Monday, March 27, 2017

Sermon Recap for March 26

Good afternoon! Here is yesterday’s sermon. Last night didn’t video well, so it’s not here.

The sermon was from Luke 4. Here’s a link to the audio.

Here’s the video:


And here’s the outline:

What Home Needs

What Home Needs

Doug Hibbard / General

Luke 4:14–21

Context

Luke 4:14–21 NASB95

And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed, To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus’ first sermon in Nazareth

Just after the temptations

Following His baptism

Isaiah 61:1–2 NASB95

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,

Concept

The Preached Word does not negate the acted

The Prophesied Messiah understood His purpose

Consequences

1. Know the Old Testament (Seriously: same God, same character of the same God)

2. Find the afflicted, the brokenhearted, the captives

a. In all forms

b. Economically

c. Emotionally

d. Mentally

e. Socially

f. Physically

g. Spiritually

3. Match the proclamation with the action

4. Live in God’s Favor

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fathers and Factions: 1 Corinthians 4

In Summary:
Having worked through the basic problems in the church at Corinth, Paul begins in 1 Corinthians 4 to build the correction necessary. As he starts that process, though, he has to address one other aspect of the existing problem. Since he has addressed, rather sternly, the factions rising among the church at Corinth, how does he address the problem without adding to it?

After all, one of the “factions” follows Paul (1 Corinthians 1:12), so if everyone listens to Paul, then doesn’t that faction “win” the dispute? Paul recognizes that there are no winners in church conflict—if everyone is on Biblical grounds or if no one is, then “winning” is not the end. He is advocating for unity and forward work by the church not on the grounds of his faction being right, but on the grounds of being good stewards of God’s truth.

That is the opening of this chapter: follow the Word of God and let God be the judge, not the people. God will, after all, bring everything to judgment in its time (1 Corinthians 4:5). He goes on to highlight that the church is where the immaturity is found, because he and Apollos are in unity together as serving Jesus. The problem is not in the heroes of the factions. It’s in the people that make up the factions themselves.

In Focus:
For a focus, look, though, at 1 Corinthians 4:14. Paul highlights that his goal is not to shame the people, but to warn them. He expresses that he wants to warn them, with the love of a father. The rest of that paragraph sees Paul highlight that he is not one of several teachers for that church, but is one of few fathers that church had. 

His purpose, then, should be rightly understood: he has no desire to embarrass, belittle, or attack the church. He wants the church to thrive and grow, just as any father would want for his children. Please note this: Paul makes the assumption of righteous fathers, as God the Father is His template for fatherhood, not the behaviors of any specific person. 

In Practice:
In light of Paul’s approach to the Corinthians, we should see our approach to the problems in our own churches in the same manner. First, of course, there is instruction here for church leaders. If your approach to difficulties in the church is to exert your authority and straighten out those ‘bad guys,’ no matter the results to them, you are wrong.

After all, you may not be right. But even if you are certainly right, there is a way to address the problem which is restorative and redemptive and not vicious or mean. Paul is going on from this point in Corinthians very directly and pulls no punches. Being restorative and redemptive, with the compassion of a father, does not mean neglecting correction.

It does mean remembering that, when it’s all done, you are supposed to remain in good fellowship and community with your fellow believers. So act like it.

Second, our approach to handling conflict and disagreement within the body. Every time, we should first ask if the truth is at stake or in evidence—Paul’s about to bring one of those examples to the fore in chapter 5, where someone is wrong—and if not, then be cautious. That includes being wary if our approach assumes that we are the wise one and the other person is a fool. 

Doubly so if the person you are treating as a fool has been walking with Jesus longer than you have. Those who have gone before still make mistakes, but there is a difference in an error and a fool.

So, practically speaking, remember that Jesus is the only one who judges perfectly (v. 4-5) and that our evaluations are going to lack that perfection. Further, always work toward reconciliation when the disagreements are of a personality and preference nature. (True physical and spiritual dangers are another matter, one that Paul will address later.)

If we are not willing to see one another as family in need of healing instead of adversaries, we will do damage to the cause and purpose of Christ Jesus!

In Nerdiness:
First nerd point: 1 Corinthians 4:15 is a statement of history in Corinth. It is NOT and should never be taken as an affront to teaching in the church. I have heard some say they would rather be a “father” than a “teacher” in the church. In that case, go plant a church and teach it, then you, like Paul, will be a “father.” He is expressing his connection. Not demoting the importance of teaching.


Second nerd point: just because someone is a servant does not entitle others to treat as low. Serving is the call of the believer.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sermon Recap for March 19

Here is what you'll find: after each sermon title, there's an "audio" link that allows you to play or download that sermon's audio file. Then there should be an embedded Youtube Link to the sermon.

If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/east-end-baptist-church/id387911457?mt=2 for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here: http://www.eebcar.com/sermons/feed

The video is linked on the East End Baptist Church web page here: http://www.eebcar.com/sermons-2/ or on my personal Youtube Page here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJBGluSoaJgYn6PbIklwKaw?view_as=public

Thanks!

Good Evening! Here are the sermons from yesterday (March 19):

Morning Sermon: Luke 1:1-4 (audio)


Evening Sermon: Amos (audio)


Morning Sermon’s Outline:

History Matters

History Matters

Doug Hibbard / General

Luke 1:1–4

Context

Luke’s Authorship

Luke’s life

Ministry with Paul

Theophilus

Name: Friend of God

Real or literary?

Probably Real

Concept

Truth can withstand examination

Learning is an aid to faith

Research is worth doing to get the answers right

Consequences

Truth demands a Response

Put Aside Falsehoods

Proclaim the Risen Christ

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ruinous Ruins: Joshua 7


In Summary:
Jericho has been destroyed. There is, effectively, nothing left. Except for a few items added to the “treasury of the house of YHWH” (Joshua 6:24,) a curious statement that deserved to be included in last time’s Nerd Note. Nothing is left! Well, Rahab is left, alongside her family as evidence of the grace of God.

So, the people of Israel decide that the next target should not take up everybody’s time. It is the city of Ai, a name which means “ruin” in the original language. (My blog won’t quite render the Hebrew ayin-yodh, which would be done as “ay” these days.) It’s an interesting name for a language that we talk about having no vowels. That’s not important right now.

What is important is the overall context of the chapter. The record shows that “the people of Israel broke faith” because one man, Achan, took some of the items devoted to the Lord. Joshua is unaware of this, and so sends spies to check out the city of Ai. They go, report that the city is ripe for the taking, and suggest a light strike force go up and take it. Joshua agrees with the spies, sends a few thousand, and they are defeated by the people of Ai.

That sets back the Israelites, almost to the point of despair. Their first response is that God has abandoned them. Then, God responds by pointing out that the people have sinned and how they must repent if they want to see His blessing. After that, the Israelites all go to Ai and destroy the city. 

In Focus:

The focal point of this chapter is Joshua 7:10. Joshua has called out, with all the people, to God over the result of the first attack on Ai. They are blaming God for their failure, even though it is the sin of the people that is at fault.

God is not impressed with their claims of sadness and is certainly not willing to take the blame for the Israelites’ sin. That sin has negative results is the nature of sin. It is not the fault of God. Sin would be sin—the universe which God has made is built around His holy nature. Sin damages the good He has made. Therefore the Israelites are responsible for the results.

In Practice:

At this point, you can probably guess the first practical. That is this: your sin has a negative effect against not only yourself but also against those around you. That’s an important part to remember: your actions affect others.

The next practical point I would make is this: it is not God’s responsibility when our sin brings us into trouble. Take, for example, the ill-effects of drinking too much alcohol. It is not God’s fault when drunkenness causes you to oversleep and lose your job. That is the results of your own sin. 

We also need to look at Joshua 7:1 and consider what it means: we tend to blame Achan as if the rest of Israel wasn’t involved. But the verse is clear that the people acted unfaithfully. Not just one person, but the people as a group did. When we tolerate sin in our midst, we become partners with the ones who actually commit the sins. Then, consider why our churches are not as effective as we would like, why our preaching isn’t moving people, why we have no ability to draw people to Jesus. It is because we have evidently and clearly brought sin alongside ourselves as if it was a friend.

We must remember that living in obedience is not just optional. It is necessary if we are going to walk well with Jesus.

In Nerdiness:
Nerd point number 1? Ai is another town that the archaeology is a bit challenging with the Biblical record. Now, how we handle that matters: we cannot ignore either the Biblical record or the archaeology. I won’t try to settle that here. But it takes more than just a glossing over.

Nerd point number 2: we have a question to deal with regarding the execution of not only Achan but his whole family. This feels like overkill to most of us, but God has a purpose in it. I don’t think we are in a good position to determine if God was right to command this. But we can say that, as justice and morality develop and are informed by God’s Word, we see things through a different lens. Looking back through Jesus’ death on the Cross, we see that Jesus died in our place for those sins which deserve death at the hands of God.

Sorting out how that works for God’s justice and the dispensing of justice at human hands is, of course, a matter for much longer writings.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Curiosity and the Faithlife Study Bible

Good morning! Today I want to take a look at the NIV Faithlife Study Bible. Rather than spend the whole post on this particular Study Bible, I’m going to hit a couple of highlights and then draw you through a few questions that I think this format helps with.



First, the basics of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible (NIVFSB, please): the translation is the 2011 New International Version from Biblica. I’m not the biggest fan of that translation, but that’s for another day. It is a translation rather than a paraphrase, which is important for studying the Bible. Next, the NIVFSB is printed in color. Why does that matter? This version developed with Logos Bible Software’s technology and much of the “study” matter is transitioning from screen to typeface. The graphics, maps, timelines, and more work best with color. Finally, you’ve got the typical “below-the-line” running notes on the text. Most of these are explanations of context or highlights of parallels, drawing out the facts that we miss by not living in Bible times and living in Bible languages. I’ve got a hardcover, and it feels pretty sturdy. The pages are thick enough to not bleed through too much, but at 2264 pages, they are still a bit thin so that this fits in a 2-inch book.

Now, let’s think about the Bible in general. One of the goals of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible is to drive reader curiosity about the Bible in general. Why does that matter?
I think curiosity about the Bible is part of what keeps us coming back, and as such it’s a method God uses to keep us learning. With books that we have fully understood, we don’t go back very much. I’m no longer curious about that cat in his hat…so I don’t read that one much anymore. But the Bible? Even apart from the fact of my Christian faith, it’s a fascinating book. Written across centuries by multiple authors, we have a book that has driven mankind both to kill one another and to sacrifice their lives in the service of one another. How does that not pique the curiosity?


And then there are the family dynamics and how everything relates, one to another, within the Bible. How does it fit within the fullness of human history? Do we notice the alignment of Jonah’s preaching in Ninevah with changes in the Assyrian Empire? 

Then there is the question of various points of view and the Word of God. We have a challenge in dealing with bringing the meaning of the text through to the modern day without losing what God intended. For example, how should Christians view the Old Testament? What do we do with dietary laws or festival rules? What about the Name of God, which some go ahead and pronounce and use and others decline to even write?

These are some of the areas where differing viewpoints help us study better. Some study helps are written specifically from a single viewpoint. That’s fine, if you know what you are getting. But what about Acts 16:7? Junia, Junias, apostle, Apostle? What do we do with that?
That is another good thing I’m finding in the NIV-FSB. Many points where Christians who take the Bible seriously are approached allowing multiple points-of-view. 

In all, the study aids, infographics, and additional content of the NIV-FSB help feed the curious student of the Bible. There are more academic aids elsewhere as well as more practical ones, but this one strikes the middle of the pack as helping answer questions but still driving the reader to the text of the Word of God for many of the answers.

I like that result. A lot.

Now, some important notes: 1. The Faithlife Study Bible is from the same people who make Logos Bible Software. I have spent enough with them that they could send me a free car and they’d still be ahead. But they sent me this Bible for free. 2. What they sent is essentially the dead-tree version of what is already in my library digitally. 3. I use Logos, Faithlife.com, and Proclaim, all products from this company.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Building Projects: 1 Corinthians 3

In Summary:
Paul continues his instruction to the Corinthians using the parallel of constructing a building. Historically, cities are alike in this basic reality: there are always construction projects. Modern America may see highways being built more often than buildings, but the process is the same idea. Foundations are laid, work is done to build on that foundation, and then the results are visible.
First, though, Paul had to begin correcting problems in the Corinthian church. They lacked the maturity to build on in the first place. The division within the church had to be addressed before the true building on the church can begin. And keep in mind: he’s using a physical building as a parallel. This is not about a lovely, ornate structure in brick and stucco. 1 Corinthians 3:4-5 highlights the problem: there was an adherence to personalities over the Person of Jesus.
The remainder of the chapter turns toward the Corinthians and how they are the Temple of God. One can imagine the situation: Corinth is home to many temples, to many gods, as most of the cities of the Roman Empire were. As the Christians grew in number and began to see converts leave those temples and join them in the worship of the One True God, the questions start to come: When do we build our temple, like the temples here in Corinth? If our God is the real God, we need to build something more amazing than even what they have in Athens!
Paul’s response is here. The people of God are His temple.
In Focus:
1 Corinthians 3:16 should draw our focus in this chapter. Paul’s argument makes the turn here because without this verse one could mistake the opening half of the chapter as recruiting high-value gifts for the building of a physical building. The further concepts presented, of using gold and precious stones instead of wood, hay, and stubble, present the idea that this building should be fire-resistant. That is not Paul’s point.
The point is that the people of God are the Temple of God. The Corinthians needed to understand that they needed no new buildings to contain the presence of their new God. He dwelt, through his Spirit, in each one of them. The precious gemstones come from the obedience of each believer to the Lord Jesus Christ. In this, we also see Paul affirm that those who are saved remain saved, as 1 Corinthians 3:15 is a fairly clear statement that a believer’s work, their life, may be of such low quality that it will all be destroyed, but that person will still be saved.
In Practice:
What do we do about it?
We could respond by destroying all of our church buildings without asking about why we have them. If we mistake the church for “God’s house,” then it does become a potential stumbling block. We need to understand that church buildings are tools God allows us for specific purposes, that they are resources for His people to use for His mission. It’s not a Temple of any sort. Pick a tool that has value but can get worn out, and realize that’s what we’ve got.
That, though, should be obvious. The real issue is not “what is not being said” but actually “what is being said?” So, what is being said?
First, our lives are wound together. Paul consistently interchanges the use of singular and plural words here, reflecting that God indwells the individual believer but that our Christian experience is neither independent nor isolated. We are intended to be in community together, forming a grander temple of the presence God than any one of us could be alone.
Second, our work matters. There is a disconnect at times in Christian’s minds where we act like God will do everything and we have no responsibility to act. That’s nonsense. While we cannot work our way to God’s presence nor win His salvation—only through the death and resurrection of Jesus do we have that!—we still hold the responsibility to honor God through working for His kingdom.
And that work matters enough for God to judge it and reward it.
In Nerdiness:
This isn’t really nerdy, but take a look at the ending verses of this chapter. 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 reflect a mindset that we have problems with these days as well. Who do we belong to? Too often, we adhere to the ones that have helped us follow Christ. And we do that to their dismay (I think) as much to our detriment. We all belong to Christ and therefore, He is the center of what we do. Remember your inspirations with fondness, but keep your allegiance focused on Jesus.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Sermon Recap for March 12

Good morning! Here are the sermons from yesterday. Well, here’s the sermon from yesterday. Last night was an interesting mingle of quesitons and discussions like “Why do we let pugnacious men be deacons if they are the husband of one wife, but not men who meet everything in Titus or 1 Timothy except the one-wife thing?” and “Adam and Eve…and who is the ‘other’ parent for their grandchildren?"

You know, fun stuff.

More fun than trying to thread the needle in preaching on divorce—making clear that divorce is a reality and is forgivable if you wanted it and not a sin if you didn’t, while at the same time being clear that God’s Word commands that we honor marriage vows.

We took that from Mark 10. Here’s the audio link. Below the video is the outline.


Marriage

Marriage

Doug Hibbard / General

Mark 10:1–12; Genesis 2:4–24

Marriage as Designed by God

Context

Excuses for abandoning covenants

Hardness of our hearts

Concept

Marriage is Created for companionship

Humanity is Created for community

Consequences

a. Honor your covenants

b. Seek godly community—marriages grow from that

c. Reject cultural degradation of God’s design

Page . Exported from Logos Bible Software, 9:51 AM March 13, 2017.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Threaded Walls: Joshua 6

In Summary:

The story of the Battle of Jericho is fairly well known. Joshua 6 presents us with the Israelites following the orders of the “commander of the army of YHWH” that Joshua met in Joshua 5:13-15. The orders are in the first few verses of Joshua 6, and then the Israelites follow those orders. (Practically speaking Joshua 5:13 marks the beginning of the narrative unit more than 6:1 does, and is a good evidence of why a strict chapter-by-chapter approach breaks down.)

Joshua leads the people to march around the city, once. Then, they return to their camp. This is done on six consecutive days. On the seventh day, the men of Israel march around the city seven times. At a musical cue, the people shout, the walls fall down, and Jericho falls to the invading Israelites. The Israelites are commanded to destroy everything in the city, which leaves us with no moral questions. They are also commanded to kill everyone in the city, which does leave us with some serious moral questions. I’ve never met an answer to those questions that I fully like, and the ones that come closest will easily convert a blog post into a book. We will leave it as an open question for now. 

Jericho ends the chapter destroyed, Rahab ends the chapter saved, and Joshua’s fame is growing. (Joshua 6:27)

In Focus:
For a focal verse, look back first at Joshua 2:18 and then come forward to Joshua 6:23. The men who had promised Rahab deliverance placed a condition on their promise. She was to hang a scarlet rope from the window of her home, to mark the family to be spared. It is, first of all, reminiscent of the marking of the Israelite’s homes in Egypt during the Passover.

Second, though, it marked a place of salvation among the devastation. In all of the chaos, there remained one safe space. It was the home of Rahab. The place that many, likely, avoided by habit became the one place to be.

Finally, it is worth noting that Rahab and family are initially placed “outside the camp” of Israel (Joshua 6:23). They were saved, but the people of God were not entirely sure what to do next. In time, we see Rahab come to live in the midst of Israel (v. 25) by the time of the final editing of Joshua’s narrative.
In Practice:
What is there to be done about this? After all, none of us are invading walled cities these days. Especially not as part of God’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery. So, first a few things that are on the “not to-do list.” First, do not march around someone’s house in hopes the walls fall down. That misses the point of loving even your enemies. (Matthew 5:44) Additionally, one should not assume that God will work the same way again—He knocked down precisely zero other walls in this matter. Second, it is worth remembering that we have the complete Word of God in our hands. There are practical instructions enough that we do not need to go looking for angels with messages these days.

Now, on the to-do list:

1. Remember that no matter how devastated an area looks, there are still people there who the grace of God can reach. Rahab was possibly the least savable of all these people, and yet God had a plan for her. Keep your eyes looking for the threads of grace to find those who will heed His message. The amazing thing about the grace of God is that He has no limit on how many people the thread can stretch to.

2. There is, however, a necessity for the one true thread to be there. Rahab had a specific fabric to use, and there was no imitation possible. The same is true of the Gospel: it is the fact of Jesus’ death on the cross, His burial, and His resurrection that makes salvation possible. Not anything else—and if any idea suggests that salvation is possible without these, it’s a false thread that leads to destruction. Not a viable substitute.

3. The other side of the coin: in the devastation, leave the mess. There are ideas, attitudes, and behaviors that belong only on the rubble heap to be burned. Along with the beliefs that underlie this trash. There is no sense in trying to save them. Pile them up and let them go. And let the person who brings such ideas back into the vogue be accursed—whether they are false gods of materialism or false gods of racism or abuse or any of the thousands of wicked ends mankind has hatched in the centuries. Burn it. Let it never return, at all costs.

In Nerdiness:
First nerd part: the Zondervan NIV Study Bible presents a take on Jericho and Ai that I have not seen—they suggest that Jericho, Ai, and some of the other locales are possibly military forts rather than complete cities at the time of the Conquest. This would account for the lack of archaeological evidence of massive cities in those locations. It would also soften the ethical problems of the conquest: you are then not dealing with a massive civilian slaughter. Instead, you are destroying the entire military and, by extension, scaring the civilian population out. I have not seen this in my other resources, so I won’t push it hard, but it is worth contemplation. If the language/history holds up, that would be a good thing.

Second nerd part: remember that there is debate between defining Rahab as an “innkeeper” or a “harlot.” Suffice it to say that her life becomes very different on learning about the One True God. Focus on her Savior, not her past.

Third nerd part: Joshua 6:26 and 1 Kings 16:34. A good thought for a long-term study is all the distance covered in the life of Israel between Jericho and Jericho.


Fourth nerd part: there are significant archaeological issues with dating the events of this passage and the evidence in the dirt on the city of Jericho. I will not untie that knot here. But do some reading—Archaeology and Bible History by Joseph Free is a good starting point. McRay and Hoerth’s Bible Archaeology is another good beginning resource. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A bit about the Southern Baptist Convention

Since this blog is one source of information for my church about the wider world, I thought it might be prudent to give a bit of an update about what’s going on in our denominational life. We’re a Southern Baptist Church, so what the SBC does has an effect on us.

For example, when the SBC sends missionaries to carry the Gospel around the world, we’re a part of that. That’s a good thing. When the SBC does things that are silly or nonsensical, well, that affects us as well.

Now, the fun part of this interconnectedness is that there is no solid line of control, either from the SBC to the church or from the church to the SBC. The first is because, well, Jesus is in charge of the church. Dr. Frank Page, SBC Executive Committee president, and Dr. Steve Gaines, current president of the SBC, are both pretty good men. (I’ll admit to liking Dr. Page as a preacher and a leader better, but that’s another story.) But neither of them can tell any local church what to do. They can say, plainly, what they think the Bible says, but can do nothing to force a church to comply. That’s a good thing.

The other side is more odd. As one church in the SBC, our control is limited to the number of people we can send to the annual meeting and vote. Our influence is a bit wider because we can voice opinions and contact people who work for the SBC throughout the year. But there’s no real way to force a compliance. If our church sends the maximum messenger count to the meeting, we have 12 votes. Out of several thousand people.

So, first, we have to keep in mind how the SBC as a whole works. Second, we have to understand how each group works. For example, Lifeway Christian Resources (which owns Lifeway Christian Stores) is an SBC “entity.” We use the term “entity” for the various separate organizations the SBC owns and directs. But we direct these by electing trustees. Those trustees then hire a CEO or President for the organization who runs that entity.

Taking Lifeway as our example, the trustees were elected by the Southern Baptist Convention (from members of participating churches, approximately a third are elected each year, 3-year term, can be re-elected once). Those trustees, in the past, selected Thom Rainer to be the CEO of Lifeway. Every year since then, it is the responsibility of the trustees to determine if Dr. Rainer is doing his job well enough to keep it or not.

So, if Lifeway does something we don’t like, I can’t fire Dr. Rainer. Even if we gather a large coalition of churches to get their messengers to vote on it in June, it still falls to the trustees to handle it. That allows the leadership of entities to work through the mood swings we sometimes have in churches.

Mood swings? Instead of church, I’ll use Razorback Basketball as an example. About 3 weeks ago, listening to sportstalk radio in Little Rock, you’d have thought Mike Anderson was a terrible coach. The Hogs had lost a few games, some badly, and there was talk that his time needed to end.

Then, there was someone who highlighted the statistics of the basketball program under Anderson. It showed that we were in the top third or so of teams in our conference over the last five years. That’s long enough to run through several recruiting cycles. And remember, Kentucky is out there scooping up first-round NBA draft talent. We’re not going to be #1 against them every year. (plus, the comparisons to perennial powerhouses like Duke and Kansas aren’t exactly fair.)

Then, the Hogs won several games in a row. Now, we’re back to thinking we’ve got a great coach and the future is bright. Mood swings. Happens in church work and denominational work as well. David Platt, for example, leads the IMB (International Missions BoarD) for the SBC. 2 years ago, they had to make major, hard changes to balance the budget. People screamed at him and for his head. But let this year show a good budget, missionary appointments, and effectiveness for proclaiming the Gospel.

We’ll all be happy.

So, trustee boards insulate that. They are elected, supposedly prayerfully, from God-honoring people in churches that preach the truth.

It makes change take time. At the same time, it means that change is possible. But you have to want it bad enough to work through that system. In theory, our claim is that this allows all participating churches, whether big, small, rich, poor, to have a fairly equal footing.

Is that true? Well, we have to reprove that every so often. So that question is valid to ask and keep asking.

Which is part of what we use the Internet for in the SBC. To ask that question.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Empowered Wisdom: 1 Corinthians 2

In Summary:

Paul carries into the meat of his first letter to the Corinthians with a look back at what brought him to Corinth in the first place. We know from Acts 18 that Paul came to Corinth from Athens. He was alone at the time, because Acts 18:5 indicates that Silas and Timothy caught up with him in Corinth a bit later.

From there, we have Paul’s overall explanation about the wisdom of God as revealed in Christ Jesus. He uses the term “mystery” in 1 Corinthians 2:7, using an idea that many people in Corinth would understand. Generally speaking, most people recognized that there were mysteries to be understood. Paul places the answer to that mystery in Christ Jesus. There is also a worthwhile diversion in 1 Corinthians 2:8 that points out how missing the mystery led to the crucifixion of Jesus.

In Focus:
Let us take for our focus 1 Corinthians 2:5. Paul leads up to this verse by essentially denigrating his own work and preaching in Corinth. By his evaluation, he was not persuasive nor strong in his words there. Instead, he was weak and afraid.

The Holy Spirit, though, demonstrated His power in the life of Paul and people came to faith in Christ. Acts does not record any specific miracles associated with Paul’s preaching in Corinth (like we have for Philippi in Acts 16:16-18). Instead, we are left to fill n that the people saw that evidence in individual lives. I would be inclined to fill in the blank with the Spirit-driven miracles of life transformation as much as any other sign-type miracles. After all, there would have been no better demonstration of the Spirit than people abandoning the typical debauchery of Corinth for a life modeled after Jesus.

The primary point, though, is that Paul recognized that the work in Corinth was not of his own doing. This connects back to the division in the church seen in 1 Corinthians 1:11-13. People in Corinth were overlooking that it was not Paul or Apollos who had saved them or even truly started the church there. It was a work of Christ through the Holy Spirit.

In Practice:
First of all, we should take from this the importance of prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit for what we do. Without the power of God, we are reliant on the cleverness and wisdom of men. Guess where that leaves your local church? In a bad place. Your pastors and teachers are inadequate to the task of solving all of it. Cry out to Jesus first.

Second, make sure that your faith rests on the foundation of the power of God. Paul celebrated his own shortcomings because it kept people from basing their faith on him. Where is your faith? It should be focused on the God who you serve, not on His servants. If your faith is based on how amazing your preacher is, most likely you are in trouble. 

Third, the source of our growth in following Jesus is based in the same place. Always start with Jesus and His Word. The question should never begin with “what will people think?” but always with “what does God say?” From there, we go forward into learning with the help of other people. The first place, the foundation, is God’s power to reveal Himself to us.

Now, the next angle of application goes in the other direction. At times, we are not the learner but the teacher. When that occurs, make it a point that you will do the best that you can but your ultimate reliance in on Jesus. In other words, while you ought to be a good steward and do well while you teach, preach, etc., do not rely on your cleverness. Instead, fully rely on God’s power to bring your hearers to a full understanding. It is worth remembering that you do not have the power to change people. God does. Teach, preach so that they will hear from Him.

This goes even stronger for witnessing to those without Christ. Cleverness wins arguments. Wisdom and persuasion win arguments. The power of God wins souls. What are you trying to win? Let God work through you to win souls.

In Nerdiness:
This chapter, when taken with Acts 17 and Acts 18, is often used to fill in more of a story about Paul than we have definite evidence for. I’ve heard it said that the reason Paul came without persuasive words was because of his “failure” at Mars Hill in Athens. We see this event in Acts 17, but I think it’s a wash as to whether or not it was truly a failure. Perhaps Paul was simply led by the Spirit to simplify his preaching in Corinth. He may have felt the Corinthians were too far afield in their thought processes to deal with complex arguments.

Or it could be that Paul arrived in Corinth beaten down by Athens. But it’s not definite.


The other key point for this section comes in 1 Corinthians 2:16. No one knows the mind of the Lord to teach God anything, but if we allow the Spirit to mature us, we will have the mind of Christ—something Paul brings out again in Philippians 2.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sermon Recap for March 5

Good evening! Here is yesterday morning’s sermon. Last night was a bit meandering amid answering questions and such. There is also a link to the sermon delivered at the Tri-County Men’s Retreat. A word of warning: it’s a bit long and the audio was open-mic recorded rather than direct recorded. So, it’s a bit noisy.

Morning Sermon came from Mark 6:33-34. The Audio is here (click the link and listen or download.)

Video is here:

Audio from the Men’s Retreat on 2 Peter 1:5-8 is here (click the link and listen or download).

Useless and Unfruitful

Useless and Unfruitful

Doug Hibbard / Men

TriCounty Men's Retreat 2017 / 2 Peter 1:5–8

2 Peter 1:5-8

2 Peter 1:5–8 NASB95

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Practices to Build

Dilligence

Moral virtue

As people learn to do good, so they will soon stop doing evil. If anyone does not do so his knowledge of heavenly things disappears as if in a vacuum. Self-control requires steadfastness, because whoever has learned to stay away from the pleasures of this world needs the willpower to go on doing so. The person who reaches that point of self-discipline may truly be called godly. (Bede, 7th c.)

Knowledge

Principles to Hold

Self-control

Perseverance

Godliness

Kindness (Philadelphia!)

The only context in which godliness has any meaning is that of brotherly love. You cannot win people to Christ merely by arguing them into the kingdom. It is necessary to practice godliness by prayer and good works. Charity here means the love of God, because we cannot love God without loving our neighbor, nor can we love our neighbor without loving God. The love of God is greater than the love of our neighbor, which is why we have to practice it with all our heart, mind and strength. (Bede, 7th c.)

Love

Prequalified to Serve

Useless vs Useful

Unfruitful vs fruitful

Prerequisite for it all

Faith in Christ is the foundation

Nothing without the Holy Spirit

Page . Exported from Logos Bible Software, 7:22 PM March 6, 2017.

July 5 Service Recap

Good morning! Here are the service recaps from last week. First we’ll see the morning services, both the 9 AM and the 11 AM, then there will...