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Keep the faith and keep reading,


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November 18, 2008 Posted by | Announcements, Moving | | 2 Comments

Titus 2-3: Paul’s Practical Point for Titus’ Purity

Just a quick note today because Titus 2:1-10 has a very subtle point I think every young man, especially preachers and teachers need to note.

In this text, Paul told Titus what to teach older men, what to teach younger men, what to teach older women and what to teach slaves. Interestingly, when it came to the younger women, he told Titus to teach the older women what to teach them. 

Why the shift? Why not tell Titus what to teach the young women? 

Isn’t the reason a bit obvious. Titus has no business getting involved in the lives of the young women. He doesn’t need to be in any situation where he might be alone with a young woman teaching her anything. 

This just demonstrates exactly how insightful God is and how practical the word really is. Even in this subtle statement we see God’s understanding of practical ways for us to stay pure. I realize there can be all kinds of temptations even in the other relationships mentioned. But one of the most natural places to stray even while intending to be pure is when men start hanging out with younger women trying to support and educate them in anything.

Guys, don’t do it. Teach the older women to teach the younger women and protect yourself from this temptation.

Keep the faith and keep reading,


November 21, 2008 Posted by | Purity, Teaching, Titus | , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Timothy 4-Titus 1: I Need the Support of God and Men

One of my all time favorite stories is of a little boy who cried out in the middle of a stormy night. His mother came to check on him and he pleaded with her to stay in the bed with him for comfort. 

“Oh, honey, you know I need to sleep with Daddy.”

“But, Mommy, I’m scared.”

“There’s no need to be scared, sweetheart. You know that God is here with you.”

“Yeah, I know, but sometimes I need someone with skin on.”


That describes me. I know God is with me, but I also need someone with skin on. Sometimes I feel a bit unspiritual for saying that. But today I read II Timothy 4:9-18. In the past, I simply noticed Paul’s great faith in God. Even though everyone abandoned him, God was still with him and God would deliver him. Clearly, Paul had a great faith in God.

However, in this reading I noticed something else. Even with this great faith in the presence and deliverance from God, Paul was asking Timothy to hurry up and come to him and bring John Mark because all these people had been abandoning him. 

Do you see it? Paul had great faith in God. He was able to endure his imprisonment alone because he knew God was with him. But he also needed someone with skin on. He needed the encouragement that came from like-minded people who could edify and uplift him. In fact, I think we see that relying on God means relying on His people.

The take away for me is keep praying, keep relying on God. At the same time, keep bringing brethren around me who will also encourage and strengthen. It’s okay to need and want someone with skin on.

Keep the faith and keep reading,


November 20, 2008 Posted by | Comfort, Encouragement, Friends, II Timothy, Relationships, relying on God | , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Timothy 2-3: Those in the World are Prisoners not Enemies

Prisoner by Jennifer Gordon

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (II Timothy 2:24-26, ESV).

This passage means a lot to me. It represents a paradigm shift. For the longest time, I would look at those outside the body of Christ with a bit of smugness. After all, even though I had done bad things, I had chosen to enter Christ. These people were the enemy who had decided to follow Satan and deserved whatever they got.

This passage has opened my eyes to some things. First, back when I was in the world, I didn’t want people to look down on me with smugness or just leave me in my captivity because I was the enemy. Second, instead of viewing those still in the world as enemy spies, they are POWs. They have been captured by the enemy to do his will.

Have you ever heard of Stockholm Syndrome? It is the psychological response seen in some kidnapped victims where they become loyal to the one who has taken them hostage. On the surface, it sounds ridiculous to us. However, it is a great illustration of what has happened to those in the world. They have been taken captive by Satan and have developed a loyalty to him. They don’t need us firing our salvos at them trying to beat them down. They actually need to be set free, just like we did. 

Therefore, lets look at our friends in the world in the proper way. They are not the enemy. They are captives of the enemy. They have become dazed and confused by their captivity and they need our help. More than that they need God’s help. So let’s get the message of freedom to them.

Keep the faith and keep reading,


November 19, 2008 Posted by | Evangelism, II Timothy | , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Timothy 6-2 Timothy 1: Timothy’s Fears Comfort Me

Ancient Rendering of Paul and Timothy

Ancient Rendering of Paul and Timothy



II Timothy 1 is actually a great comfort to me. 

Perhaps I’m reading too much into it. However, in this chapter it appears to me that Timothy has been having some struggles. He has been dealing with some fears regarding doing his work as an evangelist. Paul is lifting him up and encouraging him to stay on track.

Paul lets Timothy know about how much he has prayed for Timothy. He reminds him of his legacy of faith. More than that, instead of shaming Timothy for any seeking lack of faith, Paul affirms he knows the faith really is there. Timothy just needs to rely on it. He reminds Timothy of the miraculous gift of the Spirit he has through the laying on of Paul’s hands. That is, Timothy is not alone but the Spirit is working through him therefore he does not have a spirit of fear but a Spirit of power, love and self-control. He reminds Timothy that there is no need to be ashamed of the suffering of the Lord or of Paul. This suffering is no reason to think Timothy has ended up on the wrong side. Rather, he is on the winning side and needs to join in the suffering because despite all the suffering, Jesus Christ can be trusted with what Timothy and Paul committed to Him, that is, their souls.

This gets into II Timothy 2, but Paul reminds Timothy of the grace that is in Jesus.

Of course, all this information is really good. However, what comforts me the most is knowing I’m not alone. Even a great evangelist like Timothy had times of struggle. He had times when he needed to be provoked to love and good deeds by the likes of Paul. How easy it is for me to hit moments of despair because I don’t have a 24/7/365 powerful motivation to do what is right and do my work. Sometimes I have fears and struggles with preaching the truth, talking to others about the gospel and just generally doing the work of the Lord.

Don’t misunderstand, this chapter doesn’t give me permission to wallow in that. Rather, it simply lets me know that I’m not a loser because I have struggles. Rather, I’m like every other person who works in God’s kingdom. We all need encouragement at times. We all need to be stimulated, stirred up, spurred on and provoked. I may have struggles, but those struggles don’t mean I’m lost. They just mean I’m still living on earth. 

Therefore, this passage has a twofold help for me. First, I see that Timothy went through what I go through and I don’t have to feel alone. Second, I can also read Paul’s encouragement and be provoked to love and good deeds myself.

Hope this encourages you as well.

Keep the faith and keep reading,


November 18, 2008 Posted by | Comfort, Encouragement, Evangelism, II Timothy, perseverance | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Timothy 4-5: 5 Keys to Keep Others from Despising Your Youth

emokidsI don’t know how many times I have heard people my age (for I am still a youth) and younger whine and moan with I Timothy 4:12 on their tongues. “Oh, you awful old people. You’re not supposed to despise my youth.” But these whiny fits miss the point of Paul’s statement. He was not telling Timothy to direct from on high that no one was allowed to despise him for his youth no matter how youthful he acted. Rather, he was telling Timothy what he needed to do so no one would despise his youth. In fact, he immediately provides 5 keys to keep others from despising his youth.

1) Be an example

Specifically, Paul told Timothy to set an example in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. If we don’t want folks despising our youth then we need to exemplify mature Christianity even though we are young. We need to speak in mature ways, live in mature ways, love in mature ways, believe with maturity and show mature purity. This connects with the command elsewhere to flee youthful lusts. Let’s face it. Paul’s point is if we don’t want people to despise our youth, then don’t act like a youth. 

Here is the key. If we talk rashly and carelessly, without thinking… If we behave impulsively… If we love selfishly… If we believe shallowly… And if we stain our purity with thoughtless arguments about personal liberty, then our older brethren are going to look at us and say, “Your young, you don’t understand.”

2) Give attention to reading, exhortation and teaching the Scripture.

This is a statement about personal humility. Too often, we young people are not actually focused on reading, exhorting or teaching based on the Scripture. Rather, we have a point we want to make because we think we have figured something out that no one before us ever has. Then we go searching about for a Scripture to make it fit.

If we want our older brethren to honor us despite our youth, our words and teaching must be based on Scripture not the latest self-help book or the newest scholarly treatise even if it is from a respected theologian. I know I have been one of the worst violators of this principle. I love self-help books. Certainly, we can gain some insight into scriptural ideas. However, when we teach we have to make sure what we speak is the oracles of God, not Covey, Maxwell, Blanchard or Warren.

3) Use your gifts

Based on my understanding of other texts and the passing on of miraculous gifts through laying on of apostles hands, I do not believe this passage refers to miraculous gifts of the Spirit. Rather, I think this refers to the gift of the ministry and authority that the elders who had charge over Timothy granted him because of the prophecy the Spirit had revealed to them about Timothy. The reason he had the opportunity to be an evangelist and work at Ephesus was because of this gift.

Therefore, I believe Paul’s point is not to squander the opportunity given him. The elders had put trust in him. They expected him to do good work and so they had granted him a measure of authority and ministry. In much the same way that Paul had said deacons who do their job well gain a good standing, if we young people will use the opportunities given to us by our leaders, we will also develop a good standing. Our older counterparts will not despise our youth when they recognize that we use what abilities, opportunities and resources we have been granted well. If we squander what we have now, why should they give us more?

4) Make progress through devotion

Sadly, we young people can sometimes think we have already reached the mountaintop. Oh, we pay lip service to the fact that we have room to grow. However, we have the idea that really we are pretty much as good as it gets and if everyone else no matter their age would be more like us they would be really spiritual. Paul’s statement here demonstrates that we have some real room to grow. It also demonstrates that the older folks have been through exactly what we have been through. They know what we have experienced and they have come out on the other side. They can tell when we are maturing and when we are not.

We need to devote ourselves to the keys Paul is mentioning. When we do, we will grow. We will progress. We will actually climb toward the real mountaintop and those who are already closer will actually be able to see our progress. They will, therefore, no longer despise our youth.

If, on the other hand, we continue in the mindset of our own greatness and maturity, those who really are more mature than us will be able to see our immature pride and arrogance. They will despise our youth, but they won’t be the ones sinning.

5) Watch your teaching

There is something about being young that says we need to come up with something new. The young seem to believe they only justify their existence in the body of Christ if they figure out something no one else has yet been able to realize. Granted, I realize everyone has room to grow and we may in fact have a spiritual breakthrough that is novel and true at the same time. The problem is with this mindset, we can very easily lose sight of what we really need to be teaching. We need to teach the truth that has been passed down to us from the word of God. It is not our job to find new things. It is our job to pay attention to what we are teaching and make sure it is in line with what has been passed on from Paul, the apostles and prophets of the New Testament. 

As young people, we definitely need to take care. If we have studied and believe we have figured out some truth that others have missed, we need to take great care before we go hog wild passing it on. We may not be the first to think the way we do. Some of our older brethren may have already “discovered” our new teaching and in their maturity know why it doesn’t mesh with the word of God.

Again, the point is not that we never branch off with some “new” teaching, but that we take care and watch what we teach. We are not teaching to show off our mental prowess. We are teaching to help folks glorify God and go to heaven. Let’s keep that as our goal and we won’t be enamored with introducing folks to some new teaching, approach or practice unless there is real reason to do so.

Don’t let people despise your youth. But don’t approach it as a demand to simply not despise you no matter how you act. Live in such a way that folks won’t despise you because you are acting youthful. 

Keep the faith and keep reading,


November 17, 2008 Posted by | Growth, I Timothy | , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Timothy 2-3: God Has Asked Us to Pray Not Politicize

I know this post is a day late and a dollar short regarding its timing in world events. However, I did make these comments in a little more timely fashion on my other blog. However, I can only comment as the reading gets to these points and with the election so recent, this is the point that really stood out to me in today’s reading.

Paul told Timothy: “First of all then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (I Timothy 2:1-2, ESV).

You have now read the sum total of what God asks us to do to impact national policies. I guess I struggle just a little when every four years Christians act like voting is our Christian duty to God and then act like if we don’t vote for the “right” candidate then we are putting our souls in jeopardy. Since we are at this passage, I just have to repeat that God has never asked us to spread His will politically. God has never asked us to try to get people to obey Him by voting His precepts into national law.

Now, I certainly believe we are allowed to participate in the democratic process. I certainly believe we are allowed to vote if we want. I just don’t find the Bible saying we have to vote for a specific candidate in order to make sure America is more godly on any particular issue. We certainly shouldn’t be going around acting like a person must not be a real Christian because they are voting differently than we are.

I get two things from these verses.


  1. If we truly want to impact some national policy, the thing God has asked us to do is pray.
  2. If we want to pray about the one national policy God has directed us to be concerned about at a national policy level, then we will pray that our government will allow us as individuals to have peace and the ability to serve God the way He has commanded us.


That’s it. That’s the sum total of what God has asked us to do regarding national policy. So, let’s get the politicizing out of the churches. Let’s get the politicizing out of discussions about eternal destinies. Instead, let’s pray to God that those in authority will continue to let us serve God in peace and godliness.

Keep the faith and keep reading,


November 14, 2008 Posted by | I Timothy, Politics, Prayer | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Philemon-I Timothy 1: Go the Extra Mile

No doubt we could touch on numerous things in Philemon or I Timothy 1. However, one sentence stands out to me today. I don’t have much to say about it. Only that I hope others will be able to say this about me as they look at how I work and serve.

“Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say” (Philemon 21, ESV).

Philemon obviously had a reputation of walking on the extra mile. He did so to such an extent, Paul knew Philemon would do more than what was asked. I hope we can all develop this reputation.

Keep the faith and keep reading,


November 13, 2008 Posted by | Christian Living, Philemon | , , | Leave a comment

James 4-5: Don’t Let Tomorrow Mess Up Today

James 4:13-17 is a reminder I need today.

Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’–yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (ESV).

I recognize the point of this passage is about relying on God and understanding that I cannot boast as if to say I am somehow by my own power going to ensure that I survive another year and by my own power will make sure the business I conduct is profitable. However, where this struck me today was the reminder that the reason such mental games are foolish is because I don’t even know if I’m going to be here tomorrow.

My problem is often the very opposite. Instead of thinking about how successful I’m going to be over the next year, I can get bogged down in worries. “Oh no, the economy is failing. What will that do to my income or my retirement or…” “Oh no, my kids are growing up and I know they are going to be faced with all kinds of temptations. What am I going to do about that?” 

One of the crazy “Oh nos” I have happened last night. My wife took the car to go to the store. It was raining like crazy and she lingered. Suddenly my mind was filled with fear that something bad had happened, at any moment the police were going to show up and now I was going to be a single father of four children. Actually, nothing happened to her. She showed up at home just as usual. However, this morning as I was stuck in traffic I started thinking about that scary possibility and I actually began to be filled with fear as if it were already true. How crazy is that?

The fact is, someday my wife will die. It may be before me or after me. It may be while the kids are at home; it may be after they are on their own. The thing is, it has happened today. She is at home right now doing her part of our family work. Why let all the possibilities of tomorrow over which I have no control mess up today.

You see it works both ways. I shouldn’t let my arrogance think I am going to ensure some success is going to happen apart from God’s will. At the same time, I shouldn’t let my fears about what might happen tomorrow send my today in a panic. Rather, I should just rely on God and pray “As the Lord wills.” Then, each day, I can rely on the strength He gives me to make it through whatever happens today.

Keep the faith and keep reading,


November 12, 2008 Posted by | Christian Living, Faith, James, relying on God, Surrender | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

James 2-3: Partiality, Racism and the Presidential Election

NN_27obama2There are a ton of things that catch my attention in today’s reading. But one overshadowed them all. James 2:1 says, “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory” (ESV). It then goes on to describe  a form of partiality and expresses that to be partial is to “become judges with evil thoughts” (James 2:4, ESV).

This struck me because of Barak Obama and the recent election. Let’s face it, whether we like Obama’s politics and philosophies or not (and I assure you I do not), we have to be able to see the momentous occasion his election represents. Since November 4, however, I have been seeing a disturbing trend even among Christians. For some reason many are just honing in on race. Some white people are quick to rebuke black people for being excited about finally having a black president. If a black person says anything about how glad they are that it has finally occurred, some white person somewhere is going to accuse them of being racist. Well, it is always easier to take someone else’s inventory than our own. It makes us feel better about that little bit of prejudice that still remains if we can point out how “they” are just like us or possibly even worse.

The fact is, I’m not all that smart and I have a hard time trying to be philosophical. I cannot possibly articulate what the right amount of happiness is for black folks this week. But here is what I say to all the white folks who are desperately trying to pin partiality on black people, we should be just as excited that we have reached a point where a black man can become president. This doesn’t mean racism has ended. In a practical sense, it doesn’t even really mean that any issues black people have faced in their every day lives will change. But it least it says something about our country in general. Let’s face it. There really was a reason why a black man was not elected president in the 1700s. There really was a reason why a black man was not elected president in the 1800s. There really was a reason why a black man was not elected president in the 1900s. 

Frankly, based on politics, I can find so little to rejoice about regarding this election, I say we as white people should rejoice with our black friends and brethren who see this as a momentous, earth-shattering moment that is worthy of rejoicing no matter your political persuasion. I say we work to try to understand all that it means for our fellow men and women whose skin is darker than ours. The fact is, we white people cannot possibly understand what it has been like growing up black in America. Instead of tossing the joy of our fellow man in their faces and trying to act like they are sinning for being excited about the success of someone in their race, let’s work on being impartial. The fact is, if Obama had been a man from a particular college and everyone from that college was rejoicing, we wouldn’t be blasting them. If he was simply a man from a particular town that had not ever had anyone as president before and everyone in that town was rejoicing, we wouldn’t be pitching a fit. 

Frankly, I tend to think if Obama were a conservative Republican and had won the presidency, that few of the white people who keep blasting away at our black friends for their joy would be saying anything about it. So, let’s get over ourselves. Let’s be impartial. Let’s let folks rejoice at the great meaning behind having our first black president whether those rejoicing are black, white or some other race. Let’s quit trying to put everyone in their place and show them how wrong they are for some issue of race in this election.

Instead, let’s act like Christians and simply love our brethren, love our enemies, honor and submit to the governing authorities and let’s be impartial about it.

Keep the faith and keep reading,


PS: If you would like to listen to the sermon I presented about James 3:13-18 just this past Sunday, go here.

November 11, 2008 Posted by | James, Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment