Michael G. Morrow – Servant of God

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This is not the type of blog post that gives me great pleasure to type.  It is, however, a blog post that I feel I must write.  It is out of deep respect and gratitude for a man who has greatly influenced and shaped my life that I write this.  So, in memory of Michael G. Morrow I dedicate this post.

Upon hearing about Mike’s passing just last week I felt much that can only be described as bittersweet.  He had been ill and in the intensive care unit of the hospital and my husband and I were praying for him daily.  I felt the pain of sadness (bitter) at the news of his death but, at the same time, I felt relieved (sweet) that he no longer would suffer and his spirit was immediately in the presence of the Lord, Jesus Christ … the moment he longed for most of his life.  I spent most of the night giving thanks to God for His mercy in finally taking Mike home. But I also spent some time trying to recall when, exactly, I first ‘met’ Mike.  I put the word met in air quotes because, you see, I have never actually met Mike face to face.

It was just about five years ago.  I was trying my very best to spend time each day studying God’s word.  As is so often the case I would wind up with more questions than I had answers.  As much as I loved my (former) pastor, my attempts to approach him time after time with Bible questions were met with disinterest.  He was a very busy man taking care of many business items for the church and had little time to spend in discipleship.  Yes, I know, it didn’t seem right.  Anyway, in an effort to keep learning, I would seek out teachings on YouTube of those that I came to trust theologically.

One of these ministers of God’s word was pretty well known and I spent many hours listening to him and even ultimately doing his Bible studies that he had available.  But when it came to questions about something he taught, well I just couldn’t get in touch with him.  Now, I want to say that he is very well known, and is a very busy person, so I hold no ill will toward him.  BUT, it did me little good when it came to trying to better understand God’s word.  In one of his online sermons he spoke of a man that was older than he and he considered him a mentor.  He happened to mention where that man was from.  Something inside of me thought that if he was a mentor to him then surely he must be a worthy person to look up.  And so I did.  And I’m happy to say that I found him online with sermons of his own.  I began to listen to this man known as Mike Morrow.

I remember that the particular series that he began teaching was the book of Romans.  He was teaching from his home, in his study.  I remember the bookcase behind him was floor to ceiling covered with books.  I was absolutely happy to begin studying while listening to him.  Here’s where it really all begins.  On one of the first of those videos I got stuck on something he was teaching about.  I can’t remember now what it was but I do remember that I posted my question in the comment section below the video.  To my great surprise he answered my question almost right away.  AND, for the rest of his study in Romans, whenever I had a question and posted it in the comment section, he would answer over and over again almost right away.

From there I took to reading his blog appropriately titled ‘The Theolog (Student of God)’.  He, in return followed my blog(s) and we would comment back and forth on things that we wrote.  From there I sent him a friend request on Facebook to which he accepted.  It was there that I could again walk through some difficult aspects of a study and he would offer his answer or advice.  He was always quick to recommend a book or article that dealt with something I was studying.  No matter what the topic, Brother Mike would search out resources to help me out.  Here was a man who didn’t even know me but he took the time to help me better understand God’s word … even during times of health scares, his and mine.

I want to offer up some observations about Mike that I will carry with me for many, many years.  First, his love of God’s word was glowingly obvious.  You just knew it was a subject that was near and dear to his heart and one he would talk about whenever the opportunity by God was given.  Second, he loved his wife with every fabric of his being.  Mike often shared his love of Susan and took every opportunity to interject something of their lives that pertained to what he was teaching.  Whenever he mentioned Susan, his face lit up.  Third, and probably most important to me, when many others would not take the time to teach God’s word to a virtual stranger, Mike would.  I had no fanciful ideas that I was the only one.  No, I believe that it was probably true of many, many others who passed through his life in one way or another.

Today I am grateful that God was so gracious to allow me the opportunity to ‘meet’ Mike and to be blessed by his wisdom, grace and humbleness.  I pray that in some small way this honors his memory.  May Mike’s teachings that are now wonderfully, digitally saved be a blessing to others who come to hear of him.  He leaves behind a legacy of always sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, and wisdom to understand the depths of God’s love.

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Our Passion for Christ’s Passion

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My daughter called me two days ago asking if we could do lunch and a movie at my house.  I asked her if she had a particular movie in mind and she said, “I really would like to see The Passion of the Christ because I’ve never seen it.”  Knowing that my daughter is not one to hold her own when it comes to blood, I asked her if she understood the graphic nature of the movie and was she sure?  I have to trust that the Holy Spirit was working in her life because she insisted that’s what she wanted to watch.  I gratefully indulged her and today we enjoyed subs for lunch followed by The Passion of the Christ.  Following the movie, she asked many, many questions … all of which are questions that any believer should be prepared to answer.  I wanted to share with you how we can use even movies that may not be completely correct to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Her questions:

Why did God forsake Jesus on the Cross?
• A very good opportunity to explain about how horrible sin is—our sin! To explain the justice of God against sin AND at the same time explain the love of God who saves us from sin. To explain the full price Christ paid on the cross and that, for believers, God now sees us as redeemed because of the ransom paid.

Did Jesus’ mother know that this was going to happen to her Son?
• An excellent opportunity to talk about God’s prophetic word in the Old Testament. To speak about her submission to God’s will to bear the long awaited Messiah. To see in her the acceptance of Jesus as her son and her Messiah.

Why was Satan following him all during most of the trials but he wasn’t there at the very end during the crucifixion?
• A great time to explain about the ‘poetic license’ taken by the producers of the movie.  But it was also a good opportunity to talk about the victory over sin and death that Christ won on the cross and in the resurrection.

What was the point of the snake at the beginning of the movie when Jesus was in the garden?
• While this was more poetic license, it was an opportunity to explain that we can read the prophecies of Christ all the way back to Genesis. This scene in the movie was to help us to recall one of the earliest prophesies of how “he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15

The movie ended kind of suddenly … isn’t there more?
• This was one of my favorite questions because, yes, there is SO much more. This was a great opportunity to talk about the difference between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. That we often pay so much attention to Resurrection Sunday that we must understand all of the passion of Christ. This was where we talked about what the Gospel is. To understand that we are not good…no one is good, we are all sinners who deserve the justice of God’s wrath. But God did/does love us so much that He gave His Son who paid the price that we deserved. It is one thing to just know who Jesus is and what He did; even Satan and the demons know this. It is another to believe that it was done for you, and me…by the Son of God who did rise from the grave just as was prophesied and just as He said He would. A good time to speak about 40 days more of instruction from the resurrected Christ and all that we have in the New Testament.

But what about babies or children or people who have never heard the Gospel? Will they be saved?
• A great opportunity to talk about God’s love yet again. How each day that passes is a gift of common grace to all mankind, allowing them another day to not reject His offer of salvation but to come to know Him. It was also a wonderful opportunity to talk about how God is visible all around and He has made Himself known in this world–His creation. I urged her to look at Romans 1 to understand it better.

Aren’t those great questions? We talked about so much more than what I have written here. I pray that my answers and comments about sanctification, and grace, and glorification were answers that will stay with her, and in the quiet times that will come for her she will recall and will understand. While I am not a very big fan of most ‘Christian’ movies put out … I do feel that God can use them as He chooses. Where other movies have fallen way short of the graphic nature of Christ’s death, this movie does well.  I do believe that it is important to understand the suffering of Christ for in His suffering we see most strongly His love “in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”. Romans 5:8

Salvation is not about saying one prayer but about many prayers. My daughter, like all people, must come to a moment in time where she recognizes her sin and her need of a Savior. I pray that the Holy Spirit has been working in her heart to bring about this moment. I pray that she will know when her heart of stone has been changed into a heart of flesh and that that heart will surrender to the Lord and Savior of her life. The Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification is what will see her on the path that God has for her.

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Food for Mind and Soul

This is going to be a short post but I can assure you it is packed with lots of info.  Awhile back I posted a blog on some of my very favorite online teachers.  Today I’m updating my list and I pray that it will be of benefit to you because, as the good Lord knows, it has been a tremendous blessing to me.  Here you go … resources (although not exhaustive) for great biblical teaching:

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John MacArthur

Remaining at the top of my list is John MacArthur of Grace To You.  Check out his web site for great resources that will keep you in God’s word for a lifetime.  John has the God-given ability to open up the Word in a life changing way.

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Alistair Begg

Next is another great teacher of the Word, Alistair Begg.  His daily program at Truth For Life is a resource that will keep you immersed in the Word of God every single day of the week.  I love his wit and humor … a humble man of God.

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Gabe Hughes

If you want a daily resource that will keep you in a study of the books of the Bible, you need go no further than Gabe Hughes of WWUTT (When We Understand the Text). Not only is he a wonderful expository preacher, his online short, pithy videos will bless you with an increased knowledge of God’s word.

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Chris Rosebrough

Adding to my list is an excellent resource for teaching biblical discernment.  Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith helps you to meander through the sea of false teaching that’s out there, and gives you the tools needed to “help you think biblically, help you think critically….” His sharp-tongued critiques will keep you coming back.

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Jonathan Fisk

Last, but certainly not least, is Jonathan Fisk and the good people at Worldview Everlasting.  Lots of great teaching videos that will keep you in the Word-asking questions and exploring the texts.

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A Covenant Prayer

I love to read the beautifully written prayers of saints long gone.  Recently I was listening to a sermon by Alistair Begg … a sermon from a series entitled ‘A Charge to a Man of God‘.  As Brother Alistair was winding down the series he closed by giving a quote from someone, quite frankly, I had never heard of before.  It was from William Grimshaw of Haworth, a prayer he had written down as a covenant between himself and God.  Oh what a magnificently beautiful prayer.

I researched the prayer and found it online quite quickly.  I look forward to owning the book someday, but for now I’m going to post his prayer here for you to enjoy and ponder.

The Personal Covenant of William Grimshaw

[Editor’s note: On December 4, 1752, the Reverend William Grimshaw wrote out the following personal covenant with God, which he renewed four times each year with a day of fasting.]

Glory be to You, O triune God. I desire to be wholly Yours forever. This day I give myself up to You as a living sacrifice. I solemnly renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil. No more, directly or indirectly, will I obey them.

O Lord, I would steadfastly persevere to my last breath in obedience to Your commandments. I pray that every day of my life may correct the failures of the former, and that by divine grace I may be enabled to grow more active in doing right.
I also most humbly resign and submit all that I have to Your sovereign will. I leave to Your management and direction all that I possess and all that I wish. I set every enjoyment and interest before You to be disposed of as You please.

Although I dare not say that I will never complain, yet I will labor not only to submit but also to acquiesce to Your will. I will not only bear the heaviest afflictions on me but I will also consent to them, and praise You for them, contentedly resolving my will into Yours. I esteem myself as nothing, and You, O God, as the great Eternal All whose word should determine, and whose power should order, all things in the world.

Use me, O Lord, as the instrument of Your glory, and honor me by allowing me to bring praise to Your name by both action and suffering. Receive me, O heavenly Father, being already washed in Christ’s blood and clothed with His righteousness. Sanctify me thoroughly by the power of Your Holy Spirit.

Destroy, I beseech You, the power of sin in my heart more and more, and transform me more into the image of Jesus, whom I would henceforth ever acknowledge as my Teacher, Sacrifice, Intercessor, and Lord.

Grant unto me all the needful influences of Your purifying, cheering, and comforting Spirit, and lift up that light of Your countenance upon me that will put the greatest joy and gladness into my heart. Dispose of my affairs, O God, in a manner that will be wholly useful to Your glory and my own true happiness. When I have done and endured Your will for me upon the earth, call me to Yourself at whatever time and in whatever manner You please. Only grant that in my dying moments I may remember these my commitments to You.

I desire to live and die with my hand upon the hope of eternal life. When I am numbered with the dead and all the interests of mortality are over with me forever, if this solemn memorial should fall into the hands of any surviving friends or relatives, may it be the means of making serious impressions upon their minds. May they read it not only as my language but as their own, and may they learn to fear the Lord my God and, with me, to put their trust under the shadow of His wings for time and for eternity. May they also learn to adore with me that grace that inclines our hearts to enter into the covenant, ascribing with me, and with all the nations of the redeemed, that glory, honor, and praise that is so justly due to You. Amen.

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Help Me Build A Spring Well

Won’t you please join with me as I endeavor to raise $3,500 in the next 60 days so that Hydrating Humanity can build a spring well in a community of East Africa that has no clean water. I am overwhelmed at the blessing’s God has given me, and you, every time I turn my faucet on. I can no longer sit back and do nothing while millions die each year from contaminated water. Won’t you give the equivalent of one month’s water bill toward this project? Thank you so much for desiring to help those in need!

Isaiah 58:11 Spring

UPDATE!  The well has been built!  Praise God for the generosity of family and friends.  Thank you so much.  There will now be up to 250 people that will have clean drinking water that did not have it before.  Is that great or WHAT??

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The Little Cross

When it comes to witnessing and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to young children, say as young as the age of eight, it can often seem a daunting task. The attention span of a child that young is short, often very, very short. One can easily ‘tell the story’ but if a child is not interested, it becomes simply a rehearsal of words. It’s important to seize upon those all too infrequent times where they truly want to know what it’s about. Today was such a day and an answer to prayer.

My husband and I were blessed to be asked to watch our grandson overnight. I love the times I get with the grandchildren. They are such a blessing. We’ve been keeping each and every one of them in prayer with particular emphasis on their salvation. I got up early today so as to attend early church service with my grandson while my husband had praise team practice for the later service. During the early hours of pre-dawn, I was praying earnestly that my grandson might happen upon one of those times of interest during hearing the Word preached at church. Little did I know, God had another moment in the Word in mind.

During our drive to church my grandson had my husband’s Bible on his lap. He noticed that the Bible had a metal cross attached to the zipper on the case. My grandson asks, “Why is there a plus sign on PapPap’s Bible?” I looked at him and he was smiling that sneaky grin he often gets. I said, “You know that’s a cross, right?” He laughed and said yes, that he often calls it a plus sign by mistake. We then got into a bit of a discussion on the difference between a cross and a plus sign. To better emphasize the point, I began to explain how they nailed Jesus to a cross and that they placed his arms open wide and nailed each hand to each part of the cross bar, then they nailed his feet together at the bottom. He looked at me and said, “Why did they do that?” There it is folks!!! That perfect opportunity dropped in the lap … a child sincerely wanting to know the answer to his question. It was then that I could begin to explain why Jesus died on the cross … why there needed to be payment for our sins and that only He could do that for us. He listened intently, truly taking in what I was explaining.

I then shared the best part of the Good News … that three days later God raised Him from the dead. He again looked at me and said, “How did he do that?!” My heart leapt with joy as I then knew he would hear and understand when I explained about the power of God, the only One who could raise Him from the dead. AND, that that same power that raised Jesus from the dead raises us from the dead and gives us new life in heaven. I knew he understood and was taking this quite seriously because he interrupted and said, “Not everyone.” It was then that I could share with him the salvation message. I could share with him what it means to be born again, to come before God with a heart that is sorry for ones sins … to say with your mouth that you believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead.

We were only minutes away from church by now so I took the remaining time to explain to him about thinking about these things seriously. That when he has come to a point of believing in his heart all these things– to go before God in prayer and tell Him all those things from his heart. It is at that time that God will forgive his sins, will assure him of his inheritance in heaven, will give him His Holy Spirit to live in him—guiding and directing him the rest of his life.

He understood, he really, really understood. In that short drive to church he heard the Gospel … all because of a small cross attached to a Bible. I am confident that one day I will hear the testimony of my grandson. My part today was planting a seed. Someone else will water and nurture until that day when fruit pours forth. It was a glorious Lord’s Day. I thank my heavenly Father for having prepared this young boy’s heart to hear the Good News that saves!

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Interview With Barnabas Piper on ‘The Pastor’s Kid’!

Author, Barnabas PiperI’ve been really excited to post this interview with Barnabas Piper, author of the soon-to-be released book ‘The Pastor’s Kid’. I was fortunate to get an advanced copy of the book and, in complete honesty, it was a great read. One I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend. Join me now in this interview as I ‘speak’ with Barnabas via e-mail about all things Piper! What was it like growing up as son of the well-known evangelical pastor, John Piper? Was Dad the same in person as in the pulpit? Do pastor’s kids really have tricks they use to get past the congregation? Why did you write a book about being a pastor’s kid? All this and more. Enjoy!

THE INTERVIEW:

The first thing I’d like to ask you, Barnabas, is would you share a bit about where you were born and raised? Feel free to actually throw in how old you are. How many siblings, etc.? From what I understand you’re a city boy and the neighborhood you grew up in wasn’t the easiest. Is that true?

I’m 31. I grew up in Minneapolis, MN just southeast of downtown in a neighborhood called Phillips. I have three older brothers and a younger sister. Where we grew up was an urban residential area, and it was inner city without being a really rough neighborhood. Suburban folks thought it was the hood, urban folks would find it pretty decent. I loved it. It was great experience to grow up in a neighborhood that was diverse and to play with kids from lots of different socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. It had its tough moments like when your garage was broken into repeatedly and bikes were stolen or when people would smash our car window in and steal the stereo. But I never felt unsafe or unsettled. It was a great place to grow up, and, having lived in the burbs for the past 13 years, I miss it.

I have to be honest in saying that one of the things that I was immediately curious about, especially when I heard you had a book coming out entitled, The Pastor’s Kid, was what it must have been like growing up the son of John Piper. I hope you’re not offended if I spend some time in that area. First, is John Piper—the father and husband—the John Piper we see from the pulpit?

Yes in terms of character and teaching. He is as consistent as the day is long. No in terms of expression. My dad is a quiet, introverted guy at home, not the fireball you see in the pulpit.

Many times your father talked about not having a TV. Is it really true (not that I’m calling your father a liar) that you grew up without television??? Surely you were able to ‘cheat’ and watch TV at your friends’ house(s)? Have you taken up this mantle in your own home as an adult?

We didn’t have a TV at home, and my folks still don’t. That was much more of a time thing than a moral thing. They never had an issue with me watching movies or sports with friends. They just knew that a TV would eat up time that would be better spent doing other things. I think that’s a big part of the reason I love sports and reading so much now. Those were my primary hobbies growing up, not TV or video games.

As your father grew in popularity, did you notice it happening and, if so, how did that affect you being his son? Did it change family life as you knew it?

I took notice of that in high school and then especially in college (late 90s-early 2000s). That’s when he went from a relatively known author/preacher to a guy who was widely known in evangelical circles and more of a “celebrity”. It didn’t change life at home much. Like I said earlier, my dad is a very consistent guy. My mom is also a strong, stable lady. They kept home life about like had always been, just with a bit more travel for him.

Outside the home it took the aspect of life I was familiar with as a PK of being known to an entirely different level. Now I was known at other churches or at the Christian college I attended. So I had to learn how to navigate that, and I didn’t always do a great job. I think I got better at it as I grew and matured, but there were too many times when I resented being known and was rude or tried to shock people by being not what one would expect John Piper’s son to be.

In your book, Barnabas, you mentioned a sermon your Dad once gave where he used a story about something that had happened to you early in life. Your side of that story/sermon is very interesting. What I’d like to know is, was it often that your Dad used you or your siblings to emphasize a sermon point and did that cause family problems?

No, it wasn’t often. My dad is not a big storyteller in his preaching, so there weren’t too many opportunities to talk about us publicly. My siblings and I weren’t often spotlighted from the pulpit. We made some appearances in his books, and it just so happened that a couple of his better known sermons feature embarrassing moments from my life, though – one when my bike got stolen (mentioned in the book) and another when I totaled my folks’ car.

I took note to the fact, while reading your book, that I was struck with the honesty with which you share childhood memories and your feelings. Did you have much experience with other pastor’s kids while growing up or did you have to learn the ropes, so to speak, alone?

I was around other PKs a lot, mainly the other PKs at our church (it had a large staff). We went to some denominational meetings and pastors conferences too, and my folks were friends with some other pastors too. But even with all that I didn’t really talk through life as a PK with anyone. I just sort of dealt with it (and not all that well). Looking back, it might have been good to have some folks with whom I could have been open with.

You’re married with children. Yes?

I am married to Lesley, and we have two daughters, Grace (8) and Dianne (5).

What things as a father do you find you now do that are a direct result of your father’s influence? Conversely, are there things your father did that you have vowed not to do?  Maybe letting your kids watch TV? 

Like any parent, I am sure I do all sorts of things unintentionally in imitation of my parents. But one thing I try very hard to follow my dad’s example in is discipline. He was a steady hand who rarely, if ever, lost his temper. He was really good about talking through what we were being disciplined for, disciplining, and then making sure things were settled and sending us on our way with a hug and forgiveness (as needed). I remember that always helped me feel free as a kid, like there was no lingering anger or anything. I try to be the same way with my kids.

And yes, I do let me kids watch TV. But really they watch more movies than TV. TV for kids is mostly just so stupid. Another thing I do differently than my folks is that I am far less intentional about family devotions. They were very rigorous and strict about doing it with us daily. I try to make scripture, prayer and conversations about faith or God more just a part of the rhythm of life.

I’ve been enjoying your blog for awhile now and would love to know when you started writing? How did you get started? Was it blogging or some other venue such as work?

Blogging was my first real avenue for writing. I started doing that in 2011. It grew out of journaling and just sort of stewing on a whole pile of ideas. I realized that I thought more clearly when I wrote and that my perspective was helpful to some people. The more I wrote the better I got at it (still improving, I hope), and it opened some doors to write for Worldmag.com and some other outlets too. I’m at the place now where writing is a part of my life. I love it and am really glad that it seems to benefit others.

Speaking of work, what exactly do you do for a living, Barnabas? Had you ever thought of going into ministry like your Dad? Oh my! Now I’m guilty of doing something you talked about in your book–assuming that question!!!

I work for Lifeway Christian Resources on the Ministry Grid Team. Ministry Grid is an online church leadership training platform, and I do a lot of our marketing. I thought about ministry; every PK does at least long enough to say “no.” I worked in youth ministry for a while, but vocational church ministry doesn’t seem like the thing for me. I don’t think it fits my gifts or passions.

What made you decide to write ‘The Pastor’s Kid’?

I was at a place in my life where my upbringing as a PK was on my mind, and I had been sorting through it and learning and really coming into my own in faith and life in general. I was asked to write an article for Table Talk magazine about the challenges PKs face, and as I wrote it I realized there was so much more to say than a single article could hold. When I saw the responses from PKs and pastors alike I realized there was a hunger for something from the PKs perspective.

I think you might like the opportunity to tell people what your book IS, and what your book IS NOT. For example, you probably wouldn’t describe your book as a tell-all about the Piper family. Do you have a sense that people might be expecting something like that?

I’m sure some people are looking for that, either because they’re fanboys or haters. I suspect they’ll be disappointed. It isn’t a tell-all or expose’. It’s also not some sad sack tale of a PK who now hates the church and is embittered toward it.

I wrote it with the voice of all the PKs I connected with as well as I could. I wanted to represent the PK experience and give voice to PKs. I wrote it from PKs and for PKs, but significant portions are addressed to pastors or the church at large.

Your book is very honest about the ‘tricks’ pastor’s kids have come to learn in order to cope with the stresses that come with the territory. These were eye-opening revelations to me. I had no idea! What kind of damage do we as a congregation do to the children of our pastors and is this one reason for writing the book?

The biggest hurt church members, collectively, do to PKs is the pervasive awareness of them. People just know so much about PKs that they wouldn’t know about any other kids. With the awareness comes expectations of better behavior, more bible knowledge, etc. All of it adds up to a feeling of living in a glass house or a fish bowl. This is a big part of why I wrote the book, to help pastors and church members see what PKs are feeling and experiencing.

Do you feel that some of your success in life (work, writing, etc.) can be attributed to the popularity of your last name? If yes, do you find there are times where you capitalize on this?

If by ‘success’ you mean notoriety, then yes. It’s undeniable that I have been able to gain readers that other young writers have not because people are interested in reading what ‘John Piper’s son’ writes. My last name does open doors for me. It does make me more recognizable than many of my peers. (That can cut both ways, though, because with being recognized come many assumptions about what kind of person I am or ‘should’ be.) I try to find a balance between name-dropping to gain an advantage (which I dislike) and using the relational capital that comes with my last name to create opportunities. I realize that may sound like semantic nit picking, but there is a significant difference.

Do you find that there are people out there in the world who associate themselves with you (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) because you are John Piper’s son? Are they easy to spot and do you find you try to distance yourself from them?

Yes, there are. I try not to worry too much about picking them out because no good comes of it. I don’t want to assume anyone’s motives or label them. My way of “dealing with” this is to try hard to simply be myself. If someone thinks they are getting a mini John Piper they will be sorely disappointed. I am willing to interact with all sorts of people as long as the interaction is not them badgering me because I am not like my dad in some way. I really enjoy interacting with people, and if some (many) of them find me because of my last name, so be it. At that point, though, I am just me and will interact with them as such.

At any point have you felt animosity toward people, or even your father, because they have made you feel like you have to live up to the Piper name?

I have never felt like my dad has pressured me to live up to our last name or maintain his reputation. I have made some pretty horrid mistakes that could have embarrassed my dad if that was his concern. But his concern was always for me. We have our differences. We see some things differently than each other, but I hold no bitterness or angst toward my dad (or mom) for wanting me to “live up to the Piper name.”

I can’t say the same about other people. I have, and sometimes still do, feel resentment toward people for assuming I should be a certain way because of my last name. Pretty much every month, if not more often, I get some joker on Twitter responding to me telling me how ashamed my father would be of some sarcastic (and really funny) tweet I posted. It’s as if they think I should live by a WWJPD motto. I get mad at these people. How dare they? What business do they have supposing what my dad feels like they’re in his head and heart? I’ve made it a point never to respond because it would just not go well. It is better for me to just move ahead as if it never happened and forget it.

How have you been able to become ‘your own man’… learning the balance between being John Piper’s son and Barnabas, the husband/father/author?

Really, that’s a thread that runs through The Pastor’s Kid. Every child is a product of his or her upbringing. Every child carries the influence of both nature and nurture. I am no different. What sets apart a person who “becomes his own man” is the recognition that he holds responsibility as an adult and before God for those traits and habits that need changing. No longer can he blame his parents for things in his life he doesn’t like. For me, that meant dealing with sins that had rooted in my heart since childhood and coming to an understanding of God through different means than my father’s expression of theology. It was through a whole lot of pain because of my own failures that I came to understand the overwhelming wonder and power of God’s grace.

Once I began to understand grace I began to gain confidence to explore who God is and my own relationship with Jesus. I could ask questions without fear and express faith in language that was no longer the verbiage of my upbringing. I also began to gain confidence in my work and my writing because I knew to whom I was really responsible and who I really wanted to please most of all (and it wasn’t my dad.) God’s grace was the driving force to get me to grow into my own man.

Now, this doesn’t mean I have abandoned all things from my youth or turned my back on my parents. Their genetics are in me and they raised me; I’m not escaping that. The foundation laid is still there. It just means that the life being built on the foundation is not built to imitate the one John Piper lives. Because of the freedom of grace I no longer need to feel the pressure to construct a life (or an article, or a book, or my home) that is just like my dad’s. That isn’t what God asks of me, and that is freeing.

john-piperI’m sure your Dad has seen the manuscript of your book by now. Was there anything in the book that came as a surprise to your Dad? Something he really never knew about what it was like for you growing up as The Pastor’s Kid?

He actually wrote the foreword for it after reading it. I’m sure there were some surprising parts for him. He is pretty honest in the foreword that part of the book stung. I don’t think he was shocked by anything because we have talked over the past few years about much of what the book says.

Finally, Barnabas, what’s the main take-away you want people to know about your book?

It’ll vary depending on what people bring to the book. I hope that hardened PKs will see the grace of God as something accessible and desirable. I hope broken PKs will see it as something restoring and defining. I hope pastors will see the needs of their kids in a fresh light and connect in a new way with them. Maybe some pastors will need to repent and change and others will be inspired or challenged. And I hope church members and the church at large will be helped toward a better understanding of the pastor’s family and how to love and care for them better.

Thank you so much, Barnabas, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to ‘talk’ with me here. It’s been such a blessing. I’ll be keeping you in prayer for much success with your book and that it will be a blessing to many, many people.

And for the reader’s, please take a moment to check out any or all of the links included in today’s interview. You can pre-order Barnabas’ book through Amazon. The release date is July 1, 2014. This book is an excellent read and one I highly recommend. It will surely be a blessing to all who read it.

 

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