This weekend (I was in Athens, Ohio–more on this in a future post), I got to spend several hours with a young man who just recently got back from a two-year missionary stint in East Asia. His name is Mark, he was a college student and member of First Baptist Church of Athens while I was the pastor there, and he’s like my “son in the faith.” I just love to hear Mark talk about his dreams, and also his experiences (he could have lost his life a couple of times these past two years!). 

He said something Sunday afternoon that was so profound, I wanted to share it with you. He was talking about how truly difficult life on the mission field can be (he was not complaining, just stating facts), and then he said something like this, “You can go to a hard place and might be sustained for maybe a couple of months just off of the buzz of John Piper sermons, but spiritual highs from things like that don’t last. What is ultimately needed is steady and prayerful meditation on Scripture.” Mark and I both really love John Piper’s preaching, and God has given the church pastor-teachers (Ephesians 4:11-12), but I think he’s on to something here, not only for future missionaries but Christians in general.  Consider the words of the psalmist: “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19:7-8). Or think of Jesus Who, when He was in the wilderness being tempted, was sustained by and countered Satan with Scripture (see Matthew 4:1-11).

Piper sermons are normally very helpful, but they must complement, not replace, a life of Scripture reading and meditation. John Piper’s words will not get you through the hard times, God’s Word will. Thanks, Mark. I love you brother.