The 2 Timothy 2:2 Objective

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

I am Not in Control

I received an iMessage the other day that may be common in the world we live in but one that no father wants to get from his daughter. “My school’s on lockdown. A convict is on the loose and has been seen on our campus.” My daughter goes to school over 500 miles away in that vast wilderness called “Texas.” Of course, there was nothing I could do to protect her, so I began to pray, but I was still trying to figure out what I could do. Maybe I could…no, that wouldn’t work…Maybe I should…no, that is impractical…Maybe I will…seriously, get ahold of yourself – if you are dad, you know how your emotions can spiral a bit out of control when it comes to protecting your children.

That is when God calmed my heart and reminded me of something He has been trying to teach me lately: I am not in control. This reminded me a passage of Scripture.
"Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. [12] "Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. [13] "Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name. (1 Chronicles 29:11-13, NASB)
Yes, I am not in control. Why is this idea such an astonishing concept for me to grasp? I am not in control – never have been; never will be. I cannot control whether my daughter will be harmed when she is 500 miles away from me and I cannot control if she will be harmed if she is living in the same town I live in. I am not in control.
In that moment of praying, God gently reminded me of all the things in which I am not in control. I have been at my current church for just over five months and have been to five funerals, three of which I have presided over. I have no control who dies and when. My wife had to have another back surgery this month. While I wish I could take the pain from her and heal her, I have no control over her pain or her healing. For me, the realization that I am not in control is not exactly what I wanted to hear but I am not even in control of what God wants to teach me! (Can you imagine!?)
God did not leave me there, though. In addition to reminding me that I am not in control, He reminded me that HE is – And He always has been! God being in control means that my daughter was not left in the hands of an escaped convict; she was in the hands of the Perfect Father, our Abba – and she always has been! God controlling all things means that my wife is not in left the hands of a fallible surgeon; She is in the hands of the Great Physician who never makes a mistake and uses our weakness for his strength (2 Cor. 12:10) – and she always has been! God being in control means that He will use what He wants to teach me what He wants at the exact time He wants to teach it to me. Frankly, it is humbling, but I could use some humbling on a regular basis to remind me I serve a Sovereign Father who loves me deeply by reminding me I am not in control.

My daughter was on lockdown for about five hours and then, when it was safe, all the students were released. So she and eleven of her friends went to get pizza – college students…always eating. She was safe and I praised God, not just because my daughter was safe, although that was a major praise, but I praised God because of who God is. The Sovereignty of our God means that He can do what He wants, teach me what He wants, use what He wants, to accomplish what He wants. Like 1 Chronicles 29:13 says, “Therefore”, because You are in COMPLETE control of ALL things, “we thank You and praise Your glorious name.” Thank You, Lord, that I am not in control.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Urim, Thummim, and the Danger of Misinterpretation

The mystical interpretations some pastors preach never ceases to amaze me.

I was tuned to a different radio station while running late for work one day this week. Because of the later time, I was able to hear a preacher I would not normally catch. I did not know who this preacher was but I was not really surprised that I heard some truly poor exposition that I felt I needed to address for two reasons: 1) to correct the poor handling of Scripture, and 2) to show how a mishandling of Scripture moves the preacher off the topic of Christ. When any teaching is the product of poor hermeneutics, the teaching becomes mystical and the preacher becomes a something of a preaching magician. While the congregation "ooos" and "ahhs" over his magical skills in interpretation they for forget that, like any magic show, it is all just an act.

The sermon I was listening to was being shared by Jon Courson, who I really do not know much about. In fact, I forced myself to listen to the whole program so I could find out who was preaching. I have heard his name but have never really heard him preach before. I am not attacking his person; I know nothing about this man. But I feel I must say something about this teaching. Much like Paul confronting Peter when Peter was wrong, I feel I should do the same (Galatians 2:11-21)

Jon was teaching on the urim and thummim mentioned in Scripture. I say "mentioned" because there are only seven verses in all of Scripture that refer to thummim and/or urim (Exodus 28:30, Leviticus 8:8, Numbers 27:21, Deuteronomy 33:8, 1 Samuel 28:6, Ezra 2:63, Nehemiah 7:65). There is nothing in Scripture that tells us what the urim and thummim were or how they were used. Yet, Pastor Courson provided vivid detail on what these were and how God used them.

He indicated that they were stones on the breastplate of the priest (Exodus 28:30 tells us they were to placed in the breastplate but it does not indicate they were stones). He went on to teach that God would actually light up the stones on the breastplate of the priest as part of the use of the urim and thummim (you can read that at his website here as well). I assume he developed that theory from the literal translation of the names ("urim" means "lights" and "thummim" means "perfection."). The Scriptures says NOTHING about the breastplate of the priest lighting up like "Simon" game (I encourage the reader to take the time to read the seven verses above).

So far, there is no real theological problem with this teaching but there is a big hermeneutical problem. I am not sure why a person would want to invent information about anything in Scripture especially when there is absolutely no supporting evidence for it. The theological problem occurred when the poor hermeneutic produced a poor conclusion. Courson began saying something like this: "Just like the priest's breastplate lit up with lights when God was telling his people what to do, Jesus told us 'you are the light of the world' and therefore we are capable of giving others guidance." In short, I came away from the sermon feeling like he was reducing our ministry, and worse Jesus' ministry, to that of a magic 8-ball.

When Jesus told his followers they would be lights of the world (Matthew 5:14), he was not referring to the urim and thummim, and decision making. He was talking about the light of the gospel going into this dark world (Matthew 5:16). Jesus did not come to help us make better decisions or to help us know what we should do. He came to raise us from the dead and give us life. He came to rescue us from the darkness and transfer us into His Son's Kingdom (Colossians 1:13-14). He came to give His life as a ransom (Matthew 20:28). He came to redeem us and forgive us (Ephesians 1:7). But His purpose for coming was not so we could make better decisions.

Additionally, Jesus did not give believes the ministry of better decision making. He gave us the ministry of reconciling the lost world to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). He gave us the ministry of making disciples (Matthew 28:19). He gave us the ministry, as mentioned above, of being lights in the darkness. But the main ministry of believers is not making better decisions.

Yes, the Holy Spirit gives believers wisdom and guidance when making decisions (Galatians 5:25). Yes, Jesus uses other believers to help us when we have difficult choices (Proverbs 11:14). Yes, we all need to make better decisions as believers. But, using the urim and thummim to teach this truth smacks of attempting to impress people with magical hermeneutical skills and, in the end, conveys the wrong message about Jesus' ministry.

For this reason, we must be careful to say what the Bible says about an issue, and remain silent where the Bible is silent. I have no idea what the urim and thummim were or how the priest used them. That is because the Bible remains silent on the issue. A pastor should not have to take an obscure passage or item from the Old Testament to tantalize his congregation. The Word is powerful enough on its own (Isaiah 55:11, Hebrews 4:12).

For an interesting on the urim and thummim, this article gives a good balanced approach about this mysterious apparatus of the priests garments.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Funniest Thing I Heard Today - 7.28.2014

"Now, back in Fort Smith there's a 'sportin' lady' named Big Faye. She was shot twice with this thing. But....she dresses out at about two hundred and ninety so none of the bullets found their way to any of the vitals. But against ordinary people, this gives good service."
Rooster Cogburn, played by John Wayne, on Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne's second to last film) while talking about the Five-Barreled Ladies Companion gun.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A New Beginning

Starting today, I am the new pastor at Rosemont Baptist Church in Montrose, Colorado. I am honored that this church has not only voted to have me lead them as pastor, but today the church will participate in an installation service, during which a representative from the church and myself will be signing a covenant outlining our responsibilities to each other. I anticipate being a moving and meaningful part of the service tomorrow.

I will be the one preaching tomorrow so instead of preaching a charge to myself, I will preaching a charge to everyone there. I will preaching from 2 Timothy 3:16-4:5. I will be preaching on four marks of effective ministry.

To have an effective ministry, we must...

Recognize the Character of the Bible (3:16-17)
  • It is inspired
  • It is profitable
  • It equips us
Recognize the Character of Your Ministry (4:1-2)
  • Our ministries must be bible-centered
  • Our ministries must be prepared
  • Our ministries must be discipling
  • Our ministries must be patient
  • Our ministries must be instructive
Recognize the Character of the Culture (4:3-4)
  • The culture rejects sound doctrine
  • The culture gathers false teachers
  • The culture only hears what pleases them
  • The culture refuses to hear the truth
  • The culture follows myths  
Recognize the Character of the Minister (4:5)
  • We must be counter-cultural
  • We must be serious (taking the things of God seriously)
  • We must endure hardship
  • We must be evangelistic
  • We must fulfill our ministry
I pray that God will speak through me during the sermon and that He will be glorified.

Lord, let my beginning and entire ministry at Rosemont lift you up and bring you the honor you deserve. Let the ministry here bring many people into Your Kingdom for Your glory. Thank for you privilege not only to serve you, but to serve you here. 
I am looking forward to this new opportunity to serve Christ by shepherding the wonderful people who make us Rosemont Baptist Church. It is my desire to post regularly here in order to encourage the body of Christ at Rosemont as well as anyone else who stops by.

Please post here if there is anything you would like to me to address of even if you just want to say "Hi". I would love to know if anyone is encouraged by this blog.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Removing the Dead Wood from Our Lives

We are messy when we start.
I have been removing dead trees from our land for about a month or so and it strikes me this job is similar to the work Christians must tackle in their own lives.

We had some dead, rotting trees standing, and in some cases, laying on or beside healthy, green, growing trees. When the two exist together it is messy, ugly, and, frankly, a bit dangerous. Rodents or snakes could live in the mess laying on the ground. Winds can cause trees to fall over and harm others. It is eyesore for the neighbors. In short the dead must be removed for the healthy to continue to grow and to improve the aesthetics.

Similarly, when we come to Christ, we have sin littering our lives which must be aggressively removed if we are to grow and become healthy Christians. Paul makes this point in Colossians 3. In this part of his epistle to the church in Colossia, Paul first instructs his readers to "set your mind on the things above" (3:2). He then charges believers to put to death our worldly nature (3:5). He lists a sampling of what the worldly nature looks like (I will link to the Greek word used): immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed - greed is like idolatry. These are what the old, worldly nature produces and they should be like dead trees in our lives. They need to be removed.

Making progress
Paul goes on to say that we are to throw away the old self (3:9). He characterized the old man with this list: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech. He also includes a ban on lying to one another. These all, and anything else produced from the old nature must be removed because through Christ, we have put on the new man. When we do not remove the old and dead from our lives, our lives become messy, ugly, and frankly, a bit dangerous.

This is not work we must do ourselves. In fact, it is impossible for us to do this work ourselves. It begins when we have made alive through Christ (3:1) and the work continues as we are renewed the more and more we know Christ (3:10). In short, it is the work of Christ on the cross that allows us to be able to remove the old nature from our lives.

Like removing the trees, removing sin from our lives is hard work. It may take some time to get the job done in the manner it needs done. It may be costly but it is worth the cost. You may need the help of a friend to get to the job done. The point is that we must remove the sin from our lives no matter what. The ugly death in our lives must be removed so we can walk as Christ intended us to walk.

Matthew Henry challenged his readers to remove sins from lives. He said,
Mortify them, kill them, suppress them, as weeds or vermin which spread and destroy all about them ... It is necessary to mortify sins, because if we do not kill them, they will kill us.

Finished for now
These were the thought running through my head as I was cleaning out these old trees. More specifically, I began to wonder what were the dead trees in my life that are not only cluttering up my life, but are allowing death to remain in the new life Christ has given me. I would ask you the same question. What dead trees from your old worldly nature is still hanging around in your life making your life messy, ugly, and dangerous? Are you willing to allow Christ to work in you and are you willing to do the hard work to remove these sins from your life?

If you are struggling in an area and would like some help, please comment below or email and I will be willing to pray with you and help you with your questions.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Changes to The 2 Timothy 2:2 Objective

Today I have integrated the 2 Timothy 2:2 Objective website and the blog into one web presence. It is my hope that this change will provide users with more information than just the blog. The website was not being visited very much and additionally the hosting service literally disappeared (and took my website with it).

Over the coming months, I hope to add more information to the pages of this website. I would like to have more relevant postings on the blog (although, I will still post random things as well). Eventually, I would like the user to listen to some sermons through this site as well as help pastors in preparing their sermons. Please continue to check back often for any updates.

Currently, our Study Links page has information on it which should helps those interested in digging deeper into Scripture. If there is something you would like to see included on the 2 Timothy 2:2 Objective Website, please feel free to post a comment here and let me know how this site could help you.

You can now access this site by using the simple web address of

Let me know what you think of the new look!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Gathering Illustrations

In a previous post, I wrote about sermon preparation and the importance of the sermon illustration in that process. Sermon illustrations are pretty easy to come by if one is paying attention. The problem for me has been how to keep track of the illustrations I have found along the way but have not been able to use yet. How can I file those illustrations to be used in the future? What system is the best way to access my sermon illustrations?

In my thinking and experimenting to find the best system, I also found myself in an interesting situation. A fellow minister and friend of mine passed away not long ago. His family very generously and very kindly gave his collection of sermon illustrations to me (this collection is seen in the image above). I was very honored to receive this collection of illustrations that represent hundreds of hours of collecting, filing, and then using the illustration in various sermons. This was a very personal, very important, and very valuable gift. I was quite moved by this family's kindness in their time of grieving.
Recently, I have come across an application named Evernote. My finding Evernote is not an epic discovery, as many have already found an use Evernote regularly. But for me, it was a great way to easily collect, store, and retrieve sermon illustrations. If you are looking for a way to make a personalized sermon illustration storage system, this is a very easy process.

After I looked at some videos about the basics of Evernote, I began the process of collecting my illustrations. To begin with, I created a "notebook" entitled "Sermon Illustrations." Second, I create a new note in that notebook. Then, I use the very cool function in Evernote in which one can take a picture with the "document camera," which takes a picture of the text and then makes that text searchable. I add a title to this picture, and at the bottom of the note, I make a quick notation regarding the source. Finally, and I think this may be the most important, I create some "tags," which are essentially subject labels, for this note.

Once entered like this, you can search the "tags" for a topic search, as in "I would like to see all the illustrations about forgiveness" or you can search through the notes for a keyword, as in "I would like to see all the illustrations that have the word "love" in them.

All my illustrations are stored on the Evernote cloud, which has 60 MB per month free. This means that I can access my notes from my iPad, my PC laptop (there is an Evernote for the PC), or even any computer that has web access, because there is a web-based client as well.

I would recommend Evernote for this type of work. I can also see the benefits of this application in collection of receipts for ministry and a vast array of information gathering. For now, Evernote will be serving as my main storage space for my sermon illustrations.

Finally, I will have an image below of what my Evernote on my PC looks like (it is a large picture so you may need to scroll around to see it all). I hope this information has helped. Please leave some feedback to let me know!

Screen Shot of Evernote - Click to Enlarge

Monday, March 10, 2014

One. Weird. Day

Confession. I did not go to church yesterday. Not really. Instead, I had the Let me start from the beginning. My wife and I had some work we HAD to get done around the house and we were not going to be able to do it anytime in the next three weeks or more. We attempted to do the work on Saturday but, without going into a myriad of details, that was not all.

Sunday was a warm day and I viewed it as "having an ox in the ditch" and proceeded to take care of the work. So, we woke up and watch the worship service of the church we have been attending (they have a Livestream of their worship for those who cannot make it. I realize this is no substitute for the gathering together of God's people for worship and encouragement but for this day, it helped us). After the service, we began our work.

We had several dead trees on our property by the road and a couple had fallen over with some strong winds (see the image - it is pretty blurry. The red circle indicates the problems we had). We had one tree fall half-way down, and this winter another one fell completely down (you cannot see it in the picture). In short, we needed to clean these up so we did. As the first picture and the picture below shows, these trees were completely dead and I was able to push over the last standing tree.

So, we got that completed and made a nice pile of firewood for someone (see below). By the way, that is my daughter's dog, Scout, who must be everywhere I am helping me however he can. He is a good boy!

After completing our job, we went to lunch at our local diner. While there, we encountered a family whose vehicle had broken down - they had an "an ox in the ditch" also! So, in the course of our discussion with them, I offered to drive them home.

When I got home from giving them a lift, my wife was doing some laundry. We began to smell a strong bleach smell and she was not doing a load of whites. We looked in the laundry room, and the bleach had tipped over and spilled on to some wool socks. For those of us who forgot everything we learned about chemistry, bleach mixed with wool creates a chemical reaction called a neutralization reaction. Not only did the bleach-soaked wool socks get incredibly hot, it also created an almost unbearable stench in the house. We opened the windows and left the house for a little bit, making sure the dogs were in the garage so they would be safe.

There were a couple other events yesterday that I won't talk about that made the day just one of those strange days that seem to stand out. Nothing bad happened but just enough unique events to make one wonder what God was up to yesterday.


Friday, February 28, 2014

22 years and going

Today is my wife and I are celebrating being married 22 years. Technically, it is our 5 1/2 anniversary (we were married on Leap Day) but it has been 22 years nonetheless. We were married when were 22 years old, so I have been married to my wife as long as I have not been married to her. From here on out, I will have been married to her longer than I was not married to her.

My wife is an amazing woman. She is incredibly intelligent, she is very hospitable, she is a great mother, she is amazingly beautiful, and she is the kindest woman I know. I am not only blessed to be married to her, but I would not be who I would be without her influence in my life.

I love you, Rhonda!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Tough Decision is Coming

I usually do not spend my time dealing with political issues but today I need to post about an upcoming issue I believe each American Christian will have to deal with in the near-future.

I am sure many of you have heard that today Arizona's Governor has vetoed a bill that would have allowed business owners to refuse service based on religious conviction. This law was written to allow business owners to express their First Amendment rights. This proposed law was bound to be introduced after a Colorado baker would not bake a wedding cake for two homosexual men who came to him to make them a wedding cake. The baker now must make the cake or possibly face jail time.

Never mind that Colorado's constitution defines marriage as between a man and woman.

Never mind that AT MOST 3.5% of the population of our country (roughly the population of New Jersey) who claim to be homosexual are shifting the entire culture to their agenda no matter the cost.
Never mind that science seems to point to homosexuality as a choice rather than an inborn trait and, as such, would nullify the claim of homosexuals being a "minority group."

However, these are not the points I want to dedicate this post to today. Instead, I want to challenge the reader with the idea that within, I believe, five years the American Christian will have to choose if they will be American OR Christian. In other words, they will have to choose where their most basic, foundational loyalties lie. This is because I believe within those five years it will impossible to be faithful to both. Well, maybe not impossible, but I am trying to make a point.

My point is that very soon Christian's will not be able to uphold the Laws of the Land. For example, parents homeschooling their children may eventually have to break the law if they teach their children homosexuality is a sin (it has already happened in Canada). Biblically-based churches will possibly lose their tax-exempt status a punishment for their stand on homosexuals. With some new bills about bullying and cyber-bullying just around the bend, posts like this one could end up coming with a fine or punishment. There is a good chance pastors who preach against homosexuality could end up jailed (it has already happened in Sweden). These and more will be serious religious and spiritual issues that the unsuspecting church will have to deal with sooner than they think.

I am not attempting to be an alarmist. This is just the reality we live in today and there will be no turning back this tide. Yes, we should continue to evangelize those who pride has hardened their hearts to the point where God has left them to their own sinful desires (Ezekiel 16:49-50, Ephesians 4:17-19, Romans 1:18-32). Yes, Christ is stronger than any political agenda (1 John 4:4). But the cultural shift has already happened. The question is, "How will the believer respond?"

Nor am I advocating that Christians just "give up." Obviously, the church will not stop doing what it has been commissioned to do by Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). We must continue preach Jesus and salvation He provides any sinner through His blood and we must preach this no matter the cost and without regard to those who tell us to stop (Acts 4:18-20). The Church must remain faithful in spite of the pressure to compromise (Revelation 3:8).

So, with this in mind, the American church will have to come to realization that a converted soul is more important than a conservative vote. Believers must acknowledge that the nation in which they live is not an extension of the church. The Church must come to understand that our politics, which is based in the concept of compromise, do not mix well with our faith, which based in absolute truth.

Christians around the world live in country that is out-right hostile to the Christian faith. This is nothing new. If you are believer reading this, then I just would like you consider the idea that this may be coming sooner than you might imagine. What will your response be?