Friday, August 31, 2018

Consequences of an Adulterous Relationship

Holland State Park

Many are now writing about the implosion of Willow Creek, due to the sexual immorality of its founding pastor Bill Hybels, the failure of the church's leaders to listen to the abused women, the resignation of Hybels, and the leaders, plus the resignation of the two newly installed pastors who could no longer work with Willow Creek's failed leaders. 

Randy Alcorn has commented on this here. Alcorn links us to a post he made in 2009, where he and a friend listed the consequences of marital unfaithfulness. Their list is sobering.

Personalized List of Anticipated Consequences of Immorality
  • Grieving my Lord; displeasing the One whose opinion most matters.
  • Dragging into the mud Christ's sacred reputation.
  • Loss of reward and commendation from God.
  • Having to one day look Jesus in the face at the judgment seat and give an account of why I did it. Forcing God to discipline me in various ways.
  • Following in the footsteps of men I know of whose immorality forfeited their ministry and caused me to shudder. List of these names:
  • Suffering of innocent people around me who would get hit by my shrapnel (a la Achan).
  • Untold hurt to Nanci, my best friend and loyal wife.
  • Loss of Nanci's respect and trust.
  • Hurt to and loss of credibility with my beloved daughters, Karina and Angela. ("Why listen to a man who betrayed Mom and us?")
  • If my blindness should continue or my family be unable to forgive, I could lose my wife and my children forever.
  • Shame to my family. (The cruel comments of others who would invariably find out.)
  • Shame to my church family.
  • Shame and hurt to my fellow pastors and elders. List of names:
  • Shame and hurt to my friends, and especially those I've led to Christ and discipled. List of names:
  • Guilt awfully hard to shake—even though God would forgive me, would I forgive myself?
  • Plaguing memories and flashbacks that could taint future intimacy with my wife.
  • Disqualifying myself after having preached to others.
  • Surrender of the things I am called to and love to do—teach and preach and write and minister to others. Forfeiting forever certain opportunities to serve God. Years of training and experience in ministry wasted for a long period of time, maybe permanently.
  • Being haunted by my sin as I look in the eyes of others, and having it all dredged up again wherever I go and whatever I do.
  • Undermining the hard work and prayers of others by saying to our community "this is a hypocrite—who can take seriously anything he and his church have said and done?"
  • Laughter, rejoicing and blasphemous smugness by those who disrespect God and the church (2 Samuel 12:14).
  • Bringing great pleasure to Satan, the Enemy of God.
  • Heaping judgment and endless problems on the person I would have committed adultery with.
  • Possible diseases (pain, constant reminder to me and my wife, possible infection of Nanci, or in the case of AIDS, even causing her death, as well as mine.)
  • Possible pregnancy, with its personal and financial implications.
  • Loss of self-respect, discrediting my own name, and invoking shame and lifelong embarrassment upon myself.

The Ledership (not Leadership) Principle

Blue bottle fly, in our front yard

When I was teaching in the doctoral program at Palmer Theological Seminary, we gave incoming students a copy of Henri Nouwen's In the Name of Jesus. In this slim volume Nouwen made the game-changing claim that Christian leaders are led by Christ.

To lead, be led.

Let's call this "ledership."

Last summer I was talking with a pastor at one of my conferences. He was complaining about his church family. "Some of them," he said, " want to lead the church!" Then he added, "As the pastor, I want to lead church!"

This is wrong, on both counts. 

God is not interested in showing up on Sunday mornings and participating in what the pastor is leading. God wants to take over the service. God is the Shepherd, the Guide, the Orchestrator. 

As all-knowing, God knows how and where to lead. As all-powerful, God is capable of leading. As all-loving, God's leading is compassionate. God's ways are not the pastor's ways, nor are God's ways the people's ways. 

Unless God leads, the pastor and the people lead in vain.

Given this, why would the people want to lead church? Why would a pastor want to lead church? Is it an ego-thing? For power and control? Out of fear? Out of ignorance?

(I have written about what ledership means in my book Leading the Presence-Driven Church.)

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Subject of "Leadership" Is Hardly Found in the Bible

Monarch, in our front yard

Bill Hybels, founder and pastor of Willow Creek in Chicago, has fallen. He engaged in much adulterous activity over the course of his ministry. The elders of Willow Creek failed to address this in the proper way. A few weeks ago, they all stepped down from leadership. So did their two new pastors.

Willow Creek is imploding.

This is sad for many of us. 

When I was a campus pastor in the 1980s I was having coffee with an older pastor who was a mentor to me. We were talking about loving our wives as Christ loved the church and gave his life for her. I will never forget the moment he looked me in the eye and issued a warning.

"Never," he said, "meet with a woman in private. If you meet in your office, never do it unless your secretary is nearby in the building."

Then he spoke words that have forever stayed with me. "Do not think you are above this. Much better people than you have fallen into adultery."


Many are now commenting on what is happening with Willow Creek. One is missiologist Mike Black. He gives a different kind of warning. In "Pastoring in a post-Hybels world" Black  writes:

"Now that the wheels are falling off the influence of Willow Creek Church, and the GLS struggles to find its place in a post-Hybels world, I wonder if we can all now finally be free of vision statements and strategic plans and KPIs and all the other paraphernalia from 1980s corporate leadership theory.

But what does that leave us with? After two generations of professional leadership theory, what’s a pastor to do? Maybe turning back to the Bible might help (insert sarcastic tone here).
You see, while the church has been obsessed with leadership, the subject as we understand it hardly ever comes up in the Scriptures. As New Testament scholar, David Starling writes,
“When you go looking in the Bible, you realize pretty quickly that leadership can hardly be found there at all. The Bible certainly contains a host of concrete instances of individuals, tasks, offices, and images that you might want to connect in some way with the category of leaders and leadership: mothers, fathers, shepherds, sages, prophets, judges, priests, kings, messiahs, apostles, pastors, elders, overseers … the instances are everywhere. But the abstraction, the umbrella term leadership, hardly rates a mention.”
When you look at the metaphors Paul seems to prefer – mother and father, steward and herald – you see they speak of relationship, intimacy, care, faithfulness, duty, and responsibility.
All four of those images speak the twin emphases of ministry: God’s Word and God’s people."

I write about my ideas on leadership in Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Churches That Add People to Join in Their Deadness

Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit

When in doubt about the health of churches in America, pick up an A.W. Tozer book and read. Minimally, you won't be bored.

I purchased Tozer's Rut, Rot, or Revival: The Problem of Change and Breaking Out of the Status Quo. Now that is quite a title!

Tozer says that countless churches do things by "rote." That is, they operate under the Dictatorship of the Routine. This is mechanical and unfeeling, accompanied by no sense of expectation, repentance, presence, and surprise.

The predictable, controllable routine gets churches into a "rut." In the rut, people's spirits atrophy and die. They "rot."

In the rotting rut, churches still want to grow numerically. They want to get big. They do their best to get the crowds in. But to join them... in what?

Brace yourself. Here it comes. Tozer writes:

"That is true, but they are trying to get people to come and share their rut. They want people to help them celebrate the rote and finally join in the rot. Because the Holy Spirit is not given a chance to work in our services, nobody is repenting, nobody is seeking God, nobody is spending a day in quiet waiting on God with open Bible seeking to mend his or her ways. Nobody is doing it—we just want more people. But more people for what? More people to come and repeat our dead services without feeling, without meaning, without wonder, without surprise? More people to join us in the bondage to the rote? For the most part, spiritual rigidity that cannot bend is too weak to know just how weak it is."
(Tozer, Rut, Rot, or Revival, Kindle Locations 118-123)

Declarations (8.29.18)

One of our church's youth wrote this in chalk before the main entrance to our building

Naomi Vaive, who is part of our Jesus-community, wrote down these declarations, and submitted them to me.

Whatever is good, whatever is true, whatever is worthy..., say, repetitively, these things.

We are a Micah 6:8 church We are a church that hungers and thirsts for righteousness We are a church that loves our brother as we love ourselves We are a church that knows that mercy goes before justice We are a church that after doing all, stands. We are a faithful church We are a wise virgin church We are a seeking and finding church We are a watching and waiting church We are a church that ministers to the poor We are a church that makes disciples of nations, one relationship at a time We are the church in Philadelphia We are a church that boasts in the Lord We are a church that loves and prays for our enemies We are a church that has no walls We are an upside down kingdom church We are a church that says, Your kingdom come, Your will be done. We are a submitting church We are a church who knows where our treasure is held We are a church that loves Jesus

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


One of our church's youth wrote this, in chalk, before the main entrance to our church builing

Yesterday (8/27) I posted this on my Facebook page:

"TO MY PASTORAL COLLEAGUES: Want to partner with me in making this a season of preaching revival & awakening in the Church? I am putting together an e-packet of resources I am drawing on, plus how I feel God is leading me to do this in my church family. It will be available by this week's end. ("

As of now, thirteen pastors have contacted me saying they want to join me in praying and leading our churches to pray for Revival and Awakening in the Church in America.

These pastors are from: Pennsylvania, Montana, Washington, Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and New York.

I am putting together - in an e-package - how God has led and is leading me to do this. plus, I am resourcing them.

These pastors have expressed their enthusiasm for this!

IF GOD LEADS YOU TO JOIN ME please send me an email.

Keep praying,


Who You Are, and Who You Are Not


In my spiritual formation classes for pastors and Christian leaders I begin by sending the students out to pray for an hour, using Psalm 23 as their meditative focus. My instruction to them is simply: when God speaks to you, write it down.

Upon returning from their hour with God, I have found many of them will have heard God tell them, "I love you." Some have not heard thos
e words in a long time.

Henri Nouwen wrote that he was "firmly convinced that the decisive moment of Jesus's public life was his baptism, when he heard the divine affirmation, "You are my Beloved on whom my favor rests." (Spiritual Direction, 28) When God tells someone "You are my beloved," or "I love you," the most intimate truth about that person is revealed. 

God loves you: this is the ultimate truth about you. 

Nouwen says that "the ultimate spiritual temptation is to doubt this fundamental truth about ourselves and trust in alternative identities." (28)

Who are you? Nouwen counsels us not to define ourselves by the following alternative identities.

1. Do not define yourself as: "I am what I do." He writes: "When I do good things and have a little success in life, I feel good about myself. But when I fail, I start getting depressed." (Ib.) To define yourself by what you do is to live on a spiritual and emotional roller coaster that is a function of your accomplishments.

2. Do not define yourself as: "I am what other people say about me." "What people say about you has great power. When people speak well of you, you can walk around quite freely. But when somebody starts saying negative things about you, you might start feeling sad. When someone talks against you, it can cut deep into your heart. Why let what others say about you - good or ill - determine what you are?" (Ib., 29)

3. Do not define yourself as: "I am what I have." Don't let your things and your stuff determine your identity. Nouwen writes: "As soon as I lose any of it, if a family member dies, if my health goes, or if I lose my property, then I can slip into inner darkness." (Ib.)

Too much energy goes into defining ourselves by deciding "I am what I do," "I am what others say about me," or "I am what I have." Nouwen writes: "This whole zig-zag approach is wrong." You are not, fundamentally, what you do, what other people say about you, or what you have. You are loved by God.

Today, God speaks to the deep waters of your heart and says, "You are my beloved son or daughter, and on you my favor rests." To hear that voice and trust in it is to reject the three alternative ways of self-definition and enter into freedom and joy.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Parents Who Have Missed the Point

New Yorker, 8/27/18

God's Words Always Point Us to Himself

P. C. Vey, in the New Yorker

Right now at Redeemer Tim Curry and I are preaching about revival, awakening, and mission. Recently, I did two Sunday mornings on 2 Chronicles 7:14.

We are promised that when God's people humble themselves, pray, seek God's face, and turn from their wicked ways, then God's eyes and ears will be with them, and his name will be there. Which means, God will be there, presently, in our experience.

The words of 2 Chronicles 7:14 are for the purpose of pointing us to God's promised presence. The words without God's presence would be like reading books on ice cream, while never tasting it. God's words always point us to himself.


Image result for john piippo books

My two books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God (May 2016)

Leading the Presence-Driven Church (January 2018)

I am now writing:

How God Changes the Human Heart

Technology and Spiritual Formation

Linda and I plan to co-write our book on Relationships

Image result for john piippo books

Friday, August 24, 2018

Converts to Unbelief Always Tell Subtraction Stories Out of Religious Immaturity

Monroe County

One of my favorite writers is theistic philosopher James K.A. Smith (Calvin College). Having read philosopher Charles Taylor's epic A Secular Age, Smith's book is a great follow-up: How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor

Taylor has a nice take on persons who "deconvert" from Christianity to atheism because of "science." These converts to unbelief "always tell subtraction stories," and the faith they have converted from "has usually been immature." 

For Taylor the subtraction story of the deconverted is that one becomes "rational" and "secular" by subtracting "religion" and "superstition." (How very irrational.)This rings true in my experience of having deconverted students in my philosophy classes.

Smith writes: "If someone tells you that he or she has converted to unbelief because of science, don't believe them." I don't. Ever. Why not?

What usually captures the person is not scientific evidence per se, but the form of science. Smith writes: “Even where the conclusions of science seem to be doing the work of conversion, it is very often not the detailed findings so much as the form” (Taylor, p. 362). 

Indeed, “the appeal of scientific materialism is not so much the cogency of its detailed findings as that of the underlying epistemological stance, and that for ethical reasons. It is seen as the stance of maturity, of courage, of manliness, over against childish fears and sentimentality” (Taylor, p. 365)." (Smith, Kindle Locations 1673-1677)

The convert to atheism wants to "give the impression that it was the scientific evidence that was doing the work." But not so. "Converts to unbelief always tell subtraction stories." (Ib., 1677-1678) "Subtraction stories explain that "secular" is the subtraction of religious belief.

As I meet deconverted "freethinkers" and ask them what they left behind, they always describe something like a fundamentalist "Christianity" (hence modernist, because there's no one more modernist than a fundamentalist) that is near-completely anachronistic and, hence, hermeneutically false. Smith writes:

"[T]he belief such persons have converted from has usually been an immature, Sunday -schoolish faith that could be easily toppled. So while such converts to unbelief tell themselves stories about “growing up” and “facing reality” — and thus paint belief as essentially immature and childish — their “testimony” betrays the simplistic shape of the faith they’ve abandoned. “If our faith has remained at the stage of the immature images, then the story that materialism equals maturity can seem plausible” (p. 365). But in fact, their conversion to unbelief was also a conversion to a new faith: “faith in science’s ability” (p. 366)." (Smith, Kindle Locations 1679-1684)

Persons who convert to atheism "because of science" are not so much convinced by data and reason, but are more moved by the form of the story that comes with it; viz., rationality = maturity. 

Taylor and Smith suggest that our response to unbelief "is not to have an argument about the data or “evidences” but rather to offer an alternative story that offers a more robust, complex understanding of the Christian faith. The goal of such witness would not be the minimal establishment of some vague theism but the invitation to historic, sacramental Christianity." (Ib., Kindle Locations 1687-1689)

Thursday, August 23, 2018

ARISE! Women's Conference at Redeemer

Larry Sparks is publisher for Destiny Image (, a Spirit-filled publishing house pioneered by Don Nori Sr. in 1983 with a mandate to publish the prophets
Larry is fueled by a vision to help the church community create space for the Holy Spirit to move in freedom, power and revival fire, providing every believer with an opportunity to have a life-changing encounter in the Presence of God. 
In addition to publishing, Larry is a regular contributor to Charisma Magazine. He conducts seminars on revival, hosts regional Renewing South Florida gatherings, and has been featured on Sid Roth’s It’s Supernatural, TBN, CBN, the Elijah List, and Cornerstone TV. 
He earned a Master of Divinity from Regent University and enjoys life in Texas with his beautiful wife and beloved daughter. (

Larry has just co-written and published a book with Patricia King, which includes Beni johnson and Heidi Baker - 

Arise: A Prophetic Call for Women to Receive Swords, Mantles, and Kingdom Assignments.

More information TBA.

Anselm's Ontological Argument for the Existence of God (Philosophy of Religion Students)

(For my Philosophy of Religion Students. This is the last semester I will teach at MCCC. So, the Ontological Argument, perhaps with a dash of the modal version, one more time!))

I begin my Philosophy of Religion class by introducing students to an a priori argument for God's existence, as formulated famously by Anselm.

I give 1-on-1 oral exams on my teachings. Here are my expectations for question 1 on the first exam - Anselm's Ontological Argument for God.

First: state the argument exactly as I have stated it in class, and written it on the board.

1. I have an idea of a being a greater than which cannot be conceived.

2. Therefore, God exists.


1. I have an idea of a greatest possible being.
2. Therefore, God exists.

Second: explain what it is like to have an "idea" of something (explain essential and contingent attributes).

Every time you have an idea of something, that idea has essential attributes and contingent attributes. Essential attributes are what makes that thing what it is, and without which it would not be what it is.

Use the example of a triangle. Essential attributes of "triangle" include: "having three sides," and "angles equaling 80 degrees."

A contingent attribute is a non-essential attribute. E.g., the triangle in my mind is "pink." "Pinkness" is not an essential attribute of triangularity; i.e., a triangle does not have to be pink in order to qualify as a triangle.

Third: Anselm claims to be able to conceive of "greatest possible being."

I can think, in my mind, of a greatest possible being. That is, I can have an idea of "greatest possible being." Because whenever I have an idea of anything, that idea has essential attributes (otherwise I could not have the idea), my idea of "greatest possible being" includes essential attributes of: "omniscience" (knows everything that can be known); "omnipotence" (is able to do everything that can be done); and "all-loving" (assuming it is greater to love than to hate). 

OK. But why must such a being actually exist? Because... 

Fourth: explain that, for Anselm, it is greater to exist in reality than in the mind alone.

"Existence," for Anselm, is a great-making attribute or property.

Therefore a greatest possible being (AKA "God") actually exists. Because if "actual existence" is not an essential attribute of "greatest possible being," then I am not thinking of "greatest possible being."

Fifth: explain why, for Anselm, if someone says "There is no God" then they are a "fool."

Because in order to say "There is no God" one must have a concept or idea of "God." Thus, that being the case, even the fool must acknowledge that God exists.

Finally: explain how, then, the argument works.

Anselm thinks his argument works because one cannot conceive or think of God as not existing, any more than one can think of a triangle that does not have three sides.

For an excellent article on the Ontological Argument see Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The Real Church Eliminates "Governing Church Boards"

Leaf, on our car mirror

At Redeemer, leadership happens when God speaks to people in our community (our "church"). This can include me, the pastor. But much of what is happening is due to myself and my fellow elders and others listening to God speaking, often through our community, then discerning, and empowering. (Our elders are a team of discerners, and non-task-oriented. See HERE.)

When Linda and I came to Redeemer twenty-six years ago (!!!), we saw a church being led by God, including a team of elders. Not a "governing church board." Thank God we did not have to battle this! (This is where the pastor becomes a hireling.)

Michael Brown, in Revolution in the Church, writes:

"Do away with the notion of Christian leaders-for-hire (or of ministers seeking jobs or positions), also discarding the concept of a non-elder governing board...

The church is not a business (or company or franchise) and, ideally speaking, leaders should not be “hired” and “fired” as much as “called in” and “sent out,” unless some kind of moral failure or doctrinal error leads to their removal...

The notion of a board running the church is also unbiblical, unless the word board refers to the governing elders. Otherwise we must reject this binding, archaic worldly system of a church board comprised of influential or long-standing (but not necessarily spiritual) members who can constrain or even cripple the leader(s). Where is there an ounce of support for this in the Word? What New Testament model does it follow? And how does it enhance the work of the ministry or advance the Kingdom?" (Brown, Kindle Locations 2087-2099)


Image result for john piippo books

My two books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God (May 2016)

Leading the Presence-Driven Church (January 2018)

I am now writing:

How God Changes the Human Heart

Technology and Spiritual Formation

Linda and I plan to co-write our book on Relationships

Image result for john piippo books

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A Call for Revival in the American Church - 4 Sermons

(Photo by David Ferrell)
My July 8 sermon at Redeemer, "A Call for Revival in the American Church," can be heard HERE.

My second Revival sermon - "If My People" - can be heard HERE

Revival sermon #3 - "Seek My Face" - is HERE.

#4 - "Real Church and the Gates of Hades" will be given this coming Sunday, August 26, the day after our son Josh marries Nicole.

Wanted: The Perfect Pastor

Me and Linda, enjoying life more than we should

Many years ago, on a Wednesday afternoon, I was food shopping in the local Meijer store. Someone from our church family saw me. When I got home I found they had called one of our church leaders and "reported" me. "I saw John shopping today, on a Wednesday afternoon. He should have been in his office working!"

Sadly, this is not atypical.

I thought of this sad story today while reading some Michael Brown (devotionally - so please don't report me!). 

After three inspiring days with Michael this summer, I am now feasting on revivalist literature, some of which is written by Brown.

Here's a Brown quote, from Revolution in the Church: Challenging the Religious System with a Call for radical Change. (This is not my situation. I thank God all the time for my church family! But I talk with a lot of pastors who, sadly, can relate to this.)

"Most pastors are grossly underpaid for the hours they put in, often facing retirement, weary and worn out, with very little in the way of benefits, housing or pension. This satirical want ad by one church says it all: 

Wanted: the perfect pastor. 
Approximately 28 years old, 
with 30 years’ preaching experience. 
Must have a heart for the youth, 
work well with the elderly, 
participate in church sports, 
visit every hospitalized member. 
Need top-flight negotiating skills, 
good singing voice, 
and expertise in repair of office equipment, 
church van, 
and fellowship hall plumbing. 
Office hours 7 a.m. till 10 p.m. 
Salary $100 per week. 
Will preferably tithe $50 per week, 
wear fashionable suits, 
have a large library. 
Must participate in evangelism outreaches, 
make 30 calls per day on church members, 
always be in the office when parishioners phone. 
Walking on water a plus.

(Brown, Kindle Locations 1894-1897) 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Preachers - Preach the Text

Law library, University of Michigan

At Redeemer we preach the biblical texts. Why not, right? Our Christian theistic Grand Narrative is found in the Bible. The Book. This is our book. This is our distinctive. It is inexhaustible in its wisdom. Times and seasons pass, yet The Book remains. Why preach anything else? 

I've spent a lifetime studying and teaching alternative wisdom literature, as found in the other religions and in philosophy. "Philosophy," etymologically, means "the love of wisdom" (philo + sophia). As interesting as these sources are, Christianity's Grand Narrative has captured my heart and mind. Why substitute the wisdom of God for human wisdom? Why preach human wisdom with a few biblical footnotes tagged on? Why view preaching from the fear of not keeping the people entertained?

Pastors must familiarize themselves and their people with the God-inspired Text. 
Increasing biblical literacy in a church is a simmering slow cooker. Put away the microwave, and use a kettle.  Al Mohler writes:

"If you want to see quick results, the preaching of the Word just might not be the way to go. If you are going to find results in terms of statistics, numbers, and visible response, it just might be that there are other mechanisms, other programs, and other means that will produce that faster. The question is whether it produces Christians." ("Mohler Cites Preaching's Centrality")

Mohler's question is rhetorical. The answer is, "No." 'Where such preaching is not found, there is no church, no matter what it calls itself or poses to be.'" (Ib.)

Alistair Begg has said, "The reason most preaching is ignored today is that it deserves to be." Therefore, in these times, the irreducible good news of Jesus must be preached at all costs, in all its beauty and fullness. 

Mohler concludes:

"The gospel is simply the most transformative, the most powerful, the most explosive message there is. If you have trouble finding something to preach, I guarantee you that you are not preaching the gospel. This is explosive, it's controversial, it's transforming. The gospel according to the apostle Paul is not simply offered to us on a platter for our convenience or our investigation or our tasting.
It is thrown at us like hot blazing rock, spewing from the crater of a volcano. It is dangerous stuff. Our task is to preach the Word and make known the mystery. But making known that mystery requires diligent, painstaking, systematic, rigorous, expository preaching because we have to paint the entire canvas." (Ib.)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Judgmentalism Is a Form of Violence

(Pair of Old Testament Prophets, Gabriel Joly, 1530
Detroit Institute of Arts)

"I vividly remember encountering a man who never judged anyone," writes Henri Nouwen in The Road to Peace. (p. 35) 

Are you kidding me? Nouwen met a person who never judged anyone? Amazing!

Then I remembered a man who never judged anyone. We're friends. As soon as I read Nouwen's amazing claim I thought of this friend. I never, in countless hours of dialogue, over many years, remember him bad-mouthing anyone. Amazing! Super-natural ("beyond nature").

When Nouwen met the nonjudgmental man he was stunned, and didn't know how to act. He was so used to being around people who are full of opinions of others that he felt lost. "What do you talk about," asked Nouwen, "when you have nobody to discuss or judge?" (Ib.) 

Ask yourself that question. If you have nothing left to talk about, then you are in spiritual trouble.

Slowly, Nouwen discovered that this man did not judge him. Nouwen experienced a freedom in this friendship. He writes: "I realized that I had nothing to defend, nothing to hide, and could be myself in his presence without fear." (Ib.) A new kind of conversation opened up that wasn't based on competing or comparing, but on celebrating what any two Jesus-followers have in common; viz., Christ is us, the hope of glory.

Judgmentalism is a form of violence. It causes damage, and destroys the unity Christ achieved on the cross when he brought down the dividing walls of hostility. (Ephesians 3) Nouwen writes: 

"Judging others implies that somehow we stand outside of the place where weak, broken, sinful human beings dwell. It is an arrogant and pretentious act that shows blindness not only toward others but also toward ourselves." (Ib., 34)  As Paul writes in Romans 2:1-4:

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someon e else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

As Christ is formed in us (Galatians 4:19) we are freed from the heavy burden of judging other people. 

Pray to be free of all violence within.


Image result for john piippo books

My two books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God (May 2016)

Leading the Presence-Driven Church (January 2018)

I am now writing:

How God Changes the Human Heart

Technology and Spiritual Formation

Linda and I plan to co-write our book on Relationships

Image result for john piippo books