Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Pray the Lord's Prayer This Way

(Linda, with one of our great-nephews, Josiah.
Note: my father made the music stand as a gift to Linda's sister Lora  and her husband Grady,
on their wedding day.)

When I understood more about the kingdom of God I began to pray The Lord's 
Prayer in a different way. Now I pray like this, because I believe this is how the early Jesus-followers understood it.

God, let your kingdom come,

not only in the future,
but here,
in our experience.

God, reign over our hearts and minds,

As we are conscious of our surroundings,
As we take our next breath,
As we walk into whatever this day has for us.
Let things be here,
in our homes,
in our church families,
in our community,
in our hearts and minds,  
on this earth,
as things are in heaven.

Let us see earth, through heaven,
and respond accordingly.


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

My Book of the Year Is....



The most important, most helpful book I read this year is The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution.

Wow! I just finished it. I took copious notes, and am going to slowly re-read it.

This book traces the transformation of human identity into a primarily psychological understanding of personal identity as a state of mind or a state of feelings. 

three of the RUNNERS-UP...

Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made everything About Race, Gender, and Identity - and Why This Harms Everybody. By Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsey.

This is a savaging, intelligent assault on Critical Theory. It's written by two atheist scholars. What initially caught my attention were these two atheist reviews.

"Many people are nonplussed by the surge of wokery, social justice warfare, intersectionality, and identity politics that has spilled out of academia and inundated other spheres of life. Where did it come from? What ideas are behind it? This book exposes the surprisingly shallow intellectual roots of the movements that appear to be engulfing our culture."

—Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of Enlightenment Now

"Is there a school of thought so empty, so vacuous, so pretentious, so wantonly obscurantist, so stupefyingly boring that even a full-frontal attack on it cannot be read without an exasperated yawn? Yes. It is called postmodernism. If you sincerely want to understand what postmodernism is, read this exceptionally well-informed book by two noble heroes of the enlightenment project. If you have better uses for your neurons and your time, stick to science. It’s the real deal."

Richard Dawkins, emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford

The Decadent Society: How We Became Victims of Our Own Success. By Ross Douthat. 

This book... explains what happens when a rich and powerful society ceases advancing—how the combination of wealth and technological proficiency with economic stagnation, political stalemates, cultural exhaustion, and demographic decline creates a strange kind of “sustainable decadence,” a civilizational languor that could endure for longer than we think.

So much for "progessivism," right?

When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community from Emotional and Spiritual Abuse. By Chuck DeGroat.

The evangelical church in America has, for too long, nurtured and supported narcissism in our leaders.


For Christmas I received Charles Taylor's Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity. I'm thirty pages into this book that is big, not just in terms of page length, but in wisdom, analysis, and understanding.

Blessed Are the Mono-Taskers, for They Shall See God

                                                                         (Redeemer sanctuary)

My Payne Theological Seminary class is called Spiritual Formation. My main assignment is: set apart one hour a day, five days a week, for seven weeks. Use this time to pray and listen to God. Keep a record of the voice and activity of God in a spiritual journal. 

Needed: listening skills, ability to meditate, and focus, to allow God to dive deep in your heart. 

I also teach three philosophy courses at Monroe County Community College: Introduction to Logic, Introduction to Western Philosophy, and Philosophy of Religion. The ability to stay on task is needed to learn philosophy, and to think philosophically. A philosopher must have a great capacity to go inward, to ponder, and ruminate. 

Spiritual formation and philosophy are slow cookers, not microwaves. Both, if attended to, produce lasting fruit in a person’s life. Oak trees grow from the soil of slow thinking about life’s big ideas. 

Deep, lasting, relationships are slow-cookers, too. This includes the God-relationship. Knowing God involves more than theoretical knowledge, just as one learns to ride a bike by actually riding it, not by reading books about bike riding. 

Kierkegaard told us that a pure heart, untainted by distractions, wills one thing. To “will one thing” is to focus on, attend to, be captivated by, be still before, one thing. What is the benefit of that? Nothing less, said Jesus, than the visio dei

Blessed are the mono-taskers, for they shall see God.

(From my book Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.)

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Prayer as Re-membering

Image result for john piippo prayer
(I took this photo of a woman praying in Jerusalem)

Remembering is a spiritual discipline. When we give thanks, it's an act of prayer often associated with something God has done for us. 

Prayer-remembering is about the past. When that past is positive, it is accompanied with thanksgiving. We remember how God re-membered us, how God put us back together when we were falling apart.

To re-member something, literally, would be to "member again" that which has become dismembered. Parts that were once together because they were meant to be together, got separated, but now are rejoined.

When I pray I am often re-minded (I am mindful again) of something that has "left my mind." God brings something to mind, and I am re-membered. 

This is good. It is clarifying and focusing when this happens. In prayer, in the God-appointment, God puts pieces of life back together again. God's Spirit achieves, in the act of praying, a great unifying.

I don't think you have to try or strive to re-member. Rather, as you consistently meet with God, conversing together in the slow-cooked prayer exchange, a re-membering will take place, by the Spirit. This has been, and remains, my ongoing experience.

This is good news, and provides an incentive to pray. All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put you back together again, but God can. As you pray God will put the pieces of your life and life in the kingdom back together again. (As some have said, to pray is to change.)


My Two Books 

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 (summer 2021)

Image result for john piippo books

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Shamed People Shame People

(Monroe County)

The best book I have ever read on combating shame is Shame and Grace: Healing the Shame We Don't Deserve, by Lewis Smedes.

Another good resource is The Soul of Shame, by psychiatrist Curt Thompson.

I read books like these for two reasons: 1) my own growth and healing; and 2) to help others.

Shame is universal. It was in my family of upbringing. My grandmother lived with us six months out of the year when I was a boy. I can hear her voice now, when she was displeased with me, saying "Shame on you, Johnny." (I also remember looking forward to her being with us!)

Shame... on... you. Let's pile shame on you, by the bucket load! I doubt my grandmother knew what she was doing. I'm certain my father lived with it being heaped on him.

Shame is an emotion. Shame expresses itself in thoughts,  like I am not enough; There is something uniquely wrong with me. Or, I don't matter.

Shame "is born out of a sense of “there being something wrong” with me or of “not being enough,” and therefore exudes the aroma of being unable or powerless to change one’s condition or circumstances." (Thompson, Kindle Locations 277-279)

Shame has to do with a "lessening" of our worth and capacity. This lessening is deeper than a conclusion one logically arrives at. It is an emotion, a feeling, that one cannot be reasoned out of. Shame's essence precedes language; it seems to be woven into a person's DNA.

"One of the hallmarks of shame is judgment." (Kindle Location 331) Judgment refers to "the spirit of condemnation or condescension with which we analyze or critique something, whether ourselves or someone or something else. I may say to myself, I should have done better at that assignment. What is crucial is the emotional tone that undergirds those words." (Kindle Locations 335-337)

The act of being judgmental towards other people is rooted in self-judgment. Chapman writes:

"As I often tell patients, “Shamed people shame people.” Long before we are criticizing others, the source of that criticism has been planted, fertilized and grown in our own lives, directed at ourselves, and often in ways we are mostly unaware of. Suffice to say that our self-judgment, that tendency to tell ourselves that we are not enough—not thin enough, not smart enough, not funny enough, not . . . enough—is the nidus out of which grows our judgment of others, not least being our judgment of God. The problem is that we have constructed a sophisticated lattice of blindness around this behavior, which disallows our awareness of it." (Kindle Locations 348-352)

For resources on overcoming shame, go HERE

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Reason You Are Wounded by Rejection

(Detroit skyline)

(I write this as much for myself as for anyone else.)

We all need affirmation, as well as realistic evaluation. But there is a disease called affirmation addiction, and it is punishing to the soul. The affirmation addict goes up and down with the approval and disapproval of people.

Are you disturbed when someone dismisses you, or assaults you, on social media? When you get a "thumbs down?" 

I've been upset when someone attacks me. If I did not live for the approval of other people, I would not die by their disapproval of me. I have to choose whose acceptance I will live and die for. (I am writing this as much for myself as for anyone else.)

Bob Sorge says, "Jesus was not touched by the praise of man, so he was not wounded by the rejection of man." (See here.) Sorge is commenting on John 5:44, where Jesus faces his followers and says,  How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

Thomas Merton once wrote that, when people praised him, he tried to receive this as a clean window receives the light of the sun. The more intense the light is, the less you see of the glass. However, some people receive praise the way a dog gobbles a chunk of food. I feel good when someone affirms me. But I am not to exist for the approval of others. 

Jesus refused to receive the approval of humanity. He didn't rise and fall by what other people thought of him. Instead, he lived and died by the Father's approval, and thus was free to live and die for you and me.

The less you care about what others think of you, the more you are free to care for others.

My two books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

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

I'm now working on...

Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart (Goal - summer 2021)

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

Sunday, December 20, 2020



My friend Leo Kay is a professional woodworker. He and his wife Maria are Elders in our church.

Leo does beautiful work, and is a joy to work with.

Here is Leo's information.

John Maxwell - 10 Guidelines for Dealing with Sexual Temptation

(Weaverville, California)

One of the most impactful sermons I have ever experienced was at the first PromiseKeepers event I went to, in Indianapolis. The speaker was John Maxwell. He preached on "10 Guidelines for Dealing with Sexual Temptation." After Maxwell gave Guideline #1 the place was electric. I felt, at that moment, that 20,000 men were ready to walk in total sexual purity.

John Maxwell’s 10 Guidelines (For Men) For Dealing With Sexual Temptation

1. RUN!

“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)

"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body." (1 Corinthians 6:18)


"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Every time we choose righteousness, we not only become closer to God, but stronger in our ability to resist temptation.

3. BE ACCOUNTABLE - John Maxwell's list of accountability questions:

Are you spending time alone with God?

Are you in studying the Bible?

Are you praying?

Is your thought life pure?

Have you seen something you shouldn't see (movies, magazines, Internet)?

Are you misusing your power on the job? At home?

Are you walking in total obedience to God? (Remember, partial obedience is disobedience.)

Have you lied about any of the previous questions?



Seldom travel alone.

When you have to travel, call your wife every night.

Talk positively about your wife to others.

Choose friends wisely. "Bad company corrupts good character." ( Corinthians 15:33)


"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)

"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7)


"Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!" (1 Corinthians 6:15)


"But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself." (Proverbs 6:32)

"For the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life." (Proverbs 6:26)



Maxwell's definition is: Success is having those who are the closest to me love and respect me the most.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

An Appeal for Purity

Image result for john piippo purity
(From Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry)

(I am re-posting this for someone who asked. Someone told them that God affirms premarital sex. I think not.)

Before I was a follower of Jesus one of the things I wanted to do was have sex with girls. The truth is, I didn't have as much sex as some of my fraternity brothers did. Some of them were doing it left and right, and I only could look on with envy. My understanding was that this was normal. In a Godless universe as I understood it, who really cares?

When I entered the Kingdom of God things were different. In my new life I was told that genital intercourse was reserved for marriage. This radically different viewpoint made sense to me, and still does. 

I do not expect this to make sense to someone who is not a God-believer, or not a Jesus-follower. If that's you, I think I understand. You are as I once was. Like, what's the big deal about premarital and extramarital intercourse? Of course it's no big deal, if there is no God.

In my fraternity one of the brothers had a little black book. The black book contained the names of girls on campus. It had numerical ratings from '1' to '10' next to their names. A '1' meant there is no way she would have sex with you on the first date. A '10' meant she would definitely have sex with you on the first date. My fraternity brother charged ten dollars to look at the black book, which was constantly being updated. Many of us, including me, thought this was so cool, because we wanted to have sex, almost more than anything. Girls were for our pleasure. If there is no Divine Moral Command-Giver, there's nothing wrong with that.

The Kingdom of God is different from this. God's Kingdom is upside-down compared to this. Kingdom thinking operates in the light, not the twilight.

I'm writing to any of you who say you love and worship God and Jesus and The Kingdom. If you are screwing around, why? In God's Kingdom this is unloving and unrighteousness. In their book Real Relationships Les and Leslie Parrott write:

"Having genital sex before marriage is clearly not in line with God’s principles. Sexual intercourse is a “life-uniting act,” as our friend Lewis Smedes calls it. That’s why sex outside of marriage is “sex-to-soon.” It violates the intended purpose of sex. “It is wrong,” according to Smedes, “because unmarried people thereby engage in a life-uniting act without a life-uniting intent…. Intercourse signs and seals—and maybe even delivers—a life-union; and life union means marriage."
Parrott, Les. Real Relationships: From Bad to Better and Good to Great (Kindle Locations 1966-1969). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. 

In God's Kingdom, do not mess with this. It is the road to relational failure (see Parrott's book for the supportive scholarship). 

I know others are doing it, but why care about what others think and do? Why are you using "what others think" as a premise to support an immoral conclusion? That kind of thinking is what created the mess you and I were once in. Choose your kingdom and embrace it.

Our sex-worshiping culture reveals that something has gone wrong. C. S. Lewis once wrote:

“You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act—that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food?”

Look - sex was God's idea, not the enemy's. The destroyer of our soul works by taking things God made and then OCD-perverting them so that our love for the distortion destroys us from the inside. Surely the One who invented sexuality knows best how it is to be enjoyed, right? 

If you are a Jesus-lover but have blown it in this area, come back. You know about the cross. You know about forgiveness.  You know that repentance means doing a '180' and changing directions. Step up and be the prodigal son. Do it now.

Stop rationalizing your failure. Rationalization belongs to the kingdom of darkness. Rationalization muddies things. What once was clear to you has become cloudy. Just how many translations of 1 Corinthians 6:18 do you need? Our loving God, thankfully, pursues after us and then, counter-culturally, throws a party in heaven when we come home.

Flee from sexual immorality. (NIV)

There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body. (The Message)

Run from immoral behavior(The Voice)

Purity Is the Result of a Great Longing

                                                                       (Our back yard)

(I'm re-posting this for someone who asked. Someone told them that God affirms premarital sex. I think not.)

1 John 3:2-3 say:

We know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, 
for we shall see him as he is. 
All who have this hope in him purify themselves, 
just as he is pure.

This is not a religious thing, not some legalistic command accompanied by an angry face telling us to "Be pure!" It is a RESULT. 

It is the RESULT of an GREAT DESIRE. Purity is a fruit of desire-attachment.


This GREAT DESIRE to BE LIKE HIM is fueled by a HOPE. 

This HOPE is the expectation that one day WE SHALL SEE HIM as he is.

All who share this hope desire and admire Him and long to not only be with Him but to be like Him. We want to be like Jesus, not to impress anyone, but because we are His children and children want to be like their parents. Like Father, like daughters and sons.

I become what I long to behold. One day I shall behold Christ face to face. N.T. Wright writes:

"What an amazing moment! To come face to face, eye to eye, with the people he had loved but never seen. There is something transformative about eye contact. People who spend a lot of time looking at one another sometimes come to resemble each other. Perhaps this is because they are instinctively copying one another’s facial expressions until their muscles and tissue begin to be reshaped in that way. Imagine beginning that process at last after years of love which had been expressed through words and touch but never before through sight." (N.T. Wright, The Early Christian Letters for Everyone, p. 149)

Our deepest longing is to come face to face with Him. "To see his smile, to catch his facial expression, to begin to know him in a whole new way." (Ib.)

All who have this GREAT DESIRE purify themselves now as the RESULT of wanting to be like Him.

Purity is the result of a great longing.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Study THE PRESENCE-DRIVEN CHURCH with Me this Winter!




Instructor – John Piippo, PhD (Northwestern University)

Purpose: The purpose of this class is to introduce students to Presence-Driven Church Leadership.

Method: I will teach out of my book Leading the Presence-DrivenChurch. Please purchase this book and read it prior to the class. (Or, begin reading it.)

The class will include individual times of praying. I have written about prayer in my book Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

The class will be interactive lecture, using powerpoint slides, to include discussion and questions. I will email students my presentations.

My home church is a Presence-Driven Church. I will share examples of leadership from my church context.


            Attend the class.

            Read the book as supplemental to the class.

Throughout the class – memorize Ps. 23, and meditate on it in your praying times.

Write a one-page paper describing your experience of God’s presence in our class, and in your times of praying. Type the paper and send to me in a Word file. Due date – .Monday, Feb. 22.

Send to:

Evaluation (pass/fail) based on class attendance, participation, taking the times of prayer, and the one-page paper.

John Piippo (my blog)

734-731-1709 (cell)


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Overcoming Worry: A Few Thoughts

(Monroe county)

“Don’t worry about anything; 
instead, pray about everything. 
Tell God what you need, 
and thank him for all he has done.”

Philippians 4:6

Here are a few thoughts about worrying, and how to overcome worry.

Much of what we worry about in life does not come to pass. Of all the things I have worried about in my life, I estimate that less than 5% of them have happened. I have spent a lot of time worrying about things that came to nothing. Surely, this is not helpful.

Worry, anxiety, fear… I’ve experienced them all, as you have too. What sort of person would not worry? One answer is: someone who’s had their brain removed. But then, of course, they wouldn’t be able to enjoy their worry-free life.

How is it possible to have the brains we have and move into greater freedom from worry? The answer Jesus gives is this: a person who trusts in God would not worry.

“Trust” and “worry” do not go together. That is, where there is trust, worry cannot survive. Jesus speaks about this in Matthew 6:25-34. Slow down and re-listen to these words.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


We don't need to worry about life’s basic needs. Why not? Because if we live our lives trusting in God, God considers us more important than the birds of the air, who are provided for.
Distinguish between basic needs, and personal wants and desires. I have found myself, at times, worrying about something that I don’t even really need. This is a waste of emotional time and energy. (But what about some who trust in God but are not provided for? Concern for those Jesus calls "the least of these" should lead to action. See here, here, here, and here.)

Worrying about something adds nothing to our lives. I’ve read studies that claim worrying subtracts from the days of one’s life. Worrying is non-productive. Worry, anxiety, and fear immobilize and lead to non-action. Worrying makes worrisome situations worse. 

Material things are not a cure for worry. Acquisition can promote worry.  Richard Foster, in A Celebration of Discipline, argues that the more material things a person has, the more things they have to worry about. Dr. David Augsburger wrote a brilliant study showing how some cultures who have little materially do not have a lexical entry for “anxiety,” because the condition seems nonexistent. I have found that when I am thankful for what I have, rather than needing to have more things to be thankful for, I am more at peace in myself.

“Worry” is the tip of an iceberg. Melt off the tip, and more surfaces. To get rid of the tip, get rid of the entire iceberg. Spiritually, this is about our heart. Ask God to heal your heart. It may be too consumed with the cares of this world. Then God can He use you to help others with their cares and concerns. 

Worry is self-obsessive. The more self-obsessive we are, the less good we are to others.

Here are some things to get help and healing from worry.

- Keep a spiritual journal. Write down your fears and worries, and give them to God. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him for he cares for you.”

- Re-read your journal periodically. Remembering how God has been there with you in the past gives real hope for the present.

- Saturate your heart, soul, and mind with God-things. Do not let the media’s disasters fill your heart. A fair portion of media fears never materialize. Remember, e.g., Y2K. I have found that when I make it my first priority to fill heart and mind with God-things I gain an eternal perspective on world-things.

- Separate your real needs from your mere wants. Observe how our American materialistic culture works to create false needs within us that lead to false anxiety over: a) either not having such things, or b) over having them and needing to care for them, protect them, store them, worship them, etc.

- Follow Jesus more intently and more intensely. Read Matthew 25 about what Jesus says in regard to helping the poor and needy. Take His words seriously, and move towards others. As you begin doing this, you will find that your own cares and worries dissipate.

These are some ways we can exhibit trust in God. Trust may be accompanied by certain feelings, but is, at its core, a mindset, an attitude, that leads to action.

Trusting God, and worrying about the future, cannot coexist in the same heart. I have found that, as I grow into a trusting person, worrisome activity diminishes. Care and concern, and empathy, are then allowed to flourish.