2 Timothy – The Relationship

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,

To Timothy, my beloved child:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.

Operation Hardwood II kicks offApart from the words beings inspired by God Himself, the letters written by Paul to Timothy can be appreciated further if we’re able to step into the relationship that they had. We can see it in part by looking at the letters themselves. Paul, in his first letter, opens with the statement, “To Timothy, my true child in faith.” In this second letter he addresses Timothy as, “My beloved child.” In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he writes:

I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.

Paul was a man of men. I’ve raved about him and his significance as a personal role model  in past blog entries, pointing to scriptural accounts of his life which was radically transformed by the Gospel. He’s been beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, lashed, caned, bit by poisonous snakes, and all the while suffering from an unknown chronic pain. And this is on top of his radical devotion to God and the Mission of advancing the gospel which he would pursue at absolutely any cost, including his life. (Philippians 1:19-21) Paul was not a mere salesman or peddler of a product, he was a sold out die hard example of Jesus’ call to a revolutionary lifestyle.

But this is not to take away glory from God, whom Paul’s strength, courage, boldness and dedication admittedly came directly from. Paul attested to the fact that he is the chief of sinners, useless in his flesh, but empowered by Christ, his death and the Holy Spirit from God. In fact, Paul would go on to say that God is seen as that much more awesome in showing patience with a person such as himself. (1 Timothy 1:16)

I say all this to frame the idea of Paul, a model of Godly manhood, having a protege. But this is more than just having Muhammad Ali as your boxing coach, or Lance Armstrong as your biking coach, because Paul is so deeply invested into Timothy on an intimate level.

As I spend the next couple of blog posts going through 2 Timothy, we need to remember that these letters aren’t written to Paul’s employees. They’re not memos being faxed over to a random peon under Paul’s authority. They are letters of great intimacy with the heart felt wisdom of a father being given to a son.

For those of us who lack a Spiritual father or someone who carries scars from years of running this race and is lovingly invested into our faith, stepping into the  position of Timothy and having Paul’s words be read to us can be extremely encouraging and challenging. As any good mentor does, Paul will lift us up and kick our butts.


Modern Psalms

A few Sundays ago I preached a sermon the Psalm 1. It acted as an introduction to the entire book, which is composed of five sections. The uniqueness of this book should not be taken lightly– where poetry and songs are used sparingly throughout the rest of the Bible, the book of Psalms dedicates all 150 chapters to “songs played to the lyre” as the name suggests.

The underlying point of the sermon emphasized that the book of Psalms is a beautiful gift given to us by God. Why? It seems interesting considering the five books of the Pentateuch, otherwise known as the Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). But understanding the contrast is key– the Law was given so that we might see the legal structure of our relationship with God and understand him on an intellectual level. The book of Psalms was given primarily as a means for us to see the internal structuring of our relationship with God and understand him on an emotional level. In essence, the book deals with emotions and how to healthily deal with them by guiding them.

Music has always had a spot in my heart because of how it draws out feelings and emotions. Music can do something that mere words on a page can’t; they jump off the page and touch a part of you that someone reciting the words in monotone can’t.

The band Thrice is the first, and quite possibly, the only “Christian” band that I’ve ever liked. They’re not sappy or cheesy. Their lyrics pour out of their hearts and their superb music connects the words to the listener without a superficial effort. I would highly recommend checking them out, as their music has delightfully helped me understand God better and could probably do the same for you.

The song below has grabbed and prodded my heart, and acted as both convicting and encouraging. I hope it does the same for you. If you want to hear the album version which is quite a bit more “unloaded” click here.

Thrice – Of Dust and Nations

the towers that shoulder your pride
the words you’ve written in stone
sand will cover them, sand will cover you
the streets that suffer your name
your very flesh and your bones
sand will cover them, sand will cover you

so put your faith in more than steel
don’t store your treasures up, with moth and rust
where thieves break in and steal
pull the fangs from out your heel
we live in but a shadow of the real

step out from time, see the dust of nations
step out from time, hear the stars ovation

Saturn will not sleep, until the sand has made us clean
still we stack our stones and bury what we can
but it all will be undone, and nothing built under the sun
will ever stand before the endless march of sand

so put your faith in more than steel
don’t store your treasures up, with moth and rust
where thieves break in and steal
pull the fangs from out your heel
we live in but a shadow of the real

so put your faith in more than steel
don’t store your treasures up, with moth and rust
where thieves break in and steal
pull the fangs from out your heel
we live in but a shadow of the real


You’re Alright Kid.

ExhaustedOne of the first things I realized as summer began was just how tired I was from the semester. If you’re a college student or have ever been one, I’m sure you know all too well the struggles of every end-of-semester work blitz. When the papers were submitted, exams were taken and the dust had settled, I took a big sigh. And it wasn’t one just of relief.

If you’re like me, you’ve sat down at your desk or on your couch and fought to open your bible. You’ve prayed that God would implant inside of you a desire to read His words. But there are times that he doesn’t. If you’re really like me, you’ve even grown into further frustration and anger when upon finishing ‘bible time’, the voice of doubt exclaims, “THAT WAS A WASTE OF TIME!”

You fight to hear and bask in the quiet but sure voice of truth that says plainly, “No, it wasn’t.”

There are hard times in this walk with God. But I’m not talking about going home to witness to an unbelieving family, or being ostracized at work for reading the bible during lunch, or dealing with the loss of your best friend, or losing your job, or being stricken with malaria the night before you have to preach. Don’t get me wrong, these are hard times and I’m sure you’re bound to run into one or two along the way.

But I’m talking about your heart, not your circumstance. There will be times, if there haven’t already, when your own brokenness makes your walk hard, not just the brokenness around you.

When Paul was in Macedonia talking to the guys in the church, there was one in particular that I can relate to right now. His name was Eutychus– he was a “young man”  listening in on one of Paul’s talks.

“Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. And… Eutychus, sitting on the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead.”
(Acts 20:7-9)

See, Eutychus is in a very similar situation. He’s tired, but his presence in the room shows that he wants to engage. Remember, him listening to Paul is pretty much the same as us reading the bible– Eutychus is just cutting out the middle man.

So, limited by his broken flesh, he just can’t stay awake. He’s tired. It’s been a long day. As he nods off he falls out of the window and everyone thinks he’s dead.

But Eutychus isn’t dead, and neither are you if you’re tired and have fallen. This is not an excuse to sin, but an encouragement that we are human and that what we have to look forward to is the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23) If you’re not tired now, if you’re not weary from fighting this battle, then you will be. And when that happens, remember that you’re in a sinful body of wretchedness that will always act as a noose as long as you’re inside of it. The point of thinking about this is two-fold: One is that it puts into perspective what Jesus has done. He conquered the desires of the flesh to sin, and to sleep, and to indulge, where we can’t. Two, it reminds us of just how much we need Jesus… that salvation is in faith in HIS work on the cross and HIS righteousness– not our own (as if we could accomplish it ourselves!).

Everyone thought Eutychus was dead. Heck, Eutychus himself probably thought he was dead. But what turned it around was this:

“But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, ‘Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.’” (Acts 20:10)

It wasn’t a scolding that revived him, it wasn’t him getting frustrated at himself, it wasn’t anything that Eutychus himself did to stand up after having fallen down. It was the embrace of Paul, as he took him into his arms and imparted the love of Christ himself to Eutychus. This is an eloquent way of saying that you need a hug from someone else who loves Jesus, and for them to tell you, “You’re alright kid. There’s life in you yet.”

Jesus does this the best himself, but sometimes he uses other people like Paul to send the message. Someone to comfort and to encourage. Someone to pick you back up and dust off your shirt. I pray that God would put someone in your life like this if there is not.

If you’re tired right now, just keep trucking, keep running. You know the drill.

You’re alright kid. There’s life in you yet.


Question: Glorifying God?

How do we glorify God in the things that we do? I put effort into things I want to glorify God in but those end up becoming idols. Then I think maybe I don’t understand what it means to glorify God.

I was asking around and seeing what questions my friends were tackling about God and their walk with him. I was excited to see this question because it is one that I’m personally trying to wrestle with myself.

There are three main themes that these questions touch upon: the Glory of God, increasing the Glory of God, and idolatry.

20100426130357_jesuscloudThe Glory of God

On my quest to put God’s Glory to words, I found that John Piper does justice with simplicity without sacrificing significance. He says that to understand God’s glory, we need to define God’s Holiness– that being God’s worth. The value of my keyboard is $50, and the value of my watch is $12. So what is the value of God?


So the Holiness of God is his infinite intrinsic worth. So how does this relate to God’s glory?

Piper says, “I believe the glory of God is the going public of his infinite worth.” His Glory is letting everything and everyone know of his Holiness.

Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare His glory and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” The Glory of God is simply the outcry and public declaration of just how valuable God is in his perfect nature of love, mercy, grace, and power.

How do we Glorify God? (In the things we do)

The heavens and the skies already point to the glory and the value of God. When someone stares up at the night sky or blinds themselves aiming their camera into a sunset, the feeling of awe usually fills them. “That is beauty,” they’ll whimper. They won’t say, “Wow, look at what I’ve done. Look at how beautiful I’ve made this.” But the believer will say, “Wow look at God! Look how glorious he is and what he can do!”

So let’s take this and apply it to ourselves. God gets glory when others see us and our lives and say, “Wow, look at God! Look how glorious he is!”


Applying this practically becomes the challenging part, with idolatry coming into play at every step. Yes, even trying to glorify God can become Idolatry– it can be elevated to be more important than God himself in our lives.

There’s a great quote in C.S. Lewis’ book The Great Divorce:

There have been men before… who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God himself… as if the good Lord had nothing to do but to exist. There have been some who were so preoccupied with spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ himself.

Could we be so preoccupied with trying to glorify God that we (ironically) forget about God himself? This is what the person means when they say that their efforts to glorify God becomes idolatry, just like other people’s efforts to spread Christianity or to prove God’s existence.

The way this creeps up is that it can also become our resumes that we rely on, when it is Christ’s death and resurrection that redeems us. We have a natural tendency to want to earn things, God’s grace being no exception. But in Luke 18:9-14 we see that walking the walk and glorifying God with the reliance on our religious resumes leaves us dead in our sin, unforgiven and unjustified.


It’s important at this point to not have a defeatist attitude, but a desperate attitude. My suggestion to the question above is simple: move the idea of glorifying God in the things that we do away from “chore” and onto “check.” Stop looking at it not as something you have to do, like mow the lawn. Look at it as something to keep in check, like whether or not your shoes are tied.

At the core of this is understanding that God doesn’t love us anymore or any less if one day we glorify Him in everything we do, or on a bad day in nothing that we do. We are saved by grace, as a gift, not by our own power or because of anything we’ve done or can do.

The problem is an unhealthy emphasis on the fruit of the tree when we should be worrying about the roots. When we take the time to maintain the plant and it’s roots, the fruit will bear naturally. Similarly, when we take the time to dig into the Word and cultivate our personal relationships with God, our lives and everything we do in it will have no other choice but to manifest God’s Glory.


Name's Sake

You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. (Luke 21:16-17)

I’ve used the phrase “bringing glory to God,” and the concept of “glorifying God.” But what does that mean? Is it biblical or is it just some Christianese mumbo jumbo that the church invented that Christians just say out of tradition and impulse?

Jesus calls Christians to a life of suffering. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Jesus is not talking about a pretty cross necklace, he’s talking about the cross which was used for thousands of years as a symbol and tool for torture and death.

But it’s not in vain– in the Gospel of Luke (above) He explains that the suffering and hatred from others is for his name’s sake. That’s right, for the sake of his name, his reputation, his image. Not for our name or our reputation or our image. Not for money or fame, not for praise of other people, not for social status or rank.

“You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.”

Is this consistent with the God of the Scriptures or is Jesus throwing a new concept at us?

It’s not new and it’s not a coincidence that he uses the same phrase to mean the same thing.

Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. (Psalm 79:9)

Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known. (Psalm 106:8)

For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off. (Isaiah 48:9)

Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. (Romans 1:5)

This seems to be a historic– man has understood that the most convincing argument that one can make to God for something being done is for the sake of God’s name and reputation.

Now this wakes up all sorts of feelings, as it should. A lot of it arises from jealousy and pride. We’re conditioned to think in the exact opposite; that it’s just purely selfish to do everything for the sake of yourself and your own reputation. While this is true for every human, it’s different with God. Here’s the main difference in why: God is perfect, and we are not.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” Man falls short and therefore doesn’t deserve constant glory, but God on the other hand. He’s pure, perfect, without blemish. To not admire Him and respect him is infinitely more offensive than spitting on a “masterpiece” of art like the Mona Lisa.

Getting over this hump that God cares about his own name’s sake more than anything else can be challenging. But not if we understand that upholding God’s stellar reputation greatly benefits us. Think of it this way:

God is our father. His reputation as a father depends on how he treats us as children. So this process of thought should bring you to questions that can be found quite comforting: Would a good father, a reputable father, leave his children high and dry when they are in distress? (No) Would he not work hard to supply them with anything and everything they need (not to be confused with what they want)? (Yes) Would a good father not bless his children with gifts? (Yes, not just materially either) Would he not support and encourage them when they need it? (Yes, he would)

Would a good father sacrifice the life of one of his sons, his best and most loved son, for the lives of the rest of his family?

Yes, he would and he did.

So, this is what it means to bring God glory. It is to make God look good and to make God seen as good. Not as though he weren’t good enough, but that his goodness is rarely in the forefront of this world. It is making it understood by all, believer and non, that God’s healing of us is more than just wanting us to get better– for this is simply a selfish view of things. It is to magnify God as the greatest and most loving Father who did, and will exist.

“So whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

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