Friday, November 30, 2007

PowerPoint for "Affirm God's Good Plan" Genesis1-2

Please feel free to download my slides for “Affirm God’s Good Plan”. I placed some notes in the PowerPoint notes section of each slide so that you can follow the sources I used to compile the slides. I plan to show the videos mentioned in the lesson blog this week. Don’t be overwhelmed! You can teach this lesson!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Good plans

Milo Baptist Church offers an abbreviated plan for this week’s lesson, “Affirm God’s Good Plan”, our first from the book of Genesis.

Cynthia B. Price, member, Watson Chapel Church of Pine Bluff, also commented on “Affirm God’s Good Plan” in the Arkansas Baptist News. I like her mention of “Health care plans, 401K plans, vacation plans, diet plans, house plans” because she contrasted their design “by humans supposedly to make life better” with God’s best plan for man created “in the beginning”. To help get members thinking about “plans”, you could post up a slide that mentions these various plans and discuss how they are designed to help make life better.

Also, commenting on this lesson, Mike Dawson, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church, Columbia, TN, offers the “ABCDEF” formula for remembering what God did on each day of creation. That might be useful to teach members.

I’m teaching out-of-cycle this week, so I’ll try to post the slides for my plan late Friday. For a laugh, see the photo in this “good plan” for an alternative automobile power source.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

In God's image

If you are interested in creating a lesson plan, consider using the teaching ideas in the study questions posted by Sonshine for: “Affirm God’s Good Plan”.

To help make the point of man’s uniqueness in Step 3, consider using the video: “Made in God’s Image” as you cover Genesis 1:26-28.

Another way to do this step is to start by showing a number of pictures of different animals (ostrich, ant eater, etc.). Point out how each is unique in the animal word. Then show a picture of a human family (or of a man and woman), and point out their uniqueness of being created in God’s image. What was God's purpose in making humans in His image?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It’s a God thing!

Step 2 of “Affirm God’s Good Plan” is titled, “Value the Good”, and is based on Genesis 1:1, 31. In reference to creation, it is important to reaffirm “God did it”. Jesus did (Matthew 13:35, John 17:24, Mark 10:6), and so should believers.

Many members want to believe in creation, but the world’s teaching of “big bang” and evolution confuses them. How do you plan to address their confusion? What can you do to encourage believers to accept the Biblical account?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Off to a good start

We kickoff our study of Genesis with a lesson titled “Affirm God’s Good Plan,” based on chapters 1 and 2. What is a “good plan”? How do you evaluate a plan?

Here is an illustrative “good plan” to help you get “off to a good start” on your lesson preparation this week! If you find a good lesson plan idea, consider posting it as a comment on this blog so that other teachers may benefit from it!

As I read thru the lesson material, it occurred to me that members might question their place in God’s plan. They can’t show appreciation in this matter unless they accept God’s creative plan and put their trust in Him. It is exciting to be part of God’s plan!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A tweak, or two

I posted a slightly updated version of my slides for “On Mission”. I only tweaked the wording in few places, so it may not be worth downloading it again.

Friday, November 23, 2007

"On Mission" PowerPoint Slides, Matthew 26-28

I’m posting early since I’m traveling to a location where I will be without Internet access. If I update my slides, it will be late Saturday. I’ll let you know.

Before covering Matthew 28:5-10, consider playing this Land Rover “Breathe” commercial. Ask members what activity they engage in that makes them “feel alive?”

Here is the first draft of my PowerPoint slides for the LifeWay Explore the Bible lesson, “On Mission”.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Inadequate qualifications

Many members feel inadequate to carry out the Great Commission as described in the lesson, “On Mission”. Effective missionary work is an impossible job if attempted in human strength. The ultimate results rest with the Lord.

This article describes what’s needed to accomplish a so-called “impossible job”, that of an art museum director. The desired qualifications simply can’t be found in one person.

How would you describe what’s needed for class members to be effectively involved in missionary efforts?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Have the time of your life

Thinking about Matthew 28:18-20, I want to bring to your attention the Finishers Project, which is a web service designed to help adults get involved in short-term, or permanent mission projects. Consider speaking to your class about it as a means to help members get involved in accomplishing the Great Commission. You do not have to log in, or sign up to view a great deal of what opportunities are available.

Ask members about the origin and meaning of the phrase, “Have the time of your life.” This sounds in opposition to Christian service, but at, it seems that the two can be combined.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The numbers don't lie

Jeff Meyer’s comments regarding “On Mission” mentions the value of a human body, and he asks what price would you place on your own life? To the Roman soldiers that flogged, mocked and crucified Him, Jesus was just another Israelite to put to death. His life mattered little to them.

To make the point of how little the world really values a person’s life, consider reading portions of this satirical news story from The Onion. The humor highlights how little a person’s life amounts to if measured according to worldly standards.

Monday, November 19, 2007

On Mission, Matthew 26:1-28:20

Taken from Matthew 26:1-28:20, the lesson this week is titled, “On Mission.” Although it may take too long, consider having members quickly search for something they have forgotten, or something they have not seen before that’s in the background passage. Afterwards, have them volunteer and discuss their observations. This exercise causes members to read the Bible personally, which is a great way to start a lesson. This gets us out of the way and allows for the Holy Spirit to work in individual lives!

I noticed, for example, Jesus said three times, “You have said so” (26:25, 26:64, and 27:11). This was equivalent to Him saying, “Yes, it is true.” In another example, the disciples asked, “Is it I, Lord?” (26:22), whereas Judas asked, “Is it I, Rabbi?” (26:25).

I also plan to cover 26:36-46 since Jesus asked the disciples to “watch with” him (26:38), but they failed to do so. We have all failed the Lord, which causes me to want to lead the class in prayer following these opening exercises. In praying, confess disobedience and ask forgiveness and for commitment to choose to do His will in our lives.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ask them

Merriam-Webster defines relevant as “having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand.” I believe all Scripture has relevance for all people, so given that, “Can you speak to how Matthew 25:41-46 is relevant to a believer in the here and now?”.

When you read this passage, your class may want to talk about unbelievers, but the point of the lesson is to encourage believers to get “Involved in Ministry.” In what ways does the above passage motivate members to get involved in ministry? Ask them that question, and see what they say.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How to make this lesson interesting?

As bible teachers, we are focused on teaching God’s word clearly and accurately, but we also want our lessons to be interesting and relevant. The lesson, “Involved in Ministry” is very relevant, but how do you plan to make it interesting?

Let me invite you to get 'involved in ministry' by sharing your ideas for making this lesson interesting with other teachers. Simply hit the “comments” link below and type away. Now, how hard is that?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Avoid ambiguity

It's imperative that bible lessons be clear, otherwise, misunderstandings about critical doctrines happen. Step 2 of the lesson, “Involved in Ministry” is based on Matthew 25:31-33, and it may NOT be clear to members when this judgment takes place. Also, the basis for the judgment may NOT be clear. It would be a mistake to claim that the sheep go into eternal life because of their works, or ministry, or service. The righteous enter eternal life not because of works of service, but as a result of new birth by God’s grace. The judgment in Matthew 25 separates believers from unbelievers, and the later will experience eternal separation from God in Hell.

However, if you want to discuss it, there is a judgment of rewards, which is based in part on service.

To insert some humor in the lesson and to make your point about understanding the focal passage, either share some of these Church Bulletin Bloopers, or share selected ambiguous English statements from this collection.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Experiencing God's love

The focal passage for “Involved in Ministry” is Matthew 25:31-46. How is your class “involved” when it comes to ministry? Attendance in my class is about 57% of the active membership, and about 34% are involved in class mission projects. You can see that we have need of this lesson!

Harry Leafe defines love as a choice, a steadfast commitment toward the well being of another. John’s question in 1 John 3:14-19, “…how can the love of God be in him?” implies that we can experientially know God’s love if we chose to demonstrate love toward those in need. The presence of this love is an assurance of our salvation (v 19).

By not participating in ministry work, class members forego experiencing God’s love in their life. Assuming they have experienced the new birth of salvation, they may not have grown in fellowship with God. Why?

Understanding the opportunity to experience God’s love in the here and now is one way to encourage Christians to take hold of service opportunities God puts before them. What else would you suggest?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Involved in Ministry, Matthew 25:31-46

My revised lesson yesterday was well received. One divorced person remarked after class, “Our church readily ministers to divorced people, and it was good to emphasize other teachings in those passages.”

Since I have never been divorced, I’m unqualified to comment on the appropriateness of the LifeWay lesson from that perspective. However, as a bible teacher, I was more than happy to teach the importance of edifying the saints thru bible study in Sunday School.

This week we tackle another multiple-chapter lesson, which is based on Matthew 23:1-25:46. A staff member said to me, “We never really grow until we go.” How true that is. We must put faith into action; otherwise, all we have is head knowledge. As a start, I recommend Jeff Meyer’s lesson plan for “Involved in Ministry”, the title of this week’s Explore the Bible lesson from LifeWay.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A place for all to grow, Matthew 19-22 Powerpoint slides

With a theme underscored by “What should church be?”, the lesson title that makes sense to me is something like: “A Place for All to Grow”, or “A Place for Christian Edification”. The church is a place where Christians grow by studying the bible together.

I included four steps, (1) Outgrow Making Simplistic Assumptions, (2) Grow in Heavenly Mindedness, (3) Learn to Count on the Lord, and (4) Practice Faith Through Prayer. This arrangement allows me to discuss most of the elements of the background passage, which I prefer. I hope my PPT slides for this lesson will be useful to those of you who decide to venture beyond the LifeWay lesson, which discusses only Matthew 19.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Edify the saints

The LifeWay question underscoring the theme of Unit 3 is “What Should a Church Be?”. Champion Forest Baptist Church, where I worship, is a local body of baptized believers who have agreed to worship Jesus Christ together, edify believers, evangelize the lost and minister to others.

These points correlate pretty well with the four LifeWay lessons in Unit 3, except their plan omits “edify believers”. A church should be a place where believers grow as disciples. At a minimum this happens through preaching, teaching and committed study of God’s Word. In other words, growth in Christian maturity is NOT automatic, and believers come together for worship, bible study, prayer, and fellowship in order to grow more Christlike.

The background passage this week is Matthew 19:1-22:46, and I think it offers a wonderful opportunity to edify the saints in godly thinking, contrary to that of adopting a worldly viewpoint.

Instead of the title: “A Place for All”, I suggest a lesson title of “Grow in Godly Thinking,” or alternatively, “Abandon Worldly Viewpoints.” I selected key verses that correspond to Jesus’ interactions with the disciples during the period marked in the background passages. These appear below with a first draft of how I would title the lesson steps.

Step 1. Matthew 19:10-15 Challenge first impressions
Step 2. Matthew 19:23-30 Be heavenly minded
Step 3. Matthew 20:1-16 Count on the Lord
Step 4. Matthew 20:20-28 Prepare for persecution
Step 5. Matthew 21:20-22 Seek godly understanding

Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind as I put my slides together, but at least I'm settled in the approach I'll take! I’ll post my slides tomorrow, Lord willing. As always, I’d like you to chime in with your suggestions. God bless!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Rock and a hard place to be

Dr. Sam Tullock outlines the background passage for the lesson, “A Place for All”. As usual, his insight is a good read. For more detailed commentary I refer you to Dr.Alan Ross’ exposition on Matthew. Click the “next page” link at the bottom of his pages to read from chapter 19:16 to 22:46.

The teacher in me is frustrated with this lesson. It is impossible to cover four chapters of Matthew in a Sunday morning lesson. Many great passages won’t even get a sentence spoken about them much less insightful treatment. Much of Matthew’s gospel will be ignored. Is it satisfactory to simply apologize to members? What am I to do? What do you advise?

Before I post my slides, I’d like to hear from you. If some teacher asked your advice on this, what would you say?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Most valuable asset

A Place for All” is based on Matthew 19:1-15. On Sunday, I’d like not to omit key passages in the background chapters 20, 21, and 22. How to accomplish this is tricky.

The lesson could quickly turn into a survey if too much is included, but deviating from the LifeWay lesson focus potentially short changes members who took time to read the Quarterly in advance. I also don’t want to discount the many hours in prayer that I know this lesson received during preparation at LifeWay.

None of the alternatives are satisfying, but Sunday’s coming, and Lord willing, we must be prepared. What approach are you taking?

I return to Sonshine’s questions again, which focus on the interaction of the rich, young ruler with Jesus. If you take that approach, consider setting it up by asking members to identify their most valuable asset. Reputation? Career? Health?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Discipleship focus

I’m struggling with teaching this week’s lesson, “A Place for All” since the background passage includes so much material. As I mentioned yesterday, a number of the usual commentary sources deviated from the planned LifeWay lesson. I like Sonshine’s questions for this week, which focus on the demands of discipleship.

I hope you are making some headway in your studies this week!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Breaking the rules

Co-teacher Curt did an excellent job yesterday teaching Matthew 18, employing an analogy of the extremes on the rating scale used in many large companies to rank people in an annual personnel review. Curt taught not only the points made by Jesus, but he also highlighted the teaching method used by Jesus.

This week’s lesson “A Place for All” will be difficult to teach since the background includes four chapters, Matthew 19:1-22:46. David Self’s commentary tackles all four chapters. Mark Rathel’s commentary: “The Sanctity of Marriage”is limited to the first six verses of chapter 19. Travis Frampton’s comments focus on an application, which he titled, “The Call to be Jesus”.

Jeff Meyer’s lesson plan is more like what LifeWay planned. His question: “When someone eats fruit from their grocery cart without buying it first?” captures the crucial idea of the importance of behavioral norms in society. I recommend reading Jeff’s comments and introducing your lesson with a discussion of his question to get members thinking about “breaking the rules”.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Teaching Insights

LifeWay is offering a new email newsletter called Teaching Insights for the Explore the Bible Lessons. Reproduced below is my first receipt from their list server (if you are interested sign up here).

After reading it, I thought of Ecclesiastes 7:10, which says, "Do not say, 'Why were the old days better than these?' For it is not wise to ask such questions."

Nevertheless, I appreciate their efforts to help us better teach the Bible!

Nov. 4: A Caring Community
Many of you are seeing the fall leaves turn and spread their beautiful colors across the landscape. But is there anything more beautiful that a church that is active in expressing love within its membership? That's what this week's lesson is all about.

Look for ways to act in love toward your Sunday School members as November begins.

Blessings,Dan Kassis,
Internet ProducerLifeWay Sunday School

Unit: What Should a Church Be?
Lesson: A Caring CommunityScriptures: Matthew 18:6-7, 10-22

Many of us like to hear stories about the "good old days," when communities were smaller and more closely knit. We yearn for the times of former generations when people didn't lock their doors, kept their car keys in the ignition, and could walk on their streets at any time of night. If a child did something wrong, his mother heard about it before he even got home. Sick people and widows were cared for and looked after. Those in need found themselves fed and warmed by neighbors' love and gifts.

Interesting, isn't it, that this is really a picture of what the church should be? Back in the "good old days," more people went to church regularly, so their communities reflected the church's values. But even though fewer people in our neighborhoods attend church today, we can still pour those values into the people with whom we live, work, and play. This week's lesson reminds us that, as we in the church care for one other, we reflect the love of Jesus to a hurting world.
Give your learners an opportunity to share how the church has come to their aid in the past - even in small ways. Be sure to get to the heart of how these acts of love had spiritual impact. Use these stories to suggest people in your church today who might have similar needs and could benefit from your involvement.

If you feel those in your class are mature enough to handle the conversation correctly, consider allowing one or two learners to share how a church might have mishandled a disciplinary issue in the past. Be sure this discussion does not devolve into gossip or slander. Discuss how this issue should have been handled according to the directives Jesus gave in this lesson's Scripture passages. Consider what might have been the outcome if God's Word had been used as the final authority in this matter. Ask what your class members learned from these situations and how the Lord has helped them to grow as a result.

Consider Peter's question about forgiveness in the context of his eventual denial about knowing Jesus during His appearance before the Sanhedrin. Discuss how Jesus put His own teachings into practice after His resurrection and encounter with Peter by the lake. Ask your learners if there is any sin that has been committed against them that is greater than Peter's denial. Encourage those who still harbor resentment or bitterness toward an offending believer that Jesus' power of forgiveness is with all of them.

As you close this week's lesson, challenge your learners to look for new ways to care for other believers. Tell them to seek the Holy Spirit's direction in this area and ask Him for the courage to obey His movement in their hearts.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Repairing a crack

I once had a pastor who wisely refused any practice of church discipline. He said if he ever started it, he didn’t know where to end it. But church discipline is not the precise topic of Matthew18:15-20, the passage behind Step 4 of the LifeWay lesson “A Caring Community”.

The area of application seems to be focused on resolving disputes between believers. I thought of it as a process for “repairing a crack in a relationship’. How does this compare to the process of “reparing a crack in stucco?” The repair may look like an ‘interstate roadmap’ if too much caulk is used. The photo illustrates my point. Likewise, if done incorrectly a relationship might be worse off after an attempted reconciliation.

Discussion of this passage in the LifeWay Adult Leader Guide is not very satisfying. I never get a sense that the writer feels these verses are applicable in today’s church. What are some specific example situations where they should be put to use? Help!

Members might be better served by focusing your discussion on verses 19-20 since they are misunderstood. I direct you to Jeff Meyer’s commentary for a sound presentation on these two verses.