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Timothy Paul Jones

Husband of one, father of two, author of several, professor at Southern Seminary, member of Sojourn Community Church, enjoyer of all things local, adopted by God, enthralled by the gospel

Posted 9/16/13 at 8:24 AM | Timothy Paul Jones

Do You See Who Your Children Really Are?

Believe it or not, your children’s first and foremost identity is not to be your children. Your children were created for a far greater identity—an identity that will last into eternity. Inasmuch as they embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, your children were created to be your brothers and sisters. And so, every child in your household should be seen first and foremost not as your son or your daughter but as a potential or actual brother or sister in Christ.

So what happens when parents perceive their children as potential or actual brothers and sisters in Christ?

The writings of Paul provide some hints. The same apostle who called Timothy to encourage younger believers as Christian brothers and sisters also commanded fathers to nurture their offspring “in the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” (Eph. 6:4; see also Col. 3:21).

In other letters, Paul applied these same two terms—discipline and instruction—to patterns that characterized the disciple-making relationships of brothers and sisters in Christ. Discipline described one of the key results of training in the words of God (2 Tim. 3:16). Instruction implied guidance to avoid unwise behaviors and ungodly teachings (1 Cor. 10:11; Titus 3:10). Such texts strongly suggest that Paul was calling parents—and particularly fathers—to do far more than manage their children’s behaviors and provide for their needs. Paul expected parents to engage personally in teaching their children God’s words and ways. Summarizing these words from Paul, a fourth-century pastor known as John Chrysostom said to fathers in his congregation, “Never regard it as a small matter that your child should be a diligent learner of the Scriptures.” FULL POST

Posted 8/26/13 at 12:59 PM | Timothy Paul Jones

Family Ministry: How a Biblical Worldview Shapes the Way We Teach Our Children

To have a biblical worldview is to interpret every aspect of our lives—including our relationships with children—within the framework of God's story. At the center of God's story stands this singular act: In Jesus Christ, God personally intersected human history and redeemed humanity at a particular time in a particular place. Yet this central act of redemption does not stand alone. It is bordered by God’s good creation and humanity’s fall into sin on the one hand and by the consummation of God’s kingdom on the other.

This story of creation, fall and law, redemption, and consummation is the story that Christians have repeated to one another and to the world ever since Jesus ascended into the sky and sent his Spirit to dwell in his first followers' lives. This age-old plot-line should frame every aspect of our lives—including how we treat and train children.


In each movement of God's storyline, it is clear that children are neither burdens to be avoided nor byproducts of human sin. Every child is a blessing and a gift (Ps. 127:3–5). Even before humanity's fall into sin, God designed the raising of children to serve as a means for the multiplication of his manifest glory around the globe (Gen. 1:26–28). A few bites of forbidden fruit, raising Cain as well as Abel, and a worship service that ended in fratricide took their toll on that first family--but God refused to give up on his first purpose to turn the family into a means for revealing his glory. God promised that, through the offspring of Eve, he would send a redeemer to fulfill his plan to pour out his glory over all the earth (Gen. 3:15; 4:1, 25). The family becomes a path both for bringing the Messiah into the world and for passing the message of the Messiah from one generation to the next. FULL POST

Posted 7/24/13 at 10:47 AM | Timothy Paul Jones

The Words That Once Preceded "Amazing Grace"

Photo: Flickr/Diane Griffiths - Creative Commons

Today, July 24, is the birthdate in 1725 of John Newton, author of the hymn lyrics now known as “Amazing Grace.” While doing some research related to Newton, I ran across another set of lyrics that are equally powerful but far less familiar.

First off, a few little-known facts about “Amazing Grace”:

* The original title wasn’t “Amazing Grace” at all but “Faith’s Review and Expectation.”

* The words weren’t joined to the familiar “New Britain” tune until 1835, more than a half-century after John Newton penned the first version of the lyrics.

* John Newton and William Cowper wrote a new lyric almost every week for the church members who gathered weekly for prayer meeting in the village of Olney; “Faith’s Review and Expectation” was one of these hymns, penned as a poetic reflection on 1 Chronicles 17:16-17.

* “Faith’s Review and Expectation” was first published in 1779 in Olney Hymns, six years or so after Newton wrote the original verses for a New Year’s Day prayer meeting.

* Hymn texts in Olney Hymns were arranged according to the biblical passage on which each hymn was based—an arrangement that, in my opinion, it would be helpful to recover. FULL POST

Posted 7/8/13 at 8:32 AM | Timothy Paul Jones

Why Choosing Your Favorite Team Should Be Nothing Like Choosing a Church

The Major League Baseball season is in full swing once again. My favorite team, the Kansas City Royals, are currently third in the American League Central standings with a 41--44 record.

It’s around this time each year that I find myself asking once again, “How exactly was it that I ended up a Kansas City Royals fan?” The last time the Royals were serious contenders for a pennant, Ronald Reagan was residing on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Berlin Wall was still intact, and grunge hadn’t yet made it past the Seattle city limits.

Goodness knows, I’ve tried to stop rooting for a losing team. During my years of earning graduate degrees, I stopped following baseball altogether. Upon my return, I realized that—though Kansas City had fared no better without me than with me—not even decades in the cellar of season-end standings had managed to dethrone the Royals from first place in my sporting allegiances.

:: Why Keep Choosing a Losing Team? ::

I am clearly not the only person who persists in prioritizing a particular team even when that team never earns a place in the postseason. After all, someone, somewhere, purchases the kitsch and clothing that memorabilia manufacturers imprint with the logos of Indians and Mariners, Pirates and Cubs. FULL POST

Posted 6/17/13 at 8:31 AM | Timothy Paul Jones

Family Ministry: Three Facts You May Not Know About the Parents In Your Church

I recently wrote an article for D6 Family entitled “It’s Time to Engage!: Three Facts You Need to Know to Launch an Incredible Family Ministry.”

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The animated feature The Incredibles is a favorite movie in our household—and one of our favorite scenes is the family meal early in the film.

Dinner at the Parr household has deteriorated into pandemonium. The infant squeals in delight at the chaos as two siblings engage in super-powered combat. A frazzled mom strains unsuccessfully to restore order.

And what about Bob Parr, father and former “Mr. Incredible”? He stands to the side, physically present, relationally absent, utterly uncertain as to what to do.

Finally, his wife flings a frantic plea in his direction: “Bob! It’s time to engage! Don’t just stand there. Do something!” The problem is, Mr. Incredible has no clue how to engage the situation wisely, and his engagement results in greater chaos.

Then, the doorbell rings.

Suddenly, everyone scrambles for a seat at the table and, by the time the door opens, what the visitor sees is a perfectly placid all-American family. FULL POST

Posted 6/11/13 at 10:05 AM | Timothy Paul Jones

Who Was Augustine and Why Does He Matter?

As a young man in North Africa, Augustine traded the Christian faith of his mother Monica for the pursuit of personal pleasure and prestige. Yet the more Augustine chased after the things he thought would make him happy, the more God pursued him.

It was in a garden in Italy that Augustine heard the voice of a child, singing a bit of rhyme, “Take up and read, take up and read.” When Augustine took up a nearby copy of the New Testament to read, the first verses to catch his eye were from Paul’s letter to the Romans, 13:11-14. Broken by the message of this text, Augustine finally recognized Jesus as Lord not only of the world but also of his own life. The year was 386.

Nine years later, Augustine was declared overseer of the church in the city of Hippo (modern Annaba, Algeria). In this role, he became a prolific defender of orthodox Christianity against false teachers such as the British monk Pelagius. Talents and personality traits that had once driven Augustine to seek his own glory became the very tools through which God worked to strengthen the faith of his people in the fifth century and beyond. FULL POST

Posted 6/3/13 at 8:50 AM | Timothy Paul Jones

What Happened to the Church after the Apostles Died?

Photo: Flickr/Jim the Photographer - Creative Commons
The Apostle's Creed and the Lord's Prayer on display at Christ Church in Philadelphia. Creeds played an important role in the history of Christianity.

By the end of the first century, Roman persecutions were dogging God’s people from the outside, and false teachings from people who claimed to be Christians were hounding the church from within. The Ebionites said that Jesus was a human Messiah but not the divine Lord. Most Gnostics, on the other hand, depicted Jesus as a spiritual being who had only seemed human. To make matters worse, most of the apostles and eyewitnesses of the risen Jesus had passed away, so it was becoming increasingly difficult to determine which traditions about Jesus were true.

Faced with such challenging circumstances, Christians asked several crucial questions: Which writings should be seen as authoritative? How was Jesus fully God and fully man? What are the necessary beliefs that every Christian must embrace?

These were not heady debates, limited to Bible colleges or theological seminaries. These were deeply practical struggles in local churches among men and women whose goal was to maintain the truth about Jesus at a time when proclaiming the gospel could cost Christians their lives.

Three primary responses to these challenges were:

(1) careful consideration of which texts were authoritative for Christians, FULL POST

Posted 5/20/13 at 9:01 AM | Timothy Paul Jones

How Did the Fall of a City and the Invention of a Printing Press Open the Door for Reformation?

Enormous tragedies struck Europe and Asia Minor throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. At one point, three different Roman Catholic bishops each claimed to be the legitimate pope. The Black Death claimed millions of lives. Muslim soldiers conquered Constantinople, the last remaining fragment of the ancient Eastern Empire.

In the midst of these tragedies, God raised up fresh voices—John Wycliffe in England, for example, and Jan Hus in Bohemia—to turn people’s minds to the truth of the Scriptures and the beauty of the gospel. God also worked through these tragedies for the good of his people and the world.

The tragic fall of Constantinople caused eastern scholars to flee westward with precious Greek manuscripts, including manuscripts of the New Testament. A renaissance of interest in ancient literature was already underway in Europe. Now, with access to these Greek manuscripts, scholars in Roman Catholic universities could interpret the New Testament not only in Latin but also in Greek—the language in which the New Testament was originally written!

Around this same time, a man named Johannes Gutenberg invented the first commercially-viable printing press that used movable metal type. This invention would make reading materials accessible to millions more people than ever before. FULL POST

Posted 5/13/13 at 8:38 AM | Timothy Paul Jones

Family Ministry: The Centality of Motherhood in Redemption

“It was male human nature that the Son of God united to his divine person; it was a female human person who was chosen to be his mother. In no woman has human nature been raised to the dignity which it possesses in Jesus of Nazareth, but to no male person has there been given a dignity comparable to that which Mary enjoys as Theotokos, a dignity which in the words of the Eastern liturgy makes her ‘more honorable than the cherubim and beyond comparison more glorious than the seraphim.’ … The centrality of womanhood in the redemption is shown by the fact that the Incarnation itself waited for the courageous and obedient Fiat of Mary (Luke 1:38).”

Eric L. Mascall
Whatever Happened to the Human Mind

Click here for the original post.

Click here for a special edition of the Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry on Motherhood.

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