The Slave Most Free

Philippians 1:1

From Paul and Timothy, slaves of King Jesus…

I’ve been a slave to many things…

To people

To ways of thinking

To experiences

To certain foods

It sucks.

It’s binding, holding you back from your full potential.

But to be a slave of Christ Jesus…

To be a slave to the One who loved me to the point of giving himself for me.

He gave his entire self for you.

This is Someone worthy of giving yourself to.

One who is a “slave of Christ” is truly free from sin. If he is truly a slave of Christ, he is not a slave in any other realm, since then he would not be a slave of Christ but only half so.

~John Chrysostom

Always Pray

Ephesians 6:18

Pray on every occasion in the Spirit, with every type of prayer and intercession. You’ll need to keep awake and alert for this, with all perseverance and intercession for all God’s holy ones–

It is good to pray all the time for everything.

In fact, it’s more than good. It is how we appropriate the Life of God, or God-Energy,  into the earthly realm here and now.

In war, you want to cut off your enemy’s supply lines. No supply lines means no food, no ammunition, no way to win.

In spiritual warfare, our enemy wants to cut off our supply lines providing energy and power. Therefore, the enemy tries to keep us from praying because that interrupts the direct flow of life and energy from God into us. And those are the spiritual supplies absolutely necessary for fighting spiritual battles.

It’s interesting how the satan seems to be at work even in keeping this verse hidden. I’m not sure I can remember it being mentioned in church or preached on, even though it comes immediately after the very popular section on “Putting on the whole armor of God.”

Perhaps the evil one’s plan includes an attempt to keep us fascinated with the armor of God and what it means (instead of actually putting it on), as well as distracting us from focusing on that pesky little verse 18 about that thing he hates and fears so much—prayer, for prayer connects us intimately with God, providing the Spirit’s energy that is a non-negotiable requirement for living the spiritual life.


Ephesians 5:10

Think through what’s going to be pleasing to the Lord. Work it out.

Much of the Christian ethic is discernment.

I’ve always loved C.S. Lewis’s description of prudence:

Prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it.

Think through what is going to be pleasing to the Lord in any given situation. Put it to the test.

What an amazingly effective little “governor” this can be. I remember driving a box truck long ago that had a “governor” on it which did not allow you to drive faster than 55 mph.

A lot of people passed me.

Thinking through what is going to be pleasing to the Lord can not only keep you from doing something harmful, careless, or stupid, but will also help in discerning what to do among the many good things you could do in a certain day or situation.

Whenever someone I know is going through difficulty, and I have a chance to do them good, I find it always best to pray “Lord, what do they most need right now?” or “What do they need to hear from You through me?” Then I respond in the Spirit more than in my own power.

And, of course, if we can train ourselves to ask God, “What is most pleasing to You?” in times of anger, upset, hurt, and frustration, it will be a game-changer.

God is light, and the better we get to know God, the more that light (which is in us) shines on the right path for His name’s sake, making discernment less and less of a mystery. If you sit down to paint a beautiful picture, you don’t do it in a dark room. You sit under the appropriate lighting.

Perhaps it would be good to simply try to start forming the habit of asking God “What is going to be most pleasing to You?” in every situation, and see what happens.

I should definitely pray this before yelling at my kids…

and before yelling at other people’s kids.

Fitness Center for your Mind

Ephesians 4:22-24

That teaching stressed that you should take off your former lifestyle, the old humanity. That way of life is decaying, as a result of deceitful lusts.

Instead, you must be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and you must put on the new humanity, which is being created the way God intended it, displaying justice and genuine holiness.

I like Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on this passage so much, that I want to share a paragraph of his with you verbatim:

This was Paul’s argument—you no longer belong to the old corruption of sin; you belong to the new creation in Christ. Take off the graveclothes! How do we do this? “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” Conversion is a crisis that leads to a process. Through Christ, once and for all, we have been given a new position in His new creation, but day by day, we must by faith appropriate what He has given us. The Word of God renews the mind as we surrender our all to Him. “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy Word is truth” (John 17:17). As the mind understands the truth of God’s Word, it is gradually transformed by the Spirit, and this renewal leads to a changed life. Physically, you are what you eat, but spiritually, you are what you think. “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). This is why it is important for us as Christians to spend time daily meditating on the Word, praying, and fellowshipping with Christ.

I just love the practicality here.

We need to appropriate daily what God has given us. And there is a way to do that.

I’ve often thought how we need a fitness center for the mind. We’re taught so little towards this in our modern day American Christianity—at least in my experience of it. This is where Buddhists put us Christians to shame much of the time. They have a path very well laid out for reducing suffering and reaching nirvana. If you go to a Buddhist meditation center, you’ll be taught how to train your mind and truly change how you see the world.

A Christian conversion experience will also give you a radical shift in perspective, but why do we tend to stop there? Slowly, the world’s ways of seeing creep back.

Unless we train. Unless we appropriate. Unless we spend quality time with God, daily.




A sponge isn’t the ocean, but it can be completely drenched with ocean….if soaked in it.


Unity Preaches to Angels

Ephesians 3:9-10

My job is to make clear to everyone just what the secret plan is, the purpose that’s been hidden from the very beginning of the world in God who created all things.

This is it: that God’s wisdom, in all its rich variety, was to be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places–through the church!

Well this is interesting.

There was a big mystery, kept a secret since the foundation of the world, that would display God’s majestic and many-sided infinite wisdom.

Angels wanted badly to look into this way long ago, but couldn’t.

Angels knew about God’s power, and that He was choosing a people for Himself through whom He would bless the world.

But the wisdom that would bring all different sorts of people together under the single banner of Christ, they did not see coming.

Jews and Gentiles worshipping God together in unity under Christ was a very big deal at the time Paul wrote this.

When we come together, us many disparate people groups, under Jesus, worshipping Him and praising God, it preaches to angelic beings, displaying the rich variety and many-sided wisdom of God.

It is when Christ is the obvious reason people are getting together that preaches to the world, to authorities, to powers in heavenly realms. When you look around the room and realize that these people would not be getting together for any other reason, because they do not have anything in common, or much at all drawing them together—that actually testifies of God’s wisdom to angels, both holy and fallen.

This is what Christ does.

Spirit recognizes spirit, and people are drawn together by that cosmic force way more powerfully than “Oh, I like tennis too.”

There are many groups and clubs and parties out there drawing people together for something. Generally, they draw those who have a similar look, income, cultural background, etc. Nothing necessarily wrong with that. But it’s really something unique and powerful when every kind of person is drawn to a single cause and unified.

I’ve participated in this kind of thing a few cool times—praying with Ukranian brothers and sisters in Christ in Zhytomyr was an amazing experience of the one Spirit. And with the dads at our daughters’ school, where we laugh how it was definitely God who got us all in the same room together, because otherwise, we would not be hanging out!

If a church is drawing only certain kinds of people, then I guess either Christ is not the draw, or people are not going for Christ first and foremost, or some combination thereof.

Operating Power

Ephesians 2:2

That was the road you used to travel, keeping in step with this world’s “present age”; in step, too, with the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is, even now, at work among people whose whole lives consist of disobeying God.

This morning I read some interesting commentary on this verse by a couple of the early church fathers.

Marius Victorinus, born around 280, said, “Satan and his devils have their substance from air, that is, from material  reality. They derive their power in that same way, over those who think materially. The prince of that power which is in the air works through matter. He is therefore that spirit now at work through material means among the children of disobedience. He possesses their minds and has dominion over them. Therefore the one who lives ‘according to the course of this world lives according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit who is now at work in the children of disobedience.'”

And Theodoret, born around 393, “Yet he does not have power over all but only over those who do not receive divine revelation.”

This hearkens to Romans 8:5, People whose lives are determined by human flesh focus their minds on matters to do with the flesh, but people whose lives are determined by the spirit focus their minds on matters to do with the spirit.

The resurrection life and power that coursed through Jesus’s body now, “by a kind of spiritual capillary fashion”, courses through our bodies also!

I’m still dumbfoundedly trying to comprehend this.

We have this power coursing through us at all times. Ephesians is extremely clear that Jesus has all power over all things, powers, spirits, you name it, He owns it. But we can operate apart from this power depending, at least in part, on our mindset and the choices we make. Choices in what we think about, how we think, what we choose to do with our time and energy.

The more we focus on the material, on merely what is seen, the more we operate on that material level and in that power, which is not only many times weaker than Jesus’s power, but is the energy which the prince of that power uses. Also, live in disobedience, and you open up wide the pathways for powers of evil. Big fat invitation for corrosion of right thinking.

However, the more we focus on the Spirit, on the heavenly realm, that which is unseen, the more we operate out of that power—Jesus’s resurrection power which crushes all that may try to stand against it.

Thy will be done on earth as in heaven.

May the reality of the heavenly realm be the reality on earth.

It can be. It really can be. And in many places this is the case, even today.

We can literally shut up spirits of fear and anger and contempt if we tell them to shut the hell up via the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

I don’t understand most of what I wrote here today, but I believe it.

My Prayer for our Daughters

Ephesians 1:17-18

I pray that the God of King Jesus our Lord, the father of glory, would give you, in your spirit, the gift of being wise, of seeing things people can’t normally see, because you are coming to know him and to have the eyes of your inmost self opened to God’s light.

I can’t think of a better prayer to pray for our daughters, as well as any of our brothers and sisters in the faith.

This is a plea for what is desperately needed, vitally important to life and daily living, and asks for that which I cannot do for anyone.

This prayers requests what I most want for those I love and what is impossible for me to accomplish for anyone.

That’s a great basis for petitionary prayer:

For what someone needs most…

For that which is impossible for you to make happen…

I wonder what would happen if we prayed more….like this….

Burden and Load

20 Vallotton Galatians 03 Carry one another s burden
………..Portez les fardeaux les uns des autres……….
Good news bible
Collins Fontana 1976
British and foreign bible societies
146 Queen Victoria Street London
Annie Vallotton drawings

Galatians 6:2 & 5

Carry each other’s burdens; that’s the way to fulfill the Messiah’s law.

Each of you, you see, will have to carry your own load.

There’s a difference between a burden and a load.

Our burdens can be taken on by others. We can help carry, and even entirely carry, other’s burdens. Much of this is simply being there for someone. Being beside someone during a great sadness. Visiting someone who is very sick, maybe in the hospital. We can also carry someone’s financial burden. We can help a single mom by running errands which she has no time for…

As Christians, we are to bear each other’s burdens.

But your load is yours alone to carry. This is your personal task of self-examination and self-correction which no one else can do for you. This is your personal responsibility.

I can encourage you in your walk with Christ, maybe even inspire you, but I cannot walk with Christ for you, or actually improve you. If I say to you, “You make me a better person”, what I’m really saying is, “You inspire me to take personal responsibility for my living which is ultimately between me and God alone. Thank you.” For I will not be judged in comparison to others, so it does us no good to try to become more like God through comparison to others.

As a kid, I was obsessed with Harrison Ford, especially his characters Han Solo and Indiana Jones. I remember for my third grade school picture I tried as hard as I could to imitate this certain smile that Ford had in a scene that I loved. It cracks me up to look at it now and how it’s so not me. But the point is, I wanted to emulate Harrison Ford, so I studied him, stared at him, watched him over and over. I didn’t try to imitate other people who were also trying to be like him—then you’re doing the whole copy of a copy thing. That’s ridiculous! Nor did I try to imitate other actors who were not Harrison Ford. I didn’t want to be Burt Reynolds! I wanted to be like Harrison Ford!

Who Cut in on You?

Galatians 5:7-8

You were running well. Who got in your way and stopped you being persuaded by the truth?

This persuasion didn’t come from the one who called you!


Paul uses a track and field analogy here. Ancient runners did not run around an oval track in lanes as they do today. There was a post set at a distance away, and they ran to that post and back. So if a runner “cut in on you” (NIV), you’d have to slow down, you could trip, or possible even be knocked out of the race.

There are a thousand things/people competing for our attention.

Many detractors seek (unknowingly and knowingly) to take our energized focus off of our telos, our ultimate aim.

It might be good for some of us to define our ultimate aim in life. It’s not the worst idea in the world to craft a statement of intent for your entire existence.

I’ll share mine, which I stole from Dallas Willard, because I couldn’t seem to improve upon it:

To be single-mindedly focused on God, doing His will in everything, distracted by nothing.

I guess it’s another way of saying, “To be one with God”.

That’s my telos, the pole in the ground I’m ever running toward.

What pole are you running toward with your whole life?

Who or what is getting in your way, cutting in, tripping you up?

Who or what is stopping you from being persuaded by the truth?

Remember, these distractions do NOT come from God, and, as we see in verse 9, a little bit of it can cause large problems:

A little yeast works its way through the whole lump.

Paul warns us of “the negative effects of an unchecked spiritual malignancy.”

Don’t Stay in Kindergarten

Galatians 4:9

But now that you’ve come to know God—or, better, to be known by  God—how can you turn back again to that weak and poverty-stricken lineup of elements that you want to serve all over again?


In kindergarten, you learn the basics upon which you build for later learning and living. It is necessary, but not where anyone in their right mind desires to stay.

This is the analogy Paul is making for us with regard to the Law of Moses*. It’s necessary to learn those basics, but that was all for something much better, more complete, to come later.

To stay tied down to the rules, even to morals, is to stay in spiritual kindergarten, and really gets you nowhere as far as growth. This is where you see damage inflicted by strict fundamentalism which misses the point of it all. When you’re obsessed with what everybody shouldn’t be doing, there’s little room left to enjoy God as the son or daughter Jesus made you to be since the cross, since the outpouring of His Spirit.

Paul is saying, “Since you’ve been enlightened by Christ, and given His Spirit to live on, in, and through, why on earth would you ever go back to the way it was before, keeping up with a bunch of rules and rituals in order to garner favor with God??”

I think it is always more powerful to point to who we are rather the what we should do.

When you really accept who you truly are in Christ, you’ll do what you need to do.

*Paul could also be referring to all religious thought before Christ—worshipping the elements such as fire, air, sun, moon, etc. and obeying/sacrificing in order to appease God or the gods.