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Are We Overdoing the Decorations? (via Paul Tripp)

Paul Tripp offers a few words about ensuring our celebration of Christmas doesn’t obscure the essential message of Christmas:

Guard the Meaning of Christmas
It is really sad how much of our time, effort, and energies are captured by the cultural busyness of Christmastime, rather than the core of the Advent story. We allow Christmas to be more about created stuff than it is about the incarnation of the Creator. We’ve turned the story on its head.
The glory of this story is that the Creator himself becomes a man to rescue us from our bondage to the creation. For some, Christmas has become about bondage to the creation. This is something we should guard against.
We allow Christmas to be more about created stuff than it is about the incarnation of the Creator.
Are We Overdoing the Decorations?
Christmas can also become more about decorating and acquiring than about being rescued. We all want to decorate our lives with beautiful things that we think will satisfy us.
Maybe what we’ve done with the Christmas story is a metaphor for that desire. What we’ve done with this season is a metaphor for how we just want to decorate everything so that life is beautiful to us. But that never ends up satisfying us.
It’s not wrong to want your house to be beautiful at Christmas, but if that’s what the season is about, you’ve missed the whole point. Christmas proclaims that nothing but Christ’s redemption is ever going to give us what our hearts long for, rescuing us from things that can’t satisfy.
It’s not about created stuff, it’s not about decorating and acquiring. It’s about the incarnation of the Creator—rescuing us from all those false hopes.


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The Brave Love Of The Man Who Loaned A Tomb To Jesus (via Paul Tripp)

Paul Tripp writes a thoughtful meditation on the brave love of Joseph of Arimathea, the man who publicly identified himself as a disciple of Jesus when all seemed lost, and who provided a tomb for a much shorter period of time than he would have thought.
From the article:

While the other disciples were hiding in confusion and fear, Joseph of Arimathea acted with remarkable courage and love. If you noticed from the passage, this man had everything to lose with this move. He was a member of the inner council of the Sanhedrin, and it was his peers who had just put pressure on Pilate to try Jesus for treason and hang him on a cross.
Asking for the body of this crucified man was a public declaration of his love for Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea would no longer be a secret disciple (John 19:38). When he could have remained under the radar, Joseph inserted himself into the middle of a religious and political drama, the very drama that sent the rest of the disciples into hiding. In one move, Joseph risked everything: his wealth, his reputation, his power, and even his life.
But Joseph of Arimathea loved his Lord too much to let his body rot on the cross or be ignominiously thrown with other criminals into some shallow public grave. With a heart of worship, he gave to the Messiah a tomb, and with a heart of love, he buried his Lord with honor.

Read the whole post here.

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The Grace That Brings Personal Transformation And Change

The grace that saved us is the source of the change that takes place in our lives as saved people:

The spiritual growth of progressive sanctification concerns something vastly deeper than a greater allegiance to God’s rules. It requires God working to fix what sin has broken, and that brokenness exists in our hearts. Only when awe of God progressively replaces awe of self will we joyfully, willingly, and consistently live as God designed us to live. And for the reclaiming of the motivational system of each of our hearts, we have been given amazing, powerful, zealous, unending, and transformative grace.
Awe, Paul David Tripp, Crossway, 2015, page 129.

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23 Things That Love Is (via Paul Tripp)

This was featured as one of Paul Tripp’s most popular posts from last year.
I don’t think I linked to it then.
Here’s the first eight:
LOVE IS… being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of others without impatience or anger.
LOVE IS… actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward another while looking for ways to encourage and praise.
LOVE IS… making a daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.
LOVE IS… being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding.
LOVE IS… being more committed to unity and understanding than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.
LOVE IS… a making a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.
LOVE IS… being willing, when confronted by another, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.
LOVE IS… making a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to another is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.
Read the others here.

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The Battle Against Being Satisfied With Too Little (via Paul Tripp)

From Paul David Tripp:

…I am persuaded that the problem with the body of Christ is not that we are dissatisfied with what we do not have, but that we are all too satisfied with what we do have. We are comfortable with a little bit of holiness, a little bit of ministry, a little bit of sacrifice, a little bit of wisdom, a little bit of satisfying glory that only the grace of Christ is able to give us. I am deeply persuaded that we must resist with all of our might the kind of self-satisfied spirituality that marks the life of so many believers. And I am further persuaded that this pseudo-spirituality is one of the cruel deceptions of a wily enemy.
What is the danger of this kind of spirituality? It never results in truly Christ-centered, grace-driven, God-glorifying, heart-satisfying righteousness. True righteousness only ever begins when you come to the end of yourself. Only when God leads you to the place where you begin to abandon your own agenda and false righteousness, does true righteousness take hold. And only then can a passion for selfless service and true worship grow in your heart.
But the battle is ever-present, and I am afraid that at the same moment we are nibbling at the table of the Lord, we are often stuffing ourselves at the buffet of the world. No wonder our hearts are not satisfied; we are feasting on food that has no capacity to satisfy. And no wonder we are addicted; as we feed on what cannot satisfy, we must go back again and again and again.
Paul David Tripp, Broken-Down House,Shepherd Press, 2009, pp 94-95.

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Getting Care For The Least Pastored People In The Church (via Paul Tripp)

Paul Tripp has composed a bonus chapter to his book on pastoral ministry, Dangerous Calling.
In the chapter he outlines eleven practical steps for pastors to pursue to help them have healthy ministries.
The tone of the book, and this chapter is fairly urgent and directive, but I think that’s because Tripp is very concerned about the effect that poor personal spiritual self-care among pastors have, not only on them personally, but on the churches we lead.
One of the emphases in Dangerous Calling is that pastors have basically adopted a personal spiritual life as part of their calling that we’d see as perilous if any person we were pastoring adopted it.
The whole eleven steps are helpful.
I’ve reproduced number seven here because I believe it’s vitally important and often more or less ignored in practice.
I can’t understand why pastors whose churches don’t have any activity on Sunday night never visit other churches.
You can find a pdf file of the chapter at this page on Tripp’s website.

There is a debilitating myth that is widely accepted across the evangelical church culture. It is that pastors, being knowledgeable and mature, do not need pastoring. The vast majority of church attenders assume that their pastors are spiritually healthy. Committed members may pray for their pastor, and that is good, but they would never presume to speak into his life. Pastor, this assumption places you in spiritual danger. It puts you on a spiritual pedestal that no one between the “already” and the “not yet” should be on. Isolated, separated, individualistic Christianity is as dangerous for you as it is for anyone else in your congregation. You share identity with everyone to whom you minister. You too are a sinner in the middle of your sanctification, and you too need the ongoing ministry of the body of Christ. Since there is no indication in the New Testament that a pastor is safe living outside the body of Christ, you must resist buying into the myth and ask to be pastored.
This means two things. First, you need to seek out a copastor on your staff or a mature elder and ask that person to pastor you. Ask him to intrude on your private world with questions it would be hard for you to ask yourself. Ask him to meet with you regularly for counsel, encouragement, rebuke, and prayer. Next, you must find a way to place yourself under the rich teaching and preaching of God’s Word. Be committed to attend a service in your church at which you do not preach. If you have only a morning service, find another church in your community where there is sound gospel preaching. If you have no other options, watch or listen to at least one good sermon on the Internet each week. Too many pastors attempt to give, give, give without receiving any life-giving, heart-convicting, gospel-infused teaching themselves. No wonder they begin to dry up!
I am gone almost every weekend, but I do my best to get home on Saturday night so I can worship with God’s people and sit under good preaching. Sitting next to my wife while hearing good preaching is not only the highlight of my week; it is essential to what God has called me to do.

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Fighting The Awe War

Paul Tripp takes five minutes to explain that humans are hard-wired for awe, that we should live in awe of God not in awe of anything else, and how those who are meant to lead the ongoing battle for our awe to be of God can lose their own awe of Him.