What Is Advent?

Noel Piper

We are a people of promise. For centuries, God prepared people for the coming of his Son, our only hope for life. At Christmas we celebrate the fulfillment of the promises God made—that he would give a way to draw near to him.

Advent is what we call the season leading up to Christmas. It begins four Sundays before December 25, sometimes in the last weekend of November, sometimes on the first Sunday in December. This year it was November 29.

1 Peter 1:10-12 is a clear description of what we... Continue Reading

Next Best to Grace: Oxygen

John Piper

Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote one of the wisest things I have ever read on dealing with discouragement or depression in the ministry. It’s called "The Minister’s Fainting Fits" from his book Lectures to My Students.

Here he is at his best.

He who forgets the humming of the bees among the heather, the cooing of the wood-pigeons in the forest, the song of birds in the woods, the rippling of rills among the rushes, and the sighing of the wind among the pines, needs not wonder if his... Continue Reading

Little Lamb, Who Made Thee?

John Piper

William Blake was born yesterday, 1757. One of his most famous poems is one ofmy favorites. It’s a good launch into Advent.

Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed,
By the stream and o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I'll tell thee,
Little... Continue Reading

Why Say That Marriage Is Like Christ and the Church?

John Piper

When I asked Noël if there was anything she wanted me to say about marriage, she said, “You cannot say too often that marriage is a model of Christ and the church.”

I think she is right and there are at least three reasons:

  1. It lifts marriage out of sordid sitcom images and gives it the magnificent meaning God meant it to have.
  2. It gives marriage a solid basis in grace, since Christ obtained and sustains his bride by grace alone.
  3. It shows that the husband’s... Continue Reading

How Clear Differences Unite Humanity

John Piper

I have often said that I can go much farther down the road together with a serious, biblically oriented, articulate, firmly-believing Arminian than with a jesting, systems-oriented, unclear, wish-washy, Reformed philosopher.

G. K. Chesterton helps explain why.

It’s not merely true that a creed unites men. Nay a difference of creed unites men—so long as it is a clear difference . . . So a Tory can walk up to the very edge of Socialism if he knows what Socialism is. But... Continue Reading

A Chapter Closes in Advent at Bethlehem

John Piper

Some traditions are temporary—like a quarter of a century. This onelasted 27 years. I am referring to the reading of Advent Poems atBethlehem during Sunday Morning worship. I read the first one in 1982.Then I wrote four each year for about 23 years. Then, for about threeyears, I wrote three new ones, and read one recycled poem. Then lastyear, I wrote none, and I read only old poems.

This year we will replace the Advent Poems with Advent Scriptures.They will lead into... Continue Reading

By How Many Doors Must You Enter Paradise?

John Piper

Here’s an unusual wake up call about the wonders of marriage.

To complain that I could only be married once was like complaining that I had only been born once. It was incommensurate with the terrible excitement of which one was talking. It showed not an exaggerated sensibility to sex but a curious insensibility to it. A man is a fool who complains that he cannot enter Eden by five gates at once. Polygamy is a lack of the realization of sex; it’s like a man... Continue Reading

C.S. Lewis on Why to Seek an Author's Intention

John Piper

In answering the question why we should care about an author’s intention, C. S. Lewis gives two answers in his book An Experiment in Criticism.

"Why," they ask, "should I turn from a real present experience—what the poem means to me, what happens to me when I read it—to inquire about the poet’s intentions or reconstructions, always uncertain of what it may have meant to his contemporaries?"

There seem to be two answers. One, is that the poem in my head which... Continue Reading

As Nice As They Let Me, As Mean As They Make Me

John Piper

One of the growing ministries of Desiring God is the outreach to prisoners. Those of you in the Philippian Fellowship hear about this more often than the rest of our website guests.

On Thursday a team of four of us stopped in at Angola Prison in Angola, Louisiana. Warden Burl Cain was very gracious to take us into his world, even the most painful part of it.

Here is what he said three years ago in Decision Magazine about this prison:

This prison is the largest... Continue Reading

Art and the Precious Limits of Reality

John Piper

Here is Chesterton on the essence of art.

Art is limitation; the essence of every picture is the frame. If you draw a giraffe you must draw him with a long neck. If in your bold creative way you hold yourself free to draw a giraffe with a short neck you will really find that you are not free to draw a giraffe. (Orthodoxy, 71)

When I read this I remembered the thoughts I had in writing the advent poem called The Innkeeper.

So quickly do we pass over the Christmas... Continue Reading