Paul Tripp

President of Paul Tripp Ministries

Why did Jonah run from God? Some would argue that we have no clear explanation, but I believe that Scripture interprets Scripture, and in chapter 4, we get a window onto Jonah's heart: Jonah ran from God because Jonah didn't share the heart of God.

There are three areas of divergence between the heart that motivated God and the heart that motivated Jonah.

1. Grief

God looked at Nineveh and was deeply broken. How could creation live in such opposition to the original plan? Sin robs people and families and cultures of what was meant to be beautiful.

The Church of Jesus Christ should be the saddest community on earth. We should look at our neighbors and grieve over the people missing out on God’s best for their life. But like Jonah, we’re often too selfish to care.

2. Zeal

God’s grief never results in passive lamenting; it results in zealous action. From the moment sin entered the world, God was crafting a plan to deliver his creation from bondage. Sending Jonah to Nineveh was part of this zealous plan for worldwide redemption.

The Church of Jesus Christ should be the most active community on earth, zealous to love our neighbors and reach the lost. God's plan is that those living around you would hear the Gospel of salvation, through you. But like Jonah, we’re often too passive to care.

3. Grace

God sent a prophet to Nineveh, not to condemn, but to save. Yes, he would expose their sin in the process, but "the Lord is patient … not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

The Church of Jesus Christ should be the most forgiving community on earth. We're more like our lost neighbors than unlike them, so how hypocritical is it for us to lead with the law instead of grace? But like Jonah, we're often too self-righteous to care.

Jonah failed to share the heart of God, and as a result, he failed to care for the lost. If you want have an effective ministry and reach those far from God, start with your heart. Programs and strategies are important, but they're useless without a heart filled with grief, zeal, and grace.

Let’s not be too hard on Jonah; every day we run away from the call of God. But don't be too hard on yourself, either. Jonah is included in Scripture because we do fail and we do run, only to be rescued by God's grace once again. This prophet's testimony gives hope to selfish, lazy, and hypocritical rebels like me and you.


Reflection Questions

  1. How did you run from God's call on your life this week?
     
  2. Think of a moment when you failed to share God's grief. How would you have responded differently sharing his heart?
     
  3. Think of a moment when you failed to share God's zeal. How would you have responded differently sharing his heart?
     
  4. Think of a moment when you failed to share God's grace. How would you have responded differently sharing his heart?
     
  5. How does the Lord's response to Jonah give you hope for your daily struggles?

 *This post originally appeared here at PaulTripp.com. Used by permission.


Paul David Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization whose mission statement is "Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life." Tripp is also professor of pastoral life and care at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas, and executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas. Tripp has written many books on Christian living that are read and distributed internationally. He has been married for many years to Luella, and they have four grown children. For more information, visit www.paultripp.com.

Do You Scare Yourself?

Are you scared of you? Some mornings I look in the mirror and scare myself, but there’s something much less comical and much more destructive that I should be afraid of. It’s the dark condition of my heart.

In Psalm 51, we encounter a man terrified of himself. David, after being confronted by the prophet Nathan, pens this phrase: “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” (Psalm 51:2-3, ESV) David doesn’t explicitly use the words, “I’m afraid of me,” but he employs a “trinitarian vocabulary” to express his fear.

1. Iniquity

Iniquity is moral uncleanness. We don’t become morally unclean because we commit acts of moral uncleanness. Rather, because we’re morally unclean from our beginning, we’re capable of committing morally unclean deeds.

The reason we think those vile thoughts and say those hurtful words and commit those violent actions is because we’re unclean in our soul. We ought to be terrified of our iniquity and the harm it can cause. It’s only when we recognize the depth of our uncleanness that we will reach out for purifying grace from the Divine Trinity and begin to experience personal change.

2. Sin

Sin means “missing the mark.” Select your most skilled archer, hand him the finest bow, and wait for the day with the most beneficial weather conditions. Even at the peak of human effort, the target is too far away for any archer to hit.

That’s our righteousness - on our best day, our deeds are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). We ought to be terrified of our sin and the inability it causes. It’s only when we recognize the depth of our helplessness that we will reach out for empowering grace from the Divine Trinity and begin to experience personal change.

3. Transgression

Transgression is trespassing. It’s parking in the “No Parking” zone, even though you tell yourself you’re going to be in the store for just three minutes. You know the law has been established, but in that moment, you couldn’t care less.

When you yell at your spouse or child, when you browse the Internet for explicit content, or when you cheat someone, you’re not doing so out of ignorance. We ought to be afraid of our transgression and the boundaries it enables us to cross. It’s only when we recognize the depth of our rebellion that we will reach out for rescuing grace from the Divine Trinity and begin to experience personal change.

A Divine Trinity

This “terrible trinity” of words captures with power and clarity the dark and destructive nature of our hearts. Iniquity, sin, and transgression ought to produce fear in our soul and drive us to seek the help and hope that can only be found in the Divine Trinity.

We need a Father who will exercise sovereign power to establish a plan that will rescue us from us. We need a Son who will take our punishment and earn forgiveness on our behalf. We need a Spirit who will dwell within in us and empower us to do what we would not be otherwise able to do.

So yes, you should be scared of you, but you shouldn’t feel hopeless. You haven’t been left to the ravages of the “terrible trinity,” because you've been rescued by the power and love of a Divine Trinity.

Pray this with me: Thank you, Sovereign Father, for your unshakeable plan. Thank you, Sacrificial Son, for standing in our place. Thank you, Warrior Spirit, for your empowering presence. In you, Triune Lord, we really find help and hope for personal change.

God bless

Paul David Tripp


 

REFLECTION QUESTIONS
 

  1. How did you display iniquity this week? What did your moral impurity permit you to think, say, and do?
  2. How did you display sin this week? In what ways did you fail to live righteously, even in moments of good intent?
  3. How did you display transgression this week? When did you trespass over God's boundaries when you knew you shouldn't have?
  4. In what ways have you become content with your iniquity, sin, and transgression? Why should the condition of your heart scare you?
  5. Where have you experienced the help and hope of the Divine Trinity? How has the Father, Son, and Spirit helped you to change?

3 Signs of Being a Glory Addict

It really is the struggle of struggles. It’s what we were made for, it’s what we crave, and it’s what we manage to mess up in some way almost every day.

What’s the struggle? The struggle for glory.

I’ve said many times that I believe the most important words in the Bible are the first four – “In the beginning, God…” – because these four thunderously important words will radically alter the way we view ourselves and our world.

According to Genesis 1, everything that we experience was made by God and for God. All the little and good glories of the created world were designed to point to his magnificent, unending glory. The universe and all its inhabitants were designed to function in accordance with his glorious purpose and plan. That includes you and me.

We were not made to pursue, or bask in, our own glory. No, we were created to live for the glory of God. But because of sin, we forget (or ignore) the Creator and choose instead to pursue the temporary and trivial glories of creation. This pursuit sidetracks our purity and kidnaps our imagination, and in the end, it’s what makes our lives messy and our relationships conflictual.

Maybe another way to phrase our struggle is like this: human beings are glory addicts. We're glory junkies. Whether you like to admit to it or not, you're addicted to glory. In a way, this can be a very healthy thing, because you're actually designed to crave glory, as long as it's related to the things of God. So yes, you should be "addicted" - you should wake up and have a strong desire for Christ each morning, and you should experience a buzz when the Holy Spirit is moving in your life and in the lives of those you love and care for.

At the same time, however, you can't be so naive to think that you have overcome your addiction to self-glory. You see, glory addicts aren't just found in Hollywood, Nashville, or in professional sports. Glory addicts exist in the bedrooms, kitchens, and offices of everyday life.

I love how the Apostle Paul captures this idea in 1 Corinthians 10:31 - "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." When Paul thinks about giving glory to God, he isn't thinking about the speech we make after accepting an Academy Award or scoring a game-winning touchdown in front of millions of viewers. No, he thinks of the utterly mundane, when very few people are watching. And that's where 99% of us live every day.

I want to help you recognize some signs of your glory addiction, not as a doctor looking in, but as an addict myself. I wish I could say I'm a recovering addict, but in many ways, I'm grieved to admit that I still struggle with the exact things I'm writing about today.

So, here are three diagnostic signs that reveal your addiction to self-glory:

1. Glory Junkies Parade Their Righteousness

The Pharisees are recorded for us as a primary example, and as much as we like to self-righteously proclaim that we're not like the Pharisees (Luke 18:11 - oh, the irony!), the fact of that matter is that we are Pharisaical, because we're just as quick to parade our righteousness before watching eyes.

When you're sharing personal stories of your faith, are you telling them in a manner that makes you the hero? Even if you are experiencing a season when faith feels natural to you, you shouldn't be finding ways to incorporate those private moments into public settings. Glory junkies think they're worthy of acclaim, and in the church, we seek acclaim of others by finding ways to present ourselves as righteous. Ask yourself - how righteous do I actually think I am?

2. Glory Junkies Talk Too Much

Glory junkies talk about themselves a lot. We think our stories are more exciting, our accomplishments are more impressive, our jokes are funnier, our kids are more successful, and our ministries are more effective. If you find yourself cutting people off a lot in conversation, you should consider yourself a glory junkie.

Instead of shining the spotlight on your weaknesses and failures while celebrating God's glorious and utterly undeserved grace in your life, do you shine the spotlight on you? Ask yourself - how much do I talk about me?

3. Glory Junkies Are Self-Important

When you're impressed by your own glory, you fail to remember that in a multitude of counsel, there is wisdom. You'll fail to see the need for the essential ministry of the body of Christ in your life. You'll fail to recognize your bias and spiritual blindness. Glory junkies won't live in relationships with humility towards what others have to offer.

This may seem harsh, but be honest - you and I often see people as a waste of time. Because we're overly confident and independent, people become an irritating and unhelpful interruption of what we could accomplish on our own. How often do you blow people off completely, or at least "tolerate" their lesser opinions while masking your frustration? Ask yourself - do I actually think I need the body of Christ?

Everyone is a glory junkie, and we all will be until we meet Jesus, but not everyone recognizes their self-righteousness and self-importance. Ask the Lord to show you where you think you're too righteous, too awesome, and too important. You are never in more danger than when you think you've spiritually arrived, and there's never more joy than when you're completely reliant of the grace of God.

The good news is Jesus welcomes our brokenness. He came to earth to heal junkies like you and me.
 

Paul David Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization whose mission statement is "Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life." Tripp is also professor of pastoral life and care at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas, and executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas. Tripp has written many books on Christian living that are read and distributed internationally. He has been married for many years to Luella, and they have four grown children. For more information, visit www.paultripp.com.

Making Resolutions

It’s that time of year again, that time of year when we examine what we don’t like about our life and make a resolution to change it in the New Year.

Can be I honest with you? I think your New Year’s resolution isn’t going to be as effective as you hope it will, if it works at all.

Is change important? Absolutely. Is commitment essential? Of course. Is improving your lifestyle a wise decision? Without a doubt. So I don’t want to discourage you from writing or keeping a New Year’s resolution, but I do want to challenge the way you think about biblical change.

You see, Christianity – which has the gospel of Jesus Christ at the center – simply doesn’t rest its hope in big, dramatic moments of change. The fact of the matter is this: the transforming work of grace operates in 10,000 little moments more than it does in a series of two or three life-altering events.

In other words, the character and quality of your life won’t be defined by two or three life-changing moments. No, the character and quality of your life will be defined by the 10,000 little decisions, desires, words, and actions you make every day.

How you can you be a better you in 2015? Confess in 10,000 little moments of conviction. Be courageous in 10,000 little moments of faith. Obey in 10,000 little moments of decisions. Choose the kingdom over God over the kingdom of self in 10,000 little moments of desire.

You don’t need a big resolution to change your life, because your life isn’t established in big moments. Your life is established in 10,000 little moments, and Jesus Christ is present and active in all those moments. In these small, seemingly insignificant moments, he’s delivering every redemptive promise he has made to you. In these 10,000 little moments, the Lord is working to rescue you from you and transform you into his likeness.

By sovereign grace, God places you in 10,000 little moments that are designed to take you beyond your character, wisdom, and grace so that you'll 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 in 2015, but not in a way that hopes for a big event of transformation. Your hope for change is a humble heart that finds joy in, and is faithful to, a day-by-day, step-by-step process of insight, confession, repentance and faith.

As 2014 gives way to 2015, wake up each day committed to live in the 10,000 little moments of your life with open eyes and humble hearts.

God bless

Paul David Tripp


Reflection Questions

  1. What do you want to change about your life?
  2. Why is a New Year's resolution so attractive?
  3. Why do New Year's resolutions typically fail?
  4. How can you make changes in your 10,000 little moments of life?
  5. How can you encourage others in their 10,000 little moments of life?

About Paul Tripp

Paul Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization whose mission statement is "Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life." Tripp is also professor of pastoral life and care at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas, and executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas. Tripp has written many books on Christian living that are read and distributed internationally. He has been married for many years to Luella, and they have four grown children. For more information, visit http://www.paultrippministries.org/store

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