New Year's resolutions are upon us. Goal setting can be a good thing, and perhaps one goal you need to have in 2016 is to be less busy. Here's one thought that may help fuel your motivation.
Jesus was a busy man. He was in high demand. Crowds flocked to Him. Everybody wanted a piece of Him. He knew what it was like to be busy. How did He handle it?
"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: 'Everyone is looking for you!'
Jesus replied, 'Let us go somewhere else...'" (Mark 1:35-38)
Jesus, God in the flesh, the 2nd person of the Trinity didn’t do it all. By not healing everyone, by not ministering to everyone, did Jesus disappoint anybody? Imagine living in the 1st century. You’re blind. You hear this guy, Jesus, is healing people left and right. You travel a full day on foot to go see him. You’re in a long line with others who have physical and emotional problems waiting to have Jesus heal you. Just as you’re about to get to Jesus, he decides to leave and go to another town to preach or to get away with his disciples, or get away by himself to pray. How disappointing is that for you? Here’s the kicker, Jesus disappointed people and he never sinned by doing so.
Please note: Jesus didn’t say ‘no’ to healing more people so he could go watch the game at Buffalo Wild Wings. He said ‘no’ to one good thing in order to spend time doing another good thing. He said ‘no’ to healing more people so he could spend time in prayer. Jesus shows us it’s possible to disappoint people and still be holy in doing so. Did you hear that? It’s possible to disappoint people and still be holy in doing so. Just because you’ve disappointed someone by saying ‘no’ or not meeting their expectations, doesn’t mean you’ve sinned. Jesus disappointed people. Maybe you need to as well.
And to help you further understand this concept, this week I will be giving away two copies of the book, Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung. To enter, simply sign in to the Rafflecopter giveaway below and enter either by following me on Twitter, on Instagram, or on both! Winners will be chosen and notified by email. At this time, I do ask that only those living within the 48 contiguous United States enter the giveaway. Thank you for understanding.
We are living in the golden age of Christian publication. I am grateful to God for that! Here are my favorite reads of 2015.
10. Christ and Culture Revisited - D.A. Carson
To what degree is the church called to change the culture? What expectations should we have? Should we expect the church to have such an influence in the culture that the United States becomes a new "Israel"? Or should the church, more or less, keep to itself? This has been a conversation among Christians for centuries. While not an easy read, this book by Dr. Don Carson offers a balanced approach that, I believe, reflects accurately the Bible's posture on the issue.
9. Formed for the Glory of God - Kyle Strobel
Jonathan Edwards has influenced my preaching, theology, and approach to ministry. This book documents Edwards' own spiritual practices and is chalked full of helpful illustrations and analogies in a very readable manner.
8. Ordinary - Michael Horton
We are in love with the spectacular! "Going viral" is the new ideal. This bleeds into church ministry. We can slowly drift into this thought that says: "church is about wowing people" or "doing something BIG for God!" Horton's reminder that the Bible's message is ultimately about walking faithfully with God and loving people was convicting and quieted my heart. The Christian life is not about being spectacular. It's about being faithful through the ordinary.
7. The Pastor as Public Theologian - Owen Strachen & Kevin Vanhoozer
Pastor vs. Theologian. This is a dichotomy that never existed throughout most of church history. Many believe the pastor is supposed to be the CEO of the church. The Bible doesn't see it that way - neither have the majority of Christians throughout Christianity's history. The majority view is that the pastor is supposed to be the church's resident theologian.
6. Prodigal Church - Jared Wilson
This book is a cousin to Horton's book, Ordinary. Wilson's book examines the unintended consequences of "seeker-driven" church. If the church's primary mission is to draw a crowd, many have succeeded. If the church's primary mission is to make disciples, many churches have fallen short. This book draws our attention back to the fact that a church is supposed to teach believers to obey everything Jesus commanded, not just draw a crowd.
5. Rescuing Ambition - Dave Harvey
Many of us are ambitious. But why? What motivates our ambition? Harvey pulls the cover off our ambitions exposing how selfish and self-glorifying they can be and how they can be sanctified and leveraged in service of God and love for others.
4. The Gospel - Ray Ortlund Jr.
Ray is a wise, gentle, and peaceful pastor. I have much to learn from him. This book is about two things: gospel-centered doctrine and gospel-centered community. If a church has both, that church is powerful. The takeaways are plentiful, but the big one for me was: gospel + safety + time.
3. The Things of Earth - Joe Rigney
I'm supposed to set my heart and mind on things above, but I love golf, books, and Thai Curry. Christians have felt a tension of loving God with heart, soul, mind, and strength while still longing to enjoy the things of earth. How do we live in that tension? Read Rigney!
2. Becoming Worldly Saints - Michael Wittmer
Did I mention Christians know they're supposed to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength, but also enjoy food, sports, and trips to the Grand Canyon and Disney? How do we do both? In addition to reading Rigney, read this one!
1. What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? - Kevin DeYoung
Gay marriage is legal, now what? My first concern is not what chief justices or bureaucrats believe about it. My first concern is what Christians believe about it. Many within Christianity are attempting to harmonize following Jesus with the goodness of homosexuality. DeYoung's book is masterful at not only presenting the clear teaching of Scripture, but also responding to the common objections raised by those who affirm same-sex relationships.
We can all learn so much from these writers to help us grow in our spiritual walk. I love the opportunity to share these revelations with others, so to end 2015 I am giving away 25 copies of my #1 book of 2015, Kevin DeYoung's What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? To win one of these books, all you have to do is look to the sidebar on the right-hand side of this blog post and search out the area at the top that says, "Subscribe to BrianDainsberg." The next 25 people to fill out their email address and subscribe to my blog will receive their very own copy of this book.