August 12, 2010

Principles for Leaders to Release the Supernatural

Many leaders long to see the people they serve walk in power, healing and the prophetic, especially outside the church. No longer satisfied to build a traditional ministry; they are stirred to impact their city. A passion is growing to see their regions and their campuses saturated in the glory of God, people surrendering their lives to Jesus, and the culture reflecting the Kingdom of God. But this shift in thinking requires a different set of tools, and we are compelled to seek revelation on how to make this become a reality. One of the most frequent questions I am asked by leaders is, “How can I release the supernatural in my ministry.”

In Matthew 5:16, Jesus makes it clear that one of the main keys to seeing the glory of God invade a city is a people shining their light—so those around them encounter their works. That word “works” is not referring to “random acts of kindness”, but rather, what Jesus demonstrated throughout His ministry as the sick were healed, the dead raised, the lame walked, and the blind received sight. In other words, as we manifest God’s power by laying hands on the diseased, prophesy over the broken, and radically love the lonely; our light will blaze through the darkness.

If we are going to empower people to transform their cities and campuses for Jesus, our methods must move beyond holding events to equipping lifestyles. As grateful as I am for the testimonies of the supernatural at our Jesus Culture conferences, I am only truly satisfied when I see these encounters multiply in and through the lives of the attendees when they return home. We are still learning everyday but here are a few keys.

1) Demonstrate God’s extravagant love
Healing, prophetic ministry, and signs and wonders are all extremely exhilarating. When one lays hands on someone who had scoliosis and physically feels their back straightening out, it is an amazing experience. Most importantly though, as healings and prophecy begin to flow, it is crucial we contend for love to remain the core reason and motivation for ministering in power. Galatians 5:6 tells us that faith works through love. Faith to demonstrate the power of God flows through love. The Kingdom we represent is founded in love and we are called to display it not only in word—but also in power (1 Corinthians 4:20). Signs and wonders are to point people toward a greater reality—the extravagant love of God. If we don’t equip our people to ground their walk in love, healing becomes just another fad that’s fun temporarily, but with no lasting affect.

2) Teach That The Anointing Is For Everyone
The level of anointing that many of the fathers and mothers of the faith operated in like John G. Lake, Oral Roberts, and Kathryn Kuhlman is available to all who are hungry for it. My senior pastor, Bill Johnson describes it this way: “God gives certain individuals a ‘spike’ in human experience, not so they can merely gather people around themselves to minister to them, but that they would be positioned with favor to equip the saints, so that their ‘high point’ becomes the new norm.” The anointing is available for everyone... young and old, extrovert and introvert, new and mature Christian. Our people must be given the opportunity to step out in the anointing. Whether it is having them pray for each other during a meeting, on their campuses, in their homes, or in their workplaces people need frequent opportunities to experience this reality.

3) Make room
At our church we make room for the supernatural. Every service we pray for the sick. Whether it is trained ministry team or the congregation praying for one another. It might be in the middle or at the end during the ministry time, but there will always be an occasion for those in need of a supernatural encounter to receive prayer. We have this same focus with the youth ministry and my leaders and I model it and do it with the youth. We regularly give part of every meeting for words of knowledge, healing prayer, prophetic opportunities and the like.

I would encourage you to reassess your agenda and rearrange your schedule to give them as many occasions as possible to lay hands on those in need of a physical healing. The more you make room for it in their lives, the more it will happen naturally elsewhere and become a lifestyle.

4) Develop a culture of risk
Among university students, I noticed a pattern inhibiting them from experiencing the breakthroughs in healing they desired. These students passionately believed in healing but were not seeing it regularly. “Pressing in” to see healing, they were not actually “stepping out” to pray for people. They were crying out for God to move—but they themselves were not moving! There was a sense that if they persevered long enough in prayer, an anointing would fall from Heaven and they would obtain results. While I absolutely believe we need to reach for a greater anointing, we all have an anointing to minister supernaturally that is available right now. But it requires us to position ourselves to take risks. When you are faithful with what you currently have, the Lord entrusts you with more.

As leaders we are responsible to nurture an environment within our ministry that both encourages and necessitates risk. In the midst of their insecurities our people thrive when leaders come alongside and call out the greatness in them as they take risks in the supernatural.

If we as leaders are going to expect the people we serve to take risks outside the walls of the church we must give them opportunities inside the church and inside community to develop. As they learn to take risks in a safe environment their confidence grows in public. For example, train your people in healing and the prophetic and then push them to give words of knowledge or prophesy over their peers. When someone needs healing, ask people to pray for him or her. They might be scared and nervous but stand with them, and champion their courage.

You will likely find that many are afraid to fail. This is one of the main reasons why many people never see the power of God demonstrated in their life. They are frozen by the thought, “What if I step out and nothing happens?” This fear must be overcome. Strengthen them to conquer this fear. Many times the results we are seeking are on the other side of persistence. I heard one time that John Wimber prayed for a 1,000 people before he saw his first breakthrough in healing. The more we take risks and God shows up in answer to our prayers, the more we will mature into expressing a supernatural lifestyle.

5) Use Testimonies of Power To Unlock Their Potential
This is a simple but profound principle. If your people are not living in the realm of the supernatural, continually bring before them stories of the miraculous being outworked. This communicates what is possible, and if God will use one person in that way He will use them as well. Christians instinctively know they are designed to demonstrate the Kingdom; therefore testimonies reach deep inside to awaken those areas in their life. If you don’t have any testimonies within your community, then borrow someone else’s. God is no respecter of persoNS

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.”

Faith is the mirror of the heart that reflects the realities of
an unseen world—the actual substance of His Kingdom.
Through the prayer of faith we are able to pull the reality of
His world into this one. That is the function of faith.

Faith has its anchor in the unseen realm. It lives from the invisible toward the visible. Faith actualizes what it realizes. The Scriptures contrast the life of faith with the limitations of natural sight. Faith provides eyes for the heart.

Jesus expects people to see from the heart. He once called a group of religious leaders hypocrites because they could discern the weather but couldn’t discern the times. It’s obvious why Jesus would prefer people to recognize the times (spiritual climate and seasons) over natural weather conditions, but it’s not quite so apparent why He would consider them hypocrites if they didn’t.

Many of us have thought that the ability to see into the spiritual realm is more the result of a special gift than an unused potential of everyone. I remind you that Jesus addresses this charge to the Pharisees and Sadducees. The very fact that they, of all people, were required to see is evidence that everyone has been given this ability. They became blind to His dominion because of their own corrupted hearts and were judged for their unfulfilled potential.

We are born again by grace through faith. The born again experience enables us to see from the heart. A heart that doesn’t see is a hard heart. Faith was never intended only to get us into the family. Rather, it is the nature of life in this family. Faith sees. It brings His Kingdom into focus. All of the Father’s resources, all of His benefits, are accessible through faith.

To encourage us in our capacity to see, Jesus gave specific instruction, “Seek first the kingdom of God….” Paul taught us, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” He also stated, “For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” The Bible instructs us to turn our attention toward the invisible. This theme is repeated enough in Scripture to make those of us bound by the logic of this Western culture quite nervous.

Herein lies the secret to the supernatural realm that we want restored to the Church. Jesus told us that He only did what He saw His Father do. Such an insight is vital for those who want more. The power of His actions, for instance, the mud in the eye of the blind, is rooted in His ability to see.


God is very committed to teaching us how to see. To make this possible He gave us the Holy Spirit as a tutor. The curriculum that He uses is quite varied. But the one class we all qualify for is the greatest of all Christian privileges—worship. Learning how to see is not the purpose for our worship, but it is a wonderful by-product.

Those who worship in spirit and truth, as mentioned in John 4:23-24, learn to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead. His realm is called the kingdom of God. The throne of God, which becomes established upon the praises of His people, is the center of that Kingdom. It’s in the environment of worship that we learn things that go way beyond what our intellect can grasp—and the greatest of these lessons is the value of His Presence. David was so affected by this that all his other exploits pale in comparison to his abandoned heart for God. We know that he learned to see into God’s realm because of statements like, “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.” The Presence of God affected his seeing. He would constantly practice recognizing the Presence of God. He saw God daily, not with the natural eyes, but with the eyes of faith. That priceless revelation was given to a worshiper.

The privilege of worship is a good beginning place for those unaccustomed to addressing some of these kinds of themes found in Scripture. It’s in that wonderful ministry that we can learn to pay attention to this God-given gift: the ability to see with the heart. As we learn to worship with purity of heart, our eyes will continue to open. And we can expect to see what He wants us to see.


The invisible realm is superior to the natural. The reality of that invisible world dominates the natural world we live in…both positively and negatively. Because the invisible is superior to the natural, faith is anchored in the unseen.

Faith lives within the revealed will of God. When I have misconceptions of who He is and what He is like, my faith is restricted by those misconceptions. For example, if I believe that God allows sickness in order to build character, I’ll not have confidence praying in most situations where healing is needed. But, if I believe that sickness is to the body what sin is to the soul, then no disease will intimidate me. Faith is much more free to develop when we truly see the heart of God as good.

The same misconceptions of God affect those who need to have faith for their own miracle. A woman who needed a miracle once told me that she felt God had allowed her sickness for a purpose. I told her that if I treated my children that way I’d be arrested for child abuse. She agreed and eventually allowed me to pray for her. After truth came into her heart, her healing came minutes later.

Unbelief is anchored in what is visible or reasonable apart from God. It honors the natural realm as superior to the invisible. The apostle Paul states that what you can see is temporal, and what you can’t see is eternal. Unbelief is faith in the inferior.

The natural realm is the anchor of unbelief. But that realm is not to be considered as evil. Rather the humble of heart recognize the hand of God through what is seen. God has created all things to speak of Him—whether it is rivers and trees, or angels and heaven. The natural realm carries the witness of His greatness…for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.


Most all of the people that I’ve known who are filled with unbelief have called themselves realists. This is an honest evaluation, but not one to be proud of. Those kinds of realists believe more in what is visible than they do in what they can’t see. Put another way, they believe the material world rules over the spiritual world.

Materialism has been thought simply to be the accumulation of goods. Although it includes that, it is much more. I can own nothing and still be materialistic. I can want nothing and be materialistic because materialism is faith in the natural as the superior reality.

We are a sensual society with a culture shaped by what is picked up through the senses. We’re trained to believe only in what we see. Real faith is not living in denial of the natural realm. If the doctor says you have a tumor, it’s silly to pretend that it’s not there. That’s not faith. However, faith is founded on a reality that is superior to that tumor. I can acknowledge the existence of a tumor and still have faith in the provision of His stripes for my healing…I was provisionally healed 2,000 years ago. It is the product of the kingdom of heaven—a superior reality. There are no tumors in heaven, and faith brings that reality into this one.

Would satan like to inflict heaven with cancer? Of course he would. But he has no dominion there. He only has dominion here when and where man has come into agreement.


Fear of appearing to live in denial is what keeps many from faith. Why is what anyone thinks so important to you that you’d not be willing to risk all to trust God? The fear of man is very strongly associated with unbelief. Conversely, the fear of God and faith are very closely related.

People of faith are also realists. They just have their foundation in a superior reality.

Unbelief is actually faith in something other than God. He is jealous over our hearts. The one whose primary trust is in another grieves the Holy Spirit.


Faith is born of the Spirit in the hearts of mankind. Faith is neither intellectual nor anti-intellectual. It is superior to the intellect. The Bible does not say, with the mind man believes! Through faith, man is able to come into agreement with the mind of God.

When we submit the things of God to the mind of man, unbelief and religion are the results. When we submit the mind of man to the things of God, we end up with faith and a renewed mind. The mind makes a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.

Much of the opposition to revival comes from soul-driven Christians. The apostle Paul calls them carnal. They have not learned how to be led by the Spirit. Anything that doesn’t make sense to their rational mind is automatically in conflict with Scripture. This way of thinking is accepted all throughout the Church in Western civilization, which should explain why our God so often looks just like us.

Most of the goals of the modern church can be accomplished without God. All we need is people, money, and a common objective. Determination can achieve great things. But success is not necessarily a sign that the goal was from God. Little exists in church life to ensure that we are being directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Returning to the ministry of Jesus is the only insurance we have of accomplishing such a goal.


The Holy Spirit lives in my spirit. That is the place of communion with God. As we learn to receive from our spirits we learn how to be Spirit led.

“By faith, we understand.” Faith is the foundation for all true intellectualism. When we learn to learn that way, we open ourselves up to grow in true faith because faith does not require understanding to function.

I’m sure that most of you have had this experience—you’ve been reading the Bible, and a verse jumps out at you. There is great excitement over this verse that seems to give so much life and encouragement to you. Yet initially you couldn’t teach or explain that verse if your life depended on it. What happened is this: Your spirit received the life-giving power of the word from the Holy Spirit. When we learn to receive from our spirit, our mind becomes the student and is therefore subject to the Holy Spirit. Through the process of revelation and experience our mind eventually obtains understanding. That is biblical learning—the spirit giving influence to the mind.


“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Faith is the mirror of the heart that reflects the realities of His world into ours. It is the substance of the unseen realm. This wonderful gift from God is the initial earthly manifestation of what exists in His Kingdom. It is a testimony of an invisible realm called the Kingdom of God. Through prayer we are able to pull that reality into this one—that is how faith functions.

If I go into the local pizza parlor and order a pizza, they will give me a number and a receipt. I am to place that number in a conspicuous place on the table. Someone may walk in off the street and come to my table and announce that they won’t give me any pizza. I’ll just point to the number and tell him, When pizza number 52 is done, it’s mine! That number is the substance of the pizza hoped for. If that guy tells me that my number isn’t any good, I’ll point to my receipt. It verifies the value of the number. When my pizza is done, the waiter will walk around looking for my number. How does the product of heaven know where to land? He looks for the substance…the number. If a question comes up over the validity of my number, my receipt, which is contained in the Bible, verifies my right to both the number and the pizza.

Heaven is not moved simply by the needs of man. It’s not that God doesn’t care. It was out of His great compassion that He sent Jesus. When God is moved by human need He seldom fixes the problem outright; instead, He provides Kingdom principles that when embraced correct the problems. If God was moved solely by human need then countries like India and Haiti would become the wealthiest nations in the world. It doesn’t work like that. Heaven is moved by faith. Faith is the currency of heaven.


“Faith comes by hearing….” It does not say that it comes from having heard. It is the listening heart, in the present tense, that is ready for heaven’s deposit of faith. Abraham heard God tell him to sacrifice his son Isaac. When he drew back the sword to slay his son the Lord spoke again. This time He told Abraham that the test was over and that he passed—he was not to sacrifice his son. Had he only done what God had said he would have killed his son. Hearing now is a key to faith.

The apostle Paul was driven by the command, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel….” However, when he was ready to preach the gospel in Asia, God said no. What God had said appeared to be in conflict with what God was saying. Paul then prepared to go to Bithynia. Again, God said no. Following this Paul had a dream of a man calling out to him from Macedonia. This was recognized as the will of God, and they went.

Even though we may know the will of God from Scripture, we still need the Holy Spirit to help us with the interpretation, application, and empowerment to perform His will.


The biblical command repeated most often is: Do not fear. Why? Fear attacks the foundation of our relationship with God…our faith. Fear is faith in the devil; it is also called unbelief. Jesus would ask His fearful disciples, “Why are you so faithless?” because fearfulness is the same as faithlessness. Fear and faith cannot coexist—they work against each other.

The devil is called Beelzebub, which means, lord of the flies. He and his hosts are attracted to decay. We once had a freezer in a building detached from our house. One Sunday we came home from church only to be hit with a wall of smell that is unfortunately hard to forget. I realized in an instant what had happened. Our freezer had died. I thought the stench I had smelled for days was because my boys forgot to take all of the trash to the dump. Instead it was the ever-rotting meat and bear hide in the freezer.

From the front seat of my car I looked at the window of the shop about 40 feet away. It was black with flies…a number that is still hard to imagine these many years later. The freezer was filled with all sorts of meat. Flies found a happy breeding ground in spoiled flesh and were multiplying in unbelievable numbers. Both the meat and the freezer were taken to the dump.

Issues such as bitterness, jealousy, and hatred qualify as the decay of the heart that invites the devil to come and give influence—yes, even to Christians. Remember Paul’s admonition to the church of Ephesus, “Neither give place to the devil.” Fear is also a decay of the heart. It attracts the demonic in the same way as bitterness and hatred. How did the flies know where my freezer was? Through the scent of decaying meat. Fear gives off a similar scent. Like faith, fear is substance in the spiritual realm. Satan has no power except through our agreement. Fear becomes our heart’s response when we come into agreement with his intimidating suggestions.


Many who have feared the excesses made by others in the name of faith have ironically embraced unbelief. Reaction to error usually produces error. Response to truth always wins out over those who react to error. Some people would have no belief system were it not for the error of others. Their thoughts and teachings are the antithesis of what others believe and practice. As a result those who strive for balance become anemic. The word balance has come to mean middle of the road—of no threat to people or the devil, with little risk, and above all…the best way to keep our nice image intact.

The Church warns its members about the great sin of presumption. God warns us of the sin of unbelief. Jesus didn’t say, When I return will I find people who are excessive and presumptuous? He was concerned about finding people with faith, the kind He displayed. While we often huddle in groups of like-minded people, those with faith blaze a trail that threatens all of our comfort zones. Faith offends the stationary.

People of great faith are hard to live with. Their reasoning is otherworldly. My grandfather, a pastor, sat under the ministry of several great men and women of God of the early 1900s. He used to tell me how not everyone liked Smith Wigglesworth. His faith made other people feel uncomfortable. We either become like them or we avoid them. We find their lifestyle either contagious or offensive with little neutral ground. Smith is well loved today…but it’s only because he’s dead. Israel loved their dead prophets too.

There’s something amazing about unbelief—it is able to fulfill its own expectations. Unbelief is safe because it takes no risk and almost always gets what it expects. Then, after a person gets the answer for their unbelief, they can say, I told you so.


My faith is not just an abiding faith; it is active. It is aggressive by nature. It has focus and purpose. Faith grabs hold of the reality of the Kingdom and forcefully and violently brings it into a collision with this natural one. An inferior kingdom cannot stand.

One of the more common things people tell me when I’m about to pray for their healing is, “I know God can do it.” So does the devil. At best that is hope…not faith. Faith knows He will.

For one who has faith, there is nothing impossible. There are no impossibilities when there is faith…and there are no exceptions.

Sheri, for instance, came forward for prayer after a wonderful meeting just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. She had suffered with Lupus for 24 years, the last four of which had gone into Pulmonary Hypertension. It had gotten so bad that she had to have an aluminum shunt placed into her heart. To this a pump was attached, which supplied the needed medication to keep her alive. Her doctor told her that without this medication she could live for only three minutes.

When she walked up to me, I actually felt a presence of something I had never felt in that measure before. It was faith. I actually stood back and stared at her for a few moments realizing that I was seeing something completely new for me. As she received prayer, she fell to the ground under the power of God. When she got up I asked her how she was doing. She described a heat that was on her chest. (Heat often accompanies God’s healing touch.) As she left I told her, your faith got you this one!

That was Saturday night. At 7 a.m. that following morning the Lord spoke to her saying she didn’t need the medication any more. So she removed it. She showed up 14 hours later giving testimony of God’s wonderful healing power.

She has since had the aluminum shunt removed—she doesn’t need it anymore!


“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Notice it does not say, faith comes from having heard. The whole nature of faith implies a relationship with God that is current. The emphasis is on hearing…in the now! In Genesis God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. As Abraham raised the knife to slay his son God spoke again. This time He told him not to slay his son, as he had passed the test of being willing to do anything for God. It’s a good thing that Abraham’s only connection with God was not just over what was said, but was based upon what He was saying!


What this world needs is for the Church to return to a show and tell message on the kingdom of God. They need an anchor that is greater than everything they can see. The world system has no answers to the world’s increasing problems—every solution is only temporary.

Dale came to my office to confess sin. He lived quite some distance from my city, but because he had deceived us out of some money, he felt the need to come and confess in person. After I expressed both God’s and my forgiveness, I asked him about his back. He had walked into my office with difficulty and was obviously in great pain. He lifted his shirt to show me two scars that ran on each side of the spine the full length. He had broken his back some years earlier and had recently been in a car accident that further aggravated his injury. He then told me that God would probably like to heal him, but that he just got in His way. I told him he wasn’t big enough. All I could picture was the greatness of God and the puny condition of man. He looked at me with a stunned look on his face. I went on to explain that God was really big and could pretty much do as He pleased. Although Dale didn’t move into great faith, he did begin to doubt his doubt. That was all it took. I laid hands on his back and invited the Holy Spirit to come and give His gift of healing. I then commanded it to be healed. He bent over, placing his hands flat on the floor, saying, “I can’t do that!” He proceeded to do it over and over again, each time declaring, “I can’t do that!” He left pain-free with full movement and a heart full of praise. This was a man who could barely walk only moments before.

Faith is not the absence of doubt; it’s the presence of belief. I may not always feel that I have great faith. But I can always obey, laying my hands on someone and praying. It’s a mistake for me to ever examine my faith. I seldom find it. It’s better for me to obey quickly. After it’s over I can look back and see that my obedience came from faith.


When the corporate level of faith grows, it has what I call a cluster bomb effect, where innocent bystanders get touched by the miracle-working power of God.

Francis is a woman who had esophagus cancer. One Sunday morning during worship she leaned over to her husband and said, “I was just healed!” She felt the fire of God touch her hands and concluded that it represented God’s healing touch. When she went to the doctor she told him of her experience. His response was, “This kind does not go away.” After examining her he stated, “Not only do you not have cancer, you have a new esophagus!”

Corporate faith pulls on heaven in marvelous ways. His world becomes manifest all around us.

Sharon had suffered an accident many years ago in which she had destroyed a tendon that ran down her leg. It left her with restricted movement and partial numbness in her foot. I was giving an altar call for people to get right with God during one of our Saturday night meetings. She began to make all kinds of noise. I stopped the altar call and asked her what happened. She told us of the tingling feeling that ran down her leg and the subsequent restoration of all movement and feeling to her foot. A creative miracle happened without anyone praying.

The crowd at this particular meeting was quite small. But power is not in the number of people in attendance. It’s the number of people in agreement. Exponential power is the product of the unity of faith.

In some meetings it’s easy to mistake enthusiasm for faith. In that setting I emphasize the use of testimonies to stir peoples’ hearts to believe for the impossible so He might invade.


Just as fear is a tangible element in the spirit world, so faith is tangible there. In the natural a loud voice may intimidate another man. But devils know the difference between the one who is truly bold and aggressive because of their faith, and the one who is simply covering his fears with aggressive behavior. Christians often use this tactic when casting out devils. Many of us have yelled threats, called on angels for help, promised to make it harder on the demons on Judgment Day, and other foolish things only to try and cover immature fear. Real faith is anchored in the invisible realm and is connected to the authority given in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The authority to cast out demons is found in rest. Rest is the climate that faith grows in. It comes out of the peace of God. And it is the Prince of Peace who will soon crush satan underneath our feet! What is restful for us is violent to the powers of hell. That is the violent nature of faith.

This is not to be a soulish attempt at self-confidence or self-determination. Instead it is a moving of the heart into a place of surrender…a place of rest. A surrendered heart is a heart of faith. And faith must be present to please God.


“Until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”

Two blind men who sat by the road called out to Jesus. People told them to be quiet. That only hardened their determination. They became more desperate and cried out all the louder. He called them forth and healed them saying, “The kingdom has come near you.” He attributed their miracle to their faith.

A woman who had hemorrhaged for 12 years pressed through a crowd. When she was finally able to touch the garment of Jesus, she was healed. He attributed it to her faith.

The stories of this kind are many, all with similar endings—they were healed or delivered because of their faith. Faith may quietly press in, or it may cry out very loudly, but it is always violent in the spirit world. It grabs hold of an invisible reality and won’t let go. Taking the Kingdom by faith is the violent act that is necessary to come into what God has made available.


An automobile may have several hundred horsepower. But the car will go nowhere until the clutch is released, connecting the power contained in the running motor and transferring that power to the wheels. So it is with faith. We have all the power of heaven behind us. But it is our faith that connects what is available to the circumstances at hand. Faith takes what is available and makes it actual.

It’s not illegal to try to grow in faith. It’s not wrong to seek for signs and the increase of miracles. Those are all within the rights of the believer. But learning how to pray is the task at hand. It is the only thing the disciples asked Jesus to teach them. And so we will examine His Model Prayer for insights on His view of prayer and the release of His dominion

Copyright Destiny Image Content taken from "When

January 13, 2010

10. The problem of sin
"Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity, apart from him." (162) The primary way to define sin is "the making of good things into ultimate things. It is seeking to establish a sense of self by making something else more central to your significance, purpose, and happiness than your relationship to God." (162)

"Every person is desperately seeking…'cosmic significance.'" "Our need for worth is so powerful that whatever we base our identity and value on we essentially 'deify.' We will look to it with all the passion and intensity of worship and devotion, even if we think of ourselves as highly irreligious." (163, citing Ernest Becker)

"…sin destroys us personally. Identity apart from God is inherently unstable. Without God, our sense of worth may seem solid on the surface, but it never is--it can desert you in a moment." (164) "There is no way to avoid this insecurity outside of God." "An identity not based on God also leads inevitably to deep forms of addiction."

"Building our lives on something besides God not only hurts us if we don't get the desires of our hearts, but also if we do." (166) "…if you don't live for Jesus you will live for something else." (172)
We need love in order to survive. We thrive when we are loved by others. Without love, we fall apart, we lose our way, we enter despair. In the words of Robert Palmer, we are truly addicted to love:
We are addicted to love, and it’s out of control.
We would give anything and everything to find it.
Here is where I begin to hold to a conspiracy theory.
There’s more going on here than meets the eye.
It’s as if we’ve been purposefully designed with a factory defect that keeps us searching… for love.[2]
McManus argues that the pursuit of love plays more of a role in human history than the survival of the fittest: “We cannot live unaffected by love. We are most alive when we find it, most devastated when we lose it, most empty when we give up on it, most inhumane when we betray it, and most passionate when we pursue it
What if our soul’s craving for love is an indication that we have been created by Love for Love. If, as the New Testament proclaims, God is love, than our search for love is, in actuality, a search for God. “If God is love, it is maddening when we are running from God and yet searching for love.”[5]
The truth that God is love – and consequently, that we have been made by Love for Love – is at the heart of the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. McManus argues that the reason God came in the flesh was for this very purpose – to fully manifest his love to others, something that can only be done personally: “If the message that God wants to get across to us is just about getting our beliefs right, then he didn’t need to come himself… There is only reason for God to come himself, because in issues of love, you just can’t have someone else stand in for you.”[6]
McManus’ final entry under “Intimacy” – “Entry #21” – is titled “Love is Not a Four-Letter Word.” The sole contents of this entry are the classic Beatles’ lyrics, “All you need is love” followed by the New Testament phrase, “God is Love.”
The overall impression you get from the book is that our big problem isn’t sin but a lack of self-actualisation
Deep in our souls there's a longing for God. Often it's almost silenced by the busyness of our days. But it's there. A quiet aching--an unrelenting desire. A soul craving that only God can satisfy.

But God is a stretch. Is God real? Why should I believe in God? Scientifically, he can’t be proven. Rationally, he can’t be boxed into a neat little passage. Not only that, but why believe in something I’ve never experienced? Why believe the word of people I don’t know if I trust?

Who did Jesus think he was? And why should I care?
Still have questions?: Ask us
Trust. We may not realize it, but what we believe to be true (and I’m not just talking about God) is directly tied to who we think we can trust. I doubt the truth in political ads because I have little trust for politicians. I know the motives of the credit card offers I often get, so I don’t believe that there are no hidden catches. Truth is tied to trust. We will not believe someone we do not trust, and we do not trust easily.
At least, we like to think so. But if we break it down, there are many things we trust without as much as a backward glance.
I trust the laws of the universe that say the sun will rise tomorrow. I trust that the ozone layer will not be depleted in the next half hour and I will continue to breathe without any problems. I trust that my pay cheque will be deposited in my account on Friday as my employers have promised. I trust that my chair will continue to hold me up, and I trust that my mom loves me even if she doesn’t say so every day.
So why don’t we trust God, or even the people who say they trust God?
For a lot of people, the answer is one word: Religion. Capital-R, organized, hierarchical, power-structure Religion.
If you stepped into a toxic religious environment, you were right to run, even if Jesus’ name was attached to it. And by the way, when you did that, you weren’t running farther from Jesus but closer to him. You just have to be careful not to come to the tragic conclusion that just because you’ve experienced something that was false and maybe even toxic, there is nothing that is good. Even when you find yourself frustrated, even when you feel that you’ve been duped or deceived, even when you think something is true and later discover it is false, you should take solace in this; something inside you knows the difference.
Something within you not only compels you to search for truth, but has a soul reaction to it. – Erwin McManus
Jesus and Religion aren’t synonymous. Jesus and God are. Jesus and Truth are. Jesus and Trust are.
I know I’m not pulling out big empirical proofs for God’s existence. I don’t intend on it, and neither does Erwin’s book. But what we are both saying, if you’re still with me, is this:
Humanity is a profound mystery. We share desires that are universal, yet unique to our species. Where do they come from? What is their origin? To find this out, we have to know ourselves. As we explore our souls, we find echoes and traces of something bigger than ourselves. We find traces of the source of these cravings for intimacy, destiny, meaning. To find these cravings fulfilled, we have to seek the Source. We have to find God.
If it’s a part of our make-up, it has to have a source. Like looking at the Mona Lisa makes us aware that there’s a painter, so our intricacies point to something bigger. And there’s a Source, then he will have the answers. He will know why and how and what it is exactly that we can’t understand, even after staring for hours at a canvas, even after days of solitude and soul-reflection.
The most life-changing and illuminating decision I ever made was to choose to trust God. To take as truth that Jesus is the Source of all that I am and that He has all the answers. Not only that, but that He is the answer.
I thought for a while that God could meet my needs and stop my soul cravings. Now I know that isn’t the case.
My soul doesn’t crave something from God; my soul craves God. And by the way, so does yours.
That’s why everything else will leave you unsatisfied in the end. But don’t let this frustrate you; just let it fuel you. – Erwin McManus
The desire for fulfillment is universal. From the moment we are born we recognize within ourselves an insatiable hunger for more of life. We try to grasp onto every experience, enjoy every relationship, and maximize every opportunity. Yet even as we strive to fill our lives to the brim with adventures, we are never fully satisfied.
You don’t have to look too far before you run into a myriad of quotes on the topic of living life to the fullest. Carpe Diem translates from the Latin into Seize the Day and appears everywhere from graduation presents to plaques. Living a full and satisfying life is at the top of our inborn priorities, and yet it seems to be a goal that is impossible to reach completely.
Insatiable by Design
It is not a matter of chance that humans not only seek to survive but actually thrive. This desire to live rather than simply exist is what separates us from animals, and it is one of the many ways in which God made human beings unique. We were created with the ability to feel emotions, and the hunger to grow and learn because we were created by God in his own image. God is the creator, source and definition of life and it is these characteristics of him that cause us to be creative and drive us to live enjoy and treasure life.
Where’s the Disconnect?
If we were created by God himself to live fulfilling lives, why do so many of us feel like we are running on empty? And why does it seem like most of the time religion hurts rather than helps the cause of a life fully lived? Though we were created by God to live lives that are rich and satisfying, they can only be made complete by a relationship with Him. The Bible says that, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
God gave us many things which are pleasurable and which he made to enjoy, but their sole purpose was only ever to point us towards him. Without this relationship, every experience is dulled by being limited to itself. It no longer satisfies its original purpose – to point us towards the Creator who imagined it.
He engrained in our hearts the knowledge of a reality much greater than our temporal existence. When we expect to live completely fulfilling lives without God, we expect something of life that it was never designed to do.
About Jesus
A life to the fullest is a life that is characterized by being in relationship with Jesus, because he himself is the definition of life. John 14:6 identifies Jesus as the life. It reads, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Christ is not only the life but he is also the truth and the way in which we can have a fulfilling relationship with God the way we were designed to. We cannot pick and choose which parts of Jesus we accept and which we don’t. Just in the same way that we cannot choose to be in relationship with certain parts of any individual, we cannot live with Christ fully if we do not accept him as the truth and the way, as well as the life.
What does Truth and Way mean exactly?
Accepting Christ as the truth and the way means appropriating Christ’s ways as our own ways, and recognizing him as the source of all truth. This is not a popular choice. Instead, we naturally prefer to have control of our lives and create our own definitions of right and wrong. This is evident in the prominence of brokenness in our world resulting from our poor choices. It is these choices that the bible defines as sin.
Sin translated from the Greek means “missing the mark.” God created us to have a full satisfying life filled with his presence. We miss the mark when we live any other way than in unity with God. However, we are unable to experience this unity because we have chosen another path rather than God’s.
Sin is not a recent phenomenon. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, they chose their own version of life and thus sinned. They traded in the truth of God, his perfect mark, and instead bought into a lie of independent living that could never fulfill its false promise of freedom.
As we see and experience now, this life apart from God turned out to be not life at all but instead brokenness. It is similar to that of a child who desires the freedom to run into traffic. In their eyes they are living more fully when they run freely, but the parent knows that this kind of “full living” results in death.
Romans 6:23 explains this in spiritual terns, “For the wages of sin is death.” The wage we deserve for our choice to live outside of God’s will for us is death: eternal separation from God and everything that is good. This is what is often understood as hell. However, these negative consequences affect our experience of life here on earth too, causing brokenness and in a very real sense spiritual death.
And so we have our world, a series of hit and runs, where we run freely to gain freedom, but end up paying with our entire lives. The life that Christ offers us is spiritual life. Christ’s life allows us to be re-united with God the Father who created our lives and desires to show us for what purposes he gave us these lives. It is here that we can leave behind empty lives of striving and instead experience satisfied lives that are full of purpose and meaning.
How does Christ restore our relationship with God?
As we’ve already discussed, our attempt to independently live from God results in the natural consequence of spiritual death. However, God desires life for us to such a great extent that he made a way through Christ for us to have that life restored. The second half of Romans 6:23 tells us that though “the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
John 3:16 is also another popularly quoted passage in the Bible, and it is so for a valid reason. It tells us that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus Christ, God’s Son was both fully God and fully human. He was able to live a life in perfect unity with God because he lived it in perfect obedience to him. Unjustly, Christ was crucified on the cross, a perfect God sacrificed to cover the wages of sin we deserve. At the same time Christ is able to welcome us into life because he himself did not stay surrendered to death. Three days after Christ died on the cross he rose again, and was resurrected to life.
What’s my part?
Christ’s death and life means we do not have to give up our physical lives, but it does mean we must make an active choice to surrender our right to live independent lives of sin, and instead accept and welcome God’s way of life.
This requires us to confess to God that we have chosen to live apart from him, and to commit to live a life dedicated to him. It is here that can accept Jesus’ gift of having lived and died on our behalf before God, and acknowledge that this is the only way our relationship with God can be made right. He must not only be the guide (or Lord) of our lives, but also our Saviour from a spiritual death and slavery to sin.

Does this mean I’ll always be happy?
Happiness is one of the many emotions that we have been given by God and we can accept it as one of his good gifts. However, like any other emotion it is dependent on circumstances and can quickly vanish. It fades when your child becomes sick, when the career of your dreams turns out to be the world’s worst job and when you age at an ever increasing speed.
God may not guarantee us constant happiness when we begin a relationship with him, but he does promise to be an ever flowing source of joy. Joy knows and reminds us that our security is in our restored relationship with God and the eternal life he has promised us. It comes with knowing God and is based on his faithfulness.
There comes a choice:
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 holds a challenge that each of us must respond to, “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 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life.”

Where are you today? Are you ready to allow God to be your life?
If you are, the final step is a prayer asking God to come into your life and make you the person he wants you to be. Prayer is just talking to God. There is no right or wrong way to do it. God is not concerned about the words that you choose. He cares about the state of your heart. He hears you, the words aren’t that important. This is a suggested prayer you might want to use if you’d like to begin a relationship with God.
Jesus, I want to know you personally. I know that I am a sinner and that nothing I could do can make up for that. Thank you for dying in my place and paying the price for my sin. I know that my sin doesn’t separate me from God anymore. Thank you for forgiving me. I know that you love me and that I will spend eternity with you. I want you to be my Savior. Come into my life and take control, make me the person you want me to be.
This craving for love and intimacy begins in us when we are just young children. When my daughter was young, I read her fairy tales. Her favorite part was always when the prince and princess fell in love. She believed someday a prince would come into her life. For many of us, even as adults, we still believe as she did.
What we are often unaware of is that we are created for intimacy. We are deeply relational and desire to be loved and accepted. This love that we try to find and then attain throughout our lives, is actually impossible in and of ourselves. People will always let us down. Even those who love us most will not be able to live up to our expectations.
We crave to be filled with the sense of satisfaction and confidence, which often results when we are in intimate relationships. Some strive to fill that with sex and love and are often left feeling empty and broken. It’s possible we are looking in the wrong place to fill that void. Our deepest craving for intimacy is actually spiritual. As we discover a deep and meaningful relationship with God, our core craving becomes satisfied giving us a foundation to work through the sometimes-rocky relationships we find ourselves in. If you find yourself in a painful place in your relationship and need someone to talk to, we are here and would love to talk to you
Everyone has “cravings” … desires and needs that must be fulfilled. If they aren’t, then our lives themselves seem unfulfilled. It seems that no matter how much we have, or experience, we always want more.
Maybe these cravings, which can’t be satisfied adequately by any of the things in this world, aren’t there by accident. Maybe they are there to encourage us to look for something even greater.
read a book called Soul Cravings by Erwin McManus. These are my thoughts (McManus’ quotes are in italics).
It’s hard to define the things inside my heart. I wonder if I’m the only one who feels what I feel and wants what I want. Am I the same as others in this mass of humanity, or am I alone in my experiences?
Maybe you sometimes feel the same way.
In high school, I had a vague notion that when I graduated I would take off for a couple days, go somewhere in the wild, set up a tent, and spend three days with myself. My hope was that at the end of the time, with nothing but myself and some food, I would have a better idea of who I am and what I want, and where to head with my life.
It’s six years later, and I would still like a getaway like that. Even to myself, I’m a mystery.

Love For a Lifetime: How I got past the parental rejection of my childhood
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I know I want things, but I can’t always recognize what they are. Sometimes I hear people (especially musicians) articulate some profound thought or experience that resonates with my heart, and I wonder, “How do they know? Are we that much the same?”
Some themes in life are reoccurring. In many different ways, different places and different voices, human desires are articulated.
o Intimacy
o Destiny
o Meaning
It seems that these are integral parts of the human make-up, but why? What makes us long for these things?
Given all the problems love can create, why do we keep longing for it? How many thousands of years will it take for us to learn? How many Romeos and Juliets need to lie dead on the floor before we’re willing to give up this perverse addiction? Oh, I know they weren’t real, but then again, is love? If evolution is our preferred understanding of the human story, why can’t we evolve ourselves out of this primal Achilles’ heel we know as love? And don’t give me this thing about the propagation of the species. Love isn’t necessary for reproduction – just sex is. All you need is attraction, not emotion…If intimacy is only about attraction, we could just keep lust and dispense with love. But it just won’t go away. – Erwin McManus
When I first read this, I stopped and went through it again. And then a third time. Yeah. Why do we crave love? Why do I want to be known so deeply, to know someone and trust them and be trustworthy?
It is not enough for me to be kind of cool, or for me to have had a moment or two of meaningful connection. I want it to go on. I stress over relational disharmony, I crave connection – not just a physical connection, but a deep emotional bond of being known and being wanted.
All of us long to become something more than we are. We are driven to achieve, moved to accomplish, fueled by ambition. It burns hotter in some than in others, but it is within all of us. We’re all searching for our unique purpose, our divine destiny, or simply a sense of significance or some measure of success…all of us are united in our desperate attempt to make a future for ourselves. We all desperately want to achieve something, to accomplish something; we just don’t know what. Worse than that, we don’t even understand why. Yet that doesn’t stop us from searching. – Erwin McManus
It’s true, I think to myself. I do want to achieve. I don’t know what exactly, but something. I don’t want to sit here in anonymity for the rest of my life. But why? I could get by, I’m sure. Why wouldn’t that be enough?
Have you ever thought about this? What drives us to do, to accomplish? Why do we want to make the world a better place – for myself at least, if not for others? Where does our creative urge come from, and why are we not content to be spoon-fed for the rest of our lives?
This may be a jump for some, but Erwin and I both think it has to do with God. Not God who sits in a palace and points his lightning-trident at anyone he catches doing wrong, but God who loves us and created us with purpose and creativity. God who created us with the hope that we would do good and not harm.
Crave Intimacy?
These are a few excerpts from Erwin McManus’ book Soul Cravings. The human condition is fascinating, our desire to be known and loved. We are left asking ourselves: Why can’t we evolve past our need to be loved?
“Given all the problems love can create, why do we keep longing for it? How many thousands of years will it take for us to learn? How many Romeos and Juliets need to lie dead on the floor before we’re willing to give up on this perverse addiction? Oh, I know they weren’t real, but then again, is love? If evolution is our preferred understanding of the human story, why can’t we evolve ourselves out of this primal Achilles’ heel we know as love? And don’t give me this thing about the propagation of the species. Love isn’t necessary for reproduction – just sex is. All you need is attraction, not emotion… If intimacy is only about attraction, we could just keep lust and dispense with love. But it won’t go away… It seems humiliating to say it, but we need to be loved.”
~ Erwin McManus, Soul Cravings, Entry 2 ~
“We will reshape, redesign, and remake ourselves to be a part of a broader community. We will go to great lengths and great pains to become insiders. At one end of the spectrum, we will pierce ourselves, tattoo ourselves, and mutilate ourselves to be our unique selves, who look like a lot of other people. At the other end of the spectrum, we will use Botox, collagen, and plastic surgery to become what we hope other people will love. We will go through hell weeks, allow ourselves to be demeaned during hazing, and even commit unimaginable acts of violence to make it through an initiation just so that we can belong, so that we can be apart of a tribe. In the end we are all tribal. We are created by a relational God for relationship. God made us for relationships, and we only begin to experience life fully when we move toward healthy relationships and healthy community. Your soul will never be satisfied with anything less. When we are estranged from God, we drift from love. Without God we lose our source of love but not our need for love
I am the truth
Do you crave meaning?
In this day and age, “meaning” is a tricky concept. The way Erwin McManus’ book Soul Cravings talks about it, it’s about significance, truth and trust. Those three things are closely entwined…and we can’t deny that truth and trust matter. They matter immensely. So what does Erwin have to say about truth?
“I didn’t need everything fixed. I certainly didn’t need all the answers. I just needed to know the truth. We underestimate the healing power of truth. We also underestimate how desperately our souls long for truth. Our souls crave truth. We want to know the truth. We need to know the truth. The human spirit isn’t designed to live a lie. Ironically, the only reason we are capable of lying is that we are able to know the truth. Even without any external guidelines or boundaries, we know a lie when we tell one. We have a filter within us that separates truth from falsehood. We assume this is simply a part of being human, but we shouldn’t underestimate what this says about us as a species… Not only is it unhealthy to be lied to, but it is corrosive to our souls to lie and deceive others. We weren’t designed to live a lie or even to tell one. Even if you don’t believe in God, don’t believe in objective truth, and don’t believe in any moral absolutes, you still have to grapple with the unusual human phenomenon that we become psychologically and relationally sick when we live a lie and we find an environment of truthfulness, even when the truth is more painful than the lie.”
~ Erwin McManus, Soul Cravings, Entry 2 ~
“Our souls crave to know the truth, and we need to pursue it at all cost. Whatever the implication, whatever it takes us, we must search for meaning, strive for understanding, struggle to make sense of life, never give up on the belief that the truth is out there.”
~ Erwin McManus, Soul Cravings, Entry 2 ~
“Jesus didn’t come advocating a better idea. While history is filled with great teachers, being the best of them was never Jesus’ goal or ambition. He never said to his disciples, “This is the truth. Follow it.” Instead, he said something far more compelling. Jesus’ claim was nothing less than “I am the truth.” Jesus moves truth from impersonal to personal. He moved it from rational to relational. He was telling his disciples the truth isn’t an answer; it is a person. You don’t come to know the truth as a result of an academic pursuit. You might discover an endless number of things that are true along the way, but this is not the truth your soul is craving. No matter how many true things you come to know, they will never leave you satisfied until you find your way to the One who is the very source of truth.”
~Erwin McManus, Soul Cravings, Entry 17 ~
Crave Destiny?
These two quotes capture what Erwin is trying to get us to understand about our souls and our futures.
“Why are we most alive when we are pursuing a great dream? Why is it that we need a reason to live? Why do we need to feel that we are in some way unique? Why is it that when we conclude our lives don’t matter, we lose the will to live? The maddening reality is that each and every one of us has been created with a soul craving to become – to become something – something better, something different, something special, something unique, something admired, something valued, something more than we are… We not only assume the future and believe in the future, but we’re all searching for a future.”
~ Erwin McManus, Soul Cravings, Entry 11 ~
“You can choose to believe that your spirit has lived a thousand times before and that in a previous life you were a bug – or even worse than that, it’s the life to come. Or you can choose to believe that you are the result of some kind of genetic mutation that arbitrarily happened through the evolutionary process. But remember this, what can settle your mind will not settle your soul. It will stir it up. You are a unique creation made by God to live and not simply exist. Your soul longs to find its ultimate purpose. It will not rest until you do. Your soul craves destiny. Your soul desires. It always will. You were created as a creative being. You were made to grow, to dream, to achieve. Your soul is letting you know you come from God and your life is intended to be God-sized and God-inspired.”
~ Erwin McManus, Soul Cravings, Entry 23 ~
Is it true that we were created with purpose? Why do we long to achieve? What makes us want to become more than we are right now?
McManus wants readers to come to know themselves and meet God on the journey. "This thing that haunts you, that never seems satisfied, the cravings in your soul that you are unable to satiate through all the success that the world can bring—this is your soul screaming for God."

shows readers how our need for intimacy, meaning, and destiny point to the existence of God and our need to connect with Him. This book will deeply stir readers to consider and chase after the spiritual implications of their souls' deepest longings.

f there is an answer to be found in SOUL CRAVINGS, it is this: our cravings begin and end with God. Throughout, McManus reminds us that, ultimately, whatever it is that we crave most --- for instance, love --- is already available to us in our relationship with God. And trying to fill those cravings with anything other than God is not only futile but can also be destructive. He writes: "No matter what we become, it is never enough. Our souls always crave more. It's not because they're insatiable, but because we know there's more to be had." That "more" is a life of intimacy, destiny and meaning --- all of which can only be found in a life with God
Time after time, Keller shows us that the answer to the slavery that idols bring - is not simply to love these good things less - but to love Christ more, and throughout this short book, Keller's insightful exploration of the gospel through some of the familiar stories of the bible, helps and encourages us to do this.

have been reading this book in pieces as I have been preaching on idolatry this autumn. I've referenced it numerous times. A few quotes I've used...
We never imagine that getting our heart's deepest desires might be the worst thing that can ever happen to us. (p 1)
If we are not willing to hurt our career in order to do God's will, our job will become a counterfeit god. (p 14)
The idol of success cannot be just expelled, it must be replaced. The human heart's desire for a particular valuable object may be conquered, but its need to have some such object is unconquerable. (p 93)
The normal response to our sense of powerlessness is to deny it, to find people to dominate and control in order to live in that denial. (p 124-125)
I have to be honest...Counterfeit Gods has brought some serious conviction in my heart. A part of it is the sermons I've prepared with the book as a foundational resource (though I haven't preached through this book). But mostly it's been the words of Keller, who knows how to take biblical truth and deliver it to the heart in practical and profound ways. My idols have been exposed.
Counterfeit Gods will be sitting on our church book table, given to those in leadership, and recommended to any number of people. It will have great benefit for both Christians and non-Christians. I can't reco
Keller is a good student not only of Scripture but of culture as well and he understands that we “civilized” people are quick to try and distance ourselves from idolatry, conjuring up images of stone and wooden figures that we literally bow before. So he wastes no time defining idolatry:
It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.” (xvii)
Keller presses this point until it is (rightfully) uncomfortable, noting that we have a tendency to turn good things life into the best things, making idols out of not only obvious things like money, sex and power, but also less obvious things like family and romantic love. Nearly anything can function as an idol in our lives. This is why Martin Luther insisted that our breaking any of the last 9 Commandments is because we already broke the first. Keller paraphrases Luther:
“We never break the other commandments without breaking the first one. Why do we fail to love or keep promises or live unselfishly? Of course, the general answer is ‘because we are weak and sinful,’ but the specific answer in any actual circumstance is that there is something you feel you must have to be happy, something that is more important to your heart than God himself. We would not lie unless we first had made something-human approval, reputation, power over others, financial advantage-more important and valuable to our hearts than the grace and favor of God. The secret to change is identify and dismantle the counterfeit gods of your heart (166)”.
idols cannot simply be removed. They must be replaced (155).”
The antidote, of course, is Jesus:
“Jesus must become more beautiful to your imagination, more attractive to your heart, than your idol…If you uproot the idol and fail to ‘plant’ the love of Christ in its place, the idol will grow back (172).”
Keller masterfully but mercifully demonstrates time and time again how Jesus is the only real cure for our idolatry. He leaves us no doubt that we are all idolaters, but then gives “the only Hope that matters.”
This is a valuable book and a must-read for every believer.
The New York Times bestselling author of The Reason for God and The Prodigal God and a nationally renowned minister, Timothy Keller exposes the error of making good things "ultimate" in his latest book, and shows readers a new path toward a hope that lasts.

Success, true love, and the life you’ve always wanted. Many of us placed our faith in these things, believing they held the key to happiness, but with a sneaking suspicion they might not deliver. The recent economic meltdown has cast a harsh new light on these pursuits. In a matter of months, fortunes, marriages, careers, and a secure retirement have disappeared for millions of people. No wonder so many of us feel lost, alone, disenchanted, and resentful. But the truth is that we made lesser gods of these good things -gods that can’t give us what we really need. There is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings- and now is the perfect time to meet him again, or for the first time.

The Bible tells us that the human heart is an "idol- factory," taking good things and making them into idols that drive us. In Counterfeit Gods, Keller applies his trademark approach to show us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the unvarnished truth about societal ideals and our own hearts. This powerful message will cement Keller’s reputation as a critical thinker and pastor, and comes at a crucial time-for both the faithful and the skeptical.
Author Bio
Timothy Keller opened Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan in 1989, and now ministers to more than 9,000 regular Sunday attendees, plus the members of fifty "church plants" nationwide. He is also the author of The Prodigal God and the New York Times bestseller The Reason for God.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Idol Factory...ix
ONE All You’ve Ever Wanted...1
TWO Love Is Not All You Need...22
THREE Money Changes Everything...48
FOUR The Seduction of Success...72
FIVE The Power and the Glory...97
SIX The Hidden Idols in Our Lives...126
SEVEN The End of Counterfeit Gods...154
Epilogue: Finding and Replacing Your Idols...165
Publisher's Weekly
Author of The Reason for God and senior pastor of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Keller asserts that the chaos of the global financial crisis offers a rare opportunity, as individuals and as a society, to discern the “glittering gods” that enslave us. “The only way to free ourselves from the destructive influence of counterfeit gods is to turn back to the true one,” writes Keller, mercilessly dissecting the things he believes keep men and women from acknowledging their sin and God’s love, grace and centrality. Shadowed by the pastor’s austere Reformed vision of the depth and shape-shifting forms of human depravity, this sometimes bleak series of linked meditations weaves the spiritual journeys of biblical figures like the Old Testament soldier Naaman with insights from more modern figures, including 19th-century industrialist Andrew Carnegie, contemporary author Malcolm Gladwell and retired tennis star Chris Evert. A work of recession spirituality and cultural criticism, this volume will appeal to those who share Keller’s conviction that the journey away from idolatry and toward God can sometimes take a lifetime. (Oct. 20) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Customer Reviews

Keller invites us to explore our deepest longings and motivations and to wean us off the gods that we pursue, by directing us to Jesus Christ. Although this book is, in many ways, a challenging, even a painful book to read as it lays bear the longings of our own hearts, it offers fresh hope for those of us whose gods have let us down.

In an accessible and masterful way, Keller reveals how we can take good things (career, love, family, material things) and make them "ultimate" things - seeking in them a security and fulfillment that are are never unable to deliver. He is also realistic about the hold that our idols have upon us, recognising that only a living encounter with God can deal with their stubbornness, as Christ himself becomes what it ultimate in our lives. Time after time, Keller shows us that the answer to the slavery that idols bring - is not simply to love these good things less - but to love Christ more, and throughout this short book, Keller's insightful exploration of the gospel through some of the familiar stories of the bible, helps and encourages us to do this.

I can't recommend this book too highly and I'm itching to read it with others and to allow its message and insights to work more deeply in me.

January 12, 2010

cs lewis quotes

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: friendship 8,174 people liked it

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: christianity, religion, sun 2,773 people liked it

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."
— C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)
tags: love 1,782 people liked it

"(The Christian) does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: christianity, god, religion 1,240 people liked it

"If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: god, world 1,142 people liked it

"A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: children-s, entertainment, stories 963 people liked it

"No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: age, books, reading 826 people liked it

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."
— C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)
tags: god, house, religion 787 people liked it

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. "
— C.S. Lewis
tags: friendship, inspirational 705 people liked it

"We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: god 616 people liked it

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word "darkness" on the walls of his cell."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: god, religion 541 people liked it

"God can't give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: god, happiness, religion 528 people liked it

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: age, dreams, goals 486 people liked it

"I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia."
— C.S. Lewis (The Silver Chair)
tags: hell, love, safe 458 people liked it

"Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning..."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: atheism, religion 392 people liked it

"It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: books, old-books, reading 360 people liked it

"The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts."
— C.S. Lewis

I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: inspirational, prayer 308 people liked it

"Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: love 297 people liked it

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: faith, god, jesus 283 people liked it

"Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: god, pain 267 people liked it

"I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: books, reading 261 people liked it

"The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only - and that is to support the ultimate career. "
— C.S. Lewis
tags: family 249 people liked it

"It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
— C.S. Lewis (Weight of Glory and Other Addresses)
tags: christianity 249 people liked it

"Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again."
— C.S. Lewis (The World's Last Night: And Other Essays)
tags: age, fairy-tales 232 people liked it

"Why love if losing hurts so much? We love to know that we are not alone."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: alone, love 231 people liked it

"If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: truth 204 people liked it

"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."
— C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)
tags: art, books 203 people liked it

"He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: god, religion 194 people liked it

"Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed."
— C.S. Lewis (The Magician's Nephew)
tags: stupid 183 people liked it

"There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."
— C.S. Lewis (The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader")
tags: first-sentence 179 people liked it

"Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: eating, reading 171 people liked it

"You can make anything by writing."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: writing 164 people liked it

"She's the sort of woman who lives for others - you can tell the others by their hunted expression."
— C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)
tags: humor, women, zealousness 156 people liked it

"There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened. "
— C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)
tags: free-will, hell 148 people liked it

"It isn't Narnia, you know," sobbed Lucy. "It's you. We shan't meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?"
"But you shall meet me, dear one," said Aslan.
"Are -are you there too, Sir?" said Edmund.
"I am," said Aslan. "But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there."
— C.S. Lewis (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)
tags: aslan, narnia 137 people liked it

"Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil."
— C.S. Lewis

Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: miracles 132 people liked it

"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: christianity, forgiveness, god 123 people liked it

"It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of His presence."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: god, religion 121 people liked it

"Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, do you learn."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: education, experience, inspirational 114 people liked it

"It is a good rule . . . to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: books, wisdom 111 people liked it

"Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have. So let us leave behind all these boys' philosophies--these over simple answers. The problem is not simple and the answer is not going to be simple either."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: christianity 100 people liked it

"You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: death, life, truth 100 people liked it

"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."
— C.S. Lewis
95 people liked it

"Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance, the only thing it cannot be is moderately important."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: christianity, religious 94 people liked it

"I am a product [...of] endless books. My father bought all the books he read and never got rid of any of them. There were books in the study, books in the drawing room, books in the cloakroom, books (two deep) in the great bookcase on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled as high as my shoulder in the cistern attic, books of all kinds reflecting every transient stage of my parents' interest, books readable and unreadable, books suitable for a child and books most emphatically not. Nothing was forbidden me. In the seemingly endless rainy afternoons I took volume after volume from the shelves. I had always the same certainty of finding a book that was new to me as a man who walks into a field has of finding a new blade of grass."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: books 91 people liked it

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
— C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)
tags: christianity, faith 87 people liked it

"Nothing is yet in its true form."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: truth 86 people liked it

"You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve," said Aslan. "And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content."
— C.S. Lewis (Prince Caspian)
tags: inspirational 85 people liked it

"I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?"
— C.S. Lewis
84 people liked it

"Don't say it was delightful; make us say delightful when we've read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers Please will you do the job for me."
— C.S. Lewis
tags: words, writing 83 people liked it

"A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is... A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in."
— C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)
tags: christianity, temptation 79 people liked it

"One word, Ma'am," he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. "One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one more thing to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's a small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say."
— C.S. Lewis (The Silver Chair)
tags: puddleglum 78 people liked it

"That's the worst of girls," said Edmund to Peter and the Dwarf. "They never can carry a map in their heads."
"That's because our heads have something inside them," said Lucy."
— C.S. Lewis (Prince Caspian)
77 people liked it

"’You do not yet look as happy as I mean you to be.’
Lucy said, ‘We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often.’
‘No fear of that,’ said Aslan. ‘Have you not guessed?’
Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them.
‘There was a real railway accident,’ said Aslan softly. ‘Your father and mother and all of you are – as you used to call it in the Shadowlands – dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is over: this is the morning.’
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has ever read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."
— C.S. Lewis (The Last Battle)
tags: happy 74 people liked it

"A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you."
— C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

john piper quotes

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him"
— John Piper
tags: christian, living, theology 53 people liked it

"Grace is the pleasure of God to magnify the worth of God by giving sinners the right and power to delight in God without obscuring the glory of God."
— John Piper
tags: religion 33 people liked it

"The wisdom of God devised a way for the love of God to deliver sinners from the wrath of God while not compromising the righteousness of God."
— John Piper (Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist)
tags: christianity 25 people liked it

"If you don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great."
— John Piper (A Hunger for God)
tags: desire, hunger 19 people liked it

"Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't."
— John Piper
tags: missions, reformed, theology 16 people liked it

"Fight for us, O God, that we not drift numb and blind and foolish into vain and empty excitements. Life is too short, too precious, too painful to waste on worldly bubbles that burst. Heaven is too great, hell is too horrible, eternity is too long that we should putter around on the porch of eternity."
— John Piper
tags: reformed, theology 13 people liked it

"It is better to lose your life than to waste it."
— John Piper
tags: reformed, theology 12 people liked it

"Death is like my car. It takes me where I want to go."
— John Piper
11 people liked it

"Do you feel loved by God because you believe he makes much of you, or because you believe he frees you and empowers you to enjoy making much of him?"
— John Piper
tags: reformed, theology 11 people liked it

"Christ did not die to forgive sinners who go on treasuring anything above seeing and savoring God. And people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God. It's a way of overcoming every obstacle to everlasting joy in God. If we don't want God above all things, we have not been converted by the gospel."
— John Piper (God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself)
tags: reformed, theology 11 people liked it

"If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full."
— John Piper (Don't Waste Your Life Study Guide)
tags: faith 11 people liked it

"The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie.
It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for
heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not
the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we
drink in every night."
— John Piper (A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer)
tags: desire, fasting, god, nibbling 9 people liked it

""The strength of patience hangs on our capacity to believe that God is up to something good for us in all our delays and detours.""
— John Piper (Battling Unbelief: Defeating Sin with Superior Pleasure)
8 people liked it

"Suffering in the path of Christian obedience, with joy - because the steadfast love of the Lord is better than life (Psalm 63:3) - is the clearest display of the worth of God in our lives. Therefore, faith-filled suffering is essential in this world for the most intense, authentic worship. When we are most satisfied with God in suffering, he will be most glorified in us in worship. Our problem is not styles of music. Our problem is styles of life. When we embrace more affliction for the worth of Christ, there will be more fruit in the worship of Christ.

— John Piper (Tested by Fire)
tags: suffering 7 people liked it

"Reading is more important to me than eating."
— John Piper
7 people liked it

""All of history is moving toward one great goal, the white-hot worship of God and His Son among all the peoples of the earth. Missions is not that goal. It is the means. And for that reason it is the second greatest human activity in the world.""
— John Piper
6 people liked it

"Not to abide in Jesus’ love would mean that we stop believing that we are loved by Jesus. We look at our circumstances - perhaps persecution or disease or abandonment - and we conclude that we are not loved by Jesus anymore. That’s the opposite of abiding in the love of Jesus. So abiding in his love means continuing to believe, moment by moment, that we are loved."
— John Piper (What Jesus Demands from the World)
5 people liked it

"What is the essence of evil? It is forsaking a living fountain for broken cisterns. God gets derision and we get death. They are one: choosing sugarcoated misery we mock the lifegiving God. It was meant to be another way: God's glory exalted in our everlasting joy.
— John Piper
5 people liked it

"The critical question for our generation—and for every generation—
is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the
friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and
all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties
you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no
human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with
heaven, if Christ were not there? "
— John Piper (God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself)
tags: heaven 5 people liked it

"”As soon as we discover we have a problem, God has already been working on it and the solution is on the way…If we believe in the God of Romans 8:28, we will always remember that by the time we know a problem exists, God has already been working on it and his solution is on the way.”"
— John Piper (Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life)
3 people liked it

The ultimate good of the gospel is seeing and savoring the beauty and value of God. God’s wrath and our sin obstruct that vision and that pleasure. You can’t see and savor God as supremely satisfying while you are full of rebellion against Him and He is full of wrath against you. The removal of this wrath and this rebellion is what the gospel is for. The ultimate aim of the gospel is the display of God’s glory and the removal of every obstacle to our seeing it and savoring it as our highest treasure. “Behold Your God!” is the most gracious command and the best gift of the gospel. If we do not see Him and savor Him as our greatest fortune, we have not obeyed or believed the gospel."
— John Piper (God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself)
tags: gospel-centred 3 people liked it

"Woe to us if we get our satisfaction from the food in the kitchen and the TV in the den and the sex in the bedroom with an occasional tribute to the cement blocks in the basement! God wills to be displayed and known and loved and cherished and worshiped."
— John Piper
tags: reformed, theology 3 people liked it

"Ignatius, when he heard the clock strike, would say, "Now I have another hour to answer for." (Eph. 5:16)"
— John Piper
3 people liked it

". . . the only legitimate reason that kingship is not attractive to us is because in this age and this world the only kings available are finite and sinful. Listen to C. S. Lewis describe why he believes in democracy:

A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. . . I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost, much less a nation. . . . The real reason for democracy is . . . Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.1

If there could be a king who is not limited in his wisdom and power and goodness and love for his subjects, then monarchy would be the best of all governments. If such a ruler could ever rise in the world—with no weakness, no folly, no sin—then no wise and humble person would ever want democracy again.

The question is not whether God broke into the universe as a king. He did. The question is: What kind of king is he? What difference would his kingship make for you?

[from: ]"
— John Piper
tags: democracy, god, kingship 2 people liked it

"Your daddy is standing in a swimming pool out a little bit from the edge. You are, let’s say, three years old and standing on the edge of the pool. Daddy holds out his arms to you and says, “Jump, I’ll catch you. I promise.” Now, how do you make your daddy look good at that moment? Answer: trust him and jump. Have faith in him and jump. That makes him look strong and wise and loving. But if you won’t jump, if you shake your head and run away from the edge, you make your daddy look bad. It looks like you are saying, “he can’t catch me” or “he won’t catch me” or “it’s not a good idea to do what he tells me to do.” And all three of those make your dad look bad.

But you don’t want to make God look bad. So you trust him. Then you make him look good–which he really is. And that is what we mean when we say, “Faith glorifies God” or “Faith gives God glory.” It makes him look as good as he really is. So trusting God is really important.

And the harder it seems for him to fulfill his promise, the better he looks when you trust him. Suppose that you are at the deep end of a pool by the diving board. You are four years old and can’t swim, and your daddy is at the other end of the pool. Suddenly a big, mean dog crawls under the fence and shows his teeth and growls at you and starts coming toward you to bite you. You crawl up on the diving board and walk toward the end to get away from him. The dog puts his front paws up on the diving board. Just then, your daddy sees what’s happening and calls out, “Johnny, jump in the water. I’ll get you.”

Now, you have never jumped from one meter high and you can’t swim and your daddy is not underneath you and this water is way over your head. How do you make your daddy look good in that moment? You jump. And almost as soon as you hit the water, you feel his hands under your arms and he treads water holding you safely while someone chases the dog away. Then he takes you to the side of the pool.

We give glory to God when we trust him to do what he has promised to do–especially when all human possibilities are exhausted. Faith glorifies God. That is why God planned for faith to be the way we are justified."
— John Piper
tags: inspirational 2 people liked it

"One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time."
— John Piper
2 people liked it

"heaven is a place of unparalleled and indescribable joy"
— John Piper
2 people liked it

"The charge of blasphemy is loaded. The point is to pack a wallop behind the charge that in our worship services God simply doesn't come through for who he is. He is unwittingly belittled. For those who are stunned by the indescribable magnitude of what God has made, not to mention the infinite greatness of the One who made it, the steady diet on Sunday morning of practical how-to's and psychological soothing and relational therapy and tactical planning seem dramatically out of touch with Reality - the God of overwhelming greatness."
— John Piper (Let the Nations Be Glad! 2d ed.)
1 person liked it

"The logic of the Bible says: Act according to God's "will of command," not according to his "will of decree." God's "will of decree" is whatever comes to pass. "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that" (James 4:15). God's "will of decree" ordained that his Son be betrayed (Luke 22:22), ridiculed (Isaiah 53:3), mocked (Luke 18:32), flogged (Matthew 20:19), forsaken (Matthew 26:31), pierced (John 19:37), and killed (Mark 9:31). But the Bible teaches us plainly that we should not betray, ridicule, mock, flog, forsake, pierce, or kill innocent people. That is God's "will of command." We do not look at the death of Jesus, clearly willed by God, and conclude that killing Jesus is good and that we should join the mockers."
— John Piper (Desiring God)
tags: bible-logic, christian-living, god, sovereinity 1 person liked it

"We can say that true gratitude does not give rise to the debtor's ethic because it gives rise to faith in future grace. With true gratitude there is such a delight in the worth of God's past grace, that we are driven on to experience more and more of it in the is done by transforming gratitude into faith as it turns from contemplating the pleasures of past grace and starts contemplating the promises of the future. "
— John Piper
tags: christ, faith 1 person liked it

"God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose."
— John Piper
tags: missions, reformed, theology 1 person liked it

"“Have you ever wondered what it feels like to have a love for the lost? This is a term we use as part of our Christian jargon. Many believers search their hearts in condemnation, looking for the arrival of some feeling of benevolence that will propel them into bold evangelism. It will never happen. It is impossible to love “the lost”. You can’t feel deeply for an abstraction or a concept. You would find it impossible to love deeply an unfamiliar individual portrayed in a photograph, let alone a nation or a race or something as vague as “all lost people”.

Don’t wait for a feeling or love in order to share Christ with a stranger. You already love your heavenly Father, and you know that this stranger is created by Him, but separated from Him, so take those first steps in evangelism because you love God. It is not primarily out of compassion for humanity that we share our faith or pray for the lost; it is first of all, love for God.”
— John Piper