Monthly Archives: April 2012

Resources for Discipleship

At Calvary Bible Church we started a one-on-one discipleship ministry almost two years ago wherein we train certain men and women in the body to lead other individuals in pursuing holiness and becoming more like Christ.  To help us do this we came up with some loose categories to help us determine where someone is in the progress of their spiritual growth: seeker, beginner, grower, and leader.  In the discipleship manual that we give to each of our disciplers we have a suggested resource list that is broken up into these categories.  I thought it might be beneficial to some of you out there, so here it is:

Seekers

What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert

The Walk by Stephen Smallman

Christianity Explored by Rico Tice and Barry Cooper

The God Who is There by D.A. Carson

More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell

Beginners

What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert

Fundamentals of the Faith by John MacArthur

The Walk by Stephen Smallman

How to Study the Bible by John MacArthur

The Daily Reading Bible by Matthias Media

The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges

Why Church Matters by Joshua Harris

What is a Healthy Church Member? Thabiti Anyabwile

Living the Cross-Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney

The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever

The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn

Growers

Knowing God by J.I. Packer

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney

Journey into God’s Word by J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays

Humility by C.J. Mahaney

Life in the Father’s House by Wayne Mack and Dave Swavely

Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem

Tell the Truth by Will Metzger

The Enemy Within by Kris Lungaard

Trusting God by Jerry Bridges

Sinners in the Hands of a Good God by David Clotfelter

 
Leaders

The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne

Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders

Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Competent to Counsel by Jay Adams

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp

The Deliberate Church by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander

Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch

Rescuing Ambition by Dave Harvey



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Mundane Moments: Where the Character of Life is Set

Consider this quote by Paul David Tripp from his book, Age of Opportunity:

There simply are not many grand moments of life, and we surely don’t live life in those moments.  No, we live in the utterly mundane.  We exist in the bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms, and hallways of life.  This is where the character of our life is set.  This is where we live the life of faith (p. 60).

In light of this reality ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I believe the grand moments of life are more important than the mundane ones?  If so, why do I think this?
  • How much focus and energy do I devote to the mundane moments of life versus the energy and focus I devote to planning for the grand moments or wishing they would be repeated?
  • Am I the same person in the mundane moments of life as I am in the grand moments?  If not, what’s the difference… and why the difference?
  • Does the Bible distinguish between grand moments and mundane moments?  Biblically speaking, what should be true of me in both the grand and the mundane?
  • What are some practical things I can do to make better use of the mundane moments of life for the glory of God and the good of the people he has placed in my context?

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Not Content to Say, “I’ll Get ‘Em Next Time”

Yesterday I told the story of how I neglected to share the gospel with our service  agent at the car dealership where our van was being repaired.  After bringing the van back four times and speaking with this gentleman on each occasion, he thanked me for not getting in his face about their failure to fix the problem and I blew the opportunity to proclaim Christ.

In response to that post someone commented, “Brent, if your van is still having problems, then God may just give you the chance to make right your missed opportunity.”  This got me thinking, “Yes, but what if the van is fixed for good and I never see this service agent again?”  Certainly, I will trust the sovereignty of God to do what he sees fit.  But is there more I can do?  Wait… that’s right… the service agent gave me his business card before I left the dealership, which means I have his email and the dealership’s address.  I don’t have to wonder if I’ll ever get an opportunity to make right my missed opportunity because I can just send him a personal “thank you” card and explain to him the power of the gospel that saved me and can save him.

Now, I know that I could have gone online to get the dealership’s address and this man’s email, but the business card was the way in which the Lord reminded me that I shouldn’t be so quick to resign myself to failure, throw up my arms, and say, “I’ll get ’em next time”.  I can create the “next time” instead of wishing that it would just come my way.

O how we lack persistence in sharing the gospel!  Let us remember, Church, that one missed opportunity can turn into a a dozen new opportunities (many times, including one with the person you missed previously) if we will remember the tenacity with which God sought us with salvation and let his example and love fuel our witness.

 

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Recovering from a Missed Opportunity

We’ve been having problems with our minivan.  The main issue is proving to be quite enigmatic because it’s been in and out of the shop four times since we bought it ten weeks ago.  The whole thing is kind of maddening because the van is only a year old, but we’re asking the Lord to help us trust him.  Each time I take the van back up to the dealership, I deal with same service agent.  Yesterday, was my latest trip up there and this service agent said something to me that God must be honored for.  He said, “Thank you for not going off on me.”  In other words, “Thank you for not getting in my face, yelling at me, and demanding that things be done perfectly.”  He went on to talk a bit about the people who do treat him in this way and I explained to him that I understand he is not the one who designed the vehicle and put it together.

Last night as I was describing this interchange to my wife, she asked the question, “Did you say anything to him about the gospel?”  Immediately, my heart sank.  Not only had I not said a thing about the gospel, but it did not even enter my mind to bring up Christ to this man.  What went wrong?  What was my problem in that moment?  Why did I not recognize the opportunity and jump on it?  The door was wide open for me to tell him of the Savior who has made me different than all the others who had berated him, and I blew it!

In evaluating the situation and asking myself what was going on in my heart, I’ve come to the conclusion that I walked in that dealership yesterday with a “you better have fixed it this time” attitude.  I was preoccupied with ME, seeing myself as a victim of this car company’s neglect, and holding onto a sense of entitlement that kept me from setting my mind on Christ and thinking of the soul of this man who has been trying to help me.  I was blinded by the lie that I deserve to be served, when the truth is I deserve only hell.

How am I to respond to my sinful preoccupation?

  • First, I must confess it as sin and ask God for forgiveness, remembering that sin is not only the bad I do but the good I don’t do.
  • Second, I must praise the Lord at the remembrance of the cross of Christ by which that sin is forgiven and the righteousness of Christ by which God still loves me perfectly.
  • Third, I must pray that God would help me to forget myself and recognize the opportunities all around me to proclaim his excellencies.
  • Fourth, I must take advantage of the occasions when my mind is freed up to fill it with God’s word instead of thoughts that only serve to bolster my already bulging ego.

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The Magazine Rack at Walmart and Your Response

Last night a friend and I had a helpful conversation about responding to temptation.  Part of the discussion focused on the specifics of what we should think and believe in those instances when we are confronted with lustful images on the magazine rack while waiting in line at Walmart.  Two truths came out of that discussion that I think are particularly important:

  • We must remember that the lustful image is telling us a lie.  With exposed skin, seductive eyes, and airbrushing the image is saying, “I am what is most desirable”, and because we have sinful hearts we are tempted to believe the lie and turn an accidental glance into an all-out gaze.  In this moment of temptation, in your mind and heart, the lie needs to be confronted with the truth: “In your (God’s) presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more” (Psalm 16:11).
  • We must remember that the image we are tempted to stare at is a real person who may very well be going to hell.  The person on the cover of that magazine is, most-likely, caught up in a lifestyle of lust, money, and self-glory that will lead her to experience God’s just anger, unless by God’s grace she repents and trusts in Jesus.  This thought will help us to cut through the surface of make-up and wardrobe to the spiritual reality of that person’s spiritual state and the need she has for rescue.  Hopefully, this thought will lead you to pray for her instead of fantasize about her.

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For Husbands: When to Give Flowers

Valentine’s day, birthday, anniversary, forgetting one of these occasions, coming home after being out of town on business for a week, and sticking your foot in your mouth.  What do all of these have in common?  For husbands, they are occasions when it is expected that you will buy something for your wife.

There is certainly nothing wrong with buying flowers or some earrings for your wife on these occasions, but I think it’s a good idea to let these occasions be the base line for giving to your wife.  You don’t want the only occasions when you buy something for your wife to be those times when you would be deemed a jerky jerk if you didn’t.  Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing.”  Men, if you are married, then everyday you wake up should be an occasion to remind yourself that you are blessed to have a wife.  With this realization will come gratitude and gratitude will show itself in action.

One action in particular is what I like to call giving “just because” flowers.  There should be sporadic, random days in the life of a husband when he brings flowers home to his wife and when she asks, “What’s the occasion?”, he will be able to say, “Just because.”  On these occasions, “just because” will be translated by your wife as “just because I love you”.  I think the only way you can ruin this is if you ask for something right after you give her the flowers.  Then “just because” will be translated, “just because I wanted to butter you up”.  So, with that small warning, plan to give your wife some “just because flowers” soon, but don’t do it just because I told you to.

 

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A Prayer for Our Son on His 5th Birthday

Gracious God, thank you for your kindness in giving Peter to us.  We know that he is your creation, and as such, belongs to you first and foremost, so please help us always to be good stewards of this child and raise him in a manner that pleases you.

What Peter needs most, Lord, is not to grow up and become successful in life, getting into the college of his choice, securing a job that pays six figures, getting married, raising well-behaved kids, and retiring comfortably.  What he needs most is the salvation that comes only through the life, death and resurrection of your Son.  Save him, God!  Make him run away from sin and crawl to the foot of the cross in realization that he deserves only hell because of his rebellion against you.  Then, please, lift his head to see the glorious hope of the Savior’s face.  Wrap him in the righteousness of Jesus so that he will live in the atmosphere of your grace all of his days, and bring him home to heaven to live in the blissful perfection that your full presence provides.

Lord, you have given Peter the physical energy of a highly-caffeinated squirrel.  Please direct that energy to yourself through a gospel-driven life. Father, save him at an early age so that he may know more of your blessing and spend more time delving into your character and work in order that his life here on earth will be a story overflowing with your amazing grace.

As his parents, allow Keri and I the joy of being used by you to point Peter to Jesus and lead him to his saving arms.  May our sins and shortcomings never serve to harden his heart to you, but rather help him see that you are truly the one he needs beyond all others.

Hear these requests, Lord, but know that we trust your plan for him even if doesn’t look like what we’ve imagined.  Your will be done… you know best.  Be glorified through Peter as you see fit.  In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

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