I’ve got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy….

no I don’t… let’s be honest, when we are simply tired we can find it difficult to find out joy. Why? Because in our flesh we fail to remember that our Joy is Jesus Christ and HE is found only the pages of the bible! Get in the word and Christ will be your joy!

We appreciate your listening and look forward to seeing this podcast get off the ground with great force. By the Lord’s grace, we’ll continue to provide more and more teaching on this and other pastoral subjects. 

Also, get ready to start listening to our weekly hour-long podcast “Theology Answers” that can be found over at “TheologyAnswers.com” and is a part of the Christian Podcast Community.

“When there is no joy, there is no peace. There is no place but Christ to find either…”

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The effects of constant turmoil can be burnout. I’ve experienced plenty in my life and in reality, I have “quit” the ministry many many times. The truth is though, I have never told anyone!  This podcast purposes to talk a little about the issue of ministry fatigue, its causes, its purposes and most of all, its remedy.

00Over the last year, I have been inundated with numerous calls per day from unknown numbers, local number, toll-free numbers and even numbers I know only to find a telemarketer on the other end trying to either sell me something or trick me into thinking I had to hear their pitch. The list of ‘blocked’ numbers has grown to over 150 and quite honestly, I have become quite frustrated with the constant intrusion. Due to the fact that I receive a ton of calls every day that are legitimate when you add the garbage calls, it makes a phone a hated tool and sometimes it causes me to miss good conversations.  For 2018, it has been a different story.

I have started answering every call that comes to my phone when appropriate without fail. And in an effort to do all things without complaining and have joy while doing everything for the glory of God, I have found that answering every call as an opportunity to share the gospel is the best way to handle what otherwise is a means to frustration and sin. 

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, [15] that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, [16] holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Philippians 2:14-16 ESV)

This text is one of our favorites at home.  I think this is so because it is so delightfully easy to apply when someone in the house decides to rant about anything in particular with debate or aggravation.  The funny thing with this text is that most of the time when we apply it to others we do so in the spirit of not applying to ourselves.  What I mean is that it is often so easy to say, “hey, ALL THINGS without complaining” while we stand there complaining about the complaining.  In this line of thinking I have come to conclude several areas of hypocritical application of this verse in my own life.  Maybe some of you can agree. (About yourselves…. :))

  • Complaining about people’s attitudes.
  • Being frustrated about traffic.
  • Finding fault with others. (Inside my head.)
  • Realizing annoyance that others don’t consider me in regards to their “noise.”
  • Dirty clothes on the floor.
  • Mud on the carpet.
  • Dusty bibles.
  • Smelly anythings.
  • Those darn false teachers.
  • Those darn false teachings.
  • Those darn falsely taught. (Don’t be a grammar police.)
  • Bible Questions
  • Bible Answers
  • Bible Idiots
  • Translations
  • Transmissions
  • All things electronic.
  • All things non-electronic.
  • Politicians and leaders.
  • Lack of peace at times.
  • Lack of humility.
  • Mumbling or shouting.
  • The length of things.
  • The brevity of others.
  • Silly thinking.
  • Weak Faith.
  • What ever else gets in the way of me.

OK, I hope you get the point.  Some of the ideas popping in my head are not going to be expounded upon but the brief list will get each of us thinking I pray, about our long list of never-ending complaints, grumbles, disputes etc.  In reality the peace of Christ should rule our hearts to such a degree that when things that should upset, even rightly, are not stumbling blocks for us or others.  One of the greatest measures of the faithful is the joy of the Lord and I believe this comes equally with humility.  So, to be certain of God’s work in us, let’s pause a minute and ask ourselves the last time we had a complaint, even in our own minds and then see if it fits into the category of “ALL THINGS.”

Why does it matter?  Because the rule of Christ in our lives pulls us out of fleshly understanding and allows us to see with clarity the hand of God in ALL THINGS, especially the EGR issues and people.  (EGR = Extra Grace Required.)  This text says that IF WE complain and grumble and dispute that we bring BLAME and GUILT to our lives before others.  We FIT IN to a crooked and twisted generation rather than stand out in holiness in comparison.  We cover the light of Christ in our community rather than shine in the darkness. We let GO OF Christ in those moments because we feel that our take and “talk” on such matters is more vital than God’s purpose.  Paul argues here that he is being “poured out” as a drink offering for the sake of the Christians in Philippi and that their peaceful, hopeful, humble, content resolve will prove that he did not pour himself out for nothing.  In the same way beloved, let us rise with all the power of the Gospel as we hold fast to the One who bought us with His blood.

The church should be a light of hope, not a light of annoyance as she complains about everything.

For His Glory by His Grace,

Pastor James Tippins

“It doesn’t get any better than this…” I thought as I looked at my infant daughter surrounded by my four other children and bride of 18 years. Something wells up inside when I see the glorious beauty of my family and in the best of humility, I praise God for them and for His grace to afford me such joy in their lives and learnings. Holding an infant is one of those rare opportunities that few people actually do experience. I know for my other four children, their infant stages are a blur, mainly due to my double time activity schedule and pressure of ministry and the hail storms of expectations I placed on myself during those seasons. But this time it’s different. We are not burdened under a yolk of worldly expectations, but under the yolk of Jesus Christ. Therefore, this season in life is superb and grand in the scheme of them all and for this I am very thankful.

On the other hand, as I peel through the layers of what it all means and discern whether my esteem is idolatry or Christ-centered gratitude, it struck my heart, that this is NOT the best of times and that even though it comes easy to say that “it doesn’t get any better than this” I have fallen prey, just a moment, to the wrong point of focus. I know can hold my family and look wonderfully and joyfully into the reality that is God’s gracious mercy in them and say, “It Surely is gonna get better than this!” I have to think through this carefully so all can follow my thoughts. No better place to start than the beginning…

A Wedding

That wonderful Spring day in 1996 was the first time that I felt such things when as the doors of the vestibule opened for my eyes to gaze upon the bride of my soul.  Her beauty lodged glory into my heart that quickly grew in my throat as I was unable to swallow and I thought, “It doesn’t get any better than this…”  All the dreams and hopes and visions of what will be and for the most part, sans a few pebbles (and larger stones) along the way, it has be greater than I could ever have imagined.  But in all reality as Christ has revealed Himself more and more I see that the fullness of joy that came that day is a taste, a very very small taste of the complete and eternally full joy that will come when Christ and I are together along with my bride and my family, not as we are today, but as siblings in the same body!  The marriage of man and woman is a myopic pointer to the day of Christ’s return for His bride for whom He died.  My bride stood, and still does, at the door of that church in all beauty and splendor and one day, I too will stand as she stood, not just in dress and intention, but in pure righteousness.  It does get better than this, but this is good because it shows us just what we have yet to see! (Ephesians 5:25-)

Birth

Now having five children may seem like excess, but among our circles of friends across the globe, we are the minimalists and are about 40-60% complete as some would say.  But just in my introductory thoughts, the birth of a child is an amazing thing.  It reveals so much about the majesty of God’s power and how He alone can put all things together. (Col 1)  The miracle of life is so much more than just being well loved and having great and deep affection for a child; it bears the image of its Creator, a God who gives birth, not just physically to His creatures, but Spiritually as well.  Scripture teaches us that through suffering comes glory.  This is true in the whole of Biblical history and most specifically, it is true for the Christ, the Son of God who came to die in order to perfectly save sinners who were already dead.  Six weeks ago today we had just ended a 21 plus hour induction with cesarean and the fear at times was overwhelming and inexplicable. God’s grace carried us through and through all the suffering, all the darkness, all the fear, all the “dashed” dreams came LIFE.  A new life, not just one working out kinks and trying to be better or different, but NEW.  Completely fresh, a new beginning in this world.  I reflected on all the other four births and likewise, they all came the same way, though with different circumstances, they all had the same song: suffering yields life.  Jesus Christ came to suffer to bring life and the apostles tell us clearly that we who are in Christ will suffer like He suffered but in the end: Glory.  See 1 Peter chapter 1 for more on this.  In this way, my wife suffered so that life could emerge.  Jesus saves His own through His flesh and blood.  How amazing our God is to help us see His glorious good in our suffering.  We come out on this side, joyfully aware of this little blessing of life and joyfully aware of the grave suffering that our Lord endured for us.  “Light Momentary Affliction” prepares us for a weight of glory.

Rejoicing

So now the glorious part of all of this.  “It doesn’t get any better” fits really well here.  I smile, my wife smiles, my son smiles, my three other daughters smile and life is grand.  3 AM…. not so grand, but we still smile at the prospect of going through all of this again.  But no matter how good it is, it is only a small picture, a snow-globe of the real that we are just shaking through awaiting the full joy.  We are amazed at the love we have for this new child when we thought that there was no more love in us 🙂 we find more.  The birth of our new baby has rekindled the superb affections we have for our other children and each other as husband and wife and if we are not careful, we will lose sight as to why: so that we can see the love of God for us in a deeper way as His children.  The love God has for us is immeasurable in comparison and it blesses my soul to realize that the amazing love that I feel toward my children is nothing compared to the love that God has for us revealed gloriously in Christ Jesus who came to live righteous and holy and die willingly in order to justify us before the Father.

What does it all mean?

It means that no matter how good it is, it is only a small fraction of nothing of the goodness of the true One to whom it all points!  God’s faithful and certain promise to save His children and His amazing “great love” with which He loves us cannot be fathomed.  So until that day when we stand with Him and our Lord Jesus Christ and see for ourselves, we must look ever so carefully at the small glimpses of such things.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16-21, ESV)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can beagainst us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39, ESV)

Short video clip from the sermon on Testing Your Faith by Testing for Your Joy!

Here is the sermon in its entirety

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