Thursday, April 24, 2008

Peace about your lesson plan

In his blog, John Vandiver comments on the lesson, “When Presented With Challenging Tasks”, which is based on - Genesis 41:1-57. He brings to the lesson a point about misjudging people.

In his lesson plan, Jay Hancock raises the issue of an individual's self-esteem, which he describes as controversial.

Sonshine offers a series of thought provoking questions for this lesson. She summarizes its aim as an opportunity to gauge our growth in Christ by measuring our content with waiting on God.

As you can see there are many ways to approach this particular Bible passage, so what should you do? When I’m unsure of how I will approach a lesson, or what exact points I will teach, I get somewhat anxious. However, as I prepare, I settle down once I start to have my own plan in place (which may draw from other people’s ideas). I pray that you are on your way to a plan for this lesson that you have peace about!!

P.S. Due to travel next week, I’m unsure if I will be able to blog. :(

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Put off the old, put on the new

Jeff Meyer of Bayleaf Baptist Church posted his lesson help for "When Presented with Challenging Tasks". His verse-by-verse commentary calls attention to Joseph shaving his beard before he meets with Pharaoh in keeping with Egyptian custom. He also changed his clothes. You might say Joseph "dressed for the part".

Later, Jeff's commentary highlights the ceremonional steps Pharaoh took to present Joseph in his new role. I think there are parallels here for believers to consider when they are presented with the challenging task of living the Christian life. Read Ray Stedman's devotional on Ephesians 4:22-24a, and see how this point might be used in your lesson.

You can carry this as far as you like: wear an old, tattered shirt to class, and change into a new shirt at this point in the lesson.

Monday, April 21, 2008

When presented with challenging tasks, Genesis 47

Co-teacher Curt did yeoman’s work teaching the lesson yesterday. He took time to put it into context, and then carefully worked thru the truth and application of each focal passage. He ended with a nice summary. I hope your lesson went well, too!

Proverbs 22:29 came to mind as I started reading this week’s lesson, “When Presented with Challenging Tasks”, based on Genesis 41:1-57. Joseph was skilled (at interpreting dreams), and he served before Kings—Pharaoh.

As you read chapter 47, take note of how much and how fast Joseph must have impressed Pharaoh. It’s incredible that so much responsibility would have been turned over to him so quickly.

One way to start this lesson is to share the story of a man who made a huge impression and got the job.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What do you do while you are waiting?

In the lesson, “When all hope seems lost” we are to learn that patience is necessary. Joseph had to wait 2 years before the cupbearer remembered him before Pharaoh. He trusted God, but what did he do during that 2-year waiting period?

A suggested list of “Things to do while you are waiting” offers us tips on what we can so while we are waiting. Ask members call out their answers to, “What do you do while you are waiting ______?” Select a few situations (fill in the blank) and suggested tips from the article and see how they compare to the answers given by members.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Seeking help restores hope

In the backgroud verses for Step 4 of “When all hope seems lost”, I found it interesting that Joseph ask the cupbearer to remember him before Pharaoh, but he didn’t ask the same favor of the baker. Obviously, Joseph knew from interpreting the baker’s dream that he would lose his head, and thus, it was futile to ask the baker to remember him before Pharaoh. This suggests to me that Joseph used discernment about the individuals from whom he might seek help.

So we need to avoid asking the wrong person for help, which results in “barking up the wrong tree”. We need to ask the right person, but we need to do it the right way.

Although the contexts are vastly different, consider adapting tips from the article, “The Art of Getting Help” (scroll down and read the part by Phil Agre) to see which ‘tips’ Joseph used. Did he use any not in the list suggested by Agre?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Serving restores hope

“Son, your dad will never leave this hospital alive.” These were shocking words. It was a Friday and I was desperately trying to find anyway that would enable my father to live longer. The doctor’s words came in response to my begging him to perform surgery to remove the cancer. I urged him to do anything that might help my father live. All hope was lost when the doctor refused (for good reasons, which I now understand and appreciate).

I spent the weekend with dad to be with him, to help comfort him, and to encourage him. Sometimes he would wheeze out, “How am I doing?” I’d tell him, “Great, I’m proud of you!” On Saturday, I pushed him around the hospital hallways in a wheelchair, and he worked out a smile for people as they passed by. On Sunday, I told him stories about going to the Texas State Fair with him as we looked out the over the Fair grounds in south Dallas, high up from our perch in Baylor Hospital.

Dad died that next Wednesday.

Looking back on this dark time in my life, I can understand that serving my father that weekend eased the pain of watching him die. It was an honor to wake at night and help him to the restroom, or get him a glass of water, or help him in some small way. At times, he joked and we laughed together. I was encouraged when I left on Monday.

Step 3 of the lesson, “When all hope seems lost” focuses on the need to help others when we are in a hopeless situation. Doing so restores hope. How can you help members appreciate this truth?

Monday, April 14, 2008

When all hope seems lost, Genesis 39-40

Since we only had 20 verses to cover yesterday, I taught without PPT slides and received some positive feedback from people that perceived a greater personal interaction than when I do use PPT. Perhaps the PPT slides become a distraction? I walk a fine line to prevent PPT from becoming the focus of attention, but I don’t always succeed. How about you?

The lesson this week, “When all hope seems lost” is based on Genesis 39:21-40:23. The origin of the phrase “grasp at straws” gives insight into its meaning—trying to find hope in a bad situation.

wikiHow tells us how to avoid making a bad situation worse, but what does the Bible tell us? Let’s dig in and find out what God’s word says!

Friday, April 11, 2008

New lesson blog

A new blog (to me) commentary on “When Tempted To Sin”, by Nick Smith of Village Baptist Church of Fayetteville, NC.

Another lesson plan in the form of a series of questions is given by Chester Baptist Church, Chester, IL.

Lastly, lesson plans by Jay Hancock and Russ Rosser of Carmel Baptist Church in Matthews, NC may be of help to you.

I'll use a minimum amount of PPT this week since we only have to cover 20 verses.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Soft pillow

David Self’s commentary on, “When tempted to sin,” mentions the adage: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” when he relates the injustice suffered by Joseph. The origin of that saying is interesting because it also notes the companion saying, “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned.” Both statements describe ‘unparalleled anger’. In the case of Hell, the simile of a woman’s scorn is used.

In the case of Heaven, a person is not used—but love is turned to hatred without the example of a person. One might be tempted to adjust the saying to include a person, for example, Heaven has no rage like Satan turned (I have in mind when Satan rebelled against The Almighty). I don’t know if this appropriate, however, since Satan is no longer a resident of Heaven.

Gene Fant’s commentary on the lesson mentions a saying attributed to R.A. Torrey regarding Romans 8:28, which he likened to “A soft pillow for a tired heart.”

Perhaps you should carry a soft pillow to class on Sunday and ask members to identify a promise verse they rely on in times of trouble like a soft pillow.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Underlying motivation

Gregory Pouncey suggests, “When tempted to Sin”, to start the lesson with 10 characteristics of integrity. My sense is that his plan is focused on the sin of adultery, although he also explores the issue of injustice. Joseph was a victim of injustice, but surely Potiphar’s wife was the one more tempted?

Joseph was suddenly dropped into the strange new culture of Potiphar’s house. What survival tips would you have given him? Have a positive attitude? Be patient—help is on the way? Adjust, realize that things will never be the same as they were back home? Make the best of the situation—you’ll get over it? I ask this because I want the class to discover Joseph's underlying motivation. What do you think motivated Joseph to act the way he did?

Monday, April 07, 2008

When Tempted to Sin, Genesis 39

As indicated in Genesis 39, Joseph was tempted to sin numerous times by Potiphar’s wife. The lesson we can take from this is what we should do “When Tempted to Sin.” Joseph also faced many different types of temptation to sin after his brothers sold him into slavery, and later after he was falsely accused. How do you handle temptation?

For one strategy of dealing with temptation, see the previous entry Choose in Advance. Determine not to sin well in advance of the temptation. Prepare an escape plan to avoid the destroyer. Avoid small compromises. That is, don’t give Satan even the smallest beachhead. Keep your eye on your heavenly goal—don’t be sidetracked.

You could show these five steps to avoid temptation and ask members which ones work best. Ask them if the steps are foolproof? Why?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Group exercise

Commenting on “When Others Hate You”, Gene Fant notes Pink’s 100 similarities between Jesus Christ and Joseph. Twenty one are found in Genesis 37-38, our background passage this week. An interesting exercise would be to divide your class into groups and either have them search for the 21 similarities in Genesis 37-38, or give them the similarities and ask them to find the corresponding verses. Either one would get members into the scriptures.

P.S. For those who do not have Microsoft Word, you can download a free Word document reader that allows you to view, print, and copy .doc files such as this Genesis 37 lesson plan from Jay Hancock.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

10 ways to recognize a jerk

Gigi Sykes’ commentary on “When Others Hate You” (the lesson this week from Genesis 37) describes Joseph as a jerk. Here are 10 ways to recognize a jerk. What’s your take, did Joseph measure up to be a first rate jerk?