Archive for the ‘Philippians’ Category

You ever run into someone who wants to lose weight, get in shape, and live a healthy lifestyle, yet the majority of their food is harmful and eaten in large quantities? Oftentimes they’ll simply quit eating to jump-start the process. Makes sense, right? No bad food going in, weight will come off…right?

Eh. Not the best idea. You body needs nutrients and energy. It’s not about not eating food that’s bad, but rather it’s about replacing bad food with good food. Successful Christian living is the same way.

One of the aspects of my work is helping students to overcome temptations of all sorts, whether it’s related to immorality, or substance abuse, or rebellion. Just last week I had a student in my office whose life was submerged in all three, and he asked me the secret to not doing bad things. I told him that is wasn’t simply about removing things from his life that are bad or potentially bad for him, but rather he needs to be more consumed with God and learn more about God, and as he does there will be less room in his life for the garbage.

We all know that sin begins in the mind, where we consider the action before taking action, and rather than merely chasing away harmful thoughts in our head, Paul gives the Philippians an amazing technique for growing ever closer to God. This is what he says: “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

So next time you’re doing battle mentally, don’t just stop thinking about non-Godly things; take the opportunity to think on the right things.

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This was one of those chapters I could easily write a book on, but one over-arching theme is prevalent: dedicating one’s life to Jesus. Paul, having listed his quasi-impressive accomplishments, says that it’s all crap in light of eternity. All that mattered to Paul was knowing Jesus, and sharing Jesus, and suffering for the cause of Christ. Do we have that same determination?

In the first part of this chapter, Paul encourages the believers in Philippi to be more humble, to follow the lead of Jesus, who was humble enough to leave His place in Heaven to put on human skin like one of us. I don’t know if you’ve been following the mess known as the Elephant Room 2, but in the aftermath we’re seeing a lot of dissent among evangelical leaders, some lines being drawn in the sand.

I’m tired and having difficulty formulating my thoughts, but I’m sitting here wondering how many denominations wouldn’t exist had we as the Church practiced the humility that we’re supposed to, if we truely “counted others more significant than ourselves.”

Here is my train of thought. Go back to the early days of the Church, when everyone was gathered in unity (I know- hard to picture, right?). How did we go from that to hundreds of denominations? Theological disagreement. Or perhaps more specifically, disagreement that wasn’t handled right. Think about it. You’ve got 99 people believing that “A” is the proper understanding of God’s Word, and here comes Joe Theologian who believes that “B” is right. Suppose he’s eaten up with pride. What does he do? Argue his position endlessly until two camps are formed, half in favor of “B”, half siding with “A”. In time the same thing happens with both groups over different issues. Now we have groups “A”, “B”, “A1”, and “B1”. Continue this for 2000 years, and voila! Look at us now.

But…what if Joe Theologian spoke privately with the Church leaders about his difference in theology? What if he had respected the authority of the Elders put into their position by God and had agreed to disagree over their interpretation, but still respectfully chose to humbly keep his opinion to himself? Why…would we even have different denominations now, or would we have retained the doctrinal purity that we started out with?

Nevertheless, Pandora’s box was opened, and now we can side with error or confront it, resulting in more splits within the Church. At least when done right, it can result in people getting back on track. If it’s done right. Much easier said than done.

Paul opens up this letter to the Christians in Philippi with one of the most awesome promises in all of Scripture, found in verse six: ” I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

There are schools of theology out there that will tell you that salvation is ours as long as we hold fast to it. There are some who would tell you that we’ll be saved if we fulfill our end of the bargain, or if our goods outweigh our bads, or this, or that.

No sir! The same one who initiated our salvation will complete it. Nothing is going to break the Golden Chain of Redemption.