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When I Don't Desire God (Redesign): How to Fight for Joy Paperback – October 31, 2013
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About the Author
John Piper is founder and lead teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He served for thirty-three years as the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than fifty books, including Desiring God; Don’t Waste Your Life; and Reading the Bible Supernaturally.
Founder and Teacher, desiringGod.org; Chancellor, Bethlehem College & Seminary; author, Desiring God
- Item Weight : 11.6 ounces
- Paperback : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1433543176
- ISBN-13 : 978-1433543173
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.68 x 8.5 inches
- Publisher : Crossway; Redesign edition (October 31, 2013)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #28,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The primary means that God uses to awaken joy are the Word, Prayer and the World. Piper devotes two chapters to the Word of God (one to show its worth and the other to show practical ways in using the Word to fight for joy), two chapters to Prayer (it's focus and its practice) and one chapter on using the world to see the glory of God, thus enhancing our joy. He ends with a chapter on practical things to do when the darkness doesn't just go away. Here are some of the highlights of the book:
First, how do we practically wield the Word of God in our fight for joy? He suggests several strategies: 1) By reading the Bible with a plan & with regularity. 2) By memorizing verses, paragraphs, chapters and even whole books of the Bible. 3) By meditating on the Word day and night (literally muttering in the heart with regularity) 4) By exposing ourselves to Bible-saturated people - both the living and the dead 5) By being a responsible member of a local church (because the Word is a "community treasure", and God strengthens our joy through loving community). 6) By reading Christian biography ("you get to see a person fight for joy over a lifetime") 7) By reading great books of Bible doctrine. I will let Piper speak on this last point (for those who struggle with weighty doctrinal books): 'I would challenge you to throw off the notion that weighty books of doctrine are joy-squelching, while light devotional books are joy-producing. It's true that the joy of serious reading and the thinking that goes with it (sometimes called study) may not be as immediate as the joy of singing in church, or seeing a sunset, or talking with a friend, or hearing a preacher with lots of stories. But the payload for joy may be greater. Raking is easier than digging, but you only get leaves. If you dig, you may get diamonds'
Next, how does the practice of consistent prayer help us in our fight for joy? According to Piper, "Praying without ceasing" (praying with a spirit of dependence, praying over and over/often, not giving up on prayer) is the key to maintaining joy in God and His Word. He then moves on to the practical aspect of setting a time, place and method of prayer (the main method being praying the Word of God, much like method of the prayerful George Muller). He also mentions fasting and having other people pray with you and for you as other strategies in our fight for joy in prayer.
Finally, how do we wield the world in our fight for joy? It is not just the Word of God that helps us see the glory of God (thus producing joy in us) but also the physical world around us. All our senses become partners with the heart's eyes to see the glory of God through the created world. He then talks about how both the indirect use and direct use of the physical world helps us in our fight for joy. He writes rather persuasively, "The indirect use is when we take steps to keep our bodies and minds as fit as we can for spiritual use...The direct use of the physical world in our fight for joy may be a trip to the Grand Canyon, or rising early enough to see a sunrise, or attending a symphony, or reading a historical novel, or studying physics, or memorizing a poem, or swimming in the ocean, or eating a fresh pineapple, or smelling a gardenia blossom, or putting your hand through your wife’s hair, or watching Olympic gymnastics finals". This was the best chapter in the book according to me. His final chapter on fighting for joy in the midst of persistent suffering is worth the price of the book as well.
All in all, I found this book to be a demanding read (not just because of Piper's 'sometimes humdrum' writing style but also - positively - because of his profundity of thought and imagination). John Piper doesn't usually disappoint with his books and this book is no exception. But be prepared to dig to get the diamonds! I wholeheartedly recommend this book to you in your fight for joy in God!
This book delves into a struggle I have. I know I should desire God above all else...but frankly, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I don't even want to. The best I can say during these dark times is that I want to want to...
"When I Don't Desire God" has helped me see my Desiring God in a bit of a different light and helped me in my struggle to fight for joy.
Warning: John Piper is not an easy read. It's a commitment all its own just to finish his books. Very thick, very meaty.
John Piper doesn't disappoint. His books are deep which is exactly what I needed as there are just too many superficial books on various Christian topics which tend to lack substance or depth or have any real effect in changing one's heart. John Piper tells it like it is and gets to the heart of the matter.
I'm so glad I finally gave in and purchased this book. I have been blessed and I have been able to rediscovered the joy of the Lord that I had when I was first saved.
If you can't handle the truth and are not wanting to actually put the time and struggle into what it takes to truly abide with God on a deeper level than this book is not for you. If you are a mature believer who needs a good kick in the pants than this is the book for you. Awesome book! If it is what you need then you will NOT be disappointed!
Top reviews from other countries
I'm aware, just judging from the almost uniformly glowing Amazon reviews that Piper is thought of in hallowed terms. I'm therefore going against the tide slightly here. Authors are human like the rest of us and although one can be divinely inspired, not everything that is said or written is to be taken as gospel.
As I recall this is my first foray into Piper's work after I heard a recommendation of 'When I Don't Desire God...' on a podcast. The book's aim is of course very noble. Despite the many references to joy in the scriptures (as a source of strength, a fruit of the spirit etc), it can be elusive for some if not many. As has been pointed out, Piper gives some very practical tips on how to seek, and hopefully, apprehend Godly joy including ways to improve our prayer life, our approach to bible reading or simply being more observant of the every day wonders around us we take for granted (the 'How to Wield the World in the Fight for Joy' chapter is, for me, the most inspired).
However there are some issues with Piper's style that could be summarised in two points. As has also been remarked, Piper tends to labour the point in places, which ironically gets lost in his verbosity. Secondly, and most problematic for me, is what comes across as a sanctimonious tone. I appreciate that Piper is trying to counter the complacent, feel-good, consumer-style Christianity that has plagued the Western world. Nonetheless at times he romanticises suffering (as many modern Western saints do). His stance on some issues can also be legalistic.He insinuates that lingering behind every saint's dark days is some culpability which just isn't true or even that biblical. I find it worrying that another reviewer feels Piper should emphasise duty over feelings more than he already does -and to good effect. (There are those obviously more hard-line than the author). For someone who struggles with a tendency towards legalism and joyless service myself, the book wasn't always helpful in that regards.
Piper clearly has very strong personal convictions which he is keen to express with veiled criticism of those who might hold a contrary view. It's not so much what he says but the way he says it. There's one passage where he upbraids those who feel they do not evangelise enough. This is a subject close to my heart and I often feel the same frustration that Christians are too guarded about their faith. Still, Piper's didactic 'shame on you' approach is hardly motivating. Maybe there are those who need this 'tough love' talk, but to my mind, it could be counter-productive.
'When I Don't Desire...' isn't completely devoid of compassion but I do wish Piper would show a bit more understanding for the fact that people's faith journey is also coloured by their experience, worldview, upbringing etc as his own. A little more objectivity wouldn't go amiss.
Although the book's strong points make it worth a read and there are moments of great insight that I will cherish. Still, I'd hesitate to recommend it outright as these are often obscured by Piper's inclination to sermonise...which isn't as conducive on paper as it might be on the pulpit.