Monthly Archives: January 2016

Happy belated birthday, John Piper!

I just learned yesterday was John Piper’s 70th birthday. You should take time to read one man’s tribute

Here’s my own little expression of thanks:

When I was in college (around 2000), a friend told me to listen to a John Piper sermon from one of his early “Passion” appearances. I had never heard of him before that. I remember the main text being Habakkuk 3.17-18. And I remember God changed my life through that sermon (and I remember having that thought right after I finished listening). Basically, I came away embracing the idea that I must love God for who He is, and not mainly for what He does for me. I came away with the category of “God-centeredness” like never before.
Whether I had been taught that before or not, I had never embraced it before. So one way or the other, God used John Piper to help me see God in a new way. Within the next couple years, I had gotten my hands on my first John Piper book, Desiring God. I remember it not being the easiest reading (though he is not as hard to read as many Christians claim), but I remember the God-centeredness of the Scriptures being opened up to me like never before. And the idea that you could be as happy as you could possibly be by focusing your entire life on the glory of God struck a chord with me, and I have never looked back.
God used Desiring God, The Pleasures of God, The Godward Life, Future Grace, Don’t Waste your Life, Hunger for God, When I don’t Desire God, and a half-dozen other John Piper books, and many more Piper sermons, to help me become more biblical, more theologically sound, more loving, more evangelistic, and more aware of the glory of God in Jesus Christ. I enjoy life more now because of John Piper. I also came to see that Calvinism is anything but contrary to evangelism and missions.
In 2006 I got to attend the first “Together 4 The Gospel” conference in Louisville, Kentucky. It was the first time I heard John Piper in person. He preached on how God is particularly glorified in expositional preaching. And I believe God created me into a preacher that day. From that day, I began pursuing pastoral ministry. I finished seminary in 2008, found a church to preach at in 2009, and by God’s grace am still preaching at that church today.
Over the years I have come to see how many more men and women around the world have been blessed by Piper’s ministry, including my own dad, who after having a stroke three years ago, and is not able to walk, loves to listen to Piper sermons almost daily to build his faith. God has used many other preachers and writers to shape me, and all of them, including Piper, only help me because they point me to Jesus. But there is no doubt that God uses them. There is no doubt that God has used one fallen man more than any other to help me know my Savior better. So thank you, God, for John Piper. And thank you, John Piper, for abiding in Christ.

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How far is too far?

Stop asking that question. Stop thinking that question. It almost always comes in the context of young people wondering how much physical intimacy unmarried people can have before they cross the line of sinning. Perhaps many Christians wonder that question in regards to alcohol or smoking or other supposed “vices.” For our purposes, let’s just think in terms of physical intimacy before marriage. That’s one we can sink our teeth into, and then I think it would apply to all other areas of life.

For a Christian to ask that question reveals at least two things:

  1. A legalistic heart- Classic legalism believes a person can be righteous in God’s eyes through good works. It also believes every sin you commit makes you less righteous in God’s eyes. In other words, legalism completely ignores the gospel of Jesus Christ, which says, “God considers you righteous no matter what, all and only because of the righteousness of Christ!” A “gospel” heart will not mess around with questions about “how far is too far”, or “how much more can I do to make God even happier with me” for that matter. A “gospel” heart will overflow with a passion for upholding marriage in high honor, at all costs, because marriage promotes the gospel, and because a redeemed heart wants to obey God out of love.
  2. A legalistic church- if Christians are messing around with that question it is probably because the culture in their church is one promoting the above heart.

If, at the end of the day, you are trusting in Christ alone for salvation, and you in response to the gospel want to honor marriage, and if you are curious what you should teach others about pre-marriage relationships, just see my previous posts about holding hands 🙂

But seriously, stop asking that question, and stop cultivating that question.