Archive for the ‘Featured Resource’ Category
Posted on March 3rd, 2014 by David Burnette
Pastor 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.
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.
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.
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.
1. 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.
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.
Posted on December 2nd, 2013 by David Burnette
“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
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.
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.”
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.
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:
“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.”
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.
Posted on June 13th, 2013 by David Burnette
Is it a struggle for you to read and understand the Old Testament? You can be honest. Many of us say that the Old Testament is important because it’s in God’s Word, which is obviously true, but in reality we’re not very motivated to read it.
If that’s you, then consider going through the Survey of the Old Testament from Secret Church 1. Pastor David Platt gives an overview of every book in the Old Testament, as well as principles for how to interpret this sometimes intimidating portion of Scripture. Below you’ll find a excerpt taken from the opening section of this study.
Have you bought into one of these myths about the Old Testament?
- The Old Testament is insignificant. Many times we think this is just background material for the New Testament. Why would we want to pay attention to the first half of the game if we already know the result of the second half of the game? Why would we want to sit in the stands with a blocked view when you can already see on the field what unfolds in the New Testament? It is really not that significant for us in the 21st Century.
- The Old Testament is irrelevant. It contains a lot of things we don’t observe, things which don’t seem to relate to our lives anymore. There are a lot of people, even in Christianity, who say that the Old Testament is more for Israel and not for us. Let’s be honest, what relevance does an ancient animal-slaughtering religion that talks about God in a portable tent have for Christianity in the 21st Century? What does that really have to do with us? Have you ever read a passage in the Old Testament and just thought, “Why, Lord, did you decide to include that?”
- The Old Testament is inconsistent. It doesn’t make sense in light of the New Testament. This is where a lot of people disconnect the Old Testament from Christianity as a whole. They look at the Old Testament as a Jewish book. There are cults that use the Old Testament as well, such as Mormons. Even Muslims use parts of the Old Testament as part of their Scripture. The most commonly asked question is, “Why would the God of grace, love, mercy and compassion we see unfold in the New Testament, pour out judgment, wrath and punishment of sin in the Old Testament?” How do they go together? How do you explain the judgment that we see in the Old Testament, where entire nations are wiped out? How do you justify that with the God of love and grace and mercy? It seems inconsistent.
- The Old Testament is incomprehensible. What we basically think is that it is too cumbersome, or it is confusing and doesn’t make sense. It often leads us to boredom, apathy and neglect. It is just plain hard to understand. The books are large. They are filled with all kinds of history that many of us don’t know, as well as unpronounceable names that we never could begin to talk about. How do you really begin to understand this? It is overwhelming. It is long. It is tedious. We are a lot more familiar with the Gospels where we see Jesus. As a result, we use the Old Testament every once in a while in our quiet times, but the bulk of our faith is dependent on the New Testament. The Old Testament just doesn’t make sense.
The Central Message
Well, these are myths I hope will be dispelled by one central message: The Old Testament is invaluable. If we abandon the books of the Old Testament, then we abandon the revelation of God. More than that, we hinder our ability to understand the New Testament’s revelation of God. If we abandon the Old Testament, we will never get the picture that the New Testament is trying to teach us. The key to the New Testament is the Old Testament. There are at least 1600 direct quotations of the Old Testament in the New Testament, in addition to all kinds of allusions and references to it. If we don’t get what the Old Testament teaches, we will never get Christ. It is important for us to remember that the Lord of the universe who gave us this book does not waste words. He gave us this entire book for a reason. It doesn’t mean that it is not confusing or tedious or doesn’t make sense. I will go ahead and be honest; I am not going to be able to answer all the questions that come up in the Old Testament. My desire is for us to see an overall picture of what God is doing and why the Old Testament is so important.
Visit our Resource Library where you can find this and other Secret Church material. The audio and video downloads are free, as is the Study Guide that accompanies the teaching. You also have the option of purchasing DVD’s and hard copies of Study Guides through our online store.
Posted on June 11th, 2013 by David Burnette
A short excerpt from Gloria Furman’s new book, Glimpses of Grace, concerning God’s rule in the mundane aspects of being a mom and a homemaker:
“I believed that if I could just get through this awful and seemingly interminable season, then I would come out on the other side bruised and worn down; but at least it would be over. Perhaps then I would be free to serve the Lord with gladness, and I would be content.
But I was wrong.
When I attended a marriage conference taught by Paul Tripp, he said something that devastated me. Tripp said, “If God doesn’t rule your mundane, then he doesn’t rule you. Because that’s where you live.” Dramatic, life-altering moments come only a few times during our lifetime – that’s why they’re dramatic. The rest of our lives are lived in the common, ordinary mundane.
Home managing is my ordinary. Regardless of what your normal is, I’m sure we can agree that that’s where we live.” (26-27)
To read my interview with Gloria Furman about the book, go here.
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