Archive for the ‘Colossians’ Category



August 5, 2013

“These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.  If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 2:23-3:2

I completed the 4 Summit Challenge.  It was not what I had expected.  This past summer my friends and I have been ride everything with a vertical grade to prepare us for this challenge.  I felt confident in my level of fitness to complete the ride.  However, that confidence was quickly consumed at the base of the vertiginous second summit.

040914CornersI was riding with a friend as we began our ascent but we soon separated into our little worlds of endurance as we sought our individual climbing cadence.  I knew early on that this was going to be a new and unpleasant experience.  I had already surrendered into my lowest gear when I caught a glimpse of the road miles ahead.  The road crossed from one side of the mountain to the other and then gouged itself upward in the form of three switch-backs.  It was like my own personal l’alpe d’huez.

71472755_0Miles of unrelenting slope were ahead of me, without the relief of a lower gear.  Therefore, I had to grind it out.  The resistance of the mountain was too great for me to keep a high cadence on my pedal stroke.  So, every turn of the pedal required more power than I wanted to expend.  My muscles burned from the constant tension on the pedal.  My heart pounded against the pride of falling below 5 mph.  The sweat poured off of me as I struggled to keep cycling in a straight line.

It was a rather pathetic display.  A display that was made more irritating by other cyclists passing me while carrying on a conversation.  I was not capable of conversation.  How could these freaks be talking so calmly while I am gasping for every ounce of oxygen I can suck through the gaping hole that was my mouth?

Cassette Replacement 020

Cassette Replacement 020 (Photo credit: QuietDangst)

The answer to that question came over the following days.  A friend had stopped in a bike shop after the 4 Summit Challenge and had discussed our struggles on that day.  The owner commiserated with our plight and explained that he always changed out his gear cassette for that climb.  He recommended that we use a 12-30 gear cassette.  The numbers refer to the amount of teeth on each gear.  The more teeth a gear has the easier it is to push on a climb.

That bike shop owner had stated something that I knew but had not occurred to me.  The cassette on my bike is 11-21.  The difference between 21 teeth and 30 may not sound like much but it is a huge difference.  It would have allowed my ascent to have included conversation and an appreciation of the view rather than a miserable grind that tempted me to quit.

I see a lot of folks grinding through their Christian existence.  Like many, I have ground through my faith trying to climb a virtuous ascent to holiness.  I have employed all sorts of aids.  I know the grind of self-discipline.  I know the temptation to follow the practices of mature believers and the wonder when I did not get same results from their method.  It all has the appearance of wisdom but I have found that these methods have not stopped the indulgence of my flesh.  The severity of self-imposed discipline can be so grinding that it has always made me want to quit after a period of time.

The virtuous ascent to holiness always reveals our method.

We cannot gracefully ascend in obedience when we are relying upon our self-discipline.  One can grind it out for a while but it will be miserable.  Those who make the Christian life look easy have learned how to ascend in joy by setting their minds on the things above, not on things that are on earth.  They know how to seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Ascending is all about having the right gear.

Effort has to be expended in every believer’s ascent but the right practice will make the difference between a pathetic display that few will want to emulate and an enjoyable, peaceful, glorifying, ascent to new heights.

I cannot control my flesh.  I have never been able to permanently grind it into submission.  However, I do control what I set my mind upon.  I end up doing what I want to do.  By setting my mind of the Spirit and the things above, the desires of my mind are changed by the Spirit.  I don’t need grinding self-discipline when my desires have changed.  I can allow myself to do what I love when my mind has the right gear.

Let’s set the only gear we need into place and seek our Lord.  Let’s ascend to new heights of holiness to the glory of God.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for giving us a path of obedience that can be joyful.  Forgive me for so often trying to follow You in my strength.  I can be so foolish in my thinking that all that appears to be wisdom will somehow work.  Thank you for giving me your Spirit to teach and guide me.  Teach me how to set my mind on you in all circumstances.  Help me to recognize when I am failing to set my mind on the things above.  Lord, you are so good to me.  Fill me with a joy in obedience that will be a pleasing fragrance to you.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.



June 23, 2013

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”  Colossians 3:12-13

“STOP!”  The command still resonates through my ears even after thirty years.  It was not a menacing or cruel command but it was all too common.  It always was a command of necessity and a little frustration.  It was a frustration that thankfully did not originate with me but from the task at hand.

I knew what I would see upon looking in the direction of my father.  There he would be, seated at his workbench, both arms stretched out to his side with his hands in the universal sign of “don’t take another step”.  His eyes were never on any person.  They were already looking down, searching for what he had lost.

I would stop and give my dad the room  he needed.  The slow searching process had begun.  He would start with himself.  Slowly lifting each fold of his shirt to see if what was lost had landed in a crevasse.  He would work his way down from his shirt to his lap and the ridges of his chair.  All the while, the search would become a little more urgent through its descent.

If his prey was particularly elusive, my dad would take a small magnet and begin to sweep the surfaces of his workbench.  He would keep his feet and chair rigidly fixed as the magnet moved through a search pattern designed not to leave a space unexamined.

If the search proved unsuccessful, my father would carefully step from his bench and take his frustration to the floor.  He would run his magnet across the floor in an agonizingly slow hunt.  It was a colossal waste of time.  That is what frustrated my dad the most.

New old skeleton watchworks, seen through its ...

New old skeleton watchworks, seen through its crystal back (Photo credit: readerwalker)

My dad was a watchmaker.  Actually, he was a watch repairer.  This was back when watches were not powered by batteries and governed by electronics.  My dad made his living working on mechanical time-pieces that were masterpieces of tiny gears, screws, and springs.  Stores shipped their customer’s functionless watches to our house and my dad transformed the broken into the useful. However, it was always difficult to make a living being a tradesman of the watchmaker art.  The watchmaker was paid by piecemeal.  He only earned his wage when what was shipped back worked as it was intended.  Therefore, the provider of my family had the pressure of production that an adolescent will never understand.  This was the frustration that my father felt as he searched surfaces of his shop.

Molnija 3601 watch movement macroMy father’s search was most often for the tiniest of screws.  The slightest bit of excess pressure on their round surfaces could cause one to disappear as if by magic.  Time slips away when having to deal with something that was not the original problem but has become one.  Wages associated with the repair evaporate with every moment wasted in search of that which was not broken but yet essential.

A friend was recently telling me of an experience in his church that made me think of my dad’s frustration.  He told me of how a person had been offended by something that he had done in which I struggled to see the offense.  It seems to me that the particular person had to work at being offended by the actions of my friend. It was a tale that is neither unique nor uncommon.

I wonder at the amount of time spent by pastors smoothing over perceived or minor offenses within their congregations.  I don’t think I want to know the level of consideration wasted to crafting communications so as to appease the delicate.  It seems that just the slightest touch of inadvertent pressure can cause positive attitudes to disappear as if by magic.  Trouble and hurt feelings can easily arise and become an issue that engulfs the original problem.  The progress in helping the broken can be consumed in soothing the feelings of the delicate.

The drama swirling the delicate staggers me.  It wears me out.  I don’t know a church, family, group of friends, or workplace that does not contain some drama.  The reality of the pervasiveness of drama probably comes from us all being more delicate than we may want to admit.  Most of us don’t want to acknowledge that we are over-sensitive.  We resist the idea that we may have a weakness toward searching out offenses.  We may deny our skill in conjuring drama from innocent intentions.

The drama of the delicate is such a colossal waste of time and effort.  We are all forced to spend the time searching for the solution to a specific bit of drama.  The solution may appease the delicate for a time but it never usually addresses the heart issue.  Therefore, we are all trapped in this dance of being so concerned with not offending that distracts us from our real purpose in serving the broken.

Drama consumes so much energy.

We were never intended to be delicate in Christ.  We are supposed to be compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, forgiving, and loving.  Drama does not come from those who are bearing with one another.  Offense does not linger in those who have forgiven.  Patience soothes the over-sensitive.

Jesus did not spend a lot of time with the drama of the disciples.  He rebuked the drama when it arose.  He addressed the sinful heart condition that was exposed when His disciples acted in a particularly delicate manner.

We are to be known for our love for one another.  We should not be known for our drama.

The next time that you feel the pressure of offense, consider the colossal waste that will come from the drama building within you.  Seek the Lord and let Him soothe the delicate nature of our soul.  Let He be the comfort of your sensitive feelings.  Allow the Spirit to strengthen you and empower you to look past the failings of others and to forgive.  Let the fruit of patience and peace bless all those around you.

Allow yourself to be delicate before your Lord but be mature for the Body of Christ and strive for a drama-free life through the power of His Spirit.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for not leaving my delicate nature in your gentle hands.  Forgive me for trying to correct the offenses that I have felt.  Forgive me for my tendency to think of myself more than others.  Lord, give me compassion and meekness.  Help me to be kind and forgive.  Grant me humility and enable me to bear with others.  Father, I need you to fill me with the power of your Spirit so that I can walk in a drama-free life.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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