Saturday, July 31, 2010

Advice on Reading Better

I suppose you could be a great Bible teacher without being a reader...but I don't know any myself. Reading well helps prepare you to be a strong teacher.

Of course there are more things to read today than you could ever get to. (I try to read 2 to 3 books each week, plus many articles and blogs online. Figuring out what's worth reading is always a critical issue, no matter how fast you can cover material.) So how do you discern what's best? Tim Challies takes guidance from Richard Baxter, the great Puritan preacher, in his short article "Read Better with Baxter." Recommended.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Teach to Shape and Help Teachers

Not everyone you teach will become a formal Bible teacher in a classroom or congregation or small group. That's a given.

But a large fraction of the people you're teaching will be in teaching roles and leading roles in the future. They're helping their children at home. They're leading devotions. They're contributing to good conversations with neighbors and co-workers. They're answering questions and testifying to the goodness of God. Many times they will be teaching and be completely unaware that they're teaching.

Therefore it's not enough to teach as though the information you're sharing will stop with them, or the methods you use only apply in this setting. Remember, these people will be imitating you.

Most of us need a mindset change: we're not teaching, we're teaching teachers!

Here's where to start: Prayer. "Lord, help me teach people who will teach. What do they need to know? What should I be modeling for them as we study Your Word together?"

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Teach to the Text, Not the Section/Chapter Headings!

Please...Please...Please teach to the flow of the passage, and don't arbitarily begin/end your teaching with chapter headings or section headings.

Here is one section in Ephesians 5 in my Bible:

Wives and Husbands

22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

But to teach this properly I suggest you teach starting from verse 21, rather than verse 22:

21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Beginning there gives the proper context!

Watch for this as you teach.

Extra credit:
Learn more about the history of how chapter and verse designations were created.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Don't Disparage Comments

Occasionally people will make comments in your class or Bible study time that, well, aren't the best. They may be factually wrong. They may be lacking in tact or good taste. They may words that tear others down or emphasize "us vs. them" with pride.

But you as the teacher NEVER should disparage or belittle someone based on their comments.

First off, if you want people to comment or speak up, you can't throw cold water on them. Or leave Scott with an impression that you'll blast them like you did last week to Susie and Bob. Warm, loving responses -- even when correction is involved -- keep people engaged. Unengaged people aren't learning, or applying what they learn.

Second, you do need to responsibly correct factual errors. Sometimes it's helpful to ask "Can you support that from Scripture?" as a way of helping people back to biblical truth. You don't have to say "WRONG, Dunderhead!" to help people understand that their position isn't biblical.

The most difficult situations are when someone is factually correct but expresses it in an unhelpful way. One approach that works for me is to say, "May I challenge you a little on that? What I hear you saying is _______. Considering our responsibilities to build others up and love even the unlovely, in the power of the Holy Spirit, what if you were to say _________ instead?" See how I make that a question? That really helps minimize their tendency to become defensive and angry.

Lecturing is the easy route for teachers, but it rarely is effective at teaching to change lives. Engaging people in dialogue is more difficult, but exponentially more rewarding for everyone. Ask the Lord to grant you wisdom as you teach and interact with others.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Good reminders -- for AFTER you teach

There's often a let-down and low period after you teach. You're potentially more vulnerable then than at any other time if you teach regularly.

Perry Noble expressed 10 things to focus on
-- as only Perry can! Pay attention to #7 and #10.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Comparison vs. Command -- Only One is Commanded

(This is based on a devotion I did for our church business meeting recently. -- Glenn)

Let's fly through the whole story of Scripture. I'd like you to pay attention to the patterns of "one" and "many."

God created the universe, selected one planet, and planted one garden.
He put one man, Adam, into the garden, and gave him one helpmate.
After they sinned God began to unfold His plan of redemption.
People multiplied over the earth, all with one language.
They started to build the Tower of Babel and God caused them to have many languages. God is still the one God over all the ethne (or nations).
God chooses one man (Abram) and creates one nation (Israel) to bless all the nations.
They have one tabernacle, then one temple.
In the fullness of time one man comes, lives one sinless life, and dies one death for atonement of many. His name is Jesus, the one name under heaven by which men can be saved.
Jesus establishes the church through his disciples, His one Bride.
The Church is represented through many local churches in many nations. Jesus is the One Lord of all the local churches, all the denominations.
When the time is right Jesus will come again to complete the plan of redemption. He will gather His Bride from among the many nations.
There will be one city, the New Jerusalem, delivered from heaven.

Now it is fashionable today (and has been for, oh, 2000 years) to bash the Church. It's easy to look around at other churches and either be critical or feel inferior, just as it is with individuals. Jesus doesn't bash His Bride, and neither should we. Jesus doesn't abandon His Bride or somehow decide He doesn't love her anymore. Neither should we.

Pay attention when I say this:

Nowhere in Scripture does God command us to compare ourselves with others. Not as individuals, not as churches. Nowhere.

Satan is delighted when we get into comparison. Either he can encourage us into pride ("Hey, we're better than they are!"), or he can drape up with discouragement and despair ("We'll never be as good for the Kingdom as XYZ church").

What does Jesus command us to do? Very simply, we're commanded to follow him.

Let's look at Jesus' interaction with Peter in John 21. Jesus has just fed the disciples breakfast on the shore, given Peter clear instructions about feeding his sheep (the church), and explained that Peter wasn't going to die comfortably in his sleep. Then we see Peter's all-too human response:

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." (John 21:20-22)

I can picture Peter pointing at John as he says "What about him?" It's fun to think about John's reaction, but Jesus is direct and plain: "You must follow me." In the Glenn's Contemporary Version this would read, "What part of 'Follow me?' don't you understand?"

You might want to write "You must follow me" on a sheet of paper and tape it to your bathroom mirror, or above your desk at work, or in your car.

Let's help each other on this, ok? We don't need to compare ourselves to others, it's not helpful. It's not consistent with Christ in us! The issue -- today and every day, both as individuals and as a church -- is following Jesus. Let's not be surprised if Jesus calls us in different directions, as he did Peter and John. He's in charge of the whole Church, and directs each local church as He will.

"You must follow me." I pray that rings in our hearts!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Tour of the Temple

Justin Taylor provides a tour of the Temple during Jesus' day. This was a spectacular piece of architecture, and much larger than most people realize.

This is a nice resource for you as a teacher. Pay particular attention to the way Justin weaves in the devotion and life application, even on an architectural tour! That's worth emulating in your teaching approach.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How to Overcome Fear

One of the most common challenges for teachers is overcoming fear. I say "common" because it will grip every teacher at some time, no matter how experienced. Learn from this free report how to handle fear well.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Did Jesus Have Long Hair?

Do a Google search for images of Jesus, and just about every picture shows Jesus with long hair.

Probably not. Consider 1 Cor 11:14 and that fact that he was a laboring carpenter.

Was his hair golden? Were his eyes piercing blue?

A blue-eyed, blond-haired man in the land of Galilee would have could not have fulfilled Isaiah 53:2, since he would have been remarkable in a crowd. No, Jesus likely had dark hair and dark eyes.

Was his skin soft and pale?

Unlikely. Consider how much time spent outside.

I encourage you to use these questions sometime with you class, or for a devotion. Help people form biblically accurate pictures in their minds.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Facebook Fan Page

On Facebook? Check out additional information and join the community conversations at the Teach the Bible to Change Lives Fan Page.

I also have a personal wall on Facebook, but only "friend" people I know and interact with in person, with few exceptions. The Fan Page is open to everyone. I'm trying to put out updates there several times each week.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Time Sense

There are two reasons I think teachers should watch this presentation:

1. The content is excellent -- time sense is powerful and tremendously influences how people perceive information. Teachers need to understand this.

2. The presentation approach is extraordinary. We're not all artists like this, but WOW! what a punch! Imagine how much less enjoyable this presentation would be (and how much longer it would feel) if the visual presentation wasn't there.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Gratitude Celebration

We've recently passed a number of milestones which I can't imagine happening without God being at work:

* has been going for 6 years and 1 month now. I estimate that more than 1.4 million people have been taught by teachers influenced through this ministry.

* Recently the 20,000th person signed up for free email helps (e.g., teaching tips).

* 15,208 people have downloaded the free materials from, so we're on our way towards developing 400,000 new Bible teachers by 2021.

* I've made over 3000 blog posts on and

* We'll soon celebrate 23 years of marriage (I married WAY up!). Our youngest child is on the way to college, so we're about to be officially "empty nesters." Different stage of life!

In gratitude, I'm making two new training audio lessons available for free, and -- only until July 5th, a number of our products for Bible teachers are 50% off. Check it out at the Attitude of Gratitude Celebration page.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Communicate So They Pass It On

Picture here is the chain reaction of nuclear fission. One electron striking a U-235 atom yields to electrons coming out -- and it builds into a cascade. It's powerful!

What can you do this week as you prepare your lesson so that the communication is "cascade" strong -- it will affect not only the lives of those who heard you directly, but the lives of people around them, and so on, rippling out in life-transforming waves of Truth and Grace?

Teach to change lives!