21 May 2013 Leave a Comment
Piper: Most Americans don’t know what love is. I’ll state a definition that they might agree with and then I’ll give it a biblical translation. Maybe you would find people who would agree with the definition: Love is doing whatever you’ve got to do, at whatever cost to yourself, to make people as happy as they can be forever. It cost Jesus His life to do this, to make people as happy as they can be forever.
The biblical translation for that is this: Love is whatever you have to do, at whatever cost to yourself to help people have an all satisfying passion for Jesus forever. Those are synonymous definitions because Christ is the only source of everlasting joy. If you reject Christ, you don’t have joy- forever.
Therefore, the definition of love is eating, drinking, and doing whatever you do, in order to help people cherish Christ above all things. Seeing Him and savoring Him above all things. And that becomes massively helpful in what movies you watch, what you eat, what you drink, where you go, how you spend your time. Are people seeing in you and in your values- Christ as supremely important? Are you doing things that will cause them to read off of your life that you seem to be drawing your life from another place? That’s what love is gonna prompt you to show.
VIDEO by DGJohnPiper from the message “Don’t Waste Your Life” September 19, 2007
- The Achilles’ Heel of the Next Generation (2 more short clips from the same message above)
20 May 2013 Leave a Comment
Jon Bloom, in an article from the Desiring God archive (By John Piper. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org) explains the ‘abiding’ in Christ metaphor:
Does Jesus’ metaphor here strike you as a bit odd?
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:45)
Vine branches don’t have to try to abide in vine. They just do. only way they become detached is if someone or something detaches them.
Not so with us. We are strange “branches” that are prone to wander. Staying put in the vine is something we must obey. “Abiding” for us is a discipline.
So why are we prone to leave the “vine” we love? Because we are easily deceived into believing that we are vines, not branches. Remember Satan’s original deception, “You will be like God”? That’s what we want to be: vines! We don’t want to be branches. We want to bear our own fruit!
This is the ancient sin of pride and it governs fallen human nature. And we Christians remain susceptible to this very powerful and subtle temptation, which is why Jesus spoke this metaphor to his disciples. We struggle to believe that apart from him we can do nothing.
So how can we honestly evaluate the level to which we are abiding in Jesus? One simple way is to examine how we pray in secret. The Bible is clear: Word-saturated prayer is the primary means of abiding in Jesus. That’s why prayer is the chief of the spiritual disciplines and the one we are commanded to be constantly doing:
God appointed prayer as the chief of the disciplines precisely because it is designed to undermine our self-sufficient pride. Prayer requires profound humility and faith to exercise. It appears foolish and weak to the worldly-wise and strong. It’s the posture of a dependent child or a beggar. And since its productivity can’t be quantified, it can look like a waste of time.
In other words, prayer forces us to trust God.
This is why we selected “Prayerful Dependence” as one of our stated core values at Desiring God:
We seek our deepest delight in Jesus Christ and acknowledge that we can do nothing apart from him (John 15:5). Our desire is to abide in him constantly, “[praying] at all times in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18). Therefore, we will be intentional to build prayer into the visible life of the organization at all levels and to cultivate a shared life together of living by faith in God’s future grace for us.
One of our ongoing resolutions at Desiring God is to cultivate more prayerful dependence on Jesus in our spreading efforts. Would you join us? Create your own resolution to cultivate greater prayerful dependence on God. Through more intentional prayer, let’s fight our desire to live like vines together and seek instead to be branches that are joyfully and firmly grafted in Jesus.
One way we want to encourage you in your personal resolution is to encourage you to listen to John Piper’s message, “Battling the Unbelief of Pride.” John draws from Paul, James, Peter, and Jeremiah to explain the nature of pride and how to fight its many manifestations. He includes a helpful section on the role of prayer in the battle. A memorable quote from his closing prayer is, “It is utter folly to be anything but a baby in your arms.”
The counter-intuitive truth is that unless we abide in Jesus through Word-saturated prayer, we will not be able to doanything. Being “devoted to prayer” (Rom. 12:12) isn’t just a romantic idea, it’s mission critical. May the Lord help us believeand live this truth more fully in 2007.
You can read the article in its entirety here- http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/newsletters/you-are-a-branch-not-a-vine
18 May 2013 Leave a Comment
Wayne Grudem and Ian Hamilton:
The state of prophecy today
A debate between Ian Hamilton (Cambridge Presbyterian Church and formerly a minister in the Church of Scotland) and Wayne Grudem (Phoeniz Seminary, Arizona, formerly at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois) about the role of prophecy in the church today. Chaired by Adrian Reynolds. Recorded at the 2010 EMA. From The Proclamation Trust on Vimeo. From 2010, Phoenix, Arizona.
Ian Hamilton is currently teaching at Cambridge and Wayne Grudem did his doctoral studies there. The aim is to talk about some of the things we know we don’t agree about, but, we think that it’s mature and the time is right as Evangelical Christians who love Christ, who love His word and believe firmly in His word and hold firmly to it; to be able to talk about some of the things we disagree about in a constructive mature way; to gently challenge one another. To think about some of the implications about how these things affect church life. That’s the reason for having these two dear brothers here with us.
I managed to transcribe notes from the first 38 minutes of a 76 minute discussion; the first of its kind (videotaped and publicly posted) between two Godly men, who are also widely respected theologians, and who both believe in the continuationist position on the gifts of the Spirit, however, Ian Hamilton believes prophecy is not one of those gifts that continued after the New testament canon was closed.
I have not spoken much about this gift of prophecy question or taught much about it for several years… As I came back to the discussion, I thought it might be helpful to start out with an overview of the whole Bible, Genesis to Revelation.
There is a view that I am going to call cessationsim. A cessationist position that with regard to the gift of prophecy would argue that God doesn’t communicate information directly to us today, apart from the words of the Bible or in addition to the words of the Bible and that’s the viewpoint I’m going to be disagreeing with.
I think what strikes me the most as I look from Genesis to Revelation on this question, is what seems to me the absence of any clear biblical evidence to prove the heart of the cessationist position. I don’t think there’s any passage in scripture, or any combination of passages that should lead us to think that God doesn’t communicate directly with His people throughout all of history, in individual, personal ways that occur, in addition to in and through the written words of scripture. If we look at the whole scope of biblical history, we see that from beginning to end, God had a personal relationship with his people; a relationship in which he communicated directly and personally with them. And, this communication was never limited to the words that He gave all of His people in the book of the covenant, or the writings of the canon of scriptures. God had a personal relationship and a direct communication with people from the beginning of the Bible and throughout its history.
So, think of his personal relationship and communication with Adam & Eve, with Cain & Abel, with Enoch, who walked with God (Genesis 5:24), with Noah, with Abraham and Isaac, and Jacob; the narratives of which are filled with discussions of God appearing to them and speaking to them, personally. With Moses, and David, with Solomon, and with many old testament prophets and kings to whom God communicated directly, individually and personally.
And then, in the New Testament, in the person of Jesus, God the Son, communicated individually and personally with many people while he was on earth. And then the New Testament promises a personal relationship that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit will have with each individual believer. Here are some verses:
- John 14:23 “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him”. The imagery of making the home of the Father and Son with us, that imagery implies personal fellowship.
- Revelation 3:20 “If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him and he with me”. The imagery of eating with one another implies ongoing personal fellowship.
- Paul in Philippians 3:20 “Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that to you also”. That implies personal communication from God, revealing sin in the lives of individual Philippian Christians.
- Romans 8:14 “For all who are led by the spirit of God are sons of God”. The present indicative verb for “all who are led”, indicates that this leading is a regular or ongoing process; being led by the spirit of God.
- Galatians 5:16,18 “But I say, walk by the spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. But, if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law”. Again the verb (in Greek) indicates ongoing activity- being led by the spirit of God.
My point is that from the beginning to the end, the Bible tells us of a God who relates individually and personally to His people. And now, it seems to me that some in the cessationist position are coming and telling us: Contrary to the experience of all of God’s people throughout all the books of the Bible, that God no longer communicates personally and individually with any of his people except through the written words of the canon of Scripture. So it seems to me that a cessationist position asks us to believe
- that throughout the Bible, God communicated to His people both through written scripture, as much as they had at any point, and through additional, direct, personal interaction with people.
- But then it asks us to believe that God now only communicates through the written words of the canon and no longer with direct, personal fellowship and interaction with people. This is quite strange in light of the fact that the new covenant seems to be better in every way, but how can it be better if we’ve lost that element of personal relationship with God and personal communication with God in addition to the words of the canon. That element that characterized all periods of history that the Bible talks about. Where is anything in the Bible that would lead us to believe that?
Of course, I understand that cessationists believe that the canon is closed and I agree with that. But the question is not that of the canon. The question is what about communication, from God to specific individuals that is not part of the canon? If the Bible is the book of the covenant, that stipulates the terms of the relationship between God as king and us as His covenant people. Then, are we to say that the king can never communicate with His people in any additional ways, besides the covenant document? Can he who created speech, and loves His people, never speak to them directly and personally? A cessationist view, if I understand it correctly, allows no element for individual, personal guidance from the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian, ever. Our guidance is simply to be taken from reading the Bible and using mature wisdom to apply it to our lives. But surely, the vast majority of Christians, throughout history have known and experienced the guidance of the Holy Spirit in making decisions, especially while they are praying and reading the words of scripture, but in other times as well. Apart from the concentrated times of reading scripture and prayer. And, they have known that this guidance includes not only the direction and commands and principles of scripture, but also subjective impressions of God’s will and additional thoughts and specific memories the Lord brings to mind. It seems to me that a position that rules out personal guidance from the Holy Spirit today is so completely different from the whole course of Biblical history and from the New Testament teaching on personal fellowship that we have with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Specifically with regard to the gift of prophecy, we have … and I think it is a sub category of that broader category of personal fellowship and communication from God to believers and so I would look at passages like 1 Thessalonians 5 19-21, and in that passage Paul says, “Do not despise prophecies, but test everything, hold fast to what is good”. And, so I think that he is implying here and in 1 Corinthians 14, when he says, “Let two or three prophets speak and let the others way what is said”, that God can bring things to mind, and when we report something that God has suddenly brought to mind, that Paul would call that the gift of prophecy functioning in the church. But it is always to be tested by Scripture. Paul says, “Do not despise prophecies, but test everything. Hold fast to what is good”. It is to be tested by scripture and by what we know about our lives and the word in general and we may be mistaken by those kinds of things, but of course , sermons can also be mistaken and advice from others can also be mistaken, but they have a useful role in the Christian life.
I think this element of prophecy, as well, is something that the New Testament talks about; views as commonly functioning, in the churches in Rome, in Corinth, Ephesus and Thessaloniki and is something that ought to be appreciated and valued today.
Click below for the rest of the notes…….
17 May 2013 1 Comment
Piper: I have a concern with what God, I think, is doing in your generation, and how it could so easily be short circuited. I really do believe God is doing a remarkable thing in the young adult generation, in America. There are all kinds of movements. Some of these movements don’t even know the others exist, and they consist of tens of thousands, and hundreds of thousands of young people. It is remarkable. You go from coast to coast, and northwest to northeast to south, and you find these amazing outcroppings of young people who are passionate for the supremacy of God, they’re passionate for doctrine, they’re passionate for biblical truth, they’re passionate for global concerns and world evangelization.
And so, I’m concerned, when I see what could be achilles’ heels, that could break the whole thing open and cause it to just dribble away into nothingness. And one of those things is the disconnect between the majesty of God and – the movies you watch- just to choose an example. There’s an awakening to the majesty of God around the country, there’s a filling of hearts with God centered, Christ exalting Bible saturated songs. It is remarkable that in the contemporary worship awakening, when you leave all the fluff to the side, at the center, the majesty of the God who shines through is most remarkable. Photo via dreamstime.com
There’s the giving of zeal for truth and biblical doctrine, back and forth, among young people and I’m concerned that there are some loose wires dangling, between the majesty of God that is sung about in the services, that causes people to soar with the kind of emotional euphoria about the greatness of God and the wires of our daily practical detailed lives.
- They dangle disconnected between big thoughts about God and big appetites for beer.
- They dangle disconnected between infinite purity of God and the lure of pornography.
- They dangle disconnected between the majesty of Christ and the carelessly attended default weekend movie. No questions asked. It’s just the thing to do.
- They dangle disconnected between white hot all satisfying divine holiness and hip huggers and plunging necklines.
As long as these wires dangle disconnected, the supremacy of God in our songs and the passion for personal holiness in our daily lives are not going to be working the way they’re supposed to. And the whole movement could come apart.
VIDEO by DGJohnPiper from the message “Don’t Waste Your Life” September 19, 2007
Understanding without Transformation
If the lightning bolts of corporate worship don’t strike with shattering power in the details of your life, the whole storm may prove to be a laser show. It wasn’t really lightning after all, it was just man made.
I am jealous for your generation, that the great work God is doing, not being merely flashing on the lightning in the sky. This is the other image I had in my mind, besides the wiring image. It seems to me that when a big group of students get together with great music, with solid lyrics and a solid vision of God, that the singing goes on, and the lightning is flashing in the sky. I mean, genuine spiritual sights of God are flashing and THE BOLTS MAY NEVER HIT THE GROUND. If you’ve ever watched a thunderstorm, there are different types of thunderstorms. Some thunderstorms you watch, there are lights everywhere, but you never see a thunderbolt hit and the lights going out. And if the lightning that is flashing in our worship services at church never strikes the ground you walk on, you probably, within a half an hour after that service will feel zero power. I would so much be jealous for that not to happen. Photo on left via www.mnn.com
God is in the details and it’s a fearful thought (I apply it to my church). It’s a fearful thought, isn’t it? To say, “If the lightning bolts of corporate worship don’t strike with shattering power in the details of your life, the whole storm may prove to be a laser show.” It wasn’t really lightning after all, it was just man made. Laser beams. And we thought it was lightning, and worship felt like lightning in worship, but, from a distance of an hour later, as I cave before this temptation, it looks like a (man made) laser beam, from here, now. And I would, so much, like to be an instrument in God’s hand and say, “Lord, let the lightning fall. Don’t just let it go around up here… let it come down and strike the ground where these students walk.
16 May 2013 Leave a Comment
“We just dream of peace and a stable situation, but each day is worse than the day before,” reports the leader. “People die each day in our blood-covered streets. We try to distract our children from the noise of gunshots that constantly ring out.”
Though they, along with their missionary coworkers, have been spared from harm thus far, they live and work with the idea that every day could be their last.
“They want to get rid of us Christians in any way possible. Maybe tomorrow they will burn our home, or kidnap, or attack us.”
Throughout the horror that has unfolded since the election of the Muslim Brotherhood and the new Islamist-backed constitution in December 2012, the ministry leader has provided glimpses into his world, turned completely upside-down.
Brittany Tedesco, Africa Director of Christian Aid, your link to indigenous missions, says attacks against Christians are unprecedented. “They’re very brazen. We’re talking women being raped in broad daylight, men being attacked, or the homes of Christians being ransacked. And really, they have no recourse.”
Tedesco says even the police, who work for the Muslim Brotherhood, are part of the persecution effort against believers. Often it is the victim of an attack who is arrested.
As part of the Islamic regime’s radical control of Egypt, nearly all independent media outlets have been shut down, and concerted efforts are being made to essentially dispose of the judiciary system.
As their country darkens, tens of thousands of Egyptian Christians have fled the nation. Yet the ministry leader and his co-workers are determined to remain, taking every opportunity to share Christ with the hurting and confused masses.
PRAY for the Christians of Egypt!
- ‘Christians! Christians! Christians!’: Muslim Mob In Egypt Screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’ Rape Christian Women In Broad Daylight (midnightwatcher.wordpress.com)
- Christian Girls Gang Raped to Screams of “Allahu Akbar” in Egypt (beowulfjournal.wordpress.com)
- Video: Christian Girls Gang Raped in Egypt to Screams of ‘Allahu Akbar!’ (frontpagemag.com)
- Why is the world ignoring an Islamic Declaration of War on Christians? (humanevents.com)
- An Islamic Declaration of War on Christianity (iranaware.com)
- The Copts flee Egypt (iranaware.com)
13 May 2013 1 Comment
David Platt, India 2011- Photo David Platt (Instagram)
TEXT – 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9; in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, Philippians 3:20; 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
The Urgency of Eternity…
Knowing this Gospel Thread…
- Our eternal destiny hinges on our response to Jesus.
- Hell is a dreadful reality for those who turn from Jesus. (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)
- A place of continual rebellion.
- A place of final separation.
- A place of eternal duration.
Heaven is a glorious reality for those who trust in Jesus. (Philippians3:20)
- A place of full reconciliation.
- A place of complete restoration.
- A place of ultimate reunion.
Will you turn from Jesus or will you trust in Jesus? (John 3:16)
- Will you turn from Jesus?
- Live without Christ now.
- Die without Christ forever.
- Will you trust in Jesus?
- Die with Christ now.
- Live with Christ forever.
Weaving this Gospel Thread…
- Minimize your conversations about temporal things.
- Maximize your conversations about eternal things.
Talking about hell…
- Speak about God’s character with humble confidence.
- Speak about God’s judgment with healthy fear.
- Speak about God’s wrath with honest compassion.
Talking about heaven…
- Talk like this world is not your hope.
- Live like this world is not your home.
- Talk about your anticipation of being with God.
- Talk about your realization that dying is gain.
- CALLing people to turn and trust…
Clarify the Gospel.
- If they have any questions.
- If they have ever turned from their sin and themselves and trusted in Jesus as Savior and Lord.
- If they would like to turn from their sin and themselves and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord now.
- Let the Holy Spirit work.
- Invite them to call out to God to save them.
- Be willing to let them be alone with God.
- Lead them as a new follower of Christ.
- We don’t want to manufacture decisions.
- We do want to make disciples.
The Church at Brook Hills…
• Do we realize people’s condition?
• Do we possess the heart of Christ?
• Do we want our lives to count?
VIDEO by 10cannons
- David Platt – How do we give them a glimpse of His glory?
- David Platt – Why many Christians are deceived
- David Platt – Secret Church – Heaven, Hell, and the end of the World – Good Friday March 29, 2013
- David Platt – The Tragic Cost of Non-Discipleship
- David Platt – from Secret Church – Overview of the Synoptic Gospels
- David Platt – Assurance of Salvation – In light of the danger of spiritual deception, how can someone know they are a Christian?
11 May 2013 Leave a Comment
Photo via amalina-peter.blogspot.com
Please pray for Syria.
All churches in Syria will unite in prayer on Saturday 11 May in many places all around the war-torn nation. This is a unique moment of unity of Christians in that country. The Syrian Christians ask their brothers and sisters all around the world to pray with them on that day.
We as MEE field office want to invite all Development bases to contact your contacts to get as much as possible Churches and individual Christians to join in. This is a real request from the persecuted church to join with them in prayer. During the events there will be video recording and pictures will be taken. They will be made available afterwards. (Open Doors)
We have received a letter of the people coordinating this day of prayer:
“As you may know, the Christian church in Syria is experiencing a deep humanitarian crisis that is leading to the rapid loss of hope. In the face of violence and persecution, our brothers and sisters are striving to keep their eyes on the Lord and seeking His face in their country. Even in pain, suffering, and death, God is using the church to accomplish His plan.
On Saturday May 11th, 2013, Christians from different denominations such as Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant/Evangelical are joining together in prayer and fasting to plead before the Lord for His mercy on Syria and an end to the violence. Due to the dangers of traveling in combat zones, Christians will be limited to local meetings planned all across Syria during this day. These groups will be meeting in homes, meeting arenas and churches, and will be a mix of all denominations. Christians across Syria have asked that you join them in prayer on May 11th.
This email is to invite you to help your brothers and sisters in Christ by praying and (if possible) fasting, and by please spreading the word about this unified prayer effort through your local prayer networks and churches. This will be a world-wide meeting of Christians in prayer, and we want all believers to have the chance to join.
An email will follow with a list of prayer requests directly from the Christians living in Syria. Thank you for standing in the gap on behalf of the Syrian people and reflecting the love of Christ in your acts of worship.”
Almost all denominations in Syria agreed and want to be part of this day. In Damascus part of the churches will meet in an arena, but there will be prayer also in several suburbs of that city.
In Aleppo, the whole Christian community in Aleppo and surroundings are getting together to pray. “This is a huge deal as it has never happened in Syria before. They will have 2 meetings back to back, one hosted by the Catholic church and the other at an Orthodox church.”
The bishops and pastors from these churches have sent emails and letters to all bishops around Syria to inform them and ask them to gather and pray in their areas.
Of course all over the country there will be prayers held at churches and homes. Over twenty churches in Jaramanah (one of the suburbs of Damascus) will pray in their own churches and some will join in the arena.
Many priests and pastors in Syria are telling their denominations word wide to join in prayers too. We know that churches in Germany, France, Norway, India, Sweden, U.S.A, Canada are joining at that day.
The people working on this effort have been on fire to see God’s hand moving. Let’s please keep all of them in prayers.
One of the prayer requests is reconciliation among Christian denominations.
10 May 2013 Leave a Comment
from Noel Piper’s blog
God knows, Mothers Day is the hardest day in the year for some of you.
Large bouquets of white roses are at the front of our church. If you were with us this weekend, one of those roses would have been for you.
Your sadness may be related to your mother:
- Your mother is not alive.
- Life with your mother was too difficult to celebrate.
- Your mother wasn’t part of your life.
- You can celebrate with your mother because she lives too far away.
- Your mother is ill or suffering dementia.
It may be grief related to your own mothering:
- You have longed for children but have never been able to be pregnant.
- You have experienced miscarriage or stillbirth and never had even one sweet moment of looking into your baby’s eyes.
- After that loss, you fear it might happen again.
- You laid your baby down to sleep one afternoon or evening, and your little one never woke again.
- After losing that child, you feel fear when you look at your other children or think of having another.
- You were so close to adopting the child you already loved from a distance, and then the plans fell through.
- Your child–whether a child or adult–lost the battle to a disease, or died accidentally, or was murdered, or took his or her own life.
- Your child is alienated from you.
- Your child has a disability that doesn’t permit you ever to hear “I love you” from him or her. (If this is true, I hope you will be comforted today by John Knight’s post about his wife and son)
God knows. That wasn’t a throw-away phrase I used at the beginning. God does know. He knows your fear, grief, anger, anxiety, love–the welter of emotions today that you hardly know how to name. He knows that even though you may be mostly composed most days, this day stirs it all up.
I pray that your church and others close to you will be Christ’s hands and heart for you today.
Even if other people aren’t aware or sensitive, I pray for you today that you can feel deeply the com-passion (together-suffering) of Jesus who bears our griefs and carries our sorrows.