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At Cornerstone, I have been preaching a sermon series through the book of Galatians. It has been a great series for our church and for me personally. It has really required some extra study time and I wanted to share with you the commentaries and resources I have been using throughout the series. In preparing a message series, I start with the Bible passage and then break it down into manageable sections to preach each week. I then spend time looking for the major themes and points I want to make from each section. These commentaries have been helpful in preparing my messages. All are either available as Kindle books are as ebooks in Logos or Wordsearch. Here is a quick rundown.

Galatians For You by Tim Keller - This has been the most helpful commentary for my series. Keller does an incredible job of presenting the information in an understandable format. The information is detailed, yet practical. This is a perfect research for preaching through the book of Galatians.

Christ Centered Exposition - Exalting Jesus in Galatians by David Platt – This commentary is based on David Platt’s sermon series on Galatians. Platt does an excellent job in organizing and presenting the important details in the book of Galatians. My sermon series is based on the sections in this book, although many of my points have been adapted from Keller’s commentary.

The Message of Galatians by John Stott - This is the Galatians commentary that everyone else references. It is the standard and is excellent. The language is not as contemporary as Keller and Platt, but it is still easy to understand.

Cornerstone Biblical Commentary - This is a commentary series that I really enjoy using. It brings out both application and exegesis of each passage. It is also based on the New Living Translation which I have been using throughout my sermon series.

Holman Commentary - This is yet another commentary that is heavy on application. I like the use of illustrations as well. However, it is the least detailed of all the commentaries listed here.

I hope information like this is helpful to you. Even if you are not a pastor, commentaries can be helpful in studying the Bible. You will see different viewpoints, but trust God to reveal to you both the meaning and application of each text you study. 

Ministry-Pass-Announcement

Let me introduce you to a great new service. Most churches do not have a full-time graphic designer on staff. For our church, this means that as pastor, I spend time on creating graphics for new sermon series and events. There are a few sites that provide sermon graphics, but I always have trouble finding graphics that will work with the topic I am interested in preaching on.

Ministry Pass is a new service that provide creative graphic content for your church. It is a membership based site, with a yearly membership costing $399 (They are currently offering a special introductory rate of $299) Before you say that is too much money, think about what it would cost to hire a graphic designer to design sermon graphics, social media graphics, and even youth and children’s ministry graphic for your ministry. They also offer slides and graphics for special events in your church. I appreciate that many of the graphics can be customized through Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements).

After browsing through the site, this is something I am definitely excited about. I’m already planning on using several of their graphics for my 2015 sermon series. The only thing I would like to see added is sermon series video bumpers.

Ministry Pass provides done-for-you resources that include sermon series (for students, adults, and children), special event packages (VBS and youth big event night materials), and weekly announcement slides. Every bundle comes with:

  • Sermon Series Guide
  • Photoshop Layers
  • Series Title Jpeg
  • Scripture/Point Jpeg
  • Facebook Cover Image
  • Facebook Timeline Image
  • Instagram Image
  • Print Ready Postcard Front
  • Bulletin Shell Cover

Here are a few examples of the graphics you will find on their site. Browse their site to see the whole collection. Each month, more resources will be added.

Now for the good news! Ministry Pass has generously offered to give a free one year membership to one of our readers here on faithengineer.com.  Enter the giveaway below. The winner will be announced this Friday night!

 

On May 24th, four local churches came together for a night of worship. I wanted to share the video of this service here on the blog. It was a powerful night of worship and praise. I love seeing churches work together and break down denominational and geographical barriers.

Amazon-Smile

I recently started using Amazon Smile to support one of my favorite charities, Because We Care Ministries. I do a lot of shopping at Amazon since I have a Prime account with free 2-day shipping on most items. It’s an easy way to help support mission work in Nicaragua.  Here is how Amazon Describes it

What is AmazonSmile?
AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. You can choose from nearly one million organizations to support.

When you go to smile.amazon.com and login with your Amazon account, you can choose from almost one million different charities. I chose Because We Care Ministries in Roanoke, Virginia, a great missions organization that we partner with to do mission work in Nicaragua.  They receive 0.5% of the purchase price from every eligible AmazonSmile purchase I make.  That may not sound like a lot, but if many people set it up, it can make a huge difference in the mission field.

After you set everything up, you do need to remember to shop at smile.amazon.com instead of the normal www.amazon.com. I installed a Google Chrome browser extension called SmileAlways that automatically redirects me to the smile page. Try it out! I love finding ways to support more mission work.

 

We just finished our latest sermon series called Foundations at Cornerstone. Our goal was to focus on basic foundational truths that every believer should know and understand. Sometimes, it’s good to just focus on the basics. I have been surprised throughout the series at the positive response from our mature believers. I think pastors tend to forget that many people struggle with doubt and confusion about what they believe.

We focused this series on questions that people have about their faith. 

  • Can I trust the Bible?
  • Who is Jesus?
  • Why is the resurrection important? (Easter Message)
  • What is our responsibility?

I created the graphics for this series using simple stock graphics and iMovie. It was quick, but I hope it shows what you can do with simple tools and a limited budget. Here is the opening video for the series.

I love hearing stories of growth and life change, and God moved throughout this series.

  • One person shared how much our church has helped him overcome his addiction. His comment was that he has never experienced people who truly care about him
  • One person shared how they were fearful of messing up and losing their salvation. When they understood what it truly means to have faith in Christ, they were set free from worry and fear of messing up
  • Multiple people trusted Christ for salvation
  • Two people who had a previous conflict reconciled and asked forgiveness

Each week I hear stories like these. It never gets old seeing God work miracles in our church!

This was also posted on the Cornerstone website


At our First Wednesday Service last week, our focus was on family worship and discipleship. I shared several resources to help you lead your family. Here are just a few of the resources we recommend.

Rightnow Media

Rightnow Media is a great website that gives Cornerstone attenders access to over 3500 video Bible studies and children’s videos.   To signup, please go to www.mycornerstone.org/rightnow to request your login information (if you do not attend Cornerstone, please contact your church about signing up for this great service).  Once you are registered with the site, you can access it here. Not only do they have great videos for your children to watch, they also offer great Bible studies on topics like parenting and marriage.

It Starts at Home Bible Study

This is one of the video Bible Studies available through Rightnow Media.  Here is the description for the study

Who is shaping what your kids believe?

In these busy, hectic days we take our kids to sports practices, games, music lessons, school tutoring and other activities to give our children the best opportunities for success. But what if we’re missing the chance to teach them what matters most?

Our children can grow up smart, athletic, popular and polite but lack a vibrant relationship with Christ. The few hours they spend in church each week can be helpful, but it cannot nurture a faith in our kids that will withstand the trials that are on the horizon. Church alone cannot teach them, we must start at home. But many parents feel ill equipped to develop the faith of their children.

In these six sessions, we will explore biblical and tangible ways that parents—couples, single parents, blended families and grandparents—can build a legacy of faith for their children. Each session includes interviews with everyday parents talking about their own doubts, fears and desires. Gary Thomas, Matt Chandler, and Kurt and Olivia Bruner provide powerful teaching that will help you give your kids what they need to build a solid framework for lifelong faith.

Click here to access the study through Rightnow Media and watch the introductory video

Click here to access more resources through the website for the series

YouVersion for Kids

The same Bible app that is available for adults is also available for children. Check out www.bible.com/kids to find out more information about this interactive mobile app for children.

New City Catechism

newcity

The New City Catechism is a way to teach faith and doctrine to children and adults through the use of questions and answers. There are 52 question and answers that are taught through videos, commentaries, and even songs. This is a great way to spend time together as a family going deeper in your faith.  You can access it online or through an iPad app.

Today many churches and Christian organizations publish “statements of faith” that outline their beliefs. But in the past it was expected that documents of this nature would be so biblically rich and carefully crafted that they would be memorized and used for Christian growth and training. They were written in the form of questions and answers, and were called catechisms (from the Greek katechein which means “to teach orally or to instruct by word of mouth”). The Heidelberg Catechism of 1563 and Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms of 1648 are among the best known, and they serve as the doctrinal standards of many churches in the world today.

Next Steps to Grow in Your Faith

Finally, our church has a detailed plan to help you grow in your faith. We encourage you to work through this as a family. Click here to read more and complete a personal Spiritual Growth Plan for both you and your family

nextsteps

 

 

FaithConnectorIn a previous post, I shared about ChurchThemes.com, a great company making church templates for WordPress. I’m a huge proponent of using WordPress for church websites if you have someone that has the skill level to maintain the site. WordPress is powerful, but it also requires someone with fairly strong web skills. For churches that want to focus on the content of the site, without worrying about hosting details, security, and updates, a better solution may be to use a company that handles the hard work for you.

FaithConnector is one of the newer sponsors of my site, and they have a great turnkey solution for church websites. They provide great working websites, with all the features you need for your church. You start with a design template, have it customized with your church logo and graphics, and then add content for your church.  They handle the hosting and support for you. I’m really impressed with the number of features they offer. Here are just a few.

Price aside, we built our system for churches and ministries, and that’s why you’ll find church and ministry-specific applications included such as the member directory, ice-breakers, ministries, small groups, prayer requests, eCards, classifieds, courses, and online giving and then many, many more that are more general in nature such as discussion boards, chat, calendar, announcements, blogs, business listings, media player, mobile site, podcast, rss feeds, streaming media, email blasting, photo galleries, surveys and online store.

Pricing starts at $45 per month and a $250 startup fee, but you are buying peace of mind when you go with a company like FaithConnector.  The video below shows a sample of what FaithConnector is doing. If you are looking for a quick and easy website solution, then this may be for you.

Disclaimer: FaithConnector is a current sponsor of this site and the links in this review are affiliate links. I have not personally used FaithConnector, but I am impressed with the demo videos and the sites they currently host. I am always looking for good technology solutions for churches, and I believe this is a good solution for many churches. You can see my full disclosure policy here.

 

nehemiah

This past Sunday, we started a new series at Cornerstone on the book of Nehemiah. I have been wanting to preach through Nehemiah for several years, so I am excited to finally start working through the book with our church.

brick_logoWe are using some of the devotional materials from the American Bible Society as we go through this series. They provide a reading plan, a small group guide, and a 40-day devotional entitled Brick by Brick. My hope is that this study will help us as we strive to serve our community and share the Gospel message.

I took the graphics from the Brick by Brick series and made a quick sermon video introduction for Cornerstone using Keynote. I think the story of Nehemiah would make a great movie, so I incorporated a cinematic sound track with the video. Nehemiah is a hero that refuses to give up. Here is the video.

Here are some other books that have been helpful in my preparation for this study

 

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