Saturday, May 09, 2009


Teachers, I'm going to take a blogging hiatus through June. I plan to shift gears and focus more attention on writing projects. Please pray for me, as I will continue praying for you!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Conviction from God? Or Accusation by Satan?

"How can I tell the difference between the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit and the accusing attacks of Satan?"  Ray Ortlund give us a succinct guide to distinguishing these:

"1. The Holy Spirit puts his finger on a specific sin I have committed, something concrete I can own and confess, but the accusations of Satan are vague and simply demoralizing.

2. The Holy Spirit shows me Christ, the mighty Friend of sinners, but the devil wants me spiraling down into negative self-focus.

3. The Holy Spirit leads me to a threshold of new life, but the devil wants to paralyze me where I am.

4. The Holy Spirit brings brings peace of heart along with a new hatred of sin, so that I bow before Jesus in reconsecration, but the devil offers peace of mind with smug relief, so that I fold my arms and say, "There, that's over with."

5. The Holy Spirit helps me to be so open to God that I allow him to control the conversation, but the devil tempts me to take off the table certain questions I just don't want God to talk to me about."

Knowing is Important, but Not Without Obedience

Jesus commanded us to make disciples, teaching them to obey everything He commanded.  Our friends at the Sunday School Revolutionary have some excellent tips for Bible teachers on fostering obedience, not just knowledge.  I particularly like the idea of helping students design the future. 

Good stuff, recommended.  

What other tips do you have for helping students (of all ages) learn to obey?

Dangers of "Fruitfulness" Without Holiness

Every Bible teacher should read Michael Oh's short article "The Danger of “Fruitfulness” without Purity: Thoughts on Personal Holiness and Ministry by a Younger Leader" . We have an endemic issue of talent substituting for personal holiness.

"Years ago, I asked Jim Downing, one of the patriarchs of the Navigator work, “Why is it that so few men finish well?” His response was profound. He said, “They learn the possibility of being fruitful without being pure. God is slow to remove his hand on a man he has anointed. One day that man may sin, then experience God’s blessing. Then it happens again and again and he begins to believe that purity doesn’t matter. Eventually, he becomes like a tree rotting inside that is eventually toppled by a storm.”

Let us guard our purity and inner life, that we might teach to change lives!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Connecting With Not-Yet Believers

Check out these excellent suggestions to help you connect more often with not-yet believers. Get out of the evangelical ghetto zone.

Grace To, Grace With

There is a curious and powerful pattern in Paul's letters in the New Testament.

Near the beginning of his letter to writes "Grace to you."

"Grace and peace to you from God our Father." (Col 1:2)

And at the end of the letter he concludes "Grace with you."

"Grace be with you." (Col 4:18)

Grace comes from God and goes with us. In your teaching, make sure you are conveying both, in order to strongly encourage your listeners.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

A Bible Teacher's Best Approach to Reading and Studying the Bible

I really enjoyed the way Peter Mead recommends reading and studying the Bible. It's a combination of two practices, approached differently:
1. Reading broadly -- the whole Bible
2. Studying deeply -- book by book

He explains how this works like a foundation and building a brick wall:

"Half 1 = Foundation - The foundation is to be reading through the whole Bible. My strong encouragement is to keep reading through the whole Bible, at a fairly persistent pace. Allow the big story to wash through you. Don’t get caught up in details, or in trying to remember every interesting fact you find. Don’t try to pronounce every long name. Just keep moving. Like pouring water through a sieve, the goal is not to retain, but to be cleaned and to get a big picture awareness of the Bible God has given to us.

Half 2 = Brick Wall - With the other half of the time available I suggest getting your teeth into study. By default I would suggest a book-by-book approach. God didn’t give us a topical index, or a collection of proof texts; He gave us a collection of books. So pick a Bible book and study it. Use whatever skill and resources you have. Begin with inductive study of the book, constantly moving between analysis of the details and synthesis of the whole. If you have original language skill, use it. If you have quality commentaries, eventually consult them. Make it your goal to master and be mastered by the book you are studying. After a few weeks of this you will find that your motivation for that book wanes and you feel like you are coming to finish point in your study. I like to be able to explain my way through a book, section by section, without looking at the text. Perhaps you would choose another way to define the finish line. Then move to another book you want to study. Periodically you can do a topical study, or a character study, or a theological study, or whatever, but default back to book by book."

This is very similar to what I recommend in my book, "Teach the Bible to Change Lives." In every case where I've seen people practice reading and studying this way, their insights and understanding dramatically improve.

Put this into practice, teachers!