Soren Kierkegaard said, “When the age loses the tragic, it gains despair.”
This sounds profoundly right.
The elements of life that make tragedy possible are the same as the ones that fight off despair. For tragedy to be real there has to be something hugely precious, and there has to be the capacity to feel a great emotion. When these are both present, tragedy can happen.
Despair is the horrible blankness that settles over us when nothing is seen as precious anymore and there is no capacity to feel it anyway.
As great as our tragedy may be, if we feel it to the full, it is a sign that the weapons against despair are still in place.
Often the gifts of God come in strang…
Our ninth grandchild was born on Friday: Morrow John Piper. The day was filled with evidences of God’s tenderness to us. So I ask with the psalmist, “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?”
The psalmist answers, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord” (Psalms 116:12-13).
The fact of the call defines the meaning of the cup. The cup is lifted for another filling. More, Lord, more! Show your inexhaustible Self! Which is to say, God will be most glorified in Morrow and me if we keep calling on him as the only all-satisfying Treasure of our lives.
So my “return” to the Lord for this child is to purpose that every day, while I hav…
Joseph Bottum, an editor at First Things, recently published an article called “The Death of Protestant America.” Here are a few of his observations that give meaning to the title.
- By “Protestant America” he means the America that was once defined by the mainline churches—the more liberal expressions of the Northern Baptists, United Church of Christ, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians. Take a deep breath and consider: In 1965 50% of the American population was in these churches. But today 8% of Americans belong to these churches.
- “The death of the Mainline is the central historical fact of our time: the event that disting…
As a Christian, when you experience a painful providence like an illness or a rebellious child or a broken marriage or a financial hardship or persecution, do you ever wonder if God is punishing you for some sin you committed?
If you do, there is some very good news from the letter to the Hebrews.
The original readers of this letter had been experiencing persecution and affliction for some time. They were tired, discouraged, and confused—why was God allowing such hardships? And some were doubting.
So after some doctrinal clarifications and some firm exhortations and a few sober warnings (so they could examine if their faith was real) the author of the letter brought home a ver…
From Rousseau to the Tom and Jerry Cartoons, Wheaton English Professor, Alan Jacobs, traces a “cultural history” of Original Sin, the name of his recent 304 page book. The most auspicious and provocative lines in Matt Jenson’s review in Books and Culture are these:
Original sin’s deniers like to claim that the doctrine does bad things, or at least discourages us from doing good things. It deals death. So they tell us. But over and over in Jacobs’ account, we meet well-intentioned characters, only to find their happier, gentler anthropologies turning sour, leading to (or at least abetting) anarchy, eugenics, despair. Perhaps the greatest irony in this history is the discovery th…
Lee Grady, the editor of Charisma, one of the main charismatic magazines, has written a lament and critique of the Lakeland “revival” which is now in a tailspin over the leader's announced separation from his wife. Grady’s summons to pray for the church and our nation is right, and among his commendable questions and observations are these:
- "Many of us would rather watch a noisy demonstration of miracles, signs and wonders than have a quiet Bible study. Yet we are faced today with the sad reality that our untempered zeal is a sign of immaturity. Our adolescent craving for the wild and crazy makes us do stupid things. It’s way past time for us to grow up."
- "True revival will be accomp…
What should Christians, especially those who are non-sports fans, make of the Olympics?
Everything in the material universe points to something of significance in the non-material realm. By saying so, I am not trying to diminish the significance of the physical universe per se. God has ordained meaning and significance there, too. Jesus ascended bodily to heaven. Meanwhile, the material creation points to things not seen with physical eyes, but with spiritual eyes.
The Bible is bursting with numerous examples of material objects employed as metaphors. Mustard seeds point to faith. Rocks struck in the wilderness point to Jesus who is our sacrificial lamb. Manna points to nourishment…
One of the main points of the forthcoming book Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ is that sin and God’s wrath against it were part of God’s plan when he created the world. This is different from saying that God sins or that he approves of sinning.
The main reason for making this point is to exalt the revelation of God’s grace in the crucifixion of Jesus to the highest place. This is the point of the universe—the glorification of the grace of God in the apex of its expression in the death of Jesus...
Read the rest of the article.
Adapted from the sermon, "Bethlehem, Break Forth Like the Dawn."
In addition to the all-important need for faith and forgiveness and personal holiness, there are other needs that Isaiah—and Jesus—are passionately concerned about.
Here are 5 kinds of human need mentioned in Isaiah 58.
1) The need for freedom from bondage and oppression. Four times in Isaiah verse 6 and once in verse 9 he hits on this.
- Isaiah 58:6 - "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?"
- Isaiah 58:9 - "...take away the yoke from your midst..."
2) The need for food. …
As an event planner, I am often tempted to worry as I look toward upcoming conferences. Silly questions (that don't sound so silly in my head) come to mind and plague my heart:
- "Will people want to come? Will the conference be a blessing to them? Will the event be edifying and God-glorifying?"
- "Did we do enough promotion? What if no one finds out about it? What if the Google Ads don't work?"
- "What about all the things yet to be done? What if we can't get all the projects done on time?"
- "Will we meet budget? What if things end up costing more than we thought?"
And so I have to battle against the temptation to sin by casting my cares on the Lord through prayer and h…