In just a few short, easy steps you too can learn how to read your Bible like a bona fide Pharisee! “Why would I want such a thing?” you ask. Trust me – life is just easier when you read the Bible like a professional.
In my studies yesterday, I came across this article by the great Dutch Reformer Wilhelmus à Brakel on the fear of the Lord. Because Scripture repeatedly shows how important the fear of God is (Ps. 110:11; Prov. 14:26-27) and because fearing the Lord unfortunately sounds dreadful to many, I hope you might enjoy these quotes.
Finally, brothers, 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 such things.
Congratulations on being pro-choice! No…not like that. But by making a choice to click here and read this blog post, you made a choice to think about something. It’s a choice people seem to forget they have.
No one likes to be sad. Mourning and weeping and wailing are quite out of line in our modern pursuit of happiness.
But the Bible knows better and so should we. There are many true and beautiful things upon which we may cast our minds (Phil. 4:8), but there are also many hateful and destructive things which we may not ignore.
A church without conflicts. The ecclesiastical unicorn. Looks great in pictures but doesn’t actually exist. The right question isn’t so much, “How do we create a church without conflict?” but “What do we do when conflict comes?”
Here the Philippian church helps us greatly, particularly two Christian sisters, Euodia and Syntyche. These poor women have had their fight inscribed into God’s Word, and for the rest of this age we will be able to benefit from their disastrous disagreement.
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Phil. 4:2-3)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)
We all struggle with forgetfulness to some extent, I suppose. Missing appointments, searching for keys, failing the name-to-a-face game…it’s all one of the lesser devastations flowing from the Fall.
So perhaps we could forgiven for glossing over Philippians 4:4 on our way to more memorable verses like those on prayer (“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition…”) or contentment (“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”). A short verse on rejoicing seems so, well, forgettable.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about a vital ministry skill, knowing how to take a punch, being able to minister to someone despite the hurt they may inflict on you in the process.
What’s on my mind this week is another ministry skill that’s sometimes hard to come by: a commitment to presence and an understanding of absence. Or, more broadly, knowing and practicing the power of presence with the hurting as well as knowing and practicing the helpfulness of absence.
Apparently there was a big fight last weekend. You may have heard.
As I remain lacking in any true knowledge of boxing, the following supposition is pretty theoretical but, I think, also sound: if you were a boxing coach, I’m sure there would be several things you would look for in your student. You would want to see some natural speed, above-average strength and athleticism. But surely it is just as important in boxing that one be able to take a punch as well as throw one.
And so the point of this short article: if you desire to do any spiritual good in the lives of others, you must be able to take a punch.
How much can be said in a word?
I’m preaching through Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Great news: everything I thought was there is still there. Interesting news: something is in the book that I’ve never really noticed before, not even when I memorized much of the letter back during my college years. One of the great themes of this loving and powerful letter is simply that God cares – deeply and seriously – about the unity of His church.