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

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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

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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…]

Music Review: Rain City Hymnal

rain_city_hymnalI’ll be honest: I don’t really like Christian music—and I really don’t like a lot of modern “worship” music. Some songs have very God-centered lyrics and theology being espoused, but there’s far too much that (to borrow a phrase) is Christless expounding on nothing.

But I really like old hymns. I enjoy them more every time I listen. This is, in part, because of my theological bend in addition to never having heard them (beyond Amazing Grace in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). I don’t know what it is, but classic hymns like Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing bring joy to my spirit like nothing else.

So when Re:Sound released Rain City Hymnal last week, I was exceedingly pleased.

The album is a collection of 12 classic hymns from centuries past with updated music to better communicate “an ancient message of truth in music for a particular people, time, and place, ” says Pastor Tim Smith of Mars Hill Church.

So how’d they do?

In short, outstanding.

The Christ-exalting message of every song shines through in a whole new way on Rain City Hymnal. While every track is extremely well done, I want to highlight just a few: [Read more…]

RE:Sound – Rain City Hymnal Now Available

UPDATE: Read my review of Rain City Hymnal (Posted 06/18)

Rain City Hymnal, the first release from Re:Sound is now available.

Tim Smith writes at the Resurgence blog:

[Rain City Hymnal is]  a collection of modern arrangements of 12 hymns by 5 different Mars Hill bands and represents our most ambitious project to date. These old songs represent the essence of our task in corporate worship: combining an ancient message of truth in music for a particular people, time, and place.

ReSound Launches with Preview EP

ReSound, the Resurgence’s new record label, has made available a sampler EP for download.

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Head over to ReSound.org and download before June 11, when the site officially launches.

Thursday Night Hymnal: Psalm 25

Some music for a Thursday night; enjoy.

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What I appreciate about Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll.

Depending on the crowd you’re in, the mention of this name will either send someone into a blind rage or make them swoon like a teenage girl at a Jonas Brothers concert. He is one of the most polarizing figures within Evangelicalism today; a man whose influence, whether you like it or not, is growing by leaps and bounds every single day.

Recently a featured panelist on Nightline’s “Does Satan Exist” debate (as well as in a piece profiling him on another episode of the show), appearing briefly on D.L. Hughley’s show on CNN, profiled in the New York Times, and name-dropped as one of the key leaders of the resurgence of Calvinism, Driscoll is everywhere.

So, what is it about him that gets so many riled up? Why is it that, while being so polarizing, he ironically unites the extreme left and the extreme right together in their distaste for him? And why do so many people dig Driscoll?

[Read more…]

A Song for Sunday

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Sunday Shorts (04/12)

Easter Sunday live from Mars Hill

Mars Hill Church in Seattle is live-streaming their Easter Sunday services. If you’re on the road and unable to celebrate with your church, or you’re just curious about what a Mars Hill service looks like, you can watch online at marshillchurch.org/live.

The Origins of the Easter Bunny

If you’ve ever wondered where the Easter bunny came from, The Resurgence has provided an interesting article.

Just Do Something!

Tim Challies provides a helpful review of Kevin DeYoung’s latest book, Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will:

Kevin DeYoung takes on this challenge and succeeds admirably, crafting a short but powerful book that really packs a punch. His unique angle is reflected in the title: Just Do Something! “My goal,” he says, “is not as much to tell you how to hear God’s voice in making decisions as it is to hear God telling you to get off the long road to nowhere and finally make a decision, get a job, and perhaps, get married.” He fears that many Christians, because of their unbliblical understanding of knowing and doing the will of God, are wasting their lives doing nothing when they should just be doing, well, something! “I’d like us to consider that maybe we have difficulty discovering Gods wonderful plan for our lives because, if the truth be told, He doesn’t really intend to tell us what it is. And maybe we’re wrong to expect Him to.”

Piper on God’s Sovereignty and Human Responsibility