15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,[e] 16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. 17 He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. 18 Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead.[f] So he is first in everything. 19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, 20 and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
The Gospel According to Joe: Rules of Engagement
Joe's Fourth Epistle
Today's update brought to you by Tullian Tchividijan's book Do I Know God?
November 24, 2014
A few years ago, I took my family on a work trip to
Gulfport, Mississippi. [I was] working for my friends at Hartson-Kennedy and, specifically,
my very good friend Edmund and his team. I absolutely love the South and became
quite fond of the Biloxi-Gulfport area. The people are delightful, and the
seafood is amazing (Mary Mahoney’s, Half Shells, Cap’n Al’s, Shoo Fly Inn, Back
Bay, Beau Rivage, Aunt Jenny’s, with my friend Glenn, and last, but not least,
Saki, with Bruce and my dear departed friend Doug).
While there, we stayed in a beautiful condo across
from the beach and were able to take in a few of the sights over the weekend. On
the way to work, I would pass over the Tchoutacabouffa River. I never learned
how to pronounce [the name] despite my several attempts with Edmund. I even
have it recorded on my iPhone. As many of you know, I like to have fun and make
challenging games. True to form, with the family in tow, I told them that we
would soon be approaching a river and there would be a sign of its spelling. If
anyone of them could pronounce it correctly, I would present them with $100. But
they only got one shot. Oh my! Allie, who is now 18, was so close they said I
lost all color from my face. Do you know how to pronounce it?
Today is Day Four, post first-chemo treatment. For the
next 25 Wednesdays, I will be going through chemo. I am praising God that the
side effects have been minimal so far. But more than that, I am praising God
because He has given me a vision and purpose to use my cancer and redeem my
These past three weeks, I have gone from deep anguish,
where my fervent prayer has been, “Lord, take me home now,” to “Lord, use me up for Your Glory until it pleases You to
take me home.” Specifically, I am praying for the miracle that He spare me of all the typical side effects of chemo so
that He can accomplish these things through me. (Certainly, I see the selfish
side of this petition and I am praying that this is not my feeble attempt to
negotiate my selfish desires with God).
Here is the vision and purpose He has given me:
First, to become the spiritual leader in my home to my
wife and children that I have neglected for, oh, so long, making Him the center
of our home every day. Second, to share my testimony of my great hope in the
Gospel of my Lord Jesus Christ to my extended family, friends, church body and
all those to whom He has put in my path every day possible. Last, for the
strength, energy and clarity of mind to accomplish these purposes.
I think of Paul, when he said in Philippians 1:21, “For
me, to live is Christ and to die is gain”. While I don’t fully understand this,
God is revealing more of His truths to me each day. This miracle of clarity of
Scripture and a deeper understanding of the attributes of God is a direct
result of my current condition and, as I again told my family, I thank God every
day for this lousy bone marrow cancer!
So, my praying friends, please join me in my fervent
prayer to accomplish what He has given me until He takes me home.
My mind is random today, so I am sure my writing is,
as well. So back to the top. Many of you have asked and offered to let you know
if there is anything you could do to help me and my family. And as I have
reported to you, the Church and God’s people have come to our aid on so many
occasions and we are left not needing. Thank you, dear friends!
But today, I am excited, as I have discovered there is
something that you could do for me. I would like to invite you into a
discussion centered on a book that I am going to read. Reading for some reason
is very difficult for me these days and I am only able to read in short spurts.
My plan is to read a chapter a week and then engage in conversations around
that chapter for another week. So, a chapter, 12-18 pages every two weeks with
discussion. Eleven chapters. The way I figure, that will get me to the end of
my chemo treatments and will give me many hours of rich conversations with my
friends and family while I am battling this cancer with sleepless nights and 20-plus
hours flat on my back. One of the most amazing things I have discovered during
this cancer is that I detest TV. I am only able to tolerate an hour a day and
that is only if I’m watching with my whole family and a show like Dick Van Dyke
or Carol Brunette. The shows I used to love and could watch endlessly nauseate
me. As a result, I have what seems to be an endless number of hours to fill
each day. And what better way to spend then with you!
The way I see this working is for me to present some
questions, thoughts, ideas to you out of the book and if you are moved to
engage then you can do so individually via email. Talking is still a problem
for me, so email and texts are it. I have always been a man of action with set
goals and a purpose. This will help me immensely as I seek to redeem the time I
have left. Certainly, I understand busy schedules and life getting in the way
and you have much grace to not engage me in this invitation. For those who
choose, well then, let’s get started!
The book is Do I
Know God by Tullian Tchividijan. Tullian is the grandson of Billy Graham.
1. You need to buy a copy. I bought one from Amazon
2. Email me that you are in! [Leave a “Comment” that includes your email
address, and I, Sharon Kirk Clifton, will call it to Joe’s attention.]
3. Read the first chapter.
4. We will engage in conversation.
5. Consider inviting others to read with us. Wouldn’t
it be fun to have hundreds of people involved? Although the reality is that I
will be pleased with just one that is faithful.
If you have already read it, read it again with me! I
appreciate authenticity, vulnerability, transparency, and sincerity. What I
don’t value is insincerity and doing this with me out of guilt, pity, or duty. If
you commit, then please see it through with me. I would rather you not start
than to start and then stop.
You may think that you don’t need to read this. You
may think you already have this question answered. You may think I have a
hidden agenda. You may think--? Here’s the deal: it doesn’t really matter. I am
inviting you to go down a journey with me to help you discover the TRUE answer
to “Do I Know God?” And in the process
of discovering that answer, you will be filling one of the purposes God has
given me. How’s that for laying it on you?