Category Archives: Bible Study

Look Directly at The Son

Today is the day of the Great Solar Eclipse. No doubt for the past few days, you have heard the dire warnings and hysteric messages alerting you to avert your gaze and avoid looking directly at the Sun lest you be rendered blind, shamed, and scorned for your reckless actions.

As we prepare Get Into God’s Word in our daily Bible reading, I want to give you permission to do the exact opposite. As we begin the Gospels, the whole point of your reading is to look directly at the Son (See what I did there?).

At the center of our faith, stands a PERSON. Christianity isn’t a collection of PRINCIPLES to live by or a compilation of PRACTICAL PRECEPTS for you to incorporate into your daily routine so you can live your best life now.

Christianity is founded upon the PERSON Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus of Nazareth was a man born into obscurity, raised up in the backwaters of ancient Israel under Roman occupation and rule. Jesus of Nazareth was an iterate preacher, healer, and miracle worker. Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified agitator of the religious establishment died at the hands of a Roman official who was egged on by a misguided and zealous crowd. Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah and King, raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God.

When we read scripture, we are invited to stare directly at the Son and as we do we find our vision for who Jesus is and who we are in relationship with him is sharpened and strengthened.

I believe with all my heart that Jesus of Nazareth is FASCINATING. Everything that the scriptures reveal to us about Him draws you in deeper and further than you can imagine. Some questions that are raised about him are answered while many answers raise more questions. As you read the Gospels in the coming weeks, you will find yourself irresistibly drawn to the Son. Do not look away.

I believe with all my heart that Jesus of Nazareth is AMAZING. Jesus says some amazing things. Jesus does some amazing things. Jesus promises some amazing things. The most amazing part of it all is that He actually fulfills these amazing things in some pretty amazing ways. As you read the Gospels in the coming weeks, you will find yourself constantly and consistently amazed by the Son. Do not look away.

I believe with all my heart that Jesus of Nazareth is WORTH giving my whole life to following. It is not enough to say that Jesus is a good man, a great teacher, a fascinating and amazing historical figure. As you read the Gospels in the coming weeks, do not come simply to be INFORMED about Jesus. Lay yourself bare before him and seek to be utterly TRANSFORMED by the Son. You will not want to look away.

So here is your assignment for today as you prepare for your journey into the Gospels to look at the Son:

First, determine you will take this journey with us. The readings are approximately 2 chapters a day (an a Psalm) which will take you about 15-20mins to read. Add 10mins for journals or meditation on the passages and you have a commitment to 30mins a day with Jesus. This is a doable challenge and you can make it happen.

Second, invite a friend along with you on the journey. You could invite your spouse, a child, a coworker, or friend to walk alongside of you, hold you accountable for your reading, and someone to converse with on the road.

We will start the Gospel of Matthew on August 24. I hope you will join us as we get into God’s Word so that God’s Word gets into us.

Get Into God’s Word

2Timothy 3: 1, 14-17

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days… But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Bible is one of the greatest blessings bestowed by God on the children of men. It has God for its author; salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture for its matter. It is all pure. – John Locke

Yesterday we kicked off a brand-new sermon series for the Summer called, “For the Bible Tells Me So…” Each week we will look at a specific passage from the Bible that will help form you into the person God would have you become and help you understand your identity in Jesus Christ.

My hope is, that by the time school starts back in the Fall, you and your family will become eager to read your Bible, and understand how to integrate God’s Word into your life.

You ability to grow UP, IN, and OUT hinges on your ability to read, understand, and apply the Word of God to your life.

When Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, Satan attacked him with every temptation he could muster. Jesus withstood those attacks and was able to fight off these temptations with The Word of God (Matthew 4). Look, if Jesus needed Scripture to fight off Satan’s assaults, so do we!

Today, spend some time thank God in prayer for His Word – both The Word Made Flesh (Jesus) and The Word On The Page (or Screen). Think of at least four specific reasons you can be thankful. Also, ask God to give you a greater appreciation, appetite, and awareness of His Word so that you may grow closer to Him.

As a BONUS, here are…

5 Ways to Start Reading Your Bible Today

Auntie Anne’s & How You Got The Bible

Have you ever been to Auntie Anne’s Pretzels in your local mall? The next time you are there follow the delightful aroma of fresh baked pretzels and hot butter to their storefront and get a hot, fresh pretzel. If you watch the baker at each store you will see they measure, roll, and twist the dough to form a beautiful, perfect pretzel every time. On each counter in every Auntie Anne’s store you will notice a measuring line. The baker uses that line to measure the length and width of each piece of dough cut. There is also a pretzel shape drawn on the counter top that the baker uses to ensure that their pretzel, once twisted, matches all the others ready to be baked. It doesn’t matter if you are in LA or New York, every Auntie Anne’s Pretzel looks and tastes the same due to these measuring lines.

While making pretzels and determining the doctrine of Scripture are two entirely different things, they do share this idea of using a measuring line to determine consistency, create uniformity, identify mistakes, and define authenticity. The measuring line to identify, determine, and define Holy Scripture is called the canon of Scripture.

The Formation of the Canon

The canon of Scripture is the collection of writings that has been recognized as having divine authority over matters of faith and doctrine for the Church. Canon comes from two words meaning “a rule” or “measuring rod” (the Hebrew word qaneh and the Greek word kanon). Today, the canon of Scripture includes 66 books – the 39 books of the Hebrew Scriptures and the 27 books of the New Testament.  The canon of the Hebrew Scriptures was largely in place by the time of Christ. These texts written between the fifteenth and fifth century B.C. are traditionally divided into three sections: Torah (the Law – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers), Nevi’im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings). Jesus and the writers of the New Testament “quote Old testament passages almost 300 times, and every quote is from the thirty-nine books that have been handed down to us.” 1

The 27 books of the New Testament canon were not finalized until the 4th century but the process of canonization started almost immediately as the church began. By the end of the 2nd century, Christians, facing persecution and requirement to burn their holy scriptures, had already begun making lists of writings that they considered authoritative and beneficial for church doctrines and practices. Books that were considered authoritative were believed to have been divinely inspired, written by Apostles or their companions, handed down and received by the church. 2

Scholar F.F. Bruce makes clear that these books are not considered authoritative because they are recognized as part of this canon, they are considered in the canon because they were recognized as divinely inspired by God and supremely authoritative for the Church.

One thing must be emphatically stated. The New Testament books did not become authoritative for the Church because they were formally included in a canonical list; on the contrary, the Church included them in her canon because she already regarded them as divinely inspired, recognizing their innate worth and generally apostolic authority, direct or indirect. The first ecclesiastical councils to classify the canonical books were both held in North Africa—at Hippo Regius in 393 and at Carthage in 397—but what these councils did was not to impose something new upon the Christian communities but to codify what was already the general practice of those communities. 3

The Doctrine of Scripture

While the church was able to experience growth in the face of external persecutions from Rome it was the internal fight against heresies that most threatened to tear the church apart. The Doctrine of Scripture was born out of this need to circle the wagons, not to protect the church from state sanctioned violence but, to circle the church around the truth of the Gospel and the true practices of God’s people. According to William J. Bennett, “the church’s settlement of what books were to be included in the New Testament canon proved to be one of the most powerful instruments for refuting heresy.” 4

Irenaeus, the first to coin the phrases Old Testament and New Testament, wrote a scathing description of the damage that heretics were doing and would continue to do to the church if left unchecked: “By transferring passages, and dressing them up anew, and making one thing out of another, they succeed in deluding many through their wickedness and in adapting the oracles of the Lord to their opinions.” 5

Whether it was the Gnostics enticing disciples to seek out the “secret knowledge” of the spiritual world or Marcion’s teaching that the OT God was not, could not be the Father of the NT Jesus and throwing out the OT altogether, these heresies and others like them were put down, largely in part, due to the formalization and recognition of the Doctrine of Scripture.


Translation played important part in the canonization of scripture starting with the original languages that scriptures are written in. Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek are common languages of the people the scriptures are written by and to which they are directed. The Septuagint sought to bring the Hebrew scriptures to the Greek speaking world, thus giving access to the foundation of Christianity to Gentile delivers outside of the Hebrew people.  One of the best examples in antiquity of how Greek and Hebrew translations can aid in the reading and understanding of the texts in their original languages stands Origen’s Hexpola:

Origen compiled the entire Old Testament and laid out in six columns (a) the original Hebrew text of the Old Testament; (b) the Hebrew language redone phonetically in Greek, so that readers of Greek could better comprehend Hebrew sounds, even if they didn’t read the language; and (c) four different translations of the Old Testament in Greek, including the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament). 6

The theologian and historian Jerome went a step further than the Septuagint and translated scriptures into Latin, the common language of his time. This idea of translations taking a foreign language and bringing it to the people in a way that it can be understood and read leads directly into the significance of interpretation.


Once the Scriptures can be read, they must be synthesized into understanding and then applied to the lives of God’s people. Interpretation has played a huge role in, not just the canonization of which books to include in Holy Scriptures, but the “canonization” of church doctrines and practices. Mark Noll, in speaking about the history of interpretation says that “we may view the Christian past like a gigantic seminar where trusted friends, who have labored long to understand the Scriptures, hold forth in various corners of the room.” 7

Interpretations that have stood the test of time and impact the church today such as the Nicene Creed, discourses in Trinitarian theology, and the nature of Christ can be understood largely due to the work of those in early church history seeking to give God’s people the clearest understanding of God’s Word and Will. Many interpretations though failed to catch on, not because they were unpopular, but because they were weighed by the interpretive church community and found wanting. Heretics such as Marcion, Aries, and the Gnostics along with heresies such as the belief that Jesus had a human body and a lower soul but a divine mind (Apollinarism) were weeded out by the church and the church is, arguably, better for it. Noll sums up the great inheritance and gift we have received for these early interpreters saying:

If a contemporary believer wants to know the will of God as revealed in Scripture on any of these matters, or on thousands more, it is certainly prudent to study the Bible carefully for oneself. But it is just as prudent to look for help, to realize that the question I am bringing to Scripture has doubtless been asked before and will have been addressed by others who were at least as saintly as I am, at least as patient in pondering the written Word, and at least as knowledgeable about the human heart. 8

The Church universal owes a great deal to the early church and those who sacrificed time, talent, treasure, and their lives in order to identify, preserve, translate, and interpret Scripture. May we never think that we have reached the end of this process because generations, potentially millennia from now, will rely on how diligently and faithfully we undertake this responsibility.

1. Rick Cornish. 5 Minute Theologian: Maximum Truth in Minimum Time (p. 63). NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO. 2004. Cornish also goes on to use the extra biblical witness of the Dead Seas Scrolls to highlight that the canon of the OT was in place before Christ saying, “Likewise, many of the five hundred Dead Sea Scrolls are commentaries and they comment only on books in our canon.”
2. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.1.1-2.
3. F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1981), 22.
4. Bennett, William J. Tried by Fire: The Story of Christianity’s First Thousand Years (p. 35). Thomas Nelson.
5. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.8.
6. Bennett, William J. Tried by Fire: The Story of Christianity’s First Thousand Years (p. 77). Thomas Nelson.
7. Noll, Mark A. (2012-07-01). Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity (p. 6). Baker Publishing Group.
8. Ibid.

NEXT: Identify with Jesus

Earlier this month I started a new sermon series entitled, NEXT: Taking Your Next Steps in Faith. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus gives us the goal of Spiritual Growth when he says that we are to increase in our Love for God and our love for Others. Next Steps help us grow in our love for God and others by giving us the opportunity to put our faith into practice by following or obeying what he is calling us to do.

In each week, I have had a specific agenda for those listening to my words.

In week one, I was clear that I wanted us to take the next step to CONNECT WITH A CHURCH. A church isn’t a building or an address in Google Maps. A church is a group of people who seek out God together, live together, and work together in order to bring glory to Jesus Christ. Connecting to a church doesn’t mean your growth is automatic or that growth only happens within the four walls of the church. However, when you CONNECT with a group of disciples you are putting yourself in an environment where you can grow in RELATIONSHIP with Jesus Christ, your FRIENDSHIP with God’s people, and your INFLUENCE with those who are far from God.

The following week I my agenda was to get all of us to ENGAGE WITH GOD’S WORD. According to Move: What 100 Churches Reveal About Spiritual Growth (Hardback, Kindle), the number one catalyst for spiritual growth whether you’ve been a Christian for 5 minutes or 50 years is reflecting on Scripture or ENGAGING with God’s Word. That looks a little different than simply reading your Bible everyday. To ENGAGE encompassing READING the Word, THINKING about what God is saying to us, PRAYING that God will reveal himself and his will to us, and LIVING out what you see God calling you to.

This week, I want those who have not yet been baptized to take that next step to privately and publicly IDENTIFY their lives with Jesus Christ through being BAPTIZED.

Baptism can be an emotional topic to discuss because everyone has different opinions and traditions depending on how they grew up. My motivation isn’t to teach on how everyone else is wrong or misguided. I have one goal and that is to invite and challenge those who have not yet been baptized to do so. 

There are three things that I want to avoid with this week’s message on Baptism:

  1. I don’t want to cause conflict. There was a time in my life when I thought I knew everything there was to say about baptism. At our Christian high school, I can remember starting quite a few arguments with my classmates around this subject. “The Bible told you to do it, you should do it.” was my line and I delivered it with all the care and concern of General Rommel taking North Africa. I was too bombastic and failed to understand that we all come to this topic with our own personal histories. The last thing that I want to do is create conflict around what is, by far and away, the best way to IDENTIFY yourself with the message and person of Jesus Christ.
  2. I don’t want to cause pain. Typically what happens when we begin to talk about baptism is that some pain and angst begins to well up inside of us when we think about friends and family members- primarily those whom have passed away- that were not baptized. We begin to worry about Uncle Sal or we get hurt because someone suggested that our friend may be downstairs when we believe they are upstairs. When I’m discussing baptism I want those that I’m sharing with to think about their own decision in the here and now. I do not want to speculate about theological positions or postulate on things that I just do not and cannot know.
  3. I don’t want to cause confusion. I want everyone who chooses to IDENTIFY with Jesus Christ through being baptized to be sure of their decision. I don’t want someone to look back and be confused about the reasons why they were baptize or to question their own salvation. Baptism paints a perfect picture of what Jesus did on our behalf and is a beautiful expression of our relationship with him. Just as Jesus died for our sins, we are to die to ourselves and our ways of living life. Jesus as Jesus was buried and in the tomb for three days, so we are buried under the water. Just as Jesus was raised to life again through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit empowers us to live the resurrection life as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

In my past, I am sure that I caused some conflict, pain, and confusion when I have argued about baptism. If you were one of those people, I am truly sorry. I promise this weekend, I will take more care as I discuss this highly emotional topic.

My goal this weekend will be to invite others to IDENTIFY with Jesus through taking the next step and being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

What I’m Thankful For Right Now

As I was studying this morning, God hit me upside the head with Colossians 3:15-17. Paul says,

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

I was struck by how PEACE and THANKFULNESS seem to go hand in hand.

Too often our focus on what we DON’T HAVE or what we DESPERATELY WANT or what SOMEONE ELSE HAS keeps us in a state of discontent and turmoil. Cultivating a heart that is THANKFUL will help us keep our focus on God and not on lesser things.

When I spend more time THANKING God for ALL that he has done on my behalf and ALL that he has blessed me with the less time I have to spend worrying about all that other stuff. Thankfulness paves the way to peace.

I made a quick list of just some of the things I am thankful for right now…

I am thankful that Jesus saved/saves me! (Titus 3:4-7; 1 John 1:7)

I am thankful for my smoking’ hot WIFE who cares for me, encourages me, keeps me in check, and puts up with ALL of my junk. She takes care of our home and is an incredible mother! (Proverbs 31: 10-12; 26-31 really sums it all up)

I am thankful for my incredible SON who is a constant reminder to me what pure joy looks like. That kid PLAYS hard and LOVES deeply. I LOVE THAT KID!!!

I am thankful that we have another BABY on the way that is due in May! Right now, everything looks healthy and progressing the way it should. We had an ultrasound earlier this week and the little guy or girl gave us a great big wave “Hello!” Very, very thankful!

I am thankful for OUR CHURCH and that I have the opportunity to serve, teach, care for, and lead this group of people week in and week out.

I am thankful that I have a TEAMMATE in ministry that I get to work alongside. I love sharing an office with someone who shares my vision for ministry and is excited about what God is doing in and through this community.

I am thankful for the ability to READ and LEARN. This is no small thing. I am often struck by how incredibly blessed I am to have- not just the opportunity to read- the ABILITY to read and comprehend things. I don’t know where I’d be without the gift of learning.

I am thankful for MUSIC. Again, no small thing. I never want to take for granted some of the pleasures that God has given me. I love listening to, talking about, and pretty much everything else about music. Thank you for U2 and Fender and iPods and bass and Beats by Dre headphones and guitar licks and lyrics and iTunes and … you get the point.

So here’s the challenge for you… Make your own list. Take some time today to tell God “thank you” for the gifts and blessings in your life.


Why We Decided To Sell My Car

Next month, my wife and I will celebrate our 10th anniversary. In the last decade we have moved from Arkansas to Alabama and then to Texas. We have lived in 1 apartment and 3 houses. I have served as a Campus Minister, a Youth and Family Minister, and now as a Lead Minister. We have a beautiful son and a wonderful life. We have faced challenges and we have met them head on because of the grace afforded us from our Heavenly Father and our love in Jesus Christ. Life is good and we give thanks everyday for the blessings we have received. However, lately we have been feeling a tug, a challenge, from God to step out and risk for His glory.

Last week, we decided to take a giant leap of faith based on something we felt God was calling us to do.

We sold my car.

We really want to be in a position where we can GIVE more and SAVE more. It was a tough decision (I loved that car!!!) but we know it was the right one. If you compared the average debt that each American family carries to being dipped in honey and thrown into a pit of quicksand, our debt would be more like having peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth. We don’t have a lot but we are tired of feeling stuck.

On Thursday night, we gathered together with some of the people from our church body and watched Dave Ramsey deliver a challenging message on the people of God turning the economy around by getting their personal economies in order. The part that stuck with me was when Dave asked us to imagine what life would look like if God’s people handled money according to God’s ways. My blood began pumping as he said, “the Debt Rate would plummet, Savings would grow, Employees would work hard as if working for the Lord, Employers would be shepherds of their people, and marriages would be saved.”

That’s not even the best part! If God’s people began handling money in a way that glorifies God- The Gospel will spread! People will want to know why we live differently. They will wonder why we give gladly. They will see how we bless others and want to know why.

When we got home from that night. My wife looked at me and I looked at her. I knew what she was going to say because I had felt it too. We knew that in order to really begin handling our money in the way God wanted us to that we would have to make a few sacrifices. My car had to be the first to go.

It is a bold step for sure. We are still in the process of working out our driving schedule and that is also sure to change when school starts back. We have taken a step of faith and we are trusting God to carry us through.

This fall I am teaching another  Financial Peace University for our church. I’m the first to admit that I R Stupid when it come to handling my money. My wife is the Nerd and I am most definitely the free spirit. The last time we participated in FPU we had a blast. The class really allowed us to open up and talk freely about a subject that typically breeds fighting in most marriages. I can’t wait to take another group of men and women through this life changing course.

My encouragement for you is that you too begin to see out God’s desires for your finances. Most of us are in our current financial situations because some one in our families failed to handle money properly. Change your family tree and get your financial house in order. Not so you can get that new 100″ flat screen.

Get your finances in order so you can GIVE more and SAVE more so you can BLESS more. That’s the story I want to tell my grandkids. What about you?

Bring Me a Harpist!

This weekend I’ll be preaching in 2Kings 3 as we continue in our UNSTOPPABLE series.

In ch 3, there is a fascinating story about the King of Judah, Israel, and Edom coming together to make war against the King of Moab, who has decided that he no longer wants to pay tribute to Judah. The political intrigue in this whole scene rivals anything out of Egypt or Lybia on CNN today. The 3 kings feel God is calling them to make war on Moab but they now find themselves, their armies, and their provisions marching circles in the desert. They are tired and severely dehydrated. They decide to seek God’s counsel (finally) by speaking to Elisha.

I won’t spend any time on this on Sunday, but there is something in v. 15 that captured my attention and made me stop and think.

2Kings 3:15 ESV
“But now bring me a musician.” While the musician was playing, the hand of the LORD came on Elisha.

How cool is that? Music aided in Elisha’s communication with the LORD. Warren Wiersbe writes, “The music of the harpist brought quietness to the prophet’s mind and heart and helped to facilitate his communion with the Lord.”

I can definitely relate to that. Music and song help me connect with God too. When I study or when I need to get my mind and heart right, I often do so through music. You can often find me singing alone at my desk early Monday mornings before I open up my Bible. Listening to music through my headphones while I read different books often helps me shut out unnecessary distractions like my cell phone. I love listening to Bethoveen’s 6th and 9th symphonies to put me in the right frame of mind or in the background while I write. Lots of great mediation on lessons, classes, and discussions have happened on long car rides listening to music.

I would have loved to have been there while the harpist played and Elisha communicated with God. Wouldn’t you like to know which Psalm Elisha liked to listen to?

How about you? Is there any song or music that helps put you in a place physically, cognitively or spiritually where you are more ready to commune with God?

Leadership Tuesday

Each Tuesday, I’ll be posting thoughts, resources, and challenges to help develop our Leadership muscles. Today I wanted to share with you some of the questions I began wrestling with after reading Philippians yesterday.

As I read, I noticed that Paul is pleading with the church in Philippi to live in unity, have one mind, and to be singular in focus. As leaders, Paul is speaking directly to us. If you have some time today, please read Philippians before you read the rest of this post.

Here are 9 Leadership Questions that we each need to think about and pray through if we are going to be all that God desires us to be:

1) Am I praying with joy for those I lead? Philippians 1:3-5 – Paul prays with joy for those he considered partners in the gospel. You and I have to do the same if we want to be a true spiritual leaders of the people God has entrusted us with.

2) Am I praying for an increase of love and knowledge and depth in my own life and in the lives of those I lead? Philippians 1:9-11

3) Am I living in such a way that those closest to me will know that whatever happens to me- good or bad- Jesus Christ will be praised? Philippians 1:12-26

4) Am I looking to Jesus as my model of service and unity or am I simply trying to keep everyone around me happy and cordial? Philippians 2:1-4 – Jesus shows us what love looks like in public.

5) What am I complaining about? Philippians 2:14-16 – If we want to be different than the world around us, let’s start by putting the KIBOSH on complaining. In Inception, Leo DiCaprio’s character has a great line where he tells his team that he believes “positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time.” As a leader I have the responsibility to serve as an ANTIBODY within my sphere of influence to STOP INFECTION and DECAY (complaining, divisiveness) IMMEDIATELY. This starts with stopping the infection in myself.

6) Am I committed to the mission of following Jesus? Philippians 3:7-11 – As I read this passage I was reminded of Dallas Willard’s quote about THE COST OF NON-DISCIPLESHIP, He says, “Nondiscipleship costs abiding peace, a life penetrated throughout by love, faith that sees everything in the light of God’s overriding governance for good, hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging of circumstances, power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil. In short, it costs exactly the abundance of life Jesus said he came to bring (John 10:10)” Failing to commit to Jesus is a bigger risk than following Him.

7) What am I holding on to in my past that is keeping me from experiencing NEW LIFE in Jesus? Philippians 3:12-14 – What ever this is, I must lay it down and move on toward who Jesus is call me to be.

8. What is something I can rejoice in today, right now? Philippians 4:4-6 – One thing that you can rejoice in is that what ever you are worried about- that thing that kept you up all night- you can take that to the Father in prayer. Let this truth give you peace and guard your hearts and minds. Praise Jesus!

9) Do I spend more time thinking about these things or do I spend more time focused on the junk that the world sends my way? Philippians 4:8-9 – Last week, the world spent too much time praising, laughing with/at, and deconstructing Charlie Sheen. Admit it, you gawked at the train wreck. Your neck got sore from staring at the flaming wreckage. Mine did too. This week, let’s do the opposite. Let’s spend time meditating on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.

Thanks to Perry Noble for inspiring today’s post with his 21 Questions Leaders MUST Wrestle With from the Book of James.

A Prayer for Small Groups

One of my go-to ministry resource sites is Simply Youth Ministry. Their stuff is so great and highly customizable that I find myself going back to them time and time again. In my inbox this morning I saw their weekly training email and I found a wonderful blessing: A Prayer for Small Groups. I wanted to share this with everyone because I think it is a wonderful prayer and reminder that discipleship happens when a small group of believers gather together to “do life together” in the presence of Almighty God. In these small groups, God is glorified, faith is fostered, people are cared for, and the Church marches on!

A Prayer for Small Groups
by Kevin Mahaffy, Jr.

Father, today as our small group meets
I pray that each person will feel your heartbeat
May they know they are special, they’re cared for, they’re loved
Your kingdom come, on earth as above

Our time together, though not long only short
May it seed true communion with You in our hearts
Help us see Your image inside of each other
Teach us what it means to truly love one another

Away from the big, the loud, the flash
Just a few of us here to share and to laugh
To discuss Your Word, to share and go deeper
To talk real life and be our brother’s keeper

Praying for one another as we journey through life
May we encourage each other to reflect Your light
Let us always be inclusive, welcoming, warm
A safe place for all in the midst of life’s storms

Lord we all come from a myriad of places
Give us wisdom and kindness and grace and patience
Thank you for unity in the midst of diversity
Make us one in Christ, true Christian community

Bless those abundantly who have opened their home
Upon their house, God we pray Your Shalom
May it be filled with laughter, with joy, and with vision
In return for their giving, God we pray Your provision

And let us, O Lord, never ever forget
That there’s someone else out there who has yet to connect
Your eyes and your mouth to see and invite
That not one, O Lord, would be alone in the fight

It’s a mystery to me why they seem to be Your preference
But amazingly in the end small groups make a great big difference
Life on life, Jesus you modeled it back then
So I’ll do the same, in Jesus name, Amen.

Matt Chandler’s Philippians Top 10

In this blog post from The Resurgance Matt Chandler writes the top 10 reasons he wanted to teach on the book of Philippians. Gotta love this list.

1) How the church began. Acts 16: Lydia is a wealthy Asian (Thyatira); the slave girl is an oppressed Greek, and the jailer was a middle class Roman. All were transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love the diversity of that cast.

2) The book teaches that the gospel advances regardless of circumstance (Phil. 1:12-18). In an age where it is not uncommon to hear that you can put God into your debt by behaving, I thought this was extremely important.

3) Paul’s cry “To live is Christ and die is gain!” How could he not say that! Lydia was wealthy, religious, and empty; the slave girl was bitter, oppressed, and angry; and the Roman jailer was indifferent and cruel. All were lost in their lives. What else would you live for?

4) The book clearly teaches humility in the life of a believer. We can’t hear that topic enough (Philippians 2).

5) Paul ferociously outlines the reasons to pursue Christ (Phil. 3:1-11).

6) Then, he follows it up by teaching how to pursue Christ (Phil. 3:12-21).

7) Chapter 4 talks about what the heart and mind of a man of God look like. This is invaluable information as there seems to be some confusion on this matter.

8) Contentment is a gift more precious than jewels (Phil. 4:10-19).

9) It gave me a chance to remind everyone that Philippians 4:13 isn’t about playing sports, making the team, or being successful in business.

10) Because if I can help us be “the lights of this world holding fast to the word of life” I would humbly and gladly spend my life doing so.