Sunday, May 28, 2006

America's Similarities to Corinth

Christianity Today has posted an excellent article pointing out similarities between post-modern American culture and 1st century life in Corinth. Worth your time.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Do You Have These Ministry Skills?

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.
Death by Ministry

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
Getting People to Talk about Their Passions

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

"Attend Church, Get a 10% Raise"

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

Using The Style God Gave You

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
If you are looking for an additional spark of creativity or simply love innovative preaching you'll enjoy this volume.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Mike Swaim Talks Psalm 112

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

Disclaimer Needed? 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.
Communicating for Change

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!"
Christ and Creation

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

Resource for Children's Sunday School

Here's an excellent source of information and ideas for children's Sunday School teaching:

They have an excellent teaching tips section, with several helpful articles. Good stuff.
Perry Noble Gets My Votes for Best Title of the Month

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.
Stories about People

There's a common theme about the parables of Jesus -- they're all stories about people!

Keep this in mind when you're using story and illustration in your teaching ministry. We are wired to learn from stories about people. Help your students learn.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Analyze the Audience

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

Happy Mother's Day!

May our good and gracious Lord bless every mother today, and each day. Amen!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Verse-by-Verse study

Here's a nice article about helping people learn to do verse-by-verse Bible study.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Bible Study with Not-Yet Believers

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

Top 10 Issues Facing Families

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.

More here.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Desiring God Radio

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.)
Biblical Frameworks

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

How to Pray for Your Pastor

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.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

U.S. Church in Decline

Christianity Today has a special report: The American Church in Crisis. I recommend you read the report and reflect on it.

But don't despair or be discouraged.

Ask God what He wants you to do to serve Him. Today.

For me, I'm going to keep on teaching the Bible to change lives. I'm going to continue to love my wife and shepherd my family. I'm going to continue to encourage and challenge men to be bold and be gentle.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Albert Einstein Didn't Do This

There is an (admittedly delicious) story about Albert Einstein refuting a university professor by arguing [logically] that evil exists because of the absence of God. Turns out not to be true.

When this story came around to my inbox again recently, I explained that it was a fable. The person who sent it to me was outraged that I would challenge it! "It should be true," he wrote.

We all have the tendency to believe reported stories and facts when they agree with our worldview, even when they are demonstrably false. Let's watch ourselves, teachers, and keep our doctrine pure.