Our Top 13 Posts of 2013

For years, the heart of desiringGod.org has been our resource library, with three decades of sermons, books, articles, and more from the ministry of John Piper. When we started a blog in 2007, we thought we were just appending a humorously small sidecar of homespun content onto the big engine of our more enduring resources.

But as the Web has grown and matured, so has blogging. We’re finding more and more Christians looking for fresh biblical and theological substance online, and alongside the sermons and books, we have continued to dial up the quality of our daily content. In just three short years, the regular traffic to our blog has increased some 475%.

The Blog Is Just a Piece

While the blog is of growing importance to what we do, it’s not the only thing. We don’t want a post like this to give the wrong impression. Some of our most important resources from 2013 are books and ebooks, sermons and conference messages, the daily devotional Solid Joys, posts to social media, and more — like the new podcast called Ask Pastor John. The blog is just a piece of what we’re doing each day through the site, but it’s a big piece.

Last year we served up “The Top 25 Posts of 2012,” but this time we’ll simply list the top 13 most-viewed posts of 2013, with a few honorable mentions. We’ll count them backwards, beginning with number 13.

Our Most-Viewed Posts in 2013

13. “Pornography: The New Narcotic (John Piper)

When new research announced that Internet pornography may be more addictive than cocaine and heroine — and that it “literally changes the physical matter within the brain so that new neurological pathways require pornographic material in order to trigger the desired reward sensation” — Piper took to the blog, not only to sound a sobering warning, but to offer words of hope. (He wrote more the next week in a post titled “Hijacking Back Your Brain from Porn,” our 14th most-viewed post of the year.)

12. “From Radical Lesbian to Redeemed Christian (Tony Reinke)

In February, Reinke interviewed Rosaria Champagne Butterfield for the Authors on the Line podcast about her journey from tenured lesbian professor to evangelical Christian and pastor’s wife. This 23-minute episode, along with a 17-minute episode about Christian hospitality, exposed many of us, for the first time, to Butterfield and her inspiring story. (She also wrote a post for us in July, titled “DOMA and the Rock,” following the Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act.)

11. “10 Things to Pray for Your Wife (Jonathan Parnell)

It came only the third day of 2013, but this one stayed around all year and seems to have proved helpful for many. Parnell drew from his experience as a husband and from steeping in the Scriptures to bring together a list as straightforward and practical as its title. (For easy reference, it’s available in a print version (PDF) as well as lock-screens for iPhone4 and iPhone5.)

10. “Ten Big, Daily Reminders (Matt Reagan)

“I don’t stay awake to what’s truly important for very long,” writes Reagan, an elder at Bethlehem Baptist and campus director for Campus Outreach at the University of Minnesota. “So I’ve learned over time to put structures in place that remind me of those unseen things, especially during my bleary-eyed, half-conscious mornings.” This list of ten big, daily reminders is time-tested and now Internet-tested. Many have found Reagan’s list to be a good place to return often, if not daily.

9. “When We Send a Person to His Death (John Piper)

Earlier this month, 33-year-old Ronnie Smith, a Christian schoolteacher living in Benghazi, Libya, was shot and killed. He was a husband and father. He had written to us only a year ago to say that Piper’s message “Doing Missions When Dying Is Gain” was significant in his calling to Libya. Piper took to the blog to celebrate Smith’s life and sacrifice, and to remind us that in the gospel we are not playing games. He summoned “thousands . . . to take Ronnie’s place.”

8. “This Is Not Worth Quacking About (David Mathis)

Just over a week ago, a cable station announced it was indefinitely suspending one of its stars for offering an essentially traditional Christian perspective on homosexuality as sin. As Christians of all stripes took to mass media and social media to express their opinions, our executive editor tried to offer an alternative view to the quickly emerging pro- and anti-camps. “This is not our time to cry fowl about Christian civil liberties. . . . Let’s lay down the weapons on this one. There will be other ducks to shoot. Pass on the decoy.”

7. “I Hate Porn (Eric Simmons)

This veritable manifesto of abhorrence for pornography was our most-viewed post in the busy month of October. The author, Eric Simmons, is a pastor in Arlington, Virginia. He has experienced for himself, and with those close to him, the ruin porn can bring. “Honestly, it’s a problem that makes me tired,” he writes, “tired of the devastation Satan is causing to children, women, families, pastors, churches, and the world with this tragic evil.” It’s a powerful post that launched the Twitter hashtag #ihateporn.

6. “Parents, Require Obedience of Your Children (John Piper)

“I am writing this to plead with Christian parents to require obedience of their children,” says Piper. “I am moved to write this by watching young children pay no attention to their parents’ requests, with no consequences.” Vintage Piper, with gravity and grace, he offers “nine observations [to] help rescue some parents from the folly of laissez-faire parenting.”

5. “Seven Things to Pray for Your Children (Jon Bloom)

This post seems to have had one of the broadest reaches of any in 2013. We received request after request for reprinting this post or portions of it in publications beyond our little corner of the evangelical world. As with “10 Things to Pray for Your Wife,” we have a print version (PDF in case that’s of any help in making this serve your regular prayers).

4. “14 Free eBooks for You (Jonathan Parnell)

It was just a lowly midday post on a lazy Monday in mid June. Parnell pulled together a list of the 14 free ebooks we’ve produced in recent months, and gave it some flair for a lead, and this baby bird soon spread its wings and took off. We were shocked how quickly this one started making its way around the Web. People seem to like a good selection of free ebooks and are willing to share the joy.

3. “Single, Satisfied, and Sent: Mission for the Not-Yet Married (Marshall Segal)

At first he asked sheepishly if he might submit a post under our little sub-branded “Sent” series about life on mission. Now we plead him to keep writing. In between the constant travel and ceaseless tasks of serving as Piper’s executive assistant, Segal increasingly fills the cracks with writing. Let’s call this dandy from mid March his breakout post. Beforehand, he had blogged only six times for us; the seventh was a charm. Here Segal coins a new term for that potentially awkward “not-yet married” season between graduation day and wedding day, as he provides “eight suggestions for making the most of your not-yet married life.”

2. “When the Not-Yet Married Meet: Dating to Display Jesus (Marshall Segal)

His brief point about dating in the singleness post begged for a sequel. Soon Segal began working on a second, and on June 6, less than three months after the first, it was ready. We posted it with great expectations, and it more-than delivered, just edging out the singleness post for second by a few thousand pageviews. Lightning can strike twice. “Here are (some) principles for your not-yet marriages,” he says. “It’s not nearly a comprehensive or exhaustive list. They’re simply lessons I’ve learned and hope can be a blessing for you, your boyfriend or girlfriend, and your future spouse.” (And to round out the “not-yet married” series, there was a third installment in September, “It’s Not You, It’s God: Nine Lessons for Breakups.”)

1. “We Know They Are Killing Children — All of Us Know (John Piper)

Fittingly, our most-viewed post of the year came from our founder. On January 22 — on the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade — Piper writes, “The point of this blog post is that we know what we are doing — all America knows. We are killing children. Pro-choice and Pro-life people both know this.” He then gives eleven evidences that Christians or not, we all know that abortion is the killing of children.

Our New Site Launches Tomorrow

Thank you to those who visit our site regularly and help share the joy through social media, email, word of mouth, and more.

Tomorrow, God willing, we’ll be launching a redesigned version of our site that retains the functionality, but significantly improves the aesthetic in an effort to enhance the reader experience. In particular, there are major changes to the homepage, as we hope to bring together there, in one place, all our fresh daily content, and give you reasons to swing by the homepage daily.

As good as 2013 has been, we’re hoping the best is yet to come.

Honorable Mentions

Most blog posts live a short life, but not all of them. There are several enduringly relevant posts that just keep going and going and going. Here are the top-five most-viewed posts from 2013 that originated in previous years.

And just in case you still have the palate at this point for sampling a few more of our finest from 2013, here are seven honorable mentions, which didn’t make the top 13, but we think are well worth your time.