Let’s Get Personal.

Raise your hand if you have ever been in in church and felt like the pastor was speaking directly to you. Have you ever felt like you are sitting in the “hot seat”? Ever felt like the pastor keeps making eye contact with you, and only you, as he speaks? It’s happened to me, both as a recipient and after giving a message. I have had people come to me and say, “I think that message was written for me.” For whatever reason, the message that day for that person was very personal. 

The apostle Paul wrote several letters to the church in his time, many of course that we have preserved in our Bibles today. The letter that we have to Philemon stands apart from the others because it is a much more personal letter, it is very short and, on the surface, does not seem to contain any big theological teachings. 

This letter has a lot to do with relationships, close personal relationships, and the incredible bond of love (inspired by Christ) that binds them together. Consider for a moment the words that Paul uses to describe Onesimus, He is his child (v.10), his heart (v.12) and his beloved brother (v.16). When he speaks of Philemon, he uses similar words plus regards him as a co-worker (v.1), a partner (v.17) and one who owes him his very life (v.19). 

Much of Paul’s letter to Philemon is written on the foundations and command found in 1 John chapter 4. “We love because he first loved us… Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister”. (v.19,21b)

It seems that Philemon was in the “hot seat” as the intended recipient of the letter, but, the introductory verses also read, “the church that meets in your home”. The church as a whole body is included in this plea that Paul writes. While this letter is personal there is a bigger message for us all. 

I like to think that we can all put ourselves in the shoes of the original characters of this letter. Maybe you or I take on the role of Paul as the writer and mentor, maybe as Philemon, the recipient and leader, or as Onesimus as the one seeking to be forgiven and accepted. Maybe you or I are observing from the “sidelines” as someone who is a part of the church. 

No matter who we might be in the letter there is a message here for each of us. A message that bridges the span of time from its first delivery to the minute you and I read these words in your bible today. 

As followers of Christ, we are not alone. In Christ, we become brothers and sisters, we are adopted as sons and daughters into the family of God. Paul outlines some very practical ways for us to act as a family through this letter, putting us all in the “hot seat” as we think about how we personally and corporately live out each of his prescribed actions in our lives. 

How are we loving one another? (vs. 5, 7, 9,16); How are we praying for one another? (vs. 4, 22); How are we partnering or sharing with one another? (vs. 6); How are we being good or showing favor to one another (vs. 6,14); How have we been refreshing (inspiring) each other’s hearts to act and serve in a way that honors God? (vs. 7,12,20)

What question or action will you choose to act on today? Was this message written for you personally? Pray and ask God to lead and guide you out of the “hot seat” and into action. 

Family Foundations.


If you have ever been through the process of buying a home, one of the first things you look at or have inspected is the foundation. You want to make sure that the house you buy is standing on a solid foundation. The discovery of a crack or weak foundation is often a sign that makes us look the other way, even when it might be our “dream home”.

In the book of Colossians chapter 3:18-4:1, The Apostle Paul echo’s his teaching in Ephesians 5 regarding the instructions for Christian households. In both passages Paul outlines the important characteristics each member (wives, husbands, children) must live out so that they are living in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. The role or function of the Christian family as Paul describes it, serves as the true foundation that was originally intended in the beginning. Paul wrote to a group of Christians who were being influenced by false teachers, and in the same way today our self-interested societies have broken down and rebuilt many weaker foundations to define the family unit into what serves them the best. Paul uses some heavy-duty words like submit, love and obey to describe the characteristics of what should be found in a Christian household. Christ modelled this behavior during His time on earth in His relationship with His Father and we in turn look to emulate these things in our most personal connections as evidence of our own relationship with Christ. Just as these foundational elements cemented the bonds between God the Father and Son, when they are applied to human relationships they create firm footings for strong families to grow on.

I had the privilege of growing up in what I would described as a healthy Christian household according to the standards that Paul describes. Now, with that being said, our family has its share of quirks and tales of “potholed roads” just like most every family. We do not live in a perfect world, we must “devote ourselves to prayer” (Col 4:2) like Paul says so that the love we have for one another will exemplify the perfection of Christ’s love for us. Husbands must pray for their wives, wives for their husbands, and husbands and wives for their children. Our role, our function as a family is to bring glory to God and be solid foundation that others see and strive to build.

Connecting the Dots


It seems the dot-to-dot craze has followed the return of the popular coloring books for adults and kids. Each intriguing puzzle and pattern from the simple to the complex challenges our cognitive skills. I personally enjoy the challenges of the hard or “extreme” dot-to-dot puzzles, they keep me searching and speculating as to what the final picture will be shaped into. Working with precision from one point to another keeps our mind active and sharp, always looking forward to the next step.

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians helps us “connect the dots” when it comes to growing in the family of God. Paul’s prayer for the people in Ephesus (Eph. 1:17-19) extends to our lives today. He prays “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” In many respects, Paul gives us the instructions for Christian living through this letter. He reminds us to be humble, gentle, patient, truthful and to “live as children of light”. He insists (4:17) that we must no longer live as we did before being adopted into God’s family. The hope that Paul prays for, the inheritance of the promise of eternal life together within God’s family sets us apart, “you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens… also members of his household.” (2:19)

I challenge you to read the book of Ephesians as a whole, from beginning to end in one sitting. What you will discover is Paul writes these words so that we gain a deeper understanding of who our God is and how we can have a deeper relationship with Him. As believers we are adopted into His family, we need to be proactive in searching for the “next dot”, the next step in building our relationships both with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Think about the investment of time and effort it requires to maintain a close relationship with your closest friend or spouse. Then, consider for a moment how much time you spend deepening your relationship with your Heavenly Father. Pray, like Paul, that God will give you the wisdom to see His love for you as a son or daughter in his family.

The Right Ingredient

GroceryHave you ever been in the grocery store and watched people shop? It is very interesting to see how people make decisions about the products they buy. Manufactures and food makers by law have to list the ingredients on their products. The labels have to clearly state each ingredient along with the products nutritional information. Having these things clearly labeled gives us the opportunity to buy their product with the full knowledge of what has been put into it, there are no surprises…most of the time.

The apostle Paul writes to the Galatians a letter that gives us a key “ingredient” to becoming a member of God’s family, a child of Christ. He writes, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.” (Galatians 3:26). Did you see it? Through faith, faith in Christ Jesus, that is how we are adopted into the family of God. Paul, writing to the people of Galatia uses what may have been a controversial three letter word in that time, the word “all”. He expands on this in verse 28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” What a beautiful picture of a family, of the relationship between the children and their Heavenly Father. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives we all have the opportunity to be a part of this family.

It is important to understand that the “ingredient” of faith does not stand alone when we become a part of God’s family. Paul continues to teach the people to have a hope in the righteousness that is promised, a heart filled with love for others and a humble attitude of service for one another. As a parent and as a leader, it is exciting to see these ingredients increase in the lives of our children and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our world today offers a “mega-store” of different faiths and religions to shop from. Do not be distracted by the “products” that are put front and centre on the shelf just because they are popular, look closely at the ingredients, be sure they include the key ingredient of faith in Christ Jesus.

Living in a Fog



A dense fog has the ability to obscure our visibility when walking down the sidewalk or driving down a road. We can become disoriented in the fog, losing track of where we are. Our sense of sight becomes secondary to our senses of hearing and touch.  Sometimes as I write these blogs my mind enters into a “fog” of sorts, it is a strange mental moment that obscures and confuses my thought processes. Being in the fog often slows us down, making us pay closer attention to the things around us as we can’t see the details.

My next few blogs will be focusing on the nature of God’s family and the function of earthly families as I read through and reflect on what God’s word says about both. The Song of Songs records a very descriptive narrative focused on love and passion between a bridegroom and his bride. The love notes or poems point us to the bigger story of the bond of marriage between a man and a woman as it was intended through the eyes of our Lord. When we allow ourselves to enter into the text and read it through the lens of understanding family and relationship, it suggests – through comparison for the most part – that today we have walked into a fog of misunderstanding and obscurity around the truth of genuine love and relationship.

Our society today has a distorted view of marriage and love from those first perfect relationships that started in the Garden of Eden. (God and man and man and wife) We talk about walking with God today but not in the same sense that Adam and Eve did in the beginning. This fog we are in now is nothing new as it too eventually clouded those first perfect relationships. Reading through the book of Songs by Solomon give us a hope for a return to this perfect union, it shines a light on the depth of love is found in the union of marriage (the cornerstone of a healthy family). Solomon’s words, inspired by God are a reflection of love that our creator has for all of us. We pray for the revival of faith in God, through that I also pray that our growing faith and understanding in our relationship with Him will lift the fog that set us back on the road of true biblical relationship with each other.