While in seminary I got really sick one Sunday morning. So sick that I had to pull my car over to the side of the road to vomit as I was on my way to church. Needless to say, I turned around and went home.
As I lay on my couch channel surfing I noticed that there was a Lord of the Rings marathon. I’d seen them all before and loved them, but this marathon was different. These were all the uncut/director’s cut versions. An unabridged non-TNT version? Sign me up! I buckled up and spent the next 11 hours glued to my TV watching each of the three (at the time) films that comprise the series. It was amazing how much got left out of the movie. But when you’re filming and have to fit a particular time frame, not everything can fit.
One of the most difficult aspects of preparing to preach each week is determining what makes it into the sermon and what gets left on the cutting room floor. There is plenty of material that gets left out but it is all really good. So, I’m beginning what I’m calling The Cutting Room Floor. Think of this as the “Pastor’s Cut” where I give to you all of what I desired to include but needed to cut out for various reasons. Each week I’ll deliver to you what doesn’t make it into the sermon and a brief word on why it was left out.
My hope in sending this to you is that you would be encouraged in new and fresh ways to see and savor Jesus Christ.
RESOURCES FOR STUDY
As I mentioned on Sunday morning, we will be consulting quite a few resources as our team determines how best to chop up this series. Listed below are a few of the ones we’re starting out with. While there are several more resources that I’m using (happy to share if you enjoy technical and tedious) these are the primary resources we are using.
*Ephesians For You - Richard Coekin
God’s Word For You Series
If you haven’t gotten your hands on a book in this series, this would be a great place to start. This series is written in a non-technical way for everyone to be able to access it. Coekin takes Ephesians and he teaches it so that we might apply what Paul is saying. So far I’ve enjoyed his emphasis on:
- The Cosmic nature of the Gospel (God uniting all things in Christ Jesus, 1:10).
- The Church and her mission.
*Ephesians - N.T. Wright
Paul For Everyone Series (Paul for Everyone)
Very few theologians alive are as famous, infamous, and helpful as Tom Wright. His service to Christ’s church and to Christian scholarship continues to be a gift. In this short Bible study, Wright asks probing questions to be sure that we are getting to the heart of the matter. Though this study is meant to be used as a complement to his Paul For Everyone commentary, I find that on its own, it allows space to process the text in a helpful way.
The Message of Ephesians - John Stott
The Bible Speaks Today Series
There are few sermons I write where I do not consult what the good Doctor Stott has to say. One reason I resonate with him is because it feels as if he’s writing to me. I appreciate his ability to capture complexity and reduce it without being reductionistic. Stott will expound the beauty of the text, cut you to the heart with his teaching, then piece you back together with the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. John Stott is always a personal favorite of mine.
The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (NICNT) - F.F. Bruce
If you’re looking for a somewhat accessible technical commentary on the text then look no further than this one. F.F. Bruce is one of my favorite NT scholars and I was thrilled to dive into this. This particular work is interesting because Bruce compares and contrasts the Epistles to the Colossians to Philemon with the letter sent to Ephesus. I’d never thought about the epistles being conversation partners. When you dive in, however, Paul is very intentional about how he sees the proper application of the gospel-centered life.
Practice Resurrection, a conversation on growing up in christ - Eugene Peterson
This book is not for everyone. Peterson acknowledges that this book will be too convicting for many to read. But for all who dare, this book is transformational. Peterson, writing as an older man, reflects on 40 years as a pastor in what he calls the Practice of Resurrection in the local church. This is not a commentary on Ephesians in the proper sense. This is a commentary and referendum on the church that calls us back to the Church as she ought to be.
*This is a resource that our teaching team will be reading through.
I wanted to include our corporate prayer from Sunday. I found it here as a part of the blog for St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Rocklin, CA. I amended a few portions of it [noted below by brackets] but found the prayer to be timely and profound. My deepest gratitude to our brothers and sisters at St. Matthews that produced this and made it available for us to be strengthened by it at Fellowship.
Loving Father, in these times of uncertainty, watch over your church, give courage to your people, and use this time to work through your people that we may be inspired in new ways to care for our neighbors. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Save & defend Your Church, from all enemies of Your Word. Teach us to love Your name, kindle within us the desire for all that is good and right, and help us to trust in You. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Guard those in authority over us, especially our president and Congress, [Governor Kemp, and all elected officials]. Give wisdom and guidance to our leaders and leaders around the world that lives may be saved and the well-being of all people may be preserved. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Deliver from darkness those who do not know Jesus, and make your light shine in the hearts and lives of all your people that the light of Christ in us may push back the darkness in our World. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Loving Father, Give us the courage to teach our children well, that they may know Your ways and not depart from them. Bless the places where Your people gather around Your Word, [including our brothers and sisters in and around Afghanistan, and] those who teach and those who learn. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Comfort those in distress, and heal the sick, Give peace to those troubled. Bring us through trouble and trial by Your grace, that we may sing anew Your wondrous love and mercy. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Deliver us from these challenging times by your grace, bless all the medical staff that is charged with caring for people, [all doctors, nurses, medical staff, and personnel] give wisdom to researchers and scientists that Covid-19 may be overcome. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Risen Jesus, help us to remember that our hope is in you that you have overcome sin and death and risen from the grave and that one day you will return and heal your broken people and broken world. Come, Lord Jesus. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
All these things we pray, O Lord, in confidence of Your mercy, trusting that You will grant to us all things needful and prevent all things harmful to our faith, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord.