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 Amazon.com (Leading the Presence-Driven Church)




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

The Kindle book should be available soon.













Contents 

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 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Violent Night (The Real Christmas Story)



Monroe

In Revelation 12:1-7 we have an alternative nativity story. Eugene Peterson writes:  “This is not the nativity story we grew up with, but it is the nativity story all the same.” (Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination, 121)

This is why C.S. Lewis referred to the birth of Christ as an act of war. Christmas, said Lewis, is about "The Great Invasion." In chapter 7 of Mere Christianity he writes:

"One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe--a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease, and sin...  

Christianity agrees that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.

Enemy-occupied territory--that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage." 

Christmas Eve was the night before the Great Invasion. The creatures were stirring, even the mouse. We see this upheaval in the non-happy-holiday telling of Christmas found in Revelation 12:1-7. It reads:

A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. 

And there was war in heaven.

Robert Mounce says that: 
  1. The "woman" here is not Mary, but the messianic community, the "ideal Israel"
  2. Out of the messianic community is born a "child," a Messiah; 
  3. The seven-headed red dragon is Satan (Rev. 12:9; 20:2); and
  4. Satan is looking to devour this child; AKA Jesus the Christ. 

Mary has already been prophetically warned about such things. In Luke 2 we read that...

...the old man "Simeon took him [baby Jesus] in his arms and praised God, saying: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." 

The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." 

Violent night

Holy night

All's not calm

All's not bright


Christmas Eve - that violent night when the Light of the World descended into darkness...



***
My two books are:


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.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Bolles Harbor

My back yard

River Raisin

Monroe

Monroe County

Dixon Road

River Raisin

My back yard

Monroe County

Monroe County

Monroe County

Monroe County

River Raisin dam

Monroe

River Raisin (from Plank Road)

Monroe

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.
REGISTRATION NOW OPEN 
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 giving...it'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           
STAY CONNECTED:
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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!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Value of a Well-Formed Heart


Henri Nouwen writes:

"What is the value of well-trained and well-informed Christians and spiritual leaders when their hearts remain ignorant? What is the value of great theological erudition or great pastoral adeptness or intense but fleeting mystical experience or social activism when there is not a well-formed heart to guide a well-formed life?" (Nouwen, Henri J. M.; Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit; K 177)


This is a rhetorical question. The correct answer is: "None." Or, perhaps: "Little."

In the Jesus-life the heart comes before the head. Apart from a heart connected to Jesus, we can do nothing.

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.)

Immanuel. 

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
734-242-5277

Cost: $0.

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

Questions? Email me at johnpiippo@msn.com.

Anyone is invited to attend.

COMING TO REDEEMER

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. (redeemerfellowshipchurch.com)

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

PJ

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