Blog Archives

Bootcamp to Battlefield – Colossians 3:1-17

A message given at Reston Bible Church – October 14, 2018

When you put your faith in Christ, you enter into a new life, you place yourself under a new authority, you take on a new identity, you are given a new purpose, and you have a new love.

DOWNLOAD AUDIO HERE

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

  1. What was one thing from this message that you found particularly interesting, helpful, or challenging?
  2. If someone were to ask you to explain what Christianity is all about, what would you tell him?
  3. What do life, authority, identity, purpose, and love look like in the world? How are they different in Christ? How did your life change when you came to faith in Christ and “put on the new self”?
  4. Read and discuss Colossians 3:1-17. How does this passage describe and instruct your new life, new authority, new identity, new purpose, and new love in Christ?
  5. What does it mean to say that Christ “is your life”? Can you profess that with a whole heart? If not, what is holding you back?
  6. What does unity in the body of Christ look like? Why is that unity such a powerful testimony to the world?
  7. Spend some time in prayer that God would help you so that “whatever you do, whether in word or deed” would be done in the name of Jesus.

Speaking this weekend at Friendship Baptist Church

“Reviving our Fire for Kids and Families Weekend”

Join me this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Friendship Baptist Church in Chesterfield, VA for a weekend of Family-focused, Christ-centered equipping, encouragement, and exhortation.  Topics to include parenting, marriage, missions, and children’s ministry.  More information available at www.friendshipva.org 

In the Eye of the Storm

A talk given at HomeFront, a couples ministry of Reston Bible Church

eye of the storm

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. What was one thing you found particularly challenging, insightful, thought provoking, or helpful from today’s talk?
  2. Why do I entertain escapist ideas or at times want to run from other’s in need?
  3. What are some storms going on around you, now or in the past, that you’ve wished you could hide from?
  4. How have you seen Christ use your times in the “eye” to help others?

BEING DOCTORS WHO MAKE HOUSE CALLS

What if Jesus had stayed in the temple courts or the synagogue teaching? What if He never ventured out into the community, never called old Zach down from the tree, never ate with tax collectors and sinners, never touched the sick and hurting? Why don’t doctors make house calls these days? I’m not sure, but wouldn’t it be interesting if suddenly people stopped going to a doctors office or hospital when they were ill?

What if they thought that was the last place to go to be healed? How long would it take for the docs to begin making house calls again? Not long I suspect. Is the church today, the body of Christ the great Physician, staying in the hospital building waiting for the sick to show up? Or, worse yet, staying in the hospital talking about the remedy but secretly hoping that the sick stay away?

I think Jesus was less like a physician as we know it today and more like a field medic or a country doctor of days past. He went out looking for the lost sheep. Let’s help give our children a heart for the lost and pray that the Lord would use them to make Christ known in the world!

(Excerpt from Extreme Makeover: Spiritual Edition, a children’s curriculum by Michael J. Meyers)

Grow Up: Maturing in Christ

A sermon given at Reston Bible Church – April 15, 2018

Speaking at Reston Bible Church this Sunday 4/12 @ 9 and 10:45

Who are you following?

A message given to the youth at Reston Bible Church – March 25, 2018

Questions for Reflection:

1. What counterfeit adventures or solutions to life’s struggles have you been following? How is that working out for you?

2. What is holding you back from following Jesus?  

Meeting of the Waters – Journey to marriage oneness: Part 5 of 5

Equip Their Ship

sailing shipHave you ever asked yourself the question, “what exactly is my objective in training my children up in the faith?” I know I’ve thought to myself, “Leading them to Christ is my first and greatest objective but then what? Where should my focus be?”   Recently a good friend and mentor of mine pointed something out in Ephesians that I’d like to share with you.

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-12 (emphasis added)

I’ve read this passage in Ephesians many times and the word “equip” has always given me the sense that we were to be preparing the body, through spiritual training, to carry on the work of the kingdom. This I believe is true. But the mental picture that is communicated by the original Greek word is somewhat lost in our English. The word is “Katartizo” and it means to fit out, make sound, or complete. To fit out. Outfit. It is used in the sense of outfitting as one would think of outfitting a ship that has a journey to complete. First the ship must be seaworthy. The sails must be in good repair, the hull must be sound, all of the navigational tools must be present and working properly, charts maps, etc. Additionally the ship will need to be supplied with all of its provisions for the journey. Food, water, etc.

So as parents and the church, our role is that of a loving spiritual outfitter. What a wonderful picture. More important, yes MORE important, eternally more important than our roles as academic outfitter, athletic outfitter, financial outfitter, is our God given mission as our child’s spiritual outfitter.

I will close with a quote from Patrick Henry’s will, “I have disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I wish I could give to them, and that is the Christian religion. If they had that and I had not given them one cent, they would be rich. If they have not that, and I had given them the world, they would be poor.” I could not have said it any better. Equip their ship.

May you be blessed in your role as outfitter!

An Integrated Approach to Sermon Preparation: Applied to Philippians 3:1-14 – Part 2

Man-readingThe process I will walk you through today is in 5 steps;  (1) identify the boundaries of the text, (2) choose appropriate analytical tools, (3) interpret the true point(s) of the passage, (4) apply the passage, and finally (5) develop a rhetorical strategy for effective communication.   I will use Philippians 3:1-14 as a test case for this process throughout this presentation.

Boundaries

The old question and answer, “How does one eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” applies to the study of God’s word as well.  The full counsel of God cannot be fully explored on any subject in a single sermon and so we must choose what passage or passages of scripture we will exposit.  There are many approaches to setting these textual boundaries, but in the case of Philippians 3 we will utilize rhetorical analysis to identify the pericope for exposition.  Verses 1 and 2 give us our first marker through the use of a very brief introductory narrative which introduces the audience, “my brothers and sisters,” Paul’s goal in writing, “a safeguard for you,” and the threat he is addressing, “beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh!”  What follow are Paul’s proposition and his arguments for that proposition.  We find our closing marker in verse 15, “Therefore,” which signals a shift from argument to praxis or from indicative to imperative tone.

Pick your tools

In approaching God’s Word for the purpose of interpretation and exposition, it is critical to first choose the tools that best fit the passage.  In other words, the tool should fit the genre you are interpreting.  The tools appropriate to interpreting a Psalm would likely differ from those you would employ in interpreting an Epistle.  In our example of Philippians 3, Paul’s letter was meant to be read aloud to the churches.  It is in affect a persuasive essay or speech, therefore rhetorical criticism, as we have already employed, would be a valid tool.  The letter was written in a specific time and place in order to address specific challenges being had by the local church in Philippi.  This would indicate that a historical-critical analysis, in particular Greco-Roman cultural analysis, as well as a 1st Century Jewish historical understanding, would be useful in providing the proper lens through which to examine the passage.  In addition, a close reading of the text reveals some etymological questions that a careful word study would help in answering.  Lastly, our ultimate goal for any exposition is to relate what the passage teaches us about God and about ourselves from God’s worldview.  Therefore we must also pull the theological interpretive tool from the bag.   Now we are ready to get to work.

What’s the Big Idea?

Whenever we are working with the inspired word of God it is important that we resist getting cute or inappropriately creative with our interpretation.  While God’s word may be applied to many different circumstances, any given passage only has one meaning.  Recognizing, not inventing, that meaning and communicating it to our audience is the goal.  In our example of Philippians 3, Paul’s proposition in verse 3, “For we are the circumcision, the ones who worship by the Spirit of God, exult in Christ Jesus, and do not rely on human credentials,” is the main point he will elucidate in the following verses and defines the rhetorical situation he is addressing.   In other words, physical circumcision as practiced by the Jews in this context represents the self-righteous acts of the law, while followers of Christ exult in His works of righteousness on their behalf and do so by faith through the Spirit of God, not depending on their own effort which adds nothing to Christ’s completed work.  Following this rhetorical framework Paul then responds to the implied argument from his opponent that credentials matter. He does via a description of his own impressive credentials, “If someone thinks he has good reasons to put confidence in human credentials, I have more,” which he then immediately dismisses three times in increasingly strong language.  They are liabilities because of Christ, liabilities compared to knowing Christ, and finally, they have the worth of excrement compared to being found “in Christ.”  In plain language, self-righteousness is a pile of useless dung when compared to the righteousness based on the faithfulness of Jesus.  It is this righteousness from God that is available to us in Christ.

Application

Once I have determined the appropriate interpretation or point of the passage, I take time again to read and reread the passage, meditating on what it means or has meant practically in my life.  The best place to start with Philippians 3 is with Paul himself.  What did it mean in his life?  How would he apply this truth? He makes this clear in verses 10-14.   Because of Christ’s faithfulness, Paul has four aims in life that we can share; to know Christ, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death.  In verse 11 Paul states the goal of these aims is to “attain” (Greek – katantaō) to the resurrection of the dead.  It is important that we understand that the word “attain” here should not be construed as “earned.”  The Greek verb means to arrive at or to come to.  Paul’s desire is to be like Christ in everyway and persevere until His coming and the resurrection of the dead on the last day.  In this sense Paul’s “striving” or running after in verse 14 is not a work in order to earn salvation, but a deep ceded desire to know Christ more and more.    Having arrived at an interpretation and before beginning to compose a message, it is the cautious pastor who will look at some trusted commentaries to make sure he hasn’t made any fatal flaws or missed any nuggets that could be helpful to his final product.

The Exposition

Much as Paul employed rhetoric in writing to the churches of the 1st Century, so we will take the product of our interpretive work and put together the pieces in a way that is clear, convincing, memorable, and moves our hearers to action/application.  In doing this we will ask ourselves questions like; what historical background or etymological information that I have uncovered will be useful in my opening narrative?  How can I phrase my proposition in such a way that it will be memorable and complete?  What will be my arguments from scripture for that point? What potential objections or questions might my hearers have and how I can answer them?   How I can employ elements like parable, metaphor, or hyperbole to make the point more memorable and move my hearer to action?  What combination of my personal testimony on the subject (ethos), emotional appeal (pathos), and logical argumentation (logos) will have the greatest impact on my hearers?  What action or attitude do I desire to evoke from my audience?  Answering these questions will assist us in developing our manuscript from which our sermon will derive.

As you apply these steps; identifying boundaries, choosing exegetical tools, arriving at an interpretation, finding application, and finally developing a rhetorical strategy for preaching, we must keep in mind our ultimate objective.  It is not our purpose to reinvent what Paul said to the 1st Century church at Philippi, but rather to develop an interpretation and application that are faithful to the text and then to present them to the 21st Century church in a such a way that the power of God may be made manifest through it in their lives for the glory of Christ.