Words fail me after watching this awesome video! in which Carlos Whittaker sings God of Second Chances
I love the way John Piper starts out his post, which is a copy of his speech to the American Association of Counselors. He says, I am a man
- who must crucify the love of praise every day;
- who struggles with the same adolescent fear at age 63 that he had at 15, the fear of looking foolish;
- who is prone to feel self-pity and pout when he doesn’t get loved the way he wants;
- who is almost never sure he has used his time in the best way and therefore struggles with guilt;
- who is short on compassion and long on critical analysis;
- who can freeze up emotionally when he’s tired, and feel instinctively that it’s someone else’s fault;
- who loves to praise God in the great assembly and feels a constraint on his spirit in his own living room;
- who has loved his wife of forty years imperfectly and spent with her over three of those years with a Christian counselor trying to become better images of Christ and the church;
- and who never feels sure that his motives are pure, including right now, for why he is telling you all this.
I am sure he does this on one level because he is speaking to a room full of counselors but on a deeper level so that they will see why he needs and loves the grace of God. The grace of God enables us to behold the glory of the Son of God and beholding that glory, we are transformed (Jn 1:14-16 and 2 Cor 3:18) into that same image. Thus, we discover what we were created for–that we might praise the glory of his grace (Eph 1:14-16). Piper says,
If praising God’s glory is our final destiny, then seeing and savoring and praising God’s glory must be at the heart of what it means to be fully human. Seeing and savoring God is, therefore, the heart of mental health.
And here is where Piper makes a point that so many of us get wrong, “Authentic, heartfelt, truth-based, God-centered praise is the mark of mental health, not a means to mental health.” As we behold His glory, as we praise His glory, we are made whole but that is not why we praise His glory. God reaches out to us in loves and we have a deep experience of His love so that God receives more glory from our praise. As Piper says,
“. . . feeling loved by God means feeling glad that God not only crushed his Son for me, but that he is now crushing every vestige of desire in my life that competes with the pleasure of the praise of the glory of his grace.”
And for all of us who have had some experience of the healing that God’s grace brings to us, we recognize that we would never have come to this point on our own. Piper closes out about this point,
There is only one hope for Christ-exalting transformation in our preaching and our counseling—the supernatural work of God giving us eyes to see and hearts to savor the all-satisfying beauty of the glory of the grace of God. When that happens, our obsession with self will be broken, and beholding the glory of the Lord, we will be changed into his image from one degree of glory to the next.
Classic John Piper, bringing us back to the Scriptures and to what is of supreme importance, the glory of God.
Yesterday, I wrote about the problem in the world today. Well, this week I have been meditating on Psalm 150 and it seems to me that praise offers us a perspective changing solution to the the problems we face. It does not solve our problems or the world problems but it helps us to see the bigger picture. To be honest, when I first started reading the Psalm early in the week, I didn’t get much out of it but with multiple readings and a little help from the Holy Spirit and Derek Kidner, I discovered some refreshing things in the words.
Not surprisingly, the hebrew word, hallal (praise) dominates the Psalm, being used 13 times in the 6 verses, 12 of these are in the imperative mood. It starts and finishes with Praise be to Yahweh (Hallelujah transliterated). The focus is on praise to Yahweh, the covenant making and covenant keeping God of Israel (and now of the church)! Then it says to Praise Elohim in verse 1 followed by nine commands to “Praise him.”
Kidner suggests an easy to remember breakdown of the Psalm, Where of praise v1, Why of praise vv2-3, How of praise vv4-5, Who of praise v 6
Where–likely, the reference is to the holy place of God in the heavenlies. We are to remember that this one we praise is not like us, yes, we have earthly tabernacles and churches but they are merely representations of his transcendent reality. As Kidner says, “His glory fills the universe; his praise must do no less.” As I wrote in my journal, “There is something transforming about praise. It keeps my focus on where it should be and not on my problems, my self-preoccupation is moved to reflect on our majestic, worthy, awesome, redemption-gathering, compassion-giving God, who is LORD of all!!
Why of praise v2–we are to praise God because he is strong and he has abundant greatness. We remember the amazing things he does for us every day and we remember his character which is so unlike our own. He is good, kind, loving, full of grace, merciful, knows all, has unlimited power, is present everywhere, is unchanging in his holy and just character. All we have comes from his hand, including each breath we take–how could we not want to praise him?
How of praise vv3-5 What a variety of sources for praise, worship instruments, secular instruments, tools for communication (today’s internet and email). Each word we speak, breath we breathe–are they offering him praise. Do we see the dogs barking, the cocks crowing as giving him praise–animals, cattle, small creatures and birds are commanded to give him praise in Ps 18:10. All of creation longs to give him praise (Rom 8), had the people of Jersualem not given him praise upon his entry, even the rocks would have cried out with praise. If praise is to come from every imaginable source, why do we fight so much about it??? Sigh. . .
Who v6 Let every nephesh give him praise says the Psalmist. Yes, all of creation is to give him praise.
How can we not be lifted up when we give our hearts to praise? I need to go back and re-read, reflect on 31 days to praise, a small journal type book focusing on praising God. But, praise is something that I need to carry throughout the day, seeing the beauty and goodness of God in each moment of each day!!