Why I Write These:
This is an initiative I started in 2018 to begin documenting my life better. It’s meant to be a snapshot of a day both for public disclosure of what is going on, both good and hard things in my life. It also serves as a record that I hope to be able to look back on in future years. This concept was inspired by my grandfather, Leon Milton Buttermore, who has a memory that I am envious of, and I hope that by doing this I am able to be the kind of man who starts to treasure the things given him.
Today was Sunday and it was a largely good day! I woke up and got ready for the day. Put on some worship music, got showered, and took care of some cleanup before leaving for church. My apartment neighbor wanted to ride with me to church. He showed up 20 minutes earlier than our agreed upon time. Man, my heart wants to be so hard. Thankfully, God broke down my heart and I did not delay like I had yesterday to open the door and let him in, although I told him I was still getting ready. Still figuring out what boundaries will look like there.
He seemed to be insistent on going to First Baptist after eating doughnuts in our college ministry. That’s something I may need to try to figure out how to talk to our Elders about and see what my best strategy moving forward is.
Anyways, I moved on to ABF and we had a great time of prayer and hard stories. Sherly, a lady from India who has been coming to class, has had a hard time with her program and is returning home. That was tough. We had a few other really good stories from the class that paralleled the grief that the disciples on the road to Emmaus were experiencing.
I talked with Stephen and Annette Davidson and caught up with them for a bit as well as Ed Ray before their ABF started. Great people there! Ed and I commiserated over how odd it is that the more northern parts of the world have such odd day cycles in terms of how the sun is present or absent.
I moved from there. Talked to Shelby Watkins a bit about my apartment neighbor and will see what we can do there. Not a lot of church programs in place. I actually get that. In many ways the program for caring for members is having members care for one another. In other words, I am the program. Oh Lord, be with me if that’s the truth! I will keep moving forward and give this relationship a chance and see how the Lord might want to work on my own heart through this.
I sat next to Cole Penick and his daughter Charlotte. His wife Caroline was leading singing for the kids in childcare.
I met a fellow James (?) who was back from break. He seems to have been going to UBC for a bit, but isn’t a member. I may try to track him down next week and see how he’s doing. He had a long head of black, curly hair. Hopefully I’ll remember him!
Shelby Watkins was also praying for the service. He had some great parts of his prayer. He especially led us in confession that we always hoard our todays from the Lord while we promise him tomorrows that never seem to come. Wow! That’ll pack a punch.
After that, we sung Man of Sorrows – a favorite of mine! Great stuff. He took a beating physically, emotionally, and spiritually. A beating none of us would have had the right stuff to take. Thank God He became man and dwelt among us.
Then Trey Richardson got up and preached on Philemon. I do not remember a single sermon on Philemon in my life. Maybe I’ve heard one…? I can’t remember it, though. So that was cool to hear that. He said the main point of the book is a Picture of Reconciliation. He had 2 main points which were:
- Reconciliation to Christ ought to lead to reconciled relationships in Christ.
- If God was willing to reconcile with us, how can we fail to reconcile with others?
Those are kind of similar thoughts, but they’re phrasing things different ways and so unique thoughts came out of each. He did a great job with the context of the book. Some dandies he doled out:
- Onesimus ran away from Philemon 1,000 miles to Rome and managed to find Paul. Now, Epaphras had trouble finding Paul it seemed. Whether Onesimus had heard of Paul or just randomly ran across him, it is breathtaking to see the providence that the slave of a man in Colosse who happened to be part of the church there found his way to Paul so far away!
- Onesimus and Tychicus were a team that delivered the letters of Colossians, Ephesians, and you guessed it, Philemon. Yes, the letter that returned Onesimus to Philemon and asked for reconciliation was delivered by the trembling hand of the subject of the letter himself. That’s quite a picture!
Trey then went on to give some great applications. The ones that stuck out to me were:
- Business between two persons of the church is family business. What affects two of us affects all of us. This letter was read corporately because it mattered to take care of this between two members of their body in a way that led to deeper love between all members.
- When we love well and refresh each other in the body, this makes everything we have in Christ more effectively understood. Every time one person loves another, everyone benefits in the body. That’s why we should have a group of people (AKA, a local church) that we’re effectively partnered with for the sake of the Gospel.
- Paul does not make his appeal/command to Philemon until verse 17. He could have brusquely inserted commands, sealed the letter, and called it a case closed. In that case, this likely would not have been canonized. Instead, Paul takes his own advice he writes in 2 Timothy 4:2 that you should instruct gently. He takes time to instruct Philemon why this is a reconciliation that should be desired. That’s something to aspire to in my own life.
- One of the things in Paul’s letter is to assert that, no matter what else we possess, possession in Christ makes us all equals before each other. This is why unity in diversity should be something we pray for and seek out. This really hit me hard thinking about my apartment neighbor. I’ll be frank, I don’t naturally see him as an equal. I see him as a charity case to be managed. That’s not charitable of me at all. I need to reframe my heart to see him as a brother — he is a member with me after all. And while that doesn’t mean I wholeheartedly accept all that he does or is and I can’t help guide and instruct him, I can’t do it out of a place of perceived superiority. That’s wrong.
- The little gem about Mark at the end of Philemon is a reminder that Paul has reconciled with those who he once had issues with. But what is even cooler and we didn’t discuss is that while Mark is a picture of reconciliation is that the inclusion of Demas is also divinely inspired. Demas would later abandon Paul, and I think that while we can thank God Paul and Mark overcame their bumpy past, we also need to be charitable with those who may later betray us. We might not even know it, but sometimes we partner with those who, like Judas did to Jesus, will turn their backs on us. No matter — it is still our job to pursue peace and assume the best intentions in others so long as it is possible. This is not to say being gullible is wise, but it is to say that sometimes our desire to be reconciled and loving to those who claim Christ means we’ll be burned by those who prove false over time.
- The play on words by Paul in verse 10 (?) with the words ‘useless’ and ‘useful’ is breathtaking literature. In the prior verse, he sends he is sending Onesimus back to him. Onesimus means useful in the Greek. But then he essentially says that, ‘While he used to be not onesimus to you, he is now onesimus to you.’ That’s cool writing, Paul! Onesimus’ identity in Christ makes him one able to present himself to the church as one now truly useful and his name finds meaning through Christ finally purposing his life in a way that makes him an agent of effective work in this world.
After that, I went to grab some lunch on my way home. Our ABF was having a planning committee, but people had to back out and so we’re trying to reschedule there. I’m trying to bring in new people there to help out with the planning process. It’s an initiative I started, but am thankful to maybe see new leaders step up in the ABF as I am pulled into other endeavors in church. I think one effective stage of leadership is to not abandon a group that you have tried to help lead. This ABF, historically, has gone up and down based on the presence of leaders in it. I hope to change the culture of leadership to be something handed down. Just as I am Timothy to people who are Pauls in some areas, so I can be a Paul in my ABF to new Timothys. ABF is a great and easy way for people to serve meaningfully and lovingly in the church, especially as new believers. It’s rewarding in producing friendships and I think there’s a lot to be said for the work that I hope we can continue to produce there.
I took a short nap this afternoon — I love Sunday afternoon naps! — and then got up and read a bit of Jerle Shannara before going to the Penicks to cook some taco meat for our meal together as a Life Group! We continued to discuss the sermon and I thought Chaz Miller made a really cool connection.
He said that Onesimus had confidence because of the letter that Paul had written on his behalf. A defense and testimony to Onesimus’ coming to the faith. This enabled Onesimus to go and face the reconciliation that must take place. This is similar to the Pilgrim’s Progress theme where Christian receives a letter to be carried to the gates of the heavenly city. He is to present this as authenticity of his status in entering into that city. That letter is handed out on the merit of Christ’s blood and we confidently walk as Christians knowing some day that we will arrive at Heaven’s gates in need of being reconciled to the Father. Thankfully, we have a letter. A testimony. A witness to the fact that our reconciliation should and will be accepted. Just as Paul was willing to pay whatever debt Onesimus owed Philemon — should Philemon decide that debt ought to be paid — so to we have one who has promised to pay any debt we ourselves accrued that we would not be able to pay our master if we were left alone.
Cool thought, Chaz!
There were many other great thoughts. I mostly enjoyed listening to stories of reconciliation that people brought up. We all need it. We all go through it. We should all pursue it. It’s nice to be reminded that all the Saints strive together as one in the name of our King Jesus. We’re all so alike even as we function differently in our unique roles within the body that God predestined for us. It’s beautiful to be surrounded by so many who do so many things they might not rather do. Humbling to be around folks like that. Such great stories of grace that spur me on to more love and good deeds — which is the whole point of church, eh? Cool to see that promise ring true!
Well, I wrapped up my 2nd edit of my Lesson 7 for Living Sacrifices and will send it out to some eyeballs for revision. I hope to bust out the 2nd and 3rd lessons next week. At least, get rough drafts done. Want to be ahead when we start on the 23rd. Now, I have an early morning at the gym ahead of me. So I will read some more Jerle Shannara, Mere Christianity, and Genesis 36 & 37 tonight.
Thanks, Lord! You’re a good father and send good gifts to your children. UBC is one of those. A balm to my soul. They prod me to tread more boldly into the unknown where I might learn to reveal your name to the people of the Earth. May all glory be given to you, Father! Thank you for providing letters of reconciliation to those who have truly come to know you and accept the title ‘Children of God’. Let us walk forward to that Heavenly City together. Amen.