April Reading: Velvet Steel

Poetry has grown on me lately. It’s hard to read others’ poetry and appreciate it like the author did when they wrote it, but I can like it for my own reasons.

Velvet Steel by John Piper is a collection of poems written for Noël Piper, his wife. You get to see the sweet, the serious, the painful, and the happy.

Here were some of the poems I especially liked:

  • Just tell me when to pack
  • Wo brennt die liebe immer fort
  • Pity millionaires
  • Paradise still cursed
  • None but you
  • Roots
  • This marriage: old or younger
  • Going for Gold
  • Take us to yourself together

Slow down when you read it; you’ll get to see more of a husband’s heart toward his wife.

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February Reading: Seeing And Savoring Jesus Christ

I’ve been working through Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ for a while now. Since I hadn’t really read much in February, I thought I’d finish it real quick to make good on my resolution.

I kind of liked the book

You know some books are so engaging that you get sucked in and barely have enough time to breath between chapters? This wasn’t one of those for me.

Honestly, I don’t remember a lot of it. Stretching a book out over a month or two always leaves me wishing I had finished it faster. There were good chapters and less interesting ones. The Tough Side was one of my favorites. I was surprised at how quick the book went by. Short chapters will do that for you. I really loved the prayers.

The afterword should have been first.

The afterword was so helpful describing Piper’s purpose that I wish he had put it first. The way it framed everything in the (sadly) preceding chapters made it all seem to light up with understanding. But it was such a struggle to make it through! If it had been first, the vision he cast would have drawn me along, instead of leaving me wanting things that weren’t there. And the foreword seemed to be just right for finishing the book. Just swap them.

It’s a good lens.

This book is clearly not a substitute for actually reading about Jesus within the Biblical context. Every chapter reminds you of where all this stuff comes from. It could be described as a lens: helpful for correcting vision and seeing things you didn’t before, but not the object you’re looking at. And it embraces that vision, trying to guide you to appreciate the Jesus of the Bible more on every page. So…

Read this book, then read the Bible.

Actually see and savor Jesus Christ. That’s why Pastor John wrote it.

More Books!

I was ordering my dad a birthday present and discovered that it cost 1/3 of the price on Amazon as opposed to Borders. So I bought 2 more books for myself.

Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters
by Tim Keller

And…

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
by William Zinsser

So hopefully the blog will get more interesting to read. 🙂

On a related note, Bryan Dewire is the guy to talk to if you’re ever looking for a book recommendation. Counterfeit Gods was his non-Piper pick, but The Pleasures of God was the first thing out of his mouth.

Hanging On To Green

As the sun was flashing between the trees, it’s light making shapes on the road, the cold [!!] air made everything seem so clear. The trees were hanging onto green, and I was struck by what was said by Pastor John in the Q&A at the DG natcon.

Romans 1:18-20

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

What a grace that day was, that God would reveal Himself to us and withhold His righteous wrath.

Swords Are For Killing

Pastor John Piper shares a good word about the sword of the Spirit over at the DG blog:

In New Testament times swords were not for digging, shaving, or whittling. They were for killing. The only reason Peter cut off Malchus’s ear was that he missed (John 18:10).

But Herod didn’t miss: “He killed James the brother of John with the sword” (Acts 12:2).

Many saints have felt the full force of the sword: “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword” (Hebrews 11:37). So it was and will be: “If anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain” (Revelation 13:10).

That’s what swords are for. So when Paul calls the word of God the “sword of the Spirit” in Ephesians 6:17, he is serious—something must be put to death. And it is not people. Christians don’t kill people to spread our faith; we die to spread our faith.

The link in Paul’s mind is given in Romans 8:13.

If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

The word of God is the sword of the Spirit. The Sword is for putting to death. And by the Spirit we put to death our sinful deeds. So I conclude that the way we kill our sins is with the Spirit’s sword, the word of God.

All temptations to sin have power by lying. The are “deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22). They tell us that the pleasure of the sin is worth it. The killing blow against these lies is the power of God’s truth. Hence the sword of the Spirit, God’s word, is the weapon to use.

As John Owen said, “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.” That is what swords are for, especially the Bible.