Monday Colossians: Filled in Christ (v. 2:10)

[10] and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. (Colossians 2:10 ESV)

We’re making our way through the book of Colossians and we’ve reached a group of verses that give us some incredible reminders about Jesus Christ and our life in Him.  So, we’re slowing down and looking at these verses one at a time.

Here are our two reminders for today:

  • “…you have been filled in him…” – As we were reminded in v. 2:9, in Jesus, “the whole fullness of deity dwells.”  This means Jesus is 100% God.  And guess what?  If you are a Christian, “you have been filled in him.”  To put this a different way, once you are “in him,” you are “filled.”  Think for a moment about what it means to be filled.  As the Google tells me, this means to be “completely full.”  So, our status as a follower of Jesus Christ is to be “completely full” because we are filled by Him and in Him and through Him.
  • “…who is the head of all rule and authority” – Often times the message of Jesus is considered to be “radical.”  I guess compared to the message of the world, the message of Jesus is radical, but Jesus isn’t a radical.  He isn’t out there on the fringe element planning a coup.  He isn’t hoping for a ground swell of public support that will carry Him to power.  No, Jesus Christ is the “head of all rule and authority.”  He is all-powerful and by His power and might He has already won the victory.  As Jesus Himself tells us in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”

When we are in Jesus and filled by Him, we are filled with the One True God.  We are filled by the One “who is the head of all rule and authority.”  We need to remember this as we encounter life in this world.  No matter how bad or how tough or how insurmountable things may seem, God is still on His throne.  He is in control — not the circumstances.

We need to remember this when we are tempted to follow the false gods of this world. There is no hope or promise in these created things.  We serve the Creator and all things are possible with Him

We need to remember this when we have an opportunity to share the message with a lost and dying world.  Our message is from the One “who is the head of all rule and authority.”  His message isn’t up for a vote; it is the truth.

 

Sunday Worship: Psalm 27:13-14

[13] I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living! [14] Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27:13-14 ESV)

“Christian, what do you believe?”

You may have heard this cry in church as the worship leader prepares to lead the congregation through some type of responsive reading such as the Apostle’s Creed.

However, we could also ask ourselves that question as we read this passage.

“Christian, what do you believe?”

Do you believe that you shall look upon the goodness of the LORD?  Do you believe you shall see this goodness in the land of the living?

Do you believe in waiting for the LORD?  Are you resolved to being strong in the LORD and to take courage in the LORD?

Well, these verses are true whether or not we choose to believe them and live them or not.  Yes, we may believe in the virgin birth, Christ’s sinless life and His death and resurrection for us – and we must! – but there are more promises as well.

As David writes,

[13] I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living! [14] Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!  (Psalm 27:13-14 ESV)

Let us also hear these words and believe these words and live these words today!

Amen and amen.

 

 

Saturday Music: Take it Easy

We have a two-fer this week:  Two different versions of the Eagles singing the same song, Take It Easy.

I wouldn’t say this is one of my all-time favorite songs — though it is growing on me — but I would say it’s one of the most iconic songs in my mind’s jukebox.  I dare you to find a more catchy set of lyrics than these:

Well, I’m running down the road
tryin’ to loosen my load
I’ve got seven women on
my mind,
Four that wanna own me,
Two that wanna stone me,
One says she’s a friend of mine
Take It easy, take it easy
Don’t let the sound of your own wheels
drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can
don’t even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand
and take it easy
Well, I’m a standing on a corner
in Winslow, Arizona
and such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed
Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me
Come on, baby, don’t say maybe

I suppose I’ve been hearing this song basically since I could identity songs.  It was released almost 44 years ago (May 1, 1972) and has been riding around in my mind ever since.  I don’t know if this is made up or real, but when I hear this song, I picture myself riding along a country with my dad in his old Chevy truck, radio blaring and both of us with our windows down.

Now, it’s becoming even more dear to me because I’m learning to play this song as I learn to play the guitar.  It’s chords are easy and it’s rhythm is smooth.  And as I scratch along strumming these chords, I feel as if Americana is seeping even more into my soul.

The first is a 1973 version featuring guitarist Bernie Leadon and some funky country intro that seems better suited for the show Hee Haw.  The “original” version of this song included some rowdy banjo licks from Leadon, but they aren’t included in the version of the song below.

The next version comes from the five-man version of the Eagles featuring guitarists Don Felder and Joe Walsh.  This version of the band, which by 1977 had transformed into a stadium-filling rock band, deletes the banjo licks entirely and ups the guitar anty with Mr. Walsh.

 

 

Friday Picture: Marathon Memories

It’s been a year now since my last marathon, the Country Music Marathon in Nashville.  And the fellow pictured here was right there with me in Corral #1.

As the one year anniversary has rolled around, the race has been on my mind a lot.  One huge reason is that I’m no where near being in shape to run a long-distance.  That’s partly by design — after last year’s race I had no desire to ever run another — and party due to circumstances.  My life seems a lot busier this year and I had some minor toe surgery in March that I will use as an excuse for at least another year.

The race last year was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.  As I mentioned above, I started the race in Corral #1.  Yep, that’s right.  Corral #1.  For me, athletically-speaking, that’s the equivalent of starting on the front row of the Daytona 500 or playing in the Super Bowl.  For a race with a field of about 30,000 runners.  Being in the first corral was a huge deal.  (I didn’t say I deserved to be in Corral #1, but since I was there, I enjoyed its benefits.)

Shortly into the race, I experienced an excruciating injury and then managed to gut out the last 25 miles or so.  The injury was almost as damaging psychologically as it was physically and to gut it out and finish the race was a big deal to me personally.

After the race, I actually wrote in detail about it and saved the story somewhere, but I didn’t post it here on the blog.  Maybe I’ll  do that this year.

Sweet Wife just came into the room and asked me if I was sad or happy thinking about not racing any more.  I’m definitely not happy about it.  It’s sad to think that something like that — you’re best shot — is in your review mirror.  That’s sad.  Definitely sad.

 

Thursday Hebrews: Connecting the First 7 Chapters

We have been making our way, week after week, a couple of verses at a time, through the book of Hebrews.  And one of the wonderful things about this book is that we can pluck a verse or two out and those verses can be the basis for a very meaningful devotion or Bible study.

But as we’re going through this book it’s also very easy to lose how the verses and chapters tie together – and to lose the overall message they are telling – if we don’t keep an overview of the book in mind.  So, with that being said, let’s try to tie together the first seven chapters of this book.

Chapter 1

Chapter 1 tells us that God has begun to speak to us via His Son and, immediately, a comparison of the Messenger, Jesus Christ, versus angels, who are also messengers, begins.  As the author makes clear, there really is no comparison.  Jesus Christ is much more superior than angels.

Chapter 2

The angels God sent as messengers were faithful in delivering their messages.  But because God sent His own Son as our Messenger, we should take care to listen to Him because He is a far superior Messenger!

And even though all of creation is subject to Jesus’ control, this Jesus also came to earth in order to effect our salvation.

Chapter 3

Accordingly, we should “consider Jesus” who is “the apostle and high priest of our confession” (v. 3:1).    Jesus, as our “apostle and high priest” was even more faithful in His duties than even Moses.

Again, we should listen to this message of salvation Jesus is giving us.  We should not be like those Hebrews of old who hardened their hearts in the wilderness and because of their lack of faith were not allowed to enter God’s rest.

Chapter 4

While there is a promise of rest — a promise of an eternal relationship with God — we should listen and take the opportunity!

Since we have this Jesus, our great high priest, we should hold fast to our confession of faith.  Jesus came to earth, lived the sinless live we could not live, died for us and rose again to seal our eternal promise.  Let us with confidence draw near to Him.  He is there for us when we need Him.

Chapter 5

Though a high priest, Jesus wasn’t like priests from the order of Aaron.  He was appointed a high priest by God in the order of Melchizedek.

But before more about this topic can be discussed, we need to hear a warning.  Many of us should already be ready to heard this detailed and in depth teaching, but we haven’t progressed in our maturity in Christ.

Chapter 6

For many of us, it is time to leave these basic teaching of Christian doctrine.  We have heard these things over and over and it’s time to progress.  We need to stir and put off our sluggishness and follow the example of those who by faith and patience “inherited the promises” (v. 6:12) of God.

Our God is faithful, so we know we can trust Him to keep His promises.  Once example of His faithfulness is seen in the oath He made to make Jesus our “high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (v. 6:20).

Chapter 7

This chapter is spent explaining the differences between being a priest “after the order of Melchizedek” and being a priest “after the order of Aaron” (v. 7:11).  Levitical priests, those from the order of Aaron, have certain requirements that define if they can become priest and when their priesthood ends.  They are also fallible.  They must make sacrifices and offerings for themselves, as well as for the people they represent.

But Jesus, being from the order of Melchizedek, is a different type of priest.  He wasn’t made a priest via some set of requirements, but was made priest because God gave His word.  He is not limited to serving for a set period of time, because He is a priest who serves “by the power of an indestructible life” (v. 7:17)!

All of this “makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant” (v. 7:22).  He was perfect, so He didn’t have to offer a sacrifice first for Himself.  No, He “once for all” (v. 7:27) offered Himself up for us.

Because God gave His word and appointed His Son Jesus as our high priest, we have a priest who is “perfect forever” (v. 7:28) for us.  Because of this, we can have eternal life with God.

Tuscaloosa Tornadoes: 5 Years Later

Five years ago today, a deadly tornado ripped through the heart of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  In the amazing video below, you can see the monster ripping across McFarland Boulevard and by McFarland Mall.

The tornadoes struck at just after 5 p.m. and my family was sitting around the kitchen table watching the events unfold live on television.  To me, watching this coverage was similar to watching live coverage of Desert Storm back in 1991.  As we sat watching the television screen, we were watching as real people were being killed and as real property was being destroyed.  It was a sickening feeling that I haven’t (thank goodness) felt too many times in my life.

Another thing hit close to home as well.  Our family has some business interests in Tuscaloosa and as we sat before the screen listening to the weather man describe the destruction, we were left to wonder if anything of our business was left.  Let me tell you, that is a sickening, horrible feeling.

The tornado left 64 people dead in Alabama and caused over $2 billion of damage.  The storm system continued its northeasterly type trek through Alabama and caused damage in other areas of the state as well (though not with the same tornado).

Like tragedies so often do, the next days and weeks and months brought an out-pouring of support for the Tuscaloosa area.  Donations of money and supplies poured into the area from what seemed like everywhere and people from all over the state mobilized to help.

A couple of days later, I drove to Tuscaloosa to check on our business interest and, amazingly, the business was spared.  The tornado damage stopped about a block or two away from our store and we experienced no damage.  Power was out for a short time – perhaps a few days if I recall correctly, and then we were back in business.

I was driven through the stricken area and the damage was really to horrific to put into words.  Everything in the tornado’s path was leveled and I remember seeing trees that had their bark totally sucked off of them.  The destructive force of the storm was mind boggling.

But the spirit of the people of Tuscaloosa was also amazing.  The city was damaged, but the people were never broken.  They pulled together, rallied might be a better word, and moved forward in a big way.

Today, if you drove through Tuscaloosa for the first time, you’d simply see a city on the move.  The scars are there, but you would need someone to point them out for you.  I think that right there says a lot.

 

Technology Tuesday: Slack

While cruising through the Wall Street Journal on my iPad recently, I saw this article about Slack.  Slack, in case you’ve missed it, is the next big thing.  Or at least one of the next big things.

So, being someone who is supposed to stay on top of the next big things for my job, in case the next big thing really is a big thing, I went to Slack and created an account and promptly installed the related app on my iPhone and iPad.

What is this thing called Slack?  Well, it bills itself as “team communication for the 21st century.”  In reality, this means that all of your teams communications can be handled internally through this service.  Emails, texts, instant messages – however you are communicating, it can be handled through slack.  As we all know, though, there are ancillary things that happen when we communicate.  We need to send data back and forth, we need due dates, and on and on and on.  Slack also has the ability to handle these things as well and has the ability to integrate with certain other apps and services that you may use such as Asana and Google Drive.

But after about a month of using Slack, I came away very underwhelmed.  In a nutshell, here are a couple of things I didn’t like:

  1. The produce seemed way too complicated for the average person using a computer at work.  If I had to ask some of my co-workers to start using commands like “/” to bring up functions they could use, they would for sure kill me.
  2. It seemed fairly all-or-nothing related to sharing things with others.  For example, I don’t want to share a whole calendar with a group of people, but that was the only option because certain functions weren’t available to “private” channels (channels not shared with other folks).
  3. I need lists and more lists of things I’m supposed to be doing or thinking about doing.  That’s just not what Slack is designed to do.  However, if I’m going to invest so much of how I communicate into one resource, it needs to be able to do more.

All-in-all I give the product a thumbs down.  I just don’t get it.  Perhaps if my organization was bigger I would get it, but it isn’t and I don’t.

Monday Colossians: Fully God, Fully Man (v. 2:9)

[9] For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, (Colossians 2:9 ESV)

If you’ve been around Christianity for very long, hopefully you’ve heard the saying, “Jesus is fully God and fully man.”  This is another way of saying that Jesus is, at the same time, 100% God and 100% man.

This verse, Colossians 2:9, very succinctly states this Biblical doctrine.  In Jesus Christ, “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”  The phrase “whole fullness of deity” refers to Jesus being fully God and the phrase “dwells bodily” refers to the full humanity of Jesus.

If you are a Christian, or want to become one, this is a doctrinal truth that must be believed and embraced – even if our minds are blown by the idea.

Why is this concept of “fully God and fully man” such an important part of Biblical doctrine?  I’ll try to summarize this in two short ways:

  1. First, if Jesus isn’t fully God, then He has a sin nature.  This means that from the womb, our nature is to sin and eventually we will sin.  We are born “corrupt” in this sense.  Jesus, however, because He is fully God, did not arrive with this sin nature.  This makes Him eligible to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins.
  2. Second, if Jesus isn’t fully man, then His sacrifice for us would not be fully effective.  Jesus is paying for our sins.  He is taking our place and paying a price we could not pay.  As we read in Hebrews 5:8-9, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.”  “Being made perfect” refers to the process of life Jesus went through here on earth.  Though He was fully God and perfect in His standing, He wasn’t our perfect sacrifice until He had gone through life perfect.  As Hebrews 9:26 says in part, “But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”  He could not have done this for us unless He was fully man.

If Jesus isn’t fully man, He isn’t able to offer an acceptable sacrifice on our behalf.

If Jesus isn’t fully God, He would have arrived sin-tainted and would not have been able to offer an acceptable sacrifice on our behalf.

But…He is fully God and He is fully man…and because of this He did arrive untainted by sin, and He did live a perfect life so that He became an acceptable sacrifice, and He did go to the cross for us and die for us, and He did take His life up again and therefore is victorious over sin and death and now we are eligible for eternal life.  He did do these things, and because of this we can have life in Him.

Amen and amen.

Sunday Worship: Psalm 88:1-2

[1] O LORD, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you. [2] Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!  (Psalm 88:1-2 ESV)

Psalm 88 is a tough one to read and understand without a view of other Scripture.  In this Psalm, the writer laments and laments and laments.  And as the ESV Study Guide notes, usually, in the Psalms, laments are followed by a reminder of Truth, by a reminder of God’s care and goodness.  Psalm 88 is different because there is no explicit “good news” revealed.

So why is this Psalm used as our reminder for worship today?  Several reasons:

  1. We can cry to God anytime, like the psalmist.  The psalmist was going through a horrible time, but he didn’t run away from God, he ran to Him to deliver his lament.
  2. The psalmist implicitly knows that God is sovereign.  The psalmist may wonder why these things are happening, but he knows who is in control.
  3. When we are in Jesus Christ, we have assurance that this God who is all-powerful and sovereign over creation, hears our prayers and is there to lift our head when it hangs from lament and despair.

For these things and many others, let us praise the Lord today!

Amen and amen.

Saturday Music: Prince

Like so many others, I was saddened to hear of the passing of Prince this past week.  At this point in my life I can’t really say that I’m a fan — check that — I can definitely say I’m not a fan, but my life did intersect at one point with his craft, and it did have an effect on me.

I entered my teenage years around the time Prince’s album 1999 was released in 1982.  This album included the songs “Little Red Corvette” and “Delirious.”  And though I had no idea who this Prince character was and though I have no recollection of exactly when I first started hearing his music, I do know that these songs quickly became of my life in the deep south.  The funky beat and sexually-tinged lyrics were too much for my raging hormones to resist.

In 1984, he released the album Purple Rain which also served as the soundtrack for a movie of the same name.  In a word, my lily-white private high school went NUTS over this album.  Songs from the album such as “When Doves Cry,” “I Would Die 4 U,” and, of course, “Purple Rain,” became part of the soundtrack of my life.  I of course bought the cassette and went to see the borderline pornographic movie at least a couple of times.

But though his music — at least his music from the 1980s — conjures up so many memories, he was never really an artist with whom I formed a connection.  (And I’m sure he would say that he never formed a connection with me.)  Basically, I always thought he was, um, weird.  The music was funky, the lyrics were edgy and catchy, but this wasn’t a dude I wanted to be around or to say that I was influenced by.  To me, he was just another over-the-top entertainer; someone who was trying a little too hard to show the world how sexy he was.

I tried to continue enjoying his music.  Shoot, my senior year was starting in 1985 and the life soundtrack needed more tunes!  But even through Around the World in a Day produced another sexually tinged hit “Raspberry Beret,” to me, it was a dud.  He was losing me.

In 1987, I tried to hand on for a while longer and acquired the double-CD, Sign ‘O’ The Times, and it had a few catchy tunes as well, but I felt it was so weird that I never even loaded it into iTunes.  Today it sits in a box in a storage building.

The video above is about the 2007 Super Bowl half time show where he performed in a driving rain storm.  Supposedly, it’s one of the best half time shows in Super Bowl history.  Until he died this week, I never even knew he did a half time show.