Sunday, December 31, 2006
Celebrating the New Year tends to warm us up to goal setting, and looking ahead. Can you list two or three things that you would like to improve as a Bible teacher? How about a new challenge for teaching? I encourage you to stretch your thinking and try new things.
Bring fresh bread to your students, not stale bread.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Francis Chan gave a wonderful talk at the Hawaiian Islands Ministry conference, titled "How to Teach Dynamically and Effectively." He organizes the talk around these seven questions which preachers and teachers need to ask:
1. Am I aware of God's presence and want to please Him?
2. Do I genuinely love these people?
3. Am I accurately presenting this passage?
4. Am I depending upon the Holy Spirit's power, or my own cleverness?
5. Have I applied this message to my own life?
6. Will this message draw attention to me, or to God?
7. Do people desperately need this message?
This is an excellent set of questions, and I strongly recommend you take notes as you listen here:
Click on the title link to this talk to listen to his message (streaming). This opens a new window and the message (about an hour) will stream. I couldn't figure out a way to get it as an mp3, but this is dynamite content, so make the time to listen to it.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Hey, Great Bible Teachers! Thank you for all you've done for your small groups, classes, and Bible studies in 2006. It's impossible to put a value on the lives that have been changed because God worked in and through you as a Bible teacher. Thanks for the decisions and actions you took to cooperate with God's work!
Going into 2007, I'm confident that more lives will be changed as we follow this wonderful teaching ministry, a gift to us from our Lord. There is work to be done! I want to be right here encouraging you and helping you all the way.
Teach to change lives!
Monday, December 18, 2006
Yesterday some adults in the class I was teaching told me that they paid more attention to what I said because I was open about my own struggles. (I was talking about praying for people that I didn't want to be with myself.) It was a good reminder to me of an important principle:
Appropriate vulnerability gives credibility
Why? Because people can identify with you. You are not talking at them from some ivory tower position, but as a fellow disciple in process.
(Notice that I said "appropriate" vulnerability. Check yourself carefully. There are some weaknesses and sins that you should not discuss with just any group. It is especially important not to put relationships at risk by airing out unresolved difficulties.)
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Bible publishers are doing a booming business as they repackage the Bible into a astounding array of formats, covers, and colors. And sales are up! There is a tremendous consumer hunger for the Bible -- that's good news. We're so affluent that you can get a Bible that fits the image you want to project to others. (Reminds me of ladies shoes.)
Soon you'll be able to get a Bible for your ipod -- more good news for those who are ipod-centric.
One part of my brain is celebrating the proliferation of Bibles. Making it interesting and accessible to more people should be a good thing.
Another part of my brain is concerned that we pay more attention to format and show than to absorbing the content. Let us be careful to avoid feeling good about a Bible format, but denying its power. (See 2 Tim 3:1-5)
P.S. To consider for Christmas giving: support the Wycliffe Bible translation ministries. There are over 6000 languages in the world, and over 5000 do not have the complete Bible translated.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Mark Buchanan writes an excellent article title Preaching in the City of Man. Part 2 is here. He lists some lessons that we can learn from Esther and Jonah about proclaiming truth in a fallen world. His comments about purity being attractive to this current generation are worth reviewing.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
This is a new phenomenon, I think -- Bible teachers taking advantage of the immense popularity of YouTube, posting videos of their Bible teaching. Here's one on Romans 6, for example.
What do you think? Is this something that might be an effective extension of your teaching ministry? Anyone doing this now, or plan to? Add your comment.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Friday, December 01, 2006
Nearly all Bible teachers are also leaders in their church -- and get into situations with difficult people.
One key to success is to understand (and accept) that the Lord has provided a growth opportunity for you. We only learn some lessons from things we didn't volunteer for!
Also, I recommend you check out this article for some useful advice.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
The Blue Letter Bible folks have made some of Eidersheim's articles about Jewish life in the time of Jesus available online. These are detailed guides, very good for study. There are 18 chapters, plus some appendices:
Chapter 1. Palestine Eighteen Centuries Ago
Chapter 2. Jews and Gentiles in "the Land"
Chapter 3. In Galilee at the Time of our Lord
Chapter 4. Travelling in Palestine
Chapter 5. In Judaea
Chapter 6. Jewish Homes
Chapter 7. The Upbringing of Jewish Children
Chapter 8. Subjects of Study (Education)
Chapter 9. Mothers, Daughters, and Wives in Israel
Chapter 10. In Death and after Death
Chapter 11. Jewish Views on Trade, Tradesmen, and Trades' Guilds
Chapter 12. Commerce
Chapter 13. Among the People, and with the Pharisees
Chapter 14. The "Fraternity" of Pharisees
Chapter 15. Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes
Chapter 16. Synagogues
Chapter 17. The Worship of the Synagogue
Chapter 18. Outline of Ancient Jewish Theological Literature
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
John Ortberg has a wonderful essay about Joseph's righteousness, and his decision to sacrifice his reputation to take Mary to be his wife. Recommended. We don't have a single recorded word of Joseph in the Bible, but he is a rich example for us to study.
This article would make an excellent basis for an adult lesson, particularly for a men's group.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
The key to learning is engagement. If the people in your classes and Bible studies are engaged, they will learn. If they're not engaged, it's much less likely that they will learn, and the opportunity for life-change is extremely short.
Asking people questions to stimulate real dialogue is one of the most powerful ways to engage them. Jesus did this frequently. Did he ask questions because he didn't know the answer? No. He asked questions to engage people.
The key to asking great questions is to plan them ahead of time. Your objective is to ask questions so that people move in the direction God wants them to go!
(If you'd like a great resource for helping you ask better questions, check out this ebook, 52 Model Questions.)
Monday, November 27, 2006
Here's a useful article outlining an approach to using PowerPoint in Sunday School classes -- with some cautions.
Make sure the technology supports your key points and promotes discussion. If it doesn't, don't use it "just because." Teaching to change lives is what counts. Everything else, including the presentation medium, is secondary to that objective.
If you're getting more advanced with PowerPoint, and need some tips about master slides, organizing graphics, etc., then check out this article.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
I'm curious about your plans for teaching the Christmas Story this year. How are you going to present the information about the birth of our Savior?
The most interesting approach I've heard recently is to ask the class what's in the story, write it all down on the board, then go back through the actual texts in the Gospel accounts, and identify those things which have been "added" -- but many people think are real. (For example: How many Magi were there? There were gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh (Matt 2:11) but the text doesn't tell us there were three Magi (Matt 2:1) )
Add your ideas as a comment.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
The Great Bible Teacher Collection is now available. Until November 14th, you can get a complimentary pair of CDs will all the information -- one for you, and one to give away as a Christmas present. If you're serious about teaching ministry, you owe it to yourself to check this out.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
If you're feeling great burdens in your teaching ministry, and struggles with getting lessons put together, then here's an insight to come back to:
Your teaching ministry isn't really your ministry -- it's Jesus' ministry!
You are participating in His ministry work. A lot of burdens come off when we stop hoping that Jesus might come alongside and make our ministry just a little lighter.
I know this is true. I know this is true. But I need reminding, frequently.
I hope you enjoy this story from Steve Seamands. He felt terrible burdens getting a series of sermons and workshops together, under a tight deadline. Listen to his words:
"After several days of fretting, I got up one morning to pray. At the time, I was engaged in a verse-by-verse devotional study of the Song of Solomon. That particular morning, I was meditating on verse 2:8: "The voice of my beloved! / Look, he comes, / leaping upon the mountains, / bounding over the hills."
Mountains and hills in Scripture often represent obstacles that confront us. That day, my obstacle was the sermon I had to prepare for the conference. As I meditated on this verse, Jesus, my beloved, spoke to me: "Steve, why are you so uptight? This is so easy for me. It may seem like a mountain to you, but it's a molehill to me! I can leap and bound over it effortlessly. I have a sermon I want to preach to the people who will be gathered there. I'm going to preach it through you. In fact, it's going to be fun! Come on, let's run together."
You see, dear teachers, the lesson and class time are easy for our Master. It's going to be fun to run together with Jesus!
Though writing about preaching, I think these four key prayer requests from Joe McKeever are ideal for Bible teachers who want to see changed lives:
1) I never want to stand up to preach again without a good grasp of the Scripture. I'm tired of not being clear about the text in front of me.
2) I want the message from God to have a firm grasp on me, to grip my heart. I want to preach with genuine passion.
3) I want a good rapport with the congregation. I'm tired of that " glazed-over " look on the people's faces. I want to make contact with them, to communicate effectively.
4) I want to see lives changed. If the point of preaching is for the Word of God to make a difference in people, then it must be in order to ask the Father to give me success in doing it.
May each of us strive for a solid grasp on Scripture, an irrepressible grip of God on our hearts, growing skill as communicators, and for God to unleash his power in changing the lives of men, women, boys, and girls. Amen!
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Here's a YAC (Yet Another Column) decrying teaching methods in Sunday School classes, and advocating more electronics, less lecture.
I partially agree.
I agree that dumping kids into rows of chairs and Blah-Blah-Blah lecture isn't going to help them learning. But it's not because the lecture method can't be effective, per se. You can bore them to tears with PowerPoint, too. (All of what I'm saying is true for adults as well.)
Learning -- which I think of as the transfer of information that changes the way we think and behave -- requires that you have an engaged brain. If your brain isn't engaged in the material, you aren't learning from the presentation of the information.
Now you can influence learning (brain engagement) by how you set up a room, how you present information, how much individual interaction happens, etc. -- and you should make every effort to do these things better and better. But it's not enough.
So what's required?
First, prayer. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing. This is spiritual work, and all spiritual work must begin and be sustained and completed in prayer. Pray for open minds, open eyes, open hearts. Without this spiritual openness, the best you can do is entertain or annoy people.
Second, passion. "A student will be like his teacher." Love Jesus, love His Word, and this passion will engage people.
Third, relevance. You cannot engage a person's mind unless he/she perceives this information is relevant to their lives somehow.
Eestablish these three things, and even weak teaching methods and presentation can still lead to life-changing learning.
If you are interested in learning more, including the practical how-to aspects of teaching the Bible, check out www.teachtochangelives.com .
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Because you are teaching people the Word of God, you're likely to be asked for counsel. People will share a dream or vision from you, and ask you "Is this from God? How can I know?"
Tommy Barnett has two dream tests:
1. It's bigger than you
2. You can't shake it
Monday, October 30, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
I have a new product coming -- I call it "The Great Bible Teacher Collection." I'm making practically all the information I've created for Bible teachers available as one package, PLUS some never-before-released videos. Since Christmas is coming, there's a special bonus available if you purchase by Nov 14th. I will send you all the information on two complimentary CDs; one is for you, and one is to give away as a Christmas gift!
You can get more information here, including a free bonus of the audio message from a seminar I did recently on "Bible Teaching to Change Lives." I encourage you to sign up today!
Monday, October 23, 2006
Sunday, October 22, 2006
You can find part III of this series on teaching using illustrations here. The key idea is to break down an observation or story into its component parts, and then attach or extract meaning from it. Worth your time.
Some people seem to be able to do this effortlessly. I believe this has been a useful series because it lays out the process so that anyone can improve their skills.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
We live in a culture where people's attention time is scarce -- there are THOUSANDS of things competing for their attention. So it's increasingly helpful to market your Bible studies at your church or in your neighborhood.
Marketing just means getting people excited about your product. (Sales is closing the deal.)
Now you may be saying, "If poeple aren't excited about studying the Bible, then it's not our problem." WRONG. Many of the people who could get very excited about diving into the Word with you simply don't know it's a possibility. Help them out!
This article lists 7 ways you can increase the 'buzz' for Bible studies.
Need further motivation to do this kind of effort? Here's a fact: excited people learn more.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
The article continues here. I liked the strategy of building a story around your observations. Remember, there's neurological evidence that our brains are hard-wired to be more open to stories and images. So use words that paint strong images, and you are more likely to engage your listener's brain!
Monday, October 16, 2006
Satan heaps on the guilt -- that is not our job as teachers. The Holy Spirit convicts the hearts of people (see John 16:8-11); we are not the Jr. Holy Spirit.
Mark Batterson has some good counsel about teaching on topics that might trigger guilt: keep looking forward.
"When I talk on a tough topic that I know might send people on a guilt trip I try to focus on the future. I don't want to bury people with guilt. Our messages can actually cause unintended consequences like defeatism if we aren't careful. That's what happens if we focus on the past. People just wallow in their past. So when I preach on a tough topic I try to remind our congregation that what you did yesterday isn't nearly as important as what you do tomorrow!For example, if you're talking about sexual purity there is a danger of sending people on a long guilt trip. But that isn't the goal. The goal is to help people reestablish godly sexual boundaries. I've found that when I say I'm not as concerned about yesterday as I am about tomorrow, it's like our congregation breathes as sigh of relief. Keep it future-tense!Isn't that what Jesus did when he said: 'Go and sin no more.' "
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Mark Batterson writes:
"Here's my New Year Manifesto:
Grab life by the mane. Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop criticizing and start creating. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshipping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Laugh at yourself. Keep making mistakes. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away. And remember: if God is for us who can be against us? Unleash the lion chaser within!"
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
A friend simply despises it when his young boys come to him and say, "I'm bored." So he cured them of this by replying, "No, you're not Bored, you're Johnny." :-)
There are two situations where boredom kills learning and growth. The first is when your class or study group participants are bored. To them you sound like the teacher in the Charlie Brown TV specials: wah-wah-waa-wa-waaaa-wah.
The second is when you find yourself bored in personal Bible study or lesson prep.
"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity." - Dorothy Parker
Shift the mindset to curiosity!
Ask odd questions, use intriguing illustrations, get their attention with something different than they expect! Plant seeds about the next lesson that generate curiousity and anticipation. Engage their imaginations and emotions.
And for yourself, remember that the Bible is the coolest, most wonderful book in the world. Repent before the Lord (repentance means "change of mind") and get engaged with it. Try a different approach to stay fresh and get new insights. I have plenty of great Bible study approaches in my book, Teach the Bible to Change Lives.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Cory Whitehead gives some excellent counsel for us when the 'ministry blahs' come. I especially appreciated the comments about remembering your passion, and fasting to reconnect with the Lord. Recommended!
Scott Aughtman asks "What more can I do to fulfill the responsibility I have to the people and area God has called me to?" as he reads Acts 18.
Great Bible Teachers like you work hard to live out the calling of teaching ministry. I applaud you for following hard after God to understand and help others understand His Word. Let's celebrate this ministry, though it is difficult, and encourage one another along the way.
The day is coming when we will hear our Master's testimony about us, and I know you want to hear "Well done, good and faithful servant."
Until then, we are not clear of our responsibility to the people whom God has put around us.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Monday, September 25, 2006
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Perry Noble says insightful things in fun ways. Mark Batterson captured these from a recent conference:
"Pastors, I have a word from the Lord. Get rid of the preacher hair."
"I was pagan of the year eight years running."
"Jesus powerwashed my soul."
"We wanted to create a culture where people were more concerned about the condition of your soul than the condition of your wardrobe. We wanted to create a culture where people where more concerned about Scripture than Robert's Rules of Order."
"Church ought to be the most engaging place on the planet. If the tomb is really empty we ought to act like it."
"Get out of his box or let God out of His. He wants to move."
"You better believe we're about numbers. Numbers represent souls."
"Don't shut the backdoor of the church. The church is a body. You shut the back door and you've got problems. You need a Holy Spirit enema."
"If you target the people nobody else wants you won't be able to stop from growing."
"Be more concerned about who is coming in the door than those who are going out the door."
"A church is not effective when a pastor ministers to the people. A church is effective when the body ministers to the body."
"I'm not teaching this church to depend on me. I'm teaching this church to depend on each other."
"People will sit on their blessed assurance as long as you let them." "Your passion is not my burden."
Finally, I love the prayer the New Spring staff prays: "Dear Jesus, Yes. Amen." I love it.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
John Piper shares some Bible-drenched wisdom about how Christians should respond to the Muslim outrage over the Pope's recent comments. Read it. Study it. Share it.
This would make an excellent topic discussion for a small group Bible study.
Jesus promised that He has come into our lives that we might have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10) We should be brimming over with Jesus-life!
I coach Great Bible Teachers that God will wring lessons in you before He teaches them through you. YOU are the tool He is using, dear friend! So your whole life is important.
Mark Batterson nails this concept:
Preaching and writing are exercises in self-revelation. That is why experienced truth is so important. I don't want to preach sermons I've studied but haven't lived. At the end of the day--you are the message.If you live an interesting life your sermons will be interesting. If you have a sense of humor your sermons will be funny. If you care deeply about people your sermons will make people cry. And as Edward Fischer said, if you are dull your messages will be dull :)
From a sermon by Mark Batterson:
In the words of Bill Hybels, religion is spelled do. Christianity is spelled done.
It is so easy to base our identity on how we look, what we know, or how much we have. In fact, sometimes it is easier to base your identity on the wrong thing when you look better or know more or have more. That was certainly the case with Nebuchadnezzar. But the only sure foundation is basing our identity on what God has done for us at the cross.
In the words of Romans 12:3: “The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by who God is and what God does.”
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Here are the lyrics to the Mercy Me song, "Word of God Speak." This is an excellent prayer for you, dear teacher!
"I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say
Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to seeYour majesty
To be still and know
That You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak
I'm finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice
[REPEAT CHORUS 2x]
I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay"
Monday, September 18, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
You can read about the LifeWay company's business update here.
Why do I point you to this on a blog about Great Bible Teaching? Because LifeWay is one the largest producers of Sunday School and Small Group curriculum available today. (And there is big money in this.)
I'm not advocating their materials specifically, dear teachers, but I know many of my readers use them.
Over the years I've found that asking this question will humble almost everyone: "How's your prayer life? Is it what it should be?" Certainly humbles me!
No matter what your calling as a spiritual leader, you need to be diligent about prayer.
Here's some useful, practical advice from Rick Warren.
“Make us masters of ourselves that we may be the servants of others.” -- Sir Alexander Patterson
There is no question that one of the limiting factors in our ability to be a Great Bible Teacher is the extent of our self-discipline.
"Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." 1 Cor 9:26-27
Saturday, September 09, 2006
I just learned about this cool sermon audio resource, Sermon Cloud. You can search for sermons by keyword, and then download the audio (free). Listeners are "rating" sermons and providing comments.
They also provide services to churches and pastors who wish to upload sermons and syndicate them with RSS. Very slick.
John Piper gives the reasons for memorizing Scripture:
1. Conformity to Christ
2. Daily Triumph over Sin
3. Daily Triumph over Satan
4. Comfort and Counsel for People You Love
5. Communicating the Gospel to Unbelievers
6. Communion with God in the Enjoyment of His Person and Ways
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Steve Irwin had a tremendous amount of passion for animals and the natural world. His enthusiasm ("Crikey!") overcame a lot of resistance to learning. Teachers, leaders, and parents -- we need to display our enthusiasm!
I also like what Mark Batterson says:
"In one sense, the way Steve Irwin died was so tragic. Evidently, the barb from a sting ray punctured his heart. But I think the way he died is a reminder and a testament to a something really powerful. I hope this comes across the right way. Every death is tragic no matter how someone dies. But Steve Irwin died doing what he loved to do. That doesn't lessen the grief. But he died the way he lived.I know this sounds morbid, but I want to die doing what I love to do.Some people live their lives as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. I don't have a death wish. I want to live a long life. But if I had to choose between a long life and a full life I'd choose a full life."
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
John Piper shares 13 ways you can help people become more satisfied in God. Though written to pastors, these are excellent for Bible teachers. For example, "Describe God's value -- his treasures -- in lavish terms." And "Model for the people extended meditation and reflection on the word of God."
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Great Bible Teachers like you are always sharpening communication skills and strategies. We have the most wonderful story in the history of the world to tell!
Check out my review of a new book that's "irritating" some Bible teachers because it challenges their assumptions about how to structure and deliver a message. See if I think all the buzz about this new book is worth your time and attention.
Exegesis is critical examination of text for meaning and insight. It's what we do when we study the Word and draw out as much meaning as we can.
Mark Batterson has excellent insights into our failures to exegete our culture, to study it and understand how to communicate with people effectively.
Great Bible Teachers exegete their local classes and Bible study groups, too, in order to be used by God to precisely tailor a lesson or message to their exact needs, at this time.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
I read recently how one person characterized Rick Warren's communication strategy: "Respectfully begin where people are, irrespective of where that may be, and lead them toward what they were created for."
That's a GBT strategy! Let's get that idea deep in us.
Great Bible Teachers need to cultivate creativity. It's a God-provided attribute of the human mind to be creative, and expressive. We are made in His image, and He is powerfully creative.
But for some reason creativity can fade and weaken, particularly as we become mature. I read about a man who asked a kindergarten class "Who is an artist?" and nearly every child raised his hand. He asked the same question to 3rd graders, and half raised their hands. He did the same thing with progressively older grades and fewer children raised their hands. In the high school only one or two teenagers would raise their hands.
Great Bible Teaching demands creativity. We are not inventing the Truth, because that's been given to us. Our creativity is needed to do a better job of presenting the Truth so it can be understood and absorbed. We want to teach to change lives!
Let me suggest a few starting points for cultivating creativity:
1. Spend time each day using your imagination. A great way to develop your imagination is to picture yourself in the Bible stories. What do you see? smell? feel? taste? hear?
2. Practice paying attention. Concentrate on things. Really observe a plant, an object in your house. See if you can draw it in a notebook.
3. Intentionally learn about new subjects, something that you aren't already familiar with. Many, many teaching insights and illustrations can come from the intersection of new things. Jesus helped the disciples understand things about God's character by teaching them botany!
4. Journal your thoughts. Don't worry about where they go, just monitor them and see if you can write them down.
Do you have other suggestions?
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Monday, August 28, 2006
One question I get more frequently now is "Do you know how to get started in podcasting?" Many people are recording their sermons and lessons and making them available as mp3 files. This is a terrific way to leverage your teaching material -- people all over the world can benefit.
I'm just at the front edge of learning about podcasting. If you're interested in this area, I recommend you check out this resource -- PDF ebook, over an hour of online video to walk you through it step by step, many useful bonuses, and a 90 day money-back guarantee!
Friday, August 25, 2006
Focus on the Family is launching a new DVD series about Christian worldview -- it's called The Truth Project. This might be an excellent study for your small group or an elective class at your church.
A good starting point is this article about Christian worldview by Del Tackett.
Here's an excellent article (actually an excerpt from the book Mastering Contemporary Preaching) about improving preaching and teaching through feedback.
Somewhere I heard the phrase "feedback is the breakfast of champions."
I personally both want and don't want feedback. And I need useful feedback that can help me get better. If all I hear is "Thanks Glenn that was great!" then I don't know what to work on. I need specific information about what I should start doing, what I should keep doing, and what I should stop doing.
How many of you have established a systematic feedback mechanism? This is an area that I would glad to hear more about what's worked, what hasn't.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Time magazine reports on the growth of the Church in China, and the persecution. It is good to weave into your teaching the perspective that the Church is worldwide, and growing. It's easy for us to become insular and teach from a provincial perspective.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Check out this good, solid article about the value of podcasting sermons (or other material) from your church and using technology to expand your reach. "The message is sacred, the medium is not." Don't underestimate how God could use your willingness to make good information available.
Friday, August 18, 2006
This article outlines some practical ways people are using email to help keep small groups connected. Many of these principles will work with a small group Bible study or Sunday school class.
More Sunday School classes and study groups are using blogs, too. I was delighted to hear from one of my wonderful customers "down under" who has set up her first blog for their "Lighthouse Club." Great Bible Teachers use technology to reinforce learning and strengthen relationships -- having fun on the way!
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Here's a very good article about plagiarizing sermons and reusing materials from others. There are some good suggestions about how to give credit.
I'm opposed to flat-out copying someone else's work and portraying it as yours -- that's simply a lie.
I'm in favor of humbly re-using what others have done, and giving credit where it is due. I don't think it detracts from you at all. Our job as teachers is to bring people to God's Word and help them hear and understand and apply.
If this is about you, then there is a bigger problem than plagiarism!
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
"True conversion gives a man pardon but does not make him presumptuous. True conversion gives a man perfect rest but it does not stop his progress. True conversion gives a man security but it does not allow him to leave off being watchful." -- Charles Spurgeon
I love this evangelism story from Bill Hybels. He spent years befriending his son's soccer coach, helping him with little things. It reminds me to be careful about how we measure progress and value -- in the kingdom of God we are usually wrong to be concerned about the rate at which spiritual progress happens.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Friday, August 04, 2006
Thursday, August 03, 2006
There is a rich and fascinating discussion about plagiarizing sermons and using other people's materials as your own on the "Out of Ur" blog.
The reasons I point you, as Bible teachers, to this discussion are
- Many of you are pastors and preachers yourselves
- Many of you are supposed to use prepared lesson materials someone else created
- It's a significant temptation to present others' materials and insights as your own
- We are in the business of presenting the Bible (the original 'Old Reliable') in fresh ways to new audiences, building upon the ministry of those who have gone before us and beside us -- we're not in the business of creating something brand new from scratch.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Seth Godin, an astute observer of human behavior as a marketer, says this:
"People don't believe what you tell them.
They rarely believe what you show them.
They often believe what their friends tell them.
They always believe what they tell themselves."
If you accept these four statements as true (and I think there is truth in them), what do we need to do in our teaching to help people believe the Truth from the Source of Truth?
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Monday, July 31, 2006
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Small group Bible studies often wrestle with the question about what to study next. Here's some good advice you should consider. One concern I have is that people assume that you need a commercially prepared study guide or a book. Please just open the Word of God and dive in as a group.
If you're teaching, and need to know what to teach next, then I highly recommend my free report:
Saturday, July 29, 2006
You might want to bookmark this site.
It lists hundreds of names found in the Bible. Each name is a link that opens a new page so you can hear how it is pronounced. (Make sure your computer speakers are turned on.)
There are a lot of ads near the top of the page, so you have to scroll down to get to the names.
You can use the "find" feature of your browswer (it is Ctrl-F in Internet Explorer) to quickly get to the name you want.
This article lists 8 reasons we can stand confidently before God in prayer -- it's an encouraging reminder! (This would also be a nice short lesson on prayer.)
Teachers, pray for your students! Ask God to open their ears, open their minds, and transform their hearts.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Thursday, July 27, 2006
God's Voice Satan's Voice
Stills You Rushes You
Leads You Pushes You
Reassures You Frightens You
Enlightens You Confuses You
Encourages You Discourages You
Comforts You Worries You
Calms You Obsesses You
Convicts You Condemns You
from Brio Magazine, Aug 2008 edition
Here's a helpful article with suggestions to help you encourage people to read the Bible. It's organized around these common excuses:
"I don't have time to read."
"I don't know where to begin."
"I just don't get it."
"The Bible is so dull."
"I don't see how the Bible applies to my life."
"I hear Bible readings in church every Sunday."
"The Bible makes me feel uncomfortable."
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Sometimes the fastest way to a person's heart and mind is through their funny bone! I recommend you take advantage of the free cartoons and humor from Christianity Today. Go here to sign up for a weekly email that delivers a cartoon and other humor.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Angie Frederickson sent me these two tips recently, and gave me permission to share them.
Tip 1: Use different color paper for multiple handouts
"I am teaching a class on how to teach the Bible and have used many handouts for reference sake. I learned from a professor at Multnomah Bible School to use various colors of paper so I can say, "Take a look at the blue page, or yellow or whatever." It has been beneficial as a time saver and avoiding confusion."
Tip 2: Practice with props ahead of time
"I might suggest practicing the prop ahead of time. I was using an empty glass on a sponge to show we are employ glasses without God's Holy Spirit (however, sometimes filled with hot air). I explained the glass was us, the water was God's Spirit. I poured some water in the glass demonstrating God's Spirit filling us and as there was more of Him, there was less of us. When I got to the top of the glass exemplifying being filled with The Spirit, I stopped and asked what happens if this is left like that. They got it when they said, "It become stagnant and the water begins to evaporate." I told them they had to keep on being filled. Then I showed them that as this happens, you begin to overflow into the dried up Christians lives (the sponge) and they begin soaking up God's Spirit. Thirsty non-believers desire the Spirit. But ,when we stop overflowing they can dry up and you become an ineffective vessel.
"So, the point is, as I practiced this at home I discovered I needed to cut a hole in the sponge because the glass tipped over. This would have been disastrous in class. Yes, I already had the sponge in a shallow container so everyone could see."
* * * *
If you have tips you'd like to share, send them to me at email@example.com
I have been singing the hymn below frequently this past week. The lyric "my name is graven on his hands" comes from Isaiah 49:16. Some thoughts that occurred to me as I've meditated on this image:
* My name is carved on his palms, not scrawled there in ballpoint pen. It took significant purpose to put my name there. It's not going to wear off.
* Hands are remarkably sensitive. There would be some pain involved to carve my name there!
* If the Father has a question about Glenn Brooke for Jesus -- who is at his right hand interceding for me (Rom 8:34), Jesus will just hold out his hand to the Father. Question answered. And then they'll give each other a high five!
Saturday, July 15, 2006
I really enjoyed this hymn at PK this year. I was delighted to find that it dates from 1863! I was particular blessed by the refrain "my name is graven on His hands, my name is written on His hears" -- see Isaiah 49:16. Solid theology, Christ-centered praise!
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!
Words: Charitie L. Bancroft, 1863.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Pastor Mark Batterson points out that we have a dual destiny.
"One destiny is universal and is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. "
"The other destiny is unique, to become unlike anyone who has ever lived...The goal is for each of us to be a unique expression of praise to God."
(From his 7/5/06 Evotional email)
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Gordon MacDonald points us to this excerpt from the biography of John Henry Jowett:
"We leave our places of worship, and no deep and inexpressible wonder sits upon our faces. We can sing these lilting melodies, and when we go out into the street our faces are one with the faces of those who have left the theater and the music halls. There is nothing about us to suggest that we have been looking at anything stupendous and overwhelming. Far back in my boyhood I remember an old saint telling me that after some services he liked to make his way home alone, by quiet by-ways, so that the hush of the Almighty might remain on his awed and prostrate soul. That is the element we are losing, and its loss is one of the measure of our poverty, and the primary secret of inefficient life and service."
Let us be teachers of the Word, powerfully used, so that people see the awesomeness of God in the Word, and their faces are changed!
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
At first I laughed out loud at this cartoon.
Then I thought of the famous events of revival when Jonathan Edwards preached the sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God."
Bible Teachers need to be found faithful to teach what the Word says, and not coddle people. Jesus didn't.
Monday, July 10, 2006
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Friday, June 30, 2006
If you're in teaching ministry, then I encourage you to read this passionate post from Perry Noble. Hit the issues, teaching with passion, and it's ok to hate cats. Don't worry about that one person who inevitably picks apart your lessons with fine-toothed criticisms.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Figuring out what people ask questions about is part of cultural anthropology. Sales, Marketing, Advertisers, Copyrighters, media producers are all searching this out -- what do people ask about? Because it's the window to their emotions and will to buy.
We need to study what not-yet believers are asking about.
Here's my observation: Very few not-yet believers are asking the question, "What must I do to be saved?" But nearly everyone is asking "How do I make my life work better?"
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Christianity and the American Revolution
Christianity Today has a wonderful collection of articles discussing the Christian influences during the colonial period and the American Revolution. Recommended!
Here's one interesting excerpt from an article about preaching in colonial times:
"Over the span of the colonial era, American ministers delivered approximately 8 million sermons, each lasting one to one-and-a-half hours. The average 70-year-old colonial churchgoer would have listened to some 7,000 sermons in his or her lifetime, totaling nearly 10,000 hours of concentrated listening. This is the number of classroom hours it would take to receive ten separate undergraduate degrees in a modern university, without ever repeating the same course! The pulpits were Congregational and Baptist in New England; Presbyterian, Lutheran, and German Reformed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; and Anglican and Methodist in the South. But no matter the denomination, colonial congregations heard sermons more than any other form of oratory. The colonial sermon was prophet, newspaper, video, Internet, community college, and social therapist all wrapped in one. Such was the range of its influence on all aspects of life that even contemporary television and personal computers pale in comparison."
Monday, June 26, 2006
I liked this Perry Noble post, reminding us of our position in Christ:
"Christ Jesus makes us unstoppable. Yes, I know that there is an enemy named satan…but folks–HE LOSES! Jesus defeated him on the cross and one day will ultimately kick his butt and send him to hell! WE WIN! We are empowered! And God has not called any of us to sit on the sideline–but rather to “go for it.” One of the things we need to STOP doing is imagining ourselves as weak, pathetic human beings that are not capable of accomplishing anything significant–well…if you are NOT in Christ then that is true–but in Christ you are like that lady in the truck–a powerful force. OR–like the great scholar Lee McDerment said once–that we are all like little toothpicks…and we are easily broken…but when you accept Christ then you become a toothpick that gets duct-taped to a lead pipe–and then NOTHING can shatter you because of WHO you are attached to!"
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Call me petty, but it bugs me when I see people abbreviating "Bible Study" as BS or B.S. That abbreviation immediately brings another word/phrase to mind, and then I'm not going to think about "Bible" next.
Write it out, please! B-i-b-l-e S-t-u-d-y is a good thing.
It's fashionable to complain about email. I think we need more genuine dialogue, including face-to-face conversations. All communication, to be effective, takes training -- and we are ever learning.
David Maister makes some excellent points about why email is good:
"[E]ven though it's traditional to bemoan the increasing use of email, let me (just for the heck of it) take the other side and try to make the case (my points are serious here) why using email is INCREASING our abilities to connect:
a) You can type, re-type and re-re-type an email until it says what you want, the way you want it. Done right, there are none of the ambiguities of human speech ( "What I meant to say was..") Email can promote clarity
b) You can ask a friend or a spouse or anyone else to help you say it right. Try doing THAT in the real world. Email can promote collaboration and friendship
c) You can keep five or six (or more) conversations going at once without anyone feeling slighted that you do not have all your focus on them alone. Email means you can make everyone feel special.
d) You can keep track of what people said and hold them to their promises. Email can promote honesty.
e) Email removes the visual, body-language, verbal-accent cues that we over-rely on when reacting to other people: email can promote the importance of reason and logic, and reduces bias due to gender, racial or national background or appearance. It is profoundly democratic and politically important.
f) Email allows us to think before we react, thereby promoting less stress, thoughtless comments and knee-jerk reactions. It allows people who are not naturally quick at interpreting other people's remarks to reflect and respond with greater emotional intelligence. Email can facilitate good relationship interactions and language."
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Andy Stanley suggests there are three kinds of Bible teaching:
1. Teaching the Bible to people
2. Teaching People the Bible
3. Teaching People how to live a life that reflects the values, principles, and truths of the Bible
What kind are you doing? I'm recommending that you go with #3!
Read the whole article here -- worth your time.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Sometimes the best way to get the real meaning of a Bible passage across to a group is to give them a made-up version that is ironic, satirical, or sarcastic. The made-up version has to sound like how some people really think -- the contrast effect is what helps people learn!
I'm teaching tomorrow on Hebrews 12:1-3. Here's the made-up version I've created to help this group recognize and grip the REAL instruction:
“Anyway, as long as you think people are watching, don’t be seen holding on to extra trinkets and gear, but leave them conveniently nearby so you can pick them up again. Since nobody really knows what’s around the bend, don’t push yourself beyond a sensible run-walk pace, and take breaks at every scenic turnout in the road. Look at Jesus occasionally, certainly on Sunday morning, and make sure others see you doing it. It’s his fault your in this mess, after all. Just because Jesus suffered doesn’t mean you have to, and besides, he died a long time ago in a country far, far away. If you get discouraged, well, other people sometimes feel that way. Buck up, plan to start again soon, and hopefully you’ll feel more like running later on.”
(I refer to this as "Today's Pseudochristian Version")
Here's the authentic text (NIV) so you can the comparison effect:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
This approach generates great discussion -- and changed lives.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Part of our responsibility as teachers is to help people think biblically, and counter-culturally. Let me give you two examples.
The first is aptly described in this quote from Cal Thomas: "Remember sin? Sinful is what we were before we became 'dysfunctional.' "
It's popular now to attribute all kinds of behaviors -- from alcoholism to homosexuality to road rage (or as it was recently documented by researchers as 'intermittant explosive disorder') -- to genetics. The real objective, I believe, is to give people an excuse from personal responsibility.
My second example is 'apology.' Search the Bible and you will not find this word used as we do. You've all witnessed the scene a child is commanded, "Say your sorry." Usually it's said with derision and scorn, and not meant. This is light-years from the biblical model of asking forgiveness.
Help your students see these things, using biblical language and examples.
"The best teachers drive themselves to be continuous learners." —Wendy Kopp
We are always sharpening our craft of teaching. There is no teacher who cannot improve, and does not have more to learn. And the Bible is inexhaustible! So great Bible teachers are always on the learning track.
What a privilege!
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Monday, June 12, 2006
You may have learned this speaker's "trick" in school: "Webster's Dictionary defines ________ as...." It's supposed to give you extra credibility, educate your audience, and get their attention.
My opinion: this trick isn't effective on audiences, and is overused.
It's good to define words. Just don't reference Webster's Dictionary. Instead ask people in the group to give you a definition of a the word, or give you related words (even antonyms) -- that engages people. You follow-up their answers with any additional insights, and steer the conversation where you want to go.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Here is how T.D. Jakes prepares to preach:
1. Study yourself full
2. Think yourself clear
3. Pray yourself hot
4. Let yourself go
This is good advice for Bible teachers, as well. I love the image of praying until we're hot, so we can clearly pour out what we've studied.
He points out that #2 is critical, often overlooked. If you know what to communicate -- what's the end result God wants to see in your class, in these individuals -- then it's so much easier to design a learning session that will change lives.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Saturday, June 03, 2006
I'm looking for people who have been using the English Standard Version translation of the Bible. I continue to read positive press, but would like some personal testimonies. Please contact me at info@teachtochangelives or add a comment about your experience. Thanks!
Friday, June 02, 2006
Bruce Johnson claims it's the number one mistake preachers make -- failing to "hook" the audience at the start of the sermon. I think this is critical for teachers also, because if you don't engage people's attention, there just flat-out won't be much learning or growing or thinking.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
That's the idea that Mark Batterson proposes in his blog. He's starting a sermon series on neurology and faith. He makes an excellent point:
"I have this conviction: every ology is a branch of theology. That is based on Romans 1:20. Every branch of science reveals a new dimension of the Creator."
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Rick Warren has compiled "35 Ministry Skills You'll Need in the 21st Century." There's no way any one person could have all 35 skills in sufficient amounts, but that's ok. We're a body, right?
Read through these and ask yourself how many of these skills would have been appropriate in the first century, and the second, etc.
If you're a pastor and/or serious Bible teacher, or want to understand how to help your church leadership and staff, you must read this article: Death by Ministry.
Mark Driscoll begins with some sobering statistics about burnout in ministry, then gives some outstanding counsel for how to prepare yourself and guard yourself for long-term Kingdom impact.
Give this to your pastors. Even if they know these things (and they may). "It is as important to be reminded as to be informed." -- Richard Halverson
One of the useful skills for teachers and leaders -- which anyone can sharpen -- is the skill in starting and sustaining conversations. I'm not talking now about formal class or bible study times but in the other times when we're with people. Here are some practical ways to invite people to talk about what they're passionate about.
Once people begin talking, you're ability to understand how to present information to them is going to skyrocket! And people love to be listened to. It's one of the measures each of us has for whether we're liked and loved.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
The Economist, a formidable magazine with high reputation, reports on an MIT study that examined data for church-attenders. People who attended twice as often were 10% wealthier. better educated, and less likely to divorce.
I suspect this economist is looking at the system backwards.
When people people begin to live in right relationship with God and with others, obeying biblical precepts, their lives will often be "better" as the world measures it. You're simply working with a strong foundation, rather than on a foundation of lies and deceipt and lonliness.
Monday, May 22, 2006
One of the curious and delightful things about great communicators is that they have a whole range of styles. There is not a single style that's effective. I see teachers working hard to contort themselves around so they're teaching "like so-and-so, because I want to be able to communicate like that," and getting frustrated.
There are characteristics of great Bible teachers. But there's not one style.
Work with the style that God has given you! Be yourself in this matter. You are the tool that God wants to sharpen and use to reach others with His Word in order to change lives.
I can recommend this book (and accompanying CD) if you'd like to sharpen your style (not imitate someone else with a completely different style) and become a more effective communicator:
Refining Your Style: Learning from Respected Communicators
By Dave Stone / Group Publishing
In this remarkable volume Dave Stone helps you to Refine Your Style by providing:
- Introductions to 13 different communication styles
- Explanations of how Jesus used these speaking styles
- Interviews with top Christian communicators
- A bonus CD with audio clips of many of these successful speakers in actions
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Last month I pointed you at Mike Swaim's outstanding talk to men about Psalm 112. That's no longer available at the America's Family Coaches site, so I parked a copy for you here. It's 12MB, and worth listening to several times.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
http://www.worldmagblog.com/blog/archives/024505.html A "Da Vinci Code" cast member added fuel to the firestorm when he said the Bible should carry a disclaimer. Actor Ian McKellen made the statement during an NBC "Today Show" interview after Matt Lauer asked whether the movie should have a disclaimer saying it is fiction. "Well, I've often thought the Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying this is fiction," McKellen said. "I mean, walking on water, it takes an act of faith. And I have faith in this movie. Not that it's true, not that it's factual, but that it's a jolly good story. And I think audiences are clever enough and bright enough to separate out fact and fiction, and discuss the thing after they've seen it."...
I would encourage anyone to seriously read the New Testament. Ask and answer two questions:
1. Who is Jesus?
2. What will you do about that?
I was challenged to do just this, and God used the Word to change my life. It's not enough, by the way, to answer the first question. I regularly meet people who casually say, "Yeah, Jesus is the son of God, so what?" God promises that every knee will bow. You can begin bowing now, or bow later. You won't like later.
Perry Noble reviews Andy Stanley's book, Communicating for Change. There is a wonderful emphasis on helping people understand WHY they need the WHAT that you preach or teach on. Best quote: "If you preach from your weakness, you'll never run out of material!"
Kevin Nelstead continues to hit it out of the park on his blog, The Earth Is Not Flat. I recommend you add it to your regular reading list(and please consider supporting their ministry in Romania), especially if you have a technical or scientific background.
His sermon on Christ and Creation is fabulous. Kevin clearly explains why creation testifies to God's existence, nature, and power, but is incomplete revelation. If you have not-yet-believing friends and family who are interested in the natural environment, or aren't thinking about God, check out this sermon and the other postings.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Perry Noble has a great blog post about our works-based righteousness being offensive to God.
Go here to see why he gets my vote for best title of the month.
This is a very useful strategy when you are teaching and working with people -- help them understand viscerally what the biblical text says.
Monday, May 15, 2006
We always remain dependent upon the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts and minds of people, and lives will not be changed without His drawing each person to Himself. Great Bible Teaching cooperates with the Spirit, and tailors teaching to a specific audience.
This article has a few tips on audience analysis, and matching the Scripture text to them without violating the purpose of the text. Check it out.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Friday, May 12, 2006
People ask me this kind of question occasionally:
"I am running a Bible study, (if you didn't know) and I have people who are homosexual in it (they're here to see what this 'christian' thing is all about). I don't want to scare them off because I believe it's good that they are attending, but how do I address the fact that their lifestyles are not what God intends? Thank you for listening, and if you can, please help me on this situation."
Here was my response:
"Thanks for writing! It sounds like our good and gracious Lord has given you a wonderful opportunity to minister to people in this Bible study. Keep in mind that He has each person there, and it is no coincidence or accident.
Many Christians "freak out" about homosexual sin, and downplaypride, for example, as a sin. We all fall short of the glory of God.
My recommendation is to make Jesus your focus. When people fall in love with Jesus, and experience the love of Jesus in and through Hispeople, then their desires for obeying Jesus increase. The Bible will rebuke, encourage, and teach. For any sin, then, use the Bible as our plumb line. Keep on loving people, and be transparent about your own failings and shortcomings with them -- relaying to them how repentance works in your own life.
Now this is all easier to write about than to do. Living in community is hard, but it is our calling.
Really, the first thing is to pray for God's power to work in the lives of each person in your Bible study group. Pray that their eyes, mind, and heart will be opened. Pray that they will respond to God's call on their lives, and give themselves completely to Christ. Ask the Lord of the Universe to save each one from darkness, and bring them into greater and greater Light!
Teach to change lives,
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Factor these into your teaching ministry!
1. Anti-Christian culture; 2. Divorce; 3. Busyness; 4. Absent father figure; 5. Lack of discipline; 6. Financial pressures; 7. Lack of communication; 8. Negative media influences; 9. Balance of work and family; 10. Materialism.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
I frequently recommend John Piper's books, articles, and sermons. These have been SO helpful to me. God uses his ministry to regularly rebuke, exhort, and excite my heart for Jesus.
If you're not a big reader, and prefer listening, then check out Desiring God Radio. They have hours of great information available, no cost. It's delightful to hear Pastor Piper's heart as he talks and preaches.
(You can also learn a lot from Pastor Piper about *how* to deliver information. Notice how he goes back to Scripture again and again, often repeating the text. Very powerful.)
If you're interested in learning about biblical frameworks, you can sign up for a free 3 part minicourse.
Few things are sadder than Christians who are making poor decisions -- needlessly -- because they haven't learned howto work from a biblical framework.
What I'm talking about is not just an overall biblical worldview on Creation, Fall, and Redemption, but a specific biblical framework that's tailored to an issue or theme.
Let me explain.
If you're considering issues around stem cells, what schooling options are best for your kids this year, whetherto change jobs, or how to relate to your tattooed, multi-pierced neighbor who says she's a Christian, then you need a biblical framework tailored to the situation! The Bible does speak to ALL these situations, but good luck finding"pluripotent stem cell" in your concordance.
But creating and using such a framework to guide your thinking and decisions is practically a lost art. Mosteverybody would have to ask their pastor or minister, or depend on the snap judgments of their own conscience.
I believe the Lord gave us His Word as the authoritative guide for our lives - all areas of our lives. And Hischildren should be able to extract and apply principles from the Bible to all situations.
But this isn't commonplace today.
Instead we have hordes of people running after "experts"and making decisions on single verses and sound bites. Fewpeople have the skills or knowledge to do better. This is NOT what our Lord intends!
I developed and have been using a straightforward six-step process to create biblical frameworks and use them.They're wonderful for teaching and discussion. They're critical to wise thinking that uses the whole counsel of God as the plumb line to assess every situation.
I believe one of the greatest opportunities we have today is for a critical mass of Bible teachers -- like you! -- tolearn how to create and use biblical frameworks for effective decision-making. Then they in turn can be teaching this approach to others. In time we can have tens of thousands of wiser thinkers, because they'll be able to understand and use the Bible more effectively to address real-world, rubber-meets-the-road, complicated situations.
In this minicourse I'll explain more about
* The problems from operating without a biblical framework
* The key characteristics of useful biblical frameworks
* The process to create frameworks
* What you can expect to happen when you use biblical frameworks
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Since my last name is Brooke, it's an old family joke to talk about "babbling Brookes."
Babbling is talking without conveying meaning.
Great Bible Teachers do not babble. If you don't know what to say, it's better to be still and silent, than to fill the conversation space with noise.
Monday, May 08, 2006
I have a special desire to pray for pastors. I liked Perry's Noble's advice in this endeavor:
#1 - Pray For His Walk With God
#2 - Pray For His Marriage
#3 - Pray For Him As A Father
#4 - Pray For His Leadership
#5 - Pray For His Creativity
#6 - Pray For "Thick Skin."
#7 - Pray For His Health
Perry gives some details for each request.