Guest Post – Why Should You Join a Small Group?

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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.

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 – 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.

Free Friday! Words of Counsel for Christian Workers

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Happy Friday everyone! Today’s free download, usually $4.95, is Words of Counsel for Christian Workers by Charles H. Spurgeon. Click here to download.

We ought to remember that we are the messengers of God’s mercy to the sons of men. “The Lord being merciful unto him.” The angels had not come to Lot of themselves; they were the embodiment and outward display of God’s mercy. Christians in the world should view themselves as manifestations of God’s mercy to sinners, instruments of grace, servants of the Holy Spirit. Now mercy is a nimble attribute. Justice lingers; it is shod with lead, but the feet of mercy are winged. Mercy delights to perform its office. So should it be with us a delight to do good to men. God can save men without instruments, but He very seldom does it. His usual rule is to work by means. Oh that the mercy of God would work mightily by us! Let us remember, as we mingle with society, that God has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation.

Although the Prince of Preachers Charles Haddon Spurgeon lived before the advent of the modern emphasis on psychology and counseling, he had deep insights into mental and spiritual elements of mankind. He experienced many of the trials of life that others encounter, both mentally and physically. In Words of Counsel for Christian Workers, Spurgeon writes about “hard work and its reward”, “workers reading to profit”, “saving a soul from death”, “restoring those who have erred”, “a great leader and good soldiers”, etc.

Few people in history can be known by one name and have it ring true with their audience, and “Spurgeon” is one of them. Over time, Spurgeon has become known and revered as the “Prince of Preachers“. In the last 200 years he has been one of the most influential men for not only Preachers of the Gospel but for those who have not had the opportunity to hear and receive the Gospel message. He wrote tirelessly over his life, and WORDsearch Bible Software is committed to bring as many of Spurgeon’s works as possible to you in electronic form. It is estimated that over his lifetime he preached to over 10,000,000 people.

After you have read the book, we would love to hear what you thought in the Customer Reviews box on the bottom of the book’s page.

Have you read anything that has inspired you lately? Share with us in the comments below!

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.

Free Friday! The Way to God

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Happy Friday everyone! Today’s free download, usually $7.95, is The Way to God by Dwight Lyman Moody. Click here to download.

I believe the reason why a great many people think God does not love them is because they are measuring God by their own small rule, from their own standpoint. We love men as long as we consider them worthy of our love; when they are not we cast them off. It is not so with God. There is a vast difference between human love and Divine love.

The Way to God is a collection of sermons illustrating the simplicity of salvation. Moody doesn’t use heavy philosophy, but simply shows how God does not mean for salvation to be a deep, complicated subject man could not understand. Published in 1884, this book had sold 435,000 copies by 1900.

Dwight L. Moody was born at Northfield, Mass. on Feb. 5, 1837. Moody was an American evangelist and publisher who founded the Moody Church, Northfield School, the Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, the Moody Bible Institute and Moody Publishers.

He may well have been the greatest evangelist of all time. In a 40-year period he won one million souls, founded three Christian schools, launched a great Christian publishing business, established a world-renowned Christian conference center, and inspired literally thousands of preachers to win souls and conduct revivals.

After you have read the book, we would love to hear what you thought in the Customer Reviews box on the bottom of the book’s page.

Have you read anything that has inspired you lately? Share with us in the comments below!

5 Ways Bible Software Can Improve Your Ministry

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Even in this digital age of ebooks, many preachers still prepare sermons and lessons by researching dozens of paper books and Bibles in their library. Pastors often ask, “What are the main advantages of using Bible software?” The advantages are many, but here are 5 that stand out:

1. Bible software saves you time. With the fast topical and cross-reference searching features in Bible software, you can search your entire library for a single topic or verse in seconds. Instead of having to search through all of your books individually, imagine how powerful it is to search everything for exactly what you’re looking for by just typing and hitting “enter.” You can also quickly identify words linked to the original Greek and Hebrew using resources like Strong’s, leading to deeper understanding of each word.

2. Bible software saves you space. This might seem obvious, but with Bible software all you need is a computer or a mobile device. You can carry a seminary library on your laptop or device and access your content anywhere. This way, anywhere you are, if you need to access your library or look something up, it is as simple as grabbing your phone, tablet, or computer.

3. Bible software saves you money. With most Bible software, you can build a huge library of resources for a fraction of the cost of hard copies. More resources give you more content from prominent authors and pastors to help you improve your ministry to others.

4. Bible software gives you a new perspective in seconds. Quickly seeing the opinion of another pastor or scholar on the topic you’re studying can nudge you out of writer’s block. Scripture syncing features in Bible software can help you more quickly navigate to sermon content based on the Scripture you’re analyzing. This helps you see how others have outlined this Scripture, and how they have preached on that verse.

5. Bible software allows you to see things you’d miss otherwise. Bible software does cool things you can’t do any other way. For example, imagine clicking a button and seeing how the word “love” appears throughout all of Scripture, neatly displayed in a colorful bar graph. Imagine comparing 10 different Bible translations side by side, in perfect sync with one another.

With the help of powerful searching tools and access to more resources, including Bible dictionaries, surveys, commentaries, maps, and more, you can become a better student of God’s Word, which in turn helps you become a better teacher of God’s Word.

Originally posted on Pastors Today.