Discussion-based Lessons

Discussion-based lessons have groups talking and changing. We are changed more by what we say than what we hear. "Instead SPEAKING the truth (not just hearing the truth) we will grow." Ephesians 4.15 https://www.youtube.com/embed/lduldVUA8-4

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Sermon-based small groups

Sermon-based groups are all the rage these days. I see it as the #2 trend in church life in this decade. (#1 is the multi-site church.) The leading spokesman for sermon-based groups is Larry Osborne. He says, “By far the most powerful tool for keeping our back door...

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The problem of evil

Non-Christians often raise the question of how an all-powerful God who is altogether good can allow evil and suffering. The understanding that God created man in His image with a will that allows a meaningful response explains the existence of evil in a world ruled by...

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What a difference good questions make!

There is a gigantic difference between the person who has no questions to help him/her process situations and the person who has profound questions available. Here are a few of the differences: WITHOUT PROFOUND QUESTIONS: Shallow answers WITH PROFOUND QUESTIONS:...

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John Maxwell on asking questions

If you want to be successful and reach your leadership potential, you need to embrace asking questions as a lifestyle. Here’s why: You Only Get Answers to the Questions You Ask Have you ever failed to ask a question because you thought it might be dumb? I have! Too...

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An unpopular subject

Sin is an unpopular subject, and Christians are often criticized for going on about it too much. But they only do so because they are realists. Sin is not a convenient invention of church ministers to keep them in their job; it is a fact of human experience. The...

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Ice cream and Evangelism

Donald McGavran, the father of the modern Church Growth Movement laid the foundation for all church growth thinking that was to follow. His message could be summarized, in part, by saying, "Most of the barriers to the Gospel are not theological, they are social."(1)...

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Jesus’ uniqueness

Some years ago I received a letter from a young man I knew slightly. ‘I have just made a great discovery,’ he wrote. ‘Almighty God had two sons. Jesus Christ was the first; I am the second.’ I glanced at the address at the top of his letter. He was writing from a...

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Jesus’ most striking feature

The most striking feature of the teaching of Jesus is that he was constantly talking about himself. It is true that he said a great deal about the fatherhood of God and the kingdom of God. But then he added that he is the Father’s ‘Son’, and that he himself had come...

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Basic Christianity

‘In the beginning God.’ The first four words of the Bible are more than a way of launching the story of creation or introducing the book of Genesis. They supply the key which opens our understanding to the Bible as a whole. They tell us that the religion of the Bible...

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Joy and relationships

I hope it is plain so far that if you come to God dutifully, offering Him the reward of your fellowship instead of thirsting after the reward of His, then you exalt yourself above God as His benefactor and belittle Him as a needy beneficiary. That is evil. The only...

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Joy is commanded

The Scriptures command joy, hope, fear, peace, grief, desire, tenderheartedness, brokenness and contrition, gratitude, lowliness, etc. Therefore Christian Hedonism is not making too much of emotion when it says that being satisfied in God is our calling and duty. It...

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God is most glorified in us…

If you get anything, get this. I learned it from Jonathan Edwards, C. S. Lewis, and, most importantly, from the apostle Paul. Edwards was the greatest pastor-theologian that America has ever produced. He wrote a book in 1755 called The End for Which God Created the...

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The Dangerous Duty of Delight

So if Christian Hedonism is old-fashioned, why is it so controversial? One reason is that it insists that joy is not just the spin-off of obedience to God, but part of obedience. It seems as though people are willing to let joy be a by-product of our relationship to...

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God loves the sound of your voice.

For that reason “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6). God loves the sound of your voice. Always. With this verse the apostle calls us to take action against...

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How I Solved Group Life’s Two Biggest Problems

When I was a Group Pastor I had two problems I couldn’t get enough leaders Many of the leaders I did have were boring Great groups were great—really great. But, a lot of groups were not great. And I struggled to create new groups because I couldn’t get leaders. I...

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Contagious Calm

Disaster was as close as the press of a red button. Four Russian submarines patrolled the Florida coast. US warships had dropped depth charges. The Russian captain was stressed, trigger-happy, and ready to destroy a few American cities. Each sub was armed with a...

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Guilt and anxiety

Guilt came first. Anxiety came in tow. Guilt drove the truck, but anxiety bounced in the flatbed. Adam and Eve didn’t know how to process their failure. Neither do we. But still we try. We don’t duck into the bushes. We have more sophisticated ways to deal with our...

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Learning to Rejoice

If anyone had reason to be anxious, it was he. Let your imagination transport you two thousand years back in time. Envision an old man as he gazes out the window of a Roman prison. Paul is about sixty years old, thirty years a Christian, and there is scarcely a...

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Anxiety kills

Anxiety is trepidation. It’s a suspicion, an apprehension. Life in a minor key with major concerns. Perpetually on the pirate ship’s plank. You’re part Chicken Little and part Eeyore. The sky is falling, and it’s falling disproportionately on you. As a result you are...

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Anxious for nothing

When mariners describe a tempest that no sailor can escape, they call it a perfect storm. Not perfect in the sense of ideal, but perfect in the sense of combining factors. All the elements, such as hurricane-force winds plus a cold front plus a downpour of rain, work...

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You got to believe!

According to your faith it will be done for you. Whether you think you can, or think you can't, either way you are right. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQg-RQRUn5s

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Risk

"Jesus promised his followers three things: They would be entirely fearless, absurdly happy, and always in trouble." - Marty Babcock

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Through a Glass Darkly

Is it possible that two ideas that seem contradictory can both be true? Can it be that God is BOTH three and one? If this is true that we are deep into heresy if we see Him as either three OR one. Isn’t it true that Jesus was both God and man? Aren’t we right in...

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The Tyranny of the Urgent

Included in the Basics for Christian Living with permission. Original by Charles E. Hummel Have you ever wished for a thirty-hour day? Surely this extra time would relieve the tremendous pressure under which we live. Our lives leave a trail of unfinished tasks....

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Overcome evil with good

We are to put off the old life and put on the new. Put off complaining and put on gratitude. This is the principle of replacement. https://youtu.be/7Vq3LKfAb0U

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An ominous warning

Lloyd Ogilvie, now chaplain of the U.S. Senate, tells a story from his student days about the memorable experience of sailing on the Queen Mary from New York to Southampton. He recalls that she was a magnificent ship. Though his student’s budget put him on deck Double...

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Encourage your people to memorize Scripture

Consistently encourage your folks to memorize Scripture. Nothing will drive steel into the soul of your people like Scripture memory. Scripture memory will keep you from sin. “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Quoting Scripture is...

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Courage does not panic; it prays.

Even though life expectancy has doubled and disease research is at an all-time high, you’d think the bubonic plague was raging in the streets. Reporter Bob Garfield tracked health articles in major publications and discovered that, among other health issues,    59...

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God outside the box

Don’t we need to know the transfigured Christ? One who spits holy fires? Who convenes and commands historical figures? Who occupies the loftiest perch and wears the only true crown of the universe, God’s beloved Son? One who takes friends to Mount Hermon’s peak so...

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When you are afraid

So, see to it that you are not alarmed (Matt. 24:6 NIV). “See to it . . . ” Bosses and teachers are known to use that phrase. “See to it that you fill out the reports.” Or “Your essay is due tomorrow. See to it that you finish your work.” The words call for additional...

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What to do with your doubts

To one degree or another we all venture into the valley. At one point or another we all need a plan to escape it. May I share mine? Those Sunday morning sessions of second-guessing dissipate quickly these days thanks to a small masterpiece, a wellspring of faith...

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Ordering life the way we order gourmet coffee

If only we could order life the way we order gourmet coffee. Wouldn’t you love to mix and match the ingredients of your future? “Give me a tall, extra-hot cup of adventure, cut the dangers, with two shots of good health.” “A decaf brew of longevity, please, with a...

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Die bravely

Jesus grants courage for the final passage. He did for Charles Lindbergh, the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. When the pilot discovered he had terminal cancer, he and his wife went to spend their final days at his Hawaiian home. He engaged a...

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Don’t worry about your life

During the economic collapse of October 2008, a Stamford, Connecticut, man threatened to blow up a bank. When he lost $500,000 of his $2,000,000 portfolio, he planned to bring a gun into the facility and take the lives of innocent people if necessary. As if a shooting...

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Prayer is the practice of sitting calmly in God’s lap

My father let me climb onto his lap . . . when he drove! He’d be arrested for doing so today. But half a century ago no one cared. Especially in a flat-as-a-skillet West Texas oil field, where rabbits outnumber people. Who cares if little Max sits on Dad’s lap as he...

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Faithful in obscurity

The team needs more linesmen than quarterbacks. The company needs more cashiers than CEOs. The church needs more staff members, more deacons, and more Sunday School teachers, and more preschool workers than it  needs Senior pastors. The kingdom of God needs more...

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Where to find courage

Courage emerges, not from increased police security, but from enhanced spiritual maturity. Martin Luther King exemplified this. He chose not to fear those who meant him harm. On April 3, 1968, he spent hours in a plane, waiting on the tarmac, due to bomb threats. When...

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Jesus is in your storm

If you will receive Him in the middle of your contradictions and in your trick bag, He can take a storm and turn it into peace. When Jesus shows up in your messed-up situation, things change. When Jesus shows up in your stressed-filled, jacked-up scenario, ground gets...

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What is a parent to do?

Some years ago I witnessed a father taking this priority seriously during a Sunday morning worship service. As we took communion, I heard a small boy asking, “What’s that, Daddy?” The father explained the meaning of the bread and then offered a prayer. The boy was...

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Jesus is walking on top of their problem

But when you feel like all is lost, that is the time to open your eyes the widest. You never know what you might see on a dark night. As we discovered when we read through the passage earlier, Jesus came to the disciples walking on the waves at night. Jesus’ solution...

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The God of the Extraordinary

How do you know when God is ready to break through your rock-and-a-hard-place situation? He will invade your ordinary with something extraordinary. He will create a scenario that doesn’t make sense. When God creates a scenario that doesn’t make sense, it is not...

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Eight steps to worrying less than you do

Here are eight worry-stoppers to expand your tally: Pray, first. Don’t pace up and down the floors of the waiting room; pray for a successful surgery. Don’t bemoan the collapse of an investment; ask God to help you. Don’t join the chorus of co-workers who complain...

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PRAYING ACCORDING TO OUR LEGAL RIGHTS

One of the most important things that we can do as Christians is to pray in line with our legal rights. But we often don’t do this because we misunderstand what prayer is. Prayer is not simply talking to God. Rather, prayer is asserting earthly permission for heavenly...

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Are you afraid of disappointing God?

To sin is to disregard God, ignore his teachings, deny his blessings. Sin is “God-less” living, centering life on the center letter of the word sIn. The sinner’s life is me-focused, not God-focused. Wasn’t this the choice of Adam and Eve? Prior to their sin they...

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Some things God doesn’t know

Yet while God knows everything actual and potential, we need to remember that God does not necessarily know everything experiential. Now wait, before you close this book and run off to send me a long, heated e-mail about what I just said, track with me a bit. For...

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Do you matter?

Do we matter? We fear we don’t. We fear nothingness, insignificance. We fear evaporation. We fear that in the last tabulation we make no contribution to the final sum. We fear coming and going and no one knowing. That’s why it bothers us when a friend forgets to call...

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Between a rock and a hard place

A good friend of mine is an assistant football coach for the University of Texas, and he’ll call me during all hours of the day or night when he’s facing one of these trials. He calls me to talk through his trial, or as he puts it, the “trick bag.” In fact, he calls...

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Fear never wrote a symphony

Fear never wrote a symphony or poem, negotiated a peace treaty, or cured a disease. Fear never pulled a family out of poverty or a country out of bigotry. Fear never saved a marriage or a business. Courage did that. Faith did that. People who refused to consult or...

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A transformational church gives itself away

I have just released a new Bible study called The Case for Antioch, based on Jeff Iorg's book by the same title. The big idea of this study is to challenge your people to be a church like the Antioch church. Here is an excerpt: God's economy for individuals and...

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A lesson from Helen Keller on Obedience

IF YOU’VE EVER SEEN THE MIRACLE WORKER, the story of Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan, you well remember the dining room scene. Helen had long been allowed at mealtime to paw through the serving dishes, steal from others’ plates, and eat with her fingers....

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A transformational church follows strong leaders.

Leadership has been the buzzword in the past twenty years for shaping corporate culture. Joseph Rost compiled a major study of the use of the word leadership in publications across all disciplines in the United States in the twentieth century. In publications...

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Woe is me!

The cry of Isaiah sounds strange to the modern ear. It is rare that we hear people today use the word woe. Since this word is old-fashioned and archaic, some modern translators have preferred to substitute another word in its place. That is a serious mistake. The word...

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Conflict Management

A transformational church handles conflict effectively. Big myth: strong, healthy churches are always one big, happy family. They are devoid of conflict, always working together without tension or frustration toward mutually satisfying goals. In a dream world, healthy...

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Why people stop attending church

A recent survey of ex-church members revealed that the main reason they stopped going to church was that they found it boring. It is difficult for many people to find worship a thrilling and moving experience. We note here, when God appeared in the temple, the doors...

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Doctrinal Convictions

A transformational church maintains doctrinal integrity. Doctrine can be a polarizing word. It sounds dry and boring to some, divisive and legalistic to others. Churches sometimes soften their doctrinal positions, or at least mute their intensity, to lessen this...

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Two mistakes to avoid in how we see God

It is possible to make two mistakes in our thoughts about God. They correspond to the mistakes we can make in our thoughts about ourselves—either not needing forgiveness, or being too bad to be forgiven. We can think of God as so Holy, so transcendent, so “other,”...

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A Disciple-Making Community

I have just released a new Bible study called The Case for Antioch, based on Jeff Iorg's book by the same title. The big idea of this study is to challenge your people to be a church like the Antioch church. Here is an excerpt: A transformational church changes lives....

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Holy, holy, holy

The significance of the repetition of the word holy can be easily missed. It represents a peculiar literary device that is found in Hebrew forms of literature, especially in poetry. The repetition is a form of emphasis. When we want to emphasize the importance of...

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An Entrepreneurial Mind-Set

I have just released a new Bible study called The Case for Antioch, based on Jeff Iorg's book by the same title. The big idea of this study is to challenge your people to be a church like the Antioch church. Here is an excerpt: A transformational church innovates to...

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What does “holy” mean?

If you ask ten different people at church what the word holy means, you’ll probably get ten different answers. It’s important to understand the definition, though, because that word is going to be a big part of our future. Revelation 4:8 tells us that four creatures...

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What is a seraphim?

The seraphim are not sinful men burdened with impure hearts. Yet as angelic beings they are still creatures, and even in their lofty status as consorts of the heavenly host it is necessary for them to shield their eyes from a direct gaze on the face of God. They are...

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Inviting people just got easier

"82 percent of the unchurched are at least “some what likely” to attend church if they are invited. Perhaps we need to pause on this response. Perhaps we need to restate it: More than eight out of ten of the unchurched said they would come to church if they were...

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Why is LORD all caps?

Notice how in Isaiah 6:1 the word Lord is printed. It begins with a capital letter and then is finished with lowercase letters. This stands in contrast with the word LORD that occurs later in the text and frequently in Scripture. Sometimes the word Lord appears in all...

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The victory that is our is Christ

When our family lived in Florida, we lived near the Indian River, which is a saltwater lagoon that stretches many miles up and down the east coast of Florida. It is a very beautiful body of water that is perfect for sailing. In the evenings, it was my joy to come...

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Hesed: the unmerited and generous favor of God

I learned today that the word “lovingkindness” is translated from the Hebrew word “hesed,” which is used often in the Old Testament to signify God’s covenant, steadfast love for me. In the Psalms (and this is true in Psalm 92) hesed is associated with the call to...

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The missing miracle

Ours is a supernatural faith built around three personal miracles. Our faith commences with a miracle. We come into the kingdom by a miraculous new birth (John 3:3). Our salvation concludes with a miracle. At our Lord's coming we will be made like him (1 John 3:2)....

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Have you been too sinful for God to love?

The psalmists reminded themselves of God’s steadfast love over and over again. It helped them know that they could enter his house boldly (Ps. 5:7) and that they could rejoice in salvation and sing because he had “dealt bountifully” with them (Ps. 13:5–6). When David...

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Kingdom authority brings freedom

Our only hope is in discovering the Kingdom Authority that Jesus offers his children. I'm not talking about mere power, but authority. Many Christians today talk about having the power to overcome evil. That's not enough. Don't confuse authority with power. Jesus made...

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Feed your fears, and your faith will starve.

I didn’t like being sent to the principal’s office as a kid. I don’t like being sent to the doctor’s office as a patient. But I went in, took a seat, and quickly noticed the doctor’s abundant harvest of diplomas. They were everywhere, from everywhere. One degree from...

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What to do if you don’t feel God loves you

My mercy is for you. It pulls you on even when the world tries to tell you that your life doesn’t matter. When the enemy works to make you feel unloved, My mercy becomes your heart’s loving refuge. It grows inside you so you don’t ever have to worry that I am...

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It’s time for some good news!

The good news is that you have glorious Kingdom Authority over this trinity of evil. First Peter 5:8-10 promises God will make us strong, firm, and steadfast against the ploys of Satan: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion,...

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Is it possible to deplete God’s love

Maybe you think it is possible to deplete his love for you. He replies that the “earth is full” of it (Ps. 33:5). We can know that our sins won’t overwhelm his love because he loves to “adorn” the humble with salvation (Ps. 149:4). When we think our sins are just too...

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Satan your infernal foe

The mastermind who orchestrates this whole conspiracy is Satan himself. He is the dark prince. Jesus called him “the prince of this world” (John 14:30). The apostle Paul called him “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4). Satan is a consummate liar, and he is spiritually...

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How is God’s love different from human love?

In the Old Testament, that rich word hesed, which the ESV translates “steadfast love,” carries a connotation not only of love but also of strength and steadfastness. Our love can become sentimental, a sweet but fleeting thought on a Valentine or butterflies in the...

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The flesh in this internal foe

We must also come to grips with an enemy inside ourselves that the Scripture calls the flesh. The description of the flesh is not a pretty picture: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry,...

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What is meant by God’s unfailing love?

Combining these ideas of intensity and relationship, it is plain to see that when God shows His chesed in a covenant relationship, His grace is firm, persistent, and steadfast. To substantiate this, Snaith has shown that out of forty-three cases when chesed is linked...

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Kingdom Authority

When you were born again, you were born to win! With your new birth came Kingdom Authority that fitted you for victory. Kingdom Authority is the God-given mandate of Christians to exercise control over the world in the name of Jesus and under His oversight. The Bible...

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An inviting campaign

82% of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if invited. This according to Dr. Thom Rainer's book The Unchurched Next Door. There is more. Only 2% of church going people ever invite someone to church in a given year. Seven out of ten unchurched...

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Hesed

We can preach with such freedom because we know the One who wrote the story. In the Old Testament, the character of God is profiled for us in the multiplied occurrences of the description of God as the God of hesed and ‘emet. Hesed means “lovingkindness”—love and...

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Making discipleship automatic

We always want to study the Bible with a view to application. We always want to ask, “So what?” We want to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. (James 1.22) What these verses tell us is that if we are to be transformed, we need to surround ourselves with a...

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The most important word in the Bible

In verse 5, Jesus says the first thing the disciples should do when going out in mission is say, “Peace to this house,” and then he uses the word “peace” again two more times. What do you think of when you hear the word peace? Inner calm? The end of war? A person...

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Behavior is contagious

The Bible teaches what science in just now learning. The Bible says, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20 (NIV2011) Wisdom is contagious and stupid is contagious. Almost everything is contagious. If you are a 16...

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Transformed in groups

We are transformed one at a time, but we are not transformed alone. We are transformed in groups. If you are not in a group that is working toward being transformed into the image of Christ, you will not be transformed. People are not transformed alone. The writer of...

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Hesed

We can preach with such freedom because we know the One who wrote the story. In the Old Testament, the character of God is profiled for us in the multiplied occurrences of the description of God as the God of hesed and ‘emet. Hesed means “lovingkindness”—love and...

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Transformed in community

Imagine a man who read the Bible for an hour a day. Imagine he spent another hour a day memorizing scripture. Imagine he listened to sound Christian teaching on the way to and from work. Imagine he listened to sound Christian teaching on TV at home in the evening...

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Plans to give you Shalom

SHALOM A Hebrew term for peace which describes comprehensive well-being. Shalom, while used in a daily greeting among the Hebrews, is a weighty theological term in the Old Testament. Shalom embraces concepts of harmony, security, serenity, right relationships,...

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Chris Tomlin leads worship in my living room

Chris Tomlin often leads me in worship during my morning Quiet Time. And, when Chris Tomlin is leading, it is normally glorious. There are a number of ways to get Chris Tomlin on your TV, including: A Smart TV Roku Box Amazon Fire TV Apple TV Chromecast Pretty much...

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Jehovah Shalom

Jehovah Shalom. We find this name mentioned in the book of Judges, where the Lord revealed Himself to Gideon in the form of an angel (see Judges 6:22–24). What does this name, Jehovah Shalom, mean exactly? As a noun, the Hebrew word shalom means “completeness, health,...

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Five ways to make worship a part of your daily life

There are a number of ways to worship: Psalms. Many of the Psalms were designed for worship. Read them and adore God. Read them and change. Read them and be transformed. Attributes of God. Meditate on the bigness of God, the goodness of God, the everywhereness of God....

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Shalom

This world can be a better place. God wants everyday people like you and me to make this world just a bit more like heaven. In one small corner of His grand creation, God created a place that was a lot like heaven. He named it Eden. The Garden State was not just...

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Worship reminds me that our Big God has it all in control

One of my favorite verses is Revelation 4:2: At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. Revelation 4:2 (NIV2011) Sitting. Not pacing. Not surprised. Not wringing His hands. Not wondering. Not worrying. Large and...

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Worship reminds me who is Boss

What is discipleship, anyway? There could be a number of answers to this question, but central to what it means is that Jesus becomes Lord of my life in daily practice. James Smith defines it this way: In short, if you are what you love, and love is a habit, then...

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Transformed by beholding

Romans 12:2 is the most iconic and perhaps important verse on how we are transformed. Transformed by the renewing of our mind. Never forget that. But, it is not the only thing the Bible says about how we are transformed. This verse is equally important: And we all,...

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Transformed by worship

There is something about worship. There is something about looking at God that makes us godlier. There is something about basking in His love that makes us more loving. There is something about thinking about His grace that makes us more gracious. There is something...

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The research on spiritual growth

There has been a good deal of research done in recent years into what transforms people’s lives. This is what researchers and students of the subject have found: No Spiritual Discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word. Nothing can substitute for it....

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An app that changed my life

There are a number of good apps for Scripture Memory. I want to recommend Scripture Typer. There is a free version that will allow you to experiment with how the app works. There is a small fee for the full version. Scripture Typer has a number of wonderful features,...

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How to be transformed

We are transformed by hearing, reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on God’s Word. The greatest of these is Scripture Memory. Nothing will transform your mind like the power of lodging God’s word in your heart. I am fascinated by the technology of GPS. How a...

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Does the SBC need more prayer?

Let me pose a question to you: Have you ever heard the Lord say, “Quit praying—get up off your knees”? The Lord spoke these very words to Moses: “And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to Me?’ ” (Exodus 14:15). The literal Hebrew meaning of the verse is, “Why are...

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My favorite verse and why

My favorite verse is Hebrews 11:6. What do we learn about God from this verse? And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (NIV2011) What...

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What are the seven horns and seven eyes?

But there’s still more in this tapestry of Jesus. The Lamb, you notice, has “seven horns and . . . seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”27 These words, read in a group study, can be just like red meat to a lion! Many a home Bible...

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That it may go well with you

The promise that God is good is repeated many times in Scripture. It is a repeated theme through the whole Bible. Here are a few examples: “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well...

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Belief or belief?

You might think that you believe exercise is good, but you don’t exercise and you should have a Quiet Time, but you didn’t this morning. Let’s look at two ways we use this word belief. I had a long layover in Auckland, New Zealand once. Someone had told me about the...

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Jesus: Fully and Truly Human

The story of the church’s understanding of the person of Jesus Christ is one of swings and roundabouts. The pendulum swings between diminishing the divinity of Jesus and diminishing his humanity. In the last 150 years, liberalism has diminished Christ’s divinity, and...

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Transformed by better thinking

There is a common misperception—inside and outside the church—that Christian living is fundamentally about trying really hard to be good. It is not. It is about being transformed. This has a lot to do with changing the way we think: Do not conform to the pattern of...

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Training, not trying

I fell on the hard court playing tennis recently. I was able to walk off the court, drive home, and walk into the house—although ever-so-gingerly. After about an hour of watching TV I tried to move. Notice I said tried. I couldn’t. I don’t know how painful it is to...

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Train yourself to be grateful

Let’s go back to the sermon you heard on gratitude. Instead of trying really hard to be grateful, train yourself to be grateful. Get a simple, blank, 100-page notebook. Commit to writing down three things you are grateful for every night before you go to bed. Do this...

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How was King Jesus different from any other king?

Jesus mounts a donkey and rides into Jerusalem surrounded by this huge, noisy crowd. We do not have any other record of Jesus riding anywhere, do we? This is the only place it happens. It isn’t because Jesus is tired that he is riding on the donkey. He had...

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Train yourself to be godly

Imagine you can’t play the piano and I asked you to play Amazing Grace. Would it be easy or hard? Would it help if you tried really, really hard to play Amazing Grace? This is how many people try to live the Christian life. They hear a sermon on gratefulness. They try...

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Nothing Left to Fear

Would that every psychiatrist, every therapist, every personal counselor in the country understood that sin, guilt, the wrath of God, and therefore the fear of death create all other fears and lurk underneath all manner of neuroses. Until this central fear is dealt...

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Christian Living is Impossible

Impossible. Let that word sink in. Consider these words by Charles Stanley: The second truth that is clear from these verses is that what Jesus calls us to do is impossible. It’s not merely difficult. It’s not simply a struggle. It’s not just hard. It’s impossible! He...

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What is the difference between a lecture and preaching?

There is a vast difference between simply conveying information to people, which can be cold and ineffectual, and true preaching and witness. We have a long-standing friend who was once driving in the north of Scotland with our fellow countryman the late professor...

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Why is Christian Living so Hard?

I would suggest that Christian living is hard because we have never been taught to live the Christian life. We have been taught a lot about the Bible. We know a lot of Bible stories from the Bible. We could give you a lot of Bible facts. We could even throw in a few...

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Romans 8.28 and the tragic death of a son

The importance of context hit home for Laurie after the death of his son Christopher in July 2008. He says that Romans 8:28—“for those who love God, all things work together for good”—gets thrown around a lot in times of struggle, and it was no different during his...

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The Second Adam Comes to the Fight

We sometimes make an elementary mistake when reading the temptation narratives. We assume that their chief purpose is to teach us about our temptations and how we should resist them. True, our Lord’s example of resisting his temptations does help us to withstand our...

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The research on what makes people grow spiritually

There has been a good deal of research done in recent years into what transforms people’s lives. This is what researchers and students of the subject have found: No Spiritual Discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word. Nothing can substitute for it....

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Name Above All Names

Jesus Christ has been given the name above all names.1 The names assigned him begin in Genesis and end in Revelation. Taken together they express the incomparable character of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Reflecting on them better prepares us to respond to the...

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Is Christian living easy or hard?

Is Christian living easy or hard? Is it easy or hard for you to live the Christian life? I have asked this question to thousands of Christians and consistently they will answer with resolve, “Hard!” Then, I show them this familiar verse: For my yoke is easy and my...

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Jesus’ yoke or rule keeping?

Ortberg suggests that we have replaced Jesus’ yoke with rule-keeping: A recent study by the Barna Group found that the number one challenge to helping people grow spiritually is that most people equate spiritual maturity with trying hard to follow the rules in the...

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How to Live the Christian Life

Jesus promised His yoke would be easy and His burden would be light. Many Christians, however, do not find it that way. They have found Christian living to be very, very hard. I am convinced they don’t really know how to live the Christian life. They have never been...

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Can we believe the gospels?

I have just released a Bible Study that goes along with the popular book, The Case for Christ. (Now a popular movie on at theatres now.) Here is an excerpt: “Tell me this,” I said with an edge of challenge in my voice, “is it really possible to be an intelligent,...

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A faith we can believe in

I have just released a Bible Study that goes along with the popular book, The Case for Christ. (Now a popular movie on at theatres now.) Here is an excerpt: Maybe you too have been basing your spiritual outlook on the evidence you’ve observed around you or gleaned...

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You anoint my head with oil

You’ve sat where Paul sat. I know you have. You were hotter than a two-dollar pistol on the trail to Spain or college or marriage or independence … but then came the layoff or the pregnancy or the sick parent. And you ended up in prison. So long, Spain. Hello, Rome....

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The Case for Christ Bible Study

I have just released a Bible Study that goes along with the popular book, The Case for Christ. (Now a popular movie on at theaters now.) Here is an excerpt: For much of my life I was a skeptic. In fact, I considered myself an atheist. To me, there was far too much...

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At the table with Jesus

At this point in the psalm, David’s mind seems to be lingering in the high country with the sheep. Having guided the flock through the valley to the alp lands for greener grass, he remembers the shepherd’s added responsibility. He must prepare the pasture. This is new...

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The Case for Christ

I have just released a Bible Study that goes along with the popular book, The Case for Christ. (Now a popular movie on at theaters now.) This book is the unlikely story of an atheist turned-Christian-apologist. Lee Strobel has a degree in Law from Yale and is an...

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The Shepherd leads to the high country

Summer in ancient Palestine. A woolly bunch of bobbing heads follow the shepherd out of the gate. The morning sun has scarcely crested the horizon, and he is already leading his flock. Like every other day, he guides them through the gate and out into the fields. But...

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God is near and that changes everything

Oh, how God wants you to hear his music. He has a rhythm that will race your heart and lyrics that will stir your tears. You want to journey to the stars? He can take you there. You want to lie down in peace? His music can soothe your soul. But first, he’s got to get...

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Hope in a hopeless world

It’s a jungle out there. And for some, even for many, hope is in short supply. Hopelessness is an odd bag. Unlike the others, it isn’t full. It is empty, and its emptiness creates the burden. Unzip the top and examine all the pockets. Turn it upside down and shake it...

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Worried?

Your ten-year-old is worried. So anxious he can’t eat. So worried he can’t sleep. “What’s wrong?” you inquire. He shakes his head and moans, “I don’t even have a pension plan.” Or your four-year-old is crying in bed. “What’s wrong, sweetheart?” She whimpers, “I’ll...

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I will give you rest

I’ll give you the consequences of the burden; you guess the cause. It afflicts 70 million Americans and is faulted for 38,000 deaths each year. The condition annually costs the U.S. $70 billion worth of productivity. Teenagers suffer from it. Studies show that 64...

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The Lord is my shepherd and I need a shepherd

Couldn’t David have thought of a better metaphor? Surely he could have. After all, he outran Saul and outgunned Goliath. Why didn’t he choose something other than sheep? How about: “The Lord is my commander in chief, and I am his warrior.” There. We like that better....

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The prison of want

Come with me to the most populated prison in the world. The facility has more inmates than bunks. More prisoners than plates. More residents than resources. Come with me to the world’s most oppressive prison. Just ask the inmates; they will tell you. They are...

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The burden of a lesser deity

His pen has scarcely touched papyrus, and he’s urging us to avoid gods of our own making. With his very first words in this psalm, David sets out to deliver us from the burden of a lesser deity. One might argue that he seeks to do nothing else. For though he will...

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What does it mean (spiritually speaking) to travel light?

What does it mean (spiritually speaking) to travel light? Do more beloved words exist? Framed and hung in hospital halls, scratched on prison walls, quoted by the young, and whispered by the dying. In these lines sailors have found a harbor, the frightened have found...

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Traveling Light — Psalm 23

Traveling Light -- Psalm 23  I’ve never been one to travel light. I’ve tried. Believe me, I’ve tried. But ever since I stuck three fingers in the air and took the Boy Scout pledge to be prepared, I’ve been determined to be exactly that—prepared. Prepared for a bar...

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Destroying Discouragement

First Response: Cry out to God. “Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked...

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Dealing with Doubt

Confront your doubts head-on, as Thomas did. But you’ll want to handle them carefully. Let’s discover how you can disarm them. Admit Your Doubts Personally Has this ever happened to you? Sliding into a pew, late for church, you feel tired, edgy, and possibly coming...

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Resisting Your Resentment

3. Work It Out A couple managed to stay married for fifty years. At the anniversary party, someone asked for their secret. The husband said, “We made a simple agreement when we were married. Whenever she was bothered about something, she should go ahead, tell me off,...

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Attacking Your Anger

Grace isn’t the natural way to behave; it’s the supernatural way. The world should be able to expect Christians to do something beyond the natural thing. To be able to take all the wrong and evil and persecution the world can dish out, and to meet it with a double...

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Facing Your Giants

Which giant is giving you grief? Perhaps Fear has your number. Maybe Loneliness has locked you out. Whatever giant may be bullying you, the message of this book is that God is the greatest Giant of all. He goes before you like a consuming fire. It’s clear from the...

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Liberation from Loneliness

God also wants you to reach out to make the cord stronger. Yes, I’ve charged the lonely with taking the initiative. But I think each of us also has the responsibility to look out for the stray sheep. Just as Jesus spoke of leaving the ninety-nine to seek out the lone...

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Postponing Your Procrastination

Spurgeon was once preaching on eternal life, and he caught the eye of a godly woman sitting near the front. She had been in his church many years, and Spurgeon knew her faith was strong. There was some special gleam in her eye today; Spurgeon couldn’t be certain what...

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