Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Repent: 2 Corinthians 7

In Summary:
Remember that Paul has written the Corinthians before this letter and that he has also been there. We are dealing with a slice of the history of their interactions. Added into that, we must consider that the Corinthians have both written and spoken to Paul, with other verbal messages sent via trustworthy messengers. 

In short, we must admit there will be times when Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians will be a bit obscure and many times when we are looking at the far end of a discussion. A header like the NASB uses here, “Paul Reveals His Heart,” can lead us to short-change this, thinking that the Corinthians did not understand Paul before they got this letter. Rather, let us take 2 Corinthians 7 as evidence of the generally human nature of Paul’s relationship with the churches he started. 

It is true, though, that this chapter helps reveal Paul’s heart. That revelation is to us, though, as it is more of a reminder to the Corinthians. They had seen his conflicts and depression (v.5) and been up close and personal to his struggles. They knew his heart, but the absence of Paul and the presence of trouble had raised questions. He had been direct, perhaps even harsh, and that led to questions about his true feelings. As one pieces together the two letters to Corinth, it is apparent that there were significant problems in the church and those problems centered on specific people, and those were people who were in opposition to Paul.

For those times, a group of disciples would not be surprised to be abandoned by their teacher if they failed that teacher or sided with his enemies. The Corinthians were, perhaps, in need of reassurance that Paul would stand by them now that they had returned.

In Focus:
And this is the reassurance they receive in this chapter, as Paul points out in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10. He highlights that his goal was not merely to make them sorrowful, but to push them into repentance. Having accomplished that goal, he is not merely satisfied that the relationship between him and the church can be restored, he is enthusiastic and so are his companions (2 Corinthians 7:13). 

It was not his desire for pain and strained relationships, but for there to be repentance, redemption, and restoration. This could only happen, as shown in 2 Corinthians 7:12, when the offenders had been dealt with. Paul’s letters do not give in-depth information about the situations (except 1 Corinthians 5:1-5) involved. The focus is not about sin—the focus is on the restoration of a relationship with God first and among God’s people following after that.

In Practice:
First and foremost, our response to this is to examine our own hearts and lives for areas that we need to repent of. One cannot go about confronting the sins of others without first addressing our own. That does not mean we must be perfect before we confront—but we most certainly must be striving in a positive direction. 

Second, let us remember the goal of confronting anyone within the church about sin: repentance, redemption, and restoration. The idea is not that we engage others regarding sin in their lives for the purpose of dominance and control. There are few things more likely to destroy us than the desire to control others—and this is an area that can be particularly tempting.

Third, our focus should be on the hope of the Gospel and the potential for restoration. While some sins are egregious and need publicity for the sake of addressing them, we must be cautious not to allow the broadcasting of sin for the sake of schadenfreude or other unhealthy habits.

Note: in cases of child abuse or sexual abuse, publicity is often necessary to protect those who are innocent, promote victims coming forward, and to prevent new victims. We have often erred in this and suppressed problems thinking we were helping promote the Gospel. We weren’t. We were harming innocent people.

Fourth, we need to remember what Paul already demonstrates to the Corinthians: he is not going to abandon them like some teachers would abandon unfaithful disciples because they are not his disciples. They belong to Jesus, just like he does. We are all disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ—and as such, we are to engage with all He brings our way.

In Nerdiness:
1. The information about Titus tells us a bit about Paul’s letter carriers and message runners.

2. The CSB Study Bible (and others) take 7:8 as evidence of what is called “Paul’s Painful Letter,” which is now considered lost. Given some of the newer thoughts (see Richards Paul and First-Century Letter Writing, among others) about the idea that the Pauline epistles we have come not from church-kept copies but instead from Paul’s personally-kept copies, this letter may be lost because Paul felt it should not be saved. Consider that: he may have wanted it gone forever.


3. I took a stab at the NASB headings above, but realize something: those are not Scripture and they are open to discussion. Sometimes they help with reading and finding places, but remember that artificial divisions can hurt our comprehension. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Sermon Recap for October 29: James 3

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://eebcar.libsyn.com/rss


The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJBGluSoaJgYn6PbIklwKaw?view_as=public



Thanks!



Morning Sermon: October 29 AM (audio)


Evening time was the Fall Festival! 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Everybody Back to Work: Joshua 8

In Summary:
They got knocked down…will they get up again? That is the question at stake for Israel at this point. You may recall from Joshua 7 that the Israelites faced their first defeat in the Conquest Era when trying to take Ai. They had not taken the whole of the people into that battle (Joshua 7:4) but the ones who went failed because they went without the power of God.

Joshua 8 tells of the return to Ai and its subsequent destruction. God gives Joshua instructions on setting up an ambush for Ai and then destroying it. It’s a classic “fake retreat” ambush—part of the army is in hiding and the rest goes up as if in a normal assault. When the evident troops retreat, they are pursued and the hidden warriors then come out and attack the undefended city. Then, the “retreating” forces turn and attack, leading to ultimate destruction.

It is worth noting that this time, God permits the people of Israel to plunder from the city. The people are still to be put to the death, but the Israelites may keep the material possessions. The deaths are a continued part of God’s judgment on the people of Canaan, promised in Genesis 15:13-16, but there is little clarity about why the command shifts regarding the material wealth. Perhaps Jericho had been a test, and having failed that test and seeing God reinforce the lesson, the people can now be trusted. 

The chapter wraps up with the Israelites fulfilling the requirements of Deuteronomy 27 by going to Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. There, they build an altar and restate the covenant between Israel and God, specifically using the covenant name (YHWH) and reminders of the Law of Moses.  And we see a recurrence, at least in the CSB, of one of my favorite Bible terms: “aliens” in v. 35. (It’s in reference to those in the community who were not born in it.)

In Focus:
Here is where I would draw the meaning from this passage: Joshua 8:1. God commands Joshua to take “all the people of war” and go up to Ai. That’s a substantial contrast to 7:3, where Joshua is advised that there is no need “wear out” all the people going up to Ai.

But God had not given the conquest to some of the people of Israel. Even the Reubenites, Gileadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, who all settled on the eastern side of the Jordan River, had sent their warriors to be part of the conquest. (Numbers 32 has that story.) 

The contrast here is between the earthly wisdom of Joshua’s advisors and the heavenly command. The earthly wisdom may make sense, in terms of military strategy and logistics. But the heavenly command is another matter entirely: the people were attempting to think for the Lord, and He had not given them that task. 

Their task was to obey what He had already said.

In Practice:
We would be prudent to apply the lessons here to more than just the conquest and destruction of enemy cities. In fact, given that the struggle of the Christian is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12-18), we probably won’t be destroying any enemy cities any time soon.

Instead, let us consider the task that God has given us. After all, one critical point in understanding part of Scripture as Christians is that we have the entire Bible to draw from. While I do love a good book study and some nice Biblical Theology, we do not have to understand what God said through Scripture by taking just one verse in isolation. (Which often leads to bad results, anyway!)

The task that God has given us, as Christians, is found in His commission to the Apostles in Matthew 28:18-20 and echoed in Mark, Luke-Acts, and we can see the heart of it throughout the text. There is a world full of people who need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a world full of people who need to see the love of God in action in the lives of Believers. And there are churches that need to be houses of prayer, worship, fellowship, discipleship, and compassion. 

But that task is not for us to farm off on to a few others. It is not for us to determine that a few need to labor while most of the people rest, even though that is honestly the way we do it in most churches. Look around the typical church, and you’ll notice Enterprise syndrome. Not the rental car company, but the spaceship. The Enterprise had a crew of hundreds….but except for 3 expendable red-shirted guys, the same 12 people did all the work, every episode.

Take a church that claims 576 members, but averages 145 in attendance—and then expects that fewer than 50 people will do most of the work. We fall into the trap of the Israelites at Ai in Joshua 7. Let’s just have a few folks do the work, even though God has given the task to the whole body.

Across the board, we need to see this: 1) we are to labor together, supporting one another; 2) that some people have specialties does not mean we send them off alone, but rather that we support them fully or we don’t send them; 3) the command of God is more important than the wisdom of men. Now, the latter may complement each other and when it does, then use the wisdom. When it doesn’t, though, keep the focus on the commands.

It is, after all, the responsibility of the Commander to deal with the outcome of His orders.
In Nerdiness:
First: there are some studies that suggest the Ai (and Jericho) narratives primarily refer to the taking of military fortifications more than ordinary cities. I would wait to make that assertion (it’s still very tenuous and only mentioned in a  couple of things I’ve read) until there is more study. It does shift the ethical problem: the “women and children” who were to be killed would have been far fewer than a city and would have had a definite attachment to the military might of the city. However, if that is the case, such a command would not be necessary. Nor would Jericho (Joshua 6) be as it was described. Is it possible that Ai was more of a fort than a city? Yes. But beyond that, I would defer to other sources.

Second: “Ai” means “ruin” in Biblical-era Hebrew. It may have been called “Bobville” before it was destroyed, and simply came to be remembered as a ruin.


Third: catch the similarity between Joshua 8:35 and how Exodus records the obedience in building the Tabernacle and furnishings. “Not a word” left unfollowed.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Book: Preaching as Reminding

Book Review
Preaching as Reminding
Jeffery D. Arthurs
IVP Academic
164 pp., softcover



What is the purpose of preaching? While we often consider that the task of the preacher is to challenge or to educate or to inspire the congregation, Jeffery Arthurs’ latest book challenges us to think of the purpose of Preaching as Reminding. This new book from Intervarsity Press is targeted as those who know how to preach but have, perhaps, let the task become a habit without life.

First, the structure of the book. Arthurs provides an introduction and conclusion around seven chapters of content. The Introduction sets up the need for the book and previews the upcoming content chapters. He also provides a timely warning of the difference in “remembering/reminding” and “nagging.” The seven chapters begin by examining the need to remember somethings and forget others, with robust Scriptural and historical references. The later chapters then address tools of the sermon for stirring memory.

Throughout each chapter, Arthurs’ uses a style that is plainly educational. His purpose is to teach, nay, remind preachers of why they are doing what they do. From there, he brings to remembrance the other areas we have learned and draws the connections between how we remember and how we can remind. Wisely, the text uses footnotes to point the reader to other trails and resources brought out by the author.

The book closes with a one-page conclusion and the inclusion of a hymn written by Arthurs. The index is divided between subjects and Scriptures, and the bibliography would make for a good shopping list for many a preacher in a bookstore.

As to his conclusion, Arthurs is quite right about the task of preaching as reminding. It is easy to exhaust ourselves in the pursuit of new and innovative ideas, and those have their place. Yet the faith we preach is the same faith that was once delivered to the nations—it is for the preacher to remind us of that truth.


A well-written, compact book that preachers should make time to read.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

No Offense: 2 Corinthians 6

In Summary:
Paul continues his instructions to the Corinthian church in chapter 6 by reminding them of the need to respond to the grace of God. 2 Corinthians 6:1 makes it clear that the grace of God is intended to result in response, else Paul would not caution the church that they are at risk of receiving grace in vain.

The chapter carries on to discuss the challenges faced by Paul and his fellow ministers and how they have endured the hardships placed on them for the sake of the Gospel. That’s the area we’ll return to in a moment.

Then we have the infamous passage used by multitudes of preachers (including me once or twice) to tell people not marry non-Christians. While that is an extrapolation from 2 Corinthians 6:14-17, there is so much more that this passage is about and we tend to overlook it, for the sake of focusing on just one application. Again, it’s a valid application—but one would also be wise to apply it to strong business relationships and to political alliances.

In Focus:
I’d like us to put the magnifying glass, though, on 2 Corinthians 6:3. This verse heads up Paul’s summary of what he and his companions have gone through in terms of trials and difficulties.

The noteworthy concept here that Paul stresses is choosing not to give an offense to anyone, for the sake of the ministry he is called to. Yet if he is striving to be unoffensive, why the laundry list of things that have gone wrong? Paul raises generic problems, like afflictions and hardships, and then goes on to specific issues: riots, beatings, times of hunger…all of which sound bad.

That list, though, is connected to a list of things that sound like good experiences: purity, knowledge, patience, kindness…the list even goes on to include the Holy Spirit and the power of God! 

We should not go so far wrong here as to think Paul makes no distinction between the good things that happened to him and the bad things that happen to him. As is evident in his other writings, he would far prefer to have the power of God and the Holy Spirit than a beating and some imprisonment.

What we should recognize, though, is that Paul would rather take a beating than not have the power of God. He’ll take a sleepless night if it leads to the Holy Spirit, survive being the target of riots if he grows patience through them.

In Practice:
What will we endure for the sake of the ministry? 

First, will we be committed to giving no offense to anyone except for the Gospel? By this, will we allow them to run over us if it allows us to show them their need for Jesus? For example: will we argue with a man for not standing for a nation to the point that we cannot tell him of the Cross of Christ? Will we scrub the pork from our neighborhood block party to earn time with that family in hijabs?

Second, will we embrace our difficulties for the sake of our own benefit? How often do we structure our lives, our churches, our speaking so that we avoid imprisonment, riot, labor, and sleepless nights? Yet then we wonder why we lack knowledge, patience, purity, the power of God and the Holy Spirit! We have disdained that which God has ordained for our own sanctification. 

Let us pay attention to the one thing that matters: we are surrounded by people in need of the Savior. If He has done for us what we believe He has done for us, then why will we not break a sweat for others? 

In Nerdiness:
First, let’s take a gander at vv. 14-16. As mentioned above, these verses are typically used to discuss marriage with unbelievers, and it’s a valid application. But what are the other ways could this apply? After all, is Paul writing to a context where individuals actually chose their spouse? Not often. The more likely application (in context) of this passage to marriage would have been parents arranging marriages for their children. 

But isn’t it deeper? Remember that the actual meaning is unchanging and would have been understood by the original audience as well. This applies not only to marriage but any form of “partnership.” It’s business. It’s political. It’s what sides you choose in the next Roman Civil War. The meaning is about choosing God-honoring relationships in general, and the application carries through to today. It is about who you marry and who you work with and who you choose in the Civil War (Team Cap!) and who you vote for.


Second, look at Paul’s Old Testament quotation at the end. It’s a hodgepodge, indicating that Paul either really knew his Tanakh or perhaps had one handy. It is fascinating to see how he stitched passages together, though.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Sermon Recap for October 22

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://eebcar.libsyn.com/rss


The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJBGluSoaJgYn6PbIklwKaw?view_as=public



Thanks!

Sunday Morning: Hebrews 12 (audio download link)


Audio Player





Video:
The video doesn't quite capture what was going on there at the beginning, but it's fairly well described. I got a few youth to come and join me, challenging them to a race. Then I encumbered them :)

Hebrews 12:1-3

Context:

Just after the “Faith Hall of Hame” section; reminders of all who have gone before--and have suffered much more than we have.

Overview:

The action section of the letter.

Reflection:

Not merely a one-time fix but a continual fixation.

Expectations:


Throw it off and get to work!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Book: The Mentoring Church

The Christian church is awash in leadership books and conferences. Yet the real need within the church is not for great and lofty leaders but for leaders who know what it is to work, live, and love a congregation of God's people on an every week basis. That's not the type of thing you can do more than glean a smidgen of in a conference. You need an ongoing opportunity to learn what it is to live out ongoing service.

Now, some people are fortunate enough to be part of a church that already works out helping ministers learn how to live that way. However, many times our churches have not figured out a good way to develop life-invested leaders as an ongoing reality. That is where Phil Newton's The Mentoring Church comes in handy. Dr. Newton is the pastor of South Woods Baptist in Memphis, a church that I have known young ministers from. I say that to establish that what Newton writes about is not empty theory--he has walked down this road a good bit before writing about it.

On to the content: the first chapter shares the need, which most of us who pick this book up will already be aware of, but Newton explains and defines how the need should be addressed. The next three chapters deal with an extrapolation of the Biblical material regarding mentoring, looking at how and what Jesus did, followed with what we know of the early church and Paul's work in that vein.

From there, we go to a historical overview of the church's mentoring models across the years. Spread throughout are highlights of "dos" and "don'ts" drawn from them. Newton's approach is that we can learn from good and bad across the years.

The conclusion of the book looks at models currently in use by various churches. There is a definite effort here to identify models in keeping with the ecclesiology of modern evangelical-type churches. (None of his examples will help one become Pope, basically, because it won't really work in that strong of a hierarchy.) Each model is illustrated with examples and suggested ways to adapt it into a local church.

Now, the crux of the matter: I need this book. It is my deep desire to see the church I pastor become a launching ground for future ministers. If that is going to be the case, I need a guideline for to invest not only academically but relationally, and then a guide for the church to understand how they are the key.

This is the major point of Newton's book: how the congregation must be involved in mentoring. It is not merely a "pastors should train pastors" idea, but a "churches growing ministers" idea. In that vein, this is a great resource to extract a roadmap for the church.

I highly recommend The Mentoring Church.

(Note: I did receive a copy of this book for the review. I'll probably be buying a handful for my ministry team soon.)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Intense Life in Tents: 2 Corinthians 5

In Summary: 
Paul continues 2 Corinthians as he shifts his metaphor from the treasures in jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7) to the idea of dwelling in earthly tents (2 Corinthians 5:1). His aim is to build up the confidence of the Corinthians, that they would have the strength to keep on walking by faith. The flow of the chapter moves from how we, as individuals, hold a certainty of redemption because of the Spirit of God (v. 5) on to how we are to be involved in reconciling the world to God.

Paul does not separate here the work of Jesus in reconciliation (v. 18) and the responsive work of believers in showing others the reality of this reconciliation. Where we might be tempted to put a dichotomy, a conflict between the work of Jesus and the responsibility we hold, God has Paul put an "and," linking the two.

In the middle, though, are points not to be missed. First of all, we are reminded of the incoming judgment (v. 10)and how the fear of God which we know should drive us to persuade others to follow Christ. Second, though, is a verse that I've taken a touch out of context over the years. It's one that definitely should be understood the way it is usually preached, but 2 Corinthians 5:17 is about more than just the new life of the believer.

Put it alongside v. 16 and see what Paul is talking about in general. He mentions not seeing anyone according to a "worldly perspective." In a status-conscious Roman world, that's a radical departure from the norm. He's emphasizing that, in his ministry, he does not worry about who he shares the Gospel with. It only matters that he shares the Gospel.

After all, those of high societal value will be made new in Christ...and their "high" value will dissipate. Likewise, those of low societal value will be made new in Christ...and their "low" value will dissipate.

The judgment seat of Christ (v. 10, again) is higher enough than anyone that your status will not matter. Therefore, your status ought not matter to Christians, either.

In Focus: 
Woven through this chapter, from the tents through the new creation and into verse 20, is the idea that to be Christian, one's identity is found in something other than their earthly life. 2 Corinthians 5:20 speaks of being "ambassadors for Christ," and we need to wrap our heads around what this means. At the current point in history, we tend to think of an "ambassador" as a political appointee in a foreign country, someone who can help if you lose your passport or get arrested while you're on a mission trip.

But much of our perception is shaped by the modern world and modern communications. In Paul's day, an ambassador carried the full weight and responsibility of the king who sent him. They were sent to make peace with countries far away, to explore lands, to gather information. And it was not always a safe job--a good way to show that you think your country is better than another one was to execute the ambassadors sent by that country. This did not always end well, mind you, if the sending country turned out to be mightier and have a higher sense of honor.

Then you're in trouble because the king will have those who attacked his ambassadors before his judgment seat in due time. 

This is the image Paul is giving of the Kingdom of Christ. He will, in due time, have all mankind before His judgment. 

In Practice:
This gives us a couple of practices to make sure we grab hold of in our lives.

The first is this: as ambassadors, it is our joyous responsibility to spread the offer of peace, of reconciliation from the King of Kings to the kingdoms of this world. We are to go forth and proclaim that to all those we come in contact with. And we do so, fully knowing that some of the kingdoms of this world will have our heads instead of accepting the offer of grace. But we go anyway, and we trust the King to do what is necessary and right. It may be that, eventually, an ambassador will break through the noise and even that one will come to Jesus.

At which, we will rejoice, knowing that grace is greater than our desire for vengeance.

The second practice is perhaps a shade harder. As ambassadors, we ought to keep living in tents. Rather than take up the practices of this world and making a more permanent home, let us remember that we are temporary residents here. We are not supposed to lock in and stay put, but to be identifiable as foreign to this place. 

Living in tents is less comfortable than going ahead and grabbing a house, planting a garden, and so forth. But it also serves as a reminder that we do not belong to this place. We belong to Jesus. So live in your tent as you live intensely for Jesus.

After all, you're the ambassador of the Greatest King. What can this world offer anyway?

In Nerdiness:

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:21 justifies the opening lyric in "Jesus, Messiah," about "He became sin who knew no sin...."
  2. There is a solid contrast here between walking by faith and walking by sight. The meaning there is pretty clear--we sometimes go without knowing for certain what we are supposed to be doing. It was not uncommon for ambassadors--they had to know the desire and character of their king and then go forth to do his work. Even if they had no maps to start with.
  3. Reconciliation (v. 18) is a two-way street. The joy is that God has come all the way, but we need to realize this is because of His strength, not out of weakness. We miss that point.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sermon Recap for October 15

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://eebcar.libsyn.com/rss


The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJBGluSoaJgYn6PbIklwKaw?view_as=public



Thanks!

Morning Sermon: Hebrews 1 (audio)




Also, here's the original version of the song from special music:



Hebrews 1

Context:

    Authorship Unknown. Or Barnabas. Or Luke. (I like David Allen’s Luke theory)

    Date: Pre-70 AD (Destruction of Temple); probably Neronian Era

    Canonical Context: Directed to Israelites/Jews, probably Jewish Christians due to its faith-affirming nature; probable during First Jewish Revolt 66-70 AD, as it has become clear Rome will win it and urging them to follow Jesus without losing heart due to the destruction of Judaism’s central concept of sacrifice and Temple


Overview: 

    Opening of Message/sermon (Hebrews reads like a set of transcribed messages)

    Superiority of Jesus in all things, is a primer for the whole book;


Reflection:

    Phrased like AMOS 3:8 (YHWH has spoken, who can but prophesy)
The Lord God has spoken, how can we not act in obedience


“If God said and you will not do it, then you either don’t believe He really said…or you don’t believe He’s really God.”


Expectation:

  1. Purification from sins (v. 3)
  2. Sufficiency of what has been said (v. 1-2)—quit adding “God told me/I felt Jesus say….” to your statements.
  3. Response! (v. 1-4, and the WHOLE OLD TESTAMENT!)


Evening Message: Some Thoughts from Philemon (audio)






Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Weakly Stored Treasures: 2 Corinthians 4

In Summary:
What is it that keeps us going? What drives the Christian to keep at the work in front of them? After all, there are times it just does not go well. Of course, those of us peacefully reading this on our home computers probably haven’t had it go as bad as Paul did at various times.

Yet he speaks in 2 Corinthians 4:1 of not losing heart—because of the ministry he had been given. His opportunities to bring other people to Jesus kept him going in the work. Specifically, he cites the fruit of his work among the Corinthians and the methods he used there. His preaching and ministry was done clearly, without compromise. 

He then expresses just how challenging the ministry can be: struck down, afflicted, persecuted. But these are not final or fatal for the work. And it is the work of spreading the Gospel that Paul speaks of here, and that he commends to the Corinthians. This is the purpose of his ministry, and of what the Corinthians should be celebrating and focusing on: the treasure of the Gospel. 

That it is found in an earthen vessel, v. 7, does not negate the value of the treasure. Rather, it highlights the treasure over the container.

In Focus:
If we take 2 Corinthians 4:5 as our focus, let’s look at what Paul is saying. First of all, as the bringer of the Gospel to Corinth, Paul had a right to be considered highly by the Corinthians. The traditions of the time entitled him to claim superiority as their teacher and leader, but instead he speaks of himself as a bond-servant, or slave, of the people. The Gospel reverses our priorities, from ourselves on to others.

Second, we see Paul exalt Jesus over himself. He is not interested in the Corinthians praising him, but only in praising Christ. There is no room in Paul’s life for two masters, and he wants no room in the Corinthians’ life for 2 masters, either. Paul only reminds them of who he is, and what he should mean to them, for the purpose of pointing them more plainly to Jesus.

In Practice:
Today, I need this in practice: I am not the Lord of the Church. Jesus is. My responsibility and joy is to proclaim Him as the Master, and to remember that I am here to serve His Church, His work. Not my own.

On that vein, the church exists to serve one another for the same purpose. And the treasure we have of the Gospel should be focused on exalting Jesus before the lost. If you look at the rest of the chapter, there is much to be said about light shining in darkness and dealing with those who are blinded to the truth. 

And the purpose is for us to proclaim the truth, to light the way for them. The earthen vessels that store such a treasure as the Gospel, weak though these vessels are, should be used only for that high purpose.

In Nerdiness:
This chapter gives us music! The band Jars of Clay got their name here, and then the chorus of “Trading My Sorrows” comes from here as well.


Notice also how Paul contrasts verbs in vv. 8-9, where he uses softer terms for what has happened to him, and then the harsher terms for what could have happened. 
x

Monday, October 9, 2017

Sermon Recap for October 8

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://eebcar.libsyn.com/rss

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJBGluSoaJgYn6PbIklwKaw?view_as=public

Sermons are stockpiled here: http://www.doughibbard.com/search/label/Sermons

Thanks!

October 8: Proverbs 18 (audio)





Context
Solomon’s gathered wisdom.
The two “Women” the king must choose between: Wisdom or Folly
Overview
A slice of the wisdom Solomon;
Remember that the Proverbs are NOT random
Use Dan Philips definition of Living Skillfully in Fear of YHWH
Reflection
v. 1: The need for community
v. 2: Are we listening? Or just broadcasting?
v. 3: Wickedness does not just affect the wicked
v. 4: Is what you say a fountain of wisdom?
v. 5: Innocence and guilt matters
v. 6: If everything you say leads to trouble, you may just be a fool
v. 7: Again: Foolish blather will destroy you.
v. 8: But it sure is easy to listen to foolish blather….
v. 9: Well….
v. 10: Who are you going to run to? Where are you going to run?
Expectations

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Personal Update

I thought I’d take a minute and give you an update on where we are and what we are doing. The “we” being the whole of the Hibbard family, though a good bit is just “me."

First of all, we’ve passed the 2 year mark here in East End. Actually, we passed it back in June. I think we’re getting used to life in the big city. Olivia is now fully legal to drive, and drive alone. We have the old gold van back working somewhat, but we’re still pretty much a one-vehicle family so she doesn’t drive much. That’s okay. It’s better for my stress.

After completing German and French across the last academic year, I was trying to choose between pursuing a Ph.D. or a D.Min. There were good arguments on both sides, and a good argument that I should have pursued an MBA or MPA instead. I looked into an MPA (Master’s of Public Administration), but as with a Speech Communications program I looked at, it was targeted at professionals with weekends to do school. I’m really a bit busy on Sundays, so I can’t do school that night.

It came down between doing a Doctor of Ministry through Truett Seminary, where Dr. Vang (who I had in college and *absolutely* wanted to study with again) is the big boss, or going back through B.H. Carroll, where I finished my Master of Divinity, for a Ph.D. The breaking point actually came down to seminar times—BHCTI will need 3 days in the Fall and Spring every year. Truett needed 3 2-week seminars, plus travel time. I couldn’t quite make the travel and time away happen.

So, I’m currently trying to sort out initial doctoral seminar work. It’s fun. At least, compared to breaking a bone, it’s fun.

What am I studying? Great question. I’m doing Christian Heritage. Beyond that, I’m kind of stuck. I’m supposed to be narrowing toward a focus, but having trouble with that.

Ann works for HEDUA/Well Planned Gal. She’s good at it :)

That’s what’s going on in our lives. One of these days, I’ll get back to writing for publications and other websites. But for now, it’s academics all day long and half the night.



Book: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

Today’s book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, is a revised/updated edition of one that has been around for a few years. I’ve read the earlier version and found it quite helpful. Short form of the review: grab the update if you liked the original. It’s a smidgen of improvement but well worth it.

Now, the long version: the human being is a mixture of will, thought, body, and emotion. Too often, we excel in one area while neglecting the other—and this results in a lopsided person. Peter Scazzero’s Emotionally Healthy Spirituality takes a look at the side of the whole which is the emotional side.

It’s too often neglected in the lives of Christians. We have adopted a viewpoint that our spiritual side is all that matters—or, perhaps, throw in some P90x and Couch to 5 K for the physical. But emotional health? Seriously? Who needs it?

In truth, we all do.We run like crazy and pour out of all that we have, and need to pay attention to the work of God to deal with our hearts and emotions. 

Now, as a preacher, I should offer the caveat that much of what Scazzero discusses is not explicitly Biblical. He does not have chapter and verse that says “Thou shalt address thine emotional needs.” But it is part of being wise. And many of his guidelines for health are plainly drawn from Scripture. Like “take a Sabbath.” 
This book will become a part of our church staff training plan. I’d recommend it as a group study—you’ll want to discuss the issues raised—but it’s also a good individual read.

(Please note: I did receive a copy of this from the publisher in exchange for the review.)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Three Cs: 2 Corinthians 3

In Summary:
Paul continues his second letter to Corinth by reminding the church that he should need no recommendation to them. They already know him and their faith is the proof of his preaching—unlike others who need their credentials examined! It appears that the Corinthians had reached a shaky conclusion, that they now knew enough about walking with Jesus to sit in judgment over the one who introduced them to the Gospel!

Our chapter division puts 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 as the head of this chapter, but it could just as easily match up with 2 Corinthians 2. Go back and read chapter 2 and flow straight over onto the first paragraph of 3 (using the paragraphs in ESV)—just ignore the section headers for a minute. It makes pretty good sense there, doesn’t it?

Yet it also forms the turn into the contrast of the Law and the New Covenant. This contrast makes up the bulk of chapter 3, as Paul points out the work of the Holy Spirit and the supremacy of Christ. One should easily see from 2 Corinthians 3 that the power of the Spirit of God through Jesus far exceeds the Law of Moses.

In Focus:
Looking a second time at 2 Corinthians 3:4-6, we find Paul’s primary points for this portion of Scripture. First, that believers may have confidence before God. Second, believers are competent to serve one another and the world on behalf of God. Finally, that the covenant between God and humanity is now different and new, vibrant with life.

These three areas: confidence, competence, and covenant; differentiated the Christian message from many of the religions in Corinth. It was also different than the warping of the Gospel which was done by the Judaizers, those who went about teaching the church the falsehood that it was better (or worse, necessary) to be good followers of Jewish law if one was to be a Christian.

In Practice:
What, though, do these three areas look like and how do we have them as believers today?

First, confidence: specifically, this is confidence before God, or toward God through Jesus. In short, this is understanding that our salvation is a settled fact—and then grasping just what fact has been settled. Prior to the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, there was the challenge of knowing if you had done enough to satisfy God. We tend to overlook that Noah and Abraham, for example, are cited as recipients of grace even those days. Now, though, we have confidence, not because people are better (we aren’t) but because Jesus has finished the work of dying for our sins. Our confidence comes from Him, and we practice this by not walking hesitantly before God.

Second, competence: this builds on confidence. God has called us and equipped us by the power of His Spirit and provided us His Word. Therefore, we have the competence to share with others the grace of God. We may fall short and slip up in our approaches, but we need not hold back and wait for someone who is “better” at Jesus to do the work. 

Third, covenant: the agreement that God has made with humanity. Part of the contrast Paul is highlighting is that Jesus is superior to Moses, and the covenant is different. Whereas Moses had a Law written on stone, Paul proclaims Jesus who writes on the hearts of people and makes us alive to follow Him. The action which follows this is simple: remember and act like people God has saved now, not people God is making into Jews or Hebrews. This takes various forms, but I see it often with people who want to track with the feasts and festivals of the old covenant and behave as if this covenant drives the Christian faith.

It does not. The actionable covenant between God and humanity is the New Covenant of Jesus, not the covenant given through Moses. The confidence and competence we have under the new covenant allow Christians to walk boldly in obedience to Jesus, not in the footsteps of the former faith.

In Nerdiness:
The “veil” referenced by Paul is a real one, from Exodus 34. The contrast between then and now is this: we can all approach God—while the old covenant even caused the representative of God to be separated.


And don’t let 2 Corinthians 3:6 lead to the chaos of anything goes life—that’s not the idea. The idea is that new covenant believers walk in life, and living people do not do the deeds of death. It’s natural, rather than having a law that tries to keep the dead from acting like the dead.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Sermon Recap for October 1

Before we get started—the news from Las Vegas is horrifying, which is becoming far too common. Do not become hardened to tragedy, even though it keeps happening and life must keep going for every one who isn’t right there in the midst of it.

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://eebcar.libsyn.com/rss

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJBGluSoaJgYn6PbIklwKaw?view_as=public

Sermons are stockpiled here: http://www.doughibbard.com/search/label/Sermons

Thanks!


Last night we had Darrel Ray from Arkansas Baptists with us, and he’ll be back next Sunday night. I’m saving his sermons for their own post. And for his permission to post them.

Sunday, October 1 (direct audio)




October 1 AM Titus 2
Context:
  1. Titus, one of Paul's troubleshooters
  2. Crete--the whole island: Minotaurs and Labyrinths, Cretans and Gluttons, In the Roman province of Cyrenaica, or Cyrene--think Simon of Cyrene. And possibly the extended family of Mark
Overview:
  1. Establishing leaders for the churches
  2. So that Titus can go elsewhere (Dalmatia, perhaps? 2 Timothy 4)
Reflection:
God-honoring people should teach others to be more like Jesus; Christ-followers should learn from other God-honoring people.
Expectations:
  1. Pass on what you know
  2. Learn from others
    1. Not just sit there waiting your turn
    2. Or waiting to jump in and criticize
  3. Recognize that the main mission of the church is to reach the lost and to do so we need to know the Gospel

Peace in a time of Pandemic

This is not one of those hyper-spiritual posts, where I claim that because of Jesus I have peace even in the midst of the COVID pandemic. Tr...