Sermon & Board Notes (Eph 4:17-24)

Our 9th week in Jesus Loves the Church; taking an honest look at the difference between the self-focused life and the life focused on Christ. Paul wants to remind his readers of what they left in order to cherish and do rightly in the new life they have gained.




Futility of the Mind:

The unbeliever is confused in his entire purpose for living.

Darkened Understanding:

By having a “darkened understanding,” Paul is not saying that these people, who are apart from Christ, don’t have these sorts of intelligence… just the one that is most important. The ability to understand, to grasp the truth, of God and the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ.

School of Christ:

Christ is the atmosphere in which the teaching takes place. You are no longer in darkness or ignorance, but in Christ: where truth can be revealed and learned.

Old Self vs. New Self:

Your former way of life was set for destruction… it is foolish to let it play any role in your new life. Instead we need to live out the implications of this dramatic change.

Board Notes:

They are a little on the goofy side this time. I hope you don’t mind. (I added some descriptions that were verbalized in the sermon, but not written on the board)



a week late #3 – reflections: Ephesians chapter three

(Due to the busyness of last week I have several posts I hand intended to write, but just never got to them… here is number three)

Chapter three of Ephesians serves as a prolonged capstone to the ideas presented in the first two chapters. Paul starts by turning to prayer, but then is sidetracked into a discussion of why he is a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles, and then finally returns to his prayer for his readers. Here are my reflections:

Ephesians 3:1-13

  • Distractions can be from God. When I was first trying to understand the structure of this section I kept getting annoyed at the seeming disconnect between verses 1 and 2. Finally, with some help of smarter people (scholars), I recognized that Paul was beginning in prayer, but had a thought… and he chose to follow that thought (for 12 verses). Paul recognized that as a prisoner of Christ Jesus, this may cause some disconcertment to his readers and they needed to know more about his story.
  • Our own story of change can present the Gospel and God’s mighty hand. Paul makes sure his readers know that his change was not one of his own cleverness, but the God who had grace on him and poured out revelation. Paul saw himself as the “least(er) of God’s people” and so was able to point to God’s mighty power in whatever was accomplished through Paul.
  • The mystery was in the mechanism. The great mystery of Christ was not that Gentiles (foreigners, non-Jews) were brought into the people of God, but how it was done… through the death of Jesus Christ and the proclamation of His Gospel message. These mechanisms of the mystery then allowed not just conversion to the old system, but being made into a new people with equal standing. Through the Gospel, in Christ Jesus.
  • The purpose of the Church – make God’s manifold wisdom known. Yes, Jesus died so that God could be reconciled to man, and so that he could dwell with a holy people, but this is only the penultimate goal… the ultimate goal: God’s glory. That by taking a rebellious and divided people and bringing them together (church) and to himself, God can show off to the world and to the heavenly beings his incredible multifaceted wisdom. Declaring that His ways are the better ways. Even in suffering, loss, poverty, and abuse, God’s people will continue to praise God, prove Satan wrong, and actually be happier in their sufferings than Satan’s people are in their maximizing of possessions and pleasures… this is the manifold wisdom of God displayed.
  • We need to know and proclaim the wonder of the Church.  Paul never got over the wonder of the great doctrine of the church, nor that he had been commissioned to make it known to the world. We are notn apostles, as Paul was. We have not received fresh revelation. But the revelation is ours no less than it was his, and our responsibility to know it and proclaim it is the same as Paul’s.
  • We need to be the wonder of the Church.  God saw it fit in his plan to take a divided people and unite them together to display his glory and wisdom… we should therefore desire greatly to be those people… united; declaring to the world that we are his disciples by loving one another.
Ephesians 3:14-21
  • Prayer is worth getting back to. As I mentioned before, Paul takes a diverting thought for a few blocks, but here he returns to the very prayer he had already intended. Paul, a man who knew that God was sovereign and working out His divine plan was compelled to be part of it through praying for his fellow believers.
  • We need God’s power. Having done all that Paul can to help his readers understand who they are in Christ, Paul does not simply jump to telling them to just live it out on their own strength. He knows that left on their own they will be discouraged and defeated. Instead, he prays for the Spirit to empower them.
  • We need Christ’s presence. This is the verse from which I took my blog’s name. Paul is praying for Christians, so it is not for non-believers to initially come to Christ, but for Christians to submit themselves to the continual rule of Christ in their heart. Christ’s presence, His dwelling is a ruling presence/dwelling. This blog too is for believers: to encourage you to be filled with Christ, His Word, His Spirit, His rule…
  • We need to grasp Christ’s love. It is vast! It is knowable and yet it also surpasses knowledge. It is most clearly seen in Jesus on the cross.
  • We need to mature into who God has us to be. A wonderful result of being empowered by the Spirit, indwelt by Christ, and understanding His great love… we change, we grow, we mature.
  • To the glory of God, who does more. More than we can have asked for or imagined.
  • This can be a disappointing prayer. It may not be the prayer we would have prayed for ourselves (Lord, give me this or change this or fix this), but it is the prayer we need. God is a good Dad and cares about our hurts and wants and needs, but He also is a Dad that is working out something even greater in us: that despite pain, or hard times, we as His children can praise Him, can bless others, can reveal His great wisdom and glory into this world… by His power, His presence, His love, and His fulness revealed in us.

sermon, quotes, video (Eph 4:1-16)

Here is Sunday’s sermon (audio), some meaningful quotes (meaningful to me at least), and a link to the Ustream video (no drawings this week, sorry).


Download: Living Worthy of the Calling, Together



We have been called greatly and therefore our lives must be lived greatly. This is overwhelming, but should be every Christian’s desire: honor the God who has greatly honored you.

We have been called… first. Pauls urging, his exhortation to live a great life for God is based first and foremost in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Contrary to every other major religion in the world which says you must do this, do this, do this, do this… that you might be saved or glorified, or return or enlightened, Christ says, “You can’t do anything, but I have done everything. Now that you are saved and empowered and adopted, and made new and all the other things we’ve already covered… live for Me.”

The teaching, the instruction, the giving of the Word by the people God has placed in your church is not just for your individual growth. Hear this! Too often we are so concerned with whether or not we are “being fed,” whether or not each sermon hits that magical spot that causes me to grow miraculously and makes my inner spirit all warm and tingly. Paul says, “Knock it off! See the bigger picture!” Is the Word being given to feed you, yes, but not just you  and you shouldn’t be “eating” just so that you grow, taking no part in the growth of the whole body! It is for the whole church! And you have a part in it. You who come to church and “eat” and then having nothing else to do with the body of Christ, this local church, until you come again next Sunday… that is not the point. Paul is clearly calling us to mutual responsibility for the growth of this church.

If we have a greater understanding of our responsibilities to one another; and our common goal of growth and being like Christ; then we will grow and build our church up in love as each part does its work.


Video streaming by Ustream

a week late #2 – how deep the Father’s love for us

(Due to the busyness of last week I have several posts I hand intended to write, but just never got to them… here is number two)

If you were at our South Shores Remix service last week (10/30/11), (or watched it online) then you got to enjoy the initial worship leading experience of our third worship team of Dana Dill, Rebecca Zeulner (my lovely wife), and Tim Aney. Not only was it a great night of worship, as we have come to regularly expect from all 3 of our worship teams, but this trio also did something particularly meaningful to me: they incorporated some of the scripture we were studying that night into one of the songs. As a complete musical illiterate (though profoundly moved by and appreciative of music), I was not aware of how you went about doing something like this, but was absolutely thrilled at both the idea of it and its implementation.

We were in Ephesians 3:14-21, a prayer of Paul, and in verses 17-19 Paul prays that his readers will fully grasp how much Jesus loves them.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Eph 3:17-19

Dana and Rebecca, wanting to sing “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us” saw an opportunity (since this song lacks in a chorus or tag), to add a tag and pull the words directly from these verses.

The tag they added is simple: How deep, how wide, how long, how high… is Your love.

This simple, yet meditative tag when thrown into the midst of a lot of rich theological verses gave our congregation a sweet pause to simply reflect on the vastness of this love. They sang it fully through before the sermon, and then afterwards they began with this tag (repeated many times) and then came back to the first verse. It was a beautiful thing. If they ever get a chance to record I will certainly post it on here. Until then, here are the words (or if you do watch the video, it is at 19:50 (and again after the message, about 1:08:00).

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us by Stuart Townend (tag by The Beggars)

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

How deep, how wide
How long, how high (x2)

Is Your love (x4)

I will not boast in anything
No gifts no power no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

By the way, Dana has a great blog to be found here: Core Fellowship – Dana’s Blog

And Rebecca here: The Orange Blossom

a week late #1 – sermon (Eph 3:14-21)

(Due to the busyness of last week I have several posts I hand intended to write, but just never got to them… here is number one)

Okay, so, I know that I mentioned last week that I’d be posting the sermon audio the next day… unfortunately we ran into some technical difficulties and what normally would have been a clear recording sounded more like an underwater circus from the seventies. All that to say, no message audio to be had. So, in its place I have two alternatives for you: 1) some brief quotes from my message that I happened to think were mildly interesting (and most likely stolen from better sources) and 2) a far away, web cam video with web cam audio of the entire night; now the benefit of this is that you can get a taste of the entire South Shores Remix service including the public reading, prayers, and music (led by Dana Dill, Rebecca Zeulner, and Tim Aney), as well as the sermon. However, the quality is not superb… but again on the bright-side, you can’t see me that well, so almost as good as having just audio. Enjoy.



Because God is insanely rich, but is also insanely generous… He’s the one Paul asks for these things. He is going big on asking, but he’s asking the right person. Do you believe God has the ability (resources)? Do you believe that He is generous and wants to give? This power is sourced in God’s richness and generosity and it is put to work in you by the Spirit.


Asking Jesus into my heart (because of our connotations of hearts with love and valentines) has kind of become a cutesy kind of thing… but what it refers to is not cute at all: I am making Jesus king of my life When we first put our faith in Jesus, we hand him the throne of our life… the Spirit comes and changes the placard, places His seal on it, and Jesus is ready to rule us: our decisions, our desires, our passions. But in our immaturity we still veto His decisions. Through sin we say no to Jesus in our life, not in a saving sense, but in a present, ruling sense. Paul is praying that Christ would exercise His rule actively over all we are and all we do through faith, that we trust Him to make our hearts His home.

Power & Presence:

Paul prays for power, but the power he prays for is rooted in the presence of the Spirit and Christ in our life. The more the Spirit empowers our lives the more we are transformed into Christ’s likeness, by obeying his rule.


We don’t have to know all about Jesus’ love (God’s love) to come to Him.  We can come to Him because He has come to us. We can love Him, because He first loved us. And we can spend the rest of this life and the life to come understanding Christ’s love.


If you are in Christ and you think that you are not loved or are unloveable, this will hinder Christ’s work in your life. The truth is we all were unloveable, but at the cross Jesus declared: I love you, I love you, I love you.


And as we come to know that love and live in light of that love, we are different. We grow. We mature. The final part of Paul’s petitions of prayer, that we would be filled to the measure of all fullness of God.

To the Glory of God:

This is Paul’s prayer: The empowering of the Spirit; the presence of Christ ruling your life; comprehending the love of Christ; as you spiritually mature into the man or woman God wants you to be. The Ephesians may have expected a different prayer, but this is a better prayer. Not of easy fixes and temporal happiness, but the lasting presence of God and our development into being like His Son… perfect as he is perfect. Because this is what results in God’s glory.


Video streaming by Ustream


(we figured out the problem, and should be back to our regularly scheduled broadcast this week)

resources: suffering for what?

This weekend as I was preparing my sermon for last night (Sunday, 10/30/11), the direction of my message took a very different turn than I had expected. Due to some conversations I had had this past week and just a general knowledge of a lot of pain going on in the lives of people in our church (and even my own small group), I began to look at Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians (and other readers) as one that not only encouraged and brought confidence, but also one that points us to what God may be doing and desiring in our life even when we might be desiring something different (specifically how does our suffering correspond with an Almighty God who loves us, tells us to pray to Him and is able to do something about our situations). Tomorrow I will post the sermon audio (thanks to Randy Taylor) and a few corresponding thoughts from the night, but for now I wanted to point you in the direction of some better writers and thinkers regarding this idea of suffering in the Christian life. How do we respond to it? How do we continue on? How do we view God accordingly?


Kevin DeYoung – When You Feel Like Death (Part two) – Blog

(Taking a different approach to the same topic, I think you will find he ends in the same place)

One morning I will not wake up.  Or one evening I will not go back to sleep.  I’ll die.  You’ll die.  You will be at the moment as helpless as you were when you were born.  Will you and I learn before that point that it is folly to rely on ourselves?  Will we be able to say like the Psalmist, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes”?  We will also suffer.  We will all die.  We will all watch others die.  But, I pray, we will not grieve like those who have no hope.  We confess and we sing and gather to remember that Jesus rose from the dead.  A new body.  New life.  No more death.  As it was for Jesus, so it will be for us.  Encourage each other with these words.

We can have hope in the midst of affliction because our God raises the dead.


D.A. Carson – How Could a Good God Allow Suffering – Video

(Long, but thorough and very intellectual)

Christians ought to learn how to die well and to live now.


John Piper – Making Known the Manifold Wisdom of God Through Prison and Prayer – Video/Audio/Summary

(Piper is actually looking at the specific section of Scripture we just looked at: Ephesians 3:14-21)

When Paul was willing to go to prison for the sake of Christ, he showed the nations that Christ is more precious than freedom. When he was willing to suffer for Christ, he showed the nations that Christ is more precious than comfort and security and prosperity.

In other words, the infinite value of the unsearchable riches of Christ shine brightly not in Paul’s prosperity, but in his imprisonment. With his suffering, he draws the nations to the glory Christ and displays the wisdom of the cross.


Mark Driscoll – How to Image God through Suffering – Excerpt

(Incredibly brief, but poignant)

Every moment is a sacred opportunity to be captured for his glory, our joy, and others’ good.



John Piper & Various Authors – Suffering and the Sovereignty of God – Book

(This great and free resource can be downloaded as a PDF. It is vast, but covers many different topics from both theological and personal viewpoints of pain.)

The ultimate purpose of the universe is to display the greatness of the glory of the grace of God. The highest, clearest, surest display of that glory is in the suffering of the best Person in the universe for millions of undeserving sinners. Therefore, the ultimate reason that suffering exists in the universe is so that Christ might display the greatness of the glory of the grace of God by suffering in himself to overcome our suffering and bring about the praise of the glory of the grace of God. – John Piper, p 89

PDF Download