Practical Proverbial, from 2 Timothy, 8 May 2019

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.  2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NIV).

There is beauty in commonness, simplicity.   Indeed, there are vastly more common, simple people than there are beautiful, self-anointed celebrities, athletes, or glitterati.   Not hating on them; Jesus loves celebrities, athletes, and self-anointed glitterati, too.   But they aren’t common or seemingly holy (or useful) anymore.

My wife and I took our 30th anniversary trip last week to Tennessee and then to northern Kentucky (where we honeymooned in 1989).   We struggled for years to make it to other anniversaries so we determined to mark this one with a memorable trip.  No marriage is perfect; ours hasn’t been; if you’re a long-time reader here, you know that.   But we’re common people; ordinary Americans making our country, our families, and our lives extraordinary by living faith-based lives that God gave us.   We follow Jesus.  We learn from our failures.   We make the most out of what we have.

So we took a trip to the Smokies, line-danced in Nashville (where we also toured the Grand Ole Opry, seriously one of the best tours ever anywhere), walked through the Ark Encounter, sipped our way through a bourbon distillery, and even went to the Kentucky Derby (where we placed a bet for our grand-daughter on the long-shot horse that eventually won).

Along the way we met other common people like ourselves, good ordinary folks living those extraordinary lives.   People like Steve and Paula (and Todd) at a Jimmy Buffett concert.   Or Mark and Gina at a winery near Lexington.   Austen at Maker’s Mark; Clark and Kathleen and their friends from Florida at Dolly’s (Dixie) Stampede; clerks, attendants, waiters and waitresses and people on hiking trails you greet with a nod and a smile.  All of them:   common, good people just doing their best to live godly lives and being friendly.

You know:  like Jesus is.   You know:   just plain old wood and clay tools, made ordinary and common by the Master to live extraordinary, uncommon lives in His Kingdom.   All together, we make the world go ‘round.

Don’t get me wrong:   I like silver and gold.   The few pieces of it I own are wonderful; heirlooms I enjoy and will gladly pass along to my kids and grandkids.  But, once upon a time, even silver and gold were common elements underground.   They’re extraordinary, too, and attractive.   But they aren’t common.   And they don’t make things really work.   You and I:   we’re common.   There’s a place and a purpose for each of us, celebrity or commoner alike.  That purpose is in Jesus’ work.

For further reading:  2 Corinthians 9:8, Ephesians 2:10, 2 Timothy 2:22.

Lord Jesus, thank You for using common me in Your Kingdom work.

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Practical Proverbial, from 2 Timothy, 6 May 2019

Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.  2 Timothy 2:17-18 (NIV).

My wife and I went to the Ark Encounter in Kentucky last week.   If you haven’t seen it, it’s a full-size recreation of what Noah’s Ark may have (even probably) looked like; a three-story museum of what it must have taken to create the Ark, then to tend to the animals, then to repopulate the world.   Ken Ham Ministries, which operates the museum, did a great job intertwining this story of how God saved physical life through the Ark with the account of how God saved spiritual life through the Good Friday Easter ark who is Jesus Christ.

At the end of walking through, it occurred to me that I had absorbed the message:  Jesus is the only way.   It was no surprise, but it was pleasantly shocking how much I agreed with it, how easily I identified with it.  Jesus is the antidote to false teaching.   He’s the opposite of all our sinful experiences.  Jesus as He was, is, and is to come.   Jesus as He is presented in the Bible is the only truth that matters.   In Paul’s day, the gangrenous teaching that Hymenaeus and Philetus had spread had already been overcome by Jesus and His resurrection.   All that Jesus said and taught was the highway to heaven.   Whether we receive that teaching in a tourist attraction, our neighborhood churches, online, or in person is all part of our human experience.

Duh.   Better do it while we can.

Back in Noah’s time, nobody other than his family believed that God had told Noah to build the ark because devastation was coming.   After Noah’s descendants repopulated the world, few believed that God would send His Messiah to redeem us from our sins.   In our world, even though there are over 2 billion Christians, there are also over 5.2 billion non-Christians who think our faith in God’s Son as Messiah is foolishness.   Some reject it as that.   Others, like Hymenaeus and Philetus of Paul’s day, spread false teaching about it for ungodly reasons.   Still others would have you and I suffer or die for our belief in Jesus.   Think ISIS or other radical Islamic sects; think Communists in China, Cuba, and elsewhere.  Think even about dilletantes here in the peaceful US of A.

Noah or now, some things never change.  Through it, the message of the Ark Encounter remains:   Jesus is the only ark, the only way to live through this terminal adventure called humanity.  How will you share that message today?

For further reading:  1 Timothy 1:19-20, 2 Thessalonians 2:2, 2 Timothy 2:19.

Saving Lord Jesus, You are the only ark into eternal life.  You are the only truth.  Forgive me when I’ve failed You.   Thank You for today in which to do better.   Help me to do so.