Thursday, March 23, 2017

When a Pastor Succumbs to Vocational Idolatry (The Presence-Driven Church)

Clare, Michigan

The typical American pastor feels pressure to keep people coming to church. If people don't come, there won't be enough money to maintain the building, and to pay their salary. This pressure can cause a pastor to wilt, spiritually. To succumb.

I have felt this, especially when I was in campus ministry. For eleven years we survived from hand to mouth. We depended on the support of other churches. I traveled every weekend to visit churches, to share what God was doing with our college students, and praying that these churches would give us some financial support. Even though we never had more than enough, for the most part we always had enough.

One danger for the pastor is that they will adopt secular techniques of appealing to people to make church more palatable. As this happens the secular slowly displaces the spiritual, the coffee bar transcends the cross, the stage replaces the altar, the clock rules over the Spirit, and a performance substitutes for The Presence.

Eugene Peterson writes:

"The volume of business in religion far outruns the spiritual capital of its leaders. The initial consequence is that leaders substitute image for substance, satisfying the customer temporarily but only temporarily, on good days denying that there is any problem (easy to do, since business is so very good), on bad days hoping that someone will show up with an infusion of capital. No one is going to show up. The final consequence is bankruptcy. The bankruptcies are dismayingly frequent." (Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness, p. 3)

When this happens "church" becomes market-driven, and the people are viewed as "consumers." Peterson calls this "vocational idolatry."

"Pastoral vocation is interpreted from the congregational side as the work of meeting people’s religious needs on demand at the best possible price and from the clerical side as satisfying those same needs quickly and efficiently. These conditions quickly reduce the pastoral vocation to religious economics, pull it into relentless competitiveness, and deliver it into the hands of public relations and marketing experts." (Ib., pp. 3-4)

The Reason You Are Wounded by Rejection

Detroit skyline

We all need affirmation, as well as realistic evaluation. But there is a disease called affirmation addiction, and it is punishing to the soul. The affirmation addict goes up and down, emotionally, with the approval and disapproval of people.

Are you disturbed when someone dismisses you or assaults you on social media? When you get a "thumbs down?" The source of your disturbance is addiction to affirmation. If you did not live for the approval of other people, you would not die by their disapproval of you. You have to choose whose acceptance you will live and die for. (I am writing this as much for myself as for anyone else.)

Bob Sorge says, "Jesus was not touched by the praise of man, so he was not wounded by the rejection of man." (See here.) This is from John 5:44, where Jesus faces his followers and says,  How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

Jesus refused to receive the approval of humanity. He didn't rise and fall by what other people thought of him. Instead, he lived and died by the Father's approval, and thus was free to live and die for you and me.

***
My book Praying is available as a Kindle book HERE
Paperback 
HERE and HERE.
Hard cover 
HERE
You can contact me at: johnpiippo@msn.com.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The War for the Liberation of Human Souls

My backyard, on the river

This is for the serious God-seeker, the passionate Christ-abider, the desirer of God's presence. Better is one day in God's presence than a thousand with my toys.

"Do everything you can to avoid the noise and business of the world. Keep as far away as you can from the places where they gather to cheat and insult one another, to exploit one another, to laugh at one another, or to mock one another with their false gestures of friendship. Be glad if you can keep beyond the reach of their radios. Do not bother with their unearthly songs. Do not read their advertisements."
- Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

Don't despise people who are addicted to social media. Just don't get seduced and entrapped yourself. Merton continues:

"No man who seeks liberation and light in solitude, no man who seeks spiritual freedom, can afford to yield passively to all the appeals of a society of salesmen, advertisers, and consumers."

Merton wrote Seeds of Contemplation in 1949. It was revised and published as New Seeds in 1962. I envision Merton coming to life itoday, looking at the spiritual carnage lying in the wake of social media, and concluding the war for the liberation of human souls is over. Humanity lost. Lost humanity.


***
My book on prayer can be purchased here.

I'm currently writing Leading the Presence-Driven Church (Summer 2017).

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The American Church Has Lost Its Way

Image may contain: outdoor
Detroit

Some New Testament scholars believe the following:

1. The American Church has severely lost its way.
2. For the Church to survive it must understand and enact the Real Gospel of Jesus.

Voices include Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson, N.T. Wright, and Scot McKnight. There are others.

In addition to such scholars, there are unschooled Jesus-followers who are in some ways like the original disciples of Christ. They look at the story of Jesus and see a different reality than what is seen in the American Church.

Dallas Willard writes: "(In the American Church we have) contemporary misunderstandings that produce gospels that do not naturally produce disciples, but only consumers of religious goods and services....  (The) primary barrier to the power of Jesus’ gospel today... is a view of salvation and of grace that has no connection with discipleship and spiritual transformation. It is a view of grace and salvation that, supposedly, gets one ready to die, but leaves them unprepared to live now in the grace and power of resurrection life." (Willard, quoted in Scot McKnight, The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited, p. 16).

Consumers, rather than disciples.

Conformation to American culture, rather than transformation into Christlikeness.

Human effort, rather than resurrection power.

Voices are crying in the wilderness. The consumer, market-driven, entertainment church does not hear.

"We’ve wandered from the pages of the Bible into an answer that isn’t biblical enough... I think we’ve got the gospel wrong, or at least our current understanding is only a pale reflection of the gospel of Jesus and the apostles. We need to go back to the Bible to find the original gospel."  (McKnight, Ib., pp. 23-24)

"Christian TV" and the False Gospel of Prosperity

Image result for john piippo prosperity
Worship at NightLight International, Bangkok
I don't watch "Christian" TV. Much of it is heretical. At the heart of a lot of the heresy is the "Prosperity Gospel," which says, "Give us lots of money, and God will make you rich." This ridiculousness is why Michael Brown writes:

"While I am absolutely unashamed to be called a Pentecostal-Charismatic believer, I am terribly ashamed at many things that are done in the name of the Holy Spirit today, especially by leaders on “Christian” TV. Without a doubt, if this represented the true core of the Charismatic Movement, the heart and soul of who we are, I would never want to be called a charismatic again. It would be similar to how Baptists would feel if Fred Phelps, the notorious leader of Westboro Baptist Church, was the poster boy for the Baptist Church in America." (Michael Brown, Authentic Fire: A Response to John MacArthur's Strange Fire, p. 13)

Brown quote one of our greatest New Testament scholars, Gordon Fee, on the Prosperity Gospel. Fee writes:

"American Christianity is rapidly being infected by an insidious disease, the so called wealth and health Gospel—although it has very little of the character of Gospel in it...  The cult of prosperity thus flies full in the face of the whole New Testament. It is not biblical in any sense... besides being non-biblical, the theology that lies behind this perversion of the Gospel is sub-Christian at several crucial points. ... despite all protests to the contrary, at its base the cult of prosperity offers a man-centered, rather than a God-centered, theology."
(In Ib., p. 15) 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Wykstra's Criticism of Rowe's Evidential Argument from Evil


(For my MCCC Philosophy of Religion class)

Wykstra's essay is: "Rowe's Noseeum Arguments from Evil."

I. Wykstra says Rowe commits the "no-seeum fallacy." Explain.


II. State Rowe's argument, which is:

1. As far as I can see there is no point to the fawn's suffering.
     2. Therefore, there is no point to the fawn's suffering.

This argument commits the noseeum fallacy. 


*      Rowe argues:

1. There appears to be no point to the fawn’s suffering.

2. Therefore, there is no point to the fawn’s suffering.

THIS INFERENCE, says Wykstra, fails. You can't go from premise 1 to the conclusion, unless...

III. The CORNEA Principle is met.

CORNEA - Condition Of ReasoNable Epistemic Access

We can infer from “We see no X,” to… ”There is no X”… only when X has “reasonable seeability.”


E.g. -     

1. As far as I can see, President Trump is not in the room.

      2. Therefore, President Trump is not in the room.

There is a claim of inference from 1 to 2 in this case, because CORNEA has been met. That is, were Pres. Trump in the room, I would be able to see him. The "reasonable seeability" condition has been met.


An example of CORNEA not being met:  

1. As far as I can see, there are no germs on this hypodermic needle.

      2. Therefore, there are no germs on this hypodermic needle.

Wykstra agrees with Rowe that God would only allow intense suffering if there was some point to it.

Wykstra thinks Rowe’s claim that there are instances of pointless suffering is unjustifiable. That is, Rowe cannot claim this, because of CORNEA.


IV. Wykstra further argues that the reasonable seeability claim cannot be met in the case of God.  He uses the parent-infant analogy to show this.

·         Wyckstra writes: “The disparity between God’s vision and ours is comparable to the gap between the vision of a parent and her one-month-old infant. This gives reason to think that our discerning most of God’s purposes are about as likely as the infant’s discerning most of the parent’s purposes.”


*****
For some big-time academic explanation see "Skeptical Theism" in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. "Skeptical theism is a strategy for bringing human cognitive limitations to bear in reply to arguments from evil against the existence of God."

Studying the Real Jesus

Window, in Detroit's Orchestra Hall

One of my former philosophy students asked: "I am curious to understand what you mean when you say "The REAL Jesus." Could you tell me about it?"

Here's how I think about this.
  1. For forty-seven years I have been studying about Jesus of Nazareth. I engage in "historical Jesus" studies. In my PhD program I did a qualifying exam on ancient Christology. I wrote my dissertation on metaphor theory, and New Testament theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg's idea of "resurrection" as a metaphorical way to speak of an historical reality.
  2. As a "Christ-ian" and Jesus-follower, and as one who once cried out to Jesus to rescue me and got rescued, I've devoted my life to knowing about Christ, and knowing Christ.
  3. But the historical Jesus gets buried under the layers of culture. We have, e.g., an "American Jesus." I'm not interested in that, except as it tells me some things about our culture and religion. What little "Christian TV" I've watched in days past contains much misleading stuff on Jesus, like the "Prosperity Gospel Jesus," which, as far as I can tell, is nothing like the Jesus of, e.g., Matthew 25 (and elsewhere).
  4. I am interested in studies like my friend Craig Keener's The Historical Jesus of the Gospels. Texts like this peel away layers of cultural accretion to expose the Jesus of history. I have a large stack of books devoted to doing this. For a good mini-book by a great New Testament scholar, see Richard Bauckham's  Jesus: A Very Short Introduction. For a longer read see Bauckham's wonderful, scholarly Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony.  
  5. The "Real Jesus" is: 1) the Jesus who walked the earth in the early first century, was crucified, buried in a tomb, and was raised from the dead; and 2) the Messiah ("Christ") who now lives, within and without us.
  6. Strategy: 1) Slow cook in and meditate on the four Gospels. Keep a journal on what God says to you as you do this; 2) read New Testament scholars on Jesus. Just as anyone wanting to study brain surgery should read texts written by brain surgeons, in studying Jesus one should read the works of New Testament scholars who know the original languages, the socio-rhetorical environment of the time, and the socio-cultural environment of the time; and 3) abide in Christ (John 14-15-16), both individually and corporately. That is, live the life Jesus called you to live, as seen in John chapters 14-15-16.
Want to do Real Jesus studies? I suggest the following authors, texts, and websites. (Note: you can ignore Internet Jesus-debunkers who have never engaged in this kind of scholarship.)



This would be good for starters. 

And, of course, read the New Testament for your own self.


  • Begin with the 4 Gospels.
  • Read them as if for the very first time.
  • Take notes.
  • Pay attention.
  • See how and why the Real Jesus was either embraced or despised.
Needed: Old Testament background; Second Temple Judaism background

You Won't Remain the Same When You Abide in God's Presence

Image result for john piippo abide
Ann Arbor

A few years ago some University of Michigan film students were making a movie about our Monroe community. I was one of their interviews. One of them, Jordan, was a U-M student who had been part of Redeemer in the past, so that's how we reconnected.

Jordan asked me, "What is the main thing you see about Monroe that needs to be changed?" 

My answer was, "Me." (This is true, but not original. See G.K. Chesterton.)

I was serious about this. My ongoing transformation will set a lot of dominos falling. 

If I can change for the better, and by "better" meaning into greater Christlikeness, our community will be better off.

If I can change and be a better husband to Linda, Linda will be better off. 

If God changes me into a greater Jesus-like compassionate servant, then people in my church family will be better off. Others will benefit from what God is doing in me. 

There's an old gospel song that goes, "It's me, it's me, it's me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer" (not "It's them, it's them, it's them..."  Another worship song pleads, "change my heart O God" (not "change their hearts O God").

I can't change other people.

With God's help I can change.

To be transformed, don't focus on change, focus on God. Abide in Jesus. You cannot consistently dwell in the presence of God and remain the same.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Praying for the Sick Is One Sign of a Normal Church

Image result for john piippo praying
Praying for someone at Redeemer

This morning at Redeemer I gave the second of a series of messages on Healing and the Atonement. I am making the claim that healing is comprehensive, and in this way it is very Hebraic. This comprehensiveness is seen, e.g., in how Eugene Peterson translates Isaiah 53:3 in The Message:

 The fact is, it was our pains he carried—    our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.

"All the things wrong with us." The atoning sacrifice of Christ has covered all our bases. The Atonement covers sin, yes, and so much more (a lot of which is the logical outcome of our sin). This affects how "church" is supposed to happen. Since God cares for the whole person - body/soul/spirit - he gives the church spiritual gifts that edify the whole person, individually and corporately.

What should a church look like? Is there a model, a paradigm, for "church?" I believe there is, and it is seen in the book of Acts, and the letters of Paul, the book of Hebrews, etc. I think - if there has ever been a normal church - it is the early church. 

Much of the American Church seems far from this. The American Church is beset with abnormalities. My experience with many American churches feels like going to a tennis match expecting to see racquets and fuzzy yellow balls and a court bisected by a net, but instead seeing people standing around reading poetry. A Jesus-follower in the first century would go to church expecting prayers for the sick, demons being cast out, all the spiritual gifts manifesting, and maybe even a dead person brought back to life. What they might see in many American churches today bears no resemblance to that. 

Why would such things normally be expected? Because...
  • Jesus did these kind of things
  • Jesus said his followers would do these kind of things
  • The Church was birthed in these things
  • These things were understood as relation to the Atonement, in which "all the wrong things with us" were borne, by Christ, on the cross.
A Normal Church would have such things, right? If a Church does not experience miracles, signs, spiritual gifts, deliverance from demonic oppression, and wonders, then it is abnormal, in terms of the original template.

Theologian Roger Olson writes:

"Most contemporary American evangelical Christians only pay lip service to the supernatural whereas the Bible is saturated with it. To a very large extent we American evangelicals...   have absorbed the worldview of modernity by relegating the supernatural, miracles, scientifically unexplainable interventions of God, to the past (“Bible times”) and elsewhere (“the mission fields”)." ("Embarrased By the Spirit?")

Last week, and this morning, we prayed for sick people to be well. I asked for a show of hands - "How many are suffering from some physical emotional illness and would like to receive prayer for it?" Many hands went up. We had people come today because they heard we were doing this.

We saw healings, last week, and this morning. I talked with a number of people who told me they had pain, and after praying for them the pain was gone. A group of our youth were praying for two women. From the other side of the sanctuary I heard spontaneous applause. I went over and asked the women what happened. Both said, with smiles on their faces, that chronic pain had been taken away. They were now praising God for what only he can do!

This is the kind of thing that should happen in church, right? How weird to be in a church where expectation is low, even nonexistent, even to be avoided, and there are no prayers for sick people who are there. How bizarre if a church is embarrassed by doing this. What if, horror upon horror, we bring a friend who sees this happening, and they are freaked out by it!

Olson writes:

"We [in the American Church] pray for the sick—that God will comfort them and “be with them” in their misery. We pray that God will give their doctors skill as they treat them. But we avoid asking God to heal them. We avoid any mention of demons or demonic possession and strictly shun exorcism as primitive and superstitious—except when Jesus did it. We look down on churches that anoint the sick with oil and pray for their physical healing. We suspect they are “cultic” and probably encourage ill people not to seek medical treatment. We (perhaps rightly) make fun of evangelists who claim to have prayed for God to re-route hurricanes but never ourselves pray for God to save people from natural disasters. We have gradually adopted the idea that “Prayer doesn’t change things; it changes me” and, like Friedrich Schleiermacher, regard petitionary prayer as something for children."

Olson is correct. I experience cognitive dissonance when 1) I read stories of the first century church in the Bible; and then 2) I am in churches where virtually nothing about the first-century church happens and, more than this, is dismissed as dangerous and "weird." Which is really weird, to me.

This morning, during our worship experience, someone spoke in tongues, followed by an interpretation. As a young Jesus-follower, who had never read the New Testament, some people told me that things like speaking in tongues and prophesying and engaging demons were bizarre. This had some impact on me, since I was a philosophy major, and philosophy is the discipline that elevates reason over experience, and definitely over feelings and emotions. I was in a hard position, since the Bible I was reading said tongues and prophecy and healing were given to the church, by the Holy Spirit, for its edification. I concluded that the cessationists were wrong. I went one night, alone, into the sanctuary of the Lutheran church I was raised in, knelt at the altar, and prayed, "God, I want everything you have for me, including the spiritual gifts you have given to us."

Olson writes:

"My experience is that the richer and more educated we evangelicals... become the less likely we are to really believe in and expect miracles. We relegate the supernatural to the inner work of persons believing that God can change people's hearts, but we do not really believe God intervenes in the physical world. Yet the Bible is full of examples of God's interventions in the physical world, it commands us to pray for such, and evangelical (and Catholic) Christians in the Global South almost all believe in and pray for God's miraculous interventions - especially in healing the sick."

My belief is that most American Christians have given in - unconsciously - to a reductionist, anti-supernaturalist worldview. They say they live by biblical truths, while practically denying how those truths played out in the early church. Why? Not because of intellectual reasoning, but because, as Olson and I know, they want their religion to be "respectable." (Ahhh...., the religion of respectability.)

Are there abuses by Christian pastors on cable TV? Of course. But the following reasoning fails:

1) There are abuses by people who believe in the spiritual gifts.
2) Therefore, the spiritual gifts are to be avoided, or are even non-existent.

No. That is irrational. The baby is thrown out with the bathwater.

Next Sunday morning at Redeemer we'll talk about this again. We will pray for the sick. Underscore the word we. This is our "normal." I will pray for a fresh anointing on our people to pray for the sick. My expectation level is high. The reality of God showing up in love and power feels biblical to me. It's beautiful. It's better than the many words of the sermons I give. It feels like Church. And few people are thinking about "getting out on time."




Paul Tournier On the Importance of Silence


Image result for john piippo silence
Woman praying in Jerusalem
In the mid-1970s, while studying at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, I was introduced to the writing of Swiss physician Paul Tournier. I eventually picked up a volume that contained four of his books - The Best of Paul Tournier: Guilt and Grace; The Meaning of Persons; The Person Reborn; To Understand Each Other. Linda and I used to give, as gifts to wedding couples, Tournier's slim, but deep, To Understand Each Other.  

Tournier wrote from a depth few seemed to possess. What was his source? He explains in an interview, found here (Paul Tournier, "A Listening Ear: Reflections on Christian Caring," in Richard Foster and Emilie Griffin, Spiritual Classics: Selected Readings on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines, 160 ff.). 

Tournier is asked: "Doctors are among the busiest people in our day. It is significant, therefore, that it is a doctor who emphasizes the importance of silence, of meditation. You have practiced meditation constantly for the last fifty years. Why?"

Tournier: "Modern people lack silence. They no longer lead their own lives; they are dragged along by events. It is a race against the clock. I think that what so many people come to see me for is to find a quiet, peaceful person who knows how to listen and who isn't thinking all the time about what he has to do next. If your life is full already, there won't be room for anything else. Even God can't get anything else in. So it becomes essential to cut something out. I'm putting it as simply as I can."

What is "silence?"

Tournier says: "For me, above all, it is a waiting. I wait for God to stimulate my thoughts sufficiently to renew me, to make me creative instead of being what St. Paul calls a tinkling cymbal. It's the cornerstone of my life. It is an attempt at seeing people and their problems from God's point of view, insofar as that is possible."

Get alone and silent today and talk with God.

(On the nature of biblical meditation see here.)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

If God Knows What We Will Choose in the Future Does this Mean We Don't Have Free Will?


(I am re-posting this for a student who asked me the question last week during my Philosophy of Religion class, in our discussion of Alvin Plantinga's refutation of J. L. Mackie's argument attempting to show that theism is logically incoherent.)

Invariably, in my logic and philosophy of religion classes, a student will ask this question: If God knows what I am going to do, then it seems I have no choice but to do it? But that does not follow, logically. God's foreknowledge is not incompatible with libertarian free will. To think so is to have made a mistake in modal logic. 

Here G = God knows John will eat an orange tonight.

O = John will eat an orange tonight.

~ = 'not.'

  = 'possible'

= 'If..., then'

 = 'and'

The following statement is True:  ~(G  ~O) [It is not possible that God knows John will eat an orange tonight and John not eat an orange tonight.]

The following statement is False (this is a modal fallacy):  G ~~O [If God knows John will eat an orange tonight than it is not possible that John not eat an orange tonight. Or: If God knows John will eat an orange tonight than it is logically necessary that John eat an orange tonight. There is nothing logically necessary about John eats an orange tonight.]


Here's some explanation.

THE COMPATIBILITY OF DIVINE FOREKNOWLEDGE AND HUMAN FREEDOM

1. Some say, “If God knows what choices people are going to make, then we do not have free will in making those choices.”

2. Plantinga (and others) show that this reasoning is not logical. It commits a fallacy in modal logic.

3. Modal logic concerns the different “modes” of the verb “to be.”
a. The 3 modes of “to be” are:
i. Possibility
ii. Probability
iii. Necessity

b. Consider the statement: The coffee in this cup is hot. On modal logic, is this statement true?
i. Possibly? Yes.
ii. Probably? Yes (more or less).
iii. Necessarily? No.

c. If the statement The coffee in this cup is hot were necessarily true, then the coffee in the cup could not not be hot. But that is impossible.
d. No contingent statement can be necessarily true. To claim that is commit a modal fallacy.

4. Consider the statement John will eat an orange tonight. (Call this J)
a. Is this possible? Yes.
b. Is this probable? Yes (more or less).
c. Is this necessarily true? No. Because if it were, then John could not not eat an orange tonight.
d. What if the statement is false. Is it then necessarily false? No.

5. Let G mean: God knows John will eat an orange tonight.

6. Call this Statement 1:
a. It is not possible that (G and not-J).
b. Statement 1 is true. It claims that it is not possible for event G and event not-J to obtain.
c. It’s equivalent to saying, e.g.: It is not possible for both John to be a bachelor and for John to be married.

7. Consider Statement 2, which commits the modal fallacy:
a. If G, then it is not possible that not-J.
b. This reads: If God knows that John will eat an orange tonight, then it is not possible that John will not eat an orange tonight.
c. But that ascribes logical necessity to a contingent event. It thus commits the modal fallacy.
d. (Using our “bachelor” analogy, the following is false: If John is a bachelor, then it is not possible for John not to be a bachelor. Wrong. Because it is possible for John to not be a bachelor. There is no logical necessity involved in John’s being a bachelor.

To see this argument, complete with modal symbols, go to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on “Foreknowledge and Free Will,” Section 6.

See also Craig and Moreland, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, 517 ff..  

Friday, March 17, 2017

Now Happening at Redeemer

Worship at Redeemer


Some things that are happening at Redeemer:

FACING OUR FEARS AND EMBRACING THE FATHER: On Sunday evening, April 2, 6 PM, Linda Piippo will speak and teach on fear, how to face it, and how to overcome it. This is the presentation Linda gave at the recent Dayton conference. Anyone is invited to come. A time of refreshments and fellowship will follow.

PRAYING BOOK STUDY: Pastor John's study on his book Praying will meet on Sat. morning, April 1, 10 AM. Issues we will look at include: How solitary prayin...g helps in the creation of authentic community; How praying is bigger than what we can think or see; How praying shapes us into overcomers; and How praying releases us from a spirit of control. Anyone interested is invited to come.

HOW DO WE RESPOND TO IMMIGRANTS AND REFUGEES? What would Jesus have us do? Pastor John will be leading a book study on this issue, using the book Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis. If you are interested in being part of this, then: 1) Let John know; and 2) purchase the book and read it. John will be looking at a date when we can meet to discuss, pray, and listen to what God is saying to us.

BAPTISMS: Sunday morning, April 9.

1 PETER 2:24 - Healing and the Atonement: Part 2. This Sunday, March 19, 10:30, at Redeemer. Bring friends who would like us to pray for their physical and emotional healing. And yes, I do expect people to be healed!

MINISTRY TO VICTIMS OF SEX TRAFFICKING AND EXPLOITATION: Some of our church's women are involved in a ministry that goes into strip clubs and reaches out to the women involved in this. If you are interested, please contact the church office - 734-242-5277.

Hearing God: Step One

Lake Erie shoreline

Our primary goal in life is not to hear God speak to us, but to be in a loving relationship with him and our brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God. Only if we are maturing people in a loving relationship with God and others will we hear him correctly.

How weird it would be to want to hear God speak to me while not wanting to be in relationship with him, or in community with God's people. That would be using God for my own self, which would be futility, since God will not be used by anyone.

Dallas Willard writes:

"Only our communion with God provides the appropriate context for communications between us and him. And within those communications, guidance will be given in a manner suitable to our particular lives and circumstances. It will fit into our life together with God in his earthly and heavenly family. Again, this is our first preliminary insight to help us in our learning to discern God’s voice." (Willard, Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God, p. 42; emphasis mine)


***
My book Praying is available as a Kindle book HERE
Paperback HERE and HERE.
Hard cover HERE
You can contact me at: johnpiippo@msn.com.