Contentment is Soul Business
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1 Timothy 6:6: “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment.”

“Christian contentment is soul business.” Thus says the 17th century Puritan preacher Jeremiah Burroughs in the Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. Here are some nuggets of wisdom from the 17th century about contentment. (Quotes from Burroughs are indented below.)

1. Contentment is gained, many times, by subtraction.

§  “A Christian comes to contentment, not so much by way of addition, as by way of subtraction. That is his way of contentment, and it is a way that the world has no skill in. I open it thus: not so much by adding to what he would have, or to what he has, not by adding more to his condition; but rather by subtracting from his desires, so as to make his desires and his circumstances even and equal.”

2. Contentment resides in being reconciled to the NOW of your present condition.

§  “And the truth is, I know nothing more effective for quieting a Christian soul and getting contentment than this, setting your heart to work in the duties of the immediate circumstances that you are now in, and taking heed of your thoughts about other conditions as a mere temptation.”

3. Contentment resides in molding our will and our desires to the providential will of God. (It is one thing to obey God’s commandments but an entirely different maturity is required to accept the providential will of God.)

4. Contentment resides in taking all of God’s blessings as tokens of the love of God. (Can I count my blessings “one by one”, knowing that every blessing is bestowed by a gracious and loving God?)

§  “Every good thing the people of God enjoy, they enjoy it in God’s love, as a token of God’s love, and coming from God’s eternal love to them, and this must need to be very sweet to them."

5. Contentment resides in contemplation and identification with the cross of Christ. (Aren’t my daily complaints and small afflictions rendered powerless in the contemplation of Christ who died on the cross for me?)

§  “The exercising of faith on what Christ endured, is the way to get contentment in the midst of our pains. Someone lies vexing and fretting himself, and cannot bear his pain: are you a Christian? Have you ever tried this way of getting contentment, to act your faith on all the pains and sufferings that Jesus Christ suffered: this would be the way of contentment, and a Christian gets contentment when under pains, in this way.”

6. Contentment resides in the appropriating the strength that comes from the outside. (Even though Burroughs defines contentment as “that sweet, inward, quiet gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition”, there is no contradiction in the “inward” grace of contentment because it ultimately is grounded on the strength which always comes from outside of one’s self.)

§  “A Christian finds satisfaction in every circumstance by getting strength from another, by going out of himself to Jesus Christ, by his faith acting upon Christ, and bringing the strength of Jesus Christ into his own soul, he is in this way enabled to bear whatever God lays on him, by the strength that he finds from Jesus Christ.”

7. Contentment resides in enjoying and making much of God. (Jonathan Edwards, Jon Piper, and Jeremiah Burroughs all acknowledge this truth. It’s a truth that has endured through many centuries. Wanting contentment is the surest path to loose contentment, if that "wanting" is a looking to self and not to Christ.)

§  “A godly heart enjoys much of God in everything he has, and knows how to make up all wants in God himself.”

8. Contentment resides in being properly burdened. (Contentment is not found by ignoring my concerns or afflictions but getting to the point where my sin is judged to be worse than my circumstances.)

9. The mystery of contentment resides in the following paradox: The Christian is the most contented person in all the world and also the most unsatisfied person in all the world. (That I was made for another world & that my soul is enlarged enough to be filled with God — therein lie both my dissatisfaction and my contentment.)

§  Godliness teaches us this mystery….A soul that is capable of God can be filled with nothing else but God; nothing but God can fill a soul that is capable of God….Therefore you will observe, that whatever God may give to a gracious heart, a heart that is godly, unless He gives Himself it will not do.”

10. Contentment resides in running swiftly to the Covenant of Grace. Contentment resides in appropriating the truth that God has bound himself to you in a covenant of grace. (Run swiftly, run often, run daily to the Covenant! Its objective, solid truth is the foundation for my contentment. God is for me. God loves me. God has bound himself to me eternally. May I preach to myself often about the Covenant of Grace.)

§  “It is a special sign of true grace in any soul, that when any affliction befalls him, in a kind of natural way he repairs immediately to the Covenant. Just as a child, as soon as ever it is in danger, need not be told to go to his father or mother, for nature tells him so; so it is with a gracious heart: as soon as it is in any trouble or affliction there is a new nature which carries him to the Covenant immediately, where he finds ease and rest. If you find that your heart works in this way, immediately running to the Covenant, it is an excellent sign of true grace.”

Jason Carter
Hurricane Irma and the Groaning of Creation
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“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” – Romans 8:20-23

This is not the way it’s supposed to be.  I take this adage as a colloquial expression of the doctrine of sin which affects even creation itself.  During Hurricane Irma, I often thought about this language of groaning found in Romans 8 -- the whole creation is groaning as if in the pains of childbirth.  It seems to me that hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes all represent the groans of creation longing for full redemption. The picture Paul paints of creation is that of a mother in childbirth who simply cannot wait any longer to see her beloved son or daughter. Yet for now, all of creation lives in the “already/not yet” tension – already tasting redemption but not yet receiving the fullness of the New Creation.

How should Christians and the church react to these groans of creation?

N.T. Wright pens these words: “Where should the church be at such a time? Sitting smugly on the sidelines, knowing it’s got the answers?  No, says Paul: we ourselves groan too, because we too long for renewal, for final liberation. And where is God in all this?  Sitting up in heaven wishing we could get our act together? No, says Paul (8:26-27): God is groaning too, present within the church at the place where the world is in pain. God the Spirit groans within us, calling us in prayer to God the Father.

The Christian vocation is to be in prayer, in the Spirit, at the place where the world is in pain, and as we embrace that vocation, we discover it to be the way of following Christ, shaped according to his messianic vocation to the cross, with arms outstretched, holding on simultaneously to the pain of the world and the love of God.” (The Challenge of Jesus, 189-90)

This seems to me very wise counsel for us to remember when we see (or experience first-hand!) the pain and suffering in our world.  We hold on tightly to both the pain of the world and the love of God. We do not look away from the pain and suffering of the world as if taking “the happy pill” of escapism. That is the not the way of the cross.  Yet neither do we doubt the love of God in the midst of the storm. The surprising truth of the cross is that it reveals the love of God like never before. 

For it is only when we hold the pain of the world close to our hearts and at the same time reach out for the love of God in the midst of our suffering are we following the narrow way of the cross.

This was my first rodeo riding out a Hurricane here in Florida.  (I feel duly welcomed now!)  Many people in our state and our community are hurting; many more have spent a very long week without power or water. 

Each situation is distinct, and each person experienced the storm in different ways.  Yet, what I personally found most encouraging is that I often found myself thinking: If I have to experience Hurricane Irma, I’m glad that I get to do it with the people of Trinity Wellsprings Church. I saw (and heard about) so many of our Covenant Partners helping widows and elderly folks put up hurricane shutters. I saw the encouraging words spoken back and forth on Facebook. I know many prayers were being lifted up to the throne of grace for protection for our world, our state, our communities, and our church buildings.

Whatever your experience of Hurricane Irma, I hope we can all say with the hymn writer Thomas Chisholm (1866-1960) these words:

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Grateful to have ridden the hurricane out with an amazing community of faith,

Pastor Jason Carter

Jason CarterComment
On Race and the Gospel: Pastoral Reflections
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I’m no expert on racism and reconciliation. I don’t claim to understand all the nuances of the Civil Rights movement or the latest unrest of racial tensions in our country (Trayvon Martin, Ferguson, Charlottesville). It’s a painful and explosive topic. It’s easy to say something ignorant.  It’s hard to say something winsome and thoughtful. 

Yet Christians can – and should – be able to say without hesitation or equivocation that racism is sinful.  This is not the way it was supposed to be. 

  • We are all created in the image of God. “Let us make mankind in our image and after our likeness…” Gen 1:26-27 // “And he made from one man every nation to live on the face of the earth”, Acts 17:26). Racism in any form, including the recent uptick of white supremacy in our country, is an affront to our shared humanity because we are all created in the image of God. Humanity always has more to unite us than divide us because of the beauty and good news of our shared imago dei (the image of God).

  • The cross of Christ is the great equalizer and the Holy Spirit brings us into one family of faith. (“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all,” Eph 4:3-6 // “His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them [Jews and Gentiles] to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility…For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit, Eph. 2:15-19). The beauty of the cross and the gospel is that they provide the means for which we are united into one family of faith.

  • We will all worship around the throne of God for all eternity with people of every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. (“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb,” Rev. 7:9). The church is a harbinger of the kingdom of heaven where every tribe and race and people are welcomed through the blood of Jesus Christ.

I have no wish to make politics the tail that wags the church. I believe this is an unfortunate misstep for the cause of the gospel. Politicians often suffer from a messianic complex: “vote for me because I alone can save you”. Quite frankly, this is idolatry.  Yet, we hear these sentiments on a regular basis from politicians on both the right and the left. The biblical witnesses tells us that there is no area of human life where the sin of idolatry cannot raise its ugly head – and politics is no exception. The messianic nature of politics and its demanding claim of total allegiance upon our worldview should make us pause reflectively and discerningly as Christians.

The church should be a model of charity, empathy, and love in our discourse. Listen to what Kevin DeYoung writes:  “The model of discourse we see on television is impatient, defensive, and rude. As Christians we need to be patient, understanding, and kind. Instead of going on the attack, we can ask genuine questions. Instead of bristling when our narrative is summarily dismissed, we can carefully explain our way of seeing things. And when we are wrong, we won’t be afraid to say so.”  News stations are big businesses intent on making big money; they do not exist to bring people together over cups of coffee to sing Kumbaya. Facebook posts typically go viral because an “in your face” tone and tenor not because of their ability to reflect on complicated issues in a way that reflects grace and truth. The church has an opportunity in our divided world – to be a different voice that communicates in tones and hues qualitatively different than our world.

So how are Christians to respond to this moment of time where racial tension, white supremacy, and events like Charlottesville are happening in our neck of the woods? 

1.     Talk with your kids.  Begin where you can.  Talk to your kids at home.  It may not seem like much, but as I see these acts of violence and racism in our country, I often wonder: “Who raised these people? What messages were being communicated at home?”  We have a responsibility to raise a generation that sees clearer and thinks deeper about the common humanity we all share across racial lines. 

 2.     Be Informed.  I recognize that I have a lot of “catch-up” to do along these lines, as I’ve been overseas for the last 11 years. In Central Africa, I utilized a chapter From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race by Daniel Hays (for a seminary class on  “Contemporary African Christianity”). Next, I will be reading John Piper’s Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian. I recognize that these books are only the tip of the iceberg; I will need to have others on my plate. How about you? 

I’m interested in hearing what an African American pastor says to white Christians in Tears We Cannot Stop (Michael Erik Dyson) as well as how poor, working class whites are feeling marginalized in today's economy in Hillbilly Elegy (J.D. Vance) -- both are NY Times Bestsellers. 

3.     Be Teachable, Be Humble, and Do Some Listening (Not only Talking).  In my experience, almost every minority can recount with vivid details the history of unfairness, discrimination, and racism that exists in our country. Because they have experienced it personally first-hand. As part of the white majority, I have a lot of listening to do when the opportunity presents itself. Now is one of those times. 

What about the events surrounding Charlottesville?  Here are what some prominent Christian leaders are saying:

  • Rev. Tim Keller, Reformed pastor, author, and Vice-President of The Gospel Coalition:

o   “Christians should look at the energized and emboldened white nationalism movement, and at its fascist slogans, and condemn it—full stop.”

o   “The conservatives are using the events to prove that liberal identity politics is wrong, and liberals are using it to prove that conservatism is inherently racist. We should not do that.” (See: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/race-the-gospel-and-the-moment

  • Did you know that before Charlottesville, the largest protestant denomination in the United States – the Southern Baptist Convention – condemned the alt-right movement with this language in June 2017? The declaration reads:

o   “WHEREAS, Racism and white supremacy are, sadly, not extinct but present all over the world in various white supremacist movements, sometimes known as “white nationalism” or “alt-right”; now, therefore, be it RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 13–14, 2017, decry every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and be it further RESOLVED, That we denounce and repudiate white supremacy and every form of racial and ethnic hatred as of the devil; and be it further RESOLVED, That we acknowledge that we still must make progress in rooting out any remaining forms of intentional or unintentional racism in our midst; and be it further RESOLVED, That we earnestly pray, both for those who advocate racist ideologies and those who are thereby deceived, that they may see their error through the light of the Gospel, repent of these hatreds, and come to know the peace and love of Christ through redeemed fellowship in the Kingdom of God, which is established from every nation, tribe, people, and language.”

o   For a denomination whose strongest pockets of attendance lie in the southern part of the US, this was a case of Christian leaders clearly recognizing the evil of white supremacy as a contradiction of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (See: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-faqs-what-christians-should-know-about-the-alt-right)

  • Dr. Albert Mohler, Reformed Baptist president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, makes the following observations:

o   “Among those who attended the demonstration on Friday night [in Charlottesville] were self-identified neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Photos quickly appeared in Berlin, showing protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia -- in the United States of America -- offering the raised arm of the Nazi salute.”

o   “We must see claims of racial superiority–and mainly that means claims of white superiority–as heresy.  That is not a word we use casually. Heresy leads to a denial of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the eclipse of the living God as revealed in the Bible. A claim of white superiority is not merely wrong, and not merely deadly. It is a denial of the glory of God in creating humanity—every single human being–in his own image. It is a rejection of God’s glory in creating a humanity of different skin pigmentation. It is a misconstrual of God’s judgment and glory in creating different ethnicities. (See: http://www.albertmohler.com/2017/08/13/letter-berlin-lessons-history-heresy-racial-superiority/)

I bring up these points not to cause needless controversy, but to remind us that Christians have clear biblical reasons to stand up against racism. This is not a grey area. Historically, Christians have always been on the forefront of social justice issues: from the transatlantic slave trade (William Wilberforce) to treating leprosy patients worldwide (Leprosy Mission) to the 2014 Ebola outbreak (where Christians were on the front line in offering courageous and compassionate service).

I pray that TWC will always be a church where all races and nationalities find an authentic, loving community under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Celebrating the beauty and implications of the imago dei with you today,

Pastor Jason

Jason Carter
Revive Us? Revive Me!
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"There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer." - A. T. Pierson

"Every mighty move of the Spirit of God has had its source in the prayer chamber." - E.M. Bounds


Revivals are interesting phenomena.  In one sense, they depend solely on the sovereign grace of God to bestow a sense of spiritual awakening to the people of God (and to those coming to faith in the revival).  Yet studying revivals throughout church history, we can also identify some common threads: (1) robust expository preaching of the Bible as the Word of God, (2) an openness to the Holy Spirit, especially to bring deep conviction of sin, and (3) a vibrant sense of private and corporate prayer issuing to the throne of God from the people of God. 

Most movements of God throughout church history have come as the church gathers together on its knees. There is no substitute for spiritual renewal and revitalization – let alone revival – without the church gathering together for prayer.

We cannot control or manipulate God in prayer.  We can no more bring forth a revival or movement of God than we can control the weather! Yet, God often delights and smiles upon His children as we come together – shoulder to shoulder – to pray and seek His face. 

On August 13th, we want come together to knit our hearts closer to God’s heart.  As a church family, we come “empty handed” simply to offer prayer and praise to the Living God.  We come in prayer as we send our children and grandchildren off to another school year; we come to ask for God’s favor and blessing as we crank up the Fall programs in the life of our church; we come together to seek God’s wisdom, direction, and blessing for our church family. 

Thankful to be with you on this journey of discipleship,

Pastor Jason Carter

*** “Refresh: A Night of Prayer and Praise” will take place in the sanctuary from 6:15 to 7:00 followed by “Renew: Vision and Training” from 7:15-8:00.  Hope to see you there! 

Jason Carter
TWC Bookstore
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“A growing Christian is often a reading Christian.” I generally stand by this axiom even though I understand that God gloriously and distinctly wires us all in radically different ways.  My cup of tea may not be yours, so to speak. Nevertheless, I have seen over the years that disciples who engage with Christian writers of the past and present are often afforded a depth of perspective in matters of faith, wisdom, prayer, and suffering as well as a sharpness of mind and a softness of heart to apply the Scripture to their daily lives. We always live out the Christian life in community, yet there is something healthy and happy – yes, even exciting – that happens when a disciple of Jesus Christ begins to include authors as part of their pilgrimage of faith. Good Christian books launch us into the deep waters of faith in a few hours that even the best of sermons – typically consisting of a few minutes – can never achieve.

As you came into worship today, you may have noticed the “TWC Bookstore” lined with rows of books in various categories. These books are marked with a “suggested donation amount”.  Hopefully, you will find a person manning the Resource Center that will take cash or make change between worship services on Sunday.  Let me highlight a few books at our TWC Bookstore:

Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home (Richard Foster) is a modern-day classic book on prayer. I highly recommend it for an entry into discussing prayer.

Marriage: The Meaning of Marriage (Tim Keller) and What did you Expect? (Paul Tripp). We can all use a “marriage check-up” whether our marriage is “smooth sailing” or whether we in the midst of “experiencing turbulence”.

Families with young children will find three books particularly helpful in reading the Bible with young hearts: The Jesus Storybook Bible and The Biggest Story. My boys who love all things pertaining to Superheroes have loved reading through The Action Bible which have unbelievable drawings accompanied by a great storyline of the Bible. 

Overwhelmed by the busyness of life? Consider reading Crazy Busy (Kevin DeYoung). This is a great follow-up from our worship services today.

Grateful to be with you on the road to discipleship,

Pastor Jason

Jason Carter
The Word of God -- S.C.A.N.
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What does it mean for us – individually and corporately – to become creatures of the Word of God?  How can the Word of God reverberate into lives, into our songs in worship, into conversations around the dinner table, into our friendships, and into our community like those small silver balls in an old-school pinball machine? How do we stand today solely upon the Word of God (sola scriptura) like Martin Luther five hundred years ago when he posted his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg on October 31, 1517?

Historically, the Protestant tradition has underscored four essential attributes of Scripture which can be helpfully remembered by the acronym SCAN: Sufficiency, Clarity, Authority, and Necessity. In Taking God at His Word, my friend Kevin DeYoung expounds upon these four chief characteristics. Let me directly quote and loosely paraphrase him thus:

Sufficiency: The Scriptures contain everything we need for knowledge of salvation and godly living. Scripture needs no additional words to make the revelation of God more personal or more direct. God’s word is enough.

Clarity: The saving message of Jesus Christ is plainly taught in the Scriptures and can be understood by all who have ears to hear it.  We don’t need an official magisterium to tell us what the Bible means.  God’s word is understandable.

Authority: The last word always goes to the word of God. We must never allow the teachings of science, of human experience, or of church councils to take precedence over Scripture. God’s word is final.

Necessity: General revelation is not enough to save us. We cannot know God savingly by means of personal experience and human reason. We need God’s word to tell us how to live, who Christ is, and how to be saved. God’s word is necessary.  (See Taking God at His Word, p. 44-5.)

My suspicion is that many Christians struggle with one (or more) of these characteristics as they seek to live out and apply the Word of God to their daily lives. Part of becoming a “creature of the Word of God” is returning to and delighting in these practical attributes of God’s Word!

Pastor Jason

Jason Carter