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Posts tagged ‘Bible Study’

Bible Reading Plan – Read the Bible in a Year.


Here’s How it Works

  • 1. Register or Login, so we can show you a customized Bible reading progress tracking chart.
  • 2. Choose a reading plan. Currently, we offer the following Bible reading plans:
    • 71 Days in Isaiah – Carefully work your way through Isaiah in 71 days to experience the full impact of the prophet’s words.
    • Book Order – Read from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 in the order in which the books of the Bible are arranged.
    • Chronological – Read the Bible in the order that the events happened.
    • Chronological New Testament – In only 3 months you can read the New Testament in the order that the events happened.
    • Classic – Read 3 passages each day, starting with Genesis, Psalms, and Luke. From the original Bible Study Tools reading plan.
    • Daily Gospel – This plan focuses on the record of the life of Christ. You’ll read through all four gospels in 45 days.
    • Daily Psalm – Read one Psalm per day for a spiritual boost
    • Daily Wisdom – Find wisdom each day as you read straight through the Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Solomon in 60 days.
    • New Testament – Read straight through the New Testament in 90 days.
    • Ninety-Day Challenge – Read the Bible all the way through in only 90 days. It’s a challenge well worth taking.
    • Old Testament and New Testament – Read one passage from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament each day.
    • One-Year Immersion Plan – With this immersive plan, you’ll read the Old Testament once and the New Testament three times each year.
    • Prof. Horner’s Reading System – A unique and challenging system where you read 10 chapters a day.
    • Stay-on-Track Plan – If you have trouble staying on track, this one-year plan will help. There are readings only on the weekdays, with weekends free to catch up or get ahead.
    • The Busy-Life Plan – If your life is busy, this plan will help you get through the Bible at a pace that works for you. You’ll read a short selection each day and complete the Bible in two years.
    • The Christmas Bible Reading Plan – Designed for personal or family reading times, these 25 New Testament readings highlight the birth of Jesus and the purpose for His coming. Related Old Testament passages are also featured daily.
    • Thematic – This Bible reading schedule is thematic or connective in nature. The goal is to make as many associations as possible between the different parts of Scripture while still reading individual books of the Bible from start to finish.
  • 3. Choose your Bible reading plan start date and preferred Bible translation.
  • 4. Start your daily Bible reading plan!
  • 5. Record your Bible reading progress. Complete your assigned Bible reading each day. Then click the “Finished Reading” button at the top or bottom of the Bible in a Year reading page to record your completion.

8 Keys to Defeating Sexual Sin.


young couple
(© Pkripper503/ StockFreeImages)

When I agreed to write about sexual immorality in thebody of Christ, I thought pulling the information together would be an easy task. As a pastor, counselor, speaker and public health educator, I often address this topic. But as I began to wrestle with the many perspectives from which I could approach the issue, I almost lost myself in a crippling hodgepodge of psychology, sociology and theology.

Finally, I decided that the best approach was the biblical approach. After all, God‘s perspective, clearly revealed in His Word, is the only perspective that really matters.

The Bible makes four simple declarations about human sexuality:

1. God created our sexuality, and it is beautiful (see Gen. 1:26-28; 2:24-25).

2. Sex within the marriage covenant is holy and pure (see Heb. 13:4).

3. Sex outside the marriage covenant is sin (see 1 Cor. 6:9).

4. Sexual relations with the same sex is an abomination (see Lev. 18:22).

Many nonbelievers would probably reject these statements as trivial, outdated, homophobic, narrow-minded, judgmental, accusatory and discriminatory. Unfortunately, judging from their lifestyles, many Christians do too.

I’m not writing to nonbelievers. I’m writing as a Christian to Christians from a Christian perspective.

I wish sexual immorality were a problem outside the church only. But it’s not. It’s a big problem inside the church, also, among Christians and Christian leaders.

Often when I’ve taught about sexuality in church meetings, I’ve been shocked by the concerns that were expressed to me privately. Take my word for it: Every form of sexual addiction, perversion and practice is alive and well among believers, and it stretches from the pulpit to the vestibule of the church and everywhere in between.

The issues, problems and consequences of carnality and sexual immorality are recorded in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. God has given us clear guidelines in His Word. So why are so many believers today involved in sexual sin?

Let me put it bluntly: The reason is that too many of us are refusing to yield totally to the Holy Spirit. We declare with our mouths that we love Jesus; we say we will follow Him wherever He leads us.

But our actions indicate otherwise. Our actions say, “I love you, Jesus, almost as much as I love myself; and I will follow you all the way until I get to the fork in the road where I make the choice to satisfy my own carnal desires. I will believe your Word up to the point at which it disagrees with the secular perspective that explains my behavior. Any variance from that perspective means Your Word is outdated and is not for today.”

How did we get to this place? How did the body of Christ reach the state in which sexual sins are not only overlooked by many Christian leaders but are being openly committed by the keepers of the flame? Blatant immorality, drunkenness, womanizing and perversion are running rampant and unchecked in too many assemblies!

Strong words, you say? Yes, these are very strong words. But strong words are what are needed to rout the “strongman” of immorality. The sins of fornication, adultery, homosexuality and perversion have become deeply rooted in the church and are tolerated by too many of us.

Part of the problem is that we’ve believed the lie that church leaders are “faultless.” That lie has caused many of us to close our eyes to the sexual sins in which some leaders have engaged while serving as our spiritual shepherds. Those “private Bible studies” and late night “counseling sessions” with single folks, unhappy spouses and “sick” members have gone unchallenged and unrebuked by a godly membership.

Now mistresses have the audacity to sit on the front row in the church. Homosexual lovers don’t hesitate to share the platform during praise and worship. Unmarried couples who sleep together Saturday night have no qualms about sitting in church together Sunday morning.

I am aware that I sound angry. I am angry! I’m tired of seeing strong young men and women in the church devastated by the ravages of AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases and dysfunctional lifestyles as a result of sexual immorality. It hurts to see the hopes and promises of beautiful teen-agers and young women dashed when they discover that they’re pregnant and the father has disappeared or has announced to the world that the child is not his baby because the pregnant female “sleeps around.”

Who will comfort the young child who has been fondled by a priest, a pastor or a trustee of the church in the church? Who will help rebuild the shattered emotions of the pastor’s wife after she has discovered her husband’s infidelity with the church secretary or the Sunday school teacher, or worse yet, one of the young men in the choir? Who will sound the clarion call to sanctification and holiness in this age of promiscuity and rank immorality?

Needless to say, we need a revival. The principles of sanctification and holiness need to be revived at the altar. We must stop petting folks who want to stay in their sins. We must herald the truth of God’s Word. We must face sexuality immorality squarely in the face and declare holy war on our carnal nature.

God has given us plain and simple instructions throughout the Bible such as those found in Galatians 5:16: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (NKJV). We need to study the Bible and let the Word of God speak to us. We must be willing to hear and to repent of the sin that God reveals in our lives through His Word. After all, we serve a loving and gracious God who is waiting and willing to forgive us, sanctify us and restore us.

The strongman of immorality can and must be overcome in our lives and in our churches. There are specific things we can do to ensure his defeat.

1. Flee temptation. If you are struggling to overcome sexual sin, it is your responsibility to flee temptation. Be wise. Avoid situations that would contribute to sexual arousal. For example, if you are dating, don’t allow your date to sexually arouse you with kisses, touches or any other kind of stimulation.

If soft music turns you on, put on some hymns or a loud Kirk Franklin album. Play a marching band if you must!

More importantly, associate with those who have the same attitude about sexual purity that you do. I know it can be difficult to track them down, but there are saved brothers and sisters out there somewhere. Entreat the Holy Spirit to help you find them.

2. Ask for help. If you need special help, seek out a Christian therapist or physician who is trained in handling the behavioral problems and addictions that have a stranglehold on your life. All healing comes from the Lord, but not everyone is able to get free from behavioral problems without assistance.

3. Take the risks seriously. If you know what is right but are choosing to live in willful disobedience, I ask: Is it worth the risk? As a Christian participating in a sexually immoral lifestyle, you risk death from incurable, sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS, hepatitis and more. You risk losing your mate and your family because of your unfaithfulness. You risk losing your self-esteem and the respect of your peers and neighbors. You risk devastating your business or profession, especially if you are in ministry. Worst of all, you risk your fellowship with the Lord.

4. Make a commitment. It doesn’t matter whether the behavior you’re involved in is “trendy” or not. As a Christian, you are a “slave of righteousness,” and your call is to crucify the lusts of the flesh. It is possible to live holy if you desire to do so. Commit yourself to staying before the Lord on a daily basis and avoiding anything that would contribute to your taste for immoral pleasures or gratification outside of marriage.

5. Confront unfaithfulness. If you are a Christian wife and your husband has been unfaithful, ask yourself: Is your spouse truly repentant, and will he remain faithful after repentance? Is the unfaithfulness a continuous practice, or was it just one breach of fidelity? Is your spouse a professing Christian, or does he just go to church on Sunday? Is he a Spirit-filled man whom Satan tripped up but who is now truly repentant?

Only you can answer these questions. Forgiveness is possible–and biblical–but the Bible also says that you are not obligated to remain with an unfaithful mate. If you choose to stay with him, you must realize that your husband’s unfaithfulness could well mean your early demise from undetected disease. Given the severity of the sexual diseases among us, I strongly suggest a period of sexual abstinence and then the use of protection at all times, even after lab reports have determined that your mate is disease-free.

Even if your husband is a pastor or church leader, do not hesitate to confront him head-on about his infidelity and report it to the other church authorities. Women must stop shielding and hiding such behavior. Many are suffering physical abuse and threats from these “spiritual leaders” because they are too afraid or too embarrassed to expose them.

Stop being a punching bag for these unregenerate heathen! The Word tells us that a man is worse than an infidel if he neglects his family (see 1 Tim. 5:8). Seek legal help to get the support you need to maintain your family and yourself. There are laws on the books that address adultery!

6. Don’t accept excuses. If you are a member of a congregation and discover that one of your leaders is being sexually immoral, you have a responsibility to bring it to the attention of the church leadership. This action must not be based on hearsay or gossip. But if you know without a doubt, then it is your duty as a Christian to pull the covers off this festering boil that affects the whole body of Christ.

There are no excuses. We do things because we want to do them, and your pastor or leader is no exception. Besides, how can you sit under the leadership of a hypocrite who thumbs his nose at God’s state of holy matrimony?

Yes, it takes courage to uncover sin, but it must be done–even if you are rejected by the leadership. Even if you’re called a liar! Just pick up your marbles and move to another ministry after you have sought God’s face. You don’t want to find that you’ve run from the frying pan into the fire.

7. Confess your sin. If you are a Christian leader, pastor or minister involved in sexual immorality, you need to confess your sin and seek serious counseling–both psychological and spiritual. I personally believe you need to be relieved of your position during this process. You cannot continue on as though nothing has happened. There needs to be public repentance and restoration before you mount the pulpit again or accept any kind of leadership position.

8. Stand up for holiness. To all believers and ministers of the gospel, I say: Wake up! We need to combine forces to lead a strong, faith-based, biblical attack on the scourge of sexual immorality that has become epidemic in our congregations.

It is time to stand up for Jesus. It is time to rebuild the walls of holiness and sexual purity in the church so that we are no longer a reproach to the world. In the words of Nehemiah 2:8: “Let us rise up and build!”

 


Judy Ann Fisher is the founderof the Full Gospel Church of the Lord’s Missions International in Washington, D.C. She is a gifted businesswoman, she is owner of several companies and has traveled extensively as a motivator, lecturer and presenter of her Human Sexuality series.

Phil Robertson Says He Won’t ‘Give or Back Off’ in Wake of Controversy.


Phil Robertson
Phil Robertson has spoken publicly for the first time since A&E indefinitely suspended him from the hit reality seriesDuck Dynasty‘ last week. (Courtesy of duckcommander.com)

Phil Robertson has spoken publicly for the first time since A&E indefinitely suspended him from the hit reality series Duck Dynasty last week following controversial statements he made.

The patriarch of the Robertson family found himself embroiled in controversy when an interview he did with GQ magazine was published Wednesday, in which he made remarks about homosexuality. On Thursday A&E announced his suspension.

When asked what is sinful, the 67-year-old answered, “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there—bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”

Paraphrasing 1 Corinthians, he said, “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

On Sunday during a 45-minute Bible study class he leads at his church in West Monroe, La., Robertson responded to the controversy.

“I love all men and women. I am a lover of humanity, not a hater,” the Duck Commander company founder said at the class at White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ, which he allowed a Daily Mail reporterto attend.

“I am just reading what was written over 2,000 years ago,” he explained. “Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom. All I did was quote from the Scriptures, but they just didn’t know it. Whether I said it, or they read it, what’s the difference? The sins are the same, humans haven’t changed.”

Robertson closed the Bible study with a prayer, which included the words, “I will not give or back off from my path because You conquered death, Father, so we are not worried about all the repercussions.”

The future of Duck Dynasty, which just finished shooting its fifth season, is unclear.

“While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible,” the Robertson family said in a statement released late Thursday night. “We have had a successful working relationship with A&E, but as a family we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm.”

Other networks that have offered to run Duck Dynasty include Daystar, the Hunt Channel and the Pursuit Channel, but the Robertsons’ contract with A&E reportedly says the family couldn’t do another show for a certain period of time.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Hope for a Second Marriage: Lessons for the Marital ‘Tweener’.


God indeed blesses second marriages.

God indeed blesses second marriages. (Ambro/Free Digital Photos)

We’re big fans of marriage, even second marriages. Why? Although God despises divorce, He loves family and is more concerned about our character.

He uses tests, trials and, yes, even divorce. Why? It’s because He likes to redeem life from death.

If you’re married, keep it that way. Love your spouse like Christ loved the church, sacrificing everything for her. However, should the divorce bug bite, there is still hope for a second go around.

If you’re single, keep it that way until you are ready. When is that? Hopefully soon. But keep reading; you have something to gain from this lesson as well.

Although the statistics are discouraging for second marriages—and even worse for third marriages—marital bliss is possible if done God’s way. The time before or between marriages can provide opportunity to rediscover yourself, heal from the past and prepare for your true love of your life.

For divorced God’s men—or “marital ‘tweeners”—I want to encourage you to use this time wisely and prepare for the next phase in life, because if you remarry, you are in for an even wilder ride than the first.

So, why are second marriage statistics so discouraging? Because too often guys rebound, towing their character issues right into the next relationship. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you repeat the problem, and when you hit the first iceberg, you sink like the Titanic. Unfortunately, most men fear facing themselves in a mirror, admitting mistakes and growing in maturity as godly men. Pride gets in the way.

In Proverbs 16:18, the Bible succinctly explains the danger of pride: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Here are some practical steps to prepare marital ‘tweeners for marriage rebirth, as well as single men who desire to be yoked.

1. Focus on Jesus. He is your friend and He promises to never stop loving you or leave you. The more you grow close to God, the greater man you will be. Besides, women are attracted to godly men who are solid as a rock. If you’re not already in a small group, get in one now! Go to Bible studies. Get involved in church. Journal your journey with Christ. Surround yourself with safe men and family. Don’t become idle. Pray about everything without ceasing.

2. Focus on your kids. If you have children from the previous marriage, divorce is one of the biggest life-changing events in their lives. I recommend you and your spouse agree to putting the children’s well-being as a top value. Avoid putting them in “he said, she said” situations, and agree to communicate to the kids as one. One message; two messengers. Then show respect to their mother in all situations. Your children are watching, and this isn’t the time for you to act like one.

3. Keep it in your pants. For most men, particularly ‘tweeners, sexual temptation can lure you into relationships too early, open the porn gate from hell or get you into trouble. This is not the time to experiment with your sex life. God’s way is to save sex for marriage, and He has good reason for it.

4. Be patient. Don’t rush into another relationship. Instead, give yourself some time to sort things out and let the divorce repercussions settle. Clearly identify what you are looking for in a mate so you can rule out any posers.

5. Work on your character. Traits like integrity, trust, communication, overcoming adversity, parenting, keeping priorities and keeping your word are essential to successful marriages.

6. Work on your health. Establish a goal, and go for it. Lose weight. Hike a mountain. Get stronger. You will end up looking and feeling great! And consider working on your mental health. There’s no shame in getting counseling or therapy for any links missing in your chain. And shore up your financial health. Divorce can devastate credit, cash, assets and retirement savings. So use this time to get your feet back firmly on the ground.

A loving marriage is something to aspire to. It’s one of the most incredible gifts God has given to us. But you have to be ready.

For the original article, visit everymanministries.com.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

EVERY MAN MINISTRIES

Hope for a Second Marriage: Lessons for the Marital ‘Tweener’.


God indeed blesses second marriages.
God indeed blesses second marriages. (Ambro/Free Digital Photos)

We’re big fans of marriage, even second marriages. Why? Although God despises divorce, He loves family and is more concerned about our character.

He uses tests, trials and, yes, even divorce. Why? It’s because He likes to redeem life from death.

If you’re married, keep it that way. Love your spouse like Christ loved the church, sacrificing everything for her. However, should the divorce bug bite, there is still hope for a second go around.

If you’re single, keep it that way until you are ready. When is that? Hopefully soon. But keep reading; you have something to gain from this lesson as well.

Although the statistics are discouraging for second marriages—and even worse for third marriages—marital bliss is possible if done God’s way. The time before or between marriages can provide opportunity to rediscover yourself, heal from the past and prepare for your true love of your life.

For divorced God’s men—or “marital ‘tweeners”—I want to encourage you to use this time wisely and prepare for the next phase in life, because if you remarry, you are in for an even wilder ride than the first.

So, why are second marriage statistics so discouraging? Because too often guys rebound, towing their character issues right into the next relationship. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you repeat the problem, and when you hit the first iceberg, you sink like the Titanic. Unfortunately, most men fear facing themselves in a mirror, admitting mistakes and growing in maturity as godly men. Pride gets in the way.

In Proverbs 16:18, the Bible succinctly explains the danger of pride: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Here are some practical steps to prepare marital ‘tweeners for marriage rebirth, as well as single men who desire to be yoked.

1. Focus on Jesus. He is your friend and He promises to never stop loving you or leave you. The more you grow close to God, the greater man you will be. Besides, women are attracted to godly men who are solid as a rock. If you’re not already in a small group, get in one now! Go to Bible studies. Get involved in church. Journal your journey with Christ. Surround yourself with safe men and family. Don’t become idle. Pray about everything without ceasing.

2. Focus on your kids. If you have children from the previous marriage, divorce is one of the biggest life-changing events in their lives. I recommend you and your spouse agree to putting the children’s well-being as a top value. Avoid putting them in “he said, she said” situations, and agree to communicate to the kids as one. One message; two messengers. Then show respect to their mother in all situations. Your children are watching, and this isn’t the time for you to act like one.

3. Keep it in your pants. For most men, particularly ‘tweeners, sexual temptation can lure you into relationships too early, open the porn gate from hell or get you into trouble. This is not the time to experiment with your sex life. God’s way is to save sex for marriage, and He has good reason for it.

4. Be patient. Don’t rush into another relationship. Instead, give yourself some time to sort things out and let the divorce repercussions settle. Clearly identify what you are looking for in a mate so you can rule out any posers.

5. Work on your character. Traits like integrity, trust, communication, overcoming adversity, parenting, keeping priorities and keeping your word are essential to successful marriages.

6. Work on your health. Establish a goal, and go for it. Lose weight. Hike a mountain. Get stronger. You will end up looking and feeling great! And consider working on your mental health. There’s no shame in getting counseling or therapy for any links missing in your chain. And shore up your financial health. Divorce can devastate credit, cash, assets and retirement savings. So use this time to get your feet back firmly on the ground.

A loving marriage is something to aspire to. It’s one of the most incredible gifts God has given to us. But you have to be ready.

For the original article, visit everymanministries.com.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ NEW MAN.

Visions of Christmas: Seeing Green.


But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 3:18

Recommended Reading
2 Thessalonians 1:3 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Thessalonians%201:3&version=NKJV )

Chlorophyll,” a green pigment, comes from two Greek words that mean “green” and “leaf.” Chlorophyll allows for photosynthesis to take place — a plant’s ability to absorb energy from light and use that energy to cause growth.

Watch This Week’s TV Broadcast ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/television.aspx?tid=email_watchedevo )

If we had to pick a color for Christmas, it might be green because of all the greenery we see — Christmas trees, holly, mistletoe, and evergreen garlands gracing banisters and mantels. All that greenery is there because of chlorophyll — the energy-producing growth factor in plants. So when we decorate with greenery this Christmas it can remind us to ask, “How can I grow in Christ this Christmas season? What can be my spiritual chlorophyll?” No one needs reminding of how busy Christmas can be, crowding out quiet time for prayer and Bible study. Assuming we maintain those disciplines, what can we do to reach higher and farther — to actually grow? Consider looking for opportunities to do what Christ came into the world to do: to serve others in love (Mark 10:45).

Every time we deny ourselves in order to serve someone else, we grow in Christ. Make that a goal this Christmas.

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Galatians 4-Ephesians 3

By David Jeremiah.

Genesis Project Transforming Strip Club Into Sanctuary.


A Hunt Club
Aaron Bekkela persuaded an Assemblies of God congregation in Fort Collins, Colo., to buy A Hunt Club’s building and property in the fall of 2013.

When your family owns a strip club and one of your young topless dance employees tells you that she has a message from her mother, it’s probably not one that sings your praises.

Aaron Bekkela was in that spot nearly 20 years ago, helping his dad run a topless bar in Fort Collins, Colo., home to Colorado State University.

He had just finished working the first shift at A Hunt Club and was wrapping up some paperwork when one of the bar’s dancers appeared outside Bekkela’s office door.

“I promised my mom to tell you that she and her friends are praying for you,” he recalls her saying.

While talk of Christianity was considered taboo and mocked in the Bekkela family, Aaron thanked the dancer’s mother, mentally dismissing interest in her church.

As a strip club owner, Bekkela had no business inside a church—unless it was a business deal with the leadership, he would later discover.

In his 20s at the time, Bekkela made good money at the club as the youngest of seven children, and he enjoyed the freedom to go on hunting trips with his brothers whenever he wanted. The smell of a locker room, perfume, cigarettes and booze had been with him since age 12.

Bekkela’s comfort with working at a strip club clashed with the opinions of others who were, in his words, “very religious but anything but Christian.” He suspected that the praying mother was like others he’d met.

His own mother, who had turned to religion during Bekkela’s senior year in high school, announced plans to divorce her husband, who was running the bar. After the marriage ended, Bekkela noticed that his mother’s faith had produced positive changes in her.

After his father died in 2009, Bekkela and a brother took over the bar and, a short time later, another brother gave Bekkela a Bible. About the same time, Bekkela and his wife, Stacy, received fliers from a local church, inviting first-time visitors.

By the time the second flier arrived at the Bekkela’s comfortable hillside home, Aaron had read some of his new Bible, and he admitted interest in the church’s invitation to visit.

“What? Am I going to ignite in the seat?” he asked Stacy.

When fire and brimstone didn’t rain down on Bekkela’s head, he warmed further to the idea of visiting the church again. Three pastors welcomed Bekkela, one talking with him as though his business was on the up and up. Another invited Bekkela to a Bible study, no questions asked. The reception gradually shattered Bekkela’s earlier negative perceptions resulting from “bump-ins” with religious people.

Today, the 43-year-old Bekkela repeats the praying mother’s words she offered 15 years ago when talking about his journey from the strip club into church and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as how he persuaded an Assemblies of God congregation in Fort Collins to buy A Hunt Club’s building and property in the fall of 2013.

As a new believer ashamed, broken and humiliated by his past, Bekkela managed to transfer sole ownership of the strip club to his brother while remaining the legal owner of the property in 2009. Still he wanted out completely so that he could begin anew, be baptized in water and enroll in a Christian university.

Thinking the building and land suitable for a church, Bekkela approached leaders of several area churches, offering to sell them A Hunt Club’s property.

“I got a lot of ‘That’s good’ and ‘We’ll pray for you,'” Bekkela says. “I couldn’t help [but] believe there was one out there, or a group of churches that could get it done.”

In 2010, Bekkela approached, unbeknownst to him, the home church of the praying mother he’d learned about years ago. His offer remained the same: sell A Hunt Club’s building and land to the church.

“It was really touching to me to see how God was so real in Aaron,” says Dary Northrop, senior pastor at Timberline Church. “He was so tenderhearted, so broken by all this.”

Northrop and another Timberline leader, Executive Pastor Rob Cowles, were moved by Bekkela’s persistence in trying to sell the land and building to a church. When the two of them met Bekkela at the club in the first half of 2013 to discuss his aim to sell the bar, Cowles surprised himself with what he told Northrop and Bekkela.

“I want to do this, and I have to lead it,” Cowles said.

That declaration stirred Northrop and the church’s membership to buy the strip club in late 2013 and grant Cowles leadership of the Genesis Project church plant when it opens in mid-2014.

“The thing I see about this building is it’s a place where a lot of dreams died and a place where we can seem them be reborn,” Cowles says.

Like the club destroyed the lives of many patrons and some dancers, Cowles believes the Genesis Project is a metaphor for new beginnings in the lives of people.

“Our mission is to create space for people to discover new beginnings in Jesus, who makes all things new. We want to serve the most underserved, broken people, the ones who don’t ‘do church,'” Cowles says.

Besides a 200-seat worship center, the 7,200-square-foot building will house a coffee shop and a commercial kitchen, where professional chefs will provide meals for those who need them and train people for culinary careers.

The Genesis Project shares the DNA of another church by the same name in Ogden, Utah. Both churches seek to meet emotional, physical and spiritual needs. In Fort Collins, the Genesis Project will provide classroom space for instruction in English as a second language. A ministry area for children is also envisioned.

The Ogden church gave the Genesis Project $5,000 to support the remodel and future operating expenses of the building, and another church in Loveland, Colo.—Resurrection Fellowship—offered $13,600 for startup costs. The latter was one of the churches Bekkela approached about purchasing the the strip club.

“When I heard about this, I knew right away this story was bigger than one church,” says Senior Pastor Jonathan Wiggins. “This is a kingdom story.”

“The conversion of a strip club into a church devoted to restoring families is something every believer should celebrate,” says Wiggins, who, in 2011, befriended a controversial artist much like area pastors and churches have supported Bekkela.

“We felt compelled to support this kingdom initiative and look forward to the countless testimonies that will result,” Wiggins says.

Bekkela, who is an internship and a couple classes away from a master’s degree in biblical counseling from Colorado Christian University, believes in the Genesis Project’s mission to restore broken lives.

“When you realize that you’ve poisoned a community, it’s hard to accept,” Bekkela says. “I know that God has paid my debt, but I still feel like I owe a debt.”

Bekkela will get a chance to repay that debt by investing in the lives of people his club destroyed when the Genesis Project opens. When Bekkela found the woman who invested in him through prayer nearly 20 years ago, he offered her his heartfelt thanks.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

STEVE REES

Exercising Your Power of Choice.


 

Does man have a free will? This question is one of the most frequently asked questions of theology. At times, it is not voiced as a question but as an objection to the whole idea of a sovereign God.

At the heart of the problem is the definition of free will. What are we saying when we assert that man has a free will? Stated briefly, free will simply means that man has the ability to choose what he wants. Such ability requires the presence of a mind, a will, and a desire. If these faculties are present and functioning in a man, that man has a free will.

Free will does not mean that man can choose to do anything he pleases and necessarily succeed. We may choose to fly without the aid of mechanical devices. We can fall through the air by ourselves, but we cannot fly through it. We lack the necessary natural equipment (in this case, wings) to fly. This does not mean, however, that we are not free. It does mean that our “freedom” is limited by our natural physical limitations. My will may be outvoted by the will of a majority or by some higher power. Such conflicting power does not eliminate my freedom but may surely impose limits on it.

One of the most important limits on my freedom is myself. If we examine the workings of the will closely we run into a point of irony that is often overlooked in discussions about free will. The point is this: Not only may I choose what I want, I must choose what I want if my choice is really to be free. Choice is made according to desire. Without desire there could be no free choice—certainly no moral choice.

Coram Deo: Living in the Presence of God

God gave you a free will to choose. You choose according to your desires. Will your present desires lead to wise choices for the future?

For Further Study

Deuteronomy 30:19“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.”

Joshua 24:15: “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve theLord.”

Psalm 25:12: “Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.” 

The mission, passion and purpose of Ligonier Ministries and Dr. R.C. Sproul is to help people grow in their knowledge of God and His holiness. For more information, please visit www.ligonier.orgor call them at 800-435-4343.
© R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved.


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Five Keys to Intentional Discipleship.


Melissa Kruger, Author, Women’s Ministry Director

Five Keys to Intentional DiscipleshipWhen I was a freshman at UNC-Chapel Hill, my campus staff worker for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship approached me, asking if I would like to meet on a weekly basis over the course of the semester.  Over the next three years, Deanne mentored me on a variety of topics from relationships to ministry to Bible study. Her example of being an intentional discipler has been invaluable to me. As I reflect back on our times together, five important principles emerge.As you grasp the importance of being intentional about the way you pursue Christ and help others to do the same, consider these principles before you begin a structured type of mentoring relationship. These should help to set expectations and provide a shared vision for your time together.

Principle #1:  Set a scheduled meeting time and location.

When setting up a more formal type of mentoring relationship, it is important to get your calendars out and find a regular time to meet that works for you both.  When I was in college, Deanne and I met every week at the same pizza place on campus.  Our waiter, Joey, knew that we would be there every Tuesday and always greeted us with a welcoming smile.  The consistency of our relationship allowed us to build trust and awareness of what was going on in each other’s lives.

Outside of college, most of us will have difficulty meeting on a weekly basis.  I usually try to meet with the women I mentor once a month.  If time permits, every other week would be a good option for a regularly scheduled meeting.  If possible, set a regular day and time of the month (e.g. the second Tuesday of each month or every other Wednesday).  The more consistent the meeting time and location, the more likely the relationship will have opportunity to grow.

Principle #2:  Plan the duration of time you will meet together.

When Deanne first approached me about mentoring, she asked if we could meet weekly for the fall semester.   She wisely understood that mentoring relationships are not always a good fit and that time commitments often change for a variety of reasons.  Setting a fixed duration for our meeting time provided both of us the opportunity to reevaluate at the end of the semester.  I understood that she might need to invest her time elsewhere and she realized that my school schedule might change so that I could no longer meet at our regular time.  Thankfully, we were able to continue our relationship over the course of three years.  Just before my senior year of college she got married and moved to a new city, so we could no longer meet on a regular basis.

I usually counsel women to plan to meet once a month over the course of a year or every other week for six months.  If the relationship is going well, it is easy to extend the time together for another six months or year.  However, if schedules change or the mentoring is not proving beneficial, this provides a natural end to a regular meeting time. It does not mean that the relationship ends, just that the consistency of times together may decrease.  I find this principle to be one of the most important to discuss early on, in order to prevent hurt feelings or unrealized expectations.

Principle #3:  Plan what you will study.

It is also important to clarify what you will do in your time together so that both parties are prepared.  You may read a chapter of a particular book or discuss certain questions for accountability.  I recommend having something to help guide your conversations.  It is quite easy to simply “catch up” and discuss life circumstances without every truly going deeper and knowing God in more intimate ways. In my next article, I will discuss some keys to well-balanced discipleship that will hopefully provide helpful direction as you consider what to study in your time together.

Principle #4:  Initiate social times together.

Deanne and I met regularly for our meetings, but we also enjoyed social times together outside of our Tuesday lunches.  I saw her each week at our large group meeting and she would invite me to hang out with her while stuffing support envelopes or to go to see a movie together.  These were times when we built our friendship informally that blessed our more intentional times together.

If you are only meeting once a month and rarely see one another outside of your time together, it may prove difficult to develop an open and honest relationship that is productive for spiritual growth.  It is important to find informal times when the two of you can enjoy each other’s company.  It might be riding together to a church retreat, volunteering on the same committee, enjoying a home-cooked meal, or walking together one morning.  Finding ways to spend time with one another will build the relationship in encouraging ways.

Principle #5:  Pray for one another.

I find prayer to be one of the most important aspects of any mentoring relationship.  Each time you meet together, make sure to each share ways you can pray for one another.  It is helpful for the mentor to share his or her prayer requests, as well as the mentee.  Understanding that matureChristians still struggle and have prayer needs is an important lesson for those they are mentoring.  It allows the younger believer to enter into and hear the struggles of their mentor.  Being open and honest before the person you mentor may be the very thing she needs to allow her to open up with you in deeper ways.

One of the most intimidating things about entering into a mentoring relationship is the fear of failure.  Openly communicating about expectations and considering these principles can help to begin a relationship that will bless both participants.  This type of discipleship builds the church in powerful ways. Be encouraged – mentoring relationships are worth the time, energy, effort and thoughtfulness you put into them.
Melissa Kruger serves as Women’s Ministry Coordinator at Uptown Church in Charlotte, North Carolina and is the author of The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World (Christian Focus, 2012). Her husband Mike is the president of Reformed Theological Seminary, and they have three children. You can follow her on Twitter @MelissaBKruger.

3 Business Books All Pastors Should Read.


Would you recommend these three books to your fellow pastors? (Ambro/Free Digital Photos)

Pastors typically—and hopefully—spend much time in the Bible. That is good; Bible reading should be a high priority. Many pastors spend much time reading Christian books, particularly weighty books on theology and doctrine. That, too, is good and should be a priority for the pastor.

But should pastors read secular books? I do believe there are a number of secular books that would truly be good resources for the pastor. There are three business books I regularly encourage pastors to read. Those who lead our churches unfortunately have little leadership training. These three classics are incredible leadership resources for pastors to savor and read slowly.

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

This book has been around for almost half a century, and it is still powerfully relevant today. Drucker identifies five essentials necessary for leadership effectiveness:

  • Managing time
  • Choosing what to contribute to the organization
  • Knowing where and how to mobilize strength for best effect
  • Setting the right priorities
  • Knitting all of them together with effective decision-making

Every pastor could look at this book as a course in practical leadership training. Rarely are these topics taught in Bible colleges or seminaries.

Leading Change by John P. Kotter

Probably the best book on change leadership, this book has not lost any of its punch since it was first published in 1996.  Every pastor will lead a congregation to some type of change. Kotter offers an eight-step process for leading change in any organization, including a local congregation. This book became a precursor to other books on change and innovation.

Good to Great by Jim Collins

Though this book was published in 2001, it continues to be a best-seller today. Every chapter has valuable insights for the pastor, but the chapter on Level 5 Leadership is my favorite. Though Collins makes no claims of being a Christian, there is much about this book that has biblical themes throughout. A pastor will find this book invaluable for both organizational leadership as well as personal leadership development.

There are probably 25 business books I could recommend to pastors. But these three are the only ones in that genre that I read every year. And every time I read the books again, I learn something new.

I would love to hear what you think of these three books. I would also like to hear about any secular business or leadership books you would recommend for pastors.

Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

Written by Thom S. Rainer

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