5 Ways to Prepare for Easter (now)…

Whelp, it looks like Easter will be celebrated a little different than last year. For most of us last Easter was spent with an Easter Sunday service together as a body of believers in the same room, which was a culmination of weeks of spiritual and mental preparation. However, is not our Christ bigger than the Coronavirus? It may be a different Easter, but our preparation for the celebration must be just as meaningful. Here are 5 ways we can prepare for Easter, even if it is in quarantine.

  1. Discipline. We are in a season that is bombarding us with a good reason to be uneasy. As we continue to see the news change every 6 hours, it is hard to stay focused on anything else. However, the season of focusing on the the cross and resurrection is a gift to the church. We have cause to be grateful; the grave is empty. Flipping the switch from the tv and twitter to the the Gospel wont be easy. It will take a determined effort for all of us. Discipline will be needed in order to see the desire of rejoicing in our King. 
  2. Distraction. If you are anything like me you are constantly wonder ing how you can be doing a better job at leading the people in your home to adore God more. When it comes to family worship, this is our time. Forget about past failures of not gathering the family enough for prayers, Scripture reading, and singing. Lead your home to not be distracted, and to focus on Christ. 
  3. Dwell. You may be asking, rather you should be asking the question how…Carve out times now, today, to spend time leading your family and home in just small moments of prayer and Bible reading. Remember to not despise the day of small things (Zechariah 4:10), and do not get discouraged about 10 minutes leading your family in worship. It may not seem like “dwelling” by only spending 10 minutes in worship, but it is better than doing nothing at all. Besides, you are setting the stage for more time in the future, especially if you begin today!
  4. Dream. Spend some time today thinking and dreaming about the week leading up to Easter. What worship music can you be playing in your house, what Bibles or godly devotionals can you order for your children, teenagers, or spouse on Amazon, how can be creative with your prayer time. The times I get discouraged about how I am not really leading my family in worship is mostly due to the fact that I do not sit down to dream and put together a plan. I usually give myself to discouragement and just throw something together. Do not do that. Dream about what this Easter season could be for your home and execute. 
  5. Dedicate. You are not alone. As the church of Jesus Christ, all of us are trying to navigate these times of uncertainty. However, all of us can dedicate our homes to being beautiful sanctuaries for Christ in these next few weeks. The kids may be driving you nuts, you might have watched every Netflix show possible, but spend some time walking through the house praying in each room that the Spirit of God would help you make your home a place to celebrate the Gospel during Easter week. He is worthy no matter the circumstance, and we are free in Christ regardless of outside circumstances. No grave could hold Him, and no season of uncertainty should hold back our adoration. 

Top 5 Favorite Books Of 2013

More than writing, more than speaking, I love to read and take in. Here is my favorite reads of 2013 that were both encouraging and helpful. If you have not read these you should…

1) The Treasury Of David by Charles Spurgeon

This commentary on the Psalms is by far the richest and deepest language that I believe David would have approved of. Spurgeon pours out his pen to communicate how David truly was a man after God’s own heart. A must read for anyone who loves the Psalms.

2) Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp

I would say that Paul Tripp is the best counselor for anyone in ministry today. Tripp is gut wrenching honest and very to the point. Some pages I read with pain in my heart, and tears in my eyes. A very humbling and convicting read. If you are in any type of ministry this is not an easy read but it is like going into surgery. It is the healthy option.

3) A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

I read this over Christmas break, and I continue to be fascinated by the mind of C.S. Lewis like everyone else. After the death of his wife, Lewis writes a very honest response of all of his feelings and thoughts. Just like the heart and mind of a true mourner, Lewis sometimes is all over the place, but confesses that his true dock in a crazy storm out to sea is always Christ.

4) Am I called by Dave Harvey

Another great read for anyone in or thinking about going into ministry. I went through this book with some college guys and I believe it to be short and to the point about how God calls anyone into ministry.

5) Rescuing Ambition by Dave Harvey

I grew up thinking that ambition was something to avoid because it never came from a humble heart. I went over to the extreme side of humbleness and realized that not being ambitious with what God has already called you to and has said Himself is not humbleness at all. This is a great book for boys needing to be men, needing to lead the Church under the authority of Christ and get to work!

Notables…

*Romans – A Commentary by R.C. Sproul. It took me 2 years to finish but it was easy to read and very helpful. Sproul is a fantastic writer!

*Bonhoeffer – by Eric Metaxas. Obviously a great book about a great man of God. I am finding out new and insightful things about Bonhoeffer that I never knew before. Biographies are helpful to us Christians because they tell the story of brothers and sisters in Christ who have already finished their race, and encourages us how to run our own!

2014:

I am planning to read or currently reading: A year with C.S. Lewis, Suffering by Tim Keller, God’s Passion For His Glory by John Piper, and Pastor As Scholar by Piper and D.A. Carson.

 

 

3 Things Every Minister Cannot Forget During Christmas

For some of us, December is the month where you feel like you have reached the point in the year where you can catch your breath and relax. For others, you just laughed out loud at the previous thought as you figure out how to survive the next few weeks and just keep everyone around you happy. For those that are Ministers of the Gospel, Christmas is a season to not just survive, but also by God’s grace thrive in for the Gospel. The simply truth is, sometimes we can forget who is around us, and what opportunities are present that may not be any other time of the year. Most of the time in ministry for the kingdom knowledge is not the problem, remembering is. Here are 3 things we as ministers need to remember for this wonderful season of opportunity.

 

 

 1.     Keep Preaching the Gospel

 

 Yes, this is another point on preaching the Gospel, which we cannot lack passion for especially this time of year. The difference however maybe in the environments we find ourselves in where the Gospel needs to be preached again. The multiple services we have honoring Christ incarnation will likely be filled with the same people plus the possibility of relatives that like to skip the church scene any chance they get. However, the Holidays are the time where guests and family members both are more likely to come to church, even if this is the once time of the year they do it. This we know, but this we must remember.

 

 Preaching the Gospel from the pulpit is maybe too obvious (hopefully), but how about your home? Not only does the church sanctuary see new people, but also more than likely you see members in your family this time of year, that you hardly see during the rest of the year. You will see adults, and children that have experienced a variety of moments, both good and bad this year, make sure they hear in some way the good news of Christ.

 

 What about your own children, and your spouse? They too need us to be pointing us to the glory of Christ incarnate come to be Christ crucified, Christ resurrected, and Christ ascended for our joy and His glory. As you decorate the tree tell them about Luther, and how he was coming home on Christmas Eve and saw a fir tree with snow glistening in the moonlight, and brought it home to show it to the family of how it reminded him of God’s majesty. Ask them what they are thankful for this year, and how God has proven faithful in their lives. Sing together as a family, and rejoice that we dwell on this side of the cross. This we know, but this we must remember.

 

 2.     Remember the Hurting

 

Last Christmas was the hardest for our family as we experienced the most favorite time of the year without my dad. It was difficult, awkward, and bittersweet. Pastor, please do not forget the people that have no logical explanation for why God has allowed such painful moments in the year to be present in their lives. They hang by a thread, and need to continue to hear the joy of the all powerful and all faithful King who has not lost control of the universe. Their ears and eyes are wide open, hungry for truth, give it to them. Feed God’s sheep.

 

 3.     For your own soul; read, reflect, and rest.

 

 You will never have to save Christmas, so find time to rest and relax. Plan ahead for down time so that you can relax and recharge. Sleep in for once! Spend time with your family and make sure you are worshiping Christ in this beautiful season too. Be a kid with your kids during Christmas, have fun and give them your full attention. Do not just tell them they are the most important people you are discipling, show them.

 

 Pick up a book to read over the Holidays that you have been wanting to read for some time that you know will fill your soul, and do not feel guilty about it. Open up the Scriptures without any time restraints, and without a sermon outline to fill in. Dwell in the Word of God and take your time. Lastly, reflect on the past year. What are you personally thankful for? Are your actions lining up with your vision and the Gospel? How is your marriage and your relationship with your kids? Remember these things and determine to make this Christmas the best for you and those around you.