Monday, January 20, 2014


1 Peter 3:8-12
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For
“Whoever desires to love life    and see good days,let him keep his tongue from evil    and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good;    let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,    and his ears are open to their prayer.But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 
It is amazing how foolish these words sound to the world. Sometimes I just want people to get what they gave me, or "get what they deserve" as if  I am some sort of impartial judge who knows what each crime should receive. And yet, this is not how Christ treated me. Here he calls me to become as he is and was... blessing and forgiving those who were trying to destroy him.

And we all want to know what God is calling us to. Here we have one clear answer: He is calling us to bless when we are cursed and to bless when we are reviled. No snappy retorts or witty comebacks. "Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies." Do good to those who persecute you and do all sorts of evil against you. This means everyone from the friend who cheats at a card game even up to the heinous crime of cutting you off in traffic. This means do good to the person who is trying to get you fired at work and the person who could be the next suicide bomber and the person who gets you put in jail for your good works. All of these things are real; I'm not making them up.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


1 Peter 3:1-7

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
I find this passage a bit intimidating to write about. The same standards apply as always. Is it true? Will I
obey it? Of course it's true and I hope to obey it someday. Much of it applies to me whether married or not. Do I define myself by my appearance, by gold (or maybe cheaper stuff) or my clothes or even my weight? Yes. Do I sometimes spend more time on those things than on what is going on in my heart? Yes. Is my spirit quiet and gentle? Do I have to answer this online? Ouch. This is how holy women who hope in God adorn themselves. Do I hope it God? Husband or not, this is an intimidating and convicting passage. People usually get caught up in their reactions to the subject to husbands part and miss the fact that the rest of it is far harder. And the men don't get off easy either. They can get their prayers hindered by how they treat their wives. That's scary too.

Thursday, January 09, 2014


1 Peter 2:18-24
Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Betrayal is one of the most painful things.
Believe me; I know. Hopes, dreams, trust, it all shatters in your hands all of a sudden and the shards leave you bleeding in a million places. When you've done good, that which is universally seen as good and then... Well, it's not easy. But how small has my suffering been compared to what my God has gone through for me? He chose his betrayer to be in his close circle. He knew he would betray. He ate with him the very night that the kiss was given. These are the steps we are to follow in. Jesus was faultless, doing only good. And yet God called him to face this. And he faced it by entrusting himself to the one who judges justly. He entrusted himself and his own will to the Father and to the Father's plan. Why? We were lost. And the shepherd bore betrayal, bore a thousand thousand tiny cuts all for us. All to heal us.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014


1 Peter 2:13-17
Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
As Americans we hate authority. We think freedom means having no authority, which is wrong. People get worked up especially with regards to government. But this passage, and others like it, seem pretty clear that you are to honor governmental authority. But here in the US most of us have very few run-ins with the government, as much bad-mouthing might go on. So how about we get practical.

"Honor everyone." That's pretty all inclusive. What about the husband and wife who make porn in their basement? How about the gay couple that wants to adopt? How about the sullen goth teenager or the haughty businessman or the annoying neighbor? What about your sinning parents, siblings, spouses, children? That practical enough for you? Do we even need to move on to: Love the brotherhood, Fear God, Honor the emperor (president)?

I was taught to ask two questions of scripture: Is it true? Will I obey it?

Sometimes I find myself getting so caught up in the confusing parts of scripture that I forget the clear parts. There are more than enough clear parts to spend a lifetime learning to obey. What about this? Honor everyone.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014


1 Peter 2:9-12
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
 It's a rather strong contrast here from the stumbling disobedience of the previous verses. We are not that anymore. Rather a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's possession. But none of this is without purpose. This is all so that we may proclaim God's excellencies, his glory for what he has done for us. And what has he done? Called us out of darkness into light, made us his people, given us mercy. These are grand things. 

Next, rules. What? Why rules now? Because the passions of the flesh wage war against my soul. It is for my own good. Also, good conduct is one of the ways I can proclaim what God has done and thus fulfill part of my purpose. When I am spoken against as an evildoer the people will see my good deeds and glorify God. It isn't for my own glory. It's for God's glory. This is why I am set apart, for this work, for God's glory. 

Monday, January 06, 2014


1 Peter 2:1-8
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious,and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”
“A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
What goes into me? Malice? Envy? These are the things contrasted with the pure spiritual milk. What is this milk?  It helps me grow up into salvation, just as a mother's milk grows a baby. But the metaphor continues... "if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good." Is this the pure milk, the Lord's goodness? Have I tasted such things. Yes. I have. And the remembrance and thankfulness for those things are what has brought me comfort and stability often in my life. God is good. 

I come to him like a living stone built into his house, to be a holy priesthood. Others stumble, rejecting the cornerstone, refusing to be built into the house of God, refusing to make the sacrifices, refusing to believe, refusing to obey.

Isn't this so often my own struggle. Even though I know I'm of God's house, Jesus' words still sometimes make me stumble. I refuse to step over them, accept, obey them. Rather, trying to go my own way I run into the wall.  But when I remember God's goodness to me, the preciousness of the stone that he is, when I look upon him, I do not stumble. I see and adore. 

Saturday, January 04, 2014


1 Peter 1:22-25
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for
“All flesh is like grass    and all its glory like the flower of grass.The grass withers,    and the flower falls,  but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
Now what? Now that we don't have to live in fear of judgement because our Father is judge, what should we do? Be obedient to the truth. Love one another earnestly from a pure heart. Why? Because we have been born again. And this type of born again isn't just a temporary thing like the rest of life. Everything dies. But God's word doesn't. 

At my church after the pastor reads the sermon scripture he says, "The grass withers and the flower falls." Then the congregation responds with, "But the word of the Lord remains forever."  It's easy to tie this phrase to Scripture. And it is, but it's the premise in this argument. Because God's word is imperishable, the seed of it planted in us will grow strong and not fade or wither. 

Friday, January 03, 2014


1 Peter 1:13-20
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”  And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Holiness. I spent a long time searching into this concept of holiness a few years ago. I wish I had come to more conclusions instead of opening the Pandora's box of questions. To be holy in all your conduct is one of those commands that feels so far from possible that most of us just want to give up. This passage can feel overwhelming. It gives instruction on being holy: being sober-minded and setting your hope where it belongs. It speaks of God's judgement. But it also points to the solution and the hope. We hope in grace, we hope in one whom we call Father, we hope in the precious blood of Christ. We don't put our hope in fond wishes or fleeting breath or a distant stranger. We hope in the one who gave himself for us, who spins planets, who paints sunsets over wheat fields, who loves with compassion that is even more unfathomable than the commands we are given. If our hope is in the right place then we can conduct ourselves without fear.

Thursday, January 02, 2014


1 Peter 1:6-12
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,  obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. 
The patience of the prophets is what has always struck me here. They knew a Messiah was coming and they knew it was coming out in the future. I suppose it isn't that different from Christians waiting for Jesus' return. But I feel that we have the salvation they looked for while we wait. They didn't have that. Also, to add wonder to the salvation we have you get the perspective of the angels. As humans we tend to revere angels for their beauty, power, closeness to God, and the like. But what we have outshines even them. They long to look into the mystery that is the gospel. If this gospel is so anticipated throughout history and so fascinating to the heavenly beings, shouldn't it garner my attention as well? Who am I to so casually take it for granted? These are convicting things. 

Wednesday, January 01, 2014


I keep coming back to 1 Peter. I'm not sure why. I tried memorizing it once years ago and failed miserably. I only made it through the first chapter. But I love it and I'm going back to visit my old friend for a few weeks. 

1 Peter 1:1-7 (ESV)
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,  who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
My favorite part of this passage is the jubilation. Even before the word "rejoice" is mentioned we are given a growing avalanche of wonderful words that buries us in happiness. 

  • great mercy
  • living hope
  • resurrection of Jesus Christ
  • inheritance
  • imperishable
  • undefiled
  • unfading
  • kept in heaven for you
  • God's power
  • guarded
These are all words that extend so far as to be overwhelming. Resurrection is no small thing. We in the church have become numb to it because of its centrality to the gospel. We tend to ignore the magic of the miracle of resurrection. Think about it for a moment. Have you ever imagined what it would mean for a dead person to come back to life, really? And this isn't in some creepy zombie way either. Fully alive. What in the world could ever be called imperishable and even unfading? Our inheritance is described this way. It won't disappear on us. It is ours now, kept in heaven for us. And we have free access to heaven because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.