Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ann Hasseltine Judson's Letters...

My Life in His Hands by Ann Judson of Burma

“…my dear sister Mary, a little sacrifice for the cause of Christ is not worth naming; and I feel it a privilege, of which I am entirely undeserving, to have had it in my power to sacrifice my all for hims who hesitated not to lay down his life for sinners. I rejoice that I had a pleasant home, dear friends, and flattering prospects to relinquish, and that once in my life I had an opportunity of manifesting my little attachment to the cause of Christ. I know you often wish to know certainly, whether I still approve of the first step I took in the missionary cause; and whether, if I had the choice again to make, with my present knowledge and views of the subject, I should make the same. Well, I frankly acknowledge that I should do just the same, with this exception; that I should commence such a life, with much more fear and trembling upon account of my unfitness; and should almost hesitate whether one so vile, so poorly qualified, ought to occupy a sphere of so much usefulness. I do, at times, feel almost ready to sink down in despair, when I realize the responsibility of my situation, and witness my short-comings in duty. If I have grown any in grace since I left America, it has consisted entirely in an increasing knowledge of my unspeakably wicked heart. As to my real religious enjoyment, I think, generally speaking, I have not experienced more than when in America. I do hope, however, vile as I am, to obtain an inheritance in that far better world, where Jesus has prepared mansions for this followers, and will introduce them there himself, sprinkled with his blood, and clothed in his righteousness…” (p. 102-103).

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Heavenly Father, if I should suffer need, and go unclothed, and be in poverty, make my heart prize Thy love, know it, be constrained by it, though I be denied all blessings. It is Thy mercy to afflict and try me with wants, for by these trials I see my sins, and desire severance from them. Let me willingly accept misery, sorrows, temptations, if I can thereby feel sin as the greatest evil, and be delivered from it with gratitude to Thee,acknowledging this as the highest testimony of Thy love.
When thy Son, Jesus, came into my soul instead of sin He became more dear to me than sin had formerly been; His kindly rule replaced sin's tyranny. Teach me to believe that if ever I would have any sin subdued I must not only labour to overcome it, but must invite Christ to abide in the place of it, and He must become to me more than vile lust had been; that His sweetness, power, life may be there. Thus I must seek a grace from Him contrary to sin, but must not claim it apart from Himself.
When I am afraid of evils to come, comfort me by showing me that in myself I am a dying, condemned wretch, but in Christ I am reconciled and live; that in myself I find insufficiency and no rest, but in Christ there is satisfaction and peace; that in myself I am feeble and unable to do good, but in Christ I have ability to do all things. Though now I have His graces in part, I shall shortly have them perfectly in that state where Thou wilt show Thyself fully reconciled, and alone sufficient, efficient, loving me completely, with sin abolished. O Lord, hasten that day.
~Puritan Prayers

Monday, May 20, 2013

2 Timothy 2:24...

John Calvin claimed that...
No one gives himself freely and willingly to God's service unless, having tasted His Fatherly love, he [the Christian] is drawn to love and worship Him in return."

Freedom in Christ is not the right to do as one pleases but the power to please God by doing what is right -- this is the power His bond-servants possess. Stated another way, we become really "free" only by subjecting our own will to the will of another, One Who is always the perfect Master.

"Child of God"

Friday, April 12, 2013

Purpose in Adversity

"...he made me into a polished arrow"

I was reading in Streams in the Desert recently, and the entry for that day was this portion of Isaiah 49:2. It got me to thinking about the adversities of life and God’s purposes in them.

The goal for many of us is to get through life as unscathed and trouble free as possible, when that is not God’s intention or plan at all for His children. Think of all of God we would miss without adversity, without hardship, and without persecution.

Our faith and trust in God grows deep in times of trial. The roots of our belief and understanding grow deep and strong into our hearts and create anchors that are immovable Some of the best times of growth in my spiritual life have been when life has been at its worst. When times were tough and I was completely uncertain of everything in this life and how it would unfold is when the “Who” of God became real.

Do you know what I mean by the “Who of God?” Until we have cause to grab hold of all we have learned and put in our minds about God and His character it is all ethereal and unformed. There is little substance that we can wrap our arms around. But when those harsh waves of adversity crash into life we begin to experience God. We begin to “see” who He is and receive in ways that defy words the things God promises to us as we believe.

Without these things in life we would remain unpolished, our edges both outer and inner would remain jagged. Adversity brings change on some level. It brings us changes of the heart (the inner man) because we receive things that we don’t want, or we are denied things that we do want and we have to make a decision to respond righteously. This causes change as what we have learned in the abstract now must become real to us in application. When we make that transfer, change takes place.

God’s polishing tool brings us pain at times, literal, physical pain. Illness, disease, and suffering are all tools of the Almighty in shaping us into His image. He will stop at nothing to create in us what He has foreordained.

-Borrowed Post

Monday, March 4, 2013

I Am My Posession

Identity in Physical Things

Let's face it: physical things are seductive precisely because they are physical. We can feel their texture, see their shape and beauty, and smell their aroma. Biblically, we know that the most important things in life are unseen, yet physical things are stiff competition when it comes to what gets our attention and shapes our living. It's very tempting for all of us to define ourselves by the size of our pile of stuff.

We may not even realize the extent to which we define ourselves by the pleasures of the physical world. The three big ones here are food, sex, and leisure. Some of us are always trolling for the next best restaurant, continually being seduced by the "more and different" draw of sexual temptation, or willing to spend far too much time and money planning and buying a vacation.

Physical appearance can also control and define us. We live in a culture that has institutionalized the practice of being defined by our appearance. Isn't it true that most of us spend far more time in a given week caring for and adorning our bodies than we do nurturing our souls? We're the kind of people who will fret over exactly the right outfit to wear to a service of worship (think about the contradiction there).

The material world provides a powerful and seductive replacement for true identity. A big house isn't just nice to look at and live in; if it's yours, it makes you feel good about yourself. A luxurious car isn't simply a reliable source of transportation; it functions also as an identity marker. Beautiful clothes have the power to make you feel differently about yourself. Physical fitness and beauty make you feel self-confident and alive. A gourmet meal not only fills your stomach, but for that temporary moment, it also makes you feel good about yourself.

Now, let me just say that God is the Creator of all physical things. That means that food, comfort, money, pleasure, and beauty were all created to be good things. They're not evil in and of themselves. But, the Bible also says that "man shall not live by bread alone." That means that we were never constructed to subsist ONLY on the physical. We're spiritual beings who need spiritual sustenance in order to be truly healthy and happy.

In fact, we're wired to "feed" on the Lord himself! He is to be our meat and drink; He is the one who gives us identity and meaning. He alone is able to satisfy our deepest hungers and our most pervasive thirsts. Many people are experiencing an atrophy of the heart from seeking satisfaction where it simply cannot be found.

Below are some reflection questions. You can use them personally, but they're also helpful in a small group or Bible study setting. It's an opportunity to take an accounting, to make honest confession, and to begin walking on a new and better pathway.

1.What physical thing(s) do you struggle with most?

2.Why is that physical thing(s) so important to you?

3.How can you "feed" more on the Lord?

4.How can identity in Christ help you view your possessions?

God bless,

Paul David Tripp

Friday, March 1, 2013

I Am My Righteousness

The past two weeks we've been looking replacement identities. We either tend to put our identity in our achievement, or we seek to put our identity in our relationships. But there's a third area where we're at risk:

Identity in Performance

In the early days of his faith, Joe was overwhelmed by the desperateness of his need for God's grace. He was seeing his sin everywhere, and he was constantly thankful for the daily mercy and patience of the Redeemer. Joe was also patient with the people around him who were struggling. He knew that they were essentially no different from him, and that he was only kept by God's grace.

As Joe continued to grow, however, something began to change in his heart. He began to feel as though he deserved to belong in the community of God's children. He was proud of his theological knowledge and had little patience for Christians who were "just too lazy" to really know their faith. He looked down on brothers and sisters who struggled faithfully to participate in public worship and small groups.

When he put his check in the offering plate on Sunday, he scanned the sanctuary wondering who was getting a "free ride." He loved to show people the photo albums of the many short-term missions trips he had been on, and he didn't understand why some people were never willing to give up one week to serve God. The tender, grateful Joe had given way to a hard and self-assured man.

Joe approached every Christian activity as an opportunity to put another notch in his belt of righteousness. He was active and involved, but there was little sense of gratitude because he had little sense of need. Although he could not see it, Joe was much like the Pharisee Jesus describes in Luke 18. Joe had once been a man who had found his identity in Christ; now he was a man who got his identity from his own performance.

Although Joe was in church every time the doors were open, there was little true love and worship in what he did. The bottom line was that Joe was doing it all for Joe. The praise always went to Joe, while the judgement went to anyone who was unable to live up to his righteous standard. Joe was in the middle of his life, but he had lost the joy of his salvation. He was a sullen and critical Christian with little heartfelt excitement for his faith.

1.Could it be that "Joe" might be you? Where can you see similarities?

2.Is there a chance that you replaced the joy of identity in Christ with the pride of identity in your own righteousness?

3.Are you more critical and judgmental toward the people around you than you are about criticizing yourself?

4.Ask yourself: "Do I feel today like I need Christ's grace as much as the first day I believed?"

God bless
Paul David Tripp

Thursday, February 28, 2013

I Am My Relationships

Last week I wrote you about identity in achievement. While God calls us to be fruitful and productive, could it be that you've looked to your success to provide identity, meaning, and purpose? Achievement alone is not an evil thing, but once that false identity begins to define who you are, you're in danger of compromising who God has called you to be.

Here's a second area where we might find a replacement identity:

Identity in Acceptance

God created us to be social beings. His plan, from day one, was for us to live in meaningful community with one another. Our relationships are so important to God that He positioned the command for us to love one another as second only to the call to love Him (Matthew 22:37-39). Those relationships must be a very high priority as we make our daily decisions.

Yet, in our sin, many of us look to other people to do the one thing they were never designed to do - give us identity. If we're parents, we tend to try to get our identity from our children. We begin to live vicariously through them, as if their successes are our successes. And when we need the success of our children in order to feel good about ourselves, we'll do anything possible to make them succeed.

We tell ourselves that it's for them, but in reality, it's for us. We become smothering, domineering, success-obsessed parents. But we're blind to it, because we're always able to say that it's good for them. If anything, their success is a hymn of praise to another Father who provided everything they need to be where they are and to do what they're doing. As parents, we're never more than instruments in His redemptive hands.

Perhaps your marriage is the place where you seek identity. You live for the next shot of acceptance and appreciation, and the love of your spouse is the thing that makes you feel most alive. You'll feel alive when they notice your efforts and seek your company, but your joy will come crashing down when you feel ignored or taken for granted.

This is all very dangerous. No sinner can ever be your rock and fortress. No sinner can give you a consistent reason for hope. Sooner or later, everyone around you will fail you. But there's an even greater danger here.

As you look to this person for identity, you're not really loving them - you're loving you. You've turned the second great commandment on its ear. Instead of serving people because you love them, you're willing to serve them so that they'll love you. This kind of parasitic relationships is never healthy.

Our children were never given to us to be trophies on the mantel of our identity. Our spouses were never given to us to be personal messiahs. No relationship should be the source of our identity, because we look to people to give us what only God could give. We ask our relationships to provide us life, contentment, happiness, and joy, but sooner or later, like anything other than the Creator, they'll fail us.

1.Are you asking flawed people to provide for you what only the Creator can provide?

2. How might some of your expectations for your relationships be unrealistic and unbiblical?

3. How does identity in Christ allow you to combat the temptation of finding identity in your relationships?

God bless

Paul David Tripp

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I Am My Success

When I was in junior high, I became obsessed with cars. I found a Whitney auto parts catalog, and I was amazed with its size. Page after page was filled with replacement parts for nearly any car on the road.

Just like that catalog, our fallen world offers an endless catalog of identity replacements. None of us are free from their seduction. Each of us will turn a page in life and find one that's attractive to us.

I've found in my years of counseling that these identity replacements tend to fall into four major clusters. We'll look at the first one this week.

1. Identity in Achievement

God calls us to be fruitful and productive. We should be concerned about our harvest and the return on our investments. But the minute we take on our achievements as an identity, we become slaves to a never-ending stream of potential success.

This is the profile of a workaholic. He (or she) gets purpose from the next notch on his belt, so he's unable to say no and unable to slow down. Take away his ability to build toward the next success, and he'll be irritated and discouraged.

This replacement identity will also distort your decisions. You'll tend to go after the things where you think you can succeed, rather than going after them because they're in line with biblical priorities. You'll also be more excited about what these opportunities do for you than how they fit inside the plot of God's story.

If you find identity in achievement, you're at risk in two areas. First, maybe you're beginning to be sidelined. If you're a parent and your kids have left the house, you can't claim achievement in that area anymore. Perhaps at work responsibilities are being shifted to others, sometimes younger and less experienced. Whatever the case, if achievement has become your identity, when it gets taken out of your hands, you'll feel depressed and discouraged because the thing that has defined you is gone.

Here's the second area, and it's the opposite of the first. Maybe you're being given more opportunities to achieve than you've ever had in your life. You're finally becoming a decision maker at work, or you've finally reached a placed in ministry where you're so respected that people hang on your every word. You feel alive, and you find it hard to say no. You're at risk of becoming enslaved to achievement, making bad choices, and staying too busy, because success is where you find meaning and purpose.

Does personal achievement mean more to you than it should? Could it be that you've looked to it to provide identity, meaning, and purpose? Now remember what I said at the beginning: God calls us to be fruitful and productive, and achievement alone is not an evil thing. But once that false identity begins to define who you are, you're in danger of compromising who God has called you to be.

1.How can you be fruitful and productive for the Kingdom of God this week?

2.What achievements have been taken from your hands? Have you become depressed and discouraged?

3.Where are you at risk of being enslaved to achievement?

4.How does identity in Christ allow you to combat the temptation of finding identity in your achievement?

God bless

Paul David Tripp

Wednesday, January 23, 2013