A Prayer of Trust and Abiding in Christ

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Teach me, Lord, how to abide in You,
to remain in You,
to rest in You.

When so many confusing words,
false words, and harsh words
come into my ears, my mind, my heart—
teach me to remain in Your words,
Your truth, Your commands
like a branch in the vine.

When egotism and self-doubt,
pride and insecurity
lead me to become self-focused—
teach me to refocus,
recenter, realign
myself in You
like a branch in the vine.

When lessons I have already learned
need to be learned again
and breakthroughs I have already had
need to break through in me again—
teach me to kneel, to be still and know,
to listen and see You afresh—
like a branch in the vine.

My life in You
and Your life in me,
resting, remaining,
abiding in You, Lord.

His Suffering Brings Peace

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we began a new preaching series, which also parallels the season of Advent, entitled “‘Tis the Reason.” This first week of the series focuses on Jesus’ first description of His pending suffering in Jerusalem and Peter’s monumental misunderstanding of Jesus’ calling as Messiah as seen in Matthew 16:21-28. Thus begins one of the most dramatic turns in the Gospel of Matthew from Galilee toward Jerusalem, and from Jesus’ Messianic identity being unveiled to His stark mission to suffer and rise again for humanity.

This message is part of the seventh part of our longer series on Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” “Stories of the Kingdom,” and “Who Do You Say I Am?”

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things…and that he must be killed and on the third day raised to life.” (Matthew 16:21)

A Different Sort of Messiah (Matthew 16:21)

“From that time on…”

The suffering Messiah

The resurrected Messiah 

Confusion About the Messiah (Matthew 16:22-23)

Peter’s rebuke

Jesus’ rebuke of Peter’s rebuke

The concerns of God versus the concerns of humanity

A Different Sort of Discipleship (Matthew 16:24-28)

Discipleship is shaped by a Cross
Discipleship loses one’s life in order to find it

Discipleship lives in light of the coming glory of Jesus

A Different Sort of Peace in Jesus

Seeing Jesus as Messiah in His own way

Encountering the Cross of Jesus the Messiah

Living in the Cross of Jesus the Messiah until full glory arrives 

Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize Matthew 16:21 or 16:24
  • Journal, draw, paint, or ink this episode of Jesus’ teaching and His interaction with Peter and the other disciples. As you do this, ask God to help you grow in understanding what He wants to speak to you about your relationship with Christ.
  • Reread the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) in light of Jesus’ description of discipleship here in Matthew 16:24-26. As you read, lay areas of your life down before the Lord, confess sin that God brings to your mind, and invite Jesus to be Lord of your life in new ways.
  • Consider reading further on the topics of this passage with John Stott’s The Cross of Christ or Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship.

Joining the Journey of Advent: ‘Tis the Reason Advent Devotional from Eastbrook Church

How do you prepare for Christmas? Do you put up Christmas lights indoors or outdoors, decorate your apartment or house, cut down a Christmas tree to bring it home, or buy presents for family and friends?  Are there certain traditions you return to each year that help you get in the mindset of what Christmas is all about?

One traditional song begins with these words: “Deck the halls with boughs of holly…’tis the season to be jolly.” ‘Tis the season…the appropriate time for joy and celebration. But we all know how quickly we can lose focus. Caught up in the rush of the season, losing our bearings in Christmas concerts, holiday parties, online or in-person shopping, and so much more, we forget why we are doing it all. 

We’ve all likely heard someone say or read a bumper sticker that said, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” This is so very true, but can feel so very trite. Yes, we celebrate Jesus’ birth as a monumental marker in human history and the centerpiece of God’s salvation story. Jesus is the reason for our season of joy and celebration. But hopefully we know the Gospel story of Jesus’ birth has a depth and richness far greater than cute phraseology or bumper sticker theology. As seekers and disciples, we want to get inside that richness and depth. Like finding a vast and thrilling new territory, we want to step inside and explore the why of Jesus’ incarnation. ‘Tis the reason…the significant meaning behind our joy and celebration.

Advent is the season before Christmas that helps us do just that. Coming from the Latin word adventus (“appearing”), Advent gifts us with four weeks to explore the expanse of the reason for the season. In Advent we look back with wonder at Jesus’ birth roughly 2,000 years ago. We also enter into the history of the chosen people, Israel, whose prophets anticipated Jesus’ birth in the messages. Simultaneously, we stand as the new chosen people, looking forward to Jesus’ future return at the end of human history. 

This year, instead of looking at the typical infancy narratives, our Advent journey will uniquely take us through the middle of the Gospel of Matthew. There, we see Jesus turning toward Jerusalem while offering hints about and glimpses into the reason he has come as Messiah. His suffering will bring peace, His glory will bring joy, His healing will come to those with faith, and His resurrection will bring hope. 

You can join in the Advent journey through a daily devotional from Eastbrook Church as a downloadable PDF, online, or through the Eastbrook app. This devotional can be used individually, in groups, with friends, or with your family as a tool for the Advent exploration of the reason for Jesus’ incarnation. 

So, let me invite you to step into this new and glorious territory, exploring it through the four weeks of Advent. May we have a fresh encounter with Jesus through Advent on our way to the celebration of Christmas.

Eastbrook at Home – November 28, 2021


Join us for worship with Eastbrook Church through Eastbrook at Home at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM. Here is a prayer for the first Sunday of Advent from The Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

This weekend we begin a new series, “‘Tis the Reason,” as I preach from Matthew 16:21-28. Thus begins one of the most dramatic turns in the Gospel of Matthew from Galilee toward Jerusalem, and from Jesus’ Messianic identity being unveiled to His stark mission to suffer and rise again for humanity.

You can access our Advent devotional that accompanies the series as a PDF, online, or through the Eastbrook app.

This series continues our extended journey through the Gospel of Matthew, which includes our previous series “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” “Stories of the Kingdom: parables of Jesus,” and “Who Do You Say I Am?

We also continue in-person services at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 AM this weekend at the Eastbrook Campus, and you no longer need to RSVP ahead of time.

If you are new to Eastbrook, we want to welcome you to worship and would ask you to text EBCnew to 94000 as a first step into community here at Eastbrook.

Each Sunday at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM, you can participate with our weekly worship service at home with your small group, family, or friends. This service will then be available during the week until the next Sunday’s service starts. You can also access the service directly via Vimeo, the Eastbrook app, or Facebook.

If you are not signed up for our church emailing list, please sign up here. Also, please remember that during this time financial support for the church is critical as we continue minister within our congregation and reach out to our neighborhood, city, and the world at this challenging time. Please give online or send in your tithes and offerings to support the ministry of Eastbrook Church.

The Weekend Wanderer: 27 November 2021

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.

gratitude science“Research Roundup: 6 Takeaways on the Goodness of Gratitude” – Stefani McDade in Christianity Today offers a reflection on six scholarly articles related to gratitude. Here’s one: “Da Jiang, Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Psychological Sciencesand Social Sciences, December 2020 – ‘Numerous studies have shown that gratitude can improve the mental health of people facing stressful events. However, most studies in this area have been based on laboratory experiments and retrospective surveys, rather than actual situations in which people are experiencing stress.’ ‘This study attempted to fill these gaps by examining the benefits of feeling gratitude every day during the COVID-19 outbreak. … These findings demonstrate the benefits of gratitude in a naturalistic situation that induced stress and anxiety.'”

Turning Points“The Great Commission’s Greatest Hits” – Jay Riley Case interviews Alice T. Ott at Christianity Today: “When Jesus delivered the Great Commission to a small band of disciples, they might have wondered how they were supposed to carry his gospel to the ends of the earth. Yet across the nations it spread, winning converts and planting churches everywhere it went. Alice T. Ott, a missions and world Christianity professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, surveys the pivotal moments of this journey in Turning Points in the Expansion of Christianity: From Pentecost to the Present. Jay Riley Case, a historian of missions at Malone University, spoke with Ott about the big picture and the smaller details of Christianity’s global advance. Q: What got you interested in the history of the expansion of Christianity? A: My interest is an outgrowth of my own experiences. I have loved history ever since I was a teenager. I spent 21 years of my adult life as a missionary in Germany. After my husband and I returned to the United States, I earned my PhD and started teaching courses on the history of mission and Christianity in the non-Western world. The book grew out of my research for these courses, as well as from my teaching and interacting with students.”

Haiti kidnapping“Two Kidnapped Missionaries Freed in Haiti” – From the Editors of Christianity Today: “Two members of a missionary group kidnapped in Haiti a month ago have finally been freed, leaving 15 Christians still in captivity. ‘The two hostages who were released are safe, in good spirits, and being cared for,’ stated Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) on its website. The Ohio-based group said it ‘cannot provide or confirm the names of those released, the reasons for their release, where they are from, or their current location. We encourage you to continue to pray for the full resolution of this situation,’ stated CAM. ‘While we rejoice at this release, our hearts are with the 15 people who are still being held. Continue to lift up the remaining hostages before the Lord.'”

Austin Kleon - gratitude zine“A gratitude zine: Exercises to help you feel thankful” – Austin Kleon put together this “Gratitude Zine,” which some helpful exercises for gratitude: “‘I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.’—G.K. Chesterton  It’s Thanksgiving week here in Texas, and I wanted to share with y’all another little zineI made that you can download and print out. (If you’re having dinner guests, feel free to print out enough to leave one at everyone’s place setting!) Gratitude is something I have struggled with in the past. In fact, it’s been at times in my life when I should have felt more thankful than ever that I’ve had the hardest time feeling thankful.”

harvest-wheat-farmer-hand“Agricultural Metaphors for the Christian Life” – Matthew Barrett in Tabletalk: “At the center of the Christian faith is a fundamental belief: there is no one like God. He is not the creature but the Creator, the One Isaiah says is high and lifted up (Isa. 6:1). How amazing it is, then, that this God would stoop down and make Himself known to finite and sinful creatures like us. John Calvin loved to say that God is like a nurse who bends low to lisp to a newborn. When we read the Bible, we see this accommodation whenever God uses metaphors to convey His saving message to us in a way that we can understand. These metaphors help us know God and live the Christian life coram Deo, before the face of God. For example, out of the many ways God could have communicated with Israel, He chose agricultural metaphors. Israel was a people whose existence depended on the soil. Israel was liberated from Egypt to enter the land God promised to her father Abraham. Yet notice how this land is described: it is a land flowing with milk and honey (Ex. 3:8). Agriculture was not only a way of life for Israel; it was a sign of God’s covenant blessing. To enjoy the fruit of the land was a sure indication that God had fulfilled His promises to Abraham.”

Myanmar fires“Army Attacks Continue in Myanmar’s Most Christian State” – Grant Peck in APNews: “More than 160 buildings in a town in northwestern Myanmar, including at least two churches, have been destroyed by fires caused by shelling by government troops, local media and activists reported Saturday. The destruction of parts of the town of Thantlang in Chin state appeared to be another escalation in the ongoing struggle between Myanmar’s military-installed government and forces opposed to it. The army seized power in February from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, but has failed to quell the widespread resistance. A government spokesman denied ‘nonsense allegations being reported in the country-destroying media,’ and blamed insurgents for instigating the fighting and setting the fires.”

Music: Jpk. (feat. Young Dre Flaco), “scars”