Guest Post – A Re-Pitching

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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.

Ever find yourself in a place either geographically, emotionally, or spiritually that just doesn’t seem right? No matter how or where you turn it just isn’t good. If you were to really be honest, could it be that you are there due to your poor choices?

I’ve been there. I found myself floundering about, trying ever so hard to just get some kind of foothold, but it is as if I am climbing a wet mossy rock pile, slipping and never getting to the top. The only view I see is that of a cliff off to my right, and to the left the threat of falling is eminent.

In Genesis 13, Abram and his nephew Lot found they needed to make a change, (too much “stuff” and people between them), so they decided to part ways, giving themselves some elbow room as we say today. Abram went on to live in the land of Canaan, near the great trees in Hebron and there he built an altar to the Lord. Lot heads out and “pitched his tents near Sodom.” The very next verse is, “Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.” It was clearly known what that area was like, yet Lot chose to “pitch his tent” there, RIGHT THERE! In real estate lingo, one might say, “Location, location, location!” The area the property is located in is so important, everything else you could say about it hardly matters.

This “pitching” is one of making your home and dwelling there. By going there, Lot probably attracted attention by being great or impressive. He was wealthy with loads of stuff and people. Was it THIS that kept Lot there? Was this environment more conducive to his greatness? Are we where we are, are we staying due to this same reason?

In the next chapter (14) some time later we find Abram comes to Lots’ rescue. The word rescue alone paints drama. Some kings come and take on Sodom and a few other neighboring places, plundering and taking the people captive. “They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living IN Sodom” (emphasis mine).

First he was NEAR, now the guy is IN Sodom. It would be interesting to know the progression. It says that Abram brought Lot back with all his people and stuff. Abe brought him back, it doesn’t say where back is, but I would risk saying that Abram didn’t park the camels right at Sodom’s door step.

Picking up in chapter 18, God tells Abraham He was going to destroy Sodom. He pleads with God, narrowing it down that if he finds 10 righteous folks, would he spare them? God agrees. Guess who is there? Lot. He was rescued and went right back. How many times does God rescue US, give us a way out, and what do we do? Go right back.

I have to interject, as I somewhat playfully jab at Lot, because he was a righteous guy. In the New Testament Peter speaks of Lot, “But that good man Lot, driven nearly out of his mind by the sexual filth and perversity, was rescued. Surrounded by moral rot day after day after day, that righteous man (Lot) was in constant torment. So God knows how to rescue the godly from evil trials.  And he knows how to hold the feet of the wicked to the fire until Judgment Day.” 2 Peter 2:7-9 (MSG)

We too, who are righteous have made some of the same stupid mistakes. God sends angels to get Lot and his family out in time, minus one – his wife. I am confident Lot’s choices caused him great regret because they placed him and his family in great danger and it cost him his wife, his home, and almost his soul.

We too have made choices where we find ourselves in the wrong camp and we seem to be somewhat paralyzed. We were rescued once, and we went right back. In being “back” it has cost us dearly, and painfully so.

Let’s be bold, be decisive, pull those stakes out, tear down the tent and re-pitch. Look at the land again. Choose the good spot. Position yourself right up, near and IN the presence of God.

Where are you “pitching your tent?” Share with us in the comments!

DeDe Southwick, wife and mother of two wonderful sons, two lovely stepdaughters and a sweet granddaughter. She along with her husband Mark, reside outside of Portland, Oregon. She  enjoys gardening, making her guys laugh, and a hardy theological geeky-looking book. She and Mark enjoy ministry as a team, he the solid calm strength to her silly geeky side. She has the awesome privilege of  writing an online weekly devotional teaching. She leads women’s bible studies, and has served on the leadership team of her local church. Her passion is Jesus and His word. She sincerely desires to have that become contagious to others, holding a degree in Theology, yet for her, that is NOT enough, it is a lifetime of wonderful God revelations.

Guest Post – 8 Steps to Better Bible Study

guest_post_medPlease 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.

Who among us doesn’t want to study their Bible better? I know I do! As I’m a seminary student, over the years there have been a few handy things I have learned to do when I want to get deeper into a particular section of Scripture. The following are certain steps that I take that allow me to see more deeply into what is being said besides the mere words written on the page.

1. Open WORDsearch to the section of Scripture you want to look at.
2. Using the highlighter tool, look for repeated words and concepts.
3. Locate important words or theological terms (looking them up in Strong’s or another Word Study tool if necessary).
4. Make notes about observations in the Bible Notes window to save notes particular to specific verses, while leaving the reading window open.
5. Open study Bible notes and a commentary alongside the Scripture to read and understand the background of the book.

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Example desktop following these steps. Click to expand.

6. Re-read the section several more times to see if you missed anything.
7. With the new tools, go verse-by-verse by clicking through and see what is meant by the author.
8. Re-write in your own words what the author is trying to say in the Word Processor window, save thoughts for later sermon or teaching.

Now with these ideas/tips I hope it will help you to delve deeper into God’s Word. If you need any suggestions on a good study Bible or commentaries please feel free to ask.

What suggestions would you add to this list to help get deeper into the word?

Adapted from orginal posted here.

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 – A Claim of Faith

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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.

Faith is only as good as its object. The man in the jungle bows before an idol of stone and trusts it to help him, but he receives no help. No matter how much faith a person may generate, if it is not directed at the right object, it will accomplish nothing. “I believe” may be the testimony of many sincere people, but the big question is, “In whom do you believe? What do you believe?” We are not saved by faith in faith; we are saved by faith in Christ as revealed in His Word. – Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) – New Testament – The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 2.

Some of us go to church every Sunday and hear the pastor preach from the Word of God. We might go to a weekly Bible study and maybe even host one in our home. We go out and buy Christian books to read. We download podcasts to listen to because we did not get enough on Sunday. All in the pursuit of more knowledge. But what exactly are we doing with that knowledge? Is our faith growing? Are we growing in our likeness of Christ? Or are we eating of His Word and getting lethargic and comfortable in our seats, not applying what we claim to have faith in? We all must examine ourselves daily and see if our faith really is causing us to be transformed and not conformed to the world.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2 (NASB)

You would think that the church would not conform to the world, but because of the level of comfort that is being sought after in the church we are becoming to look more and more like the world. We all at times enjoy comfort, and from time to time need a time of rest, but we must not stay there too long or we might get stuck and find ourselves surrounded by a large group of people that are caught up in the comfort of routine. I do believe that we are saved by faith alone, but how much faith do we actually need to have before we start to do what we claim to have faith in? I think of the book of James as I am writing this..

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” – James 2: 14-18 (ESV)

Faith and works go hand and hand.

What is one way you continue to grow your faith? Share with us in the comments below!

erikstanleyErik Stanley and his family are missionaries in Rocky Point, Mexico, teaching the local community how to garden and make compost so they can grow their own fruits and vegetables. Please check out their ministry via Facebook here:https://www.facebook.com/erikandmarthafaithgardens

Guest Post – Read God’s Word as You Study with the Info Window

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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.

We have all been there. You are reading a fascinating book or article with several biblical references. You are torn between looking up each verse and just trusting the author. A few years ago I fell under conviction that if I did not look up the text I was lifting the opinions of men above the Word of God. (That may not be a real problem but I was raised legalistically, so I find random sins all over the place where there really are not any.)

At any rate this makes the Info Window in WORDsearch dear to me. As you read commentaries, articles, footnotes, and cross-references, the text addresses appear as hyperlinks. Simply hold your mouse over the link and, boom, the Info Window to the right instantly locates and highlights that text in a separate window. It does not move your Bible off your main text, but allows you to read the Word and gain a deeper, and higher if you will, understanding of the context.

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Try it out and read God’s Word as you study God’s Word.

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). 

Do you use the Info Window on a daily basis? Share with us in the comments below!

Guest Post – Seeing Them

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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.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  – Philippians 2:4

This morning while driving to work, cruising along, the traffic seemed heavier than normal for 5:15 a.m. Looking in my rear view mirror, I saw the pretty orange lights of a big rig truck. The poor guy was trying to maneuver through the morning commute, cars full of folks that I am confident had not yet been caffeinated to complete awareness of their surroundings. Like that of a chess game, I figured “If I move over one lane, move forward around this little white car, and return to my original lane, I could make room for the big truck to get around.” Off I went, and NOT going over the speed limit I might add. Doing so, the truck driver saw the move and made his own advance. As we continued on down the freeway for a few minutes, just as I began my exit off, the truck driver passed on by, but NOT without a reaching out of his hand and the wave of thanks.

Do we look and see those around us? Are we aware? Do we CARE? Do we see the need and heed? Or do we see and ignore or hastily say “Go around me!” While at it, “CROWN ME!” Paul, when speaking to the Christians in Phillipi, proceeds the above verse stating: “…being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves..” (Philippians 2:2-3) As we cruise through this life, may we be aware, may we look and see how we can help others, whether that help be small or large. Taking the time to offer a smile, holding the door while they carry heavy bags of groceries, allow someone to go ahead of us in line, give a word of encouragement, take a meal, hold them, laugh with them, cry and pray. May we have a God focus on others.

Have you encouraged anyone today by your actions? Share with us in the comments below!

dede southwickDeDe Southwick, wife and mother of two wonderful sons, two lovely stepdaughters and a sweet granddaughter. She along with her husband Mark, reside outside of Portland, Oregon. She  enjoys gardening, making her guys laugh, and a hardy theological geeky-looking book. She and Mark enjoy ministry as a team, he the solid calm strength to her silly geeky side. She has the awesome privilege of  writing an online weekly devotional teaching. She leads women’s bible studies, and has served on the leadership team of her local church. Her passion is Jesus and His word. She sincerely desires to have that become contagious to others, holding a degree in Theology, yet for her, that is NOT enough, it is a lifetime of wonderful God revelations.

Guest Post – Living in Grace

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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.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” -Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)

Justice has no room for grace and grace has no room for justice. To live in one excludes the other. In justice you deserve what you receive. Grace, undeserved favor, is the opposite. Grace has NOTHING to do with deserving! Grace is a gift of compassion and provides freedom, peace, and contentment.

Pride and shame are siblings, the offspring of self. Pride gloats in your success; shame despairs in your failure. Both stand against grace. Grace is outside of self. To live in grace is to turn away from self; to accept favor that self can never attain.

Self reliance is manifested in DOING; following the rules, taking the right action, checking off the list. Pride grows when the task is done well; shame when it is not. Pride and shame mature into legalism. Grace is manifested in BEING. The focus shifts to character. Actions are determined by your internal nature; completed solely because “I am what I am”!

The greatest work of legalism is judging. We lavish praise for success and punishment for failure. The greatest work of grace is forgiving. Actions are seen in perspective and healing is offered. Legalism and grace are alike in that they recognize, name, and confront sin. They are different in that legalism responds with condemnation; while grace responds with mercy.

Grace is not blind to your sin. This is the paradox: a sober realization of self is necessary to recognize your need for grace. Acceptance of your flaws is preliminary to grace transforming your character. Pride and shame will not allow such acceptance. They see and despise the flaws. Grace covers the flaws with faith, hope and, love.

The transformation grace produces is not always instant. Self will fight with every once of strength until the final breath. Pride and shame are self’s hardened warriors deceiving you. Their lie is that living in grace allows you to continue in your flaws. Grace does not grant permission for the flaws to remain. Grace acknowledges the war and offers solace. Grace is generous, patient, persistent, and sympathetic.

The transformation grace produces may not take the expected form. Rather than a specific flaw being changed, you may prevail over it. Rather than an ailment being healed, endurance may be perfected. Rather than circumstances being changed, patience may mature. Rather than problems being eliminated, wisdom may be granted. This too can be a battleground. You may become disappointed if grace offers something different than your expectations. If disappointment is perpetuated, you may become resentful of grace.

Living in grace is different in nature from living in self. It will feel odd in the beginning. The most prominent quality of grace is peace. Grace provides a calm assurance that you will be cared for, loved, and protected. Peace is most radiant in the peak of struggle. A belief persists that regardless of circumstance something positive will be gained.  This hope is reinforced with the wisdom granted with grace.

Grace transforms lives. It cannot be hidden. It produces an outflow of strength, confidence, and power. This outflow is a quiet, calm, humble steadfastness that permeates all circumstances. The life in grace is not shaken by attack, failure, success, or prosperity. Grace is not shaken even in the face of death. Being outside of this world, grace overcomes this world. Nothing in this world is formidable to grace.

The life of grace cannot be hoarded!  After receiving grace, it is extended to others. The more grace is given; the more there is to give. Grace is never exhausted!  The more it is shared, the stronger the desire grows. It can be agonizing to see others remain bound in the prison of the old self. Grace never judges their choice. Grace remains engaged, constantly presenting itself. No jubilation compares to freeing another from that prison through the extension of grace. No gratitude compares to being released.

bill syrcle, guest blog, counselingWilliam L. Syrcle is a therapist and coach at Synago, in MacombIllinois. He has a Master degree in clinical psychology, is a certified Professional Christian Counselor, is licensed by the State of Illinois, and been in private practice since 2002. He also specializes in business, executive and leadership coaching. Learn more about Synago here.