Paul placed just a smidge of emphasis on this next charge to Timothy. What we’re called to do as Christians and ministers carries the weight of command from God Himself, including the Father and Son, Jesus (written here) and the Holy Spirit who is implied and directly included elsewhere. Jesus will judge all people. He will judge me as a person and as a minister. I answer to Him ultimately, not people, but how I interact with them matters to Him and He places some in authority over me. It carries the weight and authority of the returning King. Eternity matters more than the present, and I, all of us, need to be reminded of that constantly. It’s far too easy and common to get caught up in the present and think about temporal, even immediate needs, rather than eternity. We store up treasures here rather than there. We work for approval now rather than then. The reality is, though, that working for eternity is what actually brings joy now. God, may the Holy Spirit constantly remind me and well up in me a desire for eternal things, the supernatural ability to see beyond the physical present and into the seen and unseen spiritual war being waged all around me now and the reality and gravity and importance of eternity to come! I get focused on and frustrated with present circumstances. Fussy, disobedient kids grind on my nerves…adults, too. I can get caught up thinking about early retirement and the easy, more comfortable life, but all of that is fleeting. The only way any of that does any real good is if I use it for Kingdom purposes. Perhaps God really has blessed us in such a way that we’re more set up for church planting or missions or pastoring that would normally be bi-vocational. That’s an interesting thought. Money matters too much to me. Human approval does, too. God, align my heart with Yours!
I was just thinking back to my teenage years last night and really can’t remember much about what we were taught from Scripture. I know we had Bible studies and Sunday School classes, but I don’t remember what was covered. I remember people. I remember Bible stories. Our Scripture reading in Galatians last night brought it up. I really remember the impact that book had on me in college. My faith became more about faith and trusting Jesus than about how I acted. And with that my actions transformed in a whole new way. It’s the gospel, and not just an evangelistic tract or message. It tells me how the gospel continues to work throughout my life. Maybe I’d heard it before and just never paid attention or didn’t let it sink in. The gospel is precious and sweet and transformative. It’s found in Scripture. Timothy was rooted in it from infancy and Paul urged him simply to continue. His mother and grandmother taught him truth from the Hebrew Scripture. My parents taught me from the whole of Scripture. I was saved during a family devotional time. I have the luxury of the New Testament. Timothy lived during it’s formation and had direct apostolic teaching from Paul. Scripture is crucial to the godly life, to become more like Jesus. It’s all inspired by God, driven by Him through men’s hands and yet with their own style as part of it. With God’s Divine inspiration, there is no error, so we can fully trust His Word. And so, it is useful for teaching and instructing people, rebuking and correcting sin and wrong belief, and leading to life transformation to living more righteously. To the extent we’re connected to and following Scripture, we are fully equipped for what God has in store for us, for every good work for which He created us. We do not lack. If I am to plant a church, I do not lack. If I am to get back into senior leadership at an established church, I do not lack. If I am to take another kind of ministry role, I have what I need. If I am to go into the regular business world somehow, I am fully equipped to do it all for the glory of God because I have God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to guide me. I am even more richly blessed ot have constant access to a myriad of wonderful churches and Christian brothers and sisters to help me along. Thank You, God! Help me to remain connected to Your truth!
It’s been a few days since I last wrote in the journal. We travelled up to Cincinnati and have kept pretty busy with family and meetings investigating church planting. The idea has really grown on both of us. That’s not to say it isn’t scary because it’s so different than having something steady with an established church or similar position, but the excitement really is overtaking the concerns. I’m not sure what the Lord has for us. The connections have been very interesting in this very fresh process. It’s seeming more feasible. I’m open the whatever God has in store, but right now this seems like the most intriguing option. It’s not lost on me that it’s the most recent thing I’ve looked into intensely, so it’s more prevalent on my mind. But in the midst of that intriguing development, on my birthday, we found out my sister likely won’t survive much past Christmas. I already lost my younger sister in 2011. This doesn’t seem right. I know people used to expect to lose multiple children, but it hasn’t been that way in my lifetime and culture. She doesn’t want to talk about it, and that makes things a little tougher on everyone else. It might make it harder on her, too, but I don’t know. I don’t remember what I was doing when Howard told Mom and Judith the news, but Judith told me as soon as we got a moment alone. I finally thought I was going to cry but the tears didn’t fully make their way out. I feel like what I really need right now after this difficult time of life, actually in the middle of it, is a good, long cry, but the tears just won’t come. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s too much stress or emotion all flooding together so it gets jammed up. Not everything is bad. Despite some difficulty to get to this point, looking toward the future of my career and calling is kind of exciting. But it’s a hard time for our family facing another loss. We’re pulling together, and that’s good. There are plenty of good times, but there is a constant heaviness still. I really want to be able to talk to my sister while she still can. She seems to be losing that ability steadily. I want to express my love and care for her and share some really good, deep times with her, but I also don’t want to force her into greater sorrow. I want to encourage her but it’s hard to know how. We’ll just do all we can to enjoy one another and just be together. 2 Timothy 3:1 And then Paul writes to Timothy that difficult times will come in the last days. But there have always been difficult times. Depending on one’s perspective it’s the times of the early church that seem more difficult. But there are more distractions and opportunity for sin and despair in an ever more divided world. People always seem to think we’re in the last days but the world continues on. Maybe that’s the case now, that there is still a lot of time, from our perspective, or maybe we really are close to the end. I’m for it. Just in our immediate circles it seems like we’re hearing about more and more sickness, disaster, death, and dismay. The attacks seem more frequent and heavy. Maybe it’s just my age. Paul describes today pretty well to Timothy. We are selfish, arrogant, and perhaps more adept at blasphemy than any generation before. Social media has amplified each, especially boasting. We worship children to the extent disobedience is taken nowhere near as seriously as it used to be. Discipline is increasingly limited. So much of the world has gained so much more affluence or at least access to new technologies that those things have become like rights for everyone. We constantly hear about some new right everyone has. So we’re more ungrateful than ever. It’s like we take everything for granted and don’t pause to be thankful for what we have. We’re entitled. Holiness is shunned, treated as wrong. People are growing more heartless and that sums up this list pretty well. We are quick to judge and never forgive. Twitter is like a platform for slander. If it feels good, go for it. Whatever you feel like you want to be has to be accepted, so yeah, self-control has gone out the window and to suggest it is necessary for anything other than keeping yourself from speaking out against obvious sin is the only sin anymore. The world hate righteousness. We love sin. We find pleasure in whatever is enticing at the moment and celebrate it. Sin city? And it is all just getting worse. Lord Jesus, come. Lord, reveal any of those ways or other You find offensive in me. Break my heart over them and change me and help me to graciously lead others in the same!