John Piper’s book on John Calvin now available

John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God
John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God

John Piper’s tiny new book  — 64 pages — on John Calvin, “John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God” is now available from Desiring God.

From Desiring God:

John Piper focuses on the supremacy of God by unfolding Calvin’s zeal for the glory of God.

God rests lightly on the church’s mind in our time. We are obsessed with ourselves and God takes second place, if that. The experience of his majesty sometimes seems to have disappeared from the modern evangelical world.

John Calvin saw a similar thing in his day. His aim was to “set before [man], as the prime motive of his existence, zeal to illustrate the glory of God”—a fitting banner over all of his life and work.

“The essential meaning of Calvin’s life and preaching,” writes John Piper, “is that he recovered and embodied a passion for the absolute reality and majesty of God. Such is the aim and burden of this book as well.”

This book comes as we enter 2009, the 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth. Look for more titles concerning Calvin to come out in the coming year. For another resource into this influential Christian thinker, see also Piper’s biographical message at the 1997 Bethlehem Conference for Pastors: The Divine Majesty of the Word: John Calvin: The Man and His Preaching. You can read it, listen to it streamed or download it.

Christmas message from Apollo 8: God is above all

This is a view of Earth from Apollo 8
This is a view of Earth from Apollo 8

I have heard this message in the past, but this seemed appropriate because, as this year closes, there are many who are burdened by what seems like a host of problems in this world. This message is from the crew of Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve 1968. This is late, I know, but it is something to think about: How must those three men — William Anders, Jim Lovell and Frank Borman — have felt when they looked upon the Earth in a way that none of us had?

Jonah Goldberg, writing in National Review Online, gives some background:

Nineteen sixty-eight was one of the most tumultuous years in American, even in world, history. By Christmas Eve, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy lay dead from assassins’ bullets; King’s murder had provoked bitter riots. The Democratic Convention in Chicago was marred by protests in the streets. Over 14,000 Americans died in Vietnam that year, as the Tet Offensive turned the country increasingly against the war. A demonstration in Mexico City ended with hundreds of deaths just before the Olympics there opened. Students rioted in Paris, at Columbia University, and elsewhere. The “Prague Spring” of liberalization was crushed by Soviet tanks.

In this distinctly un-cheery season, a voice of hope spoke from, quite literally, the far side of the Moon. Apollo 8, only the second manned Apollo craft to go into space after the tragedy of the Apollo 1 fire in 1967, had launched from Florida on December 21, 1968. Its crew of William Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman became the first humans ever to enter the orbit of another heavenly body and the first to see the “dark side” of the Moon. They saw, for the first time, Earthrise as they completed Moon orbits and emerged above the near side pointed towards Earth.

In this historical, breathtaking scene, the three astronauts chose the words from Genesis to give their listeners perspective about Who controls a world seemingly spinning out of control:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

Let us never forget and let us cling with hope to a God who keeps it all in place and running.

What wondrous love is this

Click to listen to a sample of this song
Click to listen to a sample of this song

What Wondrous Love is This” is a song that resonates this time of year when we think of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

This version, as recorded by Matthew Smith of Indelible Grace, is my favorite. I especially appreciate the bridge he wrote which talks about God’s love that overcomes our stubborn hearts and draws us to Him. Overall, a beautiful song and lyrics that point to verses like Romans 5:8 that deserve meditation on our part.

Here are the lyrics:

What wondrous love is this,
O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this
that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse
for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

When I was sinking down,
sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down
beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown
for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb,
I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
To God and to the Lamb
Who is the great “I Am”;
While millions join the theme,
I will sing, I will sing;
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

And what wondrous love is this,
Thou I raised my clenched fist
he opened up my hand
to receive His gift

And what wondrous love is here,
The God immortal has drawn near
and shed His blood
to close the rift.

And when from death I’m free,
I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free,
I’ll sing and joyful be;
And through eternity,
I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on