Friday, March 18, 2011

Quiet Time

I'm going through "Live Intimately: Lessons from the Upper Room" in my Quiet Times right now and Philippians 2:3-11 was part of the reading for today.  I've read Philippians, I've taught a small group on Philippians, and I still find something new every time.

ESV: Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I also love how The Message words this passage:

 1-4If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if His love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

 5-8Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of Himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of Himself that He had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, He set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, He stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, He lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

9-11Because of that obedience, God lifted Him high and honored Him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that He is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

Have you read anything lately that you've seen differently now than the last 27 times you read it?  Or has anything just stuck out to you lately?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick the Church Planter

 Patrick was neither Irish nor particularly religious, at least not initially. Patrick was born Maewyn Succat in 385 AD as a Roman citizen in the Welsh town of Banwen, and for the first sixteen years of his life he was an avowed pagan.

 He was captured by Gaelic slave traders (some sources say Irish pirates/raiders/barbarians) at the age of sixteen and sold to an Irish sheep farmer. Patrick was enslaved for six years, during which he turned to Christianity for comfort. He escaped at the age of 22, and spent the next 12 years living in a British monastery. It was there that he adopted the name Patrick.  He returned to Ireland after his time in a monastery, along with 20-some followers, serving as a Christian missionary. He remained in Ireland until his death on March 17, 460 AD.

St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity to the Druids in Ireland, who viewed the shamrock as sacred.  Patrick would hold up a shamrock and challenge his hearers,  "Is it one leaf or three?" "It is both one leaf and three," was their reply.  "And so it is with God," he would conclude.

Of the 150 tribes he ministered to, 30-40 of them became substantially Christian. He trained over 1,000 pastors and planted over 700 churches around Ireland. The "wear your green" came from the reminder to wear a shamrock to remind yourself to share about the Trinity and your faith.

The myth that Saint Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland into the Irish Sea is just that -- a myth. Many locals still insist that the serpents were drowned in the Irish Sea by Saint Patrick, causing their seas to be so rough. The truth, however, is that serpents where never native to Ireland. The story is most likely a metaphor for the druidic religions, which disappeared from the Emerald Island after St. Patrick spread the seeds of Christianity. has almost as much to do with Leprechauns and green beer as Easter has to do with freakishly large, egg-hiding bunnies.