No people ever rise higher than their idea of God

In a sermon summarizing the book of JUDGES, Mark Dever included this wonderful quotation from the late Dr James M. Boice, which explains our culture today — as well as our often unrealistic expectations of it….

No people ever rise higher than their idea of God, and conversely, a loss of the sense of God’s high and awesome character always involves a loss of a people’s moral 1426724_35081700values and even what we commonly call humanity. We are startled by the disregard for human life that has overtaken large segments of the western world, but what do we expect when countries such as ours openly turns their back upon God? We deplore the breakdown of moral standards, but what do we expect when we have focused our worship services on ourselves and our own often trivial needs rather than on God? Our view of God affects what we are and do…

(taken from Dr Boice’s sermons on Psalms, Vol. 3, p. 912)

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]