I’m tired. I’m wrapping up a 15 hour day that started at 5am this morning, and ended with a dodgeball game with some kids in the S.A.Y. Yes program. After eight months with these young people, we ended our season of ministry tonight by sharing with them some of the graces of God that are evident in their lives. It’s been a joyful season and I pray that it bears eternal fruit in the lives of these young men and their families. [Read more…] about Working for Food that Never Perishes, Part 1
My heart is full. Very full. It’s full for a number of reasons that I’ll try to get to over the next couple of weeks, Lord-willing. For now, I’ll start with my wife’s van breaking down on Friday afternoon. That may not sound like such a great thing, but I think you’ll find that I have a good reason to be thankful after I tell you what happened.
Before I tell you about it though, let’s rewind to my teenage years, and my bright orange Volkswagon Beetle. She costed all of $300, didn’t run, had a big hole in the floorboard, and no carpet.
Yesterday morning at 2am the world lost a good man and servant of Jesus Christ. My good friend Larry Agnew went home, and while we remain here, he is the presence of God, where there are pleasures forevermore! How good for him! I praise God for this brother. He was a blessing to me and many others. He is one more reason for me to press on in faith (Heb 12:1–2). For me, Larry will be remembered as a man that invested his life in others and spent his life for the sake of the Gospel (he traveled one last time to his beloved Romania less than a month before his death). I didn’t know Larry as well as I would have liked to have known him; our friendship was short-lived. I will always treasure the Tuesday mornings that he would stop in my office to chat with me about Jesus, life, and whatever else was stirring around in his heart. Larry was a man of faith, and a passionate lover of Jesus. He will be missed.
Twenty years ago on June 3, likely around the same time, 2am, my older brother Jerry committed suicide. His death affected my family and continues to affect my family in ways that words are insufficient to express. His death has been one of the most defining events in my life, and I suppose that even today I am affected in some ways by his death so long ago. When Jerry died, I was eleven years old and very much naïve to many evils of the world. In many ways I was not prepared for the wave about to pass over my family. Jerry’s death was the second death of a child that my parent’s experienced, so it was especially hard for them to lose him. In the years that followed we treaded some very deep waters. Looking back on it now, I am so grateful to God for his grace on my family. What we experienced was enough to tear a family apart, but by God’s grace, we held on, and are stronger today. Without a doubt, the wounds have left some visible scars on my family, but God has shown himself faithful to us.
As I’ve reflected on the death of these two people I’ve seen God’s goodness in Larry’s legacy and his faithfulness in upholding my family. I’ve decided not to mourn. In Larry’s death, I am overwhelmed by joy at knowing that he is in the presence of the living God, experiencing unimaginable delight. For Jerry, God has shown that he has been present in the darkest moments of my life. To celebrate God’s goodness and faithfulness I made a short video of my children. Celebrate life!
The following is a short video of Jerry a few years before his death. This is the way that he is remembered by those who love him. He brought light when he entered a room. His smile forced a smile from everyone he encountered.
I recently wrote a reaction paper for school for this seminar. The seminar was a huge benefit to me. As I state in the paper, it was something I’d needed for a while. When you get a minute, check out the seminar. In the meantime, here’s the paper I wrote with my thoughts on how it’s helped me.
A HUNGER FOR GOD:
Desiring God Through Fasting and Prayer
This is the seminar that my soul needed. For quite some time now I have been searching for material of this nature. Last year around this time I bought a couple books on prayer — just trying to figure out what my own prayer life should look like. So this seminar served me in a much more profound way than simply helping me to write this paper.
My initial thoughts on this seminar have to do with how much Bible was used in the presentation of the material. I wrote down all of the Bible references that were given, and I have at least 53 of them. I find it typical of Pastor John Piper to do this. Many, if not all of his books are saturated with Bible. In a world of ideas and opinions, it truly is refreshing to read books and go to seminars that find their ground in the Word.
Another aspect of Dr. Piper’s writing that has always caught my attention is that of his organization of thoughts. And the material presented was no exception. The introduction included two biographical illustrations, which highlighted the place of communion with God in the lives of John G. Paton and John Newton. Following that was another biographical example to demonstrate the structure of communion with God as seen in the life of John Owen. Expanding the introduction further, Piper opens up the Bible to examine a variety of passages relating to the promise of the presence of God in our fellowship with him.
He then broke the seminar into three sections: Pursuing Communion With God Through Meditation on God’s Word, Pursuing Communion With God Through Prayer, and Pursuing Communion With God Through Fasting. Walking through each of these, Dr. Piper returned again and again to the Word to show that the material being presented, although organized by him, were not his original ideas. He demonstrated well that the means of our communion with God is exemplified in God’s Holy Word. As we walked through passage after passage, we were given a feast of Bread and Living Water upon which to eat and drink.
Without discounting the importance and impact on me of all three means of communing with God, I think the section that had the most impact for me was the section of communing with God through prayer. This is probably because I know I don’t do it enough. That said, it is something I am constantly working on to discipline myself to never let the lines of communion get clogged. For example, currently my schedule has not been very conducive to early morning devotions, so I have had to rethink how it is I will get that with the Lord. So I’ve tried to be much more intentional in taking the little moments in the day to go to the Word. I also try to be constant in prayer, lifting each moment up as an offering to God, depending on him for everything from maintaing my composure when someone gets out of line with me to helping me type the write words in each email. And this, I believe, was the main thrust of the entire seminar — dependance on God.
Whether it be by meditating on God’s Word, or prayer, or that very special act of denying yourself fleshly pleasures, a life of utter dependance on God for everything is the essence of A Hunger for God: Desiring God Through Fasting and Prayer.
It was nice to receive this reminder, as well as the biblical foundation of what communion with God is. As is also fairly typical with Dr. Piper’s material, there wasn’t a whole lot of “how-to” on the topic. But I think that that’s what makes it so special. His exultation in the Word shows you where to go to find the how! And at the same time brings about a deep sense of gratitude and worship to God for men devoted to the Word and prayer. May my life be marked as one lived continually with a Hunger for God.