Learning from the Letters of Paul

Verse to consider:Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose in grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” – 2 Timothy 1:8-9

School of Biblical Studies
Over the past month with Emmaus Ministries, I (Jacob) had the privilege of teaching two of the three Pastoral Epistles (Titus and 2 Timothy) for the students in our School of Biblical Studies. These books are unique in their personal tone and depth of emotion, given that they are most likely the final three epistles that the apostle Paul writes before he is martyred in Rome. There were two things in particular that were emphasized for me while studying for these books: living a life that is not only rooted in sound doctrine but shown through right actions, and living life with an eternal perspective.

In the book of Titus, Paul is addressing two specific problem groups within the church of Crete: the Cretans themselves who are known for their incredibly bad reputation, and the seemingly well-intentioned Judaizers who are trying to fix the Cretans by forcing them to obey Jewish ceremonial laws in order to be right before God. Both groups are attacking the gift of grace in their own way. The Cretans have used the freedom found in Christ as a license for every type of undisciplined act, while the Judaizers have formed a list of rules to be kept in order to achieve salvation. But Paul stresses for Titus to teach the church that there is an inseparable link between both sound doctrine AND good works!

2nd Timothy is deeply emotional as we see Paul is in prison, writing what is likely his last epistle before he dies. Paul writes to his spiritual son, Timothy, “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come…” But Paul doesn’t end his letter on this somber note. Instead, he forces Timothy to reorient his gaze upon Jesus, the one who has not only conquered death, but “has brought life and immortality to light through this gospel…” In class, we had an object illustration to show the breadth of eternity, in contrast to the brief life we are in, forcing us to ask how much of our life is being lived for the sake of our present circumstances rather than the hope of eternal life in Jesus.

(The paper represented eternity, versus the minuscule dot drawn on the paper to represent the span of our life.)

As we finished our study of Paul’s epistles, I was forced to reconcile with the call Paul placed on all of our lives: Share in the suffering. He compares this call to the life of an athlete who trains hard and unceasingly for a race. A race that is long and filled with mountains and rough terrain, but a race that is run for the sake of the finish line. Too often the trials along the way seem insurmountable, but in light of an eternal perspective, their weight doesn’t even register on the scale. And yet God still seeks and comforts those who are in pain. Hallelujah!
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General Happenings
Thank you for you’re continued interest and support in this ministry that God has called our family into. Here are some other short updates on what’s been going on:
MOrgan teachingAs a testament to the work God is doing through Emmaus Ministries, here is a picture of our co-worker, who recently gave her first lecture in our school after having previously been a student. And not just any student, but an introverted student who had sworn off public speaking in any form all together! But God worked in her heart through this school and called her into action in a way that she couldn’t ignore. What a blessing it is to witness God at work!
stephen teachingHere is a not so great picture of another co-worker who was previously a student of Emmaus Ministries and has now been invited to speak and give sermons at local churches thanks to his Bible training. For those unaware, the core of Emmaus Ministries’ mission is to equip the local body of Christ, this is just one of the many ways we have been able to do so.

The conference center where our campus is located has recently appointed a new director, here’s a picture of us working to help partner with them in beautifying the grounds and support those who have been such an awesome support to us. “Authentic Relationships” is another one of Emmaus Ministries’ core values, so we volunteer work hours on a weekly basis for our campus friends.

Prayer Requests
We have many general prayer requests regarding health and wellness. A number of our teaching staff have been subject to a a bad flu going around. We also have family members who would greatly appreciate your prayers concerning the health of current babies and babies that are yet to come. And for that matter, we’d love prayer for the health of our own baby, Benaiah. 🙂

Most pressing on our minds is our need for increased financial support. Since our last update asking for more support, we were thankfully blessed with some additional giving. Thank you to those who have given! But our need is still very present. If you would like to see our work to help train others to know their Bible continue, we would ask for you to consider becoming a regular financial partner. If you are interested in becoming a one-time or recurring donor, click this link and follow the instructions given. Of course, we would love to answer any question you may have about our work or the giving process. To reach us, please reference our “contact us” tab above.

For cute pictures of Benaiah, read on. 🙂

Thanks and blessings!
-The McRae Family

We introduced Benaiah to the ocean, he was not impressed…

Benaiah also likes to hang out in our School of Biblical Studies class.

But his favorite days are when he gets to hang out at home with mom.

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