Monday, April 5, 2021

Now Available: Book IV - Praiseworthy Devotional Series - Psalms 90-106

 Praiseworthy Devotional Guide - Book IV

For the past couple of years, the Lord has led me through the Psalms, paragraph by paragraph, in my daily quiet time with Him. Each day I've tried to post a reflection on Facebook of what I contemplated with Him and prayed about from the paragraph I read that day. This has culminated in a collection of about 500 entries. I'm taking those posts and compiling them into a free downloadable series of 5 devotional books that I'm calling my "Praiseworthy Devotional Series".  Feel free to download here and print them out if you want, use for your own devotional journey, as devotional starters in groups, or for Bible studies and sermon starters. Perhaps you'd like to copy the link to send to a friend. Please do. But also, please leave a comment if you find the resource useful. God bless you in your ongoing walk with Him through His word!


Monday, February 8, 2021

Now Available: Book III - Praiseworthy Devotional Series - Psalms 73-89

Praiseworthy Devotional Guide - Book III

For the past couple of years, the Lord has led me through the Psalms, paragraph by paragraph, in my daily quiet time with Him. Each day I've tried to post a reflection on Facebook of what I contemplated with Him and prayed about from the paragraph I read that day. This has culminated in a collection of about 500 entries. I'm taking those posts and compiling them into a free downloadable series of 5 devotional books that I'm calling my "Praiseworthy Devotional Series".  Feel free to download here and print them out if you want, use for your own devotional journey, as devotional starters in groups, or for Bible studies and sermon starters. Perhaps you'd like to copy the link to send to a friend. Please do. But also, please leave a comment if you find the resource useful. God bless you in your ongoing walk with Him through His word!


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Book II - Praiseworthy Devotional Series - Psalms 42-72

 



For the past couple of years, the Lord has led me through the Psalms, paragraph by paragraph, in my daily quiet time with Him. Each day I've tried to post a reflection on Facebook of what I contemplated with Him and prayed about from the paragraph I read that day. This has culminated in a collection of about 500 entries. I'm taking those posts and compiling them into a free downloadable series of 5 devotional books that I'm calling my "Praiseworthy Devotional Series".  Feel free to download here and print them out if you want, use for your own devotional journey, as devotional starters in groups, or for Bible studies and sermon starters. Perhaps you'd like to copy the link to send to a friend. Please do. But also, please leave a comment if you find the resource useful. God bless you in your ongoing walk with Him through His word!



Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Praiseworthy Devotional Series - Book 1

 


For the past couple of years, the Lord has led me through the Psalms, paragraph by paragraph, in my daily quiet time with Him. Each day I've tried to post a reflection on Facebook of what I contemplated with Him and prayed about from the paragraph I read that day. This has culminated in a collection of about 500 entries. I'm taking those posts and compiling them into a free downloadable series of 5 devotional books that I'm calling my "Praiseworthy Devotional Series".  Feel free to download here and print them out if you want, use for your own devotional journey, as devotional starters in groups, or for Bible studies and sermon starters. Perhaps you'd like to copy the link to send to a friend. Please do. But also, please leave a comment if you find the resource useful. God bless you in your ongoing walk with Him through His word!

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Bible Study for May 31: The Mission of Acceptance by Buck Burch (Reposted from the Christian Index)

Two friends talking in a park drinking coffee

Bible Studies for Life 
Romans 14:1-3, 13-19 

As a new missionary to China in the 1870s, Lottie Moon was met with taunts and mocking for her western clothes. But a decade later when she moved inland to Ping’tu, Shandong, she changed her American dress to a feminine Chinese jacket, a move to become more like those she wanted to reach.  

We are told that Lottie was elated to see an almost immediate cease in the taunting and an elevation of friendliness, even though her style-shift created controversy with other Americans. Her actions of accepting Chinese fashion led to an increased receptivity of her Gospel message. For Lottie Moon, being an incarnational witness meant carrying the Gospel in her American flesh while accepting the dress of her host culture. Sometimes our relationships with people require us to accept their preferences in order to share the Gospel, but that is both an opportunity and a responsibility. 

We have an Opportunity for Faith 
Romans 14:1-3  

In his letter to the Roman church, Paul talked about accepting diversity in traditions and cultures. Specifically, he addressed the issue of Jewish ceremonial traditions that had called Christian conscience into question. And the way we pass judgment about these things reveals the integrity of our own faith (Rom 14:1).  

For Paul, this was evident in the issue of carnivorous consumption versus veggie plates, especially as it related to repurposed ceremonial meats (see 1 Cor 8 and 10). A Jew might feel prohibited from consuming even slightly questionable dishes because he closely followed the Mosaic dietary code for conscience sake. Those non-Jewish ethnicities coming to Christ had been given singular instruction to avoid idol-purposed meats (Acts 15:29), so they might feel comfortable in their faith to consume what had not been explicitly labeled (Rom 14:3). 

But Paul said neither group should regard with contempt or judge the other’s salvation, which has nothing to do with food. Personal discipleship allows each person to answer for his own faith responses: “To his own master he stands or falls” (14:4). Granted, none of these were questions that Scripture had overt direction for non-Jews. They were gray areas of personal conscience. In truth, we can accept a differing opinion where the Bible gives no obvious primary instruction, and it is an opportunity to rejoice in the diversity within Christ’s body. 

We have a Responsibility to Remove Obstacles 
Romans 14:13-19 

Nobody likes to be judged. The best curative behavior to replace being judgmental is clearing out obstacles from a fellow Christian’s walk (Rom 14:13). The things that make a brother stumble, the things that hurt his conscience, should matter a great deal to me.  

The Mosaic code required fasting from certain foods and drink as pre-steps in order to prepare for repentance and for entering God’s presence. But Jesus injected God’s presence into His church with no preconditional physical manifestation other than public confession; the vilest of sinner was now invited to receive Jesus before making any external change. 

But even though we’re freed form dietary codes, we have a moral responsibility for every fellow Christian that now dictates what we consume. We don’t need to destroy each other’s conscience (14:15) over something as insignificant as what might be unclean in our diet (14:14). Instead, we should clear the street of our brother’s Christian walk, sweeping the most minute stumbling stone, a carefully gracious assignment for each day. 

For Paul, accepting a person’s weaker conscience was having the faith to welcome him where he was. For Lottie Moon, the simple gesture of accepting the Chinese wardrobe was also an incarnational expression of faith in her missions context. Perhaps the best thing we can do for a Christian brother is accept that his personal relationship with Jesus is just as important as our own, an opportunity to let our faith talk and the responsibility to make our faith walk. 

Bible Study for May 24: The cross and the yield sign by Buck Burch (Reposted from the Christian Index)

Yield sign sky clouds

Bible Studies for Life 
Philippians 2:1-5; 13-15 

On U.S. highways, an upside red triangle signifies the submissive action of yielding to another traffic flow. The signs are placed strategically by highway architects to make the roads safer to travel. In a sense, that’s what the cross does in our Christian relationships: it alters the flow of traffic. 

Architecture of submission  
Philippians 2:1-2 

One architectural feat where I-285 and I-85 join in Atlanta in a cloverleaf design has been named America’s number one highway bottleneck. The fascinating feature of this “Spaghetti Junction” is that there are so many inroads and offramps into one intersection.  

Our relationships can sometimes feel like a spaghetti junction of sorts. In their letter to the Philippi Church, Paul and Timothy pleaded with them to yield like Jesus in their interpersonal relationships. The inroads to godly relationships are evident:  

  • any of Christ’s encouragement  
  • any of love’s consolation  
  • any of the Spirit’s fellowship, and  
  • any affection and compassion (Phil 2:1).  

And any of these inroads would bring great traffic to any one of four outlets, which are:  

  • the same mind (mental off-ramp)  
  • the same love (emotional off-ramp)  
  • a united spirit (spiritual off-ramp), and  
  • one purpose (volitional off-ramp) (2:2).  

Paul didn’t mind this complicated cloverleaf of relationships, because any merging traffic could lead to “complete joy” (2:1) and exit in the right direction for the church. No matter how complicated our relationships are, mutual submission is a reflection on the Grand Architect. 

Attitude of submission 
Philippians 2:3-5  

This submissive attitude in Jesus runs counter to our popular culture of self-help, self-esteem, and self-improvement. And sometimes, we let our current “all-about-me” culture define us more than Gospel submission.  

Paul and Timothy, the missionary team, told the Philippi Church that whereas they had been looking out for themselves, they should now think about others even more (Phil 2:3-4). For a Christian to experience the kind of joy amidst trial of which they spoke, he has to empty himself of selfishness – actually “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit” (2:3).  

Gospel submission, being like Jesus, mandates that our interest in others has a greater importance (2:4-5). Unfortunately, modern churches still argue over preferences of style, colors, and temperature. People still fight about their own likes and dislikes, and they demand preaching/teaching that caters to their perceived whims. Jesus prayed, “Nevertheless, not what I want, but Your will be done, Father” (Luke 22:42).  

I’m glad He thought of us when He went to the cross. What would be more truly Christ-like would be to think in terms of someone beside yourself. 

Action of submission  
Philippians 2:13-15  

Our carnal nature will never generate submissive behavior. On the contrary, it is God Who is “at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13).  

Paul and Timothy told the Philippi Church to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (2:12). They were to use their relationships to exercise their faith. They weren’t telling them to worry about losing their salvation, nor doubt its existence, nor think they could do anything to acquire it. But they were telling them that their faith would grow stronger with each Gospel application to their behaviors. The act of submitting would exercise their faith. 

Submission can be enhanced by praise or marred by grumbling and arguments (2:14). The Philippians’ internal attitude would be proven by their actions based on the divine architecture of the Gospel. And that would be a witness within the perverse corruption of their generation (2:15). According to Paul and Timothy, our expressions should be that of humility as indicators of the Gospel’s traffic flow, a yield sign that defines the church’s connection to the cross, a moment to slow down the vehicle of our personal agenda, and yield to the Lord’s design. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

How Senior Adult Church Members Can Still Pray-Give-Go During Social Distancing


Recent religious landscape studies by Pew Forum reveal demographics for 65+ years of age of the membership of the Southern Baptist Convention varying from 27% to 84% (depending on the sample study). With the COVID-19 impact, that almost 1/3 to over 2/3 of the congregation happens to be one of the hardest hit demographics for life-threatening illness. And yet, no one wants to feel helpless or confined to simply observing the rest of the world go on with living out the Great Commission. So what are some things that Senior Adult church members can do to be a missional influence in the midst of a pandemic. I’d like to offer a few suggestions (please share other helpful ways in the comments section):

    1.      You can ask your pastor for a list of prospects to call and pray for or with. Right now your pastor may be overloaded with the demands of sermon preparation and visits with the sick, so he may really appreciate your offer to be an outreach director of sorts by picking up the phone. If your pastor is bi-vocational or tri-vocational, the time demands right now may be extra-heavy, so your help would be tremendous.

    2.      You can prayerwalk the Sunday School rooms. If the church is not being used during this pandemic, perhaps you could arrange an isolated visit to walk the halls and pray over the rooms, the pews, the building grounds. You could pray for lost souls that will be visiting in the coming weeks and months. You could pray for the pastor and for teachers to have clarity in sharing the Gospel in their messages.

    3.      You can offer to help another church with an extra cleanup times while church building is not being used. Some churches don’t have a groundskeeper or maintenance person or a paid janitor, so your offer to help clean up and tidy up in this down time could be a big help to them.

    4.      You can find other Community Missions projects – If you are a Southern Baptist, your local Associational Missions Strategist who works diligently to lead your association of churches probably has some unique missional opportunities right now for community missions. Some of them won’t require face-to-face work, but your help would be greatly appreciated. I’d highly recommend your reading Keith Ivey’s article at https://buckburch.blogspot.com/2020/03/guest-post-by-keith-ivey-community.html. Keith is the Northeast Missions Consultant for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, and his article has great insights.

    5.      You can have an online yard sale for future missions trips. Did you know that there are websites and apps that allow you to take pictures of items and sell them online? If you’re doing spring cleaning at home and have some items you no longer need, why not consider selling them and donating the proceeds to your church’s future missions trips or to the work of fulltime missionaries? I’m not making a recommendation for particular sites, but there are multiple companies that can help you do this: Amazon, Shopify, Ebay, Bonanza, and Etsy are just a few.

    6.      You can help deliver tangible help for single-parent families. Your church may know of some single moms who are struggling right now with bills or meals. Perhaps your Sunday School class or church wants to adopt a struggling family, and you could help deliver the help to the front door. Perhaps you can call ahead and simply say, “Our church is ordering a meal for you through (local restaurant with delivery) and we’ll paid for it online. When would you like it delivered.”

    7.      You can do internet research on a new geographic area of your city for outreach or on an international missions focus. One of the greatest tools the Lord has given missionaries in the 21st century is internet access. Have you considered the massive help you can be to your pastor, associational missionary or state missionary by helping do internet research into an unreached zone in your state or unreached people group? There are even tools to help you do that at peoplegroups.org.

    8.      You can create an online prayer video or daily Facebook post for encouragement from your church. Do you have a smart phone or a laptop with a camera? Do you have a Facebook page? Then you have all you need to record yourself leading a prayer time for missional needs or for encouragement for your church during this time. There are a couple of great instructional webinars about this at https://gabaptist.org/webinars-and-training/

    9.      You can start and maintain a telephone prayer chain. If you get a membership directory from your church, even if its just a list on a piece of paper, you can start enlisting others to form a prayer chain for daily or weekly prayer requests. As new requests come in, you could be the catalyst for feeding those prayers into that prayer chain.

    10.   You can serve as a “hotline” operator for prayer requests. If your church would send out a notice on their Facebook page or website asking for prayer requests to come to a telephone number, you could offer to be that person who receives them, prays with the caller immediately, and gets follow-up information for later contact as the Lord answers their prayers.

These are just a few ideas. What other ideas do you have? Let’s share best practices!

Now Available: Book IV - Praiseworthy Devotional Series - Psalms 90-106

  Praiseworthy Devotional Guide - Book IV For the past couple of years, the Lord has led me through the Psalms, paragraph by paragraph, in m...