Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What's Your Biggest Praise Right Now?

Two days ago I asked about your biggest challenge in teaching. Today, a different question: What's your biggest praise right now? Comments are open!

Monday, September 27, 2010

What's Your Biggest Challenge in Teaching -- Right Now?

I'd love to hear about your situation -- what's your biggest challenge right now? Comment away.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Did Adam and Eve Go More Than 45 Minutes Without Sin?

Michael Patton gives us a good example of thinking through a non-essential issue: how long did Adam and Eve live in the garden before the events at the tree?

(PG-13 warning on this.)

For some this will be mostly humorous, and that's ok. But as teachers we're often asked questions that we can't really know the answer to -- and Patton's approach is worth emulating.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thinking About Christmas Yet?

Teachers are always working in the tension of getting ready for the next lesson, and thinking out over months and years to provide people with information that helps them on their discipleship journey with Christ. It's not either/or, it's both/and.

It's already late in September -- have you given any thought about teaching for Christmas yet?

"Glenn, that's months away!"

Yes, but I encourage you to take some time to think, if only to make a few notes for yourself, about incorporating the spirit of Advent into your teaching in the months leading up to Christmas. Can you help people understand more about anticipation of the coming of our Savior Jesus? Can you help them grasp what it was like for Israel to wait for the Messiah for years and decades and centuries?

This anticipation is good for our souls! So foster it in your teaching this season. Sprinkle in an occasional comment or devotion. Whet their appetite so it will be deeply satisfied when Christmas is celebrated this year.

(By the way, January is the time to do this same exercise with Easter!)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Biblical Framework for...Politics?

Note: This is a cross post from my blog for men. I recommend this book for teachers because it's practical, speaks to many issues your students are struggling with, and will help you think more systematically about how to apply the Bible to contemporary and complex issues. -- Glenn

I've been working on a biblical framework for Christian views of government and political action on and off, for several months. This is the approach I use to systematically apply the principles and practices from the Bible to complex situations. (I wrote an ebook on how to create biblical frameworks if you're interested -- it's an important skill, especially for leaders and teachers.)

And then I heard that Wayne Grudem, a serious scholar whose work I've respected, especially his Systematic Theology, had a new book on this topic.

Wayne Grudem's Politics According to the Bible is subtitled "A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture." That's a huge claim, and after reading through this thick book (691 pages, including an excellent index), I think Grudem delivers on his promise.

I recommend this book to you. My thoughts on its strengths and and a few concerns, too:

The first three chapters in themselves are worth the price of the book (including the time to read it!). Grudem carefully describes "Five wrong views about Christians and government," "A better solution: significant Christian influence on government," and "Biblical principles concerning government." Like other books he's written, the arguments are cogent, firm but gentle-spirited, and begin with Scripture.

He fearlessly tackles specific issues, with contemporary events (this book was finished in Feb 2010): abortion, marriage, family, economics, environment, national defense, foreign policy, freedom of speech and religion. No fluff here. The subject index is excellent, by the way, and you're likely to use it. In some ways this book reminds me of Richard Baxter's A Christian Directory, a monumental effort to help families apply Scripture to every day situations large and small.

The writing style encourages you to think along and process information carefully. It's writing that fosters reflection, rather than being consistently preaching. (Don't misunderstand me, Grudem makes direct statements. He's not wishy-washy at all. But he writes in a way that won't shut off dialogue in your head, even if you're not completely agreeing with some part of his argument.)

The biblical principles are applied across many areas of political concern. Grudem pulls in multiple principles as a means of threading through complex situations. I didn't find an example where Grudem was inconsistent in how principles were applied.

Now, some concerns.

Many (probably most) of my Democrat or liberal-leaning friends are going to be infuriated if they read this book. With few exceptions, Grudem comes down towards conservative and libertarian perspectives. I suspect that my friends who are concerned about the environment will be disappointed in Grudem's heavy reliance on some work by Bjorn Lomborg, a respected but not universally-heralded scientist and statistician.

I hope that Grudem's approach (first, identify the biblical principles that apply, then apply them using logic and data) will keep these friends engaged. But if you consider the people who have written positive reviews, they're not the folks most respected by the political left. Still, I recommend the book for it's value and opportunity to promote careful thinking and dialogue.

The other concern that I have is for my conservative and libertarian brothers and sisters. It's a waste if they say, "See, the great Wayne Grudem has 'proven' our ideas are biblical," and don't understand his thought process working forward from Scripture. Grudem challenges a number of bad ideas about Christianity and the political right.

Am I going to finish my biblical framework? Probably not, though I won't throw out my notes. Politics According to the Bible does it better than I could have.

Note: The Amazon links above are not an affiliate link, I'm not going to earn a commission if you purchase the book.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Resources for Sunday School Leaders and Teachers

Our friends at The Sunday School Revolutionary have compiled a great list of online resources for Sunday School teachers and leaders -- including this blog. I'm honored, but check out the other great sites they mention.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Helpful Guide for Original Language Word Studies

I believe it's a critical skill for Bible teachers to be able to do basic word studies in the original languages of the Bible -- Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic. There are excellent free tools available now to help you with this.

But you need to understand there are ditches on both sides of the road, so learn how to steer correctly! Three things to check out:

Here’s an excellent resource explaining a 3 step process for doing word studies even if you don’t know Hebrew and Greek:

Here's a useful document giving coaching on word studies:

Watch me give you coaching on exactly how I use free tools for Word studies

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Teaching Those with Special Needs

My friend Marda shared this:

SPECIAL BEATITUDES for those who work with special people

BLESSED ARE YOU who take time to listen to difficult speech
FOR YOU help us know that if we persevere, we can be understood.

BLESSED ARE YOU who walk with us in public places and ignore the stares of
FOR in your companionship, we find havens of relaxation.

BLESSED ARE YOU who never bid us "hurry up" and more blessed, you who do not
snatch our tasks from our hands to do them for us
FOR often we need time rather than help.

BLESSED ARE YOU who stand beside us as we enter new and untried ventures,
FOR our failures will be outweighed by times when we surprise ourselves and

BLESSED ARE YOU who ask for our help
FOR our greatest need is to be needed.

BLESSED ARE YOU who help us with the graciousness of Christ.
FOR oftentimes we need the help we cannot ask for.

BLESSED ARE YOU when, by all these things you assure us that the thing that
makes us individuals is not in our peculiar muscles, not in our wounded
nervous systems, nor in our difficulties in learning
BUT in the God-given self which no infirmity can confine.

REJOICE AND BE EXCEEDINGLY GLAD, and know that you give us reassurances that
could never be spoken in words,
FOR you deal with us as Christ dealt with all His children.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Remembering Names

I really struggle to remember other people's names. I marvel at some people who seem to effortlessly do this, and have terrific recall.

Teachers, this is an important skill in ministry. Period. A person's name is perhaps the most important word to them.

Here are some tips to help you remember names -- I'm working on these, and encourage you to do so, also.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Training Pastors in Africa

This short story about the work of the International Bible Conference training pastors in Africa really encourages me. I suggest you check it out. An excerpt:

"The Pastor’s Conference emphasized “family,” teaching mostly from Ephesians 5. Again, hundreds professed faith in Christ and thousands were encouraged and strengthened by sound doctrine and expository preaching. Over 8000 copies of the MacArthur Study Bible were received with indescribable joy and commitment. Two pictures describe it best: after running to receive the Bible, pastors lifted both hands toward heaven and knelt in an open field giving thanks!
Imagine 8000 voices resounding with upraised Bible in hand, “I will study the Word. I will obey the Word. I will preach the Word!” Alleluia! The shout of praise shook the earth! "

For my efforts towards equipping 400,000 more Bible teachers, check out

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Biblia resource online

Biblia is getting some well-deserved attention. This is an ambitious project to make the Bible itself and many other resources available across computers, handhelds of all types, and phones. It's still in beta, but promising.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Stopping Gossip

Not only is the advice in "7 Ways to Stop Gossip" helpful, it would make for a nice devotion or lesson for your class or group.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Genealogy of the Bible

Here is a terrific resource, free, that I encourage you to bookmark as an online reference: The Genealogy of the Bible.

You can look up every person mentioned in the Bible, by name, by verse, by family relationships. I had some problems loading the interactive viewer for family trees, but otherwise it's fast and easy. It's based on the KJV text.

They also have one of the best articles I've ever seen on explaining the differences between the genealogy of Jesus in the Matthew and Luke accounts.

Great stuff, what a blessing!