In This Corner…

In This Corner Sermon Audio Here

Ecclesiastes 7:15-23
“Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the main event, in the category of the meaning of life here on planet Earth, presiding over this match we have the Holy Spirit, the King of Kings and the Father of All, (pause) Now in the red corner, with a professional record of with numerous wins in the lives of fools, from the heart of the Adversary but living in countless minds all over the world, please welcome the Concept of Wickedness! (Pause) The opponent in the blue corner with a professional record of the Ultimate Win, through the work of the Son of God, and found in the lives of the saints, from before the beginning of time, please welcome the Concept of Righteousness!”

How Do We Live in the Midst of Struggle?

Find Your Sweet Spot In The Middle
Ecc. 7:15-23 We have to get out of the corner!

  • v16/17 – Don’t be holier than thou, or a smart-alec, and don’t be mr. wicked; live in the middle (which is where the fight is!)
  • v20 don’t pretend to be perfect, we all know better
  • v23 we know we’re going to fall short; don’t obsess about it

Bring Your Best To The Conflict
Rom. 12:3-8 Don’t just show up; TRAIN

  • v3 sober judgment w/ faith; admit weakness and strengths
  • v4/5 we are a TEAM – not just individuals (wrestling points)
  • v6/8 prophesying = proclaimer of divine concerns
    • serving = service as attendant, aide, or assistant
    • teaching = regardless of setting
    • encouraging = urge strongly, appeal to, urge, exhort
    • contributing = to give WITH (larger than ourselves)
    • leadership = exercise a position of leadership
    • mercy = be greatly concerned about someone in need

Let’s USE our spiritual gifts in the midst of life’s struggle! When all is said and done, the Fight has ultimately already been Won by One!

Unresponsive Joy

Unresponsive Joy Sermon Audio Here
Looking into the light
Ecclesiastes 6:1-12
This sermon topic was chosen a year ago. I am re-amazed at God’s perfect timing, as my family and I grieve the loss of someone very close to us.

When “Joy” Doesn’t Respond, What Are You Seeing?

An Eternal Perspective is for everyone
1-9 We Are all Headed towards Eternity

  • v1 “evil”=source of distress (not amoral malice) We jump to conclusions to determine if a thing is “good” or “bad” based on our response to it. Good/Bad is often OUR judgment, not God’s
  • v6 perspective: where do we end up? Before God in eternity, with nothing but our SELF to show
  • v9 focus on finding joy in your current circumstance, instead of discounting what you have for what “might” be better – “to be or not to be” speech

An Eternal Perspective requires an Eternal God
10-12 The challenge: we’re all short-sighted, and short-lived

  • v12 our lives are fleeting; we can’t directly know the outcome after we’ve gone – only God knows

An Eternal Perspective is discoverable through the Eternal Savior
Rom. 8:28-39 A Reminder that we can’t see it all with our human eyes

  • v28-30 when joined with Christ, we become part of a process which God has designed:
    we are joined to Christ;
    we become more like Christ;
    we are called like Christ;
    we are justified through Christ;
    we are and will be glorified through Christ.
    It is his work in us that matters!
  • v30-39 all of these verses reinforce our connection to Christ.

It is HIS work in us that matters!

I Can’t Get No…

I Can’t Get No… Sermon Audio Here

Ecclesiastes 5:8-16

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction, Rolling Stone’s Magazine #2 Song of all time was considered very controversial when it came out in 1965. It was considered an attack on the status quo. Which reminds me…

Because Life Is Temporary We Can’t Get…

Satisfaction from Power
vs8-9 power as a distraction from the task

  • people in positions of power seek even MORE power, to the detriment of all

Satisfaction from Money
vs10-14 money is transactional, not an end to itself

  • Rockefeller: how much $ is enough? “just a little bit more”

Satisfaction from Savings
vs15-16 what are we saving FOR?

  • hard work to save for the future – only will go so far

Lasting Satisfaction without the Lord
1 Tim. 6:6-12 God transcends the temporary

  • v6 godliness WITH contentment
  • v9/10 eager for money=meeting your own needs=idolatry
  • v11 pursue=IMPERATIVE FOLLOW (not chase to catch, but follow to stay on the right path)
  • v12 “take hold” the state of holding onto (bird, landing on log floating down river)

Our ultimate satisfaction is only found in maintaining our connection to Christ.

The Problem Of Loneliness

The Problem Of Loneliness Sermon Audio Here

Ecclesiastes 4:7-12

An Answer for Loneliness: Remember ~

The Benefits of Interaction
Ecc. 4:7-12 the “vanity” of work for work’s sake

  • v7-8 the context of work: “for whom”?
  • v9 good return: sum greater than parts
  • v10 help – the benefit of community
  • v11-12 survival – efficiency of community

The Blueprints for Interaction
Heb. 13:1-6 how do we get out of that slump?

  • v1 keep on loving – ONGOING
  • v2 love outside comfort zone
  • v3 reach into uncomfortable situations
  • v4 protect faithfulness in marriage (keep it honorable)
  • v5 remember mere stuff doesn’t make your lives better

v6 When we’re at our most lonely, we’ve got to look for God’s presence. Satisfaction is found in Christ, not mere “stuff”.

What Time Is It?

What Time Is It Sermon Audio Here
Time Is Passing
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Consider the famous Einstein quotes about time. One of the first that comes to mind is:
“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”
A less known, but well appreciated quote is, “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
But the most apropos quote for us today: “Time is an illusion.”

What Is It Time For?

Time is For Passing, Pleasure, and Purpose
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ~ Look at the Time, Activity, and Season

  • Time=Chronological
  • Activity=delight/pleasure
  • Season=an appointed occasion

“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.” ~ Henry van Dyke

Time is For Preparation
Revelation 21:1-6 ~ At The End of Time

  • v1 all this is temporary
  • v2 God preparing for our arrival
  • v3-4 God’s presence with us reason for joy
  • v5 time to make everything new – old will pass away
  • v6 Jesus is our context for life

What time is it? Time to live as if Today is the Day!
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” ~ Mother Teresa

The “Evangelical” Label

reflection
Warning: Rant Ahead

I answered a telephone survey yesterday for pastors. There were the standard questions about the size of my congregation, the percentage of adults in leadership, and others. However, towards the end of the survey, they started asking demographic questions, designed to put labels on me (to be charitable, I’m assuming that this is to give context to my answers, but that might not be the case at all.)

And the question came up: Are you an Evangelical?

Since I couldn’t see the text of the question, I didn’t know if the survey was asking if I was a member of the Captial E Evangelical Movement, or if I was a small-letter e evangelical. I had to take a few moments, and assume if they were asking if I was Captital E – to which I replied, “no, not anymore”.

The next question: Are you Mainline?

Well, I’m not nuts about label either! After a few moments, I answered, “yes.” And then I said, “Wait, are those the only two choices?”

I was telling my family about the phone survey, and my 16 year old daughter asked, “What *is* an Evangelical?”

My reply – and the reason I’m writing this blog entry – is worth some reflection on my part, and perhaps will be valuable for some of my readers.

I said:
“A Capital E Evangelical believes that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, and therefore is so concerned about people’s souls that they’re willing to try and influence culture as a whole in order to bring people to Jesus. That means that they’ll try to pass laws to regulate the behavior of people who are not yet followers of Jesus to *act as if they were*. In doing so, they try to make their surrounding culture SIMILAR to the Kingdom of God, without actually being a part of it.”

“Small-e evangelicals also believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, and therefore, try to introduce people to Jesus directly. They’re not about changing the culture; they’re about introducing people to Jesus, so that HE can change their hearts.”

“I’m not an Evangelical; I don’t want to change the culture to be more Christian-LIKE. I’m an evangelist: I just want people to come to Jesus, and I think it’s the work of individual followers of Jesus to introduce their friends and neighbors to Him.”


That’s part of the work of the church; to encourage those in the Kingdom of God to live and laugh and love so well that the outside world looks on in wonder at the changed hearts of those who follow Christ.


So – apparently, I’ve outed myself. I am no longer an Evangelical… but I’m more of an evangelist now than I ever was.

If this has sparked a question in you about *your* relationship with Christ, and has caused you to wonder where you stand with God, I’d love to talk with you about it. Leave a comment, message me, give me a phone call, or show up at Warden Community Church. I’d love to sit and talk with you over a good cup of coffee and an open Bible…

Pleasure, Work, Wisdom

Pleasure, Work, Wisdom Sermon Audio Here
Thoughts from the Teacher - a study in Ecclesiastes
Ecclesiastes 2:1-3; 9-11

Ask yourself: how do you take in:

The Purpose of Pleasure
What can we learn looking inside?

  • v1 we test our hearts; what is discovered?
  • v2 what is accomplished?
  • v3 take pleasure in fun, guided by wisdom?
  • v4-8 take pleasure in work?

The Worth of Work
How do we judge the value of our work?

  • v9 keep your head, no matter circumstances
  • v10 hard work give sense of accomplishment
  • v11 but it doesn’t last

=> Ever notice that when your cup of happiness is full, somebody always jogs your elbow?

The Warning of Wisdom
Is there an often-ignored danger here?

  • v1-3 hoarding wealth not same as accumulation
  • v4-5 injustice & self-indulgence connected in God’s economy
  • v6 power of judgment and sentencing is God’s alone

The worldling says—live to Pleasure as I die to God.’
The ascetic says—’I live to God as I die to Pleasure.’
The Christian says—’Lord, in my life, let both united be;
I live to Pleasure as I live to Thee.’


Pastor Ed Backell

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