17 November 2007


This past week someone from the flock I shepherd at 2nd Street Community Church asked me about why I teach God’s WORD the way I do on Sunday mornings. And so I thought that today would be a good time to share with you a little bit about why I do what I do the way that I do it.

The comment came from someone who in their past church experiences has been used to what is commonly called TOPICAL teaching of God’s WORD … which is where a topic such as LOVE, FAITH, RELATIONSHIPS, LOVING OUR ENEMIES is selected … and then a series of teachings are prepared on those topics using a variety of passages from God’s WORD … with various Bible passages used to support the teaching.

With TOPICAL teaching there’s often an introduction, one main point that is illustrated by 3-4 supporting points, and then a conclusion where the one main point is driven home, and where application is usually made to people’s day-to-day lives. That’s TOPICAL teaching.

I’m not against TOPICAL teaching. It’s just not what I’ve been called to do here at 2nd Street. Oh there will be a Sunday here and there throughout a year when I’ll share a TOPICAL teaching … such as the one I shared this past year on FORGIVENESS … and I’ll probably do another one on CONFESSION sometime during this coming year. But what I’ve been called to do is to teach God’s WORD one book at a time, verse-by-verse. And this is often called EXPOSITIONAL teaching.

The word EXPOSITION is from the Latin word exponere, which simply means to put out, to exhibit, or to explain. And in EXPOSITIONAL teaching of God’s WORD, the emphasis is not on coming up with one main point, but to teach through a passage and let each verse, each word, or each section of verses make the points along the way.

The publisher of your Bible – not the authors – added the section headings or titles you see in your Bible. They aren’t part of the original text. And they’ve publishers added section headings or titles to try and help the reader anticipate and understand the meaning of the section of God’s WORD they’re reading, focusing on, and digesting. And different Bibles divide up passages differently … beginning or ending on this verse or that verse.

The New International Version of the Bible, for example, is a translation based on ideas, not on the individual words of the verses. That’s why in the New International Version all the verses are in paragraphs with headings over each paragraph. And when a new idea, new theme, or new focus begins in the passage, a new heading appears.

But the New American Standard Bible isn’t a translation based on ideas … rather, it is a translation based on the individual words of the verses. That’s why in the New American Standard Bible each verse is it’s own stand-alone paragraph … and new ideas or themes are indicated, not by headings, but by the first verse of the new theme having a bold verse number next to it, and not a regularly stylized font number.

I use the New American Standard Bible as my main Bible to study and teach from … because it’s primary focus on the words allows the Holy Spirit to speak to me about the ideas and not the other way around. And then as I study a passage verse-by-verse, it comes alive, not because of what I’m anticipating it will say to me because of the section headings, but because of the words each author of the book I’m reading was led by the Holy Spirit to use in each verse.

Of course, I use other Bible translations and paraphrases when I study and teach … and my favorites are the New Living Translation, the New English Translation (www.net.bible.org), The Message, The Expanded Translation of the New Testament by Kenneth Wuest (primarily for Greek word studies), The Amplified Bible, and The New Century Version.

Most of the time the verses we go through have a main focus or theme. I’m not trying to avoid clarity by teaching God’s WORD the way I do. But what I love about EXPOSITIONAL teaching is that the application that goes on while I teach through a passage of God’s WORD verse-by-verse can be as deep and wide as the Nile … not because of my intellect and ability to teach, but because of God’s plan and God’s desire to instruct each of us through His WORD in the areas where we most need instruction, correction, encouragement, and equipping.

I don’t know what problems each of you are wrestling with. But God does. I don’t know where each of you is hurting. But God does. I don’t know what decisions you have to make today or this week that you need the counsel of God concerning. I just have the unique joy and responsibility of getting to team-teach with God whenever I stand before you and ask you take out your Bibles and open them up.

And I don’t have to make one main point with three supporting points, that all begin with words starting with the same letter. I just get to teach through however many verses seems right to me during the week as I’m studying, preparing and writing – and then God gets to do the application. Sure, I share some FAITH LESSONS along the way, but verse-by-verse God gets to connect His WORD with what’s going on in your life. And God gets to focus your heart and mind onto the one or two main things He wants to say to you on any given Sunday. And that my friends, is very cool.

And what I’m hoping and praying is that as this happens on Sundays, that your passion for being in God’s WORD THROUGHOUT THE WEEK will blossom. That’s why here at 2nd Street we’ll always have the portion of our bulletin that shares with you the READ THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR passages for that week. It may not connect directly with what I’m teaching through on Sundays. But you know what? It will always connect with what God wants and needs to teach you throughout the week.

Will I be able to teach through the whole Bible before I have to quit this job? Who knows. Who cares. My goal isn’t to teach the whole Bible before I die. My goal is to get into the Bible and invite it to get into us in ways that transform us and draw us more deeply into the character of Jesus Christ so that we can more consistently live into, and live out the will of God.

And so that’s why I teach the way I do. All people spiritually gifted as teachers aren’t pastors. But in EPHESIANS 4 Paul makes it clear that it’s God’s plan that ALL PASTORS ARE CALLED TO BE TEACHERS. And so this is why I teach the way I do … and will continue teaching this way … verse-by-verse through God’s WORD. Last year we went through FIRST PETER and HAGGAI. Right now we’re going through JOHN … and what’s next? I don’t know. But I will by the time we’re done with JOHN. I promise. I won’t have two or three Sundays where I just stand up here silently and look dorky. Well, I might look dorky, but I do promise to not be silent. Godspeed.



12 November 2007

“A friend is a gift you give yourself.”
- Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island, Kidnapped)

In our Western-World we’re rich beyond compare – even those of us who by our standards aren't wealthy. And to catch a glimpse of somebody who is really down and out, really in deep need, isn’t all that common. We insulate ourselves from that world – safe and sound in our own little cocoons.

In REVELATION 3:16, in a letter that Jesus wrote to the church in a town called Laodicea, He said, Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked ...

And herein lies what I call THE GREAT DISCONNECT …

How others see us.
How we see ourselves.
How we really are.

Remember the story THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES? That's what I'm talking about here. We're prancing around thinking we've got clothes on, and everybody else is so impressed with the image we're "trying to project" that they won't speak up about what they "really see". How embarrassing.

And even though Jesus was referring to the spiritual condition of a church body that was missing the mark in His words in REVELATION 3:16 – these words can also really ring true for you and me as we look at the common condition of the lives of people in this world who are seeking to live apart from a living, vital, transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.

We’re all trying to fill the void of loneliness left by shattered family relationships, or by jobs that have left us less than fulfilled, or by friendships that have turned out they way we hoped they would, or planned they would, or even prayed they would.

And this reality of loneliness and disconnectedness is something that we’ve all either gone through in the past, are going through right now, or will go through in the future. It’s part of the human condition – and for many of us, it’s maybe even part of what drew us to Jesus Christ in the first place … or to the church … o even here this morning.

Sad to say, we can even find ourselves feeling alone in the midst of a flock of fellow Christ-followers. Have you ever felt alone, abandoned, with no one to turn to or talk to, even in the church? I think that we all have. How can this be among people who strive to be like Jesus on a daily basis? Maybe, the crux of the matter is that we see ourselves as being the kind of man who knows how to build true, Biblical, Christ-centered friendships, when in fact, we’re not really that good at it at all.

If we every bullied, cajoled and used our friends in one form or fashion in the world, then becoming a Christ-follower won't magically transform us into someone who knows ho to make friends and be a friend.

Becoming a Christian opens up a new friendship-making tool chest, but to fully develop the ability to properly wield these tools requires Biblical and flesh-and-blood examples of those who are expert at making and sustaining friendships. But as we learn the proper skill sets, we can go about making life-changing friendships.


Here’s what Solomon writes about friendship in ECCLESIASTES 4:9-12

9 Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one;
they get a better return for their labor. 10 If one person falls,
the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone
when they fall are in real trouble. 11 And on a cold night, two
under the same blanket can gain warmth from each other. But
how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can
be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and
conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord
is not easily broken.

And in MATTHEW 18:20 Jesus says …

20 For where two or three gather together
because they are mine, I am there among them.


There are two major kinds of friendships modeled and taught in God’s WORD … PEER FRIENDSHIPS and MENTOR FRIENDSHIPS.

Why do we need to get into God’s WORD and invite God’s WORD to get into us? So that we can begin to take on the character of Jesus Christ (think, say, do), so that we’ll be equipped to live out the will of God.

But also, getting into God’s WORD acquaints us with a great library of character studies that prove invaluable. One of the better PEER FRIENDSHIPS in God’s WORD that comes to mind is the deep friendship shared by David and Jonathan.

And outside of Jesus and His twelve disciples, one of the clearest examples of a MENTOR FRIENDSHIP is demonstrated in Paul and Timothy's relationship.


One of the interesting aspects in putting this study together … and in looking forward to going through Erwin McManus's book CHASING THE LIGHT together this next year, is that I sometimes forget that Jonathan wasn’t some weakling who craved David's attention, but rather … he was a fierce warrior who with the help of his armor bearer killed 20 Philistine warriors single-handedly. Maybe, when David later faced down and took down Goliath, he remembered Jonathan's earlier example and was inspired by it.

Jonathan and David developed such an amazing friendship that David laments Jonathan's death with these words in SECOND SAMUEL 1:25-26

25 How the mighty heroes have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies dead upon the hills. 26 How I weep for you, my
brother Jonathan! Oh, how much I loved you! And your love
for me was deep, deeper than the love of women!

  • Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. (FIRST SAMUEL 18:1)
  • Jonathan made a covenant with David. (FIRST SAMUEL 18:1)
  • Jonathan gave David some of his most prized possessions like his robe, tunic, his sword, his bow and belt. (FIRST SAMUEL 18:4)
  • Jonathan defied a king and warned David that his father was trying to kill him. (FIRST SAMUEL 19:1-2)
  • Jonathan interceded on David's behalf with Saul. (FIRST SAMUEL 19:4-7)
  • Jonathan improved David's lot. (FIRST SAMUEL 19:7)
  • Jonathan and David confided in one another. (FIRST SAMUEL 20)
  • Jonathan was willing to lay everything on the line for his friend David. (FIRST SAMUEL 20:4-31; 35-40)
  • Jonathan literally put himself in the line of fire for David. (FIRST SAMUEL 20:33)
  • Jonathan grieved on behalf of David for the mistreatment he had to endure. (FIRST SAMUEL 20:34)
  • David and Jonathan wept together and for one another. (FIRST SAMUEL 20:41-42)
  • Jonathan went out to David and helped him find strength in the Lord. (FIRST SAMUEL 23:16)
  • Jonathan was neither threatened nor jealous of David's success. In fact, he welcomed David’s successes. (FIRST SAMUEL 23:17)

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS … Based on Jonathan's example, what might being lacking from some of your friendships? Does the level of intimacy of Jonathan and David's relationship make you uncomfortable? Why? Why do you think Jonathan and David were so close? Do think it is possible to have friendships like this in our sanitized, fast-paced world? If so, what will it take to have friendships of this depth?

In a couple of months we’ll look at MENTOR FRIENDSHIPS … and at the friendship that Paul and Timothy had modeled this kind of friendship. Godspeed.



In JEREMIAH 9:2 The Old Testament prophet spilled his guts and wrote down that if he could have his own way he’d head for the hills … he’d run away from his family, away from his ministry, away from his problems, and away from his life! Here’s how Jeremiah’s words read in THE MESSAGE, a modern-day paraphrase by author, professor, and pastor-teacher Eugene Peterson …

2 At times I wish I had a wilderness hut,
a backwoods cabin, where I could get away from
my people and never see them again. They're a
faithless, feckless bunch, a congregation of degenerates.

Can you relate to Jeremiah’s words? Now I wouldn’t apply Jeremiah’s descriptions of faithless, feckless degenerates … to you here at 2nd Street … but I think we hear in Jeremiah’s words some of our own longings to head for the hills … the desire to get a job in a lighthouse, or drop out of life and build a log cabin with our own hands, or become a monk or a nun and live in solitude and silence … even if it was just for a little while.

King David, the Jewish King in the middle part of The Old Testament put it this way in PSALMS 55:6-8

6 I say, ‘I wish I had wings like a dove! I would fly
away and settle in a safe place! 7 Look, I will
escape to a distant place; I will stay in the wilderness.
8 I will hurry off to a place that is safe
from the strong wind and the gale.”

But running away from home … whether we’re The Runaway Bunny, Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland, or Frodo, isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be because the reality is that as author David Seamands put it, “Everywhere we go, we go too, and that ruins everything.” Or in other words, “We can run, but we can’t hide.” And eventually, when we stop running, we’ll still be right there, with all of our problems unchanged, with all of our challenges still overwhelming us, and with all of our character defects and sins still staring us in the face.

But thanks be to God that He has provided a way for us to stop running. Jesus talked about this in the story in Luke’s Gospel commonly called “The Prodigal Son” … where in LUKE 15:17, we read that the son who’d run away from home “came to his senses and returned home to his father.”

How have you been running away from home? How have you been letting your problems and sins separate you from God and the plans He has for you? I’m glad you’re here this morning – because we’re going to focus on one of the most practical, God-centered, devoted-disciple-of-Jesus-Christ-producing ministries going on at 2nd Street, in the USA and around the world … and it’s called Celebrate Recovery.

Celebrate Recovery is a 12-step recovery program that’s rooted in the person and the hope of Jesus Christ, in the grace and truth of God’s WORD, and in creating healthy God-centered partnerships of community, trust, and accountability between people who are tired of running away from home … and who are willing to surrender their hurts, habits and hang-ups to God.

The first three steps of Celebrate Recovery can be summed up like this …
  1. When it comes to the parts of my life that aren’t working, I CAN’T MANAGE THEM, FIX THEM, OR EVEN MOVE PAST THEM ON MY OWN.
  2. When it comes to repairing the parts of my life that aren’t working, GOD CAN BRING BEAUTY OUT OF ASHES, JOY FROM MOURNING, AND WHOLENESS OUT OF BROKENNESS.
  3. Seeing and accepting that I CAN’T and GOD CAN, I CHOOSE TO SURRENDER TO GOD.
Back to the prophet Jeremiah for a minute. In JEREMIAH 11:6, Jeremiah, tired of trying to deal with his own problems his own way, invites others to join him in coming to their senses … and coming home to God as the source of their redemption and healing. Here’s how the invitation sounded …

6 The Lord said to me, “Announce all the following
words in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem …
‘Listen to the terms of My covenant with you
and carry them out! (NEW ENGLISH TRANSLATION)

Jeremiah got excited about what God’s covenant could accomplish. A covenant is a two-way vow between God and the men and women of His creation. A covenant says that if we will bring God the pieces of our busted-up lives, that He will redeem us … that He will take the shattered pieces of our lives, put them back together again, and make us whole.

And Jeremiah got so excited about this covenant that he couldn’t stay out in the country all by himself any longer. And so he headed back into town because there were things to be done, and people who had to be told this great news. And that’s why we’re focusing on the ministry of Celebrate Recovery this morning.
  1. Celebrate Recovery isn’t just for alcoholics or drug addicts who are blacking out several times a week and robbing 7-11s to support their habits.
  2. Celebrate Recovery isn’t just for people whose relationship boundaries and work boundaries have become so distorted that they’re stalking David Letterman and “this close” to going postal.
  3. Celebrate Recovery isn’t just for compulsive gamblers who are having their mail forwarded to their room at Spirit Mountain Casino.
  4. Celebrate Recovery isn’t just for sex addicts who’ve given up all hope of change, and bought an Adult Bookstore.
  5. Celebrate Recovery isn’t just for food addicts who plan all their week’s activities around when COSTCO gives out samples.
  6. Celebrate Recovery isn’t just for people who are so co-dependent that right before they die “somebody else’s life passes before their eyes.”
  7. Celebrate Recovery is for people just like me and like you.
When I interviewed at 2nd Street 18 months ago to become your new lead pastor-teacher, I had a good interview, and I had a great time with you on the Sunday morning I taught. But it was attending Celebrate Recovery on Sunday night that God used to “seal the deal” in my heart that 2nd Street was the new home He had planned or Teresa and me.

For the first eight months I was here, I attended Celebrate Recovery and God began using it as His mouthpiece for the road to recovery He wanted me to walk down – especially understanding His unconditional love for me, in spite of my ungodly devotion to most all foods higher in carbohydrates and sugar than is healthy.

For the past eight months I’ve been part of a Celebrate Recovery weekly STEP STUDY GROUP, and as a member of that group God has been helping me deal with the issues in my life related to food that up until this 49th year of my life I’d been unwilling to be honest about. And through this process God has also preparing my heart to receive the hard word a few weeks ago now that I have diabetes.

But with what God is teaching me through Celebrate Recovery I’m learning to embrace and walk in the grace and truth of the first three steps …
  1. THAT I CAN’T.
God is using Celebrate Recovery in my life and in the lives of many others here at 2nd Street and beyond. Through Celebrate Recovery, people are coming into first-time relationships with God through Jesus Christ, people are rededicating their lives to God and to His plans … and lives are being transformed. And if the definition of discipleship that I share with you so often is true … that discipleship is taking on the character of Jesus Christ so that we can live into the will of God … then Celebrate Recovery is the best discipleship program I’ve ever been part of.

Because when you do what Celebrate Recovery does … which is to take God’s WORD, and combine it with a call to ruthless trust, a passion for whole-hearted honesty, and a willingness to assume a humble, surrendered, teachable spirit … you have a recipe for discipleship.

Celebrate Recovery is for all of us who are tired of dodging, avoiding, hiding, pretending, covering, running, protecting, eluding, escaping, averting, and evading the real us and the real God. It’s for people who are “coming to their senses and coming home” …

Celebrate Recovery has become the road home for many of us here at 2nd Street, as well as for tens of thousands of other folks in Newberg and beyond. And so this morning, I invite you to ask God if Celebrate Recovery a road He wants you to travel as you “come home” to Him in some new ways.

  1. Do I have pain or shame in my life that I’m hiding or avoiding?
  2. How does a lack of forgiveness hinder my intimacy with God and others?
  3. Bondage to hurts, habits and hang-ups can cease … So if Jesus Christ, the Son sets you free, you will be really free. (JOHN 8:36 | NEW ENGLISH TRANSLATION)

I invite everyone who is able, to stand with me, and let’s close our time this morning as “the church gathered” by praying together The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr …

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.




10 November 2007

JOHN 5:45-47

45 Do not think that I will accuse you
before the Father; the one who accuses
you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope.

46 For if you believed Moses, you would
believe Me, for he wrote about Me.

47 But if you do not believe his writings,
how will you believe My words?

v. 45 … Moses … The Jews took great pride identifying with Moses. Moses was the man God picked to lead them out of captivity in Egypt. Moses was the one God gave the Ten Commandments, and all the rest of the Jewish Law as well. But in bringing up Moses Jesus exposes how shallow their real respect for Moses was since they didn’t actually accept in practice what Moses taught.

v. 46 … For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me … Where did Moses write about Jesus? In many, many, many verses in The Old Testament … and we’ll get into many of them in a few months when we study in more depth, the symbols and metaphors for Jesus Christ in The Old Testament. As you may or may not know, Moses wrote the first five books of The Old Testament … GENESIS, EXODUS, LEVITICUS, NUMBERS, and DEUTERONOMONY … commonly called The Books Of the Law, or The Pentateuch (meaning “The Five”).

And as we close our worship time together this morning, let me share with you one of the most fascinating ways Moses spoke of and prophesied about the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ in the books he wrote under the leadership of God’s Holy Spirit. Turn with me in your Bibles to GENESIS 5.

Even in those parts of The Old Testament that can seem boring and pointless we find God’s WORD speaking of Jesus Christ.

GENESIS 5 is an entire chapter of this seemingly “boring and pointless” genealogy stuff … thirty-two verses detailing the family tree from Adam to Noah … Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalelel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah.

And when Jesus says in JOHN 5:46 that the Scriptures Moses wrote were speaking of Him, He wasn't exaggerating. Because when you look at the Hebrew meaning of each of the names in this genealogy you see what Jesus was talking about …

Adam means Man
Seth means Appointed
Enosh means Mortal
Kenan means Sorrow
Mahalalel means The Blessed God
Jared means Will Come Down
Enoch means Teaching
Methuselah means His Death Will Bring
Lamech means The Despairing
Noah means Rest

Do you see it?

Even as he wrote out this ancient genealogy, Moses is writing out the story of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah, our Savior, the One who stepped out of heaven so that He could step into our hearts.

Man. Appointed Mortal Sorrow.
The Blessed God Will Come Down Teaching.
His Death Will Bring The Despairing Rest.

How exciting to know that no matter where we look in God’s WORD we see the testimony of Who Jesus Christ is and what He came to do staring right back at us. And that along with the testimony of God’s WORD, the testimony of God the Father, Moses, and John the Baptist all corroborate with the testimony of Jesus Christ to say that He is the Son of God, the second member of the Trinity, the Messiah, Emmanuel – God With Us.

And so as we go out of church today to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in the Food Drive, as we let the light of God shine through us with power, with brightness, and with great hope … let’s be excited about how God wants to use us to testify to the reality, and to the absolute truth of Jesus Christ. Godspeed.