John Piper on How the Psalms Change You

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John Piper on How the Psalms Change You

Shaped by God

Thinking and Feeling in Tune with the Psalms

by John Piper

Coming soon

God wants your heart.

The whole Bible teaches truth and awakens emotions, but the Psalms are in a category of their own. They do not just awaken heart; they put it in the foreground. They do not just invite our emotions to respond to God’s truth; they put our emotions on display.

SHAPED BY GOD: Thinking and Feeling in Tune with the Psalms, by John PiperThe Psalms are not just commanding; they are contagious. We are not just listening to profound ideas and feelings. We are living among them in their overflow. We touch pillows wet with tears. We hear and feel the unabashed cries of affliction, shame, regret, grief, anger, discouragement, and turmoil. But what makes all this stunningly different from the sorrows of the world is that all of it—absolutely all of it—is experienced in relation to the totally sovereign God.

This book is an invitation. God wants our hearts. He will take them as he finds them. And then, with the healing contagion of the Psalms, he will shape them. Accept his invitation to come.

The miracle of the new birth shows us that the Holy Spirit raises the spiritually dead by giving them new minds and hearts that together believe the gospel, love God, and want to be conformed to Christ. And yet, born-again people are not perfected. They are truly new, truly alive, truly spiritual, but in many ways unformed and immature—just like newborns in our families. So the question for the early Christians—and for us—is this: How does the new mind and the new heart, full of imperfect thinking and feeling, pursue the fullness of right-thinking and the fullness of holy affections? One of the main answers of early church believers was to immerse themselves in the Psalms.

Psalms is the most often-quoted Old Testament book in the New Testament. It was the songbook, poetry book, and meditation book of the church. Alongside the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, Psalms was the book that shaped the thinking and feeling of the first disciples more than any other. It is this shaping power of the Psalms that gets at my aim in this short book. My hope is to simply jump-start, or deepen, that kind of Psalms legacy in your life. I pray for God-centered, Christ-exalting, Psalms-saturated thinking and feeling—because I believe that this kind of thinking and feeling will bear fruit in the kind of living that cares for people and magnifies Christ.
— John Piper

Wilderness Wanderings: The Story Behind the Book

Wilderness Wanderings: The Story Behind the Bookby Stacy Reaoch  /

Recently, all in the same evening, I helped my teenage daughter get ready for her first Homecoming dance and read Spiderman to my 4-year-old son, Micah. Raising four kids whose ages span a decade has given me an interesting—and a shifting—perspective on motherhood. With our youngest I’ve realized that being “late” to potty-train isn’t the end of the world (as my pediatrician says, “I promise you he won’t wear a pull-up to prom”), and it’s not essential to have him reading by age three. With my oldest I’d been the typically over-zealous, type-A parent, determined that a french fry would not touch her lips the first three years of life. I’ve now relaxed to a type-C parent—I think Micah was eating chicken nuggets and fries as soon as he could chew.

Throughout marriage, ministry, and family life, I’ve experienced much joy and blessing, but also heartache. I entered adult life with rose-colored glasses on, thinking everything would work out exactly as I planned. I didn’t anticipate the trials of loneliness, miscarriage, ministry conflict, deferred hopes, and the sheer exhaustion and responsibilities of daily life. Being in ministry has also allowed me to walk through seasons of suffering with others. I’ve been near to friends who’ve experienced depression, infertility, death of loved ones, broken relationships, marriage conflict, and more. Difficulty and suffering fill our lives, yet our hope and joy is found by looking to Jesus for our contentment, rather than ideal circumstances. I pray that my writing will point others to find their satisfaction in Christ instead of whatever else they think might fill that void.

WILDERNESS WANDERINGS: Finding Contentment in the Desert Times of Life, by Stacy ReaochA couple years ago I was in a weekly Bible study that was focusing on the life of Moses and the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness. At the time I was walking down my own dark path, but I felt incredibly encouraged and comforted as I studied the truths of God’s Word. I saw parallels between the Israelites’ discontentment and my own. I was convicted of my lack of gratitude for God’s blessings as I read about the Israelites’ constant whining. I also was given fresh motivation to persevere through difficulty as I saw Moses continue on his rocky path of leadership. Around that time I started writing blog posts for various ministries about things I was learning. As those lessons began to accumulate, I began thinking that I could likely write a small book on this section of Scripture.

Another impetus in writing Wilderness Wanderings was to provide a short, chronological devotional for women who feel too busy to commit to a lengthy inductive study. I’m passionate about Bible study, mostly because I’ve seen it as the primary means God has used to sanctify me and grow my faith. But I also realize that there are seasons of life where it’s difficult to get to a weekly study or commit to one with a lot of homework. I have friends who feel like they’re drowning in piles of laundry and don’t have time (or energy) for an in-depth study. My hope in writing Wilderness Wanderings is that women with a small amount of time could still benefit from a chronological study, whether it be on her lunch break at work or waiting in the carpool line at school. I also hope that others will recognize the relevance of the Old Testament to our lives today. Studies for women often focus on New Testament passages. But God has much to say to us through the richness of His entire Word.

As a side note, writing with four children in our home is a balancing act. The majority of this book was written during two-hour blocks of time I had a couple mornings each week when our youngest was at preschool and my older three were at school. I’d race home from preschool drop-off, pray for the Lord’s blessing on my time and writing, and get to work! I’m continually learning new ways to be efficient, like hiding my phone during those couple hours I have to write so that I won’t be distracted by social media, or running to the glamorous Target café while my daughter is at her gymnastics class to squeeze in one more hour of writing. Although I’m not wishing away the time my youngest is home with me (reading stories to him after lunch is my favorite part of the day), it’s exciting to imagine a day in the next couple years when I’ll have several hours in a row to write!

Check out Stacy’s book here.

Stacy Reaoch

Stacy Reaoch is a pastor’s wife and mother of four. She is passionate about studying the Bible and helping women apply God’s life-changing truths to their daily lives. Stacy has written for various ministries including Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition and Revive Our Hearts. She and her husband, Ben, live in Pittsburgh, PA with their children.

Bodiless Believers: Spiritual Growth Among the Dead in Christ

Bodiless Believers: Spiritual Growth Among the Dead in Christ

Those who die in Christ retain full consciousness of their existence and are immediately made perfect in total moral likeness to Christ

by Albert N. Martin  /

Why has God led this world through the great arc of redemptive history? What has been his ultimate purpose? The great goal of God in redemptive grace has always been and remains nothing less than to glorify himself through the complete restoration of his moral image in those he has chosen to save. And the pattern for that restoration is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ himself.

In Romans 8:29 Paul writes, “those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Paul then goes on to assert that all whom God foreknew (that is, loved beforehand with a distinguishing and purposeful love) he predestined to conformity to Christ. Each such individual ultimately will be glorified, or fully conformed to the moral likeness of Christ in body and soul. J. I. Packer stated these truths most helpfully:

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That No Flesh Should Glory in God’s Presence

That No Flesh Should Glory in God’s Presenceby Charles Fry  /


But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise;
and God hath chosen the weak things of the world
to confound the things which are mighty;
And base things of the world, and things which are
despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not,
to bring to naught things that are;
That no flesh should glory in his presence.

1 Corinthians 1:27–29 (KJV)

Around A.D. 50 the apostle Paul completed his missionary visit to Athens. He then looked to the western horizon and began his journey to Corinth, a city of power and pride. He had confidently determined to arrive in Corinth with only one weapon in his arsenal: the word of the cross, the message of Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2, NASB).

A short time after leaving the Corinthian church, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul wrote to the factious and proud believers of Corinth, rebuking them and reminding them that the gospel leaves no room for arrogance and is diametrically opposed to the so-called “wisdom of the world.” The gospel message, its application by God’s sovereign decree, and the peculiar choice of those whom God would call by it, left no room for pride. Indeed, the gospel permitted “that no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:29, KJV).

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Help Us Choose a Tim Challies Book Cover

Help Us Choose a Tim Challies Book Cover

Help Us Choose a Tim Challies Book Coverby Kevin /

When Boyce College contacted Tim Challies about the possibility of producing a student edition of his book, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity, it didn’t take long for us all to realize it was a great idea.

The original version of the book has more than 270 customer reviews on Amazon, with an average 4.7 out of 5 stars, and we’re hopeful that this new edition will be able to do for high school and college students what the original has done for tens of thousands of others.

Which is the best cover for students? Could you take a moment to help us choose? Check out the gallery, then vote in the poll. We will identify the winning cover by updating this post, as well as on Twitter and Facebook, within the next week. (FYI: the yellow cover is essentially identical to the cover of the original edition, except the Student Edition text has been added.)

Click for larger images.

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All our books come with automatic quantity discounts of up to 20% from our already low website prices. However, if any colleges, schools, or other organizations would like to inquire about significant orders, please use our contact page. Cover and content customizations are also available in some cases.

The Myth of Perfectionism

The Myth of Perfectionismby Charles Fry /


(Today’s post picks up directly from the previous one.)

The Myth of Perfectionism

Another Princeton professor, Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield, wrote hundreds of pages confronting the errors of perfectionism and the idea that saints no longer are sinners. In his essay on “Miserable-Sinner Christianity” (article one), Warfield did a masterful job of showing how throughout Protestant history and across all denominations and confessions, the Protestant church has always held to Luther’s doctrine that the believer is at the same time sinful and justified.

In his day, such a belief was mockingly labeled, “miserable-sinner Christianity.” In his essay, Warfield observed that such Christianity was the only true Christianity! Yet such Christianity was far from being morose, despairing, and joyless. Rather, it was the only kind of Christianity that knew true and unbounding joy and freedom from despair. “Miserable-sinner Christianity” was the only kind of Christianity that faced the reality of sin in the Christian life and at the same time knew the unchanging love of God for his children. Such Christianity also produced genuine humility, as Warfield explained:

It belongs to the very essence of the type of Christianity propagated by the Reformation that the believer should feel himself continuously unworthy of the grace by which he lives… We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only “when we believe.” It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to him or to God through him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in Christian behavior may be. It is always on his “blood and righteousness” alone that we rest.[i]

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At the Same Time Just and a Sinner

At the Same Time Just and a Sinnerby Charles Fry /


At the Same Time Just and a Sinner

Those who have read anything of Luther’s life and theology will be familiar with his phrase, simul iustus et peccator.[i] That is, the true Christian who has trusted Christ alone for salvation is at the same time just before God and also a sinner. Perhaps the chief passage for this truth is found in Romans 7:14–20, where Paul confesses his failure to obey the law of God and to avoid that which he should not do. Yet Paul did not lose his justification before God, for he stood before the majesty of God not by his own record of obedience but by the obedience of Christ.

Luther grasped this reality and believed that a wholehearted embracing of this truth was critical to appropriating the gospel and living in the joy and freedom of the gospel.

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Man’s Inability and the Bondage of the Will

Man’s Inability and the Bondage of the Willby Charles Fry /


Man’s Inability and the Bondage of the Will

It was September of 1524 when the great Humanist scholar, Desiderius Erasmus, published Diatribe, which we mentioned briefly previously in this series. This was Erasmus’ first public attack on Luther’s teaching. In it, he opposed Luther’s view of free will. Erasmus believed that Christian conduct—good morals and right behavior—was the primary way by which people could please God, and he downplayed Luther’s emphasis on salvation being a matter of God’s grace, not man’s works. J.I. Packer and O.R. Johnston have observed that Erasmus did not even consider free will to be an especially significant issue. Instead, Erasmus believed that Luther had blown the doctrine’s importance out of proportion.[i] In other words, Erasmus accused Luther of making much ado about nothing.

Erasmus’ approach seemed humble and self-deprecating, which is often how false teaching comes across as reasonable and acceptable to the general public. But Luther found Erasmus’ attack and his trivialization of free will infuriating. In response, Luther cast off all restraint: he responded by writing his blistering work, On the Bondage of the Will, which attacked the teaching that man’s will is free with respect to salvation.

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Luther on Repentance and Faith

by Charles Fry /


Repentance and Faith

Luther’s definition of the words “repentance” and “faith” reveal a third integral aspect of his understanding of the gospel. He stood against the Roman Catholic Church’s definition of these words that undercut the free gospel of grace. Incorrect definitions of these terms would ruin the entire gospel message. In our day as well, the gospel is often lost because we have vague definitions of these terms—definitions that insert works and human effort back into the gospel. Therefore it is crucial to be clear on what repentance and faith actually mean.

The Roman practice of penance. The Church in Luther’s day had developed a system of penance in which three steps had to be accomplished for the successful penitent to merit forgiveness. First he needed contrition, a lamenting all his known sins. Next came verbal confession, where he had to list all his known sins to a confessor, humiliating himself with sorrow. The final step was satisfaction, where the priest prescribed actions for the penitent to complete in order to pay for his sins. Whatever was missed in this process was to be made up by punishment in purgatory.

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Luther: Justification by Faith Alone

Luther: Justification by Faith Aloneby Charles Fry


Justification by Faith Alone

In our contemporary culture we have little idea of the need to be declared righteous before a holy God, for we are dim to the majesty and holiness of God and therefore have a high estimate of ourselves. Yet Luther rightly understood these things. The majesty of God required man’s perfect obedience to the law, a perfection man could never render. To Luther, therefore, the issue of justification by faith alone was the issue of the day.

Luther saw that a sinner who simply looked to the Lord Jesus by faith alone—by trusting in Christ’s work and not personal performance or supposed righteousness—was freely pardoned, loved, forgiven, and fully accepted by God. Jesus’ perfect obedience to his own law met the righteous requirements of the law for the believer, and his death on the cross once and for all paid the debt for the believer’s sin. He realized the life and death of Christ were credited to the believer, securing for him or her a perfect righteousness, permanently freed from all wrath. Hence, there was now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). The believer was fully justified, declared righteous before God.

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