I’m so excited to see the work of some great WDA staff get a facelift!  Sometimes when you begin a project you don’t know how things will ultimately end up.  That is the case with the WDA Store redesign.

It all started when I wondered about creating a new cover for the downloadable pdf materials we offer for our discipleship ministry.  What was a personal project to add a little color to our pages, ended up as a project to create a new way for us to share our materials with the world!

Who is GodWDA has been writing great materials since it was started in 1974.  My first year on WDA campus staff I used our printed materials for small groups in my first bible study with Auburn freshman.  Who is God, is part of Phase 1, Establishing Faith.  It was part of what we once called Step One.  I still have those bible studies on my shelf.  As I began to create new covers and then the web store I realized that there are many people who will be able to teach great content to their groups and have a copy that they can read on their iPad or print and publish in a notebook.

As we began to put products on the store, I had the help of one of our staff, Nila Duffitt, who helps run our store.  She has been an invaluable source of information as we began to gather all the descriptions for each product page.  She and our materials staff have worked through the years to make all our materials connect not only to where each person or group might be in their spiritual growth, they are presented in a variety of formats that can be adapted to a particular context.Pocket Principles Growing Spiritually

Many of our materials are in the form of a Teaching Outline. This is great for places where a teacher will be giving a lecture based presentation.  We also provide materials as Guided Discussions, which work well when you want to bring a group into a dialogue about truth and have an interactive teaching time.  WDA also provides Pocket Principles® which are based on the lessons that have been taught.  Many people in the earlier phases choose to have participants take a Pocket Principle™ home with them or in later phases Pocket Principles are best read before coming to a group training.

Mentoring for Progressive GrowthThe WDA store also offers materials which help train leaders and teach our philosophy of ministry, such as Disciple Building: a Practical Strategy and Disciple Building: Mentoring for Progressive Growth,  that helps the mentor (disciple builder) better understand progressive one-to-one disciple building.

The training resources also include DVD’s from our 28/20 Conferences which are great for training leaders in a ministry how to implement a discipleship ministry using the progressive model of discipleship patterned after Jesus ministry.

In addition to our downloadable materials WDA also offers printed products for churches that are doing Restoring Your Heart ministry.  These include, Processing Pain, Understanding Emotions and Conquering Shame.  These workbooks when used in a Restoring Your Heart experience bring about healing from emotional pain. We have a specific program that trains and certifies people to lead others through the emotional healing process. We believe emotional and relational healing is an integral part of the discipleship process and was modeled by Jesus as he taught his disciples. The result of restoration is healthier people, healthier families, healthier churches and healthier communities. These workbooks provide participants and leaders the content needed for a group experience.

Evangelism Training Manual

WDA’s Store has an abundance of materials for your church and ministry.  Many of these materials are suitable for any context.  Future materials are being developed that will help churches continue to train and equip mature leaders for the church.  We currently have materials for Phases 1-3 online, which are suitable for evangelism (Phase 1 – Establishing Faith), helping a new believer begin to grow (Phase 2 Laying Foundations) and for a younger believer to begin to get training in ministry (Phase 3 Equipping for Ministry)

WDA has worked hard to create materials in a variety of formats that we believe will be useful for your ministry. Each one has been field tested by our experienced WDA staff.  We are very excited to provide a you a way to learn about new products, read some reviews and have a great experience with a the new store! Please take some time to visit and use the coupon!

If you visit before September 14  you will get 15% off your purchase of downloadable materials!

WDA STORE

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writing with guitar

writing with guitarWhen I woke this morning, I began to think about the things that have been weighing on my mind.  Slowly I walk to the kitchen to make coffee; the family has already gone to work and school and I am wondering what today has in store for me.

Do I have time to create today? I resist the desire, then… I ask.

What does taking time to create do in my life? 

The power of creative thinking is stirred but there is something more that happens.

As a Christian, when I create I usually try to make sense of my world, listen to God’s voice, meditate on his word, pray, ponder, consider….

This isn’t a bad thing to do.

So in some ways creativity for the Christian is a “spiritual discipline.”

Creativity a Spiritual Discipline?

Spiritual disciplines are those tasks and habits that help spur the follower of Jesus to a deeper relationship.  We pray.  We take time to read the bible and consider its application.  We spend time trying to memorize verses of scripture that would be helpful.

These spiritual disciplines are like the pencil with sheet music, the piano and the practice room, the point where I listen and put something down.

I remember my time at Furman where, in the midst of hours of study and practice, I would take an empty page and put melodies and words down.  No, these moments were not profound in the art that was created as much as profound in the heart work that was done.

Why bother creating today? Why bother slowing down and putting pen to paper? Why bother typing thoughts down in a blog post? Why pray and open the word? Because God is here!  Because He wants to communicate to me and I need to communicate to Him.

Experiencing God’s presence by doing the work.

The ability to experience His presence as I create flows directly from my prayer, my worship, my time meditating in His word.  There is a connection between writing a song and spiritual disciplines.  Both require the tools, habits, time, commitment and perseverance to see fruit.  Prayer that quickly passes without listening is like strumming a few chords only to put the guitar back down on the way out the door.

I don’t get as much out of time in God’s word by merely reading the daily passages in my YouVersion Bible app.  Getting satisfaction from not missing a day!  I want to be able to walk away from my creative disciplines with the sense that I have done good work with God.

A little taste makes me hunger.

When I am done with my creative time I want to have experienced a glimpse of my purpose.  I want to feel the hunger to continue, just as when I finish my “quiet time” with Jesus, and leave wishing I had time for more.

 

Creativity, just like spiritual disciplines, can be a place to see God at work.

 

Here are a few creative ideas that have helped stir both my desire for God and my creativity.

1. Consider opening your Bible and your creative instrument at the same time.

As a musician it is very easy for me to see how God’s words connect to music. However, I also benefit from playing music as I read, which creates mood and tone. Can this happen as you do your art? Draw, Paint, Sculpt, Dance, Write a story. How could God’s word impact you today?

2. Don’t force it.  Creativity for the Christian isn’t just making Christiany Art that merely parrots a Bible verse.  Don’t force it. It’s ok to “play the music” without any words!

3. Read stories, biographies about other followers of Christ, use a prayer book, or devotion type book to get ideas flowing.

4. Take a walk.

 

Why create a little each day? It might just spur on your spiritual life too!

 

Editors Note: This article originally posted at Atlanta Arts Network

http://www.atlantaartsnetwork.com/2013/05/20/why-bother-creating-today-even-just-a-little/

Bible Study Pen PaperEvery good relationship thrives on shared experiences and a true knowledge of each other. In its essence, Christianity is a relationship between the people of God and the Living God. By revealing Himself to us and reconciling us to Himself through Jesus Christ, God has sought us out and begun this relationship. In response, we are to actively pursue God and cultivate our relationship with Him. We can do this by spending time with Him.

Just as our most significant relationships are the ones in which we share our lives at deep levels over a long period of time, so our relationship with God works the same way. You develop closeness with God by regularly paying attention to Him, by conversing with Him and by opening your life to Him.

But people often ask, “How do you spend time with God when you can’t see Him?” Fortunately, God has shown us how. He’s given us His Word–—the Bible—and He meets with us in prayer. As we consistently read the Bible and pray to God, we grow closer to Him. As we see how He interacts with people in the Bible, we come to understand His character, His values, and His personality. We recognize His truths and how His Kingdom functions. Through our time in His Word and prayer, God embraces us and transforms our lives.

Interacting with God through His Word

Reading and contemplating the Bible can be a powerful experience. Unlike other books, God’s Word is living and spiritual, practical and dynamic. Consider this: God, our Living Creator, has spoken! He has begun a dialogue with us, revealing His infinite thoughts to our finite minds through the Bible.

The Book of Hebrews says God’s Word is living and active (4:12). Through it, God engages our whole being—soul, spirit, body, mind and heart. As we read and obey His Word it has a profound influence in our lives. Psalm 19: 7-14 tells us that God’s Word is able to revive our souls, make us wise, encourage us, and guide us. More than just good advice, God’s Word is a significant part of His conversation with His people.

Unlike other books, God’s Word is living and spiritual, practical and dynamic.

Spending time with God’s Word is like having an audience with a king. This means we must approach the Bible as we would approach God Himself: humbly and obediently. Jesus told His followers, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:21 NIV) Spending time with God’s Word is not simply an exercise in scholarship or self- improvement but a faithful expression of our reverence and love for God Himself. With a teachable attitude and a willingness to be changed, we come closer to God through His Word.

God’s Word is just that—His Word. As such, it bears the full integrity of His character and the limitless strength of His
sovereignty. In Psalm 37, David tells us that God will accomplish what He promises. He also exhorts us: “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (verse 4) Therefore, we ought to look to the Bible with expectant hearts and minds, eager to see God reveal His truth and accomplish His will among us. Do you expect God to reveal Himself to you in His Word? Does loving obedience result from your time with God in His Word?

Interacting with God through Prayer

Unlike our earthly friendships, our communion with God doesn’t have to have interruptions. Our lives can truly be an unending dialogue with the Lord. Praying to God continues our conversation with Him, building upon
the time we spend with God in His Word.

But what is prayer? Prayer, the Apostle John writes, is our response to God’s outreach to us. The Lord says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20). Prayer is a yielding to God and an acceptance of His fellowship, as simple as a word of welcome or a cry for help.

Nevertheless, a life of prayerful attention to God doesn’t always come easily. Part of the struggle and the joy of our lives comes from learning to persevere in habits of prayer. God, in His grace, teaches us to pray and gives many examples of prayer in the Bible. For example, Psalm 25 shows some of the roles prayer can have in our lives. Prayer can be a way of entrusting yourself to God, expressing your hope in Him, seeking guidance, asking forgiveness, gaining His perspective and receiving His comfort.

We also see elements of prayer in other Psalms. Psalm 100 is a brief expression of thanksgiving, calling us to worship the Lord with gladness and joyful songs, to acknowledge Him as our creator and leader, to praise Him for his enduring love and faithfulness. Psalm 51, David’s song of contrition and hope, is also a model of faithful prayer. He confesses his sin and pleads for mercy (verses 1-9). Seeking God’s help, he entrusts himself to His goodness and sustaining power (verses 10-15). He seeks the establishment of God’s Kingdom and asks God to bless others (verses 16-19).

Part of the struggle and the joy of our lives comes from learning to persevere in habits of prayer.

At its simplest, faithful prayer is how we thank, praise and worship God. It requires no great programs or resources. As the Apostle James says, “Come near to God, and he will come near to you.” (James 4:8a) This nearness of God is truly the essence of your relationship with Him. When you interact with God through His Word and in prayer, you’re coming closer to God. By setting apart a time and place to devote your attention to God, you’ll establish habits that will transform your relationship with Him.

Summary
Christianity is essentially a relationship with God. By spending time with God in His Word and in prayer, we can grow closer to Him.
• God reveals His character, will and goodness through the Bible.
• We should approach God’s Word with gratitude, humility and obedience.
God uses His Word to help us and change our lives.
Prayer is our response to God’s beginning a conversation with us.
The Bible gives many examples of the roles prayer can have in our lives.
It helps to have specific times to meet with God in His Word and in prayer.

Application Suggestions:

For time with God to be most effective, it is important to decide on a specific time and place to meet with Him.

The best time is often in the morning before the day begins.
The place should be quiet with no distractions, where you can be alone.
A good starting goal is to spend 10-15 minutes with God and extend the time as you are able.
Decide on a specific time and place for your appointment with God, and someone to pray that you will be faithful to meet with Him.

 

 

Get this Pocket Principle in Knowing God, part of Cornerstone  from the WDA Store

For more information visit the WDA Store.

Laying Foundations for Spiritual Growth

When my two sons were young we went to Atlanta for the groundbreaking of one of the more famous skyscrapers. We had been reading about the project for months in the local papers and were excited to watch the construction of the “tallest building in the South”. As we arrived on the scene, the bulldozers were already clearing the site, but there was a viewing area for spectators with an architectural rendering of the completed structure emblazoned on the side of the construction fencing. “Wow!” my oldest exclaimed, “It’s humongous!” And indeed it was, soaring nearly seventy stories above Peachtree Street, it certainly promised to be a focal point of the city skyline. We faithfully trekked to the site and watched trucks haul away dirt and debris while other trucks delivered steel girders and other building materials. After several weeks of this vigil, one of the boys exclaimed in frustration, “Dad, when are they going to start working on the building?” (It was a question that I had pondered myself, because all that existed was a large hole and lots of mud.) Approaching a worker with a set of plans under his arm, I inquired, “Can you give us some idea when the building is going to begin?” His chuckle made it obvious the question had come up before.

“It’s hard to believe it,” he said, “but this hole is the most important part of the building. We have to dig down several hundred feet and build a solid foundation to support a structure that’s over seventy stories tall. It will take several months to pour the concrete and sink the steel pillars, but then we’ll start going up. Once we start, it will rise pretty fast!”

The Bible compares living the Christian life with constructing a building. Just as there are phases in building a building, there are phases in the growth of a Christian, and the first phase is: “laying a foundation”. Our initial salvation experience is the beginning of a process of growth that lasts a lifetime. The success of our Christian walk is determined by the strength of our spiritual foundation. Matthew 7: 24-27 asserts that the Christian life built on a solid foundation will withstand the storms of life. The tallest building in the South is still standing today. Believers who lay solid foundations are more likely to stand tall than those who fail to establish a solid base for growth.
This foundations phase actually consists of four interconnecting parts:

  1. relating to God,
  2. relating to other Christians,
  3. understanding truth, and
  4. applying truth so that it transforms us.

Let’s explore these together!

The success of our Christian walk is determined by the strength of our spiritual foundation.

Relating to God

Unlike other religions, the essence of Christianity is a relationship with God, not a set of rules. In John 17: 3 the Scripture affirms that eternal life is all about knowing God. It is thrilling to remember that God desires a relationship with us that will never end. The great news is that believers don’t have to wait for heaven to experience this. It begins the moment we accept Christ!

Having a relationship with God is not all that different from having a relationship with anyone else. As we relate to others, we get to know them better and the relationship deepens over time. There are specific situations that will help believers better experience a relationship with God. The first of these involves setting aside time for personal devotions, a quiet time each day devoted to prayer, Bible reading, and personal meditation. The Scripture promises in James 4: 8 that as we “come near to God, He will come near to us”. This “coming near to God” is not a religious duty, but a time for relational development. Of course just as good disciplines and habits can be beneficial in other areas of life, the more we remain faithfully committed to our quiet time, the more benefit we derive from it.

Another aspect of developing a relationship with God is attending public worship in a church that exalts Him. Although we can worship God any place, any time, worshipping with other Christians deepens and develops our ability to relate to God. There are many different public worship experiences and not all churches structure them in the same way.

Worship that focuses on the greatness of God and includes times of singing praise, prayerful meditation, and Biblical preaching should be a priority. Ask God to help you find a church in your community and become a part of the fellowship. This leads to another important part of laying a good foundation: relating to other Christians.

Relating to Other Christians

God has placed us in His spiritual family, the Church, to encourage us, protect us, correct us, direct us, and provide for us. Again there are specific situations that help believers experience relationships with other Christians. Each of these plays a unique role in helping to form a spiritual foundation and each will require some effort. But they all are incredibly beneficial. Christians who do not have connections with other Christians tend to stop growing. (cf. Hebrews 10: 24-25)

Unlike other religions, the essence of Christianity is a relationship with God, not a set of rules.

In the first century there were very few church buildings. Mostly the believers met together in private homes for Bible teaching, prayer, and fellowship. There are benefits to meeting with large groups in public worship, but there is also an advantage gained from being part of a small group. The intimacy of the setting provides a place for relationships to flourish. Many modern believers have learned that meeting together in small groups helps to forge close relationships as members discuss Scripture, pray for each other, and share personal matters.

The term “mentoring” was coined by the modern business community to describe a relationship where a seasoned executive tutors a younger colleague in commercial practices. But long before mentoring was introduced to the world of commerce, it had already existed in the spiritual community as “one-to-one discipleship”.

In this case it describes an intentional relationship between a young believer and a more mature Christian who models the Christian life, answers questions, gives counsel, and helps the younger Christian stay focused on the priorities of growth.

Understanding Truth

One important priority for growth (and the third part of laying good foundations) involves developing an increasing understanding of God’s truth. The Bible is the Book of Truth for Christians, but it can appear overwhelming to a new learner. It was Jesus who proclaimed that knowing truth sets people free from the bondage of sin. Therefore, it is helpful to have a basic plan of study for learning the truths that we need to build upon, a plan that focuses on specific themes and principles of foundational development. A good beginning series of studies for young believers should include the themes mentioned earlier: truth that helps someone to know more about God, truth that helps people understand other people, and truth that helps someone to grow spiritually.

There are specific approaches to gaining an understanding of these foundational truths. The first is a curriculum of systematic instruction. This is the first of a series of “Pocket Principles” that are designed specifically for helping new believers lay solid spiritual foundations. If you received this “Pocket Principle” from a mentor or small group leader, continue to work closely with that person to discover and apply the other truths in this series.

Another way of gaining insights into living the Christian life is by reading. There are many excellent materials and resources available in Christian bookstores, libraries, and on the Internet. Your own informal reading will supplement your growth. But be sure to focus on the foundational themes mentioned above as a starting point.

Christians who do not have connections with other Christians tend to stop growing. (Hebrews 10: 24-25)

Your local church is also an excellent source of content. Besides the weekly sermon delivered by the pastor or other teacher, many churches offer small groups devoted to helping new believers get established in the faith. Consult the churches in your area for opportunities to learn foundational truths.

Applying Truth

But as important as truth is in the growth process, it is not the information alone that transforms us. In fact other parts of Scripture warn us that knowledge by itself can be dangerous, leading to spiritual pride and the deadening of our hearts to God. This particular sin characterized the Pharisees who were enemies of Christ. It is only truth that is obeyed or applied to our lives that changes us and causes growth. Romans 12: 2 reminds us that it is a life consecrated to obeying God that is impacted by truth. When our minds are transformed in this way we help establish the will of God on earth. This is more than just knowing the truth, it is actually doing truth.

A skyscraper is an engineering marvel, but soaring high means digging deep and laying solid foundations. A maxim of the Christian life asserts that “you can only grow as tall as you grow deep”. Laying good foundations takes time and effort, but the benefits are worth it. The new believer needs to embrace experientially the truths related to knowing and understanding God and other believers.

Conclusion

Applying truth will require becoming involved in specific situations that facilitate foundational growth. Establishing a time for personal devotions, joining a small group, locating an older believer who can come alongside you as an encouraging mentor, setting up a systematic plan of study , and participating in public worship are layers of spiritual brick and mortar that form this foundation. But these situations without a heart commitment to obey the truth will not suffice. Blessings to you as you grow!

It is only truth that is obeyed or applied to our lives that changes us and causes growth.

  • So where are you laying foundations?
  • Where do you find is the best place to find a mentor?
  • Have you made time for studying God’s word?
  • What are some of the things you have done to help lay foundations for growing in your faith as a Christian?

Get this Pocket Principle in Knowing God, part of Cornerstone  from the WDA Store

For more information visit the WDA Store.

“What is the truth about where we came from, what life is about, and where we’re going? Think about how vast the mysterious universe is, and how impossible it would be to know all about it. Now consider that we have brains that just weigh about three pounds trying to figure it all out! You may begin to wonder what we can really know about nature, life and death.”  Read more of this Pocket Principle by downloading the pdf file.  Pocket Principles are featured each week on the WDA Blog.

For an introduction to Pocket Principles read “Pocket Principles: What do you carry around in your pocket?”

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Free Weekly Pocket Principle Download

This is the fourth Pocket Principle in the Knowing God Series called ‘Special Revelation

Order the Knowing God Pocket Principle Bundle at the WDA Store.  WDA offers a complete set of Pocket Principles, along with Teaching Outlines and Lesson Plans at our WDA Store. Each Pocket Principle bundle can be ordered as an ebook pdf format.

WDA Store: Pocket Principle Bundle 

Knowing God: 10 Pocket Principles 54 Pages