Re: Verse reading – 1 Timothy 1:1-19 (day three)
“The goal of this command is love.”
Paul calibrated these instructions to the baseline of love–not power, not social influence, not even more “acceptable” standards such as doctrinal purity.  Paul echoes here what he revealed to the Corinthians: The most noble aspirations and accomplishments, unless they spring from love, will evaporate without a trace.  If the church will ever speak with power and influence, if it will ever gain a hearing for correct doctrine, it will do so only by leading its people to become the kinds of persons who love–who “will the good for the other,” which is the definition of love.  For Paul, love wasn’t a good way to get the job of church growth done; love was the job.  Are you becoming the kind of person who wills the good for the other above all else?


Posted in Instructions to the Church | Leave a comment

Instruction Matters

Re: Verse reading – 1 Timothy 1:1-19 (day two)
They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. (vs. 7) You know these kind of people. The kind who have a vehement conviction about something, but when pressed to articulate why they have nothing to ground their argument. We are to be a passionate people, who can share, defend, argue with love all of the attributes of our faith. Instruction matters. Your spiritual development matters. If you are not already, find a Sunday School class that will challenge you and cause you to grow. Enroll in Christianity Explored to deepen your understanding of Mark’s gospel. Join a Circle of Six where you can find a greater appreciation for God’s Word. Paul’s words to Timothy regarding his instruction continue…I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight. (vs. 18)

Posted in Instructions to the Church | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

2nd Ephesians

Re: Verse reading–1 Timothy 1:1-19 (day one)
“I shall remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; for a wide door of effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries”--1 Corinthians 16:9.  “Timothy. . .as I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus, in order that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines”–1 Timothy 1:3.   The first book of Ephesians, Paul writes TO them.  The second book of Ephesians (aka 1 Timothy) Paul writes ABOUT them, about the difficulties that will face their new young pastor.  Ephesus was never an easy place to build a church.  From the very start (no honeymoon) Timothy faced false teachers and the vocal, hostile opposition.  Paul will later call ministry (there, and in general), “a fight”. (v 18) As you read these words this week, reflect on the difficulties that we face as we unite to build a New Testament church in the center of this city.  Easy?  No!  Noble?  Necessary? Yes!

Posted in Instructions to the Church | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Submission, Spirit

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 5:21-33, 6:1-9 (day seven)
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”-v 21.  Submission is a Spiritual ethic.  Impossible without Him.  It is one (and only one) of the indicators of Spirit-filled life that Paul lists in Ephesians 5:18-21.  Speaking to one another with songs. . .giving thanks for all things. . .being subject to one another–these are the outward proofs that the Spirit of God has entered and filled your heart.  Does your life evidence these things?  They do not come by force of will or application of effort!  Only the Spirit can produce such outcomes.  “The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God; for it does not subject (same word) itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.”–Romans 8:6-7.  Those who ignore the basic step of being filled with the Spirit will find submission to be undesirable and impossible.

Posted in Instructions to the Church | Tagged | Leave a comment

Spirit-filled, ego-freed

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 5:21-33, 6:1-9 (day six)
“be subject to one another in the fear of Christ”–v. 21.  Submission is a lightning-rod issue in this age.  People (all of us, not just women) resist the loss of autonomy and self-determination that it implies.  Demanding our rights (and feeling entitled to do so) blinds us to the wisdom of this eg0-displacing step.  Those who submit to Christ and are subsequently filled with His Spirit (rather than self–see v. 18) find freedom.  NO PRISON is worse than self!  ”There is nothing so pathetic as a person determined to be crucified on the cross of personal grievance”–Abraham Lincoln.  And, NO FREEDOM is sweeter than to serve God and others without competition or anxiety.  When Paul speaks about family (wives submit to your husbands, husbands love your wives, children obey your parents) he assumes we already have some  experience of this ”more excellent way”.  Ego is not my savior.  It is, very often, a trouble causing tyrant.

Posted in Instructions to the Church | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Miss the Gospel

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 5:21-33, 6:1-9 (day five)
It is easy for me to read these words and let my thoughts race towards expected behaviors and attitudes spelled out for husbands and wives in this passage.  “This will be Hard for me to do!” “Will this really make me Happy?”  Seems that this puts “me” as the focus of the text.  Not a hopeful perspective.

But, if I see the Mission and Work of Jesus in this text, then something amazing happens.  I am thankful and humble because of His title- Savior (v23).  I am reminded of His Great Love and Sacrifice (v25).  I am aware that His intention was to make people (made dirty, ugly, and depraved by sin) beautiful, clean, and Holy (v26).  I see His great eternal hope for humanity (v27).  I then, am filled with the same optimism and eagerness in my marriage and relationships with others.  I have a completely changed perspective “Filled with the Hope of the Gospel”.

Posted in Instructions to the Church | Tagged | Leave a comment

Leave, and Cleave

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 5:21-33, 6:1-9 (day four)
In Genesis 2:24, it says “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”  Sounds like God is talking about the marriage relationship, doesn’t it?  He is actually talking about Christ and the Church.  The role of Christ in the Church is a great mystery.  During the time of the old covenant, God’s people knew nothing of the church…they knew nothing of the relationship of love, respect, protection, and leadership between Christ and the Church.  With the new covenant, God revealed His plan for the Church and for drawing all men to Him.  Everything changed.  Not only did the Church change, but so did marriages.  We began to see how the relationship should look like.  Husbands should love their wives as they loved themselves and wives should respect their husbands.  From the beginning, God has had a plan.  Are we honoring God with our marriage?

Posted in Instructions to the Church | Tagged | Leave a comment


Re: Verse reading—Ephesians 5:21-6:9 (day three)
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” 
“Household codes” were a common feature of ancient writings on society.  Paul simply re-frames the code in a Christian context, grounding it in Christ’s person.  So he wasn’t writing provocatively.  Any controversy comes from the ink spilled and breath spent attempting to excuse Paul, or to re-interpret him for modern ears, or to save him from himself, or to give up on him altogether.  But in our rush to defend our hard-won enlightenment, we fail to do what is necessary: Sit quietly and listen to the word of God as penned by Paul.  The harshness of the words as they fall on our ears has more to do with our resistance to the shaping power of the Bible than it does with any sophistication we think we have gained by living in these times.

Posted in Instructions to the Church | Tagged , | 1 Comment


Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 5:21-33, 6:1-9 (day two)
“After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-for we are members of his body.” (vs. 29-30) We don’t take care of ourselves as we should. This isn’t a new profound thought, but a pretty obvious observation. There is a large industry for fitness that many have bought into, but for the most part we tend to be overweight and out of shape. Do you find any correlation to the family here? Paul asserts that no one hates their own body, but our lifestyles would certainly put that to the test. And if we aren’t willing to spend time taking care of ourselves why would we invest time on others? This can be remedied both by physical conditioning and spiritual discipline. Take care of God’s Temple (your body) and take care of each other.

Posted in Instructions to the Church | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Children and fathers

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 5:21-33, 6:1-9 (day one)  
Statistics say that 1/3 of American children grow up in biological father-absent homes.  Similar studies connect this reality to teen suicide, homelessness, and school drop outs. Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, exhibit empathy to others, and avoid high-risk behavior.  Science!  Scripture! ”Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”–Ephesians 6:4.  Children need fathers, depend on them for an upbringing, literally, “to nourish them up and out, from one level of maturity to the next.” No disrespect meant to single moms.  But, when a society ignores God’s laws regarding sex and marriage, our children pay the penalty.  “Paternity is a career that comes to you one fine morning without any inquiry as to your fitness for it.  That is why there are so many fathers who have children, but so few children who have fathers.”–Adlai Stevenson.

Posted in Instructions to the Church | Tagged , | Leave a comment