Thursday, June 28, 2007

"Sharing" Online Bible Notes

I encourage people to mark up their Bibles with personal notes, in order to interact with God. Make it your ambition to wear out your Bible!

Now there are at least two online Bibles that let you tag verses, make personal notes, and share that with a community. has been running for a while.

YouVersion is in alpha stage, but getting more buzz.

I doubt that these will be universally popular, but there will be communities of believers and seekers who will benefit from the tools.

I'm not personally going to use these (at least not now), just priority-setting. But I would be curious to know your experiences.
Useful Perspective on Change

"When it comes to change, there are three seasons of timing: Peoplechange when they hurt enough that they have to, when they learn enoughthat they want to, and when they receive enough that they are able to."- John Maxwell

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hebrew & Greek Word Study Videos Now Available

Knowing how to look up original words and their meaning is a crucial skill for Bible teachers, but far too few know how -- and far too many don't use what they learn correctly. Learn more here.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Recovering Some of the Original Form of the Bible

There's some buzz out there about the Aug. 1 release of a new Bible from the International Bible Society. It's called Books of the Bible. It's really designed to be a no-additives Bible, something closer to the original. So there are no chapter and verse numbers, headings, extra columns, cross-references, etc.

Why? Because in some ways these have been helpful, and in some ways they have distractions.

Also they have recombined 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings into one unified book, as it was in very old manuscripts. Luke and Acts are placed together as a two volume history by Luke. Paul's letters are arranged chronologically. (You can see a complete book list here.)

So what do I think about this?

First, I respect the effort. They aren't rewriting Scripture, but restoring it's original forms. I think this will be a valuable Bible for personal study and devotions.

Second, I think it will be difficult to teach from, unless everyone in your class or group also has a copy. If you want people to follow-along and participate, you need to steer them to be in the same place. Saying "Page 256, second paragraph" isn't going to work as well as "Chapter X, beginning in verse 4."

And what do you think?
Answering Your Questions about the New Hebrew & Greek Word Study Videos

Here are my answers to a few questions that have come in about the Hebrew & Greek word study videos.

"Will these videos run on Macs? I don't have a PC."
These videos will work on any Mac or PC with the Flash viewer installed - and most PCs purchased in the past 4 years have that. If you don't, it's a free download to get it.

"I can only get a dialup connection to the Internet. Will these videos work for me?"
They will run, but you will need to be patient. We have tried to set things up so that dialup users can still benefit from the videos. The instruction is broken up into a series of shorter videos to make it faster to load each one. You can begin watching before it's completely downloaded. If you'd like to test it out, go here for a 4 minute sample:

Those should give you a good feel for how well it will work for you.

Also, a number of people have told me that they don't have a high-speed connection at home, but they go to their local library or coffee shop to get fast Internet connections.

"Will these training videos be available on CD or DVD?"
I hope to make them available on CD later on, but for right now they will only available online.

"What software will you use?"
The videos demonstrate how to use The Blue Letter Bible online software to do basic Hebrew & Greek word studies. This is wonderful software, with loads of features. And it's free to use.

You'll get a very fast start with these videos, because I'm going to steer you through the complicated interface and show you exactly what you need to do. (I used to just tell people that they should go to the software and use it - but most of them floundered around because they needed someone to take them by the hand.)

If you prefer other software, the principles of what I'm teaching will readily apply to other computer software. In fact, in one of the videos I give you my recommendations on other software that you might want to check out - both free and not-free.

"What's the price going to be?"
The initial price will be $20. You'll get immediate access to the Hebrew & Greek word study videos, plus about a half-hour of bonus videos on more ways to get value from The Blue Letter Bible, plus some surprise videos to come (I don't want to spoil the fun now.)

"Will you be offering a more advanced course? I'd be interested in that, since I already feel comfortable with basic word study."
I hope to in the future. It's my desire to team up with someone with extensive and specific Hebrew and Greek expertise in order to bring that to teachers.

Thanks for the questions! Let me know if you have others.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Watch Over My Shoulder and Learn!

Yesterday I wrote about how you can learn basic original language word study skills with the "hardware store" model. Get help from a trusted guide who knows what to do, what not to do, and what tools and materials work best.

In my experience the best way to teach someone how to look up Hebrew and Greek word meanings is to show them. It doesn't work to say"Just use XYZ reference book." Or "the SuperDuper Computer Bible makes it easy." But if I show it to them, they'll get it quickly.
And then we can talk about how (and how not!) to use this information in their Bible lessons.

As I mentioned yesterday, there are thousands of Bible teachers who don't know this critical skill. They're missing a lot. ManyBible teachers "sort-of" do this, but don't get it right.

I really, really would like to change this! But I can't work one-on-one with everyone.
So I made over 40 minutes of video that you can watch. It's like looking over my shoulder as I work.

This is the fastest and best way to get started in Hebrew and Greek word studies. Period.

You can watch a 4 minute sample of the instruction here:

More good news: all the software you need to do original language word studies is free.

So all you need is the knowledge and skill to use the software. And that's *precisely* what you'll get from these videos, quickly andeasily.

You can get the videos starting Tuesday, June 26th.
Multiple Lessons has a nice article about strategies for when you need to prepare more than one sermon for a given day or weekend. This translates well for teaching situations, also.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What Do Hardware and Hebrew Have In Common?

Some guys seem born knowing how to do home repairs. Not me. I'm a "measure-twice, cut-three-times, abandon-the-project" guy.

But since the home repair stuff needs to get done, I have tokeep trying. I look at books and listen to other people talkabout it, but it still doesn't make a lot of sense what I'msupposed to do. Sometimes the French and Spanish instructionsfor the tools make about as much sense as the English!

That's why I go to my local hardware store and get their advice.They've done this stuff, they've used the tools and materials, they know what works and what doesn't, and they can show me whatto do. (I should also mention that they are VERY patient with me,because I'm a pretty slow learner. Sometimes they've explained things several times to me!)

It's the same with studying the Hebrew and Greek words in Bible passages. Great Bible Teachers like you should know how to do this.

But if you know how, you're in the minority, Glenntest5.

I surveyed almost 4000 Bible teachers in late 2006 and learned that less than 15% felt comfortable looking up original word meanings and using them in their teaching.

Here are three common situations -- are you in one of them?

"I just rely upon my commentaries and study notes for this." If this is you, then you're missing wonderful opportunities tolearn more from Scripture, and give more in teaching.

"I know I should be looking up Hebrew and Greek words, but Idon't know where to start." It's actually pretty easy, once you get some coaching. But I agree, it's intimidating at the start, until you get some help.

"I've tried computer Bible study software but it's complicated to use, and I don't know what to do with what it gives me."Computers can make things faster and easier, but you might need some hand-holding, and you still need to know how to use what the software tells you.

You can learn how to do basic word studies in Hebrew and Greek. I know this because I've taught other teachers how to do it.

But I could hand you the tools, or give you a tiny-print instruction sheet in 4 languages, and it probably won't be enough. Just like my home repair hardware situation, you're going to need some understandable instructions and patient coaching. You need to know what tools to use, and how to use them.

What you really need is the opportunity to watch over someone's shoulder while they do it. And that's *exactly* what you can do!

Learning how to do word studies in Hebrew will be like a visit to your friendly hardware store. And you'll never have to say, "It's Greek to me" again.

How is this going to be possible?

Video. And it's going to be available for you Tuesday, June 26th.

Stay tuned for more...
Working on Something New

Sorry I haven't been posting as often. I'm working on something new for teachers that I believe will be a big help...should be ready to talk about it (and give you a preview) within a few days.

Hint: You won't need to say "It's Greek to me!" anymore.

Friday, June 15, 2007

You Need To Prepare

Occasionally I hear teachers and preachers say something like "The Holy Spirit is going to talk through me. So I don't need to prepare."

This is a twisted lie from the pit of hell, my friends. Satan has strengthened the lie by mixing in some truth --the Holy Spirit may speak through you, for the glory ofChrist.

Great Bible Teachers prepare.

They invest time and effort into their teaching ministry.

Often they're able to teachwith little immediate preparation, but that's because they've diligently been studying the Word and practicing their teaching craft. What looks "spontaneous" to you is actually fruit from a long discipleship process, and the spiritual gift of teaching shines through marvelously.

Why should anyone do this? Not because they'll look impressive, and people will think better of them. Not because they get paid more. Because God loves people, gaveus His Word, and wants people to be changed. He calls some to be teachers to build up the body of Christ (Ephesians4:11-12)

"Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."(1 Corinthians 10:31)

If you want to learn exactly how to prepare for any Bible teaching situation, check out the course at .

Never skimp on preparation, dear teacher. People are too important, and the Lord has called you to serve Him with all your strength.
Developing Leaders

Bible teachers are disciplers. Disciplers are in the leadership development business. So consider these useful insights from Tony Morgan on leadership development:

"Leaders can't be recruited from the platform. We have to challenge them one-on-one. Leaders won't be fulfilled performing tasks. We need to give them responsibility. Leaders don't follow doers. We need to make sure they're connected to another strong leader. Leaders don't want to be micromanaged. We have to eliminate the tendency to control the process and, instead, hold people accountable for the outcomes. Leaders won't commit to ambiguity. We need to offer a clear vision. (And, it better be big.) Leaders don't just show up. We have to be intentional about leadership development. "
"When there is no quiet, there can be no loud."

Everyone teaching, preaching, or presenting should ponder that statement.

All of us need to practice speaking through a dynamic range of louder and softer. Need to make a key statement? Speak louder. Need to engage the group with a personal question? Drop your voice a little, and watch how they lean in.

See this article for a little more about volume and dynamic range.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Improve Yourself, Improve Your Teaching

Darryl Wilson captures some key ideas for sharpening yourself -- "the leader is the lesson."

A core principle of our Teach the Bible to Change Lives coaching is that YOU are the tool that God will use to reach people. He is going to work IN you and THROUGH you.

This is summer break for many teachers. This is precisely when you need to invest in your skills and preparation. Study and pray in ways that are not directly connected with a specific lesson that you need to deliver next week. Push yourself in a new direction. Ask the Lord to do mighty things in your heart and mind.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Using Secular News in Your Bible Study

The Bible needs to be at the centerpiece of our study and teaching. You can certainly use compelling secular news and information to engage people and draw them into studying the Word.

Here's one example that might work for a small group Bible study discussion, especially if you have enough mature believers:

Watch this six minute video, "Shift Happens," together and discuss it.

Rather than being discouraged in any way, I suggest you watch it prayerfully, and see how God is at work in this. What other times in the Bible and in history have we seen major shifts in power, influence, commerce, etc.? How does God operate with nations and peoples?

One specific comment:

When they speak of "information," keep in mind that it is not all high-value signal. Much is noise. We simply are more challenged to hear God's voice in the midst of it. Information overload is a convenient myth. You don't explode if you walk into a library or open the phone book, or fire up Google.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Loving Wayward Children

John Piper's son has written an outstanding article on "12 Ways to Love Your Wayward Child." This is filled with tenderness, hope, and good counsel. Recommended even if you don't have a wayward son or daughter!
Managing Class Time

Here's a nice article with good suggestions about managing class time.