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August 03, 2015


This sponsored post was prepared by smallgroup.com.

The words are as indelible as any ever recorded: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” 

That’s how Jesus closed the whirlwind of events and emotions that surrounded His trial, execution, the three days of hopelessness, and His resurrection. But these words weren’t so much as an ending as they were a beginning; they weren’t a close on His story but a launching pad into the future.

The disciples – ordinary, unschooled, some still doubting – stood on the mountainside with their friend and now their acknowledged Lord, and got their marching orders. What they had seen done they would now do; what they had been taught they would now teach; what they had experienced they would now pass on. And so the chain goes throughout history. The story of Jesus and what it means to be His disciple has cut through the generations despite every attempt to stop it. And here we are today, in our own generation, recipients of the same charge Jesus delivered on the mountain that day:

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…”

First to the original disciples, and now to us. That’s who is to make disciples. But if we could, let’s think for a second about who this call didn’t go out to. Let’s think about who, or what, was never told to make disciples. Chances are you, like me, have trusted at least one of these other things to do the work Jesus gave to His people:

  • A screen. Jesus never looked at a video and told it to make disciples. Yet many of us have assumed that disciples will be made if the video teaching or preaching is strong enough. There’s nothing wrong with video; it can be a useful tool to make disciples. But if all we ever give people is a screen to watch then we aren’t making disciples; we’re making consumers.
  • A line of curriculum. Jesus never looked at curriculum and told it to make disciples. While it’s the ease of video that’s appealing, in this case the appeal is about knowledge. Just as with video, there is nothing wrong with using Bible study curriculum. But if that’s the sole means of discipling people, then we are in danger of helping people accumulate a great deal of knowledge and a very anemic amount of obedience and service.
  • A philosophy. Jesus never looked at a particular philosophy, program, or strategy and told it to make disciples. We, on the other hand, tend to be fascinated with the newest and best; we assume that if one particular strategy works in one church that it can be the magic pill in our own setting to manufacture disciples.

Are you seeing the theme? None of these three things are wrong in and of themselves, and yet none of them can be trusted to do what Jesus has uniquely called and equipped His people to do.

So when we set out to create another tool, we wanted to make one that wouldn’t replace God’s people but would equip them to make disciples in a way as unique as they are. At smallgroup.com, you can quickly build custom Bible studies as unique as your groups. Every study is completely customizable by the church at smallgroup.com, from their aesthetic down to the actual text.

With smallgroup.com, you can get the right study to the right person at just the right time. Tools don’t make disciples; people do. Make sure your people have the right one.



July 27, 2015


This sponsored post was prepared by Nicholas McDonald.

I’ve been in youth ministry for nearly 7 years, and I’ve ministered to droves of parents and students. I could tell you all kinds of stories - good, bad, redemptive, hilarious, and heart-breaking. As I’ve surveyed these interactions, however, a single summarizing word comes to mind: “shocked”.

MY kid is looking at porn? NO!”

“My girl would NEVER do that to someone else. She’s such a sweetheart!”

“My boy using drugs? I don’t think so…”

And then I show them the website. I give them tangible evidence of what she did. I pull out the bag of weed. And then I watch the world melt before the parent’s eyes. “I just never thought my _______ was capable of something like that.” 

I’m left shocked as well - not because parents are foolish, or because students are sinful. I’m shocked that parents are shocked. “How could they have missed that? Wasn’t it obvious? How many context clues does it take? How many comments and raised eyebrows from others? How many obvious lies?” 

It’s a frustrating and disheartening experience for all involved. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The #1 Difference Maker

Over the years, I’ve also been blessed to see students who are real with their parents. Despite the pull of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat to create multiple well-crafted identities, these students are real. They confess their flaws and grow closer to God and their families through them.

What’s the difference? 

The #1 difference is this: ”real” students come from safe homes. Put simply, a safe home is a place where it’s okay to fail. In fact, it’s expected, and embraced. Rather than excusing their children’s sin or “fixing” it, these parents resolve to love their children through imperfection. And that’s the #1 way to keep our children real.  

Are You a Safe Parent?

You can find out by answering these questions:

1. Do you expect your child to fail? The gospel tells us that our kids are sinful from birth (Psalm 51:5). We do our kids a disservice when we anesthetize ourselves to their failure. If students are afraid they’ll disappoint their parents’ naive expectations, home might be a nice place, but it’s not a safe place. So: 

When others are critical of your child, are you defensive or (cautiously) receptive?

Do you constantly find yourself excusing your child’s behavior? Do you “cover up” your child’s failures (read: homework), or keep them from situations where they will fail?

Or do you encourage your student to share their failure, and help walk them through it?

Faker 2. Do you respond with grace to your child’s failure? In my new book Faker*, I talk about two ways to deal with sin: “fix it” or “forget it.” As parents, we’re often tempted to “fix” our child’s sin through emotional manipulation. But this is a band-aid solution. The right response to our children’s failure is found in the good news of the gospel: grace. So: 

Do you blow up at your child when they fail, or clam up in silence (both bad!)? 

Do you appeal to self-pity when your children fail (Look what I’ve done for you, and you…)? 

Or do you insist on showing your child a foolish, grace-infused love smack in the middle of their failure?

3. Are you “real” with your kids about your failures? We parents aren’t recruited by God to be professional Pharisees for our children. It’s no good pretending to be perfect in front of our kids - they’ll either feel discouraged for not measuring up, or see through it and feel duped. So:

Do you regularly share with your children how Jesus is growing and stretching you?

Do you ask your kids for forgiveness?

Do you pray with and for your kids, showing your dependence on God?

Parents who expect failure, respond with grace, and set an example of repentance are “safe” parents. But they’re not super-hero parents. They’ve simply embraced the gospel for themselves: they know they are sinners, and they know Jesus is their safe-place. Jesus isn’t waiting for us parents to succeed - he loves us in our failure. Our justification doesn’t depend on our children’s success. It depends on His - and He’s already succeeded, at the cross. As we embrace this truth, we become sanctuaries for our children. And as we allow them to be real in their failure, we become instruments of grace in His hands. 

I’d love to hear more ideas - what are some ways you’ve made your home a “safe” place for your kids – to fail?

Nicholas McDonald has been ministering to youth for nearly 7 years, and is completing his M.Div at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He blogs at scribblepreach.comFor more on encouraging your students to be real, check out his new book, “Faker”*. 

*Faker is published today by those awfully nice people at The Good Book Company. Order online here.



July 20, 2015



This sponsored post was prepared by Dr. Jack Kinneer, Adjunct Professor of New Testament Studies and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

Learning Greek has traditionally been one of the most challenging subjects in a seminary education, sure to bring hours of blood, sweat, and tears to even the most diligent students.  At The Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (RPTS), Dr. Jack Kinneer is developing a multimedia, web-based approach to learning ancient Greek, rather than using a printed textbook.  The Greek grammar website has all the resources of a printed beginning grammar for Greek, but those resources are multimedia in form rather than just written prose. The resources are in formats readable by PCs, Macs, iPads, iPhones, Android tablets, and other smart phones.

Multimedia resources allow for new and better ways to learn an ancient language. To learn how to write the letters of the Greek alphabet, the student does not need to struggle to understand a prose description of how to form a letter. Instead, he watches a short video where he sees the letter being written on parchment and hears a description of how the letter is written. He is then instructed to watch the video again, with pen and paper ready to write the letters as he sees them written. He can watch and practice as many times as needed to learn the letters.

Vocabulary is available in multiple forms including printable lists and electronic flashcards that work on computers, iPads, tablets, and smart phones.  On an iPad, for example, the electronic flashcards are “flipped” with just a swipe of the finger. There are video versions of the flashcards where the student sees the word and hears it pronounced, both in Greek and English. Plug the ear phones into your iPhone and listen to the vocabulary as you go for a jog or take your lunch break.

Basic paradigms are learned using similar techniques. Paradigms to be memorized exist in the same format as the electronic flashcards and as brief videos. Grammar lessons are videos of screen presentations where the student sees and hears the sentence. When a word is discussed, the paradigm of endings used on that word appears on screen. Arrows and outline boxes guide the student’s eye to the details discussed. Additionally, the screen content of the video is available to the student as a PDF.

In the classroom, the student has access to a PDF form of the video lessons which he reviewed beforehand as homework. A student, with any device he chooses to use, can view the PDF on his tablet or laptop as the PDF is also projected on the classroom screen. As questions are asked and explanations provided, the student can identically annotate his copy of the PDF, so he has a “marked up” copy for study and review.

Video lessons are intentionally kept short (5-7 minutes), so students can digest the material in “snack-sized” units, or watch a series of videos for a “meal-sized” experience like a traditional 50-minute classroom lecture. Because the video units are short, a student can review just those units where he needs further study, saving time and streamlining the learning experience.

The traditional classroom is based around a 50-minute lecture. This is not always the best format for learning a language. In our program at RPTS, the student watches the assigned short videos before class as homework. This material is then reviewed in class allowing for student questions. Much of the classroom time can then be given to actually reading Greek.

Quizzing, an unpleasant but necessary part of language study, also has multiple forms. Besides the mandatory in class quiz to be turned in for evaluation, the student can print out quizzes with answer keys to check his work or take a quiz online that checks the answers automatically.

With freedom from the constraints of printed textbooks, there is opportunity to rename various parts of Greek grammar with names that are both obvious in meaning and easily remembered. Of course, all the traditional terminology is included as well so that the student can use traditional grammatical resources in the library. Likewise, the order of learning is flexible, since it not based on chapter-sized units.  The student learns a few pronouns and then a few verbs; by the third week of class, he is reading simple Greek sentences and gaining confidence in his ability to learn Greek.

Click here for a sample lesson: https://youtu.be/1zJ7twvimdM

For more information about RPTS, call 412.731.6000 or go to www.rpts.eduRPTS - Study Under Pastors.


July 13, 2015


This sponsored post was written by Daniel Abraham of Avant Ministries.

Breaking the Myth of Islam

What is religion? Many people may think they know the answer, but in the halls of academia the term religion has several definitions. One of these definitions I subscribe to is a functional definition by the theologian Paul Tillich that religion is an ultimate concern. 

I grew up during the Iraq-Iran war. The bombs falling around us made death a tangible reality to me. Death was imminent, real, and near. I was ultimately concerned with death and the solution for death resided in the faith of my childhood (Islam). Islam says that there is a life after death with reward or punishment for what you do in this life. This life became nothing but a temporary place of preparation and a test for the eternal life in heaven or hell.

I held these Islamic religious views because I inherited them from my family and my society. I accepted them as the ultimate truth, just as a child accepts by faith that Santa Claus is real and that he has this omnipresence to deliver Christmas gifts to all children everywhere in one night. As silly as this may sound to an adult, to a child who has faith in this myth it is unquestionable truth. 

The Bible, the best spell breaker, disenchanted me with Islam. Being disenchanted from a myth can lead to two actions: rejecting the myth or accepting the myth as a beneficial tradition that you know is not true but like to keep (like the case of Santa Claus). Rejecting does not mean one is adopting a new belief. In my case, rejecting Islam did not lead to an automatic conversion to Christ; it was a process to break free from the myth that imprisoned my mind. You could read how this happened to me here, or sign up for missions news here.

For me, conversion was accepting new beliefs as truth after rejecting the old ones. I was awakened to the truth, until my soul yearned and earnestly sought God in the darkness of the night of that spiritual affliction. 

Spiritual Effects of Terrorism

The affliction which has awakened Muslims and continues to awake them these days is terrorism performed in the name of Islam.

Until recently, most “peaceful” Muslims rejected the terror of the militants and said that these terrorists are a small group of misled Muslims who do not understand the true teachings of Islam. 

Then, Muslims themselves became the target of terrorism. The rise of extremist militant groups, like ISIS, took over Muslims territories and embossed on them their strict version of Islam. Increasingly, Iraqi and Syrian Muslims are rejecting Islam because of the cruelty and the legalism of the terrorists who claim to subscribe to the pure version of Islam.

I met several of these rejectionists in Turkey; many of them are from the city of Raqqa in Syria, the declared caliphate capital of ISIS. They told me how they are no longer could believe in Islam because they saw first-hand the fruit of strictly following it. As Jesus’s warned against false prophets: “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” Mt 7:16

Most of these rejectionist Muslims are not yet converts to Christ. They are tired of religion. Currently, they are ultimately concerned with the well-being of this life. 

Many of these Muslims admire Jesus. To them He is a man of peace, who instructed his followers to turn the other cheek. Jesus is a moral man who never sought to establish an earthly kingdom, like Muhammad did. Some Muslims even accept that Jesus died on the cross, that He was obedient to the point of death. Still, they do not yet know Him as their Lord and Savior.

Those refugees who fled ISIS territories are the most ready to accept Christ. The deep grip of Islam is broken they are mostly without faith. In a way, they still believe in God. They are not agnostic or atheists but mostly deists who are longing for a faith to embrace to fill the void left by Islam. 

Now is the time for us to bring Muslims the good news of Christ. Christ is the only one big enough to fill that void in their hearts and minds.

More Information

Click here to sign up for news about Muslim ministries and missions efforts through Avant Ministries.


July 06, 2015


Learn More…in Less Time!

Some people love to learn but don’t necessarily enjoy the act of reading…while others love to read but can’t find the time to read all those enticing books! Does this describe you? If so, or if you just want to learn more and save time, then the book summaries at Books At a Glance will help you to read more quality, Christian books…in less time!

What Are Book Summaries?

A book summary is similar to the “executive summary” concept that’s so popular in the business world; it condenses the main points, thoughts, and arguments of a book into bite-sized pieces, so that you can get the gist of the entire book in only the time that it takes you to read the 7 – 10 page summary.  

>>> Fill Out This Form to Get a FREE Audio Book Summary! <<<

What’s the Difference Between a Book Summary and a Book Review?

booksataglance.comBook reviews are very valuable, however they generally merely assess the book, whereas a book summary will enable you to become thoroughly familiar with the key points in a book in just 7-10 pages, so that you will easily learn the main points of the book in just one sitting and so that you will be certain that you’re making a wise decision before purchasing the book. Click HERE to get immediate access to a FREE Book Summary!

Keep Current & Informed of the Newest and Best of Christian Books 

Keeping up with the massive onslaught of quality Christian books can be overwhelming! However, with the book summaries from Books At a Glance, you will finally be able to keep current with hand-selected, quality Christian books with virtually no infringement on your (already) busy schedule! With these book summaries, you’ll learn and grow, and you’ll also keep current with the “hot” books that your fellow parishioners are reading…”hot” books that may or may not be helpful to them! Their goal is to keep you informed.

You’ll Get Immediate Access to 1-2 Books Summaries Every Week…Delivered Right to Your Inbox!

Whether you’re reading or listening to these book summaries from your computer or on-the-go from your mobile device on our mobile-friendly website, these book summaries will keep you informed of new and significant Christian books. These books are hand-selected by Fred Zaspel and the Books At a Glance staff, and summarized by our well-qualified staff of pastors and professors. 

Come, Learn and Keep Current!

Go to www.BooksAtaGlance.com right away to register and gain access to these valuable summaries. They will help you learn more, faster, and you will no longer be frustrated by not being able to keep up with good Christian publications!

For Your First FREE Summary, go to http://booksataglance.com/register  and enjoy learning NOW!


June 29, 2015


This sponsored post was prepared by Dr. Frank Turek.

Stealing from GodWhat if your best reasons to doubt God show that He actually exists? What if atheists, properly understood, are actually unwitting apologists for the God they reject? That’s exactly what I unpack in my new book Stealing from God: Why atheists need God to make their case.

To briefly mention just two examples from the seven in the book, when atheists cite reason and science as providing evidence against God, they are actually stealing from God to argue against Him. That is, reason and science use aspects of reality that wouldn’t exist if atheism were true. Theism can explain them, but atheism cannot.

Atheists claim to be champions of reason. They even organize “reason” rallies and call themselves “free thinkers.” The problem is there is no “free” or thinking going on if atheism is true. If we are just molecules in motion as atheistic materialism asserts, then we are nothing but moist robots whose every thought is the result of the non-rational laws of physics. “Free thinking” can’t exist in such a world. So why should we believe anything the atheist thinks or says, including his thoughts about atheism?

Without an ability to think freely, science is lost too. As C. S. Lewis put it, “Unless human reasoning is valid no science can be true,” which would include the science of prominent atheists, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins, and everyone else. Prominent atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel admits this. He writes, “Evolutionary naturalism provides an account of our capacities that undermines their reliability, and in doing so undermines itself.” (That’s why Nagel is personally looking for a more plausible worldview than materialism.)

Atheists try to use immaterial entities—such as the laws of logic and our ability to reason—while claiming nothing immaterial exists. Yet logic and reason are well explained by a theistic God whose very nature is rational—”in the beginning was the Word” (or rationality) as the opening line of John’s gospel declares.

The beginning is also better explained by theism. Atheism cannot account for this fine-tuned universe that burst into existence out of nothing (not a quantum vacuum but literally no-thing). Since space-time and matter had a beginning, then the cause must be beyond space-time and matter. In fact, a spaceless, timeless, immaterial, powerful, and intelligent being seems necessary to create this universe with the exceedingly precise laws and constants it has.

Those fine-tuned natural laws are not only required for the universe to exist, but they are critical to our ability to do science. We couldn’t do science if natural laws weren’t held constant. Why do all physical things change, but not the natural laws that govern them? The best explanation is a rational Law Giver who created and sustains the universe in which we live.

So even if the atheist’s favorite anti-God argument—macroevolution—is true, they still have to rely on God for it. The very process of natural selection requires the existence and persistence of natural laws that are best explained by a Creator and Sustainer.

Now, I’m not saying atheists can’t do science. Obviously they can. What I am saying is that atheists are unwittingly stealing tools from God in order to do science. In fact, since we can do science very well, the atheistic worldview must be false. Thus, the war is not between science and religion, but between science and atheism.

The bottom line is that atheism cannot be shown to be true in principle. It has destroyed all the tools necessary to do the job. In order to construct any valid argument for atheism, the atheist has to steal tools from God’s universe because no such tools exist in the world of atheism. Atheists must steal from the very Being who makes reason and science possible in the first place. 

Click to learn more about Stealing From God.


June 22, 2015


WILDThis sponsored post is provided by AccessTruth.

Despite the title, this post and the resources it presents won’t introduce some new, out of control or outrageous way of achieving growth and fruit in the church. It isn’t the latest and greatest addition to the many strategies out there that make such extravagant claims. And although it may not claim to evangelize an entire people group with a mobile app, that doesn’t mean it isn’t exciting.

Where does “WILD” fit in then? Well, it happens to be a helpful acronym for a framework made up of 4 categories:


This framework is about working alongside God’s Spirit, drawing on the authority of Jesus, unleashing the power of His Word and activating the Body of Christ. And that is nothing short of exhilarating, whatever the challenges may be.

Perhaps you’ve joined the growing chorus of voices these days who are questioning the many models for evangelism and church planting out there that promise broadest reach, quickest results and biggest numbers. Of course, none of us who are serious about God’s purposes want to prematurely dismiss something that claims to “work”. But as we listen to these claims, it’s more than valid for us to respond with, “Okay, you say that it works, but what were you trying to do in the first place…what will we be successful in?”

WILDWe have all been called - or perhaps more appropriately, sent - to be Christ’s co-workers in his great work of constructing his Building (or Temple), bringing his Body to maturity, and preparing his Bride. This presents the most amazing opportunity, but it also represents an awesome responsibility. That is what Paul was talking about in his 1 Corinthians 3 “expert builder” passage, where he shares about his own careful approach while cautioning other builders to work in a similar way.

So, it’s perfectly valid to ask, “What works?” but it has to be in the light of the Architect’s vision and according to his standards for construction. It has to be about the way he communicates truth as the great Communicator (Word); who he says he is and who we are (Identity); the kind of life that he wants to produce in and through his people (Life); and the intentional relationships his Son calls us into with himself and others (Discipleship). 

The WILD framework is grounded in that perspective. It asks 20 main questions (with another 60 supplementary questions) to help set objectives for any context in which God’s Word is being shared on a consistent basis. It was developed by experienced church planters who have had over a decade of seeing it applied in a range of contexts worldwide, and have continued to hone this tool accordingly.

The framework is designed as a stand-alone resource that can be understood and applied by anyone. It is available as a free download (download here). But, for those who want a more in-depth introduction to the underlying principles and concepts this method encapsulates, a set of 22 tutorials (available in PDF and Video) have been developed. These make up Module 7 of the AccessTruth material that is itself a comprehensive curriculum for Biblical, Communication, Church and Contextual Foundations. This Module, introducing the WILD framework, is proving to be valuable for personal study, missions courses, and churches equipping members for leadership or church planting roles.


June 15, 2015


This sponsored post was prepared by Professor Barry York, Dean of Faculty at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

I knew the day would come.

Burning BowlMy life, like yours, is becoming increasingly a digital one. I am moving away from filing papers to storing items electronically. I knew one day those three big, rusting, steel filing cabinets in our basement, sitting there like artifacts in a museum in that they remind you of the past but are rarely visited, would be emptied and removed. Why keep paper files of items already stored on multiple devices and backed up in the cloud?

The past few days it finally happened. A desire to declutter our basement drove me to it. What satisfaction it was to haul those cabinets out to the curb and, literally within minutes, have someone stop by in a pickup truck and take them away to be scrapped.

Yet the joy of being free of the cabinets’ bulkiness turned into unexpected melancholy as I pulled the wagon filled with their contents over to the fire pit. Now it was time to burn these papers, which mostly meant for me watching over two decades of my sermons go up in flames.

My mentor had taught me his sermon writing tips, which I dutifully practiced over the years. Half sheets of paper worked best, as you could tuck them into your Bible. That way, you could carry them securely in place without them sticking out. Once preached, sliding them into 6 x 9 inch manila envelopes made for good storage. So much of my life and ministry were on those pages.

I lit the fire. I watched as the flames first teasingly licked slowly over the files and envelopes, as if not quite sure of the taste. But then they picked up a hungry intensity and began to eat away at the contents. As I threw small bundles of envelopes on the fire, titles of messages caught my attention. Like the bursts of flame, flashes of emotion struck my heart as the titles brought to mind occasions, peoples’ faces, or a particular preaching moment. Sometimes an envelope would burn off and, as if the fire was preaching back to me my own message, one page would be exposed, begin to darken around the edges, then peel off into the flames to reveal the next page.

Dusk came. Ashes floated through the air, the white flakes gently landing around our yard prompting inquiries from my children. When told what they were from, they responded with some of the same sadness I was feeling and then went on with their evening.

As darkness fell, I reflected more on the nature of preaching. Is it not to be a sacrifice by fire, an offering to the Lord that one prays is blessed by the Spirit’s fiery power to touch hearts and lives of the hearers? Are not the opportunities to preach quite limited? Is not the preaching moment itself so fleeting? More melancholy came over me there in the dark by the fire, as I thought of so many failings in sincerity, in urging, in preaching for conversions, in mindfulness of the eternity that every hearer faces, in upholding the greatness of our God who Himself is a consuming fire. Prayers of repentance ascended up with the smoke and flames.

To celebrate the end of the school year, some students in my homiletics class and I arranged to watch a documentary on D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ life and ministry. What moved us most was hearing Lloyd-Jones’ actual voice, as portions of his recorded sermons played as scenes of an empty Westminster Chapel moved across the screen. You could hear in his voice a holy, humble, growing intensity as he proclaimed in simple sincerity God’s Word, and imagined what it would have been like to sit there and be moved by the Spirit speaking through him. The movie’s title, a phrase from Lloyd-Jones’ own concise definition of what true preaching is, was apt: Logic on Fire.

No, we preachers cannot all be a Lloyd-Jones nor should we strive to be. Yet in this short life can we not pray that more of that Spirit that lit him would ignite the hearts of men across the land that step behind our pulpits? Can we not pray that every Lord’s Day and throughout the week true sacrifices by fire would be offered in their preaching? That ministers like the prophets of old would be having such encounters with God that they speak with His fire? As another preacher once said, if we want revival, it needs to be brought to the pulpit.

Learn more about Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary at RPTS.edu.