October 29, 2011

Prove It - Philippians 2

What song do you have stuck in your head right now? Right now, for me, it's that country song, "... I'm an Indian outlaw, half Cherokee and Choctaw, my baby, she's a Chippewa, she's a one of a kind...". I gotta confess, I love that song! It's cheesy, but so catchy and it has the Seminole Warchant in it, so you really can't go wrong there. (:

Why does a mind get stuck on phrases and strings of words? Is it from overexposure? Do the synapses in our brain replay tunes for a specific reason? Stick with me here for a minute with the segue...

Do some bible verses get stuck in our head because we need to listen to them (internally) over and over until we understand them? For me, the answer is yes! Meditation -- thinking on God's Word -- keeps my heart in a teachable state.

As part of the blogging bible study in Philippians, I've read over chapter 2 a couple of times and verses 14-16 (especially 15) and 22 are on repeat in my mind.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.

But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.

Verses 14-16 are a challenge to a lifestyle of purity of heart. I confess that this is a struggle for me, just as it was for the Philippians. We are all sinners, but we have been saved by God's grace through Jesus so that we may be DIFFERENT, holy, and dare I say... righteous. I want to be appear as a light in the world. I do not want to be a candle hidden under a basket (Luke 11). I want to hate the perverse things of our generation: acceptance of homosexuality, abortion, greed, abandonment of widows and orphans. I want to "love the sinner and hate the sin", as the saying goes. Right now I feel like my lifestyle is more of "love the sinner, be indifferent about their sin", and I pray that I choose a more narrow path in obedience to Christ.

I also included verse 22 because it reflected Paul's challenge to "prove yourselves". Timothy served faithfully as a young pastor with Paul, and Paul cites his "proven worth". I want to note here that our service and faith are not so that other people will notice. No. We work for the Lord. However, believers should be reliable. We should be dependable. We should be proven. Again, I feel like I fall short in this area. I confess again that I flake out when I should be serving. I've commited to playing with our worship team at church and have yet to pick up my guitar but a few times since Emmy was born. I feel led to serve in the nursery as well but haven't troubled myself to sign up and do the simple paperwork. I know that doing these things won't bring me into a closer relationship to my God, and I hope that these confessions don't seem like self-flagellation, but this is a truth in my life right now.

I am called to service. I am called to be proven. I am not called to a life of laziness or excuses or fear. I am called to be worthy of the gospel. And I know that by meditating on these verses, the Holy Spirit will give me the strength needed to live, love and serve in faith.

October 27, 2011

Fire in the Belly

Ever feel like you're just keep your head above water? It seems that over the past two weeks, I can't get anything accomplished. I'm just barely keeping Emmy clothed, bathed, nursed and getting dinner on the table. My weeks seem to be an endless cycle of food shopping and laundry and somehow letting the time get away from me.

I have bible study blogs to write.
I have a guest room and garage to unpack and make lovely.
I have care packages to mail.
I have family to keep in touch with.
I have to fill the tires in the new jogging stroller with air before we can use it.
I have to make butterbeer and pumpkin pasties for my husband.
I have sewing projects that desperately need attention.
I have to make an appointment to reapply to grad school.
... and miles to go before I sleep.

I'm not complaining. I have a good life. I just need to get MOVING. Wake up earlier, drink coffee, turn off the tv, radio, computer, do whatever it takes to be productive.

So here I go.

Did I mention that Emmy is maybe a month or two away from walking on her own? Maybe that's where all my time is going these days :)

October 24, 2011

Catching Up! (Philippians 1)

Dear me! Not having legitimately-owned internet for the past month has been a little frustrating and more than a little painful on my eyes... cue memory of me trying to pay all of our bills online on my smartphone (rabbit trail: I have phoneaphobia and HATE talking on the phone, especially to strangers. Therefore, trying to do everything online.)

Anyway, here are my thoughts and reflections on chapters 1 of the book of Philippians, as a part of my friend Abigail's blogging bible study.

Chapter 1

There is SO much here. This chapter is made of 30 verses, and most of them are actually pretty short little snippets that all run together into one long howdy/let's catch up/blessings to you intro. I think that this may be Paul's most gentle, loving and tender letter to believers. It's evident just how much he actually loves these people.

In my life, I have friends who have shared serious life experiences with me, and although we may not be in daily contact, I feel affectionate toward them when I think about the memories we share. I want the best for them. I send them emails or text messages saying "I miss you" and "I love you" and "remember when...". This is Paul's attitude for the church in Philippi.

"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all..." (1:3-4)

"For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus." (1:7-8)

"Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again." (1:25-26)

Can you feel the love tonight? It's there! Paul's heartbeat is for them in the love of Jesus. In the last verse posted above, he even explains to them that although dying would be a favorable option at that point in his life (jailed, persecuted, getting old), he chooses to fight on and live on so that he can help the Philippians come to a more mature faith. The New King James Version of verse 24 says that "to remain in the flesh is more needful for you."

Which has me thinking...

Do I have true affection for believers that I have helped to disciple?

Do I pray for them and ask things of God on their behalf?

Am I willing to sacrifice my desires if needed to see them flourish in the faith?

Do I remember and pray for those imprisoned for the gospel? It's a reality in our world, folks! (Colossians 4:18, Matthew 25:36)

Help me, Lord, to remember these things. And in doing so, may my "conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ..." (1:27).

October 5, 2011

Intro to Philippians

We're all moved into our new house! That is, to say, all of our worldly goods are smashed into a few rooms and we somehow live in the midst of it. I'm organizing/decorating one room at a time, and it's actually going quite well. I have a million things to do, errands to run, and pictures to post, but I want to carve out a little time for something more important: bible study. My friend Abigail is blogging a bible study through Philippians here, and I want to be faithful to actually STUDY the Bible - to know it back and forth so that its powerful message about Jesus can change me to be more like Him. Too often I find myself just flipping open my Bible to a psalm or a proverb to find a thought that I can hang on to for strength or inspiration for that day. There's nothing wrong with that, and it's a good practice, but I feel convicted to be more disciplined in studying God's Word.

With all that said, please please please join us if you are in the same boat and need to study the Bible!


Intro to Philippians

Our first exercise was to read the entire (it's not that big) letter and give our thoughts on the main themes. When I finished reading, I was a little overwhelmed by how new the book felt, even after studying it a few times in the past few years. Mostly though, I couldn't help but feel how personal it was. This was a real live man writing a real live letter to a real live church. Paul really cared for the church at Philippi and it shows.

Rising Above Circumstances

Paul is in jail for preaching the gospel. It's obvious that while in his chains, Paul had a lot on his mind concerning the church at Philippi. He's concerned about their spiritual health, their growth and the way that they live their individual lives. He describes a small bit of God-orchestrated chaos: how other believers in prison are now preaching Christ as well, some insincerely, "intending to make my chains more painful to me" (1:17) but some from pure motives. Either way, the gospel is being spread and Paul uses this example in his life to inspire the Philippians to live boldly -- without fear or shame.

Paul also describes his two fellow "slaves", Timothy and Epaphroditus. They had difficult personal circumstances as well. Even through sickness and loneliness/isolation, they remained faithful to their work (2:19-30). Again, he reminds the Philippians to rise above their circumstances by encouraging them to focus on eternal goals, not earthly "shameful" things (3:17-20).


Have you ever had a difficult day... week... month... and a fifteen minute chat with another believer just lifted your spirit and gave you strength from just their presence? I know a few incredible older women that have this role in my life, and this is who Paul reminds me of in Philippians. The whole book resonates with "may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ..." and I wish I could've seen the reaction of the church at the end of the audible reading of this letter. I am uplifted by reading the book! It points to Jesus, the cornerstone of our faith, and shows that daily Christian living is made joyful by remembering Him. I especially like how he reminds us/them of God's promise of eternity in 3:21, "He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control".

There is SO much in this book! I am excited about breaking it down a little more crayola-style. For now, though, I will meditate on the entirety of the letter and keep it simple:

1) Live for Christ, no matter what the circumstances are (and in my life, can we just call circumstances Army?) 

2) His Word and His promise are our encouragement. He will continue to be with us until we reach eternity.

I hope you get the chance to meditate on any Bible passage this week! Drink of the living water He gives :)