Christmas: Good News! Great Joy!

Imagine the best news ever was just announced; a cure for cancer was found, peace is reached in the Middle East, world hunger was solved.  There would be dancing in the streets!  Imagine a joy that was indestructible, not connected to a fleeting moment.

This is Christmas!

A clip addressing family holiday preperations from John Piper focuses on the message of the Angel who appeared to the shepherds.  “Good News and Great Joy”.  This embodies the message of Christmas.  @DesiringGod tweeted Piper in powerful statement, “If being Jesus-focused is a killjoy for  Christmas, you don’t know him.”

The truth about Christmas is that it is the greatest news and greatest joy that has ever come to humanity!  It cannot be overstated.  Any substitute for this message is a dim shadow of the truth in this holiday.

Just as I am trying with my family, I challenge your family to focus on Christmas in its truest sense this year.

  • Try to show your family that Christianity is news.
  • Carve out regular times for special activities.
  • Outdo the mythologies of the world by showing that Jesus is 10,000 times more generous and joyful than Santa Claus.


Parents, Require Obedience of Your Children!

sfdsPrinciple: If we want our children to learn how to obey God when they are older, we must require them to obey us as parents now. I have four children, the oldest of whom is 7. This is not mere philosphizing for me, it is real life.

It is inevitable there will be conflict. Conflict between siblings and conflict between child and parent. This season in life is hard. Any parent can attest to this. Deciding which battles to fight is an ongoing state of being. While this state of being is not fun, it is worth doing right. My wife and I are seeking to raise Godly kids. That is no easy task in today’s culture. So I repeat: If we want our children to learn how to obey God when they are older, we must require them to obey us as parents now.

As a parent I am not perfect. I get things wrong. But the principle remains true that if my children learn to respect and obey me now, they will be better suited to obey future authority figures in life, and ultimately God as the final authority figure. Unfortunately most parents are not requiring obedience from their children. It is easier to pacify their children in the moment than deal with the long term commitment of building obedience.

John Piper writes an excellent article addressing believing parents and how they need to require obedience.

“The defiance and laziness of unbelieving parents I can understand. I have biblical categories of the behavior of the spiritually blind. But the neglect of Christian parents perplexes me. What is behind the failure to require and receive obedience? I’m not sure. But it may be that these nine observations will help rescue some parents from the folly of laissez-faire parenting.”

Please read the full article as Piper unpacks each of these nine points with biblical passages and practical application. If you are a parent, or hope to be one in the future, it is worth your 5+ minutes!  Click it here: Parent, Require Obedience of Your Children.

1. Requiring obedience of children is implicit in the biblical requirement that children obey their parents.

2. Obedience is a new-covenant, gospel category.

3. Requiring obedience of children is possible.

4. Requiring obedience should be practiced at home on inconsequential things so that it is possible in public on consequential things.

5. It takes effort to require obedience, and it is worth it.

6. You can break the multi-generational dysfunction.

7. Gracious parenting leads children from external compliance to joyful willingness.

8. Children whose parents require obedience are happier.

9. Requiring obedience is not the same as requiring perfection.

“Parents, you can do this. It is a hard season. I’ve spent more than sixty percent of my life in it. But there is divine grace for this, and you will be richly rewarded.” – John Piper


Can you be “Too Theological” for Teens?

–   NO!  –  You can be too boring. You can be a bad communicator. You can refuse to speak their language. But you cannot waste Truth. Theology is how we understand God. If you think someone is “too theological” you probably are reacting against individual characteristics of that person rather the desire to understand and know God.

Sometimes we think that teenagers don’t care about the things of God or they wont understand theology if they were taught it. Shame on us if we believe or propagate this lie. Teenagers today care deeply about spiritual things, they just have had little exposure to Truth! This generation is seeking something real. Why else is there the hunger for social justice we see in young adults if there was no understanding of right and wrong? Why is this generation so driven for purpose and meaning if there is no fulfillment for that desire in something bigger than ourselves?

I believe this generation is starving for good theology. They are hungry for real convictions. And, by the grace of God, when given the opportunity they will soak it up like a sponge. Yet, they can sniff out insincerity like a shark smells a drop of blood in the water. They refuse to play a game when it comes to matters of faith. They are looking: What will you offer them? What will you live out in front of them?

Don’t sell your teenagers short when it comes to theology. If they can do physics and calculus in their school settings, we know they can handle complicated issues when they put their minds to it. Why should it be any different in church? Teenagers will rise to the level of expectation you place on them. If you expect them to only appreciate pizza parties and 3 minute devotionals, that is probably what you will get. If you challenge them to dive into the richness of scripture you may just see a new side of your teenagers.


Last night at our student worship service I tested the limits of theology with teenagers. On the verge of summer break I taught on the “Supremacy of Christ over Your Summer”. We read over Colossians 1 and discussed who Christ truly is and how that applies to us right now. The kicker was this video I showed.

John Piper does a 18:53 minute talk on the doctrine of the Supremacy of Christ posted with a symphonic background by Brent Fischer. It planted new thoughts to grow in their mind. It painted a grand picture of Christ, one larger than we can fully comprehend. If you have not seen this video it will be 18 minutes and 53 seconds of well spent time. It will challenge you and give you perspective on the person of Christ.

Did Piper preach this for teens? Of course not. Can it inform and light a fire for teenagers? Yes! Because good theology provides the foundation for a passionate Christian life at any age.

Poetic Reading of “Pilgrim’s Conflict with Sloth” -A Must Watch-

This generation fights a struggle against apathy and laziness like none before it. Soaking in our ease and luxury we have become soft and forgotten the meaning of a life well lived.

In this beautifully poetic story by John Piper he recounts, on the cusp of his retirement, his own conflict with “Sloth”.  Piper shadows John Bunyan in and allegorical conversation with such a deceiver.  Take the brief time of 8:43 to listen to scriptural rebuttal as “Sloth” tries to disguise himself as “rest”.  Hear one of the most eloquent descriptions of the life-fulfulling work of a christian who refuses to give into the emptiness and lies of “Sloth”.

My prayer is that you will be encouraged in your work today.                                         -Adam

John Piper Reflects on the Awesomeness of Jeremiah 32:40

In this inspiring 3 minute clip, John Piper exudes with passion as he highlights the ramifications of Jeremiah 32:40. At one point he says, “I can’t imagine any greater verse in the Bible”.

Wow. The infinite heart of God is engaged in doing us infinite good. Mind blown. Watch it and see.

Beauty – A Compass Pointing to Something Bigger

In this flashmob organized in Sabadell, Spain an unsuspecting courtyard is bombarded with beauty as an orchestra slowly materializes out of thin air with a majestic rendition of Beethoven’s 9th symphony. It is moving and powerful. A crowd develops around the musicians realizing they are beholding something rare and beautiful. Children are dancing, adults are swaying, everyone is captivated by the beauty of the moment. Time stands still.

In the middle of busy schedules why did these people stop to listen? I believe it is rooted in our innate yearning for beauty. John Piper describes this desire that is in every person.

“I do believe that deeply rooted in every human heart is a longing for beauty. Why do we go to the Grand Canyon, the Boundary Waters, art exhibits, gardens? Why do we plant trees and flower beds? Why do we paint our inside walls? Why is it man and not the monkeys who decorated cave walls with pictures? Why is it that in every tribe of humans ever known there has always been some form of art and craftsmanship that goes beyond mere utility? Is it not because we long to behold and be a part of beauty? We crave to be moved by some rare glimpse of greatness. We yearn for a vision of glory.”

We long for something bigger than ourselves. Whether that is in the arts, nature, or daily life, when we catch a glimpse of it we stop in wonder. We realize there is more to this life than what we can see. We seek out beauty because we are created to have a relationship with the Author of beauty. Because of image of God imprinted in us, all humanity has a void in our souls that resonates with true beauty. This resonation of beauty lures us to its source. When we behold beauty it acts like a compass. It points us beyond the momentary glimpse of beauty to the source of all beauty. The compass does not show us our destination, it is just a guide. It keeps us grounded in reality, understanding where we are in this world. The sunset and the orchestra in themselves leave us wanting. They are not the destination. While they are beautiful for a moment, we desire more than these things can offer.

“And we can know that our desires are remnants of this urge for God because everything less than God leaves us unsatisfied. He alone is the All-Satisfying Object of Beauty. Only one vision will be sufficient for our insatiable hearts—the glory of God. For that we have been made. And it is for this we long, whether we know it or not.”    -John Piper: Jesus is Precious because We Yearn for Beauty. (both quotes)

When you and I encounter moments that take our breath away, whether a sunset or a work of Beethoven, let it remind us that, yes, there are amazingly beautiful things in this world, but they are mere shadows of the true beauty that is God Himself. How do we get to know God? Through His Son – Jesus Christ.

Your fellow worker in the field,  Adam

Letter to an Incomplete, Insecure Teenager; by John Piper

This letter is a must read for anyone who has ever felt incomplete.  John Piper describes how he was not a “caterpillar” who disappeared into a cocoon only to emerge as beautiful butterflies when the time was right. But he (and all of us) are more like frogs who publicly transform from a tadpole to a frog with all the awkward stages in-between.

In this rare occasion that John Piper speaks to a teenager, we receive a skillful description of the process of sanctification and some real encouragement along the way. Check out the original article here. Read the whole thing, it’s worth it!


Four years ago a teenager in our church wrote to me for advice about life in general, and identity in particular. Here is what I wrote, with a big dose of autobiography for illustration.

Dear ________,

My experience of coming out of an introverted, insecure, guilty, lustful, self-absorbed adolescent life was more like the emergence of a frog from a tadpole than a butterfly from a larva.

Larvae disappear into their cocoons and privately experience some inexplicable transformation with no one watching (it is probably quite messy in there) and then the cocoon comes off and everyone says oooo, ahhh, beautiful. It did not happen like that for me.

Frogs are born teeny-weeny, fish-like, slimy, back-water-dwellers. They are not on display at Sea World. They might be in some ritzy hotel’s swimming pool if the place has been abandoned for 20 years and there’s only a foot of green water in the deep end.

But little by little, because they are holy frogs by predestination and by spiritual DNA (new birth), they swim around in the green water and start to look more and more like frogs.

First, little feet come out on their side. Weird. At this stage nobody asks them to give a testimony at an Athletes in Action banquet.

Then a couple more legs. Then a humped back. The fish in the pond have already pulled back: “Hmmm,” they say, “this does not look like one of us any more.” A half-developed frog fits nowhere.

But God is good. He has his plan and it is not to make this metamorphosis easy. Just certain. There are a thousand lessons to be learned in the process. Nothing is wasted. Life is not on hold waiting for the great coming-out. That’s what larvae do in the cocoon. But frogs are public all the way though the foolishness of change.

I think the key for me was finding help in the Apostle Paul and C. S. Lewis and my father, all of whom seemed incredibly healthy, precisely because they were so absolutely amazed at everything but themselves.

They showed me that the highest mental health is not liking myself but being joyfully interested in everything but myself. They were the type of people who were so amazed that people had noses—not strange noses, just noses—that walking down any busy street was like a trip to the zoo. O yes, they themselves had noses, but they couldn’t see their own. And why would they want to? Look at all these noses they are free to look at! Amazing.

The capacity of these men for amazement was huge. I marveled and I prayed that I would stop wasting so much time and so much emotional energy thinking about myself. Yuk, I thought. What am I doing? Why should I care what people think about me. I am loved byGod Almighty and he is making a bona fide high-hopping frog out of me.

The most important text on my emergent frogishness became 2 Corinthians 3:18 —

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.

This was one of the greatest secrets I ever discovered: Beholding is becoming.

Introspection must give way to amazement at glory. When it does, becoming happens. If there is any key to maturity it is that. Behold your God in Jesus Christ. Then you will make progress from tadpole to frog. That was a great discovery.

Granted, (so I thought) I will never be able to speak in front of a group, since I am so nervous. And I may never be married, because I have too many pimples. Wheaton girls scare the bejeebies out of me. But God has me in his hand (Philippians 3:12) and he has a plan and it is good and there is a world, seen and unseen, out there to be known and to be amazed at—why would I ruin my life by thinking about myself so much?

Thank God for Paul and Lewis and my dad! It’s all so obvious now. Self is simply too small to satisfy the exploding longings of my heart. I wanted to taste and see something great and wonderful and beautiful and eternal.

It started with seeing nature and ended with seeing God. It started in literature, and ended in Romans and Psalms. It started with walks through the grass and woods and lagoons, and ended in walks through the high plains of theology. Not that nature and literature and grass and woods and lagoons disappeared, but they became more obviously copies and pointers.

The heavens are telling the glory of God. When you move from heavens to the glory of God, the heavens don’t cease to be glorious. But they are un-deified, when you discover what they are saying. They are pointing. “You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy” (Psalm 65:8).

What are the sunrise and sunset shouting about so happily? Their Maker! They are beckoning us to join them. But if I am grunting about the zit on my nose, I won’t even look out the window.

So my advice is: be patient with the way God has planned for you to become a very happy, belly-bumping frog. Don’t settle for being a tadpole or a weird half-frog. But don’t be surprised at the weirdness and slowness of the process either.

How did I become a preacher? How did I get married? God only knows. Incredible. So too will your emergence into what you will be at 34 be incredible. Just stay the course and look. Look, look. There is so much to see. The Bible is inexhaustible. Mainly look there. The other book of God, the unauthoritative one—nature—is also inexhaustible. Look. Look. Look. Beholding the glory of the Lord we are being changed.

I love you and believe God has great froggy things for you. Don’t worry about being only a high-hopping Christlike frog. Your joy comes from what you see.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

There is another metamorphosis awaiting. It just gets better and better. God is infinite. So there will always be more of his glory for a finite mind to see. There will be no boredom in eternity.


Pastor John