Thursday, May 31, 2018

Join Linda and I for Our Favorite Conference Ever!

Holy Spirit Renewal Conference JUNE 2018 from HSRM on Vimeo.

THIS is our FAVORITE CONFERENCE EVER! 

Linda and I have been attending for twenty-six years. 

This is more than another conference, it's a family. It has given us life-long friendships. 

We experience God's presence and power. Linda and I know our lives have been forever changed because of this five-day experience. 

Much of what we have learned about the Holy Spirit has been mediated to us through this conference. 

And, it is situated in a stunning, vast, beautiful Wisconsin setting. 

IT'S COMING - YAY! 

Why not join us and many others? Watch the video for contact details. 

Blessings!



Click here for Green Lake Conference Center website

10 REASONS TO GO TO THE HOLY SPIRIT RENEWAL CONFERENCE:

1.  God's presence is there
2.  God's power is at work 
3.  Faith gets enlarged
4.  Strongholds are broken
5.  Worship is anointed
6.  Healings happen
7.  Deeper understanding of the Spirit-filled life is gained 
8.  Revival, Renewal, Restoration, Refreshment, Rest, Recreation
9.  Kids love it, teens love it, adults love it, pastors love it

10. It's a family...!
HOLY SPIRIT RENEWAL MINISTRIES

Why I Pray

Downtown Monroe

This morning I received two e-mails from friends who have been desperately praying for answers from God. Today, they received those answers, and were blown away by this. One person wrote, “Why do I not expect this to happen?” Now, for the moment at least, they are motivated to pray more. God’s loving responses to them motivate me to pray more. 

In a few minutes I will walk to the back of our property, by the river, where there is an old table, and my praying chair. I’ll bring my journal, Bible, and a cup of coffee… to meet with God for a while, and pray. I will pray for others, and I will listen to God speak to me. At this point in my life, I rarely leave these prayer times without feeling encouraged and strengthened. 

Why do I do this? Why do I pray? The basic reason is: because Jesus did. Here’s my reasoning. 

1. Jesus is my Great Shepherd. 
2. My Great Shepherd spent much time praying. 
3. Therefore, I spend much time praying. 

How do we know Jesus spent much time praying? Because “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.” (Luke 22:29) What Jesus did there was: 

1) instruct his disciples to watch and pray. 
2) pray, himself. 

“As usual,” Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, and prayed. “As was his custom.” Praying was Jesus’ customary way of doing life. If Jesus habitually did this, who am I, one of his followers, not to? 

I read of a sign, supposedly on the Alaskan Highway, where the road turned from pavement to dirt. It read: “Choose your rut carefully. You’ll be in it for the next hundred miles.” Choose praying. Over time, it will become the habitual rut in which you live your life.

- From John Piippo, Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God (Kindle Locations 3636-3652). 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Prayer and Potato Chips


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Monroe, MI

There was a man in our church named Floyd. Floyd died several years ago. It was my privilege to do his funeral. When I met with Floyd’s wife, Grace, she shared something I had never heard before. 

“Floyd,” she said, “was a thankful person who was always thanking God for what he had been given.” 

Floyd had not come from a wealthy family. As I heard about him and his thankful heart, it reminded me of my mother who, as a young girl, sometimes received only an orange for a Christmas present, and cherished and savored it, and was thankful. 

How deep did Floyd’s heart of thanks run? “Whenever we had snacks, like potato chips,” said Grace, “Floyd would stop, bow his head, and thank God as the bag of chips was passed to him.” 

“You’re kidding me, right?” I said. “Floyd would give thanks, in front of everyone, for potato chips?!!” 

“Yes. He was grateful to God for anything that came his way.” 

I thought: I’m not that thankful. I take too many things for granted. “For granted” - to expect someone, or something, to be always available to serve you in some way without thanks or recognition; to value someone, or something, too lightly. 

To “take something for granted” - to expect something to be available all the time, and forget that you have not earned it. 

A “for granted” attitude presumes. A “for granted” attitude has a sense of entitlement. Like: “I am entitled to these potato chips.” 

“For granted” - to fail to appreciate the value of something. 

“Entitlement” - the belief that one is deserving of certain privileges. Like: “I deserve these potato chips.” 

Floyd, it seems, had no sense of entitlement, as if God owed him something. He didn’t take provision, in any form, for granted. From that framework, giving thanks logically follows. And, in yet another “great reversal,” God is deserving of, and entitled to, our praise and thanksgiving. God, for Floyd, was not some cosmic butler whose task was to wait on him, and make sure he was satisfied with the service. 

The apostle Paul instructed us to “always give thanks for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”418 “For everything” is all-inclusive. Nothing exists outside the realm of “for everything.” Everything is a gift from God, even my very life, even my eyes as I read this, and my breath as I inhale. If I gave thanks for everything, my gratitude would be unceasing. 

If I realized how God-dependent I actually am, I would stop now and say, “Thank you.” And then, in my next breath, I would say it again.

- John Piippo, Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God (Kindle Locations 3589-3612). WestBow Press. Kindle Edition. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Thirty Day Declaration Experiment - June 2018




For the month of June at Redeemer we are doing Steve and Wendy Backlund's Thirty Day Declaration Experiment

June 1- June 30. 

Go here to sign up - http://ignitinghope.com/30-day-declarations-experiment/.

AND... I'll preach and teach on this, this coming Sunday at Redeemer. Philippians 4:8-9:


...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, 
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, 
whatever is admirable
—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
—think about such things. 
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, 
or seen in me—put it into practice. 
And the God of peace will be with you.

Monday, May 28, 2018

In Praying, Remember

Image may contain: plant, flower, nature and outdoor
Tiger Swallowtail, Yellow springs, Ohio
(From John Piippo, Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God, Chapter 13, "Praying and Remembering.")

I was born in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. My parents moved to Rockford, Illinois, when I was a year old. That’s where I lived for the next twenty years. The streets of Rockford were my holy ground. Whenever I return to Rockford I like to walk in my old neighborhood. I’ve done this many times, carrying my journal and camera with me. 

We lived on a cul de sac. The address was 3012 20th Avenue. Our phone number was 399-7931. These particulars, minä muistan. ("I remember," in Finnish)

Adjacent to our house was 25th Street Park. I loved that park! I spent countless hours playing there with my friends. That was the late 1950s and 1960s. I have not forgotten. 

I am thankful for my childhood. I could not wait for school to end and summer to begin! I had fun, adventure, and growth in a world without the Web. We had TV, but only three stations. Reception depended on which way the antenna on the roof was pointing. My father had to climb on the roof to adjust the picture. 

I played from sun-up to sundown. I hear my mother’s voice calling me in the dark - “John, it’s time to come in!” 

As I walk down 20th Avenue, my five senses recall. My parents are dead, but 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 creations. 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 mother’s. In her cooking I encountered Platonic Forms, by which all shadowy, insubstantial culinary efforts were judged. 

I walk to Rolling Green School, where I attended kindergarten through fourth grade. Then to Whitehead Elementary School, Jefferson Junior High School, and finally, to Rockford East High School. 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. My parents are buried in a cemetery a few miles from here. I am older.

One year my father brought home a small pine tree he dug up from the family farm in Michigan’s 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, pluck a pine cone, and take it with me back to Michigan. One of these cones made it to my office. 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. I will never forget where I have come from. 

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

I remember 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 madras shirt and a pair of Levi’s jeans. I remember my father, every winter, making an ice rink in our back yard. I remember every square inch of that small yard that 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, and every crack 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-toned green. I remember our pet dog “Candy.” I remember sharing a bedroom with my brother Mike. 

I do not forget. 

Spiritually, “remembering” is foundational. Remembering is core Judeo-Christian activity. This is not about “nostalgia.” I don’t dwell in the past, or long for a return to it. My many returns to walk in the old neighborhood are sacred. They are 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 covenant activity, is not really about the past. My memory-walk is a full-bodied eschatological event. To understand the future and to have hope, I must remember the past and where I came from. I am a hopeful person today because of my past, 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 rejoice. 

I remember Christ, and what God, in Jesus, has given me. I remember the “rescue.” I remember what the Lord has done. The Lord has done great things for me, and I am filled with joy. 

Remembering creates expectation. Expectation concerns hope. Hope is future-oriented. 

As I pray, I remember the deeds of the Lord, in my life.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Ireland Votes to Kill Babies

In America I, like you, have rights. For example, I have certain "unalienable rights," three of which are "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." I have the right to "pursue happiness" as long as it is not illegal, and I do not violate the rights of other persons.

I do not have the right to kill persons who pose no threat to my existence. I do have "rights," but they do not include killing people. In this sense persons come before my rights.

Ireland, apparently, sees this differently. In Ireland, "my rights" come before persons. See "Ireland Votes to legalize Abortion in Blow to Catholic Conservatism." Or: "Ireland Votes to Kill Babies."

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said:

“This has been a great exercise in democracy...  We want a modern constitution for a modern country, and that we trust women and that we respect them to make the right decisions and the rights choices about their own health care.”

Yes, women have the right to make good decisions about their own health care. But women do not have the right to kill babies, not if the babies are persons. Just as I do not have the right to kill my neighbors, them being persons.

Pay attention please: THAT IS THE ISSUE

The issue is not "my rights" or "women's rights." It's this: is the inborn life a "person?" If it is, then case closed, because abortion is murder. And if it is not, then, following Peter Singer, not only should killing inborn life be allowable, it even follows rationally that in some cases euthanizing newborn babies is nonproblematic. (See "Peter Singer's Argument for Infanticide.") 

This has nothing to do with being "modern." What has modernity to do with moral values? Nothing, according to Plato, who argued for philosopher-kings instead of unenlightened majority rule.

This is a philosophical and religious issue, not a scientific one. (Because from science one cannot derive moral values.)

On this check out "Abortion: A Logical Argument." 



Irish women rejoicing because now they can kill their inborn children

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Pastors are Facilitators of Transcendence

I took this picture of the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul

People need the Lord. Therefore, introduce people to the Lord. How can this happen?

1. Know the Lord yourself. Cultivate the God-relationship. Abide in Christ, hourly.


2. Teach people how to enter into the presence of God. Show them how to abide in Christ.


3. Tend the garden. The abiding person's life will bear much fruit.


That's it. 


That's all a pastor-shepherd needs to do. 

This is about the Presence-Driven Church, which is the only church worth living for. (During Jesus' time the Temple fell because the religious leaders shut the door to the presence of God.) 

Pastors facilitate this. Pastors facilitate transcendence.


I like how Jame MacDonald writes about this.



"Transcendence is the best single word I have found to describe the attributes of God that are found only in Him and what is missing too often from our churches. We are facilitators of transcendence. Our main job is to usher in the Almighty— God forgive us when we have settled for less. When transcendence is welcomed and unveiled, no one even notices the program, the preacher, or other people. Anything resembling performance seems out of place. Because all that is visible is eclipsed by what is not: God Himself moving through the church in power and meeting with His people in manifest ways.  (MacDonald, Vertical Church: What Every Heart Longs for, What Every Church Can Be, Kindle Locations 498-502)

***
My two books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Community Is Where Humility and Glory Touch

Image result for john piippo community
With Al Willingham in Eldoret, Kenya

The Real Jesus called forth a community to dwell in and work through, not a bunch of isolated, detached individuals. Call this “church.” Ekklesia

Ek + kaleo. The called-out-by-Christ people of God. 

Effective, Jesus-indwelt community requires individual and corporate humility. Every single person in the totality abandons themselves to the will, and ways, of God. This is Real Church. It’s a Communal Movement. 

I have met community-rejecting Christians who refuse to assemble with other believers. In this, they are biblical and theological apostates, no matter how bad they were treated. They have chosen pride over humility, bitterness over forgiveness, division over reconciliation, and fear over faith. 

If community-despising is in you and you don’t want to let it go, I suggest you not get a praying life. Because if you commit to praying, God will break your heart about this. This will be the initial thing God does for you. This is crucial, because his glory refuses to descend on a proud heart. Rather, God’s glory graces the humble heart. 

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”(James 4:6) God graces and blesses the humble. This is community language. 


How very good and pleasant it is 
when kindred live together in unity! 
It is like the precious oil on the head, 
running down upon the beard, 
on the beard of Aaron, 
running down over the collar of his robes. 
It is like the dew of Hermon, 
which falls on the mountains of Zion. 
For there the LORD ordained his blessing,     
life forevermore. 

Psalm 133:1-3

The humble, unified Jesus Community can expect to experience God’s… 
• blessing 
• grace 
• glory 
• presence 
• leading 
• power 
• love 

Fellowship is where a lot of the action happens. Community is where humility and glory touch. Be praying for your Jesus Community, and your place in it.

(From John Piippo, Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God, Kindle Locations 3145-3171)

Monday, May 21, 2018

When a Church Loses Its Soul and the Shekinah Is Gone

Green Lake Christian Conference Center, Wisconsin

The soul of a church is the presence of God. God is the core. God is the sun. The church is the planet that orbits around him.

Ruth Haley Barton writes to pastors and Christian leaders about the possibility of gaining the world of ministry success and losing your own soul in the middle of it all. "If Jesus were speaking to us today, he might... point out that when leaders lose their souls, so do the churches and organizations they lead." (Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry, p. 13)


Years ago Linda and I took our boys to Washington, D.C. One of the highlights for me was visiting the Church of the Savior and hearing Gordon Cosby speak. Cosby was a spiritual giant, especially in championing Jesus-led social justice issues (yes, the Jesus-life is more than feelings). Cosby writes this:


“Soul slips away easily from a church or an institution. You may go to any of these places and find that the Spirit has departed and the Shekinah is gone. . . . When a local church loses its soul it begins to slip into mediocrity and is unable to give life. The average person doesn’t even know when a church begins to lose its soul. It takes unusual deeper wisdom to see it, and then when we see it, it is costly beyond words to retrieve it.” (Quoted in Ib.)


Let us return to His Presence.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Presence of God Advertises Itself


Wilberforce, Ohio
It's Pentecost Sunday. Linda and I are excited to have Steve Backlund from Bethel Redding at Redeemer.

Steve was with us Friday night, and Saturday morning and evening. What great gatherings we had! This morning I am filled with expectation for today. (Steve is with us at 10:30 and 6:30.)

The gatherings were great because God presenced himself. This is central. Without this, what are we doing? What are we looking for?

A.W. Tozer, in The Pursuit of God, writes:

"Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and the servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all. If we would find God amid all the religious externals we must first determine to find Him." (Tozer, The Pursuit of God, Kindle Locations 128-133)

We don't need to promote God, right? I mean, if it's really God that shows up and inhabits the house, the word will get around just fine without advertising. People will ask, "How was church today?" You will answer, "God made an appearance."

The presence of God advertises itself.

Focus on God's presence and your church's advertising budget will shrink to $0.

Because you don't have to advertise a fire.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Freedom from the Need to Be Glorified


Butterfly in my backyard

When God used Peter and John to heal the man who could not  walk in Acts 3, the people who saw this wanted to worship Peter and John. Thankfully, Peter and John were not doing this to be admired. They replied, Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? (Acts 3:12) This is a sign of their maturity.

Some preachers love being the center of attention, worship musicians love being awesome, healers love having the hem of their garments touched. These are signs of distance from God. 

The cure is being close to God. Henri Nouwen writes: 

"Our desire to be successful, well liked, and influential becomes increasingly less important as we come closer to God’s heart." (Nouwen, Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life, p. 17)

As we get transformed more and more into Christlikeness (Galatians 4:19) Christ becomes prominent, and "I" diminish into the background. In the language of Gestalt psychology, Jesus becomes "figure," and I become "ground." 

As we mature spiritually, we grow in our desire to see Christ alone glorified. We are not disappointed when he gets the spotlight, because we are free from the need to be acknowledged. This freedom is realistic since, as Dag Hammarskjold once wrote, "reputation increases, ability decreases." (Hammarskjold, Markings)

For lovers of Jesus, this is far from a letdown.

***
My two books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Pressure to Appear Happy Online Can Be Overwhelming

Image result for john piippo bangkok
I took this photo of a store in Bangkok

I am in research-and-put-thoughts-together mode for my book Technology and Spiritual Formation. (Jan. 2019?)

One of the resources I am using to understand technology and social media is The Happiness Effect: How Social Media is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost, by Donna Freitas (U. of Nore Dame; Hofstra U.). 

Social media mostly, I think, blocks formation into Christlikeness. In this way social media does not even allow us onto the playing field of the Romans 12 type of metamorphic growth.

Instead of the pursuit of God, social media gives us the pursuit of happiness. This is deep, endemic, and, as Freitas states, universal. She writes:

"The pressure to appear happy online can become overwhelming. Adolescents learn early how important it is to everyone around them that they polish their online profiles to promote their accomplishments, popularity, and general well-being. They practice this nearly constantly in their online lives and this has a tremendous effect on them—emotionally, in their relationships, and in their behavior on social media. For better or worse, students are becoming masters of appearing happy, at significant cost. This is what I’ve come to think of as the “happiness effect.” Simply put, because young people feel so pressured to post happy things on social media, most of what everyone sees on social media from their peers are happy things; as a result, they often feel inferior because they aren’t actually happy all the time." (Pp. 13-14)

It costs your authenticity to gain a fleeting appearance.

In Praying, Jesus Changed

Chapel in The Lutheran Home, Monroe, MI

I wake in the morning, go to our upstairs office, read Scripture, meditate on it, pray, and listen. Often, I don't get far, because God speaks to me through a verse.

It just happened, again. After two verses.

I'm reading in Luke 9.


Jesus took Peter, John and James with him 
and went up onto a mountain to pray. 
As he was praying, 
the appearance of his face changed, 
and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.

Luke 9:28-29

Jesus, my Redeemer, prayed. 

Things happen when you pray. You change when you pray. The glorious presence of the Father fell upon Jesus, as he was praying.

Something was happening, within Jesus, that caused the appearance of his face to change. Even his clothing changed.

I stop here. I cannot get past this. I need more inner change. I close my eyes, open the palms of my hands upward, and pray, "Change my heart, O God."



Thursday, May 17, 2018

Steve Backlund from Bethel Redding With Us at Redeemer this Weekend



Linda and I are excited about having Steve Backlund from Bethel Redding with us at Redeemer this weekend.


Steve and Wendy's Igniting Hope website is here - http://ignitinghope.com/


THE SCHEDULE




Blessings!

PJ