That's The Book: Titus
I have been tracking a few goals for the past month. Make my bed (good start to the day, gift to my future self). Read my Bible. Do something in art. Write at least 100 words a day on That’s the Book (Eleven more books to go for those of you keeping track. Probably only me. And maybe my mom. And probably my spouse and kids but they are keeping track likely only so I’ll quit talking about it.) And I’m also trying to MOVE every day. This is the tough one.
The last ten days I’ve been getting up early to do a morning YouTube video. Just a little light tone and yoga. Mostly it’s about balance. I don’t have a ton. I tried this morning to do a side plank. Not quite gonna happen yet. I tip over.
Balance is a trick in life too. Focus too much on one side and you end up obsessing over details. Veer too far to the other side and it’s a crazy free for all with no forward motion. I sometimes tip over.
The book of Titus is from Paul to one of his co-workers Titus. The basic purpose of the book is to encourage Titus to keep preaching truth and to encourage the church he serves to hang onto the main message and avoid diving into surrounding controversy. Paul's main message is that the Christian faith is the most persuasive when the church practices the truth. The goal is to honor God and welcome the wounded world by living consistently with what Jesus taught.
Here is the extreme on one side Paul is advising people to avoid.
They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach - and that for the sake of dishonest gain. Titus 1: 11. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for anything good. Titus 1:16
And the balance he recommends;
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Who gave himself for us to redeem us from wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2: 11-14
I love some of the phrases in Titus. The book is only three chapters long so you really should stop reading this and go read it - nothing like original sources. But to persuade you to do so here are a few of my favorite thoughts.
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
Titus 3:4-5In the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time. Titus 1:2
Hope and kindness and love. Good ways to balance a life. Imagine being Titus off in a lonely church trying to hold the faith. And imagine receive a letter from Paul which focused on the hope of heaven and the kindness of God. I bet it brought Titus back to center ready to face the challenge. This message is for you too. If you've veered off to one extreme of legalism where the weight of trying to do more or be more is tipping you over come back to center. If your life has toppled over to the other side with no guardrails and the license on your behavior has driven you to extremes causing pain can I recommend the same? Come back to center. Life is best lived there.
Why reinvent the wheel? The guys at the Bible Project know how to summarize better than anyone. Here is their take on Titus.
This is a fun song to memorize Titus 3:5. I love it and am going to sing this one with my kiddos.
I saw a post on Facebook this last week where friends were asked to post one word about how they felt right at that moment. Many of the words spoke to heartache.
Not my favorite list of words. It got me thinking. I wondered if this list fit most of the people I know. So I figured I should ask. Do you feel dead?
Then yesterday I went to a fundraiser for Open House Ministries; a local homeless ministry. (Check them out at www.sheltered.org). I love this organization. I love their big hearts, huge hope and incredible grace to broken and healing people. One of my favorite moments at the fundraiser was when the chaplain prayed. I may be biased because we're related - but his words hit deep.
“Thank you Jesus!
You do not take bad people and make them good.
You take dead people and make them alive.”
I wanted to Hallelujah right in the middle of the fundraiser. I didn't. But I haven't quit thinking about it.
I thought about that list of dead words. And about the sorts of words we sometimes throw out to hurting people. Perhaps we get stuck in fights online and in nasty narratives because talking about bad and good is subjective and judgmental. Too much nebulous area and room for disagreement. Too easy to point fingers and avoid our own culpability.
I thought about the people I know who put on brave faces but inside feel dead. And I wondered if maybe those words of despair are so prevalent because no one knows how to get life.
I bet most people want more life. How about you?
You know the fun thing about the gospel? Its all about trading. Death for Life. Loneliness for Family. Sadness for Joy. Discouragement for Hope. Defeat for Victory. Anxiety for Peace.
It's not magic. It's not a solution to all your problems. It doesn't make those hard spots disappear. But the promise and the gift changes you so that there is something (someone!) alive right inside that helps you grow and get help and heal. Until the first word that comes to mind might be this one:
Do you feel dead? I know the author of new life. Shoot me an email if you have questions. I'd love to take you to coffee, send you a book, or say a prayer for you. Jesus makes dead people alive. Hallelujah.
That's The Book: 2nd Timothy
The girls and I have been working our way through a book called Drawing from the Right side of the brain. It contains a series of exercises to help you learn how to draw accurately. One of the major skills is to start to see the world as it is really not as your logical left brain expects it to be. For example, very large things which are far away can appear smaller than small things which are very close. Learning to draw things as they actually appear instead of the symbolic forms your brain has always found useful is a hard switch. Effective. But difficult.
The book of 2 Timothy is similar. Paul is asking Timothy to face the world as it is - a mess full of currupt people who love to engage in fruitless arguments. Believers face hardship.
But mark this; There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self control, brutal , not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 2 Timothy 3; 1-5
Some people preach an easy gospel. I’ve read those books. Trust Jesus and you’ll find the perfect spouse, make a million dollars, have beautiful skin and lord knows your children will be raised up in the way they should go - never embarrassing you in public. This is like the stick figures in drawing. It’s fake.
That’s not life. Kids get snotty or worse rebel into full loss land. People leave. Cancer hits. Loneliness, discouragement and despair aren’t what we advertise. But sometimes it is what real life looks like. Paul gives no such glib advice like work harder and magically succeed.
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Timothy 3: 12-13
The good news is Paul's letter includes the truth about God as well.
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 2 Timothy 1: 9b-10
You see it? The truth of the state of the world is dark and dreary. But the truth of the gospel is glorious. Eternal. True in the midst of great heart ache. True for us as well. And the truthful telling of how the world is and how great and wide God’s faithfulness is more beautiful than the cartoon fake gospel.
That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. 2 Timothy 1:12
Perhaps the thing I find most encouraging about 2 Timothy is how everything was still bad, not resolved and messy. 1st Timothy was an encouragement letter from Paul to Timothy about how to handle a struggling congregation amidst difficulty. And presumably Timothy took the advice. And everything didn’t resolve into a neat package of perfection. So 2 Timothy is a reality based letter to keep on keeping on when it’s hard. If the church leaders in the early church faced difficulty and were honest about it I can be too.
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in christ Jesus with eternal glory. Here is a trustworthy saying: if we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless; he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 2 Timothy 2:10-13
One of the things I’m really enjoying about my art book is the step by step practical tips. Closing one eye helps figure out perspective. Using toned paper helps smooth out mistakes. I am not a talented enough artist to figure these tips on my own.
And my faith? Same. I’m not intuitive enough to figure out how to preservere on my own. So I’m grateful for 2 Timothy.Paul goes into detail practically about how to endure and remain faithful.
Preach the word, be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of the evangelist discharge all the duties of your ministry. 2 Timothy 4: 2-5
Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:23-26
If you want to do good art it helps to have good tools. Paper, brushes, pencils. Paul also provides good reminders that we have tools given by God.
All scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline. 2 Timothy 1: 6-3
Keep your eyes on the end game. Art requires us to really see what we are trying to draw. Paul is telling Timothy the same. If you keep your eyes on heaven the picture gets clear.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4 6-8
The Lord will reduce me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. 2 Timothy 4: 18
My goal in learning to draw is to gain a new way of seeing and reflecting the world. 2 Timothy makes me think perhaps the goal is to see and reflect heaven.
The team at The Bible Project is my favorite resource. They don’t disappoint with this talk.
In case you too want to learn to draw here is a link to the book we are working our way through at home.
That's the Book: 1 Timothy
Ever seen sheep fight? Ever been to church? Sadly its sometimes the same thing.
1 Timothy is an important book. Its a personal message from the church leader Paul to his protégé Timothy. The book is written to encourage Timothy to not quit and stand firm on issues in a fractured and fighting local church in Ephesus. All kinds of crazy was being preached and the important message of Jesus was being compromised by the reputation of the fighting church. Sound familiar? I'd say 1 Timothy is an important book for believers today.
We too have a contentious discussion happening amongst people who claim Christ. Most clearly seen on social media and the sharpest blades come out on Twitter. Lots of people are advising the best approach is to flee and drop any portion of faith which offends. Some are picking up viral campaigns of anger. Some are valiantly standing up to abuse. Some are using bad doctrine as a fundraising mechanism. All very familiar themes found in 1st Timothy.
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work - which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. I Timothy 1 4-5
Somethings are heresy and some are simply different interpretations - and the letter from Paul to Timothy contains advice on when to stand and fight and when to be silent. This book tells me there are s specific times when silence is the appropriate response. And clearly other times when kicking bad doctrine out the door should be our resounding corporate shout. The trick is to know which and when.
My best guess says when abuse is happening, when exclusion, when one sin is shamed and others tolerated or celebrated we better not shut up. I'm not impressed when grace is cheapened into license or when the law is elevated to a whipping stick. But on all the minors - for the love - can we tap down our disagreements and elevate the main thing?
When the grand story from Genesis to Revelation is what we teach.
We’re in a good place when the cross is the main message.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2 : 2-6
1 Timothy has some of my least favorite verses in the Bible.
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 1 Timothy 2:11
When I run up against verses I don't understand or frankly don't like. I do my best not to just ignore them. Sometimes those hard verses have the best lessons. And clearly sometimes silence IS the right and often neglected approach. But these verses also seem to contradict Paul's great esteem mentioned in other books for women preachers and leaders. So off to study I go. I love Beth Moore's recent advice on Twitter.
"Do your homework. Study the Scriptures, Genesis to Revelation. Study them hard. Know the NT from end to end. Learn to distinguish between differing interpretations that are well within the bounds of orthodoxy & actual heresies. The ESV has 757,439 words in it. That’s alotta Bible."
Contest is everything. When the grand story from Genesis to Revelation is what we teach we don't get side tracked as easily by controversy.
1st Timothy also has some of my favorite affirming verses.
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12
Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. 1 Timothy 5:1-2
Seriously - our #metoo culture could be solved if people would treat each other as family - with absolute purity. Good advice.
Paul finished up the book with a clear fight against any sort of profiteering off faith and a final exhortation to Timothy not to quit.
These are the things you are to teach and insist on. If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. 1 Timothy 6: 2-5
For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. But you man of God flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the pretense of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6: 10-12
I'd say the same to you. Let's approach our faith with a clear heart with a goal of love, a commitment to the main message of Christ's redeeming sacrifice and the goodwill to one another to figure out what matters most. Baaaaaaa.
As always - the Bible Project is helpful. I especially like how the team allows for different interpretations of the text while pointing out the salient and clear issues. Love it.
Free Book - Perfection Collides with Free Will by Gary Williams
When I run up against verses I don't understand or don't like I try not to just ignore the content. I try to wrestle with the text until I understand or at least have a perspective to put the verses in context. Contest is everything. And sometimes I read what other people who have done the research think. Working through 1 Timothy I read and asked some knowledgable friends questions. This pass along came through those discussions. Gary Williams is finishing up his book Perfection Collides with Free Will. He'll be publishing soon but offered this FREE PDF DOWNLOAD for people interested in the nuances of relationships in ministry for men and women. Thoughtful.
This batch of books brought to you by a visit overseas and plenty of time to read. Enjoy!
One of my favorite books in the whole world is Ernest Hemingway's book A Movable Feast. It's about the early years in Paris with his first wife. Paula McLain had the ingenious idea to write the same book fictionalized from the MRS. Hemingway's perspective. I absolutely loved it. I read this on the long plane home from our recent vacation and bawled my head off. I felt bad for the stranger seated to my left. I'm sure he was concerned about the tears dripping off my nose. If you love Hemingway but are saddened by his self destructive life this book is a heart rendering and inspiring look at what it means to love and let go.
I continued my dive into all things Hemingway when I checked out this massive tome. It's often said real life is stranger than fiction and no one does that apply to more than Hemingway.
I kept the spy theme going on vacation with The Whitehall Mandarin. While we were in London we walked the Thames River through The Whitehall district. Its where the military police, Scotland Yard and the government buildings are located in London. I enjoyed this book for the descriptions of things we had just seen. It also made me wonder how much of the fictionalized history was true. Pretty crass though so be warned.
Part fairy tale, part self help. Fun and dangerous if you take it too seriously. I listened to this massive best seller on Audible. Some of the scenes made me nod in recognition. The whole world conspires to help those that are following their personal legend.
We read Katie Davi's first book Kisses for Katie in bookclub almost a decade ago. She was a young woman who made the audacious and beautiful decision to personally adopt 13 girls in Uganda. Ten years later she tells her ongoing story of God's faithfulness, of loss and healing in her new book Daring to Hope. This is inspiring.
A friend promised to let us try the tea if we finished the book. This was an interesting look at the massive changes in rural China over the last fifty years and one woman's journey to adapt and maintain her identity.
What are you reading?
That's the Book: 2nd Thessalonians
I spent the weekend at a work conference. We were out at the beautiful Skamania Lodge. During one of the breaks a friend of mine talked me into doing the arial course. I bought a t-shirt because I couldn’t see myself dangling up in the sky between trees in work attire.
As I signed the lengthy waiver I noticed the government license and inspection which were prominently displayed in the office. Nice.
The first step in the process was putting the gear. I synched and paid attention. Tightened my helmet.
We went through the training course which was down on the ground. Practiced clipping on and off.
My trust was not in myself. I know myself. Slightly uncoordinated, out of shape, not terribly aware of my own surroundings. Good chance if left to my own devices I'd fall and break my head.
I did trust the equipment. The government inspection. The trainer. The people who came off the course just as I was going in. They all looked like they survived and were even smiling. I trusted the clips and wires. And those big beautiful trees. I trusted the trees to do what trees do. Stay put.
You see the sermon here right? My trust is not in myself. My fear is not in the wind or the height or gravity. Because my trust in the trainers and the trees was greater than the fear.
The view was fantastic up top of the world. The perspective changed.
2nd Thessalonians is a short book. Just three chapters. A quick reminder to the people Paul had already spent great time with and had written previously. The book has two main points;
1. To commend the people for their faith and perserverence. They had already proven by their track record that faith in Christ was a wise move.
Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5
2. To tell them to hold on in tough times because their faith in Christ to hold them would prove stronger than their fear of their future. It's not that there is nothing to be afraid of. It's just that God is stronger. He stays put.
With this is mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 2 Thessalonians 1:11
I certainly had reason to fear climbing up in the trees and dangling a hundred feet up on just a wire. But the harness, the credibility of the company, the evidence of other participants and the structure of the trees bore more weight than my fear.
Same thing with faith. The future does hold uncertainty. There are people and movements opposed who would seek the downfall of a believer. But Christ is more certain. And this is the message Paul sends to those believers at Thesanolica.
So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thessalonians 2: 15-16
It's the same message I send to you. Yes. The future is scary. Yes. There will be painful things to come.
And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance. 2 Thessalonians 3:2-5
Pray, and watch those ahead of you who have persevered. And remember clearly where God has proven in your life to hold you steady and upright. He is certain to catch you if you fall. So go ahead. Enjoy the view.
I love the book The Lucky Few and have followed this fantastic family on Instagram the last several years. You can read my review of The Lucky Few HERE.
I'm excited to announce there is a new book! Scoot Over and Make Room by Heather Avis just released and is sure to be a stunner. I'll be reading and reviewing soon but wanted to encourage everyone to grab your own copy.
Check out the book trailer below.
The food you eat significantly contributes to your body mass index (BMI), which is an overall measure of your body fat ratio. While exercise and portion control can help, the most important factor when it comes to weight loss and food is eating the right foods. Unfortunately, there is a common belief that eating well means spending your entire paycheck at the grocery store. The good news is that this simply isn’t true. Below, we will take a look at a few of the benefits of changing your diet, but first, here are a few tips on how to manage your nutrition on a budget.
Your first and most important priority when it comes to shopping well on a budget is to determine where to get the best deals. During the spring and summer, this will likely be your local farmers market. However, if you do not live near one of these local co-ops, it’s wise to stick with budget stores like Walmart. If you shop online, you can find Walmart coupons and cashback opportunities (ebates.com/walmart.com is one great way to get cash back) that can help you keep your budget under control. The retail giant also offers grocery delivery from many locations throughout the US, and the delivery fee was recently cut to $4.95. Shopping online, whether for shipping or direct delivery, is the best way to save you from impulse buys.
The Effects of Food
It’s well accepted that eating fewer calories and exercising is the best way to lose weight. However, according to Harvard Health Publishing Contributing Editor Eva Selhub, MD, the food you eat affects how you feel on a neural level. Part of this is because your intestinal tract produces a chemical called serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates, among other things, mood and appetite. Further, eating certain foods and taking a probiotic supplement, has been shown to reduce anxiety levels. Fortunately, probiotics are relatively inexpensive. If you’d rather not add an extra pill to your daily routine, you can pick up buttermilk, yogurt, and sauerkraut for less than five dollars each at most grocery stores. All three of these foods are proven powerful probiotics that can improve gut and overall health.
Losing weight can lower your risk of diabetes and other diseases. This can also improve your financial situation since you will be less likely to require more than routine medical care and preventative services. Once you establish healthy eating habits, your weight will likely stabilize, meaning you can get more use out of your wardrobe. The money you save on junk food, doctor visits, and clothing can be used to pursue other health-related endeavors, such as investing in top-notch hiking equipment or exercise gear.
Speaking of exercise, when you pay attention to your diet, you are more likely to want to engage in physical activities. If you don’t have the extra cash to hit the gym, there are many free ways to up your activity level. TheEveryGirl.com suggests clicking around YouTube for videos from personal trainers or practicing yoga from the comfort of your own home.
Still Not Convinced?
If you are still not convinced that you can eat well without blowing your budget, consider the actual cost of your current diet. By some estimates, eating poorly will run you more than $16,000 per year while eating like a fitness model will cost you less than half of that. To compare: a breakfast of donuts, a meat bagel, hash browns, and coffee is just under six dollars versus a breakfast of eggs, oatmeal, and fruit, which totals about a dollar. As you can see, the less expensive meal not only cost less but is also full of protein, whole grains, and fruit.
Remember, you aren’t saving anything — including yourself — but eating poorly. Changing your diet one meal at a time is the best thing you can do for yourself, and sticking to your new healthy menu will help you enjoy a lifetime of wellness.
Image via Pixabay
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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