Mercy Me – Paul David Tripp

It was one of those moments you want to take back. It was one of those times when you go where your desires and emotions are leading you. It was one of those situations when you know you should stop or walk away but feel you can’t. And it was one of those moments when afterward you are confronted with the sin that still lives inside of you. Yes, it was one of those moments.

It wasn’t a big deal in one way. Just a small conversation that had turned a bit ugly. It wasn’t a dramatic life-altering moment. It was in the privacy of my home with one of my family members. But maybe that’s the point. Perhaps it’s very important because that’s where I live every day. You see, you and I don’t live in a series of big, dramatic moments. We don’t careen from big decision to big decision.

We all live in an endless series of little moments. The character of a life isn’t set in ten big moments. The character of a life is set in 10,000 little moments of everyday life. It’s the themes of struggles that emerge from those little moments that reveal what’s really going on in our hearts.

So I knew I couldn’t back away from this little moment. I knew I had to own my sin. The minute I thought this, an inner struggle began. “I wasn’t the only one at fault. If he hadn’t said what he said, I wouldn’t have become angry. I was actually pretty patient for much of the conversation.” These were some of the arguments I was giving myself.

Isn’t this interesting? Rather than appealing to the mercy of the Lord in the face of my sin, what I actually do instead is function as my own defense lawyer and present a list of arguments for my own righteousness. The theology behind the defense is that my greatest problem is outside of me, not inside of me. In so arguing, I’m telling myself that I don’t really need to be rescued by the Lord’s mercy. No, I’m telling myself that what I need to be rescued from is that sinner in the room who caused me to respond as I did.

Here’s the point. Before you can ever make a clean and unamended confession of your sin, you have to first begin by confessing your righteousness. It’s not just your sin that separates you from God; your righteousness does as well. Because when you’re convinced you are righteous, you don’t seek the forgiving, rescuing, and restoring mercy that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

What’s actually true is that when I come to the Lord after I’ve blown it, I’ve only one argument to make. It’s not the argument of the difficulty of the environment that I’m in. It’s not the argument of the difficult people that I’m near. It’s not the argument of good intentions that were thwarted in some way. No, I only have one argument.

I come to the Lord with only one appeal; his mercy. I’ve no other defense. I’ve no other standing. I’ve no other hope. I can’t escape the reality of my biggest problem; me! So I appeal to the one thing in my life that’s sure and will never fail. I appeal to the one thing that guaranteed not only my acceptance with God, but the hope of new beginnings and fresh starts. I appeal on the basis of the greatest gift I ever have or ever will be given. I leave the courtroom of my own defense, I come out of hiding and I admit who I am.

But I’m not afraid, because I’ve been personally and eternally blessed. Because of what Jesus has done God looks on me with mercy. It’s my only appeal, it’s the source of my hope, and it’s my life. Mercy, mercy me!

God bless

Paul David Tripp

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Presidential Slogans! by Derek Wadsworth

As things begin to heat up and false promises are made to win your vote…..Here is a scripture I wish we all could embrace.

 

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

(Luke 18:9-14)

Youth Ministry Tips: David Hinkley

Given the dearth of helpful resources, I thought it might be nice to compile a few observations from my own ministry that may be helpful to you in yours. I hope they are edifying.

1.  Relationships matter much more than coolness.

I hope your church is past the myth that the best ministers are young and hip. The best ministers are those who love the gospel of grace and are eager for young people to love it, too. The ‘type’ of person who does that really doesn’t matter. My most effective volunteers have been old ladies, young moms and awkward post college sci-fi nerds. All cool in their own way no doubt, but none of them shop at Hot Topic. Young people’s hearts are spoken to through trust and not through coolness, so make trustworthiness your goal above “relevance”.

2.  Gaining the trust of parents is one of the most important parts of the job.

This is for two very practical reasons: one, they aren’t going to send their kids to anything you do if they don’t trust you and two, the closer you can get to leading a ministry that is actually conducted by the parents for the kids and their friends, the better.

You may be a very godly and theological person, even very experienced in ministry, but if the parents in the congregation feel weird about you, your ministry to young people will never get off the ground. Don’t expect trust to just happen because of your qualifications, and don’t resent parents when they don’t give it. Just get to work earning it.

Good parents are very concerned with:

  • The guarding of their children’s hearts,
  • The faithfulness of what is being taught to their kids, and
  • That their own authority and role in their child’s life is honored.

Do whatever you have to do to honor these concerns. Show deference to parents regarding what topics are discussed. Make opportunities beforehand to introduce parents to what will be covered in your Bible studies or talks. Think about the social climate of your group? Are kids mean to each other? How is that handled by the adults? Let the parents you work with know that you want to do whatever you can to help them foster faith in Christ in their children. (Emphasis on the words help them.)

3.  Center your ministry on the word of God.

If we aren’t gathering these kids together to deepen their understanding of and trust in God’s word then we really shouldn’t bother. I’m not saying don’t do fun activities or fellowship in other ways; I am saying if your fellowship is not a means to greater discipleship to God and His Word, then you’re doing it wrong.

Don’t be afraid to go deep. With a little work on your part to translate, kids can understand pretty much any doctrine you want to talk about with them. What is more, they respond very well to being treated like they have a valued opinion on eternal matters. If you challenge kids to think deeply about the essential truths of our faith, they can and will grow.

Bottom line: if we are not presenting to them the glory and worthiness of Christ as He is presented to us in God’s inspired Word, we are wasting everyone’s time with mere activity. We want our kids to lift their eyes and hearts to Him in worship and experience the joy and freedom of the gospel. This isn’t going to happen if we spend an hour and 50 minutes seeing how many marshmallows can possibly go into their mouths and then 10 minutes on how God wants us to be good people.

4.  Give more thought and attention to the above things than to your youth ministry model.

We waste a lot of time fretting over structure and procedure. The main problem with your youth ministry is not that it is not fun enough. Your church can have a valuable youth ministry to the 4 or 400 students you have if the ministry is about going deep into the word of God in the context of trust and relationships. Outreach-centered or family-centered, catechism class or youth group; be about getting at the gospel and the transforming Word of God, and love the kids God has put in your church.

Chicken and Biscuits! ….Pretty Please

Here is a wonderful expression of how to address our out of control media and culture!

 

“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone you must agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense! You don’t have to compromise your convictions to be compassionate.”
~ Rick Warren ~