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Bible Reading Resources to Help in your personal reading.

Click the links below to open or download helpful tools for your personal bible reading.

Click this Link to listen to this weeks message “Passion without Purpose”

If you struggle reading and would prefer to LISTEN ONLINE try www.bible.is

Find a Bible version that is easy to understand at www.biblegateway.com

Tools to encourage and develop your reading: 

Helpful Habits for reading

How to read your bible

 Bible Reading Plans: 

shorter reading plan

3 year reading plan

A Path to Spiritual Growth

FEBRUARY 27, 2015 1 COMMENT

readingbible

by Ed Stetzer

Ed StetzerThis issue of Facts & Trends has gone back to the basics a bit. It has aimed to help us understand the gospel better, experience more of God’s love, and be more inspired to live out our calling as His redeemed and empowered people, the church.

Throughout, we’ve looked at ways spiritual growth takes place. I want to stay on that subject, breaking it down into its constituent parts, and thinking a little more about the way it occurs. After all, Christianity is about change and newness of life, and growth is certainly part of God’s plan for every believer.

The truth is, having a desire for spiritual growth is not enough in the Christian life. We must be on the path. We’ve found through Transformational Discipleship research that there is a progression, a path involved in making disciples. Paul writes of this path in his letter to the Colossians:

“For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10). 

Here are three things that mark the path of spiritual formation:

Knowing

Being filled with the knowledge of God’s will is a vital part of becoming a disciple of Jesus and continuing to grow spiritually. We can tell people to be more like Jesus all day long, but if they don’t know Jesus, they won’t be like Him. This means reading the Bible is essential to our spiritual growth. Show me someone who isn’t reading the Word of God, and I’ll show you someone who isn’t growing deeper as a believer.

The psalmist says to God, “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105). The path to spiritual maturity is lit by the Word. In fact, true spiritual depth is about understanding the Word of God and living out its truths. And that should be the goal for all of us.

Being

We don’t learn about God to become theological encyclopedias. Rather, we learn and know so we can live out of our new identity, exchanging old desires for new ones, and old ways of thinking for the mind of Christ.

There is a mysterious transfer of spiritual DNA that occurs as a believer walks the path of discipleship. It is a becoming. The more time you spend with a mentor, read a certain author, or listen to a favorite speaker, the more you will begin to think like that person.

In Romans, Paul talks about being. He says, “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). We begin to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord when we emulate His traits.

Doing

Just as our mindsets are formed by our beliefs and training, our actions flow from who we are.

Bearing fruit in every good work is an indicator of development. Just as no one is saved by knowing more about God, no one is saved by doing good things for God. But being a disciple will inevitably result in doing the work of a disciple—not just doing good things but also bearing fruit for God.

We do good works not so good things are done, but as Jesus taught, “So that [people] may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). That’s what bearing fruit looks like—it’s God-centered obedience.

If being a disciple is about taking on Christ’s traits, producing fruit is about exhibiting the presence of Jesus. We were designed to produce spiritually. He is the vine. We are the branches.

Paul tells the church at Ephesus, “For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Fruit is a sign a tree is maturing. Fruit in a believer’s life is a sign that a disciple is growing. And it occurs as we get on the path of discipleship with Jesus.


ED STETZER (@EdStetzer) is executive director of LifeWay Research. For more visitEdStetzer.com.

5 Ways to teach your Kids Gods Ways.

Source:   http://factsandtrends.net/2015/02/09/5-simple-ways-to-teach-your-kids-

Reblogged from “Facts and Trends”

by Aaron Earls

Teaching your kids math can feel daunting. But teaching your kids theology can feel downright terrifying.

Some parents feel overwhelmed with a lack of time. They just don’t see how they can fit something else into their day. Others may not feel as if they have adequate theological training. They don’t feel comfortable going much beyond, “Jesus loves you.”

So how can you weave theological teaching into their daily lives, without necessarily setting them down for an in-depth family sermon (though there is nothing wrong with that)? How can you impart good theology into the lives of your children, without possessing a theological degree?

You don’t need to feel like you’re trying out the latest parenting fad or complicated system. Instead, here are five simple ways to teach your kids theology virtually every day.

Read the Bible

It seems obvious, and it is, but it is the foundation before anything else. Why not let God do much of the teaching for you?

He has given us His word with the Holy Spirit who works in the life of the believer to help illuminate that word. By reading the Bible to your children, you’ll allow God to speak through His word, while demonstrating that Scripture is important to you and your faith. Use it before anything else.

Will you come across passages you don’t understand? Absolutely. Will your children ask questions you don’t know the answer to? Sure.

Both of those are actually beneficial to your children and your own Christian walk. They can see that their mom and dad are growing, too.

They’ll know it’s okay to ask questions and wrestle with some of the hard things in their faith. Hopefully, it will inspire both you and your child to seek answers through your own personal studies and also using some other sources of good theology.

Read other books together

Some of the memories I cherish the most are the times of reading to my children before they go to sleep. Along with the Bible, we’ve read devotional books, classic fiction, Christian stories, and several others. I don’t have to start a discussion time with them, they naturally ask questions.

Because of our reading the books together, both of my sons are practically experts on all things Narnia and Middle Earth. They often remember scenes from the novels better than I do.

They also caught the spiritual themes before I expected. As we read through The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, they commented about how Aslan was sacrificing himself just like Jesus did.

I didn’t have to tell them that or develop a lesson for that. They naturally got it. And yours will too, if you make a habit of reading them good stories that reflect the great story.

Pray intentionally

Honestly, this is one I accidentally discovered with my kids. In praying with them at night, I would try to always pray with the gospel in mind, with the ideas of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration at the forefront of how I talked to God.

Thanking Him for the goodness He made, how we messed it up, but how He opened the door for us to be redeemed through Jesus’ death on the cross and how, ultimately, God is going to restore things back to the way they should be.

One night, I heard one of my boys praying about how he got a scratch on his leg because this world was fallen, but that God still had good things here. The leg could be healed and God was still here.

Those were good things to be thankful for, even though the world is fallen. My son had picked up on that from my prayers.

Be specific and intentional about what you are talking to God about with your children. Use that prayer time to speak to God, but also cause your children to think theologically.

Talk about entertainment

This is one opportunity many parents fail to capitalize on. Most families watch some television or movies, read books, or consume some type of media for entertainment.

Some times those entertainment choices may line up with your values. Often times entertainment, even children’s shows, lies in direct contrast to your perspective as a Christian parent.

What do you do then? Use both of those situations to create theological conversations.

It doesn’t have to seem deep and philosophical in order to be important and impacting. Reinforcing that, no, we aren’t a cosmic accident that just purposelessly evolved, can create a lasting reassurance in the mind of your child.

Evaluate the entertainment—music, movies, TV, video games, everything—in light of a Christian worldview, through the perspective of Scripture and talk with your kids about what they saw or heard.

It will help them see how their faith should be involved in every aspect of their life.

Model it

This may be the most difficult, but it is absolutely the most important. Live out your faith in front of your kids, even when they no longer think you are the greatest thing ever. Even when they know you make mistakes

Your kids may have thought you were a superhero when they were younger, but, at some point, you can no longer wear a mask. They see you and how you live.

If you say you value Christ, His commands, and His church, but you can’t be bothered with going to services on Sunday because the big game is on or the golf course is “calling your name,” then what you say is pointless.

It’s not a matter of being perfect—again, your children know better than anyone else you aren’t. It’s about being consistent and seeking to live for Christ and admitting when you mess up.

After all, that probably needs to be modeled more than anything else. Have the humility to acknowledge your own shortcomings, ask them for forgiveness, and help them see they can always turn to God for forgiveness.

It’s our job as parents to teach our children theology. It can be intimidating, but it doesn’t require a seminary degree. You can help your kids know and love Jesus more. And it doesn’t have to be time consuming and difficult.


Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.

Are you living a questionable life… It could be a good thing.

By Michael Frost.

In his new eBook with Exponential, The 5 Habits of Highly Missional People: Taking the BELLS Challenge to Fulfill the Mission of God, internationally recognized missiologist, author and Exponential East 2014 speaker Michael Frost fleshes out five habits and practices (BELLS: Bless, Eat, Listen, Learn, Sent) for actually living missional lives. In the article below, Frost focuses on habit No. 2 in his BELLS acrostic: Eat.
Since the beginning of the Christian movement, eating has been a central Christian practice. And not only eating sacramentally, as in the Eucharist, but eating missionally as a way to express love to all.

In every culture, the invitation to share a table is a profoundly meaningful one. The table is the great equalizer in relationships. When we eat together, we discover the inherent humanity of all people. We share stories. And hopes. And fears. And disappointments. People open up to each other. And we can open up to them to share the same things, including our faith in Jesus.

See the full article here…

http://blog.exponential.org/2014/01/living-questionable-lives/?utm_source=Exponential&utm_campaign=34a0975cb2-CPW_20140130&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4cfe461aff-34a0975cb2-71974721

7 Ways You Can Help People Welcome You Into Their Church

7 Ways You Can Help People Welcome You Into Their Church.

7 Ways You Can Help People Welcome You Into Their Church

welcome

Starting at a new church is undoubtedly tough, but there are definitely challenges on both sides.

No one doubts the importance of being a welcoming church, but what about being an easily ‘welcomable’ person?

Here are a few things that really make it easier for a church to embrace you!

  1. Come consistently. If someone sees you several weeks in a row, they’ll start to realize that you’re serious about connecting.
  2. Don’t leave as soon as the service ends.  If you want people to be welcoming, you need to be available.
  3. Say yes to invites. People who say no give the vibe that they’re not interested. It can be nerve-wracking for someone to extend an invitation to someone they don’t know. Getting a no can feel like rejection and makes them less inclined to ask again.
  4. Join a small group or Bible study. This is how people in big churches get to know each other. If you’re not in one, don’t be surprised if you feel out of the loop.
  5. Get involved in ministry. This is one of the best ways for you to connect with people and sends a message that you’re actually planning to stick around
  6. Make yourself known! There’s nothing wrong with going up to someone and letting them know you’re new. Especially in a big church, people can be afraid to ask in case you’ve been coming for a long time!
  7. Realize that good friendships take time to cultivate.

Body Life at BBC – Eric Hovind

a number of people have been listening to Eric Hovind speak on the connection and disconnection between science and religion, and the apparent need to keep the two separate.