As I listened to Ron's sermon this morning I recalled a very helpful teaching I heard years ago by A.W. Tozer. Here is a link to a CMA Devotional that addresses Tozer's point regarding present tense faith.
This is a link to the article Pastor Ron referred to in the Easter Sunday Sermon: "Why We Call the Worst Friday Good" by David Mathis.
The link below is to Rosaria Butterfield's response to Jen Hatmaker on the Gospel Coalition's Website. The article "Love Your Neighbor Enough to Speak Truth" was the topic for discussion in this morning's Adult Sunday School Small Group.
What follows is a link to the audio of the prayer Ron referred to at the close of this Sunday morning's sermon. It is a prayer by John Piper at the funeral service for the Pal family.
This past Sunday the Adult Sunday School class looked at Christian Spiritual Disciplines. In class we watched the first 22 minutes of a video message delivered by Don Whitney at the 2015 Southern Baptist Founders Conference Midwest. What follows is Don's full conference message and a link to his widely respected book entitled: "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life".
Pastor Ron sent me a link to this article first published on the Banner of Truth web site on January 11, 2012 in which the author, Al Backer, suggested that many churches in the Reformed world have a truncated gospel which serves as a clear and present danger in our churches. The concerns expressed by the author are not peculiar to the Reformed world and the danger is worth examination by all Christians and Christian churches. I recommend it to you for your reading and comment. The Clear and Present Danger of a Truncated Gospel There is a second related post referenced in the article that is also well worth the read entitled "The Grace Boys" on The Aquila Report website.
This week in Sunday School I mentioned a response by Ravi Zacharias to a question regarding gender preference and God. Here is a link to that video response: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MD3CsFfLxlo
Most of our time in class was spent in a lively discussion of the currently ongoing Elders review of our church constitution and specifically about our church covenant. I hope I succeeded in facilitating an open discussion where all feedback on the topic and process was welcome. My own views on the topic of membership are well summarized in a blog post last August. You can click this link to read that post by David Mathis entitled "Why Join a Church?" Please feel free to respond here to any of these issues. Thanks to all for a lively, honest discussion in class Sunday.
This past Sunday the Adult Sunday School class continued our discussion from the week before regarding how to reconcile scripture passages that tell us we are to love even our enemies and other verses like Psalm 139:21-22 where David expresses his hating those who hate the Lord. The two links below are to the articles Pastor Ron handed out for further explanation of the topic in class.
Commentary on the Imprecatory Psalms
Do I Not Hat Those Who Hate You, O Lord? The Verses We Skipped - Article by John Piper
This past Sunday morning in the Adult Sunday School Class Pastor Ron made mention of an interesting article that Steve sent him a link to. The article addresses a challenging topic that came up the week before in the class discussion. The challenging topic has to do with how Christians reconcile passages of scripture that call us to love our enemies with other verses that support "hating the haters of the Lord". Although this topic was not the focus of our current study, several members of the class asked for a copy of the article. Click the following link to the original article "Hating the Haters of the Lord" by Professor David Engelsma on the Covenant Reformed Protestant Church's web site.
Trading One Dramatic Resolution for 10,000 Little Ones
I’ve told the story many times of talking impatiently with my wife one Sunday morning and having my nine-year-old son interject, “Daddy, is this the way a Christian man should be talking to his wife?”
Rather sarcastically I said, “What do you think?” He replied, “It doesn't make any difference what I think — what does God think?”
I went to my bedroom, and two thoughts immediately hit me. First, my pride reared up. I want to be a hero to my son, and I was embarrassed that he had been troubled by my attitude and words. But that didn't last very long. I soon thought, “How could it be that God could love me so much that he would give a twit of care about this mundane little moment in the Tripp bathroom?”
That’s love at a level of magnificence that I am unable to capture with words. This was but one moment in one room in one house of one family, on one block on one street in one neighborhood, in one city in one state in one country on one continent, in one hemisphere on one globe in the universe. Yet God was in that moment, working to continue his moment-by-moment work of transforming the heart of this man.
Rethinking the Annual Ritual
Why am I telling you this story? Well, it’s that time once again. It’s the fodder for blogs, magazine articles, TV shows, and way too many tweets. It is the time for the annual ritual of dramatic New Year’s resolutions fueled by the hope of immediate and significant personal life change.
But the reality is that few smokers actually quit because of a single moment of resolve, few obese people have become slim and healthy because of one dramatic moment of commitment, few people who were deeply in debt have changed their financial lifestyle because they resolved to do so as the old year gave way to the new, and few marriages have been changed by the means of one dramatic resolution
Is change important? Yes, it is for all of us in some way. Is commitment essential? Of course! There is a way in which all of our lives are shaped by the commitments we make. But biblical Christianity — which has the gospel of Jesus Christ at its heart — simply doesn’t rest its hope in big, dramatic moments of change.
Living in the Utterly Mundane
The fact of the matter is that the transforming work of grace is more of a mundane process than it is a series of a few dramatic events. Personal heart-and-life change is always a process. And where does that process take place? It takes place where you and I live everyday. And where do we live? Well, we all have the same address. Our lives don’t careen from big moment to big moment. No, we all live in the utterly mundane.
Most of us won’t be written up in history books. Most of us only make three or four momentous decisions in our lives, and several decades after we die, the people we leave behind will struggle to remember our lives at all. You and I live in little moments, and if God doesn’t rule our little moments and doesn’t work to recreate us in the middle of them, then there is no hope for us, because that is where you and I live.
The little moments of life are profoundly important precisely because they are the little moments that we live in and that form us. This is where I think “Big Drama Christianity” gets us into trouble. It can cause us to devalue the significance of the little moments of life and the “small-change” grace that meets us there. And because we devalue the little moments where we live, we don’t tend to notice the sin that gets exposed there. We fail to seek the grace that is offered to us.
The 10,000 Little Moments
You see, the character of a life is not set in two or three dramatic moments, but in 10,000 little moments. The character that was formed in those little moments is what shapes how you respond to the big moments of life.
What leads to significant personal change?
His Work to Rescue and Transform
And what is he doing? In these small moments, he is delivering every redemptive promise he has made to you. In these unremarkable moments, he is working to rescue you from you and transform you into his likeness. By sovereign grace, he places you in daily, little moments that are designed to take you beyond your character, wisdom, and grace so that you will seek the help and hope that can only be found in him. In a lifelong process of change, he is undoing you and rebuilding you again — exactly what each one of us needs.
Yes, you and I need to be committed to change, but not in a way that hopes for a big event of transformation, but in a way that finds joy in and is faithful to a day-by-day, step-by-step process of insight, confession, repentance and faith. And in those little moments, we commit ourselves to remember the words of Paul in Romans 8:32:
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us,
how will he not also with him freely give us all things.
So, we wake up each day, committed to live in the small moments of our daily lives with open eyes and humbly expectant hearts.
Paul David Tripp is a pastor, author, and international conference speaker. He is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries and works to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life.
Blog posts may be authored by a variety of individuals including but not limited to Pastor Ron, Church Elders, Sunday School Teachers, Small Group Leaders and Ministry Leaders.