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25 Small Group Facilitator Tips Small Groups Uncategorized

Facilitator Tip #17 – Begin and End on Time

John Calvin was a Swiss reformer and contemporary to the well-known Martin Luther (Calvin is twenty-six years younger than Martin Luther).

In the city of Geneva, jewelers and goldsmiths made crucifixes, chalices, and other items that people were reverent to and sometimes even worshipped. When John Calvin had political influence in the city of Geneva, one thing he instituted was a Consistoire, or “ecclesiastical court.” This “court” got rid of jewelers and goldsmiths making crucifixes, chalices, and other instruments serving papacy and idolatry. However, John Calvin allowed the clockmakers to stay.

In John Calvin’s mind, timeliness was a virtue because a Christian was not supposed to let minutes go unused for the Lord. In Calvin’s theology, every Christian would have to give an account to God for every moment of his life, and the personal clock was a way to help Christians make the most of the time they had.[ref]Jennifer McNutt, and David Lauber, The People’s Book, p. 100.[/ref]

Similar to John Calvin and his reverence for time, you too, as a small group facilitator, need to make the most of the time you have in your group meetings. However, be sure to begin and end on time.


Starting and Ending on Time Is Your Responsibility as the Facilitator

As the small group facilitator, you are the leader of your group. The king of Israel, David, reminds us about the limited time we have and how we must make the most of it,

2 Thessalonians Bible Uncategorized

An Introduction to 2 Thessalonians

The big idea (and themes) of 2 Thessalonians is similar to Paul’s first letter to the Christians in the city of Thessalonica. But 2 Thessalonians provides some much needed clarification on a few topics. Here are some of my notes on the book as well as a chart I created for the book. Blessings on you as you study Paul’s second letter to the Christians in the city of Thessalonica. Chart of 2 Thessalonians


The Christian life consists of studying God’s Word, enduring suffering now, while also looking to the future return of Christ.


With all these things in mind, dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you both in person and by letter. (2 Thessalonians 2:15, NLT)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers[ref]Greek from every brother.[/ref] who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received[ref]Some manuscripts read you received.[/ref] from us. (2 Thessalonians 3:6, NLT)

Soteriology Theology Uncategorized

Soteriology: Christ on the Cross

For most of my life I have enjoyed playing golf. Golf courses often “aerate” their tee boxes, fairways, and greens. This is a process in which a machine punches holes in the ground and removes a small amount of dirt from those holes. The better quality golf courses aerate more often, while smaller less maintained golf courses do this less often.[ref]When I worked as a caddie at a very nice private golf course in Texas while in seminary it seemed like we were aerating something every month.[/ref]

The simple act of removing a small amount of dirt from the ground provides five benefits to the well traveled soil and grass that golfers use. One benefit is that it allows much needed nutrients (air, water, and fertilizer) to get to the root zone under the surface of the ground. Another benefit is that it reduces thatch buildup. Thatch is a layer of dead grass that can prevent important nutrients from getting to the soil. An additional benefit of aeration is that it relieves soil compaction. Severely compacted soil prevents air, water, and fertilizer from reaching the grass’s root system. Another benefit of aeration is that it helps with over seeding. When you are trying to over seed (laying seed on existing grass) aeration allows for that seed to penetrate the soil and germinate. A final benefit of aeration is that it prepares grass for going dormant in the winter and/or a green spring. If your grass goes dormant in the winter you want it to be as strong as possible, and aerating helps strengthen it. Additionally, aerating gives grass a fertile environment to grow when spring comes. [ref]”7 Benefits of Lawn Aeration” by TruGreen, Accessed October 1, 2019.[/ref]

You have probably heard pastors say that “Jesus died for your sins on the Cross.” My point in sharing about aeration above is that, yes, Jesus did die for your sins on the cross. But, he accomplished much more than that on the cross. Similar to how that one act of aeration provides five benefits to grass, Christ’s death on the cross accomplished five things for us. Let’s take a look at those. 

Soteriology - What Christ Did on the Cross

Photo Credit: “Christ Dies on the Cross” by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (1727-1804)

Christ on the Cross


Christ died in our place and took the sinners’ just punishment.

A. Old Testament Backgrounds on Substitution

The idea of substitution is woven throughout the Old Testament. Here are some examples of substitution in the Old Testament. 


December Biblical Studies Carnival

For the December Biblical Studies Carnival I am sharing posts from the four categories that I write about: Bible, theology, small groups, and leadership. Enjoy!




  • Disciple Making in Small Groups. As usual, Allen White provides some biblical and practical tips. 
  • Five Ways to Evaluate Group Health. Reid Smith is the small groups pastor of a large healthy church. In this blog post he gives some good tips for not just looking at how many groups you have, but how healthy they are.
  • The Future of Disciple Making. Another great post from Allen White, a guy that has been in the trenches doing small groups and disciple making for a couple decades.
  • Cinnamon Rolls and Wild Truck Rides. A good reminder that disciple making is about building relationships with people and not seeing them as projects.
  • The Oreo Method of Discipleship. Another great video and tip for doing small group ministry by Kiersten Telzerow.
  • The Seven Basics to Develop in Those You Disciple. A great summary of some of the basic things that we need to help Christians grow.
  • Five Things to Do in January to Connect More People in 2019. Mark Howell always gives great small group tips.
  • Update Your Resume. An interesting point in the post that “you haven’t made a disciple until your disciple has made a disciple.”


  • Question: Is there an article or blog post I missed? If so, leave a comment below with a link.

Next month Jim West will be hosting the January Biblical Studies Carnival.

Theology Trinitarianism Uncategorized

Trinitarianism: The Being of God

As an introduction study to the topic of Trinitarianism, in today’s post we are looking at the communicable and incommunicable attributes of God. These might be new terms for you, but they basically mean two things:

  • Communicable Attributes – These are the things that God shares with humans to some degree.
  • Incommunicable Attributes – These are the things that God does not share with finite humanity.

Sometimes, in our effort to understand God we “shrink” God. For example, we might see God as a policeman, ill-humored parent, grand old man, heavenly bosom, or distant unloving father. Based on our physical experiences here on earth we might use those “lenses” to try to understand our God. In this post I want to give a thorough and clear explanation of the being of God.

Photo Credit: “Holy Trinity” by Hendrick van Balen

The Being of God


First, I would like to look at the attributes of God that we more easily can understand because we share  them to some degree. Let’s take a look at God’s communicable attributes.

A. God Is Truth

In Jesus’s prayer to God just before he was betrayed he asks God to help his disciples. He prays to God asking,

Bible Revelation Uncategorized

God and the Lamb Are Praised (Rev 7:9-17)


A. Past Lessons

B. Text of Rev 7:9-17

“9After this I looked and behold: A great crowd which no one was able to count. The crowd was from every ethnicity, nation, people, and language and stood before the throne and before the Lamb wearing white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10They cried out in a loud voice saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God—the one who sits on the throne—and to the Lamb.’ 11All the angels stood around the throne, the elders, the four living beings, and they fell before the throne on their faces and they worshipped God 12saying, ‘Amen! Praise, honor, wisdom, thanksgiving, reverence, power, and strength to our God forever and ever. Amen!’ 13Then one of the elders asked me, ‘Who are these clothed in long white robes and where did they come from?’ 14Then I replied to him, ‘My lord, you know the answer.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the ones coming from out of the great persecution, clothed in their long-flowing robes, and made white through the blood of the Lamb.’ 15This is why they are in front of the throne of God and serve him during the day and during the night in his Temple. The one sitting on the throne will live with them. 16They will not be hungry nor will they be thirsty, nor will the sun fall on them or its burning heat 17because the Lamb in the midst of the throne shepherds them and leads them to the fountain of living water. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev 7:9-17)[ref]Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own[/ref]


God and the Lamb Are Praised (Rev 7:9-17)

Photo Credit: Nheyob

C. General Remarks

“The verbs in this section are very diverse, combining present, future, aorist, and perfect tenses. There is a great debate as to the temporal orientation of the passages, with some contending for a preterist interpretation (applying to the members of the seven churches), others to a millennial setting, still others to the time just before eternity is ushered in, and finally many to eternity itself” (Osborne, Revelation, 334).

“But, as so often in Revelation (and in Christian thinking generally), present and future overlap and interlock in various confusing ways, and already some of the blessings of the final city are to be experienced by these people – by these people who, John is eager to say, are you, you who are about to suffer in Ephesus, or Smyrna, or Pergamum, or wherever” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 75).


A. The Crowd in White Robes (v. 9)


Sweet Smelling Sacrifices and Security of the Saints (Phil 4:18-23)

In today’s post from Phil 4:18-23, Paul talks about sweet smelling sacrifices and how believers have security in their salvation. This will be one of my final (of many) posts based on the text of Philippians. 

Sweet Smelling Sacrifices and Security of the Saints Phil 4:18 -23Photo Credit: Treasures of the Bible


A. Summary of the Book of Philippians

Message – Believers ought to live righteously based on the example of Christ, by staying in harmony with each other, enduring suffering, and focusing on the righteousness we all have.

Themes – The Work and Result of Christ, Sanctification, Paul’s Imprisonment, Suffering Because of Ministry

Outline – Greetings, Life Purpose, and the Goal for Believers (1); The Christian Life You Should Have (2); Paul and the Future Goal for Christians (3); Putting the Christian Life Together (4).

Past Lessons

B. Philippians 4:18-23

18And I am paid in full and have plenty. I am well supplied since I have received the things from you. Things which are a fragrant aroma and acceptable sacrifice which are well pleasing to God. 19And my God will fulfill all of your needs according to his glory in Christ Jesus. 20Now to our God and Father be the glory for evermore. 21Greet every holy saint in Christ Jesus. Everyone else with me greets you. 22All of the saints are greeting you, but most of all the believers from Caesar’s house. 23May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

C. Introduction and Joke

A devout Quaker man was leaning on his fence watching a new neighbor move in next door. After lots of modern appliances, electronic gadgets, plush furniture, and costly wall hangings had been carried in, the Quaker called over, “If you find you’re lacking anything, neighbor, let me know and I’ll show you how to live without it.”

II. PAUL’S NEEDS (4:18-19)

18And I am paid in full and have plenty. I am well supplied since I have received the things from you. Things which are a fragrant aroma and acceptable sacrifice which are well pleasing to God. 19And my God will fulfill all of your needs according to his glory in Christ Jesus.

A. Sweet Smelling Gifts (v. 18)


Paul’s Gratefulness for What Little He Had (Philippians 4:10-17)

A cowboy rode into town and stopped at a saloon for a drink.

Unfortunately, the locals had a habit of picking on strangers. So when he finished his drink, he found his horse had been stolen. He went back into the bar, handily flipped his gun into the air, caught it above his head and fired a shot into the ceiling. ”Which one of you sidewinders stole my hoss?” he yelled.

No one answered.

”All right, I’m gonna have anotha’ beer, and if my hoss ain’t back outside by the time I finish, I’m gonna do what I done in Texas! And I don’t like to have to do what I done in Texas!”

Some of the locals shifted restlessly. The cowboy had another beer, walked outside, and his horse was back! He saddled up and started to ride out of town.

The bartender wandered out of the bar and asked, ”Say partner, before you go. . .what happened in Texas?”

The cowboy turned back and said, ”I had to walk home.” (from

That cowboy was grateful for his horse. In a similar way Paul was grateful for the things he had in his life as he shared in Phil 4:10-17.

10For I rejoiced in the Lord greatly because you showed concern for me again regarding this you were concerned for me even though you had no chance to do something. 11Because I am not spreaking from need, for I have learned in these circumstances to be content. 12I know how to both live in lack and I know how to live in abundance. In every and all circumstances I have learned the secret to be both fully and hungry, to have abundance and lack. 13I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me. 14Nevertheless, you did right by staying connected with me in my troubles. 15As you Philippians already know, in the beginning of the Gospel when I left Macedonia, no one from any church gave to me in this matter of giving and receiving, except you. 16For even in Thessalonica you sent help to me in my lack on several occasions. 17Not that I seek a gift, but I want the fruit which increases your message. Phil 4:10-17



10For I rejoiced in the Lord greatly because you showed concern for me again regarding this you were concerned for me even though you had no chance to do something. 

A. Ἐχάρην δὲ ἐν κυρίῳ μεγάλως ὅτι ἤδη ποτὲ ἀνεθάλετε τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ φρονεῖν, — For I rejoiced in the Lord greatly because you showed concern for me again

The Greek verb, ἀναθαλετε (ἀναθαλλω), is a rare word only used here in the New Testament. In my translation I have chosen to translate it as “again” (as well as the NLT). However, other translations use “renewed” (HCSB, NIV) or “revived” (ASV, ESV, NASB, NRSV). It is used elsewhere to describe a bush or tree putting out fresh shoots or flowers in the spring. With that in mind, Paul is painting a picture of the Philippians’ care for him blossoming again. Because of the Philippians’ actions Paul rejoiced (O’Brien, Philippians, 517).

B. ἐφʼ ᾧ καὶ ἐφρονεῖτε, ἠκαιρεῖσθε δέ. – regarding this you were concerned for me even though you had no chance to do something.


The Leader’s Anxiety and Role as a Model (Philippians 4:6-9)


Leaders struggle with many of the same things. Additionally, all leaders need to provide some of the same things to the people they lead. In this post I examine the anxiety that all leaders struggle with as well as the model that leaders must be for the people they lead. 

The Leader's Anxiety and Role as a Model (Philippians 4:6-9)

Photo Credit: GPS

Related to the passage for today’s post, I love Charles Spurgeon’s comments on Philippians 4:6-9, “Notice that the apostle, after he had said, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always,’ commanded the Philippians to be anxious for nothing, thus implying that joy in the Lord is one of the best preparations for the trials of this life. The cure for care is joy in the Lord” (Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Philippians, 143).

A. Past Lessons 

B. Philippians 4:6-9

6Do not be anxious. Instead, in everything and in prayer of thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. 7Then the peace of God—which surpasses all understanding—will guard your hearts and thoughts in Christ Jesus. 8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is praiseworthy, if something has excellent character, if something is worthy of praise, think about these things. 9These things you already learned, accepted, heard, and saw in me. Now, do these things and the God of peace will be with you.