Practical Proverbial, from 1 Timothy, 25 September 2018

They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. 1 Timothy 1:7 (NIV).

I love to teach; I love to share.   It’s the reason for this blog.   Yet the minute it becomes about me, I’ve failed you.

I’m a trained teacher.   College degree (graduate degree in education, even).  Years of instructional design and development training.   Managed training shops.   Written dozens of training manuals.   Taught hundreds of people across multiple disciplines and areas.   Published author.   Followed and shared by (yes) thousands of people in person and online.

Big flippin deal.   It’s not about me.

Truth is I don’t know much.   More and more I find I have to reach out to friends or other sources for advice on what is said here.   I want to get things right, for God and for you.  Yet I make mistakes and sometimes I get it wrong.

I’d love to be a teacher of the law but, too often, I don’t know what I’m talking about or what I so confidently affirm.

Training is good but not a big deal; it’s not about me.  College is a lot of fun; I enjoyed the classes and met some great people but big deal:  it’s not about me.  Years of experience, a story for every situation, researched answers and a desire to want to teach others are all great and wonderful things.   But they aren’t everything, and if they aren’t done in love then they aren’t helpful.  It’s.  Not.  About.  Me.

Over the last week or so I’ve been convicted by some online discussions with people who argue that, above all else, Jesus is pure love.   They argue to the point of flat-out denying the other aspects of Jesus’ character like holiness, justice, and perfection in the law.   Love literally does conquer all, and above every aspect of Jesus Christ is (as the song says) the “overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God.”   Some of what they say isn’t said in love, some of it was condescending and arrogant, and some of it was crazy wrong.  Yet at the end of some very deep and sometimes confusing points, I found I agreed.   It is all about love:   Jesus’ love.   That crowds out every other true and valid point from the Scriptures.

And it’s what Paul was hinting at in this verse.   The folks, like me, who want to be teachers of the law have it all wrong if that law doesn’t point to the love of Jesus.  God’s law IS holy, yet if we make it about power, or getting the last word, or just being right, then it’s time for a gut-check.  Going forward, I pray for Jesus’ help to be a better witness for Him, to share His love better.   Because it’s not about me.

For further reading:  2 Corinthians 13:14, Ephesians 4:11, Job 38:2, 1 Timothy 1:8

Lord, teach me to better witness for You, in love

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Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 27 September 2017

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.  Hebrews 12, verses 12-13.

These verses strongly echo Isaiah 35, which says “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”   And it carries the echo of Galatians 6 which cautions men to counsel each other wisely and in Godly love, but to be wise ourselves to not be pulled into temptation.

So I’m attending a School of Discipleship and Ministry at the Calvary Chapel where we attend here in Paris.   This week’s lesson was about how to carry out the mission of the church.  In doing that, Jesus followers are encouraged, even expected, to live in ways that edify and glorify God, that are Godly and upright, and can be a good example for others.   That doesn’t mean being goody-goody or snotty:  it means ‘walking the walk and talking the talk.’   It means being honest and moral.  And that’s tough, especially in a poor town full of drug use, poverty, despair, and economic disadvantages.

Every day you live your life like that is like working out hard in the spiritual gym.   It’s like pumping serious iron of the soul.   Every time you say ‘no’ to temptation, you lift the weight, then put it down.  Every time you walk away when you could be confrontational you run the extra spiritual mile.   Every time…you get the picture.

Yet it’s true.  In order to walk a Godly walk we have to choose the best path.   We have to train ourselves up in the ways of the Word.  That requires studying Scriptures.   That requires personal prayer with God.   That requires doing things that Jesus wants us to do:   loving, listening, helping, serving, being selfless.  When all I want to do is buy a six pack and forget my many troubles, God calls me to write these words instead.  To listen to other believers, to share my story and work to serve others.   To walk away, confess my pain, accept His peace.

Man, that’s a tall order.   You better believe, then, our Savior is a tall, tall man.

During this School of Discipleship and Ministry, the pastor is talking about core beliefs of the church, about church history, about mission and vision, about leadership in the Lord.   The center of all he’s taught is Christ and only Christ.   I find that refreshing, and even though change is coming in my life I intend to keep returning to finish out the course.  I find it refreshing because so much else of the world in which I walk is focused elsewhere.   You know yours is as well.   NFL debates, same sex marriage, public corruption, celebrity wreckage, divorce, unemployment, kids having kids and kids aborting kids:   pick your poison.   In 2017 America there’s plenty to go around.   So I find my respite these weeks in going back to God, in focusing on first principles.   First of those is Jesus Christ is God who lived, died, and lives again to redeem sinners like me and you.   He did everything necessary to make that happen, and now He asks us to follow Him.   To follow requires a spiritual workout where you’ll flex muscles of the soul, sinew of the conscience, blood pumping and heart racing to new beats.

Yep:   that’s a tall order indeed.  Are you willing to stand up for the mission?   “I don’t think I can” you might be saying.   It might seem too embarrassing, too inconvenient, perhaps even too risky given the social world we live in.  But let me propose that, if you’re even thinking about it, God’s Spirit is already working within you, calling you to a new purpose, a new mission.   He’s giving you a mission He’s prepared just for you, and He’s going to ready you for it.   Put on your gym shoes, my friend.   We’re in training.

For further reading:  Isaiah 35:3-4, Proverbs 4:26, Galatians 6:1.

Lord, help me to train up more to serve You.