Day 7: This Christmas, Give Me Jesus

Published on December 11, 2011 by CT in Blog, Kindling


The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song.  The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent.  Here at Crave Something More, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.”  Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.

Day 7:  This Christmas, Give Me Jesus

Tonight, I went to my buddy Dan’s birthday party, and we spent part of the evening singing worship songs, and the guys played this one song I had not heard before called Give Me Jesus.  It’s not a Christmas song, but it might as well be.

Let the simplicity of these lyrics magnify the simplicity of Jesus’ love for us, a love that surpasses all human knowledge, but a love even we can understand.  There’s great glory in this kind of love.

Give Me Jesus

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

When I am alone
When I am alone
Oh, when I am alone
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus
Give me Jesus

When I come to die
When I come to die
Oh, when I come to die
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

Here is Jeremy Camp singing this beautiful song:

Be encouraged this Christmas to say:  You can have all the good things of this world—just give me Jesus.

*If you cannot see the video on RSS or email, you can do so by clicking through the post title.

For the rest of the 21 Days of Crave Something More Christmas, go here.

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Taking Calvin Off The Shelf

Published on September 15, 2011 by CT in Blog, Kindling


My bookcase is filled with hundreds of books.  I have not read all of them; in fact, I’ve probably read only half of them.  Some are there because I was overambitious in my book purchasing.  Others are there because I still intend to wade my way through them over time.  Still others are there because, sometimes, it’s just easier to impress people with books on your bookshelf than to actually read them.

One such book is Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.  The way I’ve thought about it, it’s a really thick book, which he wrote when he was maybe six years old, and it’s had more of an influence on Western thought than perhaps just about any other book, so I assumed it was a book written by a genius meant to be read by geniuses.  Honestly, if I want to know what Calvin wrote about, I can get the basics from Wikipedia.

But I’m working on a book now, and I cracked open the Institutes for a little research.  And by the time I’d read two pages, I realized these were two really good pages.  In fact, there’s a section on God’s sovereignty that I just want to reprint here for you in order to awaken your wonder at the beautiful way in which God worked for His glory in creation.

The context is this:  Calvin is making the case for the sovereignty of God, specifically pointing to God’s role as creator and sustainer of all things meaning that nothing occurs outside of His providence (what he calls the secret counsel of God).  And to those who would suggest that God has acted in creation to make everything out of nothing, and to infuse it with the energy and natural cause to run apart from His sustaining work, he offers this:

“No created object makes a more wonderful or glorious display than the sun.  For, besides illuminating the whole world with its brightness, how admirably does it foster and invigorate all animals by its heat, and fertilize the earth by its rays, warming the seeds of grain in its lap, and thereby calling forth the verdant blade!  This it supports, increases, and strengthens with additional nurture, till it rises into the stalk; and still feeds it with perpetual moisture, till it comes into flower; and from flower to fruit, which it continues to ripen till it attains maturity.  In like manner, by its warmth trees and vines bud, and put forth firs their leaves, then their blossom, then their fruit.”

Now here’s the kicker:

“And the Lord, that he might claim the entire glory of these things as his own, was pleased that light should exist, and that the earth should be replenished with all kinds of herbs and fruits before he made the sun.  No pious man, therefore, will make the sun either the necessary or principal cause of those things which existed before the creation of the sun, but only the instrument which God employs, because he so pleases.”

It’s true.  I looked for myself.  I knew there was light before the sun, but I never made the connection as to why this may be.  Calvin offers an interpretation, but it’s one that bows my knees in awe at the marvelous providence of God, working for His glory, which He will give to no other, and how this working is the greatest gift we could ever receive.

Question:  What’s one book sitting on your shelf that you’ve always meant to read but haven’t yet?

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Did God Not Say That?

Published on January 10, 2011 by CT in Blog, Kindling


It’s better to meditate on what God’s word actually says, but it can also be useful at times to meditate on what God’s word does not say.

Here’s what I mean. Recently, I borrowed Anna’s Bible and happened upon a note (from a Beth Moore Bible study I believe) she had handwritten beside Philippians 4:6-7.

This is how the verse appears in Scripture:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

This is how Anna’s note, casting the verse in the negative, appears:

“Do not be calm about anything, but in everything without prayer and without humility, without any thankfulness, do not tell God what you need.  Then, you will not have any peace, nor understanding or clarity, so your heart will be open to all and your mind will be like the sea tossed to and fro by the wind.”

God’s word, as inspired by His Spirit, is like a jewel. It is a wonder to behold, but turning it can give another perspective that’s beautiful as well.  I think that’s what’s going on here.  The Spirit meant every word He inspired, so we do well to pour over each word and think deeply on what He meant.  But there are times when we can benefit by thinking over what He did not say as well.

Question:  What does your favorite verse look like in the negative?

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When others’ words kindle my own flame:  Reflections on words by Jonathan Edwards and John Piper.

Mankind has said and written many things throughout the ages.  Some of it needs to be commended and retold throughout every generation so that others might benefit from the records of wisdom.  Some of it needs to be destroyed, or at least held aloft in public contempt so that others might not fall prey to its empty promises.

Here is some writing to be commended:

The Father is the deity subsisting in the prime, unoriginated and most absolute manner, or the deity in its direct existence.  The Son is the deity generated by God’s understanding, or having an idea of Himself and subsisting in that idea.  The Holy Ghost is the deity subsisting in act, or the divine essence flowing out and breathed forth in God’s infinite love to and delight in Himself.  And I believe the whole Divine essence does truly and distinctly subsist both in the Divine idea and Divine love, and that each of them are properly distinct persons (Edwards, Essay on the Trinity, 118).

John Piper repaints this picture in this way:

The Son of God is the eternal idea or image that God has of himself.  And the image that he has of himself is so perfect and so complete and so full as to be the living, personal reproduction (or begetting) of God the Father…namely God the Son…And between the Son and the Father there arises eternally an infinitely holy personal communion of love, [the Holy Spirit]…[Thus], the Son is the standing forth of God knowing himself perfectly, and the Spirit is the standing forth of God loving himself perfectly (Piper, God’s Passion for His Glory, 84).

Do you delight in the glories of these truths? Does the exploration of the mysteries of God awaken your heart for more of Him?

This is the end of theology and doctrine:  that God may be seen and savored, known and delighted in.  We see God in His Son, and we savor God by His Spirit.  This is stunning, and beautiful, and unequivocally vital to our understanding of God’s purpose and our own.

We study and listen to sermons and read books and go to Bible Study in vain if the inclination of our hearts and minds is not towards treasuring God more fully.  But treasuring God leads to spending ourselves on Him, and in turn, on others as well, where, in this spending, God Himself is glorified.

Question:  Why do you want more of God?

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O How He Loves Us

Published on July 8, 2010 by CT in Blog, Kindling


He is jealous for me;
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
And all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me.

We are His portion and He is prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes.
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way…

That He loves us
Oh, how He loves us
Oh, how He loves us
Oh, how He loves.

It’s easy to forget that God loves us.


He loves us.

Whenever we forget we are so greatly loved, let us gaze at the Son in the humility of the cross, for “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  And let us bend and sink beneath the weight of His grace, delighting in His exaltation above every name, knowing that He is our glorious inheritance forever.  O how He loves us!

Question:  Do you ever forget how beloved you are by God?

*”How He Loves” written by John Mark McMillan, performed by David Crowder Band

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I’ve Given Up Everything For This

Published on February 18, 2010 by CT in Blog, Kindling


When others’ words kindle my own flame:  Reflections on words by Lindsey Vonn, 2010 Olympic Champion.

“I’ve given up everything for this.  It means everything to me. It’s why I work hard.  I got what I came here to do.  I got a gold medal; I have what I want.”

Tears have a funny way of releasing things.  Lindsey Vonn’s tears were no different.  As she stood at the bottom of the mountain at Whistler, Olympic Gold as her prize, the Women’s Downhill Champion’s tears shone brightly in the sun.

She must have been thinking of all the years she spent training for this moment.  She must have been thinking of all the expectations that were placed on her shoulders as the favorite for these Games.  She must have been thinking of the pressure that mounted as she sustained a shin injury just two weeks before the Games began.

She had been single-minded in her goal of becoming the world’s best women’s downhill skier.  She had disciplined her body and her emotions for years as she trained for these Games.  And she had persevered through intense suffering and setback.  And now she stood as Olympic Champion.

Simply put, Lindsey’s tears were tears of joy, and release, and satisfaction.  She had every right to shed them, for this was her moment, one to be applauded and admired.  Her tears were the sweet, crowning jewels of her Olympic glory.

Here’s a truth we all know, and one Lindsey either knows already or will soon discover:  Olympic glory fades.  So does the glory from being a successful preacher, or pastor, or writer, or musician, or businessman, or businesswoman, or student.  We all strive for perishable wreaths at different times in our lives.  And we strive for them in vain.

You know well the passage where Paul compares himself to an athlete.  He writes:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Cor 9:24-25).

This echoes another passage, perhaps penned by Paul as well:

“Let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Heb 12:1-2).

So we gain an imperishable wreath when we are single-minded in our pursuit:  to obtain the prize promised by the gospel.  We gain an imperishable wreath when we lay aside the sin that clings to us, exercising self-control in all things.  And we gain an imperishable crown when we persevere in our race, enduring suffering as it comes, following Jesus every step of the way.

We may imagine that the bottom of our mountains will bring tears as joy and relief as well.  But the tears we shed are simply an expression of a deeper longing within us, a longing that will one day be satisfied.  Our tears today are just like anything in this world:  shadows of a brighter reality, or echoes of a sweeter song.

Our prize is a place with a Person, and this Person will “wipe away every tear from their eyes…neither shall there be crying…for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:4).  It is in that day that we will wear our imperishable crowns of righteousness, because of Him and for His sake.  And in that day we will be satisfied by our greatest joy:  Jesus.

Congratulations to you, Lindsey. Your achievement is inspiring and well-deserved.  And as the glory of your triumph begins to fade, may you find (or continue to find) Jesus as your imperishable wreath.  And may we all see your inspiring example as a reflection of the higher call we have on our lives.  May we run the race with single-mindedness, exercising self-control, disciplining our bodies for the sake of the gospel, and persevering through suffering, all so that we might obtain the prize we seek:  eternity in the presence of the One whose glory never fades.

*This post includes updated language to make clear that I don’t know Vonn personally and do not mean to presume whether or not she is a follower of Christ.  I hope that she is!

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See a Need, Meet a Need?

Published on December 9, 2009 by CT in Blog, Kindling


See a Need, Meet a Need

When others’ words kindle my own flame:  Reflections on words by Jon Acuff @ Stuff Christians Like.

Jon Acuff wrote a pretty interesting article at Stuff Christians Like talking about an issue we all face:  How do we decide who merits, if that’s even a useful word in this situation, our charity.  One of the things Jon has done is to build a community at SCL, and the discussion on this post is all over the map.  Some feel we should always give freely; others feel our giving should be qualified.

This is one of the toughest issues for me to wrestle with personally.  My heart is bent towards compassion, but my training and study of Scripture provide me with the balance of discernment.  I’ve given in situations where, upon reflection, I think it was unloving to do so, because it was not what that person needed at the time.

I’ve taught financial stewardship classes and done budget counseling for years with families who are struggling financially.  I’ve given to help needs that come up and I’ve denied requests for help.  I’ve struggled with balancing a desire to love a person through free and generous giving and love a person through not giving.

I’ve also spent time in West Africa in one of the poorest countries in the world, so I have seen abject poverty firsthand, kids who literally share clothing, have no parents, no shoes, very little food, and no education.  It is hard to compare needs in the US to needs in Africa, but my time in Africa has taught me that there are certain basic needs (water, food, education, guardians, health care, shelter, Biblical instruction) that exist at a more fundamental level than some of the “needs” we tend to see in the West.

John tells to give to meet to meet a brother’s need (1 John 3:17).  This assumes two things:  it’s a Christian brother or sister, and the person has a need.  Paul tells us that a man who has not provided for his own family has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8).  He also gives instructions that widows who have relatives to care for them should not burden the church, so that the church might care for those who are truly in need (1 Timothy 5:16).  Paul also denies assistance to the “younger widows,” so that they might not become “idlers” (1 Timothy 5:13).

So our primary concern should be to meet the needs of our Christian brothers and sisters in the church who are truly in need.  I’ve counseled families who did not have money for groceries while spending hundreds on cell phones, internet, TV, eating out, and other discretionary things.  I’ve bought groceries for some of these folks and have declined to do so for others.   Either way, I’ve counseled them on priorities, showing them how they were not using God’s money to provide for their own basic needs and were instead becoming a burden, rather than a blessing, on the church.  This is a hard message to give, and must be done so in love, but they often see the wisdom in it, and God often changes their hearts, and their situations, to put them in a place where they are free to be conduits of His blessing to others.

When we view the unbelieving world around us, our primary concern for those outside the church is to go and preach the gospel to them and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).  This can (and should) be accompanied by meeting physical and emotional needs, but when we make the social gospel our primary means of showing love, we do a disservice to the beauty of the true gospel, that while we were sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Ultimately, Spirit-led giving is free and generous, but still Spirit-led.  The mind of the Spirit cares not only about mercy and compassion but also wisdom and discernment.  I can empathize with those who would rather err on the side of compassion, and there may be cause to do so (see Matthew 5:42).  And giving can mean so many things besides money; often, people just need a conversation, or a touch of our hand, or an expression of love, or wisdom from God through us.  So we should incline our hearts towards the poor, because Jesus does.

But above all, let us love the church enough to meet people’s needs, not their wants, so that they will be free to see Jesus as their greatest treasure.  And let us love the unbelieving world enough to meet people’s most urgent need, which is their need for redemption by a loving God, so that they will be free to see Jesus as their greatest treasure.

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The Multiple Means to Joy: Spurgeon on Suffering

Published on November 19, 2009 by CT in Blog, Kindling


C. H. Spurgeon

When others’ words kindle my own flame:  Reflections on words by C. H. Spurgeon.

Mankind has said and written many things throughout the ages.  Some of it needs to be commended and retold throughout every generation so that others might benefit from the records of wisdom.  Some of it needs to be destroyed, or at least held aloft in public contempt so that others might not fall prey to its empty promises.

Here is some writing to be commended:

Does a man know any gospel truth aright till he knows it by experience? Is not this the reason why God’s servants are made to pass through so many trials, that they may really learn many truths not otherwise to be apprehended? Do we learn much in sunny weather? Do we not profit most in stormy times? Have you not found it so—that your sick-bed—your bereavement—your depression of spirit, has instructed you in many matters which tranquillity and delight have never whispered to you? I suppose we ought: to learn as much by joy as by sorrow, and I hope that many of my Lord’s better servants do so; but, alas! others of us do not; affliction has to be called in to whip the lesson into us.

If you ever want to evaluate something that someone else writes or says to see if it’s worth believing, always start with their assumptions.  Sometimes these assumptions are stated; other times they are implied.  Spurgeon builds this discussion on suffering on top of the foundation of the gospel—he means for us to believe that knowing gospel truth is our aim.  This of course presupposes other things, which isn’t the focus of our commendation.

When Spurgeon talks about stormy times and depression of spirit, He is retelling a truth that people have known for centuries:  that purity of spirit is formed by the presses of pain.  This is worth retelling to every generation.  But it’s not his focus.

His focus is on experiencing gospel truth—or knowing the truth of the gospel in our hearts and spirit as well as our heads.  John Piper says faith is not merely intellectual assent to the truth of the gospel; it’s also the affectional embrace of the object of our faith—Jesus—being our greatest treasure.  And this is the lesson Spurgeon means for us to see.

If knowing and treasuring Jesus is our life’s greatest goal, and joy and sorrow are means towards that end, then we welcome them both with open arms.  We may still wince at the pain and rejoice when suffering passes us by, but we embrace them both as satisfactory ways to gain our greatest joy:  Jesus.

So we seek to join Paul in saying, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

Crave Something More Topic of the Week:  Suffering

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My Dog Has a Cone: Thoughts on Suffering

Published on November 17, 2009 by CT in Blog, Kindling


My Dog Has a Cone

When others’ words kindle my own flame:  Reflections on words by Jenn Humphrey.

My dog has a cone on her head.  It’s kind of pathetic.  She’s a really cute dog, but she’s not terribly impressive on her own.  The cone takes her pitiable state to another level entirely.

She got the cone as a result of a recent surgery, and she’s going to have to wear it for about a week.  And she’s feeling really sorry for herself.  Anna said Bear just sits on the floor looking miserable; it’s as if she’s thrown a pity party for herself and won’t let anyone come.  When she goes in her cage, she can’t turn around, so she just sits there and whimpers.

I can empathize with her.  I haven’t ever worn a cone, and to be completely honest, I haven’t really had much worth whining about.  But I still whine.  It may not be as high pitched as Bear’s whine, but it shows up in different forms:  discontentment when I’m not getting what I want; self-righteousness when I’m not getting what I want the way I want it; impatience when I’m not getting what I want as quickly as I want it.

If you didn’t know me very well, you might not even notice, but the whining is there.  I can just feel it rise up within my every single day, because every single day I encounter things that don’t happen the way I would like.  And I think these little sins are rooted in a bigger sin:  unbelief.

Let me show you a picture of the grace of believing in the sovereign goodness of God in the midst of true, whine-worthy suffering.  My friend Jenn was diagnosed with uterine and cervical cancer about a month ago.  She’s gone through four weeks of chemo and radiation, and now she has to have a radioactive rod placed inside her body for three days on two separate occasions, and she can’t have any visitors during this time as she lays in isolation.

If I whine about unbelievably insignificant things, I don’t know how I’d react in a situation like Jenn’s.  But here’s what she has to say about it:

I have felt weakened and my voice small.  I have felt too tired to speak.  The fight in me was waning…I’m scared.  I am dreading [this procedure].  And that dread has not disappeared.

Tonight as my mom asked me what I was thinking and I told her it was dread it made me start thinking.  Another friend in Christ told me in an email that God doesn’t waste pain.  I had no idea what that really meant.  But I think I get it now.  I think it means that God isn’t going to allow us to experience pain for nothing.  It is not in vain.  It wasn’t in vain when Christ on the cross was crucified.  His pain was for a purpose.  My pain is for a purpose.

My mom mentioned Hezekiah and I looked up some verses on him. He was ill and was told by a prophet that the Lord said he would die.   But Hezekiah turned to the wall and prayed and asked the Lord to remember him and he wept bitterly.  And the Lord heard him and added more years to his life.

I am praying Hezekiah’s words [in Isaiah 38].  Surely, my pain is for my benefit.  I am living and I will praise him.  The Lord will save me.  I will continue to trust in the name of the Lord… I know that my situation must not be in vain.  That God will be glorified in all things and I will glorify him in my battle with cancer.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Here is a woman clinging to the word of God, not because it’s her last hope, but because it’s her only hope and because it brings life.  Which is what belief in the sovereign goodness of God brings.  My theology is as good as Jenn’s—I’ve studied this subject a fair bit and written about it several times.  But my practice does not match my theology, which renders it nearly useless.  It’s like starving to death with a sandwich in your hand.

So I’m encouraged by Jenn’s example and convicted by my own unbelief in God’s good purposes in my life.  May He grant me mercy for my sin of unbelief and the grace to rip off my spiritual cone and the whining that has accompanied it, so I can live like Jenn is living:  trusting in the sovereign goodness of God.

To keep up with Jenn, you can visit her care center blog.

Update (2/16/10):  Jenn is now cancer free!

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You Don’t Want To Read This

Published on November 1, 2009 by CT in Blog, Kindling


You Don't Want To Read This

When others’ words kindle my own flame:  Reflections on words by @JohnPiper.


“WARNING Graphic. Don’t talk about the sovereignty of God in suffering without this reality in your mind.” (John Piper on Twitter)


I realize the title of this post may actually make you want to read this, so I am in a sense being disingenuous by drawing you in by this method.  But if you’re anything like me, you may be sick to your stomach at the end of what you read, so know you have been warned.

We are in the middle of shooting videos to support chapter downloads of Crave (beginning next week), and one of the chapters we shot this weekend was called “Suffering.”  It’s an exploration of how God uses suffering in the lives of His people to sanctify them; specifically it focuses on what Paul means in calling suffering a gift (see Phil 1:29).  It asks us to go to war with our understanding of good, knowing God works together all things for our good, including suffering.

I mean to treat the subject boldly, to engage an issue that seems uncomfortable and bring hard, Biblical truth to bear on the matter.  But I now realize I treat the subject dismissively, writing from the whitest of ivory towers with not so much as a tear to shed in the global experience of suffering.

I realize this because of John Piper’s Tweet; more specifically, because of the picture to which he links.  He prefaces the picture with a warning and is right to do so.  I echo that warning.  I don’t do well with graphic pictures, but the topic caught my eye and I took a look.  And I’m sorry and glad I did.

This picture changes things for me.  I hope and pray it doesn’t change my theology.  I hope it changes the way I think about my theology, or rather, the way I think about this God I serve.  A God who works all things together for good, including the suffering I’ve experience in being laughed at for being a Christian, is a different God who works all things together for good, to include the suffering of a girl who has half her faced burned off.  I guess He’s not actually a different God; it’s my understanding of this God that’s different.

God is sovereign and good.  There’s a danger to believing in this kind of God when you live in a place like Afghanistan where suffering is a way of life.  But there’s perhaps more of a danger to believing in this kind of God when you live in a place where comfort is a way of life.  May God grant us grace to grow in our understanding of Him, and may His kind of mercy blow the doors off the kind of grace we think we might want.

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Note:  A follow-up Tweet by @JohnPiper stated:  “Many have asked where the WARNING picture I posted came from.  Here:  She was burned in a helicopter attack.”

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The Insufficiency and Sufficiency of Words

Published on October 4, 2009 by CT in Blog, Kindling


The Insufficiency and Sufficiency of WordsWhen others’ words kindle my own flame:

Reflections on words by Abraham Piper @ Twenty Two Words Dot Com


Sometimes people say that 22 words isn’t enough to get my point across. To this, I say,…


If the goal is complete clarity, even 775,000 words is insufficient.

Fortunately, there are other reasons to write than being understood.


My favorite comment about artists is this:  “Just because no one understands you doesn’t make you an artist.”  It’s always fun to make fun of slightly vague, overly nuanced, different for the sake of conforming to a different community kind of people.  But being a writer kind of makes me one, so I need to own it.  As an artist, I create because I want to inspire, to comfort, to deepen affections, and to be accepted.

I’ve thought a lot about whether or not I’d continue writing if no one read what I wrote.  I’d like to say I would, that I would do it for the sake of writing, and that there’s some inherent value in doing so.  And I suppose there is; journaling is widely accepted as a useful tool in meditation and prayer.  But isn’t the reason we write is to be read, and ultimately, to be understood?

Abraham Piper disagrees.  And I agree with him, even though that means disagreeing with myself, which is something an artist would say.  Piper takes a lighthearted dig at his questioners and raises a meaningful question of his own, asking why we write.

I won’t put words in his mouth, but I write because I want Jesus to be treasured above all things.  That sounds far nobler than is the truth; I’ve already mentioned I write to be accepted, and the desire to be noticed and praised goes much deeper.  But I continue to preach to my soul that all things exist for Jesus (Col 1:16), including the words that flow out my fingertips.

Ultimately, if all things exist for Jesus, then words are insufficient.  This is why John ends his gospel by writing, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did.  Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25).  But words can also be gloriously sufficient when their purpose serves a higher end than their source.  This is why Luke opens his gospel by writing, “It seemed good to me…to write…that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:3-4).

This is a paradox, which is OK because God created paradox (see the Trinity, the Incarnation, Divine Election and Human Responsibility, etc), making Him the ultimate artist.  So I create, and perhaps you do as well.  If so, why do you write, or paint, or create songs?

Original Blog Posting:  (

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