Author Archives: Brent Osterberg

About Brent Osterberg

Ransomed sinner, husband to Keri, father to the kiddos three, associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Fort Worth, TX, and lover of most things epic.

New Book Trailer: Weakness is the Way by J.I. Packer

This new book, Weakness is the Way by J.I. Packer, was commended to us in class today.  I intend on grabbing a copy…maybe you should too.

Weakness is the Way by J. I. Packer from Crossway on Vimeo.


Why “Doing” is So Important in the Fight Against Anxiety

Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of Philippians 4:9 in the fight against anxiety.  Here it is again:

9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

In this text we see that there is a very active element to receiving God’s gift of peace.  God wants us to obediently follow the example of Paul, and as we do so, He promises that his peace-giving character will be with us.

What I didn’t expound on yesterday is why this command is so important in fighting anxiety.  If you ever struggle with moments or seasons of anxiety, you know how it can cripple you in your obedience to the Lord.  Anxiety keeps you download (3)inside yourself, trying to answer questions that you can’t answer, seeking to handle hard circumstances by yourself, and trying to get to the bottom of your struggle.  Anxiety leads us to keep spinning our wheels while going nowhere.  As this is happening, we are dropping the ball on our spiritual privileges and responsibilities – we forget to pray for other people, we neglect those closest to us, and we stop pursuing the Lord in worship.

This is why it is so crucial for Paul to tell us to follow his example.  Anxious people need to be reminded of who God is and what Christ has accomplished for us, but we also need to be told to get busy living again – living a life of devotion to our King.  The right feelings might not be there at first, but that’s when we repent, ask God’s forgiveness for not desiring Him as we should, ask Him to provide us with those right feelings, and then keep moving forward by His grace.


A Scripture We’ve Missed in the Battle Against Anxiety

When we or someone we know is struggling with anxiety there are a few Scripture texts that we turn to more than others.  One of those is Philippians 4:6-7:

6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving images (63)let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The promise of this verse is that God’s peace will guard your heart and mind in Christ when you depend on Him through prayer and thank Him for His graciousness to you.  I have clung to this promise many times in my life, but like so many other Bible passages, with this one, I have stopped reading too soon.

When you reach verse 9, the Lord gives some more hope for the anxious believer:

9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Here is another promise of peace.  When we follow the example of holy living that Paul set for us, we will receive peace.  My conclusion in all of this is that God does not intend for us to be inactive in receiving His gracious gift of peace.  For His glory and by His grace, He has planned that we must draw near to him in prayer, thanksgiving, and a life of devoted obedience to experience the peace He promises.


Planting Gospel Seeds in Conversations with Your Kids

One way to plant gospel seeds in the conversations you have with your kids is to explain to them why you do what you do.  Listen to Kurt Gebhards:

When a parent makes important decisions in life, he should explain to his children how the gospel download (2)influenced that decision…explain why you do not buy certain things, do certain things, and constantly point back to the gospel as the motivation (taken from Evangelism: How to Share the Gospel Faithfully).

Now, in order for this to be genuine, you must actually make decisions because you have been influenced by the gospel.  So, I think the point is that planting gospel seeds in conversation with your kids will not be difficult if, in fact, you are living a life that is focused on the gospel.  Gospel conversations will take place simply because you are answering the question, “Why?”


Fighting Temptation with 3″ x 5″ Cards

download (1)Do you ever experience those moments of intense temptation to sin (whether it’s worry, anger, lust, etc.) and find that, although you know you need to set your mind on Christ, you cannot think of the biblical truths necessary to do battle in your heart?  In those moments you need God’s concrete promises, the specifics of the gospel, but for one reason or another everything that enters your mind is like a cloud coming of the coast that dissipates in the summer sun.

I have found that the best way to handle those moments is not to waste valuable fighting-time wandering around in your mind until you find something solid and pertinent to your struggle, but rather to create a stack of  3″ x 5″ cards that help you make war with your sin.  I know this is old school (I’m sure you can do this with an app of some kind if you’d like), but I find that I need to act fast when I’m being tempted and these pre-written truths help me cut through the ambiguity.  In order to do this it would, first, be helpful to know what sins you struggle with most, so you can better tailor the cards to your precise needs.

Here are the categories of cards that I am using currently:

  • Bible verses – Remember, these verses do not have to use the name of the sin you struggle with in order to help you.  So, don’t just look in the concordance in the back of your Bible and copy down the verses under “fear” or “bitterness”.  Use texts that remind you who God is and what Jesus has done for you.
  • Wise words – These are pithy statements of wisdom in reference to my sin struggles that I have collected from Christian books or blogs.
  • Instructions – These are simple, direct instructions to myself (based on Scripture), telling me to do something specific in service to Christ.  Often times, battling temptation keeps us so focused on the fight that we are hindered from practicing active obedience to God, when that may be just what we need to draw near to him in faithfulness.  Tip: make sure that if your heart is not in the “doing” that you ask God’s forgiveness and prayer that he would bring it in line with your actions.
  • Prayers for others – Since sin is ultimately proud and selfish, praying for others can helps direct our focus away from ourselves.

How John MacArthur Encouraged His Children’s Ministry Workers

What do you think is the value of the children’s ministry at your church?  In your estimation is it a ministry that simply keeps the kids from tearing each other images (62)apart for an hour so parents can hear the sermon?  Is it just baby-sitting or something more?

Here’s what John MacArthur said to his Children’s Ministry workers at one of their events last year:

…you (Children’s Ministry) are doing the greatest and most consistent evangelistic ministry this church has.  This is the primary evangelistic emphasis in this church…You (Children’s Ministry) are an evangelistic force and in my mind you are the greatest evangelistic force we have at Grace Community Church.

 


Showing Your Kids What God is Like: Initiating Love

images (61)This morning I am thinking about Romans 5:8 in reference to my parenting.  This familiar verse says, “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  What strikes me about this verse is that God loved us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still in our rebellion against him.  God loved us first.  In fact, God had to love us first or else we would never have escaped our rebellion.  Romans 3:11 states “…no one seeks for God”, so it was necessary that He seek us if were ever going to experience salvation and serve Him at all.  God had to initiate our relationship with him.

So, what does this have to do with parenting?  As redeemed people who have been made in the image of God, our calling is to show the world what God is like… this includes our children.  Therefore, I want my children to see me seeking them out as God has sought me out.  I do not want to be a father who only relates to my children when they come to me first, asking me to play with them or answer their questions.  On the contrary, I want them to expect that Dad is going to come after them in love – initiating talks, play-time, and the giving of help.


Introspection: Don’t Go Down There Without the Gospel

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In the Bible we are instructed to examine ourselves to see whether we are truly believers (2 Corinthians 13:5) and we are also called to confess our sins to the Lord (1 John 1:9).  To obey both of these commands requires that we look within ourselves.  We have to know what the sin is before can confess it and we have to see evidence of faith to help us see if our faith is real.  Self-examination is an important practice for Christians as we seek to love and serve our King, but please allow me to give you a warning as you look inside yourself.

Self-examination can very easily move from a humble desire to walk in the light before God to a concentrated effort to find confidence and esteem in yourself apart from God.  If you’re not careful, you can find yourself engaging in something that seems to others as very contrite – the practice of someone who is taking holiness seriously – but is actually fueled by a self-righteous attempt to find evidence of your own worth so you can feel good about yourself.  If you find what you’re looking for (as rationalized and duplicitous as it may be), then you’ll be proud and self-reliant, but if you don’t find what you’re looking for, then you’ll be devastated and insecure.

Some counsel: don’t go spelunking inside your heart without first anchoring yourself to the gospel.  The gospel will remind you that you desperately needed to be rescued…that will keep you from pride when you see your “credentials”.  And the gospel will remind you that you stand before God in the righteousness of Christ…that will keep you from devastation when you see the wretchedness of your sin.


An Easy Way to Remember the Believer’s Relationship to the Law of God

images (56)My apologies for the week-long hiatus from blogging.  My family just moved out to California for the summer so I could attend Grace Advance Academy, which is essentially a two-month crash-course in church leadership and church-planting.

On a another subject entirely, as I was meeting with God in the book of Galatians this morning, he brought my attention to a subject I am trying to clarify more and more – the relationship between the law of God and the Christian.  In Galatians 4:21, Paul addresses the Galatians by calling them “you who desire to be under the law”.  What does this designation mean?  Does it have a negative or positive connotation?  Well, given the context, the connotation is a negative one that speaks to the desire of the Galatians to rely on the law (specifically, their obeying the law) to gain a right standing before God.  Paul demonstrates in chapter 3 that the law was not given so that we would be saved by keeping it (that’s impossible), but rather so that we would see our sin and believe in Christ to save us (the only One who has kept the law perfectly).

So, Galatians makes it clear that the law has no place in the life of a Christian as a system for salvation, but that does not mean that the law has no place in the life of a Christian.  Tim Keller, in his book, Galatians for You, gives an easy way for us to remember what place the law should have in our lives now that we’ve trusted Christ alone for salvation: we are called to law-obeying, not law-relying.  He explains:

Law-obeying, not law-relying – These are Christians who understand the gospel and are living out the freedom of it.  They obey the law of God out of the grateful joy that comes from the knowledge of their sonship, and out of freedom from the fear and selfishness that false idols had generated.


Another Benefit to Devoting Yourself to Fellowship

images (55)In Acts 2:42 we are told that the believers in Jerusalem were devoting themselves to fellowship among other things (i.e. – the apostles’ teaching, the breaking of bread, and prayer).  When we devote ourselves to fellowship – enjoying Jesus together, sharing with one another, serving the Lord together – we encounter God’s grace in and through each other to the point where coming into contact with a member of the body is to be reminded (almost instantaneously) of the Lord.

In my life this has played itself out in merely seeing another member of my local church.  In specific, there have been occasions in my life when my heart has been insensitive to the Spirit and plagued with sinful desire, and simply seeing another brother walk into the room begins to help me think of things that are “true…honorable…just…pure…lovely…commendable…worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).  Thoughts of who these people are (representatives of Christ and siblings with me in God’s family) and how they’ve ministered to me personally (with loving care and faithfulness) seep into my mind and begin to wash away the hardness of heart at these times.

My conclusion: devote yourself to the family of God and let them devote themselves to you to such a degree that to merely catch a glimpse of them will cause you to remember the grace of God and praise him for it!


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