Preaching Philippians

June 7, 2011 2 comments

This summer I will be preaching through the book of Philippians. I try to preach through at least 1 book every year, and thus far I have preached through 1 John and James. I also preached through the first 2 chapters of Romans before circumstances forced me to end that series. I have also taught several books during our Wednesday night Bible studies. I always enjoy preaching or teaching through a book of the Bible. It settles me and allows me to be more open to what God wants our people to hear week by week. Topical preaching is becoming rather difficult to do as I become more and more expositional in my methodology.

As I’ve seen several others do, I thought it would be nice to share what materials I’m using for study and prep.

Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Philippians by Moises Silva. Silva’s commentary is technical enough to engage those familiar with Greek, but not so much that a layperson cannot access it. Very insightful and a good help.

Philippians: An Expositional Commentary by James Montgomery Boice. Having read Boice’s books on the 5 Solas and the Doctrines of Grace, I’ve been eager to get into one of his commentaries, each of which is borne out of his own extensive preaching through the book.

The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Epistle to the Philippians by Peter T. O’Brien. This is first and foremost a technical commentary, directly engaging the Greek text of Philippians and is heavily theological in nature. I expect to use this to better understand the text and the theology it communicates.

One commentary I dearly want but cannot find is this:
The Letter to the Philippians (Pillar New Testament Commentary) by G. Walter Hansen. The Pillar series has been getting a lot of good press from pastors and seminarians alike, and by many of those whose book recommendations I take seriously. Fairly new to the scene, I used several of the available commentaries during seminary and really liked the ease of use and expositional nature. If I were to collect a commentary set, it would be the Pillar series, without a doubt.

I’m also using my Calvin’s Commentaries and my Matthew Henry Commentary, as well as my MacArthur Bible Commentary. But these are more supplemental as the 3 listed above are my main sources, the go-to books for this series.

I’m not reading any sermons, and I’m not using any devotionals or Bible study guides so as to approach Philippians as freshly as possible with an eye towards our people. I haven’t seen any non-devotional, non-commentary books out there yet, but I’m looking.

Categories: Sermons

Classic Holocron: Condiments of the Christian Religion

February 21, 2011 24 comments

We regale you today with a Classic Silent Holocron posting from December 2005. I still think this is one of the funniest things I’ve posted on the entire blog. Enjoy!

Condiments?

Well, it all started when Tricia and I went to O’Charley’s for dinner Sunday night. I was in a reflective frame of mind, and I was explaining the doctrine of predestination. Actually, I was trying to explain the doctrine of reprobation, but realized I wasn’t getting anywhere because she didn’t understand predestination. Anyway, I was getting nowhere fast because this is too wordy a discussion for her, I couldn’t keep giving her verbal examples because she was getting lost quickly. And when she gets lost, she gets frustrated. I looked around the table, and in a flash of inspiration, I grabbed all the condiments I could: butter cups (or pats of butter, if you prefer), ketchup, salt, shrimp sauce, and my sweet tea.

Yes, I was a smidgen desperate.

But I successfully explained total depravity, irresistible grace, and predestination to her in one fell swoop, using the condiments as examples. The ketchup, butter, and salt represented humans; the shrimp sauce represented the Holy Spirit, my sweet tea represented Jesus; and I played the role of the Father.

Can you imagine how this conversation went?

Stephen: “Okay, Tricia, now see this stuff? I the high and mighty Balderdash do in my godly power choose the pats of butter, out of all the condiments, to be my people for ever. I send my Son, the Sweet Tea, to die for them that all who believe in me may be saved. I sent the Holy Shrimp Sauce to those whom I have chosen to remove the sin that blocks them from obeying me and doing my will, so that they are now free to choose my Sweet Tea. I send another of my pats of butter who are already saved to witness to them, and because they have been made free because of the sacrifice of the Sweet Tea by the power of the Holy Shrimp Sauce, they can willingly choose to accept the Sweet Tea as their savior and obey and follow me. See that ketchup over there? Because I did not choose him, I am sending him to the unholy garbage pit, where he will rot in a landfill for all eternity. Got it?”

Tricia: “I think so. You chose the butter because butter makes everything better, and you didn’t choose the ketchup because ketchup and butter don’t mix well.”

Okay, this wasn’t the real conversation, honest.

Categories: Classic Holocron

Dealing With Busybodies (Preaching at Self Post)

February 16, 2011 17 comments

This is a therapeutic post. I’m sorta preaching at myself right now. Bear with me.

So, I’ve been pushed into a corner today. I was exhausted from a long day of classes without much sleep. Allowed myself to get angry, I did. Wanted to load both chambers and blast away. And I didn’t particularly care what happened to the target. What could possibly have riled me up so much? Politics? No. Religion? No. Could it have been…Kentucky fans??? Nope.

What bothered me so much today was a busybody.

What Is A Busybody?
A busybody is someone who, quite simply, sticks their nose in your business. This sort of person feels as if they need to know everything going on around them, including everyone else’s business. Usually someone with a lot of idle time, the busybody attempts to fill that time by prying into the lives of those around them.

A busybody could be a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend, a family member, or some other person who would otherwise be uninterested. If the busybody is a friend or acquaintance, they are likely a gossip looking for goodies to share with others. If a family member, they may be gossips as well, or simply trying to be the one “in control” of the family. These family members are usually someone outside of your immediate family – an aunt, uncle, brother, sister, parent, or parent-in-law. If someone else, such as a neighbor or otherwise uninterested party, likely this busybody is just someone looking to make trouble by exerting false control over the lives of others.

Busybodies are tattletales. That’s why most gossips are also busybodies. More often busybodies are the investigative reporters for the gossips, uncovering the latest dirt on you for the rumor mill. They have to tell someone about whatever it is they saw about you that they did not like. Usually their information is not complete; they did not see the entire situation or conversation they are nosing into, they may not know whatever inside knowledge may be present (inside jokes, slang, behaviors, etc.). And the busybody, quite frankly, doesn’t care. They are quite ready to act upon their incomplete knowledge by exerting the false control they perceive themselves to possess.

You could have a bad day at work, or your kids could be having a bad day and throw a fit in public, or it could even be something as mundane and silly as lingering a couple of days before mowing the yard; these are gold mines for busybodies. They are like peeping toms who sneak around and snoop in your windows.

Busybodies often make you want to punch them squarely in the nose. Often you may find yourself saying things like:

“Don’t you have more important things to do than worry about what I’m doing?”

“I don’t see how it’s any of your concern…”

“Don’t you have enough on your own plate?”

“Butt out!”

Often in my secular employment I would tell those of my employees who would “busybody” their teammates something along these lines: “Why don’t you worry about what you’re supposed to be doing, and let me worry about what they’re supposed to be doing?”

What we lack, obviously, is a God-honoring way to deal with the busybodies in our lives.

What Does Scripture Say?
Scripture says that busybodies are idle people who are neglecting their work and go around looking for negative things in the people around them, often to share with others as gossip or to share with an authority figure to make themselves look better (2 Thess. 3:11-12; 1 Tim. 5:13). Busybodies, whether unknowingly or by character, show themselves to be evil-hearted people (Romans 1:28-31). Quite frankly, to be a busybody is to be in sin.

How do we deal with those who are in sin?

Pray
First, we must pray for the busybody above all else. Looking first to prayer directly combats the desire in us to respond in a less than loving way. When your first impulse is to tell them off, make some sort of appropriately snarky comment, or complain to your boss; take a full two minutes to pray. Pray for the busybody, yourself, and the situation. Prayer forces you to calm down. It forces you to breathe. It lowers your blood pressure. It helps you to clear your thoughts. Most importantly, prayer will force you to think Jesus’ thoughts about the busybody. And when you behave like Jesus, you can respond with grace and truth. 1 Peter 2:23 especially speaks to the kind of behavior Jesus exhibited – refusing to repay evil with evil. Praying will force you to do that!

After praying, you may actually find that you have no need to give the busybody any further time and energy. This is absolutely fantastic – all you needed to do was pray!

Process
Second, process what the busybody is saying to you or to others. Have you given the busybody a legitimate reason to butt in? For example, perhaps in the past you had been careless, overlooked something, were ignorant of something, ignored something, or were simply unaware of something. The busybody may simply be harping on a past mistake in hopes you will repeat it or get angry with them, thus giving them the chance to exert their false control. Or perhaps you have continued the observed behavior without realizing it, which gave the busybody ample opportunity to glean the “dirt” they need in order to survive. In this case, thank God for the busybody drawing the item to your attention – the busybody was God’s means of pushing you towards greater sanctification. But what if, after processing, you can think of no legitimate reason for the busybody’s unwanted attentions?

Lovingly confront
Third, lovingly confront the busybody. You should do this even with an unbeliever, no matter how much you may think the unbelieving busybody needs to be smacked upside the head with a 2 x 4! Follow the principles outlined in Matthew 18:15-17 scrupulously. First go to the busybody privately and explain to them you do not appreciate what they are doing. Explain to them (yes, use Scripture!) that what they are doing is sin and affects everyone around them. Explain to them how it makes the home, workplace, extended family, etc. an unhealthy place for everyone involved as long as this behavior continues. Ask them point blank to stop.

If the busybody continues to get up in your business, find a couple of trusted neighbors, friends, family, or co-workers and together confront the busybody. If even then the behavior continues, you have a couple of options.

If the busybody is a co-worker, you will then need to discuss the problem with your immediate supervisor. Often a word from management can stop the behavior in its tracks. If your boss does nothing or refuses to address the problem, follow the appropriate steps your work has put into place for dealing with workplace harassment.

If the busybody is a family member, you may need to speak with the person’s parents or spouse about the behavior. Tell them you need your help resolving an issue with the person. A good parent will correct the behavior, and a good spouse will lead their husband or wife to be better people. If they are unmarried, or out of their parents’ home, go to the family member that holds the most influence over the busybody and ask them for help.

If the busybody is a believer, does he/she attend your church? If so, ask your pastor or pertinent pastoral staff member for help. They should help you follow through on the remainder of Matthew 18.

Doesn’t attend your church? Be careful here. It would be best to still go to your pastoral staff for help, as often pastors in a community know each other and are working together in some ways for the good of the community. Initially, do not tell your pastor who the busybody is out of respect for a fellow believer and the other body of Christ involved. If your pastor and the other pastor decide a meeting is needed, then you are free to identify the busybody.

What if the busybody is not a believer? If you have followed the steps outlined above, follow up with the Gospel. A busybody’s greatest need is not to stop their gossipy meddling, but to be transformed by Christ that their minds may be renewed by the Holy Spirit. Remember also that in dealing with one who professes to be a believer, failure to repent and change is a sign that the person is not saved. Our duty then is no longer edifying the body of Christ, but sharing the Gospel and making disciples. Only regeneration and sanctification will change a busybody!

What if there is NO change?
If, after all this, the busybody refuses to change their ways, then I have a hard question to ask of you. Are you willing to suffer at the hands of the busybody that God may sanctify you (Romans 5:3-5, 8:16-26; Phil. 1:29; Heb. 2:10, 10:32-36)? Are you willing to “share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:3)?”

Finally, heed the wise words of 1 Peter 5:10 – “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” Patiently endure the busybody, that you might receive a greater benefit from God himself.

Finally
I said this was a “therapeutic” post, that I was effectively preaching to self here. It really was therapeutic. It reminded me of the high calling to which I have been called, and my Scriptural need to be above thinking like the world. Instead, I need to be transformed in my mind (Romans 12:2) that I may present Christ clearly to the busybody through my words and actions.

I’m now far calmer than I was when I began writing this post. I’m more clearheaded. And I’m actually at the point where I simply don’t care anymore. That, my friends, is exactly what God wants from me – to care more about HIS nosiness than that of the WORLD!

Categories: Commentary

2011 Fiction Reading List

Everybody’s doing their reading lists, so I felt compelled to join. This list, however, is not a list of “spiritual” reading (i.e. theological, devotional, etc.) but what I like to call “mindless” reading. This sort of reading, to me, is so very important. It allows you to “mind-dump” your brain. It’s a good way to just dump the heavy, serious reading you’ve been doing and refresh your mind. Yes, even if you’ve been heavily reading Scripture! Sometimes we just need to suspend belief, check out, and daydream; and fiction is one of the best ways to do this! I find doing this often helps the heavy reading I’ve been doing to “settle in” and lock into place the different concepts my mind has been grappling with.

Maybe later this week I’ll compile a serious list, but right now I just don’t care. So with no further ado and in random order, the list (titles in italics followed by author):

Steampunk
The Bookman Lavie Tidhar
Clockwork Angel Cassandra Clare
The Buntline Special Mike Resnick
Dreadnought Cherie Priest
Clementine Cherie Priest
The Affinity Bridge George Mann
The Windup Girl Paolo Bacigalupi
Steampunk Prime Mike Ashley

Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Sent Margaret Peterson Haddix
The Orc King R. A. Salvatore
Wizard Squared K. E. Mills
The Warlock Michael Scott

Horror
Morpheus Road: The Black D. J. MacHale
The Walking Dead Robert Kirkman
Drood Dan Simmons

Classics
The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas (I’ve decided to tackle this again)
The Time Machine H. G. Wells
The Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer

Of course, this list could expand or contract (more likely to expand!) as new books come out or as I finish the list. This would be a good reader for yourself or your young person!

Categories: Books & Book Reviews

A Long Overdue Update

December 20, 2010 4 comments

Family Photo

Yes, I know. It has been forever. Sue me.

I have not blogged much this year because, quite frankly, the blogging bug has long since ceased to have much influence. I have not even read many blogs unless they were linked to me through social networking (that is, Twitter and Facebook). Much of my time and energy has been taken up by several concerns, some of which I will briefly update you on today.

Family
My number one duty, above and beyond being a pastor, is my role as a husband and father. This past year has been one of great change for us. As many of you know, last August 2009 we welcomed a new addition in Cassandra Elaine, and in January our oldest, Grace Elizabeth, turned 2! Much of our time has been taken up in handling two fast-growing little girls and trying our best to keep our marriage centered on God and on each other. It is difficult when one works 3rd shift to do all of these things!

Grace is now exercising her large vocabulary regularly, whereas before she was very quiet and reticent about speaking up. She is still very shy and will not speak in the presence of strangers, and still will not repeat things back to us very much. Grace is a very sensitive soul and still does not like to be the center of attention. She loves sporty things and is always trying to toss a ball or wrestle with me! I’m positive she will be an athlete. She has enough appreciation for girly things that she likes clothes and purses and “playing mommy.” She is a very rambunctious 2 year old and will be 3 in January.

Cassie is the love bug in our family! She turned 1 this August, and is the girly girl. Every time we go out, she is so taken with girly things like clothes and jewelry, more so than Grace is. She began walking this summer and is getting into everything now. In contrast to Grace, she wants every eye on her! I’m convinced she will be the diva of the family!

Tricia and I will have been married 5 years next June. We are hoping to finally be able to celebrate our anniversary with a solo trip, but we will see what circumstances dictate. We have much growing to do together as we continue to deepen our commitment to each other. I cannot imagine being with anyone else, nor would I want to be. I understand today what Adam meant by “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh!”

As of right now, there are no immediate plans to have more children. We are leaving this up to the Lord and His timing. We would like to have a boy or two (to balance out the estrogen in our house), so I can tell you there will definitely be more children at some point. We would like to wait a bit and let our girls grow up a little bit, so that way we are not raising a baby with other babies, but instead have two sets of helping hands in Grace and Cassie. So the earliest we might plan to have children again would be next fall (Cassie will be 2). But we are depending on God’s timing and not ours to determine our next child. God willing, we will have several of our own, and at some point in the future we would like to adopt a Deaf child!

Job
I decided last winter that I was fed up with where I was in the job department. 3rd shift has left me quite cranky most days and some days I have to remind myself not to be short with my wife and children. In addition, being bi-vocational is not financially beneficial for most Deaf pastors. I work part-time for our church and part time for UPS, and honestly our finances are not where they need to be. The majority of Deaf churches, ours included, are unable to pay a full-time salary; and while UPS is basically paying our bills, it is still not enough that we are not stretching every paycheck. I believe that wisdom requires me, as a husband and father, to put myself in the best position possible to provide financially, emotionally, and spiritually for my family. This means I need full-time secular or ministry work.

I began looking for promotion from front-line management (a part-time position) at UPS two years ago, and the majority of full-time positions open to me were for those who have a business related degree, which I do not have. So with the counsel of my superiors at UPS and lots of prayer, I decided to return to college to procure a business degree. I have just completed my first semester at the University of Louisville and will be looking to formally transfer into the business school there this spring. The goal is to either receive a promotion to a full-time position at UPS or be able to leave UPS for a full-time position elsewhere. That will allow me to provide for my family and remove reliance on my income as a pastor at Louisville Baptist Deaf Church.

Why not look for full-time ministry work? Partly because there are few full-time Deaf ministry jobs out there. None that I personally know of. As I mentioned, the majority of Deaf churches (I’d wager 99%) are unable to provide a full-time salary for their pastors, and most Deaf pastors I know are bi-vocational. If I were to leave our church, I would have to know for certain that there was another job available for me wherever we went. As it is, I believe in long-term commitment to one’s place of service, and I am committed to LBDC, not seeking to leave, until such time as the Lord makes it clear I am to leave. Further, I am in a place where I am learning from one of the foremost Deaf pastors in America (30+ years of experience), and you can’t beat that!

Ministry
I have now been at Louisville Baptist Deaf Church as Associate Pastor for 6 years, and involved in the ministry of the church for 10. In that time we have attempted a Deaf church plant, weathered many assaults by Satan on the church generally and on the pastors personally (including very hurtful attacks on me which God used to grow me as a pastor and mature me), moved to a new location at Bethlehem Baptist Church, and begun the process of church revitalization. I have learned so much from our senior pastor Tim Bender and look forward to learning more over the next few years, Lord willing. It is truly a blessing to be able to serve with and learn from a pastor with such a long career of faithfulness to God and His church!

I have been networking quite furiously over the past two years, with the advent of Twitter and popularity of Facebook. I have been able to keep up with many seminary friends and make new ministry friends through these avenues. We have learned much from each other and grown together, and I have been privileged to meet many of these contacts and make new friends through events such as Together for the Gospel and the Southern Baptist Convention. It has been my stated goal to bring awareness of Deaf ministry to the hearing ministry world, and I believe the Lord has opened many doors through this networking experience. I do believe I need to learn to better utilize Twitter and Facebook towards these ends, as the temptation quickly arises to use them for personal entertainment. Not that this is a bad thing, but it can become the be-all and end-all, personal entertainment!

This coming March, I will be attending the 9 Marks Weekender at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC. I have told people I will be doing some consulting while there as well as taking the opportunity to get a fantastic learning experience in an intense training weekend. I will have the opportunity to talk with people about Deaf ministry, and I will be using the things I learn at the Weekender and attempting to apply them to a Deaf context. I am also hoping, time permitting, to be able to make contacts at Gallaudet University while I am in Washington. I would like to ask you to pray for this opportunity.

In 2011, I will have the opportunity to preach 5 months out of the year as Pastor Tim and I have worked out our preaching schedule. I will be preaching January, June through August, and November. I am currently praying about what to study for preaching. I am for certain going to preach through one or two books of Scripture, likely an epistle, and spend one or both of the single months preaching on an issue. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to lead me to the Scriptures and issues our church needs addressed.

This preaching schedule will allow Tim to focus on missions work during those months, as he is an officer in the World Congress of Deaf Baptists; and our church along with the Southern Baptist Conference of the Deaf supports a Deaf Bible School and church in the Ukraine, and Tim works personally with the pastor and is taking at least two trips a year there. I have been invited to go this year (2011) but do not yet know if I will be able to go.

I am also enjoying my final year as president of Kentucky Baptist Conference of the Deaf. First elected in 2009, I was re-elected this year. It has been a learning experience, as many of our officers (including me) were first time officers and we have had to learn and grow together. It has been encouraging to me to see 2 new Deaf works begin in Kentucky. I am hopeful for the future of Deaf work in this state and in the nation. I will not be president nor in any officer position next year, but I am confident in those Deaf people in leadership today. Perhaps in the future the Lord will allow me to be in leadership again.

School
As I mentioned, I have just completed my first semester at the University of Louisville. I am taking classes to allow myself to enter the business school there. I finished my first semester with a 3.01 GPA that really should have been higher (3.3 to be exact), but I took an Economics class with a very tough professor with a strange grading system I have never seen before. With a conventional grading system I would have had a B- in the class, but under this odd system instead I got a C, which brought my tally to 2 As, an A-, and the C. As it is, this is enough to transfer into the business school (it requires 3.0), so I will be meeting with an advisor this spring semester to see what I need to do.

This spring I will be taking a full-time load at 14 hours. Now that I have gotten my brain back into a student mode, I anticipate being able to do well in every class. I am using sign language interpreters for the first time ever, and I can tell you that given some of the class sizes I am thankful I opted to have interpreters this time around. I’m used to having small classes where I can sit right in front of the profs, the profs know me, and I’m able to get everything I need. But at Louisville you can have over 100 people in a class, you sit in an auditorium, and you can’t catch everything the professor says! I can’t express enough how much I love interpreters after this semester!

Future
We will be moving this June when our lease is up. We moved last year after receiving notice that our rent was going up, and putting it a little out of our budget. We had little notice of this – our lease was to be up one month after receiving notice, so we had little time in which to find another apartment and move. This move turned out to be a bad one – our new apartment was smaller than we thought it was going to be, we have had lots of problems with pests, maintenance, and parking, and the move actually cost us more money long-term than moving was supposed to save us. We should have stayed where we were and reworked our budget.

But we have decided not to stay in this place any longer than necessary, so beginning in January we will begin looking for either a house or 3-bedroom apartment to rent, preferably a house. With our girls getting bigger and more active, they need to be able to go outside to play instead of being inside most of the time. This will also allow us to stay home instead of taking the girls out to get them out of the house, saving us gas money! We are hoping that the Lord will provide us with a place that is within our budget and make the move financially possible. Please pray for this.

I will be praying for the Lord’s direction regarding my employment. I would like to remain at UPS, but I am praying for doors to open for a different placement. Perhaps moving to a different department, especially as I do more coursework in the business school. Perhaps a full-time opportunity will come along. Perhaps God will offer me a change of scenery and lead me away from UPS. Perhaps God will even provide full-time ministry work! I am content to remain where I am and work the plans I have before me until God shows me His will.

I will be praying as well for the direction of our church. With our move we have seen immediate benefit. Our attendance has grown. We are hoping our members’ commitment, discipleship, and evangelism will grow as well. Our girls are now excited to go to church since there are other children at Bethlehem Baptist. Grace gets mad if we don’t take her to church every Sunday and Wednesday! I mentioned before that we are in the process of church revitalization – we will be praying over this process as well. We developed a new church mission statement and voted to keep our name instead of renaming LBDC. We are working on discipleship and changing our culture from passive to active. I also need to change my mindset to one that is active instead of reactive in order to model this to our people. Please be in prayer for the presence and leadership of the Holy Spirit as we do this.

Well, that is the update in 2500 words. I pray this finds you enjoying your holiday!

Categories: Uncategorized

Hallelujah! All I Have Is Christ!

April 23, 2010 1 comment

This song is the one enduring memory of Together for the Gospel 2010 that likely brought home the entire week’s worth of Gospel exhortation. I’ve included a video of a live performance from the Na Band and lyrics below. The music is also available on iTunes. Enjoy and exult in the glory of Christ!

I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way.
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave.
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will.
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still.

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross.
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace.

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me.
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose.
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You.

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Categories: Conferences, Songs & Poetry Tags: ,

The Resurrection and the Life!

April 4, 2010 1 comment

Video courtesy of Hyper Pixels Media YouTube page.

Categories: Uncategorized