Being A Peaceful Believer

The scripture teaches Christians to be at peace with all people. If we are truly following the Golden Rule we will be fulfilling this command. I have been asked on numerous occasions if Christians can be friends with non Christians.

The answer is Yes. If Christians are to engage the culture we must be willing to live a life that reflects outward the tenants of the faith. Christians need to dialogue with people from all walks of life and embrace people in a positive peaceful manner.

The Power Of Listening In A Distracted World

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As a pastor you walk with people not only in the joyous moments of life but also in the saddest of times. When I was new to being a pastor I was nervous about how to talk to people who were experiencing  a difficult season in their life. I was afraid that I would not have the right words to say or the right biblical counselling to apply to their current situation.

However, in time I quickly learned the power of just listening. I realized I was not expected to have all the answers, just being their for a person and listening to them as they communicate what they are going through is very powerful.

The world we live in today is filled with distractions. As technology progresses the ability to communicate has never been easier. But there seems to be a disconnect in the way people communicate in the modern world. They prefer digital communication to face to face communication. The ease of digital communication is erasing the need for face to face communication and in many ways even verbal communication.

Communication technologies can be a powerful tool. Our world is built around such technologies. They help keep businesses running and provide individuals with fast effective ways to communicate with family and friends. However, I have found there is something unique about face to face communication.

Taking time to be there for an individual and listen to them as they explain their current situation is far more powerful then communicating through electronic devices. The next time someone wants to talk to you about something that is happening in their life, perhaps arrange a meeting at a coffee shop. And don’t worry about what to say, just being there and listening will be enough.  

The Age Of Depression

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We live in an age of depression. Millions of people suffer from depression, anxiety, and a slew of other emotional and psychological illnesses. The question that comes to mind is why? Is it a product of genetics, or is it a product of the conditions in our life? I suspect the answer is probably both.  Genetic predispositions can be exacerbated by stressful life situations. I wish I could reach out and tell people who are suffering that I know the solution to their problem, that I had the magic cure for their illness however, that is not the case.

The Mayo Clinic website defines depression as “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called Major Depressive Disorder or Clinical Depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living” (www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20356007).

If you yourself or someone you know is battling depression it may come as a  relief to know that you can improve your situation.  First and foremost it is recommended that you seek the guidance from a medical professional.  Do not feel embarrassed as this is a true illness just as any other illness.  Treatment is available in the form of medication and therapy and can help alleviate the symptoms associated with the illness.

Secondly, it can be beneficial to reach out to others in your circle that you feel comfortable with and share with them what you are battling.  It helps to know that you are not alone.  Everyone at one point in their life or another battles some form of depression, anxiety or stress.  Retrain your mind to focus on the good as positive thoughts are powerful.  If you find yourself in a stressful situation, find a quiet place to pray and and relax.

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things arelovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these thing” Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

 

How to Study the Bible: Five Tips To Enhance Your Scripture Study

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Studying the Bible can seem like a daunting task to the most mature Christian. The Bible is composed of 66 books and it’s broken down into 2 main sections, the Old Testament and New Testament. I have received comments from Christians throughout the years that they want to study the Bible but just don’t understand it. This is understandable, as the Bible was written over a large portion of time and contains aspects of 3 different languages. The 2 main languages being Hebrew and Greek, and the third language being Aramaic. However, scholars have done the hard work for us and provided English translations that we can use when reading the Bible.

Step#1 (Prayer)

They say the best way to eat an elephant is to do it one bite at a time. With Bible study it is best to take it one verse, chapter, and book at a time. The first step of scripture study is to first spend time in prayer. Ask God during this time of prayer to have the Holy Spirit help you understand the truth of scripture during your time of study.

Step# 2 (Stay in 1 Book until finished)

 The second step is to select one book of the Bible. The mistake many Christians make is they simply open the Bible and began reading and then the next time they study the Bible they open it up and begin reading and never study one particular book, but just simply read a portion of the Bible here and there. The best way to approach Bible study if you are new Christian is to start in the New Testament, I would recommend reading the book of Matthew. The reason I recommend starting in the New Testament in particularly one of the gospels is because the gospels are a historical account of the life of Jesus Christ.

Step #3 (Historical context)

The 3rd step is to understand that in order to properly understand any ancient writing one must understand the context in which it was written. Therefore, an individual studying scripture needs to familiarize themselves with the context of whatever book they are studying of the Bible. For example the book of Matthew was believed to be written somewhere between mid 50s and early 60s AD. The purpose of the book was to preserve an eyewitness testimony about the ministry of Jesus Christ, secondly it demonstrates Jesus as the Messiah. The reason you find Matthew as the 1st book of the New Testament is because Matthew frequently uses the Old Testament in his gospel account. Matthew does this to demonstrate how Christ is the fulfillment of the OT scriptures. This brief background will provide a reader with a frame of reference to understand the book of Matthew better then they would otherwise. This background information for Matthew can be easily found on the Internet from reputable sites and in many study bibles. Taking just a few minutes to gain a brief understanding of the context will help any individual have a firmer grasp on the Bible

Step#4 (Read then Reread the same book)

When starting a study of a particular book of the Bible. An individual should first read the entire book without stopping to study the text further. This does not have to be done in one study session. What I mean by this is to simply do a surface reading of the book before slowing down to actually study the individual book. Using our example of Matthew a reader would read Matthew chapter 1 through Matthew 28 and then go back to Matthew chapter 1 and read the book slowly. The surface reading of the book may not give the reader an in depth knowledge but it will aid greatly the second reading, as the reader will be better prepared and will retain more knowledge because they will have some what of a familiarization with the book.

Step 5 (Outside Resources)

The 5th step to Bible study is to bring in outside resources as a companion to your reading. Now these secondary resources should never substitute for scripture reading. However when studying a book of the Bible it can be a useful tool to purchase a secondary resource on the book you are studying. Using the example of Matthew a person studying this book could look to purchase a layman’s commentary to help them dig deeper into the book of Matthew. Another great resource to utilize and often can be found free online is to look for sermon series on whatever book you are reading. These outside resources can help a person gain a deeper understanding of the book they are studying.

In conclusion an individual should start their scripture study in prayer. They should select a particular book and study it the whole way through. As part of the study a person needs the gain a historical understanding of the book their studying. The individual should read and reread whatever book of the Bible they’re studying. And lastly an individual should bring in outside resources as a way to supplement their scripture study. By utilizing these 5 tips an individual scripture study will be enhanced.