Tag: Hope

If Only

If Only

If Only…

It’s so easy to slip into an “if only” lifestyle. I find myself slipping into it often. The “if only” possibilities are endless:

  • • If only I’d been from a more stable family.
  • • If only I’d had better friends as I was growing up.
  • • If only my parents had sent me to better schools.
  • • If only I’d been given better intellectual gifts.
  • • If only that accident hadn’t happen.
  • • If only I’d had better physical health.
  • • If only that degree program had been as good as advertised.
  • • If only I’d been able to find a better job.
  • • If only I didn’t have to fight the traffic every day.
  • • If only I’d been able to get married.
  • • If only I hadn’t gotten married so young.
  • • If only I’d understood marriage more before I got married.
  • • If only I had a more understanding spouse.
  • • If only I’d come to know Christ earlier.
  • • If only I’d found a good church when I was young.
  • • If only I didn’t have to struggle with my finances.
  • • If only it was easier and more comfortable for me to communicate with others.
  • • If only I could find a small group that I could be comfortable with.
  • • If only I could have had children.
  • • If only my children were more obedient.
  • • If only I knew the Bible better.
  • • If only that boss hadn’t fired me.
  • • If only I had a better place to live.
  • • If only I could find some place where I feel like I really belong.
  • • If only God seemed closer to me.
  • • If only I didn’t have to work so hard to make ends meet.
  • • If only…

The seductive thing about our “if onlys” is that there is a bit of plausibility in all of them. We do live in a fallen world. We all face hardships of various kinds. We all have been sinned against in a variety of ways.

None of us ever lived in ideal circumstances or in perfect relationships. The world is a broken place and we have all been touched in many ways by its brokenness. Yet, the “if only” lifestyle tends to say, “My biggest problem in life exists outside of me and not inside of me.”

In Psalm 51 David says something very radical. It’s counter-intuitive to a culture that tends to say that we all are the result of what our experience has made us. David says, “Surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5)

David is saying that his greatest problem in all of life is not the result of what he has suffered in the situations and relationships of his life. Rather, David is saying that his biggest problem is internal and was there before he had any of these experiences! And David gives this deep and internal problem a name – sin. How humbling!

Think about it this way. It’s the evil that is inside of you that either magnetizes you to the evil outside of you or causes you to deal with the evil outside of you in a way that is wrong. It’s only when you begin to accept that your greatest problem in all of life is not what has happened or been done to you, that you begin to get excited about the rescuing grace of Jesus Christ. It’s only when you begin to accept that your greatest need is something you came into the world with, that you will begin to hunger for the help that only God can give you.

It’s only then that you begin to hunger for more than changes of situation and relationship. It’s only then that you begin to accept the most radical and personally liberating truth that you could ever conceive. What is that truth? It’s that what you and I really need to be rescued from is us! We are the biggest danger to us. That’s why God offers us the gorgeous promise of his grace which has the power to change us from the inside out.

Are you embracing that promise or are you still saying, “If only…”

  • • Make a list of the “If Only’s” that you find yourself repeating. If you’re stuck, I’ve included a much longer list here on my website.
  • • If you’re honest, who do you blame most? Circumstances, relationships, situations (outside), or a heart that’s corrupt (internal)?
  • • How can you become more self-aware that your biggest problem exists inside of you, not outside of you?

God bless

Paul David Tripp

Real Hope-Part One

Real Hope-Part One

1208573_69660271Most human beings are fascinated with the future. We read our daily horoscope, fantasize about time travel, and often catch ourselves pondering what tomorrow or the next day may hold. If we are honest with ourselves, almost all people are filled with a mix of fear and hope for the future.

Hope is an interesting idea. We popularly use the word hope to say things like, “I hope the weather is nice today,” or “I hope I win the lottery.” Using hope in this way amounts to nothing more than wishful thinking.

Others use the word hope to describe where they mentally go to escape the muck and mire of their frustrated lives. Men, women and children enter fantasy worlds that they hope will one day be the reality of daily living. Sports psychologists teach a technique called creative visualization in which athletes are trained to mentally meditate on making the right move. This is the sort of mind-over-matter thinking that many people describe as hope. Yet this version of hope is nothing more than pure fantasy.

When the Scriptures speak of hope, it means far more than wishful thinking or pure fantasy. Biblical hope is real because it is based on real future events. Biblical hope is a confident expectation of God’s future work on our behalf based on the reality of Christ’s work accomplished for us in the past. There is a firm confidence in the reality of what God has done for us and what He will do for us. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

For this reason, Christians think of hope in a very different way. Their ultimate hope is not found in something in this world like a relationship or a career, but Christians hope is lodged in another world. In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis argues that all men possess this desire for heaven, though many do not recognize it or intentionally suppress it. Lewis says that when we have a deep longing for love, a vacation, a career, there is an initial sort of grasping for heaven that ultimately fades away and evades us. The best marriage, vacation, or career can’t continually fulfill that deep desire. Only heaven can.

Men deal with that lack of fulfillment in a couple of different ways. Lewis calls the first way, the Fool’s Way. This person blames their lack of fulfillment on the thing itself and therefore moves from one object to the next to fulfill the desire that has evaded him. This sort of man blames the woman for not satisfying him enough and so dumps her and finds another. Another man might blame his job for not satisfying his career desires and so dumps the job to find another. Ultimately, he is never satisfied.

The second type of man, Lewis calls the Disillusioned Sensible Man. This is the experienced person who has learned from experience not to expect too much from life. He has tried to find satisfaction only to be continually disappointed. He scoffs at the young person who expects to find satisfaction and advises them not to hope too much.

The Christian, on the other hand, knows that his ultimate desire is met in another world. Lewis writes,

A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: water. Men feel sexual desire: sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world…probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.[1]

If you have ever longed for an existence beyond this life, wondered about eternity, or pondered the existence of God, you are expressing desires that are real and have a real corresponding satisfaction. But that satisfaction cannot be met by anything in this world. Those desires can only be satisfied in knowing the one true God who has revealed and offers Himself to you in the person of Jesus Christ.


[1] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p.120.

A City Church Update

A City Church Update

IMG_0121This God-His way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.

For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?

Psalm 18:30-31 (ESV)

It is hard to believe that City Church has been meeting for public worship for six weeks! Things have been going very well and we are encouraged. From the early stages of our vision planning to the present day, it has been our goal to plant a church that produces a “different kind of people who celebrate the City.” We have summarized this goal in the catchphrase,

City Church-For the Gospel and the City.

Here are a few things for which we are thankful:

  • Spiritual growth: The Gospel continues to expose our desperate need for the grace of God in every aspect of our lives-relationships, work, family, school.
  • The opportunity to BE the church: Because every member of City Church desperately needs grace, God is giving us opportunities to show it to each other in our discipleship efforts. Families are struggling financially, longing to have children, desiring friendship, and the people of God are doing the work of ministry to each other!
  • The City: We count it a privilege to live and serve in York City. City Church has been warmly received into the community by our neighbors, city churches, local businesses, and representatives of the local government. One recent highlight was the opportunity to field a kickball team to play in a downtown tournament at Sovereign Bank Stadium!
  • Visitors: We have been blessed to have a steady stream of visitors from families who live, work and go to school in the City. These families have been diverse ethnically, socio-economically, and generationally.
  • YMCA: City Church has been exceedingly blessed to have the YMCA as a host to our ministry. They have bent over backward to be hospitable to us.
  • Our Supporters: City Church would not be possible without God moving the hearts of individuals and churches to give financially and to pray.

I have been preaching through the book of Revelation in a series titled, “Hope for the Church and the City.” While Revelation may not seem like a logical book to study in a church plant, the recurring theme of hope is desperately needed in York City and in our own hearts. We would sincerely appreciate if you would pray for the following three things:

  1. That God would fill our hearts with Gospel-filled hope and make us a different kind of people.
  2. That as we celebrate the City, God would use City Church to give Gospel-filled hope to the men, women, and children of York City.
  3. That God would fund the estimated $60,000 gap we are projecting for 2010.
Planting a Deaf Church to Proclaim Christ – ByFaith Magazine

Planting a Deaf Church to Proclaim Christ – ByFaith Magazine

Picture 3“A quarter of a century has passed since David Wakeland first asked God to give him the opportunity to minister to deaf people. In the early 1970s, David formed a friendship with a deaf co-worker. That relationship gave David a glimpse of an unreached people group with a distinct language and culture. But no deaf person had ever come to Pastor Wakeland’s church in Alabama. After moving to Houston in 1992, Wakeland continued to pray for deaf people to join his congregation, but it had been years since he had repeated that prayer. He wasn’t looking for an answer that day. It was just another busy and blessed Sunday morning.”

Read the rest of the article written by Nancy Snyder, a missionary with Deaf Reformed Ministries and a member at City Church York

Suburban youths do missionary work in city – The York Daily Record

Suburban youths do missionary work in city – The York Daily Record

(DAILY RECORD / SUNDAY NEWS -- BIL BOWDEN)
(DAILY RECORD / SUNDAY NEWS -- BIL BOWDEN)

“It’s been eye opening. You don’t realize the things that are going on until you see it.” — Bekah Toomey, 18, from Grace Fellowship

“I think I grew a fondness for the city.” — Tiffany Skinner, 19, from Grace Fellowship

via Suburban youths do missionary work in city – The York Daily Record .