Posts Tagged john piper

Real-Life 21st Century Martyrdom

The pastors of the Acts29 Network are grieving this week as we’ve learned of the death of one of our fellow pastors in Pakistan. For the last few weeks, we had been receiving updates that this pastor and his brother had been arrested for allegedly blaspheming the prophet Muhammad. Indications are that these men were wrongly accused as a form of persecution in the almost totally Muslim area.

Here are a few things on my mind as I consider this series of events:

  1. Persecution is still a serious reality in the world. I tend to forget that many people around the world continue to suffer imprisonment and death for the sake of Jesus. These brothers and sisters desperately need prayer (for specific opportunities for prayer, visit Voice of the Martyrs).
  2. My problems are small. The challenges I face and the troubles that seem like a big deal to me are quite small in comparison to true persecution. This is a helpful perspective to remember.
  3. God has a specific plan for martyrs to give him glory. I keep meditating on Revelation 6:10-11 – ‘They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.’ God has a plan and it will not be done until the number of martyrs is complete. Then he will avenge their blood. Look out.
  4. What an honor it is to die for Jesus! True martyrs are not those who are looking for death (i.e. suicide bombers). True martyrs are those who are faithfully serving Jesus and are killed as a result. The apostles counted it a joy to be worthy of suffering for Jesus’ name. How much more would it be an eternal honor to die for him?!
  5. Jesus’ Church will flourish. The old saying goes, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” and history has proven this to be so. When persecution is strong, Jesus is shown to be more valuable than life itself. When this happens, people see his glory and live for him. Jesus builds his church and hell’s gates won’t prevail against it.

In conclusion, let me recommend John Piper’s powerful message, “Doing Missions When Dying is Gain.” It’s worth your time. Pray for Rashid’s family. Pray for God to turn this death for good. And pray that the fame of Jesus would spread.

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Are You Feeding Your Faith?

Check out this brief, brilliant article by John Piper, “Please Feed Me More!”

His opening paragraph:

Faith feeds on the word of God. Without a steady diet it gets weaker and weaker. If you are dissatisfied with your Christian courage and joy and purity of heart, check the way you are feeding your faith.

May you feed your soul as much as you’ll feed your body this Thanksgiving!

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A Challenge to Women

Last Sunday at Second Mile we studied God’s command for wives to submit to their husbands. As a follow up, I wanted to recommend John Piper’s article, “A Challenge to Women,” where he offers 15 challenges for godly women to embrace their unique and wonderful design.

Click here to read the article.

Which of these stand out to you the most?



Set Your Mind on Christ Challenge – Day 4

How’s it going? You hanging with us in the challenge? It has been a lot to read, but it has also been so refreshing to be washed over with God’s word. Below you’ll find some of my thoughts and observations on Luke 12-16. The comments so far have been great, so keep them coming. Also, here are a few resources that might help you go deeper into a few different aspects of today’s reading:


  • Jesus makes it so abundantly clear that having a good relationship with God is the most important thing a person could have (12:5, 8, 21).
  • Jesus says that our life is more than the abundance of possessions (12:15).
  • Jesus says that the times that we might be most worried about our finances is the time that we should be generous and trust God (12:22-34).
  • The more you know, the more God expects of you (12:47).
  • Human and natural disasters should serve as warnings that we need to repent (13:2-5).
  • The Sabbath was designed for healthful, life-giving rest, not restriction (13:16; 14:5).
  • People from all over the world will be saved (13:29), but the door into the kingdom is narrow (13:24).
  • Jesus-centered living is humble (14:11) and wildly generous (14:12-14).
  • The things that keep us from Jesus are not always the bad things, but the ordinary good things — like land, oxen, and a wife — that we love more than him (14:18-20).
    • About this, John Piper has written: “The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for Heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18-20). The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable…“The pleasures of this life” … are not evil in themselves. These are not vices. These are gifts of God. They are your basic meat and potatoes and coffee and gardening and reading and decorating and traveling and investing and TV-watching and Internet-surfing and shopping and exercising and collecting and talking. And all of them can become deadly substitutes for God.” (John Piper, Hunger for God, 14-15)
  • Following Jesus is costly and the decision to follow him should be taken seriously (14:25-33).
  • God is seeking after those things that are lost, and has great joy when they’re found (ch. 15).
  • God seeks after the rebellious younger brothers and the self-righteous elder brothers, both of whom are alienated from his heart (15:20-32). Listen to Tim Keller preach about this here.
  • Jesus says you can’t serve two masters (16:13).
  • Hell is serious business (16:19-31).

How would I be different if this truth were explosively alive in my innermost being?

  • There is a new level of gravity and life-or-death seriousness that marks Jesus’ teaching in this passage. If that truth were explosively alive in my innermost being, I would take sin more seriously in my own life, more boldly share the gospel with those far from God, fearlessly challenge those who claim to know Christ but don’t have much fruit to show for it, and see people with the compassion that God has for them. That really would be a way of thinking that would be setting my mind on Christ.

What about you? How is God using this passage in your life? Questions or Comments?

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5 Church Leaders Who Have Impacted My Life & Ministry

I’m so thankful for the many great influences that the Lord has put around me at key stages in my life. He has constantly provided key mentors at key moments — real-life people who invest and care. But he’s also provided a number of “distance mentors,” most of whom I’ve never met in person and all of whom I won’t have a personal relationship with. Nonetheless, these are good leaders who have helped me learn important lessons that have shaped my ministry and leadership. Here are five that I’m particularly thankful for:

1. John Piper

Piper is the pastor of preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN and the key resource behind DesiringGod. His writing and preaching have formed me in deep and powerful ways. Nobody articulates a passion for the supremacy of God better than him and it’s contagious. If I have any heart for the sovereignty of God, reformed theology, or a tender-hearted compassion for the hurting it’s owing greatly to Piper’s ministry. You can get 25+ years of Piper resources here and follow him on Twitter here (this is worth having a Twitter account all by itself).

2. Tim Keller

Keller is the founding and senior minister at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, NY. Keller’s richest gift to me has been his understanding and articulation of the gospel. His ability to connect everything in the Scripture to the gospel is profound and instructive for any young preacher. Additionally, Keller has great perspectives on understanding and engaging culture, as well as church planting. You can get a bunch of free audio and written resources here.

3. Andy Stanley

Stanley is the founding pastor of NorthPoint Community Church in Alpharetta, GA. The son of well-known preacher Charles Stanley, he has blazed a trail in his own right. The key lessons I’ve learned from him have been 1) the importance of creating relevant ministry environments that engage people where they’re at, 2) the importance of communicating one point with clarity, passion, and creativity, and 3) a variety of leadership lessons. When it comes to their preaching, Stanley and Piper could not be more different, and I’ve learned great things about communicating the gospel from both of them. You can listen to Stanley’s sermons here, his Leadership Podcast here, and his 7 Practices of Effective Ministry here.

4. James MacDonald

James MacDonald is the founding pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, IL and can be heard all over the place through his Walk in the Word radio ministry. It’s only been in the last year that I’ve really begun to listen to him, and almost everything he says and does communicates one idea: “The Bible is sufficient.” MacDonald loves God’s word and preaches it with passion, clarity, and conviction. I often find myself listening to him on Friday and Saturday just because he stokes my passion for God and his word as I prepare my heart to preach. You can listen to his radio podcast here, read his blog here, or listen to his Straight Up Conference messages here.

5. Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is the founding pastor of The Journey Church, also in Manhattan, NYC and the founder of Church Leader Insights. Formerly a key staff person with Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven ministry, Searcy is a master of church systems. He has been helpful for me as we worked through key strategies related to planting Second Mile and as we developed our first impressions, follow up, and community group ministries. He’s a former engineer and brings that kind of systematic thinking into the church in a way that I find helpful. Though I would guess we would differ on certain theological convictions, we share a common desire to see people love Jesus, and Searcy’s ideas have been very helpful.You can listen to his Church Leader Insights podcast here.

This list reminds me that even the most admired people are really only good at a few things. Thus, it’s crucial to be able to learn different things from different people — even those whom you would not agree with on all doctrinal or philosophical points.

Who have you learned from and what did you learn?

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Don’t-Miss Resource: Let the Nations Be Glad, Part 1

For over two decades, John Piper has blown the trumpet for the cause of international missions. He recently spoke at the Advance09 conference about the importance of caring about God’s work around the world among unreached people. Having been to India recently, this talk was particularly relevant and encouraged me about our partnership there.

Click here for the audio.

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Don’t-Miss Resource: A Conversation with MacArthur & Piper

Two of my favorite and most helpful Bible teachers over the years have been John MacArthur and John Piper. In this incredible interview, they talk about their lives, ministries, struggles, regrets, and passions in a way that I find encouraging and instructive. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Click here to download the audio.

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My Shell Collection!

Yesterday I quoted from John Piper’s message, “Boasting in the Cross,” about what real tragedy is. Here’s a video (sorry, best quality I could find) of Piper delivering this himself at Passion OneDay 2000. The part that I quoted begins around 3:50.



Why do we have to sleep?

You may notice that the time of day for this post is way too early. No, it’s not because I’m such a devout person and wake up every day at 4am to pursue every spiritual discipline before the rest of the world is even awake. It’s actually because I had a crazy dream, woke up, and my mind started racing. I’m going to feel the pain around 3pm, as I’m a person who really needs a good chunk of sleep to keep going strong.

Have you ever wondered why God created us to sleep? He could have made us without this need. In John Piper’s short article, “A Brief Theology of Sleep,” he includes this as one of the reasons:

Sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God. “He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4). But Israel will. For we are not God. Once a day God sends us to bed like patients with a sickness. The sickness is a chronic tendency to think we are in control and that our work is indispensable. To cure us of this disease God turns us into helpless sacks of sand once a day. How humiliating to the self-made corporate executive that he has to give up all control and become as limp as a suckling infant every day.

Read the whole article.

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Lessons from John G. Paton

Every year at his pastor’s conference, John Piper does a biographical message on some influential Christian of the past. They are typically very encouraging and insightful (click here for a full list). One of my favorites is his message on the life of John G. Paton, who was a missionary to the New Hebrides islands. This message inspired me to read Paton’s autobiography, which is absolutely riveting–it’s like reading an adventure novel.

Anyway, this is a great message about courage, faith, parenting, and enduring suffering in a way that honors God.

Click here to listen to the message.

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