Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Poll results

Below is a chart showing the results of our poll on lesson commentaries and helps that regularly appear on the web. I don't think too much can be concluded by examining the results, but thank you for participating!

My church is not having Bible study classes the next two weeks, so I'm going to take a break from blogging. May God bless you with a merry Christmas celebration of the birth of Christ and a fun welcoming of the new year!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Time person of the year

Click here to download my slides for "Follow Godly Spiritual Leaders".

I'm sorry I posted these too late to be of help to most of you, but maybe you can critique them anyway?

I noticed that ordinary people were named as 'man of the year' by Time Magazine. Thanks for contributing to this blog. We are a very, very small part of what happens on the web, but we are a part, and for that we are thankful!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Diamond level support

Step 4 of “Follow Godly Spiritual Leaders” is based on Ezra 10:1-5. Ezra needed to be encouraged after hearing about the unfaithfulness of the exiles. The people did this by confessing their sin and supporting Ezra as a leader.

Watch this video to see how one member encourages her spiritual leader.

I read a previous post on this blog about Spiritual Leadership. Ask members to send a note of encouragement to a Godly leader that has helped them know God better and they can recognize God at work in their lives.

You could show a picture of a diamond where the facets are clearly visible, and then label the facets with actions members can take that demonstrate support for a leader. The diamond’s value increases when the facets are cut correctly and then polished to perfection. Our support for Godly spiritual leaders can be rated on a scale ranging from a lump of coal (lowest) to a diamond (best).

Thursday, December 14, 2006


In reading Ezra 9:1-2,4 for Step 3 of “Follow Godly Spiritual Leaders”, I was reminded of how our actions negatively impact not only our lives, but also the lives of those around us. For example, Ezra was devastated by the unfaithfulness of the exiles.

Simply put, ungodly behavior devastates the lives of others. Only God is righteous, however. May he have mercy on us and remake us to will and to act according to His good purpose.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Interview a leader

For step 2 of “Follow Godly Spiritual Leaders”, consider interviewing one of your church’s pastors during class in a talk-show, host-guest format. Place a couple of stools in front of members and announce your guest. Both of you should take a seat and appear relaxed. Prepare a list of questions in advance (also share these with him so he’ll be prepared). Spend no more than 15 minutes. A sample list of questions follows. If you have some you’d like to suggest for our consideration, please post them!!

Start by saying, “Thank you [insert name] for agreeing to let us interview you today. As we just read in Ezra 7:8-10, God had his hand on Ezra and Ezra made choices to follow God’s word, and teach it to others. He was called by God as a leader of the people of Judah.”

1. Tell us how you became aware of God’s call on your life.

2. What did you do to prepare yourself for ministry?

3. Could you share with us a particular leader that you admire today and why?

4. May I open it up to members and allow them to ask you a question or two?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Follow Godly Spiritual Leaders

Our church has called a new pastor—Dr. David Flemming. He will start his ministry the first Sunday in January 2007, so this week’s lesson, “Follow Godly Spiritual Leaders” is particularly appropriate for members of Champion Forest Baptist Church. The lesson is taken from the last four chapters of Ezra.

One way to organize your lesson is to start by telling members that you want them to think of possible applications as you present an insightful review of the lesson chapters. Present your review (Have someone in the class help read selected verses, so that other voices are heard aside from yours), which shouldn't take more than half the allotted time for class.

Then apply the scriptures by asking members, “How do these chapters of Ezra apply to us today?” Then, as they are lead, allow members to speak about possible applications. Play off their comments and ask follow up questions. This should create good discussion about the verses as well as how they apply today.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Doing the Lord's Work

Co-teacher Curt tells me, “We are doing the Lord’s work,” and that encourages me. I hope it encourages you. When we teach others what we’ve learned about God and His word, remember the Holy Spirit is the person really in control of learning. Yes, we prepare, make lesson plans, and pray about our classes, but in the end it is God that speaks His word thru the Spirit to the hearts and minds of learners (including us) to draw people to Him. We can have absolute confidence in God on this point. Keep truck’n and may God bless you!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

God given goal

A good example of working with confidence in God is William Wilberforce's “confidence in God's power and purpose to end slavery through his efforts.” Share Wilberforce’s example in Step 4 of “Working with Confidence in God”. A powerful question is this, “What personal mission from God are you endeavoring to complete?” We must have a God-given goal wherein we can work with confidence in God.

Completing it will bring a time of joy. Wilberforce went home to be with God just three days after his four decade long struggle to rid England of slavery. Surely there was a party in heaven that day!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Make your intentions clear

The lesson “Working with Confidence in God” targets strengthening our confidence when serving God. Using Ezra 4:24,5:1-5, Step 3 deals with opposition from Persian rulers when the Jews were rebuilding the temple after the exile. When facing opposition I remind myself of Eph 6:11-13. However, what encourages me most is to remind myself of who I am in Christ.

As I read the material for this step, I thought about the need to make our intentions clear. We face opposition sometimes when our intentions are misunderstood. For example, the Samaritans believed the Jews intended to establish national boundaries in existence prior to the Babylonian captivity. However, the Jews were only rebuilding the temple as Cyrus degreed. Has there been a time when your intentions were unclear, and that misunderstanding lead to opposition of your efforts?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Stymied again!

I’ve been curious about what gave rise to the hatred between the Jews and Samaritains (eg. John 4:9). The passage from Ezra 4:4-5, comprising Step 2 of “Working with Confidence in God,” gives insight into the matter—the Smitarians discouraged the Jews and bribed officials to frustrate their rebuilding plans. David Self’s commentary on the lesson offers some needed background to understand the racial hostility between these two groups of people.

The word stymie used to describe an interesting golf shot, but it’s also used to mean hinder, or block accomplishment. How do you relate to people that deliberately stimie your progress? Do you end up hating one another as the Jews and Smaritians did?

Have your good intentions ever been stymied by someone? Has your career been stymied by a particular boss? Do you keep trying or simply quit? Do you seek wisdom from a leader, from Scripture, or simply ‘wing it’? Do you consider good alternatives, or get frustrated?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Let go!

I thought about the phrase "cry Uncle" while I was reading the material for this week's lesson "Working with Confidence in God", which is based on Ezra 4:1-6:22. Perhaps discussing the origin of the term might make an interesting introduction to the lesson? See Please Release Me (scroll down the bottom of the page).

Below a quote taken from a post on Wordwizard Clubhouse.

"The expression variously appears CRY/HOLLER/SAY UNCLE! and is an Americanism which is a request for a concession of defeat – to beg someone to stop, to surrender. UNCLE is the verbal concession the defeated party is require to say before being let go. But no one knows its origin for sure, so all we actually have is educated guesses [however, the journal ‘American Speech’ under Cassell’s and the 1980 quote (see below) is probably the most authoritative]. It first appeared as a schoolyard expression in around 1900 and began to be used figuratively by mid-century.
Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins
UNCLE!: ‘To say’ or ‘cry uncle’ has since the beginning of this century meant ‘to give up, to surrender, to say you’ve had enough.’ Apparently it is of schoolboy origin, at least it is most used by schoolboys when fighting, especially when one has another pinned helplessly on the ground. For about 30 years the cry ‘give’ has been more common in the New York City area, but one still hears the earlier expression. [[From personal experience, I can tell you that in N.Y.C. ‘give’ goes back at least 50 years]]. Why ‘uncle’ was chosen by kids is anybody’s guess; there probably is no good reason unless a defeated boy originally had to curse his uncle, just a s bullies often make their victims curse their mothers and sisters before letting them go. Which is no more than a guess. ‘Cavy!’ a similar expression not heard anymore, is said to date back to Tudor times, a corruption of the Latin ‘peccavi,’ meaning ‘I have sinned, I am wrong.’
Random House Dictionary of America’s Popular Proverb’s and Sayings
SAY UNCLE Surrender! This expression originated in the United States in about 1900. Lexicographer Charles Earl Funk [[of the Funk and Wagnall dynasty]] thinks that the phrase may have some Latin connection. When a Roman boy was in trouble, he cried ‘patrue mi Patruissime’ (‘Uncle my best of uncles’). CRY/HOLLER/YELL is a variant, which is always used figuratively.
Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang
CRY/HOLLER/SAY UNCLE verb [1910s and still in use]: To beg someone to stop an action, to surrender. [“‘uncle’ in this expression is surely a folk etymology, and the Irish original of the word is ‘anacol’ (‘anacal,’ ‘anacul’) ‘act of protecting; deliverance; mercy, quarter, safety,’ a verbal noun from the Old Irish verb ‘aingid,’ protects.” (from ‘American Speech’ LI, 1976)] [[see 1980 quote below for fuller statement]]"

Saturday, December 02, 2006

When opportunity comes knocking

I was thinking about how to close this lesson in a meaningful way. Life presents all of us a series of opportunities that we react to based on a number of different factors. What opportunities matter to you? Which ones are too big to turn down? Are there some that you just can’t pass by?

We have friends whose home was destroyed by Katrina. As soon as it was permitted our friends returned to New Orleans to begin rebuilding their home. Just as the Hebrews wanted to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple, our friends were eager to rebuild New Orleans and their home.

You can search Google News for stories concerning rebuilding N.O. or a home there and share it with your class. As an aternative, here is a link to a secular article that uses white-water rafting to illustrate aspects of responding to opportunities in life.

The following bar chart shows the usage of this site as determined by Statcounter.com. What happened in October is a bit of a mystery, but in November, returning visitors continued to rise. For this I am thankful! I appreciate all of you who visit here and encourage me. Thanks to all who help make this site a place where Bible teachers can help each other prepare.