Desiring God

Write Your Own Scripture

song

My church has a list of daily Scripture readings for every day of the year. It’s a common thing in Christianity. Followers of Jesus have been doing it for centuries. The readings will generally be a Psalm or two, an Old Testament reading, and a New Testament reading every day.

I decided since it’s a new month and I want a new heart, it’s time to start a new practice.

I got 1/10 of the way through the first reading and thought, this sucks. Whoever wrote this (probably David) lived in a completely different culture and time than me. It just doesn’t connect. So it got me thinking…

Can I write my own Scripture? (cue lightning bolt)

Seriously. If the Psalms don’t work for me, can’t I just write my own?

What if God is not only after those who quickly say, “Sir, yes sir!”

Even though this Drill Sergeant is stronger by far than anything the mighty U.S. Army has ever seen.

In the army if a cadet in training falls out of line or asks questions, he must face the wrath of a hard Sergeant. And how much more deserving of wrath is a man who dares to question the Sergeant of Sergeants, who turns mountains to wax?

If the penalty is to melt, then here am I, Lord, incinerate me. What can I do?

But if I can be so bold, is it possible that the Mountain God is in search of a few less Yes Men and a few more wrestling matches?

Is it possible that the Sergeant of Sergeants appreciates, respects, and dare I say even enjoys a bit of a wrassle? Could it be that if God wanted to lay you bare and flatten you without blinking his Pacific Ocean sized eye, then you would be toast?

But what if you stood your ground?

What if you were so bold as your spiritual ancestor Jacob, whose desires were strong, who didn’t quickly acquiesce and say “Yes Sir, whatever you want,” but said instead, “I’m not going anywhere until you give me what I want.”

The audacity!

But I can’t help but notice the humility even in the audacity. He recognizes the divine being’s ability and power to bless him. You don’t go to a homeless person and ask him to bless you, right? You go to a king’s palace. You go to someone greater than you, with more resources than you. Asking for a blessing is a humble thing, not a braggadocios thing.

So write your own Psalm. Have the audacity to do that.

The 150 psalms we have are here to stay. They’re not going to be replaced. They will continue being the Jewish and Christian psalms forever. I’m not saying let’s write Psalm 151 and 152 and include them in the canon.

But I am saying, embedded into the Scripture, in fact, one of the psalms, is the admonition:

Sing to the Lord a new song!

John Piper takes this further and adds (John Piper adds to Scripture?) — “sing to the Lord a new song, or picture, or poem, or figure of speech.”

The 150 psalms in the Bible are Israel’s songs, written for Israel, in an ancient context. They deal with kings, thrones, Zion, donkeys.

We need local psalms/songs. So write a Michigan Psalm. Or Iowa Psalm. Or New York. God was doing things in Israel thousands of years ago and the people of God wrote about it. God is doing things in Illinois this week. Why not write about it?
For old time’s (all time?) sake: Psalm 66 —

Take a good look at God’s wonders— they’ll take your breath away. He converted sea to dry land; travelers crossed the river on foot. Now isn’t that cause for a song?

Yeah, that is cause for a song! And so is the God-stuff in 2018, even if it is something like, “Hello?! Where the hell did you go?”
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Which One Is Right?

PiperBellMcLarenPlantingaZachariasMichaelWillard

Perhaps it would be a good idea, fantastic as it sounds, to muffle every telephone, stop every motor and halt all activity for an hour some day to give people a chance to ponder for a few minutes on what it is all about, why they are living, and what they really want.”

–James Truslow Adams

It would be good to have an overall view of things, like an aerial view, so that I can fit any aspect of life into the bigger picture. This seems easy but is actually incredibly difficult, especially if you read a lot of books. Eight years ago I had more direction than I have today, simply because I didn’t know much, and if you don’t know much than you can’t be too confused. But because I’ve learned so much the past few years, it’s very confusing trying to piece all of these things together.

John Piper has based his life and ministry around enjoying God. Rob Bell and the Mars Hill Community make it their aim to put Jesus on display. These are different. If they weren’t, then John Piper’s ministry would be called “Putting Jesus on Display Ministries” rather than “Desiring God Ministries,” and Mars Hill wouldn’t be called a “Jesus Community” it would be called a “Desiring God Community.”

Brian McLaren wrote a book series about a new kind of Christian. Cornelius Plantinga bases his theology around a Creation-Fall-Redemption model.

Can you be a new kind of Christian who puts Jesus on display within a Creation-Fall-Redemption model while desiring God?

Ravi Zacharias’ ministry is called “Let My People Think.” We don’t think enough. Boaz Michael and the folks over at First Fruits of Zion focus on bringing Christians back to the Torah and obeying its instructions. We’re not obeying God like the Bible commands. Dallas Willard believes what’s missing in Christians’ lives is discipline. We’re not being disciples of Jesus like we should be.

This is just seven ministries. There are thousands more who focus on different things. All of these different focuses cause confusion in a guy like me who simply wants the big idea. Is there even a big idea? Of course all of these people and their ministries are in agreement on a lot of things, but apparently not enough that they explain their thoughts on life and God in a similar way, otherwise we wouldn’t have seven different names and agendas from seven different men, plus thousands more, would we?

So if we stopped the world for an hour and let everybody think about what it’s all about and why they are living, how many different answers would we get? Ask seven Christians with big ministries and you get seven different answers.

It’s very confusing. I think I’m getting C.ADD – Christianity Attention Deficit Disorder. Maybe I’ll go watch Joel Osteen.

Osteen

Tim Keller: If you think you understand the gospel, you don’t

Tim Keller

If you think you really, really understand the gospel, you don’t. If you really think that you haven’t even begun to understand the gospel, you do. Gospel theologizing isn’t anywhere near enough if we’re going to change the world with it. There has to be a lifelong process of more and more deeply realizing the wonder of the gospel.

Tim Keller, Desiring God Conference 2006 (mp3)

This is part of a new way of life: to learn more and more of the deeper things and understand less and less, and to be caught up in wonder.

John Piper on the Emergent Church

John Piper

The following is an excerpt (full mp3 here) from a panel conversation (With Justin Taylor interviewing Tim Keller, John Piper, and Mark Driscoll) at the Desiring God Conference 2006, which took place on September 29. John Piper was asked about the Emergent Church, and after shocking the audience by saying a curse word (Justin said Mark must be rubbing off on him), he said this about a lunch conversation that he had with Tony Jones, national coordinator of Emergent Village:

I just kinda kept going back on my heels, like, I don’t understand the way these guys think, and so there are profound epistemological differences – ways of processing reality – that make the conversation almost impossible; just kind of going by each other. My question sort of is, how profitable would it be to press on with that when your worldviews seem to be so different and your ways of knowing seem to be different, the function of knowledge in transformation, what the goals of transformation are – all those are so different that I’m not sure we would get anywhere.

These words by Dr. Piper caused me to wonder if this is the reason why some leaders are not in the habit of dialoguing with a lot of their critics, because how profitable would it be when your worldviews are so different? I for one don’t think that Brother John should spend a lot of his energy in dialogue with people who come from a totally different angle (although some is healthy), because it takes him away from focusing his attention on the things that he really feels passionate about. It reminds me of Nehemiah 6:3 – “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?”

Pastor Piper is doing a great work. I hope that he’s open to correction, yet always working hard at the work he’s been given.