Wednesday, January 31, 2007

To what end?

The Explore the Bible Adult Leader Guide, p 107 suggests reading an article about King Xerxes from the Biblical Illustrator Winter 2006-07 issue as background for teaching Step 3 (Esther 2:8-10) of this week’s lesson “When Life Turns Upside Down”. He was rich and powerful but failed in his attempt to concur the Greeks in revenge for their defeat of his father. Moreover, he was hot tempered and easily influenced by wrong advice.

Providentially, God put Esther in a position to also influence Xerxes in order to preserve the Jewish people. Not as dramatic, but as a young married couple, we briefly moved to Mississippi. Our daughter had a puzzling medical condition that previous doctors (a dozen) were unable to solve. Her new pediatrician diagnosed the problem correctly after only one exam. We thanked God and instantly new why He had allowed us to move to Mississippi.

If you ask someone to share a story of when God acted providentially in his or her life, follow up with the question “To what end do you think the events were allowed to transpire?” Surely, they should lead us to trust God in the midst of our circumstances.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Good coming out of a bad situation

Step 2 of “When Life Turns Upside Down” in this week’s Explore the Bible lesson is titled Accept Unavoidable Changes, and is based on Esther 2:5-7. Esther’s sacred name, Hadassah means myrtle tree, which has a bloom that’s used to make perfume. I’m sure Esther brought the sweet fragrance of a God-pleasing response to the unexpected events that occurred in her life.

The story of The Little Grass Hut illustrates how good can come out of a bad situation.

Monday, January 29, 2007

When Life Turns Upside Down

This week begins a series of “Explore the Bible” lessons from Esther. First up is “When Life Turns Upside Down (Mark Rathel’s commentary)”, based on Esther 1:1-2:23. From my perspective, study how Esther responded when her time came to meet with King Xerxes (2:15)? Did she follow one of these Seven tips for surviving sudden change? As a case study, also consider how Mordecai responded: (1) when his uncle died? (2) when Esther was taken away?

Friday, January 26, 2007

A page for all

The Baptist Start Page has lots of helps for teaching Nehemiah.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A handful for sure

Should Christians observe a day of rest each week? This article is spot on IMHO. Read it carefully to help you prepare to teach Step 4 of “Keeping Commitments”, which is based on Nehemiah 13:15-18.

This lesson is shaping up to be challenging because members will need to contrast New Testament teaching on tithing and observance of the Sabbath with that as taught in the Old Testament. Principle versus command, or how do you plan to treat the topic of tithing and Sabbath observance?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Cause and effect

If “Keeping Commitments” were not important there wouldn’t be so many new articles mentioning “lack of financial support”. Make a list of interesting, recent failures due to lack of support and use it to demonstrate the results of poor follow through by those who make commitments.

P.S. Also made me think of "running on empty" and "shoestring operations".

It occurred to me that the topic of "Should Christians tithe?" might come up as part of your lesson.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Cleaning house

Part of “Keeping Commitments” was to use the temple the way God intended. When Nehemiah returned he discovered the misuse of the temple. The obvious parallel is that Christians should not misuse the temple of the Lord today. It may be time for some personal ‘house cleaning’? See the house cleaning custom observed in Italy as an interesting illustration.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Keeping Commitments

My lesson yesterday worked out very well. Since the topic was 'issue' based, I decided in the end to approach it by asking members the question "What does the Bible say?" about valuing life. I opened the lesson with four scenarios requiring members to give their advice in each case. I followed each answer with a question, "What's the premise of your argument?". I must admit, this created some anxiety, but I received so many positive comments afterwards from members that I concluded the lesson was successful in getting members to think deeply about their positions regarding 'valuing life'. My lesson was followed by a seven minute presentation from the director of a local CareNet facility, and her talk was well received, too. I hope you had good success, too!

This week's lesson, "Keeping Commitments" concludes our study of Nehemiah. This video shows how "good intentions" may not be what they seem.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Valuing Every Life

Here are my PowerPoint slides for Sunday's lesson, "Valuing Every Life".

Hope I'm not posting them too late to be of use to you!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Last year

I went back and read "Live in Respect" on this blog, which was last year's "sanctity of life" lesson . If you teach a class with older members you may want to consider using it.

Years ago I memorized Psalm 139 as a means to understand the fear of the Lord and to meditate on the nature of God. We respect the Lord when we live obediently, and aware of God's presence at all times.

One idea I've had for teaching this lesson is to use a Q&A method that tests how well members are able to interpret and apply Scripture in a moral argument against abortion, euthanasia, embryo stem-cell research, etc. For example, consider the Scriptures cited in support of these Texas SBC resolutions. Are the Scriptures being interpreted according to good hermeneutical principles? The idea is to challenge members to rightly interpret the Bible's teaching regarding the sanctity of life.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

God accompanied Noah

Step 3 of “Valuing Every Life” continues application of Psalm 139 to the issue of the value God places on each life. You might consider using the Truth video in your class.

An inspiring story to share with members is that of baby Noah, an embryo rescued from Katrina flooded New Orleans. Wow! He can always tell of how God providentially cared for him. Here is another account of Noah’s birth.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Step 2 of “Valuing Every Life” focuses on God and His knowledge of each of us as revealed in Psalm 139. I watched the National Geographic film Multiples this past Sunday and the video of what goes on in the womb is amazing. It made clear to me how a child in the womb feels, sees, and hears. Interestingly, in twins, for example, one twin becomes aware of and knows the other twin long before they are born.

Films from Sermonspice based on Psalm 139 might be useful to you in preparing Sunday’s lesson.

I don’t know about you, but I'm struggling to prepare for this lesson since I don't know what I can teach that everyone doesn't already know--the national tragedy of aborting 45 million children since 1973 is incomprehensible.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Valuing Every Life

This Sunday is a special lesson entitled “Valuing Every Life” that corresponds to “Sanctity of Life” Sunday. This resource kit might be useful to you.

May God have mercy on us.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Good idea!

Ron Moore of First Baptist, Clarksville, TN is doing a daily email devotion Monday through Friday of each week. According to Ron, they are short, easy to read, and have a challenge for each day.

The devotions are related to the Explore the Bible Sunday School materials, using the same scriptures as in the lesson. If you are interested in getting the devotions link to “first things first”.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Taken seriously

When we blurt out, “I mean what I’m saying!” we do so in sincerity if we want to be taken seriously. When we say something like, “Can I talk to you about a matter that’s on my mind?” we do so in sincerity if we want the other person’s undivided attention. Can you think of other situations where you want your sincerity to be clear? For example, when you write a business letter, you end it with “Sincerely,”.

In Step 4 of “Rededicating Lives”, the Israelites wanted to indicate the sincerity of their recommitment to God, so they made an agreement and on which they placed their personal seals. Read Nehemiah 9:38, and 10:28-29. What do you do to indicate that you mean business with God?

Google, or Yahoo! “Service Agreements” and you’ll see lots of examples that underscore business relationships in today’s world. Here is a list of general components in a service agreement. Thought question: Would you be willing to complete and sign a service agreement with God?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Step 3 of “Rededicating Lives” comes from Nehemiah 9:1-2, which describes how the people repented publicly because of their encounter with God when his word was read aloud by Ezra. Essentially, their confession was a public demonstration of their collective private experience where they agreed with God about their sinful condition.

Zacchaeus offers a good example of public confession in the New Testament (Luke 19:7-9). If you need help capturing the video for playback in class, let me know.

How do you plan to illustrate repentance and public confession on Sunday?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Relationship vs Faith

In “Rededicating Lives” from Nehemiah 8:1,5-6,9-10, Step 2 highlights a change in the Israelite’s form of worship from that of only making ritual sacrifices to that of also reading of God’s word publicly.

This triggers a question. As you practice your Christian faith, which is more central to obedience: a focus on your personal relationship with Jesus Christ or regularly reading the Bible?

Obviously, both are critical, but I wonder if we don’t sometimes put our focus on ‘personal relationship’ and neglect Scripture?

What is the role of reading Scripture in practicing your faith?

P.S. The results of last week's poll indicate that most of those who visit this site are teachers. Thanks for participating! Management

Monday, January 08, 2007

Rededicating Lives, Nehemiah 8:1-10:39

This week’s lesson “Rededicating Lives” is timely because we all fail and need to be reminded to confess our sin and recommit personally to God’s service. When a Christian sins, fellowship with the Lord is damaged even though the guilt of personal sin is eliminated through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. As background for this lesson read Nehemiah 8:1-10:39.

A Christian friend of mine likens the Church in America today as “one giant baby nursery”. “Christians are simply refusing to grow up and mature in Christ,’ he claims. Ask class members to think critically about my friend’s statement. Have them explain why they would agree or disagree with his assertion.

P.S. I'll remove our poll tonight (see right side of page) and report the results tomorrow, so if you have not participated then today is your last chance!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Manipulation today

Step 5 of “Devising Strategies” is based on Nehemiah 6:11-13. Nehemiah recognizes an attempt to ruin his good name. He wants to obey the Law and not sin (fears God) rather than run and hide.

I didn’t know the speculation that Nehemiah was a eunuch? Did you?

Are you beyond being manipulated today? Explain. How is your credibility as a teacher put on the line Sunday after Sunday?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Know thy enemy

Taken from Nehemiah 6:2-3, Step 4 of “Devising Strategies” illustrates how evil adapts its tactics in an attempt to thwart God’s purposes. However, Nehemiah didn’t negotiate with it (evil). Instead, he demonstrated he knew and understood his enemy very well.

How well do you know your enemy? Are you easily distracted by it (evil), or do you recognize it for what it is and refuse to fall prey to its tactics?

Have members name common distracters in their lives. Email? Phone? Radio? TV? How do these divert them from doing what they set out to do? Watch this video to see how even a baby can be distracted.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Devising defensive strategies

How do you respond to intimidation? Do you take steps to enhance your security (Neh. 4:12-13, 19-20, 22)? How do you prevent an intimidator from controlling you based on your responses?

The Lifeway Explore the Bible material offers an example of winning a game by a good defense (p.67). In football, for example, both teams constantly adjust their game tactics in response to each other’s actions. Both teams have the goal to win the game.

Computer security requires an adaptive defensive strategy against virus software.

How do you plan to illustrate Step 3 in this week’s lesson “Devising Strategies” ?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Trash talk'n

While reading about how Sanballat taunted Nehemiah and the Jews in Nehemiah 4:1-2,4, I thought about today’s practice of “trash talk”. Read about “woffin” and “sledging” and consider using these means of taunting today in your discussion of Step 2 in this week’s lesson “Devising Strategies.”

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

This site began in May 2005 and ended 2005 with an average 300 monthly visitors and 82 returning monthly users who looked at roughly 1,000 pages on average. Looking at the chart, this site ended 2006 with a good increase in these same average statistics! We had an average of over 400 returning monthly users out of an average 1046 unique visitors looking at over 2600 pages on average! Wow! Thank you Lord!

It is a blessing to discuss teaching God’s Word in a community of other believers who are interested in the LifeWay Explore the Bible lesson series.

Please participate in the poll to find out “what we do/how we serve” in our local church.

May 2007 be a great year for all of us—pray for the Lord’s return.

We are studying Nehemiah 4:1-7:73 this week in a lesson called, “Devising Strategies”.