Feeling Appreciated by God: The Difference Between Service & Performance

I just have to share this quote from Mark Driscoll’s new book “Who Do You Think You Are?” The book is all about how Christians define their identity. Each chapter focuses in on a particular part of our identity in Christ. It is in his chapter on “I am Appreciated” he talks about how understanding that God really does appreciate us frees us from living life as a performance for others and opens us up to embrace serving others instead. I haven’t read a ton of Driscoll’s books and I haven’t spent a lot of time listening to his sermons. I am familiar with him and some of the controversy that surrounds him at times and I am aware of the perception that Mark sometimes comes across as harsh. So far, this book has completely undone that perception. This book is loving. It is kind. It is gentle. I have been greatly blessed by it so far. Here is the quote,

“Knowing God appreciates us allow us to exchange our performance for service. Performance is done for the sight and approval of others. Service is done knowing that God is watching and approving whether or not anyone else is. Performance causes us to be enslaved to others’ opinions, unable to say no, and prone to being overworked. Service frees us to do what God wants, thereby saying no as needed. Performance presses us toward perfectionism, where we seek to do everything just right so others will praise. us. Service allows us to do our best, knowing that God’s appreciation of us is secure regardless of our performance. Performance causes us to focus on the ‘big’ things and only do what is highly visible or significant. Service allows us to do simple, humble, and menial takss–the ‘little things’–knowing that the peasant, Jewish carpenter we worship equally appreciates them both.” (p.62)show we are superior performers,

That is a meaty quote. Because God loves us and God is watching over us in everything and because we do it as if we are doing it for the Lord, we don’t live to perform for people. We live to give glory to God. If we follow the example of Jesus we know that service to others is close to the Lord’s heart because he came as a servant. So we don’t live to do everything for public consumption and public praise. We don’t do what we do for the spotlight. In fact, the spotlight moments should only flow out of the depth of service, character and integrity we develop in those moments the spotlight will never see.


Book Giveaway – Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters by N.T. Wright

Congratulations to Luke Dockery who won an advance copy of Mark Driscoll’s book that is coming out next week “Who Do You Think You Are?“. I am following that up with another book giveaway. This time it is N.T. Wright’s book Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters. This is an excellent book and one you guys definitely need to add to your resources if you haven’t already.

If you want to be in the running to get a copy of Wright’s book just comment on this post and I will announce a winner on New Year’s day. So get your comments in by then. Thanks for reading and have a great New Year!


1,000,000 Views Almost Here…Some Giveaways for Readers!

whodoyouthinkyouare-driscollI am going to be doing a series of giveaways on the blog between now and New Year’s! I was given a review copy of Mark Driscoll’s Who Do You Think You Are: Finding Your True Identity in Christ. I haven’t quite finished it in order to review it fully but I have been extremely impressed with this book. If you have read my reviews in the past you know I don’t just fluff things up to make anyone feel good. I am going to be complimentary where appropriate and give some critique on areas that I thought were lacking or missed the point. This book has made an impact on me, so much so, that it made me change my mind on what to teach in our LIFE groups in 2013 and I am writing a new curriculum for our groups.  What is more, I requested an additional copy in order to give it away.

If you would like to get this advance copy, just comment below and
I will pick someone out at the same time I review this book,
which will be by the end of the week.

More giveaways to follow so be on the look out!

Who Do You Think You Are? Finding Your True Identity in Christ

whodoyouthinkyouare-driscollIn a previous post I asked for input for a new small group series I am going to teach in the spring. In the middle of working on that series I ran across something that put it all in perspective for me. This piece of information showed me that I was starting a series with no foundation. The series is going to be called “Dealing with Life’s Difficulties” and is going to center in on dealing with difficult people, difficult situations and difficult decisions. Then I read this line from Mark Driscoll’s new book “Who Do You Think You Are?” that made a light bulb go off in my head,

As a parent and pastor, I believe that correctly knowing one’s true identity is the one thing that changes everything.

For years, I pastored and counseled people struggling with issues such as alcoholism, sexual perversion, pride, depression, anger, bitterness, and more. Often I felt as though I were talking to a wall because, though I gave biblical counsel, many people seemed to either not hear or not care and instead continued down a path of destruction. It was frustrating and heartbreaking. I felt there had to be a way to help people find freedom.

Then, thanks in large part to the wise words of older and more seasoned counselors, it dawned on me that underlying our struggles in life is the issue of our identity.

This world’s fundamental problem is that we don’t understand who we truly are–children of God made in his image–and define ourselves by any number of things other than Jesus. Only by knowing our false identity apart from Christ in relation to our true identity in him can we rightly deal with and overcome the issues in our lives.” (p.2)

Those words hit me like a ton of bricks because it showed me that I wasn’t starting in the right place. I was trying to jump to solutions and scriptural advice without first dealing with underlying/foundational identity formation issues. If people don’t really understand who they are, how will a few words from scripture help them get things worked out? So instead of launching straight into the series on dealing with difficulties, I am going to use Mark’s book as the basis for some curriculum and then jump into the other series. I guess you could think of this as an Ephesians approach (oddly enough Mark works through Ephesians in the book) in that it starts with all the information about who God is and who we are and how we relate to him and have identity in him (Eph 1-3) before diving into what we are supposed to do with all of that (Eph 4-6). Kind of came full circle there.

Mark Driscoll on Preaching Scatology

Driscoll sure knows how to turn eschatology into its abbreviated and certainly messier form – scatology. Out of Ur posted this video of Mark Driscoll preaching on scatological humor in the Bible.

There are a few things I think are a little strange about this video. The first is his reference to the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (great book, by the way). I can’t find anywhere in that reference book where scatological humor is mentioned. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It just means that, unless I am missing something, this dictionary doesn’t even reference it.  Second, the two stories he mentioned don’t really seem to have humor as the intention when it comes to the “potty” element of the story. There is some humor in Judges 3 but it isn’t potty humor. In fact, the whole bit about slicing his intestines and the smell is totally an assumption and is not in the story at all. What is humorous or at least clever is that in Hebrew Ehud tells Eglon he was a “word” for him but that also mean he has  a “thing” for him, meaning “I have something for you…” Stab! So there is a play on words, Eglon thought Ehud had a secret word for him, Ehud really had a secret sword he would use to kill him. I don’t really see this guy getting stabbed in his big fat belly as “Monty Python funny” but maybe I am just missing something here. I also don’t see the humor in his attendants finding him dead in his chambers, “they see the king dead and his intestines just emptied themselves all over the floor and it’s kind of funny unless, of course, you’re the king.” Driscoll finds this funny. I doubt they did.

In Ezekiel 4 there really isn’t any humor there either. Ezekiel bargains with God, not because he thinks lighting poop on fire is funny but because what God asks him to do is detestable and unclean. Jews found no humor in joking over detestable things. But Mark seems to find that funny. There is scatological humor in the Bible. I am just not sure why he choose these two passages.Why not cite Mark 7:14-23 where this really is something being used in a humorous way?

Last, if everything I said ended up on youtube, I am sure I would get critiqued worse than this so I am not throwing stones here, just pointing out a few things.

Correction: After looking at the Hebrew and not just the NIV, 3:22 does have something to the effect of his excrement coming out of his belly. I have no idea why the NIV left this out. So I stand corrected on that point. So maybe his assumption there is accurate but it is still an assumption that the guards smelled it.

Free e-book on Emerging Church by Mark Driscoll

Preaching and the Emerging Church by Mark Driscoll

[HT: Dan Kimball]

Mark Driscoll Commissions a Critique of Viola’s Pagan Christianity

Here is a link to the 11 page pdf of the critique. One note of irony was in the last paragraph, “The tone of the book itself is problematic, because the authors are so sure of themselves.” (p. 11). Wouldn’t it be problematic to be so sure that someone else is problematic for being sure? I can’t say that I have ever heard or read anyone more sure of himself than Driscoll. Have a read when you get a chance.

Two Free E-Books for Men Struggling With Pornography and Sexual Addiction

Pornography and sexual addiction is the elephant in the room in many congregations around the country. I heard one statistic that as many as 50% of Christian men in America struggle with some form of sexual addiction. How many men is that in your congregation if that statistic is true? That adds up pretty quickly. What is more, many ministers are also wrestling with this issue. We will be reaping the destructive results of these addictions in the church for many, many years.

It is important that Christianity puts its collective foot down on this issue and begins to educate local Christian communities with a biblical view of sex and sexuality.

I am going to talk about that more in some future posts but for now I want to make any of you men out there who struggle with this two free e-book resources that you might find helpful.

Mark Driscoll’s Porn Again Christian – This book is pretty hard hitting, straight forward and doesn’t hold back on much. It answers many questions that people might be afraid to ask and deals with the issue of how destructive pornography is and how it fights against God’s ideal of sex within the context of marriage.

Tim Challies’ Sexual Detox – This is the compilation of the posts I mentioned earlier in one pdf. While the first book I would only recommend to those who struggle with pornography, this one is something I think would be beneficial for all Christian men to read.

I have no way to know who is downloading these, it is completely anonymous. So if you need to read either one of these please do so. Don’t be so proud as to think you can deal with these things on your own and walk away with a healthy view of sex or a healthy marriage if you are currently wrestling with pornography or other sexual addictions.

Restoration Repackaged With Vintage Language

One of the things I really like about reading Dan Kimball is his plea for things to be “Vintage”. He sees value in looking to scripture for ideals in how we live, worship, and develop our theology. Sound familiar? Sounds a little like the roots of the church of Christ. We have been asking for restoration to a first century ideal for quite some time and it is refreshing that others are seeing that while culture changes the Gospel does not.

Another person who is talking a lot about “vintage” Christianity right now is Mark Driscoll. I don’t know an awful lot about Driscoll but I have seen his book Vintage Jesus. Anyone have experience with him or his material? I have noticed he has been addressing the issue of pornography lately with free resources for dealing with this issue in Christian circles. Here is the link to that material.