The Mistake of Trusting Functional Messiahs

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge”

Psalm 18:2

When an ordinary man shows up claiming to be Jesus Christ returned to earth, we can easily see the ridiculousness of relying upon such a person to provide any form of salvation or security. Identifying false saviors that regularly exist in our everyday lives, however, is not quite so easy to do.

Mark Driscoll warns us to watch out for the functional messiahs we trust instead
of Jesus Christ…

Photo: John Nyberg

No Shortcuts on the Road to Reconciliation

“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times,
saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Luke 17:1-3

When a relationship between two people remains broken by sin, we’re quick to identify unforgiveness as the problem. While it is true that reconciliation is frequently hindered by one person’s failure to forgive, I wonder if the problem isn’t just as often caused by the other person’s failure to truly repent.

Interpersonal conflicts may be glossed over without repentance, but real reconciliation occurs when believers follow the pattern described by Jesus–rebuke, repent, forgive. If unresolved conflict seems to plague your relationships or if you feel someone is withholding their forgiveness from you, it’s worth taking the time to ask yourself, “Have I actually repented?” 

As part of his teaching on Luke 17, Pastor Mark Driscoll provided some helpful clarifications on the topic of repentance… 

  1. Repentance is not getting caught, but coming clean.
  2. Repentance is not denying our sin.
  3. Repentance is not diminishing our sin by downplaying or partially confessing it.
  4. Repentance is not managing our sin, trying to keep it under control.
  5. Repentance is not blame-shifting our sin, passing the responsibility to someone else.
  6. Repentance is not excusing our sin.
  7. Repentance is not about someone else’s sin.
  8. Repentance is not about manipulating God and/or people for blessing.
  9. Repentance is not worldly sorrow.
  10. Repentance is not merely grieving the consequences of your sin, but hating the evil of the sin itself.
  11. Repentance is not merely confessing your sin and not just grieving your sin, but killing your sin.

Find more from the sermon “How to Fight to the Glory of God” HERE.

Photo: Christa Richert

Jesus Saves Marriages

“Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

Mark 10:9

If you’re troubled by the condition of marriage within our culture today, I think this video will encourage your heart. We’re often told that marriages between believers are just as likely to end in divorce as are marriages between unbelievers, but Mark Driscoll explains why that statement is simply not true. As one of my biblical counseling professors often says, to claim that Jesus Christ doesn’t make a difference within marriage is preposterous.

Here are some basic ideas on ensuring that your marriage goes the distance…

Photo: Nat Arnett

God’s Will for your Wealth

“…give me neither poverty nor riches…”

Proverbs 30:8

Does God want you rich, poor, or somewhere in between? In his latest sermon from the book of Luke, Pastor Mark Driscoll addresses the confusion over wealth that exists within the church and provides some helpful clarification from the Scriptures.

Photo: D. Sharon Pruitt

A Test We’re Too Proud to Fail

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God
so that at the proper time he may exalt you…”

1 Peter 5:6

Ordinarily, I really enjoy getting a high grade on a test, but this is one I would much prefer to fail.

Mark Driscoll shares a few questions to help us detect the lurking presence of pride in our hearts…

Photo: Clinton cardozo

Finding Freedom from the Shame of Sexual Abuse

“…I am the LORD, your healer.”

Exodus 15:26

Justin and Lindsey Holcomb of Mars Hill Church have recently written a book which is greatly needed within the church today–Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault. I’m looking forward to reading this book and learning more about how to minister to women who’ve experienced the trauma of sexual abuse. 

In a series of articles posted last week on the Resurgence blog, Justin and Lindsey addressed several issues related to sexual assault. If you or someone you know has faced the horror of sexual abuse, I’d encourage you to look to these articles for biblical wisdom and hope in dealing with this uniquely painful form of suffering.

In the final article in the series, the authors explain how the gospel of Jesus Christ provides healing for 6 Devastating Effects of Sexual Assault–denial, identity, shame, guilt, anger, and despair. Here’s an excerpt: 

Sexual assault is shameful and burdens you with feelings of nakedness, rejection, and dirtiness. Shame is a painfully confusing experience—it makes you acutely aware of inadequacy, shortcoming, and failure.

Jesus reveals God’s love for his people by covering their nakedness, identifying with those who are rejected, cleansing their defilement, and conquering their enemy who shames them. God extends his compassion and his mighty, rescuing arm to take away your shame. Jesus both experienced shame and took your shame on himself. Jesus, of all people, did not deserve to be shamed. Yet he took on your shame, so it no longer defines you nor has power over you.

Because of the cross, we can be fully exposed, because God no longer identifies us by what we have done or by what has been done to us. In Jesus, you are made completely new.

Photo: Marinka van Holten

Hope for Those Lacking Humility

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…”

Philippians 2:5

After being slapped upside the head with the painful consequences of my prideful spirit recently, I found the following clip from Mark Driscoll to be especially helpful.

How can we see the giant of pride defeated in our lives? Focusing on humility may not be quite as helpful of a solution as we often think…

Photo: Christopher Bruno

Precious Picks

A heap ‘o good links for you to check out…

Rekindling the Gratitude
John MacArthur shares 5 things he is most thankful for this holiday season: “Let me encourage you not to allow this Thanksgiving to come and go without taking inventory. Biblical gratitude isn’t something that should pass from our minds with the passing of a season. It’s an attitude, a God-focused response to circumstances that should pervade each moment of each day of each year.”

Christmas Offerings
You can download Third Day’s album, Christmas Offerings, for $5 at Amazon. One of my favorites!

The Six-Second Kiss
Jani Ortlund shares one of her secrets for keeping romance alive in marriage: “What can six seconds do for you? Woman to woman, let me encourage you that just six seconds a day can help safeguard your marriage.”

Don’t Waste Your Sports
C.J. Mahaney has a new booklet out that is much needed among Christians involved with sports: “Don’t Waste Your Sports is for athletes, parents, and coaches. It provides a biblical worldview of sports so that we don’t waste this gift. ‘I had the opportunity to glorify God in my sports,’ C.J. writes, ‘and I fumbled it. I wasted my sports. You have the opportunity, by the grace of God, not to waste yours.’”

Pastor Mark’s Daddy Christmas Tips
Mark Driscoll shares a list of ideas that will help dads make Christmas a blessed time for their families. Pass it on to a daddy who may need it! “Dad needs a plan for the holidays to ensure his family is loved and memories are made. Dad, what’s your plan?”

Illustration: Svilen Milev

The Great Physician’s Cure for Anxiety

“Fear not, little flock…”

Luke 12:32

A short while ago, I began studying the book of Hebrews, and I spent some time today thinking about the truths of Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” While I can’t say I had much success in wrapping my brain around such an amazing concept, I can say that simply knowing Jesus has been where I’ve been brings me tremendous comfort, especially during difficult times. 

As he taught through Luke 12:22-34 recently, Pastor Mark Driscoll addressed how having a sympathetic High Priest makes a significant difference in our ability to overcome fear and anxiety…

Pastor Mark went on to explain 7 Truths about Fear that you’ll also find helpful.

You can listen to the entire message “Jesus and Anxiety” HERE.

Photo: mirofoto

Overcoming A False Impression of Forgiveness

“And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.”

Luke 11:4

Are you struggling to forgive someone who has sinned against you? God’s call to forgive as He forgave can certainly prove to be challenging for us as sinful human beings, but the more we understand how much we’ve been been forgiven by God, the more natural it will become to extend that same forgiveness to others in our Christian walk. I think in many cases forgiveness is complicated by an inaccurate understanding of what God actually requires of us in His command to forgive. As an example, many years ago, I watched a talk show where a rape victim explained how she had forgiven the stranger who committed this horrible crime against her, and as a result, she had begun regularly communicating with the man during his prison stay. While I appreciate this woman’s desire to forgive, I believe she was tragically misguided in thinking that forgiveness required that she develop a relationship with the man who had raped her. If we are to obey God’s command to forgive, we need to understand not only what forgiveness is, but also what it is not.  

Pastor Mark Driscoll recently addressed the topic of biblical forgiveness in a sermon on the Lord’s Prayer and specifically zeroed in on what forgiveness is not. He explained the following 10 points in this very helpful message:

  1. Forgiveness is not approving or diminishing sin.
  2. Forgiveness is not enabling sin.
  3. Forgiveness is not denying a wrongdoing.
  4. Forgiveness is not waiting for an apology.
  5. Forgiveness is not forgetting.
  6. Forgiveness is not ceasing to feel the pain.
  7. Forgiveness is not a onetime event.
  8. Forgiveness is not neglecting justice.
  9. Forgiveness is not trusting.
  10. Forgiveness is not reconciliation.

You can read the transcript or watch the whole sermon HERE.

Photo: Moriah Farmer

The Gospel, Gluttony, & the Glory of God

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31

It’s a subject not too many pastors are brave enough to address. Think back for a minute–when was the last time you heard a message taught from God’s Word on the topic of overeating? Probably not recently, right? On the rare occasion when the subject is mentioned, chances are good that the approach will be bad. Overeating, or gluttony, as the Bible refers to it, is often ignored, joked about, or even glorified from the pulpit, but very rarely is the issue handled faithfully from the Scriptures. Another possible mishandling (which I saw exemplified in a video clip recently) occurs when a pastor insensitively addresses gluttony, giving the impression that a person struggling in this area need only summon up more willpower to find victory. A pastor would be better off to neglect the issue than to handle it in such an unbiblical way.

Because the Bible is not silent about issues of food, eating, and gluttony, the church should not be either. Believers need to understand what God says about these areas of life, so they can better learn how to please Him. Mars Hill Church recently featured a message given by Crystal Munson on the issue of gluttony that will serve as a tremendous help and encouragement to countless women. As she introduces her teaching, Crystal shares openly about her painful history with overeating: 

I’m 29 and I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t consumed with my weight and with food…Some of my earliest memories are sneaking food and lying to my parents about food and feeling ashamed about what I ate. And as I got into junior high, this dream of becoming a thin, beautiful person was a fantasy to me that was like an addiction, and I would think about it all the time. I would go to bed at night praying that God would make me thin, and of course I would wake up the next morning in a fat body.

Crystal goes on to explain the many lessons God taught her as she learned to glorify Him through her eating habits. She speaks about the temptations of self-sufficiency and self-condemnation that are closely associated with gluttony. Crystal also warns of the dangers of glorifying self through diet, exercise, and weight loss plans as she drives to the heart of the matter–satisfaction and security must be found in Christ alone. The real issue is not how we look; it is who or what we worship. Food is just one of the many idols to which women are tempted to turn for refuge, safety, and comfort instead of turning to God, which is why the Gospel is vital in overcoming gluttony. Crystal says: 

I know that we all have sin, and that we all fall short. We all have idols, and acknowledging that is crucial. But God does not stay there and neither should we. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” Jesus died on the cross so that our sins and our idols are not the end of the story. Having redemption from your sins and God restored to the center of your universe is where God wants to and where He promises to take you…

The goal is that we would have a right view of God, and that He could restore us to a place of joyful worship. We will be able to see God for all that He is and hopefully bring every aspect of our lives under His submission, including what we eat and what we do with our bodies…The biggest lie is that Satan wants you to hear is that this is not a big issue, that there are other things in your life that you need to take care of before you take care of this. Satan has a huge hold on us as Christians when he tells us that this sin–it doesn’t really affect God; it doesn’t really affect your relationship with God. I hope that you guys can see that as a lie, that this is absolutely crucial to your ability to worship God, to love God, to receive love from God. This is not a minor sin. This is not something that you can ignore for 5, or ten, or 20 more years.

Crystal’s entire message is both challenging and filled with Gospel hope. I highly encourage you to read more HERE, or you can download or listen to Crystal’s message HERE.

Illustration: Julien Tromeur

Becoming a Woman of Superior Worth

“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”

Proverbs 31:29

Some good thoughts from the Mars Hill Church blog on the characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman:

“A wife of noble character, who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.”

This is a woman who has character, strength, competence and ability, and she is priceless. These women are hard to find….

She takes care of her commitments to the Lord. And her husband. And her kids. And the Gospel. And her ministry. And herself.

Now, what about her husband? You know she didn’t marry a guy who sits on the couch all day doing nothing. You know, she didn’t marry a guy who works 12 hours a week as a barista. You know she’s not gonna go for that guy. A lot of guys are like, “I wanna find a good woman.” Well, you gotta put better bait on your hook.

“Her husband is respected at the city gate where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.”

He is one of the preeminent men in the whole city. I’ll tell you this, ladies, some ladies say, “Well, I’m smart. I’m competent. I’m capable. I’m strong.” Great, then at least marry a guy who can keep up with you, if you’re single. Don’t marry some guy you gotta mother and drag around ‘cause he can’t keep up with you. He will be threatened…Some men stifle their wives because their wives are smarter, and faster, and holier than they are, and rather than them catching up, they pull their wife back. She’s married a man who can run with her. They’re equally yoked.

“She makes linen garments and sells them.”

She’s got a little side business. She’s working out of the house. “Supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity. She can laugh at the days to come.” She’s not worried. She’s got the future all planned out. Here’s the other deal. She’s a Bible teacher. “She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” This woman knows her Bible well. She can teach. She’s a good teacher. They probably got people in their home all the time studying Scripture. Titus 2, “Encourage the older women to spend some time training the younger women.” There are very few good older women who actually know their Bibles and are committing time to younger women. She is that kind of woman…

Read the entire article HERE.

Illustration: Yoshi Aka