Christianity for Dummies: Philippians 4:2-3

by Katie N. and Josh S.

In many spheres of life, unity is a key to excellence. This is readily apparent in the world of sports. For example, if the Cedarville men’s soccer team, due to a terrible argument among the athletes, was to suddenly turn into eleven solo players who refused to cooperate and pass during the match, a team of much lesser talent and ability would be able to soundly defeat them. Even though the eleven players on the field would still be quite talented individually, their refusal to pursue a common goal together would make them no match for the eleven opponents.

However, the same exact thing can and, all too often, does happen in the body of Christ. Relationships between otherwise “talented” Christians too often strain and break over the pettiest of issues, and whether we realize it or not, this damages the body just as much as any individual sin, impeding the advance of the gospel through the Church. Perhaps our focus on individual and private piety has led us to neglect the importance of unity when it comes to following Christ.

This is exactly the kind of issue that Paul seeks to address in Philippians 4:2-9, to which we now turn.

The following is a translation of our passage,

based on the NASB with minor revisions to reflect our interpretive decisions.

2 I beg Euodia and I beg Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. 3 Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women [because] they have struggled together with me in [the cause of] the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names [are in] the book of life.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

The “big idea” of our passage is this:

In order to experience vertical and horizontal peace for the advance of the gospel,

Euodia, Syntyche, and the Philippian saints

are to rejoice in the Lord,

leading to reasonableness and thankfully avoiding anxiety through prayer,

and to dwell on that which is excellent and praiseworthy,

imitating Paul’s Christ-following instruction and example.

With that “big idea” in mind, we now turn to the exegetical outline of our passage,
which begins with a Case Study: Euodia and Syntyche (in 4:2-3)

At first glance, the first two verses of our passage stick out like a sore thumb from that which precedes and that which follows. Having concluded a positive vs. negative analysis of what it means to “rejoice in the Lord” in 3:1-21, Paul then uses some of the richest terms of endearment for the Philippian saints in 4:1, calling them “my beloved brothers whom I long to see, my joy and crown…my beloved.” This verse functions as a transition from the exposition of 3:1-21 to the case study and exhortations found here in 4:2-9. Paul urges his beloved brothers and sisters to “stand firm in the Lord” in the ways he has just finished describing.

However, a jarring transition comes with the very first word of 4:2. In most English translations, it is the word “I,” referring to Paul. However, in the Greek text this passage begins with the proper name Euodia, mentioned nowhere else in this epistle or in any of Paul’s extant writings, for that matter. Another proper name, Syntyche, appears a mere two words later, and it is clear that Paul is now discussing a unique situation. It is our labor today to show how this “sore thumb” passage, with its strange placement in the thought-flow of the book and odd use of proper names, actually serves as a case study which transcends the specific parties involved, synthesizing Paul’s teaching throughout the entire book of Philippians.

Paul begins by stating The Problem and The Desired Solution (in 4:2)

Addressing two women in the Philippian community, Paul even-handedly urges them both towards unity and harmony in their common bond in the Lord Jesus.

Who were Euodia and Syntyche? What was their conflict?

Although these names were common in that day, these women are mentioned nowhere else in the New Testament, and their exact identity remains unknown.

Furthermore, it is surprising that Paul here specifically names the two people involved in the conflict he is trying to resolve, as this was not his common practice. According to Fee, Paul rarely mentions anyone by name unless it is in the context of greetings and the mention of coworkers or envoys (for example, “Clement” in 4:3). [1] When combined with the enlisting of a third party’s help in 4:3, this seems to reveal the urgency of Paul’s request for unity. However, it might be illegitimate to read this in terms of Paul calling two people out in a direct and somewhat harsh pastoral confrontation, as some commentators have done. Fee sees Paul naming these two as an evidence of their close friendship. [2] That is, the fact that Paul actually does call them by name reveals his intimate knowledge of them and their situation, and that he is confident that his intervention will solve the problem.

However, this does not mitigate the urgency of the request. Paul obviously views the unity between these women, who were probably influential members of the Philippian church (according to Hawthorne, [3] Fee, [4] O’Brien,[5] and others), to have a weighty influence on the advancement of the gospel by the Philippian church.

That being said, Paul refuses to take sides in his appeal, which can be seen in the very even-handed syntax: Εὐοδίαν παρακαλῶ καὶ Συντύχην παρακαλῶ, using the verb παρακαλέω, which can here be rendered “appeal to, urge, exhort, or encourage.” He addresses them both directly in turn, which reinforces his request for them to abandon their differences and live in harmony in the Lord. This is a very personal appeal. To read it in any other way goes against the terms of affection Paul uses for the Philippians throughout the letter, especially in 4:1. In an attempt to capture this sense, we have chosen to render παρακαλῶ as “beg.”

In order to get a better idea of what their conflict was, however, we must continue to look at the rest of this “case study.”

What was Paul’s Desired Solution? τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν ἐν κυρίῳ:

Paul desires that these two women abandon their differences and live in harmony in the Lord, touching on a main theme of the letter up to this point.

τ
αὐτὸ φρονεῖν: This present active infinitive form of φρονέω has a semantic range which includes (according to BAGD): “to think, form/hold an opinion, judge; set one’s mind on, be intent on; and have thoughts/attitudes, be minded or disposed.” Literally, this entire phrase means “to think the same thing.” But what does this mean?

Contextually, the most important occurrences of φρονέω are in 2:2, where Paul says: “make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” This use of φρονέω in an appeal for unity parallels the use in 4:2. Euodia and Syntyche are being urged toward the same humility-based unity described in chapter 2. Although this most literally means having the same mindset, this mindset was supposed to influence both their inward dispositions and their outward actions, so that the church might remain unified and that the gospel might be effectively advanced. Therefore, we have translated this phrase “live in harmony.”

ἐν κυρίῳ: Euodia and Syntyche are not only to live in harmony with one another, but to do so in the Lord, that is, Christ Jesus. Euodia and Syntyche are to live in harmony because doing so is fitting and proper for those who have submitted themselves to Christ’s lordship. This points us back to 2:6-11, which spells out the kind of Lord they are called to submit to, and to 3:4-14, which gives us a real-life example of this submission.

Paul then address The Specific Means to the Desired Solution (in 4:3)

Having urged both Euodia and Syntyche toward the desired goal, Paul now enlists an unnamed “true companion” to help these women live in harmony, revealing the urgency of his exhortation in the previous verse. The “true companion” is to help these women because they have contended in the gospel’s cause along with Paul and other fellow gospel workers, who all have the promised inheritance of eternal life.

Who is this “True Companion”? – (γνήσιε σύζυγε)

Many different answers have been proposed to answer this question. Clement of Alexandria conjectured that this was Paul’s wife, whom Renan suggested was Lydia of Acts 16. Chrysostom said that this was the husband or brother of either Euodia or Syntyche. Some say Epaphroditus, others say Timothy. Others suggest Silas, Luke, the chief bishop at Philippi, Christ himself, or a person with the proper name Syzygus.[6]

However, according to O’Brien, the only tenable conclusion that we can presently come to is that this “true companion” was a well-known member of the Philippian church who partnered with Paul in the gospel’s cause, and who most likely possessed both tact and influence.[7]

But why should he help these women?

The reason why the “true companion” needs to help these women resolve their conflict is that they “have struggled together with [Paul] in [the cause of] the gospel,” revealing the link between their unity and the church’s effectiveness in advancing the gospel. This clause hearkens back to 1:27, where Paul urges the Philippians to “conduct [themselves] in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” by “standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” The verb used for “striving together” is the third person plural aorist active indicative form of συναθλέω, originally an athletic/gladiatorial metaphor meaning “to contend, struggle along with.” The sphere in which Euodia and Syntyche have struggled along with Paul is “in the gospel,” and the clear prediction of suffering in the gospel’s cause found in 1:30 explains why participation in it is described as such a battle.

In answer to our previous question, it is impossible today to know for sure what the conflict between Euodia and Syntyche entailed. However, we can ascertain that the main issue for Paul was the advance of the gospel through the Philippian church. Euodia and Syntyche’s important participation with Paul in the gospel mission is the basis for the urgency of his request for harmony. The problem needed to be resolved because a failure to do so would have impeded the gospel’s progress.


[1] Fee, 389.

[2] Ibid., 389-92.

[3] Hawthorne, 179.

[4] Fee, 390-91.

[5] O’Brien, 477-83.

[6] Hawthorne, 179-80.

[7] O’Brien, 481.

Church and State

I just read an article by Kevin DeYoung at The Gospel Coalition: “Thinking Theologically About Memorial Day”. Listen to his intro:

This post probably has something to make everyone unhappy. But here goes.

With Memorial Day on Monday (in the U.S.) and, no doubt, a number of patriotic services scheduled for this Sunday, I want to offer a few theses on patriotism and the church. Each of these points could be substantially expanded and beg more detailed defense and explanation, but since this is a blog and not a term paper, I’ll try to keep this under 1500 words.

DeYoung goes on to cover five main points:

  1. Being a Christian does not remove national and ethnic identities.
  2. Patriotism, like other earthly “prides,” can be a virtue or vice.
  3. Allegiance to God and allegiance to your country are not inherently incompatible.
  4. God’s people are not tied to any one nation.
  5. All this leads to one final point: while patriotism can be good, the church is not a good place for patriotism.

Overall, I really appreciate this attempt to arrive at a balance between those who simply baptize their American patriotism and call it Christianity and those who view every instance of patriotism as damnable idolatry. I loved DeYoung’s last paragraph: 

In some parts of the church, every hint of patriotism makes you a jingoistic idolater. You are allowed to love every country except your own. But in other parts of the church, true religion blends too comfortably into civil religion. You are allowed to worship in our services as long as you love America as much as we do. I don’t claim to have arrived at the golden mean, but I imagine many churches could stand to think more carefully about their theology of God and country. Churches should be glad to have their members celebrate Memorial Day with gusto this Monday. We should be less sanguine about celebrating it with pomp and circumstance on Sunday.

In the end, while I want to avoid the extreme position of viewing every form of patriotism as idolatry, I think that American Christians too often give unthinking allegiance and support to the country in which we live. Without demonizing the country in which we live, the amazing freedoms which we are able to enjoy, and the men and women who have sacrificed to secure and preserve those freedoms for us, we need to always remember that we, if we belong to Christ, are ultimately citizens of a greater Kingdom than the United States of America. DeYoung has this to say about the compatibility of allegiance to God and allegiance to one’s country:

If you read all that the New Testament says about governing authorities in places like Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2, you see that the normal situation is one of compatible loyalties. The church is not the state and the state is not God, but this does not mean the church must always be against the state. In general, then, it’s possible to be a good Christian and a good American, or a good Ghanaian or a good Korean. Patriotism is not bad. Singing your national anthem and getting choked up is not bad. Allegiance to God and allegiance to your country do not have to be at odds.

Correct, allegiance to God and allegiance to country do not have to be diametrically opposed. Christians should live as respectful citizens of their respective nations. However, do we really believe that Ghanaian and Korean Christians are every bit as good as American ones? I know everyone’s going to say “yes,” but do we really believe this? What if those Ghanaian and/or Korean Christians don’t like the United States of America? Are they still as pleasing to God in our eyes, or does their righteousness depend on their support of the Red, White, and Blue? Because a lot of what I have seen/heard/experienced in the American church seems to subtly teach that our country is the best and most deserving of God’s favor. I retweeted the following recently:

I’m waiting for the Iranian and N. Korean editions of the Patriot’s Bible. http://www.americanpatriotsbible.com.

Why does something like this have the potential to upset so many American Christians? “Iran and North Korea are clearly more morally evil than the United States,” some will say. Maybe so, but since when does our country get to claim the right of being God-approved? Can Christians in Ghana sing “God bless Ghana”? Perhaps our reactions to tweets/messages/statements like the one above only prove the problem.

Before someone calls me a heretic or an anti-American, please know that simply questioning the American church’s commitment to the USA does NOT immediately make me into someone who burns flags and pickets soldiers funerals. That would be swinging to the other end of the spectrum, and I do not believe that such a dichotomy exists. If someone does not give unquestioning allegiance to the USA, it does not mean that they automatically align themselves with the crazies over at Westboro Baptist Church.

I am a Christian.

I am also an American citizen. I obey the law, salute the flag, am respectful of the men and women in the armed forces, grateful for their sacrifices, and thankful for the fact that I live in a country where I can enjoy unparalleled freedoms (such as writing blog posts like this without having to fear for my life).

…but I do not give my ultimate allegiance to the American flag, or any other national standard for that matter. I pledge my ultimate allegiance to Jesus the Messiah. And while most Christians in the United States of America would nod their heads and agree with that previous statement, I think that we all need to consider whether we are living it out or not. Will our church services on Memorial Day reflect this?

May our eternal and infinite God bless his global bride, his global people, his global Church as Christians from every tribe, tongue, nation, and language follow their true King, Jesus the Messiah.

~Josh.

Christians and Wealth

The following is my essay on wealth and possessions submitted for Christian Worldview Integration:

Christians and Wealth

  1. Main Claim: American Christians should reduce their standards of living to what is necessary for human flourishing and give their excess resources beyond this standard to the poor and oppressed.
    1. God is the firmest advocate for human flourishing.
    2. The pursuit of wealth is spiritually dangerous and crippling.
    3. Our culture’s inclinations toward upward financial mobility go against the message of the New Testament and the life of Christ.
    4. God is revealed in Scripture to have a special concern for the poor and the oppressed.
    5. Christians will be held accountable for how they treat the poor and the oppressed.
  2. Objections:
    1. This line of reasoning is advocating asceticism and is unbiblical.
    2. Christians have every right to keep what they have earned and to do what they wish with their excess funds.
    3. Because the poor are lazy, Christians should not feel pressured to give, in case their generosity is taken advantage of.
  3. Warrant:
    1. Christians want to remain true to Scripture and submit to God’s way of life in order to find satisfaction.

In our current context of wealth and poverty existing side by side in a milieu of materialistic consumerism, the Christian gospel of denying ourselves and making much of God is being abandoned for the American gospel of denying others and making much of ourselves. American Christians have become content to live a baptized version of the American dream, a hollow faith that is about maximizing your earthly portfolio once your salvation is secured. My main contention is that Christians in the United States should lower their standards of living to what is necessary for human flourishing and give their excess resources beyond this standard to the poor. In doing so, they will remain faithful to Scripture and discover a more satisfactory way of life.

At this point some may claim that I am trying to advocate for a form of asceticism. While my claim might appear that way when viewed through our culture’s thick lens of materialistic consumerism, I believe that I am actually advocating for a more satisfactory way of life. God is revealed in Scripture to be the firmest advocate for human flourishing. That is, he desires what is truly best for his creation and his people. He created everything to be structurally good, and is currently in the process of redeeming the universe from its directional digression away from its intended God-exalting purposes. Things like hunger and poverty are on the chopping block in this redemptive mission. The standard to which everything is being drawn is not an eternally unsatisfying state of Spartan living and ascetic suffering. It is the eternally satisfying and rich state of glorifying God like creation was intended to. I am advocating for a return to standards of living necessary for human flourishing, realizing that this standard will vary greatly from person to person and culture to culture.[1] The problem is that what appears to be the standard of human flourishing to us is often quite damaging.

The Bible pulls no punches in describing the dangers of a materialistic pursuit of wealth. While money is nowhere declared to be intrinsically evil, Scripture makes it clear that we are all sin-stained creatures prone to greed and self-justification, and that an abundance of wealth and possessions makes it very hard to rise above our idolatrous inclinations and serve God well.[2] In addition, although it exceeds the scope of this essay, a strong argument can be made that our society’s pragmatic commitment to “getting ahead” is destroying our ability to experience genuine delight in the small things in life which do not increase our bottom line.[3] Despite our initial reactions, it appears as though what our culture is encouraging us to pursue is actually quite destructive to our ability to serve God well and genuinely enjoy life.

While the culture around us is calling us towards a lifestyle of upward financial mobility, “the emphasis of the New Testament lies not on the acquisition side of things…but on sacrifice and divestiture”.[4] The incarnation of Jesus is a clear example of the kind of God we serve, one who emptied himself of the riches of heaven in order to take on human flesh and demonstrate a fiercely sacrificial obedience that took him all the way to the cross. Although there is a big gap between kenosis and a Christian’s obligation to give to the poor, it nonetheless serves as an example of the kind of living we are called to by the gospel.  At the very least, it is reasonable to say that the life of Jesus the Messiah was an atrocious failure when judged by our society’s standards of materialistic consumerism, and yet as Christians we would all (presumably) confess that we are called to follow his example. Again, keep in mind that we are not all called to live ascetically and to spurn the legitimate pleasures of this life. However, one would be hard pressed to find biblical support for our culture’s view of wealth and success.

At this point we are all tempted to rebuff and claim that we have every right to keep all of what we have “earned” and do as we wish with our excess funds. However, the Bible presents us with the uncomfortable truth that everything we “own” is in fact owned by God and has been given to us to steward well.[5] A prosperous Christian is not an intrinsic oxymoron, and there are examples in Scripture of wealthy people who seem to have genuinely loved God and served him well. However, there is no example of person who selfishly viewed their possessions as their own, lived a lifestyle of extravagant wealth, and honored God by doing so. Even more uncomfortable is the fact that, if God expects us to follow his example in our stewardship of his resources, then we are faced with a strong biblical mandate to give generously to the poor and fight for their justice.

In my own experience, our culture’s stereotype of the poor consigns their condition to laziness. Evangelical Christians seem to use this stereotype to effectively avoid giving generously to the poor under the pretense of good stewardship and not wanting their giving to be taken advantage of by lazy individuals. With regards to being taken advantage of, Christians should perhaps be the most willing people to be taken advantage of in their giving. After all, we frequently take advantage of God’s grace in our own lives, and if he modeled the same attitude to us that we display to the poor, we would be in a sorry state of affairs.[6]

However, the biblical picture of the poor emphasizes their destitution, need, lack of resources, and suffering under oppression.[7] In contrast to our frequently apathetic response, God seems to have a bias to the poor. Karl Barth claimed that “God always takes his stand unconditionally and passionately on this side and this side alone: against the lofty and on behalf of the lowly; against those who enjoy right and privilege and on behalf of those who are denied it and deprived of it”.[8] Consider the biblical account. God intervened to save his people from the oppression and poverty they suffered in at the hands of the Egyptians.[9] He made his frustration at his people’s improper treatment of the impoverished known through the prophets.[10] Jesus the Messiah cited his own mission as one that was inextricably tied to the poor and oppressed.[11] The final judgment will be executed (at least partially so) with regards to the treatment (or mistreatment) of the poor.[12] Scripture makes it abundantly clear that God’s heart is for the impoverished, destitute, and oppressed.

As Christians, we must take seriously the words of our Savior that how we treat “the least of these” has serious import on how we treat and serve Christ himself. We must take the whole witness of Scripture into account and realize that the God we serve and whose resources we steward shows special concern for the poor and oppressed. We must be willing to acknowledge that our culture’s values of materialistic consumerism run against the grain of the gospel of “sacrifice and divestiture,” opening our eyes to the spiritual dangers of pursuing wealth and possessions. Above all, perhaps, we must be willing to eschew the idolatry in our hearts and trust that our Heavenly Father knows what is best for us and desires to see us truly flourish in our sacrifice and generosity. Then, and only then, will we be able to reduce our extravagant standards of living, give to the poor from our excess resources out of genuine generosity, and flourish as human beings by fulfilling our primary purpose: exalting and making much of our Maker.

Bibliography

Sider, Ronald. “God and the Poor.” Sider, Ronald. Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. Word Publishing, 1997.

—. “Toward a Simpler Lifestyle: The Graduated Tithe and Other Modest Proposals.” Sider, Ronald. Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. Word Publishing, 1997.

Wirzba, Norman. “The Decline of Delight.” Wirzba, Norman. Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight. Brazos, 2006. 64-75.

Witherington, Ben. “Deprogramming Ourselves from a Lifestyle of Conspicuous Consumption and Self-Gratification.” Witherington, Ben. Jesus and Money: A Guide for Times of Financial Crisis. Brazos, 2010. 153-169.

—. “Ten Christian Myths about Money.” Witherington, Ben. Jesus and Money: A Guide for Times of Financial Crisis. Brazos, 2010. 165-169.

—. “Towards a New Testament Theology of Money, Stewardship, and Giving.” Witherington, Ben. Jesus and Money: A Guide for Times of Financial Crisis. Brazos, 2010. 141-152.


[1] Providing a calculus for ascertaining where this standard lies on an individual basis exceeds the scope of this essay. In general terms, I am advocating for a standard of living that allows people to enjoy life with dignity within their particular context while avoiding extravagant excesses that come at the expense of others.

[2] Witherington, Towards a New Testament Theology of Money, Stewardship, and Giving

[3] Wirzba, The Decline of Delight

[4] Witherington, Deprogramming Ourselves from a Lifestyle of Conspicuous Consumption and Self-Gratification

[5] Witherington, Ten Christian Myths about Money

[6] This same point was said better and more emphatically by Professor John White (Cedarville University) in BEGE-3760 Christian Worldview Integration.

[7] Cf. personal research done from The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament and Wealth and Poverty in Proverbs (R.N. Whybray) for a separate paper.

[8] Barth, Church Dogmatics II/1 (T.&T. Clark, 1957), p. 387

[9] cf. Exodus 3:7-9

[10] cf. Isaiah 10:1-3; Jeremiah 5:26-29; 7:5-7; Amos 2:7; 4:1; 5:10-15; 6:4-7; Micah 2:2

[11] cf. Luke 4:16-21

[12] cf. Matthew 25:31-46

"A Valediction…"

Pastor Crawford, Mr. Flamm, Mr. Luring,
Members of the School Committee,
Mr. Barrows, Faculty,
Parents, Guests,
and Members of the Class of 2009…

GRADUATION!
Such a mix of emotions comes with this simple word…

Students are exhilarated to finally be done with yet another chapter of their lives.
Parents are also excited, yet saddened perhaps by the fact that their little babies are now about to embark into the real world.
Faculty are relieved to get such a motley group of troublemakers out of their school!
Guests are happy to watch it all come together in one orchestrated ceremony,
which is customarily concluded by a farewell address from the graduating valedictorian,
A poor individual who must say goodbye
while also addressing all parties and emotions involved,
all within the space of a short speech.

Fortunately, Mrs. Covrett, my English teacher, taught me that poetry is the language of both emotion and economy.

Earlier this year, amidst the trials and tribulations of AP English Literature and Composition, we read a poem entitled “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning.”
This poem, written by John Donne about a love that transcends physical separation between him and his beloved, inspired me to compose my own work in the interests of avoiding both triteness and plagiarism on this most auspicious occasion.

John Donne forbade his beloved from openly mourning his departure. While I do not think it fitting for me to forbid anyone anything, please indulge me a few moments of your time as we look both back at the past and ahead into the future by way of my poem, entitled:

“A VALEDICTION”
by: Joshua P. Steele

The years, a road before us
This school, the path behind
And who can know what lies ahead?
The twists and turns we’ll find

Our time, it passes swiftly,
This life will soon be gone
When we look back upon our days,
What is it we’ll have done?

The world has many pleasures
its riches and its fame
Yet none of these are lasting treasures
for all face death the same

We’ve all one life to use now,
Our time will soon be past
And though this world will pass away,
What’s done for Christ will last.

For years, we’ve learned and grown here,
a foundation has been laid.
The future looms before us now,
a choice has to be made:

To waste our lives upon ourselves?
To build on sinking sand?
Or found ourselves upon the Rock,
Who holds us in His hands?

The choice may seem quite simple now,
as though the battle’s won,
but day by day, the world cries out
“Don’t fret! Go play! Have fun!”

Our lives will have their share of joy,
Good gifts from God each day.
But don’t be fooled, there’s pain as well
There’s bumps along our way.
Should we be scared? Can we succeed?
Is there hope amidst the fear?
Will we press on? or stop to heed
those voices in our ear:

“Turn back! This way is difficult!
It’s much too hard for you!
Too frightening, there’s no comfort there,
You’ll never make it through!”

Don’t stop! Press on! For don’t we know?
and have not we been told?
It’s only through the fire
You obtain the purest gold.

We have a God in Heaven
A Father and a Guide
He gives the strength to carry on
To those who would reside

in Him. we find our purpose
In Him we find the way
to live our lives unwasted
,to boldly face each day.

For He alone knows how much time
we have to walk the road
And He alone knows every trial,
The weight of each our loads

Though high school is now over
We’ve so much more to do!
The door has been flung-open,
and now we must walk through–

We’ll miss the loving people here
Who’ve helped us on our way.
Though time and distance come between,
Our thankfulness won’t fade.

So, Mom and Dad, we thank you for
The time and love you give.
You’ve been there through our best and worst
To show us how to live.

Our teachers, better mentors
We would be hard-pressed to find.
They’ve taught us both to seek the Truth
And always guard our minds.

So many more deserve our thanks,
Yet words cannot convey
The boundless debt of gratitude
That we should rightly pay.

And now we say “farewell”
“Goodbye,” as we depart.
One journey ends, another’s here
on which we must embark.

"Letter from a Grateful Son"

by:  me 🙂

Thank you, Mom, for having me
that day so long ago.
Thank you, then, for holding me
and now for letting go.
Thank you, Mom for giving me
your patience, time, and care.
And thank you, Mom, for loving me
for always being there –

Thanks so much for teaching me
both how to read and write.
For every single grueling day
and every sleepless night.
Thank you, Mom, for aiming high,
for helping me succeed.
For never letting me forget
that you believe in me.

Mom, you mean so much to me.
My words cannot convey
The debt of love, of care-filled work
That I should rightly pay.
Though distance, time, and life itself
may take me far away,
I’ll always be your little boy
with these three words to say –

“I love you.”