Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Confidence from a known identity

“Who am I?” is a fundamental question. Each of us has a need for identity. Peter speaks to this need right away to the letter’s recipients in 1 Peter 1:1-2. He identifies them as strangers in the world (citizens of heaven living on earth—Phil 3:20), chosen as God’s elect to confess Jesus Christ as Lord and believe in him.

How does knowing one’s identity build confidence? Identity is valuable. Underscore this by presenting information about identity theft.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Acknowledge a secure salvation

"Acknowledge a secure salvation," 1 Peter 1:1-12.

What makes you confident? Where does it come from? What’s it based on? What is a common characteristic in the answers to the following questions? This should help members get ready to answer the question "What makes you confident that you are a Christian?"

What makes you confident that you’ll succeed?

What makes you confident that you can afford such-n-such?

What makes you confident about the future?

What makes you confident about a certain medical procedure?

What makes you confident in so-n-so?

What makes you confident that you can meet that schedule?

What makes you confident in that theorem?

What makes you confident that will happen?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Deliverance celebrated

For Step 4 of “What’s Worth Celebrating," the lesson plan offered by Jeff Meyer, from Bayleaf Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC, may help?

What occasions do you celebrate? I’m thinking of Anniversaries, Births, Birthdays, Engagements, Coming Home, Graduations, Holidays, Promotions, Weddings and other Special Occasions. Have you ever planned and implemented a celebration focused on God’s deliverance?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Quick victory

For Step 3 of this week's lesson "What's Worth Celebrating", I like the suggestion found in LifeWay Extra, written by Becky Imhauser.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Finding the one person who can help

Esther courageously advocated a legal means to spare her people in Esther 8:3, 6-8, 11, which is the point of Step 2 in “What is Worth Celebrating”. The resulting decree provided a way for the Jewish people to be spared.

We are a “nation of laws.” Explore what that means with members. Xerxes was a king, who ruled by fiat. Esther interceded with the one person that could actually help her. In our society, is it possible to find just one person that can help? Take an example issue and brainstorm with members how they might identify the right person to contact for help.

Monday, February 19, 2007

What is Worth Celebrating

My template for preparing the lesson each week? Ha! It may be good, or it may be bad based on how you use it, but I thought it worthwhile to share it with you. Do you have such a system to help you prepare each week?

1. Concept slide—a picture or graphic projected while the class gathers and is meant to establish a key idea related to the lesson in the minds of class members. For example, last week I used a slide full of excuses typically used by people to avoid getting involved in a difficult or risky task.

2. Title Slide—for example, this week it’s What’s Worth Celebrating, Esther 8:1-10:3

3. Impact slide—a story, a video, or whatever that’s used to grab people’s interest
(optionally I follow this with a slide that makes the impact personal to members).

4. Key Bible Truths to be covered in the lesson—if a I have a picture on a slide, I like for it to tie to the concept slide (#1) in some way so that the opening idea is not lost. (Optionally, I follow this slide with a “pop quiz” relating specifically to the verses we cover.)

5. Who is the lesson for—usually I rephrase the material provided in the LifeWay Leader Guide, and add my own listener identities

6. An overview slide—if it’s the first lesson of a book, then this slide is an overview of the book. Otherwise, it’s a brief summary of what’s been covered up to this point.

7. Title from step 1, and verses—perhaps include a picture relating to the concept established in #1. I read the verses, then step thru key points, observations, and bible insight.

8. Application from step 1.

9. Repeat #7 and #8 for each step in the lesson.

10. Identify a key verse and put it on a slide. Say why it is key as it pertains to the lesson title. For example, last week I used Esther 4:16c as the key verse because in it Esther said, “I will go”, which I thought exemplified the triumph of her courage.

11. Apply bible truth—I rewrite the biblical truths for spiritual transformation provided in the LifeWay Adult Leader guide.

12. Closing slide—usually a call to action.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Concluding “How Courage Triumphs”, the verse exemplifying courage seems to be Esther 4:16b, “I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” Esther said, “I will go”, and she did.

But the verse raises the issue of fasting. Prayer is not mentioned in the book of Esther, but fasting is. What is the New Testament teaching on fasting? Are you prepared to discuss it if it's raised as a question in your class?

For those wanting a more complete lesson plan, try what's provided by Jeff Meyer from Bayleaf Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Seeing justice done

Step 4 of “How Courage Triumphs” picks up with Esther 7:9-10, which records the king’s judgment on Haman. There are truly evil people in the world and one day they will be judged by a righteous King. Justice was recently served in the case of Saddam Hussein. Here are some other examples of seeing justice done in the UK. You got any better ideas?

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Step 3 of “How Courage Triumphs” is based on Esther 7:1-6, and is titled by the LifeWay materials as State the Facts. Sgt Joe Friday on the popular Dragnet series frequently intoned, “All we want are the facts, Ma’am.” Refreshingly, that’s all Esther communicated to the king.

Thurman Seber makes the point that we should not “embellish our testimony”. Exaggeration is a first cousin to lying. Stick with the truth! Here is a story that cleverly comes to the defense of bats, which we are inclined to detest. I point it out only because it illustrates how exaggeration can lead to wrong conclusions. What are some example exaggerations you see in the headlines this week?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Stand out, Stand firm, Stand together, Stand against, Stand up

Step 2 of “How Courage Triumphs” is focused on Esther 5:1-3, which the LifeWay material titles, Step Out on Faith. These verses detail the action that followed Esther’s plan stated in 4:16. She acted in faith leaving the results to God.

Tonight at church, we prayed for a young man leaving shortly to serve in Iraq. His service in the United States Air Force illustrates to me similar courage and fortitude to that displayed by Esther. He trusts God whatever the outcome. As Paul described in Phil 1:27-30, this airman is standing courageously for Christ as he risks everything to serve his country in a foreign land.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Social loafing

Reading about courage, I came across the story of Kitty Genovese, who was murdered and not one of 38 witnesses came to her aid. Would you have helped Kitty?

Below I posted pictures of the first few PPT slides I’ll use in my lesson on “How Courage Triumphs”. Do you know any social loafers? , For example, it is easy to coast in a community where there is no responsibility.

To motivate a solution requires that people first get to know one another. With the community using this site in mind, one solution alternative is to link to your personal websites off this site. If you post your personal website in a comment, I'll add it to such a list. I’d pray that the Lord makes it a long one!

Monday, February 12, 2007

How Courage Triumphs

When I first read the LifeWay material for the lesson “How Courage Triumphs,” it reminded me of Proverbs 26:27: “If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it; if a man rolls a stone, it will roll back on him.” Ironically, what Haman planned for Mordecai, happened to him. Politics aside we’ve recently witnessed the tables turned on press people as they are called as witnesses in a legal case.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cartersville, GA and First United Methodist Church in Newnan had at least three missionaries killed in a truck accident in Honduras this week.

These short-term missionaries were volunteers, Christians that risk a week or two away from home to make a difference for Christ in a foreign land.

Our pastor reminded us last night that there is no shortcut to the risk we take in living for Christ. The alternative is cowardice—a refusal to “chase after Jesus” in the race we run.

Here is a shortcut illustration. This post will cut short my blog this week due to unexpected travel and lack of Internet access. May God bless you as you prepare!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Working together?

Picking up on my post yesterday, to complete slide 4, the attention-grabbing opening, you could use the LifeWay Extra suggestion to select and present prayer requests of missionaries to illustrate how service is sometimes risky. If you did this, what would do to complete slide 5 on making it personal for members? Anyone want to take a stab at that? We could get sort of a group effort going here!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Fill in the blanks

To help this week, I thought I’d be risky and post PowerPoint “starter slides” for the lesson, “When Service is Risky”. You can download the slides and look thru them to see my initial suggestions for structuring the lesson based on the LifeWay material.

I left blanks on the slides where you can make specific entries as you prepare this week. If you want to post your suggestions here so that others can see your ideas for completing the slides, please do!

Monday, February 05, 2007

When Service is Risky

I regularly give an update on traffic to this site to demonstrate that many of you Explore the Bible teachers have a need for teaching ideas beyond what’s found in the good materials available from LifeWay. According to the chart, January ended with an upward trend in number of page loads (3,420), number of unique visitors (1,345) and number of returning visitors (592).

The last statistic is the one that encourages me most since an increase in returning visitors indicates greater numbers of visitors are finding the site helpful (else why come back?). However, the goal of this site, which has not been achieved (IMHO), is for teachers to inspire each other by sharing their illustrations, object lessons, or other teaching ideas in a positive way—sort of a virtual teachers meeting.

I’m not particularly interested in finding more Bible ‘commentary’ since I assume the LifeWay materials meet that need, or any number of other good sources. But if you have an idea of how to present your lesson that you’d like to share with lots of other teachers, please post it as a comment (or anywhere else on the web and then post a link to it here). Some of you have told me that posting is "risky service", but hey, it can't hurt, and it might help! Thanks!

This week we study “When Service is Risky”, based on Esther 3:1-4:17.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

This just in

A series of drawings that tell the story of Esther might interest you, or the movie Esther. I also uploaded my PPT slides for “When Life Turns Upside Down”. Hope these help someone!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Illustrating obedience

I don’t know what your thoughts are, but the key verse of the lesson “When Life Turns Upside Down” might be Esther 2:10. If Esther was anything, she was obedient. Why? She trusted Mordecai, so she did what he said.

I am thinking about illustrating obedience and the good that comes from it using an example of harnessing water power. Moving water (our will) flows along a channel (our listening/conforming to God’s commands) to operate (our taking action) a water wheel, for example. Following that, many good things happen. However, when water is out of it’s channel (our disobedient nature), destruction follows. What do you think?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Here we go rafting again

Step 5 of When Life Turns Upside Down focuses on Esther 2:16-17,21-23, or making the most of an unexpected opportunity. Esther became a queen. Her uncle Mordecai becomes a hero when he uncovers a plot to assassinate king Xerxes. The Bible says the king “loved” Esther. So he made the most of an opportunity—to actually love the beautiful Esther and not simply possess her as a “trophy.”

Be Ready When Opportunity Knocks makes some excellent points on times when “opportunity comes knocking”. For example, do you routinely let others know of your willingness to help them?

We posted last December about responding, “when opportunity comes knocking.” I still like some of the ideas for response to opportunities in the white-water rafting article.