– John Piper
– John Piper
>Shortly after the previous post, I came across this from Scotty Smith…more than a bit applicable:
For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus. 2 Corinthians 7:5-6
Gracious Father, the incidental pictures in the Scriptures are often as profound the intentional promises. This story of a conflicted Paul being comforted by a good friend comes with Swiss timing today. I begin today feeling a little on the blahs-and-blues side of things. Nothing critical, but enough so to bring my weariness before you.
Thank you, Father, for reminding me even your most faithful servants… those who know you the best… those who grasp the gospel is a zillion times better than me… even these men and women experience restlessness, fear and weariness.
At times I still labor under the myth of an Omni-competence. If I just prayed enough… believed enough… or was filled with the Spirit enough I would never get discouraged or downcast. What a groundless lie. What a horrible burden. What a humorless joke.
Thank you for comforting us when we’re downcast. You don’t deride us, chide us, or hide from us… you comfort us. You’re “the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3). And thank you for the comforters you send us. Though you’re quite capable of sending ravens and rainbows, and manna and miracles, more often than not, you send a Titus to a Paul, or a Phoebe to a Paul (Rom. 16:1). You love to show your kindness and concern for your people through your people.
Father, on this gorgeous September morning, I’ll wait for your grace as I bring you my weighted heart. Help me stay honest about my weariness… expectant of your comfort… and thankful for whoever you send.
And make me sensitive to the needs of others around me. In this state of mild funk I may be more helpful to them than when I feel “together” and “on top of my game.” By the Holy Spirit, point me towards other weary travelers who need a gentle word of comfort, perspective and hope. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ compassionate name.
>I know a lot of people in vocational ministry who are going through what I am calling a “dry” period…not a period of unconfessed sin, not a period of physical illness, not a period of spiritual deadness, not even a period of controversy/competition/crisis…”just” a period of dryness.
It is a funk that is not fun. I usually have a period of this when I come off the last summer trip of each season. The excitement, energy, and near-exhaustion of camp ministry propels adrenaline. The spiritual victories are invigorating, and watching students turn away from the gospel is ever-painful, but also energizing as it propels prayer. The transition from summer schedule to what passes for “normal” is always tough…but tougher this year.
Why the seeming epidemic of, only term of which I can think, dryness?
Don’t know. Testing? Spiritual attack? Just a physical thing (I got thru most of the summer without suffering allergies, but the last few weeks have been tough)?
Again, don’t know.
But it’s not fun.
Staying in the Word and communicating through prayer. Trying to get adequate rest (maybe too much?). Asking Spirit of God to search my heart and see if there is anything unclean within that hasn’t been addressed.
And fully aware that “this too shall pass” and though I go through a dry valley, I go not alone…My ever-present Source of joy/comfort/power etc is with me…as is my family…and friends…
>“If we are not instructed, how can we instruct? If we have not thought, how shall we lead others to think?
It is in our study-work, in that blessed labour when we are alone with the Book before us, that we need the help of the Holy Spirit. He holds the key of the heavenly treasury, and can enrich us beyond conception.
He has the clue of the most labyrinthine doctrine, and can lead us in the way of truth. He can break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron, and give to us the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places.
If you study the original, consult the commentaries, and meditate deeply, yet if you neglect to cry mightily unto the Spirit of God, your study will not profit you.”
–Charles H. Spurgeon
>“The Cross of Christ” by John R. W. Stott is not light reading, but it is fantastic reading. It is one of my all-time favorites; one of the few books that I’ve reread several times.
Here are a couple paragraphs to whet your appetite:
The concept of substitution may be said, then, to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives that belong to God alone; God accepts penalties that belong to man alone (158-59).
– Timothy Keller
>This was written decades ago; truer now:
“People seem to think that the masses are outside the Christian church because our evangelistic methods are not what they ought to be. That is not the answer. People are outside the church because looking at us they say, “What is the point of being Christians? – look at them!” They are judging Christ by you and me. And you cannot stop them and you cannot blame them.”
“Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, ‘I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’ Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.”