Many years ago, those who served our communities as ministers of the gospel were held in highest esteem. Today, however, pastors are often viewed with a measure of suspicion, if not outright skepticism. Today, on Insight for Living, we'll hear Chuck Swindoll present his sixth and final message in a brand new miniseries called The Pros and Cons of Ministry. Originally delivered at his alma mater, Dallas Theological Seminary, Chuck spoke to pastors in training with compassion and conviction. Teaching from 2 Timothy 3, he urged these seminarians to ignore their critics and make a lasting difference. Only one thing matters to you, and that is that your life count for eternity. Such a life never just happens.
It's never automatic. I found that people who want to make a lasting difference choose their mentors very carefully. My words are based on the core section of 2 Timothy 3, verses 10 through 14. Paul looks in three directions as I examined him. In verses 10 and 11, he looks back. Paul writes, Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecution, and sufferings.
Such has happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra. What persecution I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me. When you get to verses 12 and 13, he looks ahead.
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Evil men and imposters will proceed from bad to worse, believing and being deceived. You, however, meaning you Timothy, you continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of.
So let's go into those three dimensions. First, the past, verses 10 and 11. Model the truth you have been taught by those you trusted.
That's what I think the two verses are saying. There's a helpful principle worth remembering, and it's this. There's a powerful link between what we remember from those who taught us, those who were our mentors, and the way we continue today. When I was going through my tour of duty in the Marine Corps, I was stationed for 16 months on the island of Okinawa. While I was there, there was a man who was a representative of the Navigators named Bob Newkirk. I lost Bob recently in his 90s. But as I was on the island back then, Bob took me under his wing, and I as a young Marine, and there were several from the Navy and Air Force and Army that he also was mentoring in. Bob meant much to me during those days of loneliness and lots of adjustments, living on the island away from my wife and from my immediate family and all the friends that were mine in the city of Houston where I grew up. Bob became for me a stabilizing force. He went through a very difficult time. To this day, I never knew exactly what it was, but I found out about it from his wife, Norma. I went to their modest home to be with Bob during that time, and he wasn't there.
Norma said to me, you may find him at his office down in the village. It was monsoon time, so the rain was falling. If you've been through a monsoon, you know that you get soaked even though you don't realize the rain is coming down.
It's like a heavy, heavy dew that just is constant and constant. The paths were muddy, but I made my way to his little office. He never knew.
I went there, and when I got closer to it, I looked through the bamboo siding of his office and I saw my mentor crying out to God. He was on his knees. He was singing.
I'd never heard Bob sing before. Come, thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace. Dreams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise. And on through that hymn, he sang from memory. He was on his knees. I was standing there and rain dripping off my nose, and I began to weep as I saw him going through this whatever it was that was such a burden to him. My heart went out to him.
I never told him that I had done that, that I'd stood out in the darkness and witnessed it, but it was meaningful to me to see the man that I loved and admired in his weakness, in his vulnerability. Howard Taylor writes of that as he refers to his father during the founding days of China Inland Mission. He refers to the time when they were all, the little children and the mom and dad slept in this basement area in those cold days in inland China. He said my dad would draw a little curtain between where my mom and my dad slept and us kids slept. And he said, I used to hear my dad pour out his heart to God in quiet prayer. He buried two of his wives over there, lost one, fell in love with another, lost her. Through all the grief, Howard remembers his father Hudson enduring affliction.
He even wrote in one place of those biographical volumes, the sun never rose for 40 years in China but that God didn't find my father on his knees in prayer. Something happens to you when you know that of someone you respect and you see them going through difficult times. Don't forget them. You'll go through them.
And witnessing your own mentor or maybe your own mom or dad going through tough times like that or maybe a professor dying of some terminal illness, you never forget them as the disease ultimately takes him. So much for the past, verses 10 and 11. You get to 12, he now moves to the future and he says indeed all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. I want to tell you ahead of time, you're in for some persecution. You're in for some hardship.
I don't say that to discourage you, I say that to equip you. You have no idea where it will come from. Because people are deceitful, it will sometime come from those you trusted but their trust was deceiving. It may come from an associate. It was a part with you in the ministry who turned on you. I've had that experience. It's absolutely heartbreaking.
May come from someone in the world system that's determined to make life miserable for you. Kit Hughes writes in his work on 2 Timothy, these words, if anyone accepts a set of standards that is different from the world standard, he is bound to have trouble. Some form of opposition will come if we attempt to witness to a world that hates to be told the truth and loves darkness. You'll be doing that in your ministry, telling the truth to people who love darkness. Timothy knew all this but to hear it from Paul again in the period just before his death was bracing, I like that word, bracing. Paul's words were bracing to Timothy.
This was reality and the acceptance of it placed Timothy on solid ground for whatever was to come. So my point here about your future is there's a price you will pay. If you determine to make a lasting difference to the people you serve, you'll pay a price.
Not everyone will be applauding and grateful for you. Some will work against you and they will do things that will be designed to silence your message. They'll sometimes, as I said earlier, be deceitful things. The second thing I will say about the future is deceitful people will increase and intensify. If you question that, you've been asleep the last 10 or 15 years because we've all witnessed an intensity of deception. People lie regularly. People will promise that they're telling you the truth when in fact they're not. You'll counsel people and confront things that they need to hear and they will give you their word that they will work on these things in their marriage all the while they continue on with an affair that's going on on the side.
That hurts because you want to help them do what is right and they are deceiving you into thinking that what you're saying is making a difference but, in fact, in their lives it is not. What it will take to hang in there, not just knowledge, will take convictions. I've learned over the years that I didn't really gain convictions in the classroom.
Convictions come from one's character, from one's training, from one's experience. When our class graduated back in 1963, there were 48 of us as I recall in the class of graduates. Dr. Walvoord was the president of the school and he addressed our class and he was alone.
We were alone with him in a smaller room before we put on our caps and gowns to walk across the platform and receive our degrees. He made a statement I wrote in my Bible and I've referred to it on a number of occasions. He said this to us as we were graduating, I am concerned that some of you are graduating with a great deal of knowledge but not enough convictions. As I look back over the past 59 years, I can tell you and testify to the wisdom of his warning.
He was right. The major challenges I've faced in these years of ministry have not required of me a greater amount of knowledge, though I've grown in knowledge in my study of the scriptures, but they've required from me firmer convictions. The ability to face people with truthful information.
As we often say, to call a spade a spade. To come to a passage of scripture and not dance around it but to dig into it and apply it even when it speaks volumes to you, convicting words that address areas of your own life. Let me go back to that earlier quote. There's a powerful link between remembrance and continuance. As I remember Dr. Walvoord's words, I continue reminding myself what I need is mainly stronger convictions, firmer convictions.
You will too. That's what he's saying to Timothy here. Since there are those who will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived, stand firm Timothy. Don't let that shake you. Stay at it. Don't give in, don't give up. The grass will often seem greener on the other side and you'll think, well if I change churches it'll be different.
I'll tell you the grass is often not even edible on the other side and you'll think it is because it's so tough where you are. Stay where it's tough. Stay right there. Don't look for some place that's going to be easier because you're weary of the testing.
The testing is good for you. Let it be. Timothy could fall back on the words of his mother and grandmother, Eunice and Lois. I've always loved the words of John Calvin who said Timothy was reared in his family in such a way that he could suck in godliness along with his mother's milk.
Terrific way to put it. If you were growing up and your mother taught you early on in your life about Christ and as my mother memorized verses with you and challenged you to learn them and to learn them exactly as the scripture states them, you'll give thanks for that for the rest of your ministry. As you think back and call to mind from your past, look at verse 14, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of. Things you've learned would be your knowledge. You've learned them in the classroom at the seminary. You've learned them from your own study of the scriptures. You've learned them from your spouse. You've learned the knowledge of the truth from colleagues that you admire, from mentors. But becoming convinced of them is convictions. You'll learn that on your own. There's no class on teaching you convictions. You cultivate that on your own.
And I'll say again, this is a great time for you to give thanks that you're able to continue in the things you learned and have become convinced of. No one has ever said it better than Amy Carmichael, that dear lady who left the comforts of home and made her way to southern India and spent her life working with those even back then who were subject to human trafficking. Sex slaves, even though young girls. Orphans, those that had no one to love them and she loved them deeply.
She made a lasting difference in who knows how many lives. I love her works, she writes, from prayer that asks that I may be sheltered from winds that beat on thee. From fearing when I should aspire.
From faltering when I should climb higher. From silken self, oh captain, free thy soldier who would follow thee. From the subtle love of softening things, easy choices, weakenings. Not thus are spirits fortified, not this way with the crucified. From all that dims thy calvary, oh lamb of God, deliver me. Give me the love that leads the way, the faith that nothing can dismay, the hope no disappointments tire, the passion that will burn like fire. Let me not sink to be a clod. I love that line.
Let me not sink to be a clod. Make me thy fuel, flame of God. That's my prayer for you, men and women. I care that when you leave the halls of Dallas Seminary that you stay strong. That you stay straight. That you love this book and you teach this truth. And every time you have the opportunity to encourage others, you make a lasting difference by opening the word to them and helping them see the truth.
And then you get out of the way as God does his work in their lives, just as I step away from your life today. I have no idea where the Lord will take you. You think you know. You don't have any idea. You have no clue how the Lord's going to use you. You couldn't even guess how the Lord's going to test you. But he will. And your life will become like Job's, who wrote, he knows the way that I take when he has tried me.
I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held his steps and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the command of his lips. For I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. What a word to say.
And his body is covered with sores from head to foot. God knows the way I take. Bow with me, will you? Thank you, Father, for speaking to us in terms that we can all understand. We've all looked back, albeit briefly. We've remembered some who have built into our lives, and we give you thanks for each. We've looked ahead and realized that difficult times are coming, savage times, exceedingly violent times. We'll need your strength, strength when we are weak. We need you to become our all in all, not just a part time partner. We need you to be our constant guide. Thank you for your spirit who indwells us and guides us and convicts us and uses us. May we, by your grace, make a lasting difference in the lives of others in the years ahead. In the name of Christ I pray.
Everybody sit. Amen. You're listening to Insight for Living. Chuck Swindoll titled his message, Making a Lasting Difference. This is the final day in a brand new six-part series called The Pros and Cons of Ministry. As I mentioned earlier, it's a collection of sermons originally presented to the students attending Dallas Theological Seminary, where Chuck prepared for ministry and where he later served as the seminary's president. To learn more about this series and to access Chuck's online study notes, go to insightworld.org slash studies. Let me give you a preview of what's been happening here at Insight for Living. Chuck's been working on another brand new series, and this time his topic is The Family. It's a practical seven-part study that Chuck has titled Restoring Your Family's Foundation.
This is for listeners of all ages and stages of life, so be sure to listen to all the messages. And then don't forget you're invited to participate in the online worship service on Sunday mornings with us. That's right, thousands around the world are taking advantage of this opportunity to enter the worship service where Chuck serves as senior pastor.
To view the service on Sunday or watch at a time that suits you, go to insight.org slash Sundays. Opportunities to connect through this program are made available through the generous support of friends just like you. So as God leads you to give, please follow His prompting. If it's been a while since you've been in touch with us, or perhaps you've never reached out to give a donation, why not do that today? You can give by calling us.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888, or you can give online by going to insight.org slash donate. Cruise ships leave the harbor for Alaska all the time, but there's only one that's hosted by Inside for Living Ministries. You're invited to travel with Chuck Swindoll this summer. Every moment of your vacation is thoughtfully prepared and protected so that you can enjoy the perfect balance of rest, adventure, relaxation, sightseeing, and just plain fun, all in the company of those who share your respect for God's word and God's creation.
Yeah, I'll put it this way. God had a very good day when He created Alaska. I was awestruck by the majestic mountains, the wildlife, the quaint little seaports. All my life, I've wanted to see a glacier.
When I stepped out on the deck of our ship and witnessed the massive wall of ice, wow, it was truly breathtaking. Escape with Inside for Living Ministries to the great frontier, July 1st through July 8th, 2023. Call 1-888-447-0444. That's 1-888-447-0444 or learn more at insight.org slash events.
The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll starts a brand new series called Restoring Your Family's Foundation next time on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Making a Lasting Difference, was copyrighted in 2022 and 2023 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2023 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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