Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Notes to the Lord:On Being and Not Just Saying

2 Timothy 1

3Night and day I mention you in my prayers. I am always grateful for you, as I pray to the God my ancestors and I have served with a clear conscience.

Lord Jesus--It does sound like Paul prayed as he walked either on a Roman road or in a Roman jail. It almost seems as if the cadence of this foot falls are the cadence of his letter to his student in the faith Timothy. He ran through in his mind and heart the strengths and weakness of this young man. He remembered the close bond that they had, and missed him

4I remember how you cried, and I want to see you, because that will make me truly happy. 5I also remember the genuine faith of your mother Eunice. Your grandmother Lois had the same sort of faith, and I am sure that you have it as well.

Lord Jesus--Timothy must have been a bit different than Paul...Paul the writer, the cognitive one, the one who was the practical thinking on his feet theologian. Timothy more emotional, a bit less rugged and durable.

Timothy also came from a family of faith that knew how to put shoe leather and sweat into their faith. I wonder where Paul met Eunice and Lois. Did they met at the local Jewish deli in Lystra? We will never know this side of the pearly gates, but Paul had seen them in action. He knew that they were people of mental and physical stamina. They were people who had metal in their faith. In his own way he was telling Timothy to “man up.” Use everything that God has given you hold nothing in reserve.

I need to hear that message from time to time...”stop the whining, Kurt...will you just do it and let it be?” “Less with the jaws and more with the paws”...”walk the talk, silly man.” Or another way, that faith is in you...you saw it lived out in your parents and grandparents time, now live it in the challenges that face you during the time that you have been put on earth.

6So I ask you to make full use of the gift that God gave you when I placed my hands on you. Use it well. 7God's Spirit doesn't make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control.

Lord Jesus--I wish that Paul had told us what gifts that Timothy had. One could wonder, was he a prophet? A teacher? Evangelist? Was he a healer? What ever the gifts, they were clearly demonstrated when Paul had placed hands on him. The gifts were just that gifts, but the expression of them also where given by the Spirit evidenced in power, love, and self control.

8Don't be ashamed to speak for our Lord. And don't be ashamed of me, just because I am in jail for serving him. Use the power that comes from God and join with me in suffering for telling the good news.

Was it in a prison transport that Paul was writing to Timothy? Or was he writing from Rome, it is clear that Paul does not expect to be released. He has seen people close to him leave him...maybe that is what reminds him of Timothy. It was time to quietly yet clearly stand ground in the face of the enemy.

Lord Jesus--In this day let there be metal in my faith...let there be power, love and self-control expressed.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Notes to the Lord:Thoughts Along the Road

2 Timothy 1

1From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus.

God himself chose me to be an apostle, and he gave me the promised life that Jesus Christ makes possible.

Lord Jesus--You have made possible a promised life and place to serve. It is by your direction that Paul found his place. Paul is not unique he was given a job to do that you made possible. The is the same dependence that I have on you for leadership on the journey of faith.

2Timothy, you are like a dear child to me. I pray that God our Father and our Lord Christ Jesus will be kind and merciful to you and will bless you with peace!

I am wondering how Paul felt as he walked down the road toward the next town, excitement mixed with what else? Did Paul ever worry? I wonder if he translated those feelings and thoughts into prayers? Was he thinking about Timothy and that just naturally translated that into a prayer and a letter?

A prayer for mercy, kindness, blessing and peace all needed in the church
life that he had encouraged Timothy to venture into. Did he start those thoughts as he walked along some stretch of Roman road somewhere?

So where am I along the road?

My thoughts and prayers focus on being faithful in the next foot fall...the day that waits just a couple of hours from
now what will it bring? Let this day be a day that starts with a prayer for mercy, kindness, blessing and peace.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Notes the Lord:On Stuff That Real Foundations Are Made Of..

1 Timothy 6
17Warn the rich people of this world not to be proud or to trust in wealth that is easily lost. Tell them to have faith in God, who is rich and blesses us with everything we need to enjoy life.
Lord Jesus--Paul the tent maker, evangelist, pastor, teacher, missionary protagonist for the faith reminds me that everything comes from your hand. Stuff comes and stuff goes sometimes in ways that we do not expect...tornadoes come, floods and such...Things that seem so important float, fly or burn away.

The leaving and the loss can be traumatic. One minute I could be playing the hero part and the next the zero part, but that does not change where the blessings came from in the first place. Teach me again the part that reminds me that all of the situations in life are superintended by your hand and meant to bring me to heaven’s gate heart intact...by your scandalous grace. Lord Jesus, might I just add that the hero part is much easier to play than the zero part?

Paul is really pointing me to gratitude and contentment with what comes from your hand. He was able to rest secure that the next job...the next tent to cut out, sew and stitch together was going to come even if he did not know who, where, or how...God would bless with what was needed at the moment it was needed. The implication is that what I have right now from your hand Lord, is really all that i need to enjoy life...but, but, but...yes, I know...that is the faith part.
18Instruct them to do as many good deeds as they can and to help everyone. Remind the rich to be generous and share what they have. 19This will lay a solid foundation for the future, so that they will know what true life is like.
Lord Jesus--Here it is right? The real point is I need to hold lightly everything that you send...who knows it might not be intended for me in the first place. Maybe I am the channel though which the blessing needs to flow to the person who it was really intended. The foundation for a life lived with grace at the center is one that sees blessings given as the means with which to bless those who you bring into my life.

Lord Jesus help me to hold everything lightly while building a foundation for a life whose real treasures are kept safe in a place secure for me just beyond heaven gates.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Notes to the Lord:Until We Meet Face to Face

I Timothy 6

15 The glorious God is the only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Lord Jesus--This is really a prayer that Paul is praying to you with Timothy really just overhearing in letter form. I need to remember who is in control. I am not you are...simple as that. I can trust that whatever happens you have my best in mind. I need not fear or freak out. You are the Master I am the servant at your call.

At the time that God has already decided,he will send Jesus Christ back again.

Lord Jesus--You didn’t return on last Saturday... I am still here and there are promises to keep in the time until you do come. Promises made before you and the Father, vows that need keeping. The moments of promises made are in my memory right now...times when the reality of your presence was so real that there could never be doubt again about your existence or love.

So why is it that those times sometimes seem so far from where I am now? Is it that sometimes just like a parent teaching their child to walk you have to let me out of your arms? If I am ever going to go hiking on this journey of faith, then walking needs to become running. Faith legs have to get their exercise and muscles have be encouraged to grow.

16Only God lives forever! And he lives in light that no one can come near. No human has ever seen God or ever can see him. God will be honored, and his power will last forever. Amen.

Lord Jesus--Praise is really what I was made for. Now is the time that is takes faith to praise you. When I am in the dark times and when there aren't always the feelings that I can hang on it, it does not mean the light is gone. You have not somehow moved out of my zip code. It is then that praise does me the most good. Praise becomes a statement of faith in the dark. That is exactly when your power is most able to work, when all I can do is praise. So until you do come out of the eastern sky I will praise you.

Notes to the Lord: Until We Meet Face To Face

1 Timothy 6

11Timothy, you belong to God, so keep away from all these evil things. Try your best to please God and to be like him. Be faithful, loving, dependable, and gentle. 12Fight a good fight for the faith and claim eternal life. God offered it to you when you clearly told about your faith, while so many people listened.

Lord Jesus--Fighting the good fight for the faith does not have to be trench warfare of the soul with fox wholes and barbwire. The fight has nothing to do with what seem to be the forces arrayed against your people. It is not about the Muslim extremist or terrorist on either side...they are just responses to hopelessness. So often we miss the real battle because of all the noise around us.

The real battle is the one unseen except in rare moments of clarity...the battle to live out grace, hope, gentleness and kindness in the middle of a twisted world marred by sin. I can not hope to do it without your grace and peace working inside me...changing me from the inside out.

Then there is this line that I love...”God offered it to you when you clearly told about your faith, while so many people listened.” How many years ago had Timothy and Paul been in that church gathering where Timothy had received validation and anointing for service, yet Paul still remembered.

There are some things that need to be remembered and then lived out over a life time. Those God moments form a chain in my heart...a chain of moments and experiences that tether me to you. Lord Jesus, the memory of those times keep me grounded in a time when there is so little that doesn’t change. Your word and you work are consistent and constant...until we meet face to face.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Notes to the Lord :More than Words

1 Timothy 6

3Anyone who teaches something different disagrees with the correct and godly teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. 4Those people who disagree are proud of themselves, but they don't really know a thing. Their minds are sick, and they like to argue over words. They cause jealousy, disagreements, unkind words, evil suspicions, 5and nasty quarrels. They have wicked minds and have missed out on the truth.

Lord Jesus--Learning about you is more than words. So often your people degenerate into a debating society and the work of the gospel does not get done. Instead we talk...action becomes a memory and a distraction. You have called your people to more than words...you have called us to the gospel demonstrated in actions of grace, love and hope in the middle of a world that has forgotten all three. Help me to not get stuck in words but to be your hands today.

These people think religion is supposed to make you rich. 6And religion does make your life rich, by making you content with what you have.

Lord Jesus--You have brought contentment to me. A richness that a paycheck does not bring...deep relationships developed over time and in the middle of the quest after you. Thank you for the relationships that time and distance does not change because they are grounded in grace hope and and love.

7We didn't bring anything into this world, and we won't take anything with us when we leave. 8So we should be satisfied just to have food and clothes. 9People who want to be rich fall into all sorts of temptations and traps. They are caught by foolish and harmful desires that drag them down and destroy them. 10The love of money causes all kinds of trouble. Some people want money so much that they have given up their faith and caused themselves a lot of pain.

Lord Jesus--It is such an interesting journey...I arrived naked and scared. Everything comes from your hand and I return to you when it is done. Anything in between is blessing that comes from your hand.

Paul is focusing Timothy on the something deeper that needs to seep deep in the soul...life is not about word games, or money, or how other people see me. It is about learning well and deeply that grace needs to change everything...that everyone around me is looking for that grace lived out in light of you. That really is the question isn’t it? Can they see that light in me?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Notes to the Lord: On Who is Really Master of All

1 Timothy 6

1If you are a slave, you should respect and honor your owner. This will keep people from saying bad things about God and about our teaching. 2If any of you slaves have owners who are followers, you should show them respect. After all, they are also followers of Christ, and he loves them. So you should serve and help them the best you can. These are the things you must teach and tell the people to do.

Lord Jesus--Slavery is wrong. Why affirm it here? Is there something I am missing ? How do we deal with cultural institutions that are just wrong?

Paul does not tell the slave owners to free their slaves...he leaves in place even in church a system that was a part of the fabric of the Roman empire, as much as the Roman legions were. Wealthy people lived off of the work of slaves many of them captured in wars of naked aggression that the empire had won.

Instead Paul treated everyone with equality and encouraged fundamental fairness in everything related to the church. Equals treated as equals...as if there were no fundamental difference between slaves and owners. Why?... because there wasn’t any difference except one that a corrupt system had put in place. The whole situation was the result of sin. To focus on one institution when the whole structure was twisted was to over look the magnitude of the problems that faced Rome.

Lord Jesus--I live in a country that has lost it’s center, it’s core values have dissipated in the after math of wars won, much like Rome. What would Paul teach me about living in this kind of social setting? Work for change quietly whenever possible. Affirm what can be affirmed without qualifiers or equivocation. Support the movement of the Spirit of God where ever and when ever I find it. Refuse to be overwhelmed by any of it...because you own it all anyway. It really doesn't matter what the deed says.

Remind me of these thoughts, Lord, if I ever end up a slave...or for that matter a displaced person in some foreign border town. My current status does not invalidate the person for whom you died.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Notes to the Lord:One Foot In Front Of the Other

1 Timothy 5

21In the presence of God and Christ Jesus and their chosen angels, I order you to follow my instructions! Be fair with everyone, and don't have any favorites.

Lord Jesus--The Word endures and it is a guide. As I write this I can imagine the courts of heaven looking down on and cheer on this young pastor being instructed at the master missionary’s hand. In some ways Paul’s job had greater sweep and he moved on in a way that this young pastor did not. Paul had other battles to fight other places to be, the road in many ways was his home...and there was a Roman court that awaited him. I wonder if Timothy ever missed the road? But Timothy’s call was to lead a group of people in Ephesus.

There is need for encouragement...keep doing what you have been taught...don’t give up...the angels are watching...Jesus knows well what you are doing. Treat everyone without favorites and with a fairness that can be clearly seen. It can be lonely leading with endurance, facing the threats both internal and external, but remember the crowds that are just beyond sight that are cheering you on.

Up Close and Personal

Lord Jesus--In the middle of the daily walk, it is following you in the large things and the small things that brings me to the place of effectiveness. Putting one foot in front of the other in the walk of faith...knowing that even when the way is obscure and appears to be difficult you are with me...I am never alone.

Hebrews 12

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

Even when the race seems like it is a foot race with turtles winning I will continue to put one foot in front of the other.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Notes to the Lord: On Leadership and Oxen

1 Timothy 5

17Church leaders who do their job well deserve to be paid twice as much, especially if they work hard at preaching and teaching. 18It is just as the Scriptures say, "Don't muzzle an ox when you are using it to grind grain." You also know the saying, "Workers are worth their pay."

Lord Jesus--I guess ox is better than other animals that Paul could have used to described leadership in the church. The principle of taking care of church leadership is the point, Kurt...don't miss the point.

It is interesting that a man who supported himself as a tent maker most of his missionary life focused on the need for competent vital leadership that should be resourced adequately for the task.

19Don't listen to any charge against a church leader, unless at least two or three people bring the same charges. 20But if any of the leaders should keep on sinning, they must be corrected in front of the whole group, as a warning to everyone else.

Lord Jesus--In a time when so much was fluid in the life of the church, Paul was calling for due process. Accusations needed to be supported by witn
esses. The cannon had not yet been solidified even as Paul was writing part of it to Timothy. People were being persecuted and dieing for the faith...yet he saw the need for a fair process for dealing with internal church issues.

In many ways, Paul was talking about a place where he had never been, a church that he had never served in. A church where pastor's didn't need to support themselves, a place that was safe and if there were problems they were dealt with openly with witnesses.

Help me be that kind of leader who can see the promised land and tell others about it even if I never experience it. I can admire that kind of leader...maybe that's why they ended up calling him Saint Paul.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Notes to the Lord: On Being Useful No Matter the Age Or Stage

1 Timothy 5

9For a widow to be put on the list of widows, she must be at least sixty years old, and she must have been faithful in marriage. 10She must also be well-known for doing all sorts of good things, such as raising children, giving food to strangers, welcoming God's people into her home, helping people in need, and always making herself useful.

Lord Jesus--Everyone has a place of service. Widows so often set aside have a place of service. The qualities are good ones for anyone of any age or gender. I like the idea of

“ always making herself useful.” So much of the time usefulness is a choice...there is always a place of service, sometimes we have to look for it.

Lord Jesus, help me be the kind of person who looks to make myself useful.

11Don't put young widows on the list. They may later have a strong desire to get married. Then they will turn away from Christ 12and become guilty of breaking their promise to him. 13 Besides, they will become lazy and get into the habit of going from house to house. Next, they will start gossiping and become busybodies, talking about things that are none of their business.14 I would prefer that young widows get married, have children, and look after their families. Then the enemy won't have any reason to say insulting things about us. 15Look what's already happened to some of the young widows! They have turned away to follow Satan.

Lord Jesus--Promises made need to be kept. Everyone runs the risk of falling into habits that need not happen. I wonder how many times Paul saw this pattern repeat before he jotted down these lines to Timothy. Gossip isn’t reserved to women or widows...

The thought that sticks with me today is the fact that starting well is not enough...it is a race that I run. Starting well is good as far as it gets, but the race continues through the years. Give me the grace to met the challenge that presents itself to me in this part of the course that you have marked out for me.

As the years tick away and the scenery changes the temptations change as time goes on. Now the challenge is to stay the course, even as those who started out with me leave for other places.These women started well and yet fell away, a note of caution to this sojourner...

Give me the grace for this stage of the race.