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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. – Colossians 4:2-6 [ESV]

Baobab Tree | Near Mwadui, Tanzania | February 2021

Years ago a high school classmate opened a door and invited me to come in and sit down. I was on crutches at the time, waiting for my first period classroom door to be opened. Sitting down sounded good, so I shuffled across the hall and discovered the door led to a photographic darkroom. Jerry and I became fast friends. He taught me photography, sold me my first real camera, and ultimately talked me into becoming a pastor. I am eternally grateful for his friendship and influence. 

Sometimes doors open to opportunities we would never expect. Sometimes we may usher someone into a new place of discovery. But Jerry already knew he wanted to be a Lutheran pastor – as a junior in high school. And his friendship led to some significant life changes for me.

Perhaps you could open the door for someone and make a friend, and have an impact in the reign and rule of Jesus. That would be a divine appointment. Who knows when they will come? But we can pray for them. Just as Paul asks in this letter to the Colossians. I am now asking you to provide that for Diane and me while we’re here in Tanzania.

Who knows what such divine appointments will lead to? God does, and he wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth of Jesus Christ. Pray for us to have open doors…and for yourself…and for the people in your life who know and love Jesus too.

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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. – Colossians 4:2-6 [ESV]

Bishop Gulle with his Wife at PLI-International Training | Geita, Tanzania | November 2021

Diane and I begin today to teach Leading Change for the Sake of God’s Mission for the pastors and spouses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania, East of Lake Victoria Diocese. I will be teaching the lead off presentation, specifically, Leading Change for the Sake of God’s Mission. I’ll be asking, “Why would we lead change in our churches?” (It’s not because we want our way, or have our personal preferences!). We make changes so that we may reach more people and bring them into God’s kingdom.

The goal of this teaching is that those being trained will become willing and able to lead changes when needed for the sake of Christ and His mission. If a church is not making disciples, change will be needed. If a church is making disciples, change will still be needed! The change, however, is always for the purpose of making more disciples in order to fulfill God’s mission.

This leads to the second question we’ll consider: What can we change for the sake of the mission, and what can we not change? What does God’s Word allow us to change, and what does it forbid us to change?

The goal of this question is to help those being trained clearly to establish from God’s Word, not only the “why” of change, but also to establish, from God’s Word, “What” things can be changed, and those things that should not ever be changed.

Some people become very defensive and fearful when the subject of change in the church comes up. Some worry that by changing we’ll lose the truth of the Gospel and God’s Word. We will make the point that there is always a sense of loss with any change. Diane will teach about that later this week. But God is good, and there are always blessings and grace from God as we follow Jesus in his mission.

Please pray for us that we may be sensitive to people’s feelings, fears, and impatience (also a problem with those who are more ready than others to change!) as we encourage these Jesus followers to lead change for the sake of the mission. 

I’m wondering whether you are being led to consider changes you need to make for the sake of Christ’s mission. You can pray about that as well. Then listen carefully for God’s answer. 

PS: Today is Diane’s birthday. We’ll be celebrating in Tanzania. I’ll invite the people there to sing Happy Birthday to her!

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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. – Colossians 4:2-6 [ESV]

Pastors & Spouses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania – East of Lake Victoria Diocese | Bishop Gulle, Center, | Geita, Tanzania | November 2021

Diane and I will be in Tanzania teaching pastors and their spouses about Leading Change for the Sake of God’s Mission. We expect about 100 people to be in attendance and look forward to sharing insights we have learned and which will help the church there remain faithful to God’s mission while not holding to unnecessary and unhelpful traditions or practices. We’re not there to tell them what they must change, or to recommend any specific changes. But we are there to help them to prioritize their efforts.

A recent email from our PLI International Executive Director included some important ideas. The quote is somewhat lengthy, but well put.

The three most important activities and behaviors of a pastor that contribute to growth, and are consistent with God’s Mission, and SHOULD BE where the first and greatest portion of time is given by the pastor, are:
  • Evangelism (personally reaching out to those who do not believe or who are outside of the church – NOT just their preaching from the pulpit)
  • Discipleship (personally helping some who believe to grow in and become more and more like Christ – the pastor cannot personally disciple all of the members)
  • Leadership Development (consistently developing some others to be disciple-makers and leaders who influence other for the sake of the mission)
These three are consistent with the Mission of God and the ministry priorities of Christ, and bear the greatest fruit for the Kingdom.  The FIRST portion of a pastor’s time should be set aside for these three activities, and everything else the pastor does is done with the time that is left over.
 
HOWEVER, usually, it is just the opposite.  The pastor’s time is given to everything else, and then these are the three things pastors MIGHT DO with whatever time is leftover.
 
None of those you train will argue against these things being the best and most important things for a pastor to do since they are the most helpful things to do in order to accomplish the mission of MAKING DISCIPLES.  But, they will acknowledge how difficult it is to make these three things their first priority. They may even say: “I don’t have time to make disciples (evangelism and discipleship) because I am too busy at or with the church!”  Then we say: “Think about that. How has it become possible that we as pastors are too busy for disciple making when that is the MISSION of the church?” Give them time to let that question sink in!
 
Even though this creates a challenging conversation, all those we are training are both challenged AND INSPIRED by the conversation around this.  We recommend that they not only end their week of Year Two training thinking about the things that need to change AT THEIR CHURCHES, but that they begin to think about the change they can make in THEIR OWN LIVES AND MINISTRY LEADERSHIP in order for these three things to have a greater and greater portion of their time and energy. – Rev. Dr. Scott Reiche, Executive Leader, PLI International
 
This is nothing unique to Tanzanian pastors. It’s a daily challenge to all pastors. While we may think our churches need to change in certain of their practices or activities, the first change needs to take place in our own hearts and lives.
 
Please pray for us, that we may live what we teach and practice what we preach. It’s much easier said than done. 

Join me in praying these psalms on this Lord’s Day. He is Lord of all – from East to West, North to South. Across the continents people have been gathering to praise God and encourage one another in the faith.

Psalm 26

Vindicate me, O Lord,
    for I have walked in my integrity,
    and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
Prove me, O Lord, and try me;
    test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
    and I walk in your faithfulness.

I do not sit with men of falsehood,
    nor do I consort with hypocrites.
I hate the assembly of evildoers,
    and I will not sit with the wicked.

I wash my hands in innocence
    and go around your altar, O Lord,
proclaiming thanksgiving aloud,
    and telling all your wondrous deeds.

O Lord, I love the habitation of your house
    and the place where your glory dwells.
Do not sweep my soul away with sinners,
    nor my life with bloodthirsty men,
10 in whose hands are evil devices,
    and whose right hands are full of bribes.

11 But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
    redeem me, and be gracious to me.
12 My foot stands on level ground;
    in the great assembly I will bless the Lord.

Psalm 56

Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
    all day long an attacker oppresses me;
my enemies trample on me all day long,
    for many attack me proudly.
When I am afraid,
    I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
    in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
    What can flesh do to me?

All day long they injure my cause;
    all their thoughts are against me for evil.
They stir up strife, they lurk;
    they watch my steps,
    as they have waited for my life.
For their crime will they escape?
    In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!

You have kept count of my tossings;
    put my tears in your bottle.
    Are they not in your book?
Then my enemies will turn back
    in the day when I call.
    This I know, that God is for me.
10 In God, whose word I praise,
    in the Lord, whose word I praise,
11 in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
    What can man do to me?

12 I must perform my vows to you, O God;
    I will render thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered my soul from death,
    yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God
    in the light of life.

Psalm 86

Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
    for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly;
    save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
Be gracious to me, O Lord,
    for to you do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
    for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
    abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
    listen to my plea for grace.
In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
    for you answer me.

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
    nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come
    and worship before you, O Lord,
    and shall glorify your name.
10 For you are great and do wondrous things;
    you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    that I may walk in your truth;
    unite my heart to fear your name.
12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
    and I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your steadfast love toward me;
    you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

14 O God, insolent men have risen up against me;
    a band of ruthless men seeks my life,
    and they do not set you before them.
15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me;
    give your strength to your servant,
    and save the son of your maidservant.
17 Show me a sign of your favor,
    that those who hate me may see and be put to shame
    because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Psalm 116

I love the Lord, because he has heard
    my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
    therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
    the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
    I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
    our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
    for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For you have delivered my soul from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling;
I will walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living.

10 I believed, even when I spoke:
    “I am greatly afflicted”;
11 I said in my alarm,
    “All mankind are liars.”

12 What shall I render to the Lord
    for all his benefits to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
    and call on the name of the Lord,
14 I will pay my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people.

15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
    is the death of his saints.
16 O Lord, I am your servant;
    I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
    You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
    and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will pay my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord,
    in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!

Psalm 146

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

Put not your trust in princes,
    in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
    on that very day his plans perish.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
    who executes justice for the oppressed,
    who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
    the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the sojourners;
    he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
    but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10 The Lord will reign forever,
    your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®)
Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission.
All rights reserved. 

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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 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. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,  24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Colossians 3:12-25 [ESV]

Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Tree Bark | Hawaii | March 2022

I’ve always been somewhat self-conscious about my clothing. Often you wouldn’t know it for various reasons – not least of which I’m pretty comfortable wearing shorts and an untucked shirt most of the time I’m not doing more official pastoral stuff. And I do try to present myself appropriately dressed as often as possible. But I do care, and will lay aside certain clothes if I don’t think I look good in them. I see many people these days, however, who don’t seem to care a nit about their appearance. Oversized and grungy shorts, torn and sweaty tee-shirts, inappropriately revealing tops, and do-you-really-think-that-looks-good-on-you leggings.

Just for the record, I’m not thinking now of people I actually know. And you don’t have to dress up or down for me. My point is that I might be more concerned about my appearance than some others. Then again, maybe they care who seem not to care. 

We are called here to “put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” Those are accoutrements that we who have been baptized are to wear – no matter what kinds of clothing we might sport. They are not bought in a store. They are not the raiment of only the fashionistas. They are available to all. And they always wear well. Always. 

Think of it: you are dealing with a frustrated customer: A compassionate heart will likely serve you well as you seek to help him. Or you need to bring a failure to the attention of your daughter: Kindness and humility on your part will make the conversation go better. Someone is moving way to slowly in helping you at the checkout stand: Patience isn’t just a virtue, it’s a must unless you want to irritate the clerk and ruffle your own feathers in the process. You might think that meekness is a weakness. But if truth is on your side, meekness can be a powerful witness to faith. 

But they can hang neglected on the rack, and ignored as we face the challenges of each day. We forget, ignore, or despise them too easily. This is not our calling as Jesus followers. Difficult as it may be, these are to be the intentional choices of we who have been touched by Jesus’ love. It takes effort, mindfulness, purposefulness, and self-discipline to wear these attributes. And that happens only when we renew our minds and hearts daily (hourly???) by the power of the Holy Spirit. Remembering Jesus’ love and his patience and kindness is essential. Renewing our inner new nature is vital. Seeking his forgiveness when we fail is essential. From that perspective we will be best able to add the layer of love that makes all these things look truly beautiful. 

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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 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. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,  24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Colossians 3:12-25 [ESV]

Coffee Beans on the Stalk | Hawaii | March 2022

I used to ask, many years ago, “Do I have to take out the garbage as for the Lord?!?” I was trying to be provocative. I knew the answer: Yes. But I’m not sure I fully understood the implications of that question or its answer. This has to do with more than taking out garbage. In fact it has a lot to do with how we treat one another in our families (husbands, wives, children), our community (servants [read: employees] and masters [read: employers], and our brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re to relate to all of them as a brother or sister in Christ, or one for whom Christ died. 

I’ve often said that everyone you meet is one of the two of those: brother or sister in Christ, or one for whom Jesus died, and who he loves. A colleague likes to say that everyone you meet is either a fellow missionary, or a mission field. That’s a challenging statement. It takes it beyond a be-kind-to-everyone kind of life – as good as that might be. A life of kindness toward others is certainly a worthy aspiration for all Jesus followers. But to think of yourself as a missionary and others as either fellow missionaries or mission opportunities: that’s a whole level beyond.

There is much to consider here. For everyone is a fellow missionary or a mission field, we ought to be looking at people quite differently. Is this someone who God has sent to me to help me reach my friend or neighbor with the love of Jesus? Or, is this difficult person someone who needs to be reminded that we’re partners and brothers and sisters in Christ in following/joining Jesus on his mission? Or is this difficult person someone who needs to hear about Jesus from another person – one who has less baggage? 

In the meantime the garbage needs to be taken out. Work needs to be done. Lawns need to be mowed. Flower beds need to be weeded – and watered these days! And life itself goes on. Even missionaries need some R&R once in a while. We don’t have to spend every moment of every day on high missionary alert and at spiritual battle stations. But we must never forget that there are opportunities God brings our way for sharing the gospel and challenging the devil’s schemes. 

Last time I checked, everything means every thing. So no matter what you are called upon to do today, do it as unto Jesus, in his name, as his ambassador, to his glory, and in his loving grace. For God has an incredible inheritance prepared for us who are his. And if we’re his, we will surely want to serve him well – he who served us perfectly and completely, and saved us.

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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 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. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,  24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Colossians 3:12-25 [ESV]

Hawaiian Opal Pink (Red frangipani) | Hawaii | March 2022

He who sings, prays twice. Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. I would certainly like to praise music with all my heart as the excellent gift of God which it is and to commend it to everyone. But I am so overwhelmed by the diversity and magnitude of its virtue and benefits that I can find neither beginning nor end or method for my discourse. – Martin Luther ~1530

I’m with Luther. I love music. It moves the heart and soul. Scientific studies have shown that music can change a person’s state of mind. It can agitate. It can sooth. It can excite. It can calm. When we go to the gym, we don’t always like their choice of music, but the songs with a beat keep us moving. I fell in love with my wife when she played Chopin and Brahms on the piano. Wonderful! I have a gift of music, able to sing and play the piano by ear. 

Some songs just stick it for me. I have chosen some songs to be sung at my funeral. Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heart is first on the list. I’ve also requested In Christ Alone. And I just added to more: Is He Worthy, and Untitled Hymn. [Links below provide Youtube versions of some of these.)

I’m on solid ground in choosing these (or other Christian hymns or spiritual songs). This is what we are all called to do: “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” When music embodies the truths of God’s word (as these four hymns/songs especially do) we are not  only reminding ourselves of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and love. We are bringing God’s word to others, and perhaps encouraging them in their walk. This would be my hope – not only at my funeral service, but in my life as a whole. 

I try, once in a while, to listen to talk radio, or top 40, pop, or (don’t judge me!) even easy listening music. I enjoy movie soundtracks and highly regard John Williams’ incredible movie soundtracks. But I come again and again to classical (with many religious/faith roots and allusions) or Christian contemporary music. These bolster my spirits and shape my soul. How about you? What’s on your playlist? 

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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 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. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,  24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Colossians 3:12-25 [ESV]

Our Favorite Wedding Day Photo | Cape Girardeau, MO | June 21, 1975

We’re celebrating 47 years today. Forty-seven years of grace, love, forgiveness, learning, struggling, praying, repenting, rejoicing, and thankfulness in the grace and faithfulness of God. Make no mistake – and I say this to acknowledge how true this must be for Diane – marriage is hard work. Love is not always easy. Great amounts of grace and forgiveness are needed. 

But there are also those happy days of joy and delight. Moments in the kitchen as we cook dinner, and have an impromptu hug intermission. Moments in the mountains of Colorado in the summertime. Moments of pure delight in connecting with our grandchildren. Happy moments on the back patio when the weather permits for morning devotions (something we still do separately; we’re wired differently in that area), or a clink time glass of wine. The delight of great music at the symphony. Moments of great appreciation as I’ve been the recipient of Diane’s prayers when I’m sick. Joyful moments when we’re just enjoying life together. 

Now about that wives submit and husbands love part of this passage. Remember it doesn’t say here, “Make sure your wife submits to you.” It says, “Husbands love your wives.” And it doesn’t say, “See to it that your husbands love you.” It says, “Submit to your husbands.” 

I like to point out to young couples who are getting ready to be married that most guys would take a bullet or stand in the way of someone who would threaten his fiancé. What about the smaller sacrifices of love? Listening to her when she just wants to talk, or helping with the laundry, or washing the dishes?

And when it comes to submission, if you take apart the word sub-mission, you might think of it as being under the mission of the husband. And true submission puts you under the husband’s submission to God. To “submit” to something outside the will of God is not submission. That’s compliance. And the Bible does not call for compliance. 

We’ve had our share of questions and discussions of just how this actually works between the two of us. But the greatest moment in the midst of one of those discussions occurred when I decided to take the next words of Diane as from a pure heart, filled with love and desiring good for us both. The discussion evaporated in a fleeting moment. Two broken people found delight in each other once again. 

That’s when the first part of this passage showed itself to be vitally important to us both:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 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. 

Happy Anniversary Diane! I love you, and thank God for these 47 years. And I thank God for you. And I thank you for your love and grace toward me!

 

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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 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. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,  24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Colossians 3:12-25 [ESV]

Hawaiian Hibiscus | Hawaii | March 2022

I’m not a big fan of “One Size Fits All” clothing. I’m not sure they have people like me in mind when they make those clothing items. Perhaps not the very small person either. When it comes to the Christian faith, it’s not a “One Size Fits All” proposition – except  for the faith itself. For the foundation of our faith is our great need for Christ and God’s grace and mercy toward those who acknowledge that need. That applies to all of us who have been saved, no exceptions.

Beyond that, however, for each of us who believe there is a unique way by which we live out that faith.  Paul begins here to speak of the unique ways we are each to live out our faith. Wives, husbands, children, slaves, masters, parents, fathers: we each have a calling unique to our identity and life station. Children, obey. Husbands, love. Wives, submit (more on that later this week, I promise). Servants: obey from the heart. 

Notice here what he does not say. There’s no, “Masters, be sure your servants obey you.” He does not say, “Husbands make certain your wives submit to you.” Nor does he say, “Wives, see to it that your husbands love you.” We each must take God’s word to heart for ourselves. We may receive blessings by the actions of others. That’s good. But our focus must be on our own behavior and the blessings that brings to others. And that’s true no matter who we are. 

What is your station in life? Are you husband, wife, child, mother, worker, employer, teacher, student, customer or vendor? You will likely have an opportunity to express the unique manner in which Jesus’ love and calling takes shape in your life. And no matter who you are, Jesus’ command to love God first and love your neighbor as yourself is perfectly fitting.

 

As you pray these psalms today praise our Heavenly Father who is good, faithful, and just.

Psalm 19:1-4

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.

Psalm 49:5-12

Why should I fear in times of trouble,
    when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me,
those who trust in their wealth
    and boast of the abundance of their riches?
Truly no man can ransom another,
    or give to God the price of his life,
for the ransom of their life is costly
    and can never suffice,
that he should live on forever
    and never see the pit.

10 For he sees that even the wise die;
    the fool and the stupid alike must perish
    and leave their wealth to others.
11 Their graves are their homes forever,
    their dwelling places to all generations,
    though they called lands by their own names.
12 Man in his pomp will not remain;
    he is like the beasts that perish.

Psalm 79:8-10

Do not remember against us our former iniquities;[a]
    let your compassion come speedily to meet us,
    for we are brought very low.
Help us, O God of our salvation,
    for the glory of your name;
deliver us, and atone for our sins,
    for your name’s sake!
10 Why should the nations say,
    “Where is their God?”
Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants
    be known among the nations before our eyes!

Psalm 109:21-26

21 But you, O God my Lord,
    deal on my behalf for your name’s sake;
    because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!
22 For I am poor and needy,
    and my heart is stricken within me.
23 I am gone like a shadow at evening;
    I am shaken off like a locust.
24 My knees are weak through fasting;
    my body has become gaunt, with no fat.
25 I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
    when they see me, they wag their heads.

26 Help me, O Lordmy God!
    Save me according to your steadfast love!

Psalm 139:1-18, 23-24

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®)
Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission.
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