This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continues ourfour-week preaching series entitled “Reset.” In this series, we are exploring four aspects of our life together as Christ’s church based on the words of Hebrews 10:24-25. This week we focused on the phrase: “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” There is much more going on at Eastbrook during this four weeks than a preaching series, so let me encourage you to find out more here.
You can find the message outline and video below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.
“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…” (Hebrews 10:24)
A Reset on Our Concept of the Church
The church as an event or a consumer activity
Last week: the church as a family who loves one another
This week the church as a body who serves one another
A Reset on How the Church Serves as a Body (Romans 12:3-8)
Like a body, the church is made by God and gifted by God
Like a body, the church has different parts that belong to one another
Like a body, the church has differing abilities in differing parts
Like a body, the church requires every part to actively use its unique gifts
This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:
Memorize some portion or all of either Hebrews 10:24-25 or Romans 12:3-8.
What do you think are your spiritual gifts or talents given by God? Pray about that and then make a list of those you are aware. Perhaps you could discuss that with someone close to you so you both can grow in your faith and service.
Set aside space and time this week to meditate on Romans 12:3-8. Let the Lord search through your heart and mind about your love for Him and for others. Ask the Lord to direct you in service within the church for His glory.
This coming Sunday at Eastbrook Church we begin a new preaching series entitled “Reset.” This series is part of a beginning of the year “reset” of our faith and community life as Eastbrook. We know that many have been disengaged during the past couple years, while some are new and have not yet found a place to engage. We will explore four aspects of our life as a church n this series based in Hebrews 10:24-25, which says:
“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
This series is actually more than a series as well. Each and every aspect of our life and ministry as a church will be touched by the Ideas of our “Reset,” which I describe in the video below.
Find out more here and consider joining in with a “Reset” small group or stepping forward to engage with God and His people in new ways. This is a great time to reconnect if you’ve disengaged from church and connect deeper if you’re new.
Here are the weekly topics for this four-part series:
“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.
“Evangelical Leaders Insist the Biden Administration Stand with Afghan Allies” – From The Evangelical Immigration Table: “Today [August 17, 2021] evangelical leaders sent a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to follow through on his pledge to offer refuge to Afghan individuals and their families at risk due to their service to the U.S. government in Afghanistan. ‘It is of utmost moral urgency that the U.S. government keeps our commitment, ensuring that those who qualify for Special Immigrant Visas as a result of their service to the United States are safely evacuated from Afghanistan and to a safe location for processing, along with their immediate families. We recognize and lament that it has become increasingly difficult to safely evacuate our allies. However, giving up on these brave individuals is simply not an option,’ the letter reads.”
“Terumi Echols Named President and Publisher of IVP” – From InterVarsity Press: “InterVarsity/USA has named Terumi Echols as president and publisher of InterVarsity Press (IVP). Echols succeeds Jeff Crosby who recently became president and chief executive officer of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA), the trade association of Christian publishing. Before coming to IVP, Echols worked for nearly two decades at Christianity Today International, with roles including chief publishing officer and publisher of Christianity Today. ‘Terumi Echols was a key contributor and visionary to many, if not most, of the advances InterVarsity Press made during my time as its publisher,’ Crosby said. ‘As IVP’s new president and publisher, she brings vision, a passion for sustained growth, and a deep understanding of the Press’s mission to the university, the church, and the world. I believe very bright days are ahead for IVP under Echols’s leadership.'”
“The U.S. Should Not Ignore the Plight of Nigeria’s Christians” – Nina Shea in National Review: “Nigeria’s long plague of jihadist violence and mayhem has reached new heights. Earlier this month, armed bands of ethnic Fulani herdsmen assaulted the mainly Christian areas along the border of the Plateau and Kaduna states of central Nigeria. Units of several hundred Muslim Fulani militiamen, along with their herds, entered villages along with war cries of ‘Allahu akbar’ and fired AK assault rifles randomly through the streets and into homes, reportedly killing scores of civilians and burning hundreds of houses and acres of surrounding cropland.”
“Archaeologists surprised by discovery of 6th century Christian town in Egypt” – Abdulla Kadry in AL-Monitor: “A team of Polish researchers has discovered evidence of a well-planned Christian settlement dating to the sixth century in the ancient Egyptian port city of Marea. The discovery was made along Lake Mariout about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Alexandria just a few miles south of the Mediterranean Sea near the present-day village of Hawwariya. Archaeologists said the settlement also has a building that was used by Christians on pilgrimage to Abu Mena and the tomb of St. Mena, a Coptic martyr associated with healing who died in the late third or early fourth century when Christians were still being persecuted.”
“A Different Sense of Privilege: Privilege today still comes with strings attached, but they are different now” – Steve Lagerfeld in The Hedgehog Review: “In the 1980s, I got to know a man who seemed to be the walking embodiment of privilege. He was an elderly but vigorous WASP, tall and lean, with ancestry in this country that reached back to the seventeenth century. A Princeton man, he had gone into finance and risen to become CEO and chairman of a major regional bank. He had one of those WASP names one can barely resist satirizing, but he had been known all his life by his childhood nickname, Curly. This was just the first hint that this man was something of an anomaly. (Curly was also, inevitably, almost entirely bald.) Long retired by the time I met him, he had chalked up the expected array of civic and charitable activities during his career. But in retirement he was pursuing with characteristic energy an assortment of more hands-on volunteer jobs. One of them in particular struck me. He was a hospital orderly, pushing carts here and there, assisting patients’ families, and doing various tasks too small or tedious for the nursing staff. ‘A candy striper,’ he joked. As far as I know, he was never asked to empty bedpans, but I’m pretty sure he would have done it. Where, I have often wondered, does such a spirit of service come from? How could it be revived?”
“The three-or-four-hours rule for getting creative work done” – Oliver Burkeman at his blog: “There aren’t many hard-and-fast rules of time management that apply to everyone, always, regardless of situation or personality (which is why I tend to emphasise general principles instead). But I think there might be one: you almost certainly can’t consistently do the kind of work that demands serious mental focus for more than about three or four hours a day. As I’ve written before, it’s positively spooky how frequently this three-to-four hour range crops up in accounts of the habits of the famously creative.”
The world around us has all sorts of darkness these days. There is the darkness that gathers around us in visible ways: violence, famine, global conflict, racial tension, unemployment, etc. For some of us, that darkness feels close and for others it feels distant.
However, I’d like to sharpen our understanding of darkness by remembering four aspects of Jesus’ life, and putting them into the context of light and darkness.
As the light of the world, first of all, Jesus came to shine God’s light into the world through His incarnation. As it says in Hebrews 1:3, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” Or as it says in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus’ incarnation shines the light of God, displaying who God is.
As the light of the world, second of all, Jesus came to shine God’s light into the world through His proclamation and teaching. After Jesus’ powerful teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, we read, “the crowds were amazed at his teaching,because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (Matthew 7:28-29). Jesus’ teaching shines the light of God, telling who God is.
As the light of the world, thirdly, Jesus came to shine God’s light into the world through works of service and healing. Peter, one of Jesus’ followers, spoke of Jesus’ wonder-working power in this way: “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him” (Acts 2:22). The works of service and the healing—these signs and wonders—display God’s purposes for humanity. And it is through His service and miracles shining God’s light, that Jesus also displays who God is.
As the light of the world, fourthly, Jesus came to shine God’s light into the world through enter into human suffering and transforming it. We read about Jesus’ transformative suffering on the Cross in the first letter of the Apostle John, chapter 4, verses 9 and 10: “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10). Jesus’ crucifixion shines the light of God, displaying who God is and just how far God will go on behalf of humanity.
Jesus was shining God’s light into the gathering darkness. As His followers we also have the opportunity to shine His light into the gathering darkness.
And those four aspects of Jesus’ light-shining life speak to us about shining light as well. We shine God’s light:
through living incarnate
through proclaiming good news and telling of God’s ways
through works of service and even miraculous signs
through entering into the suffering of the world through Christ’s transformative sacrifice
And so that we don’t lose sight of just how basic this is, the love for our literal neighbor saves us from abstraction about these things. Because often our ideas about life become abstract.
In her quirky book, How to Do Nothing, artist Jenny Odell talks about how neighborliness keeps us from being abstract. She writes:
My boyfriend and I live in a large apartment complex that’s next to the house of a family of four, and when we’re sitting on our balcony and they’re sitting on their porch, we can easily see each other….But we didn’t learn each other’s names for two years, and we may not have chatted at all if it hadn’t been for the neighborliness of Paul, the dad.
One day Paul invited us over for dinner. Because I hadn’t been in a neighbor’s home since I was a teenager, it was unexpectedly surreal to be inside the house that forms a permanent part of the view from our apartment. The interior of the house went from being an idea to a palpable reality….we probably all saw ourselves from a new angle. For my part, the experience made me realize how similar the life situations of most of my friends are, and how little time I spend in the amazing bizarro world of kids.
When we arrived back to our apartment, it felt different to me–less like the center of things. Instead the street was full of such “centers,” and each one contained other lives, other rooms, other people turning in for the night and worrying their own worries for the next day. Of course I had already accepted all of this in an abstract sense, but it wasn’t felt.
Jenny Odell, How to Do Nothing (Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2019), 134-135.
Shining the light of God is something that is true, but is not intended to be abstract. It is intended to be felt. It is intended to be heard. It is intended to be like flesh and bone moving into the neighborhood.
Loving our literal neighbors – our apartment-mates, those in the condo next door, those in the duplex unit above or below us, those on our dorm floor, those in the retirement community, or those in the house next door – forces us to shine the light of God in ways that are real, practical, and tangible. If we cannot love our literal neighbor, then it is unlikely that we will truly love anyone else in our lives.
Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:26-28)
Lord Jesus Christ,
King of all kings and Lord of all lords,
teach me to live in Your servant way
as I walk with You upon this earth.
Help me to approach my life
not out of selfish ambition or prideful clamoring,
but with the same attitude You had
as You took the downwardly mobile path of the Cross.
I confess this is difficult for me
and seems to cut against our human nature
as shaped by the self-will of the Fall
and the prideful ladder of success.
Purify me of the ways in which this seeps
into Your church and into ministry,
where agendas and pride are baptized
with a thin veneer of religious words and actions.
Purify me and sanctify me
that I might become more like You
from the inside out, oh Jesus,
my Servant King.