Links I like

Get The Attributes of God in today’s $5 Friday at Ligonier.org

Today you can get The Attributes of God, a teaching series by R.C. Sproul, Jr (DVD), for only $5 in today’s $5 Friday sale at Ligonier.org. Other items on sale:

  • A Shattered Image teaching series by R.C. Sproul (audio download)
  • The Christian Mind 2012 conference series (audio and video download)
  • The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon by Steven Lawson (ePub + MOBI)

Although not a $5 Friday product, the latest teaching series from Ligonier, Only Two Religions by Peter Jones, is now available. Watch the trailer below:

You can also watch the first session online right now at Ligonier.org$5 Friday ends tonight at 11:59:59 PM Eastern.

11 Preaching and Pastoring Lessons Learned from My Mentor

Chris Hefner offers “11 of the preaching and pastoring lessons I’ve learned from my mentor.”

Bill Cosby responds to Victoria Osteen

Godly Parenting Isn’t Really Godly If It Lacks Affection

Joey Cochran:

Now, giving your kids plentiful affection is no guarantee for their healthy, productive, or carefree life. Neither should that be the aim; that’s actually short changing them of something far better. Heaping affection has a much richer aim. That aim is to prepare them for God’s love.

When we smother our kids with the comforting blanket of love and affection, their hearts are being prepared for receiving God’s love and affection. We’re tilling the soil of their heart to prepare for the implanted Word of God. That’s the chief aim in our affection – to give them the gospel. So here are four ways to fill up your child with affection that leads them to the gospel.

If He Can’t Destroy You, He’s Content to Divert You.

Erik Raymond:

I’m fascinated by summits between leaders. Whether we are talking about Roosevelt and Churchill or Reagan and Gorbachev or a host of other historical moments, I’m intrigued.

But there is perhaps no bigger meeting than what we find in Matthew chapter 4 between Jesus and Satan. Here you have the seed of the woman and the serpent meeting together in that long awaited moment. The head of the true evil empire and the head of the new humanity, the kingdom of grace.

This phony best practice for subject lines has to go

This is good advice for fundraisers.

“While the bylaws greatly restrict our authority, we must act like elders nonetheless”

This took courage on the part of these nine elders (now eight as one was dismissed the other day). Read it and pray for real change at Mars Hill Church.

Links I like

Menlo Park Leaves the PCUSA

Sarah Pulliam Bailey:

Members of one of the largest congregations in the Presbyterian Church (USA) have voted to leave the denomination, despite facing an $8.89 million cost for leaving.

Menlo Park Presbyterian is based in the San Francisco Bay area and led by well-known author and pastor John Ortberg. It is the ninth-largest PCUSA church, with about 4,000 members, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The Root of Idolatry

R.C. Sproul Jr:

Truth be told it happened again as I, in a theater, first watched the trailer for Son of God. I could again take up my native language of Reformed sarcasm and crack wise about how very Caucasian, how very soft, how very hipster he looked. But the truth is I broke into tears. I wanted that man to be Jesus, and I wanted him to look at me the way he looked at those whom he loved in the movie. I wept.

That experience is just what the makers of this film, and its promoters, want people to have. Strangely, many Christians think it a good thing. I had a profound, deep, emotional, religious experience, fueled by a man made, false presentation of Jesus.

Kindle deals for Christian readers

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis—$1.99

How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home by Derek Thomas—FREE

Inferior technology indeed

BOOK

Ten well-know pop stars who were all pastor’s kids

This is an interesting piece over at Relevant Magazine. You might be surprised at some of the names you see.

An Open Apology to the Local Church

Katelyn Beaty:

Here’s where I need to confess my true feelings about you, Church: The romance of our earlier days has faded. The longer I have known you, the more I weary of your quirks and trying character traits. Here’s one: You draw people to yourself whom I would never choose to spend time with. Every Sunday, it seems, you put me in contact with the older woman who thinks that angels and dead pets are everywhere around us. You insist on filling my coffee hour with idle talk of golf, the weather, and grandchildren. As much as I wax on about the value of intergenerational worship, a lot of Sundays I dodge these members like they’re lepers. (This is of course my flesh talking, to borrow a phrase from one of your earliest members.) Many Sundays I long to worship alongside likeminded Christians who really get me, with whom I can have enlightening, invigorating conversations, whom I’m not embarrassed to be seen with in public. I confess to many times lusting over one of your sexier locations, wondering if I would be happier and more fulfilled there.

Dave Kraft speaks out on the issues at Mars Hill Church

Normally I don’t link to “scandal” posts, but given the person speaking out (Dave Kraft), you may want to check this out. He’s also planning on releasing his specific charges against Driscoll soon.

Invest by Sutton Turner

Invest-Book_v2

In ministry, it’s easy to think of certain gifts as being more valuable than others. We look at one man’s ability to handle the Scriptures and applaud. We look at another’s ability to manage an organization and… well, often times we’re not quite sure what to do. It’s not that we don’t appreciate those abilities. It’s just we have a hard time thinking of them as having a purpose in ministry. And as a result, some Christians who want to use their gifts to bless their churches are left in a lurch.

Invest: Your Gifts for His Mission by Sutton Turner is written for people like this. People with serious business skills and a heart for the church, but struggle to see how their gifts can be used to benefit the body. Turner uses his experience as the current executive pastor of Mars Hill Church to help business-minded believers see how they can work for the glory of God, perhaps by considering taking on the role of an executive pastor.

A good reminder of the need for business savvy

The best thing about Invest is the refreshing reminder of the need for business savvy in ministry. “Ministry” should not be code for sloppy planning and procedures. But this is pretty common, sadly. Many who gravitate toward ministry roles tend to be people who want to spiritually guide people, but aren’t particularly savvy with administration or business practices. It my never occur to them to think about things like licensing for the songs we sing on Sundays, or the tax regulations that need to be followed in order to maintain charitable status.

So churches and parachurch ministries alike can greatly benefit from believers who are skilled and passionate about such things. People who care about what the organizational structure looks like and whether or not it actually works in practice, and who care about staff culture and dynamics. We need to be concerned about these things, and, thankfully, God has gifted certain individuals to be deeply passionate about them.

While I appreciate the general premise of the book, there’s a great deal about it I’m concerned about:

[Read more...]

Humility and Notoriety: The Danger of Pastor as Rock Star

Mark Driscoll and Dustin Neeley sat down at the recent Acts 29 Boot Camp and discussed the need for humility as a church planter and pastor—and how difficult it is to cultivate when you’re considered a rock star.

Questions to consider:

  1. What level of scrutiny is appropriate when looking at “celebrity” pastors and leaders?
  2. Are you naturally more inclined to be critical or encouraging?
  3. Have you ever found yourself intentionally looking for things to criticize about a pastor or leader?
  4. In your own sphere of influence, are you open to hearing from your critics?

HT: Z

Around the Interweb (08/08)

The Awesomeness Driven Church

Jared Wilson offers the following heart check:

It is widely repeated that a Korean pastor once visited the United States and remarked at the end of his stay, “It’s amazing what you people can do without the Holy Spirit.”

Yesterday I watched a video of a motocross bike jumping over a pastor on stage. Now, I’m not saying that church or its pastor don’t have the Holy Spirit, but I am saying that setting up a dirtbike track in your sanctuary is profoundly stupid.

What is profoundly stupid is the sheer amount of innovation, creativity, energy, ambition, and astounding levels of human wherewithal that go into crafting the most amazing worship experiences Americans have ever seen inside churches where the gospel isn’t preached. I can say this because there’s only one thing we hold that the New Testament calls “power,” and that’s the gospel.

Read the rest at Jared’s blog.

In Other News

Funny: Help Lord–The Devil Wants Me Fat!

Theology: Read the preface to Andy Naselli’s new book, Let Go and Let God? A Survey and Analysis of Keswick Theology

Men being Men: What I Didn’t Learn About Manhood from Esquire

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Some thoughts on being evangelistically challenged

My review of Dave Harvey’s new book, Rescuing Ambition

Matt Chandler: Because God is Good

Mark Driscoll: Stop Chasing Mountaintop Experiences – Read Your Bible Instead

Think About What You’re Reading

Know Your Enemy

From Mark Driscoll’s recent sermon, Jesus Casts Out Demons. The transcript follows:

[W]hat Paul says to the Corinthians is if we know how our enemy works, then we can defend ourselves. But if we don’t know how he works, he’s going to defeat us. And there are many names given for Satan in the Bible, but I’ll share nine of them with you because they all refer to a particular aspect of Satan’s work.

1. Accuser (Revelation 12:10)

He is called, in Revelation 12:10, “the accuser of the children of God.” He accuses them day and night. Some of you will hear: “you are a failure, you are without hope, you are beyond the love of God, you are beyond the grace of God, what you have done can never be forgiven, God does not love you, you should die, you should kill yourself.” You will hear that negative self-talk, often “you, you, you.” And if there were someone next to you saying those things, you would rightly identify it as accusation from opposition. But because it’s from a spirit being who is unseen, you think you have low self-esteem, negative self-image, negative self-talk, but it’s accusation. It’s accusation. [Read more...]

Jesus Finds Wrecked People

An exerpt from Mark Driscoll’s recent sermon, Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son, from Luke 7:11-17. The edited transcript follows:

Jesus finds wrecked people.

That’s what he does. That’s our Jesus. God comes to earth as the man Jesus Christ, and he goes looking for absolutely wrecked people, people on the worst day of their whole life.

Luke says it this way: “He went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out.” Do you feel that?

Read these lines, “The only son of his mother, and,” what? “She was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had,” what? “Compassion on her.” Compassion on her.

This is a devastating day.

This is a wrecked woman. [Read more...]

The Kingdom is About Jesus

A challenging excerpt from Mark Driscoll’s sermon, The Beatitudes, Part 1 from Luke 6:17-36. Watch the video or read the transcript below:

The kingdom of God is not about getting. That’s what Jesus is saying. It’s not about getting wealth. It’s not about getting power. It’s not about getting comfort. It’s not about getting fame. And the kingdom of God is not about doing. It’s not what you do so that God will be pleased with you.

The kingdom ultimately is about being.

It’s about being in relationship with God.

And there are two ways that some will teach you to work out the counterculture kingdom ethic of Jesus.

One is absolute nonsense, religious garbage that arouses anger as I travel throughout this land, and I see Muslims, Jews, and Jack Christians who are religious, worshiping places, worshiping people, identifying themselves by their performance, and their power, and their prestige, and their prosperity. This is no holy land! This is a very unholy land! This is among the most unholy lands on the nation of the earth! The idolatry is steep and deep!

It’s just like the days when Jesus went to the temple, and absolutely was filled with fury. There is a righteous anger in the heart of God over those who would pilgrimage here, and cut in line for food, and steal, and cheat, and download porno in their hotel, and flirt with others, and follow ridiculous religious rituals, and then talk about the holy land. It’s not about the holy land. It’s about the holy king, and the holy kingdom, and repentant people by grace being connected to him, and being conformed to him.

The kingdom is not about going somewhere, but about belonging to Someone.

And so for us, it is never a place, it is a person, and the center of our faith is Jesus. [Read more...]

Around the Interweb (04/25)

Salvation from a life of “goodness”

From the Mars Hill blog:

I asked Jesus into my heart before I can even remember. In the years since, however, I have lived a life motivated by nothing more than an aching desire to be perfect, beautiful, and righteous. I armed myself with knowledge and convictions and lived a very moral, introspective, and ultimately fear driven life. I read the Bible daily, but did not hear that Jesus’ goodness replaced the need for mine; what I read and heard was conviction, the need for it, and the power of it to safeguard and cultivate a life that pleased God. I paid lip service to things like Love and Faith, but actually lacked any relationship to real trust and heart.

Read the rest here.

In other news

TGCReviews Editor John Starke interviews Mark Driscoll about his latest book, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe

Dr. Moore is asked, “Should I tell my child he was conceived in rape?”

The new issue of Themelios is now available

Jared Wilson: “The Message of the Gospel is NOT “Behave!”

James at Hills Bible Church asks a great question: What should a Christian’s response be to pop culture?

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

“I know what the Bible says, but it’s just cultural…”

You can ignore a great ethicist, but you can’t ignore God

A review of Thabiti Anyabwile’s latest, The Gospel for Muslims

Trajectories Toward an Adjusted Gospel - Al Mohler at Together for the Gospel 2010

If I'm the Hope, That's Not Good News

This is a great clip featuring Mark Driscoll from his sermon, Christ the Lord (transcript follows):

Which leads us to Christianity. Why I tell you this is I don’t want you to interject Jesus into a false ideology. See, some people are so familiar with this birth story of Jesus and the nativity set on the mantel over the fireplace of their home, that they have this prevailing worldview that they just stick Jesus in. And he’s Christ the Lord, like the angel said. And Christianity is this- and this is where Christianity is different.

Christianity is not a world religion. It’s the truth. It’s about Jesus.

And the story is that God is Creator. He’s eternally existing. He is a spirit being, that he is the Creator who made the physical world. The heavens and the earth, all that is. And God made us male and female in his image and likeness, with dignity, value, and worth. And God spoke to us in relationship and he gave us moral commands to obey so that we might enjoy life. And instead, we chose death. We chose to follow Satan rather than God, to choose death over life, lies over truth. And traded intimacy with God, for hiding from God. And because of our sin, creation was affected. And everything is stained and marred by sin. [Read more...]

What Man Intends for Evil, God Intends for Good: Pastor AJ Hamilton

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.3705030&w=425&h=350&fv=]

This isn’t the post I’d planned to write today, but after watching this video, I couldn’t not share this story—Pastor AJ Hamilton’s powerful testimony.

Watch the video above or read the transcript that follows:

I’m AJ Hamilton, I’ve been a pastor here for about three years. And whenever I’m asked what my testimony is, I find I have to tell it in the context of my parents’ testimony. And so I’ll tell you about my mom. I didn’t make it through the first one very well, so I doubt I’ll do it on this one too. [Read more...]

Religion Saves: For Your Consideration

Religion-Saves-conclusion

Be sure to read parts one, two, and three of
my review of this book’s content.

After roughly 4000 words over three posts examining what I appreciated and what I found lacking in Mark Driscoll’s latest book, Religion Saves & Nine Other Misconceptions, what have I learned?

Three positives:

  1. Overall, this book is truly the most mature of Driscoll’s books to date
  2. Driscoll has a great deal of passion for seeing men and women live a life of holiness—especially living lives of sexual purity, an issue that is particularly prevalent for the members of his church
  3. Driscoll is brilliant at making difficult theology accessible for the average person

Three negatives:

  1. Driscoll, despite his passion for holiness, tends to be a bit too flippant when talking about sexuality at times
  2. His sense of humor gets a bit tired at times
  3. He sometimes tries too hard to prove a point, which can actually distract from his point (as is the case with humor)

Religion-SavesOf the nine chapters in Religion Saves, I felt the strongest were Birth Control, Predestination, Grace and The Emerging Church. The weakest, despite still being quite profitable was Humor. There is enough valuable content in every chapter for anyone who find a great deal of benefit from reading this book. I would particularly recommend this book to any pastor, small group leader and fathers. There’s a great deal of rough terrain that is covered in the book that affects all of our churches from sexual sin and confusion in acceptable dating relationships, and especially the pervasiveness of questionable teaching and false doctrine that is increasingly present within Christian churches.

The one thing you can always be sure on with Mark Driscoll, whether you love him or loathe him, is that he’s going to try to point people to the risen, glorified, Jesus—the King of kings, and Lord of lords. His big issue is that his sense of humor gets in the way sometimes. As Michael Krahn astutely pointed out in his review of Vintage Church, “In one sense, you could say that Driscoll is trying to augment the offense of the Gospel with his own form of offensiveness.” And as Michael rightly says, the gospel requires no such assistance.

You will not find someone who sits idly as false teachers confuse our brothers and sisters in Christ, nor will you find someone who is eager to shoot people simply because he disagrees with them. You will find a man who loves God, loves the Bible and wants to see people meet Jesus.

And I believe there’s a great deal in Religion Saves that will encourage people to grow in their love for Him.

Purchase your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.ca

Religion Saves: Predestination, Grace, and Faith & Works

Religion-Saves-predestination

893 questions posted. 343,203 votes cast. Nine controversial subjects. The resulting sermons were then reformatted and expanded in the book, Religion Saves & Nine Other Misconceptions, released in June, 2009, through Crossway and RE:Lit.

This post will be dealing with three subjects from the book: Predestination, grace, and faith & works.

Predestination

Always a lightning rod for debate is the subject of predestination. Particularly over the past 400 years, the mode and meaning of predestination has been divisive among some Christians. In this chapter, Mark Driscoll shares an overview of the history of the two most prominent positions on predestination, going back to the second century. One is what Driscoll refers to as the two-handed position (synergism); that God reaches out his hand and we choose to reach out in response. As stated in the book, “God does not predestine us, but rather God foreknows who will choose him of their own free will, so in essence God chooses those who choose him” (p. 70). This is the heart of what’s referred to as the Arminian position on salvation (although there’s still more too it). The other position is what he refers to as the one-handed position (monergism): “That everyone is a sinner by nature and choice and therefore fully deserves nothing more than the conscious eternal torment in hell; nevertheless, in pure grace, some wholly undeserving sinners are predestined for heaven and saved by Jesus Christ” (p. 71). This is the heart of what’s commonly called the Calvinist (Reformed) position on salvation.

Digging into the content a little more, I really appreciated the explanation of the concept of prevenient grace, which, as described in the book is grace poured out by God on all mankind kind giving everyone the ability to make a free will choice to trust in Jesus Christ for salvation. In essence, it negates the total depravity of man and moves us from being spiritually dead, as Paul says in Ephesians 2:1, to spiritually neutral—a concept, to borrow the words of Millard Erickson as quoted in the book, “appealing though it is in many ways, simply is not taught explicitly in the Bible.” [Read more...]