Jim Shrimplin

Prayer by Timothy Keller Introduction

The last couple of weeks I have been reading a great book on prayer. Timothy Keller’s Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God is one of the best books I have read, well, listened too. I drive a lot and one of the things that I do while driving is I listen to audio books. That is how I first consumed Keller’s book. It was so good that I ordered a physical copy and I am in the process of re-reading it. I am also in the process of teaching from it in our prayer services at the church I serve. I want to give you a little review of the introduction of his book plus add some of my own thoughts. Well here it goes.

In the introduction, Keller introduces two types of prayer; communion prayer and kingdom prayer. Communion prayers are the types of prayer that brings the believer into God’s presence. These prayers do exactly what the name implies. They provide you communion with God. The follower of Christ senses God presence in their spirit. Unfortunately, Keller tells the reader that most Christians struggle with sensing God presence. The man or woman of God goes to prayer and rarely feels like the are communing with God.

This is one place that I agree and disagree with Keller all at the same time. There are a lot of Christians that never sense God while praying, but on the other hand their are a multitude that do. If you look into church history, you would find that there are two paths that church and individuals took theologically. One side we call head knowledge and the other we will call heart knowledge. What are these two patches you ask?

Well, the head knowledge path of church history refer to those that emphasized knowledge about God over and above experiencing God. Of course, some of the great theologians have come from this camp. People like John Calvin who wrote a tomb entitled, “Institutes of the Christian Religion” and Martin Luther who started the Reformation. They knew God for sure but it was through the mind more than the heart.

There are plenty of people and denominations that come out of these traditions. In fact, Keller himself comes out of one those denominations, Presbyterian Church U.S.A. He quotes Donald Bloesch, former professor at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa and is the school from which I received my Master of Divinity degree. UDTS is a PCUSA seminary and is a sister seminary to Harvard also a PCUSA affiliated school. Therefore, I could see why Keller would lean the direction that he does.

On the other side of the coin are Christians that emphasize the heart knowledge. What is interesting is that UDTS also have a United Methodist program and United Methodist would fallen into the heart knowledge category. In this heart knowledge path, Christians put more of an emphasis on knowing God through the Spirit. Theology in this camp is still important but they don’t forget about the Spirit speaking to their spirit.

In fact, tracing the movement from John Wesley today you would find a connection between Wesley, the Holiness Movement and the Pentecostal movement. If you looked at the denominations who consider Wesley their founder and Pentecostal movements like the Assemblies of God, you would think there is no way they could have common roots but they do.

I have only touched on one concept that Keller writes about in the introduction. I would recommend that you buy the book to read or the audible book and listen to Keller’s book. It is filled with great information.

If you are thinking about purchasing Keller’s book or Calvin’s book, please consider using the links below or the links in the post. If you do, you would be supporting this website and the cost of operating it. Thanks in advance.

Jim Shrimplin

Your Past Is Not Your Prison

America has a trend running through it’s veins. It seems that everyone is looking to play the victim. Here is how it happens. You wake up one morning and you realize that your life is all messed up. Nothing is going the way that you planned. You don’t own a house. You don’t have a white picket fence. You don’t have two kids, one boy and one girl. You don’t have a successful career. Everything that could go wrong seems to be going wrong. You wonder how you got into this mess so you begin to reflect on your past.

You don’t have a house because your parents never taught you how to handle your finances. You don’t have a picket fence because someone told you the American Dream is dead. You don’t have have two kids, one boy and one girl because when you were 14 someone called you ugly. You don’t have a successful career because a high school counselor suggested that you major in underwater basket weaving in college. You have decided your position or lack of position is not because what you did but what someone else has done to you. You are a victim. Your past is defining you. Your past is your prison keeping you doing what God called you to do.

Prison is not the place for victims. No, prison is the place for those guilty of a crime but your past has put in prison. You can’t move forward in life because your past screams, “You can’t do that!” You don’t have the talent. You don’t have the this or you don’t have that. You can’t move because the prison cell of your past is holding captive, but your past was never to be used in this way.

How is your past to be used in your life? First, your past does not have your be your prison. Your past was meant to be your testimony. When life says, you are failure! You don’t own a house.” You respond, “I may not have a home in this life but God has a mansion for me just over the hill top. You don’t have picket fence. You don’t have the American Dream. You respond, “No I don’t have a picket fence and I don’t have the American Dream but I have a God given dream. I know that God is going to do something great in my life. When life says, “You can’t do that for God.” You respond, “Yes, I can because I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.”

When God is in control of your life, your past is not your prison. It is your testimony. You past is not to keep you from doing things for God. Your past is the key to unlocking someone else’s future. Your past, your testimony is someone else’s inspiration to follow Christ. Your past is to show people what God can do in their lives if they will let him. The problem becomes that we want to use our past as our prison to explain our future failures.

Today, I want to encourage you to not be a prisoner to your past. Give your past to God. Watch God heal your past. Watch God work out the bad things in your past and change them into God things. Watch God turn your life around. Then tell others what God has done for you then you will be able to watch God use your past to change someone else’s future. Don’t be the victim! Be the victor in Jesus’ Name!

Jim Shrimplin

Where do you keep the Word of God?

The second place that some people keep the Word of God is in their minds. What does that look like you ask? Good questions. Keeping the Word of God in the mind comes in two forms. The first form can be found in a person that knows what the Bible says but does not believe it.

A classic example, a person who studies the Bible not to know God but to come up with ways to convince Christians the Bible is wrong. They come up with apparent contradictions in the Bible show them to their Christian friend and say, “See the Bible is not trust worthy.” Unfortunately, the arguments can be pervasive to those that are not familiar with Scripture.

As Christians having the Word of God in our heads is a better thing than it collecting dust on a coffee table. The Word of God in our head only allows us to know things about the Bible like: Who are the characters are, the time period of the story, the location the story take place, the genre of the passage, who the human author of the story, etc. A person with the God’s Word in their heads maybe able to quote long passages, but never experienced the God contained in the Scriptures.

Jim Shrimplin

Where do you keep the Word of God?

In my library, I have lot of books. The other day someone came into my office and asked, “Have you read all those books?” I gave him a long answer of how some are reference works so you don’t sit down and it them cover to cover. But you, I will give you the short answer, “No.”. I have not read all the books in my library. I have not even read all the books that I should have read cover to cover. I have a place for my books called a bookshelf.

Most of my books set on the bookshelf year after year and never get touch let alone read. They might make me look smart but really setting on the bookshelf they don’t me any good. Unfortunately, that is where most people keep the Bible. They keep it on the bookshelf. It rarely gets read and it is never understood. The Word of God does this person no good.

There is another way we can keep the Word of God on the bookshelves of our lives. How? When we read it and then walk away from it. We go to church hear the preaching of God’s Word and then go out to eat like we were never there. We just go through the motions of church, but come Monday morning we are the same person we were on Saturday night. No transformation. No Change and the sad part is there are lot a people that thinks this is okay. I hope and pray that this is not you or me.

Jim Shrimplin

Lessons From The Booth

“Check!  Check!  Is this thing on?”
I believe that one of the most important ministries in the church is often overlooked and forgotten about… until someone can’t be heard.  I have been doing church sound off and on for 25 years.  I started at my home church in Lawrence, Kansas.  It was my introduction to ministry and I loved it.  I have spent countless hours in church sound.  I am not a professional sound engineer but I have learned a few things over the years and I wanted to share then with you.  Hopefully, you will come to appreciate the person “running sound” at your church.

The sound booth can be a lonely place especially when the speakers are feeding back that high pitch whistle that everyone hates.  One thing that every church sound person can be assured of when the sound invades the room is that every head will turn and look toward the booth.  Here are some things that that sound operator wants you to know in that moment.

  1. I am a volunteer so please cut me some slack.  I am working as hard as I can to get the problem fixed.
  2. It is taking me a long time to get the problem fixed because I am not well trained.  I am 14, 15, 16 years old and this is my first taste of ministry.  Everyone thinks that because I am young I understand technology.  While I am good with my smartphone and tablet, I have never really worked with this kind of thing before.  As far as training goes, I sat next to “Bob” for one service and he “showed” me how everything works.  The problem is Bob is a good guy and the services he runs the board in sound great but he is a terrible teacher; for me at least.  He went to fast.  He did everything himself.  I never even got to touch the soundboard and now I am on the schedule for the next 16 Sundays in a row.
  3. Everyone wants the sound in the church set just for them.  They will come up to you, or even worse they will tell someone else while you are within earshot, that they could not hear.  They say, “Hi Jim.  I am so glad you are doing sound but I could hear today.  Next week could you please turn it up a little bit?”  What they don’t know is that 30 people have already talked to you and said, “Hi Jim.  I am so glad that you are going sound but it was too loud today.  Next week could you please turn it down?”  Now, who do you listen too?
  4. A lot of “performers” have no idea how microphones work.  The classic example is the person that has the mic too far from their mouth.  What does the tech do? Right, they turn up the volume.  How does the “performer” respond?  Right again!  They pull the mic farther from their mouth which causes the tech to again turn them up even more.  The tech and the perform play this game until either the sound echoes or “performer’s” arm becomes too short so they bring back to where they started and blasts everyone out of the church and the game begins again.
  5. We spent $XXXXX 5 years ago, how come this piece of equipment doesn’t work?  While I know it is frustrating to spend a pile of money on new equipment and things not work properly, the problem is Audio/Visual equipment is constantly needing to be tweaked in some form or fashion. When you add that with #2, there are times that the equipment is not the problem.  It is the fact that the tech running it does not know enough to run it well.  Not only that some sound equipment is delicate.  You put a “hot” amp in a cabinet with poor ventilation it is not going to last as long as an amp that is properly ventilated.
  6. Do we really need that?  Again I understand that churches have tight budgets and that piece of equipment or repair might not be “doable.”  For this reason, I would advise that churches budget for A/V repairs and replacement.  The attitude of “if it not broken don’t budget for it” will cost you more in the long run.  If you budget for A/V equipment over time, when the time comes to purchase the equipment you can afford the better stuff.  You won’t have to get the budget equipment that will need to be replaced sooner rather than later.
  7. Why did you put it there?  There are so many churches that have balconies and that is almost always where the A/V equipment goes.  While the A/V equipment is out of the way, the problem is that the sound tech does not hear what the congregation hears.  I would recommend if at all possible put your A/V equipment on the same level as the majority of your congregation sits.  This will cause the A/V tech to see and hear the same things that your congregation sees and hears.  In turn, this allows the tech to make adjustments that are actually a benefit to the overall enjoyment of the experience.
  8. It can be a thankless job.  The Sunday service went perfect; not a problem or mistake.  The pastor shakes hands at the door as everyone files out. People are telling the minister that the service was great and that they did a great job.  Where is the A/V tech?  They are collecting mics to take back the sound booth, putting rechargeable batteries back in their chargers for next week and other after service things that need to be done.  While they are not on the sound team for the praise, you know how many people come up to them and say, “Great job up their today?”  Right again. no one.  But you let there be one A/V mistake and a line will form, not to shake the tech’s hand but to ask, “What went wrong?” at best or at worst “chew you out” for not doing your job.
  9. Not enough people!  Have you ever looked back at the tech and wondered why the same person does it every week?  The reason is simple.  No one else wants to do it which can lead back to number two above.  The pastor asks for volunteers but no one comes forward.  The tech wonders how they ever got “conned” into this job.
  10. Finally, number 10?  What do you think 10 should be?  Leave a comment and tell us your Number 10!