Guest Post – Why Should You Join a Small Group?

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Why are small groups important? In Hebrews 10:19-25 we are told to not forsake meeting together to exhort one another. Verses 24-25 specifically say, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (ESV) If all you do is go to church on Sunday and sit in a service you are not fully doing what we are being told to do here. How can you stir someone up to love and good works that you are not spending time with? The answer is you can’t.

I am a part of a group of men who meet together regularly to invest into each others lives. We are not just gathering together as a social club but we come together around the Word of God.

Once you can become part of something like this it changes you and the way you live your life. You realize that you can no longer live a Lone Ranger lifestyle. As a group we have put on a bass fishing benefit for the family of the young boy who had a heart defect. This is how you stir one another up to good works. You do not live that out sitting in a pew just one day a week. It also allows us to come together for the renewing of our minds. (Romans 12:1-2.) It is hard to offer encouragement to people that you don’t know in an intimate way because you don’t know where they are hurting or struggling. It takes getting involved in the lives of others to know how to minister to them.

I highly recommend that you get involved in a small group, one where you do not have the distractions of children, especially with the same sex because it allows you to have an openness that you may night have otherwise. You should also try to find a group that has a variety of ages so you can glean knowledge from those who have been where you are. Even if it’s not exactly the same situation, they usually have something for you to learn from and can relate to your challenges.

Just imagine how much your life could change if you had a team of people to lean on and learn from. The richness of having a shoulder to turn to when you need to be able to get something off of your chest. A group of prayer warriors to lift up your request at the touch of a button. These are just a few of the benefits of having a group like this to turn to. It will also help you to grow in areas of your life that you never stop to take a look at. So if you have never thought about joining a small group I hope that this post has encouraged you to do so.

What else would you suggest for those looking to join a small group? Share with us in the comments below!

paul horne, guest blogPaul Horne has been married to wife Lory for over seven years, and they have two sons. They reside in Suffolk, VA, and are a part of a local church plant. Horne is currently a full-time seminary student (LBTS), pursuing an M.Div. in Pastoral Ministries. He has a heart for men’s ministry, particularly small groups. You can read more of his blog here.

Guest Post – Discover Treasures in Greek & Hebrew Without Prior Training

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When I study a passage to preach or teach one step always involves language study. This should always follow two of the first steps in inductive Bible study after prayer. Go over the passage in a few different ways including:

  • Read the text in context of the whole book of the Bible if possible, or in a section like the passage’s chapter and chapters before or after it.
  • Compare various translations using a tool like the Parallel Bible tool in WORDsearch, accessible from the toolbar button.
  • Write down observations of what you already know about the passage. Then ask the investigative questions which begin with “who, what, where, when, why, and how.” Record these in textual notes, or even better, a WORDsearch word processor document (open with CTRL+N or use FILE and NEW from the menu).

Now we’re ready for our word studies. To do this, I open the ESV, NASB, NKJV, or KJV. I also open an Interlinear, like the HCSB Reverse Interlinear, which displays the text of the HCSB above Greek or Hebrew grammar information. Here’s the list of the information included:

  • Word Order – the small superscript number shows what word order that word is in in the original text
  • English Transliteration – spells out the Greek word using corresponding English letters
  • Parsing Codes – letters that represent grammatical information like N for Noun or D for Dative with links to open a window that explains the meaning of the parts of speech when the user clicks the links in the resulting window
  • Strong’s Number – clickable link that opens Strong’s Concordance/Greek and Hebrew Dictionary
  • Pronunciation Button – plays an audio file with the pronunciation of the word

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Here’s how to use this information. Click on the parsing codes to open a window with a list of the word’s parsing codes defined. Right-click each part of speech and click on the “define” item in the right-click menu. This opens a window explaining the part of speech and what it means for interpretation. Over time, you will begin to learn the meanings of the cases, tenses and moods in Greek and won’t need to look them up.

To get back to the text of the HCSB Reverse Interlinear, double-click on the second to last toolbar button in that window.

Using the Strong’s numbers, we can get access to advanced language study information without knowing Greek or Hebrew. Once the Strong’s number opens to that entry in the default Strong’s dictionary, open some original language dictionaries or lexicons. For example, I open Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon when I doing New Testament study. I also open The Complete Word Study Dictionary. By default, when these dictionaries are open alongside Strong’s, they will sync to one another. Clicking the Strong’s number in the HCSB Reverse Interlinear opens Strong’s to that word and it moves the other two dictionaries to the word entry as well. Now I can read the Strong’s and get a little information about our word from above, Sophia. I can also see what BDAT and CWS tells us. They offer more complete information.

I’d also recommend doing a Strong’s search to find the word in other passages to see how that word gets used elsewhere. This helps in understanding the complex meaning of Greek and Hebrew words. Be careful, however, to not make a word mean something it doesn’t mean.

There’s a lot more to comprehensive original language study, but for a quick-hit study, these steps help in a pinch. People not familiar with Greek or Hebrew grammar can get a surface understanding of the original text behind our English translations, which will help them better understand God’s word.

Kevin Purcell has been preaching for over 20 years and has served as a pastor for 15 years. He is currently the pastor of High Peak Baptist Church in Valdese, NC. He is married to Barb, a teacher, and they have two sons. 

How often do you do word studies in WORDsearch? Share with us in the comments below!

Guest Post – Wait Not

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Please note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Have you noticed how the art of handwritten letter writing is increasingly fading? Our once, “hi how are ya”, or “thinking of you”, followed by a more lengthy note of encouragement, has been replaced with a quick text of “how r u ttm” (how are you, talk to me).

Our words of encouragement to others hold TONS of weight. To see it in writing that you are loved, appreciated, and supported is priceless. I strongly believe encouragement is universally lacking.

I have begun an intense study of the book of Philippians. I started by looking at Philippi, then Paul, the author. Paul wrote this letter while in prison in Rome. This, his most personal of all letters to a church, has a main directive to thank them for their love and support.

So basically the letter is a huge “thank you” note. Yet, he doesn’t stop there, he continues. Here’s a bit of encouragement, “I thank my God when I think of you … I have you in my heart …. stand fast…be of the same mind… rejoice in the Lord always… don’t be anxious … but by prayer… be thankful … let your request be made known…and the peace of God…shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus … think on these things …”  And he wraps it up with “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit…” THAT is some high five-ing, loving encouragement!

We need to pause for a brief moment to remember that Paul wrote this while in CHAINS in prison. He could have, in his humanity, turned the letter into a huge “whine.” He could have withheld the encouragement until the conditions were better. MANY excuses could have surfaced. He could have waited until he walked free in the streets, felt the warmth of rubbing shoulders with others, breathed in fresh air. But he didn’t. He spoke from his captivity. He had faith, he reached for his God, and shared that experience with others.

What an example to us all, that we not “WAIT.” Wait, until we have it all together. Wait until we think the conditions are just right. We should reach out to someone else EVEN in our own pain, our own struggle. Sure, some of us are thinking, “But he was PAUL, the guy had a direct blinding link to Jesus!” Yes, yes he did. But so do we. We have the same Lord, the same Spirit dwelling in us.

Our words, whether they be verbal, written, texted, tweeted, or posted should reach out. May we hug with our words. Remember a time when someone reached out to you? You felt the warmth, the love, the lift? The image of the old adage, “Measure twice and cut once,” comes to mind. May we seek the accuracy of the fit. The fit of our words.

Don’t wait … someone out there needs YOU. The hurting, the lonely, the confused. Embrace them. They need your words of encouragement. They can’t wait for you to get it all together. They need US, now!

How are you encouraging those in your life? Share with us in the comments below!

Pic of DeDe MoravikDeDe Southwick, is the mother of two wonderful sons and lives outside of Portland, Oregon. She has a degree in Theology, leads women’s bible studies, and has served on the leadership team of her local church. She loves studying God’s Word, gardening, and making her sons laugh. You can read her blog here.

Guest Post – Keep Calm and Carry On

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Please note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Perhaps you have seen a t-shirt, phone cover, mug, book cover, notebook, journal, or a host of other products with the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On” printed on it recently. Instead of saying “carry on,” you may have seen something else inscribed, such as “Stay Calm and Carry Insulin” for diabetics.

The original phrase has an interesting history. Created by the British Government’s Ministry of Information during World War 2, the Keep Calm and Carry On posters were designed to be issued to the public if Germany invaded Britain. Since this didn’t happen, “the poster was never officially seen by the public.” (Source: www.keepcalmandcarryon.com)

It seems that most of these posters have disappeared and were thrown away at the end of the war. Some have been found and are in the National Archives and the Imperial War Museum in London. There is also no record of the person who came up with the “simple and quintessential Britishness of the Keep Calm and Carry On message.” (Source: www.keepcalmandcarryon.com)

As the body of Christ, we too face an invasion, a very real threat to life in Christ. The attacks of Satan and his temptation to sin are very powerful tools against the peace we have in Christ and the life our Lord calls us to live. They permeate the world around us, can infiltrate the church, and take up residence in our hearts. How do we face this onslaught of evil? Our primary relationship must be with God in Christ, and His will our rule for life. We must trust in His promises, live faithfully by His word, and encourage each other in the righteousness of God. We should not be discouraged by the turmoil sin brings to life, but stay firmly rooted and grounded in Christ, knowing that “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). We know that “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22), but that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:7).

Paul put it this way; “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). In the midst of everything going on around us, we can keep calm if our lives are anchored to him, and we can carry on in faithful living, pleasing God and staying focused on the goal of eternal life. “Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD” (Psa. 31:24).

If I were to change the logo of Keep Calm around as some have today, I would have it say, “Keep Calm and Faithfully Serve God.” This is what our calling is as Christians, what our encouragement should be to each other, what our hope of eternity is based on through the blood of Christ. “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose” (Phil. 2:13). Keep calm and carry on.

rjohnson colorRobert Johnson is a minister in Longview, Texas, where he has been a preacher for over 40 years. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible and Biblical Languages, and a Masters is in Liberal Studies from the University of Oklahoma. He loves sharing the gospel with others and ministering to people’s needs.

Guest Post – You Are A New Creature

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Please note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of LifeWay Christian Resources.

… Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come – 2 Corinthians 5:17

When you look at the words “new creature,” what comes to mind? If you have watched comics and cartoons in the past, those fictional characters will always turn into some kind of monsters or mutants. Even Tom and Jerry can become monsters in some of the episodes.

Does this mean God wants us to turn into some kind of immortal mutant with supernatural powers?

The answer is both yes and no. I will first explain the no.

Obviously, it is not God’s will to make us a mutated generation. While it may be cool to fly across the high-rise buildings in New York City like Spider-Man, we were not designed for this kind of purpose.

2 Corinthians 5:17 verse says if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature. The old things passed away and new things have come. In other words, when you are in Christ, you have become a new person. Does that mean you change your fashion and the way you look? It is more than that. It is more like a change of heart.

You may have been a very impulsive person but now, you are more patient and calm. You used to like gossiping with your friends but now, you are more encouraging with your words. Like the Apostle Paul, who became a new creature when he had an encounter with Jesus. That encounter turned him from a Christian prosecutor to a church planter.

Back to the question: Why a yes answer, then?

Other than a change in our characters, those who are new in Christ will now have super natural power that comes from God. When you did not know why you were able to get rid of the addiction of gambling, it was God’s strength that worked in you. When you see a sick person was healed in the name of the Lord, it was God who made that come true. When you preached and people responded to the altar call, it was God’s Spirit that changed the atmosphere during the church service. We may say some of the preachers are great but in reality, they were all backed up by God.

So if there is something you would love to change in your life, let us learn to pray and submit the situation to the Lord. This does not mean we can just sit back, relax and God will do something. It means we need to be persistent when it comes to pursuing the will of God.

If your business is struggling to generate consistent sales in the long run, do pray about it. If your marriage is at the verge of divorce and you think there is nothing you can do about it, do pray about it. Our end is always God’s beginning. When we work, we work. When we pray, God works. When God works, you will be amazed with His power demonstrated in our lives.

We may not have flying ability. We may not even have spider webs that help us swing across the city. We just have a God who can perform all kinds of miracles in our lives and that is sufficient for us.

ClementCheeBioClement Chee loves scenery photography and traveling. He serves in the youth ministry and owns a preaching website where he shares his insights, sermons, encouragement, and preaching tips. For more information, you can visit http://www.preachingsecrets.com.

Guest Post – The Ripple Effect of Ministry

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Please note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of LifeWay Christian Resources.

A former middle school youth group student of mine recently emailed me. He thanked me for demonstrating a faith in God that he still admires and is emulating in his own ministry calling. His words humbled me because I was new to ministry at that time and constantly making mistakes. But I am very grateful to him because sometimes we don’t know when God has used us to change someone’s life.

This concept hit me hard at a youth summer camp of 2007, and it continues to be one of the most important personal ministry experiences of my life. My group of students had been partnered with kids from another church all week long as they participated in Bible studies and field games. On the last day of camp the students from the other church were all wearing the same t-shirt with the words, “In Memory of…” on the front.

So I sat down with a group of them that day and asked them about the t-shirts. The oldest student explained that their youth pastor had died of a heart attack a couple of months before the camp had started. Without a leader, a group of high school students decided that camp was so important for the middle school students that they took it upon themselves to make sure that the summer camp trip was not canceled.

I was completely blown away by their story because I became aware of the ripple effect of ministry. Every Bible study I prepared, every prayer I spoke, every worship song I sang, every special event I planned… everything I did in ministry had the potential to impact the life of someone in a way I would never know.

The ripple effect can be observed in the ministry of Jesus when He encounters the Samaritan woman at the well in Sychar. After spending time with her and testifying He was the Messiah, she left and began witnessing throughout the city. The gospel John shares, “Now many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of what the woman said when she testified, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’” John 4:39 (HCSB)

Remember this in your day-to-day ministry – that even if it feels like you aren’t making a difference, God can be using you in ways you’d never even dream. Be encouraged by these words.

Brandon OrtegaBrandon Ortega currently works for WORDsearch Bible. He is passionate about youth ministry, writing, and playing the guitar. He is a graduate of San Diego Christian College with a degree in Biblical studies with an emphasis in youth ministry.