Flee and Pursue

“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace…” -2 Timothy 2:22

I’ve never been much of a runner.  I have friends, maybe you are one of them, who run simply because it is fun.  While I can commend you for that, I will never be able to understand it.  The only time I have any desire to run is when it is away from something dangerous.  You’ll never see me in a marathon.

Scripture tells us as believers, and especially as men, that there are certain things we should run away from.  Paul tells the young Timothy to “flee youthful passions.”  The word here is the same that is used to describe Joseph fleeing from Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:12).  It describes not a casual walking away from, or even a jog, but an all-out sprint.

We are to run, as fast as possible, away from youthful passions.  You know what I’m talking about.  The sins that have had you captivated for years.  The immaturity that you were once engaged in but is now affecting your marriage.  The temptations that eat away at your conscience until you finally give in to them.

Flee from them!

But Paul does not just tell us to flee from the bad stuff.  He tells us to pursue the good.  The word “pursue” in the Greek has the same urgency attached to it as “flee.”  Paul is saying that as quickly and urgently as we run away from the bad we should be pursuing the good.  If we are not actively pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace, Satan will catch up with us and will, ultimately, devour us.

So, what do we do?  We identify the things that we need to flee from and then decide what we are going to pursue, but we do not do it alone.  Look at the last half of the verse:

“…along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

We stand little chance of ever fleeing and pursuing fast enough alone.  We need other men around us to push us onward when we grow weary.

The word “flee” is used again in the New Testament, but this time to describe Satan.  Do you want to make Satan sprint away from you?  Then do what James says and submit yourself to God. (James 4:7)

Join me, brother, in the race of a lifetime.

Why “…But God”?

You might think the title of this blog, “…But God” to be a bit odd.  You might wonder the significance of two seemingly common words.  Let me quickly tell you just how significant those two words are.

This past week I spent the majority of my time organizing a large collection of theology books in our new library.  These are amazing, one-of-a-kind resources to help pastors, teachers and scholars make sense of God’s Word.  There is significant value in these resources, no doubt, but the Gospel is so much simpler than we make it out to be.

In Ephesians 2 Paul tells us that we were all dead in our trespasses and sins.  We followed the worlds way, we were disobedient, carrying out the desires of the flesh and were children of wrath.  After Paul explains our former state, he says this:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loves us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” – Ephesians 2:4-5

There are those words…”But God.”  In the midst of our deliberate and in-your-face disobedience, God decided to do something.  He decided to rescue us, not after we got cleaned up but while we were dead in our trespasses.  Those two words encapsulate the entire Gospel.  Those two words reveal more about how much our Father loves us than any other.  Those two words give us a hope for tomorrow, and eternity, that we would have never had otherwise.

You see, the words “but God” change everything, and suddenly become the center of everything we say, do and believe.

So, the title of this blog, “…But God” speaks to the goodness of our God, that He would, in the midst of our sins, rescue us for a higher purpose.  This blog, no matter the topic at hand, centers around, and always will center around this fact.

What a great, great God we serve!

My Former Life

“For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.” – Galatians 1:13

Consider the following attributes and accomplishments:

  • Apostle of Jesus
  • Wrote 1/3rd of the New Testament
  • Preached sermons resulting in thousand’s of people coming to Christ

That is quite the resumé  This person, most of us would think, has devoted their entire life to the gospel of Christ, but as we know, that is far from the truth.

This person I speak of is the Apostle Paul, formerly known as Saul.  Before he met Jesus he looked far worse than any of you reading this do, ever have, or ever will.  In fact Paul knew this when he wrote,

“…Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost.”  1 Timothy 1:15

Paul was a murderer of Christians, persecuting the church and doing everything he could to destroy it.  To put it bluntly, he hated the church.  However, while he was involved in such hatred, God had another plan to completely transform him.

God not only changed his heart but also gave him a new name so that there would be no question as to the transformation that had taken place in his life.  Paul understood that God had transformed him into an apostle, but he also understood just how far removed he was from the sins of his past.

Paul knew that he no longer had to be defined by his past.  The things that he did a few short years before were so far remove from him that they were part of his former life.  He was a new creation.

You no longer have to be defined by your past.  You no longer have to feel the guilt and shame associated with those things.  Take comfort in the fact that Jesus died to save sinners, and you are not foremost.

The task that The Lord has give to us is too big for us to be weighted down by past failures.

“Let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

Choose today to lay your past aside.  The truth is that those things are a part of who you were, but not who you are.  

You’re a new creation, friend.  Embrace it!

Decisions

“But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me.” Psalm 26:11

It was a November day in Lubbock, Texas with a temperature that must have been in the 20’s and a strong north wind that you can only understand if you have been there.  My dad had taken me to a high school football game.  It was not an especially memorable day, but I remember because it was one of the first times that I was given a choice in how I lived my life.  It was cold and I was given the choice of whether or not to wear a jacket.  I will let you figure out which option I chose.

Prior to that day my dad would have insisted that I wear a jacket outside.  After all, it was what was best for me.  At this moment, though, I had a choice.  I had a decision to make, and I made the wrong one.  I was cold and miserable.

You’ve never made a wrong choice, have you?

Sometimes I think that life would be so much easier if we did not have to choose.  If someone was there to make the right decision for us, we would never have to face the consequences caused by a bad decision.  But that is not how life works.

As men we have choices to make every day.  Virtually every aspect of our lives demands us to make choices.  In fact, The Lord requires nothing less of us.

David was a man who had many choices to make.  He had to choose to honor authority when it  made sense not to, and to walk with integrity at times when most men would not.  It is in this context that he writes:

But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity.

David had a choice.  God did not force him to live a life of integrity.  You need look no further than the many times he fell into traps of anger, adultery and even murder to see that the choice was his.  He fell short, but he understood something that many men today do not:

We have to choose, every day, to walk in our integrity.

What choice do you have in front of you today when it comes to your integrity? Whatever it may be for you, the fact remains that we have to purposefully choose integrity every single day.

It didn’t take long for my Dad to see that I was miserable.  Surely, I had made a bad decision but my Dad did not leave me stranded.  When I finally admitted my mistake to him, he turned around and grabbed a coat for me to wear.

Our Heavenly Father is so gracious.  When we make bad decisions he is there for us, but not to condemn us.  He instead comes alongside us with another choice; a better choice.

…He will not leave you or forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:6

The amazing thing about our God is that this promise holds just as true in our failures as in our successes.  He’s with you, friend, even when your decision-making fails.

So, will you join me today in making the decision that as for us, we shall walk in our integrity?