Thursday, May 31, 2007

Record Yourself...and Improve

If you are serious about getting better as a teacher, then I have a serious recommendation for you:

Get an inexpensive digital recorder and record your lesson times. Then listen to yourself. (It's even more powerful to use videotaping, but that's not as feasible in all situations. A small digital recorder will slip into your pocket and won't distract anyone. )

Two things will happen.

First, you'll be amazed and disappointed at your goofs, ums, mistakes, and where it didn't come out right. Think about how to do it better next time. Say it aloud, too, to reinforce it. This kind of feedback really sharpens your presentation.

Second, you'll be amazed and delighted at how God's grace worked in and through you.

The whole effort is sobering, because it puts everything into perspective. You see how God is working in spite of you!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Notes from Venezuela

I recently returned from a visit with our sister church Puerto Seguro (Port Hope) in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela.

Puerto Cabello is a port city on the north coast, about 250,000 people. There is every kind of sin imaginable in this city -- like Corinth of old -- and the Gospel of our Lord is active and changing lives! (You can see some nice satellite pictures if you go to and search for "Puerto Cabello, Venezuela")

In addition to visiting with old friends and making new friends, plus the obligatory trip to "la playa," we spent time with the pastor of Puerto Seguro to understand his vision and strategic planning for the next few years. We think there will be plenty of partnership opportunities to build up the church leaders.

I also taught an adult class about Christian friendship (see John 15) using Barnabas as an example. Christian friends help one another stay in step with the Spirit (Gal 5:25) by identifying the evidence of the grace of God and encouraging them to remain true to Jesus with all their hearts (Acts 11:23)

One of the funny moments of the trip happened while I was teaching. I mentioned that when Jesus called the disciples His friends, putting them on par with Abraham and Moses, it "knocked their socks off." My translator looked at me, puzzled, and I repeated "knocked their socks off." She went ahead and translated for me (I noticed it took a long time). I found out later that she basically said, "I don't understand this but the disciples must have been wearing socks and Jesus didn't like it. So he knocked off their socks because he was their friend."

Lesson learned -- some colloquialisms just don't translate well!

Visits here remind me of many things:
  • In the US I basically live in DisneyWorld compared to the majority of the world.
  • Going where the people are -- the ones who need to hear the Gospel -- means I need to overcome fears and get into some uncomfortable situations.
  • My personal safety is in the hands of God. (Let me give you an example. There is only one stop light in all of Puerto Cabello. Most intersections in the narrow streets are blind. Most standard driving "rules" are more like suggestions. So driving around Puerto Cabello is like playing a perpetual game of chicken.)
  • God gives us personal knowledge to better worship Him, and to serve others. Knowledge which does not lead us into worship and service is trouble.
  • God is working all over this world!
  • It is sometimes easier to listen to God's voice in a different environment.

God is so good. I am a privileged man to be able to travel, teach, and encourage others!

You can see some pictures from my trip here:

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Things the Bible Does Not Say!

Here is a nice commentary on a list of common "sayings" that are actually not in the Bible (e.g., "God helps those who help themselves.")

Some of these would make an interesting devotion!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Great Reading on Jewish Life in Bible Times

Alfred Edersheim wrote some of the best, most readable works on Jewish life in Bible times. They're available in the public domain (free) through Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

You can pick up a public domain copy of Edersheim's "Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah" here:

Other books I recommend from Edersheim:

Sketches of Jewish Life

The Temple Ministry

Monday, May 14, 2007

Insight...Let Us Be Vigilant!

"People do not drift toward holiness…We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated."

-- D. A. Carson, For the Love of God
What Study Bible?

One of the questions I get asked regularly is what study Bible is best to use.

Listen to my answer here:

Friday, May 11, 2007

I Like This Guy!

I'm encouraged to see Darryl Wilson continuing to post excellent, encouraging, challenging posts on the Sunday School Revolutionary blog. Add this site to your feed list, Bible teachers!

Keep up the good work, Darryl!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Hearing God

One of the most important things you need as a Bible teacher is to consistently hear God's instruction and guidance for you. And your students need this as well.

Mark Batterson lists 10 ways that help him hear God.

#1 I hear God better after I've confessed my sin.
#2 I hear God better when I'm worshipping Him.
#3 I hear God better early in the morning.
#4 I hear God better after I've read my Bible.
#5 I hear God better when I'm not in a hurry.
#6 I hear God better when I'm out in nature.
#7 I hear God better when I'm on a rooftop.
#8 I hear God better when I'm fasting
#9 I hear God better when I'm out of my routine.
#10 I hear God better when I'm going after a dream.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Random Ramblings Of A Church Gatherer: Too Busy?

Quote of the Week

"To be too busy with God’s work to commune with God, to be busy with doing Church work without taking time to talk to God about His work, is the highway to backsliding, and many people have walked therein to the hurt of their immortal souls." -- E. M. Bounds

Tomorrow is the National Day of Prayer in the US -- make a point to gather together with others and pray!

HT: Random Ramblings Of A Church Gatherer: Too Busy?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Going to Venezuela

Prayer Request. I will be traveling to encourage and teach some of our brothers and sisters in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, May 16-21. This will be my third trip there since 2002. I hope to get some opportunities to teach about godly friendships, especially with the men. Please pray that God would be honored, and work in and through me.