Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Piper #16 - The wrath of God against holding down the truth

Piper #16 - The wrath of God against holding down the truth


Just when I already thought I had a favorite sermon, wow this one. Is. Amazing.


Piper starts off this talk in an amazing way:

Every one of us is a spin doctor by nature. Every one of us is springloaded to put his own failings in the best light and the failings of his adversaries in the worst light. We soften our own sins with mild words and skewer others with hard words. Or worse, we see the sins of others and are blind to our own. And when the truth hunts us down and corners us, we will dodge and distort and evade and mislead and equivocate and lie. And when that doesn’t work to suppress the truth, we will shift to blaming and accusing and deflecting—anything to hold down the truth from having its full effect in our lives. That’s what Romans 1:18b is about. This so relevant it takes your breath away.


So, I have noticed that every message is basically centered around a question from which he spend the message trying to answer. I love that approach. 


So here is the question of this message and passage:

What truth is being suppressed? And what does it mean that we suppress it “in unrighteousness”?


The answer is given in the following verses.

[We suppress the truth in unrighteousness], because that which is known about God [first clue: the truth being suppressed is something known about God] is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. (20) For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes [now he gets specific; here is the truth that is known about God from the created world], His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. [There is the objective truth about God that we suppress—his eternal power and deity—but now he tells us that there is another subjective truth, namely, the response we are supposed to have to this truth about God.] (21) For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him [literally, glorify him] as God or give thanks.


Now, check out how many times he refers to the truth that we suppress:


So here is the truth that we suppress apart from God’s grace in our lives. There is a God. He is the Creator of all things and so not a god but the God. He is powerful—more powerful than all else, because he made all else. He is eternal because there was nothing outside him that could bring him into being. Therefore we must exist to display his glory and not to compete with him for glory. And we must exist in absolute dependence on him. We do not supply him, he supplies us. And therefore we are to live in constant gratitude.


That is the truth that we suppress in unrighteousness. This is confirmed in verses 25 and 28. Verse 25: “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie [notice, the truth that is being exchanged, gotten rid of, suppressed is truth about God], and [they] worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” Which is the same as saying, “they did not glorify him as God or give thanks to him, but instead glorified the creature and took credit for what was owing only to God.” They exchanged God-worship for self-worship. They suppressed the truth that God is infinitely glorious and that we are totally dependent on him.


So let’s sum up what the truth is that we suppress. The truth is that God exists. He is eternal and infinitely powerful. He supplies us with all we have. Therefore he is gloriously self-sufficient with no needs that we can meet. The truth is that our reason for being is to be thankful for all he has given us and to display his glory by the way we think and feel and act (see Psalm 50:23).[1]


In other words, the truth is that the universe is radically God-centered: it comes from him, it exists for the display of his glory. And human life is supposed to be radically God-centered—not by working for God as if he were a needy deity, but by our being thankful to him and exulting in the grace that so much good comes to us, even amid terrible suffering…


Here is the truth: there are two great demands of God on the lives of all humans—1) that we exult in God’s bounty to us (that’s thankfulness), and 2) that we reflect or display his glory. Don’t miss this. It is right there in verse 21: “Even though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give thanks.” It means that God has created a universe in which we get the blessings and he gets the glory. And the way God gets the glory is by our exulting in him as the all-sufficient Giver of all things.


So here is the truth: God exists. God is eternal and infinitely powerful. God is the giver of every good gift. And therefore our reason for being—our chief duty, the end for which we were created, and the commandment written on every heart—is to display the glory of this great God every day, hour by hour, as we live in the exultation over his bounty to us.


And that is the truth that we hate and suppress in unrighteousness.


Why did they reject the truth and suppress the truth and not love the truth? Because they “took pleasure in unrighteousness.” When you love sin, you cannot love the truth. The truth is too threatening. It threatens to take away your illicit pleasures. I would venture to say that virtually all falsehood comes from this: a stronger affection for the pleasures of sin. That is what unrighteousness is. Loving sin more than loving God and his truth.


So you see that the issue of truth is an issue of the heart before it is an issue of the head. When the heart is in love with self-exaltation and independence and the pleasures of sin, the mind will inevitably distort the truth or suppress the truth in order to protect the idols of the heart. What is needed is not just new ideas or more information, but a new heart. And a new set of passions and desires and pleasures.


Is there any hope for us? The hope lies in verses 16–17. “The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.”



The truth is evident… Will we allow the truth to bring us to the light unto glory to God or will we stifle the truth and allow it to bring us to darkness?


Lead us Jesus into the truth…



[1]Piper, J. (2007). Sermons from John Piper (1990-1999). Minneapolis: Desiring God.


I did a blog a few weeks ago about joining my buddy, James, to teach a class at the Bible School he started. Well, I invited him to my class last week where he did an overview of the covenants.  I was doing a series on the covenants and it just so happens that Mr. J.R. Willamson (James) has written a book about the covenants. Check it out here! Anyway, it was a good time of sharing ministry.

a flower in the desert

It is beautiful time over here in Zambia. The timing is a bit odd, that knee
deep in the hot season, these massive beauties just now take our breath
away. It has been months since we have seen any rain, and yet, in hot
season, the water they have been storing for months, combined with the nice
hot weather creates a blossoming bundle of beauty. Wish you could see them
for yourself. Until then, enjoy this picture.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

We are in Zambia?

Ripleys, Melvilles, Stranbergs, Powells, and whomever else former ACTION Zambians that I forgot, prepare to be blown away. This post is mostly for the former Zambia living people who would appreciate the progress of the little Manda Hill strip mall.  I still can't believe something like this is going up in Zambia, but I guess it helps being so close to South Africa (They have financed the entire thing I hear).   A major mall with a food court, movie theater and all the clothing shops I will never need.  The rumor has it that it will also have the first McDonalds and KFC in Zambia.  We are not holding our breath for the McDonalds rumor or for the "Unwrapping" which is supposed to be in November.  Not sure what McNshima burger would taste like...  

Friday, September 24, 2010

A biography written about me.

It's not often that I get a children's book written about me, but it is
true, a biography all about me:)


We are all smiles these days. And especially in this picture, as we are
being pictured with our daughter, Jennifer Rhoda Allen, receiving her
official VISA to become a US citizen upon arrival in the United States of
America in under a month. Also, in the picture, the ambassador for Zambia,
a deputy for Mission and the gal that helped us out with the VISA. These
officials in the embassy were very kind working with us and blessed us with
a few minutes of hearing our story and encouraging us in our decision to
adopt. Today we got our UK visa for Rhoda and we are all cleared to come
home... We are planning on putting together an updated newsletter very soon
of all the happenings of our furlough. So, be looking out for that in your
mailbox at a email server near you!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Teaching + ESV Study Bible = Really good

My friend, James Williamson, a missionary, who also teaches and disciples
pastors at the Lusaka Ministerial College in Lusaka, invited me to come and
teach to his class. He wanted me to help the pastors learn how to use the
ESV Study Bible which they received last week. And, so I took the
opportunity to teach them inductive bible study using the ESV study bible to
help them study. It was good fun helping them discover the beauty that is
the ESV study bible. Not only is a great translation, the notes are great
and the resources in the bibles are incredible. I use my ESV just about
every day and I love it. (I should get paid for this commercial). Anyway,
it was a great way to spend the morning, discovering a new compound,
connecting with new pastors, and helping people love the ESV study which I
love so much. And, for those who have been in Zambia and know Pastor Thole
from Matero, you'll be encouraged to know that he was in the class as well.

Coach Allen

I may have mentioned that I am coaching a U-15 (under 15) basketball team
at the local international school just 3 minutes from our house. We had our
first tournament and I feel pretty pumped to be able to say that as a coach
in Zambia, I am undefeated. We won the first game (10 minute games) 13-2 and
the second game 4-2:) The guys were pumped. The courts were outdoor and
pictures don't justice on how hard the winds were blowing. It actually
worked out to our advantage because my guys can't shoot very well. Actually,
it was very encouraging to see how far the guys have come during my one hour
a week Thursday practices!

The other pictures are the other team I am coaching. Team Allen Ladies and
Guffey's and Robert's and a bunch of other little kids for 45 minutes on
Thursdays. It is a great chance to help coach our kids as well as meet
other children at the school.

I was just reading a blog the other day about how important it is as a
minister/pastor to get out of your ministry at least one day a week. It
really has been a great chance to meet new people and have my world
stretched a bit more. So, there it is, for 1 hour and 45 minutes every week,
I am Coach Allen on the court and the other bunch of hours I am coach Allen
in the classroom!

Actually, if I am truly honest, I am pretty much in the classroom as a
student all the time here in Africa. I am learning more here than I am
teaching anyone else...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fun(d) Raising in the Sun

You may have read about our Marathon fun(d) raiser for Ciyanjano, but you probably haven't seen the video... Now you can!

Pretty Funny Irony

It is not unusual to see misspellings in signs all over Zambia. But, I think
this one takes the cake... It is a movie theatre poster showing the prices
of movies. Can you find the misspelling and therein enjoy the pretty funny
irony of it all like I did?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A day early and not a day too early

I think I may have mentioned it before that my only regret in marrying
Stephanie is that I didn't marry her sooner. And, on this special occasion,
namely her birthday, I would like to pause this blog a moment to publicly
proclaim what I have been saying in private and thinking to myself over the
past 12 years of our marriage, I LOVE MY WIFE! She is thoughtful, strong,
sensitive, kind, funny, smart, insightful, perceptive, hard-working,
selfless, peaceful, patient, and loving. In the words of my firstborn, the
highest compliment one can receive, "I want to be just like you when I grow
up!" So, on this day before her 37th birthday, I share with you, 37
pictures from this last year to commemorate her 37th year of life.

Stephanie, in this 37th year of your life, may you be loved, encouraged,
faith-filled and joyous. May you rejoice in the husband of your youth, may
you find delight and light in parenting and schooling the children in their
youth and may you be renewed as one who finds the fountain of their youth.

I love you!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hot Season is here

Whereas your summer is ending, ours is just cranking up! So, what better
place to be than the pool. Thought you might like to see how grown up the
Allen ladies are getting!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Like Jesus

We had to move our Action Pastor's College location this last month because
of a 35% rate increase in our lease agreement. To be honest, it was a
bummer. We had organized the room and invested a lot of time and money to
make it like home. The new location is about the same size, but we are
limited in our ability to invest into making it feel like home. It is much
more like we are just renting it. The room is about the same size, but we
can't bring in our tables or chairs and so the room construction is a bit
lacking. I love the windows but we lost our air conditioning. With hot
season approaching, it will make it a tougher teaching environment, that is
for sure. So, while this can seem a bit defeating, I just take comfort in
the fact that Jesus didn't have a home, either. Matthew 8:20 - 20And Jesus
said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son
of Man has nowhere to lay his head." I think sometimes religious
institutions get hamstrung by facility and debt and then the institution
ends up running the ministry instead of the other way around. So, as much
as we would like to have a home to rest our head, figuratively speaking, I
am very grateful that our ministry is more about relationships than property
or location. Now, if God were to give us a place of our own to meet
tomorrow, I definitely wouldn't turn it down, but I am choosing to be
thankful and to believe that God is at work, teaching all of us, how to be
more like Jesus.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Welcome home again

We welcomed back Tracy and Karen Singleton at the airport last Thursday from
their four month furlough. I asked my pastors during a class if any of them
would like to come out and surprise Tracy and a few of them that lived close
to me enthusiastically said yes. So, I picked them up at 6:15am and we went
to the airport. On the way to the airport, they expressed how thankful they
were that they could come with us, because as one pastor said, "We have
never come because we have no reason to be here, no one to pick up." I
don't think any of them, maybe minus one, had ever been to the airport in
their 40+ something years of life here in Lusaka. Needless to say, it was a
great surprise for Tracy and Karen. They expected the missionaries to come
but they didn't expect the pastors. They had missed Tracy very much during
his furlough and it is good to have him back. After saying hellos and
goodbyes, I told the pastors that he came back for them. It was a cool
insight for me as well, to hear myself say that, because in essence, it is
true for me as well. We are here for them. We have sacrificed so much to be
here to serve God in a foreign land for these pastors that they might be
equipped, encouraged and sent out to lead communities to Christ. Though
while saying that might be true, I still say we learn more from them than
they do from us.

(For an interesting observation, on the top picture in the top left hand
corner, there is an advertisement for Zambezi Airlines with Kenneth Kaunda
on it, who was the first president for Zambia. "I fly Zambezi Airlines":))

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

1/2 Marathon Adventure, continued...

I promised a more detailed updated of our marathon weekend that went by
like a sprint (why is it that vacations without children seem to pass on
warp speed?) Our weekend was full of experiences. Getting down there, we
all took the bus. Actually both ways. It was brilliant. Half the cost. And a
nice, readable, relaxing, napping time! We crossed the border in no time.
We had a really nice first evening, watching an amazing sunset as we enjoyed
a really nice dinner. I had a few firsts in the eating department this
weekend: Crocodile, Ostrich, Guinea Fowl and Warthog... Yummy in the tummy!
We stayed the weekend in a dormitory at a camp ground. Yes, we actually
stayed in a boys/girls separate dormitory for a cool $11 dollars a person.
(So nice to see a familiar green paper again.) I was feeling a bit old to
be staying in a dormitory, but we wanted to save money since this weekend
was about receiving money and not spending it... God had mercy, and it was
just us and a nice Irish chap for the first night for the fellas. The ladies
had three other housemates, but all was good for everyone. The second
night was cool too. We had six Zimbabwe men stay with us who were in the
race. One of them had run a marathon best of 2 hours and 14 minutes, which
is like running a 4:20 minute mile for 26 miles. The guy was small and all
muscle. The other guys were in the disabled race. Really humbling talking to
them. They ate bananas for dinner.

We wanted to do something during Saturday that we couldn't do with kids.
Bunjie jump? Sky Diving? Paragliding? Rafting? Uh, no. Sitting by the pool,
relaxing and talking all day. YES! The fellas spent Saturday talking by
the pool and playing cards. The girls went shopping and then laid by the
pool. A perfect day! The race was fun. There was about 300 people and the
atmosphere was fun, and we had a great time talking with everyone. I saw a
baboon, and a huge Baobob tree that they call "the big tree! (creative, I
know). All of us heartily agreed that this race should be our FIRST annual
"Kilometers for Kids" and we are already making plans for next year's race.
Maybe you are a runner and are interested in this challenge? You have a
year to plan and start training...Thank you to the many who joined us in
this project.

As for the pictures: from top right to left...
Dinner out and the waterhole that we watched a herd of Elephants eat at
while we ate... Amazing. The guys in wheelchairs who stayed in our
dormitory. One of them had a best marathon time of 1 hour 30 minutes. Yeah,
amazing! The big tree! The girls at the starting line and us buying Pizza
after the race:) Our proving that we really made it to Zimbabwe. And the
mist from the falls with the sun behind it as we ran. Met a guy from North
Carolina, 72 years young, who ran the marathon which was his 7th marathon in
7 continents. And us walking before dawn to the race line.

Thanks again for all your support!