John Piper & Me (#2)

A few months ago, John Piper marked his 30th anniversary in the pulpit of Bethlehem Baptist Church, where I was once a member and a pastoral intern (we were called “apprentices” in those days). As I mentioned this relationship here in The Breadline, I was asked by a blog reader:

What was John Piper like on a personal level, how did he influence or change your perspective on ministry, and what would you say is the most important thing he taught you?

My first answer had to do with John’s vibrant model of a ministry driven by reformed theology. Let me follow up that post with this (and hopefully one more).

Second: I came to know about passionate, biblical worship by attending BBC, led by Pastor John Piper. I first went to hear the preacher, but then was awe-struck by the dynamic, reverent and God-centered worship in that place. Words are hard to come by to adequately describe how significant an impact those worship services made upon me. My very definition of worship is built upon one that John taught —


You can read about John’s theology of worship in his book DESIRING GOD, MEDITATIONS OF A CHRISTIAN HEDONIST [his website allows you to read the book for free online, or to download a PDF copy for free].

There John describes worship with a wonderful word-picture:

The fuel of worship is the truth of God, the furnace of worship is the spirit of man, and the heat of worship is the vital affections of reverence, contrition, trust, gratitude and joy. …

The fuel of worship is a true vision of the greatness of God; the fire that makes the fuel burn white hot is the quickening of the Holy Spirit; the furnace made alive and warm by the flame of truth is our renewed spirit; and the resulting heat of our affections is powerful worship, pushing its way out in confessions, longings, acclamations, tears, songs, shouts, bowed heads, lifted hands and obedient lives.

Preaching sound, biblical theology fuels the passionate worship of a great God! I discovered that thanks to the ministry of John Piper (and Tom Steller and several other dear people at BBC).


[the first post with this same title was in October 2009]

Manton on “desiring God” (long before John Piper)

Careful reading of the following quotation will yield much reward. Here, puritan Thomas Manton reminds us that God is content and happy in Himself, and the one who comes to know God (and love what He loves) will share in this great happiness. Manton, and all the puritans really, were “Christian hedonists” long before John Piper smartly coined the phrase. Manton also takes a poke at those who think (wrongly) that the way of holiness is an unhappy path (far from the truth!) — so if that’s you, read this twice and reconsider!
— pdb


“God loves Himself, and acts for Himself, and pursueth His own glory. Now when the word of God breaks in upon the heart, we pursue the same design with God. Men are prejudiced against a course of holiness; it seems to look upon them with a sour and austere face. Surely God loves a pleasant life; whoever is miserable, He hath a full contentment. Doth He that made all thinks want [lack] true joy and contentment? Who should have happiness if God hath not? Now when we learn God’s statutes, we come to be conformed to the nature of God; we love what He loves, and hate what He hates, and then we begin to live the life of God. The happiness of God lieth in loving Himself, enjoying Himself, and acting for His own glory; and this is the fruit of grace, to teach us to live as God lives, to do as God doth; to love Him and enjoy Him as our chiefest good; and to glorify Him as our utmost end.”
— Sermon on Psalm 119:12 (I:99; emphasis added).