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Tag: philippians

True Change

True change always happens on the inside. Changing your outward appearance (whether that’s your looks, your deeds or your words) is really just dressing up what’s on the inside. In order to truly change, you must change from the inside out.

Paul knew the secret to being joyful in all circumstances was found not in outward circumstances and actions, but in inward peace and action. His final chapter reads as a bullet list for how to affect change on the inside:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

Anxious on the inside? Bring it before the Lord in prayer.

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 these things. Philippians 4:8

Struggling with sin? Shift the focus of your thinking.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Philippians 4:11-12

Always needing more stuff? Practice contentment.

It sounds simple, but it’s incredibly difficult. Unless of course, like Paul, you aren’t doing it on your own:

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

A Boy Named Alexander

Are you familiar with Alexander? He was the boy who had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Sometimes I have days like that. Or several terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days (or even weeks or months) strung together. It’s easy to turn away from God in the midst of those days.

Matt Redman has a song called 10,000 Reasons about the Christian’s response on those days. It’s based on Psalm 103. The final verse says:

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

The apostle Paul had every reason to be depressed or despondent about his circumstances. In prison awaiting potential execution, chained 24 hours a day to a roman soldier, he wrote the book of Philippians. Its dominant theme? Joy.

His response is best captured in Philippians 4:4:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4

Despite the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad circumstances of his life (according to earthly standards anyway…), Paul chooses joy as his response. It’s a joy rooted not in the happenings around him, but in Jesus Christ. Facing one of the toughest times in life, I think he would have sung with Matt Redman, “Still my soul will sing Your praise unending, ten thousand years and then forevermore.” What about you?

Television Fast

At rooted this past weekend, we looked at Philippians 4:4-9.  Here’s what it says:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 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 these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

While talking about verses 6-7, we got into a conversation about prayer and worry.  One student challenged whether or not prayer really helps with anxiety.  The argument was that the project/homework you’re worrying about doesn’t go away when you pray, so you’re just losing that time to work on things.  How does that help?  I shared something Luther once wrote:

I have so much to do (today) that I should spend the first three hours in prayer.

I challenged this student to get up an hour earlier one day to pray and see what happens.

Then we got into verse eight.  It led to a side discussion about the things we fill our minds with.  The question was asked, “Is listening to Taylor Swift wrong?”  No. But it also isn’t best.  Something doesn’t have to be bad for it not to be the best thing for us.  The best would be to fill our mind with worship music that glorifies and praises God instead of secular music.

My struggle is less with music and more with television.  My “Best” would be not watching TV and spending that time reading the Word instead.  The same student from earlier offered to make a deal with me.  She’d wake up early three days this week to pray for an hour if I’d skip the television shows I normally watch and read my Bible instead.  (Except for American Idol, which was a trade-off for two days where she has an extra early start to the day) 

Sounds like a deal.

So this evening I skipped House and 24 and read 1 John all the way through and ready most of the study notes for the book.  Tomorrow I get to watch American Idol, but I miss Heroes on Netflix and The Mentalist.  Wednesday I skip Lost and Friday I skip Doll House

So far, I don’t have the shakes.  Just in case you were wondering… 🙂

Rooted 2: Philippians 1:9-18

We had our 2nd rooted yesterday during the final quarter of the Bills game.  I was impressed with how little grumbling there was about that, but maybe it had something to do with the fact that we couldn’t watch most of the game because of power outages anyway. 

It was a great time together with the youth.  Here are a few things that I liked about this session that were improvements over the first:

  • We’re getting used to the style/format of the study.  Students seemed more comfortable this time than last, when they weren’t sure what to expect.
  • There seemed to be more sharing this time, and not just shallow, surface-level answers.  I hope to see this go even deeper as we get into this more.
  • Students stopped me at least twice from moving on because they hadn’t shared everything they wanted to from the previous question.
  • We had an especially good discussion on giving.  The question asked us to look at when churches might have “greedy” motives instead of pure ones.  We talked about giving as a spiritual indicator, how much we should give and whether God uses our giving even when it comes from wrong motivation.
  • There was also an interesting diversion where we brought out a point from the Love Out Loud theme from Workcamp.  It’s still fresh in their minds and hearts, which is a joy to see.  I asked them to consider Piqua, Ohio as one of their Spiritual Memorials.  I challenged them to return to Piqua in 5 or 10 years and drive around the community and remember what God did in their lives there.

rooted

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17b-19

I’m excited to be kicking off our new year with a great new Bible study for our Crossroads youth.  Here are some highlights:

  • Studying Philippians in 9 sessions
  • Meeting in homes
  • Teaching students how to study the Bible.  What is a study Bible?  How is it helpful?  Where do we go for other resources?  What’s the big deal with all these translations?  Are commentaries helpful?
  • Students prepare work ahead of time by reading and answering some guiding questions in their journal.
  • Interactive.  There’s no teacher, just a facilitator and the group.
  • We’ll be praying together.

I’m looking at Sunday afternoon/evening for this class, but I’m not locked in to that completely yet.  My question for High School Parents:

  • When is the best time to meet on Sundays that would be the least strain on the family unit?  (ie, right after church, just before dinner, after dinner, etc.)
  • Is there a better day to meet?

Intimate, Personal Relationships

We’re working through Philippians at staff meetings currently.  We’ve been through the first two chapters now and one thing that really stands out to me is Paul’s relationship with the people of Philippi.  You can just feel the love in this book.  It’s a wonderful glimpse of what God’s love for us is like.

Philippians is also going to be the book we’re studying for Crossroads: Rooted next year.  Rooted is a Bible study intended for High School students looking to go deeper in their relationship with Christ, to grow deep roots.  Our theme verses are:

Ephesians 3:14-19
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Jeremiah 17:7-8
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
   whose trust is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted by water,
   that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
   for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
   for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Colossians 2:6-7
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

I’m looking forward to growing roots with our youth next school year.  Think you might be interested in leading this ministry?  Let’s talk.

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