Thursday, October 2, 2014

Press On

Chained and imprisoned Paul spoke of freedom and pressing on. At this years women's retreat Pastor Win Houwen spoke on this topic. Starting in the first chapter of Philippians Win paints a picture of Paul chained to his guard, surrounded by the stones walls of his cell. Here Paul pours out his love and loneliness for his friends in Philippi in his letter to them. He sends them instructions and tools to press on in their striving to please God. He tells them to hope in God, have confidence in His will and to press on. For from God will come peace, love and grace. They in turn had their world turned upside down. In their weakness they could stand firm, sorrow turned to joy, fear to courage, discouragement to to hope and loneliness to loved.

In the second chapter we learn that the next step is to press in together. Paul places the words to a spiritual hymn in his letter. We know that he would often sing in his prison cell. Look closely to the prison guard and you will see him rolling his eyes. It must have driven him crazy. Paul continues to teach, and encourage in his letter. Do everything without grumbling or complaining so they may shine like stars!

Before we can press on we need to press out. Press out all the laws, rules, and rituals that many of us try to replace the grace of  God with. Rules about circumcision, tatoos, rock music, how we dress. Rituals of how long we pray, mouthing the Lords pray with no meaning, how much we give or don't give. Whatever it is that we decide God is requiring of us to be one of His. Or how about saying bad words? Paul apparently did not have any qualms about this. He tells of all the good reasons he should be allowed entry by how "good" he is. A Roman citizen, a Jew, studied in the scriptures, and honored. But he counts it all scoobalon. The Bible now says "rubbish" but the original word is scoobalon. This word is the same as our sh** word. You know crap! Love God and your neighbor, this is what God requires of us. But even in this we are covered with the unending river of His grace. Win used the illustration of a car going down the road leaving all that behind us. She used a Barbie car as an object lesson. I have drawn Paul riding in the Barbie car, now labeled for Christ. Out the back of his car he leaves behind scoobalon!

Press on. Fight the good fight and run the race. Finally, Paul lets his friends know after they've been encouraged. instructed, and given a fresh word that they must, and can, press forward. He wanted them to think peaceful, pure and true thoughts. The organ of thoughts to the Jews was not the brain but the heart. He asks them to stand firm in joy and in Christ Jesus. He sends greetings to two faithful but arguing women. He speaks of not dwelling in worry, not making it they're way of being but to be anxious for nothing. Worry, is okay, just don't make it who you are. 

Win described the word "gentleness" as being like a war horse. Powerful, muscular and strong but gentle enough to ride on and do our bidding. Notice the guard now has changed his expression to one of interest and hope. Many of the guards were influenced by Paul to come to know Jesus. 

So, that is what we learned at camp. :-) Don't you wish you could have come? 

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