February – NT in 2017

We did it.  If you’ve been reading along, join me in celebrating reading through two full books of the New Testament and a good way into a third.  It’s amazing.  Many verses have been familiar, but have also hit me fresh – smacking me upside the head when necessary or stirring things around in my heart in new, fresh ways.  That’s what’s so wonderful about the Word.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been days that have been more along the lines of “hmmmm  nothing.  Well, at least I read the chapter.”  It’s not all overflowing emotions all the time.  At least not for me.  There are desert moments along with the dessert ones.  And just because everyday isn’t a sundae with whipped cream and a cherry on top does not mean that something’s wrong.  It just means that some areas God really wants me to see, feel & let settle in the depth of my soul today & some He’s waiting until another day to reveal to me.

A new month.  Are you ready?  If you haven’t gotten your “Make It A Great Week” sheets for February yet over at Etsy, here they are for your printing enjoyment.  Again these may not be perfect.  All are designed to print on letter size paper in the color you see.  All can also be trimmed to a nice 7×9.25 size to fit neatly in your Happy Planner after you’ve punched them with your handy Happy Planner puncher.  {best purchase!}  And if you’d rather not use all your printer ink, feel free to head over to the Etsy store & let me do the printing, trimming and punching for you.

February looks to be a great month of reading.  We’ll finish up 1 Corinthians & read through 2 Corinthians then jump into Mark.  So many opportunities to learn & grow in the days ahead.  You with me?

submission:: like a four letter word

If you’re reading along with the New Testament in 2017 reading plan, you know today we find ourselves in 1 Corinthians 11.  Paul is continuing to address questions that the Corinthian people have asked him.  Today we find instructions for worship & order at the Lord’s supper.  Seems simple enough…

Not quite.  Beginning in verse 5 we see Paul’s instructions regarding women covering their heads during worship services.  Specifically if she is praying or prophesying.  Hmmmm.  Head coverings?  I would love to just fly over this part of Scripture, call it irrelevant & move on.  But something holds me here.  Makes me pause to consider “should I be wearing a head covering at church?”

On the surface the answer appears to “yes”.  Paul is pretty darn adamant.  “But a woman dishonors her head if she prays or prophesies without a covering on her head, for this is the same as shaving her head.”  Yikes!  But let’s dig a bit deeper into the meaning behind Paul’s instruction.  Paul’s message in these few verses is pretty clear from the get-go…Authority.  The head of man is Christ.  The head of woman is man and the head of Christ is God. {vs.3}  I realize that this is not a popular world view.  I am not writing this, just copying the Word.  And Paul clearly states that there is an authoritative chain-of-command.

With authority there comes submission.  Everyone cannot be in authority.  Someone has to lead.  Someone has to be submissive or follow.  According to this part of scripture and others like it, God establishes this lead/follow structure pretty clearly.  God leads Christ.  Christ leads man.  Man leads woman.  {I know.  Not a popular world view currently.  But Biblical nonetheless}  And in the culture that this was written, one way that signified submission was head-covering. It was not an uncommon practice nor was it thought to be out-of-place.

Today, however, head covering is not very common {at least in Western Judeo-Christian  cultures} and certainly does not necessary signify submission to my man.  If I were to suddenly begin wearing a head covering to church on Sunday, I would cause quite a stir.  No one would associate my wearing a head covering with submission. At all.  And in fact, I might actually feel incredibly uncomfortable, perhaps even embarrassed.  Paul’s instructions regarding head covering were intended to show submission not bring about embarrassment.  In order to fulfill the spirit of the instruction {showing submission} it seems more likely that a culturally relevant way to show submission would be a better fit.

What does that look like? I’m not sure, to be honest. For this, I don’t have an answer.  This is one of those sections of Scripture that may require some searching & praying to discover.  I’m not willing to just toss it out as irrelevant & move on though, because I believe that if it’s in the Word, it is important somehow to me today.

If you’re interested in reading up on this particular passage regarding head covering, perhaps digging a bit deeper & forming your own opinion on what it means, I found a great resource that does a great job of explaining the verses & going through several possible options.  Please check it out here.

The idea of submission to a man isn’t a super popular one.  Especially right now in our current culture.  I get that.  This was not a Scripture I wanted to try to lay out here & comment on.  Believe me.  But I couldn’t just let it go & move on.  Submission isn’t an easy word…or verb to live out.  Whenever I begin to feel like I want to be in charge, I want to lead and direct this ship though, I need only look at Christ.  In the hours before they nailed him to a wooden cross & lifted him into the air to die he submitted to the will of the Father.  Submitted.  It wasn’t easy for him {“take this cup”}, and he understands that it’s not easy for us either.  But He is good.  His instructions are good.


But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.

In any case, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman. But all things come from God.

1 Corintians :: NT in 2017

This week we begin 1 Corinthians.  You can find it here.

1 Corinthians

 

A quick flyover of the Book of 1 Corinthians:

  • It is widely accepted that Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians.
  • This letter is partially an answer to questions written to Paul.
  • Paul’s first 6 chapters rebuke the church for their sinful behavior, both the divisions and the disorders in the church.  The last 10 chapters answer the specific questions the church asked Paul and cover many different topics.
  • Main theme :: Christian community and behavior.

Two weeks & two books completed!  Hooray!  I hope there’s things stirring around in your heart like there are in mine.  The Word is truly active and moving and personal and applicable.

    Be Strong

    Finishing up another book in our goal to read the New Testament in 2017.  Ephesians 6 takes us to the end & concludes the book with instructions on how to be strong in the Lord.  Armor.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. {vs 11}  We do not fight what we see, but the battle rages on in a behind-the-scenes manner.  And our armor as described in verses 13-20 is our only chance to stand firm.  Be strong in Him for he is Mighty.

    Next week…drumroll please…1 Corinthians.

    unity muscles

     “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.  I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one.  I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”  Jesus says {John 17:21-23}  [emphasis mine]

    Unity.  So important that Jesus spent time praying about the unity of those that would follow him.  Even followers to come thousands of years later.  And Paul picks up this important theme & reveals in Ephesians 4 the keys to unity.

    First he hits on how we should treat each other.  Humble.  Gentle.  Patient.  Making allowances for each other’s faults.  The enemies of unity are pride, harshness, bitterness, impatience.  Paul reminds us that we must treat each other well in order to unify as one body.

    Then he hits on how we should behave.  Don’t steal.  Don’t lie.  Don’t use foul or abusive language.  These things are also enemies of unity.  They are divisive.  But using our hands for good, telling the truth, building up & encouraging each other with our words…these things bring about unity.

    Paul sums it all up in the end:  Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

     Easier said than done.  Clearly.  Or he wouldn’t need to say it.  And Jesus probably wouldn’t have prayed it.  This is not a moment for shame & regret.  This a moment for change.  And while sometimes I’d like to read these scriptures hoping someone else might absorb them {you know you do it too}, truly the only thing I can change is me.  So.  I pray that my unity muscles {humility, patience, gentleness, support, encouragement} grow and replace the divisive qualities that sometimes are stronger.  And I pray the same for you.

    Ephesians :: What’s it all about?

    My timing may be a bit off, as we’re already on chapter 3 of 6 in Ephesians today.  But I really wanted to share this resource.

    The Bible Project.

    Along with several various Bible study tools, they have a fabulous set of videos.  This collection of easy-to-understand flyovers about the books of the Bible is excellent.  Quick & to-the-point, they’re a great place to start when beginning a new book study.

    Here is the link to Ephesians. It will take you to The Bible Project’s YouTube.  Enjoy the video & then make sure & head to their website for more resources, videos & information.  Good stuff.


    …through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus.

    Ephesians 3:6 [NET]

    I am

    Let’s take a quick trip back in time to middle school today.  Rather, not?  That’s my thoughts on it too.  Middle school.  Awkward.  Changes.  Stuck in the middle between little kid and teenager.  Those years are not the friendliest {but provide some great images to laugh at in scrapbooks as the years go by}  There’s a whole lot of trying to figure out who you are in the those years.  Or perhaps better said, trying to figure out where you fit and what you’re worth.

    For me, the year is 1988.  I was 13.  Hair was all the rage.  Big, big hair.  I have a huge advantage in this department as I come complete with naturally wavy hair with a texture that can get enormous given the proper product, teasing and spraying.  Lucky me.  I could {and did} spend hours {no really, hours} washing, drying, curling, teasing, curling some more, lightly brushing, more teasing, more curling…sometimes re-washing & beginning again to get it right.  It could drive me absolutely crazy.  {and likely the two males in my household too!}  But in my mind it had to be just so.  Because it wasn’t just hair.  It was “me”.  My identity & worth were all wrapped up in those mall bangs and big hair.  If it wasn’t right, neither was I.

    Now, luckily I grew out of that phase & big hair is not quite the thing is was in 1988.  But sadly, I still carry around some of those middle school behaviors.  It might not be hair, but I do put my identity and worth in all kinds of things that are just as silly.  And it all comes back to the questions “Where do I fit?” & “What is my worth?”.  Us humans are a funny bunch that way.  We long for acceptance & a “pack”.  We long to belong.  And we manufacture all kinds of things to determine how well we’re belonging.

    I look sometimes to who I know, what I have, what I wear.  Sometimes it’s in accolades, like Instagram followers or Facebook likes.  Sometimes it’s in what I drive or where I vacation.  Sometimes it’s still even hair {only this is highly unlikely and only immediately following a salon visit}  Whatever it is I look for my worth in all kinds of places and in all sorts of things.  Mostly all things that will eventually fail me.  And when I’ve determine who I am and what I’m worth on such shaky things, well…I’m bound to think I’m worth-less from time to time.

    Great news!  I am not the sum of my good hair days and Instagram followers!  In fact, because I am In Him, my identity is all laid out and sealed and assured for, well, ever.  In our reading in Ephesians this week, Paul hits on this.  It’s easy to miss.  But here’s how you find your true worth & identity.  As you’re reading, mark every time Paul writes “In Him” or In Christ”.  Then list what Paul says about what we have “In Him”.  You’ll be amazed at what you find.  From there, begin to believe that those things are who you are & what you’re worth.  For.Ever.

    Ephesians :: NT in 2017

    This week our reading will take us through the Book of Ephesians.  You can find it here.

    ephesians

    A quick flyover of the Book of Ephesians:

    • Like Galatians, it was written by Paul.
    • It was written while Paul was imprisoned in Rome.
    • Ephesians has two main focuses.  The first 3 chapters deal with our position in Christ {our relationship with God – vertical}.  The last 3 chapters deal with our practices on Earth {our relationships with others – horizontal}
    • Main theme ::the community of believers God is building & how they should be living out their calling as His.

    And here we go.  Week #2.