GospelCenteredAdventGuide

Gospel Centered Advent Guide & Website

I love the holiday season! Every year I look forward to spending time with family and friends, and eating lots of delicious food that normally only shows up once a year. This is also a season in which our culture will try to lure our attention to focus only on material things and whatever the “Christmas spirit” is. My wife and I have thought about, prayed about, and wrestled through (for years), how to keep our and our children’s focus on Christ through this season. Celebrating Advent has been one very helpful way for us to do that.

We did it the traditional way for a few years, but it always felt a little weird to me that the guides we used would spend an entire month focusing only on Christ’s birth, never really delving into the reasons for His birth, nor the implications of His work. So, every year, I would search and research different Advent guides trying to find the one that best fit our family’s beliefs and needs.

A couple of years ago I found a guide that focused on the entire gospel story, which is exactly what I wanted. Since then I have modified it and added to it each year to fit my family’s needs and help our children understand that all of life is about Jesus-all of His life and work, not just His birth. What I ended up with is our Gospel Centered Advent Guide that my family uses every year. From year to year we may do some different activities, but our devotional format remains the same.

I wanted to find a helpful, creative way to share this resource with other people who are looking for a gospel centered approach to leading their family through the holiday season. Since building websites is a hobby of mine, I thought building a website/mobile app would be a fun way to share it. You can use the website from your home computer, laptop, tablet, or smart phone. I also have a link on the website for a PDF download if you want. As I say in the guide, it is only a guide (collection of suggestions). Please feel free to use it, change it, download it, or share it however you feel best fits your family. I enjoyed creating it, I pray you enjoy using it and that it is beneficial to your family’s spiritual growth as you focus on the Lord Jesus Christ, His birth, and works for us this season. God bless!

Gospel Centered Advent Website & Mobile App

DecisionMaking

Umm… Go That Way: Practical Advice On Decision Making

What should I do? What job should I take? Where should I serve? What is God’s will? How do I know for sure? Questions we have probably all asked ourselves or others. So, what’s the answer? How do we know/find God’s will?

Like so many other Christians, I desperately want my life and the decisions I make to please God. I want to serve Him in every area of my life, advancing His Kingdom. I want His will in my life. Couple this with a bit of sinful perfectionism, add a dash of the fear of man and you have the perfect storm of depression and anxiety… Or at least I do.

For years I have wrestled with decisions of direction and purpose. “What’s my calling?” I was burdened down with “trying to find God’s will for my life,” and being “led by the Spirit,” or “letting peace be my guide.” Don’t misunderstand me, the Holy Spirit does lead and direct us, I just think I was looking for some hyper-spiritual “confirmation” or goosebumps. The Spirit seems to use more natural means of guidance and direction more times than not (revealing Himself in His Word, providing wise counsel, situations changing, etc.).

Throughout my walk with Christ I have been helped in this area by a number of people, pastors, and authors. I want to share some advice that has helped me make decisions, having peace, not anxiety. This is still easier said than done for me, but I’m growing.

The three points below are ones that I heard just recently, but I think are very helpful in deciding what to do with your life. The statements are from a radio show called “Stand To Reason.” Its host, Greg Koukl, is a wise, godly defender of the Christian Faith and God’s Word. The broadcast episode aired on Nov. 26th, 2013. He is dealing mainly with ministry here, but the advice is good for lots of decisions we have to make. Here is a summary of some advice he was giving to a college graduate looking for direction.

Get Rid of the Hyper-Spiritual Static

  • Get rid of the conflicting thoughts, ideas, or “hints” for what God wants us to do. There are no clues. No hints. You take responsibility for deciding wisely.
  • He has left decision making up to us and provided us with the faculties, abilities, and tools we need to do it (Bible, prayer, counsel, experience, etc.).
  • We are not trying to find God’s will. We are trying to make a sound, biblical decision. We decide.
  • He’s not going to make our decision for us. The Bible doesn’t teach this, nor did the disciples practice it.

Be a Steward of Your Gift

  • Use what you have. Play your part well.
  • There are many different gifts (body parts), one Body!
  • Do what you can. Start there by making yourself available. Other Christians will give you feedback on what you are doing well.
  • Be a student of your craft! Grow in your gifts. Don’t remain stagnant in your natural abilities. How can you write, speak, teach, serve, witness, whatever, more effectively for the glory of God?
  • Get feedback. Get training. Read books. Learn.

Bloom Where You’re Planted

  • You can’t always make things happen.
  • Take advantage of every opportunity you have to serve where you currently are-whatever and wherever that may be.
  • “Those who are faithful over small things will be given much.”

Always remember: the gifts, talents, abilities, areas to serve, capacity to serve, etc. are all up to Him! We are to be faithful.

More Helpful Resources

Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will” by Kevin Deyoung (book)

Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work” by Tim Keller (book)

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life” by Os Guinness (book)

Spirituality On Your Mind” by Voddie Baucham (audio)

TheGospelAtWork.com (website)

The Center for Faith and Work (website)

Biblical Masculinity - Biblical Manhood

What Is Biblical Masculinity?

I’d like to take the next few posts and look at what the Bible calls us to be and do as Christian men. What do these Passages mean? What is meant by the terms biblical manhood or biblical masculinity? What does this look like in each of our lives since we are all different and have different wives and children? What does this look like in our specific time and culture?

Some of what we will cover will be doctrinal or theological (what we should believe) in nature, but a lot of it will be very practical (what we should be doing).

This series of posts will be a very brief fly-over of this topic. There is so much more that could be said and has been said elsewhere in many great books and sermons – most of which you can find in the “Recommended Reading” list or “Audio Messages”. I don’t ever want to give the impression that our responsibilities as men involve ONLY our homes. We are Christians. This means the gospel impacts our entire lives. We do not focus on our homes to the neglect of everything else God calls us to in light of the gospel. Our goal is not just to be a better husband or dad, but to grow in Christ-likeness. As we do this (by His grace and the power of the Spirit) our familes will most definitely benefit!

Having said that, this series will cover four areas of life as a Christian man.

  • Post 1 – What is masculinity? – What it is, what it is not, and attacks on true masculinity.
  • Post 2 – Biblically masculine husbands. – Leading your wife, responsibilities of headship.
  • Posts 3 & 4 – Biblically masculine fathers. – Leading/teaching your kids about Christ, responsibilities of being a disciple maker in your home.

WHAT IS MASCULINITY?

Masculinity is not simply maleness. Just because you have male parts doesn’t make you masculine. Read more

pragmatism

Rest in Christ!

I love how in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5:1 – 7:29) Jesus gives us the Beatitudes first! Christ gives us the promises of God saying you and I, as Christians, ARE blessed before He gets into telling us how we should respond in faith to these promises. We are not blessed because of anything we did or can do. The Beatitudes are not things we are to strive for in order to obtain the blessings. They are not a “todo list” we are to check off each day. They are promises in Christ to us as believers.

We have such a tendency to look at the Sermon on the Mount and turn the entire sermon into a list of do’s and don’ts.  For example: “If I’m really meek I will inherit the earth” or “If I mourn I will be comforted”, etc. We place thoughts like these right along side “I need to try and be salt and light.” This only proves that we love the law. We run back to it every chance we get. We love the imperatives (commands) more than we love the indicatives (statements of fact). This is one reason we have such a hard time, in our Western culture, resting in Christ. We even take His statements and promise of blessing, that he accomplished for us, and turn them into things we must do or strive to earn! Jesus says: “You ARE blessed” and “You ARE salt and light” because of Him. Read more

The-Last-Supper-Da-Vinci-1495-98

The Atoning Work of Christ

Being the beginning of Holy Week, I wanted to take a look at Christ’s death on the cross, or His atoning work. These are notes from my latest Sunday School lesson, so they’ll be in more of a bullet point format. It begins with His words at the Last Supper (Mt. 26:26-69).

Atonement

What is it?

  • The work of Christ in His perfect life and death on the cross to earn our salvation.
  • Not just that He died for our forgiveness – that would have only made us morally neutral.
  • But also He lived a life of perfect obedience to the Father in all righteousness (Mt. 3:15) so that we could become the righteousness of God in Christ (Phil. 3:9, 1 Cor. 1:30).

What were the causes of the Atonement?

  • The love of God (John 3:16, Rom. 5:8).
  • The justice of God (Rom. 6:23, Gen. 2:17, Rom. 3:23).
  • In our culture, especially in my generation and younger, we tend to place so much emphasis on the love of God that we forget that He hates sin so much that He sent God the Son – perfect, spotless, sinless, blameless, holy, who enjoyed perfect communion with the Father and Spirit for all eternity – to die on a bloody cross taking the full force of the Father’s anger, wrath, and hatred.
Discipline_Of_Family_Worship1

Family Worship Is A Discipline

Anyone who thinks family worship is not a discipline has either not tried to be consistent with it for any length of time or they have never tried it and are merely romanticizing it. It is a discipline. It is hard at times. It can frustrate you to no end. There may be times you half-way consider bringing physical harm to one of your little disciples. 😉

Having said all of that, none of these are good excuses to not have consistent times of family worship. By the way, not every time will be difficult. Though “family worship times” are not commanded in Scripture, this is a discipline that has proven beneficial for children and parents for thousands of years. I can tell you from experience and from listening to older dads who raised children having family worship that there is no better way to raise your children in the fear and instruction of the Lord (which is commanded).

Read more

Family-Leadership

What Family Leadership Looks Like In My Home

In speaking to many men over the past few years I keep hearing a recurring theme. Guy after guy says something to the effect of, “I know I should be leading my home, I just don’t know what to do or where to start.” I give them a few ideas, share parts of my story and then wrap it up with “Just start doing something.”

So I decided I would pull back the curtain and let people know what it looks like in my home for me to lead out spiritually. This is in no way meant to be braggadocious on me or my wife. All credit and glory belongs to God alone. I wish I had time to tell of the immeasurable healing and restoration that He has brought into my family! Nor is this me trying to tell other men exactly how they should lead in their homes. Every home is unique and as such will operate a bit differently.

I’m merely trying to call attention to the fact that as men, we are the pastors of our families! This is our calling in life. It is our job to pass on our faith, teaching them who God is. We ARE leading our families whether we know it or not. The question is: Where and to whom are we leading them?

In this post I will focus on what family leadership looks like in regard to my children. I’ll deal with leading our wives in another post.

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