Archive for the ‘Christian Devotion’ Category
I can guarantee that you have this exact conversation in the last week:
You: How are you doing?
Other Person: I am good.
You: How was your week?
Other Person: I am really busy…
Dangers of Busyness
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about busyness and how unhealthy it can be for our souls. There are several negative things that can happen to us by living perpetually with a high “busyness quotient”:
-Danger of relational isolation
-Danger of increased anxiety
-Danger of thinking we are more important than what we are (pride)
-Danger of no rhythm of rest
-Danger of burnout (emotional, physical, spiritual, and relational)
-Danger of joylessness
Self-Awareness and Busyness
My experience is that oftentimes there is also a significant gap between perception and reality on “busyness.” Here is what I mean? The number one person who will identify themselves as being “busy” is the undergraduate college student who has 15hrs of class, maybe 30hrs of study time and over 50hrs of discretionary time per week. On the flip-side, oftentimes the busiest people – people with less than 10hrs of discretionary time per week – often continue to pile more and more on their plates because they fail to self-diagnose how over-loaded they really are.
If you have 50+hrs of discretionary time per week you aren’t busy. You probably need to volunteer and stop spending some much time self-medicating on _________________________ (insert whatever you self-medicate on here – video games, TV, sports, food, addictions…)
If you have less than 10hrs of discretionary time per week you are too busy and your soul is in danger. Please step back and think of some things that aren’t non-negotiable. Learn to say “no.” Be careful not to think of yourself as being too self-important.
Jesus and Busyness
The God of the Universe took a day off every week. Jesus got alone and away from the crowds and away from the ministry. He is/was way more important than you.
You were meant for the rhythm of rest that Jesus did. God gives rest to his sheep. God feeds his sheep when they rest if you trust Him.
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy, and My load is light. – Matthew 11:28-30
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. – Hebrews 4:9-11
I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man. – Proverbs 24:30-34
And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. – Matthew 8:24
And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. – Mark 6:31
How is your “busyness quotient?” Why do you like being so “busy”? Are you self-aware to your current status? Do you manage your time well?
Time is perhaps the most precious commodity that God has given us. What is time for? Who do you trust your time with?
This list is what I think are the 10 best books that I have read from John Piper. I haven’t read some of the more recent ones, but have heard good things about This Momentary Marriage (a book on marriage apparently).
1. Desiring God [y, l, e, p, s]
This classic is what introduced me to a sovereign God and the doctrines of grace. It also taught me that my pursuit of joy and my pursuit of God were one and the same pursuit. If you cannot get through it or are intimidated by its size, try The Dangerous Duty of Delight, he essentially says the same things, just more concisely.
2. Don’t Waste Your Life [y, l, e, p, s]
Quite simply this book needs to be read (and can be) by everyone. The title says it all. His passion for living a worthy life is infectious.
3. Let the Nations Be Glad [y, l, e, p, s]
This is his book on missions. It is excellent. Reading this book is what compelled me to spend time overseas investing the Gospel into people.
4. Brothers We are NOT Professionals [l, e, p, s]
Just as relevant in 2009 than it was in 2002. I agree with my friend James W. that this book ought to be read by every seminarian before and after seminary. Piper takes aim at the professionalization of the ministry. We are not professionals, we are shepherds.
5. The 5 Book Biography Set [y, l, e, p, s]
Each book has three or so vignette-length biographies. They are all good and the link above takes you to DG’s Christmas sale.
6. Finally Alive [l, e, p, s]
This book may prove to be one of Piper’s most important contributions. The book concerns the rarely written on, doctrine of regeneration. Definitely one of the best books of 2009.
7. Battling Unbelief [y, l, e, p, s]
This book gives you tools to fight for your joy in Christ when you don’t feel it. Also, I am told that, When I Don’t Desire God, and When the Darkness Will not Lift are both quite good and in the same vein.
8. The Supremacy of God in Preaching [e, p, s]
One of the best books on preaching. Period.
9. Future Grace [l, e, p, s]
The superior pleasure of Christ and the hope of future grace are our tools in fighting against sin.
10. God’s Passion for His Glory [y, l, e, p, s]
This books is Piper channeling Jonathan Edwards thoughts (which is much of what Piper has done his entire ministry… and that is a good thing). We would be wise to listen to Edwards and his vision for a God who is passionate for His own glory.
What’s the Difference – book on Biblical manhood and womanhood.
Counted Righteous in Christ – book defending the doctrine of Christ’s imputed righteousness. A critical doctrine and a solid book on the matter.
The Justification of God – rock solid exegesis of Romans 9. If you have ever had questions about Romans 9, this book will answer them.
(c=children; y=young adult; l=lay leader; e=elder; p=pastor; s=scholar)
You will never have more discretionary time than while in college. This is a critical time for you to develop your character and mind. This is a list of what I think are the most important books to work through during your time as an undergrad. These books focus on developing your heart to affection (orthopathos), renewing your mind to truth (orthodoxy), and provoking your hands to kingdom work (orthopraxis). Take 10 books a year and devote 30 minutes a day – you’ll finish the list, perhaps even early.
Note: I have listed them in order of how I think they should be read and not necessarily in order of how good they are. For sake of space, I am not going to do a writeup on each of these. If you have a question(s) about a book(s), just post in the comments.
1. Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper
2. Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever
3. The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
4. Designed for Dignity by Richard Pratt
5. The Fuel and the Flame by Steve Shadrach
6. Tell the Truth by Will Metzger
7. The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman
8. Holiness by J.C. Ryle
9. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable by F.F. Bruce
10. Universe Next Door by James Sire
11. Knowing God by J.I. Packer
12. Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey
13. Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray
14. Pensees by Blaise Pascal
15. No Place for Truth by David Wells
16. The Cross of Christ by John Stott
17. Culture Wars by James Hunter
18. Let The Nations Be Glad by John Piper
19. Salvation Belongs to the Lord by John Frame
20. Desiring God (or something else more substantial) by John Piper
21. The John Frame Trilogy: Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, Doctrine of God, Doctrine of the Christian Life by John Frame
22. The Clash of Civilizations by Samuel Huntington
23. Christ of the Covenants by O. Palmer Robertson
24. Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe
25. Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards
26. Love the Lord Your God With All Your Mind by J.P. Moreland
27. Darwin on Trial by Phillip Johnson
28. Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark
29. Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley
30. Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
31. How to Read the Bible for All its Worth by Fee and Stuart
32. He Gave us Stories by Richard Pratt [there is a nice summary here]
33. Institutes of Christian Religion by John Calvin
34. Confessions by St. Augustine
35. Warranted Christian Belief by Alvin Plantinga
36. Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche (I included this book because it is important for us to study antithetical works, I will make a list of books like this one later)
37. What is a Healthy Church Member by Thabiti Anyabwile
38. Habits of the Mind by James Sire
39. Why We’re Not Emergent: From Two Guys That Should Be by Ted Kluck and Kevin Deyoung
40. Baptism and Fullness by John Stott
What books would you add?
1. Holiness by J.C. Ryle [y, l, e, p, s]
Put your helmet and pads on because you are gonna get trucked. This is probably the most convicting book I have ever read. I got to visit Ryle’s grave in Liverpool, England, he was very tall and had a large beard.
2. Pensees by Blaise Pascal [y, l, e, p, s]
Most do not think of Pensees as a devotional work. I do. Read it slow and meditate, it will warm your soul.
3. Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer [c, y, l, e, p, s]
Chapters 1-3 alone are worth the price of the book. Tozer wrote this one night on a train ride! He gets at the root of sin.
4. Pursuit of Man by A.W. Tozer [y, l, e, p, s]
Almost no one has read this gem. In my view it is almost as good as Pursuit of God and better than Knowledge of the Holy.
5. Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards [y, l, e, p, s]
Edwards makes sense of our emotion and affection for God. He was also instrumental in reuniting the Presbyterians who were divided on what to think about the First Great Awakening.
6. Desiring God by John Piper [y, l, e, p, s]
This book can be slow and awkward at times but it is well worth the read. He defines and defends the idea of Christian Hedonism, borrowing heavily from Jonathan Edwards and #5 on this list.
7. Devotional Classics by Foster and Smith [c, y, l, e, p, s]
This book is on this list for the wide variety of authors/traditions you get to read over the course of church history.
8. The Call by Os Guinness [y, l, e, p, s]
Guinness covers systematically God’s calling on the Christian and employs several vignettes into the lives of wonderful Christians through church history.
9. Knowing God by J.I. Packer [c, y, l, e, p, s]
10. Puritan Paperbacks by Various: Most notably – The Christians Great Interest, The Valley of Vision, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, Doctrine of Repentance, All Loves Excelling, The Sinfulness of Sin, The Bruised Reed, The Mortification of Sin, and Guide to Christ. Entire set can be found at monergism books. [y, l, e, p, s]
The Puritans are a treasure chest of wisdom and keen insight on the human condition. They require patience to read but can be very rewarding.
(c=children; y=young adult; l=lay leader; e=elder; p=pastor; s=scholar)