The Next Level

I ONCE PREACHED ON THE "Do not provoke your children to wrath" passage from Ephesians 6:4. I approached it from the perspective of a thirty-two-year-old dad of three preschoolers—that's what I was—struggling to find the line between discipline and punishment. I was convinced I had thoroughly exegeted the text before I began preparing my sermon.

I recently revisited the same text while preaching a series from the book of Ephesians. I pulled my study notes from my files and was startled to see how much of my life experiences as a thirty-two-year-old not only influenced my sermon content and illustrations but my exegetical research as well. I found I could not dip into my old notes and simply review discoveries I had made in a previous exploration. I was now fifty, the father of three adult daughters. I found one commentary particularly helpful this time as I studied the passage, the same commentary I looked at all those years ago but from which I chose to use almost no material. Not only ...

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