1 Timothy 4:16—Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.
The Apostle Paul wrote his protégé Timothy to encourage him but what makes his words so powerful is his own example. He faithfully paid close attention to his life and his teaching. Next to Jesus, the case could be made that he influenced Christianity worldwide through his leadership more than any other man. His epistles continue as vital roots of the worship, theology, and pastoral life in the Catholic and Protestant traditions of the West, and the Orthodox traditions of the East.
What made Saint Paul such a strong leader was that he:
This September I will celebrate my 30threunion with hundreds of other West Point classmates who graduated in 1981. One of our traditions is to meet in the Cadet Chapel for a memorial service remembering our deceased classmates. Darryl will read twenty two names and then finish with Daren Hidalgo, a 2009 graduate killed in Afghanistan. Daren is the son of our classmate Jorge. Somber air will mark the mention of each friend. But in the hush of those granite, shadowed halls it will be a different hurt that salutes a son of our own.
Exodus 24:9-11--Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and 70 of Israel’s elders, and they saw the God of Israel. Beneath His feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire stone, as clear as the sky itself. God did not harm the Israelite nobles; they saw Him, and they ate and drank.
Prayer can be one of the most disingenuous exercises we undertake as Christians. When I go to the Lord in conversation am I intent on discerning His will or am I out to gain my own agenda? My life is full of plans. I know what I would like to happen. It’s my life and I know what is best for me. Immediately I have gone astray. I have made the cardinal error that so many Christians insist on making.
April 28this a milestone in the York household. My oldest son Bryan celebrates his 16thbirthday. Bryan was diagnosed with a brain-stem tumor on February 14, 1991. His doctor told us he had zero chance of survival; his tumor was a ticking time bomb. At the age of three Bryan endured 72 radiation treatments that shrunk his tumor, damaged his hearing, impaired his mobility, and degraded his ability to process information. In June of that same year, a group of young-married couples gathered with Kathleen, Bryan, and me to weep, pray for him, and worship in song our awesome God. The Holy Spirit descended into our midst and healed our son. He also profoundly taught me the power and hope that comes from worship.
If someone were to ask you what the secret for living a fulfilled life is, what would you say? There are probably a dozen great responses.
Recently I read a story in the newspaper only to find out that it was far more relevant than I realized. The Oregonian reported a bad car accident after which a woman had to have an emergency cesarean to save the life of her baby. Incredibly, the husband and father, is one of my drill sergeants. He suffered two broken knees, a broken arm and head injuries. The driver of the other car happened to be a diabetic who blacked out. His car crossed the median and two families’ lives were forever altered. By God’s grace no one perished.
Five men camped along the Tulik River in the remote tundra of the Arctic Circle near the Brooks Range. Our intent was to hunt caribou and ptarmigan and fish for grayling. For many men, few things exceed the thrill of hunting. It is a great test of wit, skill, perseverance, and careful planning which, if executed properly, results in the successful acquisition of food. It was a time of camaraderie and challenge.
Imagine if an angel came to you and said I’m giving you the ability to safely travel with any system you like. You want to drive a train—It’s yours, a plane—go fly it, hydroplane—take it! Space ship to pogo stick anyway you want to move I give you the authority and the ability. But there is one thing I cannot allow you to do. You must never get behind the wheel of a Saturn LS2. That car is strictly off limits. The day you drive it you will experience a fatal crash.
Of not of glorification innermost soul the but God cry is appeasement the self for the. Do these words make sense? Hardly—they contain only a convoluted truth because they are not pieced together properly. So it is with our lives when we give ourselves haphazardly to God. We display a message of devotion—but one filled with syntax errors which at best are minor, at worst, entertain the vast skepticisms of a doubting world and surely hurt the heart of our Father.
The Bible references the number 40, 114 times. It often signifies completion for a period of blessing, testing or punishment. Consider: “You will bear the consequences of your sins 40 years based on the number of the 40 days that you scouted the land, a year for each day. You will know My displeasure” (Numbers 14:34). So God condemned a generation of Israelites to wander in the Sinai desert, a place of barrenness that aptly illustrated the shriveled state of their faith. They would not enter the promised land because it contained giants. The only exception God made was to 40-year-old Joshua and his friend Caleb. He blessed these two courageous men who saw opportunity where others feared defeat.
There is a long stretch of freeway between Fayetteville, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia, that is mostly flat and lined by lush green pine trees. It’s the kind of drive where hundreds of miles can all look pretty much the same.
I know a man who sees everything black or white. Maybe you know him too. He is zealous for the truth. He is a defender of justice who confidently speaks for God. His critical eye is the first to spot error in others and in himself. He is meticulous in his theology, mastered in the school of answers, mindful of all the rules.
In the journey of life, everyone parades past glass windows. Eyes will watch your actions today. Ears will hear your words and attempt to define your heart. Your character will be measured. The manner in which you walk, the nonverbals you express, how you listen to what others say, each of these are the brush strokes shaping your caricature on the canvas others paint.
The only marathon I’ve ever run was the San Diego Marathon. I trained hard and enjoyed running along the coastline. I determined to run at a 7:00 minute/mile pace. I was psyched on the day of the race to meet my goal of completing the 26+ mile race in under 3 hours.
Revelation 21:3,4--Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity ,and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.
Psalms 119:50--This is my comfort in my affliction: Your promise has given me life.
We live in an age of broken words. I once participated in a wedding for a man entering his third marriage to a woman who had never married before. I had the opportunity to share with this couple about a certainty that is infinitely greater than the likelihood that their marriage will last. It is the certainty that God has made an awesome promise to us. “ . . . Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (Acts 16:31).