Parents: Fight For Your Children

Posted by on Sep 30, 2014 in Featured, Marriage/Parenting/Singleness

Parents: Fight For Your Children

 Parents: Fight For Your Children

Editor’s Note:

The purpose of this series is to help singles think through how to be single in the church, those who are married but don’t have kids to continue to pursue each other and those who are married to excel at parenting by the grace of God.

*****************single marriage parenting6 blue final329x200 Parents: Fight For Your Children

“whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deut. 6:6-9)

I am not often shocked when it comes to the truly deep level of depravity in our society. The length to which culture has embraced every expanding methods of perversion seems to be the new norm. One truly has to have existed in a closet over the past few years to not realize the shift towards all sorts of immorality seeping into every aspect of society. With that said and despite being fully aware of this move towards what some have rightly termed as the “pornification of society”, I was a bit shocked when this issue reared its ugly head in my own home recently.

We have a newly minted shall we say teenage daughter at home, with newly minted meaning she just turned 13 years old earlier this month. This stage of life begins to a large degree the transition into adulthood, an extremely important phase of life. The foundation laid by those of influence in the life of a child at this stage of life greatly impacts their worldview and how our children understand the issues of life. Thus, this places a huge level of responsibility on parents to follow the command of Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” In a day and age where at every turn our children are being bombarded with sexually explicit material, sexual innuendo, and perversion of all types, both overtly and in a more subtle manner, it is perhaps more important than ever for parents to be intimately involved in what their children are involved in to include what they watch, listen to, and read as well as those they call their friends.

From recent personal experience, I can unequivocally state that we live in a sick society and the sickness our society is plagued with is an embracing of all manner of sin. It was brought to my attention that even a word as simply as “thirsty” has been twisted to mean sex crazed, specifically a desire to have sex. What was shocking to me was the age level in which this term is being used, in this case by 11-13 year olds. Furthermore, this term was being bantered around not just in the halls of the local public school, but perhaps most shockingly, within the youth groups at local churches. This is just one of many examples I could provide that have come to my attention. Now I appreciate the honesty of my own daughter to share that such language is something she has come in contact with in interactions with her friends, fellow schoolmates, and the youth at church. Such honesty greatly assists the parental conversation that must then take place, a conversation that is focused on explaining why such language is abhorrent, and why resisting the urge to be “cool” is so vital.

So what does such behavior reveal? Let me share a few thoughts:

1. The enemy is busy with his age old bag of tricks. It is quite clear he has his foot on the gas in the effort to attack our children with all manner of perversion. Moreover, he is using all available resources to accomplish his goals. Jesus had some rather strong words for those who participate in causing these children to stumble – it would be better that a great millstone be placed around their neck and for them to be tossed into the depths of the sea. If you are not familiar with what a millstone during the time of Jesus looked like, here is a picture. In this case a picture is certainly worth a thousand words.

Millstone Parents: Fight For Your Children
The good news is those who attempt to poison the minds of our children will receive from God their reward for such sinful behavior. However, we must all constantly ask ourselves if we too are behaving in a manner that might lead our children astray. What kind of example are we setting for our children when we fly off the handle, watch an inappropriate movie, or say something that should not be said ever, regardless if children are around or not.

2. Since the enemy is busy, parents must be equally busy. We live in an era described by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. This is a time of great difficulty. Our children are constantly being encouraged to be lovers of self, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to authority, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, unloving, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, and duplicitous. It is more important than ever for parents to actually parent. The hands-off approach taken by far too many parents, abdicating their God given responsibility to raise their children to schools and youth groups must stop immediately.


What are we as parents to be about doing?

1. The importance of God’s Word. A foundational activity in every believers home should be a family dedication to the reading, studying, meditation, and obedience to the Word of God. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 commands parents to teach the Word of God diligently to their children. Just in case parents are unsure as to what that entails, God follows up that command with a follow assignment, namely the need to teach our children the things of God when we walk, when we lie down, and when we rise up. In case that is still confusing, that essentially means all day long the things of God should be the focus of parenting. God’s law is to be a sign on our hands, frontlets to our eyes, and on the doorposts of our homes. Those confused by such ancient language should know that means God’s Word should be the focus of our thoughts, actions, and furthermore, God’s Word should be the very foundation of our homes.

2. Pray, pray, pray for your children. Pray that your children may “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Lift them up to the Lord and pray that “integrity and honesty be their virtue and their protection” (Ps. 25:21). Pray they may act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God (Micah 6:8). Pray that they may “lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:18-19). Additionally, pray with your children. Show them the importance of an active, consistent, and persistent prayer life.

3. Be active in the life of your children. While it is tempting to come home and plop on the couch after a long and exhausting day at work, please resist that temptation. Sit down with your children. Have a conversation with them about how their day went. Ask about their experiences and their conversations. While they may push back at you or wonder why you are so interested in what for them may seem like a whole lot of nothing, these are prime opportunities to find out who and what is influencing your child. The news can wait. It will rain or be sunny whether you watch the weather report or not. Those dishes will still be there. The laundry can wait to be folded. Investing time in the life of your child supersedes all those things.

One good way to strike up a conversation with your child is to get outdoors. Take a stroll around your neighborhood. Chisel the dust off your bicycles. It will be time well spent and in the process you will be a bit healthier to boot. The bottom line is find ways to invest yourself in the life of your child whatever and however that looks like for your family. Be sure when doing so to limit distractions. Tune out the surrounding noise and clamor and cultivate a relationship with your child. Engage in activities that will allow for conversation even though at first your child may try and give you the silent treatment.

I urge all parents to never forget we are in a battle for the hearts and minds of the next generation. Gird your loins and the loins of your children with truth. As a family, put on the breastplate of righteousness. Shod your feet with the gospel of peace. Take up the shield of faith. Finally, grab the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. We have been given this battle armor by God to wage war through the power of the Holy Spirit against this enemy that has set its face against our children.

Now get to it, turn off that computer, television, cell phone, or whatever you are reading this on and invest in your child! Remember the words of Nehemiah 4:14 – “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

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How We Do Family Worship

Posted by on Sep 29, 2014 in Featured, Marriage/Parenting/Singleness

How We Do Family Worship

Editor’s Note:

The purpose of this series is to help singles think through how to be single in the church, those who are married but don’t have kids to continue to pursue each other and those who are married to excel at parenting by the grace of God.

*****************single marriage parenting6 blue final329x200 How We Do Family Worship

I’m a big believer in family worship. I believe God has clearly called parents to intentionally teach their children the ways of God. But for some, the idea of family worship is a bit scary. Either they don’t know how to do it or they think it means three hours every night of exegetical study through Leviticus.

But family worship doesn’t have to be scary or boring or a drudgery. It can be simple. Here are five ways we do it:

1) Around the Table. Sometimes we do it at dinner, other times we do it at breakfast (especially if I’m home for those meals). We usually use some kind of tool. In the past we’ve used the Jesus StoryBook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones, a book every Christian parent should own. Right now we are using an excellent book, Proverbs for Kids. This is a terrific book takes a proverb and offers some practical spiritual truth applicable to kids. It doesn’t take very long and it always includes a relatable story. We decided to do Proverbs because we just felt our kids needed some relational wisdom during this season of their lives. I also highly recommend New City Catechism by The Gospel Coalition. There are other really good resources out there for children as well.

When we do this around the table, it’s very informal. I usually read some Scripture and do some explanation, then I ask the kids questions about it. Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we joke. After we are done, we usually offer a prayer. But we’re very intentional about teaching our kids about the Scriptures. The table is a great place to do it. We are all gathered, we’re enjoying God’s good provision of food and the grace of conversation. I think it’s important for families to share as many meals together as they can.

2) With a Hymnal or Singing. We don’t do this as often as we do the above, but every so often I will reach over and grab a hymnal and we’ll sing some songs together as a family. It can be really fun. What I love about the hymns is that they ground spiritual truth into the hearts of our children. We also like to listen to good Christian music in the car or at home. Sometimes words will come up, especially with hymns, that need explanation. This is a great way to share with our kids some good ideas and truth.

3) In everyday life situations. I love Moses instructions to the parents of Israel to teach God’s truth whenever their kids “sit down” and “rise” (Deut 6:7; 11:19). I don’t think this is a legalistic exercise. I think it is simply telling parents to use every opportunity that comes up, in daily life, to point to Jesus. We really try to do this and you’ll be surprised by the really cool conversations that come up. As a parent, you don’t have to do this in a scolding, lecture-type way. You can be fun, witty, and conversational.

Daily life presents golden opportunities for conversations about the gospel and the character of God. We’ve observed that sometimes these are more formative than the structured, sit-down, type of things we do. Our kids need to know that all of life is God’s, not just the space we reserve for him on Sunday. This is God’s world and we live in it, to worship and glorify Him.

4) Before Bed. We have some of our great conversations before bed. Well, at least on the nights we are not getting to bed late and just trying to get to bed ourselves! But many nights, we’re able to do a lot of praying. We try to have each kid pray to God, to get used to that idea. It can be a bit chaotic to keep the kids from messing around during prayer. But there are some moments where you hear your kid pray an incredibly honest, beautiful, heart-warming prayer to the Lord. And you, also, can model prayer when you pray in front of your children. We also try to pray for at least one missionary every night. We’ve had stretches where we’ve slacked on this a bit, but we try to get back to doing it. We also ask our kids, “So, who do you think we need to pray for tonight?”

5) With reading literature. This may be a bit of a stretch, since reading books other than the Bible may not technically be “family worship”, but it is part of teaching. We try to expose our kids to some good reading, both classics and biographies. As we’re reading, we try to share and explain Christian themes and concepts. We’re also fortunate that our homeschooling curriculum is heavy on literature. My oldest daughter Grace has already read several missionary biographies. Parents can do this in a variety of ways, but it’s really helpful, I think, for kids to hear good stories and in order to expand their wisdom and knowledge of God’s world.

Bottom Line: Our family doesn’t do worship perfectly and I’m sure there are better ways and resources than I’ve mentioned in this post. Every family has to figure out what works best for them; however, we should all strive to be intentional with our kids’ spiritual education.

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Unmasking the Erudite

Posted by on Sep 27, 2014 in The Gospel and the Christian Life

We live in a peculiar and unparalleled age of erudites. Because we live in such an age it is of great interest to discuss them: what it means to be one and why it’s important to unmask one.

What’s An Erudite You Say?

Well, an erudite is anyone who considers them self to be learned. Really anyone and everyone these days can be an erudite. Because of the vast knowledge and information that is accessible through the internet, everyone has something that they may safely profess to be an expert on.

I’ve known erudites on My Little Pony; I think my daughter is one of those. I’ve known erudites on Spiderman; that would be my son and maybe me too. I’ve known erudites all over Pinterest sharing their expertise on their craft; I think my wife is one of those, though most of the time she seems to want to deny it. I’ve known erudites on Reformation or Puritan pastors and theologians; I think I might even aspire to be one of those.

You might even go so far as to say an entire generation may be considered a generation of erudites. Really, one of the quintessential attributes of a hipster is being an erudite, and if you statistically look at the academic prowess of the Millennial generation, you’ll quickly learn that this generations’ parents spared no penny at educating that generation. Millennial-hipsters have been incubated in the embryonic juiciness of eruditehood. No doubt this will present some benefits and liabilities for the former and forthcoming generations.

On Being an Erudite

I like to consider myself an erudite, and really, don’t we all. We all want to be experts on something, right? And most of us think that we are. You might be an erudite on the Chicago Bears in the 1970′s or an erudite on Keynesian economics or an erudite on the dendrochronology of the Piney Woods. Whatever happens to be your forte, you probably take great pride in that knowledge.

Whatever the case is for you, it is imperative that you understand this about your eruditeness. Being an erudite is both easy and hard.

It’s easy in that you just have to be exceptionally studied in some narrow field of expertise. If one just reads all the books by a particular author, they fast become an erudite on that author. If one just listens to all the music of a particular artist or have vast knowledge on that genre, one fast becomes an erudite in that field. Really, all it takes is to have intense focus in a narrow field. And what makes it even easier is when there is not a lot of extant material in that field to study.

What’s hard about being an erudite is to remain humble about one’s knowledge. You see, a critical component of being an erudite is being perceived as an erudite. You’re not really one unless you’re recognized as one.

When I was in high school, my “group” that I hung out with had a knack for dubbing each other erudites in one field or another. We each had a title, “Czar”, that went with our field of expertise. They called me “THE Alternative Music Czar.” I earned this title because I constantly listened to The EDGE Alternative Rock Station, read Rolling Stone Magazine, had a membership to Columbia House Music (discounted Music CD’s Club), and acquired a library of a hundred CD’s of alternative rock music. I also went to a concert here or there as I had the freedom. I was a teen after all. If anyone wanted to know some generality about that field, I knew it, including many of the band members and the backstories of the bands. In the mind of my peers, I was recognized as the erudite of alternative rock music.

That kind of knowledge and recognition comes with a challenge, the challenge to be humble in that knowledge and recognition.

As the sage erudite Paul once said, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1). What we learn from Paul in this verse is that the best way to protect the erudite from being puffed up is to foster love concerning the erudite’s knowledge.

The kind of love that needs to be fostered is a selfless love that doesn’t want to simply display knowledge but impart knowledge. The kind of love that needs to be fostered is a patient knowledge that helps others discover what the erudite already knows. You see, most people who are not on par with the erudites knowledge in his or her field will likely be skeptical of the erudite. Does this person really have deep knowledge on this subject? How did they attain it? What is their credibility concerning this knowledge? How do I know I can trust them? The erudite must be willing to take time to patiently win the confidence of his or her skeptics.

Unmasking the Erudite 

But fostering patience and selflessness in the erudite is not enough. The erudite must also be unmasked.

What do I mean by this? Well, one day at school I met a challenger to my mantle of “The Alternative Music Czar.” Yes, I met someone who knew more about Gavin Rossdale (Lead for Bush), Gwen Stefani (Lead for No Doubt), and their romance. Not only that but that person unmasked me before all my friends. They exhibited how I really didn’t have all that much knowledge on alternative music after all. Sure, I had a lot of music and had read some about the artists, but I had barely even scratched the surface on that field. I really only had an elementary understanding.

Really, that’s pretty much the case for most of us. As much as we think we are an erudite, there will always be another, someone who’s knowledge goes far deeper than even ours. The younger you are the easier it is to unmask you. Some of us talk a really good talk. We’re able to read a couple books on one narrow field and make it look like we are an expert. But, if we are in a conversation with the right person, or wrong person for that matter, before long we’re unmasked. We really aren’t the erudite that we present ourselves to be.

Unmasked Before the One True Erudite

Your eruditeness may not be unmasked in this life as it will one day. Some of us are actually pretty clever and are able to carefully conceal the chinks in our erudite armor. But at some point we will all be unmasked before the Creator and Judge, the one who stretched the canvas of the heavens, placed the stars in their orbit, and set the current of the seas. That moment will involve utter nakedness before him.

We will feel much like Job did upon hearing these words out of the whirlwind:

Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his? Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity; clothe yourself with glory and splendor. Pour out the overflowings of your anger, and look on everyone who is proud and abase him. Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low and tread down the wicked where they stand. Hide them all in the dust together; bind their faces in the world below. Then will I also acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you. (Job 40:7-14)

Of course the discourse continues on for quite some time, and when it comes to a close Job responds in humility and repentance. He says, “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:3). Job had thought himself an erudite on God. What he discovered is that he had only scratched the surface on his knowledge. It wasn’t until God revealed himself to Job that he truly gripped the inadequacy of his understanding. Here the erudite, Job, became unmasked as he peered into and listened to the masked God in the whirlwind.

And that’s us. We’re all Job. We’re all erudites waiting to be unmasked. And one day that will happen. Are you ready to be unmasked? If you are, then what’s astonishingly different about that day and Job’s day is that on that day we’ll be unmasked before this God, and he too will be unmasked before us as well. He’ll see us naked before him, and we’ll see him in his full glory and splendor. We will not be ashamed of being unmasked and naked erudites because he has accepted us and found us pleasing in his eyes. We won’t want that mask anymore. We won’t want that recognition. We’ll be okay with who we really are, the unmasked erudite, the naked and without shame Adam.

This post first appeared at Joey’s blog and is posted here with his permission.

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What It Means To Fear The Lord

Posted by on Sep 26, 2014 in Featured, The Gospel and the Christian Life

What It Means To Fear The Lord

In the Wisdom Literature there is no more central concept than the fear of the LORD. It is life. It is reality. It’s essential to operating, under the Lordship of Jesus, in this world.

And yet, it seems like a portable definition of this ultra-important task is difficult to come by—like catching the morning fog in a fish net.


There is no straight up equivalent in English to this Hebrew concept. We don’t have a word for this kind of “fear.”

The fear of the Lord doesn’t mean to be afraid of the Lord.

As Christians, we don’t have to be afraid of our Father, Brother, or the Holy Spirit. They are for us, not against us. When we know the love of Christ, it drives out fear. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).

We aren’t to have that kind of fear.

Adam and Eve were afraid of God because they did not fear God.

We know that because after Adam and Eve sinned with Satan, they hid from God; they were afraid. Adam said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself”(Gen. 3:10). The gospel, the covering of Christ’s righteousness to our lives, liberates us from being afraid of God. We are now totally accepted.


The fear of the Lord involves reverence, honor, submission, and obedience. We can define the fear of the Lord like this:

The fear of the Lord is the fear of dishonoring the Lord; it is a foundational eagerness to glorify God in all of life.

The fear of the Lord is the posture of 1 Corinthians 10:31—all of life is for the glory of God. The fear of the Lord echoes 2 Corinthians 5:9—it is my ambition to please him!

  • The fear of the Lord is the essence of wisdom.
  • The fear of the Lord is pure; it never fades.
  • The fear of the Lord can be taught; this is discipleship.
  • The fear of the Lord requires us to hate evil, because we love his glory.
  • The fear of the Lord keeps us from compromising our values.

In all of our gospel-drivenness, let’s remember to fear the Lord our God. We must. This is wisdom. This is a gospel-formed life. It is given to us by God our Savior.

Job 28:28 And he said to man,
‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
and to turn away from evil is understanding.’”

Psa. 19:9 the fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true,
and righteous altogether.

Psa. 34:11    Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

Psa. 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!

Prov. 1:7   The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Prov. 1:29 Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the LORD

Prov. 2:5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.

Prov. 8:13 The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.

Prov. 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Prov. 10:27 The fear of the LORD prolongs life,
but the years of the wicked will be short.

Prov. 14:26 In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.
27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,
that one may turn away from the snares of death.

Prov. 15:16 Better is a little with the fear of the LORD
than great treasure and trouble with it.

Prov. 15:33 The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom,
and humility comes before honor.

Prov. 16:6 By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil.

Prov. 19:23 The fear of the LORD leads to life,
and whoever has it rests satisfied;
he will not be visited by harm.

Prov. 22:4 The reward for humility and fear of the LORD
is riches and honor and life.

Prov. 23:17 Let not your heart envy sinners,
but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day.

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Forty powerful reasons to avoid pornography

Posted by on Sep 26, 2014 in Featured, Marriage/Parenting/Singleness, Sexual Sin

Forty powerful reasons to avoid pornography

Editor’s Note:

The purpose of this series is to help singles think through how to be single in the church, those who are married but don’t have kids to continue to pursue each other and those who are married to excel at parenting by the grace of God.

*****************single marriage parenting6 blue final329x200 Forty powerful reasons to avoid pornography

This material was originally written by Daniel Henderson at – and adapted by Dr. Dave Earley at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary

Forty powerful reasons to avoid pornography

  1. I enjoy the pleasure of a love relationship with God.
  2. I fulfill my true identity as a child of God.
  3. I experience God’s provision of empowering grace.
  4. I enjoy my spiritual freedom to its fullest.
  5. I avoid a life pattern of deception.
  6. I cultivate a soft and sensitive conscience.
  7. I turn away from the solicitation of harlots in my heart.
  8. I refuse the temptation of idolatry.
  9. I prove to be a faithful steward of my money.
  10. I prove to be a faithful steward of my time.
  11. I abstain from any promotion and support of the pornography industry.
  12. I preserve God’s gift of loving sexual expression for its intended purpose.
  13. I protect the purity and power of my God-given imagination.
  14. I develop disciplined character.
  15. I guard the integrity of my Christian testimony.
  16. I promote health and harmony in the body of Christ.
  17. I cultivate a stronger resistance to future interpersonal sexual sin.
  18. I nurture the proper biblical view of the sanctity of womanhood.
  19. I relate to women as equals and persons of ultimate worth.
  20. I learn to live in reality rather than fantasy.
  21. I steer clear of unnecessary personal guilt and shame.
  22. I steer clear of unnecessary personal guilt and shame.
  23. I cultivate a lifestyle of contentment and satisfaction.
  24. I experience the blessing of living as a servant.
  25. I learn the relational skills of authentic intimacy.
  26. I avoid future mental, emotional, and spiritual scars on my life.
  27. I experience the joy of the Christian life.
  28. I learn to deal with the causes of my problems rather than treating symptoms.
  29. I prevent potential temptations for others in my sphere of influence.
  30. I honor the trust and prayer support of those who have invested in my spiritual life.

If I Am Married

  1. I avoid adultery in my heart.
  2. I encourage my wife’s trust.
  3. I honor my vow of marital purity and faithfulness.
  4. I keep my marriage union pure from fantasies of other women.
  5. I communicate acceptance and honor toward my wife.
  6. I avoid the pathway that could easily result in infidelity.

If I Have Children

  1. I minimize the risk of my children being exposed to pornography.
  2. I model strong and genuine moral values for my children.
  3. I avoid embarrassing and embittering my children.
  4. I encourage all of the above positive qualities in their lives.
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The Most Shared Verses In Their Context (2 Timothy 1:7)

Posted by on Sep 25, 2014 in Featured, The Gospel and the Christian Life

The Most Shared Verses In Their Context (2 Timothy 1:7)

At the end of last year, YouVersion highlighted the top 10 Bible verses that were shared the most. I found the list interesting and thought that it could be helpful to understand them in their original context. Today we are looking at 2 Timothy 1:7–which according to YouVersion was the ninth-most shared verse in 2013.

The Verse:

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control”. (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)

The Context:

2 Timothy 1:6-14 is Paul’s challenge to Timothy to boldly and courageously guard the good deposit (1:14) that has been entrusted to him.

You will notice that verse 7 begins with the word “for”. This word is usually a ground—meaning that it is the reason given for the previous statement. Let us follow Paul’s train of thought. In verse 5 Paul says that he is reminded of Timothy’s sincere faith and how this faith came from his mother and grandmother. Paul is certain that this same faith dwells in Timothy. And so “for this reason” Timothy ought to fan into flame the gift of God.

Timothy has an option. He can fan into flame this gift of God or he can let it grow cold. Paul stands before him as a man that has fanned his gifts into flame. But Paul also stands before young Timothy as a man that is suffering as a prisoner because of this gift. If Timothy fans this gift into flame then it is quite likely that suffering awaits him. Letting that fire grow cold would likely mean a life marked with less suffering.

And so Paul reminds Timothy that God gave them a spirit of power and love and self-control and not one of timidity. Paul gets at his point in verse 8-14 when he tells Timothy to not be ashamed but to share in this suffering of the gospel and guard this good deposit that has been entrusted to him.

The Meaning

We live in a scary world and so we like verses that remind us to not be big chickens. 2 Timothy 1:7 is such a verse, but I believe we misapply it. We imagine that Timothy is a weak-kneed introvert that is scared to death to knock on his neighbors door an tell her about Jesus. But there is no indication that Timothy is any more timid than the rest of us if faced with his situation.

With this false story in mind we apply 2 Timothy 1:7 to our situations which might cause cowardice. A young man trying not to wet himself as he asks his girlfriend’s dad for her hand in marriage quotes 2 Timothy 1:7 to himself as a reminder to buck up. A young woman scared to death of a difficult job interview quotes 2 Timothy 1:7 to remind her to be bold and to be who she was made to be.

Those might be fitting applications of 2 Timothy 1:7, but they are not the near application. The near application here is that the gospel and its gifts ought to be fanned into flame even if such a fanning would increase our persecution. And the backbone for such a statement is that God hasn’t called us to be cowards with his precious gospel. God has given to us a spirit that is able to stand up in the midst of suffering with power, love, and self-control.

Many people use 2 Timothy 1:7 as an encouragement in personal evangelism. But should we? I believe it is a fitting application. While we might want to also look at the idolatrous reasons why we are afraid, it is also true that proclaiming the gospel is tough work. There is an element of suffering that is going to be attached to missions work. Sharing Jesus without fear might mean that you haven’t truly counted the cost. When legit fear rears its ugly head remember that the Spirit that indwells you not cowardly with the gospel.


If you are a believer, then you are at a similar crossroads as Timothy. Will you fan into flame the gift of God—even knowing that such a thing will likely lead to suffering? Or will you let it grow cold and try to keep one bare foot on holy ground while keeping that other shoe-laced up in comfort?

Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world…

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