Saturday, June 30, 2012

Freshgroundroast.com


I'm drinking coffee that was given to me as a gift from Linda's nephew Colson and his wife Sarah.

It's very good, and has a cool website that explains the mission involved in the coffee.

I'm also thinking about ordering a Chemex Classic.

Freshgroundroast.com.

You Shall Not Pass: On Inter-cessory Prayer



It's 6 AM, and Linda and I are at my brother Mike's (and Sue's) home in Roscoe, Illinois.

I'm taking to time pray for some people who've asked me to pray for them. I am inter-ceding for them, on their behalf. One aspect of prayer is intercession; viz., standing between the followers of Jesus and an evil that is threatening to devour them.

I'm praying for Q, who, from her vantage point, has been given more than she can bear in life. Q is a real Jesus-follower. But her family and economic situation is bleak. Her mood is despair. How shall I pray for Q?

I am praying that she will endure. That she will not let go of Jesus in this difficult time.

I am praying that Q will not turn to the quick fix of a God-substitute, like drugs or alcohol or sex or spending money she does not have.

I am praying that Q will not give up. For this to be possible, she needs strength. Her knees are buckling under the weight of oppression.

If she gives up, what will that do and how will that help? She'll only be driven deeper into darkness.

I'm praying that light will come to Q, now. That she will recognize it.

James 1:12 says, Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

I know of no other hope but this. I have placed my hope in this. So has Q.

God, Q is going through a trial. She's been in this dark fire for some time. To her it seems to have become her life, her apportioned destiny. How long will her test last? Q loves you, God, and you know that. She is very weak this morning. She contacted me out of this weakness. Stretch out your hands to her, O God, and hold out the crown of life promised to her.

Rescue her.

Remind her of the powerful, light-filled moments of her rescue by your hand. Remind her of all that you have pulled her out of. Once she belonged to the darkness. But no longer. Now she belongs to you. Yet as she is following you, evil lies close at hand. 

While praying I thought of that scene in "Lord of the Rings" where Gandalf stands on the bridge holding his staff. His little group is being pursued by the Balrog of Moria. He thrusts the staff onto the bridge and shouts, with great authority, "You shall not pass!" Gandalf intercedes.

To pray for Q is to accept the role of the come-between, the intermediary, the inter-cessor. This is prayer as part of the armor of God. This is prayer as a weapon in spiritual battle. Ephesians 6:18 reads: ...praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints...

I am a staff-bearer for Saint Q, who has not the strength to lift a toothpick to protect herself from the evil that is fire-breathing on her and her family. In prayer, I now thrust this staff into the ground.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Fasting Reveals Things That Control Us

Monarch butterfly, Green Lake, Wisconsin

David wrote, “I humbled my soul with fasting” (Ps. 69:10). What does this look like?

Richard Foster writes that, once we understand the primary purpose of fasting, we are free to understand that there are also secondary purposes in fasting. The primary purpose is: our response to a call from God to fast, usually in regard to a sacred, troubling event or circumstance. We fast not to get personal results, but because God calls us to do so. This call emerges out of our times of intimately dwelling in Christ.

Foster writes:

"More than any other Discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface. If pride controls us, it will be revealed almost immediately.  Anger, jealousy, strife, fear—if they are within us, they will surface during fasting. At first we will rationalize that our anger is due to our hunger; then we will realize that we are angry because the spirit of anger is within us. We can rejoice in this knowledge because we know that healing is available through the power of Christ." (Foster, Celebration Of Discipline - 25th Anniversary, p. 55)

Spiritual fasting in response to the call of God can produce the fruit of self-control in us, and release us from the terrible burden of always having to have things go our own way.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

An Invitation to Prayer and Fasting

I'm about to speak at our Green Lake conference 10 Am EST). I'm giving an invitation to prayer and fasting. Maybe some others will join us as we do this.


See:

Prayer & Fasting: A Biblical View

About to Begin 2 Months of Prayer, Fasting, and Spiritual Transformation







Wednesday, June 27, 2012

John 14:11 & Perichoresis


It must have been 7 years ago (I can't remember) when NBC-Toledo sent a film crew up to Monroe to interview me re. my thoughts on Dan Brown's book The DaVinci Code. An entire half-hour was about this book, and I got to interact with news anchor Jim Blue. He asked me questions I did not know of in advance, but I was familiar with what he was asking and felt confident in my responses. Years later it's clear to see that, if a scholar wants to investigate Jesus, no one would look at the work of Dan Brown and the unscholarly thesis underlying DaVinci Code.
New Testament scholar Ben Witherington writes: “We live in a Jesus haunted culture that is Biblically illiterate, and so unfortunately at this point in time, almost anything can pass for knowledge of the historical Jesus…” from notions that he was a Cynic sage to ideas that he was a Gnostic guru to fantasies that he didn't exist, to Dan Brown's Jesus of hysterical (rather than historical) fiction.”

At Redeemer we're preaching on the Real Jesus. We took 5 1/2 years to preach, chronologically, throught the 4 Gospels. Now we are preaching throught hte Christology of the letters of Paul. This is another 5-7 year project. I'll be skype-preaching this from the nursing home.

This immersion into the Jesus-texts has had a profound impact on me. One impactful thing comes out of John  chapters 14-17. Here we have the last words of Jesus to his disciples. Therefore, theya re very important. They wonder how they shall carry on without their Lord. Jesus does not respond by saying, "Form some committees and start some programs." Instead, he invites them into the Trinitarian perichoretic relationship of which he is a part.

In John 14:8-11. Philip asks Jesus, in a Moses-like request (Exodus 33:18), "Show us the Father and that will be enough." Jesus responds by saying "Philip, if you have seen me you have seen the Father." Then, Jesus says words that are, I think, give us the most profound revelation that we have in the entire New Testament of the nature of Jesus in his relationship with the Father. He says: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” (John 14:11) Scholars have called this Son-Father relationship one of "mutual indwelling." It's intimate, close, and has been going on for eternity.

Understanding this Son-Father relationship is key to understanding nearly everything that follows in John 14-17, because you and I are invited into this relationship.
Early church leaders found a word that, to them, described the mutual indwelling of the Son and the Father and the Spirit: "perichoresis." From Theopedia: "Perichoresis is a Greek term used to describe the triune relationship between each person of the Godhead. It can be defined as co-indwelling, co-inhering, and mutual interpenetration. Alister McGrath writes that it "allows the individuality of the persons to be maintained, while insisting that each person shares in the life of the other two. An image often used to express this idea is that of a 'community of being,' in which each person, while maintaining its distinctive identity, penetrates the others and is penetrated by them.""
Perichoresis means, literally, "to move, or dance, around." God, in His 3-fold eternal personhood, is the explanation for the words Jesus speaks and the miracles, signs, and wonders Jesus does. The incredible news is that God invites us into this relationship. Think of what Jesus says re. the Son-Father perichoretic relationship, and then look closely at what Jesus goes on to say:
· John 15:1 - "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
· John 15:4 – “Abide in me, and I in you.”
· John 14:12 - I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. ·
· John 14:13 - And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
· John 14:17-18 - But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
· John 14:23 - "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
· John 15:9 - As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
· John 15:15 - 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
· John 16:13-15 - When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
· John 16:26 - the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.
· John 17:5 – Jesus says… “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”
· John 17:20-23 - I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."

What makes sense of all these Jesus-words is what Jesus says in John 14:11. It's the secret of Jesus - what he says, what he does, how he lives. This is "Emmanuel, God with us." The relationship Jesus the Son has with the Father is the pattern which Jesus wants to have with you. Just as Jesus lives by means of the Father at work in Him, so you and I can live by means of Jesus at work in us. God wants to move in to your heart and live with you.

God Issues the Call to Fast

Monroe

Edawrd Farrell writes:

"Almost everywhere at all times fasting has held a place of great importance since it is closely linked with the intimate sense of religion. Perhaps this is the explanation of the demise of fasting in our day.When the sense of God diminshes, fasting disappears." (In John Piper, A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer)




This explains why, when I teach on biblical fasting, I first teach about the preence of God, and entering into that presence.

First: abide in Christ. Forcus on Jesus. Dwell in Him. Enter into the Big Dance (the Trinitarian perichoretic union).

A main way to abide in Christ is to pray. prayer is talking with God about what you and He are doing together. You speak to God, and God speaks to you.

As you become aware of the grievous sacred moments of life God may issue a call for you to fast and pray, focusing your prayers and energies towards God on behalf of the grievous moment. In this way fasting emerges out of the God-relationship.

Responding to the Same-Sex Marriage Issue - 2 - An Invitation to Study With Me


How do I respond to someone who asks me if I think we should legalize same-sex marriage? It depends on who they are.

If they are a Jesus-follower, I respond one way; if they are not a Jesus-follower, esp. if they say they are non-religious, I respond in a different way. I don't expect a non-religious person to consider biblical texts, just as I don't spend my time reasoning out the things of life within whatever worldview they adhere to.

If someone says they are a Christian, then I reason as follows.



1. We are obligated to follow God's will.
2. God's will is given to us in the Bible.
3. The Bible forbids homosexual behavior.
4. Therefore, homosexual behavior is gainst God's will, or is wrong.

On P1 (Premise 1): I find that virutally all Jesus-followers believe this is true.

On P2 - again, Jesus-followers have little problem with this. There may be discussion on the nature of biblical authority. That is another, and important, discussion.

Re. P3 - this is where the intra-Christian discussion lies. The best book available on this intra-dialogue is: Homsexuality: Two View, by Dan Via and Robert Gagnon.

Perhaps the best schoalrly book on the matter is Robert Gagnon's The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics.  

I just picked up Gagnon's book and have begun to read it.I invite you to join me.

If you'd like to join me in reading Gagnon's book:

1. Send me an e-mail - let me know you're joining my book study. johnpiippo@msn.com
2. Purchase the book.
3. Read.
4. Begin to communciate, as you feel led, thoughts and ideas that come as a result of reading.
5. We'll have at least one teleconference call about the book - probably sometime in September.

Here are some reviews of Gagnon's book:

"...In its learnedness, [Gagnon's] book will...be in the vanguard of its position and cannot be ignored...." -- Martti Nissinen, University of Helsinki, and author of Homoeroticism in the Biblical World (From the Jacket Flap)

"...the fullest and best presentation of the conservative position....expressing the case same-sex intercourse sympathetically and convincingly." -- I. Howard Marshall, Professor of New Testament, Emeritus, University of Aberdeen, Scotland (Blurb Inside Book)

"...the most thorough examination of the scriptural and theological...perspectives on same-sex relations....a tour de force." -- Marion L. Soards, Professor of New Testament, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (From Jacket Flap)

"Gagnon has offered a learned, judicious, and comprehensive examination of the biblical testimony....fair and compassionate...a major resource...." -- Brevard S. Childs, Sterling Professor of Divinity (Hebrew Bible), Emeritus, Yale Divinity School (From Inside Book)

"Gagnon's book is an extremely valuable contribution to the current debate....I recommend this book wholeheartedly." -- C. E. B. Cranfield, Professor of Theology (New Testament), Emeritus, University of Durham (From Inside Book)

"Gagnon's incisive logic, prudent judgment, and exhaustive research should make this book a dominant voice in the contemporary debate." -- Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, O.P., Professor of New Testament, Ecole Biblique, Jerusalem (From the Back Cover)

"I believe that this volume will become a classic in the ongoing discussion of the church's...response to homosexuality." -- Duane F. Watson, Professor of New Testament, Malone College (From Inside Book)

"I know of no comparable study of the texts and interpretive debates that surround homosexual behavior." -- Max L. Stackhouse, Stephen Colwell Professor of Christian Ethics, Princeton Theological Seminary (From the Jacket Flap)

"No Christian concerned with homosexuality can afford to ignore this book." -- John Barton, Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, University of Oxford (From the Back Cover)

"This is a brilliant, original, and highly important work,...indispensable even for those who disagree with the author." -- James Barr, Distinguished Professor of Hebrew Bible, Emeritus, Vanderbilt University (From the Back Cover) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

With Many Friends in Green Lake, Wisconsin


Linda and I are at our conference in Green Lake, Wisconsin. I think we have about 100 Redeemer people here! This encourgaes me, beczuse the things God is pouring into us all wil strengthen our church family.

And, we are with many people who have become dear friends over the years. It is so good to see them again!

J.P. Moreland has been speaking. He is sinply one of the best teachers I have ever seen. He has been talking about the idea of the "empty self" in our culture and its misguided quest for happiness. Happiness, J.P. told us, is a wonderful byproduct of a life well-livd but a horrible goal to go after.

J.P. also spoke about solitude, fasting, ptrayer, and gratefulness. What he shared about practicing gratefulness was beautiful. God, through J.P., has given us all a lot of very practical ways to live life well in the name of Jesus.

Darren Wilson spoke about Moses as an example of a weak, murderous individual whom God chose to be His "friend." Darren also showed us an extended clip from his new movie "Father of Lights." (Our "Father of Lights" showing in Michigan, at Redeemer, is already packed out (600-700?).

Philip Mantofa spoke last evening and gave a message very similar to the one he gave at Redeemer. It was both loving and truthful, and even at times humorous and playful, as God spoke through Philip about the decline of the American church and its acquiescence to our secularizing culture.

This morning Clay Ford will speak, and J.P. will teach after that.

I'll be leading my seminar/workshop at 11 AM today on "How I Respond to the Issue of Same-Sex Marriage."

Please pray for us as we are here, and that God will do good things in our hearts that will lead to greater service to Him and His Kingdom.

Responding to the Matter of Same-Sex Marriage: Part 1 - Intro and Bibilography

University of Michigan

This week one of the things I'm speaking on at the HSRM conference in Wisconsin is "How I respond oo the Issue of Same-Sex Marriage." Here are some of the things I am presenting.

I am against legalizing same-sex marriage for two reasons, one being religious, the other non-religious (sociological and legal).

As regards the religious reason, I do not expect non-religious people to agree with me. Of course not. Just as I don't turn to their irreligious worldview to make sense of anything, neither do I expect them to partner with me. That's the way worldviews work. Everyone has one. They do not, at significant points, overlap.

If the non-religious person objects to my religious views, they question my worldview, and not my reasoning. The irreligious person is a non-player in the intra-religious and intra-Christian dialogue.

Regarding the non-religious reasons, here is where the irreligious and religious can join in principled (we would hope) dialogue rather than knee-jerk ad hominem stereotyping. We can diakogue without name-calling and stereotyping, right?

A Very Short Bibliography: Christian Theism Worldview

Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views, by Dan O. Via and Robert Gagnon

The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, by Robert Gagnon. This is probably the book to read, within this worldview and from this perspective.. 

Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality, by Wesley Hill.

A Very Brief Bibliography: Non-Religious Reasoning against Same-Sex Marriage

Why Marriage Matters, Third Edition: Thirty Conclusions from the Social Sciences, by Bradford Wilcox. 

Debating Same-Sex Marriage , by John Corvino and Maggie Gallagher.

The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Market, and Morals, eds. Robert P. George and Jean Bethke Elshtain.  

What is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense, by Sherif Gergis, Robert P. George, and Ran T. Anderson (forthcoming Oct. 16, 2012) 

I contacted Robert George re. this issue and he graciously sent me the following links. He's also gracciously offered to field questions I have,

From Prof. George:

For a fuller account of my own views, here is the link to a more recent paper I wrote with two of my former students. (It is a free one-click download.)
“What is Marriage?” by Sherif Girgis, Robert P. George, and Ryan T. Anderson, in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy:   http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1722155

Kenji Yoshino of NYU published a critique on Slate, to which there is a link in our reply, available here:  http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/12/2217

Andrew Koppelman of Northwestern published a critique on Balkinization, to which there is a link in our reply, available here:  http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/12/2263

Barry Deutsch published a critique on the Family Scholars Blog, to which there is a link in our reply, available here: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/12/2277

Kenji Yoshino published a response to our reply, to which there is a link in our reply to that response, available here: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2011/01/2295

Andrew Koppelman published a response to our reply, to which there is a link in our reply to that response, available here: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2011/01/2350

Also, here is an essay in two parts (written with Patrick Lee and Gerard V. Bradley) on the link between procreation and marriage – a link we believe is badly misunderstood by many on both sides of the debate. Here are the links:

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2011/03/2638 “Marriage and Procreation: The Intrinsic Link”

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2011/03/2637 “Marriage and Procreation: Avoiding Bad
Arguments”

Prof. George also sent me:

The Good of Marriage and the Morality of Sexual Relations: some Philosophical and Historical Observations, by John Finnis.

Marriage: A Basic and Exigent Good, John Finnis.

I'm working on second post.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fasting and the Question of Motive

Flowers, in our backyard

Why would a Jesus-follower add fasting to praying? What is our underlying motive for fasting?

Rochard Foster writes that the very first statement Jesus made about fasting dealt with the question of motive (Matt. 6:16–18). We read:

16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

So we're not fasting to look like something to other people, or to appear like we are big-time-serious spiritual saints. Foster writes:

"To use good things to our own ends is always the sign of false religion. How easy it is to take something like fasting and try to use it to get God to do what we want. At times there is such stress upon the blessings and benefits of fasting that we would be tempted to believe that with a little fast we could have the world, including God, eating out of our hands."

Why, then, fast at all if it's not for some personal benefit? It is that it's all about God, not about you. And in living for God yes, you will be a blessed person. It doesn't get any better in life than to give your life for God and for others.

Foster says that "fasting must forever center on God." Therefore iIt must be God-initiated and God-ordained."Scot McKnight puts it this way: authentic fasting is responsive and not instrumental; i.e., fasting is not some tool to get something from God or other people. It arises out of the abiding Jesus-relationship.

Foster, once more: "Like the prophetess Anna, we need to be “worshiping with fasting” (Luke 2:37). Every other purpose must be subservient to God. Like that apostolic band at Antioch, “fasting” and “worshiping the Lord” must be said in the same breath (Acts 13:2). Charles Spurgeon writes, “Our seasons of fasting and prayer at the Tabernacle have been high days indeed; never has Heaven’s gate stood wider; never have our hearts been nearer the central Glory.”

(All quotes from Richard Foster, Celebration Of Discipline - 25th Anniversary, pp. 54-55)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

DIRTY LOOPS - Rolling In The Deep (Adele Cover)



This... is very, very, very good.

Prominent Atheist Blogger Turns to God


Yes, just as there are "deconversion" stories out there (from theism to atheism), so there are conversion stories (atheism to theism; or, as for me, from a kind of deism at best to theism). My friend Craig Keener converted from atheism to Christian theism. So did C.S. Lewis. And Peter Hitchens (Christopher Hitchens's brother). Antony Flew (following the argument from anthropic coincidences to the existence of God). Ann Rice. My friend Greg Boyd. A number of my Philosophy of Religion and Logic students over the years. And so on...

Here's a recent one - Prominent atheist blogger converts to Catholicism.

Her name is Leah Libresco. Her conversion had to do with the moral argument for God's existence. We read:

"Libresco, who had long blogged under the banner “Unequally Yoked: A geeky atheist picks fights with her Catholic boyfriend,” said that at the heart of her decision were questions of morality and how one finds a moral compass.
“I had one thing that I was most certain of, which is that morality is something we have a duty to,” Libresco told CNN in an interview this week, a small cross dangling from her neck. “And it is external from us. And when push came to shove, that is the belief I wouldn’t let go of. And that is something I can’t prove.”"

Friday, June 22, 2012

Traveling to Speak at HSRM Conference

Linda and I are traveling today to Green Lake, Wisconsin, for our HSRM conference.

Here's the workshop schedule:


2012 HOLY SPIRIT CONFERENCE WORKSHOP SCHEDULE

MONDAY, June 25

Philip Mantofa: TBA

JP Moreland: The Case for the Soul - Is There a Soul?

Ed Owens: Walking in the Spirit

Annie Dieselberg: Tales of the Trade

Marianne Skrobiak: Negotiating Life after Divorce

TUESDAY, June 26

JP Moreland: Christianity in Worldview Conflict

John Piippo: Addressing the Issue of Same-Sex Marriage

Darren Wilson: The Creative Spirit

Ross Lieuellen: Our Identity in Christ

Josh Bentley: Bible Study Methods

WEDNESDAY, June 27

Lee Spitzer: One in the Spirit: Friendships and
the God's Vision for the Church

Joe Atkinson: Healing of Memories

Clay Ford: Tongues, Manifestations, and Other Controversial Things

John Piippo: Addressing the Issue of Same-Sex Marriage (repeat)

Darren Wilson: The Creative Spirit (repeat)

THURSDAY, June 28

Lee Spitzer: Friendships in the Twenty-First Century

Marianne Skrobiak: Return to Life After Separation and Divorce

Annie Dieselberg: Tales of the Trade (repeat)

Josh Bentley: The Fruitfulness of Genuine Revival

Norelle Lutke: No More Groveling


Here's the Speaker Schedule:

Sunday morning:
9 am - Jeff Dieselberg

10:30am - JP Moreland

Sunday night: 6:30pm

Annie Dieselberg (20 minutes)

JP Moreland (50 minutes)

MONDAY

Monday morning:

9am - Darren Wilson

10:00am - JP Moreland

Workshops: 11:00am-12:15pm

Monday night: 6:30pm

Darren Wilson (20 minutes)

Philip Mantofa (50 minutes)

TUESDAY

Tuesday morning:

9am - Clay Ford

10:00am - JP Moreland

Workshops: 11:00am-12:15pm

Tuesday night: 6:30pm

Norelle Lutke (20 minutes)

Philip Mantofa (50 minutes)

WEDNESDAY

Wednesday morning:

9am – Lee Spitzer

10:00am – Annie Dieselberg

Workshops: 11:00am-12:15pm

WEDNESDAY PASTORS LUNCH: Philip

Mantofa

Wednesday night: 6:30pm

Ed Owens (20 minutes)

Philip Mantofa (50 minutes)

THURSDAY

Thursday morning:

9am John Piippo

10:00am - Philip Mantofa

Workshops: 11:00am-12:15pm

Thursday night:
Ross Lieuallen and Joe

Atkinson (25 minutes each, leading into

Communion meditation)

Testimonies and Communion


Radical Dependency Can Increase the Sense of God's Presence

Monroe
One of my heroes was Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ (now called Cru, which feels a little weird for me, yet I do understand that the word "crusade" is a turn-off for some). It was through CCC that I met Jesus. For that I remain forever grateful.

In 1994 God gave Bill a sense of urgency to fast and pray for our country. This sacred moment led him to respond by fasting from solid food for 40 days. Years after he did this I read the account of what happened, both within him and without. (The Coming Revival: America's Call to Fast, Pray, and "Seek God's Face")

In a little booklet, 7 Basic Steps to Successful Fasting and Prayer, Bill wrote:

"As I began my fast, I was not sure I could contiue for forty days. But my confidence was in the Lord to help me. Each day His presence encouraged me to continue. The longer I fasted, the more I sensed the presence of the Lord. The Holy Spirit refreshed my soul and spirit, and I experienced the joy of the Lord as seldom before. Biblical truths leaped at me from the pages of God's Word. My faith soared as I humbled myself and cried out to God and rejoiced in His presence." (5)

I've heard from others, and experienced myself, that during times of fasting and praying the sense of God's presence increases. One reason this happens is because our dependency on God is more radical as our dependency on food decreases.

(Note: biblically, most fasts lasted a half day or a day. 40-day fasts are the biblical exception.)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Is Selling Sartre's "Being & Nothingness" an Act of Primary Consciousness?


My little paperback copy of Jean-Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness sits on a shelf in my office. It would never be read by myself again.

But today I see Being and Nothingness selling for $2.99 for the Kindle. What is our world coming to, when great paradigm-birthing philosophical works like this are virtually given away to people who will never read them anyway since they (the books, that is) are so abstruse? Who, at amazon.com, made the decision to do this? And, did they truly decide? Or was it some spontaneous, non-reflective thing and, as such, an act of the pre-reflective cogito as primary consciousness? Only later to be reflected on? (The Cartesian cogito that posits consciousness as an object - similar to Kahneman's "System II"?)

Jesus Expects His Followers to Fast

Maumee Bay State Park, Ohio
On Tuesday evening, after my teaching on biblical fasting, one of the attendees told me: "We never hear teaching like this in the church." I would agree. It's not a big crowd-gatherer. Yet I am delighted that 50-60 were at our gathering, with another 70-80 doing this online.

Jesus never commanded fasting, but it seems clear that he expected that his followers would fast. We see this in the contect of his Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). Jesus tells the crowd of people, some of whom would be his disciples, "when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,  so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (6:17-18)

In Matthew 9:15 we read: "Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast."

Is it true that Jesus expects me, as one of his followers, to fast? If it is, then surely large numbers of Christians are not meeting this expectation. Many have never heard of it. Very few seem to understand it.

Richard Foster says this last verse "is perhaps the most important statement in the New Testament on whether or not Christians should fast today." (Celebration Of Discipline - 25th Anniversary Edition, p. 53). Foster writes: "Perhaps it is best to avoid the term “command” since in the strictest sense Jesus did not command fasting. But it is obvious that he proceeded on the principle that the children of the kingdom of God would fast. For the person longing for a more intimate walk with God, these statements of Jesus are drawing words." (Ib., 54)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Time of Prayer Centered On the Beatitudes

Bug on button bush

I'll be giving this prayer exercise to my Prayer and Fasting students this evening.

Online students - please take 30 minutes today to engage in this.









A TIME OF PRAYER CENTERED ON THE BEATITUDES

1.    Take 5 minutes to find a quiet place to pray. Turn your cell phones off (be free from the illusion of indispensability).

2.    Use Matthew 5:1-12 as your focus. Slow-read them. You may not read all of them before God speaks to you.

3.    When God speaks to you, write it down.

4.    If your mind wanders, note where it wanders to. (It always wanders to something like a burden. If so, then “cast your burden on Him, for He cares for you” – 1 Peter 5:7)

5.    Take 30 minutes to pray. Then return to our class.



Matthew 5:1-12

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.

He said:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


What the Bible Says About Spiritual Formation

Button bush

This is from Renovare's website.
"Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand" (Matt 3:2, 4:17, 10:7).
This is a call for us to reconsider how we have been approaching our life, in light of the fact that we now, in the presence of Jesus, have the option of living within the surrounding movements of God’s eternal purposes, of taking our life into his life.

~ Dallas Willard,
The Divine Conspiracy


The Bible has a lot to say about spiritual formation.  Here are a few relevant passages.

2 Corinthians 3:18
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

Ephesians 4:20-24 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life . . . Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

1 Timothy 4:7-8
. . . train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Colossians 3:10-11Each of you is now a new person. You are becoming more and more like your Creator, and you will understand him better. It doesn't matter if you are a Greek or a Jew, or if you are circumcised or not. You may even be a barbarian or a Scythian, and you may be a slave or a free person. Yet Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

Titus 2:11-14
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all,
training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Monday, June 18, 2012

About to Begin 2 Months of Prayer, Fasting, and Spiritual Transformation

Monroe

2 Months of PRAYER, FASTING, AND SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION

Summer 2012

John Piippo (johnpiippo@msn.com; johnpiippo.com)



DESCRIPTION: This course comes out of my desire to bring the followers of Jesus into deeper relationship with him. At the center of a life that dwells in Christ is the activity of prayer. A person who abides in Christ actually prays, prays a lot, and prays in a certain way. “Prayer” is: talking with God about what we (you and God) are doing together. For this class we will add biblical “fasting” to the activity of praying. “Fasting” is: a God-led response to a grievous sacred moment. A main result of a life that lives in and out of  a prayer-relationship with God is inner, spiritual transformation into the form of Christ (Galatians 4:19).



METHOD:

1.   There will be three large-group teaching and sharing times. They will be held in Redeemer’s sanctuary on:

a.   Tuesday, June 19, 7-9 PM

b.   Tuesday, July 17, 7-9 PM (Josh Bentley teaches)

c.   Tuesday, August 14, 7-9 PM

2.   Participants will be assigned to pray 1 hour/day, 5 days/week, from June 20-August 14.

a.   “Prayer” is: talking with God about what you and he are doing together.”

3.   Use Matthew chapters 5-7 as your spiritual reading during these two months. Immerse yourself in, be immersed by, Jesus’ beautiful, challenging “Sermon on the Mount.”

a.   Meditate on these verses. To meditate on Scripture is: taking a portion of Scripture and slow-cooking in it; pondering it; allowing it to ponder you and seek you out. A way to begin meditating on Scripture is to simply repeat it, over and over. Write down some verses from these chapters and carry them with you, pulling them out occasionally to read them and to be read by them.

4.   Keep a spiritual journal. A spiritual journal is a record of the voice and activity of God in your life. When God speaks to you, write it down.

5.   During your prayer time or elsewhere God may call you to enter into a time of accompanying your praying with fasting.

a.   “Fasting” is: the natural, inevitable response of a person to a grievous sacred moment in life.

b.   Fasting in the Bible describes not eating or not drinking.” “Fasting is a choice not to eat for a designated period because some moment is so sacred that partaking in food would deface or profane the seriousness of the moment.

c.   NOTE: If this is not medically possible for you, then you may choose to fast from something else; e.g., fasting from the media.

d.   During your times of fasting write down anything God reveals to you or speaks to you, or does for you.



RESOURCES
 

Bill Bright


Richard Foster

·        Celebration of Discipline: The Path toSpiritual Growth (see chapter 4, “The Discipline of Fasting”)

Scot McKnight


John Piper

·        A Hunger for God: Desiring God Through Fasting and Prayer (you can download this online for free)

Elmer Towns


Dallas Willard

·        Google ‘Dallas Willard Fasting’


And...
  • I'll be writing and posting things on prayer, fasting, and spiritual transformation and e-mailing them to students.
     

The Resolution (for Father's Day 2012)

We saw a dvd based on "The Resolution" on Father's Day at Redeemer,
and gave each father a copy of this, from the movie "Courageous."


THE RESOLUTION

 I DO solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.

I WILL love them, protect them, serve them, and teach them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.

I WILL be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my life for her as Jesus Christ did for me.

I WILL bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength.

I WILL train them to honor authority and live responsibly.

I WILL confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.

I WILL pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect, and compassion.

I WILL work diligently to provide for the needs of my family.

I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.

I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God.

I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His will.

I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. ---Joshua 24:15