Pressing On

with THE WORD

A study of the Scriptures to discover who God is, what He is like, and how to partner with Him now.

Filtering by Category: Titus

Listening and Doing

Titus 3:14-15 Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.  Everyone with me sends you greetings.  Greet those who love us in the faith.  Grace be with you all.

Paul ends his letter with a similar personal touch that began the letter with.  He deeply cares for his young protégée Titus, and Paul wants him to know that there is love and support from other believers for the Cretan church.

Interestingly enough, the final you in the last sentence, Grace be with you all, is plural.  While Paul obviously desires that the Cretans would consciously live within God’s grace, the plural here seems to indicate that this letter was to be read to the entire Cretan congregation.  Having the letter read aloud was normal for Paul’s letters that were sent to an entire church; however, Paul also expects that his personal letter to Titus would be shared with the general church audience.

Hearing the Scriptures has a different effect on us than simply reading the Scriptures.  I encourage you to try this exercise – read Paul’s entire letter to Titus out loud.  It will take less than 10 minutes and, based upon what we’ve learned by studying this text, think about what topics or ideas jump out at you when you hear the letter read aloud.  Make a note of those observations and talk to God about them.

A second exercise to try – which may be even better than the first – would be to have someone else read Titus to you.  Don’t follow along in the text.  Just listen.  Hearing someone else convey the Scriptures while we intently listen puts us into the sandals of the letter’s first recipients.  Having the letter read to us also gives us the chance to learn something new, as the reader may emphasize the words in the text in ways that we normally wouldn’t when we simply read it in our minds.

If you try either of the exercises (and I hope you try both), you’ll certainly encounter Paul’s major theme that we’ve seen throughout the letter – namely that God’s people should purposely focus on doing good.  Eight times in the forty-six verses, Paul brings up the topic of doing good.  That’s a lot of emphasis within such a short letter, but that was the Cretan believers’ next step.  Based upon their new relationship with God, which is due to Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, the Cretan believers were to actively pursue becoming change-agents for good within the corrupt society around them.

Here is a rundown of Paul’s direct mentionings of doing good:

1:8 Church leaders should be one who loves what is good
1:16 False teachers are unfit for doing anything good
2:3 Older women are to teach what is good to the younger women
2:7 For the young men, Titus is to set an example by doing what is good
2:14 Jesus redeemed us from sin so that we would be eager to do what is good
3:1 All believers are to be ready to do whatever is good
3:8 Knowing the salvation message helps believers to devote themselves to doing what is good
3:14 Believers must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good

Now that we’ve finished our look into Paul’s letter to Titus, we have a question to consider:

Will I choose to act like the Cretan I was before I met Jesus, or will I devote myself to living the life that he rescued me for?

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Learning to do good

As Paul closes his letter to Titus, he has one last instruction:

Titus 3:13-14 Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way and see that they have everything they need.  Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.

God doesn’t give instructions or directions in the Bible as mere talking points, rather the truths we encounter are meant to be lived out in daily lives.  However, Paul also recognizes that doing what is good isn’t as simple as “always doing it” or “always not doing it”.  Notice that he tells Titus “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good”.  We must learn to be devoted to doing good in every situation.  Making these truths a lifestyle will take some time to be developed…but it is certainly achievable.

To help the Cretan believers get started on the path to making a habit of doing good, Paul ends the letter by giving the believers an opportunity to apply what they’ve learned.  That is Paul’s point here…now that you’ve been instructed in these things, the next step is to put these things into practice.

Looking at the words Paul chooses helps the Cretans see how much he wants them to take advantage of this opportunity.  The phrase do everything you can means to do something earnestly, zealously, or with special urgency.  The first step in any process is always the hardest; it is the step we are most timid about taking.  The success or failure that occurs with the first step typically sets a tone for the success of a project.  As such, Paul wants the Cretans to make a special effort to make their first step a good one.

Helping Zenas and Apollos would have been an easy first step for the Cretan believers.  They would get an opportunity to help spread the gospel to other regions, and as a result, the missionaries would be able to continue their journey with fresh supplies.  This opportunity created a win-win situation for both the givers and those receiving.

When we support missionaries, we are supporting their ability to fulfill their calling of spreading the gospel…but we’re also developing the characteristics that God wants to grow in us.  Giving is a great opportunity for us to learn how to do what is good.  It mimics God’s generosity toward us, and anytime we imitate our Creator, we are productively fulfilling the purpose of our lives.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Playing favorites

Titus 3:13 Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way and see that they have everything they need. 

Last time, we were introduced to Apollos and caught a glimpse of his impact on the churches in the known world.  However, there is another important lesson to learn with a continued look at his ministry.

Apollos later went to Corinth (Acts 19:1), where he again successfully ministered to the believers.  His teaching was so well respected, that the believers in Corinth actually placed Apollos at the same teaching level as Peter, Paul, and even Jesus.  The debate of which-teacher-to-follow became such a problem in the Corinthian church that a good portion of one letter Paul wrote was to correct them in how they should be viewing himself and Apollos.

1 Corinthians 1:11-13 My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.  What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas (Peter)”; still another, “I follow Christ”.  Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Were you baptized into the name of Paul?

Nowadays, if a situation like this arose and one of the popular teachers wrote a letter concerning how the congregation should view the other teachers, I would expect the letter to be very territorial.  Given today’s denominational climate in America, it’s easy to envision a letter being written that sounds theologically pretty, but the author’s core message is that the believers should listen to him only.  His arguments would sound something like – “I am best suited to help you develop your relationship with Christ”, or that “Since I ministered to you first, you should stick with me”, or he could suggest that the other preacher’s teaching style or approach to spreading the gospel was inadequate.  Unfortunately, concern for a congregation is also a potential mask for a preacher’s ego and pride.

However, Paul is not one to play these kinds of games.  Direct and to the point, Paul’s main concern was that the believers were properly focusing on Christ…and not on who the message of Christ was coming from or what teaching style the person used.

1 Corinthians 3:5-9 What, after all, is Apollos?  And what is Paul?  Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task.  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.  For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

All teachers, preachers, and church leaders are susceptible to the trap of thinking that it is “my church, or “my” class, or “my” ministry.  The cure for this selfish pitfall is the same for the teacher as it is for those who follow the teacher…our focus must be on God, for he is the one who makes things grow

A congregation does not grow because the preacher is preaching and an individual does not grow because of the particular teacher they are listening to.  The work of preachers, teachers, and church leaders is to provide the best conditions for people to grow.  Ultimately, it was God that built us with the capacity for growth in relationship to him, and the responsibility for the development of that relationship is between the individual and God. 

1 Corinthians 3:21-23 So then, no more boasting about men!  All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

Our favorite teacher is simply a servant of the God we love.  Don’t look for them to make you grow.  Don’t put God’s responsibility on your teacher.

Since Paul was the one who started the church in Corinth, he could have been territorial about which teacher they should be follow; however, he chose not to be.  The debate about which teacher to follow was already dividing the congregation, and could have easily led to a church split.  Imagine the damage to the church’s reputation!  A division of ‘Paul vs. Apollos’ could have also spread to the young churches in other regions if Paul had either ignored or participated in their debate.

Instead, Paul kept his pride in check and didn’t fuel the fire of their arguments.  Instead, he promoted harmony within the church by turning their attention appropriately towards Christ.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Unknown impact

As Paul closes his letter, he gives Titus one final charge:

Titus 3:13 Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way and see that they have everything they need. 

Based on this statement, it is likely that that Zenas and Apollos were the ones who delivered Paul’s letter to Titus.  Although Zenas isn’t mentioned anywhere else in Scripture, Apollos was a well-known preacher during the first century.  He preached in many of the same regions that Paul did, and their ministries sometimes overlapped.

Interestingly enough, Apollos’ ministry began as an indirect result of Paul’s second missionary journey.  Paul met, befriended, and ministered alongside a couple named Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth.  After a year and a half, they traveled to Ephesus – Aquila and Priscilla stayed there, while Paul continued on to Caesarea and Antioch.  It’s in Ephesus that we first meet Apollos:

Acts 18:24-26 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus.  He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.  He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John.  He began to speak boldly in the synagogue.  When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.

What Aquila and Priscilla learned from Paul, they passed on to Apollos.  In heeding their counsel, Apollos finally met the Savior he had been looking forward to, based upon his understanding of the Scriptures.  His next step was to share with others his new relationship with God:

Acts 18:27-28 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him.  On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed.  For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

Although Paul wasn’t directly involved in Apollos’ conversion, his previous actions of faithfully spreading the gospel led up to the moment when Aquila and Priscilla could lead Apollos to a better understanding of Jesus.  Paul, Aquila, or Priscilla would have had no foresight that their actions would have led to the rise of such a dynamic speaker and teacher for Christ.  However, the faithful actions of those three people eventually led to the encouragement and strengthening of many believers across the known world.

Our takeaway should be the same – be faithful in what God has asked us to do.  You never know when your mentoring of just one person will impact scores of other people.  Maybe you’ll see the fruits of those labors, or even get to work with your spiritual grand-children, like Paul eventually did when Apollos delivered the letter to Titus.  Or perhaps we’ll have to wait until Heaven to find out the full impact of our work for Jesus.

The point is to be faithful, and trust that God knows what to do with the fruit of our labor with him.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Providing relief

“I need a break.”

How many times have we walked into our home or sat at our desk…and muttered that phrase?

We recognize the value of getting even a few moments away from our normal daily activities and responsibilities.  In sports we see this concept clearly.  Backups – second and third string players – have an important role on the team.  A baseball team will pull the starter and bring in a relief pitcher to close out the final innings.  This isn’t usually a commentary on the starting pitcher, but a strategic choice to rest the starter to ensure that he will be recovered and ready for his next game.  A backup running back may only get seven scattered carries a game, but the carries are timed so that the starter can catch his breath off the field.  On any team, when a starter gets injured, the common phrase uttered is “Next man up!”, and the backup is expected to step in and fill the starter’s role for as long as needed until the starter has recovered from his injury.

We see this in business as well.  Before a manager goes on vacation or to a conference, she will delegate her responsibilities to those who have been prepared to “hold the fort down” and keep the department running.  They aren’t expected to perform the manager’s job forever, but just until she returns.  This same concept is also necessary, but not seemingly practiced as much, within the church leadership.  Some lead pastors never take a Sunday off, and most do not take all the vacation time allotted by the church.

As Paul closes out his letter to Titus, he gives the following instructions:

Titus 3:12 As soon as I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, because I have decide to winter there.

There are several things worth noting here:

First, Paul was training others to step in and lead so that Titus could have a break.  Paul had other trusted associates and people he had mentored who could step in and lead for a little while.  Titus needed a “season” to rest.  Even if it is just the boat ride from Crete to Nicopolis, Titus would have a break from the day-to-day pressures and responsibility of leading an island full of churches.

Second, Titus’ rest wouldn’t be just lying on a beach without having responsibility, but would be found in facetime with Paul.  Titus would be poured into instead of constantly being poured out of.  He would continue to work for God both with Paul and in other missionary assignments (2 Timothy 4:10).  However, ancient writings tell of him returning to Crete, finishing his life’s work among these people that he loved.

Third, Paul wanted Titus to make this trip away from Crete a priority.  Paul specifically stated do your best to come to me at Nicopolis – the Greek phase for do your best means to be eager to do something or to make every effort to do a task.  Getting a break was to be part of Titus’ mission.

If you are in ministry, when was the last time you had a break?  Are you training others to lead and allowing them to relief-pitch for you?

If you are not in ministry, how can you help your pastor?  Look for ways to take the pressure off of him for a little while.  Volunteer to handle something he normally would do but doesn’t necessarily have to, cook his family dinner one night, and definitely encourage him to take a vacation that includes a Sunday away.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Avoiding foolish controversies

We like to argue and debate.  From the local bar to nationally televised Presidential campaigns, we love to discuss the issues.  Even those of us that avoid conflict will tune in to a radio broadcast or to TV shows “just to hear what they’ll say next”.  Controversy also drives our 24 hour “news” networks.  We’ve even gotten to the point as a society that if there isn’t controversy, then we’ll make a situation into one.  We gripe about it, but then we turn around and eat it up like junk food.

However, when the levels of controversy we observe in society is found within our homes, life gets messy real quick.  Lines are drawn and feelings are hurt…finding consensus is difficult, if not sometimes impossible.  Relationships break down due to prolonged arguments and quarrels.  While there are subjects that are critical to a family’s foundation, we must guard against making mountains out of molehills.  As our children have grown up, my wife and I are constantly checking with each other to ensure that main things are still the main things…and that we’re not having controversies over subjects that, in the end, really don’t matter or don’t have a significant impact on how our family functions.

The same trouble with minor topics becoming major controversies can be found within the church family, and it is not a new problem for God’s family.  After encouraging Titus to instruct the Cretan believers to devote themselves to doing what is good, Paul immediately follows up with this warning:

Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.

Within the immediate context of Paul’s letter, these arguments and quarrels about the law were most likely coming from those in circumcision group Paul noted in Chapter 1.  These were the people who wrongly insisted that the gospel was “Jesus + the law = salvation from sin”.  However, they would often argue about what, exactly, adherence to the law really meant.  They would debate things like “How many steps a person could take on a Sabbath before walking becomes work and you break the commandment of keeping the Sabbath holy?” or “Should a Jew eat an egg laid on a festival day?” or “What sort of wick and oil should a Jew use for candles he burns on the Sabbath?”

While debating these kinds of questions may seem silly to us, the vast majority of church splits in modern times have nothing to do with doctrinal issues.  Churches have split over the color of the carpet in the sanctuary, the pronunciation of a Hebrew letter, the style of worship music, and even a piano bench…just to name a few examples.  

Paul is instructing Titus not just to avoid these pointless arguments, but to confront them head-on:

Titus 3:10-11 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time.  After that, have nothing to do with him.  You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

They were warped, sinful, and self-condemned because the controversies they were wasting their time with were ultimately self-centered endeavors – these divisive people were motivated by pride and self rather than by a relationship with God.  The same rings true for those involved in most modern-day church splits, too.

Let’s keep the main things as the “main things” and not waste our time on minor-level preferences that focus on our individual wants.  Instead, let’s follow Paul’s instruction:

Titus 3:8 I want you to stress these things [healthy teachings of salvation from sin], so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.  These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Excellent and profitable

Titus 3:8 This is a trustworthy saying.  And I want you to stress these things,

The New Testament church was living during the time when the New Testament was being written.  While that seems like an obvious statement, we need to remember that when Paul wrote this letter to Titus, the amount of Scripture available to believers was significantly less that what is available to us. 

If an actual parchment copy was available, then the Cretan believers would have had the Old Testament, and perhaps a few of Paul’s early letters.  That’s it.  So the first century church developed Creeds, or statements that could be memorized, which explained their faith in Jesus and encouraged the believers to live out their faith before others.  These Creeds needed to be dependable and worthy of confidence, short enough to memorize, and pity enough to communicate truth.  The section we have been looking at contains one of those statements.

Titus 3:3-7 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.  We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.  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, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

While it might seem impossible to memorize this much of Scripture all at once…when we’re honest with ourselves, we know many songs longer than these verses, and we know the songs word-for-word as soon as we hear the first three chords. 

Memorizing these five verses helped the first century believers stay on track with their relationships with God and with those around them.  If we take the time and put in a little effort, they can be the same life-giving reminder to us as well.

But you don’t have to take my word for it, take a look at what Paul told Titus about this Creed:

Titus 3:8 And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.  These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Strive to have everything we do be something both excellent and profitable.  Committing God’s truth to memory will definitely do that.  You’ll be surprised at how easy it really is to memorize Scripture, and you’ll be even more amazed at the impact it will have on your life.

Keep Pressing,
Ke

Great grace, great love

Titus 3:5-6 ...He [God the Father] saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior

All three members of the Trinity – God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit – participated in securing our salvation from sin’s ultimate penalty.  Without God acting on our behalf, we would have been eternally separated from God and unable to become whom God created us to be. 

While our rescue from eternal death was God’s primary motivation, it wasn’t the only outcome from what God did for us.  Paul continues and explains God’s motivation in providing such a great salvation:

Titus 3:7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

To be justified means to be declared legally righteous.  Not guilty of the sin I’ve committed.  Since Jesus paid the penalty for all of humanity’s sin, and I have accepted that he took the punishment I deserved, I cannot be condemned to eternal separation from God.  As Paul said in his letter to the believers in Rome:

Romans 8:1-2 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

But did you catch what Paul was saying to Titus?  There is more to a believer’s life, something that goes beyond the initial salvation moment and experience.

Titus 3:7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

I have often heard justification explained as God treating the believer “just-as-if-I-had-never-sinned”, however Paul is saying that there is more to it than that.  We become heirs, we now have hope in an eternal future of life with God.  Perhaps a better statement for justification would be that God now treats the believer “just-as-if-I-were-Jesus-himself”.

While I am now treated as if I were sinless, I am also received as a member of the family and brought into the relationship found within the Trinity.  That does not mean that I become God, but I am loved as much as God the Father loves God the Son…which is an eternal, unbreakable love.  We are given privileges unknown to any other created being…and it’s all because we are associated with Jesus.

Also notice how we are justified…it is by his grace.  Not by anything we did or will do.  We saw earlier that our rescue was not because of righteous things we had done, it’s all a gift. 

How great is God’s love toward us?!

Keep Pressing,
Ken

The Trinity in action

Did you know that there are some words common to Christian discussions, which are not found in the Scriptures?  Two examples include the words “Atheism” and “Bible”.  Try to find them in a concordance (a dictionary-type book that alphabetically lists all words used in the Scriptures), and you won’t find them.  However, the concept of both Atheistic beliefs and the collection of God-inspired books forming the Bible are clearly taught within God’s Word.

Atheistic beliefs:
Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

God inspires the Bible:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Another Christian term that critics like to point out as being “un-Biblical” because it is not found in the Bible is the word Trinity.  Many believers struggle to understand, let alone explain, the concept of a 3-person/1-being God.  God has always been “one” in direction, purpose, and essence. 

Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

However, we do find throughout Scripture that each person – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – are identified as God (Galatians 1:1, Titus 2:13, Romans 8:14), and each person relates to the others in specific, unique roles and actions (John 15:26, Hebrews 9:14, 1 Peter 1:3).  There are many other Scripture references that could be used to further these points, but the ones cited are a good starting place.

While we may not fully understand all the particulars of how God is like this, we can certainly recognize the Trinity when we see it in action.  Paul brings up the concept of the Trinity as he instructs Titus to teach the Cretans.  Look for the actions of each member:

Titus 3:4-6 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, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior

When we read these verses, we find that Paul refers to both God the Father and Jesus Christ as Savior and also states that it is the actions performed by the Holy Spirit that saved us.  The fullness of the Godhead, all three persons of the Trinity, were involved with our rescue from the penalty of our sinful living. 

You can easily tell the importance of a project based upon the rank of the one who leads it.  A project led by a Manager has a different emphasis from a project personally led by the CEO.  Given that all three members of the Trinity participated in our salvation…the value that God placed on us and our rescue cannot be understated.

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit acted in concert to redeem us, and not because of righteous things we had done, but because of [God’s] mercy.

When I stop, take a deep breath, and let that one truth sink in…it blows my mind.  Literally makes my head hurt.  I struggle to fathom it.  It’s almost too good to be true, right?

Gifts are like that.  Spend some time thinking about it, you’ll be glad you did.  When you’ve fully wrestled with it, when you’ve accepted his gift that none of us deserve, there’s only one thing left to say:

“Thank you.”

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Our greatest need

Life is messy.  Our selfishness and sin tangles up everything, doesn’t it?  I can make such a tangled mess out of my life that I am bound by knots that I cannot undo…however, our sin-soaked human condition is made even more difficult as each of our tangled messes become interwoven in everyone else’s tangled messes.  Every mess we face is caused by either our own selfishness or someone else’s selfishness. When we recognize our sin for what it is, we quickly realize that life is so messy that we could never un-messy it.

Titus 3:3-4 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.  We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But…

In our heart-of-hearts, when we are honest…that is who we were.  Disobedient fools that happily chased and submitted to all kinds of destructive behaviors.  We lived in constant suspicion and envy of others, hating anyone who appeared to have something we did not.  Every aspect of our existence was focused completely on ourselves.

The word “but” always signals a change in direction.  It is a key term to look for when we read the Scriptures.  “But” tells us that the subject matter is about to change, that something different is coming.

Titus 3:4-5 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.

In direct contrast to the hateful, envious, disobedient mess that all people are in, God steps in to rescue us.  God intervened in the mess of our sinful lives.  When our lives were full of malice, envy, and hate – God stepped in with kindness, love, and mercy.

These qualities of God and his salvation are the polar opposite of the qualities we possessed.

And just in case we ever think that we maybe earned it, or we somehow convinced God to save us, or that we were “good enough” – Paul instructs us that God’s rescue was not because of righteous things we had done

but because of his mercy – in direct contrast to any outside influence of our works, (because there wasn’t any), God’s motivation for saving humanity comes from his own mercy.  Mercy is defined as the moral quality of feeling compassion and especially showing kindness toward someone in need.  What better way to describe the entire human race? 

We needed someone to feel compassion toward us, to act in kindness on our behalf, someone to deal with our need to have our sin nature resolved.  We couldn’t do it – individually or corporately – and there was nothing about us that could influence God to act on our behalf.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

While we were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures…living in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.

We couldn’t fix our mess.  So God did for us what we could never do for ourselves.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Remember to remember

Paul has spent a large amount of his letter giving instructions about how a believer’s life should look.  Our lives are to be an out-pouring of our relationship with our Savior.  Paul repeatedly instructs Titus to focus on doing good, and he provides suggestions on how the Cretans should be doing good as well:

Titus 3:1-2 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

This is certainly not an easy list, especially the last one.  Humility is a difficult character trait to develop around the people we love and like…but to demonstrate it toward all men?

To show true humility would be to intentionally put others’ interests ahead of our own, to manifest our care of others in a gentle manner, with meekness.  Meekness means to have a person’s strengths be fully under their control.  A tamed stallion remains just as strong when he was wild; however, now that he is tamed, his meekness allows his strength to be put to good use.  When we show true humility toward all men, we are taking control of our strengths and desires, using them for the betterment of the people around us.

While that sounds all well and good…what immediately comes to mind is that people are generally selfish, rude, uninterested in spiritual matters, suspicious, and focused on all the wants/needs of this life.

And Paul doesn’t disagree with that assessment, either.

Titus 3:3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.  We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.

I love how Paul says “we” – that at one time we too were foolish.  Paul is including himself with these non-Jewish Cretans when he describes just how bad off they all were in their sinful lives.  Paul wants them to remember that at one point, the Cretan believers were outsiders too!

Our tendency to get wrapped up in “Christian living” has the ability to isolate us from those outside of the faith.  I’ve heard it said that it takes a new Christian about 3 years to completely remove from their lives all non-essential interactions with non-Christians.  We believers tend to form a holy huddle and do “Christian” things with only “Christian” people.  

This is a terrible habit, and Paul wants the Cretan believers to avoid this kind of behavior.  By having them act in humility toward all men and by bringing up their common background, Paul’s message to the new Cretan church is simple – Don’t forget where you came from.

We used to be in the same mess that non-believers find themselves in now.  And when we didn’t deserve it, at a time that we were completely self-absorbed, Jesus acted in true humility toward all men.   Jesus took control of his strengths and desires, and put our needs above his needs, for the betterment of all people.

It becomes easier to reenact humility toward others when we remember that it was extended to us first, even when we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Reflections

Reflections.  Imitations. 

We’re all echoes of what has been modeled for us, either good or bad.  Growing up we watch our parents, our friends, politicians, sports stars, celebrities – and then decide for ourselves what values and behaviors are worth emulating, and which ones are not.  Nowadays, we “follow” certain people or groups in social media.  When we need help or advice, we seek out people who have succeeded in business, parenting, finances, or leadership…and then put their recommendations into practice.  We’re imitators, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, we were built that way:

Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, overall the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

We are reflections of our Creator.  We are made in his image.  From these verses in Genesis, we find that we represent some of God’s attributes and mimic some of his authority over the rest of creation.

When we find directions in the rest of Scripture to do some things and avoid other activities, they aren’t just rules where God is “bossing us around”.  The guidelines that God spells out in the Bible are there to show us how to best reflect the characteristics of God that he has instilled in us.

Paul wanted Titus to remind the Cretan believers of how the choices they made and the character of their lives would represent God to the morally bankrupt culture which surrounded them.

Titus 3:1-2 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

As always, Jesus is our perfect example of how to reflect God to the culture around us.  Looking at his life, we find that Jesus was

subject to rulers and authorities – even the corrupt ones
obedient – he followed through with God the Father’s plan of Salvation, even though it meant his death
ready to do good – he always acted in the best interest of everyone he encountered
slandering no one – he never spoke deceitfully
peaceable and considerate – he always engaged people in the moment, where they were at
true humility toward all men – the King of kings purposely chose to be the servant of all

When we follow Christ’s example, we fulfill our purpose and become what we were created to be.    

Which of these six traits will you reflect today?

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Encouragement to do good

We have been walking through one the most clear and concise explanations in the entire Bible of what the Christian life is all about.  With that said, it is beneficial for us to step back and read Paul’s statement in its entirety.  Read slowly, and let these words resonate:

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  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 glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Statements like these are worth committing to memory.  I highly encourage you to do so.  In times of trouble, or even in those moments waiting for the stoplight to turn green, being able to remind ourselves of God’s plan can breathe life back into us.

Paul also wanted Titus to remind the Cretan believers of these things:

Titus 2:15 These, then, are the things you should teach.  Encourage and rebuke with all authority.  Do not let anyone despise you.

The root word for encourage means to call, invite, or summon…but the strength of the call depends on the one who is making the call.  Friends invite, Kings summon.  As a representative for the Apostle Paul, Titus would be in a position to greatly encourage and exhort the Cretan believers to live in a way that reflects their faith in Christ.  They would need encouragement and correction to live differently from their past, a life that would be different from the cultural around them.  Paul instructs Titus to use the authority he has to spur the people on to do what is good.

Paul ends this section of the letter detailing some practical ways that the Cretans could live the lives God has called them to:

Titus 3:1-2 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

Once again, we see Paul’s emphasis to Titus – to have the Cretan believers focus on doing good.  That is where they will be challenged by the surrounding culture, but that is exactly the area where are going to grow. 

God has done good towards us, even when we did not deserve it.  Now it is up to the Cretan believers to mimic God to their countrymen.  It will be challenging to do so…but it is the hard things that make us grow up and mature.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Looking forward

As believers, how do we manage the battle that goes on inside us?  Paul made the perceptive observation in his letter to the Christians living in Rome:

Romans 7:19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.

It wasn’t just the Christians in Rome who struggled with this.  Paul also addressed how to deal with this inner turmoil in his letter to Titus:

Titus 2:12-13 [The grace of God] teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age

I think we all want to say “No” to the things we know aren’t good for us.  Living a life that is self-controlled, upright, and godly certainly seems like an attractive alternative…but we also have some doubts about that kind of life.  We wonder things like “Can I really live like that?” and “Is a godly life truly fulfilling?” and “What if it’s hard, or even boring?”

It’s at this point that many of us just try a little bit, lose the fight a few times, and then check out.  We entertain thoughts that sound a lot like “I gave it my best shot” or “I’m too much of a mess to have any significant change” or “Maybe I’m not cut out for this Christian life like other people seem to be”.

When we have discouraging times like these, we’ll find us glaring at ourselves in the moment.  We have a very limited perspective because we are narrowly focusing on a particular failure, or even characterizing our past as “bad” due to our present failures.  Instead of looking back, we need to look forward.  We need to broaden our view to include God’s future plan for us, both individually and for all of us who trust him as our Savior. 

But if I should look forward, then what I should look forward to?  What event am I waiting for, what am I hoping will someday happen that will actually be “good”?

Titus 2:12-13 [The grace of God] 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 glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,

When we fail, when we say “Yes” to the ungodliness and worldly passions within us, the last thing we need to do is wallow in our sin and self-pity.  Instead, look forward to Christ’s coming.  God’s grace – the gift of Christ himself – continues to work in you even after accepting him as Savior.  In the very next verse, Paul reminds Titus that it was Jesus

Titus 2:14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. 

Jesus has not abandoned us to figure out this Christian life all on our own.  His mission is twofold – redemption of sinners and purification of his people.  Today’s failures do not negate his purpose toward you.

So, what do we look forward to, what event are we waiting for?  Keeping our eyes on his coming keeps us focused on Jesus, remembering that we are a people that are his very own, and that he is actively training us to be eager to do what is good.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

The gift that keeps on giving

After spending the previous 10 verses explaining to specific groups within the Cretan church “What’s next” for them after becoming believers, Paul goes on to give the over-arching and insightful reason as to why those teachings were selected for them:

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 

Notice that it is by God’s grace that salvation is available to everyone.  No one deserves it, no one can contribute toward it.  God’s favor was given to us by his own choice, without influence by us.  Like a light piercing the darkness, he has chosen to offer this gift of salvation to all mankind. 

But the workings of God’s grace doesn’t stop there.  After stating the general mission of the grace of God, Paul then gets specific as to how it still works within a believer’s life, even after accepting Jesus as Savior:

Titus 2:12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age

God’s grace continues on by teaching and training us.  We didn’t merit salvation from sin’s eternal penalty of separation from God…and we don’t merit the training God gives us after we are saved, either.  Thankfully, God shows us love as adoptive sons and daughters – which means he cares for our development and growth.

We have to be taught how to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, because on our own we give in to them every time.  Turning away from sin isn’t easy, and our old nature battles against this kind of change.  By God’s grace, we were transferred from the kingdom of darkness and into God’s kingdom of light; and also by God’s grace, we are taught to turn away from ungodliness and worldly passions in order that we can say “Yes” to the kind of life we were created to live in this present age.

However, looking at this leaves me wondering:

If I was willing to accept his gracious gift of salvation, why do I fight his gracious gift of training for my life in this present age?

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Healthy teachings for slaves

Titus 2:1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.

Paul has one last group within the Cretan believers to address.  Slavery was quite common within ancient Rome; so much so that historians believe that the slave population would vary between 30% to over 50% of a given city.  While some slaves toiled under harsh conditions, others appeared to be normal businessmen; however, the function and authority of both were under the supervision of their individual masters.  Invariably, with such a sizeable population, there were slaves who became Christians.  So they also would wonder “What’s next?” after choosing to trust Christ for their salvation from the penalty of their sins.

Titus 2:9-10 Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

One source I found made this point: “Paul’s instructions on the respectful attitude of slaves toward their masters comes against the backdrop of a standard theme in ancient comedies: the arrogant, back-talking slave.  Over and over the Greek and Latin comic playwrights present slaves as mocking their masters behind their backs, talking back to them with barely disguised contempt when they could (often getting a cuffing for comic effect), and generally being villainous characters.  Admittedly a large measure of this picture was simply the comedic portrait, but it no doubt contains an element of truth…”

What’s helpful here is that Paul gives instructions for “What’s next”, but he also provides the why for doing these things.  Did you see it at the end of verse 10? 

so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive

Paul wanted the Cretan slaves to recognize that their work for their earthly master was their way to demonstrate who God is and what God has done in their lives.  Against the cultural joke backdrop of the back-talking slave, a servant who is trustworthy in front of his master as well as when his master is not around would stand out. 

The slaves were to recognize the authority of those above them, work to please them, be respectful, and not to misappropriate the resources they were in charge of or came in contact with.  Their trustworthiness would gain them an audience with their master and those around them…their audience would find their motivations to be attractive.  Titus was to make sure that the slaves knew that their everyday choices would build the platform from which they could share the good news of gospel.  Every slave, from the one with huge responsibilities to the one who did the most menial of tasks, could make the gospel attractive by how they worked.

Although we do not find ourselves in the same employment situation as the Cretan slaves, there are some clear parallels and applications for all of us.  In a culture that seems to take work less and less serious…how a Christian works is important, no matter what job we have in front of us.  We represent our Savior in the everyday choices we make in our work.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Healthy teachings for the younger men

Titus 2:1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.

Paul has listed teachings for the older men, the older women, and for the older women to teach the younger women.  The specific lessons tailored for each group would have presented a special challenge for the original Cretan audience…and now we come to Paul’s prescribed teaching for the young men in the Cretan church:

Titus 2:6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.

Paul has given the older men six things to learn, the older women get three things and a direction to be mentors, and the younger women get six things…while the Cretan younger men are only given one topic that is in accord with the healthy teaching of the gospel.

Is this an indication that the young men have it easy or does this imply that there is a male bias in the text?  To solve a question like that, we must first look at the context of the surrounding verses.

Paul’s direction in this verse begins with the word similarly, so we need to ask “similarly to what?”  Since the immediate previous context is Paul explaining how a younger woman’s walk is to be one so that no one will malign the word of God, that same expectation is placed on the younger men as well. 

Also, to encourage means to urge strongly, as well as to invite and exhort…which implies some sort of relationship between Titus and the younger Cretan men.  Paul develops this idea as he continues:

Titus 2:7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good.  In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

Although these directions are for Titus, they are also what Titus needs to be modeling to the younger men.  Whether they are actively looking or sub-consciously scanning, young men are constantly watching for another man to be an example for them.  Oftentimes, an older man becomes a role model without even being informed by the younger man.  Perhaps that is why Paul emphasizes several ways that Titus can model self-control.

Self-control is the underlying current that flows through a young man’s life.  To maintain a right frame of mind while the world rages around you and to have sober judgment of the people and situations you daily encounter are life-preserving skills for a young man.  Many younger men have had their lives and their faith shipwrecked due to a lack of self-control.  Notice that Paul says that opposition will come; however, he expects that Titus will be ready for it because his self-control in previous situations have kept him from having a reputation that can be attacked.

Nowadays, a common political trap is to bait your opponent by saying something completely ridiculous, even false against him…and then sitting back and waiting for his response.  This kind of trap is based upon the assumption that the opponent will respond forcefully and quickly…but also recklessly.  A reckless response will typically dig a bigger hole, one that the man will not be able to politically escape from.  His fate is sealed by his own lack of self-control.

Paul doesn’t list one trait for the younger men to learn because he is taking it easy on them.  In fact, the opposite it true!  By narrowing it down to one item, Paul is emphasizing the importance of a young man’s self-control not only in his own life, but also in how he lives out the gospel message.  After coming into a saving relationship with Jesus, in order to represent that relationship so that no one will malign the word of God, the most important lesson a younger man needs is self-control!

If you fit the category of a younger man, ask God to show you the importance of living with self-control.  He will give you the strength needed to bring your passions and emotions under proper control, so they can be put to good use.

If you don’t fit the category of a younger man, please pray for those you know.  Ask God to give them a mentor that consistently displays this characteristic of a Godly man.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Healthy teachings for the younger women

Titus 2:1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.

Although it is Titus’ responsibility to teach the Cretan believers how to do life in light of Christ rescuing us from the penalty of our sins, Paul specifically states that

Titus 2:4 [the older women] can train the younger women…

It is within this relationship framework that younger women can learn to handle life’s challenges.  Paul identifies several lessons that the young women of Crete will need help in both understanding and applying…and Paul recognizes that they will need the guidance of an older woman to get there.

Titus 2:4-5 Then [the older women] can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

An easy, knee-jerk response would be to start picking off individual items from the list and turning them into arguments.  However, before we do that, it would be wise to consider why Paul is listing these specific topics for the Cretan women to learn and apply.  Paul gives his reasoning at the end of the verse five:

Titus 2:5 …so that no one will malign the word of God.

Other translations render the phrasing as so that God’s message will not be slandered or discredited or dishonored.  Paul is indicating that if the Cretan young women were to choose against the listed character traits, then there is the possibility that God’s message would be poorly represented or the reputation of the gospel could be damaged…even to the point that outsiders might ignore the good news of the gospel.

The heart of what Paul is getting at is this: that a young woman’s walk needs to match her talk.   Her life should mirror the good news of Christ’s salvation, and to live otherwise would discredit God’s life-changing message.  Remember that the Cretan reputation and accepted daily culture was to be always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.  Living in accordance with the healthy teaching of the gospel would be clearly counter-cultural.  A quick look at the opposites helps demonstrate this point:

What does a young woman communicate about the gospel
if instead of aiming to love [her] husband and children, she lives selfishly?
if instead of aiming to be self-controlled and pure, she lives reckless and immoral?
if instead of aiming to be busy at home, she is consumed by exterior passions?
if instead of aiming to be kind, she chooses to be cruel?
if instead of aiming to be subject to [her] husband, she undercuts her husband’s role and authority within the family unit?

All these lessons derive from one point of contention – a woman’s relationships, especially those within her own family.  These difficulties find their root all the way back to Eve’s part of the curse.  Adam and Eve’s sin introduced different, specific consequences into the world.  One of the consequences that God told to Eve was that:

Genesis 3:16 Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.

Sin broke the natural order of what God had created all life to function under.  Part of the curse clearly damaged a woman’s relationship with her husband – that from then on, he will rule over you.  The effects of this curse (and Adam’s) have echoed throughout human history ever since.  For the Cretan women to decide live in such a way that mirrors Christ’s love and Christ’s life would be absolutely counter-cultural.  Her choice to love her family in this sacrificial, dynamic way would produce a life that would force those around her to recognize that the gospel she believes in is both revolutionary and life-changing.

Paul never says this list is easy.  He never indicates that a young woman will get it right on the first try.  But these choices are so important that Paul specifically states that the young women will need to be taught and mentored by an older woman in order to live them out.  The young women aren’t supposed to “just figure it out” all on their own.

If you fit the category of a younger woman, ask God for an older woman to come along side and mentor you.  You have a tough job, but you don’t have to do it alone.

If you don’t fit the category of a younger woman, think of those you know.  Ask God to give them the desire to ensure that their walk reflects God’s impact on their lives.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Healthy teachings for the older women

Titus 2:1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.

After giving Titus instructions for topics to teach the older men, Paul then turns to the topics for older women that are in accord with the healthy teaching of Christ’s work on the cross.

Titus 2:3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good

Just like the older men, the older women need to be taught into maturity.  Maturity doesn’t happen on its own or by default.  If we are going to imitate God and his love for us, then we must be instructed on how to get there.

Paul also lists two enemies of an older woman’s maturity – the temptation to gossip and the possibility of becoming addicted to, or enslaved by, wine.  When all the children have left the home, many older women go through an identity crisis.  So much of their lives have been (rightly) focused on preparing their contribution to the next generation.  When that season is over, the question “What’s next?” has many potential answers to choose from – and not all of them are good.

Slander or Gossip, as well as an addiction (either to wine or some other substance) are very self-centered choices.  The thinking behind both behaviors – “Hey, listen to the info I’ve found out” and whatever rationalizations we give ourselves for addictions – all have motives which are focused inward.  An inward focus undercuts the ability to mature and imitate God’s love to others.

Paul lists these two traps in contrast with what the older women should be focusing on – to teach what is good.  But whom shall the older women teach?  Paul gives the answer in the next verse:

Titus 2:4 Then they can train the younger women…

After they have finished preparing their own children, an older woman needs to shift her focus to preparing the next generation of Christian women.  Paul gives instructions for Titus to teach several different groups in the church – but he specifically calls on the older women to teach the younger women.  Paul does not give Titus the responsibility to teach the younger women.  I fully believe this was intentional, as the mentor-relationship bond formed between an older woman and a younger woman cannot be duplicated.

The younger women needed support, as evidenced by Paul’s first lesson that an older woman needs to teach:

Titus 2:4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children…

As one who has been a child and is now a husband…I fully admit that we’re not always easy to love.  I am thankful for the older women who have come along side of my wife to help her, to teach her, and to train her how to love like Christ.

If you fit the category of an older woman, ask God to point you to a younger woman for you to mentor.  She needs you more than she’ll likely let on. 

If you don’t fit the category, pray for the older women that you know.  Ask God to include them in preparing the next generation of Christian women.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Healthy teachings for the older men

After giving instructions on how to recognize those who teach what is contrary to the gospel and how deal with their corrupted teachings, Paul then turns his attention back to Titus:

Titus 2:1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.

In direct contrast to the false teachers, Paul exhorts Titus to present teachings that line up with the gospel message that Christ alone has paid the price for our sins.  No matter how high we pile up good works, we cannot pay back our wrongs.  However, after we place our faith in Christ, when we trust him and his payment…we are no longer held guilty in the eyes of God.  This “not guilty” verdict isn’t an isolated chapter in our lives; instead it bleeds over into every part of who we are and how we live. 

After accepting Christ as Savior and becoming “not guilty”, the Cretan believers needed help in figuring out “What’s next?”.  We often have similar questions.  Thankfully, Paul gave Titus some topics to go over with the new Cretan believers.  No doubt they found them challenging, and I bet we will too.

Christian Living literature sells quite well.  It seems that everyone is asking “What’s next?” and that many people believe they have the answer for men, or young women, or wives, or retirees, or young parents, etc, etc, etc…every division of people groups you can imagine.  Paul divided his Cretan audience into four groups: older men, older women, young women, and young men.  He gave direct, tailored advice to each group.  Even though each of us only fit into one of these categories, it will be beneficial to look at each one and consider why God is asking for these specific traits at this specific point in our lives. 

Titus 2:2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith in love and in endurance.

Each of these characteristics look toward the highest level of maturity.  Older men will not reach this level of maturity by accident, either.  By default, men will grow increasingly self-centered as we grow older, so these traits are to be reinforced and taught to the older men.

So how does an older man keep from becoming increasingly selfish?

The second half of the verse is key – to be sound in the faith, in love, and in endurance.  The Greek word for sound is the same one used in Paul’s direction to Titus for sound doctrine.  A healthy faith, a healthy love, and a healthy endurance will guide an older man into clearheaded, dignified, and sensible living.

Faith, love, and endurance are kept healthy as they are related back to the sound doctrine of the gospel.  In God’s salvation plan, we find a place for our faith, our greatest example of selfless love, and the ultimate model of endurance.

If you fit the category of an older man, look to Christ to keep your faith, love and endurance healthy.  These should be your aim as you live out your relationship with Jesus.

If you don’t fit the category, I’m certain you know someone who does.  Will you pray for them today?  Ask God to give them the desire to be sound in the faith, in love, and in endurance.

Keep Pressing,
Ken