acresofhope: (warrior princess)
I just started reading John Piper's book Future Grace. Actually, I'm not even done with the first introduction yet (it has two). I was just hit hard by a couple of paragraphs and wanted to share, so I've stopped reading at the moment.

The book has grown out of the conviction that behind most wrong living is wrong thinking. Jesus calls us, for example, to a radical purity. But I find that many Christians have no categories for thinking clearly about the commands and warnings and promises of Jesus. When he says that we should pluck out your lusting eye, he backs it up with a warning: "It is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell" (Matthew 5:29). Threats of going to hell because of lust are simply not the way contemporary Christians usually talk or think. This is not because such warnings aren't in the Bible, but because we don't know how to fit them together with other thoughts about grace and faith and eternal security. We nullify the force of Jesus' words because our conceptual framework is disfigured. Our Christian living is lamed by sub-Christian thinking about living.

I have found in twenty years of preaching and teaching and struggling with people who want to be authentic Christians, that the way they think about Christian living is often absorbed from the cultural air we breathe rather than learned from categories of Scripture. Not only that, some of the inherited categories of "Christian" thinking are so out of sync with the Bible that they work against the very obedience they are designed to promote.

Yes...this is a problem, and most likely the problem I have. I hope he's going to get to explaining about that threat of hell, because yes, I am confused about how it fits in. Not to mention freaked out because lust is a big problem for me. But mainly, I think his point is this: read your Bible, folks.
acresofhope: (live - move - be)
Guess what? I've been listening to Piper again. He just so refreshingly weird! Okay, so that's not the only reason I like him, just one. He also has funny pictures of himself on his website! ^_^ He also grew up not far from where I live. And he explains the Bible instead of telling lots of stories, and he's the first one to tell you "John Piper is BAD!" After all, if he were perfect, I wouldn't like him. Only person that can be perfect without being annoying is Jesus. Seriously, I don't see how anyone could hate Him. He rocks! To which He says, "I should, I made rocks." *falls over* He makes me laugh!

Anyway, this is probably the clearest, most beautiful telling of something we Christians call the Gospel (good news) from a modern preacher in years ever, appropriately titled "The Greatest Thing in the World". Conversely, it could also be the most offensive telling of the gospel, depending on how you look at things. Either way, anyone who is reading this, please, check it out. I would be satisfied if you just read the summary, but I suggest listening. I know some of you aren't Christians and probably don't want to be, but if you really believe what you believe, whatever that might be, one sermon by some weirdo with funny pictures isn't going to hurt you. Besides, it might help you understand why I haven't killed myself. But if not, you can at least be entertained. *pokes Piper* Weirdo.
acresofhope: (the eyes)
Well, a few days ago I talked about something that made me really happy, and now, I will tell you what is was. Which is why the subject of this post is the rest of the lyric from A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes. All of it wouldn't fit in the last subject. Neat how that worked out.

I listened to part one and two of "But I Say to You, Love Your Enemies". Somehow, no matter the subject he's teaching on, this guy ends up going back to the gospel. To him, it's central to everything and to take your eyes off grace for a moment is setting yourself up for disobedience.

But I'm getting off track.

The very first word of the Sermon on the Mount—and this is no mistake—is, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." We don't enter the kingdom of heaven because of the moral resources that we bring; we enter by confessing with tears our poverty of spirit.

In Mark 10:15 Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all." It is a gift to the poor in spirit who are broken and childlike and have no airs of self-sufficiency.

In Mark 2:17 Jesus said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." We enter the kingdom poor in spirit, helpless as a child, sick and in need of a spiritual physician.

This is what Jesus was doing when he ate with tax collectors and sinners—he was pursuing the poor and the helpless and the sick. And the self-sufficient murmured, "This man receives sinners and eats with them" (Luke 15:2). And when they said that, Jesus told them the parable of the prodigal son. And the point was: I don't eat with sinners because I like sin. I eat with sinners because I am the love of God welcoming home poor, helpless, diseased sinners—forgiving them, cleansing them, making them new, and sending them out to love in the power of God.

Which is why he could say to the priests and elders in Matthew 21:31, "Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots are going into the kingdom of God before you."

How can this be: sinners and harlots going into the kingdom of God? The bottom line answer Jesus gave: "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). He came to die for them—for us.

I was sitting there, listening to his words (which are only summarized in the transcript) and getting excited, especially the parts about being sick and "prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you." (Matt 21:31 ESV) Now I was never a prostitute, but I was close enough to it to identify with that. I was so excited that I jumped up out of my seat and was like "Me! That's me!"

As soon as I did it, I realized how crazy I must have looked. How odd is it to say "Yay, I'm a sick whore!" I mean, I'm certainly not happy that I have all these issues or that I'm so bent to let Him down. I guess the part I'm happy about is that I know He has forgiven me, and I know He has, in one sense, cleansed me, and in another sense, is still cleansing me and making me new.

I guess that's the whole point of the sermon though, isn't it? Jesus loved His enemies. How can you claim to follow someone like that, who is perfect and has every right to hate His enemies, and not love your own enemies? Sounds pretty impossible to me. Maybe it'd be a gradual thing, but you'd love your enemies.
acresofhope: (heartbeat racing)
*flushes toilet*


Bye bye depression!

I feel really good today, because of something wonderful John Piper reminded me of. I'll post about it later. Right now, I gotta go do stuff.
acresofhope: (live - move - be)
I got my last post in before LJ went poof for who knows how long. Seriously, who knows how long? Cause I think I was sleeping most of the time.

So I'm sitting here with a cup of tea (green, decaf, hot), about to listen to a John Piper sermon. Not that I couldn't listen to a sermon when I get to church, but...and I feel bad saying this about my pastor...the guy doesn't dig very deep. I could learn everything he teaches by simply reading the text. He tells funny stories and preaches truth things, but...meh.

I'm really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. Deb (the sis) and Jeff (the soon to be 20 year old bro) aren't going to be here, but that's okay. Jeff will be here for Christmas (or so I understand). But I have a totally new perspective this year, or new in that I haven't had this kind of vision in a long time. I am actually humble enough to see the things there are to be thankful for, and that itself is something to be thankful for. I'm looking forward to the annual gathering at the student minister's house. There are some people I know will be there that I'm anxious to see. I also get to share my Thanksgiving tradition of watching The Passion with my brother Brandon. I told him he could watch it when he turned 13, and he has. The challenge is keeping Greg (8) out of the room.

And I just thought of something. Chris (nearly 18...and I have now mentioned all my siblings) is a Christian now, so maybe he could watch The Passion with us?

Well, I need to stop writing now, if I ever hope to get to church on time.
acresofhope: (at His feet)
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9-21 ESV

I have just finished listening to a sermon from John Piper on these verses. Boy, does this hit home. Yet another ouch moment.

I don't even know how to respond to this. I have complained and, most likely, repaid evil for evil. And even now, I am tempted to excuse myself by saying not that it is not in the way that some would think I have. It really doesn't matter which way I have. I shouldn't have, plain and simple.

I want to obey this now, even if I haven't been...but where does the genuineness come from? How do I genuinely bless and not curse? I don't know how to do that! All I can do is fall on my face before God and scream, "PLEASE, TEACH ME!" and hope, with a Biblical kind of hope that is better described as expectation, for a miracle.
acresofhope: (kira strength)
Work tonight. Oy vey.

But first, Desiring God Radio. Maybe then I can work without complaining.


Nov. 1st, 2006 08:04 am
acresofhope: (Snoopy writer's block)

I like Albert Einstein. He said things like "Never underestimate your own ignorance" and "When all think alike, no one thinks very much."

I like G.K. Chesterton. He said things like "If there were no God, there would be no Atheists" and "Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese."

I like Shakespeare. He said things like "The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose" and "I am not bound to please thee with my answers."

I like C. S. Lewis. He said things like "I have found a desire within myself that no experience in this world can satisfy; the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world" and "God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing."

Why exactly am I saying all this? I'm not sure. I was just up and thought I'd say something. And use my nifty Snoopy icon.

But seriously, I can finally say I am at peace about things. Not that everything is "all good", because there is a lot of bad. I am at peace, though, because God is going to take care of it and I'm not going to worry about it. Not saying I'm not going to pray about it; I already have been. God spoke through one of John Piper's messages, and He says I can pester Him about stuff ^_^ For some odd reason, that makes me smile. Maybe I'll post more about that later, but now I need sleep.
acresofhope: (Christian hedonist)
I have just started reading When I Don't Desire God by John Piper, thanks to the free resources of the Desiring God website. It's a very important thing for me to do at the moment, because though God is someone I desire, there are so many things I desire more.

I desire comfort more than God.
I desire friends more than God.
I desire entertainment more than God.
I desire rest/sleep more than God.
I desire sexual pleasure more than God.

The last one was hardest to type, simply because I'd like to say I'm done with the things of my past. Recent events have totally opened my eyes. I look at my reflection, staring at the ugly thing of a woman I see before me and think to myself, "I thought I got rid of her." But here she is, back from the dead. Maybe I should contact [ profile] zombiekillers.

And I want to smack myself for making a joke about something so serious.

I remember talking about this with the student minister of my church. I think it was before I was even a Christian. I told him about how there were loads of things I wanted to stop doing, but there was some part of me that still wanted to do them. I talked about how much I hated this war that was always going on inside of me. He told me it'll always be like this as long as this life lasts, and he's absolutely right.

It's depressing for me, because I want it all to stop. Sin can be so subtle at times and fighting against it is hard work. I just want to stop hurting people, stop hurting myself, stop hurting God. I just want it to stop.

In the opening chapter of Piper's book, he talks about something he calls "Christian hedonism". His shortest summary of it is this: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. The goal of a Christian hedonist is to joy in Christ above all else.

I'm not sure if I understand all of this correctly, so I'll stop at that. What I will say, though, is that my one wish is to desire God above everything else, because in the end, only He is worth treasuring. Everything else is meaningless, and anything that has meaning only has meaning because of Him. Family, friends, whoever I end up marrying, any kids I might's all meaningless if He's not in the center of everything.

All of this, though, is humanly impossible. God will have to perform some sort of miracle in me if I'm ever to even get my feet off the ground. I don't understand it how all that works, how I'm deciding but He's going to do it for me...but I'm praying and trusting He'll take care of it all. Even if I knew and understood, I couldn't do it.

Don't ever be comfortable with where you are with God, live off past experiences or think you have "arrived". It's just not good for you. If you're not moving forward with Him, you'll just end up sliding backward (which I guess is where the term "backsliding" comes from). Sure, if you fall in a hole, God can get you out of it, but don't ever think there aren't consequences.

Praise be to God that there is still hope for me.

(cross-posted in no_compromise, christianbook and armyofchrist)


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