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Philippians 2:19-30: Exemplary Service

Posted by Gary Labels: ,

I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may find relief in learning your circumstances. For I have no one like him: he truly cares about your well-being. The rest of them all seek their own concerns, not the concerns of Christ. But you know his credentials, how he served with me as a child with his father for the sake of the Gospel.

So then, I hope to send him as soon as I know my immediate circumstances.

I am confident in the Lord that I, too, shall come soon.

However, I considered it more necessary to send to you Epaphroditus. He is a brother, coworker, and comrade to me; to you he is a messenger and the servant who tends to my needs. I sent him because he was longing for all of you, greatly distressed, because you heard that he had fallen ill. Indeed he had fall fatally ill, but God had mercy on him -- and not only him but me also, lest I have grief upon grief.

So then, I sent him all the more swiftly, so that by seeing him again you may rejoice and I may be relieved. So then, welcome him in the Lord with all joy and treat those like him with high esteem. For it was for the work of Christ that he came near to the point of death, risking his very life, so that he could compensate for what was lacking in your service to me.

___ Translation Notes
1. "find relief." This word in Greek only appears here in the NT. Its meaning is simple enough: to take heart. It means to become encouraged (as opposed to despair). I think "relief" is serviceable, and it's just better English than "that I may be of good cheer."
2. "cares about." In Greek this is the "future tense." The TNIV and NKJV both interpret it as a straightforward future. I think this is not good. The Message and NIV both get it right by translating it as a timeless fact that is a simply a part of Timothy's unchanging character.
3. "your circumstances... your well-being." The same expression in Greek, but this sounds better than using either English phrase twice.
4. "The rest of them all..." Literally just "they all," but I felt it would be good to expand it a bit. It just begs the question "who are 'the rest of them?'" without answering it. The Greek text doesn't answer it, either, so I think that's fair. The other reason I translate this way is so I can get rid of the conjunction "for." Had I just said "they all," that would almost demand a conjunction, I think.
5. "credentials." This is referring to the thing that makes Timothy legit and credible. His credentials are not a piece of paper, but his apparently well-known track record of faithful service.
6. I get the feeling Paul paused after talking about Timothy. Then he learned something about his immediate circumstances, so he knew he could come, too. And then he paused again and changed his mind, sending E-Rod instead.
7. Verses 25-26 are one sentence in Greek, but I had to split them up. Verse 25 is a reintroduction of Epaphroditus, and I think my translation looks awkward here. The Message puts it well: "You sent him to help me, I'm sending him to help you." (I'm paraphrasing The Message there.)
8. "Compensate." To make up for what was lacking. To fulfill what is lacking is to compensate, so I basically took the ESV and made it look like slightly better English. I can't say the ending looks good, but I have no idea how to say it better. As a side note, it's possible to see Paul as condescending here. Well, it's not my job to defend him and say he's not. If you read the rest of the letter carefully, it's clear that if he's being condescending here, it's only in the same sense a teacher expects students to realize they are just students and still need to learn from good examples.

___ Commentary
Paul's hope is in the Lord Jesus. Paul's confidence is in the Lord Jesus. His trust is undoubtedly in Timothy and Epaphroditus, who do a wonderful job as role models of Christlike living. Timothy served with the obedience of a child with his father. Note the word "serve" there. It's the same as the word for servant/slave used of Paul and TImothy in the opening (1:1) and of Jesus in the hymn (2:7). Epaphroditus served even "to the point of death," which parallels Jesus in 2:8.
Through both his words and his specific word choice, Paul links both Timothy and Epaphroditus to Jesus as examples of godly attitude.

Once again, death makes an appearance. This time, death is not viewed as a gain but as a loss. The difference is that death means absence from the land of the living, and Paul and others would miss Epaphroditus if he died. For Paul, to live is Christ. For Epaphroditus, to live is to put one's life on the line (2:30). Sacrifice is the point of life. That's not to say that we should adopt a masochistic view of things, but we must have priorities higher than our own comfort.

The joy that comes from being saved from something you feared would happen is one of the greatest joys there is. Being able to see a friend face-to-face that you heard was dying -- seeing him in perfect health -- is a relief that words can't express. Joy in this book is not always a grimace with pain looking forward. God has not abandoned our present circumstances.

As for v. 30, it's interesting that he's gone this far in the letter and still hasn't outright mentioned the Philippians' monetary contribution. Apparently there was something he needed more than the money. What was lacking? Was it that the Philippians didn't have the right attitude for the Gospel to match their financial contribution? Let's read on and find out.

Philippians 2:12-18: Solidarity, Shame, Sacrifice

Posted by Gary Labels: ,

So then, friends, just as you've always obeyed (not only in my presence but now much more in my absence), work out your salvation with fear and dread. For it is Deity who works in you both the motivation and the ability to do what pleases him. Do everything without grumbling or disputation, so that you may be blameless and guileless -- faultless children amid this twisted and warped generation, among whom you shine like the stars in orbit. Hold on dearly to the Word of Life, so that in the Day of Christ I may boast that I did not run in vain nor labor in vain. But if I am poured out as the sacrifice for your faithful worship service, then I rejoice, I rejoice with all of you. At the same time, you rejoice, rejoice with me.

___ Translation Comments
1. This is the first time agapetoi appears here. This word has been variously rendered "beloved," "dear friends," etc. Honestly, I have no strong argument one way or the other, but I am inclined to think of it as "friend."
2. "Fear and dread." This is the same pair of words used in Genesis 9:2 for the "fear and dread" that falls upon all the beasts who are now in submission to humanity. I'm thinking he's purposefully using those words to refer to Genesis 9:2.
3. "the motivation and the ability." Literally, "Deity is working in you both the to will and the to work." Since the infinitives are being used as nouns (the article substantizes), it's best to translate them as nouns.
4. "Deity." I'm going on a limb here. Paul's point is not identifying specifically that it is the entity known as God who is doing the work. His point is that the worker is divine, and therefore powerful. To be technical, I'm saying that theos is a qualitative noun here rather than definite. It's also emphatic because it's out in front.
5. "Do everything without..." this is tricky to translate. I chose, like most translations, to translate this literally. The problem with this is, it's bad English. Good English would instead say "do nothing with..." However, "do nothing" implies a passivity that this passage won't allow. It just said that God's working in us the ability and motivation [to work], so we can't just "do nothing." If I were to paraphrase Paul here: "Do everything -- and let none of it be done with..."
6. "blameless and guileless -- faultless children..." Guileless is an unusual word, but all three of them in Greek fit the pattern of -less or un-. The goal of this literary translation is to preserve both meaning and poetry. Note also that "blameless and guileless" is one statement, and "faultless children amid this..." is a second thought that expands on the first one. It's difficult to show on paper when someone is doing that, but I hope the punctuation does it well enough.
7. "twisted and warped." These words are a good modern update for "crooked and perverse."
8. "stars in orbit." This phrase could also mean "lights in the world." The double-entendre is purposeful.
9. "Hold on dearly to the Word of Life." Hold the Word of Life intensely close. The difference between this word and simply holding something is like the difference between wearing your wedding ring and simply keeping it in the attic somewhere. The preacher in me is tempted to translate this as "Hold on to the Word for dear life," but that's a bit of a stretch.
10. "As the sacrifice for your faithful worship service." I'm going out on a limb here. Rendering it this way makes it clear that Paul is poured out (as a drink offering) without me inserting the words "as a drink offering" for clarification. Faithfulness unto death seems to be a theme here, so "faithful" fits, and "worship service" works decently for leitourgia.
11. "I rejoice, I rejoice with all of you. At the same time, you rejoice, rejoice with me." The emphasis is on "you" in the second statement. I'm thinking the verbs in the second half are both commands to rejoice and rejoice with him. I couldn't render this verse without it looking redundant in English, and that's because it's redundant in Greek. Redundancy is not useless; Paul has his reasons.

____ Commentary
The main word connecting this passage to the previous one is the word "obey." Christ's death (loss) brought gain. Now regardless of whether Paul is present or absent (i.e. lives or dies), the Philippians must work out their own salvation "with fear and dread." Due to its use in Genesis 9:2, I am inclined to think that "fear and dread" refers to submission to authority -- specifically God's authority, since he is the One working in them.

So, they must do everything they can -- and none of that with grumbling or disputation. These were the problems in the Exodus. Grumbling about lack of meat. Disputing Moses' authority. These two problems break unity, and unity (which includes submission to authority) is the very thing Paul has been trying to encourage throughout this chapter.

If the Philippians continue their work without grumbling, then they will be pure and innocent. This is practically synonymous with the words in 1:10. Just like stars in orbit are tiny oases of light scattered in a desert of darkness, so too are we amid this totally fallen and depraved generation. The reason the generation in the Exodus was "twisted and warped" is because they were disobedient and did not hold on dearly to the Word of Life. It is conforming to the example of Christ that will allow us to shine. It is God who works in us both the motivation and the ability to shine.

Pride makes an appearance now. Paul wants them to prosper, so that he may be proud rather than ashamed in the Day of Christ. This pride, this boast, is a type of vindication or salvation for Paul. Throughout this letter, his thoughts hum with the question: "Am I a faithful servant?" His "boast" in the Day of Christ is this: when he sees Jesus face to face again, he wants Jesus to answer that question with an emphatic "yes, Saul. You have." And then, he will break down crying in sweet relief. Paul is motivated by an intense desire to serve, and nothing less will satisfy his godly motivation. Paul in Philippians is slowly redeeming the concept of boasting. Whereas we generally boast out of strife and selfish ambition, Paul shows us how to boast out of godly motivation instead. Of course, the boast is completely future-oriented and nobody may boast now. Only in the Day of Christ.

In verses 17 and 18, Paul switches seamlessly into the language of sacrifice. Sacrifice ties together the themes of death and worship. As Paul thought of the Day of Christ in verse 16, his mind inevitably drifted back to the topic of his own death as a martyr. If he dies a martyr's death, then he does so for the benefit of the Philippians. He envisions execution by the Romans as if it were a Temple service in which he is the lamb offered for the Philippians. Not that he takes away their sins, mind you, but he brings them benefit by setting an example for them.

At the same time, he wants them to rejoice in having an example from Paul. Yes, he even wants them to "rejoice" in his death, because death to him is gain (1:21). No doubt it was with a heavy heart that he told them to rejoice. The joy in Philippians is a mix of emotions, suffering today but worshiping with joy because of the vindication on the Day of Christ. Philippians is not a book for when everything is going right. It is a book for persevering when everything is going wrong. Everything will be made right.

Will I soon be an official biblioblogger?

Posted by Gary

I hope so. Since I've applied to join the official Biblioblog list, I suppose I should reintroduce myself. My name's Gary. I'm a 24-year-old American white guy with an intense love for studying Scripture and for memorization. Theologically and politically, I am moderate bordering on conservative. I cannot stand the far left nor the far right in politics or theology. I find pacifism and the gender debate to be issues of interest. I'm a soft complementarian, and I will occasionally post exegesis/reflection from that standpoint. Honestly, I don't feel motivated to try and persuade others to this view -- especially females. A lesson I've learned is that you can't argue with suffering, and so I don't want to waste my time. That said, I'm more than willing to interact with female bibliobloggers, although if the gender debate is the nexus of their interest, I will not feel inclined to interact much.

I don't care much for systematic theology and I haven't read many influential theologians. I don't have a degree, although I did attend a pastoral school for three years. I focused very heavily on studying Greek. I can match most master's students who went to that university (in fact, I've tutored some).

While I may not have a degree (yet), I do have several skills that I've polished over the past five years: exegesis, translation, memorization, comfort with Koine Greek, a basic working knowledge of biblical Hebrew, and a mind that analyzes the heck out of things while still maintaining an openness to the relational/artistic side of life.

I have experience that goes beyond my years. I can recite several chapters of the Bible from memory in Greek, as well as a few in Hebrew. I will not give a full listing, but I do know Philippians, Psalm 23, and the Sermon on the Mount by heart. My goal for this year is to memorize LXX Joel and Matthew 1-4. Next year I will learn LXX Jonah and Matthew 8-14. The next two years will hopefully entail the complete memorization of Matthew's Gospel.

If I continue an academic education, which I hope to do, I may either focus on NT textual criticism or Greek linguistics. As my above goal would imply, I intend to specialize in Matthew. I wonder what my favorite professor, Curt Niccum, would recommend.

As an example of my translation practice, I'd point you to my recent post on Philippians 2. You see, now that I've memorized the book, I'm going through and trying to make a literary translation. I may not know Hellenistic Greek beyond the LXX and NT, but I do know a thing or two about writing with style. Although, I haven't been getting comments on my Philippians series since the opening post, so I hope my readership (whoever that is) has been interested in reading it.

Side note: apparently there was a malfunction with my previous template. For some reason it picked today. So, I had to switch. This may be temporary -- we'll see what comes along later.

Philippians 2:1-11: The Mind of Christ

Posted by Gary Labels: ,

So, if you find any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from God's love, any mercy or compassion, then fulfill my joy that you would have common purpose: a common love, unity in spirit, unity in thought.

Let nothing be done for self-empowerment, nor for self-exaltation. Rather, in humility consider others better than yourselves. Do not look to your own interests, but to those of others.

Take this mindset to heart -- the mindset of Christ Jesus, who,

"Though He was divine in form,
He did not consider equality with God
A thing to be exploited.
Rather, He emptied himself;
A servant's form He assumed.
Taking human likeness,
He was perceived to have
A man's appearance.
He humbled Himself,
Became obedient
To the point of death
-- death on a cross.

Wherefore God highly exalted Him
And conferred upon Him the Name
which is above every name,
That at the name of Jesus
Every knee would bow
In heaven,
On earth,
And below the earth,
And every tongue confess
That Jesus Christ is Lord,
To the glory of God the Father."

____Translation Notes
1. "if you find..." It's difficult for me to choose whether to say "if there is," "if you have," or "if you find" any encouragement in Christ. The meaning is pretty much the same, but "if you find" (i.e. if you experience) is more personally grabbing. I believe that is how Paul would say it in English.
2. "Encouragement in Christ." Is this encouragement from Jesus supernaturally, or from other Christians because of Christ? Both the Greek and the English are open to either possibility.
3. "Any comfort from God's love." This is interpretive. "Comfort of love" could also mean "loving comfort" [from God or from other Christians], or it could mean compassion for another person (due to either God's love or being loved by the community or due to one's love for the community). This phrase is open to many understandings, and I don't think there's any avoiding the need to make an interpretive choice when translating it.
4. In verse 2, I made a parallel that made it more lyrical than it is in Greek. I would not dare say I "improved" Paul. I think the "common...common...unity...unity" works well. Note that Paul first puts forth the idea of "common purpose," and then the other three parts of this are expansions on that idea.
5. I likewise stylized the "self-empowerment" and "self-exaltation" in verse 3. The self-empowerment idea is more literally "strife," but the two are often one and the same thing, are they not? I think poetic license allows for this, although this could be misunderstood to mean that you should never try to better yourself. However, I would not be responsible for that misunderstanding. I think the context makes it clear it's talking about rivalry (especially paired with self-exaltation).
6. Note that italics indicates minor emphasis and bold is major emphasis.
7. For verse 5: "Let this mindset be in you, which is also in Christ Jesus" just is strange English. As far as I know, it may also be strange Greek. If it is strange Greek, then a translation that focuses on accuracy only would do well to translate it that way. However, this is a literary translation, and so I'm giving myself enough poetic liberty with regards to making the text flow better than it does in other translations.
8. Verses 6-11 constitute a hymn, though it's hard to say if it's composed by Paul or someone else. One thing that will jump out at you is that I start it with "though He was divine in form" rather than "was in very nature God (NIV)." I don't know if the Greek word should be translated as form or nature, but form sounds more natural. I may change my mind there. The Greek does allow for "divine form" rather than "God's form." I would argue this is what it means. HOWEVER, don't think I am anti-trinitarian. The rest of the sentence makes it clear he had God's power, so he is God.
9. Note also that I capitalize pronouns related to Jesus because it's a hymn and that's something we do in our hymns. I also used two archaic words, because our hymns are always old-sounding in English. "Wherefore" means "consequently" or "as a result," and "to confer" means to grant, such as a king bestowing a gift upon someone (I tried "bestow" already but it didn't feel right).
10. "A thing to be exploited." This could also be interpreted as "robbery" (KJV, NKJV) or "a thing to be grasped" (NIV, Message, etc.). By "grasp," it would mean "a thing to be physically touched." I do not think "grasp" works here, especially since I always understood "grasp" to mean "understand" here, but the Greek does not allow that. I do not think "robbery" fits the context, and "grasp" is misunderstood, even if it might be technically correct. My reading follows wording of the NRSV and the sense of the TNIV.

This passage starts off with an appeal for humility and cooperation based on the workings of the Holy Spirit among the Philippians. The ultimate example of this humility is Christ himself. It is Christ's self-surrender that led to his exaltation, and it is this trait that Paul wants the Philippians to emulate.

Note how the word "joy" functions in this section. He's using it to refer to his hope that the Philippians would be united. If they fulfill this hope, he will have joy. Why did he use the word "joy" instead? Joy is a theme of this book and it is given a very particular definition. I'm not going to explain further just yet -- you'll have to tune in next time!

The theme of death makes yet another appearance. Paul connected his own (potential) death with immeasurable gain back in chapter one, and now he connects Christ's sacrificial death with his immeasurable gain, also. Note also the phrase "to the point of death." It will appear again.

The meta-theme of unity/conformity/obedience makes an appearance here. Remember that it first manifested at the end of chapter one, in that we are only to measure our patriotism by how patriotic we are for the Gospel (rather than for racial/national patriotism). Now we are to conform to Christ's obedience to God. This is our example. Note also the term "servant." Paul referred to himself and Timothy as "servants" in the opening rather than calling himself an apostle as usual.

Although no words along the line of "gain" or "abundance" appear in the text of this passage, it is clear that by refusing self-empowerment and self-exaltation, Christ made gain by his obedience and death. So the theme is represented nonetheless.

Allow me to Reintroduce the Christ

Posted by Gary

I'm stealing this from Apolojedi on Theologica. The best rap I've ever heard. Seriously. I nearly cried.

Philippians 1:21-30: Fruitful Labor

Posted by Gary Labels: ,

Because, to me, life is Christ, and death is gain. If I am to continue physically living, this is fruitful labor to me. I do not know which I will choose, for I am torn between the two. On the one hand, I desire to depart and be with Christ (because that would be so much better!)...

But it is more necessary for me to remain here physically because of you. Since I am confident of this, I know that I will refrain and remain with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your boast in Christ may abound because of me, because of my presence again with you.

Measure your citizenship solely by living worthily of the Gospel of Christ. Do this regardless of whether I come and see you or just hear about you in my absence, so that you would stand in one spirit. Strive together with one mind in the faith of the Gospel (and don't be shaken by anything set forth by our opponents), which to them signifies destruction, but it actually is your salvation -- this is from God.

For you have been given this task on behalf of Christ: not only to believe in him, but also to suffer on his account, to have the same struggle which you saw in me before and hear of from me now.

_____Translation notes
- "Life is Christ, and death is gain." We tend to be slavish about parts of speech. Just because they're infinitives ("to live" and "to die") in Greek doesn't mean that makes good English. Greek loves infinitives and participles. English doesn't.

- "But it is more necessary." I am not sure if it's good to do a paragraph break here. I feel that Paul paused his thoughts between 23 and 24. He found the inner resolve to make up his mind (mostly) that he is going to choose to continue living. It seems that he did not completely write off the possibility of martyrdom, as evidenced later in the epistle, but his immediate choice is to continue. I want to try and bring out the implication that he paused, hence the ellipsis at the end of verse 23.

- "Refrain and remain." It's literally "remain and stay with," but it has alliteration. I tried to get across the basic point "I will choose to continue physically living [and thus refrain from the opposite choice] so that I can remain with you all" and I tried to make the poetry come through. I think this was a moderate success. Unfortunate that I couldn't work in the alliteration of "through my presence again with you" in Greek (διὰ τῆς ἐμῆς παρουσίας πάλιν πρὸς ὑμᾶς), which repeats eta, alpha, and especially sigma.

- "Measure your citizenship solely..." I have never in my life come across a Greek sentence starting with the word "only," except here. I don't have a wide range of texts under my belt (1/2 the NT and a tiny amount of the Septuagint, plus the Didache), but this seems to be rare. In English, it's almost unheard of. It seems to be emphatic enough to deserve italics. As for "measure your citizenship," the verb is related to the idea of loyalty, conduct, and citizenship. It is a rare verb with only one other occurence in the NT. Since I do not have an in-depth lexicon, I may be reading my Pacifist beliefs into this by emphasizing the citizenship thing. The meaning I give makes sense, but someone with a better lexicon might be able to shed light on this.

- "which you saw in me before and hear of from me now." Literally "which you saw in me and now hear in (=hear of through) me." The "in" with regard to "hear" doesn't work in English, so the double-use of "in" won't work. Since that poetic element is lost, I tried to restore balance by adding a "before" to correspond to the "now."

____Commentary: tracing themes
Life is connected with service in this passage, while death is profitable. To live is Christ. This means to live a life of service and the suffering that comes as part and parcel to that life of service. To die, however, is gain. Death rather than life would be the thing profitable for oneself. (Paul later develops "death" in another direction. Stay tuned.) And then, Paul immediately turns around and calls life fruitful (i.e. profitable/gainful) labor. Labor is hard work. It entails suffering, yet also has gain. This is why he is torn between the two. Both life and death can be persuasively argued to be profitable. Which kind of profit will he choose? He makes a choice by talking things out.

We see another example of confidence in this passage. Now Paul is confident about the proper task: that he is to remain here with the Philippians to serve them.

Boasting also appears again here. Paul wants them to have pride in Christ Jesus and attribute praise to Christ as thanksgiving for allowing Paul to return to them.

Citizenship makes its first appearance here. Since we are all fellow-citizens, we are to measure ourselves by one standard only. That standard is the one thing we all have in common: the Gospel. As to what other standards one might hold oneself to, that will be revealed later on.

Also, unity as a theme makes its first appearance here. Paul admonishes them to stand like soldiers drawn for battle. He wants for them to "advance" in faith, like front line soldiers whose morale suddenly spikes when the field commander visits and remains with them. With his continued presence, he hopes, they will be reminded of the common purpose that holds them together.

Note that "joy" is connected here with progress/advance and unity. Joy as a theme has appeared before but Paul has not elaborated on that theme yet. We're still in the dark as to what he's talking about, but the pieces are ever-so-slowly coming together to show us that it has to do with unity.

I'd appreciate comments on this. What of this translation feels awkward? Does it speak to you? Is it clear or unclear? What are your thoughts on the themes I'm trying to trace out? I hope this study is helpful to someone.

Deep Thoughts... by Gary Simmons

Posted by Gary Labels:

I never understood the phrase "the short end of the stick." I mean, it still hurts if you get hit by the other end of the stick, too. This is a phrase that I sometimes get but never understand.

Resources on the New Perspective on Paul

Posted by Gary

HT: Todd Pruitt on this one. A wealth of resources for critically analyzing the New Perspective on Paul, and in particular the works of N.T. Wright, the (former) Archbishop of Durham. See here.

As to his character and general demeanor, I look up to N.T. Wright. As for his theology, I haven't gotten into it too much yet. I have a few of his books but I've not gotten around to reading them. Now that I'm translating Philippians and memorizing Matthew 2-4 as well as Joel, I've got plenty to do. I'll get around to Wright in due time though.

This was a weird dream

Posted by Gary Labels:

Alright. I promise I'll do the next episode of Philippians soon. But for now, I want to write down what I remember of my dream last night.

It started off pretty regular, with Obi-Wan Kenobi battling General Grievous. But then it switched to a scene with me watching TV. Satan appeared on TV with blazing eyes, a blazing aura, and pretty mean horns. Red skin, and for reasons I'll never understand, he was wearing a black turtleneck. Someone else was with me in the room who did not perceive the demonic moment. Another demonic occurrence occurs. Since I'm the only one that perceives them, I am clearly possessed or at least haunted in this dream. I'm too terrified to speak in those moments. My protests are pitiful and unvoiced.

But then the scene switches. I am now with two other people in a living room. I look to my left and for no apparent reason I see a hidden message spelled out in sweet peas. Yes, sweet peas. It says "I'm going to possess him next" or something like that, referring to one of the others in the room. The guy in the room with me then starts to turn into a demon physically, almost. You know, blazing eyes and horns and what-not. So I say "I banish you in the name of Jesus!" Really, I was freaking out at the sight, but I knew who to call. And it worked.

The scene switches. I'm at my Grandma's old house with this guy and his son. Satan's at the screen door, still dressed in that stupid turtleneck. I tell the guy to take his son and run. He does so. So, I think about how Jesus is my light and I run toward the screen door and cock my right arm back for a major punch to the prince of darkness's face. In the middle of the dramatic jump, with me poised to give the devil the face-punching of his life, the alarm goes off and I wake up. He won't be so lucky tonight.

Michael Patton on Depression

Posted by Gary Labels: ,

Here's an update on Michael Patton's depression. He's a Bible/preaching/apologetics teacher who dwells in Norman, Oklahoma. Apparently the stress of ministry got to him about 2 months ago and he just sort of... "snapped." You think you know depression when you see it in others and you give them the stock lines you learned in your counseling classes. Heh. Maybe you'd exemplify What not to say to those who are suffering. We've all done that.

Until you experience it yourself, you have no idea. Trust me on that one. I may not know Michael's experience, but I know how the "After-Depression" feels. I took medicine for several years. Now, I do not take anti-depressants. As long as I have my ADHD medicine, I get through the day just fine. Without it, I can't concentrate. And I feel somewhat ashamed for being unable to focus on serious mental tasks, but it's an annoyance I accept as a part of who I am.

But there was a time when I did not have this sort of self-acceptance. Those were dark days and endless nights. But that is not who I am now. Praise God. Perhaps I have a thorn in my flesh, but it is not some gaping wound. I am pressed, but not crushed. Persecuted, not abandoned.

Some great cats

Posted by Gary Labels:

Here is a cat who is a very bad mystic.

Also, my very own Persian, Crystal.

How to stop a catfight.

Lastly we have Maru, the funniest cat ever.