Thursday, October 30, 2008

Selfless Defense

If you're teaching about apologetics, then rush to this site:

Selfless Defense

You'll find a large set of short videos you can use -- with accompanying discussion questions, all free. There are also excellent articles (studded with Scripture, written in logic and grace) on multiple topics.

Great resources!

These Things Will Still Be True

A friend forwarded this to me in an email, source unattributed. Good reminder! Top 10 Predictions No Matter Who Wins the Election

1. The Bible will still have all the answers.
2. Prayer will still work.
3. The Holy Spirit will still move.
4. God will still inhabit the praises of His people.
5. There will still be God-anointed preaching.
6. There will still be singing of praise to God.
7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
8. There will still be room at the Cross.
9. Jesus will still love you.
10. Jesus will still save the lost when they come to Him AND….

God approves of this message! ISN'T IT GREAT TO KNOW WHO IS REALLY IN CHARGE?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

10 Principles for Effective Teaching in the Church

I was delighted to find this recent post by Matt Capps, "10 Principles for Effective Teaching in the Church."

1. “The Holy Spirit will work through your teaching”
2. “The goal of teaching is always life change”
3. "Effective teaching is transferrable"
4. "Effective teaching involves the learners"
5. "Effective teachers utilize the learning environment"
6. “Effective teachers assesses the needs of the learners”
7. "Effective teachers consider how each learner learns”
8. "Effective teachers know the material”
9. "The Effective teacher is a student of teaching”
10. "Effective biblical teaching is text driven"

For each principle Matt has a couple of paragraphs of comments. Recommended. This is ideal material to share with the other teachers in your church.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

ESV Study Bible online

Wonderful resource: the ESV Study Bible contents are online, and searchable, can store your own notes there. Excellent articles, maps, and diagrams. Recommended.

What People Believe

Worth thinking about...

“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.

What leaders do: give people stories they can tell themselves. Stories about the future and about change.”

Seth Godin, in Tribes

Monday, October 20, 2008

Making Progress

I've been raking a lot of leaves up in our yard. The trees are mocking me, dropping leaves on me while I rake, and when my back is turned. Mr. Wind is helping the neighbor's trees to mock me, too, blowing more leaves into our yard :-)

Actually, raking leaves is satisfying work. The weather has been nice, it's good exercise, and you can see your progress. It's difficult to see progress in a lot of the work I do, so the clear before/after progress of raking leaves is a nice change of pace.

It raises the question: "How do I know I'm making progress in my walk with the Lord?"

First off, let's be clear: we are supposed to make progress. (See, for example, Philippians 3:12)

But how do we (or others) see progress over time? What's the evidence that progress has occurred? Some possibilities:

Greater love and compassion for others, especially the un-lovely (worldly view) and lost
Increased commitment to serving others, giving of our time, talents, and money
More patience
Persevering love in the midst of challenges
Increased actions based on faith, rather than sight
More time in prayerful conversation with the Lord
Letting go of distractions and "agendas" more often
Less anxiousness
Less fear
Increased knowledge about the Bible

Consider 2 Peter 1:3-11, emphasis mine:

" 3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

I believe in eternal security. I also believe what v.5 and v.10 tells us -- we need to put forth every effort and be eager to do these things (obedience) to make our calling and election sure.

I encourage you to reflect on your progress. What do you need to do today?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

ESV Study Bible

I've ordered my ESV Study Bible, and am looking forward to receiving it. I'll give you my review after I work with it for a while. Looks like a terrific resource -- and there's an expanded online version available as a bonus when you purchase a print copy.

By the way, I have not changed my perspective on the hazards of study bibles (see this and this). Do not use them for devotional reading and meditation on the text, because they're just packed with distractions. Use them as reference tools!

The Gospel Works

Many of my readers and subscribers write me about their particular struggles in teaching situations. (If you'd like to do that, contact me here.) Sometimes I pick up a tone of "I'm looking for the secret manipulation formula so they'll get it!" -- I don't think people are consciously doing this, but in our eagerness to teach and serve, we sometimes focus too much on method and not enough on message.

That's why I was delighted to read a recent "evotional" from Mark Batterson:

"One of the speakers at Catalyst was Franklin Graham. Spitting image of his dad! So forthright. One thing he said really stuck me: "You don't have to help the gospel." He said, "The gospel works." Such a profound reminder.I feel like all of us could do a better job of consistently communicating the simple gospel message. I'm thinking and rethinking how we help people cross the line of faith. As a dad, one of my roles is to engineer experiences that create memories. The end result is a defining moment. In the same sense, as a pastor, I want to set up God encounters. I'm obviously not suggesting we can or try to man-u-facture anything. But I need to be more intentional about helping people create spiritual memories."

Here's a good prayer for teachers: "Father, I know your Gospel works. You've worked into my life. Please do it again in their lives. Glorify your name! Amen."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Patient Instruction

I've received several notes recently from teachers struggling to remain patient with students who don't learn quickly, or seem interested in learning.

"1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."(Ephesians 4:1-6)

Did you catch the counsel there for teachers? "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."

When this kind of frustration happens to us, our irritation and anger is surging because of some dimension of our pride. Yes, it may be true that your students are slow to learn. They may be resistant to incorporating the clear lessons from Scripture into their lives. They may seem dull of hearing, or bored, or desiring more entertainment rather than solid food. But the Lord may well have used these circumstances to expose your pride for what it is.

Our response must be the same as God's response to us: patient instruction, faithful perserverance, humility that we, too, need God's great mercy. We continue to love and bear with one another, acknowledging that living in community is hard at times. We wait and pray for the Holy Spirit to do His work in their hearts (and in our hearts!).

Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Oscillating Between Learning and Teaching

Teaching and Learning work hand-in-hand. They strengthen each other. You learn as you study the Word, as the Lord directs you through life experiences, as you fight the good fight of faith. And you sharpen that learning as you prepare for teaching. Teaching actually widens the avenues of learning!

I've seen many people stagnate or plateau in their learning -- until they teach or mentor others, and then their own growth continues.

I believe God has wired us this way. It's one of the attributes of relational community.

Let me give you some counsel about the rhythm of learning and teaching. You will naturally oscillate between the two. There is a flow between the "modes" of being a student and being a teacher. Neither is better than the other; they complement one another! Trust that the flow between them is a positive experience.

My recommendation is to monitor your motivation. If you monitor your motivation level, you'll notice that sometimes feel more motivated to learn and study. Other times, it will swing and you'll feel practically compelled to teach. (I believe this is often a signal from our Lord, a calling.) When you feel less motivated to teach, switch to student mode. And when your motivation for learning more weakens, see if switching to teaching mode is helpful.

My personal observation is that when I resist this "motivation" signal, I only feel more lazy, more uninspired. My enthusiasm is rejuvenated when I honor it.

Have I also handled this teacher/student oscillation well? No. I'm still learning! (And now I'm in teaching mode :-)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Base Materials for Teaching Biblical Principles of Money

I've gotten a few requests about good materials for teaching classes on handling money God's way. This is certainly an important topic for the Church today!

I heartily recommend the materials you can find at the Ten Talents Club. You can get to all their resources through Todd Smith's page (Don't miss the great story about the killer mold in their basement and the "spacemen" who come to take care of it.)

(By the way, I'm not making any commission here, just recommending solid materials you can trust.)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Ilustrations of the Temple

The soon-to-be-released ESV Study Bible has some wonderful illustrations. The latest to be previewed are of the Temple. These give you a much better feel for the dimensions!

As you may know, I'm not generally a fan of study Bibles for regular devotions (all the extras distract people from the text), but they are great for reference. I plan to get a copy of the ESV Study Bible and will let you know what I think about it.