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I don't remember how I came across this book but I did. It's really small size and the fact that it's a short version the longer book Desiring God, lead me to believe that this was a good choice for my first John Piper book to read. It really is a small book too, almost like a glorified pamphlet. Which fits right into John Piper's ministry, Desiring God. (Notice a reoccurring theme here?) His ministry does an excellent job at providing resources and is a beautiful tool that is readily available in many languages. Feel free to click on the red words above to head to their website to check it out.
Okay, enough promoting and more about the little book. I hope you notice that I appreciate this ministry. I may not agree with it on every issue but I do really agree with it's main love for the supremacy of Jesus in all things as well as it's great love for missions. With that said, you know have an idea of my position towards this ministry.
Don't Let Theology Trip You Up
If you haven't caught on yet, I read a lot. And for the life of me, I can't seem to remember the last fiction book that I read. So I mostly like the deep stuff and the stuff that involves A LOT of Jesus. Occasionally, I'll read a business or leadership book here and there. So don't peg me with some lame or ignorant stereotype with the statement I'm about to make. But I actually don't care for theology or doctrine. Gasp! I know! Shock and awe factor, people, shock and awe factor. But seriously, I don't like those terms and I don't give myself to "the study of religious faith, practice and experience; especially the study of God and of God's relation to the world." (Definition source: here)
BUT I DO give myself to the knowledge of God. I don't care about knowing the term imputed righteousness if I don't have a right understanding in my heart of Jesus taking my place when it comes to the wrath of God for the payment of my sins and then offered me His perfectly flawless and right standing before the Father. Seriously, cut the jargon and big words and enter into the struggle to get this stuff out of your heads and into your heart!
With that being said, my dislike for theological books is pretty high up there but what I like about some of John Piper's stuff is that there is a silver lining that makes the difference. Like I said above, they really value the supremacy of Christ in all things and that's what I'm talking about. My knowledge or wisdom has zero awesomeness compared to the surpassing and exceedingly great worth of knowing Jesus!
So I want to encourage those of you who are like me who sometimes (confession time here) tend to judge a full ministry or a person by a stereotype of some sorts. If that's you, then I want to encourage you to join me on my present journey of learning to not toss the baby out with the bath water. As I look at different believers (please note that the word believer is the most important part of this sentence) who might differ from me in methods but we agree together on the main issues (like Jesus' virgin birth, His sinless life, His divinity, His death on the Cross that paid the price for sin, His resurrection, His accession, His return, etc) I must ask this question: what are they doing right? In doing this, I have found that different parts of the body are functioning really well and playing their role. Now, if you add all of us imperfect parts together, you get a pretty functional body but in the meantime, if you just look at one section, you don't get the whole deal. I have a feeling that I'm not doing this topic any justice but that's okay because this is a book review and not the main point of discussion. :)
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
There is this song that hits me to the core every time I hear it. It's called Jesus At The Center by Israel Houghton. The title pretty much gives the main message of the song away, like titles, I guess, should. Anyways, this song is super powerful and I think it's truly a message that is rising from the hearts of believers who are close enough to hear His heartbeat. With that in mind, I really enjoyed how this little book hits this topic.
On page 8, John Piper quickly hits this home as he says, "there is no reality more breathtaking than Jesus Christ. He is not safe, but He is stunning." Boom! There it is! Right now, if something resonates in your heart as you read that, then I want to kindly suggest that you take a quick minute and ask for Him to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation that you may know Him better as Ephesians 1:17 suggests. Again, knowing about Him is worthless but actually knowing Him is more precious than gold so don't hesitate to stop from time to time if you feel Him ministering to your heart. No book is worth missing a moment of divine revelation that He willing wants to impart!
Intro to Christian Hedonism
If the words Christian Hedonism sound funny, weird or even controversial to you, then it's obvious that there hasn't be a proper introduction in your life. This book does a great job at giving you a small glimpse into, for a lack of better terms, this part of the body of Christ. Keep in mind that the word hedonism means:
"the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life." (Source for definition: here) Below are some quotes to help give you a taste of what Christian Hedonism looks like:
"Christian Hedonism' is a controversial name for an old-fashioned way of life." page 10
"...and to Saint Augustine, who, in the year 386, found his freedom from lust and lechery in the superior pleasures of God. 'How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose!...You drove from me, You who are the true, the Sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure." page 12
Piper quotes Jonathan Edwards here, as he says, "God is glorified not only by His glory's being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. His glory is then received by the whole soul, both by the understanding and by the heart. God made the world that He might communicate, and the creature receive, His glory; and that it might [be] received both by the mind and heart. He that testifies his idea of God's glory [doesn't] glorify God so much as that testifies also his... delight in it." page 19
"Here is the rock solid foundation of Christian Hedonism: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." page 20
"We have moved far away from the biblical Christianity of Jonathan Edwards. He pointed to 1 Peter 1:8 and argued that 'true religion, in great parts, consists in the affections'." page 28
"Nothing makes God more supreme and more central than when people are utterly persuaded that nothing -- not money or prestige or leisure or family or job or health or sports or toys or friends -- is going to bring satisfaction to their aching hearts besides God." page 57
Are you an expert yet? No, I'm just kidding. But hopefully these points from John Piper stir your affections for Jesus because that's what it is all about. At the same time, this is what this whole little book is about and I'm presume it's larger edition, Desiring God, is about the same topic. Regardless, I pray that you would take a careful look at your walk with this Almighty God and see if your affections are rightly aligned. Cause it's truly all about Jesus and if He's not at the center of it all, then it is just a terrible version of tradition or some meaningless rituals. Come on, invite Jesus into it all!
The Dangerous Duty of Delight: the Glorious God and the Satisfied Soul
by John Piper
Published by Multnomah
John Piper's Ministry: www.desiringgod.org