Monday, February 27, 2012

Philippians 3:12-4:1

Philippians 3:12-4:1 [NIV]:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.

Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!

I originally ended up in this passage after praying with my older brother over the phone earlier this evening. Verse 16 came to mind, "Only let us live up to what we have already attained." This verse thrills my heart, but the whole chunk- the whole chapter, and all of Philippians, for that matter-really does me in. It always reminds me of my identity in Christ. It reminds me to pursue holiness and Christ fastidiously, as He has already made me holy.

As I read the passage, I got out the Greek and it shed a bit of a different light on the passage. Now, I don't really know Greek, but I took a year of Attic Greek in college and the N.T. is in Koine Greek so it is a little less formal than what I studied. In verse 12, the words that are translated as "to take hold of" and "took hold of me" come from the verb καταλαμβάνω. Now, in Attic κατα is the preposition for 'down' or 'against' (I just taught this root in fifth grade) and λαμβάνω is the verb for 'I take,' combined it would be 'I take down,' though it usually translated as 'I overtake, catch.' It implies a capture. Christ has taken me wholly and for a purpose, and now I must strive to take hold of that, as well. Paul is speaking to our new identity and our promised glory.  The words Paul spoke through the Spirit are words of  bold tenacity and persistent pursuit.  

As the passage continues, Paul speaks with great feeling about those who are not part of the family of God. His words are heart breaking and true. That some "live as enemies of the cross of Christ" with "their mind on earthly things." In contrast, the brothers are to know that their citizenship is in heaven and live in light of it, standing firm. 

A lot of my years have been spent thinking about my identity in Christ, about the lavishness of His love apportioned to me in Him. I don't always think about what I was like before Christ. I don't often think about Christ having to have taken hold of me, or Him overtaking me. I don't always remember that I too once had my mind only on earthly things, that my destiny was destruction, or that by nature I was in fact an object of God's wrath (Eph. 2:3). So many of my favorite passages on my new identity are surrounded by verses about my old self. How my heart rejoices in God's sweet redemption, in the transforming power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ! For I was once dead, but now have life! 

Lord, thank You, thank You, thank YOU for the fact that if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come! Lord, thank You that we no longer regard Your cross as foolishness, but to us it is Your wisdom, Your perfect wisdom in providing complete atonement for our sins! Thank You that because of this we are transformed, that we no longer regard anyone from a worldly point of view. Lord, thank You for reconciling us and giving us the ministry of reconciliation. O Lord, may our lives and words implore people to be reconciled to You. Spirit, move in the ways we cannot and draw hearts to Yourself. Lord, overtake them with Your love and mercy. Reveal Yourself in Your holiness that they may see their lack and need for You, Jesus. And Lord, as we eagerly await You, may we stand firm in You. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

tying shoes

I have been tying my own shoelaces for two decades. I can remember learning how as a kindergartener; it was quite the rite of passage. I was no longer dependent on my mother or a merciful passerby to have ready feet for the day. Working at a school this year, I have come across too many young ones who are dependent upon Velcro shoes. Kids seriously don’t know how to tie their own shoes! Perhaps that is why earlier in the week I prayed, “Lord, thank You that I know how to tie shoes.”  

For the believer, disciple making is like tying shoes. It is something that each believer is called to do; it is an elementary and necessary rite of passage.

Matthew 28:18-20:
Then Jesus said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

This week a discipleship group is starting up in my missional community and I am pretty excited that I get to help lead it. This year I am busy. This is not new for me, but it is a different kind of busy than the last six years of life. In the midst of this busyness, working full-time and spending time with family and friends, I am so thankful that I am not trying to figure out what it means to make disciples, or how to disciple a person.

Now, I would say that I knew what it meant to make disciples before I went to college, but my time with the Navigators really helped me to hone in on some of the key foundations of discipleship and fine tune my understanding of God’s kingdom vision. My years on EDGE Corps, blessed me even more in my understanding of this. In those two years I found such life-giving joy in disciple making, not only a joy, but also a confidence in making disciples in the Spirit’s power and grace. I learned how to disciple skillfully. Thinking about this makes my heart so thankful, and so excited for the spiritual generations to come! 

Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness to me, for growing my heart for others and teaching me how to make disciples. Thank You for so many godly influences and disciplers in my life, for these saints who have loved and served You so faithfully, ones who have made the most of every opportunity.
LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens. Lord, how glorious You are. How worthy You are of my life's worship! Lord, that You call us to You and bestow glory and honor upon us, that in Christ we are redeemed is wonderful to me. We are created anew and given the ministry of reconciliation. Lord, how beautiful Your ways are! Lord, I pray for laborers, for the harvest is plentiful. All about me I see those who are harassed and helpless, sheep without a shepherd. Lord, would You raise up skillful laborers for and from the nations? That many would come to know You. How my heart eagerly anticipates worshiping You with every tribe, nation and tongue! Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is, and is to come! Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, for with Your blood You purchased men for God!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

You are Redeemer

A year ago tonight, I was awaken during the middle of the night to my phone ringing. It was 2:12 a.m. and my caller I.D. read, "Michael." My heart leaped with excitement. "Hello." "Sara's water broke and she is in labor." We didn't talk long, but that was all I wanted to hear. I immediately burst into laughter, tears and prayer. I remember thinking how funny a sight I must have been, a sobbing, giggling girl. My joy was so great. And when my emotions were reined in a bit, I wrote this in my journal before going back to sleep:

Sara is in labor.
Lord, You are Redeemer...
Psalm 84 and 34 will be dwelt in this day..."For the Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in You."
This child, his life, is a circumstance of Your redemption; it is easy to see. May this be a year of redemption, oh Lord, for with You there is full redemption.
Psalm 27:14--I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!!

I don't think there will be any such call tonight, but my how thankful I am for my brother, Sara and my sweet nephew!! It has been so awesome to see the way that God has been faithful to them. I look forward to seeing all He will do through and in them in the years to come! What an awesome God we serve! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

thankful for THIS day

I'm not entirely sure why I love Valentine's Day, but it makes me so happy. I think one of the most likely reasons I enjoy this day so thoroughly is because I like hearts. (Hearts and circles are probably my favorite shapes. I really love symmetry). My love for V-day might also have to do with the fact that I love celebrating life and that I have been blessed to live a very loved life-by God, my family and friends. And as Don Allen says, "Loved people, love people." Don't ya love loving people? It is fun!

I'm pretty happy about this Valentine's Day though!

Today is Arizona's centennial. A happy 100 years to my favorite state, the Grand Canyon State! Take that, all you other states with less illustrious canyons. The Great Plains, what is so great about being plain? And no one state can claim you! Anyways... to celebrate this occasion, and to help the fourth graders celebrate an end to their Arizona unit, I baked some cookies with some of my friends tonight. We put hearts on them as we are celebrating "Great Hearts' Day" and the virtue of friendship instead of Valentine's tomorrow at school.

This year, I think my every day thankfulness has reached a new level. In the midst of so many unknowns and changes, I feel like the Lord has been writing His goodness on my heart. He is ever faithful and loving! His promises are true. How this grows my hope and joy! 

Arizona's motto is "Ditat Deus," Latin for "God enriches." I see God enriching my life and my relationship with Him in a lot of ways. I am blessed to wait on Him and seek His face. Our God is good and He reigns. In love, He has paid our ransom. Hallelujah!

"Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him." -Psalm 34:8

"The Lord will guide you always, He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen  your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a stream whose waters never fail." -Isaiah 58:11

Monday, February 6, 2012

I love the fifth graders...

In numerous ways the sweet fifth graders have won my heart in the last few months. In this last week the girls have been reminding me of how hard it can be to be a fifth grade girl. The sweet things that these girls say to me and the questions that they ask me at recess, lunch and after school, remind me that I am in a place of great influence. They so deeply desire approval. There are hundreds of hungry and teachable eyes upon me every day, observing the slightest things I do and say, and what I wear. I pray I would be a godly role model for these girls and that I would have choice words in due season. 

Lord, You looked upon the multitudes and had compassion for they were harassed, helpless, sheep without a shepherd. O Lord, You are the good Shepherd. How tenderly You care for and nurture Your flock. Lord, for these sweet ones I ask that Your Spirit would move in mighty ways and that You would bring them to an understanding of Who You are. Lord, from among them would You raise up men and women who would fear You and walk in light of Your holy love all their days? 

Lord, You are so faithful. Thank You for bringing me through fifth grade and thank You for allowing me to remember the tear-filled drama of it all. Help me to move with compassion and wisdom where You have placed me. Spirit, may I walk in You and bear Your fruit--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. 

"May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us-yes, establish the work of our hands for us." -Psalm 90:17