Tag Archives: Apostle Paul

Hey dads…what the heck?

In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul gives a long list of the physical things he endured as a follower of Christ (these things are the “suffering” spoken of in Acts 9:16); at the end of the list he writes, “I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches”. Paul is NOT talking about the buildings, or even the institution of the church- he IS talking about the people that make up the church. As I approach year 11 of vocational ministry, I understand this latter “suffering” more and more.

My heart is heavy today dealing with families in which the father has simply jettisoned his spiritual responsibility to promote and proclaim the gospel of Jesus to his family and spouse.

Last night in our Family Life Small Group we discussed the concept of biblical fatherhood. Rob Rienow said something like, “as the father goes, so goes the family; as the family goes, so goes the community, as the community goes, so goes the nation.”

As we lament and lament our current political climate and choices, maybe it’s time that we, the church (the people AND the institution) take a good, hard, honest look at what we are doing and not doing to hold fathers to the standard that God does.

To paraphrase Paul in Philippians 2- “Does Jesus matter to you? Do you find any comfort in knowing him? Are you living with the Holy Spirit? Is your heart receptive at all to God? Make my joy complete and lead your families spiritually. Because picking up the pieces of what you’ve shattered in your pursuit of self, talking with your wives as they cry and watching your kids fall into destructive patterns is getting really, really old.”


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Saul and Ananias- Contrasting Responses

A read through Acts 9:1-19 reveals two people both spoken directly to by God.

The first is Saul, on his way to Damascus to find and arrest Christians. Instead, he encounters Jesus on the road and is immediately obedient to his instructions.

The second is Ananias, a follower of Jesus in Damascus. His immediate response to his encounter with Jesus is fear, argument, and a general attitude of unwillingness to acts upon Jesus’s clear instruction to embrace someone that we’d likely consider far from God.

A few weeks ago, friend Kiersten DeLong posted part of David Platt’s book, “Counterculture” on her Facebook page:

This, I am convinced, is a needed word for every Christian (and prospective Christian) in our culture today. Gone are the days when it was socially beneficial to be in church at the beginning of the week. Gone are the days when it was publicly acceptable to follow Christ ever other day of the week. Here are the days when holding fast to the gospel, actually believing the Bible, and putting it into practice will mean risking your reputation, sacrificing your social status, disagreeing with your closest family and friends, jeopardizing your economic security and earthly stability, giving away your possessions, leaving behind the accolades of the world, and (depending on where and how God leads you)) potentially losing your life.

This exactly what the Lord was calling both Paul and Ananias to in Acts 9, and it’s exactly what Christians in 2016 are called to.

Like Saul, we are often on a quest to chase down and convict the “heathen other”. May we encounter Jesus on the road. Then, stumbling into Damascus, blinded by the God who will not remain bound by our own faulty understandings, misconceptions and assumptions- may we humbly submit to those who lay hands on us, intent on removing the scales from our eyes. As awareness and reality assaults our senses let us go out and lead others to Him.

Like Ananias, we often respond in fear to God’s clear commands to love those who persecute us. What’s worse, is that we don’t even face persecution from people, they are simply different than us. They simply sin differently than we do. Or speak a different language or have a different skin color or culture. May we humble ourselves to the greater picture of God’s grace and mercy and realize the God has more in store for us and with us, than just us.

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A Lament for Thursday

I am frustrated with so-called Christians who’ve essentially replaced the God of the Bible with the god of American sub-cultural christianity. They long for the good old days when the church had positional authority: power & prestige; when they had a place at the table. But, because they were more interested in political power, they failed to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

Christians are absolutely allowed to interject themselves into the conversation. But…how? And, for what purpose?

When Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen, it was for the furtherance of the gospel. It seems to me that America’s Christians often exercise their rights as “their rights”, forgetting that they were bought with a price- this means for all intents and purposes, they have no rights in light of the Gospel. We are to give up what is “ours” for the sake of Christ, and for the sake of the “other”. This is why Paul wrote, “consider others better than yourselves.”

While there are certainly cultural things that we may stand up and speak against, it is time that we, as Christians, understand that our country has moved on. We’ve lost the cultural battle. And because for so long we were used to getting our way, we are now facing exile. And exilic believers act differently- read Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles in Jeremiah 29.

What’s more, Jeremiah 49:1 says, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Has Israel no sons? Has Israel no heir? Why them has Molech taken possession of Gad? Why do his people live in its towns?'”

People can lament about the “loss of our nation” all they want. I read the words of boomers and builders as they lament about what’s happened to “their country”. And the answer is so simple.

They were more interested in securing for themselves financial blessings and success in post-war America than they were in passing on the faith. The church, especially the conservative Christians, became enamored with political power- in short, they “gained the whole world and forfeited their souls.”

And now, far too many of those who call themselves “Christian” support a bully politically who doesn’t even believe what they claim to support. And, it’s possible that this person will win.

What needs to happen is not a return to the good old days when evangelicals reigned and the church was listened to.

What needs to happen is for people within the church to remember that God changes hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit and that we are to be heralds of that Gospel.

 

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Romans

Romans is the story of God’s sovereignty to both Jew and Gentile. It details how He has revealed himself through creation, the law, and finally (and completely) in Christ. The below image was created using each of my chapter summaries, dating back through mid-October.

Romans

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Greetings

Romans 16I’m recommending Phoebe to you, she’s a deacon from Cenchreae. Receive and help her.

Priscilla & Aquilla- they risked their lives for me. And, the church meeting in their home, especially Epenctus, the first convert in Asia.

Mary- a hard worker.

Andronicus & Junia- co-prisoners with me, and both Christians before I was.

Ampilatus- a co-worker and dear friend.

Urbanus & Stachys- co-worker, dear friend.

Apelles- standing firm in Christ.

The household of Aristobulus.

Herodion- a fellow Jew.

The household of Narcissus.

Typhena, Tryphosa & Persis- hard-working women and dear friends.

Rufus & his mother- chosen in the Lord.

Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brothers and sisters with them.

Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister and all of the Lord’s people with them.

Greet one another with a holy kiss, the churches of Christ salute you.

Watch for those who seek to create division, their teachings are contrary to the Good News you’ve heard. Stay away from them. They don’t serve God; they serve themselves. By their slick words they deceive the naive among them. We’ve all heard about your obedience and we are joy-filled because of it. I just want you to be wise about the good and innocent of evil. God will crush Satan.

Timothy, Lucius, Jason and Josipater send greetings.

I, Tertius the scribe, send my greetings.

Gaius, the hospitable one, sends his greetings. Erastus, the public works director sends his regards, as does our brother Quartus.

Now to God, the establisher of the Good News  (that Jesus Christ is Lord and available through faith alone) to the Gentiles- a news once hidden, but now fully being revealed and made known through the writings as His command), to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

-Romans 16

 

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The Gentiles and the Good News

Romans 15Because we are the strong, we ought to bear with those who are weak among us.

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Disputable Matters

Romans 14There are disputable matters, things not worth arguing about. While we differ on them, they have no bearing on salvation. We are to accept one another when it comes to them. Continue reading

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