Monday, May 20, 2019


(I wrote these reminders to myself many years ago. I put them on an email, and sent the email to myself, periodically. I called it "REMEMBER." Because I can forget. I'm posting this, mostly for myself.)

Be myself. Be who God made me to be, with all my strengths and infirmities.    
Overcome denial.
Overcome fear & intimidation.
Overcome addiction
Do not compare...
Stimulate the mind with intellectually challenging reading. 
Physically exercise
Get outside and ponder God's creation
Listen to excellent music
Write beautiful worship songs
Remember blessings
Enjoy Linda, Dan, Josh 
God works all things together for good!
Live in gratitude
Remember - you're not alone
Eat well
Pray about struggles
Enter deeply into God's presence
Know the Father's love
Play the guitar
Lead worship with passion
Preach with passion and excellence
Teach brilliantly
Don't lose your joy
Lead with confidence
Mentor with great discernment...
Counsel others

Write the books

Take beautiful photographs
Love others deeply

Our Thought-Life Determines Our Emotional Well-Being

Image may contain: ocean, sky, twilight, cloud, outdoor, water and nature
Image may contain: ocean, sky, twilight, cloud, outdoor, water and nature
(South Haven, Michigan)
What we ruminate on colors how we feel, how we see, how we experience. Our thought-life affects our emotional well-being.

This is a biblical idea, seen in verses like the following.

For as he thinks within himself, so he is. 
Proverbs 23:7

 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, 
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 
Romans 12:2 

 We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 

 Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. 
Philippians 4:8 

 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2

We can turn these verses into declarations, carry them with us, repeat them often.

What I think about myself is important.

I am not conforming to this world's values.

My mind is being renewed and transformed. 

I capture my thoughts and screen them 
before they capture me.

I think about myself as Christ thinks about me.

I meditate on true things.

I meditate on noble things.

I think about morally right things.

I ponder purity.

I am captivated by what is lovely.

I focus on admirable actions.

I desire excellence.

I praise God for what he is doing in me and others.

I set my mind on the things of God that 
transcend mere earthly existence.

J. P. Moreland writes:

"Without question, these and many other texts establish the importance to our overall well-being of how we train our minds and of what our minds habitually dwell on. As psychologists Edmund Bourne and Lorna Garano remind us: “The truth is that it’s what we say to ourselves [the self-talk of our thought life] in response to any particular situation that mainly determines our mood and feelings.”" 
Moreland, Finding Quiet, pp. 68-69

My two books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

I'm now working on...

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (I am co-editing this with Janice Trigg.)

Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart 

Technology and Spiritual Formation

And, when all this settles, Linda and I intend on writing our book on Relationships.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Abide, Saturate, Listen, Obey

My role as a pastor is this:

1. I am to abide in Christ.
2. I am to saturate myself in Scripture.
3. I am to listen for the voice of God.
4. When God directs, I am to obey.

As I live these things my life will be fruit-bearing. This is a conditional statement. If I abide in Christ, then I will bear much lasting fruit. On the condition of my Christ-abiding, fruit-bearing shall result.

This is the strategy of Jesus. I am to pass this on to my people, who will be edified. Their lives will bear much fruit for God and his Kingdom.

Pastors: teach your people to:
  • OBEY


Here are some of the implications. 
  • Personal "striving" will be gone. This is not about "working harder" for God. It is about the Spirit of God working in you, and in us.
  • Programmatic activity gets replaced by Presence-of-God reality. Here is where "church" starts to get exciting!
  • Personal transformation into Christikeness (Gal. 4:19) becomes ongoing. We grow into Christ, like a little boy or little girl grows into their parents' clothing.  
  • Live connected to God; show your people how to connect with God. This is the best you can give them. What you and your people need is God. You are dispensable. As you abide in Christ you will be broken of the illusion of your indispensability. This is a necessary prerequisite for God to be the Builder. God will not only help you get out of the way, you will end up thanking him for it.
  • Become the abiding pastor, the "unbusy" and "unnecessary pastor" (as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Pastor: A Memoir, and The Unnecessary Pastor).
  • When your church (= people who love and follow Jesus) deeply abides in Christ, they will be spoken to by Christ. This will be the end of all those meetings and committees and "brainstorming" get-togethers and the beginning of the days of fruit-bearing and redemptively storming the gates of hell.
  • This is "Church" as a Revolutionary Movement. Abide, Saturate, Listen (Discern), Follow. 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Letter to My Redeemer Family - May 18, 2019

Image result for john piippo redeemer

Hello Redeemer Family!

Here are some things I want to share with you.

ANNUAL CONFERENCE IN GREEN LAKE, WISCONSIN, JUNE 23-27: Join Linda and me, our worship team, and others for six days together at the beautiful Green Lake Conference Center. Our speakers include Mike Hutchings of Global Awakening, and Larry Sparks who is editor of Destiny Image Publishing and was our main speaker at our Women's Conference. Mike is especially called to healing of PTSD. Plus, I will be one of the speakers (Thursday evening), and Tim Curry and I will present workshops as well. For more information and conference registration go HERE.

KELLIE ROBINSON TEACHES ON "THE HEART AND PRACTICE OF PROPHECY": Thursday, June 6th + Thursday, June 13th, 6:30 PM. “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” -1 Cor. 14:1 ESV.  What is prophecy? Why do we desire it? And how do we do it? We’ll cover these questions, expose the needless fear surrounding prophecy and explore some easy ways to practice. Bring your questions and a notebook and a pen for exercises.

SPAGHETTI DINNER FUNDRAISER at REDEEMER, SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 1 PM: Francesca Ansel writes: "Hi Everybody! I am doing a spaghetti dinner fundraiser to raise money for my year at Bethel! I am asking for a donation of $5 or higher in exchange for a dinner ticket. During the dinner I will be selling my art and sharing more information about my trip. I can’t wait to hangout with everyone and share what God has been doing in my life. So come enjoy some food and bring a friend!! 

INVEST IN YOUR MARRIAGE! Linda and I invite Redeemer marital couples to invest in their marriages this spring and summer. Read the book Vertical Marriage: The One Secret That Will Change Your Marriage together. Discuss it. Then, in mid-summer, Linda and I invite our marital couples to a picnic at our home (date TBA), followed by book discussion and praying together. We'd love to have you join us!

SUMMER READING RECOMMENDATIONS: Linda and I offer a list of books we like - go HERE

DO YOU HAVE A PRIVATE PRAYER REQUEST YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH LINDA AND ME? Please send us any private prayer requests - we will carry them with us and pray. On Tuesday I'll be taking the afternoon to pray, and bring your requests with me. You can send requests to 

ONLINE GIVING TO REDEEMER can be accessed HERE - thank you!

STEVE AND WENDY BACKLUND come to Redeemer - Sept. 21-23.

Tim, Josh, and I continue to preach revival themes this summer. God has called us to prepare the hearts of our people for coming revival and awakening.



Against Abortion: A Logical Argument

Backgammon, in Jerusalem

(I am re-posting this because the heat is rising and I want to keep this in play.)

Here is Baylor University philosopher and jurisprudential scholar Francis Beckwith’s logical (not religious) argument against abortion. (See Beckwith, Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice.)

Beckwith’s argument does not depend on religious beliefs. I think it’s a good argument to use in my logic classes because logical arguments are to be non-emotive. The abortion argument can get very emotional! 

In logic, the idea is - attack the argument, not the argument-maker. To do the latter is to commit the informal logical fallacy called ad hominem abusive. Attacking a person rather than the argument is ineffective in getting at truth.


1. The unborn entity, from the moment of conception, is a full-fledged member of the human community.

2. It is prima facie[2] morally wrong to kill any member of that community.

3. Every successful abortion kills an unborn entity, a full-fledged member of the human community.

4. Therefore, every successful abortion is prima facie morally wrong.

By “full-fledged member of the human community” is meant that the conceptus[3] is as much a bearer of rights as any human being whose rights-bearing status is uncontroversial, like you or me. As Beckwith says, “the unborn entity is entitled to all the rights to which free and equal persons are entitled by virtue of being free and equal persons.” “Full-fledged member of the human community” cannot mean something like “viability,” since then we have two problems:

1) the arbitrariness of deciding who’s a full-fledged member and who’s not; and

2) the odd philosophical idea that there is suddenly a “moment” (call it time ‘t’) when the conceptus/fetus/inborn child becomes a person, which means at time ‘t-minus-1 second’ it was not. “Abortion advocates argue that the unborn entity is not a person and hence not a subject of moral rights until some decisive moment in fetal or postnatal development.” (Beckwith, 130) Such a position is incoherent and fraught with philosophical problems.

“Virtually no one disputes – including leading defenders of abortion-choice – that every mature human being was once an adolescent, a child, an infant, a baby, a newborn, a fetus, and an embryo.” (131) But the abortion advocate argues that it is morally permissible to end a human being’s life at the embryo stage of human life. How is this possible? Beckwith says they argue that not all human beings are equally intrinsically valuable because some do not have the present capacity to exhibit certain properties or functions that would make them intrinsically valuable. (130) The judgment is made that the fetal self is not “intrinsically valuable.”

Beckwith holds to a “substance view of persons.” This means that a human being “is intrinsically valuable because of the sort of thing it is and the human being remains that sort of thing as long as it exists”. That is, an individual “maintains absolute identity through time while it grows, develops, and undergoes numerous changes”. To use another example, the term “universe” refers to one entity that goes through various stages. The universe at t + 1 second, though much smaller and far more inchoate then the universe now, was still at that time as much “the universe” as it is now. So, the term “universe does not suffer from vagueness. It is in precisely that sense that “person” does not suffer from vagueness as well.

Various functions and capacities, whether fully realized or utilized do not constitute a person. Thus a human being is never a potential person, but is always a person at different stages of development, whether potential properties and capacities are actualized or not.

To explain: a human being may never realize the ability to reason logically. It would then lack this ability. In contrast, a frog is not said to lack something if it can’t study logic, because by nature it is not the sort of being that can have the ability to do logic. But a human being who lacks the ability to think logically is still a human being because of her nature. A human being’s “lack” makes sense if and only if she is an actual human person. (E.g., a rock does not “lack” the ability to see.) Most pro-abortionists argue that personhood is not inherent or intrinsic, but based on certain capacities and functions, be it consciousness, sentience, self-awareness, the ability to reason, and so on.

WHAT ABOUT THE FOLLOWING POPULAR ARGUMENTS FOR ABORTION CHOICE? Beckwith says many of them commit the informal logical fallacies of “appeal to pity” and “begging the question.”

An argument from pity is an attempt to show the plausibility of one’s point of view by trying to move others emotionally, although the reasonableness of the position stands or falls on the basis of other important factors. Here are some arguments from pity:

Argument from the dangers of illegal abortions

If abortion is made illegal then women will perform illegal abortions.If women perform illegal abortions then women will be harmed.Therefore if abortion is made illegal then women will be harmed.

This argument “begs the question.” Only by assuming that the unborn are not fully human does the argument work. “But if the unborn are fully human, this abortion-choice argument is tantamount to saying that because people die or are harmed while killing other people (i.e., unborn people), the state should make it safe for them to do so.” (94) Therefore, the argument begs the question.

Argument from financial burden

We can’t minimize the fact that there are tragic circumstances, like a poor woman with four small children who becomes pregnant by her alcoholic husband.“But once again we must ask whether the unborn entity is fully human, for hardship does not justify homicide.” (98)For example, if I knew that killing you would relieve me of future hardship, that’s not sufficient justification for me to kill you.

Argument from the unwanted child

This argument, again, begs the question.Because only if we assume that the unborn re not fully human does this argument work.It is extremely difficult to argue that the value of a human being depends on whether someone wants or cares for that human being.

Argument from the deformed and handicapped child

First, if this argument succeeds in showing that abortion is justified if a woman is pregnant with a deformed or handicapped fetus, it only establishes the right to abort in those kind of situations.But this argument again begs the question. “For if the unborn are fully human, then to promote the aborting of the handicapped unborn is tantamount to promoting the execution of handicapped people whoa re already born.”[4]Of course having a handicapped child can be a terrible burden. “But it is important to realize that if the unborn entity is fully human, homicide cannot be justified simply because it relieves one of a terrible burden.” (102)

Argument from interference in career

Again… this begs the question. “For what would we think of a parent who kills his two-year-old because the child interfered with the parent’s ability to advance in his occupation?” (104)

Argument from rape and incest

This is a horrible thing, of course.Note: this argument is not relevant to the case for abortion on demand.Note also this: “the unborn entity is not an aggressor when its presence does not endanger it’s mother’s life (as in the case of a tubal pregnancy). It is the rapist who is the aggressor. The unborn entity is just as much an innocent victim as its mother.” (105-106) Again… this argument begs the questions by assuming that the unborn is not fully human.

Another popular argument is the Argument from Imposing Morality.

This argument says: It’s wrong for anyone to “force” his view of morality on someone else. Pro-lifers, by attempting to stop women from having abortions, are trying to force their morality on others.
But this argument cannot be right. Because it’s not always wrong for the community to institute laws that require people to behave in certain moral ways. E.g., it’s not wrong to institute a law against child molestation. If the unborn entity is fully human, forbidding abortions would be perfectly just. Any law prohibiting abortion would unjustly impose one’s morality on others only if the act of abortion is good, morally benign, or does not unjustly limit the free agency of another. The real issue is: what counts as a “person,” a full-fledged member of the human community.

[1] All quotes from Francis Beckwith, Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice

[2] Prima facie is a Latin expression meaning “on its first appearance”, or “by first instance”. It is used in modern legal English to signify that on first examination, a matter appears to be self-evident from the facts. In common law jurisdictions, prima facie denotes evidence that (unless rebutted) would be sufficient to prove a particular proposition or fact.

[3] The fertilized egg

[4] See Peter Singer, who admits that “pro-life groups are right about one thing: the location of the baby inside or outside the womb cannot make such a crucial moral difference… The solution, however, is not to accept the pro-life view that the fetus is a human being with the same moral status as yours or mine. The solution is the very opposite: to abandon the idea that all human life is of equal worth.” (In Beckwith, 101)

My two books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

I'm now working on...

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (I am co-editing this with Janice Trigg.)

Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart 

Technology and Spiritual Formation

And, when all this settles, Linda and I intend on writing our book on Relationships.

The Crisis in American Christianity

(Stained glass in Redeemer sanctuary)

I have argued that the crisis in American Christianity is the loss of our distinctive, which is the experienced presence of God. Our distinctive is not theologizing or theorizing about God. It's not preaching or worship or coffee or stage lighting or friendliness or a building. It is...  God. With us. In encounter and experience. 

In this week's Christianity Today editor Mark Galli says something similar. He writes:

"Contemporary evangelicalism is in serious trouble. Actually, its crisis is the same one that afflicts all Christianity in America. At the risk of hubris, and the risk of merely adding one more item to the seemingly endless list of crises, I believe that the crisis lies at the heart of what ails large swaths of the American church. Alexander Solzhenitsyn named it in his speech upon receiving the Templeton Prize in Religion in 1968. He was talking about Western culture when he used it. I apply it to the American church, evangelical and not:
We have forgotten God."

Friday, May 17, 2019

Abortion and the "Whatever" In the Womb

Church, in Columbus, Ohio
(I'm re-posting this to keep this ball in play, as things are again intensifying.

It is important to understand why I, and others like me, are so against abortion.

For us, the conceptus/embryo/fetus is a "person." So, to abort is to kill a person.

I am against killing innocent persons. I think you would be, too, if you believed the inborn being was a person.

So, the person-killer [rightly named if the inborn being is a person] claims "women's rights over their bodies" include a woman's right to kill a person, which also happens to be their daughter or son.

If the inborn being is not a person, then there's no problem killing the life inside, since we kill non-persons all the time.)

This happened in 1984.

X was twenty-two years old when she asked to meet with us. She said, "I have something I need to share with you." We waited for X to call. She didn't.

X was in our church family. When we saw her again she said, "I am going to call you. I need to share something with you."

We waited. She didn't. And she said the same thing the next time Linda and I saw her.

We waited again. She called. Linda, X, and I met together.

"I have something I need to tell you," said X, with her head hanging down. We waited. For thirty minutes. Finally X said, through breathless tears, "Two years ago I had an abortion."

And X wept and wept.

Why did X weep? Why so sad, X? Because in X's mind, she killed her child.

At this point I am glad some of you were not there with X, because some of you believe X did not kill her child. Some of you believe that what X thought was her child was a non-person, a lump of fleshy matter, and nothing more. You would have told X that the "whatever" in her uterus was not really her child. You would have counseled X that she really didn't kill her child, and because it wasn't her baby, and yes it is wrong to kill babies and children and persons, it wasn't any of those things. I am thankful you were not there to comfort X with these philosophical (not scientific) ideas. They would not have helped her as she grieved at the thought of her child now being two years old.

X knew that killing her child was wrong. X was brought low over choosing herself over her baby. This is why X wanted to talk with Linda and I. X wanted to know how she could go on with her life. We talked with her about forgiveness, and the amazingness of God's mercy and grace. This is the only answer we know of that could help and heal X. And, BTW, we all need this. Understand this, and you will understand Christianity.

Abortion is not illegal in America. But, as X knew existentially, it ought to be. At least Donald Trump is right about this. And Mario Cuomo, who seems to celebrate a woman's right to kill her children, is wrong about this. 

Abortion, says Pope Francis, is "genocide." The Pope has compared abortion to "hiring a hit man to resolve a problem." 

The Pope has said: “How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?”

The core issue, which is lost in all the current political obscurity, is the nature of the "whatever" in the womb. Is it a person? X knew it was.

(See the argument here. And here.)

If you have had an abortion, 
or supported an abortion, 
and are suffering as a result, 
please contact us. 

How to Prepare for a Visitation from God

(Selfie of self looking at self looking at self)

(This is happening in some churches.)

Decades ago A. W. Tozer saw something happening in American churches, and it wasn't good. The presence of God was missing.

Tozer wrote:

"The world is evil, the times are waxing late, and the glory of God has departed from the church as the fiery cloud once lifted from the door of the temple in the sight of Ezekiel the prophet. 
The God of Abraham has withdrawn his conscious presence from us, and another god whom our fathers knew not is making himself at home among us. This god we have made and because we have made him we can understand him; because we have created him he can never surprise us, never overwhelm us, nor astonish us, nor transcend us." (In 

Buechner, Faith That Matters, p. 142)

Much of what is called "church" is underwhelming and immanent (hopefully, not yours), at least for those who want to encounter the Living God.  

What can we do about this? How much talent do we need? How much money will this cost? How should we advertise? Tozer writes:

"We have only to prepare him [God] a habitation in love and faith and humility. We have only to want him badly enough, and he will come and manifest himself to us." (Ib.) 

Really? Is that all we need to do to have God manifest his omni-presence in our gatherings? If more is needed, what could that be?

For my take on God's presence and the Church, see Leading the Presence-Driven Church.

Summer Reading Suggestions

(Selfie of self looking at self)

Here are some books Linda and I recommend if you are looking for summer reading.


Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental illness, by Matthew Stanford.

Broken into Beautiful: How God Restores the Wounded Heart, by Gwen Smith.

Arise: A Prophetic Call for Women to Receive Swords, Mantles, and Kingdom Assignments, by Patricia King, Larry Sparks, Beni Johnson, et. al.

The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children, by Stormie Omartian. 

Undaunted: Daring to Do What God Calls You to Do, by Christine Caine.

Fearless, by Max Lucado. Imagine your life without fear? Linda and I love this book!

Impossible Love: The True Story of an African Civil War, Miracles and Hope Against All Odds, by Craig Keener and Medine Moussounga Keener. 


Finding Quiet: My Story of Overcoming Anxiety and the Practices that Brought Peace, by J. P. Moreland. Linda and I both strongly recommend this. Linda finished the book this week. I'm halfway through. Excellent!

Faith that Matters: 365 Devotions from Classic Christian Leaders, by Frederick Buechner, N.T. Wright, Dallas Willard, Henri Nouwen, and others. Short, deep readings for every day of the year.

Letters to the Church, by Francis Chan. Linda and I just finished reading this together. Recommended by both of us.

Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations, by Amy Chua. For all who want a deeper understanding of the division and xenophobia in America.

The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb: Searching for Jesus' Path of Power in a Church that Has Abandoned it, by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel. 

Christians in the Age of Outrage: How to Bring Our Best When the World Is at Its Worst, by Ed Stetzer. Linda and I both strongly recommend this.

Atheist Overreach: What Atheism Can't Deliver, by Christian Smith. Well-written, by the great scholar who identified "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism."

The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, by Greg Lukionoff and Jonathan Haidt. The best book I've read so far in 2019.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel van der Kolk. Our son Dan recommended this - Linda and I find it excellent!

The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters, by Tom Nichols.

The Case for Miracles: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for the Supernatural, by Lee Strobel. Powerful, inspiring, deep.