Tag Archives: Timothy

2 Timothy 4 – Ear-Tickling Good

Earlier this week I was reading an article from Outreach Magazine that discussed the oft quoted idea that sometimes your greatest form of evangelism is how you live your life.  The article, found here puts forth the idea that evangelism requires words.  Personally, I agree with this idea.  I think that how we live our lives as Christians is extremely important and can open doors (or more accurately, living badly can slam doors shut) for evangelism to take place.  But at the end of the day, evangelism requires a believer who is willing to tell somebody what it is they believe.

Use Your Words Well

In this chapter, Paul is giving Timothy valuable ministry instructions.  Always be willing, at any time of the year and in any situation to preach the word.  And don’t get the visual of a pulpit here.  Neither Paul nor Timothy ever stood behind a pulpit preaching from their notes to a large number of people in pews.  Those are all constructs of the modern church.  Preaching simply meant sharing your faith and what you knew to be true about the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that others could be saved.  And what are the three main things your teaching should accomplish: correcting, rebuking, and and encouraging.  This should come as no surprise if you have read Paul’s epistles which endlessly correct, rebuke and encourage the church.  Correction applies when somebody is teaching, preaching, or believing in something other than what the Apostles (Paul included) taught about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Rebuke is when somebody begins intentionally living in sin or in opposition to God’s will.  And encouragement is what helps people doing well to keep doing well.

E. Torrini’s “Older Gentlemen Tickling the Ear of His Wife”

He cautions Timothy to avoid messages that will “tickle people’s ears.”  This is often watered down to simply mean “preachers shouldn’t just preach easy, happy sermons all the time.”  But that’s not necessarily the case.  After all, Paul dedicated his life to preaching the Gospel, that is the Good News of Jesus.  Preaching should be good and should be good news.  What he is saying is that Christians should not compromise the first two obligations mentioned above, namely correcting and rebuking, in order to not offend.  Ear-tickling-sermons are those that offer encouragement specifically to those who need correcting and rebuking.  And when ministers effectively do this, they protect the sound doctrine or healthy teachings of the church.

Other Concluding Stuff

Paul’s letter takes a dark and personal turn here.  Paul seems to realize that his time is drawing short in this section.  He makes sure that Timothy and the church know the names of several who have betrayed him and abandoned him.  If Alexander was causing problems for Timothy, this letter would have helped Timothy to reestablish some authority and position over Alexander in the church.

As always, Paul throws in a few greetings at the end.  Luke is still with him and was with him throughout much of his imprisonment.  I think that Paul likely contributed heavily to Luke’s writings, especially providing his own account of the events in Acts during this time.  Paul mentions Erastus, who stayed in Corinth.  I have seen the Erastus Stone in Corinth, which many believe to have indicated that this same Erastus possibly donated a street as a citizen funded civic project and as such had his name engraved on it.  It can still be seen today.  Pretty cool stuff.  


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Posted by on November 20, 2012 in 2 Timothy, Pauline Epistles


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2 Timothy 2 – Focus, Focus, Focus

Focus on Jesus

A good soldier is focused on his officer’s commands and doesn’t get distracted by civilian affairs.  An athlete plays by the rules and does not stray from them.  The farmer should benefit from the harvest.  These three professions are all require hard work and extreme focus.  If you get distracted from your purpose then you will fail.  Paul tells Timothy that he must be like these examples and remain firmly focused.  On what?  On Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.  Timothy must remain focused on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not allow himself to become distracted by insignificant arguments, whether they relate to the church or are of the world.  He must keep the main thing the main thing.

Don’t Get Distracted

Paul then instructs Timothy to remove distractions from the people.  Don’t let them get caught up arguing about words.  There are more important things to focus on.  Don’t let the people get caught up in godless chatter and just drumming up things to bicker about.  There are more important things to focus on. Don’t let wicked morons like Hymenaeus and Philetus cause division and spread false teachings.  Don’t get distracted by youthful desires, but pursue the virtues of the faith.  Don’t sweat the petty things, but focus on what matters.  Be gentle with those who disagree with you.

Are you noticing a pattern.  I am not sure how many ways Paul can say that Christians, especially leaders like Timothy, should stay focused and avoid distractions to the Gospel and the work of the Kingdom.  The question for you and me today is what things distract us from the Gospel and how can we become more focused?

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Posted by on November 15, 2012 in 2 Timothy, Pauline Epistles


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1 Timothy 6 – Good Slaves

Some of the problematic texts in the New Testament are those that seem to condone the use of slavery.  This passage happens to be one of those.  To our modern American sensibilities this is horrific.  How could the early church sanction the practice of slavery in any way?

Well, there’s a few things that we need to understand about slavery in Israel, and I think one of the ways to understand it is to look at modern constructs of slavery in America.  For example,  I am personally enslaved to Quicken Loans, Visa, and the IRS.  My masters allow me to choose where and how I work so long as I give them what I owe them at the time intervals they establish.  Currently, they collectively allow me to keep half of what I earn while they get the rest.  If I don’t do what they require they will limit my future spending options (credit score), garnish my wages, take my home away, or maybe even throw me in jail. Granted, I allowed myself to become their slave in exchange for their paying my debts up front and I can buy my freedom anytime at a prearranged price.  This is similar in many ways to the early American practice of having indentured servants, where American landowners would pay for a European person’s passage to America in exchange for 7 years service.  In these ways, selective “slavery” can be a functional tool.

I do think though that Israelite slavery often functioned more like this than the cruel and violent slavery America practiced for centuries.  Israelites could sell themselves into slavery (like I did with my mortgage) and then buy their freedom eventually (like I hope to with my mortgage).  Admittedly there are examples in scripture where conquered nations were forced to be slaves or masters were cruel and there are no good excuses for this.

Unfortunately, the horrible evil of slavery that is part of America’s past and continues to have echoes into our present, causes us to read many passages of Scripture in this vein.  When you study God’s instructions on slaves and masters in the law and Paul’s teachings on slavery in the New Testament, I think it looks more like the indentured servant practice seen in Colonial America.  I don’t believe that anything in the Bible ever condoned or sanctioned the slave trade that treated humans like animals.

In 1 Timothy 2, Paul teaches that the early Christians should pray for their leaders.  Well, at this point their leader was the Roman Emperor Nero, who burned Christians as human torches.  Certainly he wasn’t sanctioning Nero’s actions, but rather telling Christians to live as well as they can within whatever context they find themselves.  If you are under a cruel dictator, pray for him and be good citizens so he will leave you alone and you can do the work of the Kingdom of God.  If you are a slave, be a good servant to your master so that it will reflect well on you and the one you truly serve, that is Jesus.

Certainly there are other good and valuable teachings in 1 Timothy 6 and I encourage you to make sure you read it all yourself, but I did want to take some time to deal with this difficult and uncomfortable topic.

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Posted by on November 13, 2012 in 1 Timothy, Pauline Epistles


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1 Timothy 4 – Christian Leader Test

Paul is giving Timothy some oft quoted advice in this passage.  It’s used all the time in youth ministries and devotionals and the such because it says “young.”  However, the only reason Paul addresses Timothy’s youth is to point out that some people might not naturally look to him as a leader so he needs to be sure to be a good example.  In other words, Paul would have given this advice to anybody seeking to be a leader in the church.  If you want to be a good Bible class teacher, deacon, parent, witness for Christ or any other important leader in the church then you should strive to be an example in these ways.

Be an example in speech, life, love, faith, and purity.  When you set an example in these areas people will open themselves to be influenced by you and be more open to your presentation of the Gospel.

So here is the test.  I would encourage you to give yourself a grade on the following areas.  If you are currently a Christian leader, you need to strongly consider these criteria since Paul says they will determine whether or not you will be an effective leader in the church.  If you aspire to be a leader in the church then the best way to start is by improving your example in these areas.

1.  Speech – Do you use profanity or God’s name in vain?  Are you honest?  Do you say what you mean and mean what you say?  Are you an encouragement to others?  Do you speak about your faith or relationship with God before others?  Do you talk badly about others when they aren’t around?  Do you gossip?

2.  Life – How does your life reflect your priorities?  Do you choose work over family or church?  Do you value possessions over giving to God or others?  Are you kind?  Do you go out of your way to serve others?  Do people enjoy spending time with you?  Where do you spend your time?

3.  Love – Do you only love those who love you?  Do you forgive easily?  Do you show kindness to family and strangers?  Do you give good gifts?  Do you contribute to your relationships as much or more as you get out of them?  Are you there for people you care about during tough times?  Do you make sacrifices for others?

4.  Faith – How do you deal with difficult times?  Is prayer just something you do or part of a serious relationship with God?  Are you growing in your faith through spiritual disciplines?  Are you an active part of a faith community/church?  Do you share your faith with others?  Do you have a spiritual mentor?  Are you a spiritual mentor to somebody else?

5.  Purity – In your relationships with others, do you have good motives?  Do you struggle with lust or pornography?  Do you flirt with people other than your spouse?  Do you dress to get the attention of the opposite sex?  Do you make coarse jokes?  Are you genuine in your relationships with others?  Are there things in your life you would be embarrassed to tell your mom?  Your spouse?  Your Bible class teacher?

So my advice is to take the section that you got the lowest grade on and really work on improving that aspect of your life as a Christian example to others.  Pray about it and then do something.

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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in 1 Timothy, Pauline Epistles


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1 Corinthians 16 – “It Goes Without Saying”

“Of course, it goes without saying that…”  It’s a slightly ironic and completely self-contradicting statement.  If it doesn’t require saying, then why say it?  This is an idiom that is often used in conversation to imply that the statement to follow is so completely obvious that it shouldn’t have to be asked, but for some reason does.  That reason is most often, that somebody lacks confidence in either themselves or others that requires the obvious to be clearly stated.  This could be the title for 1 Corinthians 16.  On several matters, Paul must state the obvious because he is lacking in confidence in his own relationships or assumptions about the Corinthians, or he is worried that they will fall short.

So when it comes to taking up a collection for the Lord’s people upon his arrival, Paul wants to make sure that they are already setting money aside every week for the purpose of giving to those in need.  Around this time there was a serious famine in Israel and it is likely that Paul is travelling through the Greek churches collecting donations to help those who are struggling.  It certainly doesn’t hurt Gentile/Jewish relations in the church to have the Gentile churches giving to the Jewish Christians in need.  So Paul writes, it goes without saying, that you should already be setting aside some money for the Lord’s people.  This was most likely in addition to the money already being given to the Lord for the work of the church, care of its own needy, and other gifts to God.

Then Paul moves on to discuss the level of hospitality and cooperation that he expects them to show to Timothy and Apollos.  Essentially, “It goes without saying that you will treat my co-workers well and give them the help, resources and support that a preacher of the Gospel deserves.”  Paul’s statements also serve as a letter of commendation and introduction to those individuals.  Certainly, they will be treated well.  After all…it goes without saying, Corinth will do the right thing.

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Posted by on August 23, 2012 in 1 Corinthians, Pauline Epistles


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Olympic Appeal

Every two years (Winter or Summer) I find myself completely hypnotized by the Olympics.  That’s not completely shocking since I am a huge sports fan in general, but the Olympics offer something that nothing else really does.  When you are watching a swimmer, runner or gymnast, you know that they and their family have made huge sacrifices throughout their entire life for these two minutes.  What they ate, where they lived, how hard they worked, what schools they went attended, how much time was spent with friends, countless hours of hard work and all the money their parents spent along the way…it all comes down to these few moments.  And whether they come up a tenth of a second short of a medal or become a national gold medal hero will change their life and in many cases determine the worthiness of all they’ve done.  That kind of intense drama is gripping.  When it’s good it’s amazing.  When it’s bad, it’s gut-wrenching.  This single moment determines whether they slip back into anonymity or if they will arrive home with their name on the water tower.  

To some extent, this is similar to our lives as Christians.  We give money to God and to others.  We give our time to ministries and church.  We develop spiritual disciplines like prayer, Bible reading, and worship.  We do our best to be the men and women that God has called us to be.  Paul uses the imagery of a race in several places. In 1 Corinthians 9 he says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

How many Olympians do you think have looked back on their lives and regretted the emphasis they placed on their athletic careers?  My guess is that a few have.  But how many gold medal winning Olympians regret their sacrifices?  My guess is not many or none.  We have the fortune of knowing that because of the sacrifice Jesus made, that we who are on his team are guaranteed a win.  You can’t be on Jesus’ team and get anything but gold.  So if you know that you will someday look back on this life through the eyes of a gold medal winner, then commit.  Make the sacrifices, develop discipline and chase the goal.  Make sure that at the end of your life you can say what Paul said in 2 Timothy 4, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  There’s no question at the end of Paul’s life that he left it all on the field.  He gave his all.  Have you?

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Posted by on August 10, 2012 in Hot Topics, Pauline Epistles


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LTC and Inter-generational Ministry

Welcome to our first hot topic where Ryan or I get to pick a random topic on Friday that will hopefully be an encouragement or challenge to your faith journey.

Throughout Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus are instructions that include this idea that churches should involve families ministering to one another.  The older men and women should be examples and teachers of the younger men and women.  Children should show respect to their elders (meaning people in older generations than their own).  To some extent the modern church has departed from this.

I once heard a parent of a teen tell a youth minister, “I need you to spend more time with my child because somebody has to teach them about God.  I mean, who are they supposed to learn from, their parents?  Kids don’t listen to their parents.”  I was so sad that night.  This parent was passionately giving up their God given right and calling to be the spiritual leader and example to their child.  Don’t get me wrong, I like youth ministers and think they are valuable.  In our world parents need all the help and support they can get and to some extent that’s what this parent was saying, but the church (or a youth minister) is only a poor substitute for faithful parents who teach and demonstrate Christian living and values to their children.

I bring this up today because this afternoon our kids and teens will be going to LTC. in Rogers, Arkansas and I believe that LTC (Leadership Training for Christ) is probably our best resource for accomplishing intergenerational ministry in the church.  Rather than sending everybody to their age appropriate classrooms and ministries, LTC gets parents and other older members of the church teaching and discipling kids and teens in different ministries, but even more than that, it creates opportunities for relationship that few other ministries provide.  As somebody that grew up in this church, some of the older members I am closest to today were my puppet, chorus and drama teachers from decades ago.

The challenge for us as Christians and as a church is to take the structured benefits of LTC and turn them into daily practices.  How do we continue to get more older members involved with more kids and teens?  How do we make sure that we are a family and not a departmentalized Christian school?  How do we make sure that each generation continues to pass their faith to the next?  It’s a big question with lots of little answers.  And maybe one of those little answers is you spending a little bit of time making a difference in one kid’s life this week.  And for some of you, that will happen in Rogers, Arkansas at LTC.


Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Hot Topics


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