Brothers, We Are Not Professionals

Many people define pastoral leadership in terms of business liking the pastor to the CEO and the elders as the executive team.  Is this right to do so?  Yes and no but mainly no.  What do I mean?

Yes, there are certain similarities in a CEO and a pastor.  They lead the whole thing and are paid to do so.  Yes, there are certain similarities in elders and the lead executive committee in a fortune 500 company.  They lead alongside the CEO and pastor, and while the executives are paid to do so, elders are not usually.  The similarities end here, and to go further is to go into dangerous waters.

No, we should not make correlations between these parties at all.  Why?  As pastors, as elders, brothers we are not professionals.  Hear me say what I am saying here.  We are not to be the “professional Christians” among our churches, as if we are the only ones who are given the time and money to do our Christian living.  We are paid to pray, study, live godly lives, share the gospel at home and abroad, etc.  John Piper says this best in his devotional, “Brothers, We Are Not Professionals.”  Here is the main summary:

We are fools for Christ’s sake.  But professionals are wise.  We are weak.  But professionals are strong.  Professionals are held in honor.  We are in disrepute.  We do not try to secure a professional lifestyle, but we are ready to hunger and thirst and be ill-clad and homeless.  When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become the refuse of the world, the offscouring of all things.  Or have we?

CEO’s and their leadership teams rule and govern with much pride, we pastors and elders lead by serving.  How many CEO’s serve those around them?  I’m sure there are some who do, but it is not the norm.  Who showed us the difference here between these two types of leadership?  Jesus.  Remember He came “to serve and not to be served.”

Brothers, imitate your Lord.  We are not professionals.

15 Prayers for God’s Power

John Piper:

I love strength. I love the word “mighty,” as in “Mighty Woman of God,” and “Mighty Man of God.” I love to hear that “Moses was mighty in his words and deeds” (Acts7:22), and that Apollos was “mighty in the scriptures” (Acts 18:24).

I love it when Paul says, “Act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13), or, “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10), or, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1).

But make no mistake, the pursuit of this might is not the path to human power and pride. It is the path of ceaseless warfare with your own self. The greatest power in the world among human beings is the power not to sin. The power of holiness and love.

So if you are up for it, would you join me in these 15 prayers that you would be a mighty man of God or a mighty woman of God?

  1. Lord, make me so mighty in wisdom that I know and taste that the height of might is childlikeness (Matthew 18:4).
  2. Lord, make me so mighty in war that I defeat every impulse in my soul that destroys peace (Hebrews 12:14; Romans 14:19; Matthew 5:9).
  3. Lord, make me so mighty in my hardness against bitterness that tenderness of heart is not destroyed by wounds (Hosea 11:8; Ephesians4:32; 1 Peter 3:8).
  4. Lord, make me mightily unbending and inflexible in my Christ-exalting resolve to bend and become all things to all people that I might save some (1 Corinthians 9:22).
  5. Lord, make my trunk and branches so mightily tough and impervious to wind and drought that I never cease to bear the fruit of gentleness (Galatians 5:23; James 3:17; 1 Peter 3:4).
  6. Lord, make me so mighty in serpentine discernment that I see every opening for dove-like love (Matthew 10:16).
  7. Lord, make me so mightily unmoved by the sting and deceits of injustice against me that I may feel and show the miracle of undeserved compassion (Luke 10:23; 15:20; Hebrews 10:34; 1 Peter 3:8).
  8. Lord, make me so mightily unyielding to the enticements of selfishness that from my heart kindness forever flows (2 Corinthians 6:6; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:12).
  9. Lord, make me so mightily unresponsive to the honeyed lure of self-pity that I may have ever-replenished resources to return good for evil (Romans12:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 1 Peter 3:9).
  10. Lord, make me mighty with ruthless courage to cut off my hand at every trace of greed that I may be content with what I have (Philippians 4:11; 1 Timothy 6:8; Hebrews 13:5).
  11. Lord, make me mighty with happy thoughts of child and wife and King to tear out my eye lest I betray their trust and lose the purity that sees my God (Matthew 5:8).
  12. Lord, make me so mighty against the powers of self-justification that I never lose the humility to repent and weep for my sin (James 4:9; 5:16).
  13. Lord, make me so mighty in resisting the bait of frenzied productivity that I never cease to enjoy the still waters of prayer and your sweet presence (Psalm 23:2; Isaiah 46:10; Luke 10:42).
  14. Lord, make me so mighty against the deadly undertow of self-reliance that I am never ashamed to trust your arm, like a child with his father, in every breaking wave (Psalm 37:3, 5; Proverbs 3:5; Galatians 2:20).
  15. Lord, make me so mighty in seeing and mighty in savoring the promises of your sovereign grace that in all my sorrows I might never cease to sing your praise (Matthew 5:11-12; Acts 16:25; 2 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Peter 4:13).

Was Redemption Through Christ Plan B?

I wonder if this thought has ever come across your mind? ‘If God is God than He cannot be surprised by anything, and therefore the fall of man did not take Him off guard, but in some way because He is sovereign, and governs all things, He was behind it.”

Another way to ponder it is this: “Was redemption through Jesus Christ plan B, making it a consequence of the fall of man? Or, was redemption through Jesus Christ plan A, even before the fall of man?” If we say it was plan B, certain implications about God’s control over all things and ability to be surprised come into view, and if we say it was plan A, certain implications about God ordaining evil come into view. So was Adam plan A, and Jesus plan B? Or was Jesus plan A, before Adam existed? Which is it?

That is a loaded thought isn’t it? This question has been pondered over long and hard by many people ever since the dawn of time it seems. This is where I stand, and this is where I think you should stand as well.

In answering this question, we have two options:

Option 1: Satan caused the fall of man himself. If sin originated in the mind of Satan, that means Satan is the cause if the fall of man, not God. This is appealing to many people because they rightly do not want to attribute any evil to God’s character. But there are a few things why I would caution you not to hold this view. If Satan caused the fall and not God, then that means Satan did something out of God’s will or not in God’s control. We know that this is false for 2 reasons. First, it is revealed through Job that God has a leash on Satan, and that Satan cannot do anything unless God gives him permission (see Job 1-2, and Luke 22:31-32). Second, Romans 8:20 says, “He subjected the creation to frustration (futility), not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope.” Whoever brought sin, or frustration onto the world had an agenda of hope. That is clear. The question then becomes, who has the agenda of hope? The last thing Satan wants is hope, it is never his agenda. Hope is God’s agenda every time! Therefore we can conclude that God caused the fall of man, in hope! Do you see why this first option clearly portrays why Satan could not have been the author of the fall?

Option 2: God ordained sin. If God is sovereign, God ordained sin to come to pass. Nothing happens to which God responds, “oops” to. Many people do not like this however because they think that it automatically puts evil in the heart of the good God, but with Jonathan Edwards I confidently agree, “It is not sin in God to will that sin be.” How than did God ordain the fall of man, in hope? Although this is a hard thought to think on, I think we can get a hint at why God did it; listen to John Piper:

“The terrorized and troubled world exists to make a place for Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to suffer and die for our sins. The reason there is terror in the world is so that Christ could be terrorized, the reason there is trouble in the world is so that Christ could be troubled, the reason there is pain in the universe is so that Christ could feel pain. This is the world that God prepared for the suffering and death of His Son. Look at Romans 5:8, God shows His love for us, He wanted to show His loved for us, in that while we were yet sinners, there had to be sin, Christ died, there had to be death, for us. This world of suffering and death exists so that God could love like He could only love in this world.”

God does not permit anything to come to pass willy nilly, but permits everything with design and purpose. We have fallen in Adam, true. But in Genesis 3:15 God makes a promise to Satan that was in His mind before fall happened, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel.” This means that the victory we have over sin and the disease that the first Adam spread to all men was taken care of before the world was created. God for His purpose and for His glory, created a world, that would display His love to the greatest extent, through killing His Son, not because of anything in you, but because the praise of Jesus Christ is the goal of everything!

Now, some of you may be having trouble with this thought. But can you see that this is worth thinking through? The end of this study is increased delight in Jesus.

Egypt! Egypt! Have You Forgot?

A Poem from John Piper, stemming from his reflection on the current events playing out in Egypt.

Egypt! Egypt! A Meditation for Today on Isaiah 19:24–25

O Egypt, Egypt, do you not

Recall, dear friend, have you forgot

That twice you were the savior of My only Son — though not from love?

You fed him in the famine. Then You took him for a slave.  And when I rescued him, I made you know My name, my power, and how much woe Will fall on those who mock my Son.

And when he came again, the One That Herod would destroy, he fled once more to his dear friend who fed Him once before.

And there you hid and suckled him like Moses, ’mid the rushes and the riches of the regal court — though not from love.

Two years you gave him shield and bread until his enemies were dead and it was safe for him to make His way back home, and for your sake To die.

O Egypt, Egypt, will you now destroy his house, and kill His people, cut his seamless word to pieces, lest the truth be heard — The sweetest news that he, or I, could ever speak?

And so I cry Aloud again: O Egypt, Hear this tender word.  It is as near to you as hope.

Did not your own Isaiah tenderly make known My heart? O Listen, Egypt! “In that day, in spite of all your sin, together, you and Israel, and vast Assyria, will dwell As one — the kingdom of my Son —  and in that day, with joy, I’ll stun the world, and call you mine.

And you will be my people.

Yes, the true and happy bride of Christ, with all your meek and broken foes who call on his great name.

And in the end, you’ll know why I have called you friend.”

Should We Tell Children to Love Jesus?

John Piper:

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Spurgeon was concerned about the emphasis of telling children to love Jesus rather than trust Jesus. He expressed it like this:

Many [distort the doctrine of justification by faith] when addressing children, and I notice that they generally speak to little ones about loving Jesus, and not upon believing him. This must leave a mischievous impression upon youthful minds and take them off from the true way of peace. (Lectures to My Students, Vol. 2, 1889, p. 270)

It is a legitimate concern. Trust is more concretely demonstrable for children than love. A little child can be told to jump from the fourth step and daddy will catch him. “Trust me. I will catch you.” They can grasp that at two years old.

Similarly, a small child can grasp the application to Jesus: He will always be there to take care of you. In fact, he died once, to save and protect you. You will understand that more someday.

But what it means to love Jesus is not so easily demonstrable. Loving Jesus is more emotionally complex. It includes perceiving the qualities that make Jesus a beautiful and excellent person, worthy of our highest admiration. It involves treasuring Jesus for perfections that set him off from all others. This is not as easy for a child to grasp.

Love in the Trust

Emphasizing a child’s duty to love Jesus more than emphasizing the need to trust him may cause a distortion of love into a set of deeds. Children are wired to translate all perceived duties into deeds.

But that is not what love is. It is before and beneath deeds. When Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15), he meant that love precedes and enables obedience, not that love is obedience.

On the other hand, sooner or later, we will need to help our children realize that saving trust in Jesus has love for Jesus in it. And true love for Jesus has trust in Jesus in it.

Saving trust in Jesus banks on the truth that Christ died for us in order to make himself the eternal, all-satisfying treasure of our lives. The gospel is the “gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). He prayed for us: “Father . . . may they be with me where I am, to see my glory” (John 17:24).

Since the work of Jesus was done to give us himself to love forever, we cannot say we trust in him to do his work for us, while not treasuring the gift that he died to give — himself.

And loving Jesus always includes trusting Jesus to achieve all he said he would, because one of the things we love about him is his trustworthiness and his perfect mercy and justice shown best in the cross.

The Necessity of Love

So sooner or later we will introduce our children not only to the necessity of trusting Jesus (“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31), but of loving him.

We will discuss with them texts like this: “[People] are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. . . . [Those will be] condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9–12). We will show them that “loving the truth” is not just believing that it is so, but “having pleasure” in it. And that means in him — The Truth.

We will read to them with great seriousness the warning, “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed” (1 Corinthians 16:22). And we will show them the enemies of Jesus really didn’t have God as their Father. We know that because they didn’t love Jesus: “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me’” (John 8:42).

To Love As We Ought

But we will lavish on them the promises with great joy:

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” (1 Corinthians 8:3)

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him.” (Psalm 91:14)

“The Lᴏʀᴅ preserves all who love him.” (Psalm 145:20)

And we will sing and pray with our children the wonderful truth that “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Which means not only that he sent Christ while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), but that his love takes out of us the heart of stone and wakens love for him.

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart; Wean it from earth; through all its pulses move; Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art; And make me love Thee as I ought to love.

Is John Piper a Hypocrite?

Matt Smethurst:

Following his TGC13 Missions Conference plenary message, “The Heart of God in the Call to Proclaim: Our Goal: To Please Him” (2 Cor. 5:1-10), John Piper sat down with Mark Mellinger to discuss God’s missionary call on the church.

Are most American missionaries prepared for what awaits them? It depends, Piper suggests, largely on what kind of church they’ve been in and what kind of preaching they’ve heard about suffering. “If you’ve heard a pastor come to terms with suffering over and over again, and relate the sovereignty of God to it,” Piper says, “you’ll be so much better prepared than if suffering has always been seen as an intrusion into the God-intended life of comfort and ease.”

Mellinger also asks the former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church about his remark that the numbers of unreached, unengaged, and untargeted people groups are relatively small. “There are 98,000 evangelicals for every unengaged people group,” Piper explains. “If we have the will, this is doable.”

Nevertheless, the Devil is (quite literally) in the details. In fact, he’s a major reason “why churches find a thousand good things to do, yet don’t do this. Satan hates this mission more than anything.”

The conversation concludes with Piper sharing about his own “annual” wrestling with a calling to the field. When it comes to missions, he insists, pastors should be asking the same questions of their own lives and futures that they’re asking of their people. Otherwise, it’s all too easy to develop a hypocritical sense of exemption from the possibility God just might be calling them, too, to go.

God’s Missionary Call from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Piper’s Augustinian Tulip

John Piper makes a strong case that we need to get more of Augustine’s doctrine of “Sovereign Joy” in our reformed theology. Augustine defined grace as, “the free gift of sovereign joy in God that triumphs over and breaks the bondage of sin in our lives!”
Listen to Piper’s plea:

“We need to understand and make clear that Total Depravity is not just badness, it’s deadness to joy, blindness to beauty! We need to understand and make clear that Unconditional Election means that the completeness of our joy in Jesus was planned for us before the foundation of the world! We need to understand and make clear that Limited Atonement is the assurance that Christ’s infallable work on the cross will secure joy for us infallably, forever! We need to understand and make clear that Irresistible Grace, is committment, and power, and love, that God has towards us so that we will not stay in the bondage of suicidal pleasures! It is God’s way of saying, “I have something better for you!” Why is this such an issue of free will? That should not matter that we lose free will because we gain infinite joy on the other side! We need to understand and make clear that Perseverance of the Saints is the almighty work of God, through all the affliction and suffering of the life, so that we will not be lost to an inheritance of pleasures at God’s right hand forevermore!”

“How sweet it was, all at once, for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose, You drove them from me, You who are the true Sovereign Joy, You drove them from me and took their place! My Lord, My God, My Joy, My Salvation!” (Augustine)

May we be so consumed by sovereign grace! You can read the rest of the sermon here.

K: Be Killing Sin or It Will Be Killing You

For K, I want to be brief and simple. Romans 8:12-13 says, “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh – for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

This truth is clear, if we live according to our fleshly desires we will die, and go to hell. But if we, by the Spirit, put to death the deeds of the body, we will live. We’ve got an enemy who does not want us to be holy, therefore we must kill sin if we’re to be triumphant over sin.

To help you out with this, to teach how to do this well, I cannot recommend John Piper’s sermon series “How to Kill Sin” enough. It is awesome, and you can listen to all three by clicking here (all three are about half way down in this list).

Ask Pastor John is Back on iTunes

Finally! They’ve said it would one day be up on iTunes among the other podcasts and now it is. Ask Pastor John is here, with a new app/podcast for us all. Here’s the update from Desiring God:

It is with great enthusiasm that we announce the release of the Ask Pastor John iPhone app, now available for free in the iTunes store.

We call it a daily podcast, as we’re serving up something new each weekday, typically about 5 minutes long, in which John answers tough theological and pastoral questions.

If you don’t have an iPhone, you can also listen through Sound Cloud.

We’re thrilled with this new channel for digesting Ask Pastor John and pray God will richly bless you as you listen. Please help us spread the word.

Martin Luther King Changed My World, and I am Thankful

An encouraging read for today from John Piper on why he is so very thankful for Martin Luther King Jr:

The racial world I grew up in and the one we live in today are amazingly different. Racism remains in many forms in America and around the world. But in the days of my youth the segregation was almost absolute and the defense of it was overt and ugly, without shame.

In 1954, seventeen states required segregated public schools (ABW, 99); In 1956, 85% of all white southerners rejected the statement, “White students and Negro students should go to the same schools”; 73% said that there should be “separate sections for Negros on streetcars and buses”;
62% did not want a Negro “with the same income and education” as them to move into their neighborhood (ABW, 144); In 1963, 82% of all white southerners opposed a federal law that would give “all persons, Negros as well as white, the right to be served in public places such as hotels, restaurants, and similar establishments” (ABW, 139); And in 1952 (when I was six years old), only 20% of southern blacks of voting age were registered to vote.

The upshot of those statistics was an unjust, unsafe, condescending, unwelcoming, demeaning, and humiliating world for blacks. Have you ever paused to ask yourself what separate water fountains and separate restrooms could possibly mean except: You are unclean — like lepers. It was an appalling world.

Between that racially appalling world and this racially imperfect one strode Martin Luther King. We don’t know if the world would have changed without him, but we do know he was a rod in the hand of God. Leave aside his theology and his moral flaws. He was used in the mighty hand of Providence to change the world so that the most appalling, blatant, degrading, public expressions of racism have gone away.

For that, this MLK day is worthy of our thankful reckoning.

Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his life to change the world. And toward the end he was increasingly aware that “the Movement” would cost him his life. The night before he was assassinated by James Earl Ray outside room 306 of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, he preached at the Bishop Charles Mason Temple. He had come to Memphis to support the black sanitation workers.

His message came to be called “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” He began it by surveying world history in response to God’s question: “When would you have liked to be alive?” King answered, “If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy.” Why? Because “I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men in some strange way are responding. Something is happening in our world.”

What was happening? “We are determined to be men. We are determined to be people.” We are standing up. “A man can’t ride your back unless it is bent.” For a brief window of time — just long enough — MLK was able to use his voice to restrain violence and overcome hate: “We are masters in our nonviolent movement in disarming police forces. They don’t know what to do.” He kindled a kind of fire that no dogs could quench and no fire hoses could put out.

It was “a dangerous kind of unselfishness.” Like the Good Samaritan. “The Levite asked, ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But the Good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’ That’s the question before you tonight.”

A dangerous unselfishness. So dangerous it would cost MLK his life. And he saw it coming. That morning there was a bomb threat on his plane from Atlanta to Memphis. He felt it coming. So he closed his sermon prophetically:

We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life — longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And so I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

Ten hours later he was dead. My world was changed forever. And I am thankful.

“Starting Over” – Encouragement from John Piper for 2013

A refreshing New Year encouragement from John Piper:

Treat this year-end like the end of your life. Then be ecstatic that you get to start a new life tomorrow.

For some of us, not only is the year ending, but so is a life-ministry. When the clock tolls midnight I will hand off the senior leadership of Bethlehem to Jason Meyer (with overwhelming gratefulness for God’s goodness). I’ll be on staff until March 31, 2013, but effectively, this season of leadership is over.

So not only do I get to start a new life tomorrow (as it were), I get to start a new era of life (as it is).

Here is what I am preaching to myself, and to you too, if you want to listen in: Long, effective ministries and lives can end very badly. Don’t let it happen. Finish in faith.

I am considering only one example, Asa, the king of Judah, who reigned from 911 to 870 B.C. He started so well. He continued well. And he ended in foolish unbelief. It happens. The story is told in 2 Chronicles 14–16. Covenant with me, by grace, not to let it happen.

King Asa began well.

“Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.” (14:2)
“He took away the foreign altars and the high places.” (14:3)
“Even his mother, King Asa removed from being queen mother because she had made a detestable image for Asherah.” (15:16)
“He commanded Judah to seek the Lord.” (14:4)
“He had no war in those years, for the Lord gave him peace.” (14:6)
“So they built and prospered.” (14:7)
He continued well, and trusted the Lord.

“Asa had an army of 300,000 from Judah, and 280,000 men from Benjamin.” (14:8)
“But Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and 300 chariots.” (14:9)
“Asa cried to the Lord his God, “O Lord, there is none like you . . . Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you . . . O Lord, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.” (14:11)
“So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians before Asa.” (14:12)
“The heart of Asa was wholly true all his days. . . And there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of the reign of Asa.” (15:17, 19)
The terrible turn in the heart of Asa:

“In the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha king of Israel went up against [Asa, and besieged Judah] that no one might go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.” (16:1)
“Then Asa took silver and gold from the treasures of the house of the Lord . . . and sent them to Ben-hadad king of Syria, . . . saying, . . . Go, break your covenant with Baasha king of Israel, that he may withdraw from me.” (16:2-3)
“And Ben-hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel.” (16:4)
“And when Baasha heard of it, he [withdrew].” (16:5)
“But Hanani the seer came to Asa and said to him, ‘Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you.’” (16:7)
“You have done foolishly.” (16:9)
“Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in the stocks in prison.” (16:10)
“In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord.” (16:12)
That was the end of a great king’s life. Tragic. It happens.

But tomorrow is a new year. A new life. Even if you are in the middle of an Asa-like infidelity, God is giving you another chance. If you will repent, he will forgive and renew. “Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43).

Whether you are 17 or 66, you can start over. Zacchaeus started over (Luke 19:8). Peter started over (Luke 22:32, 62). Paul started over (Acts 9:21). Lydia started over (Acts 16:14, 40). If you are alive in the morning, you can start over.

Join with me in a fresh covenant with our God: In the name of Jesus and by his blood-bought grace, I will finish in faith. Say that (with me) from your heart.

The Innkeeper

As I said before, here is “The Innkeeper” from John Piper for you again.  May God bring glorious and majestic adoration into your heart from this.

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Dear Friends,

Have you ever wondered what became of the innkeeper in Bethlehem who let Mary and Joseph have their baby in his barn?

Did he have little children? When the soldiers came from Herod, did they hunt for the birth place of the dangerous baby and start the slaughter there? What did it cost the innkeeper to house the Messiah in his first hours?

In the poem called The Innkeeper, I tried to imagine what might have happened when the soldiers came. And what Jesus might have said if he showed up 30 years later to talk to the innkeeper about it. It’s fiction. But its aim is truth and hope and joy.

Desiring God and Crossway Books have teamed up to make a new video recording of my reading of this poem. We hope it will touch some deep place in your heart, perhaps through a wound. Maybe it will find its way into your Christmas family celebrations, or your small group, or even the gathered church.

If you’ve ever lost a child, or ever faced a tragedy, just when you thought you were doing good, we hope The Innkeeper will bring you comfort and strength. In my experience poetry has a way of touching us sometimes when simple sentences don’t. In one sense, I hope you enjoy it. But there may be deeper emotions too. May the risen Lord Jesus turn your Advent and your Christmas into something really extraordinary this year.

John Piper

(Watch with English subtitles)If you’d like to show this video at your church but are concerned about length, you candownload a shorter version without the introduction.

Check out our new free eBook for Advent called Good News of Great Joy.

The Innkeeper

From Westminster Bookstore:

9781433530258mOnly two weeks from his crucifixion, Jesus has stopped in Bethlehem. He has returned to visit someone important – the innkeeper who made a place for Mary and Joseph the night he was born. But His greater purpose in coming is to pay a debt. What did it cost to house the Son of God?

Through this imaginative poem, John Piper shares a tale of what might have been – the story of an innkeeper whose life was forever altered by the arrival of the Son of God.

Ponder the sacrifice that was made that night. Celebrate Christ’s birth and the power of His resurrection. Rejoice in the life and light He brings to all. And encounter the hope His life gives you for today – and for eternity.

About the Author:

John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. He is the best-selling author of more than 30 books including Desiring GodDon’t Waste Your Life, and Bloodlines.

About the Illustrator: 

Glenn Harrington is an internationally recognized painter whose art has been featured on the cover of over 600 books. His paintings have also been a focal point in many publications, including The New York Times,American Arts QuarterlyInternational Artists Magazine, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Innkeeper

John Piper and Crossway Publishers have teamed up to give us all a treat this Advent season.  It is a video of Pastor John reading his poem “The Innkeeper”.  It captures so much of what I want to share with everyone around Christmas, may God use it to produce glorious God-Centered adoration in your heart.  I will post this again for your enjoyment on Christmas Day, at noon.  Enjoy!

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Dear Friends,

Have you ever wondered what became of the innkeeper in Bethlehem who let Mary and Joseph have their baby in his barn?

Did he have little children? When the soldiers came from Herod, did they hunt for the birth place of the dangerous baby and start the slaughter there? What did it cost the innkeeper to house the Messiah in his first hours?

In the poem called The Innkeeper, I tried to imagine what might have happened when the soldiers came. And what Jesus might have said if he showed up 30 years later to talk to the innkeeper about it. It’s fiction. But its aim is truth and hope and joy.

Desiring God and Crossway Books have teamed up to make a new video recording of my reading of this poem. We hope it will touch some deep place in your heart, perhaps through a wound. Maybe it will find its way into your Christmas family celebrations, or your small group, or even the gathered church.

If you’ve ever lost a child, or ever faced a tragedy, just when you thought you were doing good, we hope The Innkeeper will bring you comfort and strength. In my experience poetry has a way of touching us sometimes when simple sentences don’t. In one sense, I hope you enjoy it. But there may be deeper emotions too. May the risen Lord Jesus turn your Advent and your Christmas into something really extraordinary this year.

John Piper

(Watch with English subtitles)If you’d like to show this video at your church but are concerned about length, you candownload a shorter version without the introduction.

Check out our new free eBook for Advent called Good News of Great Joy.

God is God & God is Love

John Piper makes many helpful distinctions, some of which have absolutely changed my worldview. Of course it’s not his own words which hold the power but how he carefully and attentively exegetes the Scripture, which contains immeasurable power.

A recent distinction he made showed me two things: 1) Who I am, and 2) Why I ought to be thankful everyone is not like me. Enjoy 🙂

John Piper:

Consider that God is love (1 John 4:8,16), and that God is God (Isaiah 45:22; 46:9). God is God implies that God is who he is in all his glorious attributes and self-sufficiency. God is love implies that all of His glory is moving our way for our everlasting enjoyment. Now these two truths unleash very different impulses, and it’s good to see them. God is love unleashes simplicity, while God is God unleashes complexity. God is love unleashes accessibility, while God is God unleashes profundity. God is love encourages a focus on the basics, while God is God encourages a focus on comprehensiveness. One says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). The other says, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). God is love impels us to be sure that the truth gets to all people, while God is God impels us to be sure that what gets to all people is the truth. God is love unleashes the impulse toward fellowship, while God is God unleashes the impulse toward scholarship. God is love tends to create extroverts and evangelists, while God is God tends to create introverts and mystics.