Friday, August 31, 2007

How to Do a Gut Check

I like Perry Noble's gut check questions:

Am I listening to the voice of God?
Am I taking risks?
Am I understanding how big God is?
Am I surrounding myself with the right people?
Am I giving it my best?

Good for all of us to ask these questions!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

John Piper on Romans 5

Check this helpful, passionate video excerpt of John Piper talking about the gospel -- clear without cross-cultural addition.
Three Tuesdays Lesson Recap

I wanted to recap our "Three Tuesdays in August" series designed to help you prepare to teach. You can go back anytime to get these free lessons:

How to Prepare in the Next 30 Days (audio)

Keys to Fabulous Short Devotions (audio)

Overview of the Four Elements of Great Bible Teaching (video)

How to Create and Use Biblical Frameworks (video)

If you found these lessons helpful, let me know!
Have You Looked At Acts Like This?

Gregory Koukl has published a detailed outline of Divine Direction and Decision Making in the Book of Acts (free).

It's different than the biblical framework approach that I encourage, but a terrific model to study. It's detailed. It's structured so that you can make sense of it. It points out how God operates differently than we expect. It's studded with Scripture.

Can you dissect a book of the Bible like this? Or work through a theme, and organize material for lessons and Bible studies? If not, what do you need to start doing so you can do this?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Four Elements of Great Bible Teaching -- Video Overview

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Interactive Bible Map Mashup

Very cool: a Google maps mashup with a Bible atlas, linking place names and Scripture. You can zoom in and out, toggle between satellite (very good for getting a sense of geography), line maps, or a hybrid. Slick stuff.

Try looking at

Genesis 28 to learn about Bethel
Joshua 12 -- listing all the kings Israel defeated
Micah 1 -- Jerusalem, Samaria, and a host of smaller cities
Luke 10 -- Sodom, Bethsaida, etc.

Click on either the city name in the text, or the colored "popsicles" on the map display to get details about the locations, and where they are referenced in the Bible.

This free tool is in beta, and they continue to add features. May the Lord bless their ministry to all of us!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I'd Like More Than $3 Worth

This cut me deeply. It's a quote from D.A. Carson's book, Basics for Believers.

* * * *
I would like to buy about three dollars worth of gospel, please.

Not too much – just enough to make me happy, but not so much that I get addicted.

I don’t want so much gospel that I learn to really hate covetousness and lust. I certainly don’t want so much that I start to love my enemies, cherish self-denial, and contemplate missionary service in some alien culture.

I want ecstasy, not repentance; I want transcendence, not transformation.

I would like to be cherished by some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don’t want to love those from different races – especially if they smell.

I would like enough gospel to make my family secure and my children well behaved, but not so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged.

I would like about three dollars worth of the gospel, please.
Planning a Sunday School Lesson Experience

Daryl Wilson from The Sunday School Revolutionary talks about planning an experience (rather than a lesson), taking into account different adult learning styles.

Good teaching is about creating an environment where learning is more likely to happen. That's teaching to change lives -- not just tickle ears or entertain.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Three Tuesdays in August

For three Tuesdays in August I've been releasing free training materials for Bible teachers:

Keys to Fabulous Short Devotions (audio)
Overview of the Four Elements of Great Bible Teaching (video)
Why and How to Create Biblical Frameworks for Wise Thinking (video)

These will help you get ready to teach. Enjoy!
Can We Trust the Gospels?

Good interview recording with Dr. Mark Roberts on the reliability of the Gospel accounts.

"When the question is asked "\'Can we trust the Gospels?' we usually ask that question from our 21st century perspective. But Roberts points out that we must understand that standards and practice of historians at the time the Gospels were written. They are different standards than ours to some extent, but still yield a reliable record, especially when you factor in the importance of what the writers believed they were conveying." -- from Stand to Reason blog

I still vividly remembering reading the whole NT in 3 days as a desperately seeking adult. I was amazed! This Jesus was not like what I remember from Sunday School. No Breck girl in a beauty pageant sash! The Jesus of the Gospels is tough and tender, bold and gentle. I also remember thinking, "If the disciples made this up, it would read differently. They wouldn't make themselves look like idiots." These insights -- that the NT does have the feel of fiction --were convincing to me.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Using Words Appropriately
Eschatology is a perfectly useful word -- but you have to explain what it is (and isn't).
I hope that you are often teaching not-yet believers and new believers. Be extra cautious about your fancy words, so you don't lose or confuse your students.
Name of God is Precious

So a Roman Catholic bishop in the Netherlands suggests that Christians and Jews use the name Allah when we refer to God, to promote interfaith understanding and acceptance.

I think the bishop's name is Pol Pot. Oh wait, his name is actually Tiny Muskens, but I'm sure he's ok if we call him other names so we can all feel better together.

The Name of God is precious. It's hard to read the Bible and miss that.

In Christ we will love others, even those who (now) curse our Lord and curse us. God continues to grant them opportunity to repent. But let us not for one microsecond think that God's name isn't precious and holy, because He is generous to good and evil and desires to see everyone come to Him.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Establishing the Canon of Scripture

Useful insight into a pattern of church history here -- accepted authority exists, then there's a challenge, and it becomes formalized:

"The canon of Scripture wasn't a real point of ambiguity even though it was not formally fixed for a few centuries, and then only because what was commonly held was challenged by some. The general agreement prior to that made a formal statement unnecessary. That's been the pattern throughout church history. Some things just aren't officially stated until it's under challenge. That's not to be mistaken for lack of a clear position prior to the formal statement. ...

F.F. Bruce explains well in his book The Canon of Scripture that the books of the New Testament were accepted quite early based on apostolic authority. The practices of the early church, how they used these books in church services and to get authoritative teaching, demonstrate that there was an early consensus about the canon. Other writings were sometimes used as sources of devotional teaching or encouragement, but the practice of the church elevated the books later formalized as the canon very early. It wasn't a decision that was left for centuries; it was only left to make official what was practiced. The sorting out of canonical Scripture from other writings was done very early and these books were used by the church as Scripture on par with the Old Testament books as God's Word."

I think the same thing was true for the challenges that led to the 1st council of Nicea.
Chew on One Book

For some years I have recommended people study a book of the Bible in breadth/depth by reading it repeatedly. So it' s nice to see this post from Stand to Reason, "Mastering the Bible."

How much can our Lord do in and through you when you've mastered a small number of key books of the Bible? Pick just Mark and Colossians to start!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Get a Look INSIDE "Lasting Student Ministry"

I highly recommend Scott Aughtmon's book, Lasting Student Ministry. I got his permission to make a video that explains why I recommend it, and gives you a peek INSIDE the book. Go here to check out.

If you're not focused on student ministry, this book is still valuable for you - the principles and suggestions apply to all kinds of effective ministry, and it's an excellent gift for a youth pastor in your church.

I've been using Google's free email service (gmail) since 2005. It's so much superior to Yahoo or Hotmail! If you are in the US, you can simply go here to set up an account (free): , click on the signup link there.

If you live outside the US, and would like an account, you might need an invitation. Contact me and I will send you one. Send an email message to

info with your request.
Read the NT in a Month

May I recommend something fresh for you? Get a different translation than you usually use, and read the whole New Testament in a month. You can do that easily by reading 10 chapters a day (there are 270 chapters altogether).

I'm doing this now with The Message translation, and it's refreshing. I'm not drilling down and trying to get everything possible out of each passage. Rather, my aim is simply to saturate myself in the story again. (It's easier to do this if you use a different translation than you are accustomed to in your regular study.) I'm finding it fun, and frequently smiling or crying with amazement and joy.

It's a terrific way to reconnect with the freshness of God's Word. In fact, you'll probably find 10 chapters goes by so quickly that you read more!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Discussion-based Teaching

I'm a proponent of teaching styles that promote interaction between the teacher and the students. Engaged people learn better, and learn more.

I'm not advocating an opinion-fest where someone is just facilitating a dialogue. Teaching still needs to happen. The teacher is responsible for structuring the overall lesson, understand the objectives, and using interaction tools (like discussion around a point or issue) to move people in the right direction.

Kenneth O. Gangel has a nice article, "Teaching by Discussion" that's worth reading, especially the section on Principles.