When this finds you I will be getting ready to head to the Middle East with the U.S. Army. I would appreciate all of your prayers as I shepherd approximately 600 soldiers (may be closer to 800) as well as civilian contractors and those operating in our area of operations. Please pray for God’s protection upon my family and His peace (that surpasses all understanding). My intent with the thoughts of the month is to encourage you and your ministries, share what God’s been teaching me, and allow you to use it and reuse it however God leads. This one will be more of where God has me.In 2 Timothy 4:1-5 it says, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
As many of you know Paul is writing to Timothy, a young Pastor and co-laborer to encourage and exhort him on the requirements, challenges, and difficulties of ministry. Paul discipled, trained, developed, and launched Timothy into ministry. Are we doing that? Are we preparing those that will continue to carry the torch when our time has come to an end? Paul is awaiting execution and knows the end is near, but also knows that his physical end is not the end of ministry or Christ’s redemptive work in mankind. If you were Paul, would you be encouraged or discouraged by your successors? What are you (we) doing to develop, train, and ultimately launch them.
Early on in my walk with Christ, someone said that we all need a Paul (mentor), a Barnabas (co-laborer), and a Timothy (a pupil/student). I have heard it many times since then, but how true it is. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have those relationships in my life. Where are you at? Do you have them?
We are to preach the Word. What a humbling opportunity we have. God has called us to preach “His Word”; if we are teaching or preaching anything else we are wasting our time and accomplishing nothing. We are not only to preach the Word; we are to be ready “in and out” of season. In order to accomplish this takes preparation. Living in Arizona we don’t have seasons like other parts of the U.S. or world for that matter. It doesn’t take a lot of preparation to get ready for the next season, because there isn’t much change. It is either nice or hot. Ministry is not this way though. It requires constant preparation. To be ready when we are supposed to be is relatively easy, but what about when we are not. What do we do when it is “out of season”? Are we still prepared? Are we ready for the challenges?
When is the best time to prepare for a storm? Before hand is always much easier than during. This requires wisdom on our part. What arewe doing now to prepare for tomorrow, next week, and next year? Storms don’t always tell you they are coming. The U.S. Army doesn’t always give you months of notice. Life doesn’t always go as planned. Life happens, Ministry happens, are you (we) prepared, both in and out of season?
My society and culture perplexes me at times. I find myself shaking my head at what they believe, who they listen to, and what they do. I really shouldn’t be perplexed though. They are doing what their natural disposition is. They are following their natural desires and doing what Paul said would happen; not listening to sound teaching (truth), suit their own passions, and wander off into myths.
The question I should ask is not what are they doing, but what am I doing about it? Am I ready to preach the word in and out of season? Am I ready when it isn’t convenient?
I will end like Paul did in this section, “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry”, we never do this alone. Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit we are incapable of it.