The Blazing Center and Tolerance

October 17, 2007

These are my notes from a John Piper series for youth, “The Blazing Center.” I suggest reading this with a Bible close at hand, there are lots of references to look up!

Session 1
John Piper’s Mission statement: To spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.
What two things was God creating in John Piper during his teenage years?

1. A deep longing to be happy
2.
The knowledge that God really loves God’s glory.

The universe was created to declare God’s glory. (Psalm 19:1)
The cross was for Jesus to bear our sins and demonstrate God’s righteousness. God’s glory wasn’t compromised in taking away our sin, He vindicated it by slaying His son.

If we don’t love the glory of God, we’re sinning.
We must seek God in order to be happy.


Session 2

The definition of love we came up with: 1 Corinthians 13; putting the highest good of others before our own. The world’s love is self-centered. One is selfless, the other is selfish.

  1. Jesus is coming to be glorified and marveled at (2 Thessalonians 1:10).
  2. A microscope makes tiny things look big. A telescope helps us see big things more clearly. We ought to magnify God like we are using a telescope.
  3. God alone will satisfy our soul most deeply for the longest period of time. Anything else wouldn’t be eternal satisfaction. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. It is more loving for God to show his glory than to save us from suffering.
  4. John Piper’s definition of the world’s love – To be made much of. People who think that don’t know what love is! Real love is not making much of someone, love is doing whatever you have to do in order to enthrall someone with what will make them happy forever!

How is God’s zeal for his glory not loving? We are most satisfied when God is glorified – I know that for a fact.
We were not made for mirrors. We were made to look at amazing things.
John 17:24 says, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”
Conclusion: What’s best for us is to see God’s glory.
The pain of our lives can become the moment in which our joy becomes the greatest.


Session 3

  1. What is the central question in this series? Can God’s glory and our joy really be one?
  2. Why is it so important to begin with God’s glory? Until we feel and think God is central in the universe, we will distort everything to man-centeredness.
  3. How does Philippians 1:20-21 (as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain) support the statement, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him?” We want Christ to be honors in our lives. Christ is more satisfied in our death when we are satisfied in him in our dying.
  4. John Piper’s modification of the definition of hedonism: Rather than a life devoted to pleasure, hedonism is a life devoted to pleasure in God. This modification is important because without it we’d be devoted to pleasing ourselves.

Let great things become springboards for God’s glory, and don’t idolize them. Jesus makes things like LotR look ridiculous because of his power.


Session 4

Evil: Forsaking God and doing other things (Jeremiah 2:9-13)
Sin is exchanging God’s glory for something else.

Eight Biblical Arguments for Christian Hedonism:

  1. God commands us to be happy and pursue our joy (Psalm 100:2, Philippians 4:4, Ps. 32:11)
  2. God threatens terrible things if we will not be satisfied (Deut. 28:47-8)
  3. The nature of faith teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God. (Hebrews 11:6)
  4. The nature of evil teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God (Jeremiah 2:11-12)
  5. The nature of conversion teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God (Matthew 13:44)
  6. The nature of self-denial teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God (John 12:24-25)
  7. The demand to love people in the Bible teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God. (Acts 20:34-35).
  8. God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him.

Evil embraces frustration.
Not serving God with gladness is a sin.
The way to come to God is not to meet His needs, but ours.
Jesus is the treasure of our life.
Self-denial is denying yourself to have God.

Session 5

If you pursue your joy in God, you will be a loving person.
You cannot be a loving person unless you pursue your joy in God.

2 Corinthians 8:1-4, 8.
Love is the overflow of abundant joy in God that meets the needs of others.
Love originates in the grace of God and involves more than sheer willpower.
Even in affliction and poverty, joy abounded (v.2)
They gave more than they could out of love.

1 Corinthians 13:3 – we need to have the right motive to love.
The Bible commands emotion.


Session 6

More Biblical descriptions of love:
2 Corinthians 9:7-8 – giving is loving if you are cheerful.
The battle is not first at the level of behavior.
The battleground is what makes you glad.
Acts 20:35 – the most controversial word in this verse is “remember.” (it we can’t be motivated by the blessing of giving, Paul would be a bad teacher. It won’t contaminate our motives).
You fight with this promise.
Luke 14:12-14 – be motivated by the expansion of your joy as you draw other people into it.

Get outside your comfort circle – shame often holds us back.
For love’s sake say no to pornography – fight for a superior pleasure.
Do something radical for the poor.
Love will not happen without joy. Serving with joy gives an advantage. The battle is won by fighting for joy.

Session 7

All of us will experience suffering eventually.

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him especially when we maintain joy in Him in suffering.

Love really shines as beautiful when you press on loving others even when it’s really heard and really costly.

The theme of Hebrews is the sustaining power of joy in our suffering.

i. Hebrews 10:32-34 – you have a better possession – his name is Jesus.

ii. Hebrews 11:24-26 – the reproach of Christ is riches… because we are looking to the reward.

iii. Hebrews 12:1-2 – How did Jesus survive the lashes? There was JOY set before him.

iv. Hebrews 13:12-14 – here we have no lasting city.

Make Christ your treasure so you will endure in faith to the end.

“When we are suffering, we are taking up our crosses- where people die with nails through their hands and hang for three days for the birds to eat their eyes.”

Session 8

Giving up your life to save others, living on the cutting edge, is COOL!

The Story of Jack Lucas:

0N D-DAY PLUS ONE, Lucas and his team were making their way toward the Japanese airstrip on the plain northeast of Mount Suribachi. They had stopped to pound an enemy pillbox and had jumped for cover into one of two parallel trenches that led from it through the soft volcanic ash sand that covers the sulfurous island. To their surprise the Marines discovered “there were a11 these Japs in this other trench. Eleven of them. We opened fire. There wasn’t time to put your weapon to your shoulder. We just fired off hand.

” My rifle jammed. I was looking down at my rifle trying to get the damned thing unjammed, and when I did I saw the grenades. I was the first to see them. I hollored ’grenades,’ and I dove for them.

“I smashed my rifle butt against one and drove it into the volcanic ash, and fell on it, and pulled the other one under me. I was there to fight, and we were there to win. What you have to do you do to win. It was not in me to turn to run.

“That volcanic ash and the good Lord saved me. If I’d been on hard ground that thing would have split me in two. There was just one explosion. One was all I could handle, and I had trouble handling that one. It blew me over on my back, and it punctured my right lung, but it never knocked me out.” Lucas also sustained injuries to his thigh, neck, chin, and head.

The rest of the team sprinted down the trench, turned and fired down the other. Lucas lay on his back, his right arm twisted so far underneath him he though it had been blown off. His mouth and throat filled with blood, and he might have drowned if he had lost consciousness. He kept moving his left hand to show that he was alive. “That,” he says, “was the only thing I could move.” A Marine from another unit came up and Lucas, barely recognizable as an American, was afraid he would be shot, but the solider called for a Corpsman.

While the medic worked on him, a Japanese soldier popped up from a hole in the trench. The Corpsman shot him. A mortar barrage walked up to the edge of the trench and delayed the stretcher-bearers. As they hurried off, one stumbled and dropped his end. Lucas split his head open on a rock. “I looked up at him and smiled to let him know 1 knew that what he was trying to do, and I appreciated it. I could see he was exhausted.”

On the evacuation beach a Corpsman covered Lucas with a poncho for shelter from the elements. “I thought, ’Oh, Lord, I’m dead,’” he says. “Of course that morphine took hold, and I passed out.” The broken, bloody, shrapnel-riddled soldier the stretcher-bearers hustled away had been 17 for less than a week.

“Maybe,” a surgeon said, “he was too young, and too tough to die.” That was offshore aboard the hospital ship Samaritan, when it began to look as if Lucas would live. Before the doctors were done, he’d go under the knife 22 times. There are still about 200 pieces of scrap iron in him, some the size of .22-caliber bullets. Lucas sets off airport metal detectors…

—-

We are living for something 10,000 times more valuable than winning the Second World War. We should be like Jack Lucas, ready to die in the place of others, but for the cause of Christ.
Suffering is not only the price you will have to pay in the pathway of obedience sustained by joy in God, suffering is also designed by God to intensify y our joy in Him and refine us like gold. During suffering, we’re meant to fall into God.

“God is in control, we don’t know all the answers. God knows, and someday we’ll know. Because of their deaths, God will be glorified.” – Mr. Backstrom, after 3 of his sons were killed by a drunk driver.

—–

My notes don’t do the series justice. The Blazing Center is a GREAT series, and if you can find it, I highly recommend you watching/listening to it.

Before Eid we watched a video called “Bluestate: Tolerance For All” as a family. It was from the SAICFF (San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival) 2005, and was set in 2010, in a “bluestate,” where there was supposed “tolerance for all.” However, in order to achieve tolerance, the government decided to be intolerant of Christianity. It was sad watching it, and the whole time a single question was nagging at my mind: How long will it be before the US really becomes like that?” And it scared me.

It’s like saying there are no absolutes. In saying that, you’re saying an absolute. In tolerance for all, there are somethings that won’t be tolerated in order to have “tolerance.” The definition of tolerance:

tolerance: the acceptance of the differing views of other people, e.g. in religious or political matters, and fairness toward the people who hold these different views.

Watching that movie made me think, “yeah, right, tolerance…” I pray the US will never fall to such things.

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