Monthly Archives: February 2020

A Prayer for Your Love Life: Philippians 1:9-11 (manuscript)

St. Paul wrote more of the New Testament than any other writer – he is the author of something like one quarter of the New Testament. If we are going to understand his letters, it is important to realize that he wrote them with some basic assumptions in place. He doesn’t argue for these things. He takes them for granted and assumes his readers do the same. For example, Paul assumes that the Creator of heaven and earth is actively involved in what is happening in our world. He is not on vacation. He is paying attention.

He assumes that the Creator, who is the God and Father of Jesus Messiah, is currently at work in our day-to-day world. All people on earth and every institution of which they are a part is known by God, accessible to God, and responsible before God. That includes you and me and Lockwood Church. This is not something Paul argues; he takes it for granted.

He further assumes that this God is pursuing a specific goal and is employing individuals and institutions to achieve it, whether they realize it or not, whether they cooperate or not. That goal is stated this way in the letter to the Ephesians: “to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (Ephesians 1:10).

We read over that and miss how revolutionary (in the fullest sense of the word) it is. The goal is to bring all things – nations, for example, and their governments – under the headship of one leader: Jesus. The U.S., Russia, China, England, France – and the other 191 so-called sovereign states – will be governed by one head, Jesus Messiah. That’s the plan. Talk about a one-world government – this is it – and it is God’s intention to make it happen.

But it is not just nations. It is people, animals, weather systems, physical processes, spiritual forces – authorities, powers, and dominions – everything. Paul sees God making all things work together toward this goal and Paul has committed himself – even to the point of sacrificing his life – to that cause. He further assumes that the Colossian church exists for the same purpose: the realization of the universal lordship of Jesus; otherwise, they would not be a church. Continue reading

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Prayer for Your Love Life

I’ve often asked myself what must happen for someone to discern what is best in a given situation. Is it best to take this job or stay with the one I’ve got? Should we move to a larger house or continue making do? Shall we retire or should keep working for a few more years? How can we discern what’s good from what’s best?

When we ask: “What must happen in order to discern what is best?” we’re assuming that discernment is primarily a procedural thing, as if discernment is just a matter of following the right steps. I’ve come to think there is a prior and more important question: “What kind of people do we need to be to discern what is best?” The Apostle Paul’s surprising answer to that question is: We have to be people with a healthy love life.

That love life – what Paul elsewhere calls “a life of love” – is critical to godly discernment. And that’s what Paul prays for in Philippians 1:9-11: that his dear friends’ “love will abound … so that [they] will be able to discern what is best…”

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Grief and Hope in the Face of Kobe’s Death

I watched a video clip of Shaquille O’Neal sitting with his sports show co-hosts, talking about the sudden, tragic loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash on Sunday, January 26. At several points in Shaq’s monologue, he was forced to pause, overcome with emotion.

Shaq’s grief is understandable: Kobe was a teammate, friend, and, in times past, an opponent in a very public feud. Shaq’s complicated friendship with Kobe would undoubtedly bring a deep and profound grief. But millions of people who never met Kobe, even people who never saw Kobe play, were deeply affected by the superstar’s death.

What accounts for this outpouring of grief? How is it that so many people experienced shock and disbelief when they learned that Kobe died? Most of us who have reached adulthood, certainly those who are middle-aged or older, are well acquainted with grief. We’ve all lost someone – perhaps many someones – we have loved. So why should the death of a celebrity we never met touch us so deeply?

Kobe’s passing brings the reality of death home to us. If a handsome, healthy young man like Kobe Bryant – a competitor, a victorious warrior – could be vanquished, then none of us is safe. Unlike other celebrities who died young, Kobe was not courting death. He wasn’t living a devil-may-care kind of life. If this could happen to him…
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