Magnificence Magnified

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Luke 1:46-47

What is Mary saying? What does it mean to magnify the Lord?

In a sermon, John Piper suggested that the word “magnify” can be used in two different senses. It can mean to make something appear greater than it is. My mother does this each time she reaches for her magnifying glass to make words appear greater than they actually are on the page.

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Another meaning of the word is to make something that seems small appear as big as it really is. When we look through the lens of a telescope it is for the purpose of making some barely visible pinpoint become more of what it really is. Through a telescope, pinpoints of light in the sky suddenly appear with substance — they are no longer lights but large planets with shape and contours clearly visible. Features and details that were previously unseen explode with brilliance and glory through the powerful lens.

Mary knew that she was not being called to be a microscope for God but a telescope! As she pondered God – His ways, His strength, His plan, His timing, His willingness to use a humble girl—His greatness became clearer and clearer in her own heart. He became for her more of what He truly is! With God magnified in her life–fear, doubt, and shame were minimized.

That experience is available to us as well. When God is magnified in our hearts, the things that are truly small stop appearing larger than they really are. Let’s put away our magnifying glasses and stop looking at small things. There is a God of enormous proportion ruling the universe—One that is exponentially magnificent. As we see Him for what He really is, we will say with the psalmist, “Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together!”

Great and Glorious God, give us eyes to see you as you really are—exalted above all things. Forgive us for seeing you as small and our problems and selves as great. Have mercy and give us clear sight that spills over in great rejoicing and praise to your name forever more. AMEN

John Piper is Bad

Those who know me know how much I have been influenced by the teaching of John Piper.  This video pokes a little fun at him and is too funny!  Take a look!
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-GxkAJ1OBU]

What’s better than life?

I began my morning reading the Mission Network News report.  As I scanned the stories, this one from Africa caught my eye.  The study of Acts has tenderized my heart once again to the truth that the spread of the good news of Christ comes at great cost.  Therefore, it is news of great worth!

Two Christians killed in Northern Nigeria

Nigeria (MNN) — Voice of the Martyrs Canada reports the deaths of two young Christian men in Nigeria. According to a Compass Direct report, the pair died at the hands of Muslims militants in Kaduna state. Local Christians believe these two murders are an effort to wipe out Christianity from northern Nigeria and stop ministry growth. Although the government is trying to initiate dialogue between the two faith groups, their efforts have been undermined by the wave of violent attacks on Christians.

Full story: http://www.MNNonline.org/article/10522

My mind considered the stories of Stephen who was the first Christian martyr and James who was beheaded for his faith in Christ.  These saints and others seemed to understand what the Psalmist meant when he penned the words, “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” (Ps. 63:3)

The martyrs all believed Christ was worth more than life, more than falling in love, more than marrying and having children, more than seeing their children grow up, more than making a name for themselves, more than having the dream spouse, the dream house, and the dream cruise.  Christ to them was worth more than all their plans and dreams.  They all said, “It is better to be cut off in the midst of my dreams, if I might gain Christ.” ((John Piper, “Life’s Blood,” Tabletalk December 2001, p. 53))

Christ is the treasure that is better than life!  He is real life.

We Have One Precious Life

remote_tv (Small) It’s the “new” TV season.  Since for me, Fall no longer means an excitement about returning to school–new pencils, new notebooks and book bags, I find myself anticipating and being excited by the promise of new Television shows!  I watch the promos and try to figure if House is going to conflict with anything else I want to view.  I plan what will be taped for later and what I will watch now.  Then I begin to wonder:

What will happen with Meredith and McDreamy?

What will fill the void left by Gilmore Girls?

Will Kitty and the Senator get together?

How will I be able to enjoy Survivor China and attend Choir Practice and ESL too?

What’s up with this Gossip Girls?

Into the scheduling excitement of the new season and of planning my living around what is airing on the tube — I read this Piper devotion.  Well, for sure it made me turn ET right off last night!

“If all other variables are equal, your capacity to know God deeply will probably diminish in direct proportion to how much television you watch.  There are several reasons for this.  One is that television reflects American culture at its most trivial.  And a steady diet of triviality shrinks the soul. 

You get used to it.  It starts to seem normal…If you watch fifty TV ads each night, you may forget there is such a thing as wisdom.  TV seldom inspires great thoughts or great feelings with glimpses of great Truth.  God is the great, absolute, all shaping Reality.  If He gets any air time, He is treated as an opinion. 

There is no reverence.  No trembling.God and all He thinks about the world is missing.  Cut loose from God, everything goes down.  It isn’t just what TV does to us with its rivers of emptiness; it is what TV keeps us from doing.  Do you ever ask, “What could I accomplish that is truly worthwhile if I did not watch TV?” ((John Piper, Pierced By the Word, Multnomah Publishers 2003, 77-78.))

Do I really want to spend this one precious life passive in front of a screen rather than actively before the face of God? 

 “Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body.  If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light.  Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don’t get musty and murky.  Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room.”  (Luke 11:33-36, The Message)

Lord, may this be a new season of love and devotion toward you!

Soul Satisfied

dangerous-duty.jpgI say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you”…in your Presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forvermore.”   Psalm 16:2; 11

I pondered this verse this morning–quizzing myself about the extent to which it was true in my own life.  While reflecting on this same Psalm Sam Storms stated,  “Everything without God is pathetically inferior to God without everything.

Or as C. S. Lewis put it, “he who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only” ( The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses,  p. 31).

The Fountain of God’s Mercy

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Mike and I just returned from a trip to The Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville, North Carolina.   I had looked forward to this trip since September when I first heard that John Piper would be teaching Romans 12-13.covetrees He began teaching chapters from Romans starting in the summer of 2001 with “The Great Eight–Romans 8”  and then  “God’s Word has not Fallen–Romans 9-11”.  It would be impossible to overstate the impact that these teachings have had on my own thinking and teaching.  This seminar entitled The Mercies of God and the Transformed Christian Mind” was stunning!  I came away awed by the mercy of God to the church of our day–to allow us to have a Paul like thinker in our own time–how marvelous!  It was an immeasurable Piperprivilege to sit under the passionate exposition of God’s Word by Dr. John Piper–that five hours of teaching left me hungering for more!  There were about 500 of us gathered in the beautiful mountain retreat and the teaching bathed us all in the richest — most hope filled truths of Scripture.    CAW9W7JD

Here is a sprinkling of the heart provoking teaching and questions that were addressed in this wonderful get away weekend:

  • What is wrong with the human mind that it needs to be renewed?
  • When did God become completely and totally for me?
  • God’s words do not just declare something they constitute something.
  • Christianity is not a will power religion–it is a passionate relationship.
  • When God calls, no one says, “No!”
  • Our bodies were not intended to be used to impress others with how we look they were intended to be used to make God look good!
  • Our bodies were not made to show off muscles–they were made to show off mercy!
  • Let your body show what you think about God!
  • “Good” and “Evil” are objective realities that exist apart from my preferences.
  • The inner life of our preferences is to be brought into conformity with external objective truth not vice versa!
  • Mercy in my life toward the undeserving is the best way to show the world that my God is Mercy!
  • What is acceptable to God?  Himself!
  • I was created to show something to the world–the world is not impressed with seeing mirrors of themselves–we will seize the day when we stop showing the mean – spirited judgmental face of law driven religion and begin to show the world our tears.
  • When you take a log out or your own eye–it hurts and tears begin to flow–the world needs to see our tears.
  • The main feature of a renewed mind is that it is radically Christ centered.
  • Faith looks away from itself to another.
  • Our worth consists in treasuring the worth of Christ–our significance consists in savoring the significance of Christ
  • Faith is a gift given to obliterate pride!

the Cove May these words and others not be just type marks on a page–may God write them deeply in my heart and mind so that being transformed, the world may see how great is the mercy of my God!

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers,

in view of God’s mercy

to offer your bodies as

living sacrifices, holy

and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of

worship.”  Romans 12:1

The Goal of the Gospel

Until the gospel events of Good Friday and Easter and the gospel Gospelpromises of justification and eternal life lead you to behold and embrace God himself as your highest joy, you have not embraced the gospel of God. You have embraced some of his gifts. You have rejoiced over some of his rewards. You have marveled at some of his miracles.  But you have not yet been awakened to why the gifts, the rewards, and the miracles have come. They have come for one great reason: that you might behold forever the glory of God in Christ, and by beholding become the kind of person who delights in God above all things, and by delighting display his supreme beauty and worth with ever-increasing brightness and bliss forever. 

John Piper, God is the Gospel, p. 38