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What a humble man is John Piper. Praise God for the impact of this book, published 25 years ago.

Watch the video on his website as he talks about it.

JP always has something worthwhile to say. At least, I don’t think I have ever been to his website or blog and not found something good* to think about. This morning there was an article entitled Does God Lie? Obviously, the short answer is ‘no’ but there is more to say about it than that because God governs all things in the universe, including the sins of sinful men. Read the whole article here.

*by good I mean, when I bother to read it, it benefits me intellectually and spiritually.

John Piper recommends this bible reading plan in ‘When I Don’t Desire God’ and I have been meaning to download it since I read about it yonks ago.

The plan has only 25 days reading per month, which is fab for me because (realistically) I will miss days here and there. In that past when I’ve followed a plan, I get behind, feel out of the swing of things and give up! This way I can catch up on the leftover days. <big smile> Someone like Bette, who’ll never get behind, could use the leftover days to do some special reading.

Also Diane suggested that if the 4 readings (2 x OT, 2 x NT) were too much for one day, you could just read one OT and one NT and take it over two years.

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Alan saves quotes. He’s been doing it for years. When he reads a good’n, he bothers to write it down. This is great because then I can say “who was that guy who said such and such”. Keep it up bro’.

Today he gave me these from his storehouse:

“True Christians find by experience, that any interruption in the exercise of their faith, causes holy affections to decline, their corruptions to revive, and their comforts to droop”
– Matthew Henry (on John 15:1-8)

“First get your facts; then you can distort them at your leisure.”
– Mark Twain

I was going to email this to someone, but decided maybe others would be blessed by reading this quote (yet again) from JP.

“The world and its God-ignoring, all embracing secularism is pervasive. It invades my mind every day. What hope is there to have a mind filled with Christ except to have a mind filled with his Word?” (Piper)

Below is a series of quotes (from the books I am reading) which help me focus on the importance of the bible and prayer in my life. I hope these are encouraging. My experience says, it won’t happen (the enjoyment) until you do it. Here are the quotes:

“Sinless as He was, He was an example of diligent communion with His Father” (Ryle) and “If Jesus was himself the Word of God… and yet he depended on Scripture to deflect the temptations of the devil, so should we…..” (Piper)

“The hurrying, bustling times imperil our souls” (Ryle)

“The spiritually careless are inevitably prayerless” (Ryle) and on the similar note: “Most Christians neglect their bibles not out of conscious disloyalty to Jesus, but because of failure to plan a time and place and method to read it” (Piper)

“It is blessed to eat into the very soul of the bible until, at last, you come to talk in scriptural language, and your spirit is flavoured with the words of the Lord, so that your blood is bibline and the very essence of the bible flows from you.” (Spurgeon out of Piper) wow, how about if we talked to each other like that?

“In what way shall we attain to this settled happiness of soul? How shall we learn to enjoy God? How shall we obtain such an all-sufficient soul-satisfying portion in him as shall enable us to let go the things of this world as vain and worthless in comparison? I answer, this happiness is to be obtained through the study of the Holy Scriptures. God has therein revealed Himself unto us in the face of Jesus Christ.” and

“Now…I would give a few hints to my younger fellow-believers as to the way in which to keep up spiritual enjoyment . It is absolutely needful…we should read regularly through the scriptures, consecutively, and not pick out here and there a chapter. If we do, we remain spiritual dwarfs. I tell you so affectionately. For the first four years after my conversion I made no progress, because I neglected the bible. But when I regularly read on through the whole with reference to my own heart and and soul, I directly made progress. Then my peace and joy continued more and more. Now I have been doing this for 47 years. I have read through the whole bible about 100 times and I always find it fresh when I begin again. Thus my peace and joy have increased more and more.” (Mueller)

This morning I had an encouraging conversation with Joe. During the course of our discussion Joe made the comment that the encouragement he receives from a particular ministry is too idealistic. I heard what he was saying. I’ve felt the same thing before.

Lately however, the shoe seems to be on the other foot for me. Often it appears people are so worldly-focused as to be disinterested in growing in godliness. I have been churning (and churning) over the question of how on earth you encourage anyone at all. If the idealism of living the Christian life seems too far above our human pursuits is there any point? How do the two relate? How can I encourage another to “live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age”(Titus 2: 12) without sounding idealistic? What about the injunction, “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”? (1 Cor 10:31)

Many bible verses talk about human pursuits; God designated times for feasts, it is clear that people drank wine and shared jokes, Paul was involved in commerce as a tentmaker. The fact that we have been created human (and yet in God’s image) should indicate the significance of our humanity. But why?

Surely those bible verses are talking about more than just moralism? Could it be a matter of perspective? Is there something important we may have forgotten?

Let me share an analogy from John Piper* which perhaps illustrates the two different perspectives we can take:

“The[re is] a fight to grasp and marvel at what happened in the death of Christ – and what it reveals about our suffering Saviour. If it were not for the death of Jesus in our place, the only possible joy [in life] would be the joy of delusion – like the joy on the Titanic just before it hit the iceberg. Without the cross, joy could be sustained only by denying (consciously or subconsciously) the inevitability of divine judgment. In fact, that’s the kind of joy that drives most of the world – a joy that preserves the power of its pleasures by being oblivious to the peril just ahead. If the passengers were suddenly made aware that in a matter of hours most of them would drown in the icy ocean, all their merrymaking would cease. Their joy depends on their ignorance.

However, if the passengers knew that the ocean liner would sink, but that a great armada of utterly dependable ships and sailors was already on the way and would arrive and save everyone who followed their instructions, something very different would happen. To be sure, the lighthearted merrymaking would cease, and a great seriousness would spread over the Titanic; but there would be a different kind of joy – a deep sense of gratitude for the rescuers, and a deep sense of hope that, though much would be lost, life would be saved. Some may panic in unbelief, doubting the promise of rescue. But others would rise to the strength of hope and do great acts of love in preparation for the coming destruction…

We are on a doomed Titanic because of our sin – all of us without exception…The sinful ship of our lives is headed for everlasting ruin because of God’s righteousness and wrath. Without a Saviour, that’s the reality we must keep out of our minds in order to be happy on the Titanic of this world.” (italics mine)

Surely keeping God’s righteousness and wrath, and our rescue in our minds causes us to have that different kind of joy. And doesn’t this make our human pursuits much, much, more meaningful? And mightn’t this make us seem (when our focus is so different) idealistic?

Thank you Joe. (for getting me to at least think about how to attack this question)

*from When I Don’t Desire God; How to Fight for Joy

Phil 3: 8, 9 What is more, I consider everything, [every interest, every human pursuit] a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him…

I’ve been reading When I Don’t Desire God – How to Fight for Joy by John Piper. Here’s a quote I read this morning:

When Jesus says, “I am the bread of life;…whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35), he is saying that “believing” in him includes a taste for the living water of his all-satisfying glory, so that the believing heart will never thirst again. That is, faith, having tasted the all-satisfying sweetness of the living Christ, will never forsake him in preference for the broken cisterns of the world. (Jer 2:13) There may be temporary strayings and backslidings. There may be great soul-conflict. But once the soul has truly tasted the water of life and the bread of heaven, it will never finally forsake the Lord.

He goes on to talk about how, in the western church, we have let go of Paul’s admonition to “Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (1 Tim 6:12) by allowing a devil-may-care, cavalier, superficial attitude toward the ongoing, daily intensity of personal joy in Christ, because people do not believe that their eternal life depends on it.

hmmm…

I read this paragraph today on the girltalk blog. As always they have good stuff to say but this quote from John Piper on worldliness is particularly insightful:

“If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”

Oh that we could develop strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God!

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