Holiday seasons and turning points in life are good times to marvel at the providence of God in our lives. For me, tonight, that means marveling at the existence of Desiring God and what God has made of it.
Desiring God turned 20 this year. When this little “tape ministry” began in 1994 the internet was still a kind of science fiction for the average American — including me. Google was still four years away. I had used a personal computer for ten years. But it was a glorified type-writer, as far as I was concerned.
The ministry had an in-house name: CHEF (Christian Hedonism Expansion Fund). We simply loaned cassette tapes from the church library, and sold sermon manuscripts from a file cabinet outside the church office for a donation. Jon Bloom was responsible then. And, as president, he is still responsible today — to a very gifted board of directors.
Among the many things that thrill me about this ministry (staff, vision, growth, impact, philosophy, donors, creativity, message, etc.) it’s the impulses at the center that move me tonight. Here are four of them that I love.
At Desiring God we are tethered to the Bible.
“There are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:64–68) There is in us an impulse to hold on to the Bible. We have seen friends, family, and ministries turn away from the Bible. But when Jesus turns to us at Desiring God and asks, “Do you want to go away as well?” We answer with Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
The Puritans said that the best way to protect people from the devil is to put them out of taste for the bait he puts on his hooks. Yes. And the best way to put your mouth out of taste for the bait of sin is to enjoy the food of biblical truth.
This belief is at the heart of Desiring God and how we do things. Protection from error is not just a matter of having clear and true thoughts. It’s a matter of finding superior satisfaction in the reality of God behind those thoughts. At Desiring God, clear thinking is the culinary art of bringing out the best taste of God’s word.
That is why we love the Bible and tether ourselves to it. All the food is there. And it is eternally satisfying. For ourselves and the millions of folks who stop by for a morsel, this is what we eat in the kitchen, and this is what we serve at the table.
At Desiring God we take hold of what is truly life.
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life . . . The rich are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:12, 18–19) There are two parts to this impulse. Life is war. And we don’t fight for half-gods.
We work hard. Push hard. Think hard. Love hard. Jesus is our Savior, Lord, and Treasure. Paul is our hero. He says, imitate me, and we say, “Yes sir.” “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14).
Of course we believe in justification by faith alone. Christ has utterly taken hold of us. From eternity. Freely. By grace. Hence the passion to take hold of life: “I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philippians 3:12). Because! Because!
We press on . . . strain forward . . . run . . . fight. All for the prize. Nothing less. We “take hold of life which is truly life.” In his presence is “fullness of joy.” At his right hand are “pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). We know the devil is a fool, because he still thinks he can lure us away from this with a mere 80 years of 80% proof pleasure. We do not even admire your effort, Satan. We have tasted a better and longer joy.
At Desiring God we are sustained by God’s sovereignty over sin.
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (Genesis 50:20)
Like you, we see the world coming down. We are surrounded by the insanity of sin. Enemies of the cross abound — we say it with tears. “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (Philippians 3:19).
We see no compelling evidence in history or Scripture that Christ will bring a golden age of gospel dominance in the world before Christ comes in glory. On the contrary. When he comes, it will not be to people in the glow of global triumph. It will be to a people in affliction from their enemies.
At the second coming, God will “grant relief to us who are afflicted” and “vengeance on those who do not know God,” for the Lord will come “with his angels in flaming fire” (2 Thessalonians 1:7–8). This will be the victory of history. Not before.
Nevertheless, at every moment of groaning in this fallen world, Christ is sovereign, even over the sins committed against his people. He is able to turn every sorrow for our eternal good. Like a banner over every abuse and neglect and cruelty the Lord says to our adversaries: “You meant it for evil, but I meant it for good.”
We love this truth. It is the rock under our feet when the flood breaks in.
At Desiring God we drop our pebble in the pond of life.
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. (1 Corinthians 3:5–8)
We plant seeds of truth. We water them with explanation and illustration and argumentation. But God alone gives life and growth.
Our favorite picture is that we have been given little pebbles of joyful, biblical truth. The world of the internet is a very large pond. Our calling is to faithfully drop our pebbles into this pond of life, and then pray for God to blow on the ripples and make them waves of awakening.
These are four of the impulses at the heart of Desiring God. I am savoring them tonight. I pray they taste good to you as well. This will help put your mouth out of taste for the bait of the devil.