"The ministry of preaching is the
central labor of my life. My prayer
is that through that ministry and
everything else I do the great glory
of our God and Savior Jesus Christ
would be magnified as more and more
people come to live out the obedience
of faith more and more deeply."
- john piper
John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem
Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew
up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at
Wheaton College, where he first sensed God's call
to enter the ministry. He went on to earn degrees
from Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.) and the
University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years
he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in
St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call
to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author
of more than 20 books and his preaching and teaching
is featured on the daily radio program Desiring God.
He and wife Noel have four sons, one daughter, and
an increasing number of grandchildren.
i first encountered john piper at a conference for college students in january of 1999. he was giving a talk on "how to glorify god while you are suffering".
this was of particular interest to me, as i was twenty years old and two weeks away from having back surgery. i had traveled 12 hours on a bus while lying in the floor because sitting was too painful.
dr.piper took the podium and began, but after a few minutes, i had to leave and walk out into the concourse of the arena which was hosting over 12,000 college students.
as i laid down on the concrete, seeking relief from the burning sensation radiating down my back and legs, i listened to this man preach with such bold authority about glorifying god in the midst of suffering.
as his voice boomed down those corridors, my immediate reaction was one of frustration and offense. how could this man speak so vividly about god's glory being my sole desire when i was in such pain? didnt he understand that there might be people with real pains and troubles who needed to hear a message of god's healing and promises to deliver us from pain and discomfort? isnt that what god does? doesnt he exists to meet my needs and wishes?
i distinctly remember these words careening through the stadium and through the empty concourse where i was laying
"do you retain your joy [in christ]- while you are suffering?"
it wasn't so much of an open ended question, but rather an indictment on the conscience.
who wants to say no to that? who would dare say yes?
and so began my journey into the ministry of john piper. as i wanted to learn more about why this man was so concerned about the "glory of god above all things", i found myself searching the scriptures to see if what this man was saying was true. either he was a lunatic, or i had greatly misunderstood my worth and my purpose.
i discovered that it was the latter.
i will insert here my disclaimer from my last post that i do not agree with every single thing john piper says or does. but where i disagree, i still see his desire to be faithful to scripture.
i do agree with the large majority of what he has said and taught, because the content of his teachings is saturated with bible; and not just bible verses (anyone can take verses out of context to support their views), but good bible exposition that is faithful to the overall message of scripture.
through john piper's ministry, the lord has helped me be a better reader of scripture, and to know him better, as well as see my self more accurately in light of his holiness. piper's ministry statement is "god is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him". i pray that my life would be a testimony to satisfaction in him.
i recommend the following books from piper:(click titles for link to purchase)
*The Dangerous Duty of Delight (Multnomah, 2001).
an excellent introduction to piper. if you have never read anything by him, start here. in this very small book (96 pages, small hardcover), piper lays out in concise form what he describes in great detail in "desiring god")
* Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist(Multnomah, 3rd edition, 2003).
-piper's magnum opus
*Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions (Baker, 2nd Edition 2003).
flying in the face of critics who suggest calvinists do not evangelize, this book is widely regarded as one of the best books in recent years on the importance of missions and evangelism. used in seminaries across the nation in evangelism classes
*Don’t Waste Your Life (Crossway, 2003).
ideally, this would be required reading for every high school senior, college graduate, 30 year old, and grandparent. a refreshing vision for not trivializing our life by having goals that will all fade away.
When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy(Crossway, 2004).
a wonderful and necessary book for those of us (all of us??) who find ourselves unable to keep an unquenched desire for god. called by one respected author "a gift to the church".