Blog Posts by David Mathis

The Trouble with Focusing on Your Marriage

David Mathis

Focusing on your marriage can be a good thing. And it can really mess you up.

It depends on what kind of focusing you’re doing. If it involves a season for extra attention and conscientiousness and investment, to deepen the roots, or to heal — and so to better reflect Jesus and his bride — that can be a Godsend. Many of us have profited from seasons like this, and…

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Why We Labor Day and Night

David Mathis

It’s wise to periodically pause and refresh ourselves on why we do what we do.

For those of us taking a break from our labors on this Labor Day (ironic, as it may be), here’s a triad of encouragements from the apostle Paul to remind Christians why we labor.

1) We labor not to be a burden to others. (2 Thessalonians 3:8)

If you don’t do your part to feed…

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The Secret of Sanctification

David Mathis

Is there a silver bullet for increasing Christlikeness? It’s doubtful that speaking like that will bring more clarity than confusion. But there is biblical precedent for talk about finding “the secret.”

In Philippians 4:11–13, the apostle Paul, having thanked his friends for their generous provision of his needs, concedes,

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.…

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Let’s Revise the Popular Phrase “In, But Not Of”

David Mathis

In, but not of”— if you’ve spent much time Christian circles, you’re probably familiar with this slogan. In the world, but not of the world. It captures a truth about Jesus’s followers. There’s a real sense in which we are “in” this world, but not “of” it.

In, but not of. Yes, yes, of course.

But might this punchy phrase be giving the wrong…

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Behind the Blog: Tempest in a Pot of Iced Tea

David Mathis

Chick-fil-A was a veritable tempest in a pot of iced tea in recent weeks. But we weren't afraid to touch on the subject, albeit tangentally, with an angle on the tolerance of God.

In this latest edition of Behind the Blog, we talk about the tolerance posts, give an update on new Piper publications, provide the backstory on several recent ventures, and offer a glimpse into what's in the works.

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Holiness Beyond Words

David Mathis

Holiness starts with God. Discussions about holiness get off on the wrong foot when they begin with what we don’t do, rather than with who God is.

This is essential to keep in mind as we talk about sanctification — the process of our becoming holy. Before we get too far down the road with the derivative holiness of the creature, let’s tune into the original holiness of the…

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The Shelf Life on Preaching the Gospel to Yourself

David Mathis

The clock is ticking. If you're faithfully "preaching the gospel" to your own soul, day in and day out, but distancing yourself from regular Bible intake, your freshness is fading. There's an expiration date on this fruit once it's off the vine.

Don't think I'm down on preaching the gospel to ourselves. I love it. I commend it. It's one of my main conscious sources for sanctification, an indispensable weapon…

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The Gospel of Noncontradiction

David Mathis

What if being a grace junkie didn't mean caring very little about Christian holiness and obedience? What if we could let grace be grace — wild and free — and at the same time let ourselves be captured by a desire to please God, without assuming it's automatically legalism?

Doug Wilson says we can. Indeed, such is the authentically Christian approach.

We asked for help navigating the ongoing discussion about…

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An Olympic Lesson in God's Omnipotence

David Mathis

Sad to see the Olympics end?

Every other year, whether Winter Games or Summer, it's thrilling when the Olympics arrive and captivate the world's collective attention for two full weeks. But most of us are at least a little glum to see them go, even if it does mean we finally get to catch up on some sleep.

There's a bigness to the Olympiad that fascinates us. It comes with…

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What's Greater Than Winning the Gold

David Mathis

Usain Bolt, yes, we are impressed. Gold medals in the men’s 100- and 200-meter sprints — at back-to-back Olympics. Like no one’s done before. You’ve made the case as well as any in this generation that you are “the world’s fastest man.”

But don’t think we’re more impressed than we are. At least not those of us happy to acknowledge our creatureliness, and trying our best, with Holy Spirit help,…

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First Things First: Making the Most of Your Morning

David Mathis

“Do first things first” is the takeaway from Laura Vanderkam’s new eBook What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. Morning is “prime time for self-improvement,” USA Today reports in reviewing Vanderkam’s work. The article says,

Here are some of the things she says go-getters do before most people finish their first cup of coffee:

Exercise. A dawn workout is common among CEOs and other high-powered types.

•…

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Behind the Blog: Who Is This Jon Bloom?

David Mathis

We could ask Jon Bloom about all sorts of stuff. Whether it's the founding of Desiring God, her nearly 20-year history, or what John Piper was really like back in the day, there's plenty to query Bloom on. But that'll have to wait for another day.

For now, the topic that has our attention is Jon Bloom, the writer. 

As president of Desiring God, Bloom regularly writes for the blog, among…

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Sanctification: So Why the Long Word?

David Mathis

It's such a long word — sanctification. And it has such a churchy ring to it. No one uses this language outside the church.

So why not adopt a simpler term from the secular world and freight it afresh with Christian content?

While expositing Romans 6:23, John Piper went off script (it's in the audio, but not the manuscript) to tackle this question and also provide a short but substantive…

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The Olympic Fight of Faith

David Mathis

Olympic glory is for the young. Gymnast Gabby Douglas is just 16 years old, swimmer Katie Ledecky is only 15, and Michael Phelps, age 27, says he's old enough to make these Olympic Games his last.

But the Christian "race" is for young and old. The fight of faith is for the healthiest and sickliest, for the seemingly strong and the weak.

So how is it that an aging Christian —…

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Five Years Later: The 35W Bridge Collapse

David Mathis

It was five years ago today, on August 1, 2007, that the Interstate-35W bridge over the Mississippi River, near downtown Minneapolis, collapsed during rush hour.

Like no other tragedy in recent memory, the bridge collapse seized the collective attention of the Twin Cities metro, the state of Minnesota, and the surrounding five-state region of the Upper Midwest.

It seemed initially that dozens must be dead, but God was merciful.…

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What It Means to "Act the Miracle"

David Mathis

God's grace is catalytic. To truly experience it is to be changed for the better.

The Christian gospel floods our life with God's gracious provision, both outside of us and inside. Sins forgiven. Perfect righteousness provided for us in Jesus. Adopted into God's family. All wonderful. And the grace of God keeps going, freeing us from ongoing sin, making us holy in practice, and humble, and loving toward others.

The…

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How to Watch the Olympic Games

David Mathis

The Bible has something to say about the Olympic games.

“Everyone who competes in the games,” writes the apostle Paul, “exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Corinthians 9:25). Comments John Piper,

When Paul wrote these words to the Corinthian Christians, he assumed that they all knew about the games. The Olympic Games took place in Greece every…

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Sanctification When "It Is Finished"

David Mathis

How is Christian sanctification different than so-called growth, or personal advance, in any other system of belief?

Jared Wilson points us to the gospel's unique declaration, and how it changes everything for Christian sanctification.

Celebrate with us, and wrestle through, the simplicity and complexity of God's work and ours in the mystery of sanctification at our National Conference — September 28–30 in Minneapolis. Register today before 11:59 PM (CDT) for…

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Election: Handle with Care

David Mathis

I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. –2 Timothy 2:10

The doctrine of election is a sharp scalpel. 

It can be wielded with care and skill, and taken up to give life and heal. Or, in the hands of an untrained fanatic or detractor, it can be used to harm, to sever vital…

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How Mission Sanctifies

David Mathis

Not only does God's work in us (sanctification) help his work through us (mission), but it works the other way too. Engaging in God's mission can jumpstart our sanctification as well.

In this brief video, pastor Darrin Patrick explains the importance of living the Christian life among the lost for our own sanctification. Sometimes we don't see how much we need Jesus, he says, until we're deeply involved with people who…

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Jesus and the Wild Animals

David Mathis

It’s one of the stranger asides in all the Gospels.

In Mark’s first chapter, verses 12–13, after Jesus’s baptism, “The Spirit immediately drove him into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals . . . .”

Say what? Jesus with the wild animals? What significance does that carry in this grand opening chapter of Mark?

No

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Jumpstart Your Stalled Sanctification

David Mathis

Has it ever seemed like your sanctification is plateauing? Ever felt like you were spinning your spiritual tires?

In such times—relax, we’ve all had them—you may run through the typical means-of-grace checklist, whether in your own mind or with a friend’s help. Am I reading the Bible? Praying? Invested in community with fellow Christians? It’s not a bad thing to do (even the pros do it), but maybe…

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The Apologetical Power of the Existence of Israel

David Mathis

Christianity Today's four-part dialogue between John Piper and David Brickner of Jews for Jesus is now fully published online. The topic is the relationship and attitudes American Christians should have toward Israel.

In Piper's second and final response (part four), he draws attention to the apologetic of Israel's ongoing existence:

On the 60th anniversary of the birth of the modern state of Israel (May 7, 2008), I celebrated the…

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Finish Your Piper Collection — at Long Last

David Mathis

At one time, it would have cost you a pretty penny to finish off your Piper book collection.

A few fanatics would pony up what it took to obtain a Cambridge-University hardback or Baker softcover of John Piper's out-of-print dissertation Love Your Enemies. But most of us saner types, even if we claimed to have "read everything by Piper," never had access to the monograph he wrote in Germany…

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