The Inside-Out of the Spiritual Life

“He [Jesus] went on: ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles them.  For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.'” (Mark 7:20-23)

Responding to the Pharisees who obsessed over human traditions Jesus calls His disciples and other hearers to an engagement with the true issue of cleanness and defilement. It is not what goes into a person that defiles them but what comes out of a person that defiles them. Why? Because what comes out reveals what is brewing inside.

Our evil actions and words are a result of what is within. What is seen or heard on the outside offers a view into what is inside. The deep places of our souls—the interior life or the inner being—is where we cultivate either true holiness or desecration.

This should give us great pause for reflection. What do our words reveal about who we are? What do our actions reveal about who we are? What do others around us see through our words and actions that may offer insight about who we are that is clearer than how we see ourselves?

Jeremiah the prophet once said, “The hear is deceitful about all things. Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). May God clean and refine us from the inside out.

Lord, please search through my heart and purify me of all I have allowed to linger inside of me that contributes to my sin and defilement. Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy. Heal me, O Lord, please heal me. In all things give me an undivided heart that I might revere You and Your name.

The Preacher and Prayer: Prayer in the Three Seasons of Our Sermon

This past week Preaching Today released a new resource on the importance of prayer in preaching entitled Praying for Your Sermon. After a very helpful introduction from Matt Woodley, the Editor for Preaching Today, there are six chapters, each offering practical and creative ways to rekindle and then integrate prayer into your preaching routines and rhythms. It was my privilege to author one of these chapters:

  1. Preparing for Your Sermon Through Prayer by Ken Shigematsu
  2. 6 Times to Stop and Pray by Scott Gibson
  3. Prayer in the Three Seasons of Our Sermon by Matt Erickson
  4. Fidelity, Freedom, and Fire by Jesse Benack
  5. The Five Circles of Prayer for Your Sermon by Daniel Fusco
  6. 8 Dynamics in Preaching’s Double Communication by Darrell Johnson

Here is the first part of my chapter, which is behind a paywall, but I’d encourage any preacher to make search out the valuable resources at Preaching Today.

When I was in college, my mentor gave me a copy of a small booklet by E. M. Bounds, a pastor and author known primarily for his extensive writings on prayer. That little booklet was called Preacher and Prayer, and it challenged me beyond measure when I first read it. In fact, to this day, I can still remember a quotation from the first few pages:

What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men and women whom the Holy Ghost can use–people of prayer, people mighty in prayer … He does not anoint plans but people–people of prayer.

I still require ministry residents at our church interested in preaching to read that little booklet.

I have to admit that Bounds’ writing on prayer often makes me feel as if my life of prayer as a preacher is insignificant. Since reading that booklet, I have read innumerable books on preaching. Through them I have learned many important lessons, such as how best to study for preaching, finding and developing illustrations, engaging the hearers meaningfully, and so much more. Most of these books make very little mention of prayer. Perhaps that is because the authors think it goes without saying that prayer is important from start to finish in preaching.

However, it might be worth considering what happens when we no longer say what goes without saying. While many of us pray as preachers, I have a feeling that most of us would not put it in the pride of place that E. M. Bounds once did.

Could it possibly be that as preachers today we have forgotten how to integrate the ministry of prayer into our ministry of preaching? I have no desire to offer simplistic answers to these questions, but it helps me to think of three seasons in the lifespan of every sermon—before the sermon (planning), during the sermon (delivery), and after the sermon (relinquishing). Here’s how I pray through each of these three sermon seasons.

Matt Erickson, “Prayer in the Three Seasons of Our Sermon,” in Praying for Your Sermon from Preaching Today.

The Messiah Sends

This past weekend at Eastbrook, Pastor Nic Fridenmaker continued our series entitled “The Messiah’s Mission,” by looking at Matthew 9:35-10:25. This is the first of two messages on Jesus’ extended commissioning discourse after calling the Twelve Apostles.

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here, as well as the devotional that accompanies the series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)

The Disciples called (9:35-10:1)

  • Jesus’ Heart
  • Jesus’ Focus
  • Jesus’ Need

The Apostles formed (10:2-15)

  • Jesus’ Servants
  • Jesus’ Message
  • Jesus’ Way

The Apostles warned (10:16-25)

  • Jesus’ Reality
  • Jesus’ Insight
  • Jesus’ Family

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into Jesus’ compassion and the Gospel:

Eastbrook at Home – June 13, 2021

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Join us for worship with Eastbrook Church through Eastbrook at Home at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM.

As we continue our preaching series, “The Messiah’s Mission,” which focuses on Jesus’ moving outward on mission in word and deed after the Sermon on the Mount, Nic Fridenmaker will preach from Matthew 9:35-10:25.

This continues our extended journey through the Gospel of Matthew, which includes previous series “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” and “Becoming Real.”

Join in with the Eastbrook 365 daily devotional for this series here.

We also continue in-person services at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 AM this weekend at the Eastbrook Campus, and you no longer need to RSVP ahead of time.

Each Sunday at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM, you can participate with our weekly worship service at home with your small group, family, or friends. This service will then be available during the week until the next Sunday’s service starts. You can also access the service directly via Vimeo, the Eastbrook app, or Facebook.

If you are not signed up for our church emailing list, please sign up here. Also, please remember that during this time financial support for the church is critical as we continue minister within our congregation and reach out to our neighborhood, city, and the world at this challenging time. Please give online or send in your tithes and offerings to support the ministry of Eastbrook Church.

The Weekend Wanderer: 12 June 2021

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.


Oran“Pastor of church ordered to close receives suspended sentence and fine in Algeria” – From Evangelical News – Europe: “Less than a week after a a court in Algeria ordered pastor Rachid Seighir’s church to close, a judge in handed him a one-year suspended sentence and a fine for “shaking the faith” of Muslims with Christian literature at his bookstore, sources said. Pastor Seighir’s Oratoire Church building in the city of Oran was one of three ordered to be sealed in western Algeria’s Oran Province on Wednesday (June 2). On Sunday (June 6) he and bookstore salesman Nouh Hamimi were sentenced to one-year suspended sentences and a fine of 200,000 dinars (US$1,494) in a ruling on their appeal of a prior sentence of two years in prison and a fine of 500,000 dinars (US$3,745).”


N T Wright“Anti-Racism in the Church” – NT Wright wrote this originally in The Spectator in March and it was reposted here: “Douglas Murray complains that the C of E has embraced the ‘new religion’ of anti-racism (‘The C of E’s new religion’, 20 March). But the truth, which neither he nor the church seems to have realised, is that the ‘anti-racist’ agenda is a secular attempt to plug a long-standing gap in western Christianity. The answer is to recover the full message, not to bolt on new ideologies. The earliest Christian writings insist that in the Messiah ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek’. The book of Revelation envisages Jesus’s followers as an uncountable family from every nation, tribe, people and language. At the climax of his greatest letter, St Paul urges Christians to ‘welcome one another’ across all social and ethnic barriers, insisting that the church will thereby function as the advance sign of God’s coming renewal of all creation.”


Christian Smith - next generation“Youth Pastors and Parents Cross Wires on the Core Purpose of Church” – Lyman Stone interviews sociologist Christian Smith in Christianity Today: “How religious mothers and fathers balance their children’s growing autonomy with robust discipleship is the topic of a new book, Handing Down the Faith: How Parents Pass Their Religion on to the Next Generation, by Christian Smith, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame, and Amy Adamczyk, professor of sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the City University of New York (CUNY).”


Multicultural friends group using smartphone with coffee at university college break - People hands addicted by mobile smart phone - Technology concept with connected trendy millennials - Filter image

“The Questions Concerning Technology” – L. M. Sacasas in The Convivial Society email newsletter: “I then went on to produce a set of 41 questions that I drafted with a view to helping us draw out the moral or ethical implications of our tools. The post proved popular at the time and I received a few notes from developers and programmers who had found the questions useful enough to print out post in their workspaces….This is not, of course, an exhaustive set of questions, nor do I claim any unique profundity for them. I do hope, however, that they are useful, wherever we happen to find ourselves in relation to technological artifacts and systems. At one point, I had considered doing something a bit more with these, possibly expanding on each briefly to explain the underlying logic and providing some concrete illustrative examples or cases. Who knows, may be that would be a good occasional series for the newsletter. Feel free to let me know what you think about that.”


Ten Commandments for Tech“Ten Commandments for Tech” – Continuing the technology theme, here is Amy Crouch in Comment: “Our tech devices are designed to make life easier, but maybe ease isn’t what we need. They’re designed to captivate us, but maybe we need time to look up and around. Silicon Valley’s technologies promised a revolution in speed and convenience, and they certainly delivered. Yet it’s starting to look like those were the wrong promises. 24/7 communication and distraction haven’t relieved us from stress, boredom, or loneliness. As our lives become increasingly mediated by algorithms and machines, tech designers need to rethink those promises. The following “ten commandments” suggest a way of designing that is centred not on ease or distraction, but flourishing. Perhaps we don’t need greater convenience in our communities and callings. Perhaps instead we need help to venture further on the straight-and-narrow path of righteousness.”


Arrival“Arrival and Annihilation: Cinematic Reimaginings of the Resurrection of the Body” – Here is Jon Coutts writing in The Other Journal about two science fiction movies and their reapproaching of what resurrection means: “When we think of the so-called afterlife, we cannot help but use our imaginations. As a young child in church, I imagined an unending hymn-sing or an eternity spent floating suspended in the clouds. To me, the thought of ceaseless heaven was terrifying. And since then, I’ve received no help from the idealized projections of near-death-experience literature or from popular renditions like The Good Place. Even in its light-heartedness, the NBC sitcom could find no better ending than a get-out-of-the-afterlife-free option that’s triggered once perpetual self-satisfaction wears into infinite tedium.”


Music: Bill Evans, “Peace Piece,” from Everybody Digs