Guest Post – You Are A New Creature

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… 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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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.

Guest Post – Stacks

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A pastor once joked about what he is paid to do.

He said he is not paid to preach because that is what he loves and is gifted to do.

He said he is not paid to minister to people because God called him and put that heart within him.

He then paused and with a grin said, “I am paid to put up with that daggum staff!”

For the record I love my staff and most of the pastors I know love their own. Many of the pastors who do not yet have staff would give their right arm to have some paid help. So my point is not to pick on church staff. My point is to point out how much we love to preach. We would do it for free.

Every pastor I know loves to preach. This is why WORDsearch is such a blessing. While other Bible study software suites are built for students, WORDsearch is built for preachers who want to study. There is a difference.

One of the features I have verbally thanked God for is called Desktops. Before WORDsearch I would have a couple of different stacks of books on my desk. I would have a stack I was using for the Sunday morning series with a few commentaries and other resources. I would have a stack for the Wednesday evening series that included a few books but also some scholarly articles. If I was in the middle of a discipleship series there would be a stack for that.

When I would head to the coffee shop for study those stacks would come with me. If I needed to do a little reading at home, the stacks would come as well. These stacks plus my laptop, tablet, notebook, pens, wall charger, and Bible would make a simple trip to the coffee shop quite a challenge; keeping them in order, protecting the pages from bends and spills. Not fun at all.

Inevitably I would lessen the load by trying to decide which books I would take. After being at my study location for less than an hour I would have read through what I brought and was wishing I had brought more.

With WORDsearch this is no longer a problem.

First of all my stack are now Desktops. I have a desktop for Sermon Prep, one for Wednesday Study, another for Language Tools (Word Study), and yet another I simply call My Desktop. The latter is the one I open if I am just wanting to look something up quickly or explore a side topic.

Each one is preset to the books and types of books I need for that particular effort. For instance right now on my Sermon Prep Desktop I have 10 complete multi-volume commentary sets, four Bibles (parallel Bibles, cross-reference tools), and four theological dictionaries. Imagine lugging that to the coffee shop. And that is just one desktop.

Second, I am not limited to that one desktop or stack of books. I can easily switch over to the Word Study desktop or Wednesday Study with two clicks and I am ready to go. Not only with the books I stacked on that desktop but also my complete library waiting in the wings.

Not to mention the incredibly convenient way each book can be synced. I turn to a text in my Bible and all of the open resources turn to that same text. Cutting out minutes of page flipping and letting me spend that time on actual research.

I hear friends talk all the time about having print books and loving the nostalgia of the physical text. I get that, however those things are heavy and limited. Take a break from the staff, head to the coffee shop, and take your entire library with you organized in neat stacks ready to be read with WORDsearch.

Josh KingJosh King is the Lead Pastor at Sachse’s Church (Sax-ee) in North East Dallas County. He has Bible/ministry degrees from Criswell College and Liberty Seminary. He and his wife Jacki have two sons and are expecting the third (from Ethiopia) in the next few months (hopefully). 

Guest Post – Gutsy Faith

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Ever know someone, or read about a quality a person has, and think, “I want some of what they have.”

I recently had those thoughts, not in a jealous way, but a “divine gotta have’” way. In my study time I came across a gutsy gal in Mark 5:24-34, the woman with the bleeding condition. Oh I know, when we get to this area of Scripture, due to the topic we may tend to skim fast over it, yet it has amazing lessons for us.

Verse 25 describes this gal as one who had been afflicted for a very long time. She had sought help elsewhere, yet instead of improving, her condition was worsening. I love that in verse 27 “When she heard about Jesus, she came…” One resource claims that she may have traveled some 30 miles to get there.

The story proceeds with, “she came up behind Jesus in the crowd and touched His cloak.” This alone is a gutsy step of faith; she came to Him “in the crowd.” Let’s think about this. She is, as culture and tradition states, ceremonially “unclean” due to her condition. She should, from a distance, declare herself unclean and stay away. But, “she came…”

Out of confident desperation she says, “if I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.” Many times emphasis can be lost in the translation. The word used here for “if” in the Greek can be rendered “since or because.” May I be so bold to translate it this way, “Due to the fact that because I touched Jesus’ clothes, I WILL be healed.” That is some strong gutsy faith! Verse 29, “…immediately her bleeding stopped!”

Interesting note, the word used in the narrative for her touching Jesus’ garment doesn’t imply she just reached out and flicked her hand across the hem. She GRABBED it! She grabbed that garment so tight that she may have left an imprint of her hand on it. She KNEW, she believed that all it took was to grab His cloak and she WOULD be healed!

As I read through this, I felt the Lord say that I too am (we all are) like this woman at times. We may not have a physical ailment, but we have issues, stuff. We too can be lost in our own affliction and be there a LONG time, seeking help elsewhere. What will it take to bring us to the realization that He will help us? Do we have the faith to come to Him and not stay away? Confidently reach for Him and KNOW He will meet us in our need. It may take some gutsiness on our part, some faith reaching, strong grabbing, and by golly don’t worry about the crowd … just come to Jesus!

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 – What Can I Do?

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“What can I do?”  It’s a question that’s often raised, either in sincere inquiry or more as a statement of inability. It’s not a lack of ability that usually keeps one from being involved as much as it is a lack of desire. There is no one specific ability or talent that God wants in service to Him, as the talents He has blessed us all with, whatever they may be, all have a place of service in His kingdom. To the congregation in Corinth that exalted certain gifts above others, Paul reminded them of everyone’s importance when he wrote, “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired” (1 Cor.12:18). Whether those abilities need maturing, have changed, or diminished with the passing of time, they still are valuable to God and His kingdom and they still can be used to His honor and glory.

So what can we do? Well, for starters, we all can PRAY! Can you think of anything more relevant, more powerful, than approaching the throne of God to seek His help and presence? There is no one greater than our Creator and Sustainer, nothing more significant than petitioning the Father through the Son for our needs, for guidance and direction, for His will to be done.  Paul knew what a source of strength prayer was, as he asked of the Ephesian Christians to be “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).

We all can SPEAK WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT! There are times when all of us need to hear a friendly voice, when we need a sympathetic ear.  What help it is to hear from someone who can understand what we’re going through, who can offer support and love, to help whatever we are dealing with be a little easier to bear. With as many people having cell phones in use in so many different ways, surely we can use them for the glory of God and to build up the body of Christ! And while there’s no substitute for the sound of the human voice, text messages, emails, cards, and other communications to let people know we care and are there for them can be greatly appreciated and helpful, too. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thess. 5:11).

We all can SPEND TIME IN THE WORD OF GOD! We might find fewer problems in life and more solutions to problems if the spiritual was front and center in our existence. God’s Word goes with us, from being a babe in Christ to maturing in the faith. It addresses our needs from youth through old age. It deals with being single and married, having children and grandchildren, being employed or employing others. It covers every area of life and how to let Christ mold our conduct so we are always in His will. We will find a better quality of life if the Word is in us, and better advice to help others as well. “I will meditate on Your precepts and think about Your ways. I will delight in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word” (Psa. 119:15-16).

What can I, you, we all do? Much in every way, according to all God has blessed each one of us to have. It’s not that we can’t, it’s whether we will. And if we will, then what a difference we can make for others, for ourselves, for the world in which we live.  What will you do today for the glory of God, for the work of His kingdom, for the sake of others? “Finally then, brothers, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received from us how you must walk and please Godas you are doingdo so even more” (1 Thess. 4:1).

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 – Think on These Things

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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.

Occasionally there are some things that may drop into your mind unannounced ― the Should Have, Could Have, and Would Have. As precious as time can be, you can’t spend too much of it worrying about the past (Isaiah 43:18). When these thoughts come to mind, it’s your choice to dwell on them or move on.

At times, your thoughts might remind you of missed opportunities, unsuccessful efforts, or regrets, especially in moments of uncertainty. These negative reminders, no matter how small, can suddenly become an even bigger issue than before. Why? Human nature seems to be more influenced by unfavorable moments because these moments tend to leave a more lasting impression. For instance, a tiny paper cut or a snide remark can have a greater impact on a person’s day than a kind gesture or compliment.

Dwelling on the past will only keep you in the past losing hope for the future. Next time a Should Have, Could Have, or Would Have tries to enter your mind, remember the Been There and Done That and start taking steps forward. Let your mind focus on what God has in store for the days ahead. He has already taken care of yesterday while preparing you for a brighter future. All you have to do is keep your mind on the thoughts that will keep you encouraged. Stay focused on the Lord and He will keep you strengthened and moving forward.

8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).

Revised blogs from Blessings in Blogs: Living Effectively by Genia M. Owens, originally published by Trafford Publishing. © Copyright 2012, www.trafford.com

Genia Owens, author, blog

Genia Owens loves to inspire others through writing. She also enjoys watching a good movie with popcorn, spending time with family and friends, and going on outings with her husband to take photos for their online photography art business – GREO Galleries Unlimited (http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/greo-galleries-unlimited.html).