Friday, June 29, 2018

Structure and Message of Philippians

Philippians Color Chart

Message of Philippians

As citizens of heaven, we must rejoice and endure in the struggle because Jesus’ strength goes beyond any difficult circumstance or suffering we may face.

Outline of Philippians

God, in Christ, will accomplish His plan in His people, His church and in the world despite present circumstances and struggles.   1:1-30

  • The growth in the Philippian church is an example of how God can accomplish His plan.  1-11
    • The Gospel message is that God will complete what He began in His people. 1-6
    • The Gospel message results in brotherly love and concern in Jesus Christ. 7-8
    • The gospel message grows the believer into deeper relationship and imitation of Jesus. 9-11
  • Paul’s experience shows that adverse circumstances cannot stop the Gospel. 12-18
    • His imprisonment advanced the gospel through the palace guard and encouraged fearless preaching. 12-14
    • Even when the motivation is wrong, Gospel preaching will accomplish its goal. 15-18
  • Paul’s conviction is that everything done for and through Christ will be meaningful and successful. 19-26
    • Whether temporary circumstances are good or bad god will enable His people to glorify Him. 19-20
    • Even death cannot stop Christ from being glorified through his faithful people. 21-26
  • Therefore, no matter what the struggle, persecution or circumstance, live according to the gospel. 27-30 

Follow the humble and sacrificial examples of  Jesus, Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus. 2:1-30

  • Have the humble, servant and self-sacrificing attitude Jesus had in His incarnation. 1-16
    • Command: Be unified by a humble attitude and service in the power of the Spirit. 1-4
    • Example: Jesus, God in the flesh, did not grasp his rights. Instead, He gave them up which resulted in the Father exalting Him to the ultimate position of power and authority.  5-11
    • Application: Allow Christ to work in you so that you can live peaceful, holy and contented lives.  12-16
  • Have the Christ-like attitude and actions of God’s servants. (Leaders should model sacrifice and service) 17-30
    • Paul’s life is an example of joyful self-sacrifice for Christ and His people. 17-18
    • Timothy’s life is an example of concern for God’s people and the work of the gospel. 19-24
    • Epaphroditus’ life is an example of the willingness to risk one’s own life for the gospel. 25-30

The confidence and focus of the successful Christian life is relationship with Jesus Christ. 3:1-21

  • The wrong basis for confidence is one’s own life, righteousness and rituals.  1-6
    • Beware of those who encourage legalism instead of relationship with Jesus through the Spirit. 1-3
    • Even Paul’s strict legalistic righteousness as a Pharisee was not enough. 4-6
  • The right confidence is Jesus’ righteousness found in a growing relationship with Him.  7-11
    • Compared to the benefit of knowing Jesus and His righteousness everything else is useless. 7-9a
    • Righteousness and relationship come through faith in Christ alone 9b
    • We experience Jesus’ righteousness and grow in it as the relationship with Jesus Christ grows.  10-11
  • Our goal should be to experience who we are in Jesus Christ. 12-16
    • We must focus on the heavenly goal and work hard to be what He calls us to be. 12-14
    • Maturity  is seen as, in Christ, we live up to the image of Christ. 15-16
  • To focus on the present and live for one’s lusts results in destruction. 17-19
  • You are destined to be a citizen of heaven. Live like you are now. 20-21

Only in relationship with Jesus Christ can we find power for heavenly living on earth. 4:1-23

  • Relationship with Christ gives you the power to stand firm and live in peace and unity with one another. 1-3
  • Relationship with Christ brings joyful, peaceful, pure and righteous thoughts and actions. 4-10
    Relationship with Christ allows you to live above the circumstances of life. 11-19
    • Circumstances do not matter because God can supply what is needed for any situation. 11-15
    • God often provides through the generosity of His people and rewards them for it. 16-19
  • The grace of God brings us together to bring glory to God 20-23

Reading Through Philippians #2 (2.19-4.23)

PhilippiansThis post concludes a quick read through of Paul’s letter to the Philippians accompanied by Philippians (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series) , by Gordon Fee. I enjoyed this commentary and plan on taking a closer look at it as I work through Philippians in the future. I am posting from my reading in the New Testament accompanied by various commentaries on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the book are in blue.

Paul now moves into the more applicational part of the letter in 2.19-4.3. He begins with the examples of his co-workers Timothy and Epaphroditus to show the Philippians what a Christ-centered and Cross-focused life looks like. Timothy exemplifies a life based on the truth of the gospel lived out in a self-sacrificial way that considers the needs of others as more important than one's own. Epaphroditus shows that this lifestyle is willing to risk suffering and death to meet the spiritual and physical needs of others and to accomplish the mission of bringing the gospel to the world. Paul then moves to the bad example of the "circumcision party" who were more concerned about their own welfare and wanted to come to God based on their own accomplishments rather than through faith in Christ. Paul could have chosen that path, and lived that way before he met Christ, but now considered any past righteousness he has as "smelly street waste" and considered that only pursuit of relationship with Christ had any value. Though this led to suffering in the present, the eternal payoff was worth it. Knowing Christ, through the Spirit, is the only thing that produces God's righteousness, unity, and the joy and peace of God.

Joy does not mean the absence of sorrow but the capacity to rejoice in the midst of it...The God he serves is full of mercy, both in healing the sick and in sparing the heavy-laden from further sorrow. Note too that Paul simply would not understand the denial of grief that some express today when they rejoice over the death of a loved one. No, death is still an enemy—ours and God’s (1 Cor 15:25–26)—and grief is the normal response; but it is sorrow expressed in the context of hope (1 Thess 4:13). Philippians 2.19-30, 124

What Paul has in view is neither congregational worship nor internal “spiritual” service (personal piety) over against external rite, but two ways of existing: in the flesh, meaning life centered in the creature as over against God, and by the Spirit, as people of the future for whom all life in the present is now service and devotion to God. Philippians 3.1-4, 134

Christian life means to be finished with one’s religious past as having value before God or as a means of right relationship with God; it means to trust wholly in Christ as God’s means to righteousness. But such “righteousness” has as its ultimate aim the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord; and knowing Christ means to experience the power of his resurrection for present sharing in his sufferings, as those sufferings are in “conformity with his death.” Philippians 3.5-14, 151

Paul concludes with some final commands that sum up his example and the Christian life to which believers are called. Christians live a life of joy, despite suffering and persecution, because there is no greater source of meaning and peace now, and, just as Christ rose from the dead and rules, we will share in his kingdom and rule and experience completely the defeat of death, sin, and the evil powers that persecute God's people. Ultimately, the Christian life is not about our current situation or our abilities etc, but it is centered on knowing Christ. Thus, we can always be joyful because, whatever happens in our life, we will end up victorious in Him. It is all about Jesus; knowing and serving Him.

This passage reminds us that despite appearances often to the contrary, God is in control, that our salvation is not just for today but forever, that Christ is coming again, and that at his coming we inherit the final glory that belongs to Christ alone—and to those who are his. It means the final subjugation of all the “powers” to him as well, especially those responsible for the present affliction of God’s people. Philippians 3.15-4.3, 166

These concluding exhortations call us to embrace what is good wherever we find it, including the culture with which we are most intimately familiar, but to do so in a discriminating way, the key to which is the gospel Paul preached and lived—about a crucified Messiah, whose death on a cross served both to redeem us and to reveal the character of God into which we are continually being transformed. Philippians 4.4-9, 181

This passage points up the absolute Christ-centeredness of Paul’s whole life. He is a man in Christ. As such he takes what Christ brings. If it means “plenty,” he is a man in Christ, and that alone; if it means “want,” he is still a man in Christ, and he accepts deprivation as part of his understanding of discipleship. Philippians 4.10-23, 187

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Our Brief June 2018 Prayer Letter


There is not much new to report on our situation but I thought it good to give a brief update. We recently returned from 3 weeks in Cincinnati with our family there. We enjoyed being with the grandkids and were able to help Samantha with the kids while Mike is in Israel for 6 weeks of summer study. It was an opportune time for us to be there as Samantha had to go to Texas to be with her mother who has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. We would appreciate your prayers for Martha Santana and for Mike and Sam as they try to help.

It looks like July will be a busy month for us. We have been blessed, since last September, by Gold Country Baptist Church allowing us to stay in their parsonage. It looks like they will have a new associate pastor soon so we may be moving before the end of July. We have put in an application at an apartment in El Dorado Hills but it looks like it will be at least 4-6 months until we hear anything on that. In the meantime, our plan is to move back in to my parents' house and stay in their downstairs apartment. This will allow us to help them out around the house etc. and we hope will become a home base for ministry as I continue to get better and more able to get out. We also have a week of medical testing July 23-26 at Stanford. We are anticipating a good outcome and ask that you be praying for that.

Our plans have not changed much. We are hoping that after all my scans are clear next month, we can begin working part-time with Liebenzell USA and receiving salary support again. I am working on applying to a work program for people with disability that allows this. This would also separate my medical insurance from Joyce's which would help. Please be in prayer for this. This would give us the opportunity to start slow and work our way back into a ministry representing the mission and providing training and assistance to Micronesian groups in the US. I am also hoping to teach a PIU on-line seminary course in the Fall. We have not been able to work out the details on all of this yet, but I would hope we'd be able to restart official ministry in August or September.

In the meantime I get a little stronger and feel a little better every day. My edema is still an issue. It took about 2-3 days to recover from the flights each way. I would say that an international flight is still out of reach. Joyce is doing well and is glad that she is available to help her mom and dad move into a retirement home nearby. She will be close enough to help her dad provide some care for her mom.

I get a little frustrated with the waiting but we are confident in God's care for us. If you have any questions please ask by email or give me a call. We appreciate your prayers and support very much.



Reading Through Philippians #1 (1.1-2.18)

PhilippiansThis post begins the quick read through of Paul’s letter to the Philippians accompanied by Philippians (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series) , by Gordon Fee. In Philippians Paul urges the church to be joyful in the midst of persecution and united in the midst of disagreements. I am posting from my reading in the New Testament accompanied by various commentaries on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the book are in blue.

Philippians is a friendly letter to a church in which Paul has spent a great deal of time and knows the people well. He is confident of their faith and partnership in the work of the gospel. He wants to thank them for the gifts that they have already given to advance his mission work. He also wants to warn them to keep focused on Christ and not succumb to the kind of divisions that result (Galatians and Romans) when the gospel is adulterated with additional requirements or selfish motives. For Paul it is "all about Christ" and he wants to instill this focus in the Philippian church.

God’s essential character on display in Christ, who redeems us to share that likeness—also underlies the other well-known themes in this letter: suffering, joy, unity, pressing on toward the prize...Thus the theology of Philippians is held together by its singular focus on Christ. Philippians Intro, 36–37

Paul begins the letter with a greeting and prayer. The greeting is brief but the prayer goes far beyond the standard friendly letter. Paul views their friendship as a "three-way bond" that is centered around Jesus Christ. He is confident that the work of the Holy Spirit within them will complete the goal of making them over into the image of Christ. He already sees this at work as the Philippian church has participated in the work of the gospel through their finances and sending of Timothy and Epaphroditus to help him. His prayer is that, in the Spirit, they will experience the love of Christ even more deeply, know him in a growing relationship and that this will bear the fruit of acts of righteousness that resemble Christ. Paul himself is an example of this as he lives his life based completely on what Christ has done for him and what He has promised for the future.

Joy lies at the heart of the Christian experience of the gospel; it is the fruit of the Spirit in any truly Christian life, serving as primary evidence of the Spirit’s presence (Rom 14:17; Gal 5:22). Precisely because this is so, joy transcends present circumstances; it is based altogether on the Spirit, God’s way of being present with his people under the new covenant. Philippians 1.1-11, 46

Paul has learned by the grace of God to see everything from the divine perspective. This is not wishful thinking but deep conviction—that God has worked out his own divine intentions through the death and resurrection of Christ, and that by his Spirit he is carrying them out in the world through the church, and therefore through both Paul and others. Philippians 1.12-18, 64

One wonders what the people of God might truly be like in our postmodern world if we were once again people of this singular passion. Too often for us it is “For me to live is Christ, plus other pursuits.” And if the truth were known, all too often the “plus factor” has become our primary passion: “For me to live is my work.” Both our progress and our joy regarding the gospel are altogether contingent on whether Christ is our primary, singular passion. Philippians 1.19-26, 75

Paul now moves to his first main exhortation to the Philippians in 1.27-2.18. He wants them to be the image of Christ as they "stand" for the Gospel, despite the opposition of the empire which declares "Caesar is Lord," and live out the Gospel without "grumbling or complaining," as Christ did, by using his status as God for the benefit of others as he saved us by going to the cross. This makes sense because, just as God exalted Christ through the resurrection and ascension, he will exalt all of Jesus' people when all creation acknowledges that "Jesus is LORD." So Paul calls the Philippians to courage in the face of persecution and unity in relationships within the body of Christ. This is only possible when believers live by the power of the Spirit. Only then can salvation be "worked out" in relationship with one another and in our common mission to proclaim and live out the gospel. 

A crucified Lord produces disciples who themselves take up a cross as they follow him. We are thus to live on behalf of Christ in the same way Christ himself lived—and died—on behalf of this fallen, broken world. That is why salvation includes suffering on behalf of Christ, since those who oppose the Philippian believers as they proclaim the gospel of Christ are of a kind with those who crucified their Lord in the first place. Philippians 1.27-30, 81

Paul’s reason is singular: to focus on Christ himself, and thus to point to him as the ultimate model of the self-sacrificing love to which he is calling the Philippians—and us...In Jesus Christ the true nature of the living God has been revealed ultimately and finally. God is not a grasping, self-centered being. He is most truly known through the One whose equality with God found expression in his pouring himself out in sacrificial love by taking the lowest place, the role of a slave, and whose love for his human creatures found consummate expression in his death on the cross. That this is God’s own nature and doing has been attested for all time by Christ Jesus’s divine vindication. Philippians 2.1-11, 101

The underlying theology in all of this is God’s own character, as that is now reflected in his children who bear his likeness as we live out the life of the future in the present age. Only as we reflect God’s own likeness will our evangelism be worth anything at all, in terms of its aim and in terms of success. Philippians 2.12-18, 113

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Structure and Message of Ephesians

Ephesians Color Chart

Message of Ephesians

The Church is a unity, with diverse members, formed by God’s eternal plan, with a shared salvation in Christ and a shared calling to glorify God in the power of the Spirit.

Basic Outline of Ephesians

  • The basis of the unity of the Church is a common salvation in Jesus Christ. 1:1-3:21
    • Because of God’s grace and peace the church is God’s “holy ones” through faith. 1:1-2
    • Salvation is a blessing from God that we can experience “in Jesus Christ.” 1:3-23
      • The entire Trinity worked together to bring salvation to the Church. 1:3-14 (one sentence)
      • Believers can have the full experience of all of God’s blessings through the power of Jesus Christ 1:15-23
    • Salvation unites people who are diverse and at odds with one another into one unified body. 2:1-3:21
      • Salvation by grace through faith is the one common means of entry into the church. 2:1-10
      • Salvation provides a common basis for peace with God and with each other. 2:11-22
      • Salvation brings a common purpose to life: To glorify God before all creation. 3:1-21
  • The Church must be unified because all its members share a common calling and mission. 4:1-6:24
    • All Believers have a common responsibility: Preserve the unity of the Church 4:1-16
      • The church’s unity is based on the Unity in the Trinity, common hope and common calling. 1-6
      • The church is made up of diverse members who work together with a unified mission. 7-16
    • Believers should have a common lifestyle: Like Jesus’ Lifestyle 4:17-5:14
      • Believers must live as a new creation by renouncing the deeds of the old way to live the way Jesus would. 4:17-5:2
      • Believers must be careful to live a lifestyle that accurately reflects Christ and pleases the Lord. 5:3-14
    • Believers have a common power to live like Christ: The Holy Spirit 5:15-6:9
      • Control by the Spirit provides power to live thankfully and submissively as Jesus lived. 5:15-21
      • Spirit control is measured and seen in loving, transformed Christlike relationships that are mutually submitted to and serve one another . 5:22-6:9
    • Believers have a common battle against spiritual darkness and spiritual attack. 6:10-20
      • Believers must be ready for battle by actively using what Christ has provided. 10-17
      • The main offensive weapon in the spiritual battle is prayer. 18-20
    • Closing: Unity brings fellowship, peace and grace 6:21-24

Jesus Paid a High Price For The Unity of the Church - Don’t Break It

Monday, June 25, 2018

Stuff I like About Being a Grandpa (Cincinnati Version)


Since Joyce and I are back in California I have been reflecting on the three weeks we spent in Cincinnati with Mike’s family. We had a great time there and I am very thankful to the LORD (still fulfilling my vow of praise) that I am still around and healthy enough to make the flight (though with some minor complications) and enjoy most of the activities we had an opportunity to do. So, in no particular order, here are some things that make me glad that I made it to this point of being a grandpa.

  1. 1068The greeting I received each morning from my 2 year old granddaughter Arie as I woke up and came up the stairs to the kitchen to make my coffee, “Good morning grandpa, how are you doing today?” This was pretty much always accompanied by the smile of a person who was genuinely glad to see me.
  2. Listening to my 10 year old granddaughter, Courage, sing along with all the songs from “The Greatest Showman” while we watched the movie on Netflix. This made the movie infinitely better.
  3. 20180612_165330Eating lunch with the 3 older grandchildren at their schools and getting to meet their friends and teachers. I am thankful that they are in very good schools and it was fun to see them in their “natural habitats.” I also learned a lot about video games sitting at a table with six eleven year old boys.
  4. Reading the same books over and over to Arie. I am thankful that all my grandkids love books.
  5. Playing story games with Titus. 1035It was fun to try to top his “out there” stories. How did I get a grandson that is already into reading science fiction and theology?
  6. Hearing Serenity pound out “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” on the piano. Talking with her (well, mostly listening to her) and sharing in her joy in just living life and her keen notice and concern for everything around her.
  7. One of my lifelong dreams was to take my grandkids to a major league baseball game: Accomplished that one as we got to go to a great 12 inning game accompanied by hot dogs, sodas, peanuts, popcorn and cotton candy. A great day was had by all.
  8. 20180612_165411Taking the grandkids to church and meeting their pastor, Sunday school teachers etc. We are so thankful that they are in a great body of people that care about them and support them.
  9. Catching fireflies in the evening in the backyard. It reminded me of summers I spent as a child visiting my grandparents in Missouri. Good memories.
  10. Seeing Joyce so happy to be with her “babies, “ even if a couple of them are almost as tall as she is now.

We miss them already, but are happy about what they are doing and how God is working in their lives. I am sure we’ll find a way to get back there soon. Of course a San Diego version of this post may be coming soon too. 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Reading Through Ephesians #2 (4-6)

witheringtonThis post concludes the quick read through of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians accompanied by The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Captivity Epistles, by Ben Witherington III. The second part of Ephesians applies the doctrinal truths of chapter 1-3. The Gospel powerfully binds the church together in a way that displays the image of Christ. The Spirit enables believers to live out a godly lifestyle and experience victory over the evil powers and desires that formerly held them in bondage. I am posting from my reading in the New Testament accompanied by various commentaries on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the book are in blue.

Paul begins the application of the sermon in chapter 4 with a reminder of the basis of their unity: the relationships within the Trinity, and the one Holy Spirit who produces the character of Christ in believers through the gifted people he has provided. Again, unity is seen as the best evidence of the Holy Spirit working within the church (not just local congregations, but also in relationships among congregations in different places). The church has one foundation which is the teachings and life of Christ which is ministered through Spirit-gifted men and women. The Spirit produces life change in believers (Jew and Gentile) so that they become "new people" with new allegiances and motives. Believers live out their new identity in Christ as they toss away the old lifestyle and "put on" the new lifestyle of the image of Christ which the Spirit has placed within them. This allows the foundational unity Christ has already provided become practical unity as believers diligently, patiently and graciously work with each other to grow, individually and corporately, into the image of Christ.

Moral maturity in the image of Christ is, then, the goal of Christian life and the aim of Christian ministry to those already in Christ...Perhaps v. 13 suggests that since all must become mature, arrive at the unity of faith and the knowledge of the Son, and measure up to the stature of Christ, then all must, like Christ, be involved in the tasks of ministry, for ministry will mold them all. Growth in Christ comes in part through ministerial service for the cause of Christ. Ephesians 4.1-16, 292

The old way of life was cast off like an old garment. The old person is not who these Christians are anymore. The old lifestyle was self-destructive, full of wicked desires and deceits. V. 22 refers not just to moral corruption but to a moral corruption that leads to bodily corruption—disease, decay, and death. Ephesians 4.17-24, 298

Paul believes that when Christ becomes the believer’s Lord there is not room for other lordships, or for possession in the believer’s life. One cannot become a tool of Satan unless one gives sin place and commits apostasy. Believers have a choice about their course of life in such matters, and certainly more so than unbelievers, who are indeed buffeted about by various forces larger than themselves. Ephesians 4.25-32, 299–300

Chapter 5.1-21 makes the point that, since the mark that differentiates God's people from the rest of the world is no longer ethnic or racial identity, Christians must show their uniqueness through a lifestyle that imitates Christ. The deeds of darkness must be renounced and believers must live life by means of the supernatural enablement of the Holy Spirit. This life is recognized by thankfulness, service and mutual submission to the needs of one another.

The goal was the molding of character as much as it was the reinforcing of good behavior. Here Christ or God in Christ is the pattern that the audience is called to emulate and imitate, and Christ is the one to whom implicit praise is given, while the pagan lifestyle in various of its dimensions is denounced and renounced. The believer is to be light, as Christ is light, and so to act no longer as though they are or they dwell in darkness where no one notices their conduct. Ephesians 5.1-14, 303

Far from being filled with the Spirit leading to dissipation or drunkenness, Paul affirms that it leads to wisdom and to the spirit of a sound mind and to the proper adoration and singing that all of God’s creatures should render back to God. In other words, it is the key to living the Christian life in a manner pleasing to God and edifying to others as well as one’s self. Ephesians 5.15-21, 312

The key place where this mutual submission needs to be seen is in the Christian home. In 5.21-6.9 Paul describes how relationships are transformed by the filling of the Spirit. In each case, the relationship of the "master of the house" to his wife, children and servants is transformed from a dominating, self-serving one to one of mutual submission in recognition that both the powerful and powerless in relationships have one master - Jesus Christ. Power is to be used to serve and help develop others into what Christ would have them to be. Everyone is this accountable to God for how they treat and serve one another. These transformed relationships become one of the greatest arguments for the effectiveness of the gospel.

If anything is the primary purpose of this code, it is to both ameliorate the harsher effects of patriarchy and to guide the head of the household into a new conception of his roles that Christianizes his conduct in various ways and so turns marriage into more of a partnership and household management more into a matter of actualizing biblical principles about love of neighbor and honoring others. Ephesians 5.21-33 323

The slave’s service is ultimately to the Lord, and the master’s supervision is to be done with full cognizance that he is accountable to the Lord for what he says and does. In other words, the slave’s actions cease to be mere servitude to a human master, and the master’s actions cease to be those of one who has absolute authority over another human being. Both parties are called on to be proactive, not reactive to their situations. In both cases their eyes must be on the Lord and on how to please him, not on mundane or merely human considerations and factors. Ephesians 6.1-9, 339

Paul closes the sermon in 6.10-24 by summing up the main points and with an exhortation to "stand firm" using the resources (armor and prayer) that God has provided in Christ. He reminds believers that they are in a spiritual battle with the forces of darkness. These "powers" have been defeated but Christians need to arm themselves with faith, righteousness and the blessings of their salvation. We experience the victory Christ has provided by means of the message of the gospel and prayer. God has provided all that Christians need to be victorious in this battle, but we are responsible to, daily, submit to the Spirit and and stand on those provisions.

The imagery here also suggests that while the evil age lasts there are still powerful forces of evil that can pester and persecute Christians and that Christians must be equipped to fend off. Believers fight from a position of strength since they are standing on the high ground, but they must never underestimate the power of the enemy...Prayer and proclamation of the gospel of peace are the believer’s two great offensive weapons against Satan. Nothing is said about deliverance or exorcism rituals. Ephesians 6.10-20, 352

All must come to the Father through Jesus the Son, and this is so because only the Son has provided the redemption and salvation which can transform both the world of humans and the cosmic realm and forces as well. The worldwide church inclusive of all human groups then becomes the visible image and microcosm of God’s plan. “As the community of the redeemed, both Jews and Gentiles, the church is the masterpiece of God’s grace (2:7). It is a realm of his presence and authority (1:22, 23; 2:22), the instrument through which his wisdom is made known to the spiritual powers in the heavenly realm (3:10).” Ephesians 6.21-24, 361

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Analysis of Proverbs 3.1-10

Proverbs 3.1-10 with parallel elements color coded

Parallel Elements in Proverbs 3.1-10

Proverbs 3.1-10 observed

Connections Between the Parallel ElementsProverbs 3.1-10 Summary 1

Proverbs 3.1-10 summaries #2

Summary statements for each unit of poetry

Outline of Proverbs 3.1-10

  • If you devote yourself to wise instruction you will tend to live a long and successful life
    • Command #1 – Devote yourself to the instructions of the wise
    • The result of keeping command #1 is a long and full life.
  • A life based on truth and characterized by mercy will bring you the favor of God and other people
    • Command #2 – Your life should be characterized by truth and mercy
    • The result of keeping command #2 is the favor of God and society
  • When you humbly and faithfully submit every area of your life to God you will tend to be healthier and more content
    • Command #3 – Humbly and faithfully submit yourself to God in thoughts, words and actions
      • You should trust in YHWH rather than yourself
      • You should entrust every area of your life to YHWH
      • Trusting in YHWH means to worship and obey Him
    • The result of keeping command #3 will be health and contentment
  • Use your wealth to honor God first and God will bless you by providing all you need and beyond.

Summary Statement of Proverbs 3.1-10

When one listens to wise instruction and submits every area of life to God they will be blessed physically, socially, materially and spiritually..

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Francis Chan, The Forgotten God

Forgotten GodOver the last couple weeks I have been reading Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, by Francis Chan. I have been blessed over the last couple years listening to his sermons on Youtube and I have read a couple of his other books and enjoyed them. One of the opening questions in the book really got to me, “If there was no Holy Spirit how would that affect you life and your church? How would it change?” Because we do (at least I do sometimes) often proceed with our lives without overtly thinking about what the Spirit wants or recognizing his work in our life, I think this is a good question to ask oneself periodically. Now, the Spirit is a sovereign person and works in our lives even when we are  not thinking about Him, but he wants us to “keep in step,” “be filled” and submit to His work in our lives and enjoy His presence.

One of the benefits for me of reading the book was a renewed emphasis on hearing what the Spirit is saying to me, or how He is leading me, if you prefer that language. I have always struggled in my life with a dedicated prayer life. Frankly it is hard to keep doing it when it feels like a one-way conversation. Since I have been sick I have been much more focused on listening for the Spirit and (why are we surprised when God keeps promises) and I have heard Him. Yes, there have been times of tremendous closeness with God, speaking into my life and definite proddings in my own spirit. In addition, I have been better able to recognize God’s voice and leading in the scriptures, in worship, and in the voices of His people. It is likely this was happening all along and I was just a little too busy to always hear it. That reminder in the book was more than worth spending the time in it.

Another thing I appreciated about the book was the balanced approach. All of us have been put off by “crazy excesses” or have been assaulted by someone with a “word from God for you”, that was obviously an attempt at controlling or a flight of megalomaniac fantasy. He deals with that in the book, but avoids the other extreme of throwing out all the sometimes strange and miraculous in the working of the Spirit. Again, as I listen, I find God giving discernment to recognize what is His voice and what is not. The Spirit will never draw you outside the parameters of scripture. We Christians believe in the supernatural. If we believe a man rose from the dead, it is not a stretch to believe that God can speak to us, as He did over and over to people in the Bible.

So, I would recommend the book to anyone who wants to focus more on “keeping step with the Spirit.” It is a well-balanced book which treats seriously the authority of scripture. God has given Francis Chan a way of stating things that brings new life and insight into truths we have known for a long time. A better awareness of what the Spirit is doing cannot help but draw us closer to God, grow us in our ability to serve and better accomplish what God is doing in our lives.

Reading Through Ephesians #1 (1-3)

witheringtonThis post begins the quick read through of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians accompanied by The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Captivity Epistles, by Ben Witherington III. Ephesians is written to defend the unity of the church. There is one people of God and they should not be divided by race, status or any other criteria. I am posting from my reading in the New Testament accompanied by various commentaries on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the book are in blue.

Witherington sees Ephesians as a sermon, rather than a standard epistle, which was circulated throughout the Asian region (the phrase "in Ephesus" is probably a later addition to the text). He would see it as a homily of Paul based mostly on Colossians. It is rhetoric designed to he heard and performed rather than just read. The big point of Ephesians is the unity of the church, based on shared means of entrance by grace through faith, being one "in Christ," one mission, and one Spirit, who enables the mission, with one destiny: to rule with Christ.

Paul has chosen to write such an epideictic masterpiece to Christians in Asia, using the style of Asiatic rhetoric...Though Ephesians is a general oration, it becomes a word on target by tapping into the rhetorical culture and predilections of the area. “You persuade a man only insofar as you talk his language by speech, gesture, tonality, order, image, attitude, idea, identifying your ways with his.” Paul has done this in Ephesians and done it well by his choice of style, form, and species of rhetoric. 222–223

Paul begins the sermon with a blessing on the listeners which recounts the work of all three persons of the Trinity in the salvation of all believers. Believers can have confidence in God's plan because he is the initiator and completer of salvation and thus guarantees all the promises of the kingdom.

The blessings that prompt the praise are election (1:4), predestination (1:5), redemption and forgiveness (1:7), revelation of the mystery (1:9), and being made God’s portion (1:11). This progression begins in the preexistent life of Christ and ends with the eschatological inheritance of the saints. In other words, this is a comprehensive presentation of the trajectory of salvation. Ephesians 1.1-14, 230

Christ becomes the locus of election and salvation because in Paul’s thinking the story of the people of God is whittled down to the story of Jesus the Anointed One and then built back up in the risen Christ thereafter. When Paul speaks of how a lost person gets “into Christ” he speaks on the more mundane level of preaching, hearing, responding in faith, not of God’s pre-choosing of our choices for us. This doctrine of corporate election in Christ is meant as a comfort for those who already believe, reassuring them that by God’s grace and their perseverance in the faith they can and will make the eschatological goal or finish line. Ephesians 1.1-14, 235

1.15-23 is a prayer that all believers will understand and apply what God has already done for them. The Trinity enables believers to know God and draws them into deeper relationship providing enlightenment about God's plans, ways and blessings. Christ has already defeated the powers of evil and rules over them, thus assuring believers of victory over sin and evil now and ultimately in the world to come. 

The proposition that is affirmed is that since God has placed Christ in the position of Lord over the powers, the world, and the church and since Christ is currently ruling all things for the sake of the church, the church is enabled to be the body of Christ in a dark world, fully manifesting the presence of Christ, who dwells in both the church and the world. Ephesians 1.15-23, 239

Paul is praying that God will expand and extend what the audience already knows. This is an understandable and appropriate prayer in an epideictic discourse meant to remind and reinforce existing realities and values. Ephesians 1.15-23, 241–242

He continues this idea in 2.1-10 reminding believers what happened to them at salvation. Believers were placed in "in Christ" and join him in his victory over sin, death and the powers of evil. This happened entirely by grace as we are made alive in the resurrected one, so that we could live out the lives God planned for us that include us in his kingdom. We all enter this only by faith in Christ. It is on this basis that all of us live our lives and serve in God's kingdom.

What Paul means is that by the Christian’s salvation experience we now have not only new life but power over sin which previously believers did not by nature have. He may also mean that believers have power over the powers and principalities. They can be resisted and will flee upon resistance (see 6:10–18). Thus figuratively Paul can say that “we” are already seated in the seat of power and authority in heaven, which likely means that believers have in part the power and authority “with Christ” that Christ exercises from that locale. Ephesians 2.1-10, 255

The logic is that “since God has already done so much for you, you should respond as follows.…” The language of realized eschatology is not meant to describe a fully completed salvation or even one predestined in advance. Paul is using strong language to persuade the audience of how much they have been blessed by God already, so that when he speaks of the not yet and of what they ought to do, he has a solid foundation on which to build. Ephesians 2.1-10, 256

Paul now gets to the main point of the sermon in the rest of chapter 2 and 3. The gospel's "secret" (the message that salvation is extended by grace without prejudice to the entire world through faith in Jesus Christ) places all peoples into the family of God and into one body of Christ. The dividing wall of the Torah has been broken down and fulfilled in Christ. All people are equal in their need for faith and in their status within the body of Christ. In chapter 3 he begins with his personal testimony of how he came to this understanding. God revealed to him this plan (along with the other apostles) to incorporate the Gentiles into the promises of Israel. This overcomes the desire of the dark powers to divide the world along ethnic and tribal lines. Thus, the key identifying trait of the church is unity across racial, class and status lines, and barriers broken by the love of Christ. Paul concludes the section with a prayer that Christians will trust in the Spirit to allow Christ to dwell in them through faith and that they will experience the kind of agape that Christ provides and live it out through the witness of their unity.

This entire Law, says Paul, has been annulled by the death of Christ, and the enmity and distance between peoples that it created has been destroyed by the death of Jesus in his own flesh. The purpose of this destruction was creation, creation of a new people of God composed of both Jew and Gentile, which here is called “one new person.” Thus both groups could be reconciled to God in one body of believers rather than having separate plans of salvation and reconciliation for Jews and Gentiles. Ephesians 2.11-22, 260–261

This secret’s revelation spells the doom of all the plans of the powers of darkness to divide the cosmos on the basis of racial or ethnic prejudices. The overcoming of the barrier between Jews and Gentiles betokens the overcoming of all such human and cosmic barriers in this universe. Christ will reconcile and pacify all. The existence of the church heralds the victory of Christ over the cosmic powers. Ephesians 3.1-13, 267

Paul is praying for the continuing presence of Christ within the Christians through faith. The verb katoikeo signifies literally to make a home or to settle down and so has in view a more permanent presence. That Paul is praying for this for those who are already Christians means that this is not automatically the case for converts who have already experienced the presence of Christ initially in their lives. Rather this happens through faith. Indeed it is contingent on the exercise of faith, “that is, as they trust him he makes their hearts his home.” Ephesians 3.14-24, 274

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Joyce and the GK’s at King’s Island


Wednesday Joyce took the three older grandkids to King’s Island amusement park. Samantha had won 4 free tickets and thought this was a good way to use them. (I agreed by the way – I have to be careful to not get too much sun and had already been out a bit too much) They were there all day and rode several roller coasters so it was a good day for all involved. Here are a few pictures.


I think the roller coasters were the most popular. They were “fun,” “amazing,” and “Awesome!” according to Titus, Serenity, and Courage. Titus added, “Best rides ever!”


Giant ice cream cones and Peanuts characters also added to the excitement


They also got close to animals

Reading Through Galatians #2 (4-6)

galatiansThis post concludes the read through of Paul’s letter to the Galatians accompanied by Galatians, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, by G. Walter Hansen. Paul calls us, and the Galatians to live our lives by faith in Christ and rely on His Spirit as we discipline our lives to serve and love  others. I am posting from my reading in the New Testament accompanied by various commentaries on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the book are in blue.

Paul continues his rebuke from scripture of the legalists in the Galatian church in chapter 4. First, he compares the role of the law to that of a pedagogue - discipline of a minor son. Now he makes the point that the need for a pedagogue is gone with the incarnation of Christ and the redemption he has provided. To go back to the law would be like an adult son going back under a kindergarten teacher. Paul then points to his own example of living as a Gentile in order to preach and live out the gospel before the Galatians. Had he not done that the Galatians would never have come into the family of God. Finally, he uses the story of Isaac and Ishmael to counter the arguments of the false teachers in the Galatian churches. The law was temporary, and to go back under it would be to reject the promise embodied in Christ and go back into a slavery that never enabled people to live as they should. Paul calls people to a freedom to live as representatives of the New Jerusalem fulfilling the promises of God.

Christ is uniquely qualified to fulfill these two purposes. Because he is the Son of God, he is able to give the position and rights of his sonship to sinful people. Because he became fully human, he is able to represent and redeem all humankind. And because he rendered perfect obedience to God and bore the curse of God against the disobedient, he is able to redeem those under the law. Galatians 4.1-11

The same practice of identification is necessary today, if we are going to communicate the gospel effectively to people. We must put ourselves in their place, eat what they eat, dress as they dress, talk their language, experience their joys and sorrows, and enter into their way of thinking. If we want people to become like us in our commitment to Christ, then we must become one with them. Galatians 4.12-20

The freedom-slavery and Spirit-flesh antitheses which Paul has constructed in his allegory serve as the framework for his ethical instructions in the rest of the letter. The children of the free woman, who were born by the power of the Spirit (v. 29) must learn to express their freedom by walking in the Spirit. They must not submit to slavery under the law or gratify the desires of the flesh. Identity is the basis of behavior: a clear understanding of who we are in Christ guides our conduct in the Spirit. Galatians 4.21-31

In chapter 5 Paul calls believers to live out and defend the freedom that Christ has provided. To rely on one's own works or membership in an ethnic group or church is to be "cut off" from Christ and his benefits. Instead, Paul calls us to live by the power of the Spirit, trusting Christ's righteousness. We live by faith, worked out in our lives by loving God and others. Nothing else counts with God. Next Paul exposes the methods and motives of the false teachers. The main thing false teachers do is deemphasize the gospel. With persuasive words and emphasis on ritual, (they appear to be very spiritual) they spread confusion and lies within the church. As they try to control the church they destroy it. Instead Paul calls Christians to live a life of love empowered by the Spirit. The Spirit filled life enables God's people to live in a way that brings glory to God and serves the needs of others. The law is not really needed to show us what those actions are (5.19). Paul does not dwell on the obvious sins, but on the ones that religious people do (envy, selfishness, ambition) to control others, advance their own agenda or indulge their own desires. In contrast the indwelling Spirit inevitably produces "fruit" - attitudes and actions of love that honor God and others above ourselves. This fulfills the purpose of the law to produce the image of God in God's people.

Paul does not appeal to his readers to fight to be free. Our Christian freedom is not the result of our long march. We have not liberated ourselves by our efforts. We are not able to do so. But now that freedom has been given to us by Christ, that freedom is our goal and our responsibility. Galatians 5:1-6

It is never pleasant to expose the deceptive, destructive tactics of the “false brothers.” But it is necessary to do so in order to protect the freedom of fellow Christians. Of course circumcision is not an issue today. But we are constantly faced with a choice between different religious options. They are not all the same; they are not all spokes on a wheel leading to the same hub. Some religious options lead to slavery and imprisonment. Only by obedience to the truth of the gospel of Christ can we protect the freedom that is ours in Christ. Galatians 5:7-12

The Spirit sets the line and the pace for us to follow. Keeping in step with the Spirit takes active concentration and discipline of the whole person. We constantly see many alternative paths to follow; we reject them to follow the Spirit. We constantly hear other drummers who want to quicken or slow down our pace; we tune them out to listen only to the Spirit. Galatians 5:13-26

Paul closes the main argument of the letter in 6.1-10 by emphasizing that real Christian spirituality and leadership are seen as we evaluate ourselves based on the standard of the self-giving love of Christ that took him to the cross and by fulfilling our responsibilities to serve other Christians and the corporate needs of the church. This especially includes gently helping to restore sinners within the church and supporting the church's leaders/teachers. The motive for this is that everything we do to serve Christ and love others is an investment in eternal reward. This is why we must persevere in doing good to one another as we build the church family together.  

All who are united with Christ and are led by the Spirit will also fulfill the high standard of love established by the life, death and resurrection of Christ: like him, they will love sinners and carry their burdens. Serving one another in love in this way expresses Christ’s love and so fulfills Christ’s law. Galatians 6.1-2

We are not victims of fate, bad luck or even predestination. Our destiny is determined by our decision: shall we sow to the sinful nature or to the Spirit? The old proverb is true: “Sow a thought, reap an act; sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” Galatians 6.3-10

Paul closes the letter with a greeting written in his own hand. First, he summarizes the main point of the letter. The false teachers are really only concerned about their own reputations, personal safety and ethnic pride. In contrast real Christians have "died" to those things and are concerned about following Jesus in self-sacrificial love for God and others. This is the way to real peace with God and with one another and is the way that God's people will share together in the blessings of his kingdom.

All prideful boasting is excluded by the cross of Christ, because identification with Christ in his death on the cross results in the death of all reasons for such boasting...The world is characterized by prideful boasting about national identity, social status and religious practices. When I live in the world, my life will inevitably be characterized by such boasting. But when I die, the way of the world will no longer govern my life. My belief in the cross of Christ includes not only the realization that he died for me to rescue me from judgment under the law of God, but also the constant awareness that I must reckon myself to have died with him. Galatians 6.11-18

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Reading Through Galatians #1 (1-3)

galatiansThis post begins the quick read through of Paul’s letter to the Galatians accompanied by Galatians, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, by G. Walter Hansen. Galatians is written to correct the serious error of forcing Gentile Christians to adopt the rules and rites of the Torah to be part of the fellowship of the church. Paul calls this “another gospel” which is not a gospel. I am posting from my reading in the New Testament accompanied by various commentaries on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the book are in blue.

Paul writes the letter to the Galatians to address the issue that the churches there were adding Jewish law and restrictions to the gospel and requiring these customs to be part of the church fellowship. Paul counters this with his own personal example and scriptural witness that: Because God pronounces us righteous and to be part of his kingdom people by grace through faith alone, we must accept all people who trust in Christ and the gospel message without additional requirements as God's family, and we must live by God’s grace through faith alone in the power of the Spirit, free from the law and free from sin, to serve and love God in unity with people from all nations, cultures and stations in life.

In Galatians Paul develops his argument for justification by faith in order to correct a social problem: Gentile believers have been excluded from fellowship with Jewish believers because they did not observe the law. Paul demonstrates that justification by faith means that Gentile believers are included within the people of God; on the basis of this doctrine Gentile believers have the right to eat at the same table with Jewish believers. Intro to Galatians

We cannot attain moral perfection by trying to observe the Mosaic law (3:2–3), nor can we win moral victory over the sinful nature’s desires by submitting to the guidance of the Mosaic law (5:13–18). But what the law cannot do God does by his grace: through the cross of Christ he removes the curse of the law (3:13); by the Spirit he reproduces the righteous character of his Son in us (5:22–23) so that the ultimate moral standard of the law is fulfilled (5:14; 6:2). Intro to Galatians

Paul begins the letter with a short standard greeting and then launches right into a strong rebuke of the church. They have transformed the gospel into something that does not save by adding the requirements of Jewish custom and law to it as necessary for membership and fellowship in the church. To add anything to grace and faith, or to the work of Christ, for entry into or participation the fellowship of the church, is to negate the gospel and must be resisted without exception.

Grace is God’s unconditional, unearned acceptance of us accomplished through the love-gift of Christ. The experience of grace by faith results in peace, a sense of harmony and completeness in our relationship with God and with one another. To look for grace and peace from any person, organization or activity in the world is to forget that God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are the only source of these blessings. Galatians 1:1-5

We need to understand that Paul was willing to accommodate himself to differences in matters such as what foods to eat or what days to celebrate (Rom 14–15; 1 Cor 8–10), but when the central truth of the gospel was at stake, he drew a clear line and refused to compromise...While we should seek to maintain harmony in a context of religious pluralism by showing tolerance and respect for people of other religious persuasions, this should not lead us to compromise in any way the exclusiveness of the true gospel of Christ. Galatians 1:6-10

Paul defends his position, first, with an autobiographical argument in the rest of chapter 1 and 2. Paul's point is that he did not receive the gospel, or his commission to share it, from any person, including the apostles. He received it directly from Jesus and it carries the authority of God Himself. The gospel, not the law or Jewish rituals, changed Paul from being a persecutor of the church to being one of its leading spokesmen.

God’s revelation of his Son is a personal, inward experience of the heart, but it was not meant to be kept private. The purpose of revelation is evangelism. The fruit of true conversion is mission. Evangelism is not some optional extra, an elective course that may or may not be taken. It is the inevitable result of real conversion. Galatians 1:11-24

Paul then describes a confrontation with Peter and some Jewish Christians regarding this issue. Because of ethnic pressure, these Jewish Christians, including Peter and Barnabas had withdrawn fellowship from their Gentile fellow believers. Paul rebukes this as a denial of the gospel. The gospel is not just spiritual but has social implications. Paul was vindicated when the Jerusalem council did not require Titus to be circumcised. The bottom line is that Paul draws his identity primarily from his relationship with Christ and not from ethnicity or any other connection.

Whenever we identify ourselves as American Christians, or British Christians, or Chinese Christians, or German Christians, we must be aware that being American, British, Chinese or German may easily become more important to us than being Christian. Galatians 2.12-14

Paul’s confession of faith expresses his own experience that Christ, not the law, is the source of life and righteousness. The reason for his personal confession was his insistence that Jewish and Gentile believers should not be separated as the law demands, but united as the truth of the gospel demands. His new spiritual identity—I no longer live, but Christ lives in me—is the basis of his new social identity. Galatians 2.15-21

Paul now moves to his scriptural argument that inclusion in God's family does not come from becoming Jewish, but from faith in Christ. First he points to the reception of the Spirit and all his blessings that happened by faith alone. Then he points out that Abraham received the promise and blessing long before the law came into existence. He then explains the nature of the law: it was a temporary restraint on sin until Christ, the promised seed brought in the blessing. Thus, the key to blessing in God's family is faith in and identification with Christ, not ethnic identity or religious observance.

Whereas the law made a division between Jews and Gentiles, Christ, the promised seed of Abraham, is the center of a new unity of Jews and Gentiles. The people of God are no longer identified by ethnic origins, but by union with Christ. Galatians 3.1-18

But the giving of the law was not the final goal of God’s plan. The law was an essential step, but only a step,  toward the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises in Christ. Christ is the beginning, end and center of God’s plan. Galatians 3.19-25

When men exclude women from significant participation in the life and ministry of the church, they negate the essence of the gospel. Some will argue that the equality Paul defends here is only in the “spiritual” sphere: equality before God. But Paul’s argument responds to a social crisis in the church: Gentiles were being forced to become Jews to be fully accepted by Jewish Christians. Paul’s argument is that Gentiles do not have to become Jews to participate fully in the life of the church. Neither do blacks have to become white or females become male for full participation in the life and ministry of the church. Galatians 3.28

A Day at Summit Park in Blue Ash Ohio


Earlier this week we got to spend an afternoon in a beautiful community park. If you look closely (above) you can see that even Mike was with us by phone.


The bench swings were my favorite piece of park equipment


The kids enjoyed the playground equipment…


And the natural grassy slide as well

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Structure and Message of 2 Corinthians

Structure chart 2 Corinthians

The Message of 2nd Corinthians

Christian leaders live out the cross in a ministry willing to sacrifice and suffer for the truth and for the benefit of God's people. They understand that it is internal character change, brought about through the Spirit, which is important and not external ability. Such leaders should be obeyed, honored and supported.

Contrast of Paul and the “Super-Apostles”

Paul and the Super Apostles compared

True Christian Leadership is Cross-Shaped

Reading Through 2 Corinthians #3 (10-13)

schenk 1 CorinthiansThis post concludes the read through of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians still accompanied by 1 & 2 Corinthians: A Commentary for Bible Students, by Kenneth Schenck. Paul concludes 2 Corinthians with a rebuke in chapters 10-13. He warns the church that if they do not respond he will be tough on them when he returns to Corinth. I am posting from my reading in the New Testament accompanied by various commentaries on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the book are in blue.

In chapters 10-13 Paul changes his tone from reconciliation to rebuke. It is possible that here he is changing his focus from those who repented to those who still opposed him. It is also possible that this section is from a later letter that addresses those who did not follow through on their promised repentance. In chapter 10 he affirms his desire to be gentle and humble with them, but also assures them he is willing to assert his apostolic authority frankly and with power if that is what it takes to save them from destruction and build them up. He reluctantly talks about his qualifications of birth, calling and visions from God, but says that he would rather speak of what he has endured as a servant of God and how God has worked through his weaknesses.

The purpose of flexing his authority is to build them up, to bring them into proper relationship with God and to where they need to be in the faith. His authority is not the problem. The problem is their refusal to obey God’s commands as Paul has made them clear to the Corinthians. 2 Corinthians 10, 315

True greatness is to be connected to the cosmic power source of the universe, whose resources and strength are without measure. For when I am weak, then I am strong (12:10). Our human weakness and difficulty only give us a chance to turn to God’s power. When God turns on the power, it brings a voltage far greater than anything we could produce on our own. 2 Corinthians 11.1-12.10, 327

He closes the letter by warning the Corinthians that he will be tough with them when he makes his 3rd visit to them. However, he would rather that they repent and he could come to them gently. He urges them to be unified and deal with the issues he has raised. If they do that God will work through them in a powerful way. He closes with a beautiful benediction that has been used in Christian worship throughout church history.

While Paul wants to clear himself, he is far more concerned with furthering true understanding and behavior that is true to God. May God help us to have the same attitude when we are wrongly treated in the church! 2 Corinthians 12.11-13.10, 333

Paul tells the Corinthians to be of one mind and to live in peace (2 Cor. 13:11). The potential pay-off was great: And the God of love and peace will be with you (13:11), words that are easy to understand—too easy. We should linger on every word until the depth of this promise sinks into our deepest soul. 2 Corinthians 13.11-14, 334

More Pictures From Cincinnati 2


We have enjoyed the last two weeks in Cincinnati. (One more week to go) It was good that we were here since Samantha needed to go to El Paso for a couple days to help her mother with a medical issue. We would appreciate your prayers for Samantha’s mom, Martha Santana. In the meantime, as you can see above, Joyce is getting in some quality grandma time with Arete, and of course with all 4 of our GK’s in Ohio.


Library trips and water fights…I even got to meet a unicorn


There has been some “screen time” but also books and building projects

Friday, June 08, 2018

A Day at the Ballpark (Cincinnati)


Thursday we had a fun afternoon at the ballpark with the four grandkids. My dream vacation is to tour the United States and see a game in every major league ballpark. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to do that but I have seen games in every major league ballpark in California and Texas. I also saw a game in Kansas City once. I’ve now added the Cincinnati Reds to that list. We had fun munching on unlimited hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, and soft drinks. The game went extra innings and we saw a walk-off homerun. We even won free pizza because Reds’ pitchers struck out 11 batters. All in all, a great day. It’s on days like this that I especially thank God that I am still around to enjoy these relationships and experiences.


The cotton candy and pictures with Rosie were a big hit, although Arie wasn’t too sure about Rosie


Our seats were right behind home plate on the top tier of the stadium. A great spot to see the game.