Keys To Discernment: Why Paul Prays For Their Wisdom (Reboot)

As I’ve mentioned before, I had started posting these Bible Studies back in January. At the end of February, a compression fracture in my back forced me to discontinue it. About a month ago, I felt well enough to resume it, and I decided to run the original installments again just to reestablish some continuity. However, I’m augmenting these reruns with a few additional comments to provide clarification or because I missed something earlier.

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Although we’re getting into the meat of Paul’s letter to the Colossians today, our text will demand that we look at some background information on the false teachings that he addresses. I aim to demonstrate how he uses sound doctrine, rather than direct discussion of the errors at hand, to steer the Colossians away from faulty theology and practices.

We’ll most likely only get through two verses in this installment of our study, but (as usual) I’ll quote the whole passage for the sake of context.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. ~~Colossians 1:9-14 (ESV)

If you take verses 9 and 10 at face value, you could get a fairly accurate interpretation of them. Definitely, Christians should pray for each other along these lines, getting beyond the superficial prayers for health, finances, marriages and other temporal matters.  Therefore these two verses encourage us to pray for each other far more deeply than we generally do.

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Is It Okay For Me To Say “I Told You So”?

This past weekend, a pastor friend of mine posted the following on his Facebook page:

They said it would not affect me, my family or friends.They said it was none of my business. They said it would not negatively impact our society. But…Now it’s legalized. Now it’s flaunted in commercials, on the television, and in the movies. Now those screaming tolerance are intolerant of any who oppose. Now it’s affecting our health care costs, schools and everything in between. Now it’s demoralizing and seeking to redefine the family. Now it’s attacking men and demonizing men for being men. But…Now, as always, is the time to stand for Truth. Now is the time to live out righteousness, holiness and justice. Now is the time to promote all that is wholesome, good and moral. Now is the time!

Of course he wrote these words in reference to same sex marriage, which has opened a Pandora’s Box of anarchy throughout Western civilization. As you can see, however, the rebellion goes far beyond LBGTQ issues. The ideological left is successfully dismantling every aspect of Judeo-Christian values in America and in other countries.

Most evangelicals thought Trump’s presidency would slow the deterioration. Admittedly, part of me thought so too. But the last few months have pretty much destroyed that fantasy. In fact, the unbridled hatred of President Trump has probably poured gas on the fire. Defying conservative values has become a mandate for academia and Mainstream Media.

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Thoughts About Thinking: Thinking With Renewed Minds

Open Bible

During an argument over politics several years ago, someone dismissed my convictions with the remark, “Well, your faith informs your thinking.” The implication was that I let my pastor dictate how I vote. Never mind that no pastor I’ve ever had would do such a thing. Apparently my Christian convictions rendered me incapable of thinking for myself.

In reality, the person arguing with me was heavily influenced by academia and liberal media. Her world told her what thoughts were acceptable and what thoughts should be rejected. I could have easily countered that her social circles informed her thinking.

Does anyone really think for herself? Maybe to a point, but outside influences always shape our thinking. We just need to decide whether we want those influences to come from a worldview that rebels against God’s values and purposes or whether we want those influences to come from the Word of God.

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Thoughts About Thinking: Maybe Highly Educated Non-Christians Aren’t All That Smart

Digital drawing of girl in graduation cap and gown

When I lived in Memphis, two friends often volunteered to drive me to church in the wheelchair accessible van that I had. One friend had a Master’s Degree (in what, I don’t know) while the other had only completed a GED.

The three of us always found it amusing that the one with the GED consistently had to show the one with the Master’s Degree how to use the tie-downs to secure my wheelchair. Consistently, I said. Every. Single. Time. We’d say, “So much for higher education!”

Thankfully the one with the Master’s Degree had a good sense of humor.

As cute as this story is, it illustrates a point the apostle Paul made about the disparity between human wisdom and the wisdom of God.

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A Few Thoughts About Thinking: When Our Thoughts Exalt Us

Several years ago, I had another blog. It was a great deal less focused than this one — mostly because it started as a way to showcase my writing and digital art.

Gradually, I found myself blogging more and more about the Lord. In one post, I quoted a friend of ours who said Christians need to be less concerned about what we think and more concerned about what God’s Word says. Of course he meant that we too often impose our ideas on a passage of Scripture rather than expecting Scripture to shape our ideas. But I quoted him as saying something like we think too much.

One of my readers latched on to that quote and wrenched it out of context. She understood it as putting forth the idea that Christians shouldn’t think, but instead should blindly follow religious teachers.

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Throwback Thursday: Psychology And The Source Of Knowledge About The Human Soul

Originally published April 27, 2017:

Lady Reading BiblePsychology makes my blood boil, especially when people try to integrate it with Christianity! Although commonly considered a science, the discipline actually is comprised of theories that haven’t been proven (and really don’t lend themselves to scientific verification). The vast majority of the theories incorporate acceptance of evolution, humanism and occult ideas.

Over the past 40 years, evangelicals have embraced psychology as an augmentation to pastoral ministry, assuming that the Bible falls short of addressing the mental and emotional needs of humans. That assumption should make the hair on the back of your neck bristle! Essentially, “Christian” psychology boldly declares God’s Word to be impotent, while at the same time more than implying that psychologists and licensed counselors possess a special knowledge inaccessible to those of us who “merely” read the Bible.

The attitude that psychologists have a deeper understanding of human nature than the Holy Spirit (Who, after all, authored the Bible) smacks of Continue reading

I Wouldn’t Have Said It That Way — But I Should Have

John Drawing

I know it’s a drawing of John, but it fits the post

During her pregnancy, his mother had taken Thalidomide. His deformities were severe, though he married young and fathered two or three children. His church sometimes had joint functions with mine, so occasionally our paths crossed and we’d exchange pleasantries.

One evening he propelled his power wheelchair over to me, and opened his mouth to speak. At that moment, some children interrupted and asked him, “Why are you like that?”

He smiled and explained, “That’s how God made me!”

Thankfully, I said nothing aloud, but Continue reading

Keys To Discernment: Why Paul Prays For Their Wisdom

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Although we’re getting into the meat of Paul’s letter to the Colossians today, our text will demand that we look at some background information on the false teachings that he addresses. I aim to demonstrate how he uses sound doctrine, rather than direct discussion of the errors at hand, to steer the Colossians away from faulty theology and practices.

We’ll most likely only get through two verses in this installment of our study, but (as usual) I’ll quote the whole passage for the sake of context.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. ~~Colossians 1:9-14 (ESV)

If you take verses 9 and 10 at face value, you could get a fairly accurate interpretation of them. Definitely, Christians should pray for each other along these lines, getting beyond the superficial prayers for health, finances, marriages and other temporal matters.  But how much better would it be if we prayed for each other’s spiritual development?

At the risk of sounding like a late night info-mercial, I’m going to say, “But wait — there’s more!” Paul’s not only modeling an important way we should pray for each other. He’s also attacking the pre-gnostic mysticism that threatened the First Century churches in that region.

That mysticism had too many facets to explain in this article; I’ll talk about specific aspects as they come up in the course of our study. Today, therefore, we’ll look at verses 9 and 10 in light of Paul’s introductory reference to the pre-gnostic ideologies that floated around Colossae.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; (ESV)

You can’t help but notice the emphasis on knowledge, wisdom and understanding, can you? Paul beats that drum quite forcefully. As we’ve seen earlier, this apostle has a habit of choosing his words with great deliberation, and these two verses are calculated to counter the claims of secret knowledge that the pre-gnostics purported to possess.

Those false teachers insisted that they offered insights into spiritual mysteries that required initiation into their group (sort of like our present-day Freemasons). Paul counterbalances this error by emphasizing that the Lord is the true source of knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Furthermore, rather than seeking the knowledge that would enhance their pride, Paul prays that they would be filled  with the knowledge of God’s will. He prays that they would be filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding.

The knowledge of God’s will, as well as spiritual wisdom and understanding, comes through the teaching of the apostles — which the Holy Spirit preserved for succeeding generations in the Bible. Thus Paul prays for the Colossians to be filled with sound teaching, not with the mysticism of the pre-gnostics.

Verse 10 elaborates on the knowledge that Paul prays for the Colossians to possess by mentioning its purpose. Whereas the knowledge of the pre-gnostics served only to inflate egos, the knowledge of God’s will enables Christians to walk “in a manner worthy of the Lord.” This phrase targets the pre-gnostic separation of the material and the spiritual that allowed people to claim spirituality while indulging fleshy appetites. Paul prays that his readers will be given a knowledge and wisdom that has implications on their behavior.

The spiritual wisdom Paul desires for his readers will cause them to please the Lord instead of pleasing themselves. Clearly, the apostle makes a distinction between the imitation knowledge of the false teachers in Colossae and the true wisdom that comes exclusively through the knowledge of God.

Interestingly, as Christians please the Lord and bear fruit for Him, we actually increase in our knowledge of Him. The pre-gnostics would never have thought that obedience could lead to even more knowledge. Paul cleverly strikes at their false teaching by simply informing the Colossians as to the nature of his prayers for them.

As I suspected, I can’t go past verse 10 today. Next Monday, Lord willing, we’ll continue with this passage, which is packed with some of the most glorious teaching I’ve ever read! Be sure to join me then.

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Flashback Friday: Forgetful Evangelicals And The Entitlement Mentality

Originally posted April 4, 2018

Glory Of The CrossI believe evangelicals of the 21st Century have by and large lost the sense that God has saved us for His honor and glory. As we’ve incorporated Charismatic teaching and psychological principles into our weakened version of Christianity, we’ve accepted the mistaken idea that God exists to heal our bodies, expand our bank accounts, make our marriages satisfying and remove all temptation from us. We conveniently forget why He calls us to Him in the first place.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. ~~1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)

Anyone can distort the Bible into false promises of health, prosperity and your best life now, insisting that God wants us to be happy. But, even though the Lord is a good Father Who gives good gifts to His children, He doesn’t give those gifts to Continue reading

I Thought I Knew, But I Still Have No Idea

When Christ convicted my 17-year-old heart of sin and then sent somebody to tell me that He paid for my sin, I knew that I owed him my very life. Like most teenagers, I was absolutely convinced that I understood both the magnitude of His atoning work on the cross and the depths of my sin.

I knew neither.

In my prayer time lately I’ve been pondering the fact that I really don’t understand how truly wretched I am. The Lord occasionally gives me glimpses of how horrendous my sin actually is, but much of a time I struggle to see how profoundly sinful I am. I know it intellectually, but my emotions resist that knowledge. And thus I confess that I have no idea how great a debt I owe the Lord.

Praise the Lord for erasing that debt, even as He shields me from the devastating realization of it. In heaven, once He frees me from the effects of sin that continue to cling to me, He will show me the extent of His mercy. Then I’ll understand how much I owe.

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