• 06 Aug 2021 7:14 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    Bruce Wilkinson has an excellent book every teacher ought to read: The Seven Laws of the Learner. In it he tells the story of a seminary professor of his. He would often ride his bicycle by the home of the seminary professor. Sometimes early in the morning, sometimes late at night, he would drive by this professor’s home. Through the living room window Bruce could see the professor poring over the books.

    The interesting thing was this: the professor taught New Testament survey. He had been teaching this class for decades. He knew the material in his sleep. But he kept studying. He kept reading. He kept preparing for every class just as if it were his first.

    Bruce asked him why he did this. Why did he spend so much time going over material he clearly already knew? His answer was classic: I want to teach from a living stream.

    Everyone knows the water from a living stream is better. Fast-moving water is better than stagnant water. It tastes better and it is better for you.

    The same is true of teaching. The teaching that comes from a learning heart is better. Your people want to know what Jesus is teaching you now. Have you talked to Jesus lately? Are you struggling in prayer this week? Are you straining toward the prize this week? Are you learning this week?

    I have heard too many Bible study lessons that go like this, “Back in ‘74 I had a situation and God showed me …” This is not to say that we should never share stories from a long time ago. Jesus said it this way

    He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” Matthew 13:52 (NIV)

    Notice that last line: new treasures as well as old. This is what Effective Bible Teachers do. They share new treasures as well as old. They tell of pivotal moments in their own life when God showed them life-altering truths. These moments will never be repeated and are appropriately recalled often. But Effective Bible Teachers do something more. They share from this week.

    • This week’s learning.

    • This week’s prayers.

    • This week’s struggle.

    • This week’s service.

    People want to know: has Jesus taught you anything recently?

    Josh Hunt, The Effective Bible Teacher (Josh Hunt, 2013).

  • 06 Aug 2021 6:50 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    I was privileged to hear Mike Dean preach recently. The big idea of the message was on service. We need to do more than sit and soak up Bible study lessons; we need to be doers of the Word. The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve. We too need to serve.

    One of the great things about this message was the application. Mike gave lots of examples of different ways we can be involved in service. No matter your interest, your talent, your schedule, there is a way for you to serve.

    The entire time Mike was speaking, there was a clear bowl of water in front of him with a large yellow sponge in it. With the bowl of water just sitting there, you couldn’t help but wonder why it was there. Toward the end of the message he used it as an incredible object lesson.

    Mike said that God doesn’t want us just to sit and soak. When we sit and soak, we sour. Mike put his hand on the sponge. He dipped into the water. He squeezed it and let it go. He lifted it up and squeezed again. Water poured out.

    Mike talked about how we don’t want to sit and soak. He talked about how we all will be used by God. He kept dipping the sponge in the water and pulling out and squeezing it. I’ll never forget that picture.

    Object lessons are like that: we never forget them. I remember an object lesson from when I was in the sixth grade. I don’t remember the preacher, but I remember the object lesson. The preacher pulled out a big barrel. He talked about Elijah and the widow at Zarephath—how “The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.” 1 Kings 17:14 (NIV)

    I listened to that preacher for a whole year. I don’t remember any other sermons he preached. But I remember that one because he used an object lesson. Object lessons stick to the brain.

    Josh Hunt, The Effective Bible Teacher (Josh Hunt, 2013).

  • 06 Aug 2021 6:48 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    My day job is writing Bible Study Lessons. I have probably written more Bible Study Lessons than any human, living or dead. I write four lessons a week and have done so for years.

    My Bible Study Lessons consist of about 20 questions with answers from well-known authors. If Max Lucado ever mentioned the Text we’re talking about, I will likely find it. I’ll provide a Max Lucado quote for you to use in class.

    One of my favorite questions to ask goes like this: what did this word mean before it was a Bible word? Or, what did this word mean before Baptists got hold of it? For example:

    • What did the word saved mean before it was a Bible word? We think of saved as having our sins forgiven and having a place secured for us in heaven. But often in Scripture the word saved is just an ordinary word. Jesus invited Peter to walk on the water. He did well until he looked around at the waves. Then, he started to sink. “Lord, save me!” he cried. He wasn’t talking about having his sins forgiven in this context. I don’t even think he was thinking of heaven. He was thinking of not drowning. How does this story inform our understanding of what it means to be saved?
    • The word lost is another great example. When we hear the word lost in church, we think of the theological category of lostness. We think of someone whose sins have not been forgiven. We think of someone who is separated from God. But in Luke 15, Jesus discusses three things that were lost—a lost coin, a lost sheep, and a lost son. One thing Jesus is teaching in these parables is what it feels like to lose something, and what it feels like when what was lost is found. Jesus seems to be making a big point of the emotion. In each case, he emphasizes the joy of finding what was lost. We also see the pain and desperation when something that is valuable to us is lost. One lesson is this: we ought to care about the lost, and think about the lost, and be a little bit obsessed about the lost, in the same way we get obsessed when we lose some money or our keys or a kid. My point is this: great insight can be gained by thinking of the word “lost” in its non-theological sense.

    One more.

    • Redeemed. We love to sing the song, “Since I Have Been Redeemed,” and, “Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It,” but do we ever use the word redeemed in everyday life? When I was a child, we used to redeem green stamps. But I am not sure that helps me to understand what redeemed meant in Bible days. Redeemed has come to be a strictly theological word. But, when it was used in the Bible, it was not a theological word. It was just a normal word. And so again, we need to ask, what did this word mean before it became a Bible word? The greatest picture of this is perhaps Hosea who bought back (redeemed) his wife who left him to live a life of adultery. Now there is a word picture of what it means to be redeemed. We left God. We went after other loves. We got ourselves in a mess. And God bought us back at a great price.

    Josh Hunt, The Effective Bible Teacher (Josh Hunt, 2013).

  • 05 Aug 2021 7:19 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    Why do so many good people do bad things? Why do so many fail to finish the race. Much of it is a matter of habit. Good habits make being good easy. Bad habits make being good impossible. 

    If you want to start a habit or stop a habit the key is not to try really hard to do this or stop doing that. Trying hard is overrated. Not to say there is not a place for trying hard. But trying hard is like a spare tire. You need a spare tire because every now and then you have a flat. But, if you live your whole life on a spare tire, you are in trouble.

    Developing a new habit starts with identifying one habit and working on one habit at a time. The next step is to find a friend to take the journey with you.

    The next step is to find a way of escape.

    Allow me to misquote a verse. See if you can catch where I got this wrong:

    No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will provide supernatural strength so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

    Did you catch it? Here’s the real verse. See if you can find the difference:

    No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

    Success is rarely about trying really hard. It is about finding the way of escape.

    There is an old story that goes like this. A man walks down the street and falls in a hole. He hates falling in the hole, and resolves tomorrow he will not fall into the hole.

    The next day he gets up and goes down the street again. Again, he falls into the hole. “This is awful! I hate this hole! I have got to stop falling in this hole!”

    The next day he falls into the hole again. He resolves to try harder.

    The next day he walks on the other side of the street. When he gets near the hole he thinks to himself, “I’ll just take a little peek inside.” He falls into the hole.

    This goes on for several weeks. Each day he is a little bit more frustrated with himself for falling into the hole. Man, does he hate that hole.

    Then, one day, he stumbles on to a solution. After this day he never falls into the hole again. What is the solution? He walks down a different street.

    Snickers and apples

    If you put a bowl of Snickers bars on the table in front of me, I would eat them. If you put an apple on the table in front of me, I would eat the apple. Eating an apple instead of Snickers is not about trying really hard to not eat Snickers. It is about what you put in the bowl. Find the way of escape.

    If you can avoid the temptation, you can avoid the sin. Temptation is not a sin. However, every time we can avoid temptation we will avoid sin.

    Josh Hunt, Break a Habit / Make a Habit (Josh Hunt, 2013).

  • 04 Aug 2021 3:32 PM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    No Spiritual Discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word. Nothing can substitute for it. There simply is no healthy Christian life apart from a diet of the milk and meat of Scripture. The reasons for this are obvious. In the Bible God tells us about Himself, and especially about Jesus Christ, the incarnation of God. The Bible unfolds the Law of God to us and shows us how we’ve all broken it. There we learn how Christ died as a sinless, willing Substitute for breakers of God’s Law and how we must repent and believe in Him to be right with God. In the Bible we learn the ways and will of the Lord. We find in Scripture how to live in a way that is pleasing to God as well as best and most fulfilling for ourselves. None of this eternally essential information can be found anywhere else except the Bible. Therefore if we would know God and be Godly, we must know the Word of God—intimately.

    However, many who yawn with familiarity and nod in agreement to these statements spend no more time with God’s Word in an average day than do those with no Bible at all. My pastoral experience bears witness to the validity of surveys that frequently reveal that great numbers of professing Christians know little more about the Bible than Third-World Christians who possess not even a shred of Scripture.

    Some wag remarked that the worst dust storm in history would happen if all church members who were neglecting their Bibles dusted them off simultaneously.

    So even though we honor God’s Word with our lips, we must confess that our hearts—as well as our hands, ears, eyes, and minds—are often far from it. Regardless of how busy we become with all things Christian, we must remember that the most transforming practice available to us is the disciplined intake of Scripture.

    Bible intake is not only the most important Spiritual Discipline, it is also the most broad. It actually consists of several subdisciplines. It’s much like a university comprised of many colleges, each specializing in a different discipline, yet all united under the general name of the university.

    Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 28–29.

  • 03 Aug 2021 8:08 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    An excellent summary of the studies done on married people can be found in the book The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially by Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher.1 Here are just a few of the many findings:

    • Married people are much happier and likely to be less unhappy than any other group of people.
    • Married people live up to eight years longer than divorced or never-married people.
    • Married people suffer less from long-term illnesses than those who are unmarried.
    • Married people are less likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse.
    • Married people have twice the amount of sex single people have and report greater levels of satisfaction in the area of sexual intimacy.

    A look at individual studies by social scientists also confirms these conclusions. For example, married men and women report greater satisfaction with family life.2 Married couples report greater sexual satisfaction,3 and married women report higher levels of physical and psychological health.4 Married people experience less depression.5

    Kerby Anderson, A Biblical Point of View on Homosexuality (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2008).

  • 13 Jul 2021 9:20 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    Do you think the apostle Peter was nervous before he preached at Pentecost? How many people do you think he thought would respond to his message? Before you answer, remember, there were no churches, Christian organizations, or church history present when this took place. So what do you think? Twenty-five people? Thirty-five people? A hundred people?

    Of course we know that more than three thousand people were saved through that first day of preaching! In other words, the first Christian church was a megachurch from day one. So how did the disciples respond to make sure that everyone was cared for and that the initial explosion of growth did not create a chaotic environment that would hamper the spread of the gospel?

    Acts 2:46 tells us one of the keys that allowed the church to go from three thousand to countless millions was tribes: "And every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart." In other words, from the beginning, the three thousand new converts were divided into small tribes, which met in homes to study together, break bread, and care for each other. This is why it is important for church leaders to understand a second layer of "tribes" at their church, the small group.

    At Lake Pointe Church we tell every new member that it is vital for each person to find a small group or "tribe" in which they can become an active participant. This is first communicated at an orientation that is offered once a month on a Sunday evening. The purpose of this three-hour introduction to our fellowship is to help the new member along a clear path of spiritual formation and assimilation. In addition, we share the purpose of the church and expectations of each individual toward fulfilling our mission.

    Why make this an emphasis? Because those who only attend the large church gathering tend to remain spectators. By joining a small or even midsize group (which we call Life Groups), they move toward accountability and as a result, greater spiritual maturity. I often say in those settings, "We are not really a large church, we are a collection of small churches, and there is a sense in which you haven't really found your church until you have found a smaller tribe we call Life Groups."

    We happen to be a church that believes in on-site, midsized tribes as well as small home-based groups. Many other great churches only offer small groups in homes to accomplish the same ends and many of them do so effectively. We have chosen to offer weekly, on-site, midsized Life Groups that meet immediately prior to or following the worship services. These groups further subdivide into off-site Growth Groups that meet once or twice per month in homes. We believe on-site Life Groups are most effective for the following reasons:

    1. Time: When someone gives their time to attend a church service on one day and then must give up a second time slot on another day for their small group experience, they are less likely to do so. However, if they can attend their Life Group immediately before or after a service, even if they are on the property for 2½ hours, they consider it only one section of time. The majority of your most-committed people will give you two time slots a week, not three. If two slots are already required by a worship service and a "week night" small group experience, it is hard to get them to commit the third time slot to serve in a ministry. Others may come to service and serve but will not commit the third hour to the vital community they need to experience in the Life Group. As a result, most churches with only off-site small groups average at best 30 to 40 percent of their adult membership. Churches with well-managed on-site, midsized groups can see a participation rate as high as 80 percent.

    2. Childcare: Even the best efforts to provide home-based childcare, which range from "find your own childcare" to "stick the kids in a back room" to "one couple misses one out of every five gatherings," fall short. On-site programming for children is easier to make safe, efficient, effective, and convenient. It is also my personal belief that some of our church members who attend Life Groups have not yet really bought into the small group concept, but they attend faithfully just to get a break from their kids for a few hours each week.

    3. Fear and Convenience: It is much easier to ask a new church member to walk down the hall and try out a Life Group while they are already in the building than it is to ask them to navigate their way to a home in a strange neighborhood. And here is the reality. If you go into a room to visit a Life Group on-site and you get uncomfortable, if you do not enjoy it, or if it just goes too long, you can always pretend to go to the restroom and not return. This is pretty difficult to pull off in a home unless you are planning to climb out of someone's bathroom window! I have found that many new paradigm churches today only offer small home groups and do not offer midsized on-site groups. The common argument is that they cannot afford the building costs associated with on-site midsized groups. While I understand their concern, I believe that if a larger percentage of their people were assimilated through the use of midsized on-site groups, the necessary resources to provide facilities for such groups would exist. However, in the few parts of the country where land is so expensive that it becomes nearly impossible to provide the necessary facilities for on-site groups, I would suggest a modified on-site midsized group strategy. Here, the church could provide one or two midsized rooms with a capacity of approximately 80 to 100. The church could then invite several small groups that usually meet in homes to join together with other small groups for 4 to 5 weeks, utilizing those rooms before or after existing services and providing on-site childcare. Those who had not yet connected to a small group could then be invited to check out the collection of small groups meeting on the campus for that month. A new collection of small groups could then rotate on campus the following month. The small groups rotating on campus could be from a selected geographical region with various age groups, or they could be a collection of a particular age group from various regions.

    4. Group Psychology: It is a very large sociological leap for a person to take who is enjoying the anonymity of a large group of several hundreds or even several thousands to be thrust into a small group of 8 to 10 people. We have found that a midsize group of 25 to 80 allows the person to acclimate more slowly toward greater intimacy and accountability. After people develop trusting relationships, they are more willing to commit to an additional periodic time slot and the more intimate experiences in a home-based small group. By the way, there are some people whose personality profiles make it almost impossible to move them to the smaller setting without first transitioning through the midsize experience.

    In short, it takes less time and courage, and there are fewer childcare complexities involved, in attending an on-site midsized group than a small off-site group.

    Lake Pointe Life Groups

    When Lake Pointe began more than thirty years ago, we started two midsized Life Groups for couples. One group was for those who were over forty years of age and one was for couples younger than forty. In addition, we started one men's Life Group and one ladies' Life Group. This served those who preferred to meet and study the Bible separately from their spouse, those whose spouse refused to attend, or those whose spouse was working in our childcare area at that hour. Today we have a total of 156 midsize, on-site Life Groups that meet each week.

    Very quickly we found that more of our people moved into our Life Group tribes when they fully understood the five purposes of these groupings and the needs met there that could not be provided in a larger service format. The first unique purpose of a Life Group is interactive Bible study. Obviously a large service format does not allow an abundance of questions and answers, individual application, and then personal encouragement to follow through on biblical insights. Interestingly, this vital interaction is what many people are seeking to avoid by not attending Life Groups.

    Some people fear that by attending one of these groups, they will be asked to read aloud, pray aloud, or answer a complex spiritual question about a biblical passage. This is why we guarantee that Life Groups are interactive on the attendees' terms. They can ask any questions they desire and volunteer to give input as they like, but no one will initiate interaction without their prior approval. Life Groups are a safe place to listen and learn on the participants' terms and at their comfort level.

    Because interactive Bible study is a part of the Life Group, all of our Life Group teachers are trained to lead Bible study discussions rather than lecture. They are required to serve as an assistant teacher and attend a four-week training course for new leaders before leading a group. Before they can lead their own group, they are also required to fill out a questionnaire that requires them to share their church background, salvation experience, and doctrinal beliefs.

    After interning as an assistant, taking the training course, and filling out the questionnaire, they are then interviewed by our board of elders. At that interview they are asked to verbally affirm that they will be faithful in their giving, be loyal to church leadership, and abstain from the appearance of evil. This is in addition to the commitment they are asked to make to support the values of the church and adhere to basic biblical disciplines that should be a part of every fully developing Christian's life.

    The process is demanding because, in a lot of ways, as the small group tribe goes, so goes the church. A staff member or lay volunteer then provides continuing coaching to each Life Group leader to foster his or her ongoing development.

    Each Life Group has two leaders, the primary teaching leader and the care leader. While the teaching leader is the recognized and primary spokesperson for the group, the care leader is responsible for helping organize members' care and ministry projects as well as facilitating smaller home-based Growth Groups and accountability partnerships.

    The second purpose for Life Groups is fellowship. God's Word makes it clear how important it is to have close Christian friends. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says "Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts." Life Groups provide the environment in which it is more likely participants will develop lifetime and Christ-honoring relationships. If someone has been a member of Lake Pointe for several years and complains of being unable to develop meaningful friendships, I will ask the person about their Life Group participation. Life Groups are where those deeper relationships are formed.

    One of the disappointments that I have as the pastor of a larger church is that I don't have the opportunity to know everyone in the church. I'm not the only one who feels this tension. One of the complaints I hear from time to time about Lake Pointe is that we are "just such a large church." People are even hesitant to join such a large church for fear that, unlike the church they attended before Lake Pointe, "they won't know everyone."

    But large numerical growth doesn't have to exclude meaningful relationships. I love baseball and I love going to see the Texas Rangers play. Over the years the massive size of the crowd has never bothered me. A big crowd usually means the team is on a winning streak (or that it is opening day). Why does it not seem to concern me that I do not "know everyone" at the ballpark? Two reasons: First, I know that I am a part of a larger tribe called Rangers fans and that for the most part—except for those pesky Red Sox and Yankee fans living in our city—most of the people seated around me, even if I do not know their names, are cheering and hoping for the same outcome. Second, I always attend the game with a smaller tribe—my wife, Marsha, and another couple, our grandkids, or three or four buddies who are also Rangers fans.

    The baseball metaphor illustrates a similar dynamic that happens in a local church. It does not matter how large the church gets, if you are involved in a smaller tribe or Life Group with which you are experiencing ever-deepening friendships. Building healthy small group tribes is an essential fellowship component to every tribal church.

    The third critical activity that occurs in these Life Group tribes is care. When someone joins our church family, it is our responsibility to care for that person's spiritual, emotional, and, in some cases, physical needs. But, it is that individual's responsibility to put himself or herself in the place where this kind of care takes place. At Lake Pointe that place is a Life Group. It is the Life Group's care leader whose primary responsibility is to organize the tribe members to care for one another.

    I do not know when it happened, but at some time in the history of the church, people began to expect the clergy to do all the ministering. I believe that is why 59 percent of the churches in America have fewer than 100 participants, counting both adults and children.1 That is about the number of people for whom one person can effectively care. According to Ephesians 4:12, it is the job of those in the pastor/teacher role to equip the saints to minister to one another. Which is also to say, it is not only the responsibility of church members to put themselves in a place to be cared for, but also for them to position themselves to care for others. It is amazing to me that there are those who become concerned when they do not get the attention they feel they need, but then have no concern about the unmet needs of their fellow tribesmen.

    Whenever there is a death, sickness, or another kind of crisis in a Lake Pointe member's life, we can tell immediately if that person has a meaningful connection to a Life Group. When I or another staff member show up, if that person is an active Life Group member, we find there is very little—if anything—that needs to be added to the ministry already taking place. The love expressed by the Life Group is both more meaningful and helpful because of the knowledge that comes from everyone involved having done life together deeply. If that person has not connected to a Life Group, we find most times that the ministry from our staff is the entire ministry they receive.

    One of the ways we have empowered our leaders and helped them to be seen as true ministers is by encouraging the observance of Communion in Life Groups. In addition, many times Life Group leaders will baptize the members or family members of their own Life Group.

    The fourth unique benefit from Life Group involvement is meaningful service. All of our Life Groups are commissioned to adopt at least one ministry project for their tribe. Many of our groups have taken on multiple projects, giving their participants a variety of opportunities, including those that are local, national, and international. In other words, Life Group members not only study God's Word together, they also put God's Word into action together. There is a deeper intimacy that comes to a tribe when they serve God together.

    When our church first began, the connection between Life Groups and individual ministry involvement was not as strong as it is today. In those early days, if you wanted to serve, you did so in addition to the time spent with your Life Group with those outside of your Life Group. Although some in our congregation still find a place of service outside of their Life Group, today most of our people serve with their Life Group.

    We have also found that a greater percentage of our members now serve because of this paradigm shift. They are now motivated by an opportunity to fellowship with their tribe, in addition to the feeling of significance that service brings, and the realization that real needs are met by their involvement.

    Finally, the Life Group is a critical part of the pathway to accountability. As pastor, I feel it is primarily my job to motivate those who are attending one of our services to engage with a Life Group. In turn, we expect the leadership in Life Groups to encourage their members to take the next step of participating in monthly home-based groups of 8 to 10 people we call Growth Groups. Fellowship, prayer, and support—rather than Bible study—are the primary activities of these home gatherings. Some Growth Groups have also chosen to do ministry projects together for their monthly gatherings. Over time, it is common for these relationships to grow into lifelong friendships and same-gender accountability partnerships that help our people grow to be more like Christ. Proverbs 27:17 says, "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another."

    Many of our home-based Growth Groups start out much like a simple supper club. A new Growth Group begins when the Life Group care leader asks those not already connected to a Growth Group if they would like to form a group themselves or have their names put in a hat as new Growth Groups are being formed. It is then perfectly legal, after several months have passed, for an individual or couple to come back to the care leader and say, "I have really enjoyed fellowship with the couples (or singles) you put us with; however, we would like to try another Growth Group now so we can meet more people in our Life Group." That, by the way, is code language for "I do not have anything in common with the yahoos you put me with and I would like to be in a different group." As I said, it is perfectly acceptable for individuals or couples to keep changing groups until they find one with which they have a high degree of affinity. Once this takes place, we pray that they can stay with that group until Jesus returns.

    Steve Stroope, Kurt Bruner, and Rick Warren, Tribal Church: Lead Small. Impact Big. (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2012).

  • 12 Jul 2021 4:34 PM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    Someone once asked Dallas Willard, “If a person wants to grow spiritually, where should they start? Read the Bible? Pray more? Go to church?” Dallas’s answer was completely disarming —and unexpected. He said, “Do the next right thing you know you ought to do. Now when you try that, you may wind up going to church, because you’re going to need some help. Nothing will drive you into the Kingdom of God like trying to do the next thing that is right . . . because you will need help, and you will get it, because that’s where God is.”[160]

    So today, from one moment to the next —as the thought enters your mind —do the next right thing you know you ought to do:

    • Work with diligence and cheerfulness.
    • Encourage someone next to you.
    • Include a playful phrase in an e-mail to brighten somebody’s day.
    • Notice what the expression on another person’s face is telling you about his or her heart.
    • Apologize.
    • When you’re late for a meeting because you didn’t allow enough time to get there, refuse to blame it on the traffic.
    • Let someone merge in front of you on the freeway.
    • Be patient with a difficult person.
    • Don’t blow up at your kids.

    Sometimes doing the next right thing seems impossible, even when it’s not. Once, after hearing Dallas Willard give a talk about “doing the next right thing,” a man approached Dallas and said, “I have a rebellious son, and I can’t help blowing up at him.” Dallas told him to simply promise his wife that the next time he blew up at his son, he would contribute $5,000 to his wife’s favorite charity.[161]

    Often, “doing the next right thing” will demand a power not currently available to us. Just like with an alcoholic who decides that the “next right thing” is not to take a drink, willpower alone will not get this done. Success will require a new way of life in which we will need to access strength from a Power greater than ourselves.

    The beauty of “do the next right thing” is that it often reveals that we’re unable to do the next right thing. That realization drives us to seek God —and we will find him. But first we must be honest about our intentions.

    When I lived in Chicago, I decided I wanted to get my body into better shape.

    Then I met Doug, a professional trainer and body builder, and we started working out together. It was amazing. I felt like a member of a different and far inferior species. Nancy used to ask, “Can I come and watch you and Doug work out?”

    “I can’t make it today,” I’d tell her. “It’s just gonna be Doug.”

    “That’d be okay,” she’d assure me.

    At one point, I told him, “I’d like to look like you.”

    And he asked me, “Are you all in?”

    “What do you mean?” I asked.

    “You don’t just drift into this,” he explained. “I will lift weights until my muscles ache. I push myself so hard sometimes that I feel like I’m on fire. Some mornings, I hurt so much I can’t bend down to tie my shoes. I monitor every calorie I put in my body. I wake myself up at night to ingest protein when it can best be absorbed. Mostly it takes the courage to face the pain —searing pain. Are you all in?”

    Turns out, I wasn’t. I was only partly in. I was okay with not looking all the way like Doug. I have a life. I’m more an admirer than a disciple.

    Now, here is our friend Jesus. He’s looking for disciples, people who will surrender their lives —money and reputation and achievements (which we cannot keep) —for a transformed character in a glorious Kingdom that we cannot lose.

    It’s not a bad thing to be an admirer of his. But he’s looking for disciples. He promises to be there for us when we do well, and to be there for us when we don’t. Cross his heart. Hope to die.

    John Ortberg, I’d like You More If You Were More like Me: Getting Real about Getting Close (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Refresh, 2017).

  • 18 Jun 2021 8:18 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    His Sunday school class began a supper club designed to help members get to know one another and to be a ministry to people outside the church.

    Hosting one of the dinners was an ideal opportunity for involvement, but he was afraid to offer. I’m living alone now, he thought. I don’t cook that well, I don’t know much about being a host, and it’s been a while since I’ve had people over. With great hesitation, he finally put his name on the list.

    As the day approached, he was amazed when several class members called and volunteered to help him get ready. Some made food, some brought chairs, and others even donated festive decorations. The dinner was a success, and everyone felt welcomed and loved.

    Hospitality isn’t just for certain homemakers with large homes or a special knack for party throwing. The same command is given to all believers: “Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:9–10 NASB).

    It doesn’t matter how experienced or equipped you are. What counts is offering what the Lord has given you. God uses everything for His glory. Your home and belongings become a blessing many times over when you open them up to someone else.

    Charles F. Stanley, On Holy Ground (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), 275.

  • 15 Jun 2021 2:38 PM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    IT has been said by some one that “the proper study of mankind is man.” I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, “Behold I am wise.” But when we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought, that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass’s colt; and with the solemn exclamation, “I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.” No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God. We shall be obliged to feel

    “Great God, how infinite art thou,

    What worthless worms are we!”

    But while the subject humbles the mind it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe. He may be a naturalist, boasting of his ability to dissect a beetle, anatomize a fly, or arrange insects and animals in classes with well nigh unutterable names; he may be a geologist, able to discourse of the megatherium and the plesiosaurus, and all kinds of extinct animals; he may imagine that his science, whatever it is, ennobles and enlarges his mind. I dare say it does, but after all, the most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. And, whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatary. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrows? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of grief and sorrow; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead. It is to that subject that I invite you this morning. We shall present you with one view of it,—that is the immutability of the glorious Jehovah. “I am,” says my text, “Jehovah,” (for so it should be translated) “I am Jehovah, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

    C. H. Spurgeon, “The Immutability of God,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 1 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1855), 1.










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