Monday, December 3, 2018

Sermon Recap for December 3

Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.

If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here:

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here:

Sermons are stockpiled here:


(Please Note: I am aware that the title says March 25 PM. It’s the right sermon, wrong title)

Sunday, December 2, 2018

A Christmas Reminder

Sometimes, I really like things I write. This is one I like, and so I’ll share it again this Christmas.

Dearest Friends of Narnia,

I hope this letter finds you well as we approach the celebration of Advent, with its ultimate goal of celebrating the birth of our Saviour. It is truly a joyous time of year, made all the more joyous by its juxtaposition with the darkness of midwinter. In truth, I come close to saying the calendar accuracy is less important here than the spiritual significance. Christ does not come to us in the bright summer of our soul’s celebration, but in the bleak midwinter of our need. Of course, that might require celebrating again in June in Argentina, so my apologies for the Northern Hemisphere-mindedness on the issue.

I write to you of a concern which I am so certain you share as to call it our mutual concern. It is of the rising cultural expectation that this is the “holiday” season, or the “winter festival” or even that it is “Christmas” that is celebrated by retail, logistics, and elves. These expectations are typically paired with a downgrading of the observance of the Incarnation, and often abetted by the high-minded theologian who wishes to quibble about the exact date upon which the blessed event occurred. Our mutual concern has often been that we are not able to celebrate, as Free Narnians ought, the Incarnation of the Lord. We have been troubled that the great heritage of feasting, celebration, and song is being muted and overridden by Jingle Bells and balanced presentation.

Now, typically, I might urge that we take inspiration from the band that fought off Rabadash or held back the treachery of Nikabrik and Miraz, polish our swords and fight. By the Lion’s Mane, I do not doubt that we would be victorious if it were put to the question of battle. Failure could only befall us if we were false to one another, or if Aslan Himself was not with us.

I have been reflecting, though, on the state of those who disregard Christmas as the celebration of Christ and the Incarnation. It is of this I wish to speak, for we know of a time in Narnia that mirrors our modern age.

In the time of the White Witch, before the coming of the High King Peter, King Edmund, Queen Susan, and Queen Lucy, there was a curse upon our beloved land of Narnia. We often consider the Witch’s power to turn her enemies to stone, or her corruption of King Edmund, or even her addictive Turkish Delight. We consider the curse of the Hundred Years’ Winter, but we have forgotten the second half of that curse: that it was always winter, but never Christmas.

I am deeply indebted to fellow Narnian Joe Rigney for highlighting this aspect of the curse. Winter is a normal part of life, except for you who live in certain climates, but those areas bring certain challenges due to the persistent warmth. Winter can be a time of cleansing and resting, waiting for the newness of Spring, and being trapped in Winter would be devastating.

Yet we know one thing worse than being trapped in Winter, and that is being trapped in a winter with no Christmas. A Winter with no hope, no light, no warmth of celebration. This is Winter marked only by snows and bills, work and worry, obligations and troubles.

It is the Witch’s curse, that curse which sought to undo the good land of Narnia, to suffer through Winter without hope. And rather than see those who see Winter without Christmas as our enemies, I would suggest that we begin this season of Advent realizing what is truly the case:

Those who suffer Winter without Christmas are victims of the Witch’s Curse.

They are not to be fought but to be liberated. We know that now, as then, there are the odd minotaurs and hags who fight on the side of the curse, but many more innocent of treachery and only practice what they have always known. Others fear the evident evil more than embrace an elder hope. Yet know this, fellow Narnians, none of these are our enemies.

Rather, let us, as we best can, be emissaries of hope in the frozen wasteland of lives. Let us drink the cups of joy and gladness in the midst of the snow. Let us take our tea, and offer a cup, raised even to the health of our true adversaries, remembering a courageous squirrel who once did the same.

Let us not forget the true celebration, the joy that Father Christmas reminds us of as he brings the news that He is on the move! Let us celebrate, and encourage those about us, held captive by the Witch, to see the thaw that is coming, and with it, the fullness of hope.

In the name of One True King, bring rejoicing to the cursed lands, and let the Winter be filled with Hope!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Sermon Recap for November 18

Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.

If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here:

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here:

Sermons are stockpiled here:


Evening sermon was from our Children’s Pastor, Andy Fry, and is not included yet because I haven’t had the chance to edit it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Attitudes and Actions: 1 John 2

In Summary:
John continues his letter by giving his overall purpose in writing the church. He wants them to not sin—simple enough, right? After all, who would want to continue sinning after meeting the grace of Jesus?

John’s concern, though, is that his church, his friends, will still sin. Perhaps because they are still new to the faith, new to the idea of what it is to follow Jesus. Perhaps because even those who have been in the faith for a while will still stumble and fall. There are two things, though, that John knows about his audience: they are human, which means they will fall short of perfection; they are loved by God, which means they should also have hope.

Yet there must have been those who looked at the grace of God and understood it to mean that they could do anything at all. After all, there was inexhaustible grace and they were released from the law, so all things were permissible, right?

Here is an important aside: John’s readers do not have the rest of the New Testament at this point. They have the Old Testament and the oral teachings of the Apostles, with perhaps some of the earlier writings of the Church. (Everything we deal with in dating the New Testament writings is an estimate, based on our understanding of when various events happened and how they are reflected in the writings.)

So the church John writes to is not in possession of Galatians or Ephesians as reminders of grace. They do not have Romans as an instruction on the importance and use of the Law in the church. They just have what they’ve been told—and now John is trying to help round out the ideas they have heard. He writes to the church about the importance of obeying God.

In Focus:
His focus is on the church members showing love for one another as evidence that the light is shining and the darkness is fading away. One cannot hate his brother and claim to be filled with the love of God, and John’s continued expression of how love looks through the behaviors of the church. The world, he says in 2:17, is passing away. So loving the things of the world is a pointless exercise.

Instead, the love of the church should be spent on those within the family of faith. Now, it is important to get this right about that idea: John’s instruction is not to neglect the community around the body of Christ, but rather an emphasis point. As Jesus Himself said, the church would be known by the world because of its love for one another (John 13:35). The love within the community should have been visible to the wider world, and been something that the world around the church wanted to encounter. Further, it was a genuine love, and those who show love for some will naturally overflow that onto others.

And finally, the church recognized that all people were made in the image of God. Once they accepted that as the reality of the world around them, then it was natural to show love to those they encounter.

Now, what is this love? It is to work to bring others to follow Jesus, in line with His commandments and His ways. Love is to treat others as Jesus would treat them: with grace, mercy, and righteousness.

In Practice:
What do we do about this?

First, we need to look at our own lives: do we love one another? Our actions within churches suggest that we do not. If we are being self-serving or demanding, then we are not showing love. If we are using the church for our own purposes and not surrendering to God to be used for His purpose, we are not showing love to one another. There are too many examples of abuse and wrongdoing in the church to count these days—and those are just the big moments!

How do you approach your relationship with your local church family? Do you look forward to being with and supporting one another? Or are you there because you have to be, and those folks better stay out of your way on a bad day? Or, do you not even have a local church family? You need one. None of them are perfect, but you need one anyway.

Second, we need to look at how we live out our faith in the world around us: does the love we live for the people within the body spill out into the streets around our churches?

Is it possible that our actions reflect an attitude that puts us in the position of anti-Christ in the life of others? Keep in mind that the actual term here means “before Christ” or, perhaps, “in the way of reaching Christ.”

Could that be where we sit with our own demands and methods?

In Nerdiness: 

“Paraclete” is the term translated as “Advocate” in 1 John 2:1. Origen (3rd Century) connects this title to both Jesus and the Holy Spirit, highlighting both intercessor and comforter. It’s a term that is used of the Holy Spirit in John 14:26 (and the verses following in 15 and 16 that refer to the Spirit) and not many other places in Scripture. This is a place where you do get toward the idea by breaking down the parts of the compound word: “Called with” is good, “called alongside” is perhaps better here, and so we get the “one who is called alongside” as the idea. Some suggest a legal concept, thus tying into “Advocate” like an attorney is an advocate, but it may be simpler than that and be anyone who does not have to be involved in someone’s difficulties but joins in to help because he can. (some info from BDAG, some from ACCS)

Monday, October 29, 2018

Sermon Recap from October 21 and 28

Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.

If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here:

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here:

Sermons are stockpiled here:


Monday, October 15, 2018

Sermon Recap for October 14

Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.

If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here:

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here:

Sermons are stockpiled here:


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Sermon Recap for October 7

Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.

If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here:

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here:

Sermons are stockpiled here:


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Sermon Recap for September 23

Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.

If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here:

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here:

Sermons are stockpiled here:


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Book: The Pastoral Handbook of Mental Illness

(First note: it took me five minutes to make sure the title was right, what with the capital “I” and the lower case “l”s right there beside each other.)

(Second note: this book was provided by Kregel Academic/Ministry for the review. Then I spilled coffee on it, set it aside to let it dry, and forgot to review it until the last minute.)

PastoralMentalIllnessSteve Bloem’s The Pastoral Handbook of Mental Illness is a useful tool in the minister’s toolbox. That’s the key line here: if you are a minister in a church, you should get this work and keep it on hand as you deal with people, especially as you deal with those who come to you for counseling. Why? Because most of us do not have counseling degrees. Most pastors and ministers spent some time in counseling classes, but that was mixed with courses on everything else that is involved in the day-to-day work of serving a church.

But, at times, we are the first people that our congregants ask about mental health questions. Perhaps the second, after they have asked a family care care doctor. And we are often ill-equipped for the questions. Bloem’s work helps crack open the door so that you can see the depth of what a problem may involve, which will help you see how to help alongside encouraging the individual to seek competent mental health care.

Which is a key aspect of this book: it is not here so that unlicensed individuals can play Sidney Freedman. The goal is that ministers will be equipped to guide those who have mental health issues to competent care.

The other use of this work, which is potentially more valuable, is that the minister becomes more equipped to broaden awareness of mental health problems and provide community support within the church. For too long, Bloem asserts, the church has not been a place where those with mental health issues can find care and support. He suggests that a general ignorance may be part of the problem. I’m inclined to agree.

The book starts with a rationale for its existence, which is helpful, and that is followed by an alphabetical reference section of major diagnoses. This is extremely useful for those times when someone comes to you and says “Pastor, my family member has been diagnosed with SAD. What does that mean, and what do I do?” You can turn right to Seasonal Affective Disorder, and see some suggestions of help.

The list is of major issues, and therefore is not exhaustive. I would have liked to have seen a bit about adult diagnoses on the autism spectrum, but there are some personal reasons for that. Overall, it is very helpful and gives you good guidelines.

The strength of this book is in the questions at the end. Bloem explains the difference in counseling models, highlights the Biblical reasons one might seek counseling, and addresses some other common questions.

In all, this one should be part of the required texts for pastoral counseling classes and then kept on your shelf through your ministry years.

Book provided by Kregel Academic. They didn’t provide the coffee I spilled on it, though…

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Joyous Doctrine: 1 John 1

In Summary:

Now we move forward into the Johannine Epistles. These are the three letters labeled 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John in the Bible. Tradition, including the manuscript evidence available with labels, ascribes the authorship of these letters to John, son of Zebedee and brother of James, one of the Twelve Disciples. There are also some connections in vocabulary and methodology between the Gospel of John and 1 John, especially, that suggest these have the same author. For a fuller look at the issues, take a read here The Writings of John by C. Marvin Pate. For simplicity’s sake, I will simply proceed on the assumption that these are written by John the Apostle. I see no harm to the interpretation of the text that way.

1 John does not read like one of Paul’s Epistles. We are not faced with the standard opening greetings, personal remarks, or even authorial declaration! John begins his letter where he also begins his Gospel: at the very “beginning.” (See John 1:1) Rather than identify himself by his calling, his ministry, or even his name, John highlights that he writes of what he has seen, studied, and touched. He establishes that his work is based on personal interaction with Jesus, here called the Word of Life. He goes on to make clear in this chapter that God has no darkness in Him, but that we all have a need for God because of our sin.

In Focus:

Where we could focus for a moment is on 1 John 1:4. Why here? John gives his reason for writing: so that his “joy may be made complete.” First off, let’s address the “we write….our joy….” concept here. In the modern way of speaking, we are accustomed to using a singular first-person pronoun because using the plural requires either multiple people or it’s a sign of self-importance like the “royal we” that is used by kings and queens. So, if we read that backward onto the text, our opinion of John will be skewed. Or we will search for the identity of those with him.

But you cannot do that with a text written in another culture, another language, and another millennium. You have to dig into how they wrote back then. There are two additional aspects of using “we/our” in place of “I/mine.” The first is actually that it was possible that an author was speaking on behalf of a larger group even if none is specified. For example, John writes as part of the “we” that is the church, to another part of the church. The other possibility comes back to fellowship: John is writing so that the joy of he and his audience will be complete. That is the view I would take here, that John is addressing the idea of fellowship and interaction between the church-at-large, and how he is writing to ensure his audience remains in fellowship with the Body of Christ at large.

This connects to his explanation of doctrinal issues in this first chapter: the eternal nature of Jesus and the untainted goodness of God. If the recipients of the letter undo the character of God or lose the divinity of Christ, they are moving so far from the faith that they will not be in fellowship any longer, they will not be able to count themselves in the Body of Christ any longer.

In Practice:

What does this mean for us?

First, note that there is joy to be found in getting doctrine right and together. We tend to think of doctrine as dry, dull, unhappy matters to attend to quickly so that we can do the fun stuff. But knowing the truth about God is joyful. It should bring us joy to think of the Eternal God and His untainted character. Especially if you look around and see some tainted characters in this world.

Second, note that we are part of a community of faith that needs us, and we need them. We are too quick to isolate ourselves, sometimes simply within our own churches, and miss the larger picture. In the same way, our churches tend to do that as well. Come up for air and look around: there are good things to celebrate in other places, and things to take warning of from other places.

Third, note that John is writing. He is communicating, with all effort to be clear, about what the church needs. We need to do the same thing: be clear about the Truth of Jesus, first of all, and about truth overall. We cannot work in hints and suggestions, or with unwritten, unclear ideas. Spread the truth plainly, that the joy of understanding may be known.

In Nerdiness: 

Nerd note 1: According to some of my sources (academic sources, not news-type sources, I just don’t want to list all the differing commentaries, Study Bibles, etc…), 1 John should be considered the first of John’s writings, and his Gospel comes later. Other sources flip-flop that and put the Gospel first. I’m inclined to agree that the Epistle came first. Some of the thoughts in the Epistle seem to be more fully developed in the Gospel, and knowing preachers, I figure if John had already written his Gospel, he would have just sent it instead of writing a new letter.

Nerd note 2: in 1:1, “Word of Life” is “Logos of Life” in Greek, using the same terminology that John uses in his Gospel about “In the beginning was the Word…” good parallel to take note of.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Sermon Recap for September 16

Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.

If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here:

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here:

Sermons are stockpiled here:


Audio Player:

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

What I do: The Morning

One of my blogging issues is that I don’t know what anybody wants to know about me. But lately, I’ve been reading other websites and have realized something: people want to know about nearly everything. So, in case you've wondered what a day in the life of an average pastor and mediocre writer is like, you’ll get some insight around here.

What does the morning look like in my house? We start early, with the alarm clock going off at 5 AM. Why?

Because chaos is coming later in the day. I’m a pastor. Ann works from home for a web/print company. Oh, and she’s the primary person for homeschooling our children. I help with that as I can, but there are three kids with all the school work and a few activities and church life that are part of our life. So if we wait too long, chaos will be the first thing we hit.

Which is fine from time to time, but it’s a terrible way to set your life up for every day. So, we start early to try to get ahead of it all.

What are the main things we start each day with?

1. Exercise

2. Spiritual devotions

3. Tasty warm beverages

Seriously. Those three things are the key to a morning in our house. Here’s how it unfolds:

Step 1: the night before, we make sure that our 25-cup coffee urn (like you see at hotels/conferences) is filled with water and the timer is set right. This will kick on about 4:30 AM and we’ll have hot water when we get up rather than waiting for it to heat. It also holds enough water to do both the coffee and the Choffy, our two drinks of choice. The first is one of the greatest parts of global trade. The second is a brewed cocoa product, like a chocolate tea. Ann and Angela love it.

Step 2: the night before, we deliberately wind down with a touch of reading and conversation to settle in for a good night’s sleep. We strive to be away from PCs and TVs after about 830 PM, unless we just have to do it.

Step 3: the alarm goes off, first thing in the morning. The specialty snooze setting is 2 minutes, so it gets hit, and we lay there for a morning snuggle that is no longer than 120 seconds. Not long enough to go back to sleep, just long enough that our waking up is a together thing. (We’re romantic like that.)

Step 4: two minutes after, the alarm goes off again. We get up, make the bed, hit the bathroom, and then go down and get the coffee and Choffy brewing. Water’s already hot, so it’s ready to go.

Step 5: Get dressed. (Yes, we did Step 4 in our bathrobes.) We put on our exercise clothes, grab some water and our coffee/Choffy, and go start our devotional times.

For both of us, that is Bible reading, prayer, Bible copying (another thought for another day), and some other personal growth reading. All of this while journaling (yes, I’ve finally become a journal-keeper. Again, another post.)

We carry that forward to about 6 AM, when the kids start getting up. Which leads us to….

Step 6: The kids are up. We all exercise as a family. It’s some basic stretches and a 25 minute walk through the neighborhood. Not a leisure stroll, but a break-a-sweat-and-breathe-hard power walk.

Step 7: Shower. Seriously, did you expect otherwise? Ann and I rotate through, with one of us working on our devotional time while the other showers.

Step 8: Dressed, devotions done, head down to grab breakfast.

That brings us to 8 AM. A brief family prayer time, and then I head to work at study/preparation and Ann starts teaching.

That’s it. Our mornings in a nutshell. I’ll break down some aspects in future posts, but if you don’t know how to shower, I don’t know how to help you with that.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Truth: 2 Corinthians 13

In Summary:
Paul is wrapping up his letter to the Corinthians. He has now written them at least twice, and possibly more, but this will end his recorded correspondence with the church at Corinth. He has exhorted the church to stand for what is right in the midst of a culture that had little use for Christianity, and to clean up the church from the infiltration of worldliness. While 2 Corinthians 13 is its own chapter, we should also see at as somewhat of a conclusion to his work with that church. It is possible that he visited the church later, and that is the opening subject of this chapter: he reminds the church that he intends to come and visit them, to see if they are walking in obedience.

As Paul finishes his correspondence, he draws the Corinthians to a very direct point: they need to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith. There is a callback here to 1 Corinthians 11, where he gives the same instruction regarding taking the Lord’s Supper. He is providing them both a closing challenge for the individual and the church: test yourself and the group behavior. What should the test be? There are the actions of moral obedience that function as a starting point, but he gives the final test in 13:11. Those who are truly in the faith, who have examined themselves, will be able to live in peace with each other, will grow in their faith, and will be unified about Jesus. His closing sentence is a clear statement of the Trinity: the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14, NASB). If we follow Jesus, we will show grace to one another. If we are children of God the Father, we will have love for one another. If we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, we will have fellowship (not just meal-sharing) with one another.

How are we doing with that in the church today?

In Focus:
Let us put 2 Corinthians 13:8 into our focus for the day. Paul says that we do nothing against the truth, only for the truth. What does that mean?

First, it has a philosophical connection. That which is “the truth” can be opposed, can be argued against, but cannot actually be destroyed. Truth is neither a negotiable item nor an issue of perception. Truth does not depend on a certain point of view, though points of view can affect one’s access to the truth.

Second, there is a practical connection. Truth is not stronger, more true, or the opposites because of anything someone does. In this concept, Paul is speaking of those things which are unchanging truth. It is not “the truth about who really discovered America” but a deeper concept, an unchanging reality that is universal.

Third, there is a personal connection. Paul asserts that the truth does not need anyone, and in so doing implies that he knows this truth, that he presents this truth, and that even if all the Corinthians bailed out on the truth, it will still be true. This was as big of a deal in the Greco-Roman Empire and its pluralism as it is for the modern world.

In Practice:
Practically speaking, we are not really that different from the world of Paul. Philosophically, many different schools of thought lay claim to holding the truth. The overarching viewpoint of the current day is that no one can possibly be certain their particular view is absolutely right, and so we live in a pluralistic society where the only absolute claim that is acceptable is that no one can make absolute claims. We also find ourselves concerned about defending the truth or about assaults on the truth, and while there are knowledge problems where facts are assaulted as “not true” when they are, or alternates are presented that are “not true” but claimed that they are, the ultimate truth is still unassailable.

And then we hit the personal connection: do we know the truth? And if we do, do we live like it? If the Gospel is true, that God put on flesh, dwelt among us, that Jesus died for us and rose again, then do we show that in our lives? Because if the ultimate truth is Jesus (John 14:6 might be relevant here), then we ought to live that out.

Instead, though, our lives and churches invest a great deal in attempting to “defend” the truth or stressing that something will “disprove” our faith. For example, consider the investments in archeology with hopes of “proving” the Bible, or our fears when CNN runs something they claim “disproves” the resurrection (which has never been successfully done). We sit and wait on those rather than acting on the truth as if it were true and unassailable. We live like God needs our help rather than acknowledging how deep our need for Him goes.

I suggest that we invest more of our time in learning the truth through the Word of God than we spend in trying to defend the truth. There is a value in defending the faith, defending the truth, but in many ways the church has become like a hospital that has learned to keep out bacterial infections and forgotten how to treat patients. The floors are clean but we are not entirely sure what we are supposed to be doing as we walk on them.

Alongside that, may we also recognize that how we live may obstruct other people’s view of the truth, but it does not change the truth. Likewise, our own heroes can point us to the truth but they are not the truth. Let us strive to fixate our thoughts on Jesus Himself, and never be so addicted to one of His representatives that that person has power over our grasp of the truth.

In Nerdiness: 

1. Writing to the Corinthians: there are some who advocate that 1 Corinthians 5:9 indicates a letter before 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians 2:3-4, 7:8 indicate a letter between 1 and 2 Corinthians. The Baker Exegetical Commentary volumes, the NICNT volumes, the Pillar NT volumes, all are worth consulting on this matter. (I’m not discounting others, those are the ones I looked at.)

2. Paul’s citation of Deuteronomy 17:6, about needing “two or three witnesses” is interesting here. He places this in context with his warnings to the church: I warned you once, I’ve warned you again, and so now my warnings are established seems to be what you have in 2 Corinthians 13:2. If that is so, then it should inform our own understanding that “two or three witnesses” may not automatically mean two or three impartial observers.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Sermon Recap for September 2

Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.

If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here:

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here:

Sermons are stockpiled here:


With the Labor Day weekend, we didn’t have an evening service. So, there’s no evening sermon. Also as a warning: next week’s sermon will be delivered by an IMB missionary who does not need to be put on YouTube. Church members, if you are absent and want a DVD copy, talk directly to me and I’ll lend you one. But it won’t be uploaded.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Sermon Recap for August 26

Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.

If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here:

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here:

Sermons are stockpiled here:


Monday, August 20, 2018

Sermon recap for, well, a few weeks

Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.

If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here:

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here:

Sermons are stockpiled here:


Yes, I’ve been behind. Trying to dig out now. There are several weeks included here.

Here’s the Audio Player:


August 12 AM:

August 12 PM:

August 19 AM:

August 19 PM:

Thank you!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Sermon Recap for July 29 (and 22)

Good Morning!

Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.

If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here:

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here:

Sermons are stockpiled here:


July 29 AM: (Audio)

July 29 PM: (Audio)

July 22 AM: (Audio)

July 22 PM: (Audio)

Monday, July 9, 2018

Sermon Recap for July 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: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here:

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here:

Sermons are stockpiled here:


Audio Player:

Morning Sermon: 1 Peter 4:7-11 (download)

Evening Sermon: 1 Peter 4:1-6 (download)

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

For the Fourth of July

As someone trying to grow into a historian, I’m increasingly concerned about how little we know about what has happened, and how much we “know” that isn’t true…a good starting point is to come back to original documents. So, here we are:

  The Declaration of Independence —A Transcription


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

  He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

  He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

  He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

  He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

  He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

  He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

  He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

  He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

  He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

  He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

  He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

  He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

  He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

  For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

  For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

  For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

  For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

  For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

  For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

  For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

  For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

  For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

  He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

  He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

  He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

  He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

  He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


New York
Button Gwinnett
George Wythe
William Floyd
Lyman Hall
Richard Henry Lee
Philip Livingston
George Walton
Thomas Jefferson
Francis Lewis

Benjamin Harrison
Lewis Morris
North Carolina
Thomas Nelson, Jr.

William Hooper
Francis Lightfoot Lee
New Jersey
Joseph Hewes
Carter Braxton
Richard Stockton
John Penn

John Witherspoon

Francis Hopkinson
South Carolina
Robert Morris
John Hart
Edward Rutledge
Benjamin Rush
Abraham Clark
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Benjamin Franklin

Thomas Lynch, Jr.
John Morton
Rhode Island
Arthur Middleton
George Clymer
Stephen Hopkins

James Smith
William Ellery
George Taylor

John Hancock
James Wilson
Samuel Adams
George Ross
Roger Sherman
John Adams

Samuel Huntington
Robert Treat Paine
William Williams
Elbridge Gerry
Caesar Rodney
Oliver Wolcott

George Read

Thomas McKean
New Hampshire
Samuel Chase

Josiah Bartlett
William Paca

William Whipple
Thomas Stone

Matthew Thornton
Charles Carroll of Carrollton

The Declaration of Independence (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Bible Software, 1998).

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 8:21 AM July 4, 2018.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Thorns, Visions, Leaders, and Fellowship: 2 Corinthians 12

In Summary:
Well, we’ve reached one of the great “weird” chapters of the New Testament. 2 Corinthians 12 sees Paul speak of “a man” who was caught up to the third heaven and saw Paradise and heard “inexpressible words.” And then, Paul speaks of his thorn in the flesh, some unclear “messenger from Satan” that is there to keep him humble. It’s a perfectly clear chapter apart from that. Well, except for the identity of “the brother” that Paul sent with Titus. 2 Corinthians 12 provides fertile ground for speculation and imagination.

Which we will indulge in up to a point, but there comes a time to move from that to the more profitable exercise of exegesis: striving to understand the contents of the text. It is entirely possible to not understand a portion of a chapter and still grasp the overall meaning that God has put in the text. After all, while God requires us to have the Holy Spirit illuminate the text for us to fully understand the text, He didn’t give it to us to ponder, be confused by, and then never read. The word of God is given that we may know the Word of God in Christ Jesus.

So, we’ll put most of the speculations into the “In Nerdiness” section where it belongs and focus on the rest of the chapter.

Paul is continuing to defend his status and role as an apostle. A word might be useful here about why he needs to do this. At this point in the growth of the church, they have two primary sources for Truth in the church: the Jewish Scriptures (what we call the Old Testament) and the teaching of the Apostles who told them about Jesus. The church is not yet in possession of the New Testament (not written, mostly, yet), so what they know about Jesus comes from the Apostles, the eyewitnesses of the Risen Jesus. That makes being considered an “Apostle” a big deal because your teaching is authoritative and trusted. Paul needs to demonstrate and hold his claim to this status so that his teaching about Jesus is considered accurate. And when you look at the folks who opposed Paul: the Judaizers who wanted to add Jewish law to the Gospel; the folks in Corinth from 1 Corinthians who were sexually immoral; the people who tried to use the Gospel for profit—it’s a good thing he did! The Truth remains the same, with or without defenders, but it is far easier to know it if someone trustworthy proclaims it!

In Focus:

For a focal verse, let us move past the visions and thorns and look long and hard at 2 Corinthians 12:20. Here, Paul expresses his concern that his arrival in Corinth will find the church tied up in jealousy, temper, disputes, arrogance, and a host of ego-driven problems. Ego-centrism is diametrically opposed to the Gospel: you cannot be full of self, driven by self, and serving only yourself and also follow Jesus Christ as Lord. It just does not work—and Paul is reminding the Corinthians of this.

He wants to settle as many of their disputes with him, and by extension, with each other, before he gets there so that his time with them is a time of building up, not breaking down. He then commands them to repent of impurity, immorality, and perversion before he gets there—because they cannot be right with each other until they get right with God!

In Practice:

What does this look like for us? After all, we have the Bible so we don’t necessarily need Apostles, right? I think the argument should be made that the Apostles are the eyewitnesses of the Risen Christ, and so we do not have Apostles, whether we need them or not. (And if we needed them, God would have loopholed them so we would have them. He didn’t, so we don’t.)

The issue at stake for us is two-fold: leadership and fellowship. Leadership first: while we are not dealing with the exact same qualifications as an Apostle of the first century, those who would lead a church today should look long and hard at what Paul uses to justify himself: his sacrifice, which was real. Not some nebulous “I could have made millions as a something else” sacrifice or a “look how hard this is, somebody bring me a Fresca” type of ranting, but rather as a “How can you think I’m doing this for myself when you see how much trouble it is? If this was for me, I’d mail it in, go fishing with somebody…” He has worked and shown himself to be true.

We need to consider the same thing in our leadership: too many times, we allow a natural gifting to overwhelm our good sense or a feeling of amazement at one great moment. But the moment does not always make the man: the church must be more aware of how they invest authority in leaders and must put more effort into preparing leaders.

Second, we must consider fellowship. There can be no true fellowship in the midst of strife, jealousy, disputes, slanders, and so forth—so what do we have in our churches? There are problems among us because we are not repentant of our sins, and that drives us to lash out at others rather than fix our own hearts. Let the impurity go from each one of us, and we might be astounded what God will do with our relationships with each other.

In Nerdiness: 

As discussed above:
1. “I know a man:” almost all of the commentaries I have take this as autobiographical, and just the manner of speaking in that era. Especially when Paul goes from “knowing a man” who had these visions to he, Paul, having a thorn so that he didn’t get arrogant because of the visions. Hard to figure that he got the thorn if he didn’t have the visions, true?

2. “The third heaven:” really? We want to talk about that, too? Sure thing: it is either the “third heaven” which is above the heaven the birds fly in and the heaven the stars are in and is, therefore, Eternity-type heaven, or there are levels to eternity that we don’t understand. Dante picked that view, for both Heaven and Hell. Either way, Paul has a vision of the unseen things, and he is not permitted to talk about it.

3. Okay, he cannot talk about it—he heard “inexpressible words.” That particular phrase is sometimes used to move speaking in “tongues” into speaking in “heavenly languages” which nobody understands, but that doesn’t work, because a human is not allowed to speak those words. No, we do not know what they are…and probably will be so engaged in the presence of Jesus in eternity that we’ll forget we care.

4. The Thorn in the Flesh, a Messenger from Satan! Paul’s great problem. It’s been suggested that he has poor eyesight, that he has some other illness, or that he has a relational issue. Perhaps this is his expression of frustration, “Why, Lord, do I have to keep battling the same stupid arguments about Judaizing or legalism, over, and over, and over again?” Whatever it was, it was not going away—and Paul had to cope with that. God does not solve all of our problems. He instead provides us Himself, and that is a far better solution.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Sermon Recap for July 1

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: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here:

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here:

Sermons are stockpiled here:


Sunday night is not here since it was a bit overly short. I’ll get it uploaded up some point and it will be in the Youtube Channel and Audio player feeds.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Book: Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation

Still trying to clean up book reviews. Unfortunately, I let this one slip past me, as it was a great read. Robert J. Morgan spoke to a small pastor's group I was once in, and I was impressed by his compassion and desire to help people grow. He struck me as someone who wanted to help each person he knew grow in Christ, and that he never saw a large audience, rather every individual person in that audience. I got this book free for the review.

"Mediation" is a word that stirs up some trouble in Christian churches. Rightly so, as some forms of meditation are antithetical to Christian practice--one does not "empty the mind" so much as focus the mind on Jesus and His Word, for example. But the proverbial baby has gone out with the bathwater in this discussion. There are Biblical imperatives to meditate, but what does that mean?

Answering that question is Robert J. Morgan's Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation. In this work, Morgan takes us through the Biblical material that provides instruction on meditation and also discusses some of the erroneous ideas about meditation that have crept into some Christian materials.

Through the course of the work, Morgan's concern that we understand "Biblical Meditation" as a focus on the "Biblical" part of the term is evident. He bases the idea in Psalm 46:10, that we need at times to "be still" and deepen our understanding of what it means that He is God.

Overall, it's hard to find a fault with this book. It's compact and each chapter is an easy one-setting read, so that you can work through it in your morning devotional time in the span of just a couple of weeks. It's a good challenge. He illustrates the text throughout with historical vignettes as well as Biblical material.

One of the other good things in this work is the last chapter encouraging Scripture memory. While Morgan has an entirely separate work on that subject, his connection of meditation and memorization are valuable. Why? Because meditating involves recalling what is in your mind, and if your mind is filled with Scripture, then that's what will come out.

I highly recommend this for an individual or for a group study in your church.

(Free book from BookLook Bloggers for the review, but as a long-term Robert J. Morgan fan, I'd have bought it anyway.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Lights and Deception: 2 Corinthians 11

In Summary:

Paul continues to work through the challenges to his leadership in Corinth and the wider Christian world of the time. While the focus of 2 Corinthians 11 is his relationship with the church at Corinth, an Apostle would have been respected, should have been respected, by all of the churches of the time. As such, he is defending not only his work in the one local church, but also his work throughout the body of Christ.

Reading through this chapter, it is important to recognize that Paul is going to use several contextually-normal rhetorical devices to make his point. He’ll refer to his ‘foolishness’ and to his skills and his effectiveness. He will also point out that he is personally committed to the Corinthians and contrast that with the manner in which others have, apparently, treated them. Verse 20, for example, makes it clear that some bad things have happened to the church at Corinth, yet the Corinthians seem unwilling to reject the people responsible for those occurrences. Perhaps they were too afraid to cross up the celebrity apostles of the day by rejecting them outright.

Paul highlights, as the chapter comes to a close, that one of the marks of a true apostle is his willingness to face danger for the sake of the Gospel. Paul testifies to his experiences, not in the abstract, of dangers faced for the Christ he serves. The wolves, on the other hand, tend to flee the risks of the work. We do not have records to see what they claimed, but one can almost fill in the gaps: that if Paul had any sense, he would have avoided the dangers, the robbers, etc.., and Paul is embracing the danger as part of the task.

In Focus:

For a focus, though, let us move off of Paul and onto 2 Corinthians 11:14. Here we see the most insidious problem that churches will face: the masquerade. Take from verse 13 through verse 15 as a unit and the picture becomes clear: those who are false prophets are agents of Satan, out to destroy.

And Satan uses deception to advance his purposes, just as his servants disguise themselves as God-honoring servants. As we consider this, the dangers come into view: the first glance at a false prophet, a deceitful worker, will look like someone who is doing good things for the Church. After all, these men had deceived the churches which learned from the Apostles themselves! Their deeds will, eventually, expose them as false but not before they lead many astray.

To that end, Paul warns the church at Corinth: BE AWARE, but also do not be so surprised. They should expect this.

In Practice:

And so should we: deceivers still come around and try to destroy churches. They come in many flavors, and we need to address a few of those here.

First, there is the willful deceiver. This is the person who knows what they are doing is wrong, and comes deliberately to do wrong and bring harm to the people of the church. There are more of these than you would expect! They prey on our unwillingness to ask probing questions, our unwillingness to push back against a forceful personality, and our over-willingness to let people do whatever they like, for fear they’ll leave!

Second, there is the unwitting deceiver. There is a bit more to be pitied in this person, because they are not aware of their errors. They still take people along with them, and need to be corrected. But the malice is absent. These tend to come in two basic types. You have the ones who have slidden, over time, away from a solid faith. They started off good and Christ-focused, but issues pushed them off the mark into a bad place. Usually it happens in response to someone’s sin: a good example is the youth teacher who becomes legalistic about all forms of boy/girl interaction in response to sexual sin on the part of a few. They are deceived (and deceiving others) that hyper-legalism will substitute for a vibrant relationship. The other portion of this group tends to be those who follow false teachers. Perhaps it is because of an old relationship, perhaps because of a personal blind spot, but these folks recycle the bad teaching of a wolf without knowing what they are doing. You can find this when someone frequently brings in the same author/speaker/video presenter and will accept no questions of that person’s ideas. Having a favorite author/speaker/presenter is no sin, but treating that person as infallible is absolutely a problem.

So, what do we do about it?

Three quick thoughts:

1. Know the truth yourself, to the fullest of your ability. That requires effort and diligence, which means you need to treat your Christian walk as a responsibility and not a dessert party. You have to work at your growth in Christ. It will not be automatic.

2. Be willing to ask questions. You need to listen to the answers, because at some point you have to decide if someone is trustworthy or not, but ask questions. Ask good questions: not the fluffy ones but the real ones. The ones that are revealed as much in a life as they are in words. If someone professes one thing but you have never seen evidence of the other, that should be a clue.

3. Be careful of the cynicism that rises up in you as you encounter deceivers. It is absolutely true that some folks are out to use you, abuse you, or otherwise harm you. It is certainly false that everyone is out to do so. Now, avoiding cynicism is not the same as having no defense—the wise person locks their car, the cynic never takes it out of the garage. Both are trying to avoid it being stolen, but one is still using their resources for life.

(and someone who has had many bad experiences will, understandably, need more times of staying in the garage.)

4. Seek the wisdom of others. It is tragic the number of times that we treat others as non-existent when we need help. Many wise people in your life probably feel like Cassandra: shouting the truth and being fully ignored by those in need. Ask for help, and be fully forthcoming in your requests. It is very, very difficult to give wise counsel to those who only tell half the problem.

5. When you identify a deceiver, do not keep it to yourself. Pass that information on to those who need it! Not out of malice, but out of compassion for others.

In Nerdiness: 

1. Take note of 2 Corinthians 11:7-9 when some use Paul’s occasional tent-making as a justification that ministers/preachers should never be paid. Here Paul expresses that his wages for working in Corinth were supplied by other churches—he was not always working outside of teaching/preaching! We should also take from this, though, an additional thought: when our churches can sustain multiple ministers, is it not worth considering that we should be like the Macedonians and fund a minister to a church, that he may serve without straining that church? Usually we want the excess spent on more of what we want, or we send it off, but there are many areas in need of a solid, local Gospel witness, that are only a few miles from large churches—but while the large church adds a fifth, sixth, seventh, full-time employee, the church a bit further away lacks the resources for one minister. We could do better about sharing as Baptists, this much I do know.

2. We assemble parts of Paul’s biography from the end of the chapter, but we cannot fit all of those details into the narrative of Acts. So, we don’t know where his shipwrecks were, all of his floggings, etc..

Monday, June 25, 2018

Sermon Recap for June 24

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: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here:

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here:

Sermons are stockpiled here:


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Book: Best Bible Books New Testament Resources

Today’s book could be subtitled “My Christmas List,” as it’s a list of useful New Testament resources. When the Old Testament Resources and the Church History Resources volumes come out (if they exist), their subtitles will be “My Father’s Day List” and “My Birthday and any other day that ends in ‘y’ List.”

There are a myriad of resources on the market for the study of the New Testament. If you’re like me, you have some that you really like, some that you are used to, and much of your purchase-planning is based on authors you already know. What, though, do you do once you own all the resources from the Ouachita faculty? Where do you go for the next list?

For years, John Glynn’s Commentary and Reference Study was the go-to source for that information. It gave the reader a look at many of the books for Biblical Studies and guided one to the best bang for the buck on the market. Today’s book, Best Bible Books: New Testament Resources is, effectively, the 11th edition of that time-honored help. Dr. Glynn has passed away, but Michael H. Burer has edited the work with the help of faculty and students at Dallas Theological Seminary. The choice was made to create this volume strictly for the New Testament, to make the packaging more manageable and to enable a quicker production.BBBBNTR

The work opens with some basic guidance for the serious student of Scripture. It’s somewhat reassuring to read the “you should really have this book” list and realize some of it was written by professors I have had, and the rest of it was used by professors I have had. Beyond that, though, the list is excellent about how to build up the library in a good order. From there, you have graded resources in general aspects of New Testament studies then you get an annotated bibliography evaluating most of the available commentaries book-by-book through the New Testament.

It’s hard to find any fault here—one could quibble with Glynn and Burer’s ratings of commentaries, but all-in-all the work here should guide the purchaser well in choosing what you need. Further, you’ll see insights into the design of each commentary and its intention. I did find the division of “evangelical-moderate-liberal” interesting, as I suppose “conservative” has a bit too much baggage to fit where “evangelical” is being used.

This is a great resource for building a good library with the best use of your resources.

I did receive this book free from Kregel Academic.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Sermon Recap for June 10 and 17

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: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here:

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here:

Sermons are stockpiled here:


June 17 Video:

June 10 AM Video:

June 10 PM Video:

Three Circles Video:

3-Circles Life Conversation Guide Demonstration from North American Mission Board on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Book: The Hermeneutics of the Biblical Writers

I greatly enjoy getting to read extra books for the blog. One of my favorite publishers is Kregel Academic and Ministry, because they seem to have a standard of taking the text seriously in all their publications. The authors may not always be in line with my opinions, but they are serious about the work. That is what keeps me striving to keep up with the free ones Kregel Academic sends, so they can send more. Today’s book was provided by them, and features a scholar I’ve been reading bits of for some time now.HBWChoucover

Abner Chou’s The Hermeneutics of the Biblical Writers attempts to understand how the writers of Scripture, specifically the Prophets of the Old Testament and the Apostles of the New, understood the parts of Scripture which they read. For example, how does Isaiah interpret the Pentateuch? How does Peter interpret the Psalms of David, or the author of Hebrews (Luke, per David Allen, see Lukan Authorship of Hebrews) involve the narratives of the Books of the Kings?

It is important, is it not, to consider that question? We can spend hours upon hours of study and reach our own conclusions, but is it not valuable to consider this question? I know that I have, at times, read Matthew’s application of prophecy in the Gospels and wondered where it came from.

Now, a simplistic response would be to say that the Apostles and Prophets were inspired, so they didn’t have a hermeneutic, or method of Bible understanding, at all. But that’s making the answer more of a spiritual problem, as if God was not working through people in the writing.

Chou’s work is definitely more of an advanced studies work than an introduction to hermeneutics. He delves into debates about intertextuality and raises scholarly divisions like the difference between a “redemptive movement hermeneutic” and a “hermeneutic sensitive to redemptive history.” In all, you’ll want to have your academic mind ready.

The example given of tracking “seed” from Genesis on to the Messiah is a useful tool. Chou shows how one word gets used, reused, and how the meaning gets integrated into other texts.

In all, I like this work. Chou’s writing style is dense, and at times a bit of a challenge to follow, because he does tend to circle back onto points. But it’s not impenetrable. Just a bit challenging late at night!

Do I recommend this for everyone? Not really. This is an academic study, not a casual read. Still, if you want to start into the debate about hermeneutics and intertextuality, both the work and the included bibliography will make a great start.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Image of a Warrior: 2 Corinthians 10

In Summary:

2 Corinthians 10 continues Paul’s defense of his work and his role as an apostle of Christ. He is dealing with a spectrum of accusations and here actually presents some of them. For example, v. 10 lets us know that Paul was accused of being “unimpressive” in person, that he was hard to listen to (or, perhaps, too easy to listen to and not lofty and elevated). He talks about his work, and does so to contrast what were apparently self-promoters in the church.

That’s a challenge to deal with, because the simplest way for Paul to shut them down is to point out how awesome he is, rattle off the fullness of his credibility. He could have demolished a bad argument or two, but in the end, he would have looked a bit more like a jerk and less like an apostle. That’s self-defeating: let me prove I’m a better Christian by shouting you down and shutting you up. It may seem reductionist, but that’s worth considering: is that the argument you are making?

This is not Paul’s point. Now, I think it’s worth noting that he’s wrestling with two different issues here. First, there are those who are pseudo-apostles, trying to make a living preaching a Gospel they do not really believe. They are working to fit the mold of roving sage, just as the many philosophies of the Greco-Roman World had. They could talk the talk, but the life was not quite there. It may have been a virtuous life, but it was a dead life as well. They were impressive, though, and that made life a bit tougher for Paul. The missionary that flies coach/standby always looks a bit more disheveled when they show up to preach than the guy who stepped off his private jet, though. Paul was in a similar situation: he looked a bit more worn because he was not using his resources to look good or travel in luxury. He certainly did not need his own multi-million drachma personal transportation, either. Jesus walked until He needed a colt to fulfill His Word; Paul was much more interested in being like Jesus than anybody else.

The second group was a bit tougher to straighten out. Some of the other Apostles, from the original Twelve, were also traveling and preaching. And, because they had walked with Jesus, they were often received in high honor. It is likely, given the other references to “I follow Peter…” and other mentions of the Apostles in both Corinthian letters, Paul is dealing with the church getting a bit too fanboy of some of these Apostles and comparing Paul to them. It’s not fair to do so—Peter or John can talk about being in storms that were stilled, seeing the 5,000 fed. And Paul does not want to outdo those. He just needs the church to listen to the Word of God instead of becoming idolaters of Apostles. We have trouble with this, too, because we take our heroes of the faith and make them untouchable. Yet all of them were human. They suffered, they struggled—Lottie Moon had bad days; Dietrich Bonhoeffer had some odd theology; the Venerable Bede wasn’t always venerable! 

Paul, then, is trying to assert the validity of his ministry without taking a shot at Peter, but also nudging aside impostors. No wonder he had some trouble!

In Focus:

The verses I need to focus on the most right are 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, so let’s go there. Paul goes straight to the heart of many of our problems: we walk around in the flesh. Our lives are lived in the body, in a sin-soaked world, surrounded by troubles and internally challenged by our old sin nature. We walk around in the flesh. That is the reality now just as it was then. 

But we do not war according to the flesh—we do not go into conflicts driven by winning the way the flesh wins. (Check Ephesians 6 if you want to know if he’s consistent.) We war with weapons designed to fight the spiritual battles around us. Paul is highlighting that we are not always going to look like we are rightly equipped, but the standard is the spiritual issue.

He goes on, and in verse 5 brings forward taking every thought captive for Christ. The war, ultimately, is about self-control so that the glory of God shines through us and others see the grace of Christ. The matters at hand are far more important than true and false apostles, but come all the way back to the Creator of All. If someone is truly an apostle, then see Jesus shine through them.

In Practice:

Well, I wish this were easy. But it’s not. My first tendency is to war according to the flesh, because my enemies are in the flesh. Sometimes they are outside of the church, and I just want to rise up and force my way onto the world rather than winning the world to Christ. Sometimes, my enemies are within the church, and I’d like to use a bit of aggressive negotiation to bring them to my way of thinking. I get short, snappy, angry, and question the salvation and humanity of my opponents. But that is the way of the world—see the modern political climate and realize just how dreadful that is when brought into the church!

And, finally, I do war with myself as if the problem is merely flesh. As if I can correct myself with earthly means when the problem is spiritual rot. The solution is to live growing in obedience to Christ, not to merely discuss my own wretchedness.

It is far better practice to advance obedience to Jesus than to attempt to flatten the flesh. He is a big enough God to clear His own space.

In Nerdiness: 

I’m so far out of the habit that I’m struggling to do this whole thing, much less catch nerd notes…

1. Fortresses=ὀχύρωμα=ochyroma and this means…”fortresses.” Is he talking about spiritual powers? Or just deeply dug-in sinful responses in our lives? Great question….

2. Paul’s reference to “regions beyond” in v. 16 suggests he wanted to travel past Greece. This could be Italy, though in Romans he references a desire to go to Spain. 

3. Note the challenges to Paul’s rhetoric: that he writes aggressively but speaks calmly. But is that not sometimes necessary? Clarity in print can be mistaken as harshness.

Sermon from May 19 2024

 Good morning! Yesterday we talked about Simon Magus. Didn't actually hit on the sin of simony, because we don't really see it that ...