As a young minister, the pastoral epistles instruct and warn me regularly. On my shelf are a host of books written from older pastors to their young Timothys. In these works, veteran pastors put on the mantle of Paul, passing on wisdom and instruction to their protege. Books such as Dear Timothy, Help for the New Pastor, and The New Pastor's Handbook have benefited me greatly. I have read and reread these books over the first few years of my ministry. I've often wondered, though, what were Timothy's letters to Paul like? What challenges would he tell Paul about? What would he be thankful for?
No one can speak for the biblical Timothy. However, in these letters, I will be taking on the mantle of Timothy writing to my "Paul." God has blessed me with many Pauls. He has given me several pastors, mentors, and professors. These men were and continue to be God's gift to me. The label of "Paul" in these letters are at times one individual and at other times a series of men.
These letters give a window into this young pastor's heart. So who are these letters, strictly, for? In one sense they are for the Pauls in my life. Some of whom are still living, some of whom are in glory. A number of the Pauls in my life will receive these letters and therefore will know that I am speaking directly to them.
However, these letters are not only for them. No; my prayer is for members of the church from all walks of life to be blessed by reading these letters. That pastors may receive insight into a young man's thoughts and affections. That professors may hear what one of their disciples has taken to the people. I pray these letters convey the sense of one young pastor's heart.
Minister of the Word
Timothy, a servant of Jesus Christ in rural Iowa. To Paul, my beloved father, friend, and mentor. Grace and Peace.
Your words of instruction and encouragement have guided me in these last months. My ministry here has just begun, and I thank God for you when I pray. There are so many things I have to thank Him for. I hope you will indulge me as I express to you the things I have made known to Him. My letters might be infrequent, but know that I think of you and pray for you often.
Thank you for your ministry of the Word. Thank you for believing the Scriptures. Thank you for teaching and proclaiming God's Word.
I thank God for your ministry to my mother and grandparents. Thank you for preaching in season and out of season. Your ministry deeply impacted my eternity through them. When you opened God's Word and proclaimed the glorious gospel, you changed a family forever. The covenant blessings are real. Your ministry to my grandparents and my mother has come down to me, the third generation. Oh, I pray God might show His loving kindness to a thousand generations.
Thank you for proclaiming the whole counsel of God. You did not shy away from the hard parts. I know there are things in God's Word which are not popular in our culture. You could have shied away from countercultural passages. You could have glossed over difficult verses. Thank you for holding firm to God's Word and preaching His truth. Thank you for being bold. Thank you for proclaiming the glories of Christ and the hope of the resurrection. Thank you also for not shying away from the commands and the obedience that flows from our union with Jesus. You did not give us just milk but fed us the meat of doctrine. Thank you for preaching instruction in righteousness.
I can only imagine how hard it must have been for you to have left the place which you called home to move to our foreign land. You left your family farm to shepherd a flock far away. You brought with you a gospel that turned the world on its head. You brought the good news to a deeply pagan land. Thank you for preaching and teaching God's Word.
Do you remember how you had me memorize God's Word? I did not enjoy it. To be honest, I was lazy and my heart was hard toward God's Word. Yet, you had insight. You believed what the Scriptures say about themselves. God's Word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. After high school, I indulged in the pleasures of this world, yet God's Word was always there. It was like a cloud, casting a shadow over my worldly lusts. Where could I run? Where could I go? I fled from the church, but I could not outrun the words which had been buried in my soul. You had told me that God's Word would be a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. His Word stood condemning my conscience.
You had me memorize the Scriptures so that I might not sin against Him. But, I wanted to sin. I wanted to follow my desires. Yet, His Word was always in the back of my mind. My conscience was never free. I knew of God's displeasure because His Word, though fading, was still there.
Eventually, I got what I deserved. No one can indulge in the pleasures of this world and come out unscathed. My sin hurt me, polluted my heart, and hurt those around me. Oh, how I hate sin! Oh, how deceitful is wickedness. What a lie! Satan's deceit remains ever so attractive and painful. The fruit looks sweet and refreshing, and it was for the first taste. But the pleasure lasted only a season. It became like poison seeping into my soul, corrupting my inner man. I turned my back on God. Why oh my soul would you not obey? You knew of the pain that awaited the transgression.
Paul, I was a fool! Acting as a wild beast, I followed the passions of my heart and found myself wallowing in the filth of my own making. Thank you. You saw when I had reached the end of my ways. Thank you for not turning your back on me. I still don't know why you opened God's Word to declare to me grace instead of walking away. You did not sugar coat things but called sin, sin. You took me to the Scriptures and pointed to the wages of sin. You ministered to me with the Scriptures and gave me Christ. Thank you for confronting me about my sin. Thank you for commanding me to repent. Thank you for calling out my pride. You were being used by God. God was using His Word. Do you remember that day? It was just the two of us in that small room. Thank you for praying over me. Thank you for bringing me to Christ.
There are more things I wish to write. But for now, I pray the God of grace would give you peace. May you, in some small way, be encouraged that your labor in the world was not in vain. The Spirit which is alive in you has arrested my soul. He has given me a new heart. He did this in a large part through your ministry of His Word. Give the saints my greetings. Tell Leslie thank you for her encouragement to the young women. Give my regards to Mel as he continues to contend for the faith. Please let Bob and Jeanne know how much their recent visit of encouragement meant to our family. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ fill your hearts with immeasurable joy.