Give Attention to Reading

Read through the Bible with friends

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

Hebrews 5-6: If Jesus Learned, I Need to Learn

jesus01Hebrews 5:8 shocked me today. “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered” (ESV).

What?! Jesus learned? He is divine. He was God in the flesh. How could He learn anything? Didn’t He already know everything? I mean, this is the guy who knew Nathanael while he was still sitting under the fig tree (cf. John 1:48. What could He possibly learn?

I’m sure the scholars have recognized some special use of this word learn. What I can’t help but recognize is if Jesus learned obedience, I also need to learn. If God, the Son, grew in His understanding of serving the Father, who am I to think I’ve got it all figured out and down pat.

Jesus learned. I need to learn. 

That is why it is so important for each of us to …

Keep the faith and keep reading,


November 4, 2008 Posted by | Growth, Hebrews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 8-9: 5 Keys to Winning More Souls

“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel. That I may share with them in its blessings.”

I Corinthians 9:19-23 (ESV)


This passage affected me so much, I had to preach on it this week. I need to do better at getting the word out to the loss. I learned five keys from this passage to help.

1. We have to see the gospel as good news.

The word “gospel” has essentially become a specialized word for us. We see that and hear “whatever the Bible says.” However, when our first century counterparts read this letter, they didn’t see a specialized religious word. They saw the word “euaggelion” which literally meant “good message” or “good news.” What do you do with good news? You share it. If we see the gospel as merely a list of requirements and rules that limit us, we’re not likely to share it, because we don’t see it as good news. Only when we recognize the gospel is the good news to set us free from our sins, will we get the message out (cf. Romans 6:16-23).

2. We have to see lost people as lost.

Repeatedly, Paul says he was doing his work in order to “win” and “save” souls. The reason is, he saw lost people as lost. He was like a man walking in a ship of safety, casting out a life preserver because he saw the souls drowning all around him. What would happen if he was walking on the ship looking at the clouds, just chit-chatting with other boat riders and never looking over the edge at the waters? No one would be saved. When we come in contact with people, we shouldn’t just see bank tellers, check-out clerks, co-workers, family, friends, neighbors, we should see lost people drowning in the bad news of their sins. We have the good news that will save them.

3. We have to see ourselves as servants to the lost. 

In I Corinthians 9:19, Paul said he was free from all, but made himself a servant so that he might save some. Being a servant means sacrifice. It means sacrificing our desires, wants and goals in order to accomplish what the lost need. We may have to sacrifice time. We may have to sacrifice money. We may have to sacrifice recreations. We may have to sacrifice our liberties. This is what servants do.

4. We have to get out of our comfort zone.

Think about the first day that Paul went to teach Gentiles in their home and they dropped a greasy piece of pork on his plate. Do you think that was comfortable for him? What about just teaching a Gentile to begin with? Was that comfortable for a Jew raised as a separatist Pharisee? He got out of his comfort zone. We need to have a sign that says–“Comfort Zone: No Parking.”

5. We have to use all means to save others.

“All means,” that was what Paul used to try to save some. That means proclaiming the gospel to the lost is not something we do in addition to everything else we do. That means we are thinking about teaching the lost in everything we do. Little League provides contact with 10 to 15 families who may need the gospel. A trip to Wal-Mart provides countless contacts. Work is not just a place of employment. It is a place in which we can display the fruit of the spirit and pursue spiritual conversations. We need to be thinking evangelism through every part of our life. I’ll give you a practical way to get the spiritual into conversations which someone shared with me and I am starting to use it. While at a restaurant, let your waiter or waitress know you are about to pray and then ask if he/she has something for which you could pray. I tried it for the first time last week and the waiter’s girlfriend’s brother had just died. He wanted us to pray for her. Do you think that made an impact on him? I think it did.

If you would like to read or listen to the sermon I presented based on this passage, click the link below.
Winning More!
Keep the faith and keep reading,

September 22, 2008 Posted by | Evangelism, Growth, I Corinthians, Responsibility, Sacrifice, salvation, Serving, Teaching | , , , , | Leave a comment

I Peter 5-II Peter 1: Now That I’m a Christian, What Must I Do To be Saved?

For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brother affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make our calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

II Peter 1:5-11 (ESV)

I recognize we cannot earn our way into heaven. If we are saved, it will be because God is good enough; not because we are. At the same time, I recognize not just everybody will be provided with an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In fact, it seems not just everyone who has ever believed and obeyed Jesus for a time will be provided that entrance. 

Rather, those who pursue this standard of growth will gain entrance. Our growth rests on the foundation of faith, but we must add to it. We must continually work on…

  • Faith–believing in God, believing God and trusting God’s way is right.
  • Virtue–the moral excellence to do what is right because it is right.
  • Knowledge–getting God’s word into our heads and hearts.
  • Self-control–doing what is right in the face of persuasion to do otherwise.
  • Steadfastness–stringing moments of self-control together in a row, even in the face of opposition.
  • Godliness–honoring God and revering Him with every action.
  • Brotherly affection–treating our brethren with kindness, tender-heartedness and forgiveness.
  • Love–obeying God from the heart and seeking what is best for others.

There are some things I recognize from this passage:

  1. “Going to church” is not the equivalent of being a disciple.
  2. I need to work on me; I need to work on my relationship with others; I need to work on my relationship with God; I need to work on these every day.
  3. I don’t get to rest based on what I accomplished yesterday, I have to keep growing.
  4. I don’t have to be perfect today, I just need to make progress.
Keep the faith and keep reading,

September 12, 2008 Posted by | Christian Living, Faith, Growth, II Peter, perseverance, Responsibility, salvation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Peter 1-2: God’s Tests Show Me Where to Work

On Saturday, I had a heart to heart with my oldest daughter. She had to take an online quiz for a class she is taking. Her first time through, she didn’t do so well and became very upset because she knew her teacher would see it. That was when I explained to her the purpose of tests. The purpose of the test is not to do really, really well and impress the teacher. The purpose of the test is simply to see which parts of the class she has already learned and which parts she needs to study harder. Granted, I get the fact that few teachers present the tests that way, but that is how we need to look at them if they will do us any good. Otherwise, we will merely get upset about how poorly we did, not learn anything and then do even worse as the course progresses.

That is very much like what Peter says in I Peter 1:6-7:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (ESV).

God will allow our faith to be tested, but then Peter describes it as being like gold that is tested by fire. That is an interesting picture. When gold is tested by fire, it is put in a crucible and then heated past the melting point. When that occurs, the denser gold goes to the bottom of the crucible and the less dense slag and impurity rises to the top. This allows the refiner to skim the impurity off the top. This testing is not to see if the gold passes or fails. This testing is to let the impurity rise to the top so the gold can be refined.

That is exactly what testing our faith does to us. God does not test our faith to see if we pass or fail. He tests us so the impurity will rise to the top and we can work on it.

Sadly, I often do something wrong when stress is high or trouble is happening. In those moments, I often say, “That’s okay, God will understand how difficult things are for me right now.” The point of the heat, the trial, the struggle, the test is not to grant us an excuse and an exception to sin. The point of the heat is to cause the impurity to rise to the top so we can see what we need to work on. 

If somebody slanders us at work and we get caught up in the moment, allowing malice to set in our hearts and then seeking vengeance, we shouldn’t say, “Well, God understands, they did such and such to me and I couldn’t help myself.” Rather, we need to say, “Oh wow, look at this impurity that was hiding in my heart. I need to work on this.” Then we can skim it off the top. If we get home and our spouse says something accusatory and we blow up with wrath and clamoring, showing our resentment and bitterness, we shouldn’t say, “Well, God understands when my spouse acts like that I’m just going to blow my top.” Rather, we need to say, “Oh wow, look at this impurity that was hiding in my heart. I need to work on this. I need to skim this off.”

God doesn’t test us to let Him know whether our faith passes or fails. God tests us so we know where to work. Further, we don’t work on these issues to try to impress God. Let’s face it, none of our work could remotely impress the all-powerful and all-holy God. We do this because that is what the tests are all about. They are not there to give us a pass or fail grade. They are given to show us where to work because we believe God’s way works. Let’s get to work.

Keep the faith and keep reading,


September 10, 2008 Posted by | Christian Living, Growth, I Peter, perseverance, Responsibility, Testing | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mark 7-8: The Patience of Disciple Making

Mark 8:23-25 intrigues me. So, I did a little research. It says:

And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men, but they look like trees walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored and he saw everything clearly (ESV).

This two stage miracle is such a contrast to the rest of the book. Throughout Mark, I can’t help but notice how often the word “immediately” is used (“straightway” if you read the King James Version). 

In fact, my research indicates Mark uses words which can be translated “immediately” 43 times. That means almost 6.5% of the verses in the book say something happened immediately. Additionally, these words are only used 57 times in the rest of the New Testament. That means almost half of the times we find these terms used are in just this one book. Mark is a fast gospel. Everything is happening immediately. Everything is happening right away. You get a sense of urgency and speed as you read.

Then you get to Mark 8:23-25 and for a brief moment, everything comes to a screeching halt. Jesus did not heal the man immediately. He healed him in stages. It didn’t happen right away or right now, it happened over a period of time. What is up with that?

I can’t help but notice this story is told right after Jesus rebuked His disciples for slow understanding. They had seen the feeding of the five thousand and the feeding of the four thousand. However, when Jesus told them to beware the leaven of the Pharisees and Herodians, they just didn’t get it. You can hear the frustration or resignation in Jesus’ voice as Mark relates Him saying, “Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?” (Mark 8:17-18, ESV).

Then we get the story of the two stage healing. Jesus is giving an object lesson about the walk of discipleship. There is a lot of urgency and immediacy in Jesus’ work. However, He is patient. He knows making disciples out of mere men takes time. After a whole bunch of time, we still only see the plan of God the way this man saw people. He could see a faint outline, but no details. However, as we keep on walking with Jesus and keep allowing Him to clear our vision, we actually begin to see those details and get the real picture and not just some general and vague idea that leaves us still wondering about what is really going on. It will take time, but we can grow as disciples. We will struggle along the way, but we will get there.

Three Applications

1. I need to be thankful that Jesus is patient with me and my baby steps as a disciple.

2. I need to be patient with myself and keep working when I know I don’t always get it immediately.

3. I need to be patient with others when they are only making baby steps in their discipleship.

Keep the faith and keep reading,


September 3, 2008 Posted by | Growth, Healing, Jesus, Mark, Miracles, Patience | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment