Tuesday, October 31, 2023

A Disciple Worships the Lord


I want you to learn and grow in worship to our Lord.  

1984. In a forest preserve outside Lansing, Michigan. When I was assured that no one was looking, I raised both my hands high over my head. And I worshiped God.  

This was the beginning of something new. I was learning more about worship. I am an ever-growing student, and Jesus is my all-wise Teacher.  

I had already been a worshiper for fourteen years. I experienced joy as I sang new songs to the Lord. Often, especially when alone, my joy flowed in tears. I learned that, not only was it OK to cry before the Lord, but my joy was a vessel that contained worship.  

Worship is a lifelong learning experience.

Real worship springs from the spirit, and expresses truth. Disciples of Jesus learn to worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)   

Today is the day when authentic worshipers are being released, across the world. I am one of them.  

So are you.  

Remember - It’s all going to end in worship.   

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, 

like the roar of rushing waters 

and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: 


    ​For our Lord God Almighty reigns.  

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!  

Revelation 19:6-7


I am a true worshiper of Christ.

Sometimes I break out in spontaneous worship.  

My spirit overflows in worship.  

My worship today is preparing me for an eternity of worship.  

When I think of all Christ has done for me, worship expands my spirit.

(From my book 31 Letters to the Church on Discipleship

Monday, October 30, 2023

A Disciple Grows in Discernment


I began taking guitar lessons at age five. I have taught and played guitar for sixty-nine years. (How old am I?)

How familiar am I with guitars? Very! I am able to discern whether a guitar is in tune, or out of tune. I can hear chords played, and without looking at the guitar being played, tell you what chord it is. (Mostly, not entirely…) I can listen to a song for the first time, and (mostly) immediately play it. (Really accomplished guitarists do this better than I can.)  

I became a disciple of Jesus just before my twenty-first birthday. I have talked and walked and lived with Jesus for fifty-three years. (How old am I?) Jesus became to me, as one scholar calls him, a “familiar stranger.”

From the beginning, Jesus felt familiar to me. I felt safe, at home, with him. Coming to Jesus was a great homecoming!   

And, just as the first disciples found the ways and words of Jesus strange, like his use of parables, so did I. Yet I, like those disciples, was, and remain, attracted to him.  

I am familiar with Jesus, with more understanding coming daily. I am able to discern what is of Jesus, and what is not of Jesus. The discipleship principle I have learned is:  

Discernment is a function of familiarity.

Discernment is in direct proportion to intimacy.  

I want you to be familiar with our Lord Jesus. I want your spiritual discernment to increase.  

Apprentices become familiar with their teachers. My Teacher has taught me this: The more I know him, the more I see and understand him.  

This is what happens to disciples of Christ. May it be so, in you.


I am becoming more familiar with Jesus every day.  

I am able to discern spiritual realities.  

I can separate the good from the evil.  

Revelation from Jesus is increasing in me.  

It excites me to think there is so much more to Jesus waiting for me to comprehend.  

There is no greater privilege than knowing Jesus my Lord!

(From my book 31 Letters to the Church on Discipleship)

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Now Re-reading... Christianity with Power


I often re-read, or revisit, books that remain important to me.

I'm now re-reading Charles Kraft's book Christianity with Power: Your Worldview  and Your Experience of the Supernatural.

A Disciple of Jesus Grows to Be Like Jesus

I see you growing to be more and more like Christ.

I was a boy when Elvis Presley became famous. My parents bought me an Elvis album after I saw him on TV. I wanted to sing like him, and play the guitar like he did. I wanted to look like him.  

One day I took my Elvis album into the bathroom, and propped it up next to the mirror. There was Elvis’s picture, next to my face in the mirror. I found some hair gel, and a comb. I attempted to design my hair to look like Elvis’s hair.   

Afterwards, I remember walking to my friend John’s house, feeling a lot like you-know-who. John burst my bubble when he said, “So, are you trying to look like Elvis again?”  

Trying? We want to be like the people we worship.

1 John 3:2 tells me that one day, I shall be like Jesus. The apostle Paul writes, in Galatians 4:19, that I am now being formed into Christlikeness. This makes sense to me, since this is my glorious destiny.  

Every disciple begins to look like their teacher. Apprentices learn to do what their teacher does. Jesus says, "whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." (John 14:12) That makes sense, since a disciple is in training to do the stuff their teacher has been doing.  

I learned this a long time ago. I believe it more today than when I first heard it. As one of the Lord’s disciples, I get excited when I think of being like the One I have come to worship.  

As I apprentice myself to Jesus, he forms himself in me; his character, his abilities.  


One day I shall be like the Lord Jesus.  

Today, Christ is forming his character in me.  

I am learning to love people as Jesus loves people.  

Christ is training me to deliver people from darkness.

The compassion of Christ grows within me.  

I want nothing more than to be like Jesus!

(From my book 31 Letters to the Church on Discipleship)

Saturday, October 28, 2023

A Disciple of Jesus Makes Other Disciples


I want you to have at least one person whom you are training to be like Jesus.

As a new follower of Jesus, my mentors told me they were training me to train others in the Jesus Way. I was being discipled, so I could disciple others. To me, this sounded like we were a movement, forming an army!  

Immediately, I began to disciple others. I took the training I was receiving and transferred it to my church’s youth group. Some of them became disciples of Jesus, and have since discipled other new Jesus-followers.  

As Lord of my life, Jesus taught me this principle: disciples make disciples. He told his own apprentices this:  

Go and make apprentices of all nations.  

Baptize them in the name of the Father,

the Son,  

and the Holy Spirit.  

Teach them to follow everything I have taught you.

I have done this. 

I want you to do this, too.  

I am eternally grateful to those who mentored me. They met with me, taught me, prayed for and with me, taught me about serving, taught me about Sundays, involved me in small groups, introduced me to worship, and were powerful role models in loving as Jesus loves. They were disciplemakers, and I wanted to be like them!

I’m not through making disciples. I, and others in my church family, are developing our children into disciples. I still meet with people who want to follow Jesus. Nothing is more fulfilling to me than this. 

My dear sisters and brothers, let this be your life – teach others about Jesus. 


I am a disciple-maker.  

I teach people about Jesus.

I pass on to others what Jesus has taught me about himself. 

I am always looking for potential disciples. 

I love seeing Christ being formed in others.  

Making disciples is how I spend my life.  

I see the fruit of disciple-making, as my disciples are making disciples of others. 

 The call to teach others about Jesus is at the core of my being.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Disciples of Jesus Meet on Sunday Mornings


When I was a pastor in Joliet, Illinois, there was a man who was always with us on Sunday mornings. He was handicapped. He lived alone. He walked, so slowly, to the church building every Sunday morning. I mean every. No matter what the weather conditions. My thought was, “This man is committed!”  

Linda and I are committed. This is nothing to boast about. This is basic discipleship. When we were growing up, our families were there on every Sunday morning. We never missed. Sunday is the Christian disciple’s Sabbath.  

One of the Ten Commandments says,   Remember the Sabbath day, and be there.  

Keep it holy.  

My parents did. The DNA of Sabbath-keeping became my DNA.

Linda’s parents did the same with their children. Linda’s dad and mom were on fire for Jesus! Missing the weekly gathering of the people, the church, was unthinkable for them. It formed the center of their born-again life. As it says in Hebrews,  

Do not give up meeting together, 

as some are in the habit of doing,  

but encouraging one another

—  and all the more as you see the Day approaching. 

 Real disciples are in community. In “fellowship.” So much of what Jesus has taught me about being like Him has been learned in community.

The letters of Paul are not addressed to individual Christians. They are addressed to Jesus-Communities. Nearly every time the word “you” is used in Paul’s letters, it is plural.  

The precious manifestations of the Holy Spirit (the “gifts”) only make sense within The Community.  

Jesus taught me that the Bible is a tribal document. He is building his Tribe out of all kinds of people.  

​I need The Community. 

The Community needs me.  

We ARE the Church.

(From my book 31 Letters to the Church on Discipleship)

Thursday, October 26, 2023

FORGIVENESS: Some Resources


(Leading the Presence-Driven Church students, Faith Bible Seminary, NYC)

(I'm re-posting this to keep it in play.)


Which one is the road to freedom?

a. to forgive

b. to nurture an offense

Linda and I are always talking with people about forgiveness. Here are  links to things I have written about forgiveness.

We all need it, and need to learn it, and practice it. 

For Jesus-followers, this is the heart and soul of the Gospel. 

I bless you all with hearts of forgiveness!

Why Is Self-forgiveness Harder than Forgiving Others?

For empirical research on the benefits and power of forgiveness, see Robert Enright's International Forgiveness Institute.


David Augsburger, Caring Enough to Forgive

A Follow of Jesus Forgives Others


I want you to forgive others who have hurt you.  

I want you to pray for people who harass and persecute you.  

There came a point in my life as a disciple of Jesus where I began praying the Lord’s Prayer with my new-creation, born-again heart. I was deeply affected by this part of the prayer: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  

This became real to me in my marriage with Linda.

We were dating, and had our first argument. We were upset with each other. During the argument I remember thinking, “This is over.” I was under the illusion that, in a love relationship, there will be no anger because we would be the perfect couple.  

During the verbal fighting Jesus gave me a lesson I have never forgotten. It happened this way.  

I thought of myself as a powerful arguer. I felt I was defeating Linda in this conflict. Then God said, “John, you are arguing powerfully, but you are wrong. You’re going to confess this to her.”  

So, what did I do about this? I kept arguing, even though I knew I was wrong. Then God said, “John, not only must you now confess you are wrong. You must also ask her forgiveness for continuing to argue even though you knew you were wrong.”  

At that point I stopped. I said, “Linda, I was wrong in this argument. And, when I saw this my error, I kept on arguing anyway. Would you forgive me?”  

This was new spiritual territory for me. To my memory, I can only recall one other time when I asked someone for forgiveness. What would happen now?  

Immediately, Linda said, “I forgive you.”  

And the wall came down.   

I began laughing at my foolishness. She laughed with me, not at me. I was experiencing the freedom of forgiveness. Since then, Linda and I have asked each other for forgiveness, multiple times. It will happen again.  

I, an apprentice to the Lord Jesus, was in the School of Jesus. He was teaching me to be more like Him. What a beautiful gift!  


I forgive those who have hurt me, from the heart.  

I experience the beauty and freedom of God’s forgiveness!  

I live a forgiving life.  

I live a forgiven life.

I exercise the power of confession and forgiveness.  

When in conflict I initiate confession and forgiveness.  

I understand and celebrate the power of forgiveness in relationships!  

(For more see my blog post “Forgiveness – Resources.” At johnpiippo.com.)

(From my book 31 Letters to the Church on Discipleship)

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

A Disciple Is a Servant


 I want you to serve others.

I want you to place others before the cultivation of your own self.  

This is something my Lord has taught me.  

As a boy, and a teen, I helped in some ways in my parents’ house. Upon being asked, I took out garbage, shoveled snow, and mowed the lawn. When I could drive, I ran errands for my mother. I served in my parents’ home. But I did not have the heart of a servant. That came in the spring of 1970.  

That was when I got saved. Jesus was now my Master, and I was his apprentice. I was enrolled in the Lifetime School of Jesus. This was, and remains, exhilarating to me!  

Part of me was anticipating doing big things for Jesus. Jesus, on the other hand, was teaching me small things. While in God’s eyes it is no small thing to be a servant, a servant specializes in small things. Like doing the dishes.  

On a Sunday, in the spring of 1970, I sat with my father and mother at our dinner table. Church was over, and we were home, eating the my mother’s delicious home cooking. When we finished, I left the kitchen and went into our family room to watch sports on TV. This was my habit. Little did I know this was to forever change, on that great day in the School of Jesus.  

That day, sitting in our family room, God spoke to me. “Go back into the kitchen and help your mother clean up.” I knew this was God, instructing me. I lifted my body off the family room couch, and went back into the kitchen. “Mom,” I said, “let me do the dishes today.”  

My parents were raised in a patriarchal culture. Making meals and cleaning up afterwards were things the women did. Much of my mother’s self-worth came from cooking, cleaning, and making the house look good.  

“No, Johnny,” she said, “you go back and watch TV.”  

“Mom, I’m going to do the dishes!” 

I insisted on this! After protesting, she gave in. Little did we both realize that I just advanced in the School of Jesus. I became a servant in my father’s and mother’s house. I consider this one of the greatest things Jesus has ever done for me. 

 Jesus, my Lord, once said to his disciples, "The Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people."  

 Above our kitchen sink, where I and Linda wash dishes, is a window. Through this window we see the beautiful pine trees in our backyard. Our bird feeders are there. My mother used to love feeding and watching birds. So do I. Here I am today, like mother, like son. I wash dishes.  I do this gladly, with joy and thanksgiving, to the glory of God.  

I want you to serve others. 

I want you to place others before your own desires.


Just as my Lord Jesus came to serve others, so do I.  

I love serving in the name of Jesus!  

I place my desires behind the needs of people. 

I am learning more and more about servanthood every day.  

I am a servant in my church family.

I wash dishes to the glory of God.  

When it comes to serving, I take the initiative.

(From my book 31 Letters to the Church on Discipleship)

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Welcome to Redeemer Fellowship Church

An Apprentice to Jesus Reads The Book


I read the Bible.

 As I write this, I am immersing myself in the book of Ezekiel. I also read the book of Proverbs, regularly. I go slow with Proverbs! I am also re-reading the Gospel of John. I have read John many times, and always discover new insights.  

Why do I do this? Because: I am a disciple of Christ. The required text is the Bible. Jesus is training me to be like him, in character and behavior.  

An apprentice to Christ constantly studies the Great Manual of Instruction.  It functions as a guide to life, a light to one’s path. Plus, the Bible is the greatest, most influential, inspiring book ever written!  

God used my earthly father to influence me to read the Bible. I remember seeing dad, holding his Bible, his glasses perched on the bridge of his nose, usually in the evening before he went to bed. Dad read it so much that his thumb almost wore through the leather cover. I have his Bible. 

I received a black, leather-covered Bible when I was confirmed in our Lutheran Church. I was twelve years old. My fingerprints were not on this Bible. I never touched it. My mother stored it somewhere - I don't know where, and I didn't care. I never picked it up and read it. Until…   

…I was 21. That's when Jesus rescued me out of deep enslavement to evil. Instantly, my life began to change for the better. I was now an apprentice to Jesus, and I needed a Bible!  

I drove to my parents' home. I asked, "Mom, do you know where my Bible is?"  

She got it for me. I began to read. And read. I wore the leather out on it so much that the cover finally tore off. I still have this Bible. Here it is.

I am my father's son. Like father, like son, right? I have been reading and studying the Bible for fifty-one years. Disciples of Christ study to show themselves approved, as they rightly handle the Word of God. (2 Timothy 2:15)

I want this for you. The apostle Paul wrote:  Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)  

And: Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. (Philippians 3:17)  

I am a disciple, a student, in the School of Jesus. Jesus teaches us through the Word, and through other disciples, like my father.  

Follow my example. Read and re-read your Bible.

(For a good book on understanding the Bible see How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stewart.)  


I am a student of God’s Word.  

I love reading the Bible. It is a guide to my life!  

I read portions of the Bible every day.

I write verses on 3X5 cards and carry them with me, looking at them often.  

God speaks to me through the words of the Bible.  

The Bible nourishes me. It is food for my soul.  

I have time to read my Bible.  

The Bible is getting inside me and transforming me.

(From my book 31 Letters to the Church on Discipleship, p. 20)

Monday, October 23, 2023

Studying Jesus - Some Resources

(Jerusalem street)

One of my PhD qualifying exams was in Ancient Christology. Christology is still, for me, an area I study in. This is my first love: knowing Jesus, and making Jesus known. 

Here are books and websites I recommend for studying Jesus, with a few annotations. 

This list could be miles long! These are some I recommend. If you read these, you'll be well on your way in studying Christ and thinking Christologically. You will, increasingly, be able to separate the real from the false.


Gustav Aulen

Ruth Haley Barton

Richard Bauckham

James Beilby and Paul Eddy, eds. The Historical Jesus: Five Views

Michael Brown

Greg Boyd

Greg Boyd & Paul Eddy
James Charlesworth
William Lane Craig
Paul Eddy and James Beilby

Craig Evans

Craig Evans and N.T. Wright
Gordon Fee

Gordon Fee and Cherith Nordling Fee
Simon Gathercole, Robert Stewart, N. T. Wright

Larry Hurtado and Chris Keith

Craig Keener
J. N. D. Kelly

George Ladd

Michael McClymond

Scot McKnight
Richard Norris and William Rusch

Eugene Peterson

Stephen Porter, Gary Moon, J. P. Moreland

Stephen Prothero
Fleming Rutledge
Klyne Snodgrass

Lee Strobel

Rankin Wilbourne 

Dallas Willard 

Ben Witherington

N.T. Wright (No one, except Craig Keener, is writing more about Jesus than Wright is.)


When the following New Testament scholars write a commentary, it's going to be worth reading.
  • Richard Bauckham
  • Craig Blomberg
  • D.A. Carson
  • Craig Evans
  • Gordon Fee
  • R.T. France
  • David Garland
  • Joel Green
  • Richard Hays
  • Craig Keener
  • Andreas Kostenberger
  • Scot McKnight
  • Douglas Moo
  • Klyne Snodgrass
  • Ben Witherington
  • N.T. Wright - especially see Wright's "For Everyone" series.


Are There Many Moral "Flavors" Out There?


                                                     (Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan)

In a recent series of email exchanges with someone, we were discussing morality, where it comes from, and how can we know 'right' and 'wrong', 'good' and 'evil'. My interlocutor showed his cards when he told me, "There are many flavors of morality out there."

I responded, "You are a moral relativist."  

Truly, there are only a few types of ethical theories. (See here.) They include emotivism, deontology (Kant) virtue ethics, utilitarianism, divine command theory, and relativism. Emotivism can be seen as a subset of relativism. Utilitarianism can be seen as corporate subjective relativism. And, we might add metaphysical naturalism (atheism), which simply and logically concludes that morality does not exist. (Nietzsche, e.g.)

So, the belief that there are "many moral flavors out there" presents distinctions without a difference. And, when it comes to moral relativism, it can be seen as inadequate in two ways: 1) it is non-sensical because of what it must allow, and 2) it is self-contradictory. (The self-contradictory part doesn't bother a postmodernist, who rejects all ideas of objective truth, as an act of faith. On this see, e.g., Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity, and Why this Harms Everybody - written, BTW, by two atheists, and applauded by atheists Stephen Pinker and Richard Dawkins.)

In teaching Logic for seventeen years at Monroe County Community College, one of the textbooks I used was The Power of Critical Thinking, by (atheist) Lewis Vaughn. Vaughn has an anti-postmodernist section on relativism. (Postmoderns tend to revile logic, even though they use it all the time to defend their positions. Supposedly, this is "progressive.") I now quote, extensively, from that section. Pay attention, all you are interested in truth, as Vaughn writes:

"The idea that truth depends on what someone believes is call subjective relativism, and if you accept this notion or use it to try to support a claim, you're said to commit the subjectivist fallacy. This view says that truth depends not on the way things are, but solely on what someone believes. Truth, in other words, is relative to persons. [The same applies to social relativism; viz., that truth is relative to societies. See Vaughn, p. 45.) Truth is a matter of what a person believes - not a matter of how the world is. [Which is, BTW, what science is about, and why real scientists reject postmodern relativist thinking; hence, e.g., Pinker and Dawkins.] This means that a proposition can be true for one person, but not for another. [Or, for one culture, but not for another.] If you believe that dogs can fly, then it is true (for you) that dogs can fly. If someone else believes that dogs cannot fly, then it is true (for him) that dogs cannot fly.

You've probably encountered subjective relativism [= "many flavors out there"] more often than you realize. You may have heard someone (maybe even yourself!) say, "This is my truth, and that's your truth," or, "This statement is true for me." ...

Most philosophers see the situation this way. We use critical thinking to find out whether a statement is true or false - objectively true or false. Objective truth is about the world, about the way the world is regardless of what we may believe about it. To put if differently, there is a way the world is, and our beliefs do not make it. The world is the way it is, regardless of how we feel about it.

These same philosophers would probably be quick to point out that some objective truths are about our subjective states or processes. It might be true, for example, that you are feeling pain right now. But if so, the claim that you are feeling pain right now is an objective truth about your subjective state....  [Or], you may like ice cream, but someone else may not. But the truth about these states of affairs is not relative...

Many philosophers have (through the use of critical thinking) uncovered some odd implications that seem to render the view implausible. First, they point out that if we could make a statement true just by believing it to be true, we would be infallible. We could not possibly be in error about anything that we sincerely believed. We could never be mistaken about where we parked the car or what we said about jelly beans or what some general said about carpet bombing. Personal infallibility is, of course, absurd, and this possibility seems to weigh heavily against subjective relativism.

Many critics think that subjective relativism's biggest problem is that it is self-defeating. It defeats itself because its truth implies its falsity. The relativist says, "All truth is relative." If this statement is objectively true, then it refutes itself because if it is objectively true that "All truth is relative," then the statement itself is an example of an objective truth. So, if "All truth is relative" is objectively true, it is objectively false."


1. There are many moral flavors out there.

2. Hence, we cannot say that one moral flavor is truer than another moral flavor.

3. The belief that there are many moral flavors out there claims to be objectively true. (Elsewise, statement one is false.)

4. But statement 1 is but one flavor (belief) about morality.

5. Therefore, statement 1 is not objectively true. Which is self-contradictory.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

A Disciple of Jesus Learns to Hear the Voice of Jesus


I began hearing the voice of God before I became a follower of Jesus.  

One time, when I was twenty, I was playing in a band, in a bar. Out of heaven, the thought came to me, “John, you are messed up.” That was wild. And, it was true.  

I heard this in a way that felt different and deep. It penetrated my defenses, and took up residence in my soul. In retrospect, I saw it was God, speaking to me, calling me to himself.

Today, over fifty years later, I am a disciple of Jesus. A disciple is an “apprentice.” An apprentice learns to do what their teacher does. This requires hearing from God.  

My life is apprenticed to Jesus. I am a student in The School of Jesus My Lord. This is the greatest opportunity I have in life! If you are a disciple, you are in this for life, and joyfully so.  

Jesus is our Teacher. I know what “teacher” means. Linda and I are both teachers. Linda did her bachelor’s degree in education, focusing on special needs kids and behavior-disordered kids. I taught for eighteen years at Monroe County Community  College (Michigan), and have taught in several theological seminaries.  

I also know what it is to be a student. When a teacher teaches, the student hears their voice. This is basic. Jesus is mentoring us to be like him in his character, and in his abilities. As Jesus once said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  

Jesus knows his committed ones. He speaks to his disciples. His disciples recognize His voice. His apprentices follow Jesus their Lord.

I want this for you, too.

I have been a follower of Lord Jesus since 1970. I have grown in learning to hear his voice. I have learned that hearing the voice of Jesus is directly related to intimacy and familiarity with Jesus. So, I spend much time with him.  

I have learned that I am to focus on intimacy with Jesus, rather than on hearing his voice. Because with greater intimacy, hearing comes. Live as a branch, connected to Jesus, the Vine. Abide in him, and your life will bear much fruit. This includes hearing God’s voice.  

We learn to hear God’s voice by spending time with God.

I want this for you.  

Abide in Jesus. Grow in intimacy with Jesus. Grow in ability to hear his voice.

(One resource that currently deepens me in this area of discipleship is Hearing God Through the Year: A 365-Day Devotional, by Dallas Willard.)  


I take much time to spend with God.

I am more familiar with Jesus than I have ever been.  

I find that God, as my Shepherd, has much to say to me, his sheep.  

God speaks to me about many things.  

I love hearing the voice of God.  

I am a student in The School of Jesus Christ, and he is my Teacher!

(From my book 31 Letters to the Church on Discipleship, p. 16)