Sunday, August 30, 2009

About Inerrancy of Scripture

Here is helpful presentation by D.A. Carson on the meaning of inerrancy of Scripture:

Scripture is reliable, trustworthy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Have Fun While You Teach

I've been coaching two Bible teachers who are at the edge of burnout. They're extremely talented, have a long history of effective ministry, and yet...they're bored, angry, hurt, and worn out.

Would you like to hear the advice I gave them? It might sound wacky to you.

Here is it:

Have fun with your teaching. Stop looking at it as a duty, as work, as something heavy and overwhelming. Aim for joy in teaching.

The best Bible teachers, in my observation, have a lot of fun as they're teaching. They're enjoying themselves. And their students respond to this as well. I'm not saying that they're entertaining just to be entertaining, or softening the truth of the message. But you can see it in their faces how much they're enjoying the ministry.

I read recently about the Tarahumara runners in Mexico -- who routinely run many miles, even long than 24 hours. Their focus? The enjoyment of running:

"The Tarahumara don’t train for peak performance. They don’t wear high-tech running shoes. They don’t optimize their diet – more often than not, they smoke and pound corn beer minutes before the “race” begins. They aren’t “in it to win it” – there’s a bit of friendly competitiveness, but hard-core competition is unheard of.

The Tarahumara simply start running, and by the time they stop, several hours (or days) have passed and they’re tens (or hundreds) of miles from where they started. It’s not uncommon for them to run the equivalent of several marathons back-to-back, take a break, then go for another run.

The Tarahumara don’t do a lot of things, but what they do is essential: they just relax and enjoy the feel of moving." -- from a blog post by Josh Kaufman

What can you do this week to focus more on the enjoyment factor as you prepare lessons and deliver them? Relax and feel the Holy Spirit moving.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Get the Chronological Picture of the Bible Timeline

One of the most powerful and effective things you can do for the people you're teaching is to help them grasp the chronology of the Bible story, and how it aligns with other events in world history. Relatively few Christians have a good understanding of this.

You can certainly steer people to a chronological Bible, or a reading plan that takes them through the Bible in chronological order. Fortunately many study Bibles give some chronological information.

I recommend you help them by using a Bible timeline tool. This not only helps them understand the order and time-spacing of the Biblical accounts, but connects it with what else was going on in the world at that time.

Rose Publishing produces a 20 foot long card stock timeline that would be nice to post on the wall.

Years ago I found a small size foldout that I still carry in my Bible, but I can't find that online for sale anywhere now. (Let me know if you have a source.)

The most detailed Bible timeline tool I've ever seen is available as a PDF file at a modest price, well worth it. The advantage of the PDF file is it's versatility. You can enlarge just a section of it and put it in a handout. You can pull it up on a computer screen and project it on the wall if you have that technology. You can print it off for your own purposes in different sizes. If your printout is damaged or dirty, simply print a fresh copy.

Walking a group through the biblical timeline makes for a wonderful class or study group series. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how interested people are when they see the biblical story laid out this way, and the questions that will surface.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

How to Find Bible Studies on _____

Almost weekly I'm asked "Do you have a Bible study I can use on______?"

Sometimes people ask me this because they don't know how to find a study. Since you're reading this on the Internet, there's a very easy set of solutions to help you for study materials on any passage or topic you might be interested in:

1. Go to Google and search the words "what you want to study" and "Bible study." So if you're looking for a Bible study on the Sermon on the Mount, you would search for "Sermon on the Mount Bible study"

2. Now take a 2nd step and search for sermons. Repeat step one but in place of "Bible study" search for the word "sermon."

Those two searches will generate many links that you can start checking out.

Of course many people already had some kind of start. What they really want is a recommendation from a trusted person, because that's the real problem now: How to sort out the best, most useful information from all the search results!

This takes some discernment. If the Bible study or sermon comes from a person or organization (local church, seminary, denomination) you trust, that's a good start. Even then you need to cross-check and evaluate what they say against Scripture (like the Bereans!)

If you're looking for an "instant" Bible study on a topic, you can find raw materials very quickly, but you still need to be responsible and do you part to vet the information. It's not usually as much of a shortcut timewise as people expect.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Free Verse Card maker

If you're memorizing verses, check out Michael Scott's free software to produce memory cards . You enter a list of verses (up to 100), then the software pulls the Bible verse for each and formats a PDF page so you can print 2-sided business card-sized memory cards . Slick! Caveat: works only with the ESV translation.

HT: Between Two Worlds

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Resource for Biblical Geography and History

If you're interested in Biblical geography and history, check out the catalog at Bible Books & Maps. They have about 3000 unique maps from ancient times to the modern Middle East, and a wide range of books on history of the biblical lands.

Maps are valuable teaching tools -- you need to give your students a strong visual understanding of the geography of some stories to help them appreciate the depth and richness. The maps in most Bibles are fairly limited and not nearly as detailed as what you can find in a collection like these.

ESV Study Bible

I've gotten more questions about the ESV Study Bible. See my two review videos below. I continue to use my Thompson's Chain Reference Bible most often, and feel the ESV Study Bible is one of the best reference tools you can have.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Three Take-Aways from Dale Carnegie on Public Speaking

Jerry Bridges was asked "What single piece of counsel (or constructive criticism) has most improved your preaching?"

I liked his response:

"Years ago I took the Dale Carnegie public speaking course. In it I learned three things that I try to practice: 1) Know your subject thoroughly. 2) Be convinced your audience needs to hear your message. 3) Have a strong passion to deliver the message. Though these principles were applied in the context of secular speeches, I found them very helpful for my message preparation and delivery." Source

The same could be said for great Bible teaching! You should know your passage very well, be convicted (not just convinced, but under conviction!) that your students need to hear this message, and deliver your lesson material with passion and enthusiasm.

These things are essential to the craft of teaching the Bible to change lives!
What can you do this week to sharpen all three?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Disciplined Reading for Bible Teachers

I frequently get questions about what books I recommend for Bible teachers to read. Reading sharpens your mind, gives you access to others' experiences, provides abundant fodder for illustrations when teaching, and improves your perspective.

My general recommendations about reading are:

1. Never short-change your time in the Bible in order to read other materials.
2. Skim widely, on many subjects. Be selective up front about what materials are worth more to you than skimming, and you can save a lot of time.
3. Allocate more time and study to the best authors. Over time you will find a number of books that are worth rereading periodically.
4. Keep reading materials with you, in order to take advantage of times that become available during the day.
5. Mark up your reading. Interact with it. Learn from it. Think about what you're reading.

If you're looking for specific title recommendations, see my list of 75 books which have been very influential on me.

You need to plan to read well. It takes some effort, but remember: we tend to overestimate how much we can do in a day or a week, and greatly underestimate what we can do in a year or 5 years.

If you'd like to learn my strategies for learning faster (not just reading fast, but learning fast, and retaining information), then see Keys to Accelerated Learning

Great Bible teachers are great readers.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What Church Isn't

One of the responsibilities you have as a Bible teacher is aligning people with the truth of Scripture, and dispelling wrong notions. This is in part why teachers are held to higher standards!

I find that many people have unbiblical ideas about the nature of the Church. (If you quiz them, they might give you the "right" answers, but their behavior and attitudes tell me what they really believe.)

So I was delighted to find Brad Ruggle's blog post about "What Church Isn't" and heartily recommend it to you. This could readily be the basis for a nice small group discussion or Sunday School lesson, with some meaty application.


Church Isn’t About Protecting Christians From The World

Church Isn’t A Club

Church Isn’t An Event

Church Isn’t A Location or Building

Church Isn’t A Denomination

Church Isn’t About You

Read the details here.

What are other areas where you believe we need to correct people's incorrect understanding?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Amazing Bible Maps is a great mashup of Google Maps and the Bible. All the maps are tied to Scripture passages. It's a very helpful tool for understanding the geographical background of events, overlaid on modern satellite maps. Free!

Bookmark this one, you'll come up with ways to use it.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Neither Born nor Made

Peter Drucker was asked about leaders once, and said:

"Most leaders I've seen were neither born nor made. They were self-made. We need far too many leaders to depend only on the naturals." (quoted in an interview with Jeffrey A. Krames, printed in "Inside Drucker's Brain" p. 203)

The same is true for Bible teachers! No one is born a Bible teacher. And without work on your part, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, no one can make you into a Bible teacher.

And like Drucker's example of leaders, we need MANY more Bible teachers! Check out these free resources for Bible teachers, part of our initiative to develop 400,000 more Bible teachers by 2021.