Ephesians 3: Removing All Doubts It’s About The Pronouns

Over the last couple of posts, I have distinguished between ancient Greek speech making and modern American letter writing as we looked at the New Testament letter of Paul to the Ephesians.

And Ephesians is 100% the former and 0% the latter.

The pronouns have told us so, especially that when Paul says “we” or “us” he is referring to his kinfolk the Jews and when he says “you” he addresses the Gentile Ephesians. read more

The Pronouns Have It AGAIN: Part 2 Of Ancient Greek Speech Making And Not Modern American Letter Writing. And Why It Matters.

Yesterday, I shared some insights regarding the differences between ancient Greek speech making and modern American letter writing, and as an example took you through the first fourteen verses of Ephesians.

Once readers make the proper distinction between the “we” and the “you,” they are much more able to get to the heart of the entire book. read more

How To Read New Testament Epistles: Ancient Greek Speech Making And NOT Modern American Letter Writing

Over the last month, my Men’s LifeGroup at Good Shepherd has been reading through a series of Paul’s letters, starting with First Corinthians and continuing through Ephesians.

Every morning, I have been sending them thoughts on the chapter assigned for the day.  I trust it has been helpful for them to read; I KNOW it has been helpful for my spiritual discipline and my spiritual disciplines to write. read more

Up In Arms, Week 2 — The “Justified” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Preached the RIGHT message (I hope) at the WRONG time of year;
  • Shifted the focus from Peter’s denial to Peter’s tantrum;
  • Shifted the focus from Peter to the servant girl who was “on to him.”
  • Generated a lot of moments of silence throughout the room on Moss;
  • Landed at this bottom line:  You justify your anger when you can’t justify your behavior.
  • Supplemented THAT with a final statement that came to me on Saturday:  You can’t justify your behavior, but Jesus can justify you.

A friend of mine took this picture of the bottom line on display while preaching was in effect.

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Is it OK with you if I give what I think is the RIGHT message today but do so at the WRONG time of year?  I ask that because we’re fixing to dig into a story from Mark 14 that people USUALLY deal with only in the weeks just before Easter.  We usually call it the story of Peter’s denial; it happens during Jesus’ trial for his life, there’s a fire and there’s a rooster who crows, and there are tears at the end and so preachers MOST OFTEN teach on it about two Sundays before Easter.  That’s the RIGHT time of year.  But there are some fascinating details – including the fascinating-est you’re going to have to wait for – that make me realize that if I DON’T touch on it during Up In Arms I’d get, well, up in arms.  It’s less about Peter’s denial and maybe more about his temper.  Let me show you what I mean. read more

The Value Of Sleeping On It

Earlier this week, I was wrestling with a bottom line for an upcoming sermon.

The passage in question was tricky.

The opportunity to go in multiple directions was both alluring and bewildering.

The temptation to “borrow” the insights of another preacher was real.

The late Tuesday night attempts at wordsmithing resulted in nothing but frustration. read more

Why Don’t We Have A Calm System?

A friend of mine recently told a group of us that he has a minor condition with his nervous system.

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And I asked what I thought was the obvious question:  “Why don’t we have a calm system?” read more

Forty Years Ago Yesterday

Forty years ago yesterday, January 7, 1979, I became a Christian.

I had been baptized as an infant in the Episcopal Church, but by the time I was four or five, my mom stopped going herself or taking her kids.  So I never went to Sunday School, never attended VBS, never was confirmed, never went to youth group. read more

Up In Arms Launches — The “Yellfest” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Started what might be our most timely series ever, Up In Arms;
  • Presented Proverbs as one of the few places in the bible where context is something, not everything;
  • Had a rare “two phased” bottom line.  For most of the message it was People who yell the loudest have the most to hide … And then, after asking people to write down three very specific questions (another rarity), I revealed the rest of it:  … so trade your shouting for sharing.

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I may have told some of you this before, but about about 14 yrs ago, right before we moved into this bldg, and I just had the worst week at week. Poorly executed decision at just the wrong time, big mess, dogs & cats living together. Anyway, early one morning that week I was taking my kids to catch a ride to school.  They couldn’t drive yet; now they are both married & gone so this ain’t no yesterday story.  Anyway, on that day in that week, one of them (I know who it was but I am going to keep it anonymous to protect his identity) said exactly the wrong thing and I stopped the car, put it in Park (that’s how you KNOW this is serious!) and just laid into them. I was ticked at my kids and I suspect it was loud enough the whole subdivision knew about. But you know what I realized? I wasn’t really mad at them; I was mad at church, at the situation, at my own dumb timing. I felt powerless to fix a situation here and as I took it out on my suddenly shivering kids they must have wondered, “Who took our dad and replaced him with an axe murderer?!”  I had stuff going on, the wrong thing happened at the wrong time, and all of a sudden I was UP IN ARMS.  (They would have said OUT OF HIS MIND.) read more

Up In Arms Launch — Why Are People So Angry These Days?

Have you noticed?

Have you noticed how so many people are so mad these days?

Mad at each other.  Mad at traffic.  Mad at politicians.  Mad at themselves.

And … have you noticed that the same people keep getting mad at the same things?  And maybe, just maybe, have you noticed that you’re one of those people? read more

Words Make Worlds. Again.

Each week, our staff receives Prayer Cards from our Children’s Ministry.  The Prayer Cards contain prayer requests from the youngest folks in our church.

Here’s the one I received last week:

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A first grader praying to have “a liven relat[ion]ship with God.” read more