Tag Archives: John Piper

Life Among the Thorns


“Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.”
 Mark 4:7 ESV

thorns

The parable was referenced in a book on fasting. A book I’ve read multiple times. And of course it’s a parable I’ve read dozens of times. But a little voice in my head whispered, “I think I’m living in the thorns.”

I ignored it. Continue reading

Sitting On My Asset?

VARIOUSI’m sitting here staring at my laptop, willing a blog-worthy topic to jump out at me from the plethora of open articles on my taskbar. I’m also getting progressively colder. At some point I have taken off my sweater …probably upstairs when I was giving Lucy her bath and had the space heater on. Down here it’s quite chilly.

Sigh. Guess I’ll trudge upstairs and get my sweater.

Upstairs, I grab my devotional and a shawl…where did I put that sweater?...and head back down to my computer.  There on the chair is the discarded sweater.

I’d been sitting on it.

Continue reading

Background Noise

actor at mike goodI went to see a play the other night. It doesn’t matter what play, really—I mention it only because of what was primarily wrong with it: I could not hear the actors’ lines as well as I ought–I estimate I missed 30% of the play’s dialogue.

This was not because the acoustics in the theater were bad—far from it. It wasn’t because I was at the back of the house: I was in row J. The problem wasn’t the actors’ ability to project—or not the main problem, anyway. No, the real issue was that the director had chosen to have ambient sound effects (street noises, music, wind, etc.) playing continually under almost every scene. The resulting background noise, which was supposed to define and enhance the scenes, became like the annoying buzz of an insect which you can’t kill, a faucet drip you can’t fix, a clock you can’t stop from ticking.

How often do we miss important messages in other realms of life, because of annoying, distracting or obscuring noise? Competing demonstrations have been known to try to drown each other out. We’ve read recently some writers who theorize that certain political topics (Syria, for one) are deliberately amplified and spotlighted in order to keep our attention away from the real show, which is going on in a dark corner somewhere.

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 But sometimes, we are our own noisemakers. When it comes to hearing what’s really important, how often do we make a space of quiet and stillness so that we have the right conditions in which to listen intently?

Continue reading

A Time-Out for Thankfulness

I’ve said it more than once:  I’m not the political head in this twosome, although my brother, JTR, has made me much more politically conscious.  Thanks in large part to his frequent allusions to the novel, our theater company is planning to produce the stage adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 next season.

But it’s Sunday, and after reading that intense and disturbing play

after reading about sequestration which doesn’t seem to corral anything–much less lead toward a solution…

after reading about the imminent collapse of our whole monetary system…I need a break.

Maybe you do, too. Continue reading

Lent: The Sweet Refrain

I wrote this a few years ago when I was one of the contributors to a Lenten blog.  For more thoughts on “Lent” and on the purpose of fasting, see my friend Jon Swanson’s recent post on his blog, 300 Words a Day. 

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I guess it’s just the way my mind works. A few days ago I found myself pondering the peculiar word ‘refrain.’ How did one word come down to us meaning both ‘stop it!’ and ‘sing it again!’?? I looked up the definition in Webster’s, which was unsatisfactory (and, as it turned out, incorrect in its etymology. First time Noah ever let me down…). I shrugged and tried to move on. But this word kept coming back to me, like a…well, a refrain. 

Continue reading

What does it really mean to be ‘thankful’?

We realize that this blog tends to focus on the negative…pointing out evil and absurdity, as we see them; they are far too easy to find.  

Here’s some respite, some thoughts which focus entirely on what is positive.  

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I didn’t grow up saying grace.  I didn’t grow up thinking ‘grace’.  I didn’t understand grace, and I couldn’t define it.  But after nearly thirty years of adulthood, and being an active Christ-follower, I was pretty sure that I could define “grace” in a pinch.

Until recently.

I was reading Colossians in my Greek Interlinear New Testament.  (Don’t be too impressed…I only know enough Greek to be dangerous.)  I was looking at the word translated as “thanksgiving” or “gratitude.”  It looked like “eucharist.”  That can’t be right.  Eucharist has to do with communion, I thought. Continue reading