Interview with

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

As we near the end of 2013, we look back on God’s grace on Desiring God. There’s a lot going on at Desiring God now, lots of plans for the future. Pastor John, when you think of the ministry of Desiring God, what’s happened in 2013, and what’s to come in 2014, what excites you?

Tony, it is strange, perhaps, but the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about the blessings to Desiring God and through Desiring God is the impact on the life of suffering people. One of the favorite texts at our ministry is: Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, 2 Corinthians 6:10. I mean, everybody who knows us knows that we stand for Christian Hedonism. We are the people who say that joy is essential, that God is glorified in us when we are satisfied in him. And yet the most consistent testimony to the benefit of the website in my ears, anyway, as I travel is people saying, “Thank you for help in getting through a tragedy.” And so I am thankful for the theology of suffering that pervades the website.

Through many tribulations Christians must enter the kingdom. And the prosperity gospel. ... I am just back from the Middle East and from Africa and everywhere I went I dealt with people from dozens of countries who tell me that they have been affected and the people around there have been affected by the prosperity gospel. And they say to me that Desiring God gives a perspective on suffering that is a corrective to the over realization of future blessing that prosperity preachers push into this life with a minimization of a proper understanding of the role of sorrow and pain and affliction in the Christian life. So I am deeply thankful that we are all on one page here, that many of us, in fact, at this moment God seems to be ordaining that some of our brothers are walking through really deep waters. And I think the people that listen to us and come up find a sweet sense of empathy when they are walking through hard times. So that is the first thing. Sorrowful yet always rejoicing is all over this ministry. And I think thousands of people find that very, very helpful.

The second thing that comes to my mind, especially after travels, is the global impact. The internet is simply an amazing instrument in God’s hands that people from Pakistan and Nepal and Indonesia and Vietnam and Cambodia and Egypt and UAE and Ethiopia and Nigeria come up to me after these sessions where I am speaking to groups of 70 nations and one after another of every different color and shade and ethnicity thanking me for Desiring God. I just would have never dreamed that, you know, I would go 6000 miles away and have the same stories told to me that I hear when I do conferences here. So praise God for the global impact of this ministry.

And the next thing that comes to my mind is the app development. I just love the fact that we are working on these special focus kind of ministries. The one we are doing right now, APJ, and that your involvement in it, the Solid Joys app. We are working on a brand new one that I won’t give the title away yet, but it is a new app that will be a new way of teaching the Bible and the content of the Bible, how to read the Bible. And we think ... we don’t know of anybody else that is doing it quite this way. So we are really excited about that new app.

New leadership, we just made a new hire in web project development and I am excited about that, I am sure, will hear more about that soon. So I am real thankful that the leadership of DG is thinking strategically about the future, the kind of expertise that will be needed to maximize the impact of the web.

And another one that comes to mind is I love Desiring God’s way of thinking about money and marketing. We believe in a wartime lifestyle which is a little different than a simple lifestyle, although it implies measures of simplicity. We don’t like to be opulent. We want to be simple, but wartime means you think through your expenditures in personal living and in ministry living with a view to maximizing impact, not to maximize comfort. So all the royalties and honorariums that I make go right back into ministry. I don’t take any of them for myself. We give away for free everything online, almost 10,000 resources they tell me now, not just 5,000. We don’t sell them. We don’t require any registration for them, because we want to remove every possible obstacle. I just love just lavishly throwing glorious things out there for anybody, anywhere, anytime in the world to have them with the fewest impediments possible.

We always have had this what whatever you can afford policy, so that if somebody wants a book or wants one of those crates of books we try to sell to encourage people to give them away, if they say, “I can’t afford what you are charging,” we will say, “Well, what can you afford?” And we send it to them. We have done that for 10 years and God has never, never let us down so that nobody has to be without a book that they need and that cherish for the building of their souls if they can’t afford it.

We don’t advertise on the website. I could give all kinds of reasons for why I am glad about that, but there is no big bar of advertising over on the right hand side, which is a big way of making money that we don’t do for various reasons. And we just believe that focusing on the sovereign grace of God and the glories of Christ and the truth of the Bible creates joyful givers, because I think three million of our four million dollar budget comes through the participants who love us and give us gifts. So I am just thrilled.

And the last thing that I would say is that I am excited, mainly — I left it for last, because mainly the center of our message: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. That is who we are. We are a people who have discovered that there is no need to choose between living for the glory of God and living in the fullness of joy, because even in the midst of suffering God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. That is the essence of our message and that is why I love Desiring God.

Thank you Pastor John. And thank you for listening. The ministry of Desiring God — which includes initiatives like this daily podcast, Ask Pastor John — are made possible by the prayers and the financial generosity of many friends of the ministry, like you. So as we near the end of 2013 we want to take a moment to thank everyone who supports the work of DG and whose financial contributions make it possible for us to continue to build and administrate and steward desiringGod.org, as we labor daily to share the precious gospel of Jesus Christ with many souls here in the United States and around the globe. And if you’d like to partner with us in this work you can do so online. Go to desiringGod.org > click “about us” > and then click on “support DG.” Your financial support is greatly appreciated by us. I am your host Tony Reinke — looking forward to sharing a fruitful and innovative 2014 with you online. We’ll be back on Monday.