the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Year A - Epiphany 3


Isaiah 9:1-4

1 But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness-- on them light has shined.
3 You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder.
4 For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. NRS

Psalm 27:1, 4-9

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.
5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.
6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.
7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.
9 Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. KJV
1 Corinthians 1:10-18

10 Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus
Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.
11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters.
12 What I mean is that each of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ."
13 Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
15 so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name.
16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.
18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. NRS
Matthew 4:12-23

12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.
13 He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali,
14 so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
15 "Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles--
16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned."
17 From that time Jesus began to proclaim, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."
18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea-- for they were fishermen.
19 And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people."
20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
21 As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them.
22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. NRS
additional verses

Matthew 4:24-25
24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them.
25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. NRS


Brian Stoffrengen at

Three years ago I attended workshop by Bill Easum. "Stuck" congregations -- congregations that are stagnate or declining -- congregations where the dominant passion is "Who's in control" -- have three (four) groups of people. There are Deciders who make all the decisions. Then they find Doers to do what they want done. The third group is the Ignored. They may not be asked by the Deciders to do anything, because the Deciders may not even know they exist. They may have told the Deciders, "No," and so they are not asked again. Easum also referred to this third group as "Pew Potatoes." In time, the Deciders will have troubles finding enough Doers to maintain the institution.

The movement to being "unstuck," begins with Doers becoming Dreamers. They know that something isn't right. They know that there must be more to church than institutional survival. They begin to question and refuse to serve on committees that only serve the institution -- and thus, become part of those Ignored by the Deciders. The more the Dreamers dream and do, the more confusion is experienced. Deciders become Controllers. They don't want chaos and confusion. They want control. Most Dreamers will not take on the Controllers. The Dreamers move on.

I present this little scenario of congregational life and ask, "With whom would Jesus be most comfortable?" I would expect to find him with the ignored -- the marginal people -- and with the dreamers as he proclaimed something entirely new that would upset the status quo. I suggested above that the Greek word ethnos essentially refers to people who are "not us". It was used by Jews of Gentiles. It was used by Christian believers of non-believers. Often the people who are "not us" are the ones church members don't want to reach. They want people "like us". Is that obeying the Great Commission?

Warren Carter (Matthew and the Margins) [p. 115]

Yet darkness is not the final word, even though it seems to be. Light, an image of God's life and saving power (Ps 27:1), dawns and rescues people from darkness, whether political oppression (Exod 10:21, 22; 14:20; Isa 9:2; 42:7; 45:7; 47:5; 49:9; 1 En 1:8-9) or personal misery (Ps 90:6; 106:10-16 LXX) such as hunger or affliction (Isa 58:10). Jesus manifests God's salvation by transforming personal misery, by announcing God's empire, by forming an alternative community, and by anticipating the future establishment of God's empire in full (chs. 24-25). [p. 115]
NRS Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

NRS Exodus 10:21 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward heaven so that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness that can be felt."

NRS Exodus 10:22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was dense darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days.

NRS Exodus 14:20 It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.

NRS Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness-- on them light has shined.

NRS Isaiah 42:7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

NRS Psalm 45:7 you love righteousness and hate wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;

NRS Psalm 47:5 God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.

NRS Psalm 49:9 that one should live on forever and never see the grave.

LXE Psalm 90:6 nor of the evil thing that walks in darkness; nor of calamity, and the evil spirit at noon-day.

LXE Psalm 106:10-16
10 even them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death, fettered in poverty and iron;
11 because they rebelled against the words of God, and provoked the counsel of the Most High.
12 So their heart was brought low with troubles; they were weak, and there was no helper.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their affliction, and he saved them out of their distresses.
14 And he brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke their bonds asunder.
15 Let them acknowledge to the Lord his mercies, and his wonders to the children of men.
16 For he broke to pieces the brazen gates, and crushed the iron bars.

NRS Isaiah 58:10 if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.

Brian Stoffrengen at

Repentance properly understood is an "I can't" experience rather than an "I can" experience. If repentance is promising God, "I can do better," then we are trying to keep ourselves in control of our lives. If we can do better, we don't need a gracious God, only a patient One who will wait long enough for us to do better. When we come before God confessing, "I can't do better," then we are dying to self. We are giving up control of our lives. We are throwing our sinful lives on the mercy of God. We are inviting God to do what we can't do ourselves -- namely to raise the dead -- to change and recreate us.


I. Jesus wants us to become disciples.

KJV Matthew 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

NRS Matthew 4:19 And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people."

II. The Cost of Discipleship

KJV Matthew 16:24-26
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

NRS 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

III. The Mission

KJV Matthew 28:19-20
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

NRS 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
  • The Mission in the Church
  • The Mission in the Field

Monday, January 03, 2005

Year A - Epiphany 1

Scripture References

Old Testament Passage: Isaiah 42:1-9

Passage from the Psalms: Psalm 89:20-29

Passage from the Epistle: Acts: 10:34-43

Passage from the Gospel: Matthew 3:13-17