Wednesday, November 26, 2008

First Thanksgiving Day Proclamation (1777)

Here is the country's first Thanksgiving Day proclamation on Dec. 18, 1777:

"That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him ­graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole." -- Henry Laurens, President of the Continental Congress

People just don't write like that anymore!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship with Adult Students

In my book, "Teach the Bible to Change Lives" I emphasize the importance of follow-up communications with your students between lessons.

Our friends at The Sunday School Revolutionary have posted a nice list of suggestions for building relationships with your students -- which will make your teaching more effective! Recommended.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ben Hur Gets More Than Water

This scene moves me to tears. Ben Hur prays for God to help him, Jesus tenderly provides him water, and the centurion is powerless in gaze of God incarnate!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Questions about "Emergent" Churches

I've gotten several questions recently like this one: "What do you think about the emergent church movement?"

It's nice to see people excited about God and addressing the culture, trying to reach out to people that "traditional" churches are not reaching. My concern is that at least some of the leading pastors in this "movement" appear to me to be walking away from the clear Gospel message and orthodox theology.

I think Mark Driscoll has some useful insights. Here's a short video where he explains some of the variants of "emerging" churches. He also outlines some of the theological positions of "streams" within the movement in this PDF document.

So there are some positives, and some dangers. My counsel: Guard yourself! Stay true to the Gospel! Depend upon God's grace!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

John Piper on the ESV

I've had a few questions about the English Standard Version (ESV) translation. Check out this excellent resource on the ESV translation.

And here is a short video of John Piper's comments about the ESV:

My Review of the ESV Study Bible

I've created 2 videos for you as my review of the ESV Study Bible. The first is my comments about the doctrinal position of this study Bible, how you use study Bibles, and the physical book itself. I tell you how I think it compares with the popular NIV Study Bible, Thompson's Chain Reference Bible, and the Life Application Study Bible.

In this second video I give you a tour of the contents -- which are available online using a special code you get when you purchase a copy. There are some terrific features here! Plus I show you a slick trick to make it easier to read.

Crossway has created an information site with more video tours, lists of features, how it was created, and a free preview version of the online tool.

I recommend you get a copy of the ESV Study Bible. It's a great addition to your reference collection as a Bible teacher, and will be useful for years to come. More details below from CBD, which is the cheapest place to get your copy.

(Also, I'm interested in any feedback you have about the videos. I'm still learning a good deal about how to create and publish online video, so your feedback is helpful.)

502415: ESV Study Bible, HardcoverESV Study Bible, Hardcover

By Crossway Books & Bibles

The ESV Study Bible includes more than 25,000 notes, written specifically for the ESV Study Bible. These notes focus especially on understanding the meaning of the text, giving answers to frequently raised questions, and providing theological, historical, and archaeological background—all for the purpose of helping readers to understand the Bible in a deeper way.

The ESV Study Bible also provides a wealth of additional resources. Thus the introductions to each book include essential information about the author, date, and place of writing; an extensive chart of key themes; a summary of how the book fits in with the rest of the biblical storyline; a description of literary features; an outline of the book; and a large full-color map showing the setting of the book.

Another unique feature is the inclusion of over 50 helpful articles on topics such as the authority and truthfulness of the Bible, reading the Bible for application, the Bible in worship and prayer, the reliability of the biblical manuscripts, the relationship between archaeology and the Bible, an overview of biblical theology, and many more.

Other key resources include a system of 80,000 cross references and a concordance (which together facilitate easy location of important words, passages, and biblical themes). In addition, over 200 color charts, located throughout the Bible, provide clear, concise presentations of essential information.


  • The ESV Bible text is set in highly readable 9-point type, in a single-column, book-text format.

  • Section summaries are highlighted for easy location throughout the notes. Summaries provide an overview of each main section and correspond to the outline shown in the introduction for each book.

  • Over 200 full-color maps printed throughout make events and places in the Bible come to life.

  • Over 25,000 notes focus especially on understanding the Bible text and providing answers to frequently raised issues. Words from the Bible text are printed in bold for easy reference.

  • Over 80,000 cross-references provide easy access to key words, passages, and themes throughout the Bible.

  • Numerous diagrams bring fresh understanding to key places and events in the Bible, based on the best, most recent historical and archaeological research.

  • Over 200 charts provide concise, “at a glance” summaries of important themes and teaching.

  • Presentation page

  • Family Record pages

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lost in the Middle -- recommended book

I'm 46. I'm at a point now where I think more about the past, trying to make sense of the story, and thinking about finishing strong.

This book has been extraordinarily helpful for me:

Lost in the Middle: Midlife and the Grace of God
by Paul David Tripp

Tripp ( the author of "Age of Opportunity," about parenting teenagers -- also very good) helped me recognize the grace of God in new ways. Frankly, my definition of Grace was simply too narrow, too selfish.

Complete details below -- HIGHLY recommended. There is a lot of material here to help you with counseling situations, and it would make an outstanding resource for a small group or adult Bible class. The book is studded with Scripture.

301681: Lost In The Middle: Midlife and The Grace of GodLost In The Middle: Midlife and The Grace of God

By Paul Tripp / Shepherd Press

The Bible never discusses midlife, just like it never discusses teenagers. Yet the Bible is able to unpack any of life’s experiences because it was written by the One who made them all. Life on this side of glory is hard. This world is a broken place. You will face things in midlife that beat at the borders of your faith, but you do not have to be lost in the middle of your story.

You do not have to be paralyzed by regret, defeated by aging, and discouraged by the passing of your dreams. You do not have to make greater trouble out of the trouble you are already experiencing. This time of life, which can seem like the end of many things, can actually welcome you to a brand new way of living. As is so often the case in your walk with the Lord, this moment of pain is also a moment of grace. Because of this, all of us need to occasionally step back, slow down, and consider where we are going. Lost in the Middle will help you to do just that.

One final word: Although this book is targeted at those who are struggling with the issues of midlife, it has a much broader net than that. Lost in the Middle can help all who are struggling with life in this broken world and have lost their way. The God who seems so distant to you in this moment is actually near and active. Lost in the Middle is written to give you eyes to see him, to see yourself more clearly, and to find the real hope that you need to carry on.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

ESV Study Bible review coming soon

I've had a few questions about the ESV Study Bible. My review is coming soon!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Spiritual Gifts Guide

Every church should have regular and quality teaching about spiritual gifts. It amazes me how few Christians know which spiritual gifts they've been given, and are focusing on ministries that use them well.

I recommend you check out The Spiritual Gifts Guide to jump start a regular teaching process in this area. Your people need coaching, instruction, and encouragement about spiritual gifts.

Please note this resource is not free. There are many free articles and lessons about spiritual gifts -- check them doctrinally to make sure they match your convictions and traditions. The reason I'm recommending The Spiritual Gifts Guide is that it's set up to help teachers and pastors. You get decent lessons, handouts, and guidance on how to teach. It's a good package and will save you time.

I'm not making any money by recommending this resource, by the way.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Three Questions to Ask Yourself Each Day

My roommate threw the little green New Testament across the room. It hit me in the head. He spluttered, "If you're going to complain about it, you have to read it! And answer two questions: Who is Jesus? And what are you going to do about that?"

I took Matt at his word, reading the New Testament in three days. I was amazed, this Jesus was real! He was bold and gentle. He was God incarnate. I had thought that the disciples had made up all these stories, but reading them seriously as an adult, I realized this could not be true. (For starters, they would have made themselves look a lot smarter!) I answered Matt's questions, and committed my life to Jesus as my true Savior and Lord.

Those two questions got me started 23 years ago. I still try to ask and answer these two each day:
Who is Jesus?
What will I do about that, today?

And I now recommend a third questions to you:
"Where is your faith?"

This is what Jesus asked His disciples in the boat, after He calmed the storm (see Luke 8:25). After we have started on our walk with Jesus, we still need faith. "Without faith it is impossible to please God..." (Hebrews 11:6) Our faith is neither blind nor vague, but solidly rooted in the Person and promise of Jesus our Lord.

Each day, renew your mind (see Romans 12:1-2) by reminding yourself about Jesus as Savior, Creator, Master, Teacher, Friend, and Lord.

Each day, seek the Lord's guidance about how to love Him and serve Him by loving others and using the abilities He gave you.

Each day, fight against doubt, fear, and pride by putting your faith in Jesus.

Each day, ask and answer these questions:

Who is Jesus?
What will I do about that today?
Where is my faith?

May our gracious Lord glorify His Name in and through you, each day.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Words, Love, and Worship

If you're teaching from James 3, check out this powerful video.

If you're not teaching from James 3, check out this powerful video.

Six minutes, well worth your time.