Book Review: A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper

Title: A Sweet & Bitter Providence: Sex, Race and the Sovereignty of God
Author: John Piper
Publisher: Crossway Books

With it’s themes of sex, romance, culture and the unseen hand of God, the Old Testament book of Ruth is perhaps one of the most gripping short stories ever written—one with a great deal to teach us.

That’s why I was so glad to read A Sweet & Bitter Providence by John Piper as he illustrates how the story of Naomi, Ruth & Boaz teaches us to suffer well for the glory of God, recognizing that all things occur according to His sovereign rule.

God Reigns—But Do We See It?

Piper begins with the “bitter” providence of God in Naomi’s life. Seeking to find respite from the famine that has struck Israel, Her husband, Elimelech, moves Naomi and their two sons, Mahlon & Chilion, to Moab. There, instead of finding relief, the family finds only despair. Elimelech dies, her sons marry two Moabite women and die as well, childless. Naomi sees that ”the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20). Of this, Piper writes,

I would take Naomi’s theology any day over the sentimental views of God that permeate so many churches today. Endless excuses are made for God’s sovereignty. Naomi is unshaken and sure about three things: God exists, God is sovereign, and God has afflicted her. (pp. 37-38)

Piper wants readers to catch a larger vision of God, one that the Bible itself displays. A God who is much bigger than He appears based on what we hear in many sermons and read in a lot of books. He is real. He is sovereign and, yes, He has afflicted her. But all of these things happen not because He is capricious and mean, but because He is using them to further His plans for the salvation of the world. [Read more...]

John Piper: Are You Being Confident or Making Presumptions?

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When you take a risk (“stepping out in faith,” as they say), are you being confident in God’s provision—or are you making presumptions upon Hin. How do you know the difference? 

It’s a question I’ve been considering for quite some time. I really appreciated John Piper’s answer.

What are your thoughts—Have you ever taken a risk and not seen God provide the way you were expecting?

An edited transcript follows:

What’s the difference between confidence and presumption when it comes to God’s provision in risk-taking? 

Let the Bible give you whatever criteria it can in whether or not you take risks for Christ. So whatever the Bible forbids you to do, don’t do. What it commands you to do, do. So that’s the first place to start. 

Then let principles hold sway. Jesus was very hesitant—I mean, absolutely did not jump off the temple. Satan wanted him to do this radical, dangerous thing: “The angels will catch you and God will be glorified.” And Jesus saw it as a ruse. The devil didn’t want God to be glorified through his taking that risk and being rescued. And that may be the case for you as well. 

So I think part of that right there would be, “Is my motive in order to attract attention to myself as a risk-taker, and to get some honor for how valiant I am? Or is there a need right now that I’ve got to jump in to, and I’m not going to let fear stop me?” 

Those would be two very different motives, wouldn’t they? The sense that “I’m taking a risk and God’s going to get glory because I’m such a valiant risk-taker,” or “There’s a need here and a possibility that I can meet the need, and I’m going to overcome obstacles of fear to get there.”

So I think motivations and biblical guidelines and constraints are the way you move forward. 

By John Piper. © Desiring God 

John Piper: Smiting Morality with Gospel Joy

A powerful excerpt from Piper’s lecture at the 2010 Desiring God Conference for Pastors, “Lessons from an Inconsolable Soul: Learning from the Mind and Heart of C. S. Lewis.”

The abbreviated transcript follows:

Until we are gripped with the joyful impulses of gospel grace from the inside, we will always be thinking in terms of doing external duties as pressures from outside. This is called morality. But here is what I discovered with Lewis’s help:

A perfect man would never act from a sense of duty; he’d always want the right thing more than the wrong one. Duty is only a substitute for love (of God and of other people) like a crutch which is a substitute for a leg. Most of us need the crutch at times; but of course it is idiotic to use the crutch when our own legs (our own loves, tastes, habits etc.) can do the journey on their own.

The implications of this for my own pursuit of holiness and my teaching on sanctification have been pervasive. Lewis brings this insight to bear on the Puritans and William Tyndale in particular in a way this is profoundly illuminating:

In reality Tyndale is trying to express an obstinate fact which meets us long before we venture into the realm of theology; the fact that morality or duty (what he calls ‘the Law’) never yet made a man happy in himself or dear to others. It is shocking, but it is undeniable. We do not wish either to be, or to live among, people who are clean or honest or kind as a matter of duty: we want to be, and associate with, people who like being clean and honest and kind. The mere suspicion that what seemed an act of spontaneous friendliness or generosity was really done as a duty subtly poisons it. In philosophical language, the ethical category is self-destructive; morality is healthy only when it is trying to abolish itself. In theological language, no man can be saved by works. The whole purpose of the “Gospel,” for Tyndale, is to deliver us from morality. Thus, paradoxically, the “Puritan” of modern imagination—the cold, gloomy heart, doing as duty what happier and richer souls do without thinking of it—is precisely the enemy which historical Protestantism arose and smote.

This is what I want to keep smiting with Christian Hedonism: The gospel is designed to make forgiven sinners love righteousness, not do it against all their inclinations.

By John Piper. © Desiring God

How Can You Encourage Your Mentor?

I really appreciated Piper’s response to the question posed in this video.

As someone who’s greatly been blessed by the ministry of a much wiser man, I’ve found that some of the most fruitful times of ministry are when we’re able to invest in each other, which is really the heart of mentoring, isn’t it? Not simply give or take, but a mutual exchange.

Anyway, take a couple minutes, watch the video or read the transcript and give some thought to these question:  

Do you have a mentor? If so, how can you encourage him or her today?

The edited transcript follows.


As a young Christian I am often encouraged by an older mentor. I find it difficult to know how to encourage him, because I feel like the student. What are some ways I can encourage him in return?

The sin in a mentor’s heart wants you to make much of him by saying good things about his mentoring. The righteousness in a mentor’s heart wants you to make much of God and Christ because of what the mentor has pointed you toward or modeled for you.

This second one will, in fact, encourage him that he has done something right, and that’s not a bad feeling. But it needs to be right for God’s sake and right for Christ’s sake, not just, “I really need complements here, I really need affirmation.”

So I would tell the person who is being mentored to describe in significant ways the Christ-exalting good that has been done in your life. Describe what you’re seeing about Christ. Describe experiences that you’re having in ministry and in life that show the spillover and the fruit from the mentoring relationship.

Don’t think you have to think of a list of good things about that mentor. What he’s living for—if he’s a godly man—is your change and God’s glory in your life. So talk about that! Talk about God and talk about ministry. That would be the main.

Secondly, I would say to pray for him, and ask him how you can pray. Mentors are not above the need for prayer.

And thirdly, be a really good thinker and listener. In other words, if he is pointing you to something—showing you something, explaining something to you—be there! Be there emotionally and be there with your mind. An attentive, eager student communicates, “I’m expecting something valuable here,” and that honors the mentor.

By John Piper. © Desiring God.

John Piper: Is it ever appropriate to call out prosperity gospel teachers by name?

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The following is an edited transcript of the audio provided by Desiring God:

Is it ever appropriate to call out prosperity gospel teachers by name?

Mark Driscoll does it. I tuned in one time and he actually played a clip from Joel Osteen.

My problem is that I don’t read these guys enough and don’t know them well enough. If I read a whole bunch of books by so-and-so and had actual quotes that I could quote and arguments that I could give, I would feel more adequate to say something.

So that’s one criterion: I don’t feel like I’m in their world enough to know them well enough.

Secondly, if I knew that somebody I knew or my church was being swayed away by somebody that I felt was preaching a gospel different from our gospel, I would probably get real specific with the church, for the church’s sake.

So the first reason may be owing to laziness. I don’t think it’s owing to cowardice. [Read more...]

Around the Interweb (01/10)

John Piper: A Sweet and Bitter Providence

John Piper’s got a new book, A Sweet and Bitter Providence. About the book:

The timeless themes of sex, racial tension, and God’s perplexing and perfect plans are as much a part of our human experience today as they were for Ruth and Boaz over three thousand years ago.

In A Sweet and Bitter Providence, the book of Ruth comes alive as a story of how God uses the most dangerous and tenuous circumstances to accomplish his wise and gracious purposes.

Here’s the trailer:

Read the book as a PDF or order a copy online


In other news

Christianity Today interviews Brit Hume, the former news anchor who appealed to Tiger Woods to turn to Christianity.

Kevin DeYoung on writing: part one | part two | part three

Bob Kauflin offers some reflections on turning 55


In case you missed it

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A review of Marva J. Dawn’s In the Beginning, God

“Perhaps I’ll be like Peter in his bravado…” Steve Timmis on giving up our lives for the gospel

The Perfect Worshipper, a few thoughts on Psalm 15

D.A. Carson on what the Church in America needs

An inspiring excerpt from C.H. Spurgeon’s All of Grace

Around the Interweb (01/03)

The Gospel Coalition Launches the For the Love of God blog

The Gospel Coalition has launched a new blog—one that’s not really a blog at all, but a free digital version of D.A. Carson’s two volume devotional For the Love of God. For the Love of God is designed to walk a person through the Bible in a year with commentary provided by Carson. For example, January 2 you would read Genesis 2; Matthew 2; Ezra 2; Acts 2 and Carson’s commentary on Genesis 2. An excerpt follows:

WHAT A STRANGE WAY, we might think, to end this account of Creation: “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Gen. 2:25). Hollywood would love it: what an excuse for sexual titillation if someone tries to place the scene on the big screen. We hurry on, chasing the narrative.

Yet the verse is strategically placed. It links the account of the creation of woman and the establishment of marriage (Gen 2:18-24) with the account of the Fall (Gen. 3). On the one hand, the Bible tells us that woman was taken from man, made by God to be “a helper suitable for him” (2:18), yet doubly one with him: she is bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh (2:24), the paradigm of marriages to come, of new homes and new families. On the other hand, in the next chapter we read of the Fall, the wretched rebellion that introduces death and the curse. Part of that account, as we glean from tomorrow’s reading, finds the man and the woman hiding from the presence of the Lord, because their rebellion opened their eyes to their nakedness (3:7, 10). Far from being unashamed, their instinct is to hide.

HT: Justin Taylor


In other news

Ed Stetzer shares some new research on how Protestant pastors spend their time

Michael Hyatt asks seven questions to consider about last year

John Piper shares 10 resolutions for mental health


In Case you missed it

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

My favorite books of 2009: Part 1 & part 2

A few books I’m looking forward to in 2010

A review of Spurgeon’s All of Grace

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Be Different from the World

A Post-Christmas Present for you-A Winner Has Been Chosen!

And the winner is… Bryon Harvey.

Many thanks to all who entered!


As a post-Christmas present, I’m giving away one copy of John Piper’s wonderful book, Don’t Waste Your Life—and you could win it.

About the book:

John Piper writes, “I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider this story from the February 1998 Reader’s Digest: A couple ‘took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball and collect shells. . ..’ Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: ‘Look, Lord. See my shells.’ That is a tragedy.

“God created us to live with a single passion: to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of him in every part of our lives.”

Most people slip by in life without a passion for God, spending their lives on trivial diversions, living for comfort and pleasure, and perhaps trying to avoid sin. This book will warn you not to get caught up in a life that counts for nothing. It will challenge you to live and die boasting in the cross of Christ and making the glory of God your singular passion. If you believe that to live is Christ and to die is gain, read this book, learn to live for Christ, and don’t waste your life!

How To Enter:

There are a few ways to enter, and you can enter multiple times. So, if you subscribe to the RSS feed, follow me on Twitter and leave a comment on this post, you’ll be entered three times.

  1. Leave a comment below telling me why you want to win a copy of Don’t Waste Your Life
  2. Subscribe to the blog either via email or an RSS feed.  Leave a comment to let me know
  3. Link to this post and/or add Blogging Theologically to your blog roll. Send me an email (aaron.armstrong9_at_gmail_dot_com) or a comment with a link to your post
  4. Follow me on Twitter and retweet the following–RT: @AaronStrongarm is giving away a copy of Don’t Waste Your Life by @JohnPiper.  Find out how to win! http://bit.ly/8xYgSy

This contest will end on Thursday, December 31st, at 12:00 noon. The Randomly selected winner will be notified via email and announced here once they’ve confirmed their mailing address.

This contest is open to residents of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Many thanks to all who participate.

Prayer for Matt Chandler

Update: An update from the Village Church on the pathology report that Matt and Lauren Chandler received yesterday:

Dear church,

In the first chapter of Philippians, the Apostle Paul writes that whatever imprisonments, beatings and trials he may have suffered, they all “serve to advance the gospel” of Jesus Christ. We implore you to keep the gospel of Christ as the main focus as we walk with Matt and Lauren through this trial.

On Tuesday, Dr. Barnett informed Matt and Lauren that the findings of the pathology report revealed a malignant brain tumor that was not encapsulated. The surgery to remove the tumor, the doctor said, was an extremely positive first step; however, because of the nature of the tumor, he was not able to remove all of it.

Matt, who is being released from the hospital today, is meeting with a neuro-oncologist this week to outline the next steps of the recovery process. There is a range of treatment possibilities but the exact course of action has not yet been determined. He will continue outpatient rehab.

The Lord is calling Matt and Lauren and The Village Church body to endure this trial. It will be a challenging road for Matt, his family and our church body. The gospel is our hope and the Lord is our strength. Matt and Lauren continue to find solace and hope in Christ. They weep facing this trial, but not as those without hope and perspective. The gospel clarifies their suffering and promises more of Christ through it all.

You have done a wonderful job respecting the family, and we ask that you continue to do this. They are processing all of this together and need you to give them precious space. Please do not visit them at their house unless personally invited by the Chandlers. The best way to serve the family is to continue to be faithful in prayer. Specifically, pray for the following:

  • Wisdom for all the coming decisions
  • Strength and peace to endure
  • The kids’ (Audrey, Reid and Norah) hearts; pray the Lord is merciful as they process and that their little hearts do not grow embittered
  • The Chandlers and The Village would suffer well because of the gospel and for the sake of Christ’s name

As you hurt and weep for the family, do not do it alone. Gather with your home group and with other believers in homes and pray together. This is a time to walk together with others and to endure this trial in community. If you wish, send cards and letters to Matt and Lauren at 2101 Justin Road, Flower Mound, TX 75028.

We will continue to keep you informed as new information is made available. Please be patient with the frequency of the updates. May God strengthen us all and may His glory shine brightly through this.

Please continue to pray for our brother, his family, and his church.

Yesterday he wrote on his Twitter account: “Path report is 2ndary at best…good report doesn’t mean much, bad report doesn’t mean anything…my days r numbered and nt by ths report.”

Collin Hansen recently wrote in CT about Chandler’s trials: “When the Pastor Suffers.”

HT: JT [Read more...]

Sunday Shorts (11/08)

Free Audiobook at ChristianAudio.com: Desiring God

This month, Christian Audio is offering John Piper’s classic work, Desiring God, as it’s free-audio book of the month. Use the coupon code NOV2009 when purchasing.

From the publisher’s description:

Scripture reveals that the great business of life is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. In this paradigm-shattering classic, newly revised and expanded, John Piper reveals that the debate between duty and delight doesn’t truly exist: Delight is our duty. Join him as he unveils stunning, life impacting truths you saw in the Bible but never dared to believe.

Prayerlessness is Unbelief

A post well worth reading from Kevin DeYoung:

Prayer is essential for the Christian, as much for what it says about us as for what it can do through God. The simple act of getting on our knees (or faces or feet or whatever) for 5 or 50 minutes every day is the surest sign of our humility and dependence on our Father in heaven. There may be many reasons for our prayerlessness—time management, busyness, lack of concentration—but most fundamentally, we ask not because we think we need not. or we think God can give not. Deep down we feel secure when we have money in the bank, a healthy report from the doctor, and powerful people on our side.  We do not trust in God alone. Prayerlessness is an expression of our meager confidence in God’s ability to provide and of our strong confidence in our ability to take care of ourselves without God’s help.

Introducing 10 Million Words

Christian blogger extraordinaire Tim Challies has started another blog over at The Gospel Coalition. But here’s the twist—Tim will be reading and reviewing every non-fiction hardcover on the New York Times bestseller’s list in 2010. Here’s what Tim had to say:

My wife thinks I’m a little bit crazy, I’m sure of it. During eleven years of marriage I’ve done a lot of things that have led her to roll her eyes and sigh. I guess she is getting used to it, though, because even she is interested in what I am planning to do in 2010. I plan to read all of the New York Times bestselling books over the course of the whole year. Do the math and you’ll see that this will come in at somewhere around 10 million words.

And Introducing…

This week, my wife and I learned some exciting news: We’ll be welcoming another little girl to our family in March/April (depending on when Emily goes into labor). We’ve been keeping the pregnancy somewhat under wraps until now, but I want to introduce you to my soon-to-be-born daughter:

BabyGirl

See you soon, Rutabaga Applesauce. (Please pray that we would find the right name for this child.)

In case you missed it

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Book Review: “Fundamentalism” and the Word of God, reviewing J.I. Packer’s classic defense of the Evangelical view of Scripture

The Seed of the Woman and the Seed of the Serpent: Temptation, kicking off a new Saturday series representing George Whitefield’s sermon on Genesis 3:15 (the first gospel)

By Grace Alone, telling my story of how I became a Christian

The Gospel-less “Gospel,” looking at Christianity Today’s short documentary on the prosperity “gospel” and it’s impact in Ghana.

Sunday Shorts (10/18)

Mark Driscoll: No ‘Best Case’ Way to Present God, but Many False Ways

Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle joins the Washington Post’s On Faith Panelist blog. The subject of his first post? Jesus.

Q: What makes the best ‘case for God’ to a skeptic or non-believer, an open-minded seeker, and to a person of faith and Why?

Answer
Jesus.

Christianity is not first and foremost about a sacred place to pilgrimage to, a philosophical system to ponder, a moral code to live, a religious tradition to honor, or an impersonal god to experience. Rather, Christianity is about a person who claimed to be the only God and said he would prove his unprecedented claim by living without sin, dying for sinners, and conquering death through resurrection.

So, as Christians, our aim is not to convince people of some god in general, but to introduce them to Jesus in particular. And since he created us with the ability to communicate, think, love, and experience, Christians have always valued using every means by which the truth and love of Jesus can be revealed.

The entire article is well worth reading. The comments section on the other hand…

How God Called John Piper to Become a Pastor

October 14, 2009 marked the 30th anniversary of John Piper’s call to become a pastor. Justin Taylor, associate publisher at Crossway Books, blogger at Between Two Worlds, and longtime colleague of Piper’s, recounts the events leading up to his decision:

But during his sabbatical a new desire was emerging: “to see the word of God applied across a broader range of problems in people’s lives and a broader range of ages.” In other words, he increasing longed “to address a flock week after week and try to draw them in . . . to an experience of God that gives them more joy in him than they have in anything else and thus magnifies Christ.” And he found that in studying the majestic, free, and sovereign God of Romans 9 day after day his “analysis merged into worship.”

The decisive night of wrestling was on Monday, October 14, 1979—30 years ago today. His wife and two young sons were asleep. But Piper was up past midnight, writing in his journal, recording the direction God was irresistibly drawing him to.

The journal entry for that evening begins in this way:

I am closer tonight to actually deciding to resign at Bethel and take a pastorate than I have ever been. . . .

The urge is almost overwhelming. It takes this form: I am enthralled by the reality of God and the power of his Word to create authentic people.

In effect the Lord was saying to him:

I will not simply be analyzed; I will be adored.

I will not simply be pondered; I will be proclaimed.

My sovereignty is not simply to be scrutinized; it is to be heralded.

It is not grist for the mill of controversy; it is gospel for sinners who know that their only hope is the sovereign triumph of God’s grace over their rebellious will.

The calling to preach and pastor had become irresistible.

I, like many others, am grateful to God for how He’s used Piper to powerfully affect many thousands of men and women the world over. Thanks to Justin for this wonderful article.

In case you missed it

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

How Can a Good God Let Bad Things Happen, a review of Mark Tabb’s book on the question of suffering

D.A. Carson on the Kingdom of God, a video clip in which Carson addresses a biblical view of the Kingdom

Experiencing a Miracle, some thoughts on the miracle of salvation and regeneration

God and the Weather: Interpreting Providence

providence

Because I’d not had the opportunity prior to embarking on 15 hours of travelling (I’m now basking in a cozy hotel room in Weybridge, Surrey, UK), I thought I’d offer some of my own thoughts on the issues surrounding the recent controversial statements made by Pastor John Piper about the Tornado that struck the Minneapolis Convention Center.

There are a few things that we can say unequivocally:

  1. God is sovereign over all things—Nations, governments, circumstances, people and even the weather. Absolutely nothing happens on this earth without either His direct intervention or His permission, be it good or bad. This is the (admittedly oversimplified) doctrine of Providence. The books of Ruth and Esther are specifically about God’s providential (unseen) hand. Psalm 147:8, 16-18, Job 37:3, 6, 10-13, Jeremiah 10:13, and Amos 4:7 all speak to His sovereign rule over nature.
  2.  

  3. Because God is indeed sovereign over all things, there is no such thing as a “random event,”according to Scripture. “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and a create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things,” says the Lord in Isaiah 45:7 (see also Lamentations 3:38 and Ecclesiastes 7:14). There are only events we understand and events we do not. However, while we may not understand the purpose of an event, God most certainly does (see Deut. 29:29, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God…”) But we have to remember that God permits all things for the good of all who love Him (see Rom. 8:28).
  4.  

  5. All sin is unacceptable in the eyes of a holy God. Murder, lying, blasphemy, pride and sexual sin (including, but not limited to, fornication, adultery and homosexual practice) are all equally wrong in the eyes of God. And all who fail to repent will stand to give an account before God for their sins. This is what Jesus was warning of in Luke 13:1-5—Disastrous events in this world foreshadow the judgement that is to come, and unless we repent, we too will fall in that judgement. That’s a big deal, gang!

That’s what we can say.

Here is what we cannot:

We cannot offer a definitive interpretation of a providential act of God, like the recent tornado. To do so goes further than we are permitted by Scripture. We can offer what we think may have been the reason, and I believe that was Piper’s intention.

Further, there are some who would call it a random act. And with all due respect, there is no Scriptural support for such an idea whatsoever. To do so is nothing short of a denial of God’s sovereignty, which, if taken away, removes our reason for trusting Him. Because we know that He is in control of all things, for the good of His people, we can trust Him.

God knows why He, in His providence, sent the tornado to Minneapolis. And He knows why He also sent one to Vaughan, Ontario the next night.

But we do not know the specific reason with certainty, but we do know that this tornado was sent for “the good of those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

John Piper: The Tornado, the Lutherans and Homsexuality

UPDATE (08/25): For my thoughts on interpreting providence, read God & The Weather.


Central Lutheran's broken steeple

Wednesday, a tornado touched down in Minneapolis, Minnesota, much to the surprise of everyone (including weather forecasters). The tornado directly hit the convention center and the Central Lutheran Church at the exact time that delegates of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America were debating the acceptance of openly practicing homosexuals into the pastoral ministry of the church.

The next day, John Piper offered some possible insights into this occurrence in a post titled The Tornado, the Lutherans, and Homosexuality. This post has caused a lot of controversy over the last few days, but there are a couple of very relevant pieces we need to look at. In his original post, Piper writes:

I saw the fast-moving, misshapen, unusually-wide funnel over downtown Minneapolis from Seven Corners. I said to Kevin Dau, “That looks serious.”

It was. Serious in more ways than one. A friend who drove down to see the damage wrote,

On a day when no severe weather was predicted or expected…a tornado forms, baffling the weather experts—most saying they’ve never seen anything like it. It happens right in the city. The city: Minneapolis.

The tornado happens on a Wednesday…during the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s national convention in the Minneapolis Convention Center. The convention is using Central Lutheran across the street as its church. The church has set up tents around it’s building for this purpose.

According to the ELCA’s printed convention schedule, at 2 PM on Wednesday, August 19, the 5th session of the convention was to begin. The main item of the session: “Consideration: Proposed Social Statement on Human Sexuality.” The issue is whether practicing homosexuality is a behavior that should disqualify a person from the pastoral ministry.

The eyewitness of the damage continues:

This curious tornado touches down just south of downtown and follows 35W straight towards the city center. It crosses I94. It is now downtown.

The time: 2PM.

The first buildings on the downtown side of I94 are the Minneapolis Convention Center and Central Lutheran. The tornado severely damages the convention center roof, shreds the tents, breaks off the steeple of Central Lutheran, splits what’s left of the steeple in two…and then lifts.

In his post, Piper offers his thoughts on the specific purpose of this providential act of God, with some strong biblical support. [Read more...]

A Bible with All the Words: How I Learned to Love the ESV

This video caught my attention yesterday and it made me smile.

Piper is a man who is passionate about the Bible. You can tell, if nothing else from the fact that he spent two minutes of his sermon last week, that he really, really loves the words of Scripture. They’re really important. And because every single word is important, it can be argued that we do ourselves a disservice when we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to read them all.

Let me tell you a story about a man named… me.

The first Bible I read for myself was The Message paraphrase (sorry if you just spit something at your monitor). I bought this at the Christian bookstore that is now a board shop down the street from my house in London. And, y’know what? It was really helpful for me. God, in His mercy, saved me through the text of that paraphrase. Neat, huh?

But, I quickly became dillusioned with The Message. Certainly not because it was horrible and evil, but because as I read it, something seemed to be missing. And in September/October of 2005, just a few months after becoming a Christian, I bought… The TNIV. [Read more...]