Joy


These tests, although they vex us so,
Have no eternal consequence
Save that they serve to stretch and grow
Our faith in God’s omnipotence.
Disrupting our complacency
And any semblance of control,
He opens up our eyes to see
That he alone can make us whole.
He takes from us what we would keep
To give us what we truly need.
All lack of supper, safety, sleep
Recalls to us the ancient creed,
That Christ has lived and Christ has died
And Christ returned to life again,
And God, not sparing him, supplied
Our cause for hope, our good, our gain. 

John Piper

 

When I read verses like Philippians 3:17 (“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us”) or 1 Corinthians 11:1 (“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”), I think of John Piper. Piper has consistently been an encouragement and a challenge to me, from first encountering his work when I was a high school student to seeing him preach last month at a missions conference. No matter how many authors I read, and no matter how many preachers I hear, I still hold John Piper in the highest regard. Today, I simply want to express my thankfulness for his ministry by highlighting a few things that have deeply influenced me in my walk with the Lord.

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The Gift


The greatest gift of all was born –
The gift of Christmas presence:
The God-man facing scorn and thorn
To save the sinful peasants.

Unto a race which cried for blood
Christ Jesus came fulfilling
The Father’s plan foretold in flood,
Worked out in Christ’s own killing.

But death of son meant death of sin.
The devil was defeated.
Christ’s rising brought new life to men,
And God will not be cheated.

So let the Gospel ring this year
In ev’ry celebration,
And speak with joy to ev’ry ear
Of peace to ev’ry nation. 

Lust: The Ugliest of Pokemon

Lust the Ugliest of Pokemon image.jpg

“Pokemon Go” came out this past week in app stores, and, consequently, twenty-somethings all over are reliving their childhood calling to “catch ‘em all!” By using smartphones, we can now see the teeming masses of Pidgeys and Rattatas that pepper the landscape as we hunt the elusive Scyther on campus (no exaggeration; NOBTS is covered with Pidgeys and Rattatas). I have to admit that I’m sucked into the craze. For a simple enough game, “Pokemon Go” delivers hours of fun.
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Sharpening

How can I comfort those who mourn
Unless I learn to mourn myself?
For fellowship with those forlorn,
I must be taken from the shelf.
For there I sat so safe and calm,
But there I also gathered dust.
If this, my life, would be a balm,
Then I must learn that God is just
Not just in times of peace and rest,
But in my sorrow, sickness, strife.
If I would follow heaven’s best,
I will not have an easy life.
But through my broken heart, he speaks,
And through my suff’ring, Christ is seen.
If soon, with death, my body reeks,
My soul, by grace through faith, is clean.
So why would I avoid the pain
If, through the turmoil, faith is grown?
The struggle leads to priceless gain
As man’s despair is overthrown.
All things do work together for
The good of those He called in love,
And though we walk the road of war,
God reigns in sov’reignty above.

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Christmas

The king was troubled in his soul
As news was told of kingly birth.
He spawned a plot to keep control,
Consumed with thoughts of his own worth.
But even in his selfish ploy,
He could not stifle heaven’s plan.
Despite the sons he did destroy,
He did not stop good news to man.
For God so loved the world…
For God so loved the world…
From long ago the Lord has said
That he would send a saving son
To stand upon the serpent’s head
And bring new life to ev’ry one
Who followed after Adam’s way
In breaking heaven’s holy law.
Messiah came to bring the day,
To rescue men from sin and flaw.
For God so loved the world…
For God so loved the world…
Though earth was lost in darkest night,
The souls of mankind dead and still,
The darkness saw a holy light
It did not, will not, cannot kill.
Now gone: defeat, despair, and death,
For hope and life and peace he brings.
He fills our lungs with living breath.
With triumph, ev’ry voice now sings:
For God so loved the world…
For God so loved the world…

Count It All Joy

Oh how quickly we abandon
Our morality and will
When, to our complete confusion,
Circumstances strike us ill.
Ill-advised is our rebellion,
Yet the rebel’s part we play:
From disciple into hellion
When the storm invades the day.
Can we not remember glory,
That our Lord has won the fight?
Do we yet forget the story?
Light has broken through the night!
Suffering is light and fleeting
When compared to Christ above.
No bereavement, bane, or beating
Breaks the grip of God’s great love.
Persecution serves to purge us.
Suffering now sanctifies.
We are bought by Christ’s own purchase,
Seeing now with open eyes.
Therefore, we count joy our sorrow,
Singing praise in deepest pain.
Should we face our death tomorrow,
Even this is wond’rous gain.

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Paradox

Counted righteous, yet we sin
Broken, but He lives within
Dying daily while we live
We are paupers, yet we give
Owning, but cannot afford
Wealth belonging to the Lord
Rich beyond all human dreams
In the desert finding streams
Walking from the state of death
Lungs of dust inflate with breath
Weakness shows a deeper might
Faith replaces eyes for sight
Hope endures when hope has died
Tortured souls in peace abide
Counting joy the deepest strife
Dying Son; eternal life

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Count It All Joy

The tragedies and maladies of life
All serve a saving purpose for the saint
For struggles that surmount a life with strife
Become the hues with which our Lord doth paint
O’er ev’ry evil, Elohim prevails
Effulgent Savior, holy thaumaturge
From death’s embrace, the true Messiah hails
And makes what brought despair to heal and purge
Now watch as broken daughters rise to dance
Now see as sickly sons stand up to praise
The vilest horrors help to fix our stance
The worst oppression only lifts the haze
No pow’r is held by any enemy
All things do work as one for good to me