Friday, February 26, 2010

"An Unworthy Servant"

As I was reading last night, Piper once again managed to ninja my brain as he pointed me to meditate on God's Word. Luke 17 could not have come at a better time. I am continually blown away at how God tosses the right scripture into my lap day in and day out.

Lately, I've been doing a lot of "itinerant" preaching in Tennessee and Florida. I'll be preaching twice next week and twice more March 14th. The problem with preaching the gospel at age 23, or any age really, is that inevitably, at least a dozen people will praise you for how well you did or how much they liked your "talk."

The problem compounds itself when you're articulate and self-aware...when you know it was a good "talk." (However, People in the south will tell you "good game" or "great talk" even if you were absolutely terrible. It's a politeness thing I think.)

So I began to struggle and wrestle with how to respond. Saying "thanks" or "hey, I appreciate it" to someone praising me for doing what I'm supposed to do anyway, what I'm called to do, is just kind of weird to me. Knowing my aptitude for pride, arrogance, and thoughts of self-worth, I immediately began to wonder: "What am I going to do about this? How can I deflect praise from me and yet lovingly show them that Christ is supreme...that HE did a good job, not me. How can I begin to actively avoid thinking for even a second that what I have done is worthy or good?"

In all honesty, I was clueless where to find the answer in God's Word, but He is a good Father and He knew what I needed. So before the foundation of the universe, God said, "I will remind him he is an unworthy servant. I will remind him that it is by grace that he is in my debt, and that I am NOT in his debt. I will remind him of these things because it's what he needs to know, and I will give him the heart to want to know it so very desperately."

So I hope that when you give a talk, share a testimony or doing anything that may garner approval or praise from men for yourself in the name of Christ, meditate on this: "Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Book Review: "Pierced by the Word."

Title: Pierced by the Word
Sub-title: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Soul
Author: John Piper
Publisher: Multnomah Books
Book Type: Devotional
Page Length: 139
Chapters: 31 plus Intro and Desiring God Resources Page
SRP: $12.99
Suggested Audience: Men (or women) 16 and older, who want to be pierced by the Word.

Strengths: It’s written by John Piper. He is a brilliant man and incredible writer. But Piper is a man who knows what it means to meet with Jesus and be pierced by His Word. A man who doesn’t love people and does not meet with Jesus and meditate on the Risen Christ as ultimate is not qualified to lead you in his devotional book. Piper loves Christ and people. The chapters are short and unbelievably piercing. They lead you to the word rather than away from it in attempt to be replacemental rather than supplemental. Piper leads the reader in prayer at the end of each chapter. Most authors would have to force the prayers he pens. But Piper is so genuine and theocentrically, hedonistically in love with Jesus that the prayers themselves pierce you and make you think.

Weaknesses: This is a devotional book so the temptation will be this: I’m going to power through today’s chapter quickly and never dive into the deep waters of the word Piper wants me to swim and drink deeply. Don’t do this. For you will miss out on so much depth!

My thoughts: It’s only day 24, but I would recommend this book to anyone that feels like their walk and daily devotions needs a change of pace. Sometimes we get so caught up in reading this book and that book, that we forget about THE Book. Piper draws us back to the Word, the Cross and the Savior.

Notable quotes: “I love the word of God. I don’t say it lightly. It is a terrible thing. ‘The voice of the Lord...strips the forest bare!’ By His Word, God created the universe...So I tremble before the Word of God.”