Thursday, April 29, 2010

How to Interpret Flak

"But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me." (1 Cor 16:8-9)

Everyone serving the Lord will run into all kinds of opposition. There are people who seem to work against you. There are circumstances that trouble you and impede progress. There are emotional and physical lows that threaten the joy and peace in your heart.

Let's call this flak. That's what airmen in WWII called the anti-aircraft artillery lobbed at them. Occasionally there were direct hits, but the real danger was an exploding shell above your plane, which could blow off your wings. (Wings can take terrific stress from below, but not from above.)

The American bombers used fairly sophisticated navigation and sighting equipment to find their targets. I heard an interview with a vet who talked about how they managed in poor weather, or if fog or low-lying clouds obscured their view of the ground targets. "Oh, that was easy," he said. "When the flak started, you knew you were over the target."

Notice how Paul describes the opportunity he found for the Gospel at Ephesus: and open door, AND "there are many who oppose me." You could say that Paul knew this was effective ministry because he was getting flak!

So if you're feeling opposition and discouragement, persevere because that kind of flak is best interpreted as being over the ministry target.

Remember, too, that ministry is always a team effort. Even if you feel you're alone, it's actually God and you at work.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Don't Rap, But This Is Pretty Cool!

There's power in all kinds of presentation styles! Check this out:

What could you do differently to grab their attention and get God's message across?

Forgetting is Our Default State

There's an old joke that men aren't stupid, they just have poor retention.

(It's a good joke because there's some truth in it!)

The word "remember" appears 167 times in the NIV translation of the Bible. Most of the time it is a command, or an admonition to not forget.

We're commanded to do what we don't do naturally. We understand from Scripture that we frequently forget important things. Forgetting is our default state! Therefore we need to work hard at remembering, and helping our families remember the important things about God, ourselves, and the Gospel.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Teach Progressively

One of my biggest problems in teaching (and I don't think I'm alone in this) is trying to cover too much material in a lesson. I'm excited! There's enormous depth in God's Word, and I want people to get this! There are moments of silence in the group and I'm eager to fill it with more information! I want everyone to be impressed with how much I know!

I've said it before, and I'll say it here: Teach less material, and teach it well.

Study how Jesus teaches. He gives people information in progressive stages, and does not try to pack in everything that could be known at any one subject in one session. For example, how much more could Jesus have said about the Holy Spirit in John 14:16-17? "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." Jesus could have spent hours on the Holy Spirit, but He didn't. He gave His disciples what they needed to know for the moment.

Later Jesus tells His disciples: "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth." (John 16:12-13) Note that key phrase "more than you can now bear." It's one of the challenges that we teachers face, to discern how much a person or a group can bear at this time.

The Bible story is filled with progressive revelation. God doesn't tell Noah everything, or Abraham, or David. He gives them commands and expects obedience. God reveals only what is necessary for each stage of His people's experience of Him. And He builds on the foundations of what came before.

When you're making decisions about how much to cover in a lesson, err on the side of teaching less information, and teaching it well. Finish with time to spare, rather than diving into something they cannot absorb.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Piecing Together the Gospel Story in Prison

I recommend this clip from the movie Amistad for several reasons. First, it's encouraging the moving. Second, as a teacher, don't underestimate the power of the Gospel message to cross language barriers, or the impact of pictures.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Reality of the Resurrection

Post-Easter is always a good time to talk about the Resurrection of our Lord -- many seekers and skeptics are open to this kind of conversation. Help your students be prepared with this excellent article by Matt Perman -- you'll strengthen their faith, too.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Memorization Tool

Easy to use online tool to help you memorize text or lists: Very slick, very useful. You can get answers to your questions about how to use it at the FAQ page.

That's My King

Terrific presentation!