The Bible Study Webpage



The purpose of this site is to provide you with information and Web links to supplement your Bible Study for the week. Hopefully, you will find this useful in your study. Any comments or suggestions to make this page better are welcome.


GLAD YOU FOUND US! We hope that these lessons provide a good source of Bible Study for you each week. Especially if you are a Bible Study teacher and use these lessons in your church, somewhere around the country, let us know. We send a site updated distribution note each week when the newest lesson is online. We'd be happy to add any of you, teachers or readers of the lessons to our distribution each week. Teachers, we hope that you find this to be a helpful resource in developing a quality lesson for your classes each week! Let's remember to keep each other and our classes in our prayers that God will richly bless our studies each week.


 New Studies

  Unstoppable Impact
Impact. We all want to have impact, don't we? In the past few weeks, our nation has elected a new President, although the Inauguration won't happen for a few more weeks. If you are on facecbook, you likely have seen 'news clip' after 'news clip' shared by people who tried to make statements for or against a candidate. Unfortunately, many of the stories are so blatantly fabricated, that you really have little way to know if something is true or not. And, that type of convincing tends to only pull out the extremes who will not change their stance anyway. I have had to hide posts from a few political friends, because I didn't want to keep viewing lies on either side. Of course, some of them were truth, but when I have been personally involved with a news story, the truth is seldom published without an obvious bias. Unfortunately, at this time, much of our nation is divided, at least in the thought of where we should be headed and it won't change until some significant changes are made and the honest truth is shown and accepted by all.

Read more...   

  Unstoppable Opportunities
Make the most of your opportunities. I have followed all kinds of sports at all kinds of levels. Occasionally you have a powerhouse team that could pretty much squash any other team at almost any time. However, in many leagues, teams are evenly matched and it often comes down to which team makes the most of opportunities that are presented. It may be when a call goes their way and they are able to capitalize. Or, it could be the game gets setup to where a play can make all the difference in the world. Berkley and I watched a lot of baseball and one of the most telling statistics is batting average when runners are in scoring position. For example, a player may get a double every time they come to bat, with the exception of when anyone is on base. They may end up with a high average, but do very little to help their team win.

Read more...   

  Unstoppable Love
There are so many things that a church needs to be and when the emphasis is placed too highly on one thing or the other, the church gets a bit off kilter. Certainly, the primary thing has to be the gospel. Ultimately, the church should share the gospel freely and often. However, there are a few other aspects that are also important, as outlined in this passage.

Read more...   

  Unstoppable Message
It is the height of our election cycle right now and some may classify this as the height of insanity. It seems from the highest profile elections to many of the lower elections, the focus has seemed to morph to character attacks and mudslinging. In many cases, if pressed about candidates, all that many of us can relate about candidates is the rhetoric that we have heard from commercials that have largely been paid for by special interest groups.

Read more...   

  Unstoppable Mission
This past weekend, Berkley and I had the privilege of going to the 2016 ALS Clinical Research Learning Institute (CRLI) in Clearwater Beach, Florida. We are now ALS Research Ambassadors and the 'mission' we were given was to help educate people in the importance of being involved with ALS Research. We learned about different types of trials and the need for involvement to find a cure. Sadly, it is doubtful that a cure will be developed in the very near future, but there are hopes that research could lead towards treatment for different types of ALS in the future. I started thinking that it would be great if a cure could be found and ALS could become a disease of the past. That would be awesome and would save many individuals and families from heartbreak and the impact of this insidious disease. However, ALS is not the main problem in our world and if solved, our main problem stares at us. That problem is our separation from God due to our sin. We can have great missions to do great things on earth, but the greatest mission impacts eternity.

Read more...   

  One Great Focus
Focus can be thought of in many ways. When you think of your eyesight, how important is focus? It is amazing how long we go at times, compensating our eyesight. We seem to learn how to deal with things in a bit of a blur. I remember when I was a child and first got my glasses. When I got them and walked out of the eye doctor's office, everything seemed different. At other times, as my prescription changed or I got lazik, it was amazing how much clearer I could see. As far as our sight goes, isn't it amazing that we don't make that a higher priority. As many know, Brian Regan is my favorite comedian, and here is a bit he did on the eye doctor. Click Here!

Read more...   

  One Great Commitment
What are things that happen in life that make you want to tell someone else? For many, it involves when children are brought into the family. They want to share the joy with others. For some, it may be a memorable vacation or trip that you want others to know about. Some may want to share details of a new purchase. All of these are somewhat memorable, although some more than others. As I started to list some of these, it occurred to me that these are the basic start to the Donut Rules at my work. That may not make a lot of sense to many, but the group that I have worked with for most of the past 20 years loves donuts. They created a list many years ago called the Donut Rules, in which were outlined the 'offenses' that required a person to bring in donuts. Over time, the list grew to things like having a major storm named after you, like Katrina, or other work related offenses, such as scheduling a meeting over lunch, and even a rule that said you had to bring donuts if you wanted to add a new rule. Some of the rules involved things that people celebrated with you, and others were simply created to provide more donuts.

Read more...   

  One Great Savior
This lesson continues the series of one great… In the previous lesson, we talked about the one great problem that we all have, and that is sin. The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Wouldn't it be tragic if that was the end of the story? Some hear that and do not want to accept that they are sinful and want nothing to do with anyone who says they are. Many religions acknowledge the fallen condition of mankind and religions have been created based upon trying to do certain things to gain acceptance with God. Evan apart from religion, people that understand their own wrong behavior want to know 'what they can do' to fix this problem and make things right.

Read more...   

  One Great Problem
Have you ever experienced a problem? Of course you have. We all have all sorts of problems every day. Some people seem to be problem solvers and actually enjoy facing a problem. Others seem to fall apart when they come up against problems. This can be especially true for any of us if we encountered one problem after another. However you deal with problems, they will keep coming at you. The problems we face vary in difficulty and outcome.

Read more...   

  One Great Purpose
One great purpose. Everyone likes to have a purpose, don't they? When you are part of a team or an organization; if your purpose is well defined, you generally feel as more a part of that team. Berkley and I are avid St Louis Cardinal fans, and since we watch most of the games, either at Busch Stadium or on TV, we have gotten familiar with most of the players. Towards the end of the year when the roster expands, there are new players that were in the minor leagues that we don't know as well. On a baseball team, generally the positions are pretty well defined. Pitchers pitch, but seldom play other positions unless a game goes into extra innings and there aren't enough players. Outfielders generally play the outfield and infielders generally play the infield, although we have seen several players play many different positions. I would imagine it would be easier if you knew what position you were going to play, so you could focus on that position and how to respond in a number of scenarios.

Read more...   

  One Great Creator
This lesson begins a series on Life's Greatest Story. Through these lessons, we will discuss our great Creator (in this lesson), our great purpose, problem, Savior, commitment and focus in the coming lessons. Where would you say that you have been where you had a renewed awareness of the amazing aspect of the creation of our world? Though I have not been all around the world, or even all around the country, I am amazed at the plethora of different landscapes and the beauty all around us. When you are in the mountains, it is amazing to see the height and enormity of those mountains. It is amazing how large and expansive they are. When you the expanse of the oceans, it is amazing to see how they keep going and going, far beyond where you can see.

Read more...   

  Love Gets Involved
As I sit and write this lesson, I have to say that I have seen love personified in so many ways in the past few months. If you read these lessons regularly, you know that I, Don, was diagnosed with ALS in the Spring of 2015. To say that it rocked mine and Berkley's world is an understatement of gargantuan proportions. Over the past few months, specifically, we have been overwhelmed by people who have given of their time and money to help us in very tangible ways. We had our house and patio pressure washed. We have had many people help with landscaping, weeding, tree and shrub trimming and so forth. We have a great neighbor that is mowing our yard all summer. We have other neighbors that have come and helped when we needed help of all kinds. We have had friends that have helped move mattresses around. We have had others who have fixed a table for our needs, and others who helped clean out the garage and help install ceiling support racks in the garage and still others who demolished a wall for us. We have had people that showed up at our house very late on a weeknight to help us move a behemoth lift that others will help install. People have helped with ramps and in so many other ways. The list could go on and on, but we have seen many people get involved and their love has been evident.

Read more...   

  Earn Money Productively
Given that we need money today, what does it take to make money? For many people, the first question that they ask others is 'What do you do?" In other words, it could be said "Given that money is needed, how do you get yours?" That may not be the question that comes to mind, but is the reason why the original question is asked. There are myriads of ways that people make money. Most people go about the right way, trying to identify some set of skills that they can do and make a living.

Read more...   

  Make Agreements Cautiously
This lesson continues a series talking about our money. What kind of agreements are made in regards to money? Well, unless you were born with access to a fat back account, you probably know what it means to borrow money. In fact, most people who go to college come out with some sort of student loan that they have to pay back. Then, there are cars and houses and all kinds of other things that we buy. When you buy a house, then you need furnishings. I would imagine that most of us would be amazed if we were able to see how much money we have spent in our lifetimes.

Read more...   

  View Money Properly
This next series of lessons are primarily taken from the book of Proverbs and the primary context is on money. Is money a problem? I think we would have to agree that money could be the root of many evils. When people have too much money, they often become very protective and can start to feel invincible. When people believe they have too little, some have a tendency to become very desperate. Obviously, money or the lack thereof can lead to a lot of problems. Many people end up thinking that if they had more money, they would have less problems. However, if one's problem is overspending, more money doesn't normally provide the solution, because for many people, more money means more spending. There are a lot of people who have a more reasonable view of money, and are not so focused on getting more and more, but are finding ways to use what they have.

Read more...   

  Transformed in My Obedience
Are you in or out? This is a question that comes up often, in many different contexts. Most of the in or out questions carry no real consequence. Friends are going to a movie, are you going or not? Others are getting ready to start another game of (basketball, cards, etc), are you going to play or do you need to leave? There are many of these types of questions that come up and other than changing what you will or won't do for a bit, they don't really impact your life. There are other similar questions that come up that will greatly impact your life. Who will you marry? Where will you work? Where do you buy a house? These and other similar circumstances will have a huge impact on your day to day life, and perhaps some role in your quality of life. These situations are much headier than whether you will go to a movie or play a game, but even they are not the most crucial in or out question in life.

Read more...   

  Transformed in My Opinions
In this lesson on transformation, we now focus on opinions. As has been stated before, we are not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. This transformation involves the way that we think and it involves every aspect of our lives. When we give our lives to Christ, there are changes that happen from the inside out. We try to will things to happen, but if it isn't changing you internally, any change on the outside is a ruse. How can you be transformed in your opinions?

Read more...   

  Transformed in My Plans
This next lesson on Transformation hits upon our plans. Are you a planner? There are different types of plans that people make. Perhaps you have planned a vacation and you are considering what you will do when you are away. Planners tend to have looked at the different possibilities of places to go and have done a fair amount of research prior to going. Non planners usually know where they are going, but will figure out what to do when they get there. Perhaps you plan to retire someday. Financial planning becomes more important to account for things when you reach that point in your life. There are other plans that you might make, based on circumstances you are in. As you know, Berkley and I have been dealing with my ALS diagnosis and its many symptoms, causing us to at least think and act on different medical conditions and home modifications that will need to be made. It can be overwhelming, no, scratch that, it is overwhelming. I am very fortunate and thankful for Berkley in my life, as she tends to be a much better planner in many of these areas, although planning for what you are not looking forward to is another matter altogether.

Read more...   

  Transformed in My Possessions
If you had access to a Treasure Map, would you use it? As children, we are often enthralled by the idea of treasures. I know I used to think about the bucket of gold at the end of the rainbow (I never found the bucket), although I've seen plenty of rainbows in my life. I guess I assumed a leprechaun was there guarding the pot of gold. The thought of sunken treasures or treasures hidden away someplace is the focal point of many stories. You've probably seen TV shows where investors have spent a lot of money sending divers out to the area where ships had crashed long ago. Everyone wonders what treasure will be brought up. People even look for treasures among other people's trash. You have probably seen different shows on TV where people bring old antiques and other things they find in their attics or basements, hoping that they have a very big find! Others go to yard sales and flea markets, looking for that little nugget that sells for a couple of dollars, but is worth thousands. There is the thought that once we get that big score, we will be set. But, it never truly satisfies.

Read more...   

  Transformed in My Prayer
In this lesson, I believe that we should all take a personal look at our own prayer lives, and ask ourselves if the term transformation makes sense in relation to our prayers. If you are a believer, I'm sure that prayer is at least somewhat a part of your life, even if it just happened to be ones you heard at church. Take a few minutes and do a personal inventory of your own prayer life over the last week and month. How many prayers have you heard? How many prayers have you spoken? How many prayers were with others? How many prayers did you say on your own? Have you prayed before meals? Have you prayed before you retired or when you got up? Have you found time to pray throughout your day? Have you made time to pray throughout the day? This is one of the key indicators of our spiritual walk and if you've found that you aren't spending time in prayer, perhaps God desires to use this lesson as a reminder of the importance of prayer in your own life.

Read more...   

  Transformed in My Worship
The next series of lessons deal with transformation. All of the passages for this series are taken from Matthew 6 and Matthew 7. These chapters are the second and third chapters of the Sermon on the Mount. Lessons from Matthew 5 were a couple of series ago and can be found on the Index Page. They all begin with the title "Distinct in My…. ". As you might expect, the Sermon on the Mount packs some very personal words of Jesus to each of us.

Read more...   

  Seize the Day
Carpe diem! Seize the day! What comes to your mind when you think of that? For many people, it is simply a phrase to make the best out of a day. For some people, it might mean to keep your eyes open for opportunities. For some, it might mean to have a good perspective and look for good things to happen. It would seem that much of our lives becomes routine, with the same things happening each day. Perhaps Saturday and Sunday are different than the other days, but we tend to get in a pattern of what we do, and although we do different things each day, we still seem to conform to the pattern. We get up at a certain time, do whatever we need to do in the morning and then attack the day. There may be different tasks that we do, but we make time for meals and breaks and then the days wind down into perhaps a normal pattern in the evenings too. The events may change with the seasons, as far as indoor or outdoor activities, but it is easy for days, weeks, months and years to pass by and other than getting older, and dealing with things with kids or jobs or whatever, we can easily get caught in a rut of sorts.

Read more...   

  Redeemed from an Unbelieving Past
In the Christian faith, a testimony is a personal story about how a person came to faith in Jesus Christ. Every testimony is different, although some of them may sound very much the same. Some people have what seem to be amazing testimonies, as if they were going full speed down a highway and turned on a dime to go the other way. I have seen a few people, as adults, that became Christians and the impact on their lives was amazing. However, some of their experiences seem very short lived, as if it was a match that lit quickly and died out. Something happened, but it didn't really seem to be legitimate. Perhaps there was an emotional surge and when that surge died down, they assumed that the 'thrill' is gone - it was as if they tasted the faith, but it didn't really have a life impact. There are other people who grew up around other believers and they more or less seemed to become one by default, because that was what everyone else did. They took the classes just like everyone else did at their church and they 'graduated' as a 'believer'. Some of these people seem to drift away over time and it isn't that important for them later. Perhaps it became an intellectual experience, but didn't really grab their hearts.

Read more...   

  Redeemed from a Devastating Failure
As much as we don't like losing, I believe most people would rather lose than fail. Losing implies that you lost in a game, while many equate failure with 'end of story'. For example, the St Louis Blues hockey team lost three games to the Dallas Stars, but they ultimately won the series and continue to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Not all losses are considered failures. Even if they had lost, there is always next season. A professional team cannot continue to relive bad seasons, if they want to improve. The truth is that we not only need to learn how to lose well, but we also need to learn how to recover from a failure. Not many kids will learn to ride a bike the very first time they hop on. There may be many failures, but if they keep at it, eventually they will figure it out. Those failures are soon forgotten. However, there are other failures that we make that we have a real hard time shaking, and part of that might be because others (Satan included) want to keep reminding us of them.

Read more...   

  Redeemed from a Crippling Doubt
Crippling doubt. We all will encounter situations that will cause us to wonder what will happen. To most people, there are plenty of things that are far more important than athletics, and when things don't go as planned or expected, life can become very difficult. We will encounter some situations where we have no control of the outcome and when things don't happen according to our schedule, we may begin to doubt that it ever will. We'd all like some process by which we could ensure that we could control every outcome in life, but if you've lived long enough, you'll find that some things go the way you want, and some things don't. There is a problem if we base how we see God on the outcome. If things work out good for us and we feel blessed, we often will say God is good! However, the key is that whether it works out for good for us or not, God is still good. Somehow, it has to be more than just how things work out. As we watch the coming election in 2016, many people are worried, because they are concerned about what might happen. Regardless of the outcome, God is still on the throne.

Read more...   

  Redeemed from a Critical Spirit
This lesson continues a string of lessons that impact many of us, as they have hit on some common issues that we all face. In the first lesson, we discussed poor choices and then we discussed broken relationships. Now, we talk about a critical spirit. A critical spirit can be very harmful to a relationship and life in general, and I believe that we all encounter problems when we are over critical of others.

Read more...   

  Redeemed from Broken Relationships
If you're ever been in a relationship, you've probably also been in a broken relationship. Except for any computer that is reading this on its own, we are all humans and we are prone to failure. Where you take two humans that are imperfect and put them together in a relationship, is it any wonder that there are problems? Many relationship issues can be worked through, if both sides are willing to do so, and if both sides are willing to "own" their own issues. Let's stop right there and talk about that - because that is a big IF. How many relationships do you think could have been saved and reconciled if both parties owned the things that they had done and asked forgiveness, and freely forgave each other? What tends to happen, though, is that one or both sides refuse to let a past wrong go, and somehow believe it is 'godly' to hold that over somebody else's head for as long as they live. In a relationship like that, if it is not broken altogether, it is at the very best 'very shaky'.

Read more...   

  Redeemed from Poor Choices
The next series of lessons is a series of lessons on redemption. We will discuss many areas of our lives where we have failed, and see what God may be saying to us. The particular issues are ones that apply to others and not us, so when you read, you can just see how to counsel others (insert sarcastic laugh here!). We will discuss poor choices, broken relationships, critical spirits, crippling doubts, devastating failures and an unbelieving past. Certainly, each of us, if honest with ourselves, will see how these apply very directly to our lives.

Read more...   

  Our Need for Purpose
A few years ago, Rick Warren authored a book called "Purpose Driven Life". I don't believe anyone was prepared for the impact that it would have on literally millions of people around the globe. In 2005, a Barna Group poll found that pastors named that book the most influential in their ministry. (I hope that was second to the Bible!). Also, that poll found that nearly one quarter of American adults had read that book by the middle of 2005. Isn't that amazing? What is it that would draw people to a book about purpose?

Read more...   

  Our Need for Peace
We continue in the session on our needs. Recently, we have looked at contentment, direction, protection and hope. It would appear that we are very needy, wouldn't it? As we think about our need for peace, it seems that in many instances it is beyond attainable. For example, although world peace sounds good, it would require so many changes in everyone's hearts and minds, across many nations and diverse cultures that it doesn't seem possible (and scripture tells us that there won't be world peace until Jesus returns). However, this doesn't mean that we just stop trying to attain a peaceful resolution when possible. Most of us don't live in areas where we would expect suicide bombers or terrorist attacks, but we've all seen how much damage can be done when those things happen here at home. We are thankful for the many people who work daily to protect against threats such as these. Unfortunately, one would have to believe that it is likely only a matter of time before things that have recently happened in Syria, Belgium and France will happen again in America.

Read more...   

  Our Need for Hope
In answers to a question "what are the top ten things people hope for" on yahoo, some of the common answers were money, love, luck, friends, gifts of all sorts and so forth. One that I found interesting was the ability to make up with lost loved ones. Unfortunately, that is a sad hope that can never be realized in this lifetime. We hear about hopes and dreams of people and we realize that hope is an important part of our life. Often, it is hope that propels us to do things that we may not otherwise do. For example, if you hope to have a successful career, you realize that you need to exert effort towards that goal. In that case, we know that there are things that we can do to help improve the odds of getting what we hoped for.

Read more...   

  Our Need for Protection
This week's lesson is in regards to our need for protection. We all want to be protected, don't we? I would be willing to bet that most of us do not appreciate driving down the road and seeing flashing police lights in our rear view mirrors. I know, for one, that my stomach drops when I see a police car with its lights on coming up behind me, even if I have done nothing wrong (at least recently!). However, if I were stuck on the side of the road or someplace where I needed help, I would greatly welcome those same lights and feel a sense of protection.

Read more...   

  Our Need for Direction
We continue the series on our needs. Last week, we talked about our need for contentment. This week's lesson talks about our need for direction. It would appear that the world is going in all sorts of directions. One of my favorite comedy sketches growing up was Monty Python's Silly Olympics. In it, the racers were lined up on the track, ready to run the race. They got on their marks and the gun went off, and they all went in different directions.

Read more...   

  Our Need for Contentment
This lesson is about contentment. What does that mean to you? Some people would say to be content would mean they had what they wanted. Others (the ones who want to give the 'church' answer) might say that contentment is wanting what they have. We'd like to say that we are fine with that, but there are some, even without any external distractions, are anything but content. It may be that their job is not what they wanted. They may have strained or broken relationships in their life, or some other set of circumstances always has them on edge. We may say that we are fine when we are asked "How are you?", but people rarely give the 'real' answer to that question. (Only a few people would care to hear the real answer!)

Read more...   

  Distinct in My Love
We all have a thing or two to think about when it comes to loving other believers. When you think of your own experience, I would imagine that there are more than likely one or two (or more) believers that you know that you would say that it is hard to say that you 'love' them. However, as He often does, Jesus challenges us to go beyond loving other believers. He actually tells us to love and pray for our enemies. And, the prayer is not that the fire of heaven would rain down upon them! (Face it, there are times when we'd like to pray that for some people, right?)

Read more...   

  Distinct in My Reactions
This lesson is about oaths and vengeance. Often these two are related, because when an oath is broken, vengeance seems to take over by default. In our day and age, I am not so much aware of people swearing by this or that, other than in court, where you can see someone put their hand on the Bible and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I also know that the President of the United States generally will take his oath with his hand on the Bible. However, of what use is that oath for someone who doesn't believe the Bible to be true, in the courts or for a President?

Read more...   

  Distinct in My Relationships
These past few lessons have been based on what should make us as believers distinct from the world in which we live in. Unfortunately, for many believers, the only real distinction is that they attend church as opposed to those who never attend. Certainly, being at church can help anyone learn more facts and potentially make changes in life, but church attendance does not make one a believer any more than going to the zoo makes one an animal. This is not to say that there are not millions of believers in our country and even more in the world who do desire to make changes to become distinct, but we all know that we have not done a really good job at being different than the world. In fact, for many, the desire seems to be to 'fit in' more than the desire to be set apart.

Read more...   

  Distinct in My Approach to Conflict
Conflict. Ugh! For some people, their approach to conflict is easy - turn around and run. For others, they will turn and run towards conflict, because they love to get their adrenalin going. I believe that approaches to conflict are often learned in families and environments that we grow up in. As a child, in my family, we tended to avoid conflict for the most part. I can't think of any of us - my mom or dad, or my brothers that really 'like' conflict. So, I am generally the one who would love for everyone to just get along. However, I have learned that conflict is inevitable and we all can't simply join hands and sing Kum Ba Yah, as if everything is A-OK. There are others whose familial experiences may be much different. In their homes, when something comes up, it gets dealt with pretty quickly, and either gets solved, or escalates. I have seen how this has happened and while it can be quite 'scary' for a few moments, they tend to work through issues and be okay with one another. There are pros and cons to both sides, I would imagine. Perhaps the best approach would be somewhere in the middle.

Read more...   

  Distinct in My Influence
How important is influence? If you watch TV, you will see movie stars and other celebrities paid large sums of money to be spokespeople for commercials. Why do you think it is those easily recognizable by masses of people that are used for peddling products, as opposed to you and I? It's easy to see that recognition among many is useful in marketing.

Read more...   

  Distinct in My Characer
What does it mean to be distinguished? When I think of a person being distinguished, I think of somebody that is set apart for some reason or another. At many conferences, the speakers are introduced as 'the distinguished..' In many cases, they are recognized as experts in their field. There are many who pour their lives in order to become distinguished. On the other hand, there are others who are distinguished criminals - made distinct by the way in which they have committed crimes. So, it isn't enough to be distinguished, unless you are distinguished in the right manner.

Read more...   

  Used in God's Service
In any organization, it is best if you can match the tasks with the people that are most skilled in that area. There always seems to be an issue with mapping people to tasks, whether it is in a work environment or within any other volunteer organization. There are the things that people want to do and the skills that they possess. Then there are the tasks that need to be completed, along with the skill sets that are required. In a work environment, where people are getting paid, there are ways to help accomplish this so that all tasks are accounted for, and all people are utilized (even if it isn't the optimal person for each task).

Read more...   

  Equipped with God's Gifts
If you are a fan of college football, the end of a calendar year and the start of a new year is a great time for you! One of the commercials that played often in the 2015-2016 Bowl Season was the AllState Mayhem Do It Yourself (DIY) commercial. In it, there are several people that created mayhem in their own projects. Although I am sure others know more about it than I do, the intent was to vote for the 'favorite' and then all of their tools would be taken away. It's quite humorous, in concept. If that were true, I probably wouldn't own any tools, due to the many 'mayhem' moments I've created in my own home projects. Often the problems in these types of projects is the use of the improper tool. In one of the instances, a person had to cut a tree down, so he went to find the biggest chainsaw he could find. Perhaps that was the best tool, but perhaps it wasn't. I've noticed that the good DIY people tend to have the right tool for almost any situation (and they know how to use it - and thankfully they are neighbors). This lesson will discuss some of the tools that we as believers have been given and help us to understand if we realize that we have them, and perhaps how to use them.

Read more...   

  Strengthened by God's Power
Have you heard of the workout called P90x? Well, a few years ago, I tried it. I had watched the infomercials that were run so often, and I had some time on my hands, so I thought, what the heck. A friend of mine had the disks, so he let me use them. There are several disks in the set, so I figured I would pick one and work on that. It was focused on the arms. It was a tough workout, and I did it every day for a week. Man, did my arms ever hurt! After a couple of days, they hurt. I remember going to bed at night with them aching, yet I kept with it - you know, work through the hurt. As the week went on, they were more or less stuck in a bent position and I felt somewhat like an odd shaped T-Rex (or so I have been told). Brushing my teeth, getting clothes out of the washer and typing on a keyboard were all typical of difficult tasks I faced. I played a lot of basketball at the time, and needless to say, my touch was lost.

Read more...   

  Saved by God's Son
I have to wonder what some people think when they hear Christians talk about being saved. If they didn't grow up in church, they may think of saving as being the amount of money that they have set aside for some point the future. There are other people who have a sports background, and a save may be made by a goalie. Others may think of leftovers, which got saved from an earlier meal. Still others may think about playing cards and saving their best cards to be played last. Obviously, the word saved is overloaded and may have different meanings to different people.

Read more...   

  Freed by God's Forgiveness
What does it mean to be freed? Freedom is such a great thing, but it is so hard for many people to handle. Some people would seem to rather have their entire lives governed by someone else. I have heard that there are some who have spent a lot of time in prison that find it harder to live on the outside than on the inside. Have you ever wondered why that is? In some ways, prison life may be what they have gotten comfortable with and have become accustomed to. Doesn't this describe many people today? They may never have set a foot inside of a prison, but they are enslaved to their past, a circumstance in their present or any of a number of things.

Read more...   

  Adopted into God's Family
During the holiday season, we like to think about family. For many people this time of year is difficult because it often brings to light what is missing in our families. Many families have lost loved ones that have passed away (recently or perhaps years in the past), so there is always the reminder that things are no longer what they once were. Berkley and I (as well as many of you) know of many friends who have lost key members of their families in the past months. We understand that the Christmas season may be very emotionally taxing for many of these families.

Read more...   

  When Opposition Strikes
When Opposition Strikes! - This lesson seems to be so out of place in our society today, doesn't it? We know nothing of opposition, right? Actually, I was talking with a co-worker this week about how messed up our world seems to be getting. We have seen so many allegations of things and protesting and decrying of events that may or may not have happened, and at the same time, we have seen terrorism rise on a global scale. People seem polarized on one side or the other on almost everything. I have friends that are Democrats and others that are Republican, and while the vast majority say little, some spend an inordinate amount of time blaming the world's problems on the other side! In our day to day dealings, we see opposition to all sorts of views on almost every level, and in those cases, people seem to have drawn a black or white line, when in fact, the line might more likely be, pardon the reference, fifty shades of grey.

Read more...   

  Act Faithfully
If you were able to choose, would you rather that everyone else around you had the same beliefs as you, or would you choose to swim upstream on your own, against the flow? Most of us would likely say that we would like to live in a place where people had the same general beliefs and standards of morality as ours. Perhaps this is why we, as believers, get so frustrated when we see our society moving further and further away from Christian ideals and standards. It would seem that the things that most people value today are further and further from what we know God has called us to do. It wasn't all that long ago when prayer was in school and it was not considered intolerant to share your own beliefs with others. Note that even then, there were still many societal problems. For example, our country used to have many race related issues (and it is not as if they are all solved today). Much progress has been made since the mid 1950s to address some of the larger issues, but it takes a long time to change the thoughts and attitudes of everyone. A century prior, although prayer was in schools and schools were largely Christian based, the issue of slavery was still occurring, even among many believers. We could write pages and pages regarding the issue of racial problems, but the point is that even when some things may have seemed to be more 'godly', there were other issues in how people were treated that was far from what God had ever intended.

Read more...   

  Confront Sin
Confrontation. Does anybody really like to confront others? It is one thing to work through conflict and other issues, but the thought of confrontation can be very disturbing for many people. There used to be the show called "What Would You Do", where actors would portray situations around unsuspecting bystanders and the point would be to see what different, normal people would do. Most of the time, the actions portrayed did bother people. Some of them would do nothing and others would go out of their way to address the situation. Perhaps much of this has to do with different personality types, and how a person is internally wired. On a side note, wouldn't it be nice if we were all wired the same way, so that you would know what to expect in certain situations from others? Alas, that will never be the case and in many ways, we can be glad.

Read more...   

  Live Humbly
In this lesson, we will encounter two distinctly different personalities. One of them is King Nebuchadnezzar (Neb) and the other is Daniel. If you have read the previous couple of lessons, you would have seen that Neb is very high strung and others are very aware of his emotional state, whether high or low. We've also seen how he is very focused on his own self, showing little regard for others when he is having problems. On the other hand, we will read about Daniel, who is also known as Belteshazzar (we will call him Daniel - easier to type) and how he continues to seek God and to live in a way that exemplifies humility.

Read more...   

  Stand Courageously
Have you ever had to take a stand? In the world we live in, if you have any beliefs that are important to you, you will find yourself either taking a stand or caving to the pressures of the world. There are plenty of areas where people are willing to take a stand for one thing or another. I think of different sports fans who root for their teams, even in the midst of opposition. Berkley and I go to a lot of St Louis Cardinals games, and we often see fans from other teams in Busch Stadium in St Louis. Generally, they are treated rather well and are able to cheer on their teams with no recourse, other than an occasional glare when their team wins or hits a homerun. I have heard that in some stadiums, it is more risky to stand up and root for any team other than the home team. Even when there is some amount of abuse for standing up for your team, there is no real risk taken in standing.

Read more...   

  Pray Fervently
In this lesson, we will read about an absolutely impossible situation and how it was solved. One thing that I have learned through life is that, at any given time, many people are dealing with what seems to be impossible circumstances. Often, as believers, we put on a smiling face and tell everyone else that things are going fine, when we know that there are serious problems in our lives or that we are dealing with other issues that are anything but fine. As you read about this lesson and the situation that Daniel and his friends face, let us be reminded that we all will encounter what seems to be impossible situations. Will we try and face them on our own, or will we turn to our Lord for help in resolving issues, or peace and comfort in whatever we are facing?

Read more...   

  Develop Conviction
What do you think of when you think of conviction? For some, it can be thought of as a formal declaration that someone is guilty of a criminal offense. If you watch shows such as Law & Order on TV, you probably have heard of a conviction made by a jury verdict or a judge's decision in a court of law. Conviction can also come into play in this sense when we know we have done something wrong and we find ourselves convicted by our own behavior.

Read more...   

  God's Promise of A New Home
Have you ever moved? When people find out that my mom still lives in the same house that I grew up in, they are often astonished. However, this was more likely the norm in rural areas when people grew up and stayed in the same place. Today, most people have moved many times (some by choice, job change or out of some other need) and know of the pain in packing, moving and unpacking. Some that have moved multiple times may have yet to unpack some boxes. I know other people that seemed to move every three or four years, so that they could end up in a home they really desired, by making some profit on each transaction. I can't even imagine what that must have been like, to prepare for each move and the unpacking and setting up a home time after time.

Read more...   

  God's Promise of Victory
What comes to mind when you think of victory provided by God? Ultimately, for believers, we have victory through salvation and eternal life with Him, through our relationship with Jesus Christ. And, there will be times when God is very evidently at work in our lives, in a tangible manner. We'd like to think that would be all the time and that as long as we sought God, life would go as we had hoped, yet we know that we will experience victory and defeat.

Read more...   

  God's Promise of Answered Prayer
There are several acronyms that can help with prayers. One is ACTS - Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. When we can model our prayers in that manner, it helps us to be focused, so that our prayers do not simply turn into the 'list' that we want to give to God. When we can adore God, we help to put things into perspective and realize that life is all about Him, and less about us. When we confess our sins, we acknowledge that we have strayed from Him and we ask for His forgiveness. When we are thankful, we thank God for the many provisions that He has given us personally and for the many ways we have been blessed. In our supplication, we bring our needs before Him and ask for His divine intervention. By using a model such as this, we will find that our prayers from day to day can be different, as we acknowledge different aspects each day.

Read more...   

  God's Promise of Provision
I believe we would all agree that God is not about meeting all of our wants and desires, but we should all be able to see how God has tangibly met our needs in the past and how we can rely upon Him in the present and future. There is some responsibility that we play into this as well, as we cannot waste what we have been given and expect to be given more and more and more. Similarly, we cannot necessarily choose our own path in life and expect others to provide for what that entails. This goes against what many expect in this age of self entitlement. Additionally, God's provision does not mean that sickness and death would not enter our world. There will come a time when we all face death and the fact that some lose that fight for life does not mean that God does not provide. Admittedly, this is a difficult pill for us to swallow when death seems to come prematurely.

Read more...   

  God's Promise of Eternal Life
This series of lessons continues on some of God's promises. In this lesson, we will briefly study God's promise of Eternal Life. There are all sorts of religions in our world today. Some of them are downright wacky and others are so rigid that there is no room for anyone to step out of line. Most religions have some sort of moral code or standard associated with them, and at least some of them require strict adherence to that code (or else). There are things you have to do and things that you cannot do. Or else.

Read more...   

  God's Promise of Faithfulness
As I think about this lesson, perhaps the key point is for us to understand is what God's faithfulness is and what it is not. God's faithfulness does not imply that life will always go as we might hope and desire. God may indeed grant us tremendous blessings, over and over, throughout life, but His faithfulness is not about those tangible blessings we receive. God's faithfulness means that He will be with us, as we go throughout life. In the midst of successes and failures, He is there. In the midst of perfect or failing health, He is there. We certainly might hope for more, but when we take a step back and are honest with ourselves, if God was as faithful with us as we have been with Him throughout life, would we ever even hope to have morning by morning?

Read more...   

  How Ordinary People Can Be on Mission
What does it mean to live a life on mission? When we think of a mission in Christian terms, we often are reminded of missionaries that serve in areas around the world. Some of them have been called to specific people groups around the world and when they follow where God leads, they are truly blessed. I have had the honor of working in country with those serving in many different parts of the world, from Canada to Belarus to Thailand to Taiwan and China on various mission trips in the past. While it has been a great experience to help each of these missionaries, I have never felt as if I were being led to pick up and move to another part of the world. Is it only those who are in foreign countries, serving as missionaries, that are on mission?

Read more...   

  Stay Focused and Committed
Over the last several weeks, we have learned many tangible lessons from the book of Joshua and this message is much the same. This lesson is about staying focused and committed. Do you ever wonder what causes us to lose focus in our lives? Have you ever found yourself struggling to stay focused? When we are busy at work, it is often easier to stay focused, as our minds are occupied. However, when we find that we have a lot of 'free time', we tend to relax. What is it that causes us to lose focus and wane in our level of commitment? It seems that it is pretty easy to stay focused when the task is right at hand and we need to devote significant attention to it. The 'all hands on deck' mentality can help to set a common goal for an immediate need or crisis. Of course, if this is the prevailing way a business is run, it begins to wear on the employees and eventually they begin to make mistakes.

Read more...   

  Work Through Conflict
Finally! We come across a lesson that none of us can relate to. We can sit back and casually read what this lesson says about conflict, because that is only a problem that others have, right? We may wish this to be true, but this lesson is undoubtedly one of the more applicable lessons that we will have. Conflict is all around us.

Read more...   

  Move Beyond Failure
Have you ever failed? You may never have failed a test or a class in school, but we all have failures that we have experienced in our lives. When we fail, we let ourselves down and at times, we let others down as well. When we are growing up and are in school, we all have probably seen how the actions of one person may impact a whole class and cause many to miss recess or do extra homework. When we think of issues in our world, we see how the impacts of a few people can even lead a nation to war. If you work at a business, one employee or CEO can have a huge impact on the whole workforce. It is very easy to see how the failures of a person can impact many others.

Read more...   

  Stick to God's Plan
What do you do when you encounter obstacles that appear to be huge? There are some obstacles that simply impede our progress, but are easily passed with minimal effort. However, there are other obstacles that make us stop in our tracks, with no seeming passage. At times, as believers, we feel certain that God has called us to do things, but when we encounter obstacles, we can easily be deterred. In fact, you will find that most of the time that you are following what God calls you to do; you will encounter problems that are beyond your own capability to manage. God sized tasks are not meant for us to do in our own power, but to rely upon Him. Waiting for an obstacle to shrink to where you can handle it on your own may mean that it never gets handled.

Read more...   

  Be Confident in God's Power
Have you ever started a task and then found out that you weren't really prepared for what you faced? Since I am not much of a do it yourself around the house type of person, I can say this becomes an issue in almost anything that I start to do. Sure, I can mow the yard, take out the trash, empty the dishwasher and so forth, but when it comes to the 'handyman' stuff, I am certainly beyond unqualified! I remember when I got my Electrical Engineering Degree, my grandmother thought that meant I could rewire the house! Oh, how wrong she was! Even when I have managed to tackle a project on my own, it is obvious that it wasn't done by someone who was more familiar with the problem. Thankfully, God has brought Berkley into my life and between the two of us we have been able to tackle several projects around the house, with the help of youtube videos and advice from Home Depot, Lowes and our other 'handy' friends.

Read more...   

  Accept God's Call
Have you ever felt like you were called to do something specific? As we go through life, we find that there are things that we are pretty good at and then there are other things that we try to avoid (due to our lack of skill). Many people who are skilled in certain areas and feel comfortable, so they may be content to stay where they are. For example, in most jobs, there are different levels of responsibility and expertise. As a person's career advances, they ultimately will end up in some position in which they feel challenged, perhaps more than they believe that they could handle on their own (at least with their current skill set). For some people, they will choose to stay in the same area for their entire career, seeking to be comfortable, even though it may cost them in the long run. Have you ever felt that you were asked to do something that you didn't believe that you could handle? Are you more apt to try to do something different or would you prefer to stay with what you know?

Read more...   

  Hold Money Loosely
If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it? I searched online and found a man on the street interview with some 'interesting' people in New York. They were each asked what they would do with a million dollars. There were some that said that they would give to the homeless or would build a homeless shelter. Others spoke about going to the casino or perhaps a trip to Vegas. Many of them said they would buy drugs, and one of them that said that acknowledged that it would cause a lot of problems in his life, due to his lack of control. Others would pay off debt and some would keep a portion and give the rest to others. How might you answer that question?

Read more...   


  Give Money Generously
Would you classify most people as being givers? Certainly, when there is a need, most people seem to be willing to give, if they are able. I've seen workplaces contribute towards needs of a fellow employee who is going through hard times. I've seen churches and Bible Study classes that are more than willing to provide for needs of others. When there are losses to families, people help provide meals for the family, as well as to do other tasks for them. In fact, when people give of their time for those in need, it is one of the best testimonies of the love of Christ, especially for those who see how that occurs. When someone is recovering from a surgery or when there is an addition to a family, people often will sign up for meals or whatever needs to be done.

Read more...   

  Spend Money Wisely
You may have heard about some people that have million dollar tastes, but they only have a shoestring budget. There are wide ranges of restaurants and associated costs for a meal. A nice expensive steakhouse may sound good, but going to the grocery store would be much wiser. There are even wide variances between grocery stores, so you must be wise as to where you shop. There are different types of department stores that are more amenable to different budgets. There are different models of cars that are more affordable than others. Obviously, you need to have some income in order to spend anything. And, you should also put some thought into how you spend your money.

Read more...   

  Save Money Diligently
You've likely heard the phrase "put a shiny penny in your pocket and save it for a rainy day". I was looking to see if that was a song, but my google search kept referring me to "catch a falling star and put it in your pocket', by Perry Como. Have you ever thought about how closely those two are tied for many people? For some, catching a falling star is about likely as saving that shiny penny seems to be!

Read more...   

  Earn Money Honestly
This next series of lessons is on money, which is an issue to which all of us can relate. While this lesson is primarily about earning money honestly, there will be additional lessons on saving, wise spending, generosity, how we use our money and on giving thanks. We learn about money at an early age. We may not have a concept of what it means to have a lot or a little, but even as small children, we see how our parents and others make transactions at stores or restaurants. When I grew up, our family primarily used cash, but today debit cards, credit cards and even smart phones are used to pay for goods. If you read this in the future, who knows what it will be?

Read more...   

  Practice Acceptance
Who do you find it easiest to accept? Most of us gravitate towards people that are more like us. We generally feel more comfortable with those who have similar likes and interests. It is easier to talk about things that we have in common. Berkley and I have really enjoyed watching the St Louis Cardinals and we have been fortunate to go to several games over the past couple of years. Talking about the Cardinals is easy if you are a fan or if you just truly enjoy baseball. However, when we are at the games and the fans for other teams are very boisterous, well, it can be much harder to accept. Acceptance can be based on where you are from, the type of food you like, the places you have traveled and so on. When there is commonality, there is more chance for acceptance.

Read more...   

  Practice Submission
While the concept of submission is important for the betterment of a society as a whole, it is a crucial aspect of the life of a believer. Believers are called to be the light of the world, or at least to reflect the light of Christ. The world would tell us that believers don't do a very good job at being different. It is easy for us to fall back into our worldly behavior when we are primarily focused on self.

Read more...   

  Practice Service
In this lesson, we are talking of service, as in serving someone. When you go to a restaurant and have a waiter or waitress, what type of service do you expect? Often, it depends on the type of restaurant, but generally we think of someone who takes our order, brings the food, refills drinks and takes care of other needs we may have while eating. We are often quick to talk about bad service if we don't believe that we were given the type of treatment we expected. In other areas, when we are being served, we have some expectation of how we might be treated. If you have served others, in a restaurant or in some other capacity, have you served them in the same way that you would desire to be treated?

Read more...   

  Practice Forgiveness
In this series of lessons, we often think of high level meanings of the topics, such as love, encouragement and forgiveness. We need to think about these topics, as they apply to day to day events in life. For example, we may think about forgiveness, as being forgiven by God, but many come up with many excuses as to why they are exempt from having to forgive others. In some cases, people may say that they have forgiven someone who may have wronged them in the past, but their actions belie their words. What is the impact of forgiving others? At times, we may feel like we let someone off of the hook or that we pretend that what they did was okay if we forgive them. We tend to forget that an attitude unwilling to truly forgive ends up hurting the one who is unwilling to forgive more than the one that they refuse to forgive. When you refuse to forgive, resentment sets in. As some have said "Resentment is the poison you feed yourself, hoping someone else will die." What should be different with forgiveness and being a believer and why?

Read more...   

  Practice Encouragement
When you think back in your life, who is it that has encouraged you? Many people will think back to a teacher or a coach who had an impact on their lives. Some are blessed with the encouragement offered by parents and other family members. I can think of many people who have encouraged me personally - in school, in athletics, in work and in life. Sometimes, encouragement comes from people who have had similar problems in a particular area and by hearing of their stories we can become encouraged to make changes in our own lives. On the other hand, do you believe that there are others who can say that you have been an encouragement to them? Sometimes, we tend to live our lives in such a way that we avoid others, or that we hide where we have had problems. When we do this, we lose a potential area where we can offer encouragement to someone else in need of being encouraged.

Read more...   

  Practice Love
This next series of lessons will briefly discuss some 'practices' that should be common to believers. From a thousand foot level, they seem to be easy things to do (when it is convenient to do). The practices are love, encouragement, forgiveness, service, submission and acceptance. In certain circumstances, these may seem easy for most, but they become very difficult when life doesn't go as we would have hoped. For example, it may be easy to love when people are lovable in return, but it becomes hard to love when we feel that it is all one sided or when we have been hurt by others. Similarly, it can be easy to encourage, forgive, serve, submit or accept in certain circumstances, but it can seem impossible in other situations. For some, even the high level view of these practices uncovers personal issues and can be very convicting.

Read more...   

  Exalted Like No Other
The impact of Christ on our lives is amazing, as He can change everything about us. We often get caught up solely on what his life means to us and when we do so, the focus tends to be on us and not on Him. In this lesson, we will remind ourselves of just what we have through Christ, and how He is truly exalted like no other.

Read more...   

  Taken To Heaven Like No Other
In his first book, the gospel of Luke, Luke wrote about many of the things that Jesus did and taught during his time on earth. Luke was a non Jewish doctor who gave a very detailed account in both the gospel of Luke and his second book, the book of Acts. In Acts, Luke continues the story and tells what was next for Jesus, and ultimately, what was next for the disciples, the early church, as well as you and I. I feel sure that they still had some of their own misconceptions about what was going to come. The disciples had experienced years with Jesus in ministry, as well as enduring the wide range of emotions associated with His capture, His death and then, marvelously, His resurrection.

Read more...   

  Resurrection Like No Other
In this brief series of lessons, we've seen that Jesus was like no other person to have ever lived. Some people have gone as far as to question whether Jesus really existed, but there are many proofs from many different sources that attest to the reality of His life on this earth. Some will say that the Bible is biased (so they throw that out as a basis), but there are many different classical and Jewish manuscripts that also point to the historical aspect of Jesus Christ. In this lesson, we take a brief look at the central point of the Christian faith, the resurrection of Christ.

Read more...   

  Death Like No Other
As Easter rolls around, we generally think of the resurrection of Christ, but this lesson focuses on aspects leading to Christ's death. Each of us will have to deal with death, at one time or another. Many have lost loved ones, in a variety of ways and at variety of ages. We can read about people that live to be older than 100 and eventually die of complications associated with old age. There are others who have died prematurely in accidents, or through all types of diseases, as well as some who have been killed by others or who have even taken their own lives. We know that, assuming that the world does not come to an end before we die, that we all will experience death one day.

Read more...   

  Teaching Like No Other
What would you be willing to give up in following Jesus? As believers, many would make changes in their lives if they thought they could manage with those changes and it didn't cause that big of a ripple in their lives. God might be talking to you even now about something that you know He wants you to do. Perhaps it is to become regular in giving of your finances to the church. Maybe He wants you to become involved in some ministry at church, or maybe He even wants you to step out in your workplace. Perhaps God is asking you to change the way you spend your money, so that you are able to help when others are in need. There are some people that God might be leading to quit their jobs and go into foreign missions. Sometimes, the things God asks us to do seem well within our ability to accomplish, while other times, it may seem to be a stretch. Perhaps if we KNEW that God was asking us to do something, we'd be more likely to do it, as opposed to thinking we are making something up. Or, at least we say it would be easier.

Read more...   

  Miracles Like No Other
This lesson examines one of the miracles that Jesus did, prompting even His own disciples to extend their faith in Him. In the gospels, there are approximately 37 miracles recorded. If even one of these miracles occurred today, there would be a following, but Jesus performed more than we can even remember and these are the only ones that were captured in Scripture. On a side note, I had often thought of one miracle that occurred often was that Jesus could speak and people could hear. You have likely been in a building for a meeting or conference where people could not hear the speaker without an adequate speaker system.

Read more...   

  Prophesied Like No Other
In this lesson, we briefly get into the prophecies of Christ. We won't examine them in detail, but you can find lists of over 300 Old Testament prophecies about Christ. Some may question a few, but there are an overwhelming number of prophecies that were clearly fulfilled in the birth, life and death of Christ. No other religious system has been as bold as Christianity to speak of prophesies in their "holy" Scriptures. Many of these religious works exist to point their followers to a simpler, more satisfactory life. Some are records of history and desire for the future, but do not contain prophecy. There are other 'prophets' that people have alluded to at times - Nostradamus is one that has attempted to predict the future. When his writings appear to be consistent with events in the world, you often have to let your thinking take a leap to match his predictions to what has happened. His writings never got specific enough to be "right" or "wrong". In fact, Nostradamus was likely a clever guy, writing his prophecies in such a way for open interpretation. Even when it can be 'assumed' that he got one right, he certainly does not qualify as a prophet according to the Scriptures. In Scripture, a true prophet is consistent with the rest of Scripture, ALL of their prophecies will come to pass and the prophet's prophesies will humble people, as opposed to puff them up. A prophet speaks God's word and not his own words. The aspects of prophets is fascinating to many and would make a good study, however this lesson is not that study.

Read more...   

  Ready When Sickness Comes to Stay
As we think of this lesson, there are at least a couple of key points. One is for you and/or I as we deal with persistent illness in our own lives. This isn't about a common cold or even the flu. It's not about allergies or other things that we deal with seasonally. We need to consider what our attitude should be when we realize that illness has come upon us and that we cannot shake it. The illness may or may not have a name and it may or may not be terminal. It may not mean that our time on this earth is shortened, but it does mean that we have to deal with something that impacts our physical well being. What type of attitude should we have?

Read more...   

  Ready When Sex Destroys
This lesson continues a series of lessons dealing with problems in our society. We have talked about injustice, poverty, self control and relationship restoration. In these final two lessons in this study, we will be looking at the issues related to sex and illness. We would like to think that we could live lives that are free of issues, but we all know better. When we encounter issues beyond our control, we need to seek Scripture to see how we should approach God's views. When we handle them to the 'best of our ability' or we react solely based on instinct, as we naturally would, we are often in opposition to what God calls us to do.

Read more...   

  Ready When Families Are Torn Apart
Do you know anybody that has a family that is totally intact, from the grandparents to the grandchildren, including all aunts and uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters? If you find that person, let them know how blessed they are, because nearly every person in this world has had issues with other family members at some point or another. The issues may be with one or two or all of them, but for whatever reason, there are those people that like to hold the things of the past over other family member's head for years, and perhaps even for life, causing huge rifts within the family. Certainly, there are some cases where abuse of all sorts has taken place and it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to forgive and restore relationships in those situations. But more often than naught, it has to do with the fall out that occurs when someone feels animosity towards another family member. The reasons can border on the preposterous - a perceived slight by a sibling towards you or your child. Or perhaps the reason for the divide is caused because a divorce has happened or a loved one has died. (I have seen some of the most outrageous things happen when people have to split an inheritance). Restoration and reconciliation do not necessarily mean that everything goes back to the way things were before the "incident" happened, but at the very least, we should be able to find peace with our past, and with others whom we have had issues with along the way.

Read more...   

  Ready When Pornography Controls
Pornography. With that one word, some people will want to shut this lesson down and go back to what they were doing. Statistics say that a large percentage of people have been involved in this (in some capacity), even within the church. This is probably one of the reasons why many people would rather not talk about it. It has sadly touched many lives at one point or another, and it always brings shame. You've likely seen one of the videos in which dogs had gotten into a trash can while the owner was away. In one of those videos, the 'human' is questioning the dogs about which one did it. Two dogs just look at the camera, but the third dog, with a large head surrounded by the kitchen trash can lid wants to go hide. I think many of us can relate to this dog, when we have been involved in sin and are found out.

Read more...   

  Ready to Help the Poor
This may apply more for men than women, but what is the first question that you are likely to ask another adult that you don't know? Typically, it is something along the lines of "What do you do?" or "Where do you work?" Once we hear their occupation (or lack thereof), are we liable to treat them differently? If you ask and someone says that they are the head of neurology at some prestigious hospital, might you treat them differently than the ones who clean the offices at night? Unfortunately, one of the 'bins' that we place people in is how successful they are financially. It would seem that we get drawn towards money and consumerism in some sort of way. If you watch much TV, you may start to believe that everyone 'has to have' what the commercials are trying to sell us.

Read more...   

  Ready When Injustice Prevails
Have you ever been personally impacted by a tornado or other fierce storm? It is amazing to see the damage that can be done. At times, tornadoes will plow very wide paths, impacting nearly everything in its way. At other times, it seems that a tornado can go from one side of a street to the other, leaving a perfectly intact house in between two homes that were destroyed by the storm. Around our world, there are many natural disasters that occur and in those places, humanity is unable to stand up to the force of nature. It might be tornadoes, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, cyclones or many other types of disasters. For some of these, we may have some advance warning when they are likely to occur, but other than to seek shelter, we are powerless to alter nature.

Read more...   

  The Shelter of God's Protection
Where in the world is there injustice? It is everywhere. In fact, our world seems to be spinning more and more out of control, with injustice rampant in many places. There is the oppression of cultural and religious groups throughout the world. There is widespread economic and social inequality. In the St Louis area, where Berkley and I live, there has been so much unrest leading to senseless killings of innocent people - certainly unjust. People will disagree as to which types of injustice are the most egregious, but I believe that everyone would agree that there is injustice in our world. Injustice can be so broad that it impacts an entire people group or as a small thing that impacts an area of a person's life.

Read more...   

  The Shelter of God's Forgiveness
As believers, we experience many precious aspects of God's shelter. It doesn't matter who you are, there will come a time where you cannot control events in your life, and at that point, where do you turn? We all know of those who have recently experienced loss of loved ones in their lives. Others have been experiencing medical trials in their own lives. There are others with relationship problems, financial strains and many other issues that are beyond their own capacity to handle. We all have experienced situations in our own lives that cannot be solved by a visit to a doctor or hospital; by reading a book or by the assistance of a close friend. It is in those times where we truly internally experience the benefits of being a believer. There is an internal peace that God brings, as the Bible states "a peace that passes understanding". God's presence is with us, which allows us to boldly go forth with confidence even when we feel a lack of confidence on our own.

Read more...   

  The Shelter of God's Peace
Let there be peace on earth. If you haven't sung it this year, you've likely heard those words in the past few weeks preceding Christmas. We'd love to think that peace is around the corner, but it seems our world is so far from peace that it will never truly happen. We have always known that there will be wars and rumors of wars in different parts of the world. In watching the nightly news, we have seen unrest in many parts of the world. We know that some of these areas of unrest go back hundreds of years. Some might think as the world gets 'closer' as information can be shared very quickly, people would become more educated and able to end some of these wars. However, it seems that this information is often used to further violence, as opposed to curbing it and bringing peace.

Read more...   

  Overcoming Obstacles to Worship
This lesson will discuss two primary topics and several sub topics. The primary Christmas story involves the Wise Men and their worship of the newborn king, although there is much discussion about when this event took place and placing the Wise Men at a manger scene is likely in error. The other primary topic involves some thoughts regarding our own relationships and perhaps it can serve each of us a time for a year end self assessment. These may seem to be two totally separate and distinct topics, but there are certainly some truths from the story of the Wise Men that can be applied to our relationships in some manner.

Read more...   

  The Shelter of God's Encouragement
Have you ever needed to be encouraged? Of course you have, since we all have that need from time to time. Some people act as if they have everything under control, at all times, but we know that is a front, as we all need encouragement. If you read these lessons often, you know that Berkley and I are avid sports fans (actually, probably I am more than her, but we both like to watch games). Have you ever thought about why there is at least a perception of home field advantage in most sports? In reality, the advantage isn't as huge as sports commentators and fans like to think it is, but there is a documented edge to the home team. If two teams had equivalent abilities and played multiple games at both places, you would expect the home team to win more often. This may be due to the impact of the fans on the teams or even the referees and umpires. If you were to play a game, it is often encouraging to have others there to watch you and to support you.

Read more...   

  The Shelter of God's Salvation
How important is confidence in your life? Whether you are attacking projects at work or at home, the appropriate amount of confidence helps you to feel more comfortable. If you are a student, confidence when taking an exam helps you to relax and generally have a better outcome. An athlete that is confident is more likely to perform his or her task better. Confidence is a key component in how we live our lives, and if we are unsure, we generally want to avoid anything that may be perceived as being difficult.

Read more...   

  The Shelter of God's Presence
This lesson is based on one of the most familiar passages to believers and many non believers alike. It is the 23rd Psalm. You have likely heard it read during times of grief and death, such as at a funeral. It does talk about the presence of God as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, but it also has a lot more to say about life.

Read more...   

  Ministry in the Face of Mental Illness
How do you feel when you come into contact with others who have mental illness? Given that there are so many instances and types of illnesses or disorders, it would seem that we should learn how to respond in a positive manner. Unfortunately, we often respond in ways that in no way show any concern, as we tend to look at symptoms and misinterpret them through our own lens of life. From a Christian standpoint, some will wrongly say that others are simply failing to trust God and will blame them for their problems, shaming them into silence. Some may wrongly say that others simply need to read the Bible and spend time in prayer. There are times when people legitimately need medical intervention or some form of counseling. While it may help to be able to talk to a friend about one's issues, amateur counseling can be detrimental in many ways. Sometimes we mean well, but we just don't know what to do and can actually make the situation worse.

Read more...   

  Beyond an Earthly Mindset
Compassion can be thought of as a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune. It is more than just a feeling, as it is often accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering (even if in just some small way). I am sure that there are exceptions to this rule, as some people seem to show little to no compassion for others. You may have heard of Compassion International which is a Christian child sponsorship organization dedicated to the long-term development of children living in poverty around the world. When we see the innocent children that are in the midst of such a situation, our hearts go out to them (and there is a corresponding desire among many to want to help). However, things change when the reports you see or read have an 'innocent' child holding a gun with a shoot to kill intent. We still feel sorry for the situation that they are in, but perhaps our compassion and the willingness to send money, shifts just a bit. Suddenly we find our compassion is challenged.

Read more...   

  Beyond Bitterness
What causes people to become bitter? Bitterness may be defined as unforgiveness fermented. Holding onto past hurts can rob any of us of joy in many parts of life. There is not a single one of us that will go through life without getting hurt in one manner or another. Even when people don't seem to react to hurts in life, we all will experience it. When we dwell on that hurt, it will impact us even more.

Read more...   

  Beyond Hard Times
Who do you know that is dealing with hard times today? We all know people that are suffering through all sorts of situations - and for some of us, those hard times are right now. During the Christmas holidays, you will often hear of the 100 neediest cases and the request for assistance in each of them. However, the truth is that there are thousands upon thousands more than 100, especially in larger cities. Some of them may have created their own situation and others are suffering through no fault of their own. There are many who have lost jobs, suffered diseases, lost loved ones or are in various different circumstances in life. People handle difficult situations in many different ways. On extremes, some will only focus on the situation, allowing it to define them. Others may focus on anything but that situation, putting it in the back recesses of their minds, acting as though nothing is wrong. Other people will handle difficult situations in just about every manner in between these extremes.

Read more...   

  Beyond being Forgotten
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Generations change, but when I was growing up, a boy might want to be a fireman, a professional athlete or a superhero. I would have liked to be a superhero, but thought a professional basketball player was much more attainable. I spent hours upon hours shooting at the goal behind my house and tried to play wherever I could, whenever I could. I remember my dad spending time with me, holding a broom up in front of me, and teaching me to shoot over outstretched arms. However, my coaches (and lack of supreme talent) never quite allowed that dream come true. We all start out with hopes and dreams of a life that will go as we desire. Granted, the dreams we have as a child change as we age. I never really thought about the same dreams (with the exception of a superhero, which I still think would be cool!).

Read more...   

  Beyond Temptation
We all are tempted in many different ways. It is interesting that some temptations are very difficult for certain people to deal with, while they have little to no impact on others. Sexual temptation is prevalent in today's culture and it is certainly a temptation for a lot of people. I know in watching a ton of baseball games on TV, both Berkley and I have been sickened by the various Hardees commercials that are sexual in nature. That's certainly not the only such explicit commercial that will show up during prime time viewing. While there are no small kids in our house anymore, it would be difficult to watch TV without having to explain some things that would make most parents uncomfortable around their young kids. Of course, it's not just commercials that bring this temptation - all sorts of movies, TV shows and online sites bank on the ability to tempt people. Even the prime time programs that are shown today are full of innuendo that distorts our thinking.

Read more...   

  Beyond Betrayal
Betrayal. It is the word we don't want to be on either side of. We can think of high profile betrayers that come to mind almost immediately. In the Bible, the name that most often comes to mind is Judas, who betrayed Jesus into the hand of his captors. Of course, you can go back through Scripture and find others examples of betrayal that are much less well known. Betrayal is something that impacts people personally. A synonym is the word traitor, and while closely related, this is when a person's actions has impacted a large group of people that have placed their trust in him or her. In modern United States history, the name that most will say by default is Benedict Arnold. I would imagine that answer would come to your mind, but if you had to say what Benedict Arnold did, many would struggle to tell the story. He defected from being a general in the American forces to becoming a general in the British forces. Of course, the story is much more detailed, but most people know of the name Benedict Arnold, and that he was a traitor. Even when people know nothing of what he actually did, they associated his name with that of a traitor.

Read more...   

  Connected with Prayer
This is the final lesson in a series on being connected as believers. It is important to identify the ways we are connected, but other than our relationship with Christ, there is truly no more powerful connection than what we have in prayer. What comes to mind when you think of prayer? Some see prayer as a short sentence or two that they say prior to a meal. Others may think of what they say before they go to sleep, or before they begin their day. Some people give very little thought to prayer and don't seem to think a thing about it until a crisis comes up. There are some people that have found prayer to be a very vibrant part of their relationship with God. In just about any church, you can find a wide range of view on prayer. Most of us remember where we were on September 11, 2011 when the acts of terror occurred against the United States. Many people ended up in impromptu church services, praying for our nation, the families who had suffered loss and for God's peace. I remember how incredible it was to see churches packed all over the country, seeking community and seeking God.

Read more...   

  Connected through Words
Words have power, don't they? You probably remember the saying from younger days which said "Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me" - (uh….yeaaahhh) I would venture to say that we could all easily recall some very painful words that were spoken to us even as young children - so try as we might to loosen the grip those words have on us, we find they are as stuck in our minds as an overcooked egg is on a frying pan.

Read more...   

  Connected in Growth
This lesson is about being connected in growth. When you see a baby that needs someone to feed them a bottle, you may think it is cute. However, when you see an adult that needs to be fed in the same proverbial way, it is pitiful. As humans, we mature - our bodies grow and at some point, we put aside childish thoughts and become more like 'big kids'. Certainly, there are some people with problems that cause them to never mature intellectually, but the vast majority of people do mature, both physically and mentally. The same should be said about our faith. When we are saved, we are saved from eternal separation from God, but at the same time, we are also saved to change and grow. It is a lifelong process; one that you will never fully mature in, but if you are not on that journey, don't you see that you are missing something? As you read this lesson, consider where you are in your growth. Don't compare yourself to someone else, but ask God to show you areas where you need to take a step in growth.

Read more...   

  Connected in Unity
There are many reasons why people are involved in a church. Church can help draw us closer to the Lord and to align to the will of God. Church can help believers find purpose and give us avenues to carry out God's purpose for our lives. For many, the church is where people find the closest and most honest relationships, as they share their lives and faith with one another. We can truly learn more about God by hearing how He is at work in the lives of others. As believers, we realize that we need fellowship with other believers, so that we can encourage, support and help reinforce each other as we live out our faith. For many believers, they will find that if they do not attend church for an extended period of time, they will become like a piece of coal that is separated from the fire, losing the heat and glow. The church can provide a lot of things to a lot of different people, but there are some important aspects that help to keep believers connected in unity in and out of church.

Read more...   

  Connected in Christ
What does it mean to be connected? In business, people often talk about their connections. One popular site for working professionals is LinkedIn, and some people have hundreds of connections. After you've worked someplace for a large company, you tend to get to know many different people. Connections are good when you are looking for a job, as they can serve as references for you and can help make you aware of job possibilities. We see the importance of being connected, as it can open some avenues for us in many areas of life. I've played basketball for several decades and over that time, I have gotten to know many athletes of varying capability. That led to being included on teams in multiple leagues. Although I am still connected to many of these people, I don't seem to get as many requests to play on teams anymore!

Read more...   

  God Forgives
>Back in 1830 George Wilson was convicted of robbing the United States Mail and was sentenced to be hanged. President Andrew Jackson issued a pardon for Wilson, but he refused to accept it. The matter went to Chief Justice Marshall, who concluded that Wilson would have to be executed. "A pardon is a slip of paper," wrote Marshall, "the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. If it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged."

Read more...   

  Stay Surrendered
What do you think about when you hear surrender? In the context of war, to surrender implies that you are giving up and ceding the victory to the opposing side. Nobody begins a war with the thought of surrendering, but that is ultimately what it takes for a war to end. In ending the Second World War, the Pacific Allied Commander gave terms of unconditional surrender with no qualifications to Tokyo. When surrender occurs, you do not get to select optional areas to hold back. In war, a side doesn't surrender until they see have no other choice. This is the essence of Christianity, as we will surrender to Christ when we see that He can provide for us in a way that we never could.

Read more...   

  Learn to Sing
There are plenty of reasons that we have to be joyful, but we seem to be easily distracted towards the things that can steal joy from our lives. Certainly there are some people that you and I know that have had to deal with intense circumstances in which it is nearly impossible to have joy. We tend to forget the persecution that the original recipients of this letter were under. In every chapter of 1 Peter, Peter speaks about suffering and persecution of the church. While we may feel some sense of persecution today, it doesn't even come close to what these people dealt with, yet they were encouraged to find joy.

Read more...   

  Keep a Clear Conscience
We have two dogs, Sarah Sally and Lily Bell. We like to refer to Lily as Guilty Bell, because it is obvious when she has gotten into something that she knows she shouldn't have. We walk into the house after being gone (for five minutes or all day), and you can tell right away when Lily has gotten into something. You may not even know exactly what it is, but her demeanor is evident. She doesn't want to look at you and she tends to go into a corner as to hide. Sarah, on the other hand, doesn't tend to get into as much, or when she does, it doesn't really seem to bother her. In some cases, I think Lily takes the blame for Sarah's deeds at times, although without a camera installed in the kitchen, we may never truly know.

Read more...   

  Entrust Yourself to God
There is a story I have heard of a guy who moved to a monastery to get closer to God, and in doing so, he took a vow of silence. He could only say two words every seven years. The first time, he went to the head monk (the abbot) and said "Bed hard". Seven years later, he went and said "Food bad". In another seven years, he said "I quit". The abbot said "It doesn't surprise me. All you have done since you got here is complained!" While that is a funny story, it should give us all a little pause on multiple accounts. First, we all tend to complain (even more than this guy!) and second, how is our view of people that we have only encountered a couple of times created? What if I had only seen somebody for a few minutes at a time over 20 years? Their view of me might be based on a very bad day or a very good day (just as my view of them might be). Isn't it strange how we have opinions of people based on a very short exposure to them? Haven't you found people to be quite different once you spend time with them? Have you ever wondered why we create a snap judgment without ever really trying to understand who somebody really is?

Read more...   

  Walk in Holiness
When you think of walking, as opposed to running, what comes to mind? For one, it is at a slower pace, with the exception of speed walkers and slow joggers. However, to walk implies to be what you do by default. Some people train for races, but even those who are doing marathons will walk from their house to their car and most other places they go. To walk in holiness implies that some form of holiness should be our default behavior and tendency. The next thing we need to consider is what holiness means. For some people, they see anything that is holy as being sapped of any joy or fun. They might think of monks that live in a monastery, apart from the world. However, the truest definition of holiness is to be whole, complete, lacking nothing.

Read more...   

  Put Your Hope in Jesus
People hope for all sorts of things. Hope may be related to the weather or a sports team, or an outcome of a situation in life. When the lotteries get really high, we read about the lines of people that will form at stores for the slight chance to win a zillion dollars. (They don't seem to have the time when it is merely a few million). Most of the things that we hope for are things that we believe will enhance our situation in one way or another, here and now. It may be that we hope for something a few years in the distance, but most things we hope for are in this life (which is all we know by experience). The one thing that we know about specific situations and hope in life is that our hopes are often dashed. The weather doesn't hold for the big outdoor event. Our favorite sports team loses a heartbreaker. The company we have put our time and effort into for many years, lets people go with little notice. Relationships fail. People do end up with diseases and experience loss.

Read more...   

  God is Forgiving
Have you ever wished you could go back and change the past? I certainly do. We've all made mistakes in the past that we would never make a second time, and for many, we wish we could go back and undo those decisions because of the pain we caused others. Unfortunately, until a time machine has been developed that allows any of us to do that, we really have no way to go back and change anything about our past. You cannot change where you grew up. You cannot change the family you had as a child. You cannot change the things that you experienced. You cannot change the decisions that you made, whether good or bad. You cannot take away consequences to past actions. You cannot win a game that you lost, or lose a game that you won.

Read more...   

  God is Just
What does it mean to be just? In our judicial system, we would expect justice to prevail, but we find that is so often not the case. If we were honest with and about ourselves, we would realize that there are times when if justice was truly served, we would all have to face some sort of music. None of us has made it through life without making our own share of mistakes and hurting someone in the process. Certainly, some seem to make more mistakes than others, but none of us is perfect, and if we wanted God to be truly just, none of us would be able to stand before God on our own righteousness. So, before we read this lesson thinking about somebody else, let us consider our own situation.

Read more...   

  God is Wise
In this series of lessons, we have examined some of the attributes of God. When we think of them and study them, we see that God exhibits these attributes completely and perfectly, while there are aspects of these attributes that we strive for. When this series is complete, the lessons will have examined God's holiness, His love, His faithfulness, His wisdom, His justice and His forgiveness. Some people could care little about holiness, although this should be something that believers strive for. And, it would seem that some people care little about justice, as long as they can get what they want. However, most people want their lives to have some aspect of love, faithfulness, wisdom and forgiveness.

Read more...   

  God is Faithful
Faithfulness is something that is highly valued, but something we see very little of. In just about every aspect of life, people go from one thing to the next. I like to follow sports, and it is difficult to see a favorite player leave your favorite team and go play for another (Albert Pujols, now an Angel, as one example). I suppose that is part of life now, but it seems more and more common and it is hard to blame a player for making money if the market allows it. We see this in people's jobs, pursuits, relationships and in so many other things. As believers, we want to say that we are always faithful to Christ, but if you've grown up around church, you may remember the hymn "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" which clearly stated, "prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the One I love". Unfortunately, we can all relate to this "proneness".

Read more...   

  God is Loving
What does God's love have to do with our lives? Are we called to love others? For most of us, it is easy for us to love those who are lovable. But, we can all agree that not everybody in our lives is lovable. Still, we are called to love one another. In John 13:35, Jesus states "By this all men will know that you are my disciples; if you have love for one another." If this is the measuring bar, would anybody think you are a disciple of Christ?

Read more...   

  God is Holy
What does it mean to be holy and how is it used in our world today? If you think of just about any usage of the word 'holy' in movies and literature, it always has some connotation associated with sacredness and some relationship to God, even for those who don't believe in God. Of course, there are the words that some people might use, such as 'holy smoke!', and that has no connection to God when used as a phrase of surprise. Some people refer to anything that is set apart as being holy, although in most cases, there is some notion of sacredness or being used for religious purposes. In church, we used to sing a song about standing on holy ground. Holy ground implies the presence of God and in His presence we should behave in a way that shows respect. Some people may think of a person that has dedicated or devoted their lives to the service of God or the church, as in a holy man (or woman). As believers, we are called to live holy lives, indicating that we should be devout in what we do and seek to live as godly as possible. There are likely many different ways that people view holiness, both among believers and others. However, what any of us know as holiness is only a hint of holiness. True holiness comes from God, so it is important for us to get some understanding of what it actually means to say that God is Holy.

Read more...   


  The Resurrection of Christ
There is one thing that we all will experience in life. People say you can't avoid death and taxes. Well, some might find loopholes around paying taxes, but none of us can cheat death. It is a reality that we all age. When we are younger, we want it to hurry up. When we are older, we want it to slow down! People will do almost anything to avoid aging. Many keep staying active as long as possible, knowing that if they stop, it will be much harder to get going again. We see people playing sports in different leagues (non professional) until they are a lot older. I have played basketball for most of my life, but I was most impressed with an elderly man that played with us, Mack. We were in our 30s and 40s - Mack was retired and in his 70s. Sure, he may have lost a step, but it was impressive that he kept going at it. There are others who will go for surgery after surgery in order to try and look as if they are a lot younger.

Read more...   

  Hope Shared
When do we learn to share? The most common word among small children playing together is 'mine'. One of my favorite comedians is Brian Regan and he talked about growing up as the youngest sibling, in a house where you had to call your things. "I call that chair". He found that wasn't a universally known phrase when he got to school and said "I call that desk". His teacher said, yes, Brian, we all call that desk. At home, he would use it in a negative way, so that he appeared to be happy with what he got. He would call his spot in the car, as the back seat, sitting on the hump, which caused his parents some concern. He shouldn't 'want' the hump, should he? I guess if you learn to like that seat with the hump, being the youngest kid in a family isn't so bad. Isn't it amazing how we take ownership of things (well, at least the good things) and at times, we don't want others to have it? Perhaps it is your favorite food, like Girl Scout Cookies or ice cream or something you really enjoy in a restaurant. Maybe it is your golf clubs or your car or some other possession. When there are things that we truly like, we tend to want to keep them for ourselves, especially as we are younger.

Read more...   

  Hope Renewed
Failure. We have all experienced it, perhaps in large ways or small. As students, we probably all have failed a test (or two) at one point or another. Either we studied the wrong material or we didn't study at all. If you want to graduate, you learn from that failure and change the way you study in the future. In doing home improvements or assembling a complex device, we have all likely ended up with something left over, or putting something in backwards. Even the professionals can read a blueprint wrong. When I was in college and working summers with a construction group (as the one who had to do the jobs nobody else wanted to do (and didn't require skill!) ), one plumber read the blueprint wrong in a series of apartment buildings that were being constructed and hooked up all the plumbing backwards in one of the buildings. That summer, I learned how to use a concrete saw to dig up what he had done, so that he could do it again. In relationships, we have all failed. We don't always say the right things or do the right things. We know how failure can damage a relationship, if not sever it completely. Some failures are easier to recover from than others. Other failures can have life altering impact.

Read more...   

  Hope Expressed
Who are some people that you respect? When we are young, we are taught to respect our elders. In school, we are taught to respect our teachers and other authority figures. We tend to respect those whom we esteem and hold in honor. I know that there are many elderly people that I respect, as their lives have been excellent examples to younger folks. There are many words of wisdom that we could hear if we would only allow ourselves to listen. There are other people that we should respect because of their position. Children should respect their parents, even if they disagree with their parents. (This continues as we grow older and have children of our own - that we should show respect to our parents). We should ask ourselves if we are showing respect the people that God has said that we should show respect for.

Read more...   

  Hope Personified
This continues a series of lessons on hope. We all need hope in some area of our lives, and those of us who are believers have that hope ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ. In this life, we hope for all sorts of things and we know that Jesus can do all things, but life doesn't always turn out as we might hope. There are some people in situations that have their hopes fulfilled, and others in the same situation suffer loss. One does not have more faith than the other, nor does there appear to be any rhyme or reason why some things happen the way they do. There is no formula for 'getting your desires fulfilled', because if there was, we would be all about following that formula for what we could get out of it.

Read more...   

  Hope Found
In the previous lesson, we learned how we all need hope. While it is not always the case, we know that there can be and have been things that are beyond our capability to handle. When you are in the midst of those things, don't you just wish others knew what you were dealing with and gave you a break? Sometimes, it seems that others simply pile on when all you would want is for some understanding. What about others you encounter? Have you ever thought about what they wished you knew what they were going through? Have you thought about the times when you may have been short with somebody who didn't respond as you wanted them to, without even thinking about the things that they deal with? Although some people just seem mean by nature, any of us are likely to be on edge when we are dealing with a seemingly hopeless situation.

Read more...   

  Hope Needed
What do you think of when you think of hope? It can have to do with something desired. Many of us have been hoping for an early spring this year. We have no control over the timing of the seasons. Berkley and I recently watched the 2014 NCAA Basketball Tournament, and saw the University of Kentucky appear to 'hope' that they could hit their free throws, which allowed the University of Connecticut the opportunity to win (they hit all of theirs in that game). Having no control over the game, all we could do was hope. Certainly, even the best shooter can't ensure they make every free throw, but they should be more than simply hoping that the shot goes in. There are some cases in which we do more than hope, as we have an expectation. For example, when we drive, we expect people to follow the rules of the road - stopping at red lights (okay, maybe we just hope for that), staying in their lanes, going the same direction as the rest of the traffic and so forth. Sometimes, we have expectations in that things will go the way we want and that others will do what we want, and that can lead to manipulation. You can see that there are varying degrees of hope, from no control to having control to assuming you have control.

Read more...   

  Give Work a Rest
Many of us look forward to resting every night, and recharging. How do you feel when you've had a good night's rest? A good rest will help you function better the next day. If you don't sleep enough, you are likely somewhat cranky and tired. If you sleep too much, you might also feel more tired than you would imagine. Our bodies need a certain amount of rest to operate at peak performance. Granted, it is different for each person, but we all need to get rest. We need rest each day, and if you go hard every day, you will need to take a day off every few days in order to maintain optimal performance.

Read more...   

  Put Your Money to Work and Work Your Plan
This is a two lesson continuation of the series of lessons on work. In the first part of this lesson, we will talking about how we should use the resources that we have, and how we should be able to help others in need. In the second part of this lesson, we will discuss the importance of having a plan in regards to our resources.

Read more...   

  What We Work For
Most people don't really like the sermons on money. I know some people that claim that every time that they show up at church, the preacher discusses money. The preacher may talk a lot about money, but if someone thinks it is every week, the real problem is that they don't go to church enough. How much does giving play in the life of a Christian? Or, perhaps, more importantly, how important is giving in your life? Giving to your church is tax deductible, but I wonder how many people would still give if that deduction was taken away? God provides for us, in part, so that we can give to help others, including the church. Our giving should be something that we plan and follow through on. It is from what we have, and not what we have left over. I believe that it is important for us to be reminded from time to time of the importance of giving and that is precisely the point of this passage.

Read more...   

  Who We Work For
When you are meeting someone for the first time, what is the first question you ask? Perhaps it is not the most universal question, but for many people, the question is "What do you do for a living?" Certainly, not everyone has a job, but it is one of the most common aspects of individuals no matter where they live or what their background is. Perhaps we put too much worth on a person's career or occupation, as the same person could be working at a fast food restaurant or in a large corporation, or any other job. It may depend on the drive of the individual, their financial situation and ability to attend or not attend college, who they know or if they have caught a lucky break.

Read more...   

  Good Work
How do people view work? Some people are workaholics and find themselves working almost all of the time. Many of them sacrifice things that others consider of more importance for their career. They may see work as the most important aspect of life and may believe others that don't work as hard are slackers. For these people, a career takes on such importance that it occupies the majority of a person's non sleeping time and can have a negative impact on other areas of life. There are other people that only seem to work for the weekend. They put their time in at a job, but they do so in order to be able to afford to do other things that require money. Other people work in order to survive, as they barely scrape by meeting their bills. Other people work to take up their time, regardless of whether they need more money or not. For these people, work might one way to stay busy and connected with other people. There are some people that want to work, but can't find a job. Others have jobs, but don't want to work. And some people give up paying jobs for jobs that require more hours and no paycheck.

Read more...   

  Courage of Joseph
For some people, courage involves facing fears and trusting that God will get them through it. Some have fear of flying and if they can't get past that, they may miss out on time with family and friends in faraway places. Some have fear of speaking in front of others and if they can't get past that, they may stifle opportunities in a career. Some have fear of conflict at all, and more often than not, not addressing conflict can lead to more conflict. When we face issues in life that are unexpected or that make us uncomfortable, courage may be found in short supply. However, if we do not choose to face our fears and be courageous, we may miss out on other blessings, and we may, in fact, make life much more difficult.

Read more...   

  If God Is Good, Why Is There Suffering?
In the past few lessons, we've talked briefly about the existence of God and Creation. There are many different ways to point to evidence for both of those, although there are many arguments that people will raise. Truly, when you realize how it all fits together, the arguments pale in comparison. We certainly can't answer every question, which is even acknowledged in Scripture, as we learn that God's ways are not our ways, and God's thoughts are not our thoughts. We would like to be able to answer more questions when people ask, but there are some that pose to be quite difficult. This lesson touches on one of those questions that people will often bring up.

Read more...   

  How Did We Get Here… and Why?
In February of 2014, there was a debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye. Ken Ham is the co-founder of Answers in Genesis and founding of the Creation Museum. Bill Nye is more likely known by more people today, due to his Disney/PBS children's science show "Bill Nye the Science Guy", which ran in the mid to late 1990s. The topic of their debate was "Is creation a viable model of origins?". This is obviously not the first time this subject has been debated, and it is not likely that anyone will be won to one side or the other based on the debate. In many debates (political included), there is often disagreement on base points and definitions, so that the debaters often end up talking past one another. In this debate (as in many others that have preceded it), neither side was willing to allow for any evidence to change their mind. This is often true for many people today, as many live in closed intellectual systems, refusing to accept any evidence to the contrary of their own belief.

Read more...   

  Why Should I Trust the Bible?
Many of the tenets of Christianity and our beliefs about God are traced back to the Holy Bible, which is God's word. But, many people still question Scripture and its validity. On one hand, there are so many authors, so many different translations and it has been around for so many years - so some people would certainly assume it is fraught with error. Some people see the Bible as a 'great' book, but they are not convinced it is factual. They point to different interpretations of Scripture and point out that if it was really God's book, everyone would agree on the meaning of all passages. Many people will go to great lengths to try and find contradictions, but the amount of evidence for the validity of the Bible is certainly overwhelming.

Read more...   

  What About People Who Have Never Heard of Jesus?
We've all heard about good news and bad news. A few years ago, I was watching "The Bucket List" and there was a line about the bad news and worse news. It is very important for us to hear the bad news, even when we don't want to. For one reason, it makes us appreciate the good news all the more. Additionally, if you were to go to a doctor and you don't get the bad news, the problem could be misdiagnosed such that the solution wouldn't really work. The doctor who refuses to give out bad news does not help the patient.

Read more...   

  How Can I Be Sure God Exists?
This lesson asks a very important question - How Can I Be Sure God Exists? There are many people that simply don't believe in God. Perhaps they believe that if God existed, then there would be no evil in the world. Or, if God existed, people wouldn't have terminal illnesses. Some believe that if God existed, He would manipulate them (or more importantly others) to do the right thing, all the time. Some people believe that belief in God is for simpletons and fools. We see the technological advances that have happened in our world and to many, God seems outdated.

Read more...   

  Is Every Life Sacred?
This lesson is the sanctity of life lesson. There is one lesson each year that is devoted to the sanctity of life. Why do you think that is important? It would appear that there is an assault on human life in our culture. In movies and in video games life is often devalued, killing is depicted commonly, over and over. Many people start to see other humans in the same way. We've seen school shootings on multiple occasions. We've seen many other crimes in which people have been killed for no specific purpose. There is a violent stunt that is growing in popularity among teenagers. It is called "knockout" and it involves assaulting people without any warning and it has claimed multiple lives. The 'victims' are not even known to the assailants and are chosen at random. Defenseless and unsuspecting people are attacked by groups of teens who have one goal in mind: to knock the victim out with one punch. Clearly, these lives are of no value to the people playing the game. We hear about these atrocities and while we feel bad for those who have suffered, you can always see the shock when someone is interviewed and says that they never thought it could happen in their town, neighborhood or school.

Read more...   

  A Life You Can't Live on Your Own
We tend to think that we can handle whatever comes our way. Many have an attitude of "I've got this", believing that they can truly take care of any situation. We often vastly overestimate our own ability and resources. There are things that we can handle, but there are other situations in life that no manner of money can solve. There are problems that we encounter that no level of intellect can fathom. Human ability can get you so far, but it cannot handle every situation you meet.

Read more...   

  A Fight You Can't Win By Yourself
During this holiday season, we see many of the standard Christmas movies. Of course, there is "It's a Wonderful Life", "Christmas Vacation" and "A Christmas Story". There are many more that get played, but it seems each year, you can watch "A Christmas Story" on some channels over and over and over. If you've seen the show, you know of the phrase "You'll shoot your eye out!" I often think of the neighborhood bullies in the show, Scut Farkus and his sidekick Grover Dill. These bullies would terrorize the other kids on their way to school. One day, Ralphie, the main character, has had a bad day and Farkus gets in his way. Ralphie snapped and beat up Farkus, with all the kids watching. Nobody thought it could be done.

Read more...   

  An Identity You Must Embrace
Have you ever wondered why countries in our world that have overthrown dictatorships often fall back into another dictatorship? We applaud the initial changes in these countries, but in many cases, it doesn't seem that it is too long before the former 'bad guy' is replaced with the new 'bad guy - who is often worse than the old one'. Often, this is due to the emphasis on getting rid of the old dictator, with no plan on how to govern without him (or another one). This analogy doesn't just stop with countries. Soon, it will be the start of another new year, and people will be making resolutions (most of which are not kept - sorry to burst your bubble if you think you might be different). We see people that have gone on exercise binges, or have started doing some other thing that they know that they should do (or stopped doing something else they know they shouldn't do). In fact, they really want to change. You and I have been there. We have desired to change - we truly have. Yet, when we focus on getting rid of some behavior, we usually create a void that needs to be filled. Without some other behavior in place, we find that our old habits are very easy to fall back into.

Read more...   

  The Gift You Can't Give Yourself
In the book of Romans, we learn of the universality of sin. It is something that we all deal with. However, there must be a distinction made between sin and mistakes. For example, this week's lesson was supposed to be last week's lesson, and vice versa. I goofed. I misread the material and made a mistake. However, this isn't a sin to which I am accountable to God. We need to realize that people are human and people will sometimes make a well intentioned mistake. You go to the store and forget to bring home something that you needed. You forget to take out the trash and miss trash day on your street. There are so many things that we do that may infuriate ourselves, but in and of themselves, they are not sin.

Read more...   

  A Love You Can Experience
None of us are truly deserving of God's love. We still struggle with doing the things we know we should do and yet, God still loves us. Through belief in Jesus Christ, we have been justified. I came across this story a few years ago, and it helps to make that point.

Read more...   

  A Problem You Can't Solve
This lesson discusses the issue of a problem you can't solve. I like doing Sudoku puzzles, and I have gotten pretty good at them over the years. Sometimes, I can do the extremely difficult ones, but they can take a really long time, and I may have to resort to looking at the answers in the back of the book. Once, on a Southwest airline trip, I was working the 'easy' puzzle in their magazine. As it turned out, it was not easy, and I was stuck. So, I looked around to make sure nobody was looking and turned to the solution in the back of the magazine. (Why I care about others on a flight thinking that I am cheating at Sudoku, I don't know). I found the puzzle and to my dismay, the solution was for the wrong puzzle, so I was stuck. Have you ever found yourself at that point; facing a problem that you thought you knew how to solve, but later found out that you didn't have the right resources?

Read more...   

  Thank You, Lord
Thanksgiving is coming up soon. What do you have to be thankful for this year? It's great that we have a day that is called out for us to remember to be thankful and I believe that we all should be thankful for many things. Even when life has not been exactly what we had hoped it would be, there are blessings that we have received all around us - we may have to shift our focus to see them, but they are there. Sometimes, people will spend this holiday in 'thanks thinking', instead of thanks giving. Hopefully, this year, you can stop and be thankful for what you have been given, as opposed to being upset because of what you do not have, and take the time to actually say 'thank you' to those around you instead of hoping they know it.

Read more...   

  The Big Picture
Have you ever tried to put together a puzzle without looking at the box? It might be easy with the large piece puzzles that you had as a preschooler. For most of us, they were wooden ones with a few big pieces, but if you are a teenager today, perhaps you recall an online puzzle (my, how things have changed!). However, when you start thinking about the 1000 (or more) piece puzzles (with small pieces) that have a background that is similar in many places, it is almost impossible to put that puzzle together without the picture on the box.

Read more...   

  Step In
What do you think of when you hear the words step in? For many parents, they think of the times when they have to step in and break up a fight between their children, or minimally help settle a disagreement. For some people, they think of times when they have had to step in and fill in for somebody else (taking someone else's place to teach a class or give a presentation). People can step in to perform a task for somebody else or to assist others resolving issues they may have. If you follow hockey, you may have seen referees that basically sit and watch two players fight until they are so tired that they almost fall over, so that the referee doesn't get hurt himself. Many people would seem to want to watch these fights and hope that the referee never steps in (or so it seems if you are at a hockey game!).

Read more...   

  Stand Your Ground
What does it mean to speak up or to stand your ground? There may be times when issues have progressed to the point where you find it necessary to address them with the other person or persons. Often, for people who are hesitant to address conflict (such as myself), this can be a difficult thing to do. When you shrink from conflict, you may find that others may use manipulation and other similar techniques to attempt to control you. The danger in employing this technique of stepping up and standing your ground is that those who have been able to control you in the past will not likely take this change kindly, at least at the onset.

Read more...   

  Stand Down
Standing down can be a difficult thing for some people to do. It seems that in some ways we've taught our kids that everybody can be a winner. That may create a generation that thinks that they should always get their way. You can find people that are from only children families that seem to think the world should revolve around them, and you can find people that are from large families that have learned to fight for anything that they get. If you want to win every argument and force others to go your way, you'll likely lose some key relationships along the way while doing so.

Read more...   

  It's Not About Me
It's Not About Me. This is pretty much the exact opposite of what the world will tell you. Burger King used to have the slogan "Have it your way", because they know that is what we want to hear. Many other commercials on TV and radio, as well as the Internet are targeted to 'me' and what 'I' want. On the Internet, your tendencies are often tracked, so you'll find ads that are very much targeted at you. All of this leaves us with the impression that it is okay to put ourselves first.

Read more...   

  Even Christians Collide
This lesson is about something that we know, but we don't like to say. Even Christians Collide. We'd like to think that our clashes only arise with people who are not following God's plan, however, we know that conflict occurs between all different types of people. In fact, some of the bigger conflicts seem to occur in church and among believers. Could it be because when someone fails (which all of us will from time to time), we don't know how to deal with it? Or, could it be because of unrealized expectations from another person? Or, could it be that we think that everything should revolve around our own point of view? The truth is that conflict can come between anybody, and for just about any reason you could imagine.

Read more...   

  The Pressure of Retaliaion
There are three different aspects of this lesson from the first eleven verses of James 5. The first part talks about the issues involved with wealth. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with wealth in and of itself, but it can become a problem when people base their decisions in life on wealth (and themselves) rather than others. The second part of the lesson involves patience. You've likely heard that it isn't wise to pray for patience, because God will give you a situation when you need it. We live in a society where people want what they want now. We need to learn patience and trust that God will provide. The last part of the lesson involves the issues when we complain against one another and when we deal with suffering.

Read more...   

  The Pressure of Conflict
Conflict is all around us. In fact, right at this point in time, there is probably somebody with whom you are in conflict with. For some people, relationships with neighbors have become something akin to the Hatfields and McCoys. They don't seem to like each other, but it's gone on for so long that they don't really know why - it's just that they know that they are 'supposed' to be in conflict. For others, it is public conflict with other people that have different ideas. You can find many people who want to not only stand for a cause today, but they will fight against anyone who thinks otherwise. Our nation is great in that there is value in the diversity of ideas, but over time, you find that if your ideas are not the same as someone else's, they often resort to name calling. There are many families with all different types of conflict that occurs. The list of potential areas of conflict in life is huge.

Read more...   

  The Pressure of Words
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. Remember when you were a kid and that used to seem to be funny? It only takes living a few years for that phrase to cause a sting in our lives. There are words that people say that may have been intended to help you, but end up causing pain. How many parents have said things that were meant to be an encouragement to their kids, only to realize that they were more problematic than helpful? For example, you have tremendous potential (often implying, "why aren't you achieving it?") There are words that are said but never meant - How many of us have said in response to 'How are you' - fine - when it was not the case. We know that words can be used to lift people up and encourage them, and we also know that words can be used as weapons to destroy others.

Read more...   

  The Pressure of Partiality
Berkley and I recently watched the movie "42", the story of Jackie Robinson. It was a very good movie and highlighted how some people treat others differently, in this case, because of the color of skin. In one scene, a man and his son were at a ball game. Everything was okay until the father starts yelling racial slurs at Jackie Robinson. The son was confused by it, but in just a few minutes, he joined right along with his dad. The son learned that inappropriate behavior from his dad. What have you learned from others, and perhaps more importantly, what have you taught them unintentionally, in regards to how you treat other people of all different types?

Read more...   

  The Pressure of Temptation
This lesson is about the pressure of temptation. There is no reason to define temptation here, because we all know what it is. Temptation of different types is something that most of us deal with almost daily. It has been said that opportunity only knocks once, but temptation leans on the doorbell.

Read more...   

  The Pressure of Trials
There are many different types of trials that we may face. Once trials are over, we often see benefit in them. However, when we are going through different types of trials, it might be hard to convince ourselves of the benefit. There are certainly some trials that are appreciate and looked forward to. For example, an athlete may spend many months training for an event. Their training is done to help make them ready when trials are over. Athletes may be striving for their best personal time and their efforts lead to that.

Read more...   

  God Completes the Story
Although the story of the Bible is complete, the story of your life goes on and on. Sometimes, I wish that I could fast forward and see what God does in different situations, but I know that in the context of living our story, we learn much and grow closer to God. If it weren't for the bumps and grinds, the successes and failures, there are lessons that we would never learn.

Read more...   

  Jesus Commissions His Church
Although there may be many different definitions of commission (commission of a crime, commission in sales and so forth), the type of commission referenced in this lesson is most like what you find in the military with a commissioned officer. A commissioned officer is a person who has been granted highly specialized leadership authority in a national military or armed forces troop. In most cases, this authority comes from a country's head of state, usually a president or monarch. Soldiers who receive a commission enjoy different promotion, leadership, and career options than do those who are simply enlisted. Although there is prestige associated with being a commissioned officer, there are also expectations.

Read more...   

  Jesus Is Crucified and Raised
Throughout history, there have been many people who have died for a cause. They may have had quite an impact on their world at the time, but as time passes, people know less and less about them, until the point where they are all but forgotten. Jesus also died for this 'cause', yet He did not remain in the grave. All of the others may have monuments or tombstones to what they had done. Yet, there is no tombstone for Jesus. He was raised from the dead and He continues to impact history 2000 years later. While I'm sure there were many heroes and martyrs throughout history, only a staunch history major could name one or two that lived in the years 200-500AD? Not only do people know of Jesus, but He continues to impact people's lives.

Read more...   

  God Sends His Son
There are many things that we might be willing to do for others. If they need help, perhaps we are willing to go and spend time with them, helping them out in a task. Any of us may be willing to contribute towards the needs of another. These are things that require some amount of sacrifice, either in time, physical presence or financial. Many of us spend time each day praying for those in need. We are a pretty giving people, when we put our minds to it. However, there is a limit to our giving for others. If a neighbor needs a tool, we would likely let them borrow ours for a period of time. But, if they required a member of our family for days, weeks, months or years, would we be willing to give them up?

Read more...   

  God Promises the Messiah
Throughout these lessons that highlight some of God's story for humanity in the Bible, we have seen how God is patient with humans. While He has clearly given His standard for humanity, all of humanity has failed God. God's purpose was to establish a relationship with His children and to do so, He would have to find the way. From the beginning of Scripture throughout, God had promised the Messiah.

Read more...   

  God Restores His People
When something is in need of restoration, there has been some breakdown or problem. What do you think of when hear about restoration? A house in need of restoration may be damaged due to a storm, or perhaps by years of neglect. A car that needs to be restored may have been driven for years with no maintenance or perhaps has had the effects of weather. A person that needs to be restored is one that is experiencing issues or has had problems in the past. Those problems or issues may be directly due to their own actions or due to the actions of others.

Read more...   

  God Disciplines His People
What do you think of when you think of discipline? Most people do not like that word as it can conjure up some unpleasant thoughts. On the other hand, there are some people that seem to enjoy discipline. Athletes, for example, discipline their bodies to achieve their highest potential. There are some who choose short cuts and different types of drugs or medication to succeed in athletics, but the one who is disciplined can know that they have done it the right way.

Read more...   

  God Establishes a Kingdom for His People
What does God want to do for you? We often are sidetracked by the things that we have to deal with and begin to think that God does not see our circumstances. Sometimes those things are difficult and it seems that we have been left to fend for ourselves. Sometimes those things are pleasing to us, but in our time of prosperity, people lose sight of God's role in their lives.

Read more...   

  God Dwells Among His People
What do you think of when you think of the word dwell? For some, it is a condition or state that they stay in (to dwell in happiness). For others, it is to emphasize or ponder upon (to dwell on a particular subject). For this lesson, the word dwell is meant to stay as a permanent resident or to reside.

Read more...   

  God Instructs His People
Instructions. We all know about the importance of instructions. If you play any game or sport, it is important that you understand the way that the game is to be played. Until you can understand the rules, you can't really play the game. I went to China with a group of college students in 2009. We went to a Chinese University and spent some time with a class that was learning English. We thought we would teach them kickball. That turned out to be quite humorous instruction. The two 'instructors' really hadn't worked it out (assuming that everyone knows how to play kickball), got to the board and all of a sudden realized that it was not a trivial task to instruct students from another country in a game that they didn't know.

Read more...   

  God Delivers His People
What comes to mind when you think of delivery? For many of us today, delivery may be associated to something you get - a newspaper, pizza or a package from UPS. In childbirth, delivery refers to the birth of a new child. The mailman delivers letters and bills to most of our homes. You may think of delivery in terms of how someone delivers a great speech, or how a pitcher delivers a great fast ball in baseball. In short, delivery involves handing over from one entity to another.

Read more...   

  God Chooses a People
When you were growing up and in school and your class went out for recess, how did you feel when they started choosing teams? It would seem that there were some kids that always got chosen to be captains, as they were the star athletes (of that age). Some kids were chosen early based on their ability or friendship with the captain, while other kids were always at the very end. Some of the choice was based on ability and other pieces were based on relationships with the chooser. I don’t know where you were in the whole scheme of being chosen, but I would imagine if you were chosen first, you might have a bit of an attitude, and if you were chosen last, you might be very self conscious.

Read more...   

  God Begins The Story
The Bible is a huge book. In the Bible there are 66 books. There are 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. In each of the books, there are countless stories. In my 40 plus years as a believer, I’ve read through the Bible on more than occasion. However, I always seem to come across something that I missed or didn’t remember. I can only imagine how daunting of a task it would be for someone who had no experience with the Bible to even begin to start tackling it on their own.

Read more...   

  Giving Others What They Really Need
Have you ever heard somebody say that they wanted to give somebody else a piece of their mind? When you hear that, do you think that they have the other person’s best interest in mind? Or, do you think they just want to blow steam off in the direction of someone who has perhaps made bad choices or in some way had hurt them? Generally, giving someone else a piece of your mind is being able to tell them whatever you want to tell them with no regard for how it comes across. For some, that it what it means to give them what they need! It is as if, somehow, by saying those things, you will feel much better and the other person will get what’s coming to them. However, it often backfires. In doing this, we often say much more than we would have wanted to say and instead of helping a situation, we damage it further.

Read more...   

  Becoming a Person Others Need
Do you like to feel needed? Everyone wants to be part of something bigger and to participate in something beyond their own lives. In most sports, there are many more people on the team than are actually playing at a time. Some of them have special positions. In baseball, while 9 people play at a time, there are usually a few pitchers that are kept in the bullpen and only brought in late in the game when the team needs them. Other position players are in the dugout and need to be ready to back up the regular players, at a moment’s notice or in case of an injury. It is important that these other players keep themselves in physical shape and continue to practice, as if they were playing each day. They may not play in every game, but their ability to play is appreciated when they get the opportunity, and certainly more appreciated if they are ready to get a full effort.

Read more...   

  Building the Home I Need
One of the key roles in a family is that of a wife and mother. As you are reading this, you may be single and think that it doesn’t matter to you. However, if you are male and one day will be married, there are certain characteristics that you should look for in a wife. Similarly, if you are female, it is important to know what God intends. Others of you are married already and think you have a handle on what needs to be done. Even for you it is worthwhile to look and see what God says in His word.

Read more...   

  Getting My Most Important Relationship Right
Throughout life, it seems that there are people that are vying for our attention. As I look back at my times in high school and college, I look at things that I did to fit in with others. Fortunately, none of those things were really bad, but that group of friends did influence some decisions. There are people that will do anything to fit in, because of a deep desire to feel as part of a group. However, after school is done and the graduation ceremonies are over, there are many people that you will never see again in your life. Isn’t it terrible to think that someone would make a life altering decision to please someone else that won’t even be part of their life in the future? As believers, we have a relationship with God that is consistent. Whether you are 10 years old or 90 years old, God is the same. Wouldn’t we do better to intentionally make that relationship with God as the most important one so that over the course of our lives, we are pleasing the same person?

Read more...   

  Blessings of Holiness
Have you ever gone to the store to buy matching paint? One of the hardest colors to match is white. You can look at many different shades of whites and when you get them to your house, with your lighting, the color is often far from the shade you were looking for. Sometimes, people think that their holiness is a shade of white as compared to a solid white (as the holiness of God). However, if we were talking colors, our colors would be much darker you can imagine. When we compare how ‘good’ we are with others, we may seem pretty ‘good’. However, we are on a totally separate level than the level of God. Instead of comparing with bright white (as God), we argue about shades of grey (as others, believers included).

Read more...   

  Living in Holiness
Have you ever gone to the store to buy matching paint? One of the hardest colors to match is white. You can look at many different shades of whites and when you get them to your house, with your lighting, the color is often far from the shade you were looking for. Sometimes, people think that their holiness is a shade of white as compared to a solid white (as the holiness of God). However, if we were talking colors, our colors would be much darker you can imagine. When we compare how ‘good’ we are with others, we may seem pretty ‘good’. However, we are on a totally separate level than the level of God. Instead of comparing with bright white (as God), we argue about shades of grey (as others, believers included).

Read more...   

  Seeing or Recognizing?
Have you ever had the experience of seeing something, but not really seeing it? Sometimes, we are so preoccupied with other thoughts that we miss something that might otherwise be very clear. For example, if you have ever really driven long distances on a highway, you probably know all about just realizing that you don’t really remember the last 30 minutes or so. Or it could be that we don’t really expect to see someone, so we put the possibility of seeing them out of our minds. Perhaps you’ve moved far away from the place that you grew up. Most likely, you wouldn’t expect to see someone you went to school with in a local store.

Read more...   

  Being Served or Serving?
This lesson focuses on the aspect of serving. Different forms of the word “serve” may have different meanings. In tennis and volleyball, a point is begun with a serve. In legal practice, some people are ‘served’ with papers. We hear that some people are in the service, protecting our country. Church meetings are often called worship services. When you go out to eat, there are people that serve your food. In the context of this lesson, however, we are examining the aspect of serving others or being served, as part of our daily lives.

Read more...   

  Indifference or Compassionate Action?
How many times have you come across a situation where somebody might need the help of someone who is not a part of the "issue"? If you are a student, you certainly know of bullying. Have you ever noticed how most people will stand by and watch? It may be that you know of people that are treated wrongly at work or in your neighborhood. Do you help? There is the other type of wrong that is done to others through the usage of words. Sometimes, it could be that malicious things are being said about someone else and other times reputations are damaged through gossip. Do you sit and listen - maybe even contributing? And, in any of these situations, what if you were the person being bullied or treated wrongly by others, or the one who was the focus of other's gossip and character assassination? Wouldn't you want someone to help?

Read more...   

  Half Hearted Interest or Total Commitment?
We see multiple levels of commitment today. I follow a lot of different sports, but there are really none that I follow religiously. I do like to see as much of March Madness (the NCAA Basketball tournament) as I can, although I don't set aside all of my time to watch it. There are certain games that I care about more than others, but even then, other priorities can trump watching a game. I do know many sports fans that are committed. They may have season tickets to their favorite team and they attend almost every game. This requires them to sacrifice other things that may rival for their attention. We see these same levels of commitment to people's jobs. Some people are mostly interested most of the time, but they aren't always engaged in what they should be doing. We also see this in churches. Most people that attend churches have some level of commitment, but you can probably take a look at other areas of their lives to see if the commitment goes beyond most Sunday mornings.

Read more...   

  Tradition or God's Words
How important is tradition in our world today? I would imagine that it would depend on the situation. There are many colleges that carry traditions forward over decades. Families often go back and relive traditions during holidays. There are many places where tradition still is important. The church is often very steeped in tradition. People were raised doing things a certain way and when any of that changes, many people are not happy. Traditions can be a good thing in helping us to remember things that are important and they also provide a way to carry important pieces of family history to the next generation.

Read more...   

  The Reward of Endurance
Have you ever been to the Everglades in southern Florida? It is the largest wilderness of any kind east of the Mississippi River. It truly is a beautiful place, visited by an average of one million people each year. While it is beautiful, it is also home to many protected species, including the American crocodile. Although there are shows similar to "Crocodile Hunter", most of us would never want to cross the Everglades on foot or by swimming, because of the crocodile.

Read more...   

  The Practice of Godliness
There are synonyms to godliness, such as saintly, holy, righteous and religious. We may think of a religious person as one that goes to church each Sunday and appears to do the things that God calls them to do on a consistent basis. As believers, we are called to be holy and righteous. We can only truly achieve this through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact, Christians are often called saints because of the relationship with Christ. However, in our day to day lives, there are things that we can avoid and other things that we can do that will help us to practice godliness.

Read more...   

  The Challenge of Leadership
This lesson has to do with the challenge of leadership. It takes a certain kind of person to be a good leader. There are many people who are leaders today, but there are many aspects that make a person a good leader. Some people seem to be predisposed to being leaders, because of natural leadership qualities such as talents and outgoing personalities. However, it takes more than the talent to be a leader and it takes much more than an outgoing personality. A good leader is someone that believes in the cause that they are leading and is not easily distracted.

Read more...   

  The Truth of the Gospel
There are things today that we know to be true. We learn many of them in school and we know others by experience. When you drop something, it will always fall down because of gravity. In our world, this is always true. And, in school you likely learned that when you add the same two numbers together, you always get the same result. There is one right answer, even if someone wants to claim that they get another one. Two plus two is always four. There are things that we learn and commit them to memory. When I was in college studying Engineering, I had to take many classes that explained why certain things were true. For example, we learned the proofs behind different equations that we used. Over time, I just used the equations in problems, without having to go back and prove the equations each time, because I came to the realization that they were true.

Read more...   

  A Message of God's Hopr
How important is hope and perhaps more importantly, what happens when you've lost hope? We've heard phrases like "Keep Hope Alive". With hope, there is always the possibility of change - when we've lost hope, it seems like we are stuck forever. People hope in lots of things. Some people buy a lottery ticket and hope that they win. Some people are hoping that they get picked for a job opening. Other people look at relationships and simply hope that they get better. People hope that it snows on Christmas day. Other people hope that it DOESN'T snow on Christmas, depending on where they live. In athletics, people hope that their favorite team wins the game.

Read more...   

  A Message of God's Justice
What do you think of when you think of the word justice? Our Pledge of Allegiance has the words "liberty and justice for all". Typically, we think of fair treatment - in that people are treated the same and one is not favored over another. We may also think of justice as a fair reward or punishment for some deed that has been done.

Read more...   

  A Message of Faith
The presence of evil in our world will make some to believe that God is not involved in day to day life nor does he care. For those who are engaged in sin, this may cause them to continue. We've all made choices that we know to be wrong, but when nothing noticeable happened, some people continue headlong into more bad choices. There are other people who do fear God and strive to do the right things. However, when they notice others who appear to be successful by using underhanded practices, they may perceive little benefit in doing the right thing.

Read more...   

  A Message of God's Judgment
What comes into your mind when you think about judgment? In our legal system, we want to see justice served, so that those who commit crimes and other misdeeds are held responsible. What do you think of when you think of God's judgment? Once again, some people automatically think of the evil people that have existed in our world and how they will one day be judged by God. It may be a previous world leader that has committed atrocities against other people, or it may be someone you know. However, there is another thought about judgment that can make us somewhat uncomfortable. In our own hearts, we know that we have failed God and others. It is important for us to realize that God is just, but it is also important for us as believers to realize what God has done on our behalf through Jesus Christ. We know that we cannot appear righteous before God, even if others may view us as righteous. So, as you read this lesson, don't just look at the historical context, but ask yourself what God is saying to you and what He is asking you to do, to stop doing or what attitudes have been revealed to you that need to be changed.. This lesson, like all other Bible Study lessons, are less about what someone else needs to hear and more about what we need to hear and apply to our lives.

Read more...   

  Yahweh Our Shepherd
Dictionary.com defines a shepherd as a person who herds, tends and guards sheep. A shepherd may also watch over a person or a group of people. The intent of a shepherd is to carefully watch over something or somebody that truly needs to be watched over. We don't like to think that we require a shepherd, although we know that sheep do (hence the word shepherd - herder of sheep).

Read more...   

  Yahweh Our Immanuel
"God with us." Sometimes it is hard for us to imagine that God is with us. In the past couple of weeks, there was the amazing tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. We would like to think that if God were with us, these types of things would never happen. Some would say that it shows that God isn't with us and doesn't care. Others would say that it is God's judgment on a fallen world. The reality is that God is with us, and many things will occur that are beyond our ability to comprehend. There is evil in our world at all times, and we strive to remember that this life is not all that there is. As believers, we know we have eternity with God, but even today, right now - we know that God is with us, despite the things that we deal with in our world.

Read more...   

  Yahweh Our Righteousness
When we shop online, many shopping sites will allow you to compare multiple products. That can be a great feature to ensure that you are more likely to get something that you are looking for - something that focuses on what you would hope that it would do. However, looking at others to determine our own righteousness can be a dangerous thing to do. You could probably find many people that have done more heinous things than yourself and you could probably find others who are obviously less self-absorbed than you or I. For example, if you are considering your own human righteousness with respect to Adolph Hitler, Charles Manson or Ted Bundy, perhaps you are sitting pretty. But, if you are considering your own righteousness towards Mother Teresa or Billy Graham, where do you stand? The truth is that none of us can declare ourselves to be righteous because our standard is not the best human, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself.

Read more...   

  Yahweh Our Father
In this lesson, we will learn more about the character of God. The title talks about God being our Father. For many people that is a great thing - they have fathers that have been in their lives and have had positive impacts. For some, fathers have been virtually nonexistent from the start. For all others, fathers have disappointed them at one time or another. Our views about our earthly fathers impact the way we see God our Father. I have heard that we all have benefits, as children of God, but when we have little to do with Him, those benefits may dwindle. The same situation often occurs with our earthly fathers.

Read more...   

  Yahweh Our God
When you think of the character of God, what do you think about? Some people have heard that God is like their earthly father, so that starts off with a very misconstrued view of God. It doesn't matter if you grew up without a father in the home or with the best earthly father ever, God's character is vastly different than any dad. A wrong view of God will skew how a person lives. For example, someone who sees God as 'only' love will excuse any type of behavior. God understands and accepts, because he is love. Another person who sees God as 'only' holy will tend to lean towards a more legalistic lifestyle - focused on do's and don'ts. Someone who sees God as primarily distant will live their lives without much thoughts of God at all. The truth is that God is beyond our comprehension and there is no one quality that can describe him.

Read more...   

  Hit the Streets
This lesson tells us to hit the streets. In church, this may be referred to as different types of evangelism and that word can wreak fear and terror in many believers. Although believers do believe, many have a hard time expressing their beliefs to others. They are worried by questions that 'might' get asked (for example - please explain the Trinity!) and may be concerned that others may treat them differently if they share their faith. As we read this and other lessons about Paul, we realize that none of us are Paul. However, let God speak to you in whatever manner that He may. Perhaps God wants to give you some new shoes to go hit the streets!

Read more...   

  Engage in Kingdom Building
Acts 1:8 says "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." This implies that we should have an impact at home (your church), a little further away (your community), a lot further away (your state or country) and to all parts of the earth (the rest of the world). Some churches primarily focus on building the kingdom in their community. They have programs and ministries geared to meeting needs of folks that live around them. There are other churches that seem to include a focus on international missions. They support teams and missionaries that serve all around the world. It is common to find people in those churches that feel called to serve in foreign missions. There are other people that have no desire to serve overseas. God has gifted people in different ways, but we are all called as believers to build the kingdom of God. Does your church engage in kingdom building, and what part do you play?

Read more...   

  Do Life Together
This lesson continues the series on a Transformational Church. The title is "Do Life Together". There is certainly a togetherness that is found among believers that is hard to find in any other area. In many churches, there is a sense of family among members. It may be evident in the interactions that they have with one another each week or perhaps at the annual Thanksgiving dinner. They may serve together in different ministries and there are many people who have found best friends within the church.

Read more...   

  Pray with Dependency
The next series of lessons is on the church and elements that define transformational churches. In other words, how can churches make disciples whose lives are being transformed by the gospel of Christ so that the culture around them is ultimately transformed? The lessons are all taken from the book of Acts and include topics such as praying, community life, building the kingdom of God and sharing our faith with others.

Read more...   

  From Failure to Action
This lesson is the final lesson in the study on Failure. Everyone knows something about success and everyone knows something about failure. There are all types of failures that are common in life. Businesses fail and begin to downsize, impacting the employees, families and other local businesses. There are mechanical failures which you've probably seen in your car or perhaps more high profile failures such as in the space shuttle that exploded. There are physical failures, often seen in sports. If you've played sports, you've lost a game at one point or another. There are emotional failures which can end in breaking up relationships of all different kinds.

Read more...   

  From Failure to Correction
This lesson is on correction. In some ways, God corrected the situation with Abraham, by allowing Sarah to give birth to Isaac. However, many consequences were incurred by Abraham's own attempt to solve the issue and it still causes problems today. Many know the song Father Abraham. He is the Father of the Jews through Isaac. He is also the Father of Islam, through Ishmael. (Muhammad was thought to be a descendant of Ishmael). You don't see any problems now, do you? Consequences due to not waiting on God can be dire.

Read more...   

  From Failure to Direction
This lesson continues the study on Biblical characters who were at one time failures. There are some that we can think of right away, but Abraham? He was the father of the Jews. It was obvious that God was with Abraham. In Genesis 12, God told Abraham to go to the place that he would show him, and God would make him into a great nation and would bless him. Abraham didn't question God's command and he went, as the Lord told him. We see a great example in Abraham - a man that was willing to follow God's command, even when he didn't have all the information. You would tend to think that Abraham was a man that had it all together. You might wonder why a study on failure would even mention his name.

Read more...   

  From Failure to Salvation
The purpose of this study is that we should be encouraged to not let past failures keep us from moving forward in our relationship with God and service to him. This lesson helps us to understand how we can go from failure to salvation. Other lessons will help us to understand going from failure to direction, correction and action.

Read more...   

  Right Relationships
This lesson is about right relationships. We all know that there could be many, many lessons regarding relationships and different aspects involved. You can find all kinds of resources that talk about what is needed in order to have great relationships. As an example, one site on a yahoo search says listen; seek to understand the other's perspective; be a giver; learn to communicate and make an effort to remember things that that important to another person. We also know that honesty, respect and the ability to forgive are crucial. We may know a lot about what it takes to have right relationships, but we so often fail.

Read more...   

  Right Motives
Have you ever thought about the reasons that con artists are successful? They play on other people's emotions. They know that there are many people who will act on that, so if they can lead them to some decision based on emotion, they can easily con many people. Have you ever thought the church has con artists in the congregation? We look around and see people who act one way externally, but internally they are a different person. In fact, we've all been that person before - it is the essence of sin in the life of a believer. Casting Crowns has a song called "Stained Glass Masquerade", in which they sing about the issue behind people in church that are putting on a performance for others, while inside they know that they have failed. (See the lyrics at the end of the lesson).

Read more...   

  High Expectations
This lesson continues the series of lessons geared towards helping us to realize what it means to follow Jesus. Any believer should know that to follow Jesus is to accept him as their Lord and Savior and to accept that he has forgiven us of our sins. On one extreme, some people seem to view Jesus as little more than fire insurance (saved from hell). On the other extreme are the folks who are overboard legalistic on rule following. The truth is that we need to realize that Jesus is LORD and SAVIOR - not one or the other. We do have some high expectations as believers, but we need to realize that human perfection is not the expectation. If you were able to achieve perfection, what need would you have for a Savior?

Read more...   

  Back to Basics
Lessons for the month of September 2012 are from the book of Matthew. They are each taken from the Sermon on the Mount and will help us explore what it means to follow Jesus. This lesson will hopefully help us to get back to basics. Other lessons will involve the setting of High Expectations, having the Right Motives and Relationships and will focus on Your Decision.

Read more...   

  Persevere in Obedience
When doing the obedient thing lines up with what everyone else is doing, it isn't hard to do the right thing. However, you may find yourself having a harder time being obedient when others are against what you are doing. What happens if you have to face ridicule or some form of persecution for being obedient? If you look at Christians in other areas of the world, the very idea of being a Christian puts life at risk. We don't really have to worry about that in America, but there are some people who will endure various forms of mild persecution if they follow God's will. It may be refraining from certain activities that you know to be wrong for you, but others want you to participate in. It may be that you continue doing things that others might consider to be silly. Whenever we have to take a stand that isn't popular, there is always some uneasiness. However, when God has laid something on our hearts, we need to move forward and persevere. Is there anything that is holding you back from obedience?

Read more...   

  Rise Above Discouragement
We all know what it is like to be discouraged. Dictionary.com defines being discouraged as "deprived of courage, hope or confidence; disheartened; obstructed by opposition or difficulty; hindered". At one point or another, we have all lost confidence. A student that has messed up on an assignment or an exam may lose confidence, which would lead to discouragement. Your favorite sports team may have lost an important game, perhaps ending their season prematurely, which could cause you to be disheartened. You may start a project at home, only to find that there are many more things that need to be fixed before you can finish, which leads to discouragement. Perhaps you have an idea for a new ministry at your church, but as you present it, you are faced with much more opposition than you had expected. Or, it could just be that life hasn't gone as you had hoped it would - the fairy tale ending doesn't appear imminent - and you may become discouraged. So, yes, the dictionary.com definition does fit!

Read more...   

  Let Your Heart Be Broken
We know people want to have a purpose and contribute to something bigger, but what happens when you've made a big mistake? How is it that you can still contribute and have purpose if the thing that you (and others) think most about is that mistake, even years later? In the area of sports, I've often seen that a profound failure can propel an individual or a team to greater heights. It doesn't have to be the end, although it certainly can be if not handled appropriately. In watching the Olympics, there have been many stories of athletes who have failed in previous Olympics or have had to overcome much, but came back to try again. Some of them have the extra incentive to put forth a more concentrated effort next time. However, there are many others who have failed in the past but are never able to redeem themselves. While on a mission trip to Vancouver a few years ago, our mission team went to see the Vancouver Canadians (a baseball team) play. The special guest who threw out the pitch that evening was Bill Buckner. He had a great 20 year career in the Major Leagues, but the thing many people remember about him is a routine ground ball going between his legs at 1st base in extra innings of the 6th game of the World Series. That play is often shown during each year's World Series. Today, Mr. Bucker is out of the professional game and has no way to reconcile that play and unfortunately, many people are only aware of his error, rather than other 20 successful years of his career. I wonder how many people can relate to Mr Buckner in their lives.

Read more...   

  Make No Excuses
The next series of lessons is entitled "The Person God Uses". The studies will be from the book of Jeremiah. The lessons are Make No Excuses, Let Your Heart Be Broken, Rise Above Discouragement and Persevere in Obedience. Jeremiah was a prophet that was called to carry out God's purposes in the world at his time. The same applies for us today. How is it that you and I can become people that God uses?

Read more...   

  Confident
You may remember the commercial from the 80s for Sure Deodorant. "Confident, Dry and Secure - Raise your hands if you're SURE." Confidence is desired - certainly if you're going to raise your hands and not be embarrassed by a stain. But, confidence in life is truly something that people want. We know that confidence is necessary for success to occur. If you've watched sporting events, you can see the impact of confidence. This leads to momentum and once a team gains the momentum, it is unlikely that they will give it up. In many sports, a team starts with confidence and can often become lackadaisical, almost as if they have lost interest and are going through the motions. When that happens, the other team often picks up the momentum making the one time confident team anything but. Lost confidence is hard to get back. Confidence begins to exude in the other team and it would seem they could do nothing wrong. I play on a Monday night basketball team, and I have seen this happen often! (We are usually the one who gives up the momentum).

Read more...   

  Wise
Wisdom is a much desired commodity today. There are people who are very knowledgeable, but they don't necessarily know how to apply their knowledge. One of my favorite TV shows is "Big Bang Theory" and in one episode, all the techno-geeks were in a car that broke down. Sheldon asks if anyone knows how an internal combustion engine works. They all vigorously state that they know about it - in and out. Then, he asked if any of them know how to fix it, and they were all at a loss. It is quite humorous, but I think many believers are guilty of the same thing. We may know all about what the Bible says. We may have taken thousands of notes in sermons and have listened to great teaching. We may know the answers to Bible Trivia questions, but we are a loss in determining how to implement any of it.

Read more...   

  Empowered
What does it mean to be empowered? I often think of super heroes, who live a 'normal' life most of the time, but when needed, they become 'empowered'. Batman was Bruce Wayne - he would slide down the batpole into the batcave, coming out looking like Batman. When my kids were much younger, we were watching an old Batman TV show, with Adam West playing Bruce Wayne and Batman. During the show, one of my sons, who was very young at the time, walked up to the TV and put his finger on Bruce Wayne, and with this look like he had it all figured out, said "That guy sounds just like Batman". (Okay, maybe he didn't have it ALL figured out!). Superman was Clark Kent, and he would find a phone booth, emerging as Superman. I suppose he would have a difficult time today, with cell phones replacing most every pay phone, regardless of the popular song entitled 'Payphone' today. One of my favorite super heroes was a Japanese super hero named Ultraman. He was mild mannered Hayata, who lifts the 'beta capsule' and presses a red button to transform into Ultraman.

Read more...   

  Victorious
What does it mean to be victorious? If you are in a church that still uses a hymnal (seems like there are less and less of those churches today), you are probably acquainted with the song "Victory in Jesus". We have heard about the victory. We sing about it and we hear about it in Scripture. Why then are many of us walking around as if we are defeated? Dictionary.com defines victory as the ultimate and decisive superiority in any battle or contest. If you were to follow a sports team, each game presents an opportunity for a victory or a defeat. A baseball team may win three or four games in a row, which makes them appear victorious, yet once they lose the next game, victory seems to be in the past. A baseball team may win the World Series and be crowned as the world champion for several months. However, by the time the next year rolls around, many people have forgotten who won the last year (unless, of course, you are a Cardinal's fan)!

Read more...   

  Free
The series of lessons for July 2012 is entitled Living Beyond Yourself. So many people think that the secret to Christianity is trying harder. As we attend thousands of hours of sermons and Bible Studies, we amass a ton of knowledge. We learn more about the way we should behave, the way we should think, our attitudes and the way we should deal with others. Why is it that with all of that knowledge that so many of us still struggle. I know more, and I try harder, yet the results are not always there. My mom's home church in Kentucky just finished a series of lessons on the family and the latest one was called "What Happens When I Blow It?" That's one we can all relate to at one point or another.

Read more...   

  What is Your Decision?
Throughout the book of Malachi, there are many issues brought up against God's people. They had gone their own way. Perhaps they continued with church and their ritualistic duties, but their hearts were more self focused and they tended to blame God because things did not turn out as they had hoped. These allegations could easily be brought up against us today. When you hear a word from God that makes you uncomfortable, do you try and spin your way out of it, or are you willing to make the changes that need to be made?

Read more...   

  How Do You Treat God?
We do care about the way that people treat things or others, don't we? If you are a parent, it can be somewhat unsettling to see your young child handle an expensive piece of equipment or something fragile. We know that it is important to treat items with attached value as special. We have all seen horrible stories on the news involving the abuse of animals; often the stories are about people that have many animals that are uncared for, malnourished and in terrible health. Perhaps the people started out as animal lovers, but just got overwhelmed - at least that is what I would hope and that they weren't out to intentionally harm animals (although I am sure those people exist too!) We also know that it is right to treat our fellow humans with at least some level of respect. Even when we have problems with others, we know that we should treat them humanely. Unfortunately, there are exceptions to that rule too. In St Louis, there have been gangs of kids that attack innocent strangers in a 'game' called Knock Out.

Read more...   

  Do You Honor Your Commitments?
The highest form of commitment is our commitment to God. I know that we have all fallen in this area. Either we didn't follow through on something we said we would do, or we get focused in the wrong direction. For example, have you ever been part of a 'read through the Bible in a year' effort? While it is a good idea, many people give up before they get through Leviticus while others often stick it out, but read for page count and not for content. For me, that would be like reading some of my college textbooks. I would read the 60 pages that I was told to read, but often, I would not be able to tell you a thing that I read. We start going through the words quickly - we see the words and read them, but they lose their meaning. In the case mentioned above, the Bible becomes a chore that must be done and is less likely to have life changing impact.

Read more...   

  Are You Just Going Through the Motions?
Apathy impacts all of us at one time or another. Sometimes, it is because each day seems the same. We wake up, get ready for the day and then just put life in overdrive to work through the day. If we're not careful, our lives can seem as if they are in a rut. Some students in school force their way through the week to the weekend and the school year to summer and then so desire to be out of school to be free and live a fulfilling life. Then, many enter the work force or start families and it often seems it goes from one thing to endure to another. It's somewhat humorous to know that some in the work force would rather be back in school, while those in school would rather be out and working. This is somewhat like highway driving. We are so focused on the destination that we lose sight of the things we pass along the way. It's easy to miss things like the World's Largest Ball of String, or the Superman statue or even the landscape we roll past. We just want to get 'there', which is not 'here'.

Read more...   

  A Legacy of Love
This is the final lesson on the study of leaving a legacy. We have discussed faith and hope in earlier lessons. This lesson involves a legacy of love. When you think of people, some may come to mind that you see as ones who love others. I often think of my grandmother we called Monnie. She was always fun to be around, but in large part, that was because she showed love to so many people. She was a stickler for manners - and a lot of what I learned regarding things from shaking hands firmly to sending thank you notes came from her. However, she was not just about the manners, but she genuinely displayed love to others. I remember going into the place that she worked and it always seemed that people had a high opinion of her. As much as she modeled manners to me, she was also an excellent example of one who loved others.

Read more...   

  A Legacy of Faith
This lesson is about faith. Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing. There are people that put faith in others to come through for them. When the Olympics happen, people from all countries put some level of faith in their own athletes, because of national pride. Or, it may be a belief that is not based on proof. This happens often in the area of scientific experimentation, where one may have faith that something will work, but they haven't yet seen it occur. In the context of spirituality, we say that we have faith in God, which is putting confidence in him. When our faith is in another person, or even in ourselves, we have misplaced our faith.

Read more...   

  A Legacy of Hope
This study examines three examples from Scripture of different areas in which we can leave a mark. They are faith, hope and love. This lesson looks at a legacy of hope. There are multiple definitions for hope. It could be the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. People might hope that their team wins the playoffs. People might hope that the weekend weather is beautiful. There are things that we hope for, as in wishing that they would transpire. That is not the legacy that we should build. That may provide a positive attitude, but we know that a positive attitude is not the essence of godly living.

Read more...   

  Leaving a Legacy
Dictionary.com defines legacy as anything handed down from the past. All of us will have something that we hand down to future generations. Some people pass down property of some sort - anything from as large as a house and land to as small as a butter dish. If you move between houses at some point in your life, you may have to take a critical look at the things you own. Many people will come up with different piles - things to keep for use, things to hold onto, things to give away or perhaps throw away. We really tend to hold onto a lot of things as we live our lives. If you've recently had to do this exercise, you may have surprised yourself as to the number of items that you own that are duplicates. In our day and age, it is often easier to make a quick run to the store to purchase something, rather than digging through what you already own to see if you have it. We tend to hold onto a lot of things. However, when we start evaluating our possessions, we will often come across older things that have been passed from previous generations.

Read more...   

  Jesus Works Through His Church
While there is a lot that can be said about how the church deals with one another in good and bad ways, this lesson is primarily about the preeminence of Jesus Christ. The key thing about church is what the church says about Jesus. It's more than just saying that you believe in Jesus, as even the mention of Jesus' name can mean many different things to many different people. Some churches claim that they follow Jesus, but in their eyes, Jesus is simply a man, no different than other men. For others, they believe Jesus to be the firstborn of many 'gods' - and that mere mortals will one day be like him. You can see that just saying that you believe in Jesus is not enough. What is Jesus' role in the church and how should he be viewed?

Read more...   

  Jesus Lives in Believers
One of the key aspects is that God never intended for us to just believe some things and go off on our merry ways. He didn't just create a set of standards to live by and then expect us to do it. Not only did God provide for our redemption through the blood of Jesus, but we have the presence of Christ in our lives. You may have heard of the phrase WWJD (What would Jesus do?). The essence is that our decisions would be different if we determined what Jesus would do in a situation and followed that. However, in the life of any believer is the presence of Christ. It is through his presence and power that we are able to live our lives as Christians.

Read more...   

  Jesus Rose from the Dead
"Jesus rose from the dead." These are the words that changed history. This is the event that has changed all of mankind and is the basis of the Christian faith. This is the key discriminator between religions of all types. Different religions have been founded by different people - and many of them push for similar morals and codes of human conduct. Many of the leaders were seen in a positive light, yet they have all passed away. For most, you can find a graveyard that is a memorial to their lives. For some, there is no grave, but there certainly was no resurrection other than Christ.

Read more...   

  Jesus Died for our Sins
This lesson begins a new study, focusing on the foundational truths of the Christian faith. In many ways, people tend to focus on the differences between different denominations and other side beliefs. However, there are some basic truths that all believers should agree upon. There may be differing interpretations to some of the truths, but it is noteworthy to focus on the essentials.

Read more...   

  I Thank You
This lesson is in regards to thanking God. It is somewhat related to the celebration, as in both cases, we should recall what God has done. The whole idea of being thankful appears to be lost on so many people today. It could be for a couple of different reasons. First, I do believe that people are generally thankful, but they seem to think more about being thankful and are less apt to give thanks. As some have said, it's 'thanks-thinking', rather than 'thanks-giving'. Secondly, there also seems to be an issue of entitlement. Some people seem to believe that they deserve things simply because they are who they are. This thinking is prevalent in our society, as some people are continually looking for government handouts. The funny thing, though, is that some of the people that seem most dead set against those handouts are more than willing to accept things on their own with no notion of giving thanks and not only are they happy to accept a gift - sometimes they act as if it their RIGHT to receive it!. Aren't these two cases similar?

Read more...   

  I Celebrate You
In this lesson, we read from Psalm 92 about the importance of celebration in worship. Certainly, worship includes some quiet, serious reflection, but it also should include a celebration of God's goodness. When a worship service only focuses on one aspect or the other, there is something missing. I have attended some churches in which the worship service was all about celebration. This seems to be more prevalent today as opposed to the past. In the past, generally church hymns were sung, and while some may be celebratory, it is more of a controlled celebration. The words and some of the music can be powerful and result in our hearts being moved. In the past twenty years or so, the idea of contemporary worship, including praise songs, has become the norm. The music often includes all sorts of instruments that you would find on the stage of a rock concert. I haven't seen the guitar players smashing their guitars in worship (yet). While there can be very serious praise songs that move us, it would appear that for many, the louder and more robust the music, the better. This isn't to get into the plusses and minuses of hymns and modern praise music, but to just point out that there are differences in styles of worship.

Read more...   

  I Call on You
In this lesson, the writer acknowledges his own need and his total dependence upon God. In it he says that he calls on the Lord all day long. You have probably hit a point in life where you have called upon God. Do we wait until we realize we can't handle life on our own, before we call on him? I believe that many Christians live their lives in a self reliant manner, perhaps only paying lip service to God, until they hit something they cannot handle. The truth is that we need God each day. Our abilities are all granted by God. Do we recognize our condition before him, each day?

Read more...   

  I Long for You
This begins a new series of lessons entitled the Heart of Worship. Selected Psalms will be used to help us better understand the meaning of true worship. If you've grown up attending church, you will likely think back to worship services you have experienced. For some, it is a set aside time in a service that revolves around music. In just that aspect, there are some people that love music and find that to be their favorite part of a service. Likewise, there are others that seem to 'put up with' music and they just grin and bear it. Is worship something that is based on one's attitude towards music? Others enjoy the thought of corporate prayer. Worship is not about music or what happens, but experiencing God.

Read more...   

  Center of My Life
This is the last of a series of lessons on Jesus Christ as the center of life. Pastor Mark Correll's quote from last week really stuck with me. "If you can think of anything that's more important than Jesus to you, then Jesus is nothing to you." Obviously, as believers, we know that Jesus Christ should play a significant role in our lives. However, if it is just 'a' significant role and not 'the' significant role, aren't we missing something?

Read more...   

  Center of My Belief
How important is our belief? For a Christian, it is everything. Certainly, there are some beliefs that people have that will differ among believers. We have several different denominations that were born out of differences in beliefs. Some of them are purely theological, while others are more practical. I heard of the guy who expressed his 'beliefs' in the statement - "I don't drink, I don't chew, I don't go with girls that do". There are people that have differing beliefs regarding drinking alcohol. There are people that have differing beliefs regarding lifestyles or what one can wear. In short, you can go into just about any church and find something that people will disagree about.

Read more...   

  Center of My Church
In this lesson, we will examine the church. There are many different types of churches. There are many denominations, for a variety of reasons. In a lesson I wrote many years ago, I was contacted by someone that said that if you are part of a denomination, you are not a Christian. I disagree with that statement. I know of many believers who go to many different churches. They may disagree on some areas, but they point to salvation through Jesus Christ. There are many different styles of churches. A lot of people will immediately think of worship styles - typically traditional and contemporary. (I would imagine that the traditional hymns were seen as contemporary at some point, right?) There are some churches that are more formal and others that are more casual. There are some churches with bookstores, gymnasiums, coffee shops and other facilities. There are some churches that have a small lobby and a sanctuary. There are some churches that meet in school auditoriums or in other places besides a church building. Truthfully, the church is not about denomination, style, amenities or any of those qualifiers.

Read more...   

  Center of Everything
When we think of making something the center, we often think of a focal point. When you set a table, there is often some sort of centerpiece. When you think of a basketball court, there is the center circle. If you were describing where a location was, you might relate it somehow to the center of a city. In the town in Kentucky where I grew up, we had the courthouse in the middle of downtown - with the road routed around it. In each of these cases, the center is some designated spot. Is that what it means to have Christ as the center of our lives? Is it enough to put Christ in a prominent position? Unfortunately, that is what many people do - and believe that is enough. Sunday mornings are reserved for church (and Christ), but the rest of the week is focused elsewhere. Is this putting Christ in the center of our lives? (I guess some people would say Wednesdays would be more appropriate - at least that is the center of a work week, right?)

Read more...   

  Giving in a Greedy Culture
Dictionary.com defines greed as excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions. (It doesn't seem right that going to the dictionary to look up one word leads to another - rapacious.) Rapacious is defined as inordinately greedy or predatory. In the animal kingdom, you may think of a rapacious animal as one that subsists by the capture of living prey - for example, a lion. This isn't what we think of in the human realm, but it certainly does paint a fairly vivid word picture, doesn't it? Greed seems to be the excessive desire for what 'I' want, regardless of whom or what may stand in the way.

Read more...   

  Living in a Divided Culture
In this lesson, we will read about Peter and his obvious beginning bias against the Gentiles. However, God's bias was not against the Gentiles and God intended to get that point across to Peter. Are you biased against somebody else and what would God have to say to you? Does anybody come to mind? Does any group of people come to mind?

Read more...   

  Caring in an Expendable Culture
Does our culture consider things to be expendable? We are so prone to getting rid of things, knowing that they are not apt to last. If you have bought a new appliance in the past ten to fifteen years, chances are good that you have had to replace it already. You would like that technology and material availability would mean things would last longer, yet that doesn't seem to be the case. You probably know somebody that has bought a new refrigerator (or other appliance) recently; replacing one that was purchased a few years ago - but they still have an older one from the 60s working in their basement or garage!

Read more...   

  Seeking Purity in a Sensual Culture
The title of this lesson speaks of a sensual culture. Would you describe our modern day culture as sensual? Dictionary.com defines sensual as preoccupied with the gratification of the senses or appetites; carnal; fleshly. It also mentions lacking in moral restraints. Does any of this sound like our culture? Of course it does. There has been the notion of 'if it feels good, do it'. Things that would have seemed out of the question a generation ago have become the norm and accepted. People used to take stands against the way that the culture has gone, but those days seem long ago. In just about every walk of life, you can find people that are involved in all sorts of things that would have been taboo in the past, but are now accepted as everyday facts of life.

Read more...   

  Thriving in a Fast-Food Culture
This study begins a new series of lessons on issues that are affecting our culture. It is somewhat amazing to think of all the ways we are bombarded with temptations in our society. I would imagine every generation would say that things are worse in theirs than the one before. That is probably the same for each of us today - and it is most likely true. When you think of all the different ways that technology has changed society, we see the good - and the bad that is brought with it.

Read more...   

  Rejoice in God's Gift
In this lesson, we are focusing on the joy in God's gift. There is a lot of goodwill and joy at Christmas - people are willing to help others and people are generally a little nicer to one another. However, the true joy of Christmas cannot be found unless you are connected to the author of Christmas. There are many people that will sing the carols and will likely attend some sort of obligatory church service. But, many of those people are only going because it is what they have to do or what others might expect them to do. There isn't a lot of joy involved in doing what you have to do.

Read more...   

  Respond to God's Gift
How do you respond when you've been given a gift? Are you grateful beyond just saying a simple "Thanks"? Too often, we take for granted what others have spent considerable effort to buy for us. Have you ever thought about what to buy someone and then gone shopping at several stores (or perhaps online), wanting to get that special thing, only to feel as if you have wasted your time, due to the reaction received? This isn't to say that you are to go overboard with mock appreciation for every gift you have ever been given, but when we discount what others have done to give us a gift, we are missing the point.

Read more...   

  Receive God's Gift
Have you ever tried to give someone a gift but they wouldn't receive it? This seldom happens with a child, as they are more than willing to accept anything that is offered. However, as people get older, I have often seen people argue about paying a dinner bill, especially among family or close friends. It's not that they don't want to pay, but they want to pay for the others. When I was younger, I thought that was somewhat ludicrous because who wouldn't want a free meal? Then, as I got older, I found it better to enjoy being able to pay for someone else's dinner. It gets somewhat frustrating when you want to do that and they won't let it happen. Or, what if you packaged a very pretty gift for someone and they just refused it? How would you feel?

Read more...   

  Recognize God's Gift
This next set of lessons is about God's Greatest Gifts. The greatest gift that God gave to humanity was the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. This study is a reminder of the life-changing significance of Christmas and will challenge believers to carry the message of Christmas to the world. The lessons in this series are Recognizing God's Gift (this lesson), Receiving God's Gift, Responding to God's Gift and Rejoicing in God's Gift.

Read more...   

  Adopt the Right Perspective
How important is perspective? I often think of athletic analogies and perspective is a key attribute in sports. Have you ever seen a team that came into a game expecting to lose? They generally lose. There are other teams that everyone else expects to lose, but the team enters the game expecting to win. It doesn't always happen, but occasionally, a vast underdog can beat a highly ranked opponent. We've seen this happen in just about every sport, especially when it all boils down to a single game.

Read more...   

  Respond to Difficult Situations
The title of this lesson is 'Respond to Difficult Situations'. It would seem that this would be a fitting lesson for each of us, as we face difficult situations from time to time. In fact, you may be facing one right now. Have you ever thought about the way that you respond to difficult situations says a lot about who you are? It points to a large part of your character and is an indication of where your heart is.

Read more...   

  Stand for the Lord
Have you ever had to take a stand for something? There are many causes that people have taken a stand for. Some of them have been for issues in our society. Where would we be in civil rights without people that took a stand, at quite a risk? Sometimes, we need to take a stand to be there for others who can't stand for themselves. Or perhaps, taking a stand may just be in agreement to a speaker who asks those who agree to stand. Taking a stand implies doing something that may be different from others around you or in some cases standing with others in agreement. For some people, it is hard to just stand when others are sitting. When you take a stand, it implies that you are drawing some amount of attention to yourself, and for some people, getting attention is avoided at all costs.

Read more...   

  Accept the Call
The next four lessons are taken from a study of the events in the life of Moses. They are intended to help each of us as believers deepen our walk with God and to make our life count. I don't think that there is anyone who doesn't want to make their life count in one way or another. I do know that there are those who much prefer to serve in a behind the scenes role. It isn't as if they are in the bleachers watching everything, but they are supporting in their own way. On any athletic team, there are more players than what you see on the field or court at any given time - they are often referred to as bench players. Although they usually aren't seen in game time situations, they may be invaluable for practice or in the instance when they are called on to replace someone that has an injury or some other issue. Some of these people are never seen publicly, but the part they play in the success of a team is very much needed.

Read more...   

  Satisfaction Found
Who doesn't like to be satisfied? "Satisfaction Guaranteed or your money back". There are many businesses that promote user satisfaction, however they often fall short. If you are really hungry for a candy bar, Snickers satisfies in the short term, for a quick 'pick me up', but can be more harmful if a person eats too many Snickers. People can find temporary satisfaction in a lot of things. At the time of this writing, the St Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers are engaged in the World Series. There are many fans on the edges of their seats. If you have seen the games on TV, fans from both sides have been very nervous at the end of almost every game. The winner feels satisfied, for a while. The loser feels dissatisfied, but that is also for a while. Even with something as big as the World Series, the satisfaction level is temporary. When the next season begins, people tend to forget about 'last year'.

Read more...   

  Wholeness Restored
Have you ever been driving down the road and seen an older restored vehicle passing by? Older vehicles that may not have seemed like much in their day are often amazing years later, when they have been restored. There are some people whose livelihood is restoring old vehicles. When they come across them, they appear to have seen better days, but these people can work magic and make them appear as new. When others, such as myself, who are less than old car enthusiasts, see them, they are appear to be more like a big pile of junk. They look rusted out and decrepit. When I look at them, I see old vehicles that may have seen better days, but when a car restorer looks at them, they see a beauty waiting to be brought back to life.

Read more...   

  Hope Discovered
In this lesson, we will be looking at a couple of miracles in which hope was restored. In both of these, the people who received the 'physical' benefits of the miracles were not believers. In one case, the servant of a centurion that did not even feel comfortable coming to Jesus on his own asked others to ask Jesus to heal his servant. In the other case, Jesus and the crowd happened upon a funeral procession in which a widow's only son had passed away. Both the centurion and the widow were in a state of despair. Both of them had no place to turn. It would seem that hope was lost, but Jesus stepped in and brought hope to the situations. We can't expect that every sick person will be healed, and we are not to expect that the dead will be raised to life, but we should see that in Christ we do have hope.

Read more...   

  Forgiveness Offered
In this lesson, we see a twofold miracle. On one hand, he is healing a paralytic man, but the even greater miracle with eternal consequences is the forgiveness of sins. We may not classify the forgiveness that we are given as a miracle, but perhaps we should change our perspective. In the case of Jesus, a physical healing is temporary - at some point, every person will die. However, forgiveness extends into eternity.

Read more...   

  Glory Revealed
The New Testament is full of miracles that Jesus did. He wasn't a magician that went from town to town to amaze others, but he performed miracles on mulyiple occasions. Can you imagine what it must have been like to be a disciple of Christ? They heard teaching that was very much authoritative. They saw him care for the down and out, the sinners and others whom the religious leaders avoided. They saw many miracles that showed that Jesus was no mere teacher, nor was he simply a good man.

Read more...   

  Go and Tell
In this lesson, we learn the importance of sharing our faith with others, as it relates to our spiritual growth. There are a lot of things that we don’t ‘mind telling others. In the place where I work, there are Donut Rules for almost every occasion in life. It started out with things like buying a house, or having a baby, then it branched out into buying a car, having a major storm named after you, going on vacation and so forth. When people bring in donuts, they have some sort of story to tell. It adds to the overall ‘girth’ of the floor, but it has also been a good way for people to get to know about each other. It is an easy way for people to share something, even if it is fairly superficial (or perhaps life altering).

Read more...   

  Find Your Place of service
This lesson is about finding a place of service. When we go out to eat, we appreciate service, whether it is at a drive thru fast food restaurant or at a fancy sit down restaurant. In most non fast food restaurants, you will have a host or hostess that seats you. There are people who set the table and bring water or bread. There is the waiter or waitress that welcomes you and takes your order. There is the chef or chefs that prepare your food and potentially someone else who brings the food to your table. There are many different areas of service in a restaurant. What would happen if any of these people chose not to do their job? You may or may not choose to stay at the restaurant, but you likely wouldn't return.

Read more...   

  Grow in Spiritual Maturity
This lesson is regarding growing in spiritual maturity. Dictionary.com defines maturity as ripeness (as in a fruit), full development or perfected condition (bringing a plan to maturity). If you think about a crop that grows, it becomes more mature over time by default. It may or may not ripen based on external conditions, such as weather, but given the right conditions, it will mature. However, maturity in the life of a person is not simply based upon time. There is by default a physical difference between a 60 year old, a 30 year old and a 5 year old, as the human body will normally age over time (unlike the movie Benjamin Button!). However, you likely know of people that have had very slow mental development and perhaps have halted very prematurely, so that a person may appear to be older physically, but has the mental capacity of someone much younger.

Read more...   

  Connect to Community
The church provides a place with common interests where people come together. While we are to be connected with a local church, it has always been encouraging to know that you can walk into about any like minded church in the world and instantly have some commonality with other believers. I have been in different churches in many different states and in many different nations. When I am around other believers (anywhere in the world), there is the oneness of the Spirit that pulls us together in a way that is beyond the closeness I feel to others who have the same background, yet are not believers.

Read more...   

  Agree With One Another
This last lesson in this series is on agreeing with one another. In some relationships, this can be the hardest part. I've seen people come to a logjam when neither will budge. They refuse to recognize they may be wrong or even acknowledge that perhaps the issue isn't worth the fight. I've heard of counselors that have dealt with two individuals that were at odds with one another. One, who firmly believed themselves to be in the right, wanted nothing more than the counselor to tell the other person that they were wrong. The counselor agreed on who was right, but the relationship was lost due to the dogged determinism of the one side to always "be right". If the truth is to be told, there are some things that we should all agree on as believers - these would be the core fundamentals of our faith and if our churches start to preach otherwise, we do need to take a stand on those core pieces. However, there are many issues and subjects that we would have divergent opinions on, so standing on those things could be very detrimental to the church. Problems occur when we want to state our own opinions or judgment calls - or even our own feelings - and say that they are facts, expecting everyone else to agree (or else).

Read more...   

  Don't Criticize One Another
This lesson is about criticizing one another. This has become more and more prevalent in our society today. Sports fan seem to criticize officiating all the time. If you sit on either sideline during a football game, you will hear fans state that the officials are for the 'other side'. We have many shows on TV where contestants compete against one another - in talents (singing, dancing, etc). It is easy for someone as tone deaf as me to criticize someone that is 'a little' off key. We go to restaurants and criticize the service or the food. We criticize our neighbors for the 'tacky' things that they may have in their yard. Criticism of those in public office becomes extreme at times - as people seem to criticize any decision that some leaders make.

Read more...   

  Personal Service
We all enjoy receiving service. Actually, we enjoy receiving 'good' service. Surely, you've been to a restaurant and found the service to be less than agreeable. A server in a restaurant can make a huge difference, even if the food is not of top notch quality. Berkley and I have been to several different restaurants multiple times, and the server is often the difference between a good and bad experience, even when the meal and the environment was exactly the same as before. We know that in a restaurant, an employee is paid to provide their services and there is an acceptable level of service that is required to continue in the job. It is expected by both the employer and the customers.

Read more...   

  Personal Responsibility
A responsible person is one that you can trust. If you are going to let your younger children go with another family to the zoo, you would surely hope that person is responsible. They would do things like drive in a safe manner, keep an eye on the kids so that they didn't get lost or climb into the bear pit. Obviously, you wouldn't trust just anybody to take your kids (at least on most days!)

Read more...   

  Personal Relationship
What should our relationship with God have to do with freedom? Some people would argue that entering a relationship with God only hinders freedom and that it sucks the fun out of life. However, true freedom is found only within the confines of being a child of God. In that position, you realize that you have security because of that relationship.

Read more...   

  Personal Checklist
How important is a checklist? They are used in many different ways. Some people use the checklist of parts when assembling a purchased item, so as to not end up with leftover pieces. Some people use checklists (and read rules) before beginning to play a game (others don't!) Pilots and air crew use a checklist to ensure that the plane is ready to be flown. Some processes in workplaces have checklists to remind people of the steps that need to be followed and any associated artifacts that are required. Some people use checklists before they go camping or on vacation - to ensure that they don't forget something. We use checklists in many different ways, mostly as reminders so that we don't forget the things that are important. When you have a checklist and you find that you were missing something (as in going camping), it is always advantageous to add the missing items to the checklist for the future.

Read more...   

  Personal Rights
This study begins another group of studies regarding true freedom - how we as believers gain it and how we are to live out that freedom. This lesson falls very near to the 4th of July holiday, and the air has been full of the smell of spent fireworks for the past week. Across the country, there will be numerous festivals and celebrations in regards to the freedom of our country. This is one of those times when national pride rises up and people come together for various parades and events to show support for our country.

Read more...   

  Why Be Generous?
This is the last lesson in a series of lessons involving our possessions. We've talked about the things that we own, where our treasures are, how much is enough and now we will talk about why we should be generous. In general, it would appear that most people are rather generous when they see a legitimate need. When someone suffers from a natural disaster, people are often willing to give of their time and money to help ease suffering of those who have been impacted. We've seen this in the case of flooding, tornados, earthquakes, tsunamis, mudslides and so forth. We have a tendency to 'feel' for those who have had to endure loss. I don't know if it is because we are so thankful that it wasn't us, or if there is some other altruistic motive behind what we do, but people will give in times of need.

Read more...   

  How Much is Enough?
So, how much is enough? This is a question that just about every person wrestles with at one time or another. When we think of money, the answer we generally end up with is never enough. It's easy to look at others and say that if you had that much money, you'd have enough. We see CEOs, entertainers, athletes and several others that have made millions of dollars, only to find that over several years later they declare bankruptcy. At the root is something that is true for people of almost any income level. Some people tend to spend everything that they make (and then some). They believe that next year, they will make more, so they will be okay and the debt grows, year by year.

Read more...   

  Where is your Treasure?
If you had access to a Treasure Map, would you use it? As children, we are often enthralled by the idea of treasures. I know I used to think about the bucket of gold at the end of the rainbow (I never found the bucket), although I've seen plenty of rainbows in my life. The thought of sunken treasures or treasures hidden away someplace is the focus point of many stories. People look for treasures among their trash. You have probably seen different shows on TV where people bring old antiques and hope that it is worth something. Many people go to yard sales and flea markets, looking for that little nugget that sells for a couple of dollars, but is worth thousands.

Read more...   

  What Do You Own?
The next series of lessons explores the biblical perspective of material possessions. Lesson titles are "What Do You Own?", followed by "Where Is Your Treasure?", "How Much Is Enough?" and "Why Be Generous?" In our day and age, people seem to want to be defined by what they have. There is a notion of 'keeping up with the Joneses'. People pursue education in order to make more. People are drawn to larger houses, faster vehicles, better clothes, more toys and so on. A friend of mine went to the lake over the Memorial Day Weekend. Given that the lake he went to is usually incredibly busy, I asked if they had problems getting around. He said that it was eerily silent - many homes and boats were for sale. In this slow economy, people are starting to get rid of many things they acquired over time. Second and third houses are being sold (usually at a loss). Toys and other nonessentials, such as boats and other recreational vehicles are on the market. When the belt gets tightened, the frivolous things are usually the first things to go.

Read more...   

  Invest in Others
There is a mentor program in the place that I work. This is an excellent opportunity for younger folks to spend some time with others more experienced, in order to enhance their career. I've noticed that people often end up wherever they end up because they haven't taken the time to plan on where they are going. Certain steps need to be considered in planning a career and it helps to have someone who has walked that road before you to help you in decisions that are made. In a way, the mentor is investing in the mentee, helping him or her become more likely to experience success in their career.

Read more...   

  Pursue God's Agenda
One of the things that have become a big rage over the past several years has been the advent of PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) and other similar technological advancements. When everyone's day gets busier, it gets harder to track the important things. It isn't uncommon for a person to have multiple events in a day, and when you factor in schedules of kids and other activities, it can become a full time job just to manage the day. It's easy to have conflicting appointments, which cause us to have to manage our priorities.

Read more...   

  Walk with God
This lesson is about walking with God. This is one of the key characteristics that are needed by leaders in the church, but I would argue that a person that walks with God makes a better leader in every situation. The guidelines and commands that God has given us are not to make life harder, but are truly intended to bring about real life. As believers, this needs to be a goal in all that we do.

Read more...   

  Use Your Influence
As we continue our study on leadership, this lesson focuses on the significance of using your influence. If you think back over the past several years, you can realize that there are many people that have had significant influence on our society. I think of a few key women such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the influence that they have had, you would have to admit that their lives have had a profound influence on many in our society. There have been scores of men and women who have influenced society, and millions of men and women who have had influence on untold numbers of individuals.

Read more...   

  Overcome Your Fears
You may not think of fear in conjunction with leadership, but many people lack courage when they lead others. For some, it is the fear of speaking in front of people or it may involve a fear of making the wrong decision as a leader. For others it is a fear that they aren't ready to be a leader. There are likely other fears that people possess when it comes to stepping up as a leader. Over time, leaders become more comfortable, but especially at the start, there is fear in becoming a leader.

Read more...   

  Encounter the Risen Lord
This lesson concludes the study on grief. In the previous lessons, Berkley and I have talked about hope during grief, recognizing God's presence in the midst of grief and receiving/giving comfort during grief. In this lesson, we focus on the victory of the resurrected Christ. From a believer's perspective, everything we hope for, everything that we place our faith in is reliant upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15, "if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith …More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins… If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied."

Read more...   

  Receive Comfort, Give Comfort
Comforting a person in their time of grief can become a very touchy subject. Many people don't know what to say, or what to do when a close friend has lost a spouse or a child or someone else very near to them. While I believe that people really care very much, they often withdraw for fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. On the other hand, when someone is experiencing grief, they need to realize that people do care. Sometimes, things get said without thinking - and it shouldn't be taken personal. Although it is difficult for both the giver and receiver of comfort in time of grief, we all need to learn how to receive and give comfort. Whether you need to give or receive it now or not isn't the point. All of us will one day have to experience grief. What can you learn to be a little more prepared?

Read more...   

  Recognize God's Presence
This lesson continues the short series on dealing with grief. In the last lesson, we talked about how to balance grief and hope, through a very person example given by my wife Berkley. This week continues with a lesson on recognizing God's presence in the midst of grief. The passage chosen for this lesson is in Psalm 31, but as people have dealt with grief, there are a myriad of passages that have spoken to them.

Read more...   

  Balance Grief with Hope
Grief is universal. It isn't something that we deal with daily, but when one has lost a loved one, the grief can last for a very long time. There have been several people (including Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross) that have written about the stages of grief, which include denial (this can't be happening to me), anger (it's not fair), bargaining (let me postpone death - just give me more time), depression (what's the point, why go on) and acceptance (it's going to be okay). There are other very similar grief models that are available.

Read more...   

  Stay the Course
How hard is it to stay the course? Assuming you are a driver, how often have you run over the grooves or ruts on the side of the road, indicating that you were veering off the road? I know it has happened to me on a few occasions - sometimes because I'm merging onto a roadway and trying to stay as close to the side to allow another lane of traffic to pass by. At other times, it is because I have become distracted, and the rough pavement is a bit of a wakeup call. Normally, when we are driving, we are cognizant of the task at hand and we are focused on the road and the destination.

Read more...   

  Relationships Under Stress
Stress eventually gets to everything, including our relationships. It may not take several months for relationships to become stressed - it could be in a short period, but over the longer haul, all relationships will go through some stress. Often, we try and identify the reason for our stress and either avoid the cause, or try to fix it. Sometimes that works, but often we are unable to change things and we have to find the way to deal with it.

Read more...   

  Ready for Action
There are things that we need to put into practice if we are going to live a life that honors God. There are several different disciplines that we need to establish in our lives. These run counter to the world's views of life and if you think you can just grow in these areas by not giving any thought to your faith other than on Sundays, you will find yourself sadly mistaken.

Read more...   

  Faith Under Fire
This set of lessons is about living confidently in difficult times. In our day, there is so much uncertainty in many areas of life. In some areas of life, we have some control of outcomes, but there are many other areas that seem to be out of our control. There are many people that have lost their jobs in the past few months and man of them have lost their homes. Just a few short months ago, it may have appeared that things were going very well. There are those who are battling disease at this time and others who are uncertain about many other things. This set of lessons is taken from the book of 1 Peter. In the book Peter wrote to encourage hope and steadfastness to a group of believers who were suffering for their faith.

Read more...   

  God Loves to Welcome Us Home
This lesson is about going home. We hear so many songs about home being a place that you feel accepted and loved. There's no place like home for the holidays! We hear that song at Christmas and many people think fondly of their homes - visiting with children, grandchildren, grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and others.

Read more...   

  God Loves Like a "Grand" Father
This series of lessons has focused on love. "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing" is a song by Frank Sinatra, but love can be one of the most difficult things in life to deal with. One of the things that you may notice about love in our world is that many people make it directly dependent upon other things happening. Nobody likes to have their hopes dashed, but since we deal with humans on a daily basis - in our families and other relationships, we all will experience some dashing at one point or another. We may even be the dasher. We know about people promising things and reneging on their promises. We know about those we love who do things that may very well upset us.

Read more...   

  God Loves for His People to be Loyal to Him
How important is loyalty in a relationship? Loyalty is needed in all types of relationships. Loyalty is basically faithfulness to commitments or obligations. We hear about Customer Loyalty, which is a key to a thriving business. We see how important it is to know that others will be loyal to a cause, and that they will 'have your back' if it comes to that. What was the Lone Ranger without the loyalty of Tonto? What was Batman without the loyalty of Robin? Loyalty is a key in human relationships. Loyalty doesn't imply that one will never disappoint another, but there is something present that is consistent beyond the ups and downs of life.

Read more...   

  God Loves the Unlovely
The next four lessons are taken from the book of Hosea. The theme of these lessons is God's Outrageous Love. The specific lessons are about choosing faithfulness or unfaithfulness, running to or away from love, and loving truly or falsely. As we study through these lessons, we should be better able to grasp the enormity of God's love and choose to live in it.

Read more...   

  A Lifestyle of Meditation
The whole idea of meditation involves continued or extended thought, reflection, contemplation or introspection. When we meditate, specifically on God's word, it displaces other thoughts. It is difficult to meditate on God's word and then turn around and live worldly. Meditation is not memorization. Memorization is good, but even when memorizing, the words do little if we don't reflect on their meaning. As you read this lesson, ask yourself if consistent meditation is part of your life, or if you are more likely pre-occupied with business, sports, pleasure, cars, problems or any of the other things that the world has to offer.

Read more...   

  A Lifestyle of Sacrifice
This lesson continues a series of lessons on spiritual disciplines that we must all understand to be successful in our Christian life. So far, we've talked about the importance of community, humility, service and this week we will focus on sacrifice. I believe that most of us understand the meaning of sacrifice. In some cultures or religions, sacrifice is known as the offering of an animal, plant, or even a human life to some deity or image. If you read back through the Old Testament, you will see many of the temple sacrifices that God established with the Israelites. If you were to go to the Far East, you will see temples that are setup for all sorts of sacrifices to be offered to idols or other 'gods'. This type of sacrifice is not what is intended as a spiritual discipline.

Read more...   

  A Lifestyle of Service
This week's lesson talks about a lifestyle of service. There are plenty of service opportunities that are out there. In times of tragedy, many people come out and want to serve. In the St Louis area, I remember the flood of 93, and the hordes of people that made themselves available to help with sandbag efforts. More recently, a tornado came through a local city and destroyed several homes and businesses.

Read more...   

  A Lifestyle of Humility
This lesson continues a set of lessons on spiritual disciplines that will help ensure success in the Christian life. The discipline is humility. Some see humility as a sign of weakness. Much of our society promotes self first. It is easy to fall into this type of thinking as we want to ensure that we are recognized in our jobs, hoping to ensure that we do not lose our jobs in the event of layoffs. Certainly, we each need to put forth our best effort, and being recognized is not bad in and of itself.

Read more...   

  A Lifestyle of Community
Discipline is something that we see as a two edged sword. I don't know many people that desire to be disciplined, although we know it is something that is ultimately good for us. I know people that refuse to eat vegetables, even if it is supposed to be good for them, but you can always compensate with other foods. In the area of our life - spiritual and otherwise, discipline is absolutely essentially. Can you imagine the bedlam that would take place if people were not disciplined when they drove their vehicles? It amazes me that there are not many more accidents than what we typically see - that is largely due to discipline. Any person that desires to do well in athletics must be disciplined - learning how to do the basics and do them so well that it becomes second nature. Although I play much less basketball now than I used to, I grew shooting free throws daily - over and over and over. Even to this day, that discipline proves to be helpful when I do play. A student needs to be disciplined. An employee needs to be disciplined. An artist needs to be disciplined.

Read more...   

  Go and Tell
Go and tell. There are some things that we will go and tell others about. If you've just returned from a trip, you are likely to tell others about where you went. I can remember the first Mission Trip I went on, which happened to be the first time I was out of the country. When I got back, I couldn't help but tell anyone that would listen about what I experienced. It's much the same if you go on a vacation and really enjoy yourself. It's easy to talk about that. There are other things that people have little problem talking about - their kids, their cars, their pets, their favorite sports teams, their recipes, their favorite shows or movies and so on.

Read more...   

  Focus on Jesus
What are people thinking as they go through the motions of Christmas? It usually depends on what is most important to each person. For some people, Christmas is all about giving and receiving gifts. People fret over what to get for others, or what they are going to get. Some people finish shopping weeks ahead of time, while others wait until Christmas Eve to begin. You will be bombarded by commercials that tell you exactly what it is that you or others 'need'. For some, it's about gifts and giving, but that's not what Christmas is about.

Read more...   

  Go and Do
Around the Christmas season, you will hear Christmas music everywhere -on radio stations, in stores on TV and so forth. One of the carols you hear often is "Go, Tell it On the Mountain". You've likely heard that song many times over the course of many years. For most people, even many believers, the more apt title might be "Go, Hear it On the Mountain". People will flock to churches and hear the stories they've heard many times before. Some families I know will sit around and read "The Night Before Christmas" on Christmas Eve. While they may refer to it at different points of the year, they only read it on Christmas Eve or around the Christmas holiday. That seems appropriate. For some people, church and anything spiritual is much like "The Night Before Christmas". For these people, there are two high points - Christmas and Easter. I've heard many churches refer to those regular attendees as "Chreasters".

Read more...   

  Value What God Values
Especially at this time of the year, people are more focused on seeing needs of others. In St Louis, the local paper used to publish the 100 Neediest Cases, which generally get met. While not every existing need is met, most needs that are known are met at this time. People are generally giving people and want to help others, when they have the opportunity. Often, we all get so caught up in the daily grind of life that we tend to forget that the needs exist. We think about our holiday shopping, our Christmas decorations, our plans and what we are going to do. There isn't anything wrong about being focused on our own needs, but we need to start seeing what God sees. There are many needs that are around us, each and every day. I wonder what would happen if we started looking for them?

Read more...   

  Life Worth Sharing
Over the past several lessons, we have looked at some of the foundational beliefs of Christianity and how that should impact our lives. For those of us who are true believers, we realize that Christianity is central to nearly every other aspect of life (and if there are portions of our life that don't relate to our beliefs, perhaps we need to look at those). Decisions we make or don't make are usually based on our beliefs. The quality of life that we have is based upon our beliefs. It certainly doesn't mean that we always make the right decisions or that circumstances in our lives are always rosy, but it is the one constant that drives everything else. When we consider all the benefits that we have as believers and the amount of reliance we put on our Savior, is there something wrong when we have little to no desire to share our faith with others?

Read more...   

  Life Together
Some people may seem suited to live their life by themselves. They may thrive in the wilderness with no desire to talk to anyone. The idea of cell phones, internet, TV or any other media may seem like the ideal place to be. It may be that we all would like that from time to time - maybe an hour, maybe a day or a few days. However, most people would go stir crazy if they were to have to live their lives by themselves. People need each other. There are all sorts of places that people go to be around other people. For some, it is their job. For some, it is belonging to a club or organization. For some, it may be through recreation or hobbies. We like being around other people that have similar interests.

Read more...   

  Life in Light of Eternity
We are constantly barraged by television and radio commercials, billboards, through magazines and other means that we NEED more stuff. We often find that when we set our hearts on stuff and get it, there is a letdown associated with it. While stuff may entertain for a period of time, or stuff may make us look better for a bit or that stuff may be enjoyable to own for a bit, it loses its appeal rather quickly. Then, for many people, it is off to the next thing and the next and the next. This would leave to a very self-focused life, trying to get the most out of everything that is here and leaving other things that are more important behind. This may be very unintentional, but if left to ourselves, we all tend to go this way. It may not be a life of extravagance, but it often turns out to be a life all about 'me'.

Read more...   

  Why the Christian Life is Better
The title of this lesson implies that the Christian life is better. To say that something is better, it is implied that the other thing is less. What is it about a life without Christ is less, and what is it about a life with Christ that is better? It is merely a choice; as if you were choosing colors to paint a room? You can choose the colors over time, but this choice has eternal value. Obviously, there is much more involved, as this relates to your life - not your house or some other possession that we see as temporary. What is it about the Christian life that is better?

Read more...   

  Making Sense of Faith
We are constantly reminded of how we have to earn things today. From the time you are a child, you learn that you have to earn things at home. Certainly, there are things that you receive just because you are part of a family, but you know that you have to do certain things to receive some benefits. When you go to school, you know that you have to put forth the effort to do the homework, pay attention in class and do well on tests to get the good grade. In our work environments, we know that there is the need to do the tasks that are assigned and to do a good job to get a raise and to keep the job. We seem to be programmed that there is nothing in life that comes freely - you have to earn it.

Read more...   

  Jesus the One and Only
You may have heard the phrase 'the one and only'. While it may indicate that there is something special, to say something is one and only is normally a gross overstatement. I am reminded of the Will Ferrell movie "Elf". In his travel to New York City, Buddy the Elf comes across a café that has a sign indicating "World's Best Cup of Coffee". Buddy is beside himself to be able to meet the people that hold that distinguished title. See the clip. However, the title was overstated, as most accolades are.

Read more...   

  What's So Different About Jesus?
This lesson continues the study on Christian Apologetics. In the past couple of lessons, we looked at the issue of sin, which is something that we all deal with. Face it, we've all hit times in life where given the choice, we've taken an 'x'. Sin is a big deal and it causes separation between each of us and God. Also, there is none that are good enough. Some people consider themselves to be 'better' than others, but nobody stacks up when compared to the standards that God places before us. You may be graded on a curve in a class, but that isn't now life is to be lived.

Read more...   

  Why "Good" Isn't Good Enough
What does it mean to do a good job? For some people, to do a good job is a great thing and for others, it can be somewhat derisive - implying you did a good job; but you can do better. If you've bought a car or some other major purchase, chances are that you will get a satisfaction survey in the mail. The scoring might be 1-5, with 5 being for exceptional service and 1 meaning you'll never go back. Some people will give 5's across the board if they were pleased with their experience, while others grade a little more harshly. A good experience might yield a 4, whereas an exceptional experience is required for a 5. The point is that our perspective of what is good differs from person to person.

Read more...   

  Sin IS a Big Deal
People want the feeling of being accepted by God, and knowing that God works in their lives, but many want to avoid any level of accountability or they simply don't want God to impact their lives. However, there is a problem that we all have and it is called sin. There is a difference between sin and mistakes. We can make mistakes on a test that we take in school. A quarterback can make a mistake by throwing an interception. You can remove a door from the basement stairs because you thought you couldn't fit something through there - and then find out you made a mistake. You can turn the wrong way on a road and go further from your destination - that is a mistake. Some people like to say that they may make mistakes, but sin only belongs to other people. They may think that, but there are no perfect people in our world. You may look at others and compare yourself to them, thinking you're not that bad, but we all need to realize that we all are sinners and are separated from God due to our sin - murderer or gossiper, adulterer or liar, thief or even just a real crummy attitude. You may say that you don't really have that big of a problem. I know that line of thinking - yes, I had a big issue in the past, but now I control things and it is no longer an issue. Sin really is a big deal, at any level in our lives.

Read more...   

  The Case for God's Involvement
This lesson talks about the involvement of God in our lives. What does it mean to be involved? You may hear people that talk of being involved in a relationship or some cause. Others often talk about being involved in the lives of others. I have some friends that serve as foster parents and to do so, you must be willing to be involved. There are some people that I work with that seem to want to be involved in everything at work. Some people see a crime in progress, yet they pass by because they don't want to be involved.

Read more...   

  The Case for God's Love
If you get to the point of realization that God does exist, then you need to determine what God is like. Is he a cosmic genie of sorts that controls everything? In some circles, he is depicted as an older gray bearded meek grandfatherly type in a huge rocking chair. In other circles, he may be depicted with lightning bolts in his hands. There are lots of different ways that people view God.

Read more...   

  The Case for God's Existence
Does God really exist? Perhaps there is no other question that has been asked that has had such far reaching implications since the dawn of time. It is a question that has been grappled with by different cultures and generally the conclusion comes to at least the notion of there being some sort of Creator. While we cannot adequately explain God, and it requires some measure of faith to believe in God, I would argue that it takes a greater leap of faith to act as if there is no God. The answer that a person gives to this question results more consequences than any other question that a person may have to answer. It basically comes down to whether a person believes that man is supreme in the entire universe or that there is at minimal, a force that be deified or obeyed.

Read more...   

  Making Your Case
This unit begins a study in apologetics. Over the next several lessons, there will be an introduction and several lessons making the case for God's existence, his love and his involvement in our lives. There will be lessons on why we need a savior, why Jesus is the savior we need and how we ought to respond to him. There will also be lessons on why the Christian life is the best way to live, and the right and responsibility we have as believers to share the gospel with all people everywhere.

Read more...   

  Face Crises with Courage
If you had the ability to plan the next day out, what would you plan? I would imagine you would try and make sure that there are no problems that you have to face. There would be no financial issues. There would be no relationship issues. There would be no job issues. You would wake up feeling great; have food to eat during the day that you like; make progress at work or in your home projects or at your school. You would spend great family time with your spouse, kids, or with your friends. You would laugh a lot and enjoy the evening. You would be able to do whatever exercise you like (and feel good doing it) and then get to bed when you would like. In short, it would be an easy day. And, if we could plan our week, it would be the same. And, if we could plan our month, year or life, it would be the same. But, have any of us lived that way? We all face crises of many types.

Read more...   

  Deal with Personal Sin
We all know what it is like to sin. None of us is perfect. For many, if not most people, there is the idea of some besetting sin. It may be an area of your life that, try as you may, you can't seem to shake. It may be similar to an addiction that a drug user may have. At times, they'd like to kick that addiction, but they strangely end up coming right back to it. For some people, it may be actual addictions to harmful behavior. For example, pornography has become more and more prevalent in our society, and it has infiltrated our churches. Perhaps it has always been there in some manner or another, but now it is just too widely accessible. Some people think they can control it, but it ends up controlling them. It warps life and can lead to many behaviors that are very destructive to self, family and others around a person. For others, it may be sins of speech. This may or may not be the words that are used. Nothing against a sailor, but when Christians are speaking like sailors, they are allowing their speech to negatively impact them. There are others that may never use profanity, but are quick to attack and tear down others. This can ruin relationships as quick as anything else.

Read more...   

  Demonstrate Kindness
This lesson is on kindness. We all see reasons to be kind to other people. It's how we want to be treated. Even when we've failed, we like to be treated in a kind manner. When you are in school and struggling in a subject, it is always better to have a teacher that will treat you kindly. You are more apt to go and ask for help if you know that kindness is the way that they operate. In a work environment, we like to be treated kindly when we are making presentations or having reviews. In a sports context, most athletes like to be treated with kindness and respect as they seek to improve their skills and performance. In relationships, we like to be treated kindly, through the good times and bad.

Read more...   

  Focus on God's Purposes
In this lesson, we look at success as it pertains to God's purposes. Sometimes, we want to do something for God. If you're like me, there have been times in your life where you have come up with some grandiose idea of what you can do for God. This isn't a bad thing, but we need to stop and see if the thing we are doing is our own idea, or if God is behind it. Unfortunately, if you're like me, you've also come across times in your life where you decided to forge ahead with little regard for what God's purposes are. When we do this, we assume that God will bless whatever we do. In practice, we've seen this happen, as we've made bad decisions and God still uses our lives (if he didn't, then none of our lives would be of any use to his kingdom). However, to have true success, we must align ourselves with God's purposes. It's always better to find out where God is at work and then join him there than it is to forge out on our own and ask him to bless our efforts.

Read more...   

  Respect God's Holiness
What do you think about when you think of holiness? Dictionary.com defines holiness as a state of being holy, so that doesn't help much. However, something holy may be defined as something declared sacred by religious use or authority or something consecrated. There is another sense of something being pure or undiluted. There is a tendency to treat something as holy, but over time, many people closest to it tend to forget that.

Read more...