Full Submission to Christ

            In all of the discipleship process ,Christ is central.  The understanding that Christ took our place on the Cross in a selfless act should be central in how our development occurs and how we reflect a selfless driven life to others.  Bonhoeffer described that any effort to hinder Jesus in this suffering is satanic, it is holding Christ back from becoming what He was supposed to be.[1]  The understanding that Jesus was rejected in this selfless act of suffering struck me to my core.  Where have I been denying Jesus His rightful place as He suffered to take the rejection of God away from me?  Also where am I denying the suffering I am supposed to take on in order to become what Christ has made me to be?

These questions have disturbed my view on becoming and making disciples for Christ.  The full denial of self to me seems to be where I need to work in order to come to full freedom of self and freedom in Christ.  Focusing fully on Christ in daily prayer, scripture and worldview is something I feel I need to become more aware of and focused on.  Even in this pursuit, keeping the focus on God rather than my own desire to develop further can become counter productive.  Letting go completely and just focusing on the one who goes before me is where I need to reorient my life daily.[2]  I find that I have bought into the fallacy that I need to know myself, rather than fully embracing and knowing only Christ.  I can never know who I am or what I am to be unless I give up fully on the idea that I could ever know on my own or apart from Christ.

Embracing suffering is central to Bonhoeffer’s discussion as well on the Cross.  Taking up the Cross as a follower means I bear suffering and not avoid it.  Only through suffering could Christ become who He was called to be.  How then could I ever believe that I was above Christ in that I should avoid suffering as well?[3]  As Christ prayed for the cup to pass over Him in Gethsemane, He came to understand by only drinking the cup fully, could He then pass from it.[4]  From Bonhoeffer’s statement I draw new hope, that only through bearing the suffering will it be able to pass.[5]  As Christ became the savior of all through His suffering, how much I can become in Him through the suffering I face in the world.  This to me is true submission and a desire to fully embrace Christ by holding fast to him and fully denying the self I still try to cling to.

[1] Boneffer 85

[2] ibid 86

[3] ibid 89

[4] ibid 90

[5] ibid


Christ is Central to Discipleship!

I had an assignment for class this weekend that focused on the centrality of Christ in discipleship.  While it was a big title, I found one key element, Christ is central in everything!  This is even more important when talking and walking with others as they come to know and grow in there faith.  If you up for it, read more below.  I know I learned a lot, I hope you find it helpful as well.


Discipleship can be summed up in a single word, obedience.  From this all other aspects proceed in a follower’s life, no matter what they are following.  We can be obedient to a cause, political party or various figures throughout history.  The key component is obedience.  This is why as a Christian disciple, Christ must be the key figure that we are obedient to.  There would be no other reason to be called a disciple of Christ if first that person is not committing themselves to obeying Him.

Karl Rahner explained, “obedient surrender of the whole person to the incomprehensibility of the holy God.”[1]  This kind of surrender starts with the giving of a person’s inner and outer self-allowing transformation to start to take place.  This act of giving oneself over to Christ becomes a life transformed by Christ’s grace.[2]  If a person is not focused on Christ, then they are not going to be letting Christ in to transform them.  It is not by our power that we are moved by Christ, but it is by Christ that we are moved.  If there is no obedience to His will, there is no reason to call oneself a disciple or follower of Christ.

It is by Christ that also calls a person into discipleship.[3]  To answer the call of Christ suggests having obedience to what He is calling us to.  The recognition of the calling is important, but going back to who the person is following is the important theme.  Without a follower recognizing that it is Christ that they are choosing to obey, they will not truly be focusing on Christ.[4]  This is taking the follower out of the equation as Christ is the one who calls, Christ is the one who is recognized and Christ is the one who initiates the relationship.  There is no place that a disciple is in a position to hold power or sway in the relationship.  It is Christ doing the work, Christ doing the teaching and Christ doing the transformation of a person’s mind and heart.[5]  All we do is say “yes lord” and we are transformed by Christ for God’s glory.

Areas of Submission

            With obedience also comes the act of submission.  Once Christ is recognized as the One we are seeking after, we must come under His authority and how he is calling us to be.  This again is not a mere act of our own will, that would be taking away the centrality of Christ in the process of discipleship.  It is rather an understanding revealed by Christ and a change brought on through that understanding.[6]  Christ is the reason for the understanding and for the cause and completion of the change in a disciple.  At no point is a person able to say no to any aspect of Christ in their life, for if they say no to anything they are saying no completely to Christ.[7]

One of the main topics of submission surrounds around humility.  Humbling oneself and coming to Christ is the recognition and submission to Christs will in a follower’s life.  Without humility a disciple will be focused on themselves for; self-glory, will be self-reliant, boastful about themselves, care what others think rather than what Christ thinks, resist facing personal sin, weakness and failures, struggle with blessing s of others, more positional rather than sub missional, and want to control rather than delegate in ministry.  All of these issues stem from a focus of self rather than a focus on Christ.[8]  Again it removes Christ, telling Him no, causing a rebelling nature to take hold.  Understanding this will help in refocusing continually on Christ and draw from Him what we need to sustain our relationship with Him.

Part of being a disciple is that taking into account the cost of followership in Christ.  This is a thoughtful process to help the new believer understand the cost of following Christ. [9] Being a follower of anything takes full attention and focus to continually develop in pursuit, being a disciple of Christ is no different.  They must also be willing to carry the burden and sacrifice in life for Christ, the focus still is fully on Christ even at the cost of possessions, family, etc.[10] Disciples submit to Christ authority in study, his call to love others, and fulfilling His mission in their lives.[11]  Finally a disciple is one who is bearing fruit of their relationship with Christ by growing themselves as well as others in Christ.  All of this is fulfilled by the filling of the Holy Spirit who again was given to disciples by Christ for Christ’s glory.[12]

Three Stages of Discipleship

            In looking over the obedience and submission to Christ in the Discipleship process, three stages can be seen to emerge.  First this type of relationship is sacrificial, second it is relational, finally it is transformational.[13]  Each stage helps to develop the disciple into a new being over and over again.  This process does not stop until fully complete in joining with Christ in Heaven.  Thus, this will be a lifelong mission that the disciple has been called into and given the power to accomplish by Christ.

First looking at the sacrificial aspect of the discipleship process. This goes back to the initial decision to follow Christ.  The disciple needs to take an account of what they are going to give up in order to follow Christ.[14]  Are they willing to sacrifice family, friends, possessions, career and their life in the service to Christ?  This is a recognition that they are no longer in charge of their lives.  Christ is the head and they are following Him in every aspect of their lives.[15]  However in this process they are not alone as Christ tells them he will always be with them; “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”[16]  There is a comfort and a cost in surrendering to Christ sacrificially, one however is a calling that all must attain to as a disciple.[17]

Second principle is one of relationship.  As previously mentioned, disciples are not alone in the discipleship process.  There must be a love for God, neighbor and other disciples.[18]  This is not something that a person should or can go at alone.  There is an important element in focusing on relationship, it is an example of love.  Through relationship a follower finds their gifts that God has equipped them with.[19] It also takes effort to have relationship, causing growth and a show of love when interacting with those around them.  This is where they can find their mission in Christ in caring for those He has called them to serve.[20]  In this mission they get to reach out to others and share with them what they have found in Christ.[21]  This is where the faith meets action and begin to fulfill the great commission that Christ calls all disciples to.

Finally, discipleship is transformational.  As all are made a new creation at conversion in recognition of Christ as the savior, disciples are changed over a lifetime as He works within them.  Disciples should understand that spiritual growth is something that allows them to become more Christ like in each moment in word, thought, attitude and action.[22]  Forming spiritual disciplines help to connect them further to God and through this connection Christ is growing them more in maturity as a disciple.[23]  An important aspect of the transformational process is that it generates a more Christ like person, as this person is changed internally so will how they see and interact with the world.[24]  This helps to bring them closer not only to Christ over a lifetime, but drive them more to desiring and performing His mission.[25]  This process essentially is coming under Christs authority and allowing Him to change them into a new creation in Christ’s image.[26]

All three principles tie together to bring a holistic view of discipleship.  There is the sacrificing of one’s self to Christs authority and mission.  Then a relational aspect that helps to connect them with the Savior allowing Him to empower and grow them for the greater mission.  Finally, the transformation of the disciple themselves as Christ creates them into a new being that will then go out and love the world as Christ does.  Christ is the reason for all aspects of Discipleship, it is by His love that He instructs, changes and empowers disciples to be on mission in changing the world.


Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, Geffrey B. Kelly, and John D. Godsey. Discipleship. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003.

Earley, Dave, and Rod Dempsey. Disciple making is–: how to live the great commission with passion and confidence. Nashville, TN: B & H Avademic, 2013.

Linnane, Brian F. “Dying with Christ: Rahner’s Ethics of Discipleship.” The Journal of Religion 81, no. 2 (2001): 228-48. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1205541.

Merida, Tony. The Christ-Centered Expositor: A Field Guide for Word-Driven Disciple Makers. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2016. Accessed February 4, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Putman, Jim, Bobby Harrington, and Robert Emerson Coleman. DiscipleShift five steps that help your church to make disciples who make disciples. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.

Putman, Jim, Bobby Harrington, and Robert Emerson Coleman. DiscipleShift five steps that help your church to make disciples who make disciples. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.

[1] Brian F. Linnane, “Dying with Christ: Rahners Ethics of Discipleship,” The Journal of Religion 81, no. 2 (2001): , doi:10.1086/490821. 236.

[2] Ibid

[3] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Geffrey B. Kelly, and John D. Godsey, Discipleship (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003) 202.

[4] Ibid

[5] Jim Putman, Bobby Harrington, and Robert Emerson Coleman, DiscipleShift five steps that help your church to make disciples who make disciples (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013) 46-51.

[6] Ibid 48

[7] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple making is–: how to live the great commission with passion and confidence (Nashville, TN: B & H Avademic, 2013) 25.

[8] Tony Merida, The Christ-centered expositor: a field guide for word-driven disciple makers (Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2016) 36.

[9] Early, et. al, 22

[10] Ibid 23

[11] Ibid 24-25

[12] Ibid

[13] Ibid 26-27

[14] Ibid 26

[15] Putman, et. al, 46

[16] Mathew 28:20 ESV. Unless otherwise noted all Biblical passages are in the English Standard Verson.

[17] Early, et. al,  27

[18] Ibid

[19] Ibid

[20] Putman, et. al, 50

[21] Ibid

[22] Early, et. al,  27

[23] Ibid

[24] Ibid 28

[25] Ibid

[26] Putman, et. al, 48

Living in God’s love, not my own control

Hello all you happy people!

The past year has been an interesting mix of feelings for me.  It was a calm year yet one of busyness and distraction.  In the past five years there is an expectation to have something major just happen in our lives.  I think this has put me on alert most of the time and in light of this, I had a year trying to figure out what life is really all about.

To recap I am a father of five loud, rambunctious, creative, inquisitive, at times strange, awesome kids.  I know every parent would say that their kids are great, I do and I will!  This however puts me at odds with myself when I am looking for time of reflection, prayer and peace in a time of life when that feeling is truly rare.

This feeling of being at odds has caused internal reflection as well as external.  I have changed as a man, husband and father over the past year.  This is to be expected as we all are constantly changing, for better or at times for worse.  These up and downs help to carve us as individuals, but also help us see where we fit in the larger picture as well.

It is this last point I feel I have struggled with over the past year the most, where do I fit now?  I was a Coast Guardsman, I am a husband, I am a father, I am a Christ follower, I am……. This is what keeps me in constant quandary, but I have found this is not a bad place to be as I have been feeling.  This is a time that I can focus, renew and enjoy the moment that I am in presently.

I have got too caught up in what I want the world to be, rather than enjoy the world that I currently am a part of.  God is showing me that I don’t need to change what’s going on around me, but change what is within me.  This is easy to say, hard to do.

Hard in the sense it takes effort to take stock of who I am, and where I am.  Bringing those two together can be equally as hard as I put expectations on what I want to be, not thinking about who I have become presently.  God has a plan, God is in control, so I need to take my hand of the darn wheel and let Him do the darn driving.

I constantly talk about how we as a culture have control issues when I talk to other men about growing in Christ.  In reality, I have put up a good facade and fooled myself in the process.  I am one that needs to feel that I have it together, thus I try and hold it together.  This encompasses the peace in the house hold, peace in the workplace and peace in all that is surrounding me.

I allow the news, coworkers, children, my lovely wife, strangers to mold and shape me because I want to make sure I am who they need me to be at every moment.  Rather than relying on the God who made me who I am, I am trying to be something I am truly not to everyone around me.  Then I get to the point of questioning, what and who am I really?  When the pillars that I have lifted myself up onto fall, there is nothing that is supporting the falseness I have created.

These are the crazy things I let take over my life.  Rather I should turn to God, because I know I should.  Funny thing in these times I realize more and more, God is meeting in the craziness I have created around me.  He is cutting through the falseness and wanting to show me who I am in Him.  This is a hard lesson I learn over and over, but oh what a great God I serve in that He is constantly there to serve me in love.

I have had a bumper sticker on my car now for a while that states God Is Love.  At first, I put this on my car hoping to spread the message to the world, unfortunately I started to live my life like a bumper sticker.  It became a mantra more than a reality.  God is truly love, but He is not a bumper sticker.  I am learning to live in His love rather than just wearing it for others to see why they need Him and how great I am because of God.

I am nothing apart from God, He is the one who is great.  He is the one who I draw my identity.  He is the one who brings peace and meaning to my life.  This is my focus, not just over the next year, but for eternity.  Continually shaping my mind doesn’t work, God shaping my whole being does.

I hope that this next year brings you God’s awesome love and peace.

-Mr. Pentafied


Reflection, Love

In life we get very busy with work, family events and on and on the list goes.  I have found recently that taking the time to sit and just reflect on what God has given me helps to keep life in perspective.  I am a person to get bogged down in the details and over sensitive to the minor details.  There is a grander picture going on, and taking the time to poke our heads up to catch a view of it helps to keep us grounded.

I am getting ready to go into the final semester of Graduate school and feel like I have been running an unending race.  To say the least I feel tired.  In reality I have allowed myself to get trapped by work, family and school when I should have been focused on the moments going on around me.  I have been present, but not engaged with my surroundings.

It is important to not just be physically around, but mentally and emotionally as well for those in our lives.  The problem is we live in a world that, if we allow it too, zaps us of all our energies before we can even give our best to those we love.  Putting healthy barriers in place has been something I have been learning lately.  Not letting issues spin me like a top is a big one.  I will get caught up and stay there when it comes to issues as small as some one I perceive giving me a foul look.  In reality they were not at engaged in foulness, but as I have found were probably just concentrating on something else.

There are other issues that are bigger than all of us I feel that we all get scooped up in and then disappointed when we can’t affect change quickly.  I use to be very involved in keeping up on politics.  I have served my country, feel I am a red blooded American and didn’t like the idea of people running the country doing stupid things.  This I found was a trap, one that distracted me from the real issues that were affecting me, ones that I could have some semblance of power to change, then move on with my life.  This also continually distracted me and caused rifts between me and my family.  An issue such as politics should never come between two people, its an ideal and like opinions, we all have different ones.

Learning to overcome our differences and just moving on so we can grow, build and create a world full of new and exciting things is what we should be aiming for.  One that is focused on loving the person next to you, even though they may be strung out half dead on the street.  Understanding one another, even though you perceive them as against you.  Finally we just need to get over ourselves.  I find I take myself way to seriously, and I seriously just need to enjoy the life I have and the gifts I have been given.

So in closing, yes I have been reflecting lately on where I am at, who I am and where I want to be.  This has helped to put into perspective that I have a wonderful wife, awesome kids, though they can drive me up the wall, and that I am blessed to be in a position that I dont have to worry about my and my families physical needs.  Life is too short to care about who I am in light of my work identity, my political identity and so on.  I want to just be me and who God has made me to be.  All the rest is just a distraction.  Above all else I choose love and realizing that I have the ability to share that love in all the moments of my life no matter where I am at.

Lets love those around us today!


What am I doing any way?

In the past week I have been trying to figure out what I am doing, how I’m doing it, and how I need to do it better.  I think this is something that every parent goes through at times;

“What am I doing, and why the heck did I choose to do this?!”

We all love our kids and want the best we can give them.  However, there are moments we realize why lions sometimes eat there young.  This however is not all that practical, ethical, or legal in most states. Nor would I want any part of there bodies in my mouth. I know what those hands and feet have been doing, and where they have been doing it.  Don’t think there is enough sanitizing solution for half the things they have gotten into.

This brings me to my prior skills assessment as a parent.  Currently I need to be a psychologist, medic, referee, and occasional cook to survive with my children on a daily basis.  Not to mention that I am only with them for a few hours a day.  Hats off to my wife who is not driven to the mad house by the end of each week.  We dearly love our little darlings, they just do the darnedest things.

As an example, we are currently under siege of he said-she said, daily nudist spotting’s, and the constant arguing and screaming for the various injustices that are happening play by play thanks to my oldest continual field reports.  I love my children, I love my children……

Have you ever been drawn to this thin conclusion, WHEN WILL IT STOP!!!!!!!!!

If so, believe me, you are not alone.  We are there with you.  Take solace in this fact, you parental units are not alone in this sacred battle.  It is the battle though that is worth fighting for not only our selves, but our children.

To move from battle field to greener pastures, we need to understand that we are not fighting our children, but helping to shape them into there future selves.  It is worth the strains, complains and frustrations.  I just dont feel like it in the moment.

I have taken this inward journey figure out what is going on with not just myself, but how I affect my kids.  It is this journey that has revealed both my shortcomings, as well as what I desire out of this time with my kids while they are still at home.  I dont want to end up at the end of the race tired, defeated and in last place.

What does it take to do this however?

Glad you asked.  It takes a butt load of patients, a plan, and a lot of prayer.  I find that when I am doing all three, the result is much more pleasant than just going at things blindly.

For me, I love a good plan.  I love it even more when a good plan comes together in the end for a successful result.  As a father of five, I feel I need to be at least a mile ahead of the kidlets to be able to stay out of the rough waters.  I do this by noticing who my kids are, what makes them tick, and how do my interactions affect them.

I put out this disclaimer before going any further, I am not the Dad of the Year by any means.  I have yelled, mis-blamed, over reacted, mis-caltulated outcomes and generally dont follow my own advice a good majority of the time.  It is through this though that I feel I have learned much, and wish to try and impart some semblance of what I am doing to make things better.

I notice mostly that my mood can set the mood of the moment.  This is important, mood of the moment, because if we are living in the moment, we keep living in forward momentum.  By this logic, if you can call it that, the momentum can allow for a change in the moments mood.  This gives both hope, and insight for making a better mood at a later moment.

Boiling this down, you know your kids triggers right?  If not, take some time and study what setts off there different emotions.  You can use this as leverage to change the overall outcome of how and why they behave.  I’m not talking about manipulating your children, more manipulating there surroundings to help foster a better mood over all.

This takes time, patients and effort.  In essence, being intentional in understanding your kids.  Im here to tell you, I am still a work in progress myself.  What I can pass on is that when I pickup on when my kids moods start to shift, I take a survey of my surroundings.  What is going on with me, my kids and those around us.  If I can quickly pick up on something I am doing, I try to adjust and help my kids return to there more normal state.  This can be one of the hardest parts, knowing what kind of parent to be for your individual child.

Some may only have one kid, myself I have the five, and others I know have upwards of ten children.  How can you be a different dad to ten different kids.  Not sure, I only have the five.  Even so, I am learning as I go.  This has been rewarding as I feel I can relate better with each different child because I have better insight to how each kids operates.  I find I have better enjoyment with each child as well when I take the time to understand them as an individual.

Still patience takes a strong place in dealing with children.  There are times, more often than not, that I just throw my hands up because I have no idea why Sally hit Timmy and why Johnny is happy about it, (Names changed to protect the guilty).  It is during times such as these that I just have to remember to breath, hug my kids and tell them to move on.  Then try to move on myself.  Sometimes as the parent, we try to micro-manage every situation and over analyze till we are so stressed out we start wonder, “what Johnny really would taste like with a little stake sauce?”  Sometimes we just have to let it go, pending any real serious bodily or emotional damage.

Lastly prayer is of utmost importance.  I find that if I am not turning to God for help, Lord help the children.  I am in a much better state of mind when I give up to God my problems and let Him figure it out for me.  I am not abdicating my responsibilities, but embracing the fact that I dont have all the answers and need help to find them.  God really does come through, but at times and in ways I and the children will least expect it.

I think as parents we also have the wrong idea of what a perfect family looks like.  There is not chance on God’s green earth that we are ever going to have that blissful dream family where nothing goes wrong.  Personally it sounds a little boring and mundane.  I will take the poop on the ceiling, the constant screaming, the unbearable messiness and overall crazy house if it means I get to be apart of my child’s life, and them apart of mine.  If I wanted perfect, a goldfish would have been a better option.

I like the unpredictability of being a father.  It helps keep me in check as well.  I have learned to never take myself seriously, get over my own issues, put others first and generally learn how to have fun.

I’m still a work in progress. I’m sure by the time the last child leaves the house God will have my rough edges mostly rounded out.  I hope by then I will watch my kids go out into the world knowing I gave it my best, and God filled in the rest.

Till next time,

Stay sane out there.



Prayer Cycle: Col 1:9-14

So in my spare time as a father of five and working full time, I manage to squeeze in some time for a Masters Degree program.  I have just started and really enjoying diving deep into God’s word and finding understanding that brings a closer connection to Christ.  It has been hard this past few weeks trying to not treat the Bible as a reference source only.  I didn’t think it would be this hard, but at times it did feel rather dry trying to research for a paper covering Collossians 1:9-14.

To tell the truth I felt more stressed than ever trying to read and understand God’s word.  It was one day in my studies that the heart of this passage hit me though.  When we pray to God we are praying for understanding as well.  Through what we read in the Bible, God reveals to us through prayer and supplication, on how it shapes and affects life as a Christ follower.  This concept was not foreign to me per se, but it was a fresh revealing of the need to search after God’s understanding, and not my own.

Through understanding God’s word we then bear good fruit out of our lives.  This cycle then feeds back into itself to start again: Read, Pray, Live out and repeat. Christ is continually redeeming us through this process and it draws us ever close to Him.

If you are up for it, below is my paper on the passage, enjoy.


Paul’s letter to the church of Colossae was written after hearing accounts of their status and growth.  These accounts lead Paul to address Colossae about the supremacy of Christ and what that looks like lived out. It is the scope of this paper to focus on how Paul, in Chapter 1 verses 9-14, presents the heart and focus, shaping the rest of his letter. This passage shows that prayer reveals knowledge of God and through that understanding changes how followers should live. This concept is not static but cyclical and creates a system of understanding that feeds into itself to form a life more perfectly lived.

Letter to Colossae

Context of the letter

This letter to the Church of Colossae was written around 62 A.D.[1] This letter focused on key elements to help the followers focus on helping believers to grow deeper and broader in their faith.  There is some discrepancy as to the exact reason behind the issues that were surrounding this early church.  Despite this there is a common theme to return and focus on the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ.  This leads to the belief that there were extra biblical teachings being spread in this body of early followers.[2] Although the reasons for the letter were written in the time of the early Church, the message is still applicable today and serves as a lesson and warning to stay focused on Christ’s message and to continually grow in Him.

It has been discussed by many scholars that Paul was imprisoned at the time of the letters writing, though there are disagreements of exactly where.[3] There are several implications that come from this that help to give a clearer understanding of the heart of the writings.   Despite the issue of where Paul was in chains the voice of the letter comes out as one praising Christ and His supremacy.  Paul is lifting up praises out of his current situation to not only give God glory over any circumstance, but also as an example to encourage others.[4] If it was not for this bondage, the main themes of prayer, Christ’s sufficiency and how better understanding brings a deeper relationship with Christ may not be seen as genuine to those who are suffering.  Paul is physically bound and without any way to reach others physically, but through this letter he is able to build Christ’s body beyond any obstacle.  It is by this, Paul is given authority to speak on Christ’s sufficiency and spread the message of how that looks lived out.  Out of suffering and bondage Paul gives the example of how knowing Christ brings peace even in the harshest circumstances.

Addressing the needs of the church of Colossae is just as important as the circumstances under which the letter was written.  This letter was written in response to reports Paul was receiving regarding what was happening in the church of Colossae.[5]  The exact circumstances that caused the writing of the letter have been disputed, but overall there were teachings and practices being performed to that were focusing on manmade spirituality.[6]  The main concerns that were addressed follow throughout Paul’s writing, supremacy of Christ, sufficiency of Christ, growing in Christ and what a life lived for Christ looks like in action, not an action given beforehand to reach Christ.  By addressing these topics Paul is able to overcome the false teachers and their teachings that express a need to enhance a Christian’s life, leaving the work of salvation to the believer rather than Christ.

Meaning of the Letter

The meaning of Colossians 1:9-14 is found in the initial addressing in the first two verses.  Verse nine states he was praying for the Colossians to be “filled with the knowledge of his will in spiritual wisdom and understanding.” [7]  Then in verse 10 Paul was expressing that in all things he desired for the followers in Colossae to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:10 ESV).  These two verses complement each other by expressing what he unfolds in the following verses.  Paul’s desire was for the Colossians to be knowledgeable and then use that knowledge to walk in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.  This knowledge does not come out of mans understanding but through understanding of what God is teaching, then through application we display that understanding.[8] This process that Paul writes about in these two verses is one that is continual and reciprocating, the more knowledge gained through understanding the more closely a life is lived to God’s will.

Verse 11 continues the above message, changing however from how the Colossians should live to how they are to live it out with the help of God.  Paul states “may you be strengthened with all power” (Col. 1:11 ESV), showing that not only does the reader need God’s understanding but they need His power to live it out.[9]  This is extremely important as Paul is identifying that while we are to study and try to live out what we are learning, without God’s help it will never happen.  The life lived by learning apart from God’s living power is dry and disconnected from how it was designed to be.

The following verses, 12-14, frame up the importance for thanksgiving to God and the all sufficiency of His Son, Jesus.  In verse 12 Paul discusses the inheritance that as followers of Christ, we have in God.  What once was reserved for people of Jewish heritage is now common among all peoples who believe in Christ.[10]  This belief and life in Christ draws us out of what is referred to as the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light in verse 13.  The importance of both verse 12 and 13 is that not only are we all now God’s people, but we are saved together and together we are to give thanks back to God for our common salvation.[11]

Finally, in the end of verse 13 and verse 14 we see the focus on the supremacy of Christ.  Verse 13 says “we are transferred to the kingdom of His Beloved Son,” and in 14, “in whom we have redemption” (Colossians 1:13-14, ESV).  These two verses bring into focus the reason why we have salvation and the reason we should be offering up thanksgiving to God.  This knowledge is the ultimate knowledge that feeds into itself in continual growth as well.  The more that is understood about salvation, the closer a Christ-like life is lived out, finally lifting in praise to God for His redeeming followers through Christ.[12]

Significance of the Letter

Paul’s letter to the Colossians has great significance to not only the Church he was addressing then, but across time to the present as well.  Never has there been a time when false teachers weren’t present, or extra-biblical ideas weren’t prevalent.  Since the times of the early Church, Colossae being no exception, a continual reminder is needed to help focus followers on the true meaning behind following Christ.  It was not so much that the Colossians were grossly out of sync with what Christ taught, but that they needed some loving reminder of what it means to follow Christ, and what that looks like.

From verse 9 through 14 we see a deep heart for the Colossians.  Paul is praying for them through the entirety of this passage. He wanted them to know his heart and why he was addressing them.  Paul was expressing for understanding for the Colossians and that the Spirit would modify their wisdom and understanding.  This modification is a change of their inner understanding of the knowledge of Christ.[13]  It is out of this inner understanding that the out pouring of God’s love bears fruit in a follower’s life.

Out of understanding a follower is being sanctified more and more.  The more a person prays for understanding, the more understanding takes place, and the more that followers bear spiritual fruit in their lives.[14] This is a continual process again that feeds back providing growth and sanctification through a follower’s whole life.  This is the significance and heart of Paul’s letter, that focusing on God’s word through prayer brings understanding that will shape and change their lives continually.  This idea is made plain by Matthew Henry in his commentary on this passage, “All who are ready for heaven, are prepared for heaven now.”[15] Followers must be living out their understanding and showing, through the fruit in their lives, what they truly believe.

In the last half, verses 12-14, Paul discusses the supremacy of Christ and His sufficiency.  The only reason followers are made sufficient in God’s eyes is because of Christ’s sacrifice.  Without this all mankind would only qualify for God’s wrath, rather than the salvation that all have in Christ.[16] Christ saved all of humanity and we should see it as a favor that we were taken from Satan’s kingdom of darkness and adopted into Christ’s kingdom of light.[17]  It is this last point that brings us back to the first point of Paul asking the followers in Colossae to be giving thanks to God.  Without His great plan, none would be able to be saved.

Application of the letter

Through this essay, the idea of sanctification through the circular practice of praying for understanding of God’s word, bringing forth knowledge of God that in turn bears fruit in a follower’s life.  As a person grows and keeps following this principle they are continually sanctified in Christ.  Putting this into practice should not be a great burden but a natural outpouring of a believer’s faith.

Being fruitful will however allow a follower to see the active growth they are both partaking in as well as desiring.  Being steadfast in the knowledge of God’s will, will take hold of them.  This does take effort and requires a believer to bear their cross for a lifetime.[18]  The principle is simple but takes discipline and continual prayer focusing on God.  This is not a prayer that is one time and at length, but steady and over time.  This is what continual sanctification means, a process that followers take part in for the entirety of their time in this life.

Putting this to action Paul lines out what to do throughout verses 9-14.  First Paul calls to followers to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,” living a life that is for God, not against.  Developing an understanding by Prayer and study of God’s word. Finally giving thanks to God and focusing on what He has done for us.  Paul give a great example in how he joyously gives thanks for the blessing in eternal life, inheritance, with all saints.[19] There are no boundaries in who follows Christ, but be strengthened by the knowledge that believers live in a community.


In the end as a follower practices what Paul explains in verses 9-14, understanding of God should be continually feeding into a follower’s life producing Christ like attributes.  This is the heart of what Paul is trying to express in this passage.  Seeking knowledge of God in prayer and supplication for His power to help in bringing forth that understanding.  This is a two-step process that requires both halves to function properly.  There can be great knowledge of God’s word but little to no understanding of what that means if a person is not seeking His power to help them gain wisdom.  Just as important to growing in understanding is offering up thanksgiving to God for revealing His knowledge and saving His followers from the kingdom of Satan.

Paul is addressing the idea that God’s word and God’s spirit are needed to bring forth a complete understanding.  As John Calvin stated:

“the Gospel is the only message that is accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit to convert the sinful individual and make him or her capable of pleasing God”[20]

This idea that one cannot happen without the other is what upholds the thesis of this paper in that a believer grows through a process that feeds back into itself.  Through this a follower continually grows through understanding only brought on by God’s power, resulting in good fruit coming out of that understanding.  By this then we also see that not only are we partaking in this process, but God interjected Himself into our lives to give us the strength to do so.


[1] The Holy Bible English Standard Version: the ESV study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2290.

[2] Ibid

[3] Christopher R. Sietz, Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible: Colossians. (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos 2014), 29.

[4] Christopher R. Sietz, Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible: Colossians. (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos 2014), 31.

[5] 8.essedrove, US: IVP Academi Lucas, R. C. The Bible Speaks Today Series: The Message of Colossians & Philemon. (Downers Grove, US: IVP Academic.) 8. 8.essedrove, US: IVP Academi

[6] The Holy Bible English Standard Version: the ESV study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2290.

[7] The Holy Bible English Standard Version: the ESV study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2294.

[8] Heil, John Paul. 2010. Colossians: Encouragement to Walk in All Wisdom As Holy Ones in Christ. (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2010), 56.

[9] Ibid.

[10] The Holy Bible English Standard Version: the ESV study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2294.

[11] Heil, John Paul. 2010. Colossians: Encouragement to Walk in All Wisdom As Holy Ones in Christ. (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2010), 58.

[12] Lucas, R. C. The Bible Speaks Today Series: The Message of Colossians & Philemon. (Downers Grove, US: IVP Academic.) 15.

[13] MacArthur, John.  The MacArthur Bible commentary: unleashing God’s truth, one verse at a time. (Nashville, TN: 2005) 1732.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Henry, Matthew.  Matthew Henry’s concise commentary on the whole Bible. (Nashville, TN: 1997) Kindle.

[16] Ibid MacArthur, John.

[17] Henry, Matthew.  Matthew Henry’s concise commentary on the whole Bible. (Nashville, TN: 1997) Kindle.

[18] Melanchthon, Philipp. Bloomsbury Academic Collections: Biblical Studies: Paul’s letter to the Colossians.  (London: GB, 2015) 35.

[19] Rydelnik, Michael and Michael G Vanlaningham.  The Moody Bible Commentary. (Chicago, IL: 2014) Kindle.

[20] Thornton, Dilion T. “Colossians 1:1-14 .” The Expository Times 124, no. 9 (May 15, 2013): 438.


Loss of an old friend

Its been a while since I have posted.  Much in life has changed since my last posting.  There have been many adventures, lots of memories and a loss along the way.  It is to my dismay that I write this somber dedication to an old friend who passed this week.  He was at the beginning of our little family and saw it through its exponential growth.  To my dearest furry pal, Carl you were well loved and are greatly missed.

When you get the experience to share life with a four legged friend, you know life at its best.  Carl came into my wife’s and I lives shortly after we were married.  I was in the military and our first unit was in Kodiak Alaska.  Being an adventurous couple we decided that to start our little family off on our new island adventure, we needed a pal to hang out with.  We were on a waiting list for the local animal shelter for a batch of puppies that were being flown in from another island off Kodiak.

Carl showed up in normal fashion, right when we least expected.  We had big plans of picking out our pooch together.  Unfortunately life has its unexpected moments, Carl was no different.  As the movers were unloading our belonging into our small condo like housing, we got a call to come and pick out our fur baby.  I sent my wife along with strict orders to pick out a good one.

It was love at first snooze with Carl.  My wife picked him up, from what was left after everyone else, and immediately fell asleep in her arms.  It was over from the beginning.  I remember him coming home, a very cute puppy.  Little did we know what this little black lab would turn into later, and how much he would impact lives beyond our family.

Some memorable puppy tales come in destructive memories.  Carl was a force to be reckoned with from the moment he came home.  Cute he was, but after a couple weeks of loud whining and barking, our little pup finally settled in.  Little did we know that we adopted a Houdini dog.  Carl was an expert in being released from any confinement.

He started out in our little spare bathroom by climbing over any and all baby gate barricades I could erect.  It was not long after that I had the bright idea to put Carl in the basement under the stairs.  I was able to cage in the area and finally have a home for Carl when we were away at work.  He would be warm, dry and comfy until we came home.  Or so we thought.  There were many a day I would return to a destroyed fenced in wall and a puppy happily wagging his tail for me when I came in the house.

One of the oddest moments from the basement came in the form of a poop that was almost larger than the pup who produced it.  I still swear to this day that a bear broke into our house just to poop in the basement and then leave.  It was truly amazing, but then again Carl was just getting warmed up.  It wasn’t till we moved out of our first home that i realized that carl had put numerous holes in the drywall where his bed was.  Never did hear back from housing about my horrible patch work.  Not the only hole in that house I had to patch up from him.

Aside from the destruction from being confined, Carl was an expert in devouring all things non-food related.  He literally ate an entire beach towel once.  I was finding poop shaped fabric in the back yard for days.  In other amazing feats he ate part of a comforter and the side of a couch to show his discontent with Annie returning to work after being sick for a few days at home.

Carl was always a people dog, any one who came in the door he immediately leapt into there arms and licked them clean.  It wasn’t until he was much older did he stop doing this, mainly due to age and his later rotund size.  He never did like the backyard much, only to do his business then return quickly for attention from his people.  If he was not let in immediately he made sure the whole neighborhood heard his displeasure with us.

When we did start our little no furry type family Carl was there to love on our babies like they were his own.  He loved to sniff and lick our babies as they grew up.  He was one of the gang no matter what, and no matter if he wanted to or not.  Carl was the most patient and gentle dog I have ever met.  No matter the pouncing, poking, biting or other abuse our children put him through, he was just happy to be loved on.  Loved he was by all.

Another benefit to children was the delectable delights that they left behind for him, both food and non.  Carl grew in his years with us, topping out around 110lbs at one point.  He was the typical fat and lazyish lab in the end.  He came by it honestly that last few years.  Our kids love to feed him extra portions from the dinner table as well as his own food.  He was never lacking for a meal in our house.  Unfortunately his appetite was never satisfied and he had a knack for the trash can.  Many a diaper, particularly the fully loaded type, disappeared and they came back out in the back yard.  Never said he had a sensitive pallet.

Several times we have had to take Carl into the doctor to get the contents of his stomach evacuated.  One particular moment he ate a number of feminine hygiene products and they swelled up in his stomach.  When we took him in the nurses would not allow the doctor to see what had happened, but invited my wife back for a viewing.  They said it was like nothing they had ever seen come out of a dog.  That’s our Carl, go big or go home.

In the end his extra apatite was his undoing.  Carl found his last meal as a diaper that was to good to pass up.  We knew something was wrong after three days of him not eating and puking up only water all over.  I took him in and the doc gave us the grave news.  It had lodged in his stomach and there was nothing to do for it except a very expensive surgery.  I knew something was up when I took him in and just felt that this was going to be our last few moments together, unfortunately my feeling was correct.

The decision was not one that was easy or light.  Carl had been for a year or so having hip troubles and had large nodules developing under his skin.  He was going to turn 11 this year as was turning grey all over.  While he could have possible survived the recovery of the surgery, his quality of life had been in decline for some time.  We had to make the difficult decision to have him put to sleep.  The doctor tried all that he could, but it was to no avail in the end.

The next day the doctor came over to our house and together was loved on carl one last time and then set him free from his pain.  I had been shaken after the initial news, but watching him pass was one of the most shaking things I have gone through in life.  I was watching a best friend die in front of me.  I could hear my wife behind me trying hard to hold it together, but I was not able to for long either.  It was over quickly and Carl was gone.  His body relaxed and I could tell he was no longer in pain in any form.  The doc and I moved carl to the garage and after he left I couldn’t hold it in any longer.  I buried my face in that old scruf of Carl and wept for a long time.  I felt so much that I couldn’t just keep it in any more.  I had lost pets before, but this one was different, this one was a furry sole mate.  One I will be forever grateful for knowing.

It is interesting how I know reflect on that day and the years I had with Carl.  I am currently reading the book Stay.  It is about another labs life and how the owners loved and lost there beloved dog.  It is written however from how much they learned about Gods love through that dog.  I have had the same reflections after loosing Carl.  He was a being that loved no matter what, and at all times.  Carl lived for the moment, every moment.  Carl even had a sense of when things in life were not good and was there to lend a therapeutic ear for scratching.  That dog and I had many therapy sessions over the past almost 11 years.

He wasn’t much for training, but taught us all many a lesson in life.  He didn’t do to well at fetch, but caught our hearts and never let go.  He wasn’t the greatest guard dog either, but knew how to save us when we needed it.  Carl was more than a dog; he was one of our family.

Carl buddy, you will be missed.  I loved you so much and am forever grateful for what you showed me and loved me in this life.  God knew what he was doing when he put you in our lives.  Rest peacefully and go chase after some squirrels in heaven.

Love you Carl,

Your human