Thursday, April 27, 2017

1-3 John - Life in Fellowship

The letters of John are a comfort and an encouragement to every believer in Jesus Christ.  In these loving and challenging letters the Apostle John encourages believers to grow in their fellowship with Christ as well as their fellowship with other believers.  This study breaks the letters of John into understandable sections and gives valuable insights from the Greek text as well as the history and the culture into which they were given.  We hope you enjoy this newly available resource:

Monday, April 24, 2017

Pursuing the Best

He who gets wisdom loves his own soul;
He who keeps understanding will find good.
Proverbs 19:8

“You deserve a treat…a break…a special moment…” These are frequent messages from those who are selling the treats, breaks and “special moments.”  They promise that their product will somehow provide you with something you want or desire…something that is better for you.  While these promises vary in their truthfulness there is one promise that is always good.  When we invest in God’s perfect wisdom, contained in His word, we are not only doing what is best for glorifying HIM but we are also putting ourselves in the best position to be what we were meant to be.  Submitting to the wisdom of God is exactly what all people need, and it is the best for us in every way.  Being guided each day by the wonderful word of God is also what brings the “best results” in life, which is not a coincidence at all!  This is by no means some promise of unconditional prosperity – but a simple reality: if you take care of your care according to the manufacturer’s recommendations you will give your car the best chance at a long and productive service.  So, with us – living under the Lord’s wisdom – grace, righteousness, holiness, forgiveness and love – gives is not just the right thing to do, it is the very best thing to do.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Esther and God's Faithfulness

This is a tool for anyone hoping to understand the message behind the book of Esther.  This resource will guide you through the amazing story of God's amazing faithfulness - even when His people had largely abandoned Him and His promises for them.  This is a great study for anyone who wants to know God more as He reveals Himself through the Bible.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Insurance vs. Real Protection

The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.
Proverbs 18:10

Insurance is a booming industry in America.  Anything that you buy, and anything that you do, can likely be insured in some way shape or form.  The idea is that if something goes wrong there is someone to call who will make things better, to whatever degree that is possible.  However, there are other places we might run when things have gone wrong.  We may choose to look to the government to try and fix our problems.  We may look to a medical professional or even a dear friend.  There are many plans and back-ups for the back-ups, and this can be a great thing.  We are meant to plan ahead and take proper precautions in accords to the wisdom and resources which the Lord has provided.  At the end of the day, however, we must cling to the reality that the Name of the Lord is our strong tower.  A tower was a great defense if a person or a group of people were attacked.  The tower, if properly built and equipped, would provide a protection against a much greater force.  The question is not whether or not we will have plans and arrangements set aside for when things go wrong, the question is where we will go first.  All our best plans and arrangements are nothing next to the guiding and guarding Hand of He who knows every hair on your head and when a single sparrow falls to the ground.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Getting Healthy - a Resource

This small resource is designed to point us towards faith in Christ in regards to our physical bodies.  There is a great deal of information, both good and bad, about diets, exercise and body image.  This booklet is designed to direct our thoughts about our physical existence through the wisdom of God's word - the Bible.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Problems with Self-Expression

A fool has no delight in understanding,
But in expressing his own heart.
Proverbs 18:2

James would later write: “So then, my beloved brethren let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak slow to wrath…”  It is always easier to put our own viewpoint out there than to listen to the viewpoint of another.  There have been remarkable studies done on the brain to show how much energy it takes to change one’s mind and understand a contrary viewpoint.  It is a mere function of conservation of energy that often keeps us from doing so.  Yet, the Proverbs tell us that this tidy conservation of energy is, in fact, foolishness!  Wisdom takes energy, growing in wisdom is an actual investment.  This is true in our conversations and it is true in our Bible reading.  How often does a verse come up that challenges our current idea and we simply re-work it in our mind to fit with our existing belief rather than allowing the word of God to change our current understanding.   It is costly, and it requires humility, but it is worth it.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Finding the Faith

Romans is the central Biblical book explaining the Christian faith.  It is an introduction and an advanced course in Christian faith, belief and practice all rolled into one.  This resource is designed to break down the book of Romans and evaluate the meat of Scripture verse-by-verse and concept by concept.  We hope you enjoy this resource which is now available on Amazon Kindle!

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Joy of Friendship

A friend loves at all times,
And a brother is born for adversity.
Provers 17:17

Technology often changes the way that we use words.  One such affected word is the word “friend”.   A person who is connected to another person on Facebook is called a “friend”.  Yet, true friendship is a deeper thing by far.  A true friend is defined here as one who loves (desires and acts in the best interests of another regardless of the cost) constantly.  Many of us find in our worst trials and difficulties of life who our real friends are and who was merely hanging around for their own benefit.  Each time I read these words I am inspired to express gratitude to my true friends and inspired to be such a friend.  Yet, the most powerful thing about this verse is what was recorded later in John 15:15: “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends for all things that I heard from my father I have made known to you.”  How well Mr. Scriven has put it: “What a friend we have in Jesus!”

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A New Resource

Many of the resources which we have developed over the past years have hitherto unavailable, but now, through the magic of the internet, they are available!  The first resource we would like to highlight is a Bible Study for anyone wanting to know what it means to have confidence in Christ and how that translates into the confident life that the believer is meant to live, by the power of Jesus Christ:

Monday, March 27, 2017

Mocking God

He who mocks the poor reproaches his maker;
He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
Proverbs 17:5

Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines schadenfreude as “enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others”.  This is a German word that has been borrowed into a handful of other languages.  The thing worth noting here is that this sensation in finding delight in other’s misfortune is a well-recognized human phenomenon.  We could go to great lengths to ask why it is that the human condition has a pronounced place for reveling in others weakness or losses.  However, it is simple and most accurate to say that this is the influence of sin in a human life.  This pleasure can be found when your team (sports or political) beats the other team.  Winning isn’t enough…gloating follows.  It is the quiet self-righteous voice inside us that says of the person who suffers loss of health or financial ruin: “He probably deserved it.”  Whether that voice ever makes it out of our head or our pen.  The two warnings of this simple verse are very much worth noting:  This is mocking the maker of those who suffer – mocking God Almighty.  The second is that such an attitude will not go unpunished.  These severe words should help us to see the immense gravity of delighting in the losses of others in the eyes of the Lord.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Finding Happiness

He who heeds the word wisely will find good,
And whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he.
Proverbs 16:20

Legos have change quite a bit from the toy of my youth.  When I was a child Legos came in a bucket and were used to build whatever you may want to build with them. Now Legos come primarily in specific sets used to build models of various types – like a Star Wars space ship.  One of the best things about this style of Lego set is that it forces children to learn to follow directions.  If a person should submit to the directions and follow them carefully the model is impressive and fun – and you get an X-wing!  If the directions are not followed, then you only get a mess of oddly shaped grey bricks.  There are moments in most Lego constructions where the builder must ask themselves if the directions are REALLY correct.  A reasonable amount of faith in the manufacturers of Legos will usually yield success in the project.  It is no less so with the Bible.  We will come to situations in life when we wonder if what God’s word has revealed is correct.  Faith in the LORD, however, will always bring about the correct result: a life grown closer to Christ.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Planning and Stepping

A man’s heart plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

The issue of Divine Sovereignty has caused some difficulty to believers in Christ.  Not that the Biblical teaching is unclear, but because of our unwillingness to observe it for various reasons.  Sovereignty is not a picture of God controlling every decision of every person throughout all human history.  Sovereignty is, rather, the reality that God is in final control of everything and nothing is out of His jurisdiction.  This verse is a beautiful picture of the balance between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will.  Think of the care that is put forth in this wonderful verse.  God designed man to plan his way.  God designed man to make choices by godly wisdom and go the right way.  Yet God is so personal and caring that He also is involved with the direction of each step.  We can praise the God who designed us to learn and grow and plan our way, and walk with the confidence that knows that our very steps are directed by the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful God of the universe.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Knowing Widsom

The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom,
And before honor is humility.
Proverbs 15:33

Understanding who the Lord is who we are in relationship to Him is the ground and basis for all true wisdom.  It is when we understand Who He is and what He has done for us in Christ that we can respond properly to His provision.  If we mistakenly think that we come to the spiritual table with some great service, wealth, or power to offer then we will not know our true humble position before Him.  If we attempt to pull His perfect righteousness down to the level that we can achieve we will live in the filthy rags of human “righteousness”.  Should we try to elevate our strength, righteousness, and ability before Him we are left in the place of self-righteous self-delusion.  No wisdom is available to the man who does not realize his absolutely bankruptcy before God.  It is at this point when His grace is made clear and we receive His loving provision for us in Christ.  

Monday, February 27, 2017

Better is a little...

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord,
Than great treasure with trouble.
Better is a dinner of herbs where love is,
Than a fatted calf with hatred.
Proverbs 15:16-17

One of the most horrible things that can happen to a person, from the world’s viewpoint, is that that person might not have stuff.  A person who is missing the right material possessions (or the right amount of material possessions) is called “poor”, and is pitied by the world system.  The other side of this sad coin is that each person is also trained to tell themselves that they would be much happier if they only had more money, better things, or more “spare time”.   This becomes the lash and spur for each person to live a life of unconditional avarice for the next big house, nice car, or new gadget.  The Bible offers another viewpoint:  We would be better off by far with the fear of the Lord in a loving home than we would with every treasure and gadget, luxury and pleasure apart from Him. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Finding the Best Way

There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
Proverbs 14:12

Most biblical proverbs are met with a calm nod.  “Yes, that is true,” we say to ourselves.  Some, like this one, are met with a calm nod and then a horrifying shudder.  We nod when we think of how this applies to others, and shudder when we realize it also applies to us.  This “way” could be the manner in which we do business.  This “way” could be the choices we make in our families.  This “way” could be choosing to try to earn our salvation through our own good works, rather than resting upon Christ’s completed work.  They appear right, but they end in death.  This is the way that our sin nature gains control over us, by offering “better” alternatives to problems than what is given by God in His word.  They may seem right from our perverse and biased little perspective, but when viewed from the standpoint of the Truth of God’s word the end is clear.  

Monday, February 13, 2017

Bad Smells, Great Results!

Where no oxen are, the trough is clean;
But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.
Proverbs 14:4

My wife would laugh if she ever read this sentence from me: I like things neat and tidy.  It is probably better put: I like things simple and as conflict-free as possible.  I find in ministry, in business and in family the reality is the same: The more people you bring in, the more mess you are going to have.  There are temptations to be found on both sides.  One side would seek to get rid of the ox so there was nothing to clean up.  The other would get as many oxen as they can and choose not to clean up after them.  Either extreme will result in failure, but if we are willing to accept that expanding our lives to include new relationships WILL bring more work we will find ourselves in the best relational situation possible.  

Discipline and Good Times

He who spares the rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
Proverbs 13:24

Discipline is a concept regularly misunderstood in the human context.  The worst of this confusion is that which exists between discipline and punishment.  Punishment involves righteousness, justice and fairness.  A person is punished to in some way make things right after an offense or wrong action.  Discipline, however, is corrective in nature.  When parents observe their children behaving in ways that are selfish, dishonest, hurtful, or disrespectful and they take no corrective action they are not preparing their child to live in the world which they will one day face.  The reason?  They hate their children.  That sounds extreme, but it is the reality.  The parent who loves their momentary comfort more than the difficulty of training their child to live a godly life simply loves themselves than their child.  

Monday, February 6, 2017

Protecting Your Life

He who guards his mouth preserves his life,
But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.
Proverbs 13:3

Do you remember when television stations used to go off air?  Once everything was said for the day the screen would go to a familiar pattern and that would be all that would be broadcast for a few hours at least.  In reading and re-reading through the Proverbs each month I am always struck at how many of them are about the spoken word.  They are a special caution to our modern time which almost never knows silence.  This lack of silence seems to infect our conversations and time with others as well.  Rather than allowing a quiet and understanding silence we feel compelled to fill the air with any talk, regardless of how empty, awful or destructive those words may be.  The speech pattern “awkward silence” has become very common phrase in our regular speech, so common that any silence is viewed as being awkward.  Becoming comfortable with silence in our private life may be exactly what is needed to become comfortable with silence in our social life, and that comfort with silence may be life-saving, in the right situation.  

Monday, January 23, 2017

Satisfied with Words

A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of His mouth,
And the recompense of a man’s hands will be rendered to him.
Proverbs 12:14

The New Age Movement has made a great deal of the idea of “Creative Visualization”, sometimes this is put forward as “The Laws of Attraction”, but the idea is about the same.  The idea of thinking about something and then constantly placing it before you allows you to shape your own reality is a sort of hocus pocus take on a simple concept that God has already put into place.

Once we put the mystical and magical aside we see that the concept of reaping what we sow is very clear in Scripture and is clear in our daily lives.  The words a person speaks absolutely dictates much of the flow of the life they will live.  People whose speech is offensive, mean spirited, or abusive find themselves lonely – because who wants to be around that non-sense?  The person whose speech is negative, self-pitying and defensive will also find himself alone and dissatisfied with their lives.  A person whose speech is honest, uplifting and kind will be satisfied by the words of their mouths.  This is not some strange new-age law of the universe – it is simple cause and effect!

The Peak of God's Creation

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
But she who causes shame is like rottenness to the bones.
Proverbs 12:4

Modern American culture is having some real issues understanding ideas like gender identity and an even greater problem in dealing with the Biblical concept of marriage.  It is important that we realize two important things. First, that both gender and marriage are God’s creations (seen in Genesis 1-2).  Second, that men and women are created in an equal standing before God to serve and honor one another.  The first fact reminds us that we cannot change the rules of God’s world without disastrous effects.  The second fact reminds us that our differences serve a vital purpose in our calling and place in this world.

Once this is understood the relationship between the sexes can finally flower.  The husband values and glories in the wonderful gift of his wife.  This is made even more plain in Proverbs 31, but the reality is that a wife has the power to bring success or destruction to her household.  To build up her household, or to destroy the household.  All of this potential greatness placed in the pinnacle of God’s amazing creative work – the woman.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Really Rich

The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.
Proverbs 11:25

There is a decided trend in Scripture that simply cannot be denied: generosity has great results.  This proverb is by no means a promise that every generous person will become financially wealthy – that is not the nature of the proverbs.  It is an observation that those who are generous tend to see the good results of their kind-hearted generosity.  Generosity comes in many forms.  Monetary generosity is the most commonly considered – but there is so much more to be said on the topic.  It can be far more difficult to find a person who is generous with their time.  Even among those who are generous with their time even fewer have a truly generous and caring spirit that is attentive to the spiritual and emotional needs of others.  Investment in these areas brings real riches.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Knee-Jerk Emnity

He who is devoid of wisdom despises His neighbor,
But a man of understanding holds his peace.
Proverbs 11:12

It is easy to segment out our intellect from our emotions.  Yet godly wisdom is not simply a cold set of good moves on a two-dimensional game board.  Walking in godly wisdom effects the whole person, as does a lack thereof.  A lack of godly wisdom – that is a lack of understanding of Who God is and who we are in relationship to Him and to others – brings us to a place of hating even those who are closest to us.  It brings us to the point of building large walls of enmity between those for whom we are meant to be the most loving.  Wisdom is characterized here by the picture of a man holding his tongue, not giving vent to the knee-jerk reaction of the negative feelings and malevolent thoughts towards others.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Currency of Real Righteousness

Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
But righteousness delivers from death.
Proverbs 11:4

Money is constantly equated with power.  With money one can buy many fabulous and exciting things.  Yet the abilities of money reach definite and distinct limits.  Money can buy entertainment and fun, but not contentment and joy.  Money can provide decided legal and social advantage here on Earth, but not before the One who will judge the Earth.  The currency with the Lord deals in is not our dirty little slips of paper – but righteousness.  This brings us to the ultimate and dire need of every human alive.  We do not have the righteousness which we need to stand before the perfect and almighty judge.  This is the righteousness which God has provided for any who would place their faith in Jesus Christ.  It is HIS righteousness – given to us by the person and work of His Son– by which we may stand before Him. There is no other righteousness, nor any other amount of riches, nor any amount of influence or power that provide peace with the righteous God of Heaven and Earth.