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: 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!

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: 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!

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.


Doug

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: 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!


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.


Sermon Recap for September 20

Good evening! We had some major technical difficulties this week, so we don’t have the music part of the service, and you get the video from...