Thursday, September 03, 2009

Spectacular Sins – Ch 4 - The Fatal Disobedience of Adam and the Triumphant Obedience of Christ

This is a weighty chapter. Surprise, surprise.

One takeaway is the difference between God ordaining evil, and God permitting Evil. Piper says it this way:

By ordain I mean that God either caused something directly or permitted it for wise purposes. This permitting is a kind of indirect causing, since God knows all the factors involved and what effects they will have and he could prevent any outcome. So his permission is a kind of secondary causing, but not a direct causing.
This distinction is an effort to be faithful to the different ways the Bible speaks about God's relation to events.

So God secondarily or indirectly causes evil. But even when he does permit evil, it is with a purpose. Whether by causing or permitting, God directs events to glorify Christ.

God planned to use the sin of Adam before Adam had committed the sin. Piper says:

For example, in Revelation 13:8, John writes about "everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain." So there was a book before the foundation of the world called "the book of life of the Lamb who was slain." Before the world was created, God had already planned that his Son would be slain like a lamb to save all those who are written in the book.

When Adam sins, God does not go to his back-up plan. He knows it will happen and continues with his plan to glorify Christ by saving those whose names are written in "the book of the life of the lamb who was slain".

The last main takeaway for me in this chapter was the explanation of Adam as a "type" of Christ. The following paragraph explains it well:

Here's the parallel: People whose transgression was not like Adam's died like Adam. Why? Because they were connected to Adam. He was the representative head of their humanity, and his sin is counted as their sin because of their connection with him. That's the essence of why Adam is called a type of Christ—because our obedience is not like Christ's obedience and yet we have eternal life with Christ. Why? Because we are connected to Christ by faith. He is the representative head of the new humanity, and his righteousness is counted as our righteousness because of our connection with him (Rom. 6:5).

That's the parallel implied in calling Adam a type of Christ:

Adam >Adam's sin >humanity condemned in him >eternal death

Christ >Christ's righteousness >new humanity justified in him >eternal life

And this passage is universal. Every single human you meet is either under Adam, and condemned in sin, or justified and alive in Christ. This is not a wimpy worldview. But wimpy worldview's create wimpy Christians.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

HTMF – Stage 1 – Hubris Born of Success

Don't become lazy in your success. In order to stay on top, you need to continually going hard and thinking of new ways to do your hedgehog better. When you are at your height, coasting will only bring you down.

Do not abandon your primary flywheel in the search of a new flywheel. "Exit definitively or renew obsessively, but do not ever neglect a primary flywheel."

He mentioned a concept from his book Built to Last: Try a lot of Stuff and Keep What Works! I like that!

You must reinvent yourself within your hedgehog. If Beethoven had just kept playing his Third Symphony, we would not have the masterful Ninth Symphony. This strikes a chord for me with C4C in that we need to stay close to our hedgehog, but think of new ways to "sell" our hedgehog.

Great Quote: "When institutions fail to distinguish between current practices and the enduring principles of their success, and mistakenly fossilize around their practices, they've set themselves up for decline."

Why was CCC successful in the first place? Not the specific practices and strategies that worked in the past, but the fundamental reasons for success?

At the end of each chapter, there is a list of "Markers" for each stage of the decline. If you find your company with some of these attributes, it is not a good thing!

Success Entitlement, Arrogance -- Do I see C4C as being entitled to success? I think I sort of do, as long as we are faithful to God's purpose and direction for us. Is that a proper perspective? If I am missing something, what is it?

Neglect of primary Flywheel – I would put Evangelism and Spiritual Multiplication as our primary flywheels. I think there is a strong movement within C4C to remain true to these.

"What" replaces "Why" – Do we know why our good things are good? Or do we just do them because they have been good. If we understand why something is good, we will know when to change the what.

Decline in Learning Orientation – Are C4C leaders continually trying to learn, or do we rest on our ministry knowledge laurels? I can't answer this fully but my impression of our leaders is that they are constantly trying to learn new things.

Discounting the Role of Luck: Is C4C where it is today because we are great? OR have we been lucky? A third thought for a Christian Ministry is are we good because God has blessed us, or because we are good? Or has God given us a strong vision, and we have responded faithfully. I hope it is the latter. But we need to move forward knowing that if we abandon God's enabling for human wisdom, we will be in trouble.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How the Mighty Fall

A couple years ago I read the book, Good to Great by Jim Collins. It had been quite popular in my work circles, and so I gave it a read. I found it quite interesting and useful for ministry, as well as just general principles for how to make groups of people work best.

Now, a couple years later, Jim Collins has another book out called How the Mighty Fall. While Good to Great was about analyzing how companies becoming great, How the Mighty Fall, as the title indicates, looks at how big companies fall from greatness.

He looks at 5 stages of decline, of which I will do a synopsis of each. They are as follows:

  1. Hubris Born of Success
  2. Undisciplined Pursuit of More
  3. Denial of Risk and Peril
  4. Grasping for Salvation
  5. Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death

The reason for reading such a book is to take these principles and to look at what might apply to the organization I work for.

Should be an interesting read!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

John Owen – Commending in public only what he experienced in private

After spending some time reading about John Owen in Piper's Contending for our All, I was struck by many things. But I think the one major takeaway point I want is this: John Owen only preached in public about things that he experienced in private. Over the years in Christian ministry it becomes easy to just say things that are true but that you are not currently experiencing. But people won't be as excited by something you speak about, if you are not also currently experiencing it. As I look back I see this to be true from many of my talks at C4C weekly meetings. I will get passionate about something I know is true because I am experiencing it, and I know that the audience gets excited about it. But if I speak on a solid prayer life when I am not currently experiencing it, it is just words that are true but have no life. So this year I want to speak more about what God is teaching me in my life. This means sermon preparation is more than just study… it is taking time to make sure I am doing things as much as I know them.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Spectacular Sins – Ch 2 - Christ Sovereign over all Hostile Powers

The central focus verse for this chapter is Colossians 1:15-16:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

In this chapter, Piper seeks to make clear that all things are created by Christ, through Christ, and for Christ. Everything exists to display the greatness of Christ. This includes evil things. Paul includes thrones or dominions in his list of things created for, through, and by Christ. Elsewhere in the New Testament, including later in Colossians, Rulers and Authorities are viewed as evil. So Paul wants us to know that even evil things are created by Christ to display his glory.

Why does he want us to know this?

  1. it is objectively true, not merely opinion or a merely human idea.
  2. it makes clear that Christ alone, not "rulers [and] authorities," is to be worshipped.
  3. our day is not so unlike Paul's. Paul was concerned that, in the pluralistic, intellectual atmosphere of Colossae, Christians could be captivated by high-sounding heresies
  4. to make us valiant in the face of odds that seem overwhelming to the natural eye.
  5. he wants us to see and feel that our salvation in Christ is invincible.

Why does Paul tell us such weighty things? It is because the "antidote for wimpy Christians is weighty doctrine. In Paul's mind, the most massive truths are meant for producing radical lives of obedience".

Piper summarizes the chapter like this:

All things were created by him and through him and for him—even our worst supernatural enemies. In the end, it was they—not Christ—who were shamed at the cross (Col. 2:15). In the end, everything and everyone serves to magnify the glory of our Savior and increase the gladness of his people in him.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Spectacular Sins – Ch 1 – God Sovereign over Human Sin

This Chapter sets the course of the rest of the book. It starts out by looking at 2 Chronicles 10:15, 18:22, 25:20, three places in the Bible it says that God caused someone to do something that changed the direction of history.

From there, Piper asks four questions that follow from this fact that God is sovereign over human sin:

Why Does God Want Us to Know His Sovereignty over Sin?

Why Does God Not Restrain Sin More Often?

How Can We Have Faith and Joy during the Severity of the Last Days?

How Is Christ Glorified in a World of Sin?

He does not answer them here, but sets them as the backdrop for this book.

In Summary, God is sovereign over human sin. It is in the Bible. So let's try to understand it by asking hard questions and getting solid answers.

Spectacular Sins – Introduction – The Times are Changing

I started reading John Pipers book: Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ. I decided that I wanted to take the time to blog about it as I recall in the past when I have blogged about books I have remembered more. The quotes in these blogs are all by Piper from the book, unless otherwise indicated.

The general thought of the intro was that things are too soft in the church in the west. We are being coddled:

"It seems to me that Christians in the West are being coddled. We suffer little in the name of Christ. Therefore, we read the Bible not with a desperate hunger for evidences of God's triumph in pain, but with a view to improving our private pleasures."

Part of the problem is that we are missing the Bible:

"What is missing is the Bible. I mean the whole Bible, with its blood and guts and sins and horrors—and all of it under the massive hand of God."

We mostly know the nice parts of the Bible that looks good on hallmark cards. But those parts of the Bible alone won't get us through hard times.

Times are coming when we will actually be persecuted like the church is in other places in the world. When those times come, we will not want to hear "felt needs" sermons. "The aim of this book is not to meet felt needs, but to awaken needs that will soon be felt, and then to save your faith and strengthen your courage when evil prevails"

We will want to know that God is in control and rules over all things, including the suffering of his children.

To say these things is all about love. It is what we need to hear, and so it is loving to say them, although it may seem harsh and overdramatic.

If interested, this whole book can be downloaded free from the Desiring God website at:

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Prayer for Jude

God, I thank you for the gift you have given to Vanessa and I. I pray that Jude would become a gift to the world as well.
I pray that he would, as his namesake once wrote, "contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints". If there is ever a time when your church needs someone to contend for the faith, it is now. I pray that Jude would be a contender.
I also pray that he would live to display your glory. As John Calvin lived to study and preach your Word, may Jude live to make your name glorified wherever he goes, as he studies and preaches your Word.
I pray that at a young age, Jude would come to know you as his Lord and Saviour, and never look back.
Give Vanessa and I wisdom as we raise him to follow you. May Jude live for your glory!
I pray this in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen!

Friday, May 15, 2009

“Be filled with the Spirit” = “Let word of Christ dwell in you richly”

I believe I heard this from Piper somewhere... He was comparing Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:18-19. They are structured similarly. Both mention singing psalms, hyms and spiritual songs, and being thankful to God. But in Colossians he instructs believers to "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly" whereas in Ephesians the instruction is to be filled with the Spirit.

The implication is that there is a close relationship between being filled with the Spirit, and the word of Christ dwelling in you. So we can be neither people who are only about the Word, or only about the Spirit. We need both to live the Christian life.

Here is a chart of the verses:

Colossians 3:16

Ephesians 5:18-19


And do not get drunk with wine,

for that is debauchery,

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,

but be filled with the Spirit,

teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom,


singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,

addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,


singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

with thankfulness in your hearts to God

giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father



in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ


I hope to be someone who knows deeply both the Word and Spirit!









Monday, April 27, 2009

Paul ends the Prosperity Gospel

1 Corinthians 15:19 - If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Paul is in the midst of explaining that there is a resurrection from the dead. Christ has been raised, and so if a person argues that there is no resurrection from the dead, then they are saying that Christ is not raised. This is where v. 19 comes in and says, describing believers in Christ, "If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied."

Why would Paul argue that Christians are the most to be pitied if we have Christ only in this life? It is because assumed with being a believer in Christ is that there will be not "health and wealth", but "trials in tribulations"! For those who believe that being a Christian gets you access to God's treasure chest of Gold and silver, how can this verse line up with your theology? Paul says we are to be pitied if we only have Christ in this life! But if in this life, Christ gets us money and health, then why would we be pitied? It just doesn't add up.