This coming weekend at Eastbrook Church we begin a new preaching series entitled “Roots: Looking Back and Reaching Forward.” This series is the second of a three-part series related to our 40th anniversary as a church, following on our series, “Power in Prayer.” This is a series celebrating our legacy as a church, and also recalibrating as we head into the future together. We will look back at what God has done in our midst at Eastbrook, while also looking forward to what God is calling us into as a church.
September 7/8 – “Activated by the Holy Spirit”
September 14/15 – “Truly Community”
September 21/22 – “Growing Disciples”
September 28/29 – “Sacrificial Generosity”
October 4/5 – “Worship in the Beauty of Holiness”
I preached this past weekend at Eastbrook about “Prayer as Living within the Power and Love of God” from Ephesians 3:14-20. Thinking about the love of God is something I never tire of. Although it didn’t make it into the sermon, I was reminded of this quotation from from C. S. Lewis in The Four Loves:
God is love….[and] This…love is Gift-love. In God there is no hunger that needs to be filled, only plenteousness that desires to give….God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing…the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake, hitched up. If I may dare the biological image, God is a ‘host’ who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and ‘take advantage of’ Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves.
 C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1960), 175-6.
I continued our new series, “Name Above All Names,” this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This series began with our Christmas celebration of Jesus as the light of the world, continued in the last two weekends with Jesus as “Friend of Sinners” and “The Gate” (Thanks, Pastor Dan Ryan!), and now turns to Jesus as the “Promised Lamb of God.”
This message leaps off from John the Baptist’s description of Jesus in John 1:29:
Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
The message then looks at four “clues” to Jesus’ identity as the Lamb of God found throughout the Hebrew Bible: the ram provided on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22), the Passover lamb (Exodus 12), the daily sacrifice (Leviticus 1), and the suffering servant (Isaiah 52-53).
You can view the message video and sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.
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I began my message this past weekend by mentioning Kevin Durant’s 2014 MVP acceptance speech. Particularly, I highlighted how the sacrificial love of his mother helped him transcend his circumstances and become more than he imagined. You can watch the entire speech or simply jump ahead to see him talk about his mom at 23:29.
Who is your example of sacrificial love?
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there. (Luke 23:32-33)
without fanfare, the King of Glory is pinned
with gory force upon the beams of wood.
the people watch with voiceless stares.
the sneering rulers speak their fears.
the soldiers mock with maiming force.
overhead the notice speaks sharp
truth: this is the King of the Jews.
with no apparent human heroism,
His snapping skeleton – bloody body –
hangs heavy as God’s heart becomes a wound
opened wide with welcome for all who wash
their weary selves within its messy flow.
but now He hangs at God’s cross purposes
as holiness and grace collide with fire.
the vulture views the spectacle and waits,
as all earth’s air is drained out of God’s lungs.
[This is the fourth in a group of original poems composed for Holy Week.]
This past weekend at Eastbrook, my message was essentially a theological interpretation of the book of Leviticus for Christians today. I found a number of resources helpful in this, but particularly enjoyed the insights of Gordon Wenham in his masterful commentary on Leviticus. In a section of his introduction to the book entitled “Leviticus and the Christian” he writes this helpful interpretive understanding for our reading of Leviticus:
It seems fair to say that the NT not only accepts the moral law of the OT, but reiterates the basic theology of the covenant of which the law forms a part. If the NT stresses much more strongly the grace of God, this is because Christ’s incarnation and death displayed God’s mercy more strikingly than even the exodus in Egypt.
Besides moral laws such as ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself’ (19:18) Leviticus contains a number of laws that are sometimes described as civil legislation, e.g., laws about farming (e.g., 19:9-10, 19, 23-25) and rules fixing the death penalty for certain offenses (e.g., 20:9-16). This type of law is quoted less frequently in the NT than the simple moral imperatives, but when quoted it is treated as equally authoritative (e.g., 1 Cor 9:9 quoting Deut. 25:4 and Mark 7:10 citing Lev. 20:9). The arbitrariness of the distinction between moral and civil law is reinforced by the arrangement of material in Leviticus. Love of neighbor immediately precedes a prohibition on mixed breeding; the holiness motto comes just before the law on executing unruly children (19:18-19; 20:7-9). Instead of distinguishing between moral and civil laws, it would be better to say that some injunctions are broad and generally applicable to most societies, while others are more specific and directed at the particular social problems of ancient Israel. In this commentary the following position is assumed: the principles underlying the OT are valid and authoritative for the Christian, but the particular applications found in the OT may not be. The moral principles are the same today, but insofar as our situation often differs from the OT setting, the application of the principles in our society may well be different, too (34-35).
In relation to our topic of these past weekends about “God in Blank Spaces” or “God of the Displaced Ones,” Wenham writes this:
Though this law is inapplicable literally in modern societies, the principles underlying it should still challenge Christian men [sic] to devise the most effective means that can help the poor of our age. It is not the task of the commentator to say which means should be adopted, e.g., food subsidies or welfare benefits, but simply to emphasize that Christian politicians and voters have a duty to support good schemes to help the needy.