Showing posts from March, 2010

Worship, The Feast of Christian Hedonism

On Chapter 3 of John Piper's Desiring God I once heard Pastor John Piper say in his lecture “ Pastor as Scholar ”, that he is a slow reader.   He may read slowly but his writing pace is about a book a week.   Yet his writing forces us to do as he does, read slowly.   There is a lot to think about in every line, so many poignant paragraphs.   In a book like this I bleed a lot of ink; and as I read, it sounds like someone is punching me in the ribs as I often utter guttural, “mmm”’s.   Every “mmm” is a pause for the brain, a challenge to the soul, a moment of introspection. This chapter is full of underline worthy material.   Rather than cite it all I encourage you to get your own pen, your own book, and mark it up.   This chapter is a great thought and deals with a pertinent issue to the argument for Christian Hedonism.   What should I do with all that I feel?   I feel lots of things.   I can scratch them but they are destined to return.   I can indulge them, but doing so in sinf

My New Body (sermon audio: Sunday a.m.)

One of the many things we as humans anticipate in the resurrection is our new body. For most, we are thrilled with the prospects of this extreme makeover. But, how extreme will it be? Paul gives us some insight in 1 Corinthians 15:35-49. He tells us that our new body will come from our current body, much like a flower comes from a seed. Our new body will not begin to compare to the old one, for this we are most thankful, but will be fully redeemed. We draw some conclusions also from the risen Christ who was seen in the physicality of his human body, but with one which was clearly different in its capabilities. Like all of creation, our bodies will one day be redeemed and made-over and we will be like Him! Listen to audio

Siran Stacy

I have been to a lot of conventions, conferences, revivals, and churches to hear preachers preach. Never have I heard or witnessed the move of God through a man as I did last night with Siran Stacy . God certainly has His hand on this man and I believe we all need to covenant together to pray for his strength as he ministers, that he be a clean, holy man of God, and that God will continue to fill Siran with His Spirit and His Word. I believe God is using Siran to bring about an awakening in the midst of His people and to call the lost to salvation. As I drove onto campus this morning there was still smoke from the fire that began last night. We were here until 10:45 while family after family came to Siran and he prayed with them. In 13 years of ministry, I have never really seen such great hunger and faith exhibited together in one place. Perhaps I should be sad that this is true. Yet, I am still feasting this morning on what God is doing in our midst. Let us rejoice in His glory an

Chapter 2, Conversion

Reflections on John Piper's Desiring God , Chapter 2 - Conversion, The Creation of a Christian Hedonist When I read silently I hear my own voice.  I suppose that I should count it joy that when I read I do not hear the voice of a woman, or someone speaking another language, or that of an all boys choir.  If I were to read and think in any of these dialects I suppose I would be a candidate for numerous mental health studies and perhaps a movie deal.  But this will not happen, for when I read I hear me. Sometimes this is the problem with reading, we only hear ourselves.  This being the case I think it is expedient that we clear the air, in chapter 2, of what Pastor Piper is NOT saying.  He is NOT saying that people no longer need to be converted to Christ but rather to Christian Hedonism.  He is NOT saying that people no longer need to believe in Christ in order to be born again.  What he IS saying is that the ideas he has labeled Christian Hedonism are the logical and biblical r

What Do I Think About The New Health Care Legislation?

I have been asked more than a few times over the last several months about the health care debate, which has now resulted in new health care legislation in America.  I wish I knew all of the ins and outs of the current legislation, but frankly it is 2,000 pages long and I do not have a law degree.  I do not have the time to read it nor the education to understand it.  So I will comment based on what I do understand: 1.       Christians have always been concerned with health and healing.  The gospel has ever called us to exercise compassion for the sick and to care for our bodies as the Temple of the Holy Spirit.  Christians have historically been at the forefront of medical care and medical missions.  Historically Christians have also practiced self-control, abstinence from alcohol, the belief that gluttony is sin, as is sex outside of marriage.  These ideas and practices are a proven recipe for better social health.  That being said I am concerned at the absence of the Christian voice

The Happiness of God

(On Chapter 1 of John Piper’s Desiring God ) In lending commentary to someone else’s book there are three dangers.   The first is misunderstanding.   Pastor Piper has already warned us about this in his introduction (27).   The second is overcomplicating what is being said.   In working on this project I have tried to put myself in Pastor Piper’s shoes and pretend that there would be some possibility that he would read my posts.   What if he read my posts and was frustrated by them?   What if he was frustrated by the fact that I am trying to write a “laymen’s guide” when he felt his book was “laymen enough” as it stood on its own two feet?   The third danger is worse than the first two.   It is the danger of changing what is being said.   Whether that be change from dumbing down the text, or change birthed from misunderstanding, or change birthed in disagreement, it is straying from the author’s intent; an offense of which I do not desire to be guilty. Yet in reading chapter 1 of Joh

Surviving the Resurrection (sermon audio: Sunday a.m.)

Jesus’ resurrection was the inauguration of an ongoing process, not merely an event that happened at one point in history. It was the dawning of a work that continues, the “first fruits” of more to come. However, the resurrection results and ends when the world is returned to right and God is “all in all” (I Cor. 15:28). Now is the time to be born again and spread the gospel until that day when we too will be resurrected and redeemed by the power of God. Listen to Audio

Should You Pay For Christian Counseling?

People are given to believe that if a Christian service such as counseling, a travelling evangelist, or support of a pastor, requires payment, then it is less sincere than if it had not.   I will concede that the love of money and poor accountability will lead to evil and corrupt ministry, but this is not necessarily so in every case.   Unfortunately perception becomes reality, and most people perceive that payment for Christian service is a negative simply because the worst amongst us often get the most press.   Paul suffered from the same problem.   He was in constant defense of his apostleship before the early church, and one sacrifice he chose to make in order to better validate his ministry was to refuse monetary support, though he was under no Scriptural warrant to do so.   I Corinthians 9:3-14: 3 This is my defense to those who would examine me. 4 Do we not have the right to eat and drink? 5 Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and

Jake on James

We took a few days off this week and made a visit to family and friends near my hometown of Ringgold, GA.  On Monday night we were able to reconnect with some college friends at Dave and Katie Delmotte’s house.  I first met Dave in a Greek class somewhere about 1993 or 1994.  He moved to Chattanooga from Michigan.  In order to communicate with one another Dave and I used a translator.  Dave drove a jacked up Toyota truck with huge snow tires on it - in Chattanooga!  Where I grew up, folks carried dead animals in the back of their truck.  Dave was the only guy I ever met who carried hockey equipment in the back of his.  Even when we drove up to his house on Monday afternoon I knew we were in the right place because Dave is the only person in the Bible Belt with hockey nets in his driveway. Dave is now pastoring a church in rural Tennessee.  I am not sure any of the people in his congregation have understood a single word he has spoken in the last five years, but God is using Dave de

On Appendix 5: Am I Offended by the Term Christian Hedonism?

In his introduction to Desiring God , John Piper invited those who found the term Christian Hedonism “strange or troubling” to read Appendix 5 before they progressed to chapter 1 (27).  That is why I am still in nerdville - preface, introduction, and now an appendix.  Yet, I chose to read this short appendix next simply because I am curious, not so much because I am troubled.  I am sure that Pastor Piper has fielded a fair amount of criticism because he has taken an idea, “Hedonism,” that reminds most people of sin, and has lumped it together with something complimentary of people who would remind others of Christ, “Christian.”  Most Christians associate Hedonism with most of the grosser sins that people commit out of their fleshly thirst for pleasure.  Therefore, for some, Piper may as well be talking about Christian drug abuse, or Christian fornication, or Christian theft, or Christian idolatry.  They just can’t stomach two terms, one seemingly so dirty and one so pure, so intertwin

Desiring God Free Online

If you have been following along as I read through Pastor John Piper's Desiring God, I have good news.  You can download the book free online, here .  Dr. Piper's website provides many of his books free through pdf download.  If you still desire a hard copy of Desiring God I have linked it several times throughout my posts via Amazon.

Why John Piper is a Christian Hedonist But I Love Mud

Before I move forward into Pastor John Piper’s Desiring God I want to make a clarification on style.  My desire in these posts is to have a conversation WITH Pastor Piper on the grounds of his book rather than a conversation AT Pastor Piper.  I find most reviews are monologues AT a book rather than dialogues WITH a book.  While it is the nature of review to share what someone thinks of a book, at some point we came to believe that all we want is one side of a thought, and that we are not interested in what the author of the book in question thinks about anything he has written.  Therefore, my style may not be accommodating to those who enjoy strict reviews, but after all, I write this for laymen, not scholars.  Thus my style will not be as tight or concise as some may desire.  It will be more free, introspective, much longer, and far less proofed as I normally like things to be.  It will be what it will be.  As Paul McCartney said, “Let it be.”  I want to write as most of us read books

Nerds Read the Preface (A Laymen's Guide to Desiring God)

Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist I am a nerd. I read the preface of books. However, I am not a full blown nerd because I went apostate on math. When I declared that I would be a Pastoral Studies major I felt the immediate release from the burden of math. The Bible is full of 3’s, 7’s, and 40’s. You don’t need to take Calculus to preach the Bible, just a little bit of Greek and Hebrew. What is the place of pleasure in the Christian life? Is it a sin to be very happy? I guess this is why we say chocolate cake can be so good it is sinful. I want to be happy and feel great. Is that wrong? My desire to feel good has often conflicted me and has inevitably led to my being a bit of a hypochondriac. Sometimes I feel so good I worry that I am about to die without symptoms. Last summer went to the cardiologist. They hooked me up to a computer, shot me full of radiation and then challenged me to climb a mountain. I guess they wanted to see if I am prone to have a hea

Pitiful Faith (sermon audio: Sunday a.m.)

Paul writes that if the Corinthians deny the resurrection, they are of all men “most pitiable.” The danger is when we detach from what Jesus has done in the resurrection, our faith becomes vain, empty, meaningless, worthless; and now Paul adds two more words - futile and pitiful. Doesn’t this sound vaguely familiar to the American church which is often immoral, ineffective, heretical, divided, and assimilating cultural norms and masquerading them as spiritual forms of worship? We have, as they, pulled the plug from our souls that holds us to the resurrection. Because of it, we should seriously consider our message, faith, doctrine, mission, and morals. Listen to Audio

A Laymen's Guide to Desiring God

We made the decision, a tad over a year ago, to use the Masterwork series with several of the educational groups here at Ridgecrest . I must admit that the folks at Masterwork/Lifeway have caused me to sweat more than once. The most recent sweat came from their adaptation of pastor Ralph Douglas West’s interpretation of Ruth 3. I posted my response to this and have since moved on. Though I have moved on, that moment caused me to enter into a new discipline as a part of my pastoral leadership, that is the discipline of seriously reading educational literature before anyone else does. This has caused me a few more hours of work away from sermon preparation, but at this time I feel it extremely necessary. I feel it extremely necessary because the philosophy behind the Masterworks series (which I think I understand and at this time endorse) is a good one, but it is far less safe for lay teachers. In adapting material written from a wide range of authors, from a wide range of convic