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Posts Tagged ‘john piper’

This week: more grace than sin, dealing with mistreatment, the true testing ground for a wife, and glorifying God at work.

Jesus: More Full of Grace Than I of Sin (by Justin Taylor)

O Jesus, full of truth and grace

More full of grace than I of sin
Yet once again I seek Thy face:
Open Thine arms and take me in
And freely my backslidings heal
And love the faithless sinner still.

– Charles Wesley

When Others Mistreat You (by Nathan Busenitz, the Cripplegate)

For the truth is, if you are wronged by other men, you have the better of it, for it is better to bear wrong than to do wrong a great deal. If they wrong you, you are in a better condition than they, because it is better to bear, than to do wrong.

A Wife’s Testing Ground (by Jen Smidt, The Resurgence)

If our value is tied to his purity, we will be devastated. If our security is grounded in his job title, we will be shaken. If our faith rides the coattails of his, we will find ourselves drowning in unbelief.

If our husband is our rock, we may be crushed by him.

How to Glorify God at Work (by John Piper, Desiring God)

Go to work utterly dependent on God (Proverbs 3:5-6; John 15:5). Without him you can’t breathe, move, think, feel, or talk. Not to mention be spiritually influential. Get up in the morning and let God know your desperation for him. Pray for help.

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Finally getting around to April’s Tabletalk magazine, there was an article by John Piper which discussing anger and means to crushing it. I found it very convicting but helpful. I can struggle with letting the desire for ease, comfort, and respect lead to anger when my children are not making my life any easier or don’t seem to be tracking with my intent for them. I definitely have seen God’s work in this area of my life over the past 2-3 years but I still have a long way to go. Piper gives 9 things to ponder when struggling with anger:

First, ponder the rights of Christ to be angry, but then how He endured the cross, as an example of long-suffering (1 Peter 2:21).

Second, ponder how much you have been forgiven and how much mercy you have been shown. (Eph. 4:32)

Third, ponder your own sinfulness and take the beam out of your own eye:  (Matt. 7:3–5).

Fourth, think about how you do not want to give place to the Devil, because harbored anger is the one thing the Bible explicitly says opens a door and invites him in:  (Eph. 4:26–27).

Fifth, ponder the folly of your own self-immolation, that is, numerous detrimental effects of anger to the one who is angry — some spiritual, some mental, some physical, and some relational: (Prov. 3:7–8)

Sixth, confess your sin of anger to some trusted friend, as well as to the offender, if possible. (James 5:16).

Seventh, let your anger be the key to unlock the dungeons of pride and self-pity in your heart and replace them with love: (1 Cor. 13:4–7).

Eighth, remember that God is going to work it all for your good as you trust in His future grace. Your offender is even doing you good, if you will respond with love: (Rom. 8:28) (James 1:2–4).

Ninth, remember that God will vindicate your just cause and settle all accounts better than you could. Either your offender will pay in hell or Christ has paid for him. Your payback would be double jeopardy or an offence to the cross: (Rom. 12:19) (1 Peter 2:23).

Read the entire article here. Also check out these worthwhile articles from April’s issue as well:

The Victory Parade We Don’t Deserve by R.C. Sproul Jr.

He explained to Joshua this most fundamental truth: “The question, Joshua, is not whether or not I am on your side or theirs. The question is whether or not you are on My side.”

Young Women, Idolatry & the Powerful Gospel by Elyse Fitzpatrick

The antidote to idolatrous worship isn’t found in rules prohibiting idolatry. Rules don’t dazzle and captivate. They can’t generate worship. They’re not powerful enough to transform.

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This week: Chris Paul and forgiveness, Lost, a Christian view of work and management from Ephesians 6, and John Piper on the death of Osama Bin Laden.

Chris Paul

The lessons of Nathaniel Jones (by Rick Reilly)

It’s something Paul told me during a "Homecoming" episode once on ESPN, and every time I watch him play I can’t get it out of my mind. Paul, now 25, said: "These guys were 14 and 15 years old [at the time], with a lot of life ahead of them. I wish I could talk to them and tell them, ‘I forgive you. Honestly.’ I hate to know that they’re going to be in jail for such a long time. I hate it."

A Christian View of Management in Ephesians 6:5-9 (by Matt Perman)

One thing I’ve noticed about most Christian teaching on work is that it is pretty thin. It essentially boils down to “work hard” and “be honest.” Those are very important things. But, to be frank, they aren’t very interesting. And, they don’t give guidance to the wide range of issues that the modern worker truly has to deal with.

Lost is Found (The Curator)

And when that journey is complete, when one is purified of weakness and learns to empty themselves, we arrive at love, just as in Season 6 all the characters arrive at this place they longed for—of love and community.  And that is what really made this show for me.  I know some people complained that not all the questions about the Island’s mysteries were answered.  In some ways I couldn’t care less. 

Is God Glad Osama Bin Laden’s Dead? (by John Piper)

In response to Osama bin Laden’s death, quite a few tweets and blogs have cited the biblical truth that “God does not delight in the death of the wicked.” That is true.
It is also true that God does delight in the death of the wicked. There are things about every death that God approves in themselves and things about every death that God disapproves in themselves.

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I usually share out encouraging and worthwhile reads that I find during the week over Twitter or Google Reader. However, I thought it might be helpful to weed through those a bit and share my favorites of the week. This week: Piper on Jesus as mediator, Douthat on the abortion paradox of our culture, Baxter on fighting sin, Keller on Christians and culture, and Wilson on technology.

Don’t Make Jesus More of a Mediator Than He is (by John Piper)

This is astonishing. Jesus is warning us not to think of God Almighty as unwilling to receive us directly into his presence. By “directly” I mean what Jesus meant when he said, “I am not going to take your requests to God for you. You may take them directly. He loves you. He wants you to come. He is not angry at you.”

The Unborn Paradox (by Ross Douthat, NY Times)

This is the paradox of America’s unborn. No life is so desperately sought after, so hungrily desired, so carefully nurtured. And yet no life is so legally unprotected, and so frequently destroyed.

Directions for Hating Sin (by Richard Baxter)

Think well what pure and sweet delights a holy soul may enjoy from God, in his holy service; and then you will see what sin is, which robs him of these delights, and prefers fleshly lusts before them.

Work and Cultural Renewal (by Tim Keller)

The most powerful way to show people the truth of Christianity is to serve the common good. The monks in the Middle Ages moved out through pagan Europe, inventing and establishing academies, universities, and hospitals. They transformed local economies and cared for the weak through these new institutions. They didn’t set out to ‘get control’ of a pagan culture. They let the gospel change how they did their work and that meant they worked for others rather than for themselves. Christians today should be aiming for the same thing.

Calvinism, Eschatology, and the New Media (by Douglas Wilson)

The constant and ever present temptation in the Church is the gnostic temptation of locating sin in the stuff, sin in the matter, sin in the wealth, sin in the technology . . . instead of locating it where it belongs, in the heart of man.

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Depression is a very common struggle, even in the church in America. You might call that merely a blanket statement, but in my experience I’ve seen a number of brothers deal with deep discouragement and even more wives of husbands I know. I’ve seen my own wife struggle with the fog of deep discouragement and borderline depression. Personally, I’ve never battled it; I’m more of a thinker and less of a feeler. On top of that, a major weakness and sin in my life has been a lack of empathy for others. For most of my marriage, I feel like I have not been hugely helpful to my wife! I want to grow and God has been working on my heart, using my marriage, my kids, and a slowly growing understanding of the gospel. Countless times I have had to confess my lack of love and there are likely many more times my family has simply given me grace for my coldness and lack of compassion.

Out of my desire to learn and keep growing, I read through John Piper’s When the Darkness Does Not Lift. It’s a worthwhile read with an excellent closing chapter. However, in the book, Piper kept referencing another book, The Cure of Melancholy by Richard Baxter. I looked it up on my Kindle and bought and downloaded it for 99 cents! It didn’t take long for me to realize what a jewel this book is and what wisdom Baxter has for us even 400 years later! Baxter’s book on dealing with depression (melancholy) and discouragement is tremendously insightful, practical, and revealed that depression is not a new struggle. He lists a number of tips for those walking through depression:

1. Listen to folks wiser than yourself and believe them!

2. Trust that God is sovereign even over the purposes of Satan.

3. Avoid prolonged times of thinking and prayer alone! (see quote below)

4. Do not spend much time alone! (see quote below)

Avoid your musings, and exercise not your thoughts now too deeply, nor too much. Long meditation is a duty to some, but not to you, no more than it is a man’s duty to go to church that hath his leg broken, or his foot out of joint: he must rest and ease it till it be set again, and strengthened. You may live in the faith and fear of God, without setting yourself to deep, disturbing thoughts. Those that will not obey this counsel, their friends must rouse them from their musings, and call them off to something else. Therefore you must not be much alone, but always in some pleasing, cheerful company: solitariness doth but cherish musings. Nor must such be long in secret prayer, but more in public prayer with others.

5. As much as you can, think on these things:

  • The infinite goodness of God
  • Christ’s immeasurable love for you and how that love is demonstrated in His redemption and sacrifice
  • God’s offer of grace and free covenant
  • The awesome love and joy which we have in Christ and God has promised.

Do not be given over to complaining but talk of these things. Be honest but run to the gospel in conversations.

6. When you pray, resolve to spend much of that time in thanksgiving and praising God!

7. Do not entertain the thoughts and lies and temptations of Satan nor be troubled by them. Ask for help from trusted friends when losing the battle against these thoughts!

8. Be encouraged that you are even wrestling with sin and the weight of it. This reflects the heart of a believer, not an unbeliever outside of His love. Baxter says this:

Again, still remember what a comfortable evidence you carry about with you that your sin is not damning, while you feel that you love it not, but hate it, and are weary of it. Scarce any sort of sinners have so little pleasure in their sins as the melancholy, nor so little desire to keep them; and only beloved sins undo men.

9. Avoid idleness but seek to work hard. Baxter is not saying to avoid rest or downtime altogether but that idleness is dangerous.

One more immensely practical thought from Baxter for the depressed:

I would give you this advice, that instead of long meditation, or long secret prayer, you will sing a psalm of praise to God, such as the twenty-third, or the one hundred and thirty-third. This will excite your spirit to that sort of holy affection which is much more acceptable to God, and suitable to the hopes of a believer, that your repining troubles are.

I highly recommend this short read and thank God for Richard Baxter, who is known for having been a very practical and a powerful preacher of the gospel in the early 1600s. I want to leave a final sobering thought for those of us whom the fog of depression rarely if ever invades. If you are reading this and struggling with depression, please stop reading, this last note is not for you! Most of us are not dealing with the deep fog that depression can be. Most of us, like me, are dealing with discouragement or discontentment from something else…

The more pleasure you have in sin, usually the more sorrow it will bring you; and the more you know it to be sin, and conscience tells you that God is against it, and yet you will go on, and bear down conscience, the sharper will conscience afterwards afflict you,

Sin does not bring me joy but pain and death. It may bring temporary pleasure, but it won’t last. Much of my wrestling with discouragement is my own battle to let go of sin and cling to greater joy in Christ. In my next post, I’ll delve more into Baxter’s thoughts on how to help others who are wrestling with depression or deep discouragement.

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This past weekend I was privileged to attend the Desiring God National Conference for the 3rd consecutive year. It’s become a bit of a tradition for myself and a few close brothers from our church and this year we were able to bring our wives! The title for this year’s conference was “Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God.” It was another great conference and a humbling, stirring experience of preaching and fellowship. I’m not going to talk about the every message here but only the ones that genuinely pierced my heart. This is not to say that the others were not worth listening to!

The Friday Seminars

On Friday, I was able to make it to Matt Perman’s seminar on productivity and the Gospel as well as Nate Wilson’s seminar about story and the Cross. Matt shared some helpful thoughts about the nature of “good works” and what we’re really after when we talk about productivity. I could tell he had more to say but didn’t have enough time but it simply makes me more pumped for him to finish and release his book!

Nate Wilson gave one of my favorite and most personally impacting talks of the conference. He talked about story and fantasy, how we’re just nuts to look at this world and think we don’t live in a crazy fantasy world. This was a very engaging message. He hammered on how we need to understand the wonder of this world and how we are all involved in the story created and narrated by our Heavenly Father. The main point was that God created everything “ex nihilo,” meaning “from nothing” and that He continues to hold up the world by his own word. We can choose to respond to situations by trusting that our Father is in control or we can choose to be like Job’s wife and curse God and die. He then tied the theme of fantasy and story to Jesus coming as a man to be like us to die and rescue us. I won’t soon forgot Nate’s thoughts.

Unfortunately, these talks were not able to be recorded! However, 3 of the other seminars (recorded in the main auditorium), given by Tulian Tchividjian, Kevin DeYoung, and Randy Alcorn, should be available soon. There was also a Q&A with all of the seminar speakers to close the afternoon that ended up being more of a discussion about writing. It was very encouraging for me to hear these men talk about why they write and how they worked at writing and how reading plays into being a good writer. This Q&A session should also be available soon.

UPDATE: The seminar sessions given by Alcorn, Tchividjian, and DeYoung are now up at Desiring God. Sadly, no sign of the Friday Q&A (see below) yet.

Friday Q&A with DeYoung, Parsons, Tchividjian, and Piper

In this panel, the speakers/guests discussed their initial reactions to Rick Warren’s address and then began to dig into something that, for us, became an underlying theme of the conference. The theme is this: We can only be ourselves. Yes, we need to fight sin and seek to be growing in Christ-likeness but John Piper cannot be Rick Warren and Kevin DeYoung cannot be John Piper. We cannot be someone else nor should we be. The Gospel should free us to love Jesus and serve others as He made us to be. I cannot be someone else and can only emulate them so far. I can imitate their faith but I should not seek to emulate their exact strengths and habits even. I need to walk with Jesus, mortify sin, and then let Jesus free me to be myself and use my desires and my gifts, each given by the Holy Spirit, to glorify Him and bless others. Right now, I am reading about Hudson Taylor and reading books by Doug Wilson and Michael Emlet. I cannot be those men though I thoroughly respect their lives and what God is doing and has done through them. But I get discouraged thinking about how I can emulate Hudson Taylor or trying to think and communicate the way Wilson does. Nor does Jesus want me to be them. Jesus made me as I am and I need to be more and more yielded to the Holy Spirit to be exactly who I am so I can be the tool He made me to be. This is incredibly freeing!

Al Mohler: The Way the World Thinks

I have been reading Mohler’s blog for close to two years now and I was looking forward to hearing his thoughts on this topic in person. It was a very helpful message! The night before, a few of us were discussing the limits of the unregenerate/unsaved mind and the first half of the message was about exactly that. The fallen mind is not lacking knowledge but lacking the will. The real knowledge crisis is not about what we do not know but about what we WILL not know. Our intellect is not neutral but bent. Mohler’s demonstrated this by walking us through Romans 1. Our will does not allow our conscience to do what it was intended to do! We willfully suppress the truth.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:18-21 ESV)

Apart from the saving work of the Holy Spirit, we are rationally given over to sin. We cannot reason our way to the Cross but it is foolishness to us apart from His regenerating work in us. The reality is that this still taints us even as those follow Christ. Mohler talks about some of the remaing effects of this on our minds: ignorance, distractedness, forgetfulness, miscommunication, intellectual apathy, and more. To close the message, he talked about some specifics of how our culture thinks and then mentioned how teens in our own churches are showing themselves to moralistic therapeutic deists in their worldview! We need to pursue the Word of God, pursue life in the local church, and rely constantly on the Holy Spirit to conform our lives to Scripture. This was a great sermon, not to be passively listened to as it was intellectually challenging enough hearing it live.

Saturday Q&A with Anyabwile, Chan, Mohler, and Piper

The panel discussed the Gospel, learning from secular thought, how to handle being honored, and moving from anti-intellectualism to more of a balance. Again, though, the underlying theme, especially in how Chan interacted with the rest of the panel, was how we need to be ourselves in Christ. Francis Chan cannot be John Piper or Al Mohler or preach as deeply as Thabiti can. Francis Chan can be Francis Chan and Jesus can use Him as He is, through the Gospel, in the Spirit, plenty.

Francis Chan: Think Hard, Stay Humble

How should I describe this message? Love others? I cannot begin to do this message justice. Just watch it and be changed. I have not heard too many messages more gripping and stirring or more genuinely powerful than Chan’s message on Saturday night. He was humble and God blessed it and I was wrecked.

If you watch one message from this conference, you have to watch the one given by Francis Chan. As one brother stated after this conference, we’ll still be processing these messages and themes throughout the rest of this year. I look forward to rewatching each of these messages and trusting God to grow and change for His glory, to love Him more, and to love others much more deeply and consistently.

To watch or download all of the plenary sessions, click here.

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Below are 13 messages and sermons or series that have especially impacted me or stuck with me in some way. All of these are obviously worth listening to. I have honestly listened to many of these dozens of times just trying to let the truths and paradigm shifts in them just wash over me.

Let Your Passion Be Single from John Piper

God used this classic message back in 2003 to almost single-handedly redirect my life. Until I heard this message, I think I would have really struggled to communicate my Biblical worldview in a coherent manner and I’d always struggled with the place of joy versus duty. When I heard this, it was like a light bulb going on in my heart and I have been forever transformed by the key truth that Piper discusses: God is glorified most when I enjoy him above all and that joy is inherently tied to the glory of God.

The Meaning of Fatherhood and the Difference Dads Make (4 Messages) from Mark Darling

I heard Mark deliver these messages live at a fall retreat back in 2000. His communication of who God the Father truly is simply breaks me. Mark just spills out his heart in these messages and is incredibly vulnerable, you can’t help but be moved and stirred by God’s heart towards you in the Gospel.

Men of Whom the World was not Worthy (Biography Series) from John Piper

This whole series is worth listening to and a great introduction to many of these heroes of the faith. My favorites are the biographies of Simeon, Paton, and Judson.

The Freedom and Justice of God in Unconditional Election from John Piper

This is an incredible exposition of Romans 9 which was very helpful for me. He talks about why this is important to understand, why it’s a good thing, and how this truth should encourage us.

Grace Makes Wimps from Mitch Majeski

I think about this message often in how Mitch contrasts the grace of the Gospel up against the discipline and forcefulness of the Muslim faith of his friend. I cannot track this message down online though. If anyone can find it, comment below. He uses clips from “Les Miserables” but if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll understand.

Ruth: Sweet and Bitter Providence (4 Messages) from John Piper

This is just an excellent series about hope in the sovereignty of God. It’s especially helpful in seeing more than just the surface level of the book of Ruth.

Doing Missions When Dying is Gain from John Piper

This is another classic message from John Piper given at Wheaton College on the topic of missions. Be careful, you might be ready to just pack your bags after listening to Piper get fired up about us wasting our lives and what it may take to reach the nations.

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (2005 DG National Conference messages) from various speakers

Listen to every message from this conference, Steve Saint’s message is probably my favorite as he talks about his father, Nate Saint, and the impact of suffering on his life. Piper’s kick off message is very sobering and powerful.

The Gospel in You from Tim Keller

We understand that we’ve been forgiven, but do we understand that we’ve been justified? This is what Keller digs into in this message. What does it mean and imply that we have been given the righteousness of God? I was able to be at this sermon in person last summer (2009) at the Campus Crusade conference in Fort Collins.

Spiritual Art of Listening part 1 from Larry Crabb

This is another message from the Campus Crusade for Christ conference last summer. Don’t be deceived by the title, this message is all about the Gospel and grace, a very honest message from Crabb.

Predestination from Mark Driscoll

This message is much less technical than Piper’s message above. Listen to Piper’s message first and then this one to help clarify. Driscoll basically defends the doctrine of predestination and election and why it’s a good thing.

Humor from Mark Driscoll

This is probably becoming a classic from Driscoll. It will definitely make you laugh.

Preaching the Gospel to the De-Churched from Matt Chandler

This message is really Chandler walking through the life of the church of Ephesus and the lessons for us. Why did that church die? What is our life really about? Chandler pours out his passion in this one.

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