Friday, January 15, 2010

Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper

I was introduced to the writings of John Piper when I was in a men's group several years ago. Since then, I have read many of his books and would recommend all of them. So when the leader of the missions team at my church asked all of us to read Let the Nations be Glad, I didn't have to have my arm twisted. I was not disappointed. In typical Piperian (yes, I made that up!) fashion, deep theological thoughts are put forth, this time to the topic of missions.
Piper pours the foundation for a biblical worldview of missions, one with the supremacy of God as the overarching truth in taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
The opening paragraph of Chapter 1 is the spring from which the remainder of the book flows.

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't. Worship is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.

Can the call to missions make any more sense? If people were worshipping God in spirit and truth, we wouldn't have to proclaim the Gospel because everyone would already be living the Gospel.

This book is a great reminder to me of the necessity of missions and where prayer and suffering fit into the picture. I was challenged as I read of compassion for the soul's of men and I asked myself if I have that kind of compassion. Packed with scripture references, this book will help anyone in having a worldview that models a heart for missions, a heart sold out in satisfaction for God alone.

Free Book by Brian Tome

Jesus said if we hold to his teaching, then we are really his disciples. Then we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free (John 8:31-32). We all want to be free. Free from pain. Free from disappointment. Free from addiction. Free to truly live. This deep longing and how to begin the journey toward the freedom that eludes us is the focus of Brian Tome's latest book, Free Book.

Tome states his theme and purpose right on the front cover:

I am a fanatic about freedom. And I'm fanatical about coming at you hard in this book. I'm tired of seeing people beaten down by the world's systems and by religion. I'm sick of seeing people live safe, predictable lives while their God-given passions die. I hate the assumption that getting close to God means more rules and restrictions. No more. God's offering real freedom. Get yours.

Tome offers short chapters (for those of us with a short attention span) that are easy reads, but are full of truth that will guide you toward the freedom that Christ offers. The book is packed with personal stories and examples to illustrate the "do-ability" of the principles presented. The chapters on strongholds and "evicting the squatters" (the strongholds that move in and stay) are very helpful.
I benefited from the 4 phases that we experience on the road to freedom: (1) The Blahs-the beginning point when things are just messed up and you don't know what to do; (2)The Break-this is the moment of change when you take that first intentional step toward freedom; (3) The Blues-this is when you start to miss the old, familiar ways because you are not yet experiencing the blessings of the new freedom; and (4) The Blessings- when you are finally experiencing the grace that comes with the taste of freedom.

Tome's finishes his book in the final chapters by discussing community (because we can't be free in isolation) and grace and truth (because this is what Jesus was filled with, so should his people be).
I recommend this book for anyone that is taking seriously their walk toward freedom. Though some may be offended by his stepping out with things that they would deem "inappropriate" (whatever that means) for a Christian book, Tome chooses to exercise his freedom in Christ to simply tell it the way it is. I found it to be refreshing and encouraging.