Archive for October, 2009

October 15, 2009

John Piper and his 30 years of ministry

Justin Taylor’s blog yesterday is worth reading. I was pointed there by another elder at Hanley Road Church. The address is: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/.
Approaching 30 years in one pastorate is God exulting. Of course, so is an itinerant ministry such as Paul’s missionary journeys. It is all about being God led and God satisfied. A few personal thoughts on John Piper and God’s use of him in my life.
There is no person alive today who has more influence upon my journey, whom I have not personally known, than John Piper. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the biggest (at least as I understand them now) follow:
1. God’s glory from beginning to the end of Scripture is highlighted in a fluid way in John Piper’s sermons, thoughts and writings. Impressively, this high view of God’s glory is balanced both in detail exegetical work, as well as broader summaries of biblical texts. In this respect, JPiper has shown balance and, in my estimation, harmony with Scripture on a whole as to God’s ultimate and penultimate purposes.
2. Learning how to ask the hard questions of Scripture. This truly is a skill that is all too often lacking in our personal lives. As a pastor to other pastors I would say that this is one of the skills that is imperative for us to refine. Part of the issue is we don’t even know that we are not asking the hard questions. God has given us a grace-drenched example to learn from. However, learning how to ask the hard questions is actually an outcropping of another skill. This skill is learning to have in-depth conversation with God concerning his word through memorization, marinating, meditation, praying and returning again and again to the text prior to preaching/teaching it. I have found that when there are not other believers to talk things out with that pen and paper (journaling the verses) works tremendously. He shows us how to be people serious about God’s Holy Word.
3. As a pastor, recognizing that your flock will most likely go only as deep as you go in searching Scripture and that your flock will only commit as much as you have committed. The military mantra “Lead by Example” is true here and Piper exemplifies it. It starts with (2) in that as a pastor I must always address what God is saying to me from Scripture. This happens with the journaling. When confronted with the Great I AM – I must ask the hard, guiding question “Am I?” Am I being humble? Am I fighting for my faith? Am I self-righteous? Am I seeking salvation through works of the law? Am I desiring to be a teacher of the law although I don’t understand what it is saying? Am I bankrupt in heart? Am I turning to God as my refuge? Am I giving God praise and exultation? Am I? Am I? Am I? JPiper’s life exemplifies this. This is why I praise God for this man’s example.
4. Arcing – while not his originally he has brought it into a more prominent view. What a wonderful interpretive tool as we labor of God’s Word. It is hard, but we mine for gold. We say to God that he is our teacher and we are very interested in what he has to teach us – all of it. It is hard – it is labor intensive, it is hard to understand at points – but we want to know because it is God who tells us. We don’t want to be people who tell God that even though he thinks it important for us to know that we just aren’t interested or that it just is not worth the struggle. But how to do it? Arcing is a tool that helps in our pursuit of coming to terms with what God has revealed to us.
So, Praise be to God for how he works in people as exemplified in John Piper’s life.