3 Things every pastor should say during Christmas

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Yesterday I talked about the value of old things and how consumerism keeps us from understanding and seeing the value in redeeming something old rather than always looking for the rush something new provides. One of the mistakes many pastors (kids pastors, youth pastors and senior pastor alike) make is during Christmas we demonize culture rather than show people how to redeem it. If you attend church during Christmas in most churches you will hear some form of this rant. “Christmas is not about stuff, or buying things, we need to put Christ back in Christmas.” While this is true it falls short. The church for the past few years has done a good job of talking about what Christmas isn’t and haven’t done a good enough job describing the beauty of Christ.

Logos: John Piper Sermon Manuscript Library

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One of the latest additions to the Logos library is the sermon manuscript library from John Piper. Like Keller I believe Piper through his obvious teaching gift has done a great service to the Church by cataloging their messages. Both Keller and Piper tend to preach more exegetically. When you have 30 years of messages from these two profound teachers you have many Bible passages covered.

Piper and Keller are not the first pastors to have their messages turned into a commentary, John Calvin, Matthew Henry, R C Sproul are just a few who have done this. What make Keller and Piper unique in the set of pastor theologians is they are parsing scripture from a postmodern vantage point. There are many similarities between our world now and Matthew Henry’s world. There are also vast differences.

Are you a Christian Hedonist?

Desiring God

I am a big John Piper fan but have only recently gotten around to reading his book Desiring God – Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. In this book Pastor Piper delivers a compelling argument that our lives as Christians are to be lived chasing satisfaction, joy with reckless abandonment so long as the pursuit of those things find their purpose in God and ultimately glorify Him.

The theme throughout this book that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” God gets the glory and we get the joy. Such a powerful thought. That thought alone is worth the price of the book. This truth is so fundamental. As a pastor I see so much dysfunction in people trying to be happy rather than finding their joy in God. I find myself so often allowing my service to Christ and others to be what it was never intended to be. I am created to glorify God not through depriving myself of happiness but in finding my happiness in Christ.

CS Lewis explains this concept so beautifully “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

Every chapter had a few points that really rang true. The chapters that challenged me most personally were Money, Missions and Suffering. I plan on adding this book to a short list of books I reread.

Desiring God should be read by every christian at least once in their lives because of the truth Piper pulls from scripture are so precisely accurate and so horribly convicting.

Here are a few quotes that stood out to me.

In the New Testament, God is clearly active, creating a people for Himself by calling them out of darkness and enabling them to believe the gospel and walk in the light. John teaches most clearly that regeneration precedes and enables faith.

The pursuit of joy in God is not optional

Saving faith is the heartfelt conviction not only that Christ is reliable but also that He is desirable.

True worship must include inward feelings that reflect the worth of God’s glory. If this were not so, the word hypocrite would have no meaning.

The great hindrance to worship is not that we are a pleasure-seeking people, but that we are willing to settle for such pitiful pleasures.

Love is the overflow of joy in God that meets the needs of others.

Faith is born and sustained by the Word of God, and out of faith grows the flower of joy.

A failure in our prayer life is generally a failure to know Jesus.

Prayer is the antidote for the disease of self-confidence.

The great danger of riches is that our affections will be carried away from God to His gifts.

Generosity confirms that our hope is in God, not in ourselves or our money.

My assumption is that people without the gospel are without hope, because only the gospel can free them from their sin.

Suffering of sickness and suffering of persecution have this in common: They are both intended by Satan for the destruction of our faith and governed by God for the purifying of our faith.

How many Christians do you know who could say, “The lifestyle I have chosen as a Christian would be utterly foolish and pitiable if there is no resurrection”?

God’s universal purpose for all Christian Suffering: more contentment in God and less satisfaction in self and the world.

Paul’s suffering complex Christ’s afflictions not by adding anything to their worth, but by extending them to the people they were meant to save.

In the pursuit of joy through suffering, we magnify the all-satisfying worth of the Source of our joy. God Himself shines as the brightness at the end of our tunnel of pain. If we do not communicate that He is the goal and the ground of our joy in suffering, then the very meaning of our suffering will be lost. The meaning is this: God is gain. God is gain. God is gain.

*I was provided a free copy of Desiring God by Multnomah press in exchange for my willingness to write an honest and personal review of the book.

What would you tell the next generation of Church leaders?

Yesterday I blogged about having a platform before you have a message and the dangers associated with that. Well here is someone who has spent his life crafting a message. I have an enormous amount of respect for John Piper here is one of the powerful messages that God has allowed him to share with the church.

What would you tell the next generation of church leaders?

 

How do I send my kids to school on monday?

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After the unspeakable events of last friday there are not words that make sense of what took place. There are no words that can be said that would help bring comfort. Our nation is overcome with a collective sense of grief. Any time a child dies it is hard to understand, digest or explain. When multiple children die it’s horrific.

The question I hear most parents saying and I find myself thinking. “How do I send my kids to school on monday?” My wife asked me this very question here is how I responded perhaps it will help another parent out there. Here is why I am sending my kids to school tomorrow.

1. We as parents must create an environment where our kids can thrive and can become all that God has designed them to be. We can not however protect and shield our kids from everything. We have to demonstrate to our kids through any way that we can that ultimately we trust God more than anything. Christ is our cornerstone he is the reference point of our life. When life is good He is that reference point when life is painful He is our source He is our life. Our hope as a parent can never lie wholly in our ability to keep our kids from harm, our hope has to be ultimately in Jesus alone.

2. See Christ as more valuable than anything else. – Paul says in Philippians “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” He understood something we so often forget. If Jesus is truly most valuable to us if we lose everything in life we are ok because we have Jesus. If we die we win in death because we get Jesus.

3. Sin produces death. I believe more than any political stance that the events of last friday are more about us seeing the results of us trying to live our lives apart from Christ. What gives me hope is that Jesus came to bring us hope and He is coming again to make all the sad things untrue.

The last thing I believe we should do as parents is boil this horrible event down to a republican/democrat thing. Our roll as a Christ follower is to point people to Jesus, to pray for those effected and to not pull away from the world or shield our children from the world  as it grows darker but to do as exiled Jews were commanded in Jeremiah “seek the welfare of the city, build houses, plant gardens….take wives and have sons and daughters.” In times like these we need to demonstrate to our kids what it means to draw near to God.

 Jeremiah 29:4-14
4“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream,a9for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD.

10“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfareb and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Here are two great posts from John Piper who is exactly one million times more eloquent than I.

How does Jesus come to Newton?
A Lesson for all from Newton.