Monday, April 30, 2007

Intentional growth

A believer's spiritual growth must be intentional, it won’t happen automatically, or even stay in stasis. This first lesson: “Growth is intentional” from 2 Peter 1:1-11 teaches us to take responsibility for our own spiritual growth. Are you one to make excuses? Or do you like to blame others? Taking responsibility requires that we do neither of these.

One time when I wanted to coast for a while an old coach said to me, “You’re ether growing or dying!” He was right. Jesus said, “Whoever has will be given more, and whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” Believers are given understanding of the gospel, but they must make every effort to grow spiritually. Do you take responsibility for your spiritual growth or do you make excuses?

The question I have is this: why are we apathetic about growing in spiritual maturity? Do we not understand the benefit? Are we satisfied only with salvation and ignorant of a great inheritance? Are we conditioned to take only what comes easy and discard that which requires effort? Why do we spoil by inaction a better life?

I’m just starting to study this lesson, and praying that God will teach me what needs to said this Sunday. I hope you are excited about studying 2 Peter, too!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Humbling experience

Commenting on “Act with Humility”, Dr. Sam Tullock wondered why Peter included the phrase: “a witness of the sufferings of Christ”. He speculates that Peter recalled his own human weakness and the “circumstances of his greatest failure.” After emphatically declaring he would rather die first, Peter denied knowing Christ three times before the cock crowed just as Jesus predicted.

How humiliating that must have been for Peter. It’s said that others taunted him by whispering, “cock-a-doodle-do” as he passed by.

Hearing this mocking makes me weep at the thought of my own failures, but I thank God for a loving Savior—Jesus Christ.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Firm up

Step 4 of “Act with Humility” is based on 1 Peter 5:8-14. These verses highlight a promise of what God will do to help suffering believers. My summary is that he will firmly equip believers, give them a firm resolve, put them on a firm foundation, and stiffen them spiritually for whatever persecution lays ahead. The words firm and stiffen stand out.

Hairspray comes to mind as a possible tool to illustrate this. Gusty wind persecutes the best coiffure. Using hairspray, both women and guys (now days) firm and stiffen their hair before venturing outside (where windy torments abound). Help me out here. Is this an idea with any merit?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The way to humility

Alfred Ellis offered twelve ways to humility, which I can no longer find on the web. Below is a copy I made about two years ago. Many people asked for copies of this slide after I presented it. Taking these steps will help us “Act with Humility”.

1. Routinely confess your sin to God. (Luke 18:9-14)
2. Acknowledge your sin to others. (James 3:2, James 5:16)
3. Take wrong patiently. (1 Peter 3:8-17)
4. Actively submit to authority…the good and the bad! (1 Peter 2:18)
5. Receive correction and feedback from others graciously. (Proverbs 10:17, 12:1)
6. Accept a lowly place. (Proverbs 25:6,7)
7. Purposely associate with people of lower state than you. (Luke 7:36-39)
8. Choose to serve others. (Philippians 1:1, 2 Corinthians 4:5, Matthew 23:11)
9. Be quick to forgive. (Matthew 18: 21-35)
10. Cultivate a grateful heart. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
11. Purpose to speak well of others. (Ephesians 4:31-32)
12. Treat pride as a condition that always necessitates embracing the cross. (Luke 9:23)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Act With Humility

This week is the last lesson from 1 Peter, entitled “Act with Humility”, and it’s based on 1 Peter 5:1-14. A past lesson “avoid arrogance” (opposite of humility) with PPT slides may give you some alternate ideas for teaching this week. Another past lesson from Hampton Road Baptist Church teaching us to “Consider Others” (with PPT slides that I used) may also be helpful in your preparations this week.

Also, here are some past blog entries, which mention “humility”, or “consider others”. These verses from 1 Peter also present an opportunity to discuss Baptist church polity, but that may take the lesson in a different direction.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Stay Focused ... PPT Slides

Click here to download the PPT slides I plan to use Sunday.

I won't have time tomorrow to update them, but if you have an idea to improve the presentation, please post it!


Thursday, April 19, 2007

The end is in sight

It’s hard to keep going. You’re tired, discouraged, almost overwhelmed, but the “end is in sight”, so you persevere living as a Christain. You operate in the Lord’s strength and live according to His will for His glory. This is what I understand 1 Peter 4:7-11 to say.

You might share insights learned by “keeping on, keeping on” to reenforce the idea that we grow by learning to persevere.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Grow in maturity

Several of the commentaries on this week’s lesson mention the idea of ‘urgency’ due to Peter’s opening remark: “The end of all things is near.” This lesson can help us grow in maturity, which we urgently need to do. Why? The maturity we enter heaven with is all we will ever have, and Christ’s return is near, so we need to get busy growing.

Yesterday I mentioned Kathryn Aragon’s Suffering Quotient Quiz, which she proposed as a means of demonstrating how we react, not how we should respond. I think I’ll use it immediately after I set the context for God’s purposes for us.

To learn to respond maturely in stressing situations, we should discipline ourselves to think before we act and feel (TAF). A friend once taught me not to feel, act, and think (FAT). That’s a reaction. Here is a page discussing TAF, but it is not written from a Christian perspective.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Suffering Quotient

Staying focused is another element of this week’s lesson “Stay Focused on God’s Purposes” that demands some context. If you Google search “How to stay focused” you get pages of recommendations on how to stay focused at work, at school, etc, but an article written in the 1600’s tells how to spend a day with God. I like its message on our ultimate purpose (1 Corinthians 10:31), which coincides nicely with 1 Peter 4:16.

I also like Kathryn Aragon’s quiz to measure our “Suffering Quotient”. And her message on how we should respond verses react is important, too. It fits with James’ admonition for Christians to operate in wisdom from above.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Stay Focused on God's Purpose

The lesson title this week “Stay Focused on God’s Purposes” begs that we set a context of “God’s Purposes,” which needs to be narrowed down to what's relevant for this lesson. You might consider asking members to identify God’s purposes in 1 Peter 4:7-19 as you read the background passage. Have an assistant list these on a marker board as they are called out.

Richard Dodge, writing in the LifeWay Extra, offers a suggestion to open the lesson with a discussion of the meaning of “fan” which leads to the idea of “fanaticism”, but I don’t know if this is a good thing since Peter the apostle suggested that Christians should be zealots in doing good (1 Peter 3:13).

Friday, April 13, 2007


1 Peter 4:6 presents another difficult verse to interpret. I like the insight given by Dr. Grant C. Richison, of Campus Crusade for Christ and former Baptist pastor. His reference to Peter’s focus on the “historic past” makes sense. His underlying principle “Christians face an altogether different future than the lost” should strengthen a believer’s resolve, especially one in the midst of persecution for Christ’s sake. Even though they lost the game, this coach is happy with the team’s resolve. Makes me wonder if Christ is happy with my resolve.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Tim West, pastor of Hornsby Baptist Church, Hornsby, TN, suggests an interpretation of 1 Peter 3:19-20 that “presents some extreme difficulties” according to the LifeWay Adult Commentary (p. 77). Mark Rathel, professor of theology at The Baptist College of Florida, carefully dissects the passage to conclude that Jesus did not descend into Hell.

1 Peter 3:21 can also be misunderstood to imply that baptism is a sacrament. However, baptism is representative, or symbolic and is a pledge of obedience following repentance and confession of Jesus as Lord. Salvation is by the grace of God through faith, a gift from above.

How do you plan to present these difficult to interpret passages in your class so as to avoid confusion?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What hope do you have?

LifeWay’s Adult Extra, by Richard Dodge, for this week’s lesson “Prepare for Suffering” highlights how people take offence by statements that are politically incorrect by today’s standards. He indicates how Jews were possibly offended by the gospel in Peter’s day, which led to Christian persecution and suffering.

How do you react to stories like Christians are losing America? With what hope can we encourage each other? How is Christian hope different from wishful thinking?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Measuring device

I like David Self’s sports preparation analogy in his commentary on this week’s lesson, “Prepare for Suffering”. No matter what our endeavor is, we prepare in advance for what eventualities may come. Christians are taught that they will suffer for Christ’s sake (eg. 2 Tim 3:12, 2 Cor 1:5, Rom 8:17, Phil 3:10), and Kathryn Aragon does a good job of helping us understand how to prepare.

Reading her comments makes me think of displaying a variety of measuring devices (say a ruler, a balance scale, a weight scale, etc.) and have members say which device is useful for what problem. Afterwards, ask how should we measure ourselves regarding our actions and our motivations, for example, are we people pleasers? Do we adhere to God’s Word? Do we apply wisdom of the world, or the wisdom of God? Consider a recent incident in your life and your response. What measuring device did you use?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Prepare for Suffering

Bayleaf Baptist in Raleigh, NC posted a bit of LifeWay material for this week’s lesson “Prepare for Suffering”. On cursory analysis, we prepare for suffering using the same strategy we’d use to prepare for any coming difficulty. For example, a bear prepares for winter by storing body fat in the fall. From a spiritual perspective, what reserve does a Christian strengthen, or store believing that persecution is sure to come?

The short answers are to prepare by assimilating God’s Word, establishing Christian friendships, and maintaining a close walk with Jesus Christ. All of these will contribute to sustaining faith when difficult times come. A handout similar to this one might be a helpful tool for this lesson. Members could complete it as you teach.

Sonshine posted an in-depth set of study questions for this lesson, and Manchester Baptist Church, Manchester, MO, posted the shorter list below:

About what should Christians be passionate? (3:13)
For what might others ask Christians to give a defense? (3:15b)
Where is Jesus now? (3:22)
How should believers live the rest of their lives? (4:2)

In a sense, we are always preparing for some eventuality. How are you preparing to teach this week’s lesson? Do you rehearse your lesson presentation?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Interesting visuals

I’ve been looking for interesting (and accurate) PPT slides concerning Luke 24 that you could incorporate into your lesson. Slides from Barry Chant give an Easter account with some interesting visuals.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Share New Life

Well, last Sunday my class responded exceptionally well to the lesson, “Exercise Submission’s Power”. Also, there were 65 downloads of the PPT slides posted on this site, which I hope you found useful.

This coming Sunday we will not have Bible Study given the size of our congregation. With only two Easter services on Sunday morning, the parking lot can’t hold all the cars that would be needed if people attended one worship service then stayed for Bible Study while another group attended the other worship service.

Given that I won’t blog about the lesson, “Share New Life” except to note various helps posted on the web, such as the study questions posted by Cornerstone Baptist in Arlington. Manchester Baptist Church, Manchester, MO., posted more study questions.

Here are some notes on the lesson posted by the pastor of Pickles Gap Church of Conway, AR.

I’ll keep looking!

Happy Easter!