Imagine or What If

I must admit and I know this puts me in the minority but I do not like the song Imagine by John Lennon. Maybe I am just more of a Mccartney guy… What I do like though is the thought of imagining. Take 1 Peter 5:5 for example. In Peter’s letter, according to translations that use the Textus Receptus, he says that we should all submit to one another. Now you may dismiss this if you prefer translations that use the Majority Text but you would also have to throw out Luke 22:26 & 9:48, Mark 9:35 & 10:43, and possibly Galatians 3:28 and Romans 10:12 as well as all the passages that talk about loving and serving one another in Christ.

Anyway, on to the point… What if we loved and submitted to one another and gave preference to each other? What if we looked out for the best interest of others before ourselves? What if we thought, what does my brother or sister in Christ need? What if instead of thinking “how can I get” we thought “how can I give?” What if we actively sought out ways to bless people? What if we served the lost and hurting without expecting something, anything, in return? What if we trusted that some plant, some water, and God gives the increase? What if?

This is not meant to point fingers because honestly, we are all guilty at different times of not thinking biblically. I myself find it hard sometimes because I am tired and just want to worry about myself. I think that is why Paul said: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” It is not easy to think about and actually serve others but it is necessary.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

Just a thought,

Mike

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First Things First – Book

After much prayer, study, and many revisions I am happy to be able to present my new book First Things First, A Look at Colossians Chapter 3. The goal of this short book is to examine what it takes to be the fathers, husbands, wives, mothers, and employees we desire to be. It may seem odd to lump all of those into one book when there are so many books that are dedicated to each one of them but the purpose here is to understand that our role as husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, and employees first comes from our understanding of who we are in Christ.

The book contains fifteen short chapters that discuss among other things the problem we face in attempting to become who we desire to be, the role of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, our place in Christ, and some direction found in Scripture for husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, and employees.

I want to thank my wife who has suffered with me on this journey to put this out there and has been willing, to be honest with me about where I miss the mark at times. My prayer is that this book ignites in you a passion for Christ and an understanding of His love for you and that it spurs you towards what God has called you to be.

There are three links to choose from depending on your reading preferences. Please note that because WordPress.com does not allow me to host ePub or Mobi files you will be redirected when clicking the link. If you have any issues please contact me on the submission page.

There are no extras in the church

As Christians, it is easy to get caught up in wanting to do more, wanting to accomplish more for the Kingdom, and sometimes even wanting more recognition. We can start to think that in God’s amazing plan we are just extras who get a little screen time when needed in order to highlight a main character. That somehow, we are less than others and when God was passing out gifts He decided we would be fillers for someone else’s story. We can read Paul’s letters and wonder why we cannot be more like him. We can read about Peter in the Gospels getting off the boat and wonder if we will have or even can have such experiences. The list goes on and on and if we are not careful we can think that somehow, we are not as good as other Christians. Now, there are things that can hinder your growth as a Christian but for now, we are going to assume that you are doing what you need to do. We are going to be on the working assumption you are a redeemed, Spirit-filled, Christ loving child of God.

I want to look at Romans 16 which is the last chapter of Romans. The book of Romans covers many great topics like predestination, the message of the Gospel, fulfilled prophecy, liberty in love, and much more. One thing that is covered that can be overlooked if we are not careful is Paul’s closing where he commends or to use modern vocabulary, he gives a shout out to some people. In the closing of this amazing book Paul names twenty-six people and says to either greet them or recognizes them for their work. We do not have the space to cover all of them and maybe that would be good to do sometime but for now, we will just briefly look at a few.

Before we do it is important to reiterate again that there are no extra’s in God’s story. There are heroes for sure that stand out and these people should inspire us and drive us to more but their abilities still come from the same God who made us all. Even at that the “hero” we see is usually flawed, broken, and has failed more often than they have succeeded. The list in chapter 16 of Romans should inspire us because these are “average” people. These were everyday grocery shopping, mall going, Starbucks drinking, trying to get by people of the first century.

First on the list is Prisca and Aquila who are actually mentioned quite a bit in the Bible. They do not have any deep stories but they are mentioned six times in the New Testament. The longest episode is in Acts 18 where this couple takes in a young man who has just come to Christ. They take him in and explain the way of God more accurately. They discipled this young man who some believe went on to write the book of Hebrews. This average ordinary couple saw a need and fulfilled that need and for that, among other things, Paul says “Everyone need to greet these people when you see them because I love them and they have always been there for me.”

Skipping down one, Paul says to greet Mary who has worked very hard for you. There are a lot of Mary’s in our churches. They are the ones who do Sunday school for the kids every week. They are the ones who come in and clean the church when nobody is around. They are the ones praying daily for our pastors and our suffering. There are people in our churches working harder than most and you would never know it because not once do they ask to be recognized for their labors but without them, we would all suffer. Think about your toes for a minute. When is the last time you thought about how valuable your toes are? I read once that your toes come in contact with the ground about seventy-five percent of the time (75%). We take that for granted and we take so many people in our churches who are much more valuable than toes for granted too. When we come across a Mary we should be saying thank you to them and letting others know that this person is vital to the growth, success, and love in our church family.

Lastly, we will look at Andronicus and Junia. There is a lot of controversy around this one because some will argue that Junia was an Apostle which would be a big deal because she was a woman. I am not going to go there right now. Rather, let us just look at what Paul says and put it into modern terms. Have you ever met someone and asked them if they so and so? They say no and you respond with “What, they are amazing how do you now know them?” We all know someone who does not get nearly enough air time in conversation but deserves it more than we do. I am talking about people that when someone says, “you are awesome” you think “I am not so and so.” That was Andronicus and Junia. Paul says that this couple us noteworthy and in the Greek that word also means “well known, respected, and admired for past achievements.” Paul says these two these two are what it is about, and all the Apostles know this. I do not know another way to explain the significance of this. The Apostles who are the big guns give credit to this couple.

I know this is a rather short version of the list Paul gives but the point is that you are someone in God’s story. Maybe you come in early or stay late to stack chairs but without chairs, new people would not know where to sit. Maybe you vacuum but without you, there would not be clean floors and that is not only a little gross but distracting to people who are looking for reasons to not pay attention. Maybe you run a little blog and feel like no one is being helped by your words but someone somewhere out there might be. Maybe you are a pastor and cannot figure out why you are not reaching people like others are but you have planted seeds that will grow into mighty trees. Maybe just maybe, the thing you do is service to and for Christ and He will make it into something more.

Just a thought,

Mike

 

New Book

I am days away from finishing my first book. It is little (about 10k words) but I am very excited. The book goes through Colossians chapter 3 and discusses the first priority we have in our attempts to become the husband, father, wife, mother, and employee we want to be as well as some direction from the Bible on how to be that person. The book may end up on Amazon but for now, I will have a page on my website where you can download it for free in either ePub or PDF. Because I am so excited I have an excerpt below. I hope you enjoy it and it is a blessing to you. It has been a huge blessing for me to write it and spend time with God creating it.

Excerpt From “First Things First”

I would like to give you seven easy steps to be a better husband, father, wife, mother, or employee. It would be nice to give you some simple steps that you can do and then claim that these steps would radically change your life. I would like to, but I cannot. I am sure there is a book at a store near you that can do this, and I am sure that in that book it will list things like take the time to notice things, slow down, learn to say no, be in the moment, don’t rush, remember to breathe, and so on. There will also be a few good stories in the book that illustrate what happens when you follow and or don’t follow these principles. I would even imagine that in this book there will be a section dedicated to having a deep and powerful connection with Jesus.

However, because that book has been written a hundred times I will not go there. Instead, we will look at one part of what those books talk about – Having a deep and powerful connection with Jesus. I am of the opinion, and I hope to persuade you to be as well, that the first and most important step in becoming a better husband, father, wife, mother, or employee is to have not only that deep and powerful relationship with Jesus but to be secure in that relationship. I would go so far as to claim that minus anything other than that being the most important part of the process of becoming a better person the rest of your efforts are in vain.

What is hope?

Do you have hope? What is your hope? In Colossians chapter 1 Paul mentions hope four times and that might not sound like a lot because a lot of words are repeated throughout the chapter and throughout the Bible in general so what makes, or should make a word like hope stand out?

Not all words are created equal. Words like love, freedom, victory and hope carry more weight than other words. For example, if you are in sales then a word like “discount” carries more weight than other words. When you are talking to a customer and they hear the word “discount” it will make their ears perk up. Use it two or three times in the conversation and you have their attention. If you are talking to your kids (little kids) and you mention a snack they instantly pay a little more attention because a word like “snack” means something more to them. The same thing holds true here in Colossians 1 with the word “hope.”

Hope as is typically used means something along the lines of “want something to happen or be the case” but that is not what the word means in Greek. In Greek, hope, as used here, means “confident expectation” which is to say you know this is a thing is going to happen. The difference is huge because in the typical usage definition you would like something to be true but in the Bible (especially in Colossians) you know it to be true.

I think we get it. Let’s look at Colossians 1:27 which says, “God wanted to make known among the Gentile (non-Jews) the glorious wealth of this mystery which is Christ in you the hope of glory.” With the understanding of what hope is in biblical terms, we can read this and see that Christ in us is the confident expectation of glory. What a relief! I don’t have to be great or good enough but Christ in me is good enough. Jesus is the answer to the question of what does God want from me. All my work can be laid down and I can rest in Jesus’ finished work on the cross. I can rest from my labor and take His yoke. I can stop trying to figure out how to make myself good enough because it is Christ in me that is good enough.

Hope is such a powerful word. Hope is an amazing thing because the hope is Christ, not my better performance. If we back up and look at two of the other uses of hope in chapter 1 we read that we can love others because of our hope in Christ (Col 1:5a). We can love others the way we should and want to because of the hope of Christ. The pressure to perform or be self-sufficient is gone because of Jesus. The hope (confident expectation) we have in Jesus frees us to love others.

The hymn writer Edward Mote wrote “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” Our hope is built or founded in Christ and on His work. This brings us to the second point which is that our understanding of this hope is found in the Gospel (Col 1:5b). Because of the message of the Gospel and the confirmation from the Holy Spirit we can understand that there is hope. The Holy Spirit brings the truth of the Gospel to life in us and produces fruit. The hope of Christ is not pie in the sky but is a living hope that is useful and producing fruit in us now.

I will close with this thought from Paul in Romans 5:5 “Now hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Hope is not only an amazing and wonderful thing but if your hope is in Christ, and that is the key, then it will not disappoint because Jesus is faithful. He is always faithful and will always be faithful because He cannot be anything but faithful. That might now always show in the way you want but it will always be true. You can count on that.

Just a thought,

Mike