Monthly Archives: December 2012

Questioning Your Heart: “What if Today Was Your Last…?”

images (43)With today being the last day of the Mayan calendar, I heard a discussion between two guys at Starbucks yesterday concerning what they would do if Friday, December 21 really was the last day they had to live.  One man began describing the steak he would eat and what drink he would choose to go with it.

His answer led me to ask some questions of myself: “Brent, is that what you would do if you knew it was your last day on earth?”  The answer: “No, because if today is my last day on earth, then I know tomorrow I will be in heaven, and in heaven there will be much more joy than a steak from a sin-scarred world can provide.  The whole reason to eat a steak on your last day on earth would be to experience its savory delight in the expectation that you will be derived of such delight in the next life.  For a believer in Christ, I can expect that ‘to depart and be with Christ’ will be ‘very much better’ (Philippians 1:23), so I will do something other than eat a steak.”

“Brent, what will you do then?”  The answer: “Something that I will not be able to do in heaven.  This does not mean that I will spend the day pursuing sin and immorality because there is none of that in heaven.  Rather, I mean, what God-glorifying thing will I do that I will not be able to do in heaven?  Okay, I know, I will tell unbelievers of the only hope they have to escape God’s judgment of sin: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  There will be no unbelievers in heaven to share this hope with, so I would spend the day doing that.

“Brent, even though you don’t think tomorrow is going to bring the end of the world, you do agree that any day on this earth could be your last… so why aren’t you sharing the hope of the gospel more in view of this reality?”  The answer (after a pause of conviction): “Because I don’t see God’s grace for the treasure that it truly is.”

A prayer: “Lord, help me see my sin as wretched, treasonous rebellion so that that I see your grace as awesome, breath-stealing beauty… so that I will tell more people that they can experience this grace too.”


Shane and Shane + Phil Wickham = Christmas Goodness

Up half the night with kids + a sermon that needs prepping = I post a video on the blog today.  Enjoy!

 


A Collection of Book Lists from Christian Bloggers for 2012

It’s December and and so there are lots of things we have come to expect during this time of year… and they all have to doimages (42) with Christmas.  But for me, there is one thing I have come to expect in December that really doesn’t have much to do with Christmas: many of my favorite Christian bloggers release a book list from the past year (favorite books, best books, top books, etc). I thought it would be beneficial to have all these lists in one place.  No doubt, there will be gift cards to spend next week, right?

  • Tim Challies’ List – A list of what he considers to be the best books he has read over the last year.  That doesn’t mean they were all written in 2012… just that he read them in 2012.
  • Tony Reinke’s List – A list of his favorite non-fiction books put out by Christian publishers in 2012.
  • Kevin DeYoung’s List – A list of what he thought were the best books published in 2012 (Christian and non-Christian, but all non-fiction).
  • Trevin Wax’s List – A list of the books he most enjoyed reading in 2012.  Not all of them were published in 2012.
  • Jesse Johnson’s List – This is a different one.  It’s a list of John MacArthur’s top 12 best-selling books.

 


What to Preach to Yourself When You Encounter the Dangers of this World

images (41)As I was reading John Piper’s Advent devotional this morning, two sentences provided me with ammunition to use against the unbelief that often emanates from my heart:

The greatest danger a missionary faces is to distrust the mercy of God.  If that danger is avoided, then all other dangers lose their sting.

You may think because Piper refers to missionaries that these statements don’t refer to you.  Please don’t let your heart go there.  As a Christian called to the Great Commission, this truth applies to you as well.  If you will, by God’s grace, avoid the greatest danger of distrusting God, then you can be sure that all other dangers lose their power over you.

What does that mean?  It doesn’t mean that dangerous circumstances won’t come and it doesn’t mean they won’t hurt.  What it means is that if we trust God, we can walk through such dangers with peace, joy, and endurance because we know the dangers are wielded by the hand of God.  And if they are wielded by the hand of God, then we know that they come into our lives with perfect wisdom, perfect goodness, perfect, power, and perfect love from above because of what Christ did on our behalf.  Not only has death lost it’s sting for us because of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:55), but so have all other perils!


How to Let the Bible Take You All the Way to Jesus

images (40)Over the last couple of weeks, a concept has rocked my devotional world: because the entire Bible is ultimately about Jesus and God’s plan of redemption through him (Luke 24:27, 44), I need to let the Bible take me all the way to Jesus all the time.  In failing to do this I can very easily slip into a lifeless and Spirit-less practice of reading God’s Word. This concept was delivered by R.W. Glenn in a message he preached at the Psalm 119 Conference on what it means to be filled with the Spirit.  The whole message is great, but I benefited most from the formula he suggested for how to let the Bible take us all the way to Jesus.  It follows the ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) acrostic than many of you may have used in your prayer life.  The way it is to be used here, however, is not by viewing each letter in the acrostic as separate from the others, but rather, having each letter flow seamlessly into the next.  Here’s what it should look like.

Adoration – In this passage of Scripture, what is there to adore God for?  That is, what attribute of God do I see here that calls me to adore him?

Confession – After I have adored and praised God for that attribute, I ask myself, “What sins crop up in my life when I forget that God is this way?”  After confessing those sins to the Lord, I must be careful not to respond in three ways:

  • Do not try to work it off – “Self-atonement”
  • Do not blow it off – “It’s not that big of a deal… God will forgive me.”
  • Do not turn to superficiality – That is, only dealing with behavioral sins, and not the sins of the heart.  If I don’t get to the heart sins, I’ll never really see myself as bad as I am, and therefore, I will not see how great a Savior Jesus is.

Thanksgiving – I must let the confession drive me to thank God for how great a Savior Jesus is in at least these four ways:

  • Thank you, God, that Jesus lived for me – Meaning, that he has succeeded in all the ways I have failed, and because he died for me, all his success is my success before God.
  • Thank you, God, that Jesus died for me – Jesus felt God’s undiluted wrath for these sins that I have just confessed.
  • Thank you, God, that you see me in Jesus – Because I am united with Christ through faith, God sees me as his beloved.  He loves me as he loves Christ, even though I have sinned in these ways.
  • Thank you, God, that Jesus lives in me – This means that I can actually change and I don’t have to live sinfully.

Supplication – At this point, because we have experienced the sweetness of God’s grace and the freshness of the Spirit through focusing on the gospel, we should pray that others will experience it as well, and that God will use us in their lives to that end.


The Accessibility of Jesus

images (39)This past Sunday at Calvary Bible Church, our pastor, Dan Kirk, continued his preaching series in the Gospel of John that he began back in September.  He simply took the next text in the book (1:35-40) and drew out its meaning and significance as he does every week.  Although Dan did not set out to preach a Christmas sermon, the content of the message seemed in lock-step with Christmas: Jesus was born as a man to make God accessible to us.  As I sat listening in our chapel, my heart was warmed with adoration for Jesus, and so, I want to make that sermon available in the hopes that God will use it similarly in your heart.

Click to download Accessible Jesus.

FYI – the sermon will download with the title Transformed by the Excellencies of Christ, but that’s just because Dan changed the title to Accessible Jesus after the bulletins  and the CD labels were printed.  When the Spirit moves on Saturday night, the preacher’s got no choice but to call an audible, right?


Christmas Hymns: What We Miss in the Latter Verses

images (38)Last year I did a post about what we miss when we only sing the first couple of verses of our beloved hymns.  I listed several of the third, fourth, or fifth verses of the hymns we know best to show that much of the time the most theologically-rich and beautifully-written verses are not found in verse 1 or verse 2.

Today I’m showing that the same is true of many of our favorite Christmas hymns.  May the Lord inspire worship!

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – Verse 5

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.

O Little Town of Bethlehem – Verse 3

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

The First Noel – Verse 8

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord;
That hath made Heaven and earth of naught,
And with His blood mankind hath bought.

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear – Verses 4 and 5

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet-bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.


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