Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Encourage and Exhort

Titus 1:9 reminds us that we have a duel responsibility as leaders. We are to encourage Christians and to exhort (encourage, urge, nudge) or "show those who oppose God's message where they are wrong.

We are not called to oppose those who oppose God's message, but rather to show them where they are wrong. There seems to be a persistent "we and them" problem in the church. We label people, pick teams and battle for social and cultural yardage on a temporal playing field. We fight battles of our own making and alienate those who oppose God's teaching rather than attempting to correct them and show them where they are wrong.

I wonder if the first part of this verse is the reason we tend to huddle up and build walls around our "Christian culture" rather than participating in a lifestyle of encouragement and exhortation or helping people find the Way. The first part of the verse says a leader "must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught" . . . then he will be able to encourage others and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.

Once we get our head around the implications of God's message to us, maybe we will be able to live with godly confidence and minister with bold compassion. Our mission is not to defend the faith but to proclaim it.

Just Thinkin'

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Self-indulged leaders are not hard to find. This is the opposite of servant leadership and is an embarrassment to the Christian faith. Christ, who was certainly equal with God, humbled Himself to exemplify servant leadership.

Paul writes to Titus in Titus 1:7 and reminds him that when he is appointing leaders in the church he needs to look for men who are not arrogant, self-willed or presumptuous. He should not recruit men who are hot tempered, given to drink, brawlers or greedy.

Most of these behaviors are by-products of this first quality of being "self-indulged. authádēs (an adjective, derived from autós, "self" and hēdomai, "to gratify self, be indulgent") – properly, a person who gratifies self, i.e. fixed in self-pleasure (engrossed in self-interest). I like to think of it as a person who is "automatically hedonistic" in their outlook and behavior.

At least two lessons here. First, God doesn't want us to appoint just anyone to leadership. Secondly, if things aren't going so well as a leader, maybe we ought to check and see if we have crossed one of these leadership lines and guardrails.

Just Thinkin'

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Titus 1:6 says that church leaders should be blameless. There are other lifestyle issues mentioned in the verses that follow, but this word really challenges me. I don't know about you, but I sometimes mess up . . . I can rightfully be blamed for failing to call someone or loosing my temper or letting my foot get too heavy on the gas pedal.

This is the same word that is used in 1 Corinthians 1:8 and Colossians 1:22 in the context of how we will be when the Lord returns and how we are positionally before Him now. It even uses the word "holy" in the context of blameless. Can anyone qualify to be a Christian leader?

The word has to do with being accused or called into account. It would be used of one who is attempting to deny messing up. This attribute describes someone who is quick to own up to mistakes and has nothing hidden that he can be accused of. Someone who strives to be innocent of wrong doing or inappropriate behavior.

I might reword it to say, "A Christian leader should have transparent integrity and be exhibiting a lifestyle that is being transformed toward his positional standing before God." Christian leaders aren't perfect . . . they know it . . . and, by God's grace, they are disciplining themselves to be above reproach.

Just Thinkin'

Monday, March 14, 2011

Vision Drift

As Paul begins to get to the reason for his letter to Titus he starts with a reminder to Titus concerning his purpose for being on the island. The work on the island wasn't complete.

This reminds me that it is easy to forget the purpose for our work. Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:18-20 remind us that God has a purpose for us. He left us on the planet so we could complete the work here.

We can do a lot of good things and have our doctrinal ducks in a line, but if we drift from the vision of announcing the Gospel and seeking the lost we are doomed to meaningless religious activity. Revelation 2:1-7 is a warning to a church that needed to "Turn back to me and do the works you did at first."

As a church planter I know that the "first work" for a church is to gather the saints to reach the lost. Build a team of fisherman who are totally focused on taking the Gospel to everyone. That first work must continue to be the chief work and the purpose for every other work.

God didn't leave you on an island, but He did leave you on the planet with a mission and purpose. Are you engaged in it or have you drifted and become preoccupied with the things of this world?

Just Thinkin'

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Grace and Peace

Titus 1:4 speaks of the unique kinship of believers who share a common faith and the resulting new life it brings. This is more than just a leader instructing a co-worker, this is a family member working with another family member striving to serve the Father.

However, the words that jump off the page to me are "grace and peace." These are commonly paired together and grace always precedes peace. Many say grace is unmerited favor from God, but I see grace revealed in a much more dynamic way in the New Testament. Grace is often equal to God's power or working that enables us to live out what He has called to engage.

For instance look at 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 where God defines His sufficient grace as His power in our weakness. Or consider 1 Corinthians 15:10 where Paul admits that what you see in his life is God's grace working through him. Ephesians 2:8 reminds us that it is God's work, power and favor that saves us when we believe.

I am reminded that when I acknowledge and trust God's grace I can then experience His peace. This is where this verse took me. What about you?

Just Thinkin'

Monday, March 7, 2011

God's Timing . . . My responsibility

Titus 1:3 is full of stuff, just like each verse. The first thing that jumped out at me was . . . "And now at just the right time he has revealed this message . . ." God's timing is always right!
Romans 5:6 says, "When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners." NLT

1 Peter 1:10-12 says that the prophets were confused about the "when" of God's promises, but when the time was right, God did what He promised. I need to trust in the "just-the-right-time" attribute of God and stop being anxious. Philippians 4:6-9

The second thing I see is my responsibility to focus on my part of the work . . . which is to "announce (this message) to everyone. It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him." God has revealed the Gospel and I am entrusted to announce it to everyone.

What "jumped out at you" in this verse? Ready to meditate on Titus 1:4-6 this week.

Just Thinkin'

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Living Confidently

Moving on to Titus 1:2 . . . Still talking about this Truth that shows us how to live godly lives . . . now it says,

"This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began."

Learning the Truth . . . recognizing it as God's Truth . . . getting acquainted with it by living it and walking in it will give us confidence . . . expectation . . . boldness as we rest in the reality that we have eternal life. This same word is translated "expect" in 1 Corinthians 9:10.

Confident, growing Christian living comes from engaging in and living by biblical Truth. (Not just knowing it.) We have been sent to proclaim the life-giving, life-changing Gospel and to teach people to engage in biblical Truth. This will result in confident Christian living like Peter and John exhibited in Acts 4:13.

Well, I have Titus 1:1 & 2 memorized . . . how about you? What has God shown you as you meditate on these verses?