Book Review: Puff or Pass by Mark Driscoll

Puff or passA few weeks ago Mars Hill Church released a free ebook called Puff or Pass: Should Christians Smoke Pot or Not? by Mark Driscoll (click here to read the introduction and download the entire ebook). I don’t remember how I ran across this ebook, but I’m glad I did. With marijuana being legalized in a few states and the probability that we will see that happen in other states as well, I believe it’s important for Christians, especially those of us in church leadership, to have a handle on this issue and be ready to give a solid answer on marijuana. For instance, if marijuana becomes legal in your state, how will you respond when someone ask you what does the Bible say about marijuana? If your answer is “because the Bible says doing marijuana is a sin” than you need to read this ebook. That’s not the best answer and doesn’t address the issue in a way that communicates Biblical principles to someone.

What I loved about this short ebook is the way Driscoll addresses the issue. He doesn’t try to give a quick Bible answer and run from the complexity of questions that may come next, like should it be used for medical purposes. Instead, he addresses the issue with Bible principles, such as drugs harm your body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit and believers shouldn’t be controlled by anything other than the Spirit. However, Driscoll does feel that medical use of marijuana may be permissible (page 36). I personally I’m not sure where I stand on the medical use of marijuana. I believe the recreational use of it is wrong, but need to do more research and thinking before I come to a conclusion on it’s medical use. I appreciate Driscoll’s humility in this book as he explains he is not a medical doctor so he doesn’t feel comfortable discussing the medical benefits.

Two things stood out to me as I read this ebook that make it a book that I highly recommend. First, Driscoll did his research. The whole first part of this book is statistics. Driscoll shares the stats on marijuana from about every angle possible. When we are discussing a topic like this, it’s important to know the facts and Driscoll make sure those are communicated upfront. Second, Driscoll doesn’t just give an answer and run, but he shares multiple viewpoints that exists among evangelicals when it comes to this issue of marijuana. He basically asks two questions: Should marijuana be legal (the legal question) and should Christians use marijuana (the morality question)? To each of these questions Driscoll shares three options most evangelicals take.

I recommend this ebook to every Christian, especially pastors, student pastors, and anyone in church or para-church ministry. It’s a short, easy to read book that you can get through in one setting. To download this ebook for free just go to this post on the Resurgence website.

Book Review: The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

This past weekend I finished reading Matt Chandler’s book The Explicit Gospel. Even before this book came out there was a lot of hype surrounding it, so I was excited to read it for myself. I remember when I was at Lifeway buying the book, one of the first things I noticed is the Rick Warren quote on the front that said, “If you read only one book this year, make it this one. It’s that important.”

To be honest, the book wasn’t as groundbreaking as I thought it would be. I don’t want to belittle Matt Chandler’s work, because it was a great book. Even though this isn’t as good as I expected, I do highly recommend it to anyone who wants a better understanding of the Gospel. In this book, Chandler does a great job at explaining the whole Gospel from start to finish in a very smooth, progressive way. What I mean by that is that he starts with Genesis, why we need the Gospel, and goes all the way to the consummation of our faith and what the future looks like for Christians. In a world where many people claim to be “Christians” and many have grown up in church so they know the “words to say,” it’s important we, especially church leaders, understand the Gospel thoroughly. That is why I would recommend anyone in church leadership to read this book.

There were two things I really enjoyed and learned more about thanks to this book. First, Chandler does a great job of explaining why and how we should be a missional Christian in light of the Gospel. I have always loved the “missional” mindset of Christianity, but I feel like I got a better understanding of why that is, thanks to this book. Second, Chandler does a great job at explaining Biblical eschatology. He gets away from what “tradition” says about eschatology, and shares what the Bible says about it. I learned a lot from this part of the book.

Overall, this was a great read and I would recommend it to others. I’m looking forward to reading the book Gospel by J.D. Grear soon and expect it to be much of the same thing I read in this book. If you want to buy The Explicit Gospel for a great price, click here to get it from Amazon.

3 Practical Ways to be Missional

Over the past few months the Lord has been working in my heart about being more missional as a Christian. What I mean by being missional is living in such a way that Jesus lived. He was sent into the world to serve and save others (Matthew 20:28; Luke 19:10)  and now, as believers, we are sent into the world to do the same (Matthew 5:13-16). After spending four years at a Bible college and now (and will be as a vocation) working at a local church, I spend most of my time around Christians. The Lord has convicted me of this because He did not save me to just sit in a Bible study or a worship service, but saved me to go out into the world and be missional! I believe most Christians struggle with this idea because we think as Christians we are supposed to be totally separate from the world. We need to remember we are called to be IN the world, but not of it. Here are three simple ways God has helped me be more missional and I believe they will help you as well:

1. Join the local gym. There is a YMCA or rec center in almost every community. One simple way to be missional is to join your local gym or rec center. This will not only help you exercise, which is something that honors God, but it will help you be around people who need the Gospel. As you work out, play pick up ball, or swim you can build relationships with people who may never step foot inside your church. I recently joined the rec center in the community I am living in right now and God has allowed me to connect with other guys by playing basketball.

2. Do your work at a local coffee shop. The local coffee shops will attract a different crowd than the gym, but it still will attract a crowd that needs the Gospel. If you’re a college or seminary student, you MUST do this! Don’t just sit in your dorm room or the library on your Christian school campus, go to the local coffee shops so you can build relationships with unbelievers as you get some work done. My fiancée and I do a lot of our work at a local coffee shop here in Medina. There is always a ton of people and it is a great way to be out in the world.

3. Get a local part-time job. Obviously this isn’t for everyone, but if your working part-time for a church or a Christian business, think about working a secular part-time job. Furthermore, if God has called you to work in a secular field, embrace it! God will and can use people working in a secular field! He doesn’t need and want everyone in full-time ministry. Currently I am only a part-time, unpaid intern at a church. Because of this I believe God is wanting me to work a part-time job here in the community. This will allow me to be more missional and build relationships with people who need the Gospel.

In Jude 1:23, the Bible tells us to “save others by snatching them out of the fire…” This is a vivid picture of what we are called to do as believers; live a missional live so we can save people from eternal separation from God in hell. We will never snatch people out of the fire by spending all our time in church. We will never snatch people out of the fire if we are scared to go out into the world. I believe too many Christians are so worried about staying “away” from the world they never become missional. Or maybe it’s a lack of concern for the lost. Maybe we are not missional because we scared, but because we simply don’t care about the people in the world headed hell. Either way, God has called us to be about His mission. Go out into the world and be missional!

Related posts/articles/book:
3 Ways to Love Your City
Defining Missional
Missional Christianity Series by Resurgence
What is the Mission of the Church? by Kevin DeYoung

3 Ways to Love Your City

What comes to your mind when you hear the word, “city?” A lot of people equate city with sin and wickedness. It is true that crime and danger are more likely in a city, but that does not make the city more sinful than the rural communities. I am greatly encouraged by the resurgence of church planting and church activity within the cities of our country. I believe that if America is ever going to see another nation-wide revival it will have to start within the cities. Why? Culture is driven by the cities. If you can impact a city for Christ then you can impact the culture of the whole country. I believe God loves the city and wants to bring spiritual renewal to our cities in this country. I urge you to not look down or think less of the cities, but love the cities. Whatever city you are in, or close to, love that city and passionately seek God’s face for a revival in that city! Here are a few ways we can love our city:

Pray for your city. The first thing we as believers can do to love our city is to pray for it! Pray for the city leaders, officials, and all the people who make up that city. in 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul says, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions…” During the time of Paul writing this, Nero was in leadership. If you don’t know, Nero hated Christians and did a lot to try to stop Christianity. Paul said, pray for him! I don’t care how wicked or messed up your city leaders may be, the Bible commands us to pray for them! If you do nothing else for your city, at least pray that God would do a mighty work there.

Be a part of your city. Spend time in your city. Find places and things you can do within your city. God wants us to enjoy the things He has given to us and within the city God has given people a lot of fun things to enjoy. As a am writing this I am in a coffee shop in the middle of the city I am currently in. I have been coming here frequently and have enjoyed seeing the people and things that make up this city. Not only should you spend time enjoying yourself in your city, be a good citizen of your city as well. Paul goes on to say, “…that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” God desires believers to be good citizens of their cities and enjoy it while being godly and dignified.

Serve your city. Look for ways to serve your city. Within most cities there are countless homeless and helpless people who need help. Get involved in your local rescue mission or homeless shelter. If you have time, serve on a board or committee in your city. Please do not look down on your city if you are not investing time in it and serving it for the glory of God. Praying for your city is good. Being a part of your city is good as well. But serving your city is better! We are never more like Jesus than when we are serving. And serving your city is a way to show people Jesus and His love for the city.

Start thinking positive about your city and what God could do in it. Great revivals in the past have started within cities and then spread throughout the rural areas. Your city could be the start of the nest great move of God in our country. God works through people who make up His church so get out there and let God use you in your city.

Three things that have sparked a passion in me for cities:
1) Article from Resurgence titled “4 Ways to Know Your City”
2) Song “God of this City” by Chris Tomlin
3) For all my fellow Hip-Hop fans out there, Andy Mineo (C-Lite) song “In My City”

Recommended sermon that is worth watching on this subject-Tim Keller “Reaching Your City with the Gospel”

My sister, Amanda McCann, made this for me to hang in my office. She does an amazing job at making arts and things like this. Check out her stuff and contact her if you want something made on here “Manda’s Creations & Such” Facebook page.

Intentional Christian Living (Part 2)

A few months ago the Lord was working in my heart about being more intentional in my walk with Him. Through Scripture and books I was reading at the time God really helped me see that the Christian life is an intentional pursuit. I started a series of posts called “Intentional Christian Living” and posted part one here. In that post I said I wanted to talk about being intentional in three areas: fighting sin, giving to the poor, and prayer life. In this second part of this series of post I want to talk about being intentional in our fight against sin.

This past year I was talking to one of my good friends about his struggle with sin. I was encouraging him to fight the sin and not just allow himself to get into the habit of committing this certain sin. I gave him the following example: When a boxer goes into the ring to fight, does he wait until his opponent starts to throw punches and then he starts fighting? NO! A boxer gets in the ring for one reason, to win the fight. He is not going to waste time and let his opponent beat him up before he starts fighting back. He throws punches, he gets into the fight, he gets in the ring to win.

As believers, we often allow sin to beat us up and then we want to pray and fight back, but by then the sin has already entangled us and we feel defeated. I have good new, God has already won the battle against sin and has given us everything we need to fight sin practically in our life’s! Don’t wait until sin has entangled you before you start fighting, intentionally fight the sin the moment it raises its ugly head in your life. Everyone knows we are in a fight with sin. Everyone understands what it’s like to get in the cage with a sin that “owns” you and find yourself face down on the mat, time and time again. There is no question sin is a very tough and incredibly strong opponent. Yancey Arrington said this, “Everyone knows we are in a fight with sin. Everyone understands what it’s like to get in the cage with a sin that “owns” you and find yourself face down on the mat, time and time again. There is no question sin is a very tough and incredibly strong opponent.” If you are a believer, you know this feeling.

In closing think about this. Jesus overcame temptation using two things: power from the Spirit and Scripture. Why did he just use those? He wanted to use the two means that we have today as an example for us. We too, can intentionally fight sin by the power of the Holy Spirit and by Scripture.

Additional Resources: Fight Sin Well blog post from Resurgence, Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges, and Mortification of Sin by John Owen.