I had a conversation the other day that troubled me. It forced me to check my priorities. It comes down to giving and receiving.
I have to thank Mark Driscoll for giving me this image of Closed and Open Handed
In life we can be a closed handed or open handed.
I think the tendency is to look at our lives and our accomplishments, careers, family, stuff, dreams and aspirations and put them in a closed hand. This is my stuff, this is my career, this is my time, this is my money.
I don’t think this is gospel living at all.
We don’t own the gospel we receive it. And we can’t receive anything with closed hands. If we are so focused on holding on to our stuff then we will miss out on receiving the things that God wants to bring into our lives.
If we live with an open hand we realize that all the things that are in our lives are temporary and we are not owners but stewards.
It’s not your time, it’s not your money, it’s not your family, it’s not your career, it’s not your stuff. All things things are gifts from God. If you want to honor God with your whole life then you need to hold all these things with an open hand. You have to be willing to let go of some things to receive something else.
If I am not willing to give these blessings back to God then I should not expect to receive any other blessings from God. If I hold on to these blessings to tightly, I will kill them.
So who are you? Are you a closed hand or an open hand person?
It seems like I have been handed some of the more challenging passages of Scripture over the past four years. I love being a part of the teaching team at Creekside Church, but so far I have talked about Circumcision, Talking Donkeys, and the like. Last sunday was no different. I spoke on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11 a large part of that section of scripture is about the Return of Christ and the rapture. Many people have said many things about the return of Christ, and growing up I was terrified of Jesus coming back. Paul wrote this passage to talk encourage the Thessalonians and to show that the return of Christ should inspire hope. So here is the sermon from last sunday morning:
Vodpod videos no longer available.
A very helpful resource on all this stuff was from Mars Hill, when Mark Driscoll did a series going through Revelation. This series was different than any other Revelation sermons I had heard before because it focused on Worship throughout the book of Revelation. Check it out.
Mark Driscoll has a great post on St. Patrick. I would recommend everyone read it.
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Go ahead, read it.
In God We Do Not Trust – This was a thought provoking article from Mark Driscoll
“The bottom line is obvious to those with gospel eyes. People are longing for Jesus, and tragically left voting for mere presidential candidates. For those whose candidate wins today there will be some months of groundless euphoric faith in that candidate and the atoning salvation that their kingdom will bring. But, in time, their supporters will see that no matter who wins the presidency, they are mere mortals prone to sin, folly, and self-interest just like all the other sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.”
Mark Driscoll is one of the most influential pastors in the Seattle area, and arguably the country. As he says he puts the fun in fundamentalism. I’ve been listening to his sermons for years and I have read his blog and his books as they are available. I have posted about some of my disagreements with Driscoll, but by and large I appreciate what Mars Hill has accomplished in our city and the focus that they have brought to church planting.
Mark’s latest book Vintage Jesus is a fresh, witty, and at times combative Christology. Driscoll and Breshears have taken the Study of Jesus and made it fresh and accessible to a whole new generation. That is the great thing about this book.
However I did feel a little cheated because I listened to this sermon series when it was first preached, and I hoped the book would be a little more, but it wasn’t. So if reading isn’t your cup of tea you can catch the content here.
Either way this book is good to have in your library. I believe it will prove to be a valuable resource in my ministry, and I will probably turn to it many times when I need a scripture reference on Prophecy of Jesus, or what Jesus accomplished on the Cross.
You can buy Vintage Jesus at amazon, Barnes and Noble, or any christian retailer.
The God Who Smokes is a refreshing look at theology through Timothy Stoner’s personal experiences. All of theology should apply to life and when you read The God Who Smokes I believe you will see all the various ways that God is talking to and revealing himself to you.
TGWS is a middle road between the fundamentalist and the emergent streams of theology. If you like Rob Bell but are a little concerned with some of the things he has written or said, Stoner helps you see why and what a more biblical view may be. If you love Driscoll and Piper but are overwhelmed by their headiness and need for rock solid reason and arguements, then Stoner provides a meaningful way that you can still believe in absolute truth, and still feel comfortable with questions. Written in the tone of compassion this book was a very refreshing and at times humorous book.
This book really could be several shorter books. And sometimes it doesn’t quite feel like a cohesive work. But it’s definitely worth the read. Particularly Stoner’s theology of the artist. It reminded me of why I do what I do, I believe that preaching is an art form and God is pleased when I declare his love and grace, or when I teach people about how to live in that love and grace.
Also interesting are Stoner’s perspectives on growing up as a missionary kid oversees, and they way he lived out love before his friend David. I really recommend this book.