You Can Have Unity Even When You Don’t Get Along (pt2)

Even in the Bible, nobody gets along all the time.

 

However, disagreement doesn’t have to disrupt our unity and love for one another.

In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul shares a simple truth that leads to an effective stragety for working through conflict while keeping the peace.

It’s all in your head.

Seriously, how you think about the situation determines how you act in the middle of it.  More importantly, what you believe about the other person determines how you behave towards them.

Paul shares this instruction with a church that had some serious disagreement going on, and along with the prescription comes a promise.

“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.
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things,
and the God of peace will be with you.”  -Philippians 4:8-9 (emphasis added)

Prayerfully practice the art of separating the issue from the individual.

Find the good in them and make that the focus of your heart instead of all the reasons why they’re wrong.

Don’t be afraid to tackle the subject on which you disagree, but if you see the person through the lens of love, you can preserve your unity and the conflict will lead to life.

NOTE: You can read part 1 of this post here.

You Can Have Unity Even When You Don’t Get Along (pt1)

Do you have people in your life with whom you just don’t get along?

“I entreat Euodia and 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…” -Philippians 4:2

How comforting to know that even at the very beginning of the Church, some people just had a hard time getting along.

Think about it: if they couldn’t all agree then, we’re not going to all agree now, and that doesn’t make us bad people or sub-par Christians.

It just makes us human.

The other good news, though, is that disagreement doesn’t have to result in division!

Just a few lines after this instruction from Paul, he shares a Spirit-led strategy for peace in the midst of conflict.

To be continued… (click here)

You Were Designed for Transformation

You were not designed for standing still.

“For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” -1 Corinthians 4:20

The goal and growth of a disciple is not information, not inspiration, not even transformation.  It is INCARNATION, truly becoming the body of Christ on the earth.

This is a particular type of transformation that must —and does— affect each and every sphere of our life, causing each area to develop more and more into the image of Christ.

This is not accomplished through self-effort, but rather through supernatural empowerment by the Holy Spirit of God.

Our task is simply to yield to His Word and work in our lives and let Him accomplish the transformation.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. -2 Corinthians 3:18

As we continue moving “from glory to glory” and as we are consistently “beholding the glory of the Lord,” we will find those places in our life that look nothing like His.  Those are the places Jesus wants to transform and grow, and when we discover those places we can rejoice!

Why?

Because the solution is not to strive harder to “be Christlike,” but rather to surrender our right and our wills and our comfort-level in those areas and simply do what disciples are designed to do: follow.

When we do that, the burden is off our shoulders to change our life, and Jesus takes over to begin a glorious transformation indeed.

 

Hope Will Help You Hang On

Do you ever find it hard to just “hang in there?”

We heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.” -Colossians 1:4-5

Sometimes it’s hard to have faith when the world around us is so disappointing.

Often it’s truly hard to love others, because let’s face it: sometimes people just make themselves hard to love.

Yet, something happens when the heart begins to dwell on the hope of the glorious future Jesus promises His people.  We look to a life and a world with no more pain, sorrow or suffering, no more disappointments or letdowns or betrayals, and that hope has a way of strengthening the soul.

If I know deliverance is coming, then I  know I can hang in there one more day.

…And so can you.

 

Should Women Be Allowed to Preach?

I love getting “theological” questions because it gives me a chance to dig into subjects that I don’t always have occasion to explore.  If you like that sort of thing, welcome to “Theology Thursdays!”  If not, stay tuned for tomorrow’s post.

— Pastor Phillip


QUESTION: My cousin was asking about 1 Timothy 2:8-12 because it makes it sound like women shouldn’t preach.  How would you respond?

Well, good thing THAT’S not a loaded subject…

The other day a friend of mine sent me this question via text message, and I replied that I wanted to make sure and do my research before replying.  Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve run across this issue, but I always try to get a “refresher” before commenting on things that have the potential for controversy, and this is definitely one of them.

Let’s look at the text in question, but let’s expand it two verses to get a fuller picture.  I have formatted the text to better break up the thought patterns.

“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;
likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel,
with modesty and self-control,
not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,
but with what is proper for women who profess godliness:
with good works.
Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.
I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
For Adam was formed first, then Eve;
and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”
-1 Timothy 2:8-14

Now, let’s work on this…

SECTION 1, “in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands…”
Starting with Paul’s instruction that “in every place the men should pray,” the classic text-analysis resource Vincent’s Word Studies says “Wherever Christian congregations assemble.  Not every place indiscriminately.”  Of course, we are encouraged elsewhere to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), which would of course include EVERY place we go, but to think that men should walk around with their hands held high everywhere they go is just silly.  Therefore, we see that the context of Paul’s instructions in this section is related to “every place” that the Church is gathered for the exercise of corporate worship.

SECTION 2, “likewise also…women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel…”
Paul then addresses the issue of how women are to dress, that it should be in “respectable apparel.”  He goes on to talk about modesty, self-control, and good works, things which obviously are not literal “apparel”, as much as they are outward indicators of the inward state of a woman’s heart.

Is Paul saying women should never braid their hair or wear jewelry?  No, he’s saying that true followers of Jesus won’t let those become the main focus of their life and won’t use the assembly of the Church as an avenue to draw attention to their own ego.  He’s saying that the way of the Kingdom is not to refuse luxuries, but to let them take a back seat to more important things like good works that benefit others.

SECTION 3, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.”
In a culture that often did not permit women to receive any kind of education, Paul writes that women absolutely should have the opportunity to learn, but that they must do so with a respectful attitude, not causing a scene and constantly questioning what is being taught in the assembly (I’m sure you’ve met those women…)  His point is not that women have no right to open their mouths, but that they shouldn’t be interrupting and disrupting the flow of the gathering.  This is the same principle as his instruction about adornment, that it’s about a heart that desires to behave in a way that benefits others.

Now, as a side note, Paul’s teaching as a whole extends this instruction to men as well.  Here’s what he writes in 1 Corinthians 14:26-30.

“What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent.

A few verses later, Paul writes the reason for all of this: “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace…But all things should be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:33a, 40)

He continues in 1 Corinthians with another instruction that is related to our primary text of 1 Timothy…

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?
(1 Corinthians 14:33-36)

On the surface level, it seems like Paul is saying women should indeed keep their mouths closed whenever the Church comes together, but looking at one more passage reveals this cannot be the case.

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven.
(1 Corinthians 11:3-5)

When Paul writes about head coverings, he’s assuming that women WILL not only pray, but “prophesy,” that is, share a Word from God with the assembled Church body.  What he’s doing, though, is tying the way in which these things are shared to three important principles.

1) Act in a way that the culture recognizes as respectful (in that day, head coverings),
2) Act in a way that promotes order and peace in the gathering of the Church, not disorder and confusion, and
3) Act in a way that is in line with God’s established order of authority and responsibility (“the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”)

Now, let’s go back to the passage in 1 Timothy and look at it again in light of these principles.

SECTION 4

“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.
I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
For Adam was formed first, then Eve;”  (1 Timothy 2:11-13)

In our culture, is it disrespectful or disorderly or disruptive for a woman to be educated?  Of course not.  Do any of those negative elements come into play when women teach in general?  Absolutely not!  In fact, many women are such excellent teachers that to deny them that right would be an insult to the God who made them that way.

The two keys to understanding Paul’s intent —and more importantly, our responsibility today— are about order and authority.  In Paul’s letter to Timothy, in his letter to the Corinthians and in many places all throughout Scripture, we see that God has designed a beautiful world of harmonious cycles and systems, of rhythms and hierarchies that are designed to maximize the joy and purpose of all of His creations.

Ants and bee hives have queen bees because that’s how God designed them.

Elephant herds and prides of lions have alpha males that ensure order within the group because that’s how God designed them.

Even within the Godhead, we see that the Son chooses to be in subjection to the Father (John 8:28, John 17:1), the Spirit flows out from the will of the Son (John 15:26), and the Father serves both the Son and the Spirit in the way He loves and gives to them (see John 3:35, John 5:20, John 8:50).

God’s design for the universe is patterned after His own essence: not a hierarchy of importance or value, but a particular order of roles and functions in which everything flows in harmony.

Because we are far-removed from the culture and context of Paul’s day, we have to dig a little deeper into what he means when he writes, which is what we’ve done.  We see, then, that for a women to “be silent” is like the way she “adorns herself.”  Yes, it’s about actions but it’s more about the attitude of the heart.  We see that women have a right both to pray and to bring Words from God (to prophesy), and that when they do so it should be done in a way that is orderly and respectful (an instruction that also is given to men in multiple places.)

We see also that for “a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man” is not so much about whether she stands up and shares something from the Lord or from her heart, but is much more about whether or not she is over-reaching in the role that God has assigned to her.  It’s like Jesus the Son trying to call the shots instead of God the Father.  Nobody would say that the Son is any less important than the Father, but they each have their part to play.

In the same way, God has laid a foundation of a flow of authority from Himself to His Church.  Then, in the Church it flows from male elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9) to the other gifted people who exercise their gifts and individual authority under the protective umbrella of the spiritual authority of the men God has appointed to the role of overseers.

Finally, Paul writes one more thing to elaborate the importance of this point.

SECTION 5: “Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”
I like how the ESV translation of the Bible renders the account of the Fall of Mankind in Genesis 3:6.

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”  (emphasis added)

Think about that for a moment.

Adam was right there and he said nothing to his wife about what she was about to do.  He did nothing to prevent her taking a step that they had both been warned against and assured would lead to their death.  Yes, Eve took the fruit and ate, but Adam failed in his responsibility to fulfill his role in the creative order, which was to protect and care for all of God’s creation and especially his wife.

The principle is that as the Son and Spirit play the role of partner and “helper” to the Father as the Father oversees to ensure the good of the others, so it is in the family and so it is in the Church.

It is the responsibility and burden of men to be overseers and shepherds, caretakers and providers for their homes and their Churches, and to do everything they can to maximize the joy and effectiveness of everyone under their care.  They must seek to provide and promote opportunities for women to exercise the gifts God has given them for the building up of the church, and also must try to protect them from absorbing more weight, responsibility and authority than they were designed to carry.

Women should share Words from the Lord publicly as He gives them, and should instruct and give insight into things as God has enabled them.  They should not, however, have to or try to take on the weight of the primary “teaching authority” or “senior pastor” of the Church.  This has nothing to do with capability or privilege and everything to do with calling and protection.  It is not because they have less value or ability then men but because they are too valuable to be placed in situations where their gifts would be overshadowed by a yoke that their shoulders were not designed to carry.

So, speak up, sisters, and rejoice in the fact that like the metal setting of a precious jewel, our Father has provided in the Church a setting of authority designed to highlight you and make sure that whatever your gifting is, it has the opportunity to shine.

Set list for Adore (10/19/12)

There is NOTHING like praising Jesus as ONE Church.

What a great time we had last Friday at Adore!  Coming together as ONE Church in our city is always a blessing, and more importantly, blesses the heart of God.

Several people asked me about the set list, so I thought it would be fun to post a list of the songs we sang and the people who participated, to show how God is working in so many different people in many different churches in our area.  As always, it’s an honor to partner with such great folks that God is using in powerful ways.

Do you have a story of how God touched you at Adore?  I’d love to rejoice with you and share it with the team!  Post it in the comments below or on the Adore Facebook page and let’s give God glory by the testimonies of His work in our lives.

May you be blessed in Christ as you pursue a life of worship and a heart of praise.
– Phillip

// THE SET LIST //
These are the songs we sang, the original artists who sing them, and the people who led them at Adore.

“Rise” – Hillsong [Brian]
“Here For You” – Matt Redman [Travis]
“Cornerstone” – Hillsong [Phillip]
“Sins Are Stones” – John Mark McMillan [Travis]
“Made Me Glad” – Hillsong [Kristen]
“Endless Light” – Hillsong [Brian]

[PRAYER TIME]

“What Joy (Psalm 146)” – Generation Church [Kristen]
“I Breathe You In God” – Bryan & Katie Torwalt [Kristen]
“Take Heart” – Hillsong United [Phillip]
“10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” – Matt Redman [Cole]
“Greater Than All” – Hillsong [Travis]

– – – – – – – – – –

// THE TECH TEAM //
Cole Jennette, logistics [Riverside Church]
Sinelli Popowicz, sound [First Assembly of God]
Ryan Gates, lights [Next Level Church]
Rachel Campbell, lyrics [Riverside Church]

// THE BAND (from left to right) //
Tom Eberhardt, Electric Guitar [Next Level Church]
Daniel Schroeder, Keyboard/loops [McGregor Baptist Church]
Brian Keating, Acoustic Guitar [First Assembly of God]
Sam VanDynHoven, Bass [First Assembly West]
Zane Elliott, Drums [First Assembly West/McGregor Baptist]
Travis Boyd, Acoustic Guitar [McGregor Baptist Church]
Jordan Batty, Percussion [First Assembly West]
Jonny Forsythe, Electric Guitar [First Assembly of God]

// THE WORSHIP LEADERS (in order of the set list) //
Brian Keating [First Assembly of God]
Travis Boyd [McGregor Baptist Church]
Phillip Gonzales [Gateway Grace Fellowship/outpostChurch]
Kristen VanDynHoven [First Assembly West]
Cole Jennette [Riverside Church]

When You Trust God, His Grace Gives You Strength

Think about this for a moment: When you and I doubt God’s grace, we fall into the same trap that the serpent prepared for our first parents in the garden.

It means we are listening to the sly voice of the deceiver when he says…

“God doesn’t really love you.
He doesn’t really have your best interest in mind.
He won’t really come through on His promises to you, won’t really provide for you.”

If you believe this, you will begin to draw away from God and His presence and draw closer to whatever “forbidden fruit” you feel will step in to provide whatever you think the Father is withholding from you.

Yet, for each one of us, on the days that we do this, we die a little more inside.

How much greater it is for us to turn our eyes away from the pale fruit of lifeless, forbidden things, and instead feast our eyes and our souls and our spirits on the goodness of God in Christ and the glory of the wonder of the cross!

How much stronger in heart we are when we let the Spirit nurture and provide for us, rather than seeking sustenance elsewhere in things that will never satisfy!

May you close your ears to the lies of the serpent and open your eyes to the grace of God.  That’s the place you will find strength as you trust that whatever His methods and timing for working in your life, they are ultimately and always for His glory and your joy.

Always.

Do You Want to See More Miracles in Your Life?

I subscribe to an excellent free resource from an organization called Koinonia House, the ministry of Bible teacher Chuck Missler.  It’s called “K-House eNews” and it’s a weekly e-mail update that includes brief news highlights from around the world and medium-sized articles on Scripture and life.  If you’re interested, you can subscribe here.

The past two issues have featured an EXCELLENT series on “Faith and Miracles” that blessed me very much, so I thought I’d share it here.  There are six articles, each about a page-and-a-half long.

Enjoy!

— Pastor Phillip


Faith and Miracles: a six-part series of articles from Koinonia House

Part I: Faith in What?
“Have faith,” people will often say when troubles come along, even people who don’t claim to follow Jesus Christ. Billy Joel once crooned about “keeping the faith” complete with a music video. Faith is popular.  When people tell us to have “faith” though, we ought to ask, “Faith in what?…
Read more: http://www.khouse.org/enews_article/2010/1704/


Part II: A Mustard Seed and An Empty Fridge
Sheri Munson gazed into her refrigerator. She saw a box of Arm & Hammer baking soda, a bottle of ancient mustard, and some very old packets of soy sauce. The barren cupboards held a can of pumpkin and the last cup of a bag of rice. That was basically it.  Sheri had five children to feed. As she stared into her empty cupboards, she said, “Okay Lord. I’m going to trust you. You’ve brought me this far. I can’t believe you’re going to let me fall off a cliff now. You said you would be my husband. Please provide for us…”
Read more: http://www.khouse.org/enews_article/2012/1707/


Part III: Even Our Hairs – Hamster Time
When we hear [miraculous] sorts of stories, we’re grateful for God’s coming through in times of great need. However, we don’t always think that God is willing to take care of us in the “small” things too, things that maybe not all people will recognize as important.  Fear and doubt edge into our prayer-lives in a variety of ways…
Read more: http://www.khouse.org/enews_article/2010/1710/


Part IV: Expecting The Unexpected
In 1933, when education guru John Dewey and 33 others signed the Humanist Manifesto, they were casting off what they saw as the outdated chains of established religion. They were forming a religion of their own, one in which man made the ultimate determinations of good and bad, right and wrong…
Read more: http://www.khouse.org/enews_article/2012/1999/


Part V: The Fiery Furnace
The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego is one of the most fun miracles in the Old Testament.  These three Hebrews stood up to King Nebuchadnezzar and were thrown into the furnace for it. They obeyed God and remained faithful to Him, trusting that God could marvelously, miraculously save them…
Read more: http://www.khouse.org/enews_article/2012/1998/


Part VI: But If Not
“But see, there’s a problem when Grandma prays to be healed and she isn’t healed. She thinks she doesn’t have strong enough faith or that God doesn’t love her. What about Grandma?” – An anonymous skeptic …
Read more: http://www.khouse.org/enews_article/2012/2000/

Are You A Good Citizen?

What does it look like to be a good citizen?

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” -Philippians 3:20

Years ago, I’m told, every American public school had a class called “Civics.”  (Apparently some still do, but not many.)

In it, so I hear, children were taught the basic ideas and ideals of our country, and how to play their part in upholding them for the good of our nation.

They learned, basically, how to be good citizens.

A good citizen doesn’t ignore the flaws and shortcomings of their country, but speaks well of their homeland anyway and resolves not simply to criticize, but to contribute to improvement.

A good citizen promotes and participates in the growth and flourishing of their country, desiring to see its influence expand for the good of all people.

A good citizen does their part financially, whether they fully agree or not, because to reap the rewards of citizenship is also to shoulder the responsibility.

A good citizen respects and follows the laws of the land, and honors the leaders who oversee them.

A good citizen is not a silent pawn of the system, but is an active participant in the process of safeguarding, refining and growing the health and strength of the country to which they belong.

…And Paul reminds us that as followers of Christ, we are citizens of the Kingdom of God and its physical expression, the Church.

How’s your citizenship?

A Pastor’s Prayer

Thank you, Jesus, for this church you’ve given me to serve.

It’s not my words that matter, but Yours.
Give me Your words, Lord, that I may share them with the people.

It’s not my songs that matter, but Yours.
Give me Your songs, Lord, that I may teach them to the people.

It’s not my ideas that matter, but Yours.
Give me Your ideas, Lord, that I may steward them for the people.

It’s not my voice that matters, but Yours.
O God, give me Your voice so that when I speak or sing for the people, they are not drawn to me, but to You, because they are not my people.

They are yours.

Amen.

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