Sweet Start CHALLENGE: The Beginning + PPA234
Happy New Year, friend!! Sorry for the delay in getting this post up, we rang in the New Year with our internet service being down for the count. But, it’s still the 1st so technically I’m still on track :o) Welcome to the inaugural Sweet Start post! If you’re not sure what Sweet Start is all about, you can read more details in my last post. I’m really excited about this new venture, yet still a little nervous since it’s so new to me. All the best moments in my life have had this curious mix of emotions– great anticipation with a mountain of nerves. Some notable moments I can recall off-hand (not in any order of importance) would be competing and winning in High School State and College National cheerleading championships, my wedding, and the birth of my children. There was so much excitement in those moments but my heart and emotions sure did get a workout! Without further adieu, let’s jump in together!
Philemon, part 1
When I started mulling over the idea of tackling a Bible Study on my blog, I decided to look at a really short chapter of the Bible that I could get through quickly and easily. (Apparently I am setting my sights low, as Philemon is less than a page long in my Bible. Ha!) But, I feared, would there be anything to talk about in such a short letter like Philemon? Happily, there certainly is! Let’s take a look. Please read Philemon in your Bible, it’s a quick read!
Philemon opens by telling us who the author is and who the letter is addressed to. Written by the Apostle Paul, probably around 61 A.D., its writing likely pre-dates most of the gospels. I think that’s interesting, because it’s easy to assume our Bibles are chronologically ordered according to when they were written, but that’s just not the case. As an organization junkie, I appreciate the scholars who have put a logical organization to the pages of our sacred text, but it’s also helpful to keep in mind the chapters are not placed in the order in which they were penned in most Bible versions.
For a big-picture rundown, Paul wrote this letter to his dear friend, Philemon. The letter concerns Philemon’s runaway servant, Onesimus, who fled to Rome where he met Paul. Onesimus became a follower of Christ while in Rome, and one can only assume it was Paul’s evangelism that led him to a confession of faith. That’s pretty cool! All Christ-followers today are a part of the vast branching tree of the spreading gospel message, but this man Onesimus was at ground zero of Paul’s ministry. Not as the original convert, but resulting from the direct impact of Paul’s influence in Rome. Is it astonishing to anyone else that we can read about this historical event nearly 2,000 years later in Paul’s own words? Wow.
Here are my notes regarding things that stood out to me, as well as information I gleaned from various commentaries I read:
- Apphia was likely Philemon’s wife, and as was the custom in their culture, she would have been responsible for overseeing the servants in their household. It would therefore be appropriate for Paul to include her when addressing the letter. The man must have known better than to tread thoughtlessly on a woman’s domain! (I kid, kinda.) Archippus may have been the son of Philemon and Apphia.
- Philemon 1:3; Do verses like this overlook the Holy Spirit, or make the person of the Holy Spirit of reduced importance among the members of the Godhead? Absolutely not! The Holy Spirit would have been recognized by Paul as the agent or means of delivery when Paul greets Philemon with grace and peace. Without the Holy Spirit as the living and active presence of God at work in the world, Paul’s greeting would be empty words– a mere courtesy. I have never perceived Paul to be a man of pleasantries, merely saying words because it’s the “nice” thing to do. He sends the message with grace and peace because he expects that God will indeed hear and answer that request through the person and power of the Holy Spirit.
- Philemon 1:6; This was the banner verse of Philemon to me in terms of practical life application. The NIV (1984) translation reads, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” This verse is a perfect example of why it’s helpful to have a variety of Bible translations available. While the Bible is the inerrant word of God, and I believe that every word penned was divinely inspired, there is no such thing as a perfect translation from the original language of the text. At first glance I automatically perceived this verse as referring to evangelism– sharing your faith with others for the purpose of leading them into a relationship with Christ Jesus. For me, evangelism has certainly helped me have a more complete understanding of “every good thing we have in Christ,” precious things like grace, forgiveness, love, strength in weakness, the powerful indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, etc. While I don’t think that’s a bad application, other translations bring some clarity to the purpose of Paul’s choice of Greek words: “And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ.” (NLT) Paul is petitioning God, that He would help Philemon put his faith into practice in the situation with Onesimus which he is about to elaborate on in his letter. In living out his faith, Paul recognizes that Philemon will have a more profound experience of the good things found in relationship with Christ, and his actions will in turn contribute to a deeper understanding of those same things. That makes sense in the context of the letter, which I will describe in more detail soon. It also makes sense in regard to my initial understanding of this verse: Do you want to have a more substantial faith and deeper understanding of the good things found in Christ? Put those things into practice! Share what you’ve found with others. Talk about it. Spend time thinking about the impact faith has (or should have) on you personally and those around you. Is there evidence of your faith anywhere but in your mind? If not, you should be rightly concerned. If your godly reputation precedes you, as Philemon’s did (v. 4-5, 7) be even more fearful of hypocrisy and be on the lookout for opportunities to practice what you preach.
Let’s put our faith into practice today, so that we may, together, “understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ.” Now, let’s get to stamping!
Pals Paper Arts Challenge (PPA 234)
Today’s card is inspired by the Pals Paper Arts challenge #234. Every Thursday, except for odd 5th Thursdays, there is a new challenge, either a color combo or sketch challenge. They’re a fun way to get a spark of inspiration and possibly get some recognition as a Pals Paper Arts pick! Here’s today’s color challenge:
Aren’t those soothing colors? I was in great need of some serenity after landing in the ER with a kidney stone, and also in need of a few thank-you cards for the friends who stepped up to transport me there in excruciating pain, stay with my kids until my husband was able to catch a flight home from a work trip, and even fold some laundry that had piled up. Seriously, my friends are the very best a girl could ask for. This challenge also marks the first of a 2-week series of projects using the FREE Sale-A-Bration stamp set, You Brighten My Day. The thing I like most about this stamp set is that it pairs well with so many of my other stamp sets. It’s fine as a standalone set, but it really shines when used in conjunction with other Stampin’ Up! sets. For this card, I paired it with Four Feathers, which I’m excited to say, is a carryover item from the Holiday Catalog into the new Occasions Catalog that will be released on the 6th. The 6th also marks the start of the Sale-A-Bration promotion, be sure to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss the info about the best Stampin’ Up! promotion of the year! You get a free SAB product for every $50 you spend, NO LIMIT! Woo hoo! For now, here’s a sneak peek at You Brighten My Day.
I figured out something really helpful that I want to share with you. I’ve had an issue when embossing on tab of the Big Shot Multipurpose Platform using Whisper White card stock. There was always too much pressure and it caused the cardstock to split open in places, definitely not a clean emboss. So, I tried embossing with all of the tabs open on the platform itself, and although I thought it might not offer enough pressure to engage, it worked beautifully! A perfect impression without any tearing or fraying of the paper fibers. Even with so much white space on this card, the Woodgrain texture really adds a pop of interest. Lovely!
Thanks for stopping by, today, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for a weekly digest of posts sent to your email! I’ll see you tomorrow for a wrap-up of Philemon and my second You Brighten My Day project. If you have a minute, let me know what you thought of the first ever Sweet Start post!