Guest Blog – Producing Fruit

erikstanleyOver the past 3 years my wife, two boys and I have been serving in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. We first started out going down on the weekends, until we were called to go and serve full time.  We been down here for the past two years.

Before becoming a missionary I was working in the corporate world, working long hours and missing the life God had blessed me with at home. I became a slave to the things of this world and worked just to provide things to my family. I wasn’t spending time with them, which is what they needed more than all the material things.

In 2009 I felt moved to start working from home with my wife so I could be more involved at home, raising my boys and being a good husband. Being home gave my wife and I time to read the Bible every morning and get fed, and also helped us to get closer to each other.

I began to become more hungry for the Word and found WORDsearch. As I dug deeper into the Word, I began to not only read it but study it, meditate on it, memorize it, and most importantly apply it. I was hungry and thirsty to learn more and understand the Word more. The WORDsearch software really helped guide me and give me the tools to get a better understanding. The great thing that I found was I just needed more time in the Word. In 2010 I decided to read the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation and began reading in December. As I read the Word I began to get convicted and repent from the way I was living.

In September 2011 my family and I sold everything and moved to Mexico to share the Gospel. It has been a real journey the past two years, full of ups and downs. We have been molded, stretched, disappointed, full of joy and many other different feelings. The things we have done and are doing would not have been possible without the hand of God. We have had doors opened and by faith and His promise we have stepped through them.

We are teaching families here how to make soil, and growing gardens in an area of Mexico where there is no soil, only sand as far as the eye can see. We now have over 20 families with gardens producing healthy fruits and vegetables. We call our ministry F.A.I.T.H. gardens, which stands for Food Always in the Home. We got this idea from a ministry that was started in the Philippians and is still growing strong. We also are teaching at local community centers here weekly and have just been invited to teach at local elementary, middle, and high schools. I am teaching and preaching at a local prison here twice a week, and I preach at a men’s rehab center once a week. I never would have thought I would be doing what I am doing today. Nor could I have been doing what I am doing without being led by the Holy Spirit.

The WORDsearch app for smartphones has been great. While I am waiting in the prison, or out and about in the community, I have at my finger tips all the devotionals, commentaries and Bible translations with me. When I am feeling weak, or discouraged, or overwhelmed with joy, I have with me on my phone the Word and the many other tools with me. Please make use of all the great tools that WORDsearch offers and keep daily in the Word of God. Seek Him in every step in your ministry and find strength in Him. Scripture I like to hold close to and can really relate to is:

Philippians 4:11-13 (NASB) 

11  Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
12  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
13  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

He is our strength! Over the past year we have baptized 12 people, six of which are convicted felons in the local prison. We disciple five families weekly and visit many families out in the community. I am thankful for all God has given us and the families He has put in our path. We must slow down enough to hear His voice and then be obedient to step in His ways and not our own. I never thought I would be preaching and yet He is giving me opportunities weekly. I never I thought I would be baptizing men and women and yet He is providing me the people and producing fruit in their lives and ours.

Ephesians 2:10 (NASB) 

10  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

God has created us with a purpose and He knew before we did that we would walk in His ways. What are you waiting for ? Trust in Him and He will make your paths straight. You will be able to experience the super natural life in Him. Keep the faith and watch the fruit produced and know Who it is that is producing it!

Erik 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 Blog – I Am God’s Fruit Basket

avatarHave you ever lived a life so filled with pain and despair you begin to wonder why God would allow you to survive a lifetime of suffering? What did you do to deserve this pain? As Job cried out, “If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?” (Job 7:20) For me the irony dug deep as a man with bipolar disorder, over the years I began to feel the pull into ministry. It seemed ridiculous at first; that I, a man with so many issues, should become a shepherd of Christ. The words of James in particular become a stinging conviction; “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” (James 1:6-8)

I have often felt so blown around by the winds of my own mental instability that I’m simply incapable of connecting with God. So many times have I said, “”I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.” (Job 10:1) How can one ever find meaning in all this mess?

Peter wrote to the church, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.  As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:1-2) To those that serve he said, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 4:10-11)

Whatever strength I have within me always feels insufficient for God’s service, but Peter here reveals the secret; “he should do it with the strength God provides.” God provides the strength to accomplish all things. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 is not merely a nice saying, it’s a spiritual truth.

One of those things God provided me was June Hunt’s Biblical Counseling Keys through WORDsearch. It’s a large index of articles that lead you through various hardships people go through in life, from Abortion to Worry. It can be a quick read that not only provides an accurate background into these conditions, but an excellent point for point analysis with scriptural support. It has been especially encouraging to me, as I find quite a few of these issues covered are ones that I struggle with.

It has helped form my identity as God’s fruit basket; afflictions can often become blessings. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) In the end this counsel has helped me come to terms with these afflictions and how they will complete my ministry. As James said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

Michael Wright is a recent Magna Cum Laude graduate of Liberty University and longtime WORDsearch user. He currently serves in the Celebrate Recovery ministry in Spokane, WA. His blog can be found at www.thedubshack.net.

Reflections on the Austin Training Conference

For a lot of the staff here at WORDsearch, myself included, the days we circle on the calendar and really look forward to are the ones in which we get to host a training conference.  Over the past couple years, the majority of our conferences have been held at the beautiful LifeWay facilities in downtown Nashville.  However, last week, we enjoyed holding one here in the northwest side of Austin.

steventeaching

 Around 60 people joined us for the three-day event, and the four different trainers definitely kept everyone busy and filled with a bunch of new knowledge.  While one of the purposes of the conference is to learn more about how to study God’s Word better through our software, the reason I personally look forward to these conferences so much is due to the fellowship.

On a daily basis here at the WORDsearch office, I get to interact with our customers through phone calls and e-mails.  But it’s always so inspiring to meet our incredible users face-to-face and hearing about the ministry that they serve.  Like any company does, we also occasionally have struggles and difficult times.  For us, that statement rings true for the months of June and July as we went through some growing pains with technology.  But to finish out the month of July with this conference, my faith in our mission here at WORDsearch has never been stronger.   Our mission is to “serve those who preach and teach to change lives.”  To meet the users of our software in person and to hear about what they are doing to change lives is incredibly inspiring.

I’m so blessed to just be in the presence of the fine men and women who attend our conferences, and I get so excited to think about each of them as they take the tools that were learned at the conference and apply them to work towards the expansion of God’s Kingdom.  I pray often for our customers, because I appreciate that they are following God’s calling so faithfully and admirably.

One final note on this past week’s conference.  To me, one of the most special times of the conference is the concluding prayer of each day.  Joining in a giant circle and having people from all over the world praying for each other is something that’s very special and heart-warming.

If you ever get the chance to attend one of our future conferences, I highly recommend it.  I say this with extreme confidence – - you will leave the event feeling strong in your abilities to use our program at its optimal ability, but you will also leave feeling uplifted by your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Looking ahead, we will be in the Dallas area (Plano, TX) on August 27-28,  and also in Nashville on October 1-3.

To everyone who was at the Austin conference, as well as to everyone who reads this… God bless each and every one of you.  My goal here at WORDsearch is that one customer at a time, I will do my part to help provide you the tools to learn more about how Jesus died for us and how everlasting life awaits us beyond these earthly times.  To be a part of this is extremely special, so thank you to everyone who work so hard to fulfill God’s plan for your life.  You are all heroes in my book.

To see pictures from this event, please go to this link.

Austin Bush – WORDsearch Bible – Sales & Support Manager

A Customer Testimonial – Pastor Tyrone Hayes Sr.

When I first was called into the ministry, my understanding of the Bible was very limited. I was blessed to have a good Sunday school teacher who gave me a good foundation of the Bible. I was also blessed to have a good pastor who knew the word of God. The Lord was still dealing with me because I was hungry to have a closer walk with the Lord, and today I still have this hunger for walking and knowing the word of God. I tell my congregation that there are not enough hours in the day for studying the word of God. I was blessed again when the Lord directed me to another excellent Bible scholar by the name of Pastor Bill; a friend and a brother. God has been good to me.

The Lord keeps opening doors and I was blessed one night, and as I was searching through the internet, I came across WORDsearch. WORDsearch has also been a blessing in my ministry when it comes to researching the word of God. It is great when you can talk to a group of Christian brothers at WORDsearch, one in particular being Rev. Fern, as he often calls himself. Not only is Brother Fern a blessing, but the entire staff at WORDsearch is a blessing.   They are a blessing when helping you to choose the right studies to add on to what you already have in your library, but they also share their testimonies. I thank God for the staff. With the leading of the Holy Spirit, God has blessed me to have good people in my life as I walk this Christian journey.  And I thank God for Brother Fern and the entire staff at WORDsearch.

God bless and heaven smile upon you.

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Pastor Tyrone Hayes Sr. Pastor-Teacher

New Mount Zion Baptist Church

Philadelphia, Pa.

 

The Sermon Notebook’s History and Purpose

AlToday’s post was written by guest blogger Alan Carr, whose Sermon Notebook was recently published on WORDsearch.  Read more about it and download here

Nearly 2,000 years ago, the Apostle Paul, in his words to Timothy, articulated the philosophy that brought The Sermon Notebook into being. Paul wrote, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2 KJV)

The internet ministry of The Sermon Notebook began as a very small endeavor. In 1997, a friend suggested that I post a series of sermons I had prepared from the book of Revelation. I took his advice. When the initial response to the sermons was positive, and interest in my sermons grew, I developed The Sermon Notebook, and our ministry was born.

Since then, I have posted well over 1,100 sermons. Over the years, the ministry has grown beyond all of my expectations. The ministry of The Sermon Notebook is accessed by tens of thousands of visitors every day, and I regularly receive emails from every populated continent in the world. I am grateful to the Lord for how He has blessed this ministry and used our sermons since those humble beginnings years ago.

As the years have passed, the mission of The Sermon Notebook has not changed: The Sermon Notebook exists to help preachers and students of the Bible in their Bible study, their preaching, and their sermon preparation. To that end, when I prepare sermons, I follow an expository model. Expositional preaching is the primary preaching method described in the Bible, (Neh. 8:8; Acts 2:14-40; Acts 8:29-35). As such, it is the model preachers should follow today.

The Bible should be allowed to speak for itself. When it does, the people of God are fed, and they grow in their understanding of His Word, and in their relationship with Him. The sermons in The Sermon Notebook function, in many ways, like a commentary. They seek to explain the text by examining the Biblical context, by defining the pivotal words in the text, and by addressing the historical background of the passage. Beyond that, they are devotional in the sense that they make practical application to the lives of people today. This is accomplished through the use of illustrations and through direct application.

It is my desire that preachers, and other students of the Word, will find a valuable resource that will aid them in their comprehension of God’s message in the Bible. I am aware that not all preachers have had access to traditional classes in hermeneutics and homiletics. Hopefully, the sermons in The Sermon Notebook will help users grow in their understanding of God’s Word, and in their ability to communicate His truth to others.

When I was approached by WORDsearch about the possibility of The Sermon Notebook being published as WORDsearch module, I was excited about the opportunity. I believe it will allow The Sermon Notebook to reach an even broader audience. As one man said, “I am just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” Hopefully, I can help others learn to make their own bread.

It is my hope that many will avail themselves of the useful products available in the WORDsearch library. In an hour of increasing spiritual confusion and spreading Biblical darkness, the people of God should lay hold of every resource available to them. The WORDsearch library is a powerful Bible Study tool. I am proud to be a member of the WORDsearch family.

If you purchase The Sermon Notebook, and it proves helpful to you, please send me a note. I would appreciate the opportunity to correspond with you via email. My contact information can be found at www.sermonnotebook.org.

Carr holds the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Theology degrees. Currently, he teaches Homiletics, Christology and Manuscript Evidence courses at West Lenoir Baptist School of Ministry. He is married to Joan Carr, and has two children, both who are involved in ministry.

WORDsearch Guest Blog Guidelines

Do you love writing about God’s Word? Have you ever wanted to guest blog? We would love to post your submissions on our blog, so read the guidelines below and get writing!

To keep things simple and consistent, we’ve created some guidelines to help you write your post.

Subject Matter

We’re looking for content that will help those who preach and teach to change lives. It might come in the form of an encouraging word, a devotional, a tip on how to use WORDsearch more effectively, or advice for those in full-time ministry. We’re always open to new suggestions or ideas, so throw one our way!

General Guidelines

  • Your post must be original (you wrote it!) and not have been published elsewhere (unless we have previously discussed exceptions)

  • Keep your submission between 500 and 700 words

  • Please include a photo of yourself and a short bio (under 4 sentences) about yourself

  • Feel free to include a link to your ministry’s website or to your own personal website

  • Remember that we will be editing your post, so don’t be offended if changes are made

  • Be social! Share your post with your facebook friends/fans and your twitter community

  • Have fun!

Just So You Know…

We’re thankful for your heart to bring a valuable contribution to our readers. In the unlikely event that your submission does not meet our guidelines, we reserve the right to forego publishing your post to our site. Additionally, we do not guarantee a written explanation of why a post was declined.

Next Steps

We love guest bloggers and submissions, so if you would like to submit a post or talk about what you could write, feel free to email Katie at katie.cornett@lifeway.com. If you would, please title your subject line Guest Blogging.