Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hanging out at home

Well, yes, I've been sick.


So, I really ought to be writing this post over on my lupus blog.

Except, I don't want to write about being sick.

The sunshine in this house is quite remarkable.

The other day I took a hiatus from my bedroom and wandered down to the family room in the late afternoon.  Jumbled circles of golden light bounced against the closed blinds over the doors to the deck, teasing to get in.  I padded down two steps, across the floor.  Quiet in my pajamas, I stood by the blinds watching the light play for a moment, then turned the rod to open the slats.

Brightness flooded the room.  I could have focused on the deck, which sorely needs sweeping, but I chose to gaze beyond, through the foliage.  Trees grow along the swale that is sometimes almost a stream running down to the lake.  We have a maple and some pines, while our neighbor, across the swale, has a lovely weeping willow.  Willow fronds dangled and danced, dappled and dappling, all interspersed with slanted light shining through.  Across nearby plains and cornfields, wind flies fierce, but trees and rolling terrain in our neighborhood restrain and tame the gales.  Gusts still whirl, of course, but not as ferociously.  I watched a group of willow fronds tossed back and forth in the breeze.  Jungle-like, yet quintessentially Midwestern, luminescent yellow-green foliage swinging loose and free, sparkling.

There are so many things I want to write about, but the ideas get tangled up in too many words.  I want to write about being present, about reality, about not living a virtual life, not worshiping images of things.  I want to write about how the Sabbath year for cancelling debts and the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25, Deuteronomy 15) demonstrate the same principle as the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16).  But I don't have the words for it.  Or rather, I have too many.  So I skip to the punch: Truth illuminated.  Unmerited favor.  Grace.

Grace.  Light.  Beauty.

Dear Lord Jesus, please shed your grace on us.  
Show us the light, the beauty that is You, 
the wonder of Truth, the gift of Wisdom.

Here are a few pictures I took today,
trying to capture the beauty of light,
and one picture Shawn took
with quite a remarkable capture of light.
Please look for the light.




Sunshine on a sunporch
(I thought I was better today, so I dressed and tried to go out,
but I landed back at home in comfy fleece lounge pants,
with my Bible and my dog.)

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the hearts of men;
yet they cannot fathom what God has done
from beginning to end.
~Ecclesiastes 2:25

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Very personal memories of God

God has graciously drawn me since I was very young.

I do not know why.

Why does He draw someone?  And why does someone else struggle so, to hear and to believe?

One of my first memories is of being a small baby, and being carried to my crib.  I did not want to be put into my crib, this I know.  I remember the feeling of dread, how I clung to the adult but was peeled off and placed in the barred crib despite my most passionate protests.  I remember remembering the horror of the ongoing routine of screaming and crying for someone to come back and get me, but nobody coming.  I remember the soft crunch of a plastic mattress liner under the sheet over the crib mattress, and the taste of the varnish on the wood of the crib.  I vividly remember the hot scratchiness of the screams that tore my throat, and the strain of clutching the crib rail, pulling myself up, striving, straining, flexing every muscle in panicked fury until I was in veritable pain.  And I remember a calm voice that spoke to me, although perhaps not in words, because I don't think I was verbal.  Maybe it was just an idea that washed over me from Someone outside of me.  "You don't have to fight," this Presence told me.  "It's okay.  You can just lie down.  It doesn't have to be like this."  I remember lying down, gently, almost as if an angel slipped me into a new position with comforting hands.  I clearly remember a comforting warmth that spread over me as I let go of my angst, my striving.  My tempest melted away in a blanket of warmth, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up to happy parents.

You may not believe it, but I remember this.  Somehow, I've always known it was God there that day, telling me, "You can just lie down.  It doesn't have to be like this."

I remember a day when, as a school-aged child, I sat cross-legged on the floor in the living room in front of the oak bookshelves that surrounded the descending staircase.  Green carpet, oak shelves, the World Book Encyclopedia volumes bound in black and white leather, the set of beloved Childcraft books.  I sat in that spot often, considering what to read next.  But that particular day, I felt the presence of God, and I wondered why I was so blessed.  Why did I have a nice, solid house and nice, clean clothes and good food to eat, when the world was full of suffering, starving people? Why did I get to go to church and learn about Jesus, when people all around the world had never heard of Him?  Why did I have a mom and dad who taught me about God?  Why did I have a bookshelf right in front of me with numerous Bibles in various translations at my fingertips?  Why indeed?  I thought of the maps inside the pages of the volumes of the encyclopedia, and I imagined all the distant places and people groups they represented, and I thought about the largeness of the world, even the Universe.  In those moments, the Spirit of God was doing something in me, opening my mind to a vastness beyond myself.  Not that I understood it, but I was aware of it.  I pondered the Universe, and how I was so small within it, and yet so inexplicably blessed.

I remember being a bit older, a young teenager, walking home from school with friends.  I was sharing about something that had happened, something I didn't like.  I don't remember the particulars, but it had to do with authority and punishment, and I was upset.  The others listened sympathetically.  They were kind to me.  Supportive.  "That isn't fair at all," they said.  "You don't have to accept that."  They admonished me to fight, to resist, to rebel.  It felt good.  I felt validated.  And then, suddenly, I realized the hollowness of it.  Although I do not remember the exact subject, the words, the details of the situation, I remember a sudden awareness that it was wrong.  I remember, accompanying the awareness, the curving slope of the green autumn grass down to the road (if you know Anoka, it was Green Street).  This part of the memory is as clear as the day it happened.  That Presence--the one that had been there since I was a baby--was suddenly in me again, and although the words of my friends had been soothing and affirming, I knew that I could not listen to them, that they were not right.  I had a fleeting thought about how it was a shame that I couldn't go on being validated, there on the green, grassy lawn.  The regret was followed by a chilling sensation as I understood how strong the temptation was to believe a lie.  I don't remember what happened afterwards, in my physical life, with the people.  I don't remember how the conversation may have closed.  All I know is that God was there, and He pointed me away from the alluring validation of my sin, from words and ideas that seemed so appealing, but were not true.  They simply were not true.

Those are three specific, memorable times when God communicated with me as a child.  To this day, I do not know why He did.

Why should I be blessed to be able to sense God's presence and respond to Him?  Why should I be blessed to love His Word, and through His Word, Him?  Oh, dear Lord, may others have this blessing.  Please open hearts, as I know you can, as only you can.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Jesus, the Word of God

Once I wrote a post called Sin, the Promise, the Law and the Word of God.  (If you click on that highlighted text, it will link you to it.) It is a piece wherein I hashed out some of my most frustrating questions, and somehow arrived at answers that I found satisfying.

It's a post where I explain my understanding of the story of the Bible, in broad scope.  Although it is not exhaustive, it tackles certain questions that often seem to go unanswered.  Sometimes we flail awkwardly with regard to the Law, or the Torah, not grasping what we should do with this ancient and original section of the Bible, and why it is in the Bible.

Over the weekend, Shawn and I visited one of our children's churches, and heard an excellent message on the Transfiguration from Mark 9.  (Okay, I'm sorry.  This is an abrupt transition.  Please bear with me.)

In Sunday's sermon, the pastor pointed us to Jesus, standing on the mountain where He was transfigured.  Mark tells us:

His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.  And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus . . . Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: "This is my Son, whom I love.  Listen to Him!" (Mark 9:3-4, 7)

Other teachers have pointed out that the enveloping cloud signifies the presence of Holy God, just as it did on Sinai long ago in Exodus:

The Lord said to Moses, "I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you" . . . On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightening, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast.  Everyone in the camp trembled.  Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.  Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord descended on it with fire.  The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder.  Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. (Exodus 19:9, 16-19)

I saw for the first time the absolute parallel of what God was doing here.  It reminded me of a paragraph I'd written in Sin, the Promise, the Law and the Word of God:

The Law was the first revealed Word of God, but Jesus was the ultimate revealed Word of God (see John 1).  What the Law showed us in part on tablets of stone, Jesus showed us completely in a life lived in the flesh.  What the Law promised, Jesus fulfilled.

No wonder the story of the Transfiguration is repeated throughout Matthew, Mark and Luke, while John alludes to it in John 1:14.  This is a life-altering event, where God transfers the authority of His Word to the promised prophet that Moses had spoken of:

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers.  You must listen to Him.  For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, "Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die."  The Lord said to me: "What you say is good.  I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.  If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account." (Deuteronomy 18:15-19)

Humanity could not face the presence of God and live, so Jesus Christ humbled Himself to become one like us, from among our brothers, born a human baby from a human mother.  He took on human flesh so He could bring us the living Word of God in a form that we could grasp.

Jesus said:

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my words and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.  I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. (John 5:24-25)
For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.  I know that His command leads to eternal life.  So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say. (John 12:49-50)
I and the Father are one.  (John 10:30)

Jesus is the fulfillment of every promise, the source of life, the true word of God, the hope of all creation.  Jesus is everything.  

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ.  And so through Him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God.  Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.  (2 Corinthians 1:20-22)

. . . through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending His own Son, in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so He condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:2-4)

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. (John 3:17)

. . . which leads us to Romans 8:1 --

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!

So anyway, that is what I learned this weekend.  The Transfiguration shows us how God glorified His Son, Jesus Christ, and demonstrated that He was the promised prophet who would speak God's words.  Jesus is the one we must listen to.  Jesus comes to us with the words of life.  Jesus fulfills every promise and opens heaven to all who will believe.

And of course this leads us again to the gift of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, who comes to dwell in the hearts of every believer.  Jesus doesn't leave us as orphans, but sends His own Holy Spirit to abide in us, uniting with our spirits so that we are one with Christ, who is one with God. (John 14:18-20)

That, however, is moving on to another subject.

(All Bible quotes that I typed out in this post were from the NIV84; underlined emphasis is mine.)

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Saturday night

I'm feeling very thankful tonight.

Because this handsome, heroic guy

helped me clean windowsills today.

And by "helped," I mean he manned the vacuum.  Actually, first he used the central vac, until it wouldn't reach anymore.  Then he journeyed down and retrieved his vacuum from the basement, to finish every far nook and corner.  He did such a good job that when I came behind him with spray cleaner and paper towels to polish the next layer, there wasn't much left to wipe off.

We've had an incredible number of spiders this year, spiders and webs by the dozen, every single night.  I haven't been able to keep up.  Then I got seriously behind.  My windows were terrifyingly infused with cloudy white webbing, dangling black egg sacs, and the crusty remains of fly entrees.  Whenever I thought, "I ought to open up those windows and get after that," my next thought was immediately, "Nope.  Not when I'm home alone, I'm not getting after that."

My HERO helped me overcome this.

Spider-extinguisher.  Web-obliterator.  Insect-refuse-eradicator.  Rescuing hero and lover of my soul.

Thank you.

Fresh air blew through the house for the rest of the day.  The sills gleam, shining white.

It was a good day.  I will sleep well.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

A question from BSF Lesson #2 (Romans)

In Bible Study Fellowship, we studied Romans 1:18-32 this past week.  This is the classic Biblical text that addresses the progression of rebellious man into increasingly destructive sexual sins.

One of the questions in our lesson was, "What are some of the reasons God links the sin of idolatry to sexual immorality?"

A number of people reacted to that question with confusion and disinterest.

It was a good question, though, and leads to a much better understanding of sexual issues.

In my attempt to share my answer, apparently I failed to be clear or convincing, because when I was done, one woman in the group said, "Well, I don't know what the question means, but I just think sin is sin, and that's all there is to it."

It made me sad.  I think this is part of the reason why it is hard to reach those who have been drawn in by sexual sin.  Telling them, "Sin is sin, and you are sinful," is not a productive approach.

On our lesson sheet, the BSF question: "What are some of the reasons God links the sin of idolatry to sexual immorality?" suggested we look up the following texts for "help" answering the question.

  • Genesis 1:26-27 (God created man in His own image, male and female in the image of God.)
  • Genesis 2:24-25 (Man and woman are to leave their parents and be united into one flesh; the first man and woman were naked and unashamed.)
  • Mark 10:8-9 (Restates that a man and a woman will be joined into one flesh, joined by God and not to be separated by man.)
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (Talks about who will not inherit the kingdom of God, and lists sexual sins, including homosexuality.)
  • 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 ("Flee from sexual immorality.  All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.  Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore, honor God with your body.")
I'm just saying, but in that list, the only texts that actually apply to the question are the first and the last.  The three in the middle only confuse the issue.  They may show Biblical evidence that homosexuality is contrary to God's design, but they don't bear any weight on why God links idolatry with sexual immorality.  The question was, "What are some of the reasons God links the sin of idolatry to sexual immorality?"

Besides pointing to some unhelpful texts, BSF left out some texts that would have been extremely helpful:

  • Isaiah 43:6b-7 ("Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth--everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.")
  • The book of Hosea.  (This book is about spiritual adultery, allegorically explained through human adultery.  Hosea 3:1 somewhat encapsulates the theme:  "The Lord said to me, 'Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress.  Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.' ")
  • Jeremiah 2-3, 13:22-27 (Graphic descriptions, comparing the idolatry of Israel to sexual unfaithfulness.)
  • Ephesians 5:31-32 (" 'For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church.")
  • James 4:3-4 ("When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your own pleasures.  You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred towards God?")
  • Revelation 19:7 ("Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!  For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.")
(All emphases were added by me.)

Maybe in reading these texts, you are starting to synthesize an understanding of where I am going, before I spell it out.  I hope so!  I want so badly to answer this question simply and clearly.

Here are my points:

1.  God created humanity in His image.  He even created both maleness and femaleness, somehow, in His image.  We are created in the image of God for the purpose of glorifying God by reflecting His glory into His creation.  Reflecting the image of God is a Big Deal.  We are only little mirrors, little moons, reflecting the sun. We have no business messing with or distorting the Image of God.

2.  God created the male-female relationship to mirror the God-humanity relationship.  God is a God of faithfulness, relationship and covenant love.  God is always faithful to His promises, His covenants.  God has made a covenant with His people.  Jehovah is the husband of Israel, and Christ is the husband of the church.  God keeps His covenants.  Likewise, it is God's desire that a man and a woman remain faithful to the promises they make to one another when they covenant in marriage.

3.  When we see physical adultery among the people of earth, we can understand the pain it causes.  This should help us understand the extreme devastation that results from spiritual adultery, when people turn away from the one true God and look instead to worthless things for their hope, satisfaction, peace, joy and sustenance.

4.   Sexuality can become an idol, when we look to it for fulfillment and pleasure outside of God's will.  When we try to use sexual intimacy as a replacement for spiritual intimacy with God, we are bound for big trouble, although we may not realize our predicament right away.

5.  Sexual sin is especially insidious.  When a murder is committed, a dead body makes the problem fairly obvious.  Likewise with theft, there is a visible loss of property; someone's means have been diminished.  When sexual sin occurs between two consenting parties, and particularly if there are neither betrayed spouses nor children involved, it may be less obvious what the problem is.  This is why 1 Corinthians 6 tells us, "he who sins sexually sins against his own body."  We may not be able to see, immediately, what the harmful result is.  It is an invisible problem, a damaged soul and spirit.  Nevertheless, the damage is deep.  When we depart from God's directions for sexual relationships, we lacerate our purity and faithfulness.  Thus, the image of God in us becomes disfigured.

After considering these points, we can reconsider the question:

"What are some of the reasons God links the sin of idolatry to sexual immorality?"

Here are some reasons:
  • Both idolatry and sexual immorality are about turning away from God and rebelling against His authority.
  • Sexual immorality breaks down the image of Himself that God designed within mankind.  Thus, sexual immorality reinforces fallen humanity's inclination to turn increasingly farther away from God and seek satisfaction, pleasure and happiness elsewhere. 
  • The definition of idolatry is: seeking satisfaction, pleasure and happiness in something other than God, while turning away from God (or sometimes even while trying to pay lip service to God on the side).
When sexual sin disfigures the image of God in man--the glorious image that man was created to reflect and display--man loses his worth (see 2 Kings 17:15, Jeremiah 2:5, Hosea 9:10).

It begins with a failure to trust God and believe that He knows what is best for us, even if something forbidden seems like it would be very pleasurable (remember how "good for food and pleasing to the eye" that lethal fruit in the garden seemed?).  As people turn away from the wise counsel of God, prioritizing their own opinions and desires, it is as though they turn off a light.

When you turn off the light, you are left in the dark.

That is what Romans 1:21 is talking about.  "For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."

So, Romans 1:24-28 tells us three times that God "gave them over" to what they were seeking.  God never forces His way on us.  He will pursue you, because He loves you.  However, He will never coerce you.

God gives you what you want.  Woe to you if you want destructive things.  However, even in giving you over, God often opens your eyes to the devastation of your choices in time for you to see the resulting wreckage and repent.  He wants you back.  He calls you back.  He sent Jesus to get you back.

Here's one of my current favorite verses:

I will heal their waywardness 
and love them freely, 
for my anger has turned away from them.
Hosea 14:4

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What do you do?

What do you do
when you are just that tired,
oh so tired,
and your neck hurts
because you threw it out whilst fumbling a tiny pot of eye cream
during your morning ablutions?

When you are parched with thirst
but too tired to get a drink,
because it's so much work to find a way
to balance the glass
and avoid leaving wet rings on furniture.

When you need a walk
but a walk sounds ghastly,
 although you usually like walks,
but not today
in this sweltering Indian summer heat.

Too tired to type.
The letters keep coming up wrong.

Too tired to read, 
but perhaps you will try.

Too tired to initiate a project.
Too tired to make an appointment.
Too tired to carry the laundry downstairs.

Yet, the sun is high,
shining up a bright and fancy day
totally inappropriate for napping.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Words coming together

Many years ago, I started to pray for joy.

I did this out of selfishness and self-defense, primarily because I was afraid to pray for patience.  I'd heard stories about praying for patience.  "If you pray for patience," everybody said, "watch out!  You will get all kinds of trials, to test your patience."

Of course I wanted to avoid trials.  So I decided never to pray for patience, but to pray for joy instead.  I didn't think there could be a downside to praying for joy.

Well.  I had a lot to learn.  I could probably write a whole series of books about everything I've learned related to this.  And that is not saying that I learned everything there is to know--I'm sure that I've only learned a small fraction of what there is to know.

So, instead of trying to tell you "everything," I'm going to distill it to a few words:







Pride is the problem.  Pride is putting yourself first, focusing on your feelings, and working hard to control your circumstances.  Pride is not so much thinking that you are better than other people, although that's what we automatically associate with pride.  Rather, pride is assuming that your perspective is correct and your feelings are very important.  Most of us do this without thinking about it; it's so automatic, it's invisible to us.  That's Satan's favorite.  He loves to keep us blinded to our sins.  Pride is a sin--a very fundamental, basic sin--that hinders our relationship with God.

Dignity is what we should have instead of pride.  Dignity means that we have an appropriate, accurate view of who we are and what is called for in our behavior.  When we have dignity, we act with respect for others and respect for ourselves--true respect, dignity, acting with grace even in difficult circumstances--because this is who we are.  And who are we?  We are children of God, created by God, redeemed by Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  Dignity knows Whose we are, and carries His banner like an ambassador.

Humility is the opposite of pride, but it is inherent in dignity.  Humility is understanding that God is sovereign, and we are not.  Humility is realizing that none of us are the center of the universe, God is.  Humility is realizing that God does not need us, but we need Him, desperately.  Humility is understanding the way we have been born mutated by sin, and in need of repair by the Master Creator of the Universe.  Humility understands that God created people to glorify Him--to love Him and to reflect His glory into the created Universe.  Humility also understands that we--created men and women--have pridefully rebelled against God, and thus failed to fulfill His purpose for us.  Thus, humility understands that we deserve nothing from God except destruction.  When something is too broken to fulfill its purpose, the normal conclusion is to throw it away.

Grace is what God gives us in place of our deserved destruction.  We cannot understand grace if we do not understand what we truly deserve.  If we assume that we deserve heaven (or even just "all the good things"), then "grace"--under that assumption--simply would mean that God is nice and comes through to provide what we thought we ought to have received anyway.  But if we understand that God had every right and every reason to crumple us up and discard us, that He could have started over with a new, unblemished creation, but instead He chose to die for us, in our place, while we were sinners, so He could purchase us back from Satan and embark on a massive restoration project, then we begin to grasp what grace means.  Grace is undeserved, by definition.

We can't understand grace if we don't have any humility.

But when, through humility, we grasp the concept of grace, we arrive at gratitude. Thanksgiving.  Gratitude.

Gratitude arises when we receive something outrageously generous, something we could never have hoped to attain or afford, outside of an intervening miracle.  We are thankful when we brush the edge of destruction and the hand of God delivers us into life, instead of death.

When we are truly thankful, to the depth of our being, in the reverberating center of our hearts, then we experience joy.  Joy comes from gratitude and thanksgiving.

Joy is the fruit that grows in a grateful heart.

A grateful heart comes from an accurate understanding of what we deserve, and what we are not entitled to.  In other words, gratitude originates in humility.

Humble people experience joy, and (sadly) prideful people cannot.  That's another one of Satan's lies: "Have pride in yourself.  You are important.  You are where the buck stops.  You can call the shots, and anybody who tries to stop you from calling the shots is a bad person.  Seize your rights!  This is how you pursue happiness!"  But it simply doesn't work that way.  Satan is a liar, and pride will never bring you more than a flashing glimmer of happiness.

Pride is the pitfall.

Dignity is the escape route.

Humility is the cousin of dignity and the key to appreciating grace, which ultimately results in gratitude.

And gratitude leads to joy.

Words coming together.

In conclusion, here is a short analysis of the result of praying for joy: You will get the pride beat out of you.  But it's a really good thing.  It's worth it.

Also, you'll find all of this in the book of Philippians, in the Bible, if you are inclined to look.  I realized this today at church, as our pastor is preaching through Philippians.