You might be doing it wrong

1 Corinthians 14:3: “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.”

2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”

Preaching and prophesying are actually in two different categories. If your prophesying has too much rebuking, and not enough comfort, you might be doing it wrong.

As a side note, I sure thought I memorized these verses in the same translation…

Since then, I have lived or existed as one does at School. How dreary it all is! I could make some shift to put up with the work, the discomfort, and the school feeding: such inconveniences are only to be expected. But what irritates me more than anything else is the absolute lack of appreciation of anything like music or books which prevails among the people whom I am forced to call my companions. Can you imagine what it is like to live for twelve long weeks among boys whose thoughts never rise above the dull daily round of cricket and work and eating?

C.S.Lewis, to Arthur Greeves, 5 June 1914

Be Thou My Vision

In my ongoing attempt to find something meaningful to do with my life, I’ve taken up making worship lead sheets. I found a lovely program called lilypond that allows you to write sheet music in a programming language, and then spits it out as perfectly arranged sheet music. It’s supposed to be able to generate individual snippets of music that you can throw in to a web page, but that function is buried in an exceptionally bad user interface.

Anyway, I knocked out “Be Thou My Vision” today. First I copied from a hymnal and put in the proper lyrics (hymnals in the 80s and 90s had a terrible habit of arbitrarily changing lyrics, usually for the worse). Then I realized that wasn’t how I play the song on guitar. Guitar strumming has a tendency to pull everything… syncopated So we worked out how to play Be Thou in 9/8 time.

And here’s the completed product:

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou My Vision (syncopated)

UPDATE: It turns out that the guitar’s tendency to syncopate has something to do with my complete inability to play in ¾ time. Here’s what I’m actually playing:

Be Thou My Vision (syncopated)

Do you know what I’m tired of? People standing up and announcing a lie that they heard and blaming Christians because they heard it at church. Look, we already knew the Devil goes to church. Sometimes he likes to see if he can get behind the pulpit. But he’s a tricky guy. Sometimes he lets you catch one lie just so he can push you the other way. There’s nothing devils like better, I think, than to turn around and say, “Aha! And you heard that one at church!” Yeah, you did. Let’s rev up the anguish. Let’s love God so as to avoid loving our brother.

Listen: Jesus loves you more than life itself, and it is quite possible that he loves his church even more than you. The church where people hurt you; the church where well-meaning people fed you false doctrine; the church were you didn’t do so hot yourself, and you might have left a few broken windows and some bite marks. Christ has said that he will see his bride without spot or blemish before the end, and every wrinkle, every scar, every limp and every glare, they may not just go away. That may be just where the glory comes out.

Shocked!

I just read this sentence in The Hobbit:

The feast that they now saw was more magnificent then before

and I am leaning on the verge, the very cusp of losing all faith in J.R.R. Tolkien. I am shocked to the bones at the inappropriate use of the word “then.”

Search your libraries! Tell me, is this a one-off publisher error, or is this a typo that has sat unnoticed for 50 years?

A Beautiful Mess: Church Fighting (1 Cor. 1:10-17)

  • Quick review of the situation at Corinth
    1. What kind of town was Corinth?
      • Roman city on Greek peninsula
      • Double port town
      • Rich pagan culture, few Jews
      • Famous for immorality
    2. What kind of church was at Corinth?
      • Mostly pagan background
      • Lots of resources/economic diversity
      • Lots of errors
    3. What problems do we know the Church at Corinth was dealing with?
  • Review 1 Corinthians 1:10-17
    1. Do a surface reading of the text.
      • What is Paul talking about?
      • What is the problem?
      • What does Paul want them to do?
    2. How do we fight for unity as a church?

Body

  1. Stay Focused…
    1. v.10 – “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”
    2. What is a schism?
      1. Examples of local schisms (style of music, too much purple)
      2. Famous church-wide schisms
        • Orthodox/Roman schism over “filioque” (Roman church added “and the son” to the Nicene Creed without getting consensus – The “Great Schism”)
        • Catholic/Protestant schism over free grace (Protestant Reformation)
    3. SIDE ISSUE (don’t bring up unless somebody asks)- are Protestants “schismatics” because we have denominations?
      1. In one sense, yes. The churches are not as unified as we should be, and as we will be.
        • We only understand in part, and there are some issues that we have to agree on to function as a local church (baptism, church government, leadership roles)
        • It’s always our goal to cooperate as much as possible with groups we disagree with.
        • Other issues touch on the nature of the gospel, and we just can’t cooperate at all.
      2. In another sense, no. One day we will all be completely unified in every sense, but we are already unified now, in the Spirit, and with the Gospel.
        • Protestant means “according to conviction”. We believe nobody should be forced to submit against his conscience. We cooperate where we can.
        • Technically, the Roman church is schismatic when they deny that groups who don’t toe the line with them aren’t Christians.
    4. How is it possible for us to all say the same thing? By staying focused.
    5. Who were Chloe’s people?
    6. What factions do we join in at Crossroads?
      • “We need a nursery” faction?
      • Old Members vs. New Members vs. long-term visitors?
      • Do we separate by GCMs?
    7. Do you have a preacher you identify with (“follow”), more than your own congregation?
      • John Piper?
      • John MacArthur?
      • John Calvin?
      • John the Baptist?
      • Anybody else named John?
      • Matt Chandler or Francis Chan…
    8. Why do people tolerate nonsense divisions in the church?
    9. What is mission drift?
      • What is the mission?
      • What are some concrete ways we are tempted to drift?
      • What second tier (or lower) issues are you tempted to make “of first importance”?
  2. …On Preaching the Gospel
    1. v.17b – “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel,”
      • How can Paul say this when Matthew 28:19 says “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…”?
      • How are we to make disciples and subsequently baptize
      • This is a statement about focus
      • 2 Timothy 4:1-5
    2. Timothy and Paul are both high-level leaders in the church. What about people with day jobs? Should we also preach?
    3. Is the gospel only for preaching to non-believers?
    4. What does gospel preaching do for Christians?
  3. …In the Power of the Spirit.
    1. v.17c – “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
      • What’s wrong with “eloquent wisdom?”
        • Refers to rhetorical skill, like a politician
        • Not necessarily based on hard facts
        • Can always be over come by more eloquence later
      • What determines whether the cross of Christ is powerful or foolish?
      • Who brings the salvation that was completed by Jesus at the Cross to efficacy in a person?
    2. What is the Holy Spirit doing in us?
      • How has the Spirit helped you (personally) stay focused?
      • How has the Spirit helped you (personally) be effective in evangelizing?
      • How is the Spirit currently working in our church?
      • How is the Spirit currently working in our GCM?
      • Has the Holy Spirit moved in/spoken to anybody about the way ahead for our GCM to advance the mission?
    3. Make time to pray as a group and plan to pray or fast later individually about the Holy Spirit’s leading.

A Beautiful Mess: Sovereign Over Us (1st Corinthians 1:4-9)

  • What do we know about the city of Corinth?
    • Roman city in Greek territory
    • Port city
    • Cosmopolitan (lots of cultures)
    • Lots of resources
  • How was the church at Corinth like the city?
    • Few Jews
    • Background of pagan idolatry
    • Lots of resources/economic diversity
  • What problems was the church dealing with?
  • Review 1 Cor 1:4-9
    • What pops out to you from the text? What key terms/concepts?
    • David tied these ideas together under the heading of God’s sovereignty.
    • What walls go up for you around the idea of God’s sovereignty?

Body

  1. God is Sovereign over us through His Grace
    • 1 Cor 1:4 – “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus…”
    • “There’s no explanation for the existence of the church in Corinth other than that God’s grace had been given to them.” D. Jackman

      It’s easier to apply this quote to Corinth than to us, because we know our history and the history of our church. But is there any other reason than God’s grace that Crossroads Church exists in Hinesville?

    • Is the distinction between common grace and saving grace Biblical?
      1. Matthew 5:45
      2. John 6:44
    • Which one is easier to see as a good thing? Why?
    • Does the word “Calvinist” throw up a wall for you? Why?
      1. If we are free to choose God, is He then free to choose us?
      2. What objections do you have to the idea that God chose us first?
      3. Does the idea that “saving grace is another way God exercises his sovereignty over you” make you uncomfortable?
    • How can God’s sovereignty in salvation be reassuring?
  2. God is Sovereign over us through His Gifting
    1. 1 Cor 1:5-7 – “5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,”
    2. David made the connection that they had all the gifts they needed because they had everything that was required for the mission.
    3. Do we believe this is true today? Of Crossroads? Do we have every gift that we need to accomplish the mission?
    4. 1 Cor 12:18 – “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.”
      Do you believe God put you here…specifically for the purpose of accomplishing the mission God gave to Crossroads?
    5. Discuss how you settled (are settling?) what local body to be a part of.
  3. God is Sovereign over us through His Growing of us
    1. 1 Cor 1:8 – “who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
    2. Jude 24-25 – “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
    3. How can we be confident that the sanctification process we’re going through will be enough?
    4. Can a lack of spiritual growth be a sign that you aren’t a Christian?
    5. Can a “dry” time be a sign that you aren’t a Christian?
    6. What gets in the way of you trusting God to finish what he starts?
  4. God’s Sovereignty is for His Glory
    1. 1 Cor 1:9 – “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
    2. Paul’s hook, “God is faithful” points his readers to God’s glory.
    3. Does talk about God’s concern for His glory throw up a wall for you? Why?
    4. Is there a difference between human glory and God’s glory, or are they the same?

Conclusion

We covered a lot of hard concepts – Submission, Sovereignty, Glory…

  • Which of these are a struggle?
  • Do these ideas reveal a tendency to put ourselves in God’s place?
  • Will you submit to the God Who is sovereign over you?

A Beautiful Mess: ‘All-In’ (1 Corinthians 1:1-3)

  • Is God’s word inspired? All of it? What about the greeting of a letter?
  • What kind of town was Corinth?
  • What kind of church was the church at Corinth?
  • How can the situation at Corinth be encouraging to us?

Body

The Corporate Nature of our Calling

  • Who is writing 1 Corinthians? Paul and…?
  • “But his {Sosthenes] calling to obscurity was no less by the will of God than Paul’s call to apostleship and historical significance.” Do you think God has called you to “significance” or “obscurity”?
  • “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
    • Is your identity wrapped up in who you are to the church?
    • Do you consider every role you have to be for the benefit of the body?
    • Is there a part of your life that cannot be for the benefit of the body?

The Corporate Nature of our Context

  • “…called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord…”
  • How does the church have a universal identity?
  • How does the church have a local identity?
  • What are some dangers to not linking these two identities of the church?
  • How can we be “The Church in Hinesville”?
  • What pulls you away from being accountable to a specific group of people?

The Corporate Nature of our Conflict

  • “Paul showed that any Conflict among the Corinthian Church was really Corporate in nature…”
  • How can problems at other churches in Hinesville actually affect us?
  • How can we increase our awareness that conflicts that affect one member of our church affect the whole church?
  • How do you seek someone’s unmerited favor/shalom before addressing a conflict?
  • How do we keep from checking out once we leave the meeting?

Conclusion

  • Are you “all-in”?
  • Have you been tempted to leave your church because of something that’s been difficult?
  • Have you left a church on a bad note?
  • Have you left a church on no note at all?
  • Do you need to stop “dating the church”?

Doo-Dah Chemistry

I found this anecdote by William Tuning in a 1981 collection of science fiction stories edited by Isaac Asimov. I take it to be a true story.

Several years ago there was a great deal of talk about what was thought to be a new molecular form of water — a long-chain molecule of H2O which had silicates present in it and, it was theorized, formed directly from gases and solid components in crevices of quartz rocks.

This material was called polywater, and it excited a great deal of scientific inquiry at the time. The interest in polywater was, of course, involved with what was thought to be the peculiar nature of its formation and some odd properties which it seemed to possess.

Needless to say, a number of research laboratories were conducting quite a bunch of experiments–hoping for some kind of polywater breakthrough.

It was during this period that I had occasion to visit a chemist friend who was in charge of some of these polywater experiments in his laboratory. He went on at some length to enthusiastically explain all the benchwork in progress under his supervision.

Since I have no knowledge of science, I was not greatly interested in the conversation and I soon grew bored. As a polite means of getting shut of all this talk about polywater, I suggested that we might adjourn to a local water-hole for some lunch.

My friend expressed his regrets, explaining that he could not leave the lab unattended, since he had to monitor all these tom-fool experiments that were in progress.

“So you can’t go to lunch,” I said.
“That’s right,” he replied. “I’m on polywater duty all the day.”

On Expository Preaching

  1. What is the point of preaching? To build the church by helping us to understand God’s Word through the lens of the Gospel.
  2. Two main categories of Preaching: Topical and Expository
    • Topical Preaching tries to answer what the God says about a topic across the whole Bible – like a map
    • Expository preaching digs deep into the text to expose the bones of the meaning in a particular passage – like a blueprint
    • Can be a blend of the two
  3. A good expository sermon will:
    • Help you understand exactly what the Author meant to communicate
    • Has the same emphasis as the passage
    • Helps you know how to respond, both emotionally and practically.
  4. A great expository sermon will:
    • Move you to agreement with God
    • Move you to action
  5. Expository preaching is hard work, since the preacher has the impossible job of taking scripture and making it more like scripture.
  6. How can we (the congregation) help?
    • Pray for the preacher’s preparation time
    • Pray for the preacher’s delivery
    • Encourage him with specific details
    • Offer criticism gently – lest he think he’s responsible for the hardness of our hearts.
    • Take the best parts and “talk about them as you walk along the road.”
    • Obey the word that you have heard.