Saturday, February 27, 2010

Be Thou An Example

“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)

I once read that when Gen. George C. Marshall took command of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, GA, he found the post in a run-down condition. Rather than issue orders for specific improvements, he simply got out his own paintbrushes and lawn equipment, and went to work on his personal quarters. The other officers and men, first on his block, then throughout the post, did the same thing, and soon Fort Benning was looking good again. Gen. Marshall showed leadership by example.

The Apostle Paul was a great advocate of leadership by example, and it is reflected in his writings. First Timothy is one of three letters written by Paul to two of his associates – Timothy and Titus. The letters are called the Pastoral Letters because they are full of advice on how to pastor a church.

Timothy, who was ministering to the early Christians in Ephesus, was one of Paul’s most beloved and devoted associates. Paul’s letter provided Timothy with insightful guidelines for public worship, selection of church leaders, dealing with false teachers, and advice on being a good minister.

In this passage of Scripture, Paul gives Timothy instructions on how a young minister can operate in authority despite his youth. They are important instructions because they certainly apply to us as well. Just as Timothy was told to be an example, it is important that we as believers also heed Paul’s advice.

Paul basically was telling Timothy that it is not enough as a minister to just teach the Word of God, but a good minister must live the Word of God. In other words, “if you’re going to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk.”

Paul lists six areas that refer to various aspects of our life, and in this he presents a blueprint of how a good minister (or a good Christian) is supposed to act. So, let’s look at each of these areas.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

God’s Great Circle of Love

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another”
(1 John 4:10-11).

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! It was once a day set aside for lovers to send each other tokens of love and affection, such as flowers, candy, and gifts. However, today the tradition has expanded beyond intimate love. School children give small paper valentine cards to their classmates. Mothers send valentine cards to their children. Children give flowers to their mother. Friends send e-cards to friends. The list goes on and on.

The Bible is the great book of love. Within its pages we find many stories of people who loved greatly. Who is not moved by the passion presented in the Song of Solomon, a poem which expresses one man’s love for a woman? Some believe it represents God’s love for the Church, but I will leave that for another message.  Just know that one of the major themes of the Bible is “God Is Love.”

The Apostle John is considered by many the Disciple of Love, because many of his writings illustrate God’s love for us. John saw himself as the recipient of Christ’s love and he called for believers to love one another. He also appealed for us to refuse to love the world or the things in the world.

In his writings, John reveals the reach and rationale for love in the Christian life. In doing so he presents three ideas: 1) God first loved us; 2) because God loves us we ought then to love one another; and 3) there is a great circle of love: from God to us to others and back to God.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Be an Encourager

“Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles' feet.” (Acts 4:36-37)

A couple of weeks ago one of my readers honored me with a Best Blog award. The award did not come with a golden trophy. No fancy dinner was thrown in my honor. The event was not televised or written up in The New York Times. But to me the award was special. It meant that someone cared enough about what I have been writing about to show me some appreciation. The award came at a good time, because I needed a few words of encouragement.

I have since passed the honor on to 15 fellow bloggers, and I have found by reading their comments and blog postings that many of them were just as encouraged.

Inspirational writer William Arthur Ward once wrote, “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.”

We live in a world that has so many let downs and disappointments that it is refreshing when you receive a few words of encouragement.

The Bible records the life of one man who made it is mission to encourage others. If we could be more like this person, it would transform our homes, churches, and communities.