Final Greetings: Colossians 4:7-15

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FarewellTychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts, with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all things which are happening here. Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him), and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis.  Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you. Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.” Colossians 4:7-15

There’s a joke that goes around in the church life, especially if you’ve ever spent time on staff.

“Ministry would be great if it weren’t for the people.”

We laugh because people can be problems and people have problems. But ministry is just a fancy-pants word that means “service.” If there are no people, there is no one to serve.

Pastor Brian Wood used to say:

“Ministry is people.”

He is right.

People come and people go. I’ve been serving since 1996 and I’ve seen almost all there is to see. People who you thought were faithful have left like Demas. People who you had no confidence in like Mark (Acts 15:37-39) became invaluable (2 Timothy 4:11). Continue reading

Songwriting – The Musician’s Sermon

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An Old Music Stand

An Old Music Stand by MTSOFan on Flickr

Do you think the lyrics in church music are important? How accurate should the lyrics be? How much artistic license should be allowed?

recent discussion on my Facebook Page about a line in a song that has been bugging me prompted much of this post.

At the last Calvary Chapel Worship Leader’s Conference  I went to in 2008 I took a songwriting class from Brenton Brown. This is what I remember from that sesson.

Every song is a sermon.

The chorus is the thesis statement.

All of the verses should support that thesis.

In the list of spiritual gifts the one that is most applicable to the worship leader and church songwriter is teaching. Continue reading

Hymn-Theology: I Once Was Lost, But Now I’m Found

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Hymn Theology Square

I once was lost but now I’m found.

Was blind, but now I see.

“Amazing Grace”

John Newton  (1779)

I first heard an a capella version of “Amazing Grace” by Meryl Streep at the end of the movie Silkwood (1983). I fell in love with it. I don’t know why.  I imagine the lyrics touched my soul in a way I couldn’t yet understand, not having converted to Christianity; besides which I was just a child.

I’m not sure why I waited this long to cover this song in the Hymn-Theology series, perhaps because the lyrics resonate with my testimony.  2013 marks my twenty-first year as a Christian and it is hard to believe that God has brought me so far from what was my statistical fate. Continue reading

“I Will Bless the Lord” from the CD “Come Away”

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I Will Bless the Lord (CCLI #4570318)

ImageThe Lord gave me this song early in my writing career. Ben Camp, my piano teacher at the time, put the chords to this song, as he did to most of the songs on this CD.

Often we think we should praise the Lord when we feel good, but it is just the opposite. When we choose to worship, is when He fills us with His Spirit.

He is worthy of our praise and that is enough reason to worship. The Psalms are a good source of prayers and songs that David and the other Psalmists wrote to express themselves to the Lord. Whenever I am down, I turn to David, the worship leader of worship leaders.

Here is a video of the recorded version:

Continue reading

Communication on Fire? Stop, Drop, And Roll

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www.reverendfun.com

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.  James 3:6

Are you the smackdown king in your marriage? Do you have a blackbelt in Tongue-Foo?  Do you have a quick, witty, albeit cuttng, remark on hand for quick and easy use?

Mercier and I are both adept at making the snide remark or two; however, our goal is to maintain healthy communication.  (I say “goal” because, much like yourself, we are only human and are bound to make mistakes.)

When I observe couples engaging in this sort of tit-for-tat war (when really a simple answer would suffice), I am reminded the fire prevention public service announcements during Saturday cartoons: Stop, Drop, and Roll Continue reading

Grace Be With You: Colossians 4:16-18

Grace... by Sharon, on Flick

Grace… by Sharon, on Flick

Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” This salutation by my own hand—Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen. ‭Colossians‬ ‭4‬:‭16-18

This letter (epistle) to the church of Colossee (and to the church of Laodiceans and to us) ends with “Grace be with you.” It began with

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Col 1:1b

Grace, unmerited favor, comes to us after we’ve made peace with God, not that it was our work because we know “He himself is our Peace.” from Ephesians 2:14. Yet, we have to acknowledge the end of the war with God – that’s peace.

Take heed to the ministry.

We need God’s Grace, and His Presence to be with us to fulfill our ministry. It’s not always easy and it’s not always fun. I’ve experienced church breakups and ministry splits. I’ve seen people get divorced and leave the church. And when people leave the Lord, sometimes they leave you, too.

Remember my chains.

There are many Christians in this world and throughout history who have not had it as easy as the American church. Though we are ridiculed, sued, and downcast, we have yet to be thrown in prison, have our homes taken from us, been beaten or tortured, or killed simply because of our faith.

Grace be with you.

The one who believes they earned salvation doesn’t need grace. The rest of us know we need it.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

There is no better benediction than “grace be with you.

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.” Philemon 1:25

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. ” Romans 16:24

“Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.” Galatians 6:18

Questions for Further Thought:

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Walk in Wisdom: Colossians 4:5-6

Danger - High Surf by Bridget Willard

Danger – High Surf by Bridget Willard

“Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” Colossians 4:5-6

Walking in wisdom is our call but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. The world wants us to walk in its direction, be concerned with its issues. Candidly, more and more even here in America we face ridicule or lawsuits for expressing our beliefs. But I digress.

Paul says to “walk in wisdom toward those who are outside.” Who’s outside? It’s safe to say the people outside are not inside. In this context, he is referring to the church and the world outside of the church: the secular world.

Redeem the Time

Something that has been used but has some value can be redeemed like recycling aluminum cans or plastic bottles. Time is one of the only unsustainable resources we have. Time cannot be manufactured. Rather, it must be spent wisely. Be wise in how you spend your time and with whom. There are many warnings in the Book of Proverbs about foolish versus wise behavior. Continue reading

Meanwhile Praying For Us: Colossians 4:3-4

IMG_7306“meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.” Colossians 4:3-4 

The life of a Christian worker is not a safe, cushy life. No, it’s quite the opposite. We don’t seem to market it that way. Even I thought it would be like Disneyland – “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

As a Christian for over 20 years, having served in several ministries since 1996, I have suffered in every way save physical harm. Many overseas missionaries face threats to their health, belongings, and even their lives.

One of the things we should pray for is that the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit prospers.

Pray that God Would Open a Door

Not everyone’s heart is open. In Acts it says that God opened the heart of Lydia. In Ephesians Paul prays that the “eyes of our hearts would be enlightened.” (Eph 1:18)

“Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.”  Acts 16:14

Continue reading

Continue Earnestly In Prayer: Colossians 4:2

Prayer is the language by Leland Francisco, on Flickr

Prayer is the language by Leland Francisco, on Flickr

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving

 Colossians 4:2 

Do you wonder why Paul has to tell the church (us) to continue earnestly in prayer? Why do we have to be vigilant?

Jesus even had to explain that we always should pray and not give up because even an unjust judge will give into persistence. (Luke 18:1-8)

Firstly, all of the things requested of us in previous chapters (loving one another, submitting to authority, being just to one another, etc.) can only happen by a supernatural enabling by the Holy Spirit. That only comes by prayer. It’s very important that we rely on Him even to obey.

“…for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” Acts 17:28

 

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Secondly, we need to be thankful. Thankfulness is a key part of our relationship with Christ and helps our perspective remain true.

 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

If we know in our minds that we need to rely upon Him, then why do we fail in practice? This is the vigilance that is lacking. We need to be aware.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

We are quick to give up. I believe it’s because we question our worthiness, waiver in our faith, and get discouraged.

Questioning the Right

It’s hard to be persistent if you question whether or not you have a right to your request. But we know that since the veil was torn top to bottom at the death on the cross, all men and women who accept Jesus have the right to be in the Holy of Holies. Continue reading

Just and Fair: Colossians 4:1

Justice sends mixed messages by Dan4th Nicholas, on Flickr

Justice sends mixed messages by Dan4th Nicholas, on Flickr

Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. 

Colossians 4:1

Just and fair.

With God we don’t want justice and fairness because it means we would receive punishment for sin. This is the Good News, that Christ died in our place. We get grace and mercy instead of justice and fairness. It’s a good deal on our end.

But among us, as we deal with one another, God always asks us to be just and fair. There are many proverbs dedicated to this very truth. We know that God defends the defenseless.

Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight. Proverbs 11:11

Continue reading

We’re All Under Authority: Colossians 3:18-25

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality. ~ Colossians 3:18-25

Big Family 1

Big Family 1 by Peter Kaminski, on Flickr

Ah. The family order. Some resent this passage and others see the freedom that lies within it. I’ve been on both sides.

In fact, I have been a child, am a wife, and currently am also a bondservant (modern day worker).

This world has order in it. Why do we presume any authority is bad or for our harm?

In fact, though I enjoy being spontaneous, it is order that gives me comfort and freedom. How so? If you make plans, then you are prepared – prepared enough to deviate. Those plans could be around an event, financial, or chore-related. Planning and spontaneity are not mutually exclusive just like love and submission are not.

Wives

Submit is a hard word for many women these days to stomach, yet utter and apply. Women often picture some outlandish “Stepford Wife” scenario or think of cultish behavior. (My standard disclaimer about physical abuse goes here. Run away. Call the police. Go to a women’s shelter.)

I was married at 20. Did I mention I was a feminist? Yes, some of that extreme thinking has had to be moderated a bit. I’ve written frequently about marriage from my perspective.

Though I am a strong woman, a leader in many areas, I have learned to submit to my husband and guess what? He supports me 100%. Dare I say he encourages me to become even more of a leader? I am proud that he spurs me on to love and good deeds. I have him read every one of these posts before I publish.

I’d also like to point out the word “own.” It says to submit to your “own husband.” By pure logic, you can surmise that women aren’t generically to submit to men, just their “own husband.”

Husbands / Fathers

“Love and do not be bitter.” Wow. That’s a heart issue and is a much greater challenge than submission. What a telling thing it is that husbands have to be commanded to love their wives. This love is action-based, not feeling based. Look at the actions described in 1 Cor 13 below:

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~ 1 Corinthinans  13:4-7

Fathers are also told not to provoke their children. Have you seen provocative behavior? Harsh or unfair treatment? Unrealistic expectations? Withholding of affection or words of love and encouragement? I can see all of that as discouraging behavior. Continue reading

Whatever You Do: Colossians 3:17

Whatever You Want by Memphis CVB, on Flickr

Whatever You Want by Memphis CVB, on Flickr

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. ~ Colossians 3:17

Whatever. It’s a dismissive word when used as a response to correction. Teenagers are famous for saying it. In this context, however, especially since it follows the word “and,” we need to refer to the previous verse.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. ~ Colossians 3:16

Ah. So then we know what proceeds Paul’s advice to the church – the richly dwelling word of God and singing that naturally overflows.

We could replace the word “and” with “so.”

“singing with grace to the Lord so whatever you do…”

Since, you’ve allowed the Word to take up your thoughts and change how you talk with one another, also allow this to effect whatever else you do.

Whatever You Do

This is my favorite down-to-earth verse because it helps me as an employee. Many people believe that “the ministry” is when you’re paid by the church as a full-time job (been there, done that). That makes it very easy to serve the Lord in whatever you’re doing. It’s like asking you to be happy in Disneyland. Continue reading

Let the Word Dwell: Colossians 3:16

Bible by Savio Sebastian, on Flickr

Bible by Savio Sebastian, on Flickr

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Colossians 3:16

The Christian life is often likened to a race, a marathon of sorts. But reading the Bible shouldn’t be. We’re often obsessed with reading plans and deadlines. Check. Check. Check! I read my (verse, chapter, book) quota today. Off with the rest of my tasks!

My challenge in this post, and with them all, is for you (us) to consider the word usage and placement and meaning. This is the inductive study method. Observe, interpret, apply. Repeat.

Straightaway in this passage I notice the verbs: dwell, teaching, admonishing, singing. In many ways this outlines a progression or the natural result of allowing the Word to affect your life.

Let the Word Dwell

The word, “let” is a verb that means to allow. This implies that you, as the believer, have a choice regarding this command. You should let the Word dwell in you. Make the choice. Allow it to dwell.

Dwell means to reside or occupy. To allow the Word of God to occupy “you” means to let it be the sole tenant in your very being – in your soul – in your heart. Let the word occupy your heart. The Word gives life to our conscience.

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 

See, without the Word occupying our being, our conscience can become dull. A dull conscience is what leads to us not putting off the old man, not putting on Christ.

But wait; there’s more. Continue reading

Put on Love: Colossians 3:12-15

Love is a Fruit by Leland Francisco, on Flick

Love is a Fruit by Leland Francisco, on Flick

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 

Colossians 3:12-15

In virtually every wedding ceremony, we hear the list of love from 1 Corinthians 13 and many of us have heard sermons where we are told the word “love” can be replaced with the name “Jesus” as He is the only one who has perfectly demonstrated those virtues.

Peace and love go hand in hand. Allowing the peace of God to rule in your hearts is conditioned upon putting on love. Many times, believers say they have peace with God yet harbor jealousy, bitterness, and unforgiveness. This letter to the church of Colosee sets out to put the record straight.

It is important for us to read the word of God (some people like reading plans) in the whole. I prefer to read books (I recently did Proverbs and am now in Psalms) in different translations because I find my brain skips over things “I know” when I only read the translation (NKJV) that I’m most familiar with. The Word is effective to work in you to transform you with your belief.

For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13

Just as, by an act of your will, you have to put off the former things, believers have to put on the Christ things. It’s true that living by a checklist doesn’t work, but as you think about who Christ is and when you allow the Word of God to do its work in you, your very nature will change. Continue reading