Tag Archives: broken

paul tripp, broken down house

If you are a Paul Tripp reader/listener/student.  My guess is that you are growing in the gospel.

Thank you Paul Tripp for so enjoyably and refreshingly engaging my worldview with the same worldview I think I know from the WORD, only it sounds better, bigger, and truer.  We believe that God is renovating the broken world around us and in us… that is all we talk about inside and outside of our church.  It is the confidence with which we preach, do discipleship, small groups, etc.  And we see SOOO much of it – brokenness in believers and unbelievers.  Paul Tripp’s picture of that same worldview where Christ is coming to set up his kingdom of RESTORATION to this BROKEN WORLD is helpful and keen.  Our days under the sun – well, they feel like vanity of vanities, because it is like living in a home that is broken down and amidst renovation.  Is there anything worse than living in a transitioning home?  Dust.  Danger.  Annoyance.  Everything is different in remodel-land.

O God make us productive in this world – partners in your remodel and restoration of Creation – and not just passive survivors.  Read below (in this case he is talking about WEAKNESS) and grow in the gospel…

You cannot release yourself or your surroundings from the affects of the Fall.  You cannot assure that your body will be free of disease and sickness.  You cannot independently free yourself or another from sin.  You cannot reach in and alter the content of your own heart, let alone the heart of another.  You cannot plant faith, courage, and hope into the soul of another person.  You cannot assure that your government will have integrity and that your community will be safe.  You cannot make your acquaintances respect you, and you cannot assure that your family members will treat you with love.  You cannot keep yourself free from natural and environmental disaster.  You cannot control the economic environment… Ou cannot lay out a personal life plan and know it will unfold without interruption.  You cannot assure that your life will be easy and satisfying.

When you stop and look, you are faced with your smallness, your weakness, and your limits.  But don’t get discouraged and don’t panic; reality is a healthy place to be. Think about it.  Only when I humbly embrace my weakness, humbly admit my limits, and humbly recognize how small I actually am, can I begin to reach out for the help of a loving, powerful, and gracious Redeemer who is the true source of my strength, wisdom, and hope.  Only then can I begin to function as an instrument in his powerful hands, rather than being in his way, because in forgetting who I am and who he is, I have been trying to do his job. (Paul David Tripp, Broken-Down House – Living Productively in a World Gone Bad, Shepherd Press, 2009)

Yep.  God can do his RENOVATING job in/through/with me and you.  But it will never be our job.  Just CANNOT be.

Thanks Paul Tripp.  Glad to be close to Philly.  Gospel for weak and renovated people by osmosis.  You’re welcome to come and visit our broken-down house of a Gospel-Growing church plant any day you’d like!

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blogging about weakness, believing in election

It has been some time since a flapped my gums, or played sticky fingers with my laptop … since I’ve blogged about weakness.  The whole point of this whole thing is a deep confidence that the whole of ourselves is wholly weak the whole time we live in this whole life under the sun!  So why have I failed to blog about weakness… or at all for that matter.

First, personally things are busy and hectic at home and at West Valley PCA.  God has continued to bless and work in our home as we adjust as a family (even 3 years into this) to living in the North East.  We just bought our “lifestyle” house, a mile from the home we have owned the past 2 years.  What a blessing to still be able to walk/bike to work, to the coffee shops and farmers market… and yet to be a bit removed from the buzz,  and to have a house with some space and kids rooms and play room and garage!  Thanks to God for his undeserved gifts. 

On the church-front, we are continuing to seek the face of God and be astounded by his provision at West Valley.  God is gathering weak believers, missional believers, in addition to weak and broken unchurched skeptics who return hungry for something that is just beginning to whet their palate.  So I am trying to learn how to lead a church that is 9 months old and dealing with gospel-incarnation, community needs,  space constraints, and vision/identity ownership!  May God remain central and glorified, gathering whom he would for his glory – our SOVEREIGN GOD alone is planting this church.  We long to be the conduits of a kingdom that is from eternity, to eternity “in our West Valley as it is in heaven.”  Suffice to say, my joy and submission to God’s calling our family here for such a time and season and people and gospel-work as this is envigorating.  As such, blogging has been less-exciting, and less of a call to my wandering mind than it was before the winds of my soul have changed…  Thank you for dropping us off here, O God.

And so I say all of that to blog an ounce about weakness.  Specifically, this morning I think of all my weakness (tiredness, sin-ness, self-ness,  soreness, etc.) in connection to believing in the comforting biblical truth that God has providentially ordered all of our days, our finances, our rooftops, our street names, our church facilities, our growth stages, our discipline needs, our hard-lessons learned, etc… even as he has predestined our “election” as his eternally redeemed children who have no other hope than his call and care and conservation of our very selves whom he has effectively given his grace, first to last.

What am I saying? 

I can’t believe I am a recipient of the mercy of Christ, by his sovereign grace and election alone.  That in my weakness I am all the more in Christ who rescued my broken frame from a world of pain solely because of God’s election to glorify himself by the extension of his mercy to one who has done NOTHING (Eph. 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9).  I deserve to be a recipient of wrath, that he might be glorify his own justice.  But in Christ who gave my righteousness and took my just punishment, I am a recipient of grace, that God might glorify his own mercy!  And so I ask the only thing I can ask (even as a PCA pastor who has studied and made vows regarding the biblical doctrine of election): why me, O God?  I did nothing to deserve or receive your mercy!  Weak and impotent that I am to stop sinning, to love others well, to speak truth in love, to pastor people the gospel-treasure… Why me?

That question changes everything.  Everything is put in context!  I am weak but will worship my electing rescuer.  I am humbled to engage the broken around me, because I have done NOTHING to not be broken – God and God alone has elected to restore what I can’t fix.  I pray you know this gospel of God’s sovereign grace to bind up the broken of NOTHING in them and ALL for his glory.

How many Christians stumble on in weakness, burdened with doubts that would be erased if only they knew their salvation rested not in themselves but in God?  The doctrine of election tells us that it was God who sought us and not we who sought him; that God called us to him self in time because he chose us in eternity.  (Richard Phillips)

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don’t feel bad for your self, just contempt

I am reading a newly published biography/collection of essays – John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine and Doxology (Reformation Trust, 2008).  I have read and re-read a particular statement by Sinclair Ferguson with regard to Calvin’s view of himself and God’s kingdom.

Calvin sought, personally, to develop a balance of contempt for the present life with a deep gratitude for the blessings of God and a love and longing for the heavenly kingdom.

This is killer.  As the Sonship (World Harvest) curriculum teaches us about the gospel… we only magnify the cross as we grasp the magnitude of our sin.  And therefore if we minimize our sin and stuggle, we shrink the cross.  SOOOO – contempt for my life and this broken world it is… contempt for my perpetual struggle to control my tongue, my rash anger, my attitude. Contempt for my struggles to listen to people, to have my heart break with/for people.  Contempt for a broken world of oppression and ignoring people who hurt and disease and death and broken relationships.

Only by that contempt comes a CROSS magnified comprehension of all for which Christ came to live and die!  Only by that contempt comes KINGDOM passion and desire and surrender. 

Should I feel bad for myself when life does not work out the way I want, when my weaknesses in my flesh get the best of my body, mind or soul?  No, not bad… just contempt, whereby I might have a contemptuous comprehension of a comprehensive cross.  Amen.

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Psalm 40 – my psalm

This morning it was warm – only 20 something degrees.  So I walked to work (took the days off that were in the single digits).  Actually, I danced in the streets, so it felt in my heart.  Not sure why.

Kori questioned me at lunch – what was it?  Well, for one – our family seems to be done vomiting.  But I don’t think that is it.  I read Psalm 40 this morning and it seemed to be filled with divinely inspired words describing my life over the past few months. 

Weird, because in the Psalm, David even references that “the scroll of the book was written of him” (v.8)… which promted him to delight all the more to serve the Lord and safekeep the  law within his heart.  I could not have had more of a feeling than that “the 40th Psalm of the book was written of me.”  I considered v.9, how I have spent the last 3 months preaching as the launch-pastor of West Valley Presbyterian Churchplant (our sermons are now online by the way – www.westvalleypres.org).   Yes, I have sought to “tell the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation.”  We have  not failed to celebrate and declare the gospel alone through the Word.  But this has not just been formal declartation.  Of late, I have shared with our congregation the work God has been doing to rescue me from myopia and some of the internal people-pleasing and selfish struggles of my life that a church plant has revealed… all the way down to family dynamics (is a pastor supposed to keep such growth plates hidden?).  It has been kinda like v.10 – “I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.”

Then v.12 hits the heart of the matter.  “For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see.”  Interestingly, I have been overcome by iniquity before, since about … O … age 2.  I can name them: anger, lust, pride, self-righteousness.  But this season has been one in which I have felt encompassed by the evil of a fallen world – sickness, dark winter depression, anxiety… things that seem outside of the realm of the iniquity I know so well!  It has been a miry bog (v.2) that has ironically collided with a glorious time for WVPC!  While in the miry bog, I didn’t blog much, reach out much, or say much – even though things were moving well by God’s design in “the great congregation.”   Why the melancholy?  Because I couldn’t see (v.12) 

Wow.  God you are a God of grace and mercy who truly loves the broken-hearted.  You have shown the hearts of many at West Valley PCA just how broken we are SO THAT we can now offer a sacrifice that is pleasing and acceptable through Christ our righteousness.  Thank you. 

So… today, why did I float to my ipod down main street?  Is it not because “all who seek you will rejoice and be glad in you; we who love our salvation will say, ‘Great is the Lord!'”(v.16)  Yes, I think that is it.  And no vomiting.  And yet, the posture of a pastor in the great congregation (OK, a churchplant of chaos but growth) is told to me at the close of the the text in v.17 – “As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought of me.  You are my help and my deliverer, do not delay, O my God!”

Yes, I can say that I see I am poor and needy, yet the Lord looks upon me so much that he would SHOW THAT TO ME in these first 3 months at West Valley.  Thank you God.  When I am weak, then you are strong – in my home, my life, my vocation.  Amen.

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