Last year, it was Haiti…this year we’ll be a mere 119 miles away in Jamaica.
This Sunday, we are taking 19 people (13 high school students, 5 leaders, 1 local expert) to Annotto Bay, Jamaica to support the Annotto Bay Gospel Chapel with some building projects and hopefully help with evangelism in the local area.
The team is very excited to go, some of us are traveling outside the country for the first time so this is an exciting event – one that we hope will open the eyes of many and also provide invaluable faith-boosting experience. We have much to be thankful for already – God has provided all of our financial support, all of our supplies are purchased, we have been meeting together regularly for prayer and preparation. We have a great group going this year.
One of the things we did to prepare was go through the book, Let the Nations Be Glad, by John Piper. In it, Piper writes, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church, worship is. Missions exist because worship doesn’t.” The gospel message is literally “good news” – but, not only the good news of salvation from sin in Jesus, but the good news that we have a King. A loving and sovereign creator God and our purpose is a life of passionate, joyful, obedient worship of Him. This is a life that transcends circumstances and brings fulfillment, peace, and hope.
We would love for you to pray for us. Please pray for….
Safety in travel and no hiccups thru customs
Protection as we work
Group unity, patience, humility, servant hearts
Opportunities to share Jesus
For the local church to be built up
That according to God’s riches of glory, he will grant us to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith…
This morning I was in Exodus 29 – God specifying how his priests were to be consecrated/set apart/purified. It’s amazing the theme of blood cleansing from sin – to see that throughout the Old and New Testaments – but that’s not really what jumped out.
God specifies that sin offerings are to be made outside the camp – Ex. 29:14
…you shall burn with fire outside the camp; it is a sin offering.
(Exodus 29:14 ESV)
Fast forward to Jesus. Where is he crucified? Outside the city. Hebrews 13 gives us this description:
For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.
(Hebrews 13:11-12 ESV)
The continual Old Testament animal sacrifices were a foreshadowing of the one-time perfect divine sacrifice of Jesus for our sins – he bore all of the sin and shame outside the camp.
So what does this mean for us? Again, Hebrews helps:
Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.
(Hebrews 13:13 ESV)
We are called to be like Jesus, not as a sacrifice for sin, for there can only be one of those – but to leave the comfort and security of “the city” and bring him glory – to be radically committed to Jesus and his Kingdom – which is much different than our man-made kingdoms. We get so trapped in our Americanized Christianity and the comforts of this world – yet, is that what we are really called to do? Do we (I) turn this scripture around and make it more “Stay here where it’s comfortable and warm, let others go outside the camp where it’s cold uncertain and dangerous, they are the ones ‘called’ by God to do great things, I’m just a regular dude with a job, house, mortgage and trying to be cozy.” Ouch. This passage always hurts, and I think that’s the point. But don’t let it just hurt – do something. Go. Outside.
I always think of a John Piper sermon I heard years ago when I read these passages, it was very impactful and I recommend it. You can read it or listen here.
Here is a snippet that will whet your whistle:
So the point of Hebrews 13:14 is confirmed again and again: Christ did not die to make the cities of this age – or the suburbs – a paradise. He died so that we would be willing to stop trying to make our lives paradise on earth – both in the city and in the suburbs, and instead go with Jesus outside the camp of comfort and familiarity and security to where the needs are…
He has a very helpful section to understand Romans 8:37 – “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” I found his insight here very helpful:
What does “more than conquerors” mean? How can you be more than a con- queror when you risk for the cause of God and get hurt for it?
But what must happen in this conflict with famine and sword if you are to be called more than a conqueror? One biblical answer is that a conqueror defeats his enemy, but one who is more than a conqueror subjugates his enemy. A conqueror nullifies the purpose of his enemy; one who is more than a conqueror makes the enemy serve his own purposes. A conqueror strikes down his foe; one who is more than a conqueror makes his foe his slave.
Practically what does this mean? Let’s use Paul’s own words in 2 Corinthians 4:17: “This slight momentary affliction is preparing [effecting, or working, or bringing about] for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” Here we could say that “affliction” is one of the attacking enemies. What has happened in Paul’s conflict with it? It has certainly not separated him from the love of Christ. But even more, it has been taken captive, so to speak. It has been enslaved and made to serve Paul’s everlasting joy. “Affliction,” the former enemy, is now working for Paul. It is preparing for Paul “an eternal weight of glory.” His enemy is now his slave. He has not only conquered his enemy. He has more than conquered him.
The danger in our Americanized Christianity is that we can make it all about us. We aren’t overcomers because we are so strong – it is because Christ has already overcome that he then causes everything to work for his glory and our good. And as Pastor Ed says, those two things are never in conflict.
You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
those who remember you in your ways.
Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;
in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
God meets those who joyfully do things that are pleasing to him.
Here’s an even more pointed passage when Israel refused to serve the Lord with gladness:
Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you.
(Deuteronomy 28:47-48 ESV)
The Bible commands us to serve the Lord with gladness! Have you ever thought that?
OK, yes…this is a struggle, but don’t underestimate this command or how important the Bible says it is. Why is it that we struggle even in church with this? We have been saved from God’s wrath and an eternity in Hell apart from God, yet some days who can tell? Us worship leaders get to see your faces, don’t forget. 🙂
Even still, the reality is that we all struggle with walking in joy. Life is hard and pulls on us, weighing us down. This doesn’t make the command in Scripture any less important. In John Piper’s excellent book “When I Don’t Desire God” he goes through several ways to fight for joy. I highly recommend reading this book if you are struggling to walk in joy and have your mind refreshed in the greatness of our God and the joy that he brings us like nothing else can. Check out the book, pray thru it, soak it in, walk thru the Word with it…and here are a few things to whet your whistle to use in the fight for joy:
1. Realize that authentic joy in God is a gift.
2. Realize that joy must be fought for relentlessly.
3. Resolve to attack all known sin in your life.
4. Learn the secret of gutsy guilt – how to fight like a justified sinner. (Don’t confuse Justification and Sanctification!)
5. Realize that the battle is primarily a fight to see God for who he is.
6. Meditate on the Word of God day and night.
7. Pray earnestly and continually for open heart-eyes and an inclination for God.
8. Learn to preach to yourself rather than listen to yourself.
9. Spend time with God-saturated people who help you see God and fight the fight.
10. Be patient in the night of God’s seeming absence.
11. Get the rest and exercise proper diet that your body was designed by God to have.
12. Make a proper use of God’s revelation in nature.
13. Read great books about God and biographies of great saints.
14. Do the hard and loving thing for the sake of others (witness and mercy).
15. Get a global vision for the cause of Christ and pour yourself out for the unreached.
So, as I was thumbing through one of my other Bibles this morning in search of a different translation of a verse, I noticed a bulge of papers in the front cover. I found a a chapter of a book that someone had copied for me a few years back. That person was Camlon Rooke, now in the Navy, but formerly our Youth Pastor and one who had a tremendous effect on me and many others during his time with us. In fact I was just out to dinner the other night with another local pastor who commented…”Man there was a time where disciples were just pouring out of your place….who was that?!” That…was Pastor Cam. I am really missing him right about now.
Anyway, these last few days for whatever reason, things haven’t been “clicking.” My wife says that I have been “on edge”…yet not sure why. I keep searching the Word, praying, confessing, repenting…but there didn’t seem to be any momentum there. Until I read that old copy of a chapter in the front of an old Bible. The book it was copied from was The Roots of Endurance, by John Piper. In it he says many wonderful encouraging things.
He starts by confronting the misconception that life is supposed to be a pain-free and trouble-free existence. You may have already knew that, but it’s a good reminder. “Frustration is normal, disappointment is normal, sickness is normal. Conflict, persecution, danger, stress – they are all normal.”
Piper asks a key question “How can we keep on loving and serving people when life has so much pain and disappointment? What are the roots of endurance?”
As Hebrews 10:36 says “We have need of endurance.” YES I DO. 🙂 How ’bout you?
So, what do we do? We need to remember that endurance and perseverance are a GIFT from God and we need to beg him for more – to not live for ourselves, but for Him. (2 Cor 5:15)
PRAY for endurance. Like quite possibly my favorite hymn “Come Thou Fount”
O to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be
Let thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, Lord take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.
Piper calls us – “Pray this. Seal my will to your with an unbreakable application of your eternal covenant! Keep me! Preserve me!”
This then, is a command of God that he enables us to do. (Heb 13:20-21) “He promises to do for us what he commands from us…it is not a “just do it” ethic, it is not a moral improvement program, it is not a “Judeo-Christian ethic”…it is a deeply cross-embracing life that knows the Christ of the Bible as the Son of God.”
Amen. Thank you God. Thank you Jesus. (and thanks, Pastor Cam…I miss you brother.)
Still totally digging Bryan Chappell’s “Christ Centered Worship” — in it he has a chapter on “Christ Centered Sermons” which I’ll probably go back to about 103 times.
Some good nuggets this AM, but here is one thought that really stuck out —
…people are not tempted by what they have no desire to do. The only reason that sin has any power in our life is because we love it. If the sin had no attraction for us, it would have no power over us. When love for Christ dominates our affections, sin loses its allure and consequently loses its power. Love for Christ is the power of obedience. Preaching that floods the heart with affection for the Savior simultaneously loosen the hold of false idols on our hearts, chokes the appeal of sin, nourishes the desire for holiness, and stimulates zeal for kingdom purposes.
When love for Chirst is preeminent, doing his will is our greatest compulsion and joy.
Thus the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10)
As Piper says then – “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him” – AMEN!
John 6:44 says: “No one comes to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…”
John Piper had a great sermon on this that I will link to on my blog for future reference…or encouragement.
Excerpt From His Commentary:
This is in absolutely, totally, and undoubtedly not in any conflict whatsoever with your coming freely
by freely i simply mean coming b/c you want to come (freedom = doing what you want to do and not regretting it in years later)
nobody comes to Jesus who doesn’t want to come to Jesus
nobody comes to Jesus who hasn’t chosen to come to Jesus
nobody comes to Jesus who doesn’t come by an act of their own will I’m just saying when you perform that act of will, experience this, when you do come — there’s a reason: GOD
Those whom the Father draws will come to me.
And when we come, we come to him freely…with zero coercion
We come freely with zero constraint
We do what we want to do, or it isn’t faith
Faith sees Him as life, treasure, all…and says YES
There is no constraint here
There is the freest moment of your life
(I think this would shock most anti-Calvinists and Piper-haters. This is also extremely comforting to me, because I was starting to feel like I was a Calvinist nut-job and maybe John Piper was too…I praise God that I heard this sermon this morning. I still may be a nut job (ask my wife) but I feel much more assured and at peace and reinforces where I feel the Lord has me standing)
God is GOD. He is sovereign over ALL.
He knows EVERYTHING.
That’s His JOB. (not yours)
He is drawing you to Him thru His Son and the reconciliation he offers.
You respond to this drawing, you make a choice, of your free will.
…but don’t think for a minute that he didn’t know before the foundation of the world was laid what your choice would be.
…and don’t think for a minute that he didn’t ordain that choice
he’s God. Remember?
Another great post to remember for the future is here
What hits you are the theological weight of these songs, the constant reminder of the Gospel, the constant presentation of the attributes of God. Like “Completely Done” for example:
The old is gone, the new has come
What You complete is completely done
We’re heirs with Christ, the victory won
What you complete is completely done.
I instantly thought of that section in Hebrews 10 —
11And every priest stands(N) daily at his service,(O) offering repeatedly the same sacrifices,(P) which can never take away sins. 12But when Christ[b] had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he(Q) sat down at the right hand of God, 13waiting from that time(R) until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14For by a single offering(S) he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
Christ perfectly completed the work set before Him and perfectly made our reconciliation with God, thru Him we are perfectly accepted, perfectly loved, perfectly adopted as sons, as the song says “heirs” with Christ – not because of our works or anything we can do ourselves, but by the grace of Jesus and His perfect sacrifice. In the old testament days, the priest used to have to stand daily and make many sacrifices. But not so, now that Christ has come and did his work on the cross. He did it once and sat down next to the Father. It’s completely done.
I can’t wait to bring some of these songs back to Green Pond, so get ready kids.
Keith and Kristyn Getty then played a few songs…including a new one for communion called “Behold the Lamb” which was just amazing. Another great new song was “By Faith” I have never seen the Getty’s perform before, I was blown away by their passion for the Gospel and the glory of God. Not sure why I’m surprised…they did write “In Christ Alone”
PIPER, the return
First, I got goosebumps when Piper was on stage with Bob Kauflin…then he made Bob stay and he prayed over him. He prayed that God would give Bob and all of us worship leaders a gift – to be able to be contagious to our congregations to produce JOY in worship of the glory of God. Thank you!
Not sure how I’m going to summarize 5 pages of notes into a blog that someone would actually read all the way thru…so please have mercy on me here.
4In their case(A) the god of this world(B) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing(C) the light of(D) the gospel of the glory of Christ,(E) who is the image of God. 5For what(F) we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with(G) ourselves as your servants[a] for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said,(H) “Let light shine out of darkness,”(I) has shone in our hearts to give(J) the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Worship is the ongoing expression of what we feel when we see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. God enables our hearts to see this light, just like he enabled light in creation…
The main question that Piper focused on today was “What experience of the heart magnifies the greatness of God?”
The answer is being satisfied with God in all that God is for us in Christ. In other words -God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.
As Paul says —
9for I know that(A) through your prayers and(B) the help of(C) the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20as it is my eager expectation and hope(D) that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full(E) courage now as always Christ(F) will be honored in my body,(G) whether by life or by death.21For to me(H) to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
To live is Christ, to die is gain.
Is Christ prized above our very lives? That so if we were to die and leave behind everything here we have…would that be considered GAIN? If so, then your heart truly magnifies the greatness of God.
Therefore, the life we live here – whatever we “lose” that isn’t our life, it’s Christ – you lose a nights sleep b/c you are helping a brother thru something? To the glory of Christ then. If that’s how you view it…then your heart magnifies the greatness of God.
The pursuit of joy is an obligation. This is fully explained in Desiring God which was just a life changer for me. If you haven’t read it, you really need to. Piper went on to say “to take no joy in our service and to say that if you taking joy in it somehow makes you ‘defective’ is deadly to worship. Forms and traditions will dominate.” I like to refer to it as the “Spirit of Religion” — it gets people so indoctrinated that they can’t possibly catch the real thing. We should be coming into worship as empty vessels, longing to be filled with joy – the only joy that can last thru anything that life and death can throw at us. Look at Psalm 42 – as the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants for you. The deer doesn’t offer anything to the stream, it only gets filled with refreshing life changing water – and in so finds complete and utter joy.
This makes worship radically God-centered. If everyone comes to worship wanting to be satisfied in Him that is not self-centered, it’s God centered – we are actually forgetting about ourselves. Piper told his famous “Anniversary Roses” story here and it was so appropriate. He doesn’t buy roses for his wife on their anniversary out of duty, he does because nothing makes him more satisfied that making her happy and honoring her. Does that make him selfish? Ummm. No.
It also protects worship as an end to itself and not a means to an end. We can’t use worship to attract stuff or fill a need. We wouldn’t say to our wife “I feel a strong delight in you so that you will make me supper.” You are just trying to get supper then…and not really showing your complete delight in her. BUT, if you truly pursue delighting in her, then everything gets better, right? Just like in worship if we truly delight in the glory of God in the joy of Christ – everything gets better.
This explains why a life of worship is not just the church services. Lives reflect the glory of God to others and they glorify their Father in heaven:
16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so(A) that they may see your good works and(B) give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
is really the answer to what Romans 12:1-2 means:
1(A) I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God,(B) to present your bodies(C) as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2(D) Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by(E) the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may(F) discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]
It all results in people giving glory to God, no matter what is going on…even when we are reviled.
Even when little things happen, like what happened to me the other day or like Piper himself…who left his Bible on the plane. Six years of notes and thoughts written in the margins – GONE.
I wonder who will find it…if they will appreciate what they have received. I have a feeling if they do, and it leads them to find their salvation, and drink deeply from the true fountain of living water and joy of the glory of God in the face of Christ – Piper wouldn’t mind a bit.
First, this place is amazing. Thank you Bob Kauflin and Sovereign Grace for hosting this tremendous event. Thank you for being so humble and friendly and sharing the love of God – it is felt thruout.
Second, worship this evening was absolutely amazing. I joked with my friend Pat before the start of worship tonight that leading worship to a room full of nearly 1600 worship leaders at a worship conference is kinda like shooting fish in a barrel, isn’t it? Well, yeah…sorta…but boy…what a blessing to be standing praising the Father with 1600 people who really WANT to. I’m not sure I’ll get all the songs, but from what I remember, a few are from what Bob posted earlier this week
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
This is my FAVORITE hymn. They rocked it. Great…first song and I’m already crying.
The Father’s Love
How wonderful the Father’s love, the Father’s love for us. That He would send His only son, to come and rescue us. He has saved us, called us blameless. Guides now and will sustain us. Oh how wonderful the Father’s Love.
Dr. Piper said so many things that blew my mind. As @WarwickFuller said on Twitter: “John Piper has my mind. It blew off while he was talking. If found, please return.”
Dr. Piper not only blew my mind, his message text was my favorite verses in the Bible – Romans 3:25-26:
25whom God(A) put forward as(B) a propitiation(C) by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in(D) his divine forbearance he had passed over(E) former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
He asked a few key questions:
What was the problem God is solving by sending His Son? – He wants to demonstrate his righteousness, the problem is that His righteousness needs showing, but something is veiling it.
What created that problem? He has passed over so many sins – look at David and Bathsheba
Why is that a problem? Rom 3:23. It essentially called God’s righteousness into question, it looks as though God agrees with the low value of His glory, if God were to just overlook sin.
How will he be then just and the justifier? The death of His Son.
Our worship should always have the flavor that God never wronged anybody. He could have just as easily sent us all to HELL, instead he gave us Jesus to bring us LIFE. So therefore, there is a deeper goal for the sending of His Son — namely the vindication of His glory.
…but isn’t God demanding to be worshiped the demonstration of an ego-maniac?
This is instead LOVE because the only eternal happiness for men is a happiness focused on the glory of God in the face of Christ – therefore He must preserve and uphold His glory.
The world doesn’t get this because it means the end of self-exaltation and the birth of exultation in the exaltation of God.
…yeah…take a minute there with that one.
I exult in God’s exaltation.
Therefore, what is your mindset?
When you look at God, the cross, Christ…yourself?
Therefore, I cease to be my foundation for my salvation.
If God’s glory in the face of Christ is the basis of your joy – it can never fail.
It can NEVER fail. Take another minute or two with that one.
Where then is our hope based? If it’s on us…it’s faulty…if it’s on God thru Christ it is unshakable.
Hopefully, I didn’t massacre a great sermon by chopping it up so much.
For now…I need to get some sleep. My mind needs to be blown again by Dr. Piper at 9am.
I’ve just started digging into Piper’s “God is the Gospel.” I got it for Christmas…yes…I’m aware it’s JULY, but I have a lot of good books to get thru. I love Amazon’s “Wish List”…when birthdays or Christmas roll around, my family just checks the list and picks a book. Sweeeet.
Piper poses a few pointed questions (Ow. Stop.) right on pg 1 of the Introduction. (Seriously, Pastor John…next time, just get right into it…stop beating around the bush…). Emphasis – mine.
The acid test of Biblical God-centeredness – and faithfulness to the Gospel- is this: Do you feel more loved because God makes much of you, or because at the cost of this Son, he enables you to enjoy making much of him forever? Does your happiness hang on seeing the cross of Christ as a witness to yourworth, or as a way to enjoy God’s worth forever? Is God’s glory in Christ the foundation of your gladness?
Like I said, Pastor John…please just come right with it…
HOLY MOSES. My highlighter is overheating already and I’m on page 1 of the INTRODUCTION for cryin’ out loud.
He waits a few pages and then pulls the pin on another mind-grenade:
Would you be happy in Heaven if Christ were not there?
Amazing. Just pull the towel off of me when I get out of the shower why don’t you. YIKES.
In my yearly Bible read, I’m up to Isaiah, and the rule of King Hezekiah. I really liked Hezekiah…he’s got potential. He reopened the temple, refocuses his people on the LORD, he even keeps seeking the LORD first when those pesky Assyrians are threatening. But in Isaiah 37-39 we see some amazing stuff. Not only does 1 angel of the LORD wipe out 185,000 people…and the LORD grant ole Hezekiah an extra 15 years…we see after all that Hezekiah’s heart take an ugly turn when the King of Babylon strolls in and Hezekiah acts like this is an episode of MTV Cribs. He shows off all of HIS riches, possessions, all the bling bling. Yup…it’s all me, dude. I got all this, check me out.
Isaiah comes to him and is like “What the heck was THAT about? You showed him EVERYTHING?” Isaiah then breaks the bad news to King Hez that Babylon, since they have such a taste for all your riches…are going to come back one day and carry all that stuff off to their kingdom. Yeah…thanks for giving them the inside tour.
We see Hezekiah’s heart is really out for his glory, not God’s in the end. Dang. I really liked him too.
I do this a lot, I have to admit. Not necessarily give foreigners tours of all my riches (that would be a pretty quick tour), but more often thank not I think I find my hope in this Earth and ME, or and not God and himself as the one to take all my joy and glory in.
I should be making much of God, because thru Christ he enables me to make much of HIM, and yes…it will be sweet to be in Heaven with Christ…after all, He is the guest of honor, without him…I’m definitely not getting past the bouncers.