Archive for the ‘Featured Resource’ Category

  1. Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, an excerpt

    Posted on April 1st, 2014 by Jonathan Lenning

    9781433538889As part of gearing up for Secret Church 14: The Cross and Everyday Life, we’ve been highlighting some of the ways that the cross comes to bear on seemingly insignificant daily tasks. So last month, we interviewed Gloria Furman on her new book, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms. The below excerpt may give you an idea of what the rest of the book delves into as well as a good picture of how the gospel impacts every part of our everyday lives.

    What is the Goal of Motherhood?

    Motherhood is a piece of evidence of God’s triumphant agenda to give life despite the curse of death. It is a gift that points us to Jesus. As life marches on to the praise of God’s glory, we see a riveting display of the grace of our Father, who will fulfill his promise to give his Son an in­heritance of nations to the praise of his glory. There’s no greater goal than that.

    There are superfluous ideas circulating in the world that try to explain the goal of motherhood. Many of these ideas have a spiritual bend to them, describing mother­hood as an expression of “the human spirit” or a metaphor for “Mother Earth.” As Christians we understand that any spiritual guidance for motherhood that attempts to con­nect a woman to God apart from the substitutionary aton­ing death of Jesus cannot ultimately succeed. Jesus’s claim to be “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) has implications for the way we view our role as mothers. The lens of the profound reality of the gospel is where we see motherhood for what it is—a mercy. Praise God for the mercy he has on us when even we turn this gift into a vehicle for our self-fulfillment.

    With Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden, all their progeny along with them were justly indicted and condemned to death. Despite their grievous sin, God not only allowed life but facilitated it and sustains it still today. The mercy shown to us at the cross of Jesus Christ is the pinnacle of God’s lavish grace. Herman Bavinck wrote, “Based on that sacrifice [Christ], God can wrench the world and humanity out of the grip of sin, expand his kingdom, gather up all things under Christ as its head, and one day be all in all. No one, not even Satan, can say a word against this.”[1]

    Even while we steal God’s glory and insist that moth­erhood exists to serve our egos and our reputations, God gives us more mercy still. Even while we wring our hands anxiously over God’s timing for our family, God graciously continues to fulfill his eternal purposes in creating each and every member of our family. Relieved of our self-oriented passions, we can rejoice in the reconciliation we receive through Jesus, embrace God’s purposes in our motherhood, and smile at the future as we look forward to the future grace that is ours in Christ Jesus. God designed motherhood to highlight his great mercy and point us to who we (and our children) were made for: the eter­nally satisfying risen Christ (John 17:24). The joys of to­day’s motherhood are true joys, but they are like shadowy reflections in a mirror. At the end of every day—chaotic and mundane alike—motherhood is about the adoration and enjoyment of our great God. The seraphim in heaven continually cry out, “And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isa. 6:3). We rejoice in motherhood today, as it is meant to direct us to worship God in every­thing we do as a preamble to the worship we’ll enjoy in heaven forever.

    Even while we go about the exhausting work of moth­erhood that oftentimes feels so futile, we can be about what we’re going to be about forever. In Revelation 5 John sees a vision of the risen Christ, glorified and reigning. In verse 13 John tells us how everyone responds to Jesus: “And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’” Forever in eternity we will be praising the Lord, and even now we can praise him as we know Jesus Christ and him crucified for us.

    The next time something blasé happens, like the laun­dry filling up (again), or discovering what’s left of (another) tissue box your toddler has curiously disemboweled, let your groaning turn into hallelujahs: “Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples. For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” (Ps. 117:1-2). Remind yourself of the truths in God’s Word and be astonished as the Spirit reminds of you of what your faith-eyes have seen.

    I like how Richard Sibbes described faith: “[Faith] is the noblest sight of all. And it is as quick as sight; for faith is that eagle in the cloud. It breaks through all and sees in a moment Christ in heaven; it looks backward and sees Christ upon the cross; it looks forward and sees Christ to come in glory. Faith is so quick a grace that it presents things past, things above and things to come—all in a mo­ment, so quick is this eagle-eye of faith.”[2]

    Allow motherhood to incline your heart to worship, and bless the Lord who fills your hands with blessings. “I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable” (Ps. 145:1-3).

    Praising our great and merciful God is a mother’s anthem—the song she’ll be singing forever and ever.


    [1] Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Sin and Salvation in Christ (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), 455.

    [2] Richard Sibbes, Glorious Freedom (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2000), 91-92.

  2. Some Resources You May Have Missed

    Posted on March 20th, 2014 by Jonathan Lenning

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    In case you missed it, late last year, B&H Publishing Group released two books in their Christ-Centered Exposition commentary series from David Platt. Exalting Jesus in Matthew is taken from Pastor David’s six-month-long sermon series on the Gospel, and in Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, Pastor David provides commentary on 1 Timothy also based on a past sermon series (Tony Merida covers 2 Timothy, and Danny Akin covers Titus).

    Based on sermons, these commentaries don’t read like an academic essays. They are highly accessible and will prove to be a helpful tool for anyone who wants to see Jesus more clearly as they study their Bibles, from individuals to small group leaders to pastors. Here’s a sample:

    The beginning of the end.

    That’s the best way to describe Matthew 21. For 20 chapters we have journeyed with Jesus from Bethlehem to Egypt to Nazareth, throughout Galilee, into Capernaum and Gennesaret, into the Gentile areas of Tyre and Sidon, to Magadan and Caesarea Philippi, and into Jericho and Judea. Now, for the first time in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus enters Jerusalem.

    Matthew 21 records the last week of Jesus’ life. For three years Jesus had preached, taught, and healed, and now, during Passover week, He was entering the holy city. It would be difficult to exaggerate the significance of the events that transpire in the remainder of this Gospel. Over a period of eight days, Jesus entered Jerusalem, cleansed the temple, challenged the religious leaders, instituted the Lord’s Supper, got arrested, was tried, was crucified, and then was raised from the dead. This was the week all of creation had been waiting for. Back in the garden, God had promised the serpent, “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen 3:15). The Son of God ultimately fulfilled that promise, crushing the head of the snake by His death and resurrection. The events of this week, planned before the foundation of the world, were not just climactic for Jesus’ life; this was the climactic week for all of history! (Exalting Jesus in Matthew, p 277)

    If you enjoyed that, then keep your eye on this series from B&H as other volumes will be appearing in the near future. May they serve you well as you proclaim Christ.

  3. Free Ebook: Unreached Peoples, Least Reached Places

    Posted on March 3rd, 2014 by David Burnette

    Unreached Peoples, Least Reached AreasPastor and author J.D. Payne has just released a free ebook titled Unreached Peoples, Least Reached Places.  You might just be shocked to learn about the number of unreached peoples and least reached places right here in America.

    Here’s J.D.’s description of this new resource taken from his own blog, “Missiologically Thinking“:

    It’s brief, about fifty pages. That is intentional.  You can read it quickly.

    The pastors with The Church at Brook Hills are always asking how we can best equip our faith family for the work of the ministry (Eph 4:11-12).  Part of shepherding others to reach the nations requires painting a picture of the realities of lostness.  Therefore, I wrote this short ebook for our people.

    Unreached Peoples, Least Reached Places is written to cast a vision of reality in the United States, and to offer some practical steps to move us along in disciple making and church multiplication.  We know much about lostness in other parts of the world; we know little about it in our backyard.

    One of the convictions that we hold as a faith family is to give away many of our resources for Kingdom advancement.  With this in mind, I am releasing this book to you.  I pray that it will be a blessing to you and your ministry.

    So…

    Download your copy.

    If you do, tell others to get a copy.  Spread the word, far and wide.

    Take it. Give it away.

    Use it for leading your church to the nations in this nation and beyond.

    J. D. serves as the pastor for church multiplication with The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama.  Before moving to Birmingham, he served for ten years with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and as an Associate Professor of Church Planting and Evangelism in the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where he directed the Center for North American Missions and Church Planting.

  4. Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Children & Families

    Posted on December 20th, 2013 by David Burnette

    For those scrambling to find some solid biblical resources to give away to children and families this Christmas, you can take a deep breath. Matt Mason has agreed to help by giving us some gift recommendations.

    Matt is an elder at The Church at Brook Hills and a contributor to TGC’s Worship section. He has taught on family worship and put it into practice in his own home for a number of years. Though he hasn’t listed it below, Matt and the worship team at Brook Hills recently released a CD for children (and adults!) titled “The Great God and His Big Story.” The EP can be found here on iTunes.

     

    Here is Matt’s reply to my request for some gift ideas…

    Matt: This is such a hard question. There is so much help for families seeking to serve and disciple our children. I’ll mention a few musical resources and some books that have been most helpful to us over the years.

    Jesus Wants My Heart, Daniel Renstrom

    Musical Resources
    1. “Jesus Wants My Heart” (Daniel Renstrom). Daniel Renstrom is a dear friend. This project which came out earlier this year is one of my all time favorites. Musically, lyrically. It’s pretty much perfect.

    2. Sovereign Grace Music – Sovereign Grace has produced several kids projects, and all of them are gospel-saturated, covering a wide range of biblical and practical topics from substitutionary atonement to developing a Christian worldview of work.

    3. Trinity Hymnal – For families who have a pianist in the house who can sight read, this hymnal is wonderfully selective. It includes many of the all-time greats.

     

    Book Resources
    Product Details1. Family Worship: In the Bible, in History & in Your Home (Donald Whitney). I brought it with me on a personal retreat several years ago, and God used it to awaken me to the biblical call and the beauty of family worship. I read it through many tears. A short, but potentially life-changing book.

    2. The Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale (Elena Pasquali). Great story and beautiful pictures. The way of God is upside down. He saves not by force of domination but through humility and death.

    3. Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God (Marty Machowski). A one-stop-shop resource. Gives brief Bible reading, brief devotional thought, asks good questions for family discussion. Offers helps for family prayer. Gospel-centered. Incredibly useful.

    4. The Big Picture Story Bible (David Helm). A must have. Good for all ages.

    5. The Jesus Storybook Bible (Sally Lloyd-Jones). A must have. Good for all ages.

    6. Mighty Acts of God (Starr Meade). Excellent. Much like the previous, except that it gives more detail and tells more stories. It’s a good Bible to let your reading-age son/daughter take to bed and begin his/her personal times of reading Scripture.

    7. The Real Story books by Paul Maier:  The Real Story of the Creation; The Real Story of the Flood; The Real Story of the Exodus; The Very First Christmas; The Real Story of Easter; The Very First Christians. Our family has enjoyed the books in this series. Sometimes we’ve read them aloud during family worship as we approach a holiday (Christmas/Easter). Sometimes we’ve read them to individual children at bedtime.

    8. Note to Self (Thorn). Gospel meditations based on the reading of a verse or brief passage of Scripture. Good for older kids. The devotional readings take roughly 5-10 minutes.

    9. Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing (Sally Lloyd-Jones). A must have. Good for all ages. Gospel meditations for the whole family. Sally Lloyd-Jones has a remarkable gift. Her writing is not only clear and biblically sound. It is beautiful.

    10. Dangerous Journey (Hunkin/Bunyan). A must have. An easy to read (and with pictures!) version of Bunyan’s classic, Pilgrim’s Progress. Younger ones will have a hard time comprehending it all and (warning) some pictures are gruesome.

  5. Talking with Matt Mason about a New Children’s Album

    Posted on December 18th, 2013 by David Burnette

    It’s such an encouragement to see more and more children’s resources coming out that are packed with biblical truth.  That’s a good description of the new children’s album put out by Brook Hills Music titled “The Great God and His Big Story.” As you might guess from the title, the songs take children (and adults) through redemptive history to see the beauty of God’s plan of salvation. You can get the EP here.

    Matt Mason leads Brook Hills Music and he serves as an elder at The Church at Brook Hills. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about this new album.

    1. Can you give us an idea of what to expect in this new children’s album?

    Matt: We wanted to write songs that would help our kids grasp the big story of the Bible. The songs move through redemptive history, telling stories and reflecting on truths about Creation, the Fall, The Ten Commandments, Psalm-inspired reflections on the value of God’s Word, Christ coming as Light into darkness, the Beatitudes, Christ as Redeemer, and the joy of participating in the Great Commission. Stylistically, we knew we wanted to steer clear of the extremes of the techno-rave-for-kids, drum-loops-into-forever, drive-parents-crazy approach on the one hand, and the kazoos and slide trombones, everybody-just-make-funny-faces approach on the other. We ended up with a fun and energetic and yet, I believe, musically substantive project.

    2. Who did you have in mind in putting this album together?

    Matt: Parents of young children are the primary target. That’s not to say older kids won’t like the songs. My kids are 15, 12, and 9 and there’s something on this project for each of them. Having said that, we wanted the songs to be welcomed by younger families because it’s never too early to start telling, singing, rehearsing, and (Lord willing) internalizing biblical truth.

    3. You’ve thought a lot about family worship and taught on the subject of shepherding our children. What role do you see music playing as we seek to teach our kids the gospel and what it means to follow Christ?

    Matt: I’m convinced that music is vastly under-utilized for discipleship in Christian homes. When our oldest was about 2 yrs old I started writing songs to help us memorize portions of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. They weren’t for public consumption (read: incredibly cheesy). But they were simple, singable songs packed with time-tested biblical truth, aged in the cellar of church history for about 350 years. He learned those songs. It wasn’t a drill or a chore. It was a joy to sing them together. If you ask him now, 13 years later, “What is justification?” he thinks of the words he started singing when he was a toddler. Given how many times we’ve sung them, he’ll remember that song when he’s 60. More importantly, he and his siblings have a big, sharp sword to contend against legalism, fear, and struggles for assurance. Catechisms aren’t for everyone. The point is that music can be an excellent delivery system for memorizing Scripture and transferring/retaining biblical truth. Then there’s the devotional aspect as well. Singing our faith is not a redundant Christian activity, an add-on for artsy types. It is commanded over 50 times in Scripture. It will be a part of the liturgy of the eschaton. The Psalter, that big giant hymnal in the middle of the Bible, makes a case for the essential place of singing ourselves deeper into joy and trust in God, deeper into fellowship, deeper into the gospel (see also Col 3:16). Our God is a singing God (Zeph 3:17), so it’s part of the imago Dei. There is much more to say here, but we pray that Brook Hills’ families will increasingly sing substantive, biblical, gospel-charged songs and will teach them to their children. Reading, praying, singing as a family – these don’t guarantee spiritual fruitfulness in the home. But as we sing truth to and with our kids, we give the Holy Spirit, if you will, his favorite materials for the constructing of a Christian home and the establishment of missionary outposts for Kingdom service.

    – Thanks, Matt, and thanks to Brook Hills Music for what looks to be a great resource for kids and families. Don’t forget to check out the EP here on iTunes.

  6. True Success

    Posted on December 2nd, 2013 by David Burnette

    Success Starts Here Sign: Freeway styled sign. PSD available.

    “You want to be successful? If you live comfortably, share what you have. If you have a spouse, serve him or her sacrificially. If your home is filled with the clamor and clutter of children, savor the monumental challenge of raising them. If other follow you, point them to Christ. If you are given accolades, receive them humbly. Love and serve the people around you. Walk well through the inevitable sufferings of life. Live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ. This is true success. And really, what more could we possibly want?”

    Embracing Obscurity, Anonymous, 89

  7. How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain

    Posted on October 9th, 2013 by David Burnette

    In his latest post, Al Mohler comments on the book by William Struthers, Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain. Using insights from neuroscience, Struthers gives us some help in understanding why pornography is such a strong temptation for males. However, as Mohler notes, Struthers is clear that these biological findings do not make men any less responsible for their sin.

    You can read Mohler’s entire post here. Here are a few excerpts:

    To no one’s surprise, the vast majority of those who consume pornography are males. It is no trade secret that males are highly stimulated by visual images, whether still or video. That is not a new development, as ancient forms of pornography attest. What is new is all about access. Today’s men and boys are not looking at line pictures drawn on cave walls. They have almost instant access to countless forms of pornography in a myriad of formats.

    The simplest explanation for why men view pornography (or solicit prostitutes) is that they are driven to seek out sexual intimacy,” he explains. The urge for sexual intimacy is God-given and essential to the male, he acknowledges, but it is easily misdirected. Men are tempted to seek “a shortcut to sexual pleasure via pornography,” and now find this shortcut easily accessed.

    In a fallen world, pornography becomes more than a distraction and a distortion of God’s intention for human sexuality. It comes as an addictive poison.

    Struthers explains:

    Viewing pornography is not an emotionally or physiologically neutral experience. It is fundamentally different from looking at black and white photos of the Lincoln Memorial or taking in a color map of the provinces of Canada. Men are reflexively drawn to the content of pornographic material. As such, pornography has wide-reaching effects to energize a man toward intimacy. It is not a neutral stimulus. It draws us in. Porn is vicarious and voyeuristic at its core, but it is also something more. Porn is a whispered promise. It promises more sex, better sex, endless sex, sex on demand, more intense orgasms, experiences of transcendence.

    Mohler closes by talking about our culpability in the sin of pornography, as well as its offensiveness to God:

    “Sinners naturally look for fig leaves to hide sin, and biological causation is often cited as a means of avoiding moral responsibility. Struthers does not allow this, and his view of pornography is both biblical and theologically grounded. He lays responsibility for the sin of viewing pornography at the feet of those who willingly consume explicit images. He knows his audience—after all, his classrooms are filled with young male college students. The addict is responsible for his addiction.

    At the same time, any understanding of how sin works its deceitful evil is a help to us, and understanding how pornography works in the male mind is a powerful knowledge. Pornography is a sin that robs God of his glory in the gift of sex and sexuality. We have long known that sin takes hostages. We now know another dimension of how this particular sin hijacks the male brain. Knowledge, as they say, is power.”

  8. Why I Wrote “Follow Me”

    Posted on July 16th, 2013 by David Burnette

    Pastor David talks about what led him to write Follow Me and why he sees it as more foundational than Radical.

    This conversation is leading up to the free Follow Me simulcast on August 14th. For more information on being a part of the simulcast, go here.

    You can view the previous parts of this conversation by going here.

     

  9. Resources on Caring for the Poor

    Posted on July 10th, 2013 by David Burnette

    The most recent question we asked Pastor David dealt with caring for the poor and how this fits with the church’s mission of making disciples. You can watch that here.

    On this same issue, a number of related resources may be helpful, including Secret Church 8: The Gospel, Possessions, and Prosperity. (The audio, video, and study guide are free, or if you prefer you can purchase a hard copy from our store)

    A number of additional recommended resources on this topic are listed in Secret Church 8, though as always, we encourage you to read with discernment, as not everything in these resources is endorsed:

    Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself

    Craig Blomberg, Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions

    Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions, and Eternity

    Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods

    Tim Keller, Ministries of Mercy

    John MacArthur, Whose Money Is It,  Anyway?

    Ben Witherington, Jesus and Money: A Guide for Times of Financial Crisis

    Gordon Fee, The Disease of the Health and Wealth Gospels

    Wesley Willmer, A Revolution in Generosity

    D.R. McConnell, A Different Gospel (Biblical and Historical Insights into the Word of Faith Movement)

     

    Concerning the first book listed above, When Helping Hurts, Pastor David wrote the following foreword:

    When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself (Updated Editon)

    “So what are we to do? In light of massive need in the world and in view of God’s merciful concern for the poor, how are we to respond in the church? This question forms the foundation for the pages that lie ahead. Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert have undertaken a mammoth task in this book, and I praise God for how they have carried it out.

    They start with the Word of God, which is where we must begin. A book filled with practical thoughts and economic tips would be vain apart from eternal truth. This book is saturated with Scripture as the authors continually ground their assertions in God-breathed authority. They address poverty alleviation through the lens of redemptive history, and in so doing they rightly exalt Christ as the supreme healer of every human heart, whether rich or poor.

    The authors move from God’s Word to God’s people, specifically the local church. Their conviction (which I share) that the local church has a unique role to play in poverty alleviation affects everything they write. In a real sense, they are writing to the church and for the church; they want to see local churches carry out the commands of Christ in ways that are gracious to the poor, good for God’s people, and glorifying to God’s name.

    But this book does not stall in the sphere of the theological and theoretical. It moves wonderfully from timeless truth to contemporary application. As you read, you won’t just learn about problems in the world; you will discover how poverty in the world can actually be addressed. In the process of reading case studies, exploring critical questions, and analyzing current events, you will realize that God has given you—and your church—a unique opportunity to be a part of his global plan to make his great mercy known in your community and among all the nations.

    For all of these reasons (and more), this book is virtually required reading for everyone in our church who is intentionally engaging the poor here and around the world. I cannot recommend it highly enough for anyone who is passionate about spreading and showing the love of Christ to the “least of these.”

    Simply put, I have never read a better book on practically serving the poor, and I pray that God will use this new edition to equip his people to accomplish his purposes in a world of urgent spiritual and physical need for the glory of his great name.”

  10. Religious Legalism or Radical Living?

    Posted on July 1st, 2013 by David Burnette

    Pastor David Platt talks about avoiding legalism as we follow Christ with costly obedience.

    Be sure to check out the previous topics in this series:

    Part 1 - Encouragements and concerns three years after Radical

    Part 2 – The role of the church in following Christ

    Part 3 – How does living radically fit with the normal Christian life?

    Part 4 – What does living radically look like for David Platt?

    Part 5 – What’s the difference between God’s commands and His individual callings?

    This conversation is leading up to the free Follow Me simulcast on August 14th. For more information on being a part of the simulcast, go here.