Philippians: Joyful Sacrifice for the Gospel

About a week ago, Michael and I had the opportunity to teach an Inductive Bible Study method seminar at our church, Okotoks Alliance. We usually use the book of Philemon to teach the method (it’s short and packs a punch!), but we had taught the method using Philemon at OAC in 2014, and we wanted to invite people who had come to the first seminar, as well as newbies. This meant we had to pick another book; we settled on Philippians.

Why Philippians? Part of the reason is that it is only four chapters long.  Also, there are really no theological landmines in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, which is important when you only have three hours. But those practicalities aside, we taught Philippians because it’s an incredible book, it lends itself beautifully to application, and Philippians 2:5-8 are some of our favourite verses of Scripture:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

As I studied Philippians to prepare to lead others through studying Philippians, I was struck by the theme of Paul’s use of examples of people suffering humbly for the Gospel, with joy. The first example is Paul himself. Paul repeatedly speaks of his own imprisonment, never complaining, but noting how what had happened to him had “really served to advance the gospel” (1:12). When contemplating the possible outcomes of his situation, he struggled to choose whether it would be better to live and continue to contend for the Gospel, or die and be with Christ (1:21-24).

Later, Paul unpacks two more examples of suffering for Christ, with joy: Timothy and Epaphroditus (2:19-30). Timothy is described as a man who seeks the interests of Jesus Christ, unlike others who seek their own interests. He had served with Paul for the Gospel, and Paul knew he could trust this young man to care for the Philippians’ welfare. Epaphroditus is described as dedicated to the work of Christ, as he had been ill and almost died, risking his life for the Gospel.

The ultimate example of suffering for the Gospel with joy, of course, is described in 2:5-8, quoted above. Jesus – God Himself, denied Himself, serving in life, through His death, and in His resurrection. The author of Hebrews says, “for the joy that was set before him [Jesus] endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). By making Jesus’ example central to his letter to the Philippians, Paul shows the reader that Jesus does not ask His followers to do anything He has not already done. He has gone before the Philippians (and us), suffering with joy.

What does it look like to suffer with joy? Paul is not suggesting the Christ-follower “fakes it until s/he makes it.” The cause of Christ is so worthy, when we rightly understand the Gospel, joy is inescapable, unavoidable. Paul could rejoice from prison, because he saw the Gospel going forward. Epaphroditus could suffer life-threatening illness for the cause of Christ, because he knew the work of Christ was more important than life itself.  When we rightly understand the beauty and implications of the Gospel, no sacrifice will seem too great. Like the apostles of the early church, when we comprehend the fullness of the Gospel, when we face difficulty or persecution as a result of our faith, we can even rejoice that we “were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (Acts 5:41).

I know I don’t always usually don’t have this attitude. When I face challenges directly related to my identity as a believer (because we live in a world that can be hostile to followers of Jesus, regardless of the country one lives in), my response is not always hardly ever rejoicing. As I read Philippians, and as I see these examples of believers suffering for the Gospel with joy, I know I need a deeper understanding of what Jesus has done. Are you in the same place, or am I the only one? Lord, help us to comprehend the Gospel in a way that makes joy inescapable, regardless of the challenges we face. Help us to meditate on Your Word and Your goodness, so we can’t help but rejoice, regardless of our situations and circumstances. We don’t want to paste inauthentic smiles on our faces – we want an authentic joy that comes from knowing You.


Dinadi: hand knitted products + merino wool = changed lives

If you’ve followed our blog for a few years, you’ll know Michael and I are big fans of Purnaa, an ethical garment manufacturing company in Nepal. Not only do we believe in what they’re doing, and love the products we’ve purchased (both through their Kickstarter campaign and through a group buy), we’ve had the pleasure of meeting up with two of the founders, in Nepal and in Canada, and we know they’re legit. All that said, you can imagine that when we found out they were starting a new business in Nepal, we were pretty pumped!


Dinadi is a social business established in Kathmandu, Nepal in April, 2016. At Dinadi, Nepal is central to who we are which is why we use the term “crafted by Nepal”. Nepal is still recovering from last years devastating earthquake and struggles with issues such as unemployment, poverty, human trafficking and bonded labour. We believe one of the keys to bringing change to these issues is good job opportunities, both for those who’ve survived these issues and for those who are at risk to be affected by them.

We now have 39 knitters and crocheters who have graduated our training program and are part of our production team. Dinadi exists for them. Rather than working in a factory each piece we make is crafted in our artisans homes. This gives maximum flexibility for our employees to stay at home to be with their small children, care for family members in need, or work their way through college. On each product label you will see the signature of the artisan who has proudly crafted your piece.”

Pretty awesome, right? What’s even more awesome, is you can be part of providing job opportunities for men and women at risk, in Nepal, by being part of Dinadi’s Kickstarter campaign! By supporting Dinadi, you can be the proud owner of some beautifully created knitted and crocheted products, like:

the Kristina Half Mitts

the Kristina Half Mitts

the Clara Mittens

the Clara Mittens

the Emma Hat

the Emma Hat

the Anders Hat

the Anders Hat

the Johanna Scarf

the Johanna Scarf

Aren’t these products beautiful? And you can even choose to have them shipped to you by Christmas, or in February! This is a great way to do your Christmas shopping now, while supporting a business doing incredible things with some of the most vulnerable people in Nepal. Learn more about Dinadi, and learn about the rewards for different pledges, by visiting Dinadi’s Kickstarter campaign page.



Partner With YWAM TV’s Mountain Venture DTS!

Our Mountain Venture DTS is getting ready to go on outreach in a few short weeks; they’ll be headed to Greece and Thailand, seeking to serve refugees in both countries. Learn how you can partner with them by watching the above video, and be in prayer for them, as they get ready to go to the nations!

Book Review: An Everlasting Meal, by Tamar Adler

I recently read, “There are two kinds of people in the world: people who wake up thinking about dinner and people who don’t” (attributed to Lynne Rossetto Kasper, American food writer and radio journalist). An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, by Tamar Adler, will probably be best loved by those who find themselves thinking about dinner upon waking, though I would suggest it’s a beneficial read for anyone who is interested in eating.


I find it difficult to pin down the genre of An Everlasting Meal. It contains recipes, but it’s not a recipe book. Part collection of essays, part love letter to food – to good quality food, prepared and served both economically and thoughtfully, it also reads like a story book:

“Eggs should be laid by chickens that have as much of a say in it as any of us about our egg laying does. Their yolks should, depending on the time of year, range from buttercup yellow to marigold…An egg can turn anything into a meal and is never so pleased as when it is allowed to” (p. 19-20).

An Everlasting Meal is also a book of food philosophy, as described on the book’s jacket: “Tamar encourages readers to begin from wherever they are, with whatever they have.” Though there is a bit of a “how to” sense about it, Adler’s work really encourages the cook to embrace creativity and to throw away very little, hence the subtitle’s reference to “economy.”

It’s important to note the difference between economically-prepared food, and a menu on a budget. Adler suggests purchasing high quality meats, of animals that have been treated well. That sort of meat is not “budget friendly” in the sense that you can certainly buy cheaper meat. But Adler suggests buying less expensive cuts of this high quality meat, and stretching it out over as many meals as possible. For example, the whole chicken’s bones are certainly used to make stock, but chicken livers are used to make pâté, crispy chicken skin is rubbed on toast, and we haven’t even got to the meat yet, which is stretched out over any number of meals. Any money you might save on buying one happily-raised chicken, and spreading it out over a week of lunches and dinners (rather than a package of chicken breasts used up in one supper), will be spent on gallons of the best quality olive oil, which seems to be a primary ingredient in the recipes included in An Everlasting Meal. I would suggest that the “point” of this book is not to save the reader money, but to introduce the reader to high quality food cooked in such a way that it can be enjoyed with a good conscience, and without a great deal of damage to one’s pocketbook.

The most helpful part of this book might be the chapter entitled, “How to Snatch Victory From the Jaws of Defeat.” Adler was so engrossed in writing on the topic of rescuing overly salty rice, burned vegetables, over-cooked meat, etc., from the fate of the garbage can, the chapter’s subject matter continues in the appendix: Further Fixes. This chapter and appendix is probably most universally applicable, because who hasn’t burned something, undercooked something, or oversalted something?

As someone who thinks about the next night’s dinner before I even go to bed the day before (how can I then help from thinking about it when I wake up?) I found this book charming, the writing-style amusing, and the philosophy it embraces, one that I want to improve in.