I am so thrilled to share today's blog interview with you.
Last year, Jon Bloom, President of Desiring God, the ministry of John Piper, connected with me on twitter, and we got together for lunch. Since that time, I've had the great joy of getting together with him every few months to talk about the Lord, and learn from him.
Last fall, he gave me a working copy of his first book Not By Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking By Faith. As I began reading, I was soon swept away by the power and the insight within it's pages. Earlier this year, he asked me to write an endorsement for the book, which releases in bookstores everywhere today. I gladly said yes. I am astonished to have been asked, alongside other endorsers for the book: John Piper, J.I. Packer, Ann Voskamp and others.
I think this is the most important book you should read this year, because it contains a depth of discipleship untouched by most books.
His book is available everywhere today, and I wanted to spend a few moments asking him more about the background in the blog interview below, to encourage you to pick up a copy right away.
This is your first book. After working with Dr. Piper on so many of his books, why did you decide to write this one now?
I didn’t actually set out to write a book. Nine years ago I began writing devotional letters to the intercessors and financial supporters of Desiring God. Over the years the letters have focused on themes of walking by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7) because I constantly need fresh examples and exhortations to trust God’s promises over my perceptions.
As the years passed, I received increasing amounts of feedback that readers were finding these meditations very helpful. Some were keeping every letter in a folder. About 5 years ago I began to receive requests that these be published in a book. I thought nothing of it at first. But as the requests increased I wondered if the Lord was in it. My wife, Pam, and I, along with others, prayed about it for a couple of years. In the fall of 2011, I submitted a proposal to Crossway Publishers. They graciously approved it and now there’s a book.
What are the few main takeaways you hope people get out of reading the book?
Trust God’s promises over your perceptions. That’s the lesson of every story in the book and most stories in the Bible.
The work God wants us to do is to believe in Jesus (John 6:29). That is the most important work we will ever do in our lives.
Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6), because everything that “does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
The battle lines are drawn over faith. Paul is not being metaphorical when he calls life a fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12). It’s a real war and the fiercest fights you’ll ever have are over believing in Jesus and all the promises of God. That’s why things are so hard and why the Bible (and therefore this book) is “written so that you may believe” (John 20:31).
Are there any chapters that are the most meaningful to you, and why?
Today it’s chapter 26, “God’s Purposes Can Be Opposite of Our Perceptions.” It’s based on John 9 when Jesus healed the man born blind. This man had lived his whole life with a disability that had resulted in exquisite suffering, poverty, humiliation, and loneliness all of his life. And on top of that, all the normal, successful people condemned him as having sinned as a fetus (either that or his parents). What had life been like for him? Then Jesus came and changed everything. And what everybody thought had been God’s curse turned out to be a blessing beyond comprehension, and what everybody thought had God’s blessing—the religious leaders’ prosperity—turned out to have God’s curse. The man was born blind to display God’s grace. That’s strengthening my faith today.
Why do you think faith is so important in God's economy?
Faith is important to God because we glorify the one we trust. The one we trust ultimately is our god. Faith is trusting God while unbelief is leaning on our own understanding (Prov. 3:5). Unbelief in God is essentially deposing God in our hearts and putting ourselves in his place.
The essence of the fall of Adam and Eve was that they trusted their perceptions over God’s word as the more reliable mediator of truth. They trusted their ears in the serpent’s lie, their eyes in the fruit’s beauty, and their emotions in desiring to be wise like God (Gen. 3:6)).
When we become new creations (2 Cor. 5:17), it happens by God’s grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). Faith is the beginning of the new creation. It’s restoring first what was first lost in Eden.
So faith is important to God because it marks his children. God’s children believe in Jesus (John 8:47). The devil’s children don’t believe in Jesus but believe lies (John 8:44).
Who are some of your personal heroes of faith, and what did they go through that makes them stand out to you?
Some biblical heroes:
- Abraham who believed God’s promise for a child for 25 years while it grew increasingly humanly impossible to occur;
- Joseph (Jacob’s son) who trusted God for 12 years when things went from bad to worse in Egypt;
- John the Baptist who rejoiced to see Jesus increase and himself decrease;
Some heroes of Christian history:
- Augustine who struggled so much on his God-led journey to faith;
- George Mueller and Hudson Taylor who were willing to trust completely in the promises of God and lived Hebrews 11:6 and Philippians 4:6-7 beautifully;
- John Piper whose preaching, writing, and personal example of faith has shaped me more than any other extra-biblical teacher;
What are your hopes for people as they read your book?
My hope is that this book will help people believe in Jesus while living in a very confusing, painful world that “lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19) who is working with all his might to “blind the minds of unbelievers” (2 Cor. 4:4) and lead believers astray (Matt. 24:24). I want to help them to see Jesus through the window of the word and follow him.
Also, today, I interviewed with Jon Bloom and Susie Larson on Faith radio network. You can hear more from Jon and me about his book here.