Remembering My Creator Volume 4, Number 3, January 25, 2019 Theme: Thoughts From 1st and 2nd Timothy

In This Issue

  • “The Church and Its Members (1st Timothy Chapters 2-3)” (New King James Version) by Sarah Crawford
  • “The Church & Its Minister (1st Timothy Chapter 4)” by Hannah Clark
  • “The Practical Appeal (2nd Timothy Chapter 2)” by David Bushnaq
  • “The Personal Appeal (2nd Timothy Chapter 4)” by Sarah Crawford

“The Church and Its Members (1st Timothy Chapters 2-3)” (New King James Version)

By

Sarah Crawford

At the beginning of chapter two and end of chapter three, Paul makes an address for all the brethren on the purpose and goal of the church’s conduct.

Chapter two verses 1-4 explain God’s desire for all to be saved and the members role in making supplications, prayers, and interceding on behalf of all people so that we might live a peaceable life in godliness. Later in chapter three verses 14-16 Paul again describes that he has written all these things so that the brethren would know how to conduct themselves in the church for the glory of God. The rest of the scriptures between these two passages go into further detail on how the brethren can specifically fulfill this exhortation from Paul.

Chapter two (vs. 8-15) describes the roles men and women have within the church. It even goes into detail on what they should and should not participate in, which indicates that God has strict expectations in these specified areas. Men are instructed to “pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (vs. 8). This may only be one verse, but there are many concepts described here. Praying everywhere may involve praying in different countries, cities, homes, and can even mean in all areas of an individual’s life. Sometimes we restrict our prayers to times when we are in the comforts of our homes or gathered with brethren, but we must also take confidence in our faith to pray when we are uncomfortable or it is unpopular to do so. This could be at work, with our non-faithful families/friends, or even in an unfamiliar environment around strangers. “Lifting up holy hands” is not a common phrase we use today, but we can understand that how we present ourselves must be with holiness/godliness. This does not mean we are perfect, but rather that our hearts must be sincere in our desire to be pleasing to God. We work towards this by studying His word, embracing the love Christ demonstrated for us, and bearing our burdens with one another to encourage and edify our brethren and non-faithful peoples. “Without wrath and doubting” may seem obvious, but it can be a real struggle for many people. Paul does not say without wrath and doubting over the big problems. We have to practice humbling our hearts and trusting in God so as not to allow our hearts to become wrathful against others over anything, big or small. In my experience, it is not the big things that I have trouble handling, but it is the small things that happen over and over again that wear me down and can corrupt my heart. It may be something as simple as my brothers not replacing the toilet paper roll, but if I am not careful, my heart can become unjustly angry and I can let that anger fester in my heart to the point that I am not leading a godly lifestyle.

These instructions for the men of the church also apply for the women as Paul says in the next verse (vs. 9), “in like manner also”. The next verses on women’s apparel has been interpreted different over time, but I think it is a simple instruction on how women present themselves based on what is in their hearts. It is not wrong to wear jewelry, nice clothes, or braid our hair, UNLESS we do it with the intention of flaunting ourselves. When our hearts are focused on self-serving instead of serving God in good works and holiness, that is when it can become ungodly. Our focus, as women in the church, is not to give glory to ourselves, but to give glory to God in the work He has blessed us with. Today’s culture does not favor the next verses on a woman’s silence and submission in the church because it is often misread with emotional bias. The statements in the next verses are not meant to be offensive, but to give guidance to women on how they can please God in their roles in the church. One good explanation I have heard for women’s silence in the church is this: God calls men to step up and be leaders of His flock while He calls the women to train up the children and practice self-control and submission within the church. These two roles, for a majority of individuals, contradicts their natural inclinations. Many men in the church I have observed tend to be quieter or more conserved in their leadership approaches while many women have input on a lot of things they would like to see changed or addressed. God’s commands for men and women’s roles in the church challenge both sexes to grow in areas they may not be naturally inclined towards. Many women are not naturally good at keeping their thoughts to themselves, unless they practice and train their hearts to allow the men to be leaders. And likewise, many men might defer to their wives at times because it is easier. I know, for myself, I find it challenging to give in on a discussion if I think I have a better position, but sometimes I need to step back and let the man take control so that I can protect his heart as well as my own and that we do not create an unloving atmosphere within the church. Keeping in mind the goal Paul charges us with, to live peaceable with all men, this requires also that the world can see us living peaceably with other members too.

Chapter three discusses two potential leadership roles that the men of the church may aspire to: bishop (overseer) and deacon. Many of the qualifications for these two positions are similar with some noted exceptions; one that deacons must be tested prior to taking on the position. A deacon must also have a wife who is found blameless as he is, which is not indicated with the position for bishop. It is important to note that the word “bishop” as used in the bible is not the same as the bishops we see today in the Catholic faith. The biblical bishop is an overseer of a local congregation working with the members to care for their spiritual needs and must have good standing with the brethren and those outside the church. It is not an unbroken line of charism passed down by the laying on of hands, but rather, it is a position that any faithful man may aspire and work towards. There is no age limit, but the man must not be a novice in the faith and it states in this passage that to qualify as a bishop the man must be married to one wife and rule his house well. These qualifications are important because they automatically single out individuals who are strong in the faith and have demonstrated the ability to lead a family before guiding God’s church. Verse 13 states that these individuals gain good standing and great boldness in the faith, but it requires a great degree of responsibility on their part as they must actively seek to build and encourage the brethren so that others grow to be of service to God and the church. While it is easy to read through these chapters quickly, there is much that we can glean and apply to our personal growth and how to encourage those around us and in our local congregations.

“The Church & Its Minister (1st Timothy Chapter 4)”

By

Hannah Clark

Upon first reading this title, you may think that chapter 4 of first Timothy is in regards to the congregation and its preacher. The section headings in my Bible read “a good servant of Jesus Christ” and “take heed in your ministry” which has a more personal feeling to it. What I needed to remind myself is that this book of the Bible is a letter from Paul to Timothy which means we are essentially reading someone else’s mail. Some of the verses are particular to things happening at that time in history while other verses can easily be applied to us today. My goal in this article is to try and focus on the latter.

Paul begins this part of the letter as warning Timothy that there will be those that will leave the faith due to false doctrines (4:1) which can be seen in the world around us today due to all the varying religious teachings. To combat this, Paul tells Timothy to “exercise yourself toward godliness.” In their time, they only had the Old Testament writings and letters of what we now have in the New Testament. We are blessed to have the Bible readily at our fingertips by means of our phones or a book so that we may more easily gird with the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17).

Verse 10 states how Paul and Timothy “labor and suffer reproach” for their faith in God. This is still true today. Jesus Himself was “despised and rejected” (Isaiah 53:3) and Paul even mentions in his second letter to Timothy that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). It can be discouraging to want to try and teach others due to the backlash that we may face. In this, I am reminded of what the Lord told Samuel in the Old Testament, “for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me…” (1 Samuel 8:7).

We know Timothy is a younger teacher based on verse 12 but is told to “be an example to the believers in work, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” Many know the phrase to “talk the talk and walk the walk” and that’s true in our lives as Christians. In ministering to others, how we follow through with what we teach has a big impact on how others receive the Word of God. I’ve heard so many stories from others that want nothing to do with God, faith, and the Bible due to the hypocrisy of other “Christians.” On the flip-side, I’ve also heard accounts of those that have come to the Lord through the example of another (which leads people to ask questions and want to know more about Christ). Just because Timothy was a younger teacher didn’t make him a less effective minister to others and if we are using Christ as our guide, we won’t go astray in helping others.

Paul finishes this part of the letter (our chapter) by encouraging Timothy to continue in the doctrine they are teaching (which is of Christ). This is a lead-in to the last two chapters of this book in which Paul finishes up his letter to Timothy on how brethren should treat one another. Paul says that in continuing in the doctrine of Christ, Timothy will “save both [himself] and those who hear [him]” (4:16). None can come to salvation without Jesus Christ and our ministering to Christ through the teaching of His word will save others too. Jesus said Himself “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). It is up to us to know the gospel so that we can share it with others so that they may have a hope of eternal life in heaven.

To conclude, this section of Paul’s letter to Timothy reinforces how the older of the congregation are to teach the younger so that we all would be “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). By reading and studying the gospel, we are better prepared to ministers ourselves to Christ and teach others. We will also be better equipped to bring others to Christ not only by our words, but also by our deeds.  

“The Practical Appeal (2nd Timothy Chapter 2)”

By

David Bushnaq

2 Timothy 2 is a chapter that speaks of the future of the church. It begins with Paul telling Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Timothy is told that because Paul gives him the charge to find

those who will be teachers, which then teach others so they also can one day be teachers.

Before he can teach others, first Paul tells him the prerequisites he must follow, himself.

He must not allow himself to be entangled with the world to the detriment of his growth, rather he must – as if he was competing in a sport or race – confirm he abides by the rules of the bible so he is not

disqualified from the crown that awaits him, and all who live godly lives.

Now these concepts are not strictly for him, but for all Christians. The examples given imply that his competing isn’t private. Neither should ours be. Those not only in the congregation, but in the world around us should know that we are Christians, that we too strive for the crown.

For one to undergo such a task of finding teachers, one must be strong in the grace. Teaching others in error will almost certainly lead to them also teaching error, and congregations that allow teaching in

errors lead their members to destruction.

How does one demonstrate their strength? By having the ability to “rightly divide the word of truth”, or to accurately handle it. The word “rightly divide” in the Greek means “to cut straight” as if from a guide.

Which means he must be able to, from the guide of the bible, handle disputes or conflicts that may arise.

He must “shun profane and idle babblings” which, of course, suggests that he has the ability to discern what is or is not “idle.”

Timothy also has to demonstrate a different kind of strength as well. He has to find faithful men who also can teach others, and that means he must be able to determine he who also demonstrates a similar strength, or who can be encouraged to reach that strength.

Churches die when men, strong in the faith and knowledge of God’s word, fail to continue the work of those before them in teaching and sharing what they’ve learned. If we do not share our understanding of the bible with those of the next generation, who would? And how could we encourage a better understanding of why what the bible says is so?

There is much being taught about the bible, and just about as much of it is untrue. We may know it, but do the children of our congregations? If they’re told something that is untrue but it sounds or feels good, are they firm enough that they can refute the error?

Paul tells Timothy to search for those able to teach others, but it’s not only those in the congregation who must teach, but the parents as well. Like Timothy was taught by his mother and grandmother, parents must regularly discuss the bible with their children so when the time comes they, as the next generation, can step in. If our parents show a lack of care in the bible and the study of it, in most cases, we will too.

With all of these tools [and more] at our disposal as the next generation {and the generations after mine} there are no excuses for those who are not growing and preparing to support the church when the time comes. This is no mere theory. Godly churches remain so with this pattern. So I challenge you as parents to challenge your kids. Ask them biblical questions and if they don’t know the answers, discuss it with them. Discuss it with book chapter and verse, so when the time comes, they can do the same.

Thank you for reading.

“The Personal Appeal (2nd Timothy Chapter 4)”

By

Sarah Crawford

This chapter starts off with one of the famous sayings by Paul when he charges Timothy to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort; with complete patience and teaching” (vs. 2). These instructions are part of Paul’s farewell to Timothy as he knows that there is little time left in his earthly life. Verse 9 is where Paul begins his personal plea to Timothy, urging him to visit soon as time is drawing near for Paul’s death. In this last chapter, Paul concludes the letter with many words of parting directed to specific people. We do not know a whole lot about some of these people, but it is clear that they had significant importance in Paul’s life for him to mention them by name. Luke is the only one with Paul at this point and Paul gives Timothy instructions to bring Mark with him when he visits. This is interesting to see Paul’s change in disposition towards Mark. If we recall, John Mark was chosen by Barnabas to go on a missionary trip with them (Paul and Barnabas) and Paul refused to take Mark because he had abandoned them on a previous missionary journey. Paul was so adamant about not bringing Mark that he and Barnabas went on separate missionary trips instead of traveling together (Acts 15). Yet now we see that Paul calls Mark out by name and says “he is very useful to me”.  It is unclear what changed, but there was such a growth in Mark as a worker for God’s kingdom that Paul wishes him to visit in his last days.

Paul gives context for the location of a few people in the next verses by making simple statements as to where they currently are or have been sent. This gives us topographical placement for people while looking at the big picture. It also communicates to Timothy Paul’s current relationship with some of these individuals. For example, in case Timothy was not aware, Paul lets him know that Demas had abandoned him because of his love for the world. Paul also communicates how Timothy should respond if he comes across these people in verse 14 when he states, “the Lord will repay him for his deeds” referring to Alexander the coppersmith who had worked great harm against Paul. He goes on to defend to the people who deserted him when they faced great persecution and tells Timothy not to hold it against them. This is important for Timothy moving forward because we see Paul as a great support and brother to Timothy, but as he is soon to die, Timothy will face situations where he may not have any support from brethren. Paul strengthens him by encouraging him to find strength and courage in the Lord and be confident in the message of God.

Paul ends the letter with final greetings for Prisca, Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus and greetings to Timothy from Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, and Claudia by name. Paul also encourages the brethren in Rome to greet Prisca and Aquila (Romans 16:3). It is clear that from the multiple mentions of these two that they are very dear to Paul. Earlier in this letter, Paul blessed the household of Onesiphorus for the kindness and generosity shown to Paul regardless of his chains (2 Timothy 1). It goes on to say that Onesiphorus “searched for me earnestly and found me” while he was in Rome. Paul was being persecuted for his beliefs and those who associated with him were also in jeopardy for facing persecution, yet Onesiphorus not only stood by Paul, but sought him out amongst the persecution. This takes a great deal of love and faith in God so it makes sense that he would be one of the few people Paul wishes to send final greetings to. Paul mentions brethren who send their greetings to Timothy, in my opinion, as a way to further encourage Timothy and build his confidence that there are those who will support him once Paul is gone. Paul mentions again at the end for Timothy to come visit before winter, indicating how eager Paul is to see Timothy one more time. The last farewell is “The Lord be with your spirit”. Paul does end many of his letters with similar farewells, but this seems to target Timothy’s weakness. We see earlier Paul’s encouragement for Timothy to preach even though he is younger and not let others discourage him. As a younger brother, Timothy has worked to find a balance between teaching older brethren and still be respectful to his elders, while always serving God. It seems as if Paul is praying that the Lord strengthens Timothy’s spirit to preach as instructed at the beginning of this chapter; “in season and out of season”. This is one great take-home message for us as there are different situations where others may accept God’s word and others may assault us for speaking the truth. But as Paul says, we must “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

Becoming the Man God Wants You To Be: Volume 3, Number 3, January 18, 2019: Commitment

What is Commitment?

Commitment is defined by Merriam Webster as: “1. an agreement or pledge to do something in the future, 2. a commitment to a cause.” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/commitment). Cambridge English Dictionary says it is “a promise to give yourself, your money, your time, etc., to support or buy something” (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/commitment). The Urban Dictionary expands upon these definitions by adding, “Commitment is what transforms the promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions and the actions which speak louder than the words. It is making the time when there is none; coming through time after time after time, year after year after year. Commitment is the stuff character is made of; the power to change the face of things. It is the daily triumph of integrity over skepticism.” (https://www.urbandictionary.com/.php?term=commitment)

Under the word “commit,” the ISBE lists passages that use the Hebrew words galal, paqad, natan, and sim (Job. 5:8; Ps. 10:14; 22:8; Jer. 11:20; 20:12; Ezek. 27:24; Isa. 22:21; and Lev. 6:14). Also there are passages where the Greek words paradidomi, paratithemi, and didomi, are found (Lk. 23:46; Acts 8:3; 14:23; Rom. 6:17; 1Tim. 1:18; 2Pet. 2:4; and Rev. 20:4). Then, by way of explanation, it is stated, “In these references, “commit” is used in the sense ‘entrust.’” (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, G. W. Bromiley, General Editor, Volume One, p. 751).

Though the Bible does not contain the word “commitment,” it certainly does have a great deal to say about the concept of commitment. To convey this idea of “a promise to give yourself to support a cause,” The Bible uses words like “faithful” (Lk. 16:10-13), “doer” (Js. 1:20-25), “works” (Js. 4:14-26), “boldness” (Phil. 1:20; 1Thess. 2:2), etc. If we are to become the men that God wants us to be, we must be men of commitment.

The Heart of A Champion Foundation tells those that are enrolled in its Character Development Program, “It is challenging to be a person of commitment today because we live in a world where commitment seems to have little value. Yet, clearly, those who are committed to relationships, their jobs, and upholding a standard of honesty are those who achieve the greatest and most long-lasting success and personal fulfillment…. Your commitments are tested on a daily basis. You have been given great talents and abilities. But crossing the finish line will depend on your level of commitment. Quitting is always hardest the first time. From then on, it becomes easier and easier. Don’t quit! Be a person of commitment and GO THE DISTANCE!” (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 3)

Consider the following areas where we can demonstrate commitment and some examples Of people who have done just that  …

Commitment to What is Right

The story of Louis Zamperini is pretty unbelievable. He is perhaps most well known for being a Japanese prisoner of war survivor. But prior to his war exploits, Zamperini was known as an athlete who took up running in high school and participated for the US in the 5,000 meter race in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In 1941, he was commissioned into the United States Army Air Forces as a lieutenant. He served as a bombardier in B-24 Liberators in the Pacific. On a search and rescue mission, mechanical difficulties forced Zamperini’s plane to crash into the ocean. After drifting at sea for 47 days, he landed on the Japanese occupied Marshall Islands and was captured. He was taken to a prison camp in Japan where he was tortured. Following the war he initially struggled to overcome his ordeal. In a televised interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network in 2003, Zamperini related that after the war, he had nightmares about strangling his former captors and began drinking heavily, trying to forget his experiences as a POW. While attending one of the evangelistic crusades led by Billy Graham in Los Angeles, he was reminded of his prayers during his time on the life raft and imprisonment, and Zamperini recommitted his life to Christ. Following this, he forgave his captors, and his nightmares ceased.

Later Graham helped Zamperini launch a new career as an evangelist. One of his recurring themes was forgiveness, and he visited many of the guards from his POW days to let them know that he had forgiven them. This included an October 1950 visit to Sugamo Prison in Tokyo, where many war criminals were imprisoned, and where he expressed forgiveness to them. Zamperini told CBN that some became Christians in response. Zamperini’s life story has been captured in the biography by Laura Hillenbrand Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption and the hit movie Unbroken.

“It is said that when we forgive, it is as if we are releasing someone from a sort of ‘mental prison’ that we create for them. This is true, but it is also true that we release something within ourselves when we forgive. When unforgiveness remains in us, it simmers into bitterness, and bitterness will eat away at your soul. According to medical professionals, bitterness can cause depression and even lead to various physical maladies. But when we forgive, we release that bitterness, and in so doing, release ourselves from our own ‘emotional prison’. A commitment to do what is right means a commitment to forgive others. When you forgive, you are embodying the greatest act of love and power you can ever know. So do the right thing. Go the distance in your relationships by forgiving others.” (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 4)

Joe Ehrmann is another example of one who has a commitment to what is right. Ehrmann has developed a program called Building Men for Others, utilizing his 13-year career as a defensive lineman in the NFL and his 10-years’ experience as a volunteer high school defensive line coach. He works to tear down stereotypes that are common criteria for manhood: athletic ability, sexual conquest, and financial success. He says, “These standard, consistently set young men up for failure. It gives this concept that what we need to do as men is compare what we have and compete with others for what they have. Ultimately, as adults, we compare bank accounts and job titles, houses and cars, and we compete for the amount of security and power that those represent. We compare; we compete. That’s all we ever do. It leaves most men feeling isolated and alone. And it destroys any concept of community.”

Ehrmann offers an alternative, what he calls “strategic masculinity.” In his definition, manhood is based on two keys: relationships and having a cause beyond yourself. He “reinforces these principles through stories and lessons about being a man built for others. Serving others, empathy, inclusion and integrity are preached. A code of conduct is emphasized: accepting responsibility, leading courageously, enacting justice on behalf of others. Team rules are unorthodox: no player should allow another student to sit by himself in the lunchroom; no boy is ever cut from the team; every senior plays; coaches must always teach by building up rather than tearing down.” (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 6)

Commitment to People

Clayton Lillard is an example of one who has a commitment to people. Clayton, while still an elementary school student, had a dream of helping children. Clayton discovered he could salvage old bicycle parts to build refurbished bikes for needy children. Writes Linda Owen, “It all began in 1998 when he found two battered bikes on top of a pile of brush in his San Antonio neighborhood. The thought hit him: It would be really great to fix up those bikes and give them to kids who don’t have one….  Since that first year, “Clayton’s Backyard Crew” has repaired and donated more than 600 bikes through area churches’ Angel Tree ministries, which give Christmas presents to kids who have a parent in jail. ‘The kids think the bikes are from their incarcerated parent,’ says Clayton, now 16. ‘That’s OK with me. Just seeing the excitement on their faces as they realize ‘My Daddy loves me!’ is the best reward.’ Whenever he can, Clayton makes sure they know their Heavenly Father loves them, too; and that’s why Jesus was born. ‘This was God’s idea,’ says Clayton. ‘He just allowed me to be the instrument that he used to bring his love to the children.’” (https://www.christianitytoday.com/iyf/truelifestories/interestingpeople/25.16.html)

Clayton says this on his go fund me page, “In 1999, at the age of 10, and with the essential help of my mother, Vicki Gil, I founded a community project called Clayton’s Backyard Crew (CBC).  Originally, we received bicycle donations from around the city of San Antonio and would restore them to be delivered as Christmas gifts for children of incarcerated parents.   Over the next 14 years we were able to successfully donate over 1,200 bicycles to these at risk youth.  We’ve been on a brief hiatus (I moved out of state for college and have since settled down in Austin, TX) but we are bringing CBC back into operation for 2014!” His current status shows $1,285 raised of $7,500 goal, with no donations made in 50 months. (https://www.gofundme.com/thebackyardcrew)

“So many people say they want to help those who are needy, but few ever actually do it. All around you there are people with serious needs – physical, emotional, spiritual. But what they most need is to know that someone cares about them. That doesn’t happen because of one phone call, letter visit, or extended hand of assistance. It happens when we turn one call, one visit, one letter, or one extended hand into a series of them reflecting a longer-term commitment. People need to know someone is committed to them. This gives them hope. Spouses, children, friends, the needy – all those in your relationship circle throughout your lifetime need to know you will be there for them. Your commitment shows them that there is at least one person who will be there for them. Nothing provides them greater human comfort. Remember, a champion looks for opportunities to make the lives of those around them better. R U Committed?” (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 7)

Ruth Jones is another example of one who has a commitment to people. Jones’ work with the Henry Paideia Academy in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has earned her numerous honors, awards and accolades, as well as visits from former Michigan Governor John Engler and President George W. Bush. From 1994 to 2004 she was responsible for taking the inner-city school from the brink of closure, because of poor academic performance to a top-performing institution.

“Jones began a multi-faceted approach to change. She began to address the constant sadness and depression she saw in students. She also addressed their practical needs. It was common for many children to come to school dirty, so Jones had four washing machines and dryers installed at school. Children were now able to have clean clothes, which kept them from what Jones saw as unnecessary embarrassment. Eventually Jones instituted school uniforms for all students, which she said made an almost immediate impact. The reduced peer pressure related to clothing translated into reduced conflict.”

“The keys to her success, say her peers, are Jones’ ability to care for each student and her commitment to give her students the same quality of life as children from wealthier neighborhoods. ‘We act like just because a child is poor, they are going to be able to do without all the things our kids have and be the same as our kids and out all right,’ Jones says. ‘We so nothing, we reap nothing.’ (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 9)

Commitment to the Truth

Mack White made some very bad choices that landed him in a juvenile justice facility in Texas for three years. While incarcerated he was forced to confront some difficult truths that led him to change his heart and become a more productive citizen. With the help of Mike and Carmen Studer, who asked Mack to come and live with them, he gained confidence and came to appreciate that nothing is impossible if you are willing to face the most difficult truths about yourself. Mack’s story is woven through the movie entitled One Heart. The website says this about the story that forms the basis of the movie and of Mack White’s story that is part of the movie. “Based on the real-life events surrounding a 2008 high school football game, One Heart is the amazing story of the players and coaches from Gainesville State School and Grapevine Faith – two groups from diverse backgrounds whose paths cross to create life-changing hope and inspiration for both teams. Two Teams. Two Cultures. One Heart.

“Reminiscent of The Blind Side, Remember the Titans, Hoosiers, and Chariots of Fire, One Heart is a moving story that transcends sports, touches the heart and shows how a simple act of compassion creates a powerful and lasting impact. One Heart demonstrates the power of unconditional love to transform lives. The film is targeted to both adult and teen audiences as well as the family film audience.

“At the conclusion of the movie, the audience will have the opportunity to join the One Heart Movement and impact a forgotten population of juvenile offenders. The One Heart Project is a public charity that provides a second chance to incarcerated and at-risk youth, through service partners in communities across America, by connecting those activated by the movie.

“The One Heart movie is being produced by Eterné Films in association with Birchwood Pictures…..”

“Mack White experienced first-hand what it is like to be a part of the “cradle to the cage” pipeline. Mack was born into the circumstances and cruelty of inner city life in Houston’s toughest neighborhood only to end up in prison, a two-time felon, at the age of 16. Mack never denies his part in this tragedy, but is convinced that there are ways to keep others from making the same choices and break the cycle. Kids born into cultural depravity are making adult decisions, life altering decisions, at ages as young as 10. With that in mind, Mack is on a mission to teach every kid in America that when opportunity is rare and life’s not fair, preparation is the only way out of his or her snare. Because of Mack’s leadership for good in prison, he earned a reputation that gave him an opportunity to be mentored by a Faith Christian School family who attended the football game that launched this movie. He now lives with this family in Flower Mound and in seven short months he: has obtained his Driver’s license, has begun working, has bought a truck, is working on his GED, has become the domestic spokesperson for Touch A Life Foundation, which works to saves kids in Africa and around the world from slavery, has become a consultant on the movie One Heart. He has recently signed a contract with Kim Dawson Talent and Modeling Agency in Dallas. Mack’s Character is woven throughout movie.

“Mack is now being mentored as a public speaker by Victor Marx.”

(http://www.oneheartmovie.com/story.html)

“Truth, no matter how difficult, is worth standing for at great personal cost. But when we are presented with the truth, we must act upon it. Every truth demands our response, our action. It takes great character to uphold the truth, especially when the truth is difficult to face. BUT YOU CAN DO IT!” (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 10)

Carlos Beltran, at the age of 17, was selected in the second round of the June 1995 Free Agent Draft by the Kansas City Royals. He made his major league debut in 1998 and in his first full year in 1999, he won the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Beltran had dreamed of playing in the major leagues from the time he was 5 years old and promised his parents, “When I get to the big leagues, I am going to buy you a new home.” After the end of the 2002 season, Beltran and his wife Jessica, returned to Puerto Rico, and under the guise of buying the house for themselves, sought the parent’s guidance in selecting items for the house. During a family party on Christmas Eve, Carlos and Jessica presented the house to his parents.

Commitment to Doing Your Best

Sheila Burrell had a dream to be an Olympic gold medalist on the track. She had many of the tools that she needed to achieve her dream: athletic ability, the coaching and the desire. The only thing holding her back was a commitment to do her best.

She did make a commitment to do her best. Sheila competed in the heptathlon. The women’s outdoor heptathlon consists of the following events, with the first four contested on the first day, and the remaining three on day two:

100 meters hurdles

High jump

Shot put

200 meters

Long jump

Javelin throw

800 meters

Sheila was a two-time representative of the United States at the Summer Olympics, competing in 2000 and 2004. Her best Olympic finish was fourth place. She also competed twice at the World Championships in Athletics, which included a bronze medal in 2001. She was also a two-time silver medalist at the 1999 Pan American Games. Her personal best for the heptathlon was 6472 points and she was American national champion on four occasions.

Sheila was disappointed at many of her early performances but she was motivated by the knowledge that there were many who had better records that she beat at the Athens games in 2004. She recognizes that her performance does not define her and she still pushes herself to be the best even though she has retired as a heptahalete. She now coaches women’s track at San Diego State

Drake Hills said of her in a recent article,

“Even in moments of adversity, like the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, injury couldn’t stop Burrell from finishing. After hurting her knee and no-heighting on her first attempt in the high jump, Burrell completed each event, finishing 26th while earning the respect of opponents.

Such character and competitiveness have spilled into Burrell’s coaching career, with stops at Cal State Northridge, Kansas State and Georgetown before she arrived at San Diego State.

“In the end,” Burrell said, “the goal is always for us to finish top 25, win conference indoor and outdoor, and qualify as many athletes as possible for the NCAA finals.

“The goals are the same.”

(“Former heptathlete Burrell ‘creating success’ as SDSU track coach,” by Drake Hills, San Diego Union-Tribune, June 4, 2018 )

Fallon Taylor was blessed with both supermodel looks and world-class rodeo riding skills. During her pre-teen and teen years, she set many barrel racing records and earned more than $250,000. When she was 17, she gave up her barrel racing and moved to New York to focus on another career she had fallen in love with, modeling. But after six years of modelling, Fallon decided that she missed her barrel racing so much that she moved back to her parents’ home in Texas in 2004 to concentrate on both interests.

Fallon broke her C-2 vertebrae in her neck in a horse accident in 2009 but after recovering from that went on to other rodeo successes. She won the World Champion Barrel Race at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in 2014. In addition to barrel racing she has also been a New York model and was the Axe body spray girl, made appearances on several TV shows including Two and a Half Men and started her own clothing company – ranchdressn.com with her two best friends in 2014.

(Source: http://www.wpra.com/index.php/taylor-fallon)

“It is the ultimate dichotomy. Taylor goes from thousands of dollars a day shoots in which she wears elegant outfits and spends hours getting her hair and makeup done, to throw on jeans and cowboy boots and riding horses inside a smelly arena…. Continuing in both professions is grueling, however, Taylor wouldn’t have it any other way. She remains committed to giving her all to make the dual-career work. This once child prodigy is still young a young star on the rise making every day count.” (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 15)

CONCLUSION

Think about what it takes to demonstrate commitment to what is right, to people, to the truth, and to doing your best. How will you use these examples to motivate your own commitment? John Maxwell tells the story of Michelangelo and the extreme commitment that it took for him to complete the painting of four hundred figures and nine scenes from the book of Genesis on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Very likely we will not be asked to make a commitment of that magnitude. Maxwell says Commitment means different things to different people, “To the boxer, it’s getting off the mat one more time than you’ve been knocked down. To the marathoner, it’s running another ten miles when your strength is gone. To the soldier, it’s going over the hill, not knowing what’s waiting on the other side. To the missionary, it’s saying good-bye to your own comfort to make life better for others. To the leader, it’s all that and more because everyone you lead is depending on you.” (The 21 Indispensable Qualities of A Leader, pp. 16-18).   

Won’t you be the man that God wants you to be by showing commitment like Jesus did when He went to the cross for us?

Thanks for reading.

–Randy

The Disciplines of Life – Lesson #7: Danger, Daring, and Darkness


This is the seventh lesson in our series, The Disciplines of Life. We have studied: Solitude; Discipleship; Dependability & Determination; Discernment, Decision & Duty; and Declining Days, Deformity, & Disability thus far.

There are many disciplines that should be evident in the life of the Christian. In this lesson we want to look at the Disciplines of Danger, Daring, and Darkness. As we have been emphasizing in this series, these are called “disciplines” because they are not acquired without deliberate effort. Discipline is “Training that corrects molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 360).

Danger (Neh. 6:1-19)

Life is full of dangers: physical, social and spiritual. Nehemiah’s experience is illustrative of the discipline of danger. As we read the 6th chapter of the book of Nehemiah, we see described the dangers he faced in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

First, there was the Danger of Intrigue (vv. 1-4).  The enemy sent word to Nehemiah that they would like to meet with him. Nehemiah could only speculate as to the purpose of the meeting, but the text says that “they were planning to harm me” and therefore sent word to them, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” They repeated the request four more times.

Second, there was the Danger of Innuendo (vv. 6-9). They sought to ascribe to him false motives. They said, “It is reported among the nations, and Gashmu says, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel; therefore you are rebuilding the wall. And you are to be their king, according to these reports. You have also appointed prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning you, a king is in Judah!” Nehemiah’s response was that they were inventing these things in their own minds.

Third, there was the Danger of Intimidation (vv. 10-14). Shemaiah told Nehemiah that, ““Let us meet together inside the Temple of God and bolt the doors shut. Your enemies are coming to kill you tonight.” Nehemiah replied to him, “Should someone in my position run from danger? Should someone in my position enter the Temple to save his life? No, I won’t do it!” Nehemiah realized that God had not spoken to him at all, but rather that Shemaiah had been hired by Tobiah and Sanballat,  hoping to intimidate him and make him sin so that they could accuse and discredit him.

Finally, there was the Danger of Insinuation (vv. 17, 19). The text says, “During those fifty-two days, many letters went back and forth between Tobiah and the nobles of Judah…. They kept telling me about Tobiah’s good deeds, and then they told him everything I said. And Tobiah kept sending threatening letters to intimidate me.”  The servant of God may be assaulted by letters sent by others in an attempt to destroy his reputation. Sticking to his duty, in the midst of such a barrage of letters, may very well be the deepest of trials for this servant of God.

The application for us as Christians today is that we may be tempted to turn from our tasks to address the dangers of intrigue, innuendo, intimidation, or insinuation but our safety is in doing our duty (2:3),  putting our trust in God (6:9), standing steadfast and immovable (6:11), and serving in silence. The result for us will be as it was with Nehemiah, “…the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God” (6:15-16). “Danger feared is folly, danger faced is freedom” (Erdman, p.23)

Daring (Joshua 1:6-7)

Joshua illustrates wonderfully the Discipline of Daring. Scripture tells us that after the death of Moses the Lord spoke to Joshua, his assistant and told him “the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you— from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you” (Joshua 1:2-5)

There is no indication in Scripture that Joshua hesitated at all, but rather he promptly began giving instructions to his officers, “Go through the camp and tell the people to get their provisions ready. In three days you will cross the Jordan River and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Joshua 1:10-11)

It certainly would not have been unreasonable to expect that he would have exercised the Discipline of Deliberation – “To be sure, there is the discipline of deliberation, wherein one ponders the pathway he should take and restudies the resources he will need for any given enterprise; but there is also the discipline of daring, wherein one decided to do his duty despite every difficult and danger” (Erdman, p.25).

But to deliberate and delay unduly, when God is for us and leading us, is foolish. “Daring can mean the difference between defeat by default and the delight of duty well done” (Ibid). And so God urged him on, ““Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do” (Joshua 1:6-7).

We need that same exhortation today, “Be Strong & Very Courageous!” There are giants as there were then. Joshua had seen them (Num. 13) but he did not concur with the majority report (Num. 13:33; 14:8-9).

Consider these insightful comments by Erdman

  • “Daring sees God, not the giants, the Savior, not the cities walled up to heaven; the promises, not the impossibilities; the authority of God, not the Anakim” (Erdman, p.26). Their minority report said “Let’s go up at once and possess it … (Num. 13:33).
  • Daring often stands alone or in a hopeless minority; and learns therein one of the primary lessons of patience that lead to triumph; dread not the majority that outvotes you nor the mob that would stone you” (Num. 14:10)(Erdman, p.27). Often “…our real foes are not the fierce sons of Anak, but rather are the furtive Achans within our own camp” (Joshua 7) (Erdman, p. 27).
  • There is the Jordan, as well as the giants to hinder us as it did Joshua. The giants may represent spiritual and psychological foes that face us when we would follow God, the Jordan may well represent physical factors that render fortuitous or even foolish any thought of following Him further … There are physical factors that make impossible our obedience to the know will of God…. God had told Joshua to go over this Jordan just as it was. There is a very fine line of differentiation between fanaticism of self-will and the faith of obedience to God’s will; and happy the heart that learns that difference” (Erdman, pp. 28-29).
  • While caution considers and deliberation delays, daring obeys the explicit command of the Lord…. This is a discipline of daring: to be strong when the seeming impossibility stares one in the face; to be very courageous when obedience commands that we put our feet on the brim of certain disaster” (Erdman, pp. 29-30)
  • A life of sight calculates, considers, cautions, and cringes. Whereas a life of faith follows God implicitly” (2Cor. 1:9-10; 4:8) (Erdman, p. 30).
  • “To walk by faith is to face an unending succession of giants, Jordans, and Jerichos and to dare to conquer each one in turn” (Erdman, p. 30).

When we are considering how we should move forward, we must recognize the God’s methods may not be ours. In fact, usually they are not. Consider the methods God chose at Jericho (Josh. 6:16, 20), at Ai (Josh. 8:18, 26) and centuries later with King Jehoshaphat (2nd Chron. 20:22).

“This is the discipline of daring; to discern one’s duty, to do God’s bidding, to delight in His presence, to depend upon His promise, to discover His power as we obey His word, ‘Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do … that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest …’ (Josh. 1:7-9)” (Erdman, p. 31).

Darkness (Isa 50:10)

Finally let’s consider the Discipline of Darkness. To illustrate this discipline, we will look at the statement found in Isaiah 50: 10, “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God.” The child of God has benefit of wisdom from God’s word, and therefore need not walk in darkness. This truth is confirmed in many New Testament passages, including Col. 3:19; Eph. 5:17; Rom. 12:1-2; Acts 23:11.

But we are also told that the trial of our faith is inevitable (1Pet. 1:7). “This trial of faith provides the discipline of darkness for God’s child, that he may learn to trust his Father in the shadows as well as in the sunshine” (Erdman, p. 34)

Consider several Bible Examples. First consider Joseph. Childhood dreams taught him he would be preeminent among his brothers but his pathway led through hatred, envy, & rejection. His experience in Potiphar’s house was very much a journey through darkness as was his experience in prison. But Joseph was faithful to the mission God called him and God blessed him (Gen. 50:20).

Secondly, consider the example of Jeremiah. He was misunderstood by others, but assured by God (Jer. 15:11, 20). He went deeper into distress and difficulty. But God again assured him (Jer. 39:17, 18).

Third, consider John the Baptist. He was a burning and shining light (Jn. 5:35). But the hatred of the Herodians led him to the dungeon and death. 

Finally, consider Job. There was none like him in all the earth (Job 1:1-8; 2:3). Suddenly he was plunged into dismay, desolation, disease, and despair. Have you ever thought about the “dark night of the soul” reflected in Job’s statements in Job 3:23; 6:8-9; 9:30-31; and 13:24-25?

The darkness brings to us haunting shadows that insinuate ‘God has forgotten to be gracious,’ ‘God concerns not himself with you,’ ‘God’s will would not bring you into the shadow,’ ‘God has forsaken you because you have disobeyed Him,’ and a thousand similar subtle snares of Satan. On the contrary, the discipline of darkness can show us the wonderful truth of Isa. 50:10 …Our temptation is to give up all hope in the dark or else to kindle a fire of our own (Isa. 50:11) which will prove to be loss and sorrow. Rather we find heart and mind are stayed upon the Lord, that, ‘unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness; he is gracious and full of compassion and righteous’ (Psa. 112:4)” (Erdman, p. 37)

Conclusion

Danger, Daring, and Darkness. Those are disciplines that we may very well be called upon to engage in our lives as Christians. Are you prepared to face what life throws at you? If you “trust in the name of the Lord and rely on your God” you should be! If not, make it right today!

Thanks for reading dear friend.

-Randy

(Source: The Disciplines of Life, V. Raymond Edmond, pp. 17-38)