Pastoral Backstory – May 14th, 2015



(What is the Backstory and why?)


May 14th, 2015


We’ve been in a series in Romans 8 for several weeks now, each week outlining one facet of the Gospel for which God is worthy of praise. So far we’ve taken note of the freedom, spirituality, identity, and hope we have through Christ.

Anything worth praising God for is something that, as you’d expect, also encourages. The aforementioned represents the kind of salutary provision in the Gospel that should hearten us–and to a degree that we’re led to praise.

So we’ve encouraged everyone to let the words of the chapter encourage in a more robust way through memorizing them. The words themselves mean to imbue us with resilience in our pilgrimage.


(HT: our Anglican friends at

But in this Sunday’s passage we come across a text with which many seek to encourage. But sadly they end up unwittingly employing it like a cudgel. What should offer hope can in fact deeply hurt, if proper care isn’t taken in expressing its true intent.

I’m talking about verse 28 of Romans 8:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for the good, to those called according to His purpose.

It’s typically trotted out in the wake of tragedy. You may have heard someone quote some variation of that text, or sought to encourage someone with it yourself.

And while Paul’s words certainly apply to sorrows great and small, the encouragement of the passage must derive from the full context of the passage (as all passages must).

So at least part of our time this Sunday will take stock of what Paul means (and doesn’t), and why these words–especially these words–are in fact true and encouraging. Neither a pollyannaish nor a cynical view of this verse will do.

We’re in verses 26-30. (The recitation continues, this week with the help of Cathy McAndrew!)

It hasn’t been that long since we had a children’s sermon. But we’re having one again this Sunday. And like last time the children’s sermon will almost serve as the introduction to the adult sermon. Also like last time, it will take its cue from that fixture of a children’s world: the beloved animated film character (yes, another one–or several as the case will be).

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.01.26 PMExcept this time the character(s) we’ll showcase won’t be so much examples as counter-examples of the story we find in the Gospel. For all the salutary contribution these personages make to our kids imagination, wonder, and joy, I took note of a subtle theme running through several of their storylines that propounds a profoundly different outlook–one that could not be more contrary to the one Jesus offers us.

This will be no exercise in throwing Bambi under the bus (aren’t you thankful for that image?); nor will it be a subtle encouragement to boycott (given how well those have worked in the past).

But while we’ve encouraged both young and old to search for the Gospel story in other good stories, it’s equally true that we also have to learn to sift through those stories for what in fact has no purchase in the Gospel.

Nepal-640You gave over $1100 to help the relief effort in Nepal.

As promised, here’s an update from the MTW folks on the ground there.


Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 5.25.10 PMOne article that wheeled its way through the Internet this week pertained to the disenchantment younger constituencies have with the kinds of services that are unapologetically hip. We might attempt a definition of “Hip” (for the “square” among us) as so aligned with those cultural sensibilities that prefer flash, and trade in entertainment, as to be essentially indistinguishable from them. The alleged inauthenticity of those kinds of services has led some to have another look at more enduring forms of gathered worship.

That one form of liturgy (and, yes, all worship services are by definition liturgical since they provide a structure in which worshippers participate) is giving way to another is debatable, and perhaps not even worth debating. But I can tell you that for every service at CtK, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes to craft a coherent theme for worship that seeks to incorporate “treasure both old and new” (Mt 13:52).

Some who visit us might wonder why we saturate our worship services in Scripture texts.  Here’s five minutes of (yes, sometimes controversial) Anglican bishop N.T. Wright explaining, uncontroversially, the wisdom of letting the Text be both the skeleton and the flesh of every service.



AdrianSmithYou may recognize him as a member of the Biblical Performance Troupe who visited us in recent months.

Coming later this month, Dr. Adrian Smith, professor of New Testament and Hermeneutics at Redeemer Seminary, will preach twice at CtK from the Gospel According to Mark and the book of Ezekiel.



407x300_ubscribe_freeOur denomination publishes a quarterly journal called ByFaith. It’s a free subscription for anyone. CtK gets a stash of them with each publication. We’ll have copies on hand this Sunday. Grab yours.

Articles this quarter include a prelude to next month’s annual General Assembly in Chattanooga. We try to send communiques from there each year. You can even live-stream the Assembly if you want.



Finally prayers are in order for

  • Ryan and Anna Garmon who just welcomed a little lady into the world early Wednesday morning: Isabel Audrey (That makes a “quadfecta”: a fourth child into the fold in just under a couple months. Batten down the hatches, nursery. Ruth, Zerah, Jack, and Isabel may soon be making their presence known.)
  • our own Kevin Gladding who’s graduating Monday night from Redeemer Seminary
  • Ron and Diane Morren teaching in Uganda
  • Karla Pollock heading to Malawi this weekend to work with children
  • David and Gloria Farah, celebrating their 60th annivesary

and also for

  • the survivors of the derailment outside Philadelphia
  • Horace Williams as doctors seek to find the cause of a persistent fever
  • Dallas Cagle as he spends time with his grandfather who is in his final days

Author: Glenn Machlan

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