Free online books from John Piper: A great resource from Desiring God

I’ve been meaning to share this for some time because it’s been a great help to me. Did you know that you can go online and find several of John Piper’s books for free to read online (or download and read later)? It’s true. Desiring God, which is a great ministry seeking to “spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ,” offers the books. You can find them here. New books are being added all the time, and often there are books in languages other than English if you want to use them to minister in that way. One of the ways I use them is I read them online and then bookmark that link so I can go back to them in a web browser without having to go to the home page first.

Thank you, John Piper, for the many inspiring, encouraging, challenging, informative books you have written. And thank you, too, Desiring God for making them available.

Rick Warren and John Piper: What’s going on with the 2010 Desiring God National Conference?

Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life and pastor at Saddleback Church, is not a guy who resonates in Reformed circles. So, the word that’s been leaking out the last week or so that John Piper had invited him to be the keynote speaker at this year’s Desiring God National Conference has caused quite a buzz. Ben Terry has the audio (also below) of Piper talking to a group at Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church about what he likes (and what puzzles and confounds him) about Warren.

More will probably come from this as Piper will host a Q&A live tonight at the Desiring God site.

Stepping aside for a time: John Piper is at war

Today, it was announced on the Desiring God site that John Piper — with the approval of the elders — will take a leave of absence from May 1 to December 31 this year. It was a remarkable letter in that he was very open and humble about the concern he had for the ministry at Bethlehem.

I asked the elders to consider this leave because of a growing sense that my soul, my marriage, my family, and my ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit. On the one hand, I love my Lord, my wife, my five children and their families first and foremost; and I love my work of preaching and writing and leading Bethlehem. I hope the Lord gives me at least five more years as the pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem.

But on the other hand, I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with Noël and others who are dear to me. How do I apologize to you, not for a specific deed, but for ongoing character flaws, and their effects on everybody? I’ll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I’m sorry. Since I don’t have just one deed to point to, I simply ask for a spirit of forgiveness; and I give you as much assurance as I can that I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins.

You can read the complete letter here. We can do no better than to do what he asks and remember the Pipers, Bethlehem Baptist and the ministry team at Desiring God in prayer. And, like Piper, we need also to continue daily to go to war with our owns sins.

A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Piper examines sex, race and God’s sovereignty in his new book

John Piper’s latest book, A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race and the Sovereignty of God is now available. In it, he examines the book of Ruth and how it’s themes are relevant in the 21st century. From the publisher:

The sovereignty of God, the sexual nature of humanity, and the gospel of God’s mercy for the undeserving-these massive realities never change. And since God is still sovereign, and we are male or female, and Jesus is alive and powerful, A Sweet and Bitter Providence bears a message for readers from all walks of life. But be warned, Piper tells his audience: This ancient love affair between Boaz and Ruth could be dangerous, inspiring all of us to great risks in the cause of love.

Two ways to look at and talk about Christianity

There are a lot of people who got bent out of shape about pastors who talk like this:

(O)fficial church pronouncements that condone the very sins that keep people out of the kingdom of God, are evil. They dishonor God, contradict Scripture, and implicitly promote damnation where salvation is freely offered.

And then there are pastors who talk like this:

Q: I’m struck by the fact that I don’t hear a lot of explicitly religious language, or mentions of Jesus, from you.
A: I think we have enough religious people who are going around trying to convert people. My guard is up when somebody is trying to convert me to their thing. Are you talking to me because you actually are interested in this subject, because you care about me as a human, or am I one more possible conversion that will make you feel good about your religiosity? I don’t have any embarrassment about my religion, and it’s not that I’m too cool, but I would hope that the Jesus message would come through, hopefully through a full humanity. If you have something to say, whether you’re religious or not, if it is truly Christian and Jesus-centered, then it will help and be interesting and compelling to people, regardless of their world view. But I’m not just interested in talking to Christians. I’m interested in what does it mean to be fully human.

I don’t want my ears tickled when life or death is at stake. I’ll take the former over the latter.

What is Hitchens thinking? Doug Wilson discusses ‘Collision’ with John Piper

‘Collision’ premiered Friday at the 2009 Desiring God National Conference. If you’re not familiar with it, “Collision” is a documentary on the series of debates between pastor/theologian Doug Wilson and atheist/author Christopher Hitchens on their book “Is Christianity Good for the World?”

After the movie was shown, Wilson sat down with pastor John Piper to answer a few questions about the film:

  • Christopher Hitchens said at the end of the movie that, given the chance, he wouldn’t convert the last theist. Why do you think he said that?
  • What is Hitchens’ best counterpoint to the claim that he is getting his morality for judging Christianity from Christians?
  • What is the relationship between doing apologetics and evangelizing?
  • In the video you speak about having “copiousness.” Describe what that is and whether you think it is important for pastors to cultivate.
  • What is your hope for this film?
  • What about the “s” word at the end of the film? Why do you allow for it here but don’t tolerate it from your children?
  • Why the recent upsurge in the New Atheism?
Click on the image to view the video
Click on the image to view the video

The 2009 Desiring God National Conference is going on this weekend in Minneapolis. The theme of this year’s conference is “With Calvin in the Theater of God.” You can follow along with the conference’s messages and find audio and video here.

Seven reasons why we need small groups

This was not the main part of the message, but it was nonetheless a great point that John Piper made this past Sunday during his message at Bethlethem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. That is, seven reasons why we as believers and members of the church need small groups:

He has given pastors to the church “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12). I believe in what I do. And I believe that it is not enough. Here are the seven reasons I gave the small group leaders.

1. The impulse avoid painful growth by disappearing safely into the crowd in corporate worship is very strong.

2. The tendency toward passivity in listening to a sermon is part of our human weakness.

3. Listeners in a big group can more easily evade redemptive crises. If tears well up in your eyes in a small group, wise friends will gently find out why. But in a large gathering, you can just walk away from it.

4. Listeners in a large group tend to neglect efforts of personal application. The sermon may touch a nerve of conviction, but without someone to press in, it can easily be avoided.

5. Opportunity for questions leading to growth is missing. Sermons are not dialogue. Nor should they be. But asking questions is a key to understanding and growth. Small groups are great occasions for this.

6. Accountability for follow-through on good resolves is missing. But if someone knows what you intended to do, the resolve is stronger.

7. Prayer support for a specific need or conviction or resolve goes wanting. O how many blessings we do not have because we are not surrounded by a band of friends who pray for us.

No, Mr. President. Killing is killing

As the president comes out today to tell us that we need comprehensive health care reform in our nation, I think this is something we should think on. Who will make reforms for the most defenseless in our country?

John Piper’s response to President Obama on abortion

On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, he released this statement,
We are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters.
To which I say:
* No, Mr. President, you are not protecting women; you are authorizing the destruction of 500,000 little women every year.
* No, Mr. President, you are not protecting reproductive freedom; you are authorizing the destruction of freedom for one million little human beings every year.
* No, Mr. President, killing our children is killing our children no matter how many times you call it a private family matter. You may say it is a private family matter over and over and over, and still they are dead. And we killed them. And you, would have it remain legal.
Mr. President, some of us wept for joy at your inauguration. And we pledge that we will pray for you.
We have hope in our sovereign God.

From the transcript:

On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, [President Obama] released this statement,

We are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters.

To which I say:

* No, Mr. President, you are not protecting women; you are authorizing the destruction of 500,000 little women every year.

* No, Mr. President, you are not protecting reproductive freedom; you are authorizing the destruction of freedom for one million little human beings every year.

* No, Mr. President, killing our children is killing our children no matter how many times you call it a private family matter. You may say it is a private family matter over and over and over, and still they are dead. And we killed them. And you, would have it remain legal.

Mr. President, some of us wept for joy at your inauguration. And we pledge that we will pray for you.

We have hope in our sovereign God.