Pastor John’s Writing Leave

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Founder & Teacher,

I am deeply thankful to the Council of Elders for giving me both the assignment and privilege of a writing leave from April 29 to June 3. I would like to use this article to explain my goals and ask you to pray for me.

There are four projects that I would like to complete. Whether I can, I don’t know. But I do ask you to pray that God would give me humble faithfulness to his word, as well as the necessary energy and concentration and creativity and compelling language and uninterrupted hours for work.

Project #1: A new edition of Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ.

The dream here is that by putting Seeing and Savoring in paperback with some internal changes and a new foreword, it may be a good followup book to The Passion of Jesus Christ. Our sense is that the 1.7 million copies of the Passion that went out opened many eyes to why Christ came and died. Now, what might help them to know personally the one who died for them? Answer: the thirteen short portraits of Christ in Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. So we hope to publish Seeing and Savoring in the same inexpensive format as the Passion book and encourage people to get to know this dying Savior.

Project #2: Life As a Vapor: 31 Meditations for Your Faith.

This is another short book of readings in the same form as Pierced by the Word and will be published by Multnomah Press. The 31 meditations are already written and only need light editing and accompanying prayers.

Project #3: The Swans Are Not Silent, Book IV: The Life and Ministries of George Mueller, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton.

This is not the actual title. I will work on the title as I work on the book. It is the fourth in the series of biographies based on my Pastors’ Conference messages. So I will be starting with rough, shorter manuscripts already done. Then I will need to rewrite and enlarge those by adding important things that I had to leave out because of time when I delivered the messages. Then I hope to write an introductory chapter which shows why these men are grouped in one book and draws out lessons from the comparison and contrasts of their lives.

Project #4: When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy.

This is the major writing project for the writing leave. It will be a wholly new book. Why this book? Over the last 30 years, as I have tried to explain Christian Hedonism (that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him) people are often persuaded by the biblical texts that this seems right to them. Yes, they say, joy in God is crucial. It is not icing on the cake or a caboose at the end of the train of fact and faith. Faith itself has an essential affectional element of delight in the one trusted. You dare not trust Christ the way you trust your toaster. You trust your toaster because you want toast. It is functional to get you what you really want, which is not the toaster, but the toast. If you trust Christ that way, you dishonor him. He is the toast. To trust him is to taste and see that the Lord is good. Trust includes delight in him as our Treasure.

So, like I said, people hear this argument from Scripture and many of them are persuaded. But then there is a crisis. They have not been mentally persuaded that Christian Hedonism is biblical, but they suddenly realize: “I am in trouble, because I haven’t related to God like that. My walk with God, if it exists at all, has been a will-power thing. It’s been sheer decision, not delight. I don’t even know if I desire God the way you talk about it. I desire forgiveness. I desire not to go to hell. But I never really even thought in terms of desiring God himself because of his intrinsic desirability.”

At this point, they ask—it is the most common question I have received for 30 years—“How can I desire God the way I should?” That is what I would like to write about—a simple, helpful book to help people forward in their faith for joy. I think the glory of God in their lives is at stake.

Would you like to help me? Here’s how. Don’t skip church at Bethlehem because I am not preaching. Go and glory in the Savior! And as you see that I am not there, please pray for me. I hope many of you will pray daily for wisdom and biblical truthfulness and joyful motivation and mental energy and creative, compelling language that leads people to Christ and helps make them treasure Christ above all.

I love you,

Pastor John