The Page from C.S. Lewis that Changed John Piper’s Life [Weekend Resource]

I’m always looking for good material to feature for the Weekend Resources series.

This week, C.S. Lewis has graciously agreed to do a guest post (meaning, I have more or less picked over some of his work and found a short, profitable piece for readers).

This happens to be the page from C.S. Lewis that John Piper says changed his life [PDF].

**The following is an except of The Weight of Glory [PDF], by C.S. Lewis.**

What is the Highest Virtue?

If you asked twenty good men to-day what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness.

But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love- You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance.

Replacing Love With the Negative Ideal of Unselfishness

The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point.

I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire.

We are Far Too Easily Pleased

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Now I encourage you to  download and read the remaining eight pages of The Weight of Glory.

Enjoy this post? Subscribe to blog updates via email or via RSS


A Sweet & Bitter Providence [Weekend Resource]

This is audio Bible study at its finest, and that needs to inform your listening approach. Here’s what I mean.

John Piper’s new book, A Sweet & Bitter Providence, is out in audio format at christianaudio.com. The book is more of a Bible study than just a drive-by reading. It is more polished than a sermon, more fervent than a commentary, with more Biblical depth than the typical Christian book.

Piper tackles issues like sex, race, and the sovereignty of God head-on. With gripping clarity, he opens the Book of Ruth chapter by chapter and proves that the three-thousand year old book is still relevant today.

So here is how I would approach this audiobook and turn it into an excellent Bible study on the Book of Ruth.

Read a chapter of Ruth each week. Meditate on it, pray over it during your time with God.

Then, set a time each week to listen to the audiobook. Approach it as a Bible study by digging into the text yourself, and then listening to John Piper add depth to your understanding.

You will enjoy the narrator of the audiobook. He puts enough expression into his voice to avoid sounding mechanical. I had a slight complaint at first blush as the narrator read all of the verse references. But that turns into an asset when you use the Bible study approach.

Get a Taste for the Book: A Quote

“One of the great diseases of our day is trifling. The things with which most people spend most of their time are trivial. And what makes this a disease is that we were meant to live for magnificent causes.

“None of us is really content with the trivial pursuits of the world. Our souls will not be satisfied with trifles. …So our souls shrivel. Our lives become trivial. And our capacity for magnificent causes and great worship dies.

“The book of Ruth wants to teach us that God’s purpose for his people is to connect us to something far greater than ourselves.”

Note: This review was done as part of the christianaudio Reviewers Program.

Enjoy this post? Subscribe to blog updates via email or via RSS


Humility: True Greatness [Weekend Resource]

If I met someone presuming to have something to say about humility, automatically I’d think him unqualified to speak on the subject.

So are the feelings of CJ Mahaney as he wrote his book, Humility: True Greatness. But Mahaney’s work merits your attention, at least for one primary reason.

He is writing as a fellow pilgrim pursing humility by the grace of God. His goal? Help you make humility the everyday attire of your life instead of a mere performance. Mahaney approaches that goal in the only effective manner.

The Only Path to Humility

What is the only effective way to find humility? By recognizing that humans “cannot free ourselves from pride and selfish ambition; a divine rescue is absolutely necessary.” Yes, we must redefine greatness to mean serving others instead of being served. Yes, we must see the foolishness of pride. But in the end, all endeavors to find humility are futile if they do not lead you do the cross of Christ. Christ alone offers hope for humility by ransoming us from bondage to pride.

Finding the Authentic Servant’s Heart…At Last

I highly recommend this audiobook…it ranks in the top tier of books I’ve read. Evidence: I’ve read the print version several times as well as listened to the audio from christianaudio.com [that’s a dual statement of the book’s quality and my need]. The book itself is no salvation, but it clearly explains the gospel of Jesus Christ who alone offers real humility. The kind of authentic servant’s heart that you’ve never found anywhere else.

Note: This review was done as part of the christianaudio Reviewers Program.

Enjoy this post? Subscribe to blog updates via email or via RSS


Driven to Prayer: Our Extremities are the Lord’s Opportunities [Weekend Resource]

Usually I reserve the Weekend Resource slot for a post covering a website, book review, free download, or some other resource that may be of use to you in your pursuit of the God pursing you.

Other weekends I post a series of quotes or a short article written by someone else. That’s what this is. A brother in the Lord, Al Hartman, posted the following piece from Spurgeon in the comment section of a previous post on prayer and fighting sin. I don’t want you to miss this.

An Excerpt from Morning and Evening, by Charles Spurgeon

Beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ (Matthew 14:30)

Sinking times are praying times with the Lord’s servants. Peter neglected prayer at starting upon his venturous journey, but when he began to sink, his danger made him a suppliant, and his cry, though late, was not too late.

In our hours of bodily pain and mental anguish, we find ourselves as naturally driven to prayer as the wreck is driven upon the shore by the waves. The fox runs to its hole for protection; the bird flies to the wood for shelter; and even so the tried believer hastens to the mercy-seat for safety. Heaven’s great harbor of refuge is All-prayer; thousands of weather-beaten vessels have found a haven there, and the moment a storm comes on, it is wise for us to make for it with full sail.

Short prayers are long enough. There were but three words in the petition that Peter gasped out, but they were sufficient for his purpose. Not length but strength is desirable. A sense of need is a mighty teacher of brevity. If our prayers had less of the tail feathers of pride and more wing, they would be all the better. Verbiage is to devotion as chaff to the wheat. Precious things lie in small compass, and all that is real prayer in many a long address might have been uttered in a petition as short as that of Peter.

Our extremities are the Lord’s opportunities. Immediately a keen sense of danger forces an anxious cry from us, the ear of Jesus hears, and with Him ear and heart go together, and the hand does not long linger. At the last moment we appeal to our Master, but His swift hand makes up for our delays by instant and effectual action. Are we nearly engulfed by the boisterous waters of affliction? Let us then lift up our souls unto our Savior, and we may rest assured that He will not suffer us to perish. When we can do nothing, Jesus can do everything; let us enlist His powerful aid upon our side, and all will be well.
~C. Spurgeon / A. Begg

Click here to download the devotionals for the month of January out of Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening.

Enjoy this post? Subscribe to blog updates via email or via RSS


8 Bible Reading and Memory Plans [Weekend Resource]

Desire Spiritual Growth has two new pages: Bible Reading Plans and Bible Memory Plans under the Resources tab.

Both pages offer a buffet of Bible reading and memory plans, plus some “how-to” heavy artillery. Remember, our hope is not in the methods. But they are tools nonetheless. There’s value in having a plan to follow when reading the Bible. Maybe you want to methodically follow a beaten path by reading the Bible in a year. Or you want to plunge into a 90 day reading plan. Or maybe you’re like me and just want a plan so you can have something to meander back to once you’ve chased the rabbit trails.

Here’s a list for readers of all stripes.

Bible Reading Plans

  1. Tabletalk’s Bible in a Year Plan
  2. Entire Bible in 90 Days
  3. Book-at-a-Time Bible Reading Plan
  4. 5×5×5 Bible Reading Plan
  5. Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan
  6. Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System
  7. 6 Ways to Access the ESV Bible Reading Plans

How to Have a Quiet Time

  1. Guide to the Quiet Time
  2. 7 Minutes with God
  3. How to Use Bible Study Methods [Confession From a Recovering Methods Addict]

Here’s everything you wanted to know about Bible memory, and then some.

Bible Memory Plan and Resources

  1. Create Your Own Memory Cards
  2. Fighter Verse Cards

How and Why to Memorize

  1. An Approach to Extended Bible Memory
  2. 18 Tricks To Memorize More Scripture
  3. How John Piper Memorizes Scripture
  4. Why Memorize Scripture?

Enjoy this post? Subscribe to blog updates via email or via RSS


How to Ask Better Small Group Questions [Weekend Resource]

Now That's a Good Question! by Terry PowellCan you identify with the following prayer?

Dear God, so far today I’ve done all right. I haven’t gossiped or lost my temper. I haven’t cheated anyone out of money or stared at a beautiful woman with lust. I haven’t been grumpy or selfish, and I’m really glad of that. But in a few minutes, Lord, I’m going to get out of bed, and from then on, I’m going to need all the help I can get. Amen.

Those are the opening lines of Now That’s a Good Question! by Terry Powell.

Who doesn’t want to read a book that starts off like that?

The purpose of this book is to aid the small group leader in leading a discussion.

  • What makes good question?
  • How do you ask effective, discussion-stimulating questions?
  • What is the difference between an interpretation and an application question?

In less than 100 easy-read pages, the book answers those questions, and many others [see table of contents].

You can download [for free] Chapter 1: Creating a Climate for Discussion.

The chapter is about…well, creating an effective discussion climate (like you needed me to tell you that). One of my favorite chapters in the book.

If you like what you see in the free sample, go here to buy Now That’s a Good Question! by Terry Powell.

Enjoy this post? Subscribe to blog updates via email or via RSS


Weekend Resource: Customize PDF Verse Cards for Your Bible Memory

VCMHere’s a simple tool for creating printable verse card for Bible memory.

The Verse Card Maker was created by Michael Scott, who graduated in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in Computer and Information Sciences, but is now in seminary pursuing a Masters of Divinity. He’s offering you a free tool that is one of the fruits of his labor.

It’s as easy as 1-2-3, without the 2
Unless the defaults don’t suit you, there are only two steps.

Type in the references and then click “Make Cards.”

From the website:

“The Verse Card Maker is a simple and efficient way to create customized verse cards for scripture memory. The only thing required of the user is a list of references, and then the Verse Card Maker does the rest by fetching the text and returning a fully formatted PDF ready for front and back printing.”

Enjoy this post? Subscribe to blog updates via email or via RSS


Weekend Resource: The Prayerless Church is a Powerless Church

Andrew MurrayIn order to gear you up for the posts I’ve written for the coming week, this Weekend Resource fits the theme of prayer.

Also: Don’t miss the link to a free audiobook at the bottom.

The Prayerless Church Will Inevitably Be a Powerless Church
Andrew Murray lays it out in black and white: A prayerless church is a powerless church.

Here’s an excerpt from an article taken from Murray’s book, The Prayer Life:

“[Prayerlessness] is the cause of a deficient spiritual life.—It is a proof that, for the most part, our life is still under the power of “the flesh.” Prayer is the pulse of life; by it the doctor can tell what is the condition of the heart. The sin of prayerlessness is a proof for the ordinary Christian or minister that the life of God in the soul is in deadly sickness and weakness.

Much is said and many complaints are made about the feebleness of the Church to fulfill her calling, to exercise an influence over her members, to deliver them from the power of the world, and to bring them to a life of holy consecration to God.

Much is also spoken about her indifference to the millions of heathen whom Christ entrusted to her that she might make known to them His love and salvation.

What is the reason that many thousands of Christian workers in the world have not a greater influence?

Nothing save this—the prayerlessness of their service. In the midst of all their zeal in the study and in the work of the Church, of all their faithfulness in preaching and conversation with the people, they lack that ceaseless prayer which has attached to it the sure promise of the Spirit and the power from on high.

It is nothing but the sin of prayerlessness which is the cause of the lack of a powerful spiritual life!”

Read the full article here.

Buy the book here.

Second Resource: Free Audiobook Download of John Piper’s Desiring God
For the next 30 days when you click the link above, you will be able to get John Piper’s audiobook, Desiring God, for free using the code provided by ChristianAudio.com. They offer one free audiobook per month, so I recommend keeping up with them if you enjoy a good listen.

“Desiring God by John Piper is the free audiobook download for November; one of the best-selling and most popular titles ever published by christianaudio!

Scripture reveals that the great business of life is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. In this paradigm-shattering classic, newly revised and expanded, John Piper reveals that the debate between duty and delight doesn’t truly exist: Delight is our duty. Join him as he unveils stunning, life impacting truths you saw in the Bible but never dared to believe.”

John Piper on Sale!
All John Piper audiobook downloads are only $4.98 each until November 21st!

Enjoy this post? Subscribe to blog updates via email or via RSS


Weekend Resource: Our Adoption in Christ: What It Means for Us and for Orphans

From Together for Adoption:

“Our first ebook, Our Adoption in Christ: What It Means for Us and for Orphans, is now available for free download! This book was written to equip churches theologically in the areas of orphan care and earthly adoption. We believe that robust theology produces robust action.

So, our writing object was to put the gospel at the center of the global orphan crisis. If the church is to be mobilized to care for 143 million orphaned and vulnerable children, the gospel must be the main thing. Our prayer is that God will use this brief book to equip and empower churches to serve orphans.”

Chapter titles:

  1. The Prodigal’s Suspicion and the Global Orphan Crisis
  2. Adoption in God’s Story of Redemption
  3. Glorifying the Father of the Fatherless
  4. The Cosmic Significance of Adoption
  5. Creating A Culture of Adoption in Your Church

Enjoy this post? Subscribe to blog updates via email or via RSS


Weekend Resource: Do You Know How to Use Bible Study Methods?

iStock_000003995793XSmallConfession from a recovering methods addict
I have long been fascinated with methods. They seem to promise results if you follow steps 1 through 3.

Problem is, they are powerless in and of themselves. Methods can not produce or sustain the hunger required to follow the methods diligently. Methods can not unlock the scriptures in a heart-changing way. Methods can help us gain a sort of knowledge, but not a relationship with Christ. In short, methods alone lack the ability to deliver on their promises. Standing alone, they are a futile means to reaching God.

Am I alone, or have you suffered from the futile methods-addiction as well?

Our hope is not in Bible Study methods.
Our only hope is in the Father, who by His Holy Spirit, teaches us and conforms our hearts by the truth to become more like Jesus Christ. Bible study methods that are divorced from such a hope in the Trinity will fail. Bible study methods are but a means of grace, but never the focus or power of our Christian life.

In light of that, here are 3 ways to use methods:

1. Bible Study Methods ought to be used to aid
Methods can be used to add structure to quiet times. Examples of the methods of other men may inspire us to dedicate ourselves to feeding on God’s Word more consistently. But remember, methods are to be an aid. Don’t use them to make yourself feel guilty for your lack of structure. Don’t force yourself to use a method that does not actually help or fit the learning style God has given you.

2. Bible Study Methods ought to be used by the hungry
Methods can only help if we are already feeling famished in the soul, desiring intimacy with God in His Word. Do not be mistaken, the methods can not produce hunger or desire in our heart. That is God’s work. God will do that work in your heart through prayer and His Word, but He doesn’t require a method for the Holy Spirit to work while you are in the Word.

3. Bible Study Methods ought not to distract us from the Holy Spirit’s work
Don’t get so tangled in the method that you can no longer hear the Holy Spirit say, “Read a little further today,” or “Stop, you need to meditate on that point.”
Don’t get so tangled in the method that you think the method is what teaches you, or that you are teaching yourself. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, teaching us spiritual truths that natural man can not comprehend (1 Cor 2:9-16).

Weekend Resource: AW Pink’s Study methods
In context of all of the above, here are AW Pink’s study methods. Don’t have enough time to follow them yourself? Don’t be discouraged. Instead, let them be a testimony to blessings and faithfulness of God. See the theologian, but also see that his knowledge was not self-concocted, but granted to him by the Holy Spirit from years of faithful study. Bottom line: God will be faithful to reward those who come to Him in His Word. AW Pink is an testimony to that. Focus on the sureness of God’s faithfulness to reward those who seek Him, praying that truth sink will into your heart and draw you to invest time in His Word.

Enjoy this post? Subscribe to blog updates via email or via RSS