Tag Archives: summer study

Summer Study: Philippians 1

I completed the Ephesians study last week, so the plan is to finish the summer with a study in Philippians.  So, here’s what I learned from Chapter 1.


I’ve always loved Philippians.  Finding joy in the direst of circumstances.  Plus, the love that is shared between Paul and this church.  It’s just something awesome.  Philippi was the place the Paul met Lydia, cast out the demon possessed, fortune-telling girl, and stayed put in a prison earthquake which led to the conversion of the jailer.  I can imagine that in verse 13 when he mentions the fact that the whole palace guard is aware that he is in chains for Christ, that the same jailer connected with that.

But the verse that really stood out for me, or verses, 12-18.



What has happened to me.  This unfortunate situation has brought about great fortune.  Because of where he is, what he has experienced, doors are opening for Paul.  He speaks into the lives of those around him.  He makes a difference.  It gives purpose to his suffering.  That’s something that I realized when I wrote Scars after my first daughter died.  


But the next few verses are really what threw me.


It’s something that I have been learning recently, not just in my writing, but in all kinds of communication.  I have no control over how anything I say or write or do is received by others.  So much energy is used to try to edit and cultivate a message in order to control the outcome.  But the reality is I can try to be kind, try to keep in mind the feelings of others when I communicate, but in the end, they decide how to receive it and how they share it.  That is their right.

Everything I say will be filtered through other’s emotions, motives, and experiences.  If they are set on thinking I’m hateful, then what I say will be hateful.  If they were having a bad day, or if something I said was said in a way that has been hurtful to them in the past, it might not be taken well.  But if I know my motivations are true, and that I’m doing everything I can to honor God with my words, then I have to let go of the message and trust that God will work through it.

And in verse 18, Paul says, “What does it matter?  The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.  And because of this, I rejoice.”  He knew that this wasn’t about him, that people were going to do what they were going to do, but he trusted the message.  The truth will always win in the end.  God is already on the throne.  And if I seek after Him, I cannot go astray.

Summer Study: Ephesians 6


We’ve come to the end of the Ephesians study.  Chapter 6 has some pretty memorable and quoted verses.  I remember learning the different parts of the Armor of God when I was a kid.  I also remember using “Father’s don’t exasperate your children” as a teenager with my dad.  But as I was reading the chapter as a whole, I realized a neat transition that I hadn’t noticed before in this verse.


If I could re-chapter the book of Ephesians, I would start with 5:21 and go through 6:12.  Paul was talking about relationships – wives and husbands, children and parents, even masters and slaves.  And in verse 12, this is why we should submit to one another, why children should obey and fathers shouldn’t exasperate, why masters and slaves should serve wholeheartedly and remember who the true Master is.

We are at war.

And we are still at war.

Marriages are under attack.  Abuse is prevalent in our families, our relationships, our work environments.  There is so much in-fighting that we forget we have a much bigger battle to fight.

I don’t watch Game of Thrones, but someone recently was talking about the series, how there were these five families that keep fighting over this throne, fighting and killing one another, and all the while winter is coming.  There is a bigger force that is just beyond the wall.  And they need to work together to defeat this coming assault, but they haven’t been able to rise above the infighting.  And because of this, it’s quite possible that they will all fail.

The difference between that story and our story is that this war has already been won.  Jesus defeated the darkness by dying on the cross and rising again that third day.  In the end, we win.  But that doesn’t mean evil isn’t active in our world today.  We are just so caught up in our own customized need to be right that we forget the havoc that is right over that wall, headed our way.

When you face your demons, whether that’s addiction or loss or cancer or something you don’t even see coming, you gotta have your community.  We weren’t meant to fight these things alone, no matter how the other side tries to convince us we are isolated, God brings it to light that we are not.

At the end of the chapter, Paul names the tools our community can put on for protection against the evil that will come – truth, salvation, faith, the gospel of peace, righteousness. And the only offensive tool in our arsenal is the sword of the Spirit.  We allow the Spirit to fight these battles.  We pray in the Spirit “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests”.

We keep our head up.  Be alert.  Stop fighting each other and start protecting each other, especially those you don’t completely agree with.  Bring forth a solidarity that can only come through the Spirit of God.  Start fighting the evil in this world that longs to make us feel less than and alone.

Don’t be Jonah, waiting on the side of the mountain for God to smite the heathens.  Be the one in the streets, spreading love and mercy to those who are aching to listen.