January 2010

The twelfth chapter of 2 Corinthians is known because it references Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Debate continues about what the thorn was and countless words have been dedicated to the idea. Trying to figure out what the thorn is causes us to miss the point of the passage. God’s Word is sufficient so if He left it out then it’s not by accident. But that is a post for later. Paul introduces us here to a theology of weakness. Here is an excerpt 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Now the majority of us probably have not had great revelations and visions of heaven. Paul had been taken to heaven, in bodily form or just in his mind we do not know. Paul was given a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan. Most likely from the context of 2 Corinthians it was a physical ailment that was persistent. Paul, three times pleaded with the Lord to remove it or be healed. God’s answer was no I will leave it for my glory and your good.

A few things to notice. In verse 7 even though Paul recognizes that the thorn is from Satan and a result of the fall he attributes the meaning behind it to God. Paul thoroughly understood the sovereignty of God and recognized His ability to use the thorn for Paul’s sanctification. Paul sees the bigger picture. He sees the spiritual world overlaying our physical one.

God says in verse 9 that His grace is sufficient in Paul’s weakness. In 2 Corinthians Paul writes to battle false teachers and false apostles at the church in Corinth. These false men boast of their greatness and ridicule the weaknesses of Paul. Paul is physically unappealing and his style of preaching is not pretty. So Paul begins to boast of the grace of God.

Paul boasts of God’s grace in his weakness, the thorn. Paul says God allowed the thorn so that the gospel may go forth. Paul recognizes that God will be more glorified by leaving the thorn than if he healed him. He embraces their insults about the weakness and proclaims how God has used it for the gospel. We usually attack back when insulted.

How often do you boast of your weakness? We are taught from a young age to cover up our weaknesses or to emphasize our strengths. Our weaknesses often bring us shame. This passage teaches us that God’s power is greatly revealed in our weaknesses. Our weaknesses are no accident and God desires to use them for His glory.

How can God use your weakness to further the gospel? How can he use your weakness to look more like Christ? Our weaknesses illuminate our humanity, our fragility, and the limits of our ability. When we are strong we are much more likely to operate out of our own capacity. God can be glorified in our strengths. God used the strengths of Paul.

You are weak for the glory of God and your own good. Pray and ask God how He wants to proclaim the good news through your weakness. Your weaknesses are not for your shame, but for the glory of God.


The beauty of Scripture…that it’s power never fades…that Life is spoken through the Word each time I read it, no matter how many times I have read it before…this week I have been taken back to a couple of Scriptures that have had a profound effect on my life…I was looking back over some of my writings/prayers and came across a passage that I was really praying through as I journeyed in finding the Lord’s will during a specific season of my life…This being written some time ago…I feel closer to being at this point than I ever have before — yet still so much further to go to be able to confidently proclaim this longing within the depths of me. As the beauty of Scripture is revealed this girl is continually humbled at the more that I have to unravel and discover about the majesty of my King and wretchedness of my human nature.
“If only I could stand before my family, my colleagues, my roommates, my coworkers, my church body, my peers, my enemies…if only I could fall at my King’s feet and boldly proclaim Paul’s honest reflections in Acts 20:18-35….As I continue to journey and wander from earthly city to earthly city, I am determined to be able to speak Paul’s meek words…Based on how I have always lived before men and among men – each will know that I sought to wholly serve he Lord with all humility. In the midst of the tears and endless trials as I chose to strive with fallen man…still I withheld nothing that might profit your soul; instead I proclaimed it loudly in the crowded marketplace and within my own home. I testified to all peoples, I continually spoke of the beauty of repentance toward God and the joy of running in faith toward my Beloved. The Holy Spirit has bound me so that I must continue forth to a new city – so that all might know. All I have is the Holy Spirit, it is only He that goes with me…it is not I, but the Spirit that testifies all things. I was fully aware of the the chains that would attempt to take me captive and of the countless tribulations that would await me always. But it simply did not detour my passionate longing to speak on behalf of my Bridegroom. My life doesn’t carry any worth in this city, it means nothing to me. All I want is to finish this race with joy unspeakable. I am here for the ministry of love, to testify the wondrous Gospel of Grace. I must keep moving onward…I must tell all. I am innocent of the blood of all men, only because I have chosen to declare the love, mercy, and justice of my Jesus. I have warned, faithfully warned my brethren of the schemes of the evil one. I did not covet any others’ wealth or possessions. Instead I trusted the Jesus I was serving to provide for me only that which is necessary. I have demonstrated to you by all that I do and say – that it is my great joy and my reward to support and love those that are the weakest. It is not I, but our Savior who declares, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.””

Read Acts 20 for yourself. Forget my words. Make it your own prayer.

One thing I will never forget is Tom saying it’s a sin to make Bible study boring.  That’s probably why I hated seminary.  And it’s probably why I don’t like listening to a lot of preachers.  But it’s a thought that has a lot of depth if we think about it.  For those that teach if our explanation of Scriptures are boring then we either have misunderstood them or have not been fully impacted by them.  

2 Timothy 3:16-17

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 

Believer, has the beauty of Scripture escaped you?  Scripture is sufficient to teach and equip us for every good work.  We desperately need to pray for the Holy Spirit to apply these Scriptures to our lives before, during and after we teach.  Resist the temptation to entertain through stories, humor, and even cool visuals.  Don’t disregard your personality and don’t try to be someone else.  But you cannot make the foundation of your teaching ministry your personality or an ability to entertain.  I’m naturally a humorous person, but I find many times in my teaching that I will insert humor for me rather than for the benefit of understanding the Scriptures.  I would also ask you how well you are preparing, studying, and praying.   

 If you are listening and you find a sermon or bible study boring then you have to ask yourself if it’s the fault of the teacher or the listener.  Is your heart fertile ground for the Word?  Are you too hardened to even hear the truth?  I’ve heard church members tell me that they don’t like the sermons at their church.  That presents a large problem when you feel that the pastor, the one charged with feeding you the truth and overseeing the state of your soul, is boring.  First you should examine the state of your heart to determine why you find them boring.  Is it style? Theology?  If it’s that he is not funny enough or entertaining enough then you have a heart issue that needs to be addressed.   I would say the only way God will release you from a “boring” pastor would be if he was in theological error or had issues that should keep him from preaching that have not been addressed.

Studying Scripture should never be boring.  I think it presents an excellent opportunity when we find ourselves in that place to examine our hearts and to examine the teaching that we are ingesting.  Remember our study of Scriptures and who we let teach us the Scriptures is no small or inconsequential thing.  It is for the sanctification of our souls.

Here is a video update from Matt Chandler, the pastor at The Village Church about his cancer treatment and how we can pray for him.

I want to ask you to be in prayer for the people of Haiti.  By now you have seen the pictures and heard the news of the devastating earthquake that hit there on Tuesday.  A disaster like this would be hard for any people or nation but it is multiplied for the tiny nation of Haiti.

To me Haiti was just another country until I read a book about 3 years ago called Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder.  The book was about a doctor from America named Paul Farmer who dedicated his life to the people of Haiti.  Farmer is not a professed believer as far as I know.

I won’t tell you the whole story only that Farmer could have been a famous and rich doctor here in the states but instead gave up his life to build a clinic in Haiti and help the people there. 

The last story is quite heart breaking and an image that I will never forget.  About 2 years ago I was watching CNN and saw a story on Haiti and they talked about people making and eating dirt cookies.  Haiti has to import nearly all or all of its food.  Decisions made by corrupt leaders and other nations have changed the natural habitat there.  Because of the severe famine and lack of food people were mixing sugar, butter, and dirt to bake cookies. 

The people of Haiti today need many things: shelter, food, and water.  But just like every other human being their greatest need is the gospel.  They need to be reconciled to the Father through the blood of Jesus Christ.  Pray that in the midst of tragedy needs are met AND the gospel is proclaimed boldly.

Hello everyone the news this week is that we will have a new blogger posting here soon, Katie Tucker.  Tom used to talk about divine arrivals and divine departures.  It was his way of describing how God sovereignly brought people into your life or removed them.  In it Tom always highlighted God’s sovereign goodness by bringing people into our lives or ministries that can sharpen or challenge us.  Or if need be God can move people out of our lives for His glory.

By God’s hand Katie came to live with Brenda this summer as a divine arrival while she was doing an internship for college.  It’s impossible to be in the Bailey house and not become part of what Ichthus is doing.  In the short time I have known Katie I have seen a passion for international and inter-city missions.  Lastly today January 7th is Katie’s birthday so you can wish her happy birthday in the comments.

Our hope for this blog is that it can present all the different facets of Ichthus’ ministry.  We want to make sure that we continue to speak to men, women, believers, and those who have not yet begun to follow Christ.  We are thankful for Katie’s willingness to write here and look forward to how God will continue to use her for His glory.

Happy New Year from Ichthus Ministries! We hope you had a blessed Christmas. Men’s and Women’s Bible Studies will start back up on Monday January 11th. The men will continue their study in 2 Corinthians. The women will continue their Beth Moore study “Living Beyond Yourself.”

We will also have a new person posting here soon so stay tuned in. We will get back to regular posting again soon.  Leave us a comment and let us know if there is anything you want us to write about or focus on.