Colossians Preview

After a highly attention-grabbing title about when we will let our daughters start dating, I went the other direction and gave this the blandest title possible.  I suppose I could have put “Why Our Study of Colossians Will Rock…Your…World!”  However, that would put a lot of pressure on the post that I’m just not capable of living up to (I don’t like ending in a sentence with a preposition, but I absolutely love ending a sentence with two.)

Some things to conisder as we launch into a study of Colossians this Sunday:

This book was written by a person to a group of people living at a certain time under certain circumstances.  It is those circumstances that led the author to write the letter.  (Wait. What?)  While Colossians is Scripture given to us by God, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that this was a letter written by Paul to a group of Christians in the town of Colossae.  There was something going on with them that made Paul decide he needed to write them.

When we understand what that situation was, then we can ask, “How am I like that?”  Then we can best understand what God is wanting to show us and how he wants us to apply the truths in the letter.

Well what was going on then?  I’ll tell you but you still have to come on Sunday.  They were a new church with all new believers.  A group came to them and began to teach them that in order to maintain a good relationship with God you needed to follow certain rituals and follow certain rules.  They wanted them to follow the Old Testament laws.  “You may be saved by grace, but you maintain good standing with God by following certain religious rituals.”

We should all feel a kinship with that.  Many of us have felt, or still feel, the essential nature of certain religious acts in order to have a good relationship with God. We have probably heard it taught.

What Paul does is help them move from a perspective of “have to” to “get to.”  It is not that we have to act a certain way.  It’s that God demonstrated tremendous love for us through the gospel and we have an incredible opportunity to live for God.

When we truly understand what Jesus did for us on the cross and how amazing he is, we will want to please him, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, our hearts will change and we can become the men and women God has called us to be.

Come join us over the next couple of months as we explore deeply Paul’s letter to the Colossians and learn how we can:

live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience

Col 1:10-11

It’s That Simple, But Not Really. Wait? What?

October 4, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

I am not by nature a highly critical person.  Hmmm. Let me rephrase, I am not by nature a publicly critical person.  I will neither affirm or deny the depths of the sin that goes on in my heart.  Suffice to say, I’m glad that we don’t live in a world with those “thought bubbles” that are in newspaper comics.

However, being a teacher/pastor, I can be highly critical of the way that God’s word is taught.  It is almost impossible for me to listen to sermons anymore.  People ask me all the time if I listed to podcasts of other pastors.  I don’t very often.  I find myself too often analyzing the presentation, looking for ways I can improve or things I should avoid.  (I know. I know. That’s not good.  Noted.)

There are two things that I see, read, hear a lot–the overcomplicating of the Bible and conversely the oversimplification.  We all know what overcomplicating sounds like.  You hear a pastor or read something and you find yourself very impressed with his vocabulary, knowledge of original languages and the depth of his understanding of Thomas Aquinas.  You walk out of there thinking two things. “Hmm. I didn’t understand any of that” and  “What’s for lunch?”  This is a rant for a different day.

Today’s is about oversimplification.  This is spurred by our community group discussion last night and an email I received from someone else not in our group on another topic.

I’ll start with the email.  The basic premise was that the reason that marriages struggle is that husbands need to love their wives like Christ loves the church (Eph. 5).  They don’t because of sin.  They sin because of Satan.  Solution: don’t focus on Satan, stop sinning, start loving your wives, marriages healed. (The email also mentioned wives submitting to husbands, but the mentioning of that would derail this blog post but good.)

That approach to marriages made me think I made our Community Group lesson way too complicated.  In group, we talked about the Great Commandments.  Jesus said that the greatest commandments were loving God with all that you are, and to love others the way you love yourself.  He says that all of scripture fall under these two categories.  I could’ve shortened our discussion this way:  Whatever you’re struggling with, stop it and love God and people more.  We wouldn’t even have had to take prayer requests.  “God help us love you and others more. Amen.”

Is it really that simple? Could all marriages be saved if husbands loved more?  Are all of life’s problems solved by the Great Commandments?  Well, yes and no.  Jesus said this sums up all commands.  However, if this was all God needed to tell us, then why is the Bible so long?

Because easily stated is not the same as easily explained is not the same as easily understood is not the same as easily done.  When in reply to the Great Commandments, Jesus was asked “Who is my neighbor?” he didn’t reply by restating the two commands.  He told the parable of the Good Samaritan.  He actually spent a lot of time teaching and explaining the what and how of those two truths.

The simplest of truths are overwhelming profound and deep, and while they are easily understood on a surface level, they are limitless in their depth and application.  Teach them simply, attempt to understand and apply them deeply.

“But Hate is Such a Strong Word” (video)

December 1, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Teaching