There are many things about Bill Heard that have amazed me through the years and one of them was on display as he preached. Here’s a guy who has literally spent thousands of hours reading/studying God’s word. He’s literally studied Philippians 4:1-9 more than anyone I know and has used that text in counseling people for years. And yet…when it came time for him to preach on this text, he still felt inadequate. This isn’t because Bill didn’t study. And it isn’t because Bill didn’t write his thoughts down. It’s because he loves God’s word, fears God, and loves God’s people so deeply, that he felt inadequate to serve God, His word, and His people adequately. It’s a unique level of humility and a unique understanding of God that is worth imitating.
About the sermon:
- It was obvious that Bill was most definitely prepared. He had studied this text and used it so often that he knew this text really, really well. And it was obvious that Bill had experience with this text. He pastorally counseled us with precision. And I think Bill is right…there should be a bump-sticker made: “Don’t worry, fret, or stew but pray, think, and do.”
- There are a few things I took away from the sermon:
- At the beginning, when dealing with Euodia and Syntyche, Bill made this statement: “It doesn’t matter what the issue is, God has told us that it needs to be resolved. With the courage and power that Jesus has given us, we can resolve the issues between us.” This is really true. I find it amazing how often we, as Christians, allow for “little” things to divide us and bring conflicts between us, when they could be easily resolved by walking in the power and courage Jesus has given us. Further, it’s tragic to me when I see damage to the testimony of Christ and I see the damage to the spiritual lives of people who refuse to deal with things like this. This stuff is messy…but so are we. But the gospel more powerful and Jesus’ glory is worth taking biblical risks to resolve conflicts.
- Bill made an intriguing statement about biblical concern vs. unbiblical worry: “Biblical concern is when we’re concerned for God’s glory and another person’s well-being, while unbiblical worry is when we’re worried about how things affect us. Concern is God and others-focused while worry is self-focused.” This was a great summary. Paul wrote about “daily pressure on me of anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28). Yet in Philippians 4, he tells us to “be anxious for nothing.” So, how do those things jive? The only answer could be that one anxiety in 2 Corinthians 11, is God and others-focused and the Philippians 4 anxiety is self-focused.
- The idea that the “peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” is really an astounding thought. Bill said that that peace of God is like a garrison around our hearts and minds. And he said that this peace is the peace of God…it’s not a peace that we produce on our own or a peace that we can produce. It comes from God. As I heard this, I was reminded of John 15, when Jesus tells us, “that my joy may be in you and your joy may be full”. There’s a joy that comes from Jesus, that’s actually His joy. Much like the peace of God…it’s His, not ours, but He makes it ours. And I was reminded of the fruit of the Spirit list in Galatians 5:22-24. It’s the fruit of THE SPIRIT. These are not things we naturally produce…they come from God. And these things, from God, because of Jesus, serve us as a guard or garrison to our hearts and minds.
- One thing that I mentioned at the end of the service was that anxiety reveals what we value or treasure in our hearts. It’s really been an amazing thing for me to see in the book of Philippians. Because Paul treasured being right with God, he deeply valued Christ, who is the only way we can be right with God. And because he knew that Jesus met his greatest need before God (forgiveness of sin, righteousness from God), he knew that there was nothing on this earth to be anxious about. So, when we’re anxious about things in this life, we’re revealing that we’re valuing something too much, rather than valuing Christ and His ability to meet us in our time of need. I’ve started asking myself this question: “what does the fruit of my life right now, reveal what I’m treasuring?” It’s helped me see the idols of my heart more clearly.
- This coming Sunday, we’ll study Philippians 4:10-23, in our final sermon in Philippians. Content in all things…
- Thank you for praying for me while I was on my planning retreat. What I did this year, which was different than most, was I was “out of town” but not really “out of town”. I actually stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Canyonville for the days and nights. This allowed me to come back to Roseburg for my kids’ activities during the late afternoons. Then I went back to Canyonville for dinner and night-time study. I was able to fully map out 1 Corinthians, which is the book we are beginning in January. It’s a book that gets overlooked quite a bit, but there are so many big topics in it that will be great for CLF. We will look at things like maintaining unity in the church; how to keep ourselves sexually pure in an immoral society; how to exercise Christian liberty in Christian love; why did God give us spiritual gifts; what should church gatherings look like; and why is the resurrection important. Lots and lots of ground to cover.
- I’m currently reading a book about racial division and potential answers about this struggle in our nation. It’s been fascinating and challenging. Under our Skin by Benjamin Watson is worth your time, if you’re interested.
- I just finished a documentary on the impact of soccer, around the world. I like those kinds of things. But the last episode of that showed me a side of hero worship that I’ve never quite seen before. It’s about Lionel Messi and how people see him around the world. The documentary is fascinating and if you’re a soccer fan, worth your time. It’s called This is Football.
- I just started another one about rugby. It’s really, really good. The Story of Rugby takes you on the journey of how rugby started and where the sport is today. It’s going on during the Rugby World Cup which is being played in Japan. It’s a crazy game to watch.
If there is something that you’d like for me to write about in these musings, please don’t hesitate to let me know. You can send in your questions or thoughts to Christina Luther, at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to use this blog post to serve you and if there is something you’re interested in, I’d love to give that a shot.