Sacrosanct Gospel

a blog by Tim Melton…

The Glory of Christ 4: Losing Sight of Christ

Posted by Tim Melton on December 9, 2014

The Glory of ChristWhen I lose sight of Jesus, I lose sight of every thing else. Beauty becomes invisible. Hope evaporates. God is hidden. My thoughts become dischordant. Life becomes ugly. And I am overwhelmed with grief. But, to glimpse Christ…

“In His incarnation, Jesus Christ became the representative image of God to the church. Without Him, we will have no understanding of God and no ability to even approach God’s Divine excellence or His beauty. God will remain invisible to us. But in the face of Jesus Christ, we clearly see His glory.”

- John Owen, The Glory of Christ (my paraphrase)

In response to this post Joseph Crump, and old college friend of mine sent me a good quote from another great puritan minister, “God takes His children in his arms when they come to deep water; so at least, when they lose ground, and are put to swim, then his hand is under their chin.”
– Samuel Rutherford, “The Loveliness of Christ”

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The Glory of Christ 3: Fear of Death

Posted by Tim Melton on December 8, 2014

The Glory of ChristI have often heard it said that depression is is caused by internalized anger. I don’t think it is that simple. I believe that internalized anger is more closely associated with shame (or defeated pride). I don’t disagree that shame is a factor in causing depression, but there are other factors to consider. Chemical disorders, demonic oppression, difficult relationships, financial struggles, dark memories, and various other abuses are all elements that could contribute to a person’s struggle with depression. Many of these factor into my own struggle.

Yet, there is one terrifying factor that is common to all people, no matter who they are, no matter where they live, and no matter what stage of life they are in. The fear of death. This is the ‘big daddy’ fear and it is pervasive and formidable. Not only do we fear our own death. But we also fear it for our loved ones. We fear the death of a beloved parent. We fear the death of our children.

Besides death itself, we fear a million “little deaths” that exist between this moment and the moment of our own final departure from this life. The loss of our youth. The loss of our health. The loss of our intellect. The loss of accumulated wealth. The loss of children who grow up and leave our homes. All these are like “mini” deaths, that remind us every day that we are just passing through this life, like so many who have passed through before us. We are but a breath, a whisper, and then we are gone.

My own battle with depression is more associated with this reality than any other cause. Death. I think it was also a great factor in John Owen’s struggle with depression, especially in his early years. Owen was a great man of God, with tremendous faith, yet he was no different than any of us. His mortality, along with his sin, stood ever before him, and it often cast him into wretched bouts of gloom. Thankfully, this depression drove him to the Cross of Christ. And it was in the face of Christ that his depression was lifted. It was also this reality that led him to pen “The Death of Death in Death of Christ” and the book I am currently reading, “The Glory of Christ“. It is also why John Piper centered on the thoughts of John Owen in his book, “When the Darkness will not Lift“. Piper dedicates his book on depression to Owen on the first page where he writes, “To the memory of John Owen, who has wakened hope for many in the darkness of perfectionistic despair.”

I praise God for wonderful Christians like John Owen, John Piper, Ed Welch, Brennan Manning, Paul Tripp, Elyse Fitzpatrick, and Dan Allendar – those who have helped me to gaze at the glory of Christ by faith. I must admit that I see Christ through weak eyes that strain to squint at a dim reflection through a dirty mirror. Yet, I trust that even these faint glances of Christ’s beauty will continue to pull me out of my depression and see me though this life until at long last I see my Savior face to face.

Posted in Depression & Christianity, John Owen | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Drawing Near to God – Ebenezer Erskine

Posted by Tim Melton on December 5, 2014

beautiesofebenzer-350x416This morning I was reading the “Beauties of Christ” by old Presbyterian Scottish pastor Ebeneezer Erskine who writes, “God, in his infinite wisdom, has devised a way how his banished people may be brought home again to his presence; and that is, through the blood and satisfaction of Christ… This (invitation) is to draw near to the throne of grace to which he has invited us to come with boldness, that we may obtain mercy, and find help in time of need…

What does it mean then to ‘draw near to God?’  I answer, it is an act of the heart and mind, whereby the soul, under the influence of the Spirit, sweetly and irresistibly returns to a God in Christ as its only center of rest. That poor soul, having tried Adam’s way of access, and finding that door bolted by God’s law, justice, and holiness, despairs of ever entering.  At length, when a man has wearied himself in the pride of his own way, he finds the door of the holiest place opened by the blood of Jesus.  And in view of this new and living way, he cries out, ‘Oh! This is the gate of God! By this door will I enter into his presence! This is where I find my rest! Here is where l will dwell!’ 

And so we go quite out of self-dependency when we draw near to God’s holy presence by the blood of Jesus; we overlook our own duties, graces, frames, and attainments; instead we ground our hope of access and success only upon the merit and means of our Great High Priest Jesus; God having made us accepted in the Beloved. And in this view of things, the soul will readily express itself, as did David in the like case, saying, ‘I will go unto the altar of God. I will go to Christ who is my exceeding joy.”

Posted in Ebenezer Erskine, Gospel Thoughts | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Glory of Christ 2: Beholding Christ

Posted by Tim Melton on December 5, 2014

The Glory of ChristI long to behold Christ. Not my safe, bland, flat, faithless perception of Him. But Christ himself. Christ in all of his glory. Contemplation of his approving face is the only sight that can truly lift my head.

Of beholding Christ John Owen says, “No one will ever behold the glory Christ by sight in heaven who does not behold His face by faith in this world. There are many who say that they desire to be with Christ, to gaze at His glory, but they can’t tell you why because they have never seen Him through the eye of faith. They really only believe that heaven would be preferable to hell if they can’t be here. They pretend to want to someday behold Christ’s glory in heaven, but they have no faith in Christ here in this world. So their imagined desire for heaven is nothing more than self-deception. These are religious people who lie to themselves. Their fleshly affection likes to behold images and artistic renderings of Christ – in his suffering, in his resurrection, and in his heavenly glory. They think that in these things they are beholding Christ’s glory. Yet, without a true faith in the Gospel of Christ, all this is nothing but empty, religious window dressing… Truly beholding Christ’s glory in a way that comes by faith does not merely behold his outward appearance, for He had no outward glory of physical beauty. Nor is it beholding the beauty of His work, for His work was the lowly work of a servant, not the glorious work of a King. No. The people who behold Him with the eye of faith see a much greater glory – they see the glorious person of Jesus, they see His glorious heart, they see a faint reflection of the glorious divine nature of Christ, and they long to see more. This is the sight that draws our hearts toward heaven. This is the glory that John the Baptist saw when he cried out, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

- John Owen, The Glory of Christ (my paraphrase)

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The Glory of Christ 1: Troubled Minds

Posted by Tim Melton on December 4, 2014

The Glory of ChristThis season of Advent 2014 I’m going back over some thoughts that I had last Autumn 2014 when I was reading old pastor named John Owen.

Owen says, “Our thoughts are so often cast into disorder by the troubles of life and our minds are unsettled by all kinds of idolatrous desires and passions. This is why the Psalmist said, ‘Why are you cast down, O my soul? Why are you troubled within me?’ So often, our mind is it’s own worst enemy. It troubles itself with runaway fears and unbridled sorrows. It causes itself to have confused thoughts until our mind is utterly out of its own power. But, it is not lost. For only a glimpse of the glory of Christ will settle our thoughts. And if our glimpse becomes a gaze, if we meditate and contemplate His majesty, then our minds will be composed. Our thoughts will be put in order. Our souls will be sedate, and quiet, and filled with such a faith in Christ that we will be able to say to the crashing waves of our idolatrous desires, ‘Peace. Be still.’ And they will obey.
– John Owen, The Glory of Christ (my paraphrase)

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A Good Day

Posted by Tim Melton on December 3, 2014

shadow1I love this poem about depression. Even though it does not seem to be written from a Christian perspective, it is starkly honest and boldly courageous. So many pastors that I know, like me, struggle with depression. It is a killer that steals life, hides hope, and defames Christ. So thankful that the gospel is the lifter of my head, that the love of Christ gives me power over the darkness, and that the hope of heaven tomorrow gives me confidence to embrace today.

“Jesus, lift the heads of those you love. Lift the chin of those who suffer with depression. Lift them out of the miry pit of self loathing, out of the miry clay of despair. Put a new song on their lips. May your presence be like honey on a bitter tongue and like a fount of water in a dry land.

Posted in Depression & Christianity, Poetry - Other | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Why Public Greeting is Vital in Christian Worship

Posted by Tim Melton on November 5, 2014

Calvin and Hobbes GreetingThis morning I read an article forwarded to me by a friend entitled, “Those Who Really Don’t Like the ‘Stand and Greet Time’ in Church” (click here to read the article).   The main emphasis of the article concerned first time church goers who do not want to be encouraged to talk to other people in the worship service.  A large number of those people polled cited the “meet and greet” or “giving of the peace” element of Christian worship as socially uncomfortable and undesirable.  Many said that they wished churches would do away with this tradition.  I have just a few thoughts in response to the article.  As I view it, the “greeting” or “giving of the peace” in a worship service is not just an aside, it is a vital part of Christian worship.  In fact, the Bible is filled with passages that encourage the church toward love, relationship, fellowship, greeting, and welcoming.  A few examples…

  1. The (church) devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42
  2. We loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 1 Thess 2:8
  3. Greet one another with a holy kiss.  Romans 16:16; 2 Cor 13:12
  4. Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:21
  5. Greet all your leaders and all the Lord’s people. Hebrews 13:24
  6. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:7
  7. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

To be sure, there are visitors who come to church who are uncomfortable with this vital expression of worship.  But, in the same fashion, there are also people who are uncomfortable with singing in worship – maybe because they can’t sing.  There are others who do not like preaching in worship, but only want to sing.  There are still others who do not approve of a public opportunity to give gifts and offerings.  Some hate readings and liturgy.  Others love readings and liturgy.  My point is that church goers may find a million different things that they do not like in a Christian worship service.  Yet, our focus should be kept on asking the question, “What does Christ find pleasing?”  In the PCA book of church order, we are given a prescription of what should be included in every Christ oriented worship service.  It states:

  • Public worship differs from private worship in that in the public worship of God, His saints engage in worship ‘unitedly’ as His covenant (relationally bonded) people, who exist as the body of Christ… The Bible teaches that the following are proper elements of  a Christian worship service:
    • The reading of Holy Scripture
    • The singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
    • The offering of prayers
    • The preaching of God’s Word
    • The presentation of gifts and offerings.
    • The confessing of the faith (ie. Apostle’s Creed, WCF, Heidelberg Confession, etc.)
    • The observance of the Sacraments
    • The making of oaths (ie. baptism, marriage vows, officer vows, membership vows, etc.)

The implied understanding in all of these acts of worship is that they are done in a ‘public’, covenantal, and relational manner.  In fact, the congregational vows that Christians make regarding baptism, membership, and the receiving of church officers  are public and relational vows.  We make these vows openly, not just to God, but also to each other.

Again, many people may be uncomfortable with this worship environment – maybe due to introversion, isolationism, privatism, anxiety, or whatever else.  So, we should be sensitive to these issues. Yet, these very same people have to interact with service industry people all the time.  In our culture, a person can’t get along very well without greeting, introducing themselves, and shaking hands with people on a regular basis.  So, why should anyone expect to enter into worship with God’s people without also being called to interact with God’s people?  That’s part of what it means to worship our loving Triune God. In the God-head, the three persons of the Trinity are always serving and embracing each other in sacrificial love.  In like kind, God calls us out of our comfort zones to also love and embrace each other as he lovingly embraces us.  That’s who he is and that’s who we are also called to be as we grow in his likeness.  We need to understand, along with our visitors, that Christianity is personal, but it is never private.  A worship service is not a dark movie theatre or a private dinner where those who attend can slip in and out without acknowledgement.  No.  A worship service is a public event.  And in a privatized society like ours, those who choose to worship with us in our churches should feel the invitation of Christ to engage in public worship in a public way.

With these things in mind, I feel that the “greeting of the saints” or the “giving of the peace” in worship is one of the vital ways that we express the very public and relational nature of our faith in Christ.

Posted in Gospel and Culture, Gospel Thoughts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

“Show Them Jesus” – by Martha Jo Melton

Posted by Tim Melton on October 20, 2014

Show Them JesusI am so thankful for New Growth Press for publishing, “Show Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids“, by Jack Klumpenhower. It is PHENOMENAL!!!!- No exaggeration! It has encouraged and challenged me, equipped and highly motivated me to share, teach and know the Gospel, BUT more than anything else, it has helped me see Jesus in a way that has made me fall in love with Him all over again!!!

After chapter three, I was already calling people on the phone to tell them to get the book! After chapter seven, I just cried. Jack’s emphasis on Jesus in telling the account of “Martha and Mary” just floored me. I have always identified with Martha in the story and always felt scolded and unapproved of when I hear the account. But looking at Jesus instead of just Martha’s response to Him, helped me to see how much Jesus loved and was caring for Martha even in her worry and sin. It helped me believe how much He loves me in the midst of my own worry and sin!!!! Just like the author confessed in the chapter for himself–I realized how much I have taught my kids about a “puny Jesus” or a “flat character” in a story instead of the interesting, complex, full Son of God the Bible shows Him to be- if I really look at Him instead of trying to find some moral or principle to emulate.

The book also does a fantastic job dealing with questions about grace and obedience. There is a whole appendix in the back called “Twelve Answers to the Objection That teaching God’s Grace Leads to Lax Obedience”. This has been such a huge issue in the church and I think he communicates his view so clearly-I loved it!

This is a book that looks like it is just for people involved in children’s ministry. It is an excellent resource for that….and for youth ministry….and parents wanting to tell their kids about the Gospel…and Grandparents! He answers the “Why teach the Good News” question and “How to Teach the Good News.” He gives incredible examples, he’s honest about his mistakes and failures, he shares great illustrations to use, questions to ask yourself when you are preparing a lesson and questions to ask your students. It is PHENOMENAL!!!

BUT-its real value to me has been how it has personally inspired me to approach the Bible, the Gospel, Jesus–with different eyes! The Gospel has become “The Best News” to me afresh and I am really excited for every chance to share it! I think “Kids” should be defined as ages 4-100!!! Every Pastor and elder and anyone involved in any type of Gospel Ministry will be thoroughly, challenged, blessed by, encouraged and equipped by this book!

Posted in Book Reviews, Theology | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Depression and the Ministry

Posted by Tim Melton on March 11, 2014

Depression and the MinistryMy daughter Callie is a student at Covenant College. Last week she wrote a paper on a person in ministry who deals with a disability. Callie chose me. My disability is depression and anxiety. She sent me three questions to answer.

1) How does your faith change the way you interact with your depression?
I believe that dependency on Christ is the essence of Christian faith. In other words, Christians are in a trusting union with Christ and, apart from this union, they can’t do anything to help themselves or anyone else. But, just because I believe this intellectually does not mean that I yield to it easily. I suffer with depression and anxiety. Depression is a weird sort of disability. It’s the kind of thing that has crippled me in an invisible way. Others aren’t able to see it. For years I wanted to believe that I was OK. That I could build enough emotional ‘muscle’ to overcome depression. I tried to use Christ improperly to build this muscle. Maybe if I prayed enough or read the Bible enough or worked enough or toughened myself enough or performed enough – the depression would go away. It didn’t. It has taken me a long time to understand that Christ planned to ‘cripple me’ with depression in order to humble me and love me. And like a Christian man with two paralyzed legs has to grow accustomed to loving Christ from a wheel chair, I am having to grow accustomed to loving Christ from the constrictions of medication and an adjusted lifestyle. I used to feel that Christ would help me conquer depression once and for all. This would work for a little while. But when depression would cripple me I would feel abandoned by Christ. Now I am learning that Christ is using depression to conquer my self-sufficiency, my pride, and my shame.

2) How does your depression negatively affect your ministry?
I can’t do everything that I want to do. I can’t trust the ‘manic’ side of my personality that makes me feel like I’m superman and that I can save the world. Heck, I can’t even save me. No, that job belongs entirely to Christ. I have to adjust my schedule. I have to work differently. I can’t skip taking my medication and imagine that I am ‘healed’ just because I ‘feel’ better today. I have to realize everyday that I am a pastor who is crippled and I need to embrace that. I have to tell people ‘no’ in order to be healthy. That doesn’t always feel good to others who cannot easily see my ‘invisible’ disability. I have to make time to slow down and retreat. All this is very difficult, yet it is very crucial to my life and ministry.

3) How does your depression positively affect your ministry?
Christ uses my depression to teach me dependency. As I lean into him and am often even carried by him, I am learning to pray more and listen to the voice of my Savior.
Christ also uses depression to defeat my pride. I have many gifts and this often produces a lot of pride in me. Depression attacks my pride and mocks my gifted-ness in a way that helps me see that my gifts can’t be trusted; that my gifts are often my greatest enemy if they are not placed in the hands of Christ.
Christ uses depression to defeat my shame. I am often so embarrassed to admit to people that I have depression. I don’t want them to know that I am emotionally weak. Yet Christ is not satisfied to have me hide it. He calls me to humbly share my weaknesses with others. Christ helps me to embrace weakness in myself in way that helps me to also embrace the weakness in others. This has made me a person of prayer, a better counselor, and a more honest preacher. I am able to more honestly point people to the Cross instead of subtly pointing them to myself.
Finally, Christ uses depression to make me a better worshiper. Christ is my rescuer and my deliverer. The Cross is my food and the Resurrection is my life. As I worship God, Christ leads me to the lap of His Father. He comforts me in the arms of the Holy Spirit. He reveals my sin and wretchedness. He reveals his mercy, power, and beauty. He reminds me that I am a fragile clay pot, but I rest in His tender hands.

A couple of years ago, when my depression was at it’s worst, I went to meet with a Christian counselor. In our session together he asked me, “Tim, how long do you plan to stay in ministry?” I said, “I don’t really know. As long as I’m able I suppose. Maybe until I’m 70 years old.” The counselor chuckled, “The way you’re living, driving yourself, acting like a superman – I’ll be surprised if you make it another six months. Tim, listen to me. You are but flesh. You have weaknesses. Frailties. You have to embrace that reality.”

Those were powerful words. The reality is “I am but flesh.” I’m a man who suffers with depression. I always have been. I always will be. Christ has chosen not to take depression away. Instead, he has chosen, in his mercy, to meet me in the midst of my anxiety and depression and to walk me through it. He does this by waking me up in the morning. Greeting me in his Word and in my prayers. And then he gently reminds me – “Tim, go get dressed. Take your medication. Remember you are but flesh. And don’t worry, I am with you.”

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Samantha E. Trainor – I had to read this in sections… But wow! Thank you for sharing! Your answers were beautiful. The end is my favorite! Love you Tim!
Tim Melton Thanks Sam! Something like this is hard to share, but I feel that it is important not to hide and live under the facade that I have it all together. Love you too Sam!
Rod Henegar Get out of my head.
BrandonCandice Streff Thank you for always sharing your heart and your struggles. You’re always such a huge encouragement.
Kelly Cathcart Rabon Thanks for sharing Tim. I struggled as well and this really is helpful.
Kim S. Payne I share much of the same journey. God has used brokenness to humble and to minister. It’s called Leading with a Limp. It doesn’t fit the pretty boy superman model of ministry.
WilliamAngela Thomas Tim your “mess” is such an inspiring message… Than you for sharing!
Sara Way Tks for sharing. Great message .
Jonathan Rockness – I had to get over the feeling that I was saying, “Christ isn’t enough” if I resort to medication. I don’t deal with the same exact thing you do, but when I am overwhelmed I have learned that medication is one way of saying, “I don’t have what it takes; even if a better relationship with God is what it takes…I don’t have it!” I’ve learned to be grateful for my shortcomings as well, which keep me looking to the Lord. But of course, I hate my shortcomings also! Thanks for boldly sharing – it is helpful to many.
Tim Melton – Jonathan Rockness, great point. I’ve often felt the same way about medication saying, “If I just had enough faith I wouldn’t need this.” Yet, I would never think this about someone in a wheelchair. Christ is enough. Yes. But trusting in the sufficiency of Christ does not mean that I am self-sufficient. Trusting in Christ means trusting his provision – which means, among other things, receving from Christ my daily bread, food, rest, prayer, his Word, and in my particular case – medication.
Sarah Clark Seigle – This is awesome. So many of us can relate to this. Thanks for being bold and sharing!
Linda Holt – You can’t imagine how much this helps me too! Thanks for sharing this tender subject with all of us. Sometimes these issues which afflict my own family as well are resulted from chemical imbalance. Much like diabetes, the diet, exercise and medication and you are well controlled. I thank God for all of this. A good Christian diabetic needs his medication no matter how much faith he has. God can cure it, but if He chooses not to, then medication it is. God filled His gardens with medications for us!
Tim Melton – Linda Holt, that was so beautifully put. Great perspective. Thank you for your insight.
Gregory D. Ammons – You just articulated the journey I have been on for the last 20 years. Anxious and fearful, yet prideful and arrogant for the gifts he has given. A strange combination. But, I think you stated well that He allows us to be afflicted with anxiety, in order to rob us of our pride. I have never really put the two together. Thank you for being a vehicle for those words of clarity and truth.
Susan Morris Jenkins – Good gravy Melton. You hit every nail on the head. If I substitute my own issue for the word depression I could have written those words myself (though not as eloquently). Just this week I finally stopped thinking about “the future when Jesus heals me.” It seems more likely that He will graciously allow me to wrestle with my issue for the rest of my life. Thanks for sharing that.
Catie Jackson – Thanks for sharing this
Linda Holt – Sorry, one more thought. I believe God uses the burdens placed on our lives to help others. I have always found that when I openly air my struggles God blows the door wide open with people who need help, encouragement assitance and prayer as they go thSee More
Linda Holt – Wether we carry great burdens or great blessing they are all designed to Glorify God. Some of us just have to be a little more creative!!!
Tim Melton – Susan Morris Jenkins and Gregory D. Ammons, thanks so much for your thoughts. So cool how your words dovetail with Paul’s in 2 Cor 12 – So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
Dan Osterhaus – Thanks for you transparency brother!
Kelli Kirkley Hopkins – Tim thank you so very much for sharing this. I appreciate it greatly.
Karen Merrill Faris – Thank you sharing something so close to your heart. I have no doubt Christ is working through you in ways you can’t even imagine.
Katie Wanless Jean-Rejouis – Christ abounds more and more through your words each time I hear them. Thanks for continuing to reveal Christ in all you do, especially through the vulnerability of your soul not just the understanding of the mind.
Jill Kristen – Tim, your Christ-dependency is beautiful. I feel so blessed to be on your friends list. I love what Katie said above — revealing the vulnerability of your soul, esp. as a leader, is the most fruit-bearing thing you could do for your neighbor, rather than only being a mouthpiece of biblical understanding. The really neat thing here is that God used you and this same theme of vulnerability that you carry at The Well in 2005 to lift me completely from a debilitating depression, and also to give me understanding of it. Eerie. I think this is bc the souls that know the darker depths truly treasure and bask in the lightness of Christ. It is also a Christ-likeness — for He was truly a man who was well-acquainted with sorrow. Thank you for being the aroma of Christ to a kindred spirit.
Julie Tuck – Thank you sharing Tim. God Bless!
Gina Hay Bryan – Good stuff. Thanks for sharing!
Danyel Graham – Tim- this is a wonderful message. All these years, I’ve known you guys and never knew this. I applaud your Christian service on this topic. So many people do not get to “see” the depression. It’s real and can tear your life apart left unattended. I admire your words, your wisdom. Thank you for sharing your answers. I will share this with some others that need to see this. Kudos to you as you continue your walk with Christ.
Matt SutmanI’m right there, brother.
Sean Camp – Love you Tim. Your strength and your faith are both beautiful and inspiring. Your “flaws” only make your ministry stronger. I’m proud to be part of your family.
Sean Camp – Btw, the fact that Callie chose you for this assignment speaks volumes for your relationship with your daughter. That’s inspiring in and of itself.
Tim Melton – Thanks for your words Sean Camp. That means so much to me. More than you know. You’re a good brother. I love you much.
Nanny Helen – Tim (You’ll always be Timmy to me), that was beautifully written, and we can all relate… We are all flawed, and our relationship and dependance on Christ is our strength. Thank you for sharing that. I love you.
Tim Melton – I love you too Aunt Helen. And you can definitely call me Timmy. I actually prefer it.
Ann Hamilton Senn – Tim, there were great men of God, like William Cowper, who also suffered from depression, so you are not alone. It doesn’t mean you’re any less spiritual if the Lord provides a medication that assists in these bouts. Thank your daughter for sharing her tender heart, especially if it can be a great encouragement to others.
Ami Camp Castillo – Timmy I grew up thinking you were the cutest, funniest and most charismatic character in the family. I still think this today… I know we get caught up in our own lives and seem okay with touching base here and there with each other on social media but I want you to know that my childhood memories of you are some of my favorites. I hate that you suffer from depression but I honestly think it runs in the family baby. I feel so guilty for even feeling depressed sometimes because God has blessed me wayy beyond what i deserve. Just wanted to let you know that I love you so much, I am proud of the man you are and the fact that I got to share my childhood with you. Now let’s try to plan a good ole fashion Camp family Thanksgiving like the old days and give thanks for each other again like we used to!!
Nanny Helen – So, Ami Camp Castillo, you’ve forgiven Tim Melton for terrifying you in Gatlinburg with the threat of bears eating you alive in the snow? Let’s see, that was, ummmm, 30 plus years ago? Wow y’all are getting old
Melissa Reali – Beautifully answered! I’ve been reading a book called Disability and the Gospel and it so strongly ties to what you say. Depression is such a tough one to deal with. My prayers for your continued success.
Chris Ingram – Tim if it wasn’t for you I don’t know if I ever would have had the relationship with Jesus that I have now. A thank you doesn’t do it … But just know you changed my life as a Christian and that’s something you cannot put a price on. I love you Tim Melton
Emily Matthews – Ditto what Chris Ingram said Tim Melton for me too!
Tim Melton – Ami Camp Castillo, thank you so much for your loving words. Nanny Helen, We are getting old! I had forgotten about how much I used to torture poor Ami when we were kids. Please forgive me Ami. I’m glad to know you remember the good stuff.
Tim Melton – Chris Ingram, wow… That means so much to me. Your tender heart toward Christ always showed through. I’m so glad Christ gave me a season to help nurture that along. By the way, I had no idea that you lived in MB. I’d love to get together sometime for lunch or something. Emily Matthews, you are the best! I hope you are doing well!
Beverly Dial Jones – You are such an inspiration and a blessing. You are smart, funny, kind, and Jesus is using you in a mighty way…..in spite of your adversities!
Angela ‘Wineland’ Valenti – Thanks for sharing this Tim Melton! (btw, I can’t believe Callie’s old enough to be in college…she was just a little girl when Martha Jo was leading my small group at Bonclarken! I must be getting old.)

Ashley Cornwell Brittain – Totally understand it all…….thanks for sharing..ditto w/ Emily and Chris Ingram

Posted in Depression & Christianity, Personal Stuff | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Vita Salutis – Pizza Infographic

Posted by Tim Melton on February 13, 2014

Pizza Salutis High ResMy friend Daniel Wells, Assistant Pastor at Hill City Church in Rock Hill, said that he really liked to think of the “Ordo Salutis” (which is latin for “the order of salvation) as a big pizza where all the slices point to and are connected to a big slice of pepperoni in the middle, which is the Christian’s Union with Christ.  The logical order of each element found in the Ordo Salutis is indicated by a number.  Union with Christ is central and vital to every element of salvation.  Of course, the pizza graphic is for illustrative purposes only.  Neither Daniel nor I should be held responsible if, after seeing this graphic, every time someone thinks of the order of salvation and union with Christ, they immediately salivate like Pavlov’s dog and subsequently pound an entire pizza from Domino’s.  :-)

(Click Picture to view in high resolution)

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Vita Salutis (The Life of Salvation) – Infographic

Posted by Tim Melton on February 10, 2014

Ordo & Vita Salutis (w. trees)The “Ordo Salutis” is latin for “the order of salvation,” which refers to the logical sequence of conceptual steps involved in the salvation of the Christian.  (Romans 8:28-30, Ephesians 1:1-14)

The “Vita Salutis” is latin for “the life of salvation,” which refers to the vital or ‘living’ connection of each element of salvation to the Christian’s union with Christ.  For example, even though sanctification occurs after regeneration and justification, it is built on and receives power from a vital union with Christ. (John 15:1-11, Colossians 1:15-20, 2 Peter 1:3)

(Click Picture to view in high resolution) ______________________

Pastor Sammy Davies gives a great account of how the Ordo Salutis should relate to our Union with Christ.  He says, “(It may best) to understand the ordo as taking place within the union. It is almost as if union with Christ is introduced as a new stage in the ordo salutis, but is perhaps better thought of as, “the dominant motif in any formulation of the application of redemption and dominate feature of any “order” of salvation.” The ordo salutis takes place in union much like a fish resides within water.

Robert Letham expresses this understanding of union with Christ as “the foundation of all the blessings of salvation. Justification, sanctification, adoption and glorification are all received through our being united to Christ.”  Furthermore, “The whole process of the application of salvation to us by the Holy Sprit (what has been known as ordo salutis – the order of salvation) fits in here as part of what it means to be united with Jesus Christ.” Essentially union with Christ isn’t actualised (in the life of the believer) until the Holy Spirit works faith and repentance in a believer.  Perhaps one difficulty associated with this stance is a relegation of the distinctiveness of union. (One) must be very careful to not simply reduce union to a mere additional stage in the ordo, but (also) maintain it’s altogether different nature.”

Pastor Davies’ full article is found at:  http://saintbeagle.wordpress.com/papers/ordo-salutis-and-union-with-chirst/

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Waiting – SPC Worship

Posted by Tim Melton on January 19, 2014

Waiting_by_TfaseeLThis morning at SPCA, Chris Taylor and Avery Milz sang a song an original song for special music.  A powerful gospel lament!

Download Link: http://sacrosanctgospel.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/waiting-chris-avery.mp3

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Silent Night, Hallelujah to the King – w/ Becky Nissen

Posted by Tim Melton on December 30, 2013

Silent Night HallelujahBecky Nissen and I sang “Silent Night” at Surfside PCA the Sunday before Christmas 2013. I really didn’t sing it all that great.  Page CXVI does it much better. However, Becky did an excellent arrangement and she helped me out by singing harmony with me at the end.  At any rate, I really love the song ‘Silent Night.’  It is one of my favorite Christmas songs.  I have often heard it criticized for being theologically ‘light’.  But, I don’t feel that way.  I see the song as theologically focused.  The whole poem is slowly building up to the great proclamation at the end of the third verse – “Jesus, King at Thy Birth!”  This is an astounding statement.  It is saying that Christ needed no coronation. He need no validation from governments or dignitaries. He needed no crown or royal robe to indicate his worth. He validates himself with Himself.  He is the true King!  Even at his birth! Even while lying naked in a manger.  Hallelujah to the King!

Tim & Becky’s Version

Download Link: http://sacrosanctgospel.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/02-silent-night-hallelujah-1.mp3

Page CXVI version:

http://blog.pagecxvi.com/post/65445197287/get-the-first-listen-at-silent-night-on-our

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Hallelujah Christmas – SPC Worship

Posted by Tim Melton on December 22, 2013

Hallelujah ChristmasThis morning at SPCA, our worship team at Surfside PCA sang “Hallelujah Christmas.”  The musicians were: Chris Taylor, Avery Milz, Gabrielle Guthrie, Rebeca Kipp, Dave Riley, and Wes Lambert. It was so beautiful!  Enjoy!

Download Link: http://sacrosanctgospel.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/02-hallelujah-christmas.mp3

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The Emptiness of Dark Purposes

Posted by Tim Melton on November 18, 2013

People need purpose. We need meaning.  In order to give shape and direction to our lives, we need to have an aim, a goal, a direction.  However, the purposes that we often embrace are not all the same.  Some purposes might be self-giving, while other are self-absorbing.  They may be creative or destructive, nourishing or poisonous, full of light or full of darkness.  Unfortunately, many of us choose destructive paths.  We embrace a life that is fueled by anger, or greed, or jealousy, or revenge.  We cling to dark purposes.  In the movie, The Princess Bride, there is a character named Inigo Montoya.  When we meet him in the movie, we find him in a lifelong quest to take revenge on a “six fingered man” for murdering his father.  Though Inigo is one of the most comical characters in the story, he is also one of the most tragic.  When he finally gets his revenge at the end of the story, Inigo finds that his life is empty.  He says, “I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I do not know what to do with the rest of my life.”  This is how it is for all those who shape their lives around dark purposes.  Even when we are successful, we will find that the victory will be empty.  Our hearts will be shriveled and toxic.  Our lives will be lonely and dark.  In the end, we will wind up like Gollum in the Hobbit, whom Tolkien refers to as “a small, slimy creature.”

I don’t want to wind up like Gollum.  I don’t want to be consumed by dark purposes that rot my heart and eat up my life.  “Spirit of Christ, rescue me from my ‘dark purposes.’  Form me in the image of Christ.  Restore the joy of your Kingly rule over my life.  Along with all those who trust in You, restore my trust in the gospel that I might be creative, nourishing, and filled with the light of Christ fueled love.”

Posted in Gospel and Culture, Gospel Thoughts | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Callie Melton’s Gospel Story

Posted by Tim Melton on August 15, 2013

Callie, 2013The following is a recording of a testimony given by our daughter Callie to Surfside PCA’s Youth Group on August 15, 2013.

Posted in Devotional, Personal Stuff | Tagged: , , | 11 Comments »

Jesus loves the Little Children

Posted by Tim Melton on July 22, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 5.15.48 PMThis summer Christ has given me and my family the great privilege of being engaged in something that we really enjoy and still feel a great passion for: spending time and sharing the gospel with kids.  Earlier this year, Justin Woodall and I were asked to go to Elevate, our annual high school retreat that is held at Covenant College in Chattanooga, TN.  I jumped at the opportunity.  Even though I have been out of youth ministry for eight years now, I still very much love students and I have a passion for sharing the gospel with them.  When the week arrived, we had almost 40 students who were signed up for the conference.  Wow!  During the week I was overjoyed to see Christ at work in the lives of so many students and leaders as they responded to the gospel in powerful ways.  It was amazing!  A week after we returned from Elevate, my wife Martha Jo was privileged to go as a counselor to Kulaqua (pronounced: “Kuh-lah-kwah”), our annual middle school retreat in Florida.  From all reports, that was also an incredible retreat where the Spirit of Christ moved powerfully in the lives of middle school students.  Martha Jo was so encouraged!  Charlie and DJ Phillips, our Youth Director and his wife, along with our youth leaders, did a remarkable job preparing the students, parents, and our church for these two very special weeks.

So, let’s think about it for a moment.  What is the big deal about youth retreats anyway?

I have often thought about this question.  Why does God choose to use youth camps, retreats, and conferences in such special ways?  I can say, I honestly don’t know.  Yet, in the Biblical narrative, and throughout my ministry experience, the evidence is overwhelming that He does.  When I usually ask someone about their spiritual journey, time and time again, they emphasize a retreat or conference as the time when Christ chose to reveal the gospel to them in a way that brought them to a new life in Christ.

“It was at a Young Life camp in 1983, under the stars at Windy Gap, that I saw for the first time…”
“I was at a Campus Outreach Christmas conference when the Spirit of Christ opened my eyes to my sin and showed me the Cross…”
“I went with my youth group to a conference in Florida. That was when the gospel finally became real to me and…”

Throughout my ministry, I have heard these kinds of stories and have been part of these kinds of experiences over and over again.  In fact, my own narrative is shaped in the same way.  As a young child, I had heard the gospel from my mom.  I had heard it at church.  I knew the story.  I knew I was a sinner.  I knew Jesus died for my sin.  But, by and large, these truths had not found their way into my spiritual affections.  If you had asked me, “Do you believe in Jesus?”  I would have answered immediately, “Absolutely.”  If you had then asked me, “What does that mean to you?”  I would have shrugged.  Then, at nineteen years old, the church that I attended with my mom, asked me to go on a youth retreat.

A high school senior named Randy Key asked me, “Hey, will you go on this youth group retreat with us?”
I answered with a question, “Are your two sisters going?” (Randy’s two sisters were very pretty).
“Yeah”, he said.
“OK.  I’ll go”, I said.  And the rest is history

That winter January of 1983, at nineteen years old, I went on a church youth retreat because Randy Key’s two pretty sisters were going, and Jesus Christ powerfully and wonderfully preached the gospel to my heart and I was brought to new life in Christ.  Since that time, I have seen Christ do the same thing over and over and over again.  Many students who go on these retreats, like Randy, are already believers.  Yet, their faith is stirred, renewed, and strengthened during these special times.  New friendships are formed.  Leaders bond with students.  Parents are encouraged.  Churches are renewed.  Hearts are brought to life.  You simply cannot discount the power of God in these moments when, just like in the scriptures, Jesus takes His covenant little ones away to a mountain to pray for them.  When He gathers them around a sea and preaches the gospel to them in a profound way.  When He places His hands on those who are His by covenant union and He sings the gospel to them and He brings to life in them all the things that they have been hearing in their church, and from their parents, and from their youth leaders.  For some reason, that’s how Jesus went about ministry in the scriptures.  And He is still doing it that way today.

So, I thank Christ for the church that preaches the gospel year in and year out.  And I thank the Spirit of Christ for youth leaders who teach the gospel week in and week out.  And I thank the heavenly Father for parents who live out the gospel day in and day out.  I praise the Lord for His covenant people!  I praise Christ that He turns the hearts of fathers to children and the hearts of children to their fathers through the glorious gospel of Christ.

But I also thank God for special moments, for weekend retreats in the mountains, for week long trips to the sea, for tender moments of repentance in a garden of trees or beneath a blanket of stars.  I thank God for youth trips to Chattanooga and Florida, where Christ so often draws away with His little ones and preaches the gospel to their hearts as only He can.

“(Then) Jesus took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.”  – Luke 9:28
“One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. – Luke 5:1
“Then the little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them.” – Matthew 19:13
“He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” – Malachi 4:6

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Gospel Thought: Christianity is a Relationship!

Posted by Tim Melton on February 19, 2013

When I was a younger Christian and Student Minister, I would often emphasize to my students over and over again that “Christianity is a relationship.”  Strangely, that was not always a popular thing to say.  In fact, I was often criticized by older pastors who warned me against saying such a thing because it was pietistic, mystical, and based on emotion rather than the firm foundation of scripture.  This always confused me.  Everything I read in scripture seemed to say the same thing.  In fact, the gospel of John seems to bleed that truth out in every single word.

  • “The Word became flesh and dwelt among you.”
  • “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”
  • “(I pray) that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us.”
  • “For God so loved the world, that He gave us His only Son…”

Certainly, I could go on and on, citing one scripture passage after another that pounds this reality home – “Christianity is a relationship!”  The Bible is absolutely bulging with this truth.  Yet, I wonder what makes Christians so afraid of this idea.  Could it be the idol of control?  Could it be that it requires daily reliance?  Maybe, just as I mentioned earlier, we legitimately fear that emphasizing this idea would indeed cause Christians to stray from God’s Word and become “overly pietistic, mystical, and emotional?”  I know that could surely happen.  But should we allow our idolatry and fears to shape our theology?  Should the fences that we build to keep out bad theology be so thick and armored that they also keep out good theology?   No.  That’s not the way.  If we are going to build our theology on the firm foundation of Scripture, then we have to listen to what the Bible says.  And it says clearly and loudly – Christianity is a glorious relationship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

I Corinthians 1:30 says, “It is because of Christ that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, our holiness and our redemption.”   Notice here that Christ doesn’t simply give us wisdom.  Christ is our Wisdom.  Christ doesn’t simply give us righteousness. He is our Righteousness.  He is our Holiness.  He is our Redemption.  Christ Himself is our Greatest Gift!

Colossians 1:27 really brings this reality home: “Christ in you, and this is our hope of glory.”

Let me offer an illustration to help you get a fuller picture of what I’m trying to say.  My friend and co-assistant pastor at Surfside Presbyterian, Justin Woodall, is a really intelligent guy.  He has loads of books in his office library.  I mean “loads” of books!  Now, sometimes people ask me, “Tim, why don’t you have as many books in your office library as Justin has in his?”  I usually answer, “Well that’s simple.  It’s true that Justin has more books.  But you know, I have Justin.  Why do I need more books, when I have Justin right across the hall?”  Now, this certainly doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t read and study for myself.  Certainly I should.  But, at the end of the day, I have a guy who is much smarter than me right across the hall to help me understand what I read and study, and quite frankly, he reads books that I would never even pick up.  They’re just too thick!  Now, in similar fashion, yet in far greater measure, just as I have Justin right across the hall, we Christians all have Christ.  We have the Spirit of God dwelling inside of us! Isn’t that fantastic! We have an incredibly intimate relationship with the most wise, loving, beautiful, glorious, powerful, and gracious person in the universe!

So then, when we need wisdom, we need to remember that we have Christ.  Christ is our Wisdom.  He doesn’t simply give us “wisdom” as a possession.  He gives us Himself!  Christian, think about what a great gift we have in Jesus.  He is closer than our closest friend.  He can hear our every whisper.  He knows our every pain.  He listens to our faintest cry.  He is not just right beside us.  He is in us.  And we are in Him!  So then, we don’t need wisdom, or righteousness, or holiness, or redemption, or anything else apart from Christ.  Instead, we need Christ to be our Wisdom, to be our Righteousness, to be our Holiness, and to be our Redemption.  Christ is our Salvation.  Indeed, our hope and our glory is that we have a relationship with the King of all Creation.  Rest today in that wonderful truth.

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
On Christ the solid Rock I stand
all other ground is sinking sand
all other ground is sinking sand

Posted in Gospel Thoughts | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Valley of Vision Redux – “God’s Good Pleasure” – pg. 222

Posted by Tim Melton on December 10, 2012

God’s Good Pleasure, Valley of Vision, p. 222

O Sovereign Lord,
Your Will is supreme in heaven and earth,
All things are orchestrated by your hands
All beings are created by just the whisper of your voice.
You are the author of our lives;
Your instruction gives us understanding,
Your providence governs our steps.

O Loving God,
We are sinners in your sight;
You have made this clear to us and if we deny it we make you out to be a liar.
Yet in Christ You have graciously reconciled yourself to your rebellious people;
You love us despite our lack of love
You care for us despite our lack of care
You lead us to flourish despite our desire to cast ourselves into ruin.

O Gracious God,
We are wretched and unable to change our steps toward destruction.
Give us the ears of faith to hear Christ,
Give us the eyes of faith to see Christ,
Give us the appetite of faith to feed on Christ;
That we might find in him music, light, nourishment, and all other graces that produce eternal joy.

You are the inviting one – – – may we listen to you;
You are the almighty instructor – – – teach us to live to you;
You are the light-dweller – – – inaccessible to man and angels,

Hiding Yourself behind the elements of creation,
But known to us in Jesus.
Possess our minds with the grandeur of Your perfections.

Your Love to us in Jesus is firm and changeless,
Nothing can separate us from it,
And in the enjoyment of it nothing can make us miserable.

Our Hearts are Prone to:

Evil,
vanity,
forwardness,
insensibility,
disorderly affection,
and backwardness to duty,

So then,
Preserve us from hypocrisy and dead formality in our worship;
Enable us to remember what you are what we are,
Enable us to recall your holiness and our unworthiness;
Help us to approach you, clothed with humility,
Let us never forget your patience, wisdom, power, faithfulness, care,
And never let us cease to respond to Your gospel invitations.

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Valley of Vision Redux – “The Grace of the Cross” – pg. 172

Posted by Tim Melton on December 3, 2012

The Grace of The Cross

O my Jesus, I thank You from the depths of my being
For Your wondrous grace and love
In bearing my sin in Your own body on the tree.

May Your cross be to me

  • As the tree that sweetens my bitter Marahs [1],
  • As the rod that blossoms with life and beauty [2],
  • As the brazen serpent that calls forth the look of faith [3].

By your cross crucify my every sin;

  • Use it to increase my intimacy with Your self;
  • Make it the ground of all my comfort,
  • The liveliness of all my duties,
  • The sum of all Your gospel promises,
  • the comfort of all my afflictions,
  • the vigor of all my love, thankfulness, and graces,
  • the very essence of all my worship;
  • And by it give me the quiet rest of ceaseless praise.

O my Lord and Savior,
You have also appointed a cross for me to take up and carry,
You give me a cross before You give me a crown.
You have appointed my cross to be my portion,
but

My Self-love hates it,
My Carnal reason is unreconciled to it;
Without the grace of patience
I cannot bear it, Walk with it, Or profit by it.

O blessed cross, what awesome mercies You bring with You!
You are only esteemed as hateful by my rebel will,
And only heavy because I look to myself instead of Christ.

Teach me, gracious Lord and Savior,
That with the cross you have appointed for me, You also send me promised grace

So please help me to bear it patiently, knowing…

  • That my cross is Your yoke,
  • That my burden is Your call,
  • That my pain is Your sanctifying fingers, shaping me for glory.

So, please help me dearest Christ, to believe…

  • That Your yoke is my delight
  • That Your call is my divine satisfaction, and
  • That Your sanctifying grip is leading me to ultimate joy in Your presence and eternal pleasures at your right hand [4]

[1] Marah – means “bitter water” in Hebrew
[2] Numbers 17:1-12
[3] Numbers 21:4-9
[4] Matthew 11:28-30, Psalm 16:11

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