We are looking forward to our monthly sessions being live online very soon. Stay tuned.
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
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…]
It 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…]
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.
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.
In a conversation with a brother yesterday, it was discussed how we often allow other things to interrupt our time in the word. As we spoke my mind went to other seasons of my life when I even spent more time reading other books about the scripture rather than being with God through His word personally. The idea of this seems harmless but three things came to mind out of our conversation that I felt were worth sharing:
- When we are using other people’s writing to secure our fellowship an intimacy with Christ, we are not living and walking with him directly but vicariously. It begs to be said that Christians “should” read good writing and theologically sound books, however, these cannot be our staple but should be viewed sort of like “cakes” or “candy”. We are ok to have a slice but not more than solid healthy food. The writings of others should shed clarity and “aha” moments in our worship. They should drive us back to Christ, our true Husband, not wanting more of another man’s romance with our King. Just a thought.
- When we constantly debate in our minds about our time and how we just don’t have any extra time for the scripture and study, we need to ask ourselves a hard question. “What do I really love?” Usually as we peel back the layers of hours and write them down for a few weeks, we see just how selfish and self-loving we really are. We come to the realization that we are spending our time on our stuff and that we truly do give to “ME” everything that we want.
- In this line of thinking, I wonder what the consequence would be if a husband took his wife on an anniversary date and then half way through dinner he takes a call from a buddy who then begins to dialog about a sporting event they watched the week before. After an hour into the phone call, the women walks out and gets a cab for home. The man has no reason to be perplexed by her actions. What does this have to do with the topic of this article? Everything. When we say that other people and other things interrupt our time with Christ, we are doing the same thing this man did, placing other “joys” above his true love. This type of behavior shows where are true love really is. Think about it.
In closing, remember that our joy in Christ is complete when we are confident in Christ, His sufficiency in all things and passionately growing in our worship of Christ. These things are ONLY accomplished through the living Word of the bible. Take a moment, write down an hourly account of your day and a weekly account of where you spend your time spiritually. Then decide if your profession of being a lover of Christ really plays out in the stewardship of your time. Hmmm… makes me think about where I spend my money too. Another post maybe.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.(2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV)
And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.(2 Peter 1:19-21 ESV)
Ok, now that everyone has come to this post and seen nothing, I decided to just post a few questions for you to respond.
- What topics or questions would you like to have addressed?
- What areas of concern do you see in the church today?
- How is the Gospel really making a difference in your daily life?
- What social issues should the church be dealing with and why?
Just a few thoughts to get the mind rolling. Again, sorry the accidental post. But who knows!
This lecture is one of the best on the fall I have ever heard. We had the privilege of Christian Soldier’s Ministries bring Dr. Downing in for this event and this lecture will most likely be a three part series. Take about an hour and listen, it’s well worth it.
The general listing of questions is posted below the audio.
1. What is the significance of Genesis chapter three?
2. What have their beginnings here?
3. Who was the tempter and what was his motive?
4. What is sin?
5. Why did the serpent approach the woman?
6. How did the serpent approach the woman?
7. At what point was the woman seduced by the serpent?
8. What was the serpent’s lie and its effect?
9. Why did Adam and Eve hide themselves from the voice of the Lord God?
10. What answer did Adam give to the Lord God?
11. What was Eve’s response to the question of the Lord God?
12. What was the significance of the curse upon the Serpent?
13. What is the woman’s desire toward her husband?
14. What was the effect of Adam’s sin upon creation?
15. What did the Lord God provide for fallen, sinful man?
16. What occurred in the human personality as a result of the fall?
17. What is the significance of the wilderness temptation of our lord?
18. What is the ultimate purpose of God for fallen creating?