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Discussion on Prayer

Tonight I have found myself in a superb discussion on prayer with several people in two places. As we have dialoged, I have searched for succinct thoughts by reputable teachers of the Word and found Dr. DA Carson talking on the matter. Hope you enjoy.

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Superb Resource on the Scripture

I rec’d this from Ligonier Ministries a few months back and it is a superb walk-through of the whole of scripture with sound doctrine and theology. I am even using this with my children at home for their studies.

Get your Ligonier $5 Friday Items

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A great short video from one of my brothers in the Lord.

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Reflection of Life. Pondering Worship

When I began writing online many years ago I had one honest goal: to be heard. What a joke. As I have been peeling through the layers of my life over the last few months, I remember what a wise-fool I have been through the years. The irony of this is that when I started this blog, I named it Being Wise and More Stupid as it was during a life-changing moment for me.

I had discovered that although I thought I knew so much, I realized just how impossible it was for my wisdom to have any effect on life at all. I discovered at that time that I was really only becoming wise in the wisdom of my stupidity, or at least the acknowledgement of it. Looking back over the last five or six years (just a short breath), it has hit me again that humility has not always been one of my strong points. However, God has been faithful to break and mold and measure my heart against His holiness and in turn, I find myself yet in another low but joyous point in my life.

It’s a low point like never before. Not a lowness of spirit or a low point emotionally where I have no hope. It’s not like my depression season where I could not determine any good from anything, it’s a lowering that results from God’s affection and my realizing just how unworthy I am of His grace. This low point, I pray, will get lower and lower, because I truly believe it is where the children of God are supposed to live; broken and humble. Not to say I am humble, which I wish I could be more, but to say that God’s humbling of a man is something that no one can accomplish on his own. Praise be to God for His infinite grace which lowers each of us in His timing.

In this low point I have discovered several key things that might be helpful for others to consider, they surely are for me:

  1. That all that we learn and glean is never enough to place us as experts or “wise” because all true learning and wisdom comes from God so that we have no boast except in the work of the Lord.
  2. That no matter how God uses us in His work, we are not the one’s who deserve the glory or the crown, but rather our lives are owned by Him even before He saves us so there is no boast except in the Lord.
  3. That all believers, no matter how God uses them are His children and are where He desires them to be for His timing.  We are never “better” than another child of God because we have all been given the same grace.
  4. Our affection for the “least of these” is not an obligatory affection because of God’s commands, but a true supernatural love that only God can give.  Maturity is truly measured by our worship to God in all things and our affection toward each other with humility and honor for the Lord.
  5. Just because we understand something does not make us wise, it is only God using that knowledge in His glorious way does it become wisdom and even when it is wise, our hearts try to accommodate room for pride which is of the flesh, so we must be in a continual state of reflection and of course repentance.
  6. As I write and you read this, we might agree with this wisdom in our souls, however, we must always be aware that tomorrow, we might be allowed to see, by God’s grace, just how foolish we are today and thus have relied once again on His never-ending grace.
  7. That there are much more lessons and reflection that could fill the world from God’s people, but we must also go into the world and make disciples of each other for His glory.
  8. That our affections, as much as we “think” Christ is our highest, are often shown differently, even our ministries and worship can become idols.
  9. … for God’s future grace.

As for this low place, I embrace it and look forward to how God might humble me in the next 60 years if I live that long.  As for now, I also stand in the place of JOY because all the growth that God does is a reason for joy.  He is the treasure of our souls and nothing, absolutely nothing can stand in His way nor the way of our affections for Him.  A broken and contrite heart you do not despise oh Lord!

May God continue His plan as He promised He would.  For His Glory,

Pastor James

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Bible and Theological Questions? Sunday Night at 5:30 PST

If you have any questions that you would like to pose for our first 2011 Q&A, please let us know by posting it to the blog, tweeting us or pinging us on Facebook.

We are looking forward to our monthly sessions being live online very soon.  Stay tuned.

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When My Life is Over | Absolute Affections

Thinking back on Thanksgiving day is sometimes a somber time.  It reminds me of the reality of even the poorest of poor have so much in God’s providence, especially in America.  It reminds me of all that God allows us to have, dream of and establish in our lives and at the same time, it is a conviction of these things.

I was considering my short life thus far this morning and this thought came to my head, “When my life is over, whenever that may be, I want those who knew me to surely grasp where my absolute affections laid.” As this thought mulled over in my mind for about twenty minutes, I begin to sort through affections and places I give my attention in life to see what others might say.

Sadly, I have been shown the real and present need of God’s grace in that I have too many affections that divide my time for the glory of God.  I guess that is why Paul speaks so bold in regards to giving “glory to Christ” in all things and why Jesus speaks of “seeking first the Kingdom of Heaven” so that our lustful hearts will continually strive in His power to love Him above all things.

This kind of thinking requires, for me, a listing of things that often times get in the way of my ultimate treasure who is Christ and can easily be mistaken as my absolute affections, especially if I am not here to defend against them.  So for the record and for my own worship, I wanted to expose a few of them that maybe someone else might glean for themselves some idols.  I am also aware that many who read this will say, “this guy is crazy, these are not “wrong” to love”.  And you might be correct, but be warned that if you love them above Christ, they are your treasure and HE IS NOT.  God’s mercy abounds in our unbelief and ignorance – praise be to God!

My short list of affections that sometimes take first chair can easily be seen in my children and my bride.  Although I am to love them as Christ loves the church and lead my children in the ways of the Lord, my family is not Christ and I do not want to be known for loving my family above all things, but second to Christ.  This is a problem with many Christian families in that they put themselves and their relative homes in front of the gospel of Christ and in turn become worshipers of the idol of family.  Something interesting to note is that the children in our care are given to us by God that they might grow up and “leave” the parents and “cleave” to another thereby displaying a miniature picture of the gospel.  Then our marriages and theirs, are to reflect the eternal nature of the gospel of Christ and will one day cease.  This tells me that even our families are dying things and our affections for them above Christ is a dying affection placed on perishable things.  Something to consider.

With this being said, our entire purpose on this world is to give glory to Christ and long for the day when we see Him face-to-face.  That day when all that we have done is over and what we have left to do is worship His majesty.  This is the legacy of a true child of God, to leave behind an unmistakable reality that their affections were for Christ above all things and my prayer is that my dying day would usher in that thought into all who morn by departure.

I read through 2 Corinthians as I finish this post and resign with these words:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-18 ESV)

For His Eternal Glory

James H. Tippins

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Test of Sonship, NOT Test for Sonship

2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

This text has resonated with me over the last few months as I have considered why so many people work so hard to fight the sovereignty of God.  It’s texts like these that are completely misquoted that cause such a concern for the power of man in redemption.  Over the years I have heard this verse to be used to explain why someone must grow, learn and serve.  Although I think it is a good point, the “unsaid” assumption is that man people read this verse to say, “You will be approved by God if you work unashamedly in truth.”  Although there are many variations, this is one of them main teachings of this verse.  If one would take just a minute and look at the verse, even in English, it says nothing at all to that point. [click to continue…]

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Burned out PastorIt never fails, every few weeks I get to sit down either over coffee or on the phone with a brother-in-arms in the Gospel ministry who is ready to throw it all away and quit.  “Walking back into the world seems like the only hope I have to stay alive” one said to me recently.  Another pointing out how he just cannot go on taking the negative and thankless hatred that is spewed to his face and about him week after week.

It’s time to consider what makes a man go to the desperate end to consider walking away from what God calls him to do until his heart stops beating.  I’ve never really written about this, but boy have I lived and dealt with it many times over.  As a matter of fact, I have actually written a resignation letter more times than I can remember, the glory of it all, is that I have never printed them out and turned them in.  Thank God for His grace.

“Burn Out” is one thing, continuing to “smoke” is another.  As I entitled this post I thought some people would take this and run with it, we’ll see; however, when a pastor “burns out”, he often doesn’t even have the option of taking up smoking, because it would just belabor the problems in his life.  And when ministry knocks you down and there is hardly any breath left in your lungs, you are now just blue, but beaten to a pulp – I digress.

Really though, burn-out for the pastor is something that all too often comes quickly and smothering to the point that he is unable to overcome the pain, even if he remains, and becomes disqualified to shepherd himself, must less any flock of sheep.  As I think about these seasons in my past and know that there might well be such a season right around the corner, I think about Paul’s teaching to Timothy where he said, “preach the word in season and out of season.”  I know Paul was not lying here, but I can honestly say I have never seen an “in-season” for the word of God in many congregations.  Although one can see many in seasons in the lives of individuals and those who hunger passionately for God’s truth, as a whole, the bodies in the pews are not usually ready for the truth of God’s word.  So thinking through the seasons of a pastor’s life, I think it’s a big and constant “out of season” lesson that we must endure.

Well, I hope this helped, have a great life…

Now if I had ended this article there it would have been a mess.  So, as I move forward, I want to make very clear a few things.  There are reasons a man feels burnout and some of them can be man-made or God-made.  In this context, if a pastor, who is called of God to proclaim the Gospel of Christ and shepherd the body of Christ to maturity and love is doing everything but what God has called him to do, he has reason to be burned out because he is a wasted life.  On the other hand, sometimes proclaiming and pushing the truth to light brings some external and internal struggles that brings the frustration to a boil.  I want to mention a few things, obviously not exhaustively, that might help such a man get his bearings. [click to continue…]

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Spurgeon | Spirit of Halloween

IN the spirit of Halloween, here is my “treat” for those who realize the greatness of the Reformation and all it’s successors.  Enjoy over 1000 messages on audio from the “Prince of Preachers” from Sermon Audio archives and Koelsch Broadcasting Productions.

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Just a Few Thoughts on the Calvinist Debate

I’ve noticed recently at how much “defining” of evangelical, calvinists and other seemingly antithetical circles that do not hold up to truth or history. An interesting article by the Economist suggests that Calivinism is causing division and the article truly reveals how misinformation plagues the church.

Take a look at Thabiti Anyabwile’s article on the Economist article and give me your thoughts.

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