And now, the news…

I find myself in the odd position of needing to write my final “goodbye” newsletter article for one church, and my initial “hello” article for another. I have been thinking a lot about finishing well at Snohomish, and starting well at Warden. In doing so, I’ve been spending a lot of time in 2 Timothy. Paul’s words to his disciple are filled with instructions and warnings; remembrances of past wisdom, and hopeful words for the future.

I want to have words like that for Snohomish Presbyterian and for Warden Community. So, I take as my pattern the words from 2 Timothy. I’ve been sharing with the Snohomish youth group insights from the first two chapters of this book, and my closing sermon will be from 2 Timothy 4. In this article, I’d like to draw your attention to chapter 3. I believe there are some concepts that both churches need to hear, and I’d like to share them.

Paul writes that some people “will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them!”

Whenever we find others (or indeed, ourselves) focusing more on outward forms of entertainment and pleasure instead of the inward work of the Holy Spirit, we need to be very careful. This shows us the first concept to remember:

Watch Out for those who love pleasure over God.

Paul warns that those people (pleasure-lovers) won’t make much progress in God’s Kingdom… and I don’t know about you, but life is too short to waste it on things that won’t matter in the long run.

Paul then tells us about the difficulties he has had in following Christ: “Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and suffering the things that happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured!” This brings to light the second concept we must remember:

Suffering is a part of the Godly life.

If anyone tells you that following God entitles you to a life free from pain, they are lying. A wise theologian once said, “Life is pain; anyone who says different is selling something.” (Actually, that’s from The Princess Bride by William Goldman, but it’s a wise statement, nonetheless.)

In spite of how difficult life can be as we live out God’s Kingdom, Paul encourages Timothy (and us) to keep going: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed….” This shows us Paul’s heart for Timothy, and my heart for you all:

Continue in the Truth of God’s Word

I’d like to draw your attention to the New Living Translation of 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

Let God speak to you through the Word of the Lord. Don’t just read the Word – let the Word read YOU, and continue to change you into what God desires for your life. It’s a long term process, and God who began that work will be faithful to complete it. To my church family in Snohomish, I say that I am blessed to have been a part of that process in your lives. To my church family in Warden, I say that I am honored that I will partner with you in seeing this process happen.

Until that day when we all stand in the presence of Christ…

Keep Following Jesus.

Pastor Ed Backell

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