Sunday, December 31, 2017

Make Love Your Aim in 2018

Image result for john piippo love
In Little Italy. New York City

My prayer, for myself, is that my heart would be transformed into a heart of love that goes beyond self-love and friend-love to enemy-love. 

That Jesus' words would be more completely fulfilled, in me: 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

Happy New Year!

My new book is Leading the Presence-Driven Church.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Remembering as an Eschatological Event

3012 20th Ave., Rockford, Illinois
(Add remembering to your prayer life.)

I was born in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (Hancock). My parents moved to Rockford, Illinois, when I was a year old.

Whenever I return to Rockford I like to walk in my old neighborhood. I've done this many times, carrying my journal + camera with me. I walked it again this past summer.

We lived in the last house on a cul-de-sac - our address was 3012 20th Avenue. I have never forgot our phone number - 399-7931. Adjacent to our house was 25th Street Park. I loved that park! I remember the countless hours I played there with my friends. 

That was the late 1950s and 1960s.

I am thankful for my childhood. I could not wait for school to end and summer to begin! I had fun, adventure, and growth that was non-media-driven. We did have TV, but only three stations, and reception depended on which way the antenna on the roof was pointing. I played from sun-up to sundown. I can hear my mother's voice calling me in the dark - "John, it's time to come in!"

My parents have died, but as I walk down 20th Avenue, I remember. I smell my mother's cooking. We rarely ate out. For me that was no loss, since I'll eat from my parents' table any time. Mom loved to cook, and loved to watch us enjoy her cooking. A lot of her esteem came from providing and home-making. She taught me how to make mashed potatoes. I've never met a mashed potato that measured up to my mom's. Her cooking was like encountering Platonic Forms by which all shadowy, insubstantial culinary efforts were to be measured.

I walk to Rolling Green School, where I went from kindergarten through 4th grade. Then to Whitehead Elementary School. Then, Jefferson Junior High School. Finally, to Rockford East High. Whitehead and Jefferson were brand new when I was there. Now, they have aged. Everything here is older. I see the same trees, but they are bigger. 

One year my father brought a small pine tree he dug up from the family farm in the Upper Peninsula. He planted it at 3012 20th Avenue. It was so small I could jump over it. Now, sixty  years later, it's tall. I walk past it, pick a pine cone, and take it with me back to Michigan. One of these pine cones made it to my office in our church building. I left it there for years. On occasion I held it and thought of my father and mother and family. It is good to do this. Never forget where you are from.

Remembering is sweet for me. I know that's not so for everyone, but it is for me. Therefore, I remember. 

  • I remember my loving, hard-working parents. 
  • I remember how they looked after me and fed me and clothed me. 
  • I remember my mother taking me to a store named Goldblatt's to buy a shirt and a pair of jeans. 
  • I remember my father, every winter, making an ice rink in our back yard. 
  • I remember every square inch of that small yard I mowed and played in. 
  • I remember my mother making "pasties" and fruit pies. 
  • I remember my father hitting baseballs to me in the park.
  •  I remember my neighborhood friends. 
  • I remember the cracks in the sidewalk on 20th Avenue. 
  • I remember going to our Lutheran Church, and having my father as a Sunday School teacher. 
  • I remember the smell of the brand new '55 Chevy dad bought - two-tone green. 
  • I remember our pet dog "Candy." 
  • I remember sharing a bedroom with my brother Mike.

Spiritually, "remembering" is foundational. Remembering is core Judeo-Christian activity. This is not about "nostalgia." I don't dwell on the past, or long for a return to it. For me, my many returns to walk in the old neighborhood are sacred. Holy. "Holy" means: "set apart." A tiny, mundane piece of earth becomes the center of the universe, the place where God manifests his glory and presence.

Remembering, as essential covenantal activity, is not really about the past. My memory-walk down 20th Avenue is an eschatological event. To understand the future, to have real hope, one must remember the past, and where one was born and came from. I am a hopeful person today because of a childhood filled with days of expectancy. As I walk these earthly streets I think of the new heaven and new earth that is to come. It will be a safe, loving, playful and adventurous place. My entire family will be there.

I remember Christ, and what God in Jesus has done for me. 

I remember the "rescue." I remember what the Lord has done. 

"The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy." (Ps. 126:3)

Remembering creates expectation. Expectation has to do with hope. Hope is future-oriented.

When I pray, I remember the deeds of the Lord, done unto me.

My just-published book is Leading the Presence-Driven Church.

Monday, December 25, 2017

My Book - Now Available at (Leading the Presence-Driven Church)

My book Leading the Presence-Driven Church is finally available, in paperback, here at

The Kindle book should be available soon.


Chapter 1 Introduction 

Chapter 2 The Case for Experience

Chapter 3 The “Presence Motif” 

Chapter 4 Presence Comes Before Purpose and Programs 

Chapter 5 How to Experience God’s Presence

Chapter 6 The Marks of a Presence-Driven Church 

Chapter 7 The Language of the Presence-Driven Church 

Chapter 8 Leading the Presence-Driven Church 

Chapter 9 God’s Presence Will Win the Day 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Some of My Photos - and Merry Christmas!

Here are some photos I took in Monroe and Monroe County,
with some quotes.


Bolles Harbor

My back yard

River Raisin


Monroe County

Dixon Road

River Raisin

My back yard

Monroe County

Monroe County

Monroe County

Monroe County

River Raisin dam


River Raisin (from Plank Road)


My back yard

Plank Road

Monroe County

My front yard

Our neighbor's yard

Merry Christmas! (Plus... two conferences)

 The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth! Jn 1:14

Celebrating Jesus...the perfect gift!

Merry Christmas and blessings, 
from the family of God at 
Holy Spirit Renewal Ministries.
Two Amazing Events
Need a unique, last minute Christmas gift? Give the gift of registration at a life-impacting Holy Spirit Renewal Ministries event. It's the gift that keeps on's a gift with eternal value. Gift your family and friends, and yourself and let the adventure begin! To learn more and to register click here for the Women's Conference. To learn more and to register click here for the Green Lake Holy Spirit Conference. 
    Women's Conference click here                     Holy Spirit Conference click here           

Many of us heard Wendy Backlund from Bethel Redding at our summer 2017 HSRM conference. Wendy will join some other excellent speakers for our HSRM Women's Conference in Dayton, March 15-17.

I will be with Michael Brown and Francis Anfuso at our summer 2018 HSRM Conference. Please pray about spending five days with us. This conference is, among all I have been to, my favorite, and the one that has most influenced Linda and I. It's more than a conference, it's a family. I invite you to be part of it!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Reality of Real Presence: A Few Thoughts on "Immanuel"

Geese, on the River Raisin

I just finished breakfast, and am in our upstairs office. I'm reading Scripture - Job, and the Psalms - and listening for God.

Then, I read out of the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 1.

All this took place to fulfill what had been 
spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, 
and they shall name him Immanuel,” 
which means, “God is with us.”

It hits me. God is with me. Now.

I've known this for almost forty-eight years. I tell others, "God is with you." But I need to hear it, over and over and again and again, for myself.

"John...    I...   the Great I AM...   am with you...   the lower-case i am...  now...   in your home office...  this day...  presently..."

Not in theory. A lot of good that would do! Not a cliche, not a slogan, not a platitude, not a wish. 

Dallas Willard writes:

“The kingdom is available now; I just have to want it more than I want anything else. The Trinity is right here. I don’t have to wait. I don’t have to be preoccupied. I don’t have to have anything solved. In fact, I could say to the world, “Go ahead, bring it on, because nothing can separate me.” I just have to want it more than I want anything else. I just have to say, “With God’s help in this moment, I will refuse to allow anything to sever that from me.” (Willard, Living in Christ's Presence, p. 105)

 John Jefferson Davis writes: 

“The believer is really, truly, factually, ontologically united in communion with all three persons of the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This truth of the believer’s new state of being precedes and is the proper foundation of any particular act of worship.” (Worship and the Reality of God: An Evangelical Theology of Real Presence, Kindle Locations 745-746.)


God... with... you... this very moment... in the room...  deep within you...  now...  presently...  no matter your circumstances...  no matter your concerns...  

Real presence. This is the primal truth I am to hold tightly to. It makes all the difference in how I live this day.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Learning About the Presence-Driven Church (4-Night Seminar)

I talked with my publisher this afternoon. It looks like my book Leading the Presence-Driven Church will be available to purchase in two to three weeks. The cost will be $13.95 for the soft cover, and $7.99 for the e-book (Kindle).

I will be doing a four-evening seminar on the book, and invite you to it if you are in the area.

The details are:

Seminar on Leading the Presence-Driven Church
Jan. 14, 21, 28, and Feb. 4.
5 - 6:15 PM
Redeemer Fellowship Church
5301 Evergreen
Monroe, MI

Cost: $0.

Purchase the book. Begin reading. Bring your comments, thoughts, and questions.

Questions? Email me at

Anyone is invited to attend.


Our new Educational Wing

(This is especially for my Redeemer family, and anyone interested in what we are doing.)

December 18, 2017

Dear Redeemer Family:

Here are some things I want to share with you.

REDEEMER KIDS CHRISTMAS CAROLING AT THE LUTHERAN HOME: On Tuesday, Dec. 19, Linda will be taking 18 of her Redeemer vocal students Christmas caroling at the Lutheran Home. I will be accompanying them on guitar. Mary Walls is there, so we will spend some special time with her.

ONE-HOUR SEMINARY: This Tuesday night, Dec. 19, I will be on Facebook Live again. 9-10 PM. I will teach live for 30 minutes on “How to Know the Will of God.” Then, up to 30 minutes of live Q&A.

OUR WEDNESDAY NIGHT YOUNG ADULT GROUP continues to meet. Linda and I and several in our Home Group were at the meeting two weeks ago and were pleased and grateful for what God is doing in this group!

YOUTH GROUP THIS THURSDAY, DEC. 21, WITH JOSH BENTLEY: This Thursday at Youth Group, Dec.21 we will have Josh Bentley coming to teach on what the real Christmas story looks like and we will have time at the end to have some snacks and time to hangout together. 

CHRISTMAS EVE MORNING AT REDEEMER: We will preach on the Incarnation, the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. Tom White will give his testimony of how God rescued him out of darkness and into the light. Plus, Holly and Linda have been working with our kids to help us lead one of our worship songs.

CHRISTMAS EVE AT REDEEMER: Dec. 24, 6 PM. We’ll have communion together, then have our traditional candle-lighting as we sing “Silent Night” together. This event will last an hour or less.

A LARGE GROUP OF REDEEMER PEOPLE will be traveling to Kansas City to be at the annual One Thing Conference. This happens Dec. 28-31. Please pray for safe travels. I love it when our people attend these kind of events. It adds so much to our church family! And, thanks to all who are leading and putting the trip together.

NEW YEAR’S EVE WORSHIP AT REDEEMER: Join Linda, I, Holly, and others as we spend New Year’s Eve together at the church building. We will start with games and snacks at 9 pm. Then, praise and worship from 11 to midnight.

ANOTHER BASKETBALL & PIZZA NIGHT! Wow – we had 50-60 people at our recent Basketball and Pizza Night! We ordered 20 pizzas! So, why not try for another one? Basketball & Pizza Night – Sunday, Jan. 7, 5 PM.

MY BOOK – LEADING THE PRESENCE-DRIVEN CHURCH: The book should be out soon. Right now, it’s in the final production phase, as the publisher does what is needed to get it up on Amazon and other sites. The book has nine chapters. I want to do a Sunday night BOOK STUDY for four Sunday evenings, 5-6 PM, Jan. 14, 21, 28, Feb. 4. The game plan is to cover two chapters a session. You read the book in advance, then I teach and respond to questions. My book is mostly about what I have seen God doing at Redeemer, and how leadership works in a church like ours. Please pray about joining me for these four evenings. And, it is my joy to have dedicated this book to YOU, my brothers and sisters of Redeemer Fellowship Church.

OUR ANNUAL CHILI COOK-OFF is January 21, 2018. Save the Date!

NATIONAL PRAYER SUMMIT – FEB. 22-24: I will be one of the speakers at the National Prayer Summit, Feb. 22-24, in Spring Arbor, MI. Also speaking will be Steve Beaumont from Bethel Redding. The main speaker is George Otis of The Sentinel Group. (George was one of our Green Lake speakers years ago.) Go HERE for information and registration.

WENDY BACKLUND FROM BETHEL REDDING will be the main speaker at our HSRM Women’s Conference, March 15-18, in Dayton, Ohio.

STEVE BACKLUND FROM BETHEL REDDING will be with us for a weekend at Redeemer, May 18-20.

REDEEMER GIVING: You can give online by going HERE. (

Linda and I bless all of you with a meaning-filled week leading up to another Christmas celebration in our church and homes!


The Presence-Driven Church Doesn't Value "Spontaneity"

"So John, are you saying that, instead of pre-planning worship "services," we should allow people to be "spontaneous?" Is this the old debate on planning vs. spontaneity?"

No. Those questions arise out of a paradigm I'm not embracing. 

In my leadership I never encourage people to be spontaneous. Why not?

While "spontaneous" has the sense of "not pre-planned," it does not capture the idea of responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Spontaneity is too impulsive, and not discerning enough.

Pre-planning is not bad, if it means discerning ahead of time God's leading and direction for a coming Sunday morning. P-DC planning is a co-planning, with God. Often, God directs me on Monday, for the coming Sunday. And often, God directs me on Sunday morning, differently from what I was anticipating. Like yesterday morning at Redeemer, as you saw if you were there. 

The presence-driven church (P-DC) does not value "spontaneity." Instead, the P-DC values "discernment," "following," "hearing God," "respond," and "obedience." P-DC leaders use these words, instead of "spontaneity."

See Chapter 7 of my book Leading the Presence-Driven Church, "The Language of the Presence-Driven Church."

Chapter 1 Introduction ..........................................................................1 
Chapter 2 The Case for Experience .....................................................7 
Chapter 3 The “Presence Motif” ......................................................... 23 
Chapter 4 Presence Comes Before Purpose and Programs................39 
Chapter 5 How to Experience God’s Presence.................................... 53 
Chapter 6 The Marks of a Presence-Driven Church ........................... 65 
Chapter 7 The Language of the Presence-Driven Church....................99 
Chapter 8 Leading the Presence-Driven Church.................................113 
Chapter 9 God’s Presence Will Win the Day.......................................129

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Leading the Presence-Driven Church (My coming book)

Click on the book cover to enlarge

Final edits are done.

Next week Leading the Presence-Driven Church begins the publication phase.

I'm not sure how long this takes until it's up at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD, et. al.

When it comes out pricing will be:

Kindle book - $7.99

Softcover - $13.95

Hard cover - $30.95

Friday, December 15, 2017

Must a Presence-Driven Church Have Marathon Meetings?

Thanks again to any and all who have been responding to these posts I made yesterday. 

Presence-Driven Churches Cannot Have Multiple Stacked Services

A few interpreted what I was saying as a call to have long, extended, marathon services, instead of short services.

That's not what I am saying.

"Length" is irrelevant to the presence-driven church, in the sense that this is not about another method (like the "Church Growth Movement" - see Gary Black, The Theology of Dallas Willard: Discovering Protoevangelical Faith). What is relevant is "led." 

"Led," not "length," is the issue.

This is about a relationship, not a method or formula, between God and us. Real relationships are slow-cookers, not microwaves. Time is needed. So when, e.g., during a Sunday morning gathering, it appears that God is touching one or more persons with his presence, I feel led by the Spirit to allow this to happen. I am thankful I am not in a situation where I have to ask people to leave because the next "service" is going to begin in fifteen minutes.

This temporal space allows people to linger. Everyone doesn't. I release them, giving them permission to leave. We hold no hostages. But we also don't hold the Holy Spirit hostage to pre-set, methodical temporal constraints. (Because visitors won't come back if things go too long? Even if, as best we can tell, God is moving, healing, delivering, encouraging, strengthening, comforting, guiding? Aren't such things what the visitors really need?)

I attempt to spell these things out in my coming book Leading the Presence-Driven Church. (January 2018?)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Consciousness and Creation Out of Nothing

Linda and I in Green Lake, Wisconsin

Atheist Bertrand Russell, in his essay "A Free Man's Worship," was amazed, even stunned, that unthinking Mother Nature could produce offspring that could think, and had free will. Indeed, all should be stunned by this, since mental events seem discontinuous from physical matter.

Few doubt that, with the universe's beginning, all that existed were physical particles. Yet somehow, mental events such as consciousness and feeling and free will eventually came to exist. How so?

J. P. Moreland has argued that consciousness is best explained by the existence of a conscious Being. (See Moreland, Consciousness and the Existence of God: A Theistic Argument.) Philosopher Paul Copan writes: 

"J. P. argues that the emergence of consciousness cannot be accounted for by a rearrangement of matter. Conscious/subjective experience is radically distinct from the stuff of matter—a point which a number of naturalists like Colin McGinn and John Searle readily admit. Indeed, the emergence of consciousness in a material world without God looks more like creation out of nothing than an emergent property." (Copan, "J.P. Moreland's Natural Theology," in 
J. P. Moreland, Paul M. Gould and Richard Brian Davis. Loving God with Your Mind: Essays in Honor of J. P. Moreland, p. 119)