were not God.  Since we already are humans, my take on what Paul means when he says to have the same mind as Christ, in relation to the likeness of man, is that we not take ourselves so seriously. 

Finally, after doing all these things, Paul says that Jesus humbled Himself & became obedient to death on the crossI don’t think there was any way that Jesus could humble Himself more than what He underwent through His death.  If you want to look into what all this entailed with more depth, here are a few websites as starting points:  http://www.konnections.com/Kcundick/crucifix.html & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion

So, hopefully, there’s a little more depth for you here.  Let us know if you have any suggestions on implementing any &/or all of these points into your daily living.

Next week, we’ll be going through 2:9-18, so I’d encourage you to read these verses everyday, as part of your quiet time w God.  🙂

having the same mind as Jesus

Reading in Philippians 2 has been very stimulating and challenging to me.  Some things to consider in verses 5-8 are Paul’s command  to us to have the same mind or attitude that Christ has.  In verses 6-8, he tells us how to do this:

  • don’t hold onto a position (vs 6)
  • empty yourself (vs 7)
  • become a servant (vs 7)
  • don’t take yourself too seriously (vs 7)
  • humble yourself (vs 8)
  • die to yourself (vs 8 & Gal 2:20)

This is an “Everest” list – very big & maybe even insurmountable to some.  Nevertheless, if you look just a few verses later, Paul encourages us work out our salvation with fear & trembling & that God is at work in us to give us the desire & ability to accomplish His desires (vs 13).  So those times when you have a strange desire to help someone else, to take the low road & defer to someone else, to consider God’s preferences – consider those moments to be divine interruptions & even inspiritations.  These are moments when the Holy Spirit is helping you to have the same mind as Christ!  Any suggestions on getting better at being humble?  😉

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBpldBh346w]

Philippians – we’re BACK!!

Hello to everyone who is enjoying the Philippians exploration!  We’re going to be talking about Philip 2 in chapel next week, so I’d encourage you to to read chapter 2 (maybe one time a day).  Specifically, we’ll be looking at verses 5-11.  If you’re really into it, I’d encourage you to pick up RT Kendall’s book on it.  This book will blow your eyebrows off – if they’re non-bushy.  😉

Anyways, the book is PHENOMENAL!!!  Here’s the link for the book:  http://www.amazon.com/Imitating-Christ-R-T-Kendall/dp/1599790556/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1221595352&sr=8-1

fun with philippians!

Ok, looking at Philippians over the last week or so has been an interesting excursion.  From the feedback I’ve gotten from people in the “suggested exercises”, it seems like there’s lots of interest & enthusiasm for many different verses through this little book.  But something I’ve been looking into are the verses at the end of chapter 1 & beginning of chapter 2 – specifically 1:21-2:4. 

Fascinating interplay between Paul’s decisions, what he proposes to us & then how this reflect or contrast Jesus’ major choices.  We talk about these things in Chapel on Tues & I think you’ll find it very challenging. 

Some things to consider, for your suggested exercises:

  1. Paul says in 1:21 that to live is Christ & to die is gain.  What do you think this means?
  2. How do you see yourself in light of the community of your co-workers?  How do you see yourself in the community of your family?  How do you see yourself in the community of your living arrangements (apt, house, neighborhood, condo, townhouse, . . . . )?  How do you see yourself in light of the community of your church?
  3. In Phil 2:2-4, what is the most difficult thing for you to do in this list?  Take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit to help you with this area.

Here’s something to ponder:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiXUmN1X21Y

Philip. feedback on “homework” and “s.e.” for next week

Seems like the word “homework” still has that negative feeling to it that we all thought of from school.  So, let’s adjust our terminology to make all feathers lay flat & to smooth out all the bunched up undies.  Rather than “homework”, we’ll use the term “suggested exercises”.  Okee dokee?

Here’s what peeps have passed along so far:

Favs:

2:12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

2:13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
4:4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!

 

4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

 

Themes:

Rejoicing in the Lord, and encouragements to be mindful of Christ.

Suffering with Christ

Finishing / Completion

Servanthood

Be Thankful & Pray

Remain in Unity concerning the Gospel

 

 

3. HARD TO DIGEST VERSES

Philippians 3:3-6 (New King James Version)

please note that this isn’t all of the feedback – just a few responses.  Thanks SO much for participating!  🙂

 Here are some suggested exercises to prep for next week’s Philippians lesson:

1. Re-read chapter 2
2. What 2-3 verses stand out most to you in chap. 2 and why?
3. What does 2:5-11 mean to you?

4. What do you think Paul means when he says to workout your salvation with fear and trembling in verse 12?