Bizarre Book Cover Help

I have a little stocking-suffer book scheduled to come out through Heritage Builders this Fall, for Christmas.

What do you think of the proposed cover? I especially loved the bug, scientist, and Mary making diapers out of underwear. Hopefully that won’t offend too many….

Any suggestions? Anything you love? loathe? Of course, without reading the stories it all doesn’t really make sense – but that is why your opinion is more helpful than mine.

Thanks for your help!

Hoping people buy books based on their covers,

Dan

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Groan

miracle-on-voodoo-mountain-wide-800x445Read through without groaning.

I can’t.

I was wondering, why would a single, white gal from the states move to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere? It’s dangerous. It’s hot. It stinks.

You take one-step off the plane and you groan.

That’s the reason.

In Mk 7:31-37 Jesus is moved by a mans suffering, and groans.

Later in Mark 8:12 when the Pharisees refuse to believe, Jesus groans.

This is the same word used in Romans 8:22 when it says all creation groans under the curse.

We pray, “Thy Kingdom done, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” God has given us the power to bring a taste of Heaven to Earth, but we will never be effective in that commission without heartfelt groanings. We have to hate the curse. And we have to want Heaven.

Last week we had Sue who lives in Port-au-Prince come stay with us. I asked why she moved to Haiti on Sunday. The answer?

Groanings.

The article below can help put it in perspective. It is from one of my favorite books, Miracle on Voodoo Mountain. It is writing by a 20-something-year-old gal who also moved to Haiti. I cut and pasted some sections of it below – in the hopes that it will get you to purchase it here.

Book Excerpt below [except brackets]

 Deye mon gen mon./ Behind the mountain, there are mountains.–A Haitian proverb

As I sat on the roof and watched the sun go down on my second day in Haiti, I ate another energy bar for dinner. I felt so very alone. Am I crazy? My friends are right. I must be crazy to leave such a great life in the States for a place like this. I don’t even know why I’m here. Oh Lord. Did I make a mistake? Should I just go back home?

 I needed to hear a familiar voice that night, so I made a quick decision to splurge on an expensive two-minute cell phone call to my mom. As soon as I heard her voice, the tears began to well up in my eyes.

“I’m fine, Mom.” I tried hard to keep my voice steady and to sound sure of myself even though I wasn’t. “It’s beautiful here.” As I got off the phone I repeated the same routine as the night before, except this time my sobs and sniffles drowned out the beating drums in the distance as I cried myself to sleep.

I awoke the next day to the same goat-chicken-pig-people sounds and knew if I stayed around the house again all day, I would implode with fear and anxiety. I ate my breakfast energy bar, dried up my tears, and looked at David, the roof boy….

I pointed to myself, then moved two fingers like legs walking uphill and pointed toward the front of the house to show him I wanted to walk to Bellevue Mountain. It was the only place I had a name for in Gressier, and since I had holed myself up in the house for two days, I thought it would be refreshing to get out.

“Okay,” David said with a smile. He got it! I smiled, too, with a little jolt of happiness at having a plan, if only a small one…. Tons of children waited for their turn at the community water pump right outside of my gate. I looked at my feet as we walked, avoiding the gaze of dozens of dark brown eyes on me. As we strolled down the street, people yelled at me in Creole, and children ran up and grabbed my hands and clothes.

I followed close behind as he led me down the uneven brown road. We stepped onto a narrow footpath with clumps of weeds and bushes dotting the sides. We walked through a group of long-horned cows with tiny ropes around their necks, grazing peacefully. The path wound between a few decrepit houses and down into a small valley through a leafy green mango grove where the soil was rich and dark. As the path began to curve upward, we climbed a steep hill and came through some bushes to the top. It was flat and green, and my eyes followed the path that cut through the grass until I saw it. There, just as I remembered, stood the tamarind tree. It was a rich dark green, about twenty feet tall, with a single sturdy trunk and strong, supple branches that curved gracefully down at the ends.

I waved toward the tree and the land around it and asked, “Bellevue Mountain?”

“Wi.”

 …The top of Bellevue Mountain is a beautiful place. A cow relaxed nearby on the lush green grass, and I could see beyond the edge of the mountain all the way out to the turquoise sea. I smiled and took a deep breath, staring off into the distance.

A movement caught my eye, and that’s when I first saw her–a little girl, maybe six or seven years old. She was wearing a raggedy, soiled, yellow tank top that was too big, hanging off one shoulder down to her thin elbow. It must have been a woman’s shirt, and she wore it as a dress.

She was barefoot with matted orange hair, and her bony figure screamed of malnutrition. I watched as she threw a rock at a blackbird.

I felt drawn to her. She was so little. What is she doing out here all alone? I remembered the girls I’d seen earlier that morning, walking to school. They each wore a uniform with their hair neatly braided and tied with bright ribbons. Why isn’t she in school?

 I got close enough to call out, “What are you doing?” I was sure she didn’t understand me, so I glanced at David, and he repeated my question in Creole…

The little girl answered back in Creole. “There are two blackbirds.” David turned toward me to translate… “Yes, I see them. But what are you doing?” I asked again.

As she rocketed off in Creole, I received another loose translation from David. “Throwing rocks at birds.”

“Yes, I see. But why?”

Her beautiful brown eyes widened as she looked up at me. “To eat!”

…Bernard arrived shortly after to help with translation; David had called him when we left the house. Bernard was fluent in Haitian Creole and English, which he’d learned from a group of deportees from Brooklyn.

A few moments later I saw an older woman walking up the mountain toward us. She spoke broken English and told me the little girl’s name was Michaelle (Mick-kay-ell). Then, in an emotionless voice, she explained, “Mother dead. No father. Nobody wants her.” She looked at me, then turned to Bernard and began explaining in Creole that no one wanted Michaelle, so she had taken her in. She called herself Michaelle’s aunt, even though they weren’t related.

…The woman continued, telling Bernard her house had been destroyed in the earthquake and she’d moved from outside of Port-au-Prince to Gressier several months ago. “No one wanted Michaelle, so I brought her here although I can hardly afford to feed her.” Bernard looked at me, his eyes sad as he translated.

“Does Michaelle go to school?” I asked.

“No, she can’t go to school. No money,” she said.

…Early the next day I found the path and climbed Bellevue Mountain again, following the woman’s instructions to find Michaelle in a big blue tent on the side of the mountain with the older woman, four other children, and several adults. The relationship this mishmash family shared was unclear and unsettling.

Michaelle was playing in front of the tent in the same ragged yellow dress she had worn the day before. When she saw me, she ran inside and changed into a blue-and-white princess dress costume with white shoes and ankle socks. Her excitement propelled her ahead of me down the path. I had to walk fast to keep up with her. As I followed her down the mountain, I wondered who she was and why she was living in such a strange situation. Is it because of the earthquake? How did her mom pass away? Why was she trying to eat a bird? Was she really that hungry? Why isn’t she being fed? And why was she wearing that old yellow rag when she had a cute dress to wear? I had lots of questions, and I wanted some answers.

A person’s a person, no matter how small. –Dr. Seuss

 “Non,” she shouted, clinging with all of her strength to the branches of a scrawny little bush in the mango grove. Michaelle was refusing to let go. It was a Sunday morning, and we were halfway up the path to the blue tent on the mountain where she lived. With tears streaming down her face, yelling and screaming hysterically, words poured out of her so fast I couldn’t understand even one syllable. I crept closer and sat down next to her in the dirt. When I got down on her level, I realized I didn’t have to understand any Haitian Creole to know what was going on. I didn’t need to understand a single word to see that her face was filled with fear, fear of returning to her tent. I was rocked by the waves of terror emanating from her tiny seven-year-old body.

My heart ached, and I felt anxiety rising inside because I knew I couldn’t really talk to her, even though I tried. In my most soothing and confident voice, I called her Micha (pronounced “Mee-ka,” my new nickname for her) and told her everything was going to be okay, but it didn’t seem to help. After a few minutes of feeling completely helpless I, too, burst into tears as I stared, transfixed, at her frail body shaking and plastered to the dusty bush. I’d never before felt so helpless, and I begged God to show me what to do. Why is this happening? Please! Tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.

 …Micha’s aunt and the others in the tent where she lived didn’t seem to love her. At least they didn’t show it when I was around. It was so confusing. Why is Micha so sad all the time? Why is she the one that seems to be doing all of the household chores and all the work? Why doesn’t she want to go back home? The questions and curiosity and confusion swirled around in my brain and wouldn’t stop. My stomach clenched, telling me there was something deeper happening and I needed to find out what it was. After the emotionally exhausting morning I wrenched open the front gate, crossed the front yard, and burst through the front door, frantic to find my cell phone. I needed answers, and I didn’t care how expensive the Internet data charges were going to be.

I turned on my cell phone and pulled up Google. Then I typed in the three words that would forever change my life: Haiti + child + servant.

 A word I’d never heard before popped up in big, black, bold letters: restavek.

I froze, staring at the word on my cell phone screen for a good five minutes before scrolling down. There is actually a name for this way of treating children in Haiti. My mind reeled in confusion. I didn’t want to believe it, but as I continued reading, my head felt as though it would explode with this horrific discovery. The word restavek (sometimes spelled with a c instead of a k) is translated “to stay with” and is a common arrangement in Haiti, where parents force a child to live with another family because they are very poor or because of parental death or illness. Sometimes it includes the child being sold, kidnapped, or borrowed for a period of time.

I read a statement by the United Nations, condemning the restavek system as a “modern form of slavery” where even young children are put to work as laborers and treated as less than human.1 The majority of these restaveks are girls between the ages of four and fifteen, and they are responsible for all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and fetching of water for their households. Additionally, restaveks often suffer severe abuse and are very rarely enrolled in school.

There was much more, but I’d seen enough, and I put down  my phone. The room felt as though it was spinning. “Micha,” I gasped. Like an overwhelming rush, everything started to make sense. This is why she wasn’t in school when I met her. This is why I always saw her carrying heavy buckets of water or washing clothes in a tub outside the tent or surrounded by endless piles of dirty dishes. This is why she sleeps under a table on cardboard.

 Like a slideshow, images from the last few weeks popped up in my head as I remembered the many young girls I’d seen around Gressier who seemed to be working constantly. I had wondered why they stared down at the ground, eyes glassy and sad, and shoulders drooping. It was all starting to make sense, and I knew I had just made a life-changing discovery; I was finally able to put a finger on the disturbing feeling that had crawled its way up into my heart every time I passed these children. It was as if I could see the darkness of the situation and the evil behind it. I realized what the Holy Spirit had been stirring up in me the past few weeks, and I felt as though the Lord was igniting a fire inside me.

Children’s faces, one after another, popped into my head as I realized that Bellevue Mountain and much of Gressier were full of restaveks in an epidemic of child slavery. It made me sick to my stomach that I had been walking around this community for the last few weeks, knowing that something was wrong, wanting to question the situation, but not knowing how to begin. And it made me even sicker to know that so many Haitians had accepted and participated in this form of slavery in their own country with their own people.

I couldn’t find any firm statistics, but organizations that had studied the situation estimated that 300,000 to 500,000 children in Haiti are restaveks. I couldn’t get my mind and heart around that number. I still can’t. I never will…

I knew cooking pots of beans and rice or singing songs with kids wasn’t going to be enough.

[Get the book here.

I get to go back to Haiti this summer. What a privilege.]

 Romans  8:26 (NLT)  The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

 

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Does Youth Ministry Matter?

I started youth ministry at Camp Peniel. From there I went to church ministry. I still remember wondering what I had gotten into when someone in my first church gave me an article on the horrors of listening to Amy Grant.

Where do you go with that?

Fairly early on in church ministry I met Mark Matlock, who later became the President of Youth Specialties. He has a free book download you can get by clicking on the picture below.

It’s worth the price.

OK, more than that.

If your church is struggling with what to do with youth, how to fit them into the overall ministry, or control their obnoxious flirting,  this book can help. I’m not sure there is a cure for Amy Grant.

Kidding – still love Tennessee Christmas.

Dan

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http://markmatlock.com/why-youth-ministry-really-matters

Pastoral Envy

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I had this published four years ago in Christianity Today – Leadership Journal. I think it’s been long enough they are good with me putting it on my blog.

DEAR GOD, GIVE ME A MEGA-MINISTRY WHEN I BURN OUT

It isn’t fair.

Bill Hybels burnt out. He wrote, “The rate at which I was doing the work of God, was destroying the work of God in myself.” (my paraphrase) Bill realized this was unhealthy, sought help, reorganized his life, sold a few million books, and achieved, what looked to me, like Pastoral Nirvana. LUCKEEE.

Rob Bell had around 10,000 people coming to his church when he hit bottom. He wrote,

“In the middle of all this growth and chaos was me, superpastor. . . . It’s one thing to be an intern with dreams about how the church should be. It’s another thing to be the thirty-year-old pastor of a massive church. . .  People were asking me to write articles and books on how to grow a progressive young church, and I wasn’t even sure I was a Christian anymore. . .  It was in that abyss that I broke and got help. (Velvet Elvis, PP. 103-105.)

There we go again – same song, second verse. Rob burnt-out, got help, reorganized his life, wrote a book about an Elvis painting, and his church rocked.

Joshua Harris was in demand as a speaker, writer, and pastor. He too wrote about hitting bottom, reorganizing his life, and attaining redemption. Kyle Idelman of Not a Fan fame shares how he had to re-examine ministry in the midst of exponential growth. In the winter issue of Leadership Journal Bob Merritt talks about adding staff, and being courted for speaking engagements outside the church, while at the same time leading the preaching department at Bethel Theological Seminary before his meltdown.

It sounded like a plan to me.

So, after an average first pastorate, we moved from Canada to a church plant of 120 people in New Mexico. I was ready to become a workaholic, see our church grow, have a melt-down, repent of my selfishness, lead a seminary department, and write a best-seller entitled Dogs Playing Poker. Actually, I’ve never wanted a mega-ministry, but a growing, healthy ministry would be awesome.

I worked like crazy and burned out six years later. So far, so good – except we were still running 120 people and I wasn’t retiring on book sales. When the economy crashed, so did our budget. At the same time a home Bible study got sideways with the church and sucked out both people and energy. Every family that chose to leave caused me personal anguish. Every breakdown, from a video projector to a coffee pot, was a budget breaker. I tried harder.

I read more about marketing, went to leadership conferences, and debated getting the cool glasses/tattoo combination to look hip. I silently wondered if we could keep the church open, if I could continue to pay my mortgage. Worse yet, Hybels asked Bono to speak at his Leadership conference for a second time, without asking me once. Not that I’m bitter.

I suppose it’s foolish to be jealous of these guys. Hybels is stuck in a time-warp of 1950 flip-charts, Rob needs to use a Topical Bible next time he publically updates his theology, and Harris is so insecure he covered his face with his hat on the cover of his first book.

But I was jealous, frustrated, and scared. Nothing seemed to be working. These guys had something to show for their burnout.  “Please God, let me crash in style. At least then I can write about it. Crashing without something to show for it is humiliating.”

Bad Timing

It should have been a grand time. My wife JoLynn and I were on an Alaskan cruise for our 30th anniversary. I learned a grand lesson, but I didn’t have a grand time learning it.

There were 1200 people on the cruise, 400+ who chose this cruise to hear mega-church pastor/author Max Lucado speak. He had sold over 80 million books. I’ve sold 10k. Why is it when I meet “big name” people I make an idiot out of myself?

Before the cruise I was hoping – praying for a chance to meet Max. I’d love to write more. So some counsel, a bit of help, an endorsement was in my dreams.  I got close.

After white water rafting in Juneau, we had some time left to blow money in town. I bought a hat. We then headed to a chocolate shop where I ordered a month’s worth of dark chocolate to last us through the afternoon. When I turned around, there was my wife, JoLynn, talking to Max and his wife as if they had known each other for decades. JoLynn is from Texas. Texans can do that. But there was a problem.

I’m not Texan.

I stood by stupidly with water dripping off my new made-in-China “ALASKA!” cap listening to the conversation. My mind was a 1970s computer trying to run Windows 8. My screen was blue – my cursor frozen. JoLynn had this “Don’t-destroy-the-moment” look in her eyes. I did.

All I could think about was what I needed. What I wanted. I wanted him to like me, to ask about me, to be able to tell my story. So I broke into a story about our son.

“We have this boy Caleb,” I blurted out, “he is 16, our youngest. All of our kids, we have four of them you see, well all four and the husband of our oldest, that makes five, well we were all plus JoLynn and I, that makes seven I guess, well we were sitting around the table one night and .. . Ugh.” AWKWARD.

Not knowing what to say next I stammered around for a bit, smiled too big, tried to make small talk, felt like an idiot, saw the confused shocked look on JoLynn’s face, tried again, did worse, felt worse, smiled bigger, dug in deeper, and pretty much died in mid-sentence. I’d give more details, but pathetic reliving is painful.

JoLynn dove back in, elegantly asked about how they were doing on the cruise, and said we needed to go. I said nothing.

We walked for a long time. JoLynn broke the silence talking about something else. I said to myself, “Self,” I said, “maybe it didn’t go as bad as I’d imagined.” It was 24 hours before she told me it did.

“So, why do you think you get so intimidated by certain people?” JoLynn asked.

“What do you mean?”

“You know, like yesterday…”

I had really, really hoped she hadn’t noticed. More than that, I had prayed it wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined. She noticed. It was.

“It’s just me. I’m just that way. Sorry.” I thought she would get off my case, that it wasn’t something I could do anything about. I was wrong on both accounts.

She told me to “Lean into it.” And to “Figure out why you’re that way.” Ugh. It still amazes me how well I married, and yet how I still hate it when she is right.

Whispers

The next day I got up early to be alone and pray. I’m an extremely non-charismatic kind of guy. When people say “God told me…” it makes me nervous. I want to ask, “Was His voice high or low? Does He still speak in Hebrew?”

But at this point I knew I needed to hear something specific from God. I threw my narrow view of how God had to work overboard, and asked God to speak to me. Then I read and prayed and prayed and read and mostly listened. Silence. Thinking I couldn’t change, and that God wouldn’t speak, I wasn’t too concerned. I should have been.

Through a combination of His Word and my silence, I believe the Spirit spoke to me. One word kept coming back to me over and over again.

Others

I would have preferred a paragraph. Job got three chapters. But there I go again, Job Envy.

Others. I couldn’t let it go. It took about 24 hours before I was convinced God was speaking to me, and I understood what He was trying to say. The two great commandments – love God and love others. Loving God? I can do that. But Others? It’s hard to admit as a pastor, but I just don’t think about others much.

The reason JoLynn could talk to the Lucado’s and I couldn’t – was because she cared about them. She was asking them about their kids and grandkids, about their anniversary (they have the same 30th anniversary date as we do). I tried to talk about me. She asked about them. She understood the cruise wasn’t a vacation for them – it couldn’t be when you are speaking twice a day, signing books over lunch and having to listen to weird ALASKA-cap-wearing pastors in the chocolate shop.

I wondered about my motivation for ministry. Why was I envious of successful pastors? Why did I want our church to grow? Why did I want to see people come to Christ – for their freedom or so I could have a baptism service? Why did I want to write – to help others or to say I’d published? Why was the church not growing – because of a weak marketing strategy, or because I wasn’t doing my job of loving others and making disciples? Sometimes the truth you need to hear to deal with your depression is depressing.

A few days later the cruise was about over and Max was signing books. JoLynn wanted to go. I didn’t embarrass her this time, and Max was gracious enough to pretend the chocolate shop never happened. Sometimes being invisible is the best you can hope for. Max even did the obligatory picture with us, which we now have plastered on our church website with the subtitle, When Out of the Pulpit, Max Lucado Worships HERE. Marketing Genius.

The Change (or sidebar)

The core problem with our Church wasn’t marketing or tattoos or flip-charts. It was me. As a result I made some simple, maybe even corny changes – but for me they made a difference.

  1. I started wearing a wristband to remind me to continually ask about what is going on in the lives of others. It became a bit of a game (is that bad?) to see if I could get through an entire Starbucks conversation without ever talking about my life. I now know, care, and pray for others more consistently.
  2. Every Monday I email or call people about requests that came in on Sunday – then if appropriate we pray over them at Staff on Tuesday. Now we are all thinking about others more.
  3. On the top of my sermon notes I put little clues of what people are going through; to remind me to connect with them if possible before the day is over. This has helped me keep others needs on my front burner every time I read my sermon notes.
  4. We’ve added an extra monthly elder, staff, and spouse training, with rotating leadership. This extra meeting has all of us learning, praying, and having fun together.
  5. I asked a few younger guys if they would be willing to meet with me weekly for discipleship. All were thrilled to have been asked, and two have now been baptized. Now their lives are impacting mine.
  6. The elders and staff are now following my lead. They are expected to be discipling at least one person – a decision that has encouraged and changed the lives of the elders and staff as much as those they are meeting with – and encouraging me even more.
  7. Listening made me realize we need to offer a way to help people get into their Bibles on their own. Our first Bible Study Methods class had over twenty meeting weekly, ages 16 to over 60, with seminary style homework. They had been waiting for something like this for years, without my picking up on it.
  8. I got convicted about my own lack of evangelism, and started an 8-week “for non-Christians only” seekers and doubters study after Easter. That was the highlight of my year. For me, pagans can be easier to talk to then mega-pastors. We cared for each other and became friends, regardless of our views.
  9. Most importantly, I realized there are just two things I need to do. Make disciples and pay the mortgage. If you can pull off the tattoos and cool glasses, that’s grace.

The Mortgage

The church is now growing, but still small. I took a pay cut to keep the church healthy that was restored a couple years later. Hybels hasn’t called, Josh Harris hasn’t asked me for hat selection advice, and no one really cares what I think about Love Wins. But I’ve met with God, reorganized my life, and felt redemption.

I don’t envy those with mega-ministries anymore. I’ve not the business-savvy gifts of administration, leadership, and thick skin to pull off a mega-ministry. That doesn’t leave me bummed-out. Instead I’ve found that working in the area of my giftedness has me given me new energy. We’ve grown enough to pay the bills – but more importantly our leaders are growing, baptisms are up, and we have a plan of discipleship. This is so energizing.

I can now thank God for those who do show up on Sunday rather than stressing about who don’t. I’m not reading about church marketing (I’ll wait for God to send us someone with that vision) or freaked out when a projector breaks. I’m trusting if I love God and others by making disciples; He will take care of His church and the mortgage. We’re growing. We’re healthy. Awesome.

In the picture above: Am I wrong, or is Max grimacing?

Dan is pastor of Cottonwood Church (Rio Rancho New Mexico) and author of BIZARRE Bible Stories, and BIZARRE Bible Stories 2, coming out April, 2014.  You can reach him at DanielCooley.com.

 

Surrender, Yes. Sacrifice, No

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The older I get in ministry, the less work it is, and the more of a privilege it becomes. I remember my biggest dread when I started church ministry in 1985.

Hospital visits.

That’s partly because on my first visit I walked into the wrong room.

And, I still have to keep my eyes off the fluids to not faint. God made fluids to be contained.

But in the last couple years I have been at a lot of bedsides – and a lot where someone is dying. It is a huge privilege to be able to be there crying and praying and reading with the family. It isn’t something I wanted to do that day, but there is no place I’d rather be that day. It’s an honor to be asked to be there.

Even preaching has gone from sick, scary, relieved when it is over – to honored God would trust me to speak, and sick, scary, relieved when it is over

I still hate conflict. However, I’m not so sure that is a sacrifice for God as much as a part of life.

A few weeks ago John Piper wrote a blog with the title: “I Never Made a Sacrifice.” It was a great blog, but it typical Piper fashion it was complete and thorough. So, here is the jest of it in simplified Cooley format.

March 19, 1813 was David Livingstone’s birthday. The David of “David Livingstone, I presume?” was the first European to cross Africa. After seeing the slave trade from the perspective of Africa, he devoted himself to ending it. He was a missionary that caught grief because he was also an explorer.

A year before he died, on March 19 1872 he wrote, “My birthday! My Jesus, my King, my Life, my All. I again dedicate my whole self to Thee.”

When addressing Cambridge University in 1857 he said, “People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. . . . Is that a sacrifice, which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view, and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.” (Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, 1981, 259)

Before Livingston, Paul said, Php 3:8 (NIV2011) “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

 In his typical “say what everyone else is thinking but is too wise to say” fashion, Peter at one point brags “See, we have left everything and followed you” (Mark 10:28). Or maybe he wasn’t bragging, maybe he was rather sad about what he felt he had sacrificed? Either way Jesus had an answer.

“Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:27–30)

Here is what Piper had to say about what Jesus said. “I cannot escape the impression that this is a rebuke. ‘Peter, you speak of what you have left behind in order to follow me! Really? No, Peter, what you have left behind is as nothing compared to what you gain in following me! Don’t you see, Peter, that if you think of Christian obedience in terms of loss, rather than gain, you dishonor me. I did not call you to me because I am poor and need your sacrifices. I called you to me because I am all-powerful, and all-wise, and own everything in the universe. I have called you into my family as fellow heirs of all I have (1 Corinthians 3:21–23), and I am giving you eternal life — eternal joy with me in the presence of my Father. No, Peter, you have not made a sacrifice to follow me. Not any more than if you sold your house to buy a field of hidden gold, or sold your fishing boat to buy the finest hidden pearl.’ In the bright shadow of David Livingstone’s suffering, I could see the point of Jesus’s words more readily — “Following me, you do not make a sacrifice.”

Piper than leaves us with the piercing question: “If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?”

Love it.

For Piper’s complete blog, click here. Or, you can cut and paste in the below mess if the link doesn’t work.

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/i-never-made-a-sacrifice?utm_campaign=Daily%20Email&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=61423705&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9UFXt-xADNQavPXRe7iw2llv3McNUfjch50fuO1lAiiTkJmw1OKcEXE4g2euFT1OAN6qvizjIm5-YQbYl3Tvv9zCsOWQ&_hsmi=61423705

total cover w back jpeg-004