Tag Archives: Bible study

A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart

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My wife and I are trying (desperately) to teach both thankfulness and prayer to our two boys.  My eldest son has a hard time with both of these (must take after his dad).  After our family Bible story each evening we go around and pray and all we ask for now is that they say one thing they are thankful.  Luke was thankful for being able to go to the park yesterday, but Jack said he didn’t have anything.  After pressing him, he was thankful for “the day”.

Why is it so easy to feel entitled to things and take blessings for granted?

I know, sin.  I think it also has to do with the fact that, as Craig Groeschel puts it, “we believe in God, but live as if he doesn’t exist.”  Thankfulness is something that comes out of a heart that understands and appreciates the gift given.  Prayer is an outpouring of our need and true belief in God.  If we expect blessing and feel entitled, we won’t be thankful, and if are not thankful, we will probably not see a need for God, or need for prayer.

I fully point the finger at myself on both of these counts.  Having grown up in the church, as well as in a middle-class home, I felt a certain amount of entitlement both spiritually and externally.  I was like the elder son in the parable of the prodigal sons – I didn’t want the Father any more than the younger son, I just wanted him for what I was going to inherit and kept “slaving away”.

So what to do about my son’s (any my) lack of thankfulness and desire to pray?  In his first session from The Christian Atheist, Craig Groeschel says that to know God better, seek him.  If you seek him, he will reveal himself to you.  It seems that going through the work of daily counting our blessings and setting aside specific time to pray will help.  Another idea came from my pastor while teaching on Ephesians this weekend.  Take yourself under the wing of a prayer mentor from the Bible.  Look at Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in chapter 1.  Paul says, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Look how Paul prays, and use this prayer as a template of sorts.  Pray that you would have a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that God would reveal himself to you.  Pray that you would see the hope of who you are in Christ and what he has called us to be.

This is what I told Jack last night.  That sin keeps us from being thankful, and when we are not thankful we listen to the snake (Satan).  But when we are thankful, we listen to Jesus and defeat the snake.

For the whole message about believing in God, but living as if he doesn’t exist, watch The Christian Atheist on YouTube here.

Second Child as Birth Control and Becoming Christlike

Do you have kids?  I have two boys, 4 1/2 and 3 years old.  Jack is my oldest and is a very compliant, sensitive, thoughtful little boy.  Luke is…not.  Luke reminds me of my younger sister growing up – very funny, very sweet at times, but if things ever so slightly go awry or not the way they want, watch out.  My wife and I jokingly call him “Lukifer” at these times.  I find myself at a loss with him multiple times a week (and I’m not the primary care-giver!).

As a dad, I think I am involved, and take my role as the leader in the house seriously.  I have also discovered that I am not nearly as patient and unselfish as I thought I was.  I have read many books and watched many parenting studies.  Quite often, these gives tips on training your children and communication and discipline.  That is all well and good, and have found many of the resources helpful.  One parenting study, though, that I have been going back to is Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas.  This study looks at how children shape our souls to become more like Jesus.

Sacred Parenting looks at how parenting changes the parent, not the child.  Thomas calls parenting a school of spiritual formation, and our children are our teachers.

I think this is such a great study, that I want to give it away today.  Here’s what you need to do to get the DVD and Participant’s Guide free:

  1. Watch the full session on YouTube here: http://zndr.vn/KajKtK
  2. Answer Gary’s question at the end of the video about a particular challenge that you are facing (or faced) with your children and leave it in the comments on YouTube.
  3. Paste the same comment below here (so we can connect with you about sending the resources to you).
  4. Available today only.

Also be sure also to visit the Small Group Bible Study playlist on YouTube.  Watch full-length small group Bible study sessions free from authors and pastors like Timothy Keller, Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, and Mark Batterson.

Will Downloads Kill the DVD Star?

…I don’t think so, but you can now download any individual session from any of 20 small group Bible studies now on ChristianBook.com.  Download an entire study, or cherry pick different sessions from different studies and create your own study.  Pick from best-selling small group studies like The Reason for God, When God’s People Pray, Surprised by Hope, The Christian Atheist, The Story, and others!

Each video download is available for purchase for only $2.99 and you get both mp4 and .mov formats (depending if you would like to play it on your mobile device or need high-definition, respectively).  If you would like the corresponding participant’s guide session in PDF, that is bundled with many for $4.99 a session.

So head on over ChristianBook.com and see what’s available.  Let us know which sessions you pick out and what you think of the experience!

Also be sure also to visit and subscribe to the Small Group Bible Study playlist on YouTube.  There are nearly 100 full-length sessions available for free to view from authors and pastors like Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, and Timothy Keller.

God Still Speaks…Are You Listening?

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in church and I had a prompting.  I felt led to invite a specific guy and his family to dinner at our house.  I hadn’t ever talked with him, never met his wife, and only knew that he had a son around my sons age.  I either very rarely receive promptings from God, or (more likely) very rarely am listening and recognize them.  Well, I had recently watched Bill Hybels teach on promptings from God in his small group study, The Power of a Whisper.  I decided that whether or not it was from God, it was a good idea, so I invited him to dinner.  There was nothing earth-shattering about our dinner, or what I did.  He and his wife have 2 boys around the same ages as our two sons.  They had recently moved to Michigan from New York and didn’t know many people.  We connected and plan to get together more often.

But this experience definitely has moved me to be more attune to God’s “whispers”.  I have wanted to not discard any feeling that I had, and I’ve wanted to be more intentional in my prayer to listen, not just talk.

In The Power of a Whisper, Bill Hybels shares his history with whispers from God as well as his filter for deciphering whether or not the whisper is actually “heaven-sent”.  His five filters are:

  1. Is it from God? (consistent with God’s character)
  2. Is it Scriptural? (is there a specific passage that refers to your whisper)
  3. Is it wise?
  4. Is it in tune with how God made you?
  5. What do trusted friends advise?

Hybels talks about whispers that he received from God: leaving his family business to plant a church; starting the church in a movie theater; launching a training organization for leaders.  To watch the first session of The Power of a Whisper, go to YouTube here.  There are also over 80 other sessions from other small group studies on YouTube here.

What whispers or promptings have you received and responded to from God?

“Undaunted” by Christine Caine, New Bible Study for Small Groups

Australian author and speaker Christine Caine is releasing a new DVD-based Bible study this fall called Undaunted: Daring to Do What God Calls You to Do. Here’s a teaser video about what “Undaunted” is all about:

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What are the family situations like for the other people in your small group Bible study? If your group is anything like mine, then the situations are quite diverse. Some come from broken homes, some do not. Some have been neglected, others have been loved deeply. Undaunted could be a great way for your group to grow in understand about how God loves and claims all of us.

Here’s some of the marketing copy for further explanation:

Using her own dramatic life story, Caine shows how God rescued her from a life where she was unnamed, unwanted, and unqualified. She tells how she overcame abuse, abandonment, fears, and other challenges to go on a mission of adventure, fueled by faith and filled with love and courage.

As Christine tells of how she realized the significance of her own life and choices, she will inspire you and your small group to grasp lives that bring hope and create change for Christ.

Better Without Jesus

About six months ago my 4-year-old son “asked Jesus into his heart”.  I did the same around that age, and I know that many people do the same.  But should we use that language?  As Dr Mohler stated a number of years ago, it is not heresy, but it is not helpful.  Recently, I watched the first session from Jim Cymbala’s six-session group Bible study, When God’s Spirit Moves.  Cymbala teaches on the power and presence of the Spirit and how Jesus taught that it was better for him to go so that the Spirit could come.  Cymbala said this is true because no outward teaching can replace the inward power of the Spirit.

I wasn’t raised with much of a theology of the Holy Spirit, and most people I know would say the same.  The Spirit was something that some people took too far, so it was best to not get wrapped up in emotion and swing to the other side and treated as the black sheep of the Trinity.  But as Cymbala says, Christians are distinct from all other religions and cults because of the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

I am challenged and excited to see what God will do when I open my life to the Holy Spirit.  I also am challenged to instill in my boys a better knowledge and understanding of the Holy Spirit than what I knew.  Maybe the language we should consider is asking the Spirit into your life, rather than Jesus into your heart.  I would encourage you to watch the first session from Jim Cymbala’s When God’s Spirit Moves on YouTube for free below, and check out his new book on the same topic, Spirit Rising.  In the video below, you will hear Cymbala’s inspiring teaching on the person of the Holy Spirit, and an amazing story of transformation from a former gangster named Roma:

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Small Group Bible Study Sessions on Marriage

We have some great small group Bible studies on the topic of love and marriage from some of the best communicators – Gary Thomas, Andy Stanley, Les and Leslie Parrot, and John and Stasi Eldredge.  We’ve put many of our small group Bible study sessions up on YouTube.  Now, we’ve separated out the ones on love and marriage on their own playlist – group bible studies on marriage.  Watch the first session of Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts, Staying in Love, Sacred Marriage, Your Time-Starved Marriage, and more.

My wife and I have gone through each of these together at some point in our 9 years together and really appreciated each one.  Most recently, we went through Sacred Marriage together.  In this small group Bible study, Gary Thomas helps you discover a deeper intimacy with God through your marriage.  He asks the question, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”  Here is session 1:

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How do you react to the idea that God may have designed marriage to make us holy even more than to make us happy?

The Winner of the Valentine’s Giveaway is…

Thanks to all who posted comments!  These are all very important things to remember.  These are things that are key whether you have been married 5 minutes or 50 years.  I plan on putting this list inside my Bible and every day pray that I am able to live these to my wife and model them to my two boys.

Most all the comments fell into 10 things to remember so you stay in love (in order of number of comments):

  1. Sacrificial love
  2. Put Jesus first
  3. Maintain a friendship
  4. Communicate
  5. Develop a forgiving spirit
  6. Make a lasting commitment
  7. Regard one another with mutual respect
  8. Be open and honest with one another
  9. Maintain a sense of individuality
  10. Get naked
The random winner is Allen Jerkins!
Grace. I wish I had something more lengthy to say, but that is it- the ability to remember how much Christ has forgiven you, then to extend that over and over to your spouse.


Thank you all for reading.  Here is the first full session of Staying in Love by Andy Stanley:

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