“This Temple Will Be Raised” – A Good Friday Poem

The people of Israel were familiar with a temple being destroyed and rebuilt. When Jesus tells the people in John 2:19, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” the disciples later realized he was speaking about his body as a temple that would be destroyed and raised. Here is a Good Friday poem focusing on that temple motif:

jesus on the cross“This Temple Will Be Raised”
April 14, 2017

Seven years it took to build
The temple of the Lord,
That sacred space
And dwelling place
Where blood and life were poured.

But when the people saw the curse
That prophets warned would fall,
They strode the path
Of holy wrath,
And bitter was the gall.

Many years would pass before
The house, which fell by flame,
Was built to stand
In promised land
Once more for Yahweh’s name.

But all the blood of bulls and lambs
For sin could not atone,
So God the Son
Said, “It is done,”
And drank the cup alone.

Upon the hill they crucified
The temple of the Lord,
His body dead
Where, in our stead,
His blood and life were poured.

The people ’round the cross beheld
The one they deemed a fraud,
Who took the path
Of holy wrath,
The spotless Lamb of God.

Now he who once said, “In three days,
This temple will be raised,”
Who by the cross
Brought gain not loss,
Should be forever praised.

My 10 Favorite Reads in 2016

So many great books published, too little time to read them all. In no particular order, here are my favorite nonfiction reads this year. Almost all of them were published in 2016.

  1. Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord? A Biblical Theology of the Book of Leviticus, by L. Michael Morales.
  2. The Crucified King: Atonement and Kingdom in Biblical and Systematic Theology, by Jeremy R. Treat.
  3. You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, by James K. A. Smith.
  4. A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness, by John Piper.
  5. Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical, by Timothy Keller.
  6. Devoted to God: Blueprints for Sanctification, by Sinclair B. Ferguson.
  7. Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel, by Ray C. Ortlund.
  8. God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ, by Stephen J. Wellum.
  9. Impossible People: Christian Courage and the Struggle for the Soul of Civilization, by Os Guinness.
  10. Unparalleled: How Christianity’s Uniqueness Makes It Compelling, by Jared C. Wilson.

“Come, Thou Word” – A Christmas Hymn

The following lyrics of “Come, Thou Word” were composed to the tune of “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”

“Come, Thou Word”
December 20-21, 2016

Verse 1
Come, Thou Word, which with the Father
and the Spirit ever dwelled
And hath taken flesh to save us
from our sin and death and hell.
We behold Thee in Thy manger,
Fully God and fully man,
Myst’ry of the ages former,
Now revealed in Bethlehem.

Verse 2
Come, Thou King, whose birth the angel
Sang to shepherds in the night.
‘Round them came a host of heaven,
‘Round them shone a holy light.
“See I bring good news of great joy,
So no longer be afraid:
Christ the Lord, the promised Savior,
Unto you is born this day.”

Verse 3
Come, Thou Son, whose arms shall carry
Those fast-bound in chains of sin.
‘Mid this exile, ruined sinners
Shall be raised to life again.
He was born for our redemption,
O’er the manger loomed the Tree.
There in David’s little city
Lay the one who set us free.

“See This Child”–An Advent Poem for 2016

“See This Child”
December 6, 2016

See this child for whom all things
Are made and by whom held.
This mighty one, begotten Son,
Has come with men to dwell.

See this child with undefiled
Nature now asleep.
This righteous one, beloved Son,
Will scorn and murder reap.

See this child with tiny hands,
Who cries and must be fed.
This lowly one, a virgin’s Son,
Is everlasting bread.

See this child with infant smile
Whom heavenly host proclaim.
This worthy one, the royal Son,
Shall be for sinners slain.

See this child in swaddling cloths
And in a manger laid.
This gentle one, the promised Son,
Has come to kill the grave.

Happy Birthday, Jim Hamilton! Eleven Lessons He’s Taught Me

Today is April 11, 2016, and Jim Hamilton turns 42 years old. Eleven years ago in 2005, a month before I turned 22, I began my first semester of seminary and met him through taking his course on the book of Isaiah. In God’s kind providence, that course and subsequent interactions with Jim impacted my mind and heart in ways that still reverberate to this day.

I praise God for Jim’s example and service for Christ, for I know he’s impacted so many thousands of people over the years. In 2010 our family moved to Louisville so that I could pursue a PhD in Biblical Studies under Jim’s supervision, and in 2013 I was honored to be his first doctoral student to walk the stage.

I’ve learned so much from Jim. He has been a source of encouragement and counsel. At different times he has served as my professor, doctoral supervisor, and pastor. And I’m glad to call him a friend.

As I think about how Jim has been a blessing in my life, there are numerous lessons he’s taught me, either out loud or with his example. Since I’ve known him for eleven years, here are eleven things, in no particular order, that have affected the way I think about my faith, my family, my studies, and my ministry.

 

On Writing: Make the most of your time, writing during your most productive days/hours.

On Parenting: Be a fun dad, because the kids aren’t young for long.

On Reading the Bible: Read the Bible over and over again, and memorize as much as you can.

On Manhood: Be a man who pursues purity in heart and life.

On Marriage: Be unashamed at how much you love your wife.

On Fiction: Read Harry Potter.

On Reading the Old Testament: We should read the Old Testament like the apostles did.

On Languages: In biblical languages, as in sports, fundamentals matter.

On the Academic Life: Keep your head down and be faithful in your work.

On Preaching: Help the congregation see and feel their need for the passage.

On the Point of It All: What matters most is God’s glory–in salvation through judgment, of course.

John Piper Is 70 Today

john-piper-desiring-god-facebookHappy birthday, John Piper!

Piper was born on January 11, 1946, which means he turns 70 years old today. His writing and preaching have been a means of God’s grace to me for more than ten years now, so I wanted to reflect on this influence as Piper marks a milestone.

During College
A college roommate was once reading and raving about a book called Desiring God. I asked him, “Who’s John Piper?” And after reading its subtitle, my follow-up question was “What’s a Christian hedonist?” As far as I knew, any kind of hedonism was a thing to avoid! And I was fairly antagonistic to the notion of God’s comprehensive and meticulous sovereignty, so Piper’s theology seemed like a thing to avoid too.

During Seminary
In 2005 I started seminary. My first semester included a course on the book of Isaiah, taught by Jim Hamilton, and during the weeks of that course my view of God’s sovereignty underwent a revolution. In conjunction with this course I came across another John Piper book, When I Don’t Desire God. The title intrigued me, so I bought it. I don’t remember how quickly I started reading it, but after its first chapter I knew I would be reading other Piper books soon. My next one was Don’t Waste Your LifeThen I read Desiring God, the book on which his resource ministry is based, and nothing would ever be the same.

No doubt about it: the Lord was using the writings of John Piper to change my life. Piper likes to say, “Books don’t change people, paragraphs do–sometimes even sentences.” Okay, fine. For ten years now, the sentences in Piper’s books have been changing me. Reading his books awakened an embrace of this “Christian hedonist” thing he kept talking about. The notions of being satisfied in God and treasuring Christ were paradigm-shifting. I still think the line “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him” is one of the most insightful and important truths ever uttered. Add to that Piper’s slightly nuanced version of the catechetical statement, “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever.” Amen, and amen!

During Ministry
While I was in seminary I began pastoring a church. During those years I read Let the Nations Be GladFuture Grace, The Pleasures of God, Finally Alive, God Is the Gospel, The Justification of God, The Supremacy of God in Preaching, Spectacular Sins, This Momentary Marriage, and Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, though probably not in that order. Whether he was talking about how missions serves the ultimate goal of worship, or how the gift of God himself in the gospel is what makes heaven and justification and eternal life worth having, or how God is the most joyful of all beings in the universe, or how we combat the promises of sin with the superior promises of God, I constantly found his books eye-opening and enriching. He brought the Bible to bear clearly and powerfully on any subject he addressed.

On Preaching and Poetry
If I had to choose my favorite Piper sermon, I simply couldn’t do it. But I remember when Piper was still going through Romans as the Preaching Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. For eight-and-a-half years he exposited “The Greatest Letter Ever Written,” and on December 24, 2006 he completed the series. I listened to that final message and rejoiced at such a faithful expository ministry. It’s easier for me to choose my favorite Piper poems: “God Answers,” “Love Her More and Love Her Less,” and “Justified for Evermore” (found at the end of Future Grace). And I love his poetic books like The Innkeeper and The Misery of Job and Mercy of God. We need theology that doesn’t just instruct the mind but stokes the affections.

On Legacy
John Piper’s influence on my life is incalculable. I hope the Lord gives him many more years to write and preach, but he has already left a legacy that will mark him as one of the most significant people whom the Lord raised up to equip and challenge the Church. If you’d like to learn more about John Piper, Justin Taylor wrote an excellent dissertation on him called “John Piper: The Making of a Christian Hedonist.”