January Bible Study Preview Recap

The message delivered by Peter has great relevance for today, as more pressure is being exerted on believers around the world. This January Bible Study will be a source of encouragement to believers facing this increasing pressure, reminding them that they are foreigners in a distant land and that one day they will gain the privileges of their heavenly citizenship.  In under 40 minutes Charles Ray will prepare you as you teach 1st Peter.

Dr. Charles Ray PHD is our master teacher as we prepare for January Bible Study. He  is Associate Dean of Research Doctoral Program and Professor of New Testament and Greek at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He spent 7 years at the Korean Baptist Seminary teaching.

Free Resources from Charles Ray:

1 Peter Bibliography
1 Peter Text
1 Peter PowerPoint

How to Disciple Families

While it may be tempting to step aside from parenting and avoid conflict, the Brian Haynes encourages parents to do the hard things. The ultimate goal is to pass on a legacy of faith in God and strengthen the family relationship. Brian Haynes combines practical guidance and solid biblical truth to help parents who are navigating a challenging season of parenting. We know that we should make disciples, but how do we really do that in the context of family.

Session 1: An overview of how to begin teaching parenting and living in a biblical paradigm.

Session 2: Seven Milestones that should be recognized and celebrated in every home.

Four Church-Tested Ideas for Ministering to Widows and Orphans

As a pastor, one of my jobs is to talk with the men who have been nominated to serve as deacons. As a deacon myself, I know the dilemma that many men feel when they get the nod from the church as a candidate for deacon. Jeff, a young entrepreneur in our church reluctantly accepted the call of deacon. He said, “I don’t think I am qualified, I don’t think the timing is right for me personally, but I just can’t seem to shake the feeling that this is something God wants me to do.” Three months later he said to me, “I knew I’d be challenged but I’m realizing that God is doing something new inside me that I never would have experienced if I hadn’t said, ‘yes.’”

The role of a deacon began with a problem and therefore deacons are often thought of as fixers. In the narrative of the early Church, a number of widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. Someone had to step in to preserve the integrity of the gospel. That sounds like a hyperbole. How is a simple problem like food distribution threatening to the gospel? This problem posed a threat because Jesus cared so deeply for struggling people. Therefore we have to care for everyone in our church who finds a seat on the struggle bus.

Widows and orphans are real and symbolic reminders that our world is broken, that suffering and loneliness are palpable, and that the church has the great opportunity to reconcile, heal and transform their community through service and mercy. As deacons, it’s not that we have to do this. We get to do this!

Here are four ideas to help deacons fulfill the biblical mandate of serving widows and orphans.

Plan a Widows’ Banquet

Every spring, our church has a celebration for our widows. The deacons and their wives prepare, cook, serve, entertain and honor our widows. We decorate the Fellowship Hall and then each deacon couple will pick up the widows at their homes escort them to the banquet. The Widows’ Banquet helps us in a number of ways. For most of our deacons, this becomes an opportunity to get to know the widow, to understand their needs, to learn how to assist them and most importantly, to connect spiritually with them.


Another mission that deacons impact in many churches has broad repercussions on the next generation. When we think about orphans, most churches would survey their congregation and say, “Looks like we’re all good on that front. No orphans here!” Look closer. Look into your community and you will find them. The orphans today are the kids in your church who have no spiritual father. They come to church without a dad. They suffer through the chaos and wreckage of a broken home. They are longing to connect with someone who can give them the blessing that their parents were never able to give them. Our youth leaders and Sunday School teachers were vital in assessing these needs. They challenged the deacons to develop a strategy to connect children and students with spiritual mentors from the deacon body. Every year we have deacons attending graduation celebrations after a number of years praying, mentoring and connecting with these students. I know a number of students who have received driving lessons, camp scholarships and scholarship recommendations. I can think of five students who went on to serve in full-time ministry and it’s my firm belief that the mentoring program was a tremendous part of their story.

Support young families in the adoption process

This cultural trend in many churches is cause for celebration. Young couples, burdened by the needs of orphans around the world are choosing to adopt. Often these adoptions are international. Deacons have a biblical challenge to help these inspiring members achieve their God-given mission. The financial toll can be overwhelming for many young couples. Our church and deacon body has joined them by helping them raise funds and celebrated the arrival of these new faces. This dynamic also helps our church family become multicultural. It makes our church look more and more like Heaven – all races, backgrounds and nations!

Partner with widows and widowers in ministry

Just last week I mourned the loss of a great prayer warrior. She was a 92-year-old widow in our church. Every Thursday I would get behind the wheel of her car as she would direct me to the homes of the elderly members of our church. She turned the afternoon into a prayer event as we visited and prayed. I thought this would be a ministry to her but was I ever wrong! Vivian was a blessing to me. Vivian threw all her energies into her new ministry of mercy and prayer. I remember her in the elevators of hospitals, in Bush Jewelers, and other places around town praying for strangers. She had a knack for discerning what was going on in people’s lives before she heard it from them. Vivian was an old school card-writer, spending hours purchasing and writing cards by hand and mailing them out. She wasn’t on Facebook. She didn’t need Facebook. She preferred face-to-face conversations. Vivian did as much if not more, than I did in ministering to her sisters grafted together through the loss of their spouses. I am sure there are Vivians in your church whose life will be extended because you partnered with them to minister to their friends.

Finally, get organized

Know what the plan for ministering to widows and orphans is. Create smart assignments for connecting deacons with widows. Chart out whom on your deacon ministry team would have the best success in mentoring to children and students. Here are a few tips:

  • Avoid overstating the plan to the church. Keep the plan soft-spoken. Otherwise it will sound obligatory or forced.
  • Encourage accountability. The main focus of every deacons meeting should be reporting, celebrating and praying about the ministry strategy. So many deacons meetings are derailed by petty issues! Keep the main focus of your Deacon Ministry Team about the task of service. Otherwise, you’ll miss the whole point.
  • Adapt the plan with time. Ministry to widows and orphans is fundamentally fluid. You’ll have to change throughout the year, so remind your Deacon Team to be flexible and adaptable so that you don’t have the same issues that arouse with the controversy of the Hellenistic widows in Acts 6.

Like Jeff, most deacons struggle with time demands, agendas, and priorities. Having a strategy in place allows us to do the work of a deacon, which ultimately will change the lives of widows and orphans and the deacon who is obedient to the call.

Prayer Boot Camp Resources

If you missed the Prayer Bootcamp, here’s some content to help you as you develop a prayer strategy in your church. These brief clips will inspire and aid you to begin making your church a House of Prayer.

For more resources visit: http://blog.lifeway.com/growingdisciples/

The Ultimate Fixer Upper Reveal

I just finished reading Joanna and Chip Gaines, The Magnolia Story. By the way, it’s a great read, even for guys like me that end up as accidental HGTV viewers. In the book, the Gaines share amazing stories of how their lives intersected and through courage, faith and perseverance God began to build things in their lives that they never dreamed would happen.

For me there is a biblical moment in every one of their shows, It’s the big reveal. They bring the home owners by their newly redesigned house with a huge photo of the pre-renovated house masking its fresh paint, new porch, replaced shutters and new landscaping. Of course, it’s the dramatic climax of every show as they roll the huge photo away, a moment complete with tears, hugs and ‘wow’s.

The biblical moment for me is the connection we find in Ezekiel 40 when God reveals to Ezekiel the New City and the New Temple.

He brought me there (to the new city). In visions of God, He took me to the land of Israel and set me down on a very high mountain. On its southern slope was a structure resembling a city. Ezekiel 40:1-3 (CSB)

This was God’s big reveal as he walked Ezekiel through the New City and Temple which represent a time when we all will see the glory of God’s perfect work. Complete with eye-popping design, renovation and beauty.

I’m reminded that this world is  a fixer upper. The societal landscape is full of weeds, leaky pipes, stained carpet, faulty tile, and messy closets. They present themselves as lies, injustice, starvation, human trafficking, hypocrisy, hate and dirty politics. But even now, God is at work.

We have the same responsibility that Ezekiel received in verse 4:

He spoke to me: “Son of man, look with your eyes, listen with your ears, and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for you have been brought here so that I might show it to you. Report everything you see.”

We get to share the big reveal of our soon-to-be home, that Jesus is preparing. It’s what we do as believers.

Remember His promise?

 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you.  If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.  You know the way to where I am going.

I don’t know about you, but after a rough year of lies, violence, injustice, terror, and protests, I’m ready for our new digs. In the meantime, let’s do the two things He’s asked us to do. Do “big reveals” of the Kingdom to come and  pick up a hammer and renovate the fixer upper we have in front of our eyes today.

Read the original post here

January Bible Study

Dr. Archie W. England

Dr. Archie W. England

Year after year, churches across the country discover that a great way to start the new year is with the annual January Bible Study. These short-term studies bring the entire church together around one biblical topic. And it isn’t just for January. In fact, it’s flexible enough to use any month, any day of the week, with any age group.

DR. ARCHIE W. ENGLAND is Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, occupying the J. Wash Watts Chair of Old Testament and Hebrew. He also serves as pastor of Grace Community Baptist Church





ReGroup Conference Resources

Baptists are good at talking about what we should do and how to do it, but do you remember WHY you do what you do? We exist to glorify God. We glorify God when we make disciples. We make disciples by sharing the gospel with the lost, developing biblical community, helping believers to mature spiritually and equipping believers to live missionally.

Bible Study Impacts Lives

Adult Sunday School and Small Group teachers want to see lives changed through Bible study.

Jesus and Ezra have provided teachers with powerful and creative ideas to teach the Word of God.

This resource was prepared to help experienced teachers, as well as new teachers, to grow in their understanding of Scripture and in ways of teaching their class/group members toward transformation.



Staying Connected

Brochure CoverWe all want to see church membership grow. But what makes members stick? This brochure offers ideas, stats, strategies and reminders that will keep your church added and keeping new people. Don’t allow your church’s momentum to be stifled by lack of planning, attentiveness, or prayer. This timely read will motivate your team to take that extra step to reach and retain their people in small groups and Sunday School.

Staying Connected

Experiencing God Resources

The 2016 Featured Doctrinal Study for Louisiana Baptists is Experiencing God.

We are challenging a new generation to rediscover the power and transformation of this movement.

Experiencing God guides learners to experience the kind of relationship with God through which they come to know and do His will.

Through examination of biblical and contemporary illustrations, participants will understand and apply seven realities of experiencing God. Churches will be helped to better function as the body of Christ as members understand how to experience God as a church (13 sessions).

Listen to Tom Blackaby talk about life, ministry and Experiencing God.

Dr. Tom Blackaby is the second son of Henry and Marilynn Blackaby and served for the past 8 years as the International Director for Blackaby Ministries International. In August, 2015, Tom became Senior Pastor of Brookswood Baptist Church in Vancouver, BC. He will continue to be available to speak as part of the BMI team.