Morning Musing: Ephesians 1:4

“For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Do you remember Magic Eye books? They had a brief surge of popularity when I was growing up. Each picture looked like some kind of a random, repeating pattern of shapes and images when you just glanced at it. But if you looked at it just right, all of a sudden, there was something else there. I remember getting a book when I was little and spending hours trying to master the technique of seeing the hidden image. The standard approach is to hold the image right up to your nose and pull it away slowly while trying to look through it. When you got to just the right distance, your eyes would begin to perceive the depth of the 3D image hiding beneath the pattern. I finally figured out my own technique which is to cross my eyes and then slowly uncross them. What got me thinking about Magic Eye images this morning is what Paul wrote here in his opening comments in his letter to the Ephesian church. Most folks who look at it see one thing, but as I was spending some time with it recently, I saw in it something just a bit deeper. Let me share with you what I saw.

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Morning Musing: 1 John 4:15-16

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God – God remains in him and he in God. And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

When I was in college I took a course in logic. I enjoyed most of it, probably because it was an intro course and didn’t delve in too deeply to the subject. If you go much past the surface, the study of logic can quickly begin to look like something out of an advanced calculus course with Ps and Qs and Rs and a variety of other letters and strange symbols and the like. At a basic level, though, it is good to learn how to both recognize and make good arguments. At the very beginning of the class, though, one of the first things you learn are some of the basic laws of logic. These laws appear more places than you might realize, especially in math. Now, I don’t even begin to suggest I understand any of this well enough to try and tell you much about it. But I at least recognize some of them still when I see them. One of these basic laws is called the transitive property. Why am I bringing all of this up today? Because it’s what John uses in his letter here and the implications are worth some attention.

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Submit for Good

As we continue in our series, Standing Firm, this week, we’re finally getting into the heart of Peter’s message. If you want to know how to stand firm in your faith without compromising your witness, you need to read this message. Peter lays it on the line for us and doesn’t let us look away until he’s taken us all the way to the mat. His challenge does not mean we roll over and play dead for anyone. Instead, he’s calling us to stand firm in our identity in Christ and refuse to be made a slave to anyone including ourselves. The way to do this, though, is not what the culture around us would have us believe. The way of Jesus looks entirely different. It takes a great deal more courage and a great deal more strength. Read on and think about how God might be applying this to your situation today.

Submit for Good

Have you ever had a boss you didn’t like? I don’t mean just a little dislike either. I mean, you could not stand even to be in the same room for any longer than you had to be. He was rude. She was demanding. He was demeaning. She micromanaged everything and everyone. It just wasn’t a good situation. Maybe you’ve never had that misfortune, but if you have, how’d you handle that? Used to be the general cultural attitude toward that situation would be for you to just suck it up and persevere through the frustration. You had to work because you had bills to pay and mouths to feed. You needed to be a productive member of society, and that was more important than your feelings about your boss. If you wanted to switch careers, you could, but that wasn’t necessarily going to be an easy process.

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Morning Musing: Mark 9:41-42

“And whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you belong to Christ – truly I tell you, he will never lose his reward. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to fall away – it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

If you want to get in good with me, do you know the best way to do that? Love my kids. My kids rank pretty high on my list of priorities. In terms of the people I care most about in the world, there’s only one person who outranks them and I’m married to her. If you treat them in a way that reflects my passion for them, you’re going to be sitting pretty firmly in my good graces. In fact, if you love my kids well, even if I’m not terribly inclined to like you myself, I’m going to give you a pretty strong benefit of the doubt and you’ll have to work pretty hard before I write you off. The simple truth is – and if you’re a parent you know this – we love the folks who love our kids. On the other hand, if you’re ugly to my kids, I don’t much care how kind or generous or gracious you are with me, you and I are done. As we keep inching forward in Mark’s Gospel, what we see here reveals that Jesus feels the same way. His family just happens to be a whole lot larger than yours and mine.

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Name Tag

This week we kicked off a brand-new teaching series called, Love Like Jesus. All this month we are talking about why love matters for followers of Jesus and just what it looks like when we get it right. You won’t want to miss a single part of this journey. In this first part we start off by clarifying why loving one another is such a big deal for Jesus followers. The truth is that it’s far more foundational even than we often understand it to be. Keep reading to understand why.

Name Tag

Think for a minute about the last time you did something you knew you should be doing, but it really just felt like a chore. What kinds of things have fit into this category for you? Perhaps doing the dishes? Maybe fixing a meal for your family? If you have an exercise routine, I suspect it’s felt like more of a chore than a benefit on more than one occasion (although that does not mean you’re better off not having one so you can avoid the guilt of doing it inconsistently). Do you know what else can sometimes fall on that list? I know this is something you’re probably not expecting the preacher to say, but I’m just being real with you this morning. Sometimes being a Christian can go on that list.

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